|GRACE MUGABE . . . The new group of hardline war veterans claims she is their patron|
HARARE – A new group of hardline supporters of President Robert Mugabe – whose patron is his wife, Grace – is urging the government to abort the electoral process and instead reconstitute the old parliament dominated by the ruling ZANU PF party and let the veteran leader keep his job.
The group of former fighters of Zimbabwe’s 1970s war of independence said it wanted the June 27 second round presidential election shelved until Western countries lifted sanctions against Mugabe’s government, which the group said have hurt the economy and turned voters against the Harare administration.
The group, calling itself the Revolutionary Council and led by war veteran Chris Pasipamire, said its major objective was to defend Mugabe’s controversial land reforms that saw white farmers expelled and their farms handed over to blacks, most of them supporters or top officials of ZANU PF.
“As the Revolutionary Council we hereby demand that the whole electoral process be set aside and the old parliament be re-constituted with President Mugabe remaining the head of state,” said the group that announced its arrival on Zimbabwe’s political scene late on Wednesday night.
“No run-off (election) will be held until the sanctions are lifted . . . elections are not a priority now as they serve no purpose except regime change,” the war veterans group said.
War veterans are key allies of Mugabe who he often uses as shock troops to intimidate political opponents.
While Pasipamire said Grace was the patron of the Revolutionary Council, Mugabe’s wife was not immediately available to confirm her role in the organisation or whether she subscribed to its call to abort the electoral process.
But Grace last week told ZANU PF supporters that her husband would never handover power to opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Moragn Tsvangirai even if he were to win the second round presidential election later this month.
Grace – 40 years junior to the 84-year old Mugabe and known for her love for shopping – said her husband would give up power only to someone from his ZANU PF party.
The run-off election is being held because Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March 29 poll but failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote needed to take power under the country's electoral laws.
Tsvangirai, who polled 47.8 percent of the vote in March against Mugabe’s 43.2 percent starts as favourite to win the run-off election. However, analysts say political violence that has to date killed at least 60 MDC supporters and displaced thousands others might just tilt the scales in favour of Mugabe.
Meanwhile MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa on Thursday dismissed the Revolutionary Council as a ZANUPF-sponsored group out to sow confusion ahead of the run-off poll.
Chamisa said: “The run-off is a legal requirement . . . we don’t care a jot about a ZANU PF-sponsored organisation afraid that Mugabe’s time is up.” – ZimOnline.
The tight circle of "securocrats", who sit on the Joint Operations Command (JOC) committee, are now believed to be in day-to-day charge of Zimbabwe's government.
They ensured Mr Mugabe did not step down after his defeat in the presidential election's first round in March and are now masterminding a campaign of terror to suppress the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and guarantee victory for Mr Mugabe in the June 27 run-off.
The government indefinitely suspended all work by aid groups and non-governmental organisations, accusing them of breaching their terms of registration.
Mr Mugabe is a useful figurehead who still commands the deference of other African leaders, notably President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.
But the western diplomat said Mr Mugabe's power had ebbed away and Zimbabwe was now run by a "junta".
"This is a military coup by stealth," he said. "There are no tanks on people's lawns, but the Joint Operations Command runs this country."
The most powerful figures on the JOC are Gen Constantine Chiwenga, the overall military chief; Augustine Chihuri, the national police commissioner, and Gen Paradzai Zimondi, the commander of the prison service.
Air Marshal Perence Shiri, the commander of the air force, who masterminded a brutal military campaign against Zimbabwe's minority Ndebele people in the 1980s, is also part of the circle, although believed to be less influential.
All four fought in Mr Mugabe's guerrilla army during the war against white rule in the 1970s. Each has publicly proclaimed their support for the ruling Zanu-PF party.
They have also benefited from Mr Mugabe's seizure of white-owned land, with farms and business concessions falling into their hands, allowing them to amass considerable wealth.
The diplomat said after the first round of the election on March 29, Mr Mugabe, 84, "almost went" when it became clear that Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, had won significantly more votes.
But a pivotal meeting of the JOC on March 30 convinced him to stay.
"The generals didn't let him go," said the diplomat. From that moment, Mr Mugabe was "beholden to his senior generals to hold office".
Another source inside Zimbabwe confirmed: "He [Mugabe] was prepared to concede but the generals, whose positions would become uncertain with his departure, prevented that from happening," he said.
Other observers backed the diplomat's view that Zimbabwean politics had fundamentally changed.
Tiseke Kasambala, a Zimbabwe specialist at Human Rights Watch, said there was an "increasing militarisation of the state".
"The evidence points to an increasing role by the army in state affairs," she said.
"The army is no longer just in barracks, waiting to protect the country. The army is out there, taking a role in the day-to-day government of the country."
Mr Mugabe does not fear his generals will actually overthrow him – they still need him as the regime's titular leader – or he would not have travelled to Rome for the United Nations food summit this week.
However, observers believe Mr Mugabe's age and his new dependence on the generals means he is no longer the sole arbiter of Zimbabwe's fate.
Afrol News, Norway
afrol News, 5 June - Following yesterday's 9-hour detention of opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, reports of anger and outrage are streaming in from
all over the world, indicating Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe at last has
managed to alienate even his last friends. Also regional leaders, including
South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, clearly marked President Mugabe has now crossed
Mr Tsvangirai was only freed from police detention after a phone appeal by
South African President Thabo Mbeki to the Harare government, Mr Mbeki's
spokesman said today. President Mbeki has until now been the guarantor of he
Mugabe regime, letting the Zimbabwean leader go through with most foul
tricks to stop Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) gaining
This first direct intervention by President Mbeki into Zimbabwean affairs
marks a radical shift from his earlier "quiet diplomacy" line. In March
2007, when Mr Tsvangirai was detained and heavily tortured, President Mbeki
failed to act. Since that, however, pressure in South Africa and from
development partners has made Mr Mbeki realise his unconditional support for
President Mugabe must end.
