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Zimbabwe on the precipice - by James McGee

The Zimbabwean
Friday, 20 June 2008 07:56
Presented by James McGee Ambassador of the United States of America to Zimbabwe at the AFRICA DIALOGUE LECTURE SERIES
Centre for International Political Studies, University of Pretoria 19 June 2008
Thank you very much for inviting me to join you today. Thank you Dr. Solomon. It's a pleasure to be here to talk with you about the dire situation in Zimbabwe.
At independence, Tanzanian leader, Julius Nyerere, told Zimbabwe's new leader, Robert Mugabe, that he had inherited the jewel of Africa and urged him to protect it. Zimbabwe was to be the model for a new Africa. It was the region's breadbasket. The economy's potential was limitless. An effort was being made towards racial reconciliation.
Twenty-eight years later, as I flew down from Harare this morning, I left a country on the precipice. Zimbabwe today, is teetering on the edge of lawlessness and anarchy. It is a country on the brink of starvation. It has already fallen off the precipice of economic collapse and is sinking into a seemingly bottomless abyss.
These problems are the direct result of a regime that cares more about clinging to power and the personal riches it brings than it does the welfare of its citizens. Sadly, as I stand here today, the prospects for a free and fair election that might bring change to Zimbabwe are limited. The government-directed campaign of violence and intimidation, coupled with planned electoral fraud make a free and fair election impossible.
The only possible antidote is an immediate and large-scale commitment to independent electoral observation by SADC, the African Union and others. Some observers are already present and I know that more are on the way. I welcome this development because I will be the first to admit that the influence of the United States can only go so far in Zimbabwe.
The impact of Zimbabwe's crisis will be felt the most by its neighbors, and they can do the most to solve it. The most immediate threat facing many Zimbabweans is violence and lawlessness. The campaign of violence being conducted by the Mugabe regime is out of control and shows a callous disregard for local and international laws and the most basic standards of human rights.
This once proud liberation movement is willing to beat and kill its own citizens. It is willing to violate the norms of civilized societies. It is willing to violate SADC's protocols on elections. And, as I have experienced first hand, it is even willing to ignore the most basic protections for diplomats provided in the Vienna Convention.
Corruption, greed and the need to maintain themselves in power have converted freedom fighters and liberators into lawless tyrants. I have witnessed with my own eyes the victims of this violence, and any attempt to deny it or claim it is the result of opposition activity is simply a lie.
To date over 3000 people have been hospitalized and over 60 killed. Over 30,000 have been displaced from their homes and villages. And those are only the confirmed cases we know about. I have received reports of a primary school principal dragged out of his office in broad daylight, never to be seen again, for no other reason than that he worked at a polling station that voted MDC in the March 29 elections. The elderly grandmother of the MDC's spokesman was assaulted because of her grandson's activities. Children are being dragged out every night and forced to chant ZANU-PF slogans and more.
I don't think it is inappropriate to call a regime willing to assault educators, the elderly and youth as lawless. At an even more basic level, there is no Government of Zimbabwe. According to Zimbabwean law, the Parliament was dissolved before the March 29 elections. The newly elected Parliament has never been convened.
We now have the situation of a regime claiming to be represented by "Ministers" who have not been appointed by any Parliament. Some of them, such as so called Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa weren't even re-elected and aren't even members of Parliament.
An equally serious threat for many Zimbabweans is hunger and starvation. Once unknown in Zimbabwe they threaten many, including the elderly and children. Zimbabwe is not currently experiencing malnutrition on a large scale, but it soon may. Zimbabwe's harvest, devastated by the government's disastrous land policies, will once again reach record lows this year. Current estimates maintain that the harvest will only meet one-quarter of Zimbabwe's food needs. In a normal year we do not see food insecurity start until sometime in August, but my experts tell me that we are likely to see serious food insecurity starting as soon as later this month.
Compounding the lack of an adequate harvest is the Government of Zimbabwe's disastrous, practically criminal, decision to suspend all operations by NGOs, including those providing humanitarian assistance. In the best of circumstances, the U.S. and other major food donors would have a hard time helping to feed Zimbabweans. U.S food aid alone was $171 million dollars over the past year, with more needed this year. The Government of Zimbabwe's decision to suspend NGO operations will prevent this critical assistance from reaching Zimbabwe's most needy and potentially leaves up to four million people in danger of starving. Not to mention the orphans, HIV patients, elderly and other needy individuals having to make do without any help.
Let me be clear, the Government of Zimbabwe's actions are a direct assault on the people of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's disastrous harvest is but one symptom of an economy that has already gone over the precipice. The numbers are truly staggering. Inflation is over two million percent according to reliable private estimates. In the past week alone the Zimbabwe dollar lost 56% of its value against the U.S. dollar.
To give you some perspective on what that kind of inflation means, I have heard stories of people stranded downtown because the price of a commuter bus rose from 600 million Zimbabwean dollars to 800 million dollars between the morning and afternoon commutes. Routine transactions now require so many zeroes that some accounting systems cannot handle them. Unemployment is over 80%. Manufacturing levels have plummeted. Businesses close their doors literally every day. Even mining, one of Zimbabwe's few remaining foreign currency earners is suffering as power cuts and lack of needed supplies cut into production. Zimbabwe's once vibrant economy is practically non-existent at this point.
Those hit hardest, of course, are the poor who make up the vast majority of Zimbabwe's population. Zimbabwe's leadership is wont to blame the country's economic problems on Western sanctions. First, the only real sanctions on Zimbabwe at present are targeted sanctions against regime leaders which prevent them from traveling to the U.S. and from doing business with U.S. firms.
While the Government of Zimbabwe refers to the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) as a type of sanction, this is not the case. ZDERA prevents the U.S. from supporting international financial institution assistance, such as from the IMF or World Bank, to Zimbabwe. Even without ZDERA, international financial institutions would not lend to Zimbabwe because of its terribly mismanaged economy and its failure to pay back prior loans. Zimbabwe alone owes the World Bank over 600 million US dollars.
Secondly, it is interesting to note that after Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, general sanctions were imposed against Rhodesia. Nevertheless, at independence in 1980, the Zimbabwean dollar was stronger than the U.S. dollar. The fact is that the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy and the hyperinflation that has rendered Zimbabwe's currency worthless are due to economic mismanagement, including payouts to war veterans in 1997, Zimbabwe's misadventure in the Congo in 1998, and land invasions that began in 2000 and turned the bread basket of southern Africa into a basket case.
The government continues its economic mismanagement through excessive spending, the 24 hour-a-day printing of money, and maintenance of an artificial exchange rate that benefits regime insiders. Zimbabwe will be able to emerge from the current economic abyss only when there is political reform and political will, which in turn make economic reform possible. I wish I could stand here and say that the June 27 run-off offers the chance for political change and a brighter future.
Unfortunately, the current climate makes free and fair elections impossible. MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai is hounded at every turn, making it impossible to campaign. Since his return to Zimbabwe, he has been detained by the police four times. His campaign vehicles have been confiscated. The Mugabe regime is providing no political space for him to campaign. Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of the MDC was arrested upon his return to Zimbabwe from South Africa.
His crimes? Announcing March 29 election results, based on official tally sheets posted outside polling stations, before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced results. He also allegedly disseminated a document setting out MDC plans for governing Zimbabwe after the election-a document that Biti never disseminated and which was fabricated by ZANU-PF to create fear of the MDC on the part of its supporters. Biti now stands charged with treason.
The state controlled media also contributes to the poisonous atmosphere. They routinely broadcast and publish propaganda for the regime, refuse to accept paid advertising from the opposition and slander anyone associated with the MDC. Particularly disturbing, in the past few weeks the state media has begun to broadcast inflammatory material designed to promote violence against the opposition. Senior editors who opposed these policies have been fired and control of the media given to security officials.
Then there is the massive and widespread intimidation of the electorate. At first the campaign focused on areas that had traditionally voted for ZANU-PF, but voted for the MDC on March 29. The goal of the campaign was to intimidate people into voting for ZANU-PF, or simply into not voting at all. Those who voted for the MDC, or merely live in areas that voted for the MDC are being targeted. Mugabe has made multiple public statements that a vote for the MDC is a vote for war, represents a betrayal of the country, and won't be respected.
The campaign has now spread to include attacks on MDC officials and their families. Multiple MDC members-of-Parliament elect have been arrested or attacked since March 29. The Mugabe regime hopes to eliminate the ability of the MDC to campaign or govern, now and in the future. All of this makes independent regional and international observers crucial.
 I am pleased to see that SADC and the Pan-African Parliament have already started to deploy observers to Zimbabwe. This effort needs to continue and expand to include African Union observers as well. These regional efforts, and regional initiatives to push the parties towards a peaceful solution are critical.
Zimbabwe's neighbors have the most to lose if the crisis continues and have, far and away, the most influence. As vocal as I have been, and will continue to be, my influence and that of the United States can only go so far. The Mugabe regime has shown itself quite willing to ignore international condemnation of its heinous acts. It will find it much more difficult to ignore regional leaders and pressure.
We have already seen what regional action can do, with regards to the arms shipment turned away at ports throughout southern Africa. Most notable, this effort did not start out as a governmental action, but as a protest by dock workers in Durban. When the people and governments of this region stand together, opposing further violence in Zimbabwe, they can, and do, make a difference. The centrality of regional actors is appropriate, given that the southern African region has the most at stake.
Make no mistake, Zimbabwe's ongoing crisis is a regional crisis. Its effects are being felt outside of Zimbabwe's borders and will continue to grow more severe. Here in South Africa you are only too aware of the huge numbers of Zimbabweans fleeing their country. No one really knows how many Zimbabweans have left, but estimates range up to several million or one-quarter of Zimbabwe's population.
We have all seen the tragic consequences of the large numbers of Zimbabweans in South Africa. Former Mozambican First Lady Graca Machel recently warned of the impact of population migration in Mozambique. One only has to look at the Great Lakes region to see the devastating consequences of the mass migration of people fleeing political violence. More than a decade later the region is still unstable. None of Zimbabwe's neighbors will be immune.
However many Zimbabweans have already fled, even more could depart if the starvation, economic collapse and anarchy continue. The impact of Zimbabwe's troubles on the region goes beyond the millions who have fled. Zimbabwe was long known as the breadbasket of southern Africa.
Given the global food crisis, the continuing disappearance of the Zimbabwean harvest is only magnified. People throughout southern Africa would benefit from increased Zimbabwean agriculture. In its absence food prices are higher and people suffer. The broader economic collapse of Zimbabwe is also felt throughout the region. Economic growth in the region is retarded by Zimbabwe's implosion. That is why I think it is important for me to be here today.
All of you in this room have a stake in what happens in Zimbabwe. What is happening right now is catastrophic. A disastrous harvest, coupled with an outrageous suspension of NGOs by the Government of Zimbabwe, threatens millions. The economy has completely imploded and anarchy lurks in the Mugabe regime's criminal campaign of violence against its own citizens.
The upcoming run-off cannot provide a solution unless rapid and significant changes in the prevailing conditions occur. Zimbabwe is a country on the precipice.
However, it is not too late. I still think it is possible to bring Zimbabwe back from the precipice. A concerted international effort, led by key regional players, can change the future.
If regional leaders decide to take forceful action that puts the interests of the people of Zimbabwe ahead of any entrenched political hierarchies we can avoid the catastrophe I fear. A massive independent observation effort can slow the regime's campaign of violence, while creating more free and fair conditions for the elections.
A major donor effort can stave off the impending hunger. And a new government which sets responsible fiscal policies and is willing to work with the International Financial Institutions can start to bring Zimbabwe out of the economic abyss. It won't be quick, and it won't be easy, but we must start now, or it will be too late.

