ROME (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe flew into Rome for a global food summit on Sunday, his first official trip abroad since elections condemned by Western and opposition leaders as fraudulent.
The unexpected presence of Mugabe, accused by domestic critics of running down agriculture and causing food shortages in his own country, could offer a rare opportunity for direct contacts with Western leaders. But Zimbabwean state television, announcing his departure, made no suggestion of bilateral talks.
Mugabe, facing a June 27 presidential run-off against Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, arrived at Rome airport with his wife and a large delegation of officials. He made no comment to reporters.
The European Union has a travel ban on the veteran leader, facing new criticism over an alleged security crackdown against the opposition, because of his human rights record. Since the FAO summit is taking place under a United Nations umbrella, however, the Rome meeting would be open to him.
Around 60 heads of state and government, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who will be making his first trip to Western Europe as Iran's president, are expected to meet in Rome from June 3-5 to discuss global problems of poverty and malnutrition caused by steep rises in food prices.
In 2005 Mugabe attended the FAO's 60 anniversary celebrations where he railed against U.S. President George W. Bush and then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling them "international terrorists" and comparing them to Adolf Hitler.
Gerry Jackson, from the ex-patriate Zimbabwe radio station SW Radio Africa that broadcasts from London, told Reuters: "It is outrageous that he (Mugabe) has been invited to any international forum when he is involved in a state-sponsored, incredibly violent campaign against the opposition."
A British Foreign Office spokesman in London, asked for reaction to Mugabe's Rome visit, told Reuters: "It is a matter of concern to us and we would prefer that he did not attend."
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and is the only leader most Zimbabweans have known, will arrive in Rome with an uncertain political future.
After a lengthy delay in releasing the March 23 presidential poll results, figures from Zimbabwe's electoral commission showed Tsvangirai won more votes but not enough to avoid a run-off. The opposition complained of vote rigging and said Tsvangirai won the contest outright.
The controversy over the election is only the latest in a series of ballot disputes over the years but it is the most serious and analysts say it illustrates the deep frustration Zimbabweans feel about his handling of the country's finances.
Zimbabwe's economy is a shambles. Inflation is 165,000 percent, unemployment 80 percent and there are chronic shortages of basic necessities including food and fuel.
Some 3.5 million people have fled to neighboring countries to escape poverty and malnutrition.
Mugabe accuses Western countries of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy through sanctions imposed to punish him and top ruling party officials for alleged rights abuses and election fraud.
Mugabe, 84, is viewed by many in Africa as an independence hero. But critics say he has run the country into the ground through mismanagement of its once thriving economy and the 2000 redistribution of critical commercial farms to landless blacks with little or no experience in operating them.
Mugabe's last trip to Europe in December for a Commonwealth meeting in Portugal was boycotted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to protest the Zimbabwean leader's participation.
Mugabe was in Italy in 2005, when he attended Pope John Paul II's funeral.
(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe in Harare, Robin Pomeroy in Rome, Paul Majendie in London; Writing by Mary Gabriel, editing by Ralph Boulton)
· Letter tells president there will be 'no country left'
· US says Mbeki warned Bush to stay out of crisis
Chris McGreal in Johannesburg
Monday June 2 2008
The Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has told South Africa's
president, Thabo Mbeki, that he is no longer fit to serve as the region's
mediator in Zimbabwe's political crisis owing to a "lack of neutrality", and
that "there will be no country left" if Mbeki continues to side with
President Robert Mugabe.
The warning comes in a letter from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader to Mbeki made public just days after it was revealed that the South
African president had written a four-page letter to George Bush demanding
that the US president stop criticising Mugabe.
In his letter, Tsvangirai accuses Mbeki of colluding with Mugabe to play
down the deepening political crisis, of blocking UN security council
discussions on Zimbabwe and of trying to facilitate a controversial weapons
delivery from China to the Zimbabwean military.
But some of the strongest criticism is over Mbeki's reaction to the
escalating state-sponsored campaign of murder, violence and arrests against
the opposition in the run up to the run-off presidential election between
Mugabe and Tsvangirai at the end of this month. At least 50 people have been
killed and thousands beaten.
The letter, dated May 13, accuses South Africa's president of ignoring
evidence that Harare was planning the violence, including a leaked
Zimbabwean military document outlining the strategy that Tsvangirai
personally handed to Mbeki.
"When you started mediating, Zimbabwe still had a functioning economy,
millions of our citizens had not fled to other countries to escape political
and economic crisis, and tens of thousands had not yet died from
impoverishment and disease. In fact, since the March 29 election, Zimbabwe
has plunged into horrendous violence while you have been mediating. With
respect, if we continue like this, there will be no country left," writes
"As you know, when 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 resolution of the crisis."
Tsvangirai says Mbeki continued to act as if everything was normal, even
after the Zimbabwean government blocked the release of poll results showing
that Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party had lost.
