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200 seek refuge at U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe

Houston Chronicle

July 3, 2008, 1:39PM

Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - About 200 Zimbabwe opposition supporters sought
refuge today at the U.S. Embassy in Harare amid new reports of violence
against dissenters.

Loyalists of President Robert Mugabe, whose unopposed re-election last week
was scorned by world leaders, have attacked supporters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.

Widespread state-sponsored violence had led the party's leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, to pull out of the presidential runoff, leaving the June 27 race
to Mugabe.

Today, people with small bundles of possessions milled outside the U.S.
mission in the Zimbabwe capital. Riot police appeared there, but police
spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said they were at the scene only briefly.

U.S. Ambassador James McGee said the group was from the opposition
headquarters in Harare, which had become a refuge. He said by telephone that
embassy officials were working with humanitarian organizations to find
accommodation for the group.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said embassy
staff did not see the group as a security risk and that they were outside
the building's security perimeter.

More than 300 opposition supporters who last week sought refuge at the South
African Embassy in Harare have been taken to a camp outside the capital.

Reports of violence and intimidation against opposition supporters have

"There has been a high increase in abductions, beatings and rapes since
ZANU-PF claimed it had won the 'election' with a resounding victory," the
opposition said in a statement.

At least 80 opposition supporters were killed before the runoff, and the
opposition says more than 10 have been killed since.

A group of armed men in army uniforms abducted opposition lawmaker-elect
Naison Nemadziva at gunpoint on Monday and his whereabouts was still
unknown, an opposition statement said.

Nemadziva defeated a member of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party in the first round of
voting on March 29. He was seized outside the courtroom where a hearing had
been scheduled in his opponent's challenge of the election.

Also today, two woman activists were freed after nearly six weeks in prison.

Spokeswoman Annie Sibanda of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise said the
activists Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were granted bail today.

The two were arrested in Harare on May 28 after holding a peaceful protest
and have been charged with disturbing the peace and publishing statements
prejudicial to the state.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice honored Williams last year with an
International Women of Courage Award.

"I am very happy to be out," Williams said. "I woke early this morning
wondering if by evening I would be in my own bed or back in a prison cell."

Elsewhere in Zimbabwe, a group of thugs invaded the Imire Safari Ranch, a
designated black rhino breeding area 90 miles (150 kilometers) northeast of
Harare, the ranch owner said. The ranch has had previous problems with

John Travers said six men invaded the ranch Sunday, threatened to harm him
unless he left, and forced him to shoot three impala for the men to eat.

Traver said another group of men arrived Wednesday night and threatened to
kill him and his wife if the two did not leave by this morning. Both were
still at the ranch, also home to elephant, hyenas and buffalo, today. The
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority could not immediately be
reached, but Travers said he had contacted them and was "very confident"
that they would respond.

On Wednesday, the United States and the European Union said opposition
leader Tsvangirai should be Zimbabwe's next leader, but Mugabe has shown
little sign of yielding any power.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe and three others in the first round of presidential
voting in March. Electoral officials said Tsvangirai did not take the simple
majority needed to avoid a runoff against second-place finisher Mugabe.

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Zimbabwe opposition lawmaker missing: colleague

Yahoo News

19 minutes ago

HARARE (AFP) - A Zimbabwe opposition lawmaker is missing after being
abducted outside a court where he attended a hearing in which his victory in
March general elections was being challenged, a fellow MP said Thursday.

Pishayi Muchauraya, a fellow lawmaker and provincial party spokesman said
Naison Nemadziva, the newly-elected member of parliament for a constituency
in Buhera, southeast of the capital, was bundled into an unmarked twin-cab
truck at gunpoint during a mid-morning court adjournment.

"He has been missing since Tuesday after he was abducted at the high court
as he walked out during a court break," Muchauraya told AFP.

"He had come to court as a respondent in the petition in which (war veteran)
Joseph Chinotimba is challenging his victory. His whereabouts are still
unknown," Muchauraya said.

"We have searched everywhere we could. We checked at all the police stations
and they say they don't have him in their custody and they did not give
anyone instructions to arrest him."

Police could not be reached for comment.

The MDC's leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of a presidential run-off
election last week citing violence against his supporters. The party says at
least 90 of them have been killed in violence which broke out following
general elections on March 29.

The opposition party won a parliamentary majority in that first round
election -- the first time an opposition party beat President Robert
Mugabe's party since independence 28 years ago.

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Zambia's Mwanawasa dies

July 3, 2008

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa died in a Paris
hospital on Thursday after suffering a stroke earlier this week, South
Africa's Talk Radio 702 reported, quoting a Zambian High Commission

Officials in Lusaka had no immediate comment.

Mwanawasa, 59, was rushed to hospital on Sunday in the Egyptian resort of
Sharm el-Sheikh after suffering a stroke just before an African Union
summit. He was later transferred to Paris for treatment.

"He passed on this morning," Malone Zaza, identified as the high commission
spokesman, told the radio.

Mwanawasa chaired the Southern African Development Community, which has been
mediating between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition to try to end a
political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

The Zambian leader is a favourite of the International Monetary Fund and
other Western donors, who extended billions of dollars in debt relief after
he cracked down on government spending and launched an anti-graft drive.

He suffered a mild stroke in 2006 but said before being re-elected that year
that he was fit to stand for office.

A Zimbabwe Times correspondent in Harare reports there was now confusion
over the story about Mwanawasa's death. Deputy President Rupiah Banda had
issued a statement saying he was not dead.

The embassy spokesman in Harare had refused to take questions. Sources in
the embassy had, however, confirmed privately that the Zambian president
had, indeed, died.

Radio 702, the radio station which broke the story, had said it was sticking
by the story. They had checked again with Malone Zaza, identified as the SA
high commission spokesman in Pretoria, and he had confirmed Mwanawasa was

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Zambia and France deny Mwanawasa death rumours

By Lance Guma
03 July 2008

Zambia's chief government spokesman Mike Mulongoti has denied South African
media reports that President Levy Mwanawasa had died in a French hospital
Thursday. He insisted Mwanawasa was 'alive and stable' in a Paris hospital
and that 'the stories (about his death) are coming from South Africa and
have now spread to the rest of the world.' Mulongoti appealed to the media
in South Africa 'to restrain themselves as they are causing anguish and pain
to the Zambian people.' He also denied reports that meetings between senior
army and government officials were related to the reported death, saying
'these are normal briefings and its government business as usual.'

