By Alex Bell
03 March 2011
Germany has protested to the Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Ministry this week
after its ambassador, Albrecht Conze, was attacked by a suspected ZANU PF
mob in Harare on Tuesday.
A mob attacked the ambassador’s official vehicle while he was travelling
from the German Embassy on Tuesday night. Conze and his driver escaped
“On its way from the Embassy to the residence, at around 7.15 p.m. on 1st
March, the German ambassador's official car, a Mercedes-Benz limousine, was
attacked and severely damaged by unknown aggressors,” the embassy statement
“The ambassador’s driver had been forced to stop at the Churchill
Road/College Road junction as another vehicle, coming out of College Road,
had the right of way. As the vehicle stopped, the rear right window was
twice hit from outside with a heavy (probably metallic) device. However, the
badly damaged window resisted, and the aggressor - not visible from the
inside of the vehicle - refrained from hitting a third time - something he
could have done to finally smash the window. The driver then managed to
speed off from the scene. Neither he nor the ambassador were injured,” the
The German embassy said the incident was reported to Avondale Police Station
and the ministry of Foreign Affairs. The police are reportedly launching a
Commentators believe the attack is linked to Conze’s recent comments about
empowerment in Zimbabwe, which are said to have angered top ZANU PF
officials. The attack followed the publication of Conze’s article: “Best
practices for Empowerment - a German view.” He wrote that ZANU PF needs to
rethink its ‘empowerment’ policies, or risk further international isolation.
The ambassador said: “The recent rattling of sabres against the ghost of
‘white supremacy’ does carry the risk of isolating the country once again
from Africa’s dynamic mainstream. The rhetoric used by certain ministers in
this respect are not only ill-founded, irritating and unconstitutional, but
totally out of tune with the rest of the continent, where race issues have
long been set aside, with no more impact on policy decisions,” said the
In response, ZANU PF’s George Charamba, writing as columnist Nathaniel
Manheru, wrote in the state run Herald:
”Zimbabwe is no land for the archetypal supple African of colonial lore. We
are a very proud, self-believing people, and that he must be told in stark
language, that man. That is the language Germans understand. They are not
well known for any aristocratic graces, whether by deed or by tongue. You
talk to them on their rough terms, and they understand you, respect you
even,” Manheru, aka Charamba, wrote.
By Tichaona Sibanda
3 March 2011
Construction of the government’s secret electronic eavesdropping complex
just outside Harare is moving at a ‘very fast pace’ SW Radio Africa learned
It’s believed the complex will, amongst many other things, be used to
monitor internet use and telephone calls in Zimbabwe. The ‘snooping’
project, according to a source, is to become the government agency that
monitors communications around the whole country.
Robert Mugabe officiated at the launch of the building site in 2007.
He said then ‘the role of defending Zimbabwe cannot be left to mediocre
officers incapable of comprehending and analytically evaluating the
operational environment to ensure that the sovereignty of our state is not
only preserved, but enhanced’.
It’s believed the current system used by the CIO is able to monitor e-mails,
phone calls and internet use for only a small number of high profile
opponents of Mugabe, like the entire leadership of the two MDC formations.
An information analyst told us the Chinese, who are constructing the
complex, are capable of equipping the snooping project with a programme
called Mastering the Internet (MTI). This program enables most security
agencies to ‘spy at will’ on emails, website visits, social networking
sessions, and telephone calls made over the internet on a massive scale.
Reports in the media said the complex, along the Harare to Bindura highway,
is also an intelligence academy that will be operated by the CIO and local
SW Radio Africa talked to multiple sources who confirmed the site is just a
kilometre away from the Marlborough police station along the Mazowe road
before Christon bank.
‘The actual construction began six months ago and is situated at the old
University of Zimbabwe farm. The complex is huge and there are a lot of
Chinese builders on the site. They first erected a massive durawall, that
anyone passing through the area will not see anything inside,’ a source
An MDC councillor in one of the wards in Christon bank near the complex said
there have been conflicting reports about the nature of work that will be
done at the site when construction work is completed.
‘We are told its going to be a military school, while others say it’s going
to be a SADC intelligence academy. But whatever it is its massive, looking
at the space used for the project,’ the councillor said.
It has been described as the biggest spend on military infrastructure in
Zimbabwe in decades.
While most governments have ‘spy agencies’ that are primarily used as
interceptors and decrypters of communications, they are however subject to
rigorous scrutiny by their lawmakers.
They operate within a legal framework where the interception of information
is normally allowed only in cases of national security, safeguarding
economic wellbeing and the prevention and detection of serious crime.
But in Zimbabwe such operations are out of the radar of parliamentarians and
normally target political opponents of the former ruling ZANU PF party. With
the heads of the security and military services answerable only to Mugabe,
this is unlikely to change.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
03 March, 2011
Job Sikhala, president of the MDC 99 party, was admitted to a hospital in
Harare on Thursday, a day after being granted bail on unspecified charges.
Sikhala was arrested last Friday by heavily armed police and spent 5 days in
detention. The former MP for St Mary’s told SW Radio Africa that he was
assaulted by intelligence agents while in police custody and is not able to
walk unassisted. He said x-rays taken on Thursday revealed that he had a
broken bone near the spine.
Sikhala explained that although he was granted bail on Wednesday, he still
has no clear understanding of the charges he is facing. He was initially
accused of kidnapping but that was later changed to “organizing Egypt style
protests”. The final charges related to “entering the Chiadzwa diamond
fields” in Manicaland, a month ago.
“I don’t see how anyone can enter Chiadzwa under the security that is there.
The charges kept changing and there were no witnesses for the state with any
evidence,” explained Sikhala.
Speaking just after being admitted to hospital, Sikhala described the prison
conditions as “pathetic” and said that he was not allowed to receive food
from outside. He claimed to have survived eating bits and pieces from other
Regarding the assaults, Sikhala said he was “punched” and “kicked” by a
group of central intelligence agents, while he was in handcuffs. And on
another occasion he was driven in a maroon Mercedes to a different location
where officers from the CID division assaulted him further.
Sikhala said he got a “warned and cautioned statement” when he was taken to
court Wednesday. The outspoken politician said he wanted the UN Human Rights
Commission, currently meeting in Geneva, to hear of his painful ordeal,
“courtesy of the Mugabe regime”.
The police and ZANU PF thugs have been conducting a brutal campaign and
crackdown against political activists and MDC officials and supporters,
which has been condemned by the international community and civic groups in
Zimbabwe. At least 71 political detainees are currently in custody.
