White youth hailed as unlikely
thorn in Mugabe's side From Jane Flanagan in Harare
middle-class teenager has emerged as an unlikely hero of the black opposition
in the Zimbabwean presidential election. Tom Spicer has been kidnapped,
tortured and stabbed by thugs loyal to Robert Mugabe. He has also spent 17
nights in jail since joining the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in
Mr Spicer, 17, who comes from one of Harare’s oldest and most
respected white families, has become the darling of the MDC’s rallies,
enthralling crowds of up to 45,000 in effortless Shona, one of Zimbabwe’s two
main African languages, which few whites command. To his black fans he is
known as Tawanda, the Shona for “We are many”, but to his rivals in the
ruling Zanu (PF), he has become an obstacle to efforts to portray whites
as arrogant racists, and a dangerous political foe.
admitted giving his parents “a few extra grey hairs” since joining the MDC,
but said he would not be intimidated into stopping campaigning against Mr
Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980.
“It isn’t great being arrested
and put in jail, but at least they let you out sooner or later. Other people
have faced worse. My darkest moments have not been in jail, but when I have
found out the good friend I was laughing with yesterday has today been beaten
to death. I have experienced that four times and no doubt will experience it
many times again,” he said, speaking outside court in Harare after his latest
Despite his close-cropped haircut — “courtesy of the prison
authorities” — and flanked by his British-born mother, Edwina, he seemed an
unlikely revolutionary. Mrs Spicer is one of the country’s best known
documentary makers, his father, Newton, is a leading environmentalist and
a fourth-generation Zimbabwean whose family’s standing in the country
is reflected in the name of a Harare street, Newton Spicer Drive.
Spicer was taught Shona by the family’s maid and her children, and even his
spoken English has a strong black African accent, the legacy of days
and nights spent talking politics with friends in the townships of
Harare. Although obviously proud of their son’s commitment, Mr and Mrs Spicer
have agonised over the risks that he is prepared to undertake in pursuit of
Last month the teenager was campaigning with other MDC
youths in a government stronghold 50 miles from Harare when their car broke
down, just as a dozen thugs chanting pro-Mugabe slogans appeared on the road.
Mr Spicer told his friends to run, choosing to face the men alone, hoping to
pass himself off as a farmer’s son. The plan failed and Mr Spicer was
dragged back to the mob’s camp, where he was bound, gagged, beaten and
stabbed in the face.
Police arrived at the camp the next day, but
rather than tackling the thugs, the officers charged Mr Spicer with
kidnapping and attempted murder and locked him up for a further six
More than 150 MDC members and supporters have been killed in the
past two years and a reward of Z$35,000 (£450) is the price on Mr Spicer’s
head in a wanted list circulated between militia supporting the
Last December Mr and Mrs Spicer forbade their son from
joining a group from the MDC’s youth wing campaigning in a by-election. “He
didn’t speak to us for three weeks after that”, Mr Spicer recalled. The next
month they took him to England and considered ripping up his return ticket to
keep him out of harm’s way, “but we knew he would find his way back somehow,
so thought it would be easier to support him instead.”
said: “As a mother it is obviously not easy, but Tom is exercising his
democratic right, not committing any crime. I feel absolutely dreadful when
he is in jail, but I am encouraged by the strength of his spirit, and we have
to stand up for our rights.”
Tendai Viti, an MDC MP and a lawyer who has
represented the teenager in court, was full of praise for his “unique”
contribution, but admitted that he had become a target for Zanu (PF)
aggression. He said: “Tawanda defies the perception Mugabe has tried to
create, that whites are all arrogant, unpatriotic, racist parasites. But he
is one of us.”
March 4 — The world may have to get used to dealing with Robert Mugabe for a
while longer even if foreign observers find flaws with this weekend's poll,
which he aims to win to extend his 22-year rule over Zimbabwe, analysts
say. ''If Mugabe wins -- you can stand there as much as you like and
say it was not free and fair -- he is going to remain in government,''
Jesmond Blumenfeld, Associate fellow of the Royal Institute for
International Affairs think-tank, told Reuters on Monday. ''If
Mugabe remains in power because of rigging the election...then the world is
going to have to find some way of dealing with him, and I don't think anybody
has the faintest idea of how to do that,'' said Blumenfeld, a southern Africa
specialist. Jonathan Stevenson, research fellow at the International
Institute for Strategic Studies, agreed. ''Mugabe's own instincts
are to stay around whatever the numerical outcome of the election. Clearly
the Commonwealth is divided and SADC (the Southern African Development
Community) is leaderless. There is a void. It is a real quandary,'' he
said. Britain, Australia and New Zealand had demanded Zimbabwe be
suspended from the Commonwealth. But their efforts were defeated by African
states who make up a third of the group. Jan van Eck, a regional
specialist at the Cape Town-based Centre for Conflict Resolution, said he
believed a face-saving compromise had been worked out with Mugabe to allow
him to retire a short time after winning the March 9-10 presidential poll
unless it was too transparently rigged. ''The sense I get is there is
a consensus in the region that Mugabe should go. The difficult bit is to make
it work. If he is forced to lose too much face he is not going to do
it.'' WHAT HAPPENS IF MDC WINS? Zimbabwe Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo made Mugabe's attitude abundantly clear during the
Commonwealth summit when he said Zimbabweans, not election observers, would
determine the election outcome. Zimbabwe's own neighbours have done
little more than call for calm, and the Commonwealth's chief weapon is
suspension, which Mugabe might even choose to flaunt. ''I can't see
comprehensive sanctions being introduced. There is no external military
solution, and it is not clear that there is a political one either,''
Blumenfeld said. ''The optimistic view is that he will win the
election and name a successor very quickly so he can step down in a few
months. But I don't think that is very likely. In that case, the only way out
is a palace coup of some kind,'' he added. Mugabe's exiled
opponents fear his winning a rigged election could trigger a popular uprising
and that if he loses he will refuse to go. By the same token, no one
seems to know quite what will happen if his main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), wins and Mugabe quietly bows
out. ``The MDC is not a government in waiting,'' Blumenfeld said.