The turning point possibly came after the March presidential election, where
Mr Tsvangirai was credited more votes than President Mugabe. While a second
poll round, slated for 27 June, is still needed to name a winner, the
elections indicated that Mr Mugabe's days in power may be counted and
regional leader need to come to terms with Zimbabwe's future leader. This
time, Mr Tsvangirai's arrest thus was seen as crossing the line, causing Mr
Mbei to intervene.
But the intervention only came after massive pressure from the national
opposition and foreign leaders. South Africa's main opposition party, the
Democratic Alliance (DA) earlier vehemently slammed the arrests of Mr
Tsvangirai and party key representative Arthur Mutambara. The party urged
President Mbeki to call upon President Mugabe to immediately release Mr
Mutambara. The latter was apprehended during the weekend for expressing a
stern dissatisfaction over the way government was handling the country's
In a bid to ensure that President Mbeki heeds the outcry, the DA requested
him to require of Mr Mugabe to convince the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) that his government will give the opposition unreserved
access to campaign, without intimidation, by either the ruling ZANU-PF or
any of the state organs, in accordance with existing electoral policies.
More significantly, other African state leaders are now going on clear
distance to President Mugabe. Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga described
the Zimbabwean leader as a dictator of yesterday in one of the harshest
attacks by any African office holders against Mr Mugabe. Mr Odinga
reportedly said Mr Tsvangirai's decision to campaign in the run off would
show "how far Mugabe and his supporters are willing to go."
Also the MDC has put pressure on regional leaders to finally intervene as
Zimbabwe's economy and social structures are falling apart. The MCD blames
the Mugabe government for chronic economic hardships and widespread
shortages of basic commodities affecting most Zimbabweans. Around 80 percent
of the country's 11.6 million people live in abject poverty, with the
country's inflation officially at 269 percent. Some four million
Zimbabweans - a third of the population - are believed to need food aid this
Hundreds of opposition supporters and officials, including lawmakers have
been arrested and some of them beaten, during the protests, the MDC has
said. The party claims that 65 of its supporters have been killed in
political attacks. The Harare government however says that the scale of the
violence has been exaggerated and blamed the MDC for instigating attacks.
Mr Tsvangarai's short-lived detention also caused outrage around the world.
Sharp worded protests were emitted by the Washington government, the British
Foreign Affairs Minister, the European Union (EU) Commission and human
rights groups around the world. "The situation raises the wider concern that
appropriate conditions be in place ahead of and during the second round of
presidential elections," noted for example EU Development Commissioner Louis
For its part, the US government has called for urgent dialogue between the
MDC and the ruling party, to alleviate Zimbabwe's economic and political
dead end. The State Department said Mr Mugabe should end the crackdown he is
leading against the opposition in a bid to promote such a dialogue in the
interests of the Zimbabwean people.
It requested the international community, especially African nations to
heighten their efforts to press for the dialogue. "The heightened climate of
confrontation and violence in Zimbabwe this week we think heightens the
urgent need for a dialogue between the government and the opposition," the
State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said. He further blamed the
worsening conditions on the government and appealed on neighbouring
countries to do their part to help ease the situation.
Similar statements have been made by Foreign Ministries across the Western
world, from the UK, via Germany to Australia.
By Leboela Motopi, Rainer Chr Hennig
By Blessing Zulu
05 June 2008
Zimbabwean opposition leader and presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai
was on the presidential campaign trail again Thursday after his release from
police detention for about eight hours on Wednesday in Lupane, Matabeleland
Campaigning in rural communities near Plumtree, Matebeleland South,
Tsvangirai told VOA he he would not let the incident derail his campaign for
president. Tsvangirai will go head to head with President Robert Mugabe in a
run-off ballot on June 27.
But human rights groups voiced concern that Harare is tightening its grip on
the nation with about three weeks to go to the election, already seriously
tarnished by a wave of pervasive and increasingly deadly political violence
targeting the opposition.
Amnesty International issued a statement saying Tsvangirai's detention was
part of a "sudden.and dangerous crackdown on political opposition" in the
At the U.S. State Department, spokesman Sean McCormack called on Zimbabwe's
regional neighbors including South Africa, to exercise "the maximum amount
of leverage" on the Harare government given the rising tide of violence.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga called Mugabe a "dictator" and criticized
African leaders who have been reluctant to criticize him.
Nairobi-based political analyst Brian Kagoro told reporter Blessing Zulu of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mugabe is using terror as a campaign tool.
by Lachlan Carmichael 1 hour, 46 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States said Thursday it was "outraged" at
Zimbabwe's detention of US diplomats, raised the case at the UN Security
Council, and denounced anew Harare's crackdown on the opposition.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Washington that "the
situation in Zimbabwe is really quite difficult and quite grave" ahead of
the presidential run-off elections in Zimbabwe on June 27.
She said the detention of US and British diplomats on top of that of
opposition leaders "demonstrates that this is a regime that is very much out
of step with international norms."
Zimbabwe police detained US and British diplomats Thursday in a dramatic
confrontation at a roadblock after what the government described as a
gathering at the home of an opposition supporter. The diplomats were later
"It is outrageous. It is unacceptable. And while this immediate incident has
been resolved, it will not be forgotten," Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack
told reporters earlier.