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Zimbabweans set to vote with their feet

The Times
June 21, 2008

Jonathan Clayton in Johannesburg
Zimbabwe's neighbours are bracing themselves for an influx of millions of
refugees after the run-off presidential poll next week, which President
Mugabe is determined to win even at the cost of regional isolation.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has put contingency
plans in place in the expectation that hordes of Zimbabweans will cross the
borders to Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa, where an estimated
three million of their fellow countrymen are already taking refuge.

"UNHCR has pre-positioned food and tents in all these places in the
expectation of a flight of more refugees," a senior official told The Times.

It has become clear that Mr Mugabe will not hand power to the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) even if he loses the election. He is
also determined to use violence and rigging to win it.

Mr Mugabe declared yesterday that "only God" could remove him from office.
He was also quoted in the daily state newspaper The Herald as saying that he
would not retire until he had ensured that Zimbabwe's land was "truly and
safely in the hands of the black majority" - an open-ended invitation to
himself to stay in office.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC), a grouping of
neighbouring states, has tacitly accepted that it is powerless to stop Mr
Mugabe. A growing number of African nations have joined the US and Britain
in saying that the poll will not be free or fair because of violence
unleashed by thugs in Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF).

Buchizya Mseteka, a regional analyst, said: "There is no question of
military intervention. But equally, the regime that emerges from the run-off
will have no legitimacy at all. Effectively we are witnessing a military
coup. The economy will be his undoing."

Most observers believe that the election will provide no solution to
Zimbabwe's problems and that the economic situation is now so dire that
people will just leave the country to find food.

"People are too tired and exhausted to take to the streets, and neighbouring
states can do nothing except stand by and condemn events," a regional
diplomatic source said.

Reports emerged yesterday that Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader and Mr
Mugabe's election opponent, was considering pulling out of Friday's election
because of the violence and fears that it will be a charade.

Nelson Chamisa, a party spokesman, said: "There is a huge avalanche of calls
and pressure from supporters across the country, especially in the rural
areas, not to accept to be participants in this charade." He added that the
MDC would decide on Monday whether to contest the poll.

Zimbabwean doctors published a list yesterday showing that 85 people had
died in political violence in past 11 weeks. At least 21 of the deaths were
murder-squad "executions", with the victims snatched from their homes or off
the street and the bodies found days later dumped in the bush.

But police dismissed detailed witness reports of the deaths this week of
Abigail Chiroto, wife of the unofficial mayor of Harare, and four young men
in an attack on the home of an MDC councillor in Chitungwiza township on

"We are not aware of any of these murders," Chief Superintendent Oliver
Mandipaka said yesterday, adding that police had recorded a decline in cases
of political violence.

MDC campaigning has all but dried up in comparison with the March ballot,
when the opposition was able to out-campaign Zanu (PF) with rallies,
posters, meetings and advertising. Now buses are forced to carry Zanu (PF)
stickers and many business offices in Harare are displaying ruling party
posters for protection in case they are raided by youth mobs. In rural
areas, Mugabe T-shirts are ubiquitous, also as an insurance against attack.

"The MDC's structures have been decimated," Mr Tsvangirai admitted last
week. MDC officials say that Zanu (PF)'s violence campaign has eliminated
most of the grassroots activists responsible for mobilising party support.

But Mr Tsvangirai still believes that he can end Mr Mugabe's 28-year rule
and he said that Zimbabweans must have "hope and courage" and turn out to
vote next week.

"If we fall into despair or disarray, my friends, the regime will have
succeeded in its evil machinations to divide and discourage us," he said in
a message to supporters.

President Mbeki of South Africa, the SADC's official mediator for the
crisis, failed this week to broker a face-to-face meeting between Mr
Tsvangirai and Mr Mugabe to push the idea of a government of national unity.
Mr Mugabe flatly refused to consider the idea.

Mr Mbeki, long criticised for failing to take a tough approach with his
Zimbabwean counterpart, is reported to want the MDC to pull out of the poll,
which he believes now will only lead to more violence.

The SADC balks at any suggestion of military intervention, but does now
appear ready to isolate Mr Mugabe diplomatically - even if there is a huge
exodus of people.

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Zimbabwe: Long Walk to Freedom II

The Times
June 21, 2008

Nelson Mandela arrives in London to celebrate a life devoted to fighting
oppression. He must use this authority to condemn the atrocities in Zimbabwe
The world's most revered elder statesman arrives in London tomorrow to take
part in the global celebrations of his 90th birthday (see page 36).

Nelson Mandela, the towering South African freedom fighter, who spent 27
years in prison, cast off the shackles of apartheid in 1990 and went on to
lead his country for five momentous years. He remains in old age the most
influential figure on the African continent. His name has become synonymous
with the qualities he has, in his long life, exemplified: magnanimity,
tolerance, compassion, wisdom and moral courage. In London, the Nobel
prize-winner's life will be honoured with a star-studded concert in Hyde
Park, a symbolic re-creation of the Free Mandela concert in Wembley Stadium
20 years ago that did much to raise global pressure for his release.
Precisely 46,664 tickets are being sold, representing Mr Mandela's long
Robben Island ordeal. He was prisoner 466, imprisoned in 1964.

Mr Mandela announced some years ago that he had "retired from retirement".
But although he travels and speaks less, the demands on his time, his name
and his authority are ceaseless. He has frequently credited Gandhi as the
main source of inspiration in his life. Now he too has become a figure of
transcendental inspiration, a man of giant moral authority, whose example is
held up across continents and conflicts. Two statues honour him in London.
He has received more than 100 awards over four decades. There have been
films of his life. A Broadway musical is soon to be staged. Monarchs,
presidents and statesmen line up to meet him.

Such acclaim is neither inevitable nor necessarily welcome. Mr Mandela
remains, amazingly, on a US list of terrorists because of the past record of
violence of the African National Congress. A Bill is going through Congress
to remove his name, but his past involvement in violent resistance is, as he
admits, a fact of history. And mawkish attempts to sentimentalise the old
man's life tend to hide both the hard moral choices he had to make, his
lifelong opposition to repression whatever the skin colour of the oppressor
and the danger that his name and legacy will be misappropriated by those who
share little of his outlook and none of his principles.

Mr Mandela is coming to London not only to celebrate a long life but also to
raise awareness of Aids in Africa and funds to fight the epidemic. Aids is
an issue on which he took an early and outspoken lead in speaking out. On
another issue, however, he has been woefully silent. Since his retirement,
and indeed even before that, he has said little about the tragedy unfolding
in Zimbabwe. There may be something of the old freedom fighter's
anti-colonial instincts at work here; but Mr Mandela is in a unique position
to fight once again for the cause - freedom and justice in Africa - that
earned him the admiration of the world.

Mr Mugable and his henchmen could not ignore a rebuke from Mr Mandela, a man
who endured more than they did in the name of black empowerment. He could
also inspire the people of Zimbabwe with real courage and hope. And in the
process, he would help to restore the authority of South Africa, a nation
that for so long clamoured for support in its time of need and which has in
recent months offered limp diplomacy as its neighbour endured starvation,
intimidation and murder.

His aides insist that he does not now intervene in political issues, and
that he needs in any case to conserve his strength. The excuse is feeble.
They know that only a few sentences could change perceptions, galvanise
Africa's attitude to the tyrant in its midst and spare thousands of lives
from ruination. It is time Mr Mandela spoke out, here in London this week.

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The terrible price of this man's silence

IAN BELL June 21 2008

The twentieth century gave us the word genocide. It also bequeathed the
notion of crimes against humanity. As though in consolation, that grisly era
then fostered the belief - or the delusion - that the monsters of the age
could always be brought to justice, that international law and institutions
could be used to confront great crimes no matter where they occurred. Many
people wanted to believe it. Most people knew better.

No apologies, then, for returning so soon to the subject of Zimbabwe and the
madness of Robert Mugabe. Sometimes you think you have said all you have to
say on a topic. Then you are reminded swiftly of your own recurring naivety.
The octogenarian dictator and his generals are determined, it seems, to defy
the world. That they may also be defying reality no longer seems to trouble
the members of the regime.

Mugabe has declared war on his own people. That has been said before; now he
is using the word himself. The right of citizens to express their choices
with marks on pieces of paper is declared offensive. His revolution, his
personal property, is not to be betrayed by fantasies of democracy. The fact
that he has betrayed every hope he ever offered to Zimbabwe is of no
account. He says simply this: if people have to die to prevent his defeat in
run-off elections on June 27, so be it. Even Graham Greene never anticipated
such a character.

Nor did many governments. Not so long ago it was taken for granted - I took
it for granted - that the absolute economic collapse of Zimbabwe would be
the end of the dictator. Not so. It was fondly imagined, too, that when the
inevitability of electoral defeat became obvious, that when the vote-rigging
was too blatant, too absurd, the old man would cut a deal, pack up his money
and head for his "holiday villa" in Malaysia. Hardly.

The west understood neither the man nor the forces that surround him.
African governments, always in a position to know better, have only now
begun to accept publicly the reality of the Mugabe regime. Tanzania,
Swaziland and Angola have said that enough is enough. Paul Kagame, Rwanda's
president, with a certainty born of bitter experience, calls the elections a
joke. But aside from despatching observers, if Mugabe will have them, to
watch people being shot dead, Zimbabwe's neighbours offer no great, decisive
Gordon Brown, meanwhile, demands more monitors and access for a UN human
rights envoy. Nothing wrong with that, save for the fact that Mugabe and his
generals no longer care who sees, or who knows. Condoleezza Rice, the US
Secretary of State, tells us that there is no way the elections can be free
or fair. Even the casual viewer has probably worked that one out.

You can hardly blame Morgan Tsvangirai, of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), therefore, when he wonders aloud about the sense of
putting himself up as Mugabe's opponent next week. The dissident will not be
allowed to win, that much is clear. He may even, in a bizarre way, validate
a Mugabe "victory" just by allowing his name to go forward. Meanwhile, Mr
Tsvangirai's supporters suffer and die.

The MDC's deputy leader, Tendai Biti, has been hauled up on "treason"
charges. The allegations may be purest fiction but the possibility of
execution is real. Abigail Chiroto, wife to Harare's mayor-elect, has,
meanwhile, been kidnapped - in front of her four-year-old son - and
executed. The MDC puts the death toll among its own people at 70. Killings
among the wider population are unquantified.

Small wonder, then, that Mr Tsvangirai hesitates.

There is nothing new about the revolution that eats its children. The career
path of a Mugabe is also less than novel. The liberation hero who ends by
imprisoning his people was a stock figure in that busy twentieth century and
shows no sign of going out of fashion. But at a time when most governments
are helpless in the face of a dictator who is beyond reason, it becomes
necessary to pass judgment on one of the few people with the power to aid
Zimbabwe. I am talking, yet again, about South Africa's Thabo Mbeki.

