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Mugabe bows to war vets' pension demands

Zim Online

Tuesday 20 March 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - President Robert Mugabe last week bowed to demands by former
liberation war fighters for more money and awarded the war veterans a
massive hike on their monthly pensions.

In a memo to provincial chapters of the war veterans last week, Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister said pensions for the former
fighters had been increased from Z$103 000 to Z$500 000 a month.

"Following your request, the government has with immediate effect increased
your pensions from $103 000 to $500 000 per month.

"This has been done in view of the hyper-inflationary environment in the
country. Your allowances will be reviewed after every three months," read
part of the memo.

The latest increment means that the former fighters, a key cog in the ruling
ZANU PF party election machinery, now earn slightly above school teachers as
their pensions are tax-free.

This is the second time that the Zimbabwean government has succumbed to
pressure from the war veterans for more money.

In November 1997, Mugabe bowed to similar pressure from the former fighters
and paid off Z$50 000 each to the war veterans triggering the crash of the
Zimbabwe dollar on the stock exchange.

The dollar is still to recover from that crash.

Last month, the powerful war veterans gave the Social Welfare Minister a
14-day ultimatum to increase their pensions or they would confront Mugabe
over the matter.

Isaiah Muzenda, the Masvingo provincial war veterans association chairman
told ZimOnline that they were happy with the latest hike on their pensions.

"We are happy that the government has looked into our demands. We will
continue to support the ruling party because it respects the role that we
played during the war (of liberation)," said Muzenda. - ZimOnline

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Seven MDC supporters released without charge

Zim Online

Tuesday 20 March 2007

By Menzi Sibanda

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean police on Monday released without charge seven
opposition supporters who were arrested last week following violent protests
that rocked the second city of Bulawayo last Thursday.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists were arrested last Friday
following violent protests in the city during which they barricaded the main
railway line with boulders and burning tyres.

Sources within the police told ZimOnline yesterday that the MDC supporters
were cautioned and later released without any charges being preferred
against them.

"They were just cautioned and released. It looks like there was no much
evidence linking them to the crime. But we have taken down their details and
told them that we are keeping an eye on them," said one junior police

Political temperatures have been rising sharply in Zimbabwe following last
week's brutal torture of Morgan Tsvangirai and several other opposition
officials by suspected state security agents.

Police officers have been dispersing small crowds in Bulawayo and other
urban areas where tempers are said to be high because of the torture of the
MDC leaders and deepening poverty in the country.

There are fears that President Robert Mugabe might soon declare a state of
emergency to deal with the current political unrest.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena defended the police heavy handedness in
dealing with the opposition protests.

"There are terrorists all over who are bent on unleashing lawlessness to the
extent of assaulting police officers. We are there to guard against such
lawlessness," said Bvudzijena. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe threat to kick out diplomats for helping victims of state brutality

The Times
March 20, 2007

Jan Raath in Harare
President Mugabe threatened to expel Western diplomats yesterday as his
security forces pressed on with a violent crackdown to suppress a feared
popular uprising.

Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, the Foreign Minister, said that Zimbabwe was
prepared to invoke the Geneva Convention to kick out envoys who, it claimed,
offered support to Mr Mugabe's political opponents.

"We can use that," he said of the convention, according to ambassadors
present. It was the first time in Zimbabwe's fractious relations with the
West that it has issued such a threat, diplomats said.

Mr Mumbengegwi accused the envoys of "overstretching their competence" by
allegedly siding with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The Zimbabwean Government has accused Western diplomats of organising food
and water for victims of last Sunday's assault by police of 30 opposition
activists, including Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the larger faction of the

The ambassadors summoned yesterday, from Western Europe, the US, Japan and
Australia, were not allowed to address those claims or raise the long
catalogue of violent abuse by the Government since the crisis began on March
25. Christopher Dell, the US Ambassador, walked out after Mr Mumbengegwi
refused to take questions.

In Washington the US said that it would hold Mr Mugabe personally
responsible for beatings sustained by members of the Opposition. "The United
States condemns the Government of Zimbabwe's continued attacks on the
political Opposition, including additional arrests, beatings and refusal to
allow travel for necessary medical treatment," said Sean McCormack, a State
Department spokesman. "We hold President Mugabe personally responsible for
these actions."

Germany, which holds the EU presidency, expressed outrage at the recent

Mr Mumbengegwi denounced Zimbabwe's Western critics as as "self-appointed
guardians of democracy" and said that the Government's "tolerance was
stretched to the limit". "We will not hesitate to use all the conventions."

Tension built in Harare's townships yesterday, with doctors reporting a
constant stream of people with severe injuries inflicted by police during
the illegal curfew imposed over the city's poor areas. In Highfield, south
of the city, Israeli-made water cannon trucks patrolled the streets.

Among the injured was an MDC activist with a gunshot wound. "They came to
his house in Glen Norah [one of the most volatile townships] on Sunday
morning and warned him," said a member of the hospital's staff. "In the
evening they came again and shot him in the leg."

There were signs that residents are striking back. According to a report
from Porta Farm, a squatter camp on the western outskirts, two agents of Mr
Mugabe's Central Intelligence Organisation were attacked and injured. The
CIO are regarded as the main strategists of the crackdown.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Mr Tsvangirai's faction, was in the private
Avenues Clinic for the second time in a week, and a fracture to the skull
around one of his eye sockets was diagnosed. He was assaulted on Sunday by a
group of unknown assailants in plain clothes who stamped his head into the
tarmac in the car park of Harare airport. He was about to fly to Brussels
for a meeting with European parliamentarians.

A week ago Mr Chamisa was beaten on the head until he was unconscious when
he was among the 30 activists attacked by officers in a police station in
Highfield township. "They went for his head again yesterday [Sunday]," said
another hospital official.

Late yesterday the high court issued an order for the release of Arthur
Mutambara, the leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, from police custody
after his arrest at the airport on Saturday. He was going to South Africa to
see his family. Police had been holding him on charges of "incitement to
violence." On Friday he said that the crisis was "open rebellion, war".

Yesterday the state-run daily The Herald tried to explain another of the
incidents that has shocked the Opposition. It said that the illegal seizure
by CIO agents of the body of Gift Tandare, the young MDC activist shot dead
by police on March 25, was a "state-assisted burial". The paper claimed that
relatives of Mr Tandare had been present at the burial in distant Mount
Darwin where he was born, and had "thanked the Government" for its
"assistance." Alec Muchadehama, the lawyer for the Tandare family, said that
he went to the funeral parlour to arrange for the collection of the body
only to find that it had been taken away by CIO agents. Mrs Mudariki, Mr
Tandare's wife whose name was on the burial order, knew nothing of the
change, he said.

Cracking down

Morgan Tsvangirai Leader of Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

Arrested at anti-Government rally on March 11 Beaten by police with iron
bars, leaving him hospitalised in intensive care

Arthur Mutambara Leader of MDC faction

Arrested at March 11 rally, rearrested at Harare airport last Saturday on
charges of inciting violence, as he tried to travel to South Africa.
Released yesterday

Nelson Chamisa MDC spokesperson

Picked up en route to the airport last Saturday - from where he was due to
fly to Brussels Remains in hospital under police guard, suffering from
ruptured kidneys after a severe beating

Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinje MDC activists

Arrested and beaten at March 11 rally, rearrested at Harare airport last
Saturday, where they were prevented from boarding an aircraft to receive
medical care in South Africa Dozens more activists were arrested and beaten
at the rally on March 11

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African Press Condemns Zimbabwe

Public Agenda (Accra)

March 19, 2007
Posted to the web March 19, 2007


African papers condemn President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe government
over the beating of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, hoping this might
signal the beginning of the end for the government.

The papers call for this to be brought about by African leaders, the
Zimbabwean people or a combination of both. However, a Zimbabwe daily hits
out at the "mayhem" caused by the opposition and those denouncing the

Tajudeen Rahman in Uganda's pro-government New Vision

You do not have to be a sympathiser of the MDC to condemn the callousness of
the Zimbabwean police and other security thugs... Is the duty of the
security forces to administer punishments to suspects? Supposing they are
acquitted by the courts, what penalties would the police thugs pay for their

Uganda's Independent Daily Monitor

It should be apparent that Mr Mugabe has outlived his welcome. His obsession
with holding onto power at whatever cost must be rejected by all civilized
peoples... While this tragedy is played out, many African governments have
looked the other way... But the brutal attack on opposition activists... is
a step too far. The former liberator and defender of human rights is an
unwanted blot on Africa's road map to responsible government. African
leaders... and others must tell Mugabe that his country and down-trodden
people deserve better.

South Africa's Independent Business Day

Dare we allow ourselves to hope for real change in Zimbabwe's political
arena... Some observers might be tempted to conclude that such a display of
violence... is a clear sign of the beginning of the end for Robert Mugabe's
regime. Perhaps... But others will point out that, while this scenario might
apply in eastern Europe, parts of Asia and Latin America, civilians don't do
much overthrowing in Africa... Whether what remains of civil society is
strong enough for this to apply in Zimbabwe remains to be seen.

Botswana's Independent Mmegi

The events of the past few days in neighbouring Zimbabwe could be signs of a
diabolical regime that is finally about to drown in the cesspool of lies it
has been spewing for so long. Ironically, all governments that make up the
scarecrow that is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have
been at pains to try to convince their citizens and the outside world that
the Robert Mugabe regime is a sane one... Yet for the SADC leaders this is
not crisis enough to warrant their attention. We call upon our regional
leaders to wake up from their deep slumber and assist the people of

South Africa's Independent Daily News

There is a distinct reluctance to do anything concrete about the aging
megalomaniac who has systematically destroyed what was once the breadbasket
of Africa... The only person who can make a difference to the miserable
lives of Zimbabwe's people, President Thabo Mbeki, remains disturbingly
silent on the debacle that is destroying this country's neighbour... A clear
message must be sent to Mugabe that he will be held accountable for his
actions against the opposition leader and his supporters.

Caesar Zvayi In Zimbabwe's Government Herald

Some Western nations, and the office of the UN secretary-general were
regrettably quick to issue statements condemning the arrest of opposition
MDC and NCA leaders and activists... completely ignoring the mayhem they
caused... Reports by Western agencies... were surprisingly deafeningly
silent on the mayhem unleashed by the opposition. The opposition activists
have openly declared war on the police in line with their so-called
'defiance campaign'... So ruthless and systematic have been the campaigns of
violence that no nation worth its salt would sit by and let such incipient
terrorism take root... Those denouncing the arrest of the perpetrators do
not mention the violence by opposition activists.BBC Monitoring selects and
translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the
internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in
Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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Zimbabwe - Purge of the opposition begins

Mens News Daily

March 19, 2007

By Zvakwana

Mugabe started the week by summoning foreign diplomats, accusing them of funding the opposition and demanding that they behave, or they would be kicked out of the country.
Underneath his bravado, Mugabe looks visibly scared. He appears to be under pressure from his own party to leave politics because he is now seen by party stalwarts as well past his sell-by date. He is now seen as an embarrassment to Africa, despite their silence.

Over last weekend, a more sinister operation is underway to crush the opposition. It seems all senior MDC people have become fair game. First it was the thorough beating of Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokeman, who now remains in intensive care with a cracked skull, after “anonymous agents” attacked him on his way the airport. But there is more. Mugabe is targetting anyone in the MDC.

Here is a brief report just in from the ground:

The night before last a dark blue twin cab arrived at the home of Martin Marikeba, District organising official for MDC Glen Norah, a high density suburb of Harare.

The occupants asked the maid where Mr. Marikeba was - she said he’d only be back after work.

When he arrived home in the late afternoon he was shot in the legs with a shot gun from the twin cab, which then drove off at speed. He is in Hospital recovering from the gun shot wounds.”

The intention of the regime is to immobilise, physically and/or psychologically all those involved in the organisation of the Movement for Democratic Change. And this is done brutally and with absolute impunity. It is understood that the instructions are coming from Mugabe himself.

Zanu PF’s purge of the opposition leadership has begun their intention is to silence all those involved in the brave fight for peaceful and democratic change.

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African Union Tacitly Criticizes Harare On Human Rights, Democracy


      By Patience Rusere and Carole Gombakomba
      19 March 2007

The African Union's top administrative official Monday issued what observers
said was the continental body's first reprimand - albeit tacit - of Harare
over its alleged human rights transgressions, but some faulted the AU for
the mild tone of its statement.

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwean delegation to talks among African, Caribbean and
Pacific ministers and their European Union counterparts seemed likely to
receive a cold welcome on Tuesday when discussions open in Brussels, a top
ACP-EU official said.

Glennys Kinnock, co-president of the EU-ACP joint parliamentary assembly,
declared herself outraged that Zimbabwe officials would be admitted to the
assembly given mounting violence against opposition officials and members in
the country.

Four ZANU-PF officials were headed for Brussels on Monday: Chitungwiza
Senator Forbes Magadu, Guruve MP Edward Chindori-Chininga, Masvingo South MP
Walter Mzembi and Gutu parliamentarian Enita Maziriri.

Kinnock told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
certain action will be taken at the ACP-EU meeting to send the message that
the international community finds the violent crackdown on Zimbabwe's
opposition unacceptable.

Meanwhile,the African Union was urging all parties in Zimbabwe to open a
dialogue to end the crisis. African Union Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar
Konare, the former president of Mali, issued a statement that stressed the
need to respect human rights and democratic principles - tacitly criticizing
the Zimbabwean government.

Critics say they are encouraged by this first formal criticism of Harare
from the African Union since the sharp government-opposition confrontation
started a week ago. But they expressed disappointment at the muted, broad
nature of Konare's remarks.

Communications Officer Assane Ba of the African Union's peace and security
department told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that Konare's nuanced language was in line with African Union protocol.

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Ignoring Zimbabwe's killing fields


WND Exclusive Commentary
Posted: March 19, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

His face and head were beaten with iron rods and other weapons almost to non-recognition. He couldn't see or feed himself. He suffered a brain injury, possible skull fracture, broken arm and internal bleeding after being beaten on the head, arms, back and knees to unconsciousness. It's a wonder he was alive, much less be able to walk two days later. Zimbabwe's riot police did their violence on Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of that country's opposition party, the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC).

They did their best, beating him almost to a pulp after arresting him and others and hauling them off to jail.

I found it curious that American newspapers actually printed pictures of Tsvangirai after the beating especially since they've done such a good job over the last years of ignoring the repressive regime in Zimbabwe and how its destroying the country and killing millions.

It's too bad this current coverage didn't focus on the real reason for the violence and why the MDC is waging a constant fight against the horror of what that once stable, productive, prosperous and safe country has become.

Tsvangirai wasn't the only victim of that police attack. His aides, several party members and civic leaders were also arrested and severely beaten. One man was shot and killed.

Other than being part of the opposition, they hadn't ‘done' anything. The group was on its way to a police station to inquire about other party members who had been arrested and hauled off.

Tsvangirai and the others were then planning to drive to an area where a rally was planned against the despotic government of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe. Church and civic groups calling themselves the ''Save Zimbabwe Campaign'' organized the event, which was in fact, a prayer meeting.

The activists wanted to express opposition to government policies, which have left millions of people homeless, jobless, starving, sick and poverty stricken. That doesn't include the millions of others who are dead and those who have escaped the country.

Tsvangirai and his group never got to the rally but it did take place even as the police round up continued with tear gas, water cannon and gunfire. More than 50 activists were reported arrested and severely beaten.

Police removed the injured from the hospital and ordered everyone to appear in court. According to the lawyer for the group, Beatrice Mtetwa, there were no prosecutors or magistrates there, only police. She told the Associated Press that indicates just one thing, ''It says that we are in a police state.''

In the land of Mugabe, an ostensible democracy, opposition is neither wise nor healthy. He controls everything – the government, the army, the police, the courts, the media, businesses, schools, food supplies, medical care and whatever else is left. If someone doesn't like what Mugabe does, they're in deep trouble.

Morgan Tsvangirai has been in deep trouble for a very long time in his country. That he has survived the forces against him is certainly a tribute to his raw courage and dedication to his goal of saving his country and his countrymen from total destruction – and they're as close to that now, as they ever have been.

I also suspect though, that there's a little corner of caution in Robert Mugabe's brain telling him, that if something fatal happened to the opposition leader, it might well unleash the forces of his own downfall. If that happened, whether accomplished by the MDC or dissidents in his own party, it wouldn't be a pretty sight – for the country and certainly not for Mugabe.

He has no plans for that, having stated that he's president for life and aims to live to 100. He's 83 now and is Zimbabwe's only president since the country gained independence from British colonial rule in 1980, when the country was known as Rhodesia.

To assist his continued presidential aims, Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has moved the scheduled 2008 election to 2010, effectively extending his term of office without a vote.

This planned continuation of the status quo is ominous for the people of that country, blacks and whites. Given the current chaos, there are many of both groups who look back on British colonial rule and long for a return. But that is not to be.

In the years leading to independence, the Marxist Mugabe was touted by the West as being the right man for the job. He was feted and dined, boosting his ego and he even was knighted. Think of it: Sir Robert! It was thought he would be ''president'' but he had other titles in mind: emperor, king, ultimate ruler, supreme authority – all of that. Some would say dictator or despot.

That side of the picture wasn't seen then, although it should have been because his political training and background was not one of freedom and equality for the people even though he talked a good line. Western nations bought the sham and were snookered.

The ostensible goal was to return Rhodesia to African rule and they would succeed on their own. The legacy of the Brits was ideal. Blessed with natural resources and fertile land, Rhodesia was the breadbasket of Africa, producing enough food to feed its own people as well as have a thriving export business. There were excellent schools, libraries, and medical facilities. The judicial system worked, as did the civic operation of the towns and cities. The infrastructure was excellent with airports, roads and bridges in top condition. The people had education, jobs, income, health, homes and a future.

It's all gone. The roads and airports are in ruinous condition. Fuel is barely available. The communication system has been all but destroyed. The media, what's left of it, is controlled by the government, as are the courts, the police and the army. Millions of people have lost their homes, their businesses taken from them and their schools and medical facilities shut down. Failing water treatment plants result in disease, as do inoperative sanitation systems. Cholera has broken out in the capital, Harare.

There's little or no electricity or gas. Blackouts are common and some towns get power only a few days a week. What shops are left, have virtually nothing to sell but that hardly matters, since no one has money and those who do, find it worthless. Inflation is running at nearly 2,000 percent and rising. A teacher's salary is said to be enough to buy a sheet of toilet paper – but I'm told, there is no toilet paper. Unemployment runs at 80 percent. The black market thrives but that doesn't help poor people.

The situation is beyond desperate.

As for food – Mugabe effectively has managed not only the destruction of Zimbabwe's agriculture but also the murder of thousands of whites who operated the farms and the blacks who worked there.

He said it was the fair ''redistribution'' of land -– taking from the whites and giving to the blacks. It wasn't ''taking'' – that sounds so benign.

It was a violent, military invasion of farms by soldiers and police, who attacked and viciously murdered the farmers, raped and killed their wives and children, killed the blacks who worked for them, stole everything they owned, demolished equipment, ruined irrigation systems, wantonly killed farm and domestic animals and obliterated existing crops, making the fields unfit for planting.

The effect was catastrophic. Almost overnight, the agriculture industry was gone. But so was the country's food supply. Mugabe gave the best farms to his favorite hacks and to foreign favorites – influential people from Libya and China, among others. The rest was ''given'' to poor blacks. But they didn't know how to farm and so the land went fallow. The people starved. And still do.

In the midst of this horror, in February, The Independent reported Mugabe spent $1.2 million dollars on his birthday party.

When Mugabe tired of seeing the shacks in the slums, he had them bulldozed, sometimes with people still in them. He called the operation ''Cleaning out the Trash.'' He forced more than 800,000 people into the bush to live virtually on their own.

Now, Mugabe is moving in on the mining industry – diamonds and gold. More than 20,000 miners have been arrested by militarily-armed police, who left them shackled in the open, exposed to the elements or in filthy jail calls.

The government says they're illegal operations although the miners say they're legally registered. Last year, Mugabe said he would take 51 percent of all mines without compensation and wished people who didn't like that, ''good luck.''

As for the newly discovered diamond seams, it's chaos. Not only is there a rush to get in on the find, but smuggling is rampant. A top Mugabe official was arrested at the airport with a Lebanese woman, allegedly found with 10,700 carats of diamonds. He's also accused of trying to bribe airport security. They're not alone; other officials and foreign nationals are involved. According to the AP, the diamonds are smuggled to South Africa.

Diamonds aren't the only things from Zimbabwe moving into South Africa. People are eager to get out of their own country before they die or are killed.

This mass migration of 2 to 3 million into South Africa is causing social and crime problems in that country, whose president Thabo Mbeki certainly must share the blame for the ruination of Zimbabwe because he's consistently refused to publicly criticize or admonish Mugabe.

Mbeki has only minimized the situation, saying that anyone complaining about it does so because, as he said, ''12 white people died.''

No. Thousands of whites were killed but millions of blacks are dead too. It's not race. The issue is power and control.

What now? There's a lot of tch-tch'ing going on, but not much more. The Australian government shows guts. As reported by ABC Online, it's reviewing contingency plans for the possibility of a mass evacuation of Australians living in Zimbabwe.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer registered a formal concern with the Mugabe regime but said he didn't think the political violence would stop without a push by the African Union and other African countries, especially South Africa.

Opposition leader Kevin Rudd said, ''Thuggery by the Mugabe regime is repugnant and deserves universal condemnation.'' He wants the U.N. involved.

While we're at it, where is the real condemnation by England? Rhodesia was, after all, their colony. The black middle class of Zimbabwe has fled to England; estimates are that more than a million are there.

Where is the voice of the United States and the domestic human rights activists who are so quick to condemn. Perhaps this doesn't fit their agenda.

In fact, where are the media, condemning these horrors?

I can't forget a comment by a Brit on the Telegraph blog:

''If Mugabe lived in the Balkans, he would have been ''bombed'' out of existence by now! Does he get ‘special treatment' just because he is black? Sounds racist to me.''

He may be right. Think about it. What will it take for us to care? How many people have to die at the hands of a black despot before something is done to help?

Barbara Simpson, "The Babe in the Bunker," as she's known to her
KSFO 560 radio talk-show audience in San Francisco, has a 20-year radio, TV and newspaper career in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

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Zimbabwe must rely on its own

Baltimore Sun

Relatives send essentials home from South Africa
By Scott Calvert
Sun Foreign Reporter
Originally published March 19, 2007
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa // It's Friday afternoon, and that means Daniel
Chitungwiza is putting another package of rice, cooking oil and other basics
on the overnight bus to his beleaguered mother and brothers back home in
"They won't die without it," he said of the weekly shipments from South
Africa, "but they will be hungry."

As once-prosperous Zimbabwe's seven-year economic slide deepens, legions of
expatriates like Chitungwiza are keeping their families afloat. They
regularly send staples that their relatives - amid a 1,700 percent annual
inflation rate - can no longer afford or even find on bare store shelves.
The country made headlines last week when police broke up a rally and badly
beat several participants, including Morgan Tsvangirai, a leader of the
opposition to the increasingly repressive regime of President Robert G.
Mugabe. Police fatally shot one person.

For many Zimbabweans living in South Africa, the crackdown was only the
latest sign that their country has spun out of control, with 80 percent
unemployment and growing internal unrest. Yet neighboring countries like
South Africa have looked on largely in silence amid the worldwide

"We need something to change; we need different everything," said Tabita
Ndungu as she boarded a bus here on Wednesday with cooking oil and soap for
her husband and two children.

Until and unless the situation improves, the northbound flow of goods will
certainly continue, as will the southbound flow of people. The rising number
of Zimbabweans in South Africa, legal and illegal, has been estimated at
between 1 million and 3.5 million. Zimbabwe's population is estimated to be
about 12 million. Whatever the totals, most who have left are actively
helping family members who cannot or will not leave.

Many of Zimbabwe's problems go back to 2000, when Mugabe encouraged
disgruntled veterans of the 1970s liberation war to seize white-owned farms,
even though few knew how to run a farm. When harvests fell, Mugabe shunned
foreign aid. Inflation jumped as the government printed money to cover its
spending, a cycle that has only become more vicious.

"In Zimbabwe everything is too expensive, and you can't find it anyway,"
said Edson Mangena, conductor of the daily Golden Motorways bus that makes
the 12-hour trip from Johannesburg to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest

His bus is part of a vast transit network that functions as a lifeline for
thousands of desperate Zimbabweans. Ten different bus companies travel the
routes, he said, some using modern coaches and others offering
rickety-looking, fume-belching old buses.

In the downtown parking lot that serves as Golden Motorways' depot, half a
dozen buses were being loaded Wednesday afternoon. A wide array of items -
tires, cases of soap, toilet paper, floor tiles, sacks of corn meal - was
crammed in the baggage compartment or lashed to the roof.

"We have to limit what they can bring," Mangena said. "Otherwise we'd have a
bus full of soap and food and things."

Separately, private citizens haul goods over the border in pickup trucks or
trailers. A large number of those leave from Hillbrow, an inner-city
Johannesburg neighborhood so populated by Zimbabweans that its nickname is

Hubert Moyo, who lives between Johannesburg and Pretoria, takes shipments up
once a month in his pickup, often for 10 different families. His fees can
total $500, but by the time he pays for gas and duties at the border, he
nets $100 or so. He is not motivated by money, though.

"I do it because I want to help people who are suffering," he said. "I'm not
enjoying it. Most people here are my family. They ask me, please, our kids
are starving."

Moyo moved to South Africa in 1988 and is a permanent resident. But he said
most of his family members in Zimbabwe could not get visas due to tightened

Besides, he said, "Zimbabwe is home."

His parents and two children live in the town of Plumtree. His children are
lucky because they still have teachers, even though there are only four for
500 students. With government salaries now worth just $9 a month (and
falling), by some accounts, few teachers bother to show up, and some schools
have no educators left.

Zimbabwe's schools were the envy of Africa in the early years of Mugabe's
presidency, which began in 1980 after a violent civil war toppled the white
regime of what was Rhodesia. No longer. "To build a country," Moyo lamented,
"you need education."

For now, the highest priority is the most basic of needs, such as eating and

Ndungu, laden with three cases of Golden Glo soap and two liters of cooking
oil, returns home to her husband and their two teenage children once a month
for a week. Then she heads south again to Johannesburg with mopane worms and
peanuts that she tries to sell. The round-trip fare is about $60. It is a
life she has led for two years now.

"Am I happy to be here without my family? No. It's hard." But she said she
has no choice. Her husband, Collin, is a Zimbabwean soldier, meaning he is
lucky to have a job and a salary that, however small, actually arrives.

Even so, it is not enough with inflation pushing prices up literally every
day and many goods available only at exorbitant black-market prices. So back
and forth she goes.

"When the economy is OK," she said, "I'll stop."

She could not guess when that might be. Despite signs of growing opposition
within Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front,
the 83-year-old president has hinted he may stand next year for another
six-year term.

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Civil society deliberates on Zim situation

Daily News, Botswana

19 March, 2007
GABORONE - The Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition on Zimbabwe
(BOCISCOZ) meet in Gaborone tomorrow to deliberate on the worsening
situation in Zimbabwe The meeting comes 10 days following a crack-down by
the Zimbabwean police on a peaceful gathering by Zimabweans in which
opposition politician, Morgan Tswangarai, and other activists, were beaten
BOCISCOZ, which comprises of the Botswana Council of Churches (BCC) the
Botswana Council of Non-Govermental Organisations(BOCONGO), the Botswana
Secondary Teachers Trade Union (BOSETU), Ditshwanelo and the Media Institute
of Souhtern Africa (MISA), says in a statement that the situation in
Zimbabwe has reached crisis point. We therefore cannot standby, fold our
hands and watch without raising a voice, it says. With the support of the
Friedrich Ebert Foundation, BOCISCOZ has invited men and women of goodwill
to that meeting billed for Ditshupo Hall to come so that we we can put our
heads together and come up with strategies to respond to the rapidly
worsening socio-econmic situation.

The statement says it is necessary to come to the recue of our brothers and
sisters in their hour of need.

BOCISCOZ says it is deeply concerned about the use of the Zimbabwean police
in ways which are reminiscent of the methods used by the apartheid regime in
South Africa.

Howver, it has commended MPs who last week did not mince their words when
they condemed the continued collective silence by SADC, in keeping with the
blind policy of silent diplmacy on the Zimbabwe.

The BCC has also issued a statement in condemnation of the Zimbabwean
government in the aftermath of last weeks police attack on a prayer meeting
in Harare.

It says situations where governments use force to silence or intimidate
their own populations will always be both wrong and unjust.

The BCC believes that violence never begets peace but always begets further
violence, adding that the use of violence in this case and other cases is
regrettable and unfortunate.

The release further states that it was under the impression that within the
27 years of independence the government of Zimbabwe should have learnt
important lessons on how to deal with issues of national concern including
the respect of human and peoples rights, but wondered if their trust (BCCs)
has not been misplaced.

BCC therefore calls on Botswana government and other SADC states to openly
exercise their peer country status to bring a lasting solution to the
Zimbabwe crisis.

Batswana came a long way in speaking against the ills and deeds of the
Zimbabwean government.

The most notable such incidences where Batswana openly expressed their total
disapproval of the actions of the Zimabwean government on its citizens was
in the 80s when SADC leaders were in Gaborone.

Former President, Sir Ketumile Masire was on the microphone announcing
arrivals of individual leaders at the National Stadium.

The first to arrive were Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia followed
by Mozanbican President Samora Machel. Both were given rousing welcome as
Sir Ketumile announced their arrival.

Then it was Zimbabwean Robert Mugabes turn. When Sir Ketumile announced,
saying now it is Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, there was a
dead silice from the fully packed national stadium. Sir Ketumile tried for
the second time to entice the crowd but to his embarrassment, the crowd did
not respond.

But when former Tanzanian President arrived, the crowd did not wait for Sir
Ketumile to complete the sentence.

The only word he could pronounce was Mwalimu and it was followed by a
thunderous and deafening applause from the crowd.

That was at the height of the political crisis in the Matebelend area of
Zimbabwe where the notorious Fifth Brigade murdered, maimed and forced many
Zaimabweans including the father of Zimbabwean politics, Joshua Nkomo to
flee into Botswana. Many Batswana at the National Satdium made it clear that
retenwa ke dilo tsa Matebeleland (we are bitter about the Matebeleland

The other aspect of Batswanas anger came from Mochudi. Mr Mugabe was to
visit the village while on a state visit. Kgosi Linchwe 11 submitted a copy
of his welcome statment to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The department felt then that the speech was hard on Mr Mugabe and asked
Kgosi Linchwe to tone it down.

He refused and Mr Mugabe was diverted from going to Mochudi to avoid

In his speech which was never delivered but was released to the press, Kgosi
Linchwe commended Mr Mugabe for having fought tirelessly for the
independence of Zimbabwe but regretted the situation where a brother was now
killing another brother. BOPA

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What to do about Mugabe

eurekastreet, Australia


By Peter Roebuck

Towering rage is the only legitimate reaction to the latest outrage in the
benighted, despoiled, corrupted, starving, bankrupt nation known as
Zimbabwe. The cold blooded killing of an opposition activist, in Highfields,
a high density suburb in Harare, and the shooting of mourners at his wake
was merely the latest excess of an evil dictatorship.

A similar tale is told by the arrest and bashing to the point of death of
opposition leaders at a prayer meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe
Coalition, a group of patriots committed to old fashioned causes such as
justice, democracy and the rule of law. Meanwhile, the half-witted talk
about such sops as cricket boycotts, and the puffy-chested pursue democracy
by landing bombs upon civilians.

Matters came to a head in Zimbabwe on Sunday. Alas, Mugabe and his
Mercedes-driving apologists have more heads than hydra. Political gatherings
have long since been banned by the dictatorship. Mugabe's crazed isolation
has become more marked in recent weeks as doctors and teachers downed tools
to protest about low pay. Inflation had passed 1,000% and rifts were
reported in Zanu PF, a party consisting of lame ducks whose strength
nowadays lies in the rural areas where elections are easier to fix. To
retain power and live longer, Mugabe has transformed his supposedly beloved
country into a peasant society ruled by a rich elite. Sales of luxury cars
are booming even as the economy collapses.

Despite the dictator's control of the airwaves, newspapers, courts and food
distribution, and the best efforts of the dreaded, ubiquitous and brutal
secret police ( CIO), the struggle for democracy has continued unabated.
Although the opposition party split into two factions over the issue of
taking part in rigged senate elections, the desire to be rid of the tyrant
has not wavered. Human rights lawyers, civil action groups, church leaders,
and women's groups have carried on the fight. It has not been easy. Mugabe
and his soldiers will stop at nothing to retain power. The snouts are deep
in the trough.

Accordingly, the Save Zimbabwe Coalition decided to hold not a political
meeting but a prayer meeting in Highfields. Zimbabwe is a religious country
full of churches and outstanding schools. Even some Zanu PF leader feign
allegiance to christian ideals. Mugabe has managed to secure the appointment
of some tame and bribeable Bishops. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church
especially has joined the women and labour unions in their defiance. Indeed
the opposition has much in common with Solidarity in Poland, except that it
lacks a focal point and a charismatic leader.

Of course the State was not prepared at this dangerous hour to allow a
meeting of any sort to take place, least of all a gathering to be attended
by struggle luminaries such as the leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan
Tsvangiri, Arthur Mutambara, and the Chairperson of the NCA, Dr. Lovemore
Madhuku. Therefore they broke up the meeting with bullets and beatings,
killing Gift Tandari, arresting 30-40 activists, hauling them off to various
police stations and torture chambers, thrashing them till they could
scarcely breathe and then denying them access to doctors or lawyers.

Meanwhile a democratically elected South African government supposedly
concerned about the lot of the common man continues to twiddle its thumbs.
Meanwhile, food supplied by charities is used as a political tool, with
sacks of rice sent to Zanu PF areas and the rest left to fend for
themselves. Meanwhile the population dwindles as the desperate seek
opportunities elsewhere, many taking the risk of crossing the Limpopo River
that forms the border with South Africa, a stretch of water infested with
crocodiles and ruthlessly guarded by soldiers. Meanwhile Mugabe's cricketing
representatives stay in posh hotels in the Caribbean, paying their young
players a pittance and shamelessly taking care of themselves.

Of course the West had it coming. Hardly a harsh word has heard in the mid
1980's when Mugabe's fifth brigade crushed an imagined uprising in
Matabeleland, slaughtering tens of thousands of mostly Ndebeles, stuffing
their corpses down disused gold mines. At around the same time the Sinhalese
were murdering the Tamils in Colombo as the government turned a blind eye.
No-one said much about that either.

Zimbabwe is a wonderful country blessed with a multitude of outstanding
people. The same can be said of other African countries. What can be done?
Mugabe has been hailed a hero and draws attention away from his infamy with
anti-colonial sloganeering. Moreover he has been close with Gaddafi, whose
influence on the continent President Mbeki feared above all else.

Ultimately Africa must take care of its own. What else has worked? Mbeki
must stop backing a wicked regime (but he also faces losing votes at home,
and leaving the ANC in the hands of populists) Everyone must pray for
Mugabe's death (but his mother reached three figures). At present the best
response is to help those seeking justice and to assist those promoting
education, thereby sustaining hope for a better tomorrow.

Along with a few friends, I have formed a charity called the LBW Trust which
gives needy and deserving youngsters a chance to pursue tertiary studies.
Already we are paying college fees for thirty impoverished Zimbabweans and
we plan to uplift Sudanese, Somalian and other settlers in Melbourne and
elsewhere. Everyone deserves a chance. The warlords must not be allowed to
cripple the young. Educate the child and the adult will take care of

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Dizzy worms in Zimbabwe

Open Democracy

       Michael Holman
      19 - 3 - 2007

      Robert Mugabe's despotic rule has brought Zimbabwe to its knees. An
emergency recovery programme, coordinated by the Commonwealth and made
accessible to Zimbabweans at home and abroad, could become a catalyst for
change, writes Michael Holman.

     Take all predictions about the end of Robert Mugabe's regime with a
pinch of salt.

      No one has a clue as to how the man will go; or when; or who will
succeed him. Indeed, I doubt that President Mugabe himself can provide the
answers to these questions. The ruling party and its cronies have fallen
victim to the "dizzy worm" syndrome that afflicts all dictatorships in their
final stage.

      I first encountered the malaise in Zaire, now called the Democratic
Republic of Congo. President Mobutu Sese Seko had carried out yet another
cabinet reshuffle. What was behind it, I wondered?

      "What do you get when you shake up a can of worms?" replied a veteran
diplomat, who went on to answer his own question.

      "Dizzy worms."

      For years Mobutu continued to shake the can, reshuffle after
reshuffle, duping well-meaning outsiders and confusing his political
opponents, as the country he ruled and ruined sank to depths thought
impossible. It took cancer of the prostrate and the advance on Kinshasa of
an unknown guerrilla movement to destroy the president, and force him into

      For all their differences, Mobutu Sese Seko and Robert Gabriel Mugabe
have one thing in common: both men have presided over the corruption of
their country's political class, a process which has seen able men and women
become members of an amoral, self-serving mafia, whether members of the
ruling Zanu-PF, the armed forces or the police.

      They are all dizzy worms. Their reactions are unpredictable.

      In the meantime can anything be done? Quite a lot, actually.

      Zimbabweans need hope like their economy needs good management and the
country needs good governance. While the outside world cannot impose a
solution on disintegrating society, it can provide an oppressed people with
hope for the future.

      Let the Commonwealth take the lead, and urgently coordinate a package
of preparations for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe.

      This would include:

        a.. Emergency aid
      Zimbabweans are closer than ever to defying the regime's security
forces and manning the barricades. But before they go over the top, they
need to know that there is life after the revolution. Hence the importance
of a fully-funded post-Mugabe recovery programme, rapidly dispensed, aimed
at meeting basic needs: medicine in the clinics and hospitals, books in the
classrooms, fertiliser for the farmers, and fuel for the buses. But to
ensure there is no back-tracking, the money for this first phase of a
recovery programme must be ring-fenced, the donors named and nailed down.

        a.. Bring back the farmers
      Work needs to get underway immediately to encourage the return to the
region of the commercial farmers and their senior staff. This is not the
place and it is not the time to discuss the role they played in creating the
disaster that has befallen them. But no country can afford to lose expertise
on this scale. Turning the effective expulsion of some 5,000 farmers into a
rational land-redistribution programme is a long-term target that a new
generation of Zimbabwe's leaders must tackle.

      But if the now-scattered skills are not to be lost forever, the
farmers must be encouraged to explore opportunities in neighbouring Zambia,
Malawi and Mozambique. Some are already doing this; but many more might join
them - if there was financial backing in the form of a Land Bank, funded by
the World Bank, that would underwrite their new ventures and provide the
financial security they need.

        a.. Prepare for a tourist boom
      The rapid recovery of the tourist sector, once a major
foreign-exchange earner, will be vital to the economy. Let the international
air-carriers work with travel agencies and offer a special Zimbabwe deal -
such as a long weekend in Zimbabwe (leaving Thursday night, returning
overnight Monday, for no more than cost, for a limited period).

      Those who are concerned about the impact of such a seeming indulgence
can be reassured: the quicker the Zimbabwe economy recovers, the sooner the
environmental damage caused by poverty will end. The destruction of the
country's forests will on be reversed when electricity replaces charcoal -
and that will only happen when people have decent jobs.

        a.. Enlist the private sector
      From the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to AngloAmerican, there is a
well of goodwill to be tapped. Encourage business sponsorship of schools and
clinics. Support the return of talented exiles, using a computer-based
register of Zimbabweans abroad.

        a.. Keep the international development agencies on a very short lead
      When Rhodesia became independent Zimbabwe in 1980, the international
community played the leading role in convening an aid conference. Things
have moved on since then, and debate about the merit of aid in its current
form has intensified. More than quarter of a century after independence, let
Zimbabweans choose their policies, and pick their partners.

      The fewer expatriate "experts" are involved in the country's
reconstruction the better. As Sir Roy Welensky, prime minister of the
ill-fated Central African Federation once said: "I want civil servants who
go home every night, not every three years.

        a.. Get ready to celebrate
      Prepare to celebrate Zimbabwe's second liberation. Invite Alexander
McCall Smith - born and brought up in Rhodesia - to host a literature
festival; let Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi and his group The Black Spirits, lead a
concert that also features The Bhundu Boys (or what remains of them), MC'd
by Andy Kershaw, that showcases Zimbabwe's musical talent. A country that
has become synonymous with repression, can become an inspiration, an example
of an indomitable spirit.

        a.. Don't waste the euphoria
      The joy and relief that will accompany the birth of a new Zimbabwe can
all too easily be squandered. In Nigeria, the wounds left by the Biafara war
healed much quicker thanks to General Yakubu Gowon's declaration: "no
victor, no vanquished."

      But in Kenya the enthusiasm that greeted the end of President Daniel
arap Moi soon turned to cynicism as corruption continued unabated.

      There are lessons for Zimbabwe.

      An essential condition

      One feature of this package is essential. It must be published as an
internationally backed, legally binding, first-phase recovery programme,
with irrevocable public commitments to its funding. It should be a document
of a few pages, in English, Shona and Ndebele. And it must be distributed in
the hundreds of thousands, by airdrop if necessary, so that Zimbabweans can
read it, feel it, debate it and draw encouragement from the fact that the
world is ready to help.

      Who knows? Knowing that the world cares in a practical was might just
tip the balance between forced acquiesence and active rebellion.

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Protesters March Against Zimbabwe

New Era (Windhoek)

March 19, 2007
Posted to the web March 19, 2007

Catherine Sasman

"Evil prevails when good people are silent," read a placard at a protest
march on Friday against purported state violence against the opposition in

About 100 people representing several civil organizations in Namibia
attended the march thatwas spearheaded by the Media Institute of Southern
Africa [MISA].

"[We] are horrified and dismayed at the brutality displayed by the
Zimbabwean government during the violent disbursement of peaceful
demonstrators on Sunday, March 11," said regional director of MISA, Kaitira

"The events that have transpired in Zimbabwe spell a frightening turn in the
political development of our region, especially in light of the deafening
silence of our governments and political leaders," continued Kandjii.

The organization called for clarity and intervention from SADC governments
aimed at restoring the "dignity of a people whom the rest of the SADC region
has often looked to for guidance and solace in their time of political

Wielding a placard saying 'Black on black oppression', 60-year-old Anna
Khoeses said she was there because she wanted President Robert Mugabe to
take care of his own people.

"I want Mugabe to take care of his own children. I want him to make his own
people rich," said Khoeses. "I have so many Zimbabwean children coming to me
for water and food. They are struggling."

The protesters marched down Independence Avenue but were barred by the
Namibian Police from staging their grievances directly in front of the
Zimbabwean High Commission. There was also no one to receive their petition
at the High Commission.

The Zimbabwe government has come under increasing international scrutiny
after its crackdown on civil and political rights in recent months.

"We are happy that opposition parties in Parliament have spoken out against
the blatant human rights situation in Zimbabwe," declared Phil ya Nangoloh
of the National Society for Human Rights [NSHR], adding, "We, however,
should be very disturbed by the fact that President [Hifikepunye] Pohamba's
own ministers and members of Parliament, led by his foreign affairs
minister, Marco Hausiku, in a chorus rejected a motion in Parliament to
debate the Zimbabwe situation.

Member of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Jacob Mafume, thanked the
Namibian civil organisztions for their solidarity to the Zimbabwean

The Law Society of Namibia elsewhere also condemned what it called the
violation of human rights and rule of law on the part of the Zimbabwe

"The violation of fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the rule of law
on Sunday [11 March], resulted in unwarranted violence and widespread
detentions of Zimbabwean citizens. The abuse of political, church and
community leaders and ordinary citizens by the authorities in Zimbabwe
follows upon previous human rights abuses and disrespect for the rule of law
in that country," wrote the Law Society.

Last Tuesday, Zimbabwe Ambassador to Namibia, Chipo Zingoda, denied all
allegations of state violence against the Movement for Change (MDC) leader,
Morgan Tjvangirai, and others, stressing that her country was politically
stable and sound, and described the 11 March events as "isolated incidents".

Political commentators in Namibia are, however, of the opinion that the
economic and civil rights situation in that country are spiralling out of
control, with President Mugabe losing his grip as opposition within ZANU-PF
is mounting and as emerging civil society loses its patience with wholesale
joblessness and economic hardship in that country.

"There is no argument any longer that Zimbabwe is collapsing," commented
political analyst, Joseph Diescho.

Inflation in Zimbabwe has soured to 1700 and unemployment is currently
pegged at 80%.

"I hope the worst is not yet to come," added Diescho. "I really hope the
National Assembly [of Namibia] will come out to denounce in the strongest
possible way the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The situation there is a
sad commentary of African leadership, and for a free-loving country like
Namibia not to take a position is lamentable."

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Illegals flee to SA


19/03/2007 16:51  - (SA)

Clare Byrne

Musina - They say when Zimbabwe sneezes, the whole region gets a cold. While
observers this week were talking up the imminence of regime change in
Harare, Zimbabwe, the country continued to haemorrhage economic migrants to
neighbouring countries.

The respected International Crisis Group think thank speculated earlier this
week that divisions with Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF over the 83-year-old
leader's bid to extend his term for a further two years represented "a
realistic chance" for change.

"After years of political deadlock and continued economic and humanitarian
decline, a realistic chance has at last begun to appear in the past few
months to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis," said the report.

For the thousands of Zimbabweans who flee their country's economic meltdown
each week, change cannot come quickly enough.

On a hot Sunday morning near the Beit Bridge crossing with South Africa (SA)
a young man wriggles under the second of three razor-wire border fences.

The approach of our car sends him crawling backwards on his elbows into
Zimbabwe. From there the 27-year-old, who did not wish to be named and is
from the eastern city of Masvingo, tells us this is his second time in five
days to attempt the crossing. He was arrested and deported the first time.

He has no food no money and is hoping to get a lift in a truck to
Johannesburg, where his brother lives. "There are no jobs back home," he
said, using an expletive to describe the state of industry in Zimbabwe.

When an army jeep pulls up transporting some just-nabbed illegals - two
youths and two women, one cradling a small baby - he melts back into the

The riches-to-rags transformation of the one-time breadbasket of Africa has
spawned a mass exodus of desperate migrants.

Zambia also witnessing influx

With inflation in Zimbabwe running at a record 1 600%, four out of five
without a job and basic necessities such as bread and fuel in short supply,
even women with small children are risking life and limb to quit the

Although Zambia is also witnessing an influx most head for SA, the regional
powerhouse and home to an estimated three million Zimbabweans, or
one-quarter of Zimbabwe's population.

Some cross the border legally on a visit visa and then overstay their permit
to look for work. Those unable to obtain a passport because of a shortage of
government money to process a backlog of 300 000 applications try their hand
at border jumping.

The journey into SA is extremely hazardous.

"They are running away from wild animals, they are running away from the
amagumaguma (thieves), they are running away from soldiers and farmers,"
said a Zimbabwean woman who shelters illegals in the border town of Musina.

People in the area tell of seeing migrants crossing the Limpopo River on the
border being eaten by crocodiles. Dierk Lempertz, who runs a game reserve
outside Musina, found a Zimbabwean woman naked, "nearly dead" on his land.
She had been robbed and raped, allegedly by amagumaguma.

"We gave her food and water and when she was strong again, we said she has
to leave the farm," says Dierk.

Brothers Stephen, 23, and Joseph, 26, from a village in central Zimbabwe
showed reporters ugly welts on their arms and legs where they were beaten by

"They took off all the clothes, the money. If you have nice shoes, nice
watches they take these," they say.

Widespread food shortages

Despite the hazards of the journey and the costs incurred - at least a
month's salary for a lift to the border and to pay a human smuggler to be
guided across - most illegals say life is better in SA.

As farm labourers in Musina, Stephen and Joseph earn R400 a month, a
fraction of what locals earn, but around four times the salary of an office
worker in Zimbabwe and "enough to buy a cow" back home.

With a little money in SA they are also sure of being able to buy food.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's disastrous land reform programme, which
saw white-owned farms left uncultivated after being handed to cronies in the
government and military, combined with caps on food prices and drought have
sparked widespread food shortages.

Illegals at risk of deportation stock up on basics such as cooking oil
before returning home.

As the meltdown of Zimbabwe beings to be felt throughout southern Africa,
the "quiet diplomacy" of South African President Thabo Mbeki vis-a-vis his
liberation-era ally Mugabe is being increasingly called into question.

"We should not pretend that all is well in Zimbabwe," Zambian foreign
affairs minister Mundia Sikatana said this week, urging the Southern Africa
Development Community to mediate between Mugabe and the European Union to
end Zimbabwe's isolation.

Zambia's outburst coincided with a report by the International Crisis Group
suggested that powerful factions within Mugabe's party opposed his bid to
remain in power until 2010 instead of 2008. These factions might force the
authoritarian leader to retire, the report found.

"Mugabe has killed our country," a tracker on a game reserve in Musina said
repeatedly. "If Mugabe retires, things will come better," said Joseph.

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Sokwanele... Video - media extracts

From: "Sokwanele"
Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2007 1:12 AM

I thought you might be interested in a short video we compiled of media
extracts (interviews and a little footage) emerging immediately after the
events last Sunday. People who do not usually listen to SW Radio Africa may
not have heard these. They give a sense of both the brutality and the
activists reaction to the torture. We are hoping that publicizing them might
get more people to tune in to SW Radio Africa.

The 9 min video has been picked up and posted on a lot of sites, and I'm
glad to hear that some of them are South African!

See our blog at this link:

Best wishes,


Visit our website at:
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Please help us build our mailing list by asking your friends to subscribe to
our newsletter. They can do so automatically via our website, or they can
send us an email at

Thank you for your support.

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Zimbabwe  a country under the boot of a brutal dictator

Barbados Advocate

Web Posted - Mon Mar 19 2007
By Leonard Shorey
THERE was a time, now but a fading memory, when Zimbabwe was a prosperous
country and, indeed, one of the most prosperous on the African continent.

Those days are now no more, and today Zimbabwe is a sadly impoverished
country where millions live on the brink of starvation, where the inflation
rate is enormously high, where the life expectancy is one of the lowest in
the whole world and where political and civil rights are regularly trampled
on. All this has come about since dictator, Robert Mugabe, gained power.
Ostensibly, a major objective of his political organisation, the ZANU-PF,
was to gain control of the lands owned by the Whites who were displaced when
he took power, and to redistribute these to the Blacks in the country. This
sounded like a good idea and probably few non-Whites in the country
questioned the legitimacy of doing this. However, things rapidly went awry.
For one thing, the Blacks to whom the lands were given seldom had the skills
required for proper management of their newly acquired properties and, more
disastrous still, the majority of these handouts went to members of Mugabes
party, the ZANU-PF, so the distribution of the expropriated lands was by no
means even-handed.

Yet, worse was to come. Under Mugabes Govern-ment, human rights and
citizens rights took a nose dive. It became unwise and indeed absolutely
foolhardy even to voice objections to any action taken by the government,
for quick punishment was administered by Mugabes thugs who roamed the
countryside taking vengeance on those who opposed their leader. The
brutality that resulted was a fitting counterpart to the vicious
victimisation that had taken place in another African country under the
brutal and savage Idi Amin. In Zimbabwe, matters have got steadily worse,
and one of the most distressing, deplorable and heinous events took place
not very long ago. Those who are interested can read accounts of these
despicable events in the Advocate of March 15, which records distressing
details of the treatment meted out to the leader of the Opposition party,
Morgan Tsvangirai, who suffered severe beatings, a broken arm and a skull
fracture. As though despotism was not enough, Mugabe has made it clear that
restrictions imposed by the law of the land and even by the Supreme Court
are merely distractions and are even considered encumbrances. Thus in 1982
he made the amazing statement that The government cannot allow the
technicalities of the law to fetter its hands & we shall therefore proceed
as the government in the manner we feel fitting. Consonant with this
contemptuous attitude towards the laws of his country Mugabe has repeatedly
ignored rulings by the High Court and has treated them with total
indifference and disdain.

Of course, Mugabe is not alone in this attitude towards laws and the
restrictions they impose on people holding high political office. On another
continent half a world away, George W. Bush, President of the United States
of America, has referred to the Constitution of his country as just a
goddamned piece of paper. It would be difficult if not impossible to find a
more contemptuous remark about so significant and important a document. The
implied contempt for rules and regulations is unmistakably clear and the US
Supreme Court has had to strike down actions by George W. Bush just as the
Zimbabwe Supreme Court has had to do with respect to Robert Mugabe. In this
respect, and in their obvious shared contempt for law, the two can be
considered philosophical brothers.

However, in the US citizens have more buffers against administrative
victimisation than citizens in the unfortunate Zimbab-we. Therefore, George
W. Bush has not been able to create the kind of havoc in the US which Mugabe
has successfully achieved in Zimbabwe, even though in the US citizens now
live with the uncomfortable knowledge that under the infamous Patriot Act
they can be arrested and incarcerated without trial. In Zimbabwe, the
situation is exceedingly bad for, as the recent beating and torture of
Tsvangirai indicate, brutality is actually an occurrence against which there
is little appeal. Worse still, Mugabe has sought to entrench himself as
President-for-life in that most unfortunate country.

One of the most astonishing things is that so little is said in Caribbean
and other Third World countries in outright condemnation of these heinous
acts. Here in Barbados, for example, Pan Africanists have called for
Caribbean governments to show active solidarity & [with] the Government &
of Zimbabwe (Can anyone really imagine this?) and to resist any attempts
to suspend or expel Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth. Still, wrong is wrong,
irrespective of the colour of the person involved.

What is most unfortunate is the quite unjustified and totally inexcusable
suffering to which citizens of the unfortunate Zimbabwe are exposed because
of the callous and vindictive behaviour of the inhuman tyrant who clings so
desperately to the post of President and who crushes his fellow citizens
unfeelingly beneath his boot. The situation is bound to end, but when? No
one knows, just as no one knows how many more people will be tortured under
Mugabes brutal and repressive regime.

(Dr. Leonard Shorey GCM, is an educator and a commentator on social and
political issues.)

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Botswana tightens border after Zim tension


          March 19 2007 at 07:44PM

      By Moabi Phia

      Gaborone - Botswana has tightened its border controls in response to
political unrest in neighbouring Zimbabwe that it fears could lead to a
renewed flood of illegal migration, a senior police spokesperson said on

      Border officers in Botswana have been told to more carefully check
those entering or seeking to remain in the southern African nation and
ensure they have enough money for their stay, the government said in a

      The order came after a high-level meeting on Friday between police and
immigration officials.

      The statement referred to the need to keep "undesirable people" out of
the country, but it did not specifically mention that Zimbabweans would be
the targets of the tighter controls.

      A senior police spokesperson told Reuters on condition of anonymity
that the government had acted because of rising tensions in Zimbabwe, where
police recently arrested dozens of opposition members at a protest against
President Robert Mugabe.

      Many of the anti-Mugabe protesters, including the leader of the main
opposition party, said they were beaten in police custody. The crackdown
prompted widespread international condemnation of Mugabe and threats of
additional sanctions.

      Relations between Botswana and Zimbabwe have been chilly since the
government in Gaborone began constructing a three-metre-high electric fence
on the border in a move it said was meant to control the spread of
foot-and-mouth disease.

      Many Zimbabweans believe the fence, which is designed to span some 500
km, is intended to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into Botswana, a
diamond-rich nation that is among the most prosperous and politically stable
in Africa.

      Botswana and South Africa attract the lion's share of immigrants from
Zimbabwe, which is struggling with inflation over 1 700 percent, an
unemployment rate of 80 percent and chronic food and fuel shortages.

      Botswana deported more than 56 000 Zimbabweans last year, according to
government statistics.

      "We are encountering problems of prohibited immigrants, forged
travelling documents, stamps and other immigration documents," Deputy Police
Commissioner Kenneth Kapinga, who attended the meeting on Friday, said in a

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The Star - Letters

Nations must sever ties with illegal Zim govt
March 19, 2007 Edition 1

Tears rolled down my face as I saw the bruises inflicted on a friend and
former schoolmate, Grace Kwinjeh, by the security forces of the illegitimate
regime of Robert Mugabe.

The latest brutal attack on civilians by Mugabe and his dogs goes to show
the pariah state Zimbabwe has turned into.

Those that continue to trade with Zimbabwe are guilty of the same atrocities
Mugabe is inflicting.

Economically, Southern Africa is not going anywhere without Zimbabwe and it
would save the subregion a lot of time if the political leaders in the
region would intervene aggressively.

I have heard it said that Zimbabweans themselves will bring about change to
Zimbabwe, but how can the ordinary Zimbabweans do anything if the state
machinery does not respect the rule of law?

Such a regime cannot be called a legitimate government because it goes
against the laws of the land.

Worse still, laws have been put in place by the regime to oppress the people
further. That is the reason why South Africans had to go in to exile during
apartheid. They went to seek assistance to ensure regime change in the

Zimbabweans all over the diaspora are asking for diplomatic help and it
would seem it is only the furthest countries that are offering any form of
response, while the neighbours are being very unhelpful.

I cannot understand the silent ANC and the SA government's stance.

They continue to help a regime that flouts human rights on a daily basis,
supplying electricity and a link to the rest of the world for a country run
on similar lines as South Africa was during apartheid.
Now more than ever is the time for the rest of the world, especially
Southern Africa, to sever all diplomatic ties with the Mugabe regime.

We, the progressive Zimbabweans working for a democratic Zimbabwe, call upon
those who have heard our cries from the beginning, Britain, the USA and the
rest of the democratic world to severe all diplomatic ties with the
illegitimate regime of Robert Mugabe.

We say this must be the first decisive step towards a final push for regime

To our African neighbours we say without reservation that as long as this
state of affairs continues, the dream of an African Renaissance will remain
just that, a dream.

Therefore let us, those who are for pro-democratic principles, unite in
ensuring the subregion is democratic so that our people can enjoy the
economic and political freedoms our fathers fought for.

Enough is enough!

Themba Nkala

Honeydew Ridge, Gauteng


Mugabe must be cut down to size
March 19, 2007 Edition 1

In the boiling cauldron that is Zimbabwe today, one can understand the high
level of feeling, frustration and anger directed against Mugabe and his
cronyist Zanu-PF administration.

In view of Mugabe's jack-boot tactics, it would seem any suggestion that
Zimbabweans must sort out their own problems is banal.

The opposition and all others opposed to Mugabe's destruction of the
Zimbabwe economy and democracy, are in no position to take on Mugabe and his
army and police force.

How does one "negotiate" with someone holding a brick to one's head?

Mugabe has to be cut down to size, or this whole Zimbabwean mess is going to
escalate out of control, to the detriment of the whole Southern African

Our ANC admirers of Mugabe must indeed overcome their adulation and realise
that Mugabe seems to have only contempt for "quiet diplomacy" - and probably
sees it as weakness.
That country is dying. Can't we do something about it?

JW Chambers

Airfield, Benoni


South Africa has a duty to help suffering citizens
March 19, 2007 Edition 1

I cannot but participate in the verbal onslaught on the weak and meaningless
comments by our deputy minister of foreign affairs.

The whole world is planning sanctions against Zimbabwe and threatening trade
and financial boycotts.

Millions of starving Zimbabweans will surely "invade" our country if a stop
is not put to the madness of Mugabe's actions.

Has the government given consideration to the burden of accommodation, food
supplies, financial aid and jobs?

Is it so difficult to call Mugabe to Pretoria and force him to behave in
accordance with international practice.

We are responsible to assist our neighbours by removing Mugabe. We have
built our democracy around the human rights aspect. Why are we so silent?
Had the world at large not applied sanctions against the country's National
Party government years ago, where would the ANC be today? Our government is
not taking responsibility for the Zimbabwean disaster.
All it takes for bad men to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

Dieter Bergs

Parktown North, Johannesburg

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Eagle Radio interview scoop
Monday 19 March 2007 - 07:12:05email to someone create pdf of this news item

The newsteam at UKRD station 96.4 Eagle Radio have managed to secure an exclusive interview with a former Zimbabwe State Policeman who fled to Surrey to escape the Mugabe regime. In the conversation, he talks about his ordeal in the 1990's.

The station has called him "John" to protect his own safety. He told how he was forced to follow government orders to torture anyone opposing the Zanu-PF party: "The idea was just to stop them completely; by beating them, tear-gassing them, and things like that."

During the Eagle Radio News interview, "John" expressed regret for his actions "I just feel so bad, but you know, I had no option, I feel that I mustn't be doing this but, what else can I do?".

With tears in his eyes, "John" told Eagle Radio's Head Of News, Rob Harris, how, unable to cope any longer with Government orders and fearing for the lives of his family, he handed his resignation to a friend and fled the country.

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Zimbabwe Council of Churches' postion on the unfolding events

The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) notes with dismay the escalation of
politically motivated violence countrywide that has been witnessed in the
past few days especially in the Machipisa area of Highfields. This orgy of
violence which can be attributed to the ban on political gatherings in
Harare Metropolitan Province is provoking this ugly face of violence in the
provinces, especially at this strategic moment when political parties are
preparing for the 2008 Presidential Election as per our constitution. We
feel that the police should have engaged all stakeholders as provided by
Section 27(2)b of the Public Order And Security Act before deciding on the

ZCC also notes with concern the statements being made by the police that
they will resort to maximum force (when tenets of the law say minimum force)
whenever the ban has been defied - this is another provoking factor.

As ZCC we do not condone violence by whoever, and we strongly condemn;-

1. - the brutality by the police in the handling of the Sunday 11 March 2007
2. - the shooting to death of the 17 year old boy - thereby further
provoking other supporters and at the same time instilling fear among the
3. - The brutal treatment of the opposition leaders and their supporters
whilst in the hands of the police leading to their serious injuries
4. - The petrol bombing and subsequent injury of the police officers
5. - The harassment of innocent mourners coming from the cemetery
6. - The damage to property

If this state of affairs continues, we foresee a situation that will
degenerate into civil unrest where there will be a lot bloodshed. We also
note with serious concern that criminal elements will manipulate the
situation to carry out criminal activities under the guise of political

We therefore, call upon;-

1. - the police to restrain from the use of brutality when dealing with
2. - the government to consider uplifting the ban on political gatherings as
will continue to provoke acts of violence
3. - the opposition to urge its supporters to restrain from being violent
4. - the media to be objective when covering such incidents

The church believes in non violence and it is our hope that all stakeholders
should resort to non violent acts when carrying out their political
activities. Even Jesus as He was facing death did not believe in violence
(Luke 22 vs. 49 - 51).

We therefore, recommend that;-

1. - all stakeholders engage in dialogue
2. - police should restrict themselves to their duties of arresting suspects
investigating all criminal activities and not usurp the powers of the courts
punishing convicted offenders.

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It's time to act for peace and justice in Zimbabwe

The General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) today
expressed grave concern over the growing wave of repression and human rights
violations in Zimbabwe and called for immediate action to halt the
persecution of Zimbabweans at home and abroad. Church leaders have now
become targets of police harassment in Zimbabwe. Over the last few days a
number of church leaders, civil society activists, human rights campaigners
and opposition leaders have been detained and beaten by police for
participating in public prayer meetings. Zimbabwean authorities attempted to
ban the meetings in terms of Zimbabwe's draconian Public Order and Safety
Act (POSA), enacted in January 2002.

Mr Eddie Makue, the General Secretary of the SACC said, "We notice, with
deep concern that Zimbabwean authorities are attempting to create and
exploit divisions within the Zimbabwean Church. Authoritarian regimes
commonly make use of such 'divide and rule' tactics to discredit and stifle
genuine opposition. History has shown that the truth will set us free. No
matter how harsh the repression, a people who seek peace with justice can
not be deterred," Makue warned.

The inhuman actions of the Zimbabwe security forces are rapidly closing the
options open to the people of Zimbabwe in finding amicable resolutions for
the many challenges confronting this troubled nation. "The people of
Zimbabwe need the space to express peacefully their aspirations and their
dissatisfaction with the hyperinflation, unemployment and shortages of basic
commodities that are making life intolerable for the vast majority of
citizens," Makue observed. "We hope and pray that avenues for peaceful
demonstration will not be completely closed. Similarly, the state should
avoid criminalizing the legitimate grievances of concerned Zimbabweans."

Makue noted that the massive migration of Zimbabweans to other countries
in the region is a clear indicator of the depth and scale of the nation's
problems and the need for urgent redress. Even the relief services offered
by churches in neighboring countries are unable either to stem the tide of
migrants or to meet their dire needs in neighboring countries. As a result,
the situation in Zimbabwe threatens to destabilize the entire SADC region.

Political leaders within SADC have a responsibility to engage in actions
that enhance peace and security for all people of the region. The silence of
the South African government is aggravating the situation. Our leaders must
show that they are committed to helping the people of Zimbabwe to find rapid
solutions to the many problems confronting them. Churches also have a
responsibility to speak out, Makue claimed. "When our Zimbabwean sisters and
brothers flee from unjust persecution and the violation of their human
rights, they are often treated like criminals by the governments and people
of neighboring counties," said Makue.
"Xenophobia and discrimination are rife, and churches must say clearly
that we will not tolerate such inhumanity."

Makue affirmed the SACC's support for the principle of finding African
solutions to Africa's problems. "Those who are engaged in peaceful and legal
actions deserve the support of all peace-loving citizens," he said. "Now is
the time for us to act for peace and justice in Zimbabwe."

For more information, contact:
Eddie Makue,
General Secretary
(082 853 8781)

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For Slain Zimbabwean Activist, Burial By Police Out Of Public View

      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      19 March 2007

Human rights lawyers in Zimbabwe tried unsuccessfully Monday to serve police
with a court order barring them from further interference with the funeral
arrangement of an opposition member that the police shot to death on March
11 and whose remains security forces are said to have seized for burial out
of the public eye.

Suspected members of the Central Intelligence Organisation are alleged to
have taken the body of slain opposition activist Gift Tandare, 41, from the
Harare funeral home that was preparing his remains for burial Saturday, then
taken the body to his rural village in Mount Darwin district, Mashonaland
Central, for a burial on Sunday.

Tandare was shot dead by police a week ago Sunday during protests following
the police suppression of a judicially sanction prayer meeting in Highfield,

A source close to Doves Funeral Home said the state operatives arrived at
the parlor in the morning with a man they identified as the slain activist's
father, and demanded the body. The source added that the agents, more than
10 in number, said they were acting on orders from President Robert Mugabe,
who wanted the burial to take place immediately. The opposition was
organization a funeral for Tandare on Monday.

Morticians were still working on Tandare's body when it was seized, the
source said.

Sources close to the situation said the Movement for Democratic Change
faction led by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai had paid some Z$9 million for a
casket and for preparation of the remains. After the state agents took
control of the body, Mount Darwin South Member of Parliament and Deputy
Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere asserted that he provided food, transport
and a suit in which to bury Tandare.

Lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights tried to take a High
Court order to the police barring further interference and to obtain the
return of the body. But the commanding officer in Harare is said to have
torn up the court order and threatened the "disappearance" of the lawyers
attempting to serve him with it.

Lawyer Alec Muchadehama told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that he found it sad that the government confiscated Tandare's body
instead of initiating an investigation to determine who was responsible for
his death.

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Britain urges U.N. action on Zimbabwe


March 19, 2007 at 5:46 PM

LONDON, March 19 (UPI) -- The British government is urging the U.N. human
rights council to take action against the Robert Mugabe government for
maltreating the opposition.

Calling the escalating crisis in Zimbabwe, a test of the human rights
council's power, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said contrary to
Mugabe's believe, the situation was not between he and Britain but he and
the world.

"What is not true is either that Britain is the only country in the world
that is desperately concerned at the plight of the Zimbabwe," Beckett said
in an interview with the Times Monday.

The foreign secretary said her government was trying to gather information
regarding people personally responsible for beating and torturing members of
the opposition, so as to ensure their names were included among those "being
targeted by the international community."

While reaffirming her belief in Mugabe complicity in the attacks, she
reiterated the commitment of the British government to strengthen bans by
the European Union on guilty members of the government.

"He is in charge of the government. He has made it very clear that this is a
deliberate act of policy on the part of the government of Zimbabwe and that
he is indifferent to the real I think horror that is felt right across the
International community," Beckett argued.

She said they were "trying to approach the issue in a way which doesn't give
him the excuse to pretend it's all just about the relationship between him"
and Britain as it would result in Zimbabweans suffering more.

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