Thu 5 Jun 2008, 17:02 GMT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean police detained U.S. and British diplomats for
several hours on Thursday, slashing the tyres of their cars after they
visited victims of political violence ahead of a presidential vote.
The United States blamed the incident on President Robert Mugabe's
government, which Washington accuses of trying to intimidate opposition MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters ahead of the June 27 run-off election.
"It's an effort to intimidate us so that we won't go out to the rural areas
and then the government can continue to beat the citizens and the supporters
of the MDC," Jendayi Frazer, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa said in Cape
The diplomats were released after several hours.
Zimbabwe's Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga accused the diplomats
of distributing campaign material for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change and said they refused to disembark at a roadblock when ordered by
"The police simply wanted to get to the bottom of the issue. No force or
violence was used," Matonga said.
The White House demanded the Zimbabwe government explain its actions and the
U.S. State Department said it planned to raise the incident at the U.N.
Britain's Foreign Office summoned Zimbabwe's ambassador over the incident.
"This gives us a window into the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans because this
sort of intimidation is something that is suffered daily, especially by
those who are working in opposition groups," Foreign Secretary David
A British representative at the U.N. food summit in Rome, whose opening
session on Tuesday was attended by Mugabe, said: "The UK and U.S. delegation
have jointly expressed our displeasure to the Zimbabwe delegation, who
refused to listen."
VIOLENCE AND SANCTIONS
Former colonial power Britain, human rights groups and Zimbabwe's opposition
accuse Mugabe of a campaign of violence to try to keep his 28-year hold on
power. Tsvangirai says 65 people have been killed.
Mugabe blames his opponents for the violence and sanctions imposed by
Western countries for the collapse of the once prosperous economy. The
opposition says he ruined Zimbabwe.
In an indicator of Zimbabwe's rapid economic decline, its dollar currency
plunged to a new low of between 995 million and 1.45 billion to the
greenback on Thursday from an average 700 million at the beginning of the
The U.S. embassy said the attack on the diplomatic convoy took place in
Bindura, 80 km (50 miles) north of Harare.
U.S. Ambassador James McGee said police stopped the vehicles at a roadblock
and slashed the tyres. He said supporters of Mugabe threatened to set the
vehicles ablaze unless the diplomats accompanied police to a nearby station.
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a March 29 vote but failed to win enough votes to
avoid a second round. He was detained for nine hours on Wednesday but
continued his campaign on Thursday.
Simba Makoni, the ruling party defector who came third in the first round
called for the run-off to be scrapped to prevent further bloodshed. Makoni
won more than 8 percent and those who voted for him could be crucial in
deciding the contest.
South Africa said it planned to begin sending in election observers this
week as part of a larger mission sent by the Southern African Development
In an unusually harsh attack by an African leader, Kenyan Prime Minister
Raila Odinga branded Mugabe a dictator and said in Cape Town that Zimbabwe's
run-off campaign was an embarrassment to the continent's efforts to promote
It is rare for African leaders to publicly attack Mugabe, who is still seen
as a hero by millions on the continent for fighting to end British rule in
Zimbabwe in 1980 and for supporting other anti-colonial struggles.
(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe in Harare, Wendell Roelf in Cape
Town; Luke Baker in London and Paul Simao in Johannesburg; Writing by Marius
Bosch; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
By ANGUS SHAW
Associated Press Writer
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- A mob of Zimbabwe "war veterans," a group of often
violent loyalists to President Robert Mugabe, waylaid a convoy of American
and British diplomats Thursday, beating a local staffer, slashing tires and
threatening to burn the envoys, the U.S. Embassy said.
The diplomats were looking into political violence before a presidential
election runoff, and the incident was the latest sign of how tense Zimbabwe
is as Mugabe prepares to face an opposition leader who led voting in the
Opposition and human rights groups accuse Mugabe of orchestrating violence
to ensure he wins re-election amid growing unpopularity for his heavy-handed
rule and the country's economic collapse. Police held the president's runoff
rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, for nine hours Wednesday.
Officials in Washington and London said the diplomats were returning from a
trip to investigate violence in northern Zimbabwe when they were stopped at
a roadblock on the outskirts of Harare, the capital. The convoy was halted
for some six hours before it was allowed to drive on.
U.S. Ambassador James McGee, who was not with the convoy, said police and
military officers detained the diplomats in an "illegal action." He said
they were assisted by a crowd of "war veterans," a group whose members
purportedly fought in Zimbabwe's independence war and are Mugabe's fiercest
and most violent supporters.
"The war veterans threatened to burn the vehicles with my people inside
unless they got out of the vehicles and accompanied the police to a station
nearby," McGee told CNN.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, Paul Engelstad, told The Associated Press
that some in the throng beat one of the embassy's Zimbabwean employees and
slashed the tires of some cars in the convoy.
McGee said five Americans, four Britons and three Zimbabwean employees were
traveling in three cars.
The U.S. government said it would take the incident to the U.N. Security
"It is absolutely outrageous, and it is a case of the kind of repression and
violence that this government is willing to use against its own people,"
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said of Mugabe's regime.
"While this immediate incident has been resolved, it will not be forgotten,"
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the attack on British and
American diplomats underlined the hardship of life under Mugabe's regime,
which he said is "marked by brutal intimidation, by torture ... and by
"This is a window into the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans," Miliband said.
"We have to be concerned obviously about British staff, but we also have to
be concerned that intimidation does not become the order of the day" ahead
of the presidential runoff scheduled for June 27.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena denied security agents had threatened the
diplomats. He said police at the scene intervened to rescue the diplomats
from a threatening mob.
"It's unfortunate when diplomats behave like criminals and distort
information," Bvudzijena said. "It is a very sad situation."
McGee said Zimbabwean officials had been informed about the trip as
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said that while the U.S.
ambassador had submitted the necessary documents, the British government had
Matonga also accused the diplomats of handing out election materials
supporting the opposition.
Mugabe frequently accuses Britain and the United States of plotting to
topple him and return Zimbabwe to colonial rule.
In mid-May, McGee led a similar convoy that was briefly stopped at a police
roadblock. At one point, a police officer threatened to beat one of McGee's
senior aides and then got into his patrol car and lurched it at McGee after
the ambassador demanded the officer's name.
Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and was once
hailed as a liberator who promoted racial reconciliation and economic
But he has been accused of clinging to power through election fraud and
intimidation. His order for the seizure of white-owned farms beginning in
2000 has been blamed for a slump in Zimbabwe's once-thriving agricultural
industry that has plunged the country into economic collapse.
Discontent propelled the main opposition leader, Tsvangirai, to the top in
presidential voting March 29. But while he got the most votes of the four
candidates, he did not win the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid a
runoff with Mugabe, who finished second.
Police hauled Tsvangirai off into custody Wednesday and held him nine hours
at a police station in southern Zimbabwe, his party said. But he resumed
In a message to Zimbabweans, Tsvangirai said his detention was "nothing
compared to the hardships millions of Zimbabweans have had to endure."
"Today I am saying to the nation that the rebuilding of our beautiful
country must begin now," he added. "The time of intolerance and destruction
must end. The time for peace and prosperity begins with each one of you
Tsvangirai said in an interview that he was campaigning in an environment
"meant to frustrate the opposition. But we are inspired by the enthusiasm of
people who we are meeting on the ground."
Rights activists said Thursday that suspected Mugabe supporters fire-bombed
an office of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change in the southern
province of Masvingo on Wednesday, killing at least two party officials. The
party says at least 60 of its supporters have been slain the past two months
The national elections in March were a blow to Mugabe. In addition to
trailing in the presidential ballot, he saw his ZANU-PF party lose its
majority in parliament for the first time since independence as Tsvangirai's
party won control of the body.
Tsvangirai, who lost a 2002 presidential election that independent observers
said was rigged in Mugabe's favor, had only returned to Zimbabwe in late May
to campaign for the runoff. He left the country soon after the March first
round, and his party has said he was the target of a military assassination
plot. He has survived at least three assassination attempts.
In New York, United Nations officials said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had
gotten Mugabe's permission to send his assistant secretary-general for
political affairs to help Zimbabwe try to hold a free and fair runoff.
Ban plans to send Haile Menkerios, a Harvard-educated diplomat and former
Eritrean ambassador, to Zimbabwe within days, as soon as Menkerios obtains a
Monsters and Critics
Jun 5, 2008, 16:52 GMT
Johannesburg/Harare - Zimbabwe's police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena claimed
Thursday that police tried to protect a group of United States diplomats
from 'a mob' after theirs and a British diplomatic convoy were attacked by
security forces and militia north of Harare.
The three US diplomats and four British officials were investigating reports
of violence in rural areas when they were detained for several hours by
armed police, soldiers and ruling party militiamen who threatened to assault
them and burn them alive in their cars unless they got out of the vehicles,
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee told CNN.
All had been freed by Thursday evening after Zimbabwe's foreign ministry
sent representatives to the area to mediate in the standoff, CNN reported.
Britain's government in a statement confirmed its nationals were no longer
being held. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he hoped the
incident did not point to increased state intimidation in the run-up to
Zimbabwe's presidential run-off election on June 27.
Speaking to CNN, US Ambassador James McGee, who was not in the convoy, vowed
'a very, very strong response.'
'Zimbabwe has become a lawless country,' he said, blasting the intimidatory
tactics as 'grossly illegal.'
The vehicles were halted at a roadblock about 60 kilometres from Harare, on
their way back from visiting the Bindura area about 80 kilometres north-east
of the city.
'Police stopped them. Then war veterans and soldiers arrived, carrying arms.
They were brandishing weapons and shouting at the party that they were
trying to 'carry out regime change' against Mugabe,' a diplomatic source
The Zimbabwean driver of the American vehicle was pulled out and assaulted,
the source said, and the vehicles' path was blocked by a trap of spikes.
Armed men slashed the US vehicle's tyres.
Bvudzijena claimed on national radio police had 'rescued' the diplomats from
The incident was the second time since May 13 that Zimbabwe security forces
have detained Western diplomats investigating reports of violence by
supporters of President Robert Mugabe against supporters of Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The MDC says over 60 of its supporters have been killed in pro- Mugabe
militia attacks since March 29 elections, in which the MDC inflicted its
first ever defeat on Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Mugabe, who is still locked in a bitter battle with Tsvangirai for the
presidency after neither won an outright majority in March voting, has
recently intensified his anti-British and anti-US rhetoric, threatening to
expel the US ambassador for supporting the MDC.
The state has also ratcheted up pressure on the MDC, detaining Tsvangirai
for around nine hours Wednesday for questioning before releasing him without
Tsvangirai was released after South African President Thabo Mbeki intervened
on his behalf, Mbeki's office said Thursday.
'Upon being informed by the MDC of the arrest of its leader, Mr Morgan
Tsvangarai, in Lupane, Zimbabwe yesterday, SADC (Southern African
Development Community) Facilitator, President Thabo Mbeki, immediately
contacted the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe to ascertain the
circumstances of the arrest,' the statement said.
Mbeki, whose mediation the MDC has criticized as biased in favour of Mugabe,
had also urged the government 'to do everything possible' to ensure the
election was free and fair, the statement added.
Thursday June 5 2008
This is the text of the statement by the foreign secretary, David Miliband,
about today's incident in Zimbabwe during which British diplomats were
detained at a police roadblock:
"I've just spoken on the telephone to our high commissioner in Harare,
Andrew Pocock. I can confirm that four people were held at a roadblock in
Zimbabwe. They were going about their business, properly registered as
"I'm pleased to say that they are all safe and sound and unharmed and there
was no violence involved in the incident. But obviously it's a serious
incident and one we have to take seriously.
"I think that it gives us a window into the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans,
because this sort of intimidation is something that is suffered daily,
especially by those who are working with opposition groups.
"It's a window into lives that in some cases are marked by brutal
intimidation, by torture and, in 53 cases that have been documented over the
last few weeks, by death.
"And I think that's why the message that needs to go out today is a very
strong one: that the argument in Zimbabwe today is not between Zimbabwe and
Britain, it's about two different visions for the future of Zimbabwe.
"It's very important that the international community plays its role by
ensuring that for the election on June 27 there are international monitors,
properly accredited, who are able to ensure that despite the ravages in
Zimbabwe at the moment - ravages economically, socially and politically -
despite those ravages there is an election that allows the democratic will
of the Zimbabwean people to be heard loud and to be heard clear.
