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On strike without any work

Comment from The Times (UK), 3 April

Jan Raath, The Times correspondent in Harare, says there are few signs of
today's planned general strike, but that is hard to tell in a country where
the factories run three days a week and four in five people are unemployed.
"It's nearly a normal day here, but not quite. I would say the message to go
to work has taken hold. There are a lot of people about and most businesses
and shops are open that I have seen in Harare today. But it's not just fear
that has prevented people from taking part in the two-day strike though.
There have been reports of genuine intimidation, with members of Zanu PF and
the Government's militias going into people's homes and saying: 'If you
don't go to work, we will beat you up.' You have to remember that 80 per
cent of Zimbabweans are unemployed, so there's often very little to do
anyway, and the state of the economy is such that many factories are only
operating for three days a week. All of which makes it hard to judge the
effect of the strike. There is also the important point that in such
conditions, with inflation above 1,700 per cent, to ask a Zimbabwean to
forgo the chance of a day's work is a very serious thing to do. So it's not
quite normal, in terms of the activity of the city and businesses being
open, but what is very abnormal is the heavy security presence. There are
police everywhere, with trucks packed full of soldiers and police officers
making their way around the streets. Helicopters have been on patrol over
Harare all day and Israeli-made water cannons are in position in case of

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Zimbabweans can't afford to strike, say employers as work stoppage fizzles

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 4, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe - A national strike lost momentum on its second day
Wednesday, with many Zimbabweans too poor to afford staying away from work
for long in a country in economic meltdown.

Commuter buses ran normally, and a heavy presence of police and troops
deployed on the first day of the strike Tuesday was mostly withdrawn. But a
military surveillance helicopter flew over the capital after Information
Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu warned that a national reaction force was still
on alert and ready to move at a moment's notice.

The main labor federation called the 48-hour strike to protest Zimbabwe's
economic crisis, the worst since independence in 1980, accusing the
government of corruption and mismanagement that has fueled official
inflation of nearly 1,700 percent - the highest rate in the world - acute
shortages of food, hard currency and gasoline.

Managers at a commercial firm in Harare reported that staff said they came
to work Tuesday afraid of losing their jobs with little prospect of finding
other work. Record unemployment is estimated at about 80 percent. On Monday,
Labor Minister Nicholas Goche said employers were free to fire strikers
without going through often lengthy arbitration provisions under labor laws.

Staff also admitted they didn't want to miss lunch at the firm's canteen,
the only regular daily meal they could rely on. Some who were supporters of
the strike stopped work after lunch, the managers said. Others could not
afford to have their pay docked by two days.

While the strike was reported to be successful on the first day, employers
reported a lower level of absenteeism on Wednesday and said businesses were
able to open.
"It's got nuisance value today, " said one factory owner who asked not to be
identified. His production lines were disrupted Tuesday when 40 percent of
the work force stayed away.

Officials of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, describing the strike as
quite successful, accused ruling party loyalists at businesses of listing
the names of workers who didn't show up as part of government intimidation
tactics. Workers feared being targeted later in a state-orchestrated
campaign of violent reprisals.

Independent Harare economist John Robertson said deepening economic
hardships changed the traditional animosity between workers and employers.

"Resentment in the workplace is against the government rather than employers
who are trying against all odds to keep their businesses running and workers
in their jobs. The business sector is no longer seen as the enemy, the one
exploiting you," he said.

That created loyalty to embattled employers, he said.

State radio reported Wednesday that the strike had been "generally
peaceful." Police arrested four people after youths stoned buses in
impoverished Harare townships and attempted to erect makeshift barricades on
the streets. The radio said there were no reports of violence or arrests in
other towns or cities.

President Robert Mugabe was on a trip to Asia, the state Herald reported
Wednesday. He was expected back at the weekend. No reason was given for the
trip, which came after a month of escalating violence blamed mainly on

Mugabe has acknowledged Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, and least 40 opposition activists were
beaten up while in custody last month after police crushed a March 11 prayer
meeting they said was a banned political protest.

Mugabe warned protesters they would be "bashed" again if they continued to
incite violence, a reference to government accusations that the opposition
is to blame for a wave of unrest and petrol bomb attacks, allegations the
opposition has repeatedly denied.

On Tuesday, the Herald, the main government newspaper, printed an apparent
death threat against British Embassy political officer Gillian Dare,
accusing her of financing what it called a terror campaign by government

It called Dare "the purse holder and financier" of an alleged terror

"It will be a pity for her family to welcome her home at Heathrow Airport in
a body bag just like some of her colleagues from Iraq and Afghanistan,"
wrote David Samuriwo in an article on the newspaper's leader page. "It is a
foregone conclusion Zimbabwe security forces will definitely get an upper
hand sooner rather than later."

Ringleaders of alleged violent resistance were already under arrest and more
opposition officials were likely to be caught as investigations continued,
the article said.

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Anxious Zimbabweans return to work

Staff and agencies
Wednesday April 4, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The second day of a general strike called by Zimbabwe's main trade union
body again had minimal impact today as most workers, wary of a heavy police
presence and the risk of losing their jobs, went to work as normal.
The first day of the 48-hour strike, called by the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) to demand pay increases for workers hit by
hyperinflation, saw some shops and factories close in Harare and other
cities, but most were open as usual.

According to local reports, more businesses were open today. In central
Harare, full bus services were running, while post offices, banks,
government offices and shops were all open, the AFP news agency reported.
According to Reuters, even more squads of riot police were visible in the
traditionally restive working-class townships around Harare today than were
present yesterday.

Some workers who did stay at home yesterday said they saw no point in
observing the second day of the strike when so few others were joining them.

"We stayed away [yesterday] because we thought that is the right thing to do
to express our grievances. But we are here today because we realise it's not
going to make much of a difference if only a few of us are going to heed
this strike," a worker at a brick factory in Harare told Reuters.

The government of President Robert Mugabe says the ZCTU has called the
strike as part of a plot by the main opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), to oust the current regime.

The country's state-run media gloated today over the relative lack of
support for the stoppage, saying workers had defied the unions because they
did not support their "western and imperialistic agenda".

Mr Mugabe has repeatedly claimed that Britain and other western nations are
backing the MDC as part of an attempt to unseat him.

While the strike was officially called over pay, it was also viewed as part
of the wider campaign to force Mr Mugabe from office after 27 years. The
ambivalent support for the action appeared to reflect a widely held loss of
confidence in the opposition's ability to challenge Mr Mugabe's rule.

Last month, the leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, was badly beaten in
police custody, prompting international protests. Mr Mugabe was unrepentant,
however, saying the opposition leader had deserved to get "bashed".

South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, who has been appointed by regional
leaders as a mediator in Zimbabwe, said yesterday he believed Mr Mugabe
would step down.

Mr Mugabe, however, has said he has no plans to do so. Last Friday, the
central committee of his Zanu-PF party endorsed him to be the party's
candidate in next year's elections.

But the economic crisis continues to put pressure on his government.
Inflation, officially running close to 2,000%, could double by the end of
the year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Zimbabwe's economy has fallen on the back of a sharp drop in agricultural
production since white-owned farms were seized and redistributed to war
veterans, subsistence farmers and the ruling elite.