Two weeks ago police in Nyanga North arrested MDC MP Douglas Mwonzora and 23
villagers aligned to his party, on charges relating to public violence.
Although all 24 were granted bail, the Mugabe regime invoked controversial
legislation to suspend the bail order and the group remain behind bars.
Also in detention is the secretary general of the International Socialist
Organization, Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 activists, who were arrested on the
19th February, for watching video footage of protests in the Middle East and
Gwisai and other alleged ringleaders have been tortured and denied medical
treatment, including anti-retrovirals needed by some in the group. The
police have defied a court order allowing them to see their own doctors.
Gwisai and the 45 activists will remain in jail until next week as their
bail judgement was delayed on Wedneday, after prosecutors said they needed
more time to study treason laws that had been quoted by defense lawyers.
Some critics have said the arrests are part of a wider campaign to destroy
the MDC ahead of elections. Others have related the crackdown to the ongoing
protests that have toppled dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, saying ZANU PF is
paranoid and attempting to block any similar unrest in Zimbabwe.
By Lance Guma
03 March 2011
Police chief Augustine Chihuri finally showed up for a hearing before the
Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Home Affairs and shocked everyone by
launching into a super-charged tirade that blamed the MDC for directing the
The police commissioner, a blue-eyed boy of the regime, was initially
expected to appear before the committee on Monday but postponed it to
Wednesday as he was meeting with Mugabe. On Wednesday he requested a further
postponement so he could attend the launch of ZANU PF’s so-called
On Thursday he finally showed up, only to blame Deputy Prime Minister
Thokozani Khupe, co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone, Deputy Youth
Minister Tongai Matutu and MDC-T MPs Douglas Mwonzora, Paul Madzore and
Rogers Tazviona, for leading the violence seen around the country this year.
Wagging his finger Chihuri ranted; “It’s wrong for you to call me before
your committee. You, the politicians of MDC are causing all the trouble we
are having. The political party you are leading is causing problems to the
public. The police are only reacting to the crimes that you would have
committed and it is wrong for you to accuse us of siding with one political
Mwonzora and Tazviona, two of the MP’s named by Chihuri, remain locked up in
remand prison on trumped-up public violence charges. Chihuri found it
convenient to finger them as the perpetrators of the violence, even though
all the victims of the violence have been MDC-T supporters and officials.
The chair of the committee, Paul Madzore, had to intervene reminding Chihuri
that the MDC-T were the victims.
A furious Theresa Makone told SW Radio Africa that if Chihuri had indeed
said what was being reported then he was “not well and needs medical
treatment.” She challenged the committee to summon the police chief back to
another hearing, where she would also be present.
Some of the violent chaos seen in Harare recently saw police officers loaded
in vans escorting rampaging ZANU PF youths, who were targeting perceived
MDC-T supporters. SW Radio Africa reported how some of the youths are
receiving 3 months military training at the Inkomo Army barracks outside
Harare before being deployed to attack MDC-T supporters.
By Lance Guma
03 March 2011
His ZANU PF party and spokesman might not publicly admit it, but Robert
Mugabe’s health problems are mounting. Reports suggest the 87 year old flew
back to Asia on Thursday, a third time in 3 months, to seek medical
The official line is that Mugabe first went to Singapore in January to have
an operation on an eye cataract. A follow up trip in February was said to
have been a review of the same problem. But as he goes back to the same
destination for treatment it seems he has a much more serious problem than
is being admitted.
Desperate to dispel speculation that he was no longer medically fit to run
the country Mugabe tried to put on a show of good health at his 87th
birthday celebrations on Saturday. He told those gathered that although his
body was ‘spent’ he still had the political ideas of a young man.
The few viewers who still bother to watch the stale ZBC TV news saw that his
body was indeed spent, as he struggled to go up the stairs on a visit to the
Chiadzwa diamond fields. On Wednesday during the so-called anti-sanctions
demonstration he spent most of the time leaning on the podium. There would
be even fewer who thought his rants about seizing companies would indicate
the political ideas of a young man.
Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said his boss left for Singapore Thursday
for another eye check-up following a cataract operation previously done
there. "He is going for his final check-up. As you know, after a cataract
operation, there is a period of two weeks to check up. He is using a
commercial flight,” he said.
ZANU PF has not taken speculation over Mugabe’s health lightly and has been
determined to dispel any suggestion his health is affecting government
business. Responding to initial reports he had gone to Malaysia for an
operation for prostate cancer, Mugabe in January said these were ‘naked lies’.
But officials in government have confirmed that Mugabe’s mounting health
problems have limited the number of times cabinet has met to discuss
important national issues. It was reported in the middle of February that
the executive arm of government had only met for just two hours in two
months. It was also suggested the last full cabinet meeting at that time had
been on the 14th December last year.
By Staff Writer
Thursday, 03 March 2011 18:46
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s rushed trip to Singapore on Thursday for
treatment will blow thousands of dollars at a time when the economy is on
The money will cover Mugabe’s bills while in Singapore and allowances for
him and his entourage which usually accompanies the octogenarian leader on
his foreign trips. Insiders in the banking sector told the Daily News that
“a few” millions to cater for Mugabe’s trip had been withdrawn.
According to national budget figures, Mugabe spends tens of millions of
United States dollars on his regular visits outside the country every year
but finer details of his allowances and spending culture are a closely
guarded secret. The latest trip comes two weeks after Mugabe returned from
another medical review in Singapore.
As revealed by Daily News on Wednesday, George Charamba confirmed in the
international media that his boss had gone for “his final check up.”
“He is going for his final check-up. As you know, after a cataract
operation, there is a period of two weeks to check up. He is using a
commercial flight,” Charamba told AFP.
Mugabe quietly slipped out of the country and is expected back on Sunday.
While Charamba has publicly said that Mugabe’s health problems are a result
of the cataract operation, government insiders, local and international
media have insisted that the veteran leader is suffering from prostate
cancer which is giving him serious problems.
“It’s clear that the old man is in pain, and as you have already observed,
he has been overworked. When he came back from Singapore less than two weeks
ago, he attended lengthy meetings in government, with Zanu PF officials and
his security people.
“After that, he travelled to the Chiadzwa diamonds fields where he spent
time there and was clearly struggling to climb up the stairs. He also had to
address the anti-sanctions rally and before that he attended the football
match between Dynamos and CAPS just after spending hours at his birthday
“It is clear that the old man is being overworked but in Zanu PF they have
to do that because there is no other face of the party except him. People
still want to use and manipulate the old man but he is getting tired. Look
at the way he is now leaning by the podium when speaking, look at how his
speeches are slowing down and look at his body language,” observed one
senior government official.
