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Strong Language On Zimbabwe At U.N. - But Little From African Leaders


By Blessing Zulu
16 April 2008

The United Nations Security Council in a summit session with African Union
leaders took up the crisis in Zimbabwe on Wednesday in New York, producing
some of the strongest statements to date on the nation's post-election
crisis from the international community, though the African leadership
mainly avoided the issue.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon placed the matter before the summit over
the objections of South Africa, which maintained that the Zimbabwean
question should be dealt with by the Southern African Development Community
regional grouping.

"I am deeply concerned at the uncertainty created by the prolonged
non-release of the election results in Zimbabwe," Ban told the high-level
gathering. "Absent a transparent solution to this impasse, the situation
could deteriorate further with serious implications for the people of
Zimbabwe," he warned. The U.N. chief added ominously that "the credibility
of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was more blunt. "No one thinks, having
seen the results of polling stations, that President (Robert) Mugabe has
won" the March 29 elections in Zimbabwe, Brown told the UN-AU summit.

"A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all," Brown said.
"Let a single clear message go out from here in New York that we ... stand
solidly behind democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe."

The remarks by Ban and Brown were in stark contrast with the assessment
offered by South African President Thabo Mbeki on Saturday, when he declared
during a visit to Harare on his way to an extraordinary SADC summit that
"there is no crisis."

As of Wednesday 18 days had elapsed since the ballots, but the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission had not announced the results of the presidential
election. Results of the house election showed the combined opposition
claiming a majority, in itself a major setback for Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF,
which has ruled continuously since 1980.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said he was "gravely concerned about the
escalating politically motivated violence perpetrated by security forces and
ruling party militias" in rural areas where ZANU-PF held sway until the
recent elections.

African leaders in New York avoided the subject. Mbeki, chairing the
session, focused on general AU-Security Council cooperation in peacekeeping,
Reuters reported.

The sole exception was Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who currently
holds the African Union chair. He praised SADC for doing a "tremendous job
... to ensure that the will of the people of Zimbabwe is respected," Reuters

Rejecting the strong statements in the Security Council, Zimbabwean
Ambassador to the U.N. Boniface Chidyausiku told reporter Blessing Zulu of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe and
maintained that such depictions of the post-election situation reflect a
Western desire to discredit Harare.

Political analyst Joy Mabhenge, director of the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt
and Development said the debate at the U.N. was an important development.

Minutes ahead of Mr. Mbeki's opening of the session, a helicopter hovered
over the U.N. headquarters with a banner urging Mbeki to take stronger

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Brown brands Mugabe thief and says world must act over 'stolen' poll

The Scotsman


ROBERT Mugabe, the Zimbabwe dictator, must not be allowed to steal his
country's presidential election and hang on to power illegally, Gordon Brown
warned the world last night.
The Prime Minister, in his most outspoken comments on the chaos enveloping
the African country, in effect accused Mr Mugabe of being prepared to break
the law to stay in office.

The warning came as police and militants loyal to Mr Mugabe cracked down on
opponents yesterday , with police arresting 36 people and doctors reporting
scores of cases of presumed assault and torture.

Addressing the United Nations security council in New York, Mr Brown said
no-one believed Mr Mugabe had triumphed in the election, which remains
undeclared after almost three weeks.

He said: "No-one thinks, having seen the result at the polling stations,
that President Mugabe has won this election. A stolen election would not be
an election at all. The credibility of the democratic process depends on
there being a legitimate government."

Mr Brown made the plight of Zimbabwe the key part of a short address to a
security council debate on the African Union.

Earlier this week, Mr Mugabe, who has held power since 1980, dismissed Mr
Brown as a "tiny dot in this world".

Police last night accused those arrested yesterday of trying to enforce
violently a nationwide strike called by Zimbabwe's opposition to demand the
results of presidential elections that Mr Mugabe is widely believed to have

But Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights said it treated 174 cases of injuries
consistent with assault and torture since the vote, including 17 yesterday.
Most victims this week suffered multiple fractures.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change believes its leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, won the 29 March election. This is disputed by Mr
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

In his speech, Mr Brown urged the international community to send a "single,
clear message" that it wanted democracy in the southern African nation and
was ready to help its people to build a better future.

He talked of the international community's "shame" for failing to intervene
to halt the bloodshed in Rwanda in the early 1990s and said there was still
a "gaping hole" in its ability to address illegal uprisings in Africa.

Britain is to train 12,000 African peacekeepers to boost the 28,000 troops
available now.

Earlier, at the start of his three-day visit to the US, Mr Brown had
upgraded the "special relationship" between Britain and America to a "very
special relationship" and predicted it would get stronger whoever succeeded
George Bush.

Mr Brown will today meet Republican presidential nominee John McCain, and
Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

He told Good Morning America: "The relationship between Britain and America
is strong but it will be stronger. It is a very special relationship."

Chancellor admits Labour must find way to sharpen up its act

ALISTAIR Darling has admitted that the government needs to "sharpen up" its
act if it is to regain its popularity.

The Chancellor has become the most senior minister so far to admit that a
change in tactics is needed to counter backbench unrest and a Conservative
revival in the polls.

His remarks were seized upon by the Tories as an "unprecedented attack on
the Prime Minister" – though Mr Darling made no mention of Gordon Brown in
the interview, which he gave yesterday at the end of a three-day trip to

Mr Darling said the government would survive the current period of
unpopularity "because the economy is fundamentally strong".

He added: "But we have also got to make sure that in other areas we sharpen
ourselves up, that we have a clear message of what we are about."

Speaking to the financial news agency Bloomberg in Chongqing, Mr Darling
implied that Labour had to return to its roots and remember why it had
fought for power in the first place.

He said: "This is a time where we should remember why we stand for
government, the purpose of being in government, to build a fairer society
and to create opportunity for people. We should never forget that.

"We have an awful lot more to do, and we will get through this patch."