Production of tobacco, once the largest hard-currency earner, and food crops
is less than half what it was prior to the repossessions.

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Zim inflation heads for 2 500%


04/04/2007 11:23 Johannesburg - Inflation in
crisis-riddled Zimbabwe is projected to reach at least 2 500% this month,
the official Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The paper said prices had risen between 200% and 500% since March 1, the
date a price freeze was supposed to come into effect.

The annual inflation rate in once-prosperous Zimbabwe is already at 1
729.9% - the highest rate in the world.

But a new crisis, prompted by the detention and beating of opposition
officials including Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, has seen prices spiral out of control.

"It may reflect profiteering intentions on the part of industry or it may
mean genuine replacement pricing. It's a free-for-all and nobody knows
what's really taking place in the market," economic analyst Midway Bhunu

The Herald said consumer spending in Zimbabwe had reached rock bottom
because disposable incomes had shrunk so significantly.

Meanwhile, a two-day strike call to press for higher wages appears to have
gone largely unheeded in the country. Analysts say this is because
Zimbabwe's mostly self-employed workforce cannot afford to take time off

"It's a futile exercise to call people to stay away," political commentator
John Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe said.

Military helicopters hovered over central Harare suburbs on Wednesday, the
second day of the strike. - Sapa-dpa

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Zimbabwe state agents "assaulted union official", ZCTU claims

The Raw Story

dpa German Press Agency
  Published: Wednesday April 4, 2007

Johannesburg/Harare- State agents allegedly
assaulted a
trade union official in the eastern Zimbabwean
city of Mutare on the
first day of a two-day strike, it was claimed
Takesure Muri, president of the textile
workers union, was
assaulted Tuesday after he and other workers
at Karina Textiles
supported the strike called by the
350,000-strong Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions, an official in the union's
information department

"They beat him up," said Khumbulani Ndlovu.
She said he was not
seriously hurt. The state agents had also
forced the general manager
of the company to travel to the homes of
workers to order them back
to work, the official added.

Tuesday's strike was called to push for higher
wages, better
conditions and free access to anti-AIDS drugs.
The strike has not
been widely followed and state media Wednesday
declared it a flop.

However, a few factories have been affected.

A large cigarette-manufacturing company in
Harare has been closed
for the past two days after its 200 or so
permanent workforce heeded
the call to stay away from work, a company
official said Wednesday.

"We aren't making any cigarettes," he said.
The workers at his
factory decided to stay away despite being
told that their leave days
would be docked if they supported the strike.

Conditions for the country's workforce have
deteriorated rapidly
in recent months, with prices of commodities
spiralling upwards on a
near daily basis.

Even the state-controlled Herald newspaper
admitted Wednesday that
inflation - already the world's highest at
over 1,700 per cent - was
this month expected to surge to 2,500 per

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency

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Dark days ahead for Zim residents


    April 04 2007 at 02:22PM

Harare - Zimbabwe's state-run power company, which earlier this year
declared itself broke, has hiked tariffs by 350 percent, reports said on

Mavis Chidzonga, commissioner of the price-setting Zimbabwe
Electricity Regulatory Commission said there would be further electricity
price hikes of 120 percent in June and 50 percent in October in a bid to
make the loss-making ZESA Holdings viable, the Herald newspaper said.

News of the hikes came as Industry and International Trade Minister
Obert Mpofu warned the government would take stern action against businesses
upping their prices.

"There was no justification on price increases, some of which were
being done on an hourly basis," Mpofu was quoted as saying.

Power and transport costs are major push-factors on production. But
ZESA officials maintained the 350 percent tariff hike would not have a major
impact on prices already spiralling upwards amid the world's highest rate of

The Herald claimed the new tariffs, which come into effect this month,
would only increase the price of the staple maize meal by 1.5 percent, bread
by 0.04 percent and flour by 3.7 percent.

In January ZESA Holdings said it had incurred a loss of 34-billion
Zimbabwe dollars (about R970-million) last year by charging sub-economic
tariffs. The company warned Zimbabweans to brace themselves for worse power

This southern African country has been hit by perennial power
shortages due to a shortage of hard currency needed to import excess power,
and to refurbish broken down generators at its coal-fired power stations.

Zimbabweans have been warned to expect a dark Easter, as officials are
due to shut down the country's main domestic source of power the Kariba
hydropower station for maintenance checks. - Sapa-dpa

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Helpless, as a dictator lays waste

Sydney Morning Herald

Miranda Devine
April 5, 2007

For thousands of Zimbabwean exiles in Australia - black and white - it is
excruciating to watch the tragedy unfolding in their homeland. The former
Zimbabwean soldier Irvine Ndou, 30, whose nine-year-old daughter still lives
there, can only watch in dismay from his new home in Perth, and write
impassioned articles on his website

"I fear Zimbabwe will become like Rwanda, where everyone knew what was
happening but turned a blind eye," he said on the phone yesterday.
"[Atrocities] are still happening in Zimbabwe right now."

The former Rhodesia, once Africa's breadbasket, is a basket case. But the
man responsible, the 83-year-old dictator Robert Mugabe, was last week
endorsed by his party to stand again in "elections" next year, even while
the world protested, albeit feebly, at his regime's escalating human rights
abuses, such as the violent crackdown last month on the opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai.

The New York Times reports hyper-inflation in Zimbabwe at 1700 per cent and
tipped to rise to 5000 per cent this year, unemployment at 80 per cent, life
expectancy at 36, the lowest in the world, and malnutrition and starvation
as orphaned children scavenge in rubbish heaps for food.

Ndou was detained and tortured by Mugabe's henchmen after the rigged
elections of 2000, when he refused to help drum up support for the
Government and was accused of working for the opposition. He and a friend
escaped by foot into Botswana - walking all night in dark bush, frightened
half to death by the "sounds of the lions and elephants" - and then came to
Australia in 2003.

He grew up at a time when the one-time militant Marxist Mugabe was being
feted by the West, loaded up with honorary degrees from international
universities, and called a good friend by the then Australian prime minister
Malcolm Fraser, who helped propel him to power, but is now
uncharacteristically quiet on the subject. Meanwhile, back in reality,
Mugabe's North Korean-trained soldiers were murdering as many as 25,000
people in the southern province of Matabeleland in 1984 and 1985.

As the Rhodesian-born journalist Peter Godwin wrote this week in The New
York Times, the massacres rated "barely a peep out of the international
community. Somehow, to attack Mr Mugabe was to appear to be giving succour
to white South Africa, and Zimbabwe's strongman was a master at spinning it
that way."

Growing up in Matabeleland, Ndou remembers classmates coming to school
having been raped and bashed, relatives disappearing. Outside his school, he
says, he saw the body of a pregnant woman whose child had been sliced out of

He remembers a disused mine into which 2000 people were herded and buried
alive. "African leaders were complaining but unfortunately Britain and
America looked the other way and said Mugabe was a good leader."

Ndou says the West really only became concerned about Mugabe when white
farmers started being murdered. "If the West wants to help Zimbabwe it must
first acknowledge [the Matabeleland massacre] . They have never actually
condemned him for that."