Mugabe admitted at his birthday celebrations that his body feels spent but
he still had a young mind.
The Zimbabwean leader has of late been issuing contradictory statements in
the media giving rise to speculation that his health problems are
In less than four months, Mugabe has flip-flopped on elections — at times
claiming that he will unilaterally declare elections, but after the
sanctions rally on Wednesday he changed his stance and admitted that he has
no power to call for elections.
HARARE, 3 March 2011 (IRIN) - Thousands of Zimbabweans attended a rally
organized by President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party on 3 March in
the capital, Harare, to mark the launch of an anti-sanctions campaign.
The aim is to collect at least two million signatures on a petition against
the sanctions, which Mugabe has blamed for the country's dire economic
situation and prolonged food insecurity.
Targeted sanctions imposed in 2001 and 2002 by the United States and the
European Union (EU) banned travel and froze the bank accounts of individuals
and companies linked to Mugabe and his party.
International financial institutions, including the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, have also restricted financial assistance to
The United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee has noted that "a
great number of States and humanitarian organizations have expressed
concerns at the possible adverse impact of sanctions on the most vulnerable
segments of the population" and recommended that sanctions are "targeted at
The EU has described the measures as targeting solely those judged
responsible for violations of human rights and preventing the holding of
free and fair elections. The sanctions were recently extended because of a
lack of progress in democratic reforms despite a power-sharing agreement
between ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
which has been in effect since 2009.
Most commentators blame Mugabe's controversial policies, including the
fast-track land reform programme, for the steep economic decline over the
last 10 years and the hardship many Zimbabweans have suffered, but some
argue that the sanctions have also played a role.
Brian Tengwa, 44, from Harare, believes he was retrenched from his job at a
car assembly company in 2005 as a result of the sanctions. "We were told
that the company was failing to import necessary parts for the assembling of
cars because it was linked to influential people in ZANU-PF," he told IRIN.
"Even though I had worked for the company for almost 15 years, the money
that I got was not enough to buy a plough to take to my rural home."
Tengwa and his family now live in a backyard shack in Mabvuku, a township
east of the city. He has lost hope of finding another job "unless the
government does the right thing in order for the sanctions to be removed"
and in the meantime struggles to make ends meet by tending other people's
"Many problems that Zimbabweans have suffered and still experience are
direct and indirect offshoots of the sanctions," said Innocent Makwiramiti,
a Harare-based economist and former chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC).
He noted that restrictions on the operations of some local businesses and
the withholding of financial aid had contributed to the collapse of
Zimbabwe's economy after 2001, which was followed by a collapse in social
services and severe food insecurity.
Abertina Mutsago, a vegetable vendor in a low-income suburb of Chitungwiza,
a satellite town about 35km south of Harare, lost two children in a cholera
outbreak in 2008 linked to a lack of government funds to maintain sewage
systems and health facilities.
"Mugabe and his colleagues in ZANU-PF should take all the blame and stop
blaming others for the problems that we are having today," she told IRIN.
"The sanctions have caused untold suffering, but these politicians should
see what they can do to have them removed [by meeting the conditions]
without bothering us."
Mutsago said government militias had forced her onto a bus that took her to
the rally on Wednesday, where she was told to sign the anti-sanctions
Truckloads of militias escorted by army and police trucks descended on
market stalls in the city and forced vendors to stop doing business. Some
alleged they were beaten and ordered onto buses that transported them to the
David Chimhini, former president of the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust and a
member of parliament, worried that the anti-sanctions campaign would lead to
further politically motivated violence.
In recent weeks, there have been increasing reports of political violence
following a call by Mugabe to hold national elections in 2011.
On 19 February, 46 union leaders, students and human rights activists were
arrested for attending a meeting to discuss the uprisings in Egypt and
Tunisia. They have since been charged with treason, which can carry a life
sentence or the death penalty.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
03 March 2011, 16:10 CET
(LONDON) - Britain condemned as "irresponsible" Thursday a threat by
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to boycott Western products and seize
companies from countries that have imposed sanctions against him.
At a rally on Wednesday, Mugabe condemned the presence of more than 400
British firms in Zimbabwe while London was involved in EU sanctions against
him and his allies, and said: "We must take over."
"This action is irresponsible," a Foreign Office spokesman said.
"It will damage Zimbabwean livelihoods and deter much needed foreign
investment at a time when the Zimbabwean economy is starting to recover from
the disastrous effects of Mugabe's earlier economic policy."
He said Zimbabwe's finance minister and "many others" in the government and
business community there "share our concern about the effect such statements
will have in deterring the investment needed to allow the country to
The spokesman said Britain would "do what we can" to support British firms
that may be forced to sign up to an anti-sanctions campaign as a way of
The US and EU sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and
members of his inner circle, who are accused of seriously undermining
democracy, respect to human rights abuses and the rule of law.
Mugabe has long had a tense relationship with former colonial ruler Britain.
Written by Vusimuzi Bhebhe
Thursday, 03 March 2011 16:52
HARARE – US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, has poured cold water on
Zanu (PF)’s anti-sanctions petition, describing the move as a desperate
“political messaging campaign” unlikely to be taken seriously by both
Zimbabweans and outsiders.
In an open letter to the state-owned Herald daily over full-page colour
anti-sanctions adverts placed by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party
but which the paper passed off as Government of Zimbabwe announcements, Ray
said the recently launched petition was discredited because it does not
represent the aspirations of all Zimbabweans, most
of whom desperately want to see political change.
“Petitions are great things. On any given day, thousands of petitions are
circulating in the US. But a petition becomes a wretched thing when only
one section of the population is allowed the right to express its views
publicly, while others seeking the right to assemble, petition, and
demonstrate are arrested and tortured,” Ray noted.
Mugabe last Wednesday launched a petition calling for the lifting of a raft
of Western visa restrictions and asset freezes imposed on himself and more
than 100 senior Zanu (PF) officials. The party is seeking two million
signatures and has threatened to seize foreign companies from countries that
have imposed a travel and financial restrictions on Mugabe and his inner
Thousands of people, mainly brought from outside the capital and Harare,
were forced to attend the campaign ceremony yesterday. Ray accused The
Herald and the rest of the state media of misleading the nation by claiming
that the anti-sanctions campaign was a government project.
“Zanu (PF) is a political party, which does not speak for the Government of
this great country. Additionally, Zanu (PF), which is part of the
Government, has its own symbol that is quite distinct from the Zimbabwean
coat of arms,” the ambassador. Mugabe’s partner in the coalition government,
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, boycotted the launch ceremony on
Wednesday, arguing that it had been promoted as a Zanu (PF) event.
