New York Times
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR and CELIA W. DUGGER
Published: June 20, 2008
UNITED NATIONS - South Africa snubbed an American effort to present a
unified front condemning the Zimbabwe government for fomenting pre-election
violence, sending a low-level representative to a discussion on the issue
Thursday led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterpart from
The foreign minister of Burkina Faso, Djibril Yipene Bassole, and Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice led a meeting at the United Nations on the
violence in Zimbabwe before its elections.
Ms. Rice had called for the meeting with African nations and Security
Council members on the sidelines of a ministerial session that unanimously
passed an American-sponsored resolution to declare rape and sexual violence
a weapon of war.
But after Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa's minister of foreign
affairs, delivered her speech, she remained in the Security Council chambers
while various other ministers and ambassadors descended two stories to the
45-minute discussion on Zimbabwe. South Africa sent its deputy permanent
representative to the United Nations, but diplomats in the meeting said he
arrived late and did not speak.
Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa's representative to the United
Nations, noted that the foreign minister was here to discuss sexual violence
and not Zimbabwe. "What slight?" he asked. "She got a letter from Secretary
Rice saying come and join me at the meeting on sexual exploitation. That is
what she did."
After the Zimbabwe discussion, Ms. Rice said the participants wanted "to
send a strong message that what is going on in Zimbabwe is simply
Djibril Yipene Bassole, Burkina Faso's foreign minister, said that African
nations were concerned about both the violence leading up to the elections
and the fallout. "Africa does not need such an image," he said.
Diplomats in the meeting said the representatives of various African
nations, including Tanzania, Morocco and Kenya, all voiced support for
bringing increased pressure on Zimbabwe to allow fair elections to proceed
in the June 27 run-off vote for president - though the Burkina Faso minister
said it was premature to consider sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The criticism was echoed by other African officials on Thursday. Earlier in
the day, a group of government ministers from southern Africa bluntly
criticized President Robert Mugabe for the unchecked political violence in
the country, saying there was "every sign" that next week's presidential
run-off election "will never be free nor fair."
Zimbabwe's neighbors, who rarely criticize Mr. Mugabe publicly, voiced their
increasing impatience with his government just a day after President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa, the regional mediator, met with Mr. Mugabe and the
opposition standard-bearer, Morgan Tsvangirai, in the latest effort to ease
tensions before the runoff.
The Tanzanian foreign minister, Bernard Membe, said at a news conference in
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania's commercial hub, that he and his colleagues would
urge their presidents to "do something urgently so that we can save
Zimbabwe," Reuters reported.
Mr. Membe's statements were remarkable because of Tanzania's long history of
support for Mr. Mugabe in Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. Tanzania is also
the current chair of the African Union, the continent's highest
The situation in Zimbabwe seems increasingly dire. Amnesty International
reported Thursday that a dozen bodies of tortured civilians had been found,
and that witnessed described soldiers threatening villagers with guns while
instructing them to vote for Mr. Mugabe.
Beyond that, the opposition party said Thursday that four activists had been
killed after being abducted near the capital, Harare, and that the homes of
three opposition figures in the same area had been firebombed. The latest
four fatalities, included in Amnesty International's daily count for
Thursday, bring to more than 70 the number of people killed since the first
round of voting in March, according to the opposition.
Western diplomats here have been repeatedly frustrated by South Africa's
using its two-year seat on the Security Council to deflect and dilute
attempts to criticize Zimbabwe, even wrestling to keep the issue off the
agenda altogether, and often joined by some half-dozen allies including
China, Indonesia and Russia.
Opponents of Security Council action sometimes question if the situation in
Zimbabwe rises to the level of a threat to international peace and security,
which defines the mandate of the Council, Western diplomats say.
But Liu Zhenmin, China's deputy permanent representative, denied that his
country opposed discussing Zimbabwe, while Ambassador R. M. Marty Natalegawa
of Indonesia stressed that his country was not backing Mr. Mugabe's
government by opposing the idea.
The United States has met such reluctance to discussing the issue next week
that it may take the rare step of forcing a vote just to get Zimbabwe on the
agenda, one diplomat here said.
Security Council members are expected to hear from Haile Menkerios, an envoy
dispatched by the secretary general to Zimbabwe, before considering any
Neil MacFarquhar reported from the United Nations, and Celia W. Dugger from
Friday, 20 June 2008
Fourteen killings were reported in a single day yesterday, including four opposition activists burnt to death in a petrol bombing. Human rights groups fear the real toll may be far higher, with many opposition supporters believed to be held in torture camps and police cells, and unidentified bodies being found every morning.
As the killings have increased, the Mugabe regime that has ruled for 28 years has faced unprecedented criticism from fellow African leaders. The Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, head of a regional Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) observer mission, said it was now impossible for the election to be "free and fair".
The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said at a UN security council meeting on Zimbabwe that "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" . The UN is not expected to take action at this stage.
African election monitors have publicly questioned the viability of any vote after their observers witnessed two people being shot dead while they were being deployed to polling stations.
A day after the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, failed in his attempt to get Mr Mugabe to delay the vote, Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) confirmed it had come under heavy pressure from its supporters and officials to pull out of the run-off.
"We have a multiplicity of voices in the party urging us to quit this sham election," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said. "The party has not yet decided on such a drastic step but it is something gaining wide attention and discussion within our ranks."
Mr Chamisa said the MDC was dismayed by the failure of the SADC and the African Union to take effective measures to rein in the 84- year-old President and his backers in the police and army. The South African leader's diplomatic mission, in which he failed to persuade Mr Mugabe to talk to the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who beat him by a clear margin in the first round of voting, has done nothing to alleviate the political crisis.
An influential Zimbabwean politician close to the Mbeki discussions, who did not want his name used, said: "As long as the so-called mediation is based on appeasing Mugabe instead of confronting his evil regime head on, nothing is going to be achieved. It is understandable that some among opposition ranks want the MDC to pull out. Mugabe has been allowed to create this farce with impunity by his peers who fail to deal with him decisively."
With Tanzania as current chairman of the African Union, Mr Membe said he and the foreign ministers of Swaziland and Angola would write to their presidents "so they do something urgently so we can save Zimbabwe".
SADC is sending 380 monitors to Zimbabwe for the vote. Although Mr Tsvangirai won the first round, heavily delayed official results purported to show he failed to get the outright majority needed to avoid a run-off.
