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War crimes warning to Robert Mugabe as terror grows

The Times
June 20, 2008

James Bone, Francis Elliott and Jonathan Clayton
With just a week to go before Zimbabwe's run-off elections - and with the
body count growing - Robert Mugabe has been warned that he could be hauled
before the International Criminal Court in The Hague over the atrocities
inflicted on his opponents.

A key Western diplomat, speaking yesterday on condition of anonymity, said:
"He needs to know he is moments away from an ICC indictment."

Twelve bodies of activists, most of them showing signs of torture, were
found across Zimbabwe yesterday.

In New York, Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, convened a crisis
meeting at the United Nations. She said: "By its actions, the Mugabe regime
has given up any pretence that the June 27 elections will be allowed to
proceed in a free and fair manner. We have reached the point where stronger
international action is needed."

Also yesterday, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition party
Movement for Democratic Change, was denied a passport, and his deputy,
Tendai Biti, was charged with subversion and election rigging - offences
that carry the death penalty.
African leaders began to desert President Mugabe. A day after President
Mbeki of South Africa failed to make any headway in face-to-face talks with
President Mugabe, neighbouring states delivered their strongest condemnation

Bernard Membe, the Tanzanian Foreign Minister, said: "There is every sign
that these elections will never be free nor fair." He said that he and the
foreign ministers of Swaziland and Angola - the peace and security troika
from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - would write to
their presidents to "do something urgently" to save Zimbabwe.

A senior SADC diplomatic source said: "The last allies he has in the world -
SADC - are now saying they have had enough and this disgrace cannot go on.
His obduracy has united them against him. They are trying to make him
realise that a poll victory is no victory."

South Africa, which has advocated "quiet diplomacy", snubbed Dr Rice's
efforts. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Foreign Minister, skipped the UN
meeting on Zimbabwe but attended a separate meeting with Dr Rice on sexual
violence. They met briefly. Dr Rice said that she and Ms Zuma wanted the
same thing for Zimbabwe.

Any attempt to bring Mr Mugabe before the court in The Hague faces
formidable obstacles. The ICC has charged 11 Africans - two from Sudan, four
from Uganda, one from the Central African Republic and four from the
Democratic Republic of the Congo - but it does not have jurisdiction over
Zimbabwe. It would have to be referred to the court by the 15-nation UN
Security Council.

The Security Council is so split that the US, holding the presidency this
month, is having trouble even holding a briefing on the violence. US
diplomats may have to force a procedural vote to get Zimbabwe on to the
agenda because of resistance from council members such as South Africa,
Russia, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Libya.

The US does not itself recognise the ICC, although it allowed the council to
refer the Darfur crisis to the court. An official told The Times that the
Bush Administration would be reluctant to accept another "carve-out" to the
ICC by referring Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean authorities are outraged by any suggestion that Mr Mugabe
might face an international court. Florence Ziyambi, the prosecutor, cited
the threat of international prosecution as one of the grounds for charging
Mr Biti. "They are alleging that the President is a criminal since they want
to take him to The Hague," she told the court.

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Kadoma MDC Youths in Dramatic Rescue of Tortured Colleague

SW Radio Africa (London)

19 June 2008
Posted to the web 19 June 2008

Kadoma faces violent retribution Thursday evening after MDC youths
successfully launched a daring rescue of their colleague who was being
tortured in the local Zanu PF office.

Early on Thursday morning five Zanu PF militants abducted David Samapenda,
the chief election agent of the winning MDC MP, and locked him inside their
torture base come office, located just 50 meters away from a police station.
MDC youths, commuter bus conductors and others who witnessed Samapenda being
dragged into the building immediately mobilized themselves and marched on
the building to rescue him. The youths managed to get him out of the office
but not before windows and other property was destroyed in the skirmishes.
Samapenda, who had passed out from the beatings and torture, was rushed to
hospital immediately.

The MDC MP for Kadoma Central, Editor Matamisa, told Newsreel the town was
on the verge of absolute chaos after Zanu PF commandeered two 'UD' trucks
and used them to pick up mobs from the nearby Patchway Mine. Matamisa,
speaking from Kadoma Central Police station where she had gone to file a
report, said a night of violence awaited residents Thursday. Earlier on
Wednesday an elderly MDC supporter, William Tembo, was abducted by Zanu PF
youths who saw him travelling to an MDC rally wearing a party t-shirt. He
was taken to an area called Gweshe in Mhondoro, beaten up and left for dead.
He has since made his way back to Kadoma and was admitted to hospital.

On Monday residents in the gold mining town locked themselves in their homes
as marauding gangs of Zanu PF youths forced everyone to attend Mugabe's
rally in the town. Newsreel spoke to frightened residents who said the
youths wielded sticks and sjamboks and beat up anyone on the street who was
not going to Mugabe's rally. Others already on the streets and far from
their homes fled to surrounding farms. Hammering home the irony of the
situation was the fact that Mugabe used the same rally to threaten the

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'Mugabe using violence to hijack vote'

Zim Online

by Cuthbert Nzou Friday 20 June 2008

HARARE - A leading international human rights group on Thursday accused
President Robert Mugabe of trying to "hijack" Zimbabwe's presidential
run-off election next week through a relentless campaign of violence and
arrests against opposition and civic society leaders.

The Human Rights Watch said in statement that because of the state's
crackdown against the opposition the June 27 vote could not be free and
fair, echoing the views of a key group of southern African foreign ministers
who earlier on Thursday said political violence had jeopardised the
credibility of the run-off election.

"First the government went after opposition members, now they're arresting
the leaders," said Georgette Gagnon, the New York-based Human Rights Watch's
Africa director. "This is another obvious attempt by Mugabe to hijack the
election. Where will this escalation of illegality stop?" she said.

Mugabe enters the run-off poll as underdog after losing the March 29 first
round vote to opposition MDC party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and only
managing to hold onto his job because Tsvangirai failed to secure the margin
required to takeover power.

Political violence and gross human rights abuses have characterised
campaigning for the run-off poll, while police have arrested several MDC
leaders including Tsvangirai and party secretary general Tendai Biti in what
the opposition has said was an attempt by the government to derail its drive
to end Mugabe's decades-long rule.

Tsvangirai has been arrested on no less than five occasions over the past
two weeks but is free after the police did not press charges.

Biti remains in police custody facing charges of treason and the death
penalty if convicted.

"The treason accusations against Tendai Biti are yet another clumsy attempt
by the government to stop MDC leaders from campaigning," said Gagnon.

Human Rights Watch urged observers from the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) who have been allowed into
Zimbabwe to "actively monitor and publicly report" on countrywide rights
abuses ZANU PF to ensure full accountability for those responsible.

