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Zimbabwe: Runoff Vote Will Be ‘Dead on Arrival’

Human Rights Watch
Senior Officials Implicated in Political Violence

(Johannesburg, June 9, 2008) – The Zimbabwean government’s campaign of violence and intimidation against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has extinguished any chance of a free and fair presidential runoff on June 27, 2008, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Human Rights Watch urged the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to use its influence and push President Robert Mugabe to take immediate steps to end the violence and hold those responsible to account.

" Since the runoff was announced the violence in Zimbabwe has gotten even worse. Zimbabweans can’t vote freely if they fear their vote may get them killed. "
Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch
The 69-page report, "'Bullets for Each of You': State-Sponsored Violence since Zimbabwe’s March 29 Elections,” documents numerous incidents of abductions, beatings, torture, and killings by officials and supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the armed forces and police, “war veterans,” and youth militia against MDC activists and perceived MDC supporters. Human Rights Watch has confirmed at least 36 politically motivated deaths and 2,000 victims of violence. The report also examines the Zimbabwean government’s role in perpetrating and inciting the violence for political gain, and its failure to end the violence and prosecute those responsible. Human Rights Watch researchers conducted more than 70 interviews with victims and eyewitnesses to the violence since March in all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe.  
“Since the runoff was announced the violence in Zimbabwe has gotten even worse,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Zimbabweans can’t vote freely if they fear their vote may get them killed.”  
ZANU-PF and its allies are also engaged in a politically motivated campaign of looting and destruction, slaughtering animals, stealing food and property, and burning down homesteads. “War veterans” and youth militia have set up roadblocks and taken control of huge swathes of the countryside in order to limit the flow of information on the extent of the violence and to punish those perceived to have voted for the MDC. The government has also ordered all local and international nongovernmental organizations to suspend their operations in Zimbabwe, accusing them of politicizing aid distribution.  
More than 3,000 people are known to have fled the violence and are now internally displaced in cities and towns throughout the country with inadequate access to food and water. An unknown number have fled across the borders to Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa.  
The violence has been particularly concentrated in former rural strongholds of ZANU-PF, in particular the provinces of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, and Mashonaland West – areas where for the first time the MDC made significant inroads, losing by much narrower margins than ZANU-PF had anticipated. In other violence-affected provinces such as Masvingo and Manicaland, ZANU-PF lost constituencies that it had previously held to the MDC.  
Human Rights Watch researchers gathered extensive evidence of the role of senior-ranking army and police officers in inciting and organizing the violence. For example, several people alleged that Police Assistant Commissioner Martin Kwainona of the Presidential Guard was involved in inciting, leading, and perpetrating violence in Mt. Darwin, Mashonaland Central. One man told Human Rights Watch that Kwainona assaulted him and told him he was going to rid the area of all suspected MDC activists and supporters. Another told Human Rights Watch that Kwainona threatened people attending a gathering in Mt. Darwin on April 18, saying: “All MDC members in Mt. Darwin must be made to disappear, we are busy training our youths to do just that.”  
In Mashonaland East, four persons identified a commander in the Air Force, Bramwell Kachairo, as being responsible for organizing and sometimes taking part in beatings in the province. One eyewitness told Human Rights Watch he had seen Kachairo threatening people with groups of “war veterans” in Mashonaland East: “He is the one leading the violence. He goes around with the youth militia and ‘war veterans’ and is always armed.” Another witness said: “I have seen him beating people in the area. He is very dangerous.”  
ZANU-PF and its allies have also established torture camps, and organized abusive “re-education” meetings around the country to compel MDC supporters into voting for Mugabe. Hundreds of people have been subjected to severe beatings, with logs, whips, bicycle chains, and other forms of torture during these meetings and at the camps.  
In one of the “re-education” meetings, on May 5 in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central, ZANU-PF officials and “war veterans” beat six men to death and tortured another 70 men and women, including a 76-year-old woman publicly thrashed in front of assembled villagers. Victims informed Human Rights Watch that “war veteran” retired Major Cairo Mhandu organized and incited the beatings in Chiweshe.  
In Mutoko, Mashonaland East on the night of April 10, ZANU-PF supporters brutally beat before the entire village about 20 men suspected of voting for the MDC. A 45-year-old man told Human Rights Watch that the ZANU-PF supporters used whips, chains, and iron bars to beat him and they broke his left leg below the knee. They repeatedly said that his “crime” was that he voted for the MDC during the elections.  
The government has prevented international aid agencies from distributing food aid to hundreds of thousands of people around the country in an attempt to control the distribution of food and use it as a tool to influence the election outcome.  
“President Mugabe and his government of Zimbabwe bear full responsibility for these serious crimes,” Gagnon said. “They have shown gross indifference to the plight of the people, allowing senior-ranking security officers, ‘war veterans,’ youth militia and ZANU-PF free rein to commit horrifying abuses.”  
Human Rights Watch also investigated the government’s increasing repression of civil society organizations and the media. In May, police arrested several trade unionists, a human rights lawyer, and a number of journalists on politically motivated charges. In an apparent bid to subvert the runoff electoral process and instill fear in local election officials and observers, police have arrested more than 100 presiding officers and election officials on politically motivated charges of electoral fraud. ZANU-PF supporters have attacked hundreds of observers from the independent election organization Zimbabwe Election Support Network, forcing many to flee their homes.  
Human Rights Watch called on members of the African Union and Southern Africa Development Community to show political leadership in support of human rights and stability in Zimbabwe by taking decisive steps to help end the violence in Zimbabwe. Human Rights Watch urged the AU and SADC to deploy election observer teams that have a sufficiently strong mandate to observe and report on the runoff based on regional AU and SADC principles guiding elections, and in a manner that accurately reflects the conditions on the ground.  
Human Rights Watch also urged the AU and SADC leaders to insist on full accountability for politically motivated crimes committed in Zimbabwe since March 29 and to call for an independent and impartial commission of inquiry into the abuses.  
“AU and SADC leaders should not turn a blind eye to the serious abuses taking place in Zimbabwe,” said Gagnon. “They should make it clear to Zimbabwe that they won’t endorse the elections and the result unless the government takes immediate measures to end the violence and other abuses.”

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Mugabe's brutality to force election victory is revealed

Independent, UK

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
Monday, 9 June 2008

The Zimbabwean army and police have been accused of setting up torture camps
and organising "re-education meetings" involving unspeakable cruelty where
voters are beaten and mutilated in the hope of achieving victory for
President Robert Mugabe in the second round of the presidential election.