On Sunday Mwanawasa suffered a stroke in Egypt, ahead of the African Union
summit. He was later transferred to the Percy military hospital in Paris. On
Thursday South Africa's Radio 702, quoting a spokesman at the Zambian High
Commission, reported that he had died. Radio 702 quoted the head of
protocol, Malone Zaza, at the High Commission, but Zambian officials
insisted no-one by that name is employed there. The French Foreign Ministry
has also denied reports of Mwanawasa's death, although they declined to
comment on his health. The story picked up steam when South African
president Thabo Mbeki also announced Mwanawasa's death at a ceremony in
Pretoria on Thursday.

The news, if true, would be a bitter blow to millions of suffering
Zimbabweans who looked up to Mwanawasa as one of the few remaining bold
African leaders capable of standing up to Mugabe. As chairman of the
Southern African Development Community, Mwanawasa broke with tradition when
he criticized Mugabe for the crisis in the country. In March 2007 he likened
Zimbabwe to a sinking titanic, where it's citizens were fleeing like
passengers jumping off a ship to save their lives. He branded South Africa's
policy of 'quiet diplomacy' as a failure and called for tougher action. He
accused Mbeki of denying him information as SADC chair, on the mediation
process regarding Zimbabwe.

At the African Union summit in Egypt Mwanawasa was due to sit next to
Mugabe, according to the seat arrangements, but sadly suffered this stroke
on arrival. His illness and non attendance at the summit came as a relief to
Mugabe and might have given Mbeki more room to try and legitimize Mugabe's
stolen June 27 election.


SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Woza Leaders Finally Released

SW Radio Africa (London)

3 July 2008
Posted to the web 3 July 2008

Violet Gonda

Jennie Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu have finally been released on bail
after spending six week at Chikurubi maximum prison for holding a peaceful

The leaders of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were
arrested on May 28th, together with 13 others, for holding a demonstration
in Bulawayo,

The police charged them with conducting activities likely to cause public

The other members were released on June 11th, but the two leaders were
denied bail on allegations that they would organise Kenyan-style
post-election violence, ahead of the run off.

Williams is facing an extra charge of publishing falsehoods through the
fliers WOZA had been distributing. The pressure group uses nonviolent
methods to demand social justice and an end to violence in Zimbabwe.

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Murehwa Residents Forced to Supply Food for Militia Bases

SW Radio Africa (London)

3 July 2008
Posted to the web 3 July 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

We received reports from the Murehwa district that villagers are being
forced to 'donate' scarce commodities like maize meal, cooking oil and soap,
to ZANU-PF's youth militia and war veterans.

Our contact, who chose not to be identified for his own safety, said the
supplies are being stockpiled at the bases that were set up ahead of the
presidential runoff last month. The militia at bases in Murehwa North
district are looting livestock as well.

He described it as 'the ultimate insult' that people are being forced to
feed the thugs who are assaulting, murdering and burning down the houses of
their relatives and friends. Food items and basic commodities are very
scarce and very expensive when you find them. The militia are taking
advantage of the impunity they enjoy and stealing from people who have very
little to begin with.

In Murehwa South the food raids have been followed by houses being burned
down, especially in wards 19 and 21. According to our contact, the homes of
MDC officials and polling agents were being targeted. On Monday the youth
militia burned down the home of MDC activist Nhau Gibson.

ZANU-PF officials in Murehwa South are reported to have issued a directive
that advises any MDC officials and supporters who have fled from their homes
to return, if they are willing to 'surrender' their MDC membership and join
ZANU-PF. The so-called conversions are done at meetings held in front of the
whole village. This is where MDC supporters who have been abducted are
beaten severely in order to intimidate the others. The District Coordinating
Committee, led by a fake war veteran ZANU-PF thug named "Kashesha", are
conducting this campaign.

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Botswana troops mass on Zimbabwe border

The Telegraph

By Christopher Munnion in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 8:49PM BST 03/07/2008
Botswana has deployed units of its army along its border with Zimbabwe as "a
precaution" against trouble in its crisis-torn neighbour spilling into the
country, sources close to the government have said.
Relations between the two countries have become strained by the influx in
recent years of tens of thousands of refugees from Zimbabwe who have crossed
the border illegally, fleeing the violence of Robert Mugabe's supporters.

Botswana, one of the most prosperous and successful countries in Africa,
built an electrified fence along its 300-mile border, largely desert scrub,
with Zimbabwe five years ago and tightened controls at its border posts. It
has refused to recognise Mr Mugabe's victory in last week's presidential

The Botswana Sunday Star, under the headline "Botswana Prepares For War?"
reported that the Botswana Defence Force [BDF], including units with heavy
artillery, had deployed along the Zimbabwean border.

The newspaper quoted Brigadier Dikgakgamatso Seretse, the defence minister,
as saying: "This is a very sensitive matter... I can neither confirm nor
deny any deployment of soldiers."

A well-placed source in Gaborone, the capital, confirmed that units of the
BDF were patrolling the border.

"This is purely a precautionary measure. The problems in Zimbabwe are
well-known and the government clearly wants to prevent any trouble in that
country from affecting us."

The newly-elected president, Ian Khama, a Sandhurst-trained former commander
of the BDF, has become increasingly critical of Mr Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe
and the problems it has caused in neighbouring countries.

Mr Khama, son of the first president of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama, and his
English-born wife, Ruth, is believed to have been one of the prime critics
of Mr Mugabe at the emergency meeting of the African Union in Egypt last

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Botswana dismisses Zim-border closure reports

Afrol News, Norway

afrol News, 3 July - Botswana government has denied alleged media reports
that Botswana has closed its border with Zimbabwe, saying such were
unsubstantiated and only meant to sow confusion in the region.

A statement released from office of the President followed a series of
reports that Botswana government has closed down its border with Zimbabwe in
a bid to break ties with the country and also to denounce widely condemned
President Robert Mugabe's victory.

Botswana reassured the public that reports of the closure of the border are
unfounded and lacked substance. "Botswana has neither severed ties with
Zimbabwe, nor taken any steps to disrupt normal cross-border relations,"
said government statement.

Earlier this week, Botswana has called for the suspension of Zimbabwe from
African Union and Southern African Development Community meetings saying
President Robert Mugabe's attendance stamps legitimacy over his victory.

Botswana is habouring a number of Zimbabwean refugees since its neighbour's
artificial economic crisis took toll. Having played a number of mediatory
role in regional conflicts, it was not surprising for the country to be one
of the first from SADC region to outrightly hit on Mr Mugabe at AU meeting.

Mr Tsvangirai yesterday rejected calls by AU to form government of national
unity with Mr Mugabe, saying such government would not end Zimbabwe's
political and economic crisis.

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UK says peace-keepers now an option

July 3, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - There is widespread agreement that action must be taken
to change the status quo in Zimbabwe, possibly with the help of a
peacekeeping force, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Thursday.

