Published: 15 March 2007
Sadly, abuses of the kind suffered by Morgan Tsvangirai are routine in
Zimbabwe and have been for decades. It is well known that impunity fosters
torture; if those responsible for torture are not brought to book they are
bound to torture again.
It would appear as if the Zanu-PF regime is prepared to defy the world and
use whatever means to frustrate legitimate expressions of opposition to its
misrule of Zimbabwe. The torture and denial of access by lawyers and doctors
to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and the rest of our colleagues,
coming so soon after the similar treatment meted out to trade union leaders
last year is a clear sign that Robert Mugabe himself and other Zanu-PF
leaders feel they can act with impunity.
It is now time for those Zanu-PF members who quietly disagree with what is
happening and other regional leaders to speak out against this vile conduct.
Mere silence amounts to condonation.
Martin Luther King once said: "Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an
unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of
justice". That is precisely what we are doing and as sure as day follows
night a real order of justice will be brought to Zimbabwe. But it is
difficult for those struggling within Zimbabwe to do so alone. Apartheid was
not ended solely through the efforts of South African patriots; it was
achieved through their concerted efforts which were supported by massive
international support and action. That support and action has largely been
missing and the international community has allowed Zimbabwe to degenerate
into the grave crisis it is in today.
It is high time the international community acted to assist those trying to
bring about a new order of democracy in Zimbabwe. There has been far too
much talk and far too little action from the international community. What
is required is urgent, vigorous, pro-active diplomatic activity by Southern
African nations in conjunction with international institutions such as the
UN and EU.
David Coltart is an MP for Movement of Democratic Change and Zimbabwe shadow
Sir - It should come as no surprise that the deeply insignificant Foreign
Secretary Margaret Beckett has uttered not a word about the latest atrocious
happenings in Zimbabwe (report, March 14).
She has absolutely no role in the formulation of foreign policy, which is
entirely driven from Number 10, other than to act as mouthpiece (as
following the release of the Foreign Office staff in Ethopia) when the Prime
Minister does not particularly want the credit.
The Prime Minister spends a lot of time telling us how he has rid the world
of an evil dictator or two. He also loves to tell us of his "passion for
Africa". Yet where is this passion now, when faced with a dictator whose
actions have brought ruin and starvation on his people, among them large
numbers of the kith and kin of the British people?
What is the explanation for his silence and inaction? If he won't act or
even speak, is this a moment for the monarchy, through the role of the Queen
as head of the Commonwealth?
Anthony Tucker, Tremons, France
Sir - Absolutely nothing has changed regarding Labour foreign secretaries.
In September 1978, when Joshua Nkomo's men shot down an Air Rhodesia flight
from Kariba with a SAM-7, and massacred the survivors, the Dean of
Salisbury - Rev John de Costa of St Mary's and All Saints - said: "The
silence is deafening from London."
What do you expect of a Labour Foreign Secretary? To make a public statement
denouncing African atrocities will never happen.
Norman Tomlinson, Lancaster
Sir - The Government cannot stand idly by while Zimbabwe is allowed to
Expulsion from the Commonwealth is not enough, as it makes little difference
either to Robert Mugabe or his country. The Prime Minister and the Foreign
Secretary must be more outspoken in opposing such a brutal regime, and bring
the case before the United Nations.
Although Mugabe is condemned by many other nations, Britain has the greatest
moral responsibility to do all it can for its former colony and fellow
Jeremy Goldsmith, London E8
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 15/03/2007
Margaret Beckett's silence over Zimbabwe illustrates the degree to
which the Government's grandiose plans for a North-South partnership have
Africa has run like a refrain through Labour's time in office, from
military intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000 to the priority given to the
continent at the G8 summit in 2005. That period has coincided with the
wrecking of the Zimbabwean economy by Robert Mugabe, beginning with the
expropriation of white-owned farms and culminating in hyper-inflation, mass
internal migration, dependence on food aid and a reduction in average life
expectancy to 36 years.
The beating of Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition members after an
anti-government prayer rally is the latest proof of Zanu-PF's hideous
misrule. And its evil genius is now talking of prolonging his presidency
until 2014, when he would be 90.
Labour has always been reluctant to take a lead in criticising Mr
Mugabe for fear of being dubbed neo-colonialist. As Foreign Secretary, Jack
Straw sought cover within the framework of the Commonwealth and the European
Union. Today, from his successor, there is simply silence. Reaction has been
left to Lord Triesman, a junior Foreign Office minister. Mrs Beckett, who
made no mention of Zimbabwe in her UN speech last autumn, has not seen fit
to comment. Contrast that with the reaction of her American counterpart,
Perhaps that is as much as can be expected from a Foreign Office whose
ministerial team - Mrs Beckett, Geoff Hoon, Kim Howells and Lord Triesman -
is outstandingly mediocre. But the situation is not much better on the other
side of Downing Street. Tony Blair should publicly upbraid African leaders
for washing their hands of Mr Mugabe on the grounds of non-interference in
Zimbabwe's sovereignty. The dramatic decline of that country is besmirching
the reputation of a continent that in 2001 drew up an ambitious blueprint
for good governance.
The Prime Minister is surely aware of the damage being done. Yet he
merely wrings his hands and his Foreign Secretary is mute. This
pusillanimity is becoming a national shame.
Thursday March 15, 2007
A week ago he was an opposition figure at risk of fading from the political
scene. Today, images of Morgan Tsvangirai's battered and swollen face are
world news, shaming even the African Union to admit that it is embarrassed
by the actions of Robert Mugabe's thugs. The brutal beating in custody of
Zimbabwe's most famous trade unionist has focused attention on the
sufferings endured by his countrymen after seven years of ineffective
electioneering by his Movement for Democratic Change.
Mr Tsvangirai is no Nelson Mandela. He has admitted lapses of judgment, such
as the time he was secretly taped discussing plans to assassinate Mr Mugabe
with a former Israeli spy. It was a set up and formed the basis of one of
two charges of treason, of which he was acquitted. Under him, the MDC split
on ethnic lines, between the Shona and Ndebele tribes, over whether to
contest elections to the senate. He resisted calls to take to the streets in
rigged parliamentary elections of 2000 and presidential elections two years
later. Critics claim these were missed opportunities, but Mr Tsvangirai has
kept faith with his people.
