By James Butty
14 March 2007
Some Zimbabwean opposition activists who were detained for taking part in a
protest Sunday were temporarily released late Tuesday night to the custody
of their lawyers and told to return to court later Wednesday. Shortly
before their release, Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Charge
leaders had been held under police guard at the Avenue Hospital in the
Nelson Chamisa is spokesman for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and one of
those beaten and arrested Sunday by Zimbabwe police. He described police
treatment of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai from his hospital bed shortly
before their release late Tuesday night.
"Mr. Tsvangirai has been detained at the hospital for medication and proper
hospitalization. According to the doctor, Mr. Tsvangirai sustained a big cut
on his head arising from the assault by the central intelligence people and
ZANU-PF militia while he was in police custody," he said.
Chamisa said the Zimbabwe High Court had mandated the police to take Mr.
Tsvangirai and the other wounded MDC leaders to the hospital for medical
treatment before their appearance in court.
"When we got to the court in the afternoon at the insistence of our lawyer,
because we applied to the high court to try and have Mr. Tsvangirai and the
rest of the leaders, including myself, to be brought to court. And we got
that order from the high court; the police were now under pressure to get us
to the magistrate court for appearance. But when we got there, it was clear
that most of the people were not fit to stand before the court. So they were
asked to be hospitalized by the court to be checked in terms of their
medical fitness. And of course, that's how we ended up here where we are.
Unfortunately, we are still under police custody," Chamisa said.
Chamisa disclosed that all hospitalized MDC activists had police officers
posted by their hospital beds to ensure they did not escape from the
Struggling to stand upright and with a deep gash on the side of his head, Morgan Tsvangirai was brought before a Zimbabwean court yesterday.
But the opposition leader refused any further medical treatment until all his fellow detainees were allowed to go to hospital.
Mr Tsvangirai arrived at the magistrates' court in the capital, Harare, with about 50 others, including several terribly wounded women, in an open truck. They sang songs of defiance against President Robert Mugabe's regime.
After being arrested on Sunday for trying to attend a prayer meeting the authorities had deemed an illegal gathering, Mr Tsvangirai was severely tortured by police.
"I am all right," he said, emerging from the packed courtroom and shaking hands with well-wishers, including Andrew Pocock, the British ambassador in Harare,
Mr Tsvangirai winced in pain, his eyes so puffed and bloodshot he could barely see. The left side of his body was hunched and the stitches sewn into a deep wound on his head were clearly visible.
Memory Mapai, 38, mother of one child and a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), could barely walk. She was assisted by a wounded party official, Grace Kwinjeh.
Mrs Mapai's thin legs were blistered from blows. She clutched her side, and said in a weak voice: "The pain is very bad. I was tortured at Machipisa [police station]. But we will not stop."
Elliot Mangoma, a prominent Harare businessman and MDC official, had to be carried in and out of court to the ambulance as his left leg was broken. "Tell the world about this," he said.
One young man was heaved into court by fellow detainees. He lay writhing in pain for at least an hour on the floor of Court 6, before the police allowed him to be taken away on a stretcher.
He was too weak even to whisper his name.
"This was ghastly, barbaric treatment," said Mr Pocock, who was at first refused entrance to the court.
"Morgan Tsvangirai has been very badly beaten but he remains strong, they all seem in good spirits. This government is under international scrutiny, and it is under enormous economic pressure. I don't know what comes next."
Earlier, lawyers for the detainees had reported to Mr Justice Chinembiri Bhunu that police were defying an order he issued on Monday granting all the prisoners medical treatment and legal representation.
Police responded by bringing the detainees to the court yesterday. But no charges were pressed against Mr Tsvangirai or any of the others. Police had failed to complete the necessary paperwork and no hearing could proceed.
Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, the attorney-general, ordered that the entire group should be detained at a private hospital in Harare. Only when this assurance of medical treatment for every prisoner was given did Mr Tsvangirai agree to go to hospital.
As he emerged from the dirty courtroom under police escort, hundreds of supporters began singing the African anthem, "Nkosi Sikelele Afrika", or "God Bless Africa".
The treatment meted out to Mr Tsvangirai and his followers drew worldwide condemnation, led by Condoleezza Rice, the American secretary of state.
She said: "The world community again has been shown that the regime of Robert Mugabe is ruthless and repressive and creates only suffering for the people of Zimbabwe.
"The United States calls for the immediate and unconditional release of those individuals detained by the government of Zimbabwe."
Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, has made no public comment on the situation. But Lord Triesman, the junior foreign office minister responsible for Africa, said: "The UK holds Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe government responsible for the safety of all those detained, urges the police to allow them access to legal advice, to provide them with medical care and to arrange for their immediate release."
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki's has always refrained from condemning Mr Mugabe. But Aziz Pahad, his deputy foreign minister, called on the regime to abide by the "rule of law" and "respect the rights of all Zimbabweans", including the "leaders of various political parties".
New York Times
By MICHAEL WINES
Published: March 14, 2007
JOHANNESBURG, March 13 - The Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and 49 other antigovernment protesters were sent to a Harare hospital for
treatment on Tuesday, two days after the police arrested and beat them for
their efforts to hold a protest meeting.
The violence continued to draw international condemnation, including an
unusual, if muted, rebuke on Tuesday from neighboring South Africa, which
has seldom criticized President Robert G. Mugabe's authoritarian government.
