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Zimbabwe: Government Intensifies Crackdown on Dissent

(New York, November 1, 2006) – In reaction to a recent wave of protests against deteriorating social and economic conditions in the country, the Zimbabwean government has intensified its campaign to suppress peaceful dissent, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

" When Zimbabweans engage in peaceful protest, the government responds with brutal repression. "
Georgette Gagnon, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch
The 28-page report, “‘You Will Be Thoroughly Beaten’: The Brutal Suppression of Dissent in Zimbabwe,” reveals the repressive tactics that the government has used against civil society activists in the past year. Human Rights Watch has documented systematic abuses against activists, including excessive use of force by police during protests, arbitrary arrests and detention, and the use of torture and mistreatment by police and intelligence officials.  
“When Zimbabweans engage in peaceful protest, the government responds with brutal repression,” said Georgette Gagnon, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities use torture, arbitrary arrest and detention to deter activists from engaging in their right to freely assemble and express their views.”  
Political, social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe have deteriorated considerably in recent years. Civil society organizations have increasingly expressed concerns at the worsening conditions by engaging in peaceful protests and demonstrations. The government’s response has been heavy-handed and brutal. Police have violently disrupted peaceful protests by beating demonstrators with batons and in some cases rifle butts.  
On September 25, for example, police violently disrupted a peaceful march by some 500 activists from the National Constitutional Assembly in Harare. Riot police armed with batons stopped the march, asked the activists to sit down, and proceeded to beat them one at a time with batons before ordering them to leave. During the beatings, a number of people panicked, which led to a stampede that injured about 24 people, seven of them seriously.  
Police have also used laws such as the Public Order and Security Act and the Miscellaneous Offences Act to justify the arbitrary arrest and detention of hundreds of civil society activists around the country. After arrest, most of the activists are released within hours, but some are held for days, often without charge. Others are brought before the judicial authorities to answer charges that, in many cases, are dismissed by the courts.  
Civil society activists who had been detained told Human Rights Watch that they were often held in overcrowded and filthy conditions, with human waste on the floor and blankets infested with lice. The activists have sometimes been denied legal counsel and access to food, water and needed medical assistance.  
Human Rights Watch also documented acts of police torture and mistreatment of activists while in detention. Police have subjected detainees to severe beatings that involve punching, kicking and striking with batons, beatings on the soles of the feet, repeated banging of detainees’ heads against walls, and shackling in painful positions. Civil society activists told Human Rights Watch that police and intelligence officers interrogated them during these beatings, and then accused them of belonging to the opposition and trying to overthrow the government.  
“During interrogation, they beat me with baton sticks, clenched fists and kept kicking me,” a student activist told Human Rights Watch. “I was being beaten every night. Every night they would threaten me and say, ‘We will kill you tonight.”  
“Each night they would come and they would strip me naked and then handcuff me with my hands between my legs so that I would not be able to move while they beat me,” said the activist, who was detained for four days in May by police in the northeastern town of Bindura. “Sometimes they would be three people beating me, then two, or at times four. I was being accused of trying to facilitate regime change and working for the opposition.”  
The report also highlights the brutal police assault of 15 trade unionists from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions at Matapi police station in Harare on September 13 after they participated in peaceful demonstrations to protest poor working conditions and the deteriorating economic situation. At the police station, a group of five police officers took the unionists in pairs to a room and proceeded to beat them with batons, and punch and kick them. The beatings, which lasted for between 15 and 20 minutes, were so severe that a number of the trade unionists lost consciousness. They sustained serious injuries ranging from fractured limbs to extensive bruising, deep cuts to the head, and perforated eardrums.  
“The police torture and mistreatment of civil society activists is not only deeply disturbing; it’s illegal under Zimbabwean as well as international law,” Gagnon said. “The government must immediately investigate these abuses and bring those responsible to justice.”  
Police and intelligence officers also routinely target human rights lawyers and activists who try to expose abuses of human rights in an effort to prevent them from doing their work. The lawyers and activists are subjected to sustained harassment and intimidation in the form of verbal attacks in the state-run media, and death threats over the phone by people purporting to work for the government.  
The Zimbabwean government has an obligation to respect basic freedoms and human rights under both domestic and international law. These rights include the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  
Human Rights Watch called upon the government of Zimbabwe to end the practice of arbitrary arrests and detentions, and to stop the use of excessive force by the police. The government should also investigate all allegations of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and bring the perpetrators to justice, Human Rights Watch said.  


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MDC behind plot to kill Mugabe, court told

Zim Online

Wednesday 01 November 2006

      MUTARE - The trial of an ex-soldier accused of plotting to assassinate
President Robert Mugabe finally began on Tuesday in Mutare city, with a
Zimbabwe army major drawing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party into the matter, claiming it was behind the plan to kill the

      Peter Michael Hitschmann, a soldier in the former white government of
Rhodesia - Zimbabwe's name before independence in 1980 - is being charged
with violating the Public Order and Security Act (POSA that outlaws
possession of weapons for the purpose of committing banditry, insurgency,
sabotage or terrorism.

      His trial failed to kick off on two previous occasions in the past two
weeks after the state produced fresh weapons and ammunition as exhibits but
which defence lawyers said were unknown to their client.

      But the defence later relented, allowing submission of the new
weaponry as exhibits to open the way for the trial to begin before High
Court Judge Alfas Chitakunye.

      Zimbabwe army Major Israel Phiri, testifying for the state, told a
packed courtroom that Hitschmann approached him with the intention of
enlisting him into the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement (ZFM), a shadowy outfit
which the state claims is out to overthrow the government.

      Phiri said Hitschmann sent a short message on his mobile phone
requesting that the two meet in Mutare city.

      "I queried why a white man who did not want to disclose his name
wanted to see me," Phiri told the court.

      The army said he became suspicious and immediately advised his
superiors at the Zimbabwe Defence Forces headquarters.

      Phiri said he met Hitschmann, first at Holiday Inn hotel in the city
centre and later at Cecil Kopje game conservancy overlooking the city, only
after his commanders had given him the go-ahead to do so.

      The army major claimed that Hitschmann told him that he was working
for a military group aligned to the MDC and that wanted to overthrow the
government through military means because the political wing of the
opposition party had failed to do so through the ballot.

      The MDC has denied it has a military wing or that it is related to the
ZFM. The opposition party also says it has no intentions of removing the
government through military means.

      Phiri said Hitschmann told him that the operation would not be a
prolonged military campaign but a "hard hitting commando like operation" to
decapitate the ruling ZANU PF party and government by murdering Mugabe and
other key figures of his government and party.

      The major, who said he was promised US$500 per month for his
co-operation and also a Mozambican visa to enable him to flee the country
should the assassination plot flop, said he subsequently met Hitschmann on
several occasions during which he was told that funds to finance the plot
would come from an unnamed source in Britain.

      The trial continues tomorrow with Phiri giving more evidence for the
      Hitschmann was initially arrested last March together with MDC
officials that included Mutare North legislator Giles Mutsekwa.

      The group was accused of conspiring to murder Mugabe, businessman and
ZANU PF activist Esau Mupfumi and ZANU PF Chipinge South legislator Enock
Porusingazi during the 21st February Movement celebrations held in Mutare to
mark Mugabe's 82nd birthday.

      The state later dropped charges against Mutsekwa, MDC Manicaland
provincial youth chairman Knowledge Nyamhoka, party treasurer Brian James,
activist Thando Sibanda and four ex-policemen Peter Nzungu, Wellington
Tsuro, Jerry Maguta and Garikai Chikutya. - ZimOnline

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Farmers yearn for 'good old days'

Zim Online

Wednesday 01 November 2006

      ODZI - In this prime farming area of Manicaland, renowned for its top
quality tobacco and wheat harvests, talk this week among farmers centres on
the "El Nino" factor contained in the latest weather report.

