The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Reporter's Notebook: Witnessing the genocide in Zimbabwe

By Peta Thornycroft
Saturday, June 21, 2008 16:29

Peta Thornycroft has spent more than 25 years reporting on Zimbabwe
under Robert Mugabe's increasingly despotic rule. In a dispatch ahead of
Friday's election, she reveals why she has never felt more despairing about
the country's future … yet hopes that the courage of her fellow Zimbabweans
will prevail,

Sitting outisde the Harare magistrates' court last week, an idle
conversation sprang up among some of us waiting for Tendai Biti to be
charged with high treason.

Mr Biti is the secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic
Change, and was arrested 10 days ago, accused of calling for Robert Mugabe
to face war crimes charges and of "projecting the president as an evil man".

In fact he never did any such thing, and the "evidence" produced
against him is a shabby document thought to have been forged by the state
security services.

Yet the sentiment it contains is shared by much of the world; only in
Zimbabwe could the accusation that you had expressed it land you in the dock

I was waiting for Mr Biti's court appearance in my capacity as a
reporter, a job I've been doing in Zimbabwe ever since Mr Mugabe took power
in 1982. Sitting next to me on the steps, meanwhile, was a man in his early
20s, whose neat but threadbare clothes marked him out as a resident of one
of Harare's many ghetto areas.

We had never met before, and in the tensions of present-day Zimbabwe,
one is careful with whom one strikes up conversation, yet one thing about
him gave me the signal that it was safe to chat away to him away like an old

Under his arm he carried a carefully rolled up copy of the Zimbabwe
Herald, a weekly newspaper which carefully documents the victims of
state-sponsored violence here, and names the guilty in a column called Roll
of Shame.

It is printed in South Africa, and these days the trucks that bring it
in are occasionally fire bombed, but I know that anybody who goes to the
trouble of buying it shares my concern about the brutality that has engulfed
our country, and is therefore well worth talking to.

Such is the way that humanity prevails here: just as belonging to the
wrong organisation can get you killed on the spot, carrying the right
newspaper can make you immediate friends. There was no need to sound each
other out beforehand: just an unspoken kinship, an understanding that we are
all in this together.

Our conversation was sparked by the arrival of a smart 4x4 utility
vehicle, chrome add-ons glinting in the warm winter sun, which pulled into
the parking area set aside for court officials.

As a tall man in a tight suit stepped out and walked purposefully
towards the court building, we glanced at each other and started playing a
game to pass the time. It has no name, but you might call it "Guess the
Goon", or "I Spy a Spy with my little eye".

After a quarter of a century under an increasingly autocratic
government, there are very few Zimbabweans who haven't learnt its rules.
Here is how we play it.

The one sure-fire clue we had was the man's smart suit and smart car:
these days, the only people prospering tend to be regime officials, usually
those associated in some way with the security apparatus and the corrupted
justice system.

Could he be a magistrate, we wondered? No: most magistrates are still
quite poor because they have not been bribed as much as the judges.

Could he be a prosecutor? Perhaps – they have become increasingly
crooked in the past few months. But something else marked him out to us as
more sinister altogether – he was clearly out of shape and had well-kept

That is the look of the well-paid bureaucrat, but it is also the look
of torture chiefs, who usually hire unemployed people to do their dirty work
for them: first, because they are not physically fit enough to dish out
beatings themselves, and second, because like most bullies they are often
cowards at heart.

It may sound as if my new friend and I were suffering from paranoia,
but we were not. I have met several torture chiefs over the years, and know
the breed far better than I ever wanted to. For the sake of those who were
in court last Monday, though, I sincerely hope I am wrong.

The occasional trust and friendship I can find in complete strangers
is one of the few things that gives me hope for Zimbabwe right now. It cuts
across the race divide: Mr Mugabe always reminds me that I am white, but on
the streets, nobody cares about my colour.

Otherwise, though, I find it hard to find any grounds for optimism,
given the endless slew of increasingly grim stories I have covered here over
the past decade: the attacks against white farmers in the late 1990s, the
165,000 per cent hyperinflation from the resulting destruction of the
economy, the interference in March's disputed election results, and – most
terrifyingly of all – the recent blatant onslaught against opposition
supporters, which has claimed more than 80 lives so far.

It is, right now, impossible to imagine a day when Mr Mugabe will not
be in power, or to imagine waking up in Zimbabwe one morning without feeling
angry. It is so painful that I have to shut out warm memories of childhood
in the mountains of eastern Zimbabwe because there are too many gaps, too
many gone, too much decay, too much misery.

In recent days South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, has again
suggested that Friday's run-off election in Zimbabwe should be halted for
talks on a unity government, in which the MDC and Mr Mugabe would share
power. But those of us of with long memories know just how that might end

One of the first major stories I covered here was in 1982, when more
than 20,000 members of the Ndebele tribe were killed by Mr Mugabe's troops,
their main crime being opposition to his rule.

Five years later the then opposition leader, Joshua Nkomo, accepted a
unity accord under which he and his Zapu party would rule alongside Mr
Mugabe's Zanu PF party. But Nkomo loyalists now admit that they only backed
the accord because it stopped their families being slaughtered, and the
price they paid was their own party being completely swallowed up by Zanu

It is still possible that the MDC might be tempted, under the current
duress, to accept joining a similar unity government – but if they do, let
us just hope that this time things turn out rather differently.

There are, despite everything, some reasons to hope. At least this
time the world is watching Mr Mugabe closely – even neighbouring African
nations have shaken off their anti-colonial hang-ups and are prepared to
voice disapproval. And the president is unlikely to have another 20 years
ahead of him.

Moreover, the turbulence of recent years has amply tested the mettle
of the MDC's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who has undergone beatings, death
threats and treason charges yet still remains credible and unbowed as a
leader and statesman.

He doesn't feel the need to talk about the liberation struggle, beyond
paying his respects. He doesn't need a never-ending war as Mr Mugabe does.
And his party, the MDC, has broken the autocratic mould of the old
post-independence political machines, which demanded gratitude and eternal
support from the population they abused. If any government of national unity
takes shape, the one abiding condition for it should be that Mr Tsvangirai
is the dominant player.

And what of Mr Mugabe and his murderous bands of torturers and
murderers? Will it be they who end up in the dock one day, rather than the
likes of Mr Biti? I asked my new friend sitting on the court house steps for
his opinion. "They will not end up in a war crimes court, I don't think," he
said. "But God will certainly punish them."★ -- Harare Tribune

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Britain blames six of Robert Mugabe's officials for election violence

The Telegraph
Britain has increased the pressure on Robert Mugabe by directly accusing six of his key officials of running the bloodstained election campaign aimed at keeping the Zimbabwean president in power.
Commissioner general of the Zimbabwe police, Augustine Chihuri [from right] addresses a press conference, as the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Constantine Chiwenga, Air Force chief Perence Shiri, and Zimbabwe Prisons head Paul Zimondi look on
Augustine Chihuri [from right] addresses a press conference, as Constantine Chiwenga, Perence Shiri and Paul Zimondi look on

Government sources said the six, all members of the secretive Joint Operational Command (JOC), were running a "regime within a regime" designed to intimidate voters ahead of this week's poll.

Britain has so far been vocal in condemning President Mugabe and his political allies but until now had stopped short of direct accusations.

In the lead-up to Zimbabwe's presidential run-off between Mr Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the recorded "political death toll" has reached 85.

More than 1,300 people have been beaten or tortured, with 34,000 displaced by violence.

In a highly unusual move, British sources named the six men they say are responsible for the brutal campaign by the ruling Zanu PF party as: Emmerson Mnangagwa, the head of the JOC; Gen Constantine Chiwenga, the leader of the army; Augustine Chihuri, the police chief; Air Marshall Perence Shiri, the head of the air force; Major Gen Paradzayi Zimondi, the prisons chief, and Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

A British government source said: "These six are basically running a regime within a regime. They are trying to run the election campaign as a military exercise rather than a civilian process."

Last week the European Union agreed to take unspecified "further measures" against 131 members of Mr Mugabe's regime who are already affected by travel bans and have their bank accounts frozen.

For all the international condemnation, however, Zimbabwe's opposition is still at the mercy of the regime.

Asked if he was prepared to be jailed or give up his life for the people of Zimbabwe, Mr Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, said: "For the people of Zimbabwe, yes."

The former union leader, who has survived an attempt on his life by war veterans and beatings at the hands of the police, was speaking at an election rally.

His campaign has suffered from police intimidation, yet hundreds still gathered to hear him speak. At a shopping centre in Mufakose, a high-density suburb near Harare, the crowd chanted MDC slogans.

A man in his early 30s chanted: "This is the man, this is the man, he is resolute, he is not afraid of the arrests, the president has arrived."

A woman shouted to a Telegraph reporter: "Tell the world that all is not well, we are suffering, our children have no food, medicine and they cannot go to school."

On another campaign stop, Mr Tsvangirai was mobbed by nearly 500 chanting people. One fervent supporter said: "I wanted to tell Mr Tsvangirai that we are behind him and we will die with him."

Mr Tsvangirai accused the government of trying to force a cancellation of the election.

"The regime is trying to make the situation on the ground so terrible that they hope the run-off election – an election they will lose – will be cancelled. They do not want to be humiliated by losing twice."

The tension is becoming so great that Zimbabwe's African neighbours have reluctantly called an emergency meeting to plan their response.

Two possibilities being considered are postponing the election and setting up a "government of national unity".

Bernard Membe, the foreign minister of Tanzania, also said they would consider sending peacekeepers to halt the spiral of savage electoral violence.

Tanzania, a member of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) which is monitoring the polls, will help to mediate between Zimbabwe's government and its opposition.

"We are coordinating to see if our heads of state can meet as urgently as is practically possible," Mr Membe told The Telegraph.

"We have drawn up a number of recommendations when we met in Malawi four days ago.

"Let's see if they can come up with plausible scenarios to save Zimbabwe from a total collapse."

Although countries in the region have avoided criticising Mr Mugabe too explicitly in the past, Mr Membe said it was now clear that the Zimbabwean government was responsible for the violence.

"It is government-sponsored, there is no doubt about it," he said. "The military is engaged, the police are engaged, security is engaged and the militia that comes from Zanu PF is engaged.

"That is not to say there is no counter-reaction from the MDC but essentially it is an operation that is state-sponsored going by the testimony provided by the 211 SADC observers in Zimbabwe."

Asked if SADC would refuse to recognise the result of the election, Mr Membe said: "It's a difficult question because looking at things now, all the indicators are that nobody will say the elections will be free and fair."

In addition to the violent intimidation, The Telegraph has learnt of an intricate government vote-rigging exercise.

"Thousands have been removed from the voters' roll in urban areas because Mugabe knows that is where the MDC commands its strongest support," said a Zanu PF source.

"Mugabe has ordered the Registrar General to conduct an intensive national registration exercise so that rural youths who turned 18 after the first round of polls can vote. This means that while the MDC's potential voters are pushed out of the voting system, Zanu PF's potential voters are increasing."

The party also plans to deploy thousands of Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officers, police, war veterans and militia as polling officers, while all security forces personnel were ordered to vote for President Mugabe in a postal ballot last week. They had to supply the identity numbers of close relations so that postal votes for Mr Mugabe could also be cast on their behalf.

The mounting evidence that the government will steal the vote has led some MDC members to call on Mr Tsvangirai to pull out.

The party will meet today to discuss its options but, so far, the candidate has insisted he will continue to fight.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Beatrice Mtetwa

This is London
Daily, this lawyer challenges Mugabe's regime in court. Here she bravely speaks out against shameful 'election'
Last updated at 00:23am on 22.06.08

Beatrice Mtetwa

Courageous: Harare lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa

It is less than a week until Zimbabweans go to the polls for the second time in four months, and this time I believe the chances that it will be a free and fair election are virtually zero.

As a lawyer, I spend my days defending civil society and opposition activists who have been arrested just for trying to campaign and engage in a political discourse that is taken for granted elsewhere.

It would be foolish not to be fearful. I have been beaten up twice, including last May when I was among a group of lawyers petitioning the Minister of Justice to stop the harassment of our profession.

Four of us were picked up by police, taken to an open space and severely beaten.

Recently, when I was defending Ian Key, an opposition MP-elect accused of inciting violence, we were followed by a van bearing the logo of Zanu PF, the ruling party. Luckily my client was able to shake them off.

I have learnt that my name is on a list of lawyers targeted for 're-education'. This is alleged to have been drawn up by the security forces, who dislike the fact that lawyers are exposing what they are up to by going to court.

Some lawyers have been forced to leave the country.

What I'm doing is not political - if the security forces arrest political activists, they are as entitled to a lawyer as anybody else.

Their intention is to force the lawyers to leave but I won't be forced out.

The treatment of lawyers is, however, indicative of the way the government views this electoral process and its determination to make sure that the ruling party's candidate, Robert Mugabe, wins, no matter what.

It is a tragedy that such a beautiful country has been reduced to this.

The opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has been prevented from campaigning.

State-controlled media have refused to take its advertisements or give it coverage. Police bans and constant harassment have made it virtually impossible for the opposition to hold rallies, while its leaders have been arrested.

If Secretary General Tendai Biti, facing the death penalty on charges of treason, and one of Zimbabwe's most well-known advocates, Eric Matinenga, an MP-elect in the MDC, can be locked up, surely the ordinary man on the street must think: 'How safe am I?'

EnlargeTendai Biti

Locked up: MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti (in red jacket and below) is escorted to a truck after a hearing this week

Tendai Biti

Then there is the violence. We've had murders, torture and arson on a scale that is unbelievable for such a short space of time.

The latest figures put the number of opposition supporters murdered at close to 80, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Yet although most of the perpetrators are known, particularly in rural areas, nobody has been arrested.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which is supposed to be an independent body overseeing the election process, acts as if it is an extension of the ruling party.

It has not conducted any voter education and has also stopped civil groups from doing so.

The result is that rural voters have virtually no access to any election material, other than that of the ruling party.

Meanwhile, the number of independent election observers has been drastically cut.

For the first election on March 29, the Zimbabwe Law Society, of which I am president, had 50 lawyers accredited by ZEC. This time we have been allowed just five.

The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which played a key role in limiting abuses in the first round, has had just 500 observers accredited. For the March election it had about 9,000 observers, and even that was not enough.

However, new accreditations have been given to groups sympathetic to the ruling party, such as the war veterans.

Then there is the issue of polling officers, many of whom were civil servants. Since the March election at least 120 have been locked up for alleged electoral fraud, so who would want to volunteer to do it now? Those who do so will be far too scared to expose any electoral irregularities.

There is no point in running to the courts for relief. The judiciary in Zimbabwe has not been known for its independence at the best of times but now that it has seen lawyers beaten and locked up just for trying to enforce basic rights for their clients, it fears the same can happen to judges.

Sometimes I wonder if it is fair to charge people, knowing you are not going to get any justice.

But sometimes you get lucky. We still have some magistrates who apply the law. Not all have been bribed with 4x4s and farms but, of course, they are frightened.

One magistrate had to run away after his car was burnt and he was threatened by war veterans for refusing to give bail to Zanu PF supporters.

All of this is being done with one aim - to secure the ruling party candidate as the president.

If you can frighten suspected opposition supporters into running away from the areas where they are registered to vote, it means the opposition will have fewer people voting for it. If you beat up opposition supporters and scare others, it will have the same effect.

Meanwhile, even in middle-class areas of Harare, groups of war veterans and Zanu PF youths have become a regular sight on the streets.

Their intention is to intimidate but I've lived through this for so long I just take it for granted. What else would you expect from a 22-year-old so-called veteran of a war that ended in 1979?

In the past two weeks the economic situation has deteriorated at an almost unbelievable rate. A loaf of bread yesterday cost five billion Zimbabwean dollars - that is a quarter of the monthly salary of the average person.

So if the ruling party comes along with bags of maize and maize meal and tells people to go and vote for it, people will do so because they think it is the only way of getting food, particularly now that the government has stopped food distribution by independent humanitarian groups.

Just buying a slice of cheese is a big issue but I am lucky that I travel a bit so I am able to bring food back home with me.

My daughter is supposed to be going to college next year but I don't know how I will pay for it. At my office we have to revise the staff salaries virtually every week because their transport costs go up every two days.

