37 minutes ago
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwe's one-candidate presidential runoff is
getting off to a slow start, with just 10 voters waiting at Harare's main
polling station when it opened.
During the first round in March, hundreds of people were at polling stations
by the time they opened at 7 in the morning. Friday morning, 10 people were
at the main polling station in the capital and even fewer were seen at other
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew because of violence unleashed
on his supporters during the campaign. That leaves longtime President Robert
Mugabe the only candidate, though Tsvangirai's name remains on the ballot.
Tsvangirai won the first round. But the official tally said he did not gain
the votes necessary to avoid a runoff against Mugabe.
By Louis Weston and Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 6:32AM BST 27/06/2008
Zimbabwe's opposition has urged people to vote for Robert Mugabe to save
their lives, as the president's thugs continued their campaign of violence.
Prosper Mutseyami, a Movement for Democratic Change official, said his party
supporters were being threatened with violent retaliation if they did not
vote for the president in today's ballot, which has been labelled a sham
since Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out, leaving Mr Mugabe the sole candidate.
"Those who have to vote, we advise them to do what they have to to survive
even if it means voting Zanu-PF," Mr Mutseyami said.
The warning of more violence came as Tendai Biti, the MDC's deputy leader
rejected an offer of talks from Mr Mugabe yesterday, saying the regime was
so divided it was impossible to reach agreement.
After today's election, when Mr Mugabe is universally expected to claim
victory, the MDC will come under pressure to negotiate with the ruling
Speaking at a rally, Mr Mugabe said: "We won't be arrogant, we will be
magnanimous and say 'let's sit down and talk', and talk we shall. We remain
open to discussion with the MDC."
But Mr Biti, the MDC's secretary-general and the party's leading negotiator
in all previous talks, told the Telegraph: "The arteries of negotiation are
blocked. You can't accept a situation where Mugabe says 'I'm now negotiating
from a position of strength' and oblivious to the result of March 29." This
was the election's first round, which was won by Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC
Hours after being released from prison on bail, Mr Biti added that today's
election would be "a farce".
"Everyone is in hiding, everyone is in fear. There's no sense of logic to
the violence, it's a state of senselessness. I'm aware that they are telling
villagers that after the election they will launch 'Operation Did You
Vote?'. There will be a decent turnout in some places because of the threat.
Whatever happens it's a sick joke."
Mr Biti was detained for 14 days and charged with treason. He endured 14
hours of interrogation, by police officers and the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO). These sessions revealed deep divsions within the regime.
Mr Biti's interrogators wanted to know about his talks in South Africa with
two members of Mr Mugabe's cabinet: Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister,
and Nicholas Goche, the labour minister.
"It was obvious they were being used by one faction of Zanu-PF. One part is
negotiating, the other doesn't know what is happening," said Mr Biti. "It
was quite clear from some of the questions that they asked about particular
aspects of the SADC [Southern African Development Community] negotiations
that they felt Chinamasa and Goche had been outplayed at the SADC table."
Mr Biti's "overall impression" was that Mr Mugabe's regime is utterly split.
"Not only the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, in fact
the left hand doesn't know the right hand exists. I think the ship is
rudderless, on auto-cruise to madness," he said.
Harare Remand Prison, where he was held, was "not fit for pigs", he added.
"The toilets don't flush and each chamber is just filled with human filth.
It's an unbelieveable place and reflects the sickness of this society."
Zanu-PF will probably coerce thousands of voters to the polls today. Mr
Tsvangirai told the BBC there would be "massive frogmarching of the people
to the polling stations by force" and gave warning of a high turnout.
Mr Mugabe's aim is probably to deal with the MDC after securing what he will
claim as an emphatic victory. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa insisted
that negotiations were the only way forward, and declined to say whether he
would refuse to recognise Mr Mugabe's re-election. "We remain convinced that
there can be no solution to the problems of Zimbabwe without the agreement
of the political leaders of Zimbabwe. Nobody is going to impose any solution
on them," he said.
For his part, Mr Mugabe has insisted that he will not give up power. He told
a party rally: "We will continue to rule this country in the way we believe
it should be ruled. This is an African country with responsible leaders."
The economy is in freefall, with £1 now worth about 20 billion Zimbabwean
dollars. Food price inflation now runs at 23.5 million per cent, according
to a catering company in the capital, Harare.
27 June 2008
Remarks by Zimbabwean president to final rally before June 27 election
"Some African countries have done worse things and when I go to the AU
meeting next week [in Egypt], I am going to challenge some leaders to point
out when we have had worse elections.
I would like some African leaders who are making these statements to point
at me and we would see if those fingers would be cleaner than mine.
We remain open to discussions, and proposals that come in good spirit would
be listened to (but) not because these have been dictated to us from
There are countries that have had elections in worse conditions in Africa
and we have never interfered.
For any country to say stop the elections, to tell us to violate our laws
would not only be unfair, but completely lawless to us. We reject such
moves, it does not matter where these are coming from but such suggestions
are completely unacceptable.
We hold our elections within the precincts of our laws. Yes, advice can be
given but not to be dictated to us. No one should be deluded into believing
that they are so and so and what they say would be listened to.
We are surprised by what some SADC leaders are saying. Some are even calling
for President Mbeki to stop current mediation efforts while others want him
to be replaced.
These reckless statements being made by some SADC leaders could lead to the
breaking up of SADC. When we formed the regional bloc, it was agreed that
members of the bloc would quietly intervene in areas that face problems and
we have done that in some countries although we had to use military
intervention in the DRC.
There are, however, some countries wanting to be better SADC members from
others and Zimbabwe would never accept it.
We are a peaceful country. Although there have been incidents of violence,
the country has remained quiet and calm.
The incidents of violence by the MDC and in some cases by Zanu-PF
supporters, in retribution after having their houses burnt, does not make
the situation insecure in terms of law and order.
I have been everywhere around the country, there is peace and some
statistics telling blatant lies are naturally offending. I would rather have
the world leave us alone. They can impose sanctions on us, but we have the
capacity to work for ourselves because we have the land, resources and the
capacity to work for the country.
There are, however, some African countries that are content with budgets
that have been made by others, they have weaknesses that leave them
subjecting to their donors.
The British should stop their devious, deceitful, insidious and deceptive
activities on Zimbabwe. They should keep quiet about us, they should stop
telling lies about our bilateral dispute which is over the land issue.
The land issue has been the case even during the Lancaster Conference where
they [the British] promised to pay compensation for the land we would take
from their sons.
While we have always been prepared to talk about the issue, they have
refused during the Blair era and even now with the nonsensical Brown who is
much more idiotic. We, however, feel pity for Bush for supporting the
They should come out and say we did wrong on the land issue. We will never
go back on the land issue. Never, never, never. Win or lose, we will not go
back on the land issue and that is where we differ with our colleagues in
the MDC who think they would give the land back to the whites and that would
be calling for war.
A Zanu-PF win does not mean we would push opposition parties into oblivion.
The MDC has won a considerable number of seats in Parliament, there is a
role they would play in Parliament.
We are not going to make a Kenya in Zimbabwe. Kenya is Kenya, Zimbabwe is
Zimbabwe and nothing forbids us from doing what we want in our country.
Victory by us does not mean the death of MDC or any other party that wants
to participate in our electoral process.
We want our brothers in the MDC to come to us to discuss our problems, but
the MDC should be totally local, they should respect our sovereignty and
tell us to work together as Zimbabweans.
It is treason to call for war in Zimbabwe. They should do away with such
utterances and stop writing irresponsible documents. If they mean well, then
we are open to discussion.
We are not going to be arrogant, we would rather be magnanimous and they are
free to talk to us as fellow Zimbabweans.
We held our elections in March and there was no winner. Although the MDC led
in those elections, it did not get the required percentage poll of above 50
percent and in accordance to the laws of the country, the two leading
candidates would go for a run-off.
We decided as Zimbabwe to re-organise the second phase of the election, a
presidential run-off. The MDC did not want the run-off. Sure, they [the MDC]
led in the March election, but our electoral laws have it that we hold the
There has been violence in the country after the March 29 elections and that
violence from all parties must come to an end, no retribution and we must
look to the future."
These are the remarks made by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to an
election rally at Chitungwiza Town Centre on June 26 2008 as reported on in
a front page story in The Herald (Harare) June 27 2008
By Roy Chinamano ⋅ © zimbabwemetro.com ⋅ June 26, 2008 ⋅
Election observers from the Pan African Parliament (PAP) started leaving
Zimbabwe on Tuesday after the withdrawal from the run-off by the leader of
the majority party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan
One of the observers Keletso Rakhudu a Member of Parliament (MP) for
Gaborone North,Botswana confirmed yesterday that there was no need to keep
the observers in the country because “technically there are no elections”.
He said that there are 34 MPs from PAP and 24 technical support staff whose
numbers are being scaled down.
“We will only leave a skeletal staff to do the observation and attend to a
few things,” said in a telephone interview.
He said that the remaining staff will stay in the country until the voting
is complete and will issue an interim statement. “After several weeks or a
few months we will then issue a final statement on the elections,” he said.
He was surprised that even after the withdrawal of Tsvangirai, President
Robert Mugabe is adamant that elections should be held on Friday though it
will be a one-man show.
Rakhudu said that the situation in Zimbabwe has not changed since Tsvangirai’s
withdrawal as the ZANU-PF militia continue to attack rival supporters.
The Nigeria Foreign Ministry also said an election observer mission for a
West Africa bloc, led by a former Nigerian head of state, has been recalled
from Zimbabwe on Thursady.
Meanwhile three legal experts from South Africa,Zimbabwe and Namibia have
said ZEC erred in rejecting Tsvangirai’s withdrawal letter on legal grounds
and said comments by Zimbabwe lawyer Lovemore Madhuku and ZEC Chairman
George Chiweshe on the legal aspects of the withdrawal were wrong.
They qouted Section 107 of the Zimbabwe Electoral Act which deals with the
withdrawal of candidature from a presidential election.
The lawyers said that the 21-day requirement refers to a presidential
election and not to a run-off because it would not make sense to expect a
candidate from a presidential run-off election to give 21 days notice of
his/her withdrawal where such election has to be held within 21 days.
They also said they have been no rules prescribed for the conduct of a
presidential run-off election and in particular the notice period set for
the withdrawal of candidature by any participant.
They also said the Run-Off and the three Constituency by-elections are
illegal and as they were not held within the stipulated time.
By Sakhile Malaba ⋅ © zimbabwemetro.com ⋅ June 26, 2008 ⋅
Justice George Chiweshe the chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
is a veteran of the liberation struggle and was awarded a farm in Mazowe
under the land redistribution policy dubbed “Third Chimurenga”.
He joined the bench in 2001 following a purge of “reactionary judges” by the
The purge occurred in 2001 after the 2000 elections when Judges who
delivered sentences that were not favourable to the government including the
nullification of the 2000 parliamentary results in some constituencies were
fired and replaced by a new crop of judges sympathetic to the government
which include Chiweshe,Tendai Uchena who sits on the Electoral Court and
dismissed the MDC petition to release Presidential poll results and Antonia
He is a former judge advocate responsible for military tribunals in the
Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).
June 27, 2008
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - Civic organizations in Zimbabwe have urged Zimbabweans not to go
and vote in today's presidential run-off election which has already been
condemned by a large part of the world.
