"Mercenaries" accuse police of torture Sat 28 August, 2004
By Eric Onstad
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Two South African
men accused of plotting to overthrow the government of oil-rich Equatorial
Guinea say they have been stripped, beaten and threatened with electrical
shocks during six months detention in Zimbabwe.
Harry Carlse and
Lourens Horn, two of some 85 men in Africa who have been accused of plotting
a coup d'etat, said at a press conference on their arrival in Johannesburg
they expected to face charges at home under South Africa's anti-mercenary
The case has gained growing notoriety with the arrest in South
Africa of the wealthy son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
and the conviction of a former British special forces officer in Zimbabwe,
who is accused of being coup leader.
A Zimbabwe court on Friday
convicted former British special forces officer Simon Mann of attempting to
possess dangerous weapons, but acquitted most of the 69 other men including
Carlse and Horn, held in Harare's Chikurubi maximum security
"I was stripped naked and beaten with a stick... I slept in leg
irons for a week and a half," the 40-year-old Carlse said.
He said he
lost 14 kg (30.86 lb) in weight because of the abysmal prison conditions at
"There was physical torture as well as mental torture...They
said if we refused to make a statement they would give us electric shocks,"
said Horn, 30.
The two men said all inmates at the prison were
"All the prisoners are underfed...there's a lot of disease
there due to malnutrition," Carlse said.
The beatings and abuse lasted
for around three weeks until they were able to see lawyers, but living
conditions remained terrible, they said.
"You would go without (running)
water for two weeks so you couldn't flush the toilet for two weeks," Horn
said, adding they survived on a diet of porridge and cabbage.
They declined to answer questions about how they were
recruited for a mission which their lawyers have said was to guard mining
installations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mann and the South
Africans were arrested in March when the accused ringleader met a plane
carrying dozens of men and military equipment in Harare. Zimbabwean and
Equatorial Guinea officials said it was a step in a plot to overthrow
Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Guinea is trying 14 other foreign men it accuses of being an advance party
for those detained in Zimbabwe.
South Africa's FBI-style Scorpions unit
plans to charge all the men arrested in Zimbabwe when they return, the men's
lawyer said. Carlse and Horn agreed to meet the Scorpions on
"We also know for a fact the rest of the guys being detained in
Chikurubi will also stand trial in South Africa for contravening the Foreign
Military Assistance Act," lawyer Alwyn Griebenow told reporters.
act is part of the South African government's efforts to discourage companies
and individuals on its soil from planning, recruiting or gathering equipment
for mercenary activities.
Most of the other men pleaded guilty last month
to lesser charges of violating Zimbabwe's immigration and civil aviation
laws. Carlse and Horn had no other charges since they entered Zimbabwe
legally to meet the plane with Mann.
Sentencing is due on September 10
for the other men, including Mann, who is the scion of a wealthy British
brewing family and former pupil at Britain's elite Eton school.
think Simon is having a tough time...his wife is pregnant and due
next month," Carlse said.
Mann faces up to 10 years in prison for his
conviction, but Griebenow said he should not receive the full term since it
was merely an attempt to buy weapons.
Friday's verdict came just days
after South African police arrested Mann's acquaintance Mark Thatcher on
suspicion of involvement in financing the suspected plot. Thatcher denies the
accusations and is under house arrest at home in Cape Town.
The headline in today's Chronicle is "MDC are Cowards". The
Financial Gazette said, "MDC drops a bombshell". Just what did we do to earn
What we did on Tuesday this week was to say that now
that Zimbabwe has signed the protocols covering democratic elections in the
SADC region and that Mugabe himself was the one signing for Zimbabwe in front
of his colleagues - we now want that agreement implemented BEFORE we
will participate in any future elections. That sounds reasonable? The
protocols state the obvious - that a democratic process must, by definition,
provide for the basic human freedoms. That is freedom of association and
speech and equality before the law.
