June 14, 2008
Movement for Democratic Change President, Morgan Tsvangirai
ZIMBABWE lurches deeper into crisis as President Robert Mugabe’s government menaces the opposition and its supporters in the walk-up to a second round of elections at the end of June. TIME’s Megan Lindow interviewed Mugabe’s chief political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, by phone.
Tsvangirai spoke a day after he was detained twice in a single day by Zimbabwean authorities on Thursday. During the interview the MDC leader sounded somewhat tired after his ordeal, which ended late Thursday night, but he nevertheless sounded focused and determined.
TIME: You were detained twice yesterday, and Tendai Biti [secretary-general of the MDC] is now being charged with treason. What does this mean for the MDC and the runoff
Tsvangirai: I think the facts are obvious — that the intention is to decimate our campaign, to slow down our mobilization and to frustrate the leadership. It is obvious that they realize they have lost the people, so the only thing to do is to frustrate the opposition.
TIME: What do you say to those who are calling for this runoff to be scrapped, claiming that there’s no way the election can be free and fair, and urging you to form a joint government with Mugabe?
Tsvangirai: This is democracy on trial. Do people want democratic change, or do they just want accommodation of a loser? Why did we go into the election if that was the case? We could easily — before the election — have negotiated a government of national unity without having had to subject people to this violence. Now my view is that there is no basis that the runoff should be scrapped, because no one has got the legal constitutional power to scrap it. The conditions are not free and fair; in fact, the conditions are so hostile for the opposition that talk of an election under these circumstances is ridiculous. So I think that what is important is to go ahead with the runoff, see what the international observers can do to mitigate against some of the extreme cases and just get down to resolve the issue. Perhaps that will be the way of resolving the issue.
TIME: Are you disappointed by the response of the international community up until now, since it hasn’t come up with a stronger response to your claims of rigging and intimidation in past elections? What are the signals you’re getting from the international community, and how much of a difference will that make going into the runoff?
Tsvangirai: I don’t think it’s lack of effort. I think it’s just that they’re dealing with a man who is defying international opinion, a man who believes he doesn’t have to play according to universally accepted standards of behavior. So you’re really dealing with a dictatorship. So the international community, short of intervention, has done all the diplomatic pressure they can apply on the country. The Zimbabwe issue has attracted the international radar for a long time … but, you know, [this is] Africa, where armed conflicts are prevalent. In Zimbabwe there is no armed conflict, but it is state-sponsored violence that has caused so much suffering. They treat it differently. [The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Red Cross] … the way they treat people displaced internally is different from a war zone.
TIME: After the first round of elections in March, you told TIME that the country was entering a new phase, which was about the transfer of power and easing Mugabe out of office. Do you still see it like that? How has the post-election violence changed the game?
Tsvangirai: It still remains the focus. It is the transfer of power. It’s a contest for power now; it’s no longer about voting in terms of what percentages, et cetera. It still remains. How do we transfer power from a man who believes he has got the divine right to rule forever and who does not respect the will of the people, because the will of the people was expressed clearly on March 29, and it will be reaffirmed again on the 27th of June. But still the remaining question is, Will he concede? Will he accept a smooth transition? That still remains a vexing question.
TIME: You’ve been detained four times since returning to Zimbabwe [after six weeks of seeking support in Africa and abroad following the March poll], your supporters are being attacked and you’re essentially being prevented from campaigning. How badly has the MDC been weakened since the March elections?
Tsvangirai: There’s no way you can underrate the impact of this violence, especially in the rural areas. But we are really encouraged and inspired by the will of the people to finish off what they started on March 29. Were it not for the will of the people and the claim by the people that we can’t look back, one could have said, “What’s the point of continuing this campaign?” But for the sake of those who have died and been traumatized, I think it’s the fulfillment of their wish to have this change that has kept us in the field and that will keep us fighting on.
TIME: You’ve said that the military is essentially in charge in Zimbabwe now. What do you have to gain, beyond showing once more that this is a regime that is determined to keep itself in power now, no matter what the Zimbabwean people want?
Tsvangirai: We want them to say that. We want them to act that way, because then they will have removed any residual legitimacy they had. In fact, they should act to that extreme, and then they will have exposed themselves. And I’m sure that the South African Development Community and the African Union and the whole international community will see the military junta that is in place for what it is.
TIME: Looking beyond the election: Assuming that Mugabe rigs the vote and wins or that you win but the military tries to prevent you from taking power, what do you plan to do?
Tsvangirai: Well, our plan is always to fight on. It is not a defeatist attitude, and anyone who suggests that we are going to give up because the military has refused us power, that we will just give up and forget about it — we will not do that. We will isolate the regime until they realize that what they are doing is unsustainable. So the struggle continues.
TIME: Is there any way to come away from this election without more bloodshed?
Tsvangirai: There is no reason any Zimbabwean should lose his life because of political differences. So, as far as we are concerned, we should actually realize that it is a futile exercise to lose lives because one wants to stay in power and yet pretends to be running an election.
TIME: Clearly you don’t have support from the military’s top brass, but what about the rank and file in the army, which seems to be increasingly against the regime?
Tsvangirai: In most of the military establishment, people voted for the MDC. [So] I think it is obvious that the rest of the military as an institution does not agree with what is taking place, but they can’t do anything because of their command structure … I have no doubt in my mind that this is just individuals, for their own selfish motives of power and money.
TIME: Will the rank and file take action in some way, at some point?
Tsvangirai: I don’t know. That I can’t tell, lest I am accused of inciting. I don’t want to be tried for treason again.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
13 June 2008
Sources in a number of locations in Zimbabwe said paramilitary forces
closely tied to the ruling ZANU-PF party and liberation war veterans have
imposed dusk-to-dawn curfews in many regions, and have set up roadblocks to
Sources in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, said militia and war
veterans have virtually cut off most rural areas in the province. Sources
said parts of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central,
Masvingo and Manicaland provinces have been similarly cut off from the
Suspected ZANU-PF militia in Mashonaland West province fire-bombed the homes
of former Chegutu mayor Francis Dhlakama and an unsuccessful house candidate
in the Chegutu East constituency, Gift Konjana, according to spokesman
Nelson Chamisa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. He said
members of the ZANU-PF youth militia burned the home of Chegutu West
candidate Takalani Matibe.