Sharing Ndou's sorrow is the Sydney filmmaker Chloe Traicos, 29, who
documented his story in A Stranger in My Homeland, which won the best
director award for an international documentary in the 2005 New York
Independent Film Festival. When her white Zimbabwean family fled the country
in 1998, "we thought it couldn't get any worse". At the time, the morning
newspaper was fat with the names of farmers whose properties were being

Her mother's family had arrived in Zimbabwe from Russia a century earlier
bringing the first tobacco plants. Her father, John, a lawyer, had played
cricket for Zimbabwe, and leaving their home was a wrench.

Most of her friends in Zimbabwe were black and they, too, have fled, an
exodus of educated youth Zimbabwe couldn't afford. She remembers growing up
under Mugabe's rule, suffering a bit from Stockholm syndrome - a
psychological defence mechanism in which captives identify with their
captors. "When you grow up under a dictator and elections are being held
every year and he always wins, you can't imagine who else could be leader
other than Mugabe."

She and Ndou form part of an enormous opposition in exile, doing what they
can to pressure the international community to exert more pressure on
Mugabe. But the news is not good.

A planned two-day strike in Zimbabwe organised by trade unions this week was
deemed a flop after police and soldiers, with helicopters, roadblocks and
water cannon, intimidated people into business as usual.

A crisis meeting in Tanzania between Mugabe and southern African leaders
last week achieved little. It publicly backed Mugabe, who blames Zimbabwe's
economic crisis on so-called "smart" sanctions imposed by the West; he
claims he is being punished for seizing white-owned farms.

The meeting also appointed the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, as a
mediator between Mugabe and the opposition. Mbeki is regarded as having
influence over his landlocked neighbour, and has told reporters he believes
Mugabe will step down peacefully before next year's elections.

But Mbeki's reassurances have been wrong before, his previous softly-softly
mediations have failed and he shows no indication of toughening his stance.

Mugabe "is a disaster, his country is just a total heap of misery", the
Prime Minister, John Howard, said on radio last month. "It's time that the
neighbouring African countries, particularly South Africa, exerted political
pressure on Mugabe to go."

If diplomacy has any value in high-risk situations, now is the time to prove
it. But Traicos and Ndou remain pessimistic.

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Urgent appeal for medical supplies and funds


Faced with a rapidly escalating, brutal campaign of violence perpetrated by
the Mugabe regime, Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change has issued an
urgent appeal for medical supplies as well as funds for medical costs, food
and legal assistance.

 Their appeal comes in the wake of a vicious crackdown on opposition
activists and supporters that began with the planned day of prayer on Sunday
11 March and continues to make headlines worldwide.

Since the start of the bloody crackdown by the increasingly marginalized
Mugabe regime, up to 300 people are known to have been beaten up or tortured
and the country's struggling hospitals are battling to cope.

Injuries include serious eye damage, deep lacerations, severe blunt-force
trauma to the abdomen, ruptured bowels, fractured limbs and skulls, broken
ribs, shattered joints, gunshot wounds and extensive damage from blows to
the back, shoulders, buttocks and thighs.

Numerous women are among the victims, including a woman in her late 30s who
was seven months pregnant.  She was savagely beaten with a baton and lost
the baby as a result. Two have been hospitalised in South Africa.

There are fears of more bloodshed this week during the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Union's stay away to demonstrate against oppression, hyperinflation,
unemployment, poverty and the government's failure to provide basic

According to Roy Bennett, treasurer of the MDC, up to 30 people a day are
being detained as the countrywide purge of opposition groupings continues.
Bennett warned that the objective is to destroy the opposition before the
glare of an election refocuses international attention.

"Campaigning by Zanu-PF has been stepped up dramatically," he said.  "The
regime's strategy is to hammer people on the ground by beating and torturing
them into submission or to incarcerate them."

Bennett said Zimbabweans were frequently criticised for a perceived lack of
courage and for not solving their own problems.

"However, critics outside the country have to understand that this regime is
ruthless in its desperation to hold onto power and extreme violence remains
its most powerful weapon," Bennett explained.

"It takes supreme courage to face the full might of the Zanu-PF military
machinery and no one is exempt, not even a 64-year old grandmother like
Sekai," he said.

Sekai Holland, the MDC's secretary for international affairs, was gravely
injured during a two-hour torture session which included her deputy, Grace
Kwinjeh, also a member of the organisation's national executive.

Holland suffered multiple fractures including three broken ribs, a broken
arm and leg as well as deep tissue bruising. After being denied medical
attention for a dangerously long period, she underwent surgery to insert
pins in her arm and leg, but her knee - which was also shattered - required
specialist surgery in South Africa.

Bennett is appealing for urgent medical supplies or funds to purchase MARS
(Medical Air Rescue Service) kits.  He says that funds are also required
urgently for medical costs, food and legal assistance.

Government hospitals frequently refuse to provide medical assistance to
opposition supporters and are increasingly without medical supplies, so
private hospitalisation and self-help are the only options.

MARS first aid packs and financial donations

 MARS first aid packs are required for emergency teams, medical staff,
doctors dealing with torture victims, nursing sisters in high-density
suburbs and trained volunteers operating in vulnerable areas.

 According to a spokesperson, many victims are afraid to move after violence
and brutality as they face the danger of further beatings.

 Financial donations would enable the organisers to purchase customised MARS
packs valued at about R1 000.   With inflation soaring well past 1 700%, a
specialised MARS pack in Zimbabwe currently costs an unaffordable Z$770 000.

For those who are willing to donate urgently needed medical supplies, the
list includes crepe bandages, burn shield, first aid dressings, surgical
strips, latex gloves, saline drip delivery sets, space blankets and zinc
oxide strapping.

 Donors who are able to provide complete packs or items for the packs should
refer to the list posted on the following websites: The Zimbabwean or Zim Online

Alternatively, contact the organisers to discuss what is needed.  Phone
Tracey Le Roux in Johannesburg on +27 11 799 6100 or e-mail

Audited bank accounts have been set up in South Africa and the United
Kingdom for this purpose:

South Africa

Account Name:   Zimfund
Account Number 1589406079
Bank:   Nedbank
Branch:  Brown Street Branch, Nelspruit,
Mpumalanga, South Africa
Branch Code:  158952

United Kingdom

Account Name: Zimfund UK
Account No: 80558850
Bank: Barclays
Sort Code: 20-46-60


Note:  Contents of MARS kits are listed on page 4 of this release

Submitted on behalf of:

Roy Bennett
Movement for Democratic Change
Tel:  +27 11 799 6101 (direct)  or +27 11 799 6100 (shared switchboard,
office hours)
Cell:  +27 82 388 4985


Tracey Le Roux
Movement for Democratic Change
Tel:  +27 11 799 6100 (shared switchboard, office hours)