He is plucky and still enormously popular and he has remained a democrat.
The eldest of nine children, who had to leave school early to support the
family, he is largely self-taught. Despite the miscalculations, or perhaps
because of them, there is something of the folk hero about the man who
doggedly refuses to bow to the blows of Mr Mugabe's truncheons.
March 15, 2007
Beaten but sensing victory
A face so badly swollen that he could barely see, and a long sutured gash on
the side of his head were Morgan Tsvangirai's rewards this week for defying
President Robert Mugabe.
Yet the warm clap from onlookers responding to his defiant open-hand salute
from the ambulance at Harare Magistrates' Court on Tuesday was like an
expression of relief that his spirit had not been battered into submission
by 48 hours of repeated assault by police.
Zimbabwe's newest crisis, marked by the first spontaneous surge of
discontent since the 83-year-old tyrant began to drag the country into ruin
seven years ago, appears to have galvanised Tsvangirai out of timidity.
He can rightly fear death at Mugabe's hands. In 1998, as the national labour
union chief who just had led the country's first nationwide strike since
independence in 1980, he narrowly escaped being thrown out of his
tenth-floor office window by a group of Mugabe's war veterans' militia.
Twenty months ago, Tsvangirai was so frightened that he would not get out of
his bullet-proofed vehicle to talk to Harare township residents being forced
to destroy their own homes under Mugabe's Operation Sweep Out the Rubbish
that made 700,000 people homeless.
In mid-2005 he confused his supporters by walking out of a national party
debate and refusing to accept a vote to contest elections for a
controversial new senate. He effectively split the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) in two and radically impaired its chances in any further
These supporters have been intensely loyal since he left the union in 1999
to become the first leader of the MDC.
Six months later, Tsvangirai's charisma helped to secure the MDC victory in
a referendum to reject a fraudulent draft constitution put up by Mugabe, and
inflicted Mugabe's first national electoral defeat.
Thirty-seven of Tsvangirai's supporters, including his driver and his aide,
were murdered in the first year of Mugabe's blitzkrieg to smash the MDC, and
many thousands were battered, maimed, burnt and raped. Despite that,
Tsvangirai drew Zimbabweans in their millions to vote for him and the MDC in
the next three elections until 2005, each one progressively more marred by
cheating and violent intimidation by Mugabe.
The eldest of nine children, Tsvangirai was involved only peripherally in
the resistance movement against white rule that brought Mugabe to power in
1980. He worked as a factory hand and then a mining company supervisor
before becoming a unionist.
Mugabe scorns Tsvangirai's background. "Some drive trains, some are
foremen," he said. "People who witnessed the liberation struggle will not
accept you as leader."
Tsvangirai replied: "At least the train driver keeps the train on its
Published: 15 March 2007
The world has long been aware of the viciousness of the regime in Zimbabwe.
But the beating meted out by police to the leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, at a rally in Harare last Sunday was
appalling even by the standards of this benighted country. The government
claims the rally breached a ban on political gatherings imposed last month.
Mr Tsvangirai and other opposition activists were arrested and forced to
appear in court on Tuesday. But this is merely a charade of due process.
What we are witnessing here is naked political intimidation by the
tyrannical Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe.
Sunday's violence offers a glimpse into the catastrophe that has unfolded in
Zimbabwe under Mr Mugabe. Elections in 2001 and 2005 were rigged. The slum
clearances that followed the voting two years ago were intended to punish
the opponents of the regime. The country's economy has imploded since the
state's seizure of white-owned farms in 2000. Inflation and unemployment
have reached staggering levels. Basic items such as bread, sugar and petrol
are often not available. In a country that was once a major exporter of
grain, vast numbers of the population now depend on food aid. As a result of
the collapse of the healthcare system, life expectancy for women has fallen
Other African countries have always been reluctant to criticise Mr Mugabe,
who is regarded as a hero of the fight against colonial rule. South Africa
says it has been conducting a policy of "quiet diplomacy" to influence its
northern neighbour. But after Sunday it publicly urged Mr Mugabe to respect
the rights of citizens, including opposition leaders. The South African
press is also losing patience with Thabo Mbeki's refusal to intervene to
prevent the oppression of fellow Africans.
But it may be from within that the end finally comes. There are signs of an
internal power struggle in the ruling Zanu-PF party. Divisions have opened
over Mr Mugabe's ambition to remain president until 2014. Meanwhile, the
collapse in living standards is beginning to affect the soldiers and police
officers, the forces upon which Mr Mugabe's regime of terror depends. The
violence unleashed on Sunday seems to have been as much a signal to Mr
Mugabe's own followers as his opponents. So was this a ruthless reassertion
of control, or a sign of growing desperation?
The end of the Mugabe nightmare has been predicted before. For the sake of
the people of Zimbabwe we must hope that, this time, it turns out to be
March 15, 2007
AUSTRALIA was considering evacuating its citizens from Zimbabwe, Foreign
Minister Alexander Downer said today.
Mr Downer today the Government was concerned for the well-being of about 700
Australians who live in the southern African nation.
"We're reviewing our contingency plans in relation to any evacuations of
Australians," he said on ABC radio.
"We are very focused on this crisis from that perspective."
Democracy activists, including Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai were
injured in custody after they were arrested in a violent crackdown by police
during a protest in Harare on Sunday.
Mr Downer ruled out expanding Australia's sanctions against Zimbabwe to
include economic measures because of the pain it would cause in a country
with 80 per cent unemployment and inflation running at about 1800 per cent.
"You can imagine imposing economic sanctions would just condemn people to
death," he said.
Zimbabwe's neighbours, particularly South Africa, had the most leverage to
halt the violence and intimidation, he said.
"They are the countries that can have influence on Zimbabwe and we will
continue to lobby them to be more decisive in the action they're taking to
persuade the Zimbabweans to deal with their problems."
Mr Downer said South Africa's policy of quiet diplomacy had not succeeded.