A 40-page report issued today by Human Rights Watch contains comprehensive
and graphic witness accounts of the reign of terror being conducted behind a
wall of secrecy in sealed-off areas to punish the Zimbabwean electorate for
voting for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The result of the
29 March election forced President Mugabe into a humiliating run-off,
scheduled for 27 June, against his challenger Morgan Tsvangirai for the
first time in his 28-year rule.

The authors, who interviewed more than 70 witnesses to the violence,
identify senior military officials and police officers who were "inciting
and organising" the fightback, confirming the army's role in orchestrating
the brutality after a senior Western diplomat said that the country was now
being run by a military "junta" grouped in the Joint Operations Command. The
JOC is run by the defence forces chief but also includes the heads of the
police, prisons service and intelligence. Many of the camps at which MDC
supporters, or perceived opposition supporters, are beaten and mutilated are
located on army bases.

The harassment campaign is officially known as "Operation Makavhoterapapi",
meaning "where did you put your vote," according to locals. The army is
providing known "war veterans" and Zanu-PF supporters with guns,
transportation and the bases where the abuses are carried out.

Human Rights Watch says it has "information from credible sources in the
police and prison services, as well as from victims and eyewitnesses that
Operation Makavhoterapapi was planned and orchestrated under the direction
and command of the JOC. However, HRW said it could not link the JOC to
specific acts of violence.

The report says that 36 people have been killed and 2,000 have been beaten
or tortured since the first round of the presidential election on 29 March,
in which according to the official result Mr Tsvangirai obtained 47.9 per
cent against Mr Mugabe's 43.2 per cent.

In a chilling threat to villagers in Karoi, Mashonaland West province,
soldiers handed out bullets to villagers and told them: "If you vote for MDC
in the presidential run-off election, you have seen the bullets, we have
enough for each one of you, so beware."

Ringleaders are said to include Police Assistant Commissioner Martin
Kwainona of the presidential guard, who has been accused of inciting,
leading and perpetrating violence in Mount Darwin, Mashonaland Central. The
Mashonaland provinces are strongholds of the ruling Zanu-PF party where the
MDC made significant inroads in the election.

Mr Kwainona threatened people at a meeting at a school in Mount Darwin on 18
April, saying: "All MDC members in Mount Darwin must be made to disappear,
we are busy training our youths to do just that".

Another alleged culprit is an air force commander, Bramwell Kachairo. "He is
the one leading the violence," said one witness in Mashonaland East. Another
said: "I have seen him beating people in the area. He is very dangerous."

Human Rights Watch says the abuse is the worst it has seen in an election
campaign in Zimbabwe, a country where state-orchestrated political violence
has a grim record of impunity.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 3,000 people have fled their
homes as a result of the violence. Since the official results were released
on 2 June, the Mugabe regime has launched an all-out attack on opposition
supporters, confiscating ID cards, in a kind of electoral cleansing
campaign. More than 100 electoral officials have been arrested and MDC
activists have been killed.

Last week, the government suspended food distribution by aid agencies,
drawing international condemnation for using food as a weapon. The
government accused the West of supporting the MDC, and charges that the MDC
is responsible for the violence.

Mr Tsvangirai, whose campaign has been disrupted by arrests, spoke yesterday
in Bulawayo and Kwekwe where he urged supporters to turn out. Nelson
Chamisa, an MDC spokesman, said two rallies were held in Harare, despite
disruption attempts: "The people are so ...courageous. It was very

Human Rights Watch said that under current conditions there was "no
possibility of a credible, free and fair poll".

Six deaths at 're-education' meeting

Three hundred youth militia, Zanu-PF youths and "war veterans" ordered
villagers in Chiweshe into a "re-education meeting" on 5 May. Joseph
Madzuramhende was one of several villagers who had barbed wire tied round
his genitals and the other end tied around logs. Six Zanu-PF youth activists
told him: "We will beat you until you move the log with your penis." He died
in agony. His "crime" was to have invited villagers to his home to listen to
the election results on an independent radio station. Retired Major Cairo
Mhandu said: "This community needs to be taught a lesson. It needs
re-education. We want people to come forward and confess about their links
with the MDC and surrender to Zanu-PF." As no one came forward, one Zanu-PF
youth forced a 76-year-old woman to lie on her stomach. He said: "We will
beat this woman if people don't come forward." They started beating her
buttocks with logs. After 10 minutes, three men came forward and said they
were MDC just to stop the beating. The names of 20 MDC activists were called
out from a list. The party youths beat them and demanded that they each
reveal the names of other activists. In pain, the victims shouted out names,
and others were beaten. More than 70 people were beaten, and six died. No
arrests have been made.

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Zimbabwe's Opposition Says Its Rallies Continue to be Disrupted Despite Court Ruling


By James Butty
Washington, D.C.
09 June 2008

In Zimbabwe, the executive council of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) will meet sometime this week to deliberate on the continued
violence against its supporters as well as other issues related to the June
27th run-off election. The MDC says its rallies were disrupted Sunday in
Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city by supporters of
President Robert Mugabe. This despite a High Court ruling Saturday against
the government's ban on opposition rallies.

However, the MDC says two other rallies went ahead Sunday as planned in
Harare despite threats from militants of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

In another development, a court Sunday ordered police to release opposition
lawmaker Eric Matinenga, who was taken from his home Saturday and detained
outside the capital.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamissa told VOA that no amount of violence would stop
the MDC and its supporters.

"There is a deliberate strategy to de-capacitate the party; there is a
deliberate strategy to obviously render it comatose. But we have other
methods to communicate, and there is no way Mugabe is going to win an
election in this country. Of course he will try tactics and antics that are
quite dirty and out of the ordinary. But he will not succeed. He can run,
but he cannot hide. Mugabe is history; he's archival material now, and the
people want a new beginning and a new Zimbabwe," He said.

Chamissa said Saturday's High Court ruling that the government cannot ban
opposition rallies does not mean the opposition can have rallies anywhere in
the country.

"In fact this temporary relief was granted with regards to Harare. It's not
to do with the whole country. We still have challenges. The president
(Tsvangirai), his rallies were disrupted in Matabeleland, we continue to
have our rallies canceled in other parts of the country. There is no way we
are going to campaign without our opportunity and ability to assess the
Zimbabwe election. We are closed out in terms of the state media, the radio,
the TV. It's 100% ZANU-PF," Chamissa said.