"That's certainly what we will be working for over the next few weeks
Monsters and Critics
Jun 5, 2008, 17:31 GMT
Washington - The United States blasted Zimbabwean security forces for
holding up a diplomatic convoy and beating up the driver on Thursday and
promised to bring the incident before the UN Security Council.
'It is outrageous. It is unacceptable. And while this immediate incident has
been resolved, it will not be forgotten,' State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack said a total of five US diplomats and two local employees were
held up along with a British convoy about 40 kilometres outside of
Zimbabwe's capital Harare. They were surrounded by 40 armed members of the
country's security, intelligence forces and retired military personnel.
The Zimbabwean driver was forced out of the vehicle and assaulted, and the
tyres on one of the two vehicles were slashed. The driver has since been
released and was back at the US embassy, but McCormack could give no details
on the extent of his injuries.
McCormack said the country's foreign ministry had been notified of the
vehicle's trip beforehand and rejected Zimbabwe's explanation that its
forces had been sent to protect the group from a 'mob' unrelated to the
'It's clearly organized. This wasn't just 40 people standing by the side of
the road who decided to take this on themselves,' McCormack said.
'You have an armed mob that accosts, detains a convoy, and beats one of the
employees from our embassy there. That is not a random occurrence,' he said.
The US planned to bring up the incident with Zimbabwean officials at an
ongoing United Nations meeting in Rome and talk with other countries on the
UN Security Council in New York.
'It is an example of the fact that this government doesn't know any bounds.
It flouted all international convention, as well as protection accorded to
diplomats accredited to their country,' McCormack said.
'While we are outraged by this incident, it is really nothing compared to
what the Zimbabwean people suffer on a daily basis,' he added.
Thu 5 Jun 2008, 9:06 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's currency plunged to a new record low on
Thursday, trading at an average 1 billion to the U.S. dollar on a recently
introduced interbank market and triggering massive price increases.
Traders were quoting the Zimbabwean dollar at between 995 million to 1.45
billion against the U.S dollar in Thursday morning trade.
The currency has depreciated by about 84 percent since the central bank
effectively floated it in early May, after years of an official peg.
Analysts say the rapid weakening of the currency was being driven by
inflation expectations as well as huge demand for hard currencies.
The Times, SA
I-Net Bridge Published:Jun 05, 2008
Standard Bank's economists said that they maintain a bleak medium-term
outlook for Zimbabwe and expect the economy to continue to contract in 2008.
"Zimbabwe's political landscape continues to be one of repression of
opposition, limited freedom of speech and press, patronage and ethnic-based
politics and complete erosion of domestic institutions. The scheduled June
27 run-off presidential election continues to overshadow any genuine debate
on economic reforms in Zimbabwe," they say.
They note that the governor of their central bank recently acknowledged that
the country continues to face significant challenges.
"These are worsened by extremely high levels of inflation, shortages of
foreign exchange, poor energy supply and shortages of drugs. Productivity
has declined significantly and coupled with about 80% unemployment,
businesses are barely managing to keep afloat," say the analysts.
Recent exchange rate liberalisation will only add to the inflation burden as
the economic fundamentals are still lacking.
"Overall, any genuine policy discussion depends on the outcome of the
run-off presidential election. Investor confidence is also at its lowest and
most international businesses and the donor community are waiting for a
change in government before they re-engage with the country.
"However, political changes alone will not be enough as strong and coherent
macro-economic policies will be necessary to rebuild what used to be Africa's
model economy," conclude the Standard Bank researchers.
HARARE, June 5 (AFP)
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai returned to the campaign trail
Thursday after his detention by police three weeks before a run-off election
triggered international outrage.
Although Tsvangirai was not charged, his Movement for Democratic Change
party called his detention along with two of his top lieutenants Wednesday
"an affront to democracy" which followed a pattern of intimidation and
With the US leading calls for President Robert Mugabe's regime to allow a
free and fair election, police said Tsvangirai had been held in order to
check vehicle registration papers and his detention was not related to the
"Our resolve for a new beginning, and a new Zimbabwe remains unshaken,"
Tsvangirai said in a statement on Thursday.
"We are convinced of the justness of our cause, and we will not waiver until
we restore the dignity of all the people of Zimbabwe."
Tsvangirai was hauled in for nearly nine hours of questioning at lunchtime
on Wednesday after being stopped at a roadblock in southwestern Lupane
district along with MDC chairman Lovemore Moyo and deputy leader Thokozani
All of his entourage were eventually released without charge although one of
the vehicles in their convoy was impounded.
"They have impounded a South African-registered BMW car which Mr Tsvangirai
was using," MDC lawyer Job Sibanda told AFP.
"They said the driver was not authorised to drive the car saying this is in
breach of the customs and excise regulations."
National police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the group had been detained
because officers "wanted clarification on the South African registered car".
"These people were moving in a convoy and they came to a roadblock where
they were asked to produce registration papers for a South
African-registered vehicle that was part of the convoy," he told AFP.
"Then they produced photocopies which are not acceptable. They were then
invited to the police station and the whole convoy came.
"It has nothing to do with any rallies or gathering," he added after Sibanda
said Tsvangirai had been accused during questioning of holding illegal
The MDC's secretary-general Tendai Biti said it was pure fiction to claim
police were only interested in paperwork.
"Where in the world do you detain someone for nine hours over a vehicle? If
anything they could have held the driver," he told South African public
"It's an affront to democracy, an affront to the people of Zimbabwe."
Party chairman Moyo meanwhile said Tsvangirai would not be deterred in his
quest to topple Mugabe at the ballot box on June 27.
"We are in a struggle and as the leadership we are all prepared for all of
this," Moyo told AFP.
"We knew these are some of the problems we are going to face, the brutality,
but like soldiers we are committed and want to see a free Zimbabwe. But what
it does is give us courage to fight."
Moyo said Tsvangirai would hold walkabouts on Thursday in the Plumtree and
Bulilima areas of soutwestern Zimbabwe after giving up on attempts to stage
"The walkabouts give us an opportunity to meet people where they live rather
than at rallies where we only see people at a gathering," he said.
News of Tsvangirai's detention provoked an avalanche of criticism from
abroad, with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warning it would
"heighten further the fears of the Zimbabwean people and the international
community about the conditions" for the June 27 run-off.
According to the MDC, around 60 of its supporters have been killed by
pro-Mugabe militias in the build-up to June 27 when the 84-year-old
president is hoping to win a sixth term in office.
