by Tinotenda Kandi Tuesday 03 June 2008
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s government has banned an international
aid group from feeding hungry villagers as Britain and Australia – regular
food donors to Zimbabwe – protested his presence at a global food summit
starting on Tuesday in Rome.
Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche on Monday told ZimOnline that the
government had banned Care International from giving further assistance to
needy communities in Masvingo province while the Harare administration
probes the humanitarian organisation for allegedly using aid to campaign for
Campaigning is in full swing for a second round presidential election that
could see opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai end Mugabe’s 28-year rule
after he defeated the veteran leader in the first round vote in March but
failed to secure the margin required to takeover the presidency.
"The government is launching an investigation into Care International. In
the meantime, that organisation cannot continue with its programmes,” said
Goche, one of the hawks in Mugabe’s government.
He added: “Several other non-governmental organisations involved in food
distribution in Manicaland province will also be asked to cease operations
while we investigate them . . . there is a crucial runoff coming and our
information indicates that NGOs are involved in plans to undermine our
ZimOnline was yesterday unable to get immediate comment on the matter from
Care International. But a Care official, who did not want to be named
because he did not have permission from the group to speak to the media,
said Goche issued the ban last Friday.
The official said: "Care International has never supported the opposition,
neither have we supported the ruling party through any of our programmes.
What could have angered the government is our insistence on assisting people
across the political divide . . . our assistance is non-political and
Mugabe’s government has in recent weeks stepped up pressure against NGOs
that it accuses of using aid distribution as a pretext to campaign for
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told national television last week that
Care International and another aid group, Plan International, were to blame
for Mugabe’s poor showing in the March polls in Manicaland and Masvingo
But the National Association of NGOs on Monday rejected charges that relief
agencies were campaigning for the opposition ahead of the June 27 run-off
Fambai Ngirande, spokesman for the NGO association, instead accused the
government of "moving to stop assistance reaching even those who had been
receiving aid before the elections.”
Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, has grappled with severe food
shortages since 2000 when Mugabe launched his haphazard fast-track land
reform exercise that displaced established white commercial farmers and
replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded black farmers.
A shortage of seed and fertilizer hampered planting while erratic rains for
most of the 2007/2008 farming season has meant yields will be much lower
again this year and international relief agencies will have to step in with
An economic recession marked by the world’s highest inflation rate of more
than 165 000 percent has exacerbated the food crisis, with the government
out of cash to import food, while many families that would normally be able
to buy their own food supplies are unable to do so because of an
increasingly worthless currency.
Political violence, which broke out immediately it became clear that
Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had defeated
Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF in the March polls, has added a new crisis as
thousands of opposition supporters have been displaced by the violence and
require food and other humanitarian assistance.
The MDC says at least 50 of its members have died while more than 25 000
have been displaced in the violence that it says is sponsored by Mugabe’s
government in a bid to intimidate Zimbabweans to back him in the June 27
Ngirande accused ZANU PF militias of blocking aid to victims of political
Meanwhile, the British and Australian governments criticised Mugabe’s
presence at a United Nations summit on food security in Rome, describing it
as “unfortunate” and “obscene” that the Zimbabwean leader could be part of
such a gathering when he was responsible for the collapse of his won country’s
A spokesman for British Premier Gordon Brown told journalists: "We think
it's particularly unfortunate that he's decided to attend this meeting given
what he's done in relation to contributing to the difficulties with food
Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith was more blunt against Mugabe,
telling the media, “Robert Mugabe turning up to a conference dealing with
food security or food issues is, in my view, frankly obscene."
Mugabe, who denies ruining Zimbabwe’s agriculture and blames food shortages
on poor weather and Western sanctions, is banned from travelling to the
European Union under sanctions imposed after he allegedly rigged his
re-election in 2002.
The United States, New Zealand, Switzerland and Australia have imposed a
similar travel ban on Mugabe and top officials of his government. But the
Zimbabwean leader can visit the Western countries on UN business.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation organised the Rome summit. –
Julian Borger in Rome
Tuesday June 3 2008
Robert Mugabe made a surprise appearance yesterday at a world food summit in
Rome, drawing fierce criticism from the British government, which accused
him of causing Zimbabwe's food crisis.
In his first official trip abroad since coming second in presidential
elections in March, Mugabe attended the summit organised by the UN's Food
and Agriculture Organisation to address the global crisis caused by dramatic
increases in the prices of staple foods over the past year.
"This is like Pol Pot going to a human rights conference," Mark Malloch
Brown, the foreign office minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, told the
"Zimbabwe is one of the few countries whose food crisis is not due to
climate change or global prices, but due to the disastrous policies pursued
by Mugabe. One can only treat his presence with a huge dose of scepticism."