Pressure has intensified on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to negotiate
after he was returned to power at the weekend in a one-sided vote boycotted
by the opposition and widely condemned by global leaders.

The African Union has been trying to broker talks between the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - which won an initial presidential
vote - and Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party to establish a unity government.

"Virtually the whole international community is saying the status quo cannot
continue, the MDC has got to be recognized for the electoral support it
had," Brown told a group of cross-party British lawmakers.

"There will be no support for this regime until democracy is restored, we
will intensify the sanctions unless action is taken to change the status

Brown said the second election was a "travesty of justice and during that
election the regime has blood on its hands for what has happened."

While African leaders have preferred a softer approach, there have been
calls for tougher measures to force Mugabe to the negotiating table.

"There has been some discussion of an international peacekeeping force and
that is an option that is obviously on the table," Brown told the
parliamentary committee. "I think we have got to bear in mind that all the
pressure at the moment is political pressure to try and achieve a desired

"We now have the pressure, that I think is growing, from the African Union
countries and from the community of the United Nations that the status quo
cannot be held, that action has got to be taken."

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U.N. vote on Zimbabwe expected next week


Thu 3 Jul 2008, 18:10 GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it expects the U.N.
Security Council to vote next week on sanctions against Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe and top aides in response to last week's widely condemned

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters after a closed-door council
session he formally submitted the U.S.-drafted resolution, which also calls
for an arms embargo against Zimbabwe, to the full 15-nation council.

"We expect a vote on the resolution sometime next week," Khalilzad said.

Mugabe won re-election in a June 27 run-off ballot after opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the voting because of attacks on his

Western powers, led by the United States and Britain, are exerting heavy
pressure on Mugabe to negotiate with the opposition. But the veteran leader
may have room to manoeuvre.

Security Council diplomats have said South Africa, Russia and China oppose
the idea of sanctions, though they said it was not clear if Moscow and
Beijing were prepared to use their veto powers given the wide condemnation
of Mugabe's re-election.

In a telephone interview with Reuters, South African Ambassador Dumisani
Kumalo indicated he could not back the U.S. draft, saying the very premise
of the resolution was faulty.

"The biggest challenge of the resolution is the premise that the problem of
the election is a threat to international peace and security," he said.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, the designated mediator in Zimbabwe, is
under fire in the region and at home for what is seen as ineffective
mediation that favours Mugabe.

Some analysts say Mugabe has embarked on a strategy of wearing down his
opponents and of only making concessions to gain breathing space that could
delay a resolution to the crisis for years.

Tsvangirai on Wednesday rejected talks on a unity government, saying Mugabe
must first end the violence against his supporters and accept him as the
rightful election winner.


The deadlock will make life even tougher for Zimbabweans who face the
world's highest inflation rate and food and fuel shortages. Millions have
fled to neighbouring countries.

More than 200 victims of Zimbabwe's election violence were seeking refuge in
the U.S. embassy in Harare on Thursday.

Embassy spokesman Mark Weinberg said about 230 opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) supporters were sitting outside the compound hoping
for food and a safe place to stay.

"Some of them look injured and I also saw a man in crutches. There are also
some mothers with children," he told Reuters.

The sanctions would impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and travel bans and
asset freezes on Mugabe and 11 other senior government and security

Khalilzad said the council had no choice but to respond to Zimbabwe's
defiance. But they do not want to do anything that would harm the country's
already-suffering people, he said.

In addition to Mugabe, the draft text, obtained in full by Reuters, says
Zimbabwean central bank governor Gideon Gono, army chief General Constantine
Chiwenga and Happyton Bonyongwe, Zimbabwe's head of intelligence, would also
face sanctions.

Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations will discuss
sharpening sanctions against Zimbabwe at a summit in Japan next week, a
senior German government official said.

British government officials told reporters ahead of the meeting a strong
reaction to Mugabe's re-election was expected.

"I'd expect there to be a G8 statement on Zimbabwe which will be a G8
reaction to what's happened and to be pretty tough," said one of the

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the international community could
send a peacekeeping force to stabilise the southern African nation.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has firmly
rejected the idea of international forces. He accuses Tsvangirai of being a
puppet of Western powers.

(Additional reporting by David Clarke in London, Gernot Heller in Berlin and
Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations; Writing by Michael Georgy, editing
by Mary Gabriel)

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UN considers arms embargo, other sanctions against Zimbabwe

Monsters and Critics

Jul 3, 2008, 17:41 GMT

New York - A draft resolution submitted to the UN Security Council Thursday
calls for the imposition of an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and a freeze of
assets and ban on travels of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his

The draft was being studied by legal experts of the 15-nation council and a
vote could be expected next week, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said.

He said the crisis in Zimbabwe has challenged the council's ability to
command respect of democracy and free and fair elections.

'There is a crisis of legitimacy that has continued, and this crisis not
only impacted the people of Zimbabwe and the region, but also the
credibility of the council,' Khalilzad said.

'We want to respond to the situation in a way that would encourage a
response to the situation and resolve the crisis of legitimacy without
negatively impacting on the people of Zimbabwe,' he said.

The six-page draft asks the council to condemn Mugabe's decision to proceed
with the runoff elections last Friday despite calls for a postponement and
the violence that marred the elections. It says 'scores' of people were
killed while thousands were injured or displaced.

Mugabe won the runoff as the sole candidate after his opponent, Morgan
Tsvangirai, withdrew from the race and took refuge in the Dutch embassy in
Harare in an effort to protect himself and his supporters from further

The draft asks Mugabe to begin immediately a political dialogue with all
parties in order to arrive at a peaceful solution that will 'reflect the
will of the Zimbabwean people as expressed in the March 29 elections.' The
first round of voting on March 29 was won by Tsvangirai, but it failed the
required majority for a victory. A runoff was declared for June 27, with
Mugabe declared the winner.

The draft demands an end to violence and the resumption of activities by
international relief organizations, which were suspended by Mugabe in June.

It calls on UN members to prevent the direct or indirect sale or transfer of
arms of all types, military vehicles and equipment, and spare parts.

It calls on UN members to prevent the entry into or transit through their
territories, and a freeze of assets belonging to Mugabe and 11 other
Zimbabwean officials. It charges Mugabe with being responsible for
activities that 'seriously undermine democracy, repress human rights and
disrespect of the rule of law.'

The other individuals include Constantine Chiwenga, Emmerson Mnangagwa,
Patrick Chinamasa, Perence Shiri, David Parirenyatwa and Didymus Mutasa, who
are charged with directing the violence against political opponents. Gideon
Gono, the Reserve Bank Governor, is charged with being responsible for
funding repressive state policies.

