The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe’s Continuing Self-Destruction

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Africa Briefing N°38
6 June 2006
With scheduled presidential elections less than eighteen months away, Zimbabwe faces the prospect of greater insecurity and violence. The economy’s free fall has deepened public anger, and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party wants to avoid a popular vote by using the legislature it controls to establish a “transitional presidency” and appoint a successor to Robert Mugabe, who has said he will retire. By engineering a transition, Mugabe also intends to secure a dignified personal exit that includes a retirement package and security guarantees. However, such plans may come unglued due to wrangling within ZANU-PF. Through all this the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been weakened by a major leadership split.
Low voter turnout in November 2005 deprived the newly created senate of any legitimacy, but the exercise further tightened ZANU-PF’s grip on political power and patronage. Creation of the senate gave an initial head start to the ZANU-PF faction aligned to Vice President Joyce Mujuru in the presidential succession race, although the fortunes of the competing ZANU-PF faction led by the Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities, Emmerson Mnangagwa, have recently improved.
ZANU-PF’s policies, corruption and repressive governance are directly responsible for the severe economic slide, growing public discontent and international isolation. In April 2006, inflation officially topped 1,000 per cent, helped by the decision to print $230 million worth of Zimbabwean currency to pay international debts and sustain operations. Unemployment is over 85 per cent, poverty over 90 per cent, and foreign reserves are almost depleted. Over four million persons are in desperate need of food. HIV/AIDS and malnutrition kill thousands every month. Agriculture, the major source of foreign currency earnings, has been particularly hard hit. There are severe shortages of basic consumer items, and the prices of fuel and food are beyond the reach of many. The 2005 “Operation Murambatsvina” to clear urban slums forcibly deprived more than 18 per cent of the population of homes or livelihoods and badly damaged the informal sector, the lifeline for many urban poor.
Fearing street protests to mark Murambatsvina’s anniversary in May, the government has moved increasingly close to martial law. It has banned rallies, marches and prayer meetings during the period surrounding the anniversary and put security forces on high alert. Growing numbers of students, religious activists and members of other civil society groups have been detained.
The rising influence of the military leadership in the succession struggle is troubling. Zimbabwe’s armed forces have always been a pillar of the ruling party’s power but recent months have seen increasing military involvement in the party machinery and policy formulation. The crumbling economy has meant a loss of government revenues, and the military rank and file are being paid less and at irregular intervals, leading them into criminality, allegedly including cross-border armed robbery. Government difficulties in paying the troops raise a question of whether the security forces can still be relied on to put down protests.
The current division within the main opposition party MDC began over differences in strategy regarding the November 2005 senate elections. While both factions agree on constitutional reform, elections in 2008 and a blueprint for economic recovery, they are divided over participating in government and elections while ZANU-PF can dictate events in the legislative and tilt the electoral field. Unless the opposition can put aside its feuds and coalesce around a unified position, it will be difficult to maximise domestic pressure on ZANU-PF to change its approach. The faction led by party president Morgan Tsvangirai – which commands a larger following than that led by Welshman Ncube and newcomer Arthur Mutambara – has unveiled a program of “democratic resistance” and intends to pursue a non-violent campaign to compel the government to agree to a democratic constitution and hold parliamentary and presidential elections in March 2008. It is backed by important parts of civil society including the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Early rallies have attracted large crowds, reasserting the greater relative strength of the Tsvangirai group in comparison to its MDC rival.
The fissures within both ZANU-PF and the MDC are unfortunate in light of the fact that confidential 2004 talks, facilitated by South Africa and recently made public by President Thabo Mbeki, nearly produced a deal on a new constitution that could still serve as a starting point for a transitional roadmap. South Africa has tried to use financial leverage, in the form of a credit line, to press for new inter-party constitutional talks, repeal of repressive laws and an economic recovery plan. Mugabe sidestepped the initiative by printing enough currency to repay debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in February 2006.
The July 2006 summit of African heads of state and government offers an opportunity to mobilise continental leaders behind a call for urgent action to protect human rights in Zimbabwe and regional stability. While tactical engagement by non-African governments with those very few more reform-oriented figures within ZANU-PF may have merit, there should be no relaxation of travel bans or financial sanctions in place against key members of the regime or any developmental assistance until there is real change on the ground. Unfortunately, the best the international community may be able to do at this stage is maintain pressure and plan carefully how to support a transition when opportunities finally arise for reengagement. Tentative steps by the UN Secretary-General to become more involved in facilitating such a transition are welcome but seem unlikely to gain traction.
Pretoria/Brussels, 6 June 2006

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Archbishop: Mugabe using Zimbabwe’s clergy to spy and divide church