Even other African leaders are now starting to say enough is enough. But it is too little, too late.

They have allowed this situation to escalate by not being firm enough with Zanu PF.

African electoral observers have begun to arrive but the only place we see them is on TV.

It carries no weight for the head of the Pan-African Parliament's observer mission to say they have heard about the violence. He should be saying they have seen it with their own eyes.

What, then, is the point of the opposition contesting this election? In the past few days there has been speculation that it may pull out.

But to have come so far and then give up would, I believe, be a mistake.

The ruling party will say it won unopposed and it is the legitimate government.

It will be irrelevant whether the elections were free and fair. It would be like handing them victory on a platter.

People would also think the MDC cannot be trusted. You die for it, you'll be tortured, you'll be raped and, at the end of the day, they pull out and leave you in the lurch.

I won't be voting on Friday - I was born in Swaziland so I'm among the foreign-born Zimbabweans who were disenfranchised by the government in 2005.

But I believe that what I am doing is important. By litigating and forcing the state to respond it means there is a record of what is going on.

Things are bad now but if Zanu PF does claim victory, I fear it would literally be the end of life as we know it.

Yet I have to be hopeful. It is the only thing that keeps us going.

• Beatrice Mtetwa is president of the Zimbabwe Law Society.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

What might happen next

The Observer,
Sunday June 22, 2008

International intervention
If a bloody election were followed by a Mugabe victory, international outcry
would be certain. Although Mugabe's support is eroding among his African
neighbours, there is no appetite for military intervention. But UN rules
state that, if a country is unwilling or unable to carry out its
responsibility to prevent abuse of its own citizens, that responsibility
must be transferred to the international community. Sanctions could be
imposed on, for example, currency trading, but that would hurt and alienate
an already impoverished population.

Will it happen?

Possibly. The strong signs of disquiet from other African leaders are

Civil war
Outraged by a second election apparently rigged in favour of Mugabe, a
popular uprising takes place against the regime, which would be ferociously
resisted. Alternatively, Mugabe and his 'war veterans' have promised to
return to guerrilla warfare if they lose the election.

Will it happen?

Judging by Zimbabwe's recent history, it is unlikely. Zimbabweans are
generally peaceful people and have no access to weapons. They have been
beaten and bruised for years, yet the overwhelming desire is for revenge
through the ballot, not by the bullet.

National unity government
The MDC forms a joint administration. This solution was first mooted by
South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, who discussed the idea with both sides earlier
this month. Mugabe formed a unity government with Joshua Nkomo in the 1980s.
Senior members of both Zanu-PF and the MDC initially said the only point of
contention was who would assume overall leadership. However, all Mugabe's
men have moved to assure him they would not do business with the MDC leader.

Will it happen?

The violence makes it unlikely that the MDC would share power with Mugabe.

Tsvangirai wins
Morgan Tsvangirai has polled the most votes so far in this contest, the MDC
holds the parliamentary majority and therefore, under normal conditions, he
would be expected to win this run-off. But people may be too scared to vote.
There are fewer election observers accredited this time, while people in the
rural areas are in effect being kept corralled in their homes by roadblocks
and the threatening presence of militias.

Will it happen?

No. Mugabe is virtually certain to announce his own victory election, no
matter what the true result.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Whites huddle and pray as mob closes in

The Sunday Times
June 22, 2008

One of the last families left fighting eviction from their farm speaks of
the brutal siege being staged by Mugabe thugs
Christina Lamb
THE drums and chanting started soon after dark. Fires had been lit all
around the farmhouse - nearly 50 of them. In their flickering light it was
easy to see the militia leaders waving guns and the terrified faces of the
hundreds of farm workers they had been rounding up all day and bringing in
on tractors, trailers and buses.

Inside the terracotta-walled house that Ben and Laura Freeth had built for
themselves and their children in the once peaceful farmlands of Chegutu, 70
miles southwest of Harare, the couple held each other and prayed.

As they paced around their bedroom they tried not to think of the stories
they had heard of people having hands, lips and ears hacked off. To block
out the sound of the pro-Mugabe slogans they repeated over and over the
words of Psalm 118: "The Lord is with me. I will not be afraid. What can man
do to me?"

"There was no way we could sleep," said Ben Freeth. "The chanting and
sloganeering was military style - all in unison for hour after hour after
hour all the way through the night."

Their sons Joshua, 8, and Stephen, 5, had been sent to stay with friends for
safety. Somehow Anna, their two-year-old daughter, slept in her wooden
truckle bed, looking like an angel with her white-blonde hair. Their four
dogs prowled restlessly.
The Freeths are among the last white farmers still on their land in
Zimbabwe, where only one in 10 of the original 5,000 remain. They live on
Mount Carmel, an estate owned by Laura's father, Mike Campbell.

Earlier that day they had refused to supply food to a rally for President
Robert Mugabe and there were sure to be reprisals. At any moment the crowds
outside could be turned on them and they could be dragged out to join the
pungwe, the local Shona name for the allnight indoctrination sessions.

"We'd had letters as well as verbal warnings from people all over the
district," Freeth said. "The election campaign is being fought on '100%
empowerment', that is, taking everything that belongs to people who are not
black and giving it to the ruling party faithful.

"People were told that Mount Carmel cattle and potatoes would be dished out
to them. The party has got nothing else to offer the people . . . We assumed
we would be evicted that night."

With his neat moustache and military bearing, Freeth, 37, is not easily
intimidated. Born in Sittingbourne, Kent, he comes from a line of military
officers - his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served in the
Royal Artillery. He fell in love with Zimbabwe, where his family had moved
after independence in 1980 when his father was hired to set up a staff
training college for the national army.

Instead of following the family tradition Freeth went to the Royal
Agricultural College in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. "I thought there was
more to life than being shot at," he explained.

He thought about that desire to avoid violence last Saturday night as the
beatings of workers got under way in a packing shed for mangoes that end up
on the shelves of Marks & Spencer.

The terror campaign taking place there and all over Zimbabwe is masterminded
by the officers whom his father trained - Constantine Chiwenga, commander of
the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, and Perence Shiri, head of the air force.

Freeth could not help recalling a story his father told him of catching
Chiwenga cheating. He was about to be thrown out of staff college but the
following night was rushed to hospital with two shots in his chest. "Somehow
they had missed every single vital organ," said Freeth.

As the pungwe went on and the clock ticked towards midnight, a call came
from a neighbour, Marius Erasmus, who told them he had heard the commotion
from the main road and tried to drive to the farm but had been stopped at a

He managed to get through, only to come to another roadblock where war
veterans put burning logs on his bonnet and tried to force their way into
the car. He turned around and escaped through the first roadblock as his
windscreen was showered with rocks.

Laura's brother Bruce also called from Chegutu police station, where he
spent six hours trying to get the police out.

"It is clear that they are under orders not to react," said Freeth.

Not long after this telephone call the electricity went down and both mobile
phone networks went dead. "We were left with no communications and our way
out onto the main road was sealed off by a roadblock." Once more they prayed
and read Psalm 118.

Eventually the sun rose with streaks of pink across the sky, heralding
another beautiful day. But the light brought no end to the horror.

"When dawn broke and the birds started to call, the chanting broke into a
noise that sounded like a terrible swarm of bees on the rampage," Freeth
said. The beatings had started again.

Anyone believed to have supported the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) in the first round of the presidential election in March was
made to kneel down with their heads on the ground. Cold water was then
poured over their heads until they were freezing. "We had frost that morning
and it was bitterly cold," said Freeth.

The noise went on for several hours. Later the couple learnt that the
workers had been forced to beat one another with sticks.

"There are lots of allegations that Zanu-PF are beating people," shouted the
leader. "We don't beat people. You people beat each other."

The Freeths shivered at the screams they heard. This was not the life they
had envisaged when they had married at the safari lodge built by Laura's
father on the Biri River, where the guests sat on hay bales and a piano in a
pickup truck filled the air with music.

Today the lodge is in ruins. In one of several acts of intimidation aimed at
forcing the family from the farm, all the doors and windows were stolen, the
lavatories and sinks smashed and the thatched roofs burnt. The wildlife that
was Mike Campbell's pride and joy has been slaughtered. Of 45 giraffes, 300
impala, 150 wildebeest, 50 eland, water-buck, warthogs and zebra, not so
much as a warthog remains.

The person who wants their farm is one of Mugabe's closest cohorts, Nathan
Shamuyarira, information secretary for the ruling Zanu-PF. They have been
shot at, threatened, arrested and pelted with rocks at roadblocks while
their baby was in the car. The farm's mangoes and oranges are constantly

On the adjoining farm, occupiers have prevented Laura's brother Bruce from
farming for five years although he still lives in his house. When Bruce's
wife Heidi was four months pregnant with longed-for twins she caught
cerebral malaria and died, leaving him to bring up their five-year-old
daughter alone. The family believes the malaria was brought in by the war

Despite such tragedy, the family has refused to give in, finding strength in
its faith and unity. Instead, Campbell and Freeth are the first farmers to
take the Zimbabwean president to an international court. Their case opened
in April at a tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
in Namibia but has been repeatedly delayed by the government's failure to
present its papers. Their fight is the subject of a forthcoming British
film, Mugabe and the White African.

Earlier this year they were hopeful of change, but since losing the first
round of the presidential elections Mugabe, who boasts that he has "degrees
in violence", has surpassed even his own brutal record.

Posters on walls across the country proclaim "The final battle for total
control". Pungwes have been under way all over the country to make sure
people vote "correctly" in the second round on Friday. Mashonaland West,
where the Freeths live, is particularly targeted as it is Mugabe's home

When last weekend's pungwe finally ended, Freeth said, his workers emerged
"tight-lipped because they were told if it gets out they will be killed.
They go through the day mechanically with terror written all over them". He
learnt that some had been flailed with barbed wire to rip the flesh, then
had herbicide poured into their wounds.

Under a system introduced after SADC negotiations earlier this year,
election results are posted at each polling station. This may have helped to
prevent Mugabe from rigging the first round, but Freeth points out that it
has also made it easy to target opposition supporters.

"Those people will not vote, still less be MDC polling agents in the next
election, because you have to vote in your own ward and they know, if they
voted MDC, their compounds will be hammered."

Last month one of his friend's workers travelled to his home village near
the Nyamapanda border post to visit his elderly mother. "In these areas any
movement needs written Zanu permits," he said. "My friend's worker was
stopped at a roadblock and had to wait two days to get someone to vouch for

"During that time four people who had not got anyone to vouch for them were
asked if they wore long sleeves or short sleeves. The first replied 'short
sleeves'. They cut his right arm off at the top with an axe. The other three
replied 'long sleeves'. They cut each of their right hands off.

"I spoke to him when he came back and he was deeply traumatised. He said
that he saw the hands wriggling on the ground, detached from their owners.
Those hands cannot vote any more. I have heard of many other hands like

So horrified is Freeth by what is going on around him that last Wednesday he
went to Harare to beg the international observers to visit Chegutu.

"I went to the Sheraton where the SADC observers are and Meikles hotel where
the African Union mission are based and pleaded with them, 'You're observers
you need to see'."

He offered them beds on his farm but they were noncommittal. So far no
observer has gone to the area.

Meanwhile, the tide comes ever nearer. Last Tuesday their neighbours, the
Etheridges, were ejected from their farm and forced to watch as all their
belongings were looted.

Four years ago Freeth wrote a moving letter to his elder son Joshua, who was
then four, explaining why he and Laura had taken the decision to stay while
so many others fled (click here to read the letter ).

It went on to list many of the terrible things that had happened but
insisted: "I feel this is my home and I'm not going to be pushed out by
people who just want to steal and destroy it."

Since the night he wrote his letter to Joshua, however, the situation has
grown far worse than he had ever imagined. It is not just the violence. With
inflation estimated at more than 1,000,000%, there are eight billion
Zimbabwean dollars to the pound.

"The shops are empty," he said. "In Harare this week we queued for three
hours to buy a loaf of bread at a cost of 2.5 billion dollars. To get food
means driving to South Africa, a 10-hour journey each way with often seven
hours at the border."

The boys' school is still open but Freeth said he had looked everywhere for
an exercise book last week. None was to be found.

Among his sons' fellow pupils are the children of the deputy justice
minister. "He stole two of my friends' farms but his son and mine play
cricket together," said Freeth. "One part of me thinks I shouldn't allow
this but the other part thinks we mustn't let the future generation be
contaminated by hatred."

Despite everything, he claims that they have made no plans to move, pointing
out that 250 workers and their family members rely on them. "We've come
through so far," he said. "I believe we're here for good and if we just
leave, we obviously lose everything - but what happens to everyone left

"Of course we think about it and talk about it," he added. "But our
philosophy has always been: where there's darkness, you have to bring light,
and the way to do that is to pray and publicise and to bring cases to the

Last night new fires were lit and the drumming and chanting started all over

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

This is no election. This is a brutal war

More than 100 have died and thousands have endured savage beatings in the
lead up to Zimbabwe's presidential run-off. As Robert Mugabe's thugs
terrorise opposition supporters, Chris McGreal in Harare reports on a poll
in which voting against the president means placing your life on the line

Chris McGreal
The Observer,
Sunday June 22, 2008

John Kadonhera, 77, decided that, if he was going to die, he was not going
to give his murderers the satisfaction of co-operating with them. A former
policeman who defected from Zanu-PF to the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), he said the militiamen who pointed him out ordered him to lie on the

'I refused to lie down because I knew they would kill me, so they started
beating my head with a wooden stick. They put me in a house they were using
as their base. There were about 10 people in the room. When I tried to push
my way out, that's when they started beating me again,' he said.

Blood is still caked around the back of his head and right ear. His right
arm and hand are so swollen that they strain the seams of his shirt. But he
says he wants to get home to look after his four grandchildren, whose
parents have died. And to vote.

Zimbabweans have not seen anything like this since the Matabeleland
massacres by Mugabe's army more than two decades ago. That violence was
limited to the south. This time, as Mugabe, 84, fights for his political
life, it is nationwide. If this is the endgame for his regime, the brutality
of the tactics employed reveal his determination to win at any cost.

There has been election violence before. Beatings, intimidation and sporadic
killings were part of every ballot since the opposition emerged as a
coherent force in 1999. But never before has it generated such widespread
fear that even urban critics of the government have gone into hiding.

Mugabe's opponents are counting on desperation and anger overcoming fear at
the ballot box this week. But, despite the courage of men such as John
Kadonhera, it looks an increasingly forlorn prospect as Zimbabweans vote for
the second time in three months in a contest that their country's leader of
28 years says is not so much an election as a war.

The run-off presidential ballot on Friday is altogether a different affair
from the first round of voting three months ago. There was popular
excitement back then, a feeling that the ballot might finally bring change.
But the euphoria when it fleetingly looked as if Mugabe had been toppled has
given way to a grim calculation by many Zimbabweans over which is the worst

Do they dare to vote against Mugabe despite the threats of bloody
retaliation, in the hope they might somehow be able to lever him out? Or do
they resign themselves to more years of Zanu-PF misrule and plunder under a
government with no policies to reverse 1.6 million per cent inflation,
prices now calculated in billions of Zimbabwe dollars, no jobs to speak of,
and a currency that has lost half its value in the past week alone?

Mugabe believes he is in a life-and-death struggle. He made that clear again
at a campaign rally on Friday, when he told his audience that only God could
remove him from power. 'We will never allow an event like an election to
reverse our independence, our sovereignty,' he said.

Were Zimbabweans able to make a free choice, Mugabe would almost certainly
lose decisively to Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC candidate. The president has
already lost once, taking only 43 per cent of the vote to 48 per cent for
the MDC leader in the first round, despite the advantages of money and a
massive propaganda campaign. The balance of the vote went to a third
candidate whose support was strongly anti-Mugabe and can be expected to
swing behind Tsvangirai.

A second defeat, it is increasingly clear, will not be allowed to happen.
Zanu-PF has spent the past few weeks enforcing a military-led strategy that
began with the beating of rural voters who deserted the ruling party and
that evolved into a campaign of terror to purge swaths of the country of
opposition activists, drive independent officials out of the election
administration, replacing them with party lackeys and soldiers, and break
Tsvangirai's support in Harare and its townships.

