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Assassins Aim at Zimbabwe Opposition

New York Times
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press

The killing of scores of opposition party workers has turned funerals, like that of Tonderai Ndira, in Harare, into political rallies.

There were rumors his name was on a hit list. For weeks he prudently hid out, but his wife, Plaxedess, desperately pleaded with him to come home for a night. He slipped back to his family on May 12.

The five killers pushed through the door soon after dawn, as Mr. Ndira, 30, slept and his wife made porridge for their two children. He was wrenched from his bed, roughed up and stuffed into the back seat of a double-cab Toyota pickup. “They’re going to kill me,” he cried, Plaxedess said. As the children watched from the door, two men sat on his back, a gag was shoved in his mouth and his head was yanked upward, a technique of asphyxiation later presumed in a physician’s post mortem to be the cause of death.

Zimbabwe will have a presidential runoff election on Friday, an epochal choice between Robert Mugabe, the 84-year-old liberation hero who has run the nation for nearly three decades, and the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. But in the morbid and sinister weeks recently passed, the balloting has been preceded by a calculated campaign of bloodletting meant to intimidate the opposition and strip it of some of its most valuable foot soldiers.

Even as hundreds of election observers from neighboring countries were deployed across Zimbabwe in the past few days, the gruesome killings and beatings of opposition figures have continued.

The body of the wife of Harare’s newly chosen mayor was found Wednesday, her face so badly bashed in that even her own brother only recognized her by her brown corduroy skirt and plaited hair. On Thursday, the bodies of four more opposition activists turned up after they had been abducted by men shouting ruling party slogans.

The strategic killing of activists and their families has deprived the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, not only of its dead stalwarts but also of hundreds of other essential workers who have fled while reasonably supposing they will be next.

At least 85 activists and supporters of the party have been killed, according to civic group tallies, including several operatives who, while little known outside Zimbabwe, were mainstays within it. They were thorns in the side of the government, frequently in and out of jail, bold enough to campaign in the no-go areas where Mr. Mugabe’s party previously faced little competition.

“They’re targeting people who are unknown because cynically they know they can get away with it,” said David Coltart, an opposition senator.

One such target was Better Chokururama, a 31-year-old activist with an appetite for bravado and fisticuffs, nicknamed “Texas” for both the cowboy hats he favored and the moniker of a torture camp from which he once escaped. He was abducted on April 19, and his legs crushed by his captors with boulders.

He said in an interview afterward, as he lay with both legs in casts, that he had told his captors “that beating people would not change anything because the opposition had beaten the governing party, ZANU-PF, in the elections.”

“They laughed loudly,” he said, “then threw me out of the moving vehicle.” Weeks later, he was snatched again, with two other opposition activists; the three bodies were discovered separately and identified by family members.

But the violence has been aimed not only at campaigners but at voters as well. So-called pungwe sessions, the Shona word for all-night vigils, have become common in areas where people once loyal to President Mugabe dared vote against him in the first round of voting on March 29. Villagers are rousted from their homes and herded together. Suspected opposition supporters are then called forward to be thrashed.

In Chaona, a village in Mashonaland Central Province, a man named Fredrick said he was among 10 suspected opposition supporters tortured for five hours under a tree. One man was caught while trying to escape. “They tied his genitals with an elastic band and beat him until he passed out and died,” said Fredrick, who asked that his last name not be used in order to protect himself. He said a second man was killed after his tormentors dripped bubbles of burning plastic on his naked body.

Prosper Mutema, 34, from Mtoko in Mashonaland East, said he was among dozens captured on June 4, taken to a torture camp and beaten all night with sticks and clubs called knobkerries. In the morning, he was ordered to hand over a cow as a “repentance fee.” Lacking so costly an animal, he pleaded for a more modest penitence, eventually winning his freedom with a bucket of maize meal and a chicken.

There have been dozens of killings, thousands of beatings and tens of thousands of people displaced, civic groups, doctors and relief agencies say. Though roadblocks seal off rural areas where most of the abuse is taking place, there are so many surviving victims and witnesses that human rights workers and journalists have been able to catalog much of the brutality. Pain is often inflicted through hours-long pummeling of the soles of the feet and the flesh of the buttocks.

“When Mugabe declares himself the winner, the world must know what he has done,” said the opposition’s director of elections, Ian Makone, who has gone underground and travels only at night. Two of his chief aides have been killed; several others have scattered into exile.

Mr. Mugabe, on the other hand, is campaigning boldly. A vigorous octogenarian, his life span is already more than double the national average in this destitute country, where inflation has gone so berserk that a loaf of bread now costs $30 billion Zimbabwean dollars.

Mr. Mugabe openly portrays the election in the terminology of warfare, a battle to preserve sovereignty against puppets put up by the British, the nation’s onetime colonial masters who in his view want to reclaim the land for white domination. Either he will win, he insists, or he will keep power by force.

“We are not going to give up our country for a mere X on a ballot,” he said in a speech last week. “How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?”

The opposition claims that Mr. Tsvangirai won a majority in the earlier round of voting, and that the government manipulated the count to force a runoff and ready its violent response.

Whatever the actual count, hard-liners in the governing party agreed on a “war-like/military style strategy” to recapture votes that had drifted astray and win a second ballot, according to the minutes of one of their meetings obtained from a ZANU-PF official.

“This is not going to be an election,” said one senior ZANU-PF official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans are secret. “The election happened in March. This is going to be a war. We are going all out to win this, using all state resources at our disposal.”

Army officers were sent to every province to direct the strategy, which eventually employed soldiers, intelligence agents, policemen and paramilitary groups known as war veterans and youth brigades called the green bombers, the senior official said. Ward by ward voting results dictated the campaign’s geography. In the Zaka district of Masvingo, once a reliable ZANU-PF stronghold, Mr. Tsvangirai won in March, and the opposition party also took three of four seats in Parliament and the Senate seat. Reprisals began within weeks.

Names of the opposition’s poll workers had been published in the newspaper as required by law, and these workers seem to have been systematically identified for nighttime beatings. Hundreds of them have since fled, leaving their polling stations vulnerable to ballot stuffing on Friday, said the constituency’s senator-elect, Misheck Marava. He said his wife and children were savagely beaten with chains and whips.

Then, on June 4 at 4:15 a.m., 13 men led by soldiers attacked the local opposition office at Jerera Growth Point, where some of those displaced by violence had sought a haven. At least two men were killed. The office was set afire with gasoline.

As one of survivor of the blaze, Isaac Mbanje, lay with maddening pain in a Harare hospital, skin peeling from his raw wounds and fluids seeping through the bandages on his charred hands, he described his ordeal.

One of the assailants ordered him: “Lie down! Keep quiet!” Then shots were fired from an AK-47. “One of the guys who was shot fell on my body,” Mr. Mbanje said. Then the attackers set both the dead and living alight.

Tichanzi Gandanga, the opposition’s director of elections in Harare, said he was abducted April 23 by men who blindfolded and gagged him and then thrust him into a truck. As the vehicle raced into the countryside, he was badly beaten and stripped before being dumped onto the road, where he was beaten and kicked and then, as he hovered near unconsciousness, run over.

The men attacking him were armed and could have shot him, Mr. Gandanga said. He is not sure why they left him alive, or even if they meant to.

“We had an election machinery with some important foot soldiers,” Mr. Gandanga said. “These soldiers were identified and eliminated.”

Opposition leaders assumed the carnage would stop once election observers arrived to monitor the vote. But that has hardly proved true.

Emmanuel Chiroto, 41, was elected to represent his ward in Harare. Fearful of attacks on his family, he sent his wife, Abigail, 27, and son, Ashley, 4, to stay with her mother outside the city. But on Sunday, fellow city councilors chose him as Harare’s mayor, and his proud wife came home the next day to celebrate, he said.

Soon after she arrived, he was called away because a ward chairman had been beaten up. While Mr. Chiroto was away, two truckloads of men firebombed his home and abducted his wife and child. Opposition party officials hurriedly contacted Tanki Mothae, a Lesotho native who is a key manager of the election monitors from the Southern African Development Community.

“The house was completely destroyed inside,” Mr. Mothae said in an interview. “The furniture, everything, was burned to ashes.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Chiroto’s little boy was dropped off at a police station. Wednesday, his wife’s battered body was found in a Harare morgue.

