By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 8:16PM BST 01/06/2008
The Mugabe regime tightened its grip on the forthcoming presidential
election when police arrested prominent opposition politicians and banned
Movement for Democratic Change rallies.
Arthur Mutambara, 40, the leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, was
arrested after armed riot police swarmed over his Harare home.
"They are charging him with publishing statements prejudicial to the state
and for contempt of court," said Harrison Nkomo, his lawyer.
In a newspaper article earlier this year, Mr Mutambara criticised President
Robert Mugabe for his handling of elections in March.
He also accused the government of intimidation and questioned its right to
stay in office.
The editor of the newspaper was arrested on May 8 for publishing the article
and has been freed on bail to await trial on an unspecified date.
Eric Matinenga, 54, the chancellor of Zimbabwe's Anglican Church, an
opposition member of parliament and a prominent barrister, was arrested on
Saturday about 150 miles south of Harare and is, according to his wife,
Miriam, facing charges of "inciting violence."
Police also banned Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC president, from holding
rallies at Victoria Falls, a tourist resort, and Hwange, a mining town in
north west Zimbabwe.
Over the weekend Zimbabwe's state-owned television said two ruling ZANU-PF
party members had been shot dead by suspected opposition supporters but the
MDC denied any involvement.
Mr Tsvangirai beat Mr Mugabe in the presidential elections in March but did
not win a clear majority and faces a second round on June 27.
To read the article in question, written by Arthur Mutambara, go to
By Trymore Magomana | Staff Reporter
Sunday, June 1, 2008 14:21
Zimbabwe, Harare–Robert Mugabe, with barely four weeks before the run-off
election on June 27, and recognizing that despite the violence he has
unleashed on the rural folk that propelled the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) to victory on March 29, has intensified his efforts to render
the MDC impotent.
Today, Mugabe, through Emmerson Mnangagwa, sent officers from the Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP) to arrest Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the former
breakaway MDC faction.
Mutambara was arrested, persuant of the regulations of Access to Information
and Privacy Protection Act (AIPPA), for publishing an article critical of
the person of Mugabe and his ZANU-PF government.
A number of people have been arraigned before the courts for publishing
"falsehoods" in accordance with AIPPA. The repressive AIPPA, penned by one
Prof. Jonathan Moyo before he fell out with his pay master Robert Mugabe,
has been used since its enactment to shut down four newspapers, including
the Daily News and the Tribune.
A day before Mutambara was picked up, Eric Matinenga, an opposition
legislator and lawyer to the main MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested
on Saturday in the eastern district of Buhera and was being charged with
inciting public violence, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.
In his April 19 scathing tell-all opinion piece titled "A shameful betrayal
of independence" that he wrote to commemorate Independence Day on April 18
and published in the privately owned weekly The Standard, Mutambara came out
swinging, criticizing Mugabe for his handling of elections in March.
"This particular 28th commemoration is like none of the previous ones. We
are in uniquely invidious circumstances. Our economy has virtually collapsed
and industries have ground to a halt. Our society is calibrated by fear,
terror and outright brutality. Our national institutions of governance have
been rendered dysfunctional and impotent. We have had harmonized general
elections, and 20 days later the results of the Presidential polls are still
not yet released," Mutambara wrote. In the same article, Mutambara also
questioned the Mugabe government of its right to stay in office.
"They've arrested Mutambara at his house this morning," said his lawyer
Harrison Nkomo. "They are charging him with publishing statements
prejudicial to the state and for contempt of court."
Mugabe & ZANU-PF, smarting from their loss of the majority in parliament,
had counted on the MDC factions remaining divided.
So much so that the Herald published daily celebratory opinion pieces
pointing out the glaring divisions between and within the opposition
It appears writing the article was not that bad in the eyes ZANU-PF, but
Mutambara's strategic move nine days later when he announced, flanked by
Morgan Tsvangirai, that the two MDC factions, now that they controlled
parliament, will be working in harmony to push through legislation irked the
Judging by what Mutambara had said in "A shameful betrayal of independence,"
the agenda the united MDC would push through scared the ZANU-PF leadership.
"They [MDC MPs] should elect the Speaker, and outline a comprehensive agenda
for the incoming Parliament. Items that should be debated and adopted must
include, but not limited to: Impeachment of the caretaker President, Robert
Mugabe; Removal of AIPPA and POSA; Establishment of processes for achieving
a people-driven democratic constitution; Immediate prosecution of public
servants, including military and police officers who are currently abusing
their authority; Establishment of processes to rationalize the land reform
programme; Setting up of a Truth and Justice Commission for Gukurahundi and
Murambatsvina; Immediate removal from office, and criminal prosecution of,
the RBZ Governor; and Dismantling and reconstitution of ZEC," Mutambara had
said in the article on April 19.
Suddenly this is becoming a reality, following the MDC MPs' caucus meeting
at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) on Friday last week in
which MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai intimated that the opposition was now
ready to push through with what Mutambara had urged the opposition to do in
his opinion article.
In the face of such a change of the political landscape in Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF
took the instant decision to arrest Mutambara two days after the MDC MPs
meeting, somewhat trying to throw spanners into the MDC's parliamentary
ZANU-PF is working night and day to protect and insulate itself from the
changing dynamic in the country and one way it can do that is by arresting
all opposition MPs and leaders on trumped up charges.
MP elect Eric Matinenga, who beat ZANU-PF's Tapiwa Zengeya for the Buhera
West seat on March 29 and who had also attended the MDC MPs meeting at the
HICC on Friday, is the fifth MDC legislator to be arrested ahead of the
"The whole campaign is to render the MDC comatose but it is not going to
work. This run-off is between the people and a dictatorship represented by
Mugabe," Nelson Chamisa said, adding that Matinenga was due to appear in
court on Monday.--Harare Tribune
HARARE, June 1 (AFP)
Zimbabwean police prevented the opposition from staging two rallies in the
resort towns of Hwange and Victoria Falls that were due to be addressed by
its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the party said Sunday.
The rallies were supposed to have been held on Saturday, but police blocked
opposition supporters from entering into the two stadiums were the rallies
were due to be held.
"Our two rallies that were supposed to be held yesterday in Hwange and
Victoria Falls were blocked by the police," Nelson Chamisa, chief spokesman
for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told AFP.
"The police are literally trying to be difficult, but acting on the
instructions of ZANU-PF," he added in reference to Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe's ruling party.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai are due to square up in a run-off presidential
election at the end of the month.
Tsvangirai won a first round on March 29 but fell just short of an overall
majority needed to topple Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony
since independence in 1980.
"They are trying to disenable us to reach out to the people," said Chamisa.
"This is a deliberate attempt meant to ensure that there is a blackout on
our programmes and so that the president (Tsvangirai) will not be visible on
the ground to suit their propaganda and agenda."
Under the terms of an agreement mediated by South African President Thabo
Mbeki in the run-up to the March 29 polls, the opposition was meant to be
free to hold rallies but was meant to notify the police beforehand.
However the police have been accused of ignoring the agreement and issued an
edict in April banning any political rallies in the capital Harare.
There was no immediate reaction from the police.
By James Shumba | Staff Reporter
Saturday, May 31, 2008 20:46 | email@example.com
Dear Tambo Mbeki
Zimbabwe has gone to the dogs and has been plunged into horrendous violence
on Mbeki’s watch.
Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has
accused President Thabo Mbeki of “complicity” and secretly conniving to
perpetuate Robert Mugabe’s rule.
In an extraordinary attack on the South African President, whom regional
leaders last year appointed mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis, Tsvangirai
warned that “there will be no country left” if Mbeki was allowed to continue
in the role.
The Sunday Times is in possession of the explosive letter dated May 13 that
was delivered via official channels.
In it, Tsvangirai tells Mbeki: “The MDC sees your role as mediator as
neither appropriate nor effective.”
He accuses Mbeki of:
a.. Lacking neutrality;
b.. Dividing the MDC;
c.. Blocking United Nations discussions on Zimbabwe;
d.. Helping Mugabe’s government acquire weapons;
e.. Suppressing the Khampepe-Moseneke Report on the 2002 Zimbabwe
elections, which means Mbeki has no “moral claim to mediate a state of
affairs at which he has, in secret, connived”; and
*Breaching the principles of mediation by showing a lack of respect for the
News of the letter comes as Zimbabwe gears up for the June 27 presidential
runoff election between Tsvangirai and Mugabe, and as the Zanu-PF militia
and security forces intensify their crackdown on opposition supporters.
“Not only have you been unable to denounce the well-documented post-election
attacks on our people, but your government even played a role in Zimbabwean
government procurement of weapons of repression (tear gas and batons, for
example) and agreed to allow passage of arms of war purchased by the same
government through South African territory during the troubled post-election
period,” says Tsvangirai.
He points out that when Mbeki started mediating in Zimbabwe, “the country
still had a functioning economy”.
a.. MDC won't campaign
b.. MDC parliament first sitting
c.. Mugabe is possessed -- Tsvangirai
d.. We will never leave State House -- Grace Mugabe
e.. Don't go to Zimbabwe, US tells its residents
f.. A platoon on the rampage
g.. I refuse to go home
h.. We are innocent, War-Vets claim
i.. Mengistu, safe for now
“Millions of citizens had not fled to other countries to escape political
and economic crisis and thousands had not died by impoverishment and
He says that since the March 29 elections, “Zimbabwe has plunged into
horrendous violence while you have been mediating. With respect, if we
continue like this, there will be no country left.”
Tsvangirai’s letter came as another letter — allegedly written by Mbeki to
US President George Bush — surfaced in which Mbeki is said to tell Bush to
“butt out” of Zimbabwe.
Presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga yesterday told the Sunday Times
that “neither Tsvangirai nor the MDC leadership had written a letter of
(that) kind to Mbeki.
“We are concerned that there are people who seem to be ready to peddle lies
about the mediation process and a range of other issues,” he said.
However, senior MDC leaders said they were in possession of a receipt of
In yet another indication that Mugabe will still not accept defeat, the
government mouthpiece The Herald quoted army chief of staff Major-General
Martin Chedondo urging soldiers to vote for Mugabe.
“Soldiers are not apolitical. Only mercenaries are apolitical. We have
signed and agreed to fight and protect the ruling party’s principles of
defending the revolution ... If you have other thoughts, then you should
remove that uniform.”
Mugabe’s wife, Grace, was also reported as telling Zanu-PF followers that
the MDC would not be allowed to take power.
“Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai will never set foot
inside State House,” she said.
Tsvangirai’s letter also reveals how he handed Mbeki copies of secret
documents outlining a decision by the Zimbabwean government to deploy
soldiers, war veterans and militia in a violent campaign.
“You expressed deep concern and suggested you would convene a meeting
between myself and Mr Mugabe before the SADC summit (in April). I travelled
to South Africa and waited for a full day for this meeting ... No one from
your office ever contacted me.”
He says the MDC remains “fully committed to SADC’s critical role in Zimbabwe
and has no problem with South Africa’s participation in mediation efforts”.
Rather, “it is your own involvement as exclusive mediator to which we take
He adds: “When the MDC attempted to appeal to the UN Security Council to
investigate and help stop the carnage, it was you, the so called neutral
mediator, who blocked a possible road to a resolution of the crisis.”
The MDC says Mbeki’s infamous “no-crisis” appearance on television with
Mugabe was the last straw.
“Following this comment and others you made to SADC heads of state, it
became clear to the MDC executive that it must urgently review (our)
relationship with you and your role in the mediation.”
Mbeki is further accused of trying to split the MDC by talking to other
party leaders behind Tsvangirai’s back.
“As a leader, whilst you may not have respect for me as a person, I can only
ask you to respect the position that I hold, which position and
responsibility has been endorsed by the majority of Zimbabweans, who voted
for me,” Tsvangirai says.--Harare Tribune
Sun 1 Jun 2008, 18:04 GMT
(Updates with quote, background)
HARARE, June 1 (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe has left Zimbabwe to
attend a food summit in Rome in his first visit to the West since March 29
parliamentary elections which his ruling party lost to the opposition, state
television said on Sunday.
Mugabe travelled accompanied by his wife and several senior government
officials, it said without giving more details.
"President Robert Mugabe has left the country for Rome to attend the Food
and Agricultural Organisation summit which starts on Tuesday," it said.
