Sun Mar 18, 2007 10:14 AM GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean opposition legislator was badly beaten on
Sunday as he tried to travel to Belgium, a day after his colleagues were
stopped from taking a medical trip to South Africa, an official from his
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change headed by
Morgan Tsvangirai, was at Harare airport on his way to an Africa, Pacific
and Carribean-European Union parliamentary meeting when about eight men
pounced on him.
"He was badly beaten by men who jumped out of two unmarked cars at the
airport," said William Bango, Tsvangirai's spokesman.
Chamisa was receiving treatment at a Harare hospital on his eye and left jaw
and had lost a lot of blood, Bango said.
On Saturday, police stopped two other MDC leaders, Sekai Holland and Grace
Kwinje, boarding a flight to South Africa for medical checks after they were
beaten in police custody a week ago, their lawyer said.
Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a splinter MDC faction, was also stopped
from travelling to South Africa, where he spends part of his time working,
an MDC official said.
Police were not immediately available for comment.
Police arrested Tsvangirai and dozens of opposition and civic group leaders
for holding an illegal rally several days ago, defence lawyers say.
A court hearing on Tuesday was cancelled after a state prosecutor ordered
Tsvangirai and others be treated in hospital.
Sun 18 Mar 2007 8:24:12 BST
By Andrew Quinn
CAPE TOWN, March 18 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's economic collapse is likely to
accelerate with inflation topping 5,000 percent by year-end as President
Robert Mugabe's government loses control of a crisis already rippling across
Africa, a senior IMF official said on Sunday.
International Monetary Fund Africa Director Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane said
Zimbabwe's government had shown little sign of coming to grips with its
mounting economic problems, promising more hardships amid sharply rising
"It depends on how much the people in the country can take," Bio-Tchane told
Reuters in an interview.
"The question is how far it could fall. The last four years we've seen GDP
falling by more than 35 percent. Inflation is running at more than 1,700
percent and our estimate is by the year's end it could move even beyond
Bio-Tchane's forecast came as Mugabe's government comes under rising
international condemnation over a violent crackdown on the opposition this
In response, the United States and other nations threatened to tighten
sanctions against Mugabe and other senior Zimbabwean officials.
Mugabe, 83, has warned against any "monkey games" by those he called the
stooges of his Western critics and said police would now be well armed to
deal with violence caused by the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Bio-Tchane said Mugabe and Zimbabwe Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono
appeared unable to stem the economic slide, which has turned one of Africa's
most promising economies into a basket case beset by frequent shortages of
food, fuel and foreign exchange.
"It is one step forward, two steps back," he said, saying Gono was fuelling
the crisis by expanding the already enormous fiscal deficit to some 40
percent of GDP this year, printing floods of new cash and subsidising
struggling state-run firms.
"They need to rein this in," he said. "But obviously they need more than
that. You can't let the economy function if people are not free to operate,
if their rights are not secured, including human rights."
"You will always find a few people who will benefit from this system, so
therefore it may continue. I can't give a date when the whole thing will
stop or collapse. But it will certainly continue falling. This will continue
impoverishing people, people will continue losing their jobs, continue
losing their purchasing power."
HOLDING AFRICA BACK
Bio-Tchane said Zimbabwe's woes were already felt across Africa as millions
of economic refugees stream out of the country, mostly to neighbouring South
Africa, while economic growth is hampered by the loss of regional trade and
"It's holding the sub-region back, and it is holding the whole Africa region
back," he said. "This was a booming economy, this was a net exporter of
goods and services in the past. Now exports are falling. It is a country
that is a net importer today."
He added that it appeared some countries were helping to bankroll Mugabe
through loans or other deals.
"We don't have evidence of the sources, but clearly they are getting some
financing," he said.
The IMF and other key Western donors, including the World Bank, suspended
aid to Zimbabwe more than six years ago over Mugabe's economic policies that
are blamed for the economic meltdown.
Western donors withdrew aid and other assistance, accusing Mugabe of
widespread human rights violations and for seizing white-owned farms, which
has turned the country from a regional bread basket to a nation barely able
to feed itself.
