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

Security Council Urges Zimbabwe to Halt Violence

New York Times

Getty Images

Zimbabweans lined up to buy bread near a campaign poster of President Robert Mugabe on Monday in Bulawayo.

Published: June 24, 2008

UNITED 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, Morgan 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 political prisoners.

“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 said.

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 escaped capture.

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 the violence.

“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 clearly visible.”

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 country.

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 officials said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tsavangirai: Security Council Must Stop Massacres in Zimbabwe


Opposition Leader Says Mugabe and His Clan Must Be Held Accountable
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

Today, 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 Dutch embassy.

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."

The architect 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 power.

"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

"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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe defies U.N. council with election plans


Tuesday June 24, 12:27 PM

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.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau, Editing by Chris Wilson)

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabweans Call for International Peacekeeping Intervention


By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C.
24 June 2008

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 overdue.

"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 out.

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.

Ncube said the international community should rebuke what he described as
unfortunate government tactics of violence and intimidation.

"The 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 pointed out.

He said the ruling party would continue with the run-off despite the
opposition's refusal to be part of the election.

"I think 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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Genocide is 'possible' in Zimbabwe: Ashdown

Yahoo News

1 hour, 46 minutes ago

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 1993.

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 option.

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 weekend.

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 competition.

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.

Both the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office in London declined to
comment on the report when contacted by AFP.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The British Government intervened in Iraq, and should do so now in Zimbabwe

The Telegraph

Letters to the Telegraph

24 June 2008

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 rights?

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.

Kate 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 course?

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 one.

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 York.

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.

He was 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 might be.

David Tredrea, London W1

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe ignores opposition pull-out, continues campaigning

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro and Tendai Maronga Tuesday 24 June 2008

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 election.

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 winner.

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 withdrawal."

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.

"It is 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

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.

"We 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.

"This 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 statement.

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 Zimbabwe crisis.

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 allies.

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. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Blanket of fear covers Zimbabwe

Los Angeles Times

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

"These people don't scare me," he said with a grimace. "But this time,
they've got me spooked."

Two 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

Armed Mugabe supporters chant the slogan, "Win or war," while launching
attacks on known opposition activists.

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.

"These people 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.

Like many, 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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Allies rally to support Tsvangirai move

June 24, 2008

HARARE - Opposition politicians and civil society have backed the decision
by the opposition MDC to pull out of the turbulent presidential race
scheduled for Friday.

The politicians and civic groups also predicted even worse economic decline
under President Robert Mugabe's "illegitimate new government".

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.

The government immediately responded, saying it was not unduly concerned by
the decision and would go ahead to declare Mugabe the winner.

Professor Welshman 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 conditions.

"The MDC made a very logical decision," he said, "It was futile to take part
in a pseudo-election whose outcome was predetermined."

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.

Makoni 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

The opposition 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 Electoral Act.

"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

"He can defeat his opponents because he has the political advantage but he
will not defeat the sliding economy," Mbudzi quipped.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman, Dr Lovemore Madhuku, also
backed the MDC leader's decision.

"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 constitution.

Edgar Tekere, a veteran politician and former close ally to Mugabe during
the 1970s war of liberation, was more scathing.

"Mugabe 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 lap.

"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 ribs."

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 announced.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

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 learned.

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,

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 said.

"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 people."

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.

South Africa moved quickly to signal its opposition to key parts of the
British proposal, suggesting the draft favoured Zimbabwe's opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.

Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa's UN ambassador, said his country would back a
Security Council statement as long as it "edges the process forward".

"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 talking."

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".

"It's 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 said.

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.

In a 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 MPs.

The Prime Minister said that no nation should be prepared to recognise Mr
Mugabe's regime as the legitimate government of Zimbabwe.

"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 said.

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".

Hours 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 election.

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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

WOZA release and thanks

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 Magodonga Mahlangu.

Below a detailed account from WOZA of what has been happening.

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

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 disease.

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 risk.

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 WOZA.

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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Isolation Nation


Mugabe forced out his foe. What comes next won't be pretty.

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / AP

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Analysts map out fragile Zim future


June 23, 2008, 17:00

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 crisis.

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..."

Meanwhile two 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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe's people deserve better


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

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

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

Will 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

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

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe's Thugs Impose Reign of Terror in Zimbabwe,1518,561482,00.html

By Jan Puhl and Toby Selander

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 Zimbabwe.
Getty Images

Robert Mugabe has successfully eliminated democracy in Zimbabwe.

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 every month.

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 awaiting harvest.

"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.

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 more.

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 and intimidation.
Getty Images

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 and intimidation.

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 station.

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 political violence."

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 correct.

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 the Limpopo.

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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mbeki's envoys still in Zimbabwe

Peoples Daily

     09:28, June 24, 2008

      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 Mugabe.

      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 saying.

      He said it was not clear when they would return to South Africa
and whether or not they had secured a meeting with Mugabe.

      "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


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mathema, Ndlovu clash over food distribution

June 24, 2008

By Our Correspondent

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 for milling.

He then distributes the maize meal at highly subsidized prices through 150
designated outlets situated in various suburbs in the city.

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.

Tsvangirai won 47 percent of the vote, more than Mugabe's 43 percent, but
not enough for him to form a new government.

Ndlovu 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.

As the 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 two belligerents.

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 Bulawayo."

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.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

International pressure on Mugabe grows

Financial Times

By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis

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.

But while 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 legitimate.

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 us".

He said it would be "scandalous for the SADC to remain silent".

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 concern".

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 food

That would, however, require Mr Mugabe to stand down - an outcome which, the
ageing autocrat said last week, only God could bring about.

It would also require a transformation in the regional mediation efforts led
by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki.

Mukoni 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," he

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 Zimbabwe.

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 added.

"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

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Africa will regret this thug's rule

David Dorward

June 24, 2008 12:00am

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 democratic party.

It clings to power through violence and coercion, convinced that only it is
the rightful heir of the independence struggle.

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 Change.

The security services have become increasingly politicised.

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 against humanity.

Tsvangirai initially promised them immunity, but the MDC is divided, and
their fate lies with international prosecutors.

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 sentimentality.

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 agenda.

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 options.

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.

But too many have a poor record on human rights, democracy and tolerance of
opposition rivals.

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.

Talk of power sharing is a meaningless diplomatic scam - an illusion of some
sort of solution.

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.

Foreign investment will focus on the resource sector, not the broad economy
Zimbabwe once enjoyed.

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 socio-economic chaos.

Many voted for the MDC in the first-round presidential election, sending
shockwaves through ZANU-PF.

At what stage might they turn their guns on their officers, causing a real
revolution, with all the accompanying bloodshed and suffering?

Then South Africa and the neighbouring states may feel the diplomatic and
investment shockwaves and wish they had acted earlier.

Dr David Dorward specialises in African politics for La Trobe University

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

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 percent.

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 re-run.

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 new government.

"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 Reuters.

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 sector.


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 2007.

"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.

"Inflation is 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 added.

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 in.

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 turmoil.

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."

However the 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 Robertson.

"They mostly recognise that Zimbabwe does still have considerable potential,
even if they cannot realise any of that potential yet."

Back to the Top
Back to Index