Zimbabwean officials were unrepentant and cast the assaults on the
protesters as necessary to prevent attacks on the police and more political
Parts of Harare, the capital, have been off limits to political protests
amid discontent over the country's economic collapse. The police have
patrolled the city in force since February, when an attack by riot police
officers on a political rally in a southern suburb descended into a street
Limping and missing a large patch of hair, apparently because of a head
wound, Mr. Tsvangirai appeared in a Harare court on Tuesday before being
sent to the hospital, his lawyers said.
The government ignored an earlier order by the nation's High Court to allow
lawyers and doctors to talk to and examine the imprisoned protesters. Late
Monday, a second High Court order demanded that they either be charged with
offenses or released by midday Tuesday.
News agency reports said Mr. Tsvangirai and a second opposition leader,
Arthur Mutambara, stood side by side in the court before police ejected
outsiders and sealed off the building. The two men lead rival factions of
the Movement for Democratic Change, the only opposition party of note in a
nation dominated by Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
One of Mr. Tsvangirai's lawyers, Alec Muchadehama, said Mr. Tsvangirai
suffered deep cuts to his head, a badly battered right eye and other
injuries during his two days in jail. Mr. Muchadehama said the civic leader
Lovemore Madhuku suffered a broken arm "and injuries all over his body and
deep cuts to his head."
Mr. Madhuku heads the National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe's largest
civic group, which promotes political change. A frequent object of arrests
and harassment in recent months, he appeared in court on Tuesday with his
head and one hand swathed in bandages, news agencies reported.
Because the police emptied spectators from the courtroom before the
proceedings began, it was unclear what occurred during the hearing. Mr.
Muchadehama said no one had been charged so far in connection with the
planned meeting on Sunday in a poor southern Harare neighborhood called
Highfield. One man was shot and killed by the police during the crackdown.
The police reported that three officers were injured and said that some
members of the opposition threw rocks and other objects at them.
Before Mr. Tsvangirai was driven from the court to the hospital in a police
vehicle, news agencies reported, he shouted, "The police assaulted
defenseless civilians, but the struggle continues."
Zimbabwe's economic deterioration, fueled by 1,700-percent-a-year inflation
and a pervasive shortage of basic goods, has emboldened critics of Mr.
Mugabe's government, who are increasingly ignoring police warnings against
public protest. The 83-year-old Mr. Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since its
independence in 1980, also faces growing unhappiness within his ruling
party, many political analysts say.
The European Union and the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon,
joined the United States on Tuesday in condemning the crackdown. In a
written statement, the United Nations' human rights commissioner, Louise
Arbour, cited "shocking reports of police abuse" and called for an inquiry
by Zimbabwe's government into the violence.
South Africa's deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, urged Zimbabwe "to
ensure that the rule of law, including respect for the rights of all
Zimbabweans and leaders of various political parties, is respected,"
according to a statement issued in his name.
The Zimbabwe government did not immediately respond to the criticism. Its
crackdown on political dissent spread Tuesday to one of Mr. Mugabe's
sharpest critics, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, whose offices were
raided by the government's secret police, the Central Intelligence
By Staff Reporters
Last updated: 03/14/2007 10:54:04
ARTHUR Mutambara, the leader of one of the two factions of Zimbabwe's
splintered opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was hauled from
his hospital bed and driven to court late Tuesday night with dozens of other
bruised and bloodied opposition activists.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the other MDC faction leader remained at Harare's Avenues
Clinic under police guard.
Following the late night unscheduled court appearence, Mutambara, who was
nursing head wounds, was released into the custody of his lawyers and
ordered to return to court on Wednesday.
Mutambara's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said no state prosecutor or magistrate
was at the court when the group was led to court around 10PM.
"The fact that there was no prosecutor, no magistrate, no court officials,
only police, says a lot," she said. "It says that we are in a police state."
Mtetwa said about 12 of the 50 activists who had been arrested Sunday
remained at a hospital, including Tsvangirai.
Mtetwa said police forced Tsvangirai, Mutambara and many of her other
clients to lay face down and then beat them savagely and repeatedly with
truncheons both at the scene of the arrests and at police stations.
She said the state intended to charge the activists with incitement to
violence for holding the rally organised by Zimbabwean churches. Formal bail
had not been granted to any of them, she said.
"We do not know why we are going back to court, if there is a case against
them or not," she said.
During a brief court appearance earlier Tuesday, the bruised and bandaged
activists shuffled into the room, many singing and chanting in defiance of
the heavy police presence.
British Ambassador Andrew Pockock, who was in court, said the right side of
Tsvangirai's face was swollen, including his eyes. "It was damn barbaric,"
the envoy told reporters.
A crowd outside sang and waved the party's open hand salute as the MDC
leaders and about six other injured activists left. Tsvangirai, his soiled
shirt almost completely unbuttoned, appeared disoriented as he walked slowly
and boarded an emergency vehicle unaided.
One activist was taken from court on a stretcher, two stumbled on crutches,
and a young woman unable to walk was helped into an ambulance by paramedics.
"The world community again has been shown that the regime of Robert Mugabe
is ruthless and repressive and creates only suffering for the people of
Zimbabwe," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She called for the
"immediate and unconditional release" of the activists.
Mutambara had head wounds, Grace Kwinje also had head wounds around his ear
and Lovemore Madhuku, head of the National Constitutional Assembly, suffered
a broken arm.
Police used tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition to crush Sunday's
gathering by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of opposition, church
and civic groups, in Harare's western township of Highfield.
Police shot and killed one opposition activist, identified as Gift Tandare.
Two mourners were slightly injured Tuesday at his funeral in skirmishes with
police, witnesses said.