More than 100 are dead, 200-plus abducted and missing, hundreds more jailed
on spurious charges, thousands beaten and tens of thousands forced from
their homes.

One group of doctors covertly helping the wounded says it has treated more
than 2,500 victims and that is far short of the real number of those
attacked. With roadblocks dotted on all the main roads and surrounding major
towns, the army and police are stopping ambulances from carrying people to

Human rights lawyers have been intimidated - sometimes killed - to keep them
from defending opposition officials jailed on trumped-up charges.
Independent groups, from doctors helping victims of the terror to poll
watchers, have been driven underground.

The MDC has found it all but impossible to campaign, with its activists
locked up or in hiding. Tsvangirai's campaigning has been curtailed at
almost every turn. He is obliged to file notice of his rallies with the
police, who promptly inform Zanu-PF, which dispatches thugs to break up the
meetings. Tsvangirai often does not get to them in any case because he is
sitting at a police roadblock in his car - his campaign buses were
confiscated - for hours.

The brutal strategy, inevitably, is paying off. 'It's a very big problem,'
said Lynette Karenyi, an opposition MP who was forced to flee her
constituency in Chimanimani West because of Zanu-PF attacks. 'In some areas,
I think it is working. They are telling our polling agents that, if they go
and monitor the count, they will kill them. They are saying that if you vote
for Morgan Tsvangirai you are voting for war. We are saying to people that
this is just political propaganda.'

But is it?

'It's not. The threat is real. I'm not going to lie to you. There is no way
I can give people security. Where am I going to get security from? How are
we to protect them? If they have to vote Zanu-PF to survive, then...'

Edmond, a teacher from a school in Muzokomba in Buhera South, has certainly
got the message from Zanu-PF. He was an independent election official in the
March vote, but after he was dragged out of his bed and beaten up he decided
to pull out. Teachers are particularly distrusted by Zanu-PF because they
are trusted by the communities they live in. 'No one is willing to be a
polling officer this time. It's better for me just to cast my vote and go
home. It's less trouble,' he said. 'It's fear. People are afraid of Zanu-PF.
They want to be safe, so they pretend to be Zanu-PF.'

More than 20 of the 63 teachers at Edmond's school were forced to flee last
week after Zanu-PF called the villagers to a rally. Another of them is
Elijah. 'There is nothing people in Zimbabwe can do to stop Zanu-PF from
doing what it wants. People are so afraid they may not turn out to vote, or
will vote Zanu-PF. Almost every day, they have a rally from morning to
sunset where they are threatened. People are threatened that, if they vote
for Tsvangirai, there will be war. People are saying it's better to have
Mugabe so there will not be war,' he said. 'If Zanu-PF wins, we will not be
able to stay in Zimbabwe. The only solution is to leave, because they are
going to finish off the MDC.'

Zanu-PF's violent militia has taken control of the townships around Harare
and even moved into some of the capital's upmarket suburbs, forcing the
maids and gardeners to late-night meetings where they are threatened,
sometimes beaten.

The MDC's national election director, Ian Makone, said: 'There's the terror
to stop people from voting, but I think they are also hoping to provoke a
violent response from the MDC to justify a state of emergency or scrapping
the election if they think they are still going to lose.'

There has been retaliation by some MDC supporters, who have killed war
veterans, but it is not on the scale of Zanu-PF violence. Nevertheless, the
state-run press has used it to try to portray the opposition as responsible
for the killings and attacks at the behest of a British government trying to
sow chaos.

The state media no longer even bothers to talk about Tsvangirai other than
to deride him. Every few minutes during the news, an advertisement pops up
that shows Tony Blair morphing into George Bush and then Gordon Brown and
finally Tsvangirai. The commentary says they are all losers, but the
underlying message is that the MDC leader is a puppet of Western

The government is attempting to keep prying eyes away from its conduct of
the poll. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a respected local poll
monitoring organisation, dispatched 8,800 observers to check on the March
vote. This time, the government has said it will permit the network only 500
monitors to oversee more than 9,000 polling stations.

'It's not hard to see why they want to do that,' said Noel Kututwa, the
network's chairman. 'The fact is, we won't be everywhere like we were before
and so they will hope they can get away with more. We'll concentrate on the
hotspots, if we can get in to them. They've intimidated our local observers,
so we'll have to bring them in from Harare. Access will be a problem. It's
not going to be a free and fair election. The will of the people won't be
respected. It's a foregone conclusion what's going to happen. Ordinary
citizens have been terrorised to the extent that they won't vote or they
will be afraid to vote for the opposition.'

So why participate?

'The point is Zimbabweans still have the right to choose their leaders, to
determine the destiny of the country,' he said. Makone admits he faces an
enormous challenge in the face of Zanu-PF's campaign. 'We thought the March
election was difficult to plan, but by comparison it was a piece of cake,
because we had relative peace. We had 54,000 polling agents, six at each
station. We could recruit locally,' he said. 'This time, possibly half the
country has been terrified. We have to ship party agents from Harare into
these areas.

'We are going to be beaten, there are going to be deaths, but we have to try
to minimise it. The first challenge is to find the people to go to the
polling stations as election agents, and then to get them there. The risks
involved are enormous,' he said.

Transport is a problem. Supporters are reluctant to lend their vehicles to
transport election agents when cars are being burned. With the violence
escalating, Tsvangirai is under pressure from regional leaders, including
South African president Thabo Mbeki, to agree to call off the election, but
there are many in the MDC who believe that would just allow Mugabe to
perpetuate his rule.

Makone says there should be an election, even in such difficult conditions,
because it will mark a watershed. He says that, even if Mugabe is declared
the winner, he will no longer be accepted as the country's legitimate
president, either by Zimbabweans or their neighbours.

He may be right. Although Mbeki has protected Mugabe until now, and regional
election observers have shied away from condemning previous votes in
Zimbabwe as flawed, there is growing revulsion at what is happening.

A group of South African generals sent to assess the violence has told Mbeki
squarely that Mugabe and Zanu-PF are to blame. Marwick Khumalo, the head of
an African parliamentarians' observer mission in Zimbabwe, said he had
received 'horrendous stories' of political violence and would not endorse
the election if it continued. Some African governments, including Tanzania
and Kenya, have said there is no hope of a fair election.

The MDC is bracing itself to lose the count when the results come in, but is
hoping that Mugabe has overplayed his hand and that Friday's election will
finally sweep away any lingering illusions about the legitimacy of his rule.
For John Kadonhera, those illusions disappeared long ago.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

How Mugabe ‘tames’ his foes

The National, UAE

Special Correspondent

  • Last Updated: June 21. 2008 11:42PM UAE / June 21. 2008 7:42PM GMT

Kudakwashe Mahupa was beaten and had his right leg broken by Robert Mugabe’s Zanu- PF thugs.

MUTARE, Zimbabwe // As he lay on the ground, taking blow after blow from Zimbabwean thugs loyal to Robert Mugabe, the president, Kudakwashe Mahupa accepted he was going to die.

The modern history of Africa is littered with dictatorships and violence, and daring to defy Mr Mugabe and seeking to end his 28 years of rule in Zimbabwe carries a high price.

Mr Mahupa, 40, is one of the 80 per cent of Zimbabweans who have lost their jobs through the misrule of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF. He joined the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, and is now the organising secretary in his ward in Maupa village in Manicaland, south-east of Harare.

The area is Shona-speaking and was once part of Mr Mugabe's heartland, but when parliamentary polls were held in March, the province sent 20 MDC candidates to parliament out of 26 available seats. Since then it has been the scene of much of the brutality as Zanu-PF has sought to intimidate voters into either backing Mr Mugabe in a second-round presidential election on Friday, or not voting at all.

Mr Mahupa is one of thousands of victims of savage beatings. A gang of around 12 men, led by a so-called "war veteran", one of Mr Mugabe's core constituencies, came to his house at midnight, he said. "They knocked on my door, I opened, they said 'Come out, we want to talk to you'."

Taking him away, they told him they knew he had worked as an election agent. " 'We don't want you to do this kind of politics again so we are going to beat you'," he said they told him. " 'We want to tame you. You must join Zanu-PF.'

"They attacked me, my whole body, my forehead, this hand, this arm, my buttocks, the whole body was so much attacked. They broke this leg," he said, pointing to his plastered right ankle.

The beating, with fists, feet, sticks and sjamboks (rhino-hide whips), went on for "quite a long time, nearly an hour".

"I thought they wanted to kill me. They did say 'We want to eliminate all agents and all structures'."

He believed them. Mr Mahupa is married with three children, and a fourth due around election day. He feared he would not live to see the arrival of that unborn child, but refused to allow the thugs to defeat his spirit. "Even if I die, I'm liberating my people so that was my thinking at that time. Now we are at war, you can die.

"We know it's their tendency. I accepted that because it's the tradition of our contender Mugabe. I know one day I will come across it so I said, 'Oh, here's the day'."

But then the gang seemed to change its mind, deciding that his wounds would be a lesson to all who saw him, Mr Mahupa said at a secret location in the provincial capital, Mutare.

" 'We re leaving you. You will teach others and you will tell others'," he said they told him.

His injuries were so severe it took him three hours to crawl the one kilometre home, and despite a week of treatment in a private hospital he still limps badly, using a wooden crutch wrapped in rags for padding.

Three MDC members from his constituency of Buhera North have died of wounds inflicted in beatings, and he expects another three to succumb.

According to official results from the initial presidential poll in March, the MDC's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, came first but fell short of the absolute majority needed for outright victory. As Zanu-PF seeks to overturn his lead, the MDC says around 70 people have been killed across the country and tens of thousands forced from their homes, leaving them unable to cast their ballots. Under Zimbabwean law, citizens can only vote in the ward where they are registered.

Western officials and the opposition party say there is no way the election can be free and fair, and even Mr Mugabe's normally reliable allies in the regional Southern African Development Community have condemned events and blamed the octogenarian president.

"There is every sign that these elections will never be free nor fair," said Bernard Membe, Tanzania's foreign minister.

According to Angop, Angola's official news agency, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the president, has "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".

Mr Mugabe remains defiant. Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper quoted him telling a rally in Bulawayo: "They 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."

Given the climate, the MDC itself is considering pulling out of the second election, which would leave Mr Mugabe an illegitimate leader in the eyes of the world, and much of Africa, but it would also give him control of the political agenda on the ground.

No one expects the Zimbabwe Election Commission, which was appointed by Mr Mugabe, to announce his defeat, but for his part Mr Mahupa is adamant that an opposition victory is inevitable.

"I feel those guys are afraid of being beaten," he said. "It's their end, they know they can't do it any more. They think they can do it but no. Surely we will win."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The madness of Robert Mugabe

The Sunday Times
June 22, 2008

Not much is predictable in politics, but it is more than a fair bet that
Robert Mugabe will be "re-elected" as president of Zimbabwe this week. If
you use the state to murder and terrorise your opponents in sufficient
numbers and tear up ballot papers, you tend to get a majority. Mr Mugabe is
not shy about this. "We will never allow an event like an election to
reverse our independence, our sovereignty," he pronounced last week. "Only
God who appointed me will remove me - not the MDC, not the British."

The madness of Mr Mugabe is beyond parody. The opposition MDC should pull
out of this charade of an election, which can never be free or fair. Writing
in The Sunday Times today, Peter Hain, the former anti-apartheid campaigner
and Africa minister, says that it is time for other African leaders, and in
particular "South African apologists", to call time. The Mugabe of today
bears no relation to the liberation leader they once admired. There is
nothing colonial or racist about wishing the end of a dictator who has
destroyed his country and inflicted misery on his people.

Five years ago, confronted with a mad, violent dictator unresponsive to
international pressure, the United States and Britain decided armed
intervention was the only option. That military adventure in Iraq has
clearly not gone to plan (indeed, there was not much of a plan), but there
has to come a point when hand-wringing over Zimbabwe is not enough.

African states have to condemn Mr Mugabe and demand that there is no
election. As Mr Hain proposes, the first election result should be
acknowledged and there should be a new coalition government including
members of Mr Mugabe's party. It may be repugnant but it would be pragmatic
to pardon Mr Mugabe. We need to learn the lessons of excluding the Ba'ath
party from post-invasion Iraq. If he does not respond, South Africa should
precipitate a final collapse by ensuring the lights are switched off. The
world has tolerated Mr Mugabe long enough.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe allies 'set up' political terror

Violence sweeps Zimbabwe before run-off polls

Chris McGreal in Harare and Tracy McVeigh
The Observer,
Sunday June 22, 2008

Secret documents drawn up by Zimbabwe's ruling party and obtained by The
Observer reveal that the campaign of violence and voter intimidation which
has marred this week's presidential run-off election was meticulously
planned by Robert Mugabe's allies.

The papers name one of Mugabe's closest and most powerful allies, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, as 'supervising' a 'plan of action' that includes 'harassing MDC
activists', 'declaring no-go areas' for the opposition and purging
independent election officers, replacing them with party loyalists.

The dossier provides clear evidence that the violence has been orchestrated
at the top of Zanu-PF and the security organs it controls. More than 100
people have been killed, 200-plus are missing and thousands have been
tortured, raped and mutilated as Zanu-PF seeks to overturn Mugabe's defeat
in the first round of elections three months ago. Tens of thousands have
fled their homes.

Mugabe, 84, is fighting to cling to power in the country he has ruled since
it won independence from Britain in 1980, but this weekend international
pressure to end the violence was growing. Angola's president, a close ally,
added another respected voice to the chorus of discontent over the terror
threatening the legitimacy of Friday's election. President Jose Eduardo dos
Santos urged his old friend to 'embrace a spirit of tolerance' and respect
for democratic norms.

The plea carried particular weight as dos Santos, 65, like Mugabe, was a
liberation-era guerrilla who has been in power for nearly 30 years and has
refused to bow to Western demands that he make his government more

Tomorrow the opposition party will hold an emergency meeting to discuss its
leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulling out of Friday's run-off altogether. Intense
pressure for a boycott has built up as many in the MDC have lost faith in
the possibility of a fair vote. Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the
executive committee would take the final call. 'We need a proper election
that will give birth to a new dispensation of stability and democracy. The
election that Robert Mugabe is shepherding us into is a farce,' he said.

Tsvangirai signalled his own view in a statement on Friday which ended with
a call to 'finish it' at the ballot box.

But it is clear from the papers seen by The Observer that all state bodies
have been mobilised to keep Mugabe in power. Mnangagwa, a minister in his
cabinet, is co-ordinating a body that includes Mugabe's security cabinet of
party and military brass, the Joint Operations Command, as well as the war

One covert operation is a plan to write to people who have been resettled on
redistributed farms pretending to be the former white owners threatening to
take the land back if Mugabe loses.

There are also instructions that Zimbabwe's deepening economic crisis -
inflation is running at 1.6 million per cent - should be blamed on
British-led sanctions. 'Basic commodities should be sold from either
people's shops or pro-Zanu-PF shops,' the document says. 'Emphasis should be
in party strongholds.'

Food shortages that have left about half of the country malnourished and
four million people reliant on food donations have been compounded by the
government barring aid agencies from working in rural areas, apparently in
an effort to limit the number of outside witnesses to the campaign of

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Violence spreads to Harare: 'Ring of torture camps' set up in the suburbs

Independent, UK

With Mugabe claiming only God can remove him, the opposition MDC has to
decide whether to take part in the run-off

By Raymond Whitaker
Sunday, 22 June 2008

Since Zimbabwe's disputed presidential election in March, a steady stream of
battered victims of President Robert Mugabe's thugs have come into the
capital, Harare, telling stories of horrific intimidation in the
countryside. But in the past week the violence has arrived on the city's

"A ring of torture camps has been established on the outskirts of Harare,
and gangs of youths are marauding in the high-density suburbs [the former
townships that surround the city centre]," a resident told The Independent
on Sunday. "They are stopping commuter minibuses and threatening the
passengers. Many people are unable to go to work. They are being told to
report every night to the camps to be taught how to vote." Even in Harare's
relatively prosperous northern suburbs, she added, there were groups of
youths on the streets.