Mr. Chiroto still has not had the heart to tell Ashley that his mother is dead, he said. The boy told his father he had sat on his blindfolded mother’s lap as she was held captive and then he was left behind as soldiers took her away.

“We need to go get Mommy,” the 4-year-old has told his father over and over. “We have to go! She’s in the bush. Let’s go to Mommy!”

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Death toll rises in Robert Mugabe's reign of terror before election

The Telegraph
Charity Matyaka was lying in bed recovering from an operation when the militia came for her husband Francis, a popular headmaster.
A torture victim is given treatment for his burns in a hospital in Zimbabwe: Death toll rises in Robert Mugabe's reign of terror before election
A torture victim is given treatment for his burns in a hospital in Harare, Zimababwe. He was set on fire by suspected Zanu PF militia

Unable to move, she was forced to watch as they dragged him from the cottage and disappeared into the darkness.

His dismembered body was not discovered until two weeks later - another victim of the reign of terror unleashed by President Robert Mugabe before this week's planned election runoff.

At least 85 people are now known to have died in the violence that followed the first, indecisive round of voting in March. Almost all of them fell to the machetes, guns and clubs of militiamen allied to the ruling Zanu PF party.

Like Mr Matyaka, the victims were all suspected of supporting the opposition Movement for Democrat Change and its presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai.

"My husband's crime was that he showed sympathy to the MDC," said Mrs Matyaka, 34. As she related the story of her husband's death, Mrs Matyaka's voice was firm. But there was no doubting the pain that shot through her words.

Her husband had not only been killed but savagely mutilated. His genitals were cut off and his skin was badly burnt. He had also been shot in the back of the neck.

"They abducted and killed him as I watched," she told The Sunday Telegraph. "He wailed but they kept beating him without talking. Then they drove away in a Mitsubishi truck."

When his body was found by herdsmen, partially clothed and mauled by hyenas, it sent a shudder of anguish through the normally tranquil district of Mutoko, 80 miles east of the capital Harare.

At the now-deserted school, The Sunday Telegraph found little sign of the appalling violence wracking the country or the horrible fate of Mr Matyaka. The only children there had come to mourn their beloved head teacher, who was described by a colleague as always "ready to help".

Echoing the chilling pattern of militia attacks, Mr Matyaka already knew he was in trouble. "A few weeks before his abduction, Francis was called in by Zanu PF," said Mrs Matyaka. "They quizzed him and made him explain why several of his teachers had fled the school. We knew something terrible was coming."

But for all her forebodings, the widow did not expect so fatal, or violent, a denouement. "He told me to take care of the children if anything happened to him, but it never crossed my mind he could be killed just like that," she said.

Even death has not stopped the persecution. Colleagues are too frightened to visit the Matyaka household and the dead man's parents were scared off going to his funeral at Warren Hills Cemetary in Harare.

However, Mr Mugabe appears determined to fight to the end. On Friday he scornfully dismissed the reports of attacks by Zanu PF as "damn lies" and instead shifted the blame for the violence onto the MDC.

"They have been saying their supporters are beaten up by our soldiers," he said at an election rally in the MDC heartland of Bulawayo in southwest Zimbabwe. "They say this so that they can later say the elections were not free and fair. Which is a damn lie."

Most of the violence has been concentrated in the north of the country, particularly in areas that were once seen as solid Zanu PF territory, but which swung towards the MDC in the first round of voting. In the Mashonaland provinces, where the MDC increased its vote by more than 30 per cent from the 2005 elections, the repression has been brutal.

Sokwanele, a non-governmental organisation has compiled details of more than 1,300 political attacks ranging from the wanton destruction of property to vicious murders. The map of terror it has produced vividly shows how government thugs have tried to bring their old heartlands back into line.

Using techniques chillingly reminiscent of those employed to quell backsliders during the liberation war, militiamen have beaten their victims to a pulp. Others had their limbs hacked off or were burnt alive. One brutal technique, known as falanga, is an updated version of the bastinado: beatings administered across the buttocks or soles of the feet so hard that victims are scarred for life and sometimes unable to sit or walk again.

But there are signs that even Mr Mugabe's old allies are sickening at the scale of the violence, with the president of Angola begging Mr Mugabe to "embrace a spirit of tolerance".

For MDC supporters, such outside support could be crucial. All the signs suggest Zanu PF's terrifying campaign is speeding up as election day draws near.

Amnesty International said that 12 bodies were discovered on Thursday. Earlier in the week four young men were murdered in Chitungwiza township near Harare and their bodies dumped by the roadside. More shockingly still, the wife of the mayor of Harare was dragged away from her four-year-old son and beaten to death.

But Mrs Matyaka remains determined to press for change. "I will continue to teach at this school and fend for our children," she said. "They must live in a new Zimbabwe that their father gave his blood for."

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Mugabe rejects opposition violence claims: state media

Yahoo News

Sat Jun 21, 4:08 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's veteran leader Robert Mugabe has said opposition
claims of violence ahead of next week's presidential run-off election are
aimed at tarring the crunch vote, state media reported Saturday.

"They have been saying their supporters are being beaten up by our
soldiers," the Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as telling an election rally
in the second city Bulawayo on Friday.

"They say this so that they can later say the elections were not free and
fair. Which is a damn lie!" the 84-year-old president said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said some 70 of its
supporters have been killed in a campaign of intimidation ahead of Friday's

Its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been detained five times as he has sought
to campaign, and MDC number two Tendai Biti has been charged with subversion
and faces the death penalty.

A court has ordered Biti held in jail until at least July 7 -- well beyond
the run-off date.

Zimbabwe's police chief has said the opposition was the "main culprit"
behind political violence in the country and pledged to employ "all
necessary force" ahead of the run-off.

Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain, was beaten
in the March 29 first-round vote by Tsvangirai, who -- according to official
figures -- did not garner an absolute majority.

He has vowed to keep the opposition from power in his lifetime and pledged
to fight to keep it from happening.

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Zimbabwe police are ordered not to block MDC rally

Monsters and Critics

Jun 21, 2008, 14:34 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - A High Court judge in Zimbabwe ordered police Saturday
not to block a rally planned in Harare Sunday by the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The ruling by Justice Joseph Musakwa overrules a decision by the police to
ban the rally, to be addressed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai before next
Friday's presidential run-off election.

'The judge has ordered the police not to interfere with the intended rally,'
said Alec Muchadehama, the MDC lawyer.

In the first round of the vote in March, Tsvangirai beat President Robert
Mugabe but failed to garner the absolute majority.

Luke Tamborinyoka, MDC director of information, was cautious regarding the
High Court ruling.

'This is good news but it must be remembered that in the past the courts
have granted us permission to hold rallies but Zanu PF militia has blocked
us,' he said.

Tsvangirai has been detained by police five times while campaigning while a
number of MDC leaders are either on the run or in jails.

The run-up to the second round has been marred by violence. The opposition
claims that that the Zanu PF militia and army have killed about 70 of its
supporters and displacing more than 30 000 people.

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Mugabe's tactics ensure there is 'no possibility of fair poll'

National Post, Canada
Campaign of terror

Peter Goodspeed, National Post  Published: Saturday, June 21, 2008


Zimbabweans in Bulawayo voice their support for the Movement for Democratic Change, despite 70 of their colleagues having been killed in the past two months. Getty Images  Zimbabweans in Bulawayo voice their support for the Movement for Democratic Change, despite 70 of their colleagues having been killed in the past two months.

In nightly torture camps in the bush, victims are whipped with coils of barbed wire, steel chains and fan belts torn from tractors or beaten with iron bars, while others, forced to sign their names to possible death lists, are made to watch.

The terrified survivors spend the night singing and chanting songs praising Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's President, and his ruling Zimbabwean African National Unity-Patriotic Front party.

Elsewhere gangs of "war veterans" and members of ZANU-PF's youth militia firebomb the homes of local leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Children and old women have been trapped in the fires and burned to death, or mutilated and dismembered when they try to escape and thrown back into the flames.

On Monday, a day after her husband was elected as the MDC mayor of Harare, Abigail Chiroto, 27, was kidnapped with her four-year-old son by a band of uniformed men who invaded her home and set it on fire. The boy was released unharmed, but Ms. Chiroto's body was found in a mortuary so badly pulverized it was almost unrecognizable.

The campaign of intimidation and punishment under way in Zimbabwe since an indecisive first round of voting in presidential elections in March is reaching a brutal crescendo.

