The events of the past 12 months have put the rule of law in Zimbabwe in the gravest peril
The report says that the Zimbabwean Government is implicated in intimidating judges and lawyers.
President Robert Mugabe is coming under increasing international pressure over his handling of land reform and the treatment of the independent media.
The report accuses President Mugabe of failing to enforce judicial rulings ordering the occupiers of white-owned farms to get off the land.
The report says that the government's attitude "creates a culture of lawlessness which cannot be appropriate in a democratic society".
The damning report comes after a fact-finding mission that included meetings with President Mugabe and the former chief justice Anthony Gubbay.
Mr Gubbay recently resigned from his post following pressure from the government.
Over the past year the Supreme Court made several rulings against the government on the question of land reform and electoral laws which provoked the wrath of the authorities.
The IBA report says that the attempts "to obtain the resignation of a judge whose decisions against the government were found unpalatable as a serious breach of the independence of the judiciary".
Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said that the country is committed to the rule of law and the maintenance of an independent judiciary.
He also said that Mr Gubbay resigned voluntarily.
Amongst the panel that wrote the report were South African human rights lawyer George Bizos and former Indian Chief Justice Aziz Ahmadi.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 23 April
Opponents inside ANC 'threaten to kill Mbeki'
Johannesburg - Fresh evidence of a power struggle in the ruling African National Congress in South Africa emerged yesterday with claims that President Thabo Mbeki faced death threats from party colleagues. However, the allegations cannot be confirmed as the original source, Steve Tshwete, the safety and security minister, declined to comment. Spokesmen for Mr Mbeki and for the ANC also stayed silent. It fuelled speculation that the claims had been concocted as a pre-emptive strike against potential challengers to Mr Mbeki, whose position as leader of the ANC has been damaged by his handling of the Aids issue and his stance on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Last year Cyril Ramaphosa, one of Mr Mbeki's most serious challengers within the ANC, was the subject of an uncorroborated national newspaper story suggesting that he had been plotting against Mr Mbeki. Mr Mbeki cannot be challenged as leader until the next full party conference planned for December 2002. A leading national newspaper printed in Johannesburg, the Sunday Times, said yesterday that Mr Mbeki was believed by police to be in "physical danger" from senior party rivals.
Mr Tshwete was reported to have said there were "plots", but did not say they came from within the party. He said: "As far back as last year, we picked up clandestine activities involving certain individuals and we are monitoring this on a day-to-day basis to ensure that the president is safe. If people want to be president, that's fine; there are ANC structures where they can canvass properly. They must not do things in a sinister and clandestine way." Mr Tshwete and his departmental spokesmen were unavailable to clarify the claims that senior party members had placed Mr Mbeki in "physical danger".
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 23 April
Visiting lawyers condemn Mugabe
Zimbabwe’s government has "put the very fabric of democracy at risk", according to an international mission of lawyers headed by Lord Goldsmith, QC. The mission was prompted by press reports that President Mugabe's government had allowed judges to be intimidated and that the Chief Justice, Anthony Gubbay, had been forced to retire early in March. The lawyers say their visit last month disclosed not only the truth of these allegations but also "an even more serious situation in which the events of the past 12 months have put the rule of law in Zimbabwe in the gravest peril". The mission was organised by the London-based International Bar Association, which has members in 183 countries. Its Human Rights Institute is co-chaired by Lord Goldsmith, a former chairman of the English Bar who was also Tony Blair's representative on the body that drafted the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights last year. The Zimbabwe mission, whose members included lawyers and senior judges from southern Africa, India and the Caribbean, had a meeting with President Mugabe lasting more than three hours. It also met the country's minister of justice and attorney general and almost all of its senior judges.