The civic society says the election will not reflect the correct views of
the Zimbabwean electorate after President Robert Mugabe's government has
waged a violent campaign to force the electorate to vote for him.
Meanwhile, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman, Dr Lovemore
Madhuku, went a step further and urged Zimbabweans to defend themselves
against any violence unleashed on them by Zanu-PF.
In a joint statement Thursday, civic groups said acts of brutality over the
past three months had rendered conditions for a free and fair election
"We therefore urge the people of Zimbabwe not to vote, unless doing so in
order to protect their own lives or well being," the statement reads.
Until Sunday, President Mugabe was scheduled to meet long time rival Morgan
Tsvangirai of MDC in Zimbabwe's first ever presidential run off.
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the initial election on March 29 but did not
secure the 50 percent required for him to form the next government. After
repeated arrests and the banning of his campaign rallies and with more than
80 of his supporters had perished in brutal political violence, Tsvangirai
withdrew from the poll on Sunday.
But Mugabe and his militant supporters have vowed they will marshal every
Zimbabwean to the polling station Friday in a desperate bid to rescue the
The civic groups called for a stop in state-sponsored violence and the
demilitarization of state institutions. The groups also called for the
immediate establishment of a refugee council to address the plight of
Zimbabweans who have been internally displaced by violence, among other
Meanwhile Madhuku has called for a more radical approach in confronting
Mugabe's soon to be declared government.
"The way out is simply to confront the Mugabe regime," said Madhuku
Thursday, "They have been there; they will be there after tomorrow."
Madhuku also called on SADC and the international community to come out in
full condemnation of the Zimbabwean leader, saying this would give
Zimbabweans the courage to stand up for their rights.
"They must continue to crash us again and again. But as we do that we are
hoping that the international community shall come in as well. If we sit and
do nothing and just hope that the international community will have meetings
in various places condemning Mugabe, he won't give in.
"Its better for him to continue to burn our houses, continue to kill us as
we say this is our voice. We must be killed for the right thing. Our houses
are being burnt for the right thing. That is the only way out," said
Madhuku, who has been beaten up on many occasions by security forces. His
parents' home in Chipinge was burnt by Zanu-PF this week.
"Mugabe is using the same Zimbabweans to kill their fathers and beat their
"Mugabe is using the militia; these are Zimbabweans being used to kill their
own brothers, to beat up their own sisters. We have other Zimbabweans who
are not in Mugabe's militia, other Zimbabweans who are not in the army who
must face the Zimbabweans who are coming to them and say no, we will not
accept this any more."
He said the only reason why Zimbabweans brutalized by Mugabe's militia were
not retaliating was the prospect of eventually venting their anger through
the run-off election in which they were going to reject Mugabe outright.
"The idea was that they will preserve their vote and use it as their only
weapon at the appropriate time," Madhuku said. "Now that there is no
election, we no longer expect that Zimbabweans will allow a militia that
walks the streets of Harare beating people randomly.
"Not any more. We will tell people that they must return fire when the time
comes and when they do that, they must say they are trying to protect
themselves. Sure they must defend themselves."
"Zimbabweans want a free and fair election, based on a new people driven
constitution and anyone who wants to come and challenge that faces my
wrath," he said.
Madhuku said he was aware that an eye for an eye can lead to complete
"We must of course not reach that stage. That is why we are calling on SADC
to intervene and tell Mugabe that he must conduct a free and fair election
based on a democratic constitution," he said.
Zimbabwe has seen a massive increase in the scale of violence since
President Mugabe's shock defeat in March.
Cities have been besieged by marauding squads of pro-Mugabe youths and war
veterans who continue to man unofficial roadblocks and force marching people
to camps while demanding oaths of allegiance to Zanu PF.
Tsvangirai has called for the UN to send peacekeepers into the country.
"What do you do now?" Tsvangirai said on Wednesday. "You do not have guns
and people are being brutalized by the army out there. The only appeal we
can make is for the UN to consider that proposal. I think that we are in a
desperate situation out in the rural areas because people are being
brutalised and being frog-marched to meetings without their consent."
June 27, 2008
President Mugabe’s daughter, Bona, faces the crowd in Chitungwiza
By Raymond Maingire
Chitungwiza – President Robert Mugabe has threatened to unmask some African leaders due to meet next week for an African Union summit, Egypt if they continued to condemn his government for alleged dictatorship.
The Zimbabwean leader has braved unprecedented pressure from Africa and beyond calling on his government to abandon today’s presidential run off election.
This was after the last minute withdrawal of his challenger Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who cited massive violence and intimidation of both himself and his supporters.
The election is widely viewed as a farce after Mugabe unleashed the military and his party militia to disenfranchise MDC supporters through systematic violence and displacement.
But Mugabe is adamant the election must go ahead as prescribed by the country’s laws.
“We still have voices coming our way to say even today we should cancel elections. What stupidity is that,” Mugabe said to his supporters at a campaign rally in Chitungwiza Thursday.
“It is not only unfair. It is being completely lawless on their part when they very well know we have a constitution and a legal system here. The laws bid us to conduct elections in the manner we are doing without disruption.”
Mugabe said he was prepared for a bruising showdown with his peers when he attends the AU summit.
African leaders are expected to come out of their shell and publicly criticize Mugabe for his excesses.
“I will be going there to Egypt and I understand that the people are gearing themselves for an attack on Zimbabwe,” he said.
“I would want to see a country that will point a finger at us and say we have done wrong, I would want to see that finger and see whether it is clean or dirty. I want to see it in Africa, in the African Union. I want to see that finger. Let it be pointed at me.”
Mugabe has since his defeat by Tsvangirai on March 29 threatened and intimidated the MDC leader and his supporters. He has condemned western leader, especially the United States and British leaders, George Bush and Gordon Brown. On the African continent only his arch critic, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, has tasted Mugabe’s venom. Now in what appears to be some form of blackmail he is threatening his peers with exposure, accusing some of them of being worse dictators than him.
“There have been elections conducted in a worse way in Africa here whose Presidents today still preside on their countries. We have never interfered in their domestic affairs, never ever,” he frothed.
Mugabe said his government will not be arm-twisted into violating its laws by African countries whose economies are propped up by hostile Western governments.
“We are not beggars. We meet our budget requirements. The problem with some of our friends in Africa is that their budgets are now being met by others. That is the weakness of many countries and because of that they are subjecting their sovereignty to their donors. They should leave us alone,” Mugabe said to wild cheers from his supporters.
African presidents are being accused of turning a blind eye on Mugabe’s human rights violations all in the spirit of comradeship.
But the chorus of condemnation became loud recently when Mugabe presided over a bloody electoral process that has since claimed the lives of 86 of his opponent’s supporters and forced Tsvangirai to withdraw.
Mugabe, who is now assured of winning today’s one-candidate election says his party is prepared for talks with the MDC only after the election.
“We remain open to discussion if there are any proposals that the other parties would want to make to us,” he said.
“In good spirit, we will listen to those proposals, discuss them with them but not because we are being dictated to by the outside world. The moment the outside world starts dictating to us we will not proceed. Not even the AU.
“Sure, we won’t be arrogant. We will be magnanimous and say lets sit down and talk and talk we shall.”
Incidentally, Tsvangirai on Wednesday also extended an olive branch to Mugabe whom he said should halt the current ‘wave of political violence in order to create conditions conducive for a negotiated settlement to Zimbabwe’s crisis.
“Both parties realize that this country is burning and the only way is to sit down and find a way out of it,” said Tsvangirai.
“We are making a proposal which Mugabe has to appreciate or not. I hope that those with the sense in Zanu-PF will appreciate that the MDC has bent over backwards to be accommodative. We would be very appreciative if Zanu-PF will reciprocate.”
June 27, 2008, 06:00
Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, is reported to be tense ahead of today's
presidential run-off vote, which begins in just under an hour. President
Robert Mugabe is the only candidate in the elections, after opposition
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew, citing violence against his supporters.
Despite this decision, Tsvangirai's name will still appear on the ballot
papers as the state-run Zimbabwe electoral commission said it was too late
for him to withdraw.
A total of almost 6 million Zimbabweans will theoretically be entitled to
cast their ballot when around 9 000 polling stations open their doors.
Today's vote will be overseen by some African but no Western monitors.
Residents say groups of militants supporting Mugabe are camped in different
parts of the city.
Many roadblocks around the country are also manned by militants rather than
the police and
businesses and shops have been ordered to close. The run-off election comes
13 weeks after an initial ballot which saw Mugabe beaten into second place
with 43.2% against 47.9% for Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader -
Situation described as a catastrophe
Meanwhile, political pressure on Zimbabwe continues to mount from SADC
members, with Botswana openly describing the current situation in that
country as a catastrophe. The country's president, Ian Khama, says, despite
the SADC's delay in addressing the political landscape in Zimbabwe, Botswana
will take lead in trying to defuse the situation. Khama is to due to meet a
top Zanu-PF delegation sent by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
However, Mugabe has said today's presidential election will go ahead despite
African calls for postponement. He did however mention that he is open to
discussions with the opposition.
Mail and Guardian
ROBERT CHISANZA | LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - Jun 27 2008 06:00
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa effectively put his head on the chopping
block this week after he strongly condemned Robert Mugabe's regime for its
violent attacks on opposition supporters and called for the postponement of
the June 27 poll.
"What is happening in Zimbabwe is a matter of serious embarrassment to all
of us. It is scandalous for the SADC [Southern African Development
Community] to remain silent in the light of what is happening," Mwanawasa,
who is also the SADC chair, told a press briefing in the capital, Lusaka.
This just a few hours after Zimbabwe's opposition candidate, Morgan
Tsvangarai, announced his withdrawal from the election re-run.
While Mwanawasa's remarks about the Zimbabwe crisis might not have the
backing of all SADC member states, the Mail & Guardian spoke to people on
the streets of Lusaka this week about whether they support Mwanawasa
abandoning the "silent" diplomacy approach previously favoured by the
"In my view, President Mwanawasa has every right to speak on any country in
Southern Africa as long as he is not interfering with its sovereignty. We
paid the price for every country to be free in Southern Africa and,
therefore, when we see things are not going on well, we have to speak. I
support what President Mwanawasa did," said Wisdom Mwanza, a retired civil
Justine Chanda, a minibus taxi driver, said Mwanawasa's intervention was
"In fact, he should have said it a long time ago. Now it's a bit too late,
but of course better than nothing. I only hope the Zimbabwean government
will take heed of his counsel for the good of the region. I also hope that
all SADC member states will support their chairmen and condemn the tyrant
that Mugabe has become."
Pastor Harold Gondwe of the Scripture Union in Zambia said: "What's
happening in Zimbabwe is not a pleasant picture, their people are now
selling useless products at filling stations here and they are being
slaughtered in South Africa. They are troubling everyone in the region.
Surely, the president is right. We need change in Zimbabwe."
Robert Mtonga, a freelance medical doctor and consultant to the ministry of
foreign affairs in the Zambian government, said Mwanawasa was merely
endorsing the principles of good governance by criticising the Zimbabwean
government. "Levy [Mwanawasa] has a point, whether [it is] right or wrong is
a moral judgement.