Western powers accuse Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in
1980, of wrecking the economy of his once-prosperous country and of using
violence against his opponents. He faces a June 27 presidentil run-off
against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mugabe was in Italy in 2005, when he attended Pope John Paul II's funeral.
Mugabe was last in Europe in December for a Commonwealth meeting in
Portugal, which British Prime Minister Gordon Brown boycotted to protest the
Zimbabwean leader's participation.
The EU has a travel ban on Mugabe because of his human rights record, but
Portugal lifted the ban for the December summit. Taking place as it does
under a United Nations umbrella, the Rome summit would be open to Mugabe.
World leaders will meet in Rome June 3-5 summit to discuss global problems
caused by rising food prices.
Monday June 2, 03:26 AM
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The camps where South Africa's government plans to
house migrants displaced by xenophobic attacks do not meet humanitarian
standards, international aid agency Oxfam said on Sunday.
Some 62 migrants have been killed and tens of thousands forced from their
homes around the country. The violence, which has subsided, targeted mostly
Zimbabweans and Mozambicans.
The government plans to move thousands of displaced people to various camps
around the Gauteng province, where the violence first broke out.
"Oxfam is concerned that minimum standards of humanitarian assistance and
protection have not been met. Adequate water, sanitation, and security
facilities should have been in place ahead of relocations," the agency said
in a statement.
Oxfam said one of the camps did not have sufficient toilets and a water tank
did not have taps, posing a health risk.
Radio 702 reported that residents at Midrand, where the government was
setting up a shelter for displaced residents hurled insults at a senior
official who came to address them.
The residents were concerned about crime and the value of their homes if the
temporary shelter is set up, Radio 702 said.
Analysts say competition for housing and jobs combined with soaring food and
fuel prices raised tensions that led to the riots. Unemployment in South
Africa hovers around 24 percent.
(Reporting by Phumza Macanda; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)
June 01 2008 at 01:23PM
By Peta Thornycroft
The sun was hot in the treeless cemetery at Warren Hills last Sunday
It is the only graveyard around Harare with any space as the
population is dying so fast. Most of the recently buried died before they
reached 35 years.
As thousands stood between new graves and heard the lament of a
traditional Shona funeral and Christian rituals, a bakkie slowly drove up.
It carried sections of instant concrete walling for a crypt. Relatives
threw in a few shovels of earth as the crypt would be constructed that night
after they had left.
This would secure it from thieves. Zimbabweans are reduced to
scavengers, and digging up graves, turfing out corpses and removing fresh
coffins for resale is a way of staying alive.
This coffin carries the remains of Tonderai Ndira, a man who will
probably become the most prominent hero from this period of Zimbabwe's
struggle for democracy.
The North Korean-designed official national Heroes' Acre is less than
a kilometre from where Ndira was buried last Sunday.
The heroes there belong in two groups, all marked by grand granite and
bronze tombstones - those who fought militarily or politically to end white
rule, and those who helped keep President Robert Mugabe in power.
When this depraved phase of the struggle - which has turned people
into coffin stealers - passes, the working class from urban ghettos will
create a new shrine for Ndira and his comrades, two of whom were
assassinated and buried in the same cemetery a week earlier. Ndira, 33, was
head of the MDC's provincial security department. His decomposing, naked
body was found in the bush near Harare on May 21.
He had been kidnapped a week earlier in Harare by a group of nine or
10 men in plainclothes, who beat him up in front of his family and then
drove him away in a bakkie.
Last week men, claiming to be from the department of local government
were looking for Ndira's unmarked grave. So lawyers drafted a letter on
Friday advising the authorities that the graves are sacrosanct.
The officials have already found the other two graves.
So far, they are not sure which grave holds the mortal remains of
Across town, while Ndira was being buried, Mugabe launched his
campaign from Zanu-PF's headquarters, which was packed with Zanu-PF
political heavyweights who have another chance to reverse their party's
fortunes in the presidential run-off election on June 27.
Mugabe has made it clear he is going nowhere. Whether he wins or
loses, he and Zanu-PF are going to remain in power. His wife Grace made that
point as well when, on Thursday, the couple distributed money and goods to
people whose huts, they allege, were burned down by MDC supporters.
She said that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai will never "move into State
And that is the reality which Zimbabwe faces, as does SA Local
Government Minister Sidney Mufamadi, on whose shoulders has now fallen the
chore of trying to find an honourable end to the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) mediation which collapsed last December.
Mufamadi, chief representative for Mbeki, has been to Harare trying to
persuade Mugabe that a government of national unity (GNU), or a transitional
authority would be better than the June 27 election.
This is an election Zimbabwe cannot afford, and is the reason Ndira
and so many others have been killed.
Mugabe has told Mufamadi that he will consider a GNU but only after
the run-off, only after he has won.
On the other hand, Tsvangirai will be unable to persuade his MPs and
councillors, who have paid a terrible price for their loyalty to the MDC,
that Mugabe should be part of any future administration. They are prepared
to consider some kind of transitional authority shared with Zanu-PF, but
Mugabe cannot be part of it. He would have to retire to his rural home,
Zvimba, about 80km north of Harare.
So Zimbabwe seems destined to endure this election and it is going to
get even nastier.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which provided
independent observers to all polls, learned on Thursday that it is now
required to re-accredit all its 9 400 observers, many of whom have been
beaten up since the last election.
ZESN says this is an impossibility in a situation of regular attacks
on its members.
Ndira's thousands of mourners chanted "hondo, hondo" (war, war) as
they toyi-toyied into the cemetery last week.
The likelihood of a dirty civil war is now closer than ever, even
though only one side has guns.
This article was originally published on page 15 of Cape Argus on June
June 01 2008 at 12:13PM
If Tendai Biti has many faces, it is because he is versatile as well
as changeable. He says his is "a story of struggle". As the
secretary-general of Zimbabwe's oppostion Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), he has a date with destiny.
Last week he dazzled an audience at a Wits Public Conversations forum
with his chilling run-down of a country facing a run-off for the election in
which the MDC beat Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party.
The bizarre upshot of Zimbabwe's rocketing inflation is that a packet
of sausages costs ZIM$1,8-billion; a loaf of bread costs ZIM$300-million and
Mazoe (a powdered orange drink) costs ZIM$2,5-billion for a 5kg bag. He
recalled that when he was at boarding school it cost 20 cents for three
months' supply of Mazoe.
It is a long time since he was a boy in Form 1 who knew he would not
lead "an ordinary life" as an adult. But he is no rich man's son. He was
born on August 6 1966, in the working class suburb of Dzivarasekwa in
Harare. He was lucky enough to come into the world laden with gifts - of
intellect and of oratory. He is also a champion chess player, a singer, a
great reader and, according to his peers, an excellent strategist.
'I am frustrated, I want to go home'
When I interview him at a Sandton hotel, Biti is not the same man I
met at the Wits forum. To begin with, he is wearing a cap that renders him
barely recognisable, and his charisma is on hold. Either way, this lawyer
makes a compelling argument for the world to heed the call to stop "the
Evidence of his own nervous condition lies in a tic in one of his
hands. "I am frustrated, I want to go home," he says. "But the [MDC]
leadership insists that I stay here."
Augustine Chihuri, Zimbabwe's Police Commissioner, has threatened Biti
with unspecified action when he returns to Zimbabwe. Chihuri accused him of
illegally declaring the results of the March 29 elections and "urging and
abetting political violence".
In a menacing letter to Biti, which was published in The Herald
newspaper, Zanu-PF's mouthpiece, Chihuri wrote: "What is very conspicuous in
the Zimbabwean political arena today is your prominent role in urging and
abetting political violence through unbridled rhetoric of incitement.
"You know for sure, your violation of the country's laws by declaring
presidential results which was, in deed, in contravention of Section 110 of
the Electoral Act, Chapter 2:13 and is still to be attended to by the
police." Chihuri has warned that "the swift arm of the law will always catch
up with the evil doer".
Biti says Zimbabwean prisons are desperately overcrowded. He has been
detained "every year since 2000". His gruelling report, on behalf of the
Zimbabwean Human Rights Lawyers, of the March 11 beatings and torture at
Machipisa Prison, where 40 leaders of opposition parties and civil society
activists were arrested en route to the Save Zimbabwe Campaign prayer
meeting at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare, is deeply affecting.
"When we were being beaten on 11 March they [the policemen] were
enjoying it and competing to beat Morgan [Tsvangirai, the MDC leader]," he
said at Wits.
He mentioned that Grace Kwinjeh, a member of the MDC's national
executive committee, took the brunt of the beatings in that room.
Kwinjeh, who lost part of an ear during a beating with a metal rod,
says Biti's bravery is not in question. "Just being the secretary-general of
the MDC over the past five years requires bravery, and it takes great
leadership courage to deliver the kind of result we did in the election - as
well as a great deal of work and administration."
Biti says Zanu-PF's military intelligence is targeting key players in
the MDC structures - such as Tonderai Ndira, a young MDC leader who was
Since the March 29 election, more than 50 people have been killed.
Harvest House, the MDC's headquarters in Harare, is flooded with refugees,
including women and babies, who are fleeing Mugabe's war. Biti is Gandhian
in his approach: the MDC's principled non-violence is symbolised by the open
hand of the logo, as opposed to the closed fist of revolution.
"There will be retribution. And when it comes, the MDC, a democratic
movement, will become irrelevant. The youths are radical. Please do
something before there is a catastrophe", is his appeal to the international
"There cannot be a run-off because we won this election. And therefore
by agreeing to participate in the run-off we are supporting the kleptocracy.
But there has to be a political solution. We have to create conditions for
the rehabilitation of our country.
"But the fact the MDC has defeated the tyrant; the perpetrator of
genocide, is remarkable. Especially since Mugabe has instilled the idea in
the psyche of the nation that we [the MDC] are not people; we are
"sellouts", we are like the cockroaches, the name the Hutus gave to the
Tutsis [in Rwanda]."
Last week, Biti warned, presciently, that the "xenophobic violence" in
South Africa would destabilise the borders of neighbouring countries as it
has done in South Africa.
"You mark my words. We know the cause of xenophobia, it is President
[Robert] Mugabe. People are being killed in Zimbabwe."
Critics of the MDC, who believe the movement is indeed in the pockets
of "the West", are watching Biti. It is widely believed that if Tsvangirai
does not become Zimbabwe's president, Biti will. Would he like this?
"Absolutely not," he says.
"I love the law. I may stay for three years in the party, sorting out
the mess." At Wits, he said: "When we craft a solution there will have to be
a transitional national healing. There has to be transitional justice. You
cannot have a Kenyan solution which subordinates the victor.
"You have to be careful. Mugabe must be promoted upstairs. Give him
guarantees of personal safety and tell him, if you want to play golf with
Kenneth Kaunda, by all means do so. There can be no vindictiveness. The
people of Zimbabwe cannot have an elite pact.
"The core of our struggle has been the issue of constitution: we
demand a people-driven constitution - by the people for the people. You have
to give the same guarantees for everyone. You cannot tell people to forgive.
We need to write a constitution based on mistrust.
"We are going to put a limit on the terms of office. Zimbabwe is at a
crossroads. The issue of land is critical, the issue of compensation must be
dealt with. We have to look at the farms that have been nationalised then
deal with the demand side of land reform. Are you going to give back the
white farmers their land? We will have to rationalise this on the principle
of need and ability: do you need it? Can you farm it? We cannot have
multiple ownership. There will be voluntary surrender, the return of the
Biti admits that the MDC is "not a perfect movement", that it has had
to root out corruption and that the split between Tsvangirai supporters and
supporters of Arthur Mutambara was "tragic".
Yes, there has been violence, but the split was not caused by this.
Zanu-PF's ugliness has contaminated everything in Zimbabwe.
Biti says it is well known that Tsvangirai "listens too much" to what
How well does Biti listen?
Kwinjeh says when he disagrees with what you are saying, he does not
listen. "Tendai has to improve on gender equality. We, the women, think he
can do more. Let's deal with patriarchy, I think." She also says he is a
brilliant lawyer and a principled leader who has stood by Tsvangirai when
many have not done so.
Rehad Desai, a film-maker who knew Biti when he was a student leader
in the 1980s, says Biti's hardcore Marxist-Leninist line was modified and
adapted to the Zimbabwean situation when they met.
His leadership qualities were already on show. He was the leader of
the study group, the International Socialists of Zimbabwe.
"When the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions was flexing its muscles,
we began to form links and joined the MDC."
