By Mike Pflanz and Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 5:39PM BST 19/06/2008
South Africa has called on Robert Mugabe to cancel next week's presidential
election and forge a unity government amid a campaign of violence that today
claimed the lives of four more opposition activists.
President Thabo Mbeki was reported to have held separate discussions with Mr
Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, during a visit to
Sources at both meetings on Wednesday told South Africa's Business Day
newspaper that Mr Mbeki suggested scrapping the June 27 vote "because it
would not resolve the country's political and economic crisis".
Instead, Mr Mbeki said, both sides should meet for their first face-to-face
talks to resolve the stalemate following the March 29 presidential election,
which Mr Tsvangirai won but not by a wide enough margin to avoid the
Officials in Zimbabwe would not comment on the substance of the talks.
The reports came as senior ministers from African countries gave their
strongest condemnation yet of Zimbabwe's pre-poll violence, which has seen
more than 65 opposition supporters murdered.
Four young activists linked to Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change were found dead in Harare's suburbs, the latest killings believed to
have been carried out by thugs loyal to the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The MDC said the four activists were abducted in the township of Chitungwiza
and assaulted with iron bars, clubs and guns. Shots were fired, leaving
cartridge cases where the bodies were found.
Witnesses said the victims were forced on to trucks and taken away by
militias chanting pro-Mugabe slogans.
Zanu activists were also accused of being behind a series of arson attacks
on the homes of MDC supporters.
A newly-elected opposition MP was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a
13-year-old girl, while six other MPs were placed on a police wanted list,
accused of murder, public violence and property damage.
Tendai Biti, Mr Tsvangirai's deputy, was brought back to court and was due
to be formally charged with the capital offence of treason a week after he
Mr Biti's alleged offences include his announcement that Mr Tsvangirai had
won the first round of the presidential vote before official results were
released. The MDC claimed that Mr Tsvangirai won outright, but according to
official results he came first but not with more than 50 per cent of the
vote needed to avoid a run-off.
The killings, arrests and firebombings are widely seen as an attempt by
Zanu-PF, under orders from Mr Mugabe, to cow opposition supporters into not
voting next week.
"There is every sign that these elections will never be free nor fair,"
Bernard Membe, Tanzania's foreign minister, said in Dar es Salaam during a
meeting of the Southern African Development Community.
Mr Membe's comments came after Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state,
called for more pressure on Zimbabwe from other regional heads.
"It is time for the leaders of Africa to say to President Mugabe that the
people of Zimbabwe deserve a free and fair election," she said.
Amid the growing international pressure on Mr Mugabe's regime, Zimbabwe's
state broadcaster and its leading newspaper group said it would no longer
carry MDC campaign advertisements.
The Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation and Zimpapers were also banning all news
reports about the opposition, which Mr Mugabe blames for inciting violence.
The Case for Free and Fair Elections
By Arthur G.O. Mutambara
19th June 2008; Harare, Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe's political strategy in Zimbabwe is very clear. He wants to
win the Presidential run-off on the 27th of June 2008 by any means
necessary, and at any cost. The brutality of the methods and tactics being
employed has been extensively documented. The key elements include political
violence, intimidation of opponents, displacement of voters, elimination and
harassment of polling agents and party campaigners, and arbitrary arrests
and incarceration of political leaders. There is electoral cleansing taking
place in Zimbabwe. Opposition activists, members of civic society and
ordinary citizens have bourne the terrible brunt of this brutality.
Demystifying the Mugabe Strategy
After winning the run-off, Mugabe will not only control the Presidency, but
the Senate as well. According to Section 33 of the Zimbabwean Constitution
the institution of Parliament consists of two structures, the Senate and the
House of Assembly. The two MDC formations working together hold the majority
in the House of Assembly with 109 seats versus 97 belonging to ZANU-PF,
which is now the new opposition. In the Senate, the combined MDC strength is
equal to that of ZANU-PF at 30 seats each. Hence, of the total 270 elected
seats in both the House of Assembly and Senate, the two MDC formations have
a 12 seat majority over ZANU-PF. In this regard, they hold claim to the
moral authority of representing the will of the people.
However, in addition to the 60 elected Senators, the Zimbabwean constitution
gives the person elected as President the power to appoint up to 33 members
of the Senate: 10 Provincial Governors, 18 Chiefs, and 5 extra Senators. It
is clear therefore that the balance of power in the combined Parliamentary
institution consisting of the Senate and the House of Assembly depends on
who is elected as President. If Mugabe wins, ZANU-PF will overturn MDC's
elected majority. In addition to controlling the Presidency, ZANU-PF will
effectively control the Senate with 63 legislators against the combined MDC
strength of 30. The ZANU-PF majority of 33 in the Senate will wipe out the
MDC's majority of 12 in the House of Assembly. This is why Mugabe is
obsessed with winning this Presidential run-off come hell, come sunshine.
From this position of strength, ZANU-PF and Mugabe will then want to engage
the opposition as weak junior partners, even though the MDC collectively
enjoys majority support of the electorate. They will not negotiate now,
before the run-off, because they are in a much weaker position. They lost
their parliamentary majority and Mugabe came second in the 29th March 2008
harmonized elections. The bargaining power obtained from winning the run-off
is so critical to them. With this victory, they might even dangle a Mugabe
departure, where his successor from ZANU-PF is elected national President by
a joint sitting of the House of Assembly and Senate in which they will have
a majority of 21. The Mugabe exit will be meant to pacify those in the
international community who view Mugabe as the symbol and personification of
the Zimbabwean crisis. This is the ZANU-PF political strategy. The
parliamentary succession is provided for by Amendment 18 to the Zimbabwean
Constitution. This is why individuals who are keen to succeed Mugabe through
this arrangement are orchestrating his violent re-election. While they are
trying to protect themselves from prosecution for corruption, human rights
violations and crimes against humanity, they are also driven by unbridled
ambition and self-interest. Unfortunately they are compounding their risk as
they pursue the retention of power at any cost.
Envisaging the Way Forward
It is abundantly clear that there are efforts to steal the Presidential
run-off by any means necessary. Mugabe has already threatened war in the
event of his electoral defeat. The challenge is what are we going to do if
Mugabe and ZANU-PF impose themselves on the people of Zimbabwe? What is the
appropriate response to the ZANU-PF strategy by Zimbabweans, Africans and
the international community? If Mugabe, whom we charge with committing
violations of human rights in pursuit of political power, cannot ensure a
free and fair election, SADC, AU and the international community must hold
him accountable. The winner of an unfair and unfree election must be under
no illusions with respect to the implications of such criminal conduct.
Those that govern must do so with the consent of the governed. The will of
the people must be sovereign. Consequently, the victor in a fraudulent vote
will neither have the legitimacy to govern, nor receive recognition
internally or externally. There should be neither recognition nor support
from SADC, AU and the international community for such a criminal and failed
State. More importantly we, as the Zimbabwean opposition, will not recognize
a national leadership produced by a fraudulent process. We will not enter
into any negotiations with such an illegal regime. There will be absolutely
no compromise, retreat or surrender on this position. No one should force
the Zimbabwean political parties, who won a majority of the votes in the
29th March 2008 elections, into negotiations with an illegitimate ruler. We
hope that Mbeki and other African leaders are listening carefully and
understand our disposition clearly. We mean what we are saying, and we will
walk the talk.
SADC, AU and the international community should not even contemplate coming
to us after the almost certain fraud on the 27th of June 2008. There will be
no engagement with an illegal government. We will not give legitimacy and
dignity to the illegal regime by seeking an accommodation with them. They
will run the country on their own. They will have to salvage the collapsed
economy on their own. Zimbabweans will not accept a government of national
unity (GNU) rooted in illegitimacy and accomplished through genocide. The
international community, AU, SADC and SA must understand this without
equivocation or ambiguity. The Zimbabwean opposition will never be part of
such a shameless betrayal of values and principles. What we believe in is an
inclusive government based on a free and fair poll. Nothing else is
acceptable. If Mugabe wins a free and fair election we will congratulate
him, recognize his regime and work with it in pursuit of the national
We are all witnessing the corruption and manipulation of the democratic
processes in Zimbabwe while we sit passively. Now is the time to act and not
after the fraudulent outcome. All factors considered, canceling the run-off
is no longer a practical or realistic option. There must now be increased
efforts to ensure that the election on the 27th of June 2008 is as close to
freeness and fairness as possible. This is now almost impossible, but we
must not give up. The struggle must continue. The objective should be to
establish and guarantee some integrity and fidelity of the entire electoral
value chain; from the campaign activities, voting and counting processes,
the announcement of the results, and the installation of the victor. There
must be freedom of assembly, association and expression. All political
detainees must be freed, and unfettered access to the State media ensured.
Measures must be put in place immediately to stop all politically motivated
violence. An inter-party liaison committee assisted by SADC must be speedily
deployed to attend to all claims of violence, while an SADC or UN
peace-keeping force is urgently needed to help put down the attacks. The
election is ward based, hence when voters are moved away from their home
areas they cannot vote. Consequently, the displacements of persons must be
immediately stopped and reversed. All displaced people must be assisted back
to their wards by SADC. Those that have had their identity documents seized
must have them replaced. External election observers should have arrived in
Zimbabwe on the 1st of June. There must be at least 9000+ observers for the
9000+ polling stations. The fact that we have a paltry 450+ observers that
arrived last week, and who spent their time holed up in a hotel in Harare is
a travesty of justice. What is wrong with these SADC and AU leaders? The
observers must stay in the constituencies and wards over night to witness
and deter acts of violence. The opposition must have at least 18 000+
polling agents, i.e. at least two per polling station. This requires
planning, logistics, security and resources.
While we appreciate the SADC facilitated dialogue between the key
protagonists in Zimbabwe, it has become a meaningless farce. How do you
negotiate when the political leadership of the MDC is detained, harassed and
intimidated? How serious is Mugabe about the dialogue? The silence and lack
of effective action on the part of African leaders is despicable. No,
President Mbeki we are not impressed at all. For the doctrine of African
solutions to African problems to be meaningful and respected there must be
bold and proactive leadership by Africans. SADC, the AU and the UN must
clearly indicate and explain to the Mugabe regime the consequences of a
stolen election, as outlined above. The key message should be that there
will be neither recognition nor support. There will be total isolation. This
communication must be done both privately and publicly. The personal
liability, with respect to national and international laws, of individuals
who are directing and executing the violence in Zimbabwe should be clearly
When all is said and done, Zimbabweans shall be masters of their own
destiny. We cannot outsource the management of our public affairs to
foreigners. We must close ranks in this darkest hour. The pursuit of a
peaceful, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe requires the involvement and
commitment of every citizen. The starting point is working together to
ensure that the outcome of the upcoming election is accepted by all
Zimbabweans, both winners and losers. Clarity about the meaning of, and the
response options to, a stolen election is imperative. History will never
absolve us if we equivocate and prevaricate. The outside world can only help
us help ourselves.
The Struggle Must Continue.
Arthur G.O. Mutambara
Drums of war
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, appointed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to act as mediator between ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to resolve the political crisis, arrived in Zimbabwe on 18 June and held meetings with both parties.
According to senior members of both ZANU-PF and MDC, the only point of contention in setting up a GNU was who would assume overall leadership. Mugabe's contempt for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who polled more support than Mugabe in the first round of presidential voting, is common knowledge.
There is a precedent for a GNU. After the massacres in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s, which killed 20,000 civilians, Mugabe formed a coalition government with his arch-rival, Joshua Nkomo, leader of the rival liberation movement, ZAPU.
A ZANU-PF source told IRIN that Mbeki spoke of the advantages of a GNU in separate meetings with both parties, while also calling for the cessation of hostilities.
But after the discovery on 19 June of the bodies of five murdered MDC activists in and around the capital, Harare, Mbeki's plea for an end to the violence appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
"Now it's about 70 we've lost," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told local media, referring to the number of MDC supporters the party claims have been killed since the 29 March election, in which ZANU-PF lost control of parliament for the first time since independence in 1980.
With the 27 June presidential run-off imminent, Tanzanian foreign minister Bernard Membe reportedly said on 19 June: "According to SADC, there are fears that there will be no free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, due to the prevailing political and economic situation in that country."
ZANU-PF, we feel that President Mugabe should be the leader of such a formation
(GNU), given his history as founder-leader. Making him a surbordinate of Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, would be disrespectful
The post-election violence since the 29 March poll is leading to a growing number of calls for the run-off election to be cancelled in favour of a negotiated settlement.
"As ZANU-PF, we feel that President Mugabe should be the leader of such a formation (GNU), given his history as a founder-leader. Making him a subordinate of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, would be disrespectful. An acceptable solution would be the Kenyan compromises, whereby the head of state would remain in power while the position of prime minister can be created for Tsvangirai," the ZANU-PF source told IRIN.
ZANU-PF officials told IRIN, on condition of anonymity, that threats of war, murder, abduction and mass arrests of the opposition leadership and party members were designed to break their spirits and make them "very eager to form a GNU".
"For your own information," an MDC official told IRIN, "when the secretary-general of the MDC, Tendai Biti, was arrested, he had just attended a meeting with his counterparts in ZANU-PF on a possible GNU. ZANU-PF is using all tactics in the book to ensure that Mugabe wins the [presidential] run-off, which would give him moral authority to form a GNU."