A decade of political and civil opposition to Mr. Mugabe's 28-year reign is culminating in the threat of civil war. There is a growing assumption that if Friday's run-off election goes ahead, Southern Africa's troubles may just be starting.

In the last two months, 70 MDC supporters have been murdered, thousands of people have been beaten or tortured, and at least 25,000 others have fled their homes in terror.

Many of Zimbabwe's impoverished hospitals have run out of plaster bandages used for mending the broken bones of victims of political violence. Human rights activists say the attacks on opposition groups remind them of the 1982-85 massacres by Mr. Mugabe's North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, which murdered more than 20,000 people and crushed all resistance to his government in Matabeleland.

In the Lupane district of Matabeleland, villagers were recently forced to attend a rally where ZANU-PF officials told them only a war veteran could be president. They were warned soldiers will watch them vote and for every vote for the MDC "one person will be shot dead," execution-style, near the polling station.

"The violence has shifted qualitatively," says a report by the church-based Solidarity Peace Trust in Cape Town, South Africa.

"Zimbabwe is sinking fast into the conditions of a civil war, propelled largely by the increasing reliance on violence by the ruling party to stay in power."

The MDC leadership has been decimated in key regions of Zimbabwe, it adds. Supporters have been beaten, maimed, killed and displaced, and those who remain are living under siege in a structured campaign of intimidation.

"The central obstacle to a peaceful transition in Zimbabwe is Robert Mugabe and those elements in his security and political structures for whom a political alternative is unthinkable," said Brian Raftopoulos, the trust's research director.

"The MDC is now in the same position as the country's liberation movements were in the late 1960s, when all peaceful avenues of political expression were cut off and they resorted to armed struggle."

Less than a week before the vote, concerns about a bloodbath are growing.

"If current conditions are maintained, there is no possibility of a credible, free and fair poll," says a report from Human Rights Watch.

"Time has nearly run out for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to make the necessary political interventions to end the violence and ensure a free and fair vote."

In neighbouring Zambia, the country's Roman Catholic bishops have issued an urgent pastoral statement appealing for international intervention.

"Zimbabwe is on the brink of total economic collapse and political destruction and we consider it our duty to raise our voices in solidarity with the suffering people of this sister country and our region," they said.

"The suffering of Zimbabweans is intolerable and beyond any political excuses."

Yesterday, leaders of the European Union threatened to increase sanctions on Zimbabwe if there is not an immediate end to the violence. There were also conflicting reports that Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, may be considering pulling out of the election.

A headline in the South African newspaper Beeld summed it all up: "Election--No. It's a hostage drama."

Mr. Mugabe, for his part, was as intransigent as ever. "The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country -- never, ever," he told an audience of businessmen in Harare. "Only God who appointed me will remove me."

As the horror of Zimbabwe spirals into chaos, African leaders who have been reluctant to publicly criticize one of their continent's revolutionary heroes are suddenly turning on Mr. Mugabe.

On Thursday, Raila Odinga, the Kenyan Prime Minister, described him as a dictator and an embarrassment to Africa.

"It would be best for the international community to insist for Mugabe to step down and send an international peacekeeping force," he said.

"Zimbabwe is an eyesore on the African continent …an example of how not to do it."

Earlier in the week, several retired African presidents and other notables, including Ghana's Jerry Rawlings, Joacquim Chissano of Mozambique, Graca Machel, wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, and former UN secretaries-general Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros Ghali, signed a petition calling on Mr. Mugabe to ensure free and fair elections.

Even Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, who just three months ago insisted there was no crisis in Zimbabwe, has begun to back off from unconditional support for Mr. Mugabe, expressing "serious concern" over the growing violence.

On Wednesday Mr. Mbeki canceled a long-planed trip to Sudan and spent his 66th birthday flying to Zimbabwe to beg Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai to postpone the run-off election and join a transitional government of national unity.

The appeal collapsed when Mr. Mugabe refused even to meet Mr. Tsvangirai.

Mr. Mbeki, who was appointed last year by the SADC to mediate between Zimbabwe's political blocs, has come under increasing criticism for pursuing "quiet diplomacy" while Mr. Mugabe has blithely gone about literally crushing his opposition.

A lame-duck president, who has long preferred backroom negotiations to public confrontation and who, as an exiled member of the African National Congress in the 1980s relied heavily on support from Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Mbeki has insisted Zimbabwe needs to solve its economic meltdown and political crisis through dialogue and negotiation.

"We will continue to insist that the people of Zimbabwe must have the possibility freely to choose their leaders and government and refuse to participate in projects based on the notion that we have a right to bring about 'regime change' in Zimbabwe," he said last week in a speech in South Africa's parliament.

"Reform and change can only be done through a process of collective action by the MDC and ZANU-PF," said Chris Maroleng, a researcher with the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies.

"An electoral solution produces negative outcomes. It enhances the adversarial nature of politics in Zimbabwe.

"The whole run-off scenario to me is a bad idea," he added.

"Unless we see attempts at mediation, we're in for a very difficult ride."

While Mr. Mbeki's supporters claim his "quiet diplomacy" was responsible for the relative transparency that led to the MDC's breakthrough in the March elections, critics are scathing over his refusal to attack Mr. Mugabe publicly.

"By appeasing Mugabe and endorsing every fundamentally flawed election in Zimbabwe, you are complicit in the tyranny that has befallen that country," Helen Zille, leader of South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance said this week.

Mr. Tsvangirai flatly demands Mr. Mbeki step down as a mediator. He accuses him of being partisan, seeking to divide the MDC, blocking UN discussions of Zimbabwe and helping Mr. Mugabe to acquire weapons.

"Your role as mediator is neither appropriate nor effective," he said in a recent letter to the South African President.

"When you started mediating, Zimbabwe still had a functioning economy, millions of our citizens had not fled to other countries and tens of thousands had not yet died from impoverishment and disease. In fact, since the March 29 election, Zimbabwe has plunged into horrendous violence, while you have been mediating. With respect, if we continue like this, there will be no country left."

The arrival of election observers from the Pan-African Parliament and SADC has done nothing to restrain Zimbabwe's violence.

On Thursday, Amnesty International said 12 people were killed in pre-poll violence.

The growing death toll has increased calls to abandon the vote, but it has also renewed the determination of Mr. Mugabe's opponents to defeat him.

"Every trick in the book is being pulled by authorities in Zimbabwe to ensure that they win the run-off," said Nicole Fritz, director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

"My sense though is that insisting that the run-off be abandoned now might be a disservice to the MDC and the democratic forces in Zimbabwe.

"The elections of March 29 were conducted in circumstances that certainly were not conducive to a free and fair election. Yet, we still saw the choice of the people registered.

"I think now, more than ever, that their votes will count on June 27."

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Blanket of fear

Saturday 22nd June 2008

Dear Family and Friends,
A blanket of fear has descended over Zimbabwe as we count down the last few
days before the second Presidential election. Our streets and towns are
seething with police, army and youth brigade members. Our shops are empty of
all basic foodstuffs; filling stations still have no diesel or petrol; water
and electricity supplies are scarce; queues at banks and cash machines are
immense and prices increase at least once every day. The trauma of living
like this has been compounded a hundred fold as now each day brings news of
terror, torture, kidnapping, burning and murder. The reports are of barbaric
behaviour and extreme cruelty and they are coming from all over the country.
The perpetrators move in groups; sometimes they come in the day but more
often it is at night.

A report released this week by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human
Rights contains details of some of the victims of violence seen in the last
month: men and women with broken arms and legs, fingers and toes, soft
tissue damage to face, feet and buttocks; burns, lacerations and bruising.
One patient the doctors described had been: " beaten extensively on the
shoulders, back, buttocks and thighs, was also struck in the face and
suffered a leak of vitreous humour (the transparent gel-like substance
behind the lens of the eye) resulting in blindness."

Alongside the fear of physical violence is the rhetoric from the rallies
whose words are now being quoted around the world. In the last few days Zanu
PF leader Mr Mugabe has said on four different occasions:
"We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for it."
"We are not going to give up our country because of a mere X. How can a
ballpoint fight with a gun?"
"The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country - never ever."
"Only God, who appointed me, will remove me, not the MDC, not the British."