Mugabe blocked observers from the United States and European Union countries
that he accuse of seeking to oust his government.

The Human Rights Watch said the African observers should assess whether the
run-off poll was conducted in accordance to a SADC protocol on the holding
of free and fair elections.

But the foreign ministers of Tanzania, Angola and Swaziland said they did
not believe the run-off poll could be free and fair given the levels of

"There is every sign that these elections will never be free nor fair,"
Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe told a news conference, in the
region's strongest criticism yet of Mugabe's handling of elections.

Tanzania is current Africa Union chair and together with Swaziland and
Angola forms SADC's peace and security troika.

The MDC says political violence has killed at least 70 of its members and
displaced more than 25 000 others and who were in desperate need of
humanitarian assistance at a time the government banned aid agencies from
carrying out humanitarian work.

Mugabe - who rejects charges of political violence against his government -
three weeks ago suspended all work by relief agencies he accused of using
aid distribution to campaign for Tsvangirai ahead of the run-off election -
a charge aid groups deny. - ZimOnline

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State attempts to blame Biti for political violence

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro Friday 20 June 2008

HARARE - Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe will on Friday decide whether to place
opposition secretary general Tendai Biti on remand as demanded by the state,
which on Thursday tried to blame Biti for the political violence engulfing

State counsel Florence Ziyambi told Guvamombe that Biti was the author of a
document titled "Transitional Mechanisms" which outlines plans to seize
power unconstitutionally and should therefore be remanded in jail until he
appears in court to answer to charges of treason

Ziyambi claimed that the political violence that has engulfed Zimbabwe and
killed at least 70 members of Biti's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party could be directly linked to the mysterious document
although the state lawyer admitted she had not seen an original copy of the

"The violence currently engulfing the nation is linked to the document that
the accused (Biti) authored and signed. The anomalies which characterised
the elections were also influenced by the document," said Ziyambi.

However the defence urged Guvamombe to free Biti, saying that the opposition
leader had disowned the document that the state was basing its case on soon
after it was published by the state-owned Herald newspaper.

In addition, no one including the state had seen an original of the document
in question and Biti was not linked to the document in any way except that
his name was typed on it, the defence said.

Advocate Happious Zhou for the defence said: "The state does not have an
original of the document on which the state is basing its case and the only
association between accused (Biti) and the document is that his name was
typed on it.

"The document has no source and therefore cannot be attributed to him. It
would be a disaster for anybody to be placed on remand on the basis of their
name having been typed on the document."

The defence team also formally raised with the magistrate complaints about
the way the police arrested Biti which the team said was akin to abduction.

The MDC politician was arrested before he set foot on the tarmac at Harare
International airport as he arrived from South Africa. He was handcuffed and
bundled into a waiting Mercedes Benz and driven away.

His lawyers said the way the arrest was executed was calculated to deny Biti
access to lawyers and "to make him feel all alone in the world and to cause
trauma, shock, and horror".

Biti was also deprived of sleep, rest or food during the first 48 hours of
his arrest during which he was subjected to continuous interrogation, the
lawyers said.

Guvamombe is expected to make his ruling at around 1115 hrs today. -

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Diplomats urge action, but no sanctions against Zimbabwe

Monsters and Critics

By JT Nguyen Jun 19, 2008, 18:21 GMT

New York - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other diplomats called
Thursday for international action to stop the political, social and economic
deterioration in Zimbabwe as it prepares for run-off elections.

But they said sanctions are not the proper measure to apply at the moment,
when the focus should be on improving humanitarian conditions for millions
of Zimbabweans.

'Clearly we have reached the point where broader, stronger international
efforts are needed,' Rice told a round table meeting at UN headquarters
attended by dozens of government representatives, many of them Africans.

Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Djibril Yipene Bassole attended as his country
is a UN Security Council member.

The meeting was aimed at helping the 15-nation council formulate a response
to the crisis in the build-up to the June 27 vote in Zimbabwe. The council
plans to hold a formal meeting next week to discuss the situation in

Rice told reporters following the meeting that diplomats heard concerns
about intimidation and violence in Zimbabwe in the run-up to the election,
and about attacks on opponents to President Robert Mugabe.

'We heard concerns that current conditions are such that free and fair
elections cannot possibly be held, we expressed utmost support for the
African Union and SADC to alleviate the crisis there and support for the
mission of the UN special envoy Haile Menkarios to bring about an end to the
crisis,' she said.

Menkarios is currently visiting Zimbabwe to assess the situation there and
report back to the UN in New York.

Rice and Bassole said the round table wanted to send a 'strong message' of
international concern about the situation in Zimbabwe. But they said the UN
Security Council is the body to decide action on solving the crisis in that

'We are not there yet on sanctions,' Bassole told reporters when asked
whether the group discussed sanctions.

Rice 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, which groups
southern African states under the leadership of President Thabo Mbeki, to
urge 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.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday strongly criticized he political
atmosphere and said that repeated acts of intimidation and arrests of
opposition leaders will make Zimbabwe's runoff presidential elections less

Ban said also that the post-election crisis is compounded by the
deterioration of the political, social and economic situation in the
country, which is threatening 4 million vulnerable people who need
assistance for their daily survival.

He said Mugabe's two-week-old suspension of relief activities by foreign
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has hurt 2 million people who had been
receiving food aid. They included 500,000 children who have not received
health care, HIV/AIDS and education support since the suspension earlier in

'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

On the economic situation, Ban noted Zimbabwe's rapid economic decline, with
inflation shooting up 355,000 per cent, provoking a collapse in social
services and food insecurity since the dispute over election results erupted
in April.

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State repression continues unabated in Zimbabwe


An MDC activist was recently murdered in cold blood in Chipinge central's
ward 8 on Friday the 13th of June. Kenias Artwell Zekerwa, 36years old, was
abducted by Zanu PF militia on Friday morning at his home and taken to a
Zanu PF base about 9km from Chipinge town where he was severely tortured
before he was subsequently murdered. His body was later found dumped a few
meters from the base and had a lot of machete and knife wounds. It is
suspected that Councilor Sigauke (Zanu PF) who represents Chipinge's ward 8
was the alleged mastermind of this gruesome killing. Sigauke is believed to
have been working with David Mwakinda, Cde Mujokora, a war veteran, and two
others only identified as Chikomba and Garwi. Zekerwa was buried in Chipinge
on Tuesday the 17th of June. Armed policemen were at the funeral where they
ordered Zekerwa's friends and relatives not to give graveside eulogies. He
was eventually buried in a silent manner that is not reminiscent of funerals
in our culture.


