The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe faces bleak future after
The Herald, UK
June 22 2008
MICHAEL SETTLE June 23 2008
faces a grim and troubled future.
There was no doubt that even if Morgan
Tsvangirai had fought on and
contested the presidential election on June 27,
there would have been only
one outcome: 84-year-old Robert Gabriel Mugabe
would, with the army's help,
have continued his dictatorial rule, now in its
There was little doubt that when the presidential election
result in March
eventually came through, Mr Mugabe had lost. But, having
lost, the President
had at least to have the respectable sheen of a
democratic vote. So another
election was called, but this time the dictator
would make sure the people
would get it right, even if they had to be
bullied and threatened into
making the correct choice. And they
A campaign of violence and intimidation by Zanu-PF forces
ensued. Some 85
people were killed under the grisly-named Operation
Decapitation. As many as
200,000 supporters of the Movement for Democratic
Change were forced from
their homes. People were threatened and tortured. Mr
Tsvangirai himself was
harassed and detained. A colleague was charged with
MDC adverts were banned and rallies were cancelled by state
order. Even food
aid destined for MDC-supporting areas was diverted to those
loyal to the
Then last Friday in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's
second city, the President made a
fateful declaration: "The MDC will never
be allowed to rule this country,
never ever. Only God who appointed me will
remove me, not the MDC, not the
What now? Some observers
fear the worst.
Wilf Mbanga, editor of the independent newspaper The
Zimbabwean, lives in
self-imposed exile in the UK accused of being an enemy
of the people.
"Now, he will want to destroy the MDC once and for all. He
will kill a lot
of people. You can expect a huge exodus of
Knox Chitiyo, a former lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe and head of
the Africa programme at the Royal United Services
Institute, said he did not
believe there would be a "mass
"People know that, however terrible things are now, if it came
to civil war,
things would be 10 times worse. The state has the capacity to
genocide," he said.
In the 1980s, Mr Mugabe's Fifth Brigade
mounted a terror campaign on the
people of Matabeleland; 20,000 were
On the diplomatic front, Mr Miliband last night urged the UN
A long-term solution to Zimbabwe's crisis
appears now to lie outside the
Peter Hain, the ex-cabinet
minister and anti-apartheid campaigner, urged
Pretoria and Beijing to "pull
the plug" on the regime by calling in
Zimbabwe's debt and pulling investment
out of the country.
He declared: "The bloodshed and the blood that has
been spilt by
Zimbabweans - ordinary black African Zimbabweans that Mugabe
claims to have
been supporting - is blood that trickles all over Beijing and
all over the
other countries of the world, including my former
anti-apartheid friends and
comrades in South Africa."
leaders have spoken out. Levy Mwanawasa, President of
noted: "What is happening in Zimbabwe is embarrassing
to all of
Many an eye will be on Thabo Mbeki, the South Africa President, who
to have some influence on his neighbour. Last night, he called for
negotiations to decide Zimbabwe's future.
Yet negotiations seem a
long way away. The world is holding its breath.
'All Robert Mugabe's campaigning goes on after
June 23, 2008
Beatings, intimidation, mass indoctrinations in the night... a Zimbwean
farmer is all too familiar with the election methods of Zanu (PF)
On Saturday night the radio sprang to life in the kitchen. It was my
father-in-law. "There's a chanting mob outside the pack-house," he
My heart was throbbing already. I pushed the transmit button: "OK.
informed," I replied.
Laura, my wife, went to try to phone
people and get them to pray. Why had
our workers not told us about this
pungwe, I thought? It must be a mob from
outside our area. I could hear them
chanting a mile down the road from our
house. I wondered, as I had done so
many times before, if this was it.
The mob moved on towards us and then
past. We were given another night's
Last weekend we had a big
pungwe - a political indoctrination meeting - on
the farm. It was after
Mugabe had come to our little town of Chegutu,
southwest of Harare, and
addressed the crowd with threats of "war". A pungwe
starts when the shadows
lengthen and the sun goes down and darkness falls
over the land. It does not
stop till after the sun has risen again.
All our workers had to go, as
well as all their wives with babies and any
children over the age of 12.
Some of them didn't go; so the mob sent little
bands of chanting youth
militia with sticks to fetch the absentees, drag
them out of their houses
and beat them for non-attendance. Through the night
we heard the chanting
and the slogans and the re-education speeches ringing
out into the cold
darkness for hour after hour after hour. On and on it
went, striking fear
into my heart. I got up and paced around in the cold
When the first birds began to sing, I thought: "How can these
after such a night as this?" Then the birdsong was drowned out.
There was a
terrible noise like a swarm of bees. I knew the beatings had
begun again and
I listened helpless, tormented, in fear but praying
I spoke to our workers later. "Mount Carmel workers were all
made to stand
to one side," Amon said. "We were shaking because we were so
afraid of what
was to happen to us. Those that had been polling agents for
MDC had water
poured over them."
It was a frosty morning. "The major
[Major Tauye, brought in from the Army
to run pungwes in Chegutu district]
was waving his gun around everywhere,"
he went on.
I learnt that the
MDC polling agents were made to put their forehead on the
ground and lift
their whole bodies up on their toes and then hold the
position as they shook
in the cold. After some time they were given sticks
and had to beat each
The Major then said: "You say we beat you! We don't beat you! You
ones that beat!"
"Will the people vote?" I asked.
are in pain but we cannot speak because we do not know who will tell.
if we make a report the police will not help," Amon said.