Australia's foreign minister, Stephen Smith, described Mugabe's attendance
as obscene. "This is a person who has presided over the starvation of his
people," he said.
An EU travel ban is in force against the Zimbabwean president, but it does
not apply to UN events like this week's summit. Mugabe was granted a waiver
on the ban last year to attend a summit in Lisbon, prompting a boycott by
The prime minister had been contemplating coming to the Rome summit himself.
British officials said the final decision not to attend was not a result of
Mugabe's appearance, but because it was felt that Brown's presence would be
more critical at other summits in the coming months.
Britain will be represented in Rome by the international development
secretary, Douglas Alexander. A British official said he would leave the
chamber when Mugabe speaks.
Ed Schafer, the US agriculture secretary, said yesterday he would not be
meeting Mugabe, and said he hoped the appearance of the Zimbabwean leader,
and of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would not distract global
attention from the food crisis, which has added over 100 million people to
the ranks of the world's hungry in less than a year.
FAO officials said they were not informed until Sunday night that Mugabe
would be representing Zimbabwe in person.
Mugabe came second to opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in the country's
presidential election on March 29. According to official tallies, Tsvangirai
fell short of the 50% needed to win outright, and a runoff vote is due on
The Zimbabwean government has been accused of intimidating the opposition.
Two prominent opposition politicians were arrested on Sunday, and Tsvangirai
cancelled two rallies on Friday because the police told him such gatherings
would only be allowed after the second round vote.
Human Rights Watch also denounced Mugabe's attendance at the summit - which
is aimed at addressing increases in food prices and soliciting more food aid
from donor nations - and accused the Zimbabwean leader of preventing food
aid deliveries to areas with high opposition support.
Carolyn Norris, the deputy director of HRW's Africa division, said: "The
Zimbabwean government is blocking food aid to its own people for political
reasons, so it's ironic he's coming to a food aid summit."
Zimbabwe has historically been a breadbasket for southern Africa, but last
year it only produced half the 2m tonnes it needed to feed its people and
In the months before the country's May harvests, the World Food Programme
(WFP) feeds about 2.4 million Zimbabweans. Britain and Mugabe's other
critics point to his land reform programme in the 1990's as the main reason
for the dramatic decline in Zimbabwe's agricultural output. Land was
confiscated from white farmers in the name of social equity but much of it
went to senior members of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Greg Barrow, a WFP spokesman, said government policy was one of a number of
factors behind Zimbabwe's agricultural collapse. "The government's land
reform has had a substantial impact on food production in Zimbabwe -
commercial farms were producing far more during the 1990s," Barrow said.
"But it's important to recognise other factors: erratic weather, the high
cost of fertiliser and the impact of HIV on the farming community."
Tuesday June 3, 09:42 AM
ROME (Reuters) - The Italian and U.N. hosts of a U.N. crisis summit on
rising food prices on Monday left the presidents of Zimbabwe and Iran off
the guest list of a ceremonial dinner for the leaders attending the meeting.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is able to take part in the conference
only because an EU travel ban on him does not apply to U.N. forums.
And Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on his first visit to Western Europe as Iranian
president, made sure of a frosty welcome by offending Israel on the eve of
Neither was named on the list of guests for the official dinner being given
on Tuesday by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the heads of state attending the June 3-5
summit, Italian media reported.
Western ministers said Mugabe was responsible for the food shortages faced
by millions in Zimbabwe's shattered economy.
"We will not allow the millions of people who can no longer afford a normal
meal to be held hostage by Mugabe," said Dutch Development Minister Bert
British International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said 4 million
Zimbabweans had to rely on food aid because of Mugabe's policies.
"This is not a man with any credibility or any contribution to a discussion
on international food," he said.
The leader of the former British colony arrived in Rome, home of the U.N.
Food and Agriculture Organization, late on Sunday, his first official trip
abroad since March elections condemned by Western and opposition leaders as
Ahmadinejad said before setting off for Rome that Israel would soon
disappear off the map, and the "satanic power" of the United States would be
Israel's ambassador to Italy, Gideon Meir, said the remarks showed that
inviting him to the summit had been "inappropriate."
Ahmadinejad's visit has already created a diplomatic headache for Italy and
the Holy See after he was said to have requested a meeting with the pope and
The Italian government ruled out a meeting, citing time constraints, and the
pope's schedule for the week mentioned no audiences for any of the summit's
heads of state.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Shafer said he would not meet either of the
men in Rome.