Earlier this week Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, conceded that the
government faced "difficult times".

Rhodri Morgan, the First Minister of Wales, and the former home secretary
David Blunkett joined the chorus of disapproval over the removal of the 10p
income tax band and concern mounted at proposals to extend the amount of
time terror suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 42 days.

George Osborne, the Tory shadow chancellor, said: "What started as anonymous
briefings from backbenchers has now burst into the open with a public attack
on Gordon Brown from the second most important person in the government. If
the government is fighting itself, how can it fight for Britain?"

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman, said: "Many people
will be staggered to hear that only now, six months into a financial crisis,
the Chancellor is starting to admit there is a problem."

The full article contains 862 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 17 April 2008 12:49 AM

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Mbeki isolated at UN as leaders demand action on Zimbabwe

Independent, UK

by David Usborne and Colin Brown in New York
Thursday, 17 April 2008

Gordon Brown used the world's top diplomatic table to accuse Robert Mugabe
of trying to steal the election in Zimbabwe, increasing pressure on the
regime and embarrassing the President's chief political protector, South
Africa's Thabo Mbeki.

World leaders, gathered at the United Nations in New York yesterday, served
notice to President Mbeki that they have lost patience with his repeated
assertions that there remains "no crisis" in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Results
of elections held there almost three weeks ago are still being withheld.

Britain and other Western countries used a special session of the Security
Council, called by the South African leader who holds the chairmanship of
the council, to call for the release of results that could spell an end to
the 28-year rule of Mr Mugabe. They stopped just short of berating Mr Mbeki
personally for his refusal to intervene directly.

Mr Mbeki's attempts to keep the subject of Zimbabwe off the agenda were
roundly thwarted. First Mr Brown and then the UN secretary general, Ban
Ki-Moon, signalled that the international community can no longer ignore the

Mr Brown, at the start of a three-day visit to America, suggested that Mr
Mugabe was trying to "steal" the 29 March election. "No one thinks, having
seen the results of polling stations, that President Mugabe has won," he
told the session, which was attended by presidents from several African
states, including Somalia, Ivory Coast and Tanzania.

"A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all," he went on.
"Let a single clear message go out from here in New York that we... stand
solidly behind democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe."

Mr Ban said the credibility of democracy in Africa was at stake. The
secretary general also ignored Mr Mbeki's attempts to keep Zimbabwe off the
agenda. "The situation could deteriorate further with serious implications
for the people of Zimbabwe," he said, adding: "The Zimbabwean authorities
and the countries of the region have insisted that these methods are for the
region to resolve. But the international community continues to watch and
wait for decisive action. The credibility of the democratic process in
Africa could be at stake here."

While little more than diplomatic theatre – there was no attempt by Britain
or its allies to draft a resolution to condemn the Mugabe regime for fear it
would almost certainly fail – the session served to underline the increasing
isolation of Mr Mbeki.

In recent days he has come under pressure even from his own party to
acknowledge that Zimbabwe is in deep crisis.

After the session, Mr Brown again spoke. "We don't have the presidential
results published yet," he said. "What you have seen [at the UN] is the
determination of the international community saying the results have got to
be published. They've got to be transparent. Everything has got to be above

Mr Mbeki came to New York fresh from being chastised by Jacob Zuma, who won
the leadership of the ruling African National Congress party last December.
Signalling discord with Mr Mbeki over Zimbabwe, Mr Zuma said the region
"cannot afford a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more
worrying now given the reported violence that has erupted." He added. "The
delay in the verification process and release of results increases anxiety
each day."

If speakers at the UN, including Mr Brown, held back directly from
criticising Mr Mbeki at the public session, it was for fear that he might
dig his heels in deeper and it would therefore be counterproductive. "We are
worried that if we attack Mbeki, he will become more stubborn than ever. He
did that over Aids in Africa and we don't want that to happen on Zimbabwe,"
said one British source.

Mr Brown has privately urged African leaders to put pressure on Mr Mbeki
behind the scenes. The Prime Minister held private talks with Jakaya
Kikwete, President of Tanzania and chairman of the African Union, to press
Mr Mbeki to take a tougher stance. Mr Kikwete told the UN session that the
regional organisation, the Southern African Development Community, wanted
"to ensure the will of the people of Zimbabwe is respected". He said that
this would be the spirit of meetings that would be held soon, and that the
organisation needed to be supported.

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Even his own party realises the solution must come from out of Africa

Independent, UK

William M Gumede:

Thursday, 17 April 2008

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki desperately did not want Zimbabwe to be
debated by the United Nations, he prefers "African solutions for Africa's

That is obviously an admirable and also the right sentiment. The problem is
that, in the case of Zimbabwe, it has not worked. It has failed
disastrously. That is what even his own party is now telling him.

Mr Mbeki wanted more time but African National Congress members – in no
uncertain terms – have told him time has run out after five years of quiet
diplomacy in Zimbabwe. The big irony is Mr Mbeki has never warmed to Mr
Mugabe, and Mr Mugabe loathes Mr Mbeki. In the first place, the ANC never
allied to Zanu-PF during its liberation struggle. Even at Zimbabwe's first
independence elections, the ANC supported Zapu, Zanu-PF's rival.

And now, at the very end, while knowing that Mr Mugabe is the problem, Mr
Mbeki still cannot countenance the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
getting to power.

He would rather contemplate Simba Makoni, the former Zanu-PF guerrilla and
finance minister, who was the third candidate in the presidential election,
rather than Morgan Tsvangirai, the former trade union leader, now head of
the MDC. Why? Mr Mbeki, like other African liberation leaders of his age,
believe that only those who fought in the liberation struggle can be trusted
to lead. Mr Tsvangirai was a trade unionist during the Zimbabwean liberation

They also believe that those who break away from a liberation movement, as
Mr Tsvangirai did in 1999, are akin to traitors. Mr Mbeki appears to think
that by giving Mr Mugabe a soft landing he will protect the good ideals of
the anti-colonial liberation struggle. By still wanting to accommodate Mr
Mugabe, after all the misery the tyrant has unleashed against his own
people, in the name of struggle solidarity, Mr Mbeki is in fact destroying
the grand idea of the liberation struggle.

