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

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MDC PRESS RELEASE
 

12 June 2003
Remain Calm In The Face Of Open Provocation.

The MDC National Executive met today in an emergency session to review developments in the country. The Executive noted with concern the continued detention of the president.

The National Executive further noted with concern the continued detention of Getrude Mthombeni, member of the national executive, Abraham Mdlongwa, MDC chairman for Bulawayo and many party activists.

We maintain that our President and members of MDC arrested by the state agents are innocent. The arrests are nothing more than just harassment and intimidation of the MDC.

The National Executive welcomed the release without charge of the Secretary General of the party and reiterates its demand that the president of the MDC and many other leaders and supporters be released.

The regime is now panicking. Since the successful action of Zimbabweans the regime now realises without doubt that it does not have the support of the majority, but is only supported by a few Zimbabweans who have been drafted into sections of our professional Zimbabwe National Army, police and a few youths who have sold their souls for pieces of silver.

Zimbabweans scored a big victory against tyranny and marched the greater distance towards freedom through their heroic and united action last week.

We thank the people of Zimbabwe for their fortitude in the face of provocation and abuse by the regime and its unpopular machinery. We urge all Zimbabweans to remain calm in the face of repeated attempts to provoke them so as to get a pretext to crush their resolve through violence.

We should remain focused on our objectives and calculated in our actions. The regime does not know what is coming next and seeks to make you act outside your plan, resist the temptation. However, let us remain united and alert, let us remain ready to act within all lawful and peaceful means for our freedom from hunger and tyranny.

Gibson Sibanda,
MDC Vice President.

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The Economist
 
At the receiving end of Mugabe's punch
Jun 12th 2003
From The Economist print edition


Morgan Tsvangirai is now doubly charged with treason

HE MUST be getting used to it by now. On June 10th, Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, appeared in court to be formally charged with treason for a second time. This time, the charge relates to his having tried to organise demonstrations of the sort that the government recently made illegal without police permission, which is rarely granted. The judge ordered that he be held in one of Harare's cells for a month, which will make it harder for him to organise peaceful expressions of popular discontent. His deputy, Welshman Ncube, was also arrested this week, but was released shortly after Mr Tsvangirai's appearance in court.

AFP
AFP

Back inside

Mr Tsvangirai is already part-way through another treason trial. One of President Robert Mugabe's lavishly-paid agents claims that he plotted to assassinate the old man. Even Zimbabwe's tainted legal system might have difficulty convicting Mr Tsvangirai on the basis of such evidence. He was released on bail, perhaps in the hope that he would skip the country. Instead, he stayed, and organised a series of general strikes, including one that shut down most of Zimbabwe's remaining businesses last week.

He also tried to organise street protests, but these were greeted by hovering military helicopters and armoured vehicles with machineguns mounted on rotating turrets. Despite this show of force, several thousand people took to the streets, and were duly tear-gassed and beaten. More than 800 were arrested, according to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party. Suspected ringleaders were rounded up and tortured. At least two people died.

The government threatened that it would revoke the licences of businesses that observed the MDC's call to shut down last week. Some shopkeepers pulled down their shutters because they feared that Mr Mugabe's heavies would start shooting. Factory owners protest that they could hardly have kept the production lines humming when none of their employees arrived to man them. But cancelling the licences of people who do not support him might enable Mr Mugabe to award more licences to his cronies.

In the past, his arbitrary style of government has enriched many within the ruling party, ZANU-PF. Party bigwigs have used their contacts to exploit the rigged exchange rate, or grabbed shares of farms and businesses confiscated from the regime's opponents. But even some of the least scrupulous ZANU hacks are starting to worry that if things carry on this way, there will be no Zimbabwean economy left for them to plunder.

There are growing signs that rage at the regime could evolve into violent unrest. The half or so of the population who are short of food are, perhaps, too weak to revolt. But urban Zimbabweans, furious at the hasty erosion of their living standards, may not be cowed for ever. As Mr Mugabe finds it ever harder to pay his various and sometimes mutually antagonistic security forces (the army, the police and the irregular militia), the danger of a coup grows daily. Alternatively, Zimbabwe might simply collapse.

The government of South Africa, Zimbabwe's powerful neighbour, does not want a failed state on its doorstep, so it is urging talks between the MDC and the government. The MDC insists that such negotiations can be useful only if they lead to a fresh round of elections, which, unlike last year's presidential poll, would have to be free and fair.