"We are glad they're here, we appreciate the opportunity for dialogue, but
it is our position that we will not meet with them," Shafer said.
Britain's Alexander said he would not even shake hands with Mugabe, who has
ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
Inflation in Zimbabwe, once southern Africa's breadbasket, is 165,000
percent, unemployment stands at 80 percent and there are chronic shortages
of basic necessities including food and fuel. About 3.5 million people have
fled to escape poverty.
Mugabe blames Britain for the economic malaise, accusing it of trying to
undermine him and reverse his redistribution of white-owned farms to black
At an FAO gathering in 2005, Mugabe called U.S. President George W. Bush and
Britain's then-prime minister Tony Blair "international terrorists,"
comparing them to Adolf Hitler.
(Additional reporting by Katherine Baldwin in London, Phil Stewart in Rome,
Emma Thomasson in Amsterdam; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
June 3, 2008
A dictator lectures the world on food while his people starve, but the law
may yet catch up with him
Delegations from 162 countries, gathered in Rome to seek ways out of a
global food crisis, will be addressed today by President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
This statement is true in every detail - and yet absurd. Mr Mugabe has long
experience of inflicting hunger, but none of relieving it.
For the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to offer him its most
influential podium at a time of acute international anxiety over food prices
and shortages might, conceivably, expose him to the sort of forthright
criticism from which he is insulated at home. More likely, it will expose
the FAO to the charge of self-parody.
The organisers of the world food summit cannot be faulted for their timing.
Soaring world prices of wheat, meat and dairy produce may galvanise some of
the 50 heads of state attending into co-operative action. Signs of
flexibility at the Doha Round of world trade talks may bring progress on
cutting subsidies that impede poor farmers' access to world markets. Mr
Mugabe's presence, though, is an insult to the UN and the world. The
problems being addressed in Rome are global. Zimbabwe's are local, man-made
and the sole responsibility of its leader for the past 21 years, whose
arrival in Rome on Sunday night surprised protesters (who were waiting for
President Ahmadinejad of Iran) but not police, who gave him and his
substantial entourage an escort to their hotel. On Mr Mugabe's watch in
Harare, Zimbabwe's wheat production has fallen by 90 per cent. Its maize
harvest has fallen by three quarters. Most of its children suffer severe
protein deficiency while most of its farmland lies fallow: the country on
which sub-Saharan Africa relied for cereals until a decade ago has just
imported 600,000 tonnes of maize.
If Mr Mugabe's last visit to the FAO in Rome is any guide, his wife will
take full advantage of the shopping opportunities while his people subsist
in the wreckage of hyperinflation. This time, Zimbabweans are also enduring
the beatings and intimidation of Zanu (PF) "war veterans" preparing the
electorate for a second round of presidential voting this month that they
hope will reverse Morgan Tsvangirai's first-round victory in April. Such
misrule has left Mr Mugabe and his ministers subject to a ban on travel to
the EU. He has been able to circumvent this ban because the summit is a UN
event (see page 18); because Zimbabwe, as a UN member, has a sovereign right
to choose its own delegates; and because he is immune as a serving head of
state from prosecution under international law.
But for this immunity, evidence emerging from Zimbabwe might well support a
prosecution of its leader under the UN Convention on Torture - the
instrument that underpinned the arrest and trial of the former Chilean
President Augusto Pinochet. This evidence will not go to waste. It is being
collected by prosecutors in several jurisdictions, including the UK, for use
in a potential prosecution of Mr Mugabe - should he ever stand down - or of
The FAO has failed to condemn Mr Mugabe or to regret his attendance at the
summit, which Australia and Britain have called obscene. A spokesman drew
parallels with US protests at Fidel Castro's regular appearances at the UN
in New York. A more apt parallel would be with Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former
Congolese Vice-President, arrested last week in Brussels on a warrant from
the International Court of Justice. Such warrants are not lightly issued;
nor should they be. Uncontrolled abuse of international law would be the
result, with frivolous warrants to match every ill-researched grudge. But
there is nothing frivolous about the move to hold Mr Mugabe and his aides
accountable. The Zimbabwean President is making a mockery of the UN and its
food summit, even as his people starve.
20:55 GMT, Monday, 2 June 2008 21:55 UK
While Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe has tried to keep a low profile thus far, he and his entourage have finally emerged into the spotlight from the five-star Ambasciatore, one of Rome's finest hotels.
The restaurant reputedly serves up the very best of Italian cuisine and the wine-cellar is stocked to meet the requirements of the most discerning palates.
But whatever Mr Mugabe and his hand-picked delegation are enjoying, there is no doubt that for the next few days they will be living the sort of life the average Zimbabwean can only dream of.