Other witnesses said gangs of militants, wearing the bandanas and scarves of
Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and carrying sticks and clubs, were manning
makeshift roadblocks around Chitungwiza township, south of Harare, where
four opposition activists were reportedly killed on Wednesday. Party
militias and "war veterans" had set up camps in suburban grassland and were
frog-marching residents of Chitungwiza and other townships to political
meetings ahead of Friday's presidential run-off vote. People were told to
stay indoors and avoid travelling by road at night.

The violence which broke out shortly after the election on 29 March, when
the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, beat Mr Mugabe by a 6 per cent
margin but narrowly failed to secure an overall majority, has escalated
dramatically ahead of this week's second round. According to independent
human rights groups, 85 people have died in political violence since the
first round, and tens of thousands have been driven from their homes. In
both categories, the vast majority were supporters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The MDC won a court ruling allowing its main pre-election rally in the
capital, Harare, to go ahead today, The MDC has had to go to court almost
every weekend during the campaign to overturn police bans on its rallies.
However, there is no guarantee that Mr Tsvangirai, will be able to address
his followers.

The worsening situation has confronted his party with an agonising decision
this weekend - whether to press on with their campaign in the face of
ever-mounting intimidation and bloodshed, or to withdraw and cede victory to
Mr Mugabe. The party is taking soundings from its provincial organisations
around the country, and is due to announce its decision tomorrow.

But the MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, admitted that "differences of
opinion" over strategy had surfaced at a meeting of the leadership in
Harare. If conditions did not change, the vote would be a "charade", Mr
Chamisa told the BBC. "Some areas are inaccessible," he said. "People are
being abducted at night. Our grassroots activists are being subjected to
terror. Some of them are staying in the bushes and mountains to avoid
pro-government militias."

After the March poll, in which the ruling party lost its majority in the
House of Assembly to the MDC, government supporters focused their
intimidation on former Zanu-PF strongholds in the rural provinces of
Mashonaland, in the north and north-east of Zimbabwe, and to a lesser extent
in Manicaland and Masvingo, in the east and south respectively. Combined
forces of police, soldiers, youth militia and "war veterans" sealed off
areas and forced villagers to go to political meetings at which those who
were unable to chant Zanu-PF slogans were savagely beaten. In at least one
case, MDC election workers were beaten to death in front of their relatives
and neighbours.

The MDC's gains in March were made despite low turnouts in the cities, where
voters stayed away because of cynicism about the possibility of change
through the ballot box. But even amid the reports of violent oppression in
rural areas, Harare and the second city, Bulawayo, both opposition
strongholds, were largely quiet. That is changing, however, as Mr Mugabe's
supporters focus on opposition calculations that a high turnout in the
cities could more than make up for the loss of votes in the countryside.

One human rights group said it was investigating a report that 14 bodies had
been found in a single day in the townships around Harare. Another group,
Doctors for Human Rights, said the body of a school headmaster had been
found in Mutoko district, north-east of the capital, with one eye removed
and his genitals severed. The burned body of another, the wife of an
opposition local council official south-west of Harare, was found with both
feet and a hand removed.

The party's secretary-general, Tendai Biti, was immediately arrested on his
return from South Africa and charged with treason, which potentially carries
the death penalty. On Friday, the party's lawyers failed in an attempt to
secure his release. A magistrate ruled that he had a case to answer and that
he should remain in custody until another hearing on 7 July, while police
"continue their investigations".

Mr Mugabe says, however, that the opposition is lying about political
violence to justify claims that the poll will not be free and fair. This was
"a damn lie", he told a rally in Bulawayo on Friday. But in the same speech
he said: "We will never allow an event like an election to reverse our
independence, our sovereignty. Only God who appointed me will remove me -
not the MDC, not the British."

Others in his circle have blamed the MDC for the violence, the latest being
Zimbabwe's powerful police chief, Augustine Chihuri. "I wish to put the
record straight on the political violence in Zimbabwe," the state-owned
Herald newspaper quoted him as saying. "It is without doubt that between the
two political parties ... MDC-T [Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC] is the
main culprit." The police were on high alert and deployed round the country,
he said, adding: "Violence will not be treated with kid gloves."

In another sign that Zanu-PF is leaving nothing to chance, the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network, which had nearly 9,000 observers in the March
election, said it had received invitations for only 500 this time. Several
members of the network, as well as the official Zimbabwe Election
Commission, were arrested in the wake of the first round as the authorities
sought scapegoats for Zanu-PF's poor performance. The only foreign observers
being allowed in for the second round are 380 monitors from the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), which in March endorsed the poll as
fair even before the presidential result was announced - in the event it was
delayed for nearly five weeks.

But the blatant disregard for the electorate's verdict, and the growing
violence since the first round, have brought public expressions of concern
not only from the likes of the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, but
even from Mr Mugabe's staunchest African allies.

Yesterday, Mr Brown demanded a halt to the violence, access for local and
international monitors, and a UN investigation of human rights abuses. More
significantly, however, Angola's veteran leader, Josť Eduardo dos Santos,
urged his fellow President to "embrace a spirit of tolerance and respect for
democratic norms" and bring a halt to the intimidation and violence.

The appeal carried particular force, coming from an old liberation fighter
who has been in power nearly 30 years, just outstripping Mr Mugabe himself.
Tanzania's Foreign Minister, Bernard Membe, also said that violence appeared
to be "escalating throughout Zimbabwe".

SADC's designated mediator, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, appears
all the more isolated as he maintains his public silence on Zimbabwe. During
an unscheduled visit to Harare last week, he met both Mr Mugabe and Mr
Tsvangirai, apparently still trying to urge them to form a government of
national unity. However, since each refuses to work under the other, this
tactic is unlikely to be a means of avoiding an even greater explosion of
violence on and around polling day.

"It is so obvious, now that the election is not going to be free and fair,
that the best strategy for the MDC would be to put pressure on African
leaders," said one political analyst. "If the party decides on its own to
pull out of the election, it will hand victory by default to Mugabe. But if
does so with the explicit support of SADC, it will put pressure on
Zimbabwe's neighbours to call for a postponement of the poll until
safeguards can be put in place."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A stolen victory would finally damn Mugabe

The Observer,
Sunday June 22, 2008

When Zimbabwe's opposition party meets in Harare tomorrow, it faces the most
critical decision of its nine-year existence. In the months leading up to
this week's presidential run-off election, the Movement for Democratic
Change has seen supporters brutalised, raped and murdered. They can be sure
that more lives will be lost before the polls close, so should they pull out
of the race?

Aborting the campaign may halt, at least temporarily, the bloodletting. It
would also send a clear signal of protest against the manifest illegitimacy
of the poll; after all, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai almost certainly won
the first round outright. But pulling out would deny Zimbabweans the
opportunity to punish President Robert Mugabe at the ballot box. That
expression of dissent, however futile in a rigged election, is one of their
few remaining rights.

Mr Mugabe has plundered and now holds captive a once thriving nation. The
population has been starved and dispossessed. The opposition's tremendous
courage is not in doubt, nor is the fact that it has moral authority on its
side. So the question is whether that authority is better spent contesting
the election on principle or in boycotting it.

Even with rigged results, elections can prompt political transition. The
MDC's hand will be strengthened if Morgan Tsvangirai is identified around
the world as President-in-waiting of Zimbabwe. Pursuing the constitutional
process, however skewed, is the surest way to safeguard that status.

Mr Mugabe's standing can hardly get lower in the West and there are signs of
his support in neighbouring countries waning. But with some African leaders,
chiefly South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, he is still respected as a veteran of
the anti-colonial struggle. In any event, Mr Mugabe will claim victory, but
with no other names on the ballot paper it will be easier for apologists to
acquiesce in the fraud.

Meanwhile, Britain and the rest of the international community must keep up
relentless pressure on Mr Mugabe to stand aside and on neighbouring states
to disown him, although diplomacy, it must be said, has so far achieved
precious little. It must be matched by a ferocious and forensic assault on
the commercial interests and financial transactions that keep Mr Mugabe's
regime afloat.

The MDC may decide to pull out of the poll and spare its supporters another
week of torment. Should that happen, Mr Mugabe must not be allowed to bask
in a stolen victory. Morgan Tsvangirai does not need recognition from a
tyrant's ballot to be acknowledged abroad as President-elect of Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The way to make Robert Mugabe go

The Sunday Times
June 22, 2008

Peter Hain
Robert Mugabe patted me on the knee as we sat in his favourite London hotel,
his wife Grace recently in from one of her infamous shopping trips that put
even Imelda Marcos to shame.

"I know you are not one of them, Peter; you are one of us," he said,
acknowledging me as a son of Africa with an antiapartheid record, including
campaigning against Ian Smith's racist white-minority regime, which had
imprisoned him in the old Rhodesia.

My Foreign Office officials were delighted. So were his. After a period of
bad relations, at last we have a basis for future dialogue, they said after
our meeting in 1999, when I was Britain's Africa minister.

But the very next day everything turned on its head. The radical gay-rights
activist Peter Tatchell confronted the notoriously homophobic Mugabe outside
the hotel and attempted a citizen's arrest for infringement of human rights.

Outraged, Mugabe flipped. He got his foreign minister to blame me for
orchestrating the protest. Preposterous though that was, Mugabe convinced
himself he was again the victim of a fiendish British plot. Later, on the
BBC, he told an incredulous David Dimbleby that I was Tatchell's "wife".
News to my real wife.

And to Tatchell.

He subsequently denounced me as a "racist" - a poignant moment indeed. With
many other antiapartheid activists I had been thrilled at Mugabe's 1980
landslide win in the country's first democratic election, after generations
of oppressive white-minority rule.

Yet, over the past 10 years especially, Mugabe has savagely prostituted the
freedom struggle he once led so ably. With murder, torture, maiming and
violent intimidation, he has copied the very techniques of terror used
against him and his comrades in that struggle. Once imprisoned, now he
imprisons his opponents.

Zimbabwe was once the jewel in Africa's crown, a beautiful and hospitable
land to visit, with the highest standards of education in Africa, good
infrastructure and a strong and growing economy.

Yet, these past 10 years, Mugabe has all but destroyed it, turning a booming
agricultural sector - a breadbasket for not just his people but surrounding
nations too - into a wasteland, with starvation widespread.

Deploying the convenient rhetoric of anticolonialism to force white farmers
off their land, he deprived in each case an average of 100 black workers of
their jobs and homes, handing over farms to incompetent cronies. With
corruption institutionalised and the economy in freefall, inflation has
surged and the currency has collapsed.

In this election campaign he has ordered his thugs to murder, to beat, to
rape and to starve his opponents. Independent monitors have been abducted
and "disappeared". Last week Mugabe declared "war" on anyone daring to vote
against him. African governments have, for the first time, denounced the
process, declaring that the elections cannot be free or fair.

Though embarrassed by Mugabe, neighbouring leaders have until now deferred
to him as a heroic liberation leader.

Eight years ago I tried to disabuse some of my Foreign Office officials of
the notion that Mugabe was susceptible to diplomacy when it was clear to me
he wasn't. I also disagreed with friends in southern African governments,
especially my former antiapartheid colleague Thabo Mbeki, whose foreign
minister denounced me in a leaked letter to the foreign secretary Robin

For me the arguments deployed by Mugabe's South African apologists evoked
bittersweet memories from the 1960s to 1980s: Zimbabwe's "problems" are an
"internal matter" and there should be no "outside interference". European
criticism of Mugabe is tantamount to "colonialism" or even "racism".

Similar specious points were thrown at us in the antiapartheid movement. The
millions of black Zimbabweans living or dying under tyranny are crying out
for the support that black South Africans got in their grim decades of

After a colossal failure of diplomacy - by southern Africa, Europe, the
United Nations, the Commonwealth - the international community must now act
at last, decisively.

This is no time for a pusillanimous pretence that the re-run election amid
such carnage and mayhem can be a solution. Friday's election can only
proceed with more deaths and maimings of Mugabe's opponents. Having lost the
unusually free and fair first round in March, Mugabe and his ruling clique
were never going to risk a second defeat. They are determined to steal it.

A united international community must insist it is cancelled. Anything else
will be a complete travesty covered in blood. The results of the first round
should be respected, with the clear winner, the MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, installed as the president of a government of national unity. It
could include Mugabe's former finance minister and breakaway presidential
candidate Simba Makoni, as well as Zanu-PF elements.

Mugabe and his elite should either be given international guarantees of
immunity as they exit office, or be offered a safe passage if they wish.
Since the state and security apparatus is indistinguishable from Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party, that is the only way to ensure a violence-free transfer of
power. Even then, African peacekeepers may have to police the transition, as
the army chiefs may mount a coup.

South Africa should threaten to pull the plug on his energy supply, and his
African neighbours refuse to recognise him any more. The West should offer
an emergency aid and reconstruction programme to a new government, including
for land reform.

Mugabe now needs to be presented with the only language he has ever
understood: an uncompromising insistence that he has no alternative but to
obey the democratic will of his people and go.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Time to oust Mugabe

The Scotsman

†Sunday, 22nd June 2008

THIS week, Nelson Mandela will fly into Britain as part of his 90th birthday
celebrations. He will rightly be hailed an international icon and hero, a
freedom fighter whose dignity since his release from prison has come to
symbolise South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy. His country
may still be besmirched by high crime rates and bloody ethnic violence, but
it remains a powerful beacon for the rest of that continent.
Yet, as final preparations are made for the Mandela concert in Hyde Park,
thousands of miles away another African former "freedom fighter" continues
to bring his country to its knees. After 28 years of repression, Robert
Mugabe's determination to def

y the will of his own people and that of the world shows no sign of
wavering. If anything, he has become more despotic since he lost the first
presidential election to the Movement of Democratic Change's (MDC) Morgan
Tsvangirai on March 29. With a run-off ballot due next weekend, Mugabe last
week insisted "only God" could remove him from power.

Perhaps Mugabe's most sinister proclamation was his warning to voters: "How
can a pen fight a gun?" He was merely stating his Zanu-PF government's
official policy: the MDC claims at least 70 of its supporters have been
killed since the first ballot; a group of Zimbabwean medics put the toll
higher on Friday, releasing a list of 85 people who had died as a result of
political violence, 21 of them executed after being snatched from their
homes or off the streets; Tsvangirai himself has been detained five times
while campaigning, and the MDC's secretary-general, Tendai Biti, remains in
custody on treason charges; yesterday, television pictures showed
stick-wielding Zanu-PF supporters beating up people to make sure they vote
the right way next week. Mugabe was unmoved, insisting all such claims were
a "damn lie" put about by the MDC to undermine the elections.

Here in Britain, Gordon Brown and David Miliband have been outspoken on the
plight of Zimbabwe, in turn incurring the wrath of Mugabe, who sees all
British input as an attempt to revive a colonial past. The British
Government is right to ignore such nonsense and keep up the pressure for
change. But if Zimbabwe is to be freed from the grip of this brutal dictator
then greater efforts will have to come from closer to home.

Until recently, too many African leaders have been prepared to turn a blind
eye to the iniquitous behaviour of their neighbour. But that appears to be
changing, especially among those nations which have seen four million
Zimbabwean refugees flood across their borders - and are braced for millions
more if Mugabe engineers events to make sure he stays in power. Seretse Ian
Khama, the newly elected president of Botswana, was the first to protest
against Mugabe's violence towards his own people. Zambian president Levy
Mwanawasa, Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete and Kenyan prime minister
Raila Odinga have added their own words of criticism.

The glaring omission is the most powerful neighbour of all, South Africa.
The man who now holds Mandela's old job as president of South Africa, Thabo
Mbeki, has stuck by a policy of encouraging mediation long after outright
condemnation of Mugabe would seem to be the appropriate response. Last week
he urged Mugabe to cancel the run-off ballot and form a government of
national unity. He should instead have withdrawn his support from the
dictator and threatened sanctions, including the loss of vital power
supplies, unless he steps aside.

