June 9, 2008
Shadowy politburo instigates campaign of terror
Catherine Philp, Diplomatic Correspondent
The campaign of terror sweeping Zimbabwe is being directly organised by a
junta that took over the running of the country after Robert Mugabe's shock
election defeat in March.
Details of the organised violence are contained in a report released today
by Human Rights Watch, corroborated by senior Western diplomats who describe
the situation in Zimbabwe as a "military coup by stealth".
The human-rights group and the diplomats name Zimbabwe's effective rulers as
the Joint Operations Command, a shadowy security politburo made up of
military and police generals, senior intelligence officers, prison service
officials and leaders of the ruling Zanu (PF) party.
The report maps a chain of command leading down from the JOC to senior
officers responsible for individual regions, and the local politicians and
so-called "war veterans" and Zanu (PF) youth militias who carry out much of
the violence as a proxy military force.
The report said that the scale of the attacks exceeds anything seen
previously during Zimbabwe's long history of electoral violence, and that
for the first time militias are being armed with weapons such as AK47s,
hand-guns and rifles. They have also used military transportation and even
attacked from military bases.
A senior Western diplomat traced the military takeover to the days after the
March 29 election, when a stunned Mr Mugabe was preparing to stand down
before the generals moved in. "The generals didn't let him go," the diplomat
said. "Afraid that Mr Mugabe's departure would expose them to prosecution,
they struck a deal guaranteeing his reelection.
"This is a military coup by stealth," the diplomat said. "There are no tanks
on people's lawns, but the Joint Operations Command runs this country."
The military takeover has meant an explosion in the level of violence in
Zimbabwe, as well as the de facto militarisation of food distribution
prompted by last week's ban on aid agencies.
Witnesses interviewed by HRW identified numerous senior security officers
who report directly to the JOC as being involved personally in the violence,
suggesting they are carrying out orders from above. Police involved in the
attack on American and British diplomats last week were quoted as saying
that their orders came "directly from the top". Documents leaked by
disgruntled army officers name 200 of them, each assigned an area to oversee
in OperationMakavhoterapapi? or Operation Where Did You Put Your Vote?, a
campaign to punish those who voted for the Movement for Democratic Change,
particularly in traditional Zanu (PF) strongholds, and to prevent them from
voting in the June 27 presidential run-off when Mr Mugabe goes head to head
with Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader.
The use of the "war veterans" and youth militias as proxy forces was
intended to cover up the State's role in the violence. But in many cases
documented by HRW, military involvement was explicit. Scores of attacks in
Harare and surrounding townships have been carried out by uniformed
soldiers. One victim described armed soldiers going from house to house in
the township of Chitungwiza searching for MDC supporters and beating them:
"I did not know my assailants, but they were in army uniform and drove an
army truck. They were boasting of being given a three-day assignment to
'bring hell' to the people."
Army officers have been personally involved in a number of "reeducation"
meetings at which local residents are forced to renounce opposition and
swear allegiance to the ruling party after being beaten and tortured.
Beatings at such meetings account for at least eight deaths. The Army has
denied any involvement in the violence.
The extent of Mr Mugabe's acquiescence to the terror tactics remains
unclear, but the moment he agreed to stay on, the diplomat notes: "Mr Mugabe
became beholden to the generals to stay in power."
Searching for the truth
- Human Rights Watch was founded in 1978 as Helsinki Watch, to monitor the
compliance of Soviet bloc countries with the Helsinki accords
- After growing to cover other regions in the 1980s, the various committees
were united in 1988 as Human Rights Watch
- The charity, whose home is New York, is the largest US-based human-rights
- Human Rights Watch shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for a joint
campaign with other organisations to ban landmines
- Fact-finding teams visit countries where there have been allegations of
human rights abuses. They visit the locations of abuse, interview victims,
witnesses and others. The teams publish their findings in books and reports
- Researchers collected and corroborated stories of refugees from Kosovo and
Chechnya, helping to shape the response of the international community to
rights abuses there
June 9, 2008
Will Mugabe force victory in the June run-off - or will there be a
liberating turn of events? Here are five possible outcomes
The next three weeks in Zimbabwe will be the most traumatic in its history.