The wider ANC understands all of that.

All Mr Mbeki needs to say publicly is that he opposes everything that Mr
Mugabe stands for. That would be the nudge needed to finally push Mr Mugabe
out. Just the fact that Mr Mbeki said the Zimbabwean crisis was "manageable"
firmed up Mr Mugabe's position when he was most vulnerable.

By not dealing decisively with Mr Mugabe, Mr Mbeki's much vaunted African
solutions for Africa's problems have been dealt a devastating blow. It is
now to those outside Africa, to solve this deep African problem.

WM Gumede is author of 'Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC'

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Mbeki’s stance on Zimbabwe under fire

Financial Times

By Alec Russell in Johannesburg,

Published: April 16 2008 23:06 | Last updated: April 16 2008 23:06

South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki’s policy of ”quiet diplomacy” towards
his counterpart in Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe is under fire at home as never
before with many in his own party openly calling for a more confrontational

Jacob Zuma, his political foe, who ousted him as head of the African
National Congress last December, gave the clearest signal yet on Wednesday
that he disagrees with Mr Mbeki’s response to the failure by the Zimbabwean
authorities to release last month’s election results.

In a speech to businesspeople Mr Zuma said: ”The region cannot afford a
deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more worrying now given the
reported violence that has erupted in the country.”
His use of the word ”crisis” was widely seen as a dig at Mr Mbeki who was
ridiculed in South African media and by Zimbabwe’s opposition at the weekend
after he emerged from a meeting with Mr Mugabe, hand-in-hand, to say there
was no crisis over the results.

Since the president championed ”quiet diplomacy” in 2000 when Mr Mugabe
authorised the controversial expropriation of several thousand commercial
farms, South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance and
many in the media have accused him of being an apologist for Harare.

He has previously shrugged off such criticism suggesting it is infused with
Eurocentric values and lacks an understanding of Zimbabwe’s complexities.
But now the new leaders of the ANC are publicly arguing it is time to change

Mr Zuma’s comments came in the wake of a blistering critique of the region’s
record on Zimbabwe, by Matthews Phosa, the ANC’s treasurer-general, one of
the party’s new leaders who swept into senior positions last December. He
said last weekend’s summit of southern African leaders, who ended up calling
for a speedy release of results but stopping short of applying any concerted
pressure on Mr Mugabe, was woefully inadequate. ”We should put more pressure
on the government of Zimbabwe” and with ”the utmost urgency” he said.

In a briefing in Pretoria, Mr Mbeki’s senior aide on Zimbabwe, Sydney
Mufamadi, defended his record, called for the Zimbabwean authorities to be
allowed more time, and said South Africa’s role as a mediator still had a
long way to run.

”The public of Zimbabwe has a right to be assisted through a process which
is likely to yield results, rather than one which is only likely to provide
us with exciting sound bites,” he said.

In an editorial, Business Day, the Financial Times’ sister paper, said
history would judge Mr Mbeki ”terribly harshly” for his handling of the
Zimbabwe crisis: ”On the strength of his handling of the Zimbabwe situation
alone, the sooner his term as president and SA’s diplomat-in-chief ends, the
better for all concerned.”

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Are African leaders under a spell, asks ACDP

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 16 April 2008 16:15
South Africa's opposition African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)
has expressed disappointment at African leaders over the Zimbabwe crisis
after they failed to come up with a solution over Zimbabwe's election saga.
Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg, ACDP President Kenneth
Meshoe said: "SADC leaders, including our President Mbeki, have failed
Africa and particularly the people of Zimbabwe, yet again. The ACDP finds it
bizarre that they can call an emergency summit on Zimbabwe's post-election
crisis - yet conclude there is no crisis!"
He added: "Why are the SADC leaders also talking about a possible
presidential run-off vote when the results have not even been announced?
This shows their support of Robert Mugabe's position regardless of the true
voting numbers and the legality of it. They know the pitiful condition of
the people and the nation's economy; they know that results would have been
declared immediately had Robert Mugabe won the election.
"The actions of the SADC leaders increase the perception that there is
either a brotherhood that has committed itself to standing by each other
regardless of the plight of the masses - or there is some kind of spell at
work here."
Worldwide petition calls for pressure on Mugabe
People around the world are signing an online petition to urge South
African President Thabo Mbeki to put pressure on Robert Mugabe.
"Zimbabwe is on a knife's edge between democracy and chaos," says
online movement for democracy "Mugabe is unlikely to listen to
the world's outcry, but he might listen to his old friend and powerful
neighbour Thabo Mbeki.
"Mbeki said last Monday that ‘it's time to wait' on Zimbabwe. But the
more time passes, the greater the danger grows that the will of Zimbabwe's
people will be ignored."
Avaaz launched the petition last week to its African members. Now, the
organisation wants people around the world to add their voices in solidarity
and take the pressure to the next level.
Avaaz says they will do all they can to deliver the petition to Mbeki
through diplomatic channels, over the radio, and in a public event when
Mbeki travels to New York for a United Nations meeting this week.
The petition is at
"In a crisis like this, a petition is just a small step, but it's
something all of us can do, to raise our voices and call for what's right.
And, as history shows, international solidarity can be a powerful thing,"
says Avaaz.

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Mbeki says not blind to reality of Zimbabwe


Wed 16 Apr 2008, 22:46 GMT

By Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, April 16 (Reuters) - South African President Thabo Mbeki on
Wednesday dismissed suggestions that he is blind to the gravity of the
situation in Zimbabwe and insisted that talking with all parties was the
only solution.

