The ZIMBABWE Situation
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The Times

Morland Cartoon

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Zimbabwe faces bleak future after Mugabe 'win'

The Herald, UK

 June 22 2008

      MICHAEL SETTLE June 23 2008

Today, Zimbabwe 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 29th year.

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 were.

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 treason.

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
great leader.

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 Zimbabweans."

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 uprising".

"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 unleash a
genocide," he said.

In the 1980s, Mr Mugabe's Fifth Brigade mounted a terror campaign on the
people of Matabeleland; 20,000 were massacred.

On the diplomatic front, Mr Miliband last night urged the UN to hold
emergency talks.

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."

Some African leaders have spoken out. Levy Mwanawasa, President of
neighbouring Zambia, noted: "What is happening in Zimbabwe is embarrassing
to all of us."

Many an eye will be on Thabo Mbeki, the South Africa President, who appears
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.

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'All Robert Mugabe's campaigning goes on after dark'

The Times
June 23, 2008

Beatings, intimidation, mass indoctrinations in the night... a Zimbwean
farmer is all too familiar with the election methods of Zanu (PF)
Ben Freeth
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 said.

My heart was throbbing already. I pushed the transmit button: "OK. Keep us
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
night, listening.

When the first birds began to sing, I thought: "How can these birds sing
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 fervently.

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 other.

The Major then said: "You say we beat you! We don't beat you! You are the
ones that beat!"

"Will the people vote?" I asked.

"We are in pain but we cannot speak because we do not know who will tell.
Even 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
the towel too.

"I will not leave," I said. "They must shoot me if they want me off."

I remembered another friend whose workers were sobbing when she was forced
to pack up a couple of weeks ago after three generations on the farm. They
knew they were on their own then, voiceless in the wilderness.

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 shirt because
all his clothes had been stolen. We were trying to see if there was anything
that hadn't been looted left in the houses.

We drove through the gate and down the drive. Straight ahead there was a
line of large rocks blocking the road. As we got closer, men wielding sticks
got up and started coming menacingly towards us. Our presence had the effect
of 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
main road.

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 nights.

"Will you be an MDC polling agent again?" I said to Lorence, another worker,
this morning.

"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.

As I went around town I talked to people. It was tense. They were full of
fear and terrible stories about atrocities taking place; but we were
together. I could sense a strong undercurrent of solidarity in the common
load of 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

James 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.

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Zimbabweans hope opposition poll pullout will 'save lives'


2 hours ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabweans welcomed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's
decision on Sunday to withdraw from next week's run-off election, saying the
move would "save lives" as pre-poll violence escalated.

"This is the best move he could ever make," said Itai Madzana at his
open-air car wash stand in Harare's upmarket Avenues district.

"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 violence."

A security guard in central Harare who spoke on condition of anonymity
repeated the sentiment, saying Tsvangirai's decision "will save a lot of

"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
ruling party.

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 intimidation.

The announcement came after his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
national council met to debate whether to stay in the race, in which the
party had hoped to topple veteran leader Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai's announcement drew applause from party supporters attending the
press conference at the opposition leader's house.

Besides the claims about supporters being killed, the MDC also says 10,000
have been injured and 200,000 internally displaced. More than 20,000 homes
have been destroyed by ruling party militias, they say.

"The police have been reduced to bystanders while ZANU-PF militias commit
crimes against humanity, varying from rape, torture, murder, arson,
abductions and other atrocities," Tsvangirai told the press conference.

"Given the totality of these circumstances, we believe a credible election
which reflects the will of the people is impossible."

Patrick Madzvimbo, a property manager in the capital, was doubtful that the
withdrawal would bring an end to the violence.

"We are in trouble. Just wait until that old man speaks," he said, referring
to Mugabe, who had vowed that voting the MDC leader into power was
tantamount 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 isolated."

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 address supporters

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Zimbabwe crisis may force regional governments to act: analysts



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 region.

The 14-nation Southern African Development Community may now face little
choice but to take action against Mugabe, who has faced harsh criticism from
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 crisis and
criticised over a failure to take action.