The MDC said the four party activists killed overnight were abducted in Chitungwiza, 15 miles south of the capital, and assaulted with iron bars, clubs and guns. Witnesses said that the victims were forced on to trucks and taken away by militias chanting Zanu-PF slogans.
A further 11 killings were recorded by civil society groups including that of Abigail Chiroto, the wife of the MDC mayor-elect of Harare. She and her four-year-old son, Ashley, were seized at their Harare home on Monday night. The boy, who was left at a nearby police station, said he saw his mother being blindfolded and taken into the bush.
Britain has warned the security and military establishment in Zimbabwe that "they are playing with fire" by allowing the political violence to escalate. "They are digging their own graves," said Lord Malloch- Brown, the Foreign Office minister for Africa, who suggested that existing sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his "hard men" could be widened and deepened after the election. "They will never be able to travel or hold bank accounts outside Zimbabwe, they will lose the ability to send their children to school outside the country. They will be trapped in Zimbabwe."
If Mr Mugabe does manage to steal the election, "it will be by such egregious theft and intimidation that the international community, and neighbouring countries, will see that this is without legitimacy and act accordingly", he said.
Lord Malloch-Brown predicted that Mr Tsvangirai could still secure a "big win" from Zimbabweans who have refused to be cowed by the continuing intimidation and harassment. But he also said that the MDC leader would be expected to share power even in case of a convincing victory. "But with a solid win, he would be able to govern on his own terms."
A day in the life of Mugabe's violent regime
* Four MDC activists were abducted in Chitungwiza yesterday by Zanu-PF supporters and killed in an attack with iron bars, clubs and guns. Amnesty International says that a total 12 people were tortured to death after being abducted by Zanu-PF militias around Zimbabwe yesterday.
* Emmanuel Chiroto, MDC mayor-elect of Harare, described how the body of his murdered wife, Abigai,was hard to identify because her head had been smashed by a blunt instrument. Mrs Chiroto was abducted on Monday with her son, four. The boy was later released unhurt.
* The MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been denied a new passport, his party said. His deputy, Tendai Biti, appeared in court yesterday, accused of subverting the government.
* The UN said a human rights senior official had been expelled without explanation after meeting aid workers and UN human rights workers.
June 20 2008 at 06:09AM
By Basildon Peta, Peter Fabricius and Siyabonga Mkhwanazi
Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is
considering pulling out of next week's presidential run-off election after
President Mbeki failed to persuade President Robert Mugabe to call it off.
Mbeki met Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe on
Wednesday to discuss the election contest between them.
Well-informed sources say Mbeki tried to persuade them to call off the
poll because the rising tide of pre-election violence already made it
impossible for it to be free and fair.
He instead proposed that Zanu-PF and the MDC together form a
transitional government of national unity to prepare the ground for peaceful
and credible elections later.
Tsvangirai agreed but Mugabe did not, the sources said.
Mbeki also failed to persuade Mugabe to meet Tsvangirai to address the
crisis. The MDC leader had been willing to do so.
Sources said Mbeki wasn't giving up. "He (Mbeki) is convinced the
run-off will not help in resolving the crisis and has made that point very
clear. He has warned that the run-off might in fact exacerbate the
"He thus prefers a Kenya-style power-sharing pact instead of the
run-off, but it's already too late for that," said one authoritative
official close to Mbeki's initiative, who did not want to be named.
An influential Zimbabwean politician close to the discussions said:
"It was one of Mbeki's routine failures. As long as the so-called mediation
is based on appeasing Mugabe instead of confronting his evil regime head-on,
nothing is ever going to be achieved."
MDC national spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said Mugabe had made a number
of recent statements which confirmed his resolve to disregard the people's
will in next week's election.
Last week, Mugabe said he would not sacrifice Zimbabwe's hard-won
independence on the altar of a "mere X on a ballot". He has also repeatedly
warned he would start a war if the opposition won.
"What therefore is the point of this election? Why should we
participate in it? Many of our members are now wondering and want us to pull
out," said Chamisa.
He said that with at least 70 MDC members murdered and thousands more
brutally assaulted and hounded from their villages, it was not possible for
the MDC to campaign effectively.
The party had launched a court application against the state media's
refusal to accept its election ads.
Also, local observers and monitors are to be strictly curtailed, with
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa saying only 10 000 of the 50 000 who had
applied would be accredited.
After a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe this week, Independent
Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said: "What is needed now is for Mbeki to
go back to the Southern African Development Community leaders and inform
them that 'my effort has failed - what do we do next?'
"The outcome of the election is not the problem; it is the transition
from one government to the next which is the greatest challenge.
"Mugabe will refuse to hand over power, whatever the outcome of the
election. Only a negotiated settlement before June 27 can solve the
Zimbabwean crisis," De Lille added.
Mbeki's spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, confirmed that Mbeki had met
Mugabe and Tsvangirai but remained tight-lipped about the nature and outcome
of the talks.
Meanwhile, US ambassador James McGee believes a million Zimbabweans
will flee to neighbouring countries no matter what the outcome of the
run-off, writes Hans Pienaar.
McGee was addressing the Centre for International Political Studies at
the University of Pretoria on Thursday.
The mass exodus would be prompted by the "planned stealing" of the
election by Mugabe and by the dire food shortage in Zimbabwe.
Compounding this was the government's decision to suspend operations
by NGOs, including those providing humanitarian assistance.
Saying he was tired of being diplomatic, McGee said there was a direct
link between the Zimbabwean crisis and the recent xenophobic attacks in
The envoy added that "at a basic level" there was no government in
"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' not appointed by any parliament," McGee noted.
Meanwhile, Sapa-AFP reports that deputy MDC leader Tendai Biti was on
Thursday charged in court with subversion and election-rigging - offences
that could carry the death penalty on conviction.
Other charges accuse him of "publishing or communicating false
statements prejudicial to the state" and "causing disaffection among defence
He is also accused of "undermining authority or insulting the
president" and "projecting the president as an evil man" who should be tried
for crimes against humanity.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on June
June 20, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - Efforts to secure Tendai Biti's release from custody through
engagement of the acting Attorney General, Bharat Patel, collapsed yesterday
afternoon following Patel's refusal to commit himself to the bail plea.
Lawyers representing the MDC secretary general told The Zimbabwe Times that
their meeting with Patel yielded no favourable result, forcing them to seek
solace in the courts.
