NATIONS — With Zimbabwe’s
opposition under siege and its leader taking refuge at the Dutch Embassy, the
Security Council on Monday issued its first sweeping condemnation of the
violence gripping the nation, saying it would be “impossible for a free and fair
election to take place.”
Zimbabwe has been reeling from a widening campaign of violence and
intimidation ever since Robert
Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president for nearly 30 years, came in second in the
initial round of voting on March 29. On Sunday, only five days before a runoff,
Tsvangirai, the opposition standard-bearer, pulled out of the race, citing
the extensive violence against his supporters.
Taking its first action on the crisis, the long-divided Security Council
issued a one-page statement calling on the government of Zimbabwe to allow
opposition rallies, which had been routinely blocked or canceled, and to free
“The Security Council regrets that the campaign of violence and the
restrictions on the political opposition have made it impossible for a free and
fair election to take place on 27 June,” said the statement.
Earlier in the day, the United Nations secretary general, Ban
Ki-moon, sharply condemned the violence seizing the impoverished nation and
took the unusual step of calling for the runoff to be postponed, saying a vote
under the current conditions “would lack all legitimacy.”
“It will only deepen divisions within the country and produce a result that
cannot be credible,” Mr. Ban said of the runoff, adding that he had spoken with
“a number of African leaders” and found a consensus that it would be wrong to
proceed with one. “There has been too much violence, too much intimidation,” he
As if to underscore the point, Mr. Tsvangirai, who has survived three
assassination attempts, sought safety, though not political asylum, at the Dutch
Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, on Sunday evening and remained there on
Monday, Dutch officials said.
Mr. Tsvangirai’s closest aide, George Sibotshiwe, fled the country in fear
for his life on Monday and the police raided the opposition party headquarters,
rounding up dozens of people, including women, children and those injured in the
recent political violence. He arrived in Johannesburg, and in an interview
shortly afterward, , Mr. Sibotshiwe said he saw four men armed with pistols
approaching the front door of his safe house on Sunday morning and only narrowly
The statement from the Security Council went through several drafts before it
won the required unanimous acceptance of all 15 members. Britain led an effort,
dominated by the West, to include the toughest language, while South Africa and
allies including China and Russia pushed to dilute it somewhat.
Mr. Mugabe, however, has shown disdain for international criticism, so it
remained unclear whether the Security Council’s statement would carry more
weight in prompting his government to relax its oppressive measures than any
previous condemnations from foreign leaders.
Boniface G. Chidyausiku, the United Nations ambassador from Zimbabwe, said
that neither the statement from the Security Council nor the call by Mr. Ban to
postpone the vote would affect the timing of the elections.
“The Security Council cannot micromanage elections in any particular
country,” Mr. Chidyausiku told reporters. “As far as we are concerned, the date
has been set.”
He accused Britain and its allies of pushing for “regime change” and said Mr.
Tsvangirai’s decision to drop out of the election was a ploy to attract
international sympathy. He also said the opposition in Zimbabwe was exaggerating
“These are M.D.C. tricks that should be seen for what they are,” he said in a
speech, referring to the Movement for Democratic Change. “The British
government’s hidden hand in all these political developments is evident and
Sir John Sawers, the British ambassador to the United Nations, expressed
astonishment that Zimbabwe could so readily dismiss the opinion of the Security
Council. “I find that incredible,” he told reporters. “The actions of this
regime are unpredictable, and they will pursue only those courses of action
which are in their own self-serving interests.”
Mr. Mugabe may also face increasing pressure from his
fellow heads of state in southern Africa. Foreign ministers from a regional bloc
of 14 nations known as the Southern African Development Community met on Monday
in Angola to discuss the crisis.
But the nations in the region have long been divided
on the matter, and it is far from clear they will find sufficient common ground
to act decisively. The president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, chosen by the
14-nation bloc as mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis, has maintained a strategy
of quiet diplomacy, pushing for negotiations between Zimbabwe’s opposition and
ruling parties, without criticizing Mr. Mugabe publicly.
In contrast, Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia have
harshly condemned the repeated detention of Zimbabwean opposition leaders during
the campaign, as well as the violence against opposition supporters.
South Africa had resisted efforts to bring Zimbabwe’s
political woes before the Security Council, contending they were a domestic
matter, not an international one.
On Monday, the wrangling over the Security Council
statement took most of the .
Opponents of a tougher stance by the Security Council
succeeded in quashing an attempt to say that without a second round of
elections, Zimbabwe should rely on the results of the first round in March. In
that election, Mr. Tsvangirai won more votes than Mr. Mugabe, even according to
the government’s count.
The back-and-forth at the Security Council reflected
the continuing debate over whether electoral crises constitute a threat to
international peace and security, the main requirement for them to be taken up
by the Security Council. The United States and others, including Mr. Ban, hold
that they do, not least because of the humanitarian crisis caused by the
Zimbabwean government’s decision to bar aid organizations from working in the
A paragraph expressing concern on the “grave”
humanitarian situation and calling on Zimbabwe to let the organizations back in
sailed through all the drafts unchanged.
Mr. Tsvangirai told a South African radio station
that his party was prepared to negotiate with ZANU-PF, Mr. Mugabe’s governing
party, but said that first the violence must stop.
Jendayi E. Frazer, the assistant secretary of state
for African affairs, said in an interview on Monday that adding a mediator whom
Mr. Tsvangirai trusts would be helpful, but she said that Mr. Mugabe had voiced
no interest in talks.
“It’s going to require an international push to
prevent a civil war,” she said.
Many opposition officials and civic leaders in
Zimbabwe fear that the violence may well get worse in coming days. The country’s
only daily newspaper, The Herald, a state-owned organ, did not even report on
Monday that Mr. Tsvangirai had withdrawn from the contest.
Instead, it quoted Constantine Chiwenga, the
commander of Zimbabwe’s Defense Forces, who governing party insiders say is a
key actor in the campaign of terror against the opposition, boasting that Mr.
Mugabe would romp to victory against Mr. Tsvangirai.
Officials at the opposition’s headquarters in Harare,
said they got a tip off that there would be a raid on Monday morning and most of
the 1,500 people who had sought refuge there from the violence ran away.
By the time a busload of more than 30 riot police
arrived, only a few dozen of the most helpless people, many of them wounded,
were left. They were hustled onto a bus and taken away, opposition security
Tsavangirai: Security Council Must Stop Massacres in
Opposition Leader Says Mugabe and His Clan Must Be Held
Accountable By MARTHA RADDATZ June 23, 2008
The terror in Zimbabwe
continues as nearly 100 supporters of the opposition party have reportedly
been killed, with thousands more tortured or wounded. The military has
blocked off about three-quarters of the country, barring access to polling
agents. Witness accounts of violence in those places abound.
the opposition headquarters were raided, and women and children, who had
sought refuge there, were dragged away by riot police. In this violent and
corrupt election, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai took refuge inside the
Tsvangirai spoke to ABC, making a plea to the United
Nations. "The Security Council has an obligation to stop the massacre, the
deaths that are taking place in Zimbabwe. And I think the best way would be
to send a mission to Zimbabwe to investigate the massacres and make those
who are accountable, accountable for those massacres."
of the terror campaign is Zimbabwe's 84-year-old President Robert Mugabe,
who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for nearly 30 years, meeting
virtually every challenge from the opposition, and claiming he was appointed
by God. Tsvangirai points out that Mugabe "has said so himself that he will
not accept any outcome that does not guarantee his victory, and even if he
loses, he will not hand over power." He believes that the real problem is not
the outcome of this particular election, but Mugabe's resistance to ceding
"The whole campaign has been literally a one-man show," he said,
"I, as a leading contender, have not been allowed to campaign." But the
opposition leader also suggested it wasn't just Mugabe who was accountable
for the massacres across the country.