"We need to talk at all times with both the ruling party and the
opposition," Mbeki told a news conference after chairing a summit of the
U.N. Security Council and African Union. "You've got to sit and discuss with

No results have been announced from the March 29 presidential election in
Zimbabwe, a former British colony. The opposition accuses President Robert
Mugabe of trying to steal the election and say he is preparing a violent

Like all but two of some two dozen African speakers, Mbeki did not mention
Zimbabwe during the summit itself, which he chaired.

But after the meeting, reporters bombarded him with questions about
Zimbabwe, pressing a defensive Mbeki to explain repeatedly why he was
pursuing "quiet diplomacy."

"I don't know whatever is meant by quiet diplomacy," he said. "What is loud

One reporter replied that "loud diplomacy" was the speech by British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown, who told the summit: "No one thinks ... that
President Mugabe has won."

Mbeki said: "Well it's not diplomacy in that case, it can't be."

Asked whether he was taking a soft approach to Zimbabwe because he was
blinded by the 84-year-old Mugabe's reputation as a hero in the fight
against white minority rule in southern Africa, Mbeki dismissed the

"I am saying the very fact that we have a mediation process like this on the
political side is because we say there are things that have gone wrong,"
Mbeki said. "There are many wrong things with the politics of Zimbabwe."

He declined to comment on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's proposal that
international monitors be sent to Zimbabwe if a new round of presidential
elections were held.

"That's a matter that would have to be put to the government of Zimbabwe,"
Mbeki said, adding that any new round would have to free of violence.

Mbeki, who has been heavily criticized at home for his stance on Zimbabwe,
said he and the Southern Africa Development Community would insist that
Zimbabwe's opposition have the opportunity to participate in verifying the
election results.

He also denied press reports that he had refused to call Zimbabwe's problem
a "crisis."

"I never said any such thing," he said, though he declined to say whether or
not he thought the word "crisis" applied. (Writing by Louis Charbonneau;
Editing by Chris Wilson)

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Robert Mugabe's mobs invade last white farms

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 11:24pm BST 16/04/2008

More than half of Zimbabwe's remaining white farmers have seen their
land invaded by mobs loyal to President Robert Mugabe since the bitterly
disputed election, it emerged yesterday.

Of the roughly 200 white commercial farmers who still survive in
Zimbabwe, about 120 have had their land occupied, either in whole or in
part. About 28 have been evicted, while the rest are either clinging on
inside their homesteads or coming and going as the situation allows.

After spending days helping victims of the occupations, Trevor
Gifford, the president of the Commercial Farmers' Union, has been singled
out himself. Supporters of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party have invaded his sheep
and cattle farm near Chipinge, 220 miles south-east of the capital, Harare.

"My four top workers at the farm have been brutally beaten," he said.
"I can't get on to the farm myself but they sent me messages. It is wild out
there. They have been taking my animals and killing them and I have asked
the police to attend."

Stock theft carries a possible 20-year prison sentence, but the police
response had been mixed, he said, and Zimbabwe's abysmal phone networks were
slowing the flow of information to the CFU.

Mr Gifford said: "I know that farm workers of some of the farmers who
have been chased off are refusing to go back to work. The mobs have told
them not to work for white men, which is quite serious for those harvesting

The first area to be targeted was Centenary, and Mr Gifford said local
farmers were "scared out of their wits".

A farmer in Masvingo province, who declined to be identified for fear
of reprisals, said his plight had worsened dramatically since the early
invasions - which he described as "the good old days".

"We have had a neighbour abducted," he said. "Yesterday I had 20
Zanu-PF youths chasing my staff and trying to kill them. They are digging
the farm and harassing the staff - unfortunately those poor chaps are in the
front line of this."

He had been left with nowhere to graze his animals, which were being
stolen. "They are throwing the livestock off my farm," he said.

He compared his experience with the farm invasions that followed Mr
Mugabe's defeat in a referendum on a new constitution in Feb 2000. Those
events also marked the start of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa's
diplomatic campaign to restore calm in Zimbabwe. The farmer described that
as a "bloody waste of time".

Mr Mbeki faced further criticism yesterday from the man who defeated
him for the leadership of the ruling African National Congress. Jacob Zuma,
who became ANC president in December, explicitly contradicted Mr Mbeki's
statement at the weekend that there was "no crisis" in Zimbabwe.

Addressing a business audience near Johannesburg, Mr Zuma said: "The
region cannot afford a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more
worrying now given the reported violence that has erupted in the country.
Ladies and gentlemen, we once again register our apprehension about the
situation in Zimbabwe."

Around 50 supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
including a newly elected MP, were arrested yesterday.

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Election stalemate douses independence euphoria

Zim Online

by Edith Kaseke Thursday 17 April 2008

HARARE – Zimbabweans will tomorrow commemorate Independence Day uncertain of
their political future and gripped by fear that a three-week election
stalemate could spiral into open violence, as President Robert Mugabe looks
determined to hang on to power despite losing last month’s vote.

The 84-year-old Mugabe was handed his first election defeat in the March 29
polls when his ruling ZANU PF party lost its parliamentary majority to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC) for the first time since
independence in 1980.

But electoral officials are yet to issue much the awaited results of a
parallel presidential vote, which ZANU PF acknowledges Mugabe lost to MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, although they say a second round of voting is
required to settle the contest.

The MDC says it won outright and wants Mugabe to hand over power

“People are afraid, they are uncertain and you will see that there will not
be much in terms of celebrations we have seen in the past,” said John
Makumbe, a senior political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

“People are not talking about independence but about the results. But even
from the government side, there is nothing much pointing towards
independence celebrations. It is time for reflection and the mood in that
camp shows you all is not well,” said Makumbe.

Mugabe will make his first public appearance on Friday when he leads the
nation in the celebrations and is widely expected to set the tone for his
campaign during the expected run-off period, which Tsvangirai says will only
participate in if international observers are present.