Its hard to know what the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been saying as
he's been detained by police five times, his rallies have been cancelled,
his vehicle has been impounded and his secretary general is in police
custody charged with treason. To further silence the MDC leader, and in
obvious violation of electoral laws, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
said that they wouldn't air campaign adverts from the opposition party.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa defended the ZBC's stance saying that
international coverage favoured the MDC and never reported Zanu PF's

As silenced as Zimbabweans are, hope has come at last from our neighbours
who have begun to speak out. This week Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard
Membe said: "There is every sign that these elections will never be free nor
fair," adding that he and the foreign ministers of Swaziland and Angola
would write to their presidents "so that they do something urgently so that
we can save Zimbabwe."

And now, beaten, bloodied, scared and in a state of mourning, we go to the
polls again. We don't need the rallies and the speeches to know where to
vote on the 27th of June.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy

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South African mediators in Zimbabwe ahead of tense election

Yahoo News

by Fanuel Jongwe 1 hour, 8 minutes ago

HARARE (AFP) - A South African mediation team was in Zimbabwe on Saturday as
part of efforts to resolve the country's political crisis amid mounting
violence ahead of next week's presidential run-off election.

The visit comes with South African President Thabo Mbeki reportedly seeking
to have the June 27 run-off cancelled in favour of talks on forming a
national unity government.

"They are part of the facilitation team, so they have gone there in the
context of the facilitation process," said Mbeki spokesman Mukoni
Ratshitanga, referring to local government minister Sydney Mufamadi and
adviser Mojanku Gumbi.

Facilitation is an official term for the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community's (SADC) mediation efforts for Zimbabwe's political

Ratshitanga refused to comment on reports of Mbeki seeking to shelve the
election as well as any further details of the mediation.

The South African team arrived late Friday, said Ratshitanga, who was unsure
how long they would remain in the country.

SADC has appointed Mbeki mediator for Zimbabwe, and he travelled there
earlier this week, holding separate talks with President Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

South African media have reported that he sought to arrange a first-ever
meeting between the two men, where they would discuss the possibility of
shelving the run-off in favour of a national unity government.

"He has warned that the run-off might exacerbate the situation," The Star
newspaper quoted an unnamed official as saying.

According to the paper, Tsvangirai told Mbeki he was prepared to meet the
Zimbabwean president, but Mugabe was resistant to talks with his run-off

Violence has mounted ahead of Zimbabwe's election, with the opposition
claiming some 70 of its supporters have been killed in a campaign of
intimidation since the first round of the vote on March 29.

Zimbabwe's largest trade union federation, which has routinely criticised
Mugabe's regime, warned on Saturday it "will not accept an outcome from a
flawed election."

"Dozens of people have been murdered in politically motivated violence," the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said in a statement.

"Thousands of people have been threatened with death, beaten, tortured, and
harassed for expressing support for the opposition."

Mugabe has threatened to arrest opposition leaders over the violence, though
the UN has said his supporters were to blame for the bulk of it.

The 84-year-old leader has remained defiant in the face of criticism over
conditions before the vote, dismissing opposition claims of violence in
state media Saturday as a ploy aimed at casting the election as unfair.

"They have been saying their supporters are being beaten up by our
soldiers," the Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as telling an election rally
in the second city Bulawayo on Friday.

"They say this so that they can later say the elections were not free and
fair. Which is a damn lie!"

The opposition was however handed a courtroom victory on Saturday, when a
judge overturned a police ban on its main election rally to be held in the

Police had not given a reason for barring the Sunday rally, said Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

In what the opposition describes as harassment, Tsvangirai has been detained
five times while seeking to campaign, while party number two Tendai Biti has
been charged with subversion and faces the death penalty.

A court has ordered Biti held in jail until at least July 7 -- well beyond
the run-off date.

The opposition has showed signs of division on whether to press ahead with
the campaign amid the violence, and Chamisa has said a meeting is set for
Sunday to discuss the way forward.

Other MDC officials have dismissed talk of pulling out of the race -- a move
that would likely hand victory to Mugabe.

The UN Security Council was also to resume talks Monday on the political
violence and would meet on the outcome of UN troubleshooter Haile
Menkerios's recent mediation mission to Harare, diplomats said.

Menkerios, UN assistant secretary general for political affairs, met with
Mbeki in Pretoria on Friday following his visit to Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round of the vote, but with an official
vote total just short of an outright majority.

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Rice says U.S. to put Zimbabwe on U.N. agenda

Yahoo News

1 hour, 29 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Violence and intimidation threaten Zimbabwe's run-off
presidential election and the United States intends to bring the matter
before the U.N. Security Council next week, U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice said in a radio interview on Saturday.

"This is a very serious matter and the United States does intend to put it
on the agenda of the Security Council next week," Rice told National Public
Radio's Weekend Edition.

The southern African country will hold a run-off presidential election on
June 27 between veteran President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai. Official results showed Tsvangirai won a first round in March,
but did not secure enough votes for an outright victory.

The opposition party, Western nations and human rights groups accuse
Mugabe's supporters of waging a campaign of intimidation ahead of the vote.
Mugabe rejects the allegation.

Echoing comments she made at the United Nations on Thursday, Rice said the
elections would not be unbiased.

"When you have the president of Zimbabwe saying that he'll never accept an
outcome in which the other side wins, or when you have the so-called war
veterans intimidating people and accusing opposition leaders of treason,
it's kind of hard to see how that's going to be a free and fair election,"
Rice said.

The United States, which is this month's president of the Security Council,
has accused Mugabe of turning Zimbabwe into a failed state that threatens
its residents and the stability of southern Africa.

When asked whether she thought the United Nations was prepared to go beyond
passing a resolution on Zimbabwe, Rice said, "We believe that unless the
Security Council acts, it stands to lose credibility."

Earlier this week, diplomats said the council was unlikely to take any
action next week due to opposition from South Africa, Russia and China.

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US govt keeps sharp eye on Zimbabwe run-off


June 21, 2008, 18:15

Manelisi Dubase, Washington
The US government says it will go ahead with its preparation for the June 27
Zimbabwean presidential run-off election, irrespective of the MDC's threat
to withdraw. Yesterday the MDC announced that it was considering pulling out
of the run-off.

State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack says Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice has been engaging African diplomats, including her South
African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on the Zimbabwean crisis. The
two ministers are both attending the UN Security Council meetings in New

McCormack says there is an understanding on both sides about the seriousness
of the situation.

Meanhwile, European Union leaders added their voice by threatening
additional sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his top officials,
if violence continues unabated. At the moment, more than 100 Zimbabwean
officials, including Mugabe, are banned from entering European countries.

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Binga North MDC MP arrested

By Investigations Unit ⋅ © ⋅ June 21, 2008 ⋅  Email This
Post ⋅ Post a comment
Patrick Sibanda,MDC-Binga North., was arrested yesterday, police accuse him
of having had an axe in his vehicle.

Patrick Sibanda was arrested yesterday after his driver whose name is also
Patrick got arrested. They are being charged with carrying a dangerous
weapon. Their vehicle was also impounded.

In Binga 9 MDC supporters have since been arrested for various offences and
are still in jail. They are supposed to go to court today but the court has
been delayed by Mugabe ’s visit to the area. The whole police force have
been called up to listen to what he has to say.

Yesterday all the white residents of Binga we rounded up and taken to the
army barracks for re education. One of the residents (who does not want to
be named) who has been in Binga since before the lake was built was very
badly shaken after the experience. Him and his wife are in their mid 70″s
were told that if they accommodate any MDC members in their lodge again -
they would lose the lodge and more. The lodge was used for a meeting between
support and the campaign leaders on Monday night. The lodge had been block
booked over the election period as base. They have now cancelled the booking
as they are too scared to take the risk.

Meanwhile Harare MDC Chairman,Sen.Morgan Femai,MDC-Chikomo., had his
hardware shop in Mbare looted and destroyed by Zanu youths.

The government crackdown on MDC officials is escalating,as of Saturday 10
MDC House of Assembly and Senate elects have been arrested.

They are :

Also locked up is Eric Matinenga,MDC-Buhera West., and yesterday Shuwa
Mudiwa,MDC-Mutare West., was arrested.

MDC Senator for Bulilima-Mangwe,Sen.Tapela Lutho,MDC-Bulilima-Mangwe., and
Norman Mpofu,MDC-Bulilima East., .

Early this month police also arrested Heya Shoko.,Bikita West. Ian Hamilton
Kay,MDC-Marondera Central., and Amos Chibaya,MDC-Mkoba.,were arrested.

