Monday 07 May 2007
By Wayne Mafaro
HARARE - Zimbabwean police were by late Sunday night still detaining two
human rights lawyers in open defiance of a High Court order to release them.
The lawyers, Alec Muchadehama and partner Andrew Makoni, were arrested late
on Friday after challenging a certificate issued by Home Affairs Minister
Kembo Mohadi barring the courts from granting bail to an opposition
legislator and 12 other activists accused of accused of petrol bombing
High Court Judge Tedius Karwi on Saturday ordered the police to release the
lawyers saying they had been unlawfully arrested.
But lawyers acting for Muchadehama and Makoni told ZimOnline that the two
were still in custody because the police were refusing to release them as
ordered by Karwi.
"They are still in police custody," said Otto Saki, who is part of the legal
team representing the detained lawyers.
Another defence lawyer Eric Matinenga said the police had on Sunday morning
searched Muchadehama and Makoni's offices in Harare.
"I have just received a message that police this morning (Sunday) searched
Muchadehama and Makoni's offices but I am not sure what they were looking
for," said Matinenga.
The police claim Muchadehama and Makoni had during the bail application of
their clients' uttered words which amounted to obstructing the course of
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately available to clarify
how exactly the two lawyers, who were only carrying out their professional
work, had obstructed the course of justice or to shed light on why the
police were refusing to follow a court order to release the lawyers.
However, this is not the first time that state security forces - accused by
churches and human rights groups of committing human rights abuses - have
acted outside the law to arrest and detain civilians.
The police have over the past seven years unlawfully arrested, detained and
tortured scores of main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party supporters while the army in 1998 infamously detained and tortured
journalists Ray Choto and the late Mark Chavhunduka for days in defiance of
a High Court order to release the journalists.
President Robert Mugabe, who has himself said his government will only obey
court orders it deems reasonable, has stood by the security forces and
dismissed as false charges that they violate human rights or disobey court
Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association
has condemned the arrest of Muchadehama and Makoni.
Association president Sternford Moyo said: "We condemn the arrest of lawyers
especially where the arrest is motivated by something done by lawyers in the
execution of their duties.
"Domestic law and international law requires that lawyers be free to
discharge their functions without hindrance and that is necessary for an
effective administration of justice. We are therefore highly concerned that
the arrest took place but we welcome the order by the courts for the lawyers'
release." - ZimOnline
Monday 07 May 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - Zimbabwe state security agents arrested and tortured more
opposition and civic society activists in February than in the previous of
month as President Robert Mugabe's government intensifies a crackdown on
dissension, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum NGO Forum has said.
The Forum is a coalition of 17 of the biggest human rights and pro-democracy
groups in the southern African country and regularly publishes reports on
the human rights situation in the crisis-hit nation.
In its latest report, the Forum said 294 people were unlawfully arrested in
February for attempting to stage anti-government protests compared to only
16 arrested in January, adding increasing arrests were a clear sign of
Mugabe's increasing reliance on "brute force" to crush peaceful dissension.
State agents assaulted 183 anti-government activists and tortured another 86
in February compared to 43 assaulted and four tortured in January, the Forum
"In exercising the right to freedom of association and assembly, civic
society organisations were met with brute force and repression by the
state," reads part of the 17-page report made available to ZimOnline at the
Both Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Information Minister and
government spokesman Sikhanyiso Ndlovu were not immediately available to
respond to charges of increasing human rights violations by state agents.
However, the government has in the past rejected criticism of its human
rights record by the Forum, which it accuses of seeking to use false claims
of human rights abuses by state agents as part of a wider Western-led plot
to tarnish and vilify Mugabe's government.
The Forum report comes as international human rights watchdog, Human Rights
Watch (HRW), last Wednesday called on the Harare administration to halt a
violent crackdown on political opponents and civic groups.
HRW said, which visited Zimbabwe to assess the situation in the country,
said the human rights situation had deteriorated since March and accused
government security forces of using "disproportionate and lethal force"
against unarmed people, which had led to the death of one opposition
activist, Gift Tandare, from gunshot wounds.
In its report, the Forum implored Mugabe's government to "to respect the
right of Zimbabweans to assemble, associate and express themselves freely as
enshrined in the Constitution and International Human Rights instruments to
which Zimbabwe is a party."
Politically motivated violence and human rights abuses - mostly blamed on
state agents - have become routine in Zimbabwe since the emergence in 1999
of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party as a potent
electoral threat to Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party's stranglehold on
power. - ZimOnline
Independent Catholic News
7 May 2007 - 336 words
Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo has again spoken out against Zimbabwean
government policies and the international community that is allowing the
"disastrous" humanitarian situation there to escalate.
Speaking at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where he
was a guest of the Australian Human Rights Centre, Archbishop Ncube said:
"while the people of Zimbabwe are starving, Mugabe and his ministers are
busy corruptly trading and getting themselves rich."
Referring to the international community's lack of action against the
regime, Ncube said: "There should be agreement among nations that, when a
person goes against their own people, the international community have a
right to invade and bring them down. Otherwise people die while the
international community folds its hands and looks on."
At Easter, Zimbabwe's Catholic Bishops issued a five-page pastoral letter
calling on Mugabe to end oppression in the country and allow for democratic
reform. It also said violent confrontation and deepening economic hardships
was pushing the nation close to a flash point.
Many bishops' conference around the world have since issued statements fully
supporting the Zimbabwean bishops' stand.