Despite the problems, Bio-Tchane said Zimbabwe could quickly access outside
help once it made the necessary economic reforms.
While the IMF in February maintained its suspension of financial and
technical assistance to Zimbabwe, Bio-Tchane said efforts to repay some $129
million in arrears to the fund had kept open its chances to obtain immediate
"They could be quickly eligible for technical assistance. And for funds, I
must say, in the case of Zimbabwe it is really the political commitments of
the government that are preventing everyone from cooperating."
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2007 5:34 PM
Subject: Australian Aboriginal Leaders Condemn Zimbabwe Bashings
Some of Australia's most eminent Aboriginal community leaders, artists,
educators and performers have expressed their horror at the brutal bashing
and torture of Zimbabwean grandmother Mrs Sekai Holland and other
opposition leaders at the hands of the Mugabe regime in Harare.
Many Aboriginal Australians who were involved in the anti-apartheid
movement in the early 1970s have strong and fond memories of Sekai
Holland. She was a staunch supporter of the Aboriginal Land Rights
movement and the 1972 Aboriginal Embassy.
Naomi Mayer's of the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service said that Sekai
was and is a strong but gentle person of principle and great integrity and
that it was outrageous for a grandmother to be brutalized in this manner.
Mrs. Mayers said that both the Redfern Legal Centre and the Redfern
Aboriginal Medical Service has written to the South African High
Commission (the major international sponsor of the Mugabe regime)
expressing concern for the safety of Mrs Holland and other opposition
leaders in Zimbabwe.
Other Aboriginal rights leaders and Aboriginal community members who said
that they were shocked and outraged by the actions of the Mugabe
Government included, Jenny Munro, Lyall Munro, Gary Foley, Sol Bellear,
Gary Williams, NSW MP Linda Burney, novelist and historian Tony Birch,
Kaye Bellear (widow of Aboriginal District Court Judge Bob Bellear),
novelist and Miles Franklin Award nominee Alexis Wright, artists Richard
Bell and Sam Wickman, , barrister Lloyd McDermott, and veteran campaigners
Lowitja O'Donohue, Evelyn Scott, Faith Bandler, Hans Bandler, Lester
Bostock, Dulcie Flower, Euphemia Bostock, Joyce Clague and Colin Clague.
Activist and historian Gary Foley, who knew Sekai from the late 1960s said
that it was particularly ironic that the ANC Government of South Africa
were propping up the Mugabe regime at a time when the Zimbabwe government
is brutalizing a grandmother who once stood beside Australian Aboriginal
activists to fight against South African apartheid.
Mr. Foley said that Mugabe has dismissed criticism from the West as just
'white racists'. "Well it is time for Mugabe and his thugs to realize
there are black people in the west who also condemn his actions. Fascism
is fascism, whether its face is white or black!"
The Aboriginal Australians also called on the Australian government do
more to ensure the safety and security of Sekai Holland and her opposition
colleagues in Zimbabwe. They said the Australian government, which had
rushed in to help depose Sadam Hussein have an obligation to take more
firm action against a worse tyrant in Zimbabwe.
for further info: firstname.lastname@example.org
HARARE (AFP) - Arthur Mutambara, leader of the breakaway faction of
Zimbabwe's opposition party, will be charged with inciting public violence
after being re-arrested Saturday, officials said.
The leader of a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) breakaway faction was
arrested at Harare International Airport as he was travelling to South
Africa where his family is based.
"He (Mutambara) is being charged with inciting public violence," Harrison
Nkomo, his lawyer told AFP Sunday.
"These are the same charges which he was charged with last week, which the
high court ruled against. We are now seeking for his immediate release from
the police cells as we have written a letter to the police and the attorney
Mutambara was among 49 others, including the leader of the other MDC
faction, Morgan Tsvangirai, who were beaten by police after being arrested
last Sunday, when police prevented a mass prayer meeting.
On Monday last week, a High Court judge ordered police either to take the
opposition leaders to court by 12 noon, or to release them from custody.
Mutambara and other opposition and civic leaders were nevertheless brought
to court well after the judge's deadline.
The opposition activists were later released into their lawyer's custody
after the state failed to formalise charges against them.
