Delay in announcing results does not auger well for democracy - ANC
April 09, 2008 Edition 2
SIPHO KHUMALO, Sapa-DPA, AFP, Reuters
DURBAN: ANC president Jacob Zuma, in comments that are in stark contrast to
President Thabo Mbeki's statement on the Zimbabwean elections, says it is
unfortunate that more than a week has passed without that country releasing
its presidential results.
Meanwhile, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Zimbabwean
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) demanded in a joint statement that the
results be announced.
Interviewed yesterday, Zuma said he did not think the delay augured well for
democracy in Africa.
His view differs from that of Mbeki, who told journalists in London at the
weekend that the situation in Zimbabwe was "manageable" and that Africans
should be given space to deal with situations on the continent.
"I think the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should have announced results by
now, Zuma said.
"It is not a good thing to keep the nation in suspense. Now the Zimbabwean
elections have become an international issue. We all expected that once the
elections were finished, results would be announced. Now there are
suspicions from the people."
Zuma confirmed that he had met Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, but declined to disclose details of their meeting.
"It was a confidential meeting and I am not at liberty to reveal its
content," said Zuma.
Wellington Chibebe, general secretary of the ZCTU, said: "If there is a
clear winner, that winner must form a government. If there is no winner, the
election must be re-run, with an increased number of international and local
The ZCTU said during a press briefing in Braamfontein that it and other
civil society formations were under "intense pressure" to initiate protests
in the face of the refusal of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to announce
the presidential election results.
The union federation said it was aware that such protests might be what
President Robert Mugabe was praying for because it would give him an excuse
to declare a state of emergency and rule by decree.
"For that reason, we are urging all our members to remain calm."
Asked about Mbeki's view that the situation was manageable in Zimbabwe,
Chibebe said he thought the statement was rather unfortunate.
"People have suffered enough, we want everyone else to compel the electoral
commission to announce the results," he said.
Meanwhile, the country's Commercial Farmers' Union said yesterday that
militiamen loyal to Mugabe had driven around 60 farmers, one of them a black
commercial farmer, from their land.
"They said (the black farmer) had voted for the opposition," farmers' union
president Trevor Gifford said.
Workers' homes on the man's farm had been burnt.
"By the weekend we expect hundreds will have been evicted."
Gifford said farmers were made to leave their farms with only the clothes
they were wearing.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has raised the possibility
of sending EU election observers to Zimbabwe if a second-round presidential
vote takes place.
"It is true that a mission of observation of the second round could be very
important. It would be a mixed EU-African Union (mission), or separate -
we'll see," he said.
Harare refused to allow European or US observers into the country for the
presidential and other elections last month.
Solana said AU leaders were concerned that they had been unable to contact
He said he had spoken on Monday to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the
AU's president, and his "big concern" was that the African leaders "have not
been able to be in contact with President Mugabe".
"All the efforts that have been made have been a failure," Solana told the
European Parliament's foreign affairs committee in Brussels.
Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza said his country was willing to
accommodate refugees from Zimbabwe in the event of post-election violence.
Speaking at an event in Maputo marking Women's Day, Guebuza said he was
willing to accept refugees from Zimbabwe.
"We are thinking of the good of the people of Zimbabwe," he said in response
to questions about the possibility of an influx of refugees if violence
09 April 2008
Dumisani Muleya and Karima Brown
ZIMBABWE’s main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
is expected to meet President Thabo Mbeki soon to tackle the deadlock caused
by authorities’ refusal to release the results of the recent presidential
The meeting will mark the first overt involvement by
Mbeki in resolving the crisis.
It comes in the wake of criticism by the Congress of
South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) of Mbeki’s comments last weekend, when he described the
“situation so far” as “manageable” and called for a wait-and-see approach to
the election results.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) claims the delay is a ploy by President Robert Mugabe to “rig” the
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said yesterday
Tsvangirai was to meet Mbeki soon. He confirmed that Tsvangirai had met
African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma and Local Government
Minister Sydney Mufamadi on Monday.
Mufamadi was Mbeki’s facilitator in the failed talks
between Zanu (PF) and the MDC, which were meant to create conditions for
free and fair elections.
Sources said Tsvangirai spoke to Mbeki last week by
telephone about the elections crisis.
Biti said African states, including SA, should
intervene in Zimbabwe to prevent bloodshed.
He said Mugabe was inciting violence as a pretext
for declaring a state of emergency and clinging to power.
The plea was made as the Harare High Court ruled
that it would treat the MDC application for the immediate release of results
as urgent. Hearings in the case began yesterday.
Mugabe has ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) to stop the release of the results, and demanded a recount of ballots.
The ruling Zanu (PF) has also demanded a recount in
16 parliamentary constituencies.
Five ZEC officials have been arrested for allegedly
short-changing Mugabe of 4 993 votes.
This heightened fears that Mugabe had actually lost
the poll by a wide margin and is scrounging for every vote to bridge the
Tsvangirai claims he has won, while Zanu (PF) says
this is “wishful thinking”.
“I say to my brothers and sisters across the
continent — don’t wait for dead bodies in the streets of Harare. There is a
constitutional and legal crisis in Zimbabwe," Biti told a news conference
“MDC people are being beaten up and farms with a few
remaining pockets of white people are being invaded. Farms with known MDC
supporters are being invaded," Biti said.
“Militias are being rearmed, The long and short of
it is that there has been a complete militarisation of Zimbabwean society.”
In Johannesburg yesterday, the ZCTU and Cosatu
demanded that the election results be announced immediately. They also
called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to break
diplomatic relations with the Mugabe government.
“If there is a winner that winner must form a
government. If there is no winner the election must be rerun, with an
increased number of international and local observers,” the
secretary-general of the ZCTU, Wellington Chebebu, said.
Asked if the ZCTU would accept the eventual outcome,
Chebebu said the Zimbabwean people “have spoken” and that people knew who
the winners were.
“The Zimbabwean people did not sign a marriage
contract with President Mugabe, his right to rule is not God given. What we
have is a government who is ignoring the will of its people,” he said.
Zanu (PF) and MDC party monitors were allowed inside
counting stations and had signed off on the process, which is why results
were posted outside polling stations soon after the counting was concluded.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the
federation would “interact” with its alliance partners — the ANC and the
South African Communist Party (SACP) — to condemn Mugabe.
“In our view a public message must be communicated
to President Mugabe that the current situation is unacceptable. It is
disgusting and cannot go on like that,” he said, adding that SADC could not
continue to have “normal diplomatic relations” with Mugabe and called for
him to be isolated.
The labour federations said they were preparing
themselves for three scenarios.
