MDC News Alert
Less than an hour ago MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai was arrested by police at his home in Harare in connection with the
nationwide protests that begin today and are scheduled to last until Friday.
Police also visited the home of MDC Secretary General Professor Welshman Ncube
at 1.00am this morning in an attempt to arrest him. Professor Ncube was not at
home at the time.
Email from Zim:
Have just done a reccee through central Harare (
9am - 10am ) - many police on corners, some on horseback, but no army. Many
people just wandering around - almost a total shut down of business. Avondale
shut down except for IB cafe and Wimpy. Zupco buses have an armed policeman on
board. One roadblock coming into town on 2nd street before North
02 Jun 2003 08:03:48 GMT
Tear gas fired at
June 2 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean police fired tear gas and warning
demonstrators in one Harare township on Monday, the first day of a
opposition protests against President Robert Mugabe, witnesses said.
said protesters scattered following the police action in Highfield,
Harare. Several people were seen lying on the ground. Earlier on
police detained opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai released
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Zimbabwean
opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, has been released after
being arrested at
his home earlier today charged with planning an illegal
The move comes at the beginning of a week of
planned demonstrations and
strikes by the opposition, to protest against the
government of President
The High Court had declared the
demonstrations illegal at the weekend, but
Mr Tsvangirai remainded defiant,
and had intended filing an appeal against
the ruling at the Supreme Court
Police road blocks have been set up on all main roads leading to
capital, Harare. Despite this, many businesses appear to be closed as
of the strike. Demonstrations organised by the opposition are thought to
taking place later today.
The government has promised to crackdown
hard on demonstrators. Sidney
Sekeramayi, the defence minister, talking on
national television said: "Our
soil is very sacrosanct. We shall not allow it
to be recolonized.". The
government claims that the MDC is funded by the
British government. Pictures
of troops being deployed, and file footage of
tear gas being used during
earlier demonstrations were shown.
have been distributed in the streets by governement officials: "No
action. No to British puppets. Let the workers go to work, let the
go to school and let the banks and businesses remain open.
Businesses who close for the strike have been told
they will have their
operating licenses withdrawn.
Zimbabwe's banking chief steps
- Zimbabwe's banking chief Leonard Tsumba has stepped down amid
the central bank's handling of a crippling shortage of bank
state-run Sunday Mail said.
The paper said Tsumba, the governor of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for the
past 10 years, had gone on leave "with
immediate effect pending retirement
on July 31".
No reason was given
for Tsumba's decision to go on early leave, but earlier
this week the
Reserve Bank came under fire for the crippling shortages of
bank notes that
have gripped the country.
Thousands of Zimbabweans have spent hours
queueing outside banks only to
find their cash withdrawals strictly
The Sunday Mail said the government would now be looking at
ensuring the Reserve Bank "plays a development role and not the
role it has performed under... Dr Tsumba".
Profile: Morgan Tsvangirai
BBC News Online
Morgan Tsvangirai has
risen from working in a mine to becoming one of
the most important political
figures in Zimbabwe - even if his dreams of
becoming president remain
He is a brave man - running the risk of arrest or
emerging several years ago as a credible challenger to
He has already told his supporters that
if anything happens to him,
they should carry on the
As the leader of Zimbabwe's opposition, he has been
called a traitor
on many occasions, been brutally assaulted and been charged
with treason and
He told a rally of his Movement for
Democratic Change: "If Mugabe does
not go peacefully, he will be removed by
The 50-year-old son of a bricklayer
says this was not a threat of
armed rebellion but a warning of popular
The charges were deemed unconstitutional but he does
have a tendency
to open his mouth before considering the
The IMF are devils
Just before elections in 2002, a mysterious video
tape emerged, which
allegedly showed Mr Tsvangirai discussing how to
assassinate Mr Mugabe with
a Canadian consultancy, Dickens and
The head of the consultancy, Ari Ben-Menashe, used to work
lobbyist for the Zimbabwe Government and he calls Mr Tsvangirai "stupid"
even speaking to him, let alone allegedly discussing killing the
Mr Tsvangirai was charged yet again and this is still
hanging over his
Mr Mugabe snootily calls him an
"ignoramus" because of his humble
background and lack of
The catalyst for Mr
Tsvangirai's transformation was his career in the
After being plant foreman of the Bindura Nickel Mine for 10 years, he
the unionist ladder until in 1988, he was elected secretary-general
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
economy declined and workers' living standards
plummeted, the ZCTU took an
increasingly political role.