Traditionally loathe to criticise the 84-year-old former liberation hero,
some countries in the region have begun speaking out, but a failure to find
common ground 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
South Africa.

"The United Nations does not have a lot of bargaining power, the United
States and 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."

"I think that he has been diminished, particularly after the spate of
violence we 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 ally.

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 Southern Africa.

The University of South Africa's Kotze said Tsvangirai's withdrawal,
virtually handing victory to Mugabe, may see the country's political and
economic crisis deepen -- possibly steering Zimbabwe into the kind of
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.

"I 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 Tsvangirai unlikely
to accept a deal that does not grant him real power.

As for Mugabe, sharing power with a rival he has often branded as a stooge
of former colonial power Britain would be a bitter pill to swallow.

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Analysis: Zimbabwe's collapse is no longer question of if, but when

The Times
June 23, 2008

Richard Beeston, Foreign Editor
For a man who has battled for nearly a decade to become President of
Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai's decision to pull out of the race against
Robert Mugabe only days before polling must have been the toughest of his

The 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 sought sanctuary.

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 year.

The aim of the anti-Mugabe forces will be to turn Zimbabwe into a pariah
state. As a first move, the international community can refuse to recognise
Mr Mugabe when he is sworn in for another term as President. Sanctions can
be increased against the leadership, particularly any figures responsible
for the latest violence. If South Africa throws its full weight behind the
effort, the regime in Zimbabwe will be doomed.

Britain and America are likely to press for action from the United Nations
Security Council, where even Zimbabwe's old allies, such as China, may
distance 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 shortages.

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 Change won.

It is not now a question of whether Mr Mugabe's regime will collapse, but
when. The worst possible outcome would be a descent into further conflict
and the need for an international intervention force to restore order.

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 for divine

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Sound and fury of Robert Mugabe's tyranny linger

The Times
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
against his supporters.

Zimbabwe's transformation now seems complete: from hope to fear in four
weeks. On a 500-mile (800km) journey across the country, I saw truckloads of
howling Zanu (PF) militiamen, careering down main roads waving their weapons
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,
bridges, buildings, 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 camps."

Around the re-education camp near the upmarket Chisipite district, the
wealthy householders are treated to a nightly pungwe, the Shona word for a
party - a misnomer, in this case - for what are in fact all-night sessions
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 cent empowerment".

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 disperse. "The
observers left very quickly then," he said, "like they knew what would
happen." The youths set upon a man in his sixties, beating him to the
ground, and when Mr Marangetza intervened they beat him to the ground too,
breaking his arm in two places and opening a bloody gash in his skull.

The violence had previously been concentrated in Mashonaland and Masvingo,
traditional Mugabe strongholds which turned against him in March and are now
paying the price. Its spread to Bulawayo, a long-time opposition stronghold
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.

That was before Mr Tsvangirai pulled out. A day is an age in Zimbabwe. The
race may be over, but is the violence? The chants continue to rise from the
camp in the distance and the Zanu trucks thunder through Harare. This does
not feel over yet.

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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
Robert Mugabe.

In a free election, the opposition leader would have been well placed to win
next Friday's vote after beating Mugabe in the first round, but he announced
on Sunday that political violence made a fair ballot impossible.

The 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
for negotiations.

"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 Institute.

Tsvangirai, a fiery 56-year-old former trade unionist, always knew the
run-off would be difficult and only reluctantly agreed to take part.

His Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said he won the outright majority
needed on March 29 to avoid a second round of voting, but agreed to go along
to avoid granting automatic victory to Mugabe, 84.

At first sight, giving up now would have the same result.

But the picture has changed.

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 independence.

The government blames Tsvangirai's followers for the violence but the region
has certainly not taken up that line.


In fact, southern African states show growing impatience with Mugabe and
fear total meltdown in Zimbabwe.

The crisis has driven millions of Zimbabweans into their countries,
straining economies and creating tensions even in powerhouse South Africa -- 
where xenophobic violence exploded last month.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, also chairman of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), showed understanding for Tsvangirai after the

"Elections held in such an environment will not only be undemocratic but
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 leverage.

