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Mugabe mob kidnaps wife and child of MDC mayor of Harare

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 11:44PM BST 17/06/2008
President Robert Mugabe's onslaught against his opponents widened to include
their families when the wife and child of the mayor of Harare were abducted.
Armed men raided the house of Emmanuel Chiroto, a senior member of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change and recently elected mayor.

They burned down the house with petrol bombs and kidnapped his wife,
Abigail, 27, and their four-year-old son, Ashley. The boy was released a few
hours later, but Mrs Chiroto is still missing.

The incident bore all the hallmarks of a state-organised operation designed
to break the MDC's organisation by targeting its key figures. Five of the
MDC's local organisers have been murdered.

But Mr Chiroto was not at home when the men arrived. The signs were that the
operation was deliberately aimed at his family. "They came in two un-marked
pick-ups," said Mr Chiroto, 43. "The maid escaped out the back and heard two
bangs. I think it was petrol bombs. The house went up in flames and they
took my wife and son. My wife was screaming."

Both Mrs Chiroto and Ashley had been staying away from the house, fearing
that it would be attacked by Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. They had returned to
the home in the township of Hatcliffe shortly before the raid took place.
"She had been at our house for an hour so they were watching it," said Mr

But kidnapping a child does not seem to have entered the gang's plan. Ashley
was dropped off by unknown people at a Harare police station a few hours

Mr Chiroto said: "He told us 'mummy was blindfolded and they took her to the
bush, I don't know whether she was alive or dead'."

Harare is an MDC stronghold and the party won 45 of the 46 seats on the city
council in the elections held in March. But Ignatius Chombo, the local
government minister, refused to allow the councillors formally to take
office. They are still banned from entering Harare's city hall.

Mr Chiroto was elected mayor of the city by his fellow MDC councillors
during an informal meeting on Sunday.

Many MDC officials have been abducted since early May. Most were later
murdered. Many others are still unaccounted for.

Mr Chiroto fears that his wife may have been killed.

At least 60 political murders have been recorded since the presidential
election's first round in March. The wave of violence has driven about
50,000 people from their homes.

Mr Mugabe faced rare criticism from a fellow African leader when Raila
Odinga, the prime minister of Kenya, described Zimbabwe as "an eyesore on
the African continent".

Mr Odinga also said that the presidential election run-off next week
involving Mr Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangari, the MDC leader, had been

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Chemical warfare waged on civilians

June 18, 2008

Example of severe injury on buttocks of recent violence victim.

By Our Correspondents

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s militia, operating in the farming areas of Mashonaland provinces, are allegedly applying highly toxic herbicides to the injuries of their victims, especially those sustained in the buttocks, to exacerbate pain as well as increase the chances of fatality.

The Mashonaland constituencies are former strongholds of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF which swung to support the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the March 29 harmonised elections.

In making the shocking disclosures of alleged Zanu-PF brutal strategies, nine days before the presidential run-off, which pits Mugabe against favourite candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC next week, sources claimed the use of the chemicals had so far not come to light as doctors “have only been content with treating the injuries instead of investigating the causes of their extent, particularly the peeling of the outer skin, blistering, ulceration and cell death in skin tissues”.

Sources in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East identified widely used herbicide Paraquat as the agent being used. Paraquat is a highly toxic herbicide which medical experts say can be fatal if it enters the bloodstream or when swallowed by accident even in small measures. According to the findings of our research, the presence of scratches, cuts, and sores substantially increases fatality risks.

The sources said Zanu-PF militias, led by war veterans and armed state security agents, had been administering this kind of punishment on victims of violence since the retribution started after Mugabe’s loss to Tsvangirai in the presidential election held on March 29.

The sources said Paraquat, described as a quick-acting, non-selective herbicide, which destroys green plant tissue on contact and, by translocation within the plant, was widely used in the farming areas to kill any green weeds in preparing land for planting.

“When they beat up perceived MDC supporters they then proceed to pour cold water laced with Paraquat on the injuries. Apart from increasing the pain, this inflames the injuries and prolongs the healing process,” said a government source, familiar with operations of the militia, speaking strictly on condition he is not named due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

“If you carefully look at the injuries sustained by some of the opposition victims, especially those sustained in the buttocks through beating, you can see that they are unusual and not consistent with beating. Bones in buttocks are left exposed and grisly. The herbicide eats through the tissues, hence the horrific sight of the injuries.”

He said there were MDC supporters in the hospitals that have been brought in with life-threatening injuries consistent with the application of Paraquat.

“I witnessed two incidents in Chiweshe last week,” he said.

Research revealed that Paraquat is generally used as a quaternary ammonium herbicide. It is dangerously poisonous to humans if swallowed. Paraquat was first produced for commercial purposes in 1961 and is today among the most commonly used herbicides.

Paraquat has, however, been banned in 13 countries including Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the UK. Its use is highly restricted in the United States due to its acute oral toxicity and ill-health associated with its operations particularly on the farms and plantations. It is, however, widely used in developing countries, including Zimbabwe.

The European Union approved the use of Paraquat in 2004. Sweden, supported by Denmark, Austria, and Finland, brought the European Union commission to court to challenge the approval. In July, 2007, the court annulled the directive authorising the use of Paraquat as an active plant protection substance.

Experts say even a single swig of Paraquat, immediately spat out, can cause death as a result of fibrous tissue developing in the lungs leading to asphyxiation. Long term exposures to paraquat would most likely cause lung and eye damage.

Statistics show that 93 percent of fatalities from Paraquat poisoning worldwide are cases of intentional self-administration; that is suicides. The pesticide is regarded as a major suicide agent in Third World countries.

Paraquat is such a widely used suicide agent in Third World countries due to its widespread availability, low toxic dose - two teaspoons being enough to kill - and relative cheapness. There are campaigns to control or even ban Paraquat outright globally, and there are moves to restrict its availability by requiring user education and the locking up of Paraquat stores.

“There is a chemical war against supporters of the MDC which no-one has been aware of,” another government insider said.

Douglas Gwatidzo, the spokesman for the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, said while his organization has not been alerted on the use of the Paraquat on victims of political violence, the medical fraternity was baffled by the gravity of the injuries and length of time they were taking to heal despite the fact that some of the wounds were not burns.

“We have been wondering why they are taking so long to heal,” said Gwatidzo when approached by The Zimbabwe Times. “We are now going to take samples to toxicology to find out why. I will not be surprised if herbicides are detected because most of the victims claim that water was poured on them after they were beaten. I will be informing my colleagues to check this route.”

According to Gwatidzo, doctors were presently attending to more than 5 000 victims of political violence hospitalized in private hospitals in Harare.

David Parirenyatwa, the minister for Health and Child Welfare was not available for comment.

The MDC claims over 70 of its supporters have been killed while 25 000 have been displaced by the Zanu-PF campaign of retribution and intimidation.

A Zimbabwean toxicologist based in the United States confirmed the severely toxic nature of Paraquat on humans. He says at least three levels of toxicity to humans can be defined; these being acute (or immediate effects), chronic toxicity (long-term effects) and reproductive toxicity (effects on unborn children or children subsequently born to previously exposed individuals).

At the worst, acute toxicity due to exposure to Paraquat can lead to death by respiratory failure. Over the long term, Paraquat affects the Lungs and liver and can also lead to kidney failure. “These are but just a selection of a whole range of effects that can be seen as a result of toxic exposure to Paraquat,” he said.

“Reproductively, the levels of Paraquat to which the victims are reportedly being exposed to, coupled by the route of such exposure, which increases access to the blood stream can lead to increased fetal deaths, as well as to incomplete development of fetuses.”

“The particular fetal abnormality that doctors can expect to see long term is incomplete bone development in children born to parents exposed to high doses of Paraquat.”

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Zimbabwe's voters told: choose Mugabe or you face a bullet

Chris McGreal reports from the centre of the country, where violence and intimidation are increasing ahead of the run-off elections

Teachers who were beaten for supporting the opposition after the first round of elections hide their faces for fear of being targeted again

Teachers who were beaten for supporting the opposition after the first round of elections hide their faces for fear of being targeted again. Photograph: Robin Hammond

The soldiers and ruling party militiamen herded the people of Rusape to an open field at the back of the local sports club and made their point crystal clear.

"Your vote is your bullet," a soldier told the terrified crowd.

Everyone knew what he meant.

"They are saying we will die if we don't vote for Robert Mugabe, that there will be war if we don't vote for Robert Mugabe," said a wary young woman holding a small child. Mugabe says it too in speeches across the land ahead of next week's run-off presidential election against the man who beat him in the first round, Morgan Tsvangirai.

But the woman was not waiting around to discuss that. Darkness had fallen in Rusape, a small town in bloodied Manicaland, and she grew alarmed as she realised she might not make it home before the unofficial curfew put in place by the ruling party militia.

Already the Mitsubishi pick-up trucks filled with young men carrying sticks, spears and knives were out on the streets preparing to move door-to-door, beating, and sometimes killing, anyone associated with the opposition.

"They hunt the opposition. They said they ate human liver and drank urine during the war and so they were prepared for war again," said the young woman.

The militiamen found Farai Gamba, a ward organiser for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), at the weekend and shot him dead. The Rusape chairman of a group of Zimbabwean independent election monitors disappeared on Saturday night and his whereabouts are not known. Many others have been tortured at the local militia base.

The de facto curfew is in place because the ruling Zanu-PF does not want witnesses to the terror that engulfs Zimbabwe at night, and increasingly during the day, as the party seeks to avoid a repeat of three months ago, when Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe, albeit without an outright majority to secure an outright win.

A campaign that began with the tested tactic of beatings has evolved into a full-blown military strategy of abductions and murders of opposition MDC activists and supporters. More than 100 have been killed and 200 have disappeared. Thousands more have been beaten so badly they will bear the scars for life. A number of rapes have also been reported, including of three women who had wooden poles thrust into their vaginas. But it is not clear at this stage if the attacks are a deliberate part of the terror strategy.

Often the corpses are hidden, but occasionally the killers like to display their handiwork as a warning. Chokuse Muphango was murdered in Buhera South last week. His killers put his body on the back of a truck and drove it through town announcing: "We have killed the dog."

MDC members of parliament, mayors and councillors have been burned out of their homes and terrorised into fleeing. Hundreds of opposition activists are in jail on trumped up charges of inciting violence after being tortured and dumped at police stations.

Tens of thousands of known opposition supporters have been forced from their homes or had their identity cards destroyed so they cannot vote. The government is also laying the ground for extensive rigging by purging the election process of independent officials, such as teachers, and putting state workers and soldiers in their place.

Anyone who might stand in the way is pursued. Independent Zimbabwean groups that monitor the polls, campaign for human rights or assist the injured have been driven underground after their offices were raided and leaders arrested. Foreign aid workers have been banned from rural areas so they cannot witness the violence and intimidation.

Mugabe has said time and again he regards the upcoming vote not as an election but as a continuation of the liberation struggle against western imperialism and its "puppet", Tsvangirai. "This country shall not again come under the rule and control of the white man, direct or indirect. We are masters of our destiny. Equally, anyone who seeks to undermine our land reform programme, itself the bedrock of our politics from time immemorial, seeks and gets war. On these two interrelated matters we are very clear. We are prepared to go to war," Mugabe told an election rally at the weekend.

The strategy to fight back with violence was agreed by Mugabe's security cabinet, the Joint Operations Command, of senior military and party officials shortly after Zanu-PF was shocked to lose the first round of elections.

The campaign targeted provinces such as Manicaland, Mashonaland and the Midlands where support for the ruling party was traditionally strong but swung significantly to the opposition as the economy continued to implode under the weight of hyperinflation, mass unemployment and widespread food shortages.

Zanu-PF realised it had no prospect of reversing the economic decline. Since the first election, inflation has surged to 1.6m% and the Zimbabwe dollar has fallen from Z$50m to the pound to Z$8bn to the pound. A teacher typically earns Z$40bn a month. A litre of cooking oil costs Z$20bn.

So the ruling party is quashing the opposition's ability to organise on the ground by driving out local MDC activists and then terrorising ordinary voters. The MDC fears that it may be working.

The young woman clutching her child in Rusape certainly got the message. "We are scared. We are not going to vote. We just want to live. Some people are saying they will vote Zanu-PF," she said.

The MDC's national election director, Ian Makone, was forced into hiding more than a month ago. He will meet only after dark - "I work at night. I never go out during the day" - and at an empty house.

Since Makone went underground his campaign manager, Ken Nyeve, and security guard, Godfrey Kauzani, have been abducted and murdered along with Better Chokururama, the driver for Makone's wife, Theresa, who is an opposition MP. "Better's body was found first. They found the other two four days later. They were stabbed with knives and screwdrivers. Their eyes were gouged out and their faces burned ... There's a pattern. They torture you. They make you really, really feel the pain before you die," said Makone.

"They were looking for me. We hadn't told anyone where I went in to hiding, not even our staff. Maybe if we had told them they could have survived after telling."

Chokururama had already spent several weeks in hospital after a severe beating after the first election. "After the election it was clear their strategy was one of retribution. They made up their minds they were giving in to this violence and started to position themselves in key constituencies," said Makone. "Every day there are things that happen that I say, 'what the hell are we doing?' I meet people who say, 'people are dying, people are suffering, is it worth doing this?'"

In Manicaland, where the vote swung substantially away from Zanu-PF to deliver an MDC victory, the strategy is overseen by the air force chief, Perence Shiri, who strikes terror into the population as the man who led the Fifth Brigade as it killed about 20,000 people during the Matabeleland massacres in the 1980s.

Among those who have fled rural areas of the province to the main town of Mutare are five MDC members of parliament who dare not move around their constituencies or even sleep in their homes. They include Lynette Karenyi, the MP for Chimanimani West. "They have put Zanu-PF bases in each and every ward of my constituencies where they are taking people and beating them," she said.

Karenyi said the pro-Mugabe rallies in her constituency are being led by Shiri and the Matabeleland governor, Tinaye Chigudu. "Shiri and Chigudu held a meeting where they ordered people to beat MDC supporters. Afterwards the mob went to beat people and loot houses," she said. "They also told the voters to say they don't know how to read and write when they vote and they need help to vote for Robert Mugabe. People are now afraid that if they don't ask for help Zanu-PF will know they voted for the opposition."

Another of the opposition MPs who fled to Mutare is Prosper Mutseyami. "They came to my rural home looking for me in the middle of the night three times," he said. "They're picking off all my party workers. There's 28 in police custody charged with inciting violence. They include the ward chairperson, three councillors, the organising secretary." He said they were targeting election agents so polling stations would not be monitored and to discourage political activity.

"I'm being denied permission to hold rallies on the grounds that there's no police manpower. The funny part is Zanu-PF are holding rallies daily in my constituency."

Mutseyami says the forced Zanu-PF meetings are often led by a Major General Bandama. "He threatens people. They say the last time you voted you voted wrongly. If you don't vote Robert Mugabe we will bring a war," he said.

An MDC district organiser in Makoni, who did not wish to be named, said that militiamen beat her children to force her to unlock her bedroom door during a late-night raid on her home. The activist, clearly still shocked by the ordeal, said she was forced into a vehicle, ordered to strip and repeatedly assaulted over the following hours. "They beat me and shouted: You are a bitch. They left me at a police station. They took a bullet and threw it at me. They said: kiss that bullet. They meant I was going to die," she said. The police threw the woman into a cell after charging her with public violence.

Zanu-PF has also targeted human rights lawyers, forcing them in to hiding or exile. Chris Ndlovu has defied the threats to represent opposition supporters hauled before the courts in Mutare. "The numbers are staggering. In some small places there are more than 100 people in prison. They are even arresting schoolchildren under 14. I have one case of a man of 94 years accused of public violence. In 16 years as a lawyer I have never witnessed this. It's unprecedented," he said.

"We have the military in rural areas and they target MDC supporters. They abduct them at night and take them to their bases where they claim to be 'reorienting' them but where they are just torturing people. When they are done they dump them at the police station where the police have no choice but to find an excuse to charge them. So the victim is accused of being the perpetrator of the violence."

The militia has made a particular point of targeting teachers, who have traditionally acted as neutral election officials. Some schools have been left so denuded of staff they now barely function.

Felistance Sithole lives in Rusape but dares not return to teach at a school in nearby Makoni South after she was threatened because she was a polling officer in the first election. "I won't do it again. I'm afraid. Most of us are afraid," she said.

That is what Zanu-PF intended. In place of teachers and other unreliable elements, next week's election will be overseen by party functionaries, soldiers and civil servants who owe their jobs to Zanu-PF.

Makone says the violence will have an impact. "We're going to lose some of the rural votes. My estimate is we can afford to lose 200,000 votes in rural areas but we need to make it up in urban votes. We are going door to door in urban areas and begging for votes. We are holding secret meetings at night in people's houses, telling people this is their chance."

Makone calculates that at least half a million potential MDC supporters did not vote in Zimbabwe's two main cities, Harare and Bulawayo, in the first round of elections and that they could tip the balance firmly in Tsvangirai's favour.

Zanu-PF seems to have recognised the same thing and is now targeting Harare's townships. In recent days, the ruling party's militia has hit Epworth, a township on Harare's eastern flank where Zanu-PF has established five bases and what is euphemistically called an "information centre" where MDC supporters are persuaded to see the error of their ways.

In Hatfield township, the militia burned down an MDC councillor's house. He wasn't at home. His wife and seven-year-old son died in the fire.

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War of terror

The Guardian,
Wednesday June 18 2008

Robert Mugabe said on Sunday that much blood had been shed for Zimbabwe's
independence, and that he would not surrender control of it for a mere cross
on the ballot paper. True to his word, he has spilled more blood to ensure
that he stays in charge. All dictators are familiar with the calculation he
is making. Will the terror he has unleashed overcome the hatred of his rule,
or the desperation of his people? As the Guardian's Chris McGreal reports
today, a campaign that began seven weeks ago with beatings has turned into a
pogrom in which opposition activists have been abducted, tortured, murdered
and raped.

Ian Makone, the national election director for the Movement for Democratic
Change, is in hiding and works only by night. To find out where he was, they
abducted his campaign manager Ken Nyeve, security guard Godfrey Kauzani and
his wife's driver Better Chokururama and tortured them with knives and
screwdrivers. When their bodies were recovered, their eyes were gouged out
and their faces burned. If the terrorised people of Rusape in Manicaland
still do not get Zanu-PF's message, they are herded into an open field at
the back of the local sports centre and told by a soldier: "Your vote is
your bullet."

The MDC has paid dearly for its victory in the first round of elections on
March 29. More than 100 of their party have been killed, and 200 have
disappeared. Hundreds more have been beaten so badly that they are scarred
for life. Women have been violated with long poles and tens of thousands
forced from their homes or had their ID cards destroyed. Without these they
can not vote. Teachers traditionally act as independent officials in
elections, but they are now so terrified they are being replaced by less
squeamish state officials, such as soldiers. The campaign devised by
Mugabe's security cabinet, the Joint Operations Command (JOC), has a
specific objective. It is to quash the MDC's capacity to organise on the
ground in those provinces - such as Manicaland, Mashonaland and the
Midlands - which deserted the ruling party in the first round.

The MDC's national officials fare little better. Its leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, has been repeatedly arrested. His number two, Tendai Biti, the
MDC's general secretary, is locked up in one the country's worst prisons. He
faces a charge of treason, which carries the death penalty, on the basis of
a document that is a crude forgery. Either violence wins the second round
or, if Mr Mugabe is still not sure a few days before the election, it allows
him to cancel it. There is not a scintilla of doubt that the violence is
planned by the state and enacted by police, soldiers and party militants.
But Mr Mugabe still claims, as he did yesterday, that if it does not stop,
Morgan Tsvangirai will be held responsible.

There are 150 election observers from the South African Development
Community already in the country. They have not yet been seen by the MDC in
the outlying provinces where the murders are taking place. If they do
travel, they are accompanied by Zanu-PF officials, so the prospect of them
meeting any of the victims of the violence is slim. The UN special envoy
Haile Menkerios is also in Harare and 350 other monitors paid for by the UN
are expected. Thus far they have been silent, leaving the JOC free to
terrorise, confident that their actions will not be witnessed. Some have
raised their voices: the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the retired Archbishop
Desmond Tutu and the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. The obscenity
of events in Zimbabwe does not simply lie in their brutality or scale. It
lies in the fact they are taking place under the noses of southern Africa,
whose governments behave as if they are powerless to stop them. The MDC has
little option but to endure Zanu-PF's blows, and the opposition think that
whatever the result, it will be a transformational moment. But there are at
least 11 more days of this terror to go.



  .... singtothebreeze
  Jun 18 08, 00:57am (about 6 hours ago)

  What can one really say here..??

  --- Well. F*cking sociopathic bastards - for a start.

  I did not imagine that Zanu-PF would go this far in terrorizing their
fellow Zimbabweans...

  ....  UncleVanya
  Jun 18 08, 01:09am (about 5 hours ago)

  Many a true word is spoken in jest -- if things go belly up for Mr Ebagum
and Cronies. If any of them turn up at Dover port or Terminal 5 Heathrow,
will our wonderful government allow them to stay, because returning them to
Zimbabwe for justice might be agin the 'Yumin Rites act'. I keep banging on
about this, but this is a serious question! If the situation in that sad
country becomes worse and descends into civil war. Will we see more refugees
and asylum seekers, if hey can, heading for Britian?

  If Mr Mugabwe has a 'Death Wish' like Hitler did at the end of WW2, and
brought Germany to destruction. Will we see Zanu-Pf Cronies leaving the
country with whatever looted spoils they can carry. I doubt very much if New
Labour has the 'cojones' to return any alleged criminals from Zanu-Pf to be
returned to Zimbawe for trial. There will be too many 'Yumin Rites' Lawyers
only too willing to bamboozle matters in the hope of releiving Mr Mugawe's
pals of their loot.

  ....  bannedbycastro
  Jun 18 08, 01:24am (about 5 hours ago)

  ZANU-PF is socialist party, and is modeled on the Eastern European
Communist Parties, it even maintains a politburo. Strangely, the Guardian
never draws attention to its Socialism.

  What is really sad, is that having ignored all the murders and the
destruction of democracy in Zimbabwe, the left is suddenly worried about the
mess that allowing a left-wing dictatorship to stay in power for decades
does. I say you should continue to support him, think of him as in the
vanguard of the "green' movement. When he came into power the life
expectancy was 60 in 1990 and now it is 37; infant mortality has increased
from 53 to 90 per 1000 (in the 'Palestinian' occupied territories the
figures are 78 years and 20).

  Mugabe is a fearless leader and has made sure that Zimbabwe is not
contributing to the world over-population problems. Well done comrade!

  Still, make sure you blame the US or UK governments.

  ....  podgyhodgy
  Jun 18 08, 01:45am (about 5 hours ago)

  So does torture work then or doesn't it?

  ....  JoeStarlin
  Jun 18 08, 02:16am (about 4 hours ago)

  ZANU-PF is a socialist party, and is modeled on the Eastern European
Communist Parties, it even maintains a politburo. Strangely, the Guardian
never draws attention to its Socialism.

  Agree 100%

  The reason for this IMO is that The Guardian is only doing the job the
establishment set it up to do. Which is to pretend to be a counter point to
fascism while in reality it is one of its greatest proponents.

  Please remember Zimbabwe might not have oil but it does have vast Gold
Platinum and precious stone reserves worth trillions, and a mainly useless
non productive population , in need of establishment culling. All the time
the powers that be are still getting their over large cut.of Zimbabwe's
resources a Mugabe type figure can go on murdering his own people to his
black hearts contempt. The establishment will make their move one day, just
like they are currently doing in the middle east. It is only a matter of
time. Dieing of AIDS and starving Africans will be one of the last reasons
for them making their move, but it will most certainly be the excuse, when
and only when it is far too late to save most of the people.

  ....  geronimo
  Jun 18 08, 03:17am (about 3 hours ago)

  OK, Mugabe is a senile tyrant obsessed with the wrongs of colonialism...

  But why this British obsession with the guy who overturned the most racist
colonial system in Africa?

  I know the white farmers who composed 2% of the population, but still
managed to keep 97% of the best land for over a decade after 'independence'
have lots of good contacts in the UK and US medi..... but please could we
have a bit more coverage of, say, the millions - MILLIONS - dying in Central
Africa, for example??

  ....  JessicaAshdown
  Jun 18 08, 03:24am (about 3 hours ago)

  Have the Mugabe apologists shown up yet? I wonder what excuses they have
for the violence this despicable man and his goons have unleashed?

  ....  ShoelessJoe
  Jun 18 08, 05:03am (about 1 hour ago)

  Surely violent suppression of democracy, including brutal murder of
innocents is something that needs to be brought to world attention? I can't
believe some of the initial comments on here which seem to apologise for
this evil regime.

  ....  HappyPal
  Jun 18 08, 06:01am (26 minutes ago)

  Has Mandela said anything yet in regard to this?

  As a Palestinian I'm proud to have Mandela on our side but where is he
when it comes to the Mugabe terror?

  And terror is the best way to describe what Mugabe is doing in Zimbabwe.
Cheer terror everyone should try to put an end to instead of getting
distracted by the Israeli lobby and their attempt to make it look as if
criticism of it is the worst thing happening in the world.

  Africa has been shamelessly ignored and taken for granted by a Western
world with a very narrow definition of what terrorism is and where it is.

  The obsession with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah the West has is
indicative of the irrationial set of priorities they've created as a result
of how they're always taking into consideration every American whim.

  What Mugabe is doing is classic terror. It cannot get any purer than this:
To torture the victims as they try to escape in plain view of the world.

  The very first definition of terrorism describes it as a tool of a ruling
party against its own country.

  If Kosovo was worth it then Zimbabwe is ten times more so.

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Pre-election observers confirm "horrendous" violence in Zimbabwe

Monsters and Critics

Jun 17, 2008, 19:38 GMT

Harare - The Pan-African Parliament observer mission, one of only two
official observer groups in Zimbabwe before the June 27 run- off
presidential election, Tuesday confirmed that government supporters had
hacked off the hands and feet of a woman and then firebombed her house.

'Our team has been to her graveside. She was chopped,' said Marwick Khumalo,
the head of the observer group. 'The man (her husband, Patson Chipiro) is
living in fear.'

Also Tuesday night, Haile Menkerios, the United Nations assistant- secretary
for political affairs sent by UN secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon to assess the
political climate, spent two hours with President Robert Mugabe, according
to diplomatic sources said.

No details were released after the meeting.

PAP has doubled the number of its observers to 40 since the first round
elections on March 29, which set up the run-off between long- serving
President Robert Mugabe, who has vowed to hang on to power at all costs, and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

A team from the mission travelled to Mhondoro, 150 km south of Harare where,
according to confirmed press reports, the 45-year-old woman, Dadirai
Chipiro, had her hands and feet hacked off, was then thrown, still alive,
into her house, where ZANU(PF) youths then hurled a petrol bomb inside and
incinerated her.

The PAP team said it was just one of 'so many horrendous stories' it had
confirmed after only two days in the field.

'That was not the only incident,' Khumalo said. He compared it to the
relatively peaceful first round of voting in March.

'It is really regrettable that this time around, violence has resurfaced.
Now violence is at the top of the agenda of this electoral process,' he

Sources in the mission said the PAP vehicle was stopped at a roadblock
manned by ZANU(PF) youths a few kilometres from the burnt- out home, but
managed to pass through.

Khumalo condemned remarks in the last week by Mugabe warning that ZANU(PF)
would 'go to war' if he lost to Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change.

'That is unfortunate, it is regrettable,' he said. 'Beating the drums of war
is not acceptable in any situation, because you know the capacity that
violence has in upsetting society.'

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Mugabe meets UN envoy as govt reduces observers

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro Wednesday 18 June 2008

HARARE - A top United Nations (UN) envoy met President Robert Mugabe on
Tuesday as the Zimbabwean leader's government announced it would accredit
only a small fraction of the 50 000 local observers who applied to observe
the country's run-off presidential election nine days away.

Diplomatic sources said UN assistant secretary general for political affairs
Haile Menkerios discussed with Mugabe "the technical requirements of the
June 27 election and how the UN could assist towards a free and fair vote".

It was not immediately clear whether Menkerios, who arrived in Harare on
Monday and remains in the Zimbabwean capital until Friday, would also meet
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai starts as favourite to win the June 27 run-off poll that is being
held because the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
leader defeated Mugabe in the first round election on March 29 but fell
short of the margin required to takeover the presidency.

But political violence has marked campaigning for the run-off poll, amid
charges by the MDC that Mugabe has unleashed state security forces and
ruling ZANU PF party militias to wage violence against the opposition party's
supporters and structures in an attempt to regain the upper hand in the
second ballot.

The opposition party says that at least 66 of its members have been killed
in political violence over the past two months while several thousands more
had been displaced from their homes.

The Southern African Development Community, Pan African Parliament and the
African Union have all indicated they would increase observers to Zimbabwe's
run-off poll, while the United States and Britain on Monday urged Mugabe to
accept international monitors to help stem political violence and ensure a
free and fair poll.

But Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told journalists that Harare would
severely cut back on local observers, saying only 10 000 out of the 50 000
who had applied would be accredited to observe the election.

Local observers who have an intimate knowledge of the local political
terrain are crucial to ensuring a free and fair contest as they often work
as the eyes and ears of foreign observers who usually are too few to cover
the whole country.

"We have 50 000 applicants and these would be scaled down to 10 000," said

He did not say what criteria the government would use to select observers
but said those applicants who were aligned to the MDC would not be

The government accuses nearly all the civic groups that observe elections,
in particular the country's largest independent election observer group, the
Zimbabwe election Support Network (ZESN), of links to the MDC.

Meanwhile, the Pan African Parliament observer team has expressed concern at
the high levels of political violence, which it said were not conducive to
the holding of free and fair elections.

"We have heard horrendous stories and seen unpleasant pictures (of political
violence). We have seen gravesites and have confirmed deaths and murders
with the police," team leader Marwick Khumalo told journalists in Harare.

Khumalo did not blame anyone for the political violence, saying such details
will be contained in the final report of the mission. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe Elections 2008 : Mapping Terror in Zimbabwe

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Mapping Terror in Zimbabwe
Sokwanele : 18 June 2008

Each icon represents a single case of violence; the pin colours identify the perpetrator groups involved in the incident. Over 1,000 cases of political violence and intimidation, carried out after the March 29th elections, are represented on this map.

They came to our home at 8.00pm and took us to their base and beat us throughout the night. They kept us without anything to eat for the next day then they gave us a final beating at the end of the second day and let us go. There were youths and war vets. (Victim testimony)

On March 29th 2008 Zimbabweans went to the polls and changed history. For the first time since Independence in 1980, the Zanu PF party lost its majority in parliament and Robert Mugabe lost the Presidential vote. The Zanu PF regime immediately embarked on a campaign of violence and reprisal attacks against an unarmed peaceful civilian population. Images of brutalised people accompanied by video testimony from the victims has been viewed around the world instilling horror in all those who have seen it.

Sokwanele has mapped a sample of the cases based on recorded first hand testimony from victims, and the interactive map so far bears witness to over 1,000 confirmed experiences of terror and intimidation. The map can be viewed on our website at this url:

We have to stress that this map reflects only a sample of the cases of violence in Zimbabwe. The experiences here represent those people who have found a way out of the areas where they were being persecuted to find assistance, or it reflects those who have managed to find someone that they have been able to report their experience to. Their stories, on this map, come from a variety of sources who have carefully recorded their testimony: we thank those people for sharing their records with us towards the development of this map.

It is a sad truth that there are many more Zimbabweans who have NOT found a way to testify to what has happened to them, so their experiences are not represented on this map. We ask when you explore the mapped information - and read the data and reports and watch the video testimony provided alongside the map - that you keep in mind the many people whose voices are still unheard.


On Monday this week (and a short ten days before the Presidential run-off election) the international media carried reports that Robert Mugabe has been publically threatening to arrest the MDC leadership.

Referring to the political violence at a rally in Kadoma on Monday, Robert Mugabe said "There is now a pattern across the country that has to stop". He said:

Sooner rather than later we are going to accuse the MDC and the party leadership of being liable and responsible for those crimes of violence [...] We are telling them we will arrest you in broad daylight [...]

Zimbabwean supporters of both political parties know that blaming the MDC party for the violence is simply not true. The violence has been so extensive that the whole country has been drawn into it and everyone knows who the perpetrators are and who the victims are. We also all know that the root cause for the violence is because an unpopular party is in the final stages of losing power through a skewed democratic process.

In addition to the undeniable grassroots reality of all our experiences, there have also been a range of reports written by independant organisations clearly pointing out that the first-hand testimony of victims has over and over again placed responsibility for the acts of violence against them in the hands of people allied to the ruling elite or carrying out instructions issued by those currently steering Zanu PF through the electoral process. The media too has provided extensive coverage of a violent rampage against a civilian population.

This fact is supported by the testimony used in the construction of the Sokwanele violence map as well. Using the information provided in witness testimony, we have colour-coded the map icons to represent the perpetrator groups involved in the crimes committed against them.

The colour wash of icons across the map clearly shows that the violence is state-orchestrated. The shades of green represent perpetrators allied to the Zanu PF party, the blues reflect cases where the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) have been involved, and the red icons highlight violent acts carried out by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).

The interactive map allows viewers to focus on acts of violence by location, showing which perpetrator groups were most active by area. The sample we have mapped so far shows that Harare, for example, has a strong army involvement in the violence, whereas the violence in Mashonaland East province appears to have been dominated by the Zanu PF youth militia. One explanation could be that the Zanu PF party is forced to use state instruments in MDC strongholds, while they can resort to youth militia and supporters in the Zanu PF strongholds.

We have provided links to reports offering more comprehensive analysis and interpretation alongside the map as well.

Post-election violence or pre-election violence?

This map is as much about post-election violence following the March 29th elections as it is about establishing the pre-election context for the forthcoming Presidential run-off ballot due to be held very soon on the 27th June.

The link between political violence and the Zanu PF regime's struggle for power is indisputable. To this end we have tied the location data provided in victim testimonies to Zimbabwean electoral constituencies.

Each icon opens up to provide a snapshot of information about the case: which constituency and province it occured in, which perpetrator group (or groups) was complicit in the political violence and - very broadly - what happened (assault with a weapon, intimidation, displacement etc).

The information bubble also provides a short summary of the results from the March 29th elections, based on the constituency within which the act of violence was carried out, and it provides a link to provincial maps which contextualise each constituency in relation to others in the province.

In addition to this the data has been analysed to highlight the ten consitituencies most affected by violence based on the sample we have mapped. At the time of writing this article, the ten constituencies most affected from our sample of 1300 cases are:

  1. Muzarabani North
  2. Hurungwe North
  3. Mutoko East
  4. Mudzi North
  5. Mt Darwin North
  6. Uzumba
  7. Mutoko North
  8. Maramba-Pfungwe
  9. Muzarabani South
  10. Mudzi West

(This list will automatically adjust and update to reflect the changing story as we add more cases to the map).


An analysis section accompanies the map. This section gives a synthesised overview of the testimony data and re-presents it in simple pie chart format. The pie charts summarise the cases represented in our sample by the numbers of cases per province, by perpetrator groups involved in the violence, and by the different criminal acts of violence carried out against the victims (e.g. assault with a weapon, strangulation etc).

The Sokwanele map of terror currently represents a sample of more than 1,000 cases of violence but we plan to keep adding more cases to the map as time goes on. The charts and summarised information will all be updated accordingly. Please visit the map to see the information it contains, but keep coming back as we update and add more.

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State makes U-turn on food distribution

June 18, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE-The government has apparently made a sudden U-turn over the banning
of humanitarian relief agencies, claiming it has instead suspended
operations of certain organisations to facilitate investigations into
political interferences by unnamed non- governmental organisations.

There are concerns the government is directing its venom at civil society
and other non-governmental organisations in desperate attempts to avert an
embarrassing second defeat of President Robert Mugabe.

For the past two weeks, state security agents have closed down civil society
organisations and other NGOs, arresting scores of officials in the process,
much to the chagrin of the opposition and the international community,
including the United States of America and Britain.

Mugabe, who squares up with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the winner of the
first round of polling on June 27, accuses civil society organisations and
non-governmental organisations of using food to campaign for his rival.

However, after a barrage of condemnation over his banning of the operations
of relief organisations, which have been feeding millions of starving
Zimbabweans, the government says the suspension of the field work was not
tantamount to banning or de-registration of the NGOs.

The Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare Mr Sidney Mhishi, wrote on June 13 to all NGOs trying to
clarify the order. In the letter, Mhishi claimed the suspension of field
operations did not imply banning or deregistration of NGOs.

This latest communiqué from the government contradicts the position stated
by Deputy Minister of Information Bright Matonga, as carried in the
government mouthpiece The Herald of June 7, to the effect that government
had, indeed, suspended the licenses of all NGOs and would require them to
re-apply for re-registration.

The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) said
while it welcomed the clarification by the Ministry of Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare as a positive step, there was need for government
to show tangible commitment to ensuring a positive operating environment for
civil society.

Fambai Ndirandi, the spokesman for NANGO, told The Zimbabwe Times the
government should substantiate its clarification to NGOs by stopping the
disruption of NGO activities and the raids by security operatives, as well
as ensuring space for all organisations to carry out their duties in a
non-partisan manner and in line with international humanitarian standards
and principles.

Mhishi's letter defines field operations as activities that imply movement
by NGO personnel into communities in order to mobilise, organise or bring
together large numbers of people.

It went further to explain that "the suspension does not imply banning
operations at Head Offices, Regional and District Offices are not affected,
except field operations".

However, a number of organisations including the NANGO regional office in
Gweru, have been forced to close down their offices by the Zimbabwe Republic
Police, acting on the basis of the suspension letter.

"It is important to note that the clarification gives positive recognition
of the threats that a blanket suspension would have on constituencies such
as children receiving supplementary feeding and People Living With HIV/AIDS
whose very lives are put at risk by the stoppage of Home Based Care and
Anti-Retroviral Therapy," said Ndirandi.

According to the clarification, the suspension was initiated so as to allow
"for fair and transparent investigations" into allegations that NGOs
involved in humanitarian operations were breaching the terms and conditions
of their registration by engaging in political activities.

By implication, the suspension would therefore last until the said
investigations have been completed, said Mhishi.

Ndirandi said it was the first time that a formal investigation into the
political activities of the NGO sector had ever been initiated. However, the
document did not go further to give clarification as to which organisations
were under investigation or names of the investigators.

Ndirandi added: "Further, it is not clear whether criminal charges would be
levelled against such NGOs. It is NANGO's hope that the said investigations
will be expeditiously and urgently completed to allow the uninterrupted
resumption of all NGO field operations including those of a civic nature."

Addressing a rally in Silobela on June 15, Mugabe, said the government had
suspended NGO for allegedly using food handouts as a weapon to effect regime
change by urging aid recipients to vote for the MDC and not Zanu-PF.

Mugabe further claimed: "Some NGOs collected people's national identity
cards and did not bring them back, disenfranchising these people".

Ndirandi said NANGO found Mugabe's claims baseless.

"The Zanu-PF government's intolerance and suspicion of Non-Governmental
Organisations is not a new phenomenon," he said. "President Mugabe is on
record as having publicly labelled the NGO sector as hatcheries of political
opposition and conduits of foreign interference in Zimbabwe's national
affairs, a position which has been hardened over the years.

"NANGO reiterates that the NGO sector has meticulously endeavoured to remain
non-partisan and to adhere to international humanitarian standards and

"Further NANGO does not regard the said investigations into NGO operations
to be sufficient grounds to jeopardise the humanitarian needs of millions of
Zimbabweans who are being supported by NGO "field operations" or as a basis
for the continued victimisation of civil society activists, human rights
defenders, aid workers, election monitors or other personnel linked to the
NGO sector.

"An appeal contesting the closure of an organisation in Gweru on the basis
of the suspension circular has been lodged at the Bulawayo High Court."

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Half of Zim's population faces food shortages

Zim Online

by Hendricks Chizhanje and Norest Muzvaba Wednesday 18 June 2008

JOHANNESBURG - More than five million Zimbabweans or about half the southern
African country's 12 million population will face food shortages by early
next year, United Nations (UN) food security agencies said on Tuesday.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme
(WFP) said in a report that they expected the number of food insecure
Zimbabweans to rise to two million as early as July or September this year.

The UN agencies - tasked by President Robert Mugabe last month to asses
Zimbabwe's food security situation - said the figure of hungry people would
rise progressively to about 5.1 million by early 2009, to compound problems
for a country that is also in the grip of unprecedented political and
economic turmoil.

"The Mission (Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission) estimates that 2.04
million people in rural and urban areas will be food insecure between July
and September 2008, rising to 3.8 million people between October and peaking
to about 5.1 million at the height of the hungry season between January and
March 2009," said the report.

The UN agencies said Zimbabwe - once a regional breadbasket - suffered a
massive decline in farm production in 2008 season owing to an economic
crisis that has caused shortages of fuel, seeds, fertilizers and other key
farm inputs.

Maize production this year is estimated at 575 000 tonnes, which is 28
percent lower than the 2007 figure of 800 000 tonnes. Zimbabwe requires
about 2.080 million tones of cereals per year including 1.875 million tonnes
for direct human consumption.

"The resulting cereal import requirement is estimated at 1.232 million
tonnes, of which the maize deficit accounts for about one million tones,"
the UN report said.

The FAO/WFP report comes two weeks after Mugabe suspended all work by relief
agencies that he accused of using aid distribution to campaign for
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of a run-off presidential election
later this month - a charge aid groups deny.

The European Union and the United States have criticised the ban on aid
groups that they say has cut off support to more than two million
Zimbabweans who received life sustaining support from aid agencies on daily

UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs Haile Menkerios, who
arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday, was expected to raise the issue of the ban
during talks with Mugabe.

Mugabe announced last month that his government had paid for 600 000 tonnes
of maize from South Africa but relief agencies including the FAO and WFP
says this is far inadequate and donors should step in to assist the
cash-strapped Harare government import more food.

Critics blame Zimbabwe's food crisis directly on Mugabe's haphazard
fast-track land reform exercise that displaced established white commercial
farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded
black farmers.

Food production plunged by about 60 percent as a result while chaos in
agriculture because of the often violent farm seizures also hit hard
Zimbabwe's once impressive manufacturing sector that had depended on a
robust farming sector for orders and inputs.

Most of Zimbabwe's companies have since the beginning of farm seizures in
2000 either closed completely or scaled down operations to below 30 percent
of capacity, in a country where unemployment is more than 80 percent. -

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Tsvangirai briefs Salamao on violence

June 18, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
presidential candidate, met the SADC executive secretary on Monday to sound
him out on President Robert Mugabe's implicit threats of a coup should he
lose the presidential election run-off scheduled for June 27.

The Zimbabwe Times can reveal that Tsvangirai met SADC executive secretary
Tomaz Salamao at the MDC leader's Strathaven residence on Monday afternoon
for a full briefing on the political violence currently engulfing the
country, Mugabe's recent threats to stage a coup if he loses the forthcoming
election and the blatant failure by the Mugabe government to adhere to
regional election standards for freedom and fairness.

The Zimbabwe Times established that Tsvangirai engaged the SADC executive
secretary to explore ways through which SADC could help resolve the crisis
in Zimbabwe and pave way for a free and fair presidential election run off.

Tsvangirai met Salamao as the UN assistant secretary general for political
affairs, Haile Menkerios, arrived in Zimbabwe Monday evening. Menkerios met
President Mugabe at State House on Tuesday on the escalating post-election

Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe on Tuesday confirmed that the MDC
leader met Salamao and said the talks with the SADC executive secretary
centred on how Mugabe and Tsvangirai could continue with dialogue and
resolve the crisis, thereby creating an environment for free and fair
elections in line with the SADC principles and guidelines on elections.

Sibotshiwe said the talks centred mainly on Mugabe's grim warning, delivered
at the graveside of a former army official that he would take up arms if he
lost the June presidential election re-run.

"Yes they met at the president's residence on Monday and it was mainly an
update on elections and on the violence, 11 days before the poll,"
Sibotshiwe told The Zimbabwe Times. "Salamao was also briefed on the advance
coup announced by Mugabe. He has announced a pre-emptive coup. In fact
Mugabe has already staged a coup."

Mugabe, speaking at the burial of a former general, Amoth Chingombe, in
Harare last weekend said: "We shall never, never accept anything that smells
of the MDC. Anyone who tries to undermine our land reform we will challenge.
We are prepared to fight for our country or to go to war if we lose it - as
happened to our forefathers."

He repeated the coup threats at a Youth and Students Convention in Harare
Friday where he said: "We need to respond to the British and their agents.
Do we elect to surrender? The ex-freedom fighters have said they will not
countenance regime change through the ballot. The ballot will never take
precedence over the bullet. The war veterans have said they will go back to
the trenches. I will also support that position."

Tsvangirai, who won the original presidential election on March 29 with 47
percent against Mugabe's 43 percent of the vote, squares off with the
octogenarian incumbent on June 27. Tsvangirai is widely to win amid growing
concerns that violence and fear could influence some rural constituencies
against him.

Zimbabwe is battling its worst political and economic crisis in decades,
with unemployment estimated at 85 percent, soaring hyperinflation now over
1, 7 million percent, and acute power, fuel and foreign exchange shortages.

Tsvangirai and Western countries blame Mugabe for the crisis, while accusing
him of rigging recent polls, including his 2002 re-election as president.

On his part, Mugabe accuses Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial power, of
undermining Zimbabwe as retribution for his land redistribution policy,
which entailed seizing white-owned farms to allocate to landless blacks.

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Coming collision: Zimbabwe is headed for even greater catastrophe

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Zimbabwe's presidential elections, set for June 27, are speeding toward a
horrific crash.

President Robert G. Mugabe, 84, lost the first round in March to opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangerai. Mr. Mugabe didn't accept that the challenger had
won, claiming improbably that he had not achieved the 50-percent-plus-one
necessary for victory, even though Mr. Tsvangerai's party won the
parliamentary elections. A candidate from Mr. Mugabe's own ZANU-PF party
also ran to draw votes from Mr. Tsvangerai.

Now, as the runoff between the top two draws near, Mr. Mugabe has turned up
the heat on his suffering people to obtain the results he wants, to prolong
his 28-year rule of the former Rhodesia. He has instructed the country's
army to work for his victory. His supporters and security forces are
interfering with Mr. Tsvangerai's campaign, and Mr. Mugabe has said he won't
let his opponent take power if he were to win.

In the meantime, the disaster that Mr. Mugabe's rule has wreaked on the
economy has not only put an estimated one-fourth of the country at risk of
starvation, but also propelled floods of citizens to flee into neighboring
South Africa.

Their quest for food, shelter and jobs, in competition with poor South
Africans and immigrants from other countries, has led to disorder, rioting
and killing, which South Africa has found difficult to control.

Meanwhile, African leaders have stood by mute and impotent. Some have tried
to put responsibility on the back of South African President Thabo Mbeki,
who has declined to act. South Africa could start by closing its border with
Zimbabwe, although it is questionable that Mr. Mugabe would take notice.

Other leaders such as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown want to send a U.N. human rights representative and
election observers to Zimbabwe -- truly pointless gestures.

Given that Mr. Mugabe has stated that he won't accept the election results
unless he wins, and that the situation in Zimbabwe has become increasingly
catastrophic in its impact on the southern African region, drastic measures
are needed.

Just as Tanzania used its military in 1979 to get rid of Ugandan despot Idi
Amin, the countries of southern Africa would be justified in taking decisive
military action to get rid of Mr. Mugabe. It is hard to imagine that
Zimbabweans would resist them, particularly if they moved in fast, quickly
held free and internationally supervised elections and then got out.

First published on June 18, 2008 at 12:00 am

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Trial of opposition faction leader Mutambara fails to take off

Zim Online

by Tendai Maronga and Wayne Mafaro Wednesday 18 June 2008

HARARE - The trial of the leader of a small faction of Zimbabwe's main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party failed to take off
yesterday because the prosecutor handling the matter was not available.

Magistrate Morgan Nemadire postponed to July 10 the trial of Arthur
Mutambara who is facing charges of publishing falsehoods and contempt of
court arising from an opinion article he wrote for the Standard newspaper
last April.

Mutambara accused President Robert Mugabe in the article of running down
Zimbabwe's economy and charged that state security forces had committed
human rights abuses.

The Standard's editor, Davison Maruziva, was last month arrested over the
same article but is out on bail and is facing trial together with Mutambara.

"It is evidently unfair for the state to set trial dates for accused persons
and then fail appear in court . . . an accused person is entitled to a fair
trial within a reasonable time," said Nemadire, who relaxed bail conditions
for Mutambara and Maruziva.

Media freedom watchdogs have said the charging of Mutambara and Maruziva is
part of crackdown by the government on the media and other voices of
dissension ahead of a run-off presidential election on June 27 presidential
pitting President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

On May 23, a South African truck ferrying 60 000 copies of The Zimbabwean on
Sunday, an independent newspaper critical of Mugabe's rule, was torched by
suspected state security agents who brandished AK 47 rifles in just one
example of the immense difficulties Zimbabwean journalists face ahead of the
presidential run-off poll.

The government recently imposed heavy duty on all foreign newspapers
entering the country including The Zimbabwean, which is published in London
by exiled Zimbabweans journalists.

Meanwhile Mutambara's lawyer accused the state of breaching Southern African
Development Community (SADC) guidelines on freedom of expression and freedom
of the media, adding she wanted her client's case referred to a regional

The lawyer, Beatrice Mutetwa, said: "We will be challenging the basis of
remand in line with the SADC guidelines. We want the matter referred to the
SADC Tribunal to see if Zimbabwe is not breaching SADC guidelines on freedom
of expression and freedom of the media." - ZimOnline

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Is Zimbabwe living up to SADC's electoral code?

Photo: Tomas de Mul/IRIN
Democracy is more than casting a ballot
JOHANNESBURG , 18 June 2008 (IRIN) -

The degree of freedom and fairness in Zimbabwe's presidential election on 27 June will be judged according to a 10-point guideline enshrined in the Principles for Conducting Democratic Elections of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

IRIN, using the SADC checklist of democratic principles, has asked analysts to ascertain how Zimbabwe is measuring up to its obligations as a member of the 14-member regional organisation.

The treaty establishing SADC, signed in 1992 in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, states: "The Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation provides that SADC shall 'Promote the development of democratic institutions and practices within the territories of State Parties and encourage the observance of universal human rights as provided for in the Charter and Conventions of the Organization of African Unity (African Union) and the United Nations.'"

According to the treaty, "SADC member states shall adhere to the following principles in the conduct of democratic elections:" 

1. Full participation of the citizens in the political process

• 29 March ZANU-PF loses control of parliament for the first time since independence in 1980
• A SADC observer team acknowledges concerns with the pre-eelection climate, but pronounces the poll credible
• ZANU-PF militants launch "Operation Mavhoterapapi" (Who did you vote for?) - driving perceived  opposition supporters from their homes. Voters can only cast their ballots where they are registered.  

"There is no doubt that there is little, if any, participation of citizens in the election process because of the political violence in that country [Zimbabwe]," Khabele Matlosa, research director of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) promoting credible elections and democratic practices in Africa, told IRIN.

"We know for a fact that most of the violence unleashed is by government militias and thousands of people have been displaced, and plus or minus 60 people killed. There is a climate of fear and people are afraid of any type of participation because of the violence. Citizens' participation is at its lowest ebb ever."

Joseph Kurebwa, head of the University of Zimbabwe's politics and administration department, told IRIN: "The nature of politics in Zimbabwe is that anyone is free to be a member of any political party of their choice, and also to not participate in politics if they so wish.

"The 'political violence' since 29 March is a result of differences between people, and these people are using the opportunity to settle old scores. There are very few incidents which would pass as political violence," he maintained.

Kurebwa offered to stand as a candidate for ZANU-PF in the recent parliamentary elections, but was not selected by the party at its primaries.

2. Freedom of association

4 June - Government suspends operations of all NGOs, claiming they are fronts for foreign powers.
5 May - More than 50 supporters of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), are beateb bt police in the second city, Bulawayo, as they march to protest political violence.
25 April - Some 400 people seeking refuges from alleged state-sponsored violence are arrested at MDC headquarters in Harare

"Freedom of association is allowed by the constitution, and political parties are formed and allowed to contest elections," said Matlosa, who observed the 29 March election.

"In practice they [opposition parties and civil society organisations] are restricted heavily by state actions; the government gives with one hand and takes away with the other. It is not just political parties, but also NGOs. The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights play a very important role, but are not allowed political space," he commented.

Kurebwa said, "There is freedom of association; people of different political affiliations have been acting together with each other at various levels."

3. Political tolerance

15 June - President Robert Mugabe says: "Anyone who seeks to undermine our land reform programme, itself the bedrock of our politics from time immemorial, seeks and gets war"
6 June - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, condemns killings of opposition activists and harassment of human rights defenders

"There is no political tolerance; the society is so polarised. The ruling party [ZANU-PF] does not tolerate political opposition; they [the government] see the opposition as part of a conspiracy unleashed by the West," Matlosa said.

"The level of political tolerance is very low ... [Zimbabwe's] security chiefs made it very clear publicly [before the 29 March election] that they would not accept any result that did not favour the incumbent [President Robert Mugabe]. This is the highest level of political intolerance," Matlosa commented.

In contrast Kurebwa maintained that "The ruling party accepts that people should have as many different viewpoints as possible. The government has not restricted this in any way."

4. Regular intervals for elections as provided for by the respective National Constitutions

"Elections are held regularly, although in a sense the 29 March election was a snap election. The ruling party called elections without consulting the opposition parties or President Thabo Mbeki [appointed by SADC to mediate between the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and ZANU-PF]", Matlosa said.

"We excel on that score," Kurebwa noted.

5. Equal opportunity for all political parties to access state media

• The government controls all domestic radio and television stations
• Print journalists from the private media have been harassed and arrested for what they have written
• State media offered space to the opposition in the run-up to the March poll. That space has since closed

"No, there is no equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media," Matlosa said. "The state media are monopolised by ZANU-PF and opposition parties have to rely on private media. In the 29 March elections, once SADC deployed observers in Zimbabwe, it was only then that the opposition was given opportunities on state media's radio and television services."

Kurebwa said, "The Broadcast Services Act and other pieces of legislation have given the opposition parties ample opportunity to air their views through media owned by the state."

6. Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for

14 June - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is detained fore the third time over the course of the week
13 June - MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti is arrested on treason and electoral law infringement charges

"Zimbabwe's election laws provide for that, but in practice it is a different story. The present environment is so poisoned in the country that even for the leader of the opposition [Morgan Tsvangirai] - who has been arrested four or five times - it is extremely difficult for him to even campaign," Matlosa pointed out.

"Legally, the voting age is 18 years old and people over 18 can also stand for parliament," Kurebwa said. 

"When people commit offences, or the police believe there are grounds to suspect that someone is about to commit an offence, they can be arrested. This does not interfere with the voter or someone standing as a candidate," Kurebwa responded. 

7. Independence of judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions

• ZEC is heavily criticised for the delay in releasing the election results, especially the presidential poll
• Repeated warnings over its incapacity to organise four elections on the same day, and the state of voter readyness

"Not at all. The judiciary is hugely politicised and is under the constant influence of ZANU-PF, and the same applies to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission," Matlosa said.

"The final appointment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officers is by the president, and it is not independent or autonomous. Other government departments are running aspects of the elections and registration of voters - the accreditation of observers is done by the Ministry of Justice for example," he noted.

Kurebwa told IRIN: "In the recent history of the country, treason charges have been levelled against Tsvangirai for a plot to assassinate Mugabe. The judiciary exonerated him [Tsvangirai].

"By and large the judiciary is independent, as is ZEC. The ZEC has remained steadfast in executing its duties according to the law. It has not subjected itself to the will of political parties," Kurebwa said.

8. Voter education

"Voters are supposed to be informed and normally this is carried out by political parties and civil society, but in Zimbabwe this is the reserve of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Other organisations are barred from doing it, because government accuses them of being opposition supporters," Matlosa told IRIN.

"Voter education is the responsibility of ZEC by law," Kurebwa said. "I can categorically say that the commission has excelled in informing people of political rights and the candidates participating in the elections."

9. Acceptance and respect of election results by political parties proclaimed to have been free and fair by the competent National Electoral Authorities in accordance with the law of the land

"Problems with election processes [such as complaints made by the opposition after the 2002 elections] are not resolved, and these problems are being compounded - and the run-off elections will see more complaints that are not resolved," Matlosa said.

Kurebwa noted that "In 2000 and 2002 the opposition MDC went to the courts, but by and large various political parties have been happy with the outcome of the elections."

10. Challenge of the election results as provided for by the law of the land

This also relates to the previous provision," Matlosa said. "The electoral law provides for a timeframe [for complaints to be resolved], which is hardly ever observed."

"If one looks at the harmonised elections," Kurebwa commented, "the results of each polling station were posted outside of the polling station, and that gave everyone an opportunity to look at the results. The results were above board and in compliance with the law."


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Magistrate defies order to release Matinenga

June 18, 2008

By Our Correspondent

RUSAPE – A regional magistrate has defied a High Court order to release incarcerated top lawyer Eric Matinenga.

Matinenga, who was recently elected to Parliament representing the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was arrested on charges of inciting public violence.

Herbert Mandeya, a regional magistrate in Harare, presided over Matinenga’s case after all magistrates in Rusape had recused themselves for various reasons.

Matinenga was arrested a day after he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by a senior magistrate in Mutare on charges that he was involved in public violence that had flared up in his constituency.

Matinenga was re-arrested on the same charges on which he had been acquitted by magistrate Hlekani Mwayera in Mutare.

After his second arrest his lawyers petitioned the High Court and Justice Chitakunye ordered his immediate release. But Mandeya, sitting in Rusape declined to obey the High Court order, saying the allegations were the same but the charges were different.

Matinenga was taken to court after languishing in police cells for almost a week.

The State, led by Tawanda Zvakare of the Attorney General’s office, said Matinenga was facing the same allegations but the charge had been altered to that of inciting public violence instead of involvement in public violence.

The State alleges the MP-elect incited public violence in Buhera West on May 28 and 31.

According to Trust Maanda, one of his lawyers, the court established that Matinenga was in Harare on May 28 representing a client at the regional courts. The client is James Mushore, the former NMB executive who faces allegations of committing financial crimes.

But the court said Matinenga had a case to answer on the second count.

He was granted bail with very stringent measures but Zvakare of the AG’s office lodged an appeal, which meant Matinenga would remain incarcerated pending the noting of the appeal.

Maanda said the State has up to seven days to file the appeal meaning Matinenga will remain in custody all that time.

“All this is in violation of a High Court order granted by Justice Chitakunye,” Maanda, a human rights lawyer, said. “We are lodging an immediate appeal at the High Court. All along they are holding him illegally.”

Maanda said by refusing to release him under very stringent measures, it was clear the State was determined, at all costs, to ensure Matinenga continues to be incarcerated.

The magistrate had ordered Matinenga to surrender title deeds of one of his immovable properties, deposit ZW$500 billion cash and to report everyday between 6am and 6pm at the nearest police station.

“Effectively it was meant to immobilize him but the State insisted that in spite of these very stringent conditions he must be denied bail,” said Maanda. “The State is so determined to have him incarcerated.”

Meanwhile, MDC lawyers have filed an urgent court application at the High Court seeking the unconditional release of MDC secretary general Tendai Biti from police custody.

The lawyers filed court papers calling for the immediate release of Biti who was arrested at the Harare International Airport last Thursday as he returned home ahead of the June 27 presidential election run-off.

The MDC lawyers are seeking a declaration of his continued detention as unlawful and for his immediate release.

On Monday, the police were supposed to bring Biti to court but they failed to do so and instead searched his house.

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Is Zimbabwe on the verge of cyber war?

June 18, 2008

By The Zimbabwe Times Webmaster

GOOGLE has reported that malicious software was found on the MDC web site last week on June 9.

A visit to the web site when searched for through Google using the terms
"Movement for democratic change", will result in the visitor being greeted
by a warning sign which essentially discourages visitors from entering the

A detailed analytical report from Google states that the MDC web site is
currently listed by Google as being a suspicious site which may harm one's
computer should they proceed to enter this site. This message is tagged onto
web sites that the Google and other internet search engines would have
analysed and found to contain dangerous software or so-called viruses. Such
viruses can be installed onto a web site by third parties, in order to
discredit the site in question.

This development with regard to the MDC web site follows two attacks which
shut down the web site of Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper organization, The
Herald, in recent weeks. The attack on the MDC web site although leaving the
site up-and running, however seems intent on achieving the same effects that
the shutting down of The Herald by apparent hackers, had.

According to Google, the infection reported to currently afflict the MDC web
site includes two Trojan(s), and one scripting exploit. Successful infection
of a target machine will result in 15 new processes being run on the target
computer. This can render a computer non-functional. Google also reports
that of the 63 pages that make up the MDC web site, only one page is
infected by the said viruses and script.

The malicious software that was used to infect the MDC web site is hosted on
two domains, including (a China based web site) and
The fact that Google notes that the MDC web site has not acted as an
intermediary (at least in the last 90 days) acting in the further
dissemination of malicious software (on the internet) suggests that this
software was not introduced to the web site by the MDC themselves, in some
malicious plan to wage cyber warfare.

This point also suggests that the MDC server account has not been completely
hijacked, at least not by a knowledgeable enough hacker, to cause wider
havoc in cyberspace. Nonetheless, the infection of the MDC web site could
cause some headaches for unwary computer owners who may force their way into
the site unaware of, or ignoring the warning from Google. Until the MDC
resolves this current issue, it would be unwise for users to visit the site.

Although computer hackers can be tenacious when they decide to go after a
particular web site, there are ways of mounting an effective defense. A good
start in the case of the MDC would be to host their site outside Zimbabwe,
with established host companies who will have adequate security systems
built into their servers. In addition, such a move would take the MDC's web
operations further away from the prying hands of the state operations and
their rogue supporters, who in this case may very well be the Chinese.

The Chinese have been known to supply the Robert Mugabe regime with training
and equipment to enhance their surveillance operations. It would not be
far-fetched to surmise that the Chinese could be assisting the Mugabe regime
in sabotaging the MDC web site. Recent reports have indicated that the
Mugabe regime is now moving to target communication systems that may give
advantage to the opposition by allowing for the free flow of unfiltered
information to the electorate.

There are now reports of an "Operation Dzikisai Madishi", which is aimed at
forcing the Zimbabwean citizenry to take down satellite dishes which now dot
the suburbs of Zimbabwe. Many people have resorted to satellite television
services to supplement the poor programming and circumvent the propaganda
that is constantly spewed out by the state's own media cooperation, the
ZBC/TV. People are thus able to access programming from BBC and South Africa's
eTV, among other channels, through their privately owned satellite dishes.

A recent report also suggests that the Zimbabwean government may also have
embarked on an effort to confiscate radios from citizens, especially rural
peasants, in its effort to control information and communications. Phone
calls to Zimbabwe of late, have also often left me wondering how many people
were actually engaged in the conversations intended only for those that I
would have called.

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Rights Groups Appeal for World Intervention in Crisis

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

17 June 2008
Posted to the web 17 June 2008


Zimbabwean civil society activists visiting Kenya appealed to Africa and the
rest of the world to pressure President Robert Mugabe to end the people's
suffering in the southern African nation.

The world should demand that Mugabe allows humanitarian agencies to
distribute food aid in the country that is facing mass starvation and gross
human rights violations, the activists said.

They said Mugabe has set up structures of violence, comprising war veterans,
the army and militias to coerce people especially in rural areas to vote for
him in the presidential run-off on June 27.

The activists were from Bulawayo Agenda, the Media Institute of Southern
Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter, Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, Youth for
Democracy, Zimbabwe Peace Trust, the Zimbabwean newspaper 'The Independent'
and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The representatives said that Mugabe has stopped all volunteer organisations
in the country from working and his government was giving food aid only to
its supporters.

Gordon Moyo, executive director of Bulawayo Agenda, said, "What brings us
here today are the current developments in our country. We would like Mugabe
to respect the laws of the country, to respect the principles of running
elections as quantified in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Africa should demand for free and fair elections, which are unlikely if the
current state violence and violation of human rights continues.

"We are going around Africa attending the AU summit; we are lobbying the
leadership in SADC and in the continent as a whole to protect Zimbabwe. The
AU has a moral obligation to protect the people who are harmless and
defenceless," Moyo said.

If Mugabe declared himself a winner the run-off, Africa should condemn him
and bar him from travelling outside Zimbabwe, Moyo said.

The activists said some 4 million Zimbabweans are in desperate need of food.

Frank Chikowore, a journalist detained for 17 days in deplorable conditions,
said there was a serious assault on media freedom and appealed to African
leaders to demand freedom of the Press in Zimbabwe.

African and world leaders should hold Mugabe accountable for the
"slow-motion genocide" he is committing, said Maureen Kademaunga of the
Media Monitoring Project-Zimbabwe. Mugabe is using young people to inflict
fear, torture people and destroy property.

Many people have lost their documents and are unlikely to vote,
Kademanunga,who was recently detained for holding a meeting, said.

Silas Gweshe, an MDC parliamentary candidate who lost in the March 29
elections, said the houses of four councillors who supported him were burnt
down. He lost all personal property and is on the run.

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Angola exposes Mugabe's predicament

June 18, 2008

By Our Correspondent

A REPRESENTATIVE of one of President Robert Mugabe's few remaining close
allies in southern African has spilled the beans on how the Zimbabwean
government went around the SADC and African Union (AU) member states,
begging bowel in hand, to ask for funds to finance next week's crucial
presidential election re-run.

Angola's permanent secretary for Foreign Affairs, Manuel Gomes dos Santos,
told the South African weekly newspaper the Mail and Guardian how President
Mugabe's most trusted lieutenant, Emmerson Mnangangwa, was dispatched to the
oil-rich west-coast nation to beg for assistance to help finance the
originally unscheduled election.

Gomes said while the whole world was made to believe that Mnangangwa visited
the Angolan capital Luanda in April to persuade Mugabe's close ally and
friend President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the president of Angola, to allow
a Chinese ship to dock in the port of Luanda to offload arms destined for
Zimbabwe, his mission was, in fact, to explain the country's financial
problems and seek assistance.

Gomes said Zimbabwe currently lacked the means to run next week's election
because of unavailability of the required funds.

"They were looking for money from all African Union members to run the
second elections," he said. "That's why they came to see us, they came to
ask for money."

Angola is the chair of the organ on politics, security and defence
cooperation of the SADC. It has been an outspoken supporter of Mugabe and
his government. And it was no surprise, therefore that a SADC observer
mission dispatched to Zimbabwe to observe the March 29 election, gave the
largely flawed election a clean bill.

The mission was led by Angola's minister of sport, Jose Barrica.

Ironically, while the Angolan official made this revelation, President
Mugabe's government has turned down financial and logistical assistance from
the United Nations to help it finance the election re-run. Just last month,
UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon offered to help Zimbabwe organise the
upcoming elections. His suggestions where flatly rejected by Mugabe who said
that his government had the capacity to organise elections.

Gomes also said in the same report that his government supported the
formation of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe as the only way to
resolve the political and economic problems that the country faces. This
stance is hardly surprising, given Angola's support for Mugabe and the
prospect of a lifeline being extended to Mugabe by the GNU.

Gomes said the Angolan president believes that "through dialogue a
government of national unity must be formed" but after the second-round
presidential election on June 27.

The main proponent of the GNU in Zimbabwe, Dr Simba Makoni, a presidential
election candidate who emerged with only eight percent of the vote on March
29, currently has campaigned for the scrapping of the forthcoming election
altogether to be replaced by a process of negotiation leading to a
government of national unity.

Makoni's own critics point out that if it wasn't for his last-minute
emergence as a presidential candidate, there would have been no election
re-run in the first place.

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Letter to U.N. envoy from Reporters Without Borders

 17th Jun 2008 23:43 GMT

By Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders yesterday wrote to United Nations Assistant
Secretary-General Haile Menkerios asking him to take account of the current
climate of fear for the independent media in Zimbabwe when he arrives in
Harare for talks with the government next week. Here is the text of the

Mr. Haile Menkerios
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs
Department of Political Affairs
Room 3570A
United Nations
New York NY 10017

Paris, 13 June 2008

Dear Mr. Menkerios

In view of your intention to visit Harare from 16 to 20 June, ahead of the
27 June presidential election run-off, Reporters Without Borders would like
to brief you about the government's serious press freedom violations and the
climate of fear reigning among journalists and human rights activists.

The election campaign and first round of the presidential election on 29
March were disastrous for press freedom. Eighteen journalists and media
assistants were arrested. The climate has worsened since then, especially in
recent weeks, with the authorities now using independence war veterans as a
supplementary force for the security services. Our organisation is very
concerned that the decisive second round will be the occasion for a further
escalation in the repression.

The campaign of intimidation and harassment of journalists has been stepped
up in the approach to the second round. Each week, our organisation and
local press freedom NGOs have registered cases of journalists being arrested
arbitrarily or placed in custody for no reason, which is reinforcing the
climate of fear and self-censorship. There have also been police raids on
news media and independent organisations, and journalists have been unfairly
dismissed from state-owned media.

Journalists have not been the only victims of this campaign. The Zimbabwean
authorities have violated their commitments by stepping up physical attacks
and arrests involving the opposition, including its leaders, preventing the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which was ahead in the first round,
from campaigning freely.

Human rights activists have also been targeted. Abel Chikomo, for example,
the head of Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHF) and a member of the Media
Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ), was arrested during a police swoop on
the MMPZ office in the western town of Binga on 7 June. Thirteen other
people were arrested at the same time for holding an unauthorised public
meeting. They were released without charge four days later.

Christian Alliance news director Pius Wakatama and nine other members of
religious organisations were arrested in a raid carried out on an ecumenical
centre in Harare on 9 June by members of a military security unit and the
Criminal Investigation Department. Wakatama, a journalist who used to work
for The Standard, an independent weekly, and the Daily News, was finally
released on the evening of the same day without being charged.

The authorities carried out a radical screening of journalists authorised to
cover the elections, in violation of international conventions signed by
Zimbabwe, while the foreign media and their local employees are kept under
constant surveillance, resulting in arrests and heavy sentences. Bernet
Hasani Sono, Resemate Boy Chauke and Simon Maodi were stopped by police on
23 May as they were transporting equipment belonging to the British TV
station Sky News and were given six-month prison sentences on 2 June for
"unauthorised possession of TV broadcast equipment."

The government has also stepped up its restrictions on news entering the
country from abroad. A tax of 40 per cent of the total cost per kilogram was
imposed on imported print media a week ago with the aim limiting the
circulation of foreign newspapers and magazines, and publications produced
by Zimbabwean journalists in exile.

Zimbabwe's privately-owned press has been stifled and reduced to a handful
of closely-watched publications, while journalists employed by the state
media are punished if they do not contribute to government propaganda. The
state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) fired seven reporters
and news editors without explanation on 3 June. Internal sources said ZBC's
new editor in chief, an independence war veteran, accused them of giving too
much air time to the main opposition party, the MDC.

The behaviour of the government and its allies is making it very likely that
the election results will be completely fraudulent. We think it is important
that you should remind President Robert Mugabe that his government is guilty
of repeated violations of the treaties and conventions that it signed.

In 2004, for example, Zimbabwe agreed to comply with the Southern African
Development Community's "Principles and Rules Governing Democratic
Elections," which require member states to guarantee "total access to
national and international media" during elections. Zimbabwe's legislation,
which is among the most repressive in the world towards the media, has
flagrantly violated this principle for years.

We hope that our information and proposal will be of use to your in your


Robert Ménard

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Zimbabwe: House of Lords Debate
17th Jun 2008 23:10 GMT
By a Correspondent

UK Parliament

House of Lords

Tuesday 17 June 2008


Baroness D'Souza: asked Her Majesty’s Government:
What discussions they held with the United Nations Secretary-General about Zimbabwe, other than the humanitarian issues already debated in the United Nations Security Council.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown) : My Lords, in recent days both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have spoken to the UN Secretary-General about Zimbabwe. In addition to discussing the humanitarian situation, they spoke of the need to deploy international observers in sufficient numbers to deter continuing state-sponsored violence and intimidation ahead of the 27 June election, the current visit of the UN envoy to Zimbabwe, and other support the UN could provide at this critical time.

Baroness D'Souza: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer. I take this opportunity to thank him for his obvious concern for Zimbabwe and, indeed, for his regular briefings. Mugabe has said that he would rather go to war than allow Morgan Tsvangirai to take office, so the future is likely to get even uglier. Does the Minister agree that now is the time for the UN to call some kind of summit of the leaders of neighbouring countries and donor nations, and possibly also of Commonwealth countries, to pre-empt a civil war in that country?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Baroness is quite correct to say that the situation in the coming weeks looks appalling. We still hope that democracy will prevail on 27 June and that the likely very large lead that the Opposition enjoy in the polls will be enough to overcome whatever intimidation and violence is put their way. However, the noble Baroness is correct: we cannot count on that. We are therefore pressing heavily for not just the UN but the AU and SADC to be active.

Just yesterday, the AU, which has often been criticised in this House for not being sufficiently forthcoming on Zimbabwe, put out a statement calling for free and fair elections and announced that it was sending 70 observers. Therefore, by the end of this week, we expect there to be 350 international observers in the country, with more arriving next week.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, the hope for democracy on 27 June is of course very slim, with Mugabe, his team and his military men arresting and beating up opposition leaders. However, can the Minister expand on the very interesting and constructive idea put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza? Has not the time come for more vigorous action and perhaps a resolution at the UN? Is there not also a need to work with the Commonwealth, as she suggested, with SADC leaders, and with the chairman of SADC, the President of Zambia, in organising a really forceful message to the Zimbabwean people and the Zimbabwean junta, which seems to be running the election, that their time has come? Is there not currently a need for more vigour in this whole operation? I should like to hear more from the Minister on that approach.

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, first, as we speak, a UN envoy, who was accepted by the Government after some delay, is in the country. He will return to New York and we are pressing for him to give a Security Council briefing in public so that his views of the situation will be disseminated as widely as possible. Secondly, as I pointed out, the AU is sending in a delegation and has backed it with a strong statement. It will be led by a former president, whose party stepped down in Sierra Leone after it lost an election, and therefore he knows, and can convey the reality of, that situation. Equally, we should understand that, even now, there are only just sufficient votes in the UN Security Council to ensure a debate on the issue. Several powerful countries are still resisting action in the council. We must press for it through all available means but not assume that we yet have a united international community on this point.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that you can build all kinds of resolutions in the United Nations and the Commonwealth but that the country that will have the greatest effect is South Africa? We should talk sincerely and firmly to South Africa and ask the South Africans whether they realise what harm they are doing to themselves and their colleagues by not bringing pressure to bear in the way that they should.

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, my noble friend is right: South Africa has a pivotal influence on the situation, but I regret that it is one of the countries in the Security Council that is still resisting action. However, on the other side, South African public opinion has been inflamed by reports of the violence coming out of Zimbabwe and the country has faced its own difficulties in relation to Zimbabwean immigrants. Increasingly, we are seeing politicians and civil society take the lead in South Africa in an attempt to block arms shipments, to protest against what is happening and possibly to send trade union and civil society observers directly to oversee the elections. Therefore, I think that the people of South Africa are on the right side.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, was it decided in the Security Council last Thursday that only humanitarian and not political issues should be discussed? How does the Security Council manage to disentangle humanitarian from political issues when there are massive internal displacements, armed action by ZANU-PF thugs and prevention of the feeding of starving people, including 170,000 orphans, who have been deprived of UNICEF aid? How can you disentangle political from humanitarian issues?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right; it beats me. I do not know how you can disentangle the two. I think that it is holding on to a fig leaf to prevent a full discussion of the horrific situation in Zimbabwe in front of the council that calls a spade a spade and says that there is a political breakdown in the country. We will continue in the forum allowed to us in the council and elsewhere to insist that where the presidential candidate of the Opposition has already been arrested four times since his return, where his number two remains in jail on treason charges since his return, where almost 60 people have died, tens of thousands have been displaced and several thousand injured and temporarily imprisoned, the conditions are not in place for free and fair elections. President Mugabe needs to understand that elections held on those terms will not be recognised anywhere around the world, least of all in Zimbabwe, as free, fair and legitimate.

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African officials in Zimbabwe should help stop intimidation of lawyers

17th Jun 2008 23:46 GMT

By a Correspondent

LONDON - The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute [IBAHRI]
has called on the Southern African Development Community, the African Union
and the United Nations to publicly condemn the recent escalation of
intimidation and harassment of lawyers and human rights defenders in

Lawyers in Zimbabwe have reported that it is increasingly dangerous to
represent clients who are either human rights activists or in opposition to
the government.

Several prominent human rights lawyers have been threatened or physically
attacked in recent days and some have abandoned their legal practice and
gone into hiding as a consequence of threats and harassment.

The IBAHRI recently drew attention to human rights lawyers Andrew Makoni and
Harrison Nkomo who fled Zimbabwe for South Africa last week after receiving
information they were on a list of lawyers targeted fo assassination.

The IBAHRI reaffirms its condemnation of the systematic targeting of lawyers
and human rights defenders in Zimbabwe and urges the international community
to hold accountable those carrying out the abuses. The intimidation of
lawyers, who are lawfully representing their clients, violates Article 14 of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 7 of
the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

Zimbabwe is a member of the United Nations and is thus obliged to abide by
the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers to 'ensure that lawyers . . .
are able to perform all of their professional functions without
intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.'  Furthermore,
the 1981 Legal Practitioners Act of Zimbabwe provides that 'legal
practitioners are entitled to represent their clients without fear of being
harassed and intimidated by the authorities.'

Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association said,
'The Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the
United Nations should use their influence to prevail on Robert Mugabe's
regime to stop intimidating lawyers and human rights defenders.'  He added.
'The rule of law is a pre-condition of democratic elections and without it
the upcoming presidential elections will not be free and fair.'

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Catholic Charities Worried As Thousands Face Death

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

17 June 2008
Posted to the web 17 June 2008


Zimbabwe is on the brink of an avoidable humanitarian crisis that could cost
the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, said international
and regional leaders of the Catholic Church.

The president of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, and
Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference
said in a joint statement Friday that Zimbabwe's suspension of international
aid activities and spiralling political violence meant millions of people
are suffering.

Caritas members directly feed over a million people in Zimbabwe, and their
projects help over three million people. Caritas targets the most
vulnerable, women, children and the sick. The network of Catholic charities
has suspended those projects following the ban due to increasing levels of

The two Church leaders urged the international community, especially South
Africa, to press the government of Zimbabwe to reverse the inhumane
suspension of international aid efforts and prevent the violent repression
of the people.

They called the situation shocking and disastrous and urged the government
to listen to all the religious leaders and faith-based organizations.

"That food is being denied to people facing starvation is a grave evil. The
government of Zimbabwe must also ensure that aid workers are able to work in
a secure environment without threats of violence. The scale of the current
political violence and threats is unacceptable," said Cardinal Rodriguez.

"Restrictions on humanitarian workers and increasing violence severely
hamper the Church in carrying out its mission to provide care and assistance
to those most in need."

Archbishop Tlhagale stated that the situation in Zimbabwe no longer allowed
for quiet diplomacy. "Quiet Diplomacy is not feeding the people, but
allowing the current structures to threaten the very survival of the
extremely vulnerable."

Both Church leaders supported the latest Zimbabwean bishops' statement that
called "for an immediate cessation of violence and all provocative
statements and actions." The statement asked for independent monitors and
observers, "throughout the country, particularly the rural areas."

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Mugabe's threats an admission of pending defeat

June 18, 2008

By Liberty Mupakati

THE Zimbabwean official media has been bombarding anyone who cares to listen
and read that a vote for and a Morgan Tsvangirai victory in the June 27
presidential poll would be treated by the 84 year-old geriatric president
Mugabe as a declaration of war that would result in the mobilization of the
dwindling war veteran community to go back to the bush to fight for the
"reclamation of the country from the British".

What Mugabe and his hangers-on conveniently forget to mention or realize is
that they do not have the support of the ordinary man and woman in the
country on which they depended for their survival and ultimate victory in
the long drawn out liberation war of the 1970s that culminated in the
ushering in of independence in April 1980. They also expediently forget that
they no longer have the physical wherewithal demanded for such an enormous
undertaking. Simply put, age has caught up with them, not to mention the
state of health of the majority of those people who would form the top
echelons of the terrorist group.

Whereas in the 1970s, they were able to ride on the wave of the "winds of
change" that were sweeping through Africa and support from a polarised world
divided along ideological differences for the material requirements of
waging a war, it is totally clear that they would have difficulties to find
any such backers today. Such a move would finish Mugabe off as even his
supposed friends such as China, Iran who are only after Zimbabwe's vast
uranium deposits would not want to have anything to do with him. A take of
arms to fight against a democratically elected MDC government would seal his
fate and undo what remains of his reputation and legacy within the
Zimbabwean people and indeed, the world over.

One would also be within their rights to question the liberation war
credentials of a host of the hangers-on who are clinging on the faint hope
and illusion of a Mugabe victory on June 27 in the vain hope of sustaining
and maintaining their positions on the grave train. It is plain for everyone
to see that some of the people who masquerade as war veterans are way too
young to have participated in the war and of those who participated, they
are just the same as they were. They will be canon fodder to the people who
have shown considerable humility, patience and restraint in the face of
immense provocation by these supposed liberators, who have done little for
the common man on the street and countryside, except to beget them more
misery and suffering.

The return to war statements by Mugabe and part of his senior leadership
should be read as an admission that they have had intelligence oversight by
professional people on the ground that they are starring defeat of the
highest magnitude come June 27 in their eyes. It would have been made clear
to Mugabe, Constantine Chiwenga and all those directing the atrocities ever
seen in the country that in spite of the violence, the people have already
decided that they want the back of Mugabe as of yesterday.

Pre-election intelligence, as is the norm in Zimbabwe, devoid of any sexing
up, would have been availed to Mugabe which would have rightly told him what
the people think of him and his leadership. This would have been the basis
on which Menard Muzariri the CIO Deputy Director started making utterances
of going back to war should they lose on June 27 when addressing the meeting
in Mt Darwin together with his protégé, deputy minister Saviour Kasukuwere,
a former operative in the organisation.

Witness how, their language suddenly moved up, a gear and instead of pouting
their oft repeated rhetoric about imaginary white farmers being seen and
waiting in the shadows to reclaim back their land, they upped the ante and
started talking about going back to wage a war to protect their sovereignty
and independence that they won through the barrel of the gun.

The fear and spectre of an impending defeat against MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai galvanised Mugabe and company to deploy war veterans who are
still serving in the armed forces in the areas that they operated in the
1970s liberation war in the vain hope that they will frighten people into
compliance when they start talking of going back to the bush. It was also
premised on the fact that the mere sight of some of these soldiers-cum-war
veterans who were quite feared and revered in the same vein would drive home
the message that indeed a Mugabe defeat would lead to the start of another

The deployment of these men and women was also meant to instil fear into the
rural populace as these people were at the heart of some of the worst
atrocities ever seen during the war and it does not come as a surprise,
therefore to see the greasily photographs of victims and accounts of people
being burnt in houses. The "comrades" employed these methods in the 1970s to
drive their message home that they would not brook any form of dissent.