      Dennis Morris, a leading tobacco merchant in Zimbabwe, warned in a
weather forecast released at the weekend that the development of an "El
 Nino" weather condition is likely to be prevalent in southern Africa's
rainfall patterns this season.

      Zimbabwe's farmers, especially those engaged in medium-to-large-scale
operations place a high premium on weather forecasts such as the Dennis
Morris Report, studying them religiously once they are released.

      "Tropical Pacific and atmospheric conditions indicate the development
of weak El Nino conditions for the rest of 2006 into early 2007," says the
latest Dennis Morris report.

      The report says temperatures in southern Africa's coastal areas were
warmer than normal because of this "El Nino" development.

      "El Nino" is a weather phenomenon previously blamed for extreme
droughts and massive floods around the world.

      In 1992, the "El Nino" factor brought a prolonged drought in southern
Africa, which led to hunger and starvation in Zimbabwe, and torrential rains
in normally mild regions around the globe.

      Weather experts say the "El Nino" factor starts with a warm current in
the Pacific Ocean, off South America, that ultimately affects weather
patterns around the world as it joins currents in other oceans and seas.

      The Dennis Morris report forecasts November 4-11 as the start of the
rain season.

      The report forecasts Manicaland and Mashonaland East and West
provinces, which make up Zimbabwe's eastern and north-east regions, to
receive the bulk of the rain - estimated at 35mm to 100 mm - while the rest
of the country is projected to get much less.

      While tobacco and wheat growers here in Odzi, about 50 km west of the
eastern border city of Mutare await the rains with abated breath, some of
them are worried about the extreme nature of the "El Nino" weather patterns.

      "It is obviously a good thing we'll be finally getting a break in this
heat wave, but we're keeping our fingers crossed the rains will not come
with floods because of this El Nino," says Tom Holloway, a tobacco grower.

      "Problems with El Nino weather are the extremes involved, such as too
much rain that is counter-productive, or drought which is equally terrible.
We're all hoping we won't get either," he says.

      Says the Dennis Morris report: "(There is) a greater likelihood of
normal to above normal rainfall in eastern Zimbabwe, the greater part of
Mozambique and most of South Africa."

      The southern part of Malawi, northern Zambia, the southern and central
parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and the southern halves of
Madagascar and Mauritius are also forecast to get "normal to above normal"

      While farmers in the north-eastern part of Zimbabwe worry about
possible El Nino-induced flooding, those in the rest of the country are
concerned whether they will receive enough rain at all this season.

      The outlook for the greater part of Zimbabwe is of a "high probability
for normal to below normal rainfall", the report says.

      The "below normal rains" forecast extends to southeast Angola,
northern South Africa, much of Zambia, northern Malawi, southern Tanzania,
north-east Namibia and the other halves of Madagascar and Mauritius.

      Much of Zimbabwe has been experiencing a heat wave over the past
fortnight, occasionally broken by light, scattered showers, raising concerns
among a majority of the population that the country could be headed for a

      Zimbabwe is largely an agro-based country whose economy is at the
mercy of the vagaries of the weather. As such, majorities among its
population who are into farming one way or the other are equally at the
mercy of the weather.

      President Robert Mugabe's government, after months of denying the
country faces shortages of the staple maize grain due to poor harvests in
previous seasons has now begun importing from South Africa and Zambia.

      The grain imports are taking place at a time that international donor
organisations, that in the past have saved many Zimbabweans from starvation
through the provision or drought relief grain, are scaling back on their
contribution in the coming season due to budgetary constraints.

      As farmers in Odzi looked forward to rains falling this weekend, some
of them referred nostalgically to the "good, old days" when weather patterns
were more dependable and the start of the planting season more definite.

      The changing weather patterns underway are, however, not unique in
Zimbabwe or the region, but are being experienced around the world while
experts in climatic changes debate possible causes.

      The release into the atmosphere of "greenhouse gases" - carbon
dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases - has been identified as one
of the main causes of increasing temperatures around the world, also
      known as global warming.

      The noxious gases released into the atmosphere are reportedly also
responsible for increasing the size of the hole in the Ozone Layer, which
protects the earth's atmosphere, from dangerous rays from out of space.

      The combined effects of global warming and Ozone Layer depletion, one
group of scientists contend, helps explain the extremism and changing nature
of weather patterns underway. There is, however, no conclusive evidence yet
to support the assertions.

      And, of course, the "El Nino" factor is being blamed for the shifting
weather patterns.

      For now, the farmers in Odzi are eager for the rains to start falling,
minus the "El Nino" factor. Debate on what's behind the shifting weather
patterns can wait for the moment. - ZimOnline

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Army compensates 14 shooting victims

Zim Online

Wednesday 01 November 2006

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) on Tuesday paid out hefty
sums of money to 14 people who were injured during a mock battle drill at a
provincial agricultural show two years ago.
      The 14 were injured on September 18 2004 when some soldiers fired live
ammunition during the Marondera Agricultural Show in Mashonaland East

      ZNA spokesman Colonel Simon Tsatsi confirmed that the army was
compensating the victims of the shooting but refused to disclose how much
each person was getting.

      "The compensation is in monetary terms but I can't disclose to you how
much each person got as I don't have the figures with me right now," said
ZNA spokesman Colonel Simon Tsatsi.

      "(But) it is in line with the government's compensation guidelines
under the ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare," Tsatsi

      Sources within the army however told ZimOnline that the army would pay
about Z$800 000 to the victim with the severest of injuries with the least
paid victim getting $600 000.

      Tsatsi said some of the soldiers who shot people at the show would be
subjected to disciplinary action under the Defence Act.

      The compensation of the 14 comes barely a week after the High Court
ordered the army to compensate a woman whose husband was among three workers
at ZISCOSTEEL who were shot dead while demonstrating for more pay about five
years ago.

      Justice Francis Bere ordered the ZNA to pay the woman over $2 million
plus interest over the killing of her husband. - ZimOnline

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Municipal police loot food for clean-up victims

Zim Online

                 Wednesday 01 November 2006

      HARARE - Senior Harare municipal police officers looted food worth
over $97 000 meant for last year's clean-up victims and suspended four
worker representatives for exposing the theft, a council audit report

      Harare's municipal police and soldiers were at the forefront in
demolishing city backyard cottages, shanty towns and informal business
kiosks during the widely condemned Operation Murambatsvina (Operation Drive
out Rubbish) that left at least 700 000 people without shelter or means of

      A United Nations report compiled after the demolitions said another
2.4 million people were also indirectly affected by the exercise which
President Robert Mugabe said was necessary to rid Zimbabwean cities of
squalor and crime.

      According to the audit report, dated 17th August 2006, the municipal
police officers helped themselves to tinned food rations meant for victims
of the clean-up exercise during breakfast and council management meetings.

      The food was donated by international aid agencies for distribution to
the poor and homeless after the home demolition exercise.

      "The allegations contained in the anonymous letter have been proved to
be true. The municipal police managers confessed to having consumed
Operation Murambatsvina tinned food rations worth $97 142, 37.

      "No authority was sought for the consumption," says the report.

      The four council workers who blew the whistle on their colleagues were
however suspended without pay, in a clear case of victimisation.

      The four, G Jembe, H Mazamnhi, M Sadomba, I Sigauke were suspended
last June and are now pursuing legal action to be reinstated to their

      Chairwoman of the state-appointed commission running Harare Sekesai
Makwavarara was not immediately available for comment on the matter.
      The Zimbabwean government has been reluctant to allow food aid into
the country for victims of the clean-up exercise.

      More than 30 tonnes of food donated by the South African Council of
Churches took over a month to be handed over to the clean-up victims because
the authorities would not timeously clear the aid. - ZimOnline

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SA police say 52 Zimbabweans arrested for armed robbery

Zim Online

Wednesday 01 November 2006

      JOHANNESBURG - South African police on Tuesday said they had arrested
52 Zimbabweans over the past two weeks for alleged armed robbery.