The incident occurred a day after the Zimbabwean authorities detained for
several hours the opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai, who faces President
Robert Mugabe in the run-off contest.
The US government has already protested the incident involving its diplomats
directly with the Zimbabwean government.
"We are going to raise this at the Security Council ... and I sincerely hope
that this time the Security Council does not consider the mistreatment of
diplomats to be an internal matter for Zimbabwe," Rice said.
The comments may have been an implicit dig at South African President Thabo
Mbeki, who has refused to criticize Mugabe despite the violence since the
first round of parliamentary and presidential elections on March 29.
Mbeki is the chief mediator between Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party -- which
lost its majority in parliament for the first time since independence in
1980 -- and Tsvangirai's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
Tsvangirai also beat Mugabe in the first round, but officially fell short of
an outright majority.
The 15-member Security Council on Thursday "expressed concern" about the
brief detention of US and British diplomats, US diplomat Jeff Delaurentis
The council urged "respect of the Vienna Convention, in particular
protection of diplomats and property" the minister-counselor at the US
mission to the UN told reporters.
He added that the council, which is under US presidency this month, would
continue to review the case in the next few days.
Rice dismissed any suggestion that the United States might recall diplomats
from Harare, saying they were needed there to ensure "a modicum of civility
and a modicum of fairness" for the run-off.
McCormack said earlier that the US delegation to the UN food security summit
in Rome would seek out its Zimbabwean counterpart there to complain about
the detention of the diplomats.
Although usually barred from the European Union because of sanctions, Mugabe
has been able to head the Zimbabwean delegation to the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) summit in Rome because it is sponsored by the United
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino was scathing about Mugabe.
"The fact that Mugabe then left his country, in the middle of this (economic
and political) crisis, much of which he caused, and went to Rome for a food
conference, is obscene," Perino said.
McCormack's denunciations were unusually strong.
"While we are outraged by this incident, it is really nothing compared to
what the Zimbabwean people suffer on a daily basis," he said.
SW Radio Africa (London)
5 June 2008
Posted to the web 5 June 2008
We received reports that members of the youth militia, recruited by ZANU-PF
to intimidate and assault opposition officials and activists in rural areas,
are now using the vehicles and weapons they were provided with to commit
crimes in the urban areas.
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa reports that crimes such as house
robberies and looting have increased in the last 2 weeks. Some of the young
thugs were caught wearing police uniforms that they used to gain easy entry
into people's houses. The youths are also reported to be stealing foreign
currency and mobile phones from innocent civilians in broad daylight.
Muchemwa spoke to a junior police officer who said that they have been
arresting these young criminals who are armed, only to be ordered by their
seniors to release them without charge. It is believed that the salaries
that the youths were receiving originally have been reduced or cut off
altogether. As Muchemwa explained, ZANU-PF has a history of using young poor
Zimbabweans, then dumping them with no further rewards. Many are now in
desperate need of money and are taking advantage of the lawlessness in the
According to our correspondent, these criminals are travelling in twin cabs
and other vehicles that are known to be owned by the ruling party. Some of
the vehicles were used to transport ZANU-PF candidates and officials during
the election campaign period before March 29. The twin cabs were also used
by the youths to distribute fliers for ZANU-PF candidates. Since the March
elections, several MDC activists have been abducted by war veterans and
youth militia using twin cabs.
The situation in Bulawayo has so far been more peaceful than other parts of
the country. But our Bulawayo correspondent Zenzele reported that ZANU-PF
has recently been recruiting many youths to join the militia. He said
several bases have been opened and at least 1000 youths are to be recruited
to work for ZANU-PF over the election period. It is feared that criminal
acts will intensify as more and more youths find themselves out in the cold,
after being dumped by ZANU-PF after the presidential runoff.
SW Radio Africa (London)
5 June 2008
Posted to the web 5 June 2008
A top official of the MDC disclosed on Thursday that most of it's members
were living in fear of being abducted and murdered, as state sponsored
violence wreaks havoc in rural areas.
Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro said the situation in the rural areas
resembled a war zone, with the movement of armed bands across the whole of
'Personal security is a constant worry and none of us feel safe at all. It's
virtually impossible to mount any meaningful campaign, even in urban areas,'
the MDC MP elect for Gutu South said.
Since the 29th March elections, the regime has waged a retributive campaign
against MDC supporters and activists, in retaliation for the shock defeat of
Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF. Soldiers, war veterans and militias have been
attacking communities, abducting, torturing and killing political opponents.
Mukonoweshuro observed that the campaign was meant to disrupt the electoral
process in many parts of the country, making it impossible for voters to
freely express their will.
'This violence and attempts to manipulate the campaign sadly cast a shadow
over the forthcoming presidential run-off. The violence is an unacceptable
breach of peace and peoples' democratic rights,' Mukonoweshuro said.
He added that it was most unfortunate that a sizable proportion of the
electorate was being deprived of the right to express it's will in the
elections due to the irresponsible, violent and destructive actions of
'Such actions are not conducive to the democratic process. Unfortunately,
the lack of response to the numerous violations we reported soon after the
harmonised elections did little to prevent the serious incidents of violence
that have taken place in the last two months. We urgently urge the
deployment of SADC monitors and observers to come and witness these
atrocities,' the MP said.
by Jameson Mombe Friday 06 June 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe police released opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai only after the intervention of President Thabo Mbeki, a spokesman
for the South African leader said on Thursday.