Hindsight tells us that he has protected Mugabe for a decade and more with
sophistries and delays. Even this week, when other African leaders were
finding a voice at last, Mr Mbeki was silent. Reportedly, his best effort
was a visit to Zimbabwe during which he tried to persuade the dictator and
Mr Tsvangirai to form "a government of national unity".

We are supposed to believe he was serious. He appears to take the view that
mass murder and flagrant abuse of the rule of law can be overlooked for the
sake of "stability". Mr Mbeki also appears to believe that Mugabe can still
be sheltered from judgment. As such, he invites a judgment on himself.

It has come to something, after all, when an ANC president can adopt such
positions. Mr Tsvangirai, quite rightly, has simply refused to accept the
South African leader as a mediator. What is there to mediate? How would the
MDC appear to its supporters if it said, in effect, that bygones could be
bygones? More to the point, how long would Mr Tsvangirai survive under such
a bizarre and utterly dishonest arrangement?

South Africa's trades unions, tellingly, have no time for the strategy, so
called, being pursued by their country's president. Jacob Zuma, head of the
ANC and a likely future head of state, is also prepared to admit that the
elections are in no sense fair. Kenya and Zambia have condemned the assaults
on the MDC. But unless Mbeki chooses to act, Mugabe will get his way yet

Former colonial powers cannot easily throw their weight around in Africa. In
the case of Zimbabwe, China could but, given its greed for resources and its
dismal human rights record, Beijing is unlikely to bother. Sanctions have
been of little help.

Yet even while South Africa is struggling to cope with some three million
Zimbabwean refugees, Mr Mbeki clings to the idea that Mugabe's face must be

That, I think, makes the leader of the regional superpower culpable in his
own right. In effect, he has given Mugabe licence. African troops - South
African troops, in particular - could put an end to a shambolic regime
without too much difficulty. It would be a big step. South Africa's
neighbours are wary of the power that is, notionally at least, at Mr Mbeki's
command. Given some recent catastrophic examples elsewhere, in any case,
armed intervention is no-one's favourite option. But unlike Iraq, to take
the conspicuous example, the overthrow of Mugabe would not be precipitate,
to say the least. And in this case the evidence of malign intent is stark.

It won't happen. It will not happen because Mr Mbeki has demonstrated time
and again that he is more comfortable placating Mugabe than confronting the
mass murderer. It is almost as though the dictator, Africa's erstwhile hero,
has a kind of psychological hold over the scholarly incompetent who tells
him nothing he does not want to hear.

Nevertheless, if Mugabe tightens his grip it will be time for governments,
African and beyond, to begin to call Mr Mbeki to account. There has been
nothing benign about his persistent neglect of a people's suffering.

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Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Denied Bail


By Peta Thornycroft
20 June 2008

A week before the second round of voting in Zimbabwe's presidential
election, officials have refused to grant bail to jailed opposition leader
Tendai Biti.  Peta Thornycroft reports from Harare that Biti will go on
trial accused of treason and subversion.

There has been shock in legal circles that Tendai Biti, who is a widely
respected lawyer, will have to go on trial.

His lawyers on Thursday had requested a dismissal of the charges against
him, saying the state's case had no chance of success because it was based
entirely on a document, which Biti said he could prove he did not write.

Biti's lawyers said the state's case depended on a document which described
what the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would do during the
transition from President Robert Mugabe to rule by MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, should he win the presidential poll scheduled for June 27.

Biti is charged on four counts including treason and subverting the
government. Recently appointed attorney, General Bharat Patel, instructed
the magistrate's court to deny Biti bail.

Biti was arrested minutes after he arrived at Harare international airport a
week ago.

Biti is a popular and respected member of Zimbabwe's legal community and
many of his colleagues have been in court to hear the case against him.
Several expressed shock that the charges would continue. Several were
outraged when he was denied bail.

Biti's legal team will now appeal to the High Court Tuesday to reverse the
decision to refuse bail.

In addition there are now fears that Biti's health is not good and that his
colleagues are worried about his blood pressure. Lawyers say if he is denied
medical treatment in police cells they will go to court to try and force the
state to allow him to see a doctor.

Biti had been the MDC's negotiator in the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) yearlong mediation of the Zimbabwe crisis. Two days before
he was arrested he was engaged in talks with Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF in
Pretoria. These talks are facilitated by South African president Thabo Mbeki
who wants Mr. Mugabe to cancel the run-off election and enter into
negotiations immediately for a government of national unity.

The MDC says more than 70 supporters have been killed in political violence
and that it is not able to campaign for its presidential candidate, Morgan
Tsvangirai. MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Friday the party will decide
on Monday whether Mr. Tsvangirai who easily won the first round of voting
against Mr Mugabe, will call for a boycott of the second round.

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Mugabe's mayhem

Sydney Morning Herald

June 21, 2008

Connie Levett was in Zimbabwe this week to test the mood for next Friday's
presidential run-off election. She found a nation of horrors.

It started three weeks ago. The military came to Philani's village in
Masvingo province, south-eastern Zimbabwe, and asked for the names of people
linked to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.
The re-education classes started, all-night sessions singing old liberation
songs from the 1970s and chanting the slogans of Robert Mugabe's ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front party. At first, most
people ignored the sessions, thinking only party members had to attend. They
soon found out otherwise.

"We didn't give names, but the ZANU-PF leader knows who is in the MDC
anyway," Philani says. Village youths were sent to collect MDC members and
sympathisers. Philani explains the indiscriminate nature of the list of
those who have taken beatings for their beliefs: "As long as you are linked
to the party, it does not matter how old you are."

Every night at six, all men aged between 15 and 30 must report to "the
base" - a local community hall - for party indoctrination, and to witness
the nightly beatings. Non-MDC people can also be beaten for non-attendance.

"They [MDC people] were brought in and forced to say ZANU-PF slogans. They
were beaten with huge sticks by 10 or 12 people in front of everyone. No one
objected, because people were afraid," says Philani, 23. "The people don't
come [to the meetings] because they want to, but through fear." The beatings
are administered by volunteers. No one is paid to carry out the assaults, he

Re-education bases have sprung up in villages across the eastern half of
Zimbabwe, spawning militias. The violence, organised by ZANU-PF in response
to its losses in the March 29 parliamentary and presidential elections, is a
systematic, brutal attempt to destroy the MDC's grassroots organisation in
provinces where its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, did well in the first round
of presidential voting.

At least 70 MDC supporters have been killed and hundreds more have fled to
the big towns of Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare. The MDC is now the largest
party in the parliament and Tsvangirai would be favoured to beat Mugabe,
Zimbabwe's long-serving, despotic President, in a fair presidential run-off
election on Friday. Even in the three Mashonaland provinces, traditional
ZANU-PF strongholds where ZANU-PF MPs were returned, there are beatings
because voters chose Tsvangirai over Mugabe in the presidential ballot.

"They tell you to beat on the buttocks, to hurt, not kill, and instil fear,"
Philani says.

Last Saturday, the Masvingo mob lost any semblance of control. Philani and a
group of 20 went to the house of an MDC man. When he refused to come out,
someone climbed onto his roof, breaking through it and dropping burning
grass inside. He threw stones at them and then came out with an axe,
managing to hit one assailant. "They took him to the stadium. There were
about 400 people at the stadium, some had come on buses. They were beating
him; no one said stop."

Philani says 16 people were beaten up that night in his area, some at the
stadium, some back at the base. Four were critically injured and two have
since died, he says. He claims he has never beaten anyone, "but I feel
personal guilt. Being there when this is happening, I feel maybe I might
have contributed". This week, he slipped away to warn a non-government
organisation about the madness enveloping his community. It had not occurred
to him that the same scene was playing out across the country.

Zimbabwe did not need this campaign of terror to bring it to its knees. Ask
Zimbabweans how they are doing today, and the standard reply is "surviving".
The nation is in the throes of hyperinflation that defies comprehension. In
the space of seven days, the exchange rate moved from 1.6 billion Zimbabwe
dollars to the US dollar to more than $Z5 billion. The highest note is $Z50
billion and is valid only until December. You need two of them to buy a loaf
of bread; well, at least you did a few days ago.

Mdudusi, 26, a peasant farmer near Zvishavane, in central Zimbabwe, earns
less than $Z10 billion a month. As a nephew of the village headman, with
permanent water on his land, he can grow vegetables and is better off than
many of his neighbours. He is engaged to marry, but must first raise the
"lobola" or bride price, which his prospective father-in-law has tied to the
US dollar. He has already paid a cow and a goat and must raise the Zimbabwe
dollar equivalent of $US150. "I must go and pay some this weekend," he says,
"or it will be even higher."

Like many Zimbabweans, Mdudusi is well educated. A generation ago, Zimbabwe
was a beacon for southern African states in its pursuit of universal
education. He has a university degree in computer studies but, with the
unemployment rate at 80 per cent, he has no option but to work the family

"Mugabe did a lot of good things in the early years," says David Foya, a
political analyst at the University of Africa in Mutare. "He expanded the
education system, primary and secondary. In 1980, Zimbabwe had only one
university; eventually every province had a state university except
Masvingo. He built his name, but people can't eat past glory."

Even those still working in their professions earn a pittance. Teachers with
a degree earn $Z15 billion a month. Three teachers from a small rural school
near Zvishavane, who hitched a ride with this reporter, were carrying
plastic bags of empty containers. They said their salary does not even cover
their return bus fare of $Z1.2 billion to school each day. If they hitch,
drivers charge them half that. To cover the difference they sell scones,
chips and popcorn to the children to make ends meet.

Teachers have been targeted by the militias because their union backed the
MDC in the recent elections. The women say they have been threatened with
beatings by youth militia, and that beatings are always carried out in front
of the children.

Mugabe was once a teacher himself. In his early years as President, he would
return after work to the State House, his official residence, and gather the
gardeners to teach them to read and write. Now, one of his derisive slogans
is "democracy is for educated people".

On the remote track to Mdudusi's village, the small shops are shuttered as
everyone compulsorily attends a ZANU-PF rally. Mdudusi's cousin, Tom, wears
a ZANU-PF party T-shirt "so he won't be beaten up". A four-by-four utility
goes past with youth chanting anti-MDC slogans: "Tsvangirai is a British
wife, Tsvangirai is a white man's condom."

Back on the main road, a group of 30 young men carrying long sticks
toyi-toyi in broad daylight. The toyi-toyi is a jogging protest that goes
back to Zimbabwe's liberation struggle, where unarmed protesters would jog
at police lines chanting their defiance.

There is no ideology today, except to create fear. In the surreal world of
Mugabe, it is the MDC that is perpetrating the violence sweeping the nation.

Mishek Kayurabadza, an MP-elect in Manicaland and an outspoken critic of
Mugabe, is on the run, accused of inciting his MDC followers to violence
against their attackers. The former mayor of Mutare is also looking after
500 villagers who have taken refuge at MDC headquarters in town.

Tambo and her husband Nhamo, chairman of the local MDC committee, fled their
village in Nyange, north of Mutare, after a gang of youths came for him and
took her instead. She was driven to a forest, assaulted and beaten in the
genitals with an iron bar. The driver was a nephew of the region's former
ZANU-PF MP. "They said, 'why did you marry an MDC person?' I said, 'when I
married, the MDC was not formed.' Then they started to beat me."