His companions are acutely aware of how this looks.
One member of staff at the hotel, who did not want to be named, claims the delegation have even brought their own food and chef.
He claimed a row had broken out over the cost of a cup of tea though neither the hotel nor the delegation would confirm the staff member's comments.
Coterie of officials
Mr Mugabe is in the Italian capital for an important UN world food conference being held in response to soaring prices and the growing demand for food.
Despite facing a presidential run-off against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai later this month, he is taking several days out here in Rome with his wife and a small coterie of officials.
The European Union has a longstanding travel ban on the veteran leader but he is allowed to attend UN summits.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) that is hosting the summit said all member countries were invited and that it is at the discretion of each member state who they decide to send.
In an interview with the BBC, FAO director general Jacque Diouf refused to be drawn on whether Mr Mugabe's presence here might be unhelpful.
But Britain's International Development secretary Douglas Alexander did not pull his punches.
He labelled Mr Mugabe's presence "highly inappropriate".
"This is a UN meeting taking place on UN premises," Mr Alexander said. "But I think we must state unequivocally that we don't see Mugabe as gaining any legitimacy from attending this meeting when four million of his people require food aid as a direct consequence of his profound misrule of the country."
As an invited guest and the head of the Zimbabwe delegation, Mr Mugabe will get the chance later this week to address the summit.
Each leader is offered an opportunity to speak for five to 10 minutes.
In 2005 at a similar conference, Mr Mugabe used that opportunity to launch a stinging attack on American President George Bush and then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling them "international terrorists" and comparing them to Adolf Hitler.
He told the major donors not to "foist" their food on his people.
On that occasion he received a round of applause from some African delegations - but times have changed and the response this time will likely be far more interesting.
Mr Mugabe has often dismissed the international concerns for his country and his people, pointing to his greater cause of land redistribution.
But the reality is that because of his policies many Zimbabweans are now desperately hungry and in need of outside food aid.
Inflation is running at over 100,000%, unemployment is at 80% and there is an acute shortage of even the most basic necessities.
On top of that the FAO has pointed to some extremely dry conditions in April which might damage Zimbabwe's maize harvest and further unbalance an already precarious situation.
Mr Mugabe is not the only controversial world leader here at this summit - also attending is the Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - who will be making his first trip to Western Europe as Iran's president - and Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez.
For Mr Ahmadinejad it is a flying visit - he arrives on Tuesday for the opening ceremony and plans to hold a press conference before flying out the same day.
The Iranian leader's presence poses a dilemma both for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and for the Vatican.
Mr Ahmadinejad, had requested an audience with the Pope.
The request prompted days of painful diplomatic manoeuvring, ending with Pope Benedict taking what is seen as the only available way out - he will not be meeting anyone at the conference.
That leaves other world leaders who were looking forward to meeting the pontiff - including Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and several other African leaders - deeply disappointed.
Amnesty International USA Press Release
For Immediate Release:
Monday, June 2, 2008
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150
Amnesty International Demands Release of Zimbabwe Activists Jailed in
(New York) -- Amnesty International mobilized its global network of
activists on Monday on behalf of 14 activists from the Women of Zimbabwe
Arise movement who were arrested on May 28 in the Zimbabwean capital,
Harare, for participating in a peaceful protest and are being held under
harsh prison conditions. The human rights organization fears the activists -
some of whom already have been beaten by police -- are in danger of being
WOZA leaders Jenni Williams, national coordinator of the organization;
Magadonga Mahlangu, a co-leader, and 12 activists were arrested as they
marched to the Zambian Embassy to call on the chair of the Southern African
Development Community to help bring an end to the violence that has been
taking place in Zimbabwe since elections were held on March 29. Some of the
WOZA members were beaten by police as they were arrested. All were being
charged with 'distributing materials likely to cause a breach of the peace.'
Williams has a further charge against her for 'publishing or communicating
false statements prejudicial to the state.'
Amnesty International asked its activists worldwide to call on Zimbabwe's
Minister of Justice to immediately release the activists who were detained
solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of association
and assembly. Amnesty International also called on the government to ensure
that the activists are not tortured or ill-treated and have access to
lawyers and their families, in addition to being provided warm clothing,
blankets and adequate food and medical attention.
Some WOZA members appeared in court on Friday and others on Saturday. After
the individuals were initially granted bail, the state prosecutor then won
an appeal against granting them bail and all were remanded in custody. The
13 women are being held at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and the male
WOZA member is being held at Harare Central Remand Prison. Reports indicate
that conditions in both of these prisons are deplorable and fall well below
international standards. Sufficient blankets and warm clothing have not been
provided to the WOZA detainees, which is of particular concern as it is
currently winter in Zimbabwe. They are being remanded in custody until June
6 when they will appear in court again.