Mbeki's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, told the media that the South
African president immediately contacted Zimbabwe government officials after
he was informed by Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
of the opposition leader's detention by police in Lupane in Matabeleland
Ratshitanga said, "discussions did take place with government
representatives in Harare in which the president (Mbeki) appealed for Mr
Mbeki is the Southern African Development Community (SADC)'s mediator
on Zimbabwe. As leader of Africa's biggest economy, Mbeki is seen as best
positioned to influence President Robert Mugabe to abandon his controversial
policies and embrace democracy.
However political analysts and the MDC criticise Mbeki for not doing
enough to push Mugabe to end political violence ahead of a June 27 second
round presidential election.
Police arrested Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe and national
chairman Lovemore Moyo as they toured Matabeleland North province to
mobilise support ahead of the run-off presidential election.
Tsvangirai starts off as favourite to win the run-off poll that is
being held because the MDC leader defeated Mugabe in a March 29 poll but
fell short of the margin required to takeover the presidency.
But analysts say political violence that has to date killed at least
60 MDC supporters and displaced thousands others might just tilt the scales
in favour of Mugabe. - ZimOnline
by Own Correspondent Friday 06 June 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Civic society groups on Thursday urged southern African
governments to impose a moratorium on the supply of arms to Zimbabwe where
election violence has killed at least 60 opposition members and displaced
thousands of others.
The groups said such a move by Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Governments would help enhance peace and security before and after Zimbabwe's
second presidential election later this month.
Zimbabwe holds a run-off election on June 27 to choose a winner between
President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who won the
first round poll on March 29 but fell short of the required margin to
takeover the presidency.
Political violence has marred campaigning for the run-off poll, amid charges
by the MDC that Mugabe has unleashed state security forces and ZANU PF
militias to wage violence against the opposition party's supporters and
structures in an attempt to regain the upper hand in the second ballot.
Briefing the media in Johannesburg, Obby Chibuluma of the Coalition for
Peace in Africa said: "We are asking for a moratorium on Zimbabwe to make
sure security is guaranteed before and after the June 27 run-off elections,"
adding that more than 110 000 people globally had since signed a petition on
Minister in the Presidency, Aziz Pahad, was on Thursday expected to receive
the petition from the civil society organisations.
Joseph Dube, Africa coordinator for the International Action Network on
Small Arms said, "We are confident the moratorium will go through. A
moratorium is critical to stabilise Zimbabwe."
Arnold Tsunga, director of the African Programme at the International
Commission of Jurists, said: "Small arms have been used to overturn the rule
of law in Zimbabwe. ZANU PF attempts to do away with effective checks and
"The judicial system is undermined and is now subordinated to a military
that violates human rights. Small arms are used to torment and torture
people and must not be provided to Zimbabwe."
The NGOs expressed concern over South Africa's authorisation of the
transportation of arms in the Chinese ship, An Yue Jiang, destined for
Zimbabwe in May.
It is unclear what became of the Chinese arms shipment with some reports
suggesting that Beijing claims the An Yue Jiang was recalled with its cargo
after southern African maritime countries refused to let the ship dock in
But there have been several reports suggesting that the Chinese ship was
after all able to offload its lethal cargo before turning back home.
They said South Africa had a committee that oversaw the implementation of
this National Conventional Arms Control Act.
The civic bodies said Mbeki, who is the region's chief mediator on Zimbabwe,
should in the first place not have allowed issuing of a permit to the
Chinese to transport weapons through South Africa to Zimbabwe given the
volatile situation in that country. - ZimOnline
(RTTNews) - Zimbabwe's government on Thursday ordered all aid agencies and
non-governmental organizations to suspend their operations in the country,
accusing them of breaching their terms of registration.
"I hereby instruct all PVOs (Private Voluntary Organizations)/NGOs to
suspend all field operations until further notice," read the order written
by Nicholas Goche, Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare.
The suspension order comes a day after the country's opposition and various
rights groups condemned the violence and intimidation ahead of the
presidential run-off elections between opposition's Morgan Tsvangirai and
President Robert Mugabe.
Human rights groups say that President Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party is
pursuing a campaign of intimidation by beating and threatening the
opposition supporters before the run-off elections.
"By introducing restrictions against aid workers in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean
government is attempting to hide the worst of the state-sponsored violence
from the eyes of the world," said Amnesty International, condemning the
For comments and feedback: contact firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jonga Kandemiiri
05 June 2008
The political violence that has plagued Zimbabwe's rural areas since the
elections in March is starting to penetrate into Harare, the capital, civic
The Combined Harare Residents Association said it has received reports that
militia of the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe are now
harassing residents of the capital and its suburbs after establishing bases
close to the city.
Sources said war veterans beat up residents of Chisipite, to the east of
Harare, at the Lewisham shopping center on Monday. In Epworth, southeast of
Harare, attacks by ZANU-PF militia sent a dozen people to the hospital.
Militia members are said to have set up torture bases at Lewisham, the
Caledonia informal settlement in the Mabvuku-Tafara constituency, and in
Harare Combined Residents Association Chairman Mike Davies told reporter
Jonga Kandemiiri that communities must come together to address this threat.
Meanwhile, the ruling party and opposition cooperated establishing a
committee to work with the police to curb political violence. ZANU-PF and
the Movement for Democratic Change agreed to co-sign a declaration drafted
by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's multi-party liaison committee
Opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa said that the MDC has written to the
electoral commission demanding that torture bases set up by ZANU-PF militia
be dismantled, and that the military stop campaigning for President Mugabe
against opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai in the June 27 run-off
But National Director Alois Chaumba of the Catholic Commission for Peace and
Justice, also chairman of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, told reporter Jonga
Kandemiiri that it is questionable whether the ruling party is truly
committed to nonviolence as its supporters are the main perpetrators of
violence and intimidation.