"I think it's Mugabe and his
military junta who literally have usurped the power of the state because
they want to protect their loot."
Yet, he did not blame others for
inaction or a lack of effort to stop Mugabe.
"It's not lack of
effort. I think it's the entitlement and the defiance of the man in
[Zimbabwe's capital city] Harare who actually undermines those who want to
help." he said.
The White House is seeking a strong condemnation at the
Security Council through what is called a presidential statement.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's U.N. envoy said on
Monday his country will press ahead with plans to hold a run-off
presidential election this week, even though the U.N. Security Council said
a fair election was "impossible" now. "As far we are concerned, the
election will take place on Friday," Zimbabwe's Ambassador to the United
Nations Boniface Chidyausiku told reporters after the council unanimously
adopted its declaration on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Louis Charbonneau, Editing by Chris Wilson)
Zimbabweans Call for International Peacekeeping
By Peter Clottey Washington, D.C. 24
Zimbabweans who have been scarred by weeks of
ongoing violence that is causing significant loss of lives and property are
reportedly calling for the intervention of an international peacekeeping
force to end the spree. This comes after the international community widely
condemned the upheaval. As opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai sought refuge
at the Dutch Embassy in the capital, Harare, diplomats branded President
Robert Mugabe's government as "illegitimate."
Partisans of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reportedly said the life of
party leader Tsvangirai is in grave danger after he pulled out of this
week's presidential election run-off. But the ruling ZANU-PF government
dismissed the accusation and describes Tsvangirai as a coward. Busani Ncube
is the logistics director of the Bulawayo project, a non-governmental
organization in Zimbabwe's commercial capital. From Bulawayo, he tells
reporter Peter Clottey that the time for military intervention is long
"The people of Zimbabwe have had enough, and they have suffered
enough already. They don't want the international community to only talk
about Zimbabwe to put pressure on Mugabe, but they now want action to be
taken against this regime, as we need peacekeepers in Zimbabwe. This is what
the people of Zimbabwe expect at this hour of need," Ncube pointed
He said there was need for the international community to intervene,
even if President Mugabe's administration resists any offers to relieve the
suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.
"Here we are talking about the
lives of the people. We are talking about the humanitarian crisis. It is no
longer about the abuse of human rights. It is about the humanitarian crisis
and the lives of the people and the future of this country. I think the SADC
(Southern African Development Community) and the AU (African Union) should
force themselves. They should check Zimbabwe seriously and they should hold
Mugabe accountable to what is happening in Zimbabwe," he noted.
said the international community should rebuke what he described as
unfortunate government tactics of violence and intimidation.
international community should rebuke the government and tell Mugabe in no
uncertain terms that this is enough and unacceptable, and they should
immediately send peacekeepers in Zimbabwe with or without the approval of
Mugabe," Ncube said.
He said the ruling ZANU-PF party was taken by
surprise after the opposition decided not to be part of this Friday's
presidential election run-off.
"I think ZANU-PF is shocked as to what the
decision of the opposition had taken so far. They wanted the opposition to
remain in the poll so that the MDC will legitimize this illegitimate
election, an election that was predetermined. What the opposition has done
has thrown ZANU-PF's rigging plan into disarray, and it has shown that
ZANU-PF was determined to rig this election. So, I think they are very, very
much confused," he said.
Ncube said partisans of the opposition fear the
life of Morgan Tsvangirai is in danger.
"I think Tsvangirai's life is
in danger because of this decision to pull out of the election, which is
causing confusion in the camp of the ruling ZANU-PF. I also fear for the
lives of Tsvangirai and other pro-democracy activists in the country," Ncube
He said the ruling party would continue with the run-off
despite the opposition's refusal to be part of the election.
ZANU-PF will continue with this election. They will use the opposition's
decision to say they are at an advanced stage of this election, and so the
election is going to go on. And they will force people in the rural areas to
go and vote and try to say Tsvangirai did not pull out of the election so
the election will go ahead and ZANU-PF will win, and they will declare
themselves the winner after going through the poll," he noted.
LONDON (AFP) - Genocide is a "possible outcome" of the
continued unrest in Zimbabwe, former High Representative to Bosnia Paddy
Ashdown said in an interview published Tuesday.
Speaking to The
Times, Ashdown, also a former leader of Britain's Liberal Democrat party and
a previous candidate to become the United Nations' envoy to Afghanistan,
said that military intervention in Zimbabwe had to remain an
"The situation in Zimbabwe could deteriorate to a point where
genocide could be a possible outcome -- something that looks like Rwanda,"
Ashdown, now a member of Britain's upper chamber of parliament, the House of
Lords, was quoted as saying, referring to the genocide in Rwanda in
He added that were the situation to deteriorate to that point,
military intervention, with Britain playing a "delicate role" because of its
history as Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, would have to be an
His comments came amid increased tension in Zimbabwe, with
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai holed up in the Dutch embassy in the
capital after pulling out of a run-off election over the
Tsvangirai said the vote should be declared "null and void" due
to violence, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged Zimbabwean authorities
to put off the vote in view of Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the
The Times also reported, without citing its sources, that
Britain had two contingency plans with regard to the Zimbabwean election,
one of which involved the deployment of troops into the country.
the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office in London declined to comment
on the report when contacted by AFP.
The British Government intervened in Iraq, and should do so now
Letters to the Telegraph
Sir - Now that Robert Mugabe and his thugs have forced the
opposition to give up the struggle for democracy ("Election withdrawal
exposes Tsvangirai's weaknesses", June 23), when can we expect our
Government to send troops to Zimbabwe in the name of human
Could it be that the rights of Iraqis are deemed more worthy than
those of Zimbabweans? No doubt our weak and hypocritical leaders will
conveniently recommend African solutions for African problems.
Graeme-Cook, Blandford Forum, Dorset
Sir - Is it not time that the
British and central and southern African governments reminded the Zanu-PF
thugs that everyone's turn comes, as it did in Nazi Germany and Rwanda, and
that they will face charges of "crimes against humanity" in due
Christopher Quinton, Woodcote, Oxfordshire
Sir - David
Blair, in his profile of Morgan Tsvangirai, wrote: "By handing victory to
President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai has sealed his reputation for
vacillation, weakness and disastrous judgment."
Since Mr Mugabe has shown
no compunction in using all the forces of the state to repress his political
opposition, and has threatened war should the Movement for Democratic Change
win the election, Mr Tsvangirai's decision looks a responsible
Kevin Roy, Banjul, Gambia
Sir - The beating, murder, rape and
maiming endured by the people of Zimbabwe is simply awful. Their suffering
is made worse by the tacit approval of Mr Mugabe by President Thabo Mbeke of
South Africa, and other apologists on the African continent who warmly
welcomed him at the recent conference in Rome.
However, for the UN to
stand idly by for years while this tragedy escalated is absurd. Sadly, the
UN is ineffectual in protecting people from what amounts to genocide. The UN
staff are safe behind the thousands of desks they occupy in New
Simon Lever, Torquay, Devon
Sir - Many years ago, as a World
Health Organisation adviser to the government of Zimbabwe, I recall one of a
number of quiet suppers with the new president, Robert Mugabe.
very proud of being honoured by the Order of St John as a Knight Commander.
He had a whole cabinet of similar honours, doctorates and other prestigious
awards, and no doubt has even more now.