Nkomo said they would file an urgent High Court motion on Monday seeking the
release of Mutambara.
Meanwhile, police said they had identified members of the gang that
masterminded the bombing of Marimba police station in the capital last week,
press reports said.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told the state-run Sunday Mail that they
had managed to identify the suspected opposition activists behind the
firebomb attack, which seriously injured two policewoman.
Published on Sunday, March 18, 2007
By FREDERICK TSOTSO
Zimbabwe - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe appears cornered. Faced with a
rapidly imploding economy, growing opposition from within his own ZANU-PF
political party and an increasingly militant opposition, he is throwing
caution to the wind and lashing out in all directions.
The country appears to be on the brink of degenerating into chaos. The
recent police attack on Mugabe's political opponents was the president's way
of reacting to the growing public anger against him and his ruling party
that's being fueled by the country's economic meltdown.
The arrests and beatings of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, along with other political and human-rights
activists, has only served to once again focus international attention on
the rapidly deteriorating nation and Mugabe's repressive regime.
So far, the aging president has rejected all of the opposition's demands and
instead has responded with the use of force.
Some local observers contend that the latest violence may have actually been
orchestrated by government authorities who believe that the growing
political instability will allow Mugabe to either cancel or postpone the
presidential vote scheduled for next year.
Mugabe, who turned 83 last month amid great pomp and fanfare, has announced
that he would seek another term of office if asked to do so by the ZANU-PF
Critics blame Mugabe for the once prosperous country's current crisis. The
annual rate of inflation last month topped 1,700 percent - the highest in
the world - and the unemployment rate is estimated at 80 percent. There are
chronic shortages of food, medicines and fuel.
"This is a political game that is being played," said Alois Chaumba,
national chairman of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. "There
is no way we could have free and fair elections because of the amount of
intimidation going on at the moment."
While the MDC alleged that the police had killed three of its members who
were en route to a prayer meeting, authorities would only confirm one death.
The police alleged that the prayer meeting, organized by the Save Zimbabwe
Coalition - an emerging alliance of opposition parties, civic groups and
church organizations - was in fact an anti-Mugabe political rally that
violated the nation's draconian Public Order and Security Act.
Torture by police
But it was the sight of a beaten and battered Tsvangirai in court that has
sparked international outrage. Even the justices on the Zimbabwe bench were
forced to acknowledge that the MDC leader had clearly been tortured at the
hands of the police.
"These actions are symptomatic of a rogue regime that has lost all
semblances of sanity and decency," said Innocent Gonese, the MDC legal
There is growing sense of despair on the streets of the capital.
"Seven years ago Zimbabwe was a wonderful country," said Tevedzerai Marecha,
an office worker in Harrare. "Now we are in hell; we are slowly hurtling
toward civil war."
Frederick Tsotso is a journalist in Zimbabwe who writes for The Institute
for War & Peace Reporting.
March 18, 2007
IT IS a shock to see someone you know on the front pages of the newspapers
looking battered and bruised, with one eye closed and swollen and jagged
stitches across his skull.
The picture of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, told us far
more than any words about the lengths to which President Robert Mugabe will
go to quell criticism..
Yet for anyone familiar with Zimbabwe's despotic regime, it was not really a
surprise. The first time I met Tsvangirai I was heavily pregnant and he had
narrowly escaped being thrown out of his 10th-floor office window by Mugabe's
thugs. Both of us were coming to terms with a new situation.
We sat in the scruffy office that served as headquarters of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), of which he was president, and he told me
that he had been working at his desk a few days after leading a general
strike against tax increases when seven men had burst in.
Tsvangirai, 55, is a powerfully built former miner, but they smashed his
head with a chair, then pushed him towards the window. He was convinced that
had he not raised the alarm by shouting to his secretary, he would have died
"Hell hath no fury like a government on its last legs" was the opinion of
the Zimbabwe Standard newspaper after that attack. Tsvangirai was of the
same opinion. The army had had to be deployed to deal with Zimbabwe's first
food riots and he was convinced that Mugabe's days were numbered.
Shortly afterwards, in September 1999, he launched the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) - the first real opposition that Mugabe had faced
since leading the country to independence from Britain in 1980.
