The Times, SA
By Fanuel Jongwe, Sapa-AFP Published:Jun 04, 2008
The detention of Morgan Tsvangirai Wednesday highlights the mountain of
obstacles facing Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change in its
bid to oust Robert Mugabe at an upcoming run-off poll.
a.. While the first round of voting on March 29 was largely peaceful,
political violence has since risen steadily and the Movement for Democratic
Change says 58 of its supporters have been killed ahead of a second round on
Tsvangirai should in theory be odds-on favourite to end Mugabe's 28-year
rule after falling barely two percentage points of an outright majority in
the first round on March 29.
But killings of activists, runs-in with the law involving several of its
leading lights, a virtual ban on rallies and a lack of access to the media
has led the party to dismiss the chances of a free and fair poll.
"It's a typical race where one of the competitors' legs and hands are tied,"
said chief MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
Chamisa said the MDC had planned to hold 12 rallies before the June 27
run-off but has so far only been able to go ahead with two of them and
access to the airwaves had also been blocked.
Tsvangirai had been due to address two of the rallies at the weekend but was
prevented from reaching the stadiums by police.
While campaigning in the city of Bulawayo on Tuesday, Tsvangirai said Mugabe
was "determined to turn the whole country into a war zone... but we will not
However his detention on Wednesday - along with the party's vice president
Thokozani Khupe and chairman Lovemore Moyo in the southwestern Lupane
region - did literally bring his campaign to a halt.
Unable to hold rallies, Tsvangirai has used other platforms such as press
conferences, a self-styled state-of the nation address and even orations at
the funerals of slain party activists to address supporters.
After spending around six weeks abroad after the election, Tsvangirai
delayed his return after an assassination plot was allegedly unearthed and
is always accompanied by a posse of minders.
His campaign has also been hampered by the arrests of four lawmakers on
various allegations ranging from inciting public violence to paying party
activists to beat up supporters of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
The newly-elected lawmaker for Buhera West Eric Matinenga has been in
custody since Saturday after he was accused of paying MDC youths to attack
pro-Mugabe war veterans.
But according to the MDC, Matinenga was arrested when he drove to Buhera to
visit party supporters who had been arrested following clashes with ZANU-PF
Three other MPs are currently out on bail as is Arthur Mutambara, leader of
a breakaway MDC faction, who was arrested on Sunday over an opinion piece
which was heavily critical of 84-year-old Mugabe's rule.
While giving Mugabe's campaign generous coverage including a live broadcast
of his campaign launch on May 25, the same has not been extended to
Tsvangirai despite a pre-poll agreement guaranteeing equal access to the
"The official media made nonsense of equitable election reporting
regulations under the country's electoral laws by relaunching a full-blown
propaganda campaign for ZANU-PF ahead of the presidential election run-off,"
said a media watchdog, the Media Monitoring Project in a statement.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said the
prevailing conditions could change the voting pattern from the March 29
pattern when the MDC won the majority of the seats in the 210-strong
"Prior to March 29 there was no violence, torture and murder and these new
development are likely to upset the March 29 results because of the negative
variables as a result of the violence," Masunungure told AFP.
By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION Correspondent
Last updated: 4 hours ago
Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, says the army has
sealed off the countryside to stop him from campaigning ahead of the June 27
Mr Tsvangirai, who beat Mr Mugabe in the initial poll in March but failed to
garner enough votes to avoid a second round, has been finding it difficult
to campaign since he returned home two weeks ago after more than a month
operating from Botswana and South Africa.
His Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Wednesday said police had told
the opposition leader that his security was not guaranteed if he ventured
into the heavily militarised rural parts of south-western Zimbabwe, which
are opposition strongholds.
The party is being blocked from reaching some rural areas, Mr Mugabe's
former strongholds, and denied access to the public media, further crippling
"I don't mind soldiers having an opinion about who they want to vote for,
but certainly a coercive military strategy to force people to support Mugabe
and to be active in the campaign has very dangerous consequences," Mr
Zimbabwe is gripped by worsening political violence, which has claimed
scores of lives, mostly MDC activists.
The MDC and human rights organisations accuse the army, police and
intelligence units of waging a covert but brutal campaign against the
opposition in a bid to save Mr Mugabe's political career.
"It's tantamount to a military coup, and I think that in Africa today, one
of the most condemned actions is a military coup," Mr Tsvangirai added.
Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF, which also lost its parliamentary majority to
the MDC for the first time since independence in 1980, is free to campaign
anywhere in the country and does not need police clearance to hold rallies.
Attacks on, and arrests of, opposition leaders and activists, civic leaders,
journalists, lawyers, diplomats and ordinary people accused of dissent have
created a climate of fear, a little more than three weeks before the
At least 74 MDC supporters were arrested at the weekend, bringing to more
than 500 the number of the party's supporters picked up since March.
Fourteen members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, a pro-opposition group, were
arrested in Harare for protesting.
The MDC says 50 of its supporters have been killed since the March 29
Last week, state media reported that police were still keen on arresting
Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary general who is in temporary exile in South
Africa, on allegations that he violated the Electoral Act by announcing the
outcome of the presidential poll before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
The elections were beset by controversy after the electoral commission
failed to release presidential poll results for more than a month, forcing
the opposition to release its own tally, which showed that Mr Tsvangirai won
an outright majority.
But the official results indicated that the opposition leader had won 47 per
cent of the vote against Mr Mugabe's 42 per cent, making the run-off
The MDC says the majority of its leaders in the provinces are already behind
bars on charges of inciting violence.