An Interview with Nelson Chamisa, Zimbabwean Member of Parliament
HARARE, Jun 5 (IPS) - Fourteen members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, a
Bulawayo-based human rights organisation, are being held in two prisons in
the capital Harare. They were arrested while marching to demand that the
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) intervene to end post-election
violence; their case is just one illustration of escalating human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe.
A leading human rights lawyer, Andrew Makoni, has fled to South Africa after
receiving credible warnings of a plan to murder at least one lawyer to deter
others from publicising abuses and defending victims of state-sponsored
violence. According to the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, four of
Makoni's clients have been murdered in the past two weeks.
Since elections on March 29, at least 22 people have been killed in a
campaign of torture, beatings and destruction of homes that the Solidarity
Peace Trust reports has been carried out by supporters of the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) supporters --
including war veterans, the party's youth wing and serving members of the
Zimbabwe's security services.
IPS reporter Tonderai Kwidini spoke with Nelson Chamisa, a Movement for
Democratic Change party spokesperson and member of parliament, was himself
attacked at the Harare International Airport last year, while on his way to
an international meeting of parliamentarians in Brussels. And last week four
of his family members were also severely assaulted by soldiers and suspected
IPS: What impact the violence has had on campaigning for the June 27 run-off
NELSON CHAMISA: This is the worst political environment we have ever
experienced in the history of our party. We are fighting a regime that is
staring defeat in the face but is determined to stay in power and has become
desperate. Our supporters are being maimed, tortured and killed and no one
has been arrested. This is a situation you can only expect to get from a
IPS: How is the ongoing violence affecting or changing the political
landscape in Zimbabwe?
NC: The violence has displaced voters. Remember we are going to be using a
ward-based system and lot of our supporters have been forced out of their
homesteads as a result of the violence. It has not just displaced voters, it
has eliminated the electorate. We have over 50 supporters who have been
killed since March 29.
IPS: A recent report from Solidarity Peace Trust describes this repression
in painful detail. The report also recommends further mediation and the
establishment of a transitional government. The International Crisis Group
has made a similar recommendation: what is your response to this suggestion?
NC: It's simple: no one is against the idea of a government of national
unity, because Zimbabwe will need one as it shapes up its nation-building
efforts. But that government can only be chosen by the party that wins the
elections because only then will it have the mandate of the people.
We are calling on the international community, SADC, the African Union and
the United Nations to deploy peace keeping forces as well as monitors to
come to Zimbabwe and save the people from ZANU-PF.
IPS: What is the message you are giving to MDC supporters in the face of
this extreme violence?
We are just telling them that this is the last hurdle and it is going to be
painful, but it will come to pass. We are telling them to vote with their
conscience -- they have to be strong. This is the end: we spoke on 29 March
and we have to speak again on 27 June.
IPS: We understand that your political party has been prevented from holding
rallies in certain parts of the country. What has been the effect of these
bans on your political activities?
NC: You don't have to talk about those bans alone as we have some rural
areas that have been declared by ZANU-PF as no-go areas for the opposition.
Those bans have not only managed to disrupt our campaign strategies but have
given the ZANU-PF regime an edge against us. The whole idea is to render our
IPS: Can you describe how you are campaigning in this environment?
NC: Our rallies have been banned, so we are now resorting to doing door to
IPS: What needs to be done to make the June 27 elections a free and fair
NC: Firstly, there is a need to de-politicise the police force as it has
become partisan in favour of the incumbent. Then there is a need to create
conditions in which all political parties are covered fairly in both public
and private media.
I was in Rwanda recently and I have learnt a lot about how the media can be
used as a tool to fan violence. The ZANU-PF campaigns on national radio and
television are genocidal and have to be stopped before it's too late.
IPS: Have you at any time felt a threat to your life as a result of the
crackdown on political freedoms?
NC: Everyone within the party's leadership is living in constant fear of
being abducted, tortured before being killed. We are now security animals
and we have to be careful. We are dealing with a vampire regime. But
remember: dictatorship is temporary and we are witnessing the end of Robert
Mugabe's tyranny. (END/2008)
Jun 5th 2008 | JOHANNESBURG
From The Economist print edition
AS ROBERT MUGABE, Zimbabwe's president, raised hackles at a United Nations food summit in Rome this week (see article), his henchmen at home have been getting down to the violent business of making sure that their man wins the run-off presidential election scheduled for June 27th. Neighbouring countries continue to call plaintively for a peaceful vote. But on the evidence so far the election will be neither peaceful nor fair.
Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a splinter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was arrested on June 1st for writing an editorial criticising the president. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC's leader and the man who bested Mr Mugabe in the first round in March, was detained by the police for nine hours on June 4th while on the campaign trail. Many opposition rallies have been banned and scores of opposition activists arrested. A ruthless campaign of repression has, so the MDC claims, left 65 of its supporters dead since March (Mr Tsvangirai is pictured above at the funeral of one of them). Thousands have been severely injured and, according to some estimates, 25,000 people displaced.
In an ominous sign of how the election campaign might affect those who are suffering most under Mr Mugabe, Care International, an aid agency, has had to suspend its relief operations after being accused by the government of supporting the opposition, a charge it denies. Human Rights Watch, a monitoring group, reports that the authorities have blocked some other aid agencies from distributing food in several provinces until after the election.