Robert Mugabe has declared war on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
NGOs and churches to reverse the electoral defeat he suffered in March. It
is a war on unarmed people. Can he win it and what would victory mean?
Scenario one: When the votes are counted after a peaceful, well-organised
and credible election on June 27, President Mugabe concedes defeat,
congratulates Morgan Tsvangirai, hands over the reins of power and retires.
The official results of the election on March 29 did not give Mr Tsvangirai
more than half the votes so there must be a run-off. To secure victory,
Emerson Mnangagwa, one of the architects of the massacres in Matabeland in
1983, with the heads of the police, defence forces and Gideon Gono, the
Finance Minister, has launched a violent nationwide campaign to destroy the
opposition's capacity to deliver the vote.
Only the towns that the ruling party now believe they cannot win have been
spared. Key MDC organisers have been abducted and killed. The death toll is
about 50 so far but may be many more. Anyone suspected of voting MDC is
seized and ritually beaten, often on the back, buttocks and legs with whips
and sticks, sometimes wrapped in barbed wire.
Another strategy is to force people out of their homes by burning their
houses. Driven from their constituency areas, they will be disqualified from
voting. MDC leaders are detained. NGOs are ordered to stop work in rural
areas so that news of what is happening there cannot reach the outside
world. It also means that hundreds of thousands of people, now dependent on
food aid, will not be fed. The last strategy is to prepare a massive rigging
campaign. Professionals such as teachers, who acted as election officers in
the first round, are being intimidated so that Zanu (PF) officials can step
in to run the polling.
Opinions vary on whether all this will succeed in cowing the people or if it
will make Zimbabweans more determined to cast their votes for the MDC. But
even if Mr Tsvangirai were to win the most votes, it is inconceivable that,
in its present mood, the regime would concede defeat.
Mr Mugabe believes he won Zimbabwe by conquest, through the liberation war.
Zimbabwe was never a one-party state, but to him the function of elections
is to confirm his possession. The idea that he could be deposed through the
ballot box is unthinkable. His wife has vowed publicly that Morgan
Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, will never see the inside of State House. To
justify his claim - and his war - Mr Mugabe has created a fantasy enemy:
Britain. He says the British want to recolonise Zimbabwe, bring back the
white farmers and re-create Rhodesia again. MDC is their creation and
While the key player outside Zimbabwe, President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa, remains silent on these developments, his probable successor, Jacob
Zuma, says they have undermined any possibility of a credible election. He
recommends a government of national unity.
This is scenario two: a powersharing agreement between both parties.
Likelihood? Minus zero. Neither side wants this election but the possibility
of a Kenya-style government of national unity is unthinkable.
Kenya had a lot to lose from political disruption. Zimbabwe has lost it all
already. About ten powerful allies of Mugabe do have a lot to lose, which is
why they hold on to power at any cost. They could offer the MDC a few places
in government, but the MDC would not accept them. The only terms under which
MDC would enter a reconciliation government - as they prefer to call it - is
if they headed it.
Which brings us to the third scenario: a victory for Robert Mugabe.
Likelihood? High. The party was complacent in the first round. It assumed
the rural areas would vote Zanu (PF) but they didn't. This time voters in
traditionally loyal areas will be urged, even forced, to the polling
stations. That, the campaign against the MDC and rigging might well reverse
This scenario raises three more fundamental issues: the splits in Zanu (PF),
the reaction of the region and the economy. Everyone knows a Mugabe victory
will not reverse Zimbabwe's catastrophic disintegration - although there are
some who say he is willing to step down but will not be driven from office.
After the declaration of war on MDC, there is no one in the senior hierarchy
of Zanu (PF) who would be an acceptable replacement except as a stopgap. The
party itself is deeply riven by factions.
If Mr Mugabe wins, the reaction of the regional leaders would be crucial.
But since Mr Mbeki's quiet diplomacy has failed, he appears to have no other
policy. The other presidents of Southern Africa are divided. They will not
condemn Mr Mugabe but would probably not continue to support him if he wins
an election under current circumstances.