Biti was arrested last week after returning from South Africa and is facing treason charges, which carry the death penalty.
The MDC official said Biti and eight other MDC legislators on the government's wanted list could be used as bargaining chips in the make-up of the GNU.
Mugabe's chief election agent, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Tsvangirai have both said the election run-off was a legal requirement that needed to be fulfilled, and that it was up to the winner to form an inclusive government.
Drums of war
Further doubts about the freedom and fairness of the upcoming run-off poll were expressed on 18 June by the Pan African Parliament Observer Team, one of the few other electoral observer missions permitted by Mugabe's government to oversee the ballot.
The head of the Pan African observer mission, Marwick Khumalo, told journalists at a media briefing that "Beating the drums of war is not acceptable ... When people make statements which are derogatory and inflammatory, they would know that they can incite other people into being violent."
Beating the drums of war is not acceptable ... When people make
statements which are derogatory and inflammatory, they would know that they can
incite other people into being violent
Responding to reports that members of the armed services had cast postal ballots under the supervision of their senior officers, Khumalo said he had requested a meeting with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to express their concerns, but "What we have received is a letter apologising that they cannot attend or respond to our invitation for a meeting."
"They have now invited us to a meeting, together with other observers, on June 23," he said.
The observer team visited trouble spots and on one occasion met a man displaced by the violence after his wife had been killed with an axe by assailants, and her body buried.
Khumalo said, "It is honestly regrettable that violence has resurfaced in this manner. Instead of concentrating on observing a smooth election, violence has come top of the agenda, where we now have to observe and investigate and, as you know, investigating is time-consuming."
Haile Mankerios, UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs, arrived in Zimbabwe on 17 June and after a meeting with Mugabe told journalists: "I am here to find out what measures are being put in place to ensure there is a free, fair and transparent run-off, and what we as the UN can do to support Zimbabwe."
Mugabe agreed to the UN envoy's presence after meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the recent conference on the global food crisis in the Italian capital, Rome. Ban expressed "profound alarm" on 18 June about the prevailing conditions in Zimbabwe ahead of the 27 June ballot.
But a Zimbabwe government official told the state-controlled newspaper, The Herald, that "He [Mankerios] is here to assess Zimbabwe's technical capacity [to hold the election], following a meeting between President Mugabe and the UN Secretary-General in Rome."
Mugabe condemned by his peers
An array of Africa's luminaries, including Nobel laureates Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Wangari Maathai, signed an open letter in their personal capacity, calling for the run-off elections to be conducted in "a peaceful and transparent manner that allows the citizens of Zimbabwe to express freely their political will."
The signatories include a number of former presidents: Burundi's Pierre Buyoya, Mozambique's Joaquim Chissano, Nigeria's Abdusalami Alhaji Abubakar, Ghana's Jerry Rawlings, Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda, Botswana's Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae, Tanzania's Benjamin Mkapa and Ali Hassan Mwinyi, among others, as well as business leaders such as Mo Ibrahim, founder of Celtel International, and musicians like Youssou N'Dour.
"As Africans, we consider the forthcoming elections to be critical. We are aware of the attention of the world. More significantly, we are conscious of the huge number of Africans who want to see a stable, democratic and peaceful Zimbabwe," the letter said.
"Consequently, we are deeply troubled by the current reports of intimidation, harassment and violence. It is vital that the appropriate conditions are created, so that the presidential run-off is conducted in a peaceful, free and fair manner. Only then can the political parties conduct their election campaigning in a way that enables the citizens to express freely their political will," the signatories confirmed.
"To this end it will be necessary to have an adequate number of independent electoral observers, both during the election process and to verify the results."
by Fran Blandy Thu Jun 19, 10:54 AM ET
PRETORIA (AFP) - US ambassador to Harare James McGee said Thursday that a
"negotiated government" in place of elections was not the answer to
Zimbabwe's crisis ahead of next week's presidential run-off.
"I don't think the will of the people of Zimbabwe will be met through a
negotiated government," McGee said during a lecture at the University of
"This election is absolutely necessary for the will of the people to be
There have been growing calls to cancel the June 27 presidential run-off in
favour of negotiations on forming a national unity government.
South African leader Thabo Mbeki has been reportedly seeking to convince
Zimbabwe's president and opposition leader to agree to such a plan.
With violence mounting in Zimbabwe ahead of the run-off, McGee warned that
the deteriorating situation made a free and fair run-off election near
"As I flew down from Zimbabwe this morning I left a country on the
precipice," said McGee. The former potential regional breadbasket with once
limitless economic potential was "sinking into a seemingly bottomless
abyss," he added.
"Sadly as I stand here today the prospects for a free and fair election that
might bring change to Zimbabwe is extremely limited," he told his audience.
Violence is mounting in Zimbabwe ahead of the presidential run-off set for
June 27, and McGee warned the deteriorating situation made a free and fair
run-off election near impossible.
"The only possible antidote is an immediate and large scale commitment to
independent large scale observation by SADC (The Southern African
Development Community), the AU (African Union) and others."
A senior SADC official announced Thursday that the observers they were
deploying for the run-off would remain in Zimbabwe beyond the election, to
ensure that the post-election situation remained calm.
"As we speak now, we have more than 200 observers on the ground...to ensure
that Zimbabwean people go through this electoral process very peacefully,"
the SADC's politics, defence and security, Tanki Mothae told public
broadcaster SABC radio.
McGee told his audience in Pretoria: "Make no mistake Zimbabwe's ongoing
crisis is a regional crisis. When the people and and governments of this
region stand against ... further violence in Zimbabwe, they can and do make
He warned that the most likely possibility, that the run-off would be a
"stolen election", would only lead to millions more Zimbabweans flooding the
neighbouring countries in the region.
McGee said he himself had witnessed the "new" campaign of violence in which
war veterans had come "out of the shadows", with no semblance of an attempt
to hide their lawlessness.
Recently, while driving back to his office in Harare, McGee said he had
witnessed nearly 500 women and young children running down the street chased
by up to 200 youths wearing Mugabe t-shirts and brandishing sticks and axes.
And he made it clear he disagreed with the South African government view on
the Zimbabwe crisis.
"The South African view that Zimbabwe poses no international security threat
is one that we do not share," said McGee.
Monsters and Critics
Jun 19, 2008, 17:43 GMT
Johannesburg/Harare - Tendai Biti, an outspoken leader of Zimbabwe's
opposition, was officially charged with treason Thursday in a Harare court -
as elsewhere the opposition reported the discovery of the bodies of four
kidnapped political activists.
Arrested last Thursday at Harare International Airport on arrival from South
Africa, Biti was also charged with disseminating false information,
slandering the country's President Robert Mugabe and undermining the morale
within the armed forces.
If found guilty, he faces the death penalty. The court was to rule Friday
whether there was a case to answer following Thursday's hearing.
The visibly exhausted Biti, dressed in a red jacket, gazed upwards or held
his head in cupped hands in the full courtroom that included main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Biti, Secretary General of the MDC, had been in South Africa since early
April following Zimbabwe's disputed election in which President Robert
Mugabe lost control of parliament.
The charge Biti faces of communicating falsehoods detrimental to the state
refers to his allegedly announcing that Tsvangirai had won the presidential
March election by an outright majority.
Results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission five weeks later
indicated that indeed Tsvangirai had beaten Mugabe - but had failed to
garner the majority needed by the law.
Biti denies all the charges. 'The allegations have no factual foundation and
the document has no source so it cannot be attributed to him,' argued
Happias Zhou, Biti's lawyer.
Meanwhile, violence continued in Zimbabwe a week before runoff presidential
elections, with the discovery of the bodies of four kidnapped political
activists, the opposition reported.
According to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation, the burned
remains of the wife of the opposition mayor of Harare was also discovered
More than 70 opposition supporters have been killed since the March 29
presidential and parliamentary elections, the opposition has reported.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has held the opposition itself responsible for the
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee, speaking in the South African capital
Pretoria, said Thursday that Zimbabwe was on the brink of a 'bottomless
'It is a country on the brink of starvation. It has already fallen off the
precipice of economic collapse and is sinking into a seemingly bottomless
abyss,' McGee said at the Centre for International Political Studies at the
University of Pretoria.
The US official said that Zimbabwe's political violence as well as mass
hunger were 'the direct result of a regime that cares more about clinging to
power and the personal riches it brings than it does the welfare of its
McGee discounted upcoming elections, saying that Zimbabwe's
'government-directed campaign of violence and intimidation, coupled with
planned electoral fraud make a free and faire election impossible.'
McGee called upon Zimbabwe's neighbours to put pressure the regime of
long-reigning President Robert Mugabe, saying the problems of Zimbabwe had
regional effects, and the solutions should also be regional.
Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, who has been in Zimbabwe as part
of an African observer mission, warned Thursday that increasing violence
could make a free vote impossible.
Membe, addressing a news conference on behalf of the three Southern African
Development Community (SADC) nations monitoring the polls, said he and his
colleagues from Angola and Swaziland would appeal to their presidents to
take urgent action 'so that we can save Zimbabwe', according to a BBC
The report quoted him as saying: 'The first impression we have is that if
the elections were to take place today, these elections would never be free
'The report we received still indicates that violence is escalating
'We have received a report that says on the 16th of June this year, as the
observers were being deployed to those various stations, two people were
'Of course, it scared most of these observers to the extent that they had to
pose the question of why are we here then, and what are we doing?'
The latest developments came as the UN Security Council was holding an
informal meeting on Zimbabwe chaired by US Secretary of State Condoleezza
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had warned Wednesday that repeated acts of
intimidation and arrests of opposition leaders would make Zimbabwe's runoff
presidential elections less credible unless Harare puts a stop to them,
Ban, addressing ambassadors to the UN at a closed-door session in New York,
criticized strongly the political atmosphere while Zimbabwe prepares for
runoff elections on June 27.
'The current violence, intimidation and the arrest of opposition leaders are
not conducive to credible elections,' Ban said. 'Should these conditions
continue to prevail, the legitimacy of the election outcome would be in
June 19, 2008
HARARE (Reuters/Own Correspondent) - Two people were shot dead in full view
of foreign observers monitoring the campaign ahead of next week's crucial
presidential election re-run, which incumbent President Robert Mugabe is
fighting to win at all costs.
This detail forms part of an early report from more than 200 SADC observers
already on the ground in Zimbabwe.
The forthcoming presidential election is, therefore very unlikely to be free
and fair, a group of southern African ministers said on Thursday, in the
strongest regional condemnation yet of pre-poll violence.
"There is every sign that these elections will neither be free nor fair,"
Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe told a news conference. He was
speaking in Dar es Salaam on behalf of a peace and security troika of
nations from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Tanzania is also current chairman of the African Union.
Membe said he and the foreign ministers of Swaziland and Angola would write
to their presidents "to do something urgently so that we can save Zimbabwe".
SADC is sending 380 monitors to Zimbabwe to cover the election, in which
President Robert Mugabe faces a second challenge in two months to his
28-year rule from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC). Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the first presidential election
held on March 29. The result of that election was not announced for five
Membe said their judgement on the conduct of the poll was based on evidence
from 211 observers already inside the country.
Some of the observers had reported that they saw two people shot dead in
front of them on June 17, Membe said. He did not give details.
Mugabe is accused by opponents, Western countries and human rights groups of
orchestrating a campaign of killings and intimidation to maintain his hold
on the once prosperous country. The MDC says at least 70 of its supporters
have been killed.
Tsvangirai told Reuters Television on Thursday that drawn-out court
proceedings against MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti were part of the
government's intimidation programme and this was affecting his run-off
"We spend time here, a lot of time which is unnecessary to attend to the
court proceedings and therefore it affects our campaigning," Tsvangirai said
at the Harare High Court, where Biti was due to appear on treason charges
which carry a possible death penalty.
A senior Western diplomat speaking in the region said the violence was
spreading and had now taken on terror proportions.
"It's time really that we moved beyond calling this a campaign of violence.
This is terror, plain and simple. This is a terror campaign that the joint
operations command has launched weeks ago, it's too well organised, it's too
well focused, it's too comprehensive, it's too completely political in its
objectives to be anything else," the diplomat said.
He added that militias backing Mugabe's Zanu-PF party were now active in the
capital Harare. "The atmosphere is violent. The violence is not abating,
indeed it is spreading to areas where it has not historically spread before".
Mugabe lost the first round vote to Tsvangirai on March 29, but the latter
fell short of the outright majority needed to avoid a second round,
according to official results.
South African President Thabo Mbeki has urged Mugabe to cancel the run-off
and negotiate a deal with the opposition, South Africa's Business Day
newspaper said on Thursday.
Tanzania's Membe said both sides had indicated they would not accept defeat.
"The statements being made by both sides . are disheartening. Let us expect
a lot of trouble to erupt in Zimbabwe after June 27."
He said the troika of SADC ministers was very concerned by the repeated
arrest of Tsvangirai during the campaign.
"As Tanzania, we have told the government of Zimbabwe to stop the violence.
We have told our observers not to be threatened, that they do their work
without fear. People of Zimbabwe are hurting and it pains us," Membe said.
