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Zimbabwe opposition says coalition talks have collapsed

Yahoo News

Sun Feb 3, 10:37 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - A bid by Zimbabwe's opposition parties to present a united
challenge to President Robert Mugabe in elections on March 29 has collapsed,
leaders from two of the main factions said Sunday.

"This thing is irretrievably broken," Arthur Mutambara told reporters after
a series of meetings between his bloc of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and another led by former trade unionists ended in deadlock.

"People of Zimbabwe, we apologise for failing to construct a united front,"
Mutambara said, saying that the chances of defeating Mugabe in elections
scheduled for March 29 were now sharply "reduced."

"There is a disagreement," Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the other, larger
MDC faction said at a separate news conference.

"We can't force it (unity) down the people's throat. It's regrettable, it's
unfortunate, but that's the reality."

Both factions would participate in next month's polls despite conditions
Tsvangirai said favoured Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union -
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

"We are giving the people of Zimbabwe a fighting chance against the
dictatorship," Tsvangirai said. "We aim to focus on Robert Mugabe and
ZANU-PF as the authors of the present national crisis.

"The challenge we have got is that we are going into this election fully
aware of the unfavourable conditions."

Political analyst Augustine Timbe said the split would hand victory to

"The votes for those who do not like the ruling party will be scattered
between the various opposition candidates while those who have always
supported the ruling party will stick to it," he said.

"The opposition has always spoken about creating an alternative government
but where making important decisions is concerned, they have been found
wanting," Timbe said.

Godfrey Chikowore, an analyst in the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of
Development Studies, agreed the opposition's chances looked worse than ever.

"If the opposition was serious it should have put its house in order long
back," he told AFP.

Mutambara said disagreement over seat allocations had been the dealbreaker.

"From haggling over two seats last night, this morning our colleagues came
back to us demanding 20 more seats in Matabeleland even where we have
sitting MPs," he said.

"At the same time they are not prepared to make such concessions in Harare."

Matabeleland is considered a stronghold of the Mutambara faction while the
group led by Morgan Tsvangirai is dominant in Harare.

"In the absence of an agreement, we have no choice but to go right ahead and
provide leadership in this country," said Mutambara.

"This means from this place we're going out in the country to work out our
nominations for the presidency, 210 members of parliament, senators and
councillors. Morgan Tsvangirai is not our candidate for the presidency of
this country."

Once a formidable force posing the stiffest challenge to Mugabe's more than
two-decade stranglehold on power, the MDC was riven by factionalism
following a row over senate elections in 2006.

The factions temporarily set their differences aside and vowed to launch a
united front against Mugabe last year after Tsvangirai and other party
members were beaten by security forces breaking up an opposition rally.

Amid regional attempts to mediate an election framework between the MDC and
the ruling ZANU-PF, Mugabe announced last month that presidential and
parliamentary elections would be held on March 29.

The MDC has been pushing for the poll to be held only after a new
constitution was in place.

The 83-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since
independence in 1980, is widely blamed for his country's economic meltdown,
with annual inflation officially put at nearly 8,000 percent.

Mugabe has blamed sanctions imposed by the European Union and United States
after he allegedly rigged his re-election in 2002.

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Zimbabwe opposition to contest vote

Yahoo News

By MacDonald Dzirutwe Sun Feb 3, 10:25 AM ET

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's splintered opposition Movement for Democratic
Change will not boycott next month's general elections but will field rival
candidates, badly weakening its chances of unseating President Robert

Politicians from both wings of the movement said on Sunday that two days of
talks had failed to reach agreement on a single candidate for the leadership
of the southern African country, which is in the grip of severe economic

The movement split in 2005 and had been trying to agree on a pact to unite
behind main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to challenge Mugabe, who
turns 84 later this month.

But the smaller MDC group of academic Arthur Mutambara said talks had broken
down and it would go it alone, fielding candidates in the presidential,
parliamentary and council elections.

Mutambara accused Tsvangirai's group of making unreasonable demands and
failing to sign an agreed unity pact.

"In the absence of an agreement, we have no choice as a political party but
to go right ahead and provide leadership in this country," he told

The MDC had earlier said it could boycott the March 29 polls if Mugabe's
government refused to adopt a new draft constitution agreed between the two
sides. The charter has not been adopted.

Tsvangirai said talks between the two camps had collapsed over the
differences about how many candidates to field in the Matabeleland
province -- an MDC stronghold.

