The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Zimbabwe opposition heads for break-up as talks flop

Zim Online

Tue 1 November 2005

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party on Monday appeared more than certain to break-up after its top
six leaders failed to resolve sharp differences over whether to contest a
senate election at the month-end.

Last ditch talks between MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and five other
top leaders of the party opposed to his decision to boycott the senate poll
ended in deadlock with none of the two wrangling sides moving an inch on
their positions.

Bango said after today's flopped talks a meeting of the national
council - the MDC's highest decision-making body in between congresses -
will be held on Saturday to, among other things review the state of the
party ahead of its first congress since 1999.

In a statement after the meeting, Tsvangirai's spokesman William Bango
told journalists that his boss remained unshaken on his position that the
MDC should boycott the November 26 poll.

Attempting to give the impression of a party at peace with itself,
Bango said Saturday's meeting will also plot the way forward on how to push
President Robert Mugabe's government to agree to a new and democratic

He said: "The president's position on the senate election remains
unchanged. He maintains that the MDC should stay out of the polls.

"The president shall give the council an overview campaign for a new
constitution which the party has adopted in concert with the MDC's civic
society partners."

MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube, leading the other leaders
opposed to Tsvangirai's poll boycott plan would not even speak about Monday's
flopped meeting. He referred all questions to his deputy Gift Chimanikire.

And in an illustration of how things are rapidly falling apart in the
opposition party that had given Zimbabweans the only realistic hope for
change, Chimanikire was quick to dismiss the Saturday meeting announced by
Bango as a non-event that would serve no useful purpose.

Chimanikire insisted the MDC stood by the decision of its national
council which narrowly voted two weeks ago to contest the senate poll.

The national council voted 33:31 to take part in the poll but
Tsvangirai overruled the ballot arguing that it was pointless to contest an
election that is sure to be rigged by Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

Chimanikire also accused Tsvangirai of overthrowing the party's
constitution by rejecting the national council ballot and of seeking to run
the MDC with the help of a "kitchen cabinet" of unelected officials.

The deputy secretary general also accused Tsvangirai of allowing
officials close to him to unleash violence against MDC members who have
chosen to stand in the election in open defiance of their party leader.

Commenting on Monday's proceedings, Chimanikire said: "We agreed to
disagree ... the national council took a decision and that decision still
stands, it has not been reversed.

"It is up to individuals whether to attend the (national council)
meeting on Saturday but personally I don't see a reason for such a meeting
when other people are flouting the founding principles of the party."

Tsvangirai has vehemently opposed the senate poll saying that besides
the fact that it will be rigged, the proposed new senate itself was a waste
of resources for a country that should be putting its energies into fighting
hunger threatening a third of its 12 million people.

But Ncube and his faction say the MDC should contest the polls because
it would not be wise for the MDC to surrender political space to Mugabe and
ZANU PF by boycotting the poll. The Ncube group also argues that the
constitutional position of the party was that it should contest in line with
the vote of its national council.

The dispute between the two factions of the MDC has also assumed an
ethnic dimension with support for Tsvangirai's position strong among regions
dominated by the Shona ethnic group to which he belongs while Ncube, an
Ndebele, is solidly backed in south-western regions populated by his Ndebele

But last Thursday, the bickering MDC leaders had appeared to realise
the sense in uniting their ranks when they met for the first time after
weeks of trading damaging accusations in the press.

Tsvangirai and his deputy Gibson Sibanda, issued a terse statement
after that meeting recommitting themselves to dialogue and to focusing
pressure on Mugabe and his government. They had also indicated that the
Monday meeting would come up with one position to be presented to the
national council. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tsvangirai suspends MP over funding claim

Zim Online

Tue 1 November 2005

HARARE - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday
suspended a legislator of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party,
Job Sikhala, for claiming that the party illegally received financial
donations from outside the country.

Tsvangirai's spokesman William Bango said Sikhala had been suspended
from the MDC as well as being the party's Member of Parliament (MP) for St
Mary's constituency in the city of Chitungwiza south-east of Harare.