The opposition says the violence is intended to frighten off voters after
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe into second place in the first round of voting on
March 29 but officially fell just short of an outright majority.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called on the
Mugabe government "to create an atmosphere in Zimbabwe where those who have
political views different than the government can speak out free from
threats of intimidation or violence.
"Sadly that is not the case but we are going to continue to speak out about
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP)--There is no prospect of free and fair
elections taking place in rural areas of Zimbabwe this month, the U.S.
ambassador to Harare said Thursday, although he added the opposition should
still contest the ballot.
"In the countryside, there is no way this will be a free and fair
election," James McGee told reporters at a briefing following the detention
of a U.S. and U.K. diplomatic convoy.
"I think Mr. Tsvangirai is very brave to go out and fight for this
election. No matter what, though, he has to. If he doesn't, he is going to
just hand this election to those folks who may not have the best interests
of Zimbabwe in their hearts."
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, is seeking to end Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's 28-year rule
at a run-off election on June 27.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Thu 5 Jun 2008, 18:18 GMT
(Adds quote, background)
HARARE, June 5 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government said on Thursday it had
indefinitely suspended all work by aid groups and non-governmental
organisations, accusing a number of breaching their terms of registration.
The suspension comes nearly a week after President Robert Mugabe's
government banned some aid groups from distributing food, accusing them of
campaigning for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in general
elections held on March 29.
"It has hereby come to my attention that a number of NGOs involved in
humanitarian operations are breaching the terms and conditions of their
registration ... I hereby instruct all PVOs (Private Voluntary
Organisations)/NGOs to suspend all field operations until further notice,"
read a notice, written by Nicholas Goche, Minister of Public Service, Labour
and Social Welfare, to the groups.
Goche refused to comment when contacted by Reuters. (Reporting by MacDonald
Dzirutwe; Editing by Peter Millership)
Zanu-PF lost a string of seats to the MDC in the Manicaland province in
March but that support will be tested in the presidential election
Sophie Shaw in Manicaland
Thursday June 5 2008
Manicaland, in eastern Zimbabwe, was one of the provinces where Robert
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party was shocked by the strength of support for the
opposition MDC in March.
The party lost a string of parliamentary seats and Morgan Tsvangirai
outpolled Mugabe in the presidential race. But it is hard to believe the
province is ready to repeat this defiance on June 27.
In Rusape, Zanu-PF youth militias jog along the streets, singing liberation
songs. Some wave clubs or axes at passing vehicles. Chinese-made Zanu-PF
pickup trucks are everywhere.
In Mutiweshiri, villagers are being enticed to party rallies by the arrival
of a truck from the government-run Grain Marketing Board, loaded with
imported maize meal. Only those pledging support for Zanu-PF will benefit.
Goodwill, a secondary school teacher explained what this meant. "I should be
apolitical, but the government has labelled all teachers as MDC
sympathisers, so I won't eat".
Goodwill has greater reason than hunger for fear. A Zanu-PF youth militia
raided the school where his wife teaches. The youths, armed with axes and
sticks, led the teachers out to the playing field, ordered them to lie on
their stomachs then beat them on the legs and buttocks.
When these beatings began in April, they were generally superficial, but
attacks with axes, clubs and now guns causing deaths and serious injuries
are becoming more common. Goodwill was tipped off that his school would be
raided and has started sleeping out in the open to avoid attack.
In Nyanga, David, another teacher fleeing violence is sleeping on a
relative's floor, too scared to live at home. "I have been unable to access
any assistance," he says. "The international NGOs are saying there are no
resources for displaced people, Perhaps it is because we are seen as
Without even his limited income of £4 per month, David relies on his
extended family for support. But in the absence of UN refugee centres or
feeding stations, family networks are coming under strain, as more refugees
arrive from rural areas.
MDC activists say they are under siege. Promise, a newly elected councillor
in Mutare, gave an account of a typical attack. "I was asleep at home when I
heard a knock on my door at 4am. I ignored it, but the Zanu-PF people
tricked my mother into opening the door.
"They dragged me into my back yard and asked my age. When I said I was 36,
they said I would get a beating for every year. They hung me upside down and
beat me all over".
Promise has a broken hand and complains that his ears have not stopped
ringing since the attack.
Promise, like many other MDC officials, has fled his area and wonders how
his party can campaign with its activists in such disarray: "Nothing can
stop Zanu-PF stealing the election now".
The only optimistic thought he can offer is that, "the village people
surprised us with their courage on March 29 and they may do so again".
But it will not be easy for villagers to vote freely. According to Promise,
Zanu-PF has activated "sniffers" in each ward to "consolidate fear." And
villagers in Honde Valley have been instructed to vote with solid Zanu-PF
supporters, so their ballots can be monitored.
The police are careful not to get in the way of Zanu-PF. But many officers
have encouraged the MDC to resist attacks. Promise recalls one officer
telling him: "You are the majority now."
The MDC set up self-defence groups in April, which resisted attacks in parts
of Manicaland and Masvingo. Abendigo, a senior provincial official still at
his post, said: "For a while we could say to them, if you burn one house in
Chikuku, MDC will burn two".
But these groups, armed only with sticks, are now outgunned. Zanu-PF has
deployed army units and issued its own militias with guns. Reports of
shooting victims are now streaming in.
In Zaka this week, armed men attacked an MDC office, shooting those sleeping
inside, then pouring petrol over them, setting them alight and locking the
office to trap them in the blaze. Two people were killed and two more
suffered life-threatening burns. The Zaka attack demonstrates Zanu-PF's new
willingness to use lethal force.
The MDC is powerless to resist and local officials are confused as to what
response to offer. Some despair of victory on June 27, as so many supporters
have been driven from their homes.
Others remain optimistic, but call for a delay in the voting or the
deployment of peacekeepers. As Abendigo says: "People are blaming the
leadership for fleeing violence, but leaving the voters to face it. Many
people say to us, 'Where are you? Can't you save us? Can't you give us
Karl, a senior trade unionist in Mutare explains Zanu-PF's tactics. "When
Zanu-PF names you as an opposition supporter, you have to confess your sins
and hand something over to show your repentance - your MDC t-shirt or
membership card - to prove you have been born again and baptised in the name
of Robert Mugabe".