Though WOZA members have been arrested on dozens of occasions, since the
formation of the organization in 2003, the most recent arrests are part of a
wider crackdown on human rights defenders, trade unionists, lawyers,
journalists, election observers and opposition activists, in the wake of the
parliamentary and presidential elections of March 29.
# # #
For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
02 June 2008
Reports of political violence continued to emerge this week from around
Zimbabwe as the country headed towards a high-stakes presidential run-off on
Sources in Buhera South constituency in Manicaland province said militia of
the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, led by prominent war
veteran Joseph Chinotimba, beat villagers at the Jori business center there
Some victims in Buhera South fled their homes and sought refuge at the
offices of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party in Mutare,
Sources in the constituency said militia torture bases have been
re-established at the Jori and Mutiusinazita business centers.
A source in Mashonaland East province said suspected state agents on Sunday
night shot and injured four opposition activists in the town of Mudzi.
The sources said the four were ambushed on their way to Kotwa from
Nyamapanda. ZANU-PF said two of its members were shot dead in the area on
Mashonaland East MDC Organizing Secretary Piniel Denga told reporter Jonga
Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party is having
difficulty transporting the injured to hospitals as the area is "no-go" at
By Netsai Mlilo, Blessing Zulu, Patience Rusere & Martin Ngwenya
Bulawayo, Washington & Botswana
02 June 2008
Zimbabwean opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, constrained
in his campaigning options by police obstruction of rallies, staged a
walkabout in the second city of Bulawayo on Monday as he did in Hwange and
Victoria falls this weekend.
Officials in those two cities blocked rallies by the founder of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change by closing off access to the
planned rally venues.
From Bulawayo, correspondent Netsai Mlilo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
reported on Tsvangirai's visit on foot to a number of Bulawayo districts and
Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu after his campaign on foot in
Bulawayo that he was energized by the enthusiastic response from the voters
In Harare, meanwhile, rival MDC formation chief Arthur Mutambara was
expected in court Tuesday for arraignment on charges arising from the
publication in April by the Standard newspaper of an article he wrote
blasting President Robert Mugabe.
Police arrested Mutambara on Sunday at his home in Marlborough, Harare.
Sources said he was being held at the Matapi police station in Harare's
Also in custody on Monday was parliamentarian-elect Eric Matinenga of the
Buhera West constituency in eastern Manicaland province, arrested Saturday
for allegedly inciting violence. He was headed for Mutare magistrate's
Mutambara's lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, told reporter Patience Rusere that not
only was his client being held without cause, but the place of his detention
was inappropriate as the Matapi police station has been condemned as unfit
for human habitation.
National Constitutional Assembly Director Earnest Mudzengi said Mutambara's
arrest looked like an afterthought, as the editor of the Standard, Davidson
Maruziva, was arrested last month for publishing the offending article.
From Botswana, correspondent Martin Ngwenya reported that some Zimbabweans
who fled political violence say they're ready to go back home to vote in the
presidential election run-off set for June 27, as many of them are finding
life tough in Botswana and are determined to try to bring about change
through the ballot box.
by Patricia Mpofu Tuesday 03 June 2008
HARARE – Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the small faction of Zimbabwe's
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, is expected to
appear in court today to face charges of publishing falsehoods and contempt
of court, his lawyer said last night.
Mutambara was arrested at his suburban home in Harare on Sunday morning by
armed riot police who locked him overnight at Harare Central police station.
Harrison Nkomo, the lawyer for the politician, said his client would be
brought to court in the morning today.
“He is coming to court tomorrow (today) morning. They say he is facing
charges of publishing falsehoods and for contempt of court for an opinion
article he wrote in April," said Nkomo.
The article in question was published in the Standard newspaper, a popular
weekly, which is among the few remaining independent papers in the country
after the government banned several papers since 2003.
Mutambara accused President Robert Mugabe in the article of running down
Zimbabwe’s economy and charged that state security forces had committed
human rights abuses.
The Standard’s editor, Davison Maruziva, was last month arrested over the
same article but is out on bail.
Media freedom watch-dogs fear there is an intensified media crackdown in the
run-up to the June 27 presidential run-off pitting President Robert Mugabe
and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who outpolled the incumbent in the first
round of the presidential poll on March 29.