However even a casual reading of
the protocols shows how far short of this simple definition Zimbabwe falls
and how much work has to be done to bring our system into line with the now
accepted norms. So the MDC has, with immediate effect, suspended
participation in any future electoral process in Zimbabwe. This was done with
the full support of our civil society partners in the "Broad Alliance" and
after extensive consultation within our structures. In one incident on Sunday
a group of 20 traditional leaders in the Seki constituency (the subject of a
bi-election) advised the MDC to stay out of the process because it was so
In addition to this decision we took the decision to terminate
our participation in the charade that is called the Harare City Council. When
85 per cent of the people in Harare (our largest city with two
million inhabitants) voted for a MDC Council and Mayor in 2002, this posed a
huge challenge to Zanu PF. After a brief honeymoon, which did not even last
six months, the Mayor was suspended on spurious grounds and in the past
two years only 3 Council meetings have been held. A troika of the Minister
of Local Government, an acting Mayor (an MDC councilor who cannot read or
write but now defected to Zanu PF for a bribe), and the new
unconstitutional "Governor" of Harare has effectively usurped the role of the
democratically elected Council.
We have stated clearly that the
Minister must now either re-instate the democratically elected Council and
allow them the space to operate or hold fresh elections - and that any new
elections must be held under the SADC norms. The Residents Associations in
Harare have decided, in support of the MDC position, to promote a rates
boycott in the city and this could cripple the "troika's" ability to run the
No doubt we will see the emergence of new opposition
parties - sponsored by the CIO and that these will condemn the position of
the MDC. No doubt also the action will be labeled "a western plot" by the
spin-doctors of Zanu PF. The Chronicle headline shows how the State
controlled media will handle this to the public.
As part of the
background given to us in the National Executive of the MDC was a fascinating
and detailed account by Welshman Ncube on the informal talks which have been
going on as the Zimbabwe leg of the South African policy of quiet diplomacy.
It is clear that it has been this secret process which has keep regional
leaders and perhaps others in the wider sphere on the sidelines, thinking
that something may come out of the process. It certainly had the full backing
of South Africa and Thabo Mbeki was carefully briefed on a regular basis as
to what was going on.
For obvious reasons I cannot detail the content of
that briefing here - but can say that I was stunned by the breadth of the
talks and the detailed work that had gone into the talks over the past year
or more. However, what was equally shocking was the almost complete failure
by the Zanu side to come forward with any positive proposals of their own and
also the failure to exhibit any sign of a commitment to real democracy. In
the light of this MDC broke off these talks in July this year and it is now
further raising the stakes in advance of the March 2005 general
There are signs that the major western powers are also
tightening their positions and this is being translated into political
pressure on leading regional states to bring Mugabe to heel on this critical
issue. MDC is quite confident that in the event that a level playing field is
created here and the elections next year held under "free and fair"
conditions that we will win those elections by a wide margin. That is what
makes the Chronicle leader so laughable - it is not the MDC that are cowards,
it is Zanu PF - because they dare not take the steps required to bring the
electoral process here into line with the agreement they have just
In every sense - it is now over to the SADC leadership to ensure
that this reluctant creature called Zanu PF is driven towards the cattle dip.
What survives the dip, we are quite happy to live with, but a lot of fat
ticks will not survive the process and that is what they are terrified
An early indication of their intentions will be what they do with the
new legislation that is scheduled to be debated in the next sitting
of Parliament - the last in fact before the March 2005 general elections.
One new act in its draft form (I nearly said "daft") sets out how the State
now wishes to make it a crime to support good governance and give
humanitarian aid! It will seek to impose controls over the Church as well as
the hundreds of organisations that work amongst Aids victims, feed the hungry
and clothe the poor. It also seeks to close off the remaining space occupied
by those NGO's who support human and political rights.