But events on the ground already point to a campaign of violence and
intimidation in rural areas, where thousands of supporters rallied behind

The involvement in the campaign of the military and, especially the hawkish
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga and Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, has raised fears of bloodshed ahead
of the run-off.

“I am really scared with all those stories we are hearing from the rural
areas, especially in Mashonaland East,” Tariro Kamocha, a Harare-based
trainee accountant said, echoing fears among many Zimbabweans.

Mashonaland East province, a ZANU PF stronghold where the MDC made
significant inroads, is bearing the brunt of the ruling party’s violent
retribution campaign that has blighted the festive mood that normally
accompanies independence celebrations.

That and an economy with the world’s highest inflation rate above 164 000
percent, unemployment above 80 percent and shortages of foreign currency,
food and water have combined to douse the independence euphoria seen in past

As political temperatures hot up inside Zimbabwe, the world is grappling
with how to avoid bloodletting such as seen in Kenya in the aftermath of
that country’s disputed December elections, which left more than a 1 000
people dead.

The United Nations Security Council was on Wednesday expected to discuss the
Zimbabwe situation although South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was to
chair the meeting, and other African countries, were expected to block a

But this has not unfazed Mbeki’s ruling ANC party, whose leader Jacob Zuma
yesterday said events in Zimbabwe were causing apprehension and could
destabilise the southern African region if not properly handled.

That fear is deeply ingrained among Zimbabweans themselves as they reflect
on 28 years of independence, which has lately given birth to worsening
poverty, political polarisation and a brutal crackdown on Mugabe’s opponents
by security forces, war veterans, youth militias and hired thugs.

“The feeling among Zimbabweans at this particular moment is that there is
very little to celebrate on Independence Day,” Eldred Masunungure, a leading
political analyst said.

“I think what is occupying the minds of many people is when this election
deadlock will be resolved and if there is a re-run whether it will be free
of violence. But there is no doubt that the overwhelming majority would want
to celebrate a form of a fresh start,” he said.

But Mugabe, who faces his biggest ever political crisis and has not made a
single public comment since election day, is trying to reverse that new
beginning, which appeared to have arrived with an MDC opposition victory.

“We fought for one man one vote and that whoever wins should govern. The MDC
won and it should be allowed to govern. This is what I understand to be the
meaning of independence,” an MDC supporter who refused to be named told
ZimOnline. – ZimOnline.

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No let up in Zim crackdown on reporters

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro and Nqobizitha Khumalo Thursday 17 April 2008

BULAWAYO – A Zimbabwe court on Wednesday sentenced a British journalist to
six months in jail with an option for a fine, as police held for the second
day a local journalist they suspect of freelancing for foreign media.

But two more journalists, an American and a British, were cleared of charges
of covering Zimbabwe's March 29 elections without official accreditation.

Zimbabwean authorities barred most foreign media from covering the elections
and in recent weeks have arrested several foreign journalists they accused
of sneaking into the country to report on the polls illegally.

Briton Jonathan Michael Clayton, held in jail since his arrest last week,
was found guilty by a magistrate’s court of contravening Zimbabwe’s
immigration laws when falsely declared on arrival at an airport in Bulawayo
city that he was a tourist.

He was sentenced to six months jail or a fine of ZW$20 billion, equivalent
to nearly US$670 000 at the official exchange rate of one American dollar to
ZW$30 000. The figure comes down to a paltry US$250 at the widely used
parallel market rate of one greenback to ZW$80 000 000.

In a sign that authorities were not about to ease the crackdown against
reporters, police kept freelance journalist Frank Chikowore but were
expected to bring him to court on Thursday.

Chikowore was arrested on Tuesday morning at his home in Harare’s Warren
Park suburb.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) condemned Chikowore’s arrest as
baseless and intended to intimidate journalists from exposing any flaws they
may detect in an anticipated second round run-off election between President
Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Union president Mathew Takaona said in a statement: “The arrest is baseless
and illegal and we believe it is intended to harass and intimidate
journalists out to cover the presidential election re-run."

Takaona said ZUJ believed the run-off election will most likely turn out
into an unfair, violent and flawed election if the media, particularly
foreign and local independent journalists, were prevented from covering the

Earlier on Wednesday a Harare magistrate acquitted New York Times
correspondent Barry Bearak and British freelance reporter Stephen Bevan on
charges of reporting Zimbabwe’s election without official accreditation.

"They have been acquitted. The state failed to prove that they had committed
a crime," said Beatrice Mtetwa, a lawyer for the journalists.

Both local and foreign journalists must be accredited with the government’s
Media and Information Commission in order to practice their profession in
Zimbabwe, with those failing to do so facing arrest and imprisonment.

Zimbabwe is widely regarded as one of the most difficult countries in the
world for journalists to work in.

In addition to laws requiring journalists to seek accreditation in order to
work in the country, newspapers are also required to register with the state
media commission, with those failing to do so facing closure and seizure of
their property by the police.

Another law, the Public Order and Security Act, imposes up to two years in
jail on journalists convicted of publishing falsehoods that may cause public
alarm and despondency, while the Criminal Codification Act imposes up to
20-year jail terms on journalists convicted of denigrating President Robert
Mugabe in their articles.

Repression against the independent media usually peaks during elections.

Meanwhile, police have released on bail a 60-year old Bulawayo-based blogger
who was arrested last week on Monday on allegations of practising journalism
without accreditation.

The woman, Margaret Kriel, spent eight days in prison before her release on
bail on Tuesday this week.

Kriel runs an online social forum, Morning Mirror, where Bulawayo residents
post death and birth notices and any other issues pertaining to the city. –

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MDC election petition further delayed

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro Thursday 17 April 2008

HARARE – A Zimbabwean judge on Wednesday further delayed to Thursday hearing
an opposition application to block a recount of votes in 23 constituencies.