I had seen the
hope for a better future draining out of him. He had been
kicked off one
farm already and I sensed he was worried we would throw in
"I will not leave," I said. "They must shoot me if they want me
I remembered another friend whose workers were sobbing when she was
to pack up a couple of weeks ago after three generations on the farm.
knew they were on their own then, voiceless in the
On Friday morning I went to see James Etheridge. He had been
evicted in the
darkness earlier in the week by Senator Madzongwe's men and
the local hit
man, Gilbert Moyo, with a large mob. James was in a borrowed
all his clothes had been stolen. We were trying to see if
there was anything
that hadn't been looted left in the houses.
drove through the gate and down the drive. Straight ahead there was a
of large rocks blocking the road. As we got closer, men wielding sticks
up and started coming menacingly towards us. Our presence had the effect
a stone thrown into a hornets' nest. Soon the rocks started to fly in our
direction. I saw figures running through the bush to try to get around
behind us and cut us off. "OK, let's get out of here," I said and reversed
as fast as I could.
Between the Etheridges and ourselves we have
spent nearly 30 hours at the
police station this week making reports and
failing to get a reaction.
Yesterday we finally saw our first observers.
We met them at the police
station. Having the observers there worked like
magic: police reacted and
even moved quickly after we reported that all the
Etheridges belongings -
the ones that had not yet been stolen - had been
dumped on the side of the
When the observers left to come
to my house, James's wife Kerry and his
brother were ambushed and started
getting beaten with sticks. The police
stood by because they had not brought
bullets for their guns and the
senator's men were armed. They had to run for
it and managed to get away.
While I was on the way back to my family with
the observers, our workers
were rounded up by youths with sticks going to
the pungwe. They started
demanding that Laura come out of the house and they
beat one of our dogs
with a stick at the gate. Then before I got there they
headed off again,
running across the veldt like a pack of wild dogs seeking
their next prey.
The observers didn't know about pungwes; and they have
been advised not to
go out after dark, so I suppose they will never see
them. Almost all
Mugabe's campaigning goes on after dark. The pungwes have
spread like a
great cancer even to town.
Owen, one of our workers in
Chegutu, said he has had to go to all-night
pungwes for the past three
"Will you be an MDC polling agent again?" I said to Lorence,
"Ah no." he said. "We are too afraid
for that. We need to get out of here
before the pungwe tonight because they
are going to beat us."I got them into
town and gave them fifteen billion
dollars each for their bus fares to a
"safe" house 80km away.
went around town I talked to people. It was tense. They were full of
and terrible stories about atrocities taking place; but we were
could sense a strong undercurrent of solidarity in the common
suffering that we are all bearing.
None of us knows what will happen
next. Dictators like Mugabe do not step
down. Like Hitler, they go on till
their country is in ruins and their
people are in rags. World leaders
tut-tut as the crimes against humanity go
on unhindered; but their
perpetrators live on and travel the world with
Etheridge's father, Richard, said to me after they were evicted in the
darkness this week: "The first thing that I shall do when I am back on the
farm is start digging foundations again."
And so, upon the ruins
perhaps, that is the way it will have to be. But we
pray the rebuilding can
take place before everything is destroyed.
Zimbabweans hope opposition poll pullout will 'save lives'
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabweans welcomed opposition leader Morgan
decision on Sunday to withdraw from next week's run-off
election, saying the
move would "save lives" as pre-poll violence
"This is the best move he could ever make," said Itai Madzana
open-air car wash stand in Harare's upmarket Avenues
"It will save many lives. We have got to a situation where we
no longer know
whether we will see each other tomorrow because of the
A security guard in central Harare who spoke on condition of
repeated the sentiment, saying Tsvangirai's decision "will save a
"I failed to go to church this morning after ZANU-PF
youths ordered everyone
to attend their rally or risk being beaten," he
said, referring to the
Tsvangirai, in announcing his
decision, said violence had made a fair vote
impossible, claiming more than
80 of his party's supporters had been killed
in a campaign of
The announcement came after his Movement for Democratic
national council met to debate whether to stay in the race, in
party had hoped to topple veteran leader Robert
Tsvangirai's announcement drew applause from party supporters
press conference at the opposition leader's
Besides the claims about supporters being killed, the MDC also
have been injured and 200,000 internally displaced. More than
have been destroyed by ruling party militias, they
"The police have been reduced to bystanders while ZANU-PF militias
crimes against humanity, varying from rape, torture, murder, arson,
abductions and other atrocities," Tsvangirai told the press
"Given the totality of these circumstances, we believe a
which reflects the will of the people is
Patrick Madzvimbo, a property manager in the capital, was
doubtful that the
withdrawal would bring an end to the violence.
are in trouble. Just wait until that old man speaks," he said, referring
Mugabe, who had vowed that voting the MDC leader into power was
to voting for war.
"The violence will intensify in urban areas.
Economically, we are in trouble
for the next five years and things will be
worse. Now what will the region
say about Zimbabwe? We are bound to be
Before Tsvangirai's announcement, hordes of ruling party
youths armed with
whips and sticks gathered at the venue of a rally planned
by the MDC on the
outskirts of the capital. Tsvangirai had been expected to
Zimbabwe crisis may force
regional governments to act: analysts
JOHANNESBURG, June 22 (AFP)
The Zimbabwe opposition leader's
withdrawal on Sunday from this week's
presidential election run-off will
pressure regional governments to act
against veteran President Robert
Mugabe, analysts said.
Opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai's move was
described by analysts as a
potential moment of truth for Zimbabwe and the
The 14-nation Southern African Development Community may now face
choice but to take action against Mugabe, who has faced harsh
rights groups and Western powers as violence intensified
before the vote.
SADC countries, whose appointed mediator in the crisis
is South African
President Thabo Mbeki, have been divided by the Zimbabwe
criticised over a failure to take action.
loathe to criticise the 84-year-old former liberation hero,
in the region have begun speaking out, but a failure to find
has left them frozen by indecision.