On May 23, a South African truck ferrying 60 000 copies of The Zimbabwean on
Sunday, an independent newspaper critical of Mugabe’s rule, was torched by
suspected state security agents who brandished AK-47 rifles, in just one
example of the immense difficulties Zimbabwean journalists face ahead of the
presidential run-off poll. – ZimOnline.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)
2 June 2008
Posted to the web 2 June 2008
The editor of the "Midlands Observer", Flata Kavinga, was threatened by a
war veteran on 29 May 2008. The newspaper is based in Zimbabwe's city of
Kwekwe in the Midlands province.
According to Kavinga, he was approached by the war veteran named Diva while
he was standing in a queue in a bank. Diva began by asking Kavinga if he
knew the "Midlands Observer" editor because there was a "programme of
action" to deal with him. The war veteran accused the newspaper of being
pro-opposition by supporting the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
writing articles critical of the state. Furthermore, he accused the paper of
being anti-government, alleging that it only publishes articles meant to
Upon notifying Diva that he was in actual fact the editor of the newspaper
in question, Kavinga was told to be careful or face the consequences.
Subsequently, on 1 June, another "Midlands Observer" journalist, Kudakwashe
Zvarayi, was threatened by some top ZANU-PF officials of the Kwekwe
district, after being spotted putting on a MISA-Zimbabwe World Press Freedom
According to Zvarayi, the officials said: "Who are you to demand media
freedom? Who has deprived you of this freedom which you are clamoring for?
If you continue putting on this t-shirt we are going to beat you up and burn
the T-shirt also."
MISA-Zimbabwe condemns the threatening and harassment of media practitioners
going about their professional duties, especially in light of the increase
in the number of journalists who are being wantonly victimized for writing
articles viewed to be "unfavorable" to the interests of certain individuals.
MISA-Zimbabwe calls upon the authorities to bring to justice perpetrators of
politically- motivated violence against journalists and ordinary citizens of
Zimbabwe. This is especially urgent in light of the post election violence
which has become rampant in the rural areas in the run-up to the run-off
elections scheduled for 27 June 2008.
By David Gollust
02 June 2008
President Bush Monday appealed to African countries and others to "blanket"
Zimbabwe with election monitors in the face of increasingly tough tactics by
the Robert Mugabe government against the opposition. Mr. Mugabe faces
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a presidential run-off vote June 27.
VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
The White House appeal, and similar comments by the State Department,
reflect growing worry among U.S. officials and other observers that
President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party will seek to rig the runoff poll
regardless of the cost to country's international standing.
The run-off campaign has been marred by the reported deaths of more than 50
opposition activists and the beatings of many others by pro-government
Sunday police arrested two prominent opposition figures, one a newly elected
member of parliament and the other an MDC factional leader who a month ago
published an article critical of Mr. Mugabe.
In a written statement, President Bush deplored what he said was the use of
government-sponsored violence, unwarranted arrests and intimidation,to
prevent the MDC from campaigning freely in advance of the run-off.
Mr. Bush called on the Mugabe government to allow a free and open campaign
and urged the Southern African Development Community, or SADC, the African
Union, the United Nations and other international organizations to blanket
the country with election and human rights monitors.
Earlier, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said the world community
has an obligation to act.
"It is incumbent upon us, as well as other members of the international
system, to apply as much pressure and leverage as we possibly can to see
that a run-off election is executed in such a way that people can actually
vote their conscience, that they can vote for the candidate of their choice,
that people are able to do so in an environment free of threat or
intimidation, and that candidates have an opportunity to use the media, use
whatever public media they would like to use to get out their message," said
SADC, a 14-nation southern African regional grouping, along with neighboring
countries, South Africa and Botswana, have said they intend to increase
their monitoring presence in Zimbabwe from the contingents provided for the
President Mugabe has depicted his opponent Mr. Tsvangirai as a stooge of
foreign powers that want to restore white rule in Zimbabwe, and has
threatened to expel U.S. ambassador Jame McGee for alleged political
Asked if the State Department had a contingency plan for McGee's expulsion,
McCormack said the whole U.S. diplomatic staff in Harare is focused in part
or entirely on election issues and said the embassy will continue to speak
out and be a "beacon for freedom."
In his statement, President Bush, noting Mr. Mugabe's presence at the UN
food summit in Rome, also expressed concern about reports that "misguided
government policies" could lead this year to one of the worst harvests in
the Zimbabwe's history.
He said the United States, a major food aid contributor despite its
differences with Mr. Mugabe, will continue efforts to prevent what he termed
"government-induced starvation" in Zimbabwe.
by Cuthbert Nzou Tuesday 03 June 2008
HARARE – The European Union (EU) has criticised political violence in
Zimbabwe, which the southern African country’s opposition says has killed at
least 50 of its members and displaced thousands of others.