"They are trying to cripple the electoral capacity of the MDC in every way.
Many of our leaders in the front line have been killed, abducted, beaten and
generally harassed," Mr Eddie Cross, a senior MDC executive member said.
"They are working in every field to reduce our capacity to campaign and win
the run off -radio stations are being jammed, newspapers burnt and
Recently, 60,000 copies of The Zimbabwean and the vehicle they were in were
Meanwhile, it has emerged that President Mugabe's government is using food
as a weapon ahead of Zimbabwe's June 27 presidential run-off election,
U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch said.
"The decision to let people go hungry is yet another attempt to use food as
a political tool to intimidate voters ahead of an election," said Tiseke
Kasambala, the rights group's researcher for Zimbabwe.
"President Mugabe's government has a long history of using food to control
the election outcome."
Zimbabwe's once prosperous agricultural sector has collapsed since 2000,
when Mugabe's government began seizing thousands of white-owned farms as
part of a land redistribution policy designed to help poor blacks.
Many of the farms have ended up in the hands of senior officials with Mugabe's
ruling ZANU-PF party and other supporters, while others have been tilled by
farmers who lack experience and capital.
Zimbabwe now suffers chronic shortages of meat, milk, bread and other basic
foodstuffs and relies on imports and handouts from foreign governments and
relief agencies to feed its people.
Mugabe blames the country's economic collapse on sanctions imposed by foes
in the West.
CARE had planned to start a food distribution programme in Zimbabwe before
it was suspended last week, said Ken Walker, the group's communications
manager for Africa.
CARE, which employs some 300 people in the economically devastated nation,
denied that its staff had been engaged in any political activity, including
supporting Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.
"CARE has strict policies against political involvement and categorically
denies the organisation has encouraged or tolerated any political activity,"
Ken Walker, the group's Africa communications manager, said, confirming the
Walker said the group had planned to begin a food programme in Zimbabwe,
which is suffering chronic food shortages in the wake of the collapse of its
once prosperous agricultural sector.
He said it had requested further details on the suspension.
Social Welfare, Minister Nicholas Goche refused to confirm or deny that CARE
had been forced to stop its activities.
He also would not comment on reports other relief groups had also been
ordered to stop their work in the country.
A senior Zimbabwean official said that CARE and other suspended
non-governmental agencies would only be allowed to pursue their work if they
swore off involvement in politics.
"If they want to continue with their programmes, they know what to do. They
must choose between politics and genuine humanitarian work," Deputy
Information Minister, Bright Matonga said, adding that Zimbabwe did not want
to rely on NGOs.
Mugabe faces a tough battle in the election run-off against Tsvangirai, who
defeated the veteran ruler in the March 29 presidential poll, but did not
win enough votes to avoid a second round.
The MDC says 50 people have been killed by Mugabe's supporters and soldiers
and ZANU-PF activists were beating and threatening to shoot Zimbabweans who
wanted to meet and support Tsvangirai.
"Mugabe is determined to turn the whole country into a war zone in order to
subvert the will of the people and steal the June 27th election by any means
possible," Tsvangirai said while campaigning in Bulawayo on Wednesday.
Mugabe and his ZANU-PF say the opposition is responsible for violence.
But there are signs that Mugabe's government is clamping down on his
perceived enemies ahead of the run-off.
Three South African drivers for Sky News were ordered jailed for six months
on Monday after they were caught with unregistered broadcasting equipment
after the elections in March, a state-run newspaper reported.
The trio pled guilty last week to violating part of Zimbabwe's tough media
laws, which critics say are aimed at stifling dissent against Mugabe, who is
notoriously hostile to foreign media, especially from former colonial ruler
Earlier on Tuesday the leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, Arthur
Mutambara, was released on bail after his arrest for publishing an article
critical of Mugabe.
A court in the capital Harare ordered Mutambara freed on bail of 20 billion
Zimbabwean dollars ($28) after he appeared to face charges of contempt of
court and communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state.
Mutambara was ordered to appear in court on June 17. He also cannot leave
the nation until the case is resolved.
"What has happened is nothing compared to what the people of Zimbabwe are
experiencing. Mugabe is violating the human rights of our people," a defiant
Mutambara said after his release, accusing the government of a crackdown on
Mutambara made a similar accusation in an article published on April 20 in
the Standard, a privately owned weekly newspaper.
He criticised Mugabe's handling of the March 29 elections and questioned his
government's right to stay in office. He was arrested on Sunday.
Additional reporting by Reuters
June 5, 2008
By Raymond Maingire
LUPANE - Opposition MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was finally released
Wednesday night after he spent more than 10 hours in police custody.
The opposition leader, who is campaigning ahead of a presidential run-off
election against President Robert Mugabe, was arrested at a roadblock in
Lupane together with his deputy, Thokozani Khuphe and national chairman,
Several more party members who include his party's provincial officials were
Tsvangirai is on the campaign trail of Matabeleland North province ahead of
the high stakes June 27 poll.
George Sibotshiwe, spokesperson for the MDC leader told The Zimbabwe Times
by telephone Wednesday night that Tsvangirai was finally released at 10.30
pm Zimbabwe time after police had recorded a warned-and-cautioned statement
"He has just been released," Sibotshiwe said, "Police say he violated a
section of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) by walking around in
Tsvangirai was released together with all members of his entourage who had
also been held.