Under such circumstances, Chamissa said the MDC would continue to use
traditional means such as rallies to reach its supporters. But he said the
ruling ZANU-PF and its supporters continue to intimidate the MDC.

"They are trying to suffocate us of the political oxygen by way of violence,
by way of looting. We don't believe that they will stop disrupting our
meetings because what they will want is to make sure that they cripple the
messenger so that the message doesn't reach the ordinary Zimbabweans. But we
are equal to the task; we want to make sure that we finish the
 dictatorship," he said.

UN officials said about 2 million people face greater risk of starvation,
homelessness, and disease because of the Mugabe government's order for aid
groups to halt operations.

Chamissa said President Mugabe is trying to use food as a political weapon
to win the June 27th run-off election. But he said such tactic would not

"It's an act of desperation, it's an act of insanity. There is no way a
person who can't feed the population would say people should die hungry
because they have to vote for me. Mugabe is trying to use food as a
political weapon. But that is not going to work. The people have made their
minds up. The people spoke on the 29th of March, and they are going to speak
again on the 27th of June. No amount of frustration, no amount of
intimidation or terror is going to deter people from their common objective
to have a new beginning and a new Zimbabwe," Chamissa said.

He hoped independent candidate Simba Makoni would support MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai like other opposition members have done.

"What we have here is not just a question of President Tsvangirai against
Mr. Mugabe. It's a question of dictatorship against the people, and those
who stand up for the people should be counted, and we hope that Dr. Makoni
is going to step forward and support President Tsvangirai," Chamissa said.

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MDC chief faces stern strategy test to win

Business Day

09 June 2008

Dumisani Muleya

IT IS now becoming increasingly clear that Zimbabwe's looming presidential
election runoff will be a monumental charade. By any measure it is as plain
as a pikestaff that the election will be a farce.

It will probably be the biggest sham poll since the nation's self-rule in

Mugabe's strategy entails violence, intimidation, propaganda through the
official media, while denying his main rival Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai access, disenfranchisement of voters, and
manipulation of malleable electoral officials and the chaotic voters' roll.
Voter intimidation and suppression is going on while ballot stuffing cannot
be ruled out.

Mugabe alleges he lost to Tsvangirai in March because of irregularities that
included deflation or inflation of votes, people voting twice or being
turned away, hostile western propaganda, bribery and vote buying, activities
of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), and external interference.

Mugabe also claims, without producing evidence, that western powers
massively funded MDC campaigns. As a result he has placed the police in
charge of the electoral process, undermining the role of the already
discredited Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. He has also banned NGOs from
distributing food aid to millions.

Undesirable electoral officials have been arrested and anti-MDC propaganda
is being stepped up. Tsvangirai is now barred from state media. His party
operates like a banned organisation. Last week, he was arrested twice while
campaigning. His rallies were banned until the courts intervened.

To deal with the hostile press Harare is whingeing about, suspected Mugabe
supporters recently burnt a truck carrying copies of a local paper.
Journalists are being arrested and harassed, and newspaper vendors have been
beaten up. Opposition leaders and supporters - civil society activists,
diplomats, journalists and ordinary dissenters - are being arrested on a
huge scale.

The situation can only get worse as Mugabe belligerently turns, tramples and
lashes out in all directions. The level of his desperation has become
dangerous and alarming. Security forces campaigning for him have been
accused of stirring up political violence which has claimed at least 60
lives to date.

Tsvangirai said last week security forces had sealed off the rural areas to
prevent him campaigning. It was a dramatic, yet barren, week for the MDC
leader in the southwest region where he was barred from holding rallies for
a week. The organised blockades have caused a political gravitational
collapse for Tsvangirai. The loss of momentum is palpable. His campaign has
become disjointed and incoherent.

Can anyone explain convincingly why there is no united front or broad-based
opposition movement behind Tsvangirai's campaign, when it is obvious this
would be his best insurance against violence and fraud? It boils down to a
lack of a serious and co-ordinated strategy for the poll.

Opposition forces are still fractured, disjointed and bickering over petty
issues. Tsvangirai is failing dismally to rise above the fray and inspire
the opposition to join forces, to reinforce his leverage against a rival who
should otherwise be a write-off because of the economic meltdown and his
disastrous failures.

Mugabe might eventually storm back to power through a "smash and grab"
approach unwittingly aided and abetted by the opposition's acts of
commission or omission. If Tsvangirai and allies acted collectively, Mugabe
would simply not win even through his warlike strategy.

The only redeeming advantage for Tsvangirai, though, is that Mugabe is
battling against a tide of popular opposition and resistance. Tsvangirai on
that account remains firmly on course, but for his credibility he really
needs to win because of himself, not despite himself.

That's where strategy comes in. Without improving his weak strategy in the
midst of escalating violence and repression, Tsvangirai risks losing an
election which is his to win or lose.

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MDC battle on in 'Mugabe's country'

Mail and Guardian


      Harare, Zimbabwe

      09 June 2008 07:06

            Zimbabwe's opposition had a successful day of campaigning
despite attempts by ruling party militants to thwart election activities,
party officials said on Sunday.

            President Robert Mugabe's supporters cordoned off the area where
opposition leaders were to speak in a Harare suburb, preventing the
opposition from going ahead with the rally, Movement for Democratic Change
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said.

            However, two other gatherings went ahead as planned in Harare
despite militants threatening and intimidating supporters at the venue,
Chamisa said.

            "The people are so strong and so courageous. It was very
successful," he said.

            On Saturday, a court had struck down a police ban on opposition

            MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai faces off against Mugabe in a
presidential run-off on June 27. Tsvangirai won the most votes in the first
round in March, but not enough to avoid a run-off.

            Tsvangirai, meanwhile, continued campaigning on Sunday in
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second main city, where he has been speaking to small
            of voters around Bulawayo.

            He also made a surprise visit at a small rally in Kwekwe, where
he urged supporters to go and vote, the party said in a statement.

            "The people have already won. The coming election would only
reaffirm this victory," Tsvangirai said. "Zimbabweans would resoundingly
defeat the regime and begin a new life with hope of a better Zimbabwe."

            However, the opposition said police attacked supporters in
Bulawayo and prevented them from putting up election campaign posters.

            A team of four party members were putting up posters when they
were confronted by police and other security forces who told them that "it
was Mugabe's country and only Mugabe could put posters on street poles and
the MDC would not be allowed," the opposition said in a statement.

            The team continued on to the railway station, but were followed
by police in riot gear and on bicycles, the party said. The police assaulted
the MDC members with baton sticks. One person suffered a broken leg and was
admitted to hospital.

            Comment from the police was not immediately available.

            Police state
            Tsvangirai's spokesperson, George Sibotshiwe, said Mugabe has
turned Zimbabwe into a police state.

            "The regime is denying the people their fundamental rights in
order to steal the June 27 election and subvert the will of the Zimbabwean
people through widespread violence and killings, wanton arrests and by
closing political space for the MDC to campaign," he said.

            Also Sunday, a court ordered police to release opposition
lawmaker Eric Matinenga, who was taken from his home on Saturday and
detained at a station outside the capital. He was accused of fomenting
violence, lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said.

            Matinenga, also detained on similar charges earlier in the week
but released because of a lack of evidence, is among scores of opposition
activists arrested in recent weeks. Matinenga, himself an attorney, has
represented opposition leaders in a string of high-profile court cases.

            The opposition and rights groups cite a rise in violence and
intimidation in the run-up to the vote. Tsvangirai's party, blaming state
agents, says at least 60 of its supporters have been slain in the past two

            Tsvangirai, who his party says has been the target of at least
three assassination attempts, left Zimbabwe after the March vote, but
returned in late May to campaign for the run-off.

            About 2 900 victims of political violence have been treated in
hospital since
            elections on March 29, medical specialists said on Sunday.

            The Specialist Doctors in Zimbabwe, comprising surgeons,
anaesthetists, physicians and paediatricians, said in a statement that over
200 people had had to be hospitalised with injuries and complications as a
result of injuries.

            "Sadly, a number have succumbed to these injuries," the
organisation said, without giving details.

            The statement added that "there have been reports of some
members of the profession being involved in violence," and said members of
the association "dissociate ourselves from any members who may be directly
or indirectly involved in violence".

            The statement did not name anyone. In April however, reports
cited Zimbabwe Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, a medical doctor, as
appearing before a rally of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party,
brandishing an AK47 assault rifle in front of frightened villagers.

            The National Association of Societies for the Care of the
Handicapped (NASCOH) on Sunday warned the violence "will continue to haunt
its victims, and society, long after the violence has ended".

            "Limbs have been severed and mutilated, thus adding to the
physical disability population. People have been subjected to such brutal
head injuries that their sight and hearing has been affected, while some
have been traumatised so much by the intensity and brutality of the violence
that they have joined the ranks of the mentally challenged."

            Some children, the association added, had also been beaten up
and forced to witness the their parents and other relatives being beaten or

            "These children have been scarred and traumatized for life," the
NASCOH said. "They have been deprived of their future."

            According to human rights workers and doctors treating the
injured, the victims have identified members of Mugabe's Zanu-PF militia,
the army and police as the perpetrators, except in a tiny minority of cases,
when MDC activists have retaliated. - Sapa-DPA, Sapa-AP

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Mugabe's Regime Destroying Zimbabwe


      [Analysis] No end to the people's misery appears in sight

      Isaac Hlekisani Dziya

     Published 2008-06-09 08:03 (KST)

On a cool June afternoon Zimbabweans seek solace in their homes, at
least those whose homes are still intact do.

President Robert Mugabe unashamedly continues to rob the people of
their political rights. He also seems intent on making them starve.

Mugabe's performance this week at the United Nations Food and
Agriculture conference in Rome, where he blamed Western sanctions for the
hunger of his people, was obscene. Zimbabweans are hungry because Mugabe has
mismanaged the agricultural sector of a nation that was once known as
Africa's "breadbasket."

And Mugabe unleashed a fresh hell in this area this week: a ban on the
distribution of food and water by international aid agencies. One-third of
the population relies on such aid and about 5 percent are suffering from
severe malnutrition. The UN says this ruling will severely restrict its

Mugabe is using food and politics in an inextricably linked way. The
authorities want to control the distribution of food aid so they can
withhold it from opposition strongholds. It is also a way to ensure that
international aid workers will not witness the violence being used to
intimidate voters in rural areas.

Every Zimbabwean is aware of the militia that the government is using
to target the Movement for Democratic Change's campaign for Tvsangrai's
presidential bid. This week that government targeted foreign diplomatic

Commenting on the arrest of American and British diplomatic staff in
Zimbabwe, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said, "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."

The diplomats were investigating political violence in and around

The government has ignored pleas to allow in election observers from
outside Zimbabwe to arrest further suffering. The military rulers obviously
fear that their steely grip on the nation will be loosened and that their
attempts to intimidate voters into submission will be scuttled.

The military regime should be held to account for its atrocities. The
arrests of the diplomats while Mugabe was in Rome only go to show that he is
no longer in control of issues in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is now a mere front whose
"sale by" date has since come and gone.

But, in another tragic twist for Zimbabwe, it seems his rule as a
military-backed "strongman" may have begun. Zimbabwe military junta
government be warned: Refusal to allow food aid to be delivered to those who
need it leads to a true crime against humanity.

Millions of concerned "neighbors" around the world, watching in
frustrated horror as the tragedy deepens, believe that major crimes against
humanity have already been committed. The Mugabe regime has already done
enough to merit trial by an international court.

Every time one imagines that Zimbabwe has hit rock bottom, Mugabe's
regime manages to push the country into even greater misery. The past week
has witnessed the unleashing of a campaign of violent intimidation against
the political opposition. Thugs working for the ruling regime have forced
thousands to flee their homes and left scores dead, including prominent MDC
activist Tonderai Ndira.

Yet, there is an unusual recklessness about all this, even by
Zimbabwean standards. Mugabe does not mind the condemnation of the West, of
course. Indeed, it would not be surprising if he had traveled to Rome to
provoke it. But his allies in Africa are finding his behavior increasingly
difficult to excuse.

We should remember that it was South African mediation in the March
elections that made it more difficult for the Mugabe regime to rig the
results than in previous contests. South Africa's African National Congress
president, Jacob Zuma, has taken a much more critical line toward Mugabe
than has President Thabo Mbeki.

However, the aura of invincibility that once shrouded Mugabe has been
lifted following his personal defeat in the first round of the March 29
election. No amount of beatings and killings can restore it; a case in point
is Matebeleland, where he used the Fifth Brigade to do exactly that, making
himself forever persona non grata in that region.

As McGee argues, "We are dealing with a desperate regime here that
will do anything to stay in power."

Sadly, that does not mean the end is in sight. As we have seen in
Burma, desperate regimes can be formidable at clinging to power. And there
are reports that the leaders of the Zimbabwean military would not
countenance regime change, even if Mugabe would.

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Lost Letter Raises Questions About Mbeki's Role in Zimbabwe

New York Times

Published: June 9, 2008
JOHANNESBURG - The curious case of the mysterious letter from Zimbabwe's
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to South Africa's president, Thabo
Mbeki, got a new chapter this weekend that raised yet more questions about
Mr. Mbeki's credibility as the regional mediator in Zimbabwe's increasingly
tumultuous political crisis.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, campaigning Sunday, says he
wrote a letter asking the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, to step
aside as mediator in Zimbabwe.
Times Topics: Zimbabwe | Morgan Tsvangirai
News of Mr. Tsvangirai's impassioned, four-page missive broke a week ago in
South African newspapers. In the May 13 letter, marked "privileged, private
and confidential," Mr. Tsvangirai, a former trade union leader, maintained
that Mr. Mbeki had favored Zimbabwe's aging strongman, President Robert
Mugabe, and that he should step aside as the sole mediator.

Mr. Tsvangirai, now campaigning for a June 27 runoff election with Mr.
Mugabe, recounted his shock at seeing Mr. Mbeki on television on April 12
holding hands with Mr. Mugabe in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and saying
there was no crisis. That day, regional heads of state were meeting in
Lusaka, Zambia, to confront Zimbabwe's crisis, set off by the government's
extraordinary delay in releasing the results of the March presidential

"In fact, since the 29 March election, Zimbabwe has plunged into horrendous
violence while you have been mediating," Mr. Tsvangirai wrote. "With
respect, if we continue like this, there will be no country left."

Then last week, the story of the letter to Mr. Mbeki - who had been
designated by the Southern African Development Community, a regional bloc of
nations, to mediate the political conflict in Zimbabwe - took a strange

Frank Chikane, director general of Mr. Mbeki's office, held a news
conference on Wednesday in which he denied not only that the president had
received the letter, but that it even existed, according to the South
African Press Association. And in a statement, Mr. Mbeki's office accused
the news media of printing a fabrication and being taken in by a
disinformation campaign.

"Regarding these reports, the presidency reiterates that President Thabo
Mbeki has not received any such letter from Mr. Tsvangirai," the statement

The statement also took the news media to task for asking about rumors that
many South Africans were struggling to understand Mr. Mbeki's silence since
the election as dozens of opposition supporters in Zimbabwe were killed and
hundreds brutally beaten.

The rumors "include claims that either President Mbeki or Mrs. Zanele Mbeki
are supposed to be blood relatives of Mrs. Grace Mugabe," Mr. Mugabe's wife,
the statement noted in a tone of disbelief.

Trying to understand Mr. Mbeki is a favorite parlor game here in
Johannesburg. Its latest iterations include wondering why he never visited
South Africa's impoverished townships as they exploded with xenophobic
violence last month.

Asked this question on Sunday, Mr. Mbeki's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga,
replied that the government had responded appropriately. "Government is a
collective," he said. "It's not an individual." Then his phone buzzed with
another call that he said was very important and he signed off.

Another persistent question is why Mr. Mbeki has stuck to his "quiet
diplomacy" with Mr. Mugabe as Zimbabwe's economy has sunk ever deeper into
ruin and sent millions of despairing Zimbabweans pouring into South Africa.

Does he have a soft spot for the 84-year-old Mr. Mugabe because he led a
liberation movement against white rule that resonates in South Africa? Does
he dislike Mr. Tsvangirai?

Mr. Tsvangirai, when interviewed in mid-May, seemed to lean toward the
theory that the nations' shared liberation history was the cause.

Asked if Mr. Mbeki liked him, he laughed heartily and said, "If he had his
choice of who would be the president of Zimbabwe, I think he would not jump
up and say, hallelujah, Morgan Tsvangirai is the president of Zimbabwe!"

Mr. Tsvangirai said Mr. Mbeki seemed to think Zimbabwe could solve its own
political problems.

"He said Zimbabweans must solve their own problems," Mr. Tsvangirai said.
"Zimbabweans went on the 29th and voted! How else do you want Zimbabweans to
solve their problems?"

On Wednesday, Mr. Tsvangirai was detained for nine hours on his way to a
political rally in Zimbabwe. The next day, Mr. Mbeki's office said he had
called the authorities in Zimbabwe on Mr. Tsvangirai's behalf.

"President Mbeki appeals for calmness and proportionate use of language, the
better to manage tensions generally associated with election campaigns in
many parts of the world," the statement from Mr. Mbeki's office said.

It maintained an evenhanded tone that drives the opposition in Zimbabwe to
distraction, particularly since civic and human rights groups insist that
the political violence there is carried out overwhelmingly by Mr. Mugabe's

South Africa's opposition leader, Helen Zille, denounced Mr. Mbeki in an
open letter on Friday. "By appeasing Mugabe and endorsing every
fundamentally flawed election in Zimbabwe," she wrote, "you are complicit in
the tyranny that has befallen that country."

Finally on Saturday, Zimbabwe's opposition party issued a statement saying
that, indeed, it had sent Mr. Tsvangirai's letter to Mr. Mbeki and promising
to send him a fresh copy.

George Sibotshiwe, Mr. Tsvangirai's spokesman, said the original letter had
been sent by courier while Mr. Tsvangirai was in South Africa. "I've made
sure," he said. "I've confirmed that the letter was delivered to them."

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When only one man dared speak

The Times, SA

Justice Malala: Monday Morning Matters
Published:Jun 09, 2008

The stench filled the hall but the leaders kept smiling

There were 800 delegates, mainly political and business leaders, to the
World Economic Forum for Africa, in Cape Town last week. They included our
president and the leaders of many other African states.

All of them knew there was a big stink in the middle of the hall but none
would acknowledge it. They walked around it and hoped it would go away. They
went for lunch and came back. They had cocktails and came back.

But the stink would not go away. They uttered inanities about trade
imbalances and sky-rocketing food prices. They pretended to be engaged with
the issues that really affect their world, such as oil prices, but it was no
good. The stink got worse.

But still no one would talk about it. After all, if anyone did mention the
big stink emanating from right in front of them they would have to examine
what caused it.

Then along came Raila Odinga, prime minister of Kenya. He broke the
conspiracy of denial and pointed at the stink. And he knew what he was
talking about.

It was exactly the same stink that caused Mwai Kibaki, president of Kenya,
to steal the election in December . It was Kibaki's theft that led to the
death of 1500 people in the violence that ensued.

So Odinga pointed at the stink while the rest of Africa's leaders kept
quiet. He said Africa should stop using its colonial past as an excuse and
accept that "mediocrity" of leadership kept it underdeveloped while Asian
countries forged ahead.

"It is unfortunate that, in an African country, elections can be held and no
results announced for more than a month, and African leaders are silent
about it.

"It would not happen in Europe. Let us say what we mean and mean what we say
when we talk about African development," he said.

"The way it has been ruled is responsible for Africa's underdevelopment," he

Africa's leaders had proved unwilling to share power.

Odinga's words were a welcome diversion from the empty grins, and the
niceties the leaders at such meetings like to mouth.

He clearly was not there for the buffet and the free drinks. He had won an
election, it had been stolen from him and he had received no support from
Africa's leaders.

The man wanted to speak the truth - and did.

One must hope that the leaders at the economic forum were listening. Odinga's
words should have shamed them all.

In that hall were the African worthies who kept schtum while Zimbabwe's
Robert Mugabe arrested, tortured and stole from his countrymen.

There too was President Thabo Mbeki, who only six months ago tried to go for
a third term as ANC president. One can only hope that Mbeki realises that,
when people talk about African leaders who do not want to hand over power,
they are talking about people like him.

It is heartening to see that there are South African leaders who agree with
Odinga's no-holds- barred analysis. Businesswoman Wendy Luhabe reportedly
echoed his sentiments. She reportedly bemoaned the quality of political
leadership on the continent but said that if Odinga represented the new face
of Africa there was hope.

"Our leaders are simply not stepping up to the challenge," she told a
workshop at the economic forum. "There is a crisis of leadership in the
world and South Africa is no exception."

She said there was a "conspiracy of silence among African leaders" on
critical issues. This, she said, made it difficult for the continent "to
translate its challenges into what we would consider to be unprecedented

We ordinary citizens are as much to blame as our leaders for the state we
find ourselves in - we let our leaders do these things to us.

South Africans, and Africans in general, must participate more strongly in
their democracies. We must not only vote, we must speak up on issues. The
best democrats are like the members of the dock workers' union in Durban who
refused to off-load the arms shipment meant for Mugabe's regime two months
ago. They not only spoke up, they acted.

The age of the Big Man in Africa is over. Ordinary citizens must ensure that
it never returns.

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Zimbabwe's suicide

Washington Times

Will Mugabe cling to power?
Paul Moorcraft
Monday, June 9, 2008

Robert Mugabe gave me a long interview in early 1980. He was the brightest
and most impressive politician I had met in Africa. He preached
reconciliation with his enemies. Now, in Zimbabwe, he is reviled as a
murderous tyrant. The idea that absolute power over 28 years, plus senility,
has caused him eventually to become demented is not convincing. Mr. Mugabe's
utterly sober and single-minded determination and ruthlessness have always
been marks of his character. He was a tough guerrilla leader in his
liberation war. After independence from Britain in April 1980, he wiped out
his tribal opposition in Matabeleland, killing more than 10,000 people in
the first years of his rule.

Britain's rebel colony, Rhodesia, was killed off by war, sanctions and
Whitehall diplomacy, but Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe has committed suicide. Rarely
in modern history has a state been so mismanaged.

Some African leaders have stood by him out of a misplaced sense of
solidarity, including South African President Thabo Mbeki, who holds the
economic levers. Then the recent ascendancy of Jacob Zuma, Mr. Mbeki's
archrival, spawned a change in the ruling African National Congress. The
trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition,
became a much more attractive option.

Until very recently the South African government has refused to condemn Mr.
Mugabe. Mr. Mbeki, who played an insignificant role in his own country's
liberation, has been lambasted for deferring to Mr. Mugabe, who is still
revered on the continent for his part in the anti-colonial struggle. But the
recent killing of 22 foreigners, mainly Zimbabweans, in a wave of xenophobic
attacks in South Africa is blamed on Mr. Mbeki's failed policies. Nearly 3
million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa.

Destroying one's country by poor policies is not a crime - otherwise half
the continent's leaders would end up in the dock. But crimes against
humanity, especially the genocide in Matabeleland, are different. In theory,
the International Criminal Court could try Mr. Mugabe for numerous crimes
committed after 2002.

But the endgame will be political, not legal. Transition and reconstruction
have to come before retribution or justice. The African Union, and many in
the South African government, have finally had enough of Mr. Mugabe's
antics. The survival, however, of Mr. Mugabe's revolutionary ZANU-PF party
is important to the similar parties which rule not just in South Africa, but
also in Angola and Mozambique. An electoral victory by Mr. Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which does not base its credentials on
the anti-colonial struggle, would lead to a questioning of the dominant
political structures in the whole region.

The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, believes conditions are too
violent for a proper election. He has roundly condemned the attacks on
supporters of Mr. Tsvangirai.

Nevertheless, Mr. Mbeki will try to finesse the survival of ZANU-PF as the
ruling party. By rigging and violence, Mr. Mugabe will win the second round
of the presidential elections, which are scheduled for June 27. Mr. Mugabe
may be persuaded to accept the role of ceremonial president (which was the
norm in Rhodesia and the early years of Zimbabwe). A current ZANU-PF
politician, or even possibly the South African favorite, Simba Makoni, who
stood as an independent presidential candidate, might become prime minister.
Mr. Tsvangirai, the real winner of the last election in March against all
the odds, may be co-opted as deputy president or deputy prime minister.

A government of national unity will be formed by South African pressure. It
will either be a double-decker duplication of ministries, as in Kenya, or a
shotgun wedding as ZANU-PF swallows the MDC, as happened in the 1980s when
Mr. Mugabe forced his main rival, Joshua Nkomo, to surrender to him.

Mr. Mugabe will be shunted off to enjoy a quiet retirement in his new
mansion outside Harare. Only then can rebuilding Zimbabwe begin. With
generous international aid, and a lot of luck, it might take Zimbabwe 20 or
30 years to get back to the economic levels at independence in 1980.

What role should the West play? Although Britain provides extensive
humanitarian aid, it is the main scapegoat for Mr. Mugabe's tirades, so
London has to tread carefully. The British army provided a core component in
the small Commonwealth force which helped to broker the cease-fire at the
end of 1979, and a small British training team helped to avoid civil war in
1980-81 and supervised the merger of the colonial forces with the two main
guerrilla armies. But the United States could play a vital role in the

Mr. Tsvangirai has called for international observers and possibly a
monitoring force in the second round of elections. And it is not impossible
that South Africa could veto Mr. Mugabe's objections to a U.N. or even
Commonwealth force. Zimbabwe under a new ruler would want to return to the
Commonwealth, so a very low-key Western military observer presence might be
a part, if not of the forthcoming elections, then later as part of a new
transitional administration. Both the United States and the United Kingdom
could play a major role in retraining the corrupt, vicious security and
police structure.

Zimbabwe could still erupt in nationwide violence on the Kenyan model, or
worse. Or South Africa, and perhaps even China, might be able to enforce a
relatively peaceful, if still stage-managed, fresh election. Nevertheless,
the manner of Mr. Mugabe's departure might yet disgrace the whole continent.

Paul Moorcraft is director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis in

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Mugabe's police try to stifle rival party

Boston Globe

Activists harassed as runoff nears
Associated Press / June 9, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Ruling party militants prevented the opposition from
holding a rally yesterday in a Harare suburb, while police in Bulawayo
attacked people who were putting up election campaign posters for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, its officials said.

more stories like this
However, two other gatherings went ahead as planned in Harare despite
militants threatening and intimidating opposition supporters at the venue,
party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

"The people are so strong and so courageous. It was very successful," he

A court on Saturday struck down an indefinite police ban on opposition

The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, faces
off against President Robert Mugabe in a runoff June 27. Tsvangirai won the
most votes in the first round in March, but not enough to avoid a runoff.

Independent human rights groups say opposition supporters have been beaten
and killed by government and ruling party thugs to ensure that Mugabe, 84,
in power since independence from Britain in 1980, wins the second round.

The opposition says at least 60 of its supporters have been slain in the
past two months. Tsvangirai, who has been the target of at least three
assassination attempts, left Zimbabwe after the March vote but returned in
late May to campaign for the runoff.

Yesterday, Tsvangirai was in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, and
also made a surprise visit to a small rally in Kwekwe, where he urged
supporters to go and vote, the party said in a statement.

"The people have already won. The coming election would only reaffirm this
victory," Tsvangirai said. "Zimbabweans would resoundingly defeat the regime
and begin a new life with hope of a better Zimbabwe."

In Bulawayo, the opposition said that police attacked its supporters and
prevented them from putting up election campaign posters.

A team of four party members was putting up posters when they were
confronted by police and other security forces who told them that "it was
Mugabe's country and only Mugabe could put posters on street poles and the
MDC would not be allowed," the opposition said in a statement.

The team continued on to the railway station, but were followed by police in
riot gear and on bicycles. The police assaulted the MDC members with baton
sticks; one person suffered a broken leg and was admitted to a hospital, the
party said.

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State are sponsoring an explosion of violence in Zimbabwe to stop a fair vote, warns human rights group

Daily Mail, UK

By Eddie Wrenn
Last updated at 2:07 AM on 09th June 2008

The violence which has been sweeping Zimbabwe since the controversial
election win for Robert Mugabe in March is the result of an organised
military coup, according to a human rights group.

The Human Rights Watch, in a report released today, say the organised
violence within the country over the last few months far exceeds the
violence witnessed in previous years, with militias being armed with AK47s,
hand-guns and rifles.

Senior Western diplomats have corroborated the report, calling the situation
a 'military coup by stealth', with the country now being run by the Joint
Operations Command, a secretive security politburo formed by military and
police generals, senior intelligence officers, prison service officials and
leaders of the ruling Zanu (PF) party.

The report details a chain of command starting with the with power filtering
down to senior officers, who have responsibility for individual regions, and
'war veterans' and Zanu (PF) youth militias carrying out violence and
serving as a proxy military force in their areas.

also used military transportation and even attacked from military bases.

A senior Western diplomat said the military takeover began days after the
March 29 election, with a stunned Mr Mugabe preparing to stand down before
the generals moved in.

However 'The generals didn't let him go - afraid that Mr Mugabe's departure
would expose them to prosecution, they struck a deal guaranteeing his

'This is a military coup by stealth. There are no tanks on people's lawns,
but the Joint Operations Command runs this country.'

The takeover has led to a shocking explosion in the level of violence in the
country which, coupled with the militarisation of the food distribution
channel and the banning of help by aid agencies, is leading to an even more
desperate time for the country's 13million inhabitants.

Documents leaked by disgruntled army officers name 200 of high-serving
officers who have each assigned an area to oversee 'Operation Where Did You
Put Your Vote?', seeking to punish those who voted for the Movement for
Democratic Change, 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.

HRW documents many occasions where violence was excecuted by uniformed
soldiers. One victim described how supporters for democratic change were
being approached in their homes and beaten.

He said: '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.'

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Mugabe running 'a police state'

The Times, SA

Werner Swart and Sapa Published:Jun 09, 2008

Archbishop describes his visit to what's become Hell on Earth

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has described Zimbabwe as "a police state"
and has called for the deployment of large numbers of election monitors to
ensure that the June 27 presidential run-off election is free and fair.


He was speaking as the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was
prevented from holding a rally in Harare yesterday.

After a pastoral visit to Zimbabwe, the Archbishop of Cape Town said :
"There is no doubt that Zimbabwe is a police state."

He said that during a four- hour trip from Harare to Masvingo he had gone
through nine police roadblocks and been stopped at each one. The police were
armed with rifles.

Groups of men, women and youngsters were in the streets chanting "Mugabe,
what should we do with the sell-outs? Tell us?" Makgoba said.

"Two trucks [were] transporting such groups to instil fear in others."

He said that on the way to Masvingo he had seen derelict, once-prosperous
farms and queues of people stretching from shops.

"Hyper-inflation, poverty and hunger are their daily reality."

MDC officials accused ruling party militants of preventing them from holding
a rally yesterday, a day after a court lifted a police ban on opposition

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said President Robert Mugabe's supporters
cordoned off part of an Harare suburb where opposition leaders were to have
spoken, forcing the opposition to cancel the rally.

Two other rallies would go ahead as planned in Harare, Chamisa said.

The situation in Zimbabwe remains volatile. MDC supporters were attacked by
the police and members of the Central Intelligence Organisation yesterday in

MDC members, led by national deputy spokesman Thabita Khumalo, were putting
up posters when they were confronted by the police.

They were reportedly told it was Mugabe's country and only Mugabe could put
posters on street poles.

MDC presidential spokesman George Sibotshiwe said the Mugabe regime had
turned Zimbabwe into a militarised state.

He said: "The regime is denying the people their fundamental rights in order
to steal the June 27 election and subvert the will of the Zimbabwean people,
through widespread violence and killings."

The police allegedly assaulted the MDC members with batons and one man's leg
was reportedly broken.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai continued campaigning yesterday in Bulawayo,
Sibotshiwe said.

A court yesterday ordered the police to release opposition legislator Eric
Matinenga, who was taken from his home the day before and detained at a
police station just outside the capital. He was accused of fomenting
violence, lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said.

Matinenga was detained on similar charges earlier in the week but was
released for lack of evidence.

He is among scores of opposition activists arrested in recent weeks.

Tsvangirai's party, blaming state agents, says at least 60 of its supporters
have been killed in the past two months. - Sapa-AP

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Reflections on self defence in Zimbabwe

Nehanda Radio

09 June 2008

By Bridget Tapuwa

Every sane Zimbabwean irrespective of where they are in the world have
probably been reflecting with worry upon the ongoing callous and brutal
torture being perpetrated on innocent people by the nefarious thugs in

My thoughts have gone beyond that to reflect upon the proposal by some
Zimbabweans who include Dr Lovemore Madhuku among others, that those being
attacked by the notorious elements should retaliate in self defense.

Such a proposal coming against the background that there is a big likelihood
that the much talked about Chinese ship has indeed offloaded some weaponry
in Zimbabwe.

Even in the absence of such a possibility, lies also the given background
that the perpetrators are the very same elements in full control of the
weaponry in Zimbabwe. Otherwise how else could they have acquired the arms
that they are using so recklessly?

As if that is not enough, the media has it that Tendai Biti recently in Cape
Town warned that a war might ensue if the MDC-T party does not win the June
27 election. He speculates through juxtaposing, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
A war erupting in Zimbabwe at the loss of MDC? Where are the arms to
facilitate such?

I do not want to in any way bank my reasoning on the ideas being sold by
some organizations such as the one that has been marketing itself in the
media as the 'Zimbabwean Resistance Movement'. Allegedly being run by some
members of the Uniformed forces, who argue that they want to bring about
change in Zimbabwe through armed war.

Their argument is based on the fact that they are convinced that they are,
in their low ranking positions best positioned to facilitate this. Am
thinking, when one is serious about waging a war, do they really initially
go about giving open threats in this manner? Do they not simply take the
barrel and shoot, and we wake up to a new scenario?

I want to believe that the movement is just an idea creeping and breeding in
someone's mind, who is doubting the possibility of dislodging Zanu pf
through the ballot in the face of a disfigured voting landscape.

In the Zimbabwe that we know, before the low ranking group of the Uniformed
Forces Resistance Movement even conceives the idea of forming the
organization, they will have been grisly brought before their superiors.

And, in this light, the idea of an unarmed lay Zimbabwean man defending
himself against a drugged vicious armed thug falls not as a feasible option
to me. Nor does the idea of a war erupting in Zimbabwe at the loss of MDC in
the upcoming elections. Even in as much as I also long for sanity to prevail
in Zimbabwe, and also in as much as I would like to have a scenario where
the perpetrators of violence are told in no uncertain terms that they do not
own Zimbabwe.

Questionable is whether or not we are really serious when we make some of
these suggestions? Do such suggestions come out of real concern on the
plight of the Zimbabwean man, or do we simply make a ruckus because we want
to be heard talking and to be noticed? Are we not using the low ranking
Zimbabwean to gain political mileage? Instilling to the low ranking
Zimbabwean, an idea not feasible, that they can successfully wage an unarmed
war against the armed state is being very reckless and careless, a very
cruel way of misleading the Zimbabwean man who is desperately seeking a
regime change.

At this juncture, I need to highlight without any hesitation that more and
more violence is very likely to engulf Zimbabwe because as we all know the
Zanu pf regime wants to stay put and will use all means at their disposal to
thwart any regime change. They are bound to use live ammunition on any
street protesters, and so it is also very mischievous for anyone to suggest
that the 'ordinary' Zimbabweans go on wide street protests; the Myanmar way.

'Ordinary' Zimbabweans, because from a general analysis, there appears to be
a general pattern and trend in Zimbabwe's street protests, where the street
protests are dominated by the very lowly paid worker, and the unemployed,
the men who in the old street language was referred to as the 'povo'. One
can easily draw a clear line which indicates the class constituencies which
generally partake on the street protests even though the effects of the
plummeting Zimbabwean economy cut across all classes.

The most worrying factor comes when the partakers in the protests are killed
or maimed whilst those giving the suggestions are dining and wining. Such
proposals are normally shouted by those on the pinnacles of ivory towers,
who will design the demonstration placards, but on the day of the protests,
will shelter away at home, or partake in the protests but come out not
maimed. And then to add salt to the injury, when there are injuries and
deaths involved, financial assistance to the victims does not easily flow
through. A recent media article had this to disclose;

'On Wednesday many people were injured during the raid on mourners and
several were admitted to hospital. Human rights lawyer, Dhewa Mavhinga who
was present at the funeral, said he saw Kauzani's wife trying to flee from
the mob with her 4 children, including one who is disabled. Kauzani's father
also fled the scene, but tragically the family did not even have bus fare to
travel to the relative safety of town.'

Even though there may be an escalation in the number of victims to the
violence, the failure by us as Zimbabweans to coordinate ourselves and get
funds freely rolling to assist such desperate families has been
inexplicable; 'the family did not even have bus fare to travel to the
relative safety of town'. It comes as a big relief that I have since learnt
that the President of MDC; Morgan Tsvangirai has since launched a fund to
help such victims.

I am well cognizant of the fact that not all victims to the violence are
retaliating against the vicious attacks, and they are still not being spared
of the maiming or killing. However, retaliating will indeed worsen the
already bad scenario.

It is therefore prudent that we accept reality no matter how hurting it may
be, in this case the reality that fighting an armed man whilst you are not
armed is highly questionable. Let us talk real and not fiction.

The writer, Bridget Tapuwa is based in Belgium and she can be reached at or

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