"The National Council (MDC's main decision making body) disagreed on the
selection of candidates, causing a delay of a single MDC taking shape,"
Tsvangirai told a briefing.

"I need not to justify what was the cause of the dispute when we were so
near to an agreement, save only to say we had requested that in Matabeleland
we have a 50/50 split of candidates."


Tsvangirai said a new constitution was his party's main hope of achieving a
fair election and, without one, the result was bound to be disputed as had
happened in the past.

"What this deadlock (over the constitution) means is that we are going into
an election in March whose outcome is likely to be contested," he said.

"The people know that they won the last three elections and that they will
win the next election, but let Mugabe steal (it) and see whether he can
resolve the national crisis."

Tsvangirai, who has accused Mugabe of rigging past elections, would not
comment on what action the MDC might take should it lose.

Analysts say a divided opposition stands little chance of defeating Mugabe,
who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and is
accused by critics of plunging the country into crisis.

"A single candidate philosophy would have made it easier to deliver
victory," said Mutambara.

Mugabe has vowed to clinch a landslide victory in next month's elections to
silence the opposition and shame Western foes he says are sponsoring his
rivals to remove him from power.

Critics say the veteran leader has ruined Zimbabwe through controversial
policies such as the seizure of white-owned farms for blacks and lately
plans to localize foreign-owned companies, including banks and mines.

Mugabe denies charges he has wrecked a once promising economy and blames
former colonial ruler Britain for leading a Western onslaught against his
government as punishment for the land seizures.

(Editing by Michael Winfrey)

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Supporters of pro-Mugabe bishop blockade cathedral, locking out worshippers

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: February 3, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Supporters of an Anglican bishop who is a staunch
supporter of Zimbabwe's ruling party blockaded Harare's cathedral Sunday,
preventing the swearing-in ceremony of his elected successor. Police ignored
a court order and did not intervene.

Gangs of supporters of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga locked the doors and gates to
the cloisters of St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral in downtown Harare and at
least two worshippers who tried to enter were assaulted, witnesses said.

The High Court on Thursday ruled that the swearing-in of Bishop Sebastian
Bakare, voted bishop of the Harare Anglican province by local churches to
replace Kunonga, should go ahead and Bakare's followers should be allowed to
worship in the cathedral.

But from early Sunday, Kunonga's supporters circled the cathedral entrances
and barred entry to churchgoers showing up for Sunday services.

A few police, watched by witnesses and reporters, did not intervene.

Bakare was later installed in an "investiture" ceremony as the new caretaker
Anglican bishop of Harare at a service attended by several thousand
worshippers at a sports arena across the city.
The standoff was the latest incident in a bitter dispute that has racked the
Anglican Church in Zimbabwe since Kunonga last year refused to hand over the
cathedral, its administrative offices, its check accounts and vehicles to
church elders after losing the election for bishop.

In January, Kunonga declared he was breaking away from the Church of the
Province of Central Africa, the regional Anglican governing body, and
declared the formation of an independent Anglican Harare diocese that
retained him as its leader.

But in his court ruling Thursday, Judge Charles Hungwe ruled that
declaration invalid, saying church elders across the region had not accepted
the schism and it violated longstanding constitutional rules of the Anglican
church in central and southern Africa.

He dismissed an appeal by Kunonga to bar Bakare from using church property
for worship and said "men of the cloth ought to resolve their differences in
a God-fearing manner."

In an earlier ruling last month, the High Court permitted both Kunonga's and
Bakare's followers to hold services in the cathedral at separate times while
the issue of the bishop's post was resolved. Scuffles occurred at those
services, watched over by armed police, and in one incident Kunonga snatched
Bakare's bible from his grasp and threw it across the cathedral nave.

In 2004, Kunonga faced a regional church court on allegations of incitement
to murder, fostering ruling party politics, ethnic hatred and incitement
from the pulpit during the often-violent seizures ordered by Mugabe and the
ruling party of thousands of white-owned farms since 2000, and using
intimidation against his opponents.

That court adjourned in confusion and rancor before it could make a ruling
on the behavior of Kunonga, a former lecturer in liberation theology in the
United States.

Soon after becoming Harare bishop, Kunonga ordered the removal of memorial
plaques and insignia honoring the country's dead before independence in
1980, including those of black soldiers who fought alongside the forces of
Britain, the former colonial ruler, in World War II.