Manicaland police will not document reports of violence from MDC victims,
and public hospitals refuse to treat them.

There is a rising clamour for Mugabe and his cronies to pay for the misery
they have wrought. "They have got to be made accountable," says a provincial
doctor. "All my patients - black and white - say the same thing." The
beatings, he says, are devastating.

Says Nhamo: "Mugabe is very stubborn and very cruel. He says no country can
be taken by vote, only by war. The politicians say he can retire because we
need him to retire. Tsvangirai can say that, but what about for us? We have
been tortured. Do we say, 'thank you Mr Mugabe'? They burnt our house, thank
you Mr Mugabe; they are killing our people. Do we say thank you Mr Mugabe?
Everyday, people are killed, intimidated, beaten."

With the election due on Friday, the unpredictable Mugabe has crushed all
space for political dissent. Tsvangirai says he is driven by the need to
protect his own power. "His whole preoccupation is about dying in office,"
says Mugabe's challenger.

Heidi Holland, author of Dinner With Mugabe, interviewed the despot last
December. She is convinced he will find a way to win the election. "He will
steal it, he will do whatever it takes to terrorise the people to do it,"
she says. "He wants revenge against the opposition."

She says he lives in a fantasy bubble of his own making, but she does not
think him mad. "He lives in the world in a mad kind of way, and he surrounds
himself with people who agree with him." In the Harare reception area of the
information department for the President and cabinet hangs a huge motto:
"Mugabe is right," it proclaims, in suitably Orwellian manner.

Holland first met Mugabe in 1975 when he was a liberation fighter. She says
he was then a decent person. The problem is "he can't take rejection" and
"he can act out his urges". "He now knows people have rejected him, and he
is very angry."

Mugabe has great faith in his ability to beat people into submission. He has
lost the respect of Zimbabweans, but if his terror campaign keeps enough MDC
supporters away from the polls, he can win the run-off election.

No one knows if he has snuffed out the determination for change. At a small
private hospital in Harare this week, Kerry Kay, the MDC's secretary of
social welfare, is covertly making the rounds of MDC victims. In a hospital
corridor, kneeling on a chair, with his face leaning into the wall is a boy
who has been beaten on the buttocks so he cannot sit down. "You are very
brave," she says. He looks up, winces and says, stoically: "It is the time."

Some names have been changed or withheld to protect individuals' identities.

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63% to vote for Morgan - independent poll

The Zimbabwean

Friday, 20 June 2008 14:22
HARARE - Sixty three percent of voters are expected to vote for Morgan
Tsvangirai on Friday according to a respected independent poll carried out
last week. The countrywide poll, carried out in the last week by a leading
independent researcher who cannot be named for security reasons, found that
the 63% of respondents intending to vote for Tsvangirai was remarkable
consistent with assessments of the true support for the MDC at the last
The parameters of the poll were necessarily circumscribed by the
prevailing security climate but the low number of those refusing to comment
or not intending to vote is striking.
Political analysts said the figures "make sense".
A total of 2758 individuals were polled, of whom only 104 (0.4%) said
they would not comment or vote. 974 (63%) said they would vote for
Tsvangirai. The poor showing by Mugabe, 37%, is despite the widespread reign
of terror and the denial of food aid to MDC supporters by the state over the
past two months, coupled with the extensive Zanu (PF) patronage system which
has seen the economy destroyed through corruption and wholesale theft of
state resources by Zanu fatcats.

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Zimbabwe election: 'We feel so abandoned. We need a rescue'

Sophie Shaw in Manicaland,
Friday June 20, 2008

There is no electricity, of course, so the only light at the makeshift
shelter is from the bonfires that the 80 refugees huddle around. Several are
warming plaster casts and bandaged limbs. Some hiked for two days to get
here, nursing fractures or internal injuries. Others cannot talk, their eyes
unfocused, in a catatonic state caused by the horror of what they have seen
and suffered.

These people are the lucky ones. They have made it to an informal refugee
centre in eastern Zimbabwe. The really unfortunate people are sleeping rough
while militias search their villages, or enduring a night of violence and
abuse in a Zanu-PF reorientation camp. Some are in unmarked graves, or
recorded as missing and feared dead.

Two men from Rusape arrive. They say they fled their homes after the murder
of Farai Gamba, an opposition activist, by the army on June 14. Other
refugees are from Makoni, Nyanga, Buhera and other rural areas. They are
keen to show their injuries.

One low-level activist from the Movement for Democratic Change, trying to
sleep on a freezing concrete floor under a single blanket, admits his
despair. "The elections are not fair. There is too much intimidation now
that they have guns. I now doubt that we can win, although we won
overwhelmingly before."

The MDC in Manicaland is in no more than survival mode. Police have issued
arrest warrants for five newly elected MPs in the province. Councillors are
being beaten until they flee their wards. Polling agents, organising
secretaries and other rank and file activists are named on lists handed out
to Zanu-PF militia units which arrive at night banging their axes and clubs
against their new Chinese pick-up trucks.

The confidence that MDC leaders in the area felt two months ago after
winning 20 of 28 parliamentary seats has turned to fear, despair and rage.

"Do we have to wait for Zimbabwe to become Burundi or Kenya?" asks a
provincial leader. "Do we need a large massacre before the international
community does something?

"I am convinced that the people would vote for us in even larger numbers if
they are allowed to vote freely. But we are 120% shut out. We cannot
campaign at all. Rallies are forbidden. Anyone wearing our T-shirts is
beaten. And they spread lies about us in the state media. This is not a
contest between political parties. It is a government versus the majority of
the people."

The MDC feels powerless to fight this unfree and unfair election alone while
engaged in a civil war in which only the ruling Zanu-PF has guns.

"Our people are being shot dead", says a successful MDC candidate who is now
in hiding. "We feel so abandoned. We need a rescue. Honestly, we need UN
peacekeepers here now to protect us. Or we need weapons to defend ourselves,
but we don't have those resources.

"Why does the UN wait until we are all dead before it does anything? I
honestly expect that I will be dead soon."

Zanu-PF's systematic violence is turning the tide in this election.
Opposition supporters are being killed, hospitalised or driven from their
homes. Voters are being told to give their ballot paper serial numbers to
their village leaders, and they in turn are being told they are responsible
for delivering 100% for Mugabe.

Voters who confess they supported the MDC in the first round of voting but
promise to switch to Mugabe are being told to tell presiding officers they
are illiterate. Illiterate voters are assisted in polling booths by police
officers, who can monitor their choices.

Sources within the MDC admit they fear a collapse in their rural vote. The
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, secured only a 4% lead over the
president, Robert Mugabe, on March 29, so the damage being done to the MDC's
vote is likely to prove decisive.

The violence is all the more remarkable because it is being carried out
under the noses of observers from the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC). Human rights monitors confirm that the SADC team is meeting victims
and seeing militias threatening all-comers with axes and sticks. But the
protection that the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, and other SADC
leaders continue to give Mugabe may mean that SADC's reports are
long-delayed and fail to properly reflect what observers have seen.

For Zimbabweans, the next week cannot pass quickly enough.

· Sophie Shaw is a pseudonym.

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Zimbabwe voters urged to be brave

Daily Express, UK

Friday June 20,2008

Voters in Zimbabwe have been urged to have hope and courage in the face of
violent intimidation by Robert Mugabe's regime.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
said a "wave of brutality" had swept over the country in the run-up to next
Friday's presidential run-off election.

His message was distributed by email, one of the few ways he has of reaching
voters. Mr Tsvangirai's attempts to tour the country have regularly been
stopped by police at road blocks, and the state-controlled media all but
ignore him.

Independent human rights activists have accused Mugabe of deploying police,
soldiers and party militants in attacks on the opposition to ensure he
defeats Mr Tsvangirai.

The MDC says more than 70 of its activists have been killed, and the
international community has become so concerned at the violence that some
leaders have suggested the runoff be cancelled.

The MDC also says treason charges against its secretary-general, Tendai
Biti, is part of a government plot to undermine it.

Mr Tsvangirai claims he won the first round vote outright. Official results
indicate he came in first but without the 50% plus one vote necessary to
avoid a second round against Mugabe.

"Help us to remind our people that they are winners. That their courageous
decision on 29 March was not in vain," Mr Tsvangirai said.

"Help us encourage them to vote again for change on 27 June. Help us to
protect them from the regime's attempt to destroy their hope. On 27 June,
let's finish it!"

Mugabe has been accused of ruining the economy and holding onto power
through fraud and intimidation. The economic slide of what was once the
region's breadbasket has been blamed on the collapse of the key agriculture
sector after often-violent seizures of farmland from whites.

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Tsvangirai puts honour before 'barrel of a gun'

Sydney Morning Herald

Connie Levett in Harare
June 21, 2008

NEXT week could be the most important week in the life of Morgan Tsvangirai,
Zimbabwe's resilient opposition leader who refuses to be bowed by constant
harassment and disparagement ahead of Friday's presidential election

President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party, call Mr Tsvangirai a
stooge for the white farmers, a white man's condom, a Trojan horse for
British recolonisation, and a hippopotamus, a reference to his girth.

He is detained "for his own safety" almost daily and his supporters are
beaten, driven from their homes, raped and even killed for associating with
his Movement for Democratic Change by youth militias that ZANU-PF has
established across the country.

Yet, amid the turmoil that has engulfed much of Zimbabwe in the 10 weeks
since the first round of presidential voting, Mr Tsvangirai remains a figure
of calm. When he spoke with the Herald in an exclusive interview at his
Ashton Park home in the Harare suburbs this week, he acknowledged the
possibility of a military coup if he wins on June 27, the need to let Mr
Mugabe retire gracefully and the enormous task ahead if he wins the

His first job would be getting through the front door of the State House,
the President's official residence. Mr Mugabe has said he will not leave
office, whatever the result. He recently told supporters: "We won government
with the barrel of the gun, we held it with the barrel of the gun and we
will defend it with the barrel of a gun."

Mr Tsvangirai believes he will win but said the transition may be difficult.
"If I win, I have won the mandate of the people of Zimbabwe, but the
transfer of power may be complicated . if they want to stage a coup that is
up to them."

Coups were not the remedy they once were in Africa, he said. "The problem
with a military coup is it's not the 'in' thing in Africa . SADC [the
Southern African Development Community] has rules, the African Union has
rules, so by and large the question of a military coup is becoming
unattainable and unsustainable."

He believes that senior military officials of the Joint Operations Command
are largely running the country and orchestrating the pre-election violence.
"Our top military commanders are part of the power institution of Mugabe .
and therefore defenders of Mugabe's excesses."

The climate of intimidation was at odds with the relatively peaceful first
round of elections, he said. "It's almost back to the guerilla war years.
The liberation struggle was legitimate, but now it's almost like the
military has declared war against the people they liberated."

The South African President, Thabo Mbeki, a friend of Mr Mugabe, has been
pushing for a government of national unity. He met both candidates this
week. ZANU-PF would be the senior party and Mr Mugabe president.

"A government of national unity is unacceptable because it would undermine
the democratic process," Mr Tsvangirai said. "A government that is all
inclusive to manage the transition is what the MDC has always committed
itself to. Mugabe cannot play any role in the future political dispensation
of this country.