These were: a “winner is declared”, who would form a
new government and begin a process of national unity; a runoff election
between the two presidential candidates; and the third and worst would be
that Mugabe ended up “ruling by decree”, which would be tantamount to a
April 09, 2008, 05:00
South Africa has dismissed calls that the United Nation (UN) Security
Council should intervene in the electoral crisis in Zimbabwe. South Africa
is the President of the all powerful Council this month.
Its dismissal comes as the international outcry and criticism increases for
the Zimbabwean government to release the presidential election results. Ten
days have gone past since the Zimbabweans went to the polls. But along with
the rest of the world, they are still anxiously waiting for the presidential
election results. The global pressure is beginning to mount now on the
Zimbabwean authorities to let its citizens and the world know the outcome of
the presidential electoral contest.
With fears of the highly tense political situation exploding into violence
in Zimbabwe, there are calls for the UN Security Council to make a
precautionary intervention in that country. But South Africa says there is
no need for that. The UN Secretariat has asked the people of Zimbabwe to
exercise restraint and calm and to use legal means to address their
MDC warns of violence
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has accused President Robert Mugabe of orchestrating a campaign of violence.
The MDC is now appealing to African leaders to intervene in the country's
The Zimbabwe High Court in Harare will today continue hearing an urgent
petition by the MDC to have the presidential results announced. Judge Tendai
Uchena adjourned the case late yesterday, citing concentration lapses.
by Godfrey Marawanyika 2 hours, 37 minutes ago
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition stepped up pleas for foreign help ahead
of a second day of court hearings Wednesday that could force the publication
of long-awaited presidential election results.
Eleven days on from the poll, President Robert Mugabe's grip on power showed
no signs of weakening despite mounting international pressure for the
release of results the opposition says should mean the end of his 28-year
The good news for opposition leader and self-proclaimed victor Morgan
Tsvangirai is that a judge has started hearing the case, the bad news is the
legal wrangling could drag on for days.
Even if Justice Tendai Ucheni orders the election commission to immediately
publish the outcome there is no guarantee it will and Mugabe's ruling
ZANU-PF has pre-empted events by calling for a total recount.
The opposition, which gained control of parliament for the first time in the
March 29 polls, accuses Mugabe of stalling for time while he mobilises
militias to intimidate people into voting for him in a possible second-round
There is no sign of this on the ground, although a farmers union said
Tuesday that Mugabe supporters had driven 60 white farmers off their land
since the weekend, when the president spoke out on the emotive land issue.
The number two of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) appealed
Tuesday for greater support from African heads of state and warned of
Drawing a parallel to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which some 800,000
people lost their lives, Tendai Biti urged institutions such as the African
Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to take a clear
stand as he reiterated party claims that pro-government militias were being
"We (Africa) responded poorly in Rwanda and a million people were killed,"
Biti told a press conference.
"I say don't wait for dead bodies on the streets of Harare. Intervene now.
There's a constitutional and legal crisis in Zimbabwe."
In a bid to force an end to the presidential results delay, the MDC has been
trying to persuade the high court to order the electoral commission to
release them forthwith.
A high court judge agreed on Tuesday to consider the MDC's case urgently but
the hearing was held over until Wednesday, when it was due to reopen at 0800
ZANU-PF has already endorsed the 84-year-old Mugabe for a run-off, which
should be held on April 19 if the official results show that none of the
candidates achieved more than 50 percent of the vote.
Mugabe, viewed by many in the region as a hero for his role in winning
independence from Britain in 1980, has presided over a staggering decline in
Zimbabwe's economy and is accused of numerous human rights abuses.
Once the breadbasket of southern Africa, the country is now facing six-digit
inflation and an unemployment rate of 80 percent. Even basics such as bread
and cooking oil are in short supply.
Los Angeles Times
Attacks are occurring in rural areas where foes of Mugabe scored upset
parliamentary victories. The goal appears to be intimidation ahead of any
From a Times Staff Writer
7:25 PM PDT, April 8, 2008
HARARE, ZIMBABWE -- The mob materialized quietly in the fading dusk light.
There were 50 youths hurrying along, armed with sticks, rawhide whips and
knives. It was Sunday night, just over a week after Zimbabwe's disputed
national elections, and even before the shouting began, John Saramu knew
what was going to happen.
He felt it in the knot of fear in his stomach.
"They just appeared on the corner. In my heart I felt afraid. I saw them
very close to me," said Saramu, an activist for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change in a farming district outside the town of Mutare.
"They came into my house. They were shouting, 'We want to kill you!' They
were saying, 'We want to go around and find all the MDC supporters one by
one, and we want them to get out.' "
Saramu, 39, said he was beaten for two hours by members of a gang that was
pro-President Robert Mugabe, and that his house was ransacked before he
managed to get away. He was badly cut in his right leg and left hand.
"I escaped by a whisker. I don't even know how I did it," he said. The
assailants stole cash and a list of MDC members, which could be used to find
and terrorize other opponents.
Saramu and about 50 other activists near Mutare in Manicaland province were
hunted down in their homes, said Misheck Kagurabadza, the area's MDC
parliamentary candidate, who defeated his foe from the ruling ZANU-PF party
in the recent election. Intimidation of opposition activists is occurring --
outside the limelight -- in rural areas of Zimbabwe that have traditionally
been ruling party strongholds but where the MDC scored upset parliamentary
victories. One activist has been killed. The fear tactics are viewed both as
political retribution and as an attempt to scare opposition supporters from
backing the MDC in a possible presidential runoff, allowing the 84-year-old
Mugabe to hold on to power. Thus far, many believe the heavy-handed tactics
MDC spokesman Shadrick Vengesai said hundreds of opposition activists and
supporters had been arrested, beaten or displaced in Zimbabwe since the
March 29 elections, for which the presidential results have yet to be
released by the Electoral Commission. The parliamentary outcome has been
announced, and Mugabe's ZANU-PF, for the first time in the nation's 28
years, has lost control of the legislative body.
The opposition insists its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the
presidential vote outright, and it fears spiraling violence if election
officials decide a runoff is needed. The ruling party, which controls
appointments to the Electoral Commission, says no candidate won the required
50%-plus-one majority to avoid a runoff."We don't want a second round,"
Saramu said. "It's not very safe for us."
"It's very tense," Kagurabadza said. "Gangs of ZANU-PF militias are
patrolling at night and even during the day. They go into the areas where
they know there are MDC supporters. They are preparing for the runoff. They
will cow people so they don't vote MDC."
He said he feared the same thugs would surround polling booths on election
day and take down the names of people who voted in an attempt to frighten
them, as happened in 2000 and 2002.