"That is the most critical in the
future of Zimbabwe: what SADC is going to
do," said political analyst Dirk
Kotze of the Pretoria-based University of
Nations does not have a lot of bargaining power, the United
Britain even less. It is only SADC that is left with any type of
Analyst Chris Maroleng of the Institute for Security
Studies in South Africa
said the recent criticism of Mugabe by some regional
leaders shows they may
be poised to "take stronger action."
that he has been diminished, particularly after the spate of
have seen recently," Maroleng said.
While some leaders have remained
silent, growing violence has led to
surprising rebukes from leaders such as
Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos
Santos, who has been a Mugabe
Dos Santos recently urged his counterpart to "cease all forms of
intimidation and political violence", while leaders from Botswana, Tanzania
and Zambia have also raised their tone.
Countries such as Mozambique
and Namibia have remained faithful, however.
"What has been particularly
embarrassing for the region is that their
statements have been slow in
coming and very weak ... And Mugabe does not
pay even the slightest
attention to them," said Karin Alexander of the
Institute for Democracy in
The University of South Africa's Kotze said Tsvangirai's
virtually handing victory to Mugabe, may see the country's
economic crisis deepen -- possibly steering Zimbabwe into the
violence seen in Kenya.
Kenya was plunged into a deadly
political crisis following December
elections that was only resolved with
the formation of a national unity
"This withdrawal is not
under normal circumstances, it was not by choice.
Tsvangirai was almost
forced to do this. What it amounts to is that they
want to create a
constitutional crisis," he told AFP.
"It is very difficult to foresee a
situation where this will simply be
accepted, that there won't be any
upheaval from MDC supporters."
Kotze said Zimbabwe was "exceptionally
close" to a Kenya-style crisis.
"It is going to spill over and we are
going to see violence from the MDC."
Political analyst Olmo von
Meijenfeldt of the Institute for Democracy in
Southern Africa told AFP the
election could have made things worse if it
were to go forward.
think it's fairly obvious that specifically from the side of the region
that a negotiated settlement is the only way of resolving the political
Negotiations, however, would clearly be difficult, with
to accept a deal that does not grant him real
As for Mugabe, sharing power with a rival he has often branded as
of former colonial power Britain would be a bitter pill to
Analysis: Zimbabwe's collapse is no longer
question of if, but when
June 23, 2008
Richard Beeston, Foreign Editor
For a man who has
battled for nearly a decade to become President of
Tsvangirai's decision to pull out of the race against
Robert Mugabe only
days before polling must have been the toughest of his
former union boss has suffered arrest and beatings at the hands of his
rival. His supporters have been murdered, arrested and tortured. Many wanted
him to continue the fight until election day on Friday, but he reached the
conclusion that staying in the presidential race would only lead to more
As Mr Mugabe has made clear in both words and deeds over
the past week, the
outcome of the vote was never in doubt. A clear majority
of Zimbabweans may
want him out, but there is not much that the civilian
population can do
against the combined might of the Zanu (PF) militia and
the security forces,
not to mention the electoral authorities, which have
still not given a full
account of the last vote. In Mr Mugabe's own words,
"only God" could remove
him from office.
Mr Tsvangirai has probably
rightly calculated that he can still prevail, but
that he will have to adopt
different tactics to oust Mr Mugabe. The battle
will now move beyond the
country's borders to the international community,
in particular the
14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC),
the African Union
and the United Nations.
In the past South Africa, and in particular
President Mbeki, has shielded Mr
Mugabe from outside pressure. There is now
growing evidence that Zimbabwe
has become an embarrassment for African
leaders and a burden on its
neighbours, where millions of Zimbabweans have
SADC members such as Zambia, Tanzania, Angola and
Botswana have broken ranks
to criticise Mr Mugabe's regime. He has also come
under regular attack from
South Africa's ruling African National Congress
and its leader, Jacob Zuma,
Mr Mbeki's likely successor next
The aim of the anti-Mugabe forces will be to turn Zimbabwe into a
state. As a first move, the international community can refuse to
Mr Mugabe when he is sworn in for another term as President.
be increased against the leadership, particularly any figures
for the latest violence. If South Africa throws its full weight
effort, the regime in Zimbabwe will be doomed.
America are likely to press for action from the United Nations
Council, where even Zimbabwe's old allies, such as China, may
themselves from his regime.
While political pressure grows from abroad,
the unopposed re-election of Mr
Mugabe is likely to lead to the final
collapse of the Zimbabwean economy.
The regime may still retain the loyalty
of party activists and the security
forces, but its ability to function will
be seriously tested amid spiralling
inflation and growing food
The combined political and economic forces squeezing the
country should make
it clear to the regime that it is not possible to turn
the clock back to the
situation that existed before the first-round
elections in March, which Mr
Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic
It is not now a question of whether Mr Mugabe's regime will
when. The worst possible outcome would be a descent into
and the need for an international intervention force to
Hopefully before that happens the veteran Zimbabwean
leader can be persuaded
to bow out peacefully. That could allow some
political settlement to be
reached, perhaps a transitional period leading to
fresh elections. Mr
Tsvangirai may yet succeed Mr Mugabe, without the need
Sound and fury of Robert Mugabe's tyranny
June 23, 2008
Catherine Philp in Harare
A week is a long time in politics. A
month in Zimbabwe is an age. When I
left the country in May, Morgan
Tsvangirai was on his way back in, bloodied
and bowed but still vowing to
fight on despite the escalating brutality
Zimbabwe's transformation now seems complete: from hope to
fear in four
weeks. On a 500-mile (800km) journey across the country, I saw
howling Zanu (PF) militiamen, careering down main roads waving
in clear view. In Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold
previously untouched by
the violence, a doctor promised to call when the
next victim from the
Movement for Democratic Change came in. It took only a
couple of hours.