      Police Superintendent Fanie Molapo told the media yesterday that the
Zimbabwean criminals were mostly targeting supermarkets in Johannesburg .

      Molapo said a Zimbabwean was killed by the police last Saturday after
the gang had robbed a bank and petrol filling station in Johannesburg .

      South African police have in the past accused foreigners, particularly
Zimbabweans, of fanning violent crime in the country.

      A leading South African newspaper earlier this year said thousands of
former Zimbabwean soldiers who are quitting the army because of poor pay and
tough economic conditions at home were at the forefront in perpetrating
crime in South Africa . - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe NGOs Break Off Talks With Harare On Human Rights Panel


By Patience Rusere
      31 October 2006

Under heavy pressure from civic groups, Zimbabwe's National Association for
Non-Governmental Organizations on Tuesday pulled out of talks with the
government and United Nations officials on the creation of a human rights

A broad cross-section of Zimbabwean civil society groups held a meeting
Monday in which more militant civil society organizations urged NANGO to
sever talks with Harare on grounds that engagement was pointless so long as
rights abuses continued.

The U.S. based watchdog organization Human Rights Watch issued a report
Tuesday saying the Zimbabwean government has escalated violent repression of
protests. The government dismissed the report as coming from a longstanding
Western critic.

Opponents of engagement with the government of President Robert Mugabe
included highly influential civic organizations including the National
Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition.

Such groups want to see a clear undertaking by Harare to cease all human
rights violations before giving a green light to talks. The decision was a
setback for the U.N. country team, which had encouraged engagement with the
government. U.N. officials in Zimbabwe could not be reached for comment on
the NANGO decision.

NANGO spokesman Fambai Ngirande told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his organization has set conditions for talks to

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Parliamentary Panel Seeks Prosecution of Zimbabwean Trade Minister


By Blessing Zulu
      31 October 2006

The Zimbabwean parliament's committee on industry and trade, probing alleged
top-level corruption at and around the moribund Zimbabwe Iron and Steel
Company, will table findings of its investigation Wednesday, sources close
to the committee said.

But the committee has still not been able to put its hands on a report
prepared by the powerful National Economic Conduct Inspectorate staffed by
Finance Ministry and security staff, which is said to document corruption
all the way up to the cabinet.

The committee report, a copy of which was obtained by VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe, urges the full parliament to invoke its fullest powers to its
prosecute Minister of Trade Obert Mpofu on charges that he gave
"contradicting, false" evidence to the panel.

It was from Mpofu that the committee first learned of the National Economic
Conduct Inspectorate report which is said to implicate ministers, members of
parliament and top ZISCO managers said to have diverted resources of the
state-owned enterprise.

The investigation arose from the collapse of an agreement with an Indian
steel firm to inject US$400 million into the parastatal over 10 years. The
deal is said to have fallen apart because Zimbabwean officials demanded
stakes in the recapitalized company.

Called before the committee a second time, Mpofu backtracked on his
statement and said the unnamed senior officials he had implicated were not
personally involved in looting ZISCO but merely had ties to companies
connected with the scandal.

The parliamentary report also demands that Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa
supply the committee with a copy of the Economic Conduct Inspectorate report
for study and "if need be take appropriate action with the view to curbing
corruption in the country."

The parliamentary committee report concludes that the collapsed deal between
ZISCO and Global Steel was "fraught with irregularities." It alleges that
Mpofu dismissed the company's management and board and set himself as
principal in the venture.

Some observers see the burgeoning ZISCO scandal - "Steelgate" to Harare
media - as a test of whether President Robert Mugabe is sincere in his
often-stated desire to stamp out widespread official corruption. But Mr.
Mugabe has yet to break silence on the ZISCO scandal, described by some as
the worst since independence in 1980.

However, Transparency International Zimbabwe Chairman Godwill Shana said
that the president's silence at this point may be understood as Mr. Mugabe
must let the legal process take its course before he comments publicly on
the affair.

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Zanu PF retains its stranglehold on rural areas

      By Ian Nhuka in Bulawayo

      Bulawayo-The ruling Zanu PF mantain control in rural Zimbabwe  by
winning 765 of the 849 wards that were contested during the eekend poll,
held amid opposition charges of rigging and political arassment.

      The two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won a
total of 81 wards in the elections that were also marred by widespread voter
apathy. Independent candidates won the remainder.

      Although media reports this week said that the ruling party had
retained its stranglehold on rural areas, they did not specify the number of
wards each of the contesting parties had won as the Zimbabwe Election
Commission was still compiling the data from the ward command centres

      Going into the elections, Zanu - PF had won 566 wards unopposed after
opposition parties faied to field candidates in the areas. This brings
Zanu - PF's rural councillors to 1 331.

      Dozens of MDC members could not secure nomination after they failed to
get support letters from traditional chiefs, known to be ruling party
loyalists. In terms of the Electoral Act people wishing to run in rural ward
elections must get support letters from their chiefs stating that they
reside in areas they want to contest in.

      The MDC estimated that more than 300 of its prospective candidates
could not be nominated as a result of that. The opposition party charged
just before the elections the ruling party officials, including the Minister
of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatius Chombo had
ordered traditional chiefs not to assist MDC members wishing to obtain the
support letters.

      While the Zanu- PF and MDC continued to dominate the political
landscape in the country, smaller opposition fared disastrously in the
elections. Zanu Ndonga, one of the country's oldest parties failed to win a
      ward even in its former Chipinge stronghold, so did Peace Action and
Freedom For All (PAFA) and United People's Party.

      Instead, three independent candidates were elected. Despite oppisition
assertions that the elections were rigged, ZEC
      pronounced the polls as free and fair.In addition to winning in rural
areas, the ruling party also won the Kadoma mayoral election after its
candidate, who was the incumbent, Fani Phiri polled 4614 ballots against
Jonas Ndenda who got 2291 votes. Ndenda was fielded by the main MDC faction
that is loyal to founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai.

      Like in other areas, the Kadoma contest was also  marred with
political violence after a stoning incident on Ndenda's home on the eve of
the elections.The MDC blamed Zanu - PF for the attack. Zanu - PF  has touted
the results as an indication that its popularity is rising in MDC's
Matabeleland and urban strongholds. The weekend rural elections were held
concurrently with some ward by-elections in some urban areas such as
Victoria Falls, Chiredzi, Gwanda, Hwange Local Board and Plumtree which
Zanu - PF won.

      In Matabeleland North, the ruling party won 84 wards while the MDC got
33. While MDC resoundingly confirmed its its control in Binga and Nkayi
districts, Zanu - PF made some modest progress there.

      In Nkayi in Matabeleland North, MDC won 13 wards, with Zanu - PF
winning 11. However, in Matabeleland South, which tends to side with
Zanu -PF, the ruling party took control of all the seven rural district
councils, after capturing 80 wards. The MDC took 19.

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Zimbabwe unionists seek high court ruling on arrests


      Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:28 AM GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe trade union leaders, accused of holding an
illegal protest over wages, said on Monday they would go to the Supreme
Court to challenge the constitutionality of their arrest.

A lawyer for 31 members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
asked a lower magistrate court to allow them to take their case to the
country's highest court.

"The law under which they are being charged is unlawful," lawyer Alec
Muchadehama said. "It was passed unprocedurally and ... the rights of the
accused to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and to protection from
torture have been violated."

"We would like to take the case to the Supreme Court for a ruling on
constitutional issues and for a re-affirmation of the rule of law," he said.

Lawyers for the ZCTU say police assaulted about a dozen unionists, including
several top leaders, following a September 13 demonstration that was quashed
by authorities.

Police have denied the assault charges and say the unionists were in some
cases "heavily resisting arrest", prompting the police to apply "minimum
force to calm the situation".