Mugabe has benefited from friends in low places michael
gove Zimbabwe is, alas, far from the only corrupt dictatorship in modern
Criminals know that their chances of acquittal depend as
much on the court where they are tried and the jury which hears their case as
the level of their guilt. Which is why Robert Mugabe is a happy man this
morning. The President of Zimbabwe has been conspiring to steal his
country’s elections for months now. Opposition leaders have been charged with
treason, their movements interdicted by the secret police and their
supporters beaten. The elections themselves will be run by Mugabe’s henchmen
in the army, voters will be monitored in the polling booth by the
paramilitary thugs who call themselves “war veterans” and an armed coup has
been threatened should this intimidation fail to secure the desired
result. Democracy is being mugged. But the criminal has already been
acquitted by a jury which is, in every sense, made up of his
The statement on Zimbabwe produced yesterday by the Commonwealth
Heads of Government is a get out of jail free card for the Butcher of Harare.
Rather than condemn Mugabe for his state terrorism, it brackets the peaceful
and democratic opposition alongside the tyrant as equally culpable
for intimidation by calling “on all parties to refrain . . . from
Rather than focus on the outrageous dismantling of democratic
freedoms, or the Marxist-inspired impoverishment of a once-rich nation, or
the criminal adventurism of Zimbabwe’s diamond-fuelled intervention in Congo,
the statement claims that “land” is the core of the crisis in Zimbabwe. Which
is precisely Mugabe’s formulation. He claims that the real stumbling block
to progress is the refusal of wealthy farmers to have their property
forcibly nationalised and handed over to his cronies for
The Commonwealth statement is a political victory for
tyranny. But it could have been worse. For this text is a compromise. It goes
further than many Commonwealth, especially African, nations want.
should be shocked. But not surprised. For the jury which pronounced
on Zimbabwe at the Commonwealth summit was packed with serial offenders
whose crimes against democracy and human rights should put them in the
dock alongside Mugabe.
The Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, bans
all political parties and held on to power last year, against opponents given
no freedom to organise politically, in rigged elections which the Foreign
Office notes were characterised by “intimidation, misadministration,
malpractice and violence” .
His neighbour Daniel arap Moi, the Kenyan
President, has held on to power for 24 years by having soldiers fire on
opposition rallies and assassinating critics, including his former Foreign
Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon, who has been in power for
20 years, won his last election in 1997 claiming a 92.5 per cent share of the
vote in an election the Foreign Office describes as “deeply flawed”. The
United Nations has noted that Biya’s hold on power is sustained by
“extrajudicial executions, protracted detention without trial and torture of
In The Gambia, President Jammeh, who has been in power for
eight years, won his last election after denying the opposition access to the
media and intimidating its supporters. He celebrated victory by torturing
opposition figures and human rights activists.
Eyadema has jailed the opposition leader prior to elections planned for this
year. Eyadema is being considered for investigation by the UNHCR after a
spate of extra-judicial killings in the last election year, 1998, when the
army was engaged in the systematic theft of ballot boxes.
abuses are commonplace in other African Commonwealth nations, from Zambia,
where journalists were arrested before the 2001 elections, to Namibia where
President Nujoma has called for homosexuals to be “condemned and rejected”
and deployed a paramilitary unit, the Special Field Force, against opposition
Given the spectacular record of ballot-rigging, corruption,
political violence and contempt for human rights displayed by so many of
Africa’s Commonwealth leaders, it is no surprise that they declined to
condemn Mugabe yesterday. They would have been punishing one of their own for
applying the techniques they have pioneered.
What is particularly
regrettable, however, is the failure of Thabo Mbeki, the South African
President, to bear witness against Mugabe. As an old comrade from the days of
the liberation struggle he might find it hard to turn on Mugabe now. But as a
democrat, he owes it to Africa to spell out the extent to which Mugabe has
betrayed all his countrymen.
The pressure which the West can bring to
bear on Mbeki, and in turn on Mugabe, is however compromised by our own moral
myopia towards Africa. It pains me to say that British attention, and the
particular focus of conservative commentators, on Zimbabwe to the exclusion
of other African atrocities, diminishes our ethical authority. Because Mugabe
has, among his targets, the 60,000 or so whites who still live in Zimbabwe,
that nation’s plight receives disproportionate notice compared with the many
other democratic and human rights abuses, only some of which I had space to
One does not need to be Mrs Jellyby to find something
morally skewed about those who condemn crimes against democracy when our
“kith and kin” are among the victims, while maintaining a shoulder-shrugging
silence when hundreds of thousands of black Africans are beaten, broken and
butchered by their rulers. Thirty-seven years after Ian Smith’s Unilateral
Declaration of Independence for Rhodesia we now have another UDI — the
British Unique Devotion of Interest to Zimbabwe. Neither has been a service
AP - Just days before
hard-fought presidential elections, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has
unilaterally reinstated controversial election laws that had been struck down
by the Supreme Court.
Opposition lawmakers had complained the laws
disenfranchised many of their supporters and would make it easier to rig
voting in this weekend's elections.
The reinstated laws give state
election officers sweeping powers and restrict vote monitoring, identity
requirements for voters, campaigning and voter education.
decree also restores a ban on absentee voting by as many as half a million
Zimbabweans living abroad.
The Supreme Court ruled on February 27 the
election laws were improperly forced through Parliament in January after they
were initially defeated.
In a notice in the official Government Gazette,
Mugabe overruled the court order, saying the laws had been validly enacted
and "shall be deemed to have been lawfully" adopted ahead of the presidential
Mugabe's decree dealt a harsh blow to the authority of the
judiciary, already the target of threats and intimidation by the government
and by ruling party militants.
Adrian de Bourbon, an attorney for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said the decree was illegal and
"It is a total disgrace. One of the candidates has
changed the rules. That is breaking the law and is clearly designed to help
one candidate against the other," he said.
The opposition planned to
file an urgent appeal against the decree to the Supreme Court on Wednesday
"but it's a moot point that in the time left we'll get anywhere", he
The High Court, the country's second-highest court, last week
deferred new citizenship rules that had disqualified tens of thousands of
voters, including longtime labourers from neighbouring countries and many
among the country's white minority.
The government was scheduled to
appeal that ruling on Tuesday.
The court decisions had been seen as a
blow to Mugabe, 78, who is fighting for his political survival after 22 years
in office. He has led the African country since independence from Britain in
As his popularity has waned, Mugabe has imposed curbs on the
judiciary, the media and opposition parties and many of his critics have been
attacked or threatened.
