The Age, Australia
Sarah Smiles, Canberra
March 23, 2007
AN AUSTRALIAN diplomat has helped injured activist Sekai Holland flee
Zimbabwe, in dramatic and direct defiance of the Mugabe regime.
Australia's consul in Harare, Mark Lynch, last night escorted Mrs Holland
and her Australian husband to Harare airport. From there they were flown by
air ambulance to Johannesburg for urgent medical treatment.
Mrs Holland had been held under armed guard in a Harare hospital since being
severely bashed at an opposition rally almost two weeks ago.
Another injured opposition official, Grace Kwinje, also escaped with the
"I'm really relieved, it's terrific news," Peter Murphy, a spokesman for the
Sydney-based Zimbabwe Information Centre said last night. "The situation was
so unpredictable in Harare that both Sekai and Grace's lives were in
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Zimbabwe's Foreign
Minister had personally warned Australia's ambassador in Harare, Jon
Sheppard, against supporting opposition activists.
Last night, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
said Mr Lynch had helped the Holland family as part of Australia's consular
obligations. "Don't forget, Jim Holland is an Australian citizen and we have
been giving support to his wife as well," she said.
She said Mrs Holland would be met in Johannesburg by the Australian consul
Mrs Holland, 64, lived in Australia in the 1960s and '70s and has two
children and a grandchild living in Sydney.
A friend of the Holland family, former NSW senator Bob Woods, told The Age
that Mrs Holland had been "very, very nervous, of course". "She's got a
fractured leg, a fractured arm, two or three broken ribs."
She and Ms Kwinje were injured in a violent crackdown on more than 40
members of the Movement for Democratic Change party on March 11. Opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was among those assaulted by police.
Mrs Holland said she feared she would die without specialist treatment. But
when she tried to board a plane last weekend, security forces stopped her at
the airport. On Wednesday, a judge ordered that she be released from police
custody, granting a court order permitting her to leave the country.
Mrs Holland's husband, Jim, had earlier feared they could be killed by the
regime on the way to the airport. "It's important to make sure the whole
world is watching," he said.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
22 March, 2007
On Thursday morning about 20 supporters of the MDC were arrested after they
took to the streets of Harare to protest the killing by police of MDC member
Itai Manyeruke. The protesters believe the police tortured Manyeruke to
death after they detained him, following the blocked prayer rally in
Highfield on 12th March. The family had been looking for him for over a
week, only to find his corpse stashed at a morgue without their knowledge.
The arrested MDC protesters are reported to have remained jovial and
jubilant after armed police descended on the peaceful demonstration. They
are currently being held at Harare Central Police Station.
Manyeruke was the second opposition supporter killed by police at that
tragic rally two Sundays ago. The first was Gift Tandare, whose body was
abducted by suspected CIO agents from a funeral parlour in Harare and buried
in Mt. Darwin without his family. Officials from the Save Zimbabwe Campaign
who met this week resolved to hold a 'healing service' for Tandare. It's
being reported that this memorial service is now scheduled for Monday.
Also on Thursday, the Mutambara MDC reported that police in Chitungwiza
raided the home of the St Mary's Member of Parliament Job Sikhala demanding
to know his whereabouts. Failing to find him, they raided more homes in
Zengeza and St Mary's, indiscriminately assaulting anyone suspected of
having distributed fliers for a rally scheduled for Sunday. MDC president
Arthur Mutambara is expected to address the rally at Huruyadzo Shopping
centre and it is believed police are attempting to block it.
The MDC said several supporters were assaulted and arrested while
distributing the fliers and mobilizing residents to attend what they are
calling "the defiance rally." Those assaulted include an expectant mother
and lawyers were trying hard to access them in the police cells.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
March 22, 2007
Posted to the web March 22, 2007
Angolan Embassy to Zimbabwe considered as "completely false" the information
published on Wednesday by the "TalkZimbabwe" site that Angolan Government
had agreed with the Zimbabwean authorities for the sending of 3,000
policemen, during the recent visit of the country's Home Affairs minister,
Roberto Leal Monteiro "Ngongo".
ANGOP learnt from a document, sent to the aforementioned site and to the
diplomatic corpse accredited to that country that, the Angolan
representation stresses that the official´s visit was meant for the signing
of "accords of bilateral interest, such as of sharing of knowledge and
experience and not the strengthening of local police forces.
Considering that the corporation is in conditions to solve any abnormal
situation, it reminds that that Angolan Government does not usually
interferes other countries' internal matters.
by Godfrey Marawanyika
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe sought to shore up faltering African support
Thursday as global pressure intensified on under-fire President Robert
Mugabe over his government's draconian crackdown on opposition leaders.
The worsening political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe, and the ensuing
international outcry, has prompted some African leaders to break with their
traditional policy of "quiet diplomacy" with Mugabe's regime.
And Zimbabwe's former colonial power Britain, one of Mugabe's most vocal
critics, dramatically upped the ante Thursday, saying it was already
preparing to work with a new administration in Harare.
"We're beginning to think about what we could contribute following a
transition and we're preparing support options including economic and
humanitarian activity," a spokeswoman for Britain's foreign office said.
In a bid to rally African leaders around, Zimbabwean Information Minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu on Thursday warned them against being "divided by
"The West and the Western news networks are demonising Zimbabwe, giving a
one-sided perspective," he said.
African leaders have in the past closed ranks around Mugabe, but the cracks
are beginning to show.
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa this week likened Zimbabwe to a "sinking
Titanic" in need of help, and urged southern African nations to get
The African Union, too, voiced concern, with chairman John Kufuor describing
the situation as "embarrassing."
Amnesty International accused the African Union and the rest of the
international community of having failed to hold Zimbabwe to account.
"What more do we need to witness before the African Union or the UN tell the
Zimbabwean government 'enough is enough?'" the London-based rights body's
Africa programme director Kolawole Olaniyan wrote in The Guardian.
The spotlight has fallen mainly on South Africa, the regional powerhouse,
over its policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards its northern neighbour.
Having itself relied on foreign pressure to bring an end to the former
whites-only apartheid regime, South Africa insists that Zimbabwe be allowed
to chart its own destiny.
While expressing concern about the "deteriorating situation" since Mugabe's
government launched the crackdown that saw opposition leaders arrested and
beaten, Pretoria has refrained from outright condemnation of Harare.
"We will do everything possible to get the parties around a table for
dialogue," Sotuh African government spokesman Themba Maseko told AFP on
Thursday. "There are a lot of things we are doing, but at this stage we are
not able to say what."
The United States and Britain are leading the international chorus of
criticism against the 83-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence in 1980, and have threatened to broaden sanctions against him
and his inner circle.
Zimbabwe's current economic crisis, largely blamed on Mugabe's policies, has
been characterised by an inflation rate of 1,730 percent, shortages of basic
commodities and fuel, and an 80 percent unemployment rate.
Zimbabwe's Catholic archbishop Pius Ncube urged his countrymen Thursday to
shake off the shackles of fear and stand up to the government.
"My biggest worry is Zimbabweans are cowards," Ncube told a meeting convened
by the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance -- saying many more have died as a result
of deprivation caused by Mugabe's policies.
"That very fear (of death) is the demise of Zimbabwe. It's time for a
radical stance, not soft speeches and cowardice."
March 22, 2007, 18:45
A Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers meeting
in Lesotho steered clear of the political crisis in Zimbabwe. The meeting
reviewed last year's heads of state and government summit decisions to see
how far SADC had gone in economic integration before the next ministerial
meeting to be held in the near future.
In an interview, Aziz Pahad, SA's deputy minister of foreign affairs, said:
"This was really a technical meeting. Yes, Zimbabwe is represented by a full
delegation consisting of a minister and a delegation of officials. What is
happening in Zimbabwe is an issue that is on everybody's minds. South Africa
has taken its own position on Zimbabwe. We have said quite consistently that
we call for the respect of the law by all sides and we call for no violence
Pahad said it was the duty of South Africa and other countries in the region
to create conditions for the Zimbabweans to solve their own problems.
Referring to media reports that Angola was to send about 3000 troops into
Zimbabwe, Pahad said: "We know about these reports, but we cannot verify
Meeting to wrap late tonight
On the current political crisis in Lesotho which led to five opposition
political parties staging a sit-in in the house of Parliament and calling
for a three-day national strike, Pahad said the SADC secretariat was working
hard to ensure the crisis was resolved peacefully.
"We are really happy with the progress made in Lesotho. Lesotho has gone
through difficult times. We think the elections were free and fair. There
are some differences about proportional representation and the SADC
secretariat has been intervening that is why the three-day strike was called
off and conditions have been created for all parties to dialogue," said
Asked if SADC can play any useful role in resolving the current political
impasse in the kingdom, Pahad indicated that SADC will assist where there
"We hope that this small matter about proportional representation can be
resolved with the assistance of SADC. The Executive Secretary of SADC has
been coming here a lot before and after elections. He has managed to get the
confidence of the parties and I believe that together we can ensure that any
outstanding issues are resolved," he said.
The closed meeting will end late tonight. - Sapa
The Raw Story
dpa German Press Agency
Published: Thursday March 22, 2007
Harare/Johannesburg- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
thanked China Thursday for supporting his country against Western
critics amid signs of growing fatigue in Africa over the political
and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, 83, told a delegation led by China's construction minister
that Zimbabwe would reward China for its backing by supporting
Beijing's stance on human rights and the one-China policy.
It was difficult to find friends in the struggle for independence
but China had continued to stand with Zimbabwe in the current fight
against the big Western powers, state radio quoted Mugabe as saying.
Zimbabwe has come under the international spotlight for the brutal
beating of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several opposition
officials when they tried to attend a prayer rally earlier this
Several of Zimbabwe's traditionally closest allies have ventured
measured criticism of the action, including the African Union and
Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa, who this week compared Zimbabwe to
a "sinking Titanic."
Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu sought to stem
African criticism Thursday, saying "African countries must not allow
themselves to be divided by imperialism."
"Western news networks are demonising Zimbabwe, giving a one-sided
perspective," he complained.
The international community has urged Zimbabwe's neighbours in the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to try to broker a
resolution to the crisis in Zimbabwe but a meeting of SADC Council of
Ministers in Lesotho Thursday steered clear of the issue.
Meanwhile, two opposition officials who had been blocked from
travelling abroad last week arrived in South Africa for medical
Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh arrived in Johannesburg after
Harare High Court ruled that they should be allowed to leave Zimbabwe
to seek life-saving medical treatment outside the country, South
African radio reported.
Holland and Kwinjeh, who were beaten in police custody following
their arrest on March 11, were trying to leave for South Africa on a
medical air rescue plane on Saturday when police stopped them,
sparking international condemnation.
The two were taken briefly to a police station, and then placed
under police guard at a Harare clinic.
Opposition activists are using increasingly combative rhetoric to
describe their struggle against the government.
Prominent rights activist Lovemore Madhuku, who was badly beaten
by police, said Thursday said he was ready to die in the fight for
"I wish to make it clear to them and others that we are prepared
to die for a new constitution," Madhuku, the chairman of the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said in a statement.
Archbishop Pius Ncube urged Zimbabweans to take to the street to
protest the government's authoritarianism and declared himself ready
to stand "in front of blazing guns."
The usually moderate Zimbabwe Council of Churches Thursday warned
that the politically tense situation in the southern African country
could degenerate into bloodshed.
"If this state of affairs continues, we foresee a situation that
will degenerate into civil unrest where there will be a lot of
bloodshed," the council said in a statement.
It also warned that criminal elements could manipulate the
situation to carry out criminal activities under the guise of
political activity and called for dialogue and tolerance among
political parties in the country.
© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency
By Lance Guma
22 March 2007
A stay away being planned by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
will go ahead despite governments attempts to destabilize the union and its
protest plans. The ZCTU has called for a stay away on the 3rd and 4th of
April to press government to address the economic meltdown. ZCTU Secretary
General Wellington Chibhebhe told Newsreel a group of 'so-called unions' met
with Zanu PF structures in Marondera and are trying to mobilize people in
the rural areas who will be offloaded in Harare to intimidate people into
going to work on the two days of the strike.
Chibhebhe was referring to affiliate unions calling themselves Concerned
Affiliates of ZCTU who criticised the union for allegedly meddling in
politics and failing to address workers concerns. At a meeting in Marondera
on Saturday the renegade group issued statements criticising the planned
stay away and condemning what they called illegal sanctions. The unions that
form this new, pro-government rebel group are; the Commercial Workers'
Union, Associated Mine Workers' Union, Zimbabwe Leather, Shoe and Allied
Workers' Union, Zimbabwe Construction Workers' Union and the Transport and
General Workers' Union.
Chibhebhe says they remain undeterred by the infiltration and the brutality
shown by police in crushing meetings and rallies of opposition and civic
groups. 'People are raring to go and stay home,' he said adding, 'our guys
are on the ground disseminating information about the stay away.' He said
they would continue spreading the information to increase the resolve of
their members and hope it will counter manoeuvres by government to sabotage
Asked if they did not risk endangering their members given events in the
past few weeks Chibhebhe said, 'we are more threatened by hunger than those
who are physically going to threaten people.' He urged workers to stay in
doors and not leave their homes on the days of the strike arguing this would
ensure the police could not brutalise them. 'They are safer in their homes
than outside their homes,' he said.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Globe and Mail, Canada
Despite the rising brutality of the Mugabe regime, an uprising is not
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
JOHANNESBURG - It's going to get much worse before it gets better. That is
the analysis of human-rights and democracy campaigners in Zimbabwe, who are
reeling from a savage crackdown by security services over the past 10 days
but trying to shore up popular support for sustained opposition to the
brutal regime of Robert Mugabe.
"Things are going to get much, much tougher before there is some light at
the end of the tunnel," Reginald Machaba-Hove, head of the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network and one of the country's leading human-rights campaigners,
said by telephone from Harare.
"There will be more violence, and not necessarily violence associated with a
known arm of state, not just police beating people. We are going to see more
of what started this week, with men, not in uniforms but plain in grey suits
and unmarked cars, beating people."
Seven years into the crisis in Zimbabwe, with inflation at 1,400 per cent
and the country totally isolated by international sanctions, it is easy to
think an eruption must be coming. "I know it's hard to believe things could
get worse," Dr. Machaba-Hove said grimly. "But this is just the start of a
When police opened fire at an opposition prayer meeting on March 11, killing
one young man and injuring 13 other people, and then brutally beat key
leaders of the opposition, leading to gory pictures splashed in the
international news, many observers began to predict that change in Zimbabwe
was imminent. But within the country, few people see it that way.
"Most people here don't see change coming," a senior opposition strategist
told The Globe and Mail. "You're not going to see an uprising soon.
Thousands of people aren't going to storm parliament; they know they'll get
shot and killed if they do."
This is perhaps the most significant among the many factors standing in the
way of a mass uprising: Zimbabweans have an entirely reasonable fear of
savage repression by the government. Mr. Mugabe's regime has shown it is
more than willing to use brutal force; it has withheld food aid from
perceived opponents in the midst of a harsh drought and left 750,000 people
homeless in 2005 when it demolished whole neighbourhoods that had not voted
for him. The memory of Mr. Mugabe's actions in Matebeleland in the 1980s,
when he oversaw the murders by security forces of 20,000 Ndebele people whom
he saw as opponents, is still fresh in Zimbabwe.
"This is not even close to what they're prepared to do to stay in power.
People seem to forget what this government, what this man, is capable of,"
the opposition strategist said. "And the people around him now are the same
people who were around him when he did Matebeleland."
Lack of leadership is another problem. The main opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, is badly divided. The leader of the larger
faction, Morgan Tsvingirai, received a boost in his credibility after having
his skull fractured by police last week, but he has not proved able to unite
or effectively lead the opposition.
The demonstrations on March 11 were organized by a new Save Zimbabwe
Campaign, a joint effort of the political opposition, church groups and
civil society organizations. As a body, however, it does not yet have
widespread grassroots support.
And at the same time, the great majority of Zimbabweans are preoccupied with
survival, not organized politics. A quarter of adults in the country are
living with HIV/AIDS, and the national treatment program is in a shambles.
With inflation tipped to reach 4,000 per cent by year end, it is nearly
impossible to farm, buy basic supplies, operate a business, keep children in
school or even eat.
Activists in Zimbabwe say a key factor to watch is whether the coalition and
other opposition to the regime can, given all those factors, manage to
maintain the recent momentum, and organize more successful demonstrations in
the days and weeks to come.
"Next weekend you should see demonstrations starting," said Lovemore
Madhuku, chair of the National Constitutional Assembly, who was illegally
detained last week and suffered head wounds and a broken arm as a result of
beatings in police custody. "The momentum cannot be taken down. The regime
hopes that they will silence people, but the causes of discontent are only
The opposition hopes demonstrations will not only put pressure on the regime
but keep the issue squarely in front of the key regional players,
particularly South Africa, which is believed to be the only country that can
effectively broker an end to the crisis here. South African President Thabo
Mbeki has insisted on a policy of "quiet diplomacy" to date, out of respect
for Mr. Mugabe as a revolutionary hero (he led the fight that ended white
rule in Zimbabwe in 1980, and was a key opponent of apartheid) and because
the issue of white ownership of land in South Africa is also sensitive.
This past week, however, there were rare rumblings of discontent from South
Africa (urging the Zimbabwean government to "respect human rights"), the
African Union expressed concern about the police crackdown and the key
regional leaders sent an envoy to meet with Mr. Mugabe. It's painfully
little, Dr. Machaba-Hoves said, but still more of a vocal response than
African leaders had made to date about the crisis in what was once the
continent's most progressive state.
Activists in Zimbabwe believe the best hope for peaceful change is to put so
much pressure on Mr. Mugabe, within the country and via third parties, that
his own party, Zanu-PF, which is also badly divided, pushes him out, and
then sits down with the opposition for real constitutional talks, leading to
a coalition government.
The worst-case scenario, however, is that Mr. Mugabe and his remaining
allies start to arm their supporters, leading to a violent civil conflict.
Already this week, Mr. Mugabe imported 2,500 paramilitary officers from
Angola to "help quell dissent."
Zimbabwe's political decline began in 2000, when Mr. Mugabe, now 83, began a
politically driven land-redistribution program that seized white-owned
commercial farms and handed them over to regime cronies, causing a
once-flourishing economy to implode.
A state in decline
Zimbabwe's early success after independence in 1980 and its subsequent
decline are reflected in its score on the Human Development Index,
which measures life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living
to gauge the impact of policies on quality of life.
1980: Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union wins an overwhelming
majority in February elections, bringing an end to white-minority rule. The
country gains independence
The rate, already the highest in the world, could reach 4,000 per cent by
the end of the year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
An estimated 3.5 million
of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people have fled the country looking for work,
most of them to South Africa.
The lowest in the world, it is down from 56 before Mr. Mugabe came to power.
SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, UN
James Clost from chaozhou, guangdong, China writes: judging from this
article, and others, zimbabwe is quite possibly the worst place in the world
to live. the sorrow of the zimbabwean people will only end in one of two
1. the people finally revolt against the thug and criminal mugabe, either
killing him in the process or, hopefully sending him off to some
international court to languish the rest of his sorry life in prison; or
2. mugabe dies.
either way is fine with me.
a.. Posted 22/03/07 at 5:00 AM EDT
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Even if Robert Mugabe steps aside, unpicking the damage done to Zimbabwe's
political fabric will be a complex task.
By Ayesha Kajee in Harare (AR No. 104, 22-Mar-07)
Zimbabwe is in a state of economic and political chaos. Annual inflation is
soaring above 1,700 per cent so that shops change their prices daily or even
hourly, the official exchange rate is laughably unrealistic compared with
trading on the black market, and unemployment tops 80 per cent.
Add to that the heavy security presence - by 5.30 in the evening, there are
clusters of helmeted, baton-toting police on nearly every street corner, in
the wake of the violence and mayhem that erupted when security forces broke
up a mass prayer meeting on March 11.
But ordinary Zimbabweans in Harare seem to shrug off their troubles and
soldier on. So what makes the current political and economic situation any
different from that before the 2005 elections, when I last visited Harare?
One difference is that public-sector workers are now part of the protests -
teachers, nurses and municipal civil servants have joined trade unionists,
youth groups and women's movements because they have not been paid for
Rank-and-file members in the security forces are also showing signs of
financial and physical strain, as evidenced by reports that members of the
presidential guard took potshots at State House earlier this year.
Perhaps the biggest difference of all, though, is that even former loyalists
within the ruling ZANU-PF party are distancing themselves from President
Robert Mugabe because of his avowed intention to delay the next election and
remain in power till 2010.
The disaffected include Vice-President Joice Mujuru, whose husband, Solomon
Mujuru, led the army until 1995 and is rumoured to retain significant
influence in the security forces.
Solomon Mujuru apparently relishes the role of kingmaker, since he was
instrumental in getting the pro-independence guerillas to accept Mugabe as
their leader after he was released from jail. In what has been widely
regarded as a lobbying campaign for the succession, Mujuru has been wooing
foreign diplomats. His meetings with the United States, French and British
ambassadors have provoked Mugabe to rail against "ambitious leaders [who]
have been cutting deals with the British and Americans".
The other major contender for Zimbabwe's hot seat is Emmerson Mnangagwa,
currently the rural housing minister and formerly a widely-feared
intelligence chief, who still commands support in the secret police.
Both the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions distrust Mugabe, and the president's
increasing isolation within his own party may be the final nail in a coffin
that he has been fashioning for some time.
Even if Mugabe loses support to the extent that he is prevented from
contesting a presidential election near, and from postponing the ballot
until 2010, neither of the two potential heirs commands sufficient support
to win an outright majority within ZANU-PF.
And while both Joice Mujuru and Mnangagwa fought in the independence
struggle, neither has the presence and almost mythic stature that has
allowed Mugabe to rally the rural masses in the past.
If Mugabe goes, a fracture within the ruling party is more than possible.
Given that the opposition is also fractured into two camps, this does not
augur well for political stability in the immediate post-Mugabe transition
At a conference on elections and democracy held in Harare last week, Koki
Muli, a speaker from Kenya, cautioned Zimbabweans against believing the
removal of Mugabe would of itself bring an end to their problems.
"I am sad and very worried that this country is making the same mistake that
we made in Kenya in 2002," she said.
"When [President Daniel Arap] Moi went, we realised too late that it was not
enough. It is important to have an agenda to move forward."
Muli added that Zimbabweans from across the political spectrum would need to
work together to rebuild their economy and political institutions.
Most Zimbabwean analysts and activists to whom this writer has spoken agree
that removing Mugabe is only the first step, and concede that a transitional
government with a caretaker president - neither Mujuru nor Mnangagwa - is
probably the best way forward.
During the transitional period, they say, the legal infrastructure must be
overhauled, and a constitutional review and the repeal of restrictive laws
should be high on the agenda. The institutions of democracy such as the
Electoral Commission must also be re-invented so as to guarantee their
independence and autonomy before proceeding with elections.
But many Zimbabweans believe they need an independent broker to help with
this transition, as the boundaries of state and party have become
insidiously intertwined. In the words of one member of parliament, "In
Zimbabwe the ruling party is married to all state institutions. we need a
divorce lawyer to dissolve this marriage."
Of course, all this is based on the assumption that faced with a show of
no-confidence from within his party, Mugabe will actually concede defeat and
make way for a successor. Given his feisty character and his Houdini-like
ability to escape from seemingly impossible tight corners, observers warn
that he should not be written off too lightly.
"He may decide to anoint a weak successor and continue to be the
puppet-master, like his friend [Sam] Nujoma," said one, referring to the
former Namibian president who anointed Hifikepunye Pohamba as his successor.
Such successors, however, do not always prove to be the puppets that their
predecessors expected. Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa's decision to
approve the prosecution of former President Frederick Chiluba on corruption
charges is a case in point. So is Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika's
break with ex-leader Bakili Muluzi, who had handpicked him as successor in
the face of fierce protests from his party.
If Mugabe does continue to influence the presidency from behind the scenes,
there are those who fear his Machiavellian mindset may cause him to keep
Zimbabwe teetering on a political and economic precipice.
"It would be best for Zimbabweans if he were to leave the country, but he'll
never agree," said one commentator. The current world climate in the wake of
the establishment of the International Criminal Court may partly explain
Mugabe's unwillingness to leave power, for fear that he could be prosecuted
for human rights abuses in an international court.
Would the promise of immunity and perhaps exile to a friendly country be
enough to make him to reconsider? Given that former Liberian president
Charles Taylor is currently awaiting trial by the Special Court for Sierra
Leone, after exile host Nigeria released him into the custody of the current
democratically-elected Liberian government, it may be difficult to broker a
deal that Mugabe would find palatable.
But for the sake of ordinary Zimbabweans, teetering on the thin edge of
outright catastrophe, the African Union and other players might do well to
start looking for a divorce lawyer skilful enough to negotiate the
Ayesha Kajee is Programme Head for Democracy and Political Party Systems in
Africa at the South African Institute of International Affairs.
AI Index: AFR 46/006/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 058
20 March 2007
I am writing to express my grave concern about the killing of Gift TANDARE,
shot dead on 11 March 2007 by riot police while protesting the ban of public
meetings. The ban was imposed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) from 20
February to 20 May 2007.
I am also gravely concerned by the reported torture of Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and civil society leaders and supporters, including
Morgan TSVANGIRAI, Lovemore MADHUKU, Sekai HOLLAND and Grace KWINJE,
following their arrest and detention at Machipisa Police Station and other
police stations on Sunday, 11 March 2007 in Harare, after they attempted to
attend a meeting organised to protest a police ban of a prayer meeting. The
meeting was organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of
religious and civic organisations, in Highfields, Harare.
Approximately 50 activists, including leaders and supporters of the MDC and
civil society, were arrested either at the venue of the prayer meeting or on
their way to it, and detained. They were severely beaten during arrest and
while in police custody. Many suffered broken limbs.
The organisation is also disturbed by reports that three people were later
shot by police at Tandare's funeral wake in Glen View on 13 March. Police
reportedly fired randomly at the mourners. Two of the three, Nhamo RUSERE
and Dickson MAGONDO, were shot and needed hospitalisation, while a third,
Naison MASHAMBANHAKA was grazed on the arm by a police bullet, and was not
hospitalised. However, when Naison Mashambanhaka went back to the funeral
wake later that day he was shot a second time on the same arm.
The government has repeatedly failed to investigate reported torture and
excessive use of force by the police and to bring to justice suspected
I am also deeply concerned by the reported failure by police to comply with
a High Court Order compelling police to facilitate the lawyers of those
detained access to their clients as well as access to health care. Amnesty
International has documented in the past cases where police disregarded
court orders thereby effectively denying victims of human rights violations
protection of the law.
Amnesty International believes that the three-month ban from 20 February to
20 May 2007 on demonstrations and public meetings is in breach of Zimbabwe's
obligations to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression,
association and assembly, enshrined in international and regional human
rights treaties to which Zimbabwe is a party, including the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and
Peoples' Rights. The ban is also in breach of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, the very law that was cited to justify the implementation of
such ban, Section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act, stipulates that
public demonstrations can only be prohibited for a specified period 'not
exceeding one month'.
Amnesty International is deeply concerned that Grace Kwinje and Sekai
Holland, who were reportedly tortured by police following the events of 11
March 2007, have been 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. There, their travel documents were
confiscated and an ambulance was instructed to take Kwinje and Holland back
to hospital where they were placed under police guard.
On Sunday 18 March 2007, Nelson Chamisa, national spokesperson for the MDC
who was also beaten by police on Sunday 11 March, was attacked at Harare
International Airport sustaining a fractured right orbit and a
sub-conjunctival haemorrhage (under the lining of the eye) as well as
multiple lacerations on the face.
Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the government of Zimbabwe
has repeatedly failed to protect and respect the rights of citizens to
engage in peaceful demonstration and to enjoy freedom of expression,
assembly and association. The government has also failed to implement the
recommendations contained in the resolution adopted by African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights in November 2005 as well as those contained in the
report of its 2002 Fact Finding Mission.
The events that started on 11 March represents a further deterioration of
the human rights situation in Zimbabwe and require that the government take
effective measures to bring to an end the ongoing and grave human rights
violations. I therefore call on you to:
a.. Immediately lift the ban on public meetings imposed by police on 20
b.. End the human rights violations by the police and other law
enforcement officials and ensure that police officers abide by the highest
standards of professionalism and respect for human rights. The Government of
Zimbabwe must cease to use the police and other law enforcement officials
for political purposes, including for the suppression of peaceful public
assemblies and the persecution of opposition parties and human rights
c.. Ensure that the police conduct their duties in a manner consistent
with respect for internationally and regionally recognised standards of
human rights and policing, without discrimination. Police officers should
operate in a manner consistent with international human rights law and
standards, including the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs
Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) Code of Conduct for Police Officials,
Article 1 of which states that: "In the performance of their duties, police
officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold
all human rights for all persons.".
d.. Institute an immediate, impartial and independent investigation of the
killing by riot police of Gift Tandare on 11 March, the shootings of three
people by police on 13 March and allegations of excessive use of force by
police while dispersing demonstrators attempting to attend the public
meeting on 11 March. Those suspected to be responsible must be brought to
e.. Institute an immediate, impartial and independent investigation into
the allegations of torture of MDC and civil society leaders and their
supporters. Those suspected to be responsible must be brought to justice
without further delay.
I would very much appreciate being informed of the measures that the
Zimbabwean authorities would take to address the matters raised in this
letter. I have also written about these matters to the Minister of Home
Affairs, the Hon. Kembo Mohadi.
The Raw Story
By Clare Byrne
dpa German Press Agency
Published: Thursday March 22, 2007
Johannesburg- Steven Friedman has a theory about why South
Africa refuses to condemn the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert
"Democracy promotion has never been a core focus of our foreign
policy, it has been at best a by-product," says the associate
researcher at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa.
This assertion about an African country celebrated for having
pulled off a peaceful transition to democracy may sound surprising,
but Friedman offers a compelling explanation.
"The anti-apartheid 'struggle' was essentially a battle against
racism. Democracy was a happy by-product, which the post-1994
government has largely protected. But it was a means to an end -
freeing black people from subordination - not an end in itself,"
Friedman wrote in the Business Day newspaper Thursday.
South Africa's refusal to condemn human rights abuses in Zimbabwe
is therefore not a diplomatic "aberration" as many would have it but
the continuation of a foreign policy focused more on bigotry than,
say, black-on-black oppression.
Defeating that bigotry involves showing the world that African
countries can be successful. With regard to Zimbabwe, South African
President Thabo Mbeki's eagerness to distance himself from white
bigots who gloat over the country's demise explains his kid-glove
"It creates an unfortunate defensive reaction: If the white bigots
are attacking this guy (Robert Mugabe) we're (South African
government) not going to join in," Friedman said in an interview with
Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Mbeki's silence on Zimbabwe has infuriated and puzzled in equal
measures. Most feel, like Friedman, that South Africa's reticence on
the ruthlessness of the Mugabe regime is a show of solidarity with a
former liberation-struggle era ally.
Others point to another motive. South Africa is also grappling
with the land reform issue. Thirteen years after the African National
Congress (ANC) came to power, only 16 per cent of South African land
is in white hands. With a lot left to do, South Africa is loathe to
criticize a country that got it wrong.
Still others point to pride. When appointed his point man on
Zimbabwe by President George W Bush in 2003, Mbeki - foolishly
perhaps - promised quick results. A change of strategy now might be
seen as an admission of failure.
Whatever the reason, Mbeki's silence has been deafening. While
world leaders were last week lining up to condemn Mugabe for the
crackdown on his political opponents, Mbeki was busy penning a letter
to the nation - about white racism in South Africa.
His letter was timed to coincide with the country's Human Rights
Day, but many felt he should have used the occasion to address
atrocities in Zimbabwe.
South Africa's official reaction to the shooting dead by
Zimbabwean police of a opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) supporter and beating of several others, including MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, began with a curt "we have noted the developments
Under pressure from public opinion, Pretoria grudgingly turned up
the heat, with spokespersons expressing "concern," then "extreme
concern" and finally, Wednesday, declaring the beating of opposition
While assuring critics the government was in constant contact with
both Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF and the MDC, a government spokesman
reiterated Wednesday that "only dialogue among the main political
protagonists" could bring about a lasting solution.
Hard to have dialogue with a government whose agents beat you for
trying to hold a peaceful prayer rally, MDC supporters have reacted
"You'd think the ANC liberated South Africa all on its own," a
Business Day editorial noted wryly.
South Africa's stance on Zimbabwe echoes it controversial vote on
Myanmar in January when it joined forces with Russia and China to
quash a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning human
rights violations in the junta-ruled nation. South Africa said the
council was incompetent to deal with what he called an "internal
When requested for a security council briefing on Zimbabwe last
week, the current president of the council, South African ambassador
Dumisani Kumalo similarly replied that the situation was no threat to
international peace, therefore outside the council's remit.
Whether further violence in Zimbabwe could spill over into
neighbouring countries is still impossible to tell, but further
unrest could accelerate the human exodus from what Zambian President
Levy Mwanawasa called a "sinking Titanic."
Some three million Zimbabwean migrants are already thought to have
made their home in South Africa, where the unwelcome competition they
generate for low-paid jobs is the source of growing resentment.
The Financial Times advised South Africa recently: "The choice is
simple: get involved now, while the Zimbabwean state can be saved, or
get unavoidably involved later, in rescuing a failed state."
© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency
HARARE - Prominent Zimbabwean rights activist Lovemore Madhuku, who
was badly beaten by police in a crackdown 11 days ago, Thursday said he was
ready to die in the fight for political reform.
Those who committed the brutalities were entertaining the view that
their wanton acts would deter us from our crusade of pushing for a new
constitution, Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly
"I wish to make it clear to them and others that we are prepared to
die for a new constitution," he said in a statement.
Madhuku was one of more than 40 civil and political rights activists
arrested on March 11 as they tried to attend a prayer rally in Harares
He, like opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was badly beaten by
police, suffering head injuries and a fractured arm.
Meanwhile, the usually moderate Zimbabwe Council of Churches Thursday
warned that the politically tense situation in the southern African country
could degenerate into bloodshed.
If this state of affairs continues, we foresee a situation that will
degenerate into civil unrest where there will be a lot of bloodshed, the
council said in a statement.
It also warned that criminal elements could manipulate the situation
to carry out criminal activities under the guise of political activity.
The group called for dialogue and tolerance among political parties in
the country. -Sapa-dpa
Last updated 22/03/2007 18:07:40
By Richard Holt and Fiona Govan
Last Updated: 4:06pm GMT 22/03/2007
The Foreign Office has begun preparations to work with a new
government in Zimbabwe once President Robert Mugabe leaves office.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We're beginning to think about
what we could contribute following a transition and we're preparing support
options including economic and humanitarian activity."
The former colonial power is looking to the future as international
pressure on Mugabe builds following increased violence against the
opposition and an economy heading for collapse.
Unnamed senior officials at the Foreign Office reportedly believe that
2007 may be a "pivotal" year for Zimbabwe.
Tony Blair described recent events in the country as "appalling,
disgraceful and utterly tragic for the people of Zimbabwe".
The Prime Minister said that he wanted the European Union to widen
political sanctions against the regime, which were imposed in 2002.
He said Mr Mugabe's actions damaged the reputation of the whole region
and urged African leaders to take a tougher line with the 83-year-old head
"Let's be very clear: the solution to Zimbabwe ultimately will not
come simply through the pressure applied by Britain," Mr Blair said. "That
pressure has got to be applied within Africa, in particular within the
The Zambian president, Levy Mwanawasa, likened Zimbabwe to the
"sinking Titanic" and said it was time to consider changing the policy of
"quiet diplomacy" with Harare adopted by his government and South Africa.
His comments came after the US ambassador to Harare, Christopher Dell,
publicly branded Mr Mugabe a "despot dictator" and suggested that his long
years in power were coming to an end.
"The man is in a corner and he knows it," said Mr Dell. "What we are
really looking at is a failing regime that is increasingly wobbly.
"The key new element in the equation that has become obvious over the
past 10 to 12 days is the spirit of resistance, some would say defiance, on
the part of the people. They believe they have nothing left to lose."
In London yesterday 10 members of the British branch of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change were arrested for staging a sit-in at the
Zimbabwean High Commission after entering the building to stage a protest at
the state-sponsored violence towards their colleagues at home.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: March 22, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe - An outspoken Zimbabwean Catholic archbishop urged his
countrymen to fill the streets to protest an upsurge in state-orchestrated
violence and said he was willing to lead a campaign of peaceful resistance
to force President Robert Mugabe to step down.
Zimbabweans should abandon cowardice, Archbishop Pius Ncube told a gathering
of clerics, pro-democracy activists and diplomats, most from Western
countries, in Harare Thursday.
"I am ready to stand in front. We must be ready to stand, even in front of
blazing guns," he said.
"The biggest problem is Zimbabweans are cowards, myself included. We must
get off our comfortable seats and suffer with the people," Ncube said.
Ncube has long been an ardent critic of Mugabe, 83, and his ruling Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front party. The archbishop's efforts in
the past to rally Zimbabweans have not led to mass protests, but his latest
comments come at a time when the opposition appears particularly determined.
Ncube noted two deaths in political violence since police crushed a prayer
meeting in Harare on March 11, and said the nation's economic collapse at
the hands of its rulers killed many more impoverished citizens.
Opposition activist Gift Tandare, 31, was shot dead when police fired tear
gas, live ammunition and water canons to stop a March 11 prayer meeting they
said was a banned political protest. Thursday, the Christian Alliance of
Zimbabwe, head of a grouping of church, civic and opposition groups that
organized the prayer meeting, reported the second death, saying 30-year-old
Itai Manyeruki died in the hospital from injuries suffered March 11.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, and another 46 activists were hospitalized after the arrest,
beatings and alleged torture by police breaking up the prayer meeting. The
violence prompted a world outcry.
Two activists injured in the police crackdown, Sekai Holland and Grace
Kwinje, were freed by a court order Wednesday and allowed to fly to
neighboring South Africa on Thursday for treatment unavailable in Zimbabwe.
Holland and Kwinje, who were admitted to a Johannesburg hospital Thursday,
had been detained Saturday at the main Harare airport when they first tried
to fly to South Africa for treatment.
Holland's husband, Jim, told The Associated Press in Johannesburg that while
police were beating his wife they bragged that Central Bank Governor Gideon
Gono paid them 1 million Zimbabwe dollars (US$42) to carry out the attacks
and gave them a meal allowance of 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars (US$4).
"It is worth less than 100 U.S. dollars these days but they were very proud
of the fact that they were being paid money to carry out this torture," said
Ncube, the head of the western Bulawayo archdiocese, said Thursday that
Zimbabwe had entered its eighth year of political and economic turmoil since
Mugabe ordered an often violent land redistribution program to seize
white-owned commercial farms and hand them over to blacks in 2000.
The program disrupted the agriculture-based economy in the former regional
breadbasket, leading to acute shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline,
medicines and other essential imports.
"We have to stand up against this oppression. The time for radicalism is
now," Ncube said. "If we gather a crowd of 20,000, the government will not
use its guns" to kill mothers, sisters and brothers.
Concern about events in Zimbabwe has been growing in neighboring countries.
Malawian church leaders and human rights activists held a candlelit vigil
and prayers Thursday "to beseech God to intercede in the deteriorating human
rights and political situation" in Zimbabwe.
A similar coalition in Botswana staged a demonstration to urge both the
government and the Southern African Development Community to take a tougher
Zimbabwe has come in for international condemnation, but southern African
leaders, except for Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, have been muted in
their criticism of Mugabe.
Mugabe's violent clampdown on opposition activists was not on the agenda of
a meeting in Lesotho Thursday of the Southern African Development Community,
but it was on the minds of delegates, South African Deputy Foreign Minister
Aziz Pahad said.
"We have said quite consistently that we call for the respect of the law by
all sides and we call for no violence against anybody," Pahad said in
Lesotho. "We cannot interfere in the internal problems of Zimbabwe except to
help them to solve their problems."
In London Thursday, a senior Foreign Office official said Britain was
prepared to help Zimbabwe recover from its economic and political chaos only
if Mugabe's successor commits to reform.
Many analysts say Mugabe's immediate successors are likely to come from
within his own party, rather than the reform-minded opposition. That would
present the international community with the difficult question of whether
to work with men and women tainted by association with Mugabe's repression,
a cloud of corruption, or both.
The British Foreign Office official, speaking on condition of anonymity in
line with ministry policy, said Britain and others would want to work with
Mugabe's successors to stabilize Zimbabwe's economy and bolster its
But they would only engage, he said, if the successors were committed to
reforming the economy, restoring rule of law and ending political violence
and working toward free and fair elections.
By DONNA BRYSON 03.22.07, 12:31 PM ET
Britain is prepared to help Zimbabwe recover from its economic and political
chaos only if Robert Mugabe's successor commits to reform, a senior foreign
office official said Thursday.
Recent street clashes between the Zimbabwean president's security forces and
his political opponents have brought new attention to the crisis in the
southern African country, and to the possibility Mugabe could be toppled.
Many analysts say his immediate successors are likely to come from within
his own party, rather than the reform-minded opposition. That would present
the international community with the difficult question of whether to work
with men and women tainted by association with Mugabe's repression, a cloud
of corruption, or both.
The foreign office official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with
ministry policy, said Britain and others would want to work with Mugabe's
successors to stabilize Zimbabwe's economy and bolster its democratic
But they would only engage if the successors were committed to reforming the
economy, restoring rule of law and ending political violence and working
toward free and fair elections.
"If they agreed to that, then I think the international community would
re-engage fairly vigorously," the official said, noting that the steps he
outlined were similar to prescriptions for improving governance in Africa
embraced by the African Union and the Southern African Development
Britain, the colonial power in Zimbabwe until the 83-year-old Mugabe took
power in 1980, has been one of his sharpest critics.
Mugabe's detractors inside and outside Zimbabwe accuse him of repressing
dissidents and independent media and of overseeing a corruption-ridden
regime responsible for an economic meltdown that began with his orders in
2000 for white-owned farms to be handed over to blacks.
Many of the farms ended up in the hands of Mugabe's cronies, and what was
once the region's breadbasket is now a basket case. Thee government is
struggling to maintain roads, rails and hospitals and inflation and
unemployment are soaring.
Ordinary citizens have become increasingly emboldened in their protests, but
Mugabe's security forces have responded brutally.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change
opposition party, was among scores of activists injured as police broke up
an opposition meeting earlier this month, and that was followed by what
opposition officials described as a purge of their followers in their urban
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has called for a protest strike April
3-4. It was unclear, however, if the opposition could face down the police
and mount the kind of sustained and widespread protests it would take to
A more serious threat to Mugabe could come from within his ruling ZANU-PF
party. Pragmatists within the party have likely been sobered by the economic
crisis and the country's increasing international isolation, and may decide
the only way out is to ease out Mugabe.
The push could come from one of two factions - one led by former
parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, and another by Vice President
Joyce Muguru, whose husband is a powerful ex-army commander. With Mugabe
vowing to run again in presidential elections set for 2008, this year could
By Violet Gonda
22 March 2007
A political committee of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific - European Union
joint parliamentary assembly, resolved Wednesday to send a mission to
Zimbabwe to investigate the recent attacks on members of the opposition and
Thokozani Khupe, the Vice President of the Tsvangirai-MDC attended the
meeting in place of Nelson Chamisa. Chamisa is the opposition MP who was
viciously attacked by suspected state security agents last Sunday at the
Harare International Airport en route to Brussels. Chamisa regularly attends
the meetings of the ACP-EU as do ZANU PF MPs.
Khupe said the ACP-EU parliamentarians also issued a resolution condemning
the brutal attacks on the political activists in Zimbabwe.
There was an outcry from EU MPs when it was reported that two banned Zanu PF
MPs, Walter Mzembi and former Minister Edward Chindori Chininga, had been
granted visas to attend the meeting. The Belgium government is reported to
have cancelled the visas. This resulted in the Mugabe regime sending little
known two Senators from Harare, Forbes Magadu and Clarissah Muchengeti
including Albert Chimbindi from the Zimbabwe embassy in Brussels.
The ACP-EU committee asked both the MDC and ZANU PF representatives to give
their side of the story and Senator Forbes Magadu is reported to have merely
said the attack on Chamisa was unfortunate as he is a 'good guy.'
Khupe told the committee: "I am here because our Secretary for Information
and Publicity and Kuwadzana Member of Parliament Hon Nelson Chamisa, who was
supposed to be here, is agonisingly lying in a hospital . having been
brutally assaulted by members of Robert Mugabes Central Intelligence
Organisation at the Harare International Airport. This was in the close
proximity of his fellow Members of Parliament from ZANU PF who are in this
meeting and should be hanging their heads in shame."
She appealed to the African delegates in particular saying the crisis in
Zimbabwe is an African problem, which in the main must be resolved by
Africans. "We need the solidarity of our fellow Africans when going through
such violence and oppression, and we welcome those few who have spoken in
condemnation against these abuses and rights violations. It is only when we
stand in solidarity around democratic principles and the rule of law that
any nation can succeed."
The MDC Vice President told us the delegates agreed to call upon SADC
leaders to condemn what is happening in Zimbabwe and to intervene to find a
solution to the crisis.
But observers are sceptical about the full commitment of the ACP countries.
Sources said the body's Bureau committee, which sets the agenda for the
parliamentarians, had issued a weak joint declaration on Nelson Chamisa the
previous day. Some of the African and Caribbean MPs were just not willing to
issue a strong statement condemning the rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, the UK House of Commons urged Britain to take out tougher
sanctions against the Mugabe regime after it emerged that Chindori-Chininga
had tried to dodge the sanctions. This former minister of mines and mining
development is a regular visitor to France despite the EU travel sanctions,
and had duped Belgium immigration officials by applying for the visa using
only one of his two family names.
The EU targeted sanctions were renewed for another year in February and more
names of Mugabe's cronies and MPs, like Walter Mzembe, were added to the
list early this week. The restrictions include an arms embargo, travel bans
and asset freezes on Mugabe and other top officials.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By RAPHAEL TENTHANI
BLANTYRE, Malawi - A coalition of Malawian church leaders and human
rights activists Thursday held a candlelit vigil and prayers "to beseech God
to intercede in the deteriorating human rights and political situation" in
A similar coalition in Botswana also planned to demonstrate to urge
both the government and the Southern African Development Community to take a
tougher line against the brutal clampdown against opposition supporters.
"We express our profound concern and outrage at the horrific events
that have recently transpired in Zimbabwe, which have resulted in opposition
leaders being killed, beaten, and traumatized by a ruling elite that appear
to have no tolerance whatsoever, for any dissenting views, and are prepared
to go to any lengths to preserve their grip on power," read a statement
issued at the vigil.
About 50 people attended the prayer meeting, held in a darkened room
to symbolize the suffering in Zimbabwe. They warned the escalating crisis
would have "massive negative effects" on impoverished Malawi, which has
received an estimated 100,000 Zimbabwe refugees in the past year and looks
set to absorb even more in the coming months.
Zimbabwe has come in for international condemnation for the brutal
break-up a prayer meeting in Harare and the arrest and subsequent beating of
opposition leaders. But Southern African leaders, except for Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa, have been muted in their criticism of President
Robert Mugabe despite the impact of Zimbabwe's meltdown on their own
The Botswana Civil Society Coalition on Zimbabwe planned a rally late
afternoon in front of the headquarters of the Southern African Development
Community in Gabarone in solidarity with victims of the repression in
Last updated 22/03/2007 18:07:42
Botswana News Agency - 3/22/2007
By Mothusi Soloko GABORONE - A mass demonstration against the human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa's silent diplomacy policy is to take
place in Gaborone today. The demonstrations will start at Gaborone Secondary
School grounds. Briefing members of the media this week, the chairman of
BOCONGO, Mr Baboloki Tlale, said a local civil society movement has been
formed to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis. Although the movement has not
been given a name, participants suggested that it should be named the
Botswana Civil Society Coalition on Zimbabwe (BOCISCOZ). However, the base
of the movement as well as its committee members were still to be decided.
Participants at the conference, which included the Executive Director of
MISA, Mr Emang Maphanyane, and Ditshwanelo Director, Ms Alice Mogwe,
condemned the Zimbabwean government for the degeneration of the rule of law
and human rights abuses. They also criticised it for its shrinking
democratic, religious, political and media freedom. "Our brothers and
sisters are being brutalised by a regime that has lost its mind," Mr Tlale
said. The President of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Mr Nicholas
Mkaronda, urged Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders to
listen to those who elected them into office. "Parliamentarian should also
talk about this issue with their constituents," said Mr Mkaronda, adding "we
are not asking them to invade Zimbabwe but to exert pressure on Harare to
abandon its brutal laws." The local civil society also suggested the holding
of inter religious services throughout Botswana to protest against the
Zimbabwean government. Meanwhile, a statement issued by the British Foreign
Secretary, Mrs Margaret Bechett, states that "for those of us --
governments, NGOs, members of the public -- who have watched the tragedy of
Zimbabwe unfold over recent years, this latest appalling attack comes as
little suprise". It says the attack was a synptom of a country in crisis,
adding that an economy was free for all -- GDP down 50 per cent since 2000
and inflation set to top 5 000 per cent. The statement says Britain is doing
what it can to alleviate the suffering of Zimbabweans while making sure that
assistance was not being exploited to prop-up the regime itself. In the
past, Britain gave more than 140 million pounds to Zimbabwe directly to
humanitarian assistance projects and to help combabt the HIV/AIDS epidemic
which has infected one in every five Zimbabweans. The statement states that
Britain was playing a leading role in the EU to isolate President Robert
Mugabe's regime. "We have targeted the people at the top rather than impose
wider sanctions that would harm the very people we are trying to help," said
the statement. Furthermore the statement states that Britain wants reforms
in Zimbabwe and that the UK cared about policies and not personalities as Mr
Mugabe wanted the world to believe. BOPA
By Paul Reynolds
World affairs correspondent, BBC News website
The British and some other Western governments believe that the most likely
way for President Robert Mugabe to leave office in Zimbabwe is by a "palace
coup" led by factions in his own party.
A military-type coup is thought to be unlikely. There would be an
accumulation of overwhelming pressure instead.
However, it is also accepted that he might face down his critics and contest
and win another six-year term as president next year, despite being already
Opposition too weak
Foreign diplomats do not appear to think that the opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai is strong enough at the moment to effect a change. "The
opposition was swept off the streets," said one.
They are therefore looking to people inside the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The names of a former general, Solomon Mujuru (whose wife Joyce is a
vice-president), and Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former head of security, are
being mentioned as possible future leaders, with a former finance minister,
Simba Makoni, as a prime minister.
And signals are going out that there would have to be a change of direction
not just of personality for Zimbabwe to re-enter the international fold.
"2007 is a pivotal year", a senior British official told reporters in
The problem with that statement is that there have been pivotal years before
and nothing has changed.
This time, in the British view, it is different.
There is the 2008 election coming up and that requires decisions.
There is economic catastrophe, in which inflation could reach 5,000% later
There is internal dissent within Zanu-PF, which in December refused Mr
Mugabe's request to stay on until 2010.
There is civil unrest and there is Zimbabwe's international isolation,
including growing isolation from its neighbours.
The British government believes there are several scenarios for a Mugabe
exit - he could negotiate his departure, he could be pushed out or there
could be a civil explosion.
The most likely scenarios are seen to be the first two, his departure
engineered in some way by his own party.
And Western governments are now drawing up what they called "principles of
These are the basic conditions under which they would help a Mugabe
A new leader would have to stabilise the economy, by ceasing to print money
for a start, return to a rule of law, end state violence and eventually hold
The concept of a peacekeeping force to help in that process has not been
Britain is quietly helping human rights lawyers, though it denies funding
It is also gathering information about violence by the government, has given
aid totalling £150m over the last few years and is encouraging Zimbabwe's
However, it does not want to give Mr Mugabe a stick with which to beat it,
so is preventing its ambassador Andrew Pocock, who is in London at the
moment, from speaking out publicly, unlike his American counterpart
One obstacle to bringing international pressure on President Mugabe is that
he is regarded as the liberator of southern Africa.
South Africa has tried quiet diplomacy but is unwilling to engage in public
It could cut off electricity to Zimbabwe but is reluctant to do so.
The British hope may sound far-fetched but it is that South Africa will want
change in time for the football World Cup it is hosting in 2010.
But nobody is counting on such change.
By Joe De Capua
22 March 2007
Observers have differing views over the long-range affects of the current
government crackdown in Zimbabwe. Is the government consolidating its
control further - or is the opposition becoming a real threat to President
One of those watching developments is Siphamandla Zondi an analyst with the
Institute for Global Change in South Africa. From Johannesburg, he spoke to
VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the violence in
"My view is that it is just another level in the continuing deterioration of
the situation in Zimbabwe that started as far back as the beginning of the
1990's when you had massive student uprisings and workers picketing all over
the place.so I see this as just a logical step in the continued
consolidation of state power and the use of state power to stifle opposition
and discontent. Just another symptom of a state that feels pushed into a
corner. That is frustrated. That is in panic. That treats everything as some
kind of a political ploy from some big brother somewhere," he says.
Is the opposition a true threat to President Mugabe? Zondi says, "We have to
accept that it is not yet the tipping point. It's not yet the beginning of a
collapse, the beginning of a crisis. It's certain not so for a number of
reasons. One is that the ruling party is still well entrenched in Zimbabwe
politics.and is assisted by the failure, dismal failure of the opposition to
build its base and use it to launch an alternative in Zimbabwe."
He says that external pressure won't work on Mugabe until there's a strong,
united opposition that can challenge the ruling ZANU-PF party in rural areas
and in ZANU-PF strongholds. That opposition needs the support of SADC, the
Southern African Development Community.
The First Post, UK
Albert Dube is a 34-year-old Zimbabwean police constable stationed in the
country's second city of Bulawayo, and he is a man who is ashamed of his
past and fearful for his future.
When he joined the force 12 years ago, his duties covered routine street
patrols and crime prevention. Today he only leaves barracks to take part in
police actions, beating and arresting peaceful demonstrators. And many of
those he assaults and threatens are his neighbours, friends, relatives, even
close members of his own family.
"I am in a Catch 22 situation," he tells me, when we met in a small drinking
club in the suburb of Makokoba. "People are very angry with us. They accuse
us of being Mugabe's dogs. But we have to carry out our orders."
He describes how in a police action against demonstrators in Bulawayo
recently he came face to face with his own father-in-law, and beat him with
his baton. On an earlier occasion he broke the thigh of a man he knew well.
"Now, as well as the baton, I have been told I must be armed with a
high-powered rifle. That means I will be expected to shoot people."
He looks round nervously as he talks. "Who are you frightened of - the
police or the local people?" I ask him.
"Both," he says, going on to recount how his unit roughly arrested a heavily
pregnant woman caught up in a demonstration a month ago. The woman went into
labour in the charge room, and is only now recovering in hospital. Her son
is not expected to live.
Constable Dube has other problems. His wife Betty is a staunch supporter of
the opposition MDC party, and home life is fraught with tension. "She says
it is her or the police. Either I leave the force, or she leaves me," he
says, and there are tears in his eyes.
If he does quit, he will be in good company: police numbers have dropped by
10,000 in recent months, many leaving because of poor pay and conditions. As
I reported for The First Post yesterday, President Mugabe is having to
'borrow' nearly 3,000 policemen from Angola in return for diamond mining
The US ambassador, Christopher Dell, says he detects a new mood among
Zimbabweans. "People have turned a corner, they are not afraid any more." He
also claims that the violence we are suffering is causing a split in the
security forces - that ordinary police officers are reluctant to carry out
the attacks and beatings expected of them.
But reluctance and refusal are poles apart if you have to earn a living -
however small - in a country where inflation is approaching 2,000 per cent.
A police salary, small though it is, and police food rations, unreliable
though they may be, still make all the difference.
Constable Albert Dube has no desire to attack his fellow countrymen. But
when on April 2 the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions takes to the streets
in protest against Mugabe's regime, Dube will be in the police line
confronting them. Armed with his baton, and his high-powered rifle.
FIRST POSTED MARCH 22, 2007
Cape Argus (Cape Town)
March 22, 2007
Posted to the web March 22, 2007
As Zimbabwe's political repression and police brutality intensifies,
Zimbabweans who have sought refuge in the city say they are too scared to
visit their families under the current volatile political climate.
"I won't risk my life. I will wait till the current wave of brutality calms
down," said 35 year-old Simon Tendai, a Zimbabwean who trades on Greenmarket
"I just miss my family, especially my eight-year-old daughter - I wish I
could bring them down here.
"The turmoil in my country is a result of one very old crazy fellow. South
Africa has failed to convince President Robert Mugabe that his strong-arm
tactics are crazy. Other African leaders are not brave enough to convince
the old man - my only hope would be to see him (Mugabe) no more.
"Mugabe, whom we once all hailed as a liberator, will go down in history as
one of Africa's greatest tyrants, just like Idi Amin of Uganda, Mobutu
Sese-Seko of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) - you know
their story," he said.
Another Zimbabwean, who identified herself as Grace, said: "I respect
President Mugabe, but he has overstayed his welcome. I respect the ruling
party, Zanu-PF, (but) I wonder if there is anyone brave enough to topple him
(Mugabe). Zanu-PF has some fine brains and potential leaders."
Grace, whose two teenage boys are in Zimbabwe, said: "When I visit my
family, they cry every time I board a bus back to South Africa. And when I
am here eating all the nice things, I always think of them."
Grace said she realised that living conditions in shacks around the city
were not very good.
"But most shack dwellers and some jobless men here sleep with full stomachs,
cook with electricity in a shack - a typical Zimbabwean woman in the slums
outside Harare cries for bread. Electricity, a can of Coke and a bed are
Rhys Jimanga, 31, who hails from the small town of Kwekwe, about 200
kilometres from the capital Harare, said he had arrived here in 2003.
On the banning of political rallies, Jimanga said: "I could not believe it
when uniformed men and women, bestowed with restoring law and order, beat
opposition supporters like that - anyway, their actions were a reflection of
the stinking attitude of the head of the state, Robert Mugabe, towards
"You cannot not believe how much my friends and brothers want to come to
South Africa - the political situation there (in Zimbabwe) is pathetic, and
the casualties are the poorest people," he said.
Asked how it felt to be associated with the green, black, gold and red
Zimbabwean flag which was hanging on the front of his car, he said: "I am a
Zimbabwean, I love my country. This (flag) is the symbol of my identity -
but I'm just fed up with the ruling elite and its terrible habits."