"The situation in Zimbabwe is going from awful to catastrophic and I have to
say there really has to be a much bigger effort from neighbouring
As well as seeking a UN resolution against Zimbabwe's Government, Mr Downer
called on more countries to impose targeted sanctions.
New York Times
By MICHAEL WINES
Published: March 15, 2007
JOHANNESBURG, March 14 - Fifty Zimbabwean antigovernment protesters who were
arrested and beaten by riot police officers in Harare three days ago were
freed Wednesday after neither the police nor prosecutors showed up at a
hearing at which the protesters were to be charged, defense lawyers said.
An unknown number, including the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
remained in Harare hospitals, some with broken bones and other serious
injuries, said Beatrice Mtetwa, a lawyer for some protesters.
Mr. Tsvangirai suffered a fractured skull and a broken arm as well as
unspecified internal injuries, said Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for a
faction of the opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, which Mr.
Tsvangirai leads. Mr. Tsvangirai had appeared in a Harare court on Tuesday
walking unsteadily and bearing a large bare spot on his head where a wound
had been stitched.
"It's a fracture on the side of his head," Mr. Chamisa said. "He also has
several internal injuries which are being attended to in his chest and
partly on his side." Two of Mr. Tsvangirai's lawyers said separately that
his condition had improved on Wednesday.
Another prominent critic of President Robert G. Mugabe's government, the
civic leader Lovemore Madhuku, was in the same clinic with a broken right
arm, a head wound and heavy bruises on his back caused by beatings, said an
official of his organization, the National Constitutional Assembly.
They and scores of others were arrested and assaulted by the riot police on
Sunday after they tried to hold what was billed as a prayer meeting at a
sports field in a poor neighborhood of Harare. The government has been
widely condemned for the attacks, which took place as critics of Mr. Mugabe's
government tried to mount a new campaign to topple his authoritarian rule.
Zimbabwean authorities have said that the so-called prayer meeting was an
illegal political meeting, banned by an emergency declaration, and that the
protesters had invited the beatings they received.
The 50 protesters had been released in the custody of their lawyers and
taken to hospitals.
By Paul Bolton
Last Updated: 3:12am GMT 15/03/2007
Former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower fears for the future of his country
following the beating administered to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai by
police in Harare.
Flower quit Zimbabwe four years ago after he led a black-armband protest
with bowler Henry Olonga before Zimbabwe's World Cup match against Namibia
to highlight the death of democracy in his country.
The gesture signalled the end of Flower's international career of 63 Tests
and 213 one-day games. He now lives in exile in England and plays county
cricket for Essex.
News of the arrest of Tsvangirai and the injuries sustained by the head of
the Movement for Democratic Change and other supporters, has saddened but
not surprised him. "Worse things have happened because people have been
killed and tortured in Zimbabwe," Flower said.
"But when you see how badly the leader of the official opposition has been
beaten, it shows just how out of touch with the reality the government, the
Zanu PF thugs, are.
"They will do anything to stay in power. Robert Mugabe has never changed
since he took over in the early 1980s."
Tsvangirai's injuries and the political situation in Zimbabwe may well
overshadow events in Jamaica today when Zimbabwe play Ireland in the World
But Flower believes that sporting sanctions rather than another on-field
protest are needed to put pressure on the Mugabe regime. "The protest I made
four years ago was a personal decision," he said. "You can question whether
it is appropriate for players to be representing their country in an
international tournament at this time.
"But I can understand why they want to play international cricket and to
make the best of their opportunities.
"Maybe some sort of sporting sanctions or other sanctions would be a more
powerful tool in bringing pressure to bear on the government rather than
expecting a team of cricketers, most of them 20 to 23 years old, to be
making those sort of decisions."
Arab News, Saudi Arabia
15 March 2007
THERE was nothing surprising about the brutal treatment by Zimbabwe's police
of opposition politicians arrested at a prayer meeting that the government
had banned. Robert Mugabe has shown himself to be among the most
disappointingly incompetent and unreasonable post-colonial African leaders.
He has single-handedly plunged his country into economic and social chaos.
What has been surprising has been the attitude of the neighboring South
African government. While international condemnation of the Mugabe regime
has steadily increased, the administration of President Thabo Mbeki has
stuck resolutely to the line that rather than confront the Zimbabwean
authorities for their flagrant abuse of power, their fixed elections and
their increasingly repressive measures, it is better to work through quiet
dialogue. The harsh truth, however, is that a moderate and cautious approach
has born no fruit at all. South Africa's acquiescence has rather been taken
as a signal by the Mugabe government that it can continue to behave as it
likes - which is pretty bad.
At one point this week, a South African minister insisted that his
government had no right whatsoever to intervene because Zimbabwe was a
sovereign country. This protest surely must have disgusted many long-term
supporters of a multiracial South Africa. The now-ruling African National
Congress once appealed to the international community to take stringent
measures against the reprehensible apartheid regime - even though South
Africa was a sovereign country. They rejoiced when world pressure finally
persuaded the white supremacists that they had embarked upon a policy that
could no longer be sustained.
Ironically it was South Africa's white government that once sustained the
former Southern Rhodesia under the Ian Smith administration when it tried to
preserve white domination by unilaterally declaring independence from
British rule. Without the flow of trade and aid through South Africa, the
Smith regime could not have survived the international sanctions imposed
upon it. Equally important was the diplomatic support given by Pretoria to
the breakaway state.
South Africa remains a beacon of hope for all of Africa. It is therefore all
the more remarkable that the Mbeki government has not been more outspoken in
its insistence that the Zimbabwean government return to the rule of law and
civilized behavior. Some may see this reluctance as sinister. Zimbabwe's
economic disaster is firmly rooted in the seizure of white-owned farms,
which were then handed out to Mugabe's cronies and allowed to go to ruin.
South Africa is now moving toward a similar policy, having failed to
persuade many white farmers to sell their properties. The principle of
returning land to the people from whom it was seized in colonial times is
not wrong. It is how the return is managed, without disrupting economic
output nor undermining confidence in a multiracial future, which is all
South Africa, the rainbow nation, still has considerable international
credit. It must nonetheless take care. The president's extraordinary denial
of the frightening reality of his country's AIDS epidemic was worrying. The
continued acceptance of a brutal and repressive regime as its neighbor is
even more so. South Africans owe it to themselves, as much as to the people
of Zimbabwe to pressure President Mugabe to mend his ways.