Gun-totting soldiers attacked and severely assaulted 3 MDC women and 5
youths who were putting up campaign material for their party in Hillside
over the weekend. The eight were putting up posters for Morgan Tsvangirai,
the MDC presidential candidate in the run-off election. The member-in charge
at Hillside police station who happened to be in the vicinity of the
incident is alleged to have fled the scene, telling on-lookers that he did
not have the power to stop the soldiers from continuing their violent act.
He then went on to order police details at Hillside police station not to
investigate the matter.

In another incident, a police constable based at Mzilikazi police station in
Bulawayo is missing after he disappeared at Tredgold Courts where he was set
to appear before a magistrate facing charges of breaching the police code on
Monday (16 June). The charges arose after Constable Paradzai Chinogwirei had
refused to vote by postal ballot at the police station where he is based.
This incident happened on Friday (13 June) after Chinogwirei had just
arrived from his rural home from burying two family members who had been
murdered in cold blood by Zanu PF militia in the on-going violent
retribution. Chinogwirei was incensed at being coerced to vote openly
through the postal ballot system in front of his superiors. Soon after
refusing to vote, Chinogwirei was arrested and taken to Rose camp where he
was severely tortured by war veterans and youth militia. He was then
detained at Fairbridge police camp where a police hearing was hastily
arranged on Saturday with Chinogwirei being charged with breaching the
police code. He was only brought to the Tredgold Magistrate's court on
Monday but disappeared soon after his arrival at court. His whereabouts
remain unknown to this day.

Zanu PF has of late gone on a violent rampage, intensifying violent attacks
targeted at anyone perceived to be aiding the cause of the MDC. Robert
Mugabe, the losing Zanu PF presidential candidate in the March 29 election
has vowed that he will not allow the MDC to govern this country even if they
were to win the run-off election saying they would rather go back to the
bush to fight the MDC.

The Youth Forum views such reckless talk as nothing more than an
intimidating tactic meant to coerce the electorate to vote for Zanu PF. Zanu
PF has dismally failed to govern the country, particularly the economy,
which is the reason why the people of Zimbabwe overwhelmingly voted against
them in the March 29 harmonized elections. It would be foolhardy for Zanu PF
to think that the violent retribution will make the electorate vote for
them. The people of Zimbabwe spoke on March 29, much in the same way that
they will speak on June 27. The Youth Forum therefore urges all and sundry
to remain committed to the struggle for a truly democratic and free
Zimbabwe. The ballot is the silent trigger that will dismantle the Zanu PF
dictatorship. That they can promise war on the people of Zimbabwe smacks of
a cornered and desperate regime that has clearly lost the mandate and
direction to lead the people. The election will definitely not be free and
fair but the will of the people of Zimbabwe will prevail at the end of it


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Foreboding rises over Zimbabwe

Thursday, 19 June 2008 15:31 UK

By David Bamford
BBC Africa analyst

Thabo Mbeki, Cape Town, 6 June 2008
Thabo Mbeki's strategy has been neutrality and gentle persuasion

Just over a week before the presidential run-off election in Zimbabwe, the regional mediator, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, has held separate talks with President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

There has been no word on the outcome of Mr Mbeki's meetings with the two political opponents.

Earlier, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, added his voice to the growing international concern over the political violence in Zimbabwe.

African governments are looking to next week's run-off presidential election in Zimbabwe with a growing sense of foreboding.

Few critics

Violence remains high, intimidation is rampant, and there is an assumption that if and when this election takes place, the troubles could only just be starting.

A few - but only a few - African leaders have spoken out publicly against President Mugabe and his political allies.

What you need in Zimbabwe is an international peacekeeping force so that eventually proper elections can be held

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga

The leader of South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) party, Jacob Zuma, said he did not expect the election to be free and fair.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who has been in Washington, has gone the furthest so far.

"My view is that the time has come for the international community to act on Zimbabwe in the way that it did in Bosnia," he said.

"I do not think that we are going to get free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

"And, what you need in Zimbabwe is an international peacekeeping force so that eventually proper elections can be held."

'Strong message'

There has been no shortage of Western voices, not only criticising the violence, but saying who they believe is behind it.

Mr Mbeki has remained loyal to his original strategy of neutrality and gentle persuasion.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is among those hoping that - however it looks on the outside - he is being far more forthright in his consultations with Mr Mugabe.

Victims of an attack by suspected Zanu-PF supporters in May
Western leaders have condemned the electoral violence in Zimbabwe

"I think that it is time for the leaders of Africa to say to President Mugabe that the people of Zimbabwe deserve a free and fair election, that you cannot intimidate opponents, you cannot put opponents in jail, you cannot threaten them with charges of treason, and be respected in the international community," she said.

"And I think that is a strong message, and I hope it will be delivered."

Behind the scenes, many are already dismissing the election as irrelevant.

Some are talking of a possible Kenya-style solution, with a form of unity government.

But there are forces in Zimbabwe - on both sides of the political divide - who would oppose this tooth and nail.

If no deal can be reached, then the country and the region seem destined for an even greater humanitarian disaster.

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Zimbabwe: Who is watching?


Date: 19 Jun 2008

Frightening reports are coming from Zimbabwe as the date for the country's
run-off presidential election betwen President Robert Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai draws near.

The headlines alone are enough to send a chill down your spine; 'Mobs target
opposition families', 'Do or die campaign', 'Zimbabwe is under siege', 'War
of terror', 'They looted my body like I was dead', 'Militia reach town', 'No
hope in Zimbabwe'. This while a special UN envoy is visiting Zimbabwe to
assess pre-election conditions and while hundreds of Southern African
Development Community (SADC) observers and observers from other African
countries are being deployed across the country.

Their presence is not enough to deter those responsible for tilting the
electoral playing field and meting out brutal violence ahead of the June 27
run off. Scores of people have been killed and the numbers feared displaced
now number in the tens of thousands.

Few Electoral Observers

The Government has only accredited 500 local observers this time around and
very late in the day. By contrast, thousands were accredited for the March
polls where, by their very presence, they deterred violence and boosted the
morale of a despondent and fearful electorate. They were present inside each
of the country's 9,000 polling stations - an impossible feat for foreign
observers who only number in the hundreds.

The presence of a greater number of foreign observers this time round (500
compared to 120 in March) is welcome but the fact remains that they are
visitors and will only see things with the limited vision of a visitor's
eyes. Will they see, and accurately document, the fact that thousands will
stay away from the polls due to displacement or because of the ongoing
intimidation and violence or because their identity cards have been burned
along with their homes and all their belongings?