Last month, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, head of the
worldwide Anglican Church, said he unequivocally condemned the use of armed
police and state machinery to intimidate Kunonga's opponents.

"Kunonga's position has become increasingly untenable within the Anglican
Church over the last year, as he has consistently refused to maintain
appropriate levels of independence from the Zimbabwean Government," Williams

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Harare to bar Western media from covering election

Zim Online

by Lizwe Sebatha Monday 04 February 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu says Harare will
not accredit journalists from “hostile” Western nations to cover next March’s
presidential and parliamentary elections.

Speaking at the Bulawayo Press Club on Friday night, Ndlovu said journalists
from Western media groups were continuing to violate Zimbabwe’s media laws
by illegally sneaking into the country.

“The government would limit the accreditation of foreign media houses to
only those with friendly ties with the government,” said Ndlovu.

“Journalists from the likes of BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) who
continue to sneak into the country illegally and report illegally would not
be accredited to cover the elections,” added Ndlovu.

Last month, the BBC’s John Simpson defied the ban on the organization and
spent a week in Zimbabwe covering political developments on the ground as
well as in President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party.

The clandestine visit riled as well as embarrassed state security agents who
keen to maintain a tight lid on political developments in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on 29 March with Mugabe, who has maintained a
tight grip on information flow over the past five years, seeking a fresh
five-year presidential term that could take his rule to 33 years.

Harare has banned international media organisations such as the BBC and the
United States’ based Cable News Network (CNN) from operating in Zimbabwe as
the government continued its fierce propaganda war against critics.

Harare has also since 2003 banned four independent newspapers, including the
biggest selling Daily News, that were deemed critical of the government.

The government last week said it would only invite election observers from
“friendly nations” to observe the elections that come amid a worsening
economic crisis that has manifested itself in rampant inflation of over 26
000 percent, shortages of food and foreign currency.

Analysts say free and fair elections are a prerequisite to any plans to
resuscitate the southern Africa’s once brilliant economy. - ZimOnline

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Chaos mars ZANU PF primary elections in Bulawayo

Zim Online

by Lizwe Sebatha Monday 04 February 2008

BULAWAYO – ZANU PF party primary elections to choose the party’s
parliamentary and council election candidates in Bulawayo for next March’s
polls had to be postponed last weekend following violent clashes between
party supporters over the selection process.

The police had to be called in to quell the violent disturbances at Davies
Hall after candidates aligned to controversial war veterans’ leader,
Jabulani Sibanda, accused the party’s provincial leadership of attempting to
sideline them in the selection of candidates.

Sibanda is leading a rival faction of ZANU PF that is bitterly opposed to
the party’s ‘old guard’ of politburo member, Dumiso Dabengwa, ZANU PF
national chairman, John Nkomo and Vice-President Joseph Msika.

ZANU PF spokesman for Bulawayo province, Effort Nkomo, confirmed the
disturbances yesterday adding that the party had since agreed to move the
primary elections to a later date.

“We called off the primary elections because of the disturbances by some
party members on Friday. The selection of candidates would be held at a
later date which would be announced soon,” Nkomo said.

President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party is currently conducting
primary elections around the country to choose candidates to run for the
party in the March 29 elections.

Zimbabweans go to the polls next March to choose a new president,
parliamentarians and councilors in the elections that analysts say are a
prerequisite to plucking the country out of an eight-year political crisis.

Contacted for comment yesterday over the disturbances in Bulawayo, Sibanda
said: “There is a lot of rubbish happening in that province. I was not there
but I received reports that the elections were postponed because of attempts
to impose candidates by sidelining other aspiring candidates.”

Sibanda, who was fired from ZANU PF in 2004 after he allegedly sought to
block the rise of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, has been a constant thorn in
the flesh of the ZANU PF ‘old guard’ in Matabeleland.

The ZANU PF old guard in Matabeleland insists that Sibanda, who organised
controversial marches in support of Mugabe last year, should be barred from
conducting any party business until his matter has been comprehensively
dealt with by the party’s disciplinary committee. - ZimOnline

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Legal centre expresses concern over treatment of Zim refugees

Zim Online

by Own Correspondent  Monday 04 February 2008

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s Legal Resource Centre (SLR) has expressed
serious concern at the treatment of Zimbabwean immigrants arrested last week
by the police at a Johannesburg church where they had sought shelter.