By Gift Phiri
HARARE - Relations between the political and military establishments in
Zimbabwe are at their lowest since Independence in 1980.
Authoritative sources said there had been an unprecedented breakdown of
faith between the two groups, caused by intense succession jockeying in Zanu
(PF), deadly unrest in the capital and the deepening economic crisis that
saw inflation race to 1,729 percent last month.
They noted a marked lack of trust between the military and political
echelons since Mugabe began to sideline the influential Mujuru faction,
which enjoys the support of most security chiefs. Junior troops are also
disgruntled due to poor salaries, and therefore open to manipulation.
The security heads see Mujuru as the best candidate to take over from
Mugabe. But she has soured relations with the ageing leader by leading an
internal revolt forcing him to abandon his plans to postpone presidential
elections to 2010.
"The fact that the Mujuru faction has the full endorsement of the army makes
the prospect of a coup very real," said a top government official.
The breakdown in relations has been precipitated by top members of the
military who are feeling more and more alienated from Mugabe because they
have openly shown they were inclined towards the Mujuru faction.
While Mugabe had earlier indicated his desire to relinquish power to Joice
Mujuru, he has now changed tack and indicated he will be available to
contest the presidential election due in March next year.
This has set the stage for a bitter confrontation at the party's
extra-ordinary congress, called to endorse the candidate for the 2008
The Zimbabwean heard that the Mujuru faction had the implicit support of
Police Commissioner Augustine "Chacha" Chihuri, deputy director-general CIO
Mernard Muzariri, Airforce Commander Air Vice Marshal Perence Shiri,
Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Lt Col Phillip "PV" Sibanda. The
commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga, also
Sources said, Mugabe's move to openly alienate the Mujuru faction was a
recipe for disaster. But a member of the Central Committee and a retired
General separately dismissed the prospect of a military coup as far-fetched.
HARARE - Zimbabwe's intelligence police allegedly trucked two student
leaders from Gweru to Chachacha, a nature reserve teeming with wild animals,
and forced them at gunpoint to run into the bush, student leaders confirmed
Makomborero Pfeveni, ZINASU's secretary for Sports, and Samuel Mangoma, the
student body's Treasurer, were picked up in Gweru while distributing fliers
calling for a class boycott against steep tuition fees.
The two ZINASU leaders "were meant to be fed to the lions" in the nature
park, 10 km outside Shurugwi, says Solidarity Students Trust programme
officer Simbarashe Moyo.
The two student leaders, dumped in the bush in several kilometres from each
other, survived the ordeal by whistling and shouting to find each other
along a dirt road, says Moyo, who claims he picked them up later.
According to the two student leaders, they were arrested in the city of
Gweru after having been trailed by suspected security agents from Mkoba
Teachers College in the Midlands provincial capital.
As they got into town, the two were waylaid and asked to produce the fliers
they had on them, inscribed 'struggle is our birthright'. They were then
forced into a car where they were told "we will take you to a place for
struggle". They were driven to Chachacha, some 10km outside Shurugwi.
The bush around the Chachacha park is normally accessible only to tourist
vehicles guarded by armed rangers.
Mangoma says their captors loaded their rifles and forced them at gunpoint
to run into the bush.
He says one police officer said: "You like struggle, now you can start
struggling with the wild animals here."
Police officials have made no comment.
Sources claim African statesmen caused 2010 u-turn
BY ITAI DZAMARA
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has apparently been told by other African
leaders that his plans to illegally extend his term to 2010 were
unacceptable and would see him totally isolated, prompting the Zanu (PF)
leader to make an about turn.
Impeccable sources revealed that whilst Mugabe had hoped for a reprieve when
he embarked on a tour of Namibia, Ghana and the Equatorial Guinea, he found
his colleagues "deeply concerned" about the situation in Zimbabwe. The
leaders of these countries, including President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa
are said to have called a spade a spade and advised Mugabe to stop his
'madness, a diplomatic source said.
There were also apparently discussions about a possible exit package for
Mugabe, as well as efforts to negotiate for a safe exit for him, involving
the President of Namibia, Hifikekunye Pohamba, in collaboration with Mbeki.
Mbeki was specific about Mugabe's 2010 plans when he met him in Ghana during
that country's 50th anniversary celebrations in Accra - apparently motivated
by the threat Zimbabwe's problems pose on South Africa's hosting of the
soccer World Cup in 2010.
"His colleagues clearly told Mugabe to stop his madness and especially
emphasized to him the invariable need for him to hold elections next year,"
a source said. "Some of them actually advised him not to stand for the
elections but give it over to someone else in Zanu (PF)."
Mugabe, who has sparked political upheavals both within the ruling party and
on the general political scene, made a u-turn and announced in Namibia that
he was prepared to stand for elections next year, repeating his usual
strategy, "if my party says I should stand".
Sources say Pohamba, who had apparently already consulted with Mbeki and
leaders, made it known to Mugabe at their first meeting that they were "fed
up with his bad politics".
Colleagues and friends this week mourned the death, at the hands of police,
of their comrade, Gift Tandare. Kerry Kay, the MDC's Deputy Secretary for
Health, said, "Gift was shot dead by the Zimbabwe Police militia because he,
like thousands of others, had gone to attend a Prayer Meeting at Zimbabwe
Stadium in Highfields on Sunday, called by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign to
pray for our beloved country. "Late this afternoon, after press conferences
and numerous other meetings, collecting food for our President and all those
detained and tortured by the brutal regime, Hon. Paurine Gwanyanya MP,
Evelyn Masaiti and I went to Glen View to visit the bereaved family of Gift
Tandare. "We arrived at their humble little home to find mourners grieving
for this senseless and brutal loss. It was heart wrenching and humbling to
share their grief. "The nation mourns with them. The struggle for democracy
and peace in Zimbabwe will continue.