If approved by the council, the sanctions sought by the US and Britain and
likely supported by other European members on the council like France would
represent the first arms embargo against Zimbabwe.

Diplomats attending Thursday's closed-door session in which the text was
submitted made no comment.

China has been known for selling arms and ammunitions to Zimbabwe and one of
its ships carrying weapons for Zimbabwe was not allowed to dock in a South
African port in March to unload its cargoes when violence raged against
political opponents in Zimbabwe.

China, like other council's permanent members, has veto over UN resolutions.
But it had supported resolutions against Iran's nuclear programmes despite
its huge commercial investment in Iran's oil and gas fields.

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S.Africa doubts need for UN action on Zimbabwe


Thu 3 Jul 2008, 17:51 GMT

(Adds South African ambassador, quotes from U.S. envoy)

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, July 3 (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it
expects the U.N. Security Council to vote next week on sanctions against
Zimbabwe's leaders for last week's widely criticized election but South
Africa suggested it would oppose the resolution.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters after a closed-door council
session that he had formally submitted the U.S.-drafted resolution to the
full 15-nation council.

"We expect a vote on the resolution sometime next week," Khalilzad said.

The sanctions would impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and travel bans and
asset freezes on President Robert Mugabe, the central bank governor and 10
other top government and security officials.

Mugabe won re-election in a June 27 run-off ballot after Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, pulled out because
of attacks on his supporters. Tsvangirai had won a first-round vote on March

Khalilzad said the council had no choice but to respond to Zimbabwe's
defiance. But it did not want to do anything that would harm the country's
already-suffering people, he said.

"We have proposed a resolution that will impose targeted sanctions on those
that are responsible for the crisis with the expectation and hope that they
will be incentivized to cooperate," he said.

"This crisis not only impacts the people of Zimbabwe, and we stand with
them, but also the region," Khalilzad said.

In a telephone interview with Reuters, South African Ambassador Dumisani
Kumalo indicated he would not back the U.S. draft, saying the very premise
of the resolution was faulty.

"The biggest challenge of the resolution is the premise that the problem of
the election is a threat to international peace and security," he said.

Several Western diplomats spoke optimistically about the chances for passing
an amended version of the U.S. draft but Kumalo said it was too early to
predict any outcome.

To be approved, a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no veto from any
of the five permanent council members -- the United States, Britain, France,
Russia and China.


In addition to South Africa, Russia and China have said Zimbabwe was an
African problem and voiced their disapproval at the idea of imposing
sanctions. But it was not clear if Moscow and Beijing were prepared to use
their veto powers given the wide condemnation of Mugabe's re-election.

The resolution will be revised in closed-door negotiations before it is put
to a vote. Council diplomats say it is possible there could be changes to
the proposed measures and the list of those targeted by the sanctions could

Before last week's election, the Security Council unanimously condemned
Mugabe's plans to go ahead with the poll, saying the campaign of violence
and restrictions on the opposition made a free and fair election impossible.

It was not clear if the other council members shared Khalilzad's optimism
about the timing for a vote.

"Many members of the council need time to consult their capital," Vietnamese
Ambassador Le Luong Minh, president of the council for the month of July,
told reporters.

French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, whose country holds the rotating
half-year presidency of the European Union, reiterated the EU's position
that Tsvangirai should be seen as the country's legitimately elected leader.

In addition to Mugabe, the draft text, obtained in full by Reuters, says
Zimbabwean central bank governor Gideon Gono, army chief Gen. Constantine
Chiwenga and Happyton Bonyongwe, Zimbabwe's head of intelligence, would also
face sanctions.

Kumalo described the list as "interesting" but said the inclusion of Gono
was perplexing.

"He's just a professional and a bureaucrat," he said. "It's very unusual."
(Editing by Eric Beech)

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SA Public in Full Support of the Zimbabwean People, Not Mbeki

SW Radio Africa (London)

3 July 2008
Posted to the web 3 July 2008

Alex Bell

The South African president's shameful role as the so called "mediator" in
the Zimbabwe crisis appears to have isolated him from his own countrymen,
who are now fans of a free Zimbabwe, rather than fans of Mbeki.

South Africa as a country has been the focus of global criticism because of
President Thabo Mbeki's failure, in his role as SADC appointed mediator, to
bring an end to the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe, as well as for his obvious
bias towards his friend Robert Mugabe.

Katy Katapodis, the news editor for Talk Radio 702, an award winning news
and information radio station based in Johannesburg, told Newsreel on
Thursday that South Africans are strongly opposed to their president's
policy of "quiet diplomacy" and are using the local media to vent their
anger and frustrations about the Zimbabwe situation. She said the Zimbabwean
issue is one that is likely "to define Thabo Mbeki's legacy as president,
and there is pressure on him from his own countrymen to take action".

She said "South African opposition parties and political analysts believe
Mbeki needs to step down as mediator in the crisis" but she said at the same
time "government officials think he is the best man for the job".

Katapodis said the Zimbabwean situation has been dominating news in South
Africa for weeks because "people are desperate for news" and there is a
"keen interest". She added that this is because "people are aware that there
is a direct impact on South Africa if the situation in Zimbabwe does not
change". She said that members of the public who call into the radio station
have said they are "angry and sad" about the situation, and at Mbeki's role
in the crisis, but are supportive of the "number of demonstrations and
rallies taking place in solidarity with the Zimbabwean people".

One such demonstration is South African Trade Union Federation, COSATU's
protest against the Mugabe regime taking place on Saturday at the Beit
Bridge border post. Katapodis said such demonstrations are "indicative of
how South Africans feel about the situation".

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Accept Mugabe - ex-MDC member


July 03 2008 at 08:33PM

Harare - A Zimbabwe opposition figure on Thursday broke ranks and
urged his peers to accept Robert Mugabe as the country's legitimate leader
following a widely condemned one-man election last week.

Gabriel Chaibva, a former lawmaker and until recently spokesperson for
a breakaway faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
said it was time the party accepted Mugabe so the country's political crisis
can be resolved.

He was stripped of his position in the MDC on Monday, a day after he
attended Mugabe's inauguration ceremony.

"There is no doubt that the election process was not conducted in a
manner that would be said to have been appropriate to democratic standards,
but the bottom line is that Mugabe is there," he told AFP of last Friday's
run-off poll.

Opposition chief and first-round winner Morgan Tsvangirai has said he
is open to dialogue, but has refused to recognise Mugabe as the country's
elected leader after an election much of the world has labeled a farce.

Chaibva said negotiations based on accepting Mugabe as president were
the only way out of the crisis.

"If you are serious about talks and dialogue, immediately,
unconditionally and unreservedly recognise Mugabe as head of state, head of
government and commander in chief of the defence forces."