"He should be given an honourable exit, in other words he is not stepping
down, he is stepping up to founding father and statesmen's role that other
heads of state have assumed.

"I know it hurts, I know victims are hurting if there is no prosecution of
Mugabe, but what is the point in the country getting stuck in a stalemate
for ever and ever."

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Violence intensifies, Thousands disenfranchised

The Zimbabwean

Friday, 20 June 2008 14:27
Violence has intensified and spread to urban areas one week before the
presidential run-off elections scheduled for the 27th June. All indications
are that most people displaced by violence will not be able to cast their
vote in a presidential run-off whose voting is ward-based.Tens of thousands
of opposition and civic activists have been declared persona non grata in
the wards and political constituencies in which they are registered to vote.
The news received today by the Centre for Community Development In
Zimbabwe (CCDZ) indicate that most activists in Murewa, Musana, Wedza,
Mutoko, Bindura, Kadoma, Mhondoro,Chinhoyi, Masvingo, Redcliff, Jerera,
Buhera, Chipinge and Mutare have been given a weekend altimatum to leave
their villagers and go to Harare "to their master" MDC president Morgan
As CCDZ we contend that the strategy by ZANU PF militia to drive out
MDC supporters from the villages is a well-calculated strategy to
disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters.We are also disturbed by the
threats being issued by the youth militia and war veterans to opposition
Violence in Harare and Chitungwiza
The ZANU PF party has unleashed vigilante groups called Chipangano in
urban areas to terrorise voters ahead of the presidential run-off.Marauding
gangs clad in party regalia are moving around Harare and Chitungwiza
townships terrorising voters and threatening to kill anyone who votes for
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai.
In Chitungwiza, four (4) bodies of MDC activists abducted last week
were discovered on Wednesday.The violence has also spread to other
high-density suburbs in Harare such as Epworth, Rugare and Dzivarasekwa.The
youth militia are manning illegal roadblocks and forcing people to recite
and chant ZANU PF slogans.Those who cannot recite the slogan are assaulted
and tortured.There is overwhelming evidence that the presidential run-off is
neither free nor fair and does not conform to the dictates of the SADC
Guidelines governing democratic elections agreed to by State parties,
including Zimbabwe at Grand Baie (Maritius) in 2004.
Issued on 20/06/2008
Advocacy & Community Organizing
Centre for Community Development In Zimbabwe

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Commissioner Louis Michel expresses deep concern over Zimbabwe crackdown


Brussels, 20 June 2008

Commissioner Louis Michel expresses deep concern over Zimbabwe crackdown
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel,
has expressed his deep concern over the worsening situation in Zimbabwe.
Exactly a week ahead of the second round of Presidential elections in the
country, Commissioner Michel believes the Zimbabwean authorities must take
immediate action to stop the campaign of smears, intimidation and violence.
Furthermore, Commissioner Louis Michel is deeply concerned at the arrest and
detention of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary General Tendai
Biti. The European Commission believes that the Zimbabwean authorities
should release Biti amid concerns over the legality of his detention on
treason charges.

 "I am truly worried about the current situation in Zimbabwe which is
clearly getting worse day by day. President Mugabe has the responsibility in
respect of his people to ensure that there are acceptable and peaceful
conditions on the run-up to the second round of Presidential elections next
Friday (27th June 2008) which will allow the Zimbabweans to express their
free will. The campaign of violence and intimidation must stop." He added,
"I am also deeply troubled over the legality of the arrest and charges
brought against Tendai Biti. Such a detention just days before the second
round smacks of political intimidation. I would strongly urge the Zimbabwean
authorities to release him as a positive gesture at this time."

The detention of MDC Secretary General Biti is just one example of the
unacceptable crackdown by the Zimbabwean authorities on its opponents and
just serves to deepen the European Commission's concern over the recent wave
of violence. In addition, Commissioner Michel was deeply shocked to learn of
the murder of the wife of the mayor of Harare.

Commissioner Michel went on to say, "I have always supported and continue to
support our African partners' efforts at the level of SADC and the African
Union to assist in ensuring appropriate conditions are in place and observed
during this election period. It is crucial that more international and local
electoral observers are effectively deployed on the ground with a view to
ensuring the holding of the run-off election in acceptable conditions."

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No Mbeki 'solution' for Zimbabwe - Zille


Helen Zille
20 June 2008

Article by Democratic Alliance leader June 19 2008

"Mbeki's Zimbabwe 'solution': Good for Mugabe, Bad for democracy"

The crisis in Zimbabwe deepens by the day. The detention of MDC leaders -
including Tendai Biti who faces the death penalty for "subversion" - as well
as the murder of over 70 MDC supporters has taken the reign of terror to a
new level. President Mugabe has openly said that he will "go to war" to
maintain power.

President Mbeki is now reportedly pushing for a cancellation of the
presidential run-off election in Zimbabwe scheduled for next Friday, in
favour of the establishment of a "Government of National Unity" (GNU).

His rationale for the cancellation of the election is, apparently, that "the
run-off might exacerbate the situation." It is ironic that Mbeki has until
now justified his inaction on Zimbabwe by saying that Zimbabweans themselves
must determine their future through the ballot box.

The world therefore expected him, as the official mediator in Zimbabwe , to
do what was necessary to ensure conditions conducive to a free and fair

Instead he allowed Mugabe to run an unprecedented intimidation campaign and
force a presidential run-off election when he should actually have conceded
defeat.  With the possibility that Mugabe could lose the run-off despite his
threats of war, Mbeki now wants to help him avoid an election altogether.

Even worse, reports suggest that the Mbeki plan involves the creation of a
Zimbabwean GNU is one in which Mugabe would effectively retain power, with
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, as his junior partner.

A GNU sounds deceptively pragmatic and sensible.  I oppose it because it
will vindicate Mugabe's reign of terror.  It will enable him to stay in
power.  It will be the final death knell for democracy in Zimbabwe .  This
so-called "solution" will actually exacerbate Zimbabwe 's problems -- and
spread the contagion far beyond.

In fact, the rot started in Kenya earlier this year where a government of
national unity was negotiated with the help of international mediators,
following an election reportedly rigged in favour of the incumbent President
Mwai Kibaki.  This deal enabled a rejected President to cling to power, with
his successful challenger in the more junior position of Prime Minister.

This deal seems to have set a precedent whereby African leaders can
manipulate (or ignore) the outcomes of elections they lose.  If power cannot
change hands through the ballot box, democracy is dead.

Developments in Kenya and Zimbabwe also put a different light on Jacob
Zuma's recent statements that the ANC has been ordained by God to govern
South Africa and that it will rule "until Jesus comes back".  A man who
holds these views is also unlikely to move quietly into an opposition role
if he loses an election.

All these developments merely entrench the view, held by so many, that
Africa is not ready for democracy.  If Mugabe gets his way, it will entrench
the suspicion that the outcome of elections in Africa is generally
determined by the nastiest, most brutal bully who can use the security
forces as instruments of terror.

If President Mbeki does indeed facilitate this outcome, it will by a Pyrrhic
victory.  The unintended consequences will define his legacy for decades to

Mbeki and the African Union have one last chance to do the right thing by
Zimbabwe and other emerging democracies in Africa .  They have the tools to
do so in terms of the African Union's own Constitutive Act which gives them
the right to intervene in a member state in grave circumstances that include
war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.  At least two of these
conditions apply in Zimbabwe.

They must use this power of intervention, but not in a way that will finally
subvert the will of the Zimbabwean people.  Instead they have a bounden duty
to ensure the opposite.

This may require a postponement of the 27 June poll - in order to move
swiftly and decisively to create conditions for a proper election, the new
date of which must be announced simultaneously with the postponement of next
week's poll.  A new election must take place within three months, at the

The African Union must immediately take the necessary steps to prepare for
this election in Zimbabwe. With the material and logistical backing of the
United Nations, the AU must deploy a peace-building force in Zimbabwe. Their
mandate must be to end the terror and create conditions for an election in
which it will be safe for Zimbabweans to elect their government.

Needless to say, Mugabe will not accept this, but he must not be given a
choice.  The time has come for the choice to be made by the voters of
Zimbabwe .  The time has come for the AU and SADC to show the world that we
can be trusted with democracy.

The South African government, in particular, must use its position on the AU
Assembly of Heads of State and Government to help ensure that the AU
peace-building force is deployed.

Instead of persisting with inappropriate and unworkable 'solutions', that
actually destroy prospects for democracy, Mbeki must  urgently build a
united front  - through SADC and the AU - to force Mugabe's thugs to retreat
and create conditions for an  election that will reflect the will of the
Zimbabwean people.  If African leaders fail to do so, they will expose their
organisations for what they increasingly seem to be - Unions for the
protection and preservation of the power of former liberation leaders.  The
worst fears of the Afro-pessimists will be confirmed.

This article by Helen Zille first appeared in South Africa Today, a weekly
letter from the Democratic Alliance leader, June 20 2008

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'St Paul moment' can't be far for Mbeki

New Zimbabwe

By Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 06/21/2008 13:46:50
AFRICA. Finally, Africa has turned. Or so it seems.

Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called it 'an African eyesore'. In
the same week, 40 of Africa's prominent sons and daughters issued a
collective epistle on Zimbabwe.

You may not have expected it from Kenneth Kaunda, erstwhile President of
Zambia and close ally of Robert Mugabe from the liberation era.

Not from Joachim Chissano, another great friend of the President. So close
is the man, he was Best Man at Mugabe's wedding just over a decade ago.

Not from General Ibrahim Babangida, erstwhile strongman of Nigeria, himself
part of the Military Junta that thwarted Nigeria's abortive bid for
democracy in the mid-nineties.

But they have come in all shapes, sizes and colours to add pressure against
a regime that is now, surely, like the dear friend who runs amok in public
without covering his modesty. You are embarrassed, less for him than for
yourself as someone whom the public associates with the shameless fellow.
Eventually, there comes a point when you have to rein him back; to chastise
him publicly for everyone's good.

But in all this, there is a clear sign.

It is that Mugabe's current account of loyalty and patience in the bank of
the African leadership community is running very low. For a long time,
Mugabe has maintained a deep loyalty account with this community of allies
and sympathisers. He is their brother; a man to whom they have deferred,
even if they may have whispered in the ear and murmured in the secrecy of
the boardrooms.

It has been an enigma. How surely, ordinary people have asked, could the
African leadership stand by and do nothing when their beloved brother has
run amok?

But then, a few loyalty bankers remain; the likes of South Africa's
President Mbeki, who have long provided an overdraft facility on this
loyalty account. But Mugabe has continued to draw from it. It can only be a
matter of time before they, too, put a cap on that overdraft facility. For,
it has reached a stage where the recipient is now in a vicious loyalty 'debt
cycle': the more he draws from the facility, the further he descends into
debt and the more he seeks to draw from the facility. It is unsustainable.

They have extended the facility in the hope that somehow the recipient would
make amends; that he would put in place measures for rehabilitation. But any
hopes that the debt would be repaid continue to recede with each passing
day, with every new episode of calculated violence, with every statement and
threat to the peace and security of an extraordinarily patient nation

But when the recipient of the facility can no longer reciprocate, the
lenders will have to re-assess and protect their own interest. And sure
enough, Zimbabwe is beginning to hurt a lot more beyond its borders. Not the
ordinary citizens of those countries - they have already borne the brunt of
Zimbabwe's catastrophe. It is the leadership, whose embarrassment at
defending the indefensible can, surely, be concealed no longer. That which
has horns will eventually manifest. And it has.