The union officials were detained in filthy crowded cells, with flowing
sewage, and were not given food or blankets overnight, amounting to torture,
Muchadehama said.

They were held for three days and released on bail.

Muchadehama said the Criminal Codification law invoked against the union
members was rammed through by a parliament dominated by President Robert
Mugabe's ruling party and contained unconstitutional limits on free

A number of constitutional challenges, including efforts to overturn
Zimbabwe's tough media laws and Mugabe's seizures of white-owned farms for
blacks, have failed in the last few years.

The magistrate postponed the ZCTU case to December 4 to allow state
prosecutors to prepare their arguments on the defence bid to go to the
Supreme Court and to answer to charges of torture and inhuman treatment.

Part of the state's case says the unionists were "carrying placards and
shouting political slogans" while ridiculing Mugabe and members of the army
and police, a contravention of Zimbabwe's strict security laws.

The international community has expressed dismay over statements by Zimbabwe
leaders, including Mugabe, as apparently condoning the reported assaults.

Mugabe accuses the ZCTU of working with the main opposition party, but the
labour body says it is fighting for workers hit by an economic recession,
the world's highest inflation rate and chronic shortages of foreign
currency, fuel and food.

Mugabe, 82, denies responsibility for Zimbabwe's woes and says his local
opponents are being manipulated by Western powers he accuses of sabotaging
the economy to pay him back over his forcible redistribution of white-owned
farms among blacks.

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Zimbabwe Churches Ask for Forgiveness

Christian Today, UK

Churches in Zimbabwe have asked the country for forgiveness for their part
in the current crisis, as they admitted that some of their own leaders have
been "accomplices in some of the evils that have brought our nation to this
by Maria Mackay
Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2006, 4:05 (GMT)

Churches in Zimbabwe have asked for forgiveness for their role in the
country's current political and economic crisis and their failure to prevent
the degeneration of Christian morals like peace, justice and forgiveness.

The churches made the appeal to the population Sunday in a church report in
which they asked for forgiveness for failing the nation as it slid into what
they called "a sense of national despair and loss of hope", reports ZWNews.

Church leaders said that principles of peace, justice, forgiveness and
honesty had degenerated and even some church leaders "have been accomplices
in some of the evils that have brought our nation to this condition".

"Clearly we did not do enough as churches to defend these values and raise
an alarm at the appropriate time," they said.

"We confess we have failed because we have not been able to speak with one

The report also called for a new "national vision" while the churches
confessed that they were only now beginning to wake up to their role in
healing six years of social political and economic turmoil.

"In the short term, this involves engaging the government with the purpose
of helping to end the present crisis and quickly return the nation to some
normalcy," the report said.

The churches also appealed to the country, which is 80 per cent Christian,
to reflect on the "dire national situation and the toll it is having ... on
our families, the future of our children and of our nation".

They also called for a free debate on other related issues including the
need to reform heavy-handed security measures, media laws and freedom of

The church leaders also urged constitutional reforms to protect human rights
and to put into place new checks on the power of the government and Robert

"Political intolerance has unfortunately become a culture in Zimbabwe. The
trading of insults, violence with impunity, lawlessness and hate speech" had
become characteristic of the country's political life, they said.

They also sharply criticised the violent seizure of land from white farmers
which had led to "an unrelenting downward spiral and economic meltdown".

"The whole land issue regrettably has resulted in the emergence of a culture
of racial hatred and the alienation of people along racial lines," the
report said.

The churches recommended the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation
Commission in partnership with the churches to address the alleged abuses of
democratic and human rights since 2000 and speed reconciliation.

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Mugabe persecuting Africans, says Masire

Business Day

Posted to the web on: 31 October 2006

Dumisani Muleya


Harare Correspondent

FORMER Botswana president Sir Ketumile Masire has accused Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe of perpetrating serious "political and economic
destruction" in his country.

Masire's criticism reflects the policy of Botswana's president, Festus
Mogae, before his dramatic turnaround earlier this year.

Writing about Zimbabwe in his recently published book, Very Brave or Very
Foolish: Memoirs of an African Diplomat, Masire, one of the region's most
respected statesman, speaks of the "persecution of many Africans and the
destruction of the capacity of the economy to function".

Masire retired in March 1998 after succeeding Botswana's first
post-independence leader, Sir Seretse Khama, in July 1980.

He spurred Botswana through unprecedented economic growth and was later
deployed by the Organisation of African Unity to investigate the Rwanda
genocide and help resolve the Democratic Republic of Congo conflict.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Zimbabwean labour union leaders facing charges of
trying to launch a protest against the worsening economic conditions sought
yesterday to have the case scrapped.

Alec Muchadehama told a magistrate's court in Harare the law the 30 leaders
and members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions were alleged to have
breached violated basic constitutional rights.

Muchadehama said he was filing an appeal in the supreme court. He said the
charges were "too vague and not reasonably justified" in a democratic
society. Sapa-AFP

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Zimbabwe human rights row in Malawi

afrol News / The Chronicle, 30 October - Malawi's Centre for Human Rights
and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has lashed out at Information Minister Patricia
Kaliati for accusing c Malawi's Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) of
"poking their nose in Zimbabwe's problems" saying the Minister needs civic
education to understand that the issue of Zimbabwe is a SADC problem.

CHRR Executive Director Undule Mwakasungula said this Monday in an interview
with 'The Chronicle' in reaction to remarks made by Minister Kaliati Friday
last week. Ms Kaliati accused civil society organisations of intervening in
matters that she said do not concern Malawi instead of looking at own
problems back home.

"Why concentrating on Zimbabwe's problems when we have our own problems
here? They [Zimbabweans] have their own media, civil society etc. The
problems of Zimbabwe are for the people of Zimbabwe," said Minister Kaliati,
referring to the joint press conference CHRR had in Malawi's capital
Lilongwe with a Zimbabwe civil society body, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,
three weeks ago.

But the CHRR Executive Director said Monday that he was disappointed at how
the Minister was viewing the Zimbabwe issue, which he said was a problem for
the whole Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

"Kaliati is mixing up things," said Mr Mwakasungula. "She needs to be civic
educated: Human Rights issues know no border, no boundaries. It is
universal. Zimbabwe's problem is a SADC issue. We are talking about SADC
integration; but how can this be achieved and how can countries in the
region prosper economically if there's no peace in other countries?" queried
Mr Mwakasungula.

He further stressed that civil society would continue to comment on any
issue, be it local or be it from across the borders because human rights
were a global issue. "Just because Kaliati doesn't want to talk about human
rights violations in Zimbabwe, doesn't mean we should all remain quiet,"
said Mr Mwakasungula.

On a lighter note, Minister Kaliati in her attack on civil society further
said it would not be wrong to conclude that civil society was behind the
theft of the Mugabe signpost on the Midima Road, which was named after the
Zimbabwean President.

CHRR and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition three weeks ago told the press in
Lilongwe that SADC leaders had failed the people of Zimbabwe as they
experience the most trying times of the "collapse of the socio-economic and
political set-up" in that country.

A renowned Lilongwe-based activist who preferred anonymity concurred with
CHRR and dismissed Ms Kaliati's remarks as "very unfortunate" and
contradictory as regards international relations. "The whole world has now
become a small village. There is no way one can say what concerns Zimbabwe
is none of our concern. If the Minister really means it, then why did
[Malawi] President [Bingu wa] Mutharika spend time campaigning for Taiwan's
readmission into the UN grouping? Was that not poking one's nose in other
people's business?"

"Besides, why did the President participate in security matters concerning
Côte d'Ivoire just recently? And why are SADC countries concerned about
Darfur? Kaliati needs to be schooled on such matters otherwise I think she
is contradicting Mutharika in his involvement in matters concerning other
countries other than Malawi," said the activist, who runs an organisation
that fights for the women's and children's rights.