The economy can no longer provide the Government with the revenues it needs
to keep it in power. No one will lend it money. Every source of wealth has
been raided and drained. Inflation is now more than
2 million per cent. African economies do not die, they sink into
subsistence, but the Government's ability to pay soldiers, policemen, party
officials and civil servants is at an end. The election itself will drain
the last few drops of wealth from the coffers.
These factors create fourth and fifth scenarios.
Scenario four: The unpaid Armed Forces and police could break up into pro
and anti-Mugabe factions within the party. Some may support the MDC. As the
Armed Forces disintegrate, warlords take over local areas. Zimbabwe begins
to look more like Somalia. Likelihood? Possible.
Scenario five. The miracle. Some random factor not in the equation at the
moment suddenly turns history. Maybe the death or defection of a key Mugabe
ally: Mr Gono, the Finance Minister, for example, who has been churning out
increasingly worthless banknotes. Now he is of no further use, but, rich and
ambitious, he may not see a future with Mr Mugabe. His defection breaches
the wall of the fantasy castle and reality crashes in. Mr Mugabe and his
chief lieutenants seek refuge in Equatorial Guinea and a government of
national unity is set up.
Likelihood? Impossible to say. But Southern Africa has been known to produce
Richard Dowden is director of the Royal African Society. His book Africa:
Altered States, Ordinary Miracles is published in September.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 11:03PM BST 08/06/2008
Any chance of "free and fair" voting in Zimbabwe's presidential election
run-off on June 27 has been "extinguished" by appalling violence, according
to a human rights watchdog report to be published today.
Since the inconclusive vote on March 29, violence unleashed by President
Robert Mugabe's militia, soldiers, policemen and members of the airforce has
left at least 65 people dead and more than 3,000 wounded.
The victims, according to Human Rights Watch, the largest US-based human
rights group, are people from Zanu PF strongholds who voted for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Nelson Chamisa, a MDC spokesman, struggled to describe some of the murders.
"This woman from the Mhondoro area [a large tribal area about 40 miles south
west of Harare] had her arms and legs cut off. She died and they also burned
"They also killed a six-year-old boy and his mother at Harare South and the
mother was pregnant," he said.
Pishai Muchauraya, a MDC spokesman from eastern Zimbabwe, said there was
"anarchy" in several districts along the Mozambique border.
"They (soldiers) are taking the girls to their bases and raping them.
"They have surrounded this one village and are beating them one by one."
The areas include the district around Buhera, the village of Morgan
Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, about 170 miles south of Harare.
The report, Bullets for Each of You, comes as intimidation of the MDC
continued despite the Zimbabwe High Court overturning a police ban on
Mr Chamisa said supporters of Mr Mugabe had cordoned off the area where
opposition leaders had been planning to speak in a Harare suburb.
A Zimbabwe court yesterday ordered the release of Eric Matinenga, an
opposition MP arrested twice in recent days on charges of inciting violence.
by Nqobizitha Khumalo and Wayne Mafaro Monday 09 June 2008
BULAWAYO - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai again appealed for deployment
of international peacekeepers in Zimbabwe as his Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party said on Sunday that three more people had been killed by
Tsvangirai told supporters at the weekend in the border town of Plumtree,
541 km south-west Harare, that peacekeepers from the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations would help end political
violence that the MDC says has now killed more than 60 of its supporters.
The presence of peacekeepers would also help restore confidence among
ordinary Zimbabweans that they would be no interference with their vote on
June 27 when the country holds a second round presidential election.
The opposition leader said: "The peacekeepers are most welcome and if SADC
and the United Nations could send peacekeepers it would help to restore
confidence in the masses that they can vote without interference.
"Their presence would also help to put a stop to current ongoing violence
being perpetrated by ZANU PF (President Robert Mugabe's ruling party)
militias and (torture) bases that have been set up across the country would
The MDC accuses Mugabe of unleashing state security forces and ZANU PF
militias to wage violence against MDC supporters and structures in an
attempt to regain the upper hand in the second ballot - a charge the veteran
Mugabe starts the second round presidential race as underdog after losing
the first round March poll to Tsvangirai although the opposition leader fell
short of the margin required to takeover power.