Zanu (PF) is hoping to use the petition to lobby the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and the African Union to push for the removal
of the targeted measures. Ray insisted that the restrictive US measures are
aimed at less than 120 Zimbabwean officials and are not hurting the rest of
“They may not travel to the US or do business with US companies because
Americans do not want them to enjoy the fruits of their corruption on our
soil. This does not hurt other Zimbabweans,” he said, adding “What hurts
the rest of the country is the corruption, mismanagement, and lack of social
investment that has brought development to a standstill.” Ray commended as
US President Barak Obama extended by another year American sanctions against
Mugabe and his cronies.
Harare, March 03, 2011 - The Affirmative Action Group (AAG), has targeted
five firms including commercial banks which are foreign owned and are
operating in Zimbabwe, showing their solidarity with 87-year-old President
President Mugabe on Wednesday launched an anti-sanctions campaign at a rally
in Harare on Wednesday. He has in the past threatened to take over any
business enterprise that do not adhere to the country's indigenisation
regulations forcing foreigners to cede their earnings to local who are
supposed to have at least 51 percent ownership in the firms.
At the fired-up rally organised by Zanu (PF) youths to sign a petition
calling for the removal of sanctions, the AAG held huge posters with the
names of the targeted companies written in black print.
The list was titled "Hit List" which was written in red. Red normally stands
The companies that are supposed to be targeted include the South
African-based insurance firm, Old Mutual Limited (Old Mutual), BHP Biliton
(Private) Limited (BHP), Rio Tinto Limited (Rio), the mining giant,
commercial banks, Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe Limited (Stanchart) which
is controlled from London in the United Kingdom, and Barclays Bank Zimbabwe
Limited (Barclays), also controlled from London.
Old Mutual Limited has a market capitalisation of US$94 964 645.94 on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE). Its share price currently stands at US$1.63.
BHP Billiton Limited is not listed on the ZSE, while Rio Zim has a market
capitalisation of US$58 417 261.50 and a share price of US$2.02 on the
bourse right now.
Standard Chartered Bank (Stanchart) is not listed on the ZSE, but the other
targeted bank, Barclays has a market capitalisation of US$175 435 284.34 and
a share price of US$7.50.
Stanchart is currently led by Washington Matsaire while Barclays Bank is led
by George Guvamatanda.
Chairperson of the Anti-Sanctions Campaign and Petition, Vice President John
Nkomo, said all parties in the inclusive government had agreed in the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) that sanctions should be removed.
He said the campaign was a process and that there was "no limited number of
signatures to be gathered".
The former ruling party Zanu (PF)'s Information Department outlined 10
reasons why Zimbabweans should sign the petition.
"Sanctions are an attack on our economy, our jobs, our search for total
empowerment and they are an attack on our business, on workers and on
consumers," they said in a statement.
"Sanctions are an attack on our land and our land rights. They aim to create
conditions for the reversal of land reforms."
However in an exclusive interview, prominent economist, John Robertson,
said: "Sanctions is just an excuse by Zanu (PF) for what they did to the
economy which they have messed up."
"They (Zanu PF) are now using sanctions as an excuse to try and shift blame
for what they have been doing since Independence in 1980 when they took over
farms and put the economy in the mess that it is in right now.
"I sincerely believe the sanctions issue is just being used to try and shift
A journalist who refused to be named said: "We had sanctions during the days
on Ian Smith and so there is nothing really new about sanctions. In fact
sanctions made Rhodesia stronger because we were able to do things on our
During the days of Rhodesia, under Prime Minister, Ian Smith, the country
had a very vibrant economy which could export such items as tobacco, it even
had its own motor vehicle, The Prefect.
Rhodesia actually exported more tobacco than any other country excluding
Brazil and China during its days of glory.
By Reagan Mashavave, Staff Writer
Thursday, 03 March 2011 19:04
HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday said Cabinet will
discuss the “sanctions” issue that has raised tensions in the inclusive
Tsvangirai said Cabinet has already tabled the sanctions issue for
The PM’s statement comes a day after President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF
party stalwarts launched the “anti-sanctions” campaign in Harare in a drive
aimed at forcing the EU and the US to lift the targeted sanctions against
“We have agreed as Cabinet that we need a special session on this, because I
think it is unhealthy for me when we have agreed that the issue of
sanctions is a priority in the GPA....since we have agreed, we have to
tackle this as a priority in the government work programme,” Tsvangirai
“Let’s have one position and one voice not two voices on that and let’s
avoid apportioning blame, because the moment you do that, people will also
have their reasons to be defensive and the more we move away from that, he
more we can tackle this together as a government.”
Tsvangirai told ministers, deputy ministers and senior government officials
who attended the 2011 government work programme that they must resist
“unwarranted policy reversals and inconsistencies”.
He said the country must focus on attracting Foreign Direct Investment
(FDI), which he says has not been forthcoming due to “negative political
discourse and sentiment” mainly due to the non implementation of the GPA.
The PM expressed concern on the missing US$300 million diamond money that
has not been accounted for.
He said: “I am therefore naturally disturbed by the on-going saga regarding
the whereabouts of the proceeds from our Chiadzwa diamonds. Anyone clean on
this matter should welcome an audit that unpacks the mystery as the citizens
cannot continue to wait while their leaders are bickering over process
Tsvangirai said the 2011 government work programme rests on “monitoring and
evaluation” frameworks in all ministries adding that ministers will be
required to write quarterly reports to him for evaluation.
Five key objectives for 2011 are promoting economic growth and ensuring food
security, guarantee basic services, strengthen and ensure the rule of law
and respect for property rights, advance and safeguard basic freedoms
through legislative reform and constitutional process and re-establish
international relations, Tsvangirai said.
Seems like Zimbabweans are starting to find their courage.
A colleague who went along to the staged anti-sanctions petition rally in
Harare yesterday said that he, alongs with hundreds of other Zimbabweans,
walked out on Mugabe whilst he was mid-speech.
Here’s an excerpt from an email received today:
Today, however gave a clear indication of how people at present respond
to the demand to attend a rally, but are not prepared to remain or listen to
the main speaker. Of note, many police officers left the area before and
during the President’s speech and one police officer was laughing with the
crowd as they left the demarcated area (cordoned off with a single piece of
plastic cordon tape).