Mbeki met Mugabe and Tsvangirai separately in Zimbabwe on Wednesday to try
to mediate an end to the violent crisis.
Business Day, a respected financial daily, quoted unnamed sources as saying
Mbeki tried to set up the first ever meeting between the two men but Mugabe
gave no firm commitment. It said Mbeki still tried to convince them to form
a government of national unity.
The South African leader did not comment after the talks.
Business Day said Tsvangirai agreed to meet Mugabe and said any run-off
would be a farce.
The MDC said on Thursday it had made an urgent court application to overturn
a state ban on media cover of its campaign.
Mbeki, who has led SADC mediation efforts in Zimbabwe, has been criticised
for a quiet diplomatic approach that has failed to end a political and
economic crisis driving millions of people into neighbouring states.
The Tanzanian statement on Thursday indicated increasing impatience in the
rest of Africa and a willingness to abandon the discreet stance of the past.
Mugabe blames his foes for the violence and has threatened to arrest
opposition leaders over the troubles
Another appalling event shatters the lives of the innocent
This is the story of three farmers, living peacefully in the Kezi rural
district, some 70km south west of Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo. All
three were supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic
Change. All three are now dead.
Their names were Edward Thsuma, 26, Mchasisi Moyo, 30, and Gift Sibanda, 37.
Mr. Moyo and Mr. Sibanda were abducted from their homes, forced into a white
Toyota Hilux, and taken into the hills. Their bodies were later found in
Mr. Thsuma was herding his cows with relative, who needs to remain anonymous
for obvious reasons. This man survived, with a broken arm and widespread
bruising, and is able to describe what happened.
"They found us herding cattle, and said they had spent the past week looking
for us. They accused us of selling out the country by voting MDC but living
on Zanu-PF land. They attacked us with clubs. I was knocked unconscious.
When I woke, they told me that Edward was dead."
No-one has been arrested for the murders. Everyone in Kezi knows who
committed them. It was a gang of so-called War Veterans, inspired and
financed by Robert Mugabe to wage war on their own people.
As the people of Kezi mourn, the violence continues to spread. The details
of the death of Abigail Chiroto, 27, the wife of Emmanuel Chiroto, the new
Mayor of Harare, have shocked the world. She was abducted from her home,
blindfolded, then so badly beaten that it was difficult to identify her
Her murder is an example of a new and dreadful tactic being practiced by
Mugabe's militia - the murder of the wives. In the past week the wives of at
least three MDC officials have been killed.
While the news of Abigail Chiroto was becoming known, South Africa's
President Thabo Mbeki flew in for surprise talks with Mugabe in Bulawayo,
and Tsvangirai in Harare. Then he flew home. Perhaps he knows a hopeless
situation when he sees one.
There is said to be mounting international pressure on the government to
cancel next week's run-off Presidential election, because the possibility of
there being anything even remotely fair or free about it is fast
disappearing. It is suggested that there might still be some sort of
compromise worked out, to provide us with a government of national unity.
But no-one in Kezi rural district will ever forget, or forgive, the murders
of Edward Thsuma, Mchasisi Moyo and Gift Sibanda.
Posted on Thursday, 19 June 2008
JOHANNESBURG (AFP)--Twelve bodies were found in various parts of Zimbabwe
Thursday, and most victims appeared to have been "tortured to death by their
abductors," Amnesty International said.
The allegation by the human rights group was made eight days before a
run-off election pitting longtime President Robert Mugabe against opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"Amnesty International today revealed that 12 bodies have been found in
various areas of Zimbabwe," it said in a statement. "Most of the victims
appear to have been tortured to death by their abductors."
-Dow Jones Newswires, 201-938-5500
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 19, 2008
Jan Raath in Chitungwiza
The murderous violence being driven by President Robert Mugabe's militias
reached new levels today with the killing and mutilation of four young men,
the largest number of fatalities in a single incident in the last 10 weeks
of Zimbabwe's election campaign.
Three of the men were Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) youth activists,
defending the home of a local official from attack by Zanu (PF) youths in
the sprawling dormitory township of Chitungwiza about 30 km south of Harare.
The third was a passerby, abducted because he did not know the Zanu (PF)
youths' secret slogans and salutes used to identify supporters. All of the
victims had their skulls smashed, said relatives who had seen the corpses in
separate mortuaries. Some had their lips and genitals cut off.
The escalation of violence came as Gordon Brown called on Mr Mugabe to admit
international rights observers and the UN rights envoy for the country's
run-off presidential election on June 27.
"We will work with all countries to make sure that these elections, which
are now being conducted in a spiral of violence, can be free and fair," Mr
Brown said after talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.
"I appeal to the Zimbabwean government to admit international rights
observers as well as the UN human rights envoy, so that we can be satisfied
that any elections that take place, if they are to be legitimate, can be
free and fair."
Earlier, Tendai Biti, the the MDC deputy opposition leader, was charged with
subversion and election rigging - offences that could carry the death
penalty on conviction.
The bodies of Archford Chipiyo, 28, the son of Philemon Chipiyo, district
chairman of the MDC in Chitungwiza, Yona Genti and the unidentified young
man were found in tall grass at the side of the main southward highway out
of Harare at around midday. The body of the fourth, Nyoni Light, was dumped
near a shopping centre on the outskirts of Chitungwiza.
The township, with a population of more than a million, has been the scene
of numerous petrol bombings, abductions and assaults in the last week as
marauding Zanu (PF) mobs dragged mostly young people out of their homes and
forced them to join them, marching through the night.
The arrival of observer missions from the Pan-African Parliament and the
Southern African Development Community has done nothing to restrain the
violence. In previous elections since 2000, Zanu (PF) has switched off the
mobs and their attacks as soon as observers appeared, giving the impression
of a tranquil election environment.
Philemon Chipiyo, 59, a respected alderman for the Chitungwiza town council
for the last 25 years, said that a mob of about 200 Zanu (PF) youths
attacked his home at midnight on Tuesday, but were repulsed by his guards.
"They came back again later, with five pickup trucks and a [Mercedes] Benz
(signalling the presence of a senior Zanu (PF) official). They smashed down
the wall, and they were firing shots." He produced a live round found lying
inside the house, as well as a stabbing spear left behind.
Monsters and Critics
Jun 19, 2008, 17:05 GMT
New York - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday called for
'broader and stronger' action to stop the political, social and economic
deterioration in Zimbabwe as it prepares for run-off elections.
The meeting at UN headquarters, attended by diplomats, many of them
Africans, and UN officials, was aimed at helping the UN formulate measures
to deal with the crisis in the build up to the June 27 vote.
'Clearly we have reached the point where broader, stronger international
efforts are needed,' Rice told the meeting.
She said a call has been forwarded to 14 former African presidents, Nobel
Peace Prize laureates and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to impress
on Zimbabwe to hold free and fair elections.
She called on the southern African development cooperation group, headed by
South African President Thabo Mbeki, to urge President Robert Mugabe to stop
the violence in his country immediately and allow the resumption of
humanitarian assistance to the needy.
Mugabe should allow the runoff elections to proceed freely and fairly and
abide by the results peacefully, Rice said.
Rice criticized Mugabe for squandering his country's resources, once an
economic jewel of southern Africa. She charged that Mugabe has led 'Zimbabwe
not only into a failed state that threatens the lives of Zimbabweans, but
also the security and wellbeing of all southern Africa.'
'We need to act now, if Zimbabwe could make the transition to democracy, so
much would be possible for its people,' she said, adding that the
international community will have a role to play.
June 19, 2008, 18:15
A Harare magistrate has ordered that the office of Zimbabwe's attorney
general thoroughly investigate allegations that Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) Secretary-General, Tendai Biti, suffered abuse at the hands of
police. Biti's lawyers have likened his arrest at the Harare International
Airport last Friday to abduction.
They alleged that he was whisked from the airport to a location in
Goromonzi, where he was interrogated continuously for 19 hours. The Harare
Magistrate's Court has instructed the attorney general's office to fully
investigate the claims and compile a report within 14 days.
Meanwhile, the authenticity of the document at the centre of treason charges
against Biti has been called into question in the Harare Magistrate's Court.
Biti's lawyers are opposing the state's application to remand him in police
His lawyer, Hattias Hou, has argued that the state has not presented any
facts to support its allegation that Biti indeed wrote the document. He was
finally charged one week after his arrest in Harare. Biti stands accused of
subverting the government, and is facing a possible death penalty.
Biti remains in detention
The accusations against Biti include seeking to render the country
ungovernable and possibly of resorting to an armed insurrection. He remains
Current African Union chair, Tanzania, today also put a firm question mark
over the possibility of a free and fair run-off. The violence and
intimidation continues. This morning the MDC claimed four youths and the
wife of a lawmaker had been killed by Zanu-PF militia, taking the death toll
to 70. The ruling party denies responsibility.
Thu 19 Jun 2008, 16:16 GMT
HARARE, June 19 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government is refusing to issue a new
passport to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, citing security reasons,
his spokesman said on Thursday.
Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change, left Zimbabwe
after elections in March to galvanise support for his bid to unseat
President Robert Mugabe's government. He went back last month to campaign
for the June 27 run-off poll.
"He is having problems renewing his passport after he exhausted all the
pages," Tsvangirai spokesman George Sibotshiwe told Reuters. "The
application process went well for two days until everything just fell apart,
with the officials saying the police had stopped them processing it for
He will take legal action to force authorities to issue him a new passport,
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the March 29 presidential election but failed
to win an absolute majority.
The MDC leader has been arrested five times in the past month. He and his
MDC say the detentions are part of a campaign by government to intimidate
the opposition ahead of the poll.
The MCD says 70 of its supporters have been killed by militia and supporters
of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF. The government blames the bloodshed on the
opposition. (Reporting by Nelson Banya; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by
By James Shumba
Harare Tribune Correspondonet
Thursday, June 19, 2008 13:50
Zimbabwe, Harare -- ZANU-PF youth, militia, war vets, CIO agents,
Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) officers, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
members abducted, beaten and killed four Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party activists. The deaths come amid reports that three homes near
Harare have also been firebombed by ZANU-PF militants, urged on by Mugabe,
ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off election.
The activists were abducted Wednesday in the working class township of
Chitungwiza, 25 kilometres south of the Harare.
The ZANU-PF militants, who came in trucks supplied by the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ), wearing uniforms and AK-47 assault rifles supplied by the
Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), swooped in on the MDC activists in the dead of
Nelson Chamisa, MDC spokesperson says they were assaulted with iron
bars, clubs and guns before being force onto trucks and taken away by
militias chanting slogans of Mugabe’s party.
Their mutilated bodies were found early Thursday. One of the man had
his head crushed in.
Chamisa says that in a separate incident, three Chitungwiza opposition
councilmen and their families had to flee their homes after they were set
alight by gasoline bombs. No one was injured in the firebomb attacks.
Attempts by the Harare Tribune to reach Zimbabwean police for
confirmation of the firebombing were not immediately successful.
Chamisa said ZANU-PF militants paid by the RBZ and army troops
patrolled the township for several days, visiting houses at night and
The MDC says more than 60 of its activists have been killed in recent
weeks, even that is an underestimate of the actual number. Upwards of 500
people have gone missing and are presumed dead, after being kidnapped by the
ZANU-PF youth, militia, ZNA officer, war vets, ZPR members, CIO agents
across the country.
Independent human rights activists have implicated police, soldiers
and Mugabe party militants in the violence, thought to be aimed at ensuring
victory over opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, who bested him in
first-round voting in March.
Doctors at the main Parirenyatwa hospital in Harare said Thursday they
admitted victims injured in assaults in several townships on the outskirts
of Harare in recent days as political violence that has plagued rural areas
spreads to the city.
Residents of Harare’s well-to-do suburbs reported gangs of militants
forcing household domestic workers and family members to attend meetings
known as a “pungwe.” That is colloquial term for night-long political
indoctrination used by militants since the independence war that swept
Mugabe to power in 1980.
Mugabe has threatened to return the country to war if he does not win
the run-off June 27.
“They came and dragged my workers to the vlei (overgrown grassland)
nearby,” said Oliver Mberi said. “You’d think we are already at war.”
He said neighbors reported employees living in the dormitory townships
fleeing violence in townships seen as opposition strongholds.
On Monday night, Abigail Chiroto, the wife of MDC mayor elect of
Harare, was seized from her house in the suburb of Hatcliffe with her
four-year-old son Ashley, family friends said Thursday.
The friends, who did not want to be identified for fear of
repercussions, said the two were taken to a nearby farming area where
Chiroto’s body was found Tuesday.
The boy, who was left at a nearby police station, told family members
that he saw his mother being blindfolded and taken off into the bush. When
Chiroto’s body was found, she was still wearing a blindfold. Her body was
identified Wednesday by her husband Emmanuel who was out of town at the
Mugabe “is behaving like a warlord,” opposition party spokesman
Nqobizitha Mlilo said. “This violence must stop.” The opposition claims
Tsvangirai won the country’s presidential elections, but official results
said a run-off, to be held in just over a week, was needed because there was
no outright majority win.
South African President Thabo Mbeki held talks with Tsvangirai on
Wednesday and later with Mugabe amid increasing international concern that
the June vote will not be free and fair. Mbeki, who has steadfastly refused
to publicly rebuke Mugabe, left late Wednesday without speaking to
On Thursday, he cancelled a press conference with Ethiopian Prime
Minister Meles Zenawi “due to unforeseen circumstances,” the Foreign Affairs
Department said in a statement. Mbeki’s spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said he
had no comment on Wednesday’s meetings in Harare because they were not
conducting negotiations in the media.
Mugabe spokesman George Charamba was quoted in Thursday’s edition of
the state newspaper, the Herald, as saying Mbeki came merely to review
election preparations. Mbeki says confrontation with Mugabe could backfire.
However, the South African leader is being urged to take a tougher stance or
show that his quiet tactics can work to persuade Mugabe to stop the violence
before the election.
Tsvangirai has called on Mbeki to step down as mediator, accusing him
of bias toward Mugabe.
Mlilo expressed little confidence that Mbeki’s visit would make a
difference, noting “four people died that very day” the South African
“Mugabe doesn’t seem to care what the international community thinks,”
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanded action Wednesday.
“It is time for leaders of Africa to say to President Mugabe that the
people of Zimbabwe deserve a free and fair election,” she said after a
meeting in Washington with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga — one of the
few African leaders who have criticized Mugabe. Most observers praised the
conduct of the first round — although not the delay in releasing official
results. But there are growing fears that Mugabe will steal the second round
through violence and ballot rigging.
In addition to the violence, Tsvangirai’s party has seen rallies
banned and campaign stops blocked by police. The opposition’s No. 2 leader,
Tendai Biti, has been arrested on charges of treason. The opposition says
the charges are politically motivated.★ --Harare Tribune News.
By Tony Hawkins in Harare and Tom Burgis in Johannesburg
Published: June 19 2008 20:27 | Last updated: June 19 2008 20:27
Robert Mugabe's government on Thursday slashed the number of accredited
Zimbabwean election observers, further heightening fears that the result of
next week's run-off presidential poll will be manipulated.
During the first round in March, the 8,800 independent monitors from the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network collated information posted outside the
more than 9,000 polling stations - a process which, according to Noel
Kututwa, its chairman, was "critical" in curbing distortions to the final
On Thursday the network was informed that, of the 23,000 names it submitted
to the Ministry of Justice for accreditation to monitor the run-off on June
27, a mere 500 had been approved.
Mr Kututwa told the Financial Times the reason given was that the presence
of observers "disrupts the smooth flow of voting".
"The idea is to make it impossible to do what we did [in the first round],"
he said. "It will be very difficult but not impossible."
The news came as Bernard Membe, Tanzania's foreign minister, warned "there
is every sign these elections will never be free nor fair".
Addressing a meeting of the Southern African Development Community's peace
and security troika, Mr Membe added that he and his two ministerial
colleagues would be writing to their presidents "so that they do something
urgently so we can save Zimbabwe".
The minister said his assessment was based on evidence from more than 200 of
the 400 SADC election observers already working inside Zimbabwe.
On Tuesday the head of the 40-member Pan-African parliament observer
mission, Marwick Khumalo, warned that "violence is at the top of the agenda
of this electoral process". He said he had received "many horrendous
stories. This election is a far cry from what we had [in March]."
Leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change on Thursday
reported another four deaths among party supporters. They said this brought
the total number of members who have died in political violence since the
March election to more than 70.
The harassment and arrest of MDC campaigners, the violence that is spreading
from rural to urban areas against people suspected of having voted for the
opposition in March, and the state media's ban on MDC campaign
advertisements have contributed to fears over next week's run-off.
David Coltart, MDC senator for Bulawayo, confirmed that although there would
be more regional observers this time they were less visible than in March.
He added that the observers' role appeared to be "reactive not
While MDC leaders agree that the poll cannot be free or fair, they reject
the idea that Zimbabwe should be "saved" by cancelling the election.
The party's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is predicting a huge turnout. "On the
ground people are exuberant, they are triumphant, they are defiant. They
want to finish him off come June 27," he said in an interview with the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
19th Jun 2008 18:03 GMT
By James D. McGee
ZIMBABWE ON THE PRECIPICE Presented by HE Mr James McGee Ambassador of the
United States of America to Zimbabwe at the AFRICA DIALOGUE LECTURE SERIES
Centre for International Political Studies, University of Pretoria 19 June
Thank you very much for inviting me to join you today. Thank you Dr.
Solomon. It's a pleasure to be here to talk with you about the dire
situation in Zimbabwe. At independence, Tanzanian leader, Julius Nyerere,
told Zimbabwe's new leader, Robert Mugabe, that he had inherited the jewel
of Africa and urged him to protect it. Zimbabwe was to be the model for a
It was the region's breadbasket. The economy's potential was limitless. An
effort was being made towards racial reconciliation. Twenty-eight years
later, as I flew down from Harare this morning, I left a country on the
precipice. Zimbabwe today, is teetering on the edge of lawlessness and
anarchy. It is a country on the brink of starvation. It has already fallen
off the precipice of economic collapse and is sinking into a seemingly
These problems are the direct result of a regime that cares more about
clinging to power and the personal riches it brings than it does the welfare
of its citizens. Sadly, as I stand here today, the prospects for a free and
fair election that might bring change to Zimbabwe are limited. The
government-directed campaign of violence and intimidation, coupled with
planned electoral fraud make a free and fair election impossible. The only
possible antidote is an immediate and large-scale commitment to independent
electoral observation by SADC, the African Union and others.
Some observers are already present and I know that more are on the way. I
welcome this development because I will be the first to admit that the
influence of the United States can only go so far in Zimbabwe. The impact of
Zimbabwe's crisis will be felt the most by its neighbors, and they can do
the most to solve it. The most immediate threat facing many Zimbabweans is
violence and lawlessness. The campaign of violence being conducted by the
Mugabe regime is out of control and shows a callous disregard for local and
international laws and the most basic standards of human rights. This once
proud liberation movement is willing to beat and kill its own citizens. It
is willing to violate the norms of civilized societies. It is willing to
violate SADC's protocols on elections.
And, as I have experienced first hand, it is even willing to ignore the most
basic protections for diplomats provided in the Vienna Convention.
Corruption, greed and the need to maintain themselves in power have
converted freedom fighters and liberators into lawless tyrants. I have
witnessed with my own eyes the victims of this violence, and any attempt to
deny it or claim it is the result of opposition activity is simply a lie. To
date over 3000 people have been hospitalized and over 60 killed. Over 30,000
have been displaced from their homes and villages. And those are only the
confirmed cases we know about.
I have received reports of a primary school principal dragged out of his
office in broad daylight, never to be seen again, for no other reason than
that he worked at a polling station that voted MDC in the March 29
elections. The elderly grandmother of the MDC's spokesman was assaulted
because of her grandson's activities. Children are being dragged out every
night and forced to chant ZANU-PF slogans and more. I don't think it is
inappropriate to call a regime willing to assault educators, the elderly and
youth as lawless. At an even more basic level, there is no Government of
Zimbabwe. According to Zimbabwean law, the Parliament was dissolved before
the March 29 elections. The newly elected Parliament has never been
convened. We now have the situation of a regime claiming to be represented
by "Ministers" who have not been appointed by any Parliament.
Some of them, such as so called Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa weren't
even re-elected and aren't even members of Parliament. An equally serious
threat for many Zimbabweans is hunger and starvation. Once unknown in
Zimbabwe they threaten many, including the elderly and children. Zimbabwe is
not currently experiencing malnutrition on a large scale, but it soon may.
Zimbabwe's harvest, devastated by the government's disastrous land policies,
will once again reach record lows this year. Current estimates maintain that
the harvest will only meet one-quarter of Zimbabwe's food needs. In a normal
year we do not see food insecurity start until sometime in August, but my
experts tell me that we are likely to see serious food insecurity starting
as soon as later this month. Compounding the lack of an adequate harvest is
the Government of Zimbabwe's disastrous, practically criminal, decision to
suspend all operations by NGOs, including those providing humanitarian
In the best of circumstances, the U.S. and other major food donors would
have a hard time helping to feed Zimbabweans. U.S food aid alone was $171
million dollars over the past year, with more needed this year. The
Government of Zimbabwe's decision to suspend NGO operations will prevent
this critical assistance from reaching Zimbabwe's most needy and potentially
leaves up to four million people in danger of starving. Not to mention the
orphans, HIV patients, elderly and other needy individuals having to make do
without any help. Let me be clear, the Government of Zimbabwe's actions are
a direct assault on the people of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's disastrous harvest is
but one symptom of an economy that has already gone over the precipice. The
numbers are truly staggering. Inflation is over two million percent
according to reliable private estimates. In the past week alone the Zimbabwe
dollar lost 56% of its value against the U.S. dollar. To give you some
perspective on what that kind of inflation means, I have heard stories of
people stranded downtown because the price of a commuter bus rose from 600
million Zimbabwean dollars to 800 million dollars between the
morning and afternoon commutes.
Routine transactions now require so many zeroes that some accounting systems
cannot handle them. Unemployment is over 80%. Manufacturing levels have
plummeted. Businesses close their doors literally every day. Even mining,
one of Zimbabwe's few remaining foreign currency earners is suffering as
power cuts and lack of needed supplies cut into production. Zimbabwe's once
vibrant economy is practically non-existent at this point. Those hit
hardest, of course, are the poor who make up the vast majority of Zimbabwe's
population. Zimbabwe's leadership is wont to blame the country's economic
problems on Western sanctions. First, the only real sanctions on Zimbabwe at
present are targeted sanctions against regime leaders which prevent them
from traveling to the U.S. and from doing business with U.S. firms. While
the Government of Zimbabwe refers to the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act (ZDERA) as a type of sanction, this is not the case. ZDERA
prevents the U.S. from supporting international financial institution
assistance, such as from the IMF or World Bank, to Zimbabwe.
Even without ZDERA, international financial institutions would not lend to
Zimbabwe because of its terribly mismanaged economy and its failure to pay
back prior loans. Zimbabwe alone owes the World Bank over 600 million US
dollars. Secondly, it is interesting to note that after Rhodesia's
Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, general sanctions were
imposed against Rhodesia. Nevertheless, at independence in 1980, the
Zimbabwean dollar was stronger than the U.S. dollar. The fact is that the
collapse of Zimbabwe's economy and the hyperinflation that has rendered
Zimbabwe's currency worthless are due to economic mismanagement, including
payouts to war veterans in 1997, Zimbabwe's misadventure in the Congo in
1998, and land invasions that began in 2000 and turned the bread basket of
southern Africa into a basket case. The government continues its economic
mismanagement through excessive spending, the 24 hour-a-day printing of
money, and maintenance of an artificial exchange rate that benefits regime
Zimbabwe will be able to emerge from the current economic abyss only when
there is political reform and political will, which in turn make economic
reform possible. I wish I could stand here and say that the June 27 run-off
offers the chance for political change and a brighter future. Unfortunately,
the current climate makes free and fair elections impossible. MDC candidate
Morgan Tsvangirai is hounded at every turn, making it impossible to
campaign. Since his return to Zimbabwe, he has been detained by the police
four times. His campaign vehicles have been confiscated. The Mugabe regime
is providing no political space for him to campaign. Tendai Biti, the
secretary-general of the MDC was arrested upon his return to Zimbabwe from
South Africa. His crimes? Announcing March 29 election results, based on
official tally sheets posted outside polling stations, before the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission announced results. He also allegedly disseminated a
document setting out MDC plans for governing Zimbabwe after the election-a
document that Biti never disseminated and which was fabricated by ZANU-PF to
create fear of the MDC on the part of its supporters. Biti now stands
charged with treason.
The state controlled media also contributes to the poisonous atmosphere.
They routinely broadcast and publish propaganda for the regime, refuse to
accept paid advertising from the opposition and slander anyone associated
with the MDC. Particularly disturbing, in the past few weeks the state media
has begun to broadcast inflammatory material designed to promote violence
against the opposition. Senior editors who opposed these policies have been
fired and control of the media given to security officials. Then there is
the massive and widespread intimidation of the electorate. At first the
campaign focused on areas that had traditionally voted for ZANU-PF, but
voted for the MDC on March 29. The goal of the campaign was to intimidate
people into voting for ZANU-PF, or simply into not voting at all.
Those who voted for the MDC, or merely live in areas that voted for the MDC
are being targeted. Mugabe has made multiple public statements that a vote
for the MDC is a vote for war, represents a betrayal of the country, and
be respected. The campaign has now spread to include attacks on MDC
officials and their families. Multiple MDC members-of-Parliament elect have
been arrested or attacked since March 29. The Mugabe regime hopes to
eliminate the ability of the MDC to campaign or govern, now and in the
future. All of this makes independent regional and international observers
crucial. I am pleased to see that SADC and the Pan-African Parliament have
already started to deploy observers to Zimbabwe. This effort needs to
continue and expand to include African Union observers as well. These
regional efforts, and regional initiatives to push the parties towards a
peaceful solution are critical. Zimbabwe's neighbors have the most to lose
if the crisis continues and have, far and away, the most influence. As vocal
as I have been, and will continue to be, my influence and that of the United
States can only go so far.
The Mugabe regime has shown itself quite willing to ignore international
condemnation of its heinous acts. It will find it much more difficult to
ignore regional leaders and pressure. We have already seen what regional
action can do, with regards to the arms shipment turned away at ports
throughout southern Africa. Most notable, this effort did not start out as a
governmental action, but as a protest by dock workers in Durban. When the
people and governments of this region stand together, opposing further
violence in Zimbabwe, they can, and do, make a difference. The centrality of
regional actors is appropriate, given that the southern African region has
the most at stake. Make no mistake, Zimbabwe's ongoing crisis is a regional
crisis. Its effects are being felt outside of Zimbabwe's borders and will
continue to grow more severe. Here in South Africa you are only too aware of
the huge numbers of Zimbabweans fleeing their country.
No one really knows how many Zimbabweans have left, but estimates range up
to several million or one-quarter of Zimbabwe's population. We have all seen
the tragic consequences of the large numbers of Zimbabweans in South Africa.
Former Mozambican First Lady Graca Machel recently warned of the impact of
population migration in Mozambique. One only has to look at the Great Lakes
region to see the devastating consequences of the mass migration of people
fleeing political violence. More than a decade later the region is still
unstable. None of Zimbabwe's neighbors will be immune. However many
Zimbabweans have already fled, even more could depart if the starvation,
economic collapse and anarchy continue. The impact of Zimbabwe's troubles on
the region goes beyond the millions who have fled. Zimbabwe was long known
as the breadbasket of southern Africa. Given the global food crisis, the
continuing disappearance of the Zimbabwean harvest is only magnified. People
throughout southern Africa would benefit from increased Zimbabwean
agriculture. In its absence food prices are higher and people suffer.
The broader economic collapse of Zimbabwe is also felt throughout the
region. Economic growth in the region is retarded by Zimbabwe's implosion.
That is why I think it is important for me to be here today. All of you in
this room have a stake in what happens in Zimbabwe. What is happening right
now is catastrophic. A disastrous harvest, coupled with an outrageous
suspension of NGOs by the Government of Zimbabwe, threatens millions. The
economy has completely imploded and anarchy lurks in the Mugabe regime's
criminal campaign of violence against its own citizens. The upcoming run-off
cannot provide a solution unless rapid and significant changes in the
prevailing conditions occur. Zimbabwe is a country on the precipice.
However, it is not too late.
I still think it is possible to bring Zimbabwe back from the precipice. A
concerted international effort, led by key regional players, can change the
future. If regional leaders decide to take forceful action that puts the
interests of the people of Zimbabwe ahead of any entrenched political
hierarchies we can avoid the catastrophe I fear. A massive independent
observation effort can slow the regime's campaign of violence, while
creating more free and fair conditions for the elections. A major donor
effort can stave off the impending hunger. And a new government which sets
responsible fiscal policies and is willing to work with the International
Financial Institutions can start to bring Zimbabwe out of the economic
abyss. It won't be quick, and it won't be easy, but we must start now, or it
will be too late. Thank you very much.
Thursday, 19 June 2008 19:25 UK
African states monitoring Zimbabwe's election campaign have added their voice to growing international pressure over the presidential run-off vote.
The head of a troika of observer states told the BBC violence could make a free vote impossible but his concerns were dismissed by the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The opposition has suffered five violent deaths in recent days, among them the wife of Harare's mayor-elect.
One of its top leaders has also been charged with treason and subversion.
Tendai Biti, who as secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has often deputised for presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested last week after returning from South Africa.
If convicted, Mr Biti could face the death penalty. The MDC will see his trial as a further move by the state to destroy its election campaign, the BBC's Peter Biles reports.
Mr Tsvangirai, who attended Thursday's court hearing, described the charges against Mr Biti as "frivolous".
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told an informal meeting of the UN Security Council that the actions of Zimbabwe's government have ensured the vote will be neither free nor fair.
"By its actions, the Mugabe regime has given up any pretence that the 27 June elections will be allowed to proceed in a free and fair manner," she said.
Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe addressed a news conference on behalf of the three nations - Tanzania, Angola and Swaziland - from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) monitoring the polls.
"The first impression we have is that if the elections were to take place today, these elections would never be free and fair... because... the report we received still indicates that violence is escalating throughout Zimbabwe," he told the BBC.
"We have received a report that says on the 16th of June this year, as the observers were being deployed to those various stations, two people were shot dead.
"Of course, it scared most of these observers to the extent that they had to pose the question of why are we here then, and what are we doing?"
"There is a derailment of Mr Tsvangirai wherever he wants to go to campaign, he's detained at police stations," Mr Membe added.
Speaking for the Zimbabwean ruling party, Jerome Macdonald Gumbo accused the Tanzanian foreign minister of bias.
"Skirmishes between the MDC and Zanu-PF are normal but not to the extent that the elections cannot be free and fair," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
"He [Mr Membe] is biased."
Such severe criticism of President Mugabe by a senior African politician could mark a significant shift in opinion on the continent, BBC world affairs correspondent Mark Doyle reports.
Mr Membe's comments are significant because for many years President Mugabe has sought to deflect criticism of his policies by saying attacks on him are masterminded by the West.
But the impact of Mr Membe's intervention is not yet clear, our correspondent adds: it may infuriate Mr Mugabe or it may be calculated to encourage him to compromise.
Observer numbers slashed
Zimbabwe's own independent electoral watchdog, the election support network, says it has at last been formally invited to monitor the poll but only with 500 observers.
That is a tiny fraction of the 12,000 the network had hoped to deploy to keep track of the 9,000 polling stations that will be opened on election day.
The MDC says at least 70 of its supporters have now been killed and 25,000 forced from their homes in a state-sponsored campaign of violence.
The bodies of four party members were found near the capital Harare on Thursday. They had been abducted and tortured to death, the party said.
Emmanuel Chiroto, recently elected mayor of Harare for the MDC, has been giving details of the death of his wife Abigail.
She is believed to have been abducted on Monday along with her son, 4, while her husband was away. Her son was left alive at a police station.
Speaking to BBC Radio Four, Emmanuel Chiroto said his wife's body had been hard to identify.
"She was badly swollen, it was like they used a club or some blunt object to smash her head and blood had been coming out of her mouth, nostrils and ears," the mayor-elect of Harare said.
"There was either a stab wound or a bullet wound that hit the abdomen."
Mr Chiroto held the Zanu-PF party responsible for his wife's death.
By CHURCHILL OTIENO
Last updated: 5 hours ago
Kenya has asked Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to respect the wishes of
his people by ensuring next week's presidential run-off is free and fair.
In a clear departure from Kenya's long held policy of non-interference in
other nation's affairs, a Government statement signed by the Foreign Affairs
Minister Moses Wetangu'la said recent developments in Zimbabwe were
"unacceptable to all people in Africa".
"As a nation, we therefore call upon President Mugabe to respect the wishes
of the people of Zimbabwe. Having accepted a re-run, President Mugabe should
ensure it is within the tenets of acceptable standards of elections and
democratic practice. Anything less is an affront to the evolving democratic
culture in Africa," said Mr Wetangu'la.
Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga has taken a similar stance over the last
two weeks. Speaking at the recent World Economic Forum-Africa held in South
Africa and during his current visit to the US, Mr Odinga has criticised Mr
Mugabe's handling of the presidential run-off and described the situation in
Zimbabwe as an "an eyesore for the African continent".
Mr Odinga repeated the criticism on Wednesday when he met US Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice in Washington DC where he asked the international
community to intervene in Zimbabwe in the same way it did in Bosnia.
The official Government statement said: "We note with concern information
from Zimbabwe on the roadblocks being created to the re-run campaigns of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Party. These kind of
activities are unhelpful and undermine the very enterprise of election the
parties have agreed to.
"We therefore call upon all parties, in particular President Mugabe, to
adhere to the Harare Principles that have guided democratic development
within the larger Commonwealth," Mr Wetangu'la said.
The Foreign Affairs minister said Kenya's position was informed by its long
standing policy on political processes with other states, particularly in
Africa: "This position is guided by our foreign policy goal on internal
affairs of states and as enshrined in the African Union Charter, espoused at
the 10th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, held in Addis Ababa
from 31 January to 2 February 2008 which aptly recognised challenges of
elections in Africa."
He said Kenya also subscribes to the AU position mandating the regional
bloc - Southern Africa Development Community - to lead the African process
Last Updated: 5:02PM BST 19/06/2008
Ben Freeth is a former British soldier who came to Zimbabwe to train the
army. He decided to stay on and married a farmer's daughter. This is an
extract from a letter sent from his Mount Carmel farm this week
It has been quite a weekend.
We were made very aware of impending problems on our Mount Carmel farm
before it even started. Various letters came in as well as verbal warnings
from concerned people all over the district. People were told that Mt.
Carmel cattle and potatoes would be dished out to them. The election
campaign is being fought on "one hundred per cent empowerment" ie. taking
everything that belongs to people who are not black and giving it to Party
faithfulls. The Party has got nothing else to offer the people...
People were told if they did not come they would be beaten.
President Mugabe arrived in our little town of Chegutu that afternoon and
people were only informed that morning. Everyone had to suddenly go to his
rally whether they wanted to or not. He apparently told the people that if
the opposition got in it would be war. The unexpected Presidential rally
must have thrown the organisation for the Mount Carmel "programme" [as it
was referred to in a letter from one of the organisors].
That evening we only ended up with about 500 of the expected 1500 people
that were to come. They were bussed in from all over on tractor trailors,
lorries, car and busses. We even had one bus from Shamva hundreds of kms
The drums and chanting started soon after dark. Nearly fifty fires were lit
all around. The leaders were waving guns around and had everyone doing their
bidding. The chanting and sloganeering was military style - all in unison
for hour after hour after hour all the way through the night. We could not
When dawn broke and the birds started to call the chanting broke into a
noise that sounded like a terrible swarm of bees on the rampage.
We knew that the beating had then started and we prayed. It turned out that
anyone who they believed had been polling agents at polling stations was
covered in cold water. We had frost that morning and it was cold.
They were then told to beat each other with sticks while the crowd egged
them on. The noise went on for a few hours. Some of them had already run
away. Those people will not vote; still less be polling agents in the next
election because you have to vote in your own ward I understand and they are
designating which polling station too so that they can check who you voted
They had been searched for any cell phones so that they not relay any
atrocities on to anyone. They were told that they would be killed if
information leaked out. Everyone is tight lipped about what went on. Today
they go through the day mechanically with terror written all over them.
A neighbor, Marius Erasmus, drove past on the main road and was stopped at a
road block that they had set up on our road. He managed to get through that
but at the next one they put burning logs on his bonnet and tried to get
into the car. A couple of hundred people came out from the packshed where
the indoctrination was taking place. He managed to reverse and turn around
and get through the other road block taking some rocks on his windscreen and
other places on the car.
Meantime Bruce [Lauras brother] had been at the Chegutu police station
trying to get police out. We had been there on five occasions the previous
week trying to tell Chief Inspector Gunyani and Inspector Manyota and
Assistant Inspector Bupera of what was to take place. We had given two
letters for the attention of the officer in charge, Chief Inspector Gunyani.
Bruce waited for six hours at the police station but could not get a
reaction to stop the beating and dismantle the road blocks. He saw Chief
Inspector Gunyani, Inspector Manyota and Assistant Inspector Bupera amongst
others. It is clear that they are under orders not to react.
Our electricity went down and both cell phone networks also ceased to
operate. We were left with no communications and our way out onto the main
road was sealed off by a road block. We prayed and read psalm 118.
Bruce eventually decided to come out himself. Miraculously, just before he
arrived, the road blocks were dismantled and everyone disappeared. Shortly
after the guards came to tell us of thieves in the maize - about 30 people
were just helping themselves. We caught some of them and chased them off and
recovered their booty.
Meanwhile the atrocities go on at the all night pungwes and the people
tremble with fear. I read that the observors are officially not allowed out
after dark because their safety can not be guaranteed. They need to defy
that and get out and see with their own eyes these things if they care at
We ask you to pray and send brave people and peace keepers to stop the
atrocities before they get even worse. Maybe I write this in vain; but I
write this crying.
Jun 19th 2008 | HARARE AND JOHANNESBURG
From The Economist print edition
Zimbabwe's travesty of a presidential election
AS ZIMBABWEANS prepare to vote in a second round to elect a president on
June 27th, the chances of an early end to the country's misery look remote.
Since the first round on March 29th, which even President Robert Mugabe and
his officials had to admit was won by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), the regime has been inflicting a shocking wave of violence
against its own citizens. Though Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC candidate,
sounds buoyant, it is hard to see how he will be allowed to win.
Pro-government militias, backed by the army, are doing all they can to make
sure Mr Mugabe keeps his job. According to the MDC, at least 65 of their
people have been killed, and thousands tortured and forced to flee their
homes. Human Rights Watch, a New York-based group, has documented a
systematic campaign of violence.
Malcolm (not his real name), a teacher near Chivhu, a small town south of
Harare, the capital, considers himself lucky. He was a polling officer in
the first round. A few weeks ago, a group of youth militia from the ruling
ZANU-PF accused him of telling people to vote for the opposition. He managed
to fend them off, but lives in fear and no longer leaves his house without
an axe. When pro-government militias visited a nearby school, they burnt
houses to the ground. Teachers struggled to rescue their children from the
flames and were severely beaten.
Cities have not been spared either. In the poorer suburbs of Harare, which
are strongly pro-MDC, militias patrol the streets, harassing anyone who
fails to display ruling-party T-shirts or scarves.
It has become increasingly hard for opposition leaders to campaign. Mr
Tsvangirai has been repeatedly detained. The MDC's secretary-general, Tendai
Biti, is in prison. The police have accused him of treason, a capital
offence, though he has yet to be charged. Human-rights lawyers and
magistrates have also been targeted.
Areas where the ruling party's grip has slipped have become hard to get to:
roadblocks control people's movements and even diplomats have been stopped
and threatened. The government ordered international aid agencies, to stop
most of their work.
Though African observers have strengthened their presence, the few hundred
on the ground will struggle to cover 9,231 polling stations. Western and UN
observers have not been allowed in. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network,
an independent local outfit that deployed some 8,000 observers in the first
round, is still waiting to get accredited to monitor the run-off. Its
members have been hunted down and beaten.
The repression has steeled some people's resolve. But others are
discouraged, having lost faith in the power of elections to bring about
change. "What's the point when we all know the result?" asks Kudzai, a young
man who has just run away from Mhondoro, 120km (75 miles) from Harare, where
the wife of an MDC leader had her hands and feet chopped off before she was
A growing number of prominent Africans are speaking out. Marwick Khumalo,
who heads the Pan-African Parliament's observer mission, says it was clear
that the poll could not be fair if the violence went on. The leaders of
neighbouring Botswana and Zambia are despairing of Mr Mugabe's antics.
Tanzania's foreign minister said there was "every sign that the elections
will never be free or fair". Kenya's prime minister, Raila Odinga, has
castigated Mr Mugabe.
The UN has sent an envoy while South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has
continued his efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement. But in South
Africa, too, politicians in the ruling African National Congress, including
its new leader, Jacob Zuma, are increasingly reluctant to tolerate Mr
As African opinion turns against him, a frantic round of diplomacy is under
way in an effort to head off what some fear may turn into a bloodbath. Some
ZANU-PF sources say-but others deny-that a place in a national unity
government was offered to the MDC. But the MDC says that the result of the
parliamentary contest, which it won by a slim margin, gives it the right to
form a government. Moreover, it says, an MDC-led government would include
some from the ruling party as well as non-party technocrats.
If the election does go ahead and Mr Mugabe wins, even organisations like
the Southern African Development Community, the 14-country regional club
that has been loth to criticise Mr Mugabe publicly, may become reluctant to
accept his legitimacy. He may also come under stronger pressure from
elsewhere in Africa to accept that Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC should play a
big role, if a unity government were formed. That sort of compromise, rather
than Mr Tsvangirai in outright command, is what most African governments are
betting on. If Mr Mugabe resists indefinitely, some African countries may
even start to contemplate economic sanctions-cutting off supplies of
electricity, for instance-that could jolt him into giving way.
Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:03pm BST
PARIS (Reuters) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on Zimbabwe on Thursday
to admit international rights observers and the U.N. rights envoy for the
country's run-off presidential election on June 27.
"We will work with all countries to make sure that these elections, which
are now being conducted in a spiral of violence, can be free and fair,"
Brown told a joint news conference after talks with French President Nicolas
"I appeal to the Zimbabwean government to admit international rights
observers as well as the U.N. human rights envoy, so that we can be
satisfied that any elections that take place, if they are to be legitimate,
can be free and fair."
President Robert Mugabe lost the first round vote to opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai on March 29, but the latter fell short of the outright
majority needed to avoid a second round, according to official results.
Mugabe is accused by opponents, Western countries and human rights groups of
orchestrating a campaign of killings and intimidation to keep his hold on
the once prosperous country, its economy now in ruins. Mugabe blames
violence on his foes.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie; writing by David Brunnstrom; editing by Mark
Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2008 By ALEX PERRY
Robert Mugabe's regime likes to talk about breaking the back of Zimbabwe's
opposition. John Moyo's story suggests that some of his followers take that
charge literally. Moyo (not his real name) is an activist for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Bhegedhe, a village of mud huts and
mopani trees in eastern Zimbabwe's Buhera district. Moyo, 45, was walking
home from a friend's house one Saturday evening in May, he says, when "I was
struck in the back by a heavy object and fell down. I woke up two days later
at Birchenough Bridge hospital." Moyo's wife Tendai, 37, had found him
bleeding and unconscious in the road and taken him to hospital on an oxcart.
Both his legs and his back were broken, and his spinal cord was partly
severed; he is now paralyzed below the waist. Local observers have little
doubt that pro-government militias are to blame. "Moyo is a well-known MDC
activist, a strong organizer, very popular," says a neighbor, Simon. "They
knew that crippling him would also cripple MDC."
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was detained Wednesday at a
military roadblock, a day...
Such stories have become common in the run-up to the second round of
Zimbabwe's election on June 27. The vote is deemed necessary because even
though MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai came out ahead in the presidential poll
on March 29, according to official results, he didn't get an outright
majority. Earlier hopes that the vote might end Mugabe's 28-year rule
quickly evaporated. Instead, the first-round results turned out to be a cue
for Zimbabwe's security services and pro-Mugabe militias to rampage across
The MDC leadership is a target. Tsvangirai is arrested on a weekly,
sometimes daily basis, and on June 12 MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti was
detained at Harare airport and charged with treason. But it is lower-ranking
activists and ordinary Zimbabweans who have borne the brunt. The MDC claims
25,000 people have fled the violence, thousands of its supporters have been
beaten, hundreds hospitalized, and 66 killed, while 200 more are missing.
(Reporting restrictions mean the figures cannot be verified.) A doctor who
examined the bodies of two dead MDC activists tells TIME their tongues had
been mutilated. In Bhegedhe, villagers talk of being rounded up by the
militias for all-night indoctrinations. "They tell us that if we vote for
Tsvangirai, we will have voted for war," says one.
In a report this month, the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch
details how the Joint Operations Command, combining the heads of all
Zimbabwe's armed forces, unleashed the violence under the name Operation
Makavhoterapapi, or "Where did you put your vote?" Tiseke Kasambala, the
organization's Zimbabwe researcher, told TIME that Mugabe is still a
powerful force, even though he is now letting the generals call the shots.
The MDC goes further, saying the top generals of the Joint Operations
Command are now in charge of Zimbabwe, having staged a silent coup shortly
after the March elections. In a telephone interview from inside Zimbabwe,
Tsvangirai, 56, a former trade union leader, compared the militias to the
janjaweed in Darfur and described the government as a junta. Indeed, under
Mugabe's regime, the country is fast becoming Africa's Burma: an isolated
military cabal bent on crushing democracy, paranoid about imagined foreign
conspiracies and prepared to sacrifice its people to preserve its power.
Few have escaped the dragnet. On June 5, militias surrounded a car carrying
U.S. diplomats and threatened to kill them. The regime has also arrested and
beaten journalists, local and foreign. On June 18, the government eased an
earlier ban on foreign aid groups, whom it accused of supporting the MDC,
allowing food and HIV/AIDS groups to re-enter the country. But the same day
it expelled an official from the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.
The regime is not shy about its embrace of violence. The MDC, say Zimbabwe's
rulers, is an instrument of a Western plot to restore the white rule it
overthrew at independence in 1980. On June 13, Mugabe was quoted by the
Herald as saying that Zimbabwe's voters had made a "mistake" by giving
Tsvangirai a majority, one that "can cause a lot of suffering for the people
if we go back to war." The militias had asked him if they could do just
that, he added. "They said this country was won by the barrel of the gun and
should we let it go at the stroke of a pen? Should one just write an X and
then the country goes just like that?" This indivisibility of the interests
of party and country has become a common regime refrain. On May 29, army
Chief of Staff Martin Chedondo was quoted in the Herald telling his men
their job was to defend ZANU-PF. "If you have other thoughts, then you
should remove that uniform," he reportedly said.
The generals' motives seem to be not so much avoiding justice as
accumulating wealth. At first glance, it's hard to see how anyone could
profit from a country where unemployment is at 80% and inflation is
165,000%. But the regime works the chaos to its advantage. The seizure of
white-owned farms since 2000, endorsed by Mugabe as a long-overdue
redistribution of land to Zimbabwe's black majority, has benefited the
ZANU-PF élite. A senior army officer warns that the generals will use any
means necessary to hold onto their riches. Should the June 27 vote go
against them, he says, they will disregard it: "There will be a coup if
Tsvangirai wins. Mugabe is going nowhere."
Such attitudes have alienated old Mugabe supporters in Africa. On June 11,
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni criticized the Zimbabwe elections and said
Mugabe "must go" if he lost the vote. Two days later 40 African leaders,
including 14 former presidents, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and
former Archbishop Desmond Tutu published an open letter condemning the
violence, while Botswana, one of several of Zimbabwe's neighbors now caring
for the heavy influx of refugees who have fled the violence and poverty,
lodged an official protest with the regime over its conduct. On a visit to
Zimbabwe, Marwick Khumalo, the head of an African parliamentarians' observer
mission, said he had received "horrendous stories" of cruelty related to the
elections. "Violence is at the top of the agenda of this electoral process,"
said Khumalo in Harare, adding he would not be able to endorse the process
if it continued.
That mood may be catching on in the ranks of the security services. "Most of
[the commanders'] sentiments are not shared by the rank and file," says one
junior army officer. "Our salaries are low, and most of us live in the same
areas as the suffering masses. They want us to beat and kill our relatives?
That's not possible."
Some ordinary Zimbabweans are no less defiant. In Warren Park, a western
suburb of Harare, Mugabe's election posters have been defaced with messages
such as MUGABE IMBAVHA (Mugabe is a thief) and HAULUME BOB (You won't get
anything, Bob). Moyo remains determined. "I'm going to ask my wife and son
to carry me to the polling station on June 27," he tells TIME. "I believe
Zimbabwe will be free one day. I will exercise my right and continue to
support the party of my choice." Zimbabwe's rulers may be dispensing with
the pretense of democracy, but its people haven't given up on it yet.
With reporting by correspondents inside Zimbabwe and Megan Lindow/Cape Town
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change says the ruling Zanu-PF
is pulling out all the stops to ensure victory in the 27 June presidential
run-off. It accuses Zanu-PF of unleashing a campaign of violence against its
supporters and planning to rig the poll. The first round in March was relatively peaceful and the MDC was able to
campaign across the country for the first time since it was formed in 1999. It gained more votes than Zanu-PF, which the opposition says, is now
reverting to type. These charges are denied by Zanu-PF, which in turn blames the violence on the
MDC. Here are the main complaints of the two parties: The MDC, backed up by human rights groups, say their supporters have been
attacked around the country, especially in rural areas which the opposition won
in the first round of elections in March. At least 70 have been killed and 25,000 forced to flee their homes, the MDC
says. They say Zanu-PF militias have systematically targeted key opposition
activists to be beaten, abducted and have their homes set on fire. Several reports, including documents obtained by the BBC, suggest that the
military is behind the campaign. The strategy would be to force MDC supporters out of their homes so they
cannot vote and to scare potential opposition voters into backing Zanu-PF
instead. The army has denied these charges and Zanu-PF officials have accused the MDC
of being behind the violence, while saying the scale has been exaggerated. Some human rights groups have reported that MDC supporters have fought back
when attacked by Zanu-PF militias. MDC rallies have been banned, with the police citing security concerns. Its leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been arrested on several occasions when he
tried to go on "meet-the-people" tours. Instead of holding large public rallies, he has been touring the country in a
bus, getting out in villages and shopping centres. President Robert Mugabe has meanwhile been campaigning around the country.
MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti has also been arrested and charged with
treason. The opposition says this is a deliberate attempt to block its campaign. The state-controlled broadcaster ZBC has announced that it will refuse to
take campaign adverts from the MDC. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa defended this by saying that the
international media was biased in favour of the MDC and did not portray
Zanu-PF's point of view. Obviously for the election campaign, it is local media which counts. But the advert ban may not be too significant. ZBC has always hugely favoured Zanu-PF in its coverage and its news bulletins
usually only mention the MDC in a negative light. And ZBC has a monopoly - there are no privately-run TV or radio stations.
There are a few weekly newspapers but these are only easily available in
urban areas and are very expensive. Western observers have been banned, as President Mugabe accuses them of bias
in favour of the MDC, which he says was set up by the former colonial power, the
UK, to remove him from power. The government is also greatly reducing the number of local election
observers it is accrediting, again accusing them of bias. The main independent monitoring group, ZESN, had hoped to deploy 12,000
observers but has only been allowed to send 500, to keep track of the 9,000
polling stations. Its observers have been attacked and some killed. ZESN released its own results from the first round and was accused of working
with the MDC. Some 500 observers from African organisations will also be monitoring the
poll. The MDC also accuses the government of using food aid as a political weapon -
threatening to withhold food from areas that vote for the opposition. The UN predicts that some five million people - almost half of the population
- will need food aid by early next year, so this is a huge threat. The government also temporarily banned aid workers from distributing food
aid. This was seen as a ploy to tighten its control of food aid, while removing
any potential witnesses to the violence. Zanu-PF accused the aid agencies of backing the MDC and distributing food aid
as part of its campaign. This was strongly denied by the aid agencies. The MDC also fears rigging and ballot box-stuffing on election day. In the first round, it believes that it was cheated of outright victory by a
mysterious block of 120,000 votes for President Mugabe. The opposition says thousands of ghost voters remain on the voters' roll, who
might nevertheless cast their ballots for Zanu-PF. And there are reports that Zanu-PF militants are being recruited as polling
agents, to replace the teachers and civil servants who usually conduct the
count. Many teachers in rural areas have been attacked and accused of using their
positions to help the MDC in the first round. Some have also been arrested and accused of electoral fraud. However, the election law requires that results from each polling station
must be posted outside, immediately after the count, which is witnesses by
agents from both parties. This was said to have reduced the scale of fraud in the first round.
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change says the ruling Zanu-PF is pulling out all the stops to ensure victory in the 27 June presidential run-off.
It accuses Zanu-PF of unleashing a campaign of violence against its supporters and planning to rig the poll.
The first round in March was relatively peaceful and the MDC was able to campaign across the country for the first time since it was formed in 1999.
It gained more votes than Zanu-PF, which the opposition says, is now reverting to type.
These charges are denied by Zanu-PF, which in turn blames the violence on the MDC.
Here are the main complaints of the two parties:
The MDC, backed up by human rights groups, say their supporters have been attacked around the country, especially in rural areas which the opposition won in the first round of elections in March.
At least 70 have been killed and 25,000 forced to flee their homes, the MDC says.
They say Zanu-PF militias have systematically targeted key opposition activists to be beaten, abducted and have their homes set on fire.
Several reports, including documents obtained by the BBC, suggest that the military is behind the campaign.
The strategy would be to force MDC supporters out of their homes so they cannot vote and to scare potential opposition voters into backing Zanu-PF instead.
The army has denied these charges and Zanu-PF officials have accused the MDC of being behind the violence, while saying the scale has been exaggerated.
Some human rights groups have reported that MDC supporters have fought back when attacked by Zanu-PF militias.
MDC rallies have been banned, with the police citing security concerns.
Its leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been arrested on several occasions when he tried to go on "meet-the-people" tours.
Instead of holding large public rallies, he has been touring the country in a bus, getting out in villages and shopping centres.
President Robert Mugabe has meanwhile been campaigning around the country.
MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti has also been arrested and charged with treason.
The opposition says this is a deliberate attempt to block its campaign.
The state-controlled broadcaster ZBC has announced that it will refuse to take campaign adverts from the MDC.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa defended this by saying that the international media was biased in favour of the MDC and did not portray Zanu-PF's point of view.
Obviously for the election campaign, it is local media which counts.
But the advert ban may not be too significant.
ZBC has always hugely favoured Zanu-PF in its coverage and its news bulletins usually only mention the MDC in a negative light.
And ZBC has a monopoly - there are no privately-run TV or radio stations.
There are a few weekly newspapers but these are only easily available in urban areas and are very expensive.
Western observers have been banned, as President Mugabe accuses them of bias in favour of the MDC, which he says was set up by the former colonial power, the UK, to remove him from power.
The government is also greatly reducing the number of local election observers it is accrediting, again accusing them of bias.
The main independent monitoring group, ZESN, had hoped to deploy 12,000 observers but has only been allowed to send 500, to keep track of the 9,000 polling stations.
Its observers have been attacked and some killed.
ZESN released its own results from the first round and was accused of working with the MDC.
Some 500 observers from African organisations will also be monitoring the poll.
The MDC also accuses the government of using food aid as a political weapon - threatening to withhold food from areas that vote for the opposition.
The UN predicts that some five million people - almost half of the population - will need food aid by early next year, so this is a huge threat.
The government also temporarily banned aid workers from distributing food aid.
This was seen as a ploy to tighten its control of food aid, while removing any potential witnesses to the violence.
Zanu-PF accused the aid agencies of backing the MDC and distributing food aid as part of its campaign.
This was strongly denied by the aid agencies.
The MDC also fears rigging and ballot box-stuffing on election day.
In the first round, it believes that it was cheated of outright victory by a mysterious block of 120,000 votes for President Mugabe.
The opposition says thousands of ghost voters remain on the voters' roll, who might nevertheless cast their ballots for Zanu-PF.
And there are reports that Zanu-PF militants are being recruited as polling agents, to replace the teachers and civil servants who usually conduct the count.
Many teachers in rural areas have been attacked and accused of using their positions to help the MDC in the first round.
Some have also been arrested and accused of electoral fraud.
However, the election law requires that results from each polling station must be posted outside, immediately after the count, which is witnesses by agents from both parties.
This was said to have reduced the scale of fraud in the first round.
Victoria Laurie | June 20, 2008
TWO days ago, Rumbidzai Tsvangirai spoke to her father, Morgan Tsvangirai,
on a phone line that they both knew was being intercepted by Zimbabwe's
The 22-year-old economics graduate, who left Zimbabwe in 2004 to study at
Perth's Murdoch University, knew not to ask her father about political
"I asked him how he was and he said, 'We're still with this old man',
meaning Mugabe and the fighting. That's as much as he can say."
The Movement for Democratic Change leader talks to his daughter
long-distance every few days, even after he was detained last week, for the
fifth time in about 10 days, by thugs working for President Robert Mugabe.
With violence escalating as the June 27 presidential election runoff
approaches, Ms Tsvangirai said she tried to keep conversations with her
father upbeat, telling him about her first job as a salary packaging
consultant with a Perth firm. "And I try to encourage him. I'm a Christian
so I read him quotes from the Bible."
This weekend, the reticent daughter (one of six Tsvangirai children) will
appear for the first time at a public rally in Perth to support a free and
fair Zimbabwean election.
"I came to a point where I said to myself that the time was right to speak
out about my dad, the MDC and (the plight of) everyone in Zimbabwe." She
said more aid was needed for Zimbabweans suffering extreme food shortages
She will also call on the Australian Government to put further pressure on
African leaders to speak out against the Mugabe regime. "They should be told
not just to watch what's happening, but do something about it."
The Tsvangirai family is scattered on three continents - son Garikai, 27,
lives in Canada while another daughter, Vimbai, 25, lives in Sydney and
works for the Sydney City Council. Mr Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, has spent
the past two months in South Africa with twins Millicent and Vincent, 14,
and 30-year-old son Edwin, after threats escalated against her husband.
"I do believe there will come a time when we can all go back to Zimbabwe and
my father will be president." And she said if he won next week's poll, "I'll
be on the next flight home".
She said that even her Christian faith allowed her no compassion for Mugabe.
"I know his government is doing whatever it can to stop my father."
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed
yesterday that it was investigating reports that at least three adult
children of pro-Mugabe leaders in Zimbabwe's despotic regime were studying
or working in Australia.
He said the Government would continue to review the visas of Zimbabwean
children whose parents appear on an international sanctions list. In August,
eight children of Mugabe government figures - all students studying in
Australia - were deported.
Ms Tsvangirai said she believed people would understand why her mother and
siblings were all living outside Zimbabwe.
"Any father who was in my father's position would do the same to ensure
their children were safe. Any parent would do that. I'd say my father is
very brave, a loving dad and a humble man," she said.
Jun 19th 2008
From The Economist print edition
Zimbabwe needs its neighbours to help rescue its people from hell
SINCE Robert Mugabe lost the first round of a presidential election at the
end of March to Morgan Tsvangirai, he has stopped at nothing to steal the
second round on June 27th (see article). Several million famished
Zimbabweans depend on foreign aid to keep them alive, yet he has banned most
foreign agencies from operating around the country, partly to prevent them
witnessing the horrors he is inflicting on those he suspects of disloyalty,
and partly to use food to coerce people into voting for him. His police have
repeatedly detained Mr Tsvangirai as he tries to campaign, and have kept Mr
Tsvangirai's number two locked up, saying they will charge him with treason,
a capital offence. At least 65 people from Mr Tsvangirai's party are said to
have been murdered since the poll in March.
Last time, Mr Tsvangirai was officially acknowledged as the winner against
all the odds because votes were counted on the spot and results put up at
each of the 9,000-plus polling stations, making it trickier to fiddle the
tally at the election headquarters in the capital, though Mr Mugabe's team
probably massaged the figures enough to require a run-off. This time it will
be harder for the opposition-for fear of being beaten up or even killed-to
field enough of their own agents at the polling stations and more difficult
for local independent monitors to watch the process. So the chances of
rigging on an even grosser scale have sharply increased. In short, Mr Mugabe
seems set to pull off a phoney victory this time round.
So is there any point in Mr Tsvangirai battling on, letting Mr Mugabe wrap
his brutal election charade in a cloak of legality? Plainly Mr Tsvangirai
would be justified in calling for a boycott. But as long as he sees a
flicker of a chance that he may prevail again at the polls, he seems
determined to carry on. Moreover, much still depends on the efforts of
Zimbabwe's neighbours, especially the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), a club of 14 countries (including Zimbabwe), to press for the barest
modicum of fairness in the poll. Last time, SADC's efforts to monitor it
were shamefully feeble. This time it is sending more people, but no one has
much faith in it. South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, whom SADC has
empowered to lead the mediation, has been a disgrace. He has blocked efforts
to badger Mr Mugabe into ensuring a fair second poll, let alone admitting
defeat and handing over power.
Africa must not be mugged again
The one glimmer of hope is that several of SADC's leaders, including those
of Zambia, Tanzania and Botswana, are losing patience with Mr Mugabe.
Unhappiness elsewhere in Africa is growing. So is a sense that, even if he
wangles a win, Zimbabwe can be sorted out only by a government of national
In a normal democratic country, Mr Tsvangirai would already be president, Mr
Mugabe and his villains would have bowed out and the rich world would be
dispensing its largesse. In the present dire circumstances, a messier
transition may be inevitable, even if Mr Mugabe steals this election, as
seems likely, or even if Mr Tsvangirai were allowed to win.
In the coming months, some kind of unity government may emerge. If so,
SADC's leaders and other influential Africans should make it clear that the
recent Kenyan model is not acceptable: in that case, an incumbent president
lost at the polls but has stayed in office by fiddling the count and then
letting the real winner hold a raft of inferior ministries. It may be too
much to hope that SADC will impose sanctions on Mr Mugabe and his gang if
they refuse to budge. But at the very least, even in an eventual negotiated
settlement, they should make it clear that it is time for Mr Mugabe to go.
He has become a disaster for his own country and an embarrassment to Africa.
Mail and Guardian
Cris Chinaka | Harare, Zimbabwe
19 June 2008 06:27
Zimbabwe's run-off presidential election on June 27 is very
unlikely to be free and fair, a group of Southern African ministers said on
Thursday, in the strongest regional condemnation yet of pre-poll violence.
President Robert Mugabe is accused by opponents, Western
countries and human rights groups of orchestrating a campaign of killings
and intimidation to keep his hold on the once prosperous country, its
economy now in ruins.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change said four youths were found dead on Thursday after being abducted the
day before, bringing to at least 70 the number of party supporters it says
have been killed.
"There is every sign that these elections will never be free or
fair," Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe told a news conference. He
spoke in Tanzania on behalf of a troika of nations from the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) responsible for peace and security matters.
Tanzania is the current chair of the African Union.
Membe said he and the foreign ministers of Swaziland and Angola
would write to their presidents "so that they do something urgently so that
we can save Zimbabwe."
SADC is sending 380 monitors to Zimbabwe for the vote, in which
Mugabe faces the biggest challenge to his 28-year rule. Tsvangirai won the
first round but without the outright majority needed to avoid a run-off,
according to official results.
The United States has joined calls on African leaders to take a
tougher stand on Zimbabwe. Its neighbours also fear the possible impact of
total meltdown there. Economic collapse has driven millions of Zimbabweans
into their countries.
Membe said the African ministers' expectations for the poll were
based on evidence from 211 observers already inside the country. Some of the
observers saw two people shot dead in front of them on June 17, Membe said,
without giving details.
The MDC said the bodies of four youths found at Chitungwiza on
Thursday indicated they had been "heavily tortured". It accused Mugabe's
Zanu-PF and state security of abducting them on Wednesday. Mugabe has blamed
the violence on the opposition.
A senior Western diplomat in the region, speaking on condition
of anonymity, said the bloodshed was spreading.
"It's time really that we moved beyond calling this a campaign
of violence. This is terror, plain and simple. This is a terror campaign
that the Joint Operations Command has launched weeks ago," the diplomat
He added that militias backing Mugabe's Zanu-PF party were now
active in the capital Harare. "The atmosphere is violent. The violence is
not abating, indeed it is spreading to areas where it has not historically
Tsvangirai, repeatedly detained during the campaign, told
Reuters Television on Thursday that drawn-out court proceedings against MDC
secretary general Tendai Biti were also designed to hamper his effort to win
"We spend time here, a lot of time which is unnecessary to
attend to the court proceedings and therefore it affects our campaigning,"
he said at the Harare High Court, where Biti was to appear on treason
charges that could carry a death penalty.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who met both leaders
separately on Wednesday, has urged Mugabe to cancel the run-off and
negotiate a national unity government with Tsvangirai, Business Day said on
The South African leader, under criticism for his quiet
diplomacy on Zimbabwe, did not comment after the talks.