Every time I have met Tsvangirai since, he has asked about the "baby". Last
summer, sitting in the garden of his bungalow in Avondale, amid the clamour
of some of his six children, he inquired as usual. "Morgan, that baby is now
seven years old," I laughed. "That shows how long all this has been going on
During that time Zimbabwe has notched up a series of unenviable records. It
has the world's highest inflation and fastest-shrinking peacetime economy.
Mugabe's violent programme of farm seizures has turned the former
breadbasket of southern Africa into a land of hunger with the lowest life
expectancy anywhere - just 34 for women and 37 for men - and the highest
percentage of orphans.
How has Mugabe been able to hang on as his country falls apart? I have
covered the last three Zimbabwean elections - parliamentary in 2000 and
2005, and presidential in 2002 - and there was a tide of anger against
Mugabe and his Zanu-PF. Yet a combination of rigging and state control of
the media ensured victory for the ruling party in rural areas, even if it
had to concede the cities to the opposition.
Although it seemed clear to outsiders that Mugabe was not going to allow
mere elections to remove him from power, Tsvangirai has appeared shocked by
each defeat. After the third stolen election, MDC candidates gathered at the
party's Harvest House headquarters in Harare and were horrified to discover
that there was, as they put it, "no plan B".
Why have Zimbabweans not taken to the streets as people did in Yugoslavia
and Ukraine to force out unpopular leaders? If ever there was a chance it
was after the voting in 2002 when youths wandered the capital waving red
cards like football referees to signify that Mugabe's time was up. But
Tsvangirai did not take it, saying he did not want to be responsible for
causing a bloodbath.
Zimbabwe has been a frustrating story to cover over the past few years.
First there are the difficulties of entering clandestinely and interviewing
people without putting them at risk. But one of the saddest aspects has been
watching the rest of Africa give standing ovations to Mugabe.
I had always felt irritated that Zimbabweans were endlessly complaining that
the West should intervene. Why did they not do something for themselves?
But in May 2005, I happened to be in the country at the start of Operation
Murambatsvina (Drive out the Filth) when government bulldozers began
destroying hundreds of thousands of homes in shanty towns, supposedly in the
name of urban beautification. In fact it was because of the fear that the
inhabitants might rise up.
I looked on in horror as people with blank faces watched everything they had
worked for being smashed to pieces. Later, as the police got bored, they
instructed people to take axes to their own homes and throw their belongings
on the fires. Nobody protested and I realised just how oppressed the
Many of the people who might have risen up have gone. An astonishing 3.4m
Zimbabweans have left the country, 70% of the working population.
Those who remain are for the most part weak, hungry and sick. Almost a fifth
of the population is HIV-positive. In Zimbabwe this develops into full-blown
Aids far faster than elsewhere because of a lack of drugs and nutrition. The
attention of these people is focused on survival.
Amid such horrendous conditions, the opposition played into Mugabe's hands
by splitting in November 2005. This was largely caused by Tsvangirai's
high-handedness in overruling a party decision to contest Senate elections.
There are now two rival MDC factions, although they came together last
Sunday for a prayer meeting, which is perhaps why Mugabe's thugs broke it up
so violently, killing one MDC activist and badly beating Tsvangirai and
The last time I saw Tsvangirai he was bleak. "Mugabe has no exit plan," he
said. "His only plan is to hold on to power."
The pictures of Tsvangirai's smashed and swollen face have refocused
attention on him and revitalised his own resolve. "Far from killing my
spirit, the scars they brutally inflicted on me have reenergised me," he
Perhaps more importantly, the international condemnation might finally
provoke action from neighbouring South Africa, which provides Zimbabwe's
electricity and could literally switch off the lights.
With so many Zimbabweans dying that bodies are being left in mortuaries
because people cannot afford to bury their relatives, the words of
Archbishop Desmond Tutu had particular resonance. "What more has to happen
before we who are leaders, religious and political, of our mother Africa are
moved to cry out, 'Enough is enough?' " Tutu asked.
Christina Lamb is the author of House of Stone: The Story of a Family
Divided in War-Torn Zimbabwe (Harper Perennial)
The Sunday Times