The police and army are some of the largest employers in Zimbabwe. The
regime better make sure they can settle their wage bill come the end of each
This entry was posted on March 3rd, 2011 at 5:47 pm by Bev Clark
Written by Lionel Saungweme
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 10:46
HARARE - Three MDC-T youths were remanded on bail until March 10, for
allegedly possessing a cartoon of President Robert Mugabe and Reserve Bank
Governor, Gideon Gono. Gift Mlalazi, Mpumulelo Donga and Kevin Ncube have
been charged with contravening Section 33 (2)(a)(ii) of the Criminal Law
Codification Act, Cap 9.23 “Causing Hatred, Contempt or Ridicule of the
President.” The accused are represented by Lizwe Mlalazi of the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
The state did not oppose the defence’s bail application, which was granted
on three conditions. Bail was set at $50 for each one of the accused.
Besides having to report to Nkulumane Police Station every Friday between 6
am to 6pm, the youths were ordered to reside at their respective addresses
until their case is finalized.
At trial, the court will hear that on February 20 one of the accused
allegedly picked up the cartoon on the street and showed it to his friends.
While they were laughing at it, the accused were apprehended by police and
led to the stocks. However, ZLHR lawyer, Lizwe Jamela, argues that, “Picking
up the caricature on the tarred road does not constitute an offence.”
HARARE, MARCH 3, 2011 - South Africa has warned that anyone calling for
fresh elections before a new constitution in Zimbabwe will be violating the
Global Political Agreement (GPA), in a thinly veiled rebuke of President
Mugabe has been threatening to call for early elections with or without a
new constitution saying his coalition partners are deliberately stalling the
process to delay the process.
But South Africa’s deputy minister of International Relations and
International Cooperation, Marius Fransman indicated in a statement that
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) did not expect elections
anytime soon in Zimbabwe.
South African President Jacob Zuma was appointed by SADC to mediate in the
Zimbabwe crisis and one of his key mandates is crafting a road map for free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
“The South African position and that of SADC is to ensure that the next
elections as envisaged in the GPA are held under a new constitution that
would have been the product of the constitution making process supported by
the Zimbabwean electorate through a referendum,” Fransman said in a
statement to journalists.
“In this regard, any calls for elections without the finalisation of the
constitution making process are in breach of the GPA as well as the
constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment no 19, which gives legitimacy to the
The minister said Zuma’s facilitation team, which was in the country last
week, was assisting the three parties in the inclusive government to draft a
roadmap to elections.
He said the roadmap should include the full implementation of the GPA, the
functioning of the three important commissions namely the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC), Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Human Rights Commission.
Mugabe has in the past insisted that Zanu PF has met part of its bargain in
the implementation of the GPA.
But Fransman indicated that South Africa still considered the controversial
appointments of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and attorney general
Johannes Tomana to be outstanding issues.
Fransman said MDC-T treasurer general Roy Bennett must also be appointed
deputy agriculture minister.
He said ZEC chairman Simpson Mtambanengwe had told Zuma’s facilitation team
that the commission had started the process of cleaning the voters roll.
A referendum on the new constitution would be held later this year, Fransman
The South African minister also noted that the political environment in
Zimbabwe remained very polarised.
He was at the Harare Magistrates Court attending a hearing on treason
charges brought against socialist Munyaradzi Gwisai when plain-clothes
police officers served him with the summons
Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 02 March 2011
Fourteen of 21 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise arrested Sunday and Monday
for allegedly meeting to “promote public violence” were released Tuesday
evening without being charged
What many observers are calling an ongoing crackdown by Zimbabwean
authorities loyal to President Robert Mugabe, police issued a summons to
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, to
appear in court on March 16.
Madhuku is accused of holding an illegal rally in 2004. He was at the Harare
Magistrates Court attending a hearing on treason charges brought against
socialist Munyaradzi Gwisai when plain-clothes police officers served him
with the summons.
Madhuku told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the government’s tactics will
not silence him or his organization from speaking out against bad
The National Constitutional Assembly has long demanded a "people-driven"
constitution for Zimbabwe, but is campaigning for a "No" vote in the
referendum expected to be held later this year once a draft revised
constitution has been produced. The group says the revision process,
directed by a parliamentary committee, is fatally flawed.
In Bulawayo, meanwhile, Bulawayo Central Member of Parliament Dorcas Sibanda
of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and five others were detained on Tuesday by police for over five
hours on allegations they supported protests unsuccessfully called for on a
Fourteen of 21 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise arrested Sunday and Monday
for allegedly meeting to “promote public violence” were released Tuesday
evening without being charged. The other seven were released Wednesday on
US$50 bail each.
The seven were expected to appear in court on March 16, sources said.
Written by MDC Information & Publicity Department
Thursday, 03 March 2011 07:14
Bulawayo is critically running short of food shortages after Zanu PF
elements moving in trucks are going around the city confiscating imported
food stuffs. The most looted item is maize meal which has since run out of
stock as there is no local maize meal product available in the city.
Supermarket owners who visited the MDC Bulawayo provincial offices say the
Zanu PF supporters are looting any food product especially mealie meal that
was not locally produced and loading it into their trucks.
In Manicaland province, Mafuritse village, in Buhera Central district, 34
families have been displaced while six MDC members need urgent medical
attention after they were assaulted and displaced by Zanu PF thugs. The Zanu
PF thugs have been going house to house in search of MDC supporters and
attacking them. The Zanu PF youths are allegedly following orders from Army
Colonel Mzilikazi and Buhera Central losing parliamentary candidate in the
2008 election, Joseph Chinotimba.
Lydia Nyambaya, the Ward 22 chairlady in Musikavanhu district, Manicaland,
who was arrested on Monday on trumped – up charges of undermining the
authority of the President, was today made to pay a fine of US$20 at
Chipinge Police Station.
For more on these and other stories, visit; www.realchangetimes.com. The MDC
Today - Issue 159
Written by Mxolisi Ncube
Thursday, 03 March 2011 17:41
JOHANNESBURG – An international human rights watchdog will this coming week
release a report on the state of most victims of Zimbabwe’s political
violence, which has spanned the last decade and is said to have returned in
some parts of the country.
Human Rights Watch will on Tuesday morning launch a new report tilted,
“Perpetual Fear: Impunity and Cycles of Violence in Zimbabwe”, which will be
presented by Tiseke Kasambala, the organisation’s senior researcher and
The international human rights watchdog, which, like several other
pro-democracy institutions, has been very critical of Mugabe and his
heavy-handed rule in Zimbabwe, which has been punctuated by violence and
killings, said in a statement that nothing has changed in Zimbabwe since the
formation of the coalition government between Mugabe and the two MDC
“Two years since the formation of a power-sharing government, which was
meant to end human rights violations and restore the rule of law,
politically motivated violence and the lack of accountability for abuses
remain serious problems in Zimbabwe,” read the HRW statement.