President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe government, which is receiving heavy
criticism throughout the world for its lack of compassion for human rights
issues, has banished private media, many civil society organisations and all
other entities fighting for democratic principles that seem to be at odds
with Mr Mugabe's policies.

By Kondani Magombo

© afrol News / The Chronicle

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The ZINASU Weekly Vanguard

From: Eddie Cross
Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 6:53 AM
Subject: The ZINASU Weekly Vanguard

This comes from the students oprganisation. We helped with food for those
arrested last week. They are an active part of the Broad Alliance.



The 25th of October 2006 sent shocks in Zimbabwe when more than 500 students
from colleges in Bulawayo staged a peaceful march from the city Hall to the
governor's office at Mhlahlandlela government complex. The students were
demanding an immediate reversal and review of the current Education Policy
which has turned all institutions of higher and tertiary learning into
commercial business entities. Tuition fees are sky rocketing every semester
beyond the reach of the generality of the student populace. The march was
led by the ZINASU President, Promise Mkwananzi and the Secretary General,
Beloved Chiweshe, who made an address to the students and members of the
public urging them to remain resilient in demanding their rights to
education, food, health and shelter as fundamental. The President further
read the petition which was to be presented to the governor, which outlined
the demands for quality and affordable education. He led the peaceful march
to the Governor's office to submit the petition where the overzealous state
security and police went riotous on the students leading to the arrest of 43
students. The arrested who were detained at the Bulawayo Central Police
station, were however remanded out of custody on free bail to 15 November

Unlawful arrest of students at Masvingo State University

12 Students including ZINASU Vice President, Gideon Chitanga, were on the
23rd of October 2006, arrested and detained by police at Masvingo State
University (MASU) for holding a general meeting, which was termed
Unsanctioned. The ZINASU Vice President was arrested for calling and
addressing a general meeting whose agenda was to articulate on the deepening
crisis at MASU, other state institutions and the nation as a whole. The
meeting was then disrupted by the campus security and the state police after
the students demanded an address from the Vice Chancellor concerning the
short notice postponement of the scheduled SRC elections. The other 8
students including the ZINASU Vice President were later released but the
police further detained the four aspiring candidates for the MASU SRC
elections. The four are still being interrogated for their association with
ZINASU. They were brought before the courts, charged with breach of peace
and inciting public violence under the notorious Public Order and Security
Act (POSA) and were forced to pay unjust fines for their release.

4 suspended, 12 expelled and 1 set to appear before a disciplinary

The neo-colonial fascist regime continued to parade its arrogant idiocy as
it illegally suspended and expelled 16 students in a space of three days.
The University of Zimbabwe suspended four student leaders who included the
student union president Tineyi Mukweva, Secretary General Xaxi Matema,
Maureen Kademaunga and Zwelitini Viki, who are the Information and Publicity
Secretary and the Health and Social Affairs Secretary respectively. In
Bulawayo, the union witnessed with great shock when some of the arrested
students who are from Hillside Teachers college and United College of
Education were expelled upon returning to their respective or rather
irrespective institutions. The 12 expelled students, who had spent 2 days in
the Bulawayo police holding cells, were accused of bringing the name of the
institution into disrepute by participating in the demonstration which was
organized by ZINASU.

Meanwhile the Harare Polytechnic College Student Representative Council
president, Tawanda Gumbi has been called to a disciplinary hearing over the
petition against the poor food quality. The petition was signed by more than
600 students and this did not go down well with the principal. Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights is providing legal assistance to all affected

Vanguard Opinion

By Washington Katema

The visionless National Vision Document
                                                               It's the
Zimbabwe Manhanga and Mugabe want…

I belong to the school of thought that 'processes must protect the content'
. In this regard, I humbly dismiss the pro-ZANU PF national vision document
basing on the simple facts that the process of formulating the document was
non-inclusive and fundamentally flawed. The people, students, included were
not consulted so as the civic society which is basically the ambassador of
the world's poor, the voice of the voiceless and the watch-dog of the
Government. I am also going to highlight some of the loop holes in the
national vision document as I try to outline the tasks of a democratic
movement in eroding an authoritarian regime.

First, democratic institutions must resist integration and guard their
autonomy zones against the regime. In this case the Zimbabwe Council of
Churches, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Catholic
Bishops Conference have failed as they are now being used as cannon fodder
by Mugabe. It is common knowledge that what is right with Mugabe is wrong
with everyone, such as the total and brutal Gukurahundi which left more than
20 000 people dead and many mass graves, Operation Murambatsvina, which left
an unprecedented trail of destruction, the beatings of Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions leaders, an act which was condemned by all and sundry,
Operation Sunrise, which was a clear case of legalized theft by the
government among other cases of madness. Criticizing Mugabe is now
sacrilegious and terms like freedom of speech has been perverted and
criminalized. This church grouping has been swallowed by the vampire regime
and it is also alleged that the government edited the final 'visionless'
national vision document.

It is also a public secret that Mugabe is illegitimate because he stole the
elections of 9-10 June 2000, 30 and 31 March 2002 presidential election and
June 2005 general election. The church grouping is now going out of its way
to legitimize the illegitimacy. Disputing the legitimacy of authoritarian
regime is part of the tasks of any democratic movement trying to erode
authoritarianism. Manhanga and his band of sanctimonious followers must know
better. How are they going to raise the cost of maintaining a dictatorship
when they are now going to bed with the government? How are they going to
create a viable democratic movement when they are not working with other
pro-democracy movements like Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, National
Constitutional Assembly, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the lawyers for human
rights, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, students among others?

 It is true that Mugabe is the problem and also part of the solution, it is
true that eroding an authoritarian regime must include construction of
democracy, it is true that good politicians are the ones who know when to
negotiate but the rebel leader of the rebel regime has proven beyond any
ghost of doubt that he is not committed to the democratization processes in
Zimbabwe. Ask Jonathan Moyo and his Tsholotsho project participants. In the
church initiative Mugabe is just buying time. Given this the civic society
must go to the people and have the masses on their side.

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Zim faces blackouts after thieves hit grid


          October 31 2006 at 11:57AM

      Harare - Parts of Zimbabwe will experience more power cuts after a
grid that receives electricity from neighbouring Mozambique was damaged by
thieves, the national energy board said on Tuesday.

      "Thieves vandalised a grid that carries 300 megawatts from Hydro
Cabora Bassa of Mozambique," James Maridadi, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has said.

      He said the power utility would introduce scheduled power cuts in
western and eastern parts of the country to ensure an even distribution of
power while it carries out repairs costing ZIM$45-million (about

      The electricity disruption should be minimal and normal supplies to
the affected areas should resume on Friday, Maridadi added.

      Zimbabwe imports 40 percent of its power needs: 100 megawatts a month
from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 200 megawatts from Mozambique and up
to 450 and 300 megawatts from South Africa and Zambia respectively.

      Imports are expected to stop in 2007 due to an anticipated power
deficit across southern Africa resulting from increased demand.

      Zimbabwe's once-model economy has been on a downturn for the past five
years, characterised by galloping inflation and shortages of foreign
currency and basic commodities.

      Power supplies have become frequently erratic and families in the
cities are turning to firewood for cooking and heating because of outages. -

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Mugabe camp moves against union opponents

Mail and Guardian

      Godfrey Marawanyika | Harare, Zimbabwe

      31 October 2006 04:06

            Supporters of Robert Mugabe launched a move on Tuesday to oust
anti-government union leaders as a new report by a rights group slammed the
violence used to suppress opposition to the Zimbabwean president.

            The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has been at the
vanguard of the opposition to Mugabe's 26-year rule for more than a decade
and the divisions between the two sides have grown ever more bitter.

            But a new motion filed by Mugabe's own nephew in Parliament
demands the removal of trade union leaders who try to foment unrest against
the government and shows the 82-year-old president is now gearing up for a
final confrontation.

            Leo Mugabe, MP for the western Makonde constituency, said in a
notice to Parliament that he would ask Labour Minister Nicholas Goche to
dissolve the entire executive of the ZCTU for "unethical business

            The motion was formally lodged in Parliament and is now expected
to be debated later this week.

            The lawmaker said a government inquiry had exposed gross
mismanagement and abuse of funds by ZCTU officials, adding that "a new-look
ZCTU" was needed.

            "The new-look ZCTU should concentrate on its core business of
representing workers rather than stayaways that have failed to address
bread-and-butter issues," Leo Mugabe said.

            While legislation is on the statute books to allow the
government to dismiss the ZCTU executive, Mugabe has never before sought to
invoke the power.

            Under the stewardship of the man who went on to become leader of
the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, the ZCTU first proved itself a thorn in
the side of Mugabe with a series of mass street rallies in the late 1990s.

            More recently, the government has invoked the Public Order Act
to prevent any "unauthorised" rallies and has shown a willingness to clamp
down hard on those who refuse to toe the line.

            A mass rally organised by the ZCTU last month was stopped in its
tracks by the security forces who rounded up dozens of organisers, including
ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe and president Lovemore Matombo.

            Allegations that the unionists were subsequently brutally beaten
were detailed in a report released on Tuesday by the New York-based Human
Rights Watch, which also claimed the use of torture and arbitrary arrest was
on the rise.

            "When Zimbabweans engage in peaceful protest, the government
responds with brutal repression," said the group's deputy Africa director
Georgette Gagnon.

            "The authorities use torture, arbitrary arrest and detention to
deter activists from engaging in their right to freely assemble and express
their views."

            A doctor, Reginald Machaba Hove, who examined some of those
arrested told the report's authors he was shocked by the extent of their
injuries at the hands of the security services.

            "I have never seen anything like this before. They were denied
medical access for more than 24 hours. The beating was so callous and hard,"
he said.

            The government trashed the report, saying it was part of a
campaign by the West to tarnish Zimbabwe's image.

            "They have been saying that for the past six years and as
government we don't give a damn about it," said Junior Information Minister
Paul Mangwana.

            Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in
1980, has been unapologetic about the use of force against those who stage
unauthorised demonstrations.

            "When the police say move, move. If you don't move, you invite
the police to use force," he said of September's protests.

            While it was one of Africa's best-performing countries in the
first decade after independence, Zimbabwe has since seen its inflation rate
rocket to a world-record high and about 80% of its people are unemployed.

            A controversial land-reform programme, which saw thousands of
white farmers evicted, and contentious parliamentary polls led to the
European Union and United States imposing a travel embargo on Mugabe and his
inner circle. -- Sapa-AFP

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Human Rights Watch Honors Zimbabwean Lawyer

(HRW/IFEX) - The following is a 30 October 2006 Human Rights Watch press

(New York, October 30, 2006) - Human Rights Watch will give its highest
recognition to Arnold Tsunga, a courageous Zimbabwean human rights lawyer
and activist whose work has highlighted the deteriorating state of human
rights in Zimbabwe, on November 2.

Tsunga is the executive director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, a
leading human rights organization that provides legal representation to
victims of human rights abuses, including human rights defenders who are
often arrested and detained in Zimbabwe. Human Rights Watch has worked
closely with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Tsunga in documenting
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and bringing them to the attention of the
international community.

"Arnold Tsunga provides a voice to those silenced by repression in
Zimbabwe," said Tiseke Kasambala, researcher with Human Rights Watch's
Africa division. "He has shown extraordinary courage and commitment to human
rights in the face of severe persecution by the government of Zimbabwe."

A high-profile defender of the rule of law in Zimbabwe, Tsunga has often
spoken out against government abuses at great personal risk. He has been the
victim of numerous attacks, arrests and death threats.

In January 2006, Tsunga and five others were arrested and charged with
operating a broadcasting service without a license, even though the law
under which they were charged did not apply in their case. The charges
appear to be yet another attempt by the government to intimidate and harass
Tsunga and his colleagues. Tsunga has also been the subject of several
vitriolic verbal attacks in the state-run media.

In March 2002, Tsunga was seized at gunpoint by soldiers, detained for
several hours and then assaulted in front of onlookers. In September of the
same year, he was unlawfully detained and threatened with a gun when he
visited a police station in the town of Chimanimani to represent a client
who had been abducted by government intelligence officers.

In the past six years, the government of Zimbabwe has increasingly turned to
repressive and, at times, violent means to suppress criticism from the
opposition and civil society. Independent media outlets have been closed
down and opposition political parties have been stifled. Police and other
state-sponsored agents routinely intimidate, attack and torture government
critics, including members of civil society organizations, human rights
lawyers, journalists and trade unionists. At the same time, the police have
used repressive laws to silence critical or dissenting voices within civil
society. Human rights abuses continue to take place with impunity; few
perpetrators are brought to justice.

The continuing erosion of human rights in Zimbabwe was highlighted in 2005
by the government's brutal campaign of mass evictions and demolitions, which
began in May and, according to the United Nations, deprived 700,000 men,
women and children throughout the country of their homes, their livelihoods,
or both.

Tsunga and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have worked tirelessly to get
justice for the victims of the evictions in the domestic courts and at other
regional proceedings.

On December 5, 2005, Human Rights Watch and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, together with four other local and international organizations,
successfully pressed for an unprecedented resolution on Zimbabwe at the
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. The resolution - the first
to be released by the commission on Zimbabwe - expressed its concern over
the deterioration of human rights in the country, and alarm at the
violations of rights resulting from the evictions.

"Through their fearless defense of human rights, Arnold Tsunga and his
colleagues at Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights bring hope for justice to
countless victims of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe," said Kasambala.

To read the December 2005 Human Rights Watch report, "Evicted and Forsaken:
Internally Displaced Persons in the Aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina,"
please visit:

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Inflation and corruption must be eliminated


          October 31 2006 at 04:23PM

      Harare - Inflation and corruption are chronic diseases in
crisis-ridden Zimbabwe and their causes must be eliminated, the country's
central bank governor was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

      Gideon Gono, who has been trying to halt Zimbabwe's economic slide
since he took over the reins of the central bank in 2003, rejected critics
who accuse him of only tackling the symptoms of inflation, now the highest
in the world at 1 023 per cent.

      "Inflation and corruption have become the two major chronic diseases
in our national economy but you cannot prevent or fight any disease without
tackling its causes," the Reserve Bank governor said in comments carried by
the official Herald newspaper.

      Gono has implemented a host of measures in his bid to control
inflation, some of them unpopular. He has maintained the government's
control over foreign exchange rates, leading critics to complain that the
Zimbabwe dollar is massively overvalued.

      Earlier this month he closed down the country's 16 money transfer
agencies (MTAs), accusing them of fuelling the parallel market. The move
sent thousands of Zimbabweans who depend on overseas remittances into a

      Gono, speaking at a graduation ceremony for nurses in Harare, said he
had to eliminate the causes and treat the symptoms of inflation and
corruption just like a medical doctor, the Herald reported.

      "Obviously, the deep structural, policy and institutional rigidities
in our economy need to be addressed honestly and fully and (as) part of the
important challenge there is need for profound political, business, labour
and social sector goodwill across the nation," he said.

      The central bank chief recently complained that his recent policy
decisions had made him so unpopular that some of his former friends now
wished him dead. - Sapa-dpa

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ANC youth leader's praise of Mugabe branded an insult to Zimbabweans

      By Lance Guma
      31 October 2006

      African National Congress Youth League president Fikile Mbalula has
been told to spend some time in rural Zimbabwe and not some five star hotel,
before opening his mouth in praise of Robert Mugabe. The comments were made
by Patricia de Lille the leader of the opposition Independent Democrats (ID)
in South Africa. She was responding to remarks by the youth leader who told
an ANC rally in South Africa that Mugabe was 'doing good work,' and 'we love
him for redistributing the wealth and land to the people.' Lille said the
comments were an insult to the many Zimbabweans who have had to suffer under
Mugabe's tyranny.

      The ID sent out a statement saying they 'would like to advise Mbalula
to visit Zimbabwe and stay in the rural areas and not a five star hotel - if
there are still any left in the country - to witness the hardship
Zimbabweans are going through every day under Mugabe's unpredictable regime.'
De Lille added, 'With inflation out of control in Zimbabwe and many millions
unemployed, Mbalula must explain what wealth he is talking about.Or is he
talking about South Africa's wealth, which we are sharing with thousands of
Zimbabweans who have fled their country for greener pastures?'

      De Lille told Newsreel in an interview that if Mugabe was 'doing good'
then 'tens of thousands of Zimbabweans would not have emigrated to Europe,
or anywhere else in the world.' She says innocent Zimbabweans are risking
their lives every night by swimming across the crocodile infested Limpopo
River trying to get into South Africa. Zimbabwe, which previously was
regarded as the breadbasket of Africa, now had a large part of the
population facing starvation. De Lille added. 'The Independent Democrats do
recognize the role Mugabe played in the struggle, but all this is lost in
the face of his recent actions.'

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Botswana condemned over mass deportations of hapless Zimbabweans

      October 31, 2006

      By Savious Kwinika (CAJ)

      Botswana condemned over mass deportations of hapless Zimbabweans

      By Jimmy Phelans CAJ News Reporter PRETORIA: THE Zimbabwe Exiles Forum
(ZEF) has implored the Botswana government in particular and Southern Africa
Developmemt Community (SADC) leaders in general to deal with the root causes
of the Zimbabwean crisis rather than to deport Zimbabweans. The condemnation
comes a week after the Botswana government had deported well over 6000
Zimbabwean asylum seekers/refugees recently rounded up by the local security
agents. In a press statement made available to CAJ News this
afternoon(Tuesday),the Pretoria based lawyers for human rights said it was
deeply disturbed by fresh reports of mass arrests and deportations of
Zimbabweans seeking political refuge in Botswana. A new wave of arrests
commenced on 23 October 2006, dubbed by the Botswana authorities as a
crackdown on all illegal immigrants. ZEF said what was most worrying and
dehumanising was that the mass arrests were targetted at the Zimbabwe
population. "The campaign apparently targeted Zimbabweans, according to
media reports, raising deep concerns of discrimination against Zimbabweans,"
said Gabriel Shumba, the Executive Director of ZEF. "As a watchdog for the
recognition, protection and promotion of the human rights of Zimbabweans in
exile, ZEF is dismayed by the failure of governments in the SADC region to
acknowledge the Zimbabwe crisis. "These continued deportations show a
complete disregard for the protection of Zimbabweans fleeing from political
violence, torture and persecution at home. "The arrests are indiscriminate
thereby victimizing Zimbabweans with genuine asylum-seeking agenda. It
appears the only criteria is that if you are Zimbabwean you will be
deported. " For some Zimbabweans, it is like a death sentence, as they
originally escaped death in Zimbabwe,"added Shumba. He called on the region
and the international community to acknowledge that the situation in
Zimbabwe had reached fever-pitch ,and said the situation needed address
before it explodes-CAJ News.

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SA police smuggles human contraband

      October 31, 2006

      By Savious Kwinika (CAJ)

      SA police smuggles human contraband

      By Tsepo LivomboCAJ News Reporter MUSINA/BEITBRIDGE:THE South African
Police Service (SAPS) is being accused of smuggling hundreds of Zimbabwe's
socio-economic and political victims into the country in a corrupt move
widely believed is aimed at subsidizing their poor salaries, CAJ News
established. Allegations against the South African police, whom the public
accuse of receiving bribes were at a large scale and this prompted lawyers
for human rights to institute own investigations.In several incidents, it
emerged that the illegal immigrants were given the greenlight to enter South
Africa once they have paid an average of between R100-to-R200 respectively
to the SAPS officers on duty.Further allegations against the SA police were
that they target some haulage truck drivers, private vehicles and bus
drivers from whom they demand some money from the illegal immigrants in
order to be granted safety and avoid deportation. In an interview with CAJ
News yesterday, a SAPS captain at Musina borderpost, who requested anonymity
told the news agency that there were no such allegations of police
corruption raised by members of the public.The police officer defended the
state arguing that any reported of police corruption SAPS would have acted
accordingly. The SAPS captain told CAJ News that because of the complexity
involving corruption issues, people rarely reported to the superiors. "When
reports are made to us, we take action," said the SAPS captain, who asked to
remain anonymous. The smuggled Zimbabweans, are being asked to pay the
police officers a third of their salaries to avoid deportation, a claim the
SA police could not confirm by the time of going to press. This reporter
recently witnessed several Zimbabweans and a Malawian national arrested for
not having proper documents to enter into South Africa legally. The four
were quickly loaded into a van by two policemen. The van was driven to
Musina purpotedly for detention at the holding centre before deportation.
Subsequently investigations proved that the police were paid by the border
jumpers to faciltate their free passage to a safe point beyond Musina. In
another episode at Beitbridge, a woman was arrested for trying to smuggle
tobacco. Instead of surrendering the contraband to the customs for
evaluation, the two policemen loaded the loot into their van and the woman
paid R300 for her freedom.   Cross border drivers from Zimbabwe confirmed
that the South African Police Service officers were now specialists in
demanding bribes. "At times you find these policemen asking silly questions
so as to find fault in your vehicle yet the intention wil be to solicit for
a bribe. "To avoid unnecessary delays we just part with a small bribe but
these days they are demanding high amounts like R100 plus," said a truck
driver. Asked to comment on corruption allegations a South Africa Police
Captainat beitbridge said because of the complexity involving corruption
issues, people rarely reported to the superiors. "When reports are made to
us, we take action," said the Captain-CAJ News.

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The complicity of our neighbour

      By a Correspondent

      For a long time now, ordinary Zimbabweans have had a legitimate
expectation that South Africa will use its leverage as the biggest political
and economic power in Sub Saharan Africa to support the realization of the
democratic ideals of the people of Zimbabwe and help resolve the crippling
poverty and socio-economic breakdown gripping the nation.

      While Pretoria has played a direct role in places like Lesotho and
others as far as DRC, Ivory Cost, Sudan and so on, South Africa's attitude
towards the crisis gripping its northern neighbor has been characterized
more by an unintelligible stance, officially defined as quite diplomacy
which in practice camouflages the reality of Pretoria's subtle support for
the Mugabe regime.

      For the role played by, not just the South African government and its
public institutions but also South African private capital can not be
described as anything less than a complicity relationship with the regime of
Robert Mugabe.

      The people of Zimbabwe thus feel understandably let down by their one
key neighbour who could have the greatest influence on the present crisis.
Details coming out of the recent Sisulu Commission of enquiry into the SABC
only add on to this feeling of great betrayal. It has emerged from the
Sisulu Commission that the SABC, acting on the instructions of its managing
director, Dr Snuki Zikala, blacklisted certain civil society voices on
Zimbabwe because of particular views they hold on the crisis. Zikalala is
the Managing Director, SABC News and Current Affairs and a former ANC
political commissar.

      Among those banned from the station is Arch Bishop Pius Ncube of the
Roman Catholic Church, Mail and Guardian Publisher Trevor Ncube, Elinor
Sisulu, the Media manager for the Crisis Coalition South Africa office and
political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki, young brother to Thabo, who is a strong
critic of Mugabe's policies.

      This is a serious scandal if one considers the fact that the SABC as a
public broadcaster has an obligation to provide the public with a balanced
view on the crisis in Zimbabwe. Zikalala justifies banning Ncube by saying,
Trevor Ncube has his newspapers which he uses to attack Mugabe everyday and
why should I give him space on my broadcaster.
      He thinks Elinor and Moeletsi Mbeki are removed and misinformed on
Zimbabwe. And he hasnâ?Tt had the courage to tell anyone why Pius Ncube
should not be allowed to comment on Zimbabwe. Whatever Zikalala says it
doesnâ?Tt take a nuclear physicist to see that his agenda is to
systematically marginalize voices critical of Mugabeâ?Ts policies from the

      This becomes the latest in a series of evidence confirming how the
SABC is violating journalism's cardinal principle of giving professional and
unbiased coverage and instead acting as a solidarity broadcaster for
Mugabe's regime. The SABCs coverage of Zimbabwe's 2005 parliamentary
elections immediately springs back to mind.

      The broadcaster had a team of 59 journalists in the country whose
coverage of the elections was nothing less than a public relations mission
for Mugabe and his regime. When Zimbabweans were dismissing the elections as
predetermined citing serious distortions of the playing field in favour of
the ruling party, the SABCâ?Ts main anchor Hope Zinde shocked Zimbabweans by
declaring, within a matter of a few hours of checking into Harareâ?Ts
Sheraton Hotel, that the conditions were conducive for free and fair
      The first thing that I have to say, she said in her report, is that
this is a very peaceful country, contrary to many reports out there,
especially in South Africa and some western media.
      Zinde was saying all this after being in the country for just a few
hours and in the face of records of serious intimidation and violations
recorded by local and international monitors.

      People also remember Zikalalaâ?Ts interview with Mugabe just after the
elections where he proved to be a fan of the despised dictator. It was an
embarrassing show. Zikalala behaved like a shy schoolboy and helpfully
avoided confronting Mugabe with any difficulty questions. No questions were
asked on the serious violations of the SADC Protocol on elections recorded
by various local and international observers. Issues of equal opportunities
for all parties to access state media, independence of the Judiciary and
impartiality of the electoral institutions, the draconian acts that
seriuously curtailed political space, violence and intimidation,
politicization of food distribution, banning and disruption of opposition
meetings, attack and forced closure of independent press and so on. None of
this was important to Zikalala. At the end of the interview, Zikalala even
compliments Mugabe saying, was a very peaceful country and we have seen the
economic turnaround ourselves. What peace was that and which economic

      For the SABC to take such a partisan stance is the most disgraceful
thing a public broadcaster that holds itself in high regard can ever do. To
have on this very late hour, the likes of the SABC being part of the band
wagon playing smoke and mirrors and deceiving the world on the reality of
the situation in Zimbabwe today is not just extremely unfortunate but also
the most dishonorable thing. If the matter at stake were a sporting match
this maybe would have been just silly. However in this case this shameful
conduct cannot be anything less than tragic because the crisis in Zimbabwe
is now a humanitarian emergency in which millions of innocent lives are at
stake and .

      Under Mugabe's dictatorship people have been reduced to a nation of
foraging paupers stripped of any dignity. Mothers have to endure the pain of
seeing their children wailing of hunger and not knowing what to do. Workers
can barely go through a week on a minimum wage. Communities have to cope
without basics like water and electricity. The sick can not get drugs. The
vast majority of the population is now destitute and just waiting for god.
And what is revolting is that people have all this piled on them and are
told not to complain. At gunpoint!

      Recently the world saw shocking images of Mugabe's police brutalizing
workers who dared to raise their voices. For simply exercising their
democratic right to peacefully march in protest against unbearable levels of
poverty, demanding an end to harassment of informal traders and calling for
access to ARVs, ZCTU workers were brutalized by Mugabe's  running dogs.
Footage from the march shows Zimbabwe Republic Police details mercilessly
pounding arrested workers with baton sticks like donkeys. The images are so
barbaric that they invoke memories of colonial era state barbarism.
Testimonies from the arrested workers tell of unrelenting beatings and
torture within cells. The ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe was
beaten until he lost consciousness. The Vice President Lucia Matibenga burst
an eardrum from repeated clapping and pictures show her whole body bruised
and blackened from beatings. Many others including the ZCTU President
Lovemore Matombo got broken limbs.  If the thuggish behavior of the police
was shocking, even more outrageous was to hear Mugabe audaciously condoning
these callous acts.

      This is the point history must record; the impunity and
well-documented cruelty of the Zimbabwe Republic Police has blessings from
Mugabe himself. This just goes to show that Mugabe's exhausted regime owes
its survival to force and coercion. Violence has become the regimeâ?Ts first
instinct and in its exhausted mentality, the regime stupidly believes that
torturing the messengers will somehow destroy the message.

      This is the reality that Zikalala and his ilk do not want the world to
see. It has become the habit of the regime to brutally thwart any protest.
Mothers have been beaten and locked up for handing out roses on the streets
and peacefully demanding justice. Student activists have been detained and
tortured at maximum prisons for defending the right to education. Civil
society activists are harassed and frustrated left right and center.
Whatever doctoring people like Zikalala can do, the truth of the matter is
that the voices of protest as recently expressed by the ZCTU and other brave
activists resonate deep within the hearts of millions of Zimbabweans. The
peace that Zikalala and the likes of Hope Zinde preach to the world is in
reality a tense silence maintained through guns, baton sticks and the threat
of things worse.

      The SABC's shameful stance on Zimbabwe must be understood as
consistent to Pretoriaâ?Ts own deplorable foreign policy on Zimbabwe. The
South African government observer missions to Zimbabweâ?Ts disputed
elections since 2000 have been the quickest to declare a free and fair
verdict and dismiss irregularities raised by other local and international
observers. To this day the South African government has failed to live up to
its international responsibility on Zimbabwe refusing to acknowledge the
full extent of the crisis in Zimbabwe. At the same time, South Africa has
been the first to frustrate efforts to bring Zimbabwe on the agenda of
multi-lateral foras. Recently Mbeki deflected responsibilities from his
shoulders and misled the world by alleging that Mkapa was facilitating a
dialogue initiative which turned out to be fictitious.

      What one does not understand is why Mbeki fails to act positively on
Zimbabwe when it is clear that the degeneration of Zimbabwe has an adverse
social impact on South Africa and will ultimately have severe consequences
for regional stability. Already South Africa is seriously inundated with
thousands of Zimbabwean political and economic refugees escaping the crisis.
These poor victims of the Zimbabwe crisis are not even regard as refugees
who deserve protection under international law but just as illegal
immigrants, who are hunted down like criminals, detained in the most
deplorable conditions and deported back to Zimbabwe.

      In the face of such shameful conduct from Pretoria, an urgent task
therefore lies on the shoulders of progressive minded South Africans to
extend a hand of solidarity to the people of Zimbabwe. Unequivocal positions
taken so far by COSATU, South African Social Movements and recently the
Progressive Youth Alliance in support of the democratic struggle in Zimbabwe
need the support of the wider South African population. With ruling elites
extending unprincipled solidarity to each other the only hope and effective
counter is principled people to people solidarity. The South African public
must call their government and public institutions like the SABC to account
for their disgraceful collusion with oppression in Zimbabwe.

      At this hour of greatest need there is nothing more unhelpful to the
cause of democracy and social justice in Zimbabwe than this connivance from
South Africa. Despite all these odds, Zimbabweans retain the deepest
conviction that justice will ultimately prevail over brutal repression
because history itself is always on the side of justice. Always. And at the
end, Zimbabweans will remember not just the deeds of their oppressors but
also the complicity of their neighbours.

      Uhuru! Freedom! Rusununguko! Nkululeko!

      Onward with the struggle comrades! We shall overcome!
      Briggs Bomba is a Zimbabwean activist; he can be reached on

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