Mugabe appears increasingly intolerant of
Zimbabwean riot police in the capital Harare have used
teargas to break up a student protest over the killing of another student by a
The United States rejects any comparison between the
international coalition's fight against terrorism and the deterioration of the
rule of law and the state-sponsored violence that has emerged in
US State Department
Correspondents say hundreds of students had gathered at
the University of Zimbabwe planning to march to parliament and hand in a
But before they could set off, riot police sealed off the campus and started
to beat them up.
Students said they had wanted to march peacefully to hand in their petition,
which denounced army indiscipline and called for the resignation of President
The latest violence came as the United States joined the chorus of
international condemnation of Mr Mugabe's government.
The student protest came in response to the death over the weekend of student
Lameck Chemvura, who was thrown from a train by a soldier.
Farmer Alan Bradley is one of the latest victims of
Reports quoted witnesses as saying the soldier had
accused him of being a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic
The angry students said they were calling for Mr Mugabe to resign because as
commander of the defence force he was clearly failing to impose any discipline.
They said reports that a soldier had been arrested for Mr Chemvura's murder
were irrelevant, given the "lack of control at the highest level".
Unconfirmed reports say one student was arrested during the clashes, but our
correspondent said many student leaders had now fled underground.
The spiralling violence has also left a white farmer in critical condition in
hospital in Harare.
Farmer Alan Bradley was shot over the weekend by unidentified assailants who
had used branches to block a road to his farm southeast of the capital.
Many farm workers and white farmers have been injured, and some killed, in an
often violent campaign of invasions of white-owned farms in the past 18 months.
On Monday, the United States joined global condemnation of Mr Mugabe,
rejecting the government's use of the word "terrorist" to describe a group of
"The statements reflect a continuing trend of harassment of the free press by
the government of Zimbabwe," US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told
"The United States rejects any comparison between the international
coalition's fight against terrorism and the deterioration of the rule of law and
the state-sponsored violence that has emerged in Zimbabwe," he added.
It appears that Zimbabwe could be moving closer towards some form of
sanctions following a warning from the the British Foreign Office not to harass
foreign correspondents based in Bulawayo.
Mugabe has rejected EU calls for poll
A presidential spokesman was quoted in the government
newspaper as calling six journalists "terrorists" after they reported on last
week's political violence in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo.
Also on Saturday, The Herald quoted President Robert Mugabe as rejecting
calls from a visiting European Union delegation to monitor next year's
The EU has threatened to impose sanctions against Harare if it is not allowed
to monitor next year's elections, in which Mr Mugabe will face his
strongest-ever challenge from the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.
EU officials earlier said that relations were "critical".
Harare - A farmer was in a coma in a Harare hospital on Monday after he and
his family came under attack while travelling in their car on Sunday, Commercial
Farmers' Union (CFU) officials said.
Alan Bradley, 36, was in a stable
condition in the intensive care unit of Harare's Avenues Clinic with a collapsed
A bullet punctured one of the car's side windows, passed in front
of his wife Anthea and struck him in the arm before it disintegrated in his
The couple's son, Mitchell, who was sleeping on his father's
lap was not hurt.
Motive for the shooting was not
"How it missed him (Mitchell), I have no idea," said a close
relative who asked not to be named.
The motive for the shooting was not
criminal, said Guy Watson-Smith, the provincial chairperson of the CFU.
"It was to take him (Bradley) out," he said.
The couple were
nearing their farm, Royal Visit, in the Virginia district about 120km east of
Harare when Mrs Bradley saw a pile of branches in the road, about 200m from the
farm's security gate.
When she stopped, she saw a man step from behind a
tree with what appeared to be a .303 rifle.
'It was to take him (Bradley)
"Alan was shot at point blank range," said Watson-Smith.
"The bullet went through the window on Anthea's side, missed her and hit
"She had the presence of mind to put her foot down and she drove
through the roadblock, and managed to get through to the homestead. The
Mrs Bradley alerted police and farmers in the
district via their farm security radio network and neighbours reacted
"It took police more than two hours to get there. They
weren't in any particular hurry," said Watson-Smith.
During the night,
several roadblocks consisting of logs were set up on the main road through the
"I don't know who by or for what purpose."
attack follows a 21-month campaign of violence and harassment against the
country's community of about 4 200 white farmers after President Robert Mugabe's
ruling Zanu-PF began its land redistribution programme.
workers and nine farmers have been killed.
In December last year Henry
Elsworth was shot and killed when he stopped to open his farm gate.
April that year, David Stevens was murdered in the Virginia district. He was the
first white farmer to be killed after the land invasions began.
Relatives said invaders had settled on the Bradleys' farm and there had
been friction between the farmer and the squatters' leader.
drawn up an agreement that allowed both sides to farm on different parts of the
"Alan got on well with the settlers, and they were happy for him
to stay on the farm. But the war veteran leading them had it in for him, and was
violently opposed to the family staying on their farm."
farmers have been driven off their properties in recent months by self-styled
war veterans, while hundreds have been forced to stop all farming activities and
have been confined to their homes.
Earlier in November, Mugabe passed a
decree which gave him the right to evict farmers with three months' notice and
without first seeking a court order.
Zimbabwe has appealed to the
international community for food aid because of a decline in food production
which has led to forecasts of a famine in a country that was once called "the
breadbasket of Africa". - Sapa
Alan Bradley, 36, a Macheke
farmer, was shot and critically injured at about 7.30pm on Sunday by
suspected war veterans on his Royal Visit Farm.
The shooting occurred
about 500 metres from his house as he was returning from an outing with his
wife and two young children. These were not injured.
Yesterday a close
relative, who declined to be named, said: "They came across sticks laid on
the road about 500 metres away from their house. They got out and were
approached by about three war veterans. They were about to ask them to remove
the sticks when they saw that they were armed, so they jumped back into the
car. The war veterans fired at Bradley at very close range."
bullets shattered the window on the driver's side, hitting Bradley, who was
in the passenger seat of the Nissan Hardbody truck holding his son Mitchell,
Zimbabwe police arrest man for shooting white
farmer HARARE, Nov 27 DPA|Published: Tuesday November 27, 11:52
Police said today they had arrested a man in connection with
the shooting on Sunday of farmer Alan Bradley in his car as he was returning
to his home in eastern Zimbabwe with his six-year-old son asleep on his
Superintendent Lameck Jena said police suspected the gunman planned
to rob the family, but relatives who asked not to be named identified the man
as the militant leader of squatters on Bradley's farm, Royal Visit, in
the Macheke district about 100 kilometres east of Harare.
was to take him (Bradley) out," said Guy Watson-Smith, provincial chairman of
the Commercial Farmers' Union. Jena said the arrested man, William Nyawire,
would appear in court soon.
Nyawire opened fire with a .303 rifle from
point blank range. The bullet shattered the side window of the car, missed
Bradley's wife, Anthea, who was driving, and his son, but struck the farmer
in the chest.
Relatives said today Bradley, 36, was in a coma and in a
critical but stable condition in Harare's private Avenue's clinic. One lung
had collapsed from shattered bullet fragments.
Bradley was the latest
victim of the 21-month campaign of violence and lawlessness on white-owned
farms as President Robert Mugabe's regime carries out his plan to seize 90
per cent of all white farms.
Thirty-nine farm workers and nine white
farmers have been murdered since February last year when thousands of ruling
ZANU(PF) party squatters launched their invasions of white
Earlier this month the government said it planned to issue
three-month eviction orders to nearly all the country's white farmers, using
a decree under Mugabe's sweeping "presidential powers" that sidesteps court
approval needed to order farmers off their property.
lawyers confirmed that Tapiwa Mashakada, member of parliament for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had been acquitted yesterday
of charges of possessing illegal weapons.
Magistrate Elizabeth Chaponda
ruled that the .303 rifle had been left at Mshakanda's home by a security
guard. Last week the state press said that the charge against the MP was
evidence of "terrorist activities".
MDC officials say the acquittal was
the latest in a series of failed cases against party figures, including
leader Morgan Tsvangirai who had charges of "incitement to violence" thrown
out by the supreme court last week. The party accuses police of harassment
and arrests on spurious grounds.
JOHANNESBURG, 27 November
(IRIN) - Consultation with the government of Zimbabwe would continue, despite
last week's unsuccessful meeting between European Union (EU) representatives and
President Robert Mugabe, sources in Brussels told IRIN on Tuesday.
"We're hoping a ministerial delegation from Harare will be in Brussels
before the end of the year for talks," the source said.
month, EU foreign ministers agreed to invoke Article 96 of the Cotonou agreement
that governs relations between the 15-member bloc and its African, Caribbean and
Pacific partners over concerns with human rights in Zimbabwe.
meant that the EU has formally asked Zimbabwe to discuss such issues as land
reform, ending political violence, ensuring press freedom and judicial
independence, and allowing election observers at next year's presidential poll.
The EU delegation - on a tour of central and southern Africa to review
the Congolese peace process - said it had failed to hold constructive talks with
Mugabe on Friday, and that its relations with the country had reached a low
"Our relations are now at a critical point, we have to admit
that, we have arrived at a critical point," said Belgian Foreign Minister Louis
Michel, who headed the EU team.
The EU source said that if the proposed
ministerial talks in Brussels did not yield results then suspension of specific
economic cooperation programmes with Zimbabwe could follow. "Zimbabwe gets a lot
of preferential access to EU markets, particularly for its food products and
textiles, this access may be reviewed."
Harare-based economist Tony
Hawkins told IRIN that Zimbabwe could suffer economically if lucrative EU beef
and sugar protocols were reviewed or cancelled. "The EU relationship is
basically about aid and trade, the trade component is important to Zimbabwe,
it's the kind of sanction that could definitely hurt the economy," he said.
COMMERCIAL Farmer, Alan Bradley (36), of Royal Visit Farm, Virginia 110
kilometers east of Harare was shot at approximately 7:30pm on 25th
November as he returned home with his family after a Sunday outing. His
condition is critical as the bullet went through his upper arm and into his
chest; fragments of the bullet are visible in his lungs on the X-rays.
The family twin cab has at least two bullet holes in front of the car and it
appears that a bullet went through the driver's window, missing Mrs.. Anthea
Bradley (32) who was driving and Mitchell (6) who was sitting on his fathers
lap. The bullet seems to have then gone into the upper arm of Mr.. Bradley.
Another child Luke (8) who was in the twin cab escaped unhurt.
Recounting the ordeal, a shaken Anthea said that branches were blocking the
driveway onto the farm, in what appeared to be an ambush.
"I was driving and as I stopped, I noticed a man crouching behind a tree. I
cannot identify this person - all I noticed was that he had a white hat on! I
wound down the window and asked him to move the branches but got no immediate
reaction. Alan got out of the car and began to walk towards the branches to
remove them. I then noticed the long barrel of a gun above the mans shoulder and
immediately shouted for Alan to get back in the car. I then accelerated and
drove straight over the log. I saw the man step out and heard two gunshots, my
window shattered. I drove around the house, instinctively knowing that I should
not stop there. As I drove I tried to speak to Alan but he remained silent. I
eventually looked over at him and noticed his shoulder was soaked in blood. I
radioed the farmers network for support and proceeded on an access road towards
the main road where I met my neighbours."
Mrs.. Bradley went on to say that neighbours then drove Alan to Borrowdale
Hospital in Marondera where he was subsequently referred to the Avenues Clinic
with internal bleeding and crushed ribs.
Royal Visit is under a Section 5 (Preliminary) Notice of Acquisition, and
along with 52 other farms in this area have had farming operations disrupted.
There are approximately 50 settlers on the farm, who had struck up a reasonable
working environment with the farm owner. This had not been well received by war
veterans assigned to the area. The farm is 1308 hectares in extent and was
purchased by Mr.. Bradley in 1992.
Tories say Government is treating Mugabe with 'kid gloves'
the Government is treating Zimbabwe's President Mugabe with
The Conservatives say the Blair administration is
embarrassed about Britain's colonial past.
They are urging the
Government to help ensure Zimbabwe's presidential elections are
Andrew Rossindell (Con, Romford) says that as long as President
Robert Mugabe maintains the "pretence" of supporting democracy by
holding elections, Britain must ensure that those elections are free and
"I urge the Government to maintain an ethical foreign policy - do
not ignore Zimbabwe. Take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the
Zimbabwean elections are truly independently and impartially
Failure to do so, he warns, will show that this country has
ignored "the potential creation of a dangerous and threatening rogue
Tory Hugo Swire (E Devon) condemned the recent history of
"violence and intimidation" in Zimbabwe and urged action from the
He said: "Many people cannot understand why this Government
talks tough on terrorism but seems too afraid to mete out the justice which
"The British Government should stop handling Mugabe
with kid gloves. They are behaving as if in some way the British are guilty
and I fear it is part of the Labour Party's continuing embarrassment about
Britain's colonial past."
Junior foreign office minister Ben Bradshaw
acknowledged that a "human tragedy" is unfolding in Zimbabwe. But he urged
MPs to allow existing international initiatives attempting to apply pressure
on Mr Mugabe to be given a chance.
FOR new words to get
accepted into a language, they must reflect the mood of the time, fill in a
vacuum in the standard lexicon and be accepted as an appropriate form of
expression. Thus, the word jambanja which became part of our vocabulary in the
past two years, helped people to accept their confusion with an executive order
directing the police to ignore crimes classified as political.
state-sponsored lawlessness. The police are not expected to intervene or arrest
anyone in a jambanja scene because those taking part will have prior state
blessing and approval. But, only one interest group, war veterans and Zanu PF
supporters, is allowed to engage in a jambanja.
Today, hundreds of
people, mainly from the opposition, have either died or were disabled by
jambanja. Some lost their homes; others were swindled out of millions of dollars
through company jambanjas.
Among the people who manufactured the term
was Joseph Chinotimba, the self-styled leader of the farm invasions.
Luckmore Chakanyuka, a commuter omnibus driver, was quickly sentenced to
three years in jail for attempting to runover Chinotimba in Harare. Stanley
Murinda and Warning Manombe were severely beaten up after being accused of
trying to break into Chinotimba's car. Manombe fractured a collar bone and his
right hand in the assault. Murinda suffered some internal injuries and vomitted
a lot of blood. The two were charged and prosecuted. Those who beat them up are
The two incidents took place in a neighbourhood granted to
Chinotimba after he allegedly shot and injured Anna Maria Maenzanise in another
jambanja in Glen Norah. His trial has been postponed repeatedly to a date
sometime next year.
We have accepted the word jambanja in our language,
with some reluctance.
Now, the government is trying to force many other
words into our language, including terrorism. We are now subjected to intense
hate speech from the state, the kind of fictitiously dangerous utterances meant
to divide and alarm the nation.
The distorted use of the term terrorism
is meant to incite pro-government supporters against the millions who rejected
Zanu PF in the last election.
If the word came in a little earlier,
Chakanyuka would have been arrested and prosecuted for terrorism for trying to
kill a war veteran. Chinotimba's attempted murder charge, for allegedly
attempting to kill Maenzanise, an MDC veteran, must be revised to include
Zimbabwe is in a state of extreme lawlessness. It is not
under a terrorist threat. Lawlessness is not a new thing here. We have lived in
that poisoned climate for the past two years and, everybody accepts that it will
only end when there is a change of government.
Cain Nkala was a victim
of lawlessness; so was Limukani Luphahla of Lupane, Tichaona Chiminya and
Talent Mabika in Buhera, David Stevens in Murewa, Martin Olds in
Nyamandlovu, Matthew Pfebve in Bindura, Felix Mazava in Chivhu and many
others whose fate has gone largely unrecorded.
Nkala and Luphahla were
treated differently, as expected. A number of suspects are already in court.
And, the state media is having a field day of scoops! The legal process must be
given its way to enable Zimbabweans to hear what the accused have to say about
their charges. It seems the government wants to have none of that. With the help
of state journalism, it has already convicted the suspects.
media's behaviour has gone maniacal and out of control, to the point where the
seriousness of life and death is ridiculed.
Gory images of burnt out
bodies are paraded on television and on front pages of newspapers. Bodies of
real people, not fossils. Bodies of family men watched on television at home by
school children and toddlers. This is an abuse of human life for political gain.
To assume that by doing so, one may whip up emotions against the
opposition and sway the vote in next year's election is wishful thinking,
misguided hate and outright day-dreaming.
If Nkala and Luphaphla were
the first victims of political murders before an election, perhaps some voters
could be so shell-shocked that they could drown in the propaganda flood.
But that is not so. Many died in the chaos since February last year. No
arrests were made. Zimbabweans know this. They hate it.
A murder is a
murder. The murderer must be jailed or even executed. It does not matter whether
the murderer supports the MDC or Zanu PF.
Instead of punishing the
nation with nonsensical hype and useless propaganda, let us haul any assumed
murderers before our courts, prosecute them and deal with them.
Zimbabweans are aware of many cases of state-sanctioned brutality and
severe stress inflicted on urban workers, rural school teachers and opposition
They know where the problem lies. They know the difference
between lawlessness and terrorism.
Newspapers and their vendors have not
been spared by the current state of lawlessness. For sometime, vendors in Kwekwe
sold The Daily News under police escort. The newspaper's printing press was
later bombed. No arrests were made.
Their counterparts in most parts of
Mashonaland were threatened and their newspapers burnt, often in the glare of
television cameras. The people who committed all these acts are still free.
The cases of Mabika, Chiminya and Stevens need particular mention. The
High Court ordered the Attorney General to instruct the police to
investigate war veteran Kainos Tom 'Kitsiyatota' Zimunya and CIO operative
Joseph Mwale after they were repeatedly named as the prime suspects.
Andrew Chigovera, the Attorney General, duly complied with the court
directive and forwarded a request to the police. That was ignored.
pressed in Parliament on the progress made in the matter, Patrick Chinamasa,
the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, made a startling
U-turn, accusing the High Court of exceeding its mandate.
have no legal right to order the Attorney General to prosecute criminals," fumed
Chinamasa. "If a High Court judge did so, he was usurping the powers of the
AG because the AG must not take directives or get influenced by the executive,
parliament or the courts."
Chinamasa misdirected himself here. Section
137 of the Electoral Act empowers the courts to refer evidence to the AG.
Stevens was dragged out of Murewa Police Station and murdered. Daniel
Chitekuteku, a Marondera war veteran, was arrested - almost a year later -
and released soon afterwards.
The state media, as in
all the cases involving the murder of assumed government opponents, took no
interest in the matter.
White South African journalists, working for the
Afrikaans media, have since apologised for being used by politicians against
their own people.
So did their colleagues in the former German
Some journalists here are certainly going to do so,
THE ruling party, Zanu
PF, owes the City of Harare more than $20 million in unpaid rates and water
bills incurred at its headquarters and the former head offices at 88 Robert
According to rates and
water bills from the City of Harare compiled on 2 November 2001, Zanu PF
owes it $20 703 003, 74 dating back to December 1999.
Zanu PF owes an
additional $276 865 30 in unpaid rates and water bills from its Robert Mugabe
Road offices since October.
The total amount owed is $20 979 869,04. The
rates include payments for the land being used, improvements, refuse collection
and sewerage charges.
Cuthbert Rwazemba, the City of Harare
spokesperson, was unreachable for comment last night.
But a municipal
official who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation, said the department
was under strict orders not to cut water supplies at the Zanu PF offices.
Non-compliance would risk unspecified action.
The official said: "We
have instructions from our bosses not to cut off supplies there. We have been
threatened that if anyone even dreams of doing so or pursuing the issue, that
person or persons would be answerable directly to Zanu PF's political
Since 3 October, Zanu PF has failed to pay the fixed
monthly charge of $116 399,00 at its Robert Mugabe Road offices, while the
water bill has shot to $15 482,80.
Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, Zanu PF's
secretary for information and publicity, yesterday could only say: "Well, I do
not believe we have such a large bill. But, anyway why don't you fax your
questions to my office and I'll investigate?"
On learning that copies of
the bills were already in the possession of The Daily News, he said: "Please
may you send the copies to my office and I'll have a look at them and see what
is going on."
According to the documents, Zanu PF owes the City of
Harare owner's charges of $19 707 506,85 plus $296 622,43 interest for its
headquarters along Rotten Row.
The rates not paid for the Robert Mugabe
Road offices from October amount to $116 399,00, with the water bill in
arrears of $15 482,80.
Jocelyn Chiwenga, a Zanu PF appointed
commissioner, in a well-publicised crusade two months ago demanded payment from
institutions and individuals who had been boycotting payment over unsatisfactory
THE $219 million tender scam in which Dr
Swithun Mombeshora, the Minister of Transport and Communications, is being
accused of flouting procedures when he awarded a tender for the procurement
of 23 Mercedes Benz vehicles to Zimoco, has taken a new twist.
follows revelations last night that the Judge President of the High Court,
Justice Paddington Garwe, issued a directive that the matter be heard by him
today and not by Justice George Smith, who has presided over the case since
it was brought to court. Dumbfounded High Court officials yesterday confirmed
that Garwe had snatched the case from Smith.
Harare businessman Stanley
Botsh sued Mombeshora, the Government Tender Board and the government's
vehicle procurement arm, the Central Mechanical Equipment Department, after a
tender he had won to supply the vehicles was taken away on the grounds that
he had failed to secure the vehicles.
STUDENTS at the University of Zimbabwe
(UZ) yesterday implored President Mugabe to resign following the brutal
murder on Saturday of Lameck Chemvura, a second year student who was thrown
out of a moving passenger train by rowdy soldiers.
The students made
the call for Mugabe's resignation in a petition to Mugabe in his capacity as
the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
Part of the
petition reads: "The national students' union demands that R G Mugabe, the
Commander-in-Chief of Defence Forces and the President, should humbly resign
over the murder of a student by his armed forces.
"The Zimbabwe National
Army is now a terrorist organisation and those who head it are not
distinguishable from the terrorists themselves. To us, this is a clear
declaration of war against students and the rest of Zimbabweans."
body of Chemvura, 23, was yesterday being kept at the Rusape General Hospital
mortuary. Police in Nyazura yesterday said evidence at hand showed that the
student had been strangled before he was thrown out of the train.
sombre mood prevailed at the UZ campus as thousands of angry students staged
a peaceful demonstration in a moving tribute to their
They gathered outside the Students' Union building
where they were addressed by their leaders and the acting Dean of Students,
Reverend Charles Mugaviri.
Addressing the students, Mugaviri said: "After
the tragic death of Batanai Hadzizi, I never imagined that I was going to
stand before you again with a broken heart.
"Police in Rusape have
confirmed the incident and we are making frantic efforts to locate the family
Hadzizi died in April after police descended on the UZ
halls of residence around midnight and threw teargas canisters into the rooms
causing a serious stampede.
Hadzizi was assaulted by the police and
left for dead.
Henry Maronga, a student, said: "This is very tragic and
we are all greatly shocked. I am particularly sad because Lameck was in our
faculty. "We hope the law will be allowed to take its course without
undue interference. We condemn this murder in the strongest possible
The student leaders declared a week of mourning for
"As students, we no longer regard a government that murders its
students as a legitimate government," the petition reads.
police yesterday sealed the university campus and barred the students from
marching to Munhumutapa Building, which houses the Office of the President
Meanwhile, the MDC yesterday condemned the brutal murder of
Chemvura. Learnmore Jongwe, the party's spokesperson, said in a statement:
"The cold-blooded and callous murder over the weekend by State militias
of defenceless university student Lameck Chemvura, whose only crime was that
he looked like an MDC supporter, signifies the ruthless continuation
of organised violence, torture, abductions, and outright elimination
of opposition or perceived opposition supporters." He said the government is
no different from the Taliban.
Jongwe said Zimbabweans were now
expecting Professor Jonathan Moyo, the government spokesperson, to "employ
the same amount of venom he summoned to condemn the murder of Cain
Jongwe said: "Zimbabweans further await the dispatching of ZBC
chief correspondent Reuben Barwe to Nyazura to cover the mystery surrounding
the torture and subsequent murder of a poor and defenceless student by
these marauding Zanu PF militias."
PRESIDENT Mugabe, once the darling of the
international Press, is now attracting the wrath of the media worldwide as
his government steps up its intimidation campaign against freedom of
Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF - Reporters Without Borders), a
Paris-based international media watchdog, expressed its indignation in a
letter to Mugabe last Friday after the government blacklisted six
Harare-based foreign correspondents accused of aiding terrorism.
called on Mugabe to publicly condemn such measures taken by his government
and to reaffirm his commitment to Press freedom. Robert Ménard, the general
secretary of RSF, said: "Zimbabwe is one of worst places in Africa for local
and international journalists to work. The authorities never cease to develop
new rules to try to muzzle the independent Press and to force foreign
journalists to leave."
He said 20 local journalists have been arrested
and four foreign correspondents have been expelled from the country, since
the beginning of the year. Mugabe was named one of the 39 predators of Press
freedom in the world early this month, the RSF also noted.
storm of protest around the world, an unnamed government spokesman was quoted
in the State-controlled Herald newspaper on Friday describing the journalists
as "terrorists" who had filed false reports on the violence sweeping Bulawayo
following the death of Cain Nkala, a war veterans' leader in
The spokesman's remarks were the government's most serious
attempt to intimidate journalists in the run-up to next year's presidential
The blacklist comprises British correspondents, Jan Raath of
The Times, Peta Thornycroft of The Daily Telegraph, Andrew Meldrum of The
Guardian, and Basildon Peta of The Independent. The other two are Angus Shaw
of the American news agency Associated Press, and Dumisani Muleya, of the
South African newspaper Business Day. A London-based human rights
campaigner, Richard Carver, was also included in the list.
correspondents have reported on numerous human rights abuses,
the State-sponsored murders of some 50 opposition party supporters and
the torture of many more in the past year.
The list's publication
follows an announcement by the government on Wednesday last week, that it
planned to reintroduce a Public Order and Security Bill which will punish
acts of terrorism with life imprisonment or the death penalty. Jonathan Moyo,
the Minister of State for Information and Publicity, says the bill is aimed
at combating terrorism. It prescribes stiff penalties for people who publish
information considered offensive, and life sentences for people accused of
espionage, terrorism, sabotage and other crimes.
Jack Straw, Britain's
Foreign Secretary, on Sunday condemned the government's assertions as "a
clear breach" of the Abuja Agreement, which explicitly referred to Zimbabwe's
commitment to freedom of expression.
He said the British High Commission
in Harare would make urgent representations to Mugabe seeking assurances that
independent journalists will be able to report freely and without
Straw said he would talk to the European Union and the
Commonwealth "to consider how else we should respond" and would make a
further statement in Britain's House of Commons today.
Once, Western values inspired backward governments towards
modernisation and oppressed people to demand the human rights enjoyed by
Nowadays, the values broadcast from the West represent oppression
of the poor and decay of civilisation. They generally seem to be loosing
After the United Kingdom Labour government of Tony Blair
reversed a four-centuries trend of strengthening human rights in Britain by
proposing new draconian anti-terrorism legislation, it is harder for the
Congolese opposition to contradict the government's claim of a need for
infringements on human rights in a situation of true national
After the United States government slowly but visibly counters
centuries of Press freedom traditions being engaged in a war on the other
side of the globe, it becomes more difficult for the national Press in
countries victims to civil war or political instability to cry out for
When women featured in the main bulk of Western
popular culture, broadcast throughout the globe, more and more become sexual
objects, it logically becomes harder for women living in traditional,
patriarchal societies claiming such basic rights as to dress as they like or
choose their partners on their own.
When the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund - due to their structure, totally dominated by
Western powers in decision-making - demand higher prices on basic goods in
Ghana while subsidies on the same goods are accepted in rich countries, thus
preventing imports from poor countries, Western economic liberalism is not
seen as a freedom, but as oppression.
When the veto holders of the UN
Security Council still are composed of four Western, Christian powers and one
Eastern, Confucian power, Muslim, African or Latin American countries and
their citizen have no illusions on which culture represents power and thus
oppression and that, when it comes to important decisions, their voices are
Long time ago, Africans, Asians and Latin Americans lost their
faith in the economic values represented by the North, values that had indeed
"developed" these countries over the last two centuries.
copy these values mostly failed because market structures imposed by Western
powers did not permit equal market access, nor were protective measures,
historically used in the West, allowed to maintain prices somewhat high and
thus promote and protect investments.
In the seventies, these Southern
governments put their trust in international agencies, such as the UN and the
World Bank, to gain some influence by adapting Western economic values to
their own needs.
They were allowed to talk, but were not heard. Instead,
they found themselves in the debt trap of the nineties, again demonstrating
that Western economic values were meant to exploit them.
trust in Western-like modernisation thus faded.
Several attempts to alter
the power sharing model of international agencies have since that utterly
failed, lowering confidence in the indeed Western values promoted by, for
example, UN agencies as a whole.
Western domination over world agencies
and treaties is demonstrated clearly by the recent failures of
Kyoto/Marrakech, the failure to establish an international tribunal of war
crimes and the trends in world trade policy.
Why should The Gambia listen
to Unifem's (United Nations agency promoting women's rights) demand for an
abandonment of the harmful tradition of female genital mutilation when the US
uses its muscles to prevent the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol against
global warming, which could result in the flooding of half of The Gambia's
Why should Guinea spend enormous resources on hundreds of
thousands Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees when rich Australia simply
ignores calls by the UN High Commision for Refugees to let a ship with some
hundreds desperate Afghan refugees enter its territory?
represent humanist values defined by the West after the American and French
revolutions, though most of these values are rooted in non-Western societies
and religions. These agencies, however, promote their Western interpretation
Respect of these values is, however, undermined by
the language of power, expressed louder and louder by Western governments
when international agreements go against them. It seems, critics are only
"allowed" when expressed towards Sudan, Rwanda or Pakistan.
rights for long were the flagship of Western values among oppressed masses in
the South. People demanded political representation and
Oppositional politicians demanded freedom of speech and
association and a free Press. Workers demanded labour and social rights.
Women demanded gender equality. Western governments, the UN and organisations
willingly supported them.
But somehow, one found out, not all human
rights were equally important to Western pressure groups and governments.
Social rights, one observed, were a sleeping human right outside the Western
Labour rights were from times to times branded as communism, which
was a bad thing indeed. So bad, that not even the other human rights counted
if some government did all it could to fight communism.
rights did not matter that much if economic interests were substantial - oil
being the most important example.
Nowadays, human rights do not matter at
all if your government is totally dedicated to wage "war on
So then, the West suddenly doesn't care about Russian human
rights violations in Chechnya, Chinese violations in Sinkiang or
dictatorships in Pakistan, Uzbekistan or Sudan.
Worst of all, human
rights groups now stand increasingly isolated as they have had to criticise
growing human rights violations in the former model states of the US and the
Shaken and bruised, Daily News' journalist Mathuthu
fears for his life
11/27/01 8:03:29 AM (GMT +2)
Mathuthu in Bulawayo
This year alone, I have been arrested on flimsy and
trumped up charges on three occasions. The charges have ranged from
"trespassing at a police station" to writing stories likely to cause fear,
alarm and despondency.
THE number of
times the government has been caught on the wrong side of the law would seem
to suggest it needs an entirely new crop of legal advisers.
Or that it is
so desperate to cling to power its chief law officer is under strict
instructions to ignore the very laws which underpin our
When critics, both at home and abroad, accuse the
government of turning this previously law-abiding country into a virtual
terrorist and lawless one comparable to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan,
they refer to the use by the government of legally dubious methods to silence
A number of citizens, exercising their inalienable right to free
expression and association, have been locked up by the police on one flimsy
charge or another.
Once brought before the courts, most of these cases
have developed into legal farces in which the State has shown it had not done
its homework before pouncing on the innocent citizens, invariably in the dead
of night or in the small hours of the morning.
It may be a
chest-thumping declaration for the government to claim this shows how
law-abiding it is, but that is a very small consolation.
in its reckless pursuit of retaining power at any cost, may now be beyond
shame. But it is ruining the reputation of this country and it may be a long
time before the outside world can consider Zimbabwe a law-abiding country in
which to invest or visit.
The virtual police raid on the headquarters of
Econet last week is a prime example of how political expediency has been
allowed to undermine the rule of law.
Many countries and organisations
have warned President Mugabe that his obsession with retaining power against
all odds will lead to the total isolation of this country.
colleagues in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) have tried,
so far in vain, to rein him in, but we urge them not to give up.
Bakili Muluzi, as the current chairman of Sadc, has recently received a
strongly-worded message from the Africa Division of the international human
rights group, Human Rights Watch, urging Sadc to speak out against the
violence in Zimbabwe.
Peter Takirambudde, the executive director, said in
a statement: "President Mugabe must take urgent steps to restore the rule of
law and end the harassment of Zimbabweans who peacefully express their
opposition to his government.
"The situation in Zimbabwe seems to be
Referring to the arrest of 18 MDC supporters in
connection with the assassination of Cain Nkala, Takirambudde says: "It seems
this killing is being used as an excuse to crack down on the
Last September, the Sadc heads of state met with Mugabe in
Harare for talks during which they were expected to curb his lust for
absolute power. At the end of the talks, there were statements which some
people thought would calm Mugabe into pursuing a less confrontational stance
with his detractors.
But little has changed so far. The violence
Now, there is talk of the government working to
reintroduce the Public Order and Security Bill (POSB), Mugabe's preferred
replacement of the evil Law and Order (Maintenance) Act (LOMA). The POSB, as
crafted by Zanu PF mandarins under Mugabe's tutelage, will be even more evil
The people have every right to protest, but under LOMA even
that right is considered illegal. A recent attempt by the National
Constitutional Assembly to protest against the electoral terrorism the
government is planning against the people suggests it is poised to destroy
the foundations of the democracy ushered in by the results of the 2000
The government must know that when the
people's right to freely express their views is circumscribed, then it is
sowing the seeds of its own destruction.
Every pressure, domestic and
foreign, must be exerted on Mugabe to step back from the brink.
LOVEMORE Madhuku, the
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) last week said Joy
Television, a private station, was an extension of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) and should not be misconstrued as a move towards opening up
the broadcasting industry to new operators.
ZBC leases its air time to
Joy Television on condition the station does not flight news and current
affairs programmes. The station has to focus on entertainment only.
said people can take the government to court over the unconstitutionality of
a number of provisions in the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) which inhibit
Madhuku said: "It is not surprising that not a
single broadcaster was licensed despite the fact that the Act was passed and
signed by Parliament and the President speedily in April this year. The
government does not intend to liberalise electronic media any time
"In the ordinary course of things, people should rise and join the
struggles against the government to force it to respect their wishes for a
new constitution which eventually guarantees them a critical media and
an independent judiciary they want."
Madhuku was addressing a public
meeting dubbed Where are the Television and Radio Stations at a Harare hotel
The meeting was organised by the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe Chapter to discuss the new broadcasting era,
promised by the government after the enactment of the BSA.
said: "It is absurd for one to go to the Supreme Court on a constitutional
issue against the government hoping to get a favourable judgement. That would
be a futile exercise because the recently appointed judges are sympathetic to
He castigated the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe
(BAZ) saying it had no recognisable role other than advising Jonathan Moyo,
the Minister of State for Information and Publicity on issues of broadcasting
The BAZ was relegated to an advisory board and not an active
player in policy implementation in the sector, Madhuku said.
said last year's court order to liberalise the airwaves meant that anyone
could operate a broadcasting station.
"According to the judgement of the
Supreme Court in the Capital Radio case last year, a licence was not a
precondition for one to start operating a station," he
Participants at the meeting were concerned that Moyo would award a
second licence for a national broadcaster to a government outfit such as the
New Ziana that emerged from the restructuring of the country's sole news
agency and government-controlled community newspapers.
Moyo is the
final licencing authority in an application for a broadcasting license,
according to the Act.
But Madhuku said the government cannot establish a
broadcasting station according to BSA in the planned New Ziana because the
Act restricts ownership of a station to a 10 percent stake per individual and
for government to have a 100 percent stake would be a breach of the
"The government cannot give a licence to a company which it wholly
owns. It would be breaching the 10 percent ownership provision," he
The BSA undermined the right to impart and receive information as
granted by the Supreme Court, he said.
Madhuku said Zimbabwe should
establish an Independent Broadcasting Authority - a regulatory body - that
oversees the broadcasting industry. The authority would ensure that deserving
operators are licenced.
ABOUT 200 members of St
Lukes Anglican parish in Mufakose, Harare, have said the decision by Bishop
Nobert Kunonga, the new head of the Anglican Church's Diocese of Harare, to
remove their priest, Reverend Petros Nyatsanza,
The parishioners recently braved a drizzle
to demonstrate against the decision at the offices of the Diocese in Harare
on the second floor of Paget House in the city centre.
They wanted to
present a petition to Kunonga.
"We are now beginning to doubt his
Christianity," said Joseph Time, the parish's youth chairman. "We think there
is another agenda, which might be political."
Susan Mangwende, the
chairperson of the Mothers' Union, concurred with Time, saying they did not
know why Kunonga wanted Nyatsanza removed.
Soon after his appointment as
the Anglican Bishop of Harare five moths ago, Kunonga was accused of making
political statements, described by fellow clergymen as divisive and
Time said Kunonga found Nyatsanza guilty of failure to comply
with unspecified church rules.
He understood, however, that Kunonga
and Nyatsanza had strong personal differences and disagreed on certain
Church insiders said Nyatsanza had backed retired Reverend Tim
Neill ahead of Kunonga to become the new head of the Anglican Church diocese
in Harare, while Reverend Godfrey Tawonezvi, then the priest at St Pauls
parish in Highfield, had been among Kunonga's supporters.
said to have rewarded Tawonezvi by appointing him Dean of the Diocese of
Harare. He was alleged to have plotted Nyatsanza's transfer to the St Pauls
parish in Highfield as punishment.
The congregation said they also wanted
a Reverend, whom Kunonga has assigned to the parish, removed. They accused
the clergyman of sexually abusing young women in the church and involvement
in adulterous affairs.
Kunonga, who has only been Bishop for five months,
has already had several differences with his flock in Harare. Kunonga's
secretary said: "He is not interested in commenting." Kunonga has since shut
the door on the media saying he was unhappy over the way he had been reported
Efforts to contact the Reverend accused of sexual immorality failed
as he was said to be away from home.
Basildon Peta, Alex Duval Smith and Ben Russell 28 November 2001 Riot
police in Zimbabwe fought running battles with students yesterday
and arrested 19 pro-democracy activists, including a prominent
intellectual, after they tried to stage a demonstration in the capital,
At Westminster, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said Britain
remained "profoundly concerned'' at the recent increase in violence in the
country and denounced as "preposterous" signals last week from President
Robert Mugabe's office that journalists, including The Independent's
Harare-based correspondent, are "assisting terrorists''.
University of Zimbabwe students stoned police, who retaliated with tear gas,
after they tried to stage a campus demonstration over the killing
last Saturday of fellow-student Lameck Chemvura, 23, thrown to his death
by soldiers from a train. A soldier is under arrest. The students
yesterday branded President Mugabe a "terrorist'' and called on him to
Mr Chemvura died after soldiers harassed passengers and accused
them of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The
party was declared a "terrorist group'' last week, although it has 57 seats
The demonstration by activists from Zimbabwe's largest
civic group, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), was called to
protest plans by 77-year-old president Mugabe to change electoral laws. Those
arrested included the respected and outspoken law professor, Lovemore
Madhuku, chairman of the NCA. In yesterday's Independent, Mr Madhuku said
President Mugabe was effectively running Zimbabwe under a state of
Last night, NCA executive director Perpetua Bganya said Mr
Madhuku remained in custody and she and lawyers had been refused access to
him. It appeared the activists were being detained for "obstructing the flow
of traffic''. Last week, police thwarted a similar NCA demonstration to
protest plans to amend Zimbabwe's Electoral Act. The amendments will ban
foreign monitoring of presidential elections due by April, forbid private
organisations from conducting voter education and deny voting rights to more
than million Zimbabweans living abroad.
In the Commons yesterday Mr
Straw staged the vigorous defence of the rights of journalists to report the
situation in Zimbabwe and praised the "great courage'' shown by Zimbabwean
journalists, including The Independent's Basildon Peta, "recording the
situation against the most flagrant intimidation''. Last week, Mr Peta was
included among a small group of journalists whom the government said it would
treat as though they were "assisting terrorists''.
Mr Straw also told
the Commons that the Commonwealth ministerial action group would discuss
Zimbabwe in a tele-conference next month and hold a meeting in London in
January. If violence continues to rise, the Commonwealth is likely to back
planned European Union sanctions from February. These would include an end to
EU aid, suspension of trade privileges and travel bans on Mr Mugabe, his
family and aides.
* The World Association of Newspapers yesterday awarded
its annual press freedom prize to Geoffrey Nyarota, 50, editor-in-chief of
Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News for his
commitment to reporting the truth despite a "constant campaign of
Zimbabwean students clash with riot police
Paramilitary riot police in
the Zimbabwean capital have fought running battles with hundreds of
The protest in Harare is against the killing of one
of a student by soldiers.
Police have fired tear gas and the students
have retaliated with stones.
The students were angered by the death of
Lameck Chemvura, 22, who witnesses said was strangled and then thrown from a
moving train by soldiers on Saturday. Chemvura was accused of supporting the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"The Zimbabwe National Army
is now a terrorist organisation. This is a clear declaration of war against
students and the rest of Zimbabweans," said a petition circulated by the
It called for the resignation of President Robert
Mugabe, 77, who is commander-in-chief of the army.
Wayne Bvudzijena said Chemvura's killing took place during a brawl and was
not political motivated.
Bvudzijena said one soldier had been arrested
and charged with Chemvura's murder, although witnesses said six soldiers
flung him from the train.
Student killed as Mugabe steps up
war on opposition
Harare - A soldier has been arrested over the death of a
University of Zimbabwe student who was thrown from a moving train at the
weekend. Political support for the opposition is strong on the university campus
in Harare and the death of Lameck Chemvura, a second-year-student, is seen as
part of increasing evidence that the government has launched a campaign of
lightning strikes on people and areas suspected of supporting its opponents.
Constitutional experts warned that President Robert Mugabe has effectively
declared a back-door state of emergency and is often circumventing his
parliament, ordering troop deployments, branding critics "terrorists" and ruling
Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, who addresses
Parliament today on Zimbabwe, is expected to say sanctions will soon be the
European Union's only means to counter the blatancy and brutality of the
77-year-old President's campaign to stay in power. President Mugabe's main
weapon in his abuse of power is his Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)
Act. Any ruling he makes under its provisions is valid for six months before it
must be turned into draft legislation and put to parliament. Lovemore Madhuku,
the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, a pro-democracy umbrella
group, said: "In almost every way, Mugabe is now running this country under an
undeclared state of emergency. He is using the Act to amend existing laws and
create new ones without having to put them to parliament. The way he is
operating, he does not need to declare a state of emergency."
Last week, an EU delegation ostensibly concerned with the war
in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Zimbabwe has 11,000 troops, was "told
off" by President Mugabe for "lecturing" him on human rights and the rule of
law, diplomats said. The EU, which has been barred from sending monitors ahead
of presidential elections expected by April, has started a 75-day process
leading to the severance of trade privileges and the imposition of sanctions at
the end of January. Last week, Mr Mugabe, in power for 21 years and wanting
another five-year term, said opposition politicians and their party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), were "terrorists". The President's
Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, said journalists, including The
Independent's correspondent, Basildon Peta, were "aiding terrorism". The
government plans to activate a Public Order Security Bill which will punish acts
of "insurgency, banditry, sabotage, terrorism, treason and subversion" with life
imprisonment or the death penalty. President Mugabe also issued a new decree on
seizure of commercial farmland. The arbitrary amendment of the Land Acquisition
Act gives the Zimbabwe government the right to allocate land without giving
owners the chance to appeal. If they resist they are liable to a fine or two
Since last year's elections, the MDC has held one-third of
seats in parliament, allowing the opposition to block changes to the
constitution. But the Act now being used by President Mugabe gives him a free
rein. Only the Supreme Court can rule his actions unconstitutional, as it did
last week when it cleared the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, of treason, but the
process takes months. Last week the shadow Justice Minister, David Coltart, was
held up at gunpoint by police at an airstrip near Harare. Mr Coltart, who was
told a death squad was trying to target him, said: "The international community
needs to start thinking through the consequences of Mugabe stealing this
election. "There are two things we already know: the rest of this country's
skilled people, the teachers, the accountants, the lawyers will leave, and there
will be a great danger of massive civil strife."
From The Guardian (UK), 27
Editors tell Mugabe to withdraw
Johannesburg - The International Press Institute has written to
the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, asking him to repudiate his
government's accusation that local and foreign journalists are colluding with
terrorists. On Friday the state-owned newspaper the Herald quoted a government
spokesman as saying that six journalists, including the Guardian correspondent,
Andrew Meldrum, were "assisting terrorists" and would be dealt with in the same
manner as terrorists. Mr Mugabe has repeatedly called his political opponents
terrorists in the weeks since September 11, in an effort to justify his campaign
against them. Johann Fritz, the IPI director, wrote that the allegation
endangered the reporters' lives and press freedom. The IPI also expressed
concern that the government was using the terrorism issue to lay the foundations
for new media restrictions, including a ban on "false statements prejudicial to
the state or that incite public disorder, violence, affect the defence and
economic interests of the country or undermine public confidence in the security
forces". Meanwhile, a student has been killed in the latest political violence.
Passengers on a train near Mutare said soldiers strangled and then threw Lameck
Chemvura, 20, to his death after accusing him of being an opposition supporter.
A farmer, Alan Bradley, is in a critical condition after being shot near his
farm 120 miles southeast of Harare.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 27
Farmer fights for life after
Bulawayo - A white farmer was in critical condition in a Harare
hospital last night after an attack by gunmen. Alan Bradley was being driven by
his wife, Anthea, to their farm, Royal Visit, in the Macheke area of Zimbabwe,
80 miles south-east of Harare, when the attack happened on Sunday. Their two
young children were with them. They were forced to stop when they found logs
placed across the road. Mr Bradley, 36, got out of the vehicle to remove the
obstruction and, when he climbed back inside, shots were fired. He was hit in
the chest, the bullets just missing his son Luke, six, who was sitting on his
lap. Mrs Bradley, 32, sped on to their home. Neighbours drove her husband to the
nearest hospital, 20 miles away, where he was given emergency treatment before
being transferred to the intensive care unit of the Avenues Clinic in
Earlier this year, about 50 so-called war veterans on his farm
stopped him planting crops. He had recently built one of the largest privately
owned dams in Zimbabwe, both for irrigation and to supply nearby tribal people
with free water. The Macheke area is home to some of the hardiest of Zimbabwe's
approximately 3,500 white commercial farmers. It has been among the worst hit
since President Robert Mugabe ordered invasions of 85 per cent of white-owned
land. More than half of the area's farmers have been forced to stop work. Nine
white farmers have been killed. The first was David Stevens, tortured and shot
in front of police in Macheke in April last year. Mr Stevens was an official of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
is standing against Mr Mugabe in presidential elections early next year. The
United States yesterday poured scorn on the Zimbabwean government's accusation
that journalists were aiding terrorism. Richard Boucher, state department
spokesman, said: "The statements reflect a continuing trend of harassment of the
Comment from The Guardian (UK), 27
The other war on
Zimbabwe's president is right behind
George Bush - as long as it helps him remove his political opponents and
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is keeping its viewers
fully abreast of the war on terror. Its CNN-style strap lines are updated with
news of the latest swoops on terrorists, of those supporting an intricate
network of killers, and appeals for the population at large not to panic. But
Zimbabweans have good reason to be alarmed. In the ever more Kafkaesque world of
their country's politics it is those using violence to spread fear who now claim
to be fighting terror, and their victims who stand accused of terrorism. Robert
Mugabe has usurped the international "war on terror" in a transparent attempt to
legitimise his own campaign of violence against those who want free elections.
As the US demanded to know where world leaders stood in the pursuit of Osama bin
Laden, Mugabe leapt forward to assure President Bush that he was right behind
him. To prove it, the Zimbabwean government is vigorously identifying all kinds
of "terrorists" on its soil. They include the leadership of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, which is all but certain to win a free election
in the unlikely event it gets the chance; white farmers disgruntled at the
expropriation of their property; the British government for insisting that
Mugabe ought to adhere to the rule of law; and now local and foreign journalists
for reporting who is behind the campaign of violence and intimidation.
The government propaganda sheets have accused the MDC of
pursuing Nazi terror tactics to grab power. There have been at least 100
political murders in the 18 months since Mugabe lost a referendum on
constitutional reform. The dead were either opposition activists, or targeted to
make clear to ordinary Zimbabweans the dangers of opposing Mugabe. The police -
now the president's private political army - rarely bother to investigate such
killings or make arrests. Yet this was not the terrorism Zimbabwe's government
had in mind last week as it revealed plans for new security laws even more
draconian than those left over from British rule. The new public order and
security bill mandates the death penalty or life imprisonment for a host of
offences including, not surprisingly, terrorism. A few days earlier, Mugabe
referred to his opponents as terrorists no less than two dozen times in a single
speech. Later, he accused the British government of supporting terrorists.
He is not the first to use the actions of western governments
as an excuse for his own repressive moves. After Margaret Thatcher barred from
the airwaves the voices of those deemed to be terrorists in Northern Ireland, PW
Botha's apartheid regime promptly tightened already draconian laws restricting
the dissemination of its opponents' views. When challenged, Botha said he was
merely following the example set by the British government. At the fore of the
charade is the country's information minister, Jonathan Moyo. He is wanted in
Kenya and South Africa for alleged fraud. A decade ago he was routinely
denouncing Mugabe as a corrupt dictator with blood on his hands. Now he is the
most fervent praise-singer. On Friday, Harare's Herald newspaper - the
minister's pet mouthpiece - announced that a group of Zimbabwean and foreign
journalists were de facto terrorists, including the Guardian's correspondent in
Harare, Andrew Meldrum. The article quoted an anonymous source - in reality Moyo
– as saying: "We would like them [the journalists] to know that we agree with
President Bush that anyone who in any way finances, harbours or defends
terrorists is himself a terrorist. We, too, will not make any difference between
terrorists and their friends and supporters." In September, Moyo said the
Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and the BBC were "working for British
intelligence". Having banned virtually all non-resident reporters from entering
Zimbabwe, he then argued that those journalists who refuse to be deterred were
"at the forefront of violating the rule of law and yet they tell the world that
there is no rule of law in the country".
Before "terrorism" came along, the "rule of law" was the
favoured doublespeak. The opposition was pounced on for real or imagined
infractions of the law - such as the attempt to charge the MDC leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, with treason for saying that if the president did not go peacefully
he might be overthrown violently - while Mugabe's supporters literally got away
with murder. Mugabe and many of his acolytes really have made violent threats
against opponents. They have not been arrested. Neither have the war veterans,
soldiers and others unleashed by the government against political opponents and
white farmers with a mandate to beat, plunder and kill. Mugabe granted them
immunity from prosecution for a vast array of crimes. He also insisted that
white farmers were subject to the rule of law while ignoring court rulings in
their favour. All of this is intended to get Mugabe re-elected next year. You
might wonder why he is bothering with a vote. If he wins, he will have a hard
time convincing anyone who does not have a vested interest in seeing Zanu PF
retain power that the election is anything but a sham. His furious encounter
with the visiting EU delegation last week left little doubt that the Europeans
are not taken in. Yet that is the paradox of Mugabe's actions. He will probably
have an election because he still craves a stamp of legitimacy that he sees as
distinguishing him from Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko or Nigeria's succession of
military rulers. But it says much more that he has to use their methods to
ensure a win at the ballot box.
Chris McGreal is the Guardian's Africa correspondent
Comment from The Washington Times,
Zimbabwe on the
While the attention of the world is focused on the war against
terrorism in Afghanistan, half a world away in Zimbabwe, state-sponsored
repression threatens to plunge one of southern Africa's most prosperous
countries into a vortex of political violence and social chaos. The crisis in
Zimbabwe has been building for years. President Robert Mugabe has turned his
country into an economic and political basket case. The decline has been marked
by government mismanagement, economic collapse, and rising ethnic and racial
tensions. As Mr. Mugabe, once a popular leader, has fallen from hero to
hanger-on, his efforts to cling to power have become increasingly desperate.
In mid-November, to cite one recent example, Mr Mugabe issued a
decree allowing his government to dispossess white Zimbabwean farmers of their
land before a judicial appeal is completed. This was the latest strategy in what
is known as the "fast track land resettlement program," in which Mr. Mugabe
cynically hopes to win the votes in next year's elections for president by
confiscating white-owned farmland and redistributing it to poor black farmers.
Thus, Mr. Mugabe seeks to further inflame and politicize the legitimate need to
correct the post-colonial patterns of land ownership in Zimbabwe in which
whites, who make up less than 1 percent of the population, control the majority
of the country's most attractive farm land.
Seeking to stem the maddening spiral into chaos in Zimbabwe,
Africa's most influential countries, Nigeria and South Africa, led a
Commonwealth effort earlier this year to broker a settlement aimed at ending the
human-rights abuses and violent farm takeovers. The resulting agreement
stipulated that the government of Zimbabwe would stop promoting violent and
extra-legal land appropriations and Britain, the former colonial power, would
pay for an orderly and legal land-reform program to right the land imbalance.
But violence continues to be used as a tool not only against white farmers but
also against the government's black political opponents. According to Amnesty
International and local Zimbabwean human- rights groups, the violence is carried
out by government-sponsored partisans. The most notorious are the "war
veterans," who regularly threaten and beat political opponents. In the past 18
months, the "war veterans" have forced up to 70,000 black farm workers to leave
In addition, journalists, judges and human-rights activists who
have asserted their professional independence have been arrested, threatened and
harassed by the government. The leading independent daily newspaper, the Daily
News, has had its printing press bombed. And just this month its editor, Geoff
Nyarota, was arrested on unspecified charges and later released, as part of an
ongoing pattern of government harassment. Members of the main political
opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have also been attacked,
beaten and even killed by ruling party partisans. Earlier this year, Zimbabwean
victims of political violence filed a landmark case in the United States against
Mr. Mugabe. A U.S. judge ruled recently that although Mr. Mugabe, as head of
state, enjoyed immunity, he could be held liable for party-sponsored violence in
his capacity as head of his country's ruling party.
But violence and government repression are only part of the
story. The country's once-vibrant economy, which depends heavily on agriculture,
has collapsed. In addition, erratic rainfall, steep rises in the price of staple
foods, high unemployment and disruption of the commercial farming sector have
contributed to the specter of famine. The United Nations has agreed to provide
emergency food assistance to the 500,000 Zimbabweans who are at risk of
starvation. Even with this impending humanitarian disaster, Mr. Mugabe's
government is seeking to take political advantage by monopolizing the
distribution of food aid. With elections nearing, the government of Zimbabwe is
counting on international community attention being diverted elsewhere. Speaking
about the party's political opponents a ruling party official was quoted in the
government-controlled press as saying, "If they [government opponents] are
looking for a blood bath they will certainly get it." Given the consistent and
clear warnings about impending chaos in Zimbabwe, an equally firm international
response is needed to prevent the country from dissolving into a fratricidal