"Your lack of neutrality became increasingly evident when I arrived to the
Lusaka summit to see you and Mr Mugabe on television together proclaiming
there is 'no crisis' in Zimbabwe," the letter says.
Tsvangirai also accuses the South African government of facilitating the
delivery of weapons via Durban from a Chinese ship that was eventually
turned away by dock workers and legal action.
"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 ... and agree to allow
passage of arms of war purchased by the same government through South
African territory during the troubled post-election period," he writes.
The letter demands Mbeki step down as the Southern African Development
Community mediator on Zimbabwe, as the MDC no longer has confidence in him.
His spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, has denied knowledge of the letter even
though the MDC says it has a receipt showing it was delivered to Mbeki's
office. Ratshitanga has also denied knowledge of the letter to Bush revealed
by the Washington Post last week in an article which quotes an unnamed US
official as saying Mbeki told Bush to "butt out" of Zimbabwe.
But the US embassy in Pretoria confirmed that Mbeki's letter existed and was
delivered to Bush.
Yesterday, the leader of a breakaway MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, was
arrested and charged over a newspaper column criticising Mugabe's handling
of the economy, with inflation now above 1,000,000%, and accusing the
security forces of abuses.
Monday, 2 June 2008
Although it is too late for those who have already lost their lives,
regional African leaders must now surely step in to prevent even more people
being openly maimed, forced out of their homes, and starved by Robert Mugabe
and his ruling Zanu-PF party as part of the scorched earth policy to win the
dubious upcoming presidential election by crooked means.
Although the opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai has been robbed of a
clear victory in the first round of the presidential poll, and unfairly
forced into a run-off vote, regional African leaders, the West and the
United Nations should ensure that bloodshed stops, and the country's
brutalised citizens can venture out in relative safety to cast their vote.
Instead of agreeing to "butt out", as South African President Thabo Mbeki
told George W Bush in a letter that came to light last week, the
international community must now intervene with greater resolve. Setting
aside the odd statement, the West and the United Nations have been
staggeringly timid. China and Zimbabwe's other friends outside Africa must
also put pressure on Mugabe to stop this madness. There is not a moment to
spare. The UN must flood Zimbabwe with peacekeepers and election observers
and insist Mugabe allows all outside media.
Mugabe's brutal precision attacks on those who voted for opposition parties
in March has advanced to staggering levels. It is clear that in his illegal
recounting of the results of the parliamentary poll and first-round
presidential ballot, Mugabe has obtained the districts that voted for the
opposition, and is systematically targeting these communities to batter them
into not voting again.
President Mbeki, having faced the devastating consequences of propping up
Mugabe – and by that I mean the violent attacks against Zimbabweans who had
fled their country and taken refuge in South African townships – must own up
to reality and condemn Mugabe.
The regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the
continental African Union must do the same. Their deafening silence has made
them complicit in the atrocities. Only the most delusional can now say
Mugabe is waging a struggle against Western imperialists. He is waging a war
against his own people.
Mr Gumede is author of Thabo Mbeki And The Battle For The Soul Of The ANC
Monday, 2 June 2008
Less than four weeks remains before the run-off vote for the presidency of
Zimbabwe. In view of the protracted confusion that has been the country's
election, this may not seem very long. Four weeks, though, is plenty of time
for the agents of Robert Mugabe's regime to extend their campaign of lethal
As we report today, a new wave of disappearances, beatings and killings is
well underway, targeting Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change and its supporters. Ndira Tonderai, a tireless opposition
activist, aged only 30, is only the best-known of 50 individuals who have
been killed; up to 25,000 have been driven from their homes.
The fresh outbreak of violence is especially marked in the rural north and
north-east, where the showing for Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party was particularly
poor in March. None of this augurs well for a free or fair election. Mr
Tsvangirai himself has only just returned to Zimbabwe to campaign. He says
he believes his life is no longer in danger. Instilling fear among the
voters seems to be the preferred tactic of Mr Mugabe's coterie. Some fear Mr
Tsvangirai may have surrendered his advantage by his long absence. But it
was always going to take outstanding courage and resolve to dislodge Mr
Simply by agreeing to contest the run-off in an election he believes he won
fair and square, Mr Tsvangirai occupies the moral high ground. But if change
is to be accomplished through the ballot-box, it will require fortitude on
the part of voters who supported the MDC last time around and extreme
vigilance on the part of all the election observers and Zimbabwe's
well-wishers abroad. The opposition has a desperately hard task ahead, but
this time it is not – quite – mission impossible.
June 2, 2008
Two weeks of township violence was too much for expatriate Zimbabweans
Philip Pank in Johannesburg
They fled economic meltdown and repression under Robert Mugabe's brutal
regime. But yesterday, under the cover of darkness, the first mass
repatriation of Zimbabweans in South Africa began.