Among those arrested Sunday in Highfield were two journalists on assignment
for The Associated Press, Harare freelance photographer Tsvangirayi Mukwahzi
and freelance television producer Tendai Musiya. Both were also released
from official custody but Musiya was still undergoing medical checks and was
expected to return home shortly.
"It's been a grave mistake by government. This has done more for
reunification of the opposition than formal talks could have done," Pockock
As the clampdown continued, police raided the main office of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions on Tuesday.
"Staff were harassed, threatened, some were slapped and beaten up. All
offices were searched and fliers, files and some videotapes were seized,"
the labor group said. Its financial administrator, Galileo Chirebvu, was
taken away by police who said they were looking for "subversive material."
The federation has called for a national protest strike in April.
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell told the British Broadcasting Corp. that
Washington holds Mugabe and his government personally accountable for the
safety of the detained activists.
"We're all deeply shocked and saddened that the government of Zimbabwe feels
that it has to resort to such brutal tactics against its own people," Dell
He also expressed disappointment at what he called the passivity of
neighboring states, including South Africa, in the face of the suffering of
"One would hope that in the glaring light of the growing brutality of the
Zimbabwean government, those states would finally feel moved to act. They
can no longer deny that there is a real crisis on the way here," Dell said.
"It was not Britain, it was not Tony Blair who was out on the streets the
other day beating his own people. That was the government of Zimbabwe in
open warfare with its own population," Dell told the BBC.
South Africa's Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad issued a statement
urging the Zimbabwean government to ensure respect for the rule of law and
the opposition to work toward "a climate that is conducive to finding a
lasting solution" to the challenges facing Zimbabwe.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it deplored the government's
"shamefully weak response," while the South African Council of Churches said
"the silence of the South African government is aggravating the situation."
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour added her voice to
mounting international criticism on Tuesday. U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon, Amnesty International and the human rights committee of the
International Bar Association also have expressed concern and condemnation.
The European Union condemned "the ongoing violent suppression of the freedom
of opinion and of assembly, as well as of other fundamental rights."
Mugabe's opponents blame the 83-year-old leader for repression, corruption,
acute food shortages and inflation of 1,600 percent _ the highest in the
world. They have demanded the ouster of Mugabe, Zimbabwe's only ruler since
independence from Britain in 1980.
State radio Tuesday quoted Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu as saying
opposition activists had attacked police and were to blame for the violence.
Authorities suspected an "underground movement" of opponents was planning a
violent campaign against the government, he said.
Nathan Shamuyarira, chief spokesman for Mugabe's ruling party, said
Tsvangirai defied a police ban on Sunday's meeting. "Tsvangirai really asked
for the trouble in which he has found himself," he told South African state
television. - Staff Reporter/Associated Press
14th Mar 2007 01:21 GMT
By Alex T. Magaisa
ONE of my earliest memories of humankind's capacity for cruelty and the
pleasure that some members of this species take in inflicting pain and
suffering on other breathing creatures is an incident I experienced years
ago, as a small boy, while attending to the otherwise mundane chore of
looking after the village's domestic animals along side other boys from the
Those of us who witnessed the incident lost something that day; we were
violently robbed of the precious innocence of youth.
You see, when you have observed a naked display of barbarism, it is very
difficult to express it in words. At those times, silence can seem the only
It can be easy for writers to overestimate the importance of what they do,
but there are times when events cause a certain jolt; when all words appear
to pale into insignificance. You are tempted to put down the pen and respond
to the almost peremptory call of silence. In the wake of the brutal events
obtaining in Zimbabwe in recent days, it is a temptation that has been
difficult to resist.
But then it occurred to me that responding to the call of silence, would be
a grim betrayal to all those men and women who have suffered. But even then,
all the possible subjects, for which I had prepared, suddenly appear
irrelevant. So today, I thought I would simply reflect on the brutal
manifestation of mindless cruelty perpetrated by man over man, in the
beleaguered nation of Zimbabwe. And this is where my early experience of the
cruelty of humankind comes in.
It is many years now, but occasionally, especially when I witness the
display of sadism, I still hear echoes of the tortured cries of the little
birds. They were just small eaglets, barely feathered and had hardly seen
much of the world to which they had just recently been introduced. We saw
him high up in the tall tree, frantically making his way up to the big nest.
Some of his friends stood below, urging him on, while others stood by,
watching the spectacle, with obvious excitement. He had already started
ripping the nest apart by the time we got to the scene. Then he threw them,
one by one, the little eaglets, down to his friends under the tree. Up in
the sky, the mother eagle issued shrill cries, manifestly angry but helpless
in the circumstances. It circled viciously and tried more than once to yank
a piece of the boy's flesh, but each time it got closer, his friends below
hurled large stones at the eagle.
Why, we asked, were they the doing that to the little birds. They said that
eagles deserved to suffer and die because they are a menace in their
village - they prey on the young chickens and food. But these eaglets were
harmless, we said. They said it was best to catch them young. The other
eagles, they tried to rationalise, would know that they should not prey on
their food and young chickens in the village. But it is in the nature of
eagles to behave as they do, we said. They said they did not care.
It was fun anyway, they claimed, and went on to tie the hapless birds on
strings and hang them on tree branches and take vicious aim with their
catapults and stones. The deathly sounds of the little, defenceless
creatures pierced the stillness of an otherwise serene summer's
mid-afternoon. Mother eagle hovered above in desperation. It was clear she
could do nothing in the face human power and cruelty.