Karl believes that Zanu-PF is not prepared to relinquish power and has plans
to respond to all possible outcomes. The violence might be sufficient to
deter opposition voters, allowing Mugabe to win outright.
Alternatively, Mugabe could announce victory, despite a Tsvangirai win, and
call for a government of national unity under his presidency. Karl's
assessment is that many opportunists within Tsvangirai's ranks would take
the chance of power.
If, "by some miracle", Tsvangirai is declared the winner, Mugabe's generals
are signalling their readiness to stage a coup. Mugabe's new unofficial
slogan is, according to Karl: "There will be war if I lose".
Two months ago, areas like Manicaland were hopeful, confident that a change
of government was possible, despite Mugabe's will for power. Hope has now
faded. The outcome of Zimbabwe's election will depend on whether the poorest
and most marginalised people defy their hardships.
Names have been changed. Sophie Shaw is a pseudonym
June 05 2008 at 07:38PM
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has gained Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe's permission to send a high-ranking UN envoy to help the nation try
to hold a free and fair June 27 runoff election, UN officials said Thursday.
Ban met with Mugabe on the sidelines of the UN food summit in Rome
earlier this week and "highlighted the need to stop the violence and to
deploy neutral international observers," UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe
While talking with Mugabe, Ban suggested sending Haile Menkerios, a
Harvard-educated diplomat and former Eritrean ambassador, to Zimbabwe "to
discuss ways of how the United Nations can help in the election process,"
Mugabe agreed to Ban's request, she said.
Ban now plans to send Menkerios, the UN assistant secretary-general
for political affairs, to Zimbabwe within days, as soon as Menkerios obtains
The opposition and rights groups have accused Mugabe of orchestrating
violence and intimidation in the run-up to the vote.
The 61-year-old Menkerios was appointed by Ban to the No. 2 political
affairs job in May 2007. He previously was deputy UN special representative
in the Congo and directed one of the Africa divisions in the Department of
In the 1990s, he represented the Eritrean government in varying roles
as ambassador to the UN, to Ethiopia, to the Organization of African Unity
and as special envoy to Somalia and the Great Lakes region.
Menkerios would face a challenging situation in Zimbabwe, where
opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai placed first in the
March elections and now faces a runoff with Mugabe.
US and British diplomats were attacked Thursday while trying to
investigate political violence in Zimbabwe and a US Embassy staffer was
beaten, an embassy spokesman said. The group was stopped at a roadblock just
north of Harare.
Tsvangirai resumed campaigning Thursday after spending nine hours in
police detention Wednesday, when he was stopped at a roadblock.
Tsvangirai only returned to Zimbabwe in late May to campaign. He had
gone into self-imposed exile soon after the March 29 first election round,
because his party said he was the target of a military assassination plot.
He has survived at least three assassination attempts since 1997. - Sapa-AP
By Tichaona Sibanda
5 June 2008
Advocate Eric Matinenga, the MDC MP elect for Buhera West in Manicaland, was
set free on Thursday from police custody after a Mutare magistrate ordered
Matinenga was picked up from the party offices in Buhera on Saturday for
allegedly inciting violence in his constituency. Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC
MP elect for Makoni south and the spokesman in the province, said the
magistrate ordered his release as the state failed to prove he had committed
Muchauraya said his arrest was politically motivated, as was the case with
all MDC officials and activists countrywide. Matinenga became the second MDC
MP in Manicaland to be arrested after Trevor Saruwaka, the MDC MP for Mutasa
South, spent 21 days in custody facing similar charges.
'We wish to condemn the police for their overzealousness in dealing with the
MDC. We know the whole intention is to remove the concerned MPs from their
campaign programmes. In Matinenga's case the police wanted to frustrate him,
they wanted to humiliate him as well,' Muchauraya said.
Another MP, Misheck Kagurabadza of Mutasa South, has been in hiding for a
month following threats of arrest. But the MDC said no amount of
intimidation or death threats will stop its elected MPs and officials for
campaigning for it's leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
'These arrests will not deter even the smallest man in the party from
campaigning for the presidential run-off. Zanu-PF is behaving like headless
chickens, short of ideas on how to win the hearts and minds of the people of
Zimbabwe. They used violence in Matabeleland during the Gukurahundi but
Joshua Nkomo went on to win all seats in the region in 1985,' Muchauraya
Meanwhile the MDC MP for Marondera. Ian Kay is still in custody at a remote
police post in Murehwa. Kay was picked up from his home in Marondera two
weeks ago for allegedly inciting violence. He's expected to appear in court
on Monday next week.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Attached please find a copy of the letter that went out to Secretary General
I will also be sharing it with organizations that follow Zimbabwe, Africa,
and human rights in general.
Tom Mulloy, MSSA, LSW
Office of Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Washington, DC 20515
p. (202) 225-5871
f. (202) 225-5745
Read the letter here
Monsters and Critics
Jun 5, 2008, 9:07 GMT
Cape Town - The leader of a faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) Thursday accused President Robert Mugabe of trying
to clobber the opposition in the run-up to another crucial vote on his
Arthur Mutambara was speaking from the audience at the World Economic Forum
on Africa in Cape Town a day after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was held by
police for campaigning in the second round of presidential elections on June
Tsvangirai was detained for questioning for around nine hours with several
other party officials while campaigning in the west of the country. He was
released Wednesday night without charge, his spokesman George Sibotshiwe
Harassment of MDC members has intensified in the run-up to the June 27
election that pits Tsvangirai, 56, against Mugabe, 84, for leader for the
second time in three months.
Tsvangirai took more votes than Mugabe in the first round of voting on March
29 but not enough, according to the official results that were held back for
five weeks, for an outright win.
The MDC says over 60 of its supporters have been killed in attacks by
pro-Mugabe militia and dozens of its members arrested.
'He is trying to destroy the capacity of the opposition,' Mutambara said of
Mugabe, adding, in response to a question, that the MDC would not recognize
a Mugabe run-off victory that had been achieved through 'genocide.'
Mutambara, leader of a smaller MDC faction that broke away from Tsvangirai
in 2005 but reunited with Tsvangirai's faction in April, was arrested last
weekend over an a newspaper article he wrote criticizing the government and
a High Court decision.
He has been charged with contempt of court and giving false information
prejudicial to the state.