As the days drag on without official presidential results, Zimbabweans have
gone back to the grind of scraping a living in a country with 100,000%
inflation and severe shortages of food and other basics. Voluntary road
crews fill in potholes, money dealers wait on street corners and women sell
vegetables to raise money for food.
In the capital, Harare, vans with helmeted riot police crawled through the
streets Tuesday, arresting female money dealers for illegal street trading.
Some opposition activists have been beaten in pro-MDC neighborhoods near the
In rural areas, where MDC supporters are isolated and vulnerable, gangs of
unemployed thugs have proved easy to unleash.
Though the ruling party won in Mutoko village in Mashonaland East, party
supporters, armed with AK-47s and pistols, forced people in the village
center to attend an impromptu meeting Sunday morning, witnesses said.
"They stopped people and said they were hunting for MDC activists and they
wanted to kill people. They had guns, which they showed us," said Knowledge
Maponda, 26, an MDC supporter but not an activist. Even nurses and patients
from a nearby clinic were forced to attend, he said.
"They said: 'We are going into a runoff, so you need to vote for the
presidential candidate of ZANU-PF. We are not going to tolerate any
nonsense. We are going to kill if you vote for the MDC. We are watching you
"None of us said we were MDC supporters. We were afraid of being killed,"
As the meeting went on, MDC campaign manager Kuratidza Sandati hid in his
home. When they came for him a short while later, his 12-year-old son
"They came and knocked and were told I had gone to the shops. They went to
the shops, where they ordered all the doors closed. They were drunk and they
were showing everyone their guns, big ones with chains of bullets."
Sandati, 39, fled to Harare and reported the incidents to MDC headquarters.
Despite the danger, he says he plans to return home.
"I can't go there safely," he said. "Now I am very afraid. If I go there, my
life is in danger. They want to eliminate some of us. But if I am absent it
means there will be more and more threats to our followers. If they don't
see us, the MDC is dead there. They're trying to kill our following."
Maponda said he doubted people would turn out to vote for the opposition in
"Now people are afraid. If the runoff happens, everyone is going to vote for
the party they do not like," he said.
In Landas, also in Mashonaland East, dozens of ZANU-PF youths have been
parading in the streets, singing songs and beating up street traders.
"All the people fear those guys. Some people run away because they know they
can be beaten up," said local MDC activist Itai Bindu, 28.
He said the gangs were conducting door-to-door raids at night, dragging
opposition activists from their houses and beating them. About 20 people had
been beaten since the elections, he said.
Many activists think the chances of winning a runoff would be slim after
several more weeks or months of terror.
But Bindu believes that many people are so sick of the Mugabe regime, they
won't desert the opposition even in the face of violence.
"It's hardening MDC supporters. People are tired of this ZANU-PF. People are
saying, 'We can't change the results, we're now MDC people.' "
By Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan
Posted 4 hours 33 minutes ago
Zimbabwe Opposition supporters who claim they have been assaulted by
pro-Mugabe militants are being warned not to retaliate.
Human rights lawyer David Coltart, who has just been re-elected as an
Opposition Senator in Zimbabwe, says President Robert Mugabe is trying to
provoke his opponents.
David Coltart spoke to our Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan in
DAVID COLTART: I've had one report of so-called "Green Bombers" the ZANU-PF
Youth Brigade being deployed into a rural area close to Bulawayo where we
won and they are threatening people.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Is this a sign of things to come, do you think?
DAVID COLTART: It is quite clear that ZANU-PF are planning something. The
silence is ominous. I am reminded of the silence that accompanied the result
in 2000 when Mugabe lost the referendum on the land issue.
There was a period of seemingly inaction followed intensive violence. So
yes, we are very concerned this is a precursor to a violent campaign.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Ten days now since the election and still no result. What
is the Mugabe Government up to?
DAVID COLTART: It really is puzzling now because we have had the House of
Assembly and Senate results announced and although they took a long time,
there is no reason why the presidential results shouldn't have been
I am beginning to wonder whether the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission hasn't,
in fact, found a result in favour of Morgan Tsvangirai and that is why we
have got no result at all. Because there is this deafening silence and so
the silence would tend to indicate that they've actually lost.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: How would you describe the feelings of both yourself and
your supporters? Are you losing hope?
DAVID COLTART: I don't think that we are losing hope because we understand
that we have control of the House of Assembly. We share control of the
Senate. The momentum remains with the Opposition.
We clearly seeing ZANU-PF panicking. Trying to devise a strategy to wriggle
out of this one but I don't believe that there is any way out for them. So
whilst it is a nervous time, I think ultimately the Opposition must win.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: What can the Opposition now do?
DAVID COLTART: Well, the Opposition has to remain patient for a while
longer. It simply must not go to the streets in my view. That will play
right into the hands of Robert Mugabe.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Is that what he wants?
DAVID COLTART: I'm sure it is what he wants. He's boasted of having degrees
in violence. Violence is the area that he is comfortable with. That he has
the most experience in. We have to be patient. We have to go to the courts
and try to force this result out of the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission.
Once we've got that result, then we will know what to do. If it is a re-run,
well then we must prepare for that. If it is a victory, well, then we must
The Peninsula, Qatar
Web posted at: 4/9/2008 6:52:8
Source ::: AFP
BRUSSELS • European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana yesterday
raised the possibility of sending EU election observers if there is a second
round presidential vote in Zimbabwe.
“It is true that a mission of observation of the second round could be very
important, it would be a mixed EU-African Union (mission), or separate, we’ll
see,” he said.
Harare refused to allow European or US observers for the first round
presidential vote last month, though it did invite African observers.
Solana said that African Union (AU) leaders were concerned that they had
been unable to contact Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe recently.
He said he had spoken on Monday with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the
AU’s president, and that his “big concern” is that the African leaders “have
not been able to be in contact with President Mugabe.”
“All the efforts that have been made, have been a failure,” Solana told the
European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee in Brussels.
The EU foreign policy chief said that Tuesday was a very important day for
Zimbabwe. “We have to keep our eyes very open to see how the situation
evolves and in particular in the coming hours,” Solana said.
Zimbabwe’s high court yesterday gave the opposition the green light to
pursue a legal bid to force a declaration of the results of the country’s
presidential election, 10 days on from the March 29 poll.
While the high court held back from ordering the electoral commission to
immediately release the results of the March 29 poll — which the opposition
said its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won outright—Justice Tendai Uchena said he
would urgently consider the application.
Solana had lunch with African Union Commission chief Jean Ping who warned
here yesterday that soaring food prices represented a “major challenge” and
called on the international community to invest in the farming sector,
notably in Africa, the European Commission said in a statement.