"When the writing is on the wall the humble thing to do is to step back so
that the moral good of the country prevails," Mtonga said.
"The problem with Mugabe is that he wants to rule by dominion and the worst
part is that he thinks people still like him; he has become a hostage of his
Housewife Mildred Muyanwa cut a lonely figure in opposition to Mwanawasa's
criticism of Mugabe's governance style.
"You see, there are better ways of sorting out a problem, especially because
we are neighbouring countries. For example, why say that you are
disappointed by [Thabo] Mbeki not giving information about his meetings with
"He [Mwanawasa] could have written to their [Zimbabwean diplomatic] missions
here, instead of rushing to the press to publicly denounce his friends,"
International Herald Tribune
Published: June 27, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: As President Robert Mugabe defied intensifying
international condemnation to insist that Friday's presidential runoff would
proceed, a picture was emerging on Thursday of the circumstances under which
Zimbabweans would be forced to go to the polls, and what they might face if
Voting is set to begin at 7 a.m.. Zimbabweans expect to be rounded up and
taken to the polls. If they are unable to read or do not understand how to
vote, according to a journalist in the state-owned news media, they will be
"assisted" by a police officer who has already voted publicly in front of a
senior officer, as apparently all members of the armed forces are required
Citizens of voting age without an inked finger, which indicates that they
have voted, will be regarded as traitors and subject to reprisals, the
The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, told the BBC on Thursday, "There
could be a massive turnout not because of the will of the people, but
because of the role of the military and the role of traditionally people
being forced to the polls."
State-sponsored violence since the first round of voting on March 29 - in
which Tsvangirai won more votes than Mugabe - has already resulted in
thousands of beatings and at least 86 deaths, according to human rights
workers in Harare, the capital.
An atmosphere of uncertainty and fear hung over Harare on Thursday. Shops
and factories in the capital had closed by midday. Trucks filled with youths
wearing Mugabe T-shirts and scarves drove through downtown. Riot police
officers with automatic weapons stood outside the Parliament building.
"People are going to vote tomorrow," Bright Matonga, the deputy information
minister, said in a television interview. "There is no going back."
The runoff follows weeks of growing political violence that prompted
Tsvangirai to take refuge in the Dutch Embassy in Harare. Tsvangirai
withdrew from the election on Sunday, leaving Mugabe as the only candidate.
He said he withdrew because of the political violence and intimidation of
supporters of his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, since the first
round of voting.
People fleeing rural areas have been flooding cities, victims of both the
political violence and the hyperinflation that has plagued Zimbabwe.
"Since March 29, there has been a huge exodus from rural areas," said an
employee of a nongovernmental organization in Zimbabwe. "Those people who
could not flee the country have come to the cities - to stay with relatives
or, if families are too scared to house them, to survive as best they can,"
the employee said. "All have been driven out by terror, most have been
beaten. The hospitals are overflowing, there are not enough doctors and
staff. Many of the mission hospitals have been threatened into submission
and no longer take torture victims."
One of Tsvangirai's most senior aides, Tendai Biti, was freed Thursday on
bail of a trillion Zimbabwean dollars, or about $90. He was arrested two
weeks ago on treason charges, which carry a potential death penalty.
Biti's bail was granted as Zimbabwe's neighbors joined Western countries,
including the United States, in urging Mugabe to postpone the runoff.
In a campaign speech on Thursday, Mugabe continued to float the idea of
holding negotiations with the opposition after the election, a stance the
opposition has dismissed as hollow because the government would have already
tightened its hold on power.
Mugabe said it was up to the Movement for Democratic Change to decide
whether it would accept to the offer. Tsvangirai has said there could be no
negotiations if Mugabe went ahead with Friday's election.
Alan Cowell contributed reporting from Paris, and Barry Bearak from
By Louis Weston in Harare
Last Updated: 12:53AM BST 27/06/2008
The hollow victory Robert Mugabe will win in today's Zimbabwean election is
not enough for his thugs.
Their onslaught of beating and killing carried on unabated yesterday.
Even after Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change leader,
pulled out of the poll on Sunday because of mounting violence against his
supporters, Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF militia have continued their attacks.
Japhet Kenneth, 36, told The Telegraph how the militia men came for him
again this week - he had already been beaten up two weeks ago.
They took him to their base on a seized farm in Seke constituency, a few
miles south of the capital Harare, tied him to a pole with wire and gave him
a severe beating.
And as he watched from a few feet away, one of his colleagues was murdered.
"I saw with my own eyes," said Mr Kenneth "He was beaten with a rock."
The man, whom he recognised from MDC meetings but could not name, never
moved again. "They said they wanted to put a rope on his neck and put poison
in his mouth and put him in a tree so they can say he committed suicide," he
They told him he would be next. "I knew tomorrow definitely it was going to
be my turn. They were waiting for the command from their bosses."
But around 11pm the gang went to sleep, including the one assigned to guard
him, and he untied himself, escaping by climbing on to a garage roof and
jumping over a fence. He suffered a serious injury in the process - a
suspected fractured pelvis. "I couldn't run, I just walked," he said.
Mr Kenneth, who acted as security for an MDC polling agent in the first
round of elections in March, said Zimbabweans would be forced to vote "100
per cent definitely" to give Mr Mugabe his victory, but the truth of the
regime's crimes was there for all to see.
"The police are wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts," he said. "It's a frustration for
them that the truth is out. They know that they have lost. I'm just praying
that the world will see we deserve to live and need a second chance."
The bravery being shown by MDC activists is extraordinary. Winfielda
Musarurwa, 21, was in hiding at her sister's house in Budiriro, an
impoverished suburb west of Harare, when Mr Mugabe's loyalists came for her
in the early hours yesterday.
"They took off my trousers and my pants and they were beating between my
legs, my buttocks," she whispered tearfully at a private clinic in the
"They wanted to kill me. They said, 'we need your head' ."
She added: "Everybody has got to die at some time. I wasn't all that scared
because I knew they were going to kill me. I was just saying, 'God help me'.
The only reason they were beating me is because I'm an MDC activist and I
will never support Zanu-PF. I want to save my country. I want to save my
children if I get them in this life.
"I just kept quiet, I wasn't breathing and they thought I was dead, that's
why they left me." Miss Musarurwa, who was a polling agent in March,
believes that those who do not back Mr Mugabe today will face violent
Voters have their fingers dipped in ink to show they have cast their
ballots, and she said: "They are saying you have to bring your number so we
can verify you have voted for Robert Mugabe.
"They will look at the finger and those who don't have a painted finger, I
think they are going to die.
"We have already dropped the election so I don't see any reason why they are
''They want to eliminate us. We are appealing to the UN and superpowers to
help. We are dying."
An informal network has been set up to bring assault victims to Harare and
ensure that they are treated. One person involved in the network said the
levels of assaults were undiminished this week, and they expected them to
continue after the poll.
"We are concerned about that, we don't know what's happening.
"I don't know what they think they are trying to prove. It's terrifying."
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, June 27, 2008; Page A10
HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 26 -- Morgan Tsvangirai once embodied his nation's
soaring hopes. Boisterous and bold in his trademark cowboy hat, the longtime
opposition leader would predict the defeat of President Robert Mugabe and
wave a red card -- like a soccer referee ejecting an unruly player -- to the
joyous howls of overflowing crowds.
That was three months ago, ahead of the March 29 presidential election. Now,
on the eve of a runoff vote he vowed would finally end Mugabe's 28 years of
unbroken power, the crowds are gone, along with the cowboy hat, the red
cards and the boasts. Several of Tsvangirai's closest aides are dead, in
hiding or in jail, and his party structures are all but destroyed.
Meanwhile, he is holed up in the Dutch Embassy, with no plans to appear in
public on election day.
"I'll do nothing," Tsvangirai, who is boycotting the election despite
outpolling Mugabe in the first round in March, said in a telephone interview
from the embassy that has been his home since Sunday. "I'll come out for
sunshine, nothing more."
As global support mounts for Tsvangirai, even among African leaders long
uncertain about him, he is a beaten man in his own country. The hopes of his
supporters -- of a Zimbabwe unshackled from the ruinous misrule of Mugabe
and his ruthless gang of lieutenants -- have collapsed as well, crushed by a
campaign of calculated political brutality not seen here since the
Matabeleland massacres two decades ago.
Gangs of ruling party youths, the lethal enforcers of Mugabe's political
comeback, celebrated their presumed victory Thursday night in the dense
Mbare neighborhood of Harare, the capital. As they sang, "ZANU-PF is back in
charge!" they held aloft a coffin covered with the opposition's open-hand
insignia and the words "Morgan Tsvangirai."
So weakened is the opposition that Tsvangirai said relief can come only from
some unprecedented initiative from the countries that have complained about
Mugabe, but never moved decisively to remove him, for nearly a decade. There
is nothing more that Zimbabweans themselves can do, he said.
"They can't confront this regime. The regime is brutal," Tsvangirai said.
"The fear is endemic in this country."
The change from March is palpable. Then, a wave of optimism coursed through
this once-bountiful nation, powering the opposition's historic gains against
Mugabe. Not only did a majority of voters cast ballots for change --
Tsvangirai and an independent candidate shared 57 percent of the vote to
Mugabe's 43 percent -- the opposition also captured control of parliament.
It was the first time since Zimbabwe was born from the former Rhodesia in
1980 that a party other than Mugabe's had won any branch of government. Two
days after the vote, one of Mugabe's cabinet ministers opened talks with the
opposition, and numerous sources close to the president said that, at 84, he
was considering stepping aside.
A younger -- and many here say more vicious -- generation of government
officials objected, many party officials have said. Negotiations abruptly
ended. Arrests began. The army deployed across the countryside, along with
the youth militias.
Zimbabweans soon faced a stark choice: attend midnight indoctrination
sessions, where ruling party supporters chanted slogans and opposition
activists were whipped and clubbed, or face similar treatment themselves.
A poster captured the tenor of the runoff campaign. Beside a smiling Mugabe,
sporting his trademark tailored suit and a strip of facial hair stretching
from his nose to upper lip, a block of boldface letters carried the slogan:
"The Final Battle for Total Control."
In a single section of a single province, the former Mugabe stronghold of
Mashonaland Central, at least 24 opposition party activists have been
killed, said Shepherd Mushonga, a top opposition official from the area.
Ruling party youths shot to death a newly elected local official from the
opposition last Friday, then shot the man's brother, sister and mother
before forcing them all to drink pesticide, Mushonga said.
Opposition activists -- and their parents, children, spouses, friends,
neighbors and supporters -- have received similar treatment throughout much
of Zimbabwe. Many of those responsible for helping Tsvangirai outpoll Mugabe
in the first round are gone: hiding in frigid mountain hollows, convalescing
in hospitals, recuperating in other countries. Others are dead or missing.
Thousands of their homes have been burned into ash.
"We have been decimated," said Mushonga, who went into hiding last week and
travels outside of a safe house only at night. "We have been crushed to the
As the official death toll has climbed past 80, a country long admired as a
beacon of peaceful progress -- blessed with a mild climate and superior
public schools -- has become the disgrace of the continent. African leaders
such as South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, Senegal's
President Abdoulaye Wade and Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa broke with
tradition to criticize Mugabe in terms rarely used against fellow leaders.