A convoy of buses left in silence, taking home 700 victims of the xenophobic
attacks that have engulfed South Africa's poor townships. There was little
hope or excitement as the passengers climbed aboard at Germiston, a
satellite town ringed with illegal squatter camps where the poorest migrant
workers had lived until their neighbours turned against them. Such was the
venom meted on them that mothers with sleeping children strapped to their
backs, husbands who had left children and wives, skilled and unskilled were
ready to return to a country riven by political violence.
“It is better to be killed by my young brother than to be killed by someone
I do not know,” said Douglas, 28, a mechanic from Harare. “I was beaten here
and lost everything I worked for for two years, so I am going home without
As he talked about the soaring unemployment in his home country and the
prospect of voting in the presidential run-off election on June 27, three
burly men in leather jackets appeared out of the night. From now on the
agents of Mr Mugabe's regime would never be far from Douglas. Yet he felt he
had no choice but to return.
The same was true of John, 32, who had spent 15 years in the Tokoza
township. He married a South African and was a proud father. But a mob
wielding clubs and knives drove him from his home. “I ran away and had to
leave my wife and kid. Imagine how terrible it makes me feel being forced to
leave the people I love,” he said. But when the men in leather jackets
appeared, his tone changed. “Given the opportunity I have been given by my
Government, I will go home a happy man,” he boomed. “I want to equate this
journey to the journey made by the Israelites to the Promised Land.”
More than 60 foreigners were killed and 650 wounded in two bloody weeks in
the townships as locals accused immigrants of taking their jobs and houses
and of fomenting crime. The violence hit production in the mines, tarnished
South Africa's image, and terrified the migrant workers who kept the wheels
Many fled with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing. Others
managed to salvage at least something. Peter had retrieved the window frames
and metal grills from his home. “I have decided to build another house in
Zimbabwe,” he said, scant reward for nine years spent repairing his
neighbours' mobile phones. “Maybe I can find a place to carry on the same
project. I believe in hard work. I do not expect the Government to find me a
Simon Khaya Moyo, Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Pretoria, was there, handing out
blankets to those shivering under a star-filled night. “Land will be
provided for those who want to be settled on the land. Food will be provided
and the social amenities to get them reintegrated into their communities,”
Asked how a government that is struggling to pay the salaries of key workers
could afford to finance a resettlement programme, he answered: “We must find
money for that. Things are hard everywhere, not just in Zimbabwe.” But
things are about to get even harder for families who rely on remittances
from the three million Zimbabweans thought to be living in South Africa.
The Red Cross reported that thousands of Zimbabweans had fled the townships
for Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana. Until yesterday there had been no mass
movement back home. The violence has achieved one thing that President
Mugabe could not: it has slowed the exodus from his country to a trickle.
By Hatirebwi Nathaniel Masikati | Opinion
Sunday, June 1, 2008 17:18
Public posturing by the Zanu PF electoral campaign team sponsoring
octogenarian party leader Robert Mugabe suggests that the despot will win
the Presidential poll on 27 June 2008 with a resounding and reverberating
landslide. Analyses of events on the ground suggest otherwise that the
converse is the more likely outcome to what his campaign team is attempting
Mugabe’s defeat is no longer the issue but rather the margin and how power
will be wrestled from him and his Junta.
Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu the man Robert Gabriel Mugabe entrusted with the
Information and Publicity portfolio in the immediate past Zanu PF government
has made a startling prediction that Robert Mugabe will win the runoff
Presidential poll with a landslide 75% of the vote.
This is not far from the 70% margin believed to have voted against him on 29
March 2008 and must be understood by the electorate to be the margin Zanu PF
fears he will lose the runoff by.
His wife Grace who hitherto has played a lid back supporting role for the
tired dictator has revealed that her husband will only be removed from
office by a yet to emerge Zanu PF aspirant for the throne is a manifestation
of the fear Mugabe’s handlers have in taking risks of recklessly supporting
his bid to be preside for the sixth successive term since Zimbabwe became a
And they have every reason to be cautious because circumstances are stacked
against a Mugabe victory in the runoff presidential poll whichever way one
looks at it.
Mugabe at 84, reportedly blind and under economic siege took four weeks to
recover from the shocking defeat he and his Zanu PF party suffered on 29
March and half heartedly accepted to participate in the runoff provided his
backers were prepared to guarantee his win at whatever cost to allay real
fears he held that Zimbabwe would erupt into civil strife if he did not
accept the defeat he and his party suffered in March.
After his military backers had managed to suppress any uprising for four
weeks when Presidential election results were being held back to test if
such an eventuality was on the cards Mugabe summoned enough courage to
accept re-entry into the Presidential race runoff misled that first round
winner was in exile because he feared the military reprisals and had no
willing supporters to stand by him against the military repression they have
threatened in the past and are prepared to use to coerce support for Mugabe
in the runoff.