The situation is particularly grave in Zimbabwe where the annual inflation
rate has soared to over 100,000 percent.
Mugabe, 84, is under enormous international pressure to allow the release of
the results after a flurry of statements from the EU, the White House, the
US State Department, and the United Nations.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, has
sought to stoke racial tensions and discredit the opposition as Western
puppets who would reverse his land reforms.
By Jane Fields
ROBERT Mugabe has unleashed a violent campaign to punish Zanu-PF supporters
who voted against him in last month's polls, the opposition claimed
Ruling party militias, used to cow voters into submission ahead of polls in
2000, have been reformed. They are terrorising villagers in remote rural
areas, according to Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). He said: "There has been massive violence inside
the country since (29 March]."
Details of the campaign are sketchy so far: rural areas are hard and
dangerous to reach while mobile phone coverage is mostly non-existent.
In Chimanimani East, the home of a newly-elected councillor was torched and
all his belongings burnt. There are reports of beatings in the Mutare North
constituency, where "two individuals are roaming around with a .303 rifle,"
the official said in a telephone interview.
"They are targeting what they see as their strongholds that voted against
them," he said.
"A lot of people are being arrested for celebrating."
Gangs of ruling-party supporters have also invaded at least 60 white farms
since the weekend, union officials say.
"The gangs are being transported, they're armed with sticks and machetes,
they're giving farmers anywhere between one hour and ten hours to leave,"
said Trevor Gifford, the president of the Commercial Farmers' Union.
"They're not allowed to take anything with them just the clothes on their
backs. We've had reports of meetings to decide who, when and how the next
farms will be invaded," he told The Scotsman.
Only about 450 white farmers remain. He said two farms belonging to black
farmers had also been seized.
Tensions have been rising following the failure of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) to announce the winner of the presidential poll. The
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, claims that he won outright with 50.3
per cent of the vote, but Mr Mugabe appears to be preparing for a run-off.
The MDC won a small victory yesterday when a high court judge ruled that the
party's appeal to force the ZEC to release the results of the presidential
polls was urgent.
The full article contains 362 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 08 April 2008 8:41 PM
EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL REPORT: INSIDE ZIMBABWE 165,000% INFLATION, EMPTY SHOPS,
NO POLL RESULT..
By Victoria Ward In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe 9/04/2008
There are so many potholes in Zimbabwe, joke the locals, that only drunks
drive in a straight line... Given that their country is in meltdown, it's a
wonder they can joke at all.
After all, what is happening in Zimbabwe is no laughing matter. The shops
are bare, there is no medicine, the infrastructure has crumbled, money is
worthless, inflation is up to 165,000 per cent and a brutal dictator is
refusing to accept defeat at the polls.
Yet the indomitable Zimbabweans' are refusing to let this crush their
They have hit rock bottom and are living in hell, but they believe that one
day soon things will get better.
They have voted for change, and change is what they need - to survive.
"When the new president comes in, life will be better," says 25-year-old
Patience Nkomo, reflecting the views of many people we meet in Zimbabwe.
"International bodies will help us, sanctions can be lifted, we will live
again. It will not be long, I am certain."
Her optimism is astounding given that she lives in a rundown, two-room hut
with 17 orphans, all surviving on grain and basic provisions.
Life might be tough, but they are all quietly confident that it is about to
Her sister Mqontisi, 32, adds: "The education system will be better, food
will be readily available, there will be medicines in the hospitals. We
don't know when it's coming, but it will be OK."
The rest of the world doesn't know when it's coming either.
Presidential elections were held more than a week ago and despite
overwhelming evidence that Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition party trounced the
ruling Zanu-PF party, headed by Robert Mugabe, the result has still not been
As time ticks by, Zimbabwe's desperation deepens.
The economy is already in crisis and the effects are tangible.
You just have to look at the empty shops.
Asked why they bother to open at all, butcher Tony Sequiera shrugs: "It's
simple. If we close, the government will take over. Why play into their
"We are clinging on, waiting for change. To close now would mean I have
Tony has leased his shop for eight months but he can't afford to stock it.
Price-fixing means that farmers can't afford to sell him their stock - they
would operate at a loss. And anyway, no one could afford to buy the meat.
"All I need is enough to keep open but the price of beef is too high," says
Tony. "It will just rot in the window.
"Every day is a gamble, no one knows what the mark-up will be.
There is no money, no disposable income at all. Even if there was, you
couldn't bank anything because the government just takes it."
Inflation is out of control so that the cost of everyday basics soars by the
hour. In just two days a packet of crackers in one shop shoots up by
Two years ago, things got so bad that computers simply could not cope with
the high denominations. The government's solution? To knock three zeros off
all the currency - an act that instantly devalued all savings.
"I had ZIM$97m in the bank," hotel worker George Moyo tells us. "The next
day I had ZIM$97,000. Everything I had worked for had been wiped out."
George produces a wad of ZIM$5,000 notes, roughly the size of a brick. "Get
hold of another few packets like that and you've got £1," he says with a wry
smile. "Things have deteriorated, we're back to where we were two years
In an attempt to cope, the government last week started printing ZIM$50m
notes. All of which is pretty meaningless to the average Zimbabwean.
"It's hard," sighs cleaner Makaita Ndlovu. "Nobody has any money.
Mugabe has wrung us dry. It is terrible, money is worthless. Prices change
within hours. You get paid and it's immediately useless."
Makaita has three teenagers, but to send one to university would cost her
ZIM$1.8billion a term - a ridiculous amount she has no hope of raising.
"If things carry on like this I will have to send one of them over the
border to work," she says.
Many people make regular trips across the border into South Africa, Botswana
or Zambia to buy supplies.
A round trip from Bulawayo can take 12 hours, but they have no choice.
Others use their proximity to the border to import fuel, cigarettes and
groceries to sell on the black market.
It has become the only viable way to trade. Things are so bad that police
often turn a blind eye to the illegal street vendors hawking cooking oil,
vegetables, rice and sugar from makeshift stalls outside the empty
But even here, there is a hefty mark-up for basics. "The prices are
exorbitant," says one seller. "But it's the survival of the fittest. If you
are caught, you have to hand over a bribe or you are arrested."
Although it is illegal to criticise the current president, Mugabe is openly
mocked. He has banned anyone talking about politics in groups of five or
more, but they are not deterred. Taxi driver Versi Sebanda says: "We all
speak the same language. We have one enemy. He will not beat us." As if to
prove a point, he shows us a joke that has been doing the rounds via text -
an ode to Mugabe in the style of the Lord's Prayer.
But get caught stepping out of line and you could end up in big trouble.