Right in the middle of Harare, next to one of its
smartest suburbs, a
re-education camp was in full session, crowds sitting in
the long grass in
identical Zanu T-shirts, being taught to chant pro-Mugabe
slogans and punch
the air with their fists.
Everywhere were the
posters of President Mugabe, plastered over walls,
announcing "The Final Battle for Total Control".
We were greeted by
Moses, an old friend, whose wife lives in one of the
townships to which the
violence had recently spread.
Every day for the past week, she had been
rounded up by Zanu (PF) members,
along with her neighbours, and marched to a
school building where they were
forced to join in the proMugabe chants from
9pm to 3am. On Wednesday a
senior party official pulled out a pistol and
fired through the roof to show
what would happen if the election went wrong.
"She was shaking," Moses said.
"Before, we were just hearing these
stories from the rural areas," Mr
Marangetza, an injured opposition
supporter, said in a hospital in Bulawayo.
"Now it's coming to us here in
the cities where we thought we were safe."
If a month ago you had to go
looking for trouble, today it is all around.
When we drove into Harare, the
usually busy streets were deserted. "Nobody
is going out," Moses said. "If
you do not have your Zanu ID they will beat
you and take you to the
Around the re-education camp near the upmarket Chisipite
wealthy householders are treated to a nightly pungwe, the
Shona word for a
party - a misnomer, in this case - for what are in fact
of revolutionary singing, West-bashing and pro-Mugabe
chanting, all at the
barrel of a gun. The chanters are their own domestic
servants, forced there
by the youth militia who go door-to-door rounding
them up and forcing on
them T-shirts and headscarves proclaiming "100 per
The depth of brutality is shocking: the six-year-old
child burnt alive; the
wife of Harare's mayor-elect whose hands and foot
were chopped off before
she was flung into the flames and burnt there too.
But the breadth of it is
astounding too. So much so that even usually
compliant SADC observers were
forced to report seeing two people shot dead
in front of them.
Mr Marangetza went to an MDC rally on Saturday evening,
emboldened in part
by the presence of observers. Two truckloads of Zanu
youth militias turned
up regardless, waiting patiently for the supporters to
observers left very quickly then," he said, "like they knew
happen." The youths set upon a man in his sixties, beating him to
ground, and when Mr Marangetza intervened they beat him to the ground
breaking his arm in two places and opening a bloody gash in his
The violence had previously been concentrated in Mashonaland and
traditional Mugabe strongholds which turned against him in March
and are now
paying the price. Its spread to Bulawayo, a long-time opposition
long given up on by Zanu, came as a disturbing turn. And then
came the most
audacious raid yet on Mr Tsvangirai's rally planned for
yesterday in Harare.
"It has to stop, the whole world is watching him
now," the Bulawayo doctor
said as she studied Mr Marangetza's X-rays. The
patient was less sure: "I
think we've got him for life." Yet he remained
defiant. "I will express
myself on the election day," he said.
was before Mr Tsvangirai pulled out. A day is an age in Zimbabwe. The
may be over, but is the violence? The chants continue to rise from the
in the distance and the Zanu trucks thunder through Harare. This does
feel over yet.
Tsvangirai's risky gamble needs regional backing
Sun 22 Jun
2008, 19:38 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, June 22 (Reuters) -
Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai has gambled his
political career by pulling out
of an election run-off and he must now count
on regional action as well as
sympathy to have a hope of unseating President
free election, the opposition leader would have been well placed to win
Friday's vote after beating Mugabe in the first round, but he announced
Sunday that political violence made a fair ballot impossible.
announcement was hedged though -- with a plea to Africa and the world to
intervene in the crisis. He also spoke of the need to work on a transition
of power away from Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980, suggesting a readiness
"It is a bold statement, but he does appear to be
leaving his options open.
This sounds like a provisional pull-out," said
Brian Raftopolous, a
political analyst with the Zimbabwe
Tsvangirai, a fiery 56-year-old former trade unionist, always
run-off would be difficult and only reluctantly agreed to take
His Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said he won the outright
needed on March 29 to avoid a second round of voting, but agreed to
to avoid granting automatic victory to Mugabe, 84.
sight, giving up now would have the same result.
But the picture has
African countries have joined Mugabe's Western critics in
voicing anger at
poll violence -- the opposition says 86 supporters have
been killed. Not
long ago, regional states sat silent and gave tacit backing
to Mugabe, seen
by many as a hero of the struggle for
The government blames Tsvangirai's followers for the
violence but the region
has certainly not taken up that
In fact, southern African states show growing
impatience with Mugabe and
fear total meltdown in Zimbabwe.
crisis has driven millions of Zimbabweans into their countries,
economies and creating tensions even in powerhouse South Africa --
xenophobic violence exploded last month.
Zambian President Levy
Mwanawasa, also chairman of the Southern African
(SADC), showed understanding for Tsvangirai after the
"Elections held in such an environment will not only be
will also bring embarrassment to the SADC region and the
entire continent of
Africa," he said.
But Tsvangirai will need action
as well as words from regional leaders if
his gamble is not to backfire. The
United States and former colonial power
Britain have little
"There is not a huge amount (regional leaders) can do. What
stressed since the year dot is sovereignty. Part of that is
Western colonial interests, but it can be as effectively
regional leaders," said Tom Cargill of Britain's Chatham
SOUTH AFRICA KEY
Most important of will be
the role of South Africa.