It was difficult to fathom, the fact that a human being could be capable of
such wickedness. It was obvious the boys were enjoying the whole sordid
exercise. It was hard to understand how a decent person could actually find
it an enjoyable spectacle. Did they not come from a home with a mother and
father? Did they not have young brothers and sisters in their homes? How, we
tried to comprehend, would they sleep at night? Would they simply banish
this from their memories and sleep soundly throughout the night, without
even having nightmares filled with the deathly cries of the defenceless
We stood by, helpless - helpless because we thought there was not much we
could do against admittedly bigger and notoriously ruthless boys from the
next village. We had looked to the bigger boys in our group but they had
also stood by, clearly unimpressed by the spectacle but not having the will
to intervene. After all they were just birds, they were eagles and they
could not be drawn into a fight over eagles.
Later on, I would, wit a sense of guilt, wonder whether I could have done
something; whether we could have done something to save those defenceless
creatures, which had been tortured so ruthlessly before our eyes and whose
lives had been terminated for no reason other than that they were eagles.
There was, I must admit, a sense of embarrassment; embarrassment at being a
member of the human race which had so exposed itself as capable to doing
grievous harm even to unarmed and defenceless creatures; embarrassment at
the fact that I had done nothing to prevent the cowardly attacks. There was
a deep sense of guilt at the actions of my fellow human beings, by whose
actions the brief life journey of the little birds had been so violently and
That day I lost something; all of us who witnessed it - we all lost
something. There was, to sum it up, a deep sense of betrayal in respect of
the nature of the human being. We learnt, in that very episode, humanity's
capacity for cruelty.
I do not know what happened to those boys in life. Perhaps they became
policemen. Perhaps one of them shot Gift Tandare in cold blood on Sunday.
Perhaps they were there, when Tsvangirai, Madhuku, Mutambara, Biti and
others were beaten up in recent days. I would not be surprised if they were.
Not that it makes a big difference if they weren't.
I am just not surprised that some of our members of the human race are
capable of that. What is a shame though, is how the plight of victims is
sometimes forgotten and instead, some of us blame the victims for their
predicament. We become the victims of our own victimhood. Perhaps it's human
nature to try and rationalise violence - to try and explain it, even when it's
absurd to do so.
I am reminded of my readings in women's law - of the "Battered Wife
Syndrome" - in simple terms, a physical and psychological condition by
which a wife who has been repeatedly and systematically abused by her spouse
over a period of time, becomes so tormented and weary that she is unable and
unwilling to take action to defend herself. Rather, she begins to see
herself as the problem; she blames herself for her predicament, and tries
even to rationalise the behaviour of her spouse. In short, this is a case
where the victim blames herself for her unfortunate position.
I am not surprised therefore, that some people might be criticising the MDC
leadership for their predicament - they are simply confirming what
systematic violence does to victims. The MDC leaders were only exercising
their democratic rights - there is nothing abnormal about attending a
meeting, be it for prayers or politics. What is unusual and unlawful is to
deny people that legitimate right. The critics are victims themselves, who
have accepted their fate and now try to make sense of the other's unusual
and otherwise irrational and unlawful behaviour.
I am not sure how those who have killed Gift Tandare and brutally assaulted
the others sleep at night just as I wondered all those years back, when the
boys in the village tortured those hapless eaglets, how it was that they
were able to sleep at night. I do not know how the others see it; men like
President Mbeki in South Africa, President Mogae in Botswana, President
Guebuza in Mozambique, President Kikwete in Tanzania, President Pohamba in
Namibia, President Mwanawasa in Zambia; perhaps they too, like the big boys
who watched and did nothing to stop the brutal boys from torturing and
executing the defenceless eaglets, feel it is not their business to
intervene and stop it.
I am aware of humankind's capacity for cruelty - but are we not also
complicit when we do nothing stop those of our species from doing harm to
those that are defenceless? What I know is that, part of the guilt that I
have carried since the day of the torture of the eaglets, is because I too
felt a sense of shame and carried a share of the guilt; the collective guilt
at not having done anything to stop the mindless brutality that I witnessed
day. Yes, they were only birds, but they had done nothing wrong, except to
exercise their right to live, as nature had prescribed.
Dr Magaisa can be contacted at email@example.com
JANE FIELDS IN HARARE
ZIMBABWE'S badly beaten opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was whisked
away from a Harare court yesterday for hospital treatment.
Ahead of his appearance, riot police in blue helmets had surrounded the
magistrates' court in Harare's Rotten Row, while witnesses inside said
police had cleared the courtroom.
But legal proceedings did not get under way. Instead, the prosecution said
anyone who needed medical attention would get it, and ambulances were
waiting to ferry Mr Tsvangirai and his colleagues to private clinics.
There had been growing fears over the condition of the leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who was arrested last Sunday at a
prayer rally in a Harare township.
Police beat him on the head so badly that his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, said
earlier that she believed he was "battling for his life".
Mr Tsvangirai, 55, was taken to court shortly after midday along with more
than 40 detained opposition officials. The former trade unionist had a badly
swollen eye and a wound to his head. A large patch of hair had been shaved
off, apparently to tend to the wound.
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, a spokesman for the MDC, told The Scotsman Mr
Tsvangirai was undergoing "medical procedures" at a Harare clinic after his
brief court appearance. Lawyers were trying to get a "warrant of liberation"
for him and more than 40 co-accused but were "worried about the possibility
of them being taken back into custody".
A breakaway faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara - who is also in
custody - said magistrates were waiting for instructions from the president,
Robert Mugabe, who was in a meeting.
"The arrest and brutal assault of the opposition leaders is a
well-orchestrated strategy by [the ruling party] ZANU-PF to destroy the
opposition by eliminating its leadership," a spokeswoman said.
Tensions were high in the capital after reports that police opened fire on
about 500 mourners on Monday at the funeral of an opposition activist who
was shot dead by police the previous day. Two people were injured and taken
to hospital for treatment.
Police started shooting at the mourners to disperse them, Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, a local rights group said.
State radio said the government was concerned "by the apparent interference
of some western governments and organisations in the internal affairs of
Zimbabwe", after the reports of police brutality unleashed a torrent of
A spokeswoman for Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations' secretary-general, said
attacks on opposition leaders "violate the basic democratic rights of
citizens to engage in peaceful assembly".
Louise Arbour, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said: "This form
of repression and intimidation of a peaceful assembly is unacceptable."
MUTED REACTION ACROSS AFRICA
WHILE police action against Morgan Tsvangirai drew sharp condemnation in the
West, most of Zimbabwe's African neighbours remained restrained yesterday.
South Africa issued an unusual but cautious statement, urging
"that the rule of law, including respect for human rights of all Zimbabweans
and leaders of various parties is respected".
The Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa, who has defended Robert Mugabe in the
past, said: "Recent developments are of great concern to us."
Leader of Fractured Movement Finds Stature Boosted Following Beating
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, March 14, 2007; Page A09
JOHANNESBURG, March 13 -- Two harrowing days in police custody have left
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai with serious physical
injuries but also renewed standing as head of an anti-government movement
that is showing more energy than it has in years.
Tsvangirai's failure to mount protests after several tainted elections had
fueled criticism that he lacked the strategic savvy -- and perhaps even the
physical courage -- to lead a final push against President Robert Mugabe. As
recently as Friday, speaking before journalists in Johannesburg, Tsvangirai
played down the need for demonstrations, saying: "Going in the streets is
only one of the strategies. . . . A struggle has various stages."
Yet two days later, police arrested Tsvangirai, 55, for attending a
political rally in defiance of a ban on such gatherings. Though organizers
portrayed the event as a prayer meeting in an attempt to sidestep the ban,
it in fact marked the launch of an ambitious new "Save Zimbabwe" campaign,
bringing together most major elements of an opposition that had splintered
badly in 2005.
"If they ever wanted to boost Morgan Tsvangirai's popularity, they've done
it," said David Coltart, an opposition lawmaker who is not aligned with
Tsvangirai, speaking from Helsinki, where he was observing an election.
"Whether Morgan intended this or not, this thing has been thrust upon him,
and probably emboldened him."
At the gathering Sunday, police shot dead one anti-government activist,
rounded up 50 others and beat many of them severely, opposition officials
said. Those arrested appeared in court together Tuesday, wearing casts,
bandages and bloodied, dirty clothing, and won both access to their
attorneys and the right to medical care at a Harare clinic, news reports
Outside the court, Tsvangirai told journalists, "It was sadistic to attack
defenseless people," according to the Reuters news agency.
The worst injuries were suffered by Tsvangirai, a burly former mineworker
and union activist who appeared in court with a swollen face and stitches in
a gash on his head. Party officials said he lost consciousness three times
during his first day in jail, and in a brief meeting with his wife Monday
morning, Tsvangirai could barely eat, walk or speak.
His harsh treatment left many people concluding that Mugabe, attempting to
maintain control after 27 years in power, regards Tsvangirai as his most
Most of the detained activists were taken back to court late Tuesday, the
Associated Press reported. They were released into their attorneys' custody
and are due back in court Wednesday morning. Tsvangirai was one of 12 who
remained at the clinic.
The opposition leader has his roots in Zimbabwe's labor movement and was
among the founding members of the Movement for Democratic Change in 1999. He
ran for president against Mugabe in 2002, and many outside observers say
they believe he would have won if Mugabe's forces had not manipulated the
election. Tsvangirai has been charged with several crimes, including
treason, but has been acquitted.
Despite his personal popularity, Tsvangirai was not able to turn discontent
into effective demonstrations after tainted elections in 2000, 2002 and 2005
or during a brutal slum-clearance campaign in 2005 that left 700,000
Zimbabweans without homes or jobs. His party split later that year, and he
has struggled since to regain his stature.
Even with the party fractured, opposition to Mugabe's rule began rising
again late last year as inflation topped 1,000 percent and persistent
shortages of gas and food affected millions of Zimbabweans. Trade union
activists and several civic groups, such as the National Constitutional
Assembly and Women of Zimbabwe Arise, increasingly drove this new activism.
The breakaway faction of the Movement for Democratic Change grew more
aggressive, issuing a flier for Sunday's rally that declared, "It is
defiance or death."
But the events of recent days have altered the chemistry of opposition
John Mw Makumbe, a political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe, said
Mugabe had blundered badly in mistreating Tsvangirai. "He has really raised
Morgan's profile beyond his wildest imagination," Makumbe said, speaking
from Harare, the capital. "This time, Morgan is almost being viewed as the
U.S., British and U.N. officials have sharply criticized the government for
arresting and beating opposition activists.
"The world community again has been shown that the regime of Robert Mugabe
is ruthless and repressive and creates only suffering for the people of
Zimbabwe," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement issued in
Washington. She demanded that Tsvangirai and other activists be freed.
There have been reports of sporadic unrest in recent days, but nothing
resembling the violence on Sunday, when police used tear gas, water cannons
and live ammunition to control rock-throwing youths.