The normally timid Southern African Development Community called for
postponement of the election.
Mugabe fired back Thursday, charging in a rally broadcast on state
television that the Africans had fallen under the sway of President Bush or
Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, critics of Mugabe.
"We still have voices coming today saying we should cancel our elections,"
Mugabe said with mock surprise. "What stupidity is that?"
Mugabe also hinted at the possibility of talks with the opposition -- years
of which have failed to ease the political crisis here -- after the vote
and, presumably, his victory.
Police already have been forced to cast ballots in front of superiors, said
a 32-year-old officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He voted for
Tsvangirai in March but for Mugabe in a police barracks southeast of Harare
on Tuesday, along with hundreds of others. He said he feared losing his job,
or worse. "These things can happen to you whether you are a police officer
or not," he said.
Word has spread widely through Zimbabwe that those who fail to display
pinkies marked with the telltale purple ink of voters will be beaten by
Mugabe's ruling party militias. And it is widely believed that the military
and youth militias also are able to track individual votes by the serial
numbers on the ballots. Anything but a Mugabe vote will result in violent
retribution, many here believe.
"People will be led like sheep to the slaughter," Tsvangirai said. "If you
don't show your finger that you've voted, you'll be beaten."
Tsvangirai offered little hope that the situation would change soon. Though
the party is sending a delegation to an African Union meeting in Egypt next
week in hopes of building still more diplomatic pressure on Mugabe, his
optimism seemed sapped three months after bringing his nation to the verge
of a new era.
"Winning an election," he said, "is not the same as winning power."
By Carole Gombakomba
26 June 2008
Local election observers in Zimbabwe said Thursday that they will not
monitor the presidential run-off election to be held on Friday, citing a
late government invitation allowing only a limited number of observers, and
rising violence against domestic election observers.
President Robert Mugabe is in effect the only candidate in the election,
following opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's announcement he would not
participate in the election.
Officials of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said an invitation letter
from Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa reduced the number of its observers
to 500 compared with more than 8,000 in the first round of elections on
March 29. They said this made it impossible to monitor the more than 9.000
polling stations around the country.
So the only observers in the field would be the 460 dispatched by the
Southern African Development Community and the Pan-African Parliament.
ZESN National Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava told reporter Carole Gombakomba
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the group would now rely on the public
for information about the voting process, inviting Zimbabweans to send
reports to it by text message.
Though the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Tsvangirai is
boycotting the presidential ballot over widespread and deadly political
violence, among other issues, it has urged MDC voters to turn out to vote in
three parliamentary by-elections.
The Tsvangirai MDC formation has fielded candidates in the Pelendaba/Mpopoma
and Redcliff constituencies in Midlands province, and Gwanda South in
Matebeleland South, where three candidates of the MDC formation of Arthur
Mutambara died before the March elections.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of Tsvangirai's MDC grouping told reporter Patience
Rusere that his party's candidates decided to contest after assessing their
Officials of the Mutambara MDC formation said they are also encouraging
voters to boycott the presidential ballot, but urging them to vote in the
The two MDC formations collectively garnered a majority of five seats in the
lower house of parliament in the March 29 general election.
29 April 2008
Four reasons why the old tyrant may finally be on the way out.
Since 2000 various commentators have, at different points, predicted the
imminent demise of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. In that year Zanu-PF lost
majority support to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that year. Yet,
despite a collapsing economy and various political crises it has managed to
hold onto power through a combination of brutish force, plunder, and
electoral theft. Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF's miraculous defeat in the March
29 2008 elections raised hopes, once again, that this time things were going
to be different. And, once again, those hopes were dashed.
Zanu-PF aims (it seems) to overturn the results of Morgan Tsvanigirai's
victory in the presidential poll in the re-run, using the same tactics it
employed to such devastating effect in 2000. On February 15 2000 the Zanu-PF
government was defeated in the referendum on the new constitution. In a
clear rebuke to the ruling party 697,754 people (54,6%) voted "no", while
only 578,210 voted "yes". By the end of the month the regime had launched a
campaign using intimidation, farm invasions, and terror, to ensure the
defeat of the MDC by the time of the June parliamentary poll. The election
was held on June 24 -25 and the results were announced on June 27. Zanu-PF
managed to scrape out a narrow win with (initially) 61 seats to the MDC's
58; and 48,6% of the popular vote to the MDC's 47%.
Mbeki played a crucial role in legitimising this outcome. In early May 2000
he flew to Bulawayo where he was photographed walking hand-in-hand with
Mugabe. In a speech he blamed the violence on the fact that the land
question was still "unresolved." Then, on a visit to the United States a few
weeks later, Mbeki said there was no reason to think the elections would not
be free and fair. "If you stand there a month before the elections and
already discredit them, I don't think that is correct," he told reporters.
Following the announcement of Zanu-PF's stolen victory on June 27 Mbeki
immediately issued a statement calling on "all parties to the elections" to
"respect and abide by the outcome as the expression of the democratic will
of the people of Zimbabwe." On August 7 2000 the SADC heads of government
issued a communiqué, through his office, expressing their satisfaction "that
the elections were held in a transparent, peaceful, free and fair
environment, in accordance with our shared democratic principles and
So, in many ways we are (or were) witnessing a simple replay of Zanu-PF's
2000 strategy. The delay in announcing the results of the presidential poll
has bought the regime an extra four weeks in which to terrorise MDC
supporters in the rural areas. Mbeki meanwhile has set about performing his
usual role of actively underplaying Mugabe's extra-constitutional
activities, while (covertly) interceding on his behalf diplomatically.
On April 5 2008 he told reporters in England, "I think there is time to
wait, let's see the outcome of the election results. If there is a re-run of
the presidential election, let's see what comes out of that. I think that is
the correct way to go."
On Thursday April 10 the An Yue Jiang arrived in Durban harbour with a
consignment of weapons for the Zimbabwean military.
On Saturday April 12 Mbeki stopped off in Harare, on his way to the
emergency SADC summit that evening, for a 90 minute meeting with Robert
Mugabe. Once again the two men were photographed standing hand-in-hand.
Mbeki told reporters "If nobody wins a clear majority the law provides for a
second run. If that happens I would not describe it as a crisis. It's a
normal electoral process in terms of the law of Zimbabwe."
According to a well-informed article by Fiona Forde in The Star Mugabe's
input to the meeting, which he had chosen not to attend, was delivered by
Mbeki. The Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa apparently told him, "If Robert
Mugabe has anything to say to me as chairperson, then he can talk to me
himself." He added that Mbeki was creating the impression that he was
becoming "Mugabe's messenger". Mbeki was also opposed to allowing Tsvangirai
to address the meeting, but was overruled by Mwanawasa.
On Monday (April 14) the South African government, through the National
Conventional Arms Control Committee, secretly approved the transhipment of
the weapons aboard the An Yue Jiang to the Zimbabwean security forces.
So if these tactics worked in 2000, and Mugabe still enjoys the loyal
support of Mbeki, what (other than wishful thinking) suggests that the
outcome is going to be any different this time around?
The first is that Mugabe has committed the unforgivable sin of trying to rig
an election, and still (very publicly) losing it. This has greatly
complicated matters for his allies, and it has emboldened his opponents. By
voting Zanu-PF out of office the Zimbabwean people have recovered their
sense of pride, they have begun to have confidence in one another again, and
they have realised that Mugabe is no longer all powerful. None of this bodes
well for a tyrant.
The second is that, after eight years of plunder by Zanu-PF, the regime is
now running short of the resources it needs to maintain the loyalty of the
junior and middle ranks of the state security apparatus. The Zimbabwean
reported this week that "middle and junior-ranking officers of the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) have recommended that Robert Mugabe concede
defeat and step down."
The third, and perhaps crucial difference between 2000 and now, is that
Mbeki is on his way out. The sole purpose of re-running the presidential
poll and then using state-sponsored terror (and even more vote rigging) to
ensure victory for Mugabe is to provide some kind of democratic
re-legitimation for his regime. But for this to work South Africa and SADC
have to go along with the charade and endorse the results - as they did in
2000, 2002, and 2005.
Mbeki is no longer in command of the ANC and his political authority is
draining away both within South Africa and the region as a whole. He is too
weak politically to insist that the ANC and South Africa endorse any future
victory by Mugabe, or corral SADC into doing the same.
ANC president Jacob Zuma has not actually had to do that much to make an
important difference. He has just had to make clear that, firstly, he does
not condone (even by omission) anti-MDC violence; and secondly, that he
would not endorse the result of any Mugabe-ite victory in a re-run conducted
under the current conditions. His statements have (thus far) deprived the
Mugabe regime of the kind of moral affirmation it craves, and which Mbeki
was always happy to supply.
Although Zuma went along with the Mbeki-ite line on Zimbabwe up until late
2006, he has had every incentive to pursue a different approach following
his victory at Polokwane. His allies in the SACP and COSATU are wholly
opposed to Mugabe's continuation in office. And he is already reaping major
dividends internationally from simply saying and doing the decent thing on
Finally, the Mugabe regime is more politically isolated than it has ever
been before. The scuppering of the An Yue Jiang's delivery of its deadly
cargo to Zimbabwe was crucial in this regard. China has said that the cargo
is to be recalled, and Angola has promised that the weapons will not be
allowed to be off-loaded while the ship is in port.
The authority of even the most tyrannical regime rests on a perception -
that, its power will continue to endure into the foreseeable future. Once
the realisation sets in that it will not be around in perpetuity - and
people start looking beyond it - its authority is liable to dwindle
extraordinarily rapidly. The whiff of mortality is deadly.
Barring an uprising by the lower ranks of the security forces the Zanu-PF
elite can probably hang on for a while yet. But they must have started
asking themselves for how long they can survive. In which case, should they
concede now, when they can probably leave with something? Or hold on for as
long as possible, at the risk of leaving with nothing (not even their
The Herald's columnists, while still praising Zanu-PF's "all weather
friends" in China and (Mbeki-ite) South Africa, now rail against the SADC
leaders who have broken ranks with their cause. The tone reminds one of
Dylan Thomas's immortal line: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
June 27, 2008
THE Movement for Democratic Change was riding on a wave of popular support
in the face of an adverse political atmosphere right up to the March 29
harmonised elections. It secured victories in presidential, parliamentary
and local government elections.
The victories were however marginal in circumstances which have aroused
suspicion of manipulation. The result of the presidential election, for
instance, was not announced for an astounding total of five weeks, totally
unprecedented in the history of democratic elections. The level of anger
reflected in the wave of post-election violence that has engulfed Zimbabwe
has lent credibility to speculation that Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party might
have sustained a more devastating defeat than was officially recognised.
Notwithstanding the intimidation and brutalization of the electorate there
was evidence that the popularity of the MDC remained buoyant after the
election, judging from the large turnouts wherever the party's leader and
presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, addressed before his rallies were
officially banned. The MDC has produced evidence that more than 80 of its
supporters have been massacred in the orgy of violence clearly perpetrated
by marauding Zanu-PF militiamen.
While Zanu-PF officially denies any link to the killings, the maiming and
the displacement of MDC supporters, the evidence is overwhelming.
In the circumstances, the last-minute decision by the MDC to pull its
candidate from today's second round of the March 29 presidential election
must have been painful for both the party and Tsvangirai.