Initially, there had been an agreement between the state and defence counsel
to release Biti on bail without going through the normal court process but
the deal hit the rocks as Patel refused to be part of the bargaining
Lewis Uriri, the leader of the defence team said Thursday: "We went to Patel's
office this afternoon to seek his commitment on the bail issue. We had
earlier been given an assurance that Patel would simply agree to the deal
that would have seen Biti being granted bail but that was not to be as Patel
refused flatly to grant our client the request.
"This means that we now have to go through the same court process that will
drag for some time to seek his release on bail," said Uriri.
In the morning, Uriri, appearing before Mishrod Guvamombe laid before the
court, 11 complaints that his client had leveled against the police, saying
the complaints presented a grim picture of the manner in which Biti was
treated at the hands of the police.
The treatment, he said, destroyed the morale of his client and his resolve
to fight for democracy in Zimbabwe.
He further said that his client had been treated like a "serious criminal
with no rights and dignity.
"It is my respectful submission that the form and context of my client's
arrest and subsequent detention was calculated to cause extreme shock,
trauma, and horror and indeed to emotionally break down the spirit of the
accused," he said.
He also said Biti had been quizzed by 24 police officers during his 19-hour
interrogation in which he was asked "questions that had nothing to do with
the charges laid against my client."
"The police officers questioned him about his personal views regards the
SADC mediation and the reasons for its failures, why there was need for a
government of national unity, as well as his preferences regards the models
of the state," Uriri said.
Biti, the defence counsel said, was also asked to disclose the contents of
the negotiations between Zanu-PF and the MDC stretching as far back as June
11 2008 - questions which Uriri said were meant to confuse his clients.
"The interrogation was protracted, sustained, extensive and intensive - all
aimed at breaking down my client's spirit and emotion. He was not given food
or water in the first 48 hours of his arrest and it was after the
intervention of the legal team that food was first allowed to reach him,"
Biti, the lawyer said, was forced to sleep on the floor without blankets on
the first night of his detention.
Given the "gravity" of the allegations, Guvamombe ordered that police should
investigate the complaints and present a written report within 14 days.
"This court takes note of complaints presented to it by the defence counsel
and therefore orders the police to conduct an intensive investigation into
the allegations against the police. The report detailing the findings should
be presented to this court in the next 14 days," Guvamombe said.
June 20, 2008
By Our Correspondent
RUSAPE - Miriam Matinenga arrived at Rusape Prison, as she has done over the
lunch hour every day over the past week, to visit her imprisoned husband,
Advocate Eric Matinenga.
The prison cells are located at the back of the local police station.
Matinenga was not unduly concerned by the unusual presence of a crowd of
people that milled around the police station as she approached. That was
until people in the group accosted her as she approached the police station
It turned out they were Zanu-PF supporters lying in wait for her. The small
town of Rusape, second largest in Manicaland Province, has been the
epicenter of an upsurge of political violence over the past week, targeting
mostly supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"This is the woman," a woman shouted at Matinenga in anger while pushing her
back. "You are the one who brought the white people here."
Matinenga who has been grieving over her husband's ordeal since he was
elected to Parliament representing the MDC in Buhera West Constituency about
100 kilometers south-west of Rusape, was not quite prepared to her own
The group followed behind her, shouting obscenities at her as she was half
pushed and half dragged to a residential property in the neighbourhood.
"They held her for an hour," the Matinenga's daughter, Tafadzwa, said after
she spoke to her mother on the phone from Atlanta, Georgia, in the United
States. The last time she saw her parents was in May, 2007 when they
attended her wedding in the city.
"They harassed her all the time. They said they would kill her."
It latter turned out that unknown to her mother, visitors from the
Netherlands had arrived at Rusape Police Station that morning and requested
to see the jailed advocate.
"When my mother visited the police station at the normal visiting time there
was a group of Zanu-PF supporters waiting," said Tafadzwa. "They took her to
a house in the neighbourhood. They started to harass her, accusing her of
bringing white people to the police station."
Threatened with death Matinenga left Rusape for Harare soon afterwards. Her
first encounter with the violence and unruliness now prevailing in the
eastern districts of Zimbabwe was on the day her husband was arrested at the
Buhera Police Station where he had visited to see clients in custody there.
Not only was he denied access to the clients, he was himself arrested and
detained on unspecified charges. His car was impounded. Miriam who had
accompanied her husband on the trip was forced to hitch-hike the 250
kilometres back to Harare through violence-ridden territory. The police
ignored a High Court order to release him.
Zimbabwe National Army soldiers and Zanu-PF militiamen have declared an
unofficial dusk-to-dawn curfew over Rusape.
Last week they herded the local population to an open field and spoke
"Your vote is your bullet," a soldier told the terrified crowd. A young
woman explained to journalists afterwards.
"They are saying we will die if we don't vote for Robert Mugabe, that there
will be war if we don't vote for Robert Mugabe," she said.
Rusape, the home town of the Minister of State Security, Didymus Mutasa,
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and losing presidential candidate, Simba
Makoni, has witnessed an orgy of killing. None of the three politicians has
raised a voice in protest, not even at the illegal incarceration of one of
Zimbabwe's best legal minds.
June 20, 2008
By Our Correspondent
BULAWAYO - Zanu -PF has allocated plots to 3 000 people on Bellevue Farm,
which belongs to Bulawayo City Council, in a controversial move seen as a
desperate vote-buying gimmick by the party ahead of the run-off.
A woman, who only identified herself as Kandemiri, an official in the
Zanu-PF Women's League in the Bulawayo province, is personally vetting
people wishing to obtain the plots and allocating them.
She is said to have disregarded the advice of Bulawayo City Council and
moved ahead to allocate plots, banking on political support.
Kandemiri is allocating the peri-urban plots, measuring about 1,5 hectares
to the people and has since christened the informal agro-residential area,
The farm lies some seven kilometres south-west of Bulawayo on the Plumtree
Road, opposite Emganwini high-density suburb.
During a visit to the illegal settlement on Wednesday the invaders were
observed while using fire to clear their plots while others were building
Kandemiri said although the Bulawayo City Council refused to co-operate with
her in surveying the land, servicing and sub-dividing it before allocating
plots to people, it was a Zanu-PF decision, which could not be blocked.
"Yes, this is our land," she said. "We have taken over the farm and our
people are already starting to clear their plots and setting up houses. We
have given plots to about 3 020 people who are desperate for land to build
The government acquired Bellevue Farm from its previous white owner in 2005
and allocated it to Bulawayo City Council to cater for the local authority's
future expansion programmes.