Will they follow the TV and document the total absence of opposition
campaign messages, the new and official policy of the Zimbabwean State

Will they feel the hunger for justice that was so palpable in the first
round of elections? Will they hear the stomachs of more than 4 million
people that continue to ache and that are being denied food and essential
medicines? Since June 4 most NGO's have been banned from operating and those
who haven't are too afraid to do so.

The death of Abigail Chiroto

One only needs to look at the way that people are being beaten and killed to
understand the levels of fear that have been sweeping across Zimbabwe. Only
yesterday (Wednesday June 18) the body of Abigail Chiroto, wife of a leading
MDC councillor for Harare City Council, Emmanuel Chiroto was found on a farm
on the outskirts of Harare. Armed militia abducted her from her home on
Monday evening along with her four-year-old son after setting the house
alight with petrol bombs.

The little boy was dropped off at a local police station but his mother was
brutally slain and her body dumped in a wood. Mr. Chiroto was elected a city
councillor on March 29th but since the elections Local Government Minister
Ignatius Chombo has blocked the councillors from formally taking office and
from entering Harare's City Hall. On Sunday night, in a symbolic gesture of
defiance, MDC councillors nominally appointed Mr Chiroto the new Mayor of

We all have a responsibility to act as observers in this election period and
to bear witness to what is happening. The time has come to declare enough is
enough and for those with power, locally, nationally and internationally, to
take firm action to stop this flagrant and brutal display of man's
inhumanity to man.

To contact Trócaire's press team:

Republic of Ireland
Meabh Smith
Press Officer,
T: +353 1 505 3238
M: 086 277 6064

Northern Ireland & UK
David O'Hare ,
Press Officer,
T: 028 90 80 80 30
M: +44 7900053884

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Atrocities mount in Zimbabwe

The Times
June 20, 2008

The world should warn Mugabe that it is collecting evidence of his crimes
and considering intervention
The news from Zimbabwe grows more sickening by the day. The campaign of
terror by President Mugabe's thugs to intimidate his opponents has led to
the beating, torture and murder of whole families (see opposite page).

Yesterday four more MDC youth activists were found dead near Harare,
abducted on Tuesday, killed and then dumped. Neither office nor popularity
afford protection: the wife of the mayor-elect of Harare was seized and
found dead later in a hospital. Others have been mutilated, set on fire with
petrol or burnt alive in their homes. Reports from across the country tell
of police, soldiers and militia gangs of so-called "veterans" being
mobilised to silence MDC supporters, force villagers to attend pro-Mugabe
rallies and imprison opposition activists in makeshift torture centres set
up in country clubs.

The level of violence is fast approaching that of lawless warlordism, the
kind of random terror used by rebels in Sierra Leone or sadistic death
squads in Rwanda. Zimbabwe has done its best to hide these crimes from the
world, banning journalists and election observers or, with cynical
hypocrisy, blaming opposition activists for causing bloodshed and attempting
to destabilise the country. Even to the country's neighbours, most of whom
have deliberately turned a blind eye to the horrors of Mr Mugabe's paranoia,
his brutalities are ever more evident. Several admit now that a fair
election is impossible. Botswana sent a protest to Harare last week, and
regional observers can see for themselves the "cleansing" of opponents now
under way.

President Mbeki of South Africa, whose official role as a mediator is made
meaningless by his partisan support of Mr Mugabe, flew north on Wednesday to
urge both sides to cancel the election and form a government of national
unity. His proposal was as feeble as his efforts to end the violence: not
only would this entrench a tyrant and his cronies in illegal office, but it
would also give a free hand to the shadowy military figures surrounding him
who are determined to silence all those ready to speak out about the
campaign of organised terror.

It is time the world let Mr Mugabe know that it is collecting evidence of
what is happening for use in war crimes trials. The junta ordering the
atrocities should know that at some time in the very near future it will be
held to account. The world was unwilling to intervene while the killings
were going on in Rwanda, Liberia or Sierra Leone, but it surely will not be
so tardy in its response again. Mr Mugabe's henchmen are as guilty of crimes
against humanity as those who carried out the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and
Kosovo and are still doing so in Darfur. The Army and police in Zimbabwe,
many of whom are revolted by the orders they are given, are reluctant to
disobey. But if they know that international retribution awaits those
responsible for torture and murder, they may be emboldened to refuse this
attempt to terrorise their countrymen.

News of the mounting atrocities is leaking out to the wider world, despite
the restrictions on reporting. The evidence of ethnic cleansing and murder
is compelling: starvation is now being used as a weapon, with food withheld
from swaths of the country seen as disloyal or likely to vote for the
opposition. This alone should be enough to prompt the United Nations to ask
whether Mr Mugabe is not now committing crimes against humanity as plainly
as other dictators against whom the world has taken action eventually. No
country has fallen as swiftly or as far from tolerable prosperity to brutal
inhumanity. If Zimbabwe's neighbours are too pusillanimous to act, the world
must consider doing so before this disgraceful election causes the killing
and torture of more innocent people.

What a pity the logistics mean that no one that would intervene can, while
those that could won't.

Sure Mugabe should be tried and probably hanged but it will not happen

Tony Cook, Colchester, England

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The Devil Has Come

Of the inner circle many have historically referenced biblical names;
Augustine, Constantine, Joseph and Gabriel.  And like so many men through
the ages they have lost their way.  Today they stand on the precipice,
raging against their fortunes and time.  Their feet claw at the edge of the
cliff as they try mightily to avoid the abyss.

They sit huddled together in quiet communion, each day marked by another
compromise of their humanity.  They are lost souls sitting like satyrs at
the feet of Beelzebub, each of them no longer thinking of what they could
have done, but reacting like animals cornered.  There is pure savagery in
those reactions for their remaining time is so very short.

Constantine Chiwengwa and his wife Jocelyn are a perfect pair.  He waddles
about in costumes so entirely inane they would remind one of a caricature.
Bedecked in unearned but bestowed medals and ribbonry, he's a perfect
buffoon of a man with such pretense its hard not to laugh.  His main sins
are ambition and greed, but these are not the least of his weaknesses.
Exceedingly poor taste in women would be his most egregious error.  His wife
Jocelyn, an illiterate peasant girl, is a former prostitute.  The girlish
looks of yesteryear have long faded, replaced by a vapid desire and a
shreaking voice.  She is the perfect model of the aging first wife that the
tired old man cannot believe he is left with-an aging model decades past any
appeal.  She is famous for saying that its been thirty years since she
tasted white blood.  But he commands an army he is afraid to send into the
field, uncertain of their loyalties and terrified of their guns being turned
against the tired  regime.