SW Radio
By Violet Gonda
5 June 2006
A senior clergyman has revealed how Mugabe is using divide and rule tactics to silence opposition from the clergy. Some clerics are allegedly attending church meetings to spy for the government.
These allegations were made by Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, who said the church in Zimbabwe has generally lost credibility as a result of the government meddling. Speaking on SW Radio Africa’s Hot Seat programme Archbishop Ncube said, “The Church has let down the people very, very greatly by siding with Mugabe – hook, line and sinker.”
The outspoken Roman Catholic cleric alleged that the Mugabe regime has also used bribes to get support from some senior church leaders. “I can confirm that a lot of money is being given to clerics and farms have been given to senior clerics, to get them to the government side in such a way that when we meet as clergy we can no longer be united.”
Although he didn’t want to name specific people who have received bribes, saying it would become nasty and very personal, he did say church leaders like Anglican Bishop Norbert Kunonga and a Pastor Msindo are well known for having received a farm. The corruption also extends to clergymen in the Catholic Church. The Archbishop said he was one of those people offered a farm but refused. He said, “I am a respectable Catholic, so I refused. I knew they wanted to silence me because I am critical of the land reform programme which is not transparent.”
Ncube said Mugabe is aware of the power of the churches in Zimbabwe and has divided and bribed some of the leaders to the extent that “we have become unfaithful to our calling… we as churchmen are supposed to stand with the poor to defend the poor and we have forgotten our mission.”
He said he’d rather be poor than accept the government’s bribes because there is a lot of suffering in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile Zimbabwean writer Cathy Buckle wrote in her weekly column “Letter from Zimbabwe” that she was saddened this past week to watch a delegation of church leaders being filmed by state television at a meeting with Robert Mugabe, laughing almost uncontrollably as he hurled abuse at Archbishop Ncube.
Buckle wrote, “For a few moments the address actually had to stop because the clerics were giggling and chortling so much. The cause for their hilarity was President Mugabe's reference to Archbishop Pius Ncube's public statement that he was praying for the President's death.”
She went on to say, “I sat in shock, overwhelmed with despair. This public display of hilarity represented the moral leadership of our country. These are the men who are supposed to be taking the pain and suffering of ordinary people to the President and appealing for an end to the horrific deprivations. Their laughter went beyond the bounds of diplomacy and even if it was just for show or for the camera, it sent a chill through the air.”
The clerics were part of a group of church leaders from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) who met Mugabe at State House where they threw their support behind the government.
The Standard newspaper reported that the Secretary-General of the ZCC Densen Mafinyane said during the meeting with Mugabe: “We love Zimbabwe and support your (government) efforts.” And ZCC President Bishop Peter Nemapare also sang praises of the government. “We know we have a government that we must support, interact with and draw attention (to concerns)," he said.
Responding to this Ncube said: “The leader of the ZCC is a staunch supporter of Mugabe from time immemorial. I mean, he himself is a very corrupt person who has misused church property and so on… Bishop Nemapare - clearly this man has always been backing Mugabe… defending Mugabe and he is the one who was leading this delegation.”
He added, “It ‘s a very, very painful situation… and Mugabe is trying to clean himself up and to try and laugh with those clerics, those hypocritical clerics that are backing him. It’s no laughing matter what is going on in Zimbabwe. It’s a life and death situation.”
The cleric said the church should have done something as a united front way back in 2000, “But as churches we kept dilly dallying and playing the card of sovereignty of Zimbabwe – playing the card of patriotism being hoodwinked in all sorts of ways and now we find ourselves in a situation where churches have lost their credibility.”
We were not able to get a comment from the ‘compromised’ church leaders.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabwe opposition slates registration moves

    June 06 2006 at 11:09AM 
Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition party says proposals to amend electoral laws to force all political parties to register are "a clear assault on democracy", a newspaper reported Tuesday.
Zimbabwe's political parties are currently registered as voluntary organisations, a situation the ruling party of President Robert Mugabe wants to change.
The Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)-dominated parliament is to debate recommendations by the state-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) for all parties to be registered.
This, the ESC said in a report last year, would prevent the emergence of "rogue parties".
'This is a shame to the integrity of our nation'
But legislators from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are not in favour of the proposals, reports the official Herald newspaper.
"The recommendation is a clear assault on democracy," said Tendai Biti, MDC member of parliament for Harare East.

Biti said there was a constitutional provision protecting the existence of political parties.
"The existence of political parties and trade unions is guaranteed in terms of section 21 of the constitution which deals with freedom of association and assembly," the MP was quoted as saying.
State media has suggested that the registration of parties will allow the authorities to weed out those planning "sabotage", a word that is emotionally charged for the MDC.
In March several opposition politicians were arrested and accused of planning acts of sabotage after a stash of weapons was discovered in the eastern city of Mutare. The charges were later dropped.
National Security Minister Didymus Mutasa on Monday appeared to stoke the fears of the MDC. Although he did not mention the party by name, he said there were "some parties bent on destabilising the nation", the Herald reported.
"This is a shame to the integrity of our nation. We should have a law that provides for the registration of political parties," he said.
Senior opposition politician Welshman Ncube said the registration proposals were a "futile exercise", the Herald reported. - Sapa-dpa

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Eighteen slain in Zimbabwe crash

    June 06 2006 at 03:09PM  
Harare - Eighteen people died and 43 were injured early on Tuesday when a truck carrying mourners crashed into a tree in western Zimbabwe, a police spokesperson told AFP.
"Eighteen people were killed on the spot after the truck they were travelling in veered off the road and hit a tree... along the Harare-Chirundu highway," police inspector Andrew Phiri said.
The truck was carrying mourners going to the town of Majunge for a funeral, he said.
The accident is the latest in a string of road disasters which have killed at least 40 people in the past month.
The Zimbabwean government last month mooted tougher road regulations to ensure all drivers obey traffic rules.

