[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
HARARE, 28 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - The two factions of the Zimbabwean opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) could engage in a war of attrition over
the ownership of the organisation's name and assets, some party office
bearers are predicting.
After most voters responded to Tsvangirai's call to boycott the weekend
senate elections, MDC officials said the factions were positioning
themselves to wrest control of the party's assets.
Except for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, where pro-senate faction
candidates swept all the seats, other MDC strongholds, like the capital,
Harare, and Matabeleland North and South provinces, heeded Tsvangirai's call
to boycott the elections.
Even in one of the constituencies in Bulawayo with a registered 75,000
voters, the winning MDC candidate managed just under 2,000 votes.
On Monday the ruling ZANU-PF seemed set to win an overwhelming majority,
bagging 21 out of the 31 contested seats in the results declared so far,
while the rift in the MDC deepened.
The MDC's pro-senate faction announced that vice-president Gibson Sibanda
had suspended Tsvangirai last week on Thursday, after a disciplinary
committee found him guilty of violating the party's constitution by issuing
a call to boycott the poll.
Ironically, Sibanda chairs the disciplinary committee of the MDC. "Mr
Tsvangirai is suspended from performing any functions as MDC leader and will
not be allowed to hold meetings under the MDC banner. He has also been
barred from visiting MDC offices, including Harvest House [the party's
headquarters] and is to surrender all MDC property except two vehicles
issued for his personal use," Sibanda told journalists.
Tsvangirai told IRIN on Sunday that his suspension was unconstitutional.
"The attempt to suspend me is an unfortunate disaster by my colleagues in
the struggle. Their actions indicate that they are desperate for power and
... will only play into the hands of the government, which wants to see the
MDC weak and divided."
Tsvangirai said only the party's congress, expected to be held in February,
had the power to suspend him.
However, Gift Chimanikire, the MDC's deputy secretary-general, who is in the
pro-senate camp, said the disciplinary committee could suspend anybody,
including the president. "Nobody is above the law, and we will not allow
another dictator to emerge from our ranks," he asserted.
Senior MDC officials in the pro-senate camp told IRIN that if Tsvangirai did
not abide by the terms of the suspension, they would seek relief in court.
"We are simply going to ask for the protection of the courts if Tsvangirai
does not abide by the suspension."
There is a perception among political observers that the judges, some of
whom are sympathetic to the ruling party, would grant the use of the party's
name and emblem to the less popular pro-senate faction to further
destabilise the opposition.
Hundreds of MDC supporters in Harare thronged Harvest House on Monday saying
they wanted to ensure that Tsvangirai was not hindered from working there.
Some told IRIN that the pro-senate faction would not be allowed to set foot
at the Harare offices.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 28 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's National Association of NGOs
(NANGO) has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute
government officials responsible for the country's controversial urban
clean-up campaign five months ago.
UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka visited Zimbabwe in July to assess the
aftermath of campaign, which began in May 2005, and compiled a scathing
report that called on the government to punish those who, "with indifference
to human suffering" had carried out the evictions and subsequent destruction
of homes and informal markets.
The envoy, also the director of UN-HABITAT, labelled Operation Murambatsvina
a "breach of both national and international human rights law provisions
guiding evictions". NANGO wants Tibaijuka's report to be implemented, and
the perpetrators brought to book.
The ICC, unlike the International Court of Justice, can try individuals and
investigate crimes, such as drug trafficking and genocide, referred to it by
governments as well as the UN Security Council.
Rejecting the NGOs' call, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister
Nicholas Goche said the government was not going to arrest anyone for
pursuing a national programme.
"Like those international organisations that want to say we committed a
crime against humanity by destroying illegal, degrading and inhumane
shelters, local organisations demanding spurious prosecutions know that they
are fooling themselves. It is funny that no one is saying anything about the
follow-up housing programme that has already borne so much fruit," Goche
NANGO spokesman Fambirai Ngirande told IRIN that the NGOs were also
concerned about the growing needs and sense of insecurity of the clean-up
campaign victims still in transit camps.
Over 700,000 people were displaced in the operation that was part of the
government's urban renewal programme, which critics have claimed was a
poorly planned, pre-emptive security-led strike against the disgruntled
urban population, carried out amid fears of a post-election uprising against
"Organisations are not allowed free access to the affected people - it is
very difficult for anyone to state their exact needs. Besides, there is a
lot of ongoing police-enforced movement of people from one transit camp to
another. As a result, people are not secure at all," Ngirande told IRIN.
In a statement, NANGO welcomed the Zimbabwean government's recent acceptance
of UN assistance in providing shelter, food and basic needs to those
affected by the clean-up exercise.
The Bulawayo-based NGO, Christians Together for Justice and Peace (CTJP),
has also voiced an appeal for those affected by Operation Murambatsvina. The
organisation called on the government to address the problems of
homelessness, poverty and unemployment, and implored all churches to provide
support to the poor and the victims of political abuse, in defiance of
Relations between government and NGOs have deteriorated since the
announcement of a new policy last month, which makes it mandatory for all
NGOs to apply to their respective provincial governor's office for
permission to operate. NANGO has ordered its members to ignore the policy,
seen as an interim measure until the controversial NGO bill of 2004 is
The bill, which will ban the activities of organisations involved in human
rights and civic education campaigns, also outlaws foreign funding of NGOs,
and would subject NGOs to strict vetting by a committee appointed by the
government, with minimal NGO representation.
The bill was passed by parliament late in 2004 but President Robert Mugabe
has refused to sign it into law and referred it back to parliament for
NANGO has argued that its members were not consulted about the new policy
and said it would ignore the directive until the government had canvassed it
with the affected organisations.
Goche denied that government had come up with an alternative policy to the
bill, saying it had only drawn up interim guidelines to supervise aid
distribution while final amendments were made to sections of the NGO bill.
"In the meantime, all organisations are encouraged to co-operate with their
relevant governors. The policy is not meant to sideline anyone, but to
ensure accountability among NGOs so they can remain true to their stated
agendas," Goche told IRIN. "Those with clear agendas should not complain
when supervisors come around."
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--A farmers' support group Monday called on Zimbabwe
authorities to take swift action to end lawlessness in rural areas after the
gruesome weekend slaying of a white dairy farmer.
Intruders strangled Don Stuart and torched his body and his homestead with
gasoline siphoned from farm vehicles in an attack on his property 30
kilometers southwest of Harare early Sunday, the Justice for Agriculture
"The Trust finds the nature of this killing particularly abhorrent at this
time of Zimbabwe's acute humanitarian food plight and foreign currency
shortages," it said in a statement which described Stuart as "another of
Zimbabwe's few remaining productive commercial farmers."
Police said the attack was under investigation.
The support group said Stuart's death underscored what it called "the abject
breakdown of the rule of law in commercial farming areas." Few items
appeared to have been stolen from the dairy, horticulture and vegetable farm
in the Norton district.
About 20 white farmers have died in an often violent campaign to seize some
5, 000 white-owned farms since 2000 in a program launched by President
Robert Mugabe purportedly to correct imbalances in colonial era land
Less than 250 white farmers are still running productive farms. According to
Justice for Agriculture, about another 60 have been driven off their land in
the past three months as land confiscations were stepped up after a lull.
A week ago, a Danish-owned dairy farm south of Harare was ordered to
surrender part of its land to a High Court judge, a businessman and a group
of black settlers.
Humanitarian agencies estimate about a third of the population of 12 million
are currently in need of food aid in Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket.
Disruptions in the agriculture-based economy have been blamed for acute
shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline and essential imports as the
nation faces its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Monday, November 28, 2005; Posted: 11:44 a.m. EST (16:44 GMT)
President Robert Mugabe's party has taken a near 90 percent majority in the
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- President Robert Mugabe tightened his grip on
Zimbabwe on Monday with victory in a Senate poll seen by critics as a mere
formality, but analysts say low voter turnout showed deepening
dissatisfaction with his 25-year rule.
Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party went
into Saturday's elections for a new upper chamber of parliament a certain
winner, thanks to an opposition boycott in many constituencies and electoral
laws that reserve seats for loyalists such as tribal chiefs.
Final results announced Monday showed the ruling party won 24 of the 31
seats that were up for grabs against seven for the main opposition, giving
it a near 90 percent majority in the 66-seat Senate that will have the final
word on any new laws.
But analysts say that despite this victory, the government had been
embarrassed and Mugabe's own credibility hurt by a voter turnout of 10
percent after a boycott campaign by the main opposition leader, Morgan
"The government's confidence has been shaken ... and there will be many
people in his camp who will be looking at this as a sign that they are
isolated and are losing support," said Eldred Masunungure, a leading
"What this might do is to undermine their loyalty to Mugabe and ZANU-PF, and
although we might not see public desertions, some of his lieutenants will be
wary of taking open positions against the opposition," he said.
Tsvangirai, whose opposition Movement for Democratic Change split into two
bitter factions over the November 26 polls, claims most Zimbabweans believed
it was pointless to "continue taking part in fake elections."
The MDC chief ordered a boycott, saying participation would lend legitimacy
to a government that routinely rigs votes.
But a rival MDC faction said Tsvangirai had lost an internal vote on the
issue and took part in the polls, fielding 26 candidates and winning seven
Analysts say the low turnout reflected some support for Tsvangirai's MDC
faction, but mostly growing voter cynicism and fatigue after a string of
major elections that have brought no change in Zimbabwe's fortunes.
"I don't think this is essentially an endorsement of Tsvangirai as a leader,
but a reflection of the national mood," said one southern African diplomat.
"I think this is more of an indictment against the current government of
Zimbabwe and against President Mugabe," he said.
A senior government minister dismissed claims that voters had backed
Tsvangirai by boycotting the poll or that Mugabe's credibility had been
dented, saying many had stayed away because it was not seen as a decisive
"It's not so much a matter of how many people have voted in that election.
It's about how it was run, it's about whether they were incident- and
violence-free, which is what this election was about," said Chen
Chimutengwende, a Cabinet minister in charge of government public relations.
The MDC was formed in 1999 by trade union officials led by Tsvangirai,
student leaders and human rights activists, who accuse Mugabe of ruining one
of Africa's strongest economies.
The party says it would have won elections held in recent years if Mugabe
had not rigged the votes.
Mugabe insists he and his party won fairly, and dismisses the MDC as a pawn
of former colonial power Britain and other Western critics of his
Political analysts say that although the MDC remains the most serious threat
to Mugabe's rule, the party has been weakened by years of infighting over
strategy and voter apathy.
28/11/2005 16:45 - (SA)
Harare - Senate polls held in Zimbabwe at the weekend recorded a
historically low voter turnout, said election observers on Monday,
describing it as a silent protest against President Robert Mugabe's regime.
The average percentage of voters that bothered to cast their ballots was
less than 30%, the lowest recorded in 25 years, while taking part at all
split the main opposition party.
Reginald Matchaba-Hove, head of the respected Zimbabwe elections support
network, said: "It's a very low voter turnout.
"We believe this is the lowest turnout ever polled in Zimbabwe... it's the
lowest ever recorded from 1980.
"This clearly implies a protest vote by Zimbabweans against the status quo."
Over-dominance of one party
But, analysts expressed concern that the low turnout effectively helped
Mugabe, 81, cement his grip on power on the southern African country he had
led since independence from Britain in 1980.
Matchaba-Hove said it "effectively entrenches the over-dominance of one
The ZESN also attributed the dismal turnout of as low as 16% in some parts
of the country, to "dwindling interest in the integrity of the ballot, the
economic hardships and the political crisis".
At least 80% of Zimbabweans lived under the poverty threshold, more than 70%
were jobless, inflation was more than 400% and aid agencies estimated that
some 4.3 million people in the 13-million population needed food assistance
Party elections spokesperson Webster Shamu said the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) said elections "have once again
demonstrated that the people of Zimbabwe can't be bought or sold; they have
matured in their pursuit of democracy".
Divided MDC Zanu-PF won 42 of the 50 contested seats to the upper house of
the country's parliament, with the results of two seats outstanding.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) went to the polls
bitterly divided - one faction behind participation in the elections and
another headed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai advocating a boycott.
The MDC garnered only six seats.
MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda said a party national disciplinary
committee resolved to suspend Tsvangirai from his position as president with
Tsvangirai was barred from visiting any of the party's offices and told to
surrender all party property in his possession.
In response he said the "attempt to suspend" him from the party leadership
was unfortunate and against MDC rules.
Mugabe's party went to the polls with 19 of the 50 contested seats in its
bag after the opposition failed to field candidates in all the seats.
The long-time leader had the prerogative to appoint six members of the
senate, while another 10 were traditional chiefs who were known to be
The divisions in the MDC were also seen to have had an impact on the low
28/11/2005 10:06 - (SA)
Harare - In cash-poor Zimbabwe, where Aids affects one in five people,
Clever Nyowani is one of the lucky few.
Three years after he became severely ill, suffering through long bouts of
diarrhoea that left him weak and walking with an improvised crutch, the
imposing rank marshal is back on his feet and has regained weight.
"Luckily I have a sister who travels regularly to Botswana and buys me
anti-retroviral drugs. Otherwise I could have simply waited to die because I
could have never afforded the drugs and they are not so easy to get
With only 20 000 Zimbabweans living with Aids on life-prolonging
anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment, Nyowani has had to take an alternate route
to get the life-prolonging drugs.
After announcing plans to provide free ARVs to 100 000 Zimbabweans by year
end, the government recently acknowledged that it would not meet its target
because of a foreign currency shortage.
Cannot afford the drugs
"We were targeting to provide free ARVs to at least 90 000 HIV-positive
people but due to the shortage of foreign currency, we are unable to meet
that figure," Obert Mugurungi an official in the health ministry was quoted
as saying in privately-owned Daily Mirror.
Last month the state-owned Herald reported that stocks of the locally
manufactured drugs have dwindled due of shortages of foreign exchange.
Drug stocks at about 48 public health centres across the country were not
expected to last until December, according to sources who attended an
emergency meeting called by the government last month to discuss the looming
Zimbabwe is one of the countries hardest hit by the HIV and Aids pandemic
with an infection rate of 20% and at least 3 000 people dying weekly from
Aids-related illness - or about one person every three minutes - according
to the National Aids Council.
"Many people are trying herbal medicines while others are just waiting to
die because they can't get ARVs," Angeline Chiwatani, spokesperson for
Network for HIV-positive Women in Zimbabwe, told AFP.
"Because of lack of foreign currency most hospitals have run out of ARVs and
it's a dangerous situation."
"We are advising people not to start taking ARVs because there is a risk of
drug resistance if they take the drugs and later stop because the drugs are
no longer available.
"ARV treatment is supposed to be uninterrupted for life," said Chiwatani.
Opposition lawmaker Blessing Chebundo, who chairs a parliamentary committee
on health said fewer than 20 000 people were receiving ARVs out of an
estimated 300 000 people in need of the life-prolonging drugs.
"On World Aids Day, we should be mourning the loss of lives that could have
been prevented or at least delayed if drugs were available," Chebundo told
About 90% of people in full-blown Aids do not have access to anti-retroviral
drugs, according to UNAids and the World Health Organization.
The majority of the people infected by HIV get their supplies of drugs from
government hospitals or clinics.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
issue date :2005-Nov-29
THE Zimbabwe dollar weakened against the major US$ by about 5.9 percent last
week to close on Friday at $68 802. 86 compared to $64 961.86 the previous
Friday allowing the exchange rate to creep closer to the higher parallel
In the prior week, the dollar slid by some 6,8 percentage points against the
US$ and that means the local currency has depreciated by more than 12
percent in the last fortnight.
As a result of the movement of the exchange rate on the inter-bank system in
the last fortnight the Zimdollar moved closer to the parallel market rates
where the dollar is trading at between $75 000 and $80 000.
The inter-bank mid rate represents the average rate of exchange that the
country's banks arrive at in their foreign currency trading amongst
The significant movement in the exchange rate is in line with October
monthly inflation trends that shot up by some 10.9 percent compared to the
However, foreign currency dealers in most financial houses gave cautious
views on the performance of the exchange rate in the past fortnight, saying
they did not expect it to depreciate much further and catch up with the
parallel market in the short term as this would have adverse implications on
the country's import requirements.
Zimbabwe has been facing acute foreign currency shortages for the greater
part of the year that has resulted in critical sectors of the economy in
manufacturing and agriculture failing to import inputs and spares for
maintenance and repairs.
These factors have contributed to reduced national production and while the
central bank's drive to promote the export sector to improve foreign
currency receipts into the country has been lauded, the costs of importation
would curtail production should the exchange rate catch up with the parallel
The major reason behind the depreciation of the local currency against the
US dollar and other major currencies is mainly the higher inflation figures
reported for October.
Inflation figures for October saw the month-on-month rate of inflation
increase by 10.9 percent.
Annual inflation increased by 51.2 percent to 411 percent compared to 359
Taking a cue from the central bank's stance on monthly inflation outturns in
recent months the central bank has been explicit in its efforts to align
inflation differentials to the exchange rate.
As a result, in previous months when monthly inflation has increased, the
central bank has also adjusted the exchange rate upwards to maintain
purchasing power parity.
This was true for the months of June, July and August when the exchange rate
was adjusted in line with negative monthly inflation figures from around $17
500, $24 000 and $26 000 respectively to the US dollar on the official
foreign currency market.