The farm was supposed to be used for organised peri-urban farming but before
the local authority could move in to survey and sub-divide the plots and
allocate them, Zanu-PF has grabbed it.
While Zanu-PF supporters have generally invaded white-owned farms under
President Robert Mugabe's often-chaotic land-seizure campaign, they tended
to avoid black-owned properties or farms owned by local authorities.
However, as the party escalates its campaign for the presidential election
run-off scheduled for next Friday, Zanu -PF is using every trick in the book
in a desperate bid to ensure that its candidate, Robert Mugabe recovers from
his first round defeat by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader,
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe by clinching 47.9 percent of the vote to the
octogenarian leader's 43 percent, both failing to garner 50 percent of the
vote to avoid a run-off.
In addition to violently attacking MDC supporters countrywide and using food
aid in rural areas as a political weapon, the party has vastly increased
civil servants' salaries.
Bulawayo City Council Acting Town Clerk, Gilbert Dube confirmed the invasion
but did not want to commit himself to commenting further on the touchy
"There is something like that on one of the farms that the government
allocated to the city council," he said. "But I am not the person who is
directly handling that matter. Speak to (the Director of Housing and
Community Services, Isaiah) Magagula."
When contacted, Magagula refused to comment. Kandemiri boasted that although
the police attempted to evict the settlers, they resisted because senior
Zanu-PF officials supported the invasion.
"They tried but they failed," she said, referring to police.
June 20, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE – A fiery behind-the-scenes battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe
has sucked in an unlikely player, Zimbabwe’s public transporter, the
Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO).
The confrontation reportedly pits controversial Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor, Dr Gideon Gono, against equally controversial rival Local
Government Minister, Dr. Ignatius Chombo, both of them Mugabe blue-eyed
According to well-placed sources close to the unfolding drama, the two
Zanu-PF heavyweights are both aware that they are favourites of Mugabe as
likely successors and have wasted no time in seeking to out-do each other in
efforts to secure the endorsement of the embattled veteran Zanu-PF leader.
Gono and Chombo are currently locked in mortal conflict over control of the
large number of buses that President Mugabe donated to various districts in
the dying hours of the campaign for the March 29 harmonised elections. The
285 buses were acquired by Fiscor, a subsidiary established by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to undertake its quasi-fiscal operations. Each
province was supposed to receive an allocation of 25 of the 20-seater buses.
Some of the rural constituencies accepted the buses but went on to vote for
the Movement for Democratic Change and its president, Morgan Tsvangirai,
thus denying both Mugabe and Zanu-PF their vote for the first time since
“After the acquisition of the buses, the RBZ Governor was reluctant to
release the buses to Ignatius Chombo’s Ministry of Local Government under
which ZUPCO falls. He didn’t want Chombo to take credit for this important
strategy of the Zanu-PF campaign,” said one source close to the conflict. He
declined to be identified.
The source said Gono’s intention had been that the central bank would manage
the fleet of buses through Fiscor. He however grudgingly handed over the
buses to ZUPCO under pressure from Chombo, who logically argued for
management by ZUPCO, the recognised transport operator.
Gono, has, however, continued to fight to regain control of the buses. He
recently castigated ZUPCO publicly for failing to manage the buses in line
with the vision of the Government. Seeking to curry favours with traditional
chiefs, Gono told a recent meeting with them that the RBZ was now seeking to
withdraw the buses in order to to replace them with lorries and pick-up
trucks to transport agricultural inputs to rural farmers and their harvested
crops to the market.
This criticism of ZUPCO by Gono did not go down well with the ZUPCO board
that convened a meeting over the issue two weeks ago at which they resolved
to ask Chombo to express their displeasure with Gono for trying to win
favours with the President at their own expense.
The ZUPCO board is headed by Dr. Chipo Dyanda, a Chombo loyalist who
lectured with the minister at the University of Zimbabwe before he became a
politician. Another Zanu-PF politician, Mabel Chinomona who won the Mutoko
North parliamentary seat in March, also sits on the ZUPCO board.
Both Dyanda and Chinomona refused to comment while the ZUPCO public
relations department merely confirmed that the board met two weeks ago and
referred further questions to Dyanda.′′This is not the first clash between
Gono and Chombo. The central bank governor was the chief architect of the
prosecution of former ZUPCO chief executive officer Bright Matonga on
allegations of corruptly benefiting from an inducement of US$3 000 per bus
when ZUPCO acquired new buses.
Also accused was ZUPCO chairman Charles Nherera a former vice-chancellor of
Chinhoyi University. Both officials were alleged to have corruptly benefited
from inducements paid by bus supplier Jayesh Shah of Gift Investments.
Nherera was convicted and jailed. Though Chombo was not charged, the case
put him in very bad light in Zanu-PF circles. Matonga was acquitted and
appointed Deputy Minister of Information soon afterwards.
Gono, who is related to the First Lady, Grace Mugabe – both of them hail
from the Chikomba District - has openly campaigned for the beleaguered
President Mugabe ahead of the presidential election re-run scheduled for
He has promised to fulfill government’s pledge to spend lavishly on the
traditional chiefs and headman in return for their support for Mugabe’s
To offset the impact of a largely failed rural electrification programme,
the traditional leaders have been promised diesel power generators to light
up their rural homes. Zimbabweans in the urban areas have experienced
regular power blackouts as a result of electricity shortages.
Also to be distributed are 3 000 grinding mills and a similar number of
beasts. The strategy is to coerce the traditional leaders to persuade the
rural electorate to vote for Mugabe as he battles to overturn his defeat by
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC. This strategy failed to deliver the
votes in March much to the chagrin of Mugabe.
Gono has constantly been accused by the MDC of colluding with Zanu-PF by
bankrolling its elections campaign while using public funds.
Just before the March elections, Gono distributed hundreds of tractors, a
variety of farm machinery and equipment, diesel and ancillary equipment to
Zanu-PF loyalists and brand new cars among striking doctors.
Mugabe and Zanu-PF still lost the elections after all these inducements.
This partly explains Mugabe’s anger and the campaign of retributive violence
even before the presidential election results were publicly announced.
Gono promised the traditional leaders a key role in the distribution of
agricultural inputs as an added incentive.
“From now on you are governors, as you will be working with your governor,
assisting him with this micro-credit project which cannot be spearheaded by
the governor alone,” Gono told chiefs and headmen gathered at their annual
congress in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo. Gono always refers to
himself as “your governor”.