Clearly that was an inaccurate assessment of the political mood in the
country. The only reason why an uprising did not erupt was because
Tsvangirai appealed to his supporters to exercise restraint and allow ZEC
time to finalise the results and announce them before a decision could be
made on what course of action he would take to claim his obvious triumph.
After much pondering Zanu PF agreed for ZEC to award victory to Tsvangirai
in line with general public expectations but ensure the victory was not
conclusive to buy the time needed to recollect the scattered Zanu PF support
and embolden it with the show of muscle in the military that Mugabe is in
full swing implementation throughout the country.
The plan is to bludgeon opponent supporters, displace and scatter them and
ensure they will never brave a step to the polling station come June 27
paving the way for Mugabe’s landslide “re-election.”
That was evident when Tsvangirai was forced to remain “exiled” and his
supporters were believed to have been abandoned by their “cowardly leader.”
Mugabe’s invincibility had been restored so the party backing him thought.
Geriatric campaigners in Zanu PF behind Mugabe’s re-election bid have been
outsmarted by the youthful MDC election machinery behind Tsvangirai at every
turn leading to and after this election and therein lies the reason Mugabe
will be humiliated in the impending runoff.
Mugabe’s age is too advanced for him to be a reputable political force. His
oratory skills may not have diminished but his charisma, emphasis,
coherence, appeal, energy and aura of invincibility has been retarded and
punctured by a combination of old age, failed economic policies and
confirmed defeat in the March 29 elections.
There is total belief that Mugabe no longer has the support of the majority
of the people of Zimbabwe other than that he relies on the military control
to remain in office.
The belief is no longer that he cannot be defeated in elections but rather
that if he is defeated he will resort to military violence to retain his
headship of the country.
Mugabe himself knows that he is too old to be in charge of the country let
alone command an army with any measure of success.
The MDC has convinced many in the military and security ministries that
Mugabe is no longer relevant to them. Only the upper ranks still believe in
Mugabe’s political relevance and are prepared to risk life and limb for his
It is these top security strategists that have rolled out the violent
re-election campaign for Mugabe and have wowed to use their powers to order
their subordinates to campaign for Mugabe, supervise his re-election and
guarantee it by hook or crook.
They have elaborate plans to ensure all National Security personnel vote for
Mugabe thus guaranteeing him between 350000 to 500000 votes.
They will be expected to deliver another 30 000 to 50 000 votes from
assisted polling stations voters and reduce Tsvangirai’s votes by a further
100000 to 200000 votes by slowing down voting processes in perceived MDC
strongholds in cities and towns as well as urbanised growth points.
But the strategy is bound to backfire on Mugabe. The March election results
indicate that between 60-80% of voters in electoral wards where military
personnel are concentrated rejected Zanu PF and Mugabe. At the very
minimum it means whoever Mugabe seconds to ZEC to supervise the elections
here is a likelihood that 60% will be against his bid and will assist voters
to vote against him.
Further there is evidence that all military and security officers that will
be compelled to cast supervised postal ballots will if deployed for
electoral duties vote for Tsvangirai wherever they will be stationed. Those
that will not be on duty will vote again at their wards thus cancelling the
vote or doubling the vote for either candidate in the ward.
A voter turnout of between 60-80% is not an unreasonable expectation for
this election because of the rigging mechanisms Mugabe intends to employ.
The violence visited on MDC supporters real or imagined has increased
awareness of the election among the rural electorate currently suffering the
most from Mugabe’s failed economic policies. The death and injuries suffered
in families and communities have brought them closer to each other
politically and there is more determination among them to avoid retaining
Mugabe and suffering the same violent ordeal when the next election is held
Food supplies are severely inadequate everywhere in the country and Mugabe
has no capacity nor the resources to ameliorate the problem among the rural
electorate whose support he has in the past bought with selective supplies
of food aid.
Inflation is now out of radar and whenever they are found, goods and
services are beyond the reach of most of the rural electorate that Zanu PF
used to abuse and lie to that it was because of the sanctions. They all
witnessed the Police and Army operatives looting shops during the ill
advised Price Wars Mugabe waged and they know that and nothing else to be
the reason why their services are no longer available and expensive.
School fees and health services are beyond reach and the schools have been
deserted by the teachers fleeing Mugabe sponsored military pre-election
violent campaigns. The voters are livid with Mugabe for causing these
disruptions to their children’s education and are determined to see his back
from the President’s office.
It is no longer possible for the people to attend funerals of families,
relatives and friends because of inhibitive transport costs ever on the
increase. The 10 buses per province Mugabe promised before March 29 are
nowhere to be seen, Doctors went on strike for election campaign vehicles
they were promised but never received.