It would be interesting if
someone knows whether these honours still stand, and what the current list
Mugabe ignores opposition pull-out, continues
by Wayne Mafaro and Tendai Maronga Tuesday 24
HARARE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe spent
Monday out in the east of the country campaigning, typically ignoring
international condemnation of political violence in his country or the fact
the opposition has withdrawn from Friday's presidential run-off
Mugabe's press secretary George Charamba said the veteran
leader was not affected about the news of opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the race and was out in the countryside
mobilising supporters of his ruling ZANU PF party to turn out in large
numbers at the polls to vote.
This was despite the fact that once
Tsvangirai formally notifies the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of his
decision to withdraw then there would be no election as the law requires
that the candidate still in the race Mugabe is automatically declared
Charamba said his boss was "out in the countryside campaigning.
Today he is out in Mutare. He is not affected by the news of the opposition
Mugabe's spokesman said the government regarded the
announcement by Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party that
he was pulling out of the June 27 vote as mere propaganda.
just an MDC media agenda that is calculated at hoodwinking ZANU PF
supporters into believing that there will be no elections. But of course
they are fooling themselves as the party's supporters are going to vote on
June 27," said Charamba.
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 violence.
The MDC leader, who has been detained
by police five times while campaigning, said 86 members of his party had
been killed and another 200 000 displaced from their homes by political
violence since March.
The MDC said it would on Tuesday write to the ZEC
to inform the commission of its decision to quit Friday's poll.
have tasked our lawyers to write the withdrawal letter since it does not
make sense to take part in any election under these circumstances," said
party spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
The decision by Tsvangirai to pull
out of the violence-marred run-off poll sparked off outrage from Western
governments that have long opposed Mugabe's controversial rule and while,
more importantly, African governments that have long stood by the Zimbabwean
leader have openly criticised political violence and the harassment of the
opposition ahead of the election.
The AU Commission in a statement on
Monday expressed concern at the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe and said
it begun consultations with AU chairman Jakaya Kikwete, the president of
Tanzania, with SADC and Mbeki to see what could be done.
development and the increasing acts of violence in the run-up to the second
round of the presidential election, are a matter of grave concern to the
Commission of the AU," Commission boss Jean Ping said in the
Angola, which chairs SADC's organ on politics and defence and
is said to be one of Mugabe's strongest allies on the continent, announced
that regional foreign ministers were meeting in Luanda to discuss the
SADC chairman and President of Zambia Levy Mwanawasa,
who has been critical of Mugabe, called for the run-off election to be
called off "to avert a catastrophe in this region", while Zimbabwe's former
colonial power Britain led the West in criticisng Mugabe, calling for new
and tougher sanctions against the Harare government.
A University of
Zimbabwe political analysts Brian Raftopoulos said Mugabe could ignore the
international outrage at his peril, warning the international community
would make good its threat to punish the Harare
"Mugabe might not care, but he will pay dearly," said
Raftopoulos. "The isolation will widen. There are likely to be more economic
sanctions, maybe at the level of the United Nations."
It is probably
true as Raftopoulos says that Mugabe must from now on expect more pressure
from the international community and even from some of his regional
How one wishes they could see into the mind of Mugabe, just what
he was thinking or plotting as he went about campaigning in Mutare on
Monday. However, knowing Mugabe's love to swim against the tide, one could
still safely bet their money on the 84-year old politician trying to ride
out the tide, one more time - despite all the writing on the wall. -
Even the brave
opposition leader and his brawny followers are 'spooked.' From a Times Staff
Writer 5:19 PM PDT, June 23, 2008
HARARE, ZIMBABWE -- Things have
changed a lot in the land of the billion-dollar plastic shopping bag in the
last couple of months.
Prior to the March 29 presidential election, the
biggest bank note was $50 million. Now, in the wake of opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai's decision to pull out of Friday's scheduled runoff vote,
the largest bank note has soared to $50 billion and one American dollar buys
more than 7 billion Zimbabwean dollars.
In supermarkets, customers
stuck in long lines joke about the economy while cashiers count out thick
wads of notes by hand. There are so many zeros on the end of the receipt
that it is difficult to read.
But the biggest change is the almost
tangible sense of fear.
It infects everybody, from Tsvangirai, who cited
the rising political violence in explaining his announcement, to courageous
and brawny opposition activists.
"These people don't scare me," he
said with a grimace. "But this time, they've got me spooked."
months ago, people sported opposition T-shirts, their cars covered in
posters expressing their anti-President Robert Mugabe views. Now they wear
ruling party bandannas and T-shirts (though many privately say it's no more
than an insurance policy against violence.)
The hunger for change
that spread across the country like a wind blowing everything before it has
now shifted. The new wind has the population terrified.
supporters chant the slogan, "Win or war," while launching attacks on known
Human rights groups say at least 86 have been
killed, and an additional 3,000 injured. In private clinics around Harare,
dozens such as James, 60, from rural Karoi, are recovering from horrific
injuries. James said his lip was severely cut and his arm broken in a
beating by dozens of ruling party operatives last week.
can kill," he said. "They have no mercy, these people." In the next bed lay
Tonderai, 36, whose arm was heavily bandaged after he was attacked in
Chitungwiza, 20 miles from Harare, the capital, a week ago.
Tonderai believes it will be years before the country shrugs off the fear.
"As long as this brutal king is there, I don't think things will be
settled," Tonderai said.
HARARE - Opposition
politicians and civil society have backed the decision by the opposition MDC
to pull out of the turbulent presidential race scheduled for
The politicians and civic groups also predicted even worse
economic decline under President Robert Mugabe's "illegitimate new
The MDC shocked the political establishment on Sunday when
its leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced he was withdrawing from the June 27
presidential run-off elections.
Tsvangirai cited the grossly uneven
political playing field characterized by the continuing violent
victimization of MDC supporters in a terror campaign by Zanu-PF militants
operating with the tacit approval of government.
immediately responded, saying it was not unduly concerned by the decision
and would go ahead to declare Mugabe the winner.
Ncube, secretary general of an MDC splinter group led by Professor Arthur
Mutambara, said the decision to pull out of the race was very logical under
the prevailing situation.
"Tsvangirai did not have any choice," Ncube
said. "The die was cast. You just could not continue being part of that
circus where all democratic space in terms of access to the media, the right
to meet and gather was completely closed for you.
"Why would you take
part in an election where your supporters receive death threats everyday if
they voted for you and whereby even if you go on to win, Zanu-PF would still
go on to declare itself winner?"
Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, an advisor
to the Mavambo project led by Dr Simba Makoni, who lost in the March 29
presidential election, endorsed the MDC's decision.
He said it was
wishful thinking to envisage a win for Tsvangirai under the current violent
"The MDC made a very logical decision," he said, "It was
futile to take part in a pseudo-election whose outcome was
He said in the absence of any contest in the presidential
run-off, the world had no choice but to work with the outcome of the March
29 elections in which Tsvangirai won the majority of the vote.
is on record as calling for the cancellation of the run-off; he has argued
for a transitional government instead.
Tsvangirai won the March election
by 47, 9 percent of the national vote against Mugabe 42, 3 percent,
according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
leader's victory could, however, not secure him the presidency as his tally
fell short of the mandatory minimum of 50 percent prescribed by the
"Mugabe knew that with the March 29 election results still
standing, he had no bargaining power," said Mbudzi. "That is why he was
using every dirty trick to influence the outcome of the run-off election.
The MDC did well by denying him that luxury."