They, too, know that history will judge them very harshly; but before that,
their own citizens will issue judgment. They did so at Polokwane and Mr
Mbeki's leverage has diminished since then. Even the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai
plucked up enough courage and audacity to publicly question Mbeki's
sincerity and neutrality, something that he might have done behind closed
doors, were it not for Mbeki's own growing impotence.

Mbeki facility to his elder comrade began to hurt him long back and it will
surely haunt him for years to come. Harsher members of the jury have already
issued their verdict - that he has been an accessory to the fact. Not
because he has not tried. He has but the greatest weakness is that his
public appearance has been that of a cushion to the indefensible. But there
is a chance yet; an opportunity to say, "I tried my best under the
circumstances but I cannot stand for and by this, anymore".

Perhaps then, even the harshest critics of his 'Quiet Diplomacy' may be
prepared for a little kindness. Those persuaded by the good Book often talk
of St Paul, the man who turned dramatically on the road to Damascus, casting
aside loyalty to the tradition and accepting the Faith. They talk of a man
who converted and became one of the principal voices of the Faith; a man
whose letters form the bulk of the latter half of the good Book. Some among
the African leaders have already turned. They, too, have issued a letter.

But there is one man and one letter that could make by far a greater
difference. It is the word that could come from the man who has so far stood
side by side with his great friend. The world awaits President Mbeki's St
Paul moment.

For, surely, it is now clear that the veil of democracy has become a lot
thinner. It is no longer necessary to lift the veil to see what lies behind
it. The veil itself is now so thin it cannot conceal much.

Mugabe is reported to have recently said the pen cannot erase what the gun
achieved. Those with memories stretching further than the current crisis
will recall that it is not the first time. He is reported to have said in
1976, 'Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we
shall have, shall have been the product of the gun (sic). The gun which
produces the vote should remain its security officer - its guarantor. The
people's votes and the people's guns are always inseparable twins'? That is
and has always been Mugabe's view of electoral democracy.

President Mbeki and his SADC colleagues could draw a lesson from history.
Those who recall the 1979 Lancaster House Constitutional Conference that
paved the path to Zimbabwe's independence say that, at one stage, Mugabe
threatened to withdraw from the talks and return to the bush. It took the
intervention of three African statesmen who had stood by and provided active
support to Mugabe and the liberation movement. Of the three men, Samora
Machel, Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda, only the latter has lived long
enough to witness another 'return to war' tantrum.

President Mbeki is in a very similar position to those three sons of Africa.
He may wish to confer with Kaunda to know what it is they did and said at
the time for Mugabe to re-commit to the talks and facilitate an end to the

For President Mbeki, a St Paul moment, surely, now beckons.

Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, UK and can be contacted at

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Day of Prayer Called for Zimbabwe


By Joe DeCapua
20 June 2008

This Sunday has been designated as a day of prayer for Zimbabwe. The World
Council of Churches, representing Christian denominations in 110 countries,
says it is impossible to overstate the importance of the June 27th election.
It says the people of Zimbabwe will be challenged to find ways to overcome

Elenora Giddings ivory is the director of council's Public Witness Program
for Addressing Peace and Affirming Justice. From Geneva, she spoke to VOA
English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why the day of prayer
for Zimbabwe was called.

"Churches are always reminded to use prayer during times of turmoil and
conflict. We want to call on God to help guide us through these difficult
situations. So bringing all the churches in the world as much as possible
together to pray for the situation so the calm can prevail. It also helps
those on the ground to know that they are not alone, that there are others
who are thinking about them during this time," she says.

But what can prayer do that mediation and political pressure have been
unable to do? Giddings Ivory says, "We're sometimes amazed even in our own
family situation when we take the time to say something out loud in prayer
or in conversation. How it makes it more concrete and realistic. It also
helps to reflect back to ourselves what we may want to happen. It helps us
to move forward to do that. And we, those of us who believe that there is a
God, who controls everything.are calling on God to help control the minds
and thinking and actions of those who are participating in this election

Asked whether a day of prayer is getting churches involved in politics, she
says, "Jesus was involved in politics. He talked to politicians and tax
collectors. And so we're following the examples of Jesus. And we should not
think of any institution or processes that are beyond our own understanding
of where God is in the world."

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Samuel Kobia,
is quoted as saying, "It is impossible to overstate the importance of this
election, its fairness, its outcome and its aftermath." Giddings Ivory says
the council has taken an official position on democratic reforms.

"The World Council of Churches and its governing body.approved a statement
(in February) on the democratic electoral processes. It referred to the
United Nations Millennium Declaration that commits the nations of the world
to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for
all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. So the
World Council of Churches and its member denominations are celebrating the
fact that more nations around the world are embracing democracy in order to
bring about human rights and freedoms for all people who may live within a
particular country and wanting to protect that as much as possible."

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Zimbabwe woos Mideast journos - report


    June 20 2008 at 04:16PM

Zimbabwe is hosting eight journalists from the Middle East as part of
its "perception management programme", the state-owned Herald newspaper
reported on Friday.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) had invited the reporters, who
are mainly travel writers, "to see, first-hand, the situation in Zimbabwe",
the online version of the state newspaper said.

The paper quoted a Dubai-based British journalist as saying she "felt
safe in Zimbabwe".

"I feel pretty welcome in Zimbabwe. I was greeted with smiling faces
and I'm interested in seeing what the situation in Zimbabwe is like," said
Kate Hazell of ITP, a publishing group in Dubai.

Another journalist, Adam Wilson of AMG media group, reportedly told
the newspaper: "Zimbabwe is an amazing country with friendly people."

ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said another delegation from
Japan, with journalists, travel agencies and tour operators was scheduled to
arrive in Zimbabwe at the weekend "as part of this aggressive tourism
marketing campaign".

 "It is our hope that when they go back to their markets, they will be
reporting about Zimbabwe from an informed position," said Kaseka.

He added that he hoped the Japanese delegation would lobby their
government after the visit to reconsider its travel warnings against
Zimbabwe, which is currently on level 2 and does not permit its citizens to
visit the country.

Zimbabwe is preparing for a presidential run-off election on June 27.
The run-up has been marred by violence and more than 70 opposition
supporters have been killed since the first round of elections at the end of

Meanwhile, food agencies have warned of famine in the strife-torn
southern African country, saying nearly half of all Zimbabweans will be at
risk of famine by the end of the year due to a maize shortfall. - Sapa

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Observer Mission contacts

When reporting to Observer Missions, they prefer written reports if
possible.  Give your name and contact details.

SADC -  email tel Harare 758648 Secretariat on M2, Rainbow
PAP - (no email available) PA's tel 0912 541 822 Secretariat Rm 1267 Meikles
AU - no details yet.

Thanks to Kubatana for also providing some of this information.

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Death Spiral - Mediation, Violence and the GNU

Fahamu (Oxford)

20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

Grace Kwinjeh

Rather than deflect and defeat the likelihood of political violence, the
construct of a Government of National Unity would formally integrate it into
the lifeblood of the Zimbabwean democratic dispensation. For South Africans,
this situation recalls the kind of power sharing arrangements that former
South African President F W De Klerk had in mind at the start of the 1990s
negotiation process, where the share of actual voter support would not
determine power arrangements. This proposal was not acceptable in the new
South Africa then, and it is not acceptable in the new Zimbabwe now, writes
Grace Kwinjeh examining the upcoming Zimbabwe presidential elections rerun.

In March 2008 Zimbabweans voted in the most peaceful election since
independence, resulting in an unambiguous victory for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Three months later,
the country is hemorrhaging from a massive and rising tide of political
violence not seen since the state sponsored terror of the early 1980s. The
ruling party and its supporters are responsible for the vast majority of the
current attacks [1]. As if to underscore his party's public embrace of
violence, President Mugabe now openly threatens to "wage war" beyond the
June 27 Presidential run-off election, if his candidacy should be rejected
by the people for a second time. Meanwhile the MDC government-elect, MDC
party structures and much of the party's leadership have been forced into
hiding as they seek to convince voters of their right to select - and see
installed in place - a president of their choice.

For SADC, the Zimbabwe conflagration has become the most comprehensive
diplomatic failure in the region since the resumption of the Angolan war in
the 1990s. But unlike Angola, the Zimbabwe crisis is one for which SADC,
President Mbeki and the international community bear a central contributing
responsibility. By pushing for secretly brokered power-sharing arrangements
leading to a "government of national unity" (GNU), the international
intervention in Zimbabwe has relegated hopes for a new democratic
dispensation built on the foundations of the expressed popular will of
Zimbabweans. By refusing to actively acknowledge the MDC's electoral victory
and insist on its recognition and acceptance by ZANU PF, regional leaders
and the international community effectively ignored and silenced the
democratic voice of the people. As a consequence, the MDC's hard-won
legitimate authority has been erased, and the way has been opened for ZANU
PF to recover by the bullet the authority it had lost at the ballot box.

This violent outcome of a proposed GNU strategy should not have been
unexpected. ZANU PF's violent riposte is reminiscent of the period
immediately prior to Independence around the Lancaster House Conference, and
even more so of the party's violent campaign before the 1987 "Unity Accord"
with the ZAPU opposition: indeed, it is a tried and tested tactic of ZANU PF
to threaten and deploy intense violence as a strategic bargaining tool.
Since independence the party has singularly distinguished itself among
Zimbabwean political parties by demonstrating a capacity for - and indeed
claiming the right to wage - mass violence in defense of its "national"
interests. No longer heading the majority party, Robert Mugabe now cynically
portrays violence as a means for defending the people from their mistaken

This deeply cynical pathology is echoed more subtly in the GNU concept.
Despite a clear rejection of ZANU PF under electoral conditions heavily
tilted in that party's favour, unity talks have been promoted as a means of
bringing the former ruling party back into the centre of decision-making.
Even though neither voters nor the MDC demanded this arrangement in March,
the new government in waiting has come under enormous pressure to fall in
line accordingly. Its leaders have repeatedly said that such an arrangement
would deny the popular voice and reward anti-democratic, flagrantly illegal
and often murderous behaviour - while only deferring, and certainly not
solving, the problem of organising the transition to a new political order.
It is indeed difficult to understand why those who previously promoted
engagement with ZANU PF as a means of strengthening a deeply flawed
electoral process, should now effectively reject that improved process and
insist on power sharing terms with the author of electoral fraud and

In contrast, it is clear that the promotion of a GNU is integral to the
facilitation of an elite transfer of power which would vitiate the popular
will of the electorate. This is why the idea of a GNU has been explicitly
rejected by the leading membership-based civil society organisations in
Zimbabwe, from the trade unions to human rights networks. These groups
challenge the credibility and viability of a compromise that according to
its proponents, would bring about some sort of "normalisation" of the
political space without addressing the growing democratic deficit in
Zimbabwe. For the Zimbabwean democratic movement, political normalisation
requires before all else, recognition and acceptance of the expressed will
of dominant social interests - not its circumvention through brokered elite
'pacting' carried out under the threat of violence.