The grinding mills will be distributed to the chiefs for the benefit of
their communities, he said, adding that government had acquired book, candle
and soap making machines as well as oil presses for distribution among the
rural folk in order to empower them. While he finances these acquisitions,
Gono has also been accused of oiling Zanu-PF’s machinery of violence.
Chiefs, most of whom have already been allocated pick-up trucks and tractors
as part of a government initiative to retain their loyalty, will now receive
200 litres of fuel a month as part of their package.
Out of the 266 substantive traditional chiefs, a total of 251 are now the
proud owners of a pick-up truck and tractor each.
Some of the more enterprising among them are said to be using their newly
acquired trucks and tractors to transport villagers for a fee in areas where
bus companies have withdrawn services because roads are in a state of
On effort and enterprise alone Gono is way ahead of Chombo in the
presidential succession stakes. So is he on appropriate networking. But
then, Chombo is effectively the boss of all the chiefs.
By Raymond Mhaka ⋅ © zimbabwemetro.com ⋅ June 19, 2008 ⋅
The arrest of MDC’s Tendai Biti and putting ten newly elected Members of
Parliament including MDC’s Treasurer and Tsvangirai’s confidant Elton
Mangoma on a wanted list is an attempt by ZANU-PF to achieve the upper hand
in deciding who will hold sway in the composition of a proposed government
of national unity (GNU).
South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki 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.
A ZANU-PF source told United Nations’s 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.”
SADC, which has given previous Zimbabwean elections a clean bill of health
despite the misgivings of other observer missions, said it would increase
the number of its observers to 400, but according to Zambian Foreign Affairs
minister Kabinga Pande, only 210 were on the ground by 19 June.
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
“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,” a 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
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.
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
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
At a rally in Mashonaland West Province on 16 June, Mugabe warned: “You
decide for yourselves: to vote for war, or vote for people who work for the
development of the country.”
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.”
But a government official told The Herald, that “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.”
Additional reporting by IRIN
20 June 2008
MDC no. 2 accused of subverting constitutional order, vote-rigging, and
HARARE (Sapa-AFP) - Zimbabwe deputy opposition leader Tendai Biti was
charged in court Thursday with subversion and election rigging -- offences
that could carry the death penalty on conviction.
Prosecutor Florence Ziyambi read a list of four charges out in court,
including "subverting a constitutional government as defined in the criminal
"The onus is on the accused to prove that he has no connection with the
public violence that is happening in the country," she said.
Citing documents authorities accuse Biti of authoring, Ziyambi said "the
public violence, the rigging of elections was as a result" of them.
"They are alleging that the president is a criminal since they want to take
him to The Hague," she said, referring to the documents and the
International Criminal Court.
Prosecutors have opposed bail for Biti, secretary general of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), since "the accused is facing serious
offences which attract capital punishment," court papers show.
A court hearing was scheduled for Friday, when the magistrate in the case is
to decide whether to keep the charges or throw them out.
Biti's lawyer Hapious Zhou contended in court that the documents prosecutors
were basing the charges on were forged, calling them "a photocopy of a
"There is not even an attempt to simulate the accused's signature," he said.
Referring to bribery allegations against Biti, he said: "How can offering
bribes constitute treason?"
Biti was arrested one week ago, minutes after arriving back in Zimbabwe
following a long stay in South Africa, and has been held in prison since
The charges also include accusations of having "incited and conspired ... to
rig" the March 29 first round of the election and of having offered bribes
ranging from three billion to 50 billion Zimbabwean dollars.
Soaring inflation in Zimbabwe makes it impossible to estimate how much the
currency is now worth, but the official inflation is put at 165,000 percent.
Thursday conversion rates would have set the higher figure as equivalent to
around five euros or seven dollars.
The bribery led to "massive election rigging," according to the charges.
Other charges accuse Biti of "publishing or communicating false statements
prejudicial to the state" and "causing disaffection among defence forces."
According to police, he is also accused of "undermining authority or
insulting the president" and "projecting the president as an evil man"who
should be tried for crimes against humanity.
The charges stem from documents authorities say he authored that allegedly
discussed a plot to fix the elections as well as planned changes to the
military if the opposition would come to power.
Transforming the judiciary of my country to serve the rights and liberties of the suffering Zimbabwean people will undoubtedly be a big honor to me. I will take it with passion, humility and utmost dedication.
I cannot however remain silent when the current Zimbabwean authorities peddle falsehoods as are contained in the so-called Transitional Document. I find it unconscionable for the author who wrote this document to mention my name in order to justify torture of good people like Advocate Eric Matinenga and Mr. Tendai Biti. I find it really disgraceful when a government decides to invent a fiction so as to further its own interests.
Adv. Eric Matinenga is an advocate. He takes his instructions from law firms and not from their clients. I would not in the normal course of being represented by him establish contact with him except through the lawyers who I had instructed. The way the legal system works is that I instruct a lawyer who in turn briefs counsel like Mr. Matinenga. Any direct communication with him on my part is thus irregular unless it is done through my instructing legal practitioner. The suggestion that Mr. Matinenga has been in touch with me is therefore false and incorrect.
I have not known Mr. Matinenga before as an ardent politician before his election to parliament. His communication with me would not therefore be on the political front. It is difficult to imagine in what capacity he would contact me. He is a Member of Parliament like many other lawyers like Gutu, Gonese, Coltart, Mushonga, Mwonzora and Matutu among others. He has not been appointed the Minister of Justice and I do not think the MDC has come round to decide who shall be in its Cabinet. It is therefore clear this is a falsehood, which cannot be left unchallenged.
I am also concerned about the noticeable absence of legal expression and knowledge in the document. The document uses an expression like “Justices of the Bench”. Judges and lawyers all over the world DO NOT express themselves that way when referring to Judges. They use the expression “Judges of the High Court” or of the Supreme Court, and never as Justices of the Bench. Judges are not justices or judges of the Bench. Rather, they are judges of the Court they preside over. This is the kind of language a student of law will know while still at Law School. Mr. Biti would undoubtedly be way above that level. I know Mr. Biti best as a lawyer, who appeared before me many times. I would rate him as one of the best lawyers the country has at the moment. He would not use that kind of expression when referring to judges of the Superior Courts. The document as a whole lacks the legal flavor that Mr. Biti would normally give it.