The mission's report, published today, traces the occupation of white-owned farms by "war veterans" which led to the present crisis. It acknowledges that land reform in Zimbabwe is "necessary and urgent" but says this is no justification for undermining the rule of law. The report criticises Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, for not enforcing court orders, made with the consent of the police, requiring the police to evict illegal occupiers of farmland. "The government has not even sought to persuade the occupiers to leave by peaceful means," it says. "Instead of making a clear and principled call to others to uphold the law, its own example is of contempt for the law and the orders of the court." The mission stresses the dangers of this approach. "If the government fails to act to stop illegal conduct and, indeed, is widely believed . . . to be organising and encouraging it, it can only lead to a belief that taking the law into one's own hands is an appropriate way of responding to a personal need." Turning to the intimidation of the judiciary, it concludes that some of those who are supposed to protect the judges are the very ones fanning the flames.From The Zimbabwe Standard, 22 April
MDC slams "money for votes"
Masvingo - Alois Chaimiti, the candidate of the MDC in the Masvingo mayoral elections says the minister of youth, gender and employment creation, Border Gezi, is giving money to residents of Masvingo to make them forget how Zanu PF has ruined the once prosperous town. Gezi’s ministry has so far poured in $1,4 million and another $1,6 million is set to be distributed to residents of this small town before the elections set for 12 and 13 May. The money comes in the form of loans to people wanting to start income-generating projects. Anyone wanting to access the loans must apply through one of the 10 Zanu PF wards in Masvingo urban. Gezi has declared that the coffers of this fund, which critics say are there to enable the ruling party to buy votes, will never run dry.
Speaking at the official launch of his bid for Masvingo’s top civic post, Chaimiti, an engineer, said only people who had something to hide could go about dishing out money to people. "It is only a guilty person who bribes a chief presiding over his case and in the same way, it is Zanu PF which has failed to deliver which comes with millions for the residents of Masvingo whom it has short-changed. They come with money and say ‘take it and forget about the potholes, forget the corruption and the mismanagement’ that have rocked our once beautiful town. They know they will lose the election if people go to the polls with sober minds," said Chaimiti.
Amid calls of "Chinja! Chinja!" from the packed Mucheke Hall, the aspiring mayor said those who received the money had to realise that the future of the town was at stake. Masvingo – Zimbabwe’s oldest town - has been reduced to a bankrupt establishment with a $50 million budget deficit. " Can we forsake good governance because of this worthless Zim dollar. Can we honestly forget about our pot hole ridden roads because we have been given money 21 years after independence?" questioned Chaimiti who has been a resident of Masvingo for 32 years.
The aspiring MDC mayor is facing Zanu PF’s Jacob Chademana and Femias Foroma Chakabuda and Alois Chidoda who have turned independent. Analysts say the former Masvingo provincial water engineer has an edge over his rivals because of his engineering background. A holder of an honours degree in civil engineering from the University of Brighton, Sussex, UK, Chaimiti has planned, developed and managed water resources in the country for many years, making him the best man to solve Masvingo’s nagging water problems. Town officials say at present, the council needs to raise $500 million to upgrade the existing water reticulation system. Residents on the other hand, do not see the need for this for they believe Masvingo is well catered for by the vast waters of Lake Mutirikwi, the country’s largest inland water reservoir, which is only 30 km away. They are pinning their hopes on Chaimiti for they say the Zanu PF-dominated council lacks technical know-how, while Chaimiti has vast experience in the field.
From The Chicago Tribune, 22 April
UN soldiers allowed into Congo for deployment
Kisangani - Jubilant Congolese greeted UN peacekeepers on Friday as they arrived in this key river port after the end of a six-day standoff with rebels that had blocked their deployment. As the convoy carrying 120 Moroccan troops moved along Kisangani's wide boulevards past crumbling colonial-era buildings, hundreds of residents anxious for an end to Congo's 2 1/2-year civil war danced and scrambled to board UN vehicles.
Rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda took up arms to topple former Congolese President Laurent Kabila in 1998. Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola joined the fight in support of Kabila. A peace accord was signed in July 1999, but it never took hold. But the search for peace gained momentum after Kabila was assassinated Jan. 16 and replaced by his son, Joseph.
The Moroccans are part of the 2,500-member UN force that is to protect UN bases and equipment while 500 unarmed observers monitor a cease-fire. But a Rwanda-backed rebel group had blocked their April 15 deployment in Kisangani to protest cease-fire violations by government forces. After meeting Wednesday with ambassadors from UN Security Council member nations, rebel leader Adolphie Onusumba agreed to let the deployment proceed. Onusumba heads the Congolese Rally for Democracy, one of two rebel groups that have wrested control of much of eastern and northern Congo.
From The Sunday Nation (Kenya), 22 April
The Congo Story: From Lumumba to Mzee Kabila
Kinshasa - On a chilly night on January 17, 1961, the formerly elected prime minister of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, and two of his former ministers, were dragged from their holding cells to a tree. On that fateful day in the copper rich district of Katanga, a Belgian officer, acting on orders from Kinshasa, gave an order and Lumumba was sprayed with bullets. Exactly 40 years later, on January 16, 2001, Laurent Desire Kabila, a man from Katanga, was in Kinshasa's Marble Palace preparing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Lumumba's death. Suddenly, one of his body guards turned and, without speaking, sprayed him with bullets.