And where is the United Nations? Aid organisations and media groups have
been banned from Zimbabwe, but enough evidence exists for the UN to take
action. Too many countries are profiting from the hell that is Zimbabwe
under Mugabe. The UN must act now before this blighted country gets even

The world must not underestimate the potential for a bloodbath that would
stain Africa for decades to come. With many African leaders finally voicing
their anger, it is time for a concerted international effort to oust Mugabe.
It would help immensely if Mandela used his own birthday celebration in
London to add his powerful voice to the growing swell of opinion. Then, at
last, South Africa might be forced to act and help save Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Roll of Shame

The Zimbabwean

Saturday, 21 June 2008 07:05
Will these people be able to look history in the face and be proud of
their record?
HARARE - On 29 March 2008, the people of Zimbabwe spoke through the
ballot and they overwhelmingly voted for change. They voted for the change
they trust as represented by President Morgan Tsvangirai. The regime has now
gone for broke. Through an unprecedented scorched earth policy, the regime
is brutally maiming and killing the ordinary Zimbabwean for opting for
change rather than dictatorship.
Thousands, including women and children, have been brutalised for
simply voting for change. The people of Zimbabwe want to reclaim their
dignity. They want the government they elected to be allowed to address
pressing national issues that are greater than the ego of the dictator and
his small, dwindling clique of bootlickers.
The MDC's Department of Information and Publicity will be regularly
naming and shaming perpetrators of violence against the innocent people of
Zimbabwe for voting for jobs, food, better health care and education. For
the record, we will name and shame the men and women who are brutalising the
nation for exercising its sovereign right to choose its leaders at a time
when Zimbabwe needs men and women of conscience; men and women who respect
human rights and human dignity. Will these people be able to look history in
the face and be proud of their record?
ZNA Major Dangirwa led a gang of soldiers that severely assaulted
Reverend Takura Bango in Makoni South, Manicaland province.† Rev. Bango was
hospitalised for several days following the brutal attack and received
life-threatening injuries.
Zanu (PF) MP Bright Matonga is responsible for organising the violent
attacks against MDC members in Mhondoro Ngezi constituency.† The MP's three
vehicles were on 5 June 2008 used in an attack that saw the death of Mrs.
Dadirai Chipiro, 45 of Chikowore village.
The Zanu (PF) MP for Harare South Hubert Nyanhongo's six vehicles were
used to petrol bomb home of MDC council candidate, Brian Mamhove at Zengeza
Waterworks on 5 June. The bombing led to the death of the candidate's wife
Pamela Pasvani and his six-year-old son Nyasha Mashoko.
Joel Biggie Matiza Zanu (PF) MP for Murehwa South and Zanu (PF)
officials, Saymore Chimombe and Oscar Kuchenga are sponsoring and leading
torture and beating campaigns in Murehwa district that has seen over 15
innocent MDC members being murdered in Murehwa.
War veterans, Mlungiselwa Nkomo, Edward Sibanda and Jacob Ngwenya in
Gwanda district, Matebeleland South assaulted MDC supporters who were
waiting for President Morgan Tsvangirai to address a rally in the area. Over
10 of the supporters had to be hospitalised.
Elliot Manyika, the Zanu (PF) MP for Bindura North and Zanu (PF)
political commissar visited the Midlands province and led a terror campaign
that saw several MDC activists being injured and hospitalised.† He also
disrupted a training of MDC polling agents in the province and one of the
polling agents was struck with and axe on the head in the presence of
Sergeant Kwangwa of Nyabira police station severely assaulted two MDC
supporters after they had bought a tractor that he was also in interested at
an auction and threatened the with arrest if they made a report to the
David Parirenyatwa, Zanu (PF) MP for Murehwa North, Senator Bright
Makonde and Simba Mutarikwa, are sponsoring violent acts of terror in
Mashonaland East province that have resulted in over 20 MDC members being
killed, and hundreds being displaced, with property and livestock either
burnt or looted.
Sidney Somai, a Central Intelligence Organisation officer in Marondera
was responsible for the abduction of MDC district chairman Potifa Bakaman.
Colonel Morgan Mzilikazi, led a series of attack at Murambinda growth
point, Buhera that left at least four people dead and over 50 people
Major General Engelbert Rugejo was the leader of a group of soilders
that attacked the village of Hon.Nelson Chamisa, the MDC national
spokesperson in Gutu.
The vehicle of war veteran and Zanu (PF) losing candidate MP for
Buhera South, Joseph Chinotimba was used to ferry the murderers of MDC ward
chairman, Chokuse Mubango ooon 18 May 2008.
Mt. Darwin MP Xavier Kasukuwere, is the chief architect of the
violence that is being perpetrated in Mashonaland Central province, which
has seen the death of over 20 MDC activists in the province.
Emerson Mnangagwa, is in charge of the Joint Operations Committee
(JOC) that oversees Zanu (PF) and state sponsored political violence
campaign against MDCactivists.
Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor is the economic
advisor to the Joint Operations Commission (JOC) overseeing the payment and
financing the violence campaign.
Peter Saburi, a Central Intelligence Organisation operative and a
colleague were responsible for the abduction of Zesa Chiredzi area manager,
Dumisani Hapazari on 1 June 2008.† Hapazari was later found dead at
Chikombedzi a week later.
The following people are terrorising MDC activists in Hwedza;
Caleb Mukandwa Zanu (PF) Chairman
Mathew Mukandwa father
Rachael Mukandwa
Edmore Mugocha his wife and son
Ephraim Chamba Muchina and wife
Mai Gana
Mai Kufunda
Mai Burchnough
Mr Huni
Mr Keneth Makwarimba
Eusebia Mureverwi
Mukadota Mazhawidza
Mangwiro Chikudza
Gonyora Jealous
Sarah Maparanyanga
Mudoti Monoreki
Kufa Mutunhire

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Offshoot of London ad firm linked to Zanu's propaganda war

The Sunday Times
June 22, 2008

Jonathan Oliver, Political Editor
THE world's largest marketing company, London-based WPP, faced embarrassment
last week as it emerged that the head of its Zimbabwean affiliate had
devised election advertisements for Robert Mugabe, portraying the British as
lazy, pith helmet-wearing imperialists.

WPP, headed by Sir Martin Sorrell, ordered an internal investigation after
the head of its Harare offshoot was named as the architect of a propaganda
war launched by Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

Sharon Mugabe, the agency's boss, who is believed by opposition politicians
to be a cousin of the president, is credited with radically improving the
government's campaign literature.

One recent newspaper advertisement plays on prejudice against the former
colonial masters, hinting that ordinary voters will benefit from the
confiscation of white-owned farms.

"The British came only to seize land, conquer and enjoy life on our land at
our expense," it said. "It's now time for us to enjoy the gains of our
independence." It pictures a white man in a pith helmet being carried aloft
in a hammock by African servants.
Sharon Mugabe, 36, is the chief executive of Imago Y&R, the Zimbabwean
business that is 25% owned by Young & Rubicam, the advertising,
communications and marketing company that was acquired by WPP in 2000. Last
night the Harare office was still listed on Young & Rubicam's website.

A flattering profile in The Herald newspaper in Harare, which is
state-owned, recently described her as "a marketing icon, a brand expert, a
formidable strategist and a brand in her own right".

Opposition politicians concede that she has helped to craft an impressive
campaign for Zanu-PF. "We began to notice that the government's ad campaigns
had improved significantly," said a source.

The revelation will be a personal embarrassment for Sorrell, one of the most
admired and highly paid figures in British business, who prides himself on
his company's social responsibility. Only last week he pledged £5m of
"communications support" to the United Nations High Commissioner for

WPP is seeking to offload its stake in Imago Y&R, which in practice will
probably mean selling it for a nominal sum to Sharon Mugabe. A spokesman
said: "We do not want to be associated with this regime."

WPP began working with Sharon Mugabe in 2006 when she bought a majority
shareholding in the Zimbabwean firm from the white owner.

A company spokesman said: "She came to London. We did ask her if she was
related to Robert Mugabe and she said no she was not."

It is understood that WPP hired consultants to run a background check, which
failed to find any significant link between her and the Zanu-PF regime.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

UK agency appalled by subsidiary's Mugabe ads

The Times, SA

Rowan Philp Published:Jun 22,

Horrified directors of global marketing giant Young & Rubicam have begun a
sell-off of their holdings in Zimbabwe after learning the company's head was
behind Robert Mugabe's election campaign image makeover, as well as adverts
that mock Britain and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Imago Y&R, headed by Sharon Mugabe (no relation to the president), has
introduced pop culture figures such as rapper Tupac Shakur and reggae icon
Bob Marley to "sex up" a campaign that Mugabe's own advisers called dismal,
prior to the March 29 elections.

Bernard Barnett, a Y&R corporate vice-president in London, told the Sunday
Times that, following a tip-off, Sharon Mugabe had been asked this week
whether her company was the "professional media outfit" called in by Robert
Mugabe's advisers after the last elections.

"We asked the managing director if it was true - that they had been working
for Zanu-PF - and she said she personally was one of the president's
communications advisers," said Barnett.

"It was a very unpleasant surprise. Neither she nor the agency should be
working for a regime like that, and especially not campaigning for them."

Having earned business degrees in the US and Europe, Mugabe was
communications chief for African Banking Corporation before buying a
controlling stake in Imago in 2005.

Barnett said the global company would sell its 25% stake in Imago "probably
next week, and probably to Sharon Mugabe". He said that speed, rather than
profit, would be the priority.

"We're just anxious to end any possible connection between ourselves and
that disgraceful regime," he said.

Among Mugabe's new campaign ads is a television commercial showing the face
of former UK prime minister Tony Blair morphing into the faces of US
President George Bush, new UK leader Gordon Brown and, finally, MDC Morgan
Tsvangirai, under the heading "The Losers Club" (sic).

A print ad says that "Tsvangirai's faction has a reputation for violence",
another ad uses lyrics from Tupac's album Strictly for My Niggaz, and still
another, attributed to Sharon Mugabe, asks: "What do the British and
Americans want from Zimbabwe? Our minerals."

Sharon Mugabe could not be reached for comment at the time of going to

Barnett said she had insisted that she was doing the work in her private

However, Barnett said, Young & Rubicam had concluded that Imago Y&R was, in
fact, involved with the election campaign.

Meanwhile, the MDC has been barred from showing its campaign adverts in any
state newspaper, or on the public broadcaster.

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation chief executive Henry Muradzikwa was fired
in April for allowing some MDC ads to be flighted prior to March 29.

Three of them - including a "my fellow Zimbabweans" message from Tsvangirai
and one showing actors bemoaning poor service delivery and deciding "Let's
finish it" - can only be seen on satellite TV.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Terrorizing Zimbabweans into acquiescence

Sunday Herald, UK

June 22, 2008 Est 1999
What he can't hope to do with ballots, Mugabe is doing with bullets,
terrorising Zimbabweans into acquiescence in his brutal dictatorship
By Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg

IN A stark admission that he cannot fairly win a run-off presidential
election this week, Robert Mugabe has declared civil war on his own people
in an orgy of killing and barbarism that has shocked even Zimbabwe's African

Mugabe and his three top military men, who continue running the country
despite the defeat of Mugabe in the first round presidential vote in March
and also of his Zanu-PF party after 28 years of power, have decided that if
Zimbabweans cannot be persuaded to vote for them they will be terrorised
into staying away from the polls.

The level and spread of violence by police, soldiers and members of Zanu-PF
youth and "war veteran" militias is beginning to mirror that experienced by
Ugandans under Idi Amin and by Rwandans during the 1994 genocide.

Supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose
leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round presidential vote, but not with
the 50%-plus-one necessary to avoid a run-off, are being murdered, abducted
and tortured on a daily basis.

In its latest report, last Friday, on the deteriorating situation, Amnesty
International chronicled details of the finding of the latest 12 bodies of
MDC supporters who had been abducted and tortured to death by Mugabe's
security forces. Amnesty said soldiers had been deployed to threatenvillagers with gunsand instruct them to vote for Mugabe on 27 June.

The "Amnesty 12" are just a few of the 70 or more confirmed deaths at the
hands of Mugabe's forces since the March election, although the real toll is
in the hundreds, while thousands of opposition supporters have been
hospitalised with severe injuries.

Earlier last week, before the Amnesty 12 were murdered, three black peasant
farmers met a terrible fate. Edward Thsuma, 26, Mchasisi Moyo, 30, and Gift
Sibanda, 37, were peacefully herding cattle in rural Kezi, about 50 miles
southwest of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, when a group of men arrived
and forced them at gunpoint into vehicles. Their bodies were later found in
shallow graves in nearby hills. All three were MDC supporters.

One of the men's relatives, whose arm was broken by the kidnappers, said:
"They found us herding cattle and said they had spent a week looking for us.
They accused us of selling out the country by voting MDC but living on
Zanu-PF land. They attacked us with clubs. I was knocked unconscious. When I
woke, they told me that Edward was dead."

No-one has been arrested for the murders. Everyone in Kezi knows who
committed them. It was a gang of so-called "war veterans", inspired and
financed by Robert Mugabe to wage war on their own people.

The re-emergence of the war vets and the youth militias, who are led by
senior police and army officers in plain clothes, are among the concrete
signs that 84-year-old Mugabe is determined to retain power at all costs.
Mugabe used the militias to drive 4000 white farmers off their properties in
2000 and to terrorise the entire black population when he rigged the
presidential and parliamentary elections in 2002 and 2005.

The war vets are ostensibly members of the Association of War Veterans,
fighters in the 1970s war against white rule in Rhodesia, resulting in
independence in 1980 and the renaming of the country as Zimbabwe. These days
they are Mugabe's hired hitmen, a rag-tag army comprising remnants of the
guerrilla force and unemployed thugs so young that they could not have
fought in a war that ended almost 30 years ago.

The youth militias, known as the Green Bombers because of their bottle-greenuniforms, are widely fearedbecause of their extreme violence, sanctioned by Mugabe. Critics have
compared them to Adolf Hitler's Brownshirts, who spearheaded the early Nazi
attacks on Germany's Jewish citizens. Their training consists of immersion
in Zanu-PF ideology, including courses in patriotism which begin with a
raising of fists in the Zanu-PF salute and the chanting of slogans in praise
of Mugabe, ending with denunciations of "the British", former Rhodesia's de
jure but not de facto rulers. One typical Green Bomber operation involves
stopping cars, threatening the drivers with crowbars and making them chant:
"Forward with Osama bin Laden, forward with Robert Gabriel Mugabe, down with
whites." Usually there is a police car in the background, but its occupants
only sit and watch.

As the people of Kezi mourned their three MDC-supporting cattle herders, the
government-directed violence was spreading like a red tide across Zimbabwe.

While many of the killings and atrocities go unrecorded or unreported, the
details of the death of Abigail Chiroto, the 27-year-old wife of Emmanuel
Chiroto, the new MDC mayor of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, have shocked the
world. She was abducted from her home, blindfolded, then so badly beaten
that it was difficult to identify her body.

Her murder is an example of a new and dreadful tactic being practised by
Mugabe's militias. In the past week the wives of at least three MDC
officials have been killed.

Another woman who got in the way of Mugabe's militiamen a little earlier was
Dadirai Chipiro, wife of Patson Chipiro, leader of the MDC in Mhondoro, 100
miles northeast of Harare. Truckloads of militiamen came looking for Patson
but in his absence, they turned on Dadirai, a 45-year-old nursery teacher,
and broke both her legs before hacking off both her feet and a hand. In one
of many diabolically evil acts by Mugabe's regime, the militiamen then threw
Dadirai into her hut, barricaded the door and tossed a petrol bomb through
the window. At her funeral Dadirai's coffin lid remained partly open because
her outstretched arm had burned rigid.

The Green Bombers are trained to use rape against opposition supporters. An
anonymous black Zimbabwean correspondent sent a despatch to the BBC last
Friday describing how a 23-year-old called Maidei not her real name, for
protection in Mugabe's police state was abducted and raped over a period of
two weeks by a Green Bomber unit led by an army major and a war veteran.

"One of them said I had to renounce my allegiance to the MDC," said Maidei.
"I had to give in to his demands as he said I could be beaten. He did not
use any condom protection." Aids-related illnesses are rife in Zimbabwe,
where the life expectancy of women is the lowest in the world, just 34 years
compared with 62 in 1990.

Before the election's first round in March, Maidei, like many other young
people fed up with Mugabe and Zimbabwe's political and economic crises, was
not afraid to make her support for the opposition known. In Mashonaland
West, Maidei's and Mugabe's home province, the MDC made inroads into the
Zanu-PF heartland, snatching five parliamentary seats from the ruling party.