Repeated efforts to seek comment from police spokesperson Assistant
Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijenna were fruitless as he was not reachable on his
But undeterred by the incident, the MDC leader is reportedly going ahead
with his campaign in Matebeleland where he enjoys massive support.
The MDC accuses President Mugabe of frustrating its efforts to campaign
freely by employing a combination of intimidation on its supporters and the
banning of its rallies.
On Tuesday police in Matabeleland South denied Tsvangirai permission to hold
a rally in the Manama area.
The police alleged the MDC leader's security could not be guaranteed
allegedly due to the presence of Zanu-PF militia and soldiers who had been
spotted in the vicinity of the venue of the proposed rally.
The MDC leader beat President Mugabe during the first round of the election
on March 29.
Political analysts say only a miracle can save Mugabe from looming electoral
defeat after losing nearly 57 percent of the overall vote to his
challengers, Tsvangirai and losing independent candidate, Dr Simba Makoni.
But the former guerilla leader is still adamant he can overturn his
He blames his defeat on "rigging" by the MDC through its sympathizers within
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), among other reasons.
But the MDC has rubbished the claims, arguing that Mugabe has a stranglehold
on all state institutions, including the highly controversial ZEC.
Mugabe, 84, denies his government is responsible for post election political
violence that has since claimed nearly 60 opposition activists and displaced
more than 25 000 over the past two months.
Published Date: 05 June 2008
By Fred Bridgland
ANDREW Makoni is a cautious man. Yesterday was his first public appearance
in South Africa since fleeing to the country from Zimbabwe last weekend in
fear of his life - and not only his.
A colleague was appearing in a Harare court and Makoni feared president
Robert Mugabe's regime would punish him doubly if they knew of his own
One of Zimbabwe's top human rights lawyers, Makoni fled the country after
five of his clients, all activists of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), were abducted and murdered by Mugabe's supporters.
Makoni, 37, travelled the 720 miles southwards through the night from
Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, after he was tipped off from within Mugabe's
security forces that a death squad had been assigned to assassinate him.
"My informant said they were close to executing their task," Makoni told The
Scotsman yesterday at the headquarters in Johannesburg of the Southern
Africa Litigation Centre, which promotes human rights and the rule of law
throughout southern Africa and is giving the Zimbabwean lawyer shelter.
After corroborating the information from another source, Makoni, who has
been detained several times in Zimbabwe, decided he needed to move fast
before he suffered the same fate as Tonderai Ndira, Shepherd Jani, Cain
Nyere, Godfrey Kauzani and Better Chokururama.
The "Tonderai Five", clients of Makoni's law firm Mbidzo, Muchadehema and
Makoni, were abducted after the 29 March presidential election. In a poll
marked by fraud and widespread ballot rigging, MDC candidate Morgan
Tsvangirai won by 47.9 per cent of the total vote to the incumbent president
Mugabe's 43.2 per cent, falling short of the 50 per cent required for
A run-off election is scheduled for 27 June, but human rights workers say
the ruling Zanu-PF party's campaign of violence has reached a level and
intensity not seen in Zimbabwe for more than two decades.
The first of the "Tonderai Five" to die were Godfrey Kauzani, Cain Nyere and
Better Chokururama, a close friend of Tonderai Ndira, a widely admired MDC
activist known to his followers as "Zimbabwe's
Steve Biko," after South Africa's Black Consciousness leader who was
murdered by apartheid police in 1977.
Better, an aide to an MDC member of parliament, had first been abducted in
April by security forces, beaten up and thrown from a moving lorry. Both
legs were broken.
"Then last month Better, Cain and Godfrey travelled to Murehwa (50 miles
east of Harare] to collect Better's mother and bring her to Harare because
the violence and intimidation in the countryside was escalating," Makoni
told The Scotsman.
"Better's legs were still in plaster. But on their way they were abducted
Tonderai Ndira, who had been arrested 35 times by Mugabe's police and had
shared a cell with Better, said his friend had been stabbed and shot to
death in a police station and was buried on 17 May. The bodies of Cain and
Godfrey, with similar stab and bullet wounds, were found near Better's
decomposing corpse by villagers.
Tonderai Ndira was the next to die, said Makoni. "When he was abducted by
eight armed men from his home in Mabvuku (a poor Harare township], we knew
what his fate would be." A search began for his body and everywhere that MDC
activists and lawyers went they were discovering new bodies. Eventually
Tonderai's body was found in the mortuary of Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital.
His neck had been broken, his eyes had been gouged out and his tongue cut
off when his corpse was found. Tonderai had once given an interview to the
BBC in which he said: "We are prepared to die. We are dying by hunger, by
diseases, everything. So there is nothing to fear, nothing to be scared of."
The fifth of Andrew Makoni's clients to die was Shepherd Jani. He had fought
the Murehwa parliamentary seat for the MDC on 29 March. He was challenging
the result, alleging that it had been rigged in ZANUPF's favour, and Andrew
Makoni had filed the legal petition on Shepherd's behalf.
"Shepherd visited our office on 21 May and then went to the High Court in
connection with his petition," said Makoni.
Shepherd returned to Murehwa but was seized by four armed men the following
day. His mutilated body was found by a farmer on 24 May and was buried on 28
May with Morgan Tsvangirai in attendance.
While dealing with the murders of the "Tonderai Five," Makoni was asked by
the MDC to investigate the cases of another 38 MDC activists who had
disappeared, believed killed, since the 29 March election.
"I sent a letter to Augustine Chihuri (the national police commissioner]
asking him to investigate the alleged murders of the 38 by state security
agents and Zanu-PF militants and get back to me," said Makoni.