When Mr Mugabe tried to raise income
tax to pay pensions for veterans
of the 1970s war of independence, a
ZCTU-organised nationwide strike forced
him to back down.
his part in defeating Mr Mugabe and the war veterans, a group of
into Mr Tsvangirai's office, hit him on the head with a metal bar
attempted to throw him out of his 10th floor window.
This was a
foretaste of the war veterans' campaign of violence, which
has led to the
deaths of over 100 MDC supporters in the past two years.
Buoyed by its initial victory, the ZCTU held further strikes
the government's "economic mismanagement".
But Mr Mugabe
stood firm and after intense debate, the ZCTU helped
establish the MDC in
Its nationwide structures were crucial in helping
the young party
campaign for the June 2000 parliamentary elections, in which
it won 57
seats - the best opposition showing in the country's
Despite its foundations in the black working class, Mr
Mugabe says the
MDC is a puppet of white farmers and the UK
And many white farmers do support, campaign for and
help finance the
The state machinery never tires of
reminding voters that Mr Tsvangirai
did not participate in the guerrilla war
against white minority rule.
Tsvangirai says that the farmers support the MDC's manifesto -
redistributing land to blacks - and do not influence policy.
television pictures of white farmers queuing up to sign cheques
with the MDC
leader looking on were a propaganda coup for Mr Mugabe and some
of the president fear that "he who pays the piper calls
For the moment, Morgan Tsvangirai is the figurehead
for all the
disparate groups opposed to Mr Mugabe: unemployed and low-wage
wealthy white farmers and industrialists and ethnic Ndebeles who
the government's murderous campaign against them in the early
As a former miner and unionist, his heart is social
He used to blame many of Zimbabwe's economic woes on
structural adjustment programme.
"The IMF are devils,"
he once told the BBC's Focus on Africa - a
position which Mr Mugabe would
Now, he is working closely with industrialists who
argue that market
forces should be left to solve Zimbabwe's economic problems
on their own,
without any government interference.
Tsvangirai can at least wait before tackling the
within his party, as that generally only happens
Zimbabwe protest to 'shake'
|Former Guardian newspaper
correspondent in Zimbabwe Andrew Meldrum tells the BBC his views on the
opposition protests called for this week.
The first thing that is beyond doubt is that the national strike, the
stayaway from work, will be effective for the four-five days and will close the
The Movement for
Democratic Change has already proved twice in the past two months that it has
the force with the people to be able to make those strikes effective.
Mugabe has no intention of going
Getting people out on the streets when the police and the army are showing
such overwhelming force is another question.
Some people are expecting a kind of overwhelming show of people. Let us say
hundreds of thousands of people that would surround the seat of government and
force a toppling of government - something like what happened to Milosevic in
I don't believe that is what is going to happen. I think it may be smaller
groups of people in the various townships around Harare and maybe a small group
in the city centre. But even that will be enough to shake the foundations of the
Can we take it
for granted that the security authorities' response will be, shall we say,
Very robust - and there are already tanks and armoured personnel carriers in
the townships outside of Harare.
There are armed roadblocks ringing the city and in other major cities in
Zimbabwe the police and the party itself has warned that it is going to deal
forcefully with those and teach them a lesson. So, yes, I think there is a very
real danger of a strong measure of force.
We have seen
plenty of strikes before, we have seen plenty of demonstrations before as well,
what sets this week apart?
Both of the national strikes that happened in the past couple of months
rattled the government a great deal. This strike is going to do the same thing.
But also the public demonstrations are going to weaken the view of Mr Mugabe
amongst his African allies, from South Africa to Nigeria.
They are going to see that the majority of the people are not only against
the government, many people are willing to come out in a show of force against
And that is going to weaken the perception of Mugabe.
He is already being pressed by fellow African leaders, by the Commonwealth as
well as of course by the EU and Britain and the US.
This is going to weaken the perception of Mr Mugabe as a man of power.
Tsvangirai is saying that the political landscape will never be the same again.
You are effectively saying the same thing. A week from now what is that
landscape going to be looking like?
I think it is going to be much more difficulty for Mr Mugabe to avoid having
negotiations with the opposition party and it is going to be much more
difficulty for him to say that a transition period leading to free and fair
elections is out of the question.
It is certainly going to be impossible for Mr Mugabe to set preconditions for
these negotiations. In other words time is running out for him.
He has an opportunity to negotiate his exit at this point but pretty soon I
think that that he will lose control of even that.