In Zimbabwe, there is abiding consternation over why ZANU PF and its militia
were given the opportunity by SADC and the international community to ignore
the electoral results in the first place. What would have happened if the
election results - deemed legitimate by observers - had been recognised and
enforced? And what would happen if a similarly free and fair process were
enforced in the current second round, by insisting on the disarming of ZANU
PF and its militia, and the confinement of the security forces to base? Have
those mediating and promoting mediation raised these issues - the clearest
and most profound obstacles to democratic practice in Zimbabwe in the
current moment?

It is widely acknowledged that demilitarisation is a central precondition
needed to advance a democratic outcome and ensure its consolidation in the
medium term. Yet, the perpetration of violence has been treated as a
negotiable right - not as an act which invalidates claims to the process of
a democratic transition. Remarkably, it took 10 weeks of deteriorating
conditions for SADC's official mediator Thabo Mbeki to publicly raise his
concerns about the spiralling violence. But even then he avoided commentary
on responsibility, despite ample documented evidence heavily implicating
ZANU PF and state security forces in commanding the terror. His spokesperson
claims he is precluded from doing so by virtue of his position as mediator.
However this is a hollow rationale in the face of open and mounting ZANU PF

For ZANU PF, with few political repercussions arising from the deployment of
its violent supporters, there seems little incentive for abandoning this
approach- and perhaps much to be gained from pursuing it. Robert Mugabe's
public declaration earlier this week that his party would go to war in the
event of his defeat in the second round of voting was met with paralysing
silence by Thabo Mbeki. The deployment of weapons and violence may be
logistically difficult to confront: the deployment of words and threats is


By focusing on the GNU, rather than the actual election results, the SADC
mediation has effectively allowed ZANU PF to return to the brokerage
scenario it had anticipated in the post election period. This scenario,
broadly shared by ZANU PF reformers, SA, some EU governments and others
before the election, was premised on the belief that the MDC-Tsvangirai
party's support would be diminished by support for MDC-Mutambara and for
Simba Makoni, the former Finance Minister and ZANU PF reformer who was a
candidate for President. A split opposition vote would enable victory in the
Presidential election and at least a plurality in Parliament. Moreover, the
dispersion of opposition representation across three groupings would present
options for developing a 'Kenyan-style' negotiation that could lead to a
ZANU PF dominated GNU. Makoni - the "modernising" reform face of ZANU PF -
could be parachuted in under Mugabe, to soon replace him as the consensus
politician. And ZANU PF could argue that, if this kind of arrangement was
acceptable for Kenya, why not in Zimbabwe? There was a lot of this kind of
talk amongst MDC-M and Makoni supporters in advance of the election.

For ZANU PF this scenario both enabled the departure of Mugabe, a political
liability whose presence would continue to block the party's return to
legitimacy and the resumption of desperately needed, stabilizing financial
assistance for the world's fastest-collapsing economy; and the retention and
renewed consolidation of power by the ruling party. Confident of a mediated
victory and needing a "legitimate" result to back its claims to
rehabilitation, ZANU PF significantly loosened control over the electoral
process in the first round of voting in March.

As it turned out, the party's electoral assumptions were wildly naļve. At
the election support for the MDC-M collapsed - and notably for its
leadership, which was roundly defeated. Makoni was overwhelmingly rejected
by voters, gaining perhaps just 10 percent of the vote. At the same time,
ZANU PF's traditional voters deserted the party by voting for the opposition
or by boycotting the poll, as they had done in the benchmark defeat of the
party in the 2000 Constitutional Referendum. In contrast, the MDC Tsvangirai
party surged across the country, including in former rural strongholds of
ZANU PF that for the first time ever had been rendered easily accessible to
opposition campaigners - and to opposition polling agents and officials.
This combination of factors meant there were too few votes to rig with, and
that the conditions allowing the playing off of opposition forces within a
prospective GNU did not materialize [2].

The shock of the election result and the resulting conundrum for the ruling
party were quite literally written on its face. The headline of The Sunday
Mail, the most slavishly loyal of the state-controlled newspapers, screamed
the day after the election, "Anxiety Grips Zim." Many other state media,
including the country's only radio and television broadcaster, ZBC,
effectively fell silent, bewildered. No party leader of note addressed the
nation for several days.

It was apparent that ZANU PF was reassessing its game plan. Over the next
month it developed and then rolled this plan out, as SADC first patiently
accommodated repeated inexplicable delays in the processing and announcement
of results by ZEC, and then sat motionless as ZESN, the key civic election
monitoring network, and MDC itself were raided by state officials in search
of independently collected polling data that could be used to disprove
manipulated official figures. Even after the long delay, only limited
details of the presidential poll were eventually released [3].

Meanwhile, reports surfaced of remobilised war veterans and youth militias,
and of the first violent penetrations by state security forces of "turncoat"
former ruling party strongholds. ZANU PF aimed to create conditions that
would make the run-off so difficult and dreaded that prospects of averting
violence through some form of GNU and power sharing arrangement would be
welcomed: a replay of the ZANU-ZAPU Unity Pact of 1987. ZANU PF's
transparently obvious "spin" on the violence -which has often been taken up
by SADC leaders, and swallowed whole by much of the regional media as well -
has been doubly damaging for Zimbabwean democrats. One the one hand,
substantial evidence that the violence is disproportionately organised
against the MDC has drawn muted criticism from SA, SADC and the GNU
advocates like Makoni; on the other, the small amount of retaliatory
violence attributed to the MDC is deemed to suggest a "crisis" and raise
possibilities of "civil war" - reinforcing the need to avoid a run-off and
the urgency for a negotiated solution [4].

African leaders have thus far studiously avoided apportioning responsibility
for violence, in most instances couching reactions in terms of cautioning
both sides and invoking dialogue. Widespread violations of SADC's election
'norms and standards' have failed to elicit coherent responses from them.
Neither has SADC cautioned or castigated the ZANU PF government for failing
to ensure its constitutional responsibility for safety and security, despite
overwhelming empirical evidence that the primary perpetrator is ZANU PF and
its proxies.

Rather than address the issue of destabilizing violence and impose political
censure for its deployment in this period of uncertainty, the SA government,
SADC, some EU diplomats and the Makoni grouping actively talked up the need
for a GNU - ostensibly as way to avert the threat of violence coming from
ZANU PF. Indeed, independent and MDC reports demonstrated that increasing
numbers from the MDC's ranks were being beaten, tortured, abducted and
murdered, the rationale for a GNU - and a political counter-attack to the
wave of violence - was publicly reinforced by SA and SADC.

While mediation does not preclude processes of accountability, this approach
appears to have been absent from the Mbeki initiative. As a result the SADC
intervention has directly facilitated ZANU PF's unfolding strategy for
manipulating the conditions and issues that would have to be negotiated.
SADC's tentative response to the March vote allowed space and time for ZANU
PF to regroup and ramp up the violence and threats of more of the same -
both fuelling a defensive "demand for GNU", and reasserting ZANU PF's
leading place in the setting of terms for any negotiations. The latter now
focus on ending violence and averting civil war, rather than implementing
the results of the peaceful election or ensuring that the next round of
elections are conducted in a free and fair atmosphere - something that it
appears can no longer be ensured.


If the GNU is primarily being proposed as a means to avoid a violent
tragedy, rather than as a basis for a establishing a new inclusive
democratic politics, skeptics are right to question the idea's aims,
objectives and predictable outcomes. Just as importantly, we need to pose a
question for those advocating a non-democratic negotiated resolution to
Zimbabwe's election crisis: by what principle can the rights of the popular
democratic will as expressed by voters be equated with, or rendered
secondary to, the rights of discredited elites and perpetrators of violence?
For this is precisely what the idea of a GNU proposes, in the name of an
elusive, highly unstable and temporary peace.

Even if the MDC were able to extract considerable concessions from ZANU PF,
it is highly unlikely that Robert Mugabe's party would cede its effective
control over its levers in the bureaucracy and particularly, in the security
forces. Why would it: these are the instruments of war and obstruction that
have enabled ZANU PF to climb out of the hole of electoral defeat on more
than one occasion, to protect its networks of power. To suggest that these
determinants of power would be given up willingly is to accept the notion
that ZANU PF would be willing to abdicate. The last two months have exposed
this view as profoundly delusional. Those who have put stock in the GNU have
failed to assess their model of peace-making in light of ZANU PF's strategic
understanding that violence is a political asset and an effective substitute
for popular legitimacy, which will not be negotiated away.

Rather than deflect and defeat the likelihood of political violence, the
construct of a GNU would formally integrate it into the lifeblood of the
Zimbabwean democratic dispensation. This is a remarkable solution to put
before a political party that has just won an election based on its abiding
commitment to non-violent democratic participation - and to the voting
majority who supported it. For South Africans, this situation recalls the
kind of power sharing arrangements that former South African President F W
De Klerk had in mind at the start of the 1990s negotiation process, where
the share of actual voter support would not determine power arrangements
[5]. This proposal was not acceptable in the new South Africa then, and it
is not acceptable in the new Zimbabwe now.

For the time being, it seems increasingly likely that the GNU route will be
not followed. This is not due to any lack of effort by the likes of Mbeki
and many in SADC, or the distasteful posturing of the rejected Makoni, who
cites rising violence as the need for inclusive negotiations without naming
and condemning those - his erstwhile colleagues - who have created the
unstable terrain on which he hopes to re-launch his ambitions. Rather, both
the MDC and its supporters are wary of legitimizing the political role of
those holding the gun to their heads and the torch to their homes. War is
not something to be prevented: it is here already. And the only non-violent
way to confront and defeat it is the ballot box, even if that option too is

If the current pressures for a GNU do indeed fail, all is not lost for ZANU
PF: Makoni or another ZANU PF senior reformer could return to the forefront
if Mugabe were to win the run-off, further destabilize the MDC and civil
society, and then retire on his own terms - handing over power to a reformer
to negotiate a new GNU from a position of regained legitimacy and strength.
But this first requires another successfully manipulated election result,
and a frontal assault on MDC and civil society resistance. The arrest on
treason charges this past week of MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti does not
bode well; neither does the relative weakness of the SADC response to this
latest development. And is there any reason to think that additional ZANU PF
manipulations during and after the second round of voting will not take
place, given the success of such interventions in the first?


The options chosen by SADC and the international community for dealing with
the March 2008 election have directly contributed to the options chosen by
ZANU PF. It was a choice not to recognise the MDC victory and to allow the
illegal charade over the recount to occur [6]. It is enough here to point
out that the MDC won the Parliamentary elections, that Morgan Tsvangirai won
the Presidential election, that nearly 3 million Zimbabweans did not vote,
and consequently it is very clear that Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF do not
enjoy the support of the vast majority of the population.

This set of circumstances allowed for an alternative political response; a
recognition of and call for an MDC government to be accepted by ZANU PF.
However, the failure to support this option has contributed directly to the
current confusion between promoting conditions for a free and fair re-run
and negotiations for a GNU. Despite a widespread acceptance that conditions
cannot be free and fair for the June 27 poll, and calls for a GNU, the MDC
is sticking to the electoral path and holding out prospects for an inclusive
government of national healing in which it would play a lead role after the
elections. This position, openly supported by SADC, will promote an elitist
management of transitional arrangements under the auspices of a power
sharing arrangement that will effectively insulate and protect those
responsible for perpetrating violence and gross human rights abuses -as
happened with previous election amnesties for party violence, and most
seriously with the Unity Accord in 1987.