"By the time I left, I had not been contacted by Commissioner-General
The police chief had, however, found time to embark upon a countrywide
journey to instruct all serving officers to vote for Mugabe in the second
While the death toll in political violence has widely been given as 50,
Makoni said the real figure is much higher. "The killings continue on a
daily basis, and many deaths are going unreported," he said.
"People are being displaced from the countryside, where the violence is most
intense, and are streaming steadily into the towns."
Makoni said the 27 June run-off would not be free and fair. In a truly fair
election, Mugabe would get scarcely 20 per cent of the vote because people
are hungry following the failure yet again to produce an adequate maize
harvest despite good summer rains.
Mugabe is attending the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation
summit on food security in Rome, where, in his allotted speech, he blamed
the fact that millions of his citizens are facing starvation on western
sanctions. In fact, there are no economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, just a
freezing of the assets in the West of Mugabe and his top lieutenants and
severe restrictions on their ability to travel in North America and Europe.
Land reforms, which threw 4,000 white farmers off their land and resulted in
the collapse of Zimbabwean agriculture, had been welcomed by "the vast
majority of our people but has elicited wrath from our former (British]
colonial masters," said Mugabe.
Makoni added: "People are just fed up with the system, even those who
previously sympathised with Zanu-PF. I won't return before 27 June. I would
have liked my vote to count, but it is too dangerous."
Fears that dictator will use army to cling on to power
NOTWITHSTANDING the level of government violence and intimidation, Andrew
Makoni believes that Morgan Tsvangirai will emerge victorious in Zimbabwe's
run-off presidential election on 27 June.
"But I fear for what might happen then, given the utterances of the armed
service chiefs and Grace Mugabe, the president's young second wife," said
the fugitive human rights lawyer.
Civil and human rights groups in Zimbabwe have this week been predicting
that there will be more violence saying they do not believe Mugabe will step
down if he loses. "Mugabe will not transfer power to the winner," asserted
Gordon Moyo, of the civil rights group Bulawayo Agenda.
Last weekend, in a clear indication that Mugabe's security chiefs are
thinking of a military coup in the event of a Tsvangirai victory, the army
chief, Major-General Martin Chedondo, warned his troops: "We have signed up
and agreed to fight and protect the ruling party's principles of defending
the revolution. We should therefore stand behind our commander-in-chief."
Grace Mugabe, a former secretary known scathingly in Zimbabwe as the First
Shopper for her spectacularly extravagant spending trips abroad, told a
rally last week husband would not be removed from office by anyone outside
Zanu-PF. "Even if Baba (Mugabe) loses, he will only leave State House to
make way for someone from Zanu-PF. Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan
Tsvangirai will never step foot inside State House," she said.
The International Crisis Group said there is "a growing risk of a coup in a
pre-emptive move to deny Tsvangirai victory, or after a Tsvangirai win."
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
June 4, 2008
12:46 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't have anything to start with this afternoon, no
statements. We can get right to your questions.
QUESTION: On --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: The detention of Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders as well
as the crackdown on charities?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is deeply disturbing news. I talked yesterday a
little bit about the crackdown on the charities. And, you know, talk about
exactly the wrong thing to do at a moment of food crisis in Zimbabwe and
elsewhere around the world; they start to cut off the lifeline of more than
100,000 people in Zimbabwe.
In terms of the detention of Morgan Tsvangirai and others, it's a deeply
disturbing development. We have confirmed, after discussions with MDC
officials, that he was and is being detained in the town of Lupane,
L-u-p-a-n-e. To my knowledge, he has not yet been charged and there is no
information on what plans the Zimbabwean Government has with regard to his
We would call for his immediate release. And we're sure that all others who
have an interest in seeing free and fair elections take place in Zimbabwe
return to democratic governance are going to call for the same. And that's
really what we know at this point.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Tsvangirai's safety while he's in detention? I mean,
previously, he was very badly beaten up --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, he was. And that's part - that certainly is part of
this. And it's an excellent point. And that he should be released
immediately unharmed, untouched. Because as you point out, there were -
there was an incident in the past where he was badly beaten. And we would
hope and call upon the Zimbabwean Government to create an atmosphere in
Zimbabwe where those who have political views different than the government
can speak out free from threat and intimidation and violence; sadly, that
has not been the case. But we're going to continue to speak out about it and
try to focus the spotlight of the international system on Zimbabwe in the
hopes that that will help spur some change and that it will also spur those
with the greatest amount of leverage over the leadership in Zimbabwe to use
that leverage to bring about a different atmosphere in Zimbabwe.
QUESTION: Sean, all of that is well and good. But for the past decade, you
and your predecessors at this podium, as well as the secretaries of state,
have been saying the same thing. And Mugabe - the situation has only gotten
worse, and Mugabe has only retrenched and held on more tightly to his grip
on power. When is enough enough? And when is - is it no longer just words
and calls for the immediate neighbors - when is it time to go beyond that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're - Matt, we are simply up against, at the moment,
the hard facts of international politics. We - I would say we have done more
than speak words. We have put in place tough sanctions against the
leadership, against individuals, and targeted them in a way that will not,
we hope, affect the Zimbabwean people in a negative way, but really try to
put pressure on those people who hold the levers of power in Zimbabwe.
And I know - look --
QUESTION: But he --
MR. MCCORMACK: Do we wish - do we wish that the situation were different?