Just last week, 16-year-old market trader Simanzeni Ngwabi was locked up in
Bulawayo for allegedly describing Mugabe as "an old man with wrinkled skin".
She faces a lengthy prison sentence for that seemingly innocuous comment.
Such events have created a climate of fear.
"Yes, we are scared," admits Tony Sequiera. "They can detain us at any
minute. We feel threatened. People whisper, plain clothes police are
everywhere." For many, simply existing from day to day brings worries
Zimbabweans queue for up to five hours for one loaf of bread. The daily
lines snake round each block.
The people wait patiently in the searing heat, often with young children in
One by one, they disappear inside and emerge with a small white loaf.
They're the lucky ones. Many others go home Versi empty-handed - they are
too late, the shelves are bare again.
"We queue from 6am," explains Patience. "But at times there is nothing."
A staple food for the poorest Zimbabwean is mealie meal - bags of corn that
can be boiled up into porridge or stews. But for the past month, there has
been none available. You can only get it on the black market, at prices
which those who need it most simply can't afford.
They might be staring disaster and deprivation in the face, but the locals
display astonishing determination, dignity and resolve. And in contrast to
the government's silence, the country is buzzing with rumour and
From taxi drivers to businessmen, everyone is talking about when - not if -
their lives will change.
As the aptly-named Patience concludes with a smile: "Things can only get
Let' hope her own patience doesn't run out during the wait...
To close my empty shop would mean that I have surrendered
ZIMBABWE BY NUMBERS
10m number of Zimbabweans who are living below the poverty line.
34 the average life expectancy for women. For men it is 37.
5.1 the infant mortality rate for every 1,000 babies.
SOARING FOOD PRICES
Mealie 10kg ZIM$100million
Tea 250g ZIM$105m
Coke ltr ZIM$30m
Sugar 10kg ZIM$140m
Oil 2ltr ZIM$600m
Rice 2kg ZIM$300m
£1 = ZIM$60,883
By James Butty
09 April 2008
Zimbabwe’s High Court Tuesday told the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) to seek legal means to force the country’s electoral commission
to announce the March 29 presidential election results. The MDC had gone to
court to force the release of the results. But the electoral commission
argued that the courts have no jurisdiction over when the commission can
announce election results.
Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have called for a
vote recount and a possible run-off election even before the March 29
presidential election results are made known.
One candidate who could play a key role in the event of a run-off is former
finance minister Simba Makoni who came a distant third in the first round.
Denford Magora is spokesman for Makoni. He told VOA the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission has been acting illegally.
“The laws of this country say that five days after the close of polling,
results should be announced publicly. That hasn’t happen, and it is a
concern to everybody, including Dr. Makoni. The sooner people know where
they stand, the better. We know that the ruling party at the moment is
already claiming that we should go in a run-off because Morgan Tsvangirai
did not get 50 percent or more. In the event of a run-off, it will be
between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai,” he said.
Magora said in the event of a run-off election it would be highly unlikely
that Makoni would back Robert Mugabe. At the same he said it was not a done
deal that Makoni would support Tsvangira.
“You have to remember that Dr. Makoni came out of the ruling party and
announced to the world that this country was in crisis because there was a
failure of leadership within that party and within government. What that
means basically is that current president Mugabe has failed to lead the
country. That does not mean we will automatically throw our weight behind
his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. There will obviously be issues to be looked
at because Dr. Makoni did not join up with Morgan Tsvangirai for various
reasons,” Magora said.
He said the differences between Makoni and Tsvangirai had to do with
policies and their individual approaches to government.
“Some of these were highlighted in the newspaper that Dr. Makoni published
on the eve of the voting day itself. They have to do with approaches to the
economy, most importantly. In one of these articles he spoke about Morgan
Tsvangirai’s promises that he was just basically going to subsidize this
country out of trouble, giving free money to various entities within the
country, setting up compensation funds left right and center. He strongly
felt that that wasn’t the direction in which the country should go. Even if
donor money was to be available right after the election, that money should
channeled toward productive sectors of the economy as opposed to subsidies
to supporters and people who may have suffered in the past,” he said.
Magora said Makoni would also like guarantees from Tsvangirai concerning
Tsvangirai’s commitment to reform Zimbabwe’s current constitution
‘We would like to hear from the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai specifically
whether he is prepared as soon as possible within a very reasonable
timeframe to put together a constitutional conference, making sure that
there is input from all the key sectors in Zimbabwe into that constitution,”
He would not say whether there were talks going on currently between Makoni
and Tsvangirai regarding whether Makoni would support Tsvangirai in the
event of a run-off election.
“I can’t say that there are discussions going on. If there are any talks,
those talks are on the basis of defending whatever is left of democracy in
Zimbabwe, which is very threatened at the moment by the government, the way
it is behavior, the threats that it is issuing through the war veterans,” he
Magora rejected any suggestion that the failure of Makoni and the rest of
the opposition to unite might have been responsible for any talk of a
run-off election. He said Makoni and his supporters still believe Makoni is
the best man to lead Zimbabwe.
Posted 2 hours 24 minutes ago
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe could still redeem himself by stepping down
to ease tensions after elections that threatened his 28-year rule,
Archbishop Desmond Tutu says.
Archbishop Tutu, the South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate, urged
84-year-old Mr Mugabe to accept that he lost last month's presidential
Election results have yet to be released amid the potential of violence
between political parties and a blighted economy.
Food and fuel are in short supply in Zimbabwe while the country's inflation
rate is the world's worst at more than 100,000 per cent and unemployment is
above 80 per cent. Millions have fled the country, mostly to South Africa.
"They are tipping over the precipice," Archbishop Tutu told a small group of
reporters. "Violence is very much in the air."
"I would have hoped there would be a great deal more pressure, not just from
South Africa but from the international community," he continued. "On the
whole, African leadership has not done themselves proud on this one."
The Anglican archbishop said international peacekeeping troops may be needed
to help restore order in Zimbabwe and the country's economy could benefit
from a "mini-Marshall Plan" orchestrated by foreign governments.
The Marshall Plan was a US aid initiative to rebuild Europe's economy after
World War II.
Mr Mugabe led the fight against white-minority rule in the former Rhodesia.
But now his critics accuse him of reducing a once-prosperous nation to
Zimbabwe's Opposition says Mr Mugabe has unleashed a campaign of violence
since the elections, and has called on African states to intervene to
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he won
the March 29 vote.
Meanwhile, leader of South Africa's Governing African National Congress,
Jacob Zuma, has criticised the delay in publishing the presidential election
The MDC has launched a legal challenge against the time it has taken to
release the figures.
Mr Zuma says the country's electoral commission should not keep Zimbabwe and
the rest of the world in suspense.
"I think once people have cast their votes and have counted, whatever the
results are, the commission is supposed to announce the results," he said.
"I think keeping the nation in suspense, and as you know the Zimbabwean
issue has become an International issue, it's almost keeping the
International community in suspense. I don't think it all goes very well."
April 9, 2008
By washing its hands of Zimbabwe, Thatcher's government handed the country
to a tyrant
Sir, Lord Carrington states that “there can be no doubt that the election of
Mugabe in 1980 reflected the majority opinion in Zimbabwe” (comment, April
As someone who was directly involved in the election, I have to differ.
Mugabe’s warriors were at the polling stations, with loaded AK47s, bayonets
fixed, checking the ballot papers before the locals put them in the ballot
boxes, and British police had to stand and watch, helpless.
Who is going to put their X in the wrong place when confronted by armed men?
Reports were coming in to us at Joint Operations Centre Grapple confirming
that this was a widespread abuse, and yet the world insisted the election
was “free and fair”. It was a disgraceful abrogation of responsibility. The
expression “washing of hands” comes to mind, and I fear that nobody will
stand up to Mugabe this time around if he chooses to win this “free and
D. M. Hendry
Crowmarsh Gifford, Oxon
Sir, What Lord Carrington chooses not to mention is that Margaret Thatcher,
under pressure from him, chose to renege on her campaign promise to
recognise the administration of Bishop Abel Muzorewa if the election was
considered free and fair. Lord Boyd, Mrs Thatcher’s pointman at the time,
adjudged it thus but this was later ignored for commercial reasons; Nigeria,
among others, was threatening to cut commercial ties. Neither Mrs Thatcher
or Lord Carrington could find the gumption to honour their commitment. If
they had, history might well have turned out differently.
He is wrong when he says Nkomo and Mugabe were forbidden to take part in
that election; they were invited on condition they forsook violence. They
spurned the offer.
He glosses over the fact that the 1980 election was won under a climate of
fear induced by Mugabe. This was reported to both Carrington and Soames by
their own monitors but both brushed off the facts.
The misery and violence visited upon the people by the monster he so
cleverly created is indeed a result of Carrington’s perfidy and he must take
responsibility for it.
Cape, South Africa
Sir, Is it not extraordinary that both Robert Mugabe and his party received
substantial percentages, albeit not a majority, of the votes cast in the
elections in the face of incontrovertible evidence that Zimbabwe is ruined
and millions are destitute?
Sir, It is a simplification that ‘“the history of colonialism is a history
of humiliation, exploitation and degradation of native peoples” (letters,
April 8). A stronger criticism of their colonialism might be that it was the
way they quit their empire, not the way they gained it, that discredited the
The empire was destroyed by a liberal-minded Labour government, at the
behest of the US, for dubiously idealistic reasons. But the horrors that
followed British departure from such as Zimbabwe, Palestine, Uganda, and
India too, must still prick the conscience of any right-thinking, older
Particularly when we see how the totally amicable withdrawal of British rule
from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean and most recently from
Hong Kong was carried out.
Apr. 8, 2008
NOTE: Photographs, audio, video, a logo and related stories are available at
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)-Selling little yellow balls of "Cockroach Kill" used
to help the Rev. Kenneth Shamu put food on the table.
Now even income from that small business is gone because the soaring
inflation rate in Zimbabwe has made it impossible to buy the ingredients -
sugar, eggs and Borax.
Creative solutions have helped the Shamus survive since his retirement as a
United Methodist pastor in 1995. Shamu stopped receiving any pension funds
from the church in 2004. Even before they stopped, he was not receiving
enough to live on, he said.
Zimbabwe's political and economic situation only adds to the misery.
"The economy changes every two weeks," said the Rev. Lovemore Nyanungo, who
retired from active ministry after serving the church for 39 years.
The government of Zimbabwe sets the current inflation rate around 7,000
percent, but independent estimates put it at 13,000 percent or higher.
A liter of petrol costs Zim$12 million (US$3 on the parallel market), up
from Zim$6 million (US$1.60) late last year. It costs bus commuters Zim$3
million (just under a dollar) for an average trip - three times more than
they paid just before last Christmas.
It is reported that four out of five of the country's 12 million people live
below the poverty line and a quarter have fled, mainly to neighboring
"I really appreciate the help of the local church," Nyanungo said. But even
with that help, he still has to carefully consider how much he and his wife
spend and what activities they do. At times, he also must rely on help from
his five children or friends.
"I knew when I was an active pastor I would not get much when I retired," he
said. "I think retired pastors should continue to get paid the same as
active pastors or at least a percentage that would be a livable wage."
The United Methodist Church's General Conference, its largest legislative
body, has launched an effort called the Central Conference Pension
Initiative to ensure retirees and surviving spouses retire with dignity and
Pension is 'peanuts'
Though The United Methodist Church's greatest growth is in Africa, Eastern
Europe and the Philippines, pension funds are minimal or nonexistent for
pastors in those areas. Many of them have faithfully served for 20, 30, 40
or more years.
When retired Zimbabwe Bishop Abel T. Muzorewa thinks about the pension funds
for retired pastors, he said he is "filled with guilt."
"The pastors have nothing. It is peanuts; it is meaningless. It shouldn't
even be called a pension," he said. "Now that I am retired, I can't do much
about it but talk, talk, talk so others can change the situation."
A news team from United Methodist Communications and members of the
denomination's Board of Pension and Health Benefits visited Zimbabwe in 2005
to gain an understanding of the needs and the context for pensions in that
The Central Conference Pension Initiative is being carried out by five
church agencies: the Board of Pension and Health Benefits, the General
Council on Finance and Administration, the Board of Global Ministries, the
United Methodist Publishing House and United Methodist Communications. The
pension board projects that a $20 million endowment is needed to sustain the
central conference pension benefit fund.
"It would be a blessed venture, and I wish all those who have been enabled
by God to have some money in their pockets would pour money into the pension
fund for all of Africa," Muzorewa said.
In Zimbabwe, retired pastors and surviving spouses don't receive regular
pension support from the church. This year, an emergency grant of $68 was
provided through the initiative and the Board of Global Ministries. Zimbabwe
has 36 retirees and 34 surviving spouses.
Shamu is glad he took Muzorewa's advice years ago, when the bishop told him
to plan for the future. "He mentioned buying a house, and now that is what I
tell the pastors I meet," the retired pastor said. "If I didn't have a
house, I would be suffering more than I am today."
The Rev. Willis Makunkie had a hard time adjusting to retirement after being
a United Methodist pastor for 34 years.