Attention now is focused on what Tsvangirai will do with his enhanced
stature when, and if, he is freed from jail. "We'll wait to see if Morgan
will really rise to the occasion when he's recovered," Makumbe said.
March 14 2007 at 01:32AM
London - Britain called on Tuesday for a "very robust international
response" against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government for its
brutal crackdown on the opposition.
"The situation is appalling. I condemn last Sunday's beatings and
arrests of opposition leaders," junior Foreign Office Minister Lord David
Triesman said in the House of Lords, Britain's unelected upper house of
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and dozens of supporters were
arrested during a bid to hold an anti-government rally in Harare on Sunday
despite a police ban.
Tsvangirai on Tuesday defiantly vowed that his push to topple Mugabe
would go on. He was heading to hospital to receive treatment for a beating
that he allegedly received in custody.
"What is needed now is negotiation between government and opposition,
on new democratic constitutional agreements, and an economic recovery
programme, to lift Zimbabwe out of the disaster resulting from Mugabe's
policies," Triesman said.
"Instead, Mugabe has resorted to further violence and intimidation,
clinging to power as Zimbabwe crumbles around him."
When asked about taking the problem to the United Nations, Triesman
replied: "If we can secure enough faces in the Security Council for a good
discussion, without it being blocked, that would be very valuable.
"Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai appeared in court this
morning plainly very seriously injured, and has been returned, as others
have, to prison," he said.
"These are circumstances which do call for a very robust international
response," he said.
The main opposition Conservative Party in the Lords asked why it would
not be right to invade Zimbabwe to remove a tyrant like Mugabe when it was
right to invade Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.
"I don't think there is a prospect of the invasion of Zimbabwe and I
don't want to encourage the thought," Triesman replied.
"The circumstances of the people of Zimbabwe require of us a very high
measure of aid and a possibility of reconstruction. The prospects of being
able to do it, and do it successfully, are bound to be part of what's taken
into account." - Sapa-AFP
The Age, Australia
March 14, 2007 - 11:00AM
A former Australian citizen has been gravely injured in police custody after
being arrested in a mass weekend protest in Zimbabwe, a lobby group says.
Sekai Holland, who lived in Australia for two decades until 1981, was
arrested along with dozens of other activists protesting against bans on
political rallies in the capital Harare on Sunday.
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was among those arrested and he
suffered head injuries while in police custody, his lawyer claims.
Australian lobby group the Zimbabwe Information Centre said in a statement
today that Mrs Holland's nephew had found his 61-year-old aunt seriously
injured when he visited her yesterday.
"Mrs Sekai Holland is suffering from fractured hands and feet, head injuries
and internal injuries and is now held under police custody at the Avenues
Hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, according to her nephew who visited her
yesterday afternoon," the statement said.
Another senior opposition figure, Grace Kwinjeh, also is being held there
with a damaged ear, an injured neck, heavy bruising and cuts, the statement
The lobby group urged the Australian government yesterday to put pressure on
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to free Mrs Holland, a senior figure in the
country's opposition movement.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer issued a statement the same day condemning
the brutal suppression of the rally in Harare.
He called on the government of Zimbabwe to release all those arrested, but
did not single out Mrs Holland.
Mrs Holland moved to Australia in 1961 and married an Australian man, Jim
Holland, before the couple moved back to Zimbabwe in 1981.
Born in Zimbabwe, Mrs Holland was granted Australian citizenship while
living here but was forced to give it up when she returned to her homeland.
The couple have a son and a daughter who still live in Australia.
Mr Holland, who still holds an Australian passport, is believed to have been
in Tanzania when his wife was arrested and has made his way back to
14th Mar 2007 00:10 GMT
By a Correspondent
House of Lords
13th March 2007
Zimbabwe: International Crisis Group
Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty's Government:
What is their response to the recommendations contained in the recent report
of the International Crisis Group entitled Zimbabwe: An End to the
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Lord Triesman): My Lords, we welcome the ICG's latest report and agree with
a number of its recommendations, including the need for greater regional
engagement. The situation is appalling.
I condemn last Sunday's beatings and arrest of opposition leaders. What is
needed now is negotiation between Government and opposition on new,
democratic, constitutional agreements and an economic recovery programme to
lift Zimbabwe out of the disaster resulting from Mugabe's policies. Instead,
Mugabe has resorted to further violence and intimidation, clinging to power
as Zimbabwe crumbles around him.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that very full
reply, with which I agree entirely. I would add only that the demonstration
two days ago involved the leader of the opposition being assaulted so
severely that he had to be hospitalised. Does the Minister agree that the
report makes it clear that the Mugabe regime is actually crumbling? I agree
with him that the report makes valuable suggestions, and I am glad that the
Government are going to take up some of them.
Discussions should begin, as proposed in the report, about taking the
question of Zimbabwe to the Security Council of the United Nations. It is
relevant that South Africa is now a member.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I understand the noble Lord's point. If we can
secure enough of a basis in the Security Council for a good discussion
without it being blocked, that will be valuable. I hope that people
understand the urgency for doing so. Morgan Tsvangirai appeared in court
this morning, plainly seriously injured, and has been returned, as others
have, to prison. These circumstances call for a robust international
response. If anyone needs to learn the lessons, they have only to turn on
the television and see the footage of those injured-and very heroic-people.
Baroness D'Souza: My Lords, will Zimbabwe be high on the agenda of the
forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting-in particular, the
possibility of Mr Mugabe remaining as president beyond the 2008 elections?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I would be surprised if it were high on the agenda
of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Zimbabwe withdrew from the
Commonwealth, arguably just moments before it was removed from it. I know of
no intention to re-admit it. It is completely out of line with,
paradoxically, the Harare principles for good governance.