The SADC is expected to deploy its first election observers to the run-off
ballot on Monday but the regional body has so far not said whether it would
be willing to send peacekeepers as demanded by the MDC.
Tsvangirai, who spoke to individual supporters or small groups of people
after police banned him from holding rallies, said he was confident of
defeating Mugabe despite ongoing political violence and other impediments
placed in his way.
And in a statement on Sunday MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said ZANU PF
militia killed the six-year old son of the opposition party's councillor for
Ward One in Harare South constituency. The councillor's wife also died later
from the severe burns she sustained killed when the ZANU PF mob set their
house on fire.
"Harare South, Ward One councillor's house was razed to the ground. His
six-year old son was brunt to death and his wife later died from burns,"
Chamisa said in the statement without disclosing the names of the deceased.
Chamisa said in another incident, suspected ZANU PF militia murdered the
wife of an MDC district chairman in Mhondoro Ngezi constituency in
Mashonaland West province on Sunday. He did not give details of the
Both ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira and Police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena were not immediately available for comment on the reported
The latest deaths were reported as ZANU PF militia blocked the MDC from
holding rallies in Harare and the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, both
strongholds of support for Tsvangirai.
This was despite a court order allowing the opposition party to hold
Meanwhile the High Court on Sunday ordered the police to release immediately
MDC Member of Parliament for Buhera West Constituency Eric Matinenga who
they have been holding since Saturday.
The police are charging Matinenga, who is one of the country's prominent
lawyers, with inciting public violence although a magistrate's court has
already said he has no case to answer. - ZimOnline
by Own Correspondent Monday 09 June 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda on Sunday called for the
setting up of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe headed by President
Robert Mugabe with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister.
In a statement released yesterday, Kaunda, a close ally of Mugabe, said a
presidential election run-off later this month would not resolve Zimbabwe's
eight-year political stalemate.
"We have in Zimbabwe a situation which will not be helped by any type of
outcome of the June 27 repeat elections," said Kaunda.
Tsvangirai starts off as favourite to win the run-off poll that is being
held because the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader defeated
Mugabe in a March 29 poll but fell short of the margin required to takeover
However there are growing calls within Zimbabwe, the southern African region
and beyond for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to forgo the run-off election and
instead start negotiations for a transitional government of national unity
that would be tasked to stabilise the political and economic environment
before new free and fair elections are held.
Proponents for a government of national unity or transitional authority
argue that the run-off election would not end the economic crisis especially
if won by Mugabe, while victory for Tsvangirai could see army hardliners
staging a coup to forestall the opposition leader taking power.
Kaunda said the best way to resolve Zimbabwe's political stalemate would be
to form a government of national unity along similar lines like those
witnessed in Kenya earlier this year.
Kenya was rocked by serious violence that left more than 1 500 people dead
following disputed elections last December. The crisis was only resolved
earlier this year when the protagonists in the conflict agreed to form a
power sharing unity government.
"The authority between president and prime minister must be fairly shared.
The call now is 'come together and start afresh'," Kaunda said. "Through
uniting in this government, there can be healing for many dangerous
divisions there are in Zimbabwe today."
Both Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba and Tsvangirai were not immediately
available for comment on Kaunda's suggestion.
Zimbabwe has seen a rise in political violence and human rights abuses as
the run-off election draws nearer.
The MDC says at least 60 of its supporters have been killed in
state-sponsored violence since while more than 25 000 have been displaced by
The opposition party accuses Mugabe of unleashing state security forces and
ruling ZANU PF party militias to wage violence against MDC supporters and
structures in an attempt to regain the upper hand in the second ballot - a
charge the veteran leader denies. - ZimOnline
June 9, 2008
Richard Owen in Rome
The son of Zimbabwe's chief arms manufacturer accompanied Robert Mugabe to
Rome last week for the UN summit on world hunger, it has emerged.
Thabani Dube, son of Colonel Tshinga Dube, the head of Zimbabwe Defence
Industries, was part of the Zimbabwean delegation accredited to the summit
but did not make a single appearance at the conference, the Italian
newspaper Corriere della Sera reported. It noted that Mr Dube Jr had stayed
not with the rest of the Zimbabwe delegation but in a more discreet hotel
not far from Rome station. Sources in Zimbabwe claimed that Mr Dube was
involved in work for the Government's intelligence operation.
Asked for an explanation, George Charamba, Mr Mugabe's press spokesman,
replied that "sons are different from fathers". It was unclear why Mr Dube
was accredited and how he spent his time in Rome.
It also emerged that Mr Mugabe paid a visit to St Peter's Basilica, despite
being refused an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. He also bought souvenirs,
including rosaries and religious books, from a Catholic bookshop. Zimbabwe's
Catholic bishops have repeatedly criticised his human rights record and
Mr Charamba confirmed that Mr Mugabe's meals had been prepared by his own
chef, wearing cotton gloves and a face mask. He agreed that Mr Mugabe had
"many enemies", but insisted that the President was "following his own diet"
rather than taking precautions against being poisoned.
June 9, 2008
BULAWAYO (zimbabwemetro.com/Own Correspondent) - In a stunning revelation,
it has been established that the secretary general of the Arthur Mutambara
faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, Professor Welshman Ncube has
instructed all legislators elected on the party's ticket not to support MDC
president Morgan Tsvangirai when he visits their constituencies.
This move effectively scuttles the MDC unity pact agreed between the two
parties in the aftermath of the March 29 election. The Tsvangirai led MDC
and the breakaway faction led by Professor Arthur Mutambara polled 99 and 10
seats in Parliament respectively in the March election. Ncube is the founder
of the faction which Mutambara now leads. He is the secretary general of the
faction, a position which he held in the MDC before the split in October
It has also emerged that some officials in the faction are said to be
resisting Ncube's moves. They argue, for instance, that their party should
not have fielded separate candidates for the June 27 parliamentary
by-election in Gwanda South, Redcliff and Pelandaba-Mpopoma against those of
the Tsvangirai-led MDC.
Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, the faction's treasurer, has reportedly refused to
release funds for the run-off. MPs and senators told him they would use
their personal resources to campaign for Tsvangirai and accused the
leadership of attempting to derail Tsvangirai's campaign.
Dulini Ncube lost his own Magwegwe seat to the mainstream MDC's provincial
spokesman, Felix Sibanda Mafa.
"There are a few senior individuals in the party who are pushing a Zanu-PF
agenda and it is now clear who they are," one of the legislators said. "They
are doing everything in their power to destroy Tsvangirai. It is not our
fault that they have differences with him, but we just want Mugabe out of
The legislators said it emerged last week that there were members of the
Mutambara executive who were against the party's resolution to support and
campaign for Tsvangirai against Mugabe in the run-off.
Another MP alleged that the party leaders, in particular Welshman Ncube and
Paul Themba Nyathi, were bitter after losing the March 29 parliamentary
election to candidates fielded by the mainstream MDC of Tsvangirai. They had
claimed that they were more popular than Tsvangirai and his candidates in
the Bulawayo Province. Their defeat was, therefore, a humiliating shock.
"There are some former legislators who are still bitter and just last
weekend Welshman Ncube addressed a provincial assembly meeting and said he
will cause by-elections to take place in areas where the MPs and senators
are campaigning for Tsvangirai," another lawmaker said. "We are saying we do
not care if he calls for the by-elections. We will campaign for Tsvangirai
Last Friday, the Mutambara faction leadership scheduled a meeting to
coincide with Tsvangirai's address to recently elected MDC parliamentarians.
However some of the legislators boycotted this meeting and instead travelled
to Harare to attend Tsvangirai's address at the Harare International
Lovemore Moyo, the chairman of the mainstream MDC, played down the emerging
rift between the two parties.
"We have been working together," he said. "We have an agreement in place, a
coalition agreement between ourselves and our erstwhile colleagues, and we
are therefore involved in joint campaigns with them. We have been working
with them since we started our Matabeleland presidential campaign.
"Today we went (out) with colleagues from the other side."
June 9, 2008
By Our Correspondent
BULAWAYO - Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has openly joined President
Robert Mugabe's campaign trail ahead of the presidential run-off scheduled
for June 27.
He has promised to fulfil the government's pledges to spend lavishly on
chiefs and headman in return for their support for Mugabe's candidature.
The chiefs and headmen are set to receive diesel power generators to light
up their rural homes in lieu of a largely failed rural electrification
programme. Zimbabweans in the urban areas have experienced regular power
blackouts as a result of electricity shortages.
Also to be distributed are 3 000 grinding mills and a similar number of
beasts. The strategy is meant to encourage traditional leaders to coerce the
rural electorate to vote for Mugabe as he battles to overturn an initial
defeat by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC.
Gono has constantly been accused by the MDC of colluding with Zanu-PF by
bankrolling its elections campaign using public funds.
Just before the March elections, Gono distributed hundreds of tractors, a
variety of farm machinery and equipment, diesel and ancillary equipment to
Zanu-PF loyalists and brand new cars for striking doctors.
"We cannot wait for this programme to take off on the grounds that it might
be misinterpreted by our detractors as vote-buying," Gono said during the
Under the pretext of promoting the Zunde Ramambo - a long held tradition
whereby the chief helped his subjects in the event of a famine from a
communal granary - Gono promised the traditional leaders a key role in the
distribution of agricultural inputs as an added incentive.
"From now on you are governors as you will be working with this governor
assisting with this micro-credit project which cannot be spearheaded by the
governor alone," Gono told chiefs and headmen gathered at their annual
congress in Zimbabwe's second largest city.
The grinding mills will be distributed to chiefs for the benefit of their
communities, he said, adding that government had acquired book, candle and
soap making machines as well as oil presses for distribution among the rural
folk to empower them.
Zanu-PF is campaigning for the presidential run-off under the theme: "Total
Empowerment, 100 per cent Zimbabwean".
During the campaign for the last parallel elections in March, Mugabe went
about 'donating' buses to each district at his rallies. The majority of the
districts did not receive the promised number of buses while others receive
none at all.
Each province was supposed to get twenty-five 20-seater buses. Some of the
rural constituencies accepted the gifts but went on to vote for the MDC for
the first time.
Always resourceful, Gono told the traditional leaders that the RBZ was now
withdrawing the buses to replace them with lorries and trucks to transport
agricultural inputs to the farmers and harvested crops to the market.
Chiefs, most of whom have already been allocated pick-up trucks and tractors
as part of a government initiative to retain their loyalty, will now receive
200 litres of fuel a month as part of their package.
Out of the 266 substantive traditional chiefs, a total of 251 are now the
proud owners of a pick-up truck and tractor each.
Some of the more enterprising among them are said to be using their trucks
and tractors to transport villagers for a fee in areas where bus companies
have withdrawn services because roads are in a state of disrepair.
June 9, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials
traded accusations on Sunday, each party accusing the other of fomenting
violence in order to force a cancellation of the June 27 presidential
election run- off.
Home Affairs minister, Kembo Mohadi, claimed the authorities had uncovered a
plot by the MDC to make the country ungovernable to foil the elections.
"The police are, therefore, under instruction to deal with violent elements
impartially and decisively without fear or favour of any political party,"
He did not provide details of the alleged plot.
But the leader of the movement, Morgan Tsvangirai, said it was President
Robert Mugabe's government which had hatched plans to foment violence as an
excuse to cancel the polls.
He said that clashes throughout the country between the MDC and Zanu-PF
supporters over the last two weeks, which have left 10 dead in their wake,
were deliberately provoked by Mugabe's party.
The MDC says 60 of their supporters have been murdered so far by marauding
Zanu-PF militants over the past two months
The forthcoming election is the second fiercely contested poll between
Tsvangirai and Mugabe in three months. Mugabe suffered his first electoral
defeat in 28 years on March 29. Political pundits predict another possible
setback for him on June 27.
In March Tsvangirai fell just short of an absolute majority with 47, 3
percent of the vote. Mugabe lagged behind with 43, 2 percent. The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission announced the result five weeks after the election.
Violence broke out before the result of the presidential election was
announced and has escalated sharply in the run-up to the run-off, with the
MDC insisting it has been the major victim of Zanu-PF's terror campaign.
Mugabe insists in turn that the MDC is to blame for the sharp rise in
post-election violence, but the United Nations' chief representative in
Zimbabwe, Agostinho Zacarais, has categorically stated that in most
instances, it is Mugabe's supporters who are behind the violence.
The veteran leader is accused by critics of reducing Zimbabwe's once-model
economy to ruins with the world's highest inflation rate, now over one
million percent, and serious food, power and fuel shortages.
The MDC, which Mugabe accuses of sponsorship by Britain and other western
powers, has capitalised on Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis and widespread
corruption in the public sector to galvanise support even in previously
inaccessible rural constituencies. The result was the defeat of Mugabe and
Zanu-PF at polls in March.
In the current campaign the MDC has been able to stage only a handful of
rallies, with Tsvangirai being detained twice by police last week while on
the campaign trail in Matabeleland.
The party was forced to approach the High Court on Saturday to obtain an
order lifting the blanket ban on political rallies.
With just two weeks before the poll, Mugabe has become more uncompromising,
banning MDC rallies and attacking diplomats who try to investigate incidents
of political violence.
The East African, Kenya
By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
In a different time and country, the words of South African street trader
Veronica Khoza wouldn't have been surprising.
In a recent story in Britain's Guardian newspaper, Khoza was quoted as
showing utterly no sympathy for the African immigrants who had been attacked
and killed or run out of their homes by South African criminal hordes.
"They [South African employers] will give the jobs to Zimbabweans because
they will work for cheap." Khoza said, dismissing the latter as cowards.
"They have run away," she said. "All they do is complain how horrible Mugabe
is to them. Why don't they stay in their country and fight? We fought
apartheid. Many people were killed. Many people went to prison, even
children. The white soldiers were here, in Alexandria, and they shot people.
We didn't run away."
Perhaps Khoza does actually believe that, but as the Guardian accurately
reported, South Africans - very many of them - ran away from apartheid
oppression, some to "join the liberation struggle and ended up in Zimbabwe,
Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, [Uganda, Zambia, Botswana]. It is a source of
bitterness among immigrants from those countries that the hospitality they
offered is not reciprocated."
This Khoza-type amnesia is not unique to South Africans. In Zimbabwe itself,
Mugabe came to power as a freedom fighter against a racist regime. And he
has forgotten that history and imposed a despotism on his country as bad as
Ian Smith's supremacist rule.
In Uganda, the NRM government came to power on a strong human-rights
platform after a five-year rebellion provoked by a stolen election in
Many populist African governments have swept to power on the promise of
ending corruption, and gone on to plunder their countries more than the
regimes they replaced.
ONE VIEW IS THAT WE REPEAT these mistakes because Africa "doesn't have a
long history of written records." As a result, people forget the past
easily because they don't have constant reminders, and later generations are
ignorant because there are few historical accounts for them to study.
If that were the case, then the recent immigrant violence wouldn't have
happened because one admirable thing President Thabo Mbeki's rule will
bequeath to South Africa is the impressive museums and memorials of the
struggle against apartheid.
But even the Hector Perterson Memorial Museum to the victims of the
Sharpeville massacre in Soweto, evocative as it might be, still takes some
emotion out of the horrors that the apartheid regime visited on the
protestors on March 21, 1960. At least 69 people were killed, and over 180
Part of the problem is that South African commemoration of the
anti-apartheid struggle tends to be devoid of references to the African
countries and patriots who supported them. Secondly, a museum seems not to
speak powerfully about African tragedies. This point was brought home to me
in Rwanda recently.
The Kigali Memorial Centre to the nearly one million victims of the 1994
genocide used to be a powerful place. In the early years, the mass reburial
graves being open so you would begin the tour by viewing the grim handiwork
of the genocidaires, and by the time you got to see the photographs, the
instruments of death and the video shows inside, you were already shaken up.
Now the graves are full, and they have been sealed. The shock has gone out
of it, as they look like giant food drying platforms. The effect on the rest
of the centre is strange. It now feels like an exhibition, instead of a
Africa will continue to have this crisis of memory, because even in Rwanda
you get the sense that the genocide is already a faded memory for some
Charles Onyango-Obbo is Nation Media Group's managing editor for convergence
and new products.