Emergency list    4 April 2007


Antiseptic solution   2
Burn Shield 10 x 20     4
Burn Shield 20 x 20      1
Cotton buds2
Crepe bandages 50mm and150 mm   10 each
Eye ointment                  1
First aid dressing size 5     8
Forceps                    1
Gauze swabs 100mm 30
Glucose sweets           10
Eyedrops     2
J-fasts 150 mm               2
Latex gloves                 24
Loperamide                    10
Malasone     20
Micropore                1
Normal Saline 1000mls5 plus delivery sets
Paracetamol                 30
Plaster                         10
Safety pins                    6
Saline drip delivery sets    4
Scissors                        1
Space blanket                 1
Stopyne     20
Surgistrip                        1
Thermometer                  1
Triangular bandages         8
Voltarin ointment    1
Wow bandages              2
Zinc oxide strapping        1 Approximate cost of kit:  R1 000


Betadine antiseptic solution x 750ml
Betadine ointment
Crepe bandages 100mm and 150mm
Diclofenac 50mg x 200 tablets
Elastoplast x 10 rolls
Gloves - sterile, size 7.5 x 20
Gloves - latex size medium
Orthopaedic wool 100mm and 150mm
Paracetamol 500mg x 200 tablets
Paraffin gauze x 3 tins
Plaster of Paris rolls 100mm and 150mm
Sutures  2.0 nylon and 3.0 nylon

If you are able to provide items for the packs or complete packs, please
Tracey Le Roux on +27 11 799 6100 or e-mail

This information will also be carried on the following websites:  The
Zimbabwean or Zim Online
Information on bank accounts to which donations can be sent are listed
overleaf.       /...


Audited bank accounts have been set up in South Africa and the United
Kingdom to receive funds:

South Africa

Account Name:   Zimfund
Account Number 1589406079
Bank:   Nedbank
Branch:  Brown Street Branch, Nelspruit,
Mpumalanga, South Africa
 Branch Code:  158952

United Kingdom

Account Name:  Zimfund UK
Account Noumber:  80558850
Bank:    Barclays
Sort Code:   20-46-60


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Battle for Zimbabwe Seen From Both Sides

Cape Argus (Cape Town)

April 4, 2007
Posted to the web April 4, 2007

Dianne Hawker
Cape Town

A former Zimbabwean soldier living in Cape Town has told how he and other
operatives would break up rallies and regularly follow suspected opposition
members, particularly before elections.

And a Movement for Democratic Change member, also living in the city, has
spoken out about how he and other MDC members were kidnapped and beaten over
a two-week period.

In an interview with the Cape Argus, former soldier Brian Dzingirai told how
his unit often carried out "surveillance operations" against those believed
to oppose President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government.

He said he trained as a member of the Intelligence Corps, and was later
moved to the more skilled Commando Regiment, which helped "protect the
status quo".

Dzingirai said the unit was often used to break up peaceful protests similar
to the one in Harare's Highfields township, where MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai was severely beaten recently.

He deserted the army in December 2005 after refusing to carry out an order
to break up a demonstration.

"Now people are concerned because Tsvangirai has been beaten, but many more
people have even died before that," said Dzingirai.

According to the soldier, his former regiment often joined forces with the
police and "went underground to deal with demonstrations from the

"To give you an example, there are some people who were under surveillance
who have now disappeared," he said.

In a separate interview, he added: "They (the government) have many spies
everywhere, even teachers and nurses.

"They used to deploy us to watch people.

"We had to gather as much intelligence as possible. If they could prove that
you were an enemy to the status quo, they would get rid of you."

Dzingirai said he left the country after being arrested for defying orders
to break up a peaceful protest at the Chitungwiza township.

"We reasoned it in our minds and tried to voice our concerns.

"We saw there was nothing threatening going on there.

"But our policy is that if you land on the ground we don't leave anything,
whether they are innocent or not," he said.

"Others were loading their AK-47 and preparing their stun grenades.

"But we were still defying the order.

"We refused everything.

"I cannot say if anyone was killed because I don't have any evidence of
that. But people were beaten.

"I still have nightmares about what happened."

MDC member Calvin Tapa, who has fled to Cape Town, said that the government
intelligence groups were a law unto themselves in Zimbabwe.

The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is a state intelligence wing,
while the Intelligence Corps forms part of the army.

Tapa, who is MDC-UK chairman Ephraim Tapa's nephew, now lives in a shelter
in Wellington after fleeing Zimbabwe earlier this year.

He recalled an incident in 2002 in which he and several other MDC members,
including his uncle, were "kidnapped and beaten" for two weeks by members of
the CIO.

According to Tapa, he, Tsvangirai, Ephraim Tapa and his wife Faith Mukwakwa
were followed while campaigning in the Mushibo area.

Everyone else but Tsvangirai was subsequently kidnapped and held for two
weeks by intelligence operatives.

"They were beating us and threatening to kill us.

"A message finally got out with one of the intelligence guys who was only
pretending to be Zanu-PF," said Tapa.

The group was finally released after several high court appeals.

Dzingirai said many army, police and intelligence members "do not agree with
the Zanu-PF political stance", but feared losing their jobs.

As a result, he believes "about 5 000" army members have deserted, leaving
for South Africa, Botswana, the UK and other countries.

"Definitely, people in Zimbabwe are searching for a messiah, someone who's
not afraid of being killed.

"If the opposition is really serious, they can take advantage of the fact
that so many policemen and army people are leaving.

"They can start a revolution from outside the country," said Dzingirai.

Both men still have family in Zimbabwe, and fear for their lives if they are
made to return under the current regime.

While Dzingirai says he was able to receive the official documentation
required to stay in South Africa through a university law clinic, Tapa is
still awaiting an appointment at the Refugee Reception Centre

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Zim cops in 'orgy of violence'


04/04/2007 09:33  - (SA)

Waldimar Pelser, Beeld

Johannesburg - Young women used iron rods to beat pleading grandmothers and
called them whores, while a policewoman shouted "Now go for the heads!"

This is how a prayer meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, turned into an "orgy of
violence", says William Bango, 53, a senior Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) member and spokesperson for party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Bango told Beeld from his Johannesburg hospital bed how he, Tsvangirai and
other MDC members were beaten with "unheard of cruelty" by Zimbabwean police
on Sunday March 11.

Bango described seeing a grandmother, 64-year-old Sekai Holland, repeatedly
hammered with a pole by young women who called her "one of Blair's whores".

He was admitted to Netcare Milpark hospital with internal injuries on March
25, after flying into South Africa the previous day to attend a meeting, and
nearly collapsing shortly afterwards.

Internal injuries

With 27 shiny metal stitches holding his stomach together, he gave his
account of his brutal assault and how doctors had to carry out an emergency
operation to examine his internal injuries.

The assault took place at the Machipisa police station, where Bango and
other MDC activists were taken after police banned a prayer meeting in
Highfield township.

"We were ordered to lie on the ground. Then the orgy of violence began, with
the usual accusations that we were the puppets of Tony Blair and the whites,
and that we wanted to give our land back to the colonialists.

He was still wearing a drip attached to his left arm, despite being moved
from the hospital's high care unit two days before.

Bango said he phoned Tsvangirai, who arrived 20 minutes later. By that time,
about 45 MDC members had been assaulted on a plot of land near the charge

"The beatings lasted for three-quarters of an hour. They even dragged
Tsvangirai from his idling car, and began hitting him. The woman in charge
shouted: "Now the ribs! Now the buttocks! Now go for the heads!"

'There are certain things you don't do in Africa'

Referring to the assault of Holland and another woman, Grace Kwinje, both of
whom were being treated at Milpark, Bango said: "There are certain things
you don't do in Africa. To beat grandmothers like that is crueller than
anything I've ever seen in the films, or in fiction."

He and 11 other activists were kept in a single cell with 30 young criminals
in the city's central police station for two days, without food or water.

His wife was not allowed to visit him.

Bango said President Robert Mugabe and his nationalists had "served their
purpose, but it's time to hand over power, not necessarily to the
opposition, but to their own people".

Ironically, Zimbabwe was sliding back steadily to the "iron age" just as
South Africa was getting ready for 2010 Soccer World Cup, he said.

"But South Africa can't exist as a supermarket in the desert. The entire
tournament will suffer if there's a thug in the neighbourhood."

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Special forces unit 'Department 5' allegedly behind wave of violence

By Lance Guma
04 April 2007

Online website Talk reports that it has impeccable information
that a special police department has been given the green light to detain
and beat up people active in organising protests. The website claims the new
force is named 'Department 5' and is composed of specially trained hit
squads that are specifically targeting 'civilians.' Members of this unit do
not wear uniforms and stick to civilian clothing. Opposition officials have
confirmed their members are being abducted by individuals in civilian

Itayi Garande who edits the website says their sources have fingered Zanu PF
political commissar Elliot Manyika as the driving force behind the new
department. He said Manyika has already called on Zanu PF youths and war
veterans to prepare for a campaign of violence against the opposition and
that the minister was quoted as saying they had to be "silenced at all
costs." He says it was Manyika who led the cheerleading when the ruling
party's central committee met on Friday to endorse Mugabe running for a
further five-year term.

Unemployed youths within and outside the Zanu PF ranks are being recruited
and allegedly offered as much as US$1000 per day during special operations.
Garande says Department 5 has been used to intimidate people into going to
work despite the 2-day stay away called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions. According to Garande its not yet clear whether the name 'Department
5' is meant to draw traumatic images of the 5th brigade which murdered close
to 20 000 people in Matabeleland, but the similarity appears deliberate.

Talk Zimbabwe says this department has been in training since last year and
is a secret force whose presence some senior Zanu PF members are not aware
of. 'They are a swift and brutal group. They are trained in torture and
sniping tactics. This force is the most brutal force in dealing with
civilians,' a source told the website. 'They operate in civilian clothes and
will often make friendships with members of the civilian population to gain
the information they need. Your neighbour could be a member of Department 5.
They are highly paid and supported,' the source added.

Garande was keen to emphasize that Department 5 is a developing story and
more information would become available with time. The unit is also
allegedly linked to the Special Air Services but Garande says that angle of
the story is still being fully investigated. There was however a significant
use of helicopters in their operations, he conceded. The unit is being used
to create incidents of violence to justify brutal responses by the security
forces. Already a Zanu PF vigilante group known as Chipangano is recruiting
bus rank marshals from places like Mbare and has been identified as leading
some of the abductions of opposition activists. Whether they also fall under
Department 5 is still unknown.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Lawyer discloses details of Bake torture

By Lance Guma
04 April 2007

Gory details of how Raymond Bake, the coordinator for ward 34 in the
Combined Harare Residents Association, was tortured by police have been
released to the media by his lawyer. Alec Muchadehama said Bake was ordered
to lie prostrate on a railway line and told they wanted him run over by a
train. His dreadlocks were tied to police vehicle rails before the police
started pulling him away and plucking the locks from his bleeding scalp. He
was later beaten using booted feet and baton sticks all the way to Harare
Central police station. Once there officers in the law and order section
took turns assaulting him before they transferred him to Matapi police
station in Mbare. The beatings continued there.

Bake is being accused of bombing Marimba Police Station and throwing another
petrol bomb into a passenger train travelling to Bulawayo. Police allege a
piece of cloth was found at the scene, which matched another one found at
Bake's house. Muchadehama says his client is still being denied medical
treatment. The police tortured Bake and forced him to write 5 different
statements implicating several other activists for the bombings, which many
have dismissed as a government ploy to impose a state of emergency. Press
reports say Bake appeared at the magistrate's court with a shaven head and
looked in extreme pain. He was amongst those denied bail on Monday and
remanded in custody to the 16th April.

Three bail applications have so far failed to secure the release of
opposition activists who were arrested last week as part of the government
sanctioned crack down. Defence lawyers have sought to get magistrate Gloria
Takundwa to recuse herself from the case citing bias but she refused to do
so, arguing there was no evidence to that effect. The High Court will now
hear the bail application Thursday morning according to Muchadehama. The
state has refused to allow medical treatment for some the activists who were
abducted from hospital saying a prison nurse had confirmed that they were
now okay. This is despite the activists themselves confirming they needed

In other related stories the Zimbabwe National Students Union reports that
suspected state security agents bombed the University of Zimbabwe new
Complex 4 dining hall on Tuesday. 'A huge and frightening ball of fire
engulfed the building destroying property worth trillions of Zimbabwean
dollars,' the union said in a statement. They say a petrol bomb was thrown
into the building at around 10pm and students had to vacate the campus
residence fearing for their safety. 'The vampire regime is carrying out an
evil operation of petrol bombing police stations, passenger trains and
shops, blaming it on the opposition,' the students union said.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Majongwe abducted on Second day of ZCTU stayaway

By Tererai Karimakwenda
04 April, March 2007

The propaganda campaign that began last week to instil fear in Zimbabwe's
workers continued on Wednesday as the job stay-away organised by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) went into its second and final day.
State controlled media reports warned people to go to work and patrols in
many areas maintained a fearful atmosphere.

The daily abductions of opposition officials and supporters continued with
the kidnapping of Raymond Majongwe, the secretary general of the Progressive
Teachers Union (PTUZ). Witnesses said he was abducted at gunpoint on Tuesday
by suspected CIO agents in Milton Park, Harare. It turns out Majongwe is
also a member of the ZCTU general council and the PTUZ is an affiliate of
the national labour body.
Our contacts on the ground said some more shops and businesses that were
closed Tuesday opened on Wednesday after tight security was deployed in the
industrial areas. They said many people who went back to work on this second
day did so out of fear of losing their jobs in a country where unemployment
is above 80%. The few who were brave enough stayed home. In solidarity with
the ZCTU, protesters demonstrated in Johannesburg and Pretoria in South
Africa and at the Zimbabwe Embassy in London.

In South Africa solidarity with the ZCTU stay-away continued with a second
day of protests organised by the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions
(Cosatu). One was in Johannesburg at the Zimbabwean Consulate and the other
in Pretoria at the High Commission. There were no top union leaders at
either venue as it was on Tuesday when COSATU's general secretary Zwelinzima
Vavi addressed the crowds. Craven said Vavi spoke out about the appalling
economic situation in Zimbabwe and the attacks on opposition leaders. He
also handed a memorandum about these issues to the Zimbabwe Embassy. Craven
said the memo was accepted by a junior officer who angered the crowd with
his dismissive attitude.