Patrick Bond, director of the Centre for Civil Society at the
University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, who was completing a PhD on Zimbabwe
in the late 1980s, says: "You could see that Tendai could one day become the
Biti's old leftie comrades from the heady 1980s worry that the United
States and United Kingdom will turn Zimbabwe into a neoliberal enclave. He
insists that he has received not a bean from either country.
Many remember him as a firebrand: "I threw stones at Mugabe," Biti
himself recalls. Bond says that "Zanu-PF was brilliantly outfoxed during
Thabo Mbeki's mediation in the run-up to the election. Some activists - like
National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku - called the talks
a 'sell-out', and yet the trick of immediately transmitting cellphone photos
of official results from polling stations was the neatest bit of political
jujitsu I've ever seen, and may make the crucial difference in Zimbabwe's
Biti is willing to defend himself against accusations that he himself
has sold out. How could the country's promising young human rights lawyer be
bought by a top-drawer commercial law firm, ask those who decry his
partnership in Honey & Blackenberg.
He shrugs off the idea that "the real turning point came in 1997" when
he defended the Standard Bank in a labour case. "The Standard bank is a
client of my law firm and as such I was obliged to defend it. I am the
lawyer who represents more trade unions than any other lawyer in Zimbabwe.
"Very few people are using the courts and the law as I have done in
favour of workers. I specialise in constitutional law and labour law, but I
end up doing everything that has to be done. I am a lawyer's lawyer, a kind
of advocate. Law is my passion," he says. "I have been fortunate that
everything I have been doing as a lawyer, [including human rights cases]
highlights Zimbabwean history."
Miles Larmer, an academic at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK,
remembers Biti's determination at university to make a difference and his
impatience with those far lefties "who stayed up talking all night,
Biti's appointment to the presidency would be welcomed by Themba
Nolotshungu, of the conservative Free Market Foundation, who says: "I would
expect them [the MDC] to be more centrist and more inclined towards free
market and to understand to what extent the state would be involved in terms
of economic policy. They are pragmatic, rather than ideologically driven."
But those on the other side of the fence accuse Biti of selling his
socialism down the river. He responds emphatically: "I am still a socialist.
I have not changed. Socialism is not an ideology of poverty, but of maximum
production and equitable distribution."
Desai says: "Tendai is still with Morgan because he still believes in
socialism and the working class and the peasantry of Zimbabwe as a social
force as it was before."
Biti refers me to the MDC manifesto, in which he had a hand, and which
he says is no neoliberal document. He refers me in particular to the MDC's
economic doctrine "… which says let us cross our own destiny so that the
imperialists do not have a say in our life; our economy is so vulnerable.
Let us look to outsiders on our own terms. We will pay back debt owed by
Zimbabwe. The manifesto is very clear that we carry out an audit and we will
repute all the odious debt".
He is referring to the debt carried over from Zanu-PF, and to the
international moral principle that has established that this need not be
paid by a new democracy.
Despite Chihuri's menacing, Biti will continue to speak to an
international audience, as well as to an African audience, about assisting
He says: "We will allow dual citizenship. We have shown we can defeat
a dictator and one of the biggest challenges of these struggles is that it
is easy to mirror that which one is trying to remove."
Desai describes Biti as a loner. He says Biti's dedication to the
struggle has cost him his relationship with the mother of his child.
He is moody, saddened, yet he allows himself to be humoured as he
gears up for his date with fate. He says: "I am ready to face what is
waiting for me."
This article was originally published on page 13 of Sunday Independent
on June 01, 2008
WOZASolidarity can now confirm that the 14 WOZA (Women
of Zimbabwe Arise) arrested in Harare on Wednesday
were brought to court Friday charged with activity
likely to cause public disorder with founder member
Jenni Williams also being charged with causing
disaffection among the police and publishing false
information. They were granted bail by the
magistrate, but the state appealed and they have been
remanded in custody until June 6th. We understand
they are being held at Harare Remand Prison.
This is a crucial time for Zimbabwe - The regime is
relying on fear to maintain control but fear is a
weapon WOZA is determined to neutralize. They were
the first to take to the streets after the March 29th
election when they staged a protest in Bulawayo on 9th
April calling on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to
release the result of the presidential election
forthwith. On May 5th 2008 several hundred WOZA
members staged a Mothers day protest against
politically motivated violence following the March
elections (see WOZA statement below). 11 WOZA and MOZA
(Men of Zimbabwe Arise) members were arrested and 59
were injured, either by police baton sticks or by the
police vehicle ZRP 3039 M, which drove into the crowd.
On the 19th May a follow up demonstration in Harare
was cancelled at the last moment for security reasons.
We understand a further attempt to demonstrate in
Harare was underway when the 14 were arrested on
WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) first took to the
streets on Valentines Day 2003 proclaiming that
'The power of love can conquer the love of power'.
Since then WOZA has conducted over 70 protests,
suffered over 2,500 arrests and hundreds have been
brutally beaten for exercising their constitutional
rights and fundamental freedoms.
WOZA Statement from fliers distributed 5th May:-
'We, the mothers of the nation, have examined our
existence and that of our children and decided that
enough is enough. We are deeply concerned about the
current political impasse. We also call on SADC, the
African Union and United Nations to show their
solidarity for the people and respect that Zimbabweans
have already chosen a new president and that their
vote should count. The current government are trying
to subvert the laws of the land and allowing Mugabe to
stay in power when he lost the election. Change will
come. The people's voices will be heard and respected.
We just need to keep standing strong.'
For more information please ring +447811452030 or
Mail and Guardian
01 June 2008 07:21
Hundreds of women converged on a stadium on the outskirts of
Harare on Saturday to pray for peace ahead of the country's tense
presidential run-off amid mounting political violence.
"As we pray today there are some fellow Zimbabweans who are
hiding in mountains afraid to come down, fearing that they may be surrounded
and attacked," Tawona Mtshiya, vice-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship of
Zimbabwe, told a crowd drawn from various denominations.
"In our situation in Zimbabwe today, a solution can only come if
we pray to God."
The prayer service was organised by a group called the Zimbabwe
Women's National Prayer Task Force, which is seen as politically neutral.
Zimbabweans go to the polls on June 27 for a second-round
presidential election between President Robert Mugabe, who has led the
country since independence in 1980, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai fell just short of an outright majority in a first
round of voting on March 29 while his party wrested control of Parliament
from Mugabe's Zanu-PF in a simultaneous legislative poll.
The period since the original polling day has been marked by a
steady rise in political violence, which Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) says has seen more than 50 of its supporters killed
by pro-Mugabe militias.
Mugabe blames the opposition for the violence, which he has
denounced as "barbaric".
Vicky Mpofu, coordinator of the prayer task force, called on
women to hold regular prayer and fasting in their respective churches for an
end to the violence.
"Women have a chance to speak out against violence because
naturally we are peacemakers and also among us women are secretaries for
Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni," Mpofu said.
"Let us use every opportunity to talk and pray about peace in
our beautiful nation. We don't want any more bloodshed, even the blood of
animals. We pray that the spirit of violence is destroyed."
Tsvangirai launched a scathing attack on Mugabe's rule on
Friday, saying a nation rich in natural resources had become an
embarrassment to the whole of Africa.
In a self-styled state of the nation address to lawmakers from
his party, Tsvangirai also vowed there would be no amnesty for perpetrators
of political violence if he takes power from Mugabe after the run-off
Zimbabwe's economy has been in meltdown since the start of the
decade when Mugabe embarked on a controversial land-reform programme that
saw thousands of white-owned farms expropriated by the state.
A spiralling inflation rate, officially put at 165 000% but
thought to be many times higher, has frightened off investors, as has a new
Bill that requires locals to own a 51% stake in all firms operating in
A one-time regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe now experiences
regular shortages of even the most basic foodstuffs such as cooking oil,
sugar and maize.
Mugabe's government has in turn blamed the country's problems on
a limited programme of sanctions imposed by the West after he allegedly
rigged his 2002 re-election.
"When you have direct and indirect sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe
you cannot expect our economy to operate normally," Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa told reporters at the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria on Friday.
Meanwhile, two supporters of Zimbabwe's ruling party have been
shot dead in the country's north-east, state radio reported on Saturday,
amid mounting violence ahead of the presidential run-off.
"Two Zanu-PF supporters have been shot dead and two others
escaped unhurt in politically motivated violence by suspected MDC elements
in Mutoko," the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said.
The United Nations chief representative in Zimbabwe has said
Mugabe's supporters are to blame for the bulk of recent violence, but the
Zimbabwean president blames the opposition.
Quoting police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka, Saturday's state
media report said Lessy Chitsitsi, the ruling party's ward publicity
secretary, was shot dead on Thursday.
In the second incident, a gunman shot and killed Zanu-PF
activist Taurai Chihuri on Friday, the report said. -- AFP
Published: May 31, 2008 at 4:39 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe, May 31 (UPI) -- Zimbabwe's inflation level reached 1.7
million percent during the first three weeks of May as the Zimbabwean
dollar's value dropped considerably, experts say.
Economist John Robertson said while President Robert Mugabe has been
printing off new currency at increasingly rapid rates to help pay federal
costs, such production has only served to further decline the Zimbabwean
dollar's value and driving up product costs, The Times of London said
"They're printing money so fast but it's getting to the point that it's not
fast enough," Robertson said.
The value of the Zimbabwean dollar reached a new low this week as $1 was
found to be worth nearly 500 million Zimbabwean dollars, the Times reported.
The British newspaper said the declining value of the African country's
currency has led to the creation of a new currency note worth 1 billion
Other notes, designated "special agrocheques," have also been created with a
top currency value of 50 billion Zimbabwean dollars.
By Raymond Mhaka ⋅ zimbabwemetro.com ⋅ May 31, 2008 ⋅ Email This Post ⋅
Post a comment
ZANU PF was left with an egg on its face when police falsely arrested 3 MDC
The three MDC supporters were alleged to have set on fire three kitchen huts
belonging to Zanu-PF supporters in Samaringa,Honde Valley in Mutare the
charges were withdrawn due to lack of evidence.
Three MDC supporters Owen Mbona,the councillor for Ward 10, Patrick Nyandiya
and Ozius Chitembwe were arrested in connection with the setting on fire of
three huts belonging to Michael Matingo, Phyllis Matingo and Michael
Samaringa on May 18.
In withdrawing the case, the prosecutor Tawanda Zvakare said police had
acted on rumours to arrest the suspects.
“The witnesses said they did not know the people who burnt the huts. They
only heard through rumours that the suspects were the ones who had burnt the
huts and unfortunately the police did not follow-up on the rumours so that
they could convert them into facts. These suspects were arrested on mere
suspicions and we cannot say they committed the offence. They were
“Investigations should have been done first so that arrests would follow.
I want to apologise to the defence, accused persons and the court for what
happened. The State will like to withdraw the charges before plea.
Investigations are in progress and if there is new evidence, the State will
proceed by way of summons,” he said.
In his ruling, the Mutare provincial magistrate, Livingstone Chipadza
apologised to the accused MDC supporters for what they went through before
the matter had been investigated.
“Police should investigate cases before arresting people. You are free to go
home now,” said Chipadza.
Metro investigations found that no home has been burnt in the whole area of
ZANU PF member killed by CIO
A ZANU-PF party member was shot dead by Central Intelligence
Organisation(CIO) operatives in Mutoko that has been gripped by political
Lessy Chitsitsi, the ZANU PF ’s ward publicity secretary had vowed not to
campaign for the ZANU PF in protest over some tactics being used by ZANU PF.
Mugabe has since blamed some members of ZANU PF especially House of Assembly
elects who won but he lost in their constituencies.
ZBC was quick to blame the MDC for the death,but the MDC hit back.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa,MDC-Kuwadzana Central., rejected the charges
saying “that is a lie”. “Where will our people get guns. That is utter
By Tawanda Takavarasha | Staff Reporter
Sunday, June 1, 2008 14:26
Zimbabwe, Harare–Zimbabwe’s teachers are demanding that the government hikes
salaries to ZW$76 billion per month to cushion them from runaway inflation,
officially 165 000 percent but estimated by independent analysts to be more
than 1 700 000 percent.
The militant Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) that has in
recent years led strikes for more pay and better working conditions for
teachers said on Sunday that the $63 billion awarded teachers by the
government in May was way below expectation and its members would go on
strike unless the figure was topped up.
Both the $63 billion awarded teachers by the government and the $76 billion
demanded by the PTUZ fall far below the $100 billion that the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe says an average family of six requires per month for
basic services and goods as Zimbabwe sinks deeper into recession.
Robert Mugabe's government, viewing teachers as agents of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has been reluctant to address the
teachers' working conditions.
As a results, upwards of 16 000 teachers have left the education sector for
greener pastures in South Africa or other English speaking countries across
PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe said: "The award is below our
expectations. We remain unwavering on our demand for a total package of $76
billion to be awarded to the lowest paid teacher."
Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere was not immediately available for
comment on the teachers’ demand.
Public Service Commission chairman Mariyawanda Nzuwa and Minister of
Education Aeneas Chigwedere were not immediately available for comment on
Chigwedere has had to be recalled to his post after the March 29 election,
he having left to take up a post as a chief in Wedza. Instead of addressing
the teachers' working conditions, during his whole Chigwedere was obssessed
trivialities, at one point calling for the changing of the names of schools,
urging all schools to use one uniform for students and with fixing the fees
students payed to go to school.
Strikes for better pay and working conditions by Zimbabwe’s teachers as well
as nurses and doctors have become routine in recent years, as the country
grapples with its worst ever economic crisis.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a debilitating political and economic crisis that
is highlighted by hyperinflation, a rapidly contracting GDP, the fastest for
a country not at war, according to the World Bank, and shortages of foreign
currency, food and fuel.
An overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans lives on less than US$1 per day and
four out of five adults of working age are out of employment, while a
quarter of the country’s 12 million people are in need of food aid.
The crisis – critics blame on mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe –has
driven thousands of skilled workers into neighbouring countries and as far
as Britain and the United States in search of better pay and living
Mugabe, who faces popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a June 27
second round presidential election, denies ruining the economy and instead
blames his country’s troubles on sabotage by his Western enemies.
Anywhere else in the world a president presiding over such economic collapse
would most certainly lose an election but analysts say state-led violence
and murder against Tsvangirai’s supporters might just tilt the scales in
favour of Mugabe.--Harare Tribune/ZimOnline
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:59
THE two MDC factions on Friday fielded separate candidates in the
three parliamentary by-elections, to run concurrently with the Presidential
run-off on 27 June.
They turned up at the nomination courts with different candidates,
dashing hopes by supporters they would forge a common front against Zanu PF.
Zanu PF, which lost its Parliamentary majority for the first time
since independence, is determined to reverse the MDC gains as it bids to
ensure President Robert Mugabe, who lost to Tsvangirai on 29 March, wins the
Mugabe launched his campaign last week, telling his supporters nothing
short of a victory was required.
His wife, Grace, betrayed Mugabe’s determination to remain in power
when she said the veteran politician would not go, even if he lost the
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) postponed the elections in
Pelandaba-Mpopoma, Redcliff and Gwanda following the death of candidates of
MDC-Mutambara ahead of the 29 March polls.
The factions had been expected to field a single candidate in each of
the constituencies after they agreed on a loose coalition in Parliament.
Speculation was rife the by-elections would be used to rescue the
political careers of leading members in the Mutambara faction who had lost
But at the close of the nomination courts, sitting in Redcliff,
Bulawayo and Gwanda, the MDC-Mutambara had fielded three new candidates in
the constituencies while those from the main MDC-Tsvangirai re-affirmed
their candidacy through letters to the ZEC.
In Mpopoma-Pelandaba, the smaller faction fielded Dhumani Gwetu, the
son of the late MP, Milton Gwetu, while MDC-Tsvangirai’s Samuel Sandla
Khumalo reaffirmed his candidature.
There were two new names in Leonard Nkala, representing PUMA, and
Gwetu. Other candidates are Dr Sikhanyiso Duke Ndlovu (Zanu PF), Job Sibanda
and Fungai Mutukwa (both independents), Samuel Mahlamvana Ndlovu (United
People’s Party) and Chamunorwa Mahachi of the Zimbabwe Democratic Party.
In Gwanda South, Garfield Makwati, the son of the late MDC candidate,
Glory Makwati was disqualified as his name did not appear on the voters’
roll and was replaced by Elizabeth Ndlovu.
Ndlovu will now fight it out with Orders Mlilo of Zanu PF and Nephat
Mdlongwa of the main MDC-T, who reaffirmed their candidature.
In Redcliff, four candidates were duly nominated, with Gilmond
Karigambe to represent the MDC and Sheunesu Muza standing on a Zanu PF
ticket. MDC-T faction fielded two candidates - Aaron Chinhara and Tapera
MDC faction representatives were quick yesterday to point out that
fielding opposing candidates, which would certainly split votes, did not
mean they would continue the squabbling which cost them a clear majority in
Parliament in the 29 March elections.
Most analysts have speculated that if the factions had rallied on one
presidential candidate Tsvangirai would have easily achieved the 50.3%
needed to win outright.
Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the Mutambara faction said
yesterday there was nothing wrong in the two parties fielding opposing
candidates in the by-elections.
Earlier it had been suggested that Ncube, who lost to Tsvangirai’s
deputy, Thokozani Khupe would be among top officials to be rescued through
Ncube said the parties remained separate entities and there was no way
they would field single candidates. He said there was "never an agreement on
Ncube said: "We took a decision to support Tsvangirai in the
Presidential run-off but we remain two separate parties."
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T spokesperson, said it would have been ideal
if they had fielded single candidates but noted that the parties remained
separate formations until "such a point when they had concluded a
By Kholwani Nyathi and Walter Marwizi
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:53
THERE are more than 90 under-five children packed tightly in the
building. There are signs a good number have diarrhoea.
Some cry constantly but their mothers appear clueless what to do about
the bawling. They have nothing with which to pacify them.
This is not a children’s home or an infants’ school. Welcome to the
MDC’s "safehouse" in Harare.
More than 500 victims of the so-called Operation Mavhoterapapi (who
did you vote for?) are housed two floors of the building. They share four
toilets, two for women and two for men.
Six handwash basins for men and women on both floors are now bathtubs.
Women’s and humanitarian organisations believe this is a tip of an
iceberg on how women and children have borne the brunt of the political
violence, mostly in rural areas.
Hundreds, mostly women and children, are homeless. Although no figures
were immediately available last week, The Standard was told that since Zanu
PF launched its campaign of retribution after its electoral defeat and ahead
of the presidential election run-off, many women have been widowed, and
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said there were "so many areas" where
women and children were worst affected.
"Politics should not be a loss of life but about building it. What
women and girls are going through because of (Robert) Mugabe is not right.
We have already appealed to the United Nations and international charity
organisations to intervene in this humanitarian crisis," he said.
Although the party had received help from non-governmental
organisations, which cannot be named for security reasons, more still needed
to be done to complement their efforts, he said.
According to the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), an NGO that documents
incidents of political violence, hundreds of male MDC supporters in rural
areas have fled their homes to seek sanctuary in urban areas, leaving their
To force them to return, Zanu PF militia have abducted the women and
children, the group said.
"There are numerous cases of women and children being taken as ransom
and forcibly detained in bases until their fathers or husbands return to
their villages. Women are being assaulted, tortured, and sexually harassed,"
said ZPP chairperson Alouis Chaumba.
Before the elections, the organisations encouraged women to take part
in politics, as candidates and voters. There were adverts proclaiming "women
can do it".
But after the elections, the organisations are conspicuously absent.
But a number of them said they were helping with shelter and food but
would not "come out" for fear of reprisals.
"We have helped a lot of women and children but we cannot reveal our
organisation as we all know what Zanu PF is capable of doing once they know
us," said one activist.
Another said they were helping the victims, although more aid was
"As a women’s organisation we are doing our best, but if you expose us
you would have done an injustice to the people we are helping because we
will be forced to close down," she said.
She claimed they were providing shelter and food in areas she could
not identify for "security reasons". But she too said more help was
Netsai Mushonga, director of Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe said women
were worst affected as they would be at home when the militias arrived,
their husbands having gone into hiding.
"We were visiting some of the survivors from Chiweshe and we found out
that the majority were women. These women were brutally beaten up. They were
told to remove their skirts and were beaten on their buttocks by sticks
soaked in herbicides," she said.
The government has blamed the post-election violence on the MDC. But
human rights groups say Zanu PF has been responsible for the lion’s share of
A senior member of the party’s Women’s League, Flora Buka, asked to
comment, could only say: "I will call you later". She later switched off her
Recently, Mugabe said he was "really touched" by the violence.
"We are not animals but humans. If you burn down someone’s house you
want to destroy their life," Mugabe was quoted as saying. "We want to warn
the MDC they should stop immediately this barbaric campaign of burning and
destroying people’s homes."
Grace Mugabe has donated groceries; asbestos sheets, cash and clothes
to families affected by alleged MDC-perpetrated post election violence in
Curiously, Zanu PF has not publicly buried any of its victims of MDC
violence, whereas the MDC has done so, with Tsvangirai himself delivering a
graveside eulogy in Harare, shortly after returning to the country after
nearly two month-long absence.
In April the police raided Harvest House and arrested more than 300
sanctuary seekers, including pregnant women and children.
By Sandra Mandizvidza
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:43
BULAWAYO — Police yesterday refused to sanction a series of rallies
intended to kick-start MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s presidential run-off
election campaign in Matabeleland North, sparking allegations of government
bias against the opposition.
Zimbabweans vote in the second round of the presidential election on
27 June after Tsvangirai failed to garner more than 50% of the vote in March
when he beat President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai, who spent six weeks in exile after the polls, fearing for
his life, had rallies scheduled for Chinotimba Stadium in Victoria Falls and
the Colliery Stadium in Hwange.
The rallies would have been his first public meetings after he spent
his first week back home visiting victims of the political violence the MDC
says has claimed 50 supporters and addressing a caucus of his MPs on Friday.
But his deputy, Thokozani Khupe (pictured), speaking from Victoria
Falls, said the two meetings had been cancelled after the police refused to
grant them permission to meet supporters.
"In Victoria Falls, we found the gates to the police station locked
because they were expecting us," she said.
"We wanted to ask them why they were trying to prevent us from holding
the meetings since we are allowed by law to hold rallies whenever we want."
She said they resorted to meeting their supporters on the streets,
"which was as good as holding the rallies" because they were well received.
"It is clear that Zanu PF is trying to use every trick in the book to
prevent us from campaigning," she said.
"But it is clear the MDC is going to win this run-off and there is
nothing Mugabe can do to stop us."
A fortnight ago, the MDC went to court to force the police to allow
them to hold their victory celebrations at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.
Tsvangirai who had been expected at the celebrations cancelled his
scheduled return home following what was described by the MDC as "fresh
threats to his life".
Khupe said despite the police ban they expected to hold rallies in
Binga and Lupane today.
Police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena was not available for comment
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:41
ASSERTIONS by a top army officer that soldiers are supposed to rally
behind President Robert Mugabe in the 27 June presidential election run-off
because he is their commander-in-chief are "mischievous and in breach of the
Constitution", analysts and political parties said yesterday.
Major-General Martin Chedondo reportedly told officers at an army
shooting championship in Harare last week that they were bound to support
Mugabe as he was the defence forces’ boss.
Chedondo is the commander of Army Skills and was officiating at the
He was quoted as having said: "The Constitution says the country
should be protected by voting in the 27 June presidential election run-off
pitting our defence chief Cde Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the
MDC-T, we should, therefore, stand behind our Commander-in-Chief."
"Soldiers are not apolitical. Only mercenaries are apolitical. We have
signed and agreed to fight and protect the ruling party’s principles of
defending the revolution. If you have other thoughts, then you should remove
But Dr Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional law expert, dismissed
Chedondo’s assertion as "mischief coming from someone who does not
understand the Constitution".
Madhuku says the commander-in-chief of the defence forces "is not
Robert Mugabe but the President of Zimbabwe".
"What the army has to do is wait for the outcome of the 27 June
election and salute and protect whoever is elected in a democratic process,"
On Chedondo’s directive that officers who do not want to fight and
support the ruling party’s principle should resign from the army, Madhuku
said the top soldier was putting things upside down.
"He must remove his uniform," Madhuku said.
Giles Mutsekwa, MDC secretary for security and intelligence said it
was regrettable that Chedondo would make such as statement. "Armed forces
were created to provide defence and security to Zimbabweans, not a political
party," he said.
seems to want to coerce armed forces into a militia of a political
party," he said.
Mutsekwa, who doubles as shadow defence minister, said the army had
created the impression the 27 June election is between Tsvangirai and
Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, General Constantine Chiwenga which he
said was an unfortunate situation.
He said Chedondo was unaware that the generality of the armed forces
were keenly waiting for change.
Mutsekwa said the defence forces need not panic as the MDC would
inherit all the armed forces-minus those who were committing heinous crimes
Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, head of national mobilization in the
Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn movement condemned Chedondo’s comments.
"The first principle of a soldier is that one should be apolitical,"
Mbudzi said, adding Chedondo was living in "pseudo-realism".
Mbudzi said that if Chedondo wanted to join politics he should resign
from the army.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief General Constantine Chiwenga, Police
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Prisons Commissioner retired
Major-General Paradzai Zimondi and Brigadier-General David Sigauke have
repeatedly said they will not salute Tsvangirai if he wins.
But Mugabe’s chief election agent, Emmerson Mnangagwa said the
generals’ views were based on individual sentiment and had nothing to do
with Zanu PF.
Chedondo’s directive comes barely a week after the High Court issued a
provisional order instructing soldiers to confine their operations "within
their constitutional duties in terms of section 96 (1) of the constitution".
This followed an urgent chamber application by advocate Eric
Matinenga, the newly- elected House of Assembly Member for Buhera West that
soldiers were terrorizing civilians in his constituency.
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:38
THE government has reportedly awarded civil servants a hefty pay rise,
ahead of the Presidential run-off set for 27 June.
Although The Standard could not confirm the increment officially,
sources said teachers’ salaries, seriously eroded by inflation of over 1 700
000%, had gone up to $63 billion a month.
An average teacher earning $5 billion, will now receive around $63
billion, including transport and housing allowances while the highly paid
will get $80 billion backdated to 1 May.
The government has reportedly pledged to pay out all balances before
the end of next week, according to sources.
Officials from the Public Service Commission could not be reached for
comment yesterday. The Minister of Information and Publicity, Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu said: "I am in Mpopoma launching a campaign, I cannot hear you. Call
Oswald Madziva, national co-ordinator for the Progressive Teachers’
Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) confirmed the pay hikes, saying teachers were not
"That money is inadequate," Madziva said. "It is far below what a
person needs to cover expenses by today’s standards."
He said a transport allowance of $11 billion was only half of what a
teacher requires for at least 22 working days.
"A return trip currently costs between $600 million and $ 1.2
billion", he said. "Again, without a revision of the tax regime, the yields
from the new figures will be eroded."
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) chief executive, Peter Mabande
would neither confirm nor deny the news.
"I don’t deal with The Standard, the last time we talked to you, you
wrote what you wanted," Mabande claimed.
But in the past Zimta has refused to confirm the increments saying
such issues were "confidential".
A source told The Standard yesterday: "We are convinced the increment
was just a decision of Cabinet and treasury and not an outcome of labour
negotiations although some people would claim they negotiated."
In what was criticised as an election ploy, the government awarded
civil servants a massive salary hike towards the harmonised 29 March
Soldiers received a raise of between $1 billion and $3 billion,
depending on rank, while teachers received an average of $500 million.
Most interestingly then, it was President Robert Mugabe who announced
at a rally that teachers would get a "windfall".
By Jennifer Dube
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:36
MORE than a dozen Zimbabweans were arrested following raids on 30
addresses in Britain on Thursday in a multi-million pound fraud police
investigation, according to British newspapers reports.
The Yorkshire Post reported on Friday that police investigating a
multi-million pound cheque fraud involving banks and building societies in
West Yorkshire had arrested 17 people.
The arrests came as police raided up to 30 addresses across Yorkshire
last week in the culmination of a painstaking investigation.
The alleged fraud was initially thought to be worth around £4.8
million but officers have recovered hundreds of cheques with a face value of
about £2 million. Up to £5m is believed to have been stolen over the past 18
Hundreds of other "blank" cheques have also been seized along with
computers, printers and other equipment.
Police say the fraudsters either recruited staff already working in
banks and building societies or members obtained jobs which gave them access
to high-value cheques which were then stolen.
The details on the cheques were altered and then paid into the
accounts of bogus companies to allow the cash to be withdrawn.
Police were alerted when banking staff realised the money was not
reaching the intended accounts.
Officers from West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit were backed
by teams from Operations Support Division, the Organised Crime Group, and
local officers in last week’s raids. Most of the addresses targeted were in
Leeds, with a small number of others in Wakefield, Barnsley, Harrogate,
Manchester, Luton and Milton Keynes.
Those arrested so far on suspicion of fraud or theft charges are 16
men and one woman, aged between 25 and 47. Most are believed to be
Zimbabwean nationals, although enquiries to confirm their identities were
said to ongoing.
The Yorkshire Post reported that detectives were liaising with the
Immigration Service with regard to any potential immigration issues.
Six of the arrested men have been charged with fraud offences and were
due to appear at Leeds Magistrates Court. They are a 47-year-old, a
46-year-old, and a 34-year-old, all from Leeds, a 31-year-old from Barnsley,
a 34-year-old from Wakefield and a 30-year-old from Manchester. The other
people arrested are on bail pending further investigations.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Langan, Head of the Economic Crime
Unit, told The Yorkshire Post: "This operation demonstrates West Yorkshire
Police’s ongoing commitment to targeting large-scale fraud that is being
carried out by organised crime gangs. We are determined to show organised
criminals that there is no such thing as easy money.
"Throughout this investigation we have worked closely with our
partners in the banking community and we continue to develop ways of working
even more closely to keep targeting organised criminals who think they can
get away with profiting from financial fraud. Our message to those people
is, as this week’s operation demonstrates, we will investigate you, you will
be arrested and we will also strip you of any financial benefit you have
made from these crimes using the Proceeds of Crime Act.
"It is also worth highlighting that this investigation came about as a
result of the financial institutions’ own internal security systems
identifying this criminality orchestrated by an organised crime gang."
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:23
GWERU — Although non-governmental organisations are supposed to be
apolitical, some of their members believe the country’s current crisis,
worsened by political violence, compels them to explicitly speak out against
the violence and adopt drastic measures to help check the crisis.
Morrison Sifelani, chairman of Gweru Agenda said it was naïve to
suggest that non-governmental organisations (NGOS) were apolitical as the
work some of them did, such as the fight for democracy and upholding of
human rights, was political.
He was speaking at a Midlands province non-governmental organisation
directors’ forum in Gweru on Thursday.
Sifelani said NGOs are only apolitical in the sense that they should
not engage in party politics.
But the current crisis compelled them to be unequivocal in their
The programmes director of the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations, Bob Muchabaiwa agreed with Sifelani,
describing the situation in the country as "abnormal".
He said "it cannot be business as usual".
Muchabaiwa said civil society strongly condemned the ongoing violence,
and demanded that civil society organisations be given access to victims of
political violence so they could assist them.
He said even if "some places had become no-go areas", NANGO called
upon its members to deploy their staff in such areas to help victims of
"Civil society organisations should be allowed access to victims of
organised violence and torture. We are essentially saying there are people
in need of medication, in need of legal assistance, people in need of food,
clothing and what not," Muchabaiwa said.
"And we are saying to the authorities, the powers-that-be, should
allow civil society organisations to be able to render such services to
them. Our members should deploy more of their members in the constituencies
to support these people."
The government has in the past accused NGOs of working with the
opposition, and in the wake of the current political violence, NGOs
providing humanitarian assistance in rural areas have been forced to suspend
their operations because their staff have been victimised.
In the Midlands province, Ardra and Care Zimbabwe have reportedly
stopped food handouts in Mberengwa after Zanu PF officials accused the
organisations of campaigning for the MDC-T while handing out foodstuffs.
The organisations were directed to stop their programme, although most
families in Mberengwa face starvation.
Muchabaiwa said alongside the other efforts that civil society
organisations were undertaking to help resolve the current crisis, they had
also decided to employ non-violent social action designed to put pressure on
the "former government"
"As you may be aware, civil society organisations in Zimbabwe launched
the ‘Make-your-vote-count’ campaign, where they are essentially saying it is
about time civil society must begin to pressurise politicians to respect the
people’s choice, to respect the people’s vote, by engaging in mass-based
non-violent social actions," Muchabaiwa said. "And these could range from
simple things like praying for Zimbabwe; people coming together and saying
we need Divine intervention. This is a peaceful non-violent social action;
but at least we cannot allow this situation to continue."
Muchabaiwa said despite SADC’s apparent failure to decisively deal
with the situation in Zimbabwe, the regional grouping, the African Union, as
well as international bodies remained important targets in the NGOs’ efforts
to bring about democracy in the country.
The NANGO Midlands chairperson, Peter Muchengeti said it was a shame
the Zanu PF through its abuse of the public media was always quick to accuse
most NGO’s of supporting the opposition but turned a deaf ear to some NGO’s
that boasted of supporting Zanu PF.
Muchengeti gave examples of the Joseph Chinotimba-led Zimbabwe
Federation of Trade Unions, Lawyers for Justice, and the Zimbabwe Farmers’
Union which publicly announced their allegiance to Zanu PF.
"The public media has actually given these organisations media access
and never condemned them. There is nothing wrong with NGOs supporting a
political party. In South Africa, Cosatu support the ANC," Muchengeti said.
The meeting was part of a series that NANGO is holding countrywide as
part of efforts to deal urgently with the humanitarian crisis arising from
the ongoing violence.
By Rutendo Mawere
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:20
BULAWAYO — Matabeleland South war veterans last week allegedly forced
dependants of Gwanda police officers to attend a meeting at which they
ordered them to vote for President Robert Mugabe on 27 June to save their
Sources told The Standard the war veterans, accompanied by senior
provincial police officers last Sunday stormed the Gwanda main police
station and ordered everyone to the meeting.
The veterans, led by Sinini Mangena, Stewart Khumalo and the
Senator-elect for Gwanda, Japhet Dube (Zanu PF) were reportedly accompanied
by the officer commanding the province, Ronald Muderedzwa, and the officer
commanding administration, Joram Mlilo.
"They told the wives and dependants of the police officers they would
be evicted from the main police camp and their husbands and parents
dismissed from the force if they did not vote for Mugabe," said a police
The meeting followed another held a week earlier at the same camp,
where police officers were warned against voting for the MDC’s Morgan
They were told a Tsvangirai win would see the country sliding into
About 500 Matabeleland South police officers attended the initial
meeting at the senior officers’ mess in Gwanda.
Mlilo was in the chair, assisted by Superintendent Hosaya Mukombero,
responsible for training in Beitbridge.
They were accompanied by Officer Commanding Gwanda District, Chief
Superintendent David Difala and Superintendent Konrad Manhai, the deputy
officer commanding Gwanda District.
The police officers at the meeting are based at the New Government
Complex in Gwanda and their ranks ranged between constables to chief
Others were from the Gwanda police station, district headquarters and
"The chairperson said all police officers and members as well as their
dependants, wives inclusive, must vote for Zanu-PF," said the source. "This
was to ensure that more than 20 000 ZRP members gave Zanu PF more votes and
an outright victory for Mugabe."
Officers in the security forces and Zimbabwean diplomats vote days
before the elections.
Anti-government protests are ruthlessly put down by the police.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Tafanana Dzirutwe, confirmed that
the meeting took place but refused to comment saying the discussions were
about "internal matters".
"We hold our meetings as per police regulations, discussing issues
that have to do with the police force," he said. "As such, I cannot comment
on what was said or discussed at the meeting as the proceedings of the
meeting were only for the police and internal, according to our
The police sources said they were told all officers and their
dependants would use the postal vote where they would be strictly monitored
by immediate supervisors.
Observers say this is in violation of the Electoral Act as dependants
of officers in the security forces are not allowed to vote under the postal
Postal voting is also voluntary.
Under the Electoral Act, officers from the security forces deployed on
duty outside their voting constituencies as well as civil servants on duty
outside the country are the only ones allowed to vote under the postal
Officers from the security forces vote days before the elections.
Analysts credit the uniformed forces with ensuring Mugabe’s continued hold
on power despite growing disaffection.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:16
OPPOSITION party supporters in rural areas are being forced to pay
"repentance fees" to war veterans and Zanu PF youth militia if they don’t
want to be killed or tortured, the MDC claimed last week.
The supporters were being forced to pay money, household goods,
chickens, goats and cattle to Zanu PF loyalists to avoid torture and even
The MDC claims at least 50 of its supporters have been murdered since
the 29 March election, in which their leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat
President Robert Mugabe.
MDC national spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said thousands of their
supporters have lost valuables to Zanu PF thugs, who beat them up before
forcing them to pay penance for supporting the opposition party.
"People in the rural areas are suffering at the hands of a
dictatorship which is extorting, torturing and killings it own people,"
But Zanu PF elections spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said all queries
relating to violence and extortion must be directed to the police.
Police chief spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for
comment at the time of going to print.
Reports of extortion and torture were most prevalent in Mashonaland
East, Central, and West, Manicaland and the Midlands provinces.
Chamisa said in Guruve in Mashonaland Central, MDC supporters had
their heads dipped into drums full of water and were forced to sign
"cleansing certificates", before paying a repentance fee.
The cleansing certificates are counter-signed by a "base commander",
usually a senior war veteran.
A relative of an MDC activist, captured and tortured at Shinga base in
Mudzi, said his uncle was only released after he had given up two goats and
two chickens to the war veterans.
MDC secretary for social welfare, Kerry Kay said the party was worried
at the numbers fleeing from the rural areas.
"They (youth militia and war veterans) are even searching vehicles and
it’s obvious some are earning a living from extortion," she said.
"Ambulances have been turned back when they want to pick up people who
would have been tortured by Zanu PF militia. These acts are so grotesque."
By Caiphas Chimhete
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:13
THE MDC has vowed to punish all those responsible for the murder of
its activists and supporters, once in power.
Speaking at the burial of MDC activist Tonderai Ndira (32), murdered a
fortnight ago by suspected Zanu PF militia and war veterans, party leader
Morgan Tsvangirai last week said his party would not allow the murderers to
"We can forgive all other things but I think we would have stretched
our humility too far if we forgave this," he said. "Mugabe and his cronies
are always preaching about sovereignty. They should know that no sovereignty
is greater than giving people the right to live."
Ndira was the fourth MDC activist to be buried at the cemetery in just
The other three are Beta Chokururama, Godfrey Kauzani and Cain Nyeve.
Ndira’s father said his son had to be buried in Harare and not at his
rural home for the safety of surviving family members.
"Tonde had a lot of friends," he said. "I was scared that if all of
them attended the burial, I might find myself in a difficult situation after
Hundreds thronged Warren Hills cemetery to pay their last respects to
the dreadlocked activist, described by colleagues as "youthful, soft-spoken
The funeral cortege comprised more than 20 vehicles and most mourners
were clad in the red and white MDC regalia.
They sang funeral and MDC songs loud enough to attract the anti-riot
police who ensured a strong presence along Samora Machel Avenue throughout
the burial proceedings.
The MDC says Ndira was abducted from his home in Mabvuku on 14 May by
armed men in an unmarked truck. They pounced on him early in the morning
while he was still in bed.
Neighbours could not rescue him, after one of the assailants pointed a
gun at them.
His body was found a week later, dumped among dead vagrants at
It was transferred to the hospital from a farm in Goromonzi, where it
was discovered eight days after his abduction.
The decomposing body bore marks of a brutal death as both lips and the
tongue had been cut off. The skull was smashed and there were gunshot wounds
under the left armpit and below the rib cage.
But the hospital barred his family from conducting a post mortem,
raising fears it wanted to protect the murderers.
Ndira is survived by his wife and children. Tsvangirai said they would
benefit from the MDC’s recently launched $150 trillion Violence Victims’
"We have an obligation to cater for these families, not only now but
also after 27 June, when, hopefully, we will be in a new Zimbabwe," he said.
Tsvangirai said his party was not deterred by the killings and
abandoning the fight would be equal to betraying the likes of Ndira who did
not give up even when he was arrested for the 38th time before the abduction
which led to his death.
Tsvangirai announced at the burial that he had received news that the
body of a former MDC provincial treasurer for Murehwa, Shepherd Jani, seized
by four armed men from his office on 22 May, had been found in the Goromonzi
Jani was buried in his rural home in Murehwa last Wednesday.
Tsvangirai said at least 50 MDC supporters have been killed by
suspected war veterans and Zanu PF militia since the harmonised elections on
The MDC said over 25 000 people have been displaced while more than 1
000 houses belonging to opposition supporters have been burnt down.
By Jennifer Dube
Saturday, 31 May 2008 18:12
BULAWAYO — About 10 schools in Matabeleland South were reportedly
forced to shut down by Zanu PF militia who attacked teachers they blamed for
contributing to President Robert Mugabe’s defeat during the 29 March
The closure came as fresh reports surfaced of the militants extorting
money and goods from villagers in the province. They were allegedly forcing
villagers to pay "fines" for voting for the MDC.
The youths swept through West Nicholson, unleashing a wave of violence
that left hundreds injured. In addition, they are said to be forcing the
hunger-stricken villagers to share their food with them.
The Standard was told the youths were forcing villagers to cook food
and deliver it to their bases — in cases reminiscent of scenes during the
1970s struggle for independence. "Teachers at the schools shut down are
sleeping in the bush to escape violence and the night vigils," The Standard
The schools have been identified as Zhukwe, Sizeze, Stezi, Zezani
Mission, Mapane, Khozi, Wabayi, Nyandeni, Nkazhe and Gohole. The reports
could not be independently verified as communication lines were down.
Raymond Majongwe, the PTUZ secretary-general said it was disturbing
that schools had become targets of the Zanu PF militia resulting in dozens
of them closing down.
There was no comment from the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture
on the latest developments.
Saturday, 31 May 2008 17:59
BULAWAYO — There is haunting weariness in Precious Zhove’s eyes as she
recounts events leading to her flight from home in Mberengwa in Zimbabwe’s
Clutching her 18-month-old baby, she relives the horror of the day
so-called war veterans, Zanu PF supporters, and soldiers descended on her
homestead looking for her husband Joab Gumbo, who stood for election as a
councillor under a MDC ticket.
"I was trying to tell them I did not know where my husband was since
it was in the afternoon. They grabbed my baby, this one here and tied a sack
around her waist. Then one of them started swinging her while holding her by
"They said she was an MDC baby so they were going to take her away
from me. They said that way my husband and I would have another baby, a Zanu
PF baby this time, because they don’t like MDC people, because they are
While she pauses to catch her breath, she sighs, "Oh not again," and
shifts the baby on her lap. The baby has no nappy, so her skirt has become
wet. She explains the baby has no nappies or warm clothing. "I didn’t have
time to pack anything. The moment my husband returned home we left."
Zhove’s story is just one of many I have listened to in recent weeks
as more and more families in rural Matabeleland and the Midlands flee from
harassment, intimidation, and beatings after 29 March elections.
Media show images of injuries caused by the brutal attacks. The
footage and reports are frightening: Burnt buttocks, breasts severed, limbs
broken, and backs festering with wounds from plastic burns. Stories of
pregnant women having their stomachs ripped open or men young enough to be
their grandsons raping elderly women.
Yet, away from the cameras, audio recorders, and notebooks there is
emotional and psychological trauma that victims endure in stoic silence.
Zhove is lucky to be out of physical harm’s way. But, she is in continuous
emotional turmoil. Her conscience gnaws at her heart over the fate of her
two school-going children left behind in Mberengwa.
"I don’t know what they are eating. I don’t know whether they are
going to school. I’m not even sure if they are still alive. I pray all the
time that they are safe and that I will see them again soon.
"I wonder sometimes whether I should have stayed with my children. If
the war vets came back and killed me, at least my children would know my
fate. Right now they don’t even know I am here."
Broken bones heal with time if the victims are fortunate enough to
access medical treatment. The verbal abuse and the psychological impact of
the beatings, sexual abuse, and public humiliation will haunt these women
forever. It reminds me of the ditty: "Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words can hurt forever." The violence inflicts deep emotional wounds
among victims, their relatives, and friends.
An added repercussion is the effect that the violence is likely to
have on women’s participation in politics. The post-election violence
reinforces long held beliefs that "politics is a dirty and dangerous pursuit
that only men can dabble in". The violence gives politics a bad name and
pushes women further onto the fringes of active politics.
The majority of women targeted are political activists who openly
admit they are in politics to try to ensure a better future for their
children. Women polling agents and candidates who contested in local council
elections are key targets. Winning female councillors in rural areas are
being hounded out of their homes and therefore, being denied the chance to
work and help develop their communities.
Added to these politically active victims are hundreds of women who
are killed, raped, harassed, humiliated and abused simply because they are
mothers, wives, sisters and aunts of prominent MDC activists.
An elderly granny who had fled her home in Kezi tells of the shame she
endured during a rally when "youthful war veterans" taunted her using
abusive and vulgar language because her son is an MDC activist.
She confided how unhappy she was to be living with her daughter-in-law
indefinitely. "I want to be home and not get in my daughter-in-law’s way.
But I am too afraid to go back."
Mostly women carry the heavy responsibility of explaining the
horrifying events to scared, confused and traumatised children. They also
try to ensure life goes on as usual for the children amid all the upheaval
Mothers have to answer questions of "Baba varipi? Ubaba ungaphi?
(Where is daddy?)" from children whose fathers have fled their homes in the
dead of night. These women have the daunting task of trying to make
senseless reprisals make sense to their children.
Women are the people who have to make sure that even after houses and
granaries are razed to the ground, children are clothed and fed. Moreover,
these same women live with the unspoken scorn of close relatives for
"allowing" themselves to be raped by war veterans.
Yet in communities where war veterans have set up the infamous "bases"
everyone knows that women have no option but to "agree" to rape in desperate
attempts to protect their families.
The true extent of humiliation that violated women are enduring became
clear when a man from the Midlands narrated the extent of sexual abuse in
his wife’s presence.
"Every woman who is still young is being rape by these brutes who
threaten to destroy homesteads if women do not give in to their demands. Men
know it’s happening even though women don’t talk about it. We know they are
desperate to spare their husbands and families victimisation. We are going
to be raising children that are not ours, but AIDS is the real threat in the
While the man spoke, his wife was shaking her head silently, tears
streaming down her cheeks. The effect of all these experiences is to
traumatise Zimbabwean women into silence, and out of the political arena.
Ultimately, to quote writer Chenjerai Hove in Shebeen Tales, there is
the long term danger that if the violence, harassment and abuse continues
unabated, "women will remain of politics and not in politics". And that will
do little to make sure their needs are cared for in the future.
Miriam Madziwa is a freelance journalist based in Zimbabwe. This
article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service.
By Miriam Madziva
Saturday, 31 May 2008 17:48
FEW bearer-cheque notes introduced by the central bank last month are
"chasing shadows" as rising prices of goods and services have rendered the
currency worthless amid fears that Zimbabwe is heading towards the Weimar
Under the Weimar Republic, Germans carried cash loaded in wheelbarrows
to buy bread, a spectacle analysts say may soon become commonplace in
Last month the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe unveiled a $500 million bearer
note to complement the $250 million and $100 million notes introduced in
All this is apparently in an attempt to ease consumers’ woes of
carrying bags of cash.
But the new denominations have not brought the much-needed relief as
prices are trekking northwards.
A loaf of bread now costs $500m while a one-way commutter bus trip to
town is $250m.
RBZ also introduced new bearer notes of Z$50 billion, Z$25 billion and
Z$5 billion so-called agro-cheques for the convenience of farmers.
The agro-cheques can be used to buy goods, but have found their way to
the black market where foreign currency parallel market rates are higher
than cash transactions.
The cheapest room to rent in high-density suburbs has trekked the $5
billion agro- cheque while a 2kg packet of sugar sells at $1.5 billion.
With the pace at which prices are rising, analysts warn that to buy
monthly groceries one would need a bagful of cash.
Independent economist John Robertson says inflation was wreaking
havoc, leaving the currency worthless. He warns that if the government does
not address the problem, the economy will sink further into an abyss.
"Inflation is accelerating with prices doubling every week and if we
carry on with what we are doing, we will see prices doubling every day," he
The government has been quick to blame business for hiking prices as
part of a "regime change" agenda ahead of the 27 June presidential election
But the battered business community denies the charge and says rising
input costs have contributed to price increases.
Since June last year, Zimbabwe has been experiencing hyperinflation,
where month-on-month inflation is over 50%.
Analysts say other than a comprehensive policy package, introducing
higher denominated notes will bring short-lived results.
"In a hyperinflationary environment, other than a return to stability
in terms of prices, anything you do will only bring temporary results," said
an economist with a commercial bank.
He said prices were moving so fast any measure taken by the central
bank would not yield positive results.
There have been calls to debase the currency and banish zeros, but
analysts warn such a move would only bring temporary relief.
In August 2006, the RBZ slashed three zeros from the currency but the
results were short-lived. The zeros were back within a few months.
Inflation, which analysts say has breached the 1 million percent mark,
is unprecedented in a country outside a war zone. RBZ governor Gideon Gono
has in the past described inflation as "Number One Enemy" and vowed to crush
But despite Gono’s "Failure is not an option" rallying cry, it seems
the task has spun out of control as his first term of office ends in
By Ndamu Sandu
Saturday, 31 May 2008 17:43
BULAWAYO — The economy will take at least six years to recover, if a
new government takes over after the 27 June presidential run-off and
launches measures to reverse 11 years of recession, an economist said last
Eric Bloch, an advisor to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, told a
managers’ general meeting, regardless of the winner, the prospects of an
economic turnaround were bright.
He said if President Robert Mugabe won, his government was unlikely to
continue with the ruinous policies responsible for the country’s
international isolation, the destruction of agriculture and the severe brain
Mugabe faces off against the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai in the
second round of the elections after he lost in the first poll.
The state of the economy is likely to play a critical role in
determining who leads the country for the next five years.
"I believe we are going to see change after we get over with the
elections," Bloch told a regional annual general meeting of the Zimbabwe
Institue of Management.
"Whichever government comes in, whether Zanu PF or MDC or one of
national unity, it will not do things as they are being done now because it
But the recovery would be slow, he said, because wooing back
professionals, getting agriculture back to work and restoring normal
relations with the international community would not happen overnight.
Bloch said the hyper-inflation, which has escalated in the past few
weeks, was likely to continue for the next three months.
"There will be no quick fix," he said.
Official inflation figures have not been published for the past five
months, because most basic commodities are not available on the formal
market, driven to the black market by government price controls.
Independent analysts estimate inflation is now one million percent.
The MDC promised to stabilise the economy within six months of taking
power when it campaigned for the March elections.
Bloch said it was unlikely Mugabe would continue his confrontational
approach with the international community, as African and Asian countries
which had earlier supported him were backing off.
He said the Sadc countries’ refusal to let through a ship carrying
Chinese weapons bound for Zimbabwe must have jolted the government into an
awareness of being deserted by friends.
Using Western sanctions as the scapegoat for the collapse of the
economy was fast losing currency as there was evidence of corruption, lack
of government fiscal discipline, threats to property rights, among other
ill-advised polices, being responsible.
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 31 May 2008 16:55
AS the campaign for the 27 June Presidential Run-Off Election shifts
into high gear, and positive though the spirit may be, Morgan Tsvangirai and
the MDC ought to do what they have probably never done before: prepare and
strategise for the worst case scenario.
To be sure, the election itself is unavoidable, lest Zanu PF secures
the presidency on a silver platter. In the current context, Tsvangirai’s
position is akin to that of a hunter running hard to escape the jaws of a
lion whereupon after climbing the big tree, he comes face-to-face with a
King Cobra. The hunter has to weigh and take risks in very limited space of
time. This Tsvangirai has done by choosing to contest knowing very well that
even that route is long, rugged and at some point, may become impassable.
Given the events since the 29 March election, it looks increasingly
likely that Mugabe and Zanu PF will do everything in their power to claim
perhaps another of the proverbial cat’s nine lives.
For when you observe the pictures of the walking wounded; of the
women, both young and old, brutalised in the most sacred and most soft parts
of the anatomy; of the young men brutally slain in cold-blood; there is,
plainly, little left to imagine what these fellow members of the human
species authoring this orgy of violence can do. You do wonder whether there
is heart somewhere in their shells that, one day, could be rehabilitated. At
the end of the day, one is left with the grim feeling that these events are
the harbinger of worse to come.
For Mugabe and Zanu PF the election is no more than a ritual to confer
legality to their retention of power. They simply have no intention of
giving up power whatever the electorate thinks.
There are at least two worst case scenarios that Tsvangirai and the
MDC are likely to face come 27 June:
First, the less likely scenario is that Tsvangirai may be declared the
winner of the election by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission but that victory
will not be accepted by Zanu PF. There is a real possibility that elements
in Zanu PF will carry out their threat to thwart his bid even if he wins.
The elaborate machinations following the 29 March election are indicative of
their intentions. Zanu PF is unlikely to change this stance.
fter 29 March, the MDC made some high-level noise and carried out
unprecedented diplomatic manoeuvres on the African circuit. It did not
change the result but may have swayed significant African opinion. Mugabe
prefers the portrayal of a law-abiding man and a coup against a declared
winner would be more embarrassing. It would cause him to lose the sympathy
of even the faithfully loyal President Thabo Mbeki. That is why this
prospect of permitting a declaration of Tsvangirai as the winner and,
therefore, necessitating a "coup" is most unlikely.
The second and more likely scenario is that Mugabe will be swiftly
declared the winner of the 27 June election. Delaying the result is unlikely
as it has been seen to be counter-productive post-29 March. This time it
will be a short, sharp and very swift execution conferring the presidency to
Mugabe. Such an announcement will provide the cover of legality on Mugabe’s
presidency, albeit a very controversial one, but that will not deter them.
This will be sufficient because legally, it will place Tsvangirai and
the MDC on the back foot, making them the challengers to the process, a
position Mugabe and Zanu PF have found hard work from since 29 March. They
will not want that again and a quick announcement as happened in Kenya’s
recent elections will come in handy.
This scenario will shift the balance of advantage from Tsvangirai and
the MDC to Mugabe and Zanu PF. It will be the MDC and Tsvangirai operating
from a position of weakness, being the "losing" candidate.
It is quite likely that in that situation, Zanu PF will be more open
to the idea of a government of national unity ("GNU"), to which they have,
so far, given mixed reactions. They would rather do it as the senior partner
than the junior guest invited to the MDC banquet.
The MDC will at that stage be faced with very hard choices but this
could be eased by forward planning; by anticipating the fact that one or
other worst case scenario is more likely to arise. Given what has happened
so far, the MDC should be planning and strategising for how to handle a
controversial "defeat" on 27 June.
It is in this area of strategising in the face of patent risks where
the MDC has appeared to stutter in the past. The MDC’s Achilles heel has
always been an almost infantile innocence in the face of a ruthless and
crafty rival. The MDC appears to operate in anticipation of the best outcome
but without accounting for the probability the worst possible outcome.
ut its approach in dealings with Zanu PF is reflective of the society
in which it exists. We are taught that democracy is for good men and women,
who believe in peace, use peaceful methods, co-operate and do all the
"right" things. We live in a world in which we observe older and mature
democracies where democratic values have been inculcated over time. What we
are not taught, however, is that even in these older democracies, things
were not always that straightforward. Democracy has come a long way and they
have had and, in many ways, still have to deal with ruthless and crafty
opponents in the Zanu PF mould.
We operate in anticipation of peace, fair-play and togetherness. What
we are not taught is that, in fact, there are considerable levels of
conflict at all levels of society — family, community, national and indeed
international. We overlook the obvious reality that in society there are
crafty and ruthless individuals who will employ every tool and method in the
book to outdo us in various endeavours. We are taught to abhor conflict and
violence but we are not taught to be prepared for the reality in which
conflict is, in fact, prevalent. We are, therefore, often unprepared to deal
with crafty and ruthless individuals and, indeed, situations of conflict.
This is the same predicament in which the MDC finds itself. It is
fighting for democracy using "democratic" means and tactics but is not
prepared for the reality presented by the crafty opponent that it faces.
he net result is that on various occasions it has been caught
off-guard; unprepared for the worst case scenario that usually arises from
Zanu PF’s machinations. Zanu PF, being crafty as usual, knows this. The 29
March election was a test and it knows that once again the MDC was prepared
for victory but not necessarily for defeat. The same lack of preparedness to
deal with the worst case was evident after the 2002 Presidential election
when indecisiveness derailed the MDC’s obvious momentum at the time.
As in everyday life, Tsvangirai and the MDC have the hard task of
devising strategies to deal with an aggressive and crafty rival with a
legendary streak of employing underhand tactics. They have to work, not on
the basis of anticipating victory, but on the very real chance of the
realisation of the worst case scenario.
It will not be easy but this is when the MDC needs to cast its net
wider, draw on the collective wisdom of those that support its cause and put
in place a highly rational yet emotionally balanced strategy to deal with
the worst possible eventuality. It needs to do more than Zanu PF and open
its doors for that collective wisdom to filter through.
Alex T. Magaisa is based at Kent Law School at the University of Kent
at Canterbury and is available at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis e-mail address
Saturday, 31 May 2008 16:51
PICTURE this, in a hall somewhere in a high-density suburb in Harare:
"My name is Tafadzwa (or Marweyi) and I am xenophobic."
You might ask: Why a high-density suburb? In that sector, the jobless
are very likely to be many, proportionately, as there are in Alexandra,
formerly Umuzi O’mnyama, "The Dark City" of apartheid-era Johannesburg.
Anyone old enough to have tasted alcohol, or to have witnessed an
adult, bleary-eyed, open mouth dripping with saliva like a baby, bottle in
hand, zigzagging like a drunken cockroach along the dusty streets of a
suburb, will know the curse of alcoholism .
Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide organisation of reformed
alcoholics dedicated to a cure of this illness. Alcoholism was not always
recognised as an illness.
For its own comfort, society preferred to treat it as something which
people did with their eyes and mouths wide open. In time, as with smoking
and gambling, society recognised alcoholism for the terrible addiction that
it is. Even worse, they realised it could kill — as smoking does.
There have been reassessments of addictions to heroin, cocaine and
mbanje. People had died because there had never been a thorough study of how
such substances, introduced into the human body, could cause lasting damage.
Gambling is now recognised as the disease that it has always been.
It’s unlikely many will slot xenophobia into that same category. For
most people, it is not an illness, although the dictionary definition of the
word "morbid", which is what xenophobia is, says "of mind, ideas, etc,
unwholesome, sickly" (my bold letters).
An organisation with the initials XA — Xenophobics Anonymous — seems
far-fetched. Yet, for our own sake, as Africans anxious to stem the
internecine political blood-letting in which we have indulged since the dawn
of independence in 1957, we’d better take a closer look at the prospect of
this malady mushrooming into something all of us might find too ghastly to
In Zimbabwe, anyone with the name John Sixpence is unlikely to have
forebears named after this former British currency. Their surname is
probably distinctly non-indigenous because they changed it in a desperate
bid to escape xenophobic taunts, which could degenerate into bloodshed.
Other Zimbabweans decide to abandon their real surnames — from their
fathers — and settle for their mother’s, if she is indigenous. If she is
not, then it’s probably back to Sixpence or, in a few bizarre examples,
January or December.
I knew a December, who changed to Tembo when he went to Zambia at its
independence. He didn’t die of old age, as he ought to have, but it probably
had little to do with his unintended masquerade as someone he was not.
You always have to admire Bernard Chidzero who was entirely unabashed
about his origins. There is no evidence, as far as I know, that this caused
him any trauma at all.
But that xenophobia stalks this land of ours is entirely indisputable.
Makhani Kabweza was the editor of the Catholic magazine, Moto, for a
while in the 1990s. We were at a meeting in Harare when he seemed wary of my
introducing an element of the curse of xenophobia into the debate. Kabweza,
who died in a road accident on the Harare-Bulawayo road, was of Malawian
What he meant by referring to "people without totems" being the bulk
of MDC supporters in Mbare has never been satisfactorily or officially
explained by President Robert Mugabe.
Even more curious is the loud silence from totemless Zanu PF members
for an apology or explanation from the president about those utterly
But it’s probably enough to conclude they have retaliated by voting
against his party and himself since he uttered those remarks. Zanu PF will
probably never fare well in that constituency in any election.
What must continue to exercise the minds of politically savvy
Zimbabweans is a thorough re-evaluation of the real meaning of our
This ostensibly full nationhood can no longer be interpreted as the
one goal Zanu PF aimed for when young men and women were inspired to take up
arms against the white supremacists.
There is now a divergence of views on what the fight, in which 30 000
are said to have perished, was in aid of: the improvement of life for all,
the freedom for all who were previously under the jackboot of the
Or the creation of a state in which the majority are bashed, bullied
and battered into submission, by a minority which believes it owes
allegiance only to its selfish ideals of self-enrichment from the
exploitation of our natural resources?
And the perpetuation of a xenophobia anchored on a contempt for
so-called totemless people?
Saturday, 31 May 2008 16:47
ZANU PF has launched a multi-pronged approach couched in the language
of national unity but one whose objective is to ensure they retain power by
any means necessary.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zanu PF’s secretary for legal affairs, speaking in
Kwekwe on Saturday a week ago said his party had accepted that a government
of national unity was "unavoidable" regardless of the outcome of next month’s
presidential run-off, if the challenges facing the country were to be
Mnangagwa, who is President Robert Mugabe’s chief election agent, said
the political and economic crisis Zimbabwe faces could only be addressed if
a peaceful and stable environment existed.
Zanu PF wants to use the concept of a government of national unity to
appeal to and at the same time confuse MDC supporters, with the message that
whether or not they vote for Zanu PF there is no difference since the
parties will both be in government.
However, this proposal is based on an assumption that Zanu PF’s
candidate is unlikely to win, hence the need to save the candidate the
embarrassment of losing, by mooting the idea of a government of national
In order to sell this idea, Zanu PF is using a carrot-and-stick
approach. The stick is the nationwide violence being spearheaded by military
officers that seeks to destabilise the countryside forcing the MDC into bed
with Zanu PF. The strategy is designed to thoroughly intimidate and whip
everyone into line, thus ensuring they vote for Zanu PF’s candidate during
the 27 June presidential run-off.
The carrot is the proposal to reinstate the premiership, abolished in
1987 when Mugabe became executive president. What this enticement is
supposed to achieve is to ensnare the MDC with the prospect of landing the
premiership. Despite the 29 March poll result, Zanu PF has ruled out
conceding defeat. This has its own problems because the 29 March poll gave
Morgan Tsvangirai 47.9% compared with Mugabe’s 43.2%.
But lessons from engaging Zanu PF during the SA-mediated dialogue show
that Zanu PF is not a party to be trusted. It has very little regard even
for agreements it enters into. During the run up to the 1980s parliamentary
elections the two liberation movements agreed to contest the elections as
one, but Zanu PF reneged. Zanu PF’s latest offer has to be seen against this
background. You trust Zanu PF at your own peril.
By sounding conciliatory, Zanu PF is hoping supporters of the MDC both
at home and abroad will prevail on it to consider a government of national
unity. Tsvangirai, during his first press conference since returning from
two months in exile, scuttled the idea of a GNU or engaging Zanu PF in any
kind of talks.
But just to ensure that its candidate is better positioned, most rural
areas have been declared no-go areas, under the oversight of senior military
officers. This is intended to ensure Zanu PF encounters no competition.
And on Tuesday last week the government said it had reintroduced the
long-forgotten food-for-work programme, free education and treatment in
clinics and referral hospitals. This is the extent to which it will go in a
bid to reverse the outcome of the March presidential election and rescue it
from what must surely be its Waterloo.
Voters are angry with Zanu PF because it confuses empowerment with
handouts and that it does not understand that importation of fertilisers,
buses, cars and even soap only help to undermine and de-industrialise local
industries while confusing priorities. Even as it coerces the electorate
ahead of the 27 June run-off, it can’t ensure that electricity, water and
transport shortages, soaring food prices and bank queues will end.
June 01 2008 at 12:06PM
By Patrick Laurence
The arrest of Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice-president of the
Democratic Republic of Congo, in Brussels this week on charges of war crimes
and crimes against humanity is a warning to suspected tyrants the world
over, including - and perhaps especially - political leaders in Africa
suspected of gross human rights abuses.
The arrest has a sharp relevance for President Robert Mugabe of
Zimbabwe as he prepares for the run-off against Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in the second round of
the presidential election in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe who, at the age of 84, is still clinging to power, is suspected
of complicity in crimes against humanity during the crackdown on his
political adversaries in Matabeleland in the 1980s and of human rights
abuses to bolster his power and prolong his rule since the turn of the
Two words resonate ominously in the relatively short history of
post-liberation Zimbabwe: gukurahundi and murambatsvina.
The first means "the rain that washes away the chaff of the last
harvest" and applies to the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade's reign of
terror in Matabeleland.
The second, which was the code name for the destruction of the homes
and property of urban citizens deemed to be supporters of Mugabe's political
opponents, means "remove the filth".
As Elinor Sisulu, the Zimbabwean-born author and intellectual, has
pointed out, the words chaff and filth symbolise Mugabe's contemptuous
attitude towards those who dare to question his political credentials and,
since 2000, the legitimacy of his Zanu-PF government.
The number of fatalities in the gukurahundi campaign has been
estimated to be as high as 20 000 by Pius Ncube, the indefatigable human
Ncube, who resigned as Zimbabwe's Catholic archbishop after being
accused of complicity in a sexual scandal, has been condemned by Nathan
Shamuyarira, a long-serving member of Mugabe's cabinet, as "a mad inveterate
But even if Ncube's estimate is halved to 10 000 - which would put it
in line with the general consensus - gukurahundi is still legitimately
described as a campaign of mass murder, for which many Zimbabweans believe
Mugabe and his senior lieutenants in the ruling Zanu-PF should be held
As Martin Meredith notes in his authoritative biography of Mugabe, the
Zimbabwean leader admitted frankly at the time that the Fifth Brigade was
forged as a party-political formation rather than a military unit to defend
Zimbabwe against foreign invaders.
The forthright quote on the Fifth Brigade reads as follows: "They were
trained by the North Koreans because we wanted one arm of the army to have a
political formation that stems from our philosophy in Zanu-PF."
The relevance to Mugabe of the arrest of Bemba on a warrant issued by
the International Criminal Court is that the octogenarian Zimbabwean
president can no longer assume immunity from arrest when he travels abroad,
though he may still manage to negotiate indemnity in Zimbabwe as part of an
It is equally relevant to note that not even exile in Nigeria could
save Charles Taylor, the former warlord who rose to become president of
Liberia, from indictment for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone.
Taylor is alleged to have formed a "joint criminal enterprise" with
Foday Sankoh's Revolutionary United Front (RUF), in which Taylor purportedly
supplied arms and training to the rebels in return for a slice of Sierra
Leone's diamond trade.
Taylor, the first former African head of state to be indicted for war
crimes, is today facing trial at the International Criminal Court in the
The charges against Bemba relate to his role in 2002 in supporting the
president of the Central African Republic against an attempted coup. The
charges against him arise from his alleged commission of human rights
atrocities against civilians in the neighbouring state.
Another development in the past week is the decision of the Ethiopian
supreme court to sentence Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former Ethiopian
dictator, to death in absentia. Mengistu is living in exile in Zimbabwe,
having been granted refuge there after fleeing from Ethiopia in 1991.
In offering Mengistu asylum, Mugabe defined himself as a sympathiser
of one the most notorious dictators in Africa, one whose vicious quest for
power and brutal defence of it is recorded in The Black Book of Communism.
Mugabe's decisions to protect Mengistu bring to mind the Aesopian aphorism
that a man is known by the company he keeps.
Having sentenced Mengistu to life imprisonment last year, the
Ethiopian supreme court found itself under pressure from the prosecution to
impose the death sentence as one that is more commensurate with the scale of
his genocidal crimes.
One of a cabal of Marxist-oriented military officers who came to power
after the death of Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie in 1975, Mengistu is
perhaps best remembered for his ruthless campaign of Red Terror against
rival contenders for power, communist and non-communist alike.
Contemporary reports estimate that between 1 200 and 2 000 real and
imagined political opponents were murdered during the Red Terror of 1977-78
and whose corpses were thrown into the streets to terrorise the populace
The charge of genocide takes account of the famine that was a sequel
to Mengistu's rise to power and his subsequent decision to turn Ethiopia
into a "people's republic" even as the "people's republics" of Eastern
Europe were heading for the graveyard of history.
The judgment of the Ethiopian supreme court in agreeing to impose the
death penalty is worth quoting (with acknowledgement to Reuters).
It reads: "Crimes committed by Mengistu and his co-defendants by
killing an emperor and burying him under a toilet [are] unheard of in the
annals of human history."
Mugabe's recent attempt to exploit the xenophobia that swept through
South Africa for a fortnight by enticing them to return to Zimbabwe by
offering them land confiscated from white farmers is an exercise in amnesia
if, as seems likely, he thinks that it will win him votes in his run-off
presidential contest against Tsvangirai.
He seems to have forgotten that his government disenfranchised
Zimbabweans living abroad from voting. With the delusional logicality of
dictators, he seems to have assumed he can erase a decade of government
electoral chancery and political oppression with a single disingenuous
He has failed to realise that acting as the political patron of a
tyrant who brought bloodshed and disaster to Ethiopia does not commend him
as a democrat concerned about the welfare to his people.
Patrick Laurence is an independent analyst and a contributing editor
to The Star
This article was originally published on page 5 of Sunday Independent
on June 01, 2008
Sunday Nation, Kenya
Story by KITSEPILE NYATHI, SUNDAY NATION Correspondent, HARARE
Publication Date: 2008/06/01 Zimbabwe’s presidential run-off election later
this month must be giving exiled Ethiopian dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam
Despite being sentenced to death in absentia alongside a number of his
former lieutenants by an Ethiopian court last week, Mengistu still lives
like a king in impoverished Zimbabwe since he fled to Harare in 1991.
But his fate is closely tied to that of his ally President Robert
Mugabe who goes to the June 27 election against his arch-rival, Morgan
Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) with his
back against the wall after an embarrassing first-round defeat in March.
The MDC, which already controls Zimbabwe’s parliament for the first
time since independence, has vowed to hand Mengistu over to the Ethiopian
authorities if it takes power. Mugabe‘s Zanu PF says it is indebted to the
dictator for his role in the fight against colonialism.
“He remains our guest in Zimbabwe. He will remain in Zimbabwe, and we
will protect him as we’ve always done,” Deputy Information Minister, Bright
Matonga said in response to the sentencing.
He said there had been no formal request regarding Mengistu from the
Ethiopian government, but “even if they make the request, he’s not going
On the other hand, the MDC reiterated its 2006 stance following the
dictator’s conviction on genocide charges that it would withdraw the
protection afforded by Mugabe’s government.
“We don’t want dictators on our land,” MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa
“Of course we do not condone killing or the death sentence as MDC, but
we want justice to be delivered to the victims and to the perpetrators so
that there’s restoration.”
When the MDC nearly won the 2000 parliamentary elections and the 2002
presidential elections, Mengistu is said to have considered relocating to
either China or North Korea.
Mengistu, a recluse and enigmatic figure in Zimbabwean politics since
his arrival, is abhorred in the southern African country because of the
feeling of many that he is one of the people advising Zanu PF on how to
silence its critics through murder and torture.
In 2005, acting as Mugabe’s security adviser, he allegedly warned the
Zimbabwean leader that the swelling slum population in the country was
creating a fertile ground for a mass uprising.
He allegedly advised the Zimbabwean government to clear the slums in
an operation that resulted in the death of several people and the
displacement of more than 700 000 urban dwellers.
Mugabe’s government denied the accusations, but the accusation has
stuck with Mengistu, and the opposition is not willing to forgive him.
Mengistu lives in luxury in one of the plush suburbs in the capital,
Harare, with 24-hour security from the police VIP protection unit and the
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) at Zimbabwean taxpayers’ expense.
He was also allocated two large farms, during Mugabe’s land seizure
and is rumoured to own even more homes in Harare.
An activist campaigning for his extradition said that “he (Mengistu)
drives at least six luxury cars, including a Mercedes Benz, a Toyota Prado,
a Toyota Avensis, a BMW and a twin-cab truck.”
He also enjoys a special fuel scheme from the government-owned
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe for personal use and for his farms, and his
vehicles are serviced free of charge at the central mechanical equipment
department, said the activist.
Since his arrival Mengistu’s life came under threat once when two
Eritreans tried to assassinate him at his Harare residence.
The two were arrested and subsequently sentenced to 10 and five years