The US State Department released a human
rights report on Zimbabwe on Monday that accused the government of
extrajudicial killings, undermining the independence of the courts and waging
a "systematic campaign of violence targeting supporters and potential
supporters of the opposition".
Earlier on Tuesday, state radio quoted
Mugabe as telling a rally that his party had lost ground to the opposition
through complacency, but would win the elections.
The fledgling MDC
won 57 of 120 elected seats in June 2000 parliamentary elections.
Mary Dejevsky: Give the voters in Zimbabwe their chance
'So when the polling stations close and the ballot boxes are
sealed, resist the rush to cynicism' 06 March 2002
"The people of
Zimbabwe go to the polls this weekend." To anyone who has been even
half-following developments in southern Africa, this simple statement
suggests one response: loud, hollow laughter.
The main opposition leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, has been hounded and charged with treason. Gangs of
government-sponsored thugs are roaming the countryside threatening his
suspected supporters. Journalists have been branded as terrorists, driven
into exile or gagged. And the army, having warned that it would seize power
itself if President Robert Mugabe failed to regain power, has been entrusted
with running the elections.
The Zimbabwe government's insistence that it
is entirely competent to run a democratic election looks like special
pleading of a particularly dishonest kind. So, officials in Harare know how
to run an election, we scoff; sure they do – and we all know who will win –
All this may come to pass. There are many ways to fix an
election, and even if violence and intimidation do not have the intended
effect, there is always the count. The longer the counting goes on after the
voting on Saturday and Sunday, the greater the probability that the election
has been (a) close and (b) rigged. But for those of us ensconced in safety
outside Zimbabwe to forecast the result in advance with such certainty is
to patronise and demean the voters.
The past 15 years have been
distinguished by a spread of democracy that may be without precedent. One
dictatorial regime after another has collapsed. In advance, however, the
predictions from the First World were invariably pessimistic. Few believed
that power would pass in such relative peace. When the first semi-democratic
elections were held in the former Soviet Union in the late Eighties, the
early reports of intimidation and rigging were legion. From the electoral
registers to the material inducements provided at polling stations,
everything was arranged to favour the monopoly Communist Party and its
Offered even half a choice, however, voters displayed
extraordinary determination, common sense and, yes, idealism. Before
successive elections in Russia, doom-watchers have forecast sweeping
victories for extremists, mostly from the right. But the "red-brown"
communist-fascist alliance has never come near taking power in Russia, or
anywhere else for that matter. In those eastern and central European
countries with a past tradition of democracy, the embrace of democracy was
even swifter and more comprehensive.
The enthusiasm for even inadequate
versions of democracy is hardly unique to Russia and central Europe. You have
only to recall those pictures of the first post-apartheid election in South
Africa, those hundreds of thousands of people queuing patiently to vote, to
appreciate the appeal of elections. And if a one-party system effectively
excludes choice at the top, local elections or candidate selection meetings
are often hotly and genuinely contested. China and Libya may not immediately
come to mind as paragons of democracy, but in the lower ranks of
representation not everything there is pre-ordained.
It may be true
that the less accustomed voters are to elections, the greater the respect
they accord to their vote. In 1991, when Ukrainians voted in their referendum
on independence, I watched parents and grandparents carrying their children
to the ballot-box to cast their vote, taking photographs and telling their
three-, four- or five-year-olds dressed in their Sunday best that they should
remember this day for the rest of their lives: they were deciding their
But even when elections fall short of "free and fair",
voters are still capable of defying the odds. Having reported on all manner
of elections, I have one overriding impression: amid rank dishonesty,
political blackmail and nasty, targeted violence, voters can show admirable
courage, resilience and discernment. Surrounded by a cacophony of extremism,
they can exercise a remarkable degree of moderation.
In any election
where 100 per cent of the votes have not been vetted in advance, the closure
of the polls and the sealing of the ballot boxes is a magical moment. However
much of a sham such formalities may be, from then until the announcement of
the result, there is that element of doubt, that frisson of excitement, that
is unique to elections. The uncertainty may be over in minutes – French
television builds a portrait of the new President on screen within minutes of
the polls closing – or hours. It may last for days, or, as in the United
States in 2000, it may drag on for weeks. But it is an enchanted period when
no one knows for certain what will come next.
So when the polling
stations in Zimbabwe close on Sunday night and the ballot boxes are sealed,
resist that rush to cynicism and give the country's hard-pressed voters a
chance. If repression prevails, there is time for anger. But don't write off
Zimbabweans before they have voted. They may yet surprise us.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - The political violence in
Zimbabwe and new security and election laws have made it nearly impossible
for this weekend's presidential vote to be free and fair, human rights groups
and foreign officials say.
About 150 people have been killed,
thousands tortured and at least 70,000 rendered homeless in political attacks
in the last two years, according to the Human Rights Forum, a consortium of
Zimbabwe rights groups.
The ruling party of President Robert Mugabe, the
police and the military were behind more than 90 percent of those attacks,
but attacks by opposition supporters are increasing, the forum
``The campaign of repression orchestrated by the government of
Zimbabwe has gone on for too long, and it has been too profound and too
pervasive, to allow for an untainted election,'' U.S. Assistant Secretary of
State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner told Congress last
The Human Rights Forum also said the ruling party has set up at
least 22 militia bases around Zimbabwe where militants torture supporters of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and gather for attacks
on opposition strongholds.
Opposition campaigners have complained that
much of the countryside is now off-limits to them.
The violence is so
widespread ``the no-go area is called Zimbabwe,'' said Tony Reeler of the
human rights group The Amani Trust in Zimbabwe.
When the opposition tried
to hold a rally Friday in Marondera, 45 miles east of Harare, ruling party
militants hurled burning tires at some of them and assaulted others,
opposition officials said. Police did not intervene, the opposition leaders
Police have used new security laws to ban 77 opposition rallies as
``threats to the public safety,'' opposition officials said. There have been
no reported cases of ruling party rallies being banned, even after a march
by 10,000 people ended with an attack on the opposition
Other rallies were called off when ruling party militants,
escorted by police, attacked opposition supporters.
On Monday, police
broke up a meeting between foreign diplomats and opposition presidential
candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, saying it was an illegal political gathering.