Mr Mugabe, however, says that he cannot step down while his people are “disunited”. In a rare interview, he told South African state television this week that he is determined to battle on. “As long as there is that fight, I am for a fight. And I can still punch,” he said. Indeed

 
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thisislancashire

Terrorised in Zimbabwe... mugged on the streets of Blackburn

AN ASYLUM seeker today told how he had escaped Robert Mugabe's henchmen in
Zimbabwe -- only to be mugged in Blackburn.

The man, who would only be identified by his first name, Milton, for fear of
retribution attacks on him and his family back home, fled the trouble-torn
African country last year.

The 34-year-old fled his home in Bulawayo after his friends, fellow members
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, began
disappearing.

He said his brother, a known opponent of Mugabe's dictatorship, was killed
for his beliefs.

Milton was sent to the Mill Hill area of Blackburn last July by the National
Asylum Support Services's dispersal team, and is waiting to see if he will
be granted permanent asylum in Britain.

His only contact with Zimbabwe is by talking to his uncle and watching the
news on television.

And today he revealed he had been intimidated by a gang of youths which hang
around near where he lives -- and last month he was surrounded by robbers,
who pushed him and stole his wallet.

Milton's family are originally from the Matokonye Plumtree area of the
country and he worked as a bore-holer.

Had he not left the country when he did, he fears he would also have been on
Mugabe's list of victims.

He said: "Government gangs had started to come looking for people. At first,
we would tell them where they were, not knowing what they wanted. Then those
people started disappearing and we became afraid.

"They were all members of the MDC like me.

"One day I was told that people had been looking for me. I thought if I
didn't leave, something would happen to me.

"I caught a plane to Spain which then went on to England. After a week or
so, I was sent to Blackburn and I have been trying to make my home here.

"The people have been friendly mostly. I have been attacked and my wallet
taken once, and sometimes I am frightened of the gang who hang around near
where I live, but it is much safer than Zimbabwe.

"I do not know what would have happened to me if I had stayed in Zimbabwe.
It is my home, and I have a lot of memories of it. I cannot go back home
until the regime changes and that cannot happen until someone like America
gets involved."

While Mugabe's regime hit the headlines two years ago for sending in troops
to seize farmland owned by white farmers, more recently he has been
condemned across the world for taking a hardline on opposition activists.

Last week, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested on treason charges for
daring to speak out against Mugabe's government.

Today, Milton said: "My people are too frightened to stand up against the
government but horrible things are happening."

The opposition MDC calculates that between January and November last year,
1,060 MDC activists were tortured, 227 abducted and beaten, 58 murdered, 111
unlawfully detained, and 170 picked up, tortured and released without being
charged.

The Foreign Secretary, Blackburn MP Jack Straw, said he could not comment on
Milton's asylum application as that was a matter for the Home Secretary
David Blunkett and the appeals procedure.

On the wider issue of Zimbabwe's problems, he said: "What's going on in the
country is bad and its also very frustrating.

"We are working very hard with other southern African governments to try and
secure a solution."
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Reuters

     Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai resumes battle to be freed

      By Stella Mapenzauswa
      HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
resumed his battle for freedom after nearly a week in detention over charges
that he tried to organise street protests to overthrow President Robert
Mugabe.

      Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), went
to the country's high court in shackles on Wednesday with a bail application
that was opposed by the state, and the hearing is scheduled to continue on
Thursday.

      Tsvangirai appeared at the heavily guarded Harare courthouse in
handcuffs, leg irons and a flimsy prison uniform before his lawyers won a
court order allowing him to dress in his own clothes in court.

      One of Tsvangirai's lawyers, Innocent Chagonda, told Reuters on
Thursday he expected defence and state lawyers to finish their bail
arguments on Thursday, but added the court might not rule right away.

      "That's really up to the judge who must decide how much time she needs
to consider the case," he said.

      A lower court on Tuesday ordered that Tsvangirai should be held in
detention for another month unless granted bail by the High Court.

      The 51-year-old Tsvangirai formed the MDC three-and-half years ago and
has emerged as the biggest threat to Mugabe's 23 years in power as the
southern African country plunges deeper into its worst political and
economic crisis.

      Tsvangirai was arrested on Friday and accused of treason after the MDC
organised five days of protests and work boycotts last week that paralysed
the country's battered economy.

      The government declared the protests an illegal attempt to topple
Mugabe. The MDC said hundreds were arrested in the subsequent crackdown
which saw police disperse protesters with tear gas, water cannon and rifle
butts.

      Tsvangirai already faces a possible death sentence in a separate
treason trial for an alleged plot to kill Mugabe in 2002. One co-accused in
that trial, MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube, was released on Tuesday
after prosecutors dropped fresh treason charges against him.

      Zimbabwe police chief Augustine Chihuri on Thursday defended the tough
security laws under which Tsvangirai is held, saying former colonial power
Britain's laws were even tougher.

      "POSA (Public Order and Security Act) is there to make sure that we
maintain law and order. People who want to usurp power, who want to be in
power at all costs will always find POSA a bad instrument," the state-owned
Chronicle newspaper quoted him as saying.

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ZIMBABWE: Tough media bills passed


©  
MISA

MISA fears new laws detrimental to media freedom

JOHANNESBURG, 12 Jun 2003 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's parliament on Wednesday passed two media bills which the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) described as the "last nails in the coffin" of press freedom.

"The struggle is now quite difficult for us," MISA-Zimbabwe director Sarah Chiumbu told IRIN after the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Bill and the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill sailed through parliament without objections.

Amendments were needed to the original Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) after a parliamentary committee ruled last year that aspects of the law were unconstitutional. However, according to MISA, the amendments introduced by the Department of Information and Publicity in the Office of the President actually served to toughen AIPPA.

The act introduces a system of licensing of the mass media and journalists through a Media Commission whose board is appointed by the minister of state for information. The registration of media houses and journalists operating in Zimbabwe is mandatory, but is also at the discretion of the commission and, ultimately, the minister.

Minister of state for information, Jonathan Moyo, has argued that AIPPA would serve Zimbabwe's national interests rather than that of Western governments.

However, a MISA report alleged: "The act has one purpose, and that is protecting the institution of the government from scrutiny, by prohibiting and heavily penalising public/media inquiry and scrutiny into its affairs and, in addition, by an unrestrained control over journalists and media companies."

The definitions of "a journalist" and "mass media" are very broad under the amendment. "A journalist is defined as anyone who disseminates information for public consumption, and the definition of the mass media is expanded to include even a church newsletter," MISA information officer Rashweat Mukundu explained.

"The commission has the power to order journalists to appear before it to answer charges of misconduct. But we have courts of law for that - it shouldn't be a commission appointed by a minister," Rashweat said.

"MISA believes in a self-regulated, independent media council," he added.

The Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill, passed on Wednesday, introduced minor changes to the Broadcasting Service Act of 2001, which has also been heavily criticised by MISA and human rights groups for its restrictions on independent radio and television.

"Radio is the only source of information some people have. Theoretically the law allows us to start radio stations, but in reality it's all in the hands of the minister," Rashweat said.

This month the Supreme Court put aside a judgement in the case of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, owners of the country's only private daily, the Daily News, which challenged the constitutionality of the AIPPA registration process. Judgement is still reserved in an eight-month-old case of the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe, who have also challenged AIPPA.

"The only thing left to us are legal challenges, but the legal route is not giving us any reprieve at the moment," said Chiumbu.

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Government Must Help Zimbabwe



The Namibian (Windhoek)

June 12, 2003
Posted to the web June 12, 2003

Lindsay Dentlinger
Windhoek

LEADER of the Congress of Democrats (CoD), Ben Ulenga, is expected to ask
Namibia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Hidipo Hamutenya, to spell out Namibia's
position on the Zimbabwean situation.

Yesterday Ulenga put it to the National Assembly that Government must make
known what it plans to do to assist Zimbabwe from "a complete political and
economic melt down".


This inquiry, he said, was based on Zimbabwe's close political and economic
relationship with Namibia.

In a press release issued at the National Assembly yesterday, the CoD said
events in Zimbabwe in the past week had been "particularly troubling".

Furthermore the party says it condemns the seriously deteriorating human
rights situation and the "erosion of constitutional rule".

The party is calling on Government and President Sam Nujoma to intercede on
behalf of ordinary Zimbabweans.
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iafrica.com

'Quiet diplomacy' failing - Law Society
Posted Thu, 12 Jun 2003

The Law Society of the Northern Provinces expressed concern on Thursday at
the South African government's approach of "quiet diplomacy" to the problems
of Zimbabwe.

"The extent of the human rights abuses in that country makes it impossible
to remain quiet," the society said in a statement.

It urged the government to voice its objections to such abuses.

Among other things, the society was concerned about the detention of human
rights lawyers and what it called the harassment of legal practitioners and
ordinary Zimbabweans.

"Our concern is that legal practitioners are intimidated not to protect or
enforce their clients' rights."

Furthermore, while the Zimbabwean government and opposition parties were
said to be negotiating, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was being
"constantly detained and charged".

The ongoing violation of citizens' rights did not engender much confidence
in "quiet diplomacy", the statement read.

"Our law society needs assurance on the above concerns and believe our
government is legitimately expected to advise us on how it intends to deal
with the Zimbabwe issue ..."


Sapa

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Cape Argus

      Mugabe means business
      June 12, 2003

      By Basildon Peta


      Several Zimbabwean businessmen said they had been visited by agents
from President Robert Mugabe's dreaded spy agency, the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO), and interviewed over their alleged participation in last
week's 5-day stayaway action by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      Some businesses had been barred from opening as punishment.

      The businessmen said they were fearing for the worst after industry
and international trade minister Samuel Mumbengegwi announced on Tuesday
that six companies would be shut down for taking part in the MDC action.

      Mumbengegwi said expatriate workers in these companies
      would have their work permits revoked and they would be deported. He
did not name them.

      "I was visited today after Mumbengegwi made his announcement. I was
told my company's licence would be withdrawn if my reasons for not opening
are found to be unsatisfactory," said one businessman on condition of
anonymity.

      Another businessman said: "I am not sure whether they will go ahead
and actually implement these threats. It could be that they want to threaten
us in such a way that no business will ever heed a future strike call by the
opposition."

      Analysts said Zimbabwean businessmen should take the threats to shut
them down very seriously.

      "They are likely to select some companies and shut them down and make
them an example of how other companies that don't co-operate with the
government calls to ignore the opposition will be treated in future," said
University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe.

      "They want to create a lesson for the rest of the industry. It's all
part of Robert Mugabe's desperation to thwart any future protests planned
against his government."

      The opposition has vowed to continue with more protests to
      force Mugabe to resign or come to the negotiating table to discuss a
settlement of the Zimbabwe crisis. The government's action against companies
and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's continued arrest were all meant to thwart
any such future protests.

      "They know it's a long haul. There will be more demos against them and
they want to make sure these don't take off the ground at all," said
Makumbe.

      Another University of Zimbabwe analyst said it won't be surprising if
Mugabe victimised many more firms.

      "It's not surprising at all. Mugabe has become the greatest weapon of
mass destruction in Zimbabwe," he said. "He doesn't care that the mere
threat of closing down companies will cost a lot of jobs and investment even
if he doesn't carry it through."

      Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, spent
his sixth night in jail after the High Court adjourned his bail hearing to
today. He faces charges of treason and plotting to kill Mugabe. - Daily News
Correspondent

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VOA
 
Zimbabwe Opposition Satisfied with Strike Results
Tendai Maphosa
Harare
12 Jun 2003, 16:25 UTC
 

Almost a week has past since the strikes and mass protests called by the opposition in Zimbabwe. The government and media outlets controlled by the government say the protests did not achieve anything, but the opposition considers them very successful.

For the government media, the opposition-called protests were a big failure. The stories that they have been running invariably describe them as a "flop."

AP Photo
AP
Paul Themba Nyathi
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, however, sees the action as a major victory.

"It is the first time in the history of struggles for human rights that a political party succeeds in shutting down the country for five days," said Paul Themba Nyathi, the party's spokesperson. "It is not just about shutting the country down for five days that we feel was a measure of victory, it is the confidence that sort of thing gave the people of Zimbabwe."

Mr. Nyathi said that the so-called "final push," as his party called last week's action, was meant to be part of a process to force President Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party to the negotiating table. And he said there has been a reaction from ZANU-PF

"I can tell you that we are receiving approaches from ZANU-PF for serious talks, and my view is that the mass stay-away, the final push, contributed immensely to that," Mr. Nyathi said.

AP Photo
AP
Morgan Tsvangirai, center, arrives at the Magistrates courts in Harare
But Mr. Nyathi was unwilling to give any details about possible talks between ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change about resolving Zimbabwe's political impasse.

The MDC spokesman also acknowledged that there are differing views within his party, but he denied that there are any rifts.

"There are always rich and robust debates within the MDC about any action, there are always different views," he said. "But at the end of it, there is always consensus about the way forward."

Speaking of the arrest of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr. Nyathi described it as an attempt by government to get his party to react, but he said the Movement for Democratic Change will not be provoked. He said it will take action at a time of its own choosing.

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