If Zanu PF goes
ahead with this new draconian, fascist style legislation it will send a clear
signal to the rest of the world that they do not have the slightest intention
of fulfilling their new obligations under the SADC protocols. I trust
regional leaders will then know what to do next! Certainly, South Africa has
to rethink its position.
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 5:35 PM Subject: Lost their reason for
Dear Family and Friends, This week Zimbabwe's opposition
made a monumental decision. Their Executive announced that the MDC would not
be taking part in any more elections, at any level, in Zimbabwe. In a
carefully worded statement the opposition talked about "suspending
participation" until "political space had been opened up and a legal,
institutional and administrative framework had been established." In simple
English I suppose the MDC's statement means "we aren't going to play this
game any more until you stick to the rules."
Most Zimbabweans don't
know what the rules are anymore when it comes to elections because the
government have changed them so many times since they lost the constitutional
referendum in 2000. Speaking in a televised address to the nation after that
defeat in 2000 President Mugabe said the result was "unfortunate" and four
and a half years later I find myself reading his words with disbelief. He
said: "The world now knows Zimbabwe as that country where opposing views can
file so singly and so peacefully to and from the booth without incident. I
have every confidence that the forthcoming general elections will be just as
orderly, peaceful and dignified."
It is hard to believe what has
happened since President Mugabe made that speech 54 months ago. The daily
independent press has gone - closed down by the government. The constitution
has been changed allowing the state to seize private property. Private radio
and television stations have gone - banned by the government. Thousands of
born and bred Zimbabweans have been made stateless and stripped of their
right to vote. Legislation now exists making it a criminal offence to
criticise the President, a criminal offence to hold a political meeting
without police permission, even a criminal offence to sell maize to anyone
other than the state. When parliament re-opens in October, it is likely that
it will even be made a criminal offence to operate a charity in
At each and every election since 2000, Zimbabwe has turned into
a bloodied battle field. Belonging to the opposition has been a literally
life and death decision. Carrying an MDC membership card, wearing their T
shirt or being openly involved in their party in any way has incited the
wrath of government and its supporters. People have been beaten, burned,
stoned, tortured, raped, maimed and murdered. People's homes have been
torched by petrol bombs, looted by mobs and had every window, door and
roofing sheet smashed.
At every election in the past four and half
years the Zimbabwe government have changed the rules. They have changed
constituency boundaries at the last minute, reduced the number of polling
stations in congested areas and increased them in remote areas, changed
static polling stations into mobile ones and denied the opposition their
right to inspect the voters roll. Obviously the MDC had no choice but to
finally stop giving legitimacy to Zimbabwe's elections. We don't know what
lies ahead but for now the overwhelming feeling is one of immense relief that
the bully boys who are already hanging around on our street corners have lost
their reason for being. Until next week, love cathy Copyright cathy buckle
28 August 2004 http://africantears.netfirms.com "African
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Having just read an article where Josiah Hungwe is said to have
made a frantic but futile attempt to block Zvobgo's ascendancy to the heroes'
acre, I would like to ask; is it a national heroes acre or Mugabe's acre?
The reason for this is that Hungwe is said to have hinted that Zvobgo
was opposed to some of Mugabe's policies and therefore should not be buried
at the national shrine. Josiah, are you aware that you are just nothing
in insofar as the politics of ZANU PF, more especially, Masvingo, is
concerned? Do you remember that you are just a puppet imposed on the
Masvingo people to try and frustrate as well as neutralize a man who spent
all his life for the good of Zimbabwe, Eddison Zvobgo?
May you rest in
peace, Eddison Jonas Mudadirwa Zvobgo, our national pride, a man of
principle, a sharp-minded lawyer, a traditionalist and a national leader who
knew right from wrong, a man who was prepared to and could compromise on
anything as long as it wasn't a matter of principle. Zororai murugare
Shumba, Chimwaura, vakuru vesango!
HICK'S DRIVEN BY HIS FAMILY'S LIFE OF DESPAIR C&G FINAL:
WORCS v GLOUCS, LORD'S, TODAY, 10.45
GRAEME HICK makes his encore on the big stage today,
but for English cricket's great enigma it could be the final flicker of an
At 38, and more than three years since his last England
appearance, Hick has a great future behind him.
In a repeat of
last year's C&G Trophy final against Gloucestershire at Lord's,
Worcestershire will pin their hopes on the batting colossus who has equalled
W G Grace's record of 126 first-class centuries.
figurehead of a dynasty of unfulfilled batting talent including Mark
Ramprakash and John Crawley, has now moved on from great white hope to old
For most of a decade in which he was dropped nine times
under four different England captains, county plunderer Hick's indifferent
Test record was more difficult to solve than a Rubik's cube.
Among his generation, nobody inspired greater loyalty among his admirers...or
generated more bar-stool arguments among partisan factions who regarded him
as either a flat-track bully or the scapegoat for English cricket's
These days, however, a good day at the office is no
longer measured purely by the hundred, but also by the safety of his parents
in Zimbabwe, where England - unbelievably - are still committed to playing a
one-day series in November.
Before violent land seizures reached
their bloody crescendo, Hick's mother and father sold their tobacco farm and
moved to the relative safety of Harare's suburbs.
But they have
still been affected by food, fuel and water shortages, and Hick now plays
with one eye on his family's well being. He said: "My mum and dad still live
in Zimbabwe. They get on with whatever problems they face, whether it's a
lack of water for 10 days or no bread.
"They'll drive to the local
bowls club if there is no water for a shower - they've got round any number
of problems. It is tough for them."
But while Hick monitors events
in southern Africa anxiously, his appetite for big scores remains
Today, there is the small matter of atoning for a
fourth-ball duck in last year's seven-wicket defeat in the cup
Hick - who averaged a modest 31.32 in 65 Tests - added: "You
might laugh at this, but sometimes I start thinking about scoring my next
hundred the night before. Some days I'll tell my wife Jackie that I'm feeling
right, she'll say good luck and I know that unless I play a silly shot, I'm
going to get a hundred."
Worcester reinforced their billing as
underdogs when captain Ben Smith resigned just two weeks ago following
dressing-room unrest and 40-year-old wicketkeeper Steve 'Bumpy' Rhodes will
see out the last month of his first-class career in charge.
Rhodes follows Jack Russell into retirement at the end of the season after
Gloucestershire's former England gloveman was forced to quit two months ago
because of a back injury.
Scarred by last year's one-sided final,
Rhodes said: "We owe it to our supporters to put in a decent
"That was a very sour day for me because not only did
we lose, but I pulled a rib muscle while batting and I was unable to keep
Gloucestershire, who won seven one-day crowns under New
Zealand coach John Bracewell's tutelage, have carried on in much the same
vein despite his departure to take over the Kiwis' national
But they were hit by a setback last night when it was
revealed overseas signing Nathan Bracken, the Australian left-arm pace
bowler, would not arrive in time to make his debut in the Lord's
Opponents of counties who sign non-English players on
short-term contracts will be quietly satisfied that Bracken, will not be able
to make his debut in the domestic game's blue riband cup final.
Life after President Robert Mugabe is
a thought that has been avoided for more than two decades, but the old man
will not be seeking re-election in 2008. Meanwhile, three camps have emerged
within Zanu PF in the run-up to the party's congress in December where
Mugabe's successor will be decided. Zanu PF heavyweights are building
alliances that have drawn in the police, army and war veterans. The
intellectual wing - the "young turks" - includes Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa and has led a "propaganda war on unrepentant Western countries".
The group has seen support from National Security Minister Nicholas Goche,
Minister without Portfolio Elliot Manyika, Mashonaland West leader Philip
Chiyangwa and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri. The group does not have
a leader but Moyo's profile as the public face of the anti-colonial onslaught
has upped his appeal with the party rank and file. He has also been spending
money at grassroots level. The only other persons with strong grassroots
support are Goche and Manyika.
Another area of leverage has been
Moyo's control over the public media, allowing the group a powerful tool to
influence political discourse. Coupled to this, Goche's hold over
intelligence means they are privy to the happenings in Mugabe's innermost
circle. Chiyangwa, a recent convert to the young turks camp, has been in and
out of prison on charges of contempt of court and obstruction of justice, but
Moyo's press has come to his defence, allowing him to fight the Mashonaland
West corner for the group. Made was stripped of the land reform portfolio in
the last Cabinet reshuffle, but is a close friend of Moyo's and continues to
receive positive press. Although the young turks repeatedly opposed the
extension of Chihuri's tenure, he has endeared himself to them through his
heavy-handed approach to journalists. Moyo's tendency to rubbish party
stalwarts in the media is, however, seen as reckless and as creating enemies
within the party that could cost his camp dearly.
The second camp
- consisting of die-hard comrades who fought the liberation war from Mgagao
in Tanzania to Zambia and Mozambique - is regarded as the real Zanu PF wing
and is well respected by Mugabe. Its members have their tentacles running
into the heart and soul of the party and can direct events within the army
and intelligence as well as appeal to the party's old guard. The camp has no
leader and operates through consensus between Defence Minister Sydney
Sekeramayi, retired army supremo General Solomon Mujuru, Intelligence Chief
Happyton Bonyongwe, retired prisons chief Major General Paradzayi Zimondi,
army commander Constantine Chiwenga, Higher Education Minister Herbert
Murerwa, retired youth and gender minister Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri,
Harare Governor Witness Mangwende and, the little known but effective, Zanu
PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde. This group, largely
of the Zezuru Shona tribe, has the respect of senior leadership in Zanu PF's
Ndebele Matebeleland provinces, such as Land Reform Minister John Nkomo, Vice
President Joseph Msika and former intelligence boss Dumiso
It successfully countered Emmerson Mnangagwa's 2000 bid for
the post of chairperson and helped install Nkomo by consulting with the late
Zanu PF Masvingo province political godfather Eddison Zvobgo. This camp
continues to have links with the Zvobgo faction. A leading light in this camp
is Mugabe confidante Sekeramayi. The group, though lacking the charisma of
the young turks, is known to have decided the political fate of an individual
over a braai or glass of whisky. They are not as rooted in key districts such
as West and Central Mashonaland, Midlands and Manicaland, but command
respect among influential players in these provinces. The young turks are
well aware that any ill-spirited campaign against this group would be
The third camp has a leader in Parliament Speaker Mnangagwa,
who hails from the Midlands province. Three months ago he was awarded an
honorary doctorate by the Midlands State University, amid speculation that it
had been engineered by Zanu PF leaders to revive his political aspirations.
That Mnangagwa is unpopular stands uncontested largely because of his role in
the Matabeleland massacres in the early Eighties. The United Nations
has implicated him in Democratic Republic of Congo mineral deals and he is
being probed on charges of corruption and financial irregularities in Zanu
PF companies and gold dealings on mines in his Midlands province. The
public media has been serialising the Zanu PF probe into the affairs of
its companies, headed by Mnangagwa. His fortunes also took a knock with
the death of his spiritual father, former vice president Simon
Muzenda. Prominent businessmen, including Chiyangwa now with the young turks,
have also deserted him. Mnangagwa can, however, rely on the support of the
war veterans led by Jabulani Sibanda. And he could be thrown a lifeline
by Mugabe, who allegedly preferres him as the succession candidate.
Analysts say Mugabe, shrewd as he is, could cut a deal for Mnangagwa with
provincial leaders. As the three camps battle it out, other influential
leaders have seemingly stayed out of the fray. These include former finance
minister Simba Makoni and Zanu PF national chairperson John Nkomo. The Zanu
PF Congress in four months time will be anything but boring.