"There is not a huge amount (regional leaders) can do. What Mugabe has
stressed since the year dot is sovereignty. Part of that is directed against
Western colonial interests, but it can be as effectively directed against
regional leaders," said Tom Cargill of Britain's Chatham House thinktank.


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 government.

Mbeki was quick to say that South Africa would try to persuade Mugabe and
Tsvangirai to meet to discuss the crisis.

"...that most certainly is what we would try to encourage," Mbeki said after
Tsvangirai's announcement.

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 means.

Now regional pressure could make a difference in getting Mugabe to the
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
Mugabe's rule.

But the ruling ZANU-PF party and the generals fighting behind Mugabe are
known for their political nous as well as a readiness to use whatever means
necessary 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)

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Fresh dilemmas over Zimbabwe

Sunday, 22 June 2008 20:31 UK

By Peter Greste
BBC News, Johannesburg

When Morgan Tsvangirai first decided to contest the run-off election several months ago, he made a calculated gamble.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai has been forced to admit the failure of his strategy
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 poll.

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 military.

  • 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 campaign ads.

  • 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 violence."

    Given such an exhaustive catalogue, it is hardly surprising that Morgan Tsvangirai saw no point in continuing with the campaign.

    Zimbabwean police
    The MDC says Zimbabwean police and military have led the intimidation

    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.

    Resolve stiffening

    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 Mugabe presidency.

    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 notice.

    "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."

    Few levers

    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".

    Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa
    It remains to be seen whether Mr Mwanawasa can galvanise SADC

    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 blockade.

    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 Zanu-PF.

    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.

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    Zim govt eager to claim easy victory

    Zim Online

    by Wayne Mafaro Monday 23 June 2008

    HARARE - Zimbabwe's government appeared eager on Sunday to claim an easy
    victory, urging 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.

    Tsvangirai, who 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

    Deputy 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 winner."

    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.

    Violence and intimidation of supporters of Tsvangirai's opposition Movement
    for 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
    and instead accuses the MDC of carrying out violence in a bid to tarnish his

    Tsvangirai, who has been detained by police five times while campaigning,
    said 86 MDC supporters had been killed and  200 000 displaced from their
    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 election.

    The opposition leader called for the Southern African Development Community
    (SADC), African Union and United Nations to intervene in Zimbabwe to restore
    the rule of law, peace and conditions for a free and fair election.

    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.

    "We are very encouraged that Mr Tsvangirai, himself, says he is not closing
    the door completely on negotiations," said Mukoni Ratshitanga, the spokesman
    for Mbeki.

    Meanwhile MDC secretary general Tendai Biti is due in court on Tuesday to
    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.

    Biti denies penning the document while his party claims that his arrest and
    trial 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 party.

    Biti faces the death penalty if convicted of treason. - ZimOnline.

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    The end of the road

    Zimbabwe Today

    Why Morgan has said "no" to the run-off

    Violence, intimidation and murder have won the day in Zimbabwe. Yesterday
    Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, bowed to
    the inevitable and withdrew from next Friday's presidential run-off.

    At a press conference at his home in Strathven, in Harare's central suburbs,
    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.

    On the same day, and symbolic of what has been happening since the first
    election for president back in March, a planned MDC rally was wrecked by
    both Zanu-PF thugs and the police, in an orgy of attacks, beatings, and
    stoning of cars.

    Official estimates of the number killed by Zanu-PF action since March stands
    at 75, but many observers believe that to be a ludicrously low estimate. It
    is also known that some 200,000 people have been forcibly displaced. MDC
    activists have been targeted by death squads. Their wives and families have
    been beaten, sometimes to death. Houses have been burned to the ground,
    lives wrecked, hopes for the future destroyed.

    The only hope for freedom now is that outsiders - specifically, governments
    belonging to the Southern Africa Development Corporation, the African Union,
    and the United Nations - will finally bring genuine pressure on Mugabe, and
    force 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
    a final comment.

    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 for help.

    He didn't get it. And neither will we.

    Posted on Sunday, 22 June 2008 at 20:18

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    Zimbabwe's plight

    The Herald, UK
     June 22 2008

          EDITORIAL 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
    behaved disgracefully. His call yesterday for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to
    negotiate is absurd, given the latter's vulnerability. However, last week
    other African leaders, and even voices within the ANC, began to speak out
    against Mugabe's brutality and express doubts that a fair election was
    possible. They include Angola's president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who like
    Mugabe is a liberation-era guerrilla.

    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.

    Before hundreds more Zimbabweans die, Mugabe must be removed and his people
    rescued from hell.

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    Is a coup the best Zimbabwe can hope for?

    The Spectator
    Sunday, 22nd June 2008
    James Forsyth 8:00pm

    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.


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    Robert Mugabe proves again he is a great survivor

    The Telegraph

    By Louis Weston in Harare
    Last Updated: 10:14PM BST 22/06/2008
    From hospital 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 they know.

    But now it will not happen in any meaningful manner. Days away from an
    election that could, however flawed, have sparked momentous change, the
    opportunity the battered people of Zimbabwe have yearned for has been
    snatched away.

    "What does the rest of the country do now?" asked one patient.

    Mr Mugabe likes to proclaim that the pen cannot defeat the gun. He is
    referring to the 1970s war of independence from British rule, and his claim
    that the MDC would hand Zimbabwe back to the British.

    But with the concession by Morgan Tsvangirai, it also illustrates how a
    campaign of violence, planned and executed on a grand scale, can extinguish
    fragile 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 opposition.

    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.

    In unleashing 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
    possible death penalty, and displacing tens of thousands of people so that
    they cannot vote, Mr Mugabe broke the opposition's capacity to operate - and
    its will.

    In the early 1980s, shortly after Zimbabwean independence, up to 20,000
    members of the minority Ndebele tribe were massacred in Matabeleland by the
    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 party.

    He is not above the use of assassination to eliminate internal rivals - some
    of whom have then been buried with full honours at Heroes' Acre outside
    Harare, a weeping Mr Mugabe presiding over the ceremony.

    Since the first round of voting in the presidential election in March, which
    Mr Mugabe lost, a cabal of generals took control of the state, with the
    president reduced to little more than a figurehead.

    Their war against their own people on behalf of Mr Mugabe has proved
    tragically effective.

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    Conversation with Mugabe on change

    Zim Online

    by 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,
    think and evaluate if it is conceivable that in the event that Mugabe is
    re-elected he 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 future.

    He is campaigning on the basis that voting for opposition leader Morgan
    Tsvangirai, whom he alleges to be a front for British neo-colonial interests
    is tantamount to citizens condemning the country back to colonialism.

    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
    national democratic revolution.

    He is now making the argument that since lives were lost for the liberation
    of Zimbabwe, a vote for Tsvangirai would threaten its independence and
    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 fixing.

    The economy is dysfunctional as is the political system and even Mugabe
    would accept that the status quo cannot and should not remain the same.

    It is instructive that Mugabe is now campaigning with little regard to the
    real causes of the crisis but on a new kind of electoral terrorism that has
    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
    electoral atmosphere.

    One would have hoped that Mugabe would have learned from the results of the
    March 29 elections that Zimbabweans are ready for change and that such
    change ought to begin in the state house to be credible.

    Instead of giving hope for a new kind of politics underpinned by the
    transformation of politicians into genuine public servants, Mugabe has now
    determined that Zimbabweans are not mature to know what is good for them and
    the state house will substitute citizens in deciding what is good for them.

    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 state.

    If Mugabe is of the opinion that Zimbabweans are not capable and competent
    to make their own rational choices then why would he bother subjecting them
    to a process in which only a predetermined outcome is deemed acceptable?

    The only rational answer is that Mugabe, like any devilish and crafty
    politician, has chosen to scare voters into believing that their votes would
    not advance their interests and in so doing discourage advocates for change
    to vote.

    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
    predictable outcome.

    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
    anyone who 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 country.

    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 will be

    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.

    Is Zimbabwe's political landscape under any threat of recolonisation?

    President Mugabe and his supporters would like everyone to believe that the
    small white population that prospered under his watch is a threat to
    national security and stability.

    An argument has been advanced that if Tsvangirai were to be elected, he will
    appoint white Zimbabweans as ministers in his cabinet.

    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 President.

    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
    future through 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

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