On Wednesday African leaders received a dressing down from Kenyan Prime
Minister Raila Odinga over their handling of Zimbabwe's election crisis.
'It's unfortunate that in an African country elections can be held and no
results are announced in more than a month,' he said at the Cape Town
'And African leaders are silent about it.'
June 05 2008 at 10:53AM
Harare - Her voice sounded agitated. The cellphone line crackled,
making the conversation frustratingly fragmented. Like everything else in
Zimbabwe, the communication system is disintegrating rapidly.
"Things are really terrible here and it's getting worse," said Kerry
"But Iain is strong. David, our son, saw him at lunchtime. No, he's
not in Mutoko prison, he's at Murehwa. They tried to transfer him to Mutoko,
which is further away, but the vehicle broke down."
She gave a wry laugh and then the dubious cell connection dropped
altogether. That's one of the many remarkable aspects of the Kay family.
They have maintained a sense of humour that has transcended eight years of
relentless violence and brutality perpetrated by the Mugabe regime, wrecking
their own lives and those of people across Zimbabwe.
Previously a successful commercial farmer, Iain was committed to
helping his neighbours in the communal areas bordering the farm to become
more efficient and productive.
He was immensely popular - too popular for the liking of the Zanu-PF
government which had managed to subjugate the rural areas using a combined
strategy of patronage and intimidation.
After being severely beaten up on two occasions and then forced off
his farm in 2002, Iain, who is a fluent Shona speaker, was persuaded to go
into politics. In the March 29 poll, he was elected as the Movement for
Democratic Change MP for Marondera.
The excitement of his constituents was short-lived. The Mugabe regime
immediately implemented a brutal operation to eliminate the MDC structures
on the ground.
The MDC has reported that more than 50 of its members have been killed
since the election and hundreds have been beaten or tortured.
Thousands of opposition supporters - estimates are as high as 40 000 -
have been deliberately displaced through the destruction of their homes and
Iain Kay joins the list of MDC MPs who have been thrown into jail on
false charges to hamstring their activities.
The charge against him of "inciting violence" is clearly preposterous
and the state has been unable to provide a single item of evidence.
The high court granted Kay Z$60 billion (R700) bail on Tuesday. -
This article was originally published on page 6 of The Mercury on June
OUR REF: OCG/pmd
Thursday June 5, 2008
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
Attention: The Honourable Justice Chiweshe
Re: SENATOR OBERT CHAURURA GUTU: COMPLAINT AGAINST ZANU-PF
I was elected to be the Senator for Chisipite senatorial constituency during
the harmonised elections that were held on March 29, 2008.
On Tuesday June 3, 2008, a group of ZANU-PF youths descended on Mushayavanhu
Business Centre in Gutu, where I own a retail business trading as Goldstar
Investments. The said youths threatened my shop assistant, Tendai Tengwende,
with death if he refused to allow them to put ZANU-PF campaign posters on
the walls of my shop. Fearing for his life, Tendai Tengwende had no option
but to let the ZANU-PF youths put their campaign posters on the walls of my
shop. Since I am not a member of ZANU-PF I am deeply offended by the conduct
of the ZANU-PF youths who forcibly placed their party's campaign posters on
the walls of my shop.
Needless to state, the conduct of the ZANU-PF youths is not only unlawful;
but it is also highly provocative and it was deliberately meant to breach
the peace. My shop assistant cannot remove the campaign posters from the
walls of my shop because the ZANU-PF youths threatened to come back and kill
him should he make any attempt to remove their campaign posters. My shop is
private property and certainly, I have no desire whatsoever to entertain the
placing of ZANU-PF campaign posters on my private property. I was elected
Senator for Chisipite on an MDC ticket and I still remain a member of the
By forcibly placing Zanu (PF) campaign posters on the walls of my shop, the
ZANU-PF youths are seeking to portray me as a ZANU-PF member and/or
symphathiser when I am definitely not one. Since your commission is
responsible for running and conducting all elections in Zimbabwe in
accordance with your constitutional mandate, I write this letter to you
requesting your office to promptly engage the leadership of ZANU-PF to
ensure that the afore-mentioned offending campaign posters are promptly
removed from the walls of my shop at Mushayavanhu Business Centre, Gutu. By
copy of this letter, I am informing the Commissioner-General of the Zimbabe
Republic Police of my utmost disappointment with the behaviour and conduct
of the ZANU-PF youths and I trust that appropriate action shall forthwith be
taken against the youths responsible for unlawfully defacing the walls of my
I trust that I will hear from your office urgently and I would like to take
this opportunity to thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.
O.C. GUTU (SENATOR)
GUTU & CHIKOWERO
cc The Commissioner General
Zimbabwe Republic Police
cc The Officer-in-Charge
Zimbabwe Republic Police
cc The Secretary for Information & Publicity
Movement for Democratic Change
Attention: Hon. Nelson Chamisa (This is for your information only.)
Thursday, 05 June 2008 07:14
HARARE - Three of Mugabe's trusted cadres Economic Development
Minister Sylvester Nguni, Masvingo South MP and Deputy Water Resources
Minister Walter Mzembi and Governor of Mashonaland East Ray Kaukonde have
added their voice of concern over Mugabe's hold on power.
The trio joins former Finance Minister Simba Makoni and ZANU (PF)
member of Politburo Dumiso Dabengwa in distancing themselves from Mugabe's
grip on power, even though they have been beneficiaries of looting and
pillaging of state resources during his tenure.
Speaking to The Zimbabwean in an exclusive interview Nguni said
Zimbabweans were fed up with hunger and unemployment and said they needed a
government that would bring back glory days of the early 1980s.
"Our people are worried so much of challenges they are facing. The
issue of hunger, unemployment and life expectancy that has been cut by half
are real issues facing our citizens and they need to be addressed urgently,"
Speaking in a tone that seemed conciliatory Mzembi said Zimbabweans
needed to grow beyond partisan politics and start tolerating divergent views
so as to work towards nation building.
"I don't have problems working in an MDC government; I don't have
problems having an MDC president as long the needs of our people will be met
and Zimbabweans manage to leave in peace and harmony again," said Mzembi.
Kaukonde, a prominent business person who last year had a brush with
Mugabe over price slashing, said some of the policies he takes collective
responsibility for, were ill-advised, ill-conceived and misplaced.
"Zimbabwe has crumbled due to failed production and bad policies that
we pursued in the government. Whoever wins the coming elections will be
faced by a huge task of national building and destroying partisan
structures," lamented Kaukonde.
meanwhile well placed sources alleges a number of ZANU (PF) MPs are
meeting behind the scenes with influential members of the MDC in bid to
secure cabinet post in a run off that Mugabe is tipped to lose.
Thursday, 05 June 2008 07:16
ROME - Robert Mugabe's request for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI
has been rejected by the Vatican, and the embattled leader's entourage has
been confined to a 25km radius of the five-star Ambasciatore, one of Rome's
Top Catholic sources said Mugabe had requested a private papal
audience while he is in Rome to attend a large UN summit of world leaders to
discuss world food security, that started on Tuesday and ends today.
Mugabe, whose attendance at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
summit in the Italian capital, Rome, has provoked an angry response, has
been told that other world leaders have also requested an audience and that
it would be impossible for the Pope to meet each of them separately as they
will only be in Rome for at least 48 hours.
Informed sources however said the Pope's decision to snub a meeting
with Mugabe was fortuitous given the veteran ruler's worsening despotic
Mugabe, a Catholic educated by Jesuit missionaries, regularly attends
Mass in the capital, Harare. Zimbabwe's bishops' conference - the county has
nine Catholic bishops - has regularly slammed his bad governance, economic
mismanagement, graft and human rights violations, and has been applying
pressure on him to step down.
"No doubt the Vatican and the Holy Father would have made allowances
if they could to meet Mugabe: the Holy See is always open to dialogue with
everyone," said a senior Catholic source. "But it would have been seen by
many as highly inappropriate given his repressive rule. It would have risked
seriously upsetting the Zimbabwean flock."
Thursday, 05 June 2008 07:18
BY TRACY SHOKO
The Zimbabwe Republic Police has started forced registrations of
civilians as members of the police force in order for them to qualify to
vote under the postal voting system, in what has been described as vote
fraud ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off election.
This is in violation of the Electoral Act as wives and the dependants
of members of the security forces are not allowed to vote under the postal
voting system. Postal voting is voluntary.
Under the Electoral Act, only members of the security forces deployed
on duty outside their voting constituencies as well as civil servants on
duty outside the country are the only ones allowed to vote under the postal
But reliable sources told The Zimbabwean that civilians - especially
youth militias, wives and dependants of the police officers - are undergoing
secret forced registrations as neighbour hood watch committee members in
order to qualify to vote under the postal voting system.
Wives and dependants targeted under the forced registrations are those
residing at police camps who have been threatened with eviction or job
losses for their breadwinners who are police officers. Morale is said to be
low at the police camps over the forced registrations.
"This is envisaged to give Mugabe at least 20 000 votes from the
police force," said a senior police officer.
5th Jun 2008 08:13 GMT
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington -- With less than one month before Zimbabwe's presidential runoff
election, the United States is calling on neighboring states, such as South
Africa, to use their influence to exercise "the maximum amount of leverage"
on the government of President Robert Mugabe in the wake of violence and
intimidation against the political opposition.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said June 4 that Morgan
Tsvangirai, who faces Mugabe in the June 27 runoff, was detained by
government forces in the town of Lupane. Tsvangirai was released after eight
hours of detention and was not charged with any crime.
Prior to his release, McCormack said the opposition leader "should be
released immediately unharmed, [and] untouched," describing the detention as
"deeply disturbing" and recalling that Tsvangirai had been beaten while in
police custody in March 2007. (See "Rice Calls for Release of Zimbabwean
Opposition Leaders (
Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has seen four
other party leaders arrested ahead of the runoff vote, and the party claims
that 58 of its supporters have been killed by pro-government forces since
the March 29 presidential and parliamentary vote.
According to an MDC chairman, two Tsvangirai supporters were burned to death
by suspected supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party June 4 in Masvingo
CONCERTED EFFORT NEEDED TO ENCOURAGE CHANGE IN ZIMBABWE
McCormack said the United States has imposed tough sanctions against
Zimbabwe's leadership that are targeted "in a way that would not, we hope,
affect the Zimbabwean people in a negative way." However, the Bush
administration and others in the international community are "simply up
against ... the hard facts of international politics" regarding the
situation in Zimbabwe.
"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," he said. "And states like South Africa,
for example, need to use the leverage that they have."
South Africa is not the only country with leverage over Mugabe's government,
but Pretoria is "uniquely positioned" to encourage a change in behavior,
The United States and other individual countries can levy 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," he said.
A senior State Department official told reporters June 4 that the United
States wants to see election observers in place for the June 27 runoff vote,
as well as a "truly independent" election commission and provision by the
military of "a secure atmosphere where everybody can vote."
The official called for international financial assistance for the election
observers, saying there is likely a good supply of individuals in the region
and the international community, but they may need additional resources to
help them do their jobs.
Although the Bush administration is hoping for a free and fair vote,
"certainly there's a healthy suspicion that Mugabe would do everything he
could to stay in power," based on previous behavior.
"We need to be prepared for a variety of different outcomes," the official
said. "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best."
At the White House, press secretary Dana Perino said June 4 that Zimbabwe's
decision to ban the activities of CARE International, Save the Children and
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) showed the government's
"callous indifference" to its people, which could lead to
"government-induced starvation in Zimbabwe." (See "Zimbabwe Suspends CARE
Operations, Leaving 110,000 Without Food (
Under Mugabe's 20-year rule, Zimbabwe has transformed from being a food
exporter to becoming reliant on international assistance to feed its people.
A high rate of inflation and shortages of basic commodities such as cooking
oil and cornmeal have left many, especially in rural areas, dependent on the
activities of the aid agencies.
Cephas Zinhumwe, chief executive of Zimbabwe's National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), told Agence France Presse June 4
that the aid organizations had been accused of campaigning for the
opposition, a charge the agencies have denied.
"If we continue like this, we are going to have a crisis," Zinhumwe said.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)
June 05 2008 at 06:05PM
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga described President Robert Mugabe
as a dictator on Thursday in one of the harshest attacks on the Zimbabwean
ruler by another African leader.
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a
March election but failed to win the required majority to avoid a run-off.
Tsvangirai's MDC party says it won the poll and is taking part in the June
27 ballot under protest.