I have also heard that Mugabe anticipates carrying on in power well beyond
2008. I do not know whether that will happen, because his economy has more
or less imploded. The World Bank is anticipating a rate of inflation that
may be approximately 5,000 per cent by the end of the year. These are
circumstances from which I believe no economy in peacetime, and probably in
wartime, has recovered.
Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, will my noble friend take delivery of a
message of solidarity from the House to Morgan Tsvangirai, given the
appalling treatment he has received? He is a former friend of ours, a trade
union official and a great democrat, and that is the least we can do in
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I welcome that, and I will do so. I am hopeful that
trade unionists and others throughout the world will convey that message,
and that in doing so they also convey it to COSATU in South Africa, where I
should like to see the trade union movement also stand shoulder to shoulder.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, in the circumstances described by the Minister of
Zimbabwe imploding, does he think that the recommendation made by the
ICG-that the European Union should engage with SADAC in formulating and
implementing a strategy for a peaceful transition to post-Mugabe democratic
rule-now stands a better and more realistic chance of success? If these
discussions do take place between the EU and SADAC, will the Minister ensure
that one of the matters to be taken up is the humanitarian situation of the
victims of Mugabe's tyranny and in particular those who have been severely
injured in the recent attacks on peaceful demonstrators?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I believe that when these matters are resolved the
suffering of people in recent days-and over a considerable period-must
feature in those discussions. SADAC has a responsibility as the regional
part of the African Union and plainly ought to play more of a role. In
answering the question I am cautious, not because I disagree with the
sentiment that lies behind it, but because I have been frustrated on too
many occasions by witnessing the fact that leaders in SADAC have not been
prepared to play that role. We should urge them to do so.
Baroness Sharples: My Lords, cannot Her Majesty's Government bring more
pressure to bear on President Mbeki to criticise Mugabe; in fact, to condemn
Lord Triesman: My Lords, a number of African presidents-President Obasanjo,
former President Chisano of Mozambique and President Mbeki-have probably
said rather more privately than is recognised. I am among those who would
prefer some of those comments to be made more openly and on the record
because they would have a greater effect.
There are deep concerns in South Africa that the current economic implosion
may well displace up to 6 million people across the Limpopo into the poorest
part of South Africa. That would be a humanitarian and regional security
disaster as competition for land, water and other resources would become
acute. I believe that everybody wants a robust solution, but one which does
not lead to an even worse disaster.
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, given the failure of President Mbeki and
others to speak out vocally against what is happening in Zimbabwe, would not
the visit this week by President John Kufuor of Ghana, who has just taken
over the presidency of the African Union, be an ideal moment to raise this
issue with him and to engage a nation such as his in trying to broker a way
forward in a country that is seeing not only the imprisonment of opposition
leaders but the use of tear gas on innocent demonstrators? As the noble Lord
told us, the country is sliding into famine and the mortality rate for women
is now said to be in the mid-30s. Surely this is a moment to raise this
matter during the state visit of President John Kufuor and to bring African
leadership behind everything that the noble Lord mentioned.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, President John Kufuor has a very good record in
this regard. I should be extremely surprised if this matter were not
discussed during the state visit, which I welcome. President Kufuor is an
outstanding leader who can play a very important role. When statements are
made at the end of the visit, I hope it will be apparent that some of the
noble Lord's wishes will be gratified.
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, the noble Lord told us that if enough
votes could be obtained in the Security Council a resolution could be
passed. What will it take to obtain those votes? How engaged are Her Majesty's
Government in trying to persuade the different embassies and High
Commissions in the region to be proactive because dictators know no other
language than a very robust response?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I frequently put precisely those points to high
commissioners and ambassadors of the region. We want to see this matter
expressed in the clearest possible terms. The problem at the Security
Council is slightly more complex than the most reverend Primate expressed.
Were it to be a matter of simply trying to get the votes, it would be tough
but we would have a very good go at it; the difficult task is knowing in
advance that you have enough support to make a credible stab at it. I am
keen to avoid Robert Mugabe believing that we cannot even get off first
base, because if anybody will use that, it is him.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, I suggest to the Minister that the
report recommends that something should be done to prevent a second
Murambatsvina-"clearing up"-like the awful operation about two years ago,
which Anna Tibaijuka criticised so justly and severely. Is it possible for
this Government to at least raise in the United Nations the question of
requiring the secretary-general, who I hope is quite distinct from the
Security Council, to send a personal representative and a representative to
ensure that the follow-up to the Anna Tibaijuka report should not be a
second operation of the same kind? Surely that is clear-cut and simple, and
is something that could be done and need not rest on votes?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, the noble Baroness makes a very important point.
Ban Ki-Moon has taken account of the fact that the first of these appalling
events should not be repeated. He is engaged, and we should press him to
continue to be engaged. Even that will not turn out-as I know the noble
Baroness knows-to be as simple as it is to say it here. Kofi Annan intended
to go there to follow those matters up and to see whether there was a
prospect of change before he left office. He was told by Mugabe to stay out
of the country. He announced at the African Union conference that he would
have no prospect of success in attending. Very few countries in the world
tell the secretary-general not to come, and they do so only, in my view,
because they have appalling crimes to hide.