The document also lacks legal sense in other respects e.g. that Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai has talked to Judge Fergus Blackie. Judge Blackie is a retired judge who has completed his service and who is unlikely to be persuaded to come back to the Bench. He is someone who would not be a sitting judge in a free and democratic Zimbabwe. He would be expected to be enjoying his retirement working as and when he chooses. He was not “unceremoniously” dismissed as the document suggests, but he retired when his time on the Bench was up. The vindictive humiliation he was subjected to by Chinamasa when he was arrested in 2002 happened just after he had taken retirement.
The same is the case with Judge Anthony Gubbay. He is also a retired judge and his time would have been up as of now, despite the fact that Chinamasa forced him into retirement six months before he was due. I am told that on retirement he declined some prestigious appointments in the Region, opting instead to relax and spend his time on what he deemed best for himself and his family. It would appear a significant number of lawyers in Zimbabwe are aware of that fact. Why would Mr. Tsvangirai in the name of logic and common sense go after retired judges when there are so many other judges littered all over the world who would love to go back home.
Clearly therefore, this document which forms the basis of charges against Mr. Biti is totally discredited and judicial officers and magistrates in Zimbabwe must not act as if they do not see it. It does not need a good lawyer to convince me that Mr. Biti has no case to answer. I have been through this road before and it is time for my fellow judges and magistrates in Zimbabwe to shame it and end it. Advocate Matinenga is being punished for the good work he has done for many people including Tsvangirai and many others including myself. He and Mr. Tendai Biti do not deserve what they are going through. I join those who are calling for their immediate and unconditional release. Their harassment must end now.
I was happy yesterday when Kofi Annan talking of the duty on the government of Zimbabwe to protect its people, espoused his well-articulated doctrine on the responsibility to protect. I hoped he would argue as he did when he was Secretary-General of the need to pierce the veil of sovereignty, which Mugabe loves to often hide behind, now that there is no doubt that humanitarian, economic and political crises are part of the essence of Zimbabwe.
Benjamin Paradza is Exiled Judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe.
Article originally published by The Zimbabwe Times
This is the document that is being used as evidence in MDC Secretary General,Tendai Biti’s Treason charge.
By Norbert Jacobs ⋅ © zimbabwemetro.com ⋅ June 19, 2008 ⋅
An observer monitoring the run-off election has said the violence in
Zimbabwe is now worse than Kenya,and warned his observer group will not
endorse the out come of the election,he added that even if the violence
subsides now,its a little too late and the only option is for it to called
Speaking on condition of anonymity, she says it is clear the government is
behind the violence and the police are not arresting ZANU PF supporters who
attack anybody they suspect to be loyal to the Movement for Democratic
“During the day the situation looks normal. But when evening comes, the
militia supporting the ruling ZANU-PF will just pick anybody they suspect to
be a member of the opposition for a beating. Sometimes they will just pick
members of a family and beat or even kill them. It is even worse that they
seem to have adopted a system of amputation. They just chop off people’s
hands,” she says.
She added that sometimes the MDC retaliates citing incidences where the
opposition will fight back after one of their own has been attacked or vice
versa.But when police come they arrest the MDC members who were
attacked,they even arrest some people who had nothing to do with the
In Harare, she says, they only see people wearing ZANU-PF T-shirts while in
the rural areas, the observers witness people’s houses being burned down.
“In Mashonaland and Manicaland, we have come across houses that were burned
down. Travelling in rural areas is dangerous because you will come across a
roadblock mounted by the militia and you have to explain to them what you
are going to do in their territory. You will also come across police
roadblocks every five kilometres,” she explains. She says that in most
cases, soldiers go to rural areas in plain clothes.
“There is open evidence that the government is sponsoring the crackdown,our
group will not endorse the outcome of this election,it has to be to be
cancelled before there is more bloodshed,but the people are adamant that the
elections should go on because some even those who voted for ZANU PF in
first round are silently holding their guns.” she noted.
By Investigations Unit ⋅ © zimbabwemetro.com ⋅ June 19, 2008 ⋅
Kenneth Mhlanga,the MDC shadow MP for Lupane East has just been arrested in
Lupane and the vehicle he was using had been impounded. No charges as yet.
He is MDC campaign manager for Lupane East.
On Saturday, Farai Chozi a councilor for Dete and his son were arrested for
handing out flyers. The flyers were the presidents letter to the people. The
son was let go but Farai has not. He is being charged with handing out
Tosi Sansole the MDC MP for Hwange East and former Victoria Falls mayor has
had all his meetings cancelled by the police. No was reason given.
ZANU PF militia attacked the councillor for ward 10 in Chiredzi, Wilson
Mabhoko, he has had his legs and ears cut off and is in Silveira Hospital.
The government crackdown on MDC officials is escalating,as of Friday 7 MDC
House of Assembly and Senate elects have been arrested.
They are :
MDC Senator for Bulilima-Mangwe,Sen.Tapela Lutho,MDC-Bulilima-Mangwe., and
Norman Mpofu,MDC-Bulilima East., .
Early this month police also arrested Heya Shoko.,Bikita West. Ian Hamilton
Kay,MDC-Marondera Central., and Amos Chibaya,MDC-Mkoba.,were arrested.
Also locked up is Eric Matinenga,MDC-Buhera West., and yesterday Shuwa
Mudiwa,MDC-Mutare West., was arrested.
Police have issued warrants of arrest for Elton Mangoma, MDC-Makoni North.,
Mathias Mathew Mlambo MDC-Chipinge East.,
Eliah Jembere,MDC-Epworth.,Pearson Mungofa, MDC-Highfield and Abednico
Nyunde,MDC- Bindura South.
The move is seen as a ploy by ZANU PF to reverse its loss of parliament
after its court challenges were thrown out.
No senior members from ZANU PF have been arrested despite being implicated
in the violence that has claimed to date 54 MDC activists.
June 20, 2008
By Our Correspondent
KIGALI - Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, has joined the growing number of
international leaders condemning President Robert Mugabe for the political
violence now engulfing Zimbabwe.
Kagame accused fellow African leaders for not doing anything to help solve
the crisis inside Zimbabwe. He said African leaders have let down the people
"There is a failure by African countries to support the process in
Zimbabwe," Kagame told journalists in Kigali, Rwanda's capital. "The first
impression is that there are some serious problems."
Kagame was speaking during his regular meetings with members of the local
and international media at Village Urugwiro on Wednesday.
Kagame seized power in 1994 after his then rebel forces stormed Kigali to
end 100 days of blood-letting which left almost one million Rwandans dead.
Most of those killed were from the Tutsi minority ethnic group. Kagame is a
Before the genocide, which is blamed on the previous hardliner Hutu
government, international human rights groups had warned the situation
inside Rwanda was deteriorating and heading towards genocide. The calls were
largely ignored only for the world to be shocked when television footage of
machete-wielding militants mercilessly butchering people were shown around
Recently Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian soldier who led a depleted United
Nations peacekeeping mission in Rwanda just before the genocide, told a
workshop on peace and security in Pretoria, South Africa that the situation
in Zimbabwe and the Darfur Region was similar to that of Rwanda during the
In Kigali, Kagame said Zimbabweans should also take the initiative to help
solve the problems facing their country.
"The problem cannot be solved by outsiders, but Zimbabweans themselves
should be seen to be trying to solve their own problems," Kagame said.
Kagame said the presidential run-off slated for June 27 was unlikely to be
held in a free and fair environment because of the violence inside Zimbabwe
and the threats of war being issued by Mugabe and his followers.
"It does not need a genius to understand that free and fair elections can be
hard to contemplate in the current situation," Kagame said.
Kagame spoke as Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga also raised similar
concerns saying Mugabe was now a huge embarrassment to the African
continent. Odinga said Zimbabwe "remains an eyesore on the African
"It is a big embarrassment that a leader can say on the eve of an election
that he's not willing to hand over power to an opponent, and he can only
hand over power to a member of his own political party," Odinga said during
a meeting with US secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. "I think this is an
embarrassment to Africa because it makes a sham of the presidential
"You cannot have free and fair elections when opponents are being beaten up,
when the secretary-general of the party, opposition party, is in detention,
and [on] very flimsy charges, possibly to be charged with treason. So my
view is that the time has come for the international community to act on
Published: June 20 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 20 2008 03:00
From Mr Richard C. Hoffnung.
Sir, Kofi Annan has spoken out against the violence and intimidation being
carried out by Robert Mugabe's regime against the opposition in Zimbabwe
but, in all likelihood, not loudly enough ("A fair Zimbabwe poll is not
enough", June 18). Unless one is credulous enough to believe the ruling
party's propaganda to the effect that all western news reports are merely
fabricated in order to restore white colonialism, it should now be clear
that the arrests, beatings, denial of food, torture and killings of hundreds
of ordinary opposition voters, not just their leaders, are part of a
systematic campaign of terror directed against anyone who may have voted
against Mr Mugabe.
Mr Mugabe has repeatedly warned that he will never give up power voluntarily
and that if he loses the run-off it will mean war. Therefore, it is useless
to indulge in vague talk about claims and counterclaims of violence, or to
hope that more monitors can make much difference in an election that
promises to be no more free than the recent referendum in Burma. What is
needed is the strongest possible denunciation of the Mugabe terror state,
especially by African leaders, backed up by every possible pressure for Mr
Mugabe and his military henchmen to resign. Mr Annan's comments appear to
fall far short of this.
Mr Annan's suggestion for reconciliation is also premature. The example of
South Africa showed that this could only take place after the apartheid
government had left power. However, if he intended by the use of this word
to suggest a comparison between the brutal white rule in South Africa and
the equally brutal rule of the Mugabe dictatorship, then this would be a
powerful indictment indeed; one that the entire world should welcome.
Richard C. Hoffnung,
New York, NY 10001, US
20/06/2008 07:14 - (SA)
Johannesburg - Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe said he will only retire
from office when he is satisfied that the land is "truly and safely" in the
hands of the black majority, Zimbabwe's Herald Online reported on Friday.
Addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters at two rallies in Matabeleland
North, Mugabe, who is Zanu-PF's candidate in the run-off election scheduled
for June 27, said he had to ensure the legacy of returning land stolen by
the British settlers to its rightful owners - the black people - before
entertaining any thoughts of relinquishing power.
He said he could not allow sell-outs to mortgage the country to Britain.
"I don't want to betray Umdala Wethu, Dr Joshua Nkomo, Cde Simon Muzenda,
Nikita Mangena and others. That is why I am disappointed when people vote
"Once I am sure this legacy (of returning land to the blacks) is truly in
your hands, people are empowered, then I can say: Aha, the work is now
Mugabe said blood was shed for the liberation of the country from colonial
bondage and, therefore, there was no way in which revolutionaries like
himself could let Zimbabwe slip back into the hands of the British, who
maimed and killed the indigenous population for resisting colonisation.
"I walk on this land. I farm on this land. I sleep on it. My house is built
on it. Our children play on it. Our schools are built on it.
"If I take a handful of sand from the ground, to me that is my treasure,
it's from my land. It's not from Britain. It's Zimbabwean soil."
Mugabe said June 27 2008 was an opportunity for all patriotic Zimbabweans to
reject attempts to recolonise the country.
Friday, June 20, 2008
"Frankly obscene," said Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith,
referring to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe's appearance at a United
Nations food conference earlier this month.
Yes, a dictator who uses starvation to scatter and kill his own people
making an appearance at an international conference devoted to raising food
and feeding the hungry is an obscenity - though I add, without cynicism,
that the situation isn't all that unusual. Petty tyrants, terrorist enablers
and tribal killers cluster about the wine and cheese smorgasbords of
international community fetes and summits.
At these forums, they blame the United States for virtually anything and
everything. Anti-Americanism - or in Mr. Mugabe's case, a worn-out
'60s-style "anti-imperialist" pitch aimed at Great Britain - provide media
camouflage for their hideous genocides and cruel depredations.
Mr. Mugabe, a classic Marxist rebel leader, plays this game quite well.
Toppling Southern Rhodesia's white dictatorship made him a cult hero. The
left-leaning internationalists gave a pass to Mr. Mugabe's mass murder in
Zimbabwe's Matebele land. That brutal campaign of the early 1980s, against
his former anti-colonial allies, included imported North Korean
But his obscenities are catching up with him. His greatest obscenity is his
war on his own impoverished nation. Mr. Mugabe's tyranny has savaged
Zimbabwe, making the country yet another tragic example of a nation
brutalized by its own government. Zimbabwe is blessed with rich farmland and
should be an agricultural breadbasket. It was a breadbasket, until Mr.