President Thabo Mbeki has never shown much
fondness for Tsvangirai, while
the Zimbabwean opposition leader has openly
criticised Mbeki's role as
mediator in the crisis.
But the MDC leader
has a better relationship with the increasingly
influential Jacob Zuma, head
of South Africa's ruling African National
Congress, who shares his humble
roots. Tsvangirai is the self-taught son of
a bricklayer who worked his way
up through the union movement.
By withdrawing, Tsvangirai could also be
moving towards a plan Mbeki has
been said to favour by South Africa's press
-- calling off the election to
allow a national unity
Mbeki was quick to say that South Africa would try to
persuade Mugabe and
Tsvangirai to meet to discuss the
"...that most certainly is what we would try to encourage," Mbeki
Until now, prospects for such
talks appeared limited. Neither side trusted
the other to head an interim
administration. Both believed they could win
the vote -- by whatever
Now regional pressure could make a difference in getting Mugabe to
table. He is undoubtedly in a weaker position than before the March 29
elections, when his party also lost its parliamentary majority. Without a
contested run-off, even a flawed one, his legitimacy could be more
"With the MDC withdrawing, I think it is back to
negotiations," said Susan
Booysen, a political analyst at the University of
the Witwatersrand in
Such negotiations could test
Tsvangirai to the full. His party has suffered
deep internal divisions in
the past -- some over questions of his judgment
and style -- although
differences have been patched up for now.
Tsvangirai has made his name as
the only person who has come close to ending
ruling ZANU-PF party and the generals fighting behind Mugabe are
their political nous as well as a readiness to use whatever means
to avoid losing their 28-year grip on power.
"For Tsvangirai himself,
time is running out," Knox Chitiyo of London's
Royal United Services
Institute said earlier this month. "Everyone talks
about this being
ZANU-PF's end game but I think it's also the MDC's end
game." (Writing by
Paul Simao; editing by Matthew Tostevin)
Fresh dilemmas over Zimbabwe
By Peter Greste
When Morgan Tsvangirai first decided to contest the run-off election
several months ago, he made a calculated gamble.
He judged that his
support across the country was so great that as long as there was a high enough
turnout, they could swamp any attempt by the ruling party, Zanu-PF, to rig the
Morgan Tsvangirai has been forced to admit the failure of his
He also bet that the region's election watchdogs and diplomatic pressure
would keep Zanu relatively honest, and make sure it ran what would, at least
superficially, be a reasonably balanced election.
With less than a week to go before the poll, Morgan Tsvangirai has admitted
that he was wrong.
In his statement, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change cited
seven reasons for choosing to bow out:
State sponsored violence: According to the MDC, international human
rights groups and, increasingly, regional election monitors, Zanu-PF party thugs
have waged a campaign of intimidation and violence. They have not only used
party supporters, but state security institutions like the police and the
Inability to campaign: A Western diplomat described Morgan Tsvangirai
as a "prisoner of Harare". The city is ringed by official and unofficial
roadblocks which effectively stopped the MDC's leader from reaching his
supporters. Police had detained him at least five times, MDC rallies had been
banned and in a final blow, armed members of the Zanu-PF youth brigade occupied
a stadium in Harare where the party had hoped to hold a major rally.
Decimation of MDC structures: The party said more than 80 of its
members had been murdered over recent months. Hundreds more were in hiding,
making it impossible for the party to organise.
No confidence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission: In its statement,
the party said it was shocked by the ZEC's level of partisanship, and accused
the commission of being staffed by Zanu-PF militia.
No access to the media: Independent media have been attacked or
banned from reporting in Zimbabwe. State media either ignores the MDC, or
portrays its members as violent stooges of the west. It has refused to carry MDC
Defiance by Mugabe: In recent speeches, President Mugabe has
repeatedly said he would refuse to give up the gains of the liberation war
because of an 'x' on a ballot paper. He also said "only God can remove me".
Planned Election Rigging: The MDC listed what it described as an
elaborate and decisive plan by Zanu to rig the elections.
In a news conference to announce his decision, Morgan Tsvangirai said: "We
can't ask the people to cast their vote… when that vote will cost their lives."
"This violent retributive agenda has seen over 200,000 people internally
displaced and over 86 MDC supporters killed. Over 20,000 homes have been
destroyed and over 10,000 people have been injured and maimed in this orgy of
Given such an exhaustive catalogue, it is hardly surprising that Morgan
Tsvangirai saw no point in continuing with the campaign.
The MDC says Zimbabwean police and military have led the
But he has also made it harder for the region to offer the kind of diplomatic
support that the MDC had hoped to win sooner.
According to Zimbabwe's Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the election
will still go ahead.
He said it was now too late to stop the process, and the Zimbabwean people
should not be denied the right to vote.
So, it now seems inevitable that President Mugabe will be duly declared the
victor and inaugurated in line with Zimbabwe's constitution.
The process will effectively confer legal and constitutional legitimacy on
President Mugabe. That gives him a powerful argument for regional and
international recognition of his administration.
If the MDC had gone through with the poll, election observers had already
indicated they were unlikely to declare it free and fair.
With an unequivocally negative verdict, regional governments would have had
grounds for withholding that recognition, and forcing President Mugabe to
negotiate not as a president, but as the leader of the minority party. (In the
parliamentary election held at the same time as the first round of the
presidential vote, Zanu-PF won 97 seats, to the MDC's 110.)
However, there are already signs that the region may refuse to accept a
Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), told a news conference that it was
"scandalous for SADC to remain silent on Zimbabwe".
"It will be bad if the majority of [SADC] leaders don't agree with me," he
said. "What is happening in Zimbabwe is embarrassing to all of us."