This week police arrested Senator for Kariba, Sen.John Masaba,MDC-Kariba.,
Patrick Sibanda,MDC-Binga North.,Takalani Prince Matibe,MDC-Chegutu West.,

Police have issued warrants of arrest for Elton Mangoma, MDC-Makoni North.,
Mathias Mathew Mlambo MDC-Chipinge East.,

Eliah Jembere,MDC-Epworth.,Pearson Mungofa, MDC-Highfield and Abednico
Nyunde,MDC- Bindura South.

The move is seen as a ploy by ZANU PF to reverse its loss of parliament
after its court challenges were thrown out.

No senior members from ZANU PF have been arrested despite being implicated
in the violence that has claimed to date 88 MDC activists.



They are making the MDC more popular, Even ZANU-PF supporters now are going
to give sympathetic vote… This is just too much… If ZANU-PF continue to
brutalise opponents peolp may never want to be associated with it again ,
what ever the election results.God has suddenly became the electorate in

Posted by dingai | June 21, 2008, 6:19 am

Scarface, is this your democracy?

Arresting so many elected officials is democracy?

Is that what Mugabe claims he gave Zimbabwe? 30 years under the oppression
of a madman, a madman who can’t let younger leaders rule? Why has he not
groomed successors? Do the youth have no chance?

You are delusioned. Your venomous hatred for MDC has blinded you. Open your
eyes and see whar’s going on. The CIO can’t possibly be payingyou enough

Come June 28th, if the election is another Zanu fraud .. I hope the people
have prepared the courage and tools to rise up in revolt and get rid of the
main evil lunatic Zanu leaders.

Posted by Jonah A | June 21, 2008, 8:13 am

Zanu-PF thinks they are so smart and that Zimbabweans are stupid. You are
not giving the Zimbabwean people enough credit Bob - you can beat us and
force people to wear your t-shirts and chant your slogans but we will see
who is laughing on 27 June - as one Councillor said today “suport Zanu-pf

Posted by Babwebird | June 21, 2008, 8:42 am

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Trapped in a Harare nightmare


Saturday 21 June 2008

Less than one week before Zimbabwe's presidential runoff election,
opposition members from the Movement for Democratic Change are being
violently targeted by ruling-party militias. (Report: A. Duval Smith and E.
HARARE - The building's foundation is the only thing left; everything else
vanished into smoke. The remains belong to a municipal councillor of the
Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Harare. Absent during the
fire, his grandmother describes the horrific scene waiting for her when she

"When I came and I saw that that little person of mine was lying like this,
he was lying like this with his hand along to the door and all the matungu
(intestines) were out and I started crying and crying and crying. And I
didn't know that my mrora (daughter in law) was burnt also."

The woman continues: "She (the daughter-in-law) was pregnant. While still
burning she told me 'they kicked me mama.' They kicked her in the stomach."

Her sister-in-law told her the little she knows about the culprits: "She
said they came... five men. They said get in the house. Where is Brian?
Where is the councillor who contested for the MDC? We said, 'we don't know.
He went there'. And they said 'get in the house'. And then my sister-in-law
said they went inside and they threw fire inside and they closed the door."

Singed with third-degree burns, the councillor's wife did not survive the
attack. He was able to escape through the backdoor just before the attackers
arrived. The elderly woman has not received news from him since.

This story is not uncommon in Harare. At least six deputies, senators and
councilmen elected from MDC's ranks on March 29 have disappeared or gone
into hiding. The families of the party's members have been the target of
attacks. The wife of the new mayor of Harare was beaten to death in front of
her four-year-old son.

These victims can be added to at least 70 other assassinated MDC members,
and 25,000 citizens in rural areas who have been displaced by militias to
stop them from going to their respective voting stations for Friday's
presidential run-off.

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Angola urges end to Zimbabwe poll violence

Yahoo News

By Nelson Banya Sat Jun 21, 10:35 AM ET

HARARE (Reuters) - Angola's veteran leader has added his weight to appeals
to Zimbabwe's government to end the political violence and intimidation that
is threatening the legitimacy of its June 27 presidential run-off election.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, an old ally of Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe, sent a message urging him to "embrace a spirit of tolerance,"
Angola's state-run ANGOP news agency said late on Friday.

But, despite signs of growing African discontent over bloodshed that has
escalated since Zimbabwe's March 29 general election, Mugabe vowed never to
hand over power to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change whose
leader Morgan Tsvangirai is his rival in the run-off.

Branding the MDC a puppet of the West, the 84-year-old Mugabe said in
Bulawayo on Friday: "The British and Americans want to play God. They have
given themselves a role which is not their own, of installing and deposing
governments. They want to do the same here but we say to them they are not

The MDC says at least 70 of its members have been killed since that vote,
and Tsvangirai is considering pulling out of the June 27 poll, a spokesman

"President Jose Eduardo dos Santos urged Zimbabwe's leader to embrace a
spirit of tolerance and respect for democratic norms while at the same time
appealing for an end to all acts of intimidation and violence occurring in
that country," ANGOP said.

Some other African nations, the United States and former colonial power
Britain have said they do not believe next week's run-off will be free and

The new appeal to Mugabe carried particular weight coming from dos Santos,
65, who like the Zimbabwean leader, is a former liberation-era guerrilla.

Nearly 30 years in power in his former Portuguese-ruled territory, dos
Santos has himself been at odds with the West, refusing to bow to demands
that he make his government more transparent and democratic.

The 14-nation Southern Africa Development Community is sending 380 monitors
to Zimbabwe for the vote. Zimbabwe has refused to admit Western observers
and ignored Britain's request that international rights officials be allowed
into the nation.

Mugabe's government has also slashed the number of Zimbabwean observers who
will be on hand for the election, according to the Zimbabwe Elections
Support Network, which had nearly 9,000 observers for the March election.

"We only got invitations for 500 observers," Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, the
national director of ZESN, said.


Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the March vote but fell short of the outright
majority needed to avoid a second round, according to official results.

The MDC leader has been detained five times during his campaign and MDC
Secretary-General Tendai Biti remains in custody facing a treason charge and
other offenses. Biti is accused of leaking results of the March elections

He faces a death sentence if convicted.

Tsvangirai is to address a rally in Harare on Sunday after a court on
Saturday overturned a police ban on the event. "The High Court has granted
the MDC permission to go ahead with the rally tomorrow," MDC spokesman
Nelson Chamisa said.

Mugabe is fighting to cling onto power in the country he has ruled since
independence from Britain in 1980. Once prosperous, its economy is now
ruined and millions have fled the political and economic crisis to
neighboring states.

In his Bulawayo speech, he denied security forces were using brutal tactics
against the opposition.

"They (the MDC) have been saying their supporters are being beaten up by our
soldiers. They say this so that they can later say the elections were not
free and fair, which is a damn lie," the state-controlled Herald newspaper
quoted him as saying.

(Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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UN Official Meets S. African Leader Over Zimbabwe

Scoop, NZ

Sunday, 22 June 2008, 6:18 am
Press Release: United Nations

Senior UN political official meets South African leader after visit to
20 June 2008 - Senior United Nations political aide Haile Menkerios met with
South African President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria today, following a five-day
visit to neighbouring Zimbabwe, which has been beset by deadly political
violence since the first round of the presidential election on 29 March.

Mr. Menkerios, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, was
dispatched to Zimbabwe by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an attempt to
reduce political tensions ahead of the run-off round of the presidential
election set for 27 June.

"It appears that he will remain in the area for some additional days," UN
spokesperson Michele Montas told journalists in New York.

During his visit to Zimbabwe, Mr. Menkerios met with President Robert Mugabe
and Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), the two men who will face each other in next week's run-off. He also
held talks with the Foreign Minister, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
church leaders and civil society groups, including human rights

Mr. Ban and other top UN officials have called for an immediate end to the
hostilities, cautioning that the ongoing violence threatens the credibility
of the upcoming polls.

The current political crisis is also compounding an already deep social,
economic and humanitarian crisis, in a country where as many as 4 million
people are in need of help.

The Security Council will meet on Zimbabwe on Monday, when it will be
briefed by the UN's top political official, Under-Secretary-General B. Lynn

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We have failed to feed the nation - Mugabe

June 21, 2008

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO - President Robert Mugabe has openly admitted that his government
has failed to provide food for millions of starving people, but said that
should not be the reason why people should vote against him on Friday.

Addressing party supporters in Mwenezi at Sarahuru business centre Mugabe
said his government had, indeed, failed to provide food to the starving
people but hinted that the situation would soon improve.  " We have failed
as a government to feed the nation because we had not secured enough food to
feed the people", said Mugabe.

"I know some of you are very angry because of hunger but let me assure you
that the government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has since imported
over 5 000 tonnes of Maize from South Africa to feed the people".

"We have tried our level best as a government to address all the economic
challenges that you are facing but the only problem is that most of the
companies in the country are foreign owned'.

"Now that we have identified the problem we are going to make sure that our
own people run crucial companies so that our people benefit".

Mugabe, who faces his stiffest challenge from MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
on Friday June 27, took his campaign trail to Masvingo province where he
addressed three rallies yesterday.

He first flew to Sarahuru Business Centre in the morning and later addressed
two rallies at Nyika Growth Point in Bikita before addressing his last rally
in the evening in Gutu.

About 10 people have so far died in politically motivated violence in

The rallies were attended by SADC observers many of whom expressed concerns
over the failure by the government to allow the opposition to campaign
freely during the run up to the presidential election run-off.

An observer from Botswana who refused to be named said: " The fact that the
opposition MDC is not holding rallies confirms that the opposition has been
barred from doing so".

"We are going to include this in our reports and it is very worrying".

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Bunge Backs Tough Stand On Zimbabwe

The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

21 June 2008
Posted to the web 21 June 2008

Tom Mosoba
Dar es Salaam

A parliamentary committee yesterday endorsed the Government's tough stance
on Zimbabwe, saying it fully supports the official sentiments of the members
of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

The chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, Security
and Defence, Mr Wilson Masilingi, said they agreed with the official
denunciation of the state-sponsored violence just a week before the election
run-off pitting President Robert Mugabe against MDC candidate Morgan

The statement issued by the MP for Muleba at the National Assembly in Dodoma
was in response to Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation minister
Bernard Membe's warning in Dar es Salaam on Thursday that Tanzania was
appalled by President Mugabe's style, which threatened to plunge the country
into chaos.

Nominated MP Anna Abdullah said that while the Government's statement was
positive, it had, however, taken too long for it to denounce the breakdown
of law and order and condemn the rampant human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Speaking to The Citizen, Mr Masilingi and Ms Abdullah said that "even though
Zimbabwe is a sovereign state, Tanzania has a historical stake and can,
therefore, not keep quiet as that country spirals into anarchy".

Earlier, in her contribution to the Budget debate, Ms Abdullah said: "It's
good that the Government has issued a condemnation of Zimbabwe even though
this should have come earlier. Tanzania, as the current chair of the African
Union, must be in the forefront in condemning what is going on in Zimbabwe."

Later, she told The Citizen that President Mugabe deserved to be condemned
by his fellow African leaders for trying to cling to power by force.

"Our country supported Zimbabwe's struggle for independence but it was not
so that he could become the President for life," she said.

Zimbabwe, she added, was neither a chieftainship nor a kingdom.

"Democracy and the rule of law must be respected," she said, denouncing
recent reports that quoted Mr Mugabe and his wife, Grace, threatening not to
hand over power should he be defeated in run-off poll.

Mr Masilingi said he had been shocked by a report of the Sadc political
committee, which confirmed gross human rights abuses and mounting insecurity
against the people of Zimbabwe and election monitors.

"We share the Government's concern and urge the relevant organs of the Sadc
member countries follow closely all that is happening in Zimbabwe."

The MP said President Mugabe must cooperate with fellow regional leaders to
make sure the re-run election was free and fair.

"It is in the interest of the people of Zimbabwe as well as the region to
have peaceful and democratic elections," Mr Masilingi said.

In an indication that gone are the days when Zimbabwe took Tanzania's
support for granted, Foreign minister Membe on Thursday cast doubt on the
possibility of a free and fair election on June 27.

He told journalists in Dar es Salaam: "I want to tell you what I told fellow
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) members. We have got evidence
that the elections will not be free and fair."

He added: "Zimbabwe has been our great friend. We have stood by them since
the Lancaster agreement on land issues in 1980, but on governance issues, we
have started to differ with the incumbent president."

Last week, President Mugabe vowed to "go to war" to prevent the Movement for
Democratic Change from taking power - as the race for the presidency entered
its final phase.

"We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for it," he told
a rally of cheering supporters.

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West African team leaves to monitor Zimbabwe poll


LAGOS, June 21 (AFP)

A 30-member observer team from the ECOWAS west African regional bloc has
left for Harare to monitor Zimbabwe's presidential run-off due next week, a
statement said on Saturday.

"Six members of staff of the ECOWAS Commission will support the delegation,
which includes eminent persons from the region," the Economic Community of
West African States (ECOWAS) said in a statement.

It said the team, led by Nigeria's former military ruler Yakubu Gowon would
monitor Friday's poll in Harare and other provinces pitting veteran ruler
Robert Mugabe against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

ECOWAS chief Mohamed Ibn Chambas said it was the first time that the bloc
would oversee elections outside the region and described the move as a
gesture of solidarity the people of Zimbabwe.

On March 29, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round of the presidential
election, but election officials said he fell short of an outright majority
and must face Mugabe in the run-off next Friday.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has accused the government of
unleashing a campaign of intimidation and violence ahead of the election.

Mugabe meanwhile has vowed to keep the opposition from power in his lifetime
and pledged to fight to keep it from happening, sparking concern worldwide
and calls for intervention by African leaders and regional groups.

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Brown condemns Zimbabwe violence, calls for UN probe

Yahoo News

Sat Jun 21, 11:49 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Saturday condemned
pre-election violence in Zimbabwe, calling for a thorough international
probe to be carried out into alleged human rights violations.

"I condemn those orchestrating the latest horrific escalation of violence,"
Brown said in a statement issued by his office before he headed to Saudi
Arabia for a summit on the oil crisis.

"They must immediately end the violence, allow local and international
monitors complete access and co-operate with the UN to allow a full
investigation of the human rights abuses."

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said that some 70 of
its supporters have been killed since the first round of the presidential
elections on March 29.

They, human rights groups and Western powers have also said that the
presidential run-off between MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President
Robert Mugabe has already been tainted by violence.

Mugabe on Saturday dismissed the claims in state media, saying they were a
ploy to cast the June 27 vote as unfair. Zimbabwe's police chief has also
said the MDC was the "main culprit" behind the violence.

Britain was the colonial power in the former Rhodesia until 1980. Mugabe
frequently accuses London of stirring up unrest and backing the MDC

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Zimbabwe Labor Group Warns It Won't Accept `Flawed' Vote Result


HARARE (AFP)--Zimbabwe's largest trade union federation warned Saturday it "
will not accept an outcome from a flawed election," in a statement ahead of
this week's presidential run-off.

"We hereby resolve that we will not accept an outcome from a flawed election
and that the government immediately disband bases and unofficial roadblocks
manned by youth militia," the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said in a
statement issued following a meeting.

The federation has routinely criticized President Robert Mugabe's regime.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Zimbabwe opposition chief says 'no one has right' to cancel run-off



Zimbabwe opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday said "no one has the
right to cancel an election", amid suggestions next week's run-off could be
shelved for unity government talks.

"Legally, no one has the right to cancel an election," Tsvangirai said in a
message to supporters received here.

"But as we know, the regime is trying to make the situation on the ground so
terrible that they hope the runoff election -- an election they will lose -- 
will be cancelled."

He added, referring to the date when he faces President Robert Mugabe in the
run-off election: "It is not the decision of the regime or the international
community to silence the people of Zimbabwe on 27 June."

Tsvangirai urged supporters to vote despite pre-poll violence, saying, "My
fellow Zimbabweans, are we brave enough to cast our ballots again? I believe
your answer is yes."

A South African mediation team was in Zimbabwe on Saturday as part of
efforts to resolve the country's political crisis amid mounting violence.

The visit comes with South African President Thabo Mbeki reportedly seeking
to have the run-off cancelled in favour of talks on forming a national unity

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has showed signs of
division on whether to press ahead with the campaign amid the violence, and
a party spokesman has said a meeting is set for Sunday to discuss the way

Other MDC officials have dismissed talk of pulling out of the race -- a move
that would likely hand victory to Mugabe.

The MDC's main pre-election rally was also set to go ahead in the capital on
Sunday after a court overturned a police decision to bar it.

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New breed of tobacco farmers come to terms with reality, France

Confused farmers see only one way out

ZIMBABWE'S new breed of farmers created by Robert Mugabe's chaotic and
violent seizures of farmers from whites are a bitter lot. Those who ventured
into tobacco cultivation are angry with the government.