The ZCTU stay-away was also supported across the oceans in the U.K. where
the Trade Union Council (TUC) and Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) held a
protest demonstration at the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. Alois Mbawara and
his colleagues from the FreeZim pressure group were there in solidarity with
the workers back home. Mbawara said although about 50-60 people turned up,
the event was a success because it was a weekday at lunch time when no-one
would normally be there. Protesters held placards with clear messages,
including "Power to the working classes" and "Poverty Datum Line for Zim
working class".

Analysts have said businesses are the key to the success of mass action
stay-aways. Employers should assure their workers that they would not lose
their jobs and should support protests. In the end companies can only
benefit if a democratic society can be created and the econo

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Fifth time unlucky for 13 MDC petrol bombs suspects

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 04/05/2007 04:55:48
A ZIMBABWEAN magistrate on Wednesday turned down a FIFTH bail application by
13 opposition activists facing charges of setting off several petrol bombs
across the country, their lawyer said.

Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said he would now approach the High Court
to secure the release of the activists, all of them members of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Muchadehama said: "The magistrate dismissed our application today for the
fifth time. We were also seeking that the magistrate recuse herself. We are
now going to the High Court."

The 13 include two senior aides of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai -- his
advisor Ian Makone and Glen View legislator, Paul Madzore.

The 13 were rounded up in a police swoop on Tuesday last week which saw the
MDC HQ cordoned off. Several searches were conducted at several properties
around Harare and police said they had recovered explosives.

Police also said one of the suspects had burns, suggesting he had been
injured during one of the petrol bombings. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena
AND President Robert Mugabe have both pointed the finger of blame at the
MDC, accusing the opposition party of getting support from western countries
to destabilise the country.

The MDC rejects the accusations, and insists that the government is trying
to justify a country-wide clampdown on opposition gatherings and arrests of
its members.

"We are aware of Mugabe's tired tricks of planting arms on perceived enemies
since the days of the former PF-ZAPU led by Joshua Nkomo and Ndabaningi
Sithole's ZANU (Ndonga), which was falsely accused of plotting to kill
Mugabe," said Tendai Biti, an MDC MP.

In all, police say 10 petrol bombs have exploded in recent weeks. Four
police stations in Harare, Gweru, Mutare and Chitungwiza have so far been
bombed. Several police officers have suffered burns during the attacks.

Meanwhile a mysterious fire gutted a dining hall at the University of
Zimbabwe on Tuesday night.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said police are still investigating but
he could not immediately say if it was a petrol bomb.

"We are still investigating, and we are not ruling out arson," Bvudzijena

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Attacks On Journalists Continue; IFJ Condemns Violence And Harassment By Police

International Federation of Journalists (Brussels)

April 4, 2007
Posted to the web April 4, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned recent
attacks by the police and other members of the country's security forces,
who last week assaulted, arrested and brutalised journalists and confiscated
and destroyed the journalists' equipment.

"The IFJ is deeply concerned by the continued brutalisation, harassment,
intimidation, forceful arrest and detention of journalists in Zimbabwe,"
said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. "Such inhumane
treatment of journalists shows a flagrant disregard for their fundamental
human rights and respect for the rule of law. The Government of Zimbabwe
must provide the conducive environment that allows journalists to perform
their duties without fear or intimidation, as expected of any democratically
elected government."

A correspondent of the Zimbabwean newspaper, Gift Phiri, was abducted by
police from his house on Sunday and detained by police in the capital,
Harare. The police later returned to his house and confiscated his computer
and collected some business cards.

Reports from Zimbabwe indicated that Gift Phiri, who is still in police
custody, has been severely beaten by the police. His wife, Tevedzerai
Maphosa, was able to visit him on Monday and said Phiri is "in a bad shape."

Two other journalists, Tawanda Musiyazviriyo and Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, both
of whom are correspondents for international media, were also recently
arrested and their equipment confiscated and destroyed by the police. Tapiwa
Zivira, a student journalist with The Standard, the only remaining privately
owned Sunday newspaper was attacked by police last week when he was covering
a planned demonstration by city residents.

Another trainee journalist, Tapiwa Chininga, who is working for the
state-owned news agency New Ziana, was said to have been fired for asking
the "wrong" questions. Chininga was arrested and could face criminal charges
after he asked police why they did not feel guilty for killing an opposition
activist, according to reports.

The IFJ urges Zimbabwe's government to put an immediate end to these
arbitrary arrests of journalists and to release all imprisoned media
workers, especially those journalists who are presently in custody due to
bogus accusations and other flimsy charges. The Mugabe Government should
endeavour to uphold its commitment to respect human rights and ensure that
those police officers who take the law into their own hands and wilfully
assault journalists are brought to justice.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.

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Zim refugees pour into SA


    April 04 2007 at 12:39PM

By Dianne Hawker, Zama Feni Siyuvile Mangxamba and Murray Williams

Cape Town is taking heavy fall-out from the worsening Zimbabwe crisis,
as thousands of asylum-seekers flood into the city.

They favour Cape Town, Zimbabweans say, because the threat of
deportation and the level of violence are lower than elsewhere in South

Official statistics say that 2 750 Zimbabweans have arrived in the
city so far this year, compared to 1 083 registered in March 2005 to April
2006 period, according to home affairs

       'Would not go back as long as Mugabe was in power'
But the figures do not account for the thousands of Zimbabweans who
flood across the border illegally to escape the turmoil under the presidency
of Robert Mugabe.

The Sunday Times reported this past weekend that as many as 49 000 a
month were entering illegally. Up to 150 a day were being detained at the
Lindela Repatriation Centre near Johannesburg.

Sandy Kalyan, the DA spokesperson on home affairs, said MPs on the
parliamentary portfolio committee were told last week that there were around
111 000 Zimbabwean refugees in SA last year, but officials had managed to
process only about 7 000 of them. "But the reality is that the number is far
higher than that," she said.

"The department does not have the systems in place to accurately
monitor numbers.

"And the borders are so porous and not manned properly. The reality is
that the department has lost control of the situation."

Chris Maroleng, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security
Studies, said this morning: "Refugees are coming to South Africa mainly as a
result of the economic crisis, which has seen unemployment calculated at 80
percent and inflation at just under 2 000 percent.

"In a situation in which basic commodities are in short supply - like
fuel and the staple food, maize meal - so many people have looked for
greener pastures.

"South Africa has proved to be one of the favourite destinations,
because it is seen as having abundant economic opportunities.

"South Africa also offers the possibility for people to integrate,
because of its diverse ethnic and racial composition."

He said the influx could have a "negative impact on social and
economic infrastructure of this country and place a burden on the
government's ability to deliver services to its own people".

A visit to the local Refugee Reception Centre on the Foreshore
revealed that it is inundated with applicants for asylum, and cannot cope .

Asylum-seekers interviewed this week told the Cape Argus illegal
Zimbabweans in Gauteng were more likely to be deported than those in Cape

In Gauteng they often had to pay bribes to get out of jail.

Yolisa Mkalipi, regional manager for the Home Affairs agency Refugee
Reception Centre, said a number of asylum-seekers were in the city for
economic reasons.

"However, this year it is mainly asylum-seekers seeking refugee status
for political reasons."