In an interview with the Zimbabwean state newspaper The Herald, President
Mugabe warned that the country's nine Catholic bishops had chosen "a
dangerous path" by getting involved in politics. He said his government
would in future treat the bishops as what he called "political entities" and
"deal with them accordingly."
Father Oskar Wermter of the Catholic social communications secretariat in
Harare said Mugabe's response to the pastoral letter was to be expected.
"What is surprising is that he kept silent for so long. People have reacted
to the letter very positively and maybe that is riling him."
A church spokesman said state agents have been questioning several priests
and laypeople. On Friday a priest was arrested and held for 24 hours before
being released without charge.
© Independent Catholic News 2007
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: May 6, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: The ruling party has resolved differences over a power
struggle to succeed President Robert Mugabe and backed him to stay in office
for another six years, the state Sunday Mail newspaper reported.
Didymus Mutasa, the powerful No. 3 official in Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, said
Mugabe's succession was now off the agenda, according to the newspaper, a
"There is absolutely nothing to talk about the succession issue any more for
the next six years because we shall have the president as our leader. He is
not going to be succeeded for that period," Mutasa was quoted as saying.
Mutasa acknowledged two main factions in the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front had vied for supremacy over who would replace
83-year-old Mugabe. But he said both factions now "closed ranks" behind
Mugabe's continued role as president.
The party agreed Mugabe could not leave when he was needed by both the party
and the nation facing what he described as "difficulties," Mutasa said,
according to the newspaper.
"So it was quite right of him (Mugabe) to say: ... 'I am not going away, I
cannot be running away from a burning house. I should stay and put out the
fire,' " Mutasa was quoted as saying.
He insisted Mugabe's decision to stay on until at least 2013, when he would
be almost 90, did not leave the party divided.
"As trained and loyal liberation fighters, everyone was rallying around the
incumbent leader," Mutasa said in an interview with the state media, the
Sunday Mail reported.
The tenor of Mutasa's remarks was reminiscent of several previous occasions
when Mugabe, Mutasa and other close loyalists clamped down on calls within
the party for Mugabe, the only ruler since independence in 1980, to step
In 2004, the ruling party faced its deepest split over Mugabe's choice of
Joyce Mujuru, wife of the influential former army commander Gen. Solomon
Mujuru, as the nation's second vice president. She became the first woman in
the post and effectively blocked former Parliament Speaker Emmerson
Mnangagwa's place as first in line to replace Mugabe.
Mugabe railroaded Mujuru into office but last year relations between the two
cooled as Gen. Mujuru became increasingly critical of Mugabe and the
couple's faction strengthened against Mnangagwa's group.
Mugabe's critics blame him for the southern African nation's economic
meltdown, citing mismanagement, his failure to curb high-level graft and for
sanctioning state-orchestrated violence against opponents, including the
assaults by police and the hospitalization of opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, and scores of opposition activists in recent weeks.
Official inflation is running at 2,200 percent and Zimbabwe faces acute
shortage of hard currency, gasoline, food and most basic goods.
Five-yearly parliamentary and presidential polls are scheduled next March
and there had been suggestions Mugabe might later step down after winning a
clean sweep against the fractured opposition, making way for at least fresh
The Sunday Mail sold briskly on the streets of Harare on Sunday.
"Six years? God help us. I don't know how much more of this can we take?"
said one businessman at news stand who asked not to be identified.
It is an offense in Zimbabwe, punishable by jail, to publicly insult Mugabe.
From The Sunday Independent, 6 May
President Thabo Mbeki's endorsement of the Nigerian election result bodes
ill for successful fulfilment of his mission on behalf of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) to persuade political adversaries in
Zimbabwe to settle their differences. His approval of the result is implicit
in his message of congratulations to the winner of the presidential
election, Umaru Yar'Adua of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), who was
handpicked by the outgoing president, Olusegun Obasanjo. The Nigerian
department of foreign affairs certainly seems to have concurred with that
deduction, judging by the alacrity with which it trumpeted triumphantly on
receipt of Mbeki's congratulatory missive. Mbeki's indirect affirmation of
the election outcome is, however, in conflict with the sharp criticisms or
stony silence of many of the international and local election observers who
monitored the polls for Nigeria's state and local elections on April 14 and
parliamentary and presidential elections on April 21.
The reasons for concern over the fairness of the election include apparent
administrative incompetence, violence directed at voters as well as at the
electoral commission for its alleged bias, and outright bribery of voters by
reportedly ubiquitous party agents as they queued to deliver their
far-from-secret ballots. The election was marred by a shortage of ballot
papers that resulted in the frenzied printing of extra papers and in long
delays before voting started at many polling booths and even, though less
frequently, no voting at all at a few. The shortage was reported to be acute
in areas where opposition parties were particularly strong, which aroused
suspicions that the scarcity of ballots papers was, to use a colloquial
expression, "accidentally on purpose". Some 200 people reportedly died
during the election, which, though relatively small in the context of
Nigeria's total population of 140 million, hardly qualified the elections to
be described as a peaceful demonstration of democracy in action.
Statistical improbabilities aroused suspicions that the people's choice was
unduly affected by improbable anomalies. Thus, in one area the winning
candidate polled conspicuously more votes than the number of recorded ballot
papers that had been distributed, while in another the number of votes
accredited to the victorious contestant and three rivals (7 000, 2 000 and 1
000 respectively) were too precisely rounded off to be credible. On top of
these cogent reasons for regarding the elections as flawed, there is one
more of singular importance: the suspected use by Obasanjo of the Economic
and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC) to disqualify his political
opponents from standing for office in the elections. As The Economist notes,
the EFCC sent letters to the various parties containing a list of 130
candidates who were scheduled to be charged with corruption, while, as if it
were acting in tandem, the electoral commission let it be known that these
candidates should not be allowed to stand.
One of the 130 disqualified candidates was no less a person that Atiku
Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC). Abubakar,
a former leader of the PDP, had served as Obasanjo's vice-president but
fallen foul of him when he opposed Obasanjo's attempt to alter the
constitution to allow him to stand for a third term. Faced with Obasanjo's
wrath, Abubakar defected to the AC, where he was chosen as its presidential
candidate, only to find himself on the list of allegedly corrupt politicians
deemed to be unsuitable for election to leadership positions. Abubakar,
however, appealed to the supreme court, which ruled that he should be
allowed to stand. His late entry into the contest, however, put him at a
disadvantage, even to the extent of the exclusion of his name from the list
of candidates in some, if not all, ballot papers. These reports were largely
authenticated by reputable election observer teams. They included the
European Union and the Nigerian Transition Monitoring Group. The
mass-circulation newspaper This Day labelled the elections a "rigging and
Mbeki's endorsement of the elections cries out for explanation, particularly
as the president-elect was a man with a parochial profile until Obasanjo
thrust him on to the national stage to win an improbable 70 percent of the
votes cast. Mbeki has shown himself reluctant to publicly criticise his
peers in Africa in general, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in
particular, during his nearly eight years as South Africa's head of state.
Perhaps he merely exercised the same restraint when he failed to express
even tactfully worded misgivings about Nigeria's elections, for which
Obasanjo, as the incumbent president, cannot escape censure. Perhaps he
admired Obasanjo's skill in successfully marginalising a powerful rival and
promoting a relatively unknown and potentially malleable politician to
succeed him while retaining his powerful position as chairman of the ruling
The Sunday Times
May 6, 2007
SIMON MANN, the former SAS officer linked to a botched coup attempt in west
Africa, will either walk free from a Zimbabwe jail this week or face
extradition to Equatorial Guinea and many more years' imprisonment in
He believes he will die if a magistrate in Harare agrees on Wednesday to his
extradition. He needs medical treatment, including a hernia operation and
hip replacement. "If I go there, consider me dead," he has told his legal
Equatorial Guinea wants to try the Old Etonian on charges of plotting to
overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
Mann is in prison in Zimbabwe after being convicted in August 2004 of trying
to buy weapons without a licence in connection with the bungled coup to
He is due for early release for good behaviour on Friday and could be on a
plane home to Britain by next weekend.
If the magistrate grants Equatorial Guinea's extradition application, Mann
will appeal to the high court, his lawyer Jonathan Samkange said yesterday.
Mann's fellow mercenary Nick du Toit is serving a 34-year jail sentence in
Equatorial Guinea for his role in the plot to topple Nguema, which
unravelled in March 2004 when a plane carrying Mann and other mercenaries
was seized in Zimbabwe. Du Toit and his team were arrested as they waited to
meet them in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
Mark Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher's son, who was a friend and neighbour of
Mann in Cape Town, admitted funding part of the scheme and was fined by
South African authorities.
Du Toit is held in Black Beach prison and is in terrible shape as a result
of beatings, mistreatment and poor food, according to reports. A German who
was captured with him has died, Amnesty International believes from torture.
Du Toit will have to serve at least 20 years before he can be considered for
parole, Nguema has stated.
The tiny oil-rich state in West Africa is notorious for its torture,
electoral fraud and corruption. American State Department reports say
suspects have died in custody and prisoners have been raped by police.
Weja Chicampo, a former inmate at Black Beach, said that he had been so
badly beaten he could not eat properly and was left in handcuffs without
washing facilities and no water so he had been required to drink his own
Chicampo was released last year and is now a Spanish citizen living in
Madrid. He was invited to testify at Mann's extradition hearing but has been
denied a visa to fly to Zimbabwe.
Mann's lawyer said: "The only way I think Mann can be extradited is if there
is political interference. I hope it works out."
Zimbabwe is gripped by chronic fuel shortages and Equatorial Guinea has made
it clear it is happy to assist.
Friday 4th May 2007
It is sometimes useful to stand back from the horror and chaos that
characterises this last stage of Mugabe's rule and try to look at the
situation objectively. Easier to do that I suppose if you're not there in
the country suffering the total collapse with starvation and poverty all
around you but I admit to bouts of fair-mindedness when I think I ought to
try and be objective!
You all know how Mugabe constantly harps on about the west - and the UK in
particular - and how they 'demonize' him and his party. 'You never tell them
the good things that are happening under Mugabe's rule' the media is told
and my response to that is 'What good things are there to talk about?' In my
quieter moments I do wonder if perhaps we critics of the regime do not
sometimes over-state the case but then I hear about babies being beaten,
women being kept naked in the cells and just yesterday I read in The
Zimbabwean details of the number of political prisoners being held and I go
back to my angry question, 'What good things are there to talk about?'
An interesting article in the UK Guardian recently caught my eye. It was
entitled 'How To Turn an Open Society Into A Dictatorship in Ten Easy Steps'
and although it was not about Africa or even Zimbabwe the article exactly
pinpointed what has happened in our country.
The article by a certain Naomi Wolf argues that there are ten steps that
need to be taken by anyone taking over power. She gives the examples of
Hitler and Pinochet but in Africa we have our own examples. The process is
not a random one. All those seeking power have to do is follow a sort of
historical blueprint to close down an open society and turn it into a
fascist state - with varying degrees of bloodshed along the way. Wolf goes
on to argue that creating and sustaining a democratic society is a long and
arduous process but closing it down is much easier. Just follow the
If you are a Zimbabwean reading this you will be able to decide quite
quickly whether the country passes the Dictatorship Test. I leave it to you
Step One: Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy. For Nazi Germany
it was the Jews. In the west today it's Islamic terrorism. Step Two: Create
a gulag - a place where all dissenters are sent for long periods. In America
that's Guantanamo Bay. Step Three: Develop a 'thug' caste eg. the Nazi
Blackshirts whose job was to go round brutalizing the population. Step Four:
Set up an internal surveillance system. Step Five: Harass citizen groups and
civic society. Step Six: Institute arbitrary arrest and detention. Step
Seven: Target key individuals. Step Eight: Control the Press. Step Nine:
Equate all forms of dissent with treason. Step Ten: Suspend the rule of law,
subvert the judiciary and police.
There's one other point Naomi Wolf makes; once you put all the powers,
legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands you have all the
makings of a tyranny. Externally, on the surface everything looks normal.
That's what the dictator wants you to see; look behind the external picture
and you will see the full horror of torture, brutality and the infringing of
basic human rights.
And there you have it. By my reckoning Zimbabwe scores nine out of ten on
this Richter scale of dictatorship. We don't yet have a gulag as far as I
know but then you could argue that the whole country is nothing more than a
gulag - for dissenters anyway.
So, in answer to the question, 'Why don't you tell us the good news coming
out of Zimbabwe?' I repeat, 'What good news is there?' What good news can
there be when the price of the staple food goes up by 700% condemning
millions to near-starvation?
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH
Saturday 5th May 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
On World Press Freedom Day the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists were denied
permission by Police to hold processions in 10 provincial centres around the
country. This did not come as a surprise. How could the government possibly
sanction processions when in the last month alone there has been a shocking
surge of repression and abuse against media workers in Zimbabwe.
Edward Chikomba, a 65 year old freelance cameraman was abducted from his
home, beaten to death and dumped on a roadside. Gift Phiri, a reporter for
The Zimbabwean newspaper was seized in a supermarket, taken into police
custody and beaten repeatedly over four days. Tsvangirai Mukwazhi - a
photographer - and Tendai Musiyazviriyo, a producer, were arrested while
covering the March 11th arrests of opposition leaders. Both were beaten in
custody. Luke Tamborinyoka , an MDC press officer, has been in police
custody for a month
On World Press Freedom Day in Zimbabwe, the Minister of Information said :"
the Americans are at work busy destroying Zimbabwe's national policies. On
the ground, however, for the ordinary men, women and children of Zimbabwe,
there is no sign of the Americans. If there was, perhaps they would do
something about the ten hours of electricity cuts and seventeen hour water
cuts we are having in my home town every day. Perhaps they could have
stopped the 680 percent increase in the price of maize meal that was
announced this week. Perhaps they could stand next to the mothers in the
supermarkets who pick things up and put them back on the shelves because
they cannot afford even life's most basic of goods.
Zimbabwe's Minister of Information did not mention any of these things as he
spoke on World Press Freedom Day. He did not speak about the dead cameraman
or the arrested journalists and said nothing about how people were being
beaten whilst in police custody. Beaten by men who are paid with our taxes!
The President of Zimbabwe's Union of Journalists made the most appropriate
comment when he said; "We are not celebrating anything. We are looking back
to a tragic year when reprisals against journalists have gone up."
I end with a quote from an Easter Pastoral Letter published by the Zimbabwe
Catholic Bishops Conference: "The suffering people of Zimbabwe are groaning
in agony: 'Watchman, how much longer the night.'" How much longer is indeed
our call, our litany.
Until next week, thanks for reading and for anyone interested please have a
look at the African Tears website where a letter from the outside, looking
in, is a new link and this week is a superb read and brings a chilling
Thanks PH for your work and your example !
Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 3 May
Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary general
elections next year and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
has delegated the task of ensuring they are free and fair to President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa. Free, fair polls can be held only where there exists
an environment that seeks to provide popular participation, promotes human
rights, guarantees fundamental freedoms, ensures accountability of the
government and freedom of the judiciary and press, and protects and respects
political pluralism. None of these conditions exist in Zimbabwe, nor are
they likely to exist between now and next April, as there is an absence of
decisive action to bring them about. Contradictory statements from SADC do
not inspire confidence in that organisation's efforts to resolve the crisis.
There is a real risk that the regional efforts will end up promoting an
electoral process that will legitimise the Mugabe government.
Yet there is an absolute need to ensure that the next election in Zimbabwe
is not only free and fair but also seen to be free and fair if it is to be
accepted by all political factions as well as by the outside world. The
circumstances under which the elections are to be held present enormous
challenges. These include the lack of a democratic culture of political
tolerance, political violence and high levels of intimidation and bias.
There are also huge logistical concerns. Previous elections were
characterised by selective voter registration and the gerrymandering of
electoral districts. The police and the army have proved themselves partial
and are often used by the government to frustrate free political activity.
They do not inspire confidence. The problem is heightened by an
institutional culture that tolerates a profound disrespect for human rights.
This makes the police unsuitable to guard the polling stations and perform
other election-related functions, such as transporting ballot papers,
These factors create suspicion and doubt about the integrity of the process
and make it essential that, if it is to have any chance of success, Mbeki's
mission has to put in place credible structures that will tackle these
challenges. In the South African process in 1994, special structures - such
as the transitional executive council - were established to ensure that the
apartheid regime did not undermine the transition to democracy. Also, the
international community often monitors national elections. This is designed
to ensure that elections are held in an atmosphere conducive to the holding
of free and fair elections, thereby ensuring that the process advances
democracy. But such involvement can be effective only if it involves
participation in the whole spectrum of the national election process. It has
to include support of national election administrations, training of
election officials, election supervision, election observation, election
verification, provision of civilian police and technical assistance on
The final determination is made easier if the international observers ensure
that each stage of the election is satisfactory and pronounce their
judgement at each of the three key stages: the registration of voters, the
campaign period and the voting and counting of votes. Mbeki should not be
interested only in what happens on the day of the elections. If he is to
reduce the probability of rigging and enhance the integrity of the process,
he should give considerable weight to the conditions on the ground leading
up to the elections. The big question that arises is how Mbeki is going to
ensure that the right conditions are in place. What structure is SADC going
to put in place to ensure that necessary conditions are implemented? It
appears that, for now, SADC's strategy is to make Mugabe reform and
dismantle the autocratic and repressive system he has established. If that
is indeed the strategy, SADC's initiative is bound to fail. One of the
lessons to be learnt from the recent disgraceful Nigerian elections is that
undemocratic regimes cannot reform themselves. The Mugabe government will
not democratise unless it is pushed. The role played by the international
community will thus be critical in the outcome of the mediation process.
But, to be effective, it needs to be united. This will greatly increase the
chance of a successful international intervention. Only serious, determined
and united efforts can move Zimbabwe out of its current quagmire.
Muna Ndulo is professor of law at Cornell University Law School. He served
as senior political adviser to the special representative of the secretary
general in South Africa and head of the United Nations observer mission in
South Africa, which oversaw South Africa's first democratic election. In
1999, he was the legal adviser to the United Nations mission to East Timor
So many partings. So many deaths. We may be 5,000 miles away but nothing can
insulate us against what is happening at home. Many Vigil people were drawn
to Wolverhampton today to be with family of the MDC National Chairman, Isaac
Matongo, who died suddenly this week. He was an inspiring person, a great
supporter of the Vigil, who was always urging unity on Zimbabweans in the
diaspora. We remember him with affection and respect. We know how
difficult it has been for the MDC to survive in the hostile environment of
infiltration and decampaigning and massive state abuse.
Unfortunately Mr Matongo's was not the only death we mourned. One of our
key activists, Luka Phiri, called by briefly to break the news that his
wife, Sihle, had died while on her way home to Zimbabwe after an operation
in South Africa. He said "I know she is not in pain now but she has passed
her pain on to me and I have to live with it. We shared a lot in life and
she is still a greatest figure in my life that brought me two lovely
children. I will miss her till we meet in a new life. Rest in peace. Lala
ngokuthula." On hearing the news Vigil supporters broke into the mourning
song "Aigaro zvakanaka nevamwe". Coincidently, Sihle was 34 - now the life
expectancy of a Zimbabwean woman.
So a sad day for us, despite the lovely sunshine. Many passers-by stopped
to share our anguish. More and more people are becoming aware of the
catastrophe unfolding in Zimbabwe: rarely a day passes without reports of
torture, death and destruction.
We are confident something new will be born out of this. Our job is to keep
on reminding people about the situation in Zimbabwe, for instance how absurd
it is that, with the support of the African lobby, Zimbabwe is likely to be
the next Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Commission. If the
Zimbabwe regime is sustainable, God help us all.
The music was particularly vibrant today. Moses, Arnold and others made the
drums sound from Trafalgar Square to Covent Garden and down to the Thames.
Today was baby Zizi's 5th visit to the Vigil - he is becoming a seasoned
activist. Ian's Vigil blog: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil has
acquired 98 friends since he set it up in December (check Vigil diary of
16/12/06). It brought a supporter to the Vigil on 31st March. She writes on
the blog "The Vigil was great! Great to dance and be joyful in the midst of
PS after our comment last week about the Embassy leaving all its lights on,
we noticed today that it was shrouded in darkness. Glad to see they read
our diary. Come and join us.
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: 63 signed the register.
There will be no Central London Zimbabwe Forum on Monday 7th May because it
is a public holiday. Next forum: Monday 14th May at 7.30 pm.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Mail and Guardian
06 May 2007 10:25
A Zimbabwean court has ordered the release of two opposition
lawyers arrested in the capital last week after challenging a ministerial
certificate, defence lawyers said on Sunday.
The lawyers, Alec Muchadehama and partner Andrew Makoni, were
arrested late on Friday after challenging the certificate issued by Home
Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi barring the courts from granting bail to their
"Justice [Tedias] Karwi ordered that they be released as he said
their arrest was unlawful," advocate Eric Matinenga told Agence
The lawyers were representing a member of Parliament for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and 12 other activists
accused of petrol bombing government properties and other privately owned
Mohadi had issued the certificate saying the 13 activists should
remain in prison as they had gone to South Africa for military training in
South Africa and police were still investigating the case.
However, Muchadehama and Makoni said in court papers the
ministerial certificate had been irregularly issued.
"The certificate produced by the minister is senseless, unlawful
and ineffectual," the lawyers said.
Lawrence Chibwe, secretary for the Law Society of Zimbabwe, said
the court order was issued late on Saturday, but the two lawyers were still
"By last night the two lawyers were still in jail," Chibwe said.
"We do not know why, they are still behind bars, but we are
trying to have them released." - Sapa-AFP
By Mark Salter, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:43am BST 06/05/2007
In Zimbabwe, those who have foreign currency can laugh off the scary
price tags, Mark Salter finds on a trip home. For everyone else, inflation
makes life hell
A warm and sultry Friday night at the Holiday Inn, Bulawayo. Soft
music complementing the gentle clink of crockery and glasses in the
luxurious dining room. A muted drone of conversation.
Aaahh, this is the life, say I as I crack open another ice-cold
Zambesi lager. But hang on, is this not Zimbabwe, that ravaged fief of the
evil Robert Mugabe? The land of thuggish police breaking up opposition
rallies with whips and batons and guns?
The land of a bankrupt economy and 2,200 per cent inflation, where
unemployment has reached an unbelievable 80 per cent?
Indeed it is, but all that seems so far away... until the bill comes.
All this good living has a price... and that price is a bill for Z$360,000 I
didn't even blink.
Earlier that day, we had taken my mother out to lunch for her 90th
birthday to the magnificent Nesbitt Castle hotel in the southern suburbs.
A simple affair: chicken breast, two chicken kebabs, beef strogonoff,
three puds, couple of beers and a glass of local wine.
The bill then was Z$1,135,000. It took half an hour to count out all
the notes. As the official exchange rate is about Z$500 to the £1, it should
have been an awesome £2,270. Actually, it cost a very reasonable £28.
The day before, we had tea at a garden café. Three cups of tea and two
chocolate cakes: Z$84,000 - could that really come to £170?
Of course not. We weren't paying at the official rate. We were dining
and drinking off the black market, what the locals smilingly call "the
parallel market", where £1 buys Z$40,000. Zimbabweans prefer US dollars, but
any currency will do.
Straight after arriving at Bulawayo airport, a friend took us to see a
nice young man in the office of his supermarket, the governor of the
(unofficial) Bank of Bulawayo, Smiley Super-market branch.
I handed over US$200, he shovelled Z$4 million across the table in
wads of Z$50,000 and Z$10,000 notes.
''Life is not too bad here,'' he said, ''if you have money.'' You can
buy anything you want in his supermarket: Drambuie at Z$1.74 million. Bread
at Z$7,700. The average price of a beer is Z$20,000. I don't mind paying 50p
for a beer.
The true exchange rate is determined solely by the market, although it
is subject to wild fluctuation, especially when companies go out on to the
street to buy up foreign exchange to service their mounting debts.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority did this recently, pushing
up the price of the US dollar to Z$28,000, up from around Z$20,000.
Gideon Gono, the governor of Zimbabwe's (official) Reserve Bank, has
finally come to realise this, and while steadfastly refusing to devalue the
Zimbabwe dollar, has announced the creation of a "drought mitigation and
economic stabilisation fund", by which the bank will pay exporters, gold
miners and tobacco farmers the base rate times 60 for their foreign
He hopes that this will encourage everyone to channel their foreign
exchange through the bank and not through the supermarket.
After all, remittance income from the vast Zimbabwean diaspora - an
estimated three million Zimbabweans live in South Africa alone - reached
US$1.2 billion last year.
Fine for those with families abroad, but anyone without access to
forex struggles to buy even the basics. A labourer earns about Z$300,000 a
month (about £7.50); a nurse Z$450,000 (£11); a teacher Z$500,000 (£12.50).
The official poverty level is Z$1 million (£25) a month. And just to
rub salt into their many wounds, the Inland Revenue has left unaltered the
top-level tax rate for so long that even the labourer pays 40 per cent
Salaries have to be adjusted nearly every month, but they can never
keep pace with inflation. A friend in the pharmaceutical trade told me he
adjusts his prices by 25 per cent every fortnight. A quote from the plumber
is open for just eight hours.
I had not been back to Bulawayo, city of my birth, for eight years.
Nothing on the surface had changed except that some pockets now bulged with
Monopoly money, the roads were more pot-holed, the people looked tired,
their spirit damaged but not yet broken. The power cuts are accepted
philosophically and with candles at the ready.
Zimbabwe works, against all odds, in a two-tier system: on one tier
are those with either huge salaries or access to foreign funds for whom the
ever-increasing prices are little more than an inconvenience.
On the other tier are the rest, who must scavenge for a living in the
fetid townships, or mass-density housing, as it is politely called. For them
a car is a luxury, even if it is a 1960s Ford Anglia or a 1970s Peugeot.
Yet there is no shortage of gleaming, gas-guzzling 4x4s in the
showrooms (or speedboats for towing behind them if you wanted to head off to
Lake Kariba for the weekend). Petrol is freely available now that the
government has thrown open the market. We bought it at Z$24,500 (61p) a
If one were able to avoid any contact with the desperately poor
(impossible, of course), life could seem pretty good in Zimbabwe.
Our hosts in Bulawayo warned us to take extra care in locking the car
and guarding against theft, but even with the horrendous poverty and the
seething bitterness that must exist, there was little evidence of crime.
Not like in Johannesburg for example, where I stayed on my way to
There, my hosts picked me up from the airport with a checklist of
precautions: all windows up, doors locked, and some sage advice about what
to do if we are car-jacked: volunteer to drive for the thieves if they want
to take you, then crash the car as soon as possible, preferably at 80km an
hour (about 50mph); the safest, most effective speed.
Bulawayo lives in a time warp; perhaps it is the cost of petrol that
prompts drivers to cruise along at about 20mph, perhaps just the relaxed
pace of life. But there isn't much traffic around; no pressure, no sense of
They had good rains this year, too, so the trees are green and the
lawns are watered; just like it was in the "old days".
Those are days that the people of Bulawayo believe can be recaptured.
But for the moment, they endure their surreal world, waiting for The Change,
for when Mugabe finally goes.
Sitting in the Holiday Inn that evening, I couldn't help recalling
scenes from Hotel Rwanda, or The Last King of Scotland: people living a life
they know they ought not to lead; a life of luxury on a small stage, while
outside, the war creeps closer.
Sun 6 May 2007
MURDO MACLEOD POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TWO of Scotland's leading artists have threatened to return their honorary
degrees from Edinburgh University unless the institution immediately strips
Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe of his own award.
In a dramatic escalation of the campaign to remove the dictator's doctorate
in education, composer James MacMillan and writer Liz Lochhead have said
they are considering returning their awards unless Edinburgh revokes the
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main Zimbabwean opposition, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is expected to visit the UK this week
and meet with senior British political figures to discuss the situation in
On the eve of Tsvangirai's departure, his chief adviser on foreign affairs
urged the university to act quickly and called on others who have received
honorary awards to send theirs back if Edinburgh fails to act speedily.
Scotland on Sunday revealed last month that Edinburgh University was taking
the first steps to remove the doctorate awarded to Mugabe in 1984 in the
initial euphoria over independence and majority rule in the country.
Edinburgh University has assembled a team of three "wise men" whose task it
is to investigate and prepare the case for Mugabe's degree to be removed.
However, the institution has come in for criticism for failing to act
rapidly and decisively on removing the award, despite having changed the
rules to allow honorary degrees to be revoked.
Returning an honorary degree in protest is a rare, although not
unprecedented, form of protest.
In 2004, scientist Sir Harry Kroto, a Nobel laureate, was so incensed that
Exeter University was closing its chemistry department, he sent back his
honorary degree in protest at what he saw as the marginalisation of the
MacMillan said: "I am certainly thinking about it, and it is something I am
reflecting on. This award has a powerful significance, and for an important
institution like Edinburgh to maintain this connection is a slight on the
"Mugabe is odious and the university should have nothing to do with him, and
those left-wing liberals who feted him in the 1980s, when it was well known
what kind of a person he was, should now reflect on their mistake."
Lochhead said: "I would certainly think about it [returning her degree],
although it's not something I would take at all lightly. The honorary degree
is a wonderful thing to have and it means a lot to me, and it symbolises
those who nominated me for it. But I do think that the university should
remove his [Mugabe's] award, and if the mechanisms are there, it should act
Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, Tsvangirai's senior adviser on foreign
affairs - and a university lecturer - criticised what he saw as Edinburgh's
failure to act quickly on the matter.
Mukonoweshuro said: "Edinburgh University should act now to remove Mugabe's
degree and they should not delay. It would be a shame for any university to
have Robert Mugabe as an honorary graduate. And others who have honorary
degrees from the university should not want to be associated with Robert
Mugabe in this way and I would advise them to return them in protest at
"I am a professor and a dean of faculty. I have dealt with the issue of
honorary degrees myself and I understand their situation. But it is very
clear that Mugabe does not deserve the approval of the university and the
university should not want to associate itself with him. At the moment I am
speaking to you I do not know what is going to happen to me in the next
hour. Mr Mugabe has gangs of vigilantes going around beating people up."
While Edinburgh University says its 'wise men' are aware of the situation in
Zimbabwe and are "actively reviewing" Mugabe's degree, it is understood that
some insiders are concerned that revoking the award might set a precedent
whereby honorary degrees could be removed by popular pressure and lobbying.
They believe that the university authorities need to build a rigorous
academic case to remove the award.
Last week, the international watchdog Human Rights Watch urged South African
President Thabo Mbeki and other southern African leaders to step up pressure
on the Zimbabwean government to end massive - and escalating - human rights
The organisation said Mbeki - who was recently appointed by southern African
leaders to mediate in the crisis - should make human rights central.
Mugabe has intensified his crackdown on the opposition movement last March,
with police seriously beating its leaders. He has become increasingly
Otto Saki, a leading human rights lawyer, on 3 May 2007 said disregard of
the rule of law was fast turning into a culture in Zimbabwe as characterised
by the unlawful arrests, detention and torture of journalists.
Speaking during the World Press Freedom Day commemorations in Harare , Saki
said the situation was even more worrying as lawyers were also having
difficult accessing clients who include journalists who would have been
arrested while conducting their professional duties.
"Journalists are becoming an endangered species in Zimbabwe while the
unlawful arrests, abductions and kidnapping of journalists are becoming a
culture which in our view is very worrying," he said.
He also lamented the unethical conduct of some journalists notwithstanding
the selective application of the law when it comes to the arrests and
detention of journalists. Saki, however, said difficult and trying times
demand individuals who remain focused in what they want to achieve adding
that there was nothing treasonous in seeking regime change. He said regime
change was simply about coming up with a democratic constitution, free and
fair elections and accountable governance.
The meeting, convened by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) which
comprises MISA-Zimbabwe , Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and the Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe also resolved to petition the government over
the deteriorating media and freedom of expression environment in the wake of
the continued harassment, unlawful arrests, detention and confiscation of
equipment belonging to accredited journalists by state agents.
Journalists noted with concern the deafening silence on the part of the
government and the Ministry of Information and Publicity in particular and
the state media in view of these wanton acts of impunity against
journalists, some of whom are duly accredited as required under the
repressive and restrictive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
MAZ was also tasked with coming up with awards that would be presented to
outstanding journalists on World Press Freedom Day to give the event more
Daily Times, Pakistan
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and his human rights commissioner, Louise
Arbor, made a good start when they spoke out about the abuses in Zimbabwe
this March. The UN could take the next step by sending in a mission to
review, monitor, and call for an end to abductions and torture, and to
protect human rights defenders
I had never seen a combat machine gun in a civilian hospital until the day I
went to Harare's Avenues Clinic to visit two women, pro-democracy leaders
who had just survived a brutal, methodical beating at the hands of the
"We went through unspeakable torture. Each time that night when we heard the
sound of boots returning, our bowels loosened," said Grace Kwinjeh of the
ordeal she and Sekai Holland, 64, underwent.
Now they were attempting to heal while under armed guard, hearing those same
boots approaching their bedsides intermittently throughout the night.
Zimbabwe's "3/11" - the day 50 people set out to attend a prayer meeting but
ended up suffering hours of torture by security agents - shocked the world
and raised hopes that President Robert Mugabe's impunity might at last be
halted. But barely a month later, the television news cameras are pointing
elsewhere, and international leaders are switching off their phones,
declining to hear the shrill cries coming out of Zimbabwe.
Why? There are two reasons. First, southern African leaders have told the
world that the Zimbabwe problem must be left to them to address; and second,
the new victims of Mugabe's crackdown are "smaller" people - street level
pro-democracy organizers, known in their communities but scarcely recognized
in the neighbouring district, let alone in the wider world.
At least 600 of them have been abducted and tortured by state terror agents
this year. Far from being chastened by all the attention, Mugabe's regime
has stepped up its efforts, invading homes at night, picking off local
leaders and activists and taking them to cells in isolated police stations.
Officers who protest are court-martialled and transferred to remote
stations. A journalist has recently been murdered. And lest they protest too
loudly, non-governmental organizations have been warned that they may lose
their license to operate.
The world has been told - as so often during the past seven years - to put
matters in the hands of South African President Thabo Mbeki's quiet
diplomacy. Yet the repression and violence have only intensified since Mbeki
received his mandate from his neighbouring heads of state. Far from
condemning Mugabe, they called for the "lifting of all forms of sanctions
against Zimbabwe" and insisted that the scandalously rigged elections of the
past six years had been free and fair.
Small wonder that Mugabe was emboldened, and that terror squads now openly
brag to their victims that there will be no opposition left by the time of
the elections next year.
The efforts of those progressive African leaders who are seeking a solution
to the Zimbabwe crisis are, of course, welcome. But, while African solutions
for the constitutional, electoral, and economic questions that the country
faces are sought and debated, the reality of torture and abductions is an
urgent matter that literally cries out for immediate intervention. Does not
the international community have a responsibility to protect?
In her seminal 2003 book America and the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power
warned that when it comes to preventing loss of life and the torture of
groups and individuals at the hands of armed, predatory regimes, the world
community always does too little too late.
Yet in 2005, the United Nations Security Council rightly decided to discuss
Operation Murambatsvina, under which the Zimbabwe government destroyed the
homes of 700,000 people and the livelihoods of at least 20 percent of
Zimbabwe's poor population. Now, Zimbabwe is again at a point where the UN
needs to act to end the escalating abductions and torture.
South Africa's UN ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, argues that Zimbabwe's crisis
is not an appropriate matter for the Security Council, because it does not
threaten international peace and security. Yet Mbeki himself has spoken of
the huge humanitarian "burden" on his country as a result of the chaos next
door. Indeed, three million Zimbabweans have escaped into neighbouring
countries, fuelling increased poverty, crime, and xenophobia.
We must learn from history. Ambassador Kumalo undoubtedly approved when the
UN General Assembly passed its resolution of September 30, 1974, against
South Africa. Yet it was not premised on apartheid's threat to security, but
on its serious violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In UN Security Council resolutions passed this year on Somalia, Haiti, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, and others, the Security Council has
appropriately observed that serious human rights abuses pose a threat to
peace and security in the regions where those states are situated. Zimbabwe's
crisis meets this standard.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and his human rights commissioner, Louise
Arbor, made a good start when they spoke out about the abuses in Zimbabwe
this March. The UN could take the next step by sending in a mission to
review, monitor, and call for an end to abductions and torture, and to
protect human rights defenders. This falls clearly within the UN's
responsibility to protect, no matter what local diplomatic initiatives
African leaders undertake and regardless of how South Africa feels about it.
It is unconscionable that no one, so far, has been willing to try to stop
the perpetrators of Zimbabwe's terror. -DT-PS
Tawanda Mutasah is the Executive Director of the Open Society Initiative for