He went on to argue that the elections should be postponed until further
"I urge the authorities in Zimbabwe to implement this postponement to allow
for the establishment of conditions that are suitable for the holding of
genuinely free and fair elections, in accordance with Zimbabwean laws."
There are signs that SADC - the one organisation that Robert Mugabe still
seems to respond to - will indeed agree with President Mwanawasa.
Even before Sunday's announcement, other regional leaders including,
significantly, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, also called on
President Mugabe to "stop the violence and intimidation".
It remains to be seen whether Mr Mwanawasa can galvanise
President dos Santos is one of the Zimbabwean leader's staunchest allies, and
such a public rebuke is likely to sting.
But apart from withholding recognition, it is hard to see what levers the
region, or any foreign powers, can pull.
Sanctions would only hurt the poor, who are already suffering under the
weight of the economic crisis - and anyway they offer only long-term pressure.
Direct military intervention is not a realistic prospect, and nor is a
So, it comes back to negotiations. The government has shown no serious
appetite for compromise, and the MDC has agreed to talks more because it needs
to appear willing to compromise, than because it really wants to join hands with
But the most powerful incentive for talks is the economic crisis.
Even the most hardened Zanu minister would recognise that the country cannot
continue on its current path, and that the only way out of inflation reckoned to
be around 2,000,000% is some kind of political compromise. But that still looks
a long way off.
Zim govt eager to claim easy victory
by Wayne Mafaro Monday 23 June 2008
HARARE - Zimbabwe's
government appeared eager on Sunday to claim an easy
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to notify electoral
authorities of his
decision to withdraw from next Friday's presidential
run-off election so
that President Robert Mugabe could be declared winner.
defeated Mugabe in the first round voting in March and
remained favourite to
win the run-off poll despite political violence
against his supporters,
announced he was pulling out of the election because
a free and fair vote
was impossible because of widespread political
Information Minister Bright Matonga said the ruling ZANU PF party was
unperturbed by Tsvangirai's decision to pull out, adding the party was
pressing ahead with preparations for the June 27 vote but would be equally
happy if Mugabe was declared winner because his challenger decided to pull
out of the race.
Matonga told ZimOnline: "The law requires that he
(Tsvangirai) notifies the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in writing of
his decision to withdraw
upon which the other candidate is declared
Matonga urged Tsvangirai to write to the ZEC about his decision
to pull out
which he said remained a mere "gimmick" unless it was
communicated to the
electoral commission in writing.
The run-off poll
is being held because Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in March
but fell short of
the margin required to take over the presidency.
intimidation of supporters of Tsvangirai's opposition Movement
Democratic Change (MDC) party erupted soon after the March polls and has
worsened as the run-off date approached, with the opposition accusing the
ruling party of carrying out a systematic campaign to force people not to
support the opposition in the crucial run-off election.
Mugabe - who
has repeatedly vowed never to hand power to the opposition that
he says is a
puppet of Britain and the West - denies authorising violence
accuses the MDC of carrying out violence in a bid to tarnish his
Tsvangirai, who has been detained by police five times while
said 86 MDC supporters had been killed and 200 000 displaced
homes since March.
"We in the MDC have resolved that we
will no longer participate in this
violent illegitimate sham of an election
process," he said announcing his
decision to pull out of the
The opposition leader called for the Southern African
(SADC), African Union and United Nations to intervene
in Zimbabwe to restore
the rule of law, peace and conditions for a free and
South Africa, whose President Thabo Mbeki is SADC's
mediator in Zimbabwe, on
Sunday urged Tsvangirai to continue to participate
in dialogue to find a
solution to the country's problems.
very encouraged that Mr Tsvangirai, himself, says he is not closing
completely on negotiations," said Mukoni Ratshitanga, the spokesman
Meanwhile MDC secretary general Tendai Biti is due in court on
answer to charges of treason arising from a controversial
document that the
state claims was authored by the opposition politician and
outlines plans to
seize power through unconstitutional means.
denies penning the document while his party claims that his arrest and
as well as the arrest of several other MDC leaders was just part of an
attempt by the government to derail and destabilize the opposition
Biti faces the death penalty if convicted of treason. -
The end of the road
Why Morgan has said "no" to the
Violence, intimidation and murder have won the day in Zimbabwe.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change,
the inevitable and withdrew from next Friday's presidential
At a press conference at his home in Strathven, in Harare's
a subdued Tsvangirai said what we all knew to be true -
that the electoral
process was a shame, and that any prospect of a free and
fair vote had
He said that state-sponsored violence,
which has spread throughout the
country in the past few weeks, had been a
ploy to keep Mugabe in power, and
in the light of the continued intimidation
and murder of MDC people he had
no option but to withdraw.
same day, and symbolic of what has been happening since the first
for president back in March, a planned MDC rally was wrecked by
thugs and the police, in an orgy of attacks, beatings, and
Official estimates of the number killed by Zanu-PF action since
at 75, but many observers believe that to be a ludicrously low
is also known that some 200,000 people have been forcibly
activists have been targeted by death squads. Their wives and
been beaten, sometimes to death. Houses have been burned to
lives wrecked, hopes for the future destroyed.
hope for freedom now is that outsiders - specifically, governments
to the Southern Africa Development Corporation, the African Union,
United Nations - will finally bring genuine pressure on Mugabe, and
him to stand down, or to facilitate a free and fair presidential
But they are not likely to do the first, and he is
definitely not going to
do the second.
So, in the light of these
feeble hopes, and as a fateful week in our country
begins, your own
correspondent Moses Moyo would like to draw on history for
In 1956 the people of Hungary rose against their Soviet
oppressors. The Red
Army responded with tanks, guns and brutality. The
elected Prime Minister of
a free Hungary, Imre Nagy, appealed to the West
He didn't get it. And neither will we.