They entered the room, took Tsvangirai out and told him the session must end
Authorities last week charged Tsvangirai with treason for
allegedly plotting to have Mugabe assassinated. He denied the
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called the situation in
Zimbabwe ``an outrage in terms of democracy.'' And the European Union said
Zimbabwe's restrictive election framework ``contradicts the international
standards for free and fair elections.''
Zimbabwe's government has
denied any connection to the violence.
``Zimbabwe is a democratic state
that upholds democracy, the rule of law and human rights,'' said the
country's deputy justice minister, Munyaradzi Mangwana. ``The government is
committed to the holding of free and fair elections.''
New laws passed
by the ruling-party dominated Parliament have raised concerns about the
integrity of the election.
Recent amendments to the election law forbid
civic and religious organizations from monitoring the poll and from running
voter education campaigns.
Military officers have been appointed to
the election directorate, and only civil servants - dependent on government
jobs - will be allowed to monitor the vote.
Seals will no longer be
placed around the whole ballot box when it is moved to the counting station,
but only around the opening. Since the new law allows the ballots to be
transported in the absence of party representatives, many fear the boxes can
be disassembled in transit.
``That gives the ruling party ample
opportunity to stuff the ballot box. If that is not the case, why introduce
such a law anyway?'' asked Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, a professor at the
University of Zimbabwe.
The Supreme Court last week struck down some of
the new election laws. The government reinstated them Tuesday with a
State-run television and radio stations, the main
news source for most Zimbabweans, have given glowing coverage to Mugabe's
campaign and called Tsvangirai a terrorist, an assassin and a servant of
The government has also refused to allow some foreign
journalists, whose coverage it considers unfavorable, to cover the
Opposition party officials say they will contest the election
anyway, because the alternative is a violent revolt, which southern African
leaders fear would destabilize the entire region.
``We're simply not
prepared to go that route,'' parliamentarian David Coltart
Besides, party leaders are convinced they can achieve an
overwhelming victory that will overwhelm any attempts at foul
``We still believe that we can win this,'' Coltart said.
A mail is currently doing the rounds "Disturbing
News" telling people there will be massive attacks against MDC, whites, etc
immediately after the elections, to leave the country etc, etc - this is a
CIO-type message, OBVIOUSLY, meant to scare people and preferably send them
away for the election - so they don't vote! There are also messages telling
people various meetings and rallies have either been cancelled or else that
there will be violence ....
There will be many more such messages,
rumours and strategies - ZanuPF know they have already lost the election, but
are desperate to cling onto power nevertheless. DON'T BELIEVE ANY OF THIS
The change will be as peaceful as we can make it, and then we
can start to heal our nation - and feed it! People are more and more
determined to vote for change. There is going to be a massive turnout at the
polling stations, and it looks like being a very festive
[This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
March (IRIN) - The outcome of Zimbabwe's presidential election this coming
weekend could rest on how many people are prevented from voting, civil rights
They believe that the government's election strategy is
based on disenfranchisement of the urban areas - perceived as pro-opposition -
and control of the voting process in the rural areas, which holds the majority
of the constituencies.
"The rate of voter turnaways - that could be the
secret of (the ruling party) ZANU-PFs victory," lawyer Taiwanda Hondora told
The legal window for potential gerrymandering was introduced on
Friday by Justice Minister Patrick Chianamasa. Using emergency powers, he
reintroduced the General Law Amendment Act that was set aside by the Supreme
Court in a 4-1 ruling last week.
Among those regulations are stiff
residency qualifications linked to the right to vote. When people turn out to
cast their ballots on 9 and 10 March, in addition to their identification cards,
they will be asked to produce proof of residency such as an electricity or rates
The great majority of urban people are poor, living in "illegal
structures", and renting their accommodation. Bills are not in their names,
He added that residency could be verified by an
affidavit, "but that hasn't been made public". As a result, "a lot of people
will be disenfranchised".
A Supreme Court decision also reaffirmed that
people must vote in the constituency in which they registered. That means people
who have been displaced by political violence are expected to return to the
homes they fled to cast their ballots.
According to the Amani Trust,
which provides counselling services to people affected by political violence,
there were more than 42,000 reported cases of displacement in 2001. Other
estimates, which include the violence surrounding the 2000 legislative election,
put the figure much higher.
Ambigious "citizenship" requirements would
also remove people's right to vote if their parents were not born in Zimbabwe.
This could affect tens of thousands of farm labourers whose families originally
came from neighbouring countries and have been hard hit by land reform. An
estimated one million Zimbabweans living abroad are also to be
In the rural areas, local chiefs and headmen are expected to
vouch for a person's place of residence. But the traditional authorities are the
base of the government's influence in the countryside, political scientist Janah
Ncube told IRIN.
"Residency is proved through the chiefs, at the same
time there is the politicisation of the chiefs," said Hondora. "It is an obvious
attempt to influence the election result."
Media reports of the election
campaign have been about the political violence in Zimbabwe. Much of it has been
rural-based, and overwhelmingly committed by government supporters,
pro-democracy activists have alleged. However, according to Ncube, the violence
has been "strategic". Rather than being aimed at changing the way people intend
to vote, "it's been about intimidation, to encourage voter apathy", he said.
Brian Kagora of the Zimbabwe Crisis Group said there were many forms of
disenfranchisement. One aspect would be intimidation, preventing "sectors seen
as sympathetic to the opposition from voting", he told IRIN. But the other
approach would be the "very lawful" use of the residency and citizenship
clauses, and the draconian security law.
The Public Order and Security
Act requires that the police are notified before any meeting of more than two
people that is deemed "political" is held. What defines a political meeting is
not clearly defined.
Reginald Machaba-Hove of the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network (ZESN) explained that the legislation was not only "oppressive",
but was being misinterpreted by the police. "It says notification, not
clearance", but the police have used the new law as justification to arbitrarily
close meetings that they do not wish to see take place.
Mugabe, 78, faces his stiffest political challenge since independence in the
burly form of ex-trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai. But with just days to go to
the polls, key aspects of the electoral process remain unclear.
It is not
known for certain whether 12,000 domestic election monitors ZESN has organized
will be accredited and deployed. The government has said it has trained public
servants from the ministries of defence, home affairs and education to monitor
Few people have seen the list of the estimated 5,600 polling
stations, crucial to allow observers to effectively deploy, activists have
noted. Confusion is also likely in Harare, Chitungwiza and Gweru, where
presidential, mayoral and council elections are to take place simultaneously,
but with little voter education.
Commenting on the electoral process,
Hondora concluded: "It's legal, but not free and fair. The only way to get
around this is if people vote in overwhelming numbers."
Jon Jeter The Washington
Post Tuesday, March 5, 2002
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe The line outside the OK
grocery store near here forms at dawn, and by noon it stretches the length of
the brick building and into the street. It is not uncommon, said Albert
Mungazi, the store's manager, for customers to wait in line until dusk for
sugar, cooking oil or a bag of mealie meal, the all-purpose staple food used
in southern Africa to make porridge. . "It's been like this for four
months now," Mungazi said as he watched the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd surge
suddenly in the midday heat as a woman tried to cut into the line. "With
these food shortages, there's just not enough of the basic foods to go
around. People are starving. . "In Africa, we say that when the children
go hungry, we don't blame the mother; we blame the father because he is the
head of the household. So it stands to reason that people are blaming
President Robert Mugabe for their hunger because he is the head of state. I
don't think any level-headed person will vote for the man." . As
Zimbabwe closes in on the presidential election on Saturday and Sunday, the
most contested since independence from Britain in 1980, the central issue
that has put Mugabe's 22-year rule up for grabs is not the government's land
grab from wealthy white farmers or its two-year campaign of intimidation and
violence against opponents that has resulted in nearly 100 deaths. This
country of 12 million people is now poised to possibly vote out Mugabe
because of what is widely seen as his government's woeful mishandling of an
economy that was once as promising as any on the continent. . "People
don't have any jobs, and people don't have any food; it's as simple as that,"
said Nelson Chamisa, head of the youth league for the leading opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change, whose candidate, Morgan
Tsvangirai, threatens to unseat Mugabe. "Security is definitely an issue.
People do want to feel safe in their homes. But the most important thing that
Mugabe got wrong is the economy. People will vote their stomach if nothing
else." . Annual per capita income in Zimbabwe has declined by half
since independence. Mugabe's deployment of nearly 11,000 soldiers to
help neighboring Congo fight an unpopular civil war cost taxpayers as much as
$3 million per week, by some estimates. The government's land reform
program, begun two years ago after voters rejected a referendum to
consolidate Mugabe's power, has driven thousands of commercial farmers and
their workers from viable farms, leaving crops rotting in the field as
squatters replace them. That, combined with drought, has sent food prices
soaring. Mugabe, a Marxist who turned reluctantly to free-market economics
after the Soviet bloc collapsed, has implemented price controls, further
straining the food crisis. Rather than sell products at a loss, farmers
stopped planting price-controlled crops. With property rights threatened,
international donors and investors fled. Revenues from tourism and foreign
exchange dried up, leaving the government unable to buy enough food from
abroad. Stores have run out of basic foods, pushing prices even
higher. . The result is an economy in free fall. Nearly 60 percent of the
work force is jobless, and the annual rate of inflation is 116 percent. With
shelves empty, more than 500,000 people - mostly in the countryside - are at
risk of starvation. . With nearly a third of adults infected with the
virus that causes AIDS, state-run hospitals often run out of basic medicines
such as painkillers. Nearly 60,000 physicians and other professionals have
fled Zimbabwe since 2000. . The widespread perception is that Mugabe
and officials of his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
are looting the public treasury through sweetheart deals with contractors and
other schemes. . An economist estimated last year that corruption is so
rampant it amounts to a surtax of as much as 5 percent annually to taxpayers.
And many Zimbabweans and Western diplomats suspect that Zimbabwe's
involvement in Congo is a ruse to enable Mugabe and top military officials to
win lucrative secret concessions to sell diamonds and other minerals mined in
that country. . "People's basic needs are going unmet, and the government
doesn't seem to care about anything other than their own enrichment and
staying in power," said Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic archbishop of
Bulawayo. "There is no good reason that half a million people should be close
to starving to death in Zimbabwe right now." . Mugabe, 78, has
portrayed the Movement for Democratic Change and Tsvangirai as pawns of white
farmers, Western business interests and British imperialists intent on
subjugating Zimbabwe once again. . At a rally held here by his party,
Tsvangirai told supporters the primary focus of his government would be to
create jobs and rebuild the economy. . "At the age of 78, Mugabe still
needs six more years?" Tsvangirai said to a throng of nearly 7,000. "Do you
need six more years to destroy what little has been left?"
Zimbabwean Minister of
Information, Mr. Jonathan Moyo, on Sunday in Coolum, Australia, said that
Nigeria would bail his country out of its present difficulties with the
Answering questions from a swarm of journalists in Coolum,
venue of CHOGM 2002, Moyo said that he believe that Nigeria, along with other
friendly African countries, would not let his country down in its time of
He said that it was most unfortunate that Britain,
Australia, Canada and to some extent, New Zealand were lobbying strongly to
get his country suspended from the Commonwealth, adding that his country did
not commit any wrong to warrant a suspension.
Moyo said that it was
wrong perception of democracy for Britain and other European members of the
Commonwealth to say that unless the opposition won an election, it could not
be said to be free and fair.
He said that the Commonwealth leaders should
not allow Britain to get away with what it wanted against Zimbabwe, stressing
that the Commonwealth was a honourable group of member nations that must not
be dictated to by the beck and call of Britain.
The minister said that
he was proud that the declaration on good governance, human rights and
democracy was arrived at in Harare in 1991 and alleged that the violence in
his country was largely being sponsored by Britain.
"We are talking about
Zimbabwe and not heaven," the minister said, adding that he was aware that
the violence in his counry could not measure up to the level of mayhem being
perpetrated in northern Island.
The Real Crisis May Come Only Once the Verdict is in
March 5, 2002 Posted to the web March 5,
Vuyo Mvoko Johannesburg
Reports offer no immediate hope
for social, economic future
THE real Zimbabwean crisis is the one set to
explode in front of us only after the weekend's presidential election,
concedes a senior SA foreign affairs official, not even slightly perturbed by
the "unfounded" allegation that the SA government's handling of the situation
has been as confusing as its approach to the HIV/AIDS issue.
reports said to be in front of government offer no immediate hope for the
social, economic and political future of Zimbabwe. What is worse is that the
mess is bound to hurt the economy of Zimbabwe's main trading
There is no reason to panic, says the official, his
confidence apparently boosted by the scenario- planning exercise the SA
government is performing on Zimbabwe the stuff usually cobbled together by
spooks, government foreign policy gurus and the president's political and
state security advisers.
This exercise has been comprehensive and forward
looking, the official insists. Nothing that will emerge from the Zimbabwean
presidential election, he is adamant, will catch the SA government
What the media does not understand, he says, is that at stake
are "highly sensitive" matters, "not the kind of stuff the media expects us
to talk about freely in press conferences". Any alternative to the socalled
quiet diplomacy is "worse", the official says.
exercise apparently arrives at a conclusion that there are strong seeds of
instability in Zimbabwe, irrespective of whether Robert Mugabe or Morgan
Tsvangirai wins the election.
It also concludes that a Mugabe victory may
lead to the international isolation of Zimbabwe, which would aggravate the
anarchy as the country's ruler of 22 years seeks to divert attention from his
A Tsvangirai win, on the other hand, is something Zimbabwe's
security apparatus is not equipped to deal with in the likely event that Zanu
(PF) does not accept him.
Even in the more optimistic scenario
assuming, for example, that the situation gets contained and the elected
leader assumes power the situation would remain volatile.
crisis is so dire, says another SA government official, that the elected
president will have to make such unpopular decisions as cannot endear any
leader to the Zimbabwean masses.
The SA government can therefore not be
interested in "short-term public victories", the official insists. "We then
said, okay, what do we do now?" SA has discovered that while there was
"incredible quality leadership" within the ruling Zanu (PF), such people
couldn't challenge Mugabe's tight rein on the party.
Some of the
capable candidates have been recipients of Mugabe's patronage, and therefore
cannot bite the hand that feeds them. Others, however, feel isolation would
be much greater if they presented themselves as alternatives while the
ruthless incumbent leader was still there. Mugabe, meanwhile, was not moving
SA had to look at alternatives, among which was to bring
together the neighbouring country's key role players and get them to agree on
the steps the country would have to take to save it from more
The plan was to include the possibility of a government of national
unity, or a pledge from the losing party that it would not exploit the
situation but co-operate with the winner. The envisaged forum would have
looked at a post-presidential election "new agenda for reconstruction", and
both Zanu (PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would have had to
buy into it, as would business, churches, nongovernmental organisations and
What has now become only "a fuzzy dream",
according to a former foreign affairs senior official, was killed by Zanu
(PF) and the MDC's apparent refusal to refrain from exploiting the
socioeconomic reality in the scramble for votes. The situation was worsened ,
the former official says, by the ruling party's intransigence as it embarked
on "all sorts of crazy gimmicks".
To have pulled the plug on Zimbabwe
was "not realistic" and therefore never a consideration, the foreign affairs
official insists. The Zimbabwean media would have focussed on the
humanitarian disaster that would have followed electricity cuts and other
forms of sanctions that SA may have imposed.
It should be remembered, the
official says, that Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola have never taken kindly to
SA's increasing assumption of a leading regional role. "What would have been
the point of doing something we knew would backfire?
Southern African Development Community countries that would love to see us
down," the official says, and if SA was backing Mugabe "as the media
suggests" the Zimbabwean president would be having SA President Thabo Mbeki
as his confidante and not Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo.
It may be argued,
the official concedes, that technically the run-up to the election cannot be
said to be leading to an absolutely free and fair poll. But under the
circumstances, the official says, the situation is probably as good as it can
KUALA LUMPUR - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad
said yesterday that he did not know whether there was any truth to a claim
that Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe secretly sent £10 million
(S$26 million) to Malaysia through Channel Island banks.
know. Don't ask me,' he said.
Dr Mahathir was commenting on a report by
Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper that British government investigators
had discovered that Mr Mugabe moved the money through financial institutions
in Jersey and Guernsey in recent months without bankers knowing it was
He said he did not know why Malaysia was mentioned in the
The much-travelled Mugabe has visited Malaysia several times in
his 22-year rule, most recently for a five-day trip in October after the
Commonwealth heads of state summit in Australia was postponed.
Sunday Telegraph, which did not identify its sources, said investigators had
uncovered a 'complex network' of up to £60 million pounds that
had left Zimbabwe in recent months. --AP
JOHANNESBURG, March 5 — Zimbabwe refused to accredit a South
African non-government observer team on Tuesday and told them to leave the
country four days before a close-fought presidential election, a spokesman
The South African National Non-Government Organisation
(SANGOCO) mission was the latest in a series to be refused permission to
follow the presidential election on March 9-10. Mark Weinberg, one
of SANGOCO's observers, said members of the 23-member team flew out of Harare
when their 48-hour visas expired on Tuesday. ''A very clear message
is being sent out by both the South African and the Zimbabwean governments
that they don't see a role for civil society in observing this election,'' he
told Reuters. Weinberg said the team met repeatedly with South African
and Zimbabwean officials in Harare. ''The fact that our own
government did so little to advance our interest does point to a problem
within the region,'' he said. SANGOCO grew out of the anti-apartheid
struggle in South Africa as an umbrella body representing organisations
fighting for human rights. It is widely regarded as a close ally of
the ruling African National Congress. Weinberg said the team were
told some of them could join the 50-member South African observer mission
sent by President Thabo Mbeki. ''We felt it would have been too much
of a political compromise. We would have become part of the Thabo Mbeki
report,'' he said. Mbeki and South African cabinet ministers have been
criticised for failure to strongly condemn violence in the runup to the
elections, but have insisted it is too early to declare the poll fatally
flawed. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe faces the biggest challenge
to his 22 years in power from main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at this weekend's
election. The European Union last month pulled out its election
monitoring team after Harare refused to accredit its leader.
POLICE yesterday broke up a meeting between MDC leader Mr
Morgan Tsvangirai and diplomats at a Harare hotel after the opposition party
breached one of the conditions for holding the meeting.
spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzi-jena, confirmed the incident
saying police had authorised the holding of the meeting but one of the
conditions was that police officers would attend the meeting.
the meeting between the MDC and the ambassadors and high
commissioners accredited to Zimbabwe commenced, the police officers in plain
clothes and in attendance were chased from attending the meeting.
police then ordered the meeting not to proceed as MDC had breached one of the
conditions for holding the meeting," he said.
Bvudzijena said that the conditions put to the MDC to cover the meeting were
within the provisions of the Public Order and Security
"Whereas the MDC had agreed that the meeting be
covered by the police, the police felt that it was a prerogative of diplomats
to be provided with adequate security.
"The fact that the MDC chased
the police came as a surprise. The MDC masquerade themselves as the rule of
law and maintenance of law and order," said the police spokesman.
MDC official said the meeting, which had gone on for some 30 minutes,
was discussing the food shortages faced by the country.
"There was a
briefing with the ambassadors and while Mr Tsvangirai was addressing, the
police came and disrupted the meeting," Mr Percy Makombe, a Press officer of
the MDC told AFP.
At least 30 people attended the meeting, including
foreign diplomats and election observers to the presidential election set for
this Saturday and Sunday.
The Spanish ambassador to Harare, Mr Javier
Sandomingo, who was attending the meeting said: "It's totally ridiculous that
foreign diplomats can't meet with political leaders of a country. They were
just explaining to us the food situation and their plans for the transition
(in case of a victory)," he said.
President Yoweri Museveni has said the controversy
surrounding Zimbabwe is characterised by a lot of prejudice and lack of
Speaking to the British Broadcasting Service (BBC) World
Service Monday morning, Museveni said the question of whether to impose
sanctions on Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been mis- handled by both
the West and African diplomats. He said he doesn't subscribe to the view that
"there is a feeling that if Mugabe doesn't lose elections, then there is no
democracy in Zimbabwe."
"Of course that is not true," Museveni
"Mugabe is somebody who has done good things for the Zimbabweans,"
There was mounting pressure from Britain to persuade heads of
state attending the commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Brisbane
Australia to have some form of action slapped on Mugabe. One of the reasons
they gave was that Mugabe has refused Europeans Union observers to monitor
the forthcoming presidential elections in Zimbabwe.
Museveni said that
he was not happy with the European Union's unilateral position of clamping
sanctions on Zimbabwe without consulting African leaders.
European Union has no condominium powers over Africa. They should
have consulted us," he said.
He added: "African issues are addressed
in a superficial way by the west."
He said the case of Zimbabwe is a
political problem, which could have been handled amicably with each side-the
white farmers and Africans going home in "win-win situation."
whether the decision on the course of action on Zimbabwe was
being overshadowed by racial tendencies, Museveni said: "I don't have to
conspire with anybody before hand so that I can make up my views about
Museveni said that the colonial period in Zimbabwe was partly
responsible for the current crisis, reasoning that the colonial system
disfranchised Africans by leaving them under privileged.
what is happening to Zimbabwe to the Uganda question of Asians who were
expelled by former president Idi Amin.
South African officials yesterday hailed
the Commonwealth compromise that has spared Zimbabwe from punitive action -
at least for now - as a vindication of President Thabo Mbeki's position on
Foreign ministry spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said: 'This is
indeed a vindication of the president's approach and vision on Zimbabwe.'
President Mbeki, the Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo, were mandated by Commonwealth leaders to
decide Zimbabwe's status in the 54-member body, should Commonwealth
observers declare the March 9 and 10 election not free and
Presidential spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said the government
welcomed 'this expression of confidence by the Commonwealth in our president
and South Africa.'
'We will discharge our responsibilities in the
interest of the people of Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth community of
nations,' he said.
Meanwhile, President Thabo Mbeki has urged the leaders
from Commonwealth nations to focus their energies in fighting all forms of
discrimination, poverty, underdevelopment as well as terrorism following the
devastating 11 September attacks on the US.
President Mbeki was
speaking at the weekend during the opening of the three-day Commonwealth
Heads of Government meeting currently underway in Coolum,
The meeting, which is attended by presidents of mostly the
least development nations, continues to be overshadowed by socio-political
developments in the trouble-torn Zimbabwe ahead of the historic presidential
President Mbeki, who is the outgoing CHOGM chair, told the
delegates that the body needs to intensify its work in promoting democracy,
sustainable development as well as been in the frontline in fighting
'Perhaps because of the diverse nature of the Commonwealth, we
are better placed than many to lead the struggle against racism, racial and
gender discrimination and xenophobia,' stressed President Mbeki.
also called for introspection about the role of the body.
'We have the
opportunity at this meeting, to chart a specific, decisive course and provide
fresh impetus for the upliftment of the living conditions and fulfillment of
the dreams and aspirations of the ordinary masses of our people,' he
The meeting, which ends today, honoured the Queen Elizabeth
II for her majestic role she played during her 50 years as head of the
Agreement to delay sanctions dissolves in
bickering between rich nations, Africa
Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau
Chief National Post, with files from news services
COOLUM, Australia -
After three days of heated debate, Commonwealth leaders openly split
yesterday over the question of sanctions against Zimbabwe, with warnings that
the organization's inaction could lead to a bloodbath.
At the end of the
meeting of Commonwealth leaders, an apparent compromise was reached to avoid
immediately suspending Zimbabwe from the organization and imposing punitive
sanctions against Robert Mugabe, the country's President, for human rights
abuses and alleged vote-rigging.
However, the common front fell apart
"We have postponed the day of judgment on Zimbabwe
and I think that is the wrong thing to do," said Tony Blair, the British
Prime Minister. "We should have provided a far stronger statement and backed
it up with action."
The Commonwealth leaders issued a one-page statement
expressing "deep concern" over the Zimbabwean election campaign and urging
"all parties" in Zimbabwe to desist from violence.
That left Helen
Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, visibly frustrated. "The communiqué
reads a little like everyone is responsible for the violence and
intimidation. That is not the case," she said.
A spokesman for Zimbabwe's
main opposition party condemned the Commonwealth's inaction.
more talk and no action," said Sekai Holland of Zimbabwe's Movement for
Democratic Change. "Mugabe has no respect for the international community, or
the Zimbabwe people. The Commonwealth leaders have misread the situation.
This delay gives Mugabe more time to kill. It encourages him to do
"If Mugabe is defeated and steals the election, there will be a
bloodbath. If he steals the election, there will be a bloodbath because in
Zimbabwe, he has been trying to get rid of the opposition."
reaction of Mr. Blair and Ms. Clark widened the chasm that has opened
up between developed nations and African states during the
Canada had attempted to broker a compromise between the two
Leaders from the 54 Commonwealth nations, most of them former
British colonies, had agreed to set up a three-nation task force to decide on
action ranging from "collective disapproval" to suspension if the March
9-10 presidential elections are not democratic.
Britain, Australia and
New Zealand had demanded Zimbabwe be suspended from the Commonwealth, but
African states -- which make up one third of the group -- insisted no action
be taken until after the election despite widespread reports of pre-election
Canada has tried to occupy the middle ground between the two
sides, and Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, had claimed most of the credit
for the short-lived compromise on Zimbabwe.
However, even that became
cause for contention after John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, said
the credit belonged to the leaders of Britain, Nigeria and South
Mr. Howard made no mention of Mr. Chrétien, who claimed he was
responsible for "80%" of the communique on Zimbabwe.
"As to whose idea
it was ... I particularly appreciated the contribution of General [Olusegun]
Obasanjo [of Nigeria] but also the President of South Africa [Thabo Mbeki]
and the British Prime Minister," Mr. Howard told a
Mr. Obasanjo of Nigeria said "it was the idea of all
of us" but later noted Mr. Chrétien "played a complementary role."
his news conference, Mr. Chrétien insisted he wrote most of the communiqué
and also broached the idea at the leaders' retreat on Sunday that led to
wide-ranging and often acrimonious talks.
The Prime Minister has insisted
from the beginning that no action should be taken against Zimbabwe until
after the election was over and the Commonwealth had received an analysis
from its observers.
Mr. Chrétien denied the final statement was a weak
reaction by the Commonwealth and said it is a warning to Mr. Mugabe that
there will be action taken if the elections are fixed.
"We said in the
communiqué we want to have fair elections. They are on a warning that if it
is not a fair election, there will be consequences," he said.
the plan, a team of about 50 observers in Zimbabwe will report back within
days of the voting to Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth Secretary-General. The
nations of the Commonwealth represent 1.7 billion people and a third of the
He will consult with a special committee formed of the
leaders of Australia, South Africa and Nigeria -- the past, present and
future chairmen of a Commonwealth leaders group.
Ms. Holland said she
was concerned by the inclusion of Nigeria and South Africa on the
three-nation panel. Both have been reluctant to move against Mr.
And Mr. Obasanjo, who is considered a friend of Mr. Mugabe, has
already ruled out economic sanctions against Zimbabwe if the elections are
judged to be unfair.
"It will range from collective disapproval to
suspension," he said. "I don't see economic sanctions is included in
Mr. Chrétien said he favours the largely symbolic step of
suspending Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, but noted individual countries
could impose economic sanctions following the lead of the European Union and
the United States.
Mr. Mugabe, who did not attend the summit, has told
Mr. Blair to "go to hell" and has decried the attempt by the Commonwealth's
white members to impose sanctions on him as racism.
Helen Clark, the
Prime Minister of New Zealand, said the divisions over Zimbabwe were
undermining the credibility of the Commonwealth.
"I hope we do not have
another [meeting] like this one where, notwithstanding the evidence of a
failure to observe the fundamental principles of the Commonwealth, a member
state still has a seat around the table," Ms. Clark said.
"I think the
Commonwealth has to get its act together for the future. It has failed to
wrestle effectively with Zimbabwe."
She noted the Commonwealth was quick
to suspend the South Pacific nation of Fiji in 2000 when the democratically
elected government led by the country's first ethnic Indian prime minister
was overthrown in a nationalist coup. Fiji's suspension was lifted following
elections last September.
Mugabe says ruling party 'wide awake' for Zimbabwe
HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 5 — President
Robert Mugabe said his ruling party had lost ground to the opposition through
complacency, but would win this weekend's presidential election because it
was ''now wide awake,'' state radio reported Tuesday. Mugabe also
described the opposition Movement for Democratic Change as ''a donkey being
controlled by the British,'' the former colonial power that tried to suspend
Zimbabwe from the 54-nation Commonwealth organization. ''We are now
wide awake,'' Mugabe, referring to his ruling ZANU-PF, said at a rally
Monday. ''We won't let the (Movement for Democratic Change) win.''
Mugabe, 78, is fighting for political survival after 22 years as president.
His main rival in the March 9-10 election is MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai. The fledgling MDC won 57 of 120 elected seats in
the June 2000 parliamentary elections as Mugabe's popularity plunged amid
economic devastation and chaos. The opposition accuses the
government of using violence, intimidation and new security laws to cow its
voters and to prevent it from campaigning effectively. About 150
people have been killed over the past two years in violence blamed mainly on
ruling party militants. A State Department human rights report issued
Monday accused Zimbabwe of killings, undermining the judiciary's independence
and waging a ''systematic campaign of violence'' against the
opposition. Freedom of the press and freedom of assembly also were
severely restricted, it said. On Monday, Mugabe thanked African
leaders for refusing to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, an
organization of Britain and its former territories, at the recent Australia
summit. Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand demanded
Zimbabwe's suspension to protest the violence and human rights
abuses. Leaders instead agreed to await a report by 64 Commonwealth
monitors on whether the presidential election is free and fair.
Mugabe said that decision was ''a victory against Britain's attempts to
introduce a new form of apartheid'' to serve Western interests in developing
countries. Tendai Biti, the MDC's foreign affairs spokesman, said
Mugabe was trying to hide the violence and intimidation behind his rift with
Britain. ''It is not a Zimbabwe-Britain crisis. Our people are
being brutalized by fellow black Zimbabweans. This is the issue we would want
our African brothers to have understood,'' he said. African leaders
closed ranks at the Commonwealth summit out of fear for their own power, he
said. ''The problems of human rights and good governance are mirrored
in their countries,'' Biti said. The state-run Herald newspaper, a
government mouthpiece, said Tuesday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair
showed personal arrogance, an obsession with Mugabe and ''the shallowness of
his commitment to democracy'' by pushing for Zimbabwe's suspension.
Foreign diplomats based in Harare said police prevented them from finishing a
Monday meeting with Tsvangirai to discuss food shortages. Police
declared the meeting illegal under new security laws requiring police
permission for political gatherings. State radio also reported Monday
that three opposition lawmakers tried to bribe Zimbabwe's air force commander
to help calm security forces if Mugabe were removed. Opposition officials
said that claim was a government smear.