He said the opposition has spent eight years trying in vain to
dislodge Mugabe.

"It is my view that we start changing strategy. Political
confrontation does not work," said Chaibva, adding opposition supporters
were "tired and weary" and it would be "foolish" to expect them to continue
fighting the Mugabe regime.

"There has never been such a critical time in the history of this
country when both sides - the opposition and Zanu-PF - are so desperate for
discussion. That is the best time to swallow your pride and you talk," he
said, referring to Mugabe's party.

Chaibva warned that if Tsvangirai maintained a hardline position, he
risked "being an impediment to peace and stability in this country."

Tsvangirai has said any negotiations should be based on the outcome of
the March 29 first round, which saw him finish ahead of Mugabe but with an
official vote total just short of an outright majority.

The opposition leader pulled out of last Friday's run-off, saying some
90 of his supporters had been killed and thousands injured in violence he
blamed on pro-Mugabe militia. - Sapa-AFP

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'Let's Kill the Baby'


In Zimbabwe, no victim is too young for Robert Mugabe's brutal reign. And
the opposition is finding fewer and fewer places to hide.

By Rod Nordland | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Jul 3, 2008 | Updated: 3:19 p.m. ET Jul 3, 2008

Some details, such as timing and description of movements, in the following
are altered for the safety of NEWSWEEK's reporter.

For five days, I've been looking everywhere for Blessing Mabhena, ever since
I read newspaper reports about the child, a cute little one-year-old baby
with big eyes and two stumpy little legs in casts, who had suffered the
wrath of ruling party thugs who couldn't find the infant's parents. The baby
could easily, I thought, be the poster child for this entire vicious
election process and the waning years of Comrade Bob.

Finally, on Wednesday night, I found Blessing. The search itself was
illuminating. Anywhere else, tracking down a horror story of this sort would
be Journalism 101-a few phone calls and bingo, two or three degrees of
separation at most. People want to get stories like this out, and especially
where there's a big, organized opposition, they do get out. Not in this
case, though. It's possible of course to talk to activists with the Movement
for Democratic Change, the opposition party, but for the most part they're
no longer coming to their offices, so they're scattered around town, hiding
out in their homes or in the homes of friends.

And they're often on the run. About 250 MDC activists and their families,
including many children and mothers with babies on their backs, camped out
on the sidewalk in front of the U.S. embassy here in Harare on Thursday.
Most in the group said they had been chased by police from their refuge in
the MDC headquarters building. Many have casts or show others signs of
having been recently injured. "We're tired, hungry and we have no place to
go," said one man who provided only his first name, Simba. "Our homes have
been burned out, our villages have been burned out. And if we go back, they
say they are going to beat us again." A U.S. embassy spokesman said they
have been getting refugees all week in smaller numbers, which they have
referred to safehouses. But they're now running out of places to send

All of this makes it hard for anti-Mugabe forces to organize, and difficult
to exchange information. And the climate of fear just breeds more fear, so
even after we did found MDC folks who knew about the case of the injured
baby, they weren't willing to tell us where the child and mother were.

Human rights groups, of which there are several, were not much help either.
At the ZimRights Association on Fourth Street, they'd never heard of the
case, and were so atremble at a visit from a foreign journalist that I'm not
sure they would have said if they did know. Over at the offices of the
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, up on the eighth floor of Harare's
pre-eminent office building, the Eastgate, I didn't even get that far. The
doors were padlocked even though it was office hours, but a voice came over
the intercom. I told them who I was and they said they'd come out presently,
but after a quarter of an hour, it seemed as likely that they were summoning
the authorities as trying to figure out whether to talk to a journalist, and
so finally I left.

Then I found a human rights activist working from her home who at first said
she knew where the baby was. She told me just to call back after she checked
with the family and her protectors, who are watching after them in their
hiding place. Then I called later and she no longer knew where the baby was,
but the protectors were in a meeting-all day. Finally, she said she didn't
know where Blessing was, and suggested I try the hospitals. Which of course,
I had, long before.

How I finally found the little girl I can't say, without putting someone at
risk, but suffice it to say she was in a compound surrounded with high walls
where there were a couple dozen families, all of them displaced by the
election violence, and still too afraid to return to their homes. Among the
displaced people was a woman in her late 20s named Loveness (she asked that
I not use her last name), and her daughter, the baby in question. She had
been released from the hospital the day before. Turned out the child's name
was not Blessing Mabhena-that was the name of a nurse who had cared for
her-but rather Delani, 1 year old. But the story essentially checked out.

Loveness' husband (name also withheld) is a municipal council member,
elected on the MDC ticket in the March 29 first round of elections. A gang
of so-called War Veterans had been rampaging through their neighborhood,
vowing to find him and kill him. (I say "so-called" because as so often
happens with the war veterans here, they're usually little more than
political thugs masquerading under the banner of the liberation struggle
against white-ruled Rhodesia; there are no actual war veterans here younger
than 48, and most of these groups comprise men in their 30s and even 20s).
Loveness's husband was in hiding and though they threatened her to reveal
his location, she insisted she didn't know. But she knew they'd come back,
and carry out their threats to beat it out of her if she didn't talk. So
when they came bursting in downstairs, she crawled under her bed and left
her baby, Delani, lying on top of it. "When they couldn't find me," she
recalled, "they said, 'Let's kill the baby', and threw her down on the
floor." They did it with such force that both her ankles were broken.

They easily could have killed the baby, but did not. That's the pattern
here, in fact. While there have been 80 recorded deaths from election
violence, and human rights activists claim another 200-500 missing who may
be dead, there are thousands of victims of violence who weren't killed, and
that has to be deliberate policy. When someone is being beaten with iron
bars and clubs by a large group of people, killing them would be easy; not
killing them takes an effort at some sort of purposeful restraint. And
killing a defenseless baby would have been an easy matter indeed.

I'm not sure just why that is, but I have no doubt that it's premeditated.
When the three white farmers were beaten savagely last Sunday, they were
told they would be killed, and the victims no doubt believed it. But in the
end, despite any sort of intervention, they weren't killed. Perhaps the
regime wants to be able to say, as its apologists constantly do, that
Zimbabwe's election violence is small change compared to, say, the violence
that marred recent elections in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.
Far more people died in Kenya's disputed election than have died in this
one. "Kenya-hah, there they were chopping people up with machetes," says
Jonathan Moyo, an independent MP and a former information minister in Robert
Mugabe's government. "Mugabe's people are carrying sticks. One dead body was
one too many, but look at Matebeleland in '81 and '87, and the '85 election
there, there was much more violence." Thousands died.

