Thursday 22 March 2007
By Patricia Mpofu and Thabani Mlilo
HARARE - A Zimbabwe High Court judge on Wednesday ordered the police to
immediately allow two opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
officials to seek specialist medical treatment outside the country.
In an urgent chamber application, Justice Bharat Patel further ordered the
police to release the travel documents of Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinje to
enable the two to travel outside the country.
Holland and Kwinje were arrested at Harare International Airport last
Saturday as they prepared to travel to South Africa for medical treatment
following their brutal torture by state agents last week while in police
In his submissions, the MDC officials' lawyer, Alec Muchadehama argued that
the police were in contempt of court after they failed to abide by an
earlier High Court ruling last week ordering the police to take the MDC
activists to court on Tuesday or release them.
Muchadehama said the accused persons were free after the police failed to
summon the MDC activists to court to answer to charges of public violence.
"I submit that the honourable court treat the applicants as people who were
re-arrested without any charges being preferred against them given that
police had failed to abide by an earlier court ruling to take them to court
by 12 noon on the 13th of March for remand.
"As far as I am concerned, the accused persons were released in terms of the
original order," argued Muchadehama.
Patel consented to the MDC officials' request to have armed police officers
guarding them at a local Harare private clinic removed and that the police
be barred from restricting their movement outside the country.
"The applicants are granted leave to exit Zimbabwe to South Africa for the
purposes of seeking urgent life saving medical treatment at a health
institution or hospital of their choice and to leave and enter Zimbabwe,"
"The respondents and all those acting through them be and are hereby ordered
to release forthwith the applicants' passports. Respondents . . . are hereby
directed to cause the removal of the guards at applicants' hospital beds at
the Avenues clinic in Harare," the judge said.
The judge however, said Holland and Kwinjeh should at all times keep the
police advised about their whereabouts during the next six weeks in the
event that the police would want to serve the two with summonses.
"They should make themselves available in Zimbabwe after the period stated
in order to be served with such summons as may be issued against them to
answer criminal charges as may be preferred against them," he said.
Muchadehama confirmed the ruling when contacted for comment last night.
"It means they can now go for medical treatment in South Africa but we are
trying to get their passports from the police," said Muchadehama. -
March 22, 2007
Jan Raath in Harare
About 2,500 Angolan paramilitary police, feared in their own country for
their brutality, are to be deployed in Zimbabwe, raising concerns of an
escalation in violence against those opposed to President Mugabe.
Kembo Mohadi, Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister, confirmed their imminent
arrival, with 1,000 Angolans expected on April 1 and the rest in batches of
500. Angola is regarded as the most powerful military nation in Africa,
after South Africa.
The deployment comes amid reports of concern in President Mugabe's
Government over the capability of the country's own police force to suppress
outbreaks of unrest, which are mostly in Harare's volatile townships.
The townships have been under curfew for about three weeks; one man has been
shot dead and hundreds of civilians injured. Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and about 30 opposition
activists are still recovering from beatings they received when police
suppressed an attempted rally on March 11.
a.. US envoy: Mugabe's Zimbabwe at 'tipping point'
a.. Mugabe threatens envoys for helping victims
Mr Mohadi said that he had signed an agreement for the deployment of the
Angolan paramilitaries with General Roberto Monteiro, the Interior Minister
of Angola, last week.
"We signed a memorandum of cooperation last Thursday and it is meant to
ensure public order and security for both our peoples and the whole southern
African region," he said.
The police would be on "an exchange programme", he claimed. "We have done
that in the past, and it is not something new."
Police sources who asked not to be named said previous training exchange
programmes with southern African countries had involved only small numbers
of officers at a time. "This is the first time that there has been such a
large group," said one. "Our capacity for training is badly run down, and we
could never deal with so many. I doubt if any of them speak English. They
can only be here for riot control and to back up our own riot police."
Dubbed "Ninjas" for their all-black uniform of combat trousers and tunics,
boots and balaclavas, the paramilitaries form part of the presidential guard
of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979. They patrol in
pickup trucks, with mounted heavy machine-guns, and are notorious for their
violence. "Angolans are terrified of them," an Angolan resident said.
They will significantly reinforce Zimbabwe's police force, which used to
have 25,000 officers but has been severely depleted in recent months by mass
resignations due to discontent with low pay and poor conditions.
Zimbabwe and Angola are both members of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), the regional economic bloc. President Levy Mwanawasa of
Zambia was the first member of the community to speak out against Mr Mugabe,
describing Zimbabwe as "a sinking Titanic".
"SADC is an economic body, but it has a security and defence protocol,
allowing for intervention only in cases of threat by an external force,"
said Brian Raftopoulos, a political commentator on Zimbabwe. "But this is a
domestic problem and Zimbabwe is not under external military threat.
It [the deployment] is interference. Mugabe is bringing a military power of
the region into Zimbabwean politics."
Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh, two of the opposition activists who were
severely injured on March 11, were granted an order by a high court judge
yesterday for their immediate release from custody in hospital. They have a
round-the-clock guard in their ward.
On Saturday, police hauled the women off an aircraft about to fly them to
South Africa for medical treatment and returned them to hospital, under
"We take one step at a time," said Mrs Holland's Australian husband, Jim
Holland. "The next thing is to see what they do when they [the two women]
try to leave hospital."
Thursday 22 March 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - The Zimbabwean government has imposed an undeclared curfew in most
suburbs in Harare forcing shops and bars to close as early as 6pm as
political tensions rise in the troubled southern African country.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said on
Wednesday the latest crackdown amounted to a virtual declaration of a state
Roadblocks have been posted on all major roads leading into the city centre
while armed riot police have maintained a heavy presence in Harare's working
class suburbs, the bedrock of opposition support.
"The townships have virtually been declared no-go areas when night falls,"
said Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC
"We have received reports that residents in most of these townships are not
allowed to go out at night at times as early as 7pm. Those found outside
their homes are beaten-up," Biti said. "We are in a de facto state of
emergency," he added.
Pressure is mounting on President Robert Mugabe who is presiding over a
deepening economic crisis that has seen inflation zooming beyond 1 700
percent amid deepening poverty and unemployment.
The MDC has vowed to mobilise Zimbabweans to confront Mugabe on the streets
to force the veteran president to step down.
Mugabe has however reacted violently to the opposition challenge with his
state agents brutally torturing Tsvangirai and several opposition leaders
while in police custody last week.
Political analysts say Mugabe will likely not give up power without a fight
resorting to heavy-handed tactics to hang on to power.
Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesperson of the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC, said his
party had been inundated with reports from their supporters of police
beating up people on the streets at night, especially in Kambuzuma suburb.
"We have received numerous reports of shops and bars being closed before
their closing time. We have noticed that if the police find people in groups
of more than five, they disperse the people," said Chaibva. "There is an
undeclared state of emergency," he added.
Matthew Chirwa, a resident of Mufakose suburb in Harare, told ZimOnline
yesterday that the police were randomly beating up people whom they found
outside their homes after 7pm.
"Police are out in full force in the streets. Yesterday they stormed a local
council beer hall just after 6pm brandishing guns and baton sticks. They
ordered everyone out and ordered that the bar be closed," said Chirwa.
Masimba Zhou, from Kuwadzana concurred. "Shops close at 6pm. People no
longer move freely after 6pm because the police are beating us up," said
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said it had received
similar reports of police harassment in Harare's working class suburbs.
"Residents are no longer free to move around in their neighbourhood.
Wherever they go the police are either searching them or assaulting them for
no apparent reason," said Shumba.
"We have received such reports from Glen View, Budiriro, Kambuzuma, Mabvuku
and Glen Norah. People are being asked to stay in doors," he said.
Contacted for comment, police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena denied that the
government had imposed a state of emergency in Harare
"There is nothing like a curfew or whatever you are trying to intimate.
Police are going about with their duties of protecting lives and property.
As such there has been a marked decrease in incidents of violence in the
townships," said Bvudzijena. - ZimOnline
Thursday 22 March 2007
JOHANNESBURG - British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday launched a
blistering attack on President Robert Mugabe calling his government
"disgraceful" and "appalling" following last week's brutal crackdown on the
Addressing the British parliament, Blair called for tougher sanctions
against Mugabe who is under pressure for his violent crackdown against the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
"We will press the European Union to widen the political sanctions that were
introduced in 2002 and introduced very much as a result of our prompting at
the time," Blair said.
Blair also said he said he would want to see the United Nations Security
Council and the UN Human Rights Commission dealing with the eight year
crisis in Zimbabwe.
"We will be urging partners in both those institutions to come out with
strong statements against what is happening in Zimbabwe, which is appalling,
disgraceful and utterly tragic for the people of Zimbabwe," he said.
Mugabe is under pressre from the international community following the
brutal torture of Morgan Tsvangirai and several other opposition leaders
while in police custody last week.
The British Prime Minister said the African Union (AU) should continue to
exert pressure on Mugabe to embrace political reforms saying the solution
will not come through pressure from Britain but from African countries.
"Let's be very clear: the solution to Zimbabwe ultimately will not come
simply through the pressure applied by Britain. That pressure has got to be
applied within Africa, in particular within the African Union," Blair told
"We will continue to do all we can to make sure that Africa realizes this is
the responsibility of Africa as well as the Zimbabwean government."
Britain as well as the United States have been at the forefront in
criticizing Mugabe's policies.
Mugabe accuses the two Western countries of pushing a regime change agenda
after he seized white farms for redistribution to landless blacks seven
years ago. - ZimOnline
by Fanuel Jongwe
HARARE (AFP) - Global pressure mounted on Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
on Wednesday, with former colonial ruler Britain calling for tougher EU
sanctions over his "disgraceful" crackdown on opposition leaders.
Criticism of the Zimbabwean regime's violent campaign against the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has deepened in recent days, with other
African leaders joining a Western outcry over Mugabe's tactics.
Britain has been among the most vocal critics, and Prime Minister Tony Blair
on Wednesday said he wanted Europe to take a tougher line with the
83-year-old head of state.
"We will press the European Union to widen the political sanctions that were
introduced in 2002 and introduced very much as a result of our prompting at
the time," Blair told parliament.
Mugabe himself and his entourage are banned from travelling to the EU under
sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in 2002 for human rights violations.
Blair echoed Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett's view that action was also
needed from the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Commission.
"We will be urging partners in both those institutions to come out with
strong statements against what is happening in Zimbabwe, which is appalling,
disgraceful and utterly tragic for the people of Zimbabwe," he said.
Zimbabwe's ruling party however, said existing targeted sanctions had not
achieved their goals, and had hurt the people of Zimbabwe despite the
intention of the EU and US not to do so.
"The sanctions have not achieved what they set out to do. It's not true when
they say the sanctions were limited. They were of course imposed on 126
members listed, but they (US and EU) put pressure on the IMF and World Bank
not to give grants and investment capital to Zimbabwe," ZANU-PF spokesman
Nathan Shamuyarira told AFP.
"That has hurt the ordinary people. So it's not true that the sanctions only
hurt the leadership."
Mugabe's government has been conducting a crackdown that has included
arresting and beating opposition leaders.
On Tuesday, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, called the
president a "desperate dictator" and suggested that his long years in power
were coming to an end.
"The fact is that the man is in a corner and he knows it," Dell said. "What
we are really looking at is a failing regime that is increasingly wobbly."
At the same time, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa likened Zimbabwe to a
"sinking Titanic" and said it was time to consider changing the traditional
policy of "quiet diplomacy" with Harare adopted by the likes of Zambia and
Zambia's former president Kenneth Kaunda, an historic ally of Mugabe's,
urged African leaders on Wednesday to appoint a committee of eminent people
to mediate in the worsening political crisis.
Amid all the criticism, Mugabe has remained defiant, and observers said
there was little chance of him stepping down voluntarily.
"I don't think this signals the end of the line for Mugabe," analyst
Moeletsi Mbeki of the Johannesburg-based South African Institute of
International Affairs told AFP.
"I don't think he thinks of himself being in power because of public
support. He stays in power through the use of terror."
Zimbabwe's junior information minister Bright Matonga said the government
"will not be intimidated by its enemies," among whom he cited Blair and US
President George W. Bush.
"This is a personal vendetta they have against our president and they think
we will chicken out. We are a sovereign nation," Matonga told AFP.
Following Blair's call for tougher sanctions, the African Union's
representative in Brussels said there was an element of EU hypocrisy
involved in approving action against Mugabe while ignoring abuses by other
"I would have preferred that there were no double standards at the European
level, even for judging heads of state," AU ambassador Mahamat Annadif told
21 March 2007, 17:37 CET
(BRUSSELS) - European Union sanctions against Zimbabwe, which British Prime
Minister Tony Blair isto urge his EU partners to stiffen, were first put in
place in 2002.
The measures include a travel ban and assets freeze on government and other
officials, and an embargo on any arms, training or assistance that could be
used for internal repression.
They were imposed on President Robert Mugabe's regime after the long-serving
ruler won elections in 2002, which the opposition and foreign observers say
The measures target "the government of Zimbabwe and persons who bear wide
responsibility for serious violations of human rights and of the freedom of
opinion, of association and of peaceful assembly."
The EU lists 125 people subject to a travel ban and assets freeze, ranging
from Mugabe and his wife to current and former ministers, through to
intelligence, police and election officials, as well as governing party
"The objective of these restrictive measures is to encourage the persons
targeted to reject policies that lead to the suppression of human rights, of
the freedom of expression and of good governance."
The embargo also "imposed a prohibition on the supply of arms and related
material, on the provision of relation technical training or assistance and
on the supply of equipment that might be used for internal repression."
The sanctions were extended last month until February 2008.
Other countries have imposed their own sanctions on Zimbabwe, including
Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United States.
The Commonwealth, which unites 53 mainly former British colonies, has also
Mugabe pulled Zimbabwe out of the organisation in December 2003 after its
membership had been suspended because of the controversial presidential
Despite the sanctions, Mugabe was able to attend the funeral for Pope John
Paul II in April 2005. He has also been able to attend an FAO summit in Rome
and a Franco-African summit in Paris.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: March 21, 2007
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is fighting for
his political life in a behind-the-scenes power struggle within his own
party that could oust him faster than street battles with a reinvigorated
and determined political opposition.
While hardline elements of Mugabe's secret police and militant youth militia
step up a brutal and bloody crackdown on government opponents, analysts said
rival factions within the ruling ZANU-PF are plotting to force the president
to step down at the end of his term next year.
A key test could come as early as next week at a meeting of the ruling party
Central Committee, when a faction could seek to block the president from
running for another term next year.
University of Zimbabwe political analyst John Makumbe said rival factions
supporting the former parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa or Vice
President Joyce Muguru, whose husband is a powerful ex-army commander, are
confident they can prevent another Mugabe term.
"That is where the real trouble for Mugabe is. Both factions of ZANU-PF
don't want him to continue. They are united on that, but they are not united
on who to replace him with. That is when they take out their machetes and
start cutting each other's back," Makumbe said in a telephone interview from
"For Mugabe, the end is in sight. For him to believe otherwise is naive,"
Christopher Dell, the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, told The Associated Press
that the ruling party was in disarray, that tremendous pressures were
building within the party because of the succession battle and that growing
numbers within the party want Mugabe to step down.
"Mugabe is a very resourceful fellow. One has to give him certain grudging
admiration for his political skills, I mean he's managed to stay in power
for 27 years, that's no mean feat," said Dell.
"He is far from giving up. That he has made very evident," Dell added. "He's
not prepared to go down without a fight, but he is weaker than he's ever
been before, because the economy has simply made him weaker and because
everyone recognizes that he's 83 years old."
Mugabe complained in an interview broadcast on his state television last
month that top officials were jockeying to succeed him. But, he announced:
"There are no vacancies because I am still there."
Dell said there are several possible scenarios in Zimbabwe "from the
president unilaterally declaring a state of emergency and seizing power -
dropping the facade of democracy - to somebody moving against him, to him
being forced to stand down by his own party."
Disaffection with Mugabe within the ruling party, the military and security
forces stems from the country's economic meltdown, said Dell. Annual
inflation now stands at 1,730 percent and the International Monetary Fund
predicts it will reach 5,000 percent by year's end.
In just eight weeks the exchange rate on the black market, where even the
Zimbabwe Central Bank has had to go to buy hard currency, has gone from
5,000 Zimbabwe dollars to US$1 to 24,000 to $1.
"I don't think we need to do much more to put economic pressure on the
government because it seems to be doing a damn fine job of ruining its own
economy," said Dell. "Let me put it this way, the government is applying
much more effective sanctions on itself than the outside world could ever
hope to craft and impose."
Makumbe said powerful businessmen allied with the ruling party know their
businesses cannot survive the economic freefall. While they may like Mugabe,
they can't afford to support him.
"While Mugabe is in office the economy is not going to recover. Mugabe is a
liability to the national economy and his opponents know it," said Makumbe.
Dell said the collapsing economy has helped caused splits within the
"The fact is that over the last 27 years the government there has ruled
mostly by a combination of repression and patronage. As the economy
evaporates from under the government, the ability to distribute largesse, to
distribute patronage disappears and the ability to support the security
services disappears," said Dell.
Mugabe has used fear, violence and intimidation very effectively against the
opposition and the people of Zimbabwe have had good reason to be scared, the
"The key new element in the equation that's really become obvious over the
last 10 to 12 days is the new spirit of resistance, some would even use the
word defiance, on the part of the people," said Dell.
"With this economic collapse, the people of Zimbabwe are being pushed to
that point," said Dell.
"And they are losing their fear, despite every effort of the government to
build that fear over the last eight years. What I think we've seen over the
last week is that the people have turned a corner and they are not afraid
anymore," he added.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was among those police assaulted to
break up a March 11 prayer meeting. The opposition, which split in 2005 as a
faction revolted against Tsvangirai's leadership, has said it has unified in
the face of the latest violence and will continue to resist.
Mugabe has also always had some support from his African neighbors in trying
to resist international pressure for changes in his autocratic rule. But
Dell said the recent violence against the opposition has changed the
response from African governments and deepened his isolation.
South Africa issued its strongest criticism of Zimbabwe to date on Tuesday,
and others in the region have been even more pointed.
"One thing you will notice is that none of them are really speaking in
Mugabe's defense any more. There is a kind of embarrassed silence in the
region now. I think the scenes that we witnessed in the last few weeks of
the black police and security forces of an African government assaulting its
own people are too shockingly reminiscent of what happened in South Africa
in the apartheid era," said Dell.
"We will work to make sure that the isolation isn't broken, that the regime
knows that there is no way out except the well-trodden clear path of
democratic and economic reform."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Terry Leonard is The Associated Press bureau chief for
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
March 21, 2007
Posted to the web March 21, 2007
Fear has gripped opposition supporters in rural Zimbabwe after a police
crackdown on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the past
Dubani Mlotshwa, a small-scale farmer and grassroots opposition party
official in the rural Nkayi district, in the western province of
Matabeleland North, said unknown assailants, whom he suspected were ruling
ZANU-PF party agents, had visited his homestead and threatened his family
for supporting the opposition.
"We are now living in constant fear. The tension is high here; we are seeing
people we don't know these days, who move around saying they are looking for
all MDC supporters. We are now even scared of attending community
gatherings. I, for one, have been warned, and the people who came to my
homestead were strangers to me," said Mlotshwa.
Most rural areas have traditionally been part of ZANU-PF's support base.
Tension has been mounting in Zimbabwe for the past two months, marked by
protests and running battles with the police over a worsening economic
crisis compounded by shortages of foreign currency, food, fuel, electricity
An opposition supporter was killed last week, and Morgan Tsvangirai, who
leads an MDC faction, was among the pro-democracy leaders arrested and
beaten by the police, allegedly for inciting violence.
The regime is on the path of war with the people of Zimbabwe
The leader of the other MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, was arrested with
Tsvangirai and 47 other members of the MDC when they gathered on Sunday (11
March) in the populous suburb of Highfield in the capital, Harare, to attend
a prayer meeting.
The gathering was dispersed by heavily armed police who arrested and
allegedly beat up the activists, resulting in Tsvangirai and Mutambara being
Abednico Bhebhe, the MDC legislator for Nkayi, confirmed the anxiety felt by
the opposition in rural Matabeleland as well as other provinces. He said MDC
supporters were being punished because the authorities feared that the
recent defiance campaign by the opposition in urban centres might spread to
"The regime is on the path of war with the people of Zimbabwe. They were
shaken by the spirit of defiance that was shown by the MDC in major cities
and now they want to move swiftly to cow rural people into silence, but the
time has absolutely run out for them," he told IRIN.
Police instilling "law and order"
Nathan Shamuyarira, the ZANU-PF spokesman, denied the claims. "It's only the
police who are instilling law and order across the country. They have to do
this in view of the violence unleashed by the MDC thugs recently on
civilians and the police. Police have a right to move around, even in rural
areas; there is nothing new here."
In a statement the MDC said it was "getting disturbing reports of police
officers and youth militias working hand in glove to punish our supporters
in rural areas. The systematic violence, which started with the assaults and
torture of our leadership in Harare and Bulawayo [Zimbabwe's second city],
including other cities, is deplorable and uncalled for".
The ruling ZANU-PF should rein in its supporters or "we are headed for
widespread violence across the country", the MDC statement warned.
Earlier this week, Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Tsvangirai faction of
the MDC, was beaten while he was preparing to travel to Brussels for a
meeting of parliamentarians from African, Caribbean and Pacific states as
well as the European Union.
Mutambara was among three people arrested as they attempted to leave the
country. The police said he could not leave because he was facing charges in
Western envoys warned
Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the Mutambara-led faction of the MDC,
claimed the members' arrest "was an obvious attempt by an increasingly
paranoid government to ensure that the outside world does not get the true
version of how the rights of members of the opposition are being abused."
Ncube said, "The police acted in direct defiance of last week's High Court
order that directed that Mutambara be released unconditionally. It is a
mystery to us why they decided to take him again, and deny him the basic
human right of freedom of movement."
Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi summoned western envoys to
his office on Monday, including those from Britain, New Zealand, Australia
and Sweden, while the United States Ambassador, Christopher Dell, walked out
before the minister arrived at the meeting.
"Zimbabwe's tolerance is being stretched to the limit," Mumbengegwi told the
diplomats. "You must scrupulously observe the relevant provisions of the
Vienna Convention governing the conduct of diplomatic relations. Any failure
to do so will leave us with no option but to invoke the relevant
conventions, so as to bring to an end any interference in our domestic
He accused some of the envoys of interfering in the internal affairs of
Zimbabwe. He also accused the eight unnamed ambassadors of visiting the
police stations where MDC members were being held in custody last week and
giving them food.
The government has justified its crackdown as an act of safeguarding public
order across the country, maintaining that the protesting parties were
agents of Western countries, notably the US and Britain, which have been
accused of trying to effect regime change in the country.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
March 21, 2007
Posted to the web March 21, 2007
IRIN reported on 20 March the UN Security Council would soon hold a briefing
on Zimbabwe at which a senior official from the Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) would speak.
The UN spokesperson's office has clarified overnight that neither the
Security Council session nor the invited speakers have yet been officially
confirmed. IRIN regrets any inconvenience.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
House of Commons
Tuesday 20 March 2007
Oral Answers to Questions
FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE
The Secretary of State was asked-
4. Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): What steps she is taking to
address the political situation in Zimbabwe. 
6. Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby) (Con): If she will make a statement on the
political situation in Zimbabwe. 
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Margaret
Beckett): It is evident that the severe economic and humanitarian crisis now
facing ordinary Zimbabweans is entirely the fault of the misguided policies
of President Mugabe and his Government. With the international community, we
are pressing him and others in his Government to reverse course and to end
human rights abuses and political violence, to stop gross economic
mismanagement, and to take the necessary steps to lead Zimbabwe to a better
Mr. Hollobone: Under the evil, violent and increasingly despotic regime of
Robert Mugabe, thousands of the citizens of Zimbabwe, which was once the
bread basket of southern Africa, are dying of malnutrition and disease every
month, and average life expectancy has fallen to just 38. What hope can the
Foreign Secretary offer to Morgan Tsvangirai and others who would lead a
free and democratic Zimbabwe that Robert Mugabe's regime is under the
intense scrutiny of Britain, the Commonwealth and the international
community, and that something effective will be done in the very near future
to ensure that that regime comes to an end?
Margaret Beckett: I simply say that, of course, there is considerable
concern across the international community and the hon. Gentleman is right
to identify it. It is important to make it clear, particularly in this
House, that, yes, the United Kingdom is greatly concerned about the
situation in Zimbabwe, but that those concerns are shared by the whole
European Union, by the African Union-sadly, those concerns have not always
been expressed as loudly as they might be-by the United Nations and by the
whole international community. It is very important that we recognise that
this is not a bilateral dispute between Britain and Zimbabwe; this is about
the whole international community expressing concern about a very dangerous
and deteriorating human rights situation. We will keep up the pressure
through all those bodies.
Mr. Robathan: It is difficult to understand why the Government have been so
dilatory and slothful over half a dozen years in showing leadership and
taking firm diplomatic action against Zimbabwe. Can the Secretary of State
say specifically why John Bredenkamp, close family members of the regime and
other members of it are not on the travel ban and do not have personal
sanctions against them? Why is food aid still allowed to be used as a tool
of manipulation by the Zimbabwean Government? Has Robert Mugabe been
relieved of his honorary knighthood? I have yet to discover whether he has,
but I hope so.
Margaret Beckett: The hon. Gentleman asked what we do to prevent food aid
being used as a tool. Of course, we make absolutely sure that the food aid
and other aid that we send is channelled through the United Nations or, on
occasion, through non-governmental organisations, and that it does not go
Mr. Robathan: It is used as a tool.
Margaret Beckett: Of course food aid that goes to Zimbabwe is used as a
tool, but not UK-funded food aid, which is what I am responsible for. We
have to deal with the reality. I understand and share the hon. Gentleman's
anger and distress at the situation in Zimbabwe, but to pretend that Britain
alone can somehow wave a magic wand and bring about an end to this tragic
situation is clearly entirely wrong. We do everything that we can. I believe
that the hon. Gentleman is right in saying that President Mugabe still
retains his honorary knighthood. The hon. Gentleman may wish to give him
further publicity by making that the focus of attention, but I have more
concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe than for whether or not
Robert Mugabe has an honour to which he is not entitled.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): Most fair-minded people would
accept that Britain is doing all that it possibly can to draw attention on
the international scene to what is happening in that unhappy country. Does
my right hon. Friend accept that many of us are very disappointed that South
Africa has not recognised the tremendous harm being caused by Mugabe-an
outright gangster clinging on to power-and would it therefore be useful if
South Africa did what is necessary to help the people in Zimbabwe?
Margaret Beckett: As I said in response to the hon. Member for Kettering
(Mr. Hollobone), we continue to discuss the issue and exert pressure through
the various international bodies, including the African Union. There have
been discussions in recent days with the president of the African Union and
the president of the Southern African Development Community, who are also
anxious about the situation in Africa. We are urging that we should use the
opportunity identified by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade of the
new Human Rights Council to focus discussion on the worrying and
deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. Of course, we seek discussion and
support from African countries, including South Africa, in endeavouring to
do that, because of the belief that the HRC is the right place to take those
Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): I pay tribute to the work that the Minister for
Trade has done on this issue over the past few months. Does my right hon.
Friend the Foreign Secretary agree that the rather measly words of South
Africa on this issue are of real concern, especially in comparison with the
Congress of South African Trade Unions, which has strongly condemned what is
happening in Zimbabwe? Does she also agree that the G8 summit to be hosted
by Germany in two months' time will be an opportunity to say
straightforwardly to South Africa that if it wishes to take the lead in
leading southern Africa into democracy, it has to speak out and declare
absolutely that what Mugabe is doing will not be allowed to continue?
Margaret Beckett: I am aware of the honourable and strong stance taken over
a considerable period of time by COSATU, which has long been active and
vocal on this issue. My hon. Friend refers to the opportunity to discuss the
matter at the G8 and I can assure her that if the position remains as it is,
it is likely that some discussion will arise in that context. However, as I
hope I indicated a moment ago, we do not intend to wait for that summit
before discussing those issues. I have discussed them this week with my
South African counterpart and we are endeavouring to get a head of steam
behind a discussion in the UN Human Rights Council in the very near future.
Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes) (Con): Will the Foreign Secretary explain the
Government's attitude to ethnic cleansing, murder, tyranny and oppression in
Zimbabwe over the past eight years compared with their attitude to similar
outrages in the Balkans? Why is it, as hinted by Morgan Tsvangirai over the
weekend, that this Government have consistently walked by on the other side
in respect of Zimbabwe?
Margaret Beckett: The right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that we
condemn ethnic cleansing and endeavour to resist it wherever it occurs, not
least in the Balkans, perhaps in contrast-if I may say so-to what sometimes
happened under our predecessors. I also remind him that although I have seen
reports in certain sections of the British news media, I have not seen any
attribution to Morgan Tsvangirai of the words that the right hon. and
learned Gentleman used about the British Government walking by on the other
side. I have seen reports of statements by Morgan Tsvangirai that suggested
that the British Government had not done enough. I have also seen reports of
a full statement made by him live on television, in which he said in terms:
"The British Government cannot be seen to be at the forefront of confronting
Mugabe alone. I have always said that that will be misconstrued."
He said that Britain should act together with the international community,
the African Union and so on. Why only the part of his concern that suggested
that he would like to see the British Government do more-which I completely
understand-was reported in some organs of the media is outside my
Kali Mountford (Colne Valley) (Lab): I am listening carefully to my right
hon. Friend. It seems to me that there is a fine line between taking clear
action against Zimbabwe's despotic regime and stirring up a response that
could lead to Britain's role being misunderstood. Does she agree that our
opposition to Mugabe's regime must be clear, and that we should act with our
EU neighbours to put pressure on the African Union to ensure that a united
effort is made?
Margaret Beckett: My hon. Friend speaks very wisely, if I may say so.
Successive Foreign Secretaries in this Government have been guided by three
concerns when dealing with Zimbabwe. First, we have given priority to the
interests of the people of Zimbabwe, and we have done everything in our
power-in ways that the Government of Zimbabwe could not manipulate-to help,
support and aid them, not least through direct food aid, and so on.
Secondly, we have always acted in ways that would promote reform and genuine
democratic dialogue in Zimbabwe, although we have been careful not to give
Mugabe an excuse to act against those in Zimbabwe who are prepared to stand
up to him publicly, as that would be to put them at further risk. We have
always tried to be guided by what those people have said was the balance to
be struck between supporting them and not putting them at risk.
Thirdly, the Government have been guided consistently by the fact that
Mugabe has always used any stance taken by the UK as an excuse to stir up
support among people elsewhere in Africa-and I suspect that this may be one
of the reasons other African Governments stay their hands in respect of
Zimbabwe-for claims that the dispute is between the old colonial power that
wants to take back power and to interfere with Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe's
heroic revolutionary Government. Sadly, those claims have much too much
resonance in Africa. That is why we have always tried to make sure that we
deprive Mugabe of that excuse, while remaining strong in condemnation of his
Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington and Chelsea) (Con): I lived and worked in
Zimbabwe for almost two years, and I share Members' expressions of concern.
The Foreign Secretary has said that she wants to achieve more effective
sanctions, but will she consider encouraging an urgent meeting of the
Commonwealth Heads of Government to try to promote a high-level visit to
Zimbabwe, preferably under President Thabo Mbeki? He could make it clear to
Mr. Mugabe that the only final service that he can make to the welfare of
his country is to resign as soon as possible.
Margaret Beckett: The right hon. and learned Gentleman draws on his own
experience to make an interesting suggestion, and I shall certainly give it
consideration. However, the precedents are not very encouraging, as he will
know. It is true that President Kikwete of Tanzania was able to go to
Zimbabwe during the week, on behalf of SADC, but the right hon. and learned
Gentleman will recall that it is not so long ago that the UN
Secretary-General sought to visit Zimbabwe to express exactly the concerns
that have been expressed here today, yet was not permitted to do so.
Tom Levitt (High Peak) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will be aware of
newspaper reports today that 3,000 militia might be sent from Angola to
Zimbabwe support Mugabe's repressive regime. Will she comment on the truth
or otherwise of that story? If it is true, will she make it clear to Angola's
representatives-and to those of any other country wanting to act in a
similar way-that they would be treading on very dangerous ground?
Margaret Beckett: I can tell my hon. Friend that, like him, I have heard
those rumours this morning. As yet, I have heard nothing to substantiate
them or to clarify the purpose of such activity. However, I assure my hon.
Friend that that will be one of concerns that we will be pursuing over the
Mr. William Hague (Richmond, Yorks) (Con): Can the Foreign Secretary confirm
whether visas issued to a Zimbabwean delegation attending an EU meeting in
Brussels today included an individual banned by the EU from travel to Europe
for serious violations of human rights, even though in the past few days the
Mugabe regime has violently prevented opposition figures from leaving
Zimbabwe to attend the very same Brussels meeting?
Margaret Beckett: The right hon. Gentleman makes an extremely pertinent and
powerful point. It is my understanding that one of those who travelled to
the meeting in Brussels was indeed on the banned list, but that his visa was
issued in error by-I believe-the Belgian Government. There has been some
suggestion-I do not know whether it is a misunderstanding-that an NGO
suggested that one of those people travelled through London, so I take this
opportunity to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the British Government
have issued no such visa.
Mr. Hague: We welcome the news that there was an error, but such errors, as
well as admitting a Zimbabwean delegation at a time when opposition figures
are being beaten senseless at the airport, suggest that the EU cannot muster
the consistency and courage even to enforce the measures on Zimbabwe on
which it has already agreed. Is not it time for the EU to agree and enforce
additional asset freezes and visa bans on members of the Mugabe regime, and
to make it clear that anyone on the EU sanctions list should be excluded
from attending the EU-AU summit in Portugal later this year? Otherwise, the
summit will become an immense embarrassment for Europe and give Zimbabweans
the impression that Mugabe is still welcome overseas.
Margaret Beckett: I entirely share the right hon. Gentleman's sentiments.
The Government of Belgium have apologised for the error and withdrawn the
visa. I also share his concern that we should consider additional asset
freezes, visa bans and so on, and the extension thereof. It is certainly
something we shall be pushing with our EU colleagues in the days to come.
Mr. Michael Moore (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk) (LD): The House is
united in its condemnation of the brutality of the Mugabe regime and in its
tribute to the bravery of Morgan Tsvangirai and countless others who refuse
to be cowed by the oppression of Zimbabwe's thugs. We certainly support the
tightening of existing sanctions from Europe and the contemplation of new
ones, as has just been discussed.
Returning to the subject of South Africa, can the Foreign Secretary confirm
that South Africa rebuffed British attempts to have recent events discussed
at the UN? For all the difficulties with diplomatic conventions, does she
agree that when Britain takes the chair at the Security Council it ought to
ensure that there is a debate on Zimbabwe and, if necessary, embarrass
countries in Africa and elsewhere that would object to it?
Margaret Beckett: I have not had a chance to have the report checked, but I
have seen the suggestion that the South African Government impeded
discussion of Zimbabwe in the Security Council. However, part of my
conversation with the South African Foreign Minister was that the proper
place for such discussion was, initially, in the new Human Rights Council.
We share that view. There may be a time for the matter to come to the
Security Council, but the Human Rights Council is the right place for
discussion now. Before coming to the Chamber I did not have a chance further
to explore the stance taken by South Africa, but I believe that it is not
necessarily inconsistent with the wish to see the matter pursued in the
Human Rights Council.
The Nation (Nairobi)
March 22, 2007
Posted to the web March 21, 2007
The unfolding events in Zimbabwe in the past few weeks illustrate the depths
of repression and political intolerance raging in a country that once stood
as a shining hope for Africa. The brutal attacks on opposition chief Morgan
Tsvangirai and a few others slightly over a week ago, and the violent events
that followed meant Zimbabwe is sliding fast to anarchy.
Only at the weekend, the administration went on to stop three opposition
personalities from travelling - two to South Africa and one to Belgium - by
seizing their passports and literally grounding them at Harare airport in
In the meantime, the Robert Mugabe government has been spinning horrendous
tales about the opposition chiefs, saying how they have been involved in
bloody plots to seize power from him through the gun.
For the past decade or so, the octogenarian President has perfected the art
of political intolerance, manifested in the ruthless handling of opponents -
real and imagined.
When he felt it expedient, he orchestrated a land grab campaign that saw the
so-called War Veterans take over land from white settlers in a disguise of a
land reform programme. And whenever challenged, he has vociferously attacked
the West, specifically Britain's Tony Blair and America's George Bush for
plotting his ouster and impoverishing Zimbabweans.
But the naked truth is that Zimbabwe's problems are squarely a result of
oppressive political, social and economic policies. President Mugabe has
presided over an administration that looted the country's enormous wealth,
stifled any form of dissent and aggressively fended off any external
intervention to restore sanity to the country.
With an inflation rate of 1,700 per cent and acute shortage of all essential
commodities, Zimbabwe stands out as a sore thumb on the continent. Sadly,
Africa has stood aside and kept an odious silence as Zimbabweans suffer
injustices and indignity.
African Union, which has been pushing for peer review mechanism to tame
belligerent leaders under the auspices of Nepad, has done nothing. Not even
the Southern African Development Community.
For how long will Zimbabwe bleed? Is Zimbabwe being relegated to a place
that time has forgotten.
Members of civic organisations in Zimbabwe live in so much fear that
they stay in safe-houses to escape the police.
Women Of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) national coordinator Magodonga
Mahlangu, who launched the Zimbabwe People's Charter in Yeoville with about
100 Zimbabweans living in South Africa yesterday, said many civic
organisations in Zimbabwe had gone underground.
"Since we started Woza in 2003 I have been arrested over 21 times
without being formally charged. The most I was detained in jail was five
days with 171 other women in a cage outside a Bulawayo prison last year. It
was raining. The police never charged me or any of the women because they
didn't have enough evidence."
She said that when President Robert Mugabe took power in 1980 "the
people of Zimbabwe made the mistake of not watching what the new government
was doing from 1980 on. There were no watchdogs, so the government did their
own thing with impunity.
"The human rights abuses started on a very small scale and grew. It
didn't start in 2000 or 1999 ... it's been long coming."
Since January last year, Woza has consulted 10 000 Zimbabweans about
what they want in a new Zimbabwe. "We are here to make South Africans and
Zimbabweans understand we are going to undertake a non-violent campaign that
is huge. We know we may be arrested, detained and beaten, but we will face
Mahlangu said the response from the SA government and neighbouring
countries "legitimises what is happening in Zimbabwe. This has nothing to do
with Tony Blair or George Bush... it's Mugabe trying to save face and his
ego, not wanting to let go of power".
Last updated 21/03/2007 10:05:32
Thursday 22 March 2007
By Wayne Mafaro
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Wednesday filed an urgent court
application to force the police to release travel papers for Arthur
Mutambara which were seized at Harare International Airport last Sunday.
Mutambara, who heads a faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party, is grounded in Zimbabwe after suspected state agents seized his
passport, cell phone and air ticket on Tuesday.
Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesperson of the Mutambara-led MDC, said they had
filed papers at the High Court to force the police to release Mutambara's
Chaibva said the seizure of the papers was a desperate ploy by President
Robert Mugabe's government to stop opposition leaders from leaving the
country as they would expose the extent of rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
"The police, who last night (Tuesday night) fled with President Mutambara's
passport have today refused to hand over the President's passport, cell
phone and air ticket.
"Court papers have been served and we are waiting for an indication as to
when the matter will be set down," said Chaibva.
He said the police had refused to release Mutambara's travel document to
Beatric Mtetwa and Harrison Nkomo, representing the MDC leader, saying they
were still waiting for "instructions from above."
"It has become clear that the regime's intention is to bar President
Mutambara from leaving the country and we are well informed that
instructions have been issued to all exit points to arrest him if he
attempts to leave the country.
"Robert Mugabe and his government are determined to ensure that the horrific
and terrible situation obtaining in Zimbabwe is not told anywhere else in
the world," said Chaibva.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political commentator John Makumbe said
it was illegal for the police to seize anyone's passport unless one had a
pending court case.
"The travel ban is part and parcel of the clampdown on the MDC because the
Zimbabwean government is trying to stop the opposition from informing the
outside world on what is happening in the country," said Makumbe. -
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
March 20, 2007
Posted to the web March 20, 2007
By Michael Dingake
The cheek of Robert Mugabe He says those who criticize him can "go
hang!" Cheeky, eh? Has he become the superman of the world, a demi-
god above earthly reproach? He must be the biggest political
romanticist of all times. It is possible, he has been misled by his
SADC comrades-in-arms, who treat him like an untouchable supremo.
"Zimbabwe situation is for the Zimbabweans" is the sickening rhetoric
we hear everyday from the lily-livered presidents of SADC member
states. How can Zimbabweans solve their problems when Mugabe rigs
elections with impunity, when his war veterans intimidate everybody,
particularly the rural voters, to vote for Zanu-PF? The elections in
Zimbabwe have not been free and fair, particularly since the
emergence of the MDC. It is known that supporters of the MDC have
been murdered, disappeared from the scene and beaten up during
political campaigns; the press is gagged; journalists are detained
and tortured; independent judges are demoted and the bootlickers
promoted; public rallies are banned; food rations from international
bodies are supplied to ZANU-PF supporters alone and MDC supporters
denied the donations they are entitled to; workers' strikes are
clamped down upon, workers' leaders are harassed; migrants from rural
areas attempting to make ends meet in the urban areas are subjected
to murambatsvina blitz.
Nothing works in favour of the ordinary Zimbabwean. Under such
circumstances how are Zimbabweans expected to solve their own
problems, when such a monstrous political beast in the form of ZANU-
PF, led by Gabriel Robert Mugabe has been unleashed on their helpless
poor selves? Those who say they must, are simply accomplished,
callous, hypocritical cowards imbued with double standards.
The Zimbabwean situation is fast going to the dogs. If a leader of
the official opposition can suffer wanton assaults spiced with snide
remarks like "he asked for it," then without a doubt a veritable
political meltdown is nigh in Zimbabwe. Tyrants do not love the idea
of supreme beings other than themselves. That is why the wrath of
Mugabe was visited on Tsvangarai because he was not carrying Mugabe's
prayer book nor was he going to worship at ZANU-PF altar. But if the
ZANU-PF leader thought he was humiliating the MDC leader by beating
him, he is mistaken, for he made him a hero!
When the SADC leaders wash their hands of the Zimbabwean situation
and say it is for the Zimbabweans to handle alone, do they know that
after the manhandling of the MDC leader, Zimbabweans may feel,
without external support they are now left with the option of the
last resort - violence, only? Who can blame them if they begin to
think Mugabe must go the way of Ian Smith? Does the SADC silent
diplomacy envisage this extreme method? If SADC feared some backlash
would result, if they openly and candidly told Bob to his
face: "Brother-comrade, you played a big role in the history of
Zimbabwe, but now you may sully, everything if you go on the way you
are going; restore the rule of law in Zimbabwe, respect human rights
and retire gracefully; we will negotiate a hard-to-resist retirement
package for you," Mugabe might comply.
Unless this approach is followed and the SADC "big men" continue the
refrain of, "Zimbabweans must solve their problems" these shamefaced
leaders are gambling with political tranquility in the region.
Assaulting a leader of Tsvangarai's stature, may be the spark that
ignites a conflagration of ugly proportions. This cannot be what
our "big men" envisage with their quiet diplomacy! If civil war
breaks out in Zimbabwe, the Chimurenga that broke the back of Ian
Smith will look like a picnic and Batswana will suffer a fallout like
they have never imagined.
This excuse of doing nothing but quiet diplomacy, because Zimbabwe,
is a sovereign state, is old hat. The conservative British PM, Harold
Macmillan rejected it, way back in 1960 when he addressed the white
He curtly dismissed the apartheid propaganda argument that the world
was interfering in her internal affairs by drawing a business
analogy: " Mind your own business, when your business is interfering
with mine is unacceptable,." or words to that effect.
Mugabe's "business" is dragging his SADC neighbours' businesses down
with his; it is not his business alone that is in trouble, all his
neighbours' businesses are. But the sycophants are scared of the
bully to utter, "ouch!"
Moreover let us be clear: sovereignty in Zimbabwe does not lie with
Mugabe, the tyrant; sovereignty belongs to the Zimbabweans; when it
is violated, principled human rights advocates are obliged to
intervene. An illegitimate state cannot be sovereign, it does not
represent the citizens' interests.
Batswana need to show solidarity with the Zimbabweans. They should
join the bold voices of young MPs, progressive parties and NGOs who
have been prompt to condemn the recent outrageous ZANU-PF atrocities.
Once leaders fail to lead when a crisis looms, the people themselves
must lead the leaders and expose their limitations.
SADC leaders behave like somebody was urging them to invade Zimbabwe
militarily. Not even Bush or Blair has ever suggested that. What the
critics are saying, is that SADC leaders should publicly convey to
Mugabe that no-one is amused by his antics of hanging tenaciously to
power and trampling people's rights in the process. If Mugabe is told
off in such open diplomatic language, he will realize the game is up
and he will sober up.
Straight talk breaks no friendship, it will make the despotic Mugabe
see sense. Assuming he fails to respond positively, isolate him;
suspend him from SADC and the AU! That will make him squirm. He loves
nothing better than to be pictured in world company spouting his
deprecations of past colonial masters, hoping to impress gullible
Sanctions are unnecessary to deal with the Zimbabwean situation,
except perhaps the so-called smart ones currently applied by US and
EU. Military intervention is not called for either, the army is
slowly disintegrating; we read of officers, deserting the barracks;
outside pressure will accelerate desertions, and bring the army to
the side of the masses.
As far as sanctions are concerned, 1700% inflation and 85%
unemployment, inflicted by Mugabe's political pranks, is sanctions
enough to make any external sanctions redundant!
BY Clifton O. Mulegi
The unfolding events in Zimbabwe have put the African continent in the
limelight pitting the integrity of its leaders in democratic dispensation.
Having been set free from the yoke of colonialism as early as 1957, with
Ghana as the forerunners, the continent experiences all forms of atrocities
with some leaders still drinking from the colonial cups.
What can the continent lay acclaim to, when the economic and democratic
gains made by the founding fathers has been destroyed? The likes of Kwameh
Nkrumah of Ghana, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya,
Mwalimu Nyerere of Tanzania, the noble sons of Africa are no more.
The violation of human rights by African governments, elicits no admiration.
For while other continents the world over are grappling with economic wars,
African leaders are deeply entrenched in spreading their tyranny through
dictatorship and human rights violation.
After a spirited land reform by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, what
has been left of the once prosperous nation is a country with dilapidated
infrastructure, looming poverty, famine, lack of electricity, 80 %
unemployment and an inflation at 1,700%. The lands were expropriated from
the whites and given to the blacks, who lack capital, skills and manpower to
turn them around to productive ventures. The government of Mugabe forced
potential investors from taking interest in the country resulting in a
Having taken power in 1980, President Mugabe exhibits all forms of tyranny
and injustice to his countrymen with an aim of hanging onto power. His
government has suppressed the opposition and other voices of reason and
relegated the later to prisoners in their own motherland. At 83 years Mugabe
contends seeking another term if asked by his ruling party ZANU-PF the
period after 2008.
His administration arrested and tortured opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and other figures on Sunday during a prayer meeting. The court chamber was
treated to a session of horror and uncertainty as it resembled the butcher
gallows, now with the victims being none other than the poor, noble citizens
of Zimbabwe. Even as the country receives international condemnation, Mugabe
remains adamant and unperturbed, threatening and railing at Western envoys
and asking those dissatisfied to quit. Mr. Tsvangirai's tribulation arises
from a long standing eight-year political rivalry between his party,
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Mugabe's ZANU-PF.
Many can not forget former Ethiopian dictator Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam,
self-exiled in Zimbabwe. Mengistu, despite escaping from the hangman's
noose, has been sentenced to 17-year-jail term, which he is yet to serve due
to Mugabe's reluctance to hand him over.
The action is a challenge to both the African Union (AU) and the United
Nations (UN) for Zimbabwe's is a situation that requires more than human
intervention. Imposing economic sanctions is not enough, but all forces
should be geared towards forcing Mugabe out of power. Diplomacy can not be
applied where the same language seems foreign. President Mugabe who is a
replica of Saddam in Africa should be made to account for his misrule by
whichever means, even if it means going to the extremes.
However, Zimbabwe's scenario compounds the complex ailing African leaders.
Of note is President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt who in 2005 refused to release
an ailing opposition leader Mr. Ayman Nour. Mr. Nour then 43 years was
serving a five-year jail sentence for forging documents of his Ghad party
plus 32 other charges.
Nigeria continues to experience the same with President Obasanjo reigning on
the candidacy of Vice-President Abubakar. The Vice-President is set not to
contest due to corruption charges levelled against him by his former ally's
government. Nigeria, the world's eighth richest country in oil production,
is threatened with rampant corruption, human rights abuse, political
instability and declining infrastructure. An armed group has held hostage
well over 100 foreigners linked to the oil industry since 2006, in protest
to Obasanjo's rule.
Sudan deserves attention due to the crimes in Darfur orchestrated by the
Khartoum government. Since 2003 the population of Darfur has experienced
crimes with 2.5 million being displaced and an estimated 200,000 killed. The
government of President Omar el Bashir has failed to protect the blacks in
the south from the Arab insurgency. The peace efforts made by southern
leaders, not to mention the late Dr. John Garang, is now futile, with cases
of murder, rape and abductions widely reported.
The government wants to restrict UN movement in Darfur. Even the proposed
African Union-UN hybrid force has been denied access to Sudanese soil, with
President el Bashr writing a letter to the world body rejecting its plans.
Other African countries on the list of shame include Uganda under President
Yoweri Museveni, Libya under Col Muammar Gaddafi, Senegal under President
Wade, and Guinea under President Langsan Conte. All these leaders, with some
facing or doing their octogenarian period and ailing are still determined to
hang onto power. They have manipulated their countries' constitutions in
their favour and undermined competitive democracy. They are not wise to
learn from the likes of Mobutu Seseko of Zaire, Sani Abacha of Nigeria and
Idi Amin of Uganda who couldn't embrace change until it dawned on them.
If Africa is to reclaim its glory on the global forum, then leaders should
pay homage to these humble words of a poet, Saxon White Kessinger "Sometime
when you are feeling important, sometime when your egos in bloom, sometime
when you take it for granted that your going would have an unfillable hole.
Just follow these simple instructions and see how they humble your soul."
Take a bucket and fill it with water, put your hand in it up to your wrist.
Pull it out and the hole that is remaining is a measure of how you will be
Anchorage Daily News
-- Scripps Howard News Service
Published: March 19, 2007
Last Modified: March 19, 2007 at 03:52 PM
Zimbabwe may be far and away the worst-run country on the planet.
The economic statistics alone would be a joke if they were not so grim for
its impoverished people: 80 percent unemployment; an inflation rate of over
1,700 percent (if you were so foolish as to make the exchange, you could get
17,500 Zimbabwe dollars for one U.S.) and projected to reach 4,000 percent;
over one-fifth of the population is economic refugees in neighboring
And this was once one of the wealthiest nations in Africa, mineral-rich and
the continent's breadbasket. Its people survive today on international food
This disaster is the handiwork of Zimbabwe's president of 27 years, Robert
Mugabe, and these past weeks he's demonstrated how he's managed to stay in
power so long.
After Mugabe banned political rallies, the opposition held a public prayer
meeting that was savagely broken up by the police and regime thugs.
Opposition leaders were jailed and beaten, and those who tried to leave the
country were intercepted at the airport and beaten there. The chief
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is said to have a fractured skull and
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry summoned Western diplomats and threatened
them with expulsion if they tried to help the opposition, even by such
charitable gestures as providing food, water and medicine.
While Mugabe likes to blame his troubles on various nefarious imperialist
schemes by Britain and the United States, the West has little influence in
Zimbabwe. It is already the subject of extensive sanctions and Mugabe's
tolerance for the suffering of his people is apparently limitless.
To their shame, other African leaders - especially those in South Africa and
the African Union - have been silent to the point of indulgence about
Mugabe's depredations. Their censure and disapproval would hearten the
opposition and perhaps even check Mugabe. If he runs again, as he is
threatening to do, in another rigged election, they should refuse to
recognize the results.
African leaders have been prone to excuse the present by dwelling on the
colonial past, but what is taking place in Zimbabwe is inexcusable in any
March 21 2007 at 12:10PM
By Angela Quintal
President Thabo Mbeki is keeping a "close personal eye" on the
Briefing reporters in Cape Town on Tuesday, cabinet spokesperson
Themba Maseko said the president also rejected calls for tougher action
against Harare, saying South Africa did not agree with the view that "the
time for dialogue is past".
"In fact, the time for dialogue is now more than ever before. All
parties need to sit around the table," Maseko said.
"When you are beginning to experience a loss of life and violence
meted out against members of the opposition, it clearly emphasises the need
for parties to begin talking.
"We are calling on both sides to show an element of stronger
leadership and agree to put their differences aside... to find a peaceful
and lasting solution."
However, one of the ANC's key allies, the South African Communist
Party, on Tuesday expressed concern "about the very weak stance taken by our
government in the light of the very serious latest developments in
Zimbabwe". SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande noted that South Africa was
celebrating human rights month in the context of a deteriorating rights
situation in Zimbabwe.
Speaking after the cabinet's fortnightly meeting, Maseko said there
was no way that South Africa could force the protagonists in Zimbabwe to
talk to each other.
He defended Pretoria's policy of "quiet diplomacy", saying it had
worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where parties were eventually
prepared to negotiate.
"We think it is possible, even in the Zimbabwean situation, to reach a
point in the near future where both parties will be wiling to say 'the
situation is getting out of hand, let's sit around the table'. And at that
point it will be easier for South Africa to provide further support," Maseko
Maseko referred to newspapers reports that Mbeki had met President
Robert Mugabe two weeks ago, and said: "We will continue interacting with
the government of Zimbabwe and opposition parties."
There also needed to be extensive consultation with other regional
heads of state to try to impress on the Zimbabwean government and opposition
parties the need to begin talking to each other.
"We think the best thing to do is to put our energies where we think
we will make the biggest difference... getting the parties to sit down is
the best intervention."
He identified the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's refusal
to accept the outcome of the 2006 parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe, which
Pretoria had endorsed as free and fair, as part of the problem.
Meanwhile, Sapa-AFP reports that the head of the Catholic Church in
Zimbabwe, Archbishop Pius Ncube, has criticised the South African government
for failing to rein in the Mugabe regime.
"They are in the best position to put pressure on Zimbabwe, to call
for sanctions if necessary," the archbishop of Bulawayo said yesterday.
"They could force Mugabe to change but they have been watching this
thing. It's now the eighth year it has been deteriorating."
Mugabe has come in for widespread international condemnation over his
treatment of the MDC, whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested and
assaulted last week.
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.
21/03/2007 16:35 - (SA)
Lusaka - Zambia's former president Kenneth Kaunda, an historic ally of
Zimbabwe's embattled leader Robert Mugabe, urged African leaders on
Wednesday to appoint a committee of eminent people to mediate in that
country's worsening political crisis.
Kaunda told state-run radio the issue needed to be resolved urgently, but
defended Mugabe by saying British Prime Minister Tony Blair - a harsh critic
of the Harare regime - mishandled issues in the southern African nation.
"There is a need for African leaders to appoint a committee of eminent
persons which should find a lasting solution in Zimbabwe," said Kaunda.
He accused western nations of supporting the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change's (MDC) activities in Zimbabwe.
Sata lambasts MDC leader
The issue of Zimbabwe is heating up in Zambia with President Levy Mwanawasa
taking a tough stance against Harare while another ex-president, Frederick
Chiluba, has defended Mugabe.
Zambia's main opposition leader Michael Sata recently lambasted MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai as a puppet of the West, financed to cause trouble in
The Zimbabwean government has launched a violent crackdown on opposition
leaders, which has seen many arrested and assaulted in recent days as
international condemnation of the 83-year-old Mugage's regime mounts.
Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980,
and has announced his intention to stand again in elections scheduled for
Inflation in the one-time breadbasket of Southern Africa is running at 1
730% and there are widespread food shortages.
The Herald (Harare)
March 21, 2007
Posted to the web March 21, 2007
THE Registrar General's Office has received US$7 million from the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe, which should enable it to clear the backlog of 300 000
The money will also enable the RG's Office to issue polythene national
identity cards, Registrar General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede said yesterday.
Mr Mudede also told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and
Home Affairs that the department was in urgent need of an additional US$1
million to import photographic material for processing temporary national
identity documents in preparation for possible general elections next year.
He was presenting oral evidence before the committee at a briefing that was
also attended by Secretary for Home Affairs Mr Melusi Matshiya.
Mr Mudede said the US$7 million sourced from the central bank would also be
used for the programme to decentralise the issuance of the national identity
He said the department would, in the short term, concentrate on clearing the
passport backlog and was dealing with emergency cases.
Mr Mudede said his office was currently having discussions with Treasury on
the US$1 million needed for photographic material.
The department, he said, had decided to purchase photographic material such
as films, bromide paper and chemicals from South Africa for the processing
of temporary identity documents since such material was not available
Temporary identity documents would be issued in remote areas of the country
while in some cases generators might have to be used for the processing of
the polythene national identity cards.
"We have, therefore, decided to approach our Zimbabwe Embassy in South
Africa so that they can speed up the acquisition of the photographic
material. As a result, foreign currency required to source the materials
from SA is R7,8 million," he said.
Funds were also needed for the issuance of temporary identity cards under
the mobile registration exercise.
Kadoma West MP Cde Zacharia Ziyambi (Zanu-PF) wanted to know whether the
RG's Office would cope with the demand for national identity cards in view
of the possible elections.
Mr Mudede said his department was geared for the task.
"We will have to work flat out because time is running out. We will have to
work day and night to make sure that we do not fail to meet the deadline of
the 2008 elections," he said.
Mr Mudede said it had been brought to his attention that some financial
institutions were not accepting temporary identity documents and discussions
were underway to resolve the issue.
Mr Matshiya told the committee that the department should constantly be
adequately funded as it needed at least US$200 000 weekly for it to function
at full throttle.
He said out of the US$7 million that had been availed by the RBZ, about
US$2,4 million would be used to pay arrears.
The RG's Office had suspended the issuing of passports and other documents
due to a huge backlog of unprocessed travel documents arising from the
shortage of foreign currency.
There have, however, been calls from the public for the department to
operate on a full cost-recovery basis. The department charges $500 for an
ordinary passport and $5 000 for an executive passport for adults, amounts
many feel are too low given that the department needs to import some of the
materials needed to process the documents.
The Herald (Harare)
March 21, 2007
Posted to the web March 21, 2007
BASIC foodstuff prices have shot up by between 50 and 200 percent in just
about a fortnight, as the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe this week raised
fresh concerns over rampant price increases and their impact on consumers'
The highest price increases were reported in milk, which went up 139
percent, cooking oil up 112 percent while onions and margarine were up 110
percent and 73 percent in that order.
CCZ director Mrs Rosemary Siyachitema said: "It has been 12 days and some
product prices have shifted by as much as 173,8 percent, being the shift in
the price of roller meal. This situation has subjected consumers to untold
suffering as their incomes fall far short of the costs of basic
Economists have since warned speculative price increases will push inflation
even higher from its current 1 729 percent.
Added Mrs Siyachitema: "We will be engaging the relevant authorities on the
situation with regard to price movements.
"Indeed a social contract needs to be established between stakeholders in
order to put to a stop to unwarranted price increases.
"With such worrying price increases, the cost of living for households is
bound to shoot up by significant margins, whilst on the other hand salaries
"CCZ acknowledges that economic fundamentals shift constantly in this
hyperinflationary environment, but calls on those in business to base their
price increases on genuine increases in costs of production."
Meanwhile, the consumer rights watchdog says as a result of the spate of
"unwarranted" price increases, it would from now onwards conduct weekly
price surveys, in a bid to keep on top of the situation.
Nevertheless, past experience reveals that there is very little the CCZ can
do to keep prices under check. Neither can it bring price speculators to
book as it does not have arresting powers.
For this reason, some members of the public are beginning to question its
Others believe the CCZ's role should be expanded to include meting out
punishment on consumer rights violators, in an environment where frequent
price increases have become the norm rather than the exception.
Just this week, consumers were reeling from a fresh wave of price increases
on basic commodities such as sugar, mealie-meal, cooking oil, margarine,
fresh milk and vegetables, among others.
Bread, which has since disappeared from the shelves, has been replaced by
wholewheat varieties, rolls and other fancy confectionery as bakeries seek
to evade price controls.
According to an ongoing countrywide survey by the consumer council,
commodities such as flour, cooking oil and sugar were not available on the
formal market in some regions, except for Masvingo.
There, a 2kg packet of sugar was going for $3 200. In the other four
regions, it was available only on the parallel market at between $5 000 and
$7 000. This, the CCZ said, was "deeply disturbing considering Zimbabwe's
sugar production surpasses the demand for the commodity".
21 Mar 2007 15:47:43 GMT
BULAWAYO, 21 March 2007 (IRIN) - Tjilumbe Moyo is a former freedom fighter
and ruling ZANU-PF supporter. He was among the first group of war veterans
to seize white-owned commercial farms when land reform began in 2000. He
spoke to IRIN about the country's current economic and political crisis, and
said change was needed.
"When I went to war at the age of 17 my main objective was to liberate my
country and make life easier for my children and every other citizen. I
fought and survived fierce battles under ZIPRA [military wing of the
nationalist party ZAPU, led by Joshua Nkomo]. He [Nkomo] was a leader that
we respected together with President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU.
After years of discomfort in the bush, we won independence in 1980 and
behold we were all happy. I returned home and reconciled with my family, but
found some family members had died due to war. I had no hard feelings,
because that is what happens in any strife.
At the onset of farm invasions, which I think were noble because we still
had no land that we had gone to war for, I joined other war veterans and
chased away a lot of white farmers in Matabeleland North [in the south of
the country]. Our people got resettled there, and that is where I am also
But since then, life has not been easy for us since we can not utilise the
land due to lack of inputs. The economy is collapsing daily; food shortages
are widespread; I cannot take my children to school because I don't have the
money, and this sort of contradicts my expectations when we gained
independence. Things are just too expensive and life has become increasingly
unbearable in Zimbabwe.
It's now clear that he [President Mugabe] has failed to run the economy, but
he still wants to contest the elections next year and rule some more. He is
now old and should just allow new guys with new ideas to take over. He can
always remain as an adviser.
ZANU-PF has extremely intelligent young guys who can resuscitate this
economy; we need them. Mugabe should let them take over, not these MDC
puppets whose masters we all know [a reference to Western governments]. I
personally want change, but the change should be from within ZANU-PF."
The Herald (Harare)
March 21, 2007
Posted to the web March 21, 2007
FARMERS yesterday said they would continue withholding their tobacco for the
2007 selling season until the Government comes up with a profitable price
for the golden leaf.
Farmers have since last week withheld their tobacco, arguing that a
kilogramme of tobacco cannot be cheaper than a banana, which now costs
between $1 000 and $2 000.
A kg of tobacco is worth about US$1,50, which -- when converted at the
official bank exchange rate of US$1 to $250 -- translates to the farmer
getting $375 per kg.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Farmers' Union vice president Mr Edward Raradza
unless price distortions were resolved, farmers would not sell their
"As farmers, we are not going to sell our tobacco until Government has
announced prices that enable us to plant again next season," Mr Raradza
He said farmers had already submitted in written form their concerns to the
Gover- nment for consideration by the Ministry of Agriculture.
"We have forwarded our papers to Government and they are currently working
on them. So we are happy with the minister's statement that he is going to
address the issue once and for all," he said, referring to the Minster of
Agriculture, Cde Rugare Gumbo.
Following the stalemate, Cde Gumbo announced on Tuesday that the Government
was moving to eliminate distortions in tobacco pricing. The tobacco selling
season usually commences around March/April yearly but has since been
postponed indefinitely owing to the pricing impasse.
However, Zimbabwe Farmers' Development Trust chief executive Mr Lovegot
Tendengu said there was no stalemate as such over the pricing of tobacco but
that farmers were only asking for the exchange rate applicable to growers to
be reviewed to US$1:Z$10 000.
He said currently farmers are paid in local currency at the rate of Z$250 to
US$1 in sharp contrast to the parallel market rate that is now hovering
around $15 000 to the greenback.
"There is no stalemate. I don't know where people are getting this. Farmers
have not yet finished reaping their crop so the pricing stalemate is not an
issue at all. It is a misconception by the media as tobacco is sold through
the auction system," Mr Tendengu said.
Some tobacco farmers have also called for the Government to pay them 65
percent of their earnings in foreign currency.
Currently farmers are getting 15 percent of their total earnings in foreign
currency, which is held in their foreign currency accounts.
However, Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono last week maintained that he
would not yield to the farmers' demands.
Dr Gono said tobacco farmers should remember that they are not the only
foreign currency earners and, thus, should not hold the country to ransom.
He said for farmers to continue withholding their crop unless the dollar was
devalued would not help anyone.
"This is tantamount to biting the hands that feeds you," Dr Gono said.
Most auction floors were closed yesterday and officials indicated that they
would only open when farmers start selling their crop.
"We have not yet been told of a new date, but we understand there are still
discussions between the stakeholders and authorities," Tobacco Industry and
Marketing Board technical director Dr Andrew Matibiri said.
In a related matter, more than 400 tobacco farmers contracted by Saltlakes
Tobacco are expected to deliver at least three million kilogrammes of the
crop to the auction floors.
Company executives told The Herald separately that all the contracted
growers were willing to sell their tobacco to allow them to get funds to
prepare for the next tobacco farming season.
Saltlakes executive chairman Mr Temba Mliswa said the growers did not want
to hold the Government to ransom and had agreed that all their tobacco be
Sales executive Mr Macmillan Matimba said the company was confident that the
Government would come up with a viable support price through the Reserve
"We know that Government is working on a good support price through the RBZ.
We are confident the price would be good enough to allow the farmers to go
back into the fields next season," he said.
He said it was important for the company to sell its tobacco for the
Government to get the necessary foreign currency to spur other economic
Saltlakes is now disbursing support finance to allow the farmers to harvest,
cure, package and transport their crop to the floors.
Mr Matimba said preparations for next season had already begun with funds
for tillage and inputs being processed.
He said the company has earmarked to finance the tillage and planting of 10
000 hectares. The support includes chemicals and seedbed preparation.
Date: 21 Mar 2007
As predictions of the possible collapse of the Mugabe government in Zimbabwe
grow, during the first months of 2007 more than 500 anti-government
activists have been subject to torture, arrest, ill treatment and harassment
by state forces including the police, army and youth militias, writes Otto
Saki of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
The American ambassador in Harare yesterday predicted the downfall of Robert
Mugabe's government following the recent riots that led to opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) being
brutalised and hospitalized. For some time now Zimbabwe's economic collapse
has been felt by all.
The job market can only absorb 20 per cent of the population and
hyperinflation is now pegged at 1729 per cent. For those living with and
affected by HIV and Aids, the cost of anti-retroviral drugs has become
unaffordable. This has contributed to the dramatic decline in life
expectancy - it now stands at 37 years for men and 34 years for women.
The abuse of political power by Mugabe has been a major source of
frustration for Zimbabweans. In 2000, 2002, and 2005, general and
presidential elections were marred by violence, institutional shortfalls and
loopholes that benefited the ruling party, with no redress for the families,
political parties and individuals affected. With the 2008 elections on the
horizon, attempts have already been made by the ruling party to postpone the
election to 2010, and opposition political parties have been barred from
holding rallies to launch their presidential campaigns in preparation for
the election. The ruling party also continues to inhibit access to state
electronic and print media.
The government's centralisation of power and the role of its Central
Intelligence Organisation and other state forces in civilian matters have
reminded Zimbabweans of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. Public institutions
have been militarised and political meetings and gatherings banned under the
Public Order and Security Act.
State policy is now implemented like a military operation. In 2005,
'Operation Murambatsvina', (Operation Drive out Filth) destroyed the lives
of over 700,000 due to forcible evictions and the destruction of houses. In
2006, 'Operation Currency Revolution', where the old paper currency was
changed for a new currency, was implemented with massive violations of
personal rights. And now in 2007, 'Operation Chikorokoza Chapera' (Operation
Illegal Mining), which aims to curb illegal gold panning, has also been
implemented with a disregard for human rights.
The international community must continue to insist on a re-introduction of
the rule of law and effective safeguards of the independence of the
judiciary. The open defiance of court rulings in Zimbabwe emasculates the
judicial system and sets a dangerous precedent by exaggerating the role of
the police force in the overall matrix of the State to being more of a hired
militia meant to foster the whims of its masters.
Any form of intervention in Zimbabwe's affairs should be based on
established principles to which the Zimbabwe government is party; this will
reduce the state's accusations against those it criticises as having
ulterior motives. There should be more focus on regional blocks such as the
African Union and its human rights organ, the African Commission on Human
and Peoples' Rights, and, most importantly, the Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC), which has remained conspicuously silent and complacent in
the face of massive human rights violations. Pressure must also be exerted
on the government to revoke aspects of domestic laws that abrogate
fundamental human rights and are contrary to international human rights
norms and standards.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights receives funding from Trócaire.
To contact Trócaire's press team:
Republic of Ireland: Catherine Ginty, Press Officer, Trócaire. T: +353 1 505
3270, M: 086 629 3994
Northern Ireland & UK: David O'Hare, Press Officer, Trócaire. T: 028 90 80
80 30, M: +44 7900053884