After the electoral hiccup of March today's controversial election was bound
to become the culmination of a quest for democratic change that has remained
illusive since the parliamentary election of 2000. The choice before the
electorate was simple. It was whether to confirm its original decision on
March 29, for better or for worse, to give Tsvangirai an opportunity to take
over the reigns of power from an ageing and increasingly capricious Mugabe,
or to succumb to Mugabe's threat that, once elected, Tsvangirai will hand
Zimbabwe lock stock and barrel back to its former British colonisers.
Such arguments failed to persuade the electorate in March and, obviously
sensing the prospect of another defeat Mugabe resorted to unorthodox
campaign strategies, which have left scores dead, thousands maimed or
homeless and his rival holed up in a foreign embassy in Harare.
The events of the past week have effectively denied the people of Zimbabwe
of their long-awaited opportunity to determine, as is their democratic
right, the future of their country. Tsvangirai decided the lives of his
supporters were more important than the prospect of personal victory over
Whether or not Tsvangirai, by his tactical withdrawal, successfully saved
lives can only be established in the aftermath of the one-candidate
election. Mugabe has decided nothing will stop him.
Tsvangirai's decision to quit must have partly been influenced by the
logical expectation that his withdrawal would rouse an otherwise complacent
international community, Africa and the SADC region in particular, into a
more active role in seeking to find a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.
Indeed within four days a summit of the southern African regional
organisation was convened in Swaziland. Tsvangirai immediately made
optimistic remarks on the pending summit.
But the much hackneyed statements that were offered by way of a summit
communiqué must have come as a mortal blow to Zimbabweans who, in their
desperation, have grown accustomed to expecting salvation from SADC in
general and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, in particular.
If evidence was ever required that Zimbabwe and the world has misplaced
faith in the capacity of SADC to intervene in a meaningful way that evidence
was tendered in Swaziland on Wednesday.
To start with, the SADC Organ summit "noted with concern and disappointment
that the opposition leader, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, has formally withdrawn
from the Presidential run-off election scheduled for Friday the 27th of June
This statement must have been tailored for the ears of Mugabe. But then the
summit went to state in the most contradictory terms that "because of the
current charged atmosphere the parties and people of Zimbabwe deserve a
cooling off period."
The summit therefore recommended to the authorities in Zimbabwe that they
consider postponing the election.
Before the ink was dry on the communiqué at King Mswati's Lozitha Palace
outside Mbabane, Mugabe was breathing fire in Harare.
Not only did Mugabe and his acolytes ridicule SADC by immediately vowing
today's election would proceed as scheduled; addressing the party faithful
and not-so-faithful who were herded to his rally in Chitungwiza yesterday he
threatened to expose the skeletons allegedly lurking in the closets of some
of his peers if they subjected him to further pressure at a forthcoming AU
summit. Throwing all caution to the wind, Mugabe said, like Tsvangirai, some
of the African Heads of State were, in fact, puppets of the West.
Perhaps, Mugabe's threats to his fellow African leaders will ruffle
presidential feathers sufficiently across the continent for some among them
to finally say, "Enough."
So much for SADC. Meanwhile, as for the poor people of Zimbabwe, their
caring President has perhaps unwittingly prescribed a workable solution to
their ongoing abuse and humiliation - divine intervention. Until then Mugabe
will hopefully enjoy the remainder of his stay in State Harare, having
robbed and bludgeoned his way back.
June 27, 2008
By Our Correspondent
CHITUNGWIZA - Three Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists abducted
and killed by Zanu-PF militiamen in Chitungwiza last week were buried in the
town amid reports that violence against opposition supporters is escalating.
The MDC on Thursday buried the bodies of Archiford Chipiyo, Yona Jenti and
Ngoni Night at the Unit L cemetery, a day after another MDC member Abigail
Chiroto was laid to rest at the Warren Hills cemetery in Harare.
Abigail is the wife of MDC councilor for ward 11 in Harare Emmanuel Chiroto.
She was abducted and later killed by a suspected Zanu PF hit squad last
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said this was clear evidence of Zanu-PF's
brutal terror campaign against innocent people.
Chamisa said: "We have buried four more MDC members this week in Harare and
Chitungwiza. It's very clear that our members have been the victims of the
Zanu-PF violent campaign".
Militants loyal to President Robert Mugabe last week attacked the house of
the MDC chairman for Chitungwiza district Philemon Chipiyo with petrol bombs
before abducting four youths.
Three of the four - Archiford Chipiyo, Yona Gendi, Ngoni Night - were part
of a group of youths holding a night vigil at the MDC chairman's home in
Chitungwiza's Unit F suburb.
Three of the bodies were discovered in the Beatrice farming area along the
Harare-Masvingo road Wednesday last week.
The fourth body was found in Zengeza in a different section of Chitungwiza.
Sources say a group of over 200 Zanu-PF militiamen descended on the home of
the MDC district chairman at midnight armed with sticks, stones, iron bars,
petrol bombs and guns after a smaller group had been repelled two hours
Four unmarked double-cab trucks, a mini-bus owned by a known soldier and a
Mercedes Benz sedan belonging to a local policeman accompanied the mob,
The militiamen, who were singing and chanting Zanu-PF slogans and denouncing
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, pulled down the wall around the homestead
before throwing stones and petrol bombs into the house.
They ransacked the house searching for Chipiyo who had to jump over a
neighbor's perimeter wall for safety.
Zanu-PF accuses Chipiyo of masterminding Mugabe's poll defeat in the
district during the March 29 general elections.
After failing to abduct the MDC district chairman the assailants pounced on
his son Archiford - a teacher - and two other youths who were trapped in the
The fourth victim was abducted along the street as the assailants drove away
from the scene.
Eye witnesses say the unsuspecting youth was merely a passerby on his way
home in the neighborhood. He was accused of being an MDC member.
The attack left the eight-roomed house gutted.
In an interview a grieving Chipiyo said his son had died a painful and
violent death at the hands of Zanu-PF militants, some of them well-known war
veterans in the area.
Chipiyo said: "I know my son died a very painful death. He must have died
before they left this place because the amount of blood in the house tells
me that the attack was severe and brutal".
He said he was lucky to be alive as the attackers had made it clear that
they wanted his head.
He said: "I am lucky to be alive because they wanted me dead. They could
have shot me if I had not been thrown over the wall by some youths when a
gun was pointed at me".
Chipiyo who was very thankful to the brave youths who saved him said two
bullets missed him and hit the brick wall
The MDC says over 80 of its members have been brutally killed in post
election violence since March 29. The party accuses Mugabe of unleashing a
brutal terror campaign against opponents ahead of the election today.
The MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the election on Sunday.
Mugabe, the remaining candidate vowed to go ahead with the election.
Friday, June 27, 2008
By Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If there's any justice, the photo that ran on the front page of yesterday's
New York Times will be used as evidence against Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe when he is finally put on trial in The Hague.
The four-column photo shows a crying 11-month-old boy. Because it is winter
in Zimbabwe, he is dressed in a tiny blue romper suit. Below the knees, the
boy is wearing what at first glance looks like a pair of ill-fitting white
Tipped off by toes sticking out of an opening in the left one, a closer look
reveals them to be a pair of tiny white casts.
Titled "Suffering Great and Small," the cutline reads: "An 11-month-old with
broken legs found shelter in a church in Harare, Zimbabwe. His mother said
youths with the governing party shattered his legs while trying to make her
disclose the whereabouts of her husband, an opposition supporter."
Zimbabwe descended into hell a long time ago thanks to the madness of its
ostensible "liberator" and his ruling party of thugs, goons and sadists
known as ZANU-PF.
In the pantheon of living African despots, Mr. Mugabe has been first among
equals for nearly 30 years. Once upon a time, he was even considered a hero
because he helped pry the country, then known as Rhodesia, from under the
oppressive lash of its apartheid-style government.
Few nations have had as precipitous an economic collapse after liberation
from colonial rule as Zimbabwe.
Since the fall of the white minority government in 1980, the country has
gone from being the breadbasket of southern Africa and one of the
continent's biggest exporters of food to its most appalling failure.
Mr. Mugabe blames his country's troubles on a conspiracy by the former
colonial powers incensed by his track record as a "liberator" and traitors
at home he insists are nostalgic for white rule.
After faring badly in a recent election against an opposition party leader,
Mr. Mugabe and his goons imposed a presidential runoff.
For several weeks leading up to today's election, the ZANU-PF have scoured
the country for political opponents -- jailing some and killing others.
If he can't win fairly at the ballot box, Mr. Mugabe is content to "win"
through intimidation and terror. He vowed to hold on to power, regardless of
what the voters consider to be in their best interests.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, pulled out of the race several
days ago, citing the danger to his supporters by Mr. Mugabe's thugs.
Since then, regional African leaders have called on Mr. Mugabe to cancel
today's runoff, arguing that it is illegitimate even by the standards of
quasi-democratic African states.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela said on Wednesday that the
crisis represented "a tragic failure of leadership in Zimbabwe." Mr. Mugabe
told Mr. Mandela and every other African leader who dared criticize him to
mind their own business.
If ever an anti-apartheid-style protest movement needed to catch fire in the
West, it is now. Mr. Mugabe is, arguably, as big a human-rights abuser as
the regime he displaced in Rhodesia.
To that end, it is gratifying to see that Pittsburgh's City Council has
declared today "Zimbabwe Freedom Day."
City Council member Patrick Dowd sponsored the proclamation presented
earlier this week, expressing our solidarity with "those in Zimbabwe
fighting peacefully for their freedom."
It is a thoughtful proclamation that honestly describes the deteriorating
situation in Zimbabwe with urgency and compassion.
True, there isn't much the average Pittsburgher can do about Mr. Mugabe,
beyond becoming aware of what's going in Zimbabwe. But Mr. Dowd and his
colleagues should be congratulated for caring enough to make a gesture of
One day, Robert Mugabe will be compelled to answer to an international
tribunal for crimes against humanity. On that day, I hope the 11-month-old
boy his goons tortured will be old enough to understand that justice has
It will also be satisfying to know that Pittsburgh, in its own small way,
stood up when it mattered and identified with Zimbabweans in their hour of
Today's proclamation of "Zimbabwe Freedom Day" here is just the beginning.
There are many dark days ahead, but victory is assured. Tyrants, no matter
how long they're around, have a very short shelf life.
Tony Norman can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1631.
June 27, 2008
IN "MUGABE refuses to cancel runoff vote" (Page A3, June 25), Robert Mugabe,
president of Zimbabwe, is quoted, in advance of today's election, as saying,
"Our people, only our people, will decide, and no one else." Below I copy an
e-mail received last weekend from my 77-year-old father in Zimbabwe. He owns
a small property north of Harare, and employs five to 10 laborers. I have
deleted the names of the people and of the properties:
"Hi Dave. Well, our turn has come when on Friday night (June 21) I was
confronted by a mob outside my kitchen, which was nasty but I kept my cool
and they left at midnight. This was not the end, as the mob - identified as
a group of state-sponsored thugs - collected all the male staff who they
took to (another location) where they beat them very badly. (The farm
manager) suffered severe head injuries and at least one broken leg.