In the weeks after the election, war veteran and Green Bomber bases
mushroomed across the province and opposition sympathisers were ordered to
attend political "re-education" camps.

As the country heads to the polls again on Friday, the MDC argues that
Maidei's case is not unique. The party's information director, Luke
Tambironyoka, said more than 500 women and girls had been raped in the
political violence.

"We are still yet to establish the exact figure," said Tambironyoka. "The
majority of the victims are in the outlying remote rural areas, where they
are in hiding fearing for their lives."

Betty Makoni, who works for the non-governmental organisation Girl Child
Network, said the scale of the rape and abuse in the last few months has
taken aid workers by surprise. "We have been caught unaware by this
political crisis, where women and girls are being abused and raped in the
areas the ruling party has sealed off," said Makoni, who has been tipped as
a future Nobel peace prize winner. "These abuses should leave politicians
hanging their heads in shame for not assisting their own mothers and
sisters, as is the norm in African culture.

"As I speak now, I know a woman is getting killed. There's a silent genocide
going on I've picked up stories about women who are raped in front of their
grandchildren, in front of their sons, in front of their daughters, and of
women forced to be raped by their own relatives I think the idea is to
destroy the womb that brings their Zanu-PF's opponents in the country into
the world."

Amid such dreadful and widespread violence, the MDC will decide tomorrow
whether or not to contest Friday's election.

"There is a huge avalanche of calls and pressure from MDC supporters across
the country, especially in the rural areas, not to accept to be participants
in this charade," said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

What Tsvangirai and the MDC will not do, however, is give in to pressure
from various discredited politicians, including South Africa's President
Thabo Mbeki, to form a government of national unity with Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

"By refusing to actively acknowledge the MDC's electoral victory in March,
regional leaders and the international community effectively ignored and
silenced the democratic voice of the people," said leading MDC activist
Grace Kwinjeh in a major article published by South Africa's independent
Institute for Democracy.

"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."

Kwinjeh, imprisoned and tortured several times by Mugabe's police, said a
government of national unity would merely enable Mugabe and his party "to
climb out of the hole of electoral defeat".

She went on: "The MDC and its supporters are wary of legitimising the
political role of those holding the gun to their heads and the torch to
their homes.

"War is not something to be prevented by a government of national unity: it
is here already. And the only non-violent way to confront and defeat it is
the ballot box."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Gov sponsoring Violence- Observer

By Norbert Jacobs ⋅ © ⋅ June 21, 2008 ⋅

Bernard Membe, the foreign minister of Tanzania has said SADC would consider
sending peacekeepers to halt the spiral of savage electoral violence and
said it is now clear the government is sponsoring and coordinating the
Tanzania, a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
which is monitoring the polls, will help to mediate between Zimbabwe’s
government and the MDC.

“We are coordinating to see if our heads of state can meet as urgently as is
practically possible,” Mr Membe told The UK Telegraph.

“We have drawn up a number of recommendations when we met in Malawi four
days ago.

“Let’s see if they can come up with plausible scenarios to save Zimbabwe
from a total collapse.”

Although countries in the region have avoided criticising Mr Mugabe too
explicitly in the past, Mr Membe said it was now clear that the Zimbabwean
government was responsible for the violence.

“It is government-sponsored, there is no doubt about it,” he said. “The
military is engaged, the police are engaged, security is engaged and the
militia that comes from Zanu PF is engaged.

“That is not to say there is no counter-reaction from the MDC but
essentially it is an operation that is state-sponsored going by the
testimony provided by most of our 211 SADC observers in Zimbabwe.”

Asked if SADC would refuse to recognise the result of the election, Mr Membe
said: “It’s a difficult question because looking at things now, all the
indicators are that nobody will say the elections will be free and fair.”

In addition to the violent intimidation there is an intricate government
vote-rigging exercise.

“Thousands have been removed from the voters’ roll in urban areas because
Mugabe knows that is where the MDC commands its strongest support,” said a
Zanu PF source.

“Mugabe has ordered the Registrar General to conduct an intensive national
registration exercise so that rural youths who turned 18 after the first
round of polls can vote. This means that while the MDC’s potential voters
are pushed out of the voting system, Zanu PF’s potential voters are

The party also plans to deploy thousands of Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) officers, police, war veterans and militia as polling
officers, while all security forces personnel were ordered to vote for
President Mugabe in a postal ballot last week. They had to supply the
identity numbers of close relations so that postal votes for Mr Mugabe could
also be cast on their behalf.

The mounting evidence that the government will steal the vote has led some
MDC members to call on Mr Tsvangirai to pull out.

The party will meet today to discuss its options but, so far, the candidate
has insisted he will continue to fight.

Additional reporting from the Telegraph

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Opponents are beaten and burnt to death

The Sunday Times
June 22, 2008

The president and Zanu-PF are spreading their campaign of violent
intimidation to all parts of the country, while state bodies work to rig
this week's presidential ballot
Douglas Marle in Harare
The two faces of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe's presidential election run-off
were clearly visible yesterday in the streets of Harare. One was represented
by the 84-year-old president grinning at voters from posters plastered all
over the city, the other by the state-organised violence that his rhetoric
of war has provoked.

The symbol of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party is a clenched fist. As Friday's
vote approached, the fist was bared, the mood dark. "It is like a rabid dog
that has gone crazy, snapping at everything that moves," said one voter.

Mugabe, who is fighting for his political survival after coming second to
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in
the first round of the elections in March, has a dynamic public relations
expert working for him.

A slick publicity campaign run by Sharon Mugabe, a distant relative,
includes images of pretty girls and young men - with clenched fists, but
smiling - along with slogans such as "Total empowerment" and "Total

Such benign images are a world apart from the cruel reality of Zimbabwe.
Assaults with iron bars, clubs and guns were growing more frequent last week
and even Harare's most affluent suburbs were beginning to be affected by
slogan-chanting youths.
More gruesome murders were recorded as a vicious crackdown against Mugabe's
opponents intensified. The horror peaked on Thursday when at least 14
killings were reported in a single day. The victims included four opposition
activists burnt in petrol bombings and the wife of Harare's newly elected

Abigail Chiroto, 27, the wife of Emmanuel Chiroto, was abducted with her son
Ashley, 4, by a gang of Zanu-PF thugs looking for the mayor, an MDC member
elected only last Sunday.

He was not at home when they petrol-bombed the house and took his family
away. The woman's blindfolded body was dumped at a nearby farm. The boy
turned up at a police station, traumatised by his ordeal. "He is as good as
an orphan now, as his father has gone into hiding to stay alive," said a

The targeted killings were further evidence that Zimbabwe had moved into a
phase of violence not seen since the murderous campaign against the minority
Ndebele tribe in Mata-beleland in the 1980s, when 20,000 died. Some of those
reputed to have been involved in that campaign are key players in today's

The latest wave of killings to cow the opposition began in May, soon after
it became clear that Mugabe would fight Tsvangirai in the run-off.

An early victim was Tonderai Ndira, a 33-year-old MDC activist who once
said: "We are prepared to die. It is just the same, we are still dying in
Zimbabwe. We are dying by hunger, by diseases, everything, so there is
nothing to fear."

Ndira did not have the international renown of Steve Biko, founder of the
Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. But he was known and respected
throughout Zimbabwe as a fearless campaigner for justice and was compared to
Biko. He lived in an impoverished constituency east of Harare short of
water, food and electricity, where uncollected rubbish piled up in the
sewage-ridden streets.

The MDC has depended throughout its nine years of existence on brave young
men and women who form the backbone of the party as it struggles against
incredible odds to bring about political change in Zimbabwe by defeating
Mugabe at the ballot box.

As a friend said in an obituary, the manner of Ndira's murder came from the
darkest days of apartheid - particularly ironic given Zanu-PF's credentials
as a black African liberation movement that once fought against white rule
and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the African National Congress against
apart-heid-ruled South Africa.

His opposition to Mugabe meant that Ndira had been beaten and tortured
frequently and arrested as many as 32 times. Twice he escaped by jumping out
of a moving truck. But early on the morning of May 14 his luck ran out.

Nine armed men in plain-clothes came to his home, beat him in front of his
wife and children and dragged him away in his underpants. His wife described
how he was frogmarched out of the house and thrown into a white Toyota
pickup truck.

Early reports when his body turned up a few days later suggested that his
eyes had been gouged out and his lips cut off. But these injuries were later
found to have been caused by wild animals after he was dumped. The truth,
which emerged from an autopsy, was no less sinister. He had been squashed
face down in the truck until all the air was squeezed out of his body.

Then, with his head held back, his killers had stuffed something like a
cloth into his mouth until he asphyxiated.

At the time of the murder, Tsvangirai had not been in Zimbabwe for more than
a month. He had been criticised for staying away too long while his
supporters at home were being murdered, assaulted and intimidated. On his
return, one of his first acts was to pay his respects to the dead activist.

This weekend the body count reached 85 and Tendai Biti, Tsvangirai's deputy,
was charged with subversion and election-rigging - offences that carry the
death penalty - and was ordered to say behind bars until well after the
election. Tsvangirai, 56, began to consider pulling out of the polls.

To withdraw would be to hand Mugabe victory, as he would be declared the
winner unopposed. But Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesman, said there was huge
pressure from supporters not to take part in a "charade".

Since he came to power on independence in 1980, Mugabe had always retained a
semblance of adhering to the electoral process, ensuring that violence
tailed off as soon as election observers were deployed in the last two weeks
of campaigning.

The finesse has gone this time. Mugabe and the powerful Joint Operations
Command of military and security officers overseeing his election seem
unconcerned about hiding their political thuggery from the outside world.

Among the latest atrocities was the killing and mutilation of three young
MDC supporters defending the home of a local leader arrested in
Chi-tungwiza, a township 20 miles south of Harare where more than 1m people
live. They were attacked by Zanu-PF youths and drove them back. But the
youths returned with armed militiamen and seized them. Their bodies were
found in the tall grass beside the main road to Harare. Their skulls were
bashed in and their genitals mutilated.

With the economy in ruins and millions unemployed and needing food aid to
survive, life is getting cheaper. The going rate on the street for a killing
last week was 10 billion Zimbabwean dollars, the equivalent of 50p, and at
Z$5 billion for a beating.

In May alone hospitals treated more than 1,000 victims of the violence, most
for broken bones and torture, and hundreds have poured in since. At least
two heavily pregnant women were severely beaten on the back and buttocks.
The number and severity of the cases were threatening to overwhelm medical
services already suffering from shortages of drugs and manpower.

The violence was centred on rural areas at first because in March Tsvangirai
had swallowed whole swathes of the countryside that had hitherto been Mugabe
strongholds as voters switched their allegiance from Zanu-PF to the MDC. But
as the new polling day approached the violence crept into the towns and
cities. Mugabe's henchmen know that lowering the MDC's big urban vote would
work in the president's favour.

In the past few days Zanu-PF youths and war veterans in eight or nine
centres across Harare were systematically using coercion, threats and
assaults, just as they had in the countryside.

There were several incidents of people being beaten up at shopping centres
and car drivers being forced to sing Zanu-PF slogans. Those who did not know
the words were abused or worse. Some MDC activists were evicted from their
homes. In the city's affluent suburbs, gangs were forcing maids and
gardeners to attend indoctrination sessions.

How the violence will affect voting if the election goes ahead is the
subject of fevered speculation. The results of the first round on March 29
suggest that Mugabe has to make up 160,000 votes to beat Tsvangirai. Zanu-
PF is expected to claim that extra votes have come from supporters of the
third presidential candidate, Sim-ba Makoni, a renegade Zanu-PF member who
won 8% of the vote.

To clinch it, however, widespread rigging has been going on side by side
with the intimidation. Partial figures obtained from four key provinces
suggest that at least 40,000 identity cards have been removed from MDC
supporters in recent weeks, denying them the opportunity to vote. Some have
surrendered their cards in return for food.

Tens of thousands of people displaced by the violence will also have
difficulty in voting this time round. Many soldiers and policemen have been
forced to vote early and in some cases their postal ballots have been
countersigned by a senior officer to see that they voted "correctly".

In another breathtakingly cynical ploy, the Ministry of Agriculture has put
dozens of Zanu-PF youths and militants on its payroll to make them civil
servants, thus enabling them to act as election officials.

Just how confident are the generals and security chiefs that the violence
and rigging will deliver victory? There were reports last week of bickering
within the Joint Operations Command over the level of attacks, with some
saying it had been counterproductive. The Central Intelligence Organisation,
the only state body that had the temerity to tell Mugabe before the March
election that he could lose, has been seeking a genuine sense of voting

Its conclusions may not be very different from those of one reputable
independent poll circulating among diplomats in Harare last week. This said
63% of those polled were prepared to vote for Tsvangirai.

Adding to the concern of those overseeing the election for Mugabe, African
leaders began to desert him. Acknowledging that there was "every sign" the
elections could not be free or fair, Ber-nard Membe, the Tanzanian foreign
minister, whose country holds the rotating African Union presidency, said
some of Mugabe's last allies now recognised that "this disgrace cannot go

Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa, who has been widely discredited
for his appeasement of Mugabe, tried last week to persuade the president and
opposition leader to enter a government of national unity. He was rebuffed.

This weekend Britain's minister for Africa, Lord Malloch-Brown, called for
worldwide isolation of Mugabe's regime, warning that the president's top
"securocrats" must be singled out to avert a civil war.

The seven most powerful figures surrounding Mugabe will be threatened with
international arrest warrants, travel bans and the freezing of their
overseas assets in an attempt to convince them to switch sides.

"The plan is to crush their economic interests and make them unable to
travel anywhere in the world without risk of international arrest warrants,"
Malloch-Brown said.

The targets all sit on the Joint Operations Command. They include Emmerson
Mnangagwa, the former intelligence chief, known as "the Crocodile"; General
Constantine Chiwenga, the overall military commander; Augustine Chihuri, the
police commissioner; General Paradzai Zimondi, head of prisons; Per-ence
Shiri, the air force chief; and Gideon Gono, the governor of the reserve

"A lot of people in the coming days and weeks will be making the calculation
'When is the right time to jump?' because the risks of staying with Mugabe
are too high," Malloch-Brown said.

Yesterday youths were smothering more walls in Harare with their posters of
the grinning Mugabe. But the soft selling of the president fooled nobody.

Around State House, soldiers with fixed bayonets stood guard. Trucks
carrying chanting youths rumbled through populated areas, spreading fear.
That and the bodies of men and women who were killed because they wanted a
better future for their ruined country - men like Ndira and women like
Chiroto - provided the grim, true picture.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Braving the lion's den inside a Mugabe rally

The Times, SA

Sunday Times Foreign Desk
Published:Jun 22, 2008

Matabeleland North is no friend to Mugabe, even when he carts in truckloads
of beer and meat
Mugabe tries to excite the people by shaking as many hands as possible, but
they are clearly not impressed

Attending a rally headlined by President Robert Mugabe is not for the

First, getting to the venue - in this case the Tsholotsho Business Centre in
Matabeleland North on Thursday - is itself a difficult journey, thanks to
several checkpoints along the way.

At these roadblocks, drivers not only have to produce their driver's
licence, but their cars are searched and they are interrogated about where
they are going, and why.

And then, once the venue is reached, it is found to be teeming with police,
soldiers and plain-clothes security personnel.

People in new Zanu-PF regalia swarm around the centre's bottle stores and
butcheries, with beer flowing and braais the order of the day.

All the beer and meat is courtesy of Zanu-PF, which wants to draw a sizeable
crowd for Mugabe - something that has proved to be a headache in the past in
this part of the country.

However, if the Zanu-PF leadership eavesdropped on conversations around
braai stands and bottle stores, they would have withdrawn their "gesture" .
Many in this corner of the impoverished nation have been drawn, it seems,
not by the lure of Mugabe but by that of the free food.

Scheduled to arrive at 11am, by midday the ageing dictator has yet to

Instead, trucks carrying basic commodities - which most Zimbabweans can
scarcely remember because of the shortages - and guarded by armed police,
roll up and offload their precious cargo at the business centre's few shops.

Onlookers gather around to catch a glimpse of cooking oil, rice, flower,
sugar, salt and soap, but no one is allowed to buy anything. Instead, they
are ordered to attend the rally at the nearby sports ground before they can
think of filling their shopping bags.