"I had to come up with some ideas of things to do," he said. During his
years as a pastor, he served nine circuits and a six-year term as a district
superintendent. He still performs some church duties when asked, such as
weddings, funerals and baptisms.
Another hard adjustment for him and two of his neighbors, who are surviving
spouses of retired pastors, is the lack of any money from the church in
their retirement years.
"Sometimes I live on charity, money from family or friends," he explains. He
also tries to raise vegetables to eat, but the lack of water in his area of
Zimbabwe makes that difficult.
"If the church had something to help, I would appreciate it," he said. "But
if they have nothing, what can I do?"
Rosemary Chidzikwe, widow of a retired pastor, said she is not receiving any
pension from the church and hasn't for a long time. Her husband, the Rev.
Josiah Chidzikwe died in 1990. He was able to set aside a little money and
buy the house she lives in, she said. Some of their income came from a
maize-grinding mill they once operated for the community.
"It is difficult to survive," said Chidzikwe, who is not in good health.
"But I think the church has done their part." She gets help from a sister
who lives with her.
Martha Matongo, also a widow, said her husband died in 1970, but she doesn't
remember how many years he served before retirement.
"It is difficult, but I depend on God because he is one who gave us this
service," said Matongo who is also in poor health. "I am always ill, and I
have to walk with this stick," she said, waving it in the air.
She sometimes gets help from growing and selling yams, and her children help
when they can. She lives with her grandchildren who help her find water and
other things she needs.
"God is providing," she said.
Other retirees share that quiet faith. Shamu said that even though retired
pastors in Zimbabwe seem to be forgotten, he still has a deep love for the
"I was born in The United Methodist Church, and I have never joined any
other church. It means a lot to me. I am a Methodist until the end of my
More information on how to get involved is available by going to
www.ccpi-umc.org, writing to <mailto:email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org or
calling (847) 866-4230.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or
United Methodist News Service Photos and stories also available at:
Reuters in Harare
Wednesday April 9 2008
African states must intervene in Zimbabwe to prevent bloodshed, the
opposition said yesterday, accusing President Robert Mugabe of trying to
provoke violence as a pretext for a state of emergency.
"I say to my brothers and sisters across the continent - don't wait for dead
bodies in the streets of Harare. There is a constitutional and legal crisis
in Zimbabwe," Movement for Democratic Change Secretary-General Tendai Biti
told a news conference.
He said the ruling Zanu-PF had launched a violent campaign against
opposition supporters following a stalemate over March 29 elections.
The MDC's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, says he won the presidential vote and
should be declared president immediately, ending the 28-year rule of Mugabe,
whose critics accuse him of reducing a once prosperous nation to misery.
Zimbabwe has inflation of more than 100,000%, an unemployment rate above 80%
and chronic shortages of food and fuel. Millions have fled abroad, most of
them to South Africa.
Zanu-PF is pressing for a delay in issuing the presidential results pending
a recount and is also alleging abuses by electoral officials in an attempt
to overturn its first defeat in a parliamentary poll.
"There's been massive violence inside our country since March 29 2008 ...
MDC people are being beaten up ... farms with remaining pockets of white
people are being invaded. Farms with known MDC supporters are being
invaded," Biti said.
"Militias are being rearmed, Zanu-PF supporters are being rearmed ... There
has been a complete militarisation of Zimbabwean society since March 29
Earlier, a farmers' union said independence war veterans, used as political
shock troops by Mugabe, had evicted more than 60 mostly white farmers from
their land since the weekend.
"The situation is very severe. The evictions are continuing right round the
country. We have over 60 farmers evicted as of this morning. Every couple of
minutes my phone is ringing with another case of eviction," said Commercial
Farmers' Union President Trevor Gifford.
The veterans had forced them to leave their homes with only the clothes they
were wearing. Those evicted included at least one black farmer, Gifford told
Reuters. Police said they were not aware of the farm invasions.
The veterans have already spearheaded the eviction of most white farmers
under Mugabe's land reforms.
The MDC says Mugabe is delaying the presidential election result to give him
more time to prepare for a runoff against Tsvangirai, and has asked the high
court to force release of the outcome.
The court ruled yesterday that it would treat the opposition's application
as urgent and began hearing arguments in the case.
Legal proceedings are already in their fourth day and could drag on further.
Biti told reporters: "We are saying to our fellow Africans, in the African
Union and in SADC [Southern African Development Community] ... don't wait
for dead bodies ... intervene now."
Traders in neighbouring South Africa said the impasse was likely to weigh on
the rand currency, briefly boosted last week when there was speculation that
Mugabe would stand down after his party lost the parliamentary vote.
"Counting against the rand is the way in which the Zimbabwe elections are
rapidly deteriorating into a farce," said market analysts ETM.
Posted: 2008-04-08 23:58
Presenter: Erika van der Merwe Guest: Jerry Vilakazi
Summit TV speaks to Jerry Vilakazi from Business Unity South Africa
(Busa) about a just election outcome for the people of Zimbabwe and the
reconstruction of that country’s economy
ERIKA VAN DER MERWE: My guest this evening is Jerry Vilakazi who is
chief executive of Business Unity South Africa (Busa). Jerry, you are
concerned about South African businesses with representation in Zimbabwe -
how big is that interlocking between the South African and the Zimbabwean
economies from a business perspective?
JERRY VILAKAZI: The Zimbabwean economy is intertwined with the South
African economy. Firstly a number of South African companies do business in
Zimbabwe - also with a lot of commodities and products Zimbabwe gets its
supply from South Africa - but beside that you see the economy of the region
is intertwined in many respects. When foreign investors look at us as a
region they tend to look at us in relation to neighbouring countries, and
they see us as a regional block - therefore if anything goes wrong in one of
the countries in the region it has an impact on the rest of the countries in
ERIKA VAN DER MERWE: At the moment it’s almost as though Zimbabwe is
at a tipping point - it can either go very well, or very badly at the
moment - what is the mood from business people in Zimbabwe?
JERRY VILAKAZI: We are very concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe
at the moment. We believe it’s very important at this stage that in
particular the Sadc leadership comes forward and the Zimbabwean Electoral
Commission (ZEC) releases the results as a matter of urgency. It’s
unfortunate that the opposition party has had to now go to the High Court to
apply for the results to be released. We are all celebrating and hoping that
the election was free and fair - but an election is never done until you
release the results. Right now what we are hearing from the ground is that
tempers are very hot, we are hearing that the mood at the moment is one that’s
at a very sensitive stage - we can see that unless ZEC releases the results
as speedily as possible the situation may spin out of control. We are also
very concerned about the reports that are coming out about the police having
arrested some people there - we believe that all must act with restraint at
this stage so they don’t provoke unnecessary anger and violence in the
streets. It is important that the rule of law is respected at this stage -
but unless the ZEC releases the results as speedily as possible it must
accept responsibility as an independent electoral commission for anything
that may happen to the Zimbabweans right now.