The beating, kidnapping and killing of key MDC activists has gravely weakened the opposition party's local organisations. Areas that were former strongholds of ZANU-PF, the ruling party, which dared to switch to the opposition in March, have now been turned into no-go areas for the MDC. Mr Tsvangirai plans to visit the ZANU-PF heartland of Mashonaland but ensuring his safety there will not be easy, as his party has not been licensed to carry firearms or even radios. A prominent human-rights lawyer fled to South Africa this week following threats against his life.
In order to vote, those who have already fled the violence will have to go back to their wards. To do so, they will need help and some assurances of safety. The MDC has launched a fund to assist victims with medical treatment, repatriation and rebuilding their homes, many of which have been burnt to the ground.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a local electoral organisation that sent about 8,000 independent observers around the country to monitor the first round, is struggling to do its work. Its offices have been raided and its members harassed. ZESN monitors have been asked to reapply for accreditation for the second round, and it is unclear how many requests will be granted. Observers from neighbouring countries deemed to be friendly by the government were expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on June 8th, but monitors, observers and journalists from the United Nations, the European Union or Western countries will not be let in.
It remains possible that Mr Mugabe's determination to hang on to power at all costs will strengthen the resolve of voters to turf him out rather than crush their spirit. But even if Mr Tsvangirai once again defeats his opponent at the ballot box, Mr Mugabe is not expected to bow out gracefully. His wife is reported to have said that her husband will only allow someone from the ruling party to succeed him. Security chiefs have vowed not to serve under a president from the opposition.
Things might be different if a trusted outsider were available to mediate between Mr Mugabe and the opposition. But the MDC has lost patience with Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, who has been the region's appointed mediator to date. In a scathing, bitter letter dated May 13th but leaked this week, Mr Tsvangirai asked Mr Mbeki to relinquish this role.
The letter (which Mr Mbeki says he never got) accuses Mr Mbeki of being ineffectual and partial, of blocking discussions at the United Nations and of letting a shipment through South Africa of weapons for Mr Mugabe's regime (though the shipment was blocked after trade unionists refused to unload it). “Since the 29th March election, Zimbabwe has plunged into horrendous violence while you have been mediating,” writes Mr Tsvangirai. “With respect, if we continue like this, there will be no country left.” The opposition refuses to participate in more talks with Mr Mbeki and asks for the appointment of a broader team. But time is running short.
June 05, 2008 04:10 PMBy
Scott A Morgan
We all have been thought that Patience is a Virtue. But in Zimbabwe it seems
that having patience can also be fatal. This has been true during past
election cycles and expecting NeighboringStates or the World to intervene in
the many crises plaguing the country.
Southern Africa has watched with baited breath the Aftermath of the latest
Election Cycle. First the Results of the Parliamentary Elections were
delayed until the Opposition Victory could not be held back any longer. Then
the Presidential Poll Results were released in such a manner that one could
reasonably assume that it was more important to have President Mugabe remain
in Office that listen to the wishes of the Zimbabwe People. Let us not
forget the many attempts to import Million of Tons of Weapons as well during
the Vote Count as well.
Currently the violence continues around the country. Over 20 People have
been killed since the end of the First Round of the Elections. Several Aid
Groups have been forced to cease operations in the Country by President
Mugabe. So now in some instances the people have lost their main source of
Food and Medical Assistance. Several Countries including the US, Britain,
Japan and Tanzania have sent their Diplomats out into the field to assess
the claims of violence.
In recent weeks there has been an effort to intimidate these Diplomats as
they have been conducting their investigations. They have been routinely
harassed by the Police at roadblocks including being manhandled, they have
had Satellite Phones and other items confiscated by either the Police or
Militias and in one instance the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe was grazed by a
Zimbabwe Police Vehicle.
As this item was being prepared there was a report of American and British
Diplomats being manhandled by Militiamen and the Police in a township North
of Harare. The Police Position has been that some of these Diplomats have
been conducting "Criminal Behavior" while out doing their work. But there
have been some changes that may have the World take a more firm stance
against the Lawlessness that has plagued Zimbabwe.
Earlier this year the Presidency of the UN Security Council rested in the
hands of South Africa. Various Attempts to have Zimbabwe placed on the
Agenda while the Security Council was under the stewardship of South Africa
failed. However this is June and the Presidency resides with a New Country.
The Power that currently has the leadership position is the United States.
And already it has called for a meeting of the Security Council regarding
How will such a meeting pan out? President Mugabe and Zimbabwe has two
allies on the Security Council right now they are South Africa and China.
The US will no doubt be backed by the UK and Europe when it comes to
addressing the Situation. Russia could end up being a Swing Vote as well as
most of the rest of the Non-Permanent Third World Bloc of Countries. What
ever happens before the runoff occurs and afterwards will be crucial to the
Stability of that whole region.
The Author is the Editor of Confused Eagle. It is located at
June 6, 2008
The dictator's henchmen have detained nine Western diplomats, but in human
terms this is the least of their crimes
As Robert Mugabe basked in his own infamy in Rome on Wednesday, his
enforcers in Zimbabwe soaked five opposition members with petrol and set
them alight. Two died.
As the world food summit heard Mr Mugabe blame Britain for his people's
hunger, his Government suspended charity operations that have been keeping
four million of them alive. As the UN counted the cost of Mr Mugabe's
diplomatic immunity yesterday, thugs attacked a convoy of British and US
diplomats. Their crime: investigating the plague of state-sanctioned
violence that grips Zimbabwe.