"I have advised Morgan Tsvangirai to accept to participate in the
run-off, which has been called because dictators know no boundaries," Odinga
told a news conference at the World Economic Forum for Africa in Cape Town.
Odinga disputed the victory of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in an
election in December, prompting deadly clashes, but the former opposition
leader then agreed to a power-sharing deal.
Odinga said Tsvangirai's decision to campaign in the run-off would
show "how far Mugabe and his cronies are willing to go."
Zimbabwe's opposition has said it fears that Mugabe's officials will
rig the results of the run-off to extend his 28-year rule, as they are
accused of doing in past elections.
"As a pan-Africanist, I think that I would be failing in my duty if I
did not point out that what is happening in Zimbabwe is a big embarrassment
to the entire continent of Africa," Odinga added.
"We cannot be speaking about democracy and democratisation of the
continent when we condone what is happening in Zimbabwe."
It is rare for African leaders to publicly criticise Mugabe, who is
still seen as a hero by millions on the continent for fighting to end
British rule in Zimbabwe in 1980 and for supporting other anti-colonial
South African President Thabo Mbeki has been among those criticised
for taking too soft a line on Mugabe's government, which has presided over
an economic meltdown marked by inflation over 165 000 percent and chronic
Thu 5 Jun 2008, 8:05 GMT
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's presidential election run-off should be
scrapped to prevent further bloodshed, the ruling party defector who came
third in the first round said on Thursday.
Former finance minister Simba Makoni won over 8 percent and his votes could
in theory be crucial in swinging the June 27 contest between opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai and veteran President Robert Mugabe.
Makoni, who favours a national unity government, told reporters that
Zimbabwe could not afford another election and it would not end the
political crisis and economic collapse.
"We are convinced that the last thing our country and its people need is
another election. Besides, the violence now gripping the country bodes ill
for a free and fair election," Makoni said on the sidelines of a World
Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town.
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the March 29 presidential election but failed
to win the absolute majority needed to avoid a second ballot.
Makoni's campaign had said before the first round that he would back
Tsvangirai if voting went to a run-off, but since then he was not formally
endorsed the opposition leader.
Mugabe's vow never to allow Tsvangirai's MDC to take power has stoked
opposition fears that the ruling ZANU-PF will use intimidation and
vote-rigging to extend the president's 28-year rule.
Tsvangirai was detained for nine hours on Wednesday as he campaigned
southwest of Harare.
The opposition says 65 people have been killed by Mugabe's supporters since
the election. On Wednesday it said soldiers and ZANU-PF activists had beaten
and threatened to shoot Zimbabweans who wanted to support Tsvangirai.
Mugabe says the opposition is responsible for violence.
The MDC said Tsvangirai, who has been arrested and even beaten by police in
the past, had continued his campaign on Thursday.
He described his detention as "yet another indication of the lengths that
the Mugabe regime is prepared to go to in order to try and steal the
Makoni said harassment of opposition leaders and assaults on lawyers and
people dealing with the victims of political violence was aimed at creating
a hostile environment for a free and fair run-off.
"And if the leaders will that the elections be put off so that we can save
lives ... then it is not beyond us if we will it that the elections be
called off," he said.
State media reported on Thursday that the ruling ZANU-PF party and
Tsvangirai's MDC have set up a joint team to stop political violence.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) had facilitated the establishment of a committee comprising ZANU-PF
and MDC officials to stem violence.
But MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the team was unlikely to stop the
"This all appears bold on paper, but not in practice," Chamisa told Reuters.
June 5, 2008
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - When 600 Zimbabwean citizens arrived in the border town of Beit
Bridge on Monday in buses provided by the state, government officials
promised them a piece of land each.
At least 100 of them were on Wednesday still stranded in Masvingo city after
the state failed to transport them back to their original homes.
Many of the stranded returnees, most of them youths fleeing from the
xenophobic violence that has claimed more than 56 lives in South Africa, now
vow to return there.
The returning citizens, who on arrival were all promised an allocation of
land by Matabeleland South governor, Angeline Masuku, said they were dumped
in Masvingo, where they have now spent more than three days without food or
"When we were told that there were free buses which were taking us home we
thought we were being taken back to our original homes", said Tapiwa
Chipinge of Gutu.
"We are now stranded here in the city and we do not know what to do because
we were just dumped here. Hunger and shelter have been the biggest problem
since we came on Monday.
"The best thing for us to do is to return back to South Africa because life
in our own country is unbearable."
Another returnee Nhamo Chouriri of Bikita said they had no option but to go
back to South Africa.
"Despite the xenophobic attacks life in South Africa was good", said
Chouriri. "Right now we are hungry and the state is doing nothing for us. We
are going back to South Africa because it is better to die of these attacks
than to die of hunger".
Masvingo provincial governor Willard Chiwewe yesterday said the government
was working out modalities to ensure that the returnees are taken back to
their original homes.
Said Chiwewe:" We are going to provide transport to ensure that the
returnees are taken right to their door steps.
"We have been facing a fuel problem since Monday that is why we could not
take them back to their homes on time.
Xenophobic attacks in South Africa have claimed the lives of 60 foreigners
and thousands of Zimbabweans are flocking back into the country. The
Zimbabwean government this week provided nine buses to ferry the returnees
back into the country.
South Africa is home to millions of Zimbabweans who have escaped from a
serious economic melt-down in their own country.
South Africans accuse foreigners of engaging in criminal activities and of
taking away their jobs and other resources.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union condemns the violent response by the
riot police at yesterday peaceful demonstration at the Bulawayo
Polytechnic.It is shocking that the police had to descend campus armed with
sophisticated artillery including hand grenades,rubber truncheons,AK
47assault rifles, on the defenceless students who were only armed with their
books and pens.Students were severely beaten as riot police tried to
disperse the crowd.This resulted in about 4students being injured and were
yesterday admitted at Galen House clinic.The students were protesting among
other things a top up fees of 75 billion which the college is forcing them
to pay,a demand to an end to the ongoing political violence rocking the
nation, and the living conditions on campus.We warn those who are inflicting
pain and suffering on the students and people of Zimbabwe that justice will
prevail soon,we are determined to fight for a bright future for our
country,were education will be accessed by all without favour.We urge the
students to gear up for the runoff presidential election as it is the day we
are finishing off the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe.
Former Students Union President
Zimbabwe National Students Union
+263 23 234 650