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State agents 'sold' tear gas to MDC supporters

Zim Online

Monday 19 March 2007

By Brian Ncube

BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe national intelligence agency has launched a "full
scale" probe of security officers it accuses of providing tear gas to the
opposition during last week's violent protests in Harare, ZimOnline has

The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) says some senior members of the
Zimbabwean police sold the tear gas to opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party supporters ahead of last week's violent clashes in

In a memorandum titled, "Origins of the grenades in opposition possession,"
dated 13 March 2007, that was addressed to the ministers of defence, state
security and home affairs, the CIO called for a "full-scale" probe of the

The probe, which suggests serious discontent by officers within President
Robert Mugabe's security forces, is said to be targeting senior officials in
the armoury section and those at the district and station commands.

"The demonstrators used the UKMK11number 91 and the UK L1A1 hand grenades,
which emit CS and CN type of smoke and are only available in police
reserves, meaning that they were clandestinely obtained from some senior
police officers.

"Junior police officers could not have sold these as they are made to
account for each and every grenade they take out for operations once the
operation is over, hence senior officers are answerable," reads part of the

Last week, ZimOnline reported that the feared CIO agency had deployed its
secret agents within the security forces to purge officers who are suspected
of backing the MDC.

Last week, police fought running battles with opposition supporters in
Highfield after they blocked a prayer rally organized by the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign, a coalition that is fighting for political reform in Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai and several opposition leaders were later arrested and
brutally tortured by state agents while in police custody torching violent
protests and demonstrations across the country by opposition supporters.

Tsvangirai's torture also raised political temperatures in the southern
African country with several "revenge attacks" against the police being
reported last week alone.

A police station was petrol bombed in Harare's Marimba suburb leaving two
police women seriously burnt while a train was attacked in Zimbabwe's second
city of Bulawayo.

Sources within the state agency said Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
was last Wednesday tasked by Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi to institue
an urgent probe into how the tear gas "found its way into the wrong hands".

"He was given a 14-day deadline to finish those investigations and furnish
both the agency and the Minister with the full names of those who sold the

"The Commissioner has already drawn names of senior officers that will head
the probe team, while operatives from the CID Law and Order section have
been deployed to do the ground investigations," said the source.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijean confirmed the probe when contacted for
comment at the weekend.

"We cannot rule out the fact that some senior officers are working with the
opposition in the matter. That is why we have instituted the investigations.
We will not rest until we find who they are," said Bvudzijena.

Meanwhile, Chihuri has ordered all provincial commanders to provide weapons
to undercover police officers to guard against revenge attacks by MDC
supporters following last week's crackdown against the party's leaders.

In a separate memorandum written last Thursday, titled, "Arming of Police
Details and New Dress Order for Officers on Duty," reference number
GM63/2007, Chihuri said officers from the Criminal Investigations Department
Law and Order Section and Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI)
should be provided with pistols with immediate effect.

"The pistols should be given to all members of the PISI and CID Law and
Order section who were trained in weapon handling during their induction
courses at Buchwa Mine.

"Commanders should adhere to these without fail and deploy an armed member
near uniformed police officers to provide cover to them," reads part of the

A junior police officer in Bulawayo confirmed the latest development.

"We were told that the situation was very volatile and officers from PISI
and the Law and Order section would be armed and deployed with us or at a
certain radius to provide cover," he said. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe to crack whip to check growing dissent

Zim Online

Monday 19 March 2007

By Justin Muponda

HARARE - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe will step up a crackdown on
political opponents to check growing dissent over an economic meltdown and
moves to extend his long rule, but this could rejuvenate and embolden the
opposition to confront the veteran leader, analysts said.

The southern African nation is on political knife-edge as pressure mounts on
Mugabe, who is presiding over a deepening economic crisis blamed on his
policies and has seen inflation zoom past 1 700 percent and unemployment
rocket while poverty rises.

State security agents last week allegedly assaulted opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several other political
and civic group leaders as they attempted to attend an outlawed prayer

Political analysts said the crackdown could galvanise the fractious MDC and
push its factions towards unity against Mugabe.

But as tensions rise, with the opposition vowing to mobilise Zimbabweans
against Mugabe over the crisis, the government would resort to heavy-handed
tactics to hang on to power, analysts said.

"There is growing political intolerance on the part of the government which
is determined to suppress public discontent," said Eldred Masunungure, a
political commentator and University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer.

"I can imagine the government is bringing all these violence charges to
justify a major offensive against the MDC and all the other opponents,
whether perceived or real which it views as threat to government," he added.

He was referring to the government's charges that the MDC was involved in
countrywide militia-style violence, including attacking police officers with
petrol bombs.

Mugabe who has been defiant in the face of international outrage over the
assault of opposition members, including Tsvangirai who was treated for head
injuries at the Avenues Clinic, has said the police would again "bash" MDC
supporters who defied the police ban on rallies.

The 83-year-old leader, who has caused further controversy by saying he will
run for president next year if nominated by ZANU PF, on Friday upped the
stakes against the MDC, urged ruling party youths to defend the people, a
euphemism for party supporters to attack opponents.

"The people require protection from you and protection means fighting for
them, defending them," he said.

"After this experience we have gone through, we expect our youth will gear
themselves now to the defence of our people, our children, our communities,
our resources," he added.

But some analysts said increasing government crackdown could actually
embolden the MDC, which says Mugabe is not panicking.

"We could actually see the MDC being emboldened by this crackdown. I think
their resolve will strengthen," said John Makumbe, a political scientist at
the University of Zimbabwe.

Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the smaller MDC faction, seemed to buttress
this, when he said last Friday that Mugabe was wrong to think he would face
a divided opposition, warning that the "tyrant will be chased out of town."

Analysts said Mugabe would continue to be under pressure as the economy

An international Monetary Fund official said yesterday inflation, which
central bank governor Gideon Gono has likened to HIV, would surge to 5 000
percent by year-end.

Mugabe has been shut out by Western countries who criticize his policies
such as the seizure of land from white commercial farmers to give to
landless blacks, which is blamed for hitting commercial agriculture and
worsening food shortages.

Economic analysts said the current political environment would make it
difficult for the country to recover, adding that a social contract
envisioned by Gono had been doomed.

Gono has proposed to freeze prices and salaries under a social contract that
requires government to stop printing money to fund the budget deficit, but
as tensions rise, analysts said the plan was dead in the water.

"I think lets just forget about the social contract, it is not going to
happen in this environment," John Robertson, a private economic commentator
said. "The government has to address the political problems first."

Analysts say the economic crisis, whose effects are being felt in the region
as millions have sought jobs abroad, was the most serious threat to Mugabe's
hold on power and could lead to spontaneous street protests last seen a
decade ago.

The World Bank says Zimbabwe has the fastest shrinking economy outside a war
zone. - ZimOnline

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Inflation to hit 5 000 percent mark this year: IMF

Zim Online

Monday 19 March 2007

By Justin Muponda

HARARE - Zimbabwe's economic crisis will heighten further in the coming
months with inflation breaching the 5 000 percent mark by year-end as
President Robert Mugabe battles to contain a deep recession that is seen
destabilising the region, a senior IMF official said.

International Monetary Fund Africa (IMF) Director Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane said
Harare had shown little signs of coming to grips with its damaging economic
problems, promising more hardships as political tensions escalate.

"It depends on how much the people in the country can take," Bio-Tchane was
quoted by the international media as saying.

"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 5
000 percent."

Bio-Tchane spoke as Mugabe's government drew international outrage for
assaulting in police custody Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition officials who were violently stopped
from attending a prayer rally in Highfield.

The United States and Britain, which Mugabe accuses of punishing his
government and plotting his downfall, have led the chorus of condemnation
and threatened to tighten sanctions further against the Zimbabwean leader
and his inner circle.

Bio-Tchane said Mugabe and central bank chief Gideon Gono - whose name has
been thrown around as his potential successor - appeared overwhelmed by the
crisis, which has plunged the former food basket of southern Africa into a
basket case, surviving on aid and imports.

He accused Gono of fuelling the crisis by widening the budget deficit to
around 40 percent of GDP this year, through printing cash and generous
subsidies to loss-making parastatals.

"They need to rein this in," said Bio-Tchane. "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," he said.

Bio-Tchane spoke as the country's currency continued to depreciate rapidly
on the black market, where the bulk of trade is now being handled. The US
dollar fetched 16 000 Zimbabwe dollars at the weekend, compared to 10 000
last week.

There is a new wave of Zimbabweans fleeing the country for better paying
jobs abroad, in a move reminiscent of the year 2000, as people attempt to
escape rising political violence and a haemorrhaging economy.

"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.

Western countries, including the IMF and World Bank, have halted aid to
Mugabe over policy differences. Mugabe, now 83 and Zimbabwe's sole ruler
since independence in 1980, has turned to Asia for help, with little
success. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe to build Mugabe shrine

Zim Online

Monday 19 March 2007

      By Farisai Gonye

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government plans to build a massive shrine to
depict President Robert Mugabe's life and role in the liberation struggle in
the President's home district of Zvimba, ZimOnline has learnt.

      A senior government source told ZimOnline that Mugabe wants
construction of the shrine to start as soon as possible.

      The Zimbabwean strongman, whose country is facing imminent economic
meltdown, has already instructed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to raise
US$400 000 in foreign currency to buy exotic materials from Asia for the

      The project comes at a time when Zimbabwe is battling to secure
foreign currency to buy food, fuel and electricity while the Registrar
General's office has since stopped issuing passports and identity cards
because it does not have foreign currency to import the required resources.

      Sources within the government said Local Government Minister Ignatius
Chombo, who also hails from Zvimba, had been tasked to oversee the
construction of the shrine.

      Chombo confirmed being part of the project when contacted for comment
at the weekend.

      "The idea (of a shrine) has been discussed and we are moving on to the
planning stage," he said, refusing to reveal the figures involved.

      "It would be shrine for the local community and one that would be used
to depict the President's life history and legacy as well as aspects of the
liberation struggle," said Chombo.

      On 8 February, Mugabe in the company of Chombo met local clansmen and
traditional leaders in Zvimba to discuss the idea.

      Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson of the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party, condemned the plan to build a shrine for
Mugabe saying the move showed Mugabe was out of touch with the mood on the

      "The money they are going to use would be better spent on our
hospitals, which have become death chambers because of government neglect.
It shows Mugabe is out of touch with the needs and aspirations of our
people," said Chamisa. - ZimOnline

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Harare to prevent further protests

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: March 18 2007 20:48 | Last updated: March 18 2007 20:48

Zimbabwe police will be on full alert on Monday to prevent demonstrations by
opposition activists at the memorial service for Gift Tandare who was shot
and killed by police during last Sunday's opposition protest in Harare.

Tempers are running high among the Movement for Democratic Change following
the seizure of Mr Tandare's body on Saturday by men who told relatives they
were from the government's Central Intelligence Organisation and the arrests
of four senior opposition politicians at the weekend.

In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, the leader of the MDC, Morgan
Tsvangirai, said: "I think this crisis has reached tipping point and we
could see the beginning of the end of this dictatorship." Such statements
appear to intensify official intransigence. President Robert Mugabe last
week said he would arm the police to crush demonstrations.

Mr Tsvangirai's optimism is not shared by foreign observers. In South
Africa, Moeletsi Mbeki, a brother of President Thabo Mbeki and a critic of
his Zimbabwe policy of "quiet diplomacy", said the Zimbabwe opposition was
too optimistic about political change, warning that he saw little chance of
neighbouring governments toughening their stance against Mr Mugabe.

There is mounting evidence of the government's determination to smash the
opposition before its protests gain further momentum. On Saturday, the
leader of the small breakaway wing of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, was
arrested by police as he prepared to board a flight to South Africa where
his family lives. His lawyers said he has been charged with inciting public

Two other MDC activists, Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinje, who were beaten by
police during their detention last week, were also prevented from going to
South Africa for treatment. They were told they needed additional clearance
from the Health Ministry. They were taken back to hospital in Harare where
their lawyer described the police action as "an arbitrary act".

?Zimbabwe's economic collapse is likely to accelerate with inflation topping
5,000 per cent by year-end as Mr Mugabe's government loses control of a
crisis already rippling across Africa, a senior International Monetary Fund
official said yesterday. Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane, IMF Africa director, said
Zimbabwe had shown little sign of coming to grips with its economic

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Tsvangirai asks neighbours to help Zimbabwe

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Bruno Waterfield in Brussels
Last Updated: 2:36am GMT 19/03/2007

      Zimbabwe's embattled opposition leader called yesterday on southern
African leaders to intervene and help staunch the "blood letting".

      His call came as it was disclosed that a Zimbabwean delegation will be
allowed to attend a meeting in Brussels tomorrow despite an EU travel ban.

      The call by Morgan Tsvangirai comes after days of increasing violence
from President Robert Mugabe's forces, cracking down on opposition leaders
and ratcheting up the rhetoric.

      "I am frantically trying to link up with SADC (Southern African
Development Community) ambassadors to ask them to restrain a fellow member
state from the blood letting, which goes against universal conflict
resolution principles," he said from his home, where he is recovering from a
broken arm and serious head injuries sustained while in police detention.

      "The continued denial within SADC of the existence of a problem in
Zimbabwe does not assist the ordinary person in this country."

      In a rare rebuke to Mr Mugabe, the African Union said it was watching
events in Zimbabwe with "great concern".

      Yesterday, Foreign Office and EU presidency officials admitted that
Edward Chindori-Chininga, a former Zimbabwean government minister from the
ruling Zanu PF party, could be given a restricted visa to attend the meeting
of parliamentarians from European, African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

      "It is possible to grant visas to restricted persons for attendance at
international conferences, particularly if it is a meeting where there will
be discussions on human rights," said an official.

      Glenys Kinnock, who will be chairing the meeting, disagreed. "Zanu-PF
must be refused entry to Europe," said the Welsh MEP, who is calling on EU
governments to introduce "new, targeted personal sanctions against Zanu-PF
and its business associates".

      "The EU must stand up against the brutality and devastation that
Mugabe is wreaking on Zimbabwe."

      She was also angry at EU plans to invite Mr Mugabe to a Lisbon summit
with African leaders this winter. "Far too much has been invested in
ensuring that summit can take place. I think a number of member states have
been prepared to agree that Zimbabwe should not be a block to the summit
going ahead."

      Meanwhile a leading Zimbabwean opposition MP was taken to hospital
with a fractured skull last night after he was severely beaten by unknown
attackers at Harare's international airport.

      Nelson Chamisa, 28, was beaten unconscious in front of passengers as
he arrived to check-in for a flight to Brussels. He had only been discharged
from hospital three days earlier after treatment for injuries sustained when
he was arrested alongside Mr Tsvangirai at an opposition rally last week.

      Pearson Mangofa, a fellow MP who drove Mr Chamisa to Harare's airport
yesterday, said the attack was "the most shocking, shocking thing".

      "Nelson was walking from my car, when these guys attacked him, I
counted eight of them, and I saw one holding a metal bar," he said.

      The attack echoes the assault last week on Mr Tsvangirai, the leading
figure in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which has caused
international outrage.

      Alpha Oumar Konare, the chairman of the AU commission, said the
organisation "recalls the need for the scrupulous respect for human rights
and democratic principles in Zimbabwe" before calling for a "sincere and
constructive dialogue" between "all concerned parties".

      Arthur Mutambara, the president of a second faction of the MDC, was
arrested at the airport on Saturday, on his way to South Africa. He is in
detention at Harare police station.

      Two other senior opposition activists, Sekai Holland, who is in her
late 60s, and Grace Kwinjeh, both injured during last week's arrests, were
barred from flights to South Africa, where they were due to receive medical

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The Left's Abandonment of Zimbabwe

Last uploaded : Monday 19th Mar 2007 at 04:45 Contributed by : Carol Gould


18 March 2007

It has been a revelation this past week registering the reactions of people
on the political Left when the subject of Zimbabwe creeps into the

I have been following the fortunes of Morgan Tsvangarai for some time
because of my British friends' admiration for his valiant battle against the
tyranny of Robert Mugabe. These friends have family in Zimbabwe on farmland
there until suffering total destruction and even brutal murder in recent

Last week Morgan, the head of the Movement for Democratic Change, was nearly
beaten to death in what was described as a police detention after an
anti-government demonstration. His colleagues, including two prominent
female officials, were brutalised and barely left alive. According to
reports from African correspondents in London an activist was shot dead and
then the mourners at his funeral shot by police. One corpse was taken miles
away and buried by the authorities to avoid a further demonstration.

This weekend MP Nelson Chamisa was stopped at Harare airport and brutally
beaten as he was preparing to leave for a conference in Belgium. Already
badly injured from last week's police station attack, it is feared he has a
cracked skull. Arthur Mutambara, leader of one of the factions of the MDC,
was re-arrested on Saturday, and is now being held at Harare central police
station. His fate does not bear thinking about. Frail Grace Kwinje and Sekai
Holland, who also suffered beatings in the police roundup, were on their way
to South Africa to receive treatment on Saturday, Tafadzwa Mugabe, a lawyer
who accompanied them, told the BBC's World Today programme.

Ms Mugabe said all their papers were in order but just before boarding the
flight officials said the women needed a supplemental "clearance letter from
the ministry of health".

This is a sorry state of affairs. Two British friends, one of whom I had not
heard from in a year, rang me last week to thank America for intervening
before Tsvangarai was murdered. Indeed, it was the US envoy who protested
and was reported to have been instrumental in getting the wounded activists
to hospital. The American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also
intervened. President Mugabe reacted by threatening to expel any Western
envoys who interfered in the running of the country.

What this all adds up to is a remarkable sequence of reactions that have
come my way in the past few days from anti-war, anti-Israel, anti-Bush
campaigners and hangers-on. I rang a colleague who is active with Jews for
Justice for Palestinians and she very nearly deafened me with a screaming
rebuke that went something like this: ' There are plenty of people dying in
the Congo and Rwanda and nobody is making headlines about that.' I tried to
explain that Zimbabwe, once the Orchard, Bread Basket and Garden of Africa,
was now suffering 80% unemployment and 1700% inflation, not to mention the
murders of white farmers, and she could only rage more about how she 'did
not care' about Morgan Tsvangarai.

I thought I had caught this lady on a bad day. But then I saw Clare Short MP
on BBC 'Question Time' and to my utter disbelief she showed not one ounce of
sympathy for the campaigners and said that the rest of Africa was not
stepping in to help because Britain had sullied its reputation with them
when it had expressed concern for the white farmers. What twisted logic!
Nobody on the panel challenged her on this and I was stunned. Clare Short
will spend hours complaining with considerable passion about the plight of
the Palestinians, but where is her compassion for the people of Zimbabwe?

This puzzle of the heartless Left came better into focus tonight when I
watched 'Dateline London' on BBC News 24, and Abdel Bari Atwan of Al Quds
newspaper said the problems of Zimbabwe stem solely from the sanctions
imposed by Britain and America. (Oh, yes, blame evil America for the
countless murders and burning of farms across that once fertile paradise.)
Thankfully the panel demolished this idea and suggested it was the brutality
of Mugabe and the stupidity of his replacing the white farmers with cronies
who knew nothing about agriculture that had caused the famine and economic
catastrophe gripping the nation. ( Later Bari Atwan made sure to get in a
dig at the USA about using up 90% of the world's consumer goods each year.
When will these Third World pundits get a life? )

So, it seems that the Left that rails against Israel and the USA and
organises marches for the liberation of Palestine is going to do nothing
about the plight of Zimbabwe because that means siding with America. Such
twisted logic is sickening.

As of this posting the brutality of the regime is becoming the shame of
Africa. Desmond Tutu has scolded the rest of Africa for doing nothing and
sitting in silence. If the USA has to step in to save Zimbabwe from total
destruction so be it; if saving lives and putting food on tables is the
result then God Bless America, and Clare Short, Bari Atwan and the 'peace'
movement be damned.

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Govts must act on Zimbabwe: ex-diplomat

Canberra Times

      Monday, 19 March 2007

      Cathy Alexander

      The time has come for Western governments to step up sanctions against
repressive Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, according to a former
Australian high commissioner to the African country.
      The brutal nature of Mr Mugabe's regime was highlighted last week by
attacks on political opponents.

      The world's media ran images of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as
he emerged from custody with a swollen, cut face.

      Australian high commissioner to Zimbabwe in 1998-2001, Denise Fisher,
called yesterday on Western governments including Australia to take action
against Mr Mugabe's regime.

      "It is unconscionable for the international community to tacitly
accept what is going on," Mrs Fisher, who was speaking at a meeting in
Canberra, said.

      "It should not be tolerated ... some Western governments are not doing

      Mrs Fisher called on governments to withdraw large-scale aid projects
and investment from Zimbabwe. She urged stronger sanctions against the
country's leaders and those associated with the regime.

      Basic humanitarian aid should be continued and Western governments
should do more to support Zimbabwe's democratic opposition. The country's
neighbours also had a key role to play.

      Mrs Fisher said she knew Tsvangirai personally and described him as a
reluctant leader doing a "creditable job".

      "I see the way he has been treated, it's sickening," she said.

      Mr Mugabe had presided over a flourishing country after independence
in 1980, but later had begun to fear his support base was eroding, and had
resorted to increasingly desperate means to suppress dissent.

      Democracy, the judiciary and journalists had suffered as a result.

      Mrs Fisher, who met Mr Mugabe while she was high commissioner, said he
was a well-educated man who was "almost courtly" in his manner. She
dismissed reports that the recent crackdown on opponents was a sign the
83-year-old was losing his grip on power. "He's tenacious and he's very
powerful ... he's got all means at his disposal," she said. "He's not likely
to go soon."

      Mrs Fisher said Australia had previously taken the lead in condemning
Mr Mugabe, and urged the Federal Government to consider its punitive options
once more. Australia imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2002, namely visa
restrictions on government officials and a halt to non-humanitarian
assistance and defence sales. No trade or sporting sanctions were put in

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A blow that can topple Mugabe

Pretoria News

March 19, 2007 Edition 1

Did the anonymous policeman or Zanu-PF thug who nearly cracked Morgan
Tsvangirai's skull last Sunday unwittingly strike a powerful blow for
Zimbabwean freedom?

That blow reverberated around the world, provoking a chorus of condemnation
that even echoed, albeit in muted form, from the hitherto silent corridors
of power in southern Africa.

As a result of that blow and others dealt to Tsvangirai's followers, the
Southern African Development Community has been moved to call a meeting next
week to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis.

Of course, we know that the SADC has taken up the Zimbabwe issue before,
only to let it go the moment Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said "boo"
or agreed to its polite requests and then completely ignored them.

But that was then and this is now. The devastation Mugabe has wrought upon
his country has strengthened and encouraged the opposition to him, inside
and outside his party as well as abroad.

Though tough as nails for his age - he is 83 and not immortal and in the
Darwinian world of African politics - his enemies are scenting weakness and
beginning to circle.

Could this at last be the moment when the region strikes a telling blow?

In counterpoint to the cacophony of condemnation of Mugabe and of President
Thabo Mbeki for failing to condemn him last week, one brave soul chose to
defend Mbeki's quiet diplomacy. Francis Kornegay of the Centre for Policy
Studies suggested that having done all they could to bring Mugabe and
Tsvangirai together to negotiate a way out of the crisis, SA and the SADC
were right to be sitting back to let "Zimbabwe stew in its own juice".

Most would regard this lack of action as helplessness at best and perverse
solidarity at worst. But Kornegay graced it as a "phase" of "dynamic
inaction" in Pretoria's overall strategy of quiet diplomacy.

He explained: "Silence can be golden and, in the Taoist tradition of
'dynamic inaction', the best approach to certain intractable situations."
Perhaps he had in mind Chapter 2, paragraph three of the Tao te Ching of Lao
Tze, the bible of Taoism, which states: "Therefore the sage manages affairs
without doing anything, and conveys his instructions without speech."

So is the sagacious Mbeki really exerting some sort of mystical influence on
events across the Limpopo, as Kornegay suggests?

Let us suspend our disbelief, as we are supposed to do in the theatre - a
considerable engineering feat in this case - and assume he is right, that
Mbeki has somehow helped to bring events in Zimbabwe to their present pass.
A pass where Mugabe, more out of fear than courage, it seems, is striking
out at his enemies wildly but in fact striking himself.

If that were true, then now surely would be the moment for Mbeki and Co to
move on to the next phase of diplomacy and hasten and smooth Mugabe's

Now would be the time for the SADC leaders to tell Mugabe some home truths.
Like, "time's up, Mr President; go now and you go with dignity; stay and we
will be unable any longer to support and defend you, diplomatically or

Mugabe's plans to change the constitution to allow him to extend his present
term from next year until 2010, appear to have run into strong resistance
within his own party.

In stubborn fashion, he has now threatened, that being so, to stand again in
2008. That would keep him in State House until 2013, a 33-year tenure which
he would end at age 88.

That is open defiance of the whole world, but it smacks of desperation.
Mugabe's enemies are now within the camp. If all of them join forces, they
can bring him down.

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EU says 'outraged' over new Zimbabwe beatings

Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 23:23

BRUSSELS (EUX.TV) -- The European Union's presidency said on Sunday that it
was "outraged" and "deeply concerned" over the arrest and beating of
yet-another member of the opposition in Zimbabwe.

Nelson Chamisa, a member of the parliament in Zimbabwe for the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party, was on his way to Brussels to attend a
meeting of parliamentarians from developing nations and EU countries.

While travelling, Chamisa was arrested and treated brutally, leaving him in
critical condition in a Harare hospital under policy guard, a statement
issued late Sunday by the German EU Presidency said.

South African broadcaster SABC reported that Chamisa probably lost an eye in
the beating by officials. He is also believed to have suffered a cracked
skull after he was attacked with iron bars.

Also this weekend, MDC members Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh, who were
detained temporarily and mistreated by the police last week, were arrested
again on Satuday withhout being charged and prevented from travelling to
South Africa for medical treatment, the EU said. The opposition MP Arthur
Mutambara was also arrested once more.

The EU presidency said it welcomed the statements issued by John Kufuor,
President of the African Union, and Bishop Tutu, who both protested against
these incidents.

"The Presidency condemns these actions by the security forces in the
strongest possible terms and calls on the Zimbabwean Government to release
all detained opposition politicians immediately, to enable them to have
access to legal assistance and medical care, and to allow representatives of
the EU Presidency to visit the detainees," the EU statement said.

The EU also appealed to the Robert Mugabe dictatorship to respect the rule
of law and human rights and to refrain from doing anything which might lead
to a further escalation of the situation in Zimbabwe.

-- From the EUX.TV newsroom

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Zimbabwean police threaten lawyer: NGO


March 18, 2007, 22:00

Zimbabwean police have allegedly threatened a lawyer from Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights with "disappearance" after he handed them a court order,
said a Johannesburg-based non-governmental organisation.

Andrew Makoni attempted to serve police from Zimbabwe's Law and Order Unit a
court order indicting them from further interference with the body of Gift
Tandare, a young activist shot and killed by police in last weekend's
crackdown, wrote the Open Society for Southern Africa Initiative's Isabella
Matambanadzo in a statement.

However the commanding officer allegedly tore up the court order and
threatened him and his colleagues with "disappearance" should they continue
to act for victims of the crackdown.

Makoni threatened with arrest
Makoni had been forced to undergo an extensive search on entry to the
department, was allegedly told he was carrying "arms of war" and that
lawyers were facilitating what police alleged to be violence perpetrated by
the opposition.

The commanding officer then allegedly ordered the officers in attendance to
arrest Makoni if he was again seen on the premises before he was ordered to
get out, said Matambanadzo.

Nicole Fritz, the director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, said:
"The actions of Zimbabwe's Law and Order Unit have to be condemned in the
strongest terms.

"Even the most repressive societies generally respect the role of lawyers
and understand that if some semblance of the rule of law is to be
maintained, you cannot go about threatening the physical security and
well-being of legal representatives," said Fritz.

Cosatu speaks out
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) condemned the recent wave of
violence by the Zimbabwean state forces. This included reports that police
stole Tandare's body and buried it near his rural home in Mount Darwin,
wrote Patrick Craven, the Cosatu spokesperson, in a statement.

They then allegedly forced his father to go to the grave at gunpoint. The
Movement for Democratic Change's lawyers said the government had no legal
basis to demand his corpse and filed a high court application to compel the
government to return it.

"If true, these reports confirm Cosatu's view that the government is
systematically and ruthlessly crushing all democratic rights," said Craven.

The union federation has demanded the immediate release of all those
arrested and insisted that the police return Tandare's body to his family
for his funeral, scheduled for tomorrow. - Sapa

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The world must say 'No' to Mugabe terror

East African Standard



The recent attack on Zimbabwe's opposition leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and
his colleagues was a clear indication that President Robert Mugabe's
government has little left to offer.

During the attacks, Tsvangirai sustained a deep cut in the head and lost a
lot of blood after police broke up a rally civil society and religious
groups had organised.

His colleagues also bore the brunt of the police brutality and were injured.
The treatment meted out on the opposition is reminiscent of the apartheid
system in South Africa before 1994. By banning opposition rallies, Mugabe
has deprived it of the right to assemble and freedom of expression.

The media have not been spared either. Several journalists have been
arrested for allegedly writing negative stories about the government.

The 83-year-old President has been in power since independence in 1980,
making him one of the longest serving Heads of State in the world. He is
also seeking another term in office when the current one ends in 2008!

Mugabe should know that history will judge him harshly just like other
dictators, including former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. And the
suffering in Zimbabwe demands that Mugabe concentrate his energy in
resuscitating the ailing economy.

Majority of the population live in abject poverty and the gap between the
rich and poor is wide and widening. The neighbouring countries, the African
Union and the United Nations must condemn Mugabe's actions.

Zablon Matara,

Moi University

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Return to Zimbabwe

Independent, UK

The shock of returning to a parched, hungry Zimbabwe
Published: 19 March 2007

Sir: I was called upon to travel to Zimbabwe last week at short notice due
to a family illness. I had not visited the country since 1999 and despite
regular reports from people living there was totally unprepared for what I

Driving from the airport I looked out along the side of the main road for
the familiar fields of maize and cattle. Both have been replaced by dry
savanna. My driver explained that the farms had "all gone". In the past
crops had been grown all the year round as a result of irrigation. Nowadays
the only maize that is grown depends on the rain and Zimbabwe is
experiencing yet another year of severe drought. Maize is the staple diet of
most Zimbabweans, without it people rely on food aid.

During the six days that I stayed in the country the water was cut off every
day from midday until about 5pm. We experienced long stretches without
electricity. People all over the country have resorted to alternative means
of fuel for cooking and heating, mainly wood burning. This then was the fate
of the trees and the reason (my driver says) that the rains no longer come
to Zimbabwe. Sure enough, the familiar black heavy rain clouds that arrive
early in the afternoon during the rainy season still appeared but apart from
a few drops the rain refuses to fall.

My driver is a resourceful hard working man. He has a wife and five children
to support, one of whom is sick from Aids and has her own baby to feed. My
driver works long hours and supplements his income by making brooms for
sale. Even so at the end of each month his total income is not enough to buy
one bar of imported soap. The only Zimbabweans who are living above the
subsistence line are those with access to foreign currency. During my
six-day stay the value of my pound sterling on the black market rose from
Z$17,000 to Z$26,000. I was rich. How can the economy sustain such rampant



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Mugabe's Zimbabwe

The Bahama Journal

19th March

During my lifetime, names of states on the continent of Africa have changed.
Today names like the Gold Coast, now Ghana seems to be a part of a distant
past. Ghana celebrates 50 years as Ghana . As states gained their
independence, the name change was inevitable.
For those of you who do not know there was a colony called Rhodesia . In my
early geography classes, there were North and South Rhodesia which on
independence became Zambia and Zimbabwe .

An interesting aspect of the Rhodesia story was that the name Rhodesia was
derived from the British diamond king and political figure, Cecil Rhodes.
Rhodes came into prominence during the White Settler era in Southern Africa;
he was able to amass a vast fortune from his diamond empire. Southern Africa
was a territory, which was fought after, by the British and the Dutch so it
was quite an achievement for Rhodes to claim such a vast territory, which he
named after himself, for Britain. This was Africa at the end of the 19th.
Century. It would take a half-century before Africa would attain definitive
political change. This occurred when the Gold Coast, under Kwame Nkrumah,
gained its independence from Britain.

The skeptics would argue that Africa's independence era has been a disaster
politically and economically. Some states have experienced incidences of
ethnic squabbling, degenerating to genocide. Sub-Sahara is possibly the
poorest region on the globe; it is certainly the region where HIV/AIDS has
had its greatest effect as millions have died as a result of the spread of
the AIDS virus.

One of my friends continuously accuse me of making excuses for the ineptness
of African political leaders resulting in a poor governance record virtually
through out Africa. My affinity to Africa stems from the fact that my family
has always maintained connectivity with Africa because we have always known
that Africa was our ancestral home and we cherished our Yoruba roots.

  March 25th. will mark two hundred years since people of my genre would
have been in the New World as Liberated Africans. This is a story for
another day. However, in viewing Africa today, the world is appalled by the
recent events in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe under President Mugabe has evolved into an economic basket case as
its vital economic indicators have plummeted since the achievement of its

When Zimbabwe was Rhodesia, it was the bread basket of Southern Africa; it
had a burgeoning agricultural sector. Today, Zimbabwe cannot feed itself and
its citizens are facing starvation. Mugabe has become a tyrant and, at the
age of 83 years, he refuses to surrender political power to a newer and
younger generation hence the actions by the Opposition.

This past weekend, an Opposition leader and many of his followers were badly
beaten. The governance in this country has been badly undermined and the
international community is calling for economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.
This will mean more suffering for the people of Zimbabwe; a people who have
been oppressed by the Mugabe government.

Zimbabwe's neighbour, South Africa, has spoken out against the recent
actions of  the government. Some people in The Bahamas are asking: why hasn't
the government of The Bahamas spoken oppressed against Zimbabwe? When the
people of Rhodesia, and now Zimbabwe, was being subjugated by the Ian Smth's
White Regime, CARICOM Leaders were up in arms calling for sanctions against
Rhodesia. The sanctions came, the Smith Regime fell and elections were
called. In the recent incident, the voices of CARICOM leaders have been
silent. The Commonwealth countries should also be initiating action against
Mugabe and his cronies.

  CARICOM has to speak out against Mugabe's atrocities in Zimbabwe.

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Letter to Constituents and Friends - 19 March 2007

Monday 19 March, 2007
Dear Constituents and Friends
This past week has been traumatic for the entire country, and many are still in shock, frightened or angry.  I share your emotional turmoil, but I want us all to try to get a grip on ourselves and prepare carefully for the coming weeks - because the turmoil is likely to continue, until the people - ie the majority, who are suffering and now traumatised - regain control of their lives during the transition to a new, democratically elected government.
This transition is now clearly visible, on the horizon.  The regime has cracked, and will never again have a stranglehold on power in this country.  It will never again be accepted by either SADC or the African Union as a democratic nation among equals.  It will never again be able to grandstand at the United Nations, using racism as its populist tool to divert attention from its evil deeds.  Its evil deeds are clearly visible to all, and no one is taken in by the rhetoric, any more, apart from a few apologists sadly lacking the intelligence of the majority.
Let us all mourn with the family of Gift Tandare, the NCA-MDC activist shot and killed last Sunday in the midst of the mayhem in Highfield, and let us all sympathise and stand in solidarity with all the 50+ activists arrested in Harare, many badly tortured in police custody, last week. Let us not be stupid enough to fall into the ZanuPF-CIO trap of believing that some were not tortured because they are really ZanuPF or CIO - surely we all know the classic Zanu tactic of divide and destroy, by now?!!  "The biggest scar is the scar Mugabe has inflicted on the nation to oppress us, and that is the scar that must unite us," as Arthur Mutambara said on Friday, at the Save Zimbabwe press conference.  Let us also stand in solidarity with the other hundreds of activists and innocent members of the general public who have been harassed, beaten, arrested and incarcerated in the last week or so all around the country. 
Let us also send our sympathy to the injured policemen and policewomen who were attacked - for we abhor violence, and declare that we will not respond to violence with violence, because that is the one sure way to ensure that chaos reigns, and that many will suffer and die.  We do not want chaos and anarchy.  We want peace - but real peace, not a false peace imposed by "security forces".  We want peace where people are free to move about unhindered, free to assemble to pray or even to speak out their minds without hindrance, free to nurture their families as they wish, and free eventually to vote for the government they want to represent them.
So let us keep our eyes on the prize - a free, democratic Zimbabwe.  To move towards this we need to be disciplined as citizens, and to act strategically.  First of all we need to work in solidarity with others of like mind - and one thing I have learned this week is that practically everyone is of like mind, now!  People are speaking openly in the streets, in supermarkets, on buses, on the phone - condemning this regime and calling for change.  So let us open our arms and our hearts and greet our neighbours and our fellow citizens, and share the next few weeks gladly and in solidarity, certain that a better Zimbabwe is on the way, and that we can help it to become a reality.
Secondly, let us try to prevent the escalation of violence whenever we can, by not succumbing to either their divide-and-destroy tactics or to the desire for revenge.  The unity of purpose displayed by the two MDC formations and civil society under the umbrella of the churches last Sunday in trying to attend the same prayer meeting, subsequent arrest and torture and the Save Zimbabwe press conference on Friday is what has given all Zimbabweans renewed hope that we can indeed defeat the oppressor.  We do not need violence - we need to act together as one Zimbabwean people to bring in a new, people-driven constitution to protect us, the people, against the excesses of any and all future governments - MDC, ZanuPF, and others not yet thought of  -  and which will allow us to elect the government of our choice peacefully in order to reverse the destruction of our beloved Zimbabwe.
So, friends, we stand together, strengthening each other and strengthened by God and the knowledge that we are doing the right thing for ourselves and for future generations of Zimbabweans.  We are fighting for a free and prosperous Zimbabwe, and it is right there, on the horizon!
Trudy Stevenson, MP

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Burial societies unite a shattered country

Independent, UK

By Daniel Howden, Deputy Foreign Editor
Published: 19 March 2007

In a divided country where political and racial differences have been
exploited by a regime intent on staying in power, there is one thing that
almost all Zimbabweans have in common: the burial society.

A kind of morbid Christmas club, these savings associations bring people
together to meet the costs of burying their sons, daughters, sisters and
brothers at a rate that is accelerating beyond comprehension.

A decent burial and a patient, ceremonial funeral - sometimes lasting for
days - are integral parts of society in Zimbabwe and other African
countries. Grieving relatives are obliged to meet the entertainment costs of
the extended family, often running to hundreds of people for the duration of
mourning. Failure to join a burial society means a pauper's funeral and the
stigma that accompanies that.

On a typical Sunday morning, people in their best clothes will gather in the
shade of a jacaranda tree, or in a vacant beer hall. They will bring their
monthly subscriptions - no one wants to tempt fate by getting behind on
payments - redeemable only when there is a bereavement in the family. But
the economic unravelling of the country means meeting the costs of a
dignified end has become impossible for most individuals and even most
burial societies.

Zimbabwe now has the lowest life expectancy in the world: 37 for men and 34
for women. But these figures are based on data collected two years ago and
researchers at the World Health Organisation admit the real figure could be
as low as 30 by now. Zimbabwe has found itself at the nexus of an Aids
pandemic, a food crisis and an economic meltdown that is killing an
estimated 3,500 people every week.

Shenghi, a 26-year-old from the slums of Bulawayo, is typical: she has been
forced to join two societies. What used to be a biannual event has now
become a deluge, with death stalking every family. "In the past three
months, we've had to bury 14 of the 50 people in our society," she says. She
herself has lost four relatives in the past six months.

These societies are evolving into platforms for protest. The draconian laws
drafted by Robert Mugabe's regime to eliminate all public space for dissent
means that, for many Zimbabweans, the burial societies and related church
groups are the only public gathering they can attend.

Hundreds draw together for the night vigil and the day of the funeral, and
the police dare not break up such gatherings. People afraid to speak out
elsewhere can voice their anger and despair freely. Pamphlets detailing
alleged abuses by Mr Mugabe are often distributed and people share
information in a society where newspapers and television outlets are under
total government control.

This is why the regime has stolen the body of a murdered activist, Gift
Tandare, to prevent a mass gathering for his funeral.

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Downer to talk to cricket board about Zimbabwe tour

ABC Australia

Monday, March 19, 2007. 3:14pm AEDT

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, says he will talk to the
Australian Cricket Board about whether a tour should go ahead in Zimbabwe.

The United Nations is looking into recent violence in Zimbabwe in which
police stopped Opposition members from leaving the country after they were
beaten in custody last week.

Mr Downer says he is deeply disturbed by the events and will raise the issue
with cricket officials about an Australian tour scheduled in Zimbabwe for

"I've not been a great fan of cricket tours to Zimbabwe and the final
decision [rests] with the Australian Cricket Board and the International
Cricket Council - a lot of issues tied up there with contractual issues and
so on," he said.

"But once the World Cup is over, we'll talk to the Australian Cricket Board
about this but we won't be doing that while they're focusing on the World

Four members of Zimbabwe's Opposition have been stopped from leaving the

One was attacked by police at the airport.

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