Membe said both sides had indicated they would not accept defeat
and he expected more trouble after the vote.
"As Tanzania, we have told the government of Zimbabwe to stop
the violence. We have told our observers not to be threatened, that they do
their work without fear. People of Zimbabwe are hurting and it pains us,"
Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetang'ula condemned what he
described as "roadblocks" being placed in front of the MDC campaign and
urged Mugabe's government to hold a fair election.
"Anything less is an affront to the evolving democratic culture
in Africa and unacceptable to all people in Africa," Wetang'ula said in a
The MDC praised regional countries who were criticising Mugabe
and urged other African leaders to follow suit. - Reuters
Zimbabwe's powerful generals need Robert Mugabe to win the runoff elections.
After that, they can think about choosing his successor
Thursday June 19, 2008
Over the last 6 years Zanu-PF has been sharply divided over the question of
who, from within its ranks, should succeed Robert Mugabe. Even the country's
military has made its views known on the succession question. On January 9
2002, the then Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander Vitalis Zvinavashe
declared to the country:
We wish to make it very clear to all Zimbabwean citizens that the security
organisations will only stand in support of those political leaders that
will pursue Zimbabwean values, traditions and beliefs for which thousands of
lives were lost in the pursuit of Zimbabwe's hard won independence,
sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests. To this end, let
it be known that the highest office in the land is a straitjacket whose
occupant is expected to observe the objectives of the liberation struggle.
We will therefore not accept, let alone support or salute, anyone with a
different agenda that threatens the very existence of our sovereignty.
Zvinavashe's statement came two months before the 2002 presidential election
and was directed mainly at the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who had
no liberation war credentials. Tsvangirai did not fit Zvinavashe's
"straitjacket". The military mobilised in support of Mugabe and had a hand
in running the farm seizures that began in 2000. Suggestions of an impending
military coup if Tsvangirai ascended to power had surfaced before
Zvinavashe's statement. Didymus Mutasa, a powerful senior Zanu-PF member,
was the chief culprit, declaring in 2001 that "there were coups, there are
coups, there will always be coups" in Zimbabwe. Mugabe's victory in the 2002
presidential election was aided by the military's involvement in his
Zvinavashe retired as ZDF commander in 2003 and was succeeded by General
Constantine Chiwenga. In October 2004, ahead of the 2005 parliamentary
election, General Chiwenga reiterated Zvinavashe's 2002 statement, stating:
I will not hesitate to go on record again on behalf of the Zimbabwe
defence forces, to disclose that we would not welcome any change of
government that carries the label "made in London" and whose sole aim is to
defeat the gains of the liberation struggle. The military generals not only
openly sided with Zanu-PF but their involvement in politics and the national
economy became increasingly intrusive. By 2006 Chiwenga could go as far as
to instruct the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono to "make sure
agriculture is revived and make food available so we [the military] will not
be forced to turn our guns on hungry Zimbabweans".
In 2006, I interviewed high-ranking members of the military in Zimbabwe,
including Chiwenga. I can authoritatively state that sections of the
Zimbabwean military with liberation war experience, which are dominated by
generals such as Zvinavashe, Chiwenga and Perence Shiri, have never been
professional. They have always had a stake in national politics. They see
themselves as "guardians" of the legacy of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle
and of the country's sovereignty. They believe the country's independence
and sovereignty are only safe in Zanu-PF's hands. Zanu-PF was not threatened
until the MDC came along in 2000, and this is why these military generals
did not overtly delve into politics earlier.
When Zanu-PF was finally threatened, they stepped in to guarantee its
survival. Following Mugabe's loss to Tsvangirai in the March 2008
presidential election, the military generals stepped in once again. They
disallowed Mugabe from conceding defeat, aided the month-long delay in
releasing the final count while results were doctored to engineer a runoff
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, and launched the ongoing violent campaign to
break Tsvangirai's support in the countryside. Serving military generals
from the liberation war era will have a strong say in Zimbabwe's future
In reality, the burning passion for and commitment to sovereignty exuded by
Zvinavashe, Chiwenga and Shiri is a means of maintaining a good life for
themselves and the Zanu-PF political elite. They play up sovereignty in
order to protect their hold on power and the material benefits that come
with it. Thus, the necessity of ensuring that the next president of Zimbabwe
is a Zanu-PF man - Mugabe.
But maintaining Mugabe as the incumbent is a short-term measure. The
generals, Mugabe and Zanu-PF were rocked by the March election defeat. It
has finally dawned on them that they cannot postpone the matter of
succession for ever. Currently, Emmerson D Mnangagwa is the strongest
contender to succeed Mugabe and seems to enjoy the generals' approval. The
calculation of the generals, Mnangagwa and his supporters in Zanu-PF, is to
see Mugabe through the June runoff, with a view to a successor to Mugabe
being anointed not too long into Mugabe's term - after which a convenient
government of national unity will be formed with sections of the opposition
in order to garner the international community's approval of the new Zanu-PF
Zanu-PF lost control of the house of assembly to Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change by 99 to 97 seats in March but, according to the
constitution of Zimbabwe, the person elected as president has the power to
appoint 33 senators in the upper chamber. The house of assembly and senate
function as an electoral college in the event that the president dies in
office, resigns or is mentally incapacitated. The political party that
enjoys the majority in this electoral college decides the next president,
should the office fall vacant. A win for Mugabe in the June runoff will
guarantee his Zanu-PF party an extra 33 seats in the electoral college and
thus the decisive majority to decide the next president if Mugabe steps
down. This allows Zanu-PF to settle its intra-party succession question via
a national constitutional process. As the balance of power stands, Mnangagwa
seems to be the man to succeed Mugabe through this process when the
"appropriate" time comes.
Jun 19 08, 01:48pm (about 7 hours ago)
If the Zanu PF want more of the same after Mugabe, they could go to South
Africa and choose one of the former AWB activists. Or what about the
Taliban, they have lots of guys who love mass slaughter? Maybe a Chinese
secret policeman from Tibet? Or even a spare part from the Generals office
in Burma? Or maybe a Janjiweed mass rapist and murdering Arab horseman?
There is always Qadata, if the UK release him from house arrest. Listen pal,
there are so many psycopathic murdering nazis to choose from, surely it
can't too difficult?
Jun 19 08, 02:11pm (about 7 hours ago)
Good article, but moderne has gone from one extreme to another. That is
not fair. Comparing Mugabe ad co to Taliban and other nuts is a big lie. He
is an old man who must learn to accept defeat. That should be our message.
Jun 19 08, 02:18pm (about 7 hours ago)
Kind of sad isn't it. Was this what the liberation struggle was all about,
keeping a small bunch of corrupt and despotic murdering bastards in clover
whilst their country goes to hell, just because their skins happen to be
Jun 19 08, 02:31pm (about 7 hours ago)
"Kind of sad isn't it. Was this what the liberation struggle was all
about, keeping a small bunch of corrupt and despotic murdering bastards in
It's always the same story the world over, isn't it?
Jun 19 08, 03:03pm (about 6 hours ago)
The current economic, social and political situation in Zimbabwe suggests
that after Mugabe is gone the next leader is likely to be a UN-World
Bank-IMF supported administrator with the task of disarming the militias,
bringing the war criminals to justice in the Hague and overseeing the
international military occupation force sent into the country to bring some
semblance of order out of the civil war chaos.
Jun 19 08, 03:20pm (about 6 hours ago)
It's a very interesting article. I totally appreciate the military being
so candid. They have effectively identified themselves as principles in this
massacre of civilians.
I hope they appreciate that whichever way this goes there cannot be very
much time left. As they along with the rest of the police and other butchers
must surely face trial and life imprisonment. Unless of course we can
arrange a country that carries the death penalty.
Effectively they now call the murder and kidnapping of an entire country
"a liberation struggle". Liberation means freedom ie everything that the
people of Zimbabwe aren't.
They are so unpopular that they have to murder their citizens who hate
them so much that even with all their rigging and intimidation they still
Those are the people inside.
Outside are 4 million exiles who hate them so much they travel accross
parks of wild animals to get to other countries.
Mugabe and his Zanu-PF are hated by the entire planet and the people of
They are thugs - they use words like "liberation struggle" where "cancer
on the face of the planet" is more appropriate.
Let us all pray that there is an afterlife guys. Because here on Earth or
there, as soon as the guns to their people's heads are removed, they're
going straight to hell.
Enjoy the ride!!!
Jun 19 08, 03:56pm (about 5 hours ago)
As an African living in the west Mugabe really puts us all in shame. He is
a dictator who terrorises his people with all the state machinary he has at
his disposal. In other words he is little Hitler. However the obsession
about Mugabe in the media also upsets me. Idon't belive in conspiracy theory
but I cannot stop feeling that if there were not white people living in
Zimbabwe and affected by the violence, you would not hear as much about it.
Take for an example - Ethiopia: It is ruled by the same minded dictator
(Melese) who masacarred 200+ people and imprisoned thousands because he lost
the 2005 election. Just like Mugabe, he imprisoned opposition leaders and
charged them with treason, sentenced them to death and then out of the blue
pardoned them - after languising them in jail for over 3 years. So Guardian
and other newpapers, what is the difference between what Mugabe did and
Jun 19 08, 04:02pm (about 5 hours ago)
Richard101: you say: as soon as the guns to their people's heads are
removed, they're going straight to hell.
Why do you have to bring hell into it. It is just like Muslims calling for
jihad and 70 virgins. There is hell right here for those suffering under
poverty, slavery and corrupt governments.
Jun 19 08, 04:14pm (about 5 hours ago)
I cannot stop feeling that if there were not white people living in
Zimbabwe and affected by the violence, you would not hear as much about it.
Except that what we hear and see now, and have done for the past year or
more, is the violence against black Zimbabeans. The whites have surely all
gone by now, haven't they? The land seizures were some years ago.
Jun 19 08, 04:20pm (about 5 hours ago)
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do
Please add your good voices to the following letter:
Although Mugabe and his murderous cronies pay no attention to civilised
the more voices that cry "Zvakwana!" may influence the South African
in particular, to take a firmer stance on Zimbabwe. South Africa, as the
has the greatest potential to influence the instigators of the current
(Yes, President Mbeki, it is a crisis).
Jun 19 08, 05:07pm (about 4 hours ago)
MUGABE NOT SADISTIC ENOUGH BY UN STANDARDS
So, despotic rule gets a little help from constitutional provision. It's
the economy. The argument in favour of external intervention in Zimbabwe
should be based on promoting democracy. Economic interdependency means your
neighbour's wealth could make you rich. Likewise, your neighbour's financial
troubles could translate into financial loss for your household. Democracy
is good for the economy. (As well as for social fairness and human rights.)
Jun 19 08, 05:58pm (about 3 hours ago)
AddisLig and WillDuff,
The reason why there is such a non-stop barrage of pro-Euro news about
Zimbabwe is that the West is outraged to the point of apoplexy that Mugabe
unlike most post-"independence" African leaders has show that he is a man of
testicular fortitude in that he seized back the lands stolen from the
indigenous people of Zimbabwe despite all the bribery attempts with honorary
doctorates and even a knoghthood.
Enraged and flustered the West then decided to strangle Zimbabwe
economically by imposing a set of sanctions topped off by a punishing credit
squeeze--all leading to the galloping inflation that Zimbwe is now
The goal is to create such economic havoc that the ordinary people of
urban Zimbabwe would just either start rioting establishing conditions for a
coup--or third best scenario, vote out Mugabe by fronting a generic
neocolonial agent like Tsvangirai. If Tsvangirai wins the settlers would
just start flooding back in with all kinds of bogus law suits about the
farms they claimed to own. Morgan would just grin and allow them. After all,
he owes them a lot--for all the support he's being getting.
The West--especially the Anglosphere of Britain and the settler states of
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.--is also concerned that if
Mugabe succeeds in holding on to the restored land there may be some bold
souls willing to do the same in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and other
places where the settlers stole lands.
The truth is that the liberation struggle is not over yet. It's like a
bout of malaria; when you think you have beaten it just comes back with a
vengeance. The Euros have not given up yet on their quest to get those lands
back and punish Mugabe.
Those Zimbabweans who want to vote for the MDC are just following the Euro
script as was planned: if neither rioting nor a coup is possible then starve
them out enough so that they would want a change of government--so that they
could go back to their bacon and marmalade and a currency revalued after the
credit spigot had been turned back on. And some Euro hard currency pumped
into the economy.
Jun 19 08, 06:29pm (about 3 hours ago)
Also in the news:
MAN OF TESTICULAR FORTITUDE GETS NOUGHTHOOD
Jun 19 08, 06:36pm (about 2 hours ago)
Why not try peddling your nonsense to Abigail Chitoro?
Or Archford Chipiyo? Or Ngoni Light? Or Yona Genti?