“Human Rights Watch’s new report examines the impunity that prevails in
Zimbabwe by providing illustrative cases of political killings, torture, and
abductions by alleged government security forces and their allies.”
The report details most abuses that took place during and after the botched
presidential election run-off of 2008, which followed Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s
defeat in the March 29 polls by mainstream MDC leader – Morgan Tsvangirai
and his party.
In a bid to punish the electorate and force them vote him in what was
supposed to be a subsequent run-off, Mugabe deployed soldiers, the police,
war veterans and youth militias in most rural areas, where they unleashed a
gory campaign of retribution, during which an estimated 500 civilians
perceived to be MDC supporters were killed, while thousands others were
The unity government, according to HRW, has failed to give closure to the
victims, while perpetrators continue to roam free and commit more crimes
ahead of forthcoming elections, likely to be held later this or early next
“There has been little or no accountability for these crimes. Cases of
political violence that have been filed by victims or their relatives have
largely gone ignored by the police or have stalled in the courts. The
prospect of new elections in the coming year raises the specter of continued
abuses without any form of justice.”
Since assuming power in 1980, President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party
have unleashed an orgy of violence to quash the opposition and voices of
dissent in the country, a method that became widespread all over the country
since the formation of the MDC in 1999.
Thousands of perceived MDC supporters have been killed during the last
decade, while tens of thousands others have been displaced both internally
and externally, as they flee the state-sponsored violence, which has mostly
been unleashed on the electorate by state security agents and paramilitary
Despite the formation of a national unity government, which put in place the
Ministry of reconciliation, there has been no compensation for victims of
political violence, some of which dates back to the early 1980s, as the
culture of impunity continues.
Written by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Thursday, 03 March 2011 07:37
Following the unlawful arrests of two members of Parliament and 61
pro-democracy activists and the attacks against civilians by members of the
former ruling ZANU PF party in Harare suburbs of Mbare and Budiriro with the
apparent acquiescence of the State, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition contends
that the inclusive government of Zimbabwe has re-introduced a State of
emergency which should be suspended forthwith. The state of emergency is
further confirmed by heavy presence of armed police on the streets.
The arrest and continued incarceration of Nyanga North MP Douglas Mwonzora
and six villagers for allegedly inciting violence and 14 Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA) activists, the continued incarceration of former Highfields MP
Munyaradzi Gwisai, human rights activist, Hopewell Gumbo and 45 others for
allegedly attempting to overthrow the Inclusive Government as well as a
report that the Member of Parliament for Zhombe, Roger Tazviona, is
languishing since Monday 21 February in a Kwekwe prison for unspecified
reasons indicate that Zimbabwe is in a state of emergency where civil and
political liberties of the opponents of ZANU PF are violated with impunity.
When accused people are denied an opportunity to access to their lawyers,
receive medical attention and appear before a court of law within statutory
requirements then there is no plausible reason to suggest that there is no
state of emergency in the country.
This spate of arrests of pro-democracy forces and the deployment of armed
forces in Harare’s high density suburbs over the weekend serves as a
reminder to The Coalition of events that followed President Robert Mugabe’s
defeat in the first round of the presidential elections in March 2008 and
the violent June 27 poll where the country witnessed gross violations of
human rights that can only be witnessed when the constitution is suspended.
Although there is no statutory communication declaring a state of emergency
in Zimbabwe, events on the ground as they relate to the general suspension
of citizens’ civil and political liberties point to a situation where a de
facto state of emergency exists in the country. The use of colonial style,
repressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the
Criminal Law and Codification Act (particularly Section 121) points to a
government which has suspended its citizens’ fundamental freedoms.
What is worrying to The Coalition is that unlike in 2008, the two formations
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are now part of the same
oppressive system. They sit idly while their supporters, legislators and
pro-democracy activists face trumped up charges and remain in detention
The arbitrary arrests of pro-democracy activists and events on the ground
clearly show that the Constitution of Zimbabwe has been suspended in order
to deal with political dissent as ZANU PF prepares a violent electoral
political onslaught against its opponents.
By Alex Bell
03 March 2011
Protest action in support of 45 activists, detained in Zimbabwe for watching
footage of the Egypt and Tunisia revolutions, has spread as far as the
United States and Canada.
Pickets calling for the release of the 45, including Munyaradzi Gwisai, got
underway in New York and in Ottawa this week. The protest actions followed
similar solidarity demonstrations in London, where demonstrators outside the
Zimbabwean Embassy ‘hanged’ Robert Mugabe on Tuesday. At the same time in
Cape Town, about 60 people gathered outside South Africa’s parliament,
calling on the government there to take action in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, dozens of people in Johannesburg on Wednesday marched to the
Gauteng Legislature, to protest against the arrest of the 45 activists. The
demonstrators were made up of various local civic society groups who oppose
Robert Mugabe’s rule.
The protesters handed over a memorandum to provincial politicians, urging
them to add their voices to calls for the release of the activists. The
trade union activists who organised the demonstration said in a statement
that “the Zimbabwean government has to be spoken to loudly about its
frequent and constant return to repression and intimidation.”
“Our government needs to get straight to the point and criticise the naked
abuse of state power, and the human rights violations taking place daily in
Zimbabwe by Mugabe,” the organisers said.
Written by MDC Information & Publicity Department
Thursday, 03 March 2011 16:00
In Chitungwiza province, Munyaradzi Shoko, 27, the son to Chitungwiza South
MP, Hon. Misheck Shoko was last night assaulted by six men some in army
uniform in Unit G, Chitungwiza. A medical report, found Munyaradzi to be
suffering from multiple head bruises, a “left eye haemorrhage, and swollen
The six who were driving a white pick up truck descended at Hon. Shoko’s
house around midnight. They asked Munyaradzi who is a university student
why he had not attended the Zanu PF restrictive measures event held in
Harare yesterday. Munyaradzi received treatment at Chitungwiza General
Hospital and made a report at Makoni Police Station. The police confirmed
that there were soldiers based at the police station but it was irregular
for them not to move in the suburb without a uniformed police officer.
Meanwhile the MDC has dismissed, as false, the latest threats by Zanu PF
indicating that the inclusive government plans to nationalize foreign
businesses and hand them over to a minority section of Zimbabweans. For the
record, it is not government policy to forcibly seize foreign owned
businesses under the guise of indigenization.