LRC director Janet Love told the press at the weekend that there were delays
in ensuring immigrants held in police cells had access to legal and medical
assistance, while some of the Zimbabweans appear to had been physically

Love said: "Extensive delays were experienced in obtaining access to the
police cells in order to consult with the detainees.

“Initially access was refused but, after three telephone calls and the
threat of an urgent application to the High Court being lodged, it was
eventually agreed that we could consult with the detainees in groups of no
more than six at a time."

The LRC is an independent, non-profit public interest law clinic, which
provides free legal services to the vulnerable and marginalised members of

The LRC is assisting mostly illegal immigrants who were arrested when the
police raided the Central Methodist church, which has provided shelter and
food to thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing home because of worsening economic
hardships and political violence.

More than 300 people were arrested and are held at the Johannesburg Central
police station.

The South African Council of Churches and human rights groups have
criticised the police raid, which some have likened to the worst police
excesses of the 1970s and 1980s” when the country was still under apartheid

The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, that defends the rights of Zimbabwean refugees in
South Africa, said the raid raised serious doubts about South Africa’s
commitment to upholding the rights of refugees.

The group, which accuses South African authorities of abusing Zimbabwean
immigrants, has called on President Thabo Mbeki’s government to accept a
request by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) to
investigate the ill-treatment of refugees in the country.

Police have defended the raid, which they say was in response to complaints
from the public to eradicate criminal elements within the district.

At least three million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the country’s 12 million
people, are living in South Africa, the majority of them as illegal
immigrants after fleeing hunger and political persecution at home. -

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Zimbabwe: an election whose outcome is predetermined

Zim Online

by Mutumwa Mawere Monday 04 February 2008

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe finds itself at the crossroads and the bank created
at independence in 1980 of justice, freedom and equality seems to be
bankrupt and it is evident that the promissory note that was given to
citizens at independence will not be honored on March 29.

A central bank should ordinarily represent a repository of trust and
integrity but the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has been reduced to a
theatre of games and machinations while the nation is at its knees groping
for solutions and desperate for direction and answers.

At last week’s announcement of the monetary policy statement, Dr Gideon Gono
had this to say: "We have chosen a low-key presentation of this monetary
policy statement for strategic reasons while we prepare for a comprehensive
post-elections policy program.’’

He also made a startling revelation that the RBZ would come up with a
post-elections monetary policy blueprint that will cover a 24-month recovery
programme stretching from May 2008 through to April 2010.

It appears that Gono already knows the outcome of the general elections
otherwise he would have been cautious instead of preempting the actions of a
new administration particularly given that this landmark election will
involve presidential, parliamentary and local choices.

It appears that Gono has already discounted the possibility of any other
outcome than the victory of ZANU-PF.

In line with his belief that ZANU-PF will win the election, Gono said that
the post election programme will focus on, among other things, the removal
of pricing distortions in such areas as fuel, agricultural inputs and
outputs, multiple interest and exchange rates, electricity, water and other
municipal and parastatal service charges.

Does this not sound familiar? Is it not the same Gono who said failure was
not an option?

Why would citizens of Zimbabwe place their trust on him after the elections?
If these policies make sense now, why defer them to the post-election
period? Is it the change that Zimbabweans should vote for on 29 March 2008?

He also said that the government will also look at the subsidies policy with
a view to scrapping untargeted general subsidies, amend investment laws, and
boost productivity through incentives for key sectors — agriculture, mining,
tourism and manufacturing.

The governor who is increasingly assuming the role of an unelected President
had no kind words for government ministries, local authorities, parastatals
and some sections of the business community which he alleged have over the
years failed to take heed of policy advice and warnings from the central
bank as if to suggest that these state institutions are now accountable to

Under what constitutional order would a governor of the central bank make
such statements? It can only be when a democratic order has been
irretrievably broken. It is important for citizens to record all the words
of Gono because they help in exposing the extent of the breakdown of the
rule of law and the collapse of the state.

As is now characteristic of Gono, he spared no effort to lament the impact
of the sanctions imposed on the country by the European Union, the United
States and their allies, saying there were "considerable attempts being made
to dismantle Zimbabwe’s economic fabric through a combination of armory".