Saturday 21 June 2008, by Bruce Sibanda

Since the auction floors opened up some weeks ago hundreds of farmers have
turned the Tobacco Sales Floor along Willowvale Road in the industrial
suburb of Southerton of Harare their home.

A good number of farmers have been waiting ever since their tobacco went
under the hammer to get their pay cheques and return home. Most of them are
first-time tobacco growers.

Angela thinks they are "very rude"

I spent some time with the farmers and they had no kind words for the Mugabe

Angela Marimo is from Chinhoyi and says she had no idea that selling their
tobacco would take that long, and was anxious about the safety of her
children back home especially during the current violent election campaigns.

She said "I don't think I will be growing tobacco again," she tells me
dejectedly, wincing from the pain of the smoke stinging her eyes. "I had no
idea it would be such a hassle. I am worried about my children back home.
They are all alone. The oldest is just in Form 4. Can you believe that we
came here with just two pairs of clothes?"

As first-time tobacco growers, she said she had come unprepared for a long
stay in Harare and admit their stay has been a nightmare. At as early as 5am
Angela and scores of others wake up to boil water for their husbands and
make breakfast for him in aluminium tins picked up in a bin in the
industrial area.

For a bath they are just content with only two or three handfuls of water on
his face, under the circumstances.

Breakfast is roast sweet potatoes cooked overnight using the fire with which
they warmed themselves during the night to save firewood, which is

"On Thursday last week names for the cheques that were ready were read out.
My name was not there," Angela continues. "Nobody has told us what is going
on. They are very rude. They snap at us and tell us 'go back home, your
money is coming'. Some are lucky. They got part payments."

When males leave for the auction floor to wait for their payments and sell
their tobacco, women take turns to stay on guard and take a quick bath
behind the tobacco floors.

"If you are on guard you have to make sure when you see a man approaching
you whistle so that the other women bathing cover themselves up," Tarisayi
Chirondza joins in.

"At first I was ashamed to take a bath in the open but now I am used to it
because I realise there is no other way."

After bathing the women take "stroll" into the high-density suburbs nearby
to look for firewood.

They charge exorbitant prizes for food.

By the time they return, it's time to prepare lunch for their husbands.
Behind the Tobacco Sales Floor along Eltham Road where most of the farmers
have set up temporary shelter, there are no lavatories and farmers and their
families resort to the bush after hours.

With no water supply in the area, there are fears that a disease outbreak is
imminent, especially in the absence of the proper toilet facilities.

To add to the growing population at the Tobacco Sales Floor during the day
are the many cross-border traders and informal food vendors who have set up
mini-markets there to take advantage of the huge captive market.

This year's market better than last year's?

By June 6, Zimbabwe had earned US$44 million from both contract and auction
tobacco sales at all three floors since the tobacco selling season begun
over a month ago.

Meanwhile, tobacco deliveries continue to rise with the latest figures from
the TIMB showing that 21,8 million kilogrammes have been sold at the three
floors since the beginning of the selling season.

This compares favourably with 24,5 million kg that were sold at an average
price of US$2,19 during the corresponding period last year. The 21,8 million
kg, which were sold at an average price of US$3,13 earned the country
US$68,6 million against US$53,8 million earned for the same period last

A total of 13,2 million kg worth US$40,6 million were sold under contract
while 8,5 million kg worth US$27,9 million were sold under individual sales.

A total of 74 672 kg of burley has been sold at an average price of US$1,64
realising US$122 145 so far. This compares with 52 213 kg that were sold at
an average price of US$1,69 realising US$88 290 during the same period last

No profits just a high inflation

However, farmers recently tore up their tobacco crop in protest on the
auction floors as state price controls to combat hyperinflation threatened
to wipe out their profits.

"The price is useless, we would rather keep my tobacco and sell to buyers
from Malawi or Zambia," they said.

Some farmers tore up their bales and flicked tobacco leaves across the floor
as other ripped off tags placed on their bales by the auctioneers that
showed prices as low as one dollar (0.64 euros) per kilogramme (2.2 pounds).

At the time of protests authorities had kept the official exchange rate at
30,000 Zimbabwe dollars for one US dollar since September last year but on
the thriving black market one US dollar can be exchanged for around a 100
million Zimbabwe dollars.

After weeks of being subjected to inhuman living conditions, tobacco farmers
will get a chance of going back to their villages as the country's three
tobacco sales floors will close temporarily on Tuesday next week to pave way
for the June 27 Presidential run-off.

TIMB acting chief executive, Dr Andrew Matibiri said in a statement on
Wednesday that the resolution was taken by the TIMB board at its meeting
held on Thursday last week.

"The board resolved to temporarily close all tobacco sales on Tuesday June
24, 2008 and re-open them on Monday 30th June 2008. "This decision was taken
to enable tobacco growers to get their payments and travel back to their
farms and homes in time for the Presidential run-off election," Dr Matibiri

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The Netherlands supports Zimbabwean human rights lawyers

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

20 Jun 2008 | Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen is deeply concerned about the
Mugabe government’s campaign of intimidation and violence in the run up to
the second round of presidential elections in Zimbabwe on 27 June.

Mr Verhagen expressed his concerns to Zimbabwean human rights activist
Arnold Tsunga whom he met today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an
exchange of views regarding the upcoming election.

Arnold Tsunga left commercial law practice more than ten years ago to
establish Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights. Since then, ZLHR has grown
into a professional guild for human rights lawyers in Zimbabwe. Over the
2007-2010 period, the Dutch embassy in Zimbabwe will contribute €1.3 million
to ZLHR from the Netherlands’ Human Rights Fund. Tsunga is now Director of
the Africa Regional Programme at the International Commission of Jurists, an
international network whose activities include promoting human rights.

In the run up to the elections, many human rights lawyers have been targeted
by the campaign of violence. A number have been arrested over the past few
weeks. ‘The violence unleashed by the Zimbabwean regime is making prospects
of a free, fair and peaceful second round very bleak indeed,’ said Mr
Verhagen. He urged the international community, and especially Zimbabwe’s
neighbouring countries, not to close their eyes to these persistent, blatant
violations of human rights.

The Minister praised the work of organisations such as the International
Commission of Jurists and Tsunga’s own Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights,
which play an important role in documenting human rights violations and
tackling impunity. That work is more important than ever at this moment,
said Verhagen.

The Netherlands has contributed €1.6 million from the Human Rights Fund to
civil society organisations in Zimbabwe, and the embassy in Harare maintains
close contact with them. These organisations and other human rights
defenders also receive Dutch support through cofinancing organisations and
the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

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A Nation of 'Sheep in Wolves Skin'

      By Lee Shungu, on June 21 2008 11:37

In a country where it is now punishable to support the
opposition political party, many Zimbabweans opt to keep mum, and vow to
face the country's dictator Robert Mugabe in the voting booth next week on
the 27th June.

  People no longer make political statements or utterances in
public, fearing ZANU PF state security agents, youth militia and uniformed
forces who are currently on a rampage murdering and torturing citizens.

In a survey around one of the main opposition party, MDC
strongholds- the capital Harare, many have resorted to 'hide' from the ZANU
PF terror through 'identifying' themselves with the ruling party.

In this situation, which has caused a lot of independent
journalists to go underground, this article is mainly based on remarks and
comments passed by Harare residents in his (reporter's) presence.

A number of people now have ZANU PF regalia, especially
T-shirts. Many of them say they wear them so as to conduct their day to day
activities without any harassment from the notorious youth militia.

This reporter bumped into one neighbour- a Disk Jockey (DJ)
wearing a ZANU PF T-shirt.

Without even greeting each other, the DJ quickly defended why he
had the T-shirt on.

  "I am doing it for safety's sake. The ruling party youths are
after me in our area. They gave me this T-shirt, and even come home looking
for me."
"They are going to beat-up people in night clubs tonight
(Friday). Don't ever go drinking tonight. It's best if you stay at home."

"Only if they knew I am not interested in their party and voting
for Mugabe," he said.
Mugabe has reportedly refused to succumb to recent pressure from
South African president Thabo Mbeki, among other African and Western leaders
to stop violence and shelve the presidential election run-off.

The aging leader reportedly refused to meet Tsvangirai over
negotiations whilst insisting he will stay in power until 'he finishes his
mission'- of distributing land and other resources to Zimbabweans.