"I was called to (the same location) on Saturday morning to collect them,
and was forced to face the mob, but had no option; fortunately I had taken
my pistol with me and once they saw this, which was hidden in my pocket,
they cooled down but threatened to come and sort me out later. (The farm
manager) and the other injured refused to go to hospital, and we were
threatened that if we called the police there would be serious
The farm manager is now in the hospital. This brutality is beyond my
comprehension. When Mugabe refers to "our people, only our people," he no
longer speaks for the majority of Zimbabweans.
Trinidad and Tobago Express
Friday, June 27th 2008
"Treachery, tribalism and mass murder are all that can result from a
false solution. To accept such a Zimbabwe would be a betrayal of our people,
of our principles and quite simply (since dead and detained men can neither
canvass nor cast votes) a betrayal of ourselves.''
Those were the words of a joint statement by Robert Mugabe and Joshua
Nkomo spoken at the 1979 London Conference that led to the independence of
Zimbabwe and the election of Mugabe as president.
In his sanctioning of wanton killings and detention of his political
opponents, Mugabe has long since forgotten those words.
The joint statement went on to state: "We must remember here that it
has always been, and it remains, the basic objective of the Patriotic Front
to ensure that government of a genuine free Zimbabwe is based upon free and
Now in a betrayal, not only of that pledge but of all the persons and
nations that stood up for an independent Zimbabwe based on majority rule,
Mugabe has rigged one election after the other and has sworn not to accept
the results of an election on June 27 if it goes against him.
Mugabe has disappointed his most ardent supporters; he has treated
with contempt those who reposed confidence in him in the face of many
doubters; and worst of all, he has destroyed his own country and devastated
his own people, thousands of whom have fled the country to neighbouring
states especially South Africa where in recent times they have been beaten
by resentful and unwelcoming South Africans.
The current atmosphere in Zimbabwe is not conducive to a free and fair
election. Fifty-three deaths have been confirmed, 2,000 people have been
injured and 30,000 people displaced during the campaign.
Soldiers have been ordered by their high command to vote for Mugabe or
lose their jobs and villagers all over the country have been threatened with
death by the army. Ordinary people are brutally chopped to death.
The governments of some neighbouring African countries have now spoken
out against the glaring atrocities of the Mugabe regime. Tanzanian foreign
minister, Bernard Membe, whose government is the current chairman of the
African Union, said: "There is every sign that these elections will never be
free or fair.''
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki could have done much more to
bring an early end to the destruction of Zimbabwe and the wanton killings,
by imposing a trade embargo on Zimbabwe, closing the border between the two
countries and stopping financial transactions. Instead, he handled Mugabe
with kid gloves. The elections on June 27 are now a huge farce.
If Mugabe wins the presidential election, no one anywhere in the world
could possibly accept it as credible. Zimbabwe's economy - already a basket
case, except for the help of China - will deteriorate even further and
Zimbabweans will suffer and die even more.
The Chinese government will have to decide whether in the face of
Mugabe's glaring atrocities it will continue to prop him up. It would be sad
for the Zimbabwean people if they took such a decision.
Caribbean governments have a right and an obligation to condemn the
Mugabe regime in the most vigorous terms and to send a clear message now
that they will join an international effort to isolate his regime.
Caribbean persons such as Shridath "Sonny'' Ramphal, as Commonwealth
secretary-general, played a crucial role in the achievement of majority
rule, and the independence of Zimbabwe. Other Caribbean leaders, at the
time, Jamaica's Michael Manley, Guyana's Forbes Burnham and Barbados' Errol
Barrow also played their part in overturning the Unilateral Declaration of
Independence by the white, minority government of Ian Smith.
Today, Mugabe is no better than Smith. He has spurned the efforts of
more recent Caribbean leaders - most notably PJ Patterson, the former prime
minister of Jamaica, who as chairman of a group of six Commonwealth heads of
government, tried his best to persuade Mugabe to honour the path to
By the time Caribbean heads of government meet for their annual
conference in July in Antigua, the result of this farcical election will be
At that meeting, Caribbean governments should unhesitatingly join
other countries in imposing the strongest measures against the Mugabe regime
including intervention by the UN. But even before then, Caribbean
governments at the highest levels should let Mugabe know publicly that they
condemn his actions.
Tyranny in any colour must be firmly rejected.
Sir Ronald Sanders is a business consultant and former Caribbean
Courtesy Jamaica Observer
The American Spectator
By George H. Wittman
Published 6/27/2008 12:07:38 AM
Robert Mugabe ensured that Zimbabwe's runoff election, scheduled for today,
would have only himself as presidential candidate by driving the opposition
party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from the scene. All it took was
his Zanu-PF goons killing and maiming the principal members of the MDC.
Mugabe, the despot, continues to tyrannize this economically destitute,
politically shackled state.
The Secretary General of the MDC had been jailed earlier in the month under
a death sentence for treason. Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC presidential candidate,
fled this week to the Dutch embassy to escape the carnage on the streets and
then announced his party was opting out of the runoff. This was after the
wife of the MDC mayor of the capital city of Harare was kidnapped and
butchered in front of her 4-year-old son.
In response the United Nations, guided by the purposeful inaction of its
African members, has held indignant meetings on the subject of holding more
What needs to be done is clear, though it is never mentioned except in
whispers. Military forces aided by internal resistance must be used to oust
the dictator and install a democratically elected government. Sound
familiar? Unfortunately Zimbabwe's neighbors do not want to launch such an
effort and certainly do not countenance non-African powers doing so.
What they apparently want is to see peace and democracy magically break out.
It's not going to happen. What exists instead is a concerted effort by
African leaders and the world's many left-wing apologists to construct
reason and logic out of Mugabe's societal and political mayhem. This
obfuscation and obscurantism reaches back many years.
ROBERT MUGABE ONCE MAY have been quiet and cunningly smart, but he always
had the murderous capability he now so obviously wields. Europeans (the
African term for all whites), eager to find intelligent African leaders
within whom they might see the qualities the French used to refer to as
evolvue (evolved), perceived in the admitted leftist Mugabe a man
nonetheless of apparent common sense and contemporary sophistication.
From the beginning Mugabe set about to politically and then physically
annihilate others who had worked for Zimbabwe independence. His Central
Intelligence Organization was formed from the ranks of those personally most
loyal. They have kept an eye on everything and everyone in the country that
might pose a threat to their leader. This has included the members of his
All law enforcement follows the same line, as does the hand-picked
Presidential Guard. The Army's Fifth Brigade originally had North Korean
advisors to ensure proper training with old Soviet equipment -- and to rub
their presence under the noses of the former British "imperialists." To
further strengthen his hold on power Mugabe has created units of so-called
"war veterans" who do the dirty street bullying to keep villagers in line
and coerce the few remaining white farmers.
Robert Mugabe in all his fearful paranoia is protected by this large and
formidable internal security apparat. Their existence depends on "the old
man," and they know it. African leaders, while acknowledging the danger to
his own country that Mugabe poses, point to his advanced age (84) as the key
to dealing with him. Africa is waiting for him to die, but he just doesn't
seem to be in an accommodating mood.
ROBERT MUGABE HASN'T CHANGED and doesn't appear to intend to. He's the same
as he was earlier, just more practiced in his paranoia and deadly in his
despotism. He never was a democrat. He never sought democracy for his
country. And he has never understood anything about governance other than
the heavy-handed manipulation of the political process.
This aged but not infirm Mugabe is deeply insulted at what he views is an
ungrateful public that has spawned from its ranks legions of non-subservient
disbelievers. In his eyes, these "tools of British imperialism" seek to
overturn history. Robert Mugabe has reached the same point in his life as
did Felix Houphoet-Boigny, Joseph Desire Mobuto, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, and
other African autocrats to whom power was their raison d'etre.
Perhaps the African and United Nations solution is right. Wait for the old
man to die. But then what? When tyrannies fall, they can leave chaos in
their wake. The existing large and demanding security force will remain
desirous of protecting their power. They must be disbanded and removed from
Are Southern Africa and the United Nations prepared to accept the
responsibility that awaits them? Will they really care more then than they
George H. Wittman, a member of the Committee on the Present Danger, was the
founding chairman of the National Institute for Public Policy.
Mail and Guardian
JOHN GROBLER | WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA - Jun 27 2008 06:00
The crisis in Zimbabwe has triggered the Southern African Development
Community's (SADC) most profound political crisis since its foundation, an
expert on the regional body said this week.
Dr Andre du Pisani, a former dean of economics at the University of Namibia
and consultant to the SADC, says President Robert Mugabe and the ruling
Zanu-PF party have systematically violated every core principle of the 1992
The treaty rests on principles of respect for human rights, democracy, the
rule of law and the peaceful settlement of political disputes. These
principles are also the core values of the United Nations Charter and the
Constituent Act of the African Union, all of which Mugabe's government
Mugabe is also a signatory to the strategic indicative plan on the SADC
organ for defence, politics and security cooperation, the founding aim of
which is to safeguard the region from instability that arises from a
breakdown in law on an inter-state and intra-state level.
"But these principles have been grossly abused by Zimbabwe under the pretext
that the Zimbabwean situation is purely a domestic one," he said. "It's
absolutely clear that the Zimbabwean situation flies in the face of every
one of the constituent principles of not only the SADC, but the AU, the
African peer review mechanism and Nepad."
Du Pisani said Mugabe has consistently exploited "the politics of memory" --
blind loyalty among the former liberation movements such as the ANC, Swapo
in Namibia, the MPLA in Angola and Frelimo in Mozambique -- to avoid censure
from his former comrades-in-arms.
"Among the former liberation movement leaders it's simply inconceivable that
they could move against one another," an aspect that has hamstrung SADC's
leadership ever since Mugabe used his chair of the SADC organ on defence,
politics and security cooperation to justify Zimbabwe's military
intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1998.
Several key SADC member states such as Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana have
condemned Mugabe's regime. Even Angola has turned against its erstwhile
friend, leaving only key allies such as the DRC and Namibia's Swapo
government firmly on his side.
Namibian civil society and opposition parties have called for Namibia to
sever diplomatic ties with Mugabe's regime immediately. But with Swapo still
firmly under the thumb of former President Sam Nujoma -- Mugabe's staunchest
regional ally -- and Swapo hardliners refusing even to acknowledge the
Harare regime's most barbaric excesses, incumbent President Hifikepunye
Pohamba remains silent.
As if to underline this, the Namibian army chief, General Martin Shalli,
paid a formal visit this week to his Zimbabwean counterpart,
Commander-General Constantine Chiwenga.
Despite the growing crisis, Shalli insisted to local media that Namibia was
"neutral" in Zimbabwe's political situation and backed Thabo Mbeki's
But former foreign affairs minister Hidipo Hamutenya, who was expelled from
Swapo for opposing Nujoma, is far more direct: "Swapo has a shameful history
of backing dictators, such as the late Sani Abacha of Nigeria, and is on
record that it would not countenance 'regime change' in the region."
All eyes will now be on the SADC's next move, Du Pisani said. To expel or
even just suspend Zimbabwe would hurt Mugabe, but in the context of Southern
Africa's liberation struggle history it would also be tantamount to children
expelling their father from his own house; and that could bring the house
Mail and Guardian
Jun 27 2008 06:00
Two stories in this edition spotlight the paradox of President Thabo Mbeki's
handling of the Zimbabwean crisis, as the president of a neighbouring
African state and the region's appointed mediator.