That is not to make light of the terroristic effects of the ZANU-PF violence
against its opponents. Many of these people will be physically crippled and
psychologically scarred their entire lives. Their tormentors knew what they
were doing and went about it with a savage methodism, not only stopping
short of killing them, but also wounding them in ways that would create
enduring, painful reminders. One common beating tactic, for instance, was to
flay a person's buttocks with clubs and sticks until the subcutaneous tissue
and muscle was exposed, and then pour scalding water and sometimes even
sewage on the open wound. The result, in many cases, is that such victims
may well never sit comfortably again.

The baby Delani's injuries, similarly, will be a lifelong reminder to her
parents. She'll need multiple surgeries on both ankles, and from what the
local doctors told Loveness, they're not sure she'll ever walk properly. Her
casts had just been taken off the day I saw her, so she didn't make quite
such a dramatic picture-but it's evident how inwardly twisted her ankles
are, and she cries from the pain whenever she's awake, unless she's on the
breast. Just 12 months of age, Delani had only recently started standing up
and trying to take her first wobbly steps when this happened. Her unformed
ankle joints were probably the most vulnerable part of her. And in order to
do such damage, it's likely that someone held the child by the arms and
swung her overhead with great force. Just tumbling her from the bed would
not have done it, as any parent will know.

Will that sort of violence have the intended effect? It certainly has
succeeded in sending MDC supporters underground, and even nearly a week
after the runoff election, many of them are still in hiding-especially if
their homes, often destroyed, are back in rural constituencies. Or will it,
in the end, only make people angrier come the inevitable day of reckoning
for ZANU-PF? As the ruling party and its henchmen can only be too painfully
aware, they are very much in the minority in the country they have governed
so poorly for so long. Loveness says her husband is still in hiding, but he
managed to rendezvous briefly with her and Delani. "We don't know if there's
going to be peace," she said, "or if he'll be killed when he comes out of
hiding. He says he's going to be brave and continue the struggle, and I want
him to." What mother would not?

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Zimbabwe: ghosts in the machine?

With AU calls for a government of national unity set against violence and
economic meltdown, Zanu-PF and the MDC must act soon

Knox Chitiyo,
Thursday July 3, 2008

There was never any doubt about who was going to win the most farcical,
one-sided election in Zimbabwe's history. Once it was announced that there
would be a presidential run-off election, it was clear that Zanu-PF were
going to ensure a victory for Robert Mugabe by any means necessary. Even if
Morgan Tsvangirai had not withdrawn, he would almost certainly have won the
popular vote, but the official result would have been rejigged to ensure a
Mugabe victory.

There is little doubt that Zanu-PF was surprised by Tsvangirai's withdrawal
from the presidential contest. The party's intention had been to achieve a
manipulated victory at the polls, and use the elections to legitimise power.
However, when deprived of an opponent at the polls, Zanu-PF, far from
bemoaning the collapse of their election strategy, realised that they had in
fact been gifted an opportunity to present a fait accompli to Africa. For
Zanu-PF, a central tenet of the state's "total strategy" for survival has
been the need to win the battle for African hearts and minds. As the
Zimbabwean state continues to haemorrhage support from its own people, so
support from African leaders has become ever more critical. Mugabe has thus
been unconcerned by the volley of criticism from the UN and the western
community. The recent SADC meeting on defence and security was of greater
concern, because the current SADC chair, President Kikwete of Tanzania, has
been emphatic in his criticism of Mugabe, and he has called for Mugabe to
step down. However, the absence of Mbeki from the SADC deliberations and
statement immediately watered down the impact of the meeting, and provided
succour for Mugabe. The key for Mugabe has been to ensure public recognition
of his position as Zimbabwe's head of state, by his peers in Africa, and by
the MDC. The AU summit in Sharm el-Sheikh has shown that Mugabe has won the
battle for African recognition, although not for support.

There was little chance that the AU would fail to recognise Mugabe: although
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga was blunt in his criticism, Tsvangirai
was deprived of another key ally when president Mwanawasa of Zambia was
reported dead. The AU and SADC election observer groups were critical of the
run-off, but their reservations on the legitimacy of the elections were not
incorporated into the Sharm el-Sheikh resolution on Zimbabwe, which urges
negotiations for a government of national unity (GNU). Human rights reports
on the appalling levels of violence and cruelty show that Zimbabwe has
become an atrocity exhibition; but they have found an audience of the deaf
at state level. The AU, like the OAU that preceded it, is still bound by the
ties of "patriotic blackness" - the reflexive African solidarity and
sovereignty mantra that overrules the democracy and human rights agenda.

What are the options for Zanu-PF? There are three: the first is to adopt a
strategy of annihilation against the MDC, using the state's panoply of legal
and military resources to destroy the opposition's leadership and divide
their supporters, with the aim of destroying the MDC as a serious
opposition, and to anoint a successor to Mugabe from within Zanu-PF. This
will be the preferred option for the Zanu-PF hardliners, who will now be
pressing for a "final victory" against the MDC. The problem is that the
state of the economy is so bad, and the levels of misgovernance are so high,
that there will always be serious opposition to Zanu-PF, whether from the
MDC or other groups. In addition, the more the state insists on using
violence to retain power, the more the chances of ending the crisis recedes.
Thus, the strategy of annihilation, which has as its endpoint the creation
of a de facto one-party state, is no solution at all.

The second option is for a government of national unity (GNU) - this is the
option which the AU and SADC are pushing, and which the west is reluctantly
beginning to endorse. For Mugabe, this would probably be the preferred
outcome, and this has been the long-term strategy from the start. Zanu-PF
has been keen to ensure that the EU and US's preferred strategies of
non-recognition, possible humanitarian/military intervention and a re-run of
the elections under credible international stewardship, come to nought, and
are overwhelmed by the African community's rival vision of negotiations for
a GNU. Zanu-PF would keen to have a GNU on their terms; this would entail an
incorporation of the MDC, rather than a partnership. Mugabe would remain as
the substantive president, while Tsvangirai would be given a
vice-presidential or prime ministerial role. In essence, this would be a
recreation of the 1987 unity accord between Zanu-PF and Zapu.