A source in Norton, Mashonaland West, said four opposition activists were
arrested Friday and eight others were injured in skirmishes with ZANU-PF
Opposition sources said Dadirai Chipiro, 45, was buried Wednesday, five days
after she was burned to death at her rural home in Mhondoro-Ngezi. Reports
said her killers cut off her hands and feet before casting her into a
MDC security secretary Giles Mutsekwa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the curfews and roadblocks imposed by the
militia have crippled party operations two weeks before the presidential
June 14, 2008
By Our Correspondent
LONDON - The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute [IBAHRI]
has called for the immediate end to the unlawful detention of Eric
Matinenga, an eminent Advocate of the Zimbabwe High Court and opposition
Member of Parliament.
The authorities have kept Matinenga in police custody despite a ruling by
the Zimbabwe High Court on 8 June ordering his release.
The IBAHRI said it was alarmed that the director of public prosecutions and
the investigating police officers had refused to comply with the court
"Mr Matinenga's continued detention is a violation of both Article 18 of the
Zimbabwe Constitution and international standards concerning the treatment
of uncharged prisoners," said Mark Ellis, executive director of the
International Bar Association. "Mr Matinenga is being punished for the sole
reason of having campaigned against state-orchestrated political violence.'"
The IBAHRI stated that the conditions in which detainees were held in
Zimbabwe are very poor and that Matinenga's lawyers had been denied access
to their client, in violation of international law. Matinenga is being held
in prison in the town of Rusape in the eastern province of Manicaland.
The IBAHRI called for officials defying the court order to be investigated
and held accountable for their actions. 'The defiant disregard of a valid
Zimbabwe High Court order by police officials is a flagrant violation of the
rule of law,' stated Mr Ellis. 'The world is watching as people in Mugabe's
regime violate international law with impunity. We continue to support the
efforts to ensure that those responsible for egregious human rights
violations in Zimbabwe will be held accountable.'
Matinenga's attorneys have filed contempt proceedings against the police
officials for failure to comply with the High Court's rulings.
The police accuse Matinenga, who represented MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai
during his sensational treason case, of incitement to public violence.
"He has been arrested. It's the same case," said police spokesperson Wayne
Bvudzijena, referring to the case on which Eric Matinenga had been cleared.
"He has been charged with incitement to public violence."
An MDC spokesperson said three officers picked Matinenga from his home.
"No reason was given, but the men said they were taking him first to the
fraud squad, then to Buhera," Nelson Chamisa said. "This harassment and
intimidation have reached unacceptable and alarming levels."
The police say they suspect Matinenga of paying opposition activists who
went around his rural constituency attacking supporters of Zanu-PF party.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 05:39
BY MXOLISI NCUBE
HARARE - The military junta has announced the beginning of yet another
operation designed to oppress the people of Zimbabwe.
Under Operation Dzikisai Madhishi (pull down your satellite dish) the
regime is forcing Zimbabweans to pull down their home satellite dishes
through which the majority have been able to access eTV, SABC, Botswana
Television and DSTV channels. The coverage of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) is generally poor. The overwhelming propaganda content of
this state channel has seen the proliferation of private satellite dishes in
"This operation is a concerted effort by the regime to close all
spaces through which information can be disseminated, with the objective of
stealing the election.
Zimbabwe has descended into unparalleled levels of media censorship.
The regime is determined to cut off Zimbabweans from the rest of the
world by ensuring that they are unable to receive news from outside Zimbabwe
about what is happening in their own country," an MDC spokesman said.
Operation Dzikisai Madhishi comes after the launch of Operation
Makavotera Papi (how did you vote) which has seen the unleashing of
horrendous acts of politically motivated violence against MDC supporters
since the March 29 elections.
Operation Dzikisai Madhishi began in Matebeleland South last week and
has now spread throughout the country. It is being undertaken by elements of
the Central Intelligence Organisation, police, army and youth militia.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 05:16
'The illegitimacy of this regime will certainly be confirmed if Mugabe
declares himself a winner'
Since the 8th of April when the military plan was unveiled, this
country witnessed a defacto coup d'etat and effectively is now being run by
a military junta. As a people we have been exposed to state sponsored
brutality. The violence continues unabated.
66 people have been killed, 200 people are still unaccounted for, 3000
in hospitals, and over 25,000 internally displaced. We have also witnessed a
continuing trend of targeted attacks on our candidates, party leadership,
and members. The structures of our party have been decimated with our
polling agents remaining prime targets.
As a party we condemn violence in all its forms and wish to state that
no single person should die on account of political differences. We won this
election and therefore only the loser has a score to settle with the masses.
This is why ZANU (PF) has setup bases across the country. Mugabe and his
wife have been shedding crocodile tears by visiting MDC victims of political
violence when his militia man are in fact the authors and perpetrators of
In particular we want to condemn the role of Commissioner General
Augustine Chihuri who has refused to carry out his duties. Chihuri is
accountable for protecting ZANU (PF) thugs and creating a partisan culture
of policing. We sympathize with those members of the police who have been
humiliated, beaten, and violently tortured simply because they had refused
to act on unlawful instructions.
Of late a group calling themselves vana vevhu has presented a position
where they wish to repeat the land grabs of 2000. This group claims their
patron is Grace Mugabe. What is clear is that Robert Mugabe wants to repeat
the chaotic and violent land grab by unleashing this group on the people
while confessing ignorance. We know that this is a preemptive strategy
designed to undermine the will of the people in the face of yet another
This is the political environment prevailing in our country 17 days
before the run-off election.
ZANU (PF) is also circulating a fabricated document purportedly signed
by me and the secretary general of our party. This document misrepresents
our party's policy on land in particular the role of whites in a future
Zimbabwe as well as the armed forces, civil servants, and ex combatants. A
core campaign has been created to misinform our traditional leaders on the
issues l have mentioned above. We wish to restate that our party has clear
policies on land, and the need to keep our army and police force
Against this background Robert Mugabe is making every effort to create
a situation where he emerges the winner and therefore is making a concerted
effort to undermine the Zimbabwe electoral commission by employing militia
and soldiers as staffers.
We are aware that there is an attempt to abuse the postal vote system.
We are also aware that there is an attempt to undermine those security
forces right to a secret ballot. Through its campaign on terror unleashed on
people mainly in the rural areas, ZANU (PF) has forcibly withdrawn national
identity document from some of our members. For some their documents were
destroyed together with their property as their houses were burnt. It is
clear that ZANU (PF) strategy is a dooms day strategy.
The illegitimacy of this regime will certainly be confirmed if Mugabe
declares himself a winner.
There has been growing momentum on the question of a government of
national unity. Speculation is rife on this issue with some saying
negotiations are taking place. Others say the agreement has already been
signed. Nothing can be further from the truth. Since the announcement of the
election date for a run-off, no one can change that date unless Robert
Mugabe concedes defeat. It therefore means that a government of national
unity negotiated before the run-off does not arise.
We have been on record as saying once a mandate has been given to us
we will form an inclusive government as a way of managing our transition. We
are committed to this position.
We wish to state that the Kenyan model of a government of national
unity is not an option because here the people have clearly spoken and our
circumstances are different. The people's choice must be respected.
In spite of the conditions on the ground the MDC is focused on the
run-off and has developed counter strategies of campaigning. I am encouraged
by the people's determination and their desire to ensure that we finish it
and we dismiss hunger, poverty, loss of dignity and suffering on June 27,
2008. This is the change you can trust. Our victory is certain.
By Boston Herald editorial staff
Saturday, June 14, 2008 -
We are under no illusions that stripping Robert Mugabe of his honorary
degree from the University of Massachusetts has even registered on the man's
radar screen. But the symbolic gesture may prompt more Bay Staters to pay
attention to the hideous things going on in Zimbabwe, the nation Mugabe has
led for decades. If so it will have done some good.
The UMass board action came on the same day that authorities twice arrested
Mugabe's rival in the upcoming run-off election as the man campaigned, and
jailed the opposition leader's deputy on charges of treason. Also Thursday,
the United States accused authorities in the African nation of the truly
disgusting act of stealing 20 tons of American food aid headed to a school
full of hungry children and diverting it to supporters at a pro-government
Since that June 6 incident Mugabe's regime has ordered private relief
agencies to stop distributing food aid so it can take over the task itself.
In a nation full of hungry people we can imagine what a powerful campaign
tool those precious morsels must be.
"This is a government that is taking tremendous and, frankly, awful strides
to maintain its power, that is increasingly abusing its own citizens and has
raised, or should I say lowered, the bar to a level that we rarely see,"
said Gonzalo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman.
The Bush administration has called on member nations of the United Nations
Security Council to immediately address the issue. The Security Council has
the power to do more than just strip Mugabe of long-since-forgotten academic
honors. Sadly for the people of Zimbabwe, it has yet to prove it has the
By Daniel Dombey in Washington, Tony Hawkins in Harare and William Wallis in
Published: June 14 2008 03:06 | Last updated: June 14 2008 03:06
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, said on Friday that liberation war
veterans would take up arms if he lost a June 27 presidential run-off vote.
Mr Mugabe told youth members of his ruling Zanu-PF party in Harare that the
veterans would launch a new bush war if the election was won by the
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
They said if this country goes back into white hands just because we have
used a pen [to vote], 'we will return to the bush to fight'," Mr Mugabe
His comments came as James McGee, the US ambassador in Harare, said 30,000
potential opposition supporters had been displaced from their homes as part
of brutal tactics by the Mugabe government to swing the run-off in his
Mr McGee, who was speaking by telephone from Harare, said the conditions
ahead of the poll were the worst he had ever witnessed, while another
western diplomat said Zanu-PF was determined to secure an election victory
"at any cost".
"It's very, very obvious that there is political intimidation, there's
thuggery, there's outright theft, murder, happening here in Zimbabwe," Mr
McGee said. "In my long diplomatic career, I have never seen anything
comparable to this."
He added that voters were being forced to declare themselves illiterate -
whether they could read or not - so that officials could accompany them to
the polling booth and that low-level policemen were also being compelled to
cast their votes for Zanu-PF.
Mr Mugabe lost a first round of elections against Mr Tsvangirai the leader
of the Movement for Democratic Change. But the official tally gave Mr
Tsvangirai just short of the absolute majority needed to avoid a run-off.
Prominent Zimbabweans in exile are planning to roll out a campaign in coming
days to persuade and fund as many Zimbabweans living in South Africa and the
region as possible to return home to vote before polling day, in an effort
to counter government tactics. But it is unclear whether they would be
allowed across the border, or whether their names would be on voter
As many as 400 election observers from the Southern African Development
Community arrived in Zimbabwe this weekend. Diplomats hope that in areas
where they are present they will deter some of the violence.
But there are more than 9,000 polling stations in the country. The senior
western diplomat said Zanu-PF were establishing "no-go areas" to make sure
that there were no external or foreign witnesses to expected ballot stuffing
on the day.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 06:04
HARARE - The MDC claims that a massive voter registration exercise is
going on in the three Mashonaland provinces as part of Zanu (PF) party's
strategy to rig the June 27 Presidential run-off in favour of Robert Mugabe.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said on Wednesday MDC received reports
from Rushinga in Mashonaland central and Mudzi in Mashonaland.
"All those who are registering to vote are being given back-dated
voter registration certificates so that they can vote in the coming
election. We are taking this seriously with the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) because the registration of voters for the purposes of this
election ended on 14 February," said Chamisa.
ZEC announced last month would use the same voters' roll used during
the general elections on March 29, meaning those who were not registered
before February 14 this year would not be able to vote.
"Zanu (PF) is certain that they are not going to win this election and
they are prepared to stay in power by what ever means. The regime has become
desperate. District administrators who sympathise with us have been phoning
the party and giving us details of this operation," added Chamisa.
ZEC chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana was not available for
comment. One can use a voter registration certificate to vote even if his or
her name is not in the voters' roll. - CAJ News
Saturday, 14 June 2008 06:22
MASVINGO - After murdering at least 66 supporters of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) so-called war veterans and thugs enlisted by the
military junta and Zanu (PF) are now actively harassing constituents across
Provincial Zanu (PF) officials in Masvingo told Zimbabwe's state
television station on June 11 they had stepped up their campaign against
"troublesome spots where MDC structures had taken root".
"We are setting up units of war veterans to go to those areas to fan
out the MDC, to campaign for President Mugabe, to confront and talk to some
company managers who are openly supporting these MDC structures," said
retired Major Alex Mudavanhu, Zanu (PF) chairperson for Masvingo told ZTV.
"We are going to tell people that Zanu (PF) is not going to lose this
election," he said.
On March 29 the MDC stunned its opponents by winning all three seat in
Bikita, four of the five seats in Gutu and three of the four seats in Zaka -
all traditional Zanu (PF) rural strongholds - and took 14 of the 26 for the
whole of the province.
Almost simultaneously South Africa's quietly diplomatic President
Thabo Mbeki was voicing some "serious concern" in parliament in Cape Town
about the violence and disruptions ahead of the run-off Presidential poll in
"At the moment we are doing whatever we can to ensure that we do not
experience major problems in the presidential second round elections set for
June 27," he told MPs.
Swinging his Southern African Development Community (SADC) sword,
Mbeki said that its observer mission was to be strengthened, but declined to
furnish any further details.
"We are at one with SADC and most of the international community that
the incidents of violence and reported disruption of electoral activities of
some of the parties are a cause for serious concern and should be addressed
with all urgency," Mbeki added.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 06:38
BY MXOLISI NCUBE
JOHANNESBURG - The military junta currently ruling Zimbabwe is trying
to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to increase the number of
ballot papers to be used by members of the uniformed forces in postal
balloting, intelligence sources have revealed.
The junta wants all members of the uniformed forces, as well as their
wives and police special constabulary members, to participate in the postal
ballot, even though most of them are not registered with the ZEC.
"We have all been lined up and told to vote Mugabe if we do not want
to die. We were set to vote on June 10 at Drill Hall police camp in
Bulawayo, but only a few ballot papers were released by the ZEC and they
were only for those who were registered in the first instance," a junior
"Commissioner Nyakutsikwa addressed us in Ross Camp and said that we
would die in the war if we voted Tsvangirai. We were told that we would vote
in front of police inspectors who would check who we voted for and report to
the Commissioner for decisive action," another junior police officer said.
The police bosses want to bar ZEC officials, observers and polling
agents from witnessing the postal balloting, which Nyakutsikwa has openly
declared to have no secrecy.
However, the ZEC has refused to release the 600 000 ballot papers
wanted by the junta and released around 60 000 ballot papers.
The uniformed forces are 45 000 officers for the army, including the
air-force, 30 000 for the police and 20 000 for the prison services. Less
than half of the members of each of the uniformed forces are said to have
registered for postal balloting.
In the last election, some junior members of the uniformed forces
accused their bosses of having registered and voted on their behalf.
The military commanders and service chiefs, who were given farms from
white farmers, have threatened to go to war if Mugabe loses the forthcoming
poll. However, most of the juniors have declared that they will not fight
Saturday, 14 June 2008 06:48
RUSAPE - All magistrates in Rusape have refused to preside over Eric
Matinenga's case. Matinenga, the MDC elected MP for Buhera, is facing
charges of inciting public violence.
"Most magistrates refused to hear the matter on the basis that they
once worked with Matinenga while others just showed no interest for unknown
reasons," Chief public prosecutor Ziyambi said. She was not sure whether
Matinenga would be released or further detained.
It has emerged that Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander,
Constantine Chiwenga, ordered Matinenga to be re-arrested and locked up,
"until I die." He personally called the police and instructed them to
disregard any orders from the courts to release him.
Chiwenga is reportedly furious over Matinenga's High Court application
against the army ordering Chiwenga to remove soldiers from Buhera and other
rural areas where he says they are harassing and assaulting MDC supporters.
Chiwenga filed opposing papers claiming Matinenga's application was based on
"I am not aware of any members of the defence forces who are targeting
members of any political party whatsoever," Chiwenga wrote in affidavit to
court. - zimbabwetro.com
The Star, SA
June 14, 2008 Edition 1
Emergency talks have begun between the Zimbabwean government and the
opposition, suggesting that leading figures on both sides may be ready to
accept that the presidential run-off on June 27 cannot bring peace to the
The existence of the negotiations is officially denied by all sides,
including the South African mediators. But the talks are sufficiently
advanced for a second meeting to have been scheduled between the ruling
Zanu-PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai remained publicly combative in Harare this
week, ruling out any deals. "The MDC is focused on the run-off, our victory
is certain. The issue of a government of national unity before the run-off
does not arise," he said.
It is understood that the first meeting took place in Pretoria on May 30.
Zanu-PF was represented by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Social
Minister Nicholas Goche. The MDC sent its secretary-general, Tendai Biti,
and deputy treasurer, Elton Mangoma. The MDC's breakaway wing sent its
secretary-general, Welshman Ncube.
A key player in bringing both sides to the table is believed to be former
Zimbabwean finance minister Simba Makoni, a rebel candidate from the ruling
party who came third in the March poll. He confirmed that both sides were
talking and that the framework for some form of transitional government was
on the table. - The Independent
timesunion.com , Albany, NY
First published: Saturday, June 14, 2008
During the late 20th century, human rights campaigns led by Western
progressives helped to liberate two nations on the southern tip of the
African continent from brutal whites-only rule. In 1980, the apartheid
regime of Rhodesia gave way to a black-led Zimbabwe. And in 1994, the first
multiracial elections in South Africa delivered the presidency to a black
man, the longtime anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.
In the years since, the two nations have traveled very different paths.
South Africa has enjoyed stability, a free press, international investment,
an independent judiciary and democratic elections -- helped by the graceful
exit of Mandela, who retired after one term. While the nation still
struggles with poverty, underdevelopment and an AIDS epidemic, it has become
a model for multiracial democracy on the African continent.
Zimbabwe, by contrast, has spiraled downward into disaster. Thirty years
ago, the nation was stable and productive, a net exporter of food blessed
with a small class of educated black professionals ready to form its
governmental bureaucracy. Now, Zimbabwe is beset by a thuggish regime that
has ushered in starvation, hyper-inflation, rampant unemployment, political
oppression and corruption.
Yet the tyranny of Zimbabwe's black president, Robert Mugabe, has met with
little reaction from America's black elite. Black politicians, Hollywood
celebrities and ordinary Americans loudly protested apartheid -- staging
demonstrations outside the South African embassy -- but Mugabe's despotism
has produced only muted criticism. What gives?
Although Mugabe has labored mightily to blame his nation's troubles on
others, including the dwindling population of white Zimbabweans and Western
human rights activists, Zimbabwe's voters have finally determined he needs
to go. His opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, led the opening round of voting in
elections in March.
But Mugabe's henchmen have resorted to murder to make certain the runoff
election, scheduled for June 27, is anything but free and fair. Tsvangirai
has been harassed and detained repeatedly by police. The wives of other
opposition leaders have been butchered and burned alive. Mugabe's police
even went so far as to seize food sent to schoolchildren by international
donors, giving it only to those who promised to vote for him.
His followers maim and murder their opponents and starve children, but few
black Americans notice. Why? Why do we ignore the transgressions of black
African tyrants while assailing those of white tyrants?
Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young is among those who still manage to see
more morality than malice in Mugabe's rule. "Americans cannot be rational
about Mugabe," Young said. "We've always miscast Mugabe. He's a
fundamentalist Roman Catholic. He doesn't steal."
Young traces Zimbabwe's troubles back more than 30 years, to the failure of
the United States and Great Britain to fund land reform efforts as
generously as promised.
Similarly, Nicole Lee, head of TransAfrica Forum, a Washington-based human
rights group founded by black Americans, points to "a larger context" that
includes the failure of Western nations to fund programs to grant farmland
to poor black Zimbabweans. She, too, says that Americans shouldn't
There's just one problem with that: Mugabe has become a demon.
Here and there, a courageous human rights activist sees the problem clearly
and has the guts to say so. Last week, Desmond Tutu called for Mugabe's
resignation. "Mugabe began so well more than 30 years ago. We all had such
high hopes," said the former Anglican archbishop. "... But his regime has
turned into a horrendous nightmare. He should stand down."
Georgia Rep. John Lewis said he supports a more forceful response to
Mugabe's tyranny. "Just because he's a black leader of an African nation
doesn't mean that we can afford to be silent," he said.
It may be that Americans can do little to influence Mugabe's course. If he
is willing to starve his people, he is probably immune to public
condemnation. But those committed to civil and human rights have a duty to
register their disgust for Mugabe's madness, as loudly and as readily as
they did for apartheid's brutality. Cynthia Tucker writes for The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 05:14
BY MSEKIWA MAKWANYA
CALLING off the blood and thunder Presidential run-off in favour of
the Government of National Unity (GNU) now appears to be very late in the
day and probably against the mindset of the majority of the people of
It is only two weeks to go to June 27. While there are serious
concerns about reports of political violence in Zimbabwe at the moment, and
the expense involved in the run-off, Zimbabweans know that violence is a
double-edged sword and democracy is expensive. The friends of Zimbabwe could
assist with the money to run the election, if that is what we need to make
the run-off a success.
It is difficult to expect the candidates, who have already committed
their resources to the campaign, to simply go back home when they are
convinced that they can win the elections and wait for uncertain dialogue.
Robert Mugabe and his campaign team feel strongly that some of their members
did not vote on March 29 and they would like to do so on June 27.
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and his campaign team feel that they
have to finish the job they started on March 29.
Both candidates in the run-off seem to believe that they need to
derive their mandate to rule Zimbabwe from the people of Zimbabwe, and each
candidate's team is using tactics and strategies that they believe will work
Simba Makoni, the losing presidential candidate, may have a point
about cancelling the run-off. It appears, however, that the earlier he
chooses the candidate to support the better for him and everyone else. The
presidential run-off has been irrevocably agreed between the candidates and
it is going ahead.
I am one of those who felt that it was best not have a run-off, but
once the date was set and campaigning started, it does not make sense to
call off an election with only two weeks to go. In any case, we do not wish
to set a record for calling off an election because of pre-election. How can
we call ourselves a democracy thereafter?
This will set a very bad precedent to the world; the Kenyan example
should be the last curse of Africa. Simba Makoni is best advised to work
towards ensuring that the elections will be free and fair since he
recognises the fact that the hope for a free and fair is now next to zero.
While it is accepted that the run-off will not solve the problems that
Zimbabwe faces at the moment, an election and negotiations are not mutually
exclusive. We will, therefore, have the election first on June 27 and
negotiations later. We know that some negotiations have already started, but
violence has not stopped.
Reports from South Africa indicate that former ministers Patrick
Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche of Zanu (PF) met with Tendai Biti, the MDC
Secretary General in Pretoria last week. In any case previous negotiations
between Zanu (PF) and the MDC have taken too long and did not solve the
The presidential run-off is, therefore, meant to decide the leadership
issue, not necessarily to solve all our problems. The negotiations will
facilitate power transfer or distribution whichever is required.
To quote Admiral Lord Nelson on the eve of the battle of Trafalgar,
October 20, 1805, ".now that we have decided why it cannot be done, let us
determine how it will be done".
Saturday, 14 June 2008 06:01
The arrest and harassment of NCA activists and officials.
MASVINGO- The NCA continues to be subjected to an orgy of intimidation
and violence at the hands of Zanu (PF) militias and the police.
On June 10, Zanu (PF) militias shut down the NCA office in Masvingo.
This followed a spate of violent activities by members of Zanu (PF) youth
militias and personal threats made against NCA officials.
On June 11, uniformed members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
forced the NCA Matebeleland South office to close on the grounds that NGOs
must not be operating as per the government's recent directive.
On June 8, the police arrested the NCA Chairperson for Guruve
Constituency, Biggie Bangira, on baseless grounds. On the same day, the home
of the NCA Information Secretary in Epworth, Musa Mabika, was torched by
militia. Mabika's wife and sister were severely beaten and are currently
recovering in hospital.
Leon Chiimba, the NCA Mashonaland East Chairperson, received death
threats from Zanu (PF) militias and was forced to flee his home.
"These and other incidents of intimidation point to an unacceptable
pattern of state-sponsored violence that is shrinking democratic space in
Zimbabwe. The current constitutional framework creates an environment in
which barbaric acts can be perpetrated, and human rights violated, with
impunity. This is not democracy. This is not what the war of liberation was
waged for. The revolution cannot be protected by acts that violate the very
principles upon which the revolution must be based. The time has come for
the people of Zimbabwe to be liberated from the oppressive constitutional
regime presided over by Zanu (PF)," an NCA spokesperson said.
To its members and officials who have been exposed to acts of violence
and intimidation the NCA says: Do not give up. Keep up the fight. Freedom is
on its way.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 06:17
With the odds on staging free and fair elections in Zimbabwe on June
27 now slashed to zero, intense pressures are mounting on both Morgan
Tsvangirai and former president Robert Mugabe to agree to an alternative
Instead of wringing their hands mediators and diplomats are now
pushing for a transitional administration, or Government of National Unity
(GNU), proposed by the International Crisis Group (ICG) on May 21.
Faced with a de facto military junta wreaking terror on Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) supporters throughout Zimbabwe's rural
constituencies and Mugabe admitting that he and his Zanu (PF) party have
lost control of the military, both leaders now appear prepared to negotiate
an 11th-hour deal to restore peace and the rule of law within the country's
borders, and curbing the uncontrolled mayhem of so-called war veterans and
other thugs enlisted by the military.
Preliminary talks were held in the South African capital, Pretoria, on
May 30 and 31 between Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma (MDC-T), Welshman Ncube
and Priscillah Misihairabwi (MDC-M), Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche
(Zanu (PF) and President Thabo Mbeki's advisors Frank Chikane amd Mojanko
Gumbi, who met the three parties separately. Negotiations continued this
week with Mbeki's point man on Zimbabwe, Sydney Mafumadi, also in the frame,
having visited Harare recently.
The ICG line, however, underlines recent comments from Mbeki, former
Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda and Simba Makoni, the third candidate in
Zimbabwe's March 29 Presidential poll.
Makoni, Mugabe's former finance minister, told journalists in
Johannesburg on June 9: "I can confirm that there are communications between
and among Zimbabwean leaders at various levels and these communications have
to do with solving the crisis. It's a process that needs urgency and needs
to be undertaken at the highest level possible in the shortest time."
They are reported to be proposing a deal based on the post-election
"African solution" in Kenya under which Mugabe would remain president,
however, Tsvangirai would hold Zimbabwe's reins of power as prime minister.
Ironically, this could mark a return to the post-Lancaster House
administrative status quo thrashed out in 1979.
Mugabe may just find this ceremonial role acceptable, having had his
powers torn from his grip by the repressive military junta. Furthermore, he
has lost considerable support among many African leaders, especially most of
those in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who have to cope
with the continuing influx of Zimbawean refugees fleeing torture and murder.
During recent weeks Tsvangirai has delivered conflicting statements on
a transitional government. Launching the MDC's "Restore Hope" campaign he
told the parliamentary caucus: "In the spirit of moving our country forward,
let us seek out those peaceful members of Zanu (PF) whose eyes are open to
the disastrous state of our nation. Let us listen to their views in where we
have policy agreement."
Then in a press statement on June 10 Tsvangirai said: "There has been
growing momentum on the question of a government of national unity.
Speculation is rife on this issue with some saying negotiations taking
place. Others say the agreement has been signed. Nothing can be further from
the truth. Since the announcement of the election date for a run off, no one
can change that date unless Robert Mugabe concedes defeat. It therefore
means that a government of national unity negotiated before the run off does
Tsvangirai added that the Kenyan model was not an option.
History, however, suggests that any GNU in Zimbabwe, which includes
Mugabe and his then right hand man, Emmerson Mnangagwa - and architect of
the present terror campaign - is fraught with danger and one only has to
return to the turbulent mid-1980s to understand why.
Joshua Nkomo and his ZAPU party were accused of arming and supporting
dissidents in Matabeleland. Mugabe and Mnangagwa unleashed the notorious
North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade led by Perence Shiri - one of today's
Up to 20 000 Matabele are reported to have been murdered between 1982
After fleeing into exile Nkomo, in a bid to end the bloodshed, opened
negotiations and returned in December 1987 to sign the "Unity Accord", under
which he agreed to abolish ZAPU. He signed his own political death warrant.
According to Richard Bowden, director of the Royal African Society,
Zanu (PF) is riven by factions.
"The unpaid Armed Forces and police could break up into pro and
anti-Mugabe factions within the party. Some may support the MDC. As the
Armed Forces disintegrate, warlords take over local areas. Zimbabwe begins
to look like Somalia," Bowden suggested in The Times on June 9.
In another scenario he suggests that defection of a key Mugabe ally,
such as Gideon Gono, could tip the balance in favour of Tsvangiari and a
"Now he is of no further use, but, rich and famous, he may not see a
future with Mr. Mugabe. His defection breaches the wall of the fantasy
castle and reality crashed in. Mr. Mugabe and his chief lieutenants seek
refuge in Equatorial Guinea and a government of national unity is set up."
"Likelihood? Impossible to say. But Southern Africa has been known to
produce miracles before," Bowden adds.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 06:10
The International Crisis Group's 21 May policy briefing, Negotiating
Zimbabwe's Transition - released soon after the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission announced that the presidential run-off will take place on 27
June - outlined two immediate objectives, with the end objective of each
being some sort of government of national unity, under MDC leadership.
With the impact of outspoken, Western-driven diplomacy likely to be
limited, African-led mediation, with concerted, wider international backing,
gives the best chance for a peaceful and definitive resolution to the
crisis. These outlined objectives should be the focus of a process that
broadens the South African-led SADC mediation, adding strong accountability
and oversight measures.
A negotiated settlement on a Tsvangirai-led transitional government.
The current levels of violence and intimidation preclude the
possibility of holding a credible run-off. The holding of a run-off by the
Mugabe camp is a ploy to stay in power, and it is highly unlikely that
Mugabe would accept the conditions for a free and fair run-off in which he
would be humiliatingly defeated.
As Zanu (PF) prepares for a second election, violence is likely to
escalate, prolonging the suffering of Zimbabwe's people.
For this reason, the first objective of the mediation should be to
secure a political agreement between the MDC and Zanu (PF) that avoids the
need for a run-off and the accompanying risks of even greater violence.
A negotiated settlement could establish a Tsvangirai-led transitional
government with substantial participation by Zanu (PF) stalwarts to
implement agreed upon constitutional reforms and hold free and fair
elections under an agreed timeframe.
A credible run-off.
Even as it works to facilitate a negotiated settlement on a
transitional government, SADC mediators must work with Zanu (PF) and the MDC
to delineate the basic requirements for a credible run-off in the event the
Urgent steps would be needed to guarantee a free and fair vote - even
one in conditions as imperfect as for the 29 March election.
These include immediate cessation of violence and intimidation; strong
monitoring and organisational roles for SADC, the AU and the UN; and massive
deployment no later than roughly a month before the poll of independent
national and international observers, who must remain on the ground until
the results are announced.
As with negotiations for a transitional government, the mediation
would need to address the modalities for ensuring military loyalty to a new
civilian government. Failure to do so would risk a Tsvangirai victory
leading to a military coup or martial law, and the security services
splitting along factional lines.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 09:05
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is alarmed at reports that
the Attorney-General intends to "deny bail to all suspects arrested on
charges of either committing or inciting political violence".
In a front-page story in The Herald this week, as well as in repeated
television interviews, the Deputy Attorney-General (Criminal Division),
Johannes Tomana, said: "We have made it a point that those arrested are
locked up right to trial. Bail is opposed as a matter of policy."
ZLHR says the decision shows that the Attorney-General's office is
confusing its powers with that of the final arbiter, the judiciary.
"In terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, all accused persons have a
fundamental right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of
law," said a statement from ZLHR. Bail is an entitlement that is provided to
accused persons to ensure that, from the time of their arrest to the
finalization of their trial, their right to liberty is not unreasonably and
When bail is applied for, the State cannot simply oppose it without
providing the court with substantive and credible reasons, supported by
evidence. It would have to convince the court that there was a material
likelihood that the accused might flee from justice if released on bail,
interfere with witnesses, or commit further offences.
"With the reality that the wheels of criminal justice in Zimbabwe's
courts turn slowly, such a process would mean that accused persons,
constitutionally presumed innocent, would have to spend long periods of time
in remand prison before even being heard," said the lawyers' body.
This policy change, the statement warned, came at a time when people
were preparing to cast their vote in the presidential election run-off.
Anyone arrested now and denied bail could be kept in remand prisons for
weeks or months, and so be unable to vote or campaign.
ZLHR was also saddened by the Deputy Attornbey-General's insensitivity
to the pitiful state of the country's prisons where prisoners, including the
innocent and still to be proven guilty, were living in inhuman and degrading
"Zimbabwe's prisons are indeed already battling to provide prisoners
with adequate clothing, food and health care," said the ZLHR.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 06:31
BULAWAYO - Police in Silobela district in the Midlands have banned
all MDC meetings and rallies, accusing the party of being violent
ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off .
"They issued an order last week advising me and my supporters that we
are no longer allowed to hold any meetings or rallies in the constituency.
They accused our members of causing violence in most parts of the
country," MDC Member of Parliament for Silobela Constituency, Anadi Sululu,
said to The Zimbabwean on Sunday on June 10. Sululu said he was shocked by
the ban as there had not been a single case of violence reported in his
constituency. The MDC legislator accused police of allowing Zanu (PF)
meetings and rallies to go ahead in Silobela, conducted by members of Mugabe's
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and youth militias holding brand new
This latest ban follows the ban of most MDC rallies around the
country. MDC had to seek court orders to go ahead with its rallies, which
the police defied. Morgan Tsvanigirai has resorted to "Meet the people
Tours" in cities, towns and rural areas where he campaigns door-to-door.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 06:44
BULAWAYO - Bulawayo Polytechnic suspended seven students on June 5:
SRC president Simba Kuzipa, Vice President Gregory Door, Secretary General
Desire Siyanata, Malvin Kadete, Tonderai Chiborise, Leopold Tapi and Donald
Mazikana. The suspended students are being accused of having breached
statutory Instrument 81 of 1999, part 3 (7) (a) and (g). They are being
suspended for 21days.
Three students were later arrested: Simba Kuzipa, Desire Siyanata and
Malven Kadete. Kuzipa was released June 9 on the grounds of lack of
evidence. Another student Wellington Machengo is said to be in need of a
surgical operation after he was assaulted on his private parts by riot
police. The college has been without clean running water for almost three
weeks. Almost all ablution facilities are out of order in the lecture rooms
and hostels. In the commerce division both sexes are sharing a single
toilet. Student leader, Tonderai Chiborise, alleges that they are now using
a disused rugby pitch to relieve themselves.
HARARE - Heavily armed police raided the offices of the Students
Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) arresting the secretary general
Prosper Munatsi, office intern Sandra Dvete and the finance and
administration officer Precious Chinanda. Apart from the arrests they looted
laptops, computers, T shirts and documents. The four were released after a
BINDURA - In the early hours of June 10, members of the central
intelligence organization (CIO) raided the hostel room of Glanis
Changachirere, a Bindura University of Education student. Three men said
they were looking for T Shirts belonging to Youth Forum, Crisis Coalition
and Students Christian Movement ransacked her room before threatening her
that she would die for Tsvangirai. Later in the afternoon they arrested her
and Tellington Kwashira, former ZINASU Education and Research Secretary,
Clemence Sainet and Moses Chamisa. They are currently detained at the CID
section at Bindura Central Police station.
MASVINGO - Former University of Zimbabwe student leader Madock
Chivasa yesterday appeared in Masvingo magistrate court facing charges of
undermining police authority. His trial was postponed to July 21 due to the
fact that the State fails to bring its witnesses. Great Zimbabwe University
students' representative council (SRC) Treasurer Oglive Makova also appeared
in the same court on routine remand hearing. He was further remanded to June
24. Masvingo police arrested the ZINASU secretary for legal and academic
affairs Courage Ngwarai. They allege that he has a warrant of arrest because
he failed to appear in court on malicious damage to property charges.
The current crisis in Zimbabwe only works to demonstrate how much loyalty
individuals have for their political parties. Everybody has a different
opinion, but at the end of it all, we should all strive to harmoniously work
together in a peace-building mission, stretch out olive branches, and be
able to exercise reconciliation, in the interests of progressive
development. We should, therefore, challenge one another to chart a path of
civility, reason, respect and consideration. That way, we can harvest more
gains and develop our lovable country.
The purpose of Zimbabwe Victims Support Network is to amend torn relations,
bridge animosity gaps, enhance the spirit of love and cooperation, while
also promoting a way to allow a spirit of forgiveness among the victims and
culprits of political violence. If we allow the "eye-for-an-eye" concept to
reign, we gear ourselves for an endless cycle of violence, which opens
floodgates of poverty, destruction of infrastructure, loss of more precious
lives, and hindrance to national development.
This is the opportune moment to bury our machetes, shake hands, and
seriously realize that we are all Zimbabwean children. As such, we should
strive to abstain from acts of savagery and barbarism, substituting those
with reason, respect, love and understanding. We need to rebuild our dear
Zimbabwe for the purposes of progressive development and a better future not
only for the current generation, but also for those to come.
ZVSN therefore comes at the ideal moment to help the victims of political
violence, instill the elements of peace-building amongst the parties
involved, and promote a solid sense of patriotism. Without unnecessarily
assuming finger-pointing or a witch-hunt drive, the rationale starting point
is simply to cure the injured, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give
shelter to the displaced and teach all, victims and culprits, to forgive and
forget. That way we forge ahead in love, building a solid nation with better
values for a legacy that we challenge ourselves to leave behind.
By supporting ZVSN, anyone will prove to the world that, regardless of
personal interests, background, or political affiliation, a Zimbabwean still
needs a normal, stable, secure, pain-free and peaceful life. That kind of
help be it in cash, in kind or otherwise, makes a difference to a distraught
and anxious soul. That assistance alone restores hope!
Together, we make can make a difference. Together we re-build our dear
By Patience Rusere
13 June 2008
A senior official of the Southern African Development Community said Friday
that the regional grouping will have 400 election observers in Zimbabwe by
The SADC official heading the observer force in Zimbabwe, Tanki Mothae,
director of SADC?s organ on politics, defense and security, told civic
leaders and opposition officials that 300 of those observers would be in the
country by Saturday.
Sources who attended a meeting Friday with Mothae said that his team
acknowledged the political violence which has mounted in the country since a
first election round on March 29, and described the electoral process as
Program Officer Itai Zimunya of the Southern Africa Resource Watch told
reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the SADC team
will engage the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change to try to restore calm to the violence-plagued country
before the ballot.
Saturday, 14 June 2008 08:59
War veterans have hit out at the Zanu (PF) regime for failing to meet
its promises of educational assistance, claiming their children have been
forced to drop out of school, colleges and universities for not paying fees.
The government committed itself to assisting war veterans in paying
tuition fees, but has not yet released the funds.
Many veterans say they have not had any educational assistance since
1998, alleging that funds destined for them are being looted at the Social
Amounts vary according to the fees of educational institutions, but
the government is supposed to reimburse beneficiaries of the system who use
their own money to pay fees.
Andrew Ndlovu, who once attempted to take over the leadership Zimbabwe
National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), complained over the
late release of the funds.
"I am one of the few beneficiaries and our children are being chased
away from school for not paying fees as the funds are yet to be released.
There have to be changes of the system where schools deal directly with the
Ministry and let our children attend lessons," said Ndlovu.
"We have submitted forms for educational assistance but the Ministry
has been quiet as to when they are releasing the funds, arguing that they
want to first reach a specific number before they disburse them."
Spokesperson of the ZNLWVA Bulawayo chapter, Velaphi Ncube, agreed:
"Some of our comrades' children have dropped out of school altogether."
He said that even when the government did provide fees, the amount was
a small percentage of what was needed.
Nicholas Goche, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare,
said: "If the war veterans have complaints.they should approach me and not
papers, as they do not pay them."
In November 1997, under the late Hitler Hunzvi, the government bowed
to pressure from the liberation war fighters and awarded them gratuities and
The release of the unbudgeted funds by the government saw the local
currency tumbling against major currencies in what became known as Black
June 14, 2008
A FORMER Harare municipal policeman, who has become a war veteran of
Zimbabwe's 1970s war of liberation, by retrospective association, has
assured Zanu-PF supporters in the eastern city of Mutare that MDC leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, will not be allowed to assume power should be defeat
President Robert Mugabe in the June 27 election run-off.
Joseph Chinotimba, a recognised leader of the war veteran community although
he did not fight the war that brought about Zimbabwe's independence, told
hundreds of Zanu-PF supporters that Tsvangirai would never be allowed to
become President of Zimbabwe, under whatever circumstances.
This was the major theme of Mugabe's own rally addresses this week, a
fortnight before the controversial and violence-ridden second round of
Chinotimba, who, despite his dubious liberation credentials, has risen to
become the vice-chairman of the much revered and much pampered Zimbabwe
National Liberation War Veterans' Association and a member of the Zanu-PF
central committee, was speaking at the official launch of Mugabe's
presidential campaign in Manicaland.
Chinotimba, a barely literate low ranking municipal policeman in 2000,
wormed his way into positions of power and influence within Zanu-PF merely
by offering services in his area of demonstrated expertise - violence.
Campaigning alongside the late war veteran leader, Dr Chenjerai Hunzvi - not
a bona fide war veteran either - the duo spearheaded government's
controversial and violent farm invasions. They drove the white commercial
farmers off the land to the eternal gratitude of Zanu-PF - and Mugabe.
Emerging from total obscurity at a time when Mugabe's popularity was on the
decline, a time when a few of his traditional stalwarts dared to associate
with the Zanu-PF leader publicly in the face of the real prospect of the
advent of an MDC government, the determination and success of the two pseudo
war veterans left an indelible impression in the mind of the beleaguered
At the height of the mayhem of the of the land invasions, Chinotimba strode
into the dignified chambers of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, over-sized
straw hat almost covering his eyes. After a brief but pointed exchange of
words the leader of the farm invasions departed. Zimbabwe's top dispenser of
justice was soon emptying his drawers, forced into premature retirement by
the personification of escalating lawlessness.
Chinotimba has never looked back. Now a businessman, he runs a security
outfit that survives on contracts from government and parastatals.
Amazingly, Chinotimba is Zanu-PF's Harare provincial chairman as well as
vice chairman of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), which is
the war veteran's version of the popular Zimbabwe Congress of Trace Unions
The latter organisation is led by Lovemore Matombo who is always in and out
of remand prison on one spurious allegation or another.
While wearing his hat as vice-chairman of the labour organisation Chinotimba
routinely urges employers to pay their workers wages and salaries
commensurate with their contribution and position.
Notwithstanding his lofty position in the labour movement Chinotimba's
company, Smash Security, was dragged to court in May after it failed to
compensate a security guard for his sweat for two months.
The learned prosecutor pointed out that flouting the Labour Relations Act
was tantamount to a criminal offence.
Because he now holds a powerful political role in the capital city
Chinotimba has become a politician of sorts. The voters of his rural Buhera
constituency have, however, twice refused to grant him his ambition to
represent them in Parliament.
His major contract, however, remains that of ensuring that those, even in
the Zanu-PF leadership, who oppose Mugabe do not stray too far away from the
Meanwhile, he has not forgiven the people of his constituency for
humiliating him. In May the manager of his MDC opponent's election campaign
was abducted and assaulted until he died. Chinotimba allegedly drove the
Zanu-PF militants responsible to the man's house. Witnesses say he ordered
the deceased's body to be loaded onto his truck en route to the nearest
mortuary. If the police invited him for questioning the fact escaped the
notice of the press.
Meanwhile Eric Matinenga, an eminent Advocate of the Zimbabwe High Court who
was recently elected to Parliament, representing the MDC in Buhera West
Constituency, was promptly arrested after a clash between MDC and Zanu-PF
The police say they suspect he paid MDC activists who went around the
constituency attacking supporters of Zanu-PF who, presumably, did not vote
for him. Matinenga has remained behind bars despite a ruling by the Zimbabwe
High Court on 8 June ordering his release.
Back in Mutare on Friday, Chinotimba, aping Mugabe, told his audience that
voting for Tsvangirai would "reverse the gains of independence".
"We, as war veterans, are geared to retain our presidential candidate and
will not let Morgan Tsvangirai win this election," he said. "Remember, we
went to war for this country and many sons and daughters of this beloved
nation perished as the whites resisted majority rule."
Like many of the youthful so-called war veterans now marauding Zimbabwe's
countryside while wreaking total havoc, Chinotimba, while he would qualify
on age, did not participate in the war. He was probably guarding Ian Smith's
beer-halls in the "African townships" while Zanla fighters waged a
relentless guerilla campaign, with the invaluable support of the rural
population, against the illegal Rhodesian regime.
"We will not stand and just watch as the Western-sponsored MDC gives back
this country to the former colonizers,'' he fumed.
The irony of the fact that among the people he was threatening in Mutare
were some of those very courageous Zimbabweans who defied Smith to support
Mugabe obviously did not occur to Chinotimba. Neither does it seem to occur
to the members of the military junta now running the affairs of Zimbabwe;
nor to Mugabe himself, for that matter.