Mbudzi said Mugabe must
now prove to the world that he was sincere when he promised a "100 percent
total empowerment", which has been Zanu-PF's campaign theme
defeat his opponents because he has the political advantage but he will not
defeat the sliding economy," Mbudzi quipped.
Assembly (NCA) chairman, Dr Lovemore Madhuku, also backed the MDC leader's
"The decision was very correct," he said, "The political
environment was no longer conducive."
Madhuku said the way forward
was for all Zimbabweans to come together and draft a new
Edgar Tekere, a veteran politician and former close ally to
Mugabe during the 1970s war of liberation, was more scathing.
handles his people worse than Ian Smith," he said in reference to the last
Prime Minister of colonial Rhodesia, "He has thrown himself into the
political dustbin of our country."
Tekere, who last week predicted a
heavy defeat for Mugabe, said Tsvangirai's withdrawal would deny Mugabe the
legitimacy that he was fighting for.
"Tsvangirai should take comfort in
the fact that the chickens shall soon come home to roost for Mugabe," said
Tekere. "Mugabe is now left with the baby stuck right on his
"Nobody is going to recognize him anymore. It is now a crisis of
legitimacy for him. He already had a very bad human rights record which, for
sheer lack of wisdom, he has aggravated by breaking his people's bones and
A hero of the 1970s war of liberation, Mugabe, 84, is fighting for
his political life after suffering an embarrassing defeat by Tsvangirai in
The veteran leader, who has led Zimbabwe since independence
from Britain in 1980, has said he would not accept anything short of
outright victory, declaring only God would dethrone him.
The MDC says
more than 86 of its supporters have died at the hands of marauding death
squads believed to be sponsored by government while over 200 000 people have
been internally displaced.
Over 20 000 homes have been destroyed while
over 2 000 are said to have been injured or maimed in the orgy of violence
which started soon after the first results of the March elections were
Thabo Mbeki to make final plea to Robert
Mugabe, as condemnation grows
Times Online June 23, 2008
Jan Raath, in Harare, and James Bone, in
New York President Mbeki of South Africa is expected to travel to Harare
tomorrow to make one final attempt to push Robert Mugabe into negotiating a
settlement with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, The Times has
Mr Mbeki's decision to travel to Zimbabwe for the second time in
a week came after a day of frantic diplomatic activity in which governments
worldwide condemned Mr Mugabe for a campaign of violence which forced Morgan
Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, to withdraw from this Friday's election
Britain appeared to be taking the hardest line with
diplomats revealed to be circulating a draft UN resolution which declared
that - in the absence of a second round of voting - the result of the first
round should be made binding. Mr Tsvangirai defeated Mr Mugabe in that
contest, held in late March, although by an insufficient margin to win
without a second ballot.
Mr Mbeki's impending visit comes after the
Zimbabwean President rejected a similar call for national unity last week
and reflects the growing pressure by the West on southern African leaders to
take a stand against Mr Mugabe, 84.
The opposition says Mr Mugabe and
his armed militia are responsible for the deaths of more than 80 activists
during the election campaign, which Mr Tsvangirai said left him with no
choice but to withdraw. The opposition leader was tonight under the
protection of the Dutch embassy in Harare, as threats to his safety
increased. As the fallout to yesterday's withdrawal announcement intensified,
British diplomats circulated a draft Security Council statement declaring
the government's "campaign of violence" had made a "free and fair" run-off
in the presidential election impossible. The Security Council is due to meet
"Until there is a clearly free and fair second round of the
presidential election, the only legitimate basis for a government of
Zimbabwe is the outcome of the 29 March 2008 election," the draft statement
"The Security Council calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to allow
African Union and United Nations envoys to find a peaceful way forward that
allows a legitimate government to be formed that reflects the will of the
The British proposal faces serious opposition from South Africa
and potentially other countries on the 15-nation council, such as Russia and
China, that oppose UN intervention in member states.
moved quickly to signal its opposition to key parts of the British proposal,
suggesting the draft favoured Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic
Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa's UN ambassador, said his country
would back a Security Council statement as long as it "edges the process
"It should take into account that we are in a very sensitive
stage," he said. "There are talks that are happening between the parties
through the mediator in Harare, through South Africa. The parties are
The United States backed the British initiative. Zalmay
Khalilzad, the US ambassador, said Washington was seeking a "strong
statement that calls to account and assigns responsibility".
clear that the country is in crisis, a political crisis, a crisis of
legitimacy. Without a run-off election that's fair, that people can have
confidence in, the government cannot be legitimate," he
Security Council ambassadors were due to discuss the growing crisis
at their monthly meeting with Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, as
experts from each mission met separately to try to agree the text of the
proposed statement. The meeting was due to start tonight and Mr Ban was
expected to make a statement later.
Gordon Brown led international
condemnation of Mr Mugabe's regime today, calling on the international
community to refuse to recognise the run-off result if the Zimbabwean
president decides to go ahead with a vote without an opposition.
House of Commons statement he said Britain would now be pressing for fresh
sanctions against Mr Mugabe's inner circle - including travel bans and the
freezing of financial assets held abroad. "The regime has made it impossible
to hold free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. State-sponsored terror and
intimidation has put the opposition in an untenable position," Mr Brown told
The Prime Minister said that no nation should be prepared to
recognise Mr Mugabe's regime as the legitimate government of
"The international community must send a powerful and united
message that we will not recognise the fraudulent election-rigging and the
violence and intimidation of a criminal and discredited cabal," he
Later, in a separate statement to MPs, Foreign Secretary David
Miliband said the campaign of violence by supporters of Mr Mugabe had set
the stage for the "most rigged election in African history".
after his withdrawal decision, meanwhile, it was confirmed Mr Tsvangirai had
taken refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare.
"He is temporarily at the
embassy of the Netherlands in Harare," said Bart Rijs, a Dutch foreign
ministry spokesman. "A request was made yesterday by his party, the MDC, and
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen decided that if he sought safety it
would be granted."
The campaign of violence and intimidation against the
MDC today appeared to be continuing unabated, as police raided the party's
Harare HQ and took away about 60 people. Most were said to be women and
children sheltering from the state-sponsored violence around the
Meanwhile Patrick Chinamasa, the Zimbabwean justice minister,
claimed that Friday's presidential voting would go ahead, as MDC leader Mr
Tsvangirai was "too late" in deciding to withdraw.
The second WOZA member arrested in Pumula
over the weekend has now been released. Thanks to all those who made
phone-calls! Let's keep working for the release Jenni Williams and
Below a detailed account from WOZA of what has
It appears that ZANU PF members in the area had witnessed
some people taking a bag into the house of a WOZA member. They alerted the
police who waited outside the house as no one was home. When one of the
women went to the house to ask for salt, she was arrested by the four
plain-clothed police officers who accused her of being a WOZA member. When
the 15-year-old daughter of the house arrived shortly afterwards, she was
also arrested. Police then illegally entered the house and confiscated a bag
of WOZA flyers.
When the older woman shouted to a neighbour that she
was being arrested, she was hit by one of the police officersnwho told her
to keep quiet and not tell anyone, as their being arrested 'was a secret'.
The two were then taken to Pumula Police Station where they were questioned
about WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, both who are
currently in Chikurubi Women's Prison. They were threatened with death if
they did not answer the questions correctly. One police officer, a sergeant,
also constantly demanded that the young girl have sex with him and
threatened to have her sent to prison if she refused. She however continued
to resist, saying that she would rather die in prison than get
Both were questioned for several hours. The 15-year-old girl
was finally released at 2am but was told to return to the police station in
the morning. She was accompanied back to her house by two male police
officers who continued to pressure her to sleep with them. The other woman
was kept in the charge office at Pumula Police Station and made to sleep
handcuffed to a pole, apparently because she was a high flight
The questioning of both women continued in the morning. When a
lawyer tried to gain access to them, he was turned away and told that he
could not see his clients without the permission of Law and Order officers
from Bulawayo Central Police Station. The two were taken to Bulawayo Central
in the afternoon where they were questioned in the presence of their lawyer.