Joseph Chinotimba is a psychopathic peasant who calls himself the leader of
the 'war veterans'.  Chinotimba (aka Chinos) never stood battle in the
independence wars or even took part in them, and the young 18 and 19 year
old 'war veterans' he purportedly leads were not even born at the time of
independence or the war.  Wreaking of stale whiskey and dressed in rags, he
is a man of reactionary violence who feels this short step up the ladder
from his inconsequential beginnings & failed domestic positions, is a badge
he must invoke at all times.  But ravaged by AIDS, illiterate and too angry
to be of any use to reasonable men, he has been chosen by the depraved to
lead the slaughter of the citizenry and to lead the illiterate aimless
street children against the rural people, their wives and children.  A
coward who once cowed at being slapped by a bus driver, his is the rage of
an inconsequential bullyboy; a man who strikes out at everything because his
whole life is one of succeeding at nothing.  But the support of true war
veterans was lost long ago, and the depth of loyalty among the dispatched
street thugs is shallow as an african river in September.

Perence Shiri, commander of the Zimbabwean Air Force, is Robert Gabriel's
first cousin.

He has referred to himself as 'The Black Jesus'.  It was he who commanded
the infamous

Fifth Brigade from 1983 to l984, which slaughtered some 26,000 Ndebele
during one of the saddest periods of Zimbabwean history.  In the late l990s
and early 21st century years, it was he who organized the farm invasions by
war veterans that destroyed the economy and the agrarian sector.

Augustine Chihruri is head of the national police and complicit in every
move the securocrats make.  His tenure has been marked by total fealty to
Robert Gabriel and a blind eye towards the rule of law or enforcement of
even the most basic needs of the citizenry.  Men, women and children are
butchered and his response is to say he is under orders not to respond.
The Zanu-PF "militias" that operate with impunity in the country side do so
because Chihruri will not stand against them.   Many of his  ill-paid and
un-trained police share sympathies with the opposition because they are
friends and family to the beaten and brutalized.

These are the most violent and desperate of Mugabe's rapidly deteriorating
circle, but they are but cogs in the Hades' wheel that is Robert Gabriel
Mugabe.  Educated by Catholic Jesuits and having attended university, Robert
Gabriel did no actual fighting in the time of the war for independence.  He
was a backbencher and avowed Marxist., monitoring the accounting and
finances of the rebels.  The real war was fought by men such as Zapu's
Joshua Nkomo, the man he cleverly lured into a "unity" government and then

Much has been made of Mugabe's early years in leadership and the healthy
(for Africa) beneficial things accomplished.  His principle achievement was
the development of an education system now in tatters.  But Robert Gabriel
lost his soul long ago and fell under the spell of his own visage.
Zimbabweans tell of a long ago premonition that tells of his downfall and
violent end.  Mugabe, a superstitious man,  was terrified of this story
which came again across the countryside just before the March elections.
Unable to sleep for days, he sent his wife and family abroad.

Robert Gabriel was hopelessly lost in the international arena.  He survived
for a long time on the favor of Fidel's Cuba, communist Russia and North
Korea, but he has no understanding of markets, international agreements  or
how the rest of the world operates.  And all of those communist supporters
eventually vanished.  He parades around in 4,000 usd custom suits and enjoys
driving in motorcades in his armoured 700,000 usd vehicle with full military
adoption, but he is an isolated and bereft soul without friends.  At 84 his
eye sight is failing and he has prostate cancer, a condition no longer
treatable in his own country because the medical sector is without even the
most basic applications, let alone the professionals who could treat him,
all of whom have all left the country.

From the center of the web he has spun, he screams decades old sophistry
about the British and the whites.  Never mind that only 28,000 whites remain
in a population of eleven million (three million of all hues have fled the
country).  The demons he sees from yesteryear are not real, but the ones he
has created in his own mind are very much looming on the horizon, perhaps
more so in the dark and vacuous rooms of his personal mansion.  He is a
lonely and angry man.  His second wife, Grace, is forty years his junior and
while now in her mid-forties, her dalliances with multiple lovers and
consorts are well known and certainly an embarrassment in his dotage.

Having destroyed the economy, the electric & water services, banking
institutions, the justice sector, the health sector, the roads, and the
agrarian sector, there is nothing left to tear down.  With inflation at a
guess-timated 1.6 million per cent per year, exports at zero, factories at
less than eight per cent of capacity, and unemployment at 85 per cent... the
collapse is so complete there is no return from Armeggedon without the aid
of foreign entities.  And that is not going to happen while he remains the
head of government, even if it is likely a titular position at this
juncture.  His country faced with starvation, he has banned all relief
agencies from supplying even basic food stocks, terming them agents of the
west and his political opponents.

This senile shell of a mad man has presided over the largest and most
complete destruction of a single country in the last millenium.  Other
countries in history have been over-run or conquered by war, but this total
destruction from within is without precedent.   Like Ceausescu at the end,
Mugabe's ending will be swift and without regret.   Most of all, it is the
death and persecution of its citizenry that Zimbabwe will never understand
or forget.

God and country is the rallying cry from ages past.  Robert Gabriel Mugabe
has turned his back on both.

A Zimbabwean

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African Leaders Start To Speak Out On Zimbabwe Pre-Election Violence


By Blessing Zulu & Carole Gombakomba
19 June 2008

African leaders are voicing strong doubts about the fairness of the
presidential run-off election coming up in Zimbabwe next week in a climate
of increasingly deadly political violence.

Speaking for the Southern African Development Community, Tanzanian Foreign
Minister Bernard Membe said Thursday that "there is every sign" the
second-round ballot will be neither free nor fair.

In South Africa, African National Congress President Jacob Zuma told a
public forum on Wednesday that he does not think the election will be fair.

Citing "the manner in which violence has increased, how there is
interference and detention of the opposition leaders" and statements by
President Robert Mugabe and other ruling ZANU-PF officials that they will
not accept defeat, "there won't be a free and fair election."

Membe said Tanzania has asked Harare to stop politically-related violence
which the opposition and other observers say has killed scores of people and
injured hundreds more. Membe was speaking to reporters on behalf of SADC's
peace and security committee.
Until recently, most African leaders have avoided publicly criticizing Mr.
Mugabe or the Harare government. But rising international protests against
the violence that human rights groups say has been engineered by the Mugabe
government seems to have had an effect even on African leaders who for the
most have tended to close ranks on human rights issues.

One of the most outspoken so far is Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who
leveled tough criticism at president Robert Mugabe for saying he won't step
down if he is defeated.