He was also reported to have said: "The subtle nature of some of these
sanctions has regrettably escaped the eyes of some stakeholders here at home
and many others in the world community who, instead, are interpreting
Zimbabwe’s current difficulties as a product of domestic policy imbalances.’’

With respect to the impact of sanctions, he was of the view that the
freezing of donor-supported programmes, withdrawal of external lines of
credit and balance of payments support and the denial of Zimbabwe’s access
to the Global Fund for health-related programmes had combined to create the
economic crisis.

He then attempted to justify his questionable and possibly corrupt
quasi-fiscal activities by saying that the RBZ had been forced to carry
extraordinary responsibilities outside its core business to ensure that the
country was fed and had fuel, among other things.

Gono was supposed to appear before the Budget and Finance Committee of the
recently dissolved parliament to expose the so-called cash barons but it was
reported that the meeting was now postponed and will only take place after
the elections by which time there may be new players in parliament.

Gono is firmly in control of economic actors who are reduced to beggars for
this or that dispensation on the false premise that the RBZ has an existence
outside the control of citizens.

While it is universally accepted that no state can exist on its own it is
clearly evident in the Gono construction that with or without elections,
ZANU-PF will be in charge and by deductive logic he will be in power as well
to continue to play tactical games with people’s resources and steal their
future through manipulative actions.

* Mutumwa Mawere is a Zimbabwean-born South African businessman based in

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Student leader arrested and later dumped in bush

Nehanda Radio

03 February 2008

By a correpondent

Police in Bulawayo on Wednesday arrested Themba Maphenduka, the newly
elected Treasurer General of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, and later
dumped in Nyamandlovu, about 30 kilometers outside Zimbabwe's second largest
city of Bulawayo.

His latest altercation with the law enforcement agents comes barely two
months after he was brutally assaulted in Bulawayo at the railway station by

Maphenduka was upended by the police after addressing a general meeting at
Bulawayo Polytechnic, the meeting was convened to discuss the poor education
delivery system, poor food quality at at the institution and the lack of
teaching staff at the College.

The college has since turned to unqualified personnel in an effort to fill
the gap left by qualified teachers who are fleeing the country en'masse.

After addressing the students, he was waylaid by four plain clothes security
agents who took him to Bulawayo Central police station where they
immediately switched cars and drove him to Nyamandlovu, to an isolated
police base in the area.  He was interrogated, being asked about the
congress resolutions of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, their action
plan and was forced to reveal the names of fellow members of the National
Executive Council of ZINASU.

The police left him stranded in Nyamandlovu, and he had to walk for at least
an hour before accessing the main Harare-Victorial Falls road at around 2
am.  There were no reports of assaults.

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Mann Appeals to ICJ

The Zimbabwean

 Sunday, 03 February 2008 10:29

HARARE - The lawyer of alleged coup plotter Simon Mann is appealing in the
International Court of Justice against the illegal and clandestine
deportation of his client to Equatorial Guinea.

Mann, 55, lost an appeal against extradition in the High Court on Wednesday,
where his legal team argued that he would face torture and a likely death
sentence in a nation with one of the worst human rights records in Africa.
Mann, an ex-SAS officer was placed on a military plane and flown out in the
early hours of Thursday after being handed over to Equatorial Guinea
Mann was collected from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison at 04:30am by
officers of the notorious Law and Order Section and taken to the Zimbabwe
Air Force’s Manyame Airbase, just south of Harare and flown to Equatorial
Guinea where he is due to face fresh charges of treason.
Mann’s lawyer Jonathan Samkange told The Zimbabwean Friday: “His deportation
was illegal. We are lodging an appeal in the Supreme Court. We are
challenging this all the way, right up to the International Court of
Justice. Deporting a person at night is not only mischievous but unlawful.”
The High Court in August 2004 convicted Mann of attempting to buy arms for
an alleged coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. He served a three year
term in the Chikurubi Maximum Prison. But at the end of his prison term,
Equatorial Guinea President Theodora Obiang Nguema Mbasongo insisted that he
faces trial in his own country on allegations of plotting to overthrow his
regime. The former SAS officer was arrested in March 2004 when his private
plane landed at the Harare International Airport. He denied plotting a coup.
His co-accused got 12 months in jail for breaking immigration laws while his
two pilots got 16 months.
The men insisted that the weapons they had in their possession were to be
used to provide security for a diamond mine in the Democratic Republic of
Congo and not to stage a putsch in Equatorial Guinea.

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