A Zimbabwean business student at UCT, Simbarashe Mutongwizo, said he
was an "academic refugee" and would not go back as long as Mugabe was in

"That door is closed by the dictatorship. The house is no longer my
home and I am an academic refugee because I cannot be educated in my
country," he said.

Julia, a mother of two who crossed into South Africa illegally on
March 25, said she came to Cape Town to avoid "violence" in Johannesburg,
but still lived in fear of being arrested for not having proper

"I've been here (at the refugee centre) almost every day and I still
don't have an appointment.

"I don't know what a kind of job I can get because I don't have the
right papers. But I feel safer here," she said.

Julia, who withheld her full name, left her children - aged three and
five - for a safer life in South Africa.

Her family was left destitute after the government closed down the
fruit and vegetable stand which was their main source of income.

She journeyed from Harare to the Limpopo River in a truck along with
four other people. After being dropped several kilometres from the river,
the group began their journey across the border.

She now lives in Khayelitsha.

Former Movement for Democratic Change activist Lucky once narrowly
escaped being deported in 2004 while living in Hilllbrow. He said it
appeared there was a smaller risk of deportation living in Cape Town.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Argus on April
04, 2007

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Sweden's Bildt discusses Zimbabwe with African ambassadors

The Raw Story

dpa German Press
      Published: Wednesday April 4, 2007

Stockholm- Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on Wednesday
criticized developments in Zimbabwe during a meeting with several
African ambassadors based in Stockholm.
"I want to develop good ties between the European Union and the
African Union, but currently we have a situation in Zimbabwe that
risks creating big problems for the larger dialogue we need," Bildt
told Swedish radio news after the meeting.

Bildt said that the "political events in Zimbabwe create enormous
problems for the economic and social development" in the southern
African state, noting the record-high inflation and drop in life

The Swedish foreign minister said that he believed that
neighbouring states were losing patience with Zimbabwe's President
Robert Mugabe, although they do not express that openly.

"My impression is that the neighbouring countries are more and
more troubled and realize that if they don't take their
responsibility this will affect Africa's chances of for instance
developing cooperation with the European Union, which they are keen
to do," he said.

Bildt said that the 27-nation EU was also mulling imposing more
travel bans against key individuals in Zimbabwe who have been
"involved in what we consider to be violations."

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency

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Zim university dining hall damaged in fire

Zambia News Agency -

Harare, April 4, 2007, ZANIS------The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) students'
dinning hall was gutted by fire on Tuesday night in what is suspected could
have been a petrol bombing. Several windowpanes of the New Complex 5 dining
hall were shattered and the roof of the hall partially curved in. A check by
Zimbabwe's national News Agency, New Ziana visited the dinning hall
yesterday and students who were mingling around the hall and security guards
said the fire started at about midnight. Zimbabwe's Police spokesperson,
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, confirmed the incident saying that
investigations into the cause of the fire were underway. He said the value
of the property damaged in the fire was still being assessed, adding that
they had not received any reports of injuries. The UZ director of
information and public relations, Taurwi Mabeza, told New Ziana that the
dining hall had been extensively damaged, adding he could not comment
further for fear of interfering with ongoing police investigations. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change has been terrorising the public
through petrol bombing various government institutions, including a National
Railways of Zimbabwe train, police stations and recently, a supermarket, in
its campaign to discredit the government and cause alarm and despondency
among members of the public. ZANIS/New Ziana/ENDS

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Mugabe Pressures MDC Prior to Talks

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Continued violence may be attempt to bring opposition to heel in advance of
planned peace negotiations.

By Nkosinathi Ndlovu in Bulawayo (AR No. 107, 4-Apr-07)

Security force intimidation and brutality continues unabated, despite
proposed peace negotiations between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, MDC.

Some believe the violence is an attempt by President Robert Mugabe to soften
up his rivals prior to the talks, which are to be brokered by South African
president Thabo Mbeki

The climate of intimidation led to the failure of the two-day general strike
organised this week by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, ZCTU, to
garner widespread support, say observers.

The ZCTU demanded a ten-fold increase in the industrial minimum wage to at
least one million Zimbabwe dollars a month (about 60 US dollars). It also
wants Mugabe's government to address the seven-year economic crisis that has
manifested itself in the highest inflation rate in the world, massive
joblessness and poverty.

There was a heavy police presence in most of Harare's densely-populated
suburbs this week and reports of police brutality in recent weeks
undoubtedly weakened the resolve of workers to support the strike.

"Images of [Nelson] Chamisa (the MDC spokesperson), Morgan Tsvangirai, Grace
Kwinjeh, Sekai Holland and other MDC activists arrested recently are still
fresh in people's minds. Mugabe has succeeded in intimidating people and
this is why we have a cowed population unwilling to participate in any mass
action despite the hardships," said Highfield resident Jonathan Ncube.

Savage beatings by police of MDC officials abducted from their homes and
party offices last week led a Harare magistrate to refer them for medical
treatment. Two of the men, MDC national executive member Ian Makone and an
activist, Shame Wakatama, were apparently unable to stand on their own.

This followed the widely condemned brutal attacks on MDC leaders while in
police custody on March 11 for attending what the government deemed a banned

The attacks prompted the convening of an emergency meeting of the Southern
African Development Community, SADC, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to discuss
the deteriorating security situation in Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, DRC, and recent elections in Lesotho.

Commenting on last week's attacks on members of his party, MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai said, "They were brutalised. They are in bad shape but in high

Police claimed those arrested were linked to a spate of alleged petrol
bombings, which they blame on MDC supporters "bent on illegal regime change".
The MDC has denied the allegations.

One political analyst said the rise in repression was not the action of an
aimless dictator but a strategy meant to intimidate opponents and
demonstrate that the security agencies, contrary to opposition claims that
there have been rumblings of dissent in their ranks, were still prepared to
take his orders.

"We may yet see more repression in the weeks or months ahead before the
proposed peace talks that SADC has mandated South African president Thabo
Mbeki to broker between ZANU-PF and the MDC," said the analyst.

"It (negotiate) is something Mugabe hates doing but he cannot continue to
defy world opinion and regional leaders about the terrible economic and
worsening political situation in the country."

The analyst said the attacks on the opposition, and in particular its
leadership, were meant to break its spirits before the negotiations.

"They must submit to his will, even to humiliating terms [for negotiations].
Mugabe cannot endure meeting Tsvangirai on equal terms," he said. "What
Mugabe wants is to set the terms of the negotiations and to do that he must
show that he is still in charge."

The analyst gave the example of the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo against
whose party, PF- ZAPU, Mugabe launched a bloody military campaign in the
early 1980s before swallowing it in the much-derided Unity Accord of
December 22, 1987.

That campaign left 20,000 innocent civilians dead after Mugabe openly
declared that the army did not distinguish between ordinary people and
dissidents. Up until now, he has used the same crude language against those
opposed to his rule, saying recently that they will be "bashed".

Tsvangirai said the proposed talks between his party and ZANU-PF offered the
country a "last chance". At the same time, his secretary-general Tendai Biti
said while the MDC trusted Mbeki as a broker it had no faith in Mugabe.

"The proposed dialogue might offer Zimbabwe one last chance, "said
Tsvangirai. "Such dialogue is as necessary as it is long overdue, but .
cannot take place under conditions of thuggery and violence against the

Tsvangirai said dialogue, a new constitution, an overhaul of electoral laws
and free and fair elections were the only solutions to Zimbabwe's problems.

Since 2000, Mbeki has failed to bring the two warring parties to the
negotiation table because Mugabe has rejected any preconditions. Analysts,
however, see a better chance now that Mbeki has been sent by SADC to speak
on its behalf. They also suggest that Mbeki wants another feather in his cap
to add to those he earned for brokering peace in the DRC and Rwanda, before
his term ends in 2009.

Mbeki has also warned the West and the MDC against setting conditions for
the talks, saying this might jeopardise the regional initiative. He has
said, however, that so far he has received no complaints from either ZANU-PF
or the MDC about his new role to broker talks between them.

Zimbabwe has been in the grip of a political crisis since Mugabe's disputed
re-election in 2002 and the alleged rigging of the parliamentary polls two
years earlier.

Nkosinathi Ndlovu is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.

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MDC urges SADC to pressure Mugabe to introduce reforms

By Tichaona Sibanda
4 April 2007

The MDC said on Wednesday the Southern African Development Community should
ratchet up pressure on Robert Mugabe to allow free and fair elections in
Zimbabwe next year.

For the first time ever the SADC bloc was able to convene a special meeting
to discuss the deteriorating situation in the country, which has been hailed
as significant by political analysts. Now the MDC wants the SADC leaders to
push for more to resolve the crisis.

Roy Bennett, the party's spokesman in Johannesburg, South Africa said
contrary to views held by Zanu (PF), his party was not being difficult in
demanding the repealing of laws like AIPPA and POSA before elections can be
held. He said SADC norms on elections stipulate that free and fair elections
mean not only an independent electoral commission, but also freedom of
assembly, absence of physical harassment by the police or any other entity.

'It also calls for freedom of the press, equal access to national radio and
television and external and credible observation of the whole electoral
process. But what we have now are political killings, beatings and violence
against the opposition. Which country in SADC today can have elections in
this state apart from Zimbabwe?' asked Bennett.

He said the MDC is not demanding, but asking for a process that ensures free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe. He said the laws were set by SADC and, as a
member state, Robert Mugabe should ensure Zimbabwe adheres to the laid out
principles in the conduct of free and fair elections.

SADC principles in the conduct of democratic elections call for the full
participation of the citizens in the political process, freedom of
association, political tolerance and equal opportunity for all political
parties to access the state media.

'What we are saying is let's go to an election with a new people driven
constitution that will also allow Zimbabweans living outside to have a say
in their country's political process. So these are not MDC but SADC rules,'
said Bennett.

Bennett said Mbeki who has already acknowledged the need to speed up the
facilitation process in order to ensure free and fair elections next year is
believed to be worried that any signs of electoral fraud will ignite a civil
strife that will have serious repercussions in his country.

'South Africa is hosting the 2010 World cup and any problems from next year's
elections will spill over to that country and jeopardise the football
tournament. The fact that Mbeki on Monday said the situation in Zimbabwe is
a matter that all people should approach with great seriousness is also a
signal that he doesn't want to fail this time,' said Bennett.

A two-man delegation from the South African government met with opposition
leaders from Zimbabwe two weeks ago before Mbeki held discussions with
Mugabe on the sidelines of the SADC extra-ordinary meeting in Dar es Salaam.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mbeki setting up for failure?

Daily News, SA


April 04, 2007 Edition 1

Armed with a mandate from the Southern African Development Community to
mediate in the resolution of Zimbabwe's political and social problems,
President Thabo Mbeki has taken on a task that could mark him as the man who
changed the course of Africa's history, or the man who dither-ed while the
sub-continent started its slide into decay.

So far, the perception is that Mbeki has failed with his policy of "quiet
diplomacy" and his previous attempt to talk some sense into the obdurate
Robert Mugabe was a dismal failure when Mugabe, it seems, reneged on his
undertaking to hold talks with the opposition MDC with a view to some sort
of shared power until a free and fair election could be held.

The MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai, presently in South Africa recovering from a
severe beating at the hands of Mugabe's police, has appealed to Mbeki to
urgently help the suffering millions in Zimbabwe, where there are severe
food shortages, a rapidly crumbling infrastructure and the world's fastest
inflation rate.

Mbeki is adamant that Mugabe will peacefully give up power, possibly before
next year's presidential election, but the rest of the world is hardly
holding its breath. Mugabe is using all his wiles to manipulate another
term. Whatever assurances he may give Mbeki, he will do only what is good
for Mugabe and his corrupt henchmen.

Mbeki has said that Zimbabwe needs to be brought to a position where
elections are genuinely free and fair. If he is aiming at next year's
presidential election, he has not left himself much time.

There needs to be concrete agreement - with concomitant sanctions - for a
new constitution that will scrap undemocratic legislation that now
suppresses free political activity; the media must be allowed to operate
freely; a truly independent electoral commission must be put in place and
among other things, the security forces must become impartial instead of
arresting and beating up opposition leaders.

Unless Mbeki and the SADC have the courage to put a big boot firmly down,
any hope of a new political dispensation seems to be doomed to failure.

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Both sides claim victory over stayaway

04 Apr 2007 17:26:37 GMT
Source: IRIN

 HARARE, 4 April 2007 (IRIN) - HARARE, 4 April 2007 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwe's
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has declared its two-day job stayaway to
protest deteriorating standards of living a "major success", but by midday
on Wednesday shops and banks had begun to reopen.

"The workers heeded the call to stayaway while some companies contributed by
shutting down although we are aware that some of them were forced to open
their business premises by security officials," said ZCTU information
officer Last Tarabuka.

Hundreds of mini-bus taxi operators parked their vehicles on Tuesday, the
first day of the stayaway, claiming they feared they would be attacked by
union activists, especially in the townships. Some did so in solidarity with
the protest, called to register anger over an economic meltdown that has
pushed inflation to 1,700 percent.

But government-owned buses were running on Wednesday, as were selected
transporters able to access highly-subsidised fuel. Banks in the Central
Business District (CBD) and department stores also opened for business.

The president of the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ), Johnson
Manyakara, told IRIN it was too early to make an accurate assessment of the
impact of the two-day strike.

"It is difficult to assess fully because based on where I work, I would say
there was very little impact because there was 98 percent attendance. You
will appreciate that I don't have the full information on the entire
business sector."

Another senior EMCOZ official said employers in the heavy industrial areas
were the hardest hit. "Yes maybe banks and other businesses in the CBD were
not that hard hit, but in the industrial areas, we had some factories
closing because many workers did not turn up for work. Others simply
legitimately asked for days off, which they were granted."

Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu described the two-day stayaway a
"flop". He accused the ZCTU of declaring a strike for political interests
rather than out of economic concerns.

"The people of Zimbabwe have responded by giving the regime-change agenda a
cold shoulder. The workers ignored the ZCTU-orchestrated stayaway sponsored
by hostile Western governments led by Britain and the USA and reported for
work. The police and the army ensured that there was adequate security
around the country," he told IRIN.

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