Yesterday's incident at a roadblock north of Harare was inexcusable. But it
was, as David Miliband noted hours later, merely a glimpse of the
intimidation that Zimbabweans suffer daily for daring to demand change.
Their chance comes in 21 days, in a second-round presidential vote that by
rights should not be happening. The first round, three months ago, was
marred by murder, beatings and fraud but was still won by Morgan Tsvangirai,
the man who offers the best hope of an end to Mr Mugabe's 28-year tyranny.
Mr Tsvangirai could have refused to fight a second round, but he has not. He
had every right to insist on a truly international corps of election
observers, but the regime has let in only monitors from Zimbabwe's
neighbours. He has called this "sufficient".
The Movement for Democratic Change, which Mr Tsvangirai leads, has seen its
rallies banned, its meeting venues occupied by army tents and its supporters
killed and tortured by loyalist militias. He has survived three
assassination attempts, and this week was detained for eight hours while
campaigning near Bulawayo. He shrugged off the harassment and yesterday
continued his efforts to unseat Mr Mugabe at the ballot box, accusing his
rival, with little exaggeration, of turning Zimbabwe into a warzone.
Mr Tsvangirai has shown extraordinary courage in a struggle that he is by no
means guaranteed to survive. Meanwhile, Mr Mugabe's insulation from the
appalling reality he has created, and Africa's dismaying acquiescence, has
persuaded him the world is powerless to stop his crimes.
It is not. If Zimbabwe's neighbours and their Western partners can agree on
the demands of basic justice, jettison the inhibitions of the past and
co-ordinate their efforts in the coming weeks and months, they can help to
end this nightmare. These are big ifs, mainly because of South Africa's
woeful failure to lead. President Mbeki's refusal to condemn Mr Mugabe
outright or enforce meaningful sanctions on his Government has deprived the
international community of its best levers against Harare. But there are
Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, has so far confined his public
efforts in this crisis to vague calls for an end to violence and for
international election observers. In Rome, he "suggested" that Mr Mugage
receive a special UN envoy. He must stop suggesting and demand that Harare
accept an envoy with the task of listing in stark terms the consequences of
attempting to steal the June 27 vote. These could and should include the
pursuit of foreign assets held by Mr Mugabe and his inner circle; the
collection of evidence against them for potential use in criminal charges
under the UN Convention on Torture; and, in extremis, a resolution allowing
the freezing of foreign remittances on which Zimbabwe's devastated economy
The US, which currently chairs the UN Security Council, should make clear to
Zimbabwe's neighbours that a whitewash of election observers' reports, which
many fear, would be unacceptable. Whatever happens to Mr Mugabe this month,
this is his endgame. The civilised world must use every legal means to win
By Patience Rusere
05 June 2008
The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe said state-controlled media have
not only been highly partisan in their coverage of the presidential run-off
campaign but have been using inflammatory language likely to incite violence
against the opposition.
Media Monitoring Project Advocacy Coordinator Abel Chikomo said state radio
and television have been giving air time to senior army officers up to
Zimbabwe Defense Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Constantine Chiwenga. He said
these officers have threatened those who support the Movement for Democratic
A MISA bulletin said eight Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. employees were sent
on forced leave for failing to push Mr. Mugabe's candidacy energetically
enough. It said ZBC Chief Executive Officer Henry Muradzikwa was recently
fired for disobeying ministerial orders to deny the MDC coverage before the
March 29 elections.
Chikomo told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the state-controlled media have accused opposition members of perpetrating
violence, ignoring the documented role of ZANU-PF militias in beatings and
A recent MMPZ report stated that state media "remained reluctant to expose
widespread reports of state-sanctioned violence against opposition
supporters. They only acknowledged the existence of violence in the context
of blaming it exclusively on the MDC, accusing it of terrorizing ZANU PF
It continued: "ZANU PF's culpability only appeared in the private and
international media. Consequently, all 14 incidents of politically motivated
violence they recorded in (a recent week) portrayed the MDC as the aggressor
and ZANU PF as the victim."
After 28 years in power, it may be surprising to many observers that the
theme for President Mugabe's run off election campaign is "100 Percent
Empowerment, Total Independence", not only because one would expect
President Mugabe to account for his record as the undisputed leader of a
post colonial Zimbabwe but it represents the ultimate hypocrisy by a leader
who knows that he has nothing new to offer than dwell on the past while
avoiding to talk about his failures.
Having reluctantly accepted that he lost the 29 March election, President
Mugabe now wants the country to believe that if he were to be re-elected on
27 June, the country will be in safer and responsible hands and that
miraculously he will be able to do what he has failed to do for the last 28
For any leader, 28 years is a long time and Zimbabwean people must be
congratulated for being patient with President Mugabe. At independence,
President Mugabe knew that the agenda for a post colonial Zimbabwe
necessarily called for transformation and growth. He should and must have
known that black Zimbabweans were already exposed to poverty and alienation
from their natural resources.
Who could have guessed that President Mugabe would 28 years after
independence run his campaign on empowerment issues without even attempting
to explain why he had allowed so-called colonial and imperialist forces to
entrench themselves under his watch.
People are now entitled to ask legitimate questions about President Mugabe's
record on empowerment. Even if we accept that the Lancaster House
Constitution imposed its own limits on the speed with which the land reform
program could be implemented, it is still important to raise the question of
how much was done or not done by President Mugabe's administration to
transform the land ownership structure before what has been described as a
politically manipulated stalemate with former Prime Minister Tony Blair's
At independence the white population was no more than 250,000 and today the
population could be no more than 50,000. All the whites who elected to stay
in post colonial Zimbabwe did so on the understanding that President Mugabe's
government was sovereign and was in total control of the instruments of
power and at all material times he did not behave as if he we under siege.
