Three Kiwis to be sent to Zimbabwe as election
WELLINGTON, Feb 4 NZPA
Three New Zealanders will be among the 35-strong Commonwealth group sent to
Zimbabwe to observe that country's elections, Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff
He told NZPA he had spoken to Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon
in the past 24 hours and had agreed to send three New Zealanders as election
"I'm in the process of selecting those people at the moment," he said. "I'm
looking at people who know Zimbabwe well."
He would discuss who would go with Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Three New Zealanders, including former Zimbabwe high commissioner Chris
Laidlaw, observed Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections in June 2000.
Goff said the New Zealanders would go to Zimbabwe before February 23 and
stay there in the days after the election on March 9-10.
Goff is in Durban part-way through a trip to Mozambique, South Africa and
Botswana - three of Zimbabwe's closest neighbours.
Last week, the eight-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG),
the organisation's democracy watchdog, rejected British-led calls for Zimbabwe's
suspension to punish President Robert Mugabe for a pre-election clampdown on
It called instead for the immediate deployment of election observers to
The move disappointed Goff who wanted the European Union, the Commonwealth
and other countries to expel the country and impose targeted sanctions.
Goff said today he was explaining New Zealand's position in discussions
with ministers from the three countries he was visiting.
He was also trying to understand why those countries had taken a "cautious"
approach in their public comments on Zimbabwe.
What was happening in Zimbabwe was reflecting on the region, yet Mugabe was
dismissing criticism as coming only from white Commonwealth countries.
He wanted to "encourage" Zimbabwe's neighbours "in a variety of different
ways to put pressure on".
Goff said decisions over Zimbabwe - its suspension from the Commonwealth
and the imposition of "smart sanctions" - had to be made before the Commonwealth
Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia next month.
Action had to follow the words of condemnation, he said.
Goff goes to Botswana tomorrow and will meet with his Botswanan
counterpart, who chairs CMAG.
Zimbabwe opposition leader stands up
to coup threats from military
Andrew Meldrum in Mutare, eastern
Monday February 4, 2002
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has faced down senior military officers
who have threatened a coup if he wins next month's presidential election, by
saying that he will sack them.
Last month, the army high command said it
would not recognise any government that did not adhere to the aims of the
"revolution", and that any president was confined to a "straitjacket", taken to
mean that he could not pursue policies the military does not like.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change has until now avoided direct
confrontation with the military, but at the launch yesterday of his campaign for
the March 9 and 10 election, Mr Tsvangirai told supporters that he would sack
army officers who did not have "the professional integrity to respect your
The MDC candidate has further angered the military leadership by
pledging to pull 10,000 Zimbabwean troops out of the Democratic Republic of
Congo. It would be a popular move with the rank and file who do the fighting,
but senior officers and ruling party officials have grown rich from mining and
other contracts since the military intervention in Congo.
"When we come to
power, we will plan an orderly withdrawal from the Congo war where our men are
dying and our dollars are being wasted," Mr Tsvangirai said.
At an election
rally at the weekend, President Robert Mugabe focused on two favoured targets:
Britain and gays. He accused Tony Blair of trying to overthrow him because of
the president's opposition to homosexuality, and said that the British cabinet
was "full of gays".
"I have people who are married in my cabinet. He has
homosexuals and they make John marry Joseph and let Mary get married to
Rosemary," Mr Mugabe said on Saturday. "We are saying they do not know biology
because even dogs and pigs know biology. We can form clubs, but we will never
have homosexual clubs. We will punish them."
Mr Mugabe has repeatedly
attempted to portray the MDC as a British-funded front for white interests. Mr
Tsvangirai responded by accusing the president of reducing the country to
anarchy in a desperate bid to hang on to power.
"There is anarchy in our
country. Is there a person here who has not been affected by violence and
beatings? I promise there will be law and order," he said.
urged his supporters not to seek revenge for the widespread political violence
by the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Residents in Mutare had reported that they were
threatened with beatings and even death if they attended the opposition rally.
The threats reportedly came from Zanu-PF officials, who went from door to door,
escorted by police officers.
Mr Mugabe is due to sign into law a repressive
press bill which was finally passed by parliament last Thursday and which
critics say will stifle criticism of the regime during the election campaign.
The bill provoked a public split in Zanu-PF.
The European Union is due to
announce today what measures it will take to encourage free and fair elections.
Standing up to Mugabe
EUROPEAN Union censure of Robert Mugabe amounts to beating him with a
feather duster. Less than five weeks before Zimbabwe's presidential election,
the 15 have decided that obstruction of their monitors, who have yet to arrive
in Harare, will lead them to consider imposing sanctions targeted at the
president and his henchmen.
Yet such a yardstick allows ample scope for fudge to EU ministers reluctant
for a showdown with Mr Mugabe. The president could persuade the EU that certain
of its members be excluded or that the monitors be part of a wider African,
Caribbean and Pacific delegation. And, once they had arrived in Zimbabwe, he
could severely restrict their movements.
A sounder trigger for imposing sanctions would have been the passage,
completed last week, of the draconian public order and media bills. The
president is conducting a reign of terror through the army, police, "war
veterans", Zanu-PF youth brigade and, the latest manifestation of thuggery, the
green-uniformed "terror teens". He has wrecked the economy to such an extent
that Zimbabwe is running out of its main staple, maize. The charge sheet is
already quite long enough to merit punishment from Western countries that have
repeatedly called for good governance in Africa. If the EU were to take the
lead, the United States, which has signed an enabling bill into law, could
In the Commonwealth, the other forum where Jack Straw, the Foreign
Secretary, has belatedly made a pretence of standing up to Mr Mugabe, the
feeling of solidarity between one black African leader and another has doomed
effective action from the start. The policy of engagement, being promoted by Don
McKinnon, the secretary-general, as late as last week, has long proved a farce;
Mr Mugabe deserves to be treated as a pariah. The main finger of blame, however,
points at Thabo Mbeki. The South African president speaks frequently of an
African renaissance, yet allows a bankrupt tyranny on his doorstep to make a
mockery of that claim. Over Zimbabwe, despite the threat its implosion poses to
his own economy, he is incurably complacent.