Justice Antonia Guvava was initially scheduled to hear the matter earlier
this week on Tuesday but postponed it saying she first wanted to study an
earlier ruling by another judge which allowed election authorities to carry
out recounts.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lawyer Selby Hwacha told
ZimOnline that the judge would now hear the matter on Thursday.

"The hearing will resume tomorrow (Thursday) at 1600hrs," said Hwacha.

The MDC wants the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) stopped from
recounting votes until it has released the result for the presidential
election held more than two weeks ago.

No official results have been released for Zimbabwe’s March 29 presidential
election that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims he won with more than 50
percent of the vote, enough to avoid a second round run-off against
President Robert Mugabe.

However, ruling ZANU PF party and independent election observers say
Tsvangirai won with less than 50 percent of the vote, warranting a rerun of
the ballot.

The MDC, which on Monday lost a court bid to force electoral authorities to
release results of the presidential poll, has accused the ZEC of withholding
results in a bid to fix the vote and force a re-run of the poll that it says
Mugabe is preparing to use violence and terror to win.

The MDC, whose attempt to call a general strike to force release of poll
results flopped on Tuesday, says that ZANU PF militants have intensified
violence against its supporters. – ZimOnline.

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Zim 'arms ship' docks in Durban

Zim Online

by Own Correspondent  Thursday 17 April 2008

Durban – An uncleared Chinese cargo ship, believed to be carrying arms
destined for crisis-torn Zimbabwe, has docked in Durban, South Africa’s
National Ports authority said on Wednesday.

National Ports spokesman Ricky Bhikraj confirmed that the vessel called “An
Yue Jiang” entered the port on April 14 without clearance.

The vessel is believed to be carrying arms rumoured to be destined for

"We can confirm that there is an uncleared vessel (not cleared to enter
port) by that name currently at the outer anchorage. The allegations are
being handled by the various national security authorities," he said.

Bhikraj, however, said the vessel had to follow procedures and if it was not
cleared, it would not be allowed to enter a South African port.

"There is a normal process for all ISPS (International Ship and Ports
Security) vessels to be cleared to enter the port.”

He said this vessel would now have to go through that process and that it
could take quite some time before it is cleared.

The National Ports Authority however refused to comment on whether there had
been arms on the ship.

Zimbabwe, also grappling with an acute economic recession and food
shortages, plunged deeper into political crisis after the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) withheld results of the March 29 presidential ballot that
President Robert Mugabe is believed to have lost to Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

Since last month’s election politically motivated violence has resurfaced in
parts of Zimbabwe. War veterans and ZANU PF militia have also stepped up
farm invasions, with at least 60 white farmers said to have been evicted
from the properties over the past few weeks.

Analysts see new farm invasions and resurgent political violence as part of
a well-orchestrated plan by Mugabe to regain the upper hand in rural and
farming areas, where ZANU PF surprisingly lost several seats to the MDC.

There are fears that an anticipated re-run of the presidential election
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai could spark serious violence between militant
supporters of the Zimbabwean leader on one side and opposition supporters on
the other.

Authoritative military sources say the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence
Forces (ZDF) Constantine Chiwenga has taken personal charge of President
Robert Mugabe’s re-election bid.

They said provincial joint committees manned by senior military, police and
intelligence officers loyal to Mugabe will spearhead the campaign that they
said will see unprecedented violence unleashed on Tsvangirai’s supporters. –

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Witness: Spreading fear in Zimbabwe

20:57 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 21:57 UK

Charles, a Zimbabwean human rights expert, has told the BBC how he saw for himself the victims of beatings and torture that have been reported since the elections.

He said he accompanied a friend to a hospital in Harare, where people were being treated, and what he saw and heard makes him fear for the future of the country.

These people had been transported to Harare to get treatment, some of them from communities about 200km from Harare.

They had been beaten up, burned, some had ribs broken. Some of them had big wounds like they had been exposed to physical torture or been exposed to heat of some kind.

I've been involved in this sort of work a long time and at one point suffered the same kind of physical abuse in 2001. Back then, I was brought to the same hospital for treatment so it was shocking for me.

I think playing around with people's consciences will plunge the country into unprecedented chaos

Over the last five or six years I haven't seen anything like that.

I thought - I've been here before. We are back to that very difficult period where violence has become the order of the day.

If you look at 1999 and 2000, it was mainly in the rural areas, and that seems to be true this time as well. It is a "re-education" process for the rural electorate. A lot of people might not have access to media to know what is happening. It is a terrible situation out there.

Orchestrated campaign

I had the chance to meet a woman who had run away from a rural area where she had been identified as an MDC activist. She was telling stories about groups beating up people. There is a lot of fear. People are worried about when they are going to get a knock on the door and what is going to happen to them.

The people in the hospital had different stories.

One man said the Zanu-PF youth and militias had gone to a MDC agent and got a list of all the MDC supporters in the village, then they went on a campaign of visiting houses and assaulting people.

Others were told there was a meeting in the village they had to attend. Then people were being called in individually and beaten up.

One young girl I saw at the hospital said they came to her door and asked for mother. She said her mother was not there, because she was hiding, but they broke into the house and found her mother and punished the girl for lying.

I think it is a well-orchestrated move that involves the intelligence services and state institutions.

Infrastructure crumbling

The nation deserves to know what the results of the presidential elections are. It is going to be a difficult job trying to rebuild Zimbabwe, but I think people would rather start now.

Zimbabwe needs to re-establish relations with the rest of the world, let us get on with the job.

There is a reasonable chance that the people who have had the ballot boxes have rigged them.

I think playing around with people's consciences will plunge the country into unprecedented chaos - especially in the context of the economic problems that people are facing - they don't have food, the education sector is crumbling, the health sector is crumbling, transport is crumbling.

It is very dangerous and likely to plunge the country into chaos.