Posted on Sunday,
22 June 2008 at 20:18
The Herald, UK
June 22 2008
COMMENT June 23 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai ought to be the president of
Zimbabwe by now and
international aid should be pouring into a country on
the brink of
starvation and economic collapse. Instead, Robert Mugabe, the
freedom-fighter turned thug who has transformed his homeland from Africa's
bread basket to an economic basket case, cheated his rival into a run-off,
then demonstrated that he would stop at nothing to win. A campaign based on
murderous violence and the cynical withdrawal of food aid ensured that Mr
Tsvangirai has little chance of emerging triumphant.
He was right
yesterday to abandon the contest when casting votes in his
favour could cost
his supporters their lives. The election had become a
mockery of democracy.
This may hand victory to Mugabe in the short-term but
his victory will be a
pyrrhic one. Few, if any, foreign powers will
recognise his rule as
legitimate. The country is on the verge of collapse
with commercial maize
production at less than a tenth of 1990 levels and
more than five million
people likely to need food aid by early next year.
With life expectancy
standing at a world low of 34 for women and 37 for men,
the country's 1.7
million orphans mostly try to take care of each other.
The man with most
power to intervene - Thabo Mbeki of South Africa - has
disgracefully. His call yesterday for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to
absurd, given the latter's vulnerability. However, last week
leaders, and even voices within the ANC, began to speak out
brutality and express doubts that a fair election was
possible. They include
Angola's president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who like
Mugabe is a
While the US, Britain, the EU and the
UN compete to produce the most
eloquent condemnations of Mugabe's thuggery,
which he completely ignores,
only the 14 southern African nations that make
up the Southern African
Development Community, and South Africa in
particular, are capable of
imposing a government of national unity on this
bitterly divided country.
They must also ensure that Mugabe does not use the
political vacuum to
inflict further horrors on those he suspects of
disloyalty. Any national
unity government cannot succeed unless Mugabe is
cajoled into stepping down.
Economic sanctions, including the severing of
electricity supplies, may be
necessary to ram the point home.
hundreds more Zimbabweans die, Mugabe must be removed and his people
Is a coup the best Zimbabwe can hope for?
Sunday, 22nd June 2008
Paul Collier, the noted Oxford economist who used to be at the World Bank,
has a thought-provoking piece in The Washington Post today
arguing that the best, realistic solution to problems like Zimbabwe is a coup.
Here’s the nub of his argument:
So how can the grossly excessive powers of the Mugabes and Shwes of the
world be curtailed? After Iraq, there is no international appetite for using the
threat of military force to pressure thugs. But only military pressure is likely
to be effective; tyrants can almost always shield themselves from economic
sanctions. So there is only one credible counter to dictatorial power: the
country's own army.
Realistically, Mugabe and Shwe can be toppled only by a military coup. Of
course, they are fully aware of this danger, and thus have appointed their
cronies as generals and kept a watchful eye on any potentially restless junior
officers. Such tactics reduce the risk of a coup, but they cannot eliminate it:
On average, there have been two successful coups per year in the developing
world in recent decades. A truly bad government in a developing country is more
likely to be replaced by a coup than by an election:
In contexts such
as Zimbabwe and Burma, coups should be encouraged because they are likely to
lead to improved governance. (It's hard to imagine things getting much worse.)
Collier thinks that what the international
community has to work out is some way to guide coups, to create an international
trigger mechanism for them. Collier accepts that the United Nations is not
likely to be much use in this regard; too many dictatorial regimes would be wary
of the precedent it would set. So he suggests that the EU should withdraw
recognition from regimes that breach certain basic norms for three months at a
time, to provide a window of opportunity for action.
Obviously, a coup is far from ideal solution. Once a country—and
particularly, its military—develops this habit it is very hard to break out of
it. But in both Zimbabwe and Burma there is no international appetite for
intervention and the regimes have such little contempt for the welfare of their
own citizens that economic sanctions are not that effective. One wonders what
other potential solutions there are.
Robert Mugabe proves again he is a great survivor
Louis Weston in Harare
Last Updated: 10:14PM BST 22/06/2008
beds across Zimbabwe, the victims of brutal beatings by mobs
loyal to Robert
Mugabe offer the same defiant sentiment: "We will win."
To a man and woman,
they insist that their determination to oust the old man
is unbowed, and not
only would they willingly go back to the polling
stations, so would everyone
But now it will not happen in any meaningful manner. Days away
election that could, however flawed, have sparked momentous change,
opportunity the battered people of Zimbabwe have yearned for has been
"What does the rest of the country do now?" asked one
Mr Mugabe likes to proclaim that the pen cannot defeat the gun.
referring to the 1970s war of independence from British rule, and his
that the MDC would hand Zimbabwe back to the British.
the concession by Morgan Tsvangirai, it also illustrates how a
violence, planned and executed on a grand scale, can extinguish
hopes of democracy.
Mr Mugabe will be declared the winner, able to claim
that since no-one stood
against him he is a legitimate president. The
opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, on the other hand, will be
relegated to the sidelines and
five more years of impotent
It is yet another triumph for one of Africa's greatest
survivors, who has
once again proved that no price is too high for him to
stay in power - as
long as the bill is paid by others.
his so-called "war veterans", youth militia and security
forces, Mr Mugabe,
his generals, and his Zanu-PF party have demonstrated
that no tactic is more
effective than state-sponsored violence.
By killing the MDC's members and
supporters, imprisoning leading lights such
as Tendai Biti, its
secretary-general who is facing a treason charge and a
penalty, and displacing tens of thousands of people so that
vote, Mr Mugabe broke the opposition's capacity to operate - and
In the early 1980s, shortly after Zimbabwean independence, up to
members of the minority Ndebele tribe were massacred in Matabeleland
government's 'Fifth Brigade' force.