The indifference of the outside world to Mr Mugabe's increasingly Maoist
regime bodes ill for his domestic opponents, led by Morgan Tsvangirai and his
Movement for Democratic Change. If the president cannot win the election fairly,
he will rig it. If that provokes unrest, he will suppress it brutally, as he did
during food riots in 1998 and 2000. The prospect is for indefinite rule by a man
whose willingness to ruin the country for the sake of political survival is
insane. Such an opponent is undoubtedly difficult to dislodge. But, to date, the
outside world has not really tried.
Gulf Daily News
Zimbabwe police block opposition rally
Zimbabwe police mounted roadblocks yesterday as opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai prepared to launch his presidential election campaign, seen as the
biggest challenge to President Robert Mugabe's 22-year rule.
Armed police blocked the road to a stadium in Mutare, 300km east of Harare,
where Tsvangirai was due to address his first Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) election rally five weeks before the March 9 and 10 vote.
Cars and buses snaked more than 2km to the stadium as armed policemen
searched vehicles, insisting that MDC supporters produce identity documents
before allowing them into the stadium. Those without were turned away.
Tsvangirai is seen as the biggest threat to Mugabe's re-election as
president as Zimbabwe sinks into a crisis blamed largely on economic
mismanagement and a controversial policy of seizing white-owned farms that has
stunted the crucial agricultural sector.
Britain, the US and the European Union have threatened sanctions against
Mugabe and his inner circle if he fails to ensure the election is fair.
Zimbabwe has recently pushed through parliament a raft of legislation that
opponents say sets the stage for a dictatorship. The latest, last Thursday, was
a tough media bill that critics say will stifle debate in the run-up to the
There was no confirmation in Harare of a report in the Johannesburg-based
Independent on Sunday newspaper that Mugabe had bowed to international pressure
and had decided not to sign the bill into law.
Instead, Mugabe once again took up his attack on Britain, saying he'd
choose war rather than allow the former colonial ruler to dictate to
Mugabe threatened to punish gay groups at a campaign rally, saying Britain
was angry at him for his stance against homosexuality.
Mugabe said British Prime Minister Tony Blair should "expose" his cabinet
as full of gays before criticising Zimbabwe, according to the official Ziana
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo faces legal action
in South Africa and Kenya for allegedly embezzling millions of rand from the
University of the Witwatersrand and the Ford Foundation, The Sunday Times
Moyo is facing legal action by the University of the Witwatersrand for
absconding with part of a 100 million rand research grant and is being sued by
the Ford Foundation, a US aid agency, over an illegal transfer of more than one
million rand (BD33,264) to a trust in South Africa, the report said.
Arms to Africa scar Britain's conscience
As Tony Blair goes to Africa to pledge a new era of partnership, Britain's
role as a leading supplier of arms to Africa continues to drain resources needed
Sunday February 3, 2002
Tony Blair's messianic whistle-stop world tours - last month India and next
week Africa - offer plenty of opportunity for Labour's spin doctors to drum up
favourable publicity. Yet the reality that Britain's central role in the global
arms trade fatally undermines the government's professed agenda of global
development. British arms fuel conflict and divert extremely-scarce resources
from development: they are a scar on the conscience of an internationalist Prime
Tony Blair and his international development secretary, Clare Short
will talk about how they can play a role in shedding Africa of its violent and
colonial past. Blair wants to set out a new vision of British interests, no
longer shaped by neo-colonial turf wars or self-serving capitalists. Blair and
Short say, too, that they want to work in partnership with those African
governments committed to health, education and human development. One very
obvious way to reduce tension and pressure states into spending more on domestic
development is to reduce arms sales. Britain is the world's second largest arms
vendor and has some clout here both as a supplier and by setting an example of
Blair's peace-building trip to an Indian sub-continent perilously close to
war between two nuclear states ended in a publicity sting - as The Guardian
revealed that British companies were being sponsored by the Department of Trade
and Industry to attend an arms exhibition in Delhi at the end of this month. In
Africa too, Blair's government will be sponsoring companies to attend an arms
exhibition - Africa Aerospace and Defence 2002. The taxpayer, as we did two
years ago, will also foot the bill for Defence Export Services Organisations
(DESO), a dedicated department within the Ministry of Defence charged with
assisting military exports, to make the trip to Africa. A South African general
Julius Kriel, describes these exhibitions as "very much a show for Africa". Over
20 African countries including Algeria, Nigeria and Burundi attended the last.
With government support, British companies are effectively enticing African
governments to buy technology that many could either misuse or ill afford.
South Africa itself is still a country cruelly challenged by ubiquitous
crime, HIV/Aids and homelessness. Nevertheless, Mr Blair personally visited the
country in 1999 to lobby for a British chunk of a £4bn arms deal that South
African defence officials eventually signed. In the same year, Clare Short's
department for international development (DFID) granted a miserly £47.8m aid
package to Pretoria.
Britain's commitment to "sustainable development" has also been called into
question recently, by Britain granting an export licence for a £28m air traffic
control system to Tanzania. Even the IMF, which is usually reticent about
criticising specific acquisitions, announced loudly that Tanzania's local
security concerns - which are mainly poachers - meant that it could have spent a
quarter on an adequate system.