What Mugabe and his lot appear to have conveniently forgotten to remember is
that age is an important determinant in any warfare. How in all earnest does
he think that at 84, he can wield as much influence and authority in any
future terrorist grouping as he did in the 1970s?

How in all earnest, does he think that the patriotic Zimbabwean armed forces
and security services are going to blindly follow his "battle cry" and fight
against the ordinary Zimbabweans, with whom they share so much suffering, in
common? It will only be the usual suspects, such as Joseph Chinotimba and
Jabulani Sibanda, amongst others that are going to take heed of his command
as they stand to lose their ill gotten wealth in a New Zimbabwe. There would
not be any brooking of corruption, a crest wave that these liberators have
ridden to amass so incredible wealth that they use to sustain their opulent

No war veteran worth his/her name is going to make a fool of themselves by
following ill advised and ill thought-out plans of going back to the bush to
fight a democratically elected government. They are intelligent enough to
realize that even Thabo Mbeki would not be able to save them from the wrath
of Zimbabweans and the world that frowns on terrorism.

June 27 is going to bring to a crushing halt the illusions that these
liberators turned oppressors are going to realize that they are an isolated
and dying breed whose eventually passage, instead of being mourned, is going
to be greeted by reverberations of happiness and joy throughout the length
and breadth of Zimbabwe and beyond.

Zimbabweans will rejoice in their ignominy at the polls and as the saying
goes in Zimbabwe nowadays, no amount of torture, violence and suffering is
going to sidetrack them from accomplishing their greatest triumph since
1980 - kicking out of office a tired and clueless leadership that is holding
the nation to ransom simply because they fought the war that brought us
independence and not freedom.

The basic problem that Zimbabweans have with Mugabe that Mbeki and his ilk,
are patently oblivious to, is that he has overstayed his welcome. Mugabe and
the people that surround him appear to have an uncanny ability to misread
the mood of the Zimbabwean people and have misconstrued their amiable nature
to be docility.

Our placid nature has been violated by a greedy bunch of supposed
nationalists whose greediness has become so ingrained that they can not see
beyond their own welfare, much to the detriment and suffering of the rest of
the population. They have elevated greedy and economic ruin to heights never
before witnessed by mankind in Africa in a country not at war. They have
given a whole new meaning to black on black oppression that even the likes
of Idi Amin, Sani Abacha, Kamuzu Banda and Mobutu Seseko would have been
proud of and marvelled at.

Mugabe's desperation has plumbed new moral depths as evidenced by his use of
vulnerable children and youths to commit heinous crimes against their own
relatives. His quest for staying in power has seen him in a flash; transform
unemployed youths who roam the countryside and urban areas in search of
non-existent employment opportunities, into unrecognized killers and drug
addicts who do not hesitate to turn the guns against their relatives and

Zimbabweans go to the polls on June 27, knowing that the threats to return
to the bush by a vulnerable OAP are nothing but the last kicks of a dying
horse. They know that his efficient intelligence machinery has told him that
there is no escape from the jaws of defeat that is starring at him.

They know that they have previously weathered untold suffering, killings and
torture from Ian Douglas Smith to reclaim their independence and are in the
same mood to weather these dastardly acts and punishment at the hands of
Robert Gabriel Mugabe to reclaim their freedom and dignity.

Zimbabweans know that Ian Douglas Smith destroyed their traditional
institutions such as chieftainships to sustain his illegal regime, just as
in the same way Robert Gabriel Mugabe is reverting to these same cowardly
measures in his desperate bid to remain relevant in a New Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans painfully remember the role played by Smith's chiefs such as
Jeremiah Chirau, just as they are seeing that role being reincarnated today
by Mugabe's Chief Fortune Charumbira, a supposedly educated 46 year-old
university graduate who is assumed to be able to distinguish between good
and bad.

So much for university education!

Zimbabweans know that their New Zimbabwe project and its proponents neither
need air time on television nor acres of advertising space in newspapers to
drive the freedom message to them, as they can smell the long delayed
freedom in the air.

The then Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation and the Rhodesian Herald spoke
of terrorists in the 1970s and today, they have reprised the same roles for
this dictatorship that appears to have a penchant of adopting anything that
UDI Rhodesia stood for in its vain quest to deny us our freedoms. They speak
of the people at the forefront of fighting for our freedom as terrorists and
stooges, just as they spoke of those of yesteryear who are now in the
driving seat of the wagons of the state. Talk of role reversal!

Zimbabweans know that just like it is in their nature to work hard; freedoms
require sacrifices and lots of hard work to attain.

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Push Mugabe toward the exit in Zimbabwe

The Kansas City Star
Tue, Jun. 17, 2008 10:15 PM

In the past week, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's hyperviolent thugs have
burned to death the wives of two opposition leaders. In the first case, they
also burned the opposition leader's 6-year-old son. In the second case, the
woman was first mutilated.
That's right: The president's men are hacking off hands and feet, and
burning people alive.

This information comes from The Times of London, which has a reporter in
Mhondoro, where the second murder took place and who gave this report:

"The men who pulled up in three white pickup trucks were looking for Patson
Chipiro, head of the Zimbabwean opposition party in Mhondoro district. His
wife, Dadirai, told them he was in Harare but would be back later in the
day, and the men departed.

"An hour later they were back. They grabbed Mrs Chipiro and chopped off one
of her hands and both her feet. Then they threw her into her hut, locked the
door and threw a petrol bomb through the window."

It is a horrifying development, but is it surprising? Every week, the news
coming out of Zimbabwe is worse. So much so that this is, sadly, no longer

But the situation there has intensified lately. Opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has been detained, time and again, while trying to campaign for
the June 27 "runoff election" that Mugabe will clearly steal.

Make no mistake, Tsvangirai is a brave man, and one who obviously believes
there's something worth saving in his native land.

In fact, it's not a stretch to say he clearly believes there's something
worth dying for in Zimbabwe, because to deny that his life should be
considered to be in grave danger every day he remains there looks to be
ignoring the facts on the ground.

On Thursday, the second-ranking member of his opposition party, Tendai Biti,
returned to Zimbabwe from self-imposed exile, only to be arrested at the
Harare airport.

The word from there is that he will be charged with treason, for which he
can be executed.

The crime? He demanded democracy in the allegedly democratic state.

To believe that, in nine days, we'll see anything but a sham of an election
in Zimbabwe is, of course, foolish. Mugabe is now threatening voters with
both violence and starvation, should they fail to back him.

The tragedy in this is that, had he stepped down gracefully in the early to
mid-1990s, after more than a decade in charge of Zimbabwe post-British rule,
he would have spent his retirement being feted around the world as a leader
with vision, as one of the shining lights of sub-Saharan Africa.

Zimbabwe looked like a multiracial model. The economy was strong, and
growing, on the back of a vibrant agriculture sector. The future looked very
bright for the then "Emerald of Africa," the "Breadbasket of Africa."

But he didn't, and since the late 1990s, Zimbabwe has declined under him -
in recent years, rapidly.

Its current horrific state, to a point where the wives of the opposition are
burned alive, cannot be tolerated.

Clearly, it is Zimbabwe, not a U.S. territory, and it's clearly not a U.S.
issue alone. But it's time to put some bite into our condemnation of this
manmade collapse.

It's past time. We, the industrialized and industrializing world, need
direct, and harsh, talks with Mugabe, pushing him towards the exit. Ensure
the election is accurate, buy him out of office, and Zimbabwe can flourish

Matt Schofield is the deputy national editor of The Kansas City Star. He can
be reached at

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No more doubt about Mugabe's mental health!

New Vision, Uganda

Tuesday, 17th June, 2008

ZIMBABWE'S President Robert Mugabe has gone stark raving mad! If there was
any doubt about the sanity of the former freedom-fighter-turned-dictator,
all that changed last week. At the funeral of a former freedom fighter,
Mugabe made it clear that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will
never rule Zimbabwe-even if it wins a landslide victory.

Mugabe vowing never to allow Zimbabwe to be ruled by what he termed as
"lackeys", promised to personally return to the bush to wage war on a new
MDC government. He is reported to have said, "We are prepared to fight for
our country and to go to war if we lose it the same way our ancestors lost

Then on Monday, just in case his captive audience missed the point, Mugabe
went further to explain why he would not be relinquishing power soon. He is
reported byThe Zimbabwe Herald to have said, "We shed a lot of blood for
this country. We are not going to give up our country for a mere 'X' on a
ballot. How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?" Okay, at least we now
know what is in store for poor Zimbabweans.

But Mugabe conveniently forgot to mention the fact that the MDC is popular
because ordinary Zimbabweans are clamouring for change. Moreover, democratic
change was precisely why the costly liberation war was fought in the first
place against Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence. In his
deluded self, Mugabe cannot see that he has run the once vibrant country to
the ground through the corrupt practices of his appointed lackeys such that
the voices of ordinary citizens no longer count. Mind you, the same citizens
he claims to represent!

But, hey, why blame Mugabe when there are enough blames to go around?
Several factors have colluded to allow Mugabe to luxuriate in the
hallucination of being king of all Zimbabwe. Foremost, ineffectual
neighbours have wrung their hands while Zimbabwe burns. To date, only tiny
Botswana has lodged a formal protest over the ongoing actions of the
Zimbabwean authorities against members of the opposition MDC. It is like a
mosquito telling an elephant to behave.

The rest of the member states of the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) have kept their collective heads in the sand in case they are gruffly
asked, "What are you staring at?" South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki
mildly referred to the political turmoil in Zimbabwe as "an internal affair
for Zimbabwe to resolve".

It should be remembered that Mbeki stood up for Mugabe in 2005 when the US
described Zimbabwe as "an outpost of tyranny" and designated it alongside
Cuba and North Korea. Mbeki dismissed that label as "an exaggeration".

Secondly, timid leaders elsewhere on the continent are afraid of pointing
the speck in Mugabe's eyes while ignoring the log in their own eyes.
Tyranny, as it turns out, is something best left out of polite
conversations. 'MYOB'-mind your own business is the mantra adopted by all.
And so Zimbabwe convulses while everyone assumes the role of onlooker at a
roadside car-wreck, shaking head at the big mess and breathlessly waiting to
see if there are survivors.
Thirdly, the lackadaisical attitude of developed nations has also
contributed to Zimbabwe's torturous journey under Mugabe.

There was a time when western nations seemed determined to change the status
quo, to shake Mugabe out of the tree. But by talking about Mugabe while
doing nothing about him, allowed Mugabe to grow stronger, even more
powerful. Along the way, the world became preoccupied with other urgent

The western economy was tanking in major world arenas, and the perennial war
on terror seemed to go from bad to worse. Somehow, an African dictator
squeezing the last blood from his people did not register on the Richter
scale of world political problems that needed urgent action.

Uselessly half-hearted plans of actions were hatched (mostly by Britain) but
never went anywhere. Mugabe continued to hold his nose at the world, and do
whatever he felt like doing. It did not help that Mugabe could justifiably
point to the catastrophic US election that ushered George Bush into power in
2000, and the more recent Russia's mafia-like coronation of new president
Dmitri Medvedev as examples of failures of western democracies.
If a superpower like the US can screw up big time while electing its
president, what about Zimbabwe, a neophyte to the game?

Fourthly, the biggest boost to Mugabe's power madness was the Zimbabweans
themselves. Like many African cousins across the big beautiful continent,
Zimbabweans once considered their leader as god-sent, spending more time
worshipping him than asking whether he really was doing anything for the

Whereas Europeans and Americans tend to give their leaders short honeymoons
before asking the tough questions, Africans linger a while, worshipping
their leaders ad nauseam.

Whatever the leader does, however petty or inconsequential, is treated as
big news. And, over time, that kind of adulation transforms into chronic
addiction as leaders crave quick fixes like addicts demanding shots in the
arm. It becomes normal for the leader to stay afloat, buoyed by a false
sense of popularity even as citizens applaud (and curse) him for staying

So, now we have Robert Mugabe, a former freedom fighter who is amok like a
runaway train, a Frankenstein monster that is part created by his former
colonial masters, and part by his people. And nobody knows how to stop him.
Short of his heart-string giving out on him (as happened with Nigeria's Sani
Abacha) he is slated to stay there a while-madness, stolen elections and

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