Many touts in the city can be seen putting on ZANU PF regalia on
a daily basis.

One hinted this makes his life much more easier and safer.

"The political situation in this country has become very tense,
whereby it is very risky to be aligned to the opposition."

"Anywhere, we shall meet on 27 June. That is when the truth will
be known," he said.

Regional support for Mugabe is fast fading with many leaders
indicating it will be difficult to endorse the election if Mugabe wins.

Almost each and very commuter bus and kombi has stickers and or
posters of Mugabe on it. Even the drivers also wear ZANU PF T-shirts.
On Friday, the ruling party youth militia went around the suburb
of Warren Park 'informing' residents there would be a rally the following
day (Saturday 22 June) in the same area.

One resident said the group instructed businesses to close by
11am on Saturday, and every resident will be required to attend the rally-
which is rumored to be addressed by Mugabe and other top party chefs.

"They said they are going to come here again tomorrow morning
and will go door by door driving people out- to the rally venue."

"We have been discussing this with my family, and for safety
reasons, we have to go there."

   "There is nothing we can do. If we don't attend, we might be
beaten just like what is happening to others. We have to fake it," he said.
Mugabe is facing a great challenge of staying in office as the
poll will take place in a country dogged by economic problems caused by his
government's weak policies and not excluding violence.

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SADC worried about handling of Zimbabwe's run-off poll

Afrique en ligne

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Employ ers Group Friday
expressed concern at 27 June elections in Zimbabwe, saying it was disturbed
and concerned at the manner the elections were being handled.

The SADC group said the situation had worsened the economic and social
conditions in Zimbabwe, to the extent that the entire SADC region was
threatened, if the situation persisted.

"We are perturbed at the manner with which SADC political leaders
conveniently reneged on their responsibilities and did not attempt to nip
the festering problem of Zimbabwe in the bud, thus allowing it to
deteriorate to the point where a win -win situation appears impossible," a
statement released by the SADC Employers G r oup stated.

The group called on the SADC political leadership to ensure the conditions
set out for free and fair elections were upheld, saying the violence that
had characterised the period leading to the run-off called for condemnation,
swift and decisive intervention by SADC.

"We believe it is not too late for SADC political leaders to live up to
their responsibilities and save this country from the current chaos, which
has led to the collapse of law and order and of the entire economy.

"Each day the situation is allowed to continue adds to many years required
to rebuild the country.

"Indications are that the June re-run of the presidential elections will not
lead to peace nor restore an atmosphere that will be conducive to the
restoration of peace and economic recovery.

"Such a situation cannot be allowed in view of the many social ills the SADC
region has to contend with: poverty, unemployment, hunger, HIV/AIDS, which
require a concerted effort from all countries in our region," the statement

Lusaka - 20/06/2008


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PAP observer condemns violence

The Zimbabwean

Saturday, 21 June 2008 06:28

HARARE - The Pan African Parliament (PAP) observer mission in Zimbabwe
to monitor next week's presidential run-off has described the current
political environment as, "regrettable and unfortunate."
Head of the mission and Swaziland Member of Parliament, Marwick
Khumalo, told journalists on June 18 that the forthcoming election was
different from the March 29 polls, which were held in a peaceful and
enabling environment.
"The violence is very worrying and we have utterances from politicians
which are very unfortunate. The war utterances do not add value to the
electoral process in this country. Since we arrived here we have been
responding to concerns from parties and we have investigated some of them,"
Khumalo said.
The mission met a man who was no longer living at his home as a result
of the ongoing political violence and showed them a grave of his wife who
was killed in the disturbances.
 "It is regrettable that violence has resurfaced and now our task is
going to be very difficult. We now have to observe as well as investigate
the issues of violence," Khumalo said.
The MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has claimed that over 60 supporters
of the party have been killed since the March elections and thousands
displaced, particularly in the rural areas. They blame the government for
the violence.
World attention is again shifting to Zimbabwe ahead of the vote on
June 27.
Zanu (PF) presidential candidate, Robert Mugabe, has announced that
the country will never be ruled by the MDC. He accused them of being used by
Britain and the United States to effect regime change. He threatened "war"
to ensure that he remained in power regardless of the outcome of the poll.

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Judge who took on Mugabe happy with humble NZ job

Stuff, NZ

KRISTIAN SOUTH - Sunday News | Sunday, 22 June 2008

A HEROIC judge, whose fight against injustice cost him his fortune and
nearly his life in his homeland, is handing out free legal advice to needy

Former Zimbabwe High Court judge Ben Paradza was forced to flee his country
after being convicted of conspiring against the Robert Mugabe regime.

Ben was smuggled out in early 2006 after being convicted of corruption for
not ruling in favour of the oppressive government including the overturning
of a decision to evict 54 white Zimbabwean farmers from their land.

He was forced to leave his wife and three children behind as friends
smuggled him across the border into South Africa, narrowly getting out
before an arrest warrant was issued by police to border posts.

Ben, 50, went into hiding for five months before eventually flying to New
Zealand after being guaranteed refugee status.

"Some sympathisers came to me after I was convicted and told me they (the
Zimbabwe government) were going to kill me and it was very risky for me to
remain. Some friends of mine took me and drove me across the border," he
told Sunday News.

"Once I was in South Africa, I was helped by human rights lawyers and given
a temporary residence pass but I didn't feel safe there.

"I spent most of my time indoors and hiding. There were too many of Mugabe's
people roaming around and gaining information. It was a very scary time. I
was living in fear.

"Eventually, I was linked up with New Zealand by the United Nations and was
told I could come and live here with my family."

Once in New Zealand, Ben was reunited with wife Olga, 45, and children
Takutzwa, 23, Kuda, 20 and Fadzai, 15.

"While I was in South Africa I had very little contact with my family. I
could only contact them through other people because it was too risky. The
calls could have been traced and they would have been tortured for my
whereabouts," he said.

Despite having been one of the highest ranking Zimbabwe judges, Ben has had
to study for a New Zealand law degree to be admitted to the bar here.

He is now working for a community law centre in Porirua, where he is
dedicating his life to helping Kiwis with his expert legal knowledge as an
employment consultant.

"I'm very comfortable helping people. It's something that gives me joy and
satisfaction to know that I am helping the community.

"A lot of people would say that it is a long way to go from being a judge
but I don't see it like that," Ben said.

"I just feel like a normal person, a lawyer who is here to make a difference
and help as many people as I can

"New Zealand has been a real place of healing for me. With all the crisis
that I've been through, you really need a place to heal and this country has
really provided that for me and my family."

Ben said New Zealand had been a welcome change after feeling the full brunt
of the oppressive Mugabe regime, which has been criticised by the United
Nations for its horrific abuse of human rights.

"New Zealand is a great example of how democracy should be. The government
is not going about killing and committing crimes," he said.

"There is a silent genocide going on in Zimbabwe. There are horrendous
examples of killing and violence every day. By comparison, New Zealand is a
safe country."

And with the final round of elections taking place in Zimbabwe this week,
Ben warned Mugabe would hold on to power at all costs.

"I believe he will lose the election very badly but he will announce his own
results. He will rig the elections," Ben said.

"There is no democracy in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is just there to plunder his own
people and as we speak, people are dying.

"If only the international community could assist Zimbabwe in fighting to
get their country back.

"Unless the international community moves in full force now, Zimbabwe will
continue to be ruled by Mugabe's regime."

Despite his new-found love of New Zealand, Paradza says he hopes one day to
be able to return to his homeland.

"If I was to go back to Zimbabwe right now, I would be a dead man," he said.

"I want to go back home one day.

"I still have family there and I want to talk and laugh with them. I think
that one day, when Mugabe is gone, I will be able to return.

"While my conviction will make it difficult, I know that a democratic
government will be able to see that it is just a political conviction."

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SATIRE .......

Robert Mugabe Wins Zimbabwe's Got Talent

Robert Mugabe has won Zimbabwe's Got Talent after controversially banning everyone else from entering the competition.

Mr Mugabe also presented the show, acted as the three judges, as well as perform with two spoons and a washboard.

Zimbabwe's Got Talent
Zimbabwe's Got Talent

Robert Mugabe also won Zimbabwe Idol in January this year, Zimbabwe's Most Smartest Model in May and Big Bob Brother earlier this month.

Ratings for the government controlled show were 100%, a survey discovered that viewer satisfaction was 100%.

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