On the one hand there is the hard-hitting analysis Mbeki sent President
Robert Mugabe in 2001, lambasting Mugabe's economic mismanagement and
assaults on democracy. Presciently, the South African leader warns of
Zimbabwe's growing isolation, of the danger posed by the violent "war
veterans" who have swamped the ruling party and of the potential fallout for
the region of a deepening crisis. He calls on Mugabe to cooperate with the
emerging Movement for Democratic Change, with Britain and the International
Monetary Fund, and cautions against the reckless misuse of anti-imperalist
On the other there is the fact that South Africa has been a worse offender
than China in the weapons trade to Zimbabwe, allowing both state-owned
Armscor and private dealers to strengthen the vicious and corrupt Zimbabwean
military and fuel repression by selling it everything from small arms to
helicopters and missiles. This is consistent with South Africa's deep
reluctance to condemn Zimbabwe's human rights crimes and repeated moves to
shield it from international opprobrium in the United Nations Security
Council, the UN Human Rights Commission and the Commonwealth.
What this suggests is that Mbeki fully appreciates the nastiness of Mugabe's
totalitarian order but has managed to delude himself for many years that the
Zimbabwean dictator and his clique are amenable to reason. Mbeki has
virtues, but the ability to judge character is not one of them. It also
suggests his deep stubbornness and difficulties in admitting he is wrong. He
has continued pandering to Mugabe and looking the other way as the attacks
on democratic norms, economic idiocy and "regional contagion" he warned
against in 2001 have steadily worsened.
He will argue that more robust tactics, including economic pressure, would
have been no more successful. Perhaps. But his policy of appeasement, which
even other African countries now see as a case of bias in Mugabe's favour,
has done South Africa great harm. Once a shining example of the victory of
human rights over repression, the country's image has been tarnished by
association with Mugabe's tyranny. Just as seriously, it has given the
impression that South Africa's rulers covertly sympathise with Zimbabwe's
rape of the rule of the law and particularly its unconstitutional land
grabs. The one thing that can be said in Mbeki's favour is that the recent
Zimbabwean election, which he helped engineer, has made it morally
impossible to defend Mugabe's regime. But this has come at enormous cost to
Zimbabwe's people and the region.
From the outset he should have spoken out about Mugabe's abuses and
distanced South Africa from events across our northern border, as Angola,
Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, and now Kenya, have done. Given Zimbabwe's
descent into economic and political anarchy, how feeble and misguided his
past rejection of "megaphone diplomacy" now seems!
An 'up yours' to South Africa
President Thabo Mbeki has exceeded even his own high standards of political
He has provoked howls of outrage by deciding to extend, for a year, the
contract of police commissioner Jackie Selebi, despite the corruption
charges facing South Africa's top cop. This is a massive "up yours" to
public opinion and victims of crime.
Selebi's supporters will point to decreases in some types of crime, claiming
this resulted from his able leadership. While it is true that some
categories have tapered off, this has hardly been significant and others
Besides, the police have emphasised the social causes of crime, meaning it
is a problem to be owned by all of government, not just the men and women in
blue. How, then, can one man claim ownership of the alleged improvement?
The fact of the matter is that Selebi's reign has been marked by controversy
over his restructuring of the police as much as by his legendary buffoonery.
He has not risen to the challenge and inspired confidence in the face of one
of the worst crime waves any country has experienced.
Based on his performance alone he is the wrong man for the job.
As for his brush with the law, Selebi's supporters will argue that he has
not been found guilty in a court of law and must be deemed innocent until
proved guilty. While we cannot fault the principle, its application is plain
wrong. This is not about firing him; it is about reappointing him to a job
to which he had no legitimate expectation and in respect of which Mbeki and
the government owed him no duty.
And whether Selebi is guilty or innocent in the criminal sense is hardly the
only issue. He has lied to the media when confronted with difficult
questions about his interaction with the cream of South African organised
crime. The fact of his association with someone like Glenn Agliotti has
revealed at the very least fatally flawed judgement.
Compounding Mbeki's insensitivity is his timing. Cabinet announced the
decision a day before Selebi's appearance in court and as government's case
against public prosecutions head Vusi Pikoli, whom Mbeki had suspended after
Pikoli obtained an arrest warrant for Selebi, was visibly crumbling.
International Herald Tribune
By Celia W. Dugger and Barry Bearak Published: June 27, 2008
JOHANNESBURG: President Robert Mugabe's enforcers had already begun to
rampage across Zimbabwe, beating his political opponents, when television
cameras captured a startling image of Mugabe holding hands with the smiling
South African president, Thabo Mbeki, a professed champion of African
It was April 2000. And Mbeki, leader of the continent's most powerful
nation, spoke no evil of Mugabe's repressive ways.
Eight years later, in April 2008, much the same scene repeated itself. For
two weeks, Zimbabwean election officials had refused to release the results
of an election Mugabe had lost, and a new wave of violence was beginning.
Again, the despot and the democrat genially clasped hands as Mbeki declared
that there was no political crisis in Zimbabwe.
The complex relationship between these men, stretching back almost 30 years,
is crucial to fathoming why Mbeki, picked last year by regional leaders to
officially mediate Zimbabwe's conflict, does not publicly criticize Mugabe,
nor use South Africa's unique economic leverage as the dominant nation in
the region to curb his ruthless methods despite years of rigged elections.
The world's puzzlement with Mbeki's approach - walking softly, carrying no
stick - has turned into deep frustration these past two months as
state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe has become so sweeping that the
opposition's candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, who outpolled Mugabe in the first
round, quit the race five days shy of the presidential runoff on Friday.
Mbeki policy, typically called "quiet diplomacy," is built on the staunch
conviction that his special bond with Mugabe can resolve the crisis in
Zimbabwe through patient negotiations, his colleagues and chroniclers says.
Mbeki's biographers, his colleagues, even his brother debate why he has
stuck with his approach despite years of bad faith by Mugabe. Mbeki's
consistency is variously attributed to a hubristic resistance to admitting
failure, a world view deeply suspicious of Western interference in African
affairs, a hard-nosed calculation of political interests and a realistic
assessment of the limits of South Africa's power when confronted with an
For years, South Africa has sought to block international action against
Mugabe's government and, as recently as June 19, refused to join an American
effort at the United Nations to condemn the political attacks in Zimbabwe.
Only after the clamor against Mugabe grew even louder did South Africa agree
on Monday to support the Security Council's condemnation of the "campaign of
violence" afflicting the nation.
With Zimbabwe's economy in ruins and millions of its people having fled to
South Africa and other nations, quiet diplomacy is now widely regarded as a
tragic blot on the legacy of the region's leading politician, an ambitious,
high-minded man who stepped energetically into Nelson Mandela's shoes in
1999. It also stands in contrast to the much more critical stance of many
African leaders past and present, including Mandela, who this week cited a
"tragic failure of leadership" in Zimbabwe.
Mbeki and his team are even now scrambling to salvage a negotiated political
settlement, and on Wednesday South Africa's deputy foreign minister, Aziz
Pahad, told reporters, "We can only say the mediation has failed if we reach
a situation where Zimbabwe totally gets engulfed in a state of civil war."
South African officials contend that Mbeki's mediation led to a relatively
fair election in the first round of voting in March, with tallies posted at
polling stations, a plurality of votes for Tsvangirai and a majority in
Parliament for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"His approach has produced results," said Themba Maseko, the spokesman for
the South African government.
But Mark Gevisser, who wrote a biography of Mbeki, "Thabo Mbeki: The Dream
Deferred" (Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2007), offered the prevailing view of
the president's Zimbabwe policy: "It's his great diplomatic failure. And
it's all the more significant because of the incredibly high bar he set for
Mbeki, now 66, began his career with a strong sense of a destiny. The son of
Govan Mbeki, an icon of South Africa's liberation struggle, he was anointed
as a leader early and sent abroad to study at the University of Sussex,
where he earned a master's degree in economics. His mentor was Oliver Tambo,
the exiled leader of the African National Congress, and he was trained to
use his mind more than his muscles, a student of global economics rather
than armed struggle.
Mbeki struck up a friendship with Mugabe in 1980, soon after the Zimbabwean
came to power, Gevisser said. Over time, he developed a filial relationship
to the elder leader. "Mugabe is the father, but not a beloved father, a
troublesome one, the kind the son wishes would just listen to him once in a
while," Gevisser said.
While Mbeki had no illusions about Mugabe, Gevisser and others say, he felt
a kinship with the hero of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle against white
"He believes, 'Even if the rest of the world thinks I am an appeaser - that
I'm just as bad as Mugabe - I have to keep doing what I'm doing because I
have this special relationship,' " the biographer said of Mbeki. "He thinks
he is the only one who can talk to Mugabe, and the only way to get Mugabe
out is quietly and through his acquiescence."
Mbeki's younger brother, Moeletsi, 62, who worked for nine years in the
1980s as a journalist in Zimbabwe, says the alliance between the men springs
more from a political than a personal affinity: Mugabe and Mbeki view the
trade union movement as a common threat.
Mugabe's nemesis, Tsvangirai, is a former trade union leader. And Thabo
Mbeki, whose fiscally conservative economic policies alienated the powerful
Congress of South African Trade Unions, lost the leadership of the African
National Congress last year to Jacob Zuma, who had the unions' backing.
Thabo Mbeki and Mugabe are British educated politicians who feel they were
trained to govern, Moeletsi Mbeki contends, arguing that Mugabe sees
Tsvangirai, who did not attend college, as "the riffraff."
"It's a class thing," he said. "The same with my brother: master's from
Moeletsi, a frequent critic of his brother, said he believed South Africa's
protection of Mugabe - the blind eye to rigged elections, the shielding from
international censure - would likely end if Zuma became president next year,
as expected, "not because of Zuma," but because the unions' "will demand it
It was the dock workers in South Africa who refused to unload a Chinese arms
shipment intended for Zimbabwe in April, a shipment the South African
government was facilitating.
But some who have long known Mbeki find the trade union explanation
unconvincing, arguing that his approach to Zimbabwe grows instead from a
belief in African solutions to African problems, and to acting only with
unanimity among the nations of southern Africa.
George Bizos, Nelson Mandela's lawyer and one of his oldest friends, visited
Mbeki when Bizos was defending Tsvangirai in 2003 and 2004 against treason
charges that he said grew out of a frame-up concocted by Mugabe. At the
time, Mbeki's critics contended he could quickly topple Mugabe by blocking
landlocked Zimbabwe from gaining access South African ports, or by cutting
off its electricity, among other steps, but the president found these
"He said, 'I can't cut the electricity because the grid goes to other
countries," Bizos said. "I can't shut the frontier gates because we require
passage to countries northeast and northwest of us through Zimbabwe.
"Please tell me what to do."
While Bizos said quiet diplomacy had certainly failed, he was unconvinced
anything else would have worked. "You can't put meaningful pressure on a
person who's an egomaniac, who doesn't care about his people and only cares
about staying in power," he said.
Others who have known Mbeki over the years worry that Mugabe ran circles
around him and say Mbeki should have shifted tactics years ago, been more
forthright in condemning egregious human rights abuses and sought a broader
role for the international community.