Mugabe's "land redistribution" and "farm policies" turned it into a starving
Once a major regional food producer, today a substantial number of
Zimbabweans go hungry or flee. Since 2000, an estimated 3 million
Zimbabweans have escaped to neighboring nations, with South Africa a
Zimbabwe's economy is a string of obscene numbers. In late 2007, the
Zimbabwean government said the annual inflation rate was 7,600 percent. The
International Monetary Fund forecast 100,000 percent. A 2008 estimate said
200,000 percent. These statistical differences are meaningless - the
currency is a fraud, another form of governmental theft.
In early 2008, Zimbabwe's estimated unemployment rate ran from 50 percent to
80 percent. Whatever the number, Zimbabwe's once flourishing tourist
industry has all but disappeared. In 1999, Zimbabwe was visited by 1.4
million tourists. In 2007, only a handful came. Commercial agriculture jobs
once boosted Zimbabwe's economy. Since 2000, Zimbabwe has lost between
250,000 and 400,000 agricultural jobs.
Mr. Mugabe's latest trail of obscenities involves election theft, violent
intimidation and more murder. Under Mr. Mugabe, elections have been little
more than window dressing for his cult control of the nation. His use of the
police, military and loyal militias, such as the Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Veterans Association, has kept opponents intimidated and
However, his obscene economy and brutal arrogance has led to a loss of
grass-roots support in his own once-pliant political organization, the
Zimbabwe's March 29 presidential election confirmed this. Election observers
believe that if the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, did not win the March vote outright, he came
close. The MDC claimed victory. Under any circumstances, Mr. Mugabe's
electoral window dressing fell, and with it fell the last media facade
masking his tyranny.
Mr. Mugabe has manufactured a runoff election, scheduled for June 27,
pitting him against Mr. Tsvangirai. The "war veterans" are out with their
clubs and knives. The MDC claims at least 40 of its supporters have been
killed since March 29. Moreover, they claim Mr. Mugabe is plotting to
assassinate Mr. Tsvangirai. Mr. Mugabe's police have repeatedly detained and
harassed Mr. Tsvangirai.
Nobel Prize winner former Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has called
for international peacekeepers to ensure the elections are fair and safe. It
may not matter. This week, Mr. Mugabe said he will ignore the election
results. Yet the political heat on Mr. Mugabe is increasing - primarily from
Europe and the United States.
The real disappointment is South Africa President Thabo Mbeki. Mr. Mbeki was
supposed to help "mediate" Zimbabwe's political crisis, but his mediation
has been a biased farce in favor of Mr. Mugabe.
Why? "Old radical solidarity" is one possible reason. Mr. Mbeki's memories
of anti-colonial struggle produce a soft spot for Mr. Mugabe. Pray that it's
blarney, but this kind of embedded, selfish bitterness from the political
past does scar the present and damage the future. True or not, Mr. Mugabe
continues to kill and steal, with obscene impunity.
Austin Bay is a nationally syndicated columnist.
IT IS abundantly clear that despite all the odds, the Movement for
Democratic Change won both the parliamentary election and the presidency
hands down, but that Morgan Tsvangirai was cheated out of taking office and
is being forced to fight a runoff election on June 27.
Just prior to the March 29 election, Tsvangirai was arrested and beaten
virtually to a pulp by the police, probably on the instructions of Robert
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's megalomaniac and criminally violent President.
No charges were brought against Tsvangirai.
Suing for damages would be futile, given the supine Mugabe-appointed Supreme
Since then, Zimbabweans have been subjected to a further reign of terror and
Most recently, the MDC's secretary- general, Tendai Biti, was arrested and
charged with treason - which is punishable by death.
International calls for his release have fallen on deaf ears.
Over 50 MDC workers have been murdered and hundreds have been injured. Some
have had their hands chopped off for voting against Mugabe.
The injured are being denied access to government hospitals and are filling
up the private clinics.
The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission has been re-shaped and cleaned out of
its past members, who have been replaced by military personnel who, no
doubt, when the African observers finally arrive, will leave their uniforms
at home and don suits, thus creating a more benign impression.
Meanwhile, ordinary Zimbabweans are starving. Over three million - perhaps
considerably more - have escaped into South Africa and have involuntarily
become a destabilising influence, both here and in other abutting countries,
where poverty and competition for already scarce jobs and resources are
already a problem.
The so-called xenophobic attacks bear witness to this.
Inflation in Zimbabwe has reached astronomic heights, and not even a loaf of
bread is affordable.
This while Mugabe and his shopaholic wife, Grace, continue to live and
travel the world in luxury.
There is no doubt in my mind that Mugabe's Zanu-PF party will steal the
presidency again on June 27, and that Africa will sit back and do nothing
about it. Britain, the United States and the European Union will be blamed
for Zimbabwe's economic woes, more people will starve or be killed and even
more millions will pour over our borders.
The Southern African Development Community and that expensive white
elephant, the African Union, will sit tight, their arms folded.
After all, South Africa has gone out of its way to give succour to the
Zanu-PF goons who bully Zimbabweans into submission.
The fine principles enshrined in the African National Congress's
constitution and that of our country have long been thrown overboard, as
President Thabo Mbeki travels to Zimbabwe, shuns the opposition and fondly
holds and strokes the bloodsoaked hand of Mugabe.
One wants to throw up.
While Zimbabwe is at this very time physically being cowed into submission,
no foreign observers are there to report the scene.
Most of the world press is barred, and Zimbabwe is beginning to look more
like Burma each day.
Cynically, while Mugabe was speaking at the World Food Crisis Meeting in
Rome, the Zimbabwe government almost simultaneously closed down the
life-saving work of international food agencies in their country.
Tsvangirai was once again arrested for no reason and prevented from getting
to an election rally.
What upsets me greatly is that so few ANC leaders have been prepared to
Not Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, not Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota (who
no longer has anything to lose), and only belatedly the mostly invisible
Despite his discussions last week with representatives of the MDC and Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party on the possibility of creating a government of national unity,
South Africa's Local Government Minister, Sydney Mufamadi, has also been
This is a public disgrace, and it reflects horrendously on the integrity of
our country and our government.
Where is the spirit and guts of a Mandela?
Where are our leaders?
Why have they been so silent? Or do they, like Zanu-PF, support the insane
depravity being perpetrated on the hapless and helpless citizens of
Surely it is time for the many honest ANC members of integrity to shift away
from the band of Travelgate pleabargainers and jump off this leaderless,
rudderless and increasingly immoral ship, the ANC.
David Dalling is a former long-serving Member of Parliament and