Cash is not easily accessible even if you have positive balances in the
bank, the liberalised foreign exchange regime cannot be supported in cash by
the Banks as they cannot raise the cash equivalent for available forex and
they have to top up with forced deposits in current and savings accounts
whose charges supersede the interests they pay out to depositors and do not
allow withdrawals above $ 5 billion per day or £3.00 at current rates of
The people are asking without finding answers how the rate exchange has
impacted on the national budget and how the obvious deficit will be
financed. The import and export duty regime that charges duty in the 60%
margin for “luxury” imports remains intact even when such duties are paid in
forex whose origins the government does not play a part in creating and duty
rates at source are less than 5%.
Mugabe and his National Bank governor have no explanation as to why they
expect people to pay duties equivalent to tow thirds of the cost of luxuries
when they can buy local substitutes in worthless ZW$’s.
Meanwhile all Mugabe is being fooled to do is to campaign on the delinquent
sovereignty, sanctions and land ownership mantra that no one believes he is
committed to after failing to deliver them the land in 8 years of initiating
His cronies to whom he allocated the land continue to receive government
assistance like farm mechanisation products and fuel that they sell on the
black market without producing food for the nation. Mugabe’s defeat is
scripted in his failed rule over 28 years whose effects he is not
addressing. He is definitely going down on 27 June 2008.
There was anxious discussion at the Vigil of the xenophobic violence in
South Africa. At a meeting afterwards it was agreed that we would ask the
police for permission to stage a protest outside the South African High
Commission in London from noon to 2 pm on Thursday, 12th June.
We will ask the High Commissioner to pass the following petition to
President Mbeki: "Following the recent attacks on Zimbabweans and other
foreign nationals in South Africa we, the undersigned, call on President
Mbeki to take action to ensure the safety of these endangered people and
bring the perpetrators to justice. We urge President Mbeki to end his
support of President Mugabe, allowing a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis
and the return home of exiled Zimbabweans. Zimbabwean blood is at your
Many of our supporters have requested a prayer vigil. We have had many
pastors visiting the Vigil in the past few years and we are pursuing this
Also discussed was the possibility of setting up a fund to support victims
of the election violence in Zimbabwe. It was pointed out that our partner
Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR Zimbabwe) had already
contributed substantial money to support victims of violence, most notably
helping to pay for Tonderai Ndira's funeral and providing Tichanzii Gandanga
with the means to leave Zimbabwe to get treatment in South Africa. It was
agreed that it would be duplication to set up a separate fund and that we
should channel any money through ROHR. Thanks to one supporter who
generously gave £100 as a contribution Mr Gandanga's medical expenses.
We were distressed to hear that the parents of Chengetai Mupara, a founding
member of the Vigil, were beaten up by Zanu PF. What made this worse was
that they were betrayed by Chengetai's cousin Grace Mvududu who stood as a
Zanu PF candidate in the council elections and lost to the MDC. What is
happening in Mugabeland that families are turned against each other?
As the election run-off approaches there is no sign of a let up in the
violence. ROHR's leader Sten says it's too dangerous to sleep in your own
home. It is safer to bed down with the homeless at the railway station.
Thanks to David McAllister who provided us and the Glasgow Vigil with
arresting posters of the violence. These can be seen in two short videos
which have been posted on the Vigil photo site.
For latest Vigil pictures, check:
FOR THE RECORD: 143 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· Fridays, 10.30 am - 4 pm. Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly
Drop-in Centre at The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton
Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Come and share a traditional
lunch of sadza, nyama and relish. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For
more information, contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open
Tuesdays and Thursdays).
· Saturday, 7th June 2008, 2 - 6 pm. Next Glasgow Vigil. Venue: Argyle
Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba, 07770 291
150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 and Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471.
· Thursday, 12th June, 12 noon - 2 pm. Protest about the xenophobic
killings in South Africa outside the South African High Commission,
· Friday, 27th June - Zimbabwe Vigil's Mock Presidential Run-off. More
details as plans firm up.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
His eyes gouged out and his tongue cut off, Tonderai Ndira is one of 50
opposition activists killed in the run-up to Zimbabwe's election
By Daniel Howden and Raymond Whitaker
Monday, 2 June 2008
Tonderai Ndira will not be campaigning when Zimbabwe votes again. He will
not rally his neighbourhood, as he did two months ago, for one last push
against an unwanted regime. Instead, he is buried in an unmarked grave in
the Warren Hills cemetery in Harare. A week on from his funeral, only his
brother knows for sure which of the mounds is his. He will not leave a
marker because he believes state agents are still not finished with the
murdered activist. They would like to dig up his brother's remains to remove
the incriminating evidence.
Mr Ndira's body was only found by accident in one of the capital's morgues a
fortnight ago. His eyes had been gouged out and his tongue cut off. The
30-year-old was so badly beaten his father had trouble identifying him. A
distinctive ring confirmed the identity of a man compared by some to South
Africa's murdered rights activist, Steve Biko.