SADC deployed 221 monitors in various parts of the country and 80 more
arrived Thursday.

Observer mission director Tanki Mothae of SADC's organ on politics and
defense told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
conditions are deteriorating.

The head of the Pan-African Parliament's election observer mission, Marwick
Khumalo, said that with the violence and electoral irregularities, a
credible election cannot be held.

Meanwhile, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday
called for "broader and stronger" international action. Rice was speaking at
a U.N. headquarters meeting called in part to identify measures to deal with
the crisis ahead of the election.

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Zimbabwe's media environment severely constrained, African media groups charge

Afrique en ligne

Lusaka, Zambia - The media and freedom of expression environment in Zimba
bwe is severely constrained, African media organisations from a fact-finding
mission to Zimbabwe charged in a statement issued at the conclusion of their

The media organisations that went on a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe from
8-1 3 June, included the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ-Africa
office) , the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), members of the
Network of Africa n Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO), the
Southern Africa Editors' Forum (SAEF), and the Southern Africa Journalists
Association (SAJA).

They also noted that no proper and professional media work could take place
in Zimbabwe under the circumstances, to allow for free and fair elections.

"The mission takes note and congratulates brave Zimbabwean journalists and
indep endent newspapers who still express interest to continue with their
work despite all these daunting challenges," states a joint statement issued
by African media organisations.

In the light of the media and freedom of expression environment in Zimbabwe,
the mission recommended that the regional and international community should
monitor the situation of journalists and independent media and ensure
compliance with regional and international standards.

They also called for regional and international organisations to prepare to
assist Zimbabwean journalists and media outlets who might be forced into
either leaving the country or seeking medical or legal assistance.

The media organisations said pressure must be maintained on the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) by the regional and international
community to resolve the deepening political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe
that affects the ability of the media to perform their duties in adequately
informing the Zimbabwean people.

"The SADC and AU observer missions must prevail on the government of
Zimbabwe to allow greater observance and monitoring of the election process
by the international community and ensure the security and freedoms of
journalists and the media in Zimbabwe," part of the recommendations read.

The mission noted that the accreditation of foreign journalists and media
organisations was at the discretion of the Media and Information Commission
(MIC) and in this election the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), adding
that consequently, a number of local and foreign journalists had been denied
accreditation to cover the elections.

The mission met a number of Zimbabwean journalists, editors and media owners
working in urban and rural areas and a cross section of representatives of
local civic organisations working countrywide.

The mission expressed shock at the level of fear pervading the Zimbabwe
media and society at large.

Lusaka - 19/06/2008


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MDC MP arrested in Zimbabwe


June 19, 2008, 13:15

Zimbabwe police have arrested a newly elected opposition MP, and are hunting
six others. The state-run Herald newspaper says the Movement for Democratic
Change's (MDC) Shuwa Mudiwa, stands accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old
girl. Six others are wanted for alleged murder, public violence and

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been detained five times already. His
Secretary-General, Tendai Biti, is facing a treason charge which he will try
to quash in court today.

Meanwhile the death toll and food shortages are escalating. Four people were
kidnapped and found dead yesterday outside Chitungwiza. The locals say
Zanu-PF militia were behind it. United Nations (UN) food agencies expect 5
million people to go hungry by early next year, as maize production

President Thabo Mbeki was in Zimbabwe yesterday. He reportedly met both
sides, but no details are available. The UN's will discuss the situation
today, in both an open and closed session.

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"Getting People Participating Is a Process, Not an Event"


By Ephraim Nsingo

HARARE, Jun 19 (IPS) - Amidst the turmoil surrounding the Jun. 27
presidential run-off in Zimbabwe, it is doubtless something of a challenge
to muster enthusiasm for plans relating to the country's next general
elections. Gender activists intent on having more women voted into office in
2013 are undaunted, however.

"We now need to take a systematic approach and start preparing for the next
elections. We are confident from our experience in this election that more
women will come up," said Luta Shaba, executive director of the Women's
Trust, in reference to the ballot held Mar. 29. The trust is a
non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.

"A number have already written to us seeking assistance and guidance on how
they can be involved as observers and polling agents in the run-off
election. The big challenge now is to keep the momentum and maintain their
confidence," she told IPS.

The efforts of the trust form part of 'Women Can Still Do It!', a
continuation of the 'Women Can Do It!' campaign that was launched last year
to encourage more women to participate in the recent elections as
candidates, voters, polling agents and observers -- overcoming the view that
politics is essentially a male domain.

"We have already started working with women at grassroots levels and running
adverts on radio, television and (in) newspapers. Our campaign has somehow
slowed down because of what is happening now...After this (the run-off) we
will intensify our operations at all levels, especially at the grassroots,
empowering women to empower others," said Shaba.

According to the former director of the Women in Politics Support Unit
(WiPSU), Rutendo Hadebe, "This election has given us an opportunity to
revisit our strategies to see what worked and what did not work, and use
those (that worked) as a foundation for future efforts." WiPSU is an NGO
headquartered in Harare.

Noted Netsai Mushonga, co-ordinator of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe,
"We will keep pushing; this is an ongoing process which we believe will pay
off some day. Our democracy is still very young, and I believe with time we
will attain our targets in terms of equitable gender representation in

The Harare-based coalition is an umbrella group for women's organisations in

Elections across the board

This year's elections saw votes cast for the presidency, the upper and lower
houses of parliament (the Senate and House of Assembly), and local councils.

No women contested the presidency.

Figures provided by WiPSU show that female candidates won 21* of the 60
Senate seats in play (35 percent). An additional 33 seats are reserved for a
group that comprises the president and deputy president of the Council of
Chiefs, 16 other traditional chiefs (elected separately), 10 provincial
governors and five senators representing special interests. Women do not
figure among the new contingent of chiefs in the upper house; provincial
governors and senators for special interests are appointed by the president.

During the last Senate elections, in November 2005, women won 21 of the 50
seats that could be contested (42 percent), and were appointed to two of the
16 seats up for nomination, giving them control of just under 35 percent of
the upper house.

The House of Assembly comprises 210 seats, 207 of which were contested Mar.
29, when 34 women won their races. By-elections for the three remaining
seats -- Gwanda South, Pelandaba-Mpopoma and Redcliff -- will take place
later this month alongside the presidential run-off. With one female
candidate competing in the Gwanda South constituency, women may marginally
increase the proportion of seats in the lower house that they currently
occupy: about 16 percent.

The outcome as regards the House of Assembly was reminiscent of the March
2005 polls for the office, in which women won 20 seats and were appointed to
a further four; this amounted to 16 percent of positions in the lower house,
which then comprised 120 elected members and 30 nominees.

Under a constitutional amendment, the Senate and House of Assembly were
enlarged in 2007.

Of the 1,902 local government seats, about 16.6 percent were captured by
women Mar. 29 (315 women won local office). At the time of publication IPS
was unable to obtain gender-related statistics for the previous local
elections; prior to the Mar. 29 vote, polls for urban and rural councils
were held separately -- the last urban local election in 2002, and rural
polls in 2006.

Overall, figures which are available show that Zimbabwe's governing
institutions have some way to go in meeting local aspirations for the
administration to reflect the fact that women make up about half the
population in the country -- and also in fulfilling regional goals. In 1997,
the Southern African Development Community, to which Zimbabwe belongs, set a
target of having 30 percent of decision-making posts in member nations
occupied by women, by 2005. This target has since been adjusted to 50
percent of posts.

"There is a temptation to have a pessimistic response to the results,
considering that there has not been a positive change in the representation
percentages," said Shaba.

"But from an advocacy perspective, we are on the right track...If you
compare the number of women who contested and their performance, we have
made great strides," she added.

"Getting people participating is a process, not an event."

Of the 198 candidates who ran for the Senate this year, 64 were women (32.3
percent); in 2005, there were 25 women among the 90 Senate aspirants (just
below 28 percent of the total).

In the case of the lower house, 118 of the 775 candidates who vied for seats
Mar. 29 were women (15.2 percent) -- compared to 58 of the 272 candidates
(21.3 percent) on the ballot in 2005.

Concerning local government polls, 661 of the 3,831 aspirants who ran this
year were women (just over 17 percent).

Climate of fear

There is widespread concern about the presidential run-off, which pits long
time head of state Robert Mugabe against Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the
larger faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Zimbabwean law requires a second round of polling in the event that no
candidate wins more than half the vote in the first round of elections for
the presidency. The MDC claimed that Tsvangirai narrowly won the Mar. 29
presidential ballot; however, official results indicate that he captured
47.9 percent of the vote, against 43.2 percent for Mugabe. Delays in issuing
these results prompted fears of vote rigging on the part of government.

Extensive physical abuse and other harassment of opposition supporters have
led observers and rights activists to declare that a fair election in
Zimbabwe is all but impossible under present circumstances. The main faction
of the MDC claims that 70 of its supporters, or their relatives, have been
killed and thousands more injured in violence aimed at keeping Mugabe in

A Jun. 9 report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, '"Bullets for Each
of You": State-Sponsored Violence since Zimbabwe's March 29 Elections',
notes that "The violence has been particularly concentrated in former rural
strongholds of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) -- areas that to the party's shock voted for the MDC in the
parliamentary and first-round presidential elections."

"ZANU-PF officials and 'war veterans' are beating, torturing and mutilating
suspected MDC activists and supporters in hundreds of base camps, many of
them army bases, established across the provinces as local operations
centers," the report states.

Amidst other allegations, it also accuses the party and its supporters of
being "...engaged in a campaign of looting and destruction, slaughtering
animals, stealing food and property, and burning down homesteads."

The run-up to the Mar. 29 polls was marred by similar irregularities,
echoing the pattern of earlier presidential and parliamentary elections. As
IPS reported, opposition supporters and rights activists were harassed and
abused, and questions raised about the voters' roll -- while state
broadcasting services were biased in favour of ZANU-PF and food aid
allegedly manipulated, amongst other problems (see POLITICS-ZIMBABWE: "The
Election Will Not Be Free and Fair").

Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's government accused aid groups of political
interference and ordered them to suspend their activities; while a number of
groups have since been allowed to resume work, the suspension has prompted
renewed fears about the use of food aid as a political weapon.

According to figures on the website of the World Food Programme, 45 percent
of the country's population is malnourished. Years of political and economic
difficulties have also left the nation with shortages of other basic goods,
runaway inflation, joblessness and widespread poverty.

The Mar. 29 polls saw ZANU-PF lose control of the House of Assembly for the
first time in Zimbabwe's post-independence history: the former ruling party
won 97 seats in the house and MDC-Tsvangirai 99 seats, while a smaller MDC
faction headed by Arthur Mutambara took 10 -- and an independent candidate
one seat. MDC-Tsvangirai, MDC-Mutambara and the independent have since
agreed to form a coalition that can exercise a majority in the House of

The MDC split in 2005 over participation in that year's Senate polls.

As regards the Senate, ZANU-PF won 30 of the contested Senate seats Mar. 29,
MDC-Tsvangirai 24 seats, and MDC-Mutambara six seats.

A breakdown of party representation in parliament along gender lines shows
that ZANU-PF has the largest number of female legislators.

Of the 21 women in Zimbabwe's Senate, 13 represent ZANU-PF, and eight

Concerning the House of Assembly, 21 of the women in the house belong to
ZANU-PF, 12 to MDC-Tsvangirai, and one to MDC-Mutambara.

* Please note that certain statistics about women's participation in
Zimbabwean elections that are used in this article may differ from figures
used in previous features on the same topic. The statistics used in the
earlier articles were the best available figures at the time of publication.

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Comments fom Correspondents

Poor Zimbabwe. When are you going to get rid of this madman President of
yours? The country is a disgrace and just a violence ridden dust bowl. Under
mugabe he has reduced your country to a thug's paradise. He and his thugs
terrorise the great people of Zimbabwe so why don't you all rise up against
this dictator? I laugh when I hear talk of elections there. Thugs like
mugabe don't know how to honour democratic elections. Thugs like him should
just be in prison cells not determining the lives of a population. This
guy's just a joke. He must be mad in the head. I feel so sorry for your
country and for the rest of Africa because it doesn't have the guts to oust
him.The silly little man is a joke. Lock him up and move on.
John Davey,
Southern England.
In response to "The Letter"

Yes as impressive as the letter is and the list that goes with it, along
with all the apparent political and diplomatic pressure being applied, I can
all but not help resign myself to the thought that the forthcoming elections
in Zimbabwe will both be extremely painful for the majority if not all of
its Citizens and a total farce, not that that is not already the reality of
the situation on the ground at this very moment.

Frankly speaking the prospects of anything being free and fair in the
foreseeable future appears at this time to be very bleak with many a
Zimbabwean's hope, faith, spirit, heart, limb, skull and body broken or
crushed. A Nation brought to its knees economically and living in fear of
what the tomorrow will bring. Yet aside from the active courage of a
relative few, the World as a whole, its Institutions invested with the care
and protection of Human Rights, those, Political persons with the power to
do something would seem to be standing back and waiting to see what will
happen ... How bad does the crisis have to become before someone or a
collective group somewhere somehow says enough is enough?

It certainly is not going to happen from within given the simple fact that
those that have stood up, have been neutralized or beaten into all-but total
submission and presently live in fear of their lives and what the future

A traumatic, critical and extremely sad state of affairs that cries out for
immediate intervention in some shape or form of substance and has been doing
so for many a month now, if not years.

That a man can allegedly openly state that "the pen can never win against
the gun" surely is a case, and I say it again, to say enough is enough!

Or is there a hidden agenda, even possibly a conspiracy to allow situations
such as we have in Zimbabwe to go unattended, I wonder?

Calls, appeals, letters, legal cases, sanctions, bans and many other forms
of pressure abound and somehow few have seemed to work out that it all
amounts to naught when a good number living in fear of loosing their power
and effectively insane or at the least out of touch with reality, by account
of their actions are being left to literally terrorize a Nation to a point
of what presently has the potential to be a complete disaster. And then?

Obviously natural disasters we have little or zero control over but man-made
there has to come a moment and time of action for all those that have the
power to do something and accountability for those that have abused it.

In conclusion the question needs to be asked in the cold light of the day,
as a matter of urgency "Has the situation not become unmanageable and is it
not time for intervention in Zimbabwe".

This is a rule of, for life whether it be a Father protecting a Child,
family members and or friends attempting to help a fellow addict and yes
World Leaders confronting and acting against fellow Leaders gone array.

It is all about "tough love" and in the case of Zimbabwe the consequences
loom great, if that is not already the case should NOTHING be done in the
few remaining days before the elections next week Friday.

The warning signs are there for all to see, as clear as a fast approaching
"tornado" on a set of frame by frame satellite pictures.

Heed and action needs to be taken sooner rather than later and furthermore I
believe I speak for a great many of my fellow countrymen.

A deeply concerned Zimbabwean,

trusting that this letter might just reach someone who really cares and has
the power to act.

The rest lies in the lap of God and may he be with you all.

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Rights group urges S. Africa to stop deportations

Yahoo News

By CELEAN JACOBSON, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 37 minutes ago

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - A human rights group called on South Africa to
stop mass deportations of Zimbabweans, accusing the country of failing to
help end a political crisis next door that has led thousands to flee.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report Thursday that Zimbabweans
in South Africa are not "voluntary economic migrants," blaming Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and his government for the country's economic

"Without fail, Zimbabweans in South Africa spoke of the utter desperation
they felt back home. Most said they had no option but to turn to their South
African neighbors for help to survive," said Gerry Simpson, who wrote the

However, because of South Africa's "dysfunctional asylum system and
arbitrary and haphazard deportation practices," thousands of Zimbabweans are
being unlawfully returned to Zimbabwe, where they may face persecution, he

The organization estimates that about 1.5 million Zimbabweans are in South
Africa, although other estimates put the number at 3 million.

South Africa does not recognize them as refugees but as economic migrants.
The country's Home Affairs department is considered corrupt and has
struggled to come up with a coherent immigration policy. Hundreds of people
from across Africa wait desperately in line for papers at offices across the

About 20,000 Zimbabweans apply for asylum every year, but according to
latest available figures, only 241 Zimbabweans were granted refugee status
between 2004 and 2006, the report said.

Human Rights Watch called on the South African government to give
Zimbabweans special immigrant status. Simpson said "regularizing" the status
of Zimbabweans would unburden South Africa's overloaded asylum system and
protect them from exploitation and violence in South Africa.

Zimbabweans were targeted in recent xenophobic attacks by South Africans who
claim foreigners are stealing jobs and using scarce resources.

However, Cleo Mosana, spokeswoman for the Home Affairs ministry, said South
Africa would not have a special category for citizens of a particular
country. "We wouldn't create a system based on national crisis," she said.

Zimbabwe, once the region's breadbasket, has the world's highest inflation
rate and the country suffers chronic shortages of medicine, food, fuel,
water and electricity.

The report says that the high number of Zimbabweans in South Africa
underlines a "failure of foreign policy" in Pretoria. It says South African
authorities have turned a blind eye to their presence.

"Until South African changes its stance toward the ruling party" in
Zimbabwe, a change in its immigration policy is unlikely, Simpson said.

The report says deportation does not act as a deterrent. About 200,000
Zimbabweans were deported in 2007 and most returned within days or weeks.

"Most Zimbabweans just want to be able to help themselves and their families
without fear of deportation," Simpson said.

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Kenyan football fans chant 'Mugabe must go'

From SW Radio Africa, 18 June

By Lance Guma

Over 36 000 Kenyan football fans chanted 'Mugabe must go' as the Zimbabwean
national soccer team walked onto the pitch for a World Cup qualifying match
last Saturday. The warriors were beaten 2-0 by Kenya at the Nyayo National
Sports Stadium in the capital city Nairobi. Just before that match the home
fans made their feelings known about Mugabe's continued stay in power, with
one local blogger saying, 'the chant of -Mugabe must go - echoed around the
stadium from some 36 000 Kenyan fans.' One fan whose nationality could not
be ascertained was pictured holding up a banner with the same message.
Themba Dube a Zimbabwean working in Tanzania said Zimbabwe's crisis is
dominating media space in the region and a lot of Kenyans are very
sympathetic towards their plight. He said this was because they went through
similar waves of political violence. Dube said after the match, some of the
Kenyan supporters blamed Zimbabwe's defeat on the country's political
crisis, and expressed hopes that things will change after the June 27th
presidential run-off. The view of the fans also echoed that of their Prime
Minister Raila Odinga who has taken a much tougher stance on Mugabe than his
African peers.

Odinga has urged Mugabe to step down and that other governments should echo
the demand for peacekeeping troops to organise a free and fair election.
Odinga who himself is part of a unity government that helped end political
violence in Kenya said South African President Thabo Mbeki should speak more
strongly, 'against impunity in Zimbabwe.' Odinga told an international
discussion forum Tuesday that, 'Zimbabwe is an eyesore on the African
continent. I'm sad that so many heads of state in Africa have remained quiet
when disaster is looming in Zimbabwe.' Former United Nations Secretary
General Kofi Annan has also joined the chorus of condemnation and accused
Mugabe of, 'tarnishing the reputation of Africa as a whole.' Last week 40
prominent African leaders, mostly former heads of state, musicians and other
celebrities signed an open letter calling on the Mugabe regime to end
political violence and conduct a peaceful election. South Africa's ruling
ANC party leader Jacob Zuma this week said he did not expect a free and fair
election in Zimbabwe.

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