A few years later Zapu,
the Ndebele-based party led by Joshua Nkomo, merged
into Zanu-PF and
Zimbabwe became a one-party state.
After Mr Mugabe suffered his first
electoral defeat in a referendum over
constitutional reforms in 2000, he
ordered the war veterans to seize
white-owned farms, giving him huge new
reserves of patronage with which to
buy off dissent within the ruling
He is not above the use of assassination to eliminate internal
rivals - some
of whom have then been buried with full honours at Heroes'
Harare, a weeping Mr Mugabe presiding over the
Since the first round of voting in the presidential election in
Mr Mugabe lost, a cabal of generals took control of the state,
president reduced to little more than a figurehead.
war against their own people on behalf of Mr Mugabe has proved
Conversation with Mugabe on change
Mutumwa Mawere Monday 23 June 2008
OPINION: After 28 years in
power, I think Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
would agree that Zimbabwe
is not where any rational leader would want it to
With less than
a week left before the runoff elections, it is time to stop,
evaluate if it is conceivable that in the event that Mugabe is
will be able to see Zimbabwe beyond its colonial past.
Mugabe has already
conveniently framed the issues on which citizens are to
decide on who should
be their President as more than a choice between the
past and the
He is campaigning on the basis that voting for opposition leader
Tsvangirai, whom he alleges to be a front for British neo-colonial
is tantamount to citizens condemning the country back to
He has characterised a vote for change as a declaration of
another war that
he is willing to lead after losing an election to
purportedly liberate the
country from the imagined or real shackles of
colonisation for the second
The tone and language used in the
campaign by Mugabe as an incumbent and
also a founding father of
post-colonial Zimbabwe suggests that deep in his
veins he may not fully
subscribe to the principles and values of the
He is now making the argument that since lives were lost for
of Zimbabwe, a vote for Tsvangirai would threaten its
sovereignty hence the call for citizens to decide if it is
war or peace they
It is important that we pause to reflect on
where Zimbabwe is now. Anyone
who is interested in the future of Zimbabwe
must be acutely aware that the
system is broken and requires urgent
The economy is dysfunctional as is the political system and even
would accept that the status quo cannot and should not remain the
It is instructive that Mugabe is now campaigning with little regard
real causes of the crisis but on a new kind of electoral terrorism
no precedent in the world.
There is nothing Zimbabweans can
do to change the past but there is a lot
that can be done to write a new
chapter for the country by condemning in the
strongest terms the
opportunistic violence that is daily poisoning the
One would have hoped that Mugabe would have learned from the
results of the
March 29 elections that Zimbabweans are ready for change and
change ought to begin in the state house to be
Instead of giving hope for a new kind of politics underpinned
transformation of politicians into genuine public servants, Mugabe
determined that Zimbabweans are not mature to know what is good for
the state house will substitute citizens in deciding what is good
The world now knows that he has no intention of submitting to
the will of
the people for he knows better.
By making the point that
since the country's liberation was brought about by
the barrel of the gun it
cannot be reversed by a pen, he is effectively
saying that the voice of the
people in 2008 should and must not be respected
if it conflicts with what
the state house thinks is good for the country.
Such kind of arrogance
and contempt for democratic processes can only be
tolerated in an autocratic
If Mugabe is of the opinion that Zimbabweans are not capable and
to make their own rational choices then why would he bother
to a process in which only a predetermined outcome is deemed
The only rational answer is that Mugabe, like any devilish
politician, has chosen to scare voters into believing that their
not advance their interests and in so doing discourage advocates
It is clear that Mugabe will have no choice but
to accept the outcome of the
elections but would rather intimidate voters as
a strategy for changing the
If Mugabe had
anything new to offer, he has been given enough opportunity to
do so but
appears to have accepted that his record offers no incentive for
loves the country to support through a voluntary vote.
An investment in
Mugabe's style of politics has definite implications for
the future of the
It cannot be said that if Mugabe were to win the elections,
everyone in the
country and in the world will believe that Zimbabwe's future
The country's heritage is at stake and it is only a
vote that can help in
registering peacefully that the country's destiny
cannot and should not be
left in tired hands.
June 27 offers an
opportunity for the ballpoint to defeat the so-called gun.
political landscape under any threat of recolonisation?
and his supporters would like everyone to believe that the
population that prospered under his watch is a threat to
An argument has been advanced that if Tsvangirai were to
be elected, he will
appoint white Zimbabweans as ministers in his
However, no mention is made by proponents of this childish
argument that it
was no other than Mugabe who had to turn to white
Zimbabweans to be part of
his administration in the interests of what was
believed to be nation
What has happened to make Mugabe want
to revisit his own record?
A critical examination of Mugabe's record will
allow Zimbabweans to make an
informed decision on whether any national
interest will be advanced if he
were to be re-elected as
It may well be the case that Mugabe has been sufficiently
cushioned from the
pain and suffering endured by ordinary citizens to know
the mood and
political temperature of the day.
The hour is fast
approaching and there can be no better time than using the
remaining days to
reflect on what kind of change the country deserves.
It is important for
all concerned to stop and think carefully whether there
is any hope for a
better future if Mugabe's shrewd attempt to steal the
political manipulation succeeds.
Anyone who cares about Zimbabwe and is
informed by the fact that Mugabe will
have no choice but to accept the
peoples' verdict must do all in their power
to encourage those who are
eligible to vote to do so.
This election is too important to even think
about any self-serving
initiatives of subverting the sovereignty of the
people like proposals for a
government of national unity as a substitute for
elections. - ZimOnline