Both were released around 7.30pm without charge and ordered not to tell
anyone in their area that they had been set free.
Police went back to
the neighbourhood in the afternoon however and searched the house of another
woman whom they accused of being a WOZA member. They did not find any WOZA
materials and left. They have threatened to search every house in the
neighbourhood however as they say that the entire area is obviously
Meanwhile, the trial of two other members, Trust Moyo and Cynthia
Ncube, on charges of distributing materials likely to cause a breach of
the peace, has been postponed to 8th July.
2008 | Updated: 12:43 p.m. ET Jun 23, 2008
These are strangely repulsive days in Zimbabwe--a
little like watching an Orwellian horror show unfolding in slow motion.
Recently, several polling agents loyal to the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change were found dead. Whoever had killed them had cut off all of their arms
and legs, butchered them and left the remains unceremoniously lying about.
Another MDC activist was beaten so badly, and so thoroughly, that her head had
swollen to twice its normal size and she was in critical condition at a
hospital. But Monday's Herald, the state-run newspaper and mouthpiece of the
dictator Robert Mugabe's regime, led
with this cheery bulletin: "Government Rolls out Basic Goods." Bravo, Robert
Mugabe. Orwell would have been proud.
In fact, there's hardly any news rolling out of
Zimbabwe at all these days; the government has made sure of that. And none of it
is good, or basic. Instead, it is a baroque litany of terror and mayhem.
Yesterday opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, who has
been struggling to unseat Mugabe for over a decade, pulled out of the upcoming
runoff election with only five days to go, citing unacceptably high levels of
violence. Now, Newsweek has learned, MDC activists are investigating whether
Mugabe's regime has been plotting all along to assassinate key members of the
opposition in a coordinated plan to "eliminate" certain key players. "This is a
war going on out there," says MDC activist Simon Spooner, who estimates that a
regime crackdown on the MDC election monitoring structures has left a skeleton
crew of 20 to 30 percent of its staff able to work, and those in increasingly
life-threatening conditions. "They have systematically gone across the country
beating and killing polling agents."
But Tsvangirai's decision to withdraw
nevertheless cast everything in turmoil. The opposition candidate still has to
officially declare his withdrawal to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. If he
goes through with it, Mugabe will go to the polls on Friday unchallenged. Within
a day he will have appointed governors, senators and a cabinet. He'll have to
convene parliament, which the MDC won by a slim majority in the first round
election last March 29th. But Mugabe will retain control over the upper house of
government and, with firm control of the presidency, will have cemented his iron
grip once again.
He will, however, be increasingly isolated. On
Wednesday, in a preemptive move, the MDC plans to formally announce its proposal
to form a "transitional government" with Tsvangirai as its leader. The hope is
that the implosion of the economy, increased pressure from neighboring African
states like Zambia and Botswana, and a renewed effort to get United Nations
Security Council-approved sanctions will be too much pressure for Mugabe to
withstand. This week, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa called for a delay in the
elections, and is reported to be in talks to take an increased role in putting
pressure on the 84-year old Mugabe to accept some sort of negotiated settlement.
Even Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Mugabe's long-standing ally, has
begun to question his neighbor's behavior. Yesterday, Mugabe told supporters
that "only God" would remove him from power.
A deal is unlikely, however. More probable is that
Mugabe will choose to isolate himself further. Even after Tsvangirai's
announcement yesterday, Mugabe thugs assaulted Harvest House, the MDC
headquarters in the capital Harare, and arrested over 60 more activists. "The
stance they're taking is they want to keep beating people up, intimidating,
cowing everyone," says one international observer in Harare, "It's 'kick them
when they're down and eliminate them as any kind of force.'" That strategy may
backfire. For one, the economy has imploded. One U.S. dollar today will get you
$10,000,000,000 (that's ten billion in case you had difficulty with the zeros)
Zimbabwean dollars. Industry has ground to a halt. And with international NGO's
forced to halt their work, and maize imports from neighboring countries like
Zambia on the decline, Mugabe's worst enemy could turn out to be hunger, anger
and the winter cold that has descended upon southern Africa--in other words, all
the ingredients for a revolution.
Analysts say the Southern African Development Community has to
force the Zimbabwean government to agree to a transitional government, with
its leaders saying that the atmosphere in Zimbabwe does not allow for a free
and fair election.
Analysts say it is clear a transitional government
is the only way to resolve that country's political and economic
Cheryl Hendricks, of the Institute for Security Studies, says:
""I think there are a number of measures that SADC can put into place. The
first is, and this was done by the chair of SADC over the weekend, was to
stipulate quite boldly that these elections will not be credible elections
and they must not go ahead and this is being done. The second would be that
Zanu PF does not continue to rule the way that it does; to actually have the
mediation now be around a transitional government..."
independent legal experts say President Robert Mugabe is in office
illegally. Indications are that the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission had no
powers to extend the presidential run off. South African constitutional
experts say the law allow for the leader with the most votes from last
elections to take over.
The Guardian, Tuesday June 24,
2008 While Morgan Tsvangirai's decision to withdraw from a "violent,
illegitimate sham of an election" (Reports, June 23) is understandable, the
decision will set a dangerous precedent. Opposition parties throughout
Africa, especially in Kenya, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda
and Ethiopia, where violence has accompanied rigged elections, could also
boycott future elections, potentially making the use of violence the only
means of changing governments.
The UK and other donor countries
should not focus on Robert Mugabe as the only problem in Africa. It took
centuries for British democracy to take root. It is too much to expect
Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa to fully embrace western liberal democracy
in just 50 years. Democracy cannot take root and flourish without other
democratic institutions. More emphasis needs to be put on establishing
independent judiciaries, state security forces and civil services, and an
electoral commission in Africa. Sam Akaki London
The idea that
Morgan Tsvangirai is somehow "handing victory" to Robert Mugabe is surely
the opposite of the truth. It's the only decision that makes sense, not only
because it might stop some of the brutality inflicted on MDC supporters, but
also in that it removes any remaining fig leaf of legality from Mugabe. The
idea that the solution to Zimbabwe's problems could still perhaps lie in
some deal to create a government of national unity also represents hope over
political reality. John Aeberhard Steeple Ashton, Wiltshire
the UK Borders Agency now revoke the deportation advice letters it has sent
to hundreds of Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers - failed on often the most
dubious of grounds? I know people who have attempted suicide, threatened as
they are with being forcibly returned to a country where their fate will be
detention, torture and death because they supported the MDC. These acts by
our government breach the refugee convention, the Human Rights Act and the
European convention. How can we deliver these innocent people to the tyrant
Mugabe? Whose side are we on? Margaret Owen London
Zake Mda (Our
quiet complicity, June 21) was a welcome relief from all the nonsense of
President Mbeki's claim that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe. That Morgan
Tsvangirai has now pulled out of the election graphically shows that the
crisis will continue in spite of Mbeki's foreign policy. What Zimbabwe needs
now is those with power in southern Africa to have the courage to put an end
to Zanu-PF tyranny and brutality. Ordinary Zimbabweans deserve better from
the Southern African Community. Richard Frame Eastbourne, West Sussex
Thugs loyal to dictator Robert Mugabe have spread
fear across Zimbabwe, with brutal attacks and murders of opposition supporters.