Zimbabwe doctors condemn violence, torture

ABC Australia

By foreign affairs editor Peter Cave

Posted 2 hours 34 minutes ago

 A coalition of doctors in Zimbabwe says its members have treated more than
150 people who have been beaten and tortured since last month's unresolved
presidential election.
The doctors said 157 people had been treated for injuries clearly stemming
from organised violence and torture.

Half of more than 30 patients still in hospital with severe injuries were
from the opposition stronghold of Mudzi, north-east of the capital Harare.

The doctors condemned the use of intimidation, violence and torture as a
form of retribution or victimisation.

And they urged Zimbabwe's African neighbours and the United Nations to
intervene to bring the post election crisis to an end.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union says that pro-Mugabe gangs
have attacked 134 white owned farms and around 30 farmers have been driven
off their land since the elections.

Hundreds flee Zanu (PF) rampage

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 16 April 2008 16:21

A Zimbabwean human rights group said this week hundreds had fled their
homes in the countryside in fear of revenge attacks in the wake of the
electoral defeat of Robert Mugabe in the March 29 poll.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe group - comprising labour, human rights and
other civic organisations - said it had appealed to the international
community for humanitarian assistance to deal with the problem of displaced
Most of the people who had fled their homes were supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader Morgan
Tsvangirai is Zimbabwe's president in waiting.
Mugabe, who is now in effect the civilian leader of the military junta
ruling Zimbabwe, has imposed a black out on election results, which has been
widely condemned.
''We have a huge problem...displaced farm workers and political
displacements. Now that Zanu (PF) is insisting on a run-off they do not feel
safe returning to their communities where some of them were polling
agents,'' the Crisis spokesman said.
''About 500 people are known to ahave been displaced and we continue
to receive reports from all over the country.''
At Mt Panis Farm in Centenary, 220km north of Harare, Zanu (PF)
militia invaded the farm and burnt the home of Muchanguri accusing him and
his colleague of supporting the MDC.
Farm workers have fled the violence and have nowhere to go.
The group said most of the internal refugees people were from the
northern Mashonaland region, where there has been a high incidence of
political violence.
Both the MDC and the Commercial Farmers Union reported a rise in
violence against the opposition after the election, which they said was
retribution for not supporting the Zanu (PF).
The spokesman said his organisation was now looking to the
international community for urgent assistance to help deal with the crisis
and to feed the people.
Mugabe's military junta accuses some aid agencies of furthering the
political cause of the opposition under the guise of humanitarian work.
However, the spokesman said many displaced people were reluctant to
seek shelter at the trust, which has been accused by the government of
having a political agenda.
''With the food crisis it is impractical to ask them to go and stay
with relatives in town,'' he added.

SA to oversee new talks between Zanu and MDC

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 16 April 2008 16:22
South African envoys are expected to start separate talks with Zanu
(PF) and the MDC to map out the agenda for talks to resolve the Zimbabwe
The consultations follow last Saturday's SADC extra-ordinary summit's
key resolution that South African President Thabo Mbeki should lead
transitional mediation between the two parties.
Reports suggest that, behind closed doors, Mugabe was roundly
condemned by SADC leaders for fanning tension by withholding results which
show that he has lost the Zimbabwe's president-in-waiting, Morgan
Tsvangirai, says he will discuss nothing but a fresh call for Mugabe to step
''Consultations are expected to start this week, separately between
Zanu (PF) and the MDC in Harare with facilitators from South Africa,'' a
SADC country diplomat told The Zimbabwean.
He said the consultations were meant to decide on the venue, date and
agenda for a formal meeting between the two parties.
Formal talks were expected to start "probably Thursday" with the
leader of the ruling party's team, former Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, who was rejected by the electorate, according to ZEC's official
results of the house of assembly poll.
Chief mediator in Mbeki's team, Sydney Mufamadi, who met Tsvangirai in
Pretoria last week, declined to give details of the mediation.
''We have been sworn to silence. We are not speaking to the media
until both parties have come up with some sort of agreement,'' he tsaid.
South Africa's embassy in Harare also declined to comment.
MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti, who is leading the opposition team,
said his party would fulfill an undertaking made to the SADC extra-ordinary
summit to pursue dialogue aimed at instructing Mugabe to leave office.
''We are giving them a chance to have that dialogue. Our view is that
you will not be able to have successful talks until you have the climate for
successful talks. So we want the results announced by ZEC first,'' Biti
South Africa has led earlier pre-election dialogue efforts between the
former British colony's bitterly divided parties and is reportedly pushing
for a government of national unity.
Zimbabwe was instructed by SADC, according to communiqué issued after
the gathering at Mulungushi International Conference centre in Lusaka
Saturday, to immediately announce the results and that all parties accept
the outcome of the poll.
Mugabe is in contempt of that order by continuing to withhold the
The MDC accuses ZEC of electoral fraud by shutting down the Command
Centre and moving ballots to some secret place and stuffing them.
Zimbabwe's government dismisses the charges, saying they are being
pushed by Western powers keen to see Mugabe ousted over his seizure of
white-owned farms for landless blacks.

Extortionate fees are trick to incite revolt, says ZINASU

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 16 April 2008 16:17
Universities in the country have set up a black market fees structure
for the coming semester, demanding what student leaders say are "outrageous
figures masquerading as top-up fees".
The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) is asking for Z$13bn from students for
tuition and residence fees. National University of Science and Technology
(NUST) has asked its students to fork out Z$10bn top-up tuition fees.
Students' union ZINASU claims the move is calculated to spark off
violence and so justify military rule by Robert Mugabe.