As word spreads of the new supplies, more and more villagers stream to the
centre. They, too, are quickly herded across the road. The shops start
closing their doors on the instruction of three burly policemen and everyone
at the centre is ordered to the rally.

Schools are also ordered to close and the pupils and their teachers join the
crowd. All in all, they number about 5000. A military helicopter hovers
above, perhaps checking on the size of the crowd before Mugabe arrives.

Three hours later than scheduled, the great man arrives - accompanied by two
truckloads of armed soldiers, who quickly cordon off the ground.

Mugabe tries to excite the people by shaking as many hands as possible, but
they are clearly not impressed. Their eyes are glued to the armed soldiers
surrounding them. The rousing welcome and large crowds Mugabe garners in
other provinces is absent.

The chilly reception cools even more as the Zanu-PF chairman for
Matabeleland North, Headman Moyo, denounces former politburo heavyweight
Dumiso Dabengwa.

Taking note of the murmurs of disapproval, the ever-canny Mugabe avoids all
mention of Dabengwa in his tirade.

But things still go further downhill for the 84-year-old leader when he
starts evoking memories of the late PF-Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo, a hero in
these parts: people turn around to leave, but the soldiers and policemen won't
let them.

So they sit and chat among themselves while Mugabe rumbles on about his war
credentials and how a vote for the Movement for Democratic Change is
tantamount to returning Zimbabwe to colonialism.

Realising he has lost his audience, Mugabe keeps his address short and heads
for his helicopter to return to Bulawayo. Only then are the crowds allowed
to disperse.

But the basic foodstuffs which had enticed so many of them, are still not
for sale. The

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Our war veterans won't do Mugabe's dirty work'

The Times, SA

Sunday Times Foreign Desk
Published:Jun 22, 2008

While the rest of the country burns, there is neither fear nor loathing in
the largely rural Matabeleland North province.

In Tsholotsho, about 140km west of the second city of Bulawayo, people
openly talk about the run-off and Mugabe's posters are pasted next to
Tsvangirai's with none being removed or torn.

The reason: history.

About 20000 people were killed in this part of the country when Mugabe
turned on rival party Zapu after leading the country to independence from

This week, as Mugabe prepared to stage a rally in the district, villagers
said they wouldn't be cowed by war veterans deployed in the district to
coerce them to attend the gathering.

A villager who identified himself as Dube said his area was peaceful and
would remain so.

"Mugabe has refused to apologise for the death and suffering he brought upon
us, the Ndebele people, so why should we axe, burn and attack each other for
him when we already know what sort of person he is?

"War veterans in this area are disciplined and will not harm their own
people. Our chiefs and headman have resisted any deployment of so-called war
veterans and youth militia from other provinces to drum up support for
anyone because they know that we are capable of making our own choice on
election day, like we have always done since 1980," said Dube.

Dube said Matabeleland North people knew and respected their war veterans
because they also suffered at Mugabe's hands, resulting in a sense of unity
absent in other provinces.

"I guess it's now the turn of other provinces to experience the brutality of

Matabeleland South, just a stone's throw away, is one example. It has been
wracked by violence, and base camps where suspected and known MDC supporters
are tortured were set up in Insiza, 100km southeast of Bulawayo.

Zanu-PF won the Insiza North constituency in the March parliamentary polls
while the MDC took the south.

But Insiza is where former presidential hopeful Simba Makoni also
convincingly beat both Mugabe and Tsvangirai in the presidential poll and
residents said highly embarrassed Zanu-PF MP-elect Andrew Langa, a deputy
minister in Mugabe's government, had personally promised Mugabe that he
would deliver the two Insiza constituencies.

In Insiza, people speak in whispers when talking of politics, fearing that
youth militia and Langa's spies, who are said to be everywhere, would report

a.. Meanwhile, teachers, who have been used as polling officers since
independence, have been banned from conducting the run-off election in
Matabeleland South because they are accused of supporting the MDC.
Instead, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission sent a list of names of unknown
people who will conduct the elections. Some teachers suspect the list
comprises youth militia, war veterans and known Zanu-PF supporters.

One teacher who fled Insiza said every villager's details had been
registered with their headmen and they were all told to queue behind their
headmen on the day of the vote so that they are forced to vote for Mugabe.

"It's so serious that the villagers actually believe that these war veterans
will know whom one has voted for because they have been warned that if a
headman has 100 registered people on his list, then they expect 100 votes
from him," said the teacher.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

You're going to destroy Zimbabwe - Mugabe warned 25 years ago

The Times, SA

Malefane Published:Jun 22, 2008

Judging by a letter the late Zimbabwean leader wrote, history's simply
repeating itself

Late Zimbabwean leader Joshua Nkomo predicted 25 years ago that Robert
Mugabe would destroy the democracy for which Zimbabweans fought so hard
against the oppressive government of Ian Smith.

This prediction is contained in a letter - dated June 7 1983 - in which
Nkomo warned Mugabe that he would not lead the country to a "free, united,
peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe".

Nkomo's letter was based on the widespread torture and killings he faced
with his supporters after Mugabe took over from the Smith government in
1980. In the liberation struggle, Nkomo led the Zimbabwe African People's
Union (Zapu), which was supported by the minority Matabeleland residents,
while Mugabe had the support of the majority Shonas.

In the letter, Nkomo accused Mugabe of using the infamous Compensation and
Indemnity Act 45 of 1975 against those with whom he disagreed. The act
withheld people's right to appeal against illegal torture.

Nkomo said Mugabe's Zanu supporters maimed, killed and destroy property. "I
am sure you realise that the results of this use of Smith's laws and
torturers has been to create in an independent Zimbabwe a climate of terror
and fear even more indiscriminate than that created by the Smith regime. As
it is in Zimbabwe, everyone faces fear. It is a fear created by the fear of
government itself ..."

Nkomo, who was affectionately known as the father of Zimbabwe, wrote the
letter a few months after he fled Zimbabwe. He went into self- imposed exile
in London after several threats to his life. Although he shared a common
goal of overthrowing Smith's government with Mugabe, the two leaders never
saw eye to eye.

Mugabe had dismissed Nkomo and three colleagues from his government without
officially informing them of his decision. Nkomo received the news through
the media.

Mugabe had also accused him of plotting to overthrow him. This led to
serious mistrust between Zanu and Zapu soldiers and "clashes between the two
groups became commonplace".

Nkomo's letter reveals a similar tendency to apply the tactics Mugabe
currently uses against opposition Movement for Democratic Change leaders,
such as brutally instilling fear in those who disagree with him. Apart from
accusing Nkomo of plotting to overthrow him, Mugabe detained the Zapu leader
several times and tortured his supporters.

Nkomo accused Mugabe's government of terrorising thousands of Zapu
supporters, resulting in them fleeing to neighbouring territories. Some left
their villages to go into hiding.

"This is not government, it is the abuse of government, an abuse which
transforms the rule of law into the law of rule. As such, it cannot lead to
a free Zimbabwe but to one in which oppression, division, violence and
poverty will shadow all our hopes and make a mockery of the freedom struggle
in which so many heroes gave their lives," Nkomo wrote.

"What has happened to the brave, determined, confident and fearless people
of Zimbabwe and their solders of liberation, who showed the world that no
power on earth can prevent us from achieving our freedom?

"Today our enemies laugh at us. What they see is a divided, confused and
frightened people led by a divided, confused and frightened government."

Nkomo warned Mugabe that a government which had the interests of its nation
at heart did not need to use laws and weapons of "colonial regimes" to
protect itself.

"The people themselves will protect their government if they have full trust
in it. Fear is a weapon of despair, used by those who fear the people."

a.. Nkomo died in 1999, age 82, of prostate cancer in Harare. A year before,
he had been named one of three senior ministers in Mugabe's office after a
peace accord that was negotiated to merge Zapu and Zanu, resulting in

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

This is Zanu-PF's real plan

The Times, SA

Published:Jun 22, 2008

Leaders are plotting to follow a stolen runoff with Mugabe's managed exit,
writes Arthur GO Mutambara

Individuals who are keen to succeed Mugabe through a parliamentary
succession arrangement are orchestrating his violent re-election

Robert Mugabe's political strategy in Zimbabwe is very clear: to win the
presidential runoff on June 27 2008 by any means necessary, and at any cost.

The brutality of the methods and tactics being employed has been extensively
documented. Key elements include killings, voter intimidation, residential
displacements, the elimination and harassment of polling agents and party
campaigners, and the incarceration of political leaders.

There is electoral cleansing taking place in Zimbabwe. Opposition activists,
members of civic society and ordinary citizens have borne the terrible brunt
of this brutality. Over 70 of them are dead.

After winning the runoff, Mugabe will control not only the presidency, but
the senate as well. According to section 33 of the Zimbabwean constitution,
the institution of parliament consists of two structures, the senate and the
house of assembly.

The two Movement for Democratic Change formations working together hold the
majority in the house of assembly with 109 seats vs 97 held by Zanu-PF, now
the new opposition. In the senate, the combined MDC strength is equal to
that of Zanu-PF at 30 seats each.

However, in addition to the 60 elected senators, the Zimbabwean constitution
gives the person elected president the power to appoint up to 33 members of
the senate: 10 provincial governors, 18 chiefs, and five extra senators.

It is clear, therefore, that the balance of power in the combined
parliamentary institution consisting of the senate and the house of assembly
depends on who is elected president.

If Mugabe wins, Zanu-PF will overturn the MDC's elected majority. In
addition to controlling the presidency, Zanu-PF will effectively control the
senate with 63 legislators against the combined MDC strength of 30.

The Zanu-PF majority of 33 in the senate will wipe out the MDC's majority of
12 in the house of assembly. This is why Mugabe is obsessed with winning
this presidential runoff come hell, come sunshine. From this position of
strength, Zanu-PF and Mugabe will then want to engage the opposition as weak
junior partners. They will not negotiate now, before the runoff, because
they are in a much weaker position. They lost their parliamentary majority
and Mugabe came second in the March 29 elections.

The bargaining power obtained from winning the runoff is critical to them.
With this victory, they might even dangle a Mugabe departure, where his
successor from Zanu-PF is elected president by a joint sitting of the house
of assembly and senate in which they will have a majority .

The Mugabe exit will be meant to pacify those in the international community
who view Mugabe as the symbol and personification of the Zimbabwe crisis.

This is the Zanu-PF political strategy. The parliamentary succession is
provided for by amendment 18 to the Zimbabwean constitution.

This is why individuals who are keen to succeed Mugabe through this
arrangement are orchestrating his violent re-election. While they are trying
to protect themselves from prosecution for corruption and human rights
violations, they are also driven by unbridled self-interest. Unfortunately,
they are compounding their risk as they pursue the retention of power at any

It is abundantly clear that there are efforts to steal the presidential
runoff by any means necessary. The challenge is, what are we going to do if
Mugabe and Zanu-PF impose themselves on the people of Zimbabwe? What is the
appropriate response to the Zanu-PF strategy by Zimbabweans, Africans and
the international community?

If Mugabe, who we charge with committing violations of human rights in
pursuit of political power, cannot ensure a free and fair election, the
Southern African Development Community, African Union and international
community must hold him accountable.

The winner of an unfair and un-free election must be under no illusion with
respect to the implications of such criminal conduct. Those who govern must
do so with the consent of the governed. The people's will must be sovereign.

Consequently, the victor in a fraudulent vote will not have the legitimacy
to govern, and should not receive recognition internally or externally.
There should be neither recognition nor support for such a criminal and
failed state.

More importantly we, as the Zimbabwean opposition, will not recognise a
national leadership produced by a fraudulent process. We will not enter into
any negotiations with such an illegal regime.

There will be absolutely no compromise, retreat or surrender on this
position. No one should force the Zimbabwean opposition into negotiations
with an illegitimate ruler. We hope that SA President Thabo Mbeki and other
African leaders are listening carefully and understand our disposition
clearly. We mean what we are saying, and we will walk the talk.

SADC, the AU and the international community should not even contemplate
coming to us after the almost certain fraud on June 27 . There will be no
engagement with an illegal government. We will not give legitimacy and
dignity to the illegal regime by seeking an accommodation with them.

They will run the country on their own. They will have to salvage the
collapsed economy on their own. Zimbabweans will not accept a government of
national unity rooted in illegitimacy and accomplished through genocide.

The international community, AU, SADC and South Africa must understand this
without equivocation or ambiguity. The Zimbabwean opposition will never be
part of such a shameless betrayal of values and principles. What we believe
in is an inclusive government based on a free and fair poll. Nothing else is

If Mugabe wins a free and fair election, we will congratulate him, recognise
his regime and work with it in pursuit of the national interest.

But we are all witnessing the corruption and manipulation of the democratic
process in Zimbabwe, while we sit passively. Now is the time to act, and not
after the fraudulent outcome. All factors considered, cancelling the runoff
is no longer a practical or realistic option.

There must be efforts to ensure that the election is as close to freeness
and fairness as possible. This is now almost impossible, but we must not
give up. The struggle must continue.

The objective should be to ensure and guarantee some integrity and fidelity
of the entire electoral value chain, from the campaign activities, voting
and counting processes, to the announcement of the results and the
installation of the victor.

There must be freedom of assembly, association and expression. All political
detainees must be freed, and unfettered access to the state media
established. Measures must be put in place immediately to stop all
politically motivated violence.

An inter-party liaison committee, assisted by SADC, must be immediately
deployed to attend to all claims of violence. The election is ward-based;
hence, when voters are moved away from their home areas, they cannot vote.

The displacements of persons must be immediately stopped and reversed. All
displaced people must be assisted back to their wards by SADC. Those that
have had their identity documents seized must have them replaced.

External election observers should have arrived in Zimbabwe on June 1. There
must be at least 9000 observers for the more than 9000 polling stations. The
fact that we have a paltry 450-plus observers - who arrived last week and
have spent their time holed up in a hotel in Harare - is a travesty of

What is wrong with SADC and AU leaders? The observers must stay in the
constituencies and wards overnight to witness and deter acts of violence.
The opposition needs at least 18000 polling agents - at least two per
polling station. This requires planning, logistics and resources.

While we appreciate the SADC- facilitated dialogue between the key
protagonists in Zimbabwe, it has become a meaningless farce.

How do you negotiate when the political leadership of the opposition is
detained, harassed and intimidated? How serious is Mugabe about the
dialogue? The silence and lack of effective action on the part of African
leaders is despicable.

No, President Mbeki, we are not impressed at all. For the doctrine of
"African solutions to African problems" to be meaningful and respected,
there must be bold and proactive leadership by Africans. SADC, the AU and
the United Nations must clearly indicate and explain to the Mugabe regime
the consequences of a stolen election .

The key message should be that there will be neither recognition nor
support. There will be total isolation. This communication must be done both
privately and publicly. The personal liability, with respect to national and
international laws, of individuals who are directing and executing the
violence in Zimbabwe should be clearly articulated.

When all is said and done, Zimbabweans shall be masters of their own
destiny. We cannot outsource the management of our public affairs to
foreigners. We must close ranks in this darkest hour.

The pursuit of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe requires the
involvement and commitment of every citizen. The starting point is working
together to ensure that the outcome of the upcoming election is accepted by
all Zimbabweans, both winners and losers. Clarity about the meaning of, and
the response options to, a stolen election is imperative.

History will never absolve us if we equivocate and prevaricate. The outside
world can only help us help ourselves.

.. Mutambara is the president of one of the MDC formations in Zimbabwe

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabweans have spoken - so should we

The Times, SA

Published:Jun 22, 2008

It is difficult to figure out how Zimbabwe's presidential run-off election
can be free and fair when Robert Mugabe and his military cronies are using
every trick in the book to thwart the will of the people.

With fewer than five days before Zimbabweans go back to the polls, the odds
appear to be heavily stacked against the opposition Movement for Democratic

Mugabe's militia has unleashed a campaign of ruthless terror against the
people of Zimbabwe since Zanu-PF lost the March elections to the MDC.

People suspected of voting for the opposition have been kidnapped from their
homes, beaten, tortured and killed.

In a serious indictment of the credibility of the coming election, MDC
secretary-general Tendai Biti, who is crucial to the opposition's campaign,
is languishing in detention.

Mugabe has already made it known that he will not accept the outcome if he
is defeated at the polls. In his dangerous, mad rhetoric, he has said
thatonly God can remove him and he won't quit until all the land is in the
hands of blacks.

It is in this context that the MDC is taking a second look at its
participation in this election. Its difficulty is that pulling out will play
into the hands of Mugabe, who will simply go ahead with the elections and
claim victory.

That is surely not what the people of Zimbabwe want, to judge by the outcome
of the March election. With their vote in that election, the Zimbabweans
have demonstrated their will to get rid of Mugabe's corrupt and vicious

The MDC can at least take heart from that outcome as it considers whether to
take a calculated risk by contesting this election and allowing the people
of Zimbabwe to make their voice heard, once and for all.

It is, however, imperative that the opposition secures certain guarantees
from President Thabo Mbeki and the Southern African Development Community
before it takes part in this election.

To restore some measure of hope, Mugabe must allow all the observer missions
that are already in the country to help ensure that Zimbabweans cast their
votes in a climate devoid of fear.

SADC must also insist that the principles that governed the March elections,
such as posting the results outside polling stations, are adhered to.

The banning of MDC adverts from state media must be lifted and Biti must be
released from jail so that he can take part in the election.

If Mugabe fails to do that, Mbeki - as SADC's envoy to Zimbabwe - must go
back to the region and tell them that he has failed. Mbeki will have to be
honest and admit to SADC that Mugabe and his generals have become the
greatest threat to peace in the region.

Mbeki will have to be brave enough to report to SADC that his policy of
quiet diplomacy has been a monumental failure.

Mugabe has used it to buy time to inflict more pain on his country, safe in
the knowledge that the leaders of the region would not criticise him.

Mbeki will have to muster enough courage to finally tell the SADC leadership
that Mugabe has no regard whatsoever for democratic principles. He must tell
SADC that Mugabe is prepared to kill his own people to preserve his
dictatorship in Zimbabwe.

The current Zimbabwean government is illegal. It was voted out of power
during the March elections. Once Mugabe's regime has been declared illegal,
SADC will finally have to move to isolate it from the civilised world.

The Harare regime must be publicly condemned by the leaders of the region
and sanctions imposed with the help of the African Union and the United
Nations. The regime must be denied electricity, fuel and any form of trade
or aid.

Opposition to sanctions, on the grounds that the people of Zimbabwe will
suffer the most, must be dismissed as the excuse of those who have colluded
with the regime. The people of Zimbabwe are being murdered and starved into
submission by an evil regime.

Once the long and painful process of forcing the regime to stand down is
completed and Mugabe is gone, SADC will have to facilitate the building of a
government of national unity - or healing, as some prefer to call it - in

Only then will the country have a real future.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

We can't let Mugabe stop the spread of African democracy

Mo Ibrahim
The Observer,
Sunday June 22, 2008

Imagine if Barack Obama was arrested and detained on his way to address
campaign rallies. Of course, it's an absurd idea. So how come in Zimbabwe
the repeated detention of a presidential candidate - whose party already won
the parliamentary election and who himself defeated the incumbent in the
first round of the presidential election - is shrugged off as a routine
security operation? And how come the other candidate - President Mugabe -
seems to escape such problems?

Intimidation, harassment and violence have no place in a democracy. The
Zimbabwean people, like everyone else, have a right to live in freedom and
prosperity and to select their leaders through fair and democratic

The crisis is, of course, not only affecting the people of Zimbabwe but is a
great concern for all Africans. African civil society is taking a clear
stand. Our voice is clear, precise and loud enough to be heard by our
brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe who are standing up to intimidation and
fear. They have suffered enough and they demand our moral support and

We stand for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. Threats by Mugabe of civil
war if he loses the elections are alarming. As President Kagame of Rwanda
said last week, they raise the question of why, if the result is to be
ignored, an election is being held.

We condemn violence and intimidation, and we reiterate that it is
unacceptable to harass and detain political candidates. We regret that no
attempt has been made to safeguard the political rights of almost three
million Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa and neighbouring countries who
are unable to participate in this election. Having voted with their feet, no
doubt the regime was keen to exclude them. Africans are no longer willing to
accept lower standards of governance than the rest of the world. That's why
we hope, even at this late stage, to see a peaceful and fair election
process, well observed and freely reported.

We hope, too, following the election, that all Zimbabweans can come together
to rebuild a future for a wonderful country that can once again become a
symbol of our continent's progress. That is important for Zimbabwe and for
us all.

Africans know their continent is no lost cause. We know that it is a place
rich in talent and resources. There has been significant progress in Africa
in recent years. Democracy is spreading, as is respect for human rights and
the rule of law.

As an African businessman, I have seen for myself how Africa unhindered can
succeed. When I started my company, there were a handful of mobile handsets
in the continent. A decade later, Africa is the fastest-growing mobile phone
market in the world. That speaks volumes to me about Africa's potential.

But democratic governance, respect for human rights and rule of law are
fundamental to achieving this potential. They are missing in Zimbabwe at the
moment and cannot return until we have free and fair elections and all sides
respect the outcome.

Last week 40 African leaders signed an open letter calling for an end to
violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe and the restoration of full access for
humanitarian and aid agencies. You can add your voice by visiting I urge you to join the growing African coalition
demanding that this week is a turning point for Zimbabwe and a further step
forward for Africa.

∑ Dr Mo Ibrahim is one of Africa's leading businessmen. In 2006 he launched
the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which campaigns for good governance in Africa.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe shows Africa is still in the despots' grip

In 1997, a leading American foreign correspondent argued that, despite the
legacy of slavery, black people were better off in the US than Africa. Now,
he says, the horrors in Zimbabwe and elsewhere prove his point.

Keith Richburg
The Observer,
Sunday June 22, 2008

Writing about Africa more than a decade ago, I held up Zimbabwe as one of
the continent's rare success stories. With its impressive growth, high
literacy rates, a humming economy and the ability to feed itself, Zimbabwe
appeared to have avoided all the worst predictions - that it was destined to
succumb to the African affliction and become another Rwanda, Liberia or

'It was one of the few African countries at peace with itself,' I wrote in
my 1997 book, Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa. 'In those early
days of independence, Zimbabwe looked likely to tumble down the same slope
of bloodshed, chaos and instability that has engulfed much of the rest of
sub-Saharan Africa', but blacks and whites 'had seen what horrors lay "up
north" in Africa' and Zim, for all its faults, 'hadn't fallen down that

Eleven years is a long time and I was completely wrong. Zimbabwe has fallen
into that sadly familiar abyss, thanks entirely to President Robert Mugabe,
who, in his efforts to cling to power, has destroyed what middle class there
was, forced many of his countrymen to flee and pushed his once promising
country into violence and dire poverty.

In the US and Africa, my book garnered a fair amount of criticism for
deviating from the standard Afro-centric orthodoxy and offering some rather
unvarnished views of the continent's suffering, its abysmal leadership, the
rampant corruption. My conclusion was that I was fortunate that
circumstances meant I had been born outside Africa.

The assessment was admittedly bleak, a consequence of travelling the
continent from 1991 through 1994, a period during which I witnessed famine
and anarchy in Somalia, the genocide in Rwanda, the brutality of Liberia's
civil war, the breakdown of Zaire and the theft of elections by dictators
across the continent. The irony is that I saw Zimbabwe then as one of the
very few bright spots of hope on an otherwise hopeless landscape of despair.

Has the view changed? The last decade has been one of tremendous change for
the entire world and Africa is no exception. When I left the continent at
the end of 1994, I had only sent and received maybe a single email. I had
never used a cellphone. Back home in the US, no one would have dreamt that a
black man, the mixed-race child of a white woman and a Kenyan student, would
win the Democratic presidential nomination and have a chance at winning the
White House.

In Africa, much has changed for the better. The spread of cellphones and the
internet has improved daily life for many ordinary people. Countries that
seemed locked in perpetual civil war - Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Congo -
are emerging from the violence and trying to rebuild. Democracy has taken
hold and been consolidated in places such as Botswana and Ghana, that have
managed peaceful transitions. The trial of Charles Taylor in The Hague, and
trials for war crimes suspects from Sierra Leone, are evidence that the old
culture of impunity may be giving way to a new culture of accountability; in
some places the worst atrocities may no longer go unpunished.

Moreover, a continent that seemed left out of the global investment boom now
seems to be getting its share of attention from China, hungry to feed its
roaring economic growth. In Nairobi and Johannesburg I was taken aback by
the amount of Chinese economic activity - the construction, the Chinese
goods in the markets, even new Chinese restaurants. Some pockets,
particularly parts of southern Africa, those countries around Zimbabwe, are
experiencing economic growth.

But sadly, much around the continent has remained the same. Some of those
who I considered 'new' African leaders have proven themselves just as venal
and anxious to cling to power as the Big Men of old. And some of the places
offering a modicum of hope have fallen backwards. Ivory Coast and Kenya, two
places that during my time were considered islands of stability, places
where foreign correspondents went to regroup, file their stories and have a
good meal before flying into the next war zone, have slipped into their own
vicious violence. Both countries fell apart after elections that exposed
deep ethnic divisions, sad confirmation again that even in the most
seemingly stable countries, tribalism is never very far from the surface.

Somalia was a failed state ruled by warlords and rival militias when I last
set foot there in 1994, and it remains today a place of violence and
anarchy. And after the Rwanda genocide, the world said: 'Never again', only
to watch as a new genocide takes place in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Despite all the talk about an African renaissance of democracy - and some
notable election successes - by almost any measure repression remains
widespread. According to the Economist democracy index, of the 44 countries
of sub-Saharan Africa, 23 are listed as authoritarian, 13 as hybrids, seven,
including South Africa, are called 'flawed democracies'. The US-based
democracy-monitoring group Freedom House rates 14 sub-Saharan African
countries as 'not free' and 23 others were considered just partially free.
Freedom House said the year 2007 'saw the deterioration of freedom on the

And for most, along with repression is the poverty. Africa is still home to
most of the world's poorest countries, a fact that many of the more
optimistic like to obscure by pointing out facts such as how the stock
market in Ghana provides one of the world's highest returns on investment. A
broader view was supplied by Kofi Annan. With the rise in global food
prices, he warned recently of '100 million people on the brink of abject
poverty' which will be measured 'in the number of infant and child deaths
across Africa'.

It's depressing how little seems to have been done in some of the worst
areas. In Ethiopia, for example, when Meles Zenawi came to power in 1991
after a long guerrilla war, he promised that no Ethiopian would go to bed
hungry. Today, Ethiopia, one of the world's poorest nations, remains in the
midst of a food emergency and is sliding towards a new famine, although
relief agencies are loathe to use the 'F' word for fear of offending the

During a 2007 visit I was stunned by the abject poverty. Not that it
existed, since I had seen it before, but that the country seemed to stuck in
a time warp. Or, if anything, getting worse. And once again I saw the
international community, particularly the United States, playing the role of
enabler, this time giving Meles the backing to launch a costly war against
Somalia. Ethiopia, you see, is at the forefront of the 'war on terror' and
Meles is a valued ally.

Most of the bleakest predictions in 1997 have been borne out. Even those few
areas of optimism, specifically Zimbabwe, have been snuffed out. Some of the
main characters' names have changed. Admirable concerns over good governance
have too often been replaced by the 'war on terror'. But the overall
narrative of Africa remains stubbornly, depressingly familiar.

And what of that controversial conclusion, that I was grateful to have been
born in America - with all implications about the suffering of my ancestors,
but also with all the rights and opportunities that infers?

In answer, I would point to Barack Obama's success this year as exhibit A.
Whatever happens in November, he has defied conventional wisdom about race
in America and has become an inspiration to the black and African diaspora
around the world, from the slums of Nairobi to the seething black suburbs
ringing Paris. As Obama says in his standard stump speech, his story can
only be possible in America.

'In short, thank God that I am an American,' I wrote back in 1997. And
seeing all that is happening now in this country, and across the African
continent, that is one sentiment, despite the criticism, I cannot change.

∑ Keith Richburg is New York bureau chief and former foreign editor of the
Washington Post. Out of America is published by Basic Books

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The net closes tight

Steven Price in Harare

June 21, 2008

Despite all the bullish rhetoric from their own board and the backing from
Cricket South Africa, Zimbabwe is becoming increasingly isolated as a result
of the deteriorating political and social situation inside the country ahead
of the presidential election run-off.

Almost a hundred supporters of the opposition have been murdered, with
thousands more beaten and driven into hiding. There is every indication that
things will get worse in the coming days. Food and fuel are increasingly
scarce and the economy is shot to pieces. Inflation is over one million per
cent and one US dollar currently buys you 7.4 billion Zimbabwe ones.

Until now, Zimbabwe Cricket has been insulated, able to count on support
from a number of senior ICC countries. As recently as April, Peter Chingoka,
ZC's chairman, was still in such a strong position that the ICC moved its
annual meeting from London in the face of a probable ban on him being
allowed entry to the UK.

But things have changed. For a long time, Zimbabwe's friends in the cricket
world were willing to overlook many of the country's deficiencies as well as
being happy to gloss over some glaring issues in the running of the board,
not to mention the desperately poor standard of their cricket both
domestically and internationally.

However, things are no longer so straightforward. In the last few days the
European Union has taken a step closer to widening sanctions against the
Mugabe regime, and it seems increasingly likely that a list of people banned
from visiting Europe because of links with the president will be extended.

Given that Chingoka has already been banned by the UK because of his links
to Mugabe, his name is almost certain to be on the list. Sources close to
the UK government are also believed to have Ozias Bvute, ZC's overtly
political managing director, firmly in their sights. It is possible the USA
will follow suit.

With the world's attention now firmly on Zimbabwe, there is growing unease
with the stance adopted by cricket's administrators. Brushing everything
under the carpet, as the ICC did with the independent forensic audit into ZC
earlier this year, will not be so easy when the great and the good of the
game meet in Dubai next week. The paradox of Chingoka wining and dining with
his buddies in five-star hotels while his country goes to the dogs will be
one of the less palatable sights on display.

But the ICC, which has looked increasingly irrelevant with the advent of the
IPL and Stanford, will risk looking even more out of touch if its executive
continues to pretend Zimbabwe's problems are nothing to concern it.

The official line put forward by Zimbabwe's board that sport and politics
don't mix looks almost pathetic against the backdrop of what is happening
all around it. "Why should we be isolated?" Lovemore Banda, the board's
media mouthpiece, said this week. "We don't understand why people would want
to mix what is happening in our country politically with sport." Even in a
country where official denial is the norm, this was verging on fantasy.

"For now we are focusing on playing more cricket," he added. "We are going
to visit countries that come to visit us." That raises a question. Just who
is still willing to play against them?

Players themselves, so often left high and dry by their own boards, are
taking the lead, adopting a firm line despite what administrators' political
expediency dictates. News that South Africa's cricketers are prepared to
defy CSA if told to tour Zimbabwe will come as a bitter blow to ZC and the
appeasing elements to the south. If things continue to go downhill in
Zimbabwe it is inevitable that more players will follow suit, and not just
from the usual countries.

The ICC can no longer fudge and hide. It will have to consider what to do
with Zimbabwe sooner rather than later.

Fewer countries are willing to play against it, and almost none will tour
there. With the stand taken by South Africa's players, Zimbabwe's only
friends left are from the Asian block, a reward for Chingoka's puppy-dog
support. But India indefinitely postponed a tour there due this month and it
is hard to see any too many countries wanting to play a side which brings so
much political baggage to the table and who have zero appeal to broadcasters
and sponsors.

Then there is Chingoka. Yes, he has important friends, but he is becoming a
liability as Zimbabwe is increasingly seen as a public-relations sore. He
will cling to power as long as he can, but behind the scenes there is a
feeling that Zimbabwe might be manageable but for him. He will have to work
harder than ever in Dubai to convince board heads that he and his country
are worth all the trouble they cause.

The end of Zimbabwe's spell at cricket's top table is drawing closer. For a
decade they punched above their weight. For the last five years they have
become less credible and more problematical. The irony is that while the ICC
has clung to the "sport and politics don't mix" defence, it will be politics
and not sport that finishes Zimbabwe off.

Steven Price is a freelance journalist based in Harare

© Cricinfo

Back to the Top
Back to Index