Trymore Midzi's family are in hiding in
Lewis Machipisa in Harare reports on one family's
experience of political violence in Zimbabwe.
Trymore Midzi was last seen by his mother early in the evening on 20
December, when he told her he was going back to his house
My son was found unconscious in a vegetable garden
stark naked the next morning
The 24-year-old opposition activist lived in Bindura, some 90km north of the
capital, Harare, which is a ruling party stronghold.
"Around 2100 that same night, some people came and said our son had been
abducted. We went to report to the police but they did not help us," his mother
"My son was found unconscious in a vegetable garden stark naked the next
morning with deep cuts all over his body and bleeding," explained the mother,
trying to hold back her tears.
Her husband, a former police officer, takes over the story.
"When we arrived he managed to talk and told us who had beaten him. He told
us they were Zanu-PF youths and trainees of the national service training
scheme. We rushed him to Avenues Hospital in Harare where he later died.
"What surprised us is that the security officers took our son's body from the
mortuary without our permission," said the father.
"We managed to bury our son but when we went to his grave the next morning at
around 0730 we were attacked by a mob of Zanu-PF supporters."
Running for our lives
He said they were carrying iron bars, spears and axes and started chasing
"They were saying they wanted to kill us. One said they
wanted to kill me and my other son because of Trymore's support for the
opposition. They said they would kill my whole family.
If they have killed him like they killed my son, they
should tell us so that we can bury him properly
"How the 11 of us managed to escape is still God's secret. I am only alive
because I managed to outrun the attackers."
Unfortunately, he believed his brother-in-law, Moffat Chivaura, was not so
Ruling party supporters are blamed for abducting
African pressure seen too weak to move
BLANTYRE, Malawi, Jan. 15 — ''Too
little, too late'' was how analysts on Tuesday portrayed Africa's pressure on
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to ease the political crisis gripping his
country and affecting its neighbours.
Leaders of the Southern African
Development Community left Monday's summit in Malawi with assurances from Mugabe
that presidential elections on March 9-10 will be fair.
Analysts, however, said the commitments
were typically vague and it would be left to the United States and the European
Union to try to bring about change in Zimbabwe through the threat of sanctions.
''Mugabe realised he will not lose much
by giving SADC these promises because they are worded in a manner that allows
double interpretation and he will...choose the interpretation that suits his
interests,'' said Elphas Mukonoweshuro, a University of Zimbabwe political
Westerners wanted South
Africa, Zimbabwe's southern neighbour and the regional powerhouse, to lead from
Those hopes were dashed when
South Africa's delegation in Blantyre said it backed ''quiet diplomacy.''
communique late on Monday said Mugabe had agreed to allow independent election
observers and foreign journalists to cover the polls -- although parliament was
set on Tuesday to debate a law banning foreign correspondents from the country.
The 77-year-old president, who has led
Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, also assured the SADC that he
would investigate and act against cases of political violence.
There was even a promise to remove
self-styled war veterans from white-owned farms not targeted for seizure by the
government under its controversial land resettlement programme.
But Mugabe's doubters were unconvinced.
''Mugabe also realised that the
promises he was making allowed everybody at the summit to go home with some
dignity... that he had escaped without a damning and embarrassing statement from
his colleagues,'' Mukonoweshuro said.
Mugabe's pledges came as rights group Amnesty International warned of civil war
if the opposition is repressed.
this month the ruling ZANU-PF party has tightened the presidential grip by
passing two laws on public order and electoral rules. On Tuesday the government
was due to table in parliament the media bill Western governments have
''OLD BOYS' CLUB''
Analysts said the 14-nation SADC, which
did not consider calls for sanctions against Zimbabwe, lacked the collective
political will to enforce Mugabe's commitments.
Wisdom Malongo, a rights activist at
Malawi's Nkhomano Centre for Development, said the SADC was acting more like an
old boys' club.
''In the end it's going
to look like a dictators' club where people will attend to the issues in a way
that's not seen as threatening Mugabe's political office,'' he said.