ERIKA VAN DER MERWE: If we have a positive outcome soon what does that
mean for businesses? Will there be an immediate impact or influence for
JERRY VILAKAZI: I think this election was critical. Just before the
elections we were very concerned about the state of the economy in Zimbabwe,
and investor’s - not only South African business, but investors outside the
region - have been raising concerns about the state of the economy. That’s
an economy which has been running over 100,000% inflation - you can’t
sustain that sort of economy. We are aware of a lot of collapses in various
sectors. The agricultural sector - once one of the most productive sectors,
and a contributor to the Zimbabwean economy - has almost ground to a halt.
This election was an election of hope for the people of Zimbabwe - it was an
election for change in Zimbabwe. Even the ruling party itself if you
followed their message - there was a sense that there’s a need for change -
and we believe the people of Zimbabwe went out in numbers to vote for
change. The people of Zimbabwe deserve more at this stage - and business is
committed, and is watching that situation. “Business as usual” will come in
if there’s the right atmosphere. If the regulatory and political environment
promises economic stability we are certain that South African and other
businesses from outside the region will be ready to invest in Zimbabwe.
ERIKA VAN DER MERWE: But what do we know about Morgan Tsvangirai? Is
he the good guy? Will he bring such positive change?
JERRY VILAKAZI: If you look at the results that we’ve seen coming out
of Zimbabwe at the moment one message that’s very clear is that the people
of Zimbabwe want change - the people of Zimbabwe want reconstruction, they
want something new - however if you look at the results again you can see
that none of the parties have come out very strongly with huge margins that
indicate they can do it alone. We are hoping that if the opposition MDC do
get the nod of the people of Zimbabwe - as they have done with the
parliamentary election - that Tsvangirai will realise that he can not
construct Zimbabwe without bringing all the other parties together,
therefore we hope and what Zimbabwe requires at the moment is a government
of national unity where all the people of Zimbabwe and all the parties can
come together, and work together to ensure that there is a reconstruction of
Zimbabwe. It is not going to be an easy one - that economy has almost been
destroyed, and is completely run down as we speak. Reconstruction is going
to take a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment - and whoever wins will
have to recognise that.
International Herald Tribune
By Celia W. Dugger Published: April 9, 2008
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Ten days after Zimbabwe voted and by most
accounts rejected its long-serving, autocratic president, Robert Mugabe, the
mood of the country grew more ominous on Tuesday, with the opposition
reporting widespread attacks on its supporters, black youths driving white
farmers off their land and elections officials arrested for vote tampering.
As Mugabe sought to cling to power beyond his 28th year in office,
Zimbabwe's High Court began to weigh the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change's demand for the immediate release of the presidential election
results. They have still not been announced, but the opposition believes
they will give it victory.
With international pressure building on Mugabe's government to tell his
nation who won, the police, part of his apparatus of power, arrested five
election officials accused of tampering with the vote to the detriment of
Mugabe's tally, the state-run newspaper, The Herald, reported Tuesday.
The opposition party has pleaded for international intervention to resolve
Zimbabwe's political stalemate, and at a press conference in Harare on
Tuesday, Tendai Biti, its secretary general, protested what he called "the
deafening silence" from the African Union and a regional bloc of nations
known as the Southern African Development Community, the Associated Press
"I say to our brothers and sisters across the continent, don't wait for dead
bodies in the streets of Harare," he said.
Officials from human rights groups and trade union alliances said Tuesday
that the arrests of election officials appeared to be a tactic to intimidate
those counting the votes before the results have even been announced, while
the delay seemed designed to buy ZANU-PF, Mugabe's governing party, time to
figure out how to survive its defeat and perhaps to rig the outcome.
"The fear is they're going to try to force these officials to falsify
results in key constituencies where the votes might be enough to swing the
national election," said Patrick Craven, a spokesman for the Congress of
South African Trade Unions, which has almost 2 million members. COSATU
joined with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions on Tuesday to call for the
immediate release of the outcome.
Tomaz Salomao, executive secretary of the Southern African Development
Community, which helped monitor the Zimbabwean elections, said in a
telephone interview that he is worried where these developments could lead.
"We need to avoid a scenario like Kenya," said Salomao, referring to the
rioting and killing that engulfed the east African nation following its
recent elections. Salomao said he would fly to Harare on Wednesday.
The rising sense of foreboding about Zimbabwe grows out of ZANU-PF's past
use of violence for political ends. In 2000, after the defeat of a
referendum that would have given Mugabe greater powers, he blamed white
farmers. In the years since, he has sanctioned the seizure of thousands of
their farms, often by force. He said it was done to right the injustices of
the colonial era, which concentrated farmland in the hands of whites, but
much of the confiscated land was doled out as patronage to ZANU-PF's
In 2005, Mugabe's government demolished the homes of hundreds of thousands
of poor people in urban neighborhoods that were strongholds of the political
opposition. And last year, the police rounded up dozens of opposition
activists, including the MDC's current presidential candidate, Morgan
Tsvangirai, beating and arresting them.
The opposition said it is happening again in rural areas where there are no
witnesses but the victims themselves. Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the
Movement for Democratic Change, said on Tuesday that about 200 of its
polling agents, campaign workers and supporters have been arrested, beaten
or kidnapped since the election. ZANU-PF is organizing and arming youth
militias, he said.
"People are facing serious retributive attacks," he said.
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu denied the charges, telling the
Associated Press, "They are concocting things. It is peaceful."
Trevor Gifford, president of the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe, which
in the wake of Mugabe's land redistribution has seen the ranks of members
still farming drop to 500 from 4,600 in 2000, said groups of as many as 200
young men, organized and paid by ZANU-PF and chanting party slogans and
shouting anti-white epithets, have invaded 60 farms and driven out their
"It's ethnic cleansing happening," Gifford said in a phone interview. "We
can very quickly become extinct. People are losing their homes, businesses,
lives. It's really desperate."
The state-run newspaper, The Herald, reported Monday that Mugabe, speaking
at a funeral, had called on blacks to hold onto the land and never let the
whites reclaim it. The same story quoted Isaiah Muzanda, a veteran of
Zimbabwe's war for independence, warning of "strong action against
unrepentant white farmers who were preparing to repossess their previous
properties in anticipation of an MDC victory in the presidential poll."