"He was suspended by the president (Tsvangirai) for bringing the party
into disrepute because of his statements," said Bango, adding that the final
punishment of the radical and outspoken Sikhala would be determined by the
party's national council when it meets next Saturday.

Sikhala, a founding member of the MDC who has clashed with senior
leaders before, shocked the diplomatic community when he told a press
conference at his home that infighting threatening to rip apart the MDC was
because of senior leaders disagreeing over control of funds donated by Ghana
and Nigeria.

The MP, who a day later backtracked from his claim saying it was based
on rumour, said the African countries had each donated US$250 000 to the
MDC. The opposition party, barred from taking foreign funds under Zimbabwe's
Political Parties Finance Act, had also in the past received US$2.5 million
from Taiwan, Sikhala said.

The three countries had to issue official statements denying Sikhala's
claims widely publicised by Zimbabwe government media.

For a while the bickering MDC leaders forgot their differences to all
unite in rejecting the claims by the MP that they received foreign funds.

But Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said despite
denials by MDC leaders as well as by Abuja, Accra and Taipei, the government
was going to ask Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to open
investigations into the claims.

Since its formation six years ago, the MDC has expelled only one of
its legislators Munyaradzi Gwisai, who was dismissed for constantly
differing with the party's positions on major policies especially land

But it remains to be seen whether Tsvangirai will have the backing of
other senior leaders in acting against Sikhala given the sharp differences
in the party over contesting a senate election on November 26.

The split over the election has left the MDC on the verge of breaking
up after Tsvangirai ordered the party to boycott the senate poll but met
stiff resistance from his secretary general Welshman Ncube and four other
most senior leaders of the party. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ZANU PF legislator confiscates clean-up aid, hands it over to own supporters

Zim Online

Tue 1 November 2005

HARARE - The Combined Harare Residents Association has accused a
ruling ZANU PF legislator in the city of confiscating humanitarian aid meant
for 19 families that were displaced during a controversial government
clean-up exercise five months ago.

In a statement to the press on Monday, the association accused Harare
South Member of Parliament Hubert Nyanhongo of confiscating the aid which he
went on to distribute to his party's supporters in Sunningdale suburb.

The association said Nyanhongo last week confiscated packets of
maize-meal, peanut butter and blankets that were meant for 19 families that
are staying in the open in the suburb.

"The food and blankets were forcibly taken by the area MP (Member of
Parliament) Hubert Nyanhongo. He distributed them to ZANU PF supporters at
the Sunningdale Community Hall. He told us that we could not do anything
within his constituency because enemies of the state had sourced the food,"
the group said.

The association said the families were in desperate need of assistance
before the rainy season which is expected to kick off in earnest later this

"When some rain fell a few days ago, these victims slept in various
toilets after their plastic shelters were overwhelmed by the pouring rains.
They have nowhere to go," the association said.

Nyanhongo could not be reached for comment on the matter last night.

At least 700 000 people were rendered homeless five months ago after
the government demolished thousands of houses and backyard shacks in a
campaign President Robert Mugabe said was necessary to restore the beauty of
cities and towns.

Another 2.4 million were also directly affected by the exercise,
according to a hard-hitting report compiled by the United Nations special
envoy Anna Tibaijuka.

The United States, Britain and other major Western powers all
criticised the clean-up campaign while Mugabe accused critics of the
campaign of romanticising squalor.

The veteran Zimbabwean leader whose government is grappling its worst
economic crisis since independence 25 years ago, promised to build thousands
of "decent" houses for the displaced residents. Very few houses have been
built so far. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Annan Appeals to Zimbabwe to Let UN Help Homeless

Scoop, NZ

Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 3:57 pm
Press Release: United Nations
Annan Appeals to Zimbabwe to Let UN Help Homeless After Government Rejects Aid
New York, Oct 31 2005 7:00PM

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to the Government in Zimbabwe to
allow the United Nations to provide humanitarian assistance to the country
after the authorities rejected the world body's aid amid reports that tens
of thousands of people there are still homeless and in need of help.