A GNU with the MDC as a junior partner would also leave the door open for a
Zanu-PF, rather than an MDC, successor to Mugabe. Zanu-PF will thus continue
to use violence and legal means to force the MDC to the negotiating table.
The third option is a GNU with Tsvangirai as the substantive head of state.
The security sector in Zimbabwe will almost certainly veto this idea, as
Tsvangirai is anathema to them, and they have persistently refused to
acknowledge his status. Even if Tsvangirai were to become leader, he would
find it almost impossible to exert his authority over the securocrats.
Zanu-PF hardliners would also be unwilling to accept a substantive
Tsvangirai presidency, because they fear that this would wither away their
own powers and status. On the other hand, there is little doubt that more
moderate Zanu-PF groupings would be less averse to a Tsvangirai premiership,
because it would virtually guarantee international reconstruction aid in a
way that a continued Mugabe stewardship cannot. In cultural terms, what
Mugabe craves most of all is recognition from Tsvangirai. He wants
Tsvangirai to end his insistence that Mugabe is not the legitimate head of
state and that he, Tsvangirai, is both the "people's" president, and the
legitimate head of state. Mugabe would like Tsvangirai to acknowledge that
"Mugabe ndiye Mambo" ("Mugabe is the chief").

Where does this leave Tsvangirai? He has two choices; the first is to refuse
to go into a GNU with Zanu-PF, and continue the path of "most resistance" by
fashioning himself as an "alternative" president of Zimbabwe, and continuing
to lead the MDC in opposition to Zanu-PF. The MDC statement of July 2, which
states that conditions are "not right" for talks on a government of national
unity, suggests that at the moment the MDC favours this option. The prospect
of a GNU certainly has little appeal to most MDC supporters, who fear that
the MDC would thus be endorsing Zanu-PF. The second option is for the MDC to
enter talks with Zanu-PF on a GNU, which he has currently ruled out on the
grounds of the continuing violence. Although most MDC supporters will be
reluctant, the fact is that the MDC could be forced to negotiate with
Zanu-PF. The question of the presidency will be the most intractable issue,
not just between the MDC and Zanu-PF, but also within the MDC. Tsvangirai
will find it hard to sell an agreement in which he becomes a secondary
leader, to the MDC hardliners. His other option is to try an convince
Zanu-PF moderates that he is not a threat to their positions and that he can
deliver an end to the crisis. In other words, Tsvangirai will have to prise
open the brittle political/security "covenant" which holds Zanu-PF together,
and fashion a "progressive" Zanu-PF/MDC negotiating caucus, before ZANU-PF
in turn, prises apart the MDC coalition. Zanu-PF will be keen to exploit the
differences between Tsvangirai, Mutambara, Biti and Welshman Ncube, in a
strategy of reducing the MDC to a fractious interest group rather than an
effective opposition, thus breaking it from within as well as without.

There will also be difficulties on matters of policy - particularly the
restructuring of the security sector, constitutional reform, the judiciary,
and other issues. The nightmare scenario for the MDC is one in which the GNU
is simply a reconvening of new MDC faces in an essentially Zanu-PF cabinet,
with little or no substantive change in policies to move the country
forward. On the other hand, the MDC, if faced with the prospect of
destruction by the military, may have little or no choice, but to go for a
merger, even though this will certainly prove to be divisive within the MDC
itself. The MDC will insist that the GNU must be part of a process of
transition to democracy and genuine elections, while Zanu-PF will insist
that the GNU is itself the ultimate objective. Tsvangirai will have to
convince his supporters that there are no better options for the MDC,
especially if it helps to save lives. Failure to engage with will leave the
MDC open to attack, not only from Zanu-PF and the security sector, but also
from disenchanted MDC and other militants who may decide to wage an armed
struggle against the state. It will also leave the way open for Simba Makoni
to rejoin the presidential succession struggle, possibly as a Zanu-PF

Zimbabwe's crisis also illustrates that ideologically, Zimbabwe has become a
globalised conflict - Zimbabwe's "world war". Despite the unanimous UN
security council resolution criticising the run-off, the reality is that the
convergence of international opinion on Zimbabwe is only skin deep. Both
parties have built international, diametrically opposed, coalitions; both
parties are also proxies for contemporary east v west, and north v south
conflicts. There is agreement on the moral imperative for an international
response to help bring about a settlement to the crisis, and the recognition
that the "atrocious violence" of the run-off is unacceptable. But there is a
divide over what is the best way forward for the international community and
for Zimbabwe. The EU and the US, recognising the opportunity for a
foreclosure on Zimbabwean authoritarianism, have refused to recognise Mugabe
as the legitimate head of state, and have been canvassing for increased
sanctions and a credible rerun of the presidential elections under
international supervision. The AU on the other hand, has recognised
(although not welcomed) Mugabe as the legitimate head of state, and is
advocating talks based on the GNU.

This does not mean that there is unanimous African support for Mugabe - in
fact Zimbabwe has deeply polarised the AU and SADC. For now, the GNU "
group", led by Mbeki, will have its way, but should the Zimbabwean
government revert to type and launch violent crackdowns, this will give more
ammunition to those who favour a global intervention, rather than an
mediation approach. Were this to happen, Zimbabwe's fallen would indeed
become the "dangerous dead" to Zanu-PF, both now and in the future.

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ZCTF report: Imire invaded

3rd July 2008
Many of you will be familiar with Imire Safari Ranch from our reports about the orphaned baby rhino, Tatenda, the warthog, Hogwash, the hyena, Tsotsi and the elephant who thinks she is a buffalo, Nzou.
Many years ago,Imire Safari Ranch was designated by National Parks and the governmentas a black rhino breeding area and for this reason, it is one of the few places in Zimbabwe that still has wildlife. John and Judy Travers have devoted the best part of their lives to caring for these animals and have played a very important role in the preservation of the endangered black rhino in Zimbabwe.
On Sunday 29th June 2008, a group of war veterans went to Imire and demanded that John Travers shoot 3 impala for them to eat. When John refused, they stated that they would burn the place down. They were extremely aggressive and John eventuallyhad no option but to shootthe impala. The invaders left with the impala, saying that Imire was at the top of their list and they were going to take it. The next morning, John reported the incident to the police who responded by initiating investigations.
Last night, Wednesday 2nd July, a group of about 16 war veterans arrived at Imire and told the Travers to vacate the property by this morning, Thursday 3rd July. They were threatened with their lives if they didn't comply. It has been alleged that an army general is leading the eviction thugs.
It is a foregone conclusion that if the invaders succeed in evicting the Travers, all the animals will be slaughtered within a very short space of time. We have reported the matter to National Parks who have confirmed to us that Imire is designated as a black rhino breeding area and is therefore not part of the land redistribution programme. They say that the invaders have obviously taken the law into their own hands and they will give the matter their urgent attention.
We are extremely concerned about all the animals at Imire, but in particular, Tatenda, Hogwash, Tsotsi and Nzou who we have come to know so well. We will circulate an update as soon as we have more news.
Johnny Rodrigues
Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Landline:263 4 336710
Landline/Fax: 263 4 339065
Mobile:263 11 603 213

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More Pressure On Mugabe As Zim Embassy Forced Out of Event

SW Radio Africa (London)

3 July 2008
Posted to the web 3 July 2008

Alex Bell

Global moves to isolate Robert Mugabe's government are gaining momentum,
with a German crisis action group blocking Zimbabwe's participation in an
internationally recognised event.

