The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Washington Times

Mugabe's pugnacity intact as he turns 80

By Angus Shaw

    HARARE, Zimbabwe — President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's most combative and enduring rulers whose 24-year reign is under increasing attack at home and abroad, shows no sign of mellowing with age as he turns 80 today.
    In the days before his birthday, Mr. Mugabe pledged to fight what he views as the efforts of Britain and the United States to topple his regime while battling "economic saboteurs" at home.
    Mr. Mugabe's tough talk has been accompanied by deepening state repression. Last week, he signed a presidential decree authorizing detention without bail for up to four weeks for political and economic offenses including corruption or money laundering.
    The opposition Movement for Democratic Change described the decree — the latest in a growing arsenal of repressive laws — as an undeclared state of emergency.
    A slight, fidgety man, Mr. Mugabe is sub-Saharan Africa's fourth-longest-ruling president after Togo's Gnassingbe Eyadema, Gabon's Omar Bongo and Angola's Eduardo dos Santos.
    Once hailed as one of the continent's great statesmen for his attempts to reconcile blacks and whites after more than a decade of fighting, he has since been condemned as a tyrant for rekindling racial hatred and sacrificing his country's economy in order to cling to power.
    Mr. Mugabe led black guerrillas in the campaign against the white-minority Rhodesian government, but sought to allay the fears of the country's tiny white minority when he became Zimbabwe's first black leader after independence from Britain in 1980.
    Many whites, who had been told by their leaders that Mr. Mugabe planned to rape their women and shoot their men, decided to stay after he promised that "there is a place for you in the sun."
    With the help of white-owned commercial farms, Zimbabwe prospered and developed into a regional breadbasket. Mr. Mugabe worked to bolster the nation's health and education systems, making them among the best in Africa.
    But the economy soured amid Zimbabwe's costly involvement in Congo's five-year war and revelations of corruption.
    After voters rejected a constitutional referendum in 2000 that would have consolidated Mr. Mugabe's powers, ruling party officials accused white commercial farmers of bankrolling his opponents in the Movement for Democratic Change.
    The president ordered the seizure of thousands of white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks, touching off more than three years of political violence that has claimed more than 200 lives and hounded tens of thousands of mostly black-opposition supporters from their homes.
    The land seizures, coupled with erratic rains, have crippled the country's agriculture-based economy. Zimbabwe faces record inflation and unemployment, along with acute shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline and other imports.
    Mr. Mugabe has repeatedly dismissed rumors of failing health and calls from within his own party to retire.
    "The president is as fit as none of his detractors can ever hope to be in their lifetime," his spokesman, George Charamba, said recently.
    Mr. Mugabe was narrowly re-elected in 2002 in a vote that independent observers said was marred by intimidation and vote-rigging. He has since stepped up a crackdown against dissent, arresting opposition leaders and waging lengthy legal battles to shut down the country's only independent newspaper.
    In an interview on the government-controlled television network yesterday, Mr. Mugabe suggested he would retire as president within five years.
    "In five years [I will be] here still boxing, writing quite a lot, reading quite a lot, and still in politics. I won't leave politics, but I will have retired, obviously," Mr. Mugabe said.
    In a bid to clean up his ZANU-PF ruling party before the elections, Mr. Mugabe has announced a new drive to fight top-level corruption. Two senior ruling party officials were arrested earlier this year.
    Analysts, however, dismiss the move as political cunning.
    "It is all being stage-managed. He is not going to touch the really big guys but punish only the ones he can afford to sacrifice," said John Makumbe, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mail & Guardian
Mugabe says he'll retire in five years
Harare 21 February 2004 10:32
Zimbawe's President Robert Mugabe, who is turning 80 on Saturday, announced on Friday he would retire from power within five years.

In an interview broadcast on state television and radio on the eve on his birthday, Mugabe said in five years' time he would have retired but still be in politics.

"In five years, (I will be) here, still boxing, writing quite a lot, reading quite a lot and still in politics, I won't leave politics, but I will have retired obviously," he said.

Mugabe, who has been at the helm of the southern African country for nearly 24 years, since independence from Britain in 1980, did not indicate that he would stand for re-election in the next presidential polls due in 2008.

He was re-elected in March 2002 presidential polls which were disputed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as fraudulent and marked with rights abuses.

Mugabe said lobbying by the opposition for sanctions against him was "very wrong and very condemnable" but said he was prepared to hold talks with the opposition and take on their ideas.

"We are prepared to discuss with them the way forward.

"But if they are going to now seek the hand of our enemy to destroy our economy we begin to wonder whether they are for the people or against the people," he said, referring to the MDC which lobbied for the renewal of EU sanctions against Mugabe and his close associates.

On Thursday the European Union extended the sanctions by another year, targeting Mugabe and 94 officials who are barred from entering the 15-nation bloc and have their assets in Europe frozen.

The government has said the drive to place Mugabe under sanctions is being led by Britain, the former colonial power, which has an issue to solve with the southern African country over the controversial land reforms of taking land from whites.

Mugabe, however, said not all European countries shared the same views about Zimbabwe as British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He listed several countries in Europe who remain friendly towards Zimbabwe, among them Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

"They have to go with Europe as a team, the European Union, when decisions are made on the basis of the majority, every member is bound to observe sanctions against us."

But he went on to attack the British leader.

"Blair obviously has always been a b-liar, he can never change his name can he?"

He also criticised Britain's and the United States' war on Iraq.

"Mr Blair and Mr Bush, they are twins, isn't it in telling lies?" he said.

He, however, said his government preferred to work with the World Bank as opposed to the International Monetary Fund.

"We have had quite a favourable relationship with the World Bank ... we have not said 'down with them'," he said, promising to re-pay debts owed to the international lender.

"But I am not so sure with the IMF ... whether we are on good terms with them, whether we could go back to them and invite them to help us, I doubt, because their ideas are completely wrong," he said.

The two Bretton Woods institutions, which still maintain offices in Harare, cut off aid to the country in the late 1990s over disagreements over his government's policies. - Sapa-AFP
Back to the Top
Back to Index

I'll retire in five years, says Mugabe, 80 today
(Filed: 21/02/2004)

Robert Mugabe suggested yesterday in an interview marking his 80th birthday that he would retire as Zimbabwe's president within five years.

"In five years [I will be] here still boxing, writing quite a lot, reading quite a lot and still in politics," he said. "I won't leave politics but I will have retired, obviously."
Mr Mugabe, 80 today, has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980. He has left his retirement plans open over the past year despite speculation that he wants a graceful exit in the face of severe economic and political turmoil blamed by critics on his misrule.
He won another six-year term as president in 2002 polls claimed to be fraudulent by the opposition and has previously dismissed speculation he would not see out his term.
Mr Mugabe denies mismanaging the economy of Zimbabwe, which has record unemployment and inflation as well as shortages of foreign currency, fuel and food. He says the economy has been sabotaged by opponents of his forcible redistribution of white-owned farms.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Music has no borders

Saturday February 21, 2004
The Guardian

James Verini's piece about the US visa situation faced by highly reputed artists (Mr Ferrer can't be with us tonight, Arts, G2, February 18) flags up just the tip of a large iceberg. On top of the numerous delays, detentions and refusals, many other artists have simply chosen to not even bother, leaving the US public even more culturally isolated. The situation is better here. Ibrahim Ferrer will be in Edinburgh on March 9 to receive his BBC Radio 3 Award For World Music, along with Kazem El Saher from Iraq, Severara Nazarkhan from Uzbekistan and artists from marginally less "suspect" countries like Poland, Mali, Senegal, Spain, Belgium and Brazil.

But we shouldn't fall into a smug "only in America" mood. Only last week, Zimbabwe's Stella Chiweshe had two of her musicians refused visas to the UK on the grounds they might become illegal immigrants. We need to make sure the flow of cultural exchange is maintained. It's one of the surest ways to promoting global understanding.
Ian Anderson
fRoots Magazine

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent
South African TV crew held in Zimbabwe

February 20 2004 at 09:41PM
Independent on Saturday

Two journalists from South Africa's eTV were arrested in Zimbabwe on Friday while filming on the farm of an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP.

Nkepile Mabuse and cameraman Frank Kgolane, who have been in that country for a week, were filming in the eastern highlands area of Chimanimani when local police took them in for questioning.

Joe Thloloe, eTV's editor-in-chief, confirmed that Mabuse and Kgolane were taken in for questioning but said "it was nothing serious".

MDC MP Roy Bennett, who owns the farm, said there was no rule of law in Zimbabwe, charging that security authorities had ignored the crew's press accreditation. - Own Correspondent

Harare Council BUDGET Meeting From Councillor Michael Laban


Well, I received notification today (Friday) at 1700 that the consultative
Budget meeting for Monday is on. Dr Marunda phoned the Town Clerk this
to be sure as well.

So I hope to see everyone on Monday, 23 February, 0900, in the lecture hall
Rowan Martin Building. Do not use the main entrance of the tall building
leads to the cashier's counters, but use the main door of the shorter
to the East (towards the city centre). Sign in and go past the receptionist,
down the stairs and turn right.

The full Council meeting has now been moved to Tuesday, 24 February 2004.


Back to the Top
Back to Index