The arrest and brutal torture of opposition and civil
society leaders shows the barbaric depths to which the Mugabe regime is
prepared to sink to maintain its stranglehold on power. The law-enforcement
agencies themselves have demonstrated on a number of occasions their utter
disregard for the rule of law and their contempt for the judicial system.
Yet, when it suits them, they enforce the law (if AIPPA and POSA can be
dignified by such a title) with ruthless force. The Zimbabwe constitution
guarantees Zimbabweans their right of assembly. Mugabe thinks differently.
How can the government expect its citizens to obey unjust laws when it is
flagrantly disregarding the law itself? The arrest, beatings and torture of
senior opposition and civil society leaders could have been sanctioned only
from the very top. The events of last weekend can in no way be attributed to
'over zealousness' on the part of the police. A few years ago, Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of The Daily News, appealed to the
Supreme Court against a decision of the Media and Information Commission to
deny it a license. The court made a ruling that ANZ could not approach the
court 'with dirty hands' - in other words, while it was in disobedience of
the requirements of the law (AIPPA) it could not ask the courts for redress.
The converse of that judgment is that the Zimbabwe government cannot seek to
enforce a ban on assembly when it is itself disregarding a court order
allowing such an assembly. Not only are the government's hands extremely
dirty in this instance - they are covered in blood. The death toll from
Sunday's 'law-enforcement activities' of the Zimbabwean authorities may be
only one - Gift Tandare. But one is one too many. And the many others who
have been thrashed and tortured will forever bear the scars, both physically
and mentally, of their ordeal. The decree banning all gatherings in cities
around Zimbabwe is unfair and unjust, and Zimbabweans have treated it with
the contempt it deserves. They are paying the price with their blood.
Zimbabweans would be well justified in defending themselves against this
continued violence at the hands of Zanu (PF) thugs, whether in the uniform
of the police or not. The Zimbabwean police have demonstrated beyond any
doubt that they are no longer the enforcers of the law, or the protectors of
the public. They, thus, forfeit any respect that might otherwise have been
accorded them by the citizens of the country. In fact, those very citizens
would be within their rights to form their own vigilante groups to protect
themselves from further assault and abuse by the police force.
BY JOHN MAKUMBE
While it is correct to state that what has happened cannot be undone, it is
equally correct to argue that we have a serious responsibility as social
analysts to examine the Dzivarasekwa disaster and identify some of its
causes in order to prevent similar disasters from befalling our nation in
In the process we have no choice but to point fingers and apportion blame,
and that is not a bad thing to do. The disaster that resulted in the loss of
at least 36 lives must be blamed squarely on the Mugabe regime, which has
run down the Zimbabwean economy to the extent that we have now all been
reduced to a nation of vendors. The majority of people who lost their lives
at 5:30 in the morning of that fateful day were on their way to Mbare Musika
to buy fruit and vegetables for re-sale in order to earn some money to look
after their families.
With the economy on its knees, there is little formal employment. The
informal sector seems to be the only method for most people to keep body and
soul together these days. With most men out of formal employment, it is
often left to the women to source fruit and vegetables and sell them in
Even there, vendors are often harassed by the notorious Zanu (PF) Repressive
Police (ZRP), who confiscate produce without compensating the poor people,
whom they regarded as illegal vendors. Needless to say, the ZRP bandits
often help themselves to the confiscated produce which they take home to
feed their own families.
It is the Mugabe regime that has destroyed the national infrastructure to
the extent that the railway booms and red lights that used to warn road
users of approaching trains have disappeared from our railroad crossings. It
is virtually impossible to find one operational railroad crossing boom and
lights set in Harare today.
There has not been any apology from the brainless Minister of Transport for
the disaster, even though it is clearly his ministry's responsibility to
ensure that those who use the roads and the railway lines are protected from
accidents such as happened last week.
It is ridiculous for the Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises to pledge
to keep the businesses of the deceased going. Is the failed Minister Nyoni
going to engage Green Bombers to source and sell fruit and vegetables for
the families of the victims?
Finally, it is obvious that the commuter omnibus was grossly over-loaded.
Here again, the demonic Mugabe regime is to blame - for it is the one that
has destroyed the once-viable public transport system we used to have in
this country. Every transport operator knows that the blood-sucking ZRP
traffic police will not be on the roads early in the morning. This is the
right time to maximise the daily earnings, as well as to generate enough
money to purchase fuel for the omnibus to operate the rest of the day. The
government-subsidised fuel that the regime used to provide stopped flowing
as long ago as December 2006. There is therefore a sort of desperation to
maximise passengers, even though this often results in failure to control
Indeed, the Mugabe regime has a lot to answer for, including the killing of
innocent people simply trying to eke out a living. The blood of all the
Dzivarasekwa victims will forever be a stain on the bloody hands of the
Vow to maintain illegal Commission running Harare
'Can we be stopped by these silly things?'
RESIDENTS of Harare have been angered by comments from the Minister of Local
Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatius Chiminya Morgan
Chombo, indicating he would not abide by a court ruling which declared
illegal, his imposed management at Town House.
Chombo was quoted in the Herald on March 6 saying, "the status quo at Town
House shall remain both in force and effect" while his official Sekesai
Makwavarara told the Standard on 4 March, "We are working. Can we be stopped
by these silly things?" and went on to declare, "Only the Minister of Local
Government Public Works and Urban Development can stop me from working."
Residents of Harare have repeatedly protested the continued re-appointment
of the illegal commission now running the affairs of Harare. The Combined
Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) applauded the ruling by the High Court,
endorsing previous judgments that the principle of re-appointing commissions
is illegal as it infringes on peoples' freedoms to elect their
On 2 March, in the matter between dismissed Town Clerk Nomutsa Mushoma
Chideya and the Commission, Justice Lawrence Kamocha ruled in Chideya's
favour. This was the latest in a series of judgments that have questioned
the legitimacy of the current Town Hall management.