Of course, some will argue that it is "neo-colonial" of us in Britain to
deliver homilies to our poorer brethren in Africa about what, or what they
shouldn't, spend their money on. Perhaps this is a fair philosophical point. But
it is less compelling than economic reasons to speak out against these
increasing arms sales to Africa, many of which would not take place if they were
not effectively subsidised by Britain.
The DTI has underwritten South Africa's purchase of BAE Hawk jets by
£1.7bn. This means if the extremely fragile economy of South Africa defaults in
payments to the UK, the taxpayer picks up the bill.
Tanzania is one of the poorest nations on earth. Its population is over
half of Britain's, but its GDP is on the same keel as three of our major city
councils. Part of the £750m of aid Tanzania received from the international
community last year was £64m from London. Almost half of this went straight back
into the hands of BAE engineers on the Isle of Wight.
Even more serious costs to Africa than the drain of economic resources are
the continued exports that could be used dangerously to deny human rights or
arbitrarily settle disputes. The problem of small arms is pandemic on that
continent. Labour pushed for a non-legally binding EU Code of Conduct, which was
accepted in 1998. Among other commitments, were "the respect of human rights"
and the "preservation of regional peace, security and stability". Since Labour
came to government, small arms (typically pistols, assault rifles and
machine-guns) have been sanctioned for sale to Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco,
Sierra Leone and Zambia. Amnesty International's latest report says that in
Kenya "torturing by security officials is widespread". Moreover, Morocco and
Western Sahara have been involved in a bitter border dispute, supervised by the
United Nations. Labour decided to supply Hawk spare parts to Mugabe's air force
right up to the beginning of 2000, despite Zimbabwe's involvement in the Congo
war and internal political repression.
When Labour came to power it inherited export control laws from before the
Second World War. This threw up (along with Tory government complicity) the
"arms to Iraq affair' and weapons sales to states such as Indonesia which were
guilty of immense breaches of international law. To counter the problems of this
outdated and inadequate legislation, Labour recently introduced an export bill
into parliament. Yet, to cross-party dismay, the government dropped a clause
calling for arms exports to be stopped if they threatened "sustainable
development". The bill will return to Parliament next week while Blair is in
Africa - yet the government in opposing cross-party attempts to restore the
British arms sales to Africa leaped from £52m (in 1999) to £125m a year
later. When the applications for South African export licences tumble through
the doors of the DTI, while cheques leave for Africa from DFID, we will in all
likelihood be facing a situation where arms sales to the continent outnumber the
aid Britain sends there. For many of us, watching Mr Blair strut through an
anonymous street somewhere south of the Sahara next week, this sad equation
provides yet another disappointing epitaph to a government that promised so
Critics Warn of Catastrophe if Mugabe 'Steals'
February 3, 2002
Posted to the web February 3, 2002
Zimbabwe's election campaign is finally underway. President Robert Mugabe
and his ruling party, Zanu-PF, face a challenge on March 9-10 from Morgan
Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change.
The past two years have seen a bitter political battle involving a rising
tide of violence and a disastrous economic collapse. While Zanu-PF presents the
battle in terms of an argument over whether agricultural land should be taken
from white farmers and given to black Zimbabweans, the MDC and other critics say
the land issue is being used by President Mugabe to whip up support for his
re-election and justify dubbing his opponents a mouthpiece for the former
colonial power, Britain.
Attempts by the international community, particularly South Africa,
Nigeria, the United States, the EU and the Commonwealth, to persuade Harare to
reduce the tension and play by fair rules, have met with little success. Violent
intimidation has continued and, most recently, a number of new laws have been
passed, apparently designed to give Mr Mugabe's party the advantage.
Mark Chavanduka, editor of one of Harare's independent newspapers, the
Zimbabwe Standard and Eliphas Mukonoweshuro Professor of Politicial Science at
the University of Zimbabwe, both strong critics of President Mugabe, are in the
United States to press for increased international pressure on the government.
Chavanduka was tortured in 1999, with his reporter, Ray Choto, and charged with
treason for reporting a coup plot in the army.
The two men visited allAfrica.com on February 1 and, in a wide-ranging
interview, talked about what they believe are President Mugabe's strategies for
winning the forthcoming election - in particular, a 'militarisation' of the
election campaign machine, the reluctance of the international community to act
against him and their fears for the future. Excerpts:
Would you say that, despite the passage of the latest laws, there is still
a chance for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe?
Mark Chavanduka: There can't be. Because if you look at the new
legislation, one of its more laughable provisions is that it makes it a crime to
speak against President Mugabe, to criticize him or members of his senior
cabinet. What I'm doing right now, by criticising him, I'm committing a crime.
There can't be a fair election where one of the candidates is immune from
criticism - how else can any other candidate present his credentials without
attacking what he perceives to be the shortcomings of the incumbent?
You have to remember that all the previous legislation has not been removed
from the statute books, so they're actually adding to all the legislation
inherited from the colonial era. So we are now operating under a more repressive
situation than under the colonial regime.
President Mugabe's apparent attitude is often seen by foreign press
coverage as astonishing, and it sometimes seems as though he almost wants to be
provocative. How does one explain that?
Mark Chavanduka:Well I don't think there's any other way of explaining it.
Firstly, he's become totally impervious to any form of criticism or advice. And
secondly his only preoccupation at the moment is how to stay in power; he's not
too fussy about whether he uses legal or extra-legal means of doing it. So that
is his mind set and he's not going to be worried too much by how the
international community perceives his actions.
How do you deal with the accusation that the MDC has played into the hands
of the former colonial masters and is a neo-colonial mouthpiece?