The spiral of violence has finally forced opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to
pull out of this Friday's run-off presidential election.
The water level in the Limpopo River is low these days, as it meanders along
the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. Mpho, 24, stared down the
crocodiles on its sandy banks as she waded across, her one-and-a-half year old
daughter cradled in her arms.
Robert Mugabe has successfully eliminated democracy in
After that, the three-meter high fence on the South
African side of the border was hardly an obstacle at all. The former
Apartheid-era government in Pretoria erected what had been an electric fence
years ago. The white leadership wanted to keep resistance fighters from the rest
of Africa from making it into South Africa. Today huge holes rent the
barbed-wire barricade and more than 15,000 Zimbabweans make their way through
Mpho made her way down the R572 highway between Pont Drift and Musina,
carrying her daughter Patricia, clad in a yellow anorak, on her hip -- and
looking for work. Even as mobs viciously attacked foreigners in many other parts
of South Africa in recent weeks, in the northern part of the country there is a
demand for immigrant labor. The white cotton fields shimmer under the sun
"In Zimbabwe I couldn’t get anything to eat for myself or my daughter. Anyone
who can't show a membership card of the ruling Zanu-PF party is no longer served
in the shops," Mpho says.
The long arm of Dictator Robert Mugabe has
even extended to the tiny provincial town of Gendwa, the town Mpho had just
fled. "We were forced to go to Zanu-PF rallies. If you didn’t go you were beaten
up." Mugabe's thugs had warned that after the run-off presidential elections,
scheduled for this Friday, the ballot boxes would be opened and by looking at
the voting cards it would be possible to determine who voted for the opposition.
It is more than terror that is plaguing Zimbabwe, it is outright war. A war
declared last weekend by Robert Mugabe. "We are prepared to fight for our
country and to go to war for it," he said at the funeral of a former general. He
wasn’t prepared to give up his country just because of a few ballots.
Zimbabweans were due to go to the polls this Friday to chose between Mugabe
and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the run-off election. But with the
level of intimidation running so high, the vote would have been a farce.
Tsvangirai announced on Sunday that he was pulling out of the election hours
after his party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), reported that its
rally had been broken up by pro-Mugabe militia. "We in the MDC have resolved
that we will no longer participate in this violent, illegitimate sham of an
election process," he told reporters in Harare.
Tsvangarai beat Mugabe in the first round of voting on March 29 but failed to
win an absolute majority. He polled 48 percent compared to Mugabe's 43 percent,
that despite a concerted effort by the ruling party to manipulate the poll. The
MDC even managed to win the majority in the parliamentary elections.
Robert Mugabe will hold onto power, by any means necessary.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years and was determined not to
lose what may be the last election in his life. "The ruling party carried out an
extraordinary campaign of violence," says Sydney Masamvu, expert at the
International Crisis Group in Pretoria. In the end it seems to have worked. "We
in the MDC cannot ask them (the voters) to cast their vote on June 27, when that
vote could cost them their lives," Tsvangarai said, calling on the United
Nations and the African Union to intervene.
It has long been highly dangerous to admit to being a Mugabe opponent, but in
recent weeks it has been the equivalent to a death sentence. Women and children
have not been spared as Mugabe's thugs have gone on a rampage, killing up to 80
people since the end of March, as well as beating up and injuring thousands
It is impossible for people to move about freely in the countryside. All the
roads that cross the country are covered in a network of roadblocks where
potential MDC supporters are dragged out of their cars or off buses. Simply not
knowing the Zanu-PF song or declining to sing it is proof enough. Life in the
capital Harare has also become grim. All official vehicles are covered in Mugabe
posters, even bus drivers are forced to wear Mugabe t-shirts.
Even aside from the intensified political oppression, life under Mugabe has
become a daily struggle. The rate of inflation has risen to a staggering 2
million percent, a liter of Coke has increased in price from 200 million
Zimbabwean dollars to 1.4 billion in just one week. A kilogram of meat has
jumped from 1.5 million to 7 million Zimbabwean dollars. Postponing grocery
shopping by even half an hour, one newspaper calculated, could see the value of
one's money reduced by half.
While during the day the capital is just about functioning, when darkness
falls life becomes a nightmare for many. It has become so brutal and dangerous
that for weeks many people have been leaving their homes and spending each night
in a different place.
Even those few election observers that Mugabe allowed into the country, such
as those with the Pan-African Parliament, have since voiced their alarm. When
they travelled to Mhondoro, approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of
Harare, a few weeks ago they were confronted with the case of 29-year-old
Dadirai Chipiro, whose husband is the local MDC chairman.
Campaign posters for President Robert Mugabe (R), and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai (L), who has now pulled out of the race due to the violence
Dadirai was at home alone when Mugabe's thugs
arrived. They descended on the woman, hacking off one of her feet and one of her
arms, before setting fire to the dying woman in front of her house. "That was
not isolated case," the shocked head of the delegation Marwick Khumalo said
after his return to Harare.
It is part of a new strategy on the part of Mugabe's henchmen. Instead of
just hunting MDC party officials, many of whom have gone underground, they are
going after their family members as well. Last Monday, for example, they caught
Abigal Chiroto, the 27-year-old wife of the newly elected MDC mayor of Harare,
Emmanuel Chiroto, along with her four-year-old son. They set the house on fire
and disappeared with the woman and child, before releasing the boy at a police
Abigal's body was found a few days later not far from her house. She still
wore a blindfold and her body was so terribly battered that her brother-in-law
could only identify her by her clothes and hair.
Even members of the MDC leadership have to fear for their lives. Tsvangirai
has been repeatedly arrested and then released a few hours later. The MDC
general secretary, Tendai Biti, who was detained upon his return from South
Africa a few days ago, is to go on trial soon. He is charged with treason.
The plans for putting people like Biti away have been laid for some time.
Last week the justice minister announced that the overfilled jails would be
opened. He wanted to make room for "those who will be sentenced for acts of
The despot in Harare had been fully prepared for Friday's election. The
police and military had been made to vote in advance -- in their barracks and
under close supervision. "Our superior told us to vote for Mugabe whether we
wanted to or not," one police officer from Bulawayo said. After the vote the
head of the barracks checked all the ballot papers to make sure they were
Mugabe has been able to rely on his military
and security forces. The so-called Joint Operations Command, a group of
uniformed hardliners, controls the apparatus of repression on his behalf.
Zimbabwe's soldiers have plenty to lose and are afraid of what will happen after
the dictator dies. South African President Thabo Mbeki, who last week made yet
another half-hearted attempt to appeal to Mugabe's conscience, appears to have
no influence at all on the growing crisis. His proposal, which foresaw the
election being postponed and Mugabe and Tsvangirai being obliged to form a
coalition government, fell on deaf ears. "In the Zanu-PF and in the military
there is a wing which absolutely prefers violence and oppression," says Masamvu.
Experts in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries had long assumed that Mugabe
would brutally force through his victory in the election. Tens of thousands of
voters, especially in MDC strongholds, were displaced in recent weeks. Many of
them had had their identity cards confiscated, and countless numbers were
already so intimidated that they would have stayed home on election day even if
Tsvangirai had not pulled out.
As for Mpho, she had been planning on setting off on the journey north once
again, crawling back through the barbed wire and wading past the crocodiles in
She wanted to support the MDC. "Zimbabwe needs a future," she said. "I owe
that to myself and to my child -- even if it is dangerous." But now that the
thugs have made it impossible for the opposition to contest the election, Mpho
may have to stay in South Africa for some time to come.
There was no clarity on Monday
afternoon whether or not South African President Thabo Mbeki's envoys to
Zimbabwe would meet with Zimbabwean President Robert
Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney
Mufamadi and Mbeki's legal advisor Mojanku Gumbi - who are part of Mbeki's
facilitation team -- were dispatched to Harare on Friday to clear up
unresolved issues preventing a negotiated settlement, the South African
Press Association reported on Monday.
"They are still in
Zimbabwe," Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga was quoted as
He said it was not clear when they would return to
South Africa and whether or not they had secured a meeting with
"I'm not with them," he said.
Earlier on Monday, Ratshitanga said South Africa would continue to try to
find a solution to the political challenges in Zimbabwe.
Mbeki travelled to Zimbabwe last week to meet with Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's opposition, who announced on Sunday that he
was pulling out of the presidential election run-off scheduled for June 27,
describing it as a "violent, illegitimate sham of an election
BULAWAYO - Cain Mathema, the resident minister for Bulawayo
Metropolitan province is embroiled in a fight against Zanu-PF politburo
member and Minister of Information and Publicity, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, over
the control of food distribution in the city.
Ndlovu, who is the
Zanu-PF candidate for the Pelandaba-Mpopoma House of Assembly seat
by-election set for Friday is understood to be pushing for a de-regulation
of the milling and distribution of maize in the city.
Sources in the
party said Ndlovu, who has lost in the same constituency on two consecutive
occasions in 2000 and 2005 by wide margins to Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC)'s late legislator, Milford Gwetu, wants to use maize and maize-meal to
campaign in the largely working class constituency.
He has been
campaigning for the lifting of a government suspension of operating licenses
for small-scale millers, which Mathema opposes.
On the other hand,
Mathema, one of President Robert Mugabe's few trusted lieutenants in
Matabeleland, is campaigning for a centralised system under his direct
supervision. His office is receiving a weekly allocation of 1 300 tonnes of
maize from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) which he gives to National Foods
He then distributes the maize meal at highly subsidized
prices through 150 designated outlets situated in various suburbs in the
The MDC charges that Zanu-PF is using food aid as a political
weapon elsewhere in the country, after the government banned
non-governmental organisations from distributing food packs. But in turn,
Zanu-PF claims that NGOs used food distribution to campaign for the MDC in
the run-up to the March 29 harmonised elections.
The NGOs have flatly
rejected these allegations.
For the first time since independence,
Zanu-PF lost control of Parliament in the March 29 election while its
presidential candidate, Mugabe, was beaten by MDC leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai won 47 percent of the vote, more than Mugabe's 43
percent, but not enough for him to form a new government.
yesterday confirmed the differences between him and Mathema over food
distribution but sought to downplay the friction, saying the matter had been
"I had my ideas, he had his own," he said in a brief
response. Mathema could not be reached on his mobile phone.
fight between governor and the minister over food threatened to spiral out
of control, sources said Mugabe last week called for a ceasefire between the
On Friday, he made a public statement on the
differences between the two while addressing the Bulawayo business
community, but predictably took Mathema's side.
"The governor has a
system that he believes is effective," said Mugabe, referring to the
centralised system favoured by Mathema.
"That system will remain in place
until the maize supply situation improves. I know this has caused some
ill-feelings. Cde Sikhanyiso is for small millers. But the governor says it
is better managed. We do not want to see little wars in
The government last month suspended the operating licenses of
about 60 small-scale millers, accusing them of receiving subsidized maize
from the GMB and diverting maize-meal to the thriving black market where
they earned higher returns.
Published: June 24 2008 03:00 | Last
updated: June 24 2008 03:00
Morgan Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the
Zimbabwean presidential election has galvanised the international community
to try to find ways of punishing Robert Mugabe's regime.
there was plenty of anger yesterday in Washington, London and Brussels - and
even some African capitals - it was far from clear what kind of pressure
could effectively be applied.
Britain, the US and the European Union
united in saying that they would no longer recognise Mr Mugabe's government
As reports emerged of fresh violence in Harare, some
African leaders also stiffened their rhetoric. But officials from Mr
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) feared it was unlikely that
African states would go as far as withdrawing recognition from Mr Mugabe if
he claims victory in Friday's poll.
In some of the toughest words on
Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president
and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described
the situation in Zimbabwe as "a matter of serious embarrassment to all of
He said it would be "scandalous for the SADC to remain
Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general and now
among a group of African elders seeking a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis,
said the "victor emerging from such a flawed process will have no legitimacy
to govern Zimbabwe".
The response from the African Union however was
more muted. Jean Ping, the AU's top diplomat, said Mr Tsvangirai's withdrawal
and "increasing acts of violence" were a "matter of grave
Senior MDC figures say they will begin pushing in coming days
for international backing for the creation of a transitional government
- possibly headed by an AU leader - to sit for a limited period
while organising fresh elections, stabilising the economy and alleviating
That would, however, require Mr Mugabe to stand down -
an outcome which, the ageing autocrat said last week, only God could bring
It would also require a transformation in the regional mediation
efforts led by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki.
Ratshitanga, Mr Mbeki's spokesman, was still holding out hope for South
Africa's policy of quiet diplomacy. "We will continue to engage
the Zimbabwean political leadership - both parties - to find a solution,"
There is also the question of what, if anything, Zimbabwe's
neighbours could do, even if they determined to loosen the Mugabe grip on
power. They have eschewed sanctions in the past - unlike the US and European
Union - and would, in any case, have difficulty making economic measures bite
in a country already in financial ruin.
Britain yesterday said that
there was scope for a new raft of sanctions against Zimbabwe, which carefully
target the leading figures in the Mugabe regime and are more global in scope
than those previously introduced.
In a briefing for journalists, Lord
Malloch Brown, the minister for Africa in Gordon Brown's government, said
sanctions could be imposed against the financial assets of members of Mr
Mugabe's administration; against their ability to travel without risk of
arrest on human rights grounds; or against the foreign studies of children of
the members of Mugabe's inner circle.
He added that these sanctions could
also be extended to force British companies to cut links with
While sanctions had been previously introduced by the EU and
US, there was more that could be done by Asia and Africa, Lord Malloch Brown
"Our objectives are to get in every forum possible a recognition
that today President Mugabe no longer remains the proper rightful leader of
the country," he told reporters.
The crisis in Zimbabwe may well be
raised at a string of international events over the next few days, such as
the Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting in Japan and the African Union
summit in Sharm El-Sheik.
Lord Malloch Brown said that he would be
waiting to see what action is taken by SADC. "The moral prestige of SADC has
been challenged as has that of the AU and it will be interesting to see what
they come up with."
Reporting by Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, William
Wallis and James Blitz in London
THE withdrawal of opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai from Zimbabwe's presidential election says much about the
state of the nation.
It was the only way to prevent further suffering by
his supporters at the hands of ZANU-PF thugs.
At least 86 have been
murdered, tens of thousands left homeless, opposition politicians arrested
and their political rallies attacked by so-called "war veterans" wielding
clubs, as the ruling ZANU-PF struggles to cling to power.
Many in the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change are convinced Tsvangirai won the
first round outright.
Tsvangirai and his supporters counted on the United
Nations, other African nations and most of all, South Africa's President,
Thabo Mbeki, to force Robert Mugabe to hold free and fair elections. They
have all failed.
The country is in economic meltdown, with inflation at
more than 150,000 per cent, unemployment around 90 per cent and shortages of
just about everything. Ordinary people are fed up with the corrupt and
oppressive ZANU-PF Government.
Like many liberation movements that
came to power through force, ZANU-PF has failed to make the transition to a
It clings to power through violence and coercion,
convinced that only it is the rightful heir of the independence
For decades, Mugabe has used the army, police and his central
intelligence office to intimidate his potential rivals within the ruling
ZANU-PF, rival ZAPU liberation movement and now the Movement for Democratic
The security services have become increasingly
Mugabe bought their loyalty with former white-owned land,
business concessions and bribes.
However, once the liberator of
Zimbabwe from white-minority rule, Mugabe is now a captive of his security
chiefs and generals.
They fear international prosecution for their crimes
Tsvangirai initially promised them immunity, but the
MDC is divided, and their fate lies with international
South African President Thabo Mbeki has once again shown
reluctance to take decisive action.
Mugabe's intransigence has long
left Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" in tatters.
While many in South Africa's
ruling African National Congress are thankful to Mugabe for support in the
anti-apartheid struggle, Mbeki's motives go beyond
Politics in South Africa is the politics of the ANC.
Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist, has close allies with the South African
trade union movement, COSATU, and the populist-Left faction within the ANC,
led by Mbeki's arch-rival, Jacob Zuma.
Mbeki's elitist approach to
black empowerment, his failures to effectively address issues of social
justice and land redistribution in South Africa, have weakened the position
of his supporters within the ANC.
A victory for Tsvangirai would be a
boost to his rivals. South Africa has used its position on the UN Security
Council to lobby China and Russia to keep Zimbabwe off the
China has significant investments in Zimbabwe and covets its
platinum reserves, the second largest in the world. The US has belatedly
threatened to use the aborted elections to raise the issue of UN sanctions,
but what effectively can it do?
The President of Angola has called
for an end to intimidation and violence in Zimbabwe, without naming ZANU-PF
as the instigator.
The current chairman of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), Zambian President Mwanawasa, has been more
outspoken. However, if South Africa won't act, SADC has few collective
The African Union is embarrassed by Mugabe's bellicose rhetoric
and undisguised coercion. Many fear the collapse of the Zimbabwe state will
affect their own capacities to attract foreign investment.
many have a poor record on human rights, democracy and tolerance of
Australia, like most Western governments, has
little direct leverage on Zimbabwe. Most effective sanctions are already in
place. Cancelling the student visas of the children of ZANU-PF leaders
studying in Australia is little more than a token gesture. The only
effective pressures are indirect, on South Africa and the SADC.
of power sharing is a meaningless diplomatic scam - an illusion of some sort
It won't work. Mugabe and those around him are not prepared
to enter into a meaningful power-sharing arrangement, since political power
is their only source of wealth and survival.
Whoever succeeds the
ageing Robert Mugabe assumes a poisoned chalice -- an economy in tatters,
the infrastructure collapsed.
The business and professional classes,
black and white, have fled and will be reluctant to return.
investment will focus on the resource sector, not the broad economy Zimbabwe
Recovery will be long and partial.
While the ZANU-PF
security bosses, military chiefs and politicians have been able to insulate
themselves from the economic plight of their fellow citizens, the families
of ordinary soldiers and police have felt the brunt of inflation, famine and
Many voted for the MDC in the first-round
presidential election, sending shockwaves through ZANU-PF.
stage might they turn their guns on their officers, causing a real
revolution, with all the accompanying bloodshed and suffering?
South Africa and the neighbouring states may feel the diplomatic and
investment shockwaves and wish they had acted earlier.
Dorward specialises in African politics for La Trobe University
Foreigners set to freeze Zimbabwe investment plans
Mon 23 Jun
2008, 16:03 GMT
By Stella Mapenzauswa
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The
move by Zimbabwe's opposition to pull out of Friday's presidential run-off
election has hit hopes for a resumption of the foreign investment crucial to
rescue the country from economic ruin.
Once touted as a beacon for
southern Africa, the economy has been ravaged by inflation, which the last
official figure put at an annual rate of 165,000 percent in February,
although economists say the actual rate is now around 14 million
Foreign currency is perpetually scarce -- one U.S. dollar now
costs around 8.2 billion Zimbabwe dollars -- and residents have suffered
chronic food shortages since 2001.
Critics largely blame the policies
of President Robert Mugabe, who looks set to extend his 28-year rule by
another five years after Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai withdrew from a June 27 election re-run, citing widespread
violence against his supporters.
Official figures showed Tsvangirai won
the first election in March 29, but did not secure adequate votes to avoid a
The MDC says more than 80 of its supporters have since then been
killed in a violent campaign of intimidation by Mugabe's ZANU-PF, which in
March also lost its majority in parliament for the first time since
independence from Britain in 1980.
Prospects of another term in
office for Mugabe will deter investors who have pulled out of Zimbabwe over
the years but were positioning themselves to return and do business with a
"I think everything will be frozen for now. All plans
will be put in abeyance," said independent economic analyst John Robertson,
based in Zimbabwe's capital Harare.
"I think that while everything is
in abeyance at the moment, maybe people will still hold their options open,
and hope that within a couple of months they can come back and renew their
investigations into (investment) possibilities," he told
Tsvangirai said on Monday he was prepared to negotiate with the
ruling party for a resolution to the crisis, but that this could only happen
when political violence ended.
Critics say skewed government policies
have scared away foreign investors over the years, chief among them Mugabe's
forcible redistribution of white-owned commercial farms among blacks, a
programme blamed for the collapse of the key agriculture
DONORS WITHDRAW SUPPORT
The country's woes have been
exacerbated by the withdrawal of support from foreign donors led by the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
A World Bank report on
conditions for doing business around the world ranks Zimbabwe 152 out of 178
countries in terms of conditions in place for investment, down from 144 in
"Considering the level of economic mismanagement seen in Zimbabwe I
would be extremely wary of investing. I think it will be quite some time
before Zimbabwe offers safe conditions for investors," said Alvise Marino, a
U.S.-based emerging markets economist at IDEAglobal.
running above 100,000 percent, legal enforcement of contracts is iffy at
best, public officials corruption is endemic and as for risk of
expropriation the country compares unfavourably to Venezuela," he
A defiant Mugabe rejects responsibility for Zimbabwe's economic
meltdown, blaming it on sabotage by "Western imperialists" he says are bent
on ousting him over his white farm seizures.
The veteran leader has
over the last few years courted investors from Asian countries like China
under a "Look East" policy, but analysts say the drive has not really
yielded much in terms of real cash flows into Zimbabwe's
Some Western investors are not averse to venturing
Last week London-listed investment group LonZim said it planned to
raise a further $60-100 million through a share sale to purchase assets in
Zimbabwe, betting on the country's recovery despite current
But increasingly those investors say they are playing a longer
waiting game, while the country remains well off their radar screen for more
established emerging markets investors.
"I wouldn't touch Zimbabwe
with what's going on now," said head of global markets for Societe Generale
Philippe Langham, adding that events there may colour perceptions of the
rest of Africa.
"Risk levels are way too high, you don't know if you will
get your money back... I think there are definitely risks that some
countries in the region could go in a similar direction in the long-term
(although) there doesn't seem to be anything imminent."
mineral-rich country, which also boasts some of the world's biggest tourist
attractions like the Victoria Falls, still holds a lot of potential for
investors keen to position themselves for an eventual economic
"The kind of investor we're talking about are people who
take a long term view, and they would be unwilling to relinquish an
opportunity where there is a longer-term potential," said
"They mostly recognise that Zimbabwe does still have
considerable potential, even if they cannot realise any of that potential