Lord Hamilton of Epsom: My Lords, if it is right to invade Iraq to get rid
of the tyrant Saddam Hussein, who was making life hell for the citizens of
Iraq, why is it not right to invade Zimbabwe to get rid of the tyrant
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I do not think that there is a prospect of the
invasion of Zimbabwe, and I do not want to encourage that thought. The
circumstances of the people of Zimbabwe require of us a very high measure of
aid and a possibility of reconstruction. The noble Lord may say that that is
true in other places as well, but the prospects of being able to do it
successfully are bound to be part of what is taken into account.
Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
March 13, 2007
QUESTION: Zimbabwe, please. Can you tell me the level of concern you have
for the unrest that's going on at the moment?
MR. CASEY: Well, I think all of you have seen the statement that we put out
by the Secretary calling for the immediate release of those individuals,
including some key opposition leaders, who were detained in Zimbabwe after
the violent crackdown on this prayer breakfast that was being held over the
weekend. We certainly are concerned. We're concerned that the police and the
government as a whole hadn't responded to a number of court orders on this
issue. We're concerned in the first place that these individuals have been
No one should face harassment, intimidation, and as it increasingly appears,
beatings and physical abuse simply for trying to get together and meet and
freely express their views and freely talk about political issues. I think
what this incident shows clearly to the international community is, again,
the repressive nature of the Mugabe government and the lengths to which it
will go to try and keep people from being able to participate in the
QUESTION: Are you taking any diplomatic steps to try to increase pressure on
the Mugabe government to treat its people with greater dignity and less
violence? Are you reaching out to neighbors, to South Africa? Are you
reaching out to the Chinese, who have economic relations?
MR. CASEY: We've had a number of discussions among embassy counterparts in
Zimbabwe itself. I think you've seen already a statement come out from the
EU ambassadors there and I think there may have been one that has come out
from the EU itself as well.
Our ambassador is currently, or was when I came out here, present in the
courtroom where these individuals have been brought for a hearing. I know
that both he as well as some of the EU ambassadors made efforts to visit
these individuals in detention to try and check on their condition because
of the concerns we have about what is going on. Certainly, we are going to
be talking with our EU partners as well as with other friends in the region
as well, because clearly, this is very concerning.
As we approach the beginnings of an electoral campaign in Zimbabwe as well,
we certainly want to see more openness and see a dialogue go on between all
the elements of Zimbabwean society. What we don't want to see is an increase
in repressive behavior. And again, it's particularly disturbing to see these
reports of not only a breakup of these rallies, but of individuals,
including some senior members of the political opposition, being beaten, not
being provided with medical care, and possibly suffering serious injuries
that no one's been able to account for.
They have also not been given the opportunity, as I understand it, to see
their counsel, see their lawyers, or otherwise have the kinds of contacts
you would normally expect. And they're required under Zimbabwean law. So
yes, we will be talking with our friends and partners both in Europe and in
the region to talk about what else we might be able to do to support some
positive change in Zimbabwe.
Elise or Charlie.
QUESTION: Yeah, to follow up, you said the American ambassador made an
attempt to see --
MR. CASEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Did he actually see any of the people who were in jail?
MR. CASEY: No, he was not permitted to visit with them. As I said, he was in
the courtroom today when those individuals were brought in, but as far as I
know, he was not given an opportunity to converse with them.
Elise, did you have something else?
QUESTION: Yeah. We really haven't heard that much about Zimbabwe until this
incident, although the United States has always considered the government of
Robert Mugabe to be a repressive regime. Do you think that enough high-level
attention has been paid to -- while you pursue your democracy agenda to
democratic backslide -- continued backsliding in Zimbabwe that lead to this
MR. CASEY: Well, I wish I could say that this event represented a break with
some positive movement in Zimbabwe. I think we've seen, over the past few
years, that the situation there, like in a number of other countries, has
unfortunately only continued in the wrong direction. And certainly, we have
tried to call attention to the problems in Zimbabwe, both publicly here and
in international fora. It's unfortunate to us that this is, of course, one
of the other issues that the Human Rights Council has not decided to focus
on or pick up on despite the fact that there are serious concerns and
problems. So while I think we have done as much as we can to call attention
to this and we have continued to try and push for change in Zimbabwe,
including through working with our partners, obviously, the incidents over
the past week and today just serve as another reminder of why we need to
continue to be focused on this, look at things closely and see what we can
do to try and foster change.
March 14, 2007, 06:15
South Africa has met another diplomatic challenge at the United Nations.
This time over its troubled neighbour Zimbabwe. The SA government says the
political problems and economic meltdown that has besieged Zimbabwe do not
warrant the country being the subject of concern in the Security Council.
An inclusion in the council agenda may lead to sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is under an international spotlight as world outrage is growing
over its government's violent crackdown on political protests. This follows
the arrest and alleged beatings in detention of Morgan Tsangirai, the
opposition leader, who was arrested on Sunday.
There is a growing diplomatic shuffling at the United Nations (UN) corridors
to bring Harare back to the Security Council for allegations of human rights
abuses and political violence. The UN chief has issued a strong call to
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, challenging him to release opposition
leaders, ensure free political activity and protection of human rights in
Zimbabwe issues 'not for the council'
However, South Africa disagrees that Zimbabwe should be the subject of
concern in the Security Council.
"We truly regret what's happening in Zim but it's not the matter that
belongs to the Security Council," said Dumisani Khumalo, the SA ambassador
to the UN.
Thousands of Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa as the economic crisis
deepens. Mugabe has been under severe criticisms, mostly from Western
countries, for alleged mismanagement of his country's economy and human
With Zimbabwe's arch enemy, Britain taking over the presidency of the
Security Council from South Africa next month, the current situation in
Zimbabwe may find its way into the agenda of the Council.