"The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned by the humanitarian
situation in Zimbabwe," his spokesman
<"">said, citing
reports of continued suffering months after the eviction campaign that began
in May 2005.

Mr. Annan reacted with dismay to a decision by the Government to reject
offers of UN assistance. In an official communication, the Minister of Local
Government, Public Works and Urban Development stated "that there is no
longer a compelling need to provide temporary shelter as there is no
humanitarian crisis" and claimed that Government interventions have
addressed the most urgent shelter needs, according to the spokesman.

The Government's position stands in stark contradiction to the findings
contained in a report by the Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Human
Settlements Issues in Zimbabwe, Anna Tibaijuka, as well as most recent
reports from the UN and the humanitarian community. "A large number of
vulnerable groups, including the recent evictees as well as other vulnerable
populations, remain in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, including
shelter," spokesman Stephane Dujarric stressed. He added that there is "no
clear evidence" that subsequent Government efforts have significantly
benefited these people.

The Government's decision to decline assistance comes despite extensive
consultations on relief efforts between the UN and the authorities.

With the impending rainy season threatening to worsen the living conditions
of the affected population, the Secretary-General made a strong appeal to
the Government of Zimbabwe to "ensure that those who are out in the open,
without shelter and without means of sustaining their livelihoods, are
provided with humanitarian assistance in collaboration with the United
Nations and the humanitarian community in order to avert a further
deterioration of the humanitarian situation," his spokesman said.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim army, police turning to crime to survive


Basildon Peta
October 31 2005 at 10:54PM

All is not well in the Zimbabwean army, with a growing number of
disillusioned soldiers now breaking the law to make a living, and
threatening the stability of the country.

While it is too early to say whether the growing disillusionment in
the army and other security agencies would spur a mutiny or coup against
President Robert Mugabe, insiders in Zimbabwe's state security forces say
the situation is "wholly unsustainable" for the Mugabe government.

Many soldiers have been sent home in recent weeks because the
government has no money to feed them in their barracks. Many have gone for
long periods without uniforms and training equipment.

The salaries of junior soldiers and police of around Z$4-million (less
than R100) a month are hardly worth anything in a country with inflation of
around 360 percent and daily price increases for basic commodities.

Virtually all the state security agencies are paralysed by crippling
fuel shortages.

Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri complained before a
parliamentary committee recently that police officers were so poorly paid
that they had to survive on bribes of Z$50 000 "to buy cabbages for their

He also complained that police were paralysed by the lack of fuel and
were no longer able to keep their fleet of vehicles on the road to fight

Similar concerns of poor salaries and appalling standards in army
barracks and police stations are worrying the commanders of the army and the
air force.

A middle-ranking army officer interviewed by the Independent Foreign
Service said members of state security agencies were so poorly paid that
they were deserting the service in increasing numbers.

The official said the increasing number of soldiers and police
resorting to violence to make a living was not a good sign for the

The Zimbabwe Republic Police at the weekend announced the dismissal of
24 officers, including two senior officers, from the force over their
involvement in corruption and unspecified criminal activities.

Elements in the Zimbabwean police are known to connive with criminal
gangs. Some gangs operating in South Africa are getting easy refuge in
Zimbabwe, from where they launch operations.

Stephen Mbengeni and Sibangilizwe Moyo, soldiers from an infantry
battalion in the southern city of Masvingo, have appeared in court for going
on a robbery spree using their official weapons.

Police Commissioner Chihuri expressed his concerns at the plight of
the police force before the parliamentary committee, but efforts to obtain
comment from army commanders failed.

This article was originally published on page 6 of The Star on
November 01, 2005

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

US Envoy to Harare: Interview

By Safari Njema
31 October 2005

Last month an opinion piece published in the state-controlled Herald
newspaper argued that the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe is "a man on a failed
mission." The paper justified this conclusion by citing the definition of
ambassador as one whose job is to improve relations between his own nation
and his host country.

Rhetoric aside, the relationship between Harare and Washington might indeed
be said to have hit a new low on October 14 when Zimbabwean military
authorities detained Ambassador Christopher Dell briefly after he entered a
restricted area not far from the presidential place while on a stroll in
Harare's Botanical Garden. Foreign Ministry officials apologized, other
Zimbabwe government officials scolded Mr. Dell, and the U.S. Embassy
accepted the initial apology and declared the incident closed.

In this interview with correspondent Safari Njema of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe, Mr. Dell acknowledges that relations between the two countries are
less than cordial.

AMBASSADOR DELL: I don't think it's a secret to anyone that the relationship
is quite strained and that is very much to be regretted. I get asked by
government officials all the time, why have you changed? Why is the
relationship that used to be good not good anymore? My answer to that is
very simple: it's because you have lost your way. Whereas Zimbabwe at
independence embarked on a course of democracy, respect for human rights,
respect for property and other rules of market economy. Since that time we
have seen a worsening of human rights abuse, lack of respect for private
property, lack of respect for citizens of this country and government
policies which seem almost designed to maker the wrong economic choices. And
therefore my answer is our relationship has indeed become more difficult
over time because of the policies of the government of this country.

STUDIO 7: Mr. Mugabe blames the country's economic collapse on the sanctions
and economic boycotts imposed by Western governments. While that's
disputable, some Zimbabweans feel the sanctions may not be working that
well. Others argue that the sanctions imposed by the West, and the US, are
actually punishing ordinary Zimbabweans more than senior officials. What's
your response to this?

AMBASSADOR DELL: I think that view is nonsense - the country's problems are
primarily due to the limited targeted sanctions that the United States has
imposed and other countries as well. The truth is, it is the economic
mismanagement of the Zimbabwean economy that has led to the current
paralysis of the state of affairs. The sanctions do not have a broad impact,
they are designed to affect only the individuals cited in the various
proclamations by the US President. The argument that they are responsible
for the general decline of the economy willl only be true if the 86
individuals named in the economic sanctions in fact control the entire
economy of the country. Since those individuals are members of government
and politburo and central committee of the ruling party, to make that
argument is to say that politicians control the entire economy of this
country. We in fact know that it is the misguided economic policies of the
current government of Zimbabwe which are responsible for the economic
decline, policies which in essence have made everything possible to
discourage foreign investment by utterly disregarding respect for the rule
of law, respect for private property and enforceability of legal contracts.
Alll of which are things that a foreign investor would look to in the first
instance about deciding whether or not to invest her money in a place. And
When the policies of the government seem calculated to undercut the
confidence of potential investors in the future that is what is having a
severe effect on this economy. I believe however that the sanctions are
having effect intended in making those responsible for the sufering of the
people of this country feel the pain themselves. Every time the government
complains about the sanctions, that to me is an indication that the
sanctions are having the intended effect.

STUDIO 7: Zimbabwe faces a number of serious problems, including decreasing
exports and recurring shortages of basic commodities including fuel and
food. Harare has said that it will welcome food assistance from any quarter,
providing such aid has - in Mr Mugabe's words - "no strings attached". What
is the US government's position regarding food aid, given Harare's

AMBASSADOR DELL: The United States remains committed to respecting
international humanitarian standards and fulfilling our responsibilities to
help those in need to the extent that we can. I have personally spoken to
President Bush about questions of humanitarian assistance in the past and I
know that he is firmly committed to the principle that we will not play
politics with humanitarian assistance, in particular, with food aid. That is
a key governing principle of our approach. Sadly it is not an approach of
this government in Zimbabwe which continues to make food available based on
political affiliation. We have in the past five years provided more than
three hundred million dollars in food assistance, with the largest food
donor to Zimbabwe. During the current year we have more than 50 million
dollars available and as I speak food assistance is arriving in Zimbabwe
through the WFP, World Food Programme to which the United States is the
largest donor.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Simmons takes fight to court

The Australian

From correspondents in Harare
November 01, 2005
A LAWYER for Phil Simmons appeared in the high court overnight to outline
the former Test player's contract dispute with the Zimbabwean cricket board.

The former West Indies all rounder, hired as the national coach here, was
served a deportation order a week ago by the country's Immigration
Department and told to be out of the country by the end of the day.

He has been in job limbo since being told during a Test match against India
at Bulawayo 13 months ago that his services were no longer required. He was
replaced by locally born Kevin Curren.

Zimbabwe Cricket contests that Simmons' contract has been terminated, he has
no valid work permit and this means he has to leave the country.

But Simmons maintains that his contract has not been properly terminated and
there has been no letter to him. He is challenging the cricket board to
prove otherwise and he intends to seek compensation.

Judge Benjamin Hlatshwayo ruled that a full hearing will start on Friday.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Justice Mungwira dies in Scotland

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 11/01/2005 13:16:13
ONE of Zimbabwe's finest judges, Justice Sandra Mungwira, has died in exile
in Scotland, relatives said.

The former High Court judge was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer at the
time of her death last Saturday.

She will be buried in Scotland on Friday, November 4.

A family spokesman told New "Justice Mungwira stood for the
judiciary, not politics. She will be greatly missed."

Mungwira left Zimbabwe two years ago, becoming the 11th judge to do so,
following a government purge on judges who refused to tow the line.

Last night, MDC legislator and women's rights activist Priscilla
Misihairabwi spoke glowingly of Mungwira's legal career, describing her as
"the bravest woman I ever met."

"As the cancer took its toll on her, the more determined she got to defy
threats and intimidation by government agents," Misihairabwi said.

"She used to tell me that there was nothing Zanu PF could do worse than the
cancer. She felt liberated when all other judges were cowing to the regime's
crude tactics. Her judgments in her last days on the bench bear testimony to
that. She certainly was the bravest woman I ever met."

The case that parachuted Mungwira to prominence in Zimbabwe was the trial of
six supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change and
an MP, who were accused of killing war veterans leader, Cain Nkala.

Before the defence could present its case, Justice Mungwira shot the
prosecution case down and discharged all the suspects after finding that
police had used torture to gain confessions from the suspects.

In a barbed judgment which shook the legal fraternity, Mungwira said all 14
police officers involved in the investigation "spewed forth untruths"
throughout the trial, their records were "an appalling piece of fiction" and
they had conducted themselves "in a shameless fashion" by torturing the

Soon after the judgment, her clerk was hounded by Central Intelligence
Organisation agents who went to his office and demanded copies of her
judgment. When he said he could't get them, they told him to snoop into her

Justice Mungwira's legal star also rose when she found for human rights
campaigner, Judith Todd, after she had been illegally stripped of her
citizenship by the registrar-general, Tobaiwa Mudede.

Justice Mungwira accused Mudede of usurping the role of parliament.

In 2003, Justice Mungwira added her signature to those of nine other High
Court judges in a protest letter to President Robert Mugabe following the
arrest of their colleague, Justice Benjamin Paradza.

The judges said in a joint statement Justice Paradza was supposed to be
investigated by a tribunal set up by President Mugabe before any arrest
could be made.

"Acceptance of the principle that any police officer who may, if he believes
that a judge has committed an offence, whether or not his belief is
reasonable, proceed to the judge's chambers and arrest him would undermine
completely the independence of the judiciary," said the 10 judges who signed
the statement.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Beacon of hope' for continent reveals its dark side

The Telegraph

By Mike Pflanz in Zanzibar
(Filed: 01/11/2005)

An African country held up as a beacon of hope for the continent was racked
by violence yesterday as troops clashed with opposition supporters.

Pink pepper gas was sprayed at protesters from lorries on Tanzania's
Zanzibar archipelago and special forces from the mainland fired rubber
bullets and tear gas into crowds.

Demonstrators were beaten by soldiers and dragged into police Land Rovers as
rumours grew that the ruling party had again cheated its way to victory at
the polls.

Such election headlines were the last thing that Tony Blair wanted to hear
from a nation headed by a man he chose to sit on his Commission for Africa.

President Benjamin Mkapa's Tanzania is one of the West's model African
pupils, praised for its free primary education, campaign against corruption
and obeying the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Mkapa has announced his intention to leave office after two terms in
power, in his case next month. The former socialist has been rewarded -
Tanzania will receive more than 675 million in aid this year, of which the
largest chunk, 100 million, is from Britain.

But Mr Mkapa was silent yesterday as international observers on Zanzibar
complained of vote-rigging, allegedly orchestrated by his Chama Cha
Mapinduzi (CCM) party and the army.

Zanzibar is semi-autonomous from the rest of Tanzania and has its own
president - so far always from the same CCM party as the national leader -
military and civil service.

Islanders, 99 per cent of them Muslim, like to feel independent from the
mainland. Yet in the last two supposedly democratic elections, in 1995 and
2000, pre-vote support for the local opposition Civic United Front failed to
materialise into seats.

Analysts blame mainland support for electoral fraud planned by the CCM's
island wing, headed by Mr Mkapa's right-hand man, the Zanzibari president
Amani Karume.

Perhaps Mr Mkapa, 66, and his aides have been taking lessons from one of his
heroes, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

"For us in Tanzania, Zimbabwe is more than a friend. We are brothers in the
struggle for justice and freedom, for human rights and democracy," Mr Mkapa
said at a dinner in Harare last week.

"A new leadership is emerging in Africa that cannot accept tutelary
relationships with our erstwhile colonisers, a new leadership which would
rather listen to its elders, such as Comrade Mugabe."

The spectacle of one of Mr Blair's allies flattering one of Africa's worst
tyrants highlights the perils of changing the continent and countries.

"It shows what manner of company Blair keeps in Africa," said Ahmed Rajab,
the editor of London-based Africa Analysis magazine.

A senior western diplomat said: "It is not in Mkapa's interests to let the
opposition win in Zanzibar. It would split his party and could allow the
opposition to get a foot in the door on the mainland."

Mr Mkapa's cronies dispute claims that he is responsible for the fraud
reportedly carried out during Sunday's poll, which the opposition says
included the expunging of 80,000 pro-CUF voters from the electoral roll.

"It should have been a purely Zanzibari affair, yes, but it was the mainland
government which cleared 7,000 heavily armed police to come here to
supposedly help out," said a CUF spokesman.

"They are under the command of Mkapa. If he wanted fair elections he could
have ensured they happened. He has chosen not to do that."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Annan 'dismayed' over Zim


01/11/2005 08:14 - (SA)

New York - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday criticised
Zimbabwe for rejecting UN assistance while "tens of thousands" of people
remain homeless despite Harare's denials of hardship.

Annan said in a statement that he was "particularly dismayed" because months
ago, the Zimbabwean government had already stated that there was no further
need for temporary shelters for squatters and that "there is no humanitarian
crisis" in the country.

Zimbabwe began expelling more than 100 000 squatters in April from slums
near the capital and bulldozing their homes in what the government called a
sanitation campaign.

Annan said that Zimbabwe had rejected UN offers for assistance, and the
minister of local government, public works and urban development had assured
him of no further need to help the squatters.

"A large number of vulnerable groups including evictees as well as other
vulnerable populations remain in need of immediate humanitarian assistance,
including shelter," Annan said.

"Furthermore, there is no clear evidence that subsequent government efforts
have significantly benefited these groups."

A UN investigation in the summer said that tens of thousands of Aids
patients among the squatters have lost health services. The evictees
included also thousands of children. - Sapa-dpa

Back to the Top
Back to Index