Absolutely. But the fact of the matter is, when you are faced with
situations like this, it's a matter of politics. It's a matter of leverage
and trying to create that leverage, and trying to get those who have it to
use it. And states like South Africa, for example, need to use the leverage
that they have. It is, as you point out, a tragic situation. This is a state
that was once a model for Southern Africa. It was a net exporter of food. It
was a proud state that emerged from a colonial past. And the rule of one man
and his party has destroyed the economy of the state and really destroyed
any tradition of democracy in Zimbabwe.
So, look, were it different, we would be much happier. And just because at
this point the situation has it that President Mugabe is still in power and
seemingly more entrenched, as you point out, it doesn't mean we're not going
to continue to do everything we can to use the levers of international
politics to bring about a different situation.
QUESTION: Right. Well, aside, you just mentioned that - you just said that
you weren't - you were doing more than talking. You would impose these tough
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- which you hope won't affect the Zimbabwean people in general.
But the problem here is that they haven't affected the people you've
targeted with these sanctions either. Certainly, there's been no change in
behavior at all from those in a leadership position in this government.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: And in fact, they may have even - you know, their actions have
gotten even more repressive --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, again, another lesson of international
politics. We can put in sanctions, the UK can put in sanctions, others can
put in sanctions. But unless you have a truly concerted, focused effort to
put in place sanctions and enforce them, leadership of this kind is going to
find a way around those things to relieve the pressure. What you need to do
in international politics, and we are trying to do this, is to create an
atmosphere where there is pressure as much as possible on this government to
change its behavior.
To this point, the international system has not succeeded in that regard.
That doesn't mean we're going - not going to keep trying.
QUESTION: What can South Africa do?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't need to go into the history and the linkages
between the leadership in South Africa and the ZANU-PF of President Mugabe.
But they go back a ways. And I think everybody knows the reality that this
government and the leadership of the South African Government is, I'd say,
uniquely positioned to go to President Mugabe and the leadership there and
to encourage them to change their behavior. That isn't to say that South
Africa is alone in having leverage with Zimbabwe, but I think they are in a
unique position in that regard.
QUESTION: A couple of weeks ago, the Secretary made a round of calls to
neighbors and to the SADC countries. Has she done that again today in a
MR. MCCORMACK: No, she has not. I know she knows about the situation and is
following it closely, but she has not.
QUESTION: Well, are you looking into doing that because, I mean --
MR. MCCORMACK: It's certainly a possibility, and we'll let you know if she
QUESTION: And in terms of South Africa using its leverage --
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- are you - who are you speaking to within the South African
Government to try and encourage them to do --
MR. MCCORMACK: We have been - talked about - spoken with those in the South
Africa Government over a period of time. And I think I've reported
previously the Secretary, in the past, has spoken with President Mbeki. And
we're going to continue to do that because that, frankly, is the way we see
to try to change the situation, using political leverage within the
QUESTION: But you yourself pointed out the links during the liberation
struggle between ZANU-PF and the ANC.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Why do you think that the South African Government is going to,
you know, turn back on years where they've had a very strong relationship
and put --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's a question for them. And I - and the reasons for
doing it, I would only point to the tragedy that is unfolding in Zimbabwe,
looking at the economic mess that they have made, that President Mugabe has
made of the Zimbabwean economy, the fact that many in the - in Zimbabwe are
dependent upon foreign food aid, humanitarian aid now. It's quite clear that
there has been a dramatic retrenchment in political freedoms in that
country. So I don't think that there's any more need for examples of why to
act. The question that - it's really more appropriately put to the South
African Government, as well as others, as to why they are not exerting the
maximum amount of leverage.
QUESTION: Do you think - just one last question - do you think that the
runoff election should be postponed? Because the climate is obviously, you
know, not conducive to being - to having a free and fair poll if someone
like Tsvangirai can't even get out there and campaign.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think that we would, before making that kind of
assessment, want to understand the assessment of the MDC, certainly, as the
opposition party, before we make any such pronouncements. I don't think we've
heard anything from them in that regard, but we are deeply concerned about
whether or not the proper conditions for a free and fair election, which we've
talked about in the past, can be brought about in this period of time.
We continue to call - call on the Zimbabwean Government to create those
conditions. But given - given their history, I think that that call also
comes with a healthy dose of skepticism and, certainly, realization of
reality on our part.
QUESTION: I'm sorry if you've - no, go.
QUESTION: How much more of a pariah can you make Mugabe?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's not a matter of our making him a pariah. I mean,
he has done this to himself, and sadly, in doing so, inflicted great harm
upon his own country.
QUESTION: Are you planning on sending - and I'm sorry if you touched on this
earlier - are you planning on sending a representative from the U.S. Embassy
to the place where Mr. Tsvangirai is being held? Because your Ambassador --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: -- has been involved and intervened before -
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I know he has. Let me - I'm working to try to get some
information from the ground in Zimbabwe from our Embassy, and I'll see if I
can convey with a little more granularity exactly what it is that they're
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
05 June 2008
Kenyan Prime Minister also slates the "mediocrity" with which Africa has
CAPE TOWN (Sapa) - African leaders were on Wednesday rapped over the
knuckles for not speaking out on Zimbabwe's flawed election.
The rebuke came from Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the opening
session of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, where he shared
a platform with President Thabo Mbeki and three other heads of state.
Odinga, who took office after an election that degenerated into violence,
said things were changing on the continent.
Gone were the days when Africa and the rest of the world would look the
other way when confronted with the misdeeds of dictators such as Mobutu Sese
Seko or Idi Amin.
"But still today it's unfortunate that in an African country elections can
be held and no results are announced in more than a month," he said.
"And African leaders are silent about it."
Zimbabwe held its legislative and presidential election on March 29, and
though parliamentary results were released in a slow trickle, it was five
weeks before the presidential result was announced.
Because opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai did not achieve a clear 50
percent majority, a runoff has been scheduled.
Mbeki has been criticised for his so-called silent diplomacy on Zimbabwe,
and his reluctance to speak out against ongoing human rights abuses in South
Africa's northern neighbour.
Odinga also said Kenya's post-independence economic development was sluggish
compared to a country like South Korea, which had once had the same economic
indicators as Kenya but now boasted an economy 40 times larger.
"The mediocrity with which Africa has been ruled is what is responsible for
African underdevelopment," he said.
"Let us say what we mean and mean what we say when we talk about Africa's
He also called for the scrapping of visa requirements within the continent,
saying that if it was possible for a Greek to travel from Athens to Dublin
using only an identity document, it ought to be possible for a South African
to go to Kenya on the same conditions.
Mbeki, who was asked to lead off the panel discussion at the opening,
deflected a question from WEF founder Klaus Schwab on what his concerns
about Africa were, and what he thought were the obstacles to strong growth
and political stability.
"Klaus, I think it's a wrong question, Why don't we start elsewhere," Mbeki
He said where the discussion needed to start was with "the positives", which
he said was the continent's general progress towards peace, stability and
reaffirmation of democratic processes.
Malawi's President Bingu Wa Mutharika said one of the challenges facing the
continent was that Africans had not learned to share power.
"When you get it, it's yours," he said.
The stemmed from the principle of winner takes all, which he had problems
This inability to share power led to conflicts that could be avoided.
Ghanaian president and former chairman of the African Union John Kufuor said
Africa needed leaders who saw beyond the divides that the colonial system
left in Africa, and transcended the "narrow tribal and small-nation divide".
A lot of protests and events are coming up – PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT.
Protest against the
xenophobic violence in
Zimbabwe Vigil’s mock
Presidential Run-off. Friday, 27th
· Prayer Vigil. 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 proposal.
are trying to establish which of the African governments applauded Mugabe at the
Twilight Rainbow’. Friday,
30th May –
Desmond Tutu in
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
By Carole Gombakomba,Blessing Zulu,Irwin Chifera and Jonga Kandemiiri
Washington and Masvingo
04 June 2008
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has told President Robert
Mugabe of Zimbabwe that the political violence raging in the country must be
halted before the presidential run-off election scheduled for June 27, when
Mr. Mugabe will face opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, front-runner in
the March 29 round.
Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Okabe of Ban's office said Studio the secretary
general, meeting with Mr. Mugabe on the margins of the U.N. summit on food
security in Rome, urged him to accept neutral election observers, not only
those the Harare government considers friendly, and proposed a U.N. monitor
be sent to observe the process.
Political analyst Peter Kagwanja, director of democracy and governance
programs at the Human Sciences Research Council in Johannesburg, South
Africa, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
Mr. Mugabe who was shunned in Rome, tried to use the summit to stage a
Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community deployed an advance
team ahead of its election observer mission due in the country later this
The advance team is led by SADC senior strategic analyst Natangwe Elia
Angula of Namibia, who is attached to the SADC directorate for politics,
defense and security, and Gilbert Muchauza of Botswana, a senior support
Muchauza said he and Angula have set up offices at the Rainbow Towers Hotel
in Harare and will be joined shortly by more than 300 observers.
But spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change told reporter Blessing Zulu that the presence of the advance team has
not reduced the level of violence against officials and supporters of the
MDC sources say nine more opposition members have been slain in the past 24
hours, taking the total of deaths among activists over 60. Two of the
activists reported slain were burned to death Tuesday night when an MDC
office at Jerera Growth Point in Zaka Central constituency, Masvingo
province, was firebombed.
Correspondent Irwin Chifera reported on the incident from Harare.
Meanwhile, sources in Mhangura, Mashonaland West, said seven opposition
activists were killed in clashes with ZANU-PF militia in the town of Doma on
The sources said the opposition youths were wearing party T-shirts when the
militia affiliated with Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF confronted them. The
sources said the bodies of the dead activists were taken to Makonde Hospital
In Harare, MDC sources said suspected state security agents abducted Jim
Holland, husband of senior MDC official and senator Sekai Holland, and three
others, including an infant. Holland and the others were released later
Wednesday after interrogation, during which he was accused of sponsoring
terrorism and harboring fugitives.
Holland told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
he was threatened with death if he continued with his opposition activities.
Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)
Date: 04 Jun 2008
Village chiefs loyal to Mugabe said to be pressuring members of their
communities to vote for him in upcoming leadership election.
By Yamikani Mwando in Bulawayo
As the June 27 presidential run-off approaches, opposition officials say the
ruling party, ZANU-PF, is targeting village chiefs in an effort to reverse
the losses suffered by President Robert Mugabe in the first round of voting
in areas previously considered his stronghold.
Abednico Bhebhe, deputy spokesperson for the Movement of Democratic Change,
MDC, faction led by Arthur Mutambara, said the politicisation of villagers
by headmen is in full swing ahead of the crucial second round.
'They are calling meetings disguised as genuine village gatherings with
nothing to do with politics. But once the villagers congregate, the gospel
of ZANU-PF is preached,' Bhebhe told IWPR.