Mr Ndira, a lifelong campaigner for political change, had been arrested more
than 30 times but kept up his opposition to the government that has led
Zimbabweans to the lowest life expectancy in the world. His remains – a
crushed skull, a bullet wound through the chest and blood-stained shorts –
are a depressing metaphor for Zimbabwe in the aftermath of a stolen
On 27 June, this bankrupt and terrorised country will go back to the polls.
A wave of abductions, punishment beatings and murders of opposition
activists is under way in an attempt to turn the outcome on its head and
prolong the rule of President Robert Mugabe. This effort has entered a new
phase and, while the bodies of the disappeared are starting to turn up in
the mortuaries, more are being abducted all the time. At least 50 have died,
1,500 have been treated in hospital, 25,000 have been driven from their
homes and countless more have lost their livelihoods.
David Coltart, an opposition senator, says violence in rural areas where the
ruling Zanu-PF party did badly in the March poll, mainly in the north and
north-east, has intensified. Speaking in London, the human rights lawyer
said an estimated 25,000 people had been displaced in the past three weeks
and the authorities had begun targeting individuals in the "second and third
tier" of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
It was in this phase that Mr Ndira met his fate. His circumstances echo
those of scores of others victimised in a state-sponsored campaign to beat
the MDC into submission. A veteran of numerous arrests and internments,
beatings and torture, Mr Ndira was accustomed to keeping on the move and
staying one step ahead of the state security apparatus. Two weeks ago,
suffering from exhaustion, he returned home to Mabvuku township outside
Harare. Before dawn, say his family and other witness, a group of about 10
men, some masked and carrying Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles, appeared at his
doorstep and demanded to see him. His wife called out to him and he asked
the visitors to call back later. Instead, they burst into the activist's
home and beat him in front of his two young children, before dragging him
outside and into a truck, bloodied and still in his underwear.
In the weeks that followed his abduction, his family made frantic efforts to
obtain any details about what happened to him. What took place can only be
surmised by the unidentified, broken body that was found in a field in
Goromonzi, 20 miles outside the capital, and taken to the mortuary at
Harare's Parirenyatwa hospital. Mr Ndira was reportedly identified only
after someone recognised the mutilated corpse from its tall and thin frame
and guessed the rest.
It was a fate that would not have surprised the man himself. Interviewed by
the BBC's Panorama programme in 2002, Mr Ndira said: "We are prepared to
die. It is just the same, we are still dying in Zimbabwe. We are dying by
hunger, by diseases, everything, so there is nothing to fear."
Fear is exactly what the Mugabe regime is counting on as it looks to
overturn a first-round defeat that saw 56 per cent of the country voting
against the only president they have known since independence, and saw his
party lose its majority in the lower house of parliament. The octogenarian
leader, who famously boasted that he has a "degree in violence", is relying
on state security personnel backed up by paid militias to prevent a similar
result in the run-off ballot.
The outcome of the first round was withheld for more than five weeks before
the government conceded that Mr Tsvangirai had beaten Mr Mugabe by six
points, though falling just short of an overall majority because a third
candidate, Simba Makoni, took a small share of the vote.
A leading Zimbabwean army general has called on the nation's soldiers to
vote for Mr Mugabe in the run-off or quit the military, the state-run Herald
newspaper reported. The chief of staff, Major-General Martin Chedondo, told
troops: "Soldiers are not apolitical. Only mercenaries are apolitical. We
have signed up 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." He added that Mr Mugabe was head of the defence forces
and "we should therefore stand behind our commander-in-chief". This echoes a
similar statement by the joint chiefs of staff before the first round, in
which they said they would not recognise any government other than that of
Mr Mugabe, and they would refuse to salute Mr Tsvangirai if he won.
The MDC leader returned to Zimbabwe only last weekend, having stayed abroad
for most of the past two months amid fears for his safety. On Friday, he
gave what he called a "state of the union" address in which he called for a
"new era of governance" in the country. Publicly, Mr Tsvangirai has said he
remains confident that Zimbabweans will defy the intimidation campaign.
However, there are serious concerns as to whether a democratic shift is at
all possible. "We are witnessing the actions of a government which has
thrown caution to the wind and will do anything to win the run-off," said Mr
Despite this, he believes Mr Tsvangirai still has an "excellent chance" of
defeating Mr Mugabe. In March, he said, the urban vote was low because of
scepticism about the electoral process. The surprise result that time is
likely to lead to a sharp increase in turnout in Harare and Bulawayo,
increasing the overall vote by up to 300,000, most of which is likely to go
to the MDC candidate.
As of today the death toll from xenophobic attacks totals 62, with 670 injured and 1 300 people arrested and an economic cost still to be determined.
As we all reflect on this unfortunate development in South Africa, one of the most positive outcomes is that an opportunity has been created for a frank and honest conversation about what it means to be African.