Under the proposed regulations, drivers involved in an accident would have their licences suspended for six months on the first offence. A second offence within five years would lead to a life ban. - Sapa-AFP 

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Zimbabwe funeral accident kills 18, injures 42


Tuesday, June 6, 2006 Posted: 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- A Zimbabwe police truck carrying mourners to a funeral veered off the road and hit a tree, killing 18 people, officials said on Tuesday.
Police spokesman Inspector Andrew Phiri said 42 people were injured in the accident in Zimbabwe's northern district of Chirundu as the mourners traveled to the burial of an officer. He did not say why the vehicle went off the road.
Last month 35 people died within three days on Zimbabwe's roads in a spate of accidents largely blamed on reckless driving and unroadworthy vehicles.
Analysts say soaring prices are forcing Zimbabwe motorists to use worn-out tires on their vehicles, while omitting crucial maintenance work, as the country struggles with a deepening economic crisis most aptly illustrated in having the world's highest inflation rate at 1,042.9 percent.
Copyright 2006 Reuters.

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Activists in Zimbabwe Angered by Top Opposition Leader

VOA news

By Peta Thornycroft
06 June 2006

Human rights activists in Zimbabwe are accusing one of the country's most senior opposition leaders of threatening violence to maintain his position as the head of a pro democracy organization.
Three weeks ago, Lovemore Madhuku was preparing for another demonstration against President Robert Mugabe's rule. He is chairman of Zimbabwe's largest and most militant pro democracy organization, the National Constitutional Assembly, which is funded by German taxpayers.
The central theme of the protests are usually the same, the need for a new, more democratic constitution for Zimbabwe.
Madhuku often leads the demonstrations, and is regularly beaten up by police.
Now, Madhuku is being accused by some of his colleagues in the NCA and an opposition political party of authoritarian behavior.
The incident which has stirred anger among pro-democracy supporters came during a recent party meeting where Madhuku rallied majority support to change the NCA's constitution so he could serve a third term as chairman. The NCA constitution limits chairmen to two terms.
Local news reports have quoted members of the NCA executive body who say Madhuku supporters threatened NCA officials with violence when they expressed opposition to the idea of a third term.
Madhuku has denied the accusations in press reports, saying a majority of members wanted to change the constitution, because they felt he was the best person for the job.
John Makumbe, veteran political analyst and human rights activist, has accused Madhuku of setting an unfortunate precedent, and abandoning the moral high ground.
He also deplored the continuing silence from the human rights community on the "Madhuku scandal," as he called it.
So far the only call for Makumbe's resignation from the NCA has come from the faction of the bitterly divided opposition party: the Movement or Democratic Change, lead by Arthur Mutambara.
He called on Madhuku to quit immediately saying he had lost the moral authority to criticize President Mugabe's human rights abuses and violations of the national constitution.
He says Madhuku's behavior has shamed all Zimbabwe's democratic forces.
A western diplomat said Monday donor funding for the human rights community of non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe is now under review, following the Madhuku incident.

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Zimbabwe facing meltdown


The Zimbabwean authorities do not want the world to know about its plight - all western news organisations have been banned from reporting from there
5.55PM, Tue Jun 6 2006

Undercover pictures from inside Zimbabwe show the country is on the slippery slope to economic and political collapse.
Inflation in Zimbabwe is now running at more than a 1,000 per cent. Money is virtually without value.
The average wage for farmworkers is about two million Zimbabwean dollars a month - equivalent to around £10 pounds. And yet a basket of food can cost five million dollars.
The Zimbabwean authorities don't want the world to know about its plight - all western news organisations have been banned from reporting from there.
However, exclusive pictures from Martin Geissler show the extent of the country's plight.
Earlier, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said Zimbabwe's political tensions had left President Robert Mugabe's government "increasingly desperate and dangerous" with no clear plan for resolving the southern African country's woes.
The Brussels-based group said Zimbabwe's economic freefall, the looming end of Robert Mugabe's presidency, and cracks in the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), could all trigger unrest.
The African Union, it said, should use next month's summit in Gambia to call for urgent action on Zimbabwe to protect regional stability.
Mr Mugabe insists he is not to blame for Zimbabwe's economic problems, pointing instead at sabotage by his domestic and Western opponents in retaliation for his seizure of white-owned commercial farms for blacks.
The ICG said Zimbabwe faced the prospect of greater insecurity and violence in the run-up to 2008 elections when Mr Mugabe's current six-year presidential term ends - with power struggles over who might succeed him engulfing both the ruling party and the opposition.
Mr Mugabe, 82, has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980 and denies charges by both the MDC and several Western countries that he has rigged polls to stay in power since 2000.

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