International pressure has been growing to isolate Mugabe's regime, with
calls not only for leaders to refuse to recognise Mugabe as the legitimate
leader of Zimbabwe, but also for the country to be blocked from taking part
in all international events.

The International Cricket Council was still in meetings on Thursday to
decide the future of the Zimbabwean cricket team's member status, following
the recent decision by the South Africa team to sever bilateral links with
their neighbours. The English team followed this decision shortly
afterwards, with the British government cancelling the Zimbabwean's
scheduled tour of the country next year.

Meanwhile, following the decision by a German company to stop providing bank
note paper to Zimbabwe last Friday, the German Crisis Action coalition
forced the Zimbabwean embassy to withdraw from an "All Nations Festival", a
day when embassies in Berlin open their doors to the public.

The German coalition said in a statement released Thursday that it became
aware of the Zimbabwe embassy's plans to participate in the "All Nations
Festival" and asked organisers to cancel the embassy's participation.
According to the statement, organisers refused to do so because it "would
break diplomatic rules".

The group then announced that it would hold a rally outside the embassy on
Thursday to protest its involvement, with members planning to wear black and
to hand out black armbands to visitors to symbolise the death of democracy
in Zimbabwe. The group said it was informed on Wednesday night that the
embassy had pulled out of the event, because of the planned protest. The
action group then held a rally outside the South African embassy.

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Africa: Our Reputation is At Stake

Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

3 July 2008
Posted to the web 3 July 2008

The African Union (AU) Summit in Egypt has ended and so have the dreams of
Zimbabwean people who pinned their hopes on this hopeless organisation.

We never expected anything from a bunch of leaders, most of whom are in
power through means that would make Mugabe's one man run-off elections a
heavenly affair. What should you expect from the likes of Egypt's Hosni
Mubarak, Swaziland's King Mswati and many other African dictators who do not
understand the ways of democracy?

The AU has called for a government of national unity in Zimbabwe. Is this
the best that the AU can do? Mugabe persecutes his people by unleashing
state apparatus on them, denies them the right to elect a leader of their
choice and African leaders decide to turn a blind eye to all these merely to
protect a fellow despot. Instead we have fellow travellers such as Omar
Bongo of Gabon calling on African leaders to accept Mugabe's sham elections.

In calling for a government of national unity, what is the AU saying? Who is
going to ensure that this recommendation is implemented? Surprisingly, it is
the hapless South African Thabo Mbeki who is going to oversee this process.
The man has completely failed the people of Zimbabwe and the democratic
world in his partisan mediation in Zimbabwe. Mbeki is simply a Mugabe
apologist. Africa should regret ever wasting time and resources on Mbeki's
mediation. This AU project is bound to fail even before it starts. Mbeki is
the wrong person to be driving this process. He has not shown he is capable
of handling the crisis in Zimbabwe. Why do they burden a man who does not
even recognise that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe?

We in Botswana are, however, gratified that our government, at least this
time, has taken a resolute stand and renounced the illegitimate government
of Robert Mugabe. For a long time, Botswana has been too timid to take the
leadership as Africa's oldest and most vibrant democracy. We have a duty to
export democracy to the rest of Africa and the world. If Botswana does not
take leadership in matters such as these, upstarts such as South Africa
would step in and mess up. This will give dictators such as Mugabe room to
thrive and democracy will be threatened. We are one of the few countries in
Africa that can climb the moral high ground to tell Mugabe that he is way
out of line.

The Khama government should actually move faster and tell Mugabe that we do
not recognise his government. We should even recall our envoy in Zimbabwe.

Let us now take leadership and protect democracy, and hopefully we will
knock some sense into the region. For a very long time, we have suffered the
indignity of being clubbed together with the rest of the bloody
dictatorships in Africa. We need to distinguish ourselves from this motley
crew. Our reputation as a democracy is at stake.

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UK pledges 9 million in food aid to Zimbabwe

Thursday 3 July 2008 14:50
Department For International Development (National)

Millions of people facing severe food shortages in Zimbabwe will be helped
by 9 million in humanitarian support announced today by International
Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander.

The funding will go to the World Food Programme (WFP) who will provide food
to over four million of the country's poorest and most vulnerable families,
including many children.

Alexander also called on Zimbabwe to lift the ban on NGOs and allow
much-needed aid to get through to people who desperately need it. Whilst the
majority of the 9 million will be used to provide food, a proportion of the
funding will be used to strengthen WFP monitoring systems to prevent
political interference and ensure the food is received by the right people.

Zimbabwe is facing a deepening humanitarian crisis as a direct result of the
general economic collapse, poor governance and a lack of investment in
agriculture, combined with poor weather. The country has had the worst crop
in fifteen years and has failed to produce sufficient grain to meet the
needs of its people. It is estimated that the harvest will only meet around
a third of Zimbabwe's food requirements.

The WFP assess that the situation will worsen significantly before the end
of the year. The situation will be made more difficult by recent rises in
world food prices. In addition, the impact of HIV and AIDS means that
families who are already poor and vulnerable will be less able to deal with
such difficult times.

The WFP and Food and Agriculture Organisation estimate that up to 5.1m
people may need food aid this year.

Announcing the new funding, the Secretary of State for International
Development, Douglas Alexander, said;

"The ongoing political problems in Zimbabwe should not divert our gaze from
the continuing humanitarian disaster. By the end of 2008, up to five million
men, women and children could be facing severe hunger and malnutrition. That
is why this Government is allocating 9 million to provide food to those
people most at risk.

"We are providing aid but Zimbabwe must allow the aid to get through. The
continued ban on NGOs is senseless and does nothing but take food away from
the mouths of hungry people. For the sake of the millions who are poor and
at risk of starvation, I call on Zimbabwe to lift this unnecessary ban and
allow aid to get through."

The food will be delivered by the WFP or NGOs. Whilst many NGOs have had
their field operations blocked since June 4th, it is hoped that the ban will
soon be lifted and they will be able to assist in the delivery of aid. If
the ban continues, the WFP will implement contingency plans that will ensure
the food is effectively distributed.

The WFP are confident that they will get the food through to those who need
it most and are putting in place tough safeguards to protect aid deliveries.
No funding or food will go to the Government of Zimbabwe.

The 9 million announced today brings the total UK humanitarian commitments
in Zimbabwe since 2001 to over 220 million. The Department for
International Development (DFID) will spend 44 million this financial year
in Zimbabwe.

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