Campaign buses disappear after elections

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 16 April 2008 16:13
Commuters in the city have been left scrounging for expensive rides
once again, after buses - commandeered from their traditional long distance
routes into serving the urban centres in the run-up to the elections - have
The bus operators, who are in a critical need of scarce but cheap fuel
provided by the government-run National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM),
were blackmailed into serving the urban centres as Robert Mugabe stepped up
his election campaign and made a bid to capture urban voters.
However, after voters refused to give in to such overtures, the buses,
which charged Z$10m, have begun to return to their old routes, leaving the
urbanites at the mercy of commuter omnibuses, which on Saturday raised fares
by 50 per cent to Z$20m for a single journey. The few remaining ‘election'
buses have also raised fares to Z$15m.
"We knew that this was just a campaign by Mugabe and his party, which
was meant to lure us into voting them back, that is why we refused to be
arm-twisted. We are not foolish. It is better to suffer while trying to sort
things out once and for all than to be used by greedy people who have failed
to change the country's economic fortunes," said Marshal Ncube of Nkulumane,
stuck in a bus queue, waiting for the single bus that serves his route.
In the run-up to the elections, as many as three buses could be found
at the same terminus at a time, especially during the early morning rush
A bus driver who spoke to The Zimbabwean confirmed that the move to
bring the buses to the urban centres had been made by Mugabe's government to
try and win urban votes, but had since fallen away after the same voters
kept their allegiance with president in waiting Morgan Tsvangirai and the
Movement for Democratic Change.
"Now we are even having difficulties trying to get fuel at NOCZIM
because the election campaigns are over. Maybe we will begin to get the
cheap fuel if there is a run-off of the presidential vote, as some people
are predicting. That is when most of the buses might return to the cities,
as it is more expensive to service short routes with fuel bought on the
black market," said the bus driver.

War veterans forum stands with MDC

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 16 April 2008 16:12
The Board of Trustees of the Zimbabwe Liberation Veterans Forum have
expressed their support for the MDC, calling for Robert Mugabe to stand
A statement from the Board said all genuine veterans of the liberation
war should uphold their duty in recognising the new government - or be
accountable for treason.
"The core objective of the national liberation struggle was
self-determination, which found expression in freedom and democracy as the
ideals of the struggle, for which many sacrificed their lives, liberty and
depravation. It is these same noble ideals that stand threatened from Robert
Mugabe and his henchmen," said the statement, signed by Forum's Chairman,
Treasurer and Secretary.
"We of the Zimbabwe Liberation Veterans Forum stand ready to side with
the people of Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), civil
society and all progressive forces in Zimbabwe in defence of these ideals.
We are determined to send the tyrants packing, like their predecessors, to
the dustbin of history where they belong."
The statement said Zanu (PF)'s failure to accept and admit defeat in
the election was a flagrant flouting and violation of the popular will of
the Zimbabwean electorate. Mugabe, it said, "should do the honourable thing
and eat humble pie and leave the people of Zimbabwe in peace".
"We call on all genuine and self-respecting former liberation war
fighters and on all the commanders of the various state security arms to
uphold their constitutional duty to respect the outcome of the election as
the genuine sovereign expression of the popular will of Zimbabweans. To act
otherwise would be a treasonable offence for which they will stand
accountable and answerable jointly and severally."

Mugabe to Rule by 'Hook or Crook'


      Nelson G. Katsande

     Published 2008-04-17 09:42 (KST)

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has turned to the country's
liberation war veterans for support in a bid to cling on to power. The war
veterans, notorious for invading white owned farms in 2000 are reported to
have been promised undisclosed large sums of money should they terrorize
opposition supporters in the face of a presidential runoff.

Abid Chinodya, a war veteran in Mashonaland West province, told
OhmyNews that war veterans had been promised large sums of money and farming
implements should they stir the beleaguered leader to victory in the
presidential runoff to be announced soon. Speaking from his home in Chegutu
he said, "We held a meeting last week with top ZANU-PF officials who
promised us attractive rewards should we terrorise and scare opposition

He said they had been advised to scare opposition supporters from
turning up to cast their votes should Mugabe announce the date of a runoff.
Chinodya who admitted that there was evidence Mugabe lost the election to
Morgan Tsvangirai added, "From the bottom of my heart I truly feel that
Mugabe must go, but I have no choice but to follow instructions."

In 2000 the war veterans were allocated farms seized from white
commercial farmers under President Mugabe's land reform program. Despite
being allocated the fertile land, most of them leased their acquired land
and sold the farming implements and machinery. Most of the once fertile land
has remained under utilized.

In urban areas where the opposition enjoys great support, war veterans
are reported to be on a terror campaign, forcing opposition supporters to
join ZANU-PF by selling Mugabe's party membership cards. Those who refuse
are severely beaten. In Chitungwiza, Amos Marange a vegetable vendor was
assaulted by war veterans after he denounced Mugabe for stealing the

The war veterans who are working closely with the police have vowed to
crush any voices of dissent. Now opposition supporters are living in fear of
being attacked by the war veterans. With the cost of living in Zimbabwe now
beyond the reach of many, the majority of the war veterans live in poverty.

After the March 29 harmonized elections which saw the opposition
claiming victory, the official presidential elections are yet to be
announced with Mugabe already calling for a runoff. In Zimbabwe it is now
common knowledge that Mugabe lost the election, hence the delay in
announcing the results. In previous presidential elections, results were
announced soon after the votes had been counted.

The Zimbabwe ambassador to the UN, Boniface Chidyausiku was at pains
Thursday on British newscast trying to defend the failure to release the
results. Recently he told the BBC that he would not serve under Tsvangirai's

Mugabe is now under pressure to release the results but with the
country's high court having rejected the opposition's application for the
same, it is unlikely that the much awaited results will be availed to the
public soon. And the longer the delay, the more likely they are to be
announced in Mugabe's favor.

Mugabe who has in the past said, "Tsvangirai will rule Zimbabwe over
his dead body" is determined to rule the southern African country by "hook
or crook."

The hopes of many Zimbabweans of seeing a change in leadership have
been thwarted by Mugabe's failure to concede defeat. The integrity of the
police and security forces have been questioned after they openly said they
will not accept any other leader besides Mugabe.

It's true that absolute power corrupts absolutely.