As Kabila fell, he gave pause to a movement of Lumumbaism which he had resurrected in his march from his Katanga homeland to drive the technocrat Mobutu SeseSeko from Kinshasa. To many Congolese, Kabila's death was a repeat of an old-age colonial legacy and as in Lumumba's death, they are pointing accusing fingers at the Americans and Belgians. When Sunday Nation visited the Marble Palace, Angolan soldiers stood outside the massive gates of what used to be Mobutu's home and the place where Kabila was killed. The parallels between Lumumba and Kabila are clear to the teary-eyed Congolese. With the death of Laurent Kabila, Uganda and Rwanda have started pulling their troops out of Congo and many see this as evidence that the war was not by rebels fighting Kabila but of super powers who are afraid that given a chance, Congo has the potential of becoming one of the richest and most powerful nations in the world.
The war in Congo has not been a war between Laurent Kabila and rebels hoping to overthrow the government. Sunday Nation has established that there isn't much of what one can call rebels. This has been a war between the invading forces of Rwanda and Uganda against Congo and its mineral-benefiting allies of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia. It is also a war in which it is believed the Americans have invested nearly US$5 million in supply of weapons and assistance to those opposed to Congo. The rebels said to have been fighting Kabila were small and poorly organised and without the support of Uganda and Rwanda would have been unable to capture any land. Intelligence sources have confirmed to the Sunday Nation that Uganda and Rwanda picked a few Congolese and asked them to front as rebels.
This, the sources argue, is the reason the main rebel factions, namely the Congolose Rally for Democracy (RCD led by Prof. Wamba dia Wamba, and the Congolese Liberation Front led by Jean Pierre Bemba, Mbusa Nyamwisi and Ateenyi Tibasiima, are uneasy with the withdrawal of Ugandan and Rwandan troops and are keen for dialogue with the new government in Kinshasa.
The instability in Congo has partly been instigated by Congo's yet untapped mineral wealth that even the Mafia now want to control. The fighting has been in the rich mineral regions of Eastern Congo. Despite the nearly abject poverty of its people, Congo is so rich in mineral wealth that it has virtually all known rich minerals found in the world. Large deposits of gold, copper, cobalt, diamonds and petroleum oil still remain untapped. The country's rivers provide a source of hydroelectric power giving Congo the capacity to light up all of Africa. Thousands of kilometres of forests have ample supply of wood that rivals that of the fast-depleting forests of the Amazon. At the University of Kinshasa, Congo has Africa's only nuclear reactor and research centre since the country also has uranium deposits. The American atomic bombs that were dropped on the Japanese islands of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in the Second World War used uranium mined in the Congo.
Congo's richness is also its curse. Everyone wants to benefit at the expense of the Congolese. After years of enriching Belgium, a free Congo attempted to define a system that would share its mineral wealth with its own people. This, Lumumba saw, could only be achieved by minimising the influence of the West in the Congo and by forming friendships with communist-leaning systems. This is an idea that was revived by the late Kabila. Lumumba's murder 40 years ago was the finale of a long drawn out campaign against African leaders who questioned the influence of Western nations and adopted communism as a way of rule. According to the US News and World Report, fearing Lumumba's ideas of African self-reliance and an African brand of communism, the American Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, had in 1960 dispatched an agent to assassinate Lumumba. The agent named Sidney Gottlieb, had arrived in Congo with a toothbrush for Lumumba. The toothbrush was laced with poison.
The Belgians, however, beat the CIA in assassinating the popular Lumumba who, a week before he was killed, wrote to his wife, "I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable, and with profound trust in the destiny of my country." He was 35. New evidence has shown that getting rid of Lumumba and his communist ideas was so important that the Belgian Police commissioner in charge of the operation, Gerard Soete, used a hacksaw to cut up Lumumba's body and dissolved it in sulphuric acid. There was to be no martyr left to bury. Last year, Soete retold his involvement in Lumumba's death and on Belgian national television displayed two of Lumumba's teeth, which he claimed he had saved as mementos.
Observers in Congo speculate that Kabila's body must also have been heavily destroyed because no one was allowed to view it. Conspiracy theories that it is not Kabila buried on the grounds of the National Palace are circulating in Kinshasa. This adds to the mystique surrounding his death and the involvement of foreigners. "The Americans killed him," a Congolese journalist told the Sunday Nation. "They offered him money and he told them no, not now, and they knew they could not control him, so they killed him." "It was the Belgians, always the Belgians," a woman at Kinshasa's market said. Another blamed the Lebanese because after Kabila's death, 11 of them were shot dead by security forces and were accused of engineering the assassination.
These may just be expected conspiracy explanations of the murder but they underscore the belief of many in Congo - Mzee Kabila was killed because he wanted the best for his people. Though how good he was to his people is questionable, billboards bearing his photo and declaring him a national leader and martyr are in nearly every corner of Kinshasa. People still talk of him as the man who managed to get rid of Mobutu and who resurrected Lumumba's "profound trust in the destiny of" Congo. For starters, after taking power, Kabila got rid of the name Zaire and restored the popular name of Congo. To differentiate it from the Republic of Congo, whose capital Brazzaville can be seen across the Congo river from Kinshasa, he added Democratic to the name. Mobutu's yellow and green flag with an image of a burning flame was replaced by a blue flag. The new flag has one large star in the middle symbolising the power base of Kinshasa province, and six other stars symbolising the original six provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After taking control, Kabila replaced almost all government officials with Kiswahili-speaking people from the East, an area that had been sidelined by Mobutu. Now, it is not French nor Lingala that is heard in the corridors of power in Kinshasa but Congolese Kiswahili. Even the new leader, Joseph Kabila is fluent in Kiswahili and English but has difficulties with Lingala and French. After taking power, Kabila appeared driven to get rid of many of Mobutu's systems but was unable to sever the tentacles that had been siphoning minerals from Congo. Diplomatic sources point out that he was so obsessed with Congo being independent that he became unreasonable and blind to the fact that Congo was a major player in international politics. He became suspicious of many and turned his friends, Museveni and Kagame, into his bitter enemies.
After taking power, he continued signing questionable mining deals with American and European companies. A recent report by the World Policy Institute shows that a deal with American Mineral Fields is said to have been a reward to the company for assisting in the days leading to ousting of Mobutu. Eastern Europe Mafia groups are taking part in the mining industry in Congo and sources told the Sunday Nation that they are so powerful that they will not be easy to contain. It is also said that Zimbabwe has been benefiting from illegal mining of Congo's diamonds and that President Robert Mugabe is highly dependent on the money he is getting from Congo. The dependency is so strong that sources point out that if it was not for Congo's minerals, Mugabe's government would fold.
Angola, like Congo has rich deposits of oil but has had a love-hate relationship with Congo. In March 1977, for example, rebels fighting Mobutu marched in from Angola and invaded the Shaba region, taking control of a large region and nearly making it to the copper mining town of Kolwezi. It is not yet clear to the Sunday Nation how much Namibia is benefiting from siding with Congo but there is ample evidence that the military assistance Kabila got was not for free.
For more than 30 years, Mobutu Sese Seko, with the full support of Belgium, France and the United States, ruled Congo with an iron fist. When Kabila managed to get rid of Mobutu, he restored the legacy of Lumumba which Mobutu had sought to wipe from the memories of his people. Now that Kabila is dead, it remains to be seen which path his son, Joseph Kabila, takes. Many agree that it is going to be near impossible for him to identify who are his real friends. So far, unlike his father, he appears committed to dialogue with his father's enemies and has refrained from extolling Lumumbaism.
Lawless Zimbabwe 'sliding into anarchy'
An international mission of lawyers has warned that the rule of law in Zimbabwe is on the point of collapse and the country risks descending into anarchy. The 10-strong team of legal experts from the International Bar Association visited Zimbabwe last month to investigate press allegations of intimidation and threats of violence against members of the legal profession, including Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, who later resigned. Their report, which is to be published tomorrow and a copy of which has been obtained by The Observer, has issued a damning verdict on President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF regime. It says: 'The situation disclosed during the visit has, regrettably, not only disclosed the truth of those allegations but an even more serious situation in which the events of the past 12 months have put the rule of law in the gravest peril. The circumstances which have been disclosed show, in our view, conduct committed by government which puts the very fabric of democracy at risk.'
The report is expected to increase pressure for the country to be suspended from the Commonwealth and face international sanctions. The International Bar Association was alerted to Zimbabwe's crisis when Mugabe's Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, threatened Gubbay, who was eventually forced to resign in February. But the erosion of the rule of law began more than two years ago when the police began acting as a wing of the Zanu-PF. The report traces the judicial breakdown to the farm seizures beginning in February 2000 by 'war veterans' from Zimbabwe's independence struggle. By mid-March 2000, more than 500 farms had been occupied. The mission was deeply critical of the government's failure to intervene in illegal seizures.
The nine-strong delegation was led by Lord Peter Goldsmith and included lawyers from India, the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. The International Bar Association, whose honorary president is Nelson Mandela, represents lawyers from 183 countries and is not affiliated to any opposition groups in Zimbabwe. In a meeting with Mugabe, the mission was told that the government had not intervened for fear of increasing the bloodshed. But its report endorsed a judgment of the Zimbabwe Supreme Court, which said: 'Wicked things have been done and continue to be done. They must be stopped. Common law crimes have been, and are being, committed with impunity. The government has flouted laws made by parliament.' Goldsmith told The Observer: 'The conduct encouraged and conducted by Ministers was leading to a culture of lawlessness.' He said the delegation was shocked by attacks on judges and the government's refusal to obey orders made by its own courts. Goldsmith also expressed his dismay at an astonishing public attack on the international delegation by Chinamasa and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo on state television. They claimed the trip had been stage-managed by the opposition MDC.
Zimbabwe's legal crisis has deteriorated further since the bar association's visit. Tawanda Hondora, chairman of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, was beaten by officers at a police station when he tried to investigate reports that they were intimidating witnesses in a coming trial. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights stated it is 'outraged by the continued brutality, lack of respect for fundamental human rights and political partisanship of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. We condemn police involvement with the vigilante groups of Zanu-PF supporters who are creating a reign of terror in Zimbabwe.' The breakdown of the rule of law prompted the Assistant Police Commissioner, Emmanuel Chimwanda, to resign from the force after 21 years of service.
In January 1999, two journalists, Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto, were illegally detained and tortured by army officers and agents of the shadowy CIO. Police have not investigated the crimes or arrested any suspects. Mugabe stated publicly that the torturers were justified in their actions. The politicisation of the police force gathered pace after the defeat of Mugabe's draft constitution in a referendum in February. Determined to win parliamentary elections, he unleashed the war veterans on MDC supporters and the police took no action. Police stood by as 300 war veterans attacked a peace march, and beat scores of people. On 18 April last year a white farmer, Martin Olds, was murdered by armed supporters of Mugabe. Police stopped other farmers from going to his rescue and did not hunt his killers. A week later David Stevens, a white farmer and MDC supporter, was abducted by the veterans. Five other farmers who went to help him were dragged from the Murewa police station and beaten unconscious. Stevens and his black farm manager were murdered. Two black MDC campaigners were murdered when their car was firebombed in May 2000. No arrests were made. In June an MDC agent, Patrick Nabanyama, was abducted by Zanu-PF supporters. He is presumed dead. Men identified as responsible were held but released without charge.
From The Sunday Times (UK), 22 April
Mugabe hires US spindoctors
An international political lobbying company has been hired for £2m by Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, to improve his image in America and Britain. The firm has been asked to counter the "misunderstandings" and "recriminations" that Mugabe blames for his portrayal as a despot and for his country's growing international isolation. The move is the latest attempt by Mugabe to sideline his critics abroad, including the Foreign Office, whom he has accused of racially motivated attacks on him. The president has run a violent campaign to intimidate political opponents and has banned foreign investment in the Zimbabwean media to keep out "colonialist views".
The £2m fee - a huge sum for Zimbabwe to find from its foreign exchange - will be paid in five annual instalments to Cohen and Woods International (CWI). Herman Cohen, a former American ambassador in Africa, and James L Woods, a former adviser to George Bush Sr, have represented a string of controversial African politicians, including the leaders of Angola and Burkina Faso. They are reputedly among the best-paid lobbyists in Washington. Speaking from his office in Arlington, Virginia, Cohen refused to discuss the contract. "We have a no-comment policy in relation to this," he said.
Mugabe's reputation abroad has been in freefall since he was accused of encouraging last year's invasion by squatters of white-owned farms. His Zanu-PF party is said to have orchestrated the killing, torture and beating of opponents. Mugabe has said the accusations are lies and that he is the victim of an organised campaign that is depriving Zimbabwe of foreign aid and investment. The confidential agreement between CWI and the Harare government, which has been seen by The Sunday Times, says the crisis has "unfairly poisoned international public opinion against Zimbabwe", with the result that "political, commercial and financial co-operation" are in peril. The lobbyists' brief is to "counter anti-Zimbabwe content in the international media", as well as setting up a website and writing to heads of international business. The agreement was signed last year by Chen Chimutengwende, the former information minister. Work on the project is understood to have started recently.
Mugabe is still blocking publication of two commissions of inquiry into the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s, in which 20,000 people died. Zanu-PF supporters are blamed for a bomb attack that destroyed the presses of The Daily News, Zimbabwe's leading independent newspaper. The Sunday Times is raising money to buy a new printing press for the newspaper. The five-year contract with CWI covers the expected presidential elections in 2002, when Mugabe will face claims that he has wrecked Zimbabwe's economy and reputation.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 22 April
Terror returns to Muzarabani
Nine families supporting the MDC in Muzarabani had their homesteads destroyed by Zanu PF supporters over the Independence holiday, as war veterans continue with their orgy of terror in rural areas. The Standard on Friday spoke to some of the affected families who are now housed at the MDC headquarters at Robinson House in Harare. The families narrated their ordeal at the hands of war veterans and ruling party supporters who burnt their granaries, huts and raided livestock and food.
Wellington Rwaninga of Kairezi Village, the district chairman for MDC, said his homestead was destroyed last week by scores Zanu PF supporters, comprising war veterans and youths who raided his family on Wednesday afternoon. The attackers took everything they could get hold of, including his goats. Rwaninga said the Zanu PF supporters were led by a war veteran called Mujambajecha. "They took us by surprise as I was relaxing with my family. They force-marched us out of houses, before burning down my four houses. I managed to escape the raid and slept the whole night in the bushes. My family was harassed and was asked leave the village and go and stay with people who are sympathising with the MDC. "I have lost everything which I have worked for the past 20 years," he said. Rwaninga told The Standard that Zanu PF supporters had set up bases at Chandereka and Chimoi business centres. He said the war vets were forcing people to attend pungwes.
James Chihoto, another victim who suffered the same fate as Rwaninga, said his family was forced out of their homes and denied permission to harvest their crops, which he said were looted by the Zanu PF youths. "These people are terrorising us. We are now living in a war zone. Everyone is no longer free, especially families who are known to be staunch members of the MDC. We have been living in hell since the war veterans launched their campaign in January. The only crime we have committed is of supporting MDC," he added. He said the war veterans had declared the constituency a no go area for the opposition, with each family in the constituency being asked to report their visitors to the war veterans leadership because any visitor is being viewed with suspicion
Another youth member, Ignatius Musora, told The Standard how he was brutally beaten and left for dead by the war veterans after he had refused to attend one of the night rallies over the Easter holiday. "They raided my home in the night and broke down my door and dragged me to the outside of the hut where they beat me with logs. They left me lying on the ground thinking that I was dead. I managed to struggled to walk to our neighbour’s home who provided me with shelter for the night. "He then helped me with bus fare to Harare as my savings were destroyed during the raid. I am now worried about my family. I don’t know what has happened to them since I left last week," he said. Muzarabani is in Mashonaland Central Province, a stronghold for Zanu PF where five deaths related to political violence occurred last year in the run up to the general election. Norbert Nzinzi of Zanu PF defeated MDC candidate, Timothy Mukwenge, in the parliamentary elections.
From The Sunday Independent (SA), 22 April
Mugabe to seize slain widow's farm
Harare - President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has begun moves to seize the farm of a 72-year-old widow, scarcely two months after suspected state agents gunned her down in a hail of automatic fire. Silverstream farm in the Nyamandlovu district, about 80km north of the western city of Bulawayo, was among 138 farms listed in the government gazette on Friday for "compulsory acquisition" by the state, under the name of Alfred Olds. Gloria, his late wife, was shot dead at dawn in early March. She was found dead with 15 bullets in her body, lying inside the gate of her homestead. Her son, Martin, was murdered a year ago on his nearby farm in an independence day raid by Mugabe's war veterans and members of his notorious secret police, eyewitnesses said. Her other son, David, who also farms in the area, could not be contacted, but friends of the family expressed dismay. "It's shocking that the government is rushing to grab Gloria's farm so soon," said one, who asked not to be named. They said the family would challenge the proposed seizure in court.
Last Wednesday, the anniversary of Martin's death, mobs of war veterans marched onto his deserted farm and marked out properties for themselves, the independent Daily News reported yesterday. Six men are in custody after being arrested last month in connection with Gloria Olds' murder. The alleged killer, war veteran Howard Ncube, is also accused of abducting an official of the opposition MDC. The official is believed to be dead. Mugabe has ignored legislation since February last year when mobs of veterans began their campaign of occupation of white farms. "We have resolved to go ahead and allocate land on all gazetted properties," Joseph Made, the lands minister, said this week. The government has targeted 3 000 white-owned farms, but Made said more land would be seized if that proved inadequate. Western governments have dismissed his land reform programme as a lawless and racist landgrab that is destroying Zimbabwe's economy.
From a reader
A Constitutional Proposal
Riding high on the successful implementation of his visionary programme of agrarian reform as well as his firm handling of our immigrant problem, our President Mugabe has just announced that he will be standing for another five year term as the leader of our happy little democracy. The announcement has long been awaited. Some might feel even that it was overdue. Pessimistic mutterings had begun to emanate from the nation’s Jeremiahs that rather than committing himself to the burdens of state the great man might selfishly choose instead to spend more time with his family, in a mansion on the Cote d’Azur or the slopes of Table Mountain. But yet again he has chosen to walk the path of national destiny, rather than meandering the alleys of private pleasure, and joy reigns unconfined across the land.
It seems very likely that President Mugabe will win the forthcoming election handsomely. He has, after all, won a place in the hearts of our people that is difficult to describe. It seems certain too that when he chooses to run again in the election following that election, which will take place barring unforeseen developments, in 2007 or 2008, he will win just as handsomely. (In fact there are reliable rumours that the results for that year are presently with the Government Printers in Harare.)
But certain worries remain; patches of cloud that drift across the smiling face of the African sun. What about the election after 2007, in 2012, or the one after that again in 2019? To say nothing of 2026 or 2033? Can we really presume on the iron sense of duty of this great man indefinitely, to keep contesting these irritating, unnecessary and even demeaning bunfights which only serve to distract him from the national agenda of economic growth and democratic development? Mightn’t the temptation to spend more time with his family, to write that piano concerto, develop his skills as a water colourist or complete the roman fleuve finally get the better of him? Not for the first time, one must urge the President to reconsider his constitutional position against the day cares of state become unbearable.
He must confront his own personal limitations for the sake of the nation. Yes; one must repeat, loud and clear; he has personal limitations and he must overcome them! One is after all no lickspittle, no sycophantic courtier at some despot’s court. The Honourable and Angelic President Comrade Robert G. Mugabe is too big a man for that sort of guff. He knows criticism must be expressed where it is due, without pulling any punches. He is simply too clever to be impressed by fawning and flattery. So one can voice criticism without fear of repercussions. One can say that this Christ-like man who embodies the sacred essence of our glorious national spirit is too modest. Due to the sweetness of his soul, he has been burdened by a jealous God with undue humility. And therefore he has repeatedly refused over the last twenty years of national independence to declare himself to be above the tawdry machinations of national politics. Why else would he subject himself to the farce of these periodic campaigns that prove nothing but the unworthiness of the electorate he so gloriously serves?
Indeed, many influential people now believe that, standing as he does at the epicentre of the African Renaissance he must accept the mantle of Kenyatta and Banda and declare himself Zimbabwe’s Ruler for Life. But one has only contempt for these cringing ideological deviants. They are nothing but treasonous and opportunistic monitor lizards. Indeed, I denounce them as evil owl-loving, chameleon-nurturing wizards, cloaked in the hyena skins of depravity and kilted in the colobus monkey tails of unrighteousness. For they seek, in their hideous blasphemy, unforgivably to limit the political power of RG Mugabe. In sum they are lower than dogs and pigs, are without the slightest appreciation of theology or political science, and deserve nothing better than a seat in the councils of the gay gangsters of the British Cabinet. One prays that their impious counsels be overlooked.
Why should our Right Revered Leader, the wrestler of bulls, the sacred repository of the spiritual essence of lions and pangolins, be required to be clinically alive in order to hold his position? After all, though Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea, died in July 1994 he is more popular and successful than ever in his constitutional position as Eternal President of his prosperous and celestially well-governed country. Due to obvious procedural difficulties his son Kim Jung Il has accepted executive responsibility for (mortal) affairs as Leader of the ruling party and Commander-in-Chief of the army. And thus the path for Zimbabwe. In due course, when our handsome, aromatic and rhinocerotically virile President elects to join our ancestors in their numinous deliberations, he will continue to rule over us from the starry heavens while Bellarmine, his son, gets on with mundane day to day business. In this way the desirable constitutional practice of the separation of powers between the temporal and the infinite will be respected. And the future will look glorious indeed.
From The Sunday Independent (SA), 22 April
Foreign armies exploit Congo's riches – study
Foreign armies embroiled in the war in the DRC have little incentive to put down their arms since their economies have been enriched by massive looting, says a UN study on the illegal exploitation of the country's natural resources. Zimbabwe has enriched itself in numerous ways from the war. Its soldiers were paid bonuses from profits derived from Gecamines, Congo's state-owned copper and cobalt mining company, while it was being run by Zimbabwean industrialist Billy Rautenbach, says the report. Rautenbach's company, Ridgepoint, had entered into an illicit deal with the Congo government to run the mines in October 1998, the UN says.
While Zimbabwean soldiers were being paid by Rautenbach, he gave no wages to Gecamine workers, leading them to strike in April 1999. Congo broke its deal with Rautenbach in October 2000. But Rautenbach was back on the scene early this year. He was about to be given Gecamines again, but President Laurent Kabila was killed two days before he could sign the contract. The report says Rautenbach had forged links with reputed Zimbabwean arms dealer John Bredenkamp and Emmerson Mnangagwa, the speaker in Zimbabwe's parliament, who were in on the Gecamines deal. The Zimbabwean military has also enriched itself with lucrative joint ventures and concessions from Congo, says the study. The late Kabila gave various mining concessions directly to the Zimbabwean defence forces.
Although the independent study, ordered by the UN, blasts Zimbabwe, Congo's ally, its main focus is profiteering by its enemies - Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Timber, cars, livestock, crops, minerals, cash and anything else of value was stolen from eastern Congo between 1995 and 2000 by well-organised cartels run by high-ranking Rwandan and Ugandan military officers and businessmen, the study says. The report concludes that the defence budgets of Rwanda and Uganda are insufficient to finance their war efforts and that the exploitation of Congo's resources make the conflict "self-financing". "The results of illegal exploitation have been twofold: massive availability of financial resources for the Rwandan Patriotic Army and the individual enrichment of top Ugandan military commanders and civilians" and "the rise of illegal networks headed either by top military officers or businessmen".
The report openly questions the stated war aims of Rwanda and Uganda. "There are strong indications that if security and political reasons were the professed reasons for moving into the eastern DRC, some top army officials clearly had a hidden agenda: economic and financial objectives. Within one month of the outbreak of 1998 hostilities," it adds, "Ugandan general James Kazini was already involved in commercial activities. He immediately organised the local commanders to serve their economic and financial objectives, including the elder son of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. Since 1998, aircraft [have flown] from the military airports at Entebbe and Kigali, transporting arms, military equipment, soldiers and, for some companies, merchandise. On the return flights, they will carry coffee, gold, diamond traders and business representatives," the study says.
The report does not mention that some foreign troops have begun to withdraw from Congo under the most recent peace agreement. Yet walking away from such a lucrative war cannot be easy for those who've profited. "When the spider leaves, the web remains," says Mel Holt, an American security consultant who sat on the panel of experts that drew up the report. "They are beginning to leave under international pressure. But they could always come back."
A New York court starts hearing arguments on Monday in a case being brought against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.
What we're wanting to prove is that he is wrong and as head of state he should be punished
However the US State Department, at the Zimbabwean Government's request, has asked the court to grant Mr Mugabe immunity because he is a head of state.
The court action against Mr Mugabe was begun late last year. Four families are seeking compensation from him in New York's district court.
At least 32 people were killed in the violence that led up to last June's parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe.
Elliot Fevre, who was standing as a candidate for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says his family was targeted by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party. His brother was among those killed.
"My brother was not lucky," he said. "They abducted him and he was beaten until he collapsed and died."
The Americans are concerned that should the case proceed it could set a precedent that might see a US president being sued for the actions of the United States abroad.
Maria Stevens' husband, David, was shot and killed by war veterans who invaded their farm last April. She says she wants to see Mr Mugabe held accountable.
"Really what we're wanting to prove is to say that he is wrong and as head of state he should be punished," she said.
"We have got an opportunity to show head of states that they're actually not going to get away with it."
A decision by the New York court is not certain to come immediately.
The arguments could drag on for some days.