According to central bank governor Gideon Gono, the adjustments were at the
behest of business and the private sector in order to keep pace with
negative inflation out turns in those and other months.
In addition Gono has, on a number of occasions, increasingly made it public
that the central bank would make sure that the exchange rate would keep pace
The significant depreciation of the dollar and its movement closer to the
parallel rate is expected to attract more people and organisations to bring
their foreign currency to the formal market and deal a gradual blow to the
28 November 2005
The chairman of the MDC in the UK, Washington Ali said the majority of
party activists in the diaspora fully support the decision taken by Morgan
Tsvangirai to boycott the senate elections.
This was part of Ali's message to activists who braved sub-zero
temperatures in central London for an all night vigil last week Friday. He
also stressed the need for unity in the struggle for change.
Activists in the UK believe the elections were pre-determined because
of the unlevel electoral playing field. They said the party should be
concentrating on bread and butter issues particularly the humanitarian
crisis caused by Operation Murambatsvina.
Other speakers at the vigil urged activists not to be distracted by
personalities. Ephraim Tapa, chairman of the MDC London branch said the MDC
would solve its internal differences and tackle Robert Mugabe and his Zanu
He said the Senate project was illegitimate and rejected the argument
that by not participating the MDC was ceding democratic space, adding that
energies should be going into finding other ways to achieve change.
It was evident that the grass roots in Zimbabwe were against
participating in the Senate elections. Activists from Dunfermline, Rochdale,
Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester plus many from
London and South East England attended the all night vigil.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
28 November 2005
By Tererai Karimakwenda
On the day that low voter turn-out characterised Zimbabwe's
controversial senate elections, proving that people did not want a 2nd
chamber of government, the pro-senate faction of the now split opposition
did not seem bothered, as they moved swiftly to try and take disciplinary
action against the party president Morgan Tsvangirai. A letter sent to
Tsvangirai by vice president Gibson Sibanda said a disciplinary committee
had suspended the opposition leader Tsvangirai for violating the party's
constitution, campaigning against the polls and misrepresenting the party's
position on the polls, among others.
Pro-senate spokesman Moses Mzila Ndhlovu told us Monday that there is
only one MDC and it is functioning from Harvest House. Asked if they had
access to the Harare headquarters, Ndhlovu said some youth hired by
Tsvangirai had assaulted their staff and hounded them out of the building.
As for the committee that suspended Tsvangirai, Ndhlovu said it was properly
composed according to the constitution and is chaired by MDC vice president
Gibson Sibanda himself. Asked whether it was proper for Tsvangirai's
accusers to sit on the committee as well, Ndhlovu said he saw nothing wrong
with a legal institution of the MDC performing its functions.
As for the coming congress, Mzila-Ndhlovu said the people will choose
new leaders and those who violated the constitution or are guilty of any
infringements will not be welcome. He said fugitives are not welcome and
Tsvnagirai was definitely a fugitive.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Centre for Security Studies, Switzerland
The international community has criticized Zimbabwe of failing to heed its
recommendations as Washington slaps new sanctions on the Mugabe government
in the wake of "Operation Drive out the Rubbish", in which police razed
thousands of homes and small businesses, leaving hundreds of thousands
without shelter or livelihood.
By Theodore Liasi for ISN Security Watch (28/11/05)
Zimbabwe is being accused of reneging on international agreements and
failing to respect the recommendations of international treaty bodies.
The UN is holding the government of Zimbabwe responsible for the
humanitarian disaster that has followed Operation Murambatsvina - or
Operation "Drive out the rubbish" - claiming that the operation was carried
out in an "indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human
suffering and, in repeated cases, with disregard to several provisions of
national and international legal frameworks".
Operation Murambatsvina is estimated to have affected some 700,000 people
earlier this year when police and soldiers razed thousands of homes and
small businesses, leaving people in cities across the country without
shelter or livelihood, or both.
Zimbabwean nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have appealed to the African
Union's (AU) human rights body to help the hundreds of thousands of people
left homeless by the government's recent campaign.
As the leaders of the Commonwealth nations meet in Malta this week for their
twice-yearly gathering, the Human Rights Forum has urged leaders to stay
engaged with the government of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2002 after elections that
observers said were marred by violence and intimidation.
In December 2003, the suspension was extended indefinitely. The Zimbabwean
government responded by announcing the country was leaving the Commonwealth
However, the Zimbabwean Human Rights Forum (HRF) has asked that the
Commonwealth "continue dialog with the Zimbabwean government - as occurred
during the suspension/withdrawal periods in Nigeria and South Africa - and
not to abandon the people of Zimbabwe".
In a special report by the HRF detailing the forced evictions of supporters
of the Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC), the Forum said it had
received disturbing reports from all around the country.
HRF said that although many of those reports had come from partisan sources,
the allegations of violence and denial of food aid were "remarkably
consistent" with the reports of threats made prior to the recent
parliamentary elections in March.
A spokeswoman for the HRF, a coalition of 17 Zimababwean NGOs, said the
group was asking the AU's African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
(ACHPR), which is in session in Gambia, to champion the cause of those
affected by Operation Murambatsvina, claiming it was a "humanitarian
HRF told ISN Security Watch that many of the thousands of displaced people
were still being persecuted by the local authorities. "What we know for sure
is that the people evicted are still being harassed by police and there are
repeated attempts to disperse them.
"It will take several years before the people affected and the society as a
whole can recover. We therefore need to keep human rights violations in
Zimbabwe on the agenda."
Bahame Tom Nyanduga, an ACHPR representative and special rapporteur
responsible for refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons
in Africa, attempted to gauge the impact of the operation in July, but had
to leave the country without completing his mission after his visit was
described by Zimbabwe's official media as "unprocedural" because diplomatic
protocol had reportedly not been followed.
Early this month, several hundred trade unionists and members of the
National Constitutional Assembly, a pro-democracy civic alliance, were
arrested for holding an anti-poverty demonstration.
"As the Zimbabwean crisis extends into another year, the absence of national
dialog remains a deeply disturbing feature of the political landscape [.] It
appears highly unlikely that internal opposition forces will, in the near
future, be able to build sufficient pressure to force [the ruling Zimbabwe
African National Union and the Patriotic Front parties] ZANU-PF into a
political compromise," the HRF report observed.
Human rights group Amnesty International has also called for Zimbabwe's
government to implement the recommendations contained in the reports of the
ACHPR and the UN Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues, as a "matter of
Amnesty condemned the refusal of the government to cooperate with the
special envoy of the African Union Commission and for the immediate lifting
of all unnecessary restrictions on the provision of humanitarian assistance,
including restrictions on the provision of temporary shelter.
On Wednesday, US President George Bush added further to the pressure on
Mugabe's regime, announcing that he was targeting the wallets of the leading
government officials in Zimbabwe. Bush said those who worked with Mugabe
must restore democracy or face further US sanctions.
The White House announced it had signed an executive order to block all
property and financial holdings in the US of 128 people and 33 institutions
in Zimbabwe. It also bars US citizens from having financial dealings with
those entities and individuals.
"This action is not aimed at the people of Zimbabwe, but rather at those
most responsible for their plight," White House spokesperson Dana Perino
said in a statement.
The Human Rights Forum welcomed Bush's intervention, telling ISN Security
Watch: "We don't take a political stand on such issues, but there are
certainly a lot of strong feelings. We can only hope."
Bush had also issued sanctions against President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and
76 other Zimbabwean government officials in an executive order in March
The new order adds 51 people and applies to their immediate family members.
It also allows the secretaries of the treasury and state departments to
expand the list in the future without a presidential order.
Bush said since he signed the first order, conditions in Zimbabwe had
continued to deteriorate. "The government continues to suppress opposition
groups and civil society, undermine the independent media, ignore decisions
by its courts, and refuse to enter into meaningful negotiations with other
However, one of Mugabe's key ministers said the executive order would affect
ordinary people more than government figures.
The US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, accused Mugabe's government
of employing "Nazi" tactics to deflect criticism of his country's worsening
Dell was quoted in a local weekly publication on Thursday as saying: "It is
interesting that the government is using tactics used in Nazi Germany, where
you accuse another of doing exactly what you are doing as a distraction."
His comments come after Mugabe had likened Bush and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, respectively.
Mugabe has been isolated by the West over his land-reform policy under which
white-owned farms were seized and given to landless blacks. His relations
with the West have also soured over charges of human rights abuses and
Theodore Liasi is ISN Security Watch's Special Correspondent for
Humanitarian Issues. Theodore Liasi is a photojournalist and writer with
over 14 years of experience covering war-torn countries around the world. He
is the winner of the Amnesty International Photojournalist of the Year
award. His work has been published in Newsweek, the Financial Times, the
Daily Telegraph, and the Sunday Times.