Gevisser and others who know Mbeki, with his ideological commitment to
African self-determination, say that he digs in when under fire, especially
from Western powers like the United States and Britain, which have been
pushing South Africa to act more forcefully.
In April, after Jendayi Frazer, the American assistant secretary of state
for Africa, visited the region, Mbeki sent President George W. Bush a letter
that a senior American official called rambling and aggressively defensive.
Frazer had openly condemned Mugabe for the delay in releasing the election
results and said the evidence pointed to a Tsvangirai victory.
The American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the
letter was never made public, said Mbeki strongly objected to Americans
coming to southern Africa to talk about Zimbabwe without consulting him, the
region's appointed mediator, and attacking an election that he said had by
and large respected the rule of law.
By then, American diplomats in Harare had begun venturing into the
Zimbabwean countryside and collecting evidence of the brutal attacks on
opposition supporters and the official said, "It seemed very out of touch
with reality and with what was unfolding on the ground."
This month, these resentments surfaced when Mbeki addressed South Africa's
National Assembly, criticizing those who describe South Africa as a rogue
democracy because "we refuse to serve as their subservient" stone throwers
Mbeki has told the government and the opposition that the violence needs to
stop, Maseko said. And the violence has now created a need for yet more
We had a wonderful encounter with Nelson Mandela today. Vigil management
team member Fungayi Mabhunu joined human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell at
Mr Mandela's hotel in London. They were there to alert people who might have
pitched up for the planned picket cancelled because of Mr Mandela's welcome
comments on the Zimbabwe situation on Wednesday night. Fungayi, speaking in
hastily-learned Xhosa, said how pleased he was that Mr Mandela had spoken
out about Zimbabwe and asked him to continue speaking out. A surprised Mr
Mandela said OK.
The Vigil had planned to picket the concert for Mr Mandela's 90th birthday
in Hyde Park on Friday but in view of his support any message that we will
give will be one of gratitude that he has spoken out.
The Vigil choir sang at the annual service in support of Zimbabwean victims
of torture at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, organised by the Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum. It was very moving to hear the accounts of the
suffering of people at home. Flowers were laid at the Embassy after the
We look forward to seeing you all on Friday for the mother of all
non-elections. We will be joined by members of the MDC UK and expect a large
turnout. The highlight of the day will be our protest from 1 - 2 pm outside
the South African High Commission. Mugabe and Grace (or people looking like
them) will be accompanying a coffin with our petition asking President Mbeki
to stop supporting Mugabe. The South African High Commission have agreed to
accept the petition which reads: "A petition to President Mbeki of South
Africa. Exiled Zimbabweans and supporters urge you to stop supporting Mugabe
and allow a peaceful transfer of power from the military regime to the
Zimbabwean people. Our blood is at your door."
Our friends in Belfast also have an event tomorrow. The Bristol Vigil will
hold an anti-election demo tomorrow to express their disgust.
For photos of Wednesday night's protest, check:
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
26 June 2008
Posted to the web 27 June 2008
Since March, Zimbabwe has had no Parliament, no local government councils,
no legitimate executive, and ZANU PF has ruled by decree in response to the
orders of the JOC - acronym for the military junta which now controls the
nation, along with Mr. Mugabe and Reserve Bank Governor Mr. Gono, who is
needed to print money. SADC governments allowed the charade to continue,
talked to and dealt with the illegitimate government as if nothing was
wrong. If SADC fails in its self-assigned disaster management, if the AU is
unable or unwilling to step into the breach - hunger, terror, displacement,
and death stare Zimbabweans in the face.
A collective and audible sigh of relief spread through Zimbabwe on Sunday
evening, June 22, as word got around that Morgan Tsvangirai had pulled out
of the presidential run-off election. There were, to be sure, also some
voices of dismay and anger that we would now be deprived of the opportunity
of speaking with our ballots and finishing the task of liberation. Both
responses were based on false assumptions - first that the violence could
end if there were no contested election and second that voting in a re-run
would mean a ZANU PF exit.
Tsvangirai's reasons for withdrawing were clearly stated and unassailable -
under the current circumstances of torture, burning of homes, rape,
systematic destruction of MDC structures, killings and arrests, there could
be no valid election. What made it possible for him to withdraw at all was
the shift in position by the majority of SADC governments.
The MDC and most Zimbabweans believe that Tsvangirai won the first round. He
won the contest in spite of it being seriously skewed against him at every
stage of the process -from the bias of the Zimbabwe Election Commission, to
voter registration, to delimitation of constituencies, to placement of
polling stations, to counting and announcement of results. The charade of a
run-off has been played out in an increasingly surreal atmosphere, not
according to the law, not for democracy or the Zimbabwean people, but for
the benefit of reluctant regional leaders who insisted that the MDC accept
the deceitful maneuverings of a regime which had lost the support of the
people but nevertheless maintained control of the levers of power.
Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF had ceased to enjoy legitimacy to rule Zimbabwe by
April 1. The first election was held on March 29, and by the end of March 30
at the latest, all results should have been announced. Instead, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, evidently directed by ZANU PF, prevaricated and
delayed and began a lengthy tragi-farce, pretending that they were
re-counting, validating, and engaged in every other process they could
devise to avoid admitting that they had been defeated at the polls, both in
parliamentary and in presidential voting. They ignored all relevant
provisions of the Electoral Act, and even proceeded to re-write the Act by
statutory instrument. This gave them time to delay any run-off of the
presidential vote until they could put in place their evil plan to terrorise
the population into submission. Mugabe brazenly re-called the cabinet which
was dissolved before the election; and without even a façade of legality,
they resumed their positions, and continued to receive their salaries and
perks of office in spite of the fact that many had themselves been defeated
by the electorate.
Since March, Zimbabwe has had no Parliament, no local government councils,
no legitimate executive, and ZANU PF has ruled by decree in response to the
orders of the JOC - acronym for the military junta which now controls the
nation, along with Mr. Mugabe and Reserve Bank Governor Mr. Gono, who is
needed to print money. SADC governments allowed the charade to continue,
talked to and dealt with the illegitimate government as if nothing was
wrong. Although it is now painfully clear why the delay was orchestrated, it
is not so clear why regional presidents supported it.
Through the past two months, the war, which Mugabe now threatens if he is
defeated at the polls, has already been raging. The tactics used to
terrorise opposition supporters are those, which were used during the
liberation war. Militia bases recreate the guerilla bases of the 1970's,
while all-night meetings called "pungwes" claim to be re-educating the
population. Those pungwes were and are meetings where people are forced to
attend, sing songs and shout slogans while they watch anyone not openly
supporting ZANU PF being beaten, tortured, and killed.
In April and May, ZANU PF militia and war vets were mobilized in the rural
constituencies to eliminate known MDC supporters. Houses were burned, many
people tortured and killed for the political allegiances not just of
themselves, but also of their children, grandchildren, parents and
neighbours. In June the terror spread to urban areas, especially Harare, and
also to smaller cities, with ZANU PF mobs targeting not only opposition
party officials but also anyone not displaying their regalia. The police
force too has been targeted. It is not to intervene in "political"
situations. Hence none of the perpetrators of this violence have been
arrested or charged, while the victims have frequently been locked up and
accused of inciting violence.
An election in such circumstances would be preposterous, a mockery of a
process in which the will of the people is to be determined. The people's
voices are to be silenced and replaced by refrains echoing the slogans of
ZANU PF. They are being informed that they voted "wrongly" and force will be
used to ensure that the next vote is correct. But still, until two weeks ago
the SADC governments sang a chorus of hope that the election would be free
and fair, trying to pretend that something resembling an election would
provide a "solution" to the Zimbabwean problem.
It was only after Thabo Mbeki sent his military mission to see what was
happening, and early bird SADC election observers began witnessing the
devastation and horror, that we began to hear noises from Southern African
governments calling on Mugabe to restrain himself. One by one they have
spoken out about the violence, calling on Mugabe to stop it, and finally in
the past ten days sending a clearer message that if it did not stop they
would not recognize the election result. Only then did Tsvangirai take the
step of withdrawing from what most Zimbabweans had seen as an unnecessary
punishment inflicted on them by regional governments. He could only afford
to pull out when it was clear that those who had insisted that the charade
be played out had understood the true nature of the ZANU PF regime, and its
determination not to be removed from office by any electoral process.
Why has Zimbabwe been forced through this hell? Why couldn't SADC do what
should have been done in April - insist that ZANU PF adhere to the electoral
law, produce results at the appropriate time, and accept their defeat? Were
they too blind to see the truth? Or was it too painful and difficult for
them to speak the truth, too complicated to devise a strategy for Mugabe's
removal? Only they can tell us, but the consequences of their blindness,
hypocrisy or cowardice are clear for all to see. They gave ZANU PF three
months' leeway to bring Zimbabwe to its terrible fate of thousands more
lives destroyed, trillions more worthless banknotes undermining an already
dying economy, institutions in ruins, and the fallout strewn through the
But those three months have only made the problem more intractable - how to
remove Mugabe. SADC governments have expressed the view that the violence
must stop and that a Mugabe government after June 27 will not be legitimate.
But they still have the task of devising both a solution and the means to
achieve it - the same task they faced in April.
What next? In spite of Tsvangirai's withdrawal, ZANU PF appears intent on
proceeding with elections, forcing as many people as possible to vote, and
declaring Mugabe the winner. What will the response be? What we have gained
so far from the international community, both regional and global, is an
agreement that the outcome of Friday's re-vote will not produce a legitimate
government. But beyond that we have nothing.
On Wednesday the Defence and Politics organ of SADC urged Mugabe to postpone
the election until a conducive environment can be established. They did not
state what should occur between now and the undecided date of such election.
They did not indicate any action they might take to deal with Zimbabwe after
Friday. On Saturday morning, Sunday and Monday, he will still be in State
House, with every probability that his militia will still be terrorizing the
population. And then what?
Tsvangirai has called for a transitional authority run by the African Union,
and supported by peace-keepers. The most SADC seems to be able to do is to
call for further negotiations between ZANU PF and the MDC - talks which have
been on-going for over a year and have achieved very little. If Mugabe's
government is illegitimate after Friday, will he still be called "President"
by his counterparts, and treated as such? Who will rule Zimbabwe while the
"talks" are continuing? The illegitimate non-president and his
non-ministers? Will SADC, the AU and the international community in general
isolate their former comrade? Will they quickly find a mechanism, a means to
remove his illegitimate government and install a transitional authority that
can return the country to legitimacy? Can they rise to the occasion and act
strongly and urgently enough to avert further catastrophe? The AU heads of
state are meeting this weekend. Can they take over where SADC has so far
failed? This is the challenge, this is what Zimbabweans wait for, but with
more skepticism than hope. By withdrawing, Tsvangirai has effectively handed
our fate to others to decide - others who have failed to act up to now.
If SADC fails in its self-assigned disaster management, if the AU is unable
or unwilling to step into the breach - hunger, terror, displacement, and
death stare Zimbabweans in the face. The economy has long since failed to
sustain us; the rule of law was long ago abandoned; control by the military
is presently established, but the prospect of total collapse into anarchy,
warlord and mob rule looms ever closer. Only four short days later, even the
echo of Sunday's sigh of relief has faded, and Zimbabweans face the future
with anxiety and fear.
Mary Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean human rights activist.