Analysts pointed to Mugabe's record on
Last September in
talks with Britain brokered by Nigeria, he promised to end the violent seizure
But this has barely been
implemented on the ground with Mugabe saying his government is acting within
Bakili Muluzi, the SADC chairman, said the group had not debated sanctions
because it believed Mugabe.
executive secretary Prega Ramsamy on Tuesday said he noted ''a lot of sincerity
on Zimbabwe's part.''
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who wants South Africa to impose selective
sanctions, has accused the SADC of ''double standards and hypocrisy'' in its
dealings with Mugabe.
Analysts say a
tradition of solidarity in the face of Western criticism has undermined the
ZIMBABWEANS COULD DO
A senior African diplomat said
Mugabe had taken advantage of the lack of a coherent strategy inside the SADC
and of a view within the South African government that Zimbabweans were not
doing enough to tackle their own crisis.
''There is a feeling in South Africa
that the political forces in Zimbabwe have not taken a strong enough stance
against President Mugabe, and there is a danger of being out of tune,'' the
But pressure from
outside Africa is growing daily.
15-member EU has threatened sanctions unless Zimbabwe halts political violence,
removes curbs on the media and allows free and fair elections.
The tone of statements on Zimbabwe
coming out of the U.S. State Department is strengthening sharply.
On Tuesday London's Financial Times
reported that Britain and the United States were seeking to locate millions of
dollars thought to have been deposited abroad by Mugabe.
It said the move was in preparation for
a possible decision by Washington and the EU to impose personal ''smart''
sanctions on Mugabe and leading members of his government.
The opposition has long advocated such
penalties, involving freezing bank accounts and refusing visas. There was no
immediate response to the report from Zimbabwe's government.
Some key members of the Commonwealth
group of nations want Zimbabwe suspended before heads of government meet in
Australia in early March, just ahead of the elections.
U.S. Official Arrives In Zimbabwe
Tuesday January 15, 2002 4:40 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - The State Department's top human rights
official arrived in Zimbabwe on Tuesday as ruling party lawmakers debated a
series of measures designed to crack down on dissent.
Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner was to meet with government
officials as well as community and business leaders, U.S. Embassy spokesman
Bruce Wharton said.
Instability in Zimbabwe could have repercussions for all of southern
Africa, he said.
``His trip demonstrates the U.S. government's continuing concern about
respect for human rights in Zimbabwe and our desire to assist in preparing for
free, fair and peaceful presidential elections,'' Wharton said.
President Robert Mugabe, who is fighting his political survival, has
clamped down on the opposition through legislation and government-sanctioned
Two bills pushed through Parliament last week give the police sweeping
powers of arrest and seizure ahead of the elections and limit independent
Lawmakers also were scheduled to debate a bill banning foreign journalists
from the country and requiring local journalists to register with the government
or face up to two years in jail.
The session was adjourned Tuesday before discussion of the so-called media
law, with most of the debate focusing on a bill aimed at eliminating dissent
within Zimbabwe's powerful trade unions.
Mugabe sees the trade unions as a threat. Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change and Mugabe's most formidable challenge
in the March elections, is a former trade union organizer. Unions were a major
force in creating his party.
The media bill, which is expected to come up for debate Wednesday, would
muzzle the independent press in Zimbabwe.
David Coltart, a high-ranking member of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, said opposition lawmakers in Parliament would fight the
Zimbabwe's crumbling democracy has sparked concern throughout Africa and
the international community.
In the latest violence, opposition lawmaker David Mpala was wounded
critically after 20 ruling party militants attacked him and slit his abdomen,
opposition officials said Tuesday.
Police were investigating the attack in Lupane, 280 miles west of Harare. A
spokesman said the assailants were unknown and Mpala could have been the victim
of a carjacking.
Opposition spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said the attack was politically
Ruling party militants also beat and seriously injured a 53-year-old white
farmer in Mutoroshanga, 56 miles north of Harare, neighbors said Monday.
Meanwhile, police said two Movement for Democratic Change activists were
arrested for attacking ruling party youths with logs and axes in Nkayi, 161
miles southwest of Harare.