As regards the re-run, although it is no longer possible to create the
conditions for a free and fair poll, with less than 10 days before the poll,
there could and should be certain steps taken to remedy the most egregious
violations and potential for destabilisation. This should include: deploying
adequate numbers of election monitors, especially in areas where violence
and intimidation has been reported, and playing a more active role in
monitoring the activities and decision-making processes of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission; promoting an agenda of disarming ZANU PF and its
militia/war veteran proxies hands; censuring the role of the security
forces, censuring hate speech and talk of war by any political parties;
commenting on access of candidates to state media; question and establishing
a strategy with rewards and penalties for compliance/non-compliance with
SADC election guidelines.

Thabo Mbeki did state ahead of the 2005 elections that there would be
consequences if the SADC Principles and Guidelines were seriously violated,
but this was said against the background of woefully inadequate provisions
for monitoring on the ground [7]. Meanwhile, in June 2008, the corpses of
MDC officials and suspected opposition supporters are accumulating,
thousands have been displaced by the political violence, likely thousands
more beaten and brutalised, hate speech fills the airwaves, and a
discredited President threatens the majority with war - and still, there is
no sign of serious electoral censure in the air.

It is time for fresh thinking and fresh action. In advance of the second
round of presidential voting, problems need to be anticipated and prevented
before they arise. Several critical questions emerge:

What would have happened if SA, SADC and the international community
rejected the delays by ZEC and ZANU PF, demanded the transparent compilation
and immediate release of results - and ensured that all parties abided by

What would have happened if all civil society organisations and democratic
parties and politicians had stood firmly behind the MDC government-elect,
rather than soliciting for all-inclusive extra-electoral GNU? If more
support for the winning party MDC had been expressed, what options then
would have remained for elite transitions?

Who, then, really enabled ZANU PF's violent election strategy sending the
defeated party, its leaders and violent supporters inside and outside the
state all of the wrong signals in the immediate post-election period?

And consequently, whose responsibility is it now to end the violence by
terminating discussions about an all-inclusive GNU, and insisting on a
government of transition and renewal headed unambiguously by the party
elected by the people: the MDC Tsvangirai.

* Grace Kwinjeh is an NEC member of the MDC and the Chairperson of the
Global Zimbabwe Forum.

[1] There is no credible evidence to suggest a conclusion other than ZANU
PF's direct culpability for the current wave of organised violence, as there
is a large and growing body of documented evidence that substantiates this
view; there is no comparable evidence suggesting that the MDC has either
launched a parallel wave of attacks; that the MDC is capable of doing so;
and that MDC leaders or party structures have called for such a strategy. As
such, violence is an integral factor in - and not a product of - the current

[2] See the following for more detailed analyses of what happened in the
March elections; SITO (2008), ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS 2008. Examining The Popular
and Presidential Choice - Hiding or Run Off? IDASA: PRETORIA; SITO (2008),
The Inconvenient Truth. A complete guide to the delay in releasing the
results of Zimbabwe's presidential poll. Prepared by Derek Matyszak of the
Research and Advocacy Unit, Zimbabwe. IDASA: PRETORIA; SITO (2008).

THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH (PART II). A complete guide to the recount of votes
in Zimbabwe's "harmonised" elections. Derek Matyszak, Research and Advocacy
Unit, Zimbabwe. IDASA: PRETORIA; SITO (2008), What happened in the
Presidential election? Research & Advocacy Unit, Zimbabwe. IDASA:


[3] In the end, ZEC merely announced the result of the Presidential poll,
which bore a suspicious resemblance to the ZESN "sample based observation"
result. No detailed results were given for the Presidential poll, in
complete contrast to the other three elections in these "harmonised"
elections. See again SITO (2008), What happened in the Presidential
election? Research & Advocacy Unit, Zimbabwe.


[4] The depiction of violence as equitable and the deliberate avoidance to
engage with available empirical information that clearly demonstrates who
are the primary perpetrators is chillingly reminiscent of the way in which
violence in South Africa during the negotiations of the early 1990s was
depicted as 'black-on-black', 'tribal', Zulu vs Xhosa, etc. These crude
representations, adopted by significant sections of the media, analysts and
so on fundamentally undermined efforts to secure accountability and remains
to this day a major part of South Africa's 'unfinished business' in terms of
the dealing with its past.

[5] De Klerk has envisaged a 'troika' arrangement involving the NP, ANC and
IFP, as a way of avoiding a democratic outcome to the negotiations.

[6] That the recount was illegal has been covered in great detail. Here see
again SITO (2008), The Inconvenient Truth. A complete guide to the delay in
releasing the results of Zimbabwe's presidential poll. Prepared by Derek
Matyszak of the Research and Advocacy Unit,

complete guide to the recount of votes in Zimbabwe's "harmonised" elections.
Derek Matyszak, Research and Advocacy Unit, Zimbabwe. IDASA: PRETORIA.

[7] The 2005 elections were, in fact, seriously flawed, but nonetheless
given a passing grade by South African and SADC. For an analysis of this
election, see Reeler, A.P., & Chitsike, K.C (2005), Trick or Treat? The
effects of the pre-election climate on the poll in the 2005 Zimbabwe
Parliamentary Elections. June 2005. PRETORIA: IDASA.

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MDC the main culprit in Zimbabwe violence: police


Fri 20 Jun 2008, 14:01 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's police have arrested 390 opposition supporters
and 156 members of the ruling party over violence since elections in March,
the police chief said on Friday, blaming the opposition for most of the

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Western countries and
human rights groups accuse President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF of a
campaign of violence ahead of a June 27 presidential election run-off.

"It is without doubt that between the two political parties ... the MDC is
the main culprit in the political violence that we are currently witnessing
in the country," police chief Augustine Chihuri told reporters.

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Editorial The Zimbabwean on Sunday

People power always prevails

It is imperative that every Zimbabwean cast their ballot for the candidate
of their choice on Friday. Mugabe's brutal thugs have been terrorizing the
whole country; beating, raping and murdering our countrymen with the sole
aim of terrorizing them into voting for his illegitimate regime. You alone
have the choice to decide where you will make your mark on our nation's
future. We urge you to do so with courage.

The only thing that can prevent the vicious beatings that thousands of
Zimbabweans have endured at the hands of Mugabe's thugs from continuing to
be a way of life. is for Zimbabweans to vote en masse and pull the silent

Cast a ballot against the old tyrant and let your numbers be so overwhelming
that another stealing of the vote is just not possible. We all know what to
expect should he manage to succeed. If Mugabe and his henchmen are allowed
to remain in control there will be more misery, more beatings and more

Mugabe and the junta have been lying to Zimbabweans, saying Western economic
sanctions are to blame for the country's woes. The only sanctions in place
are travel bans on members of the regime to prevent them from spending
looted money on shopping sprees around the world. The reality is that the
economic problems in Zimbabwe emanate from the personal greed of Mugabe's
thieve-ocracy (the ruling elite).

Far from being able to offer solutions to Zimbabwe's woes, the Mugabe junta
now devotes all of its energy in clinging to power. The only solutions
offered are beatings and threats. There are no offers to ease the suffering
of the people of our beloved homeland.

They are also lying about going back to the bush. Left to sleep under a
tree, like many Mugabe-era Zimbabweans have been forced to do, the fat-cats
would not last a day in the bush without their luxurious mansions.

Zimbabweans have now had enough of being beaten, Zimbabweans have had enough
of war, enough of Zanu (PF) and we have had enough of Mugabe. We now want a
man who will respect the Rule of Law; man who has ideas to get us out of
this mess; a man who can allow us to feel national pride once more. A man
who has new ideas about how to improve our lives that we may walk with heads
lifted high once more or sleep peacefully through the night.

Zimbabweans want to be able to speak freely about the political situation.
Watch or listen to any radio or TV station they choose - read any newspaper.
This reality is possible again! We can destroy this den of thieves!

Despite the beatings and the torture and the starvation and the confiscation
of ID cards. The declaration of no-go areas for the MDC, the incarceration
and murder of activist leaders and the taking of political prisoners people
should turn out. Every Zimbabwean who is able to go to the polling station
on Friday must go.
Mugabe has been defeated once and he will be defeated again. Do not be
discouraged by the menacing noises Mugabe and his generals are making about
not accepting defeat - there are forces at work here far greater than Mugabe
and his generals. Let the power of a nation standing in unity bring peace
and hope to heal our land.

Throughout history tyrants have ultimately been defeated by the overwhelming
power of the people. The enduring principles of peace and justice have
always prevailed.

Wilf Mbanga
The Zimbabwean

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NZ Churches Open Letter to their Zimbabwe Counterparts

June 19,  2008

An Open Letter to the Member Churches of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches
and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

We have been deeply disturbed by the continual reports from Zimbabwe of ever
increasing levels of violence and deprivation.  We appreciate that it is an
incredibly difficult time for you as you seek to minister God's love for all
people in the lead up to the presidential run-off election on June 27.  We
are shocked by the rising level of hunger, the lack of medical treatment and
the growing numbers of vicious attacks on people, including those working
for the churches, Christian Care and the Student Christian Movement.

When so many are dependent on relief assistance for their basic supplies we
were saddened to hear that groups including Christian Care can no longer
distribute the food people so desperately need.  What is perhaps saddest of
all is the failure of the Zimbabwe Government to protect its people from
these injustices and its deliberate efforts to interfere with the election.

On this basis, and recognizing the life we share together as the body of
Christ, we ask you to support the right of all Zimbabweans to participate in
safe, free and fair elections on June 27 by speaking out publicly and
directly to those involved.  We believe the churches have a responsibility
to encourage people to vote while assuring them that their efforts will
contribute to the restoration of the country.  At such times it is important
for the churches to stand strongly within the prophetic tradition and speak
out courageously in favour of those who have been made poor at the hands of
the powerful.

In previous elections the international church community has provided
election observers.  Under the current circumstances, when there is so much
international attention and where the results are so critical, it is
important the churches advocate for adequate election observers throughout
the country, including from churches in neighbouring countries, the Vatican,
the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches.

Finally, the ability of reporters to travel widely and safely to report on
what is happening in both national and international media will contribute
greatly to ensuring the elections are free and fair.  We encourage you to
defend this freedom and to support media representatives however you are
able.  The world is watching and we can use the news we receive to
strengthen the international support for free and fair elections in

We assure you that the churches of Aotearoa New Zealand continue to pray for
the people of Zimbabwe, the church community and the long term future of the
country.  Together we are participating in the 'season of prayer' in
response to your great need and in the gospel that proclaims freedom and
hope even when fear prevails.  Be assured that we care very deeply for your
country and long for the day that peace will prevail and hope be restored.

In the Name of the Risen Christ

David Moxon, Co-presiding Archbishop of the Anglican Church
in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia

John A Dew,  Archbishop of Wellington
Roman Catholic Church of New Zealand

Brian Turner, President
Methodist Church of New Zealand

Rodney Macann, National Leader
Baptist Union of New Zealand

Pamela Tankersley, Assembly Moderator
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

W V (Bill) Robinson, Year Meeting Clerk
The religious Society of Friends in Aotearoa New Zealand

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