At a party marking his 87th birthday, Robert Mugabe said the government
would target South African backed platinum giant, Zimplats, and the Swiss
milk processor, Nestle, for nationalization because, in his view, they were
looting the nation’s prime resources. The MDC finds Mugabe’s statements
confused and contradictory. Recently when he opened the “One Stop Shop” at
the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, he appealed for increased foreign direct
investment. Today, he has shifted his position calling for the wholesale
takeover of existing business entities.
We in the MDC are for the creation of an enabling environment for greater
investment, respect for private business initiatives, encouraging
Zimbabweans to lawfully expand the economic cake, rather than shrink it
further by plundering the few existing companies struggling to take off
after years of politically induced economic stagnation, hyperinflation,
economic mismanagement and endemic corruption.
For more on these and other stories, visit; www.realchangetimes.com
Together, united, winning, voting for real change!!
The MDC Today - Issue 160
By Tichaona Sibanda
3 March 2011
The race for the MDC-T provincial leadership is heating up in the UK as
aspiring candidates jockey for positions at the external assembly’s
elections next week Saturday.
SW Radio Africa is reliably informed the interim chairman of the UK,
Tonderai Samanyanga, will face stiff competition in the assembly’s
leadership race. The elections are to be overseen by national party
chairman, Lovemore Moyo in Leeds.
Samanyanga’s challengers are Emily Madamombe, the former deputy chief
representative to the UK, and Elliot Pfebve, the losing candidate in the
last assembly elections won by Jonathan Chawora in February, 2008.
The new executive is expected to replace the interim team appointed to run
the party in 2010, after the provincial executive led by Chawora was
suspended for financial irregularities. Previous executives have been
disbanded due to infighting.
The UK external assembly has been a hotbed of factional fights that have
taken their toll, as evidenced by an exodus of members and voters. Jeff
Sango the organising secretary told us on Thursday that the interim
executive will meet this weekend to decide on the nominations procedure.
The process of nominating potential leaders is expected to open next week
Monday, in preparation for an elective conference, where those vying for the
top posts have vowed to change the image of the UK assembly.
Already there is a battle for the control of the UK assembly, with at least
three groups emerging in the build-up to next week’s elections. Contending
factions have in the last two weeks distributed their respective lists of
leaders they want elected.
‘Vote Emily Tsungai Madamombe for a stable, united, modernised party. Her
pledge is to restore the good image of the party in the UK and promote the
MDC as international political party brand,’ read one of the fliers
distributed extensively on the internet.
The use of new media like Facebook and twitter has been extensive in the UK.
‘Vote, Tonderai Samanyanga for the UK chairman. My vision is to see a united
and progressive UK & Ireland External Assembly that is accountable to its
membership, that has respect of its structures and can contribute positively
to the building a party of excellence,’ was one message from Facebook
Another message from twitter read; ‘Vote Tau Chamboko for UK MDC Treasurer.
With Mhofu corruption is not negotiable. Corruption is corrosive to members’
confidence of the leadership and the party.’ Lobbying is taking place in all
parts of the UK as different factions try to convince party members to vote
in their candidates.
Pfebve, who is gunning for the chair, has made ‘forging unity’ his top
priority to avoid the circumstances that had before led to the disbanding of
at least three previous executives due to the infighting.
Jaison Matewu, regarded as the king maker to the faction supporting
Samanyanga, said their candidate if elected will work towards building unity
in the UK and map out a clear and focused programme that will see the MDC
romp to victory in the country’s next general elections.
Chaita thinks the MDC is taking the political violence for granted and he
wonders why they are not summoning SADC to demand a stop to ZANU PF’s
brutality, or pull out of the GNU; and Nyathi says hundreds of disabled &
visually impaired Zims who fled the country, roam the streets of Joburg
begging for money and food as they get no help from the SA govt.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network says basic foods are readily
available the Zimbabwe consumer marketplace, but limited income remains a
constraint on dietary requirements for many households
Patience Rusere | Washington DC 02 March 2011
Basic foodstuffs are readily available in Zimbabwe's consumer marketplace,
says a report by the US-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network, but
limited resources especially for households in the country's rural areas
continue to constrain access to nutrition.
FewsNet said about 1,7 million Zimbabweans, the majority of them in the
rural areas, are unable to obtain enough food despite decent harvests and
general availability. But it said that number should decline to about
600,000 as the maize harvest begins this month.
The organization, supported by the US Agency for International Development,
identified a number of areas whose inhabitants face food insecurity,
including Beitbridge, Matabeleland South province, Mudzi, Mashonaland East
province, Mberengwa, Midlands province, and Bikita, Masvingo province,
Forbes Matonga, director of Christian Care, a leading distributor of food
aid for international donors including the UN World Food Program, told VOA
Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that food production has suffered as
farmers have turned to more lucrative tobacco.
By Thelma Chikwanha, Staff Writer
Thursday, 03 March 2011 18:21
HARARE - Incarcerated former MDC Member of Parliament for Highfield,
Munyaradzi Gwisai has described the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, as a
stooge of the West and a capitalist.
The unsavoury remarks were made during the state’s outline given in court by
Edmore Nyadzamba on Tuesday.
Nyadzamba said Gwisai is alleged to have told the 44 people charged
together with him for treason, not to replace President Robert Mugabe with
prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai because he was “a stooge of the west and a
The trial, in which Gwisai and the 44 others are being charged with
treason and attempt to subvert a constitutional government, was postponed to
Monday next week.
Gwisai, who was expelled from the MDC in 2002, told the court that the
current government of Zimbabwe was an anomalous antithesis of democracy.
He said the International Socialist Organisation(ISO) that he leads in
Zimbabwe believes that socialism is better than capitalism and wants a new
constitution that will allow free and fair elections where the rulers will
have the mandate of the people.
“This is an anomaly, it is not a government based on the will of the
people,” a defiant Gwisai said.
Gwisai’s views on the MDC are in sync with those of London based
International relations professor Stephen Chan.
Chan believes that Mugabe is still central to Zimbabwe because of the MDC ‘s
failure to exert itself in government. He argues that Europe, which has
imposed targeted sanctions on Zanu PF will have no option but to do business
with Zanu PF.
“Suddenly, all of Europe needs Zimbabwe as a trading partner, as a business
partner, as an investment partner, as a customer and as a purchaser of
European goods and services. Europe, as a result, will start doing business
with Zanu PF in 2011,” Chan said
Constitutional expert Lovemore Madhuku also believes that the MDC is not
pulling in its full weight and should do more to for the rights of the
people who voted for the party.
“We cannot continue to blame Zanu PF. What are the other parties in the
government doing? We should be hearing that these issues –treason charges
and arrest of activists- are debated furiously in cabinet,” said Madhuku.
MDC spokesperson and Minister of Information Technology Nelson Chamisa told
Daily News that his party was the weaker partner in the unity government.
“We are in government as a struggle; we are the easy target in the inclusive
government and are caught in between fighting to be in government and
fighting for human rights. Action is not for the MDC alone,” Chamisa said.
Chamisa said his party, which won the majority votes in the harmonised
elections of March 2008, was not threatened by other people’s views no
matter how contrary they were.
“It has not been easy dealing with Zanu PF. It has not been easy even for
ordinary people to deal with Zanu PF,” Chamisa said.
by Business Reporter
E mail this to a friend Printable Version
MINING group RioZim expects to produce its first electricity from the
planned 2 400 MW Sengwa coal power plant by 2014, a senior official said on
The company also expects to seal a strategic partnership deal for the
$3-billion plant in May.
"We should have the first 600 MW unit on site by 2014 with the last unit
completed by 2020. Zimbabwe is desperate for power," MD Josphat Sachikonye
Zimbabwe, which relies heavily on its mining industry to prop up an economy
struggling to overcome years of decline, is battling a chronic power
shortage which has curbed output.
The national power utility, ZSEA, has resorted to rationing supplies to both
domestic and commercial users with some major companies such as Zimplats
opting to import directly from the region to ensure production is not
Domestic power generation currently stands at around 1200MW against a
national demand of 2200 MW with efforts to plug the gap with imports stymied
by the lack of funds.
ZESA is said to owe regional suppliers up to US$140 million.
Rio Zim’s plant, which will exploit coal resources in the country’s Gokwe
area, is one of a number of projects authorities expect to help ease the
country power crisis.
(AP) – 56 minutes ago
CAIRO (AP) — Moammar Gadhafi is safe for now, holed up in the Libyan capital
surrounded by his followers and militiamen. Rebels hold a large swath of the
east and a string of towns nearer the capital. But neither side seems
capable of dislodging the other.
The fate of the oil-rich country may depend on how long Gadhafi can maintain
the loyalty of troops, mercenaries and tribes that still support him — and
on whether the West decides to take military action to end the standoff.
Nonetheless, analysts caution, it could be months before Libya is rid of its
leader of 41 years.
The prospect of a prolonged conflict in the vast and mostly desert nation
could ruin Libya — breaking it up along regional or tribal lines, destroying
its oil wealth and turn many of its six million inhabitants into refugees
and asylum seekers in neighboring countries or across the Mediterranean in
Gadhafi has given no sign to date he was willing to step down. Instead, he
has vowed to fight on till the end.
"Gadhafi is boxed in. At best, he could hope to be given asylum in Zimbabwe
or perhaps Chad," said Marina Ottaway, director of the Middle East program
in the Washington-based think tank Carnegie Endowment. "The main question is
how long he will have people willing to defend him."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week spoke of a Libya
embroiled in turmoil for a long time, saying the country "could become a
peaceful democracy or it could face protracted civil war."
Foreign intervention could tip the balance. Already, there is talk in the
West about enforcing a no-fly zone on Libya to protect rebel-held areas from
airstrikes. The United States also has moved warships closer to Libya's
Mediterranean coast. And some in the rebel-held areas say they would welcome
airstrikes by western nations against pro-Gadhafi forces.
But it could be sometime before the international community reaches a
consensus on what to do about Libya militarily. Many analysts believe the
U.S. and European nations — most likely to lead any military action — may
not have the stomach for a new front given their longtime involvement in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
Russia is likely to block the U.N. from giving its blessing to a no-fly zone
or airstrikes. U.S. Defense Minister Robert Gates this week noted that
carrying out strikes is not just a matter of protecting protesters — you
have to take out Libyan air defenses first, a riskier and more expansive
But Gadhafi's threats to fight to the end could prompt the West to intervene
sooner, said prominent defense analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
"The problem is that whenever Gadhafi escalates, the West will escalate
back," said Cordesman. "If he executes those threats, he will force the West
to become more engaged."
The deadlock was illustrated by this week's battle over the strategic oil
port of Brega, captured by the opposition late last month 460 miles (740
kilometers) east of Tripoli. A pro-Gadhafi force briefly succeeded in
retaking it in an attack Wednesday morning, but rebel forces captured it
back within hours in a fierce battle fought in part on a sandy beach.
Even when the pro-Gadhafi forces sought this week to regain control of a
rebel-held city only 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli, they failed,
driven back by residents armed with weapons looted from local storehouses
and backed by army troops siding with the uprising.
The rebels are mainly a ragtag force of volunteers, some of whom have basic
military training, joined by mutinous army troops whose own training and
discipline is poor.
One reason the conflict could drag on is the Libyan armed forces
themselves — their low professionalism, lack of manpower and tribal
rivalries among their ranks. That means neither side has a powerful enough
force to overwhelm the other.
Cordesman says the roughly 50,000-strong army is only about the third of the
size needed to operate all the equipment available to it. "The inventory is
Part of that inventory has now fallen into rebel hands as the uprising swept
over security headquarters and bases in the eastern half of the country.
Other equipment still in Gadhafi's hands lies idle with not enough
fighters — or qualified fighters — to use it.
Gadhafi deliberately weakened the army over the years, fearing that it could
overthrow his rule in a coup — the same way he came to power in 1969.
Instead he spent lavishly on arming and training militias that are fiercely
loyal to him. He also hired mercenaries from sub-Saharan African nations.
Gadhafi's air force is in no better shape than the army. But it has enough
capability to deter the rebel forces in the east from risking the long march
to Tripoli along hundreds of miles of Mediterranean coast.
On the other hand, if Gadhafi uses his air force against them, that could
bring instant punishment from the West, crippling his air capability with
airstrikes against his air bases.
In the end, Gadhafi's fate is entirely in the hands of his defenders in
Tripoli — hundreds of mercenaries and a brigade led by and named after one
of his sons, Khamis, says North Africa expert Goerge Joffe.
"As long as they remain loyal to him, he can survive," said Joffe, who
lectures at England's Cambridge University.
Money doled out to the mercenaries could eventually run out, given
international sanctions slapped on Libya, he said.
But for the mercenaries, it may not only be about money.
"We foreigners don't have much choice, we have to support Gadhafi. It is
because of him we are here," said a mercenary from neighboring Mali, who has
the rank of a sergeant in the Libyan army.
"If we could find a way of leaving the country, we would," he told The
Associated Press by phone on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
"The only way Gadhafi is going to go is if someone puts a bullet in his head
and I can't imagine that. The soldiers close to him would never let it