The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Mugabe stokes fears of war if he loses election

The Scotsman

Published Date: 15 June 2008
By Cris Chinaka
in Harare

ROBERT Mugabe increased the threat of all-out civil war in Zimbabwe
yesterday when he insisted that he would fight against an MDC government if
it won power in this month's presidential election.
"We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for it," the
president told a crowd of supporters in Harare at the funeral of a former
army general.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvan-girai will face Mugabe in a run-off presidential
election on June 27, after winning the first round in March but without the
necessary majority.

Tsvangirai, rights groups and Western powers accuse Mugabe of unleashing a
brutal campaign, including using police to harass opponents, to win the
run-off. Tsvangirai and 11 MDC campaign colleagues were held by police for
three hours yesterday after being taken into custody at a roadblock in the
morning. He has been detained several times this month.

Meanwhile, Tendai Biti, the party's secretary-general who was arrested on
Thursday as he returned to the country, appeared before a judge.

At the closed hearing, prosecutors said they planned to charge him with
"treason and making malicious statements detrimental to . the state", which
could carry a death penalty, Biti's lawyer said.

Police took Biti - accused of announcing results of the March 29 poll
prematurely - away after the hearing and said they might bring him back to
court tomorrow, the lawyer told reporters.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF lost control of parliament in elections also held in March
but the president, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980,
has shown little sign of accepting change.

"It is clearly impossible to talk about a free and fair election in
Zimbabwe," the MDC said after their leader was detained. "To suggest
otherwise is to be blind to the grave harassment, intimidation and violence
that the people of Zimbabwe have had to endure over the past few years."

The MDC says 66 of its followers have been killed in attacks since the March
polls. Mugabe, 84, blames the MDC for the violence that has caused
international concern.

His language has grown increasingly belligerent. He said again yesterday
that Western countries were interfering. "We have become the focus of the
British and the Americans. The US has provided $70m to the MDC for regime
change ... and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is interfering in our
internal affairs.

"Never again shall this country come under the rule of the white man, direct
or indirect. Not while we, who fought for its liberation, live," Mugabe said
to wild cheers from thousands of supporters, including soldiers.

The former guerrilla commander had told ZANU-PF youth members in Harare a
day earlier that liberation war veterans had told him they would launch a
new bush war if he lost the run-off.

Mugabe's sentence of death on women of Zimbabwe

Kevin Kane
in Johannesburg

ABIGAIL Murewa is a mother at the age of just 19 and her son is already well
past his first birthday. She has no income and dropped out of school before
completing basic schooling. Her beautiful face and direct stare are
haunting, as is the malnourished child tied to her back in a blanket.

WOZA protesters risk their lives demonstrating on the streets of Harare.
Photograph: Getty Images
One thing is certain about Abigail: she is likely to be dead before her son
reaches the age of 16. Life expectancy for Zimbabwean women was down to only
34 years by early 2006, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO),
compared with 62 years in 1990. Now, two years later, life expectancy for
Abigail is less than 34 years.

Thirty-four, an age when women in stable democracies are thinking about
careers, starting families, or buying homes, is by far the lowest life
expectancy in the world. Even in Iraq, women can expect to live for more
than 51 years. In poor countries, such as Cuba and North Korea, women's life
expectancy is 75 and 65 respectively.

Inscriptions on the headstones of hundreds of graves at the Granville
cemetery in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital and Abigail Murewa's home, tell the
harrowing tale of women's life expectancy in a country where 3,500 citizens
a week die from HIV/Aids, higher than the overall death rate in Darfur where
Sudanese government forces are accused of genocide.

But the rate is increasing in the government violence that has followed this
year's March 29 presidential and parliamentary elections. And the deaths
have accelerated with the approach of the presidential run-off poll
scheduled for June 27, with women taking the brunt of the violence
perpetrated by the militiamen of incumbent President Robert Mugabe, who has
given veteran militias permission to wage war on his opponent, Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe told a ruling Zanu-PF party rally that Tsvangirai will return the
country to white control if he wins the run-off. The veterans, Mugabe's
followers during the 1970s war against white rule, are not prepared to
recognise a Tsvangirai victory, said Mugabe. "They said they got this
country through the barrel of a gun, so they cannot let it go by a ballot."

One woman who got in the way of Mugabe's militiamen was Dadirai Chipiro,
wife of Patson Chipiro, leader of the MDC in Mhondoro, 100 miles northeast
of Harare. Three truckloads of militiamen came looking for Patson 10 days
ago but, in his absence, they turned on Dadirai, a 45-year-old nursery
teacher, and broke both her legs before chopping off both her feet and one
of her hands. In one of the most diabolical of many barbarous acts of evil
perpetrated by Mugabe's regime since independence in 1980, the militiamen
then threw Dadirai into her hut, barricaded the door and tossed a petrol
bomb through the window. Police refused to issue a crime incident report. At
the funeral Dadirai's coffin lid remained ajar because her outstretched arm
had burned rigid.

Women have been right in Zimbabwe's front line - more so than the MDC's male
leaders - opposing Mugabe and his hitmen, and few have been braver than
Jennie Williams and Betty Makoni while living to tell their stories.

Williams, a so-called 'coloured' (mixed race) Zimbabwean, is a future
contender for the Nobel Peace Prize - provided she survives her current
incarceration in the notorious Chikurubi Prison, near Harare, where
conditions have been described as worse than Auschwitz.

Williams founded WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) as a women's civil rights
movement in 2003. In the past five years Williams and the WOZA women have
been constantly going on to the streets to demonstrate against the Mugabe
government when MDC chiefs have been too frightened to do so. The
40,000-strong movement flouts restrictive protest laws in non-violent
marches of thousands of women, many with their children strapped to their

Some 30,000 WOZA women have spent time in police custody, many more than
once, for their street protests against Mugabe's excesses. Under the slogan
"Tough love", they have demonstrated to the timid MDC the possibilities of
mass mobilisation, suffering beatings and near-unbearable prison conditions
to exercise their fundamental freedoms.

But her followers and Amnesty International are deeply worried about the
fate of Williams. She has been in custody at Chikurubi for 18 days with 13
other WOZA activists, including Williams' deputy Magodonga Mahlangu, after a
street demonstration in Harare on Africa Day on May 28 against government
violence following the March election.

Under Mugabe's draconian decree, the WOZA marchers, who carried placards and
distributed flyers condemning the violence, were stopped by police and their
leaders arrested. Williams' bail was set at 10,000,000,000 Zimbabwe dollars
(£10 under Zimbabwe's inflation rate of 500,000%), but the police refused to
release her. Williams is charged with "participating in a gathering with
intent to promote public violence" and "causing disaffection among the
Police Force".

The evidence produced by the state relates to a paragraph in one of the WOZA
flyers addressed to Zimbabwe's uniformed forces which said: "We ask them to
respect that Zimbabweans have voted (on March 29] for change and refrain
from being used to perpetrate violence and to carry out injustices."

Betty Makoni is also a potential Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her campaigns
against rape - as a weapon of political intimidation by Mugabe's militias
and in Zimbabwean society more widely.

As a child labourer aged six, she was raped by a neighbour together with
nine other girls. Makoni is now aged 37. But none of the others violated
that day are still alive to tell their stories.

Makoni eventually went to university and became a teacher. She now
administers a Girl Child Network with nearly 700 clubs. In its nine-year
history the Network has helped more than 60,000 females who have been raped,
ranging from a one-day-old baby to a 94-year-old grandmother.

Among Makoni's recent honours are the 2008 Amnesty International Ginetta
Sagan Award for Women's and Children's Rights and the 2007 World Children's
Prize for the Rights of the Child

"As I speak now, I know a woman is getting killed," Makoni said at a public
lecture she gave last week in Toronto. "There's a silent genocide going on.
I've picked up stories about women who are raped in front of their
grandchildren, in front of their sons, in front of their daughter, and of
women forced to be raped by their own relatives. I think the idea is to
destroy the womb that brings their opponents in the country into the world."

She has been jailed several times and receives constant death threats.

But Makoni was today flying back to Harare to share with Williams, the women
of WOZA, and the country's countless rape victims a struggle against the
increasingly merciless onslaught by Mugabe and his security force chiefs.

Migrant 'necklaced' to death

Anti-foreigner rioting flared up again yesterday in a South African township
as a foreign migrant from Mozambique, as yet unidentified, was "necklaced"
to death.

The death brought to 63 the number of people who have died in the ethnic
cleansing that broke out last month and has seen the poorest areas of the
country emptied of black migrants from other parts of Africa, particularly

Necklacing was the method used in black townships in the 1980s and early
1990s to kill suspected 'sell-outs' to the former apartheid government.

It involved jamming a car tyre over the shoulders of the victim, filling it
with petrol and setting it ablaze.

The necklacing in the Pretoria township of Atteridgeville is the second of a
Mozambican migrant in the wave of anti-immigrant attacks. Early reports
suggested clashes occurred between residents of Atteridgeville and Somali
migrants housed in a nearby United Nations-run refugee camp. Police opened
fire and fires were burning.

Meanwhile, about 100 people turned out for an anti-xenophobia march in
central Johannesburg yesterday afternoon organised by the International
Community Unifiers (ICU), a group representing the five million African
migrants in South Africa.

Dennis Mpangane, the ICU president, said: "We do not understand why we have
been savagely and brutally assaulted, raped, killed, intimidated.

"We have had our property destroyed and looted and we have been evicted from
our homes and experienced all forms of humiliation."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Robert Mugabe's allies can bring him down

The Telegraph

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 15/06/2008

The 84-year-old Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's tyrannical ruler, has now
given up all pretence of wishing to hold anything remotely resembling free
and fair elections in his country.

The army and the police are under the direct control of his party,
ZANU-PF, and they relentlessly intimidate ordinary Zimbabweans. They arrest
and murder activists for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the party
led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Tsvangirai himself is arrested almost every day: the sole purpose
of imprisoning him is to disrupt his campaigning. As Zimbabwe starves,
thanks to Mugabe's inept economic management, food and medicine are being
used by his cronies as weapons with which to coerce the population into
voting for ZANU-PF.

Yesterday, Mugabe boasted that he would go to war rather than hand
over power to the MDC. If he wins the election on June 27, it will only be
because he has bullied the population into submission.

The West continues to watch helplessly as Mugabe destroys the last
vestiges of democracy in Zimbabwe. Sanctions against the country are already
in force, but show no sign of persuading Mugabe to step down.

The next option would be for the West to take direct military action
against him, but that seems highly unlikely, and not only because it would
resurrect his legitimacy as an "anti-colonialist warrior".

So what can be done? The UN must put heavy pressure on South Africa
and China, Mugabe's remaining supporters, to drop him. Once that happens,
members of his own party should force him to relinquish power.

Elections could then be held, perhaps supervised by the African Union.
Unfortunately, there seems to be an international reluctance to confront
South Africa and China. They have prevented the topic from being discussed
by the UN Security Council.

We can only hope that reason and humanity will soon persuade at least
Thabo Mbeki, the President of South Africa, to jettison the man who is
leading Zimbabwe, and all of its suffering people, over the precipice.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Let’s ensure Mugabe hears our message loud and clear

The Times, SA

Eric M Bost
Second Opinion Published:Jun 14, 2008

As the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates each day, the international community owes it to the Zimbabwean people to take a strong, decisive stand against what is happening in their country and in support of their democratic aspirations.
We owe it to their dignity as a people who fought for their freedom, to their legacy of agricultural richness and to their previously high levels of education.
It is rare that the world witnesses the rise and fall of a once-free, democratic nation in such a short time, but just over the border, President Robert Mugabe’s machinery of oppression and fear has replaced hope and independence with terror.
The time for speaking softly is over.
Mugabe is insolently ignoring the Southern African Development Community’s basic principles for free and fair elections.
He is using extreme state-sponsored violence, threats to life and livelihoods, intimidation and starvation as political weapons against the opposition and common citizens of his country.
In this campaign of terror, opposition politicians have been thrown in jail and a free, independent press has been brought to its knees. The trade union movement is moribund.
There is nothing quiet about the message Mugabe is sending the Zimbabwean people, and there should be nothing quiet about the message the international community sends to him in return.
Thanks to the South African media, we who live here in South Africa likely know more about what is happening throughout Zimbabwe than the average Zimbabwean.
The fact that so many international and Zimbabwean journalists have been arrested or prohibited from entering the country is concrete proof that the Mugabe regime has something awful to hide.
My own diplomatic colleagues in Harare experienced a terrifying five-hour ordeal during which they had the barrel of an assault rifle aimed at them and were told they would be burned alive in their vehicles — simply because they dared to visit election preparations in the countryside.
It is ironic that South Africa has not supported the UN Security Council’s attempt to hold a broad, multilateral discussion on Zimbabwe, instead stating that the situation in Zimbabwe did not threaten international peace and security.
South Africa is now home to millions of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants, who desperately fled the violence and economic collapse of their home country.
The xenophobic violence in some parts of South Africa, which we watched with horror last month, stems in part from the increased economic and social pressure this large number of unregistered aliens have placed on the South African economy and service sector.
Similar pressures are building in other SADC countries, especially Zambia and Botswana.
The meltdown of the Zimbabwean economy creates a negative effect on regional economic development and growth, and exacerbates the risk of food insecurity.
Without a doubt, there is a direct connection between the situation in Zimbabwe and the security and stability of Southern Africa.
The United States calls on the government of Zimbabwe to immediately stop the violence.
We call on SADC and the African Union to help set the stage for free, fair and transparent elections in line with SADC’s democratic principles.
As President Mbeki highlighted in Parliament last week, the Zimbabwean people must be allowed to freely choose their leaders and government, and the disruption of electoral activities should be addressed urgently.
The international community seeks an outcome in Zimbabwe based on respect for the will of the people, the rule of law and the entrenchment of democracy.
In order to restore the confidence of the electorate, there must be thousands of election observers and human rights monitors sent from the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the United Nations and other international organisations to blanket the country immediately.
The United States has pledged to contribute several million dollars to support this election observer effort.
In Zimbabwe, the people deserve better.

Bost is US ambassador to South Africa

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Black leaders need to speak out forcefully against Mugabe

Yahoo News
Opinion Cynthia Tucker

Sat Jun 14, 7:58 PM ET

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?

Though 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
"demonize" Mugabe.

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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe Under Pressure


By Akwei Thompson
Washington, DC
14 June 2008

Pressure is mounting on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to hold a free
and fair election run-off.

Forty of Africa's prominent figures, including former UN chief Kofi Annan,
on Friday published an open letter urging an end to violence and
intimidation in the days leading to election day, June 27th.

Meanwhile, as former ZANU-PF politburo member Simba Makoni is in South
Africa pitching a government of national unity, Mugabe says he has dissuaded
war veterans from fighting to keep the opposition from power.

Herman Hanekom, an independent researcher of contemporary Africa in
Capetown, South Africa told VOA's Akwei Thompson the attempt by the African
leaders to put pressure on Mugabe was futile.

"I think that letter is worth as much as a straw being blown around in the
wind. With the impunity that is taking place at the moment, I don't think
that anyone on the regime's side in Zimbabwe has any intention of taking
notice of international opinion."

Hanekom said he fears Mugabe gas lost control to his generals.

"What we are witnessing today is the end result of the brutality of generals
who fear for their own freedom.due to past violations of human rights in
Zimbabwe and they need Mugabe there as president in order to ensure that
they will not be prosecuted in future by a future government," he said

He added that the chance of Mugabe and opposition leader Tsvangirai ever
meeting to discuss a government of national unity was absolutely zero.

"I cannot see that those two can ever be brought together., he said"

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 14th June 2008

Great foreboding at the Vigil. Everyone is worried about the atrocities in
Zimbabwe.  We fear for the safety of Tendai Biti and others in the forefront
of the struggle. We were joined by Lovemore Mukeyani who spoke about the
violence his family had suffered both in Zimbabwe and South Africa.  The
family in Zimbabwe had been targeted because Lovemore has been involved in
protests in the UK.  Also with us was Greshel Alibinu.  She has been in and
out of hospital in Southend for the past two months and was finally allowed
by the hospital to come and visit us.  We were encouraged by her dedication.

It's been a busy week for the Vigil and it looks like there will be no let
up.  For many of us it was our third demo of the week, after our meeting
with Archbishop Tutu on Monday and the presentation of our petition to the
South African High Commission on Thursday. A Zimbabwean lady told us at the
Thursday event that she had been charged £80 by the Zimbabwean Embassy for a
(free) passport application form.  She was given a receipt! She still has to
pay £200 US dollars for the passport.  We are thinking of setting up a
little business at the Vigil selling the application forms for, say, £1, if
someone will send us a supply.

At the meeting on Monday with Archbishop Tutu we made contact with the
clergy at St Martin-in-the-Fields and they have readily agreed to take part
in our prayer vigil for Zimbabwe next Saturday. For details see below. We
hope that a number of Zimbabawean pastors will attend and we have been
informed that Southwark Cathedral in south London, which has a long
association with Zimbabwe, is offering a mass in Shona and Ndelbele on
Sunday, 13th July at 6.30 pm.

More immediately, the Vigil is to take part in a demonstration outside the
Embassy on Monday, 23rd June organised by Action for Southern Africa
(ACTSA), the successor organization to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and the
Trades Union Congress in support of beleaguered Zimbabwe trade union
leaders. For more information, check for your diary below.

Prominent African civil society leaders have united to call for free and
fair elections in Zimbabwe and an end to the violence in the run up to the
June 27 presidential election run-off. The signatories include a host of
respected African leaders, renowned African artists and influential figures
including  Desmond Tutu. Civil society groups and individual citizens are
invited to sign their letter at a dedicated website which can be found at We were disappointed that Nelson Mandela's name
wasn't among the signatories.

PS a sign of hope. The pigeons are nesting in one of our maple trees. Five
years ago Westminster Council told us not to attach anything to the trees
for fear of damaging them. We have not been able to comply but the trees
have thrived nevertheless.

For latest Vigil pictures check:

FOR THE RECORD:  151 signed the register.

·   Eucharist for Bernard Mizeki. Wednesday 18th June 2008, 6.30 at
Southwark Cathedral. The Zimbabwean Christian Fellowship Choir will sing.
·   Zimbabwe Association Refugee Day. Thursday, 19th June 2008, 10.30
am - 3 pm. Venue: Central Library,  2 Fieldway Crescent, London N5 1PF.
'Different Pasts, Shared Future.' Addressed by Jeremy Corbyn MP, the Mayor
of Islington and others.  Performances of dance, drama and music alongside
health and well-being sessions run by City and Islington College.
·  Prayer Vigil.  Saturday 21st June from 3.30 - 5 30 pm outside the
Zimbabwe Embassy 429 Strand, London WC2. This will take place within the
normal Vigil which runs from 2 - 6 pm.
·  Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday 21st June  2 - 6 pm.. Venue: Argyle
Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba, 07770 291
150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 or Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471.
·  Zimbabwe Day. Sat 21st June: 12 noon - 12 midnight  Bristol
Zimbabwe Association invites you to 12 hours of celebration: music, food &
gumboot dance, plus Lois Davis' film "Women of Zimbabwe Arise", and book
launch of Nontobeko Moyo's "Trampled No More: Voices from Bulawayo" Venue:
Pierian Centre, 27 Portland Square, St. Paul's, Bristol BS2 8SA. The event
is part of Refugee Week at the Pierian Centre
·   Demonstration for democracy, rights and freedom for Zimbabwe.
Monday 23 June 2008, 12.30 - 2 pm organised by the TUC and ACTSA and
supported by the Vigil. Outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. On 23 June Lovemore
Matombo, President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and
Wellington Chibebe, General Secretary of ZCTU are due in court to face
charges of spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the state. As part of their
bail conditions they are not allowed to address political or public
gatherings. For full details check
·  Service of Solidarity with Torture Survivors of Zimbabwe, Thursday
26th June 4 - 5.30 pm on UN International Day in Support of Victims of
Torture organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum supported by the
Vigil. Venue: St Paul's Church, Bedford Street, Covent Garden WC2E 9ED.  All
welcome to join the service and post-service procession to lay flowers on
the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy.
·   Zimbabwe Vigil's Mock Presidential Run-off. Friday 27th June 10
am - 4 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy.
·   Mandela 90th Birthday Concert. Friday 27th June, 4 pm in Hyde Park.
Vigil supporters to attend the event with banners reading "Speak out
 Mandela" and "What about Zimbabwe?"
·  Next Bristol Vigil. Saturday, June 28th in Gloucester Road,
opposite Amnesty Bookshop
·  Shona / Ndebele Mass in Southwark.   Sunday. 13 July At 6.30pm,
Southwark Cathedral will be holding a special Eucharist for the Zimbabwean
community in the Shona and Ndebele languages with a Zimbabwean choir.
·  Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30
am - 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton
Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury
Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355
(open Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Vigil co-ordinators
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Business and morality: Is Phil Edmonds right to trade with Robert Mugabe?

The Telegraph

Last Updated: 11:10pm BST 14/06/2008Page 1 of 3

Andrew Alderson and Russell Hotten untangle the complicated deals of Phil
Edmonds' Aim-listed mining company with Zimbabwe

As one of England's best ever spin bowlers, Phil Edmonds cut an intimidating
figure on the pitch. Six feet three inches tall and barrel-chested, he
captured the wicket of many a talented international batsman who was unable
to cope with his combination of skill and steely aggression.

In the boardroom and on the African sub-continent, the two places where
Edmonds now conducts most of his business, he is said to have a similar
presence, capable of charming and terrifying business rivals at the same

Now, however, Edmonds' brash approach to striking deals has led to him and
his company, the Central African Mining and Exploration Company (Camec),
becoming embroiled in a row over the shipment of arms to President Robert
Mugabe's dictatotrial regime in Zimbabwe.

Edmonds is facing criticism over the decision by his company to strike a
lucrative business deal with a state-run company in Zimbabwe and for his
willingness to cosy up to Mugabe's government.

In particular, critics of Edmunds, 57, who is chairman of Camec, question
whether part of the $120m (£60m) payment that Camec made earlier this year
for platinum rights in Zimbabwe - and a further $100m loan - have been used
to pay for a massive arms cache from China: semi-automatic rifles, guns and
bullets that may soon be used against Zimbabwe's impoverished population if
the situation turns ugly in the run-up to the new presidential elections on
June 27.

It is not just outside observers of Camec who are alarmed; one senior
shareholder in the Aim-listed company says the management team, including
its chief executive, Andrew Groves, has been challenged over persistent
rumours that Camec has been embroiled in an arms deal - claims senior
executives vehemently deny.

There is no suggestion that Edmonds or his associates directly channelled
any company funds to buy arms for Zimbabwe, but critics say that if you are
dealing with a morally and financially bankrupt regime, a foreign company
has no control over what the payments will be used for once they have been
handed over.

A spokesman from Camec said of the $100m loan to the Zimbabwe Mineral
Development Corporation: "Drawdown of this loan was affected by payments to
a series of mainly international creditors for a variety of commodities
primarily for seeds, grain, fertilizer and fuel. None of the drawdown
payments, so far as Camec knows, had anything to do with the acquisition of

Zimbabwe is in political and economic turmoil. It is a nation where Mugabe's
political opponents face the daily threat of murder, torture and
intimidation and, where it was revealed last week, 4m people - nearly a
third of the population - urgently need aid.

With the Zimbabwe dollar worthless abroad, Mugabe's government is only able
to pay for arms by striking deals with companies like Camec for the
exploitation of its mineral rights.

In April, the Chinese cargo ship An Yue Jiang, believed to be carrying 77
tonnes of small arms, including assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled
grenades, was docked outside Durban with arms bound for Zimbabwe.

Copies of the documentation for the Chinese ship showed that the weapons
were sent from Beijing to the Ministry of Defence in Harare. Headed
"Dangerous goods description and container packing certificate", the
document was issued on April 1, three days after the first Zimbabwe's
election which ended in a stalemate. It listed the consignment as including
3.5m rounds of ammunition for AK47 assault rifles and for small arms, 1,500
40mm rockets, 2,500 mortar shells of 60mm and 81mm calibre, as well as 93
cases of mortar tubes. The carrier is listed as the Cosco shipping company
in China.

William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, led the call from politicians
in Britain for China to suspend arms sales to Zimbabwe, saying the
international community must speak with one voice. "The Mugabe regime
continues to deny the right of the people of Zimbabwe to choose their
leaders. To supply arms to it at time when opposition activists are being
intimidated and attacked, not only sends the wrong signal, but will harm the
reputation of China," Hague said.

Dockers in Durban had refused to unload the ship while a court in the city
ruled that the shipment could not be transported across the country to
land-locked Zimbabwe; laws in South Africa prohibit the supply of arms to
"governments that systematically violate, or oppress. human rights and
fundamental freedoms".

Intelligence sources in South Africa and business sources have told The
Sunday Telegraph that the arms were, however, eventually secretly unloaded
at two African ports: Luanda, the Angolan capital and Brazzaville, the
capital of the Republic of the Congo. A commercial carrier is then believed
to have flown the two arms shipments to Harare, though other unconfirmed
reports say the ship left South Africa bound for China with its cargo

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Standard Chartered at centre of Zimbabwe sanctions inquiry

Independent, UK

By David Connett
Sunday, 15 June 2008

Standard Chartered bank is under fire for allegedly breaching EU sanctions
on Zimbabwe. The Foreign Office admitted it is investigating one case of a
possible breach of the sanctions.

Internal Foreign Office emails seen by The Independent on Sunday reveal that
officials were concerned about the bank's activities. "I'd say Standard
Chartered is my prime concern," says one email. "I've not asked them whether
they've made any of these loan payments, but there's a good chance that they
may have been forced to do so by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe."

Officials say that if a sanctions-busting case is proven "we will take
appropriate action. We are determined to see that EU sanctions are properly

The Liberal Democrat chief whip, Norman Lamb, has tabled parliamentary
questions asking if allegations of sanctions busting by Standard Chartered
were being investigated. Mr Lamb has asked the Foreign Office how many
investigations are taking place and for documents relating to the bank's
involvement. He has also asked if the EU has complained about British banks
in Zimbabwe.

Standard Chartered is one of three British-based groups to have provided an
estimated $1bn (£500m) in direct and indirect funding to Robert Mugabe's
administration. The influential newsletter Africa Confidential says that
Standard, together with Barclays and the insurance firm Old Mutual, continue
to provide an economic lifeline to the regime.

Barclays was accused last November of providing loans to senior members of
Mr Mugabe's government running farms grabbed by mobs organised by his
Zanu-PF party. Many of the farms, previously white-owned, were distributed
to leading figures in the regime rather than to landless black Zimbabweans.

According to the Foreign Office emails, Barclays insists it has not breached
sanctions. It told officials these didn't apply because the loans were made
by Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe which, while majority-owned by the London-based
group, was incorporated in Zimbabwe.

The 24 branches of Standard Chartered Bank in Zimbabwe are not believed to
be incorporated locally but are subsidiaries of the London-based bank, which
insists it complies with all sanction regulations.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Eight years on and a missed chance lingers painfully in the memory

The Times, SA

Mondli Makhanya Published:Jun 15, 2008

My first encounter with Tafadzwa was accidental. It was the final days of
the 2000 parliamentary election and Robert Mugabe was addressing a rally at
Harare's famous Rufaro Stadium.

Since Mugabe was speaking mainly in Shona, I sought an interpreter.

Tafadzwa was one of the Zanu-PF Youth Brigade marshals patrolling the
stadium and I asked him for help. At first he was reluctant, fearful of
being seen talking to a journalist. It was only when I offered to "hire" him
for the duration of the rally that he relented.

At the end of the rally we chatted a bit and he seemed quite excited about
the fact that I was from Johannesburg. He took my contact details and said
he would call me at my hotel.

The next day, a Sunday, he rocked up unannounced. We had a meal, sipped
liquids and talked at great length about the state of Zimbabwe. And about

His was a sad story. Tafadzwa came from a staunch Zanu-PF family and his
father was a rising star in the party.

In order to enhance his standing, he insisted that his whole family be

So Tafadzwa had to join Zanu-PF militias' attacks on the Movement for
Democratic Change.

A thoughtful 20-year old, he hated these tasks. They had even made him lose
faith in the party his father loved. But he also feared daddy.

He broke down and cried during that session, as he related how he longed for
an escape. This was clearly the first time he had opened up about his pain.

Was there a way I could get him to Johannesburg so he could find a job, he
wanted to know.

I asked him about his dreams and he was not interested in education. He just
wanted to get to Johannesburg and get a job and I had to help.

Since I'm not really familiar with the human trafficking side of life, I
could not help Tafadzwa. We saw each other a few more times, with him
impressing upon me the need to free him and me trying to get stories out of

I eventually left for Johannesburg and we lost contact.

During this same period I came across many activists who were dealing with
the trauma of the victims of political violence. Tafadzwa's victims. People
were being tortured, houses burnt and women of all ages kidnapped for
night-long gang rapes.

These acts were - as they are still today- carried out by Zanu-PF Youth
militias, war veterans and security forces.

When I observed the practices of Zanu-PF, I could not help but be reminded
of Inkatha in the 1980s.

The culture, the modus operandi, the warlords, the manipulation of
traditional structures and the rural population, the abuse of state
apparatus and the singular worship of the leader - Inkatha and Zanu-PF were
chalk and chalk.

On the other side was a party more in tune with the ANC and the mass
democratic movement's tradition and outlook. In the ranks of the MDC were
unionists, lefties, human rights activists, clergy, progressive academics,
and youth and gender activists. Also thrown in were some farmers and
conservatives who were just angry with Mugabe.

But the driving force behind this movement was the progressive people who
wanted a good country.

But in our foreign policy wisdom the ANC and the government it ran chose to
alienate this nascent force, labelling them puppets of Western imperialism
and stating, condescendingly, that the MDC was controlled by whites and the
black leadership was just a show.

Today we see lots of hand-wringing and hear cries of "what could we have
done" and "were we supposed to invade" and "the Zimbabwean people must
resolve their problems".

The problem is not so much about what we did not do, but what we did do.
From the word go we took sides in the Zimbabwean conflict. We actively
supported Zanu-PF and protected it from domestic and international pressure.

In the discourse of the pre-Polokwane ANC leadership, Zanu-PF were comrades
and the MDC were pariahs.

Since 2000 we, the democratic republic of South Africa, have legitimised at
least four stolen polls - elections which independent African observers
condemned as fraudulent.

We are swimming against the tide of African leadership opinion, which has
deemed Mugabe a dangerous lunatic.

As a country we rubbished a parliamentary party, which, under atrocious
conditions, consistently managed to win at least half of the counted votes.

Through our government and the ruling party, we refused to acknowledge - let
alone speak out against - the abortion of democracy, murder and other human
rights abuses.

Over the years we told African and world leaders to keep their filthy hands
off our angelic Zanu-PF, because we would talk sweetly to them.

Eight years later we are still talking sweetly to Zanu-PF, while they talk
of war. And do war.

I have been thinking a lot about Tafadzwa lately, wondering whether he might
be one of those goons carrying out Mugabe's war orders.

I have also been shaking my head a lot, thinking about lost opportunity -
about how the people in Pretoria just did not seize that moment in 2000.

How they just chose to cosy up to a party that was as rotten and addicted to
violence as the Bantustan party they so despised back home.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Fears grow of show trial for British mercenary accused of Guinea plot

Simon Mann's lawyer is barred from court amid legal chaos and secrecy

Peter Beaumont Foreign Affairs Editor
The Observer,
Sunday June 15 2008
Simon Mann, the Old Etonian mercenary accused of plotting a coup against the
president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, will appear in the
dock on Tuesday amid growing evidence that the government in the capital,
Malabo, is planning a show trial designed to embarrass its enemies.

After claims by Amnesty International that a group of Mann's alleged
co-conspirators - including the leader of the alleged advance party, Nick du
Toit - was denied a fair trial in 2004, Equatorial Guinea's government is
again deploying the tactics it has used to ensure the outcome of three
previous trials since 1998.

Amnesty says it has been told that Mann's local lawyer, Ponciano Mbomio
Nvo - who had said he planned to introduce a plea of not guilty despite
Mann's confession - has been suspended from practising law for 'defaming'
the president, a ploy the authorities in Malabo have used a number of times
before to interfere with the defence in political trials.

The case against Mann and his fellow defendants, claims Amnesty, was
completed only last Thursday. The next day the country's attorney general
announced the date of the three-day trial, giving the defence almost no time
to look at it. Under Equatorial Guinea's trial law - a system modelled on
Spain's system of investigating magistrates - both the prosecution and
defence are supposed to have several weeks to 'qualify' or challenge the

Amnesty is also concerned that Mann's trial will follow the pattern set in
previous major cases, where no material evidence is presented and the judge
instead relies on confessions extracted under torture or duress. The
location of the three-day trial is being kept a closely guarded secret until
the opening day, with high security at the country's ports.

Mann, a former officer in the SAS, was arrested in 2004 with 70 other men
when his plane landed in Zimbabwe to collect a shipment of arms purchased
from the country's state arms manufacturer. Another group, which included du
Toit, was arrested in Equatorial Guinea itself. Together they were accused
of hatching a plot to overthrow the country's president, who seized power in
a coup in 1979.

The heir to a brewing fortune and the son and grandson of England cricket
captains, Mann - who co-founded the controversial mercenary company Sandline
with Tim Spicer - was extradited to Equatorial Guinea earlier this year
after serving almost four years of a sentence in Zimbabwe for buying arms

Although Mann 'confessed' in a television interview that he was the
'manager' of the plot, he denied he was the 'main man'. He did, however,
implicate Mark Thatcher, son of the former prime minister Margaret Thatcher,
as part of the conspiracy. Mann's family has said the interview was given
'under duress' from the authorities in Malabo, as part of a plea bargain to
mitigate a sentence which potentially could have carried the death penalty.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

EGuinea minister implicated in coup plot


1 hour ago

MALABO (AFP) - A minister from Equatorial Guinea has been accused of
involvement in the 2004 coup attempt there for which mercenary Simon Mann
faces trial, a judicial source told AFP Saturday.

Fortunato Ofa Mbo, the Secretary General to the Government Presidency, was
accused of having kept secret the information he had on a businessman's bid
to destabilise the country, said the source who wished to remain anonymous.

Ofa Mbo, who at the time was the fisheries minister, had allegedly helped
the work of Ely Calil, a Nigerian-born Lebanese businessman, said the

Ofa Mbo has not been arrested, said the same source.

The trial of British mercenary Simon Mann is due to start on Tuesday and is
expected to last two days.

Mann, who was educated at England's elite private school Eton and served in
Britain's Special Air Services (SAS), was secretly extradited from Zimbabwe
in January.

He had been arrested there in 2004 with 61 alleged accomplices when their
plane touched down in Harare on route to Equatorial Guinea.

The authorities there accused them of trying to pick up arms before teaming
up with a team led by a South African, Nick du Toit. Du Toit has since been
jailed for 34 years in Equatorial Guinea.

In an interview with Britain's Channel 4 News from his prison cell in
Malabo, Mann acknowledged having been involved in the coup plot but said
that he had not been the mastermind.

He accused Spain, South Africa and named Ely Calil as having been involved.

Equatorial Guinea has also issued an international arrest warrant for former
British premier Margaret Thatcher's son Mark, accusing him of having been
one of those behind the plot.

Equatorial Guinea's hardline President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has ruled the
country since he overthrew his own uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, in 1979.

In last month's parliamentary election, the president's ruling party and his
allies obtained 99 of 100 seats in elections, according to the official

Back to the Top
Back to Index