ROBERT NOLAN: Targeting Mugabe
By THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
NEW YORK (CSM) - As the world's collective attention remains
rightly on the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the effort to oust Saddam Hussein,
another brutal dictator thousands of miles away continues to inflict
unprecedented violence and terror upon his own people, largely under the global
Two days of national strikes organized last month by Zimbabwe's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) protesting dictator Robert Mugabe's regime have resulted
in hundreds of arrests, at least one death, and allegations of widespread
torture by police and government forces.
Mr. Mugabe's own day of reckoning, however, may be near. The
opposition MDC kept two critical seats in Zimbabwe's parliament in by-elections
last weekend, further solidifying its control of the capital, where it holds all
17 seats. The election results came a day before the expiration of an opposition
ultimatum calling on the government to address its human rights abuses and
restore such democratic institutions as freedom of the press. Opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai called the developments a "final push for freedom."
Mugabe, who recently warned that those who play with fire "will not only be
burnt but consumed," has never been one to mince words. A
communist-cum-African-populist, his tenor as the president for the past 23 years
has been nothing short of a reign of terror for those outside his one-party
system. The erratic African president drew further attention to himself in the
aftermath of the most recent crackdown by making a bizarre comparison of his
leadership style to that of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Mugabe rules by fear. At the end of Zimbabwe's second chimurenga, or uprising
against white rule in 1980, he made apt use of his North Korean-trained 5th
Brigade to wipe out thousands of Ndebele minorities rebelling in the southwest
corner of Zimbabwe - an act many refer to as genocide. The uprising of the
Ndebele and their subsequent slaughter can be likened to the Iraqi crackdown on
southern Shiite Muslims following the first Gulf War in 1991.
Press restrictions implemented by Mugabe after what Western officials say was
a staged re-election last year put Zimbabwe on par with Iraq, North Korea and
Iran. Following last month's strikes, foreign media and human rights groups,
though tightly monitored by the regime, filed reports of broken limbs, sexual
assault and electric torture at a rate that should set off international alarm.
Mugabe's land-reform program has rendered what was once a surplus provider of
maize into a welfare state largely dependent on government-distributed
international food aid. Opposition groups charge that their members are denied
food because of their refusal to support the regime.
While Zimbabwe's suspension from the British Commonwealth and the current
travel ban on top Zimbabwean officials are a step in the right direction, little
has been done to stop the ongoing violence.
As the U.S.-led coalition moves forward to liberate the Iraqi people, let us
not forget President Bush's recent reprimand of the U.N. for its failure to take
action in places like Bosnia and Rwanda. If the fire in Zimbabwe is allowed to
continue to burn unattended, it is the international community that may once
again be consumed.
Robert Nolan, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Zimbabwe, is the online
editor at the Foreign Policy Association.
US Slams Poor Rights Records in Region
UN Integrated Regional
April 3, 2003
Posted to the web April 3,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the
Johannesburg - The human rights records of five
governments in Southern
Africa during 2002 were described as "poor" by the US
Department of State in
its annual reports.
In Zimbabwe, "President
[Robert] Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party used
intimidation and violence to
maintain political power. A
government-sanctioned, systematic campaign of
violence targeting supporters
and potential supporters of the opposition
began in late 2001 and
intensified during the year ... security forces
killings," a 37-page report on Zimbabwe
Ruling party supporters and war veterans, which the US called
militia", had "with material support from the government,
occupation of commercial farms and killed, abducted, tortured,
raped and threatened farm owners, their workers, opposition
and others believed to be sympathetic to the opposition," the
The State Department said various civil liberties were
freedoms of speech and the press were circumscribed by
The report also pointed to the internal displacement of
farm workers "due to the ongoing land resettlement
policies", adding that
"tens of thousands of opposition supporters were
displaced by threats of
Abuse of women and children
continued and "the president and his government
resentment of the white minority". The report also
noted anecdotal reports of
trafficking of people.
Included among governments with a rights record
deemed poor was Zambia.
"Although there were some improvements in a few
areas, serious problems
remained," the State Department said.
report on Zambia said police officers had committed several unlawful
and "frequently beat and otherwise abused criminal suspects and
While some officers were arrested, "most officers who committed
did so with impunity".
Zambia's police force lacked professionalism,
investigative skill and
Meanwhile, prison conditions were
"harsh and life-threatening". "Arbitrary
arrests, prolonged detention and
long delays in trials were problems [and]
the police infringed on citizens'
privacy rights," the report noted.
There were reports that the government
"at times sought to restrict press
As with Zimbabwe,
violence against women remained widespread and they
"continued to experience
discrimination in both law and fact, including the
denial of widows'
inheritance rights," the State Department added.
Angola was another
country where the government's human rights record was
said to be
problematic. The State Department charged that the government
commit serious abuses" during 2002. The country celebrates its
anniversary of the ceasefire agreement which ended its 27-year civil
Friday, 4 April.
The Angola report noted that "citizens have no effective
means to change
their government" and that "members of the security forces
extrajudicial killings, were responsible for disappearances and
beat, raped and otherwise abused" people in that
Following the signing of the ceasefire agreement with former
UNITA, "the army ceased to be the major human rights offender
[the disputed] Cabinda province", where separatist rebels have
an armed struggle since Angola's independence.
responsible for killings, disappearances, torture, rape and other
until the effective cessation of hostilities in February 2002, after
death of its leader Jonas Savimbi, the report said.
But the police force
assumed the mantle of "worst offender" and prison
conditions remained "harsh
"The government routinely used arbitrary arrest
and detention, and lengthy
pre-trial detention was a problem. Where it did
function, the judiciary was
subject to the influence of the president, the
ruling MPLA party, or anyone
able to offer bribes in exchange for favourable
rulings," the report
The government continued to limit
independent investigations of human rights
abuses but did allow peaceful
public protest and opposition party meetings,
the State Department
The tiny kingdom of Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as
monarch, was among the countries whose governments "continued to
serious abuses", this report observed.
Noting that Swazis were
unable to change their government peacefully, the
State Department added that
"the government interfered with the judiciary
and infringed on citizens'
privacy rights ... restricted freedom of assembly
and association and
prohibited political activity".
The report on Swaziland also noted that
freedom of the press was limited and
that "legal and cultural discrimination
and violence against women, as well
as abuse of children, remained
In Mozambique, the government's rights record improved in some
still remained poor.
"Police continued to commit numerous
abuses, including unlawful killings ...
beat persons in custody, and abused
prostitutes and street children."
Citizens' rights were restricted and the
judiciary was "inefficient,
understaffed and under-funded ... dominated by
the executive and subject to
The report also commented
that "unlike in the previous year, there were no
confirmed reports that women
or children were trafficked to South Africa or
The US State Department said South Africa, Madagascar,
Comoros, Malawi and Lesotho generally respected the human
rights of their
03 Apr 2003 13:53:05 GMT
Zimbabwe opposition wants
HARARE, April 3 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition
African ministers meeting in Harare on Thursday to condemn
Mugabe's crackdown on opposition supporters since protests
against his rule
Zimbabwe's crisis was on the agenda as
foreign ministers from the 14-member
Southern African Development Community
(SADC) began talks on security issues
in the Zimbabwean capital.
ministers cannot ignore the current reign of terror against
civilians that has been sanctioned and encouraged by Mugabe
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said in a
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, currently on trial on charges of
kill Mugabe, accused the president on Wednesday of trying to sow
of civil war and warned other southern African nations it could
The opposition says authorities stepped up
their crackdown by arresting and
charging MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda
with plotting to overthrow the
Sibanda was arrested on
Monday over his role in the staging of a two-day
strike last month that
turned into one of the biggest protests in recent
years against Mugabe's
The MDC has accused the army and supporters of Mugabe's
ruling ZANU-PF party
of intensifying a campaign in which hundreds of
opposition backers have been
detained or assaulted since the strike.
Authorities deny allegations of
Western governments have
condemned the crackdown, in which the MDC says over
500 people have been
arrested, 250 taken to hospital and scores beaten and
tortured while in
Police say they arrested scores of people in connection
with violence during
last month's strike, but deny allegations of torture.
The army has also
denied that its members are involved.
won re-election in polls last March deemed fraudulent by both
the MDC and
some Western governments.
The MDC and Western countries say fellow
African leaders, mainly South
African President Thabo Mbeki, have turned a
blind eye to Mugabe's alleged
human rights abuses.
Mugabe says the MDC
is a puppet of the West, which he says wants to oust him
in retaliation for
his seizure of white-owned commercial farms to give to
He denies that his land grab is to blame for food shortages
of Zimbabwe's 14 million people, or that he has mismanaged an
by fuel and foreign currency woes
Sacob demands more pressure on Zimbabwe
April 03, 2003, 17:15
African governments must exert more
pressure on Zimbabwe to
solve that country's political and economic problems,
the South African
Chamber of Business (Sacob) said today.
"We believe Zimbabwe is a prime example of what should not
happen in Africa,"
Marius Louw, the Sacob spokesperson told reporters in
Johannesburg. He said
governments on the continent had not put enough
pressure on the Zimbabwean
government to solve its internal problems, and
this "soft approach" would
impact negatively on the promotion of the New
Partnership for Africa's
"Others have questioned the
functionality and relevance of an
African peer review system, and whether it
will work given the soft approach
toward Zimbabwe," he said. Louw said
growing concern about Zimbabwe's
internal crisis affected southern Africa,
the entire continent, and raised
questions about the commitment of
continent's leaders to adhere to Nepad's
Supporters of the Zimbabwean government have
seen beating political opponents with impunity. President
land reform programme has been described as chaotic. "We hope
situation will be resolved there (Zimbabwe) quickly," Louw
James Lennox, the Sacob chief executive officer, said
intense lobbying in the US against Swaziland, which, like Zimbabwe,
accused of not upholding the rule of law. The Swazi government,
under pressure to accelerate political reform, has been accused of
the country's Appeal Court and this has led to a judicial crisis
Lennox said bad perceptions about southern Africa made it impossible
investors to do business in the region. - Sapa
MDC Press – 3 April, 2003
SADC Ministers Urged Not To Turn A Blind Eye To The
Crisis In Zimbabwe
SADC Ministers, meeting in Harare today under the auspices of
the 'Ministerial Committee of the SADC Organ of Politics, Defence and Security',
must not waste this crucial opportunity to unequivocally condemn the inhumane
behaviour of the Mugabe regime.
As SADC Ministers began to arrive in
Zimbabwe yesterday, Gibson Sibanda, the Vice President of the MDC and Leader of
the Opposition in the Zimbabwe Parliament, appeared in a court in Bulawayo after
being held in custody for 48 hours. The authorities claim that Sibanda's alleged
involvement in the successful stay away of 18/19 March contravened Section 5 of
the draconian Public Order and Security Act, a piece of legislation that is an
affront to basic civil liberties. Hon Sibanda is still being held in prison and
is scheduled to appear before a magistrate at 2.00pm today.
The arrest of Sibanda and many others is an intrinsical part of the current
brutal crackdown on the MDC by the authorities. Since the stay away and since
the people of Zimbabwe submitted 15 modest and reasonable demands to the regime,
through the MDC, over 500 people have been arrested, 250 hospitalised and scores
beaten and tortured whilst in police custody.
"SADC Ministers cannot ignore the current
reign of terror against innocent civilians that has been sanctioned and
encouraged by Mugabe himself. No one can deny the brutality and the scale of the
crimes that are being committed here. To turn a blind eye, for the purposes of
multilateral cohesion, would be a distinct abdication of moral responsibility,"
said MDC Spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi
Nyathi also expressed his concern and
disbelief that Zimbabwe was not even on the official agenda for the meeting,
"Given that the meeting is taking place in our country amidst the background
of an unprecedented political and humanitarian crisis, the omission of Zimbabwe
from the official agenda is bewildering and deeply disappointing. SADC Ministers
are sending a confusing signal to the suffering people of Zimbabwe, who, given
their desperate needs, are looking to SADC for support.
As Zimbabwe is not on the official
agenda, then SADC Ministers must at least use the opportunity of their visit to
collectively convey robust condemnation of the human rights abuses currently
being perpetrated by the Mugabe regime. Silence on the issue would be a gross
betrayal of the people of Zimbabwe in their hour of need".
03 April 2003
U.S. Scholar Asks What
Went Wrong with Democracy in Africa
(Prof. Richard Joseph cites problems that
retard democracy on
By Kelly Machinchick
File Staff Writer
Washington -- When considering Africa's political and
situations, with conflict, oppression, corruption and poverty
rampant and no immediate solutions in view, the question that
comes to mind is: "What went wrong?"
Richard Joseph, a
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National
Endowment for Democracy
(NED), raised that question and provided some
answers in an April 1
presentation titled, "Democratic Development and
the African Predicament" at
the NED-sponsored International Forum for
Democratic Studies. Joseph is also
the John Evans Professor of
Political Science at Northwestern
According to Joseph, Africa faces a "calamitous predicament"
"tough-minded analysis" of the situation and "determined
principled policy" are needed if the continent is to have any hope
solving what plagues it the most: corruption, poverty,
authoritarian regimes, and disease.
Africa's attempt at
democracy can be summed up with a metaphor: that
of a pond, said the
professor. After the late 1980s, "autocratic
leaders tiptoed toward the
clearer pond of democracy. A dozen years
later, a handful have made their way
to the center of the pond, where
their countries are universally regarded as
being governed in
transparent, accountable, and enlightened ways. As one
moves from the
center to the banks of this pond, the water grows murkier."
the banks, in the cloudy waters, away from transparent democracy,
where most African countries are situated.
"There is no single wave
moving these varieties of non-democratic
governments, however categorized,
toward the center of the pond. There
is really a diverse set of currents that
these regimes usually seek to
manipulate to their advantage to remain close
to the familiar banks,"
he continued. "The leaders and their reconfigured
dominate...and assiduously seek to protect themselves
chicanery and force from removal via elections."
Some of these
leaders are removed, others retire, but some continue to
hold power, like
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, he said, "compressing his
country's vitality in a
Those that suffer from such tyranny, Joseph said, are the
these countries, living in fear and harsh circumstances. "An
price is being paid by the people of Africa for the ruthless
strategies of post-Cold War regimes: whether old, as in
relatively new, as in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan; and new
of the old, as in the Republic of Congo."
nations hover near the brink of ruin as two types of AIDS
wreak havoc on
society. The first is the all-too-familiar pandemic,
HIV/AIDS that afflicts
some 30 million people in sub-Saharan Africa
and is seriously undermining all
aspects of African society. The
second "AIDS" is an economic-political form,
according to Joseph, the
"African Institutional Deficiency Syndrome." Alone,
debilitating. Combined, they are utterly devastating to
Despite the challenges Africans face, their desire for democracy
exists, he reassured the audience.
But Africa poses a dilemma
for concerned foreign governments, who
frequently receive appeals for
assistance coupled with demands that
they respect African rights, African
leadership, African peer review,
and African responsibility, said
With 28 sub-Saharan African regimes classified as authoritarian
nature, millions of people are suffering under heavy-handed
and that is a situation many developed nations consider
Complicating the already precarious situation on the continent
more frequent intervention from external forces due
counter-terrorism campaigns, he said.
Also, the situation baffles
aid workers and nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) that offer food and
assistance to countries in
need. "Often they are reduced to echoing the
slogans emitting from the
conclaves of African presidents that include such
democracy, human rights, and conflict resolution as Muammar
Libya and others. The leaders of these conclaves have even called
lifting rather than tightening sanctions on a Mugabe government
is systematically destroying its own country."
Africa is stuck, he asserted, and there is little real
moving in that [democracy] direction from the
region's present regimes.
Scholars, he said, estimate that only a
third of sub-Saharan Africa's 48
states are "sufficiently free, fair,
and competitive" to meet democratic
standards, and usually only five
countries are considered liberal
Joseph has no doubt that for Africa to achieve political
must also develop liberal economic systems that are
democratic." Economic democracy and a better sense of social
are just as important as political democracy, he said.
using Mauritius as an example, he said, "Social and economic
democracy was as
much a component of Mauritius' democratic development
electoral politics." Unfortunately, though, there are
governments on continental Africa that have provided
their people steadily
improved social services. In fact, the opposite
is usually the
As such, there are no easy solutions to Africa's
predicament," which Joseph defined as a set of mutually
crises including poverty, misrule, violent conflict, and
disasters that play off each other in "ever tightening cycles"
political, economic, and social regression. Weak states, of which
are many in the region, perpetuate the cycle and must be made
progress to be made.
However, one of the easiest ways in which the
developed world can help
Africa is "to attract back to African studies our
sharpest minds," he
said. But until African leaders choose to make strides
democracy, the pattern of "catastrophic governance" will
Despite Joseph's pessimism, the U.S. Department of
State in its annual
Human Rights Report, published this week, cited several
trends in Africa:
-- After 27 years, peace came to Angola in
February. The former UNITA
rebel movement has disarmed and is transitioning
into an unarmed
political party; and the government -- working with the
is beginning to move the country toward new elections. The
human rights violations of the civil war have come to an
-- Kenya held free elections in December and power was
transferred from a long-standing government to an
-- Madagascar overcame a political crisis
affecting the country for
the first half of 2002 to hold successful
-- Ethiopia and Eritrea have exchanged the last of
their prisoners of
(The Washington File is a product of
the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.
SADC Security Organ Meets
UN Integrated Regional Information
April 3, 2003
Posted to the web April 3,
The foreign ministers of several Southern
African Development Community
(SADC) countries gathered in Zimbabwe on
Thursday to attend a ministerial
committee meeting of the SADC Organ on
Defence and Security.
A statement from South Africa's Department of
Foreign Affairs said that
among the issues to be discussed was a review of
and their impact on the SADC region.
ministers would also evaluate relations between SADC and
partners, with particular reference to the US Agency for
Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU).
and the EU have contributed to alleviating the southern African
crisis, which has severely affected millions of people in
Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this week issued
statements urging SADC
ministers "not to turn a blind eye to the crisis" in
the country and warned
that the recent police and military crackdown on
participants in a two-day
anti-government stayaway were creating the
conditions for civil
Gibson Sibanda, the MDC vice-president arrested earlier this week,
obtain bail at a hearing on Thursday afternoon and was told he would
remain in custody until his hearing on Monday. Sibanda was charged
Section 5 of the Public Order and Security Act for his part in
the 18 and 19 March stayaway. The MDC said that at least 500 of
were arrested during the protest.
Letters to Zim Gateway..........
What the people think about the
I think you will find that the people are prepared to support the army
when they do not fear it. In Zimbabwe we fear the army. They are the enemy at
Mugabe's beck and call deployed to wreak ZanuPF's revenge in Matabeleland, the
high density areas and wherever else they are needed.
It takes a very sick mind to turn the armed forces on a defenceless
population. The question is whether we can accept that the forces are "following
orders" when they rape, maim and murder or whether their baser instincts have
taken control, effectively turning them into animals.
I would like to think that our soldiers are well trained enough to have a
reasonable grasp of issues such as human rights. In light of this, it seems that
our forces are knowingly breaking the law and as such must pay the price.
Ordinary Zimbabweans' ambivalence towards them is the best they should expect;
outright hatred is what they deserve.
Not that I am defending their actions which have become unacceptable in
some cases the army has not received much support from the people it serves, the
public. Do we remember the war in Mozambique, how about Angola, and most
recently DRC? Were their purposes as soldiers not to liberate people just like
the Allied forces are doing in the middle east. Did we give them the same
support that we see being offered to troops by the West today? Do we even
recognise the veterans (not the ones causing havoc) that have come out of these
Soldiers do not formulate policies but they take orders as they come.
They don't expect people to blame them for fighting a war when they never had a
choice in the first place. They expect to be compensated for their effort at the
end of their assignments just like the rest of the world does. They don't expect
to be taken for granted and they always take orders from the
What have we done to our soldiers?
It is scandalous that the head of the armed forces is an outspoken
supporter of RGM and his political party. The armed forces and the police should
be apolitical, if they are not then large sections of society will not respect
Combining the three armies so successfully was an admirable achievement
but the corruption we now witness has ruined it.
Mugabe and his supporters must start to pay the
price their crimes against humanity
We the people of Zimbabwe need to put an end to this abomination called
Mugabe. He likens himself to 10 Hitler's, although I believe Hitler was a
civilised gentleman in comparison to Mugabe and the animals that support
I have had enough. Those who support ZanuPF do it in the full knowledge
that they are supporting, aiding and abetting murder, torture and dehumanisation
of their fellow citizens. In light of this knowledge we need to accept that the
days of warning ZanuPF of the consequences of their actions are over. They have
been given enough chances and opportunities to cease and desist. They have
ignored them and must now be made to pay the price.
I urge Zimbabweans to start exacting that price. Being a ZanuPF supporter
must become very, very expensive.
Keep up the mass action
I’m absolutely disgusted by the events unfolding in Zimbabwe. I never
thought such a disaster would befall our beautiful country. I can’t believe that
President Mugabe would do this to his own people.
Every day I read the paper and I’m surprised. Does Mugabe really think he
is going to rule forever? I believe his days are numbered. There is nobody who
likes what is going on except the very few people who think Mugabe is
The mass action in the form of the job stayaway was very effective. I
think it’s important for people to keep taking such action. There cannot be any
results without action. I think Mugabe and his followers are deeply disturbed
I believe that people should not be afraid to protest
Mugabe should be stopped now – he has done enough damage to our lovely