In Zimbabwe - as elsewhere in Africa - traditional leaders have always
commanded profound respect among rural communities, where they preside over
everything from the resolution of disputes to the sharing of resources.
Chiefs and headmen are still revered within some political circles for
having worked with nationalists and freedom fighters in the 1960s and 1970s
during the bloody and protracted guerrilla war against Ian Smith's white
However, critics and analysts say that with the emergence of a powerful
opposition in 2000 the traditional leaders have been blatantly threatened,
bribed, politicised and used by ZANU-PF to rally villagers behind the party.
Traditional leaders receive a generous monthly government stipend as part of
Mugabe's brazen strategy to keep them at his beck and call. In the run-up to
the March 29 general and presidential elections, they were also recipients
of the bulk of the 200 off-road vehicles doled out by the Mugabe government.
But bribery is not the only method of inducement used by Mugabe's
In its regular pre-election monitoring updates before the March 29 poll, the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network, ZESN, observed that chiefs who had given
the MDC permission to hold campaign rallies in their locality had been
harassed by state security agents, who threatened to withdraw government
support if they continued to do so.
These rural communities, which, according to aid agencies, are bearing the
brunt of the country's economic decline, constitute a bloc that could swing
the vote in favour of the opposition.
The MDC, formerly Zimbabwe's major opposition political party, but, since
the March elections, now the majority party in parliament, claims that in
remote rural areas, ravaged by hunger and poor harvests and far from the
probing eyes of the outside world, freedom of choice has been infringed,
with villagers too frightened to vote for the candidates of their choice.
According to Bhebhe, those villagers who have shunned the recent village
meetings, recognising them as ZANU-PF gatherings, have suffered dire
During a recent weekend, in Nkayi, a rural outpost in Matebeleland North, 'a
young man was battered by ZANU-PF supporters after he ignored a meeting that
had been called by the headman. They accused him of being an MDC sympathiser',
Traditional leaders, said Bhebhe, are also accused of failing to use their
powers to quell the attacks on opposition party supporters.
At the same time, human rights groups, aid agencies and the MDC allege that
traditional leaders are denying starving villagers food aid, accusing them
of working against government efforts because they support parties other
In previous elections, chiefs and headmen were accused by groups involved in
monitoring and observing elections, including the ZESN, of instructing
villagers how to vote and who to vote for, claiming they would know who had
voted against Mugabe.
This week, an old woman from a rural homestead in Mashonaland East, one of
the hotbeds of post-election violence that human rights groups say has
claimed over 60 lives, related how villagers from her area had been told by
local leaders that the MDC wanted to return the country to whites.
'Did you not hear that as soon the whites heard [MDC leader Morgan]
Tsvangirai had won [the parliamentary elections], they began celebrating and
returning to their farms,' the old lady asked, expressing her surprise that
people in urban areas had not heard this news.
Yamikani Mwando is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
05 June 2008
Issued by the presidency June 4 2008.
Statement of the Presidency: Media reports on Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai's
supposed letter to President Thabo Mbeki
The Presidency has noted ongoing media reports of a letter supposedly sent
to President Thabo Mbeki by Zimbabwean Movement of Democratic Change (MDC)
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, on May 13 2008.
Regarding these reports, the Presidency reiterates that President Thabo
Mbeki has not received any such letter from Mr Tsvangirai. Nor has any
official in the Presidency or the South African government received any such
letter from any member of the MDC.
Furthermore, the MDC has never discussed the letter with the Facilitation
Team, the Presidency or any department of government and the MDC at any
It is worth noting that whereas some newspapers claim to have "assurances"
of the letter's acknowledgement of receipt by the Presidency from the MDC,
no newspaper has, as yet, attributed such "assurances" to any official of
In light of the fact that the Presidency did not receive the letter and in
the absence of any authentication by media entities which have reported
about it, the logical conclusion is that there is no such a letter.
We note further that since the commencement of the facilitation process, the
Presidency, and government have, on numerous occasions, made corrections to
false media reports that have been industriously fed to an otherwise
On August 15, 2007, the Presidency issued a statement correcting media
reports which claimed that President Mbeki would present a report at the
SADC Heads of State and Government Summit held in Lusaka, Zambia on August
16 to 17, 2007, which would blame Britain for Zimbabwe's political and
The statement made it clear that the Presidency was not aware of any such
report and that, if any such existed at all, certainly, "it was not authored
by the Government of the Republic of South Africa."
Regrettably, the media did not take our statement seriously and, apparently
without further qualms, persisted in attributing the report to President
Mbeki. Our investigations later revealed that the news report originated
from a news agency stringer, based in Lusaka, a stringer who had been handed
a copy of "the" report and then deliberately, fallaciously, attributed it to
President Mbeki instead of to its real author. The news agency later
retracted its report, albeit in no more than three paragraphs. None of the
other local and international media who reported on the matter retracted,
nor offered any apology.
Again on September 14, 2007, the Presidency issued a statement in which we
rebutted the falsehood which some media reported at length to the effect
that "the South African Government ... has been secretly working to remove
[President Robert Mugabe] from power" through "lobbying for sustained
international pressure to bear on the Mugabe regime."
This year, as in the previous year, it appears as though there exists a
disinformation campaign whereby all manner of fabrications are fed to the
In April, there was a sustained attempt to present President Mbeki's answer
to a specific question about whether at that point (April 12) the election
process in Zimbabwe constituted a crisis. Both the context of the question
and the detail of the reply were ignored; resulting in the impression that
the President was oblivious to the challenges in Zimbabwe.
As recently as last month, the Presidency and the Ministry of Defence have
had to rebut allegations (reported in the media) that President Mbeki
ordered Deputy Defence Minister, Mluleki George, to refuel the An Yue Jiang;
the Chinese parastatal-owned vessel which docked in Durban in April carrying
arms to Zimbabwe, amongst other variously destined goods.
Though not all have been published, the Presidency has been the recipient of
media inquiries of similar kind about Zimbabwe which some media seem to have
pursued with precious little critical reflection. These include claims that
either President Mbeki or Mrs [Zanele] Mbeki are supposed to be blood
relatives of Mrs Grace Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President's wife.
Another such inquiry concerned the phantastical supposition that President
Mbeki was arrested for arms and drug smuggling in Zimbabwe in 1982; "which
is why," in the words of one journalist who recently sought comment, "he is
so afraid of President Mugabe."
Yet another media inquiry appears to be somebody's perception of a State
Secret that since the Zimbabwean elections, President Mugabe has been
secretly residing at Mahlambandlopfu - the official residence of the South
African President - for fear of reprisals in an impending military coup.
We cite these examples to illustrate the extent to which fabrications about
the SADC mandated facilitation process are being given to the media. To what
extent this is deliberate or coordinated, and what immediate or long-term
local or international objectives might be served by it, is a matter for
historians to unravel.
What is clear is that these fabrications are focusing on demonisation of the
facilitation process with the intention to prevent the possibility for a
solution to the challenges in Zimbabwe.
In this context, the media ought to remain vigilant by, amongst other ways,
authenticating information as well as greater scrutiny of the motives of
those who leak information.
Statement issued by The Presidency, Cape Town, June 4 2008
by Own Correspondent Thursday 05 June 2008
JOHANNESBURG - The South African government said on Wednesday it would
reintegrate foreign immigrants displaced by xenophobic violence into their
former communities in the next two months and repatriate those willing to
return to their countries of origin.
Mobs of South African men armed with machetes, axes, spears and guns
attacked and killed immigrants an unprecedented two-week wave of xenophobic
violence that shocked a nation, which prides itself as among the most
tolerant societies in the world.
It is estimated that more than 30 000 foreign nationals mostly from
Zimbabwe, Mozambique and other African countries fled xenophobic attacks in
poor South African townships and sought refuge in police stations, churches
and public buildings.
President Thabo Mbeki's government has been roundly criticised by relief
agencies and the United Nations over poor conditions in the shelters and has
since started relocating the refugees to temporary tented camps in Gauteng
province and elsewhere around the country.
"By end of July we shouldn't have tents in Gauteng," Dorothy Mahlangu, a
minister in the Gauteng government, told the media in Cape Town, adding that
those who did not want to be reintegrated into the community would be sent
home to their respective countries and that the government was working with
neighbouring countries on arrangements to smooth repatriation.
Zimbabwe's state media on Wednesday said the country was preparing to
receive 2 500 of its citizens set to be repatriated from South Africa.
The violent attacks on foreigners started on May 12 in Johannesburg's
Alexandra township of the poor before spreading to other townships in
Diepsloot, Hillbrow, Jeppe, Cleveland, Thokoza and Tembisa leaving thousands
of African immigrants without shelter or food after their homes were looted
and burnt down.
The violence also spread to the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, North West,
Mpumalanga and Western Cape.
About 50 000 migrants fearing further attacks in South Africa have since
left the country, with the bulk going to neighbouring Zimbabwe and
Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said there had been no fresh
attacks since shortly after soldiers were sent into the townships, though he
added that Mbeki might extend the army's deployment when it expires this
Nqakula added that 1 436 people had been charged with murder, arson, assault
and other crimes in connection with the violence. - ZimOnline
By Lee Shungu, on June 04 2008 20:31
Zimbabwe's telecommunications operators have massively hiked
tariffs on the back of galloping inflation which is constantly eroding
consumers' purchasing power, The Zimbabwe Gazette can reveal.
Mobile phone service providers have also introduced higher
priced airtime subscription cards- popularly referred to as juice cards,
scratching the lower priced ones.
In the country, it has become very expensive to make a phone
call whether from a cellphone or a fixed- landline.
One of the country's leading mobile phone operator, Econet
Wireless Holdings recently informed its subscribers that tariffs have been
"A phone call now costs between $68 million and $89 million per
minute on the network up from figures around $5 million per minute," said
the company in a statement.
According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the rate of
inflation is at a record high of 1, 700 000 percent.
Zimbabwe's telecoms firms are struggling to keep on their feet,
to a larger extent as a result of the persistent hard currency shortage.
Of late, the country's regulatory body, Post and
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has been
blocking telecoms service providers from hiking tariffs by wide margins. The
organisation sanctions the new tariffs to be charged by operators.
The other two mobile service providers- NetOne and Telecel have
not hiked tariffs, as yet.
The ruling ZANU PF government has a stake in the two firms.
"For Econet's Buddie, Business Partna, Consumer and Libertie
Silver packages, tariffs are now in the range of $72 million during the peak
period and $69 million per minute during the off peak period."
"Libertie Gold is now $71 million during peak and $69 million
per minute off peak. Libertie Diamond is $69, 8 million per minute during
peak and $66, 3 million off peak"
"YourFone (wholesale) is now $69 million per minute during peak
and $65 million off peak," indicated Econet.