The incidents followed a weekend of unrest in which an opposition party
office was burned down and several party activists were injured critically after
being beaten by ruling party militants, opposition officials said.
Last week, government-backed militants embarked on a fresh looting campaign
of white-owned farms, forcing 23 landowners from their homes.
Mugabe said he has begun a legitimate campaign of land reform, working to
distribute farms to landless blacks. But his opponents and human rights groups
say he is sanctioning violent land seizures to gain support ahead of elections.
Zimbabwe media bill absent from parliament
HARARE, Jan. 15 — Zimbabwe's tough
new media bill was unexpectedly left off a list of items to be discussed in
parliament on Tuesday, but may still be debated on Wednesday, the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said.
''The Access to Information
and Privacy Bill is not on the order paper today and indications are that for
some reason they don't want to bring it up today. It will probably be
tomorrow,'' MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe told Reuters.
Government officials were unavailable
The proposed law is
expected to bar foreign journalists from working in Zimbabwe.
Local journalists could face two years
in prison if they breach a planned code of conduct that outlaws reports which
sow ''alarm and despondency.''
reporters and owners of media organisations would have to register with a
government-appointed body or risk the same penalty.
The United States, European Union and
numerous media groups have blasted the proposed law as another step by President
Robert Mugabe to tighten his 22-year-old grip on power ahead of presidential
elections on March 9-10.
Britain says talk of Mugabe asset freeze
LONDON, Jan. 15 — Britain said
on Tuesday it was too early to talk of freezing Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe's assets abroad as diplomatic moves to ensure free elections and ease
political violence there continue.
The Financial Times had earlier
said Britain and the United States were taking steps to identify millions of
dollars Mugabe and his circle may have deposited abroad, in case the West
imposes personal sanctions on Zimbabwe's leaders.
Responding to the newspaper article,
Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said:
''The reports on that are premature.
The important thing is that we continue to take all diplomatic and political
action that we can, and we are continuing to do that.''
Britain also said on Tuesday it would
stop repatriating Zimbabweans whose applications for political asylum had been
rejected. Some domestic and international critics had said London was being
two-faced by leading criticism of Zimbabwe's government while telling refugees
it was safe to go back home.
decided to suspend removals of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe until after the
elections are held in March,'' Home Secretary David Blunkett said, referring to
a presidential election in Zimbabwe scheduled for March 9 and 10.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said
Britain would act over Zimbabwe in conjunction not only with the United States
but with its European Union and Commonwealth allies.
''The UK is working closely with its EU
and Commonwealth partners on a joint approach to Zimbabwe which reflects our
shared concerns,'' the spokesman said. The Commonwealth groups Britain and 53
other states that are mostly its former colonies.
''The United States and other
international partners share our concerns and are applying pressure in their own
The Financial Times said possible
personal sanctions could involve freezing bank accounts and refusing visas so
that Mugabe and his senior ministers could not visit Western countries.
Some estimates put the sums allegedly
salted away in foreign bank accounts at hundreds of millions of dollars but
London and Washington have no accurate figure yet, the newspaper said.
EU officials held talks in Brussels on
Friday with a Zimbabwean delegation following widespread concern over the
southern African country's human rights record.
The EU threatened sanctions unless
Zimbabwe halted political violence, removed curbs on the media and allowed free
and fair presidential elections.
pledged on Monday that the poll would be fair and that independent observers and
foreign journalists could cover it, African leaders at a summit in Malawi said.
Seeking to extend his 21-year grip on
power in the elections, Mugabe last week forced through tough laws banning
independent election monitors, outlawing criticism and denying voting rights to
millions of Zimbabweans abroad.
Zimbabwe has been embroiled in a two-year round of violent land seizures by
black veterans of the 1970s war against white rule who have occupied white farms
to redress what they see as lingering colonial injustice.
Blunkett halts Zimbabwean repatriation
Matthew Tempest, political correspondent
Tuesday January 15, 2002
The repatriation of rejected asylum seekers from Zimbabwe is to be
suspended, David Blunkett announced today.
The home secretary said the
decision takes immediate effect, and will last until at least after the
The move comes after sustained pressure from his opposite numbers, Oliver
Letwin and Simon Hughes, joined forces to appeal to the home secretary after
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, imposed tough sanctions on opposition
parties, and criminalised criticism of himself in the media.
Mr Blunkett said: "Because of the worsening situation and because I think
it's right to review the position over the weeks ahead I have taken the decision
we will suspend the rules until after the general election in Zimbabwe.
"Above all this is a fluid situation. I hope that this pause will enable us
to do an evaluation better and it will lessen the tensions of those who
genuinely fear a return to that regime."
Opponents of Mr Mugabe within the UK had pointed out that the official Home
Office assessment of the political situation in Zimbabwe had not changed since
October, despite the detriorating situation in the country.
The Movement for Democaratic Change had been particularly
However, Mr Blunkett denied acting because "Simon Hughes was getting his
knickers in a twist".
This is a victory for common sense," said Mr Letwin. "The situation in
Zimbabwe is serious, and this is clearly not the time to be deporting opposition
politicians back there. We are grateful to Mr Blunkett for the constructive way
he responded to the points we have been making." The move comes after a
temporary 24-hour suspension was announced last night following international
concern for supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition politicians.
Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 16:29 GMT
Mugabe given list of election
Mr Mugabe was given some frank
By Elizabeth Blunt in Malawi
A special summit meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
has ended with Zimbabwe being given a list of actions it has to take to reduce
political tension in the approach to March's presidential elections.
Neighbouring countries had expressed concern that this tension, and
Zimbabwe's economic decline, were beginning to affect the whole region.
For eight hours the presidents of 14 southern African
nations were closeted behind closed doors, a small enough group for frank
speaking on the region's problems.
The summit expressed serious concern on the statement
made by the Zimbabwe army on the outcome of the election
About half-an-hour before the end, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe came
When the final communiqué was issued it was clear that President Mugabe's
fellow presidents had given him a long list of actions his government had to
- Guarantee freedom of speech and association
- Investigate fully all cases of political violence
- Accredit local election monitors and foreign observers
- Allow both local and foreign journalists to cover the polls
As the communiqué was read out, it became clear that the meeting had been
very critical of some recent developments in Zimbabwe.
"The summit expressed serious concern on the statement made by the Zimbabwe
army on the outcome of the election and urged the government of Zimbabwe to
ensure that, in accordance with the multi-party political dispensation prevalent
in SADC, political statements are not made by the military but by political
leaders," the statement said.
But would Zimbabwe really do all this?
At the press conference after the summit, its chairman, Malawi's President
Bakili Muluzi, was asked what would happen if Zimbabwe did not comply.
"Let us give Zimbabwe a chance," he said.
Mr Muluzi: Let us wait and
"They have made a commitment to us, as SADC, and President Mugabe assured us
several times that he would like to have free and fair elections. So we believe
that there will be free and fair elections.
"So let us wait and see. I can assure you that all of us will take an
interest to make sure that whatever has been promised is adhered to," President
As Mr Mugabe left the summit he seemed confident enough, assuring journalists
that it was his arch enemy Britain, and not Zimbabwe, that had come in for
In fact President Mugabe did score one point - over a new radio station,
Radio Africa, which started broadcasting to Zimbabwe out of London just before
"The summit noted
with concern the negative reporting by certain sections of the media in Zimbabwe
and appealed to them to be objective," the SADC executive secretary said.
We would like to encourage, if anything, some dialogue
between Britain and Zimbabwe
Malawi's President Muluzi
"The summit expressed grave concern over the fact that some western countries
have authorised the broadcasting from their territories by their nationals of
hostile and inciting propaganda against the Government of the Republic of
"The summit called upon those countries to desist from such actions."
President Muluzi declined to get involved in the war of words which has been
going on between Britain and Zimbabwe. But he did recommend that both sides be
prepared to talk.
"We would like to encourage, if anything, some dialogue between Britain and
Zimbabwe so that they can start speaking to one another.
"It's difficult when you don't have a dialogue between parties and when you
don't discuss issues and one hopes that one day, you know, President Mugabe and
Prime Minister Blair will sit down and talk over things and discuss," he said.
Brussels, 11 January 2002
CONSULTATIONS WITH THE ACP SIDE CONCERNING ZIMBABWE PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 96
OF THE COTONOU AGREEMENT
On 11 January 2002 the European Union opened consultations with the ACP side
on the situation in Zimbabwe, in accordance with the procedure laid down in
Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.
These consultations were held against the background of the deep
concern by the European Union about the poor human rights situation in
Zimbabwe, in particular since early 2000 and about the prevailing climate of
violence and intimidation and the apparent impunity with which crimes have
been and continue to be perpetrated. The harassment of the opposition,
especially in the run up to the 2002 presidential elections, the
intimidation of the judiciary, limitations to the right to freedom of
expression for all,
including the press and illegal farm occupations are also a matter of
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dr. I.S.G. Mudenge, led the delegation
of Zimbabwe. In the light of the provisions on respect of human rights,
democratic principles and the rule of law contained in Art. 9 (2) of
the Cotonou Agreement, and pursuant to Art. 96 of that Agreement, the
entering into consultations with Zimbabwe and the ACP party was decided on
29 October 2001.
The consultations took place with the participation of a number of SADC
countries, which play an important role in the process. The EU stated
its concerns in the following areas:
- political violence;
- free and fair elections; election observation;
- freedom of the media;
- independence of the judiciary;
- illegal occupation of properties.
The Zimbabwean authorities expressed a willingness to go some way
towards meeting the EU concerns with concrete actions on the following
- Full respect for human rights, including the right to freedom of opinion,
- peaceful assembly, for all individuals;
- Commitment to investigate fully and impartially all cases of alleged
political violence in the year 2001, and action to do so (see report
prepared by Commission of Police);
- Considering agreement and promotion of a code of conduct for
political parties before the presidential election campaign;
- Taking note of the proposal to set up a bi-partisan Parliamentary
Committee to promote inclusive political dialogue (proposed by SADC
Heads on 10-11 September);
- A Zimbabwean Electoral Supervisory Commission, which is adequately
resourced and able to operate independently;
- The accreditation and registration of national independent monitors
in good time for the election;
- A timely invitation to and accreditation of a wide range of international
- Commitment to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution
- Zimbabwe reaffirms its practice of allowing journalists, both
and international to cover important national events, including elections
on the basis of its laws and regulations;
- The Government of Zimbabwe is committed to the independence of the
judiciary and to the rule of law;
- For farms that are not designated, the transfer of occupiers to legally
acquired lands by the Government of Zimbabwe.
At this stage the EU is not satisfied that its concerns will be met; it
needs more precision on these commitments. It also needs to see concrete
actions. The EU insisted particularly on the following two immediate
actions to be taken by the Zimbabwean authorities:
- invitation and accreditation of international observers, including
from the EU, at least six weeks before the elections;
- full access to national and international media.
The EU asked the Zimbabwean government to send a letter to the
President of the Council of the EU within a week, detailing its actions on
points covered by the discussion.
The EU Heads of Mission in Harare are invited to report urgently on the
progress made in view of an assessment by the General Affairs Council on 28
January 2002. The EU will follow closely further developments in
Zimbabwe through the continuing of its dialogue and regular contacts in
order to appreciate the evolution of the situation.
Visit the CFU Website www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
The opinions in this message do not necessarily reflect those of the
Commercial Farmers' Union which does not accept any legal responsibility for
MPs Forge Ahead With Draconian Laws
Integrated Regional Information Networks
January 15, 2002
Posted to the web January 15, 2002
Zimbabwean MPs spent hours on Tuesday discussing a labour bill which
will limit the right to strike, but did not discuss a controversial media bill
aimed at drastically curbing press freedom.
Independent Journalists Association president Abel Mutsakani told IRIN the
bill - which will censor the independent press, ban foreign journalists from
working in the country and compel local journalists to register with the
government or face jail - was expected to be discussed in parliament on
The new laws go before parliament after President Robert Mugabe promised
leaders at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Malawi on
Monday that he and his ruling ZANU-PF party would ensure free and fair
presidential elections on 9 and 10 March, as well as allow foreign election
In turn, SADC and Malawian president Bakili Muluzi said after the summit in
Blantyre that the regional body accepted Mugabe's pledges. However, Mugabe's
critics back home refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"SADC is fast becoming irrelevant to most Zimbabweans ... He (Mugabe) has
done and said these things before," Mutsakani said. "Given the fact that it is
clear that the so-called quiet diplomacy by South African President Thabo Mbeki
or by SADC will not move Mugabe in any way, we expected SADC to take specific
and effective action to force Mugabe to abandon his undemocratic policies," he
Kwezi Mngqibisa, head of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution
of Disputes (ACCORD) peacekeeping programme, told IRIN that events at the Monday
summit indicated the regional bloc wanted to show Mugabe their support - in the
hope that it would extract certain concessions from him.
"SADC has resisted moves to support sanctions and isolate Zimbabwe. So in
turn, they will expect some concessions, like allowing some measure of election
observers," he said.
According to Mngqibisa, SADC's lack of unity on how to deal with Mugabe
stemmed from fear that "the situation in Zimbabwe could play itself out in their
own countries". "They are concerned about the precedent any action they may take
will set," he said, and for any SADC action to work, it would need the support
of all members.
Nonetheless, he said, from a conflict resolution perspective, the SADC
summit may yet yield results. "Some of the most critical moves in resolving any
conflict are not necessarily in public statements. They (SADC) leaders will not
do that (make strong public statements) if they do not think it will have the
However, as SADC waits to see if Mugabe keeps his promises this time
around, Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has urged
South Africa to cut electricity and fuel supplies to the country to force
The Zimbabwe News Agency quoted MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as telling BBC
on Tuesday that SADC leaders who met in Malawi were "hypocritical". He said
South Africa had the capacity to send the "right" signals to Mugabe, the report
"The threat to undermine the elections by the military, by President Robert
Mugabe himself, should actually send shock waves to South Africa and they should
say under those circumstances, we are going to cut fuel, we are going to cut
transport links," Tsvangirai was quoted as saying. South Africa, however, has so
far rejected all calls for sanctions against Harare.
In other developments, AP reported that a top United States State
Department official arrived in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to help ensure free elections
in March. News reports also said that Britain had frozen the deportation of
Zimbabwean refugees and was - along with the United States - starting to hunt
down the foreign bank accounts of Mugabe and other ZANU-PF lawmakers with a view
to freezing their monies.
At the same time, political violence has continued unabated in Zimbabwe. AP
reported on Tuesday that in the latest case David Mpala, an opposition lawmaker,
was critically wounded after 20 ruling party militants attacked him and slit his
abdomen. Police said they were investigating the incident. Police also said MDC
activists were arrested for attacking a group of ruling party youths with logs
and axes in Nkayi, 260 km southwest of Harare, the report said.
Harare Does Not Pass Legitimacy Test
Business Day (Johannesburg)
January 15, 2002
THE pseudo-democratic legitimacy of the Zimbabwean government is
clearly delaying the Commonwealth's decision on whether to punish it for its
actions and eject it from the organisation.
Business Day points out (January 11 ) that no democratically elected
government has ever had its membership suspended.
However, in light of the gross violations of the country's legal system
passing the electoral amendments and statutes relating to free expression
perhaps it is now time to remember the words of the philosopher Ayn Rand.
She noted that a dictatorship could be identified by four characteristics
one-party rule, execution without trial, expropriation of property, and
She states: "So long as men can speak and write freely, so long as there is
no censorship, they still have a chance to reform their society or to put it on
a better road".
Unfortunately for the people of Zimbabwe, it looks like their government
has finally denied them even that right. The Commonwealth now has ample evidence
that democracy in Zimbabwe is a sham and should suspend membership