The powerful bloc – that has maintained visa and financial sanctions against
President Robert Mugabe’s government since 2002 as punishment for rigging
elections and violating human rights – called for an end to
“state-sponsored” political violence ahead of the country’s June 27
presidential election run-off.
“The EU strongly condemns the state-sponsored campaign of violence and
intimidation against Zimbabweans that has been increasing throughout the
prolonged electoral process and calls for an immediate end to the beatings,
tortures, killings and other human rights abuses,” the EU external relations
council said in communiqué released in Brussels on Monday.
“The Council calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to ensure a level playing
field and a secure environment conducive to ensuring that the results of
forthcoming second round will reflect the free and democratic will of the
Zimbabwean people,” it said.
The second round election is being held after opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a first round vote in March but failed to
secure the margin required to take over power.
Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe of unleashing the army and ruling ZANU PF
party militia to beat, torture and murder supporters of his opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
However the government denies the charges and over the weekend alleged that
MDC supporters shot dead two ZANU PF members in the rural district of Mutoko
in what it said was a campaign of political violence by the opposition
The EU council urged Zimbabwean electoral authorities to ensure all
candidates and supporters are able to participate safely and fully in the
electoral process, adding that the EU was ready to observe the run-off
election if invited.
“The EU remains ready to deploy an EU election observation mission, if the
right conditions are met, yet the EU notes that no invitation has been made
to the EU as of today,” the council said.
Mugabe has banned the EU countries and other Western nations from observing
Zimbabwe’s elections, limiting invitation only to what he has described as
friendly countries and organisations.
The friendly election observers routinely pass Zimbabwe’s polls as free and
fair despite rampant political violence, including the murder of opposition
supporters that has accompanied the southern African country’s polls since
1999. – ZimOnline.
by Cuthbert Nzou Tuesday 03 June 2008
HARARE – Zimbabwe Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo is this week
expected to appoint commissions to run the country’s rural and urban
councils until a June 27 second round presidential election pitting
President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Impeccable sources in the government said local councils throughout the
country were unable to take major decisions because new councillors elected
on March 29 were yet to meet and commence their work.
“Chombo is going to appoint commissions to run councils to deal with the
leadership vacuum in councils,” said one government official who spoke on
condition he was not named.
“The commission will remain in power until the run-off as Chombo has adopted
the attitude that the councils, like parliament, cannot meet or exercise
their functions until the winner of the presidential run-off election has
been declared and sworn in,” the official added.
The sources said a commission to run Harare would be appointed on Thursday
and tipped Engineer Michael Mahachi to head the stand-in authority.
Mahachi was the head of the Harare Commission before the combined
presidential, parliamentary and local government elections in March.
“By the end of the week, several councils would have commissions to run
them,” another source said.
“Crucial decisions have to be made by the councils and the commissions can
make such decisions.”
Chombo – who like other ministers is only holding fort pending formation of
a new government by whoever wins the month-end run-off election – yesterday
declined to confirm or deny the appointment of the commissions. He however
insisted that the government had put in place a mechanism for councils to
“I have no answer on the commissions issue. We have made sure that the
councils remain operational and we will continue to do that,” he said. “On
whether this will be done by commissions or anyone else remains our baby.”
Lawyers in Harare argued that Chombo should have ordered the new councils to
start their work and not wait for the outcome of the presidential run-off.
They argued that while the Constitution of Zimbabwe expressly states that
the life of the new Parliament is deemed to commence when the president is
sworn in, there is no similar provision for local councils in either the
Constitution or the Urban Councils Act or Rural District Councils Act. –
This morning it is cold here at Msasa Hill. Both Mrs Moyo and I are wearing thick jerseys and she has wrapped a thin, colourful blanket around her to keep her legs warm.
All around the neighbourhood you can hear generators humming and, in the far distance, the drone of cars, morning traffic going into the city. The garden is starting to turn brown as the dry winter sets in and we are having to remember to fill the birdbaths almost daily now.
Mrs Moyo is hanging washing out on the line at the back of the house; I know she is there because I can hear her singing. Whenever Mrs Moyo is troubled and battling with her emotions, she sings Shona hymns while she is working. She knows many hymns, having been taught them as a child growing up in a village in the rural areas.
When she sings she calls out from deep within herself to “Baba” to help her find the inner strength to carry on. Sometimes Mrs Moyo sings with such passion that her voice spills out into the neighbourhood.
In Zimbabwe it is not easy to get the news and by that I mean the bare bones, the truth, of what is happening in the country. There is a man who sits on a tin can, day in and day out, on the street corner just up the road, who sells newspapers. Every day when I am driving my son home from school we pass him and wave, and he waves back. At the end of the week we stop and buy the newspapers, which I read from cover to cover.
Across the road from where he sits someone has erected a small wooden cross, which is always lovingly tended. A daily reminder to all who pass this way that life is fragile and precious.
Most Zimbabweans cannot afford news papers so they rely on “bush telegraph”, news passed by mouth from person to person.
Two days ago Mrs Moyo arrived at work weeping and weeping. She had received news that her elderly uncle, a cotton farmer who lives in the rural village where she grew up, had been beaten. Beaten so badly that he could not speak.
I have met Mrs Moyo’s uncle. Once a year he comes to the capital to cash the cheque he gets for his cotton crop. He arrives here, at Msasa Hill, wearing a musty suit that is brought out only once a year, for this trip. Mrs Moyo treats him with the utmost respect. She cooks for him and looks after him until he catches the bus back to the village.
When he is here we worry, warning him again and again to be careful. These unsophisticated cotton farmers are unmistakable in their “once-a-year suits” and easy prey for thieves in the city.
When BabaTeki (Mrs Moyo’s husband) got extremely ill and as thin as a pencil, we took him to the young Shona doctor at the top of the road.
She said to me: “Take him back to his rural home. You will be surprised, the people will come and help him. They will share their food and care for him. Then God will decide whether he will live or not.”
It was this elderly cotton-farmer uncle who gave Mrs Moyo support when BabaTeki’s life faded away when he was only in his 30s.
In Zimbabwe, the people working in the city are very connected to the rural areas. This is where the children are being looked after by their grandmothers, and the bodies of the dead are brought back to be buried. This is where you will find the soul of the country.
Word is coming in, passed from person to person, that all is not well. People in the city are deeply anxious about their rural relatives.
The people living in rural Zimbabwe are being called upon to vote “one last time”. Responsibility for the future of the country and peace in southern Africa has been placed squarely on their already overburdened shoulders.
Africa is being called to unlock itself from its past and forge itself a new and positive future. It is being called on to dig deep and find the good that exists in abundance, but so far goes untapped.
Later in the day Mrs Moyo builds her evening fire — no power again today. As she deftly breaks sticks she sings, calling on “Baba” to help her find her inner strength to carry on. Her voice spills out beyond the walls of Msasa Hill and into the surrounding neighbourhood.
I swear, on still cool nights like this, her voice will carry as far as the border and into South Africa.
03 June 2008
Statement issued by Patrick Craven June 2 2008
The Congress of South African Trade Unions strongly condemns the arrest of
Arthur Mutambara, leader of a faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), on a charge of writing a derogatory article about
President Robert Mugabe, and the police ban on two MDC rallies in Hwange and
Victoria Falls that were to have been addressed by its leader Morgan
Both these incidents confirm that conditions for a free and fair
presidential run-off election do not exist. The mere fact that 'writing a
derogatory article' about your electoral opponent is defined as a chargeable
offence, together with the charging of the editor of The Standard, in which
the article appeared, with 'publishing falsehoods', prove how far from free
and fair the environment is.
These latest events take place in the context of the ongoing state-sponsored
campaign of murder, violence and intimidation against opposition supporters,
the eviction of thousands from their homes and the propaganda of the
state-controlled media. It is becoming more and more obvious that the Mugabe
regime which was defeated in the 29 March elections is determined to steal
back the election and deny the people of Zimbabwe their democratic right to
elect a government of their own choice.
This calls into question the role of SADC and its chief mediator, President
Thabo Mbeki. COSATU notes the letter written to him by MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai which accuses President Mbeki of "complicity" and secretly
conniving to perpetuate Robert Mugabe's rule. It charges him of lacking
neutrality, dividing the MDC, blocking United Nations discussions on
Zimbabwe and helping Mugabe's government acquire weapons.
The federation repeats its view that what is happening in Zimbabwe is a
brutal onslaught from a regime that is hell-bent on stealing the elections,
clinging to power and imposing its will through violence. Mugabe's
'government' has been illegal since its term of office expired at the end of
March when the people voted and COSATU again calls the governments of Africa
refuse to recognise this illegal despot.
In the meantime, COSATU demands the urgent dispatch of a greatly increased
number of SADC, AU and UN observers to monitor the election campaign and
expose the regime's anti-democratic practices, and urges civil society to
remain vigilant and mobilise their forces to defend democratic rights.
Statement issued by COSATU June 2 2008