Apartheid is buried but the image of what it means to be South African and who is entitled to be a South African may find its roots in the construction of a colonial and subsequently an apartheid state. It is undeniable that white South Africans are as foreign to South Africa as are post apartheid black Africans.
What makes a white South African immigrant a more acceptable face of South Africa than a black African? Could one of the answers lie in the economic definition of black people as well as Africans in the various legislations that have been passed in post-apartheid South Africa?
In terms of South African legislation, black people is a generic term which means Africans, Indians, and Coloureds. It is accepted that the term African is restricted to indigenous people. When South Africans negotiated a settlement to end apartheid, a new definition of a South African was then agreed and crystallised.
Under this framework, white South Africans and black people who were citizens of the country prior to 1994 are the only ones who are entitled to legitimately claim to be authentic citizens in terms of the country’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) definition.
Accordingly, in the context of the BEE project that was framed by apartheid beneficiaries as an instrument of assimilating the black political elites, a new definition of an eligible black for economic empowerment was then coined i.e. historically disadvantaged individual (HDI) or previously disadvantaged individuals (PDI).
The constitution of South Africa was then crafted recognising the historical legacy of apartheid and the need to level the economic playing field. Both black and white political and non-political actors accepted a construction that a black immigrant is not meant to be an economic beneficiary of the post-apartheid dispensation at the expense of black South African persons and notwithstanding any commitment to a pan-African project.
It can then be rationally argued that xenophobia’s roots must be located in the minds of the framers of the BEE project. It would, therefore, be wrong to blame the practitioners of physical violence when the construction of the post-apartheid state had in its foundation an anti-black African immigrant tone.
It can also be argued that xenophobia may not be a reflection of only the attitudes of the perpetrators of violence but a generally held view that South Africa belongs to a certain class of people and benefits of economic progress must be reserved.
Indeed, if economic power can be transferable to black elites on often non-transparent basis through so-called BEE deals then it can be argued that why should the poor not be part of the deal when they all fit into the definition of PDI and HDI?
The following are some of the acts that have been passed by the post-apartheid parliament dominated by the African National Congress (ANC) on which the xenophobic passion may have its roots. These include:
It provides a legislative framework for the promotion of black economic empowerment; empowers the Minister of Trade and Industry to issue codes of good practice and to publish transformation charters; to establish the Black Economic Empowerment Advisory Council; and to provide for matters connected therewith. The Minister is not empowered to look after black emigrants.
Deals with beneficiation activities in the mining sector and clarifies the empowerment requirements in respect of beneficiation activities first contemplated in the Mining Charter
Relevant to the determination of the Human Resource Management criteria of the BEE Scorecard
Dealing with the Mining Charter
Dealing with the Petroleum Charter
Deals with beneficiation activities in the mining sector and clarifies the empowerment requirements in respect of beneficiation activities first contemplated in the Mining Charter. Assented to on 15 April 2006.
The South African Government procurement framework
Dealing with the tax treatment of certain forms of broad-based employee share schemes
Relevant to the determination of the Human Resource Management criteria of the BEE Scorecard
A number of regulations and charters in various sectors have been put in place reflecting the consensus that only pre-1994 black people as defined ought to share the economic spoils of South Africa to the exclusion of black emigrants.
This view is not held only at the lower end of the economic spectrum but is a shared one among blacks and whites.
In the post-apartheid Africa, it has now been accepted that there are two Africas i.e. South Africa and the rest of Africa. In South Africa, it is now an economic and legislative imperative to empower black persons. However, the untapped resources of the rest of the continent are regarded as fair game for the reconfigured/empowered South African enterprises with no policy on empowering the rest of the black Africans.
At the continental level, there is no conversation about the need for pan-African empowerment charter. The absurd development is that South African capital is now being exported on a tricky foundation that is premised on the notion that empowering the pre-1994 blacks is a necessary and sufficient condition for economically colonising the rest of the continent.
Although the decolonisation project was prosecuted on the basis that an injury to one black person was an injury to all, the post apartheid empowerment project is reserved to black persons as defined. Some may legitimately ask how a movement like ANC with its commitment to the pan-African project could end up being the architect of a new Africa that makes black Africans born outside the perimeters of the country be less African than their white and Indian colleagues.
The heritage of South Africa can only confer benefits to black people as defined, ignoring the consequences of the Berlin Conference of 1885 that split the continent into convenient economic units that separated brothers and sisters depending on who was privileged to be the master.
What would be the consequences if other countries in Africa were to adopt the same attitude that only their indigenous people should benefit? In the case of South Africa, the xenophobic sentiment resonates with many white people who genuinely believe that they have a better claim on South Africa than their fellow black immigrants.
It has been argued that the recent xenophobic attacks were motivated by President Thabo Mbeki’s stance on Zimbabwe. A proposition has been made that white and black Zimbabweans anxious for change may have invested in the xenophobic project as a way of encouraging Zimbabweans living in South Africa to return to Zimbabwe and vote as well exposing his alleged hypocrisy.
The anger expressed by black South Africans was as predictable as the consequences of a superficial empowerment process. It is clear that South Africa, through its various laws, has accepted that it is a different African country and black Africans have to take note and plan accordingly.
White South Africans have argued that the country is an attractive destination for black Africans after 52 years of uhuru precisely because they made it happen. They feel vindicated that Africa will never be a viable project without their intervention and control.
If black Africans can in their millions run away from the anti-imperialist legend, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, then it is argued that this is enough evidence supporting the deeply held view that Africans cannot rule themselves and were not ready for independence.
The framers of the colonial state justified the denial of civil and economic rights to black Africans on the basis that they had brought the civilisation that created the state as an institution and to the extent that they gave themselves credit for entrepreneurship that then funded the state, they maintained that they were entitled to exclusively benefit from the fruits of the initiative.
However, in accepting BEE, a new language has been created in South Africa and is supported by law that being a pre-1994 black person one has an entitlement to extract from whites part of what they accumulated during the colonial and apartheid eras.
It must accept that if apartheid South Africa had been governed the same way that for example Zimbabwe has been governed, then surely the influx of black Zimbabweans would be unthinkable. What is not deniable, for example, is that the estimated 3 million Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa are critical drivers of economic growth and they do contribute to the fiscus.
Unlike their white immigrants, black Zimbabweans have failed to invest in being South African in as much as whites have done. Indeed, it would be unthinkable for a black Zimbabwean born South African to aspire to be a Mayor of Cape Town in post-apartheid South Africa, for example, in as much as Mayor Helen Zille has done without attracting xenophobic attacks.
Having lived and worked in South Africa for the past 13 years, I also came to the conclusion that it is important to be part of the solution than be part of the problem. I acquired South African citizenship not because Zimbabwean citizenship is inferior but because I am an economic contributor to the South African project in as much as any other immigrant.
If Indians and whites can be accepted as South Africans then surely it cannot and should not be the case that Zimbabwean-born persons like us should apologise for being part of the South African story.
Recognising that when English people came to South Africa they saw the need of creating an Old Mutual in 1845 to serve their interests and the Afrikaners followed suit in 1928 by creating Sanlam, I am proud to say that I was one of the founding members of Africa Heritage Society (AHS), on the same principles of mutuality that underpinned Old Mutual and Sanlam with the only difference that we do not hold the same racist views that informed the colonial state.
As a member of AHS, I believe strongly that it is important that we begin to engage in conversations about what kind of Africa we want to see. Should we have a black only Africa? Should we have an empowered South Africa only with its empowered companies exporting the model to the rest of the continent? Who is an African? Who should benefit from Africa’s resources? Is the South African BEE-related legislation consistent with the values of pan-Africanism? What would be the implications on Africa’s growth and transformation if other African countries were to cut and paste the South African empowerment legislation and enact similar laws in their countries? – ZimOnline
Shame on the Grace Mugabe! Shame on her!
It was a pity reading that Grace swore at a rally that noone, other than a
Zanu PF member will ever move into the State house. The State House is not
Zanu PF property but property for the Government.
If I were Grace, I would refrain from using such words with a cruel hidden
meaning. Grace is likely to outlive "Baba". Accordingly, so she should avoid
making comments which might implicate her as a party to the on-going
violence, lest one day perpetrators of violence are brought to be answerable
to their atrocious deeds.
Coming from Grace, this is not surprising though, as she is selfish and
immoral. The world has not forgotten that she conceived two children whilst
she was having an adulterous affair with the Robert Mugabe whilst his wife
was still alive.
I pray, voters in the upcoming presidential re-run, will go to the polls in
their thousands to exercise their right to vote. Zanu PF, as a party, has
failed the country and the rest of Africa. Even Mugabe himself knows this.
How would he not know when his own groceries are brought in from South
Africa and other countries. It is also reported that he had to be flown to
Asia for medical treatments.
People are being murdered, raped and tortured on a daily basis and Mugabe
does not openly condone violence and bring perpetrators to justice.
Zanu PF is a party whose only weapon to stay in power is to use violence on
its own people to have no effective opposition. "Opposition" party is
required to give the outside world a semblance of Democracy. If Mugabe wins,
this culture of violence will be there to stay and life is going to be
unbearable for all in Zimbabwe. Zanu PF is a party whose officials act as
though they are "naļve wives" of Mugabe to protect their own selfish needs.
They dare not question his policy or bring up their own views, if they are
likely to be rejected by Mugabe. We have a big cabinet but it's a waste of
money since its ineffective since only the wishes of an ailing 84 year-old
prevails. People of Zimbabwe fought to have peace, joy and prosperity in
their nation not to be under perpetual rule of a violent Party or Leader.