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: It is cheap. We know Zanu-PF propaganda, I grew up
in Zanu-PF and abandoned it at the first indications of dictatorship, so I know
their strategies. Some of the things they are doing, what has that got to do
with neo-colonialism? You arrive in a village you rape every child there, every
woman there - what has that got to do with British neo-colonialism? We are
dealing with a gang of rogues, thugs and criminals who will use any strategy to
cast aspersions on a loyal, democratic and opposition party.
Why have the southern African nations in SADC been so ineffective in this
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: The whole approach of the African Union and of the
SADC and indeed, of the black diaspora, with very few exceptions, has been one
of mind-boggling solidarity, regardless of the particular credentials of the
regime that they seek fellowship with. But also you must understand that
dictators are very much frightened of precedents. If you support the removal of
a dictator in one country you are setting a precedent and giving an example to
democratic forces in your own country to mobilize and gain more space for
Why, given the damage that the Zimbabwe situation has done to the South
African economy and to the hopes that the region might become an economic
powerhouse led by South Africa, has Mr Mbeki failed to get a grip on this
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: South Africa has been a major disappointment. There
is a fear of a 'demonstration effect'. If you look at the constituents of the
ANC, there is Cosatu [Confederation of South African Trade Unions], the SACP
[South African Communist Party], and the main ANC. For Cosatu, read ZCTU [the
Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions]: there is a real possibility of a
parting of ways between the ANC and Cosatu and the Communist Party. Mbeki is
afraid of the demonstration effect.
If a labour-based political party could mobilize opposition forces in
Zimbabwe, what would stop the same thing happening in South Africa? And in South
Africa it would be more effective because you have credible politicians who are
lurking in the wings - Winnie Mandela who has been alienated from the main ANC
politics, and the dark horse, Cyril Ramaphosa, with his very solid labour
credentials: so I think it is in Mbeki's interest that the alternative in the
offing in Zimbabwe is not viable - [the message being] "therefore, Cyril
Ramaphosa, Cosatu, Winnie Mandela - think again."
Can we go back to Mugabe's motives? There is a view that he wants to stay
in power and therefore this entire problem has been generated by his own
personal ambition. But is there more to it than that? Are there other
stake-holders in the army and elsewhere who stand to benefit from his victory
and are determined to keep him in power?
Mark Chavanduka: There's no doubt that the top ranks in the army have
benefited immensely from Mugabe's patronage, not least because of their
operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). You have a situation
where, as soon as they get into the DRC on military operations, the top brass of
the army make a beeline to go and concentrate on their private business
interests, so they are the people who are really benefiting from Mugabe's
patronage system. But having said that, we understand that the army has been
involved in political manoeuvres to seek assurances from the opposition that if
Mugabe leaves, his safety is guaranteed and there are no retributions against
him, so the army could continue to benefit, even under any other government. But
to say that they are forcing Mugabe to stay in power, I don't think so; they are
trying to secure sanctuary for him and having done that they are quite happy to
see him go because they too realize that he's become a liability not only to the
party, Zanu-PF, but to Zimbabwe as a whole.
So how can we explain his being so strong, if powerful blocs in the society
don't want to see him continue in office?
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: Well one thing we have to realize in the Mugabe
power scenario is that, for a long time now, the difference between ordinary
activities and crime has been very blurred and here we are not talking only
about economic crime, but ordinary crimes like murder, torture and other things.
So there are ministers in government who are really frightened about their
fortunes in a new political dispensation. A new government coming to power in
Zimbabwe might not necessarily pursue these people but that doesn't stop
civilians from seeking justice in the courts.
There are also issues of economic plunder and pillage. Some of the
ministers are extremely rich and it cannot be explained in terms of legitimate
means. They have so much money overseas that it doesn't tally with their
business activities at home and with their salary. So these are the fears that
they have. Mark has mentioned one minister who is afraid of tomorrow because he
has nowhere to run to; he cannot run in the region because they are waiting for
him; he cannot run here to the US because of what is being put in place in terms
of smart sanctions.
What we are beginning to see is that the elected lieutenants of Mugabe are
not now playing a leading role in putting strategies for his survival; it is the
non-elected [directly appointed] MPs who have been made ministers [without] any
democratic credentials; we are talking of the minister of information, of
agriculture, of justice; those are the people now with Mugabe's ear. They do not
have any other constituency except Mugabe himself and they remain in power at
There was an interesting article in the Financial Gazette saying Nigeria's
President Obasanjo was recently trying to arrange behind the scenes for a
guaranteed safe exit for Mugabe so that he could leave the country if he lost
the election. Is that plausible?
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: I think that the opposition has always had that
position, that they do not believe it will be in the interest of the country to
embark on politics of retribution and I think the leader of the opposition has
on several occasions been on record as saying that. The only difference is that
now he has approached the regional leaders and I know for certain he has written
to President Obasanjo undertaking that there will be no retribution, that
despite his soiled legacy, Mugabe still deserves some respect as the founding
prime minister and the founding president of Zimbabwe.
Assuming free and fair elections, most press reports say the outcome would
be very close. From that we have to assume that there is still a constituency
very supportive of Zanu-PF. What is the basis for that support?
Mark Chavanduka: I'm not so sure that I agree that Zanu-PF still have that
formidable level of support. Firstly there's going to be no free and fair
election; but if that were going to be possible, it would not be a tight race at
all. The vote would be overwhelmingly in favour of the opposition.
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: I think what you should also remember is that we
have had a dry run of the presidential election in which Mugabe lost - the
constitutional referendum. That's why Mugabe is now insisting that voting should
not be on the basis of a national constituency. He wants it to be on the basis
of parliamentary constituencies because he's realised that the strategy of
intimidation works if people are restricted to a particular parliamentary
That is the reason why the MDC is going to court challenging that; they
have won in the court of law, the High Court, but I think Zanu-PF is appealing
now to the Supreme Court because they do not want to abandon the constituency
approach to voting, even though in the past two presidential elections the whole
country was turned into one national constituency. If that [referendum] had been
a presidential election then Mugabe would have been out of power; they don't
want a repetition of that in this election.
I think there is a marked denudation of Mugabe's support in his traditional
stronghold, the rural areas. A piece of land does not mean anything to anybody
if there are no support services, if there is no health, no education. The cost
of living now in the rural areas is higher than in the urban areas! So you can
see, on the basis of that, there has been a spectacular erosion of the support
that Mugabe used to enjoy in the rural areas.
So it could be a close-shave election. If it is a close shave, the only
reason will be that Zanu-PF has opened all the floodgates to rig the election.
Of course this is what is happening; we're no longer talking about whether the
election will be free and fair but of the magnitude of rigging. It is a foregone
conclusion that the election is rigged; it stands rigged even before the first
ballot is cast.
What's happening in Matabeleland?
Mark Chavanduka:I think Matabeleland is suffering in the same way that
other provinces are. The Professor has [described elsewhere] the system of
command centers which have been set up at national level and then replicated in
all the provinces of the country. Basically these are structures which comprise
the army, the police, the Central Intelligence Organisation, Zanu-PF youths and
the militia. What they do is mobilize, through violence, support for Zanu-PF in
the forthcoming elections and they have been brutalizing people in all the areas
where the command structures are in place.
Matabeleland has not escaped that, so they are facing the same problem that
others are. I think Zanu-PF to a certain extent has lost hope [there] because
the people of Matabeleland were beaten up badly and killed during the time of
the Gukurahunde [the war of repression waged by the Zimbabwe army in
Matabeleland during the early '80s in which tens of thousands may have been
killed] and in the last parliamentary elections, those provinces emerged as the
strongest support bases for the MDC. So one would have thought that the
government would have given up on those areas as lost provinces - but no, they
have also been targeted for assault and intimidation.
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: What is happening on the ground in Zimbabwe now is
that, for the first time since independence, there is a recognized official
infrastructure of violence that permeates all the corners of the country - the
command centre system that he referred to. Orders are rapidly transmitted from
the command centre in Harare, in the shortest possible time. Why do we say that?
Because we have seen the simultaneous occurrence of similar events throughout
the country, like the closure of schools, for instance. One could only conclude
that these orders must have been transmitted from the same source.
In the past they used to use underground party structures to perpetrate
violence so that they could then afford plausible denial. That is gone. This
structure we are talking about is above board; it operates and is perceived to
be operating with chilling efficiency by everyone who cares to investigate its
permeation in society.
Apart from the command centre system, we are also talking of the deployment
of 18,000 soldiers in civilian clothes who are campaigning on behalf of the
ruling party. So we are seeing a militarisation of the campaign structure; what
is, in actual fact, in place are not civilian campaign structures but military
command structures. For the opposition to penetrate the rural areas it would
have to meet those structures with similarly militarized structures. And of
course you are describing a civil war if that happens.
So is the MDC preparing to respond in kind?
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: No, the MDC is not preparing for anything. Certainly
they don't have the resources and they don't believe in violent confrontation of
that nature. But of course, the patience of the ordinary civilians on the ground
is wearing thin. You know, they are beginning to organize now to resist so that
their neighbourhoods are not terrorized by these state-sponsored thugs. What I
am only saying is that if you want a free and fair campaign the military
structures have to be abandoned by the ruling party, otherwise the only way that
the MDC can penetrate is if it has military structures of the same nature, which
it does not have.
And presumably, you don't expect Zanu-PF to abandon those structures?
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: Oh no, the government is not going to abandon those
structures. They are going to ensure that they remain in place. The strategy is:
"Let's go ahead and win the election by whatever methods and then after that,
present the international community with a fait accompli: [they will] have to
deal with the government that is in place." I think that is their
Do you think smart sanctions will have any effect? And where are the assets
being held that will have to be frozen?
Mark Chavanduka: Definitely they will work. We have said that we prefer a
system with staggered implementation of sanctions, it is much better than
imposing blanket sanctions on Zimbabwe because, that way, you only serve to make
the circumstance of the ordinary Zimbabwean more difficult. But if they are
targeted at particular individuals...
Where the money is, is difficult to say - I wish I knew! - but a
substantial part of it must be in Europe and the US. But it's going to be a very
difficult task [to track it down] because a lot of it is hidden through various
shell companies and syndicates which could be very difficult to trace.
The Commonwealth's failure to suspend Zimbabwe at the foreign ministers
meeting in London: was it a surprise? A disappointment?
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: Well I think we're starting to realize that the
Commonwealth is a club that relies only on moral pressure, and they are very
quick to give exceptions and excuses to any country that seriously erodes and
abandons the values which they claim to be the basis of cooperation within the
Commonwealth. I think the Commonwealth is a toothless bulldog.
What do you want the US to do?
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: We have been trying to talk to anybody who would
listen. That does not mean standing on street corners and giving out pamphlets.
We were trying to look at opinion-makers within the establishment, the American
government and try, in the first place, to discover the extent to which our
perception of the problem is shared. From there we are trying to suggest ways in
which the US, together with the rest of the international community, could find
appropriate methods of engaging the Zimbabwean government to stop a catastrophe
that is likely to happen in the event of a contested election; that has been our
message. It is better, and less costly in terms of resources and human lives,
that the government be engaged this side of the presidential poll.
Will the media survive the onslaught of the new legislation?
Mark Chavanduka: It depends on how far they are willing to go. We have
already resolved to fight these laws where we can.
The latest example of one of their strategies is from yesterday [Jan 31,
2002]. We had three reporters arrested, one from The Standard and two from the
Daily News; what they do is arrest reporters on spurious allegations and then
they set long remand dates, so that papers and journalists might suffer
financially under the weight of the legal bills. Those are quite heavy for us;
for example after Ray [Choto] and I were arrested in 1999, our bill - which is
not yet completely paid off - is over two million Zimbabwe dollars [currently
US$36,000 although the Zimbabwe dollar has suffered a steep decline during the
past two years]. There is no way that we could pay that bill on our own, the
paper would have collapsed, so we got assistance from outside and we were able
to continue fighting the case.
The government, even when it brings a case against us and loses, pays for
it with taxpayers' money. We need funds to defend ourselves. But what they have
done is to make it a crime for papers to receive material or financial support
from outside to suffocate us financially.
We've decided on two things. One is to ignore the laws and continue
fighting as we've been doing; and two, we've decided to put in place mechanisms
to ensure that we can continue to receive external support. The government has
been totally dishonest on the question of foreign funding because they made
amendments to the Political Parties Finance Act to stop the opposition from
receiving funds from abroad, yet we know they are receiving millions of dollars
from Libya. So call it illegal or whatever, we are also putting in place our own
mechanisms to enable us to survive.
This is a very bleak vision. What do you see in the future for
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro: Well it is frightening... one can only see a deluge.
I don't think we're likely to experience any semblance of political normalcy. As
long as Mugabe will have stolen the election and declares himself the president
of Zimbabwe it will be a contested legitimacy. We are likely to see chronic
instability, untold suffering, substantial departure of skilled manpower; we are
likely to see the country being reduced to the level of peasant
You mentioned that by talking to us in this way, you may be committing a
crime in terms of the recent legislation. What do you think will happen when you
return to Zimbabwe? You've already had a confrontation of a very serious nature
with the security forces in the past.
Mark Chavanduka: Quite frankly, I'm not even thinking about what will
happen. If they are going to arrest us when we go back then so be it. But the
position that we have taken as independent editors is that we consider these
pieces of legislation as being illegal and therefore, to our thinking, they are
null and void.
We are going to continue doing our work as we have been doing, making sure
that we have done as many background checks [on our stories] as we can, as we
have always done, and basically that is the position we are going to take. I'm
not even going to waste time worrying myself about whether I'm going to be
arrested in Harare airport or not. We're dealing with a rogue regime and
anything could happen.
Letter to The Times
Pressure on Zimbabwe
FROM MR PETER NEAL
Sir, The Foreign Secretary is unhappy that African and Asian
nations have rejected Britain’s campaign to have Zimbabwe suspended from the
Commonwealth (report, January 31; see also letter, same day).
be drawn between the political relevance of the Commonwealth today and the
League of Nations in the 1930s. Failure to impose stringent economic sanctions
on Italy after her invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1935 played a major part
in undermining the League.
Like many others in Greater Manchester, I eagerly await the arrival of the
Commonwealth’s finest athletes in July. However, it seems as if the
self-interest of individual member states has always undermined the honourable
aims of such organisations.
51 Townfield Gardens,
Cheshire WA14 4DT. email@example.com
The Independent (UK)
Today, police will arrest me for a crime I didn't
Basildon Peta in Harare
04 February 2002
'Independent' journalist is harassed by Mugabe
Today, under threat of arrest for having taken part in a peaceful protest,
and against the advice of my family and friends who want me to stay away from
the madness in Zimbabwe, I am going to confront the police with a clear
I am aware that the situation has changed since I was last arrested and
hurled into the dimly-lit police rooms of Harare central police station three
Violence has increased, more government opponents have been killed or
injured, more draconian laws have been passed. But I go back knowing I have
committed no crime and do not deserve to spend a minute in police custody. If
anything happens to me while in custody, at least my family and sympathisers
will know who to hold responsible – President Robert Mugabe, his Information
Minister, Jonathan Moyo, and their security agents.
I was among the journalists in the press gallery of Zimbabwe's Parliament
on Thursday night witnessing Zimbabwe's democracy being undermined by passage of
one of the most draconian media laws seen anywhere.
As MPs voted to pass the bill, my sister-in-law called me to say four
policemen had called at my home. The police refused to say why they were looking
for me at such a late hour so I stayed away from home that night.
On Friday, the police pursued me at my office while I was out of Harare on
family business. I was not running away from them. There was no basis for me to
do so because I have never committed a crime. Later, one of the detectives, who
identified himself as Detective Sergeant Majange, found my number and ordered me
to report to the police station that night. He refused to say why.
On Saturday morning I sent my lawyer, Tawanda Hondora of Kantor and
Immerman Law Firm, to the police station on my behalf.
Mr Majange said he wanted to charge me with "illegally convening a
demonstration by journalists against the media bill on Wednesday afternoon
without police permission" in my capacity as secretary general of the Zimbabwe
Union of Journalists.
The detectives said the Public Order and Security Act, which was signed
into law by Mr Mugabe more than a week ago, banned demonstrations without police
Two opposition officials have already been charged under the Act. The
penalty is a two year jail term.
My lawyer told the officers that any such charge against me was illegal and
violated the constitutional right to freedom of assembly and expression.
But no sooner had my lawyer left the police station than detectives stormed
my home and confronted my sister-in-law. They ransacked the house searching the
wardrobes, the cupboards, the bathroom and underneath the bed. Officers even
questioned my frightened five-year-old nephew.
That day, I had began to celebrate, because, although Parliament had passed
the media law, Mr Mugabe, under pressure from the international community, had
signalled he did intended to bring it into force immediately.
But the clampdown on the media which had been anticipated was already
happening to myself and others without a legal basis.
Yesterday morning, my lawyer called at the police station again. The police
told him they would resume their hunt for me and they were scheduled to visit my
home late yesterday.
Mr Hondora later advised me that he saw no alternative for me but to
surrender to the police. He will accompany me to the police station today, but
says he cannot anticipate what will happen. My safety is no longer guaranteed
and I no longer feel secure.
This was emailed to me..... it does not all seem to ring true so I did a
bit of research and found the list on
One Vote - Please read and pass on
The document below is for all those who may think that they -
a) Do not need to vote; or b) Don't think their vote matters; or c)
to be away and out of the country for the elections Your vote
important and we need your vote - read on to see why.
Remember an 80% poll is better than a 20% poll because it is
difficult to rig a higher turn out at the polls.
Don't think that your vote does not count.
By only one vote
1645 Oliver Cromwell gained control of England.
By only one vote
1649 Charles 1 of England was executed.
By only one vote
1776 America was given the English Language instead of
By only one vote
1845 Texas was brought into the union By only one
1868 President Andrew Johnson was saved from Impeachment By only
1875 France was changed into a republic from a monarchy.
By only one vote
1876 Rutherford Hayes given U.S. presidency.
By only one vote
1933 Adolf Hitler given was control of Nazi
If you are eligible to vote but choose not
to exercise this democratic
right, and your favourite candidate loses by one
vote, would you be able
to live with
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 4 February
Tsvangirai pledges no witch hunt after poll
London/Mutare - Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, tried
to reassure the army and police yesterday that there would be no "witch hunt"
against them if he wins the presidency. Facing the possibility of a coup
launched by a cabal of generals, who have already publicly declared that they
will never accept him as president, Mr Tsvangirai made a determined effort to
head off this threat. At a rally launching his election campaign to unseat
President Robert Mugabe, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change went out of his way to reassure the security forces that their jobs would
be safe if he takes power. "There will be no more violence . . . There will be
no revenge, no one will indulge in a witch hunt," said Mr Tsvangirai. "After
we've won the elections and the results have been announced and I am
inaugurated, violence and anarchy will be a thing of the past . . . the MDC
won't create another police force, we will inherit this one." Mr Tsvangirai
ruled out a purge of senior army officers. "We will not create a new army. It is
a national institution. Those not prepared to serve could resign," he
Gen Vitalis Zvinavashe, the armed forces commander, declared last month
that the military would defend Mr Mugabe's hold on power, saying the "highest
office in the land is a straitjacket whose occupant must observe the objectives
of the liberation struggle". The general added: "We will therefore not accept,
let alone support or salute, anyone with a different agenda that threatens the
very existence of our sovereignty." In contrast with Mr Mugabe, who led the
largest guerrilla army fighting against white rule, Mr Tsvangirai did not fight
in the war of the 1970s. In an election campaign thick with anti-colonial
rhetoric, Mr Mugabe has repeatedly accused Mr Tsvangirai of being a traitor. Gen
Zvinavashe's words amounted to a thinly veiled threat of a military coup if Mr
Tsvangirai were to win the election.
In stark contrast to Mr Mugabe's carefully regimented and joyless rally
on Friday, an exuberant crowd of about 12,000 people turned out to cheer Mr
Tsvangirai in the border city of Mutare. Police made no effort to prevent Mr
Tsvangirai's gathering from taking place, although a road block caused long
delays. The crowds came of their own free will, singing spontaneously and
laughing loudly. There were no youths clad in paramilitary uniform – a regular
feature of Mr Mugabe's rallies - nor cries of "down with the whites". Two weeks
ago, a similar pre-election gathering in Bulawayo was broken up by police who
forced Mr Tsvangirai and his supporters to abandon the event. But Mr Mugabe is
coming under growing pressure from the European Union and America, which have
threatened to impose targeted sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his cronies,
including freezing their assets abroad and imposing a travel ban on them.
Mr Mugabe's regime sent some conciliatory signals at the weekend. Prof
Jonathan Moyo, the information minister, said his draconian media law, which
enshrines some of the world's strictest curbs on the press and would make it
impossible for journalists to work without state approval, may not come into
effect before the election on March 9 and 10. He told the Sunday Mail, an
official newspaper, that the law would be implemented "if and when the president
signs it". He added: "Practically speaking . . . preparing it for presentation
to the president might take a long time, even beyond the election." Observers
believe that he is using practical difficulties as a face-saving smokescreen for
delaying the adoption of his law, which has drawn a storm of international
The EU appears to be in no rush to force a confrontation with Mr
Mugabe. European foreign ministers said Zimbabwe must admit its election
observers by yesterday or face sanctions. But the European Commission admitted
yesterday that no EU observers were ready to travel. The advance team of six
officials would arrive only "in the coming week" and the full team will not be
active for some time. Yet the prospect of the EU imposing the threatened
sanctions on Mr Mugabe and his followers has receded. After their meeting last
Monday, EU foreign ministers announced yesterday as a deadline for the arrival
of the first election observers and threatened punitive measures if Mr Mugabe
obstructed them. One commission official said: "We are taking the Zimbabweans at
their word that they are prepared to admit international observers, including
those from the Union."
From The Times (UK), 4 February
Thousands rally to support Tsvangirai
Mutare - As soon as she was in the stadium Angeline Magamba reached
into her bag and pulled out a T-shirt with the big, open-hand symbol of the
Movement for Democratic Change and slipped it over her head. "I am afraid. If
the Zanu PF people catch me wearing this, I am for trouble," she said. "We are
not free." On Saturday night gangs of ruling party youths had been covering the
townships, telling people that if they went to the stadium in Sakubva township
in the morning there would be war. Yesterday saw Morgan Tsvangirai’s first big
rally of his campaign for the presidential elections on March 9-10 and, outside
this eastern city, vehicles queued for half a mile at a roadblock, where police
searched them painstakingly and demanded identity cards from every
For all those in the crowd of at least 12,000 people in the stadium,
reaching it had been an act of bravery. When Mr Tsvangirai, the MDC president,
appeared, the exultant roar of "chinja!" that greeted him was an outpouring of
desire for an end to the dread, hunger and poverty brought by President Mugabe.
Almost all had walked from the surrounding townships. On Friday last week,
dozens of government trucks managed to dragoon perhaps 8,000 people from the
Zanu PF heartland to Mr Mugabe’s first rally of the campaign. It was a
quasi-military operation in which every slogan and song was coerced and in which
the party and security force personnel controlling it exuded menace. "In the
last two years, Zanu PF has died," a veteran Zimbabwean journalist who had been
present said. "They have nothing but force left."
The contrast with Sakubva was absolute. The atmosphere at the
opposition’s rally was happy and relaxed, the crowd’s responses spontaneous.
Lydia Matibenga, the head of the MDC women’s league, introduced herself as "the
national chairperson of Mummy, Daddy and the children". "Hullo, Mutare," Mr
Tsvangirai, standing on the weed-strewn pitch, said through a battered,
bronchial public address system. Mr Mugabe speaks only from behind an enormous
lectern, part of a lorry-load of furniture that precedes him on the campaign
trail. When Mr Mugabe speaks, it is to promise free seed and fertiliser, as much
seized white-owned land as anyone wants and higher wages. He delivers bizarre
denunciations of British plots to overthrow him and hurls clumsy racist abuse
against Mr Tsvangirai, whom he refers to as "Tsvangison", the "black man who
masquerades as a white".
Mr Tsvangirai spoke of the restoration of the rule of law, followed by
"a new constitution to re-establish the dignity of parliament, the judiciary and
clearly respect the separation of powers". There were no lavish promises, but
warnings against violence, especially against Mr Mugabe’s militias after the
election. The threat by the country’s security chiefs three weeks ago that they
would not obey, let alone salute a leader who had not been part of the war
against white minority rule was calculated to inspire dread of a military coup
against victory by Mr Tsvangirai. His reply was blunt: "If an officer refuses to
salute the Commander-in-Chief (of the Armed Forces, a position assumed by
Zimbabwe’s President), then he has dismissed himself." He acknowledged the
likelihood that Zanu PF would attempt to rig the poll in 33 days’ time, but
argued that a large majority for him would secure victory. "The election is
going to be won or lost on the basis of turnout," he said. "We must all go and
vote, because at the end of the day, let not the future generations accuse us of
being negligent and allowing a dictator to destroy the country in our
From The Globe and Mail (Canada), 2 February
Zimbabwe’s music sings the message of dissidents
Harare - It is 8 p.m. and the trendy Book Cafe, haunt of Harare's
creative set, is buzzing. The beer is flowing, and the talk around rickety
tables is ever more animated as people try to shrug off the cares of a country
in crisis. "Don't worry; it's safe here," said one human-rights activist who is
on the run from the police. His eyes searched the dim room for signs of trouble.
Others in the crowd are dragged back to reality when the singer's words turn
from the tribulations of love to those of a country speeding ever further along
the road to repression. This protest music has been banned from the airwaves of
state-owned media, which dominates what most Zimbabweans hear on radio and see
Zimbabwean artists are as skittish as opposition activists and
journalists, who are being harassed and arrested under new laws designed to
quell discontent before next month's presidential election. Thomas Mapfumo's new
album, Chimurenga Rebel, which he describes as "a true reflection of what is
happening," has been banned from the airwaves of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp.
Though he is one of the country's most popular musicians, he now lives in North
America. Broadcasters are shunning other works of music and drama. Maxwell
Sibanda, entertainment editor of the independent Daily News, says they seem to
have "shut out protest music and drama altogether." Despite the lack of media
exposure, protest plays are still being staged and protest music is still being
heard. Mr. Sibanda said that being banned, in fact, can make artists more
popular. "People actively seek them out, and their music is played live and in
bars and beer halls."
At a roadside bar north of Harare, people sing along to the songs of
Oliver Mtukudzi, a hugely popular musician with 41 albums to his credit. Though
he takes care to distance himself from politics, his work is increasingly
political. His most recent album was called Bvuma (Tolerance), and one being
released this month is titled Uhunze Moto (Burning Ember); its cover art shows
his face against a map of a country engulfed in flames. "What will be the end of
all this?" he asks in one song about people who abuse power and riches at the
expense of the weak and poor. In another, he warns people never to turn their
backs on flames; even embers that warm can turn into "fire that consumes
The Zimbabwean government has long been intolerant of criticism, but
since winning just a narrow victory in the general election in 2000, President
Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party have clamped down harder and harder
on free expression. Many Zimbabweans want their musicians to take a stronger
political stand against the growing repression. People like Mr. Sibanda believe
other artists should speak out more strongly. "There is an element of fear in
people's reluctance to do so, although musicians here are used to speaking in
riddles, their words carrying hidden meanings that people understand but which
aren't explicitly critical," he told The Independent newspaper. "Many of us
believe musicians should be more direct in telling it like it is. . . . If our
musicians sing about society, then surely there is no way they can avoid
political matters. They should be social and political commentators too." Others
see the musician's role as one of uniting people and pointing them subtly toward
a better society. "It is not good for artists to sing songs that divide people,"
said one music-industry insider, who asked not to be named. "And what is the
benefit in being banned?"