However, 28 years later and still in charge, President Mugabe is making the
case that in truth and fact he was never in control. This leads any rational
person to ask how no more than 5,000 white Zimbabwean farmers under the
control of President Mugabe could cause so much grief to a man who has
presented himself not only to his people but to the rest of the world as a
strong and responsible African leader.
For President Mugabe to now talk about 100% empowerment raises many
unanswered questions about his credibility.
The President has made the case that black Zimbabweans need his stewardship
to protect the so-called gains of land reform. Some cynics have asked
whether in fact there would be a land issue in Zimbabwe if white commercial
farmers had not utilized the land into productive economic units.
President Mugabe's election manifesto in so far as he now purports to be the
champion of the poor resonates with the views of many naļve Africans. In
fact, he may be able to get away with this kind of cheap politics if the
hypocrisy is not exposed.
A case has been made that the mere transfer of title to an asset i.e. land,
mineral resources, and other economic assets necessarily constitutes
empowerment. President Mugabe sees the role of the state as that of any
parent who allocates resources to his children as inheritance ignoring
empirical facts that demonstrate that inherited wealth does not necessarily
mean that the beneficiary will be able to succeed in terms of efficiency and
Even in discussing the question of African poverty it would be irresponsible
to argue that the mere transfer of land rights to the poor translates itself
into economic prosperity. The last 8-9 years have demonstrated that farm
output has dismally declined and Zimbabwe is now facing the embarrassment of
importing maize from former Zimbabwean farmers who are now operating in
Does President Mugabe's understanding of poverty in Zimbabwe and reasons
thereof reflect the reality on the ground? To what extent have wrong
policies of President Mugabe's administration been responsible for
exacerbating black African poverty? Do asset transfer schemes work as
poverty alleviation mechanisms? What should the role of the state be in
engineering social and economic changes?
At independence, the majority of the poor were black and nothing has changed
in Zimbabwe. What is the possibility that change will be attainable if
President Mugabe were to be re-elected? Does President Mugabe know what the
country needs to move forward? How best can Zimbabweans tell President
Mugabe that Idi Amin's type policies do not deliver value?
This is the first week of June and at the end of this month Zimbabwe may
have a new President if the votes are counted and announced on time. There
are two individuals who will be on the ballot box and it is clear to
everyone that Zimbabwe needs to turn a new leaf.
Empowerment is a recycled argument that any desperate person trying to cling
to power is easily tempted to use. Anyone who does not understand the proper
role of the state can be excused for accepting cheap arguments that a state
can lift a country up by merely changing the names on title deeds.
It has been accepted universally that the most reliable engine of growth is
the private sector and most sovereign economic units cannot be relied upon
to move any nation forward. It may be argued that the experience in China
and other former communist state capitalist systems suggests that the state
can be a reliable agent for nation building and economic progress but
without a fundamental change in policies, the progress we witness in these
countries would have been impossible to attain.
In the case of Zimbabwe, an analysis of the post colonial experience would
suggest that President Mugabe's administration has been found wanting in
using state institutions as instruments for production and efficiency. Most
of the institutions established by President Mugabe's government have failed
and even prior to the land reform stalemate, the government of Zimbabwe had
conceded that the state corporations were a drain on the fiscus at a time
when the tax base was shrinking due to punitive economic policies.
It would, therefore, be unreasonable to expect that President Mugabe's new
administration will have any new ideas that can work. It has been generally
accepted that President Mugabe is not a friend of the private sector whether
black or white controlled. It is not clear how a regime that is not a friend
of agents of economic transformation can be trusted after 28 years of missed
opportunities to move the country forward.
Many have observed that President Mugabe is a man of the past and Zimbabwe
urgently needs a new face in the statehouse. The state is broke not because
of a colonial conspiracy but due to the fact that the numbers do not add up.
President Mugabe believes that a state can never be bankrupt and can exist
even without a tax base. It is not surprising that the busiest and most
productive factory in Zimbabwe today is the printing press.
Can any country that prints money as a substitute for production be
classified as a viable entity? President Mugabe has made the case that he
will transfer assets to penniless blacks after the elections and hence they
should vote for him so that they can have share certificates in place of
food and jobs.
One would have expected President Mugabe to take the country's problems
seriously given the consequences. However, the mere fact that he is still
campaigning on the empowerment ticket and his name is on the ballot paper
must scare anyone who passionately believes in Zimbabwe's future.
If there was anytime that people of Zimbabwe must come together for a
project that will save the country from total economic collapse it is now
and the hour is fast approaching. Many have spoken about government of
national unity as a substitute to taking a stand against violence and
bankrupt policies. Zimbabwe is too important to retreat into silence and
Given that President Mugabe has been tried and tested with known outcomes it
is time that a new leader emerges on 27 June. This should not be an accident
of history and it is evident that there is a desperate man on the ballot
paper who will stop at nothing to remain in power.
The only viable and predictable instrument for empowering Zimbabweans is not
to entrench the status quo but to vote and become part of the history
makers. The hour of change will become a footnote of history if the people
who care about the future decide to watch a naked emperor play games in the
name of empowerment.
Surely cash flow is more important that share certificates. It is your time
to tell President Mugabe what time it is. It should and must be Zimbabwean
time and not a tired President's time. The vote has all the answers to
violence as long as people fix their eyes on the prize.