Justice Kamocha concurred with previous judgments by Supreme Court Judge
Justice Wilson Sandura, in the case of Stevenson v Chombo and Others of
2002; Justice Hungwe's ruling in the matter between CHRA and Another v RG
(HH210 of 2001); and Makarau in the case of Christopher Magwenzi Zvobgo vs
City of Harare and Dominic Muzawazi (HH80 of 2005).
CHRA said the High Court ruling was categorical in ruling as illegal,
"Our lawyers, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, have advised us that
the proper procedure to be followed is for the respondents to seek leave of
appeal which means they have to approach the High Court and get the relief
to appeal to the Supreme Court. Without following this procedure, their
appeal is of no effect.
"The Makwavarara-led commission is illegal and has no mandate to make any
rules or regulations on behalf of the City of Harare, including the
implementation of the 2007 City Budget. The Supreme Court and the High Court
have made categorical rulings on this matter.
"Chombo's defiance clearly indicates that the Government he serves wilfully
ridicules and violates the law in the interests of the ruling party, making
a mockery of their resolve to return to the observance of the rule of law."
Israel Mabhoo, CHRA's vice-chairperson, said, "Central government should
have resolved the issue of the illegal commission running Harare a long time
ago. It is central government which is breaking the law through the Ministry
of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development."
In a statement, CHRA added, "The courts have established beyond doubt that
Chombo deliberately misinterprets Section 80 (5) of the Urban Councils' Act
(Chapter 29:15) to justify his lawlessness.
"Residents must send a clear message to both Chombo and Makwavarara that the
residents determine who runs Town House. Even those commissioners who
purport to advance the Chombo agenda will be liable to contempt of court in
their personal capacities.
"No one should be a law unto himself or herself. Chombo and Makwavarara are
literally insulting the intelligence not only of the honourable judges but
the entire citizenry.
"The citizens believe there is every reason to defy Chombo and his cronies
and hold peaceful demonstrations and marches to protest over the collapsed
service delivery, the continued imposition of the Commission at the expense
of elected representatives and the hostile and unjustified takeover of water
and sewer reticulation by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority from Local
"The commission has acted outside the law and its decisions are invalid.
CHRA calls on Chombo to abide by the Urban Councils' Act (Chapter 29:15) as
read with Section 103 (1) of the Electoral Act that provides for the holding
of elections once a vacancy arises in council.
"The court finds no provision in the Electoral Act or Urban Councils' Act
that states that once commissioners are appointed or re-appointed any
general election of councillors, which was due, is postponed indefinitely.
"For these reasons, CHRA continues to demand the immediate holding of
Mayoral and Council elections in Harare, and the removal of the illegal
commission from Town House, in line with the High Court ruling in Case
Number HH 210/2001 Hungwe J (CHRA and Another vs. RG), HH 80/ 2005 Makarau J
(Christopher Magwenzi Zvobgo vs. City of Harare and Dominic Muzawazi) and
delivered by Sandura J (Stevenson vs. Minister of Local Government and
Others SC 38/02) and HC12862/00."
With continued failure to heed these demands, the residents would continue
to withhold rates payments to the City of Harare and engage in peaceful
BY ITAI DZAMARA HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) could soon be
compelled to deploy forces into towns and cities to contain boiling
political tension, as opposition forces vow to continue pushing for
political change in the country. The Zimbabwean has established that ZNA
leaders this week communicated to all barracks that they had to put forces
on standby due to the possibility of them being called in to reinforce
operations by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Police Support Unit. "The
communication, which was put in writing for the army headquarters in Harare,
states that we must generally be prepared for duty in the face of increasing
reports of violent clashes," a senior official from the army's KGV1
headquarters in Harare said. "This means necessary measures, which include
making sure there are enough resources both in terms of manpower and other
needs, are put in place. If it becomes necessary, this might also mean
calling all members of the army from leave and other commitments." Defence
minister, Sydney Sekeramayi said. "If the situation calls for it, the army,
just like any other state security force, shall be required to intervene and
will do so". The communication to army barracks followed a meeting last week
involving the Joint Operation Command, comprising leaders of the army,
police, prison services and intelligence unit of government. Sources privy
to the meeting said it was agreed that the state security agents had to be
on high alert following claims by the Central Intelligence Organisation that
it had established the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had
amassed weapons and was planning to start civil strife in the country.
Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi, who is in charge of the police, also
confirmed that the ZRP was on high alert following recent clashes with
Farmers fail to meet production targets for this season
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe is set to import thousands of tonnes of wheat this year
after farmers failed to meet the 2006/07 season production targets due to
lack of equipment and fertilizer.
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) says farmers managed to produce only 150 000
metric tonnes for the 2006/07 season, against the 220 000 metric tonnes the
GMB acting chief executive officer Colonel Samuel Muvuti said, "We have to
import several tonnes of wheat this year, as wheat farmers failed to meet
the production targets for the 2000/07 season due to serious electricity
outages and lack of equipments like combine harvesters."
Newly appointed Agricultural Minister, Rugare Gumbo, noted that the
government would import wheat from southern African countries but refused to
state how many tonnes.
Southern Africa Commercial Farmers Alliance president, Marc Crawford, said
farmers were not able to meet the wheat production target due to many
factors, among them the shortage of agricultural inputs.
Zimbabwe, once lauded as the breadbasket of southern Africa, has seen its
status reduced to an importer of agricultural produce since the chaotic and
violent land-reform programme was launched.
Critics say many of the new black farmers were allocated farms on the basis
of political patronage rather than agricultural expertise and that they lack
dedication and financial resources to make a success of farming.
President Robert Mugabe, who blames drought and sanctions for poor
agricultural yields, has said that land reform was necessary to correct
colonial imbalances in land ownership. - CAJ News
Biggest foreign demo planned
EDITOR - As an initiative on foreign policy relations and lobbying take
offensive position, the coalition of forces of right against the politically
wrong takes momentum here in Canada.
This should be the biggest demo Zimbabweans will ever hold against Zimbabwe
in a foreign land at the embassy in Ottawa.
While you engage with the regime, both from protests and legal take in
courts, we will boost the diplomatic front.
We work in collaboration with everybody and are encouraging the Diaspora to
take this day as: A no-vote of confidence day to the Zimbabwe government by
The cry 'Mugabe must go' must now be heeded everywhere where a Zimbabwean
dwells - from Africa, Europe, Americas and India and Australia ( I am not
sure if Russia, Japan and China have any Zimbabweans of any significant
When next the rise is up, at home, pray it stays up till collapse or we will
be collapsed. We stand in prayer together with fellow sufferers but focused
on victory, if not to us to our children. Chinja Maitiro! Guqula Inzenzo!
With blessings that are needed for this hour.
MANYEVERE M ANDREW, MDC (Zimb) Canada
How long should we wait?
EDITOR - When I come across a Zimbabwean anywhere in South Africa, no matter
how wealthy or poor the person, and I ask why the person is here, I always
receive the same response: "Everything will be all right, but how long
should we wait?"
Nowadays in Zimbabwe, there is segregation. If you are not a Zanu (PF)
member you are a scapegoat of the ruling party.
Everybody must sneer at the Zimbabwean government. This is a crestfallen
incident for my countrymen. I ask you to unite in this kind of situation. We
are in a race with the devil himself but at the end the people of God will
rejoice if we are patient.
The so-called Zimbabwean intellectuals who are in power are circumventing
their own people and are a disgrace to the nation. How are we going to
return the once breadbasket of Africa to its glory days? Nowadays a desert
is better than Zimbabwe in terms of tourism and economy.
In terms of suffering and hardships - we have had enough. Now is the time
for the knowledgeable people to take over and the extravagant ones to step
STUDENT JOURNALIST, Zimbabwe
Shangaan should resist
EDITOR - I write with a sad mind, having heard of the unfair treatment of a
so-called minor tribe, the Shangaan, during the recent elections in Chiredzi
Such treatment should not at all be allowed in a democratic country like
Zimbabwe .I therefore urge the Shangaan to keep on the fight.
AMBASSADOR TIRITOSE, by email
Zambians won't be silenced on evictions
EDITOR - The difference between Zambia's proposal to remove informal
settlements (to use the term the SA government invented to describe the vast
peri-urban areas into which the overpopulated Transkei, etc, had spilled)
and Mugabe's similar 'Removal of rubbish' in 2005is that it won't be done
without any warning and without any visible opposition, reported fairly in
the Zambian media.
Mugabe said he had been contemplating such a move for years, which means he
watched myriads move from his dubious communal lands for some form of humble
but better life, intending all the time to jump on them. (He couldn't jump
on the 2 million refugees in South Africa).
He did it suddenly and without plans because the 'rubbish' had voted against
him in an election. Typical!
(The assault on white farms and the MDC in the subsequent election was due
to the defeat of the perverted constitution in that referendum. The whites
had voted against it because clauses legitimising any confiscation of
property were added though the only one who had suggested such an idea in
the surprisingly open debate which preceded the writing of the constitution
was Mugabe himself. He had, of course, declared himself opposed to any
change, being happy with the 1987 perversions which solidified his tyranny.)
And if the opposition in Zambia is vocal enough, it won't take place.
HISTORIAN, by email
Think now about energy needs
EDITOR - I refer to the ongoing debate about the reconstruction of our
country once Mugabe has departed.
The underlying thought gripping most of us, about a new Zimbabwe, is that we
ought to have a democratic dispensation with a robust economy. This is good.
But how do we accomplish this miracle?
I note with grave concern that our discourse places a premium only on issues
of governance, making little mention of matters such as the energy crisis,
and so on.
A new regime will obviously be compelled to meet the fuel and electricity
needs of a recuperating economy. That we are a land-locked country must,
however, not be used as an excuse for failure to put our country back on
track. Whereas throughout Mugabe's tenure in office, we have relied heavily
on energy imports, wouldn't it be imperative for us today to come up with
home-grown solutions? At least there is no shortage of ideas and resources.
While in the past we blended imported petrol with locally produced ethanol,
shouldn't we propose engines that operate entirely on ethanol, as is the
case in Brazil? I think it's more cost effective than the former.
There are even more newfound alternatives, biodiesel from Jathropha and
hydrogen from electrolysis of water, which are available locally - apart
from being environmentally friendly as well. As for electricity, more power
stations must be built to complement the existing power facilities, given
the availability of coal, uranium, water reservoirs and more.
I don't suppose we are not capable of putting our economy back on its feet.
But I believe it is worth stressing that unless a new government tackles the
problem of energy and other vital issues, an ailing economy will be a thorn
in our flesh.
JAY ZAT, Jozi
JOHANNESBURG - At the 'money market' stalls at Park Station, there was no
sign the Zimbabwe dollar was recovering against major currencies, as the
dollar tumbled further to trade at Z$1,400 against the rand this week. In a
snap survey by CAJ News in Johannesburg, most cross-border traders could be
seen cashing their rands for the Zimbabwe dollar at the stalls operated by
foreign-currency dealers stationed at the busy Johannesburg terminus. "We
now earn better than the ministers and other Mugabe fat cats, and pray that
the dollar keeps on losing value against major currencies," said Alfred
Gwarimbo from Chipinge. "We are happy that the Zimbabwe dollar goes on
falling against the major currencies on a daily basis. We will soon return
to the situation of people earning millions, which Gono tried to end by
slashing three zeroes (from the currency) some time back last year. There is
no way Gono will stop us from becoming millionaires." Someone who cashes in
R1 000 is given Zim$1 400 000. However, another cross-border trader pointed
out this did not help because, even if you raised so many Zimbabwean dollars
by trading rands, the money that you had was useless. "Even if you were to
raise three million dollars, there is nothing to smile about because the
more we get from the sale of rands, the less buying power we have when we
get home with these useless bearer cheques," said Simplisio Marambadoro The
country is now in its eighth year of economic recession. The difference
between the official dollar exchange rate and the black-market rate is
vast. -CAJ News
'The kids have fresh motivation for life and have a reason for living'
The bulldozers of Operation Murambatsvina left devastation and broken dreams
in their wake.
THE idea of holding a Homeless World Cup copped considerable ridicule when
it was suggested back in 2001, but for Zimbabwe victims of Operation
Murambatsvina (Operation Clean-Out Trash), it has brought a ray of hope.
An average of 300 bare-footed, displaced children queue at the muddy
Hatcliffe Extension football pitch, so that they can get a chance to
showcase their skills and be part of the Zimbabwe Homeless World Cup squad.
The Homeless World Cup project is currently based in Hatcliffe, one of the
most impoverished suburbs of Harare.
The kids play their heart out and hope that they get selected to be part of
the team, so that they can escape the grinding poverty in the country - at
least for a month - during the Homeless World Cup, set to take place in
Copenhagen, Denmark in October.
Tawanda Karasa, co-ordinator of the Youth Achievement in Sports for
Development (YASD), told CAJ News the programme was attracting an average of
300 displaced children a time, since the team made its debut at the South
Africa Cup held in Cape Town, in October last year.
"The Homeless World Cup is a touching drama because most of these kids are
vulnerable and were displaced by Operation Murambatsvina. For a change,
these kids are treated with dignity. People from all walks of life cheer you
on as you represent your country. It's a way of restoring life. It's a way
of establishing friendship.
"The kids have fresh motivation for life and have a reason for living," said
Karasa, who is also a resident of Hatcliffe Extension, for the past 18
"It has boosted their confidence as they got to meet people like Sir Alex
Ferguson and Portuguese football legend Eusebio, who always come to the
event," Karasa said.
The annual Homeless World Cup literally brings soccer to the street. Its
stars are not pampered prima donnas; all have experienced homelessness in
the previous two years, or are part of drug or alcohol rehabilitation
Zimbabweans were surprised to learn of the European definition of
homelessness and the idea behind Homeless World Cup - they discovered that
living rough in Beverley Hills is much nicer than being down-and-out in
Bernard Nyabasa (24) said, "I am from Hatcliffe, affected by Operation
Murambatsvina in July 2005.
"The operation started in the town. We didn't know that they were also going
to come to the residential settlements to drive people away. When the police
came, they were armed with guns, battle sticks, armoured cars, and they just
told the people to take their possessions and get out. And then they started
destroying the houses. If you didn't do what you were told, they just
bulldozed your house down.
"They took us to Caledonia Farm where they said they would give us new
stands (plots of land). But, after a month, they just took us back but we
had no houses. Now my mum and dad have returned to the rural area and I am
living with my uncle - 10 of us living in a three-roomed house.
"The only source of power we have is firewood. The only source of water is
shallow boreholes. They say that the water was tested and is clean, but how
can you have a toilet at the upper end and have the well on the downside, it
doesn't make sense. That water cannot be safe. The situation is not good.
People get ill, especially when it's raining. Now they have improvised a
small clinic but it cannot meet the demand."
Nyabasa added that there are no jobs, and people in Hatcliffe depend on the
World Food Programme.
Operation Murambatsvina also saw dreams being shattered.
"I have O levels and A levels and I am studying for my ACCA accountancy
diploma at the University of Zimbabwe. I was supposed to write my exams but
then there was Operation Murambatsvina. Right now, I can't afford to write
my exams due to the foreign-currency crisis in Zimbabwe. Everything is
expensive! Tuition fees, books, even to commute to college - everything is
damn expensive," Nyabasa said.
"My only dream is to become a certified accountant. Unfortunately, sometimes
circumstances don't allow you. But I want to finish my studies, find work,
help my parents and help my people. There are a lot of people suffering in
Zimbabwe. I wish I could help them but I can't, because I don't have the
The positive impact of the Homeless World Cup is growing year by year. In
the first tournament in 2003, 18 countries participated. The 2006 Homeless
World Cup represents a major leap to 48 participating countries.
The Zimbabwean team of Ivo Bell, Shingi Munhenga, Simbarashe Saidi, Thomas
Dandara, Simbarashe Chikaniza, Samuel Mandava, Forward Chiwirambezo and
Bernard Nyabasa are looking forward to the tournament in October.
Zimbabwe participated at the international street soccer jamboree last
October and came a credible 28th out of 48 participating nations.
"We have an abundance of homeless people who are talented," said Karasa,
"but we cannot accommodate all of them. Saidi (Simbarashe) is a star who can
play in any team in the country."
The project's core aim is to teach young people by giving them access to
high-quality coaching in football, as well as assertiveness and life skills.
At the moment, 300 young children from the age of six to 21 years are
catered for by YASD in four key programmes: soccer-training programme,
soccer with academics, soccer against Aids and drug abuse and recreational
therapy for orphans and vulnerable children.
For the players, the Homeless World Cup is a great chance to build the
profile of the programme and give other disadvantaged young people the
opportunity to benefit from the work of YASD.
Last year, some 500 street-dwellers from 48 countries went to Cape Town,
South Africa to play: on the field, competition was intense; off it,
scallies from Liverpool, England found common ground with the dispossessed
Tawanda Karasa, Petros Chatiza, Simbarashe Saidi, Samuel Mandawa, Shingai
Munhenga, Simbarashe Nyakabau, Bernard DudzaiNyabasa, Ivo Bell, Raphael
Banhu, Thomas Dandara. - CAJ News
The Zimbabwe Embassy in London was closed today. What a surprise. About
200 Zimbabweans distraught at the brutal treatment of opposition activists
in Zimbabwe found no one to answer their questions. All we saw was an
anxious face behind a twitching curtain. Fear and guilt. We wanted to know
why the regime in Zimbabwe had meted out the vicious treatment which had
left so many MDC and other activists severely injured. Pictures of their
injuries have horrified the world and we were swamped by the media. The
demonstration called by the MDC UK was easily the biggest ever held on a
weekday by Zimbabweans in London. Big enough to alarm the Embassy people.
They had contacted the police to ban the protest because they said 2,000
people were coming to attack the Embassy. For the first time in five years
of Vigil protest there were the barriers were round the Embassy rather than
containing demonstrators. Ephraim Tapa, Chair of MDC UK spoke for us all
when he said we must keep up the pressure. A collection was made for Gift
Tandare, the MDC activist who was shot dead on Sunday by Zimbabwean police.
We grieve with his family. For this pictures of the demonstration:
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk