International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: March 20, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: The main opposition party on Tuesday reported an upsurge
in violence against its supporters as the government reiterated warnings
that it would clamp down on unrest.
The Movement for Democratic Change alleged a police purge was continuing in
its urban strongholds, with at least 35 of its supporters hospitalized
Tuesday from beatings by ruling party youth league members and state agents
patrolling townships in unmarked vehicles.
"Similar stories are coming in from centers all over the country. All the
injured are being dealt with in private hospitals as all state hospitals are
instructed not to take in MDC activists, no matter what their injuries," it
said in a statement.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said seven labor activists were
arrested for distributing leaflets about the union's planned strike April 3
The latest clampdown followed a speech by Mugabe on Friday to youth leaders
urging them to "get prepared for a fight" and warning opposition activists
if violence continued they would again be "bashed."
A fiercely pro-Mugabe columnist in the state Herald, a government
mouthpiece, also warned activists that angry police and troops were ready to
violently curb their activities.
"Woe betide the unfortunate back on whom the blows will land," said the
columnist - Mugabe's chief spokesman George Charamba - writing under the pen
name of Nathaniel Manheru.
As the propaganda war heated up, the government continued to blame its
opponents for the violence.
Police said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was injured March 11 after
resisting arrest for inciting violence.
But his aides recounted he was arrested at the local police station where he
had gone to find colleagues picked up from a convoy of cars headed across
rough ground toward a prayer meeting after police barricaded approach roads.
Tsvangirai continued to recuperate at his Harare home Tuesday from head
injuries, hand fractures and severe body bruising. He has accused police of
forcing him to lie face down while he was beaten with riot sticks, iron bars
Other activists being beaten recounted the most severe head injuries were
inflicted when one officer identified him by name and ordered him to stand,
cajoling him: "You are not the president, Robert Mugabe is our president."
Tsvangirai is opposition party president and is often referred to by
supporters as President Tsvangirai.
Police denied that Nelson Chamisa, an opposition lawmaker and spokesman for
Tsvangirai, was assaulted by state agents wielding iron bars at the Harare
International Airport as he attempted to leave for an international
parliamentary meeting in Belgium on Sunday.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said an investigation was launched into
that attack though Chamisa did not officially report it police. Chamisa,
speaking from his hospital bed, acknowledged he made no official report as
"some police officers were present when I was assaulted."
Police claimed two other seriously injured opposition activists were
prevented from boarding an air ambulance for advanced surgery in South
Africa because they still had a case to answer for their role in the March
All 47 activists arrested March 11 were freed without being charged or
POSTED: 1715 GMT (0115 HKT), March 20, 2007
(CNN) -- As international condemnation of Zimbabwe mounts in response to
crackdowns on opposition politicians and foreign diplomats, CNN anchor
Michael Holmes spoke to the country's ambassador to the U.S. about the
policies of President Robert Mugabe's government and the lack of press
The following is a transcript of Holmes' interview with Ambassador
Holmes: The Zimbabwe government is threatening to expel foreign diplomats in
the wake of criticism over the treatment of political opponents.
What are Western diplomats accused of doing?
Mapuranga: Thank you for inviting me to this program. When you become a
diplomat, one of the things that you must do, and you have to do, is to read
the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and that convention clearly
states, it clearly stipulates that a diplomatic agent can not and should not
interfere in the internal affairs of the host country.
What the Western ambassadors have been doing in Zimbabwe is to team up with
As you know, it all started when Tony Blair, the prime minister of Britain,
in December 2003, and later in June 2005, while addressing the House of
Commons, declared that his government's policy toward Zimbabwe is regime
change, and this is why he has been pouring money into the coffers of the
MDC [the opposition Movement for Democratic Change], through the Westminster
Foundation, and the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, a body created to
subvert the elected government of Zimbabwe.
Holmes: Well, if you have evidence of this, why have you not expelled anyone
Mapuranga: Well, we believe that it has to manifest itself in deeds, and
this is what has been happening now. And the minister of foreign affairs had
a meeting with these ambassadors, and gave them a stern warning that if you
tried to translate what you've been saying verbally, and if you translate it
into deeds, the government will have no alternative but to expel you in
terms of the Vienna Conventions.
Holmes: Well, you're saying the deeds have been committed. Why have their
been no expulsions then?
Mapuranga: Well, the deeds have been committed. I think you are aware the
buses have been burned. Police stations have been burned down by MDC thugs,
and we would want to establish a clear connection between these deeds and
the Western diplomats.
Holmes: You say opposition thugs. The government itself stands accused by
the opposition of using, in the words of the opposition leader, hit squads,
police hit squads, organized squads who are going out and attacking
opposition leaders. And of course we have seen evidence of attacks on those
opposition leaders. Is there a coordinated campaign to physically crackdown
on opposition leaders in Zimbabwe?
Mapuranga: Well, we -- as you know, Zimbabwe became independent in 1980, and
we have always been a multiparty state. There has always been an opposition
in Zimbabwe. And we have been holding elections regularly, every five years,
parliamentary elections, and every six years presidential elections, which
were observed by the African Union, and before that the OAU and other
regional organizations in Africa, and they've always said that these
elections are free, and fair and reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.
But now you have a situation where these people, the MDC leadership, because
they have been losing these elections, are now turning to violence.
You heard them say that they are going to have the final push, and that they
are going to overthrow Robert Mugabe. This is unconscionable.
Holmes: Ambassador, that's the government's view, and the opposition has its
Mapuranga: They have been saying it...
Holmes: Well, let me finish. The government has its view and the opposition
has its view, which is that the Zimbabwean government is organizing
crackdowns, physical crackdowns, assaults on its members and not allowing
them to protest and the like.
Here's my question for you -- with your country in an economic meltdown and
this political difficult carrying on, why do you not allow Western news
organizations to report from your country? For example, CNN, we're not
allowed to report from Zimbabwe. Why not? Will you allow us to do so?
Mapuranga: No, we will not allow you to do that, because the CNN and the BBC
they champion the imperialist interests of the British and the Americans, so
they are totally biased, and...
Holmes: How so? How so? Why don't you allow us to come in there and report
on the ground? It's very difficult to report from outside the country, isn't
Mapuranga: Because you will be misleading the world, so we do not allow
enemy agencies, like the CNN and the BBC to report on Zimbabwe.
Holmes: So CNN is an enemy agency?
Mapuranga: As far as they espouse the regime-change agenda of the United
Holmes: Reporting the comments of other governments is not acting on their
behalf; it's reporting.
Mapuranga: We have been monitoring CNN reports on Zimbabwe, BBC reports on
Zimbabwe, and they're clearly hostile.
Holmes: So you're saying no. If I wanted to come down and do some feature
stories from Zimbabwe the answer is no?
Mapuranga:Yes, the answer is no.
Holmes: Until when?
Mapuranga:Until the opposition in Zimbabwe has renounced violence, and
Holmes: What's that got to do with CNN?
Mapuranga: Until the British and the Americans abandon their policy of
Holmes: But what does that got to do with media organizations?
Mapuranga: Well, because the media organizations support these two
governments. You may say that is not the case, but we know that is the case.
Holmes: How can accuse media organizations, such as CNN and the BBC for that
matter of this bias when you're on our air right now saying whatever it is
you want to say?
Mapuranga: Oh, right now, I think you -- it is -- you have no choice, but to
try and hear what the government is saying. But when we allow you to go into
Zimbabwe, we know that your agenda is not a noble one.
Holmes: All right, we'll leave it there, ambassador. Thanks so much for your
time. Appreciate it.
Mapuranga: Thank you.
Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:31PM GMT
By Sophie Walker
LONDON (Reuters) - Western powers vowed on Tuesday to keep up pressure on
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe despite threats to expel their diplomats
if they continue to criticise his government.
Both Britain and the United States have called for more sanctions against
Mugabe's government because of what they say was a violent crackdown on
opposition leaders and the severe economic crisis they blame on state
Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi on Monday warned
Western envoys in Harare the government would not hesitate to expel those
who backed opposition politics.
"Such threats will not deter the UK from speaking out against the continued
misgovernance and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe," a British Foreign Office
official told Reuters.
Zimbabwe officials have not said which countries could be targeted for
expulsion but they are thought to include Britain, the United States,
Australia and Sweden.
Mugabe last week told his Western critics "to go hang" and ordered
Mumbengegwi to "read the riot act" to Western envoys.
Police arrested main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 49 others on
March 11, accusing them of holding an illegal rally. Tsvangirai and several
others were later hospitalised -- they said they had been beaten and
tortured in custody.
"With the international community, we are pressing (Mugabe) to reverse
course and end human rights abuses and political violence," said Foreign
Secretary Margaret Beckett.
The European Union recently renewed a range of sanctions including an arms
embargo, travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and other government
officials. Western governments, including the 27-nation EU, deny they are
meddling in Zimbabwean politics.
"We do not want to participate directly in the debate, but we want all
Zimbabweans to participate," European Commission aid spokesman Amadeu
The EU's executive has allocated nearly 3 million euros (2 million pounds)
for ongoing projects in Zimbabwe which support local democracy, human rights
defenders and media monitoring.
"We do not support the opposition as such but (help) so that the opposition
and the civil society can express themselves freely," Altafaj said. "If this
is interpreted by the government as supporting the opposition it shows there
is something wrong."
Beckett told parliament on Tuesday that Britain was "endeavouring to get a
head of steam" behind its call for urgent action by the human rights council
at the United Nations.
Britain is also trying to persuade EU colleagues to extend sanctions against
Zimbabwe and has demanded direct action against those responsible for
"The severe economic and humanitarian crisis facing ordinary Zimbabweans is
entirely the fault of the misguided policies of President Mugabe and his
government," Beckett said.
Zimbabwe has been relying on food aid from U.N. agencies and Western powers
for the last six years as a result of a sharp drop in agricultural
production that critics blame on Mugabe's seizures of white-owned farms for
distribution to blacks.
Once southern Africa's bread basket, the country is struggling with
inflation of more than 1,700 percent, frequent food and fuel shortages and
unemployment of about 80 percent. Zimbabwe's food crisis will also worsen
this year because of a drought that has decimated key crops, a minister
Britain said the threat to expel envoys would not stop it supporting
ordinary Zimbabweans in any way possible, including the delivery of
"substantial humanitarian assistance".
Washington said its ambassador Christopher Dell had walked out of the
meeting with Zimbabwe's foreign minister on Monday "refusing to participate
in the government's attempt to justify its recent brutality".
"The United States will continue to speak and act steadfastly in support of
the people of Zimbabwe's right to democracy," a spokesman for the U.S. State
(Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka and MacDonald Dzirutwe in Harare,
Ingrid Melander in Brussels and Sue Pleming in Washington)
POSTED: 11:03 a.m. EDT, March 20, 2007
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) -- Zimbabwe's neighbors were under increasing
pressure to do something about its chaos -- in part because it is already
spilling over in the form of migrants fleeing economic collapse and
The South African Cabinet was expected to discuss Zimbabwe at a regular
meeting Tuesday after sustained criticism that the quiet diplomacy advocated
by President Thabo Mbeki isn't working. South Africa, with the strongest
economy in the region and the highest international profile, has been
pressed to take the lead on Zimbabwe.
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said that the Southern African Development
Community would adopt a common position. Zambia has so far been the only
country in the region to openly criticize President Robert Mugabe's
clampdown on his opponents. The Zambian foreign minister said last week that
the situation in Zimbabwe was too serious for his government to keep quiet.
The president of Tanzania, one of three Southern African nations appointed
by the Southern African Development Community to try to address the
political crisis in Zimbabwe, met with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in
Zimbabwe last week. No details of the outcome have been made public. The
community comprises Angola, Botswana, Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius,
Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Zambia, like other surrounding countries, has seen an influx of Zimbabweans
fleeing political repression, chronic shortages of basic supplies, high
unemployment and inflation of more than 1,600 percent.
More than 3 million of Zimbabwe's 15 million people live abroad, most
economic refugees in South Africa and Britain.
Mwanawasa was headed to Namibia -- whose president was reportedly lukewarm
toward Mugabe when he visited there recently.
In Botswana, which also has a border with Zimbabwe, two lawmakers said they
would ask President Festus Mogae to recall his ambassador from Harare to
protest the human rights abuses and the brutal beatings of opposition
Malawi's government said it was too early to take a stand on the crisis. But
a coalition of several human rights groups there urged President Bingu wa
Mutharika to use his close ties with Mugabe to try to find a lasting
political solution that would help spur economic recovery. Zimbabwe used to
be the main trading partner of impoverished Malawi.
Zimbabwe was discussed at a meeting between Nordic and African foreign
ministers in Oslo. "There was an unease about the situation," Norwegian
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told The Associated Press in summarizing
the closed meeting. "The economic political and humanitarian situation is
disturbing for Zimbabwe and for the countries in the region."
The development minister of Germany, which holds the European Union
presidency, urged Zimbabwe's neighbors to stand up for human rights in the
"In Zimbabwe, opposition politicians such as Morgan Tsvangirai and many
others have been and are being systematically mistreated and repressed,"
Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said in a statement Tuesday.
"It is high time for Zimbabwe's neighboring countries and the SADC states as
a whole finally to find clear words and show ways toward a peaceful
solution," she added. "The actions of President Mugabe and this regime
toward their own people are intolerable."
Criticism of the Zimbabwe government has escalated since opposition leaders,
including opposition party chief Tsvangirai, were arrested and brutally
beaten in police custody earlier this month. On the weekend, injured
opposition party activists were prevented from leaving to seek medical help
in South Africa and an opposition party spokesman was seriously injured in
an attack at Harare airport as he tried to fly to a conference in Europe.
The men who beat the spokesman with iron bars were unidentified, but
believed to be state agents. In an interview with the British newspaper The
Daily Telegraph that appeared Tuesday, Tsvangirai using "hit squads,
unidentified men, unidentified vehicles" against the opposition.
Zimbabwe's foreign minister on Monday told Western diplomats they would be
expelled if they gave financial or diplomatic support to government
An increasingly defiant Mugabe has told his critics to "go hang."
March 20, 2007, 19:15
South Africa's cabinet today said it was extremely concerned over the
unfolding violence in Zimbabwe, but repeated that helping solve that
country's problems had to be through dialogue. Briefing the media in
Parliament after the executive's fortnightly meeting, Themba Maseko, the
government communications head, said government's primary worry at this
stage was the reported abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe.
"We are extremely concerned, particularly about the violence that is
unfolding in Zimbabwe. The need for dialogue is absolutely essential because
we believe that violence from any quarters is not a viable solution to the
problems that are experienced in Zimbabwe," he said.
""We will continue working with all stakeholders, particularly the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), in trying
to get all the parties to sit around a table to address the problems that
are facing that nation," Maseko told journalists. He said government was in
contact with "key players" in Zimbabwe.
"We do not agree with the view that says the time for dialogue is past. In
fact, the time for dialogue is now more than ever before," he said. Such
dialogue was needed as a matter of great urgency.
Extensive interaction needed
"We need to continue extensive interaction between our government and the
government of Zimbabwe, there needs to be extensive interaction and
consultation with other heads of states in the region, to try and impress
upon the government of Zimbabwe, and the opposition parties, to sit around a
table as a matter of absolute urgency," Maseko said.
Asked if the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe had
called on the SA government for help, Maseko said: "If there is a particular
request from the opposition parties to this government, I am personally not
aware of such a request," he said.
Government believed a diplomatic solution could be found. "We think it is
possible, even in the Zimbabwean situation, to reach a point in the near
future where both parties will be willing to say the situation is getting
out of hand, let us sit around a table," Maseko said. - Sapa
March 20 2007 at 04:47PM
The head of the Catholic church in Zimbabwe, Archbishop Pius Ncube,
criticised the South African government on Tuesday for failing to rein in
Harare's hardline President Robert Mugabe.
"They are in the best position to put pressure on Zimbabwe, to call
for sanctions if necessary," the archbishop of Bulawayo said on the SAFM
"They could force Mugabe to change but they have been watching this
thing. It's now the eighth year it has been deteriorating," he added.
Mugabe has come in for widespread international condemnation over his
treatment of the opposition, whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested and
then assaulted last week.
South Africa, which has long pursued a policy of 'quiet diplomacy'
towards its northern neighbour, has called for Zimbabwe to respect the
rights of all its citizens but the comments stop some way short of the
expressions of outrage that have been heard elsewhere.
"We hear that behind doors President (Thabo) Mbeki has talked strongly
to Mugabe but when it comes to the public, we never hear any strong words,"
said the archbishop who has long been one of Mugabe's most outspoken
"We are very disappointed, there is so much suffering that goes on."
The United States has already said it is considering widening a
programme of sanctions which is already in place against Mugabe and his
immediate coterie following the treatment of Tsvangirai and fellow members
of his Movement for Democratic Change.
The archbishop however said it was vital that any new measures did not
hurt the general population.
"The civilians are already extremely vulnerable," he said.
"But sanctions that are targeted towards the government, or quick
sanctions - cutting off the electricity for instance - would cause the
Zimbabwean government to think fast." - Sapa-AFP
Daily Mail, UK
Last updated at 18:10pm on 20th March 2007
Belgium mistakenly granted a Zimbabwean former minister a visa even though
he was on an EU sanctions list, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
Edward Chindori-Chininga, a former minister of mines and mining development,
is on a list of more than 100 Zimbabwean officials, including President
Robert Mugabe, banned from entering the European Union because of human
"The visa has been granted, yes, because the name did not correspond to that
on the list," a Belgian foreign ministry spokesman said.
Chindori-Chininga had applied for the visa using only one of his two family
names, the spokesman said.
"Had we had the full name we would have spotted him," the spokesman said,
adding that Chindori-Chininga would then not have been granted a visa.
The Foreign Ministry could not say whether the ex-minister, a lawmaker and
member of the central committee of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party, was
already in Belgium.
The 27-nation EU extended its sanctions on Zimbabwe for a year last month.
They include an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and
other top officials.
The ban can be lifted to allow officials to attend international meetings,
but the Zimbabwean embassy said Chindori-Chininga was not one of three
Zimbabweans due to attend a meeting of the EU-ACP (African, Caribbean and
Pacific) parliamentary assembly in Brussels this week.
Glenys Kinnock, co-chair of the EU-ACP assembly, said she would push for
ZANU-PF officials to be banned from the meetings.
She spoke after Zimbabwean Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his aide
Nelson Chamisa were violently beaten in separate attacks. Both have alleged
they were beaten by government forces.
Mrs Kinnock said: "It is clear that the participation of Zanu-PF delegates
in the meeting would send a terrible signal. Nelson Chamisa's face was
pummelled into the tarmac, and we owe it to Nelson to take a strong and
unequivocal position at this critical time for the people of Zimbabwe."
She went on: "I hope and trust that my ACP colleagues will feel that,
following recent events in Zimbabwe, it is inappropriate for the Zanu-PF
delegation to attend this meeting.
"I regret that the delegation has been granted access to the EU. Although it
is true that none of the delegates appear on the current visa ban list, in
light of the events of the past week, early action should have been taken to
prevent this situation. I hope the EU will make it clear that the delegation
must leave the EU at the earliest opportunity.
"At the same time, the EU must also work to strengthen existing sanctions on
Zimbabwe and impose new, effective targeted personal sanctions against
Zanu-PF and its business associates, and work with Southern African
Development Community to ensure that diplomatic pressure is exerted on
Mugabe has come under heavy criticism for the extreme violence used in his
latest crackdown on the opposition, which he says is bankrolled by Western
A Tory MP has demanded he be stripped of his honourary knighthood.
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett told Andrew Robathan (Blaby) that she
believed he still held the honour but she was more concerned for the welfare
of the people in the country than "whether or not" he had it.
Mr Mugabe was created an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
in 1994. In 2003 the Foreign Affairs Select Committee called for the honour
to be removed.
Mr Robathan accused the Government at Commons question time of being
"dilatory and slothful" over Zimbabwe.
He asked: "Could you say whether or not Robert Mugabe has yet been relieved
of his honorary knighthood because I have yet to discover whether he has."
Mrs Beckett said she "understood and shared" his distress over the situation
in the country. She added: "I believe you are right to say President Mugabe
still retains his honorary knighthood.
"You may wish to give him further publicity by making that the focus of
"I have more concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe than whether
or not Robert Mugabe has an honour he is not entitled to."
From Reuters, 19 March
Brussels - Officials of Zimbabwe's ruling party should be banned from
planned meetings in Brussels this week, a senior European Union lawmaker
said after a series of arrests and attacks on opposition officials in
Harare. Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's chief spokesman
Nelson Chamisa was assaulted and badly injured by a gang at Harare airport
on Sunday, preventing him from flying to Brussels for meetings of EU and ACP
(African, Caribbean and Pacific) lawmakers and officials. "It is clear that
the participation of Zanu PF delegates in the ACP-EU meeting would send a
terrible signal," Glenys Kinnock, co-chair of the EU-ACP parliamentary
assembly said. "We owe it to Nelson to take a strong and unequivocal
position at this critical time for the people of Zimbabwe," she said in a
statement. Images of Tsvangirai going to hospital last week, battered and
limping after being arrested when trying to attend a banned political rally,
fuelled widespread outrage and threats to tighten sanctions against
President Robert Mugabe and leading officials. Kinnock called on the small
group of EU and ACP lawmakers chairing the joint assembly to decide on
Tuesday to ban Zanu PF officials from attending meetings on Wednesday and
Thursday. "At the same time, the EU must also work to strengthen existing
sanctions on Zimbabwe and impose new, effective targeted personal sanctions
against Zanu PF and its business associates," she said. The 27-nation EU
last month extended for a further year its sanctions on Zimbabwe, including
an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and other top
Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:59 PM GMT
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa would be concerned if Zimbabwe's
political tensions spur President Robert Mugabe's government to declare a
state of emergency, the chief government spokesman said on Tuesday.
Themba Maseko told reporters South Africa's chief concern was the human
rights situation in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe's government is accused of a
brutal crackdown on opposition leaders.
But in response to a question about South African media reports that have
said Mugabe could be considering a state of emergency, Maseko said Pretoria
would not favour such a move.
"If a state of emergency were to be declared we would once again as a
government express our concern because our primary worry at this stage is
reported abuse of human rights that is taking place," Maseko told a
post-cabinet media briefing.
There has been no official indication in Harare that a state of emergency is
Regional economic and political powerhouse South Africa has been criticised
by some human rights groups of being soft on Mugabe's government, which
activists last week accused of arresting and beating opposition figures,
including Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
South African President Thabo Mbeki has said Pretoria favours a strategy of
"quiet diplomacy" towards its northern neighbour, but Maseko said South
Africa would continue to communicate its views to Mugabe's government.
"We will continue to express our concerns, but again insist that the need
for dialogue is absolutely essential, because we believe that violence from
any quarter is not a viable solution."
Maseko repeated earlier statements of concern over the "deteriorating"
situation in Zimbabwe and said South Africa stood ready to help.
"Our government is in contact with the key players in Zimbabwe and will
continue to be available to talk to all the relevant stakeholders that can
make a difference," Maseko said.
"We do not agree with a view that says the time for dialogue is past. In
fact the time for dialogue is now, more than ever before ... when you are
beginning to experience loss of life, violence meted out against members of
the opposition, it clearly emphasises the need for parties to start
talking," said Maseko.
South Africa is already bearing the brunt of Zimbabwe's economic collapse,
with an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans in the country illegally seeking to
escape rising joblessness, food shortages and inflation of 1,700 percent.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
20 March, 2007
Late on Monday Professor Arthur Mutambara, President of one faction of the
MDC, simply walked out of a magistrates court room in Harare after waiting
for a hearing for hours with no court officials present. The police who
brought him there from prison had left one by one after the attorney general
refused to prosecute the MDC President and five other respondents. Mutambara
had been detained since Saturday when he was arrested at Harare airport as
he tried to go see his family in South Africa.
The MDC leader has revealed that he was handcuffed and roughed up by police
in the Departure Lounge at the Airport.
The police had wanted to charge him with "inciting public violence" in
connection with the rally stopped illegally by the police last Sunday. But
police did not show up in court or send a representative. Justice Tendai
Uchena then ordered Mutambara to be released and the arrest declared
unlawful. The legal costs were also to be paid by the State.
But instead of releasing him, the police took Mutambara to a magistrates
court early Monday evening, only to find there was no presiding officer.
Lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Harrison Nkomo then served the police with court
orders instructing them to release Professor Mutambara. Not knowing what to
do, the prison officers who had brought the MDC president to court then
started sneaking out of the court room one by one. And some time after they
were left alone, Mutambara and his lawyers simply walked out.
They did discover later that one of the police officers had confiscated the
Professor's mobile phone and passport and fled with them in a pick up truck.
This means Mutambara currently has no travel documents.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
20 March, 2007
In a sudden turnaround South Africa is reported to have decided not to block
a report to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in
Zimbabwe. South Africa's ambassador to the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, had said he
would use the country's position as the current president of the council to
block a request by Britain's UN ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, who had asked
that the council be briefed on the recent assaults on opposition leaders and
In the face of strong global condemnation of the Mugabe regime Kumalo
maintained that he did not think Zimbabwe was a Security Council issue, but
said he could not stop the briefing since his job was to "..facilitate the
work of the council." And trivialising the issue he added: "But all that has
been called for is the Secretariat to brief the council." Again South Africa
avoided making a strong statement against Robert Mugabe.
On the ground in South Africa the African National Congress parliamentary
caucus sent the same mixed messages. The MPs broke their silence over the
crisis in Zimbabwe saying that torture, assault and violence against any
citizen cannot be condoned. But they did not clearly blame the authorities
in Harare for that violence. Local reports in South Africa said the MPs are
usually fearful of being perceived as though they are breaking ranks and
supporting the position of opposition parties.
Pat Craven, acting spokesman for the umbrella labour union COSATU, said the
MP's response was welcome as a first step. But he added that it was a long
way from what is required. Explaining further Craven said: "It's clearly a
huge step forward from the initial response of the government spokesperson
which was merely to note what had happened in Harare which we said at the
time was 'shamefully weak. And we would hope our statement has perhaps in
some small way contributed towards this change."
COSATU has not only been vocal but they have organized several protests in
the last few years supporting their counterparts the Zimbabwean Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU). And in April they will march to the Zimbabwean
consulate in South Africa to support the beginning of a stay-away action
planned by the ZCTU.
Other Opposition parties also called on President Mbeki to adopt a stronger
public stance on Zimbabwe. This includes the Democratic Alliance, the
Inkatha Freedom Party and the Freedom Front Plus which said Mugabe's actions
are undermining the work done by Mbeki to counter negative perceptions of
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
20th Mar 2007 17:36 GMT
By Dennis Rekayi
HARARE - The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says there has
been a sharp escalation in the level of violence against opposition
activists across the country with the number of gunshot victims rising to
The opposition also reports at least 35 more activists with severe bruising,
internal bleeding, broken legs and skull fractures have been admitted at the
Avenues Clinic in Harare.
In Harare, says William Bango, who speaks on behalf of founding MDC
president Morgan Tsvangirai, small groups of Zanu PF youth league and
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives travelling in unmarked
vehicles were targeting known MDC leaders and carrying out arbitrary
Bango spoke as Tsvangirai held a meeting with the South African Ambassador
today. The opposition leader bemoaned the silence from African countries,
especially Zimbabwe's neighbours on the situation in the country.
He said the MDC founding president "expressed grave concern that regional
and African leaders were standing by mute while these atrocities were being
perpetrated by one of their number. He said it made a complete mockery of
all that South Africa had stood for since they achieved their own transition
to a open, democratic society in 1994"
South Africa was recently attacked by many for its muted response to the
arrests and assaults of pro-democracy leaders ahead of a planned prayer
meeting and the killing of an MDC-NCA activist as the police brutally
crushed any efforts to have the event take place in the Zimbabwe Grounds.
Bango says violence against the opposition has been escalating since. He
said the danger of the whole escalating situation was that it was fast
getting to a point where some people would want to retaliate.
"The activists are then being held in Police custody or taken to known
torture centres such as the one at Goromonzi and Hopely Farm where they are
being systematically beaten. None of these individuals is being charged with
any offence or brought to Court," said Bango.
"Today the Avenues Hospital in Harare has taken in another 35 severely
injured MDC leaders - the number injured with gun shot wounds is now six,
with one new case last night, the rest have similar injuries to the ones we
have already seen. Severe bruising, internal bleeding, broken legs and arms
and skull fractures," Tsvangirai's spokesperson said.
Similar stories were coming in from centres all over the country, he said
with all the injured being dealt with in private hospitals. State hospitals
were instructed not to take in the MDC activists, no matter what their
This follows a meeting of Zanu PF Youth League in Harare addressed at the
weekend by President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe reportedly said the Youth League had a "blank cheque" to sort out the
leadership of the MDC in the townships.
"The danger in this situation is that the people are being driven to the
point where retaliation will become inevitable," Bango said.
He narrated a story in which a young activist in Bulawayo today reported
that he had been harassed and intimidated by government agents for being an
"He was approached by two policemen who after accusing him of being a MDC
leader and stating that they could "come for him anytime", the one beat him
with a rubber baton. When he resisted he was arrested and was held without
charge for four days. During this time he was repeatedly beaten and a bone
in his hand has been broken. He is now so angry that he is determined to get
Adds Bango: "To emphasise the deliberate and planned nature of these
attacks, the Herald has now run, on two separate weekends, an open threat by
Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba - writing under the nom de plume,
Nathaniel Manheru, that the government was going to deal with the MDC using
all the violence that is necessary to curb their activities."
In his latest article, Charamba went even further to warn that there was
"seething anger in camps and barracks by the uniformed forces" and "woe
betide the unfortunate back on whom the blows will land."
"There should be no question in the mind of observers that the violence
being perpetrated by agents of the State and Zanu PF at present are either
casual activities or without careful planning and direction. They bear all
the trademarks of a deliberate attempt to crush all legitimate, legal and
democratic resistance to the regime," he said.
20th Mar 2007 18:02 GMT
By Nyasha Nyakunu
ADVOCATE Pansy Tlakula, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of
the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, has sent an urgent
letter of appeal to President Mugabe regarding the deteriorating situation
of Freedom of Expression in Zimbabwe.
Tlakula sent the letter following a complaint that she received from the
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe) and the Media Monitoring
Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) whilst visiting Zimbabwe at the end of last week.
The complaint relates to the assault, unlawful detention, harassment and
detention of a number of journalists and media practitioners.
According to the complaint "journalists, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi and Tendai
Musiyazviriyo were severely assaulted by the police following their arrest
on 11 March 2007 when the police disrupted a national prayer day in
Highfield that had been organized under the auspices of the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign. Of great concern was that Mukwazhi's whereabouts remained unknown
until his appearance in court on 13 March 2007 as the police withheld
information about his whereabouts to his lawyers who were denied access to
the detained journalists. The two journalists were subsequently taken to
hospital for treatment following the assaults. To date they have not been
formally charged despite having spent 48 hours in police custody".
"I actually met Tsvangirai Mukwazhi during my visit and I saw with my own
eyes the serious injuries he sustained on his back during the beating by the
police. Not only was he in pain but was also traumatised by the experience.
His eyes were full of tears as he was narrating to me the incidents of the
11 March. His car, equipment and laptop were also confiscated by the
police," Tlakula said.
Tlakula says she also brought to Mugabe's attention the complaints of three
other journalists who were arrested last year whilst conducting their lawful
duties as journalists.
She has called upon Mugabe to respect the rights enshrined in the African
Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, to which Zimbabwe is a State Party, in
particular Article 9 of the Charter which guarantees every individual's
right to receive information and express and disseminate their opinions
within the law and the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression in
Africa which states that "freedom of expression and information, including
the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, either orally,
in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other form of
communication, including across frontiers, is a fundamental and inalienable
human right and an indispensable component of democracy."
"There seem to be a consistent and worrying trend developing in some parts
of the continent where Freedom of Expression is under attack. Initially this
attack used to take the form of either undue restriction or outright ban of
the private media in particular. Recently we are seeing an increase in the
incidents of arrests, unlawful detention, assault, harassment,
disappearances, death in detention and murder of journalists and media
practitioners in countries that are member states to the African Charter on
Human and Peoples' Rights. These heinous acts are sadly perpetrated against
journalists while conducting their lawful duties. The Gambia , Eritrea and
Zimbabwe are a few cases in point", Tlakula said.
Tlakula said Mugabe should ensure that his government upheld the rule of law
and desists from wanton arrest and torture of journalists.
Daily Mail, UK
Last updated at 18:09pm on 20th March 2007
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe should be stripped of his honorary
knighthood, a Tory MP demanded today.
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett told Andrew Robathan, MP for Blaby in
Leicestershire, that she believed he still held the honour but she was more
concerned for the welfare of the people in the country than 'whether or not'
he had it.
Mr Mugabe was created an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
in 1994. In 2003 the Foreign Affairs Select Committee called for the honour
to be removed.
Mr Robathan accused the Government at Commons question time of being
'dilatory and slothful' over Zimbabwe.
He asked: "Could you say whether or not Robert Mugabe has yet been relieved
of his honorary knighthood because I have yet to discover whether he has."
Mrs Beckett said she 'understood and shared' his distress over the situation
in the country.
She added: "I believe you are right to say President Mugabe still retains
his honorary knighthood.
"You may wish to give him further publicity by making that the focus of
"I have more concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe than whether
or not Robert Mugabe has an honour he is not entitled to."
Here's what readers have had to say so far.
Stripped of his Knighthood! Are you serious? Where is the International
Court in the Hague that was put in place to stop these despots from
persecuting their own people.
- David, London
Margaret Beckett is concerned for the people of Zimbabwe. Well, her
'concern' will really help them won't it? Perhaps whilst she is sitting
around being 'concerned' and doing absolutely nothing to help the people of
Zimbabwe, she could put wheels in motion to strip Mugabe of his honorary
knighthood, or perhaps she can't even manage that.
- Margaret Jones, Worcester, UK
More than stripping this maniac of his honorary knighthood, this is a
genuine case where Britain should be sending in troops to arrest Mugabe and
free the people from their abject poverty and suffering. Why is Blair and
Brown so weak on the issue of Zimbabwe?
- R J Cook, Welwyn Garden City
The Voice (Francistown)
March 20, 2007
Posted to the web March 20, 2007
African leaders are mum on what is happening in Zimbabwe. The silence is
deafening. We fail to understand why a country can be left to go to ashes
while neighbouring leaders watch and shrug.
We have enough problems and do not wish to interfere in the affairs of
another country. But the recent beating and detention of opposition leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai and the violence that erupted in Zimbabwe has left a
hollow feeling in our stomachs. We don't know what caused the violence but
we are worried that the unrest in Zimbabwe will spill over to our country.
As more and more Zimbabweans become discontent, Botswana becomes a haven and
a refuge. Faced with our own unemployment issues we are not able to absorb
all the Zimbabweans and most turn to crime in a bid to survive. Some even
turn into murderers.
We are still reeling in shock at the senseless brutal slaying of our former
Debswana colleague and my student, Irene Wanani Nthoi. Four young
Zimbabweans aged between 18 and 29 were arrested and charged with the murder
of Nthoi, a soft spoken mother, whose death has shocked the nation as a
Where are Africa's leaders? Don't they have the balls to take Mugabe to task
even if it is in the name of African Renaissance,
The African Renaissance is a concept popularized by South African President
Thabo Mbeki in which the African people and nations are called upon to solve
the many problems troubling the African continent.
Isn't Zimbabwe, a troubled country which needs assistance? Or is the African
Renaissance one of these trendy cliches like 'empowerment'; 'diversity',
'social responsibility'; 'affirmative action' and others which roll smooth
on the tongue but with no action.
It is high time African leaders including our own Mr President Festus Mogae
take a stance on the Zimbabwe situation.
Failure to act will result in more of the senseless butchering of our
citizens, as well as Zimbabweans who oppose Tyrant Bob Mugabe and his
And this is not to mention the other bloody criminal acts perpetuated by
unhappy and discontent Zimbabweans living in a country where bread, mealie
meal and other necessities have become luxuries.
There are many Zimbabweans who bring the expertise we need in our country.
But how will we be able to distinguish the good from the butchers. Most
Zimbabweans are efficient and productive compared to our fellow citizens,
most of whom want a quick buck without putting in the hard work required.
But the chilling death of an Indian man last year, in a murder master-minded
by his housekeeper and the current brutal execution of Nthoi, have left us
stunned and with mixed feelings.
Our blood ran cold when we heard how the young men who killed Nthoi, put
nails on the road and hid in the bush in wait for a victim.
Nthoi became their victim and in cold blood they murdered an unarmed and
These horrific incidents bother us while the King of all dictators, Robert
Tyrant Mugabe celebrates his birthdays in lavish style while his people
Where are the African leaders... we ask again? The crisis and tyranny in
Zimbabwe cannot be ignored any longer. We plead with African leaders to act
and ask Mugabe to free Zimbabwe and to stop further spilling of innocent
blood in our soil and in Zimbabwe.
Cape Argus (Cape Town)
March 20, 2007
Posted to the web March 20, 2007
Zimbabwe has issued guns to its previously unarmed police force, setting the
stage for the terrifying reality that at the smallest sign of civil
disturbance police now have their leaders' blessing to resort to using live
ammunition against citizens in the streets.
Mugabe's comments on recent events, broadcast to the world at the weekend,
suggest that the framework within which he makes his decisions has tip-ped
into frank paranoia.
He warns that his erstwhile confidants are plotting with foreign governments
against him, that opposition party members are responsible for acts of
terrorism across the country and that those who misbehave must expect to be
Where are the acts of terror he is shoring up his country against? Who does
he think the police need to be ready to shoot?
To the outside world there would seem to have been singularly muted action
against the government. Mugabe's brutally supressed opponents are hardly
beating at the gate. Every attempt to express a view is seemingly considered
worthy of the most vicious putdown.
If anyone has any doubt that the man is operating in another dimension, his
display at the weekend was instructive. His demeanour at the Harare
International Women's Day rally and the way he nuanced his verbal delivery
to make his threats were among the more chilling displays that we've seen
from a political leader of the modern era.
The warning by the International Crisis Group that Zimbabwe is at a tipping
point where something as innocent as a traffic accident could spark a
confrontation with catastrophic results appears to have been cynically
heeded. Mugabe is setting the stage to ensure that in such an event his
forces will remain ascendant, with scant regard for the lives of the
countrymen he is meant to be serving.
By Tichaona Sibanda
20 March 2007
The country's main opposition party on Tuesday claimed that Robert Mugabe is
pushing Zimbabwe towards the brink of a civil war as a last ditch effort to
obliterate the opposition.
The MDC's secretary for Foreign Affairs Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro said
Mugabe is happy to see the political crisis pushing towards a major upheaval
because it will give him an excuse to crush any uprising. Failure by the
SADC states to intervene quickly will result in the region plunging into
chaos, according to Mukonoweshuro.
'The man has gone mad to preserve his power base. We are on the brink of a
major catastrophe. He wants the situation to disintegrate to a point where
no rules will apply in quelling the disturbances,' Mukonoweshuro said.
As anti-government protests rage across the country, the embattled regime
has responded by intensifying its efforts to silence and crush the
opposition using deadly force.
Mukonoweshuro said 'thousands and thousands' of their supporters have been
brutalised in the last week and many have been left hospitalised as a
result. He said many more were afraid to go to major hospitals for fear
state security agents will arrest them.
In the last week police shot and killed Gift Tandare an MDC activist and
have left many others with gunshot wounds. The regime has also intensified
efforts to prevent or break up peaceful assemblies by the opposition,
sometimes using brutal means.
According to Mukonoweshuro the deteriorating situation in the country has
sunk to such depths that it cannot be resolved internally. He said since the
regime has taken up arms against its own citizens, the matter should be
resolved using regional or international mediators.
'The crisis has reached a point where calls should be made for a combined
approach between the region, continent and international community. This
should be done in haste because any delays will see the situation plunging
further into chaos,' Mukonoweshuro.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
The East African (Nairobi)
March 20, 2007
Posted to the web March 20, 2007
In Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, and his colleagues were arrested after a rally in Harare.
At the police station, the cops set upon them with fists, batons, boots and
It is normal for opposition leaders to be arrested and beaten up in Africa
in general, and in Zimbabwe in particular, so that was expected.
What was surprising was what followed next.
The MDC leaders later appeared in court in bandages, looking obviously
beaten up. Tsvangirai had a hugely swollen eye, a gash on the head, and was
limping. His skull had been cracked.
As this column went to press, he was still in hospital.
THAT IS THE SURPRISING bit; usually, the Mugabes of this world do not allow
the world to see the evidence of their torture. They either kill off their
opponent, or let them rot in jail and bury the evidence in their good time.
The East African Standard
19 March 2007
NAIROBI: President Robert Mugabe's gleaming motorcade snaked its way into
the clinic where Zimbabwean Opposition leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was
grappling with pain.
Hovering unseen above him were the angels of death. His face was swollen and
one side of his head clean-shaven to make it easy for doctors to stitch the
wound opened up by the rungus (club) of Mugabe's brutes.
The master of iniquitous tyranny was not rushing to see Tsvangirai.
No, lying on the hospital bed, alongside dozens of frail Zimbabweans
clobbered by riot police last Sunday, was his ailing sister, Sabina.
He arrived at the hospital as doctors prepared Tsvangirai, who was confined
to the ICU, for a brain scan.
During the savage beating, as police fought to stop the 'Save Zimbabwe'
prayer meeting, the country reinforced the image of modern day Apartheid
South Africa. It also showed how far Mugabe the freedom hero and former
detainee has degenerated. He has fought many wars, including with
homosexuals and lesbians who plotted his arrest in the UK for saying they
were worse than pigs and dogs.
Bob did not let out a word as he passed by the bed on which Tendai Biti, the
secretary-general of the MDC, who was also clobbered, was lying, on the way
to see his sister. The coincidence of Bob's sister's admission to the
hospital and that of the victims of his brutal force is a clear reminder of
the mortality of humanity.
At 83, Mugabe is clearly a man in the sunset of his days. But he carries
himself as a President for Life. That is why, on the flimsy excuse that
elections are expensive and will hurt the economy, he is pushing for the
postponement of next year's poll to 2010. That is two more years for Mugabe
squeezed out of an illegality.
Yet he holds the unbeaten distinction of transforming his nation from a
breadbasket to a basket case. Inflation is now more than 1,700 per cent, the
highest in the globe. Unemployment is more than 80 per cent and Zimbabwe has
the world's lowest life expectancy - 34 years for women and 37 for men - and
one in four children, a Unicef report says, are orphans.
From a food exporter, the country is now grappling with chronic food, fuel
and foreign exchange shortages. But though compulsory acquisition of land
from White owners and transferring the chunks to the 'patriots' has won him
accolades at home, it has punctured the economic wheel.
But Mugabe's biggest war appears to be with the Opposition, not the stunted
economy of his nation.
His pride and bravado are legendary. Sample a characteristic
speech: "We have said we will never collapse, never ever. We may have our
droughts, our poverty, but as a people we shall never collapse, never ever.
We pride ourselves as being top, really, on the African ladder. We feel that
we have actually been advancing rather than going backwards."
On paper, Uncle Bob is not a mad man - he is well educated, was brought up
the Jesuit way and has on his CV lines that bespeak of one of Africa's
Though degrees are not necessarily evidence of sophistry and political
prowess, Mugabe scores highly in this field. The following are listed
against his name: BSc (Economics) Fort Hare University; BSc (Econ)
University of London by distance learning; BEd University of London by
distance learning; LLB University of London by distance learning; BAdm
University of South Africa by distance learning; LLM University of London by
distance learning and MSc (Econ) University of London by distance learning.
Several honorary degrees he was awarded are in the process of being
So what is wrong with the man? Could he be too involved in 'distance
learning'? His greatest friends are in Iran, Venezuela and Cuba. A man
describes how his wife, Ms Sekai Holland, 64, was beaten during the Sunday
savagery: "She's been beaten all over her body. She's got lacerations, very
extensive bruising in her case there were 15 thugs taking turns and a woman
jumping on her with her boots. When they finished, they deliberately broke
her arm and foot and then forced her to walk on it."
It is in stories about the Mugabes of this world that you understand why
many in the West call Africa the Forgotten, or more bluntly, the Lost
Continent. Sadly, Mugabe is not alone. There are still Presidents in Africa
who seem to have taken lessons from the likes of Idi Amin Dada and
In Gambia, the President is a self-proclaimed medicineman specialised in
managing HIV/Aids complications using bananas and herbs. He administers it
himself. In Guinea, a sick President plotting to die in office is at war
with his people and in Ethiopia, journalists and human rights activists fill
the prisons. There is a little of that too in Kenya. Is Africa the cursed
The writer is The Standard Managing Editor, Weekend Editions
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
20 March 2007
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) expresses grave
concern over the continuing violation of the health rights of opposition
party leaders, in particularly Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland. Both Kwinjeh
and Holland were tortured in police custody on Sunday 11 March 2007 and
sustained serious injuries as follows:
Sekai Holland - Multiple fractures to her left leg and left arm, severe,
extensive and multiple soft tissue injuries to the back, shoulders, arms,
buttocks and thighs. Injuries sustained by Sekai Holland were also worsened
by denial of timely access to medical treatment which led to an infection of
deep soft tissue in her left leg.
Grace Kwinjeh - A split right ear lobe, severe, extensive and multiple soft
tissue injuries to the back, shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs and a
The two women were prevented from seeking further medical attention in South
Africa on Saturday 17 March 2007 when they were prevented from boarding an
air ambulance and forcibly taken from Harare International Airport to Harare
Central Police Station. Their travel documents were subsequently confiscated
by Assistant Commissioner Mabunda of the Law and Order Section at Harare
Central Police Station. At Harare Central Police Station the ambulance was
instructed to take Kwinjeh and Holland back to the Avenues Clinic where they
were placed under police guard.
Kwinjeh and Holland have a right to seek medical care at institutions of
their choice. ZADHR calls upon the authorities that are currently violating
this right to allow these two women to seek the medical care they have
On Sunday 18 March 2007, Nelson Chamisa, who was previously tortured on
Sunday 11 March 2007 was attacked at Harare International Airport sustaining
a fractured right orbit and sub-conjunctival haemorrhage (under the lining
of the eye) as well as multiple lacerations on the face.
ZADHR condemns the continuing violations of health rights of Zimbabwean
citizens and requests the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, ZiMA and
other regional national medical associations to take a position on this
matter and apply the influence in their capacity to put an end to these
6th Floor, Beverly Court, 100 Nelson Mandela Ave, Harare
Tel: 708118, 251468, 705370 Fax: 705641
PO Box CY 2415, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
The silence from the world's democratic nations about the horrific situation
in Zimbabwe is deafening.
When the nation, as Rhodesia, was governed under white rule, the left wing
Marxist/Leninist organisations protested to the point of obsession.
As Robert Mugabe's government systematically destroys this once prosperous
nation, its African neighbours look the other way and the West wears
blinkers. Aided and abetted by communist-type pressure groups, it was
Western democracies that helped Mugabe into power.
We now have a responsibility to speak out loud and clear about his
Ian Smith's misdemeanours pale into insignificance when compared against
those of Mugabe's regime, yet the groups once so concerned about Zimbabwe's
black population have no words of condemnation.
Cllr Robin Newton MLA Belfast
By Mary Revesai
Last updated: 03/20/2007 23:30:33
THE struggle of the Robert Mugabe regime's propaganda machine to shape and
manage the news has escalated since the announcement of the clampdown on the
holding of political rallies about three weeks ago, and the subsequent
unleashing of a reign of terror against opposition groups and their leaders.
The officially instigated violence culminated in the cold-blooded shooting
of a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist and the brutal battering
of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
chairman Lovemore Madhuku and scores of opposition activists, including two
defenceless women, Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh.
Ironically, as Kwinjeh and Holland lay in hospital nursing serious injuries,
Zimbabwe's 83-year-old president was holding fort at an International Women's
Day commemoration about his regimes commitment to eradicating domestic
violence. The octogenarian was reported by the state media to have expressed
shock at the extent of gender-based violence within Zimbabwean society.
Without a hint of irony, he stressed that women are precious because they
are the "mothers of life". Predictably, he received a deafening round of
ululation from the assembled women. The tragedy is that if he had chosen to
poke fun at Kwinjeh and Holland's brutal battering, the women would have
been equally obliged to show approval.
"Assaults and sexual crimes in different homes are dealt with as if they
have occurred between strangers. The Domestic Violence Act will protect
victims of violence as well as prevent violence and its devastating effects"
But after listening to his earlier diatribe against the MDC and Western
diplomats based in Harare, whom he accused of conspiring with the opposition
to remove "a democratically elected government", one would have known that
the strongman was shedding crocodile tears for the sole purpose of
canvassing the women's vote,
Mugabe, who once boasted of having degrees in violence, is too hard-hearted
to support any initiative to stamp out violence on the basis of principle
and human decency. After all, following the battering of opposition leaders,
he gloated while addressing the Zanu PF Youth League: "They will get
arrested and get bashed by the police. If they want to fight the police, the
police have a right to bash ."
Obviously this is not language that should be used by a head of state who is
supposed to be the protector of all citizens, but the uncompromising Mugabe
relishes resorting to bombast whenever he sees an opportunity to grandstand
before a captive audience. He used equally crude language in an earlier
harangue against Western envoys whose governments he accuses of plotting to
effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
Regrettably, Mugabe's fighting talk, which should be regarded as the
outbursts of a senile and doddering old man, is regarded as gospel by his
team of angry spin doctors. They forget that while propaganda can be potent,
it is not omnipotent. Opinion is shaped more by events than by words.
Consequently, no matter how shrill the denunciations of these attack dogs
can become, no decent human being with a conscience can accept that ordering
the "bashing" of fellow human beings is a noble act for a government to be
In normal persuasive campaigns, the propagandist seeks to put highlights on
the good and soften the unfavourable with shadows. This approach recognises
the existence of other communicators with their own searchlights to cast
revealing glares into the dark corners of Mugabe's dictatorship. But Mugabe
is so obsessed with exhibiting bravado that his regime revels in flaunting
its own misdeeds and then becomes livid when they are roundly condemned.
His propagandists seem incapable of appreciating the fact they cannot gloat
about the "bashing" of opposition personalities and expect anyone except the
most gullible; to believe their fabricated claims that the two MDC factions
are plotting to remove the government violently. A six-year old video of
Tsvangirai speaking at a rally is regularly aired on television to buttress
this tired theme and justify the regime's crackdown on freedom of assembly
and expression. They resort to archival footage because they cannot come up
with a coherent explanation for the on-going atrocities. Despite fabricating
the most unlikely tales, the spin doctors know that the barbaric acts being
perpetrated against innocent citizens are motivated by Mugabe's paranoia,
which has been exacerbated by his troubles within the ruling party itself.
As was the case with Operation Murambatsvina, which was a crime against
humanity, a fabrication is being belatedly bandied about that the government
clamped down on opposition groups because it had intelligence information
showing that foreign powers were sponsoring violence against it through
them. Mugabe's attack dogs seem oblivious to the fact that excessive
fabrication and exaggeration is counterproductive. It irritates all right
thinking people who can see right through the falsehoods and attempts to
Nevertheless, the regime's clumsy attempts to whip up passions continue
unabated. One moment it is police spokesman Wayne Budzijena brandishing an
object that looks like a crude swastika as an example of the weapons
supposedly being brought into the country by the MDC. The next moment, the
Dear Leader himself is telling the Zanu PF Youth League that the MDC pays
unemployed youths US$100 per day to commit acts of violence.
Suddenly it is Nathaniel Manheru's turn to rail against CNN and the BBC for
being the sources of Zimbabwe's troubles. While he is at it, the raging
Manheru cannot resist the urge to make fun of Tsvangirai's "chubby face" and
then proceeds to express exasperation at the West's lack of sympathy for two
police women whose "scalded faces turned completely white after an alleged
attack by MDC arsonists".
He overlooks the fact that the regime he defends so passionately is yet to
bridge the credibility chasm it created when it stage-managed the brutal
murder of Cain Nkala in Bulawayo in 2001 in order to discredit the
opposition. Nothing has changed since then and as one cynic says, "You
cannot put anything past the Mugabe regime."
Mary Revesai is a New Zimbabwe.com columnist and writes from Harare. Her
column will appear here every Tuesday
Tue, 20 Mar 2007
Preventing people from burying their dead - as had happened with Zimbabwean
Movement for Democratic Change activist Gift Tandare recently - is one of
the most despicable acts in the history of the Zimbabwe regime, Independent
Democrats (ID) leader Patricia de Lille said on Tuesday.
De Lille said: "To prevent people from burying their dead is one of the most
despicable acts in the history of this repressive regime. I call on
President [Thabo] Mbeki, the African Union and the international community
to step in and end the torture and abuse of Zimbabweans who simply oppose
the [President Robert] Mugabe regime."
De Lille spokesperson, Steve Otter, said De Lille's comments followed news
that Tandare's body had been "stolen" by members of the Zimbabwean
intelligence services at the weekend.
She noted that Tandare's father was forced at gunpoint to attend the
unscheduled funeral, while the rest of the family and others who wanted to
attend were excluded.
Tandare had been shot and killed in a confrontation with Mugabe's police
service on 11 March, she noted. He had been on the way to a prayer meeting
in Highfield, Harare, with 50 other MDC supporters, the ID leader noted.
De Lille said Mbeki "must now finally take the lead in bringing an end the
fascist regime of erstwhile comrade Robert Mugabe which is reaching new lows
of abuse and repression".
She noted that two women who were both severely assaulted in the same
incident have been refused permission to seek medical treatment in South
On Sunday MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa was beaten up at Harare Airport.
This followed last week's incident in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had
been beaten by the Zimbabwean police.
Meanwhile, the MDC's economics spokesperson Eddie Cross reports from
Bulawayo that on Sunday night 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 domestic worker where Marikeba was - she said he'd
only be back after work, reported the MDC.
When he arrived home in the late afternoon he was shot in the legs with a
shotgun from the twin cab, which then drove off at a high speed. He is in
hospital recovering from the gun shot wounds.
The MDC said the intention of the regime was "to immobilise, physically and
psychologically all those involved in the organisation of the Movement for
Democratic Change. And this is done brutally and with absolute impunity. The
instructions come from the very top".
"This is the Zanu-PF's purge of the opposition leadership and all those
involved in the brave fight for peaceful and democratic change," the
official opposition in Zimbabwe said.
March 20 2007 at 02:36PM
Harare - President Robert Mugabe's government has declared 2007 a
drought year citing poor and erratic rains, the official Herald said on
New Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo said crops in some areas were a
complete write-off, the paper reported.
Zimbabwe has suffered poor harvests since Mugabe launched his
programme of white land seizures in 2000. Low yields have consistently been
blamed upon drought by the authorities.
Government critics however lay much of the blame on the inexperience
of new black farmers and in some cases their lack of dedication. Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono recently said some of the new farmers were "lazy."
The agriculture minister said the dry spell had not only affected
traditionally drought prone areas in the south of the country. Crops in the
greenbelt areas of Mashonaland and Manicaland had also suffered, he said.
Last week the authorities said they expected to harvest only one third
of Zimbabwe's annual required maize crop, which stands at 1,8-million tons.
The official grain procurement body has already started importing 400
000 tons of maize, the Herald said, a financial commitment that will weigh
heavily upon foreign currency-starved Zimbabwe. - Sapa-dpa
Thirty-year old Nelson is waiting and hoping for a mass riot. Like many
other residents of the Highfield township in Harare, he knows Zimbabwe is on
"Every day there are protests over food prices, the lack of bread and other
shortages," he told Socialist Worker.
"A large section of the population is so desperate that anything is possible
in Zimbabwe now. Prices in the shops rise almost by the hour - inflation is
officially 1,700 percent!
"It is rare to have a job, nearly everyone I know is unemployed. HIV/Aids is
killing very many people.
"On the one hand people face the most harsh treatment from the police and
the authorities. On the other, they know they must struggle to survive.
"Can the feeling for change overcome the fear of the baton and the jail and
"We need a clear lead from organisations that are rooted in the people and
can be trusted by the people, bodies that are not going to run away when the
going becomes tough or who will allow the regime to continue with a few new
faces in charge.
"It was here in Highfield that the Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was so severely assaulted earlier this month.
"We respect his courage. We ask him to show more courage and to rally the
people for united resistance.
"The stayaway from work on 3-4 April, which has been called by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions, must become a focus for all who hate the
government of president Robert Mugabe. There have been strikes by teachers,
doctors, nurses and civil servants. We need more action like this."
Certainly Zimbawe is ripe for change. There is turmoil at the top of society
as well as the bottom. The ruling Zanu-PF party, which has been in charge
for 27 years, is now deeply divided.
Mugabe has been pushing for the presidential ballot scheduled for 2008 to be
delayed until 2010 so, he said, that it can take place at the same time as
the parliamentary election due that year.
But official sources within the government have acknowledged that this plan
goes too far for many of Mugabe's supporters and may be abandoned.
Some senior Zanu-PF figures would like to get rid of the 83 year old Mugabe,
regularise relations with the world's powers, and get on with working
alongside business in a "new Zimbabwe".
But such transitions are always a gamble. They involve confronting strong
interests inside the ruling group and are never simple or smooth.
A Zimbabwean policeman told the UN's IRIN news network of the "unbearable
conditions" the police now face as a result of the political tension.
"When violence breaks out due to political disturbances, work becomes
unbearable for us as police officers. Since February we have not been
allowed to go off duty or on leave," he said.
"Our bosses say the police force is understaffed and no-one should even
think of taking a rest. That means we are on duty 24 hours a day.
"The pressure is even greater for us who are attached to PISI [the
intelligence unit] because we have to be out, in plain clothes, gathering
information on who is saying what and whether there are plans to carry out
rallies or demonstrations, and where," he complained.
"People are growing increasingly angry with the police and army, as they say
we are being used by the government to beat them up, yet we are simply be
carrying out orders. It is not that we like to beat up people, no.
"Remember, some of them are our relatives, friends and neighbours. But we
have to safeguard our jobs - employment is difficult to find these days, and
I have a family to look after."
The police could split if there was a coordinated push for action by MDC
leaders. Tsvangirai and his colleagues bear a heavy responsibility.
But there are other forces that will try to derail real change.
The US is pursuing a twin-track strategy. On the one hand it keeps channels
clear to certain figures inside the regime, such as Gideon Gono, the
governor of Zimbabwe's reserve bank.
His neoliberal polices have been noted by the International Monetary Fund,
which has been loath to cut off Zimbabwe.
But the US is also trying to co-opt the opposition. Last week US secretary
of state Condoleezza Rice presented an award to Jenni Williams as one of ten
"International Women of Courage". Williams is national coordinator of Women
Of Zimbabwe Arise, an organisation that defied Mugabe's governments to hold
successful protests last month.
The butchers of Iraq will not deliver freedom for the people of Zimbabwe.
But if the feeling in the townships and the villages can be focused on 3
April, the ruthless regime may be shown to be much weaker than it appears.
By Lance Guma
20 March 2007
Members of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign met on Tuesday and resolved to hold a
'healing service' for slain activist Gift Tandare this week. Although no
firm date has been confirmed one of the organisers Earnest Mudzengi told
Newsreel that Thursday was the most likely date. Various stakeholders in the
matter are still being consulted but what has come out is that a church will
be used as the venue. Tandare, a member of the National Constitutional
Assembly and Movement for Democratic Change, was shot dead by police two
Sundays ago during a planned prayer rally in Harare.
Mudzengi said the Save Zimbabwe Campaign will have the service as a way of
showing compassion for Tandare and his family in light of the manner in
which he was killed. Asked whether they risked further police brutality in
light of the state's determination to block people gathering to mourn
Tandare, Mudzengi maintained they would still go ahead with the service. He
narrated the sombre atmosphere at the Tandare home and how his family is
struggling to cope with the tragic loss. The situation is made worse by the
fact he was the sole breadwinner and left behind a wife and three children.
State security agents are alleged to have abducted his body from Doves
funeral parlour at gunpoint. They then drove to Glen View and grabbed a few
people who were driven to Mt Darwin for the funeral, without his relatives
and friends. Earlier in the week the chief in Mt Darwin had refused to have
Tandare, saying he was a 'sellout' who supported the opposition. MDC
officials say government was desperate to ensure there wasn't a huge funeral
procession for Tandare, fearing it would become a focal point for further
Mudzengi was also keen to dismiss government spin that the state intervened
because the MDC and NCA were arguing over funeral arrangements. This he said
was not true because all the state holders in the Save Zimbabwe Campaign
contributed to the funeral including the MDC, which bought the coffin. 'All
the government did was take the body for burial to avoid having the funeral
exposing them,' he added.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
20 March 2007
SA IS looking to complete its tenure as the head of the United Nations (UN)
Security Council in the same way as it began - controversially blocking a
security council debate on the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe for purely
technical reasons, writes Wyndham Hartley.
This follows the first decision taken by SA after taking the chairmanship of
the council, when SA voted against holding a debate on the human rights
abuses in Burma (Myanmar) because it said the matter properly belonged in
the Human Rights Council.
This time it was the turn of Zimbabwe, with SA's ambassador to the UN,
Dumisani Kumalo, opposing a briefing and a debate in the security council
for the same reason.
The Swazi Observer
By Mbongiseni Ndzimandze
MEMBERS of Parliament have since urged government to say something on the
issue of Zimbabwe, which they said was now getting out of hand.
The MPs felt that government should issue a statement condemning such, since
many lives are lost under the present state of affairs in that country.
First to raise the concern was Mtfongwaneni MP Mfomfo Nkambule, who stated
that this was a serious issue and that government should issue a statement
condemning such so that the world could know the country's stand.
He was supported by other MPs who felt that government should not wait for
SADC to issue a statement but must quickly declare its stand.
Also supporting Nkambule was Kukhanyeni MP Clement Dlamini who said
government should issue a statement and not to wait for SADC to act first
before they say something.
The members agreed that a motion forwarded to government to issue a
statement based on what was happening in that country.
On the other hand the minister of foreign affairs and trade, Mathendele
Dlamini, said government would follow the stipulated ways when it was to
comment on the issue of Zimbabwe and could not just jump in without those
The members on the other hand felt that Swaziland should say something
because the SADC board, which was mandated to look after the issue of that
country, went there to see for themselves what was happening and up to now
they had done nothing.
The minister then promised the members that the issue would be given the
On the other hand, the legislators wanted to know what government was doing
on the issue of the disaster that is presently ravaging the country.
The members felt that the minister concerned should give them a clear
explanation of what was really being done by government, so that they could
report back to their constituencies.
They felt that government should treat the Multi Drug Resistant TB.ssue
should be treated with the urgency it deserved.
In another development, Siphofaneni Member of Parliament Gundwane Gamedze
made a startling revelation when he told the house that there were health
institutions in the Lubombo region that had been without electricity for
some months now.
He stated that in a certain hospital he was called by the nurses who told
him that electricity bills were last paid in November last year.
Gamedze stated that he had since reported the matter with the acting
minister of health, Thandi Shongwe, who promised hat she would sort the
matter as soon as possible.
However, Speaker Prince Guduza felt that it was going to be improper for the
house to deliberate on that issue since the relevant minister was not
The Jamaica Observer
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Having already established his credentials as one of the world's most
despotic leaders, Mr Robert Mugabe, it appears, has grown even more
iniquitous and is determined that Zimbabwe should not function as a
democracy as long as he remains president.
In his regime's latest act of repression, Opposition politicians have been
badly beaten by security forces to the point where they have had to be
hospitalised. Last week, the swollen face of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, the
leader of the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was
transmitted across the world, sparking international condemnation.
In yesterday's edition of the Daily Observer we saw the bloodied face of Mr
Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the MDC who, according to an Agence France
Press (AFP) report, was stopped on his way out of the country and beaten by
So severe was the beating inflicted on Mr Chamisa that he had to undergo
surgery at hospital, his colleagues told AFP.
Mr Chamisa was the fourth member of the Opposition prevented from leaving
the country on the weekend.
Mr Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway faction of the MDC, was
re-arrested on Saturday at Harare International Airport and charged with
inciting public violence; and activists Grace Kwinje and Sekai Holland, who,
it was reported, wanted to go to neighbouring South Africa for medical
attention after being beaten by security forces on March 11, were also
barred from leaving Zimbabwe.
It is the nature of corrupt regimes to try to camouflage their misdeeds, as
exposure will lead, ultimately, to their downfall.
It is clear from its actions against these opposition politicians at the
weekend that the Mugabe administration was trying desperately to ensure that
the world would not learn further of the atrocities being committed by the
Government of Zimbabwe against the people it was put in power to serve.
Mr Chamisa's trip, it appeared, posed the biggest threat, as he was to
travel to Brussels where he would have met with European Union officials, as
well as media barons, and would no doubt have informed them first-hand of
what was happening in Zimbabwe.
Thankfully, however, this is the age of instant communication, and the kind
of evil that is being imposed on the people of Zimbabwe by Mr Mugabe and his
cabal is highly unlikely to be suppressed.
Quite frankly, any leader who resorts to beating, jailing and seizing the
passports of opponents, muzzling the media and rigging elections does not
deserve to be in power. And this message needs to be forcefully told to Mr
Mugabe, who has squandered the goodwill that accompanied the anti-apartheid
liberation struggles in southern Africa, most notably in his own country
when its racist white rulers oppressed him and his people.
We in Jamaica feel particularly betrayed by Mr Mugabe, for this country was
among those at the forefront of the anti-apartheid campaign, so much so that
after the fall of the Ian Smith regime, our very own Bob Marley was invited
to perform at the celebrations marking the birth of Zimbabwe.
It is now time, we believe, that the world community lends its full support
to the opposition who have vowed to "do anything by democratic means" to
defeat Mr Mugabe's regime.
By The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 03/19/2007 10:40:19 PM MDT
The African Union took far too long to criticize Zimbabwe's crackdown on
But now that it has, Zimbabwe's neighbors need to register strong
opposition, not the tepid response they've shown so far. The United States,
Britain and the United Nations have called on Zimbabwe to respect human
Growing economic hardship in Zimbabwe has led to street demonstrations
despite a ban on protests by President Robert Mugabe's government. Police
shot to death one activist recently and beat, arrested and jailed dozens of
others. According to the group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the jailed
demonstrators have been denied access to attorneys.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was assaulted when police broke up a
Zimbabwe's economy appears to be on the verge of collapse. The inflation
rate is hovering at around 1,700 percent. The majority of people lack jobs.
There are shortages of basics such as bread, cooking oil and gasoline. The
state health service has virtually collapsed as doctors and nurses have gone
on strike. Many people are fleeing the country to escape starvation or
worse, and that's a problem the AU probably doesn't want to exacerbate by
taking a strong stand against the Zimbabwean government.
It is believed that 2 million to 3 million residents already have migrated
to South Africa, creating problems and straining that country's economic
system. South African President Thabo Mbeki has said little about the
violence in Zimbabwe, waging instead what has been described as "quiet
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler since 1980 when he led the struggle to free his
country from white rule, has become increasingly autocratic, denying
political freedoms. The leader, who was once supported by the West, is now
83 years old and has indicated he intends to be president for life.
Some observers say Mugabe may be paving the way for elections next year by
cracking down on opposition groups, trying to bring them in line. Whatever
the reason, Zimbabwe's neighbors, including Mbeki, need to step up to the
plate and, along with outside governments, increase pressure and let Mugabe
know that his actions are unacceptable.
Perhaps a travel ban and asset freezes on Mugabe and his associates might be
an effective place to start.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007. 6:21pm (AEDT)
A Coalition backbencher says it is time for the Federal Government to
consider economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Liberal Senator Alan Ferguson says the Prime Minister and the Foreign
Minister must do more to condemn the recent political violence in the
He says the Government must send a strong message to Robert Mugabe's regime.
"I think that things have probably almost got as bad as they can for the
ordinary population of Zimbabwean people anyway and the increase of
sanctions might make it much more difficult for Mugabe's Government to
survive," he said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, has called on Zimbabwe's
Government to let a former Australian resident, Sekai Holland, leave the
country for medical treatment.
Mrs Holland is married to an Australian, Jim Holland, and she lived in
Australia for 20 years.
It is alleged Mrs Holland was badly beaten by Zimbabwe police and was
arrested when she tried to leave the country to receive treatment for a
Mr Downer says the Zimbabwean Government should let her leave the country.
"We urge the Zimbabwe Government to permit those who are injured to obtain
the necessary medical treatment," he said.
"The Zimbabwe Government will not let these people out of the country to get
additional medical treatment, in particular Mrs Holland."
Mr Downer has also called on Zimbabwe's neighbours to impose sanctions on
Mr Downer says he was appalled by recent political violence in the country.
He says Zimbabwe's closest neighbours have the most leverage with Mr
Mugabe's regime and he wants them to take action.
"We would like more countries to impose those types of so-called smart or
targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe," he said.
"The more countries that do that, the more effective the international
community is going to be in addressing the problems of Zimbabwe."
Monsters and Critics
Mar 20, 2007, 15:07 GMT
Berlin - Zimbabwe's neighbours should speak out against the human rights
abuses occurring in the southern African country, German Development
Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said Tuesday.
'Opposition politicians in Zimbabwe, like Morgan Tsvangirai and many others,
have been and are being systematically abused and suppressed,'
'It is high time that Zimbabwe's neighbours and the countries of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) as a whole use clear language
and find ways for a peaceful solution,' the German minister said.
She described the action's of President Robert Mugabe's regime as
The German government noted the dire economic situation with 80 per cent of
the population living under the poverty line and life expectancy rates at 37
years for men and 34 for women - the lowest in the world.
Germany has not provided development aid to Zimbabwe since 2002 as a result
of the political situation there.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur