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Zim opposition says bombings a ruse to hammer critics

Zim Online

Tuesday 27 March 2007

      By Justin Muponda

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party on Monday accused the government of sponsoring recent acts of
violence, including petrol-bombing incidences, to justify a major crackdown
on the resurgent party.

      The police have accused the MDC of leading a "militia-style" campaign
of violence to topple President Robert Mugabe from power, charges the
opposition party rejected.

      "There is no reason why the MDC should target innocent civilians
because we have chosen a non-violent struggle," said Nelson Chamisa,
spokesman of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC.

      "It is the government that is trying to provoke the people into
anarchy. They are at the centre of this terrorism, it is state sponsored
terrorism," added Chamisa.

      Tensions are running high in the southern African state fueled by an
acute economic crisis - critics blame on mismanagement by Mugabe - and that
has seen poverty levels rising and inflation soaring to world record levels.

      The MDC, which has been weakened by internal fights, has in the past
two months re-emerged to confront Mugabe over the deteriorating economy,
which has set it on a collision course with the government.

      Police brutally stopped an MDC and civic groups prayer rally this
month, injuring Tsvangirai and several opposition politicians, which exposed
Harare's poor human rights record and drew strong international
condemnation. The United States and Britain have warned of stiffer sanctions
against Mugabe.

      But the government says it is the MDC that is in fact responsible for
rising political violence in the country as well as the petrol bombing of
three police stations, a passenger train and a supermarket in Harare at the

      The police said this was part of the MDC's "militia-style" violence
and said they were tracking down opposition activists suspected of being
behind the bombings.

      But Chamisa said the bombings that took place in Harare and in the
cities of Gweru and Mutare were orchestrated by the government as a pretext
to justify intensifying its violent crackdown on opponents.

      Political analysts said Mugabe had since coming to power at Zimbabwe's
independence from Britain in 1980 sought every excuse to clamp down on
opponents whenever in trouble.

      They pointed to the arms cache incident in Matabeleland during the
early years of independence, which saw the government's North Korean Fifth
Brigade unleashing a terror campaign against the minority Ndebele tribe in
the south of the country that did not back his ZANU PF party.

      More than 20 000 mostly innocent Ndebele civilians were killed during
the military crackdown.

      Mugabe also plotted treason charges against his former leader, the
late Ndabaningi Sithole while Tsvangirai was accused of plotting to
assassinate Mugabe with the help of a discredited Canadian public relations

      The High Court freed Tsvangirai because the state could not prove its
case beyond reasonable doubt.

      The MDC was four years ago also accused of murdering prominent ZANU PF
activist and former liberation war fighter Cain Nkala although the murder
case crumbled spectacularly when it started to emerge that colleagues in the
ruling party could have killed him.

      "The violence cases have the hallmarks of ZANU PF, I am quite sure the
intelligence people are behind all this to discredit the MDC. It has always
been Mugabe's strategy to resort to dirty tactics when in trouble," John
Makumbe, a political analyst and strong Mugabe critic said.

      Chamisa said Mugabe had been shocked by the MDC's resurgence this year
after it split into two opposing factions in October 2005 following
differences over strategies to tackle ZANU PF.

      The MDC has led a campaign to stop Mugabe from extending his rule by
two more years to 2010, a plan that was also rejected by the veteran leader's
allies in his ZANU PF party. But Mugabe has once again stirred controversy
by announcing he intends to run in a presidential election next year.

      The opposition accuses the 83-year old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe
since independence, of massive vote fraud since 2000 but the veteran leader
says he has won smartly. He has of late accused the MDC of resorting to
violence saying this was because the opposition party had failed in

      Chamisa said Zimbabweans were too pre-occupied with trying to survive
the economic crisis, to waste scarce fuel (in short supply in the country)
on petrol bombs targeting innocent civilians. He said it was the government
which had the expertise and resources to carry out such acts of terror.

      "We are a political party and not a rebel movement. Mugabe is using
sterile and exhausted strategies, the people know this," said Chamisa. "They
(government) are trying to justify repression. They are desperate and
dangerous that is why they are trying to create a victim image out of a
monster." - ZimOnline


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Harare to set up 24-hr propaganda radio station

Zim Online

Tuesday 27 March 2007

By Farisai Gonye

HARARE - The Zimbabwe government says it will next month set up a 24-hour
propaganda radio station to counter "negative publicity" from Western media.

Responding to questions from ZimOnline over the project, Information
Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, confirmed the development saying the new station
will operate under the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

"That is absolutely true. The management team is (already) in place and my
ministry will soon be releasing funds to launch the station," said Ndlovu.

The launch of the propaganda radio news channel, to be called News24, will
see President Robert Mugabe's government tightening its grip on the

The government already controls the four radio stations that operate in the
country. The government also runs the country's sole television station.

The Harare authorities have used the radio and television stations to
vociferously defend Mugabe's policies at the exclusion of oppositional

There are, however, two private radio stations that operate from Washington
and London.

Harare accuses the two stations, SW Radio Africa and Voice of America's
Studio 7 of broadcasting propaganda aimed at inciting Zimbabweans to rise
against the government.

"We have hastened the project because of the onslaught (from the West) that
has reached alarming levels.

"The station would be a way of telling our story and to react to hostile
Western machinations aimed at undermining the credibility and legitimacy of
our government," said Ndlovu.

Sources said Happison Muchechetere, a former senior ZBC journalist and
veteran of the country's 1970s liberation war, would head the news channel.

The government had initially planned to have the radio channel operating
under state news agency, New Ziana. But the project was later moved to the
ZBC because the broadcaster already had equipment in place for the project.

Zimbabwe has maintained a tight grip on the media over the past four years.
At least four newspapers, including the country's biggest Daily News, have
been banned since 2003 for violating the country's tough media laws. -

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Zimbabwe Dollar In New Downward Spike Against Major Currencies


      By Blessing Zulu
      26 March 2007

Depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar against the US dollar and other foreign
currencies has been accelerating in recent days, driving the prices of all
commodities higher and feeding hyperinflation which is already over an
annual 1,700%.

The U.S. dollar now fetches Z$25,000 on the parallel currency market
although the official exchange rate has remained stuck at $250 dollars since
last July. As recently as two weeks ago the U.S. currency was trading around
Z$10,000. The South African rand is trading at Z$3,000 and the British pound
changes hands at Z$47,000.

The price of fuel, which moves in tandem with the parallel market exchange
rate, has surged to Z$16,000 to Z$25,000 for one liter.

The Zimbabwe dollar's latest plunge suggests the recent prediction by
International Monetary Fund Africa Director Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane that
inflation in Zimbabwe might top 5,000% by the end of this year might not be
very far off the mark.

Harare economist James Jowa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that the collapse of the currency reflects the effective
disappearance of export revenues which once brought hard currency into

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Regional leaders to meet as Zimbabwe crisis boils


Mon 26 Mar 2007, 14:21 GMT

By George Obulutsa

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Leaders of the southern African regional bloc SADC will
hold an extraordinary session in Tanzania this week, Tanzania's Foreign
Ministry said on Monday, amid the mounting political and economic crisis in

A Tanzanian Foreign Ministry official would not be drawn on the agenda for
the meeting on Wednesday and Thursday. Tanzania is one of three SADC states
charged with dealing with the situation in Zimbabwe.

"They could discuss Zimbabwe, but what they will be discussing is the
general political situation, and they will be looking at where there are
problems," the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters by
telephone from Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania said the extraordinary summit was expected to attended by 14 heads
of state, including those from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Tensions are high in Zimbabwe over skyrocketing inflation, the highest in
the world at over 1,700 percent, shortages of foreign currency, fuel and
food and surging unemployment, which critics blame on President Robert
Mugabe's mismanagement.

Mugabe in turn blames western nations led by former colonial ruler Britain,
which he says want to overthrow him because of his seizure of white-owned
commercial farms for landless blacks.

Zimbabwe's police banned political rallies and protests in the capital
Harare last month and then riot police clashed with opposition activists as
they tried to attend a prayer meeting.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he and colleagues were brutally
beaten in police custody following their March 11 arrests over the foiled
meeting called to protest against a deepening crisis they blame on Mugabe's

Images of a cut and bruised Tsvangirai drew drawn sharp international
condemnation of Mugabe's rule, including rare voices of concern from some
African leaders.

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Zim creates reserve army


26/03/2007 20:08  - (SA)

Johannesburg - President Robert Mugabe's government has established a
reserve force comprising veterans of the country's independence war to shore
up the army, according to new regulations released on Monday.

"There is hereby established a reserve force of the army to be known as the
war veterans reserve," reads part of the regulations, which were published
in a government gazette.

The commander of the Zimbabwe National Army will be in charge of recruitment
of the war veterans, according to the Defence (War Veterans Reserve)
Regulations. The national army is already around 40 000 strong.

News of the new reserve comes amid heightened political tension in the
country following the beating of opposition leaders two weeks ago and a
subsequent police crackdown.

There are also claims the incident has heightened dissent within the top
ranks of Zanu-PF, with senior party figures said to be against Mugabe's
plans to stand in presidential elections next year. War veterans are seen as
key supporters of Mugabe.

Creation of reserve force

The regulations did not say how large the reserve force would be, or how
much each reservist would earn while on duty.

Shadow defence minister in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) Giles Mutsekwa said the creation of the reserve force was a reaction
to the political situation in the country.

"They (the government) no longer have faith in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
They would not rely on them to quell disturbances taking place in the
country at the moment," he said.

War veterans were used seven years ago by the ruling party to spearhead a
sometimes violent campaign of land invasions ahead of parliamentary
elections that Mugabe's ruling party almost lost to the then fledgling MDC.

Last week the government denied reports that Angola was due to send more
than 2 500 members of its paramilitary police, the Ninjas, to bolster the
Zimbabwean police force.

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Mugabe 'to leave within a year'


26 March 2007, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is unlikely to contest presidential
elections due next year, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said.
He told the BBC that people within Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party were
"anxious to get another candidate".

Mr Mugabe has said he would like to postpone the elections and stay in
power until 2010 but Zanu-PF members are resisting this option.

Mr Tsvangirai also hinted that his party was in talks with Zanu-PF.

"We have always called on all patriotic Zimbabweans who want to see a
solution about Mugabe coming together," he told the BBC's Today programme.

"I'm sure that there is national convergence on such a roadmap being
worked out between some of the ruling party members and the MDC [Mr
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change]."

However, he denied reports that he had personally held discussion with
senior Zanu-PF figures.

'People power'

Western diplomats say that Zanu-PF power-brokers Emmerson Mnangagwa
and Solomon Mujuru are both keen to replace Mr Mugabe as the party's
candidate next year.

The party's policy-making central committee is due to rule on
Wednesday whether to reject or approve Mr Mugabe's suggestion to change the
constitution and postpone the elections.

At last December's congress, the party unusually declined to back Mr
Mugabe's wishes and the decision was postponed.

Mr Mugabe has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

Mr Tsvangirai and other MDC officials say they were severely assaulted
by the police after being arrested at a rally earlier this month.

Pictures of their injuries sparked outrage in the west and some
criticism from other African countries.

On Friday, a Roman Catholic Archbishop repeated his calls for
Zimbabwean citizens to take to the streets in protest at conditions in their

"This dictator must be brought down right now," said Pius Ncube,
Archbishop of Bulawayo.

"Brought down by people power, not by a violent manner but let people
fill the streets and demand that he comes down."

But during a rally of Zanu-PF supporters in Harare, the 83-year-old Mr
Mugabe remained defiant.

"Nothing frightens me, not even little fellows like Bush and Blair. I
have seen it all, I don't fear any suffering or a struggle of any kind," Mr
Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe for 27 years, told cheering crowds.

Zimbabweans are grappling with spiralling annual inflation of 1,700%
and widespread unemployment and poverty.

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Crisis Group Board Calls for New Zimbabwe Compact

International Crisis Group

Vancouver, 26 March 2007: An urgent regional initiative to produce a
settlement for the conflict in Zimbabwe is needed to save the country from
its deepening crisis.

At a meeting of its Board of Trustees on the weekend, the International
Crisis Group expressed its outrage at the state-sponsored violence against
Zimbabwe's political opposition. If more violence is to be averted, Zimbabwe's
ruling ZANU-PF party and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
together with the international community, must urgently agree on joint
political strategy that will restore the country to democracy. South Africa
and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should play a leading

The government's latest campaign of violence and repression is deplorable.
But the regime is not succeeding in cowing the opposition into submission.
Zimbabwe's political opposition has emerged determined and re-energised -
and now needs all the support it can get.

Over the last two weeks, the government has spearheaded a brutal crackdown
on opposition groups. On 11 March, riot police disrupted a rally organised
by a coalition of political, religious and civic groups in a Harare suburb,
shooting dead one opposition activist, Mr Gift Tandare, and leaving dozens
of others injured. Some 40 opposition leaders, among them MDC leaders Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, were detained and severely beaten in police

The regime's brutal tactics come against a backdrop of chronic food
shortages, staggeringly high inflation and unemployment, and increasing
government repression against all forms of dissent. All Zimbabweans are
suffering as a result of this deteriorating economic and political

Powerful elements within the ruling ZANU-PF party, recognising that the
end-game for President Robert Mugabe is near and their own political
survival is at stake, are exploring options for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. But
a deal that in effect maintains the status quo minus Mugabe would not
reverse the country's dramatic downward slide.

  a.. Zimbabwe requires an inclusive transition process, resulting in a
democratic leadership chosen in a free and fair election that will offer a
real chance for economic revival. The ruling ZANU-PF, opposition and civil
society groups must now come together to hammer out such a negotiated
solution to the crisis.
  b.. The international community should actively support the process -
including by facilitating Mugabe's exit; mediating between the parties; and
defining a clear sequence of benchmarks that would lead to genuine
democratic reform.
Events of the last few weeks show that the situation in Zimbabwe is
dangerously unstable. The international community - and regional actors, in
particular - must step in to prevent the country imploding by supporting a
negotiated settlement. It is high time to stop the suffering of the people
of Zimbabwe.

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More violence possible, analysts warn

HARARE, 26 March 2007 (IRIN) - Pro-democracy activists have warned that
protests in Zimbabwe might become even more violent after the bombing of a
passenger train, a supermarket and a police station over the course of
Friday and Saturday last week.

The police announced that they were now authorised to use live ammunition in
response to violence. Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, the national
police spokesman, told the official daily, The Herald, that the police had
increased patrols and had been "given the green light to open fire in cases
involving violence".

According to Bvudzijena, "We are now allowed to use firearms in cases of
this nature."

He said a supermarket in the capital, Harare, was bombed on 24 March, and
suspected opposition supporters threw teargas canisters and a petrol bomb at
a train carrying about 750 passengers bound for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
city, at a stopover point a few kilometres outside Harare, on 23 March,
injuring five people.

The injured were taken to Harare Central Hospital where a pregnant woman was
reported to have sustained injuries and suffered a miscarriage due to shock.

In the eastern city of Mutare, about 300km from Harare, unknown assailants
razed a police station with a petrol bomb, but no injuries were reported.

"There have not been any arrests so far but we know these are MDC
[opposition party Movement for Democratic Change] people who have embarked
on a violent campaign against the government. Last week they also tried to
petrol-bomb the same passenger train in Bulawayo but they failed; we are
following leads and arrests will soon follow," claimed Bvudzijena.

A police detective in the capital told IRIN that an urgent police notice was
doing the rounds, notifying officers countrywide that they had permission to
open fire. "There is a growing worry that if the police do not adopt a hard
stance against the growing number of violent activities, the situation might
get out of hand," said the detective, who refused to be named.

The MDC has distanced itself from the bombings. "We don't know anything
about that. Anyone could have done it, including the police themselves, or
the CIO [Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organisation), so that it could be
blamed on us," alleged MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.

"More violence is certainly coming, not because people love violence but
because they are frustrated," commented John Makumbe, a political analyst.
"All they need is change, and the general feeling is that Zimbabweans have
nothing more to lose. They have lost everything, hence their determination,
as evidenced by recent street protests, to take the government head-on."

Zimbabwe has been simmering for the past two months, as ordinary people
battle with shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency, as well as an
annual inflation rate of more than 1,700 percent.

But the situation has taken a violent turn since the police imposed a ban on
political rallies last month. After an opposition supporter was shot dead by
the police and opposition leaders allegedly beaten while in custody, strikes
and protests have given way to bombings of police stations across the

Lovemore Madhuku, a political scientist and chairman of the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an umbrella organisation for civil groupings,
said despite the heavy-handedness of state agents in dealing with protests,
it was clear that Zimbabweans were more determined now than ever before to
shape their future.

"This is a dangerous situation that could degenerate into a full-blown civil
strife ... As the old adage goes, a hungry man is an angry man; people are
hungry and yearning for change," said Madhuku. "What makes tension even
higher is the fact that government has further tightened its grip on
political space; the banning of rallies has frustrated many people, hence
the violent clashes with the police."

Political parties have reacted strongly to the police announcement on the
use of live ammunition. "It is unheard of in any democratic society to use
live ammunition against your critics ... While the threat by the police is
meant to instil fear in the opposition's leadership and membership, we are
not going to stop organising protests to make sure that we deliver a
democratic Zimbabwe to the people," the MDC's Chamisa told IRIN.

Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of one of the MDC factions, alleged:
"Disturbing as the statement by the police might be, there is nothing new in
their threat, as the government has always been using live ammunition
against unarmed, innocent civilians, who are merely seeking to express

The South African Development Community (SADC) will be holding a summit on
Zimbabwe in Tanzania on Thursday and Friday. The meeting will be attended by
the SADC's security 'troika', Angola, Tanzania and Namibia, as well as
current SADC chair Lesotho, outgoing chair Botswana, and incoming chair

Zambia's foreign minister, Mundia Sikatana, told IRIN that the meeting would
discuss all aspects of recent events in Zimbabwe. "We are very concerned
with the situation [there]. Because we are close neighbours, we get
affected: when they sneeze, you also sneeze."

Zambia is the only country in the region to have called for a "new approach"
to resolving Zimbabwe's crises.

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Britain keeps up pressure on "vulnerable" Mugabe


Mon 26 Mar 2007, 14:41 GMT

LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Britain kept up pressure on Zimbabwe on Monday,
saying it would work to isolate an increasingly vulnerable President Robert
Mugabe and calling on African nations to confront him.

Mugabe's government has been widely condemned for violently suppressing a
March 11 rally in which scores of Mugabe opponents were arrested and later
appeared in court showing signs they had been beaten.

The 83-year-old president, who has ruled for 27 years, has threatened to
throw out Western envoys critical of his government and blames the country's
economic meltdown on the legacy of British colonialism and ongoing Western

"Until the Zimbabwean regime changes course, we will maintain the
international spotlight on Zimbabwe and increase Mugabe's isolation,"
Foreign Office minister Ian McCartney told parliament on Monday.

Senior Foreign Office officials have said they believe Zimbabwe is near a
"tipping point" and internal unrest in Mugabe's ZANU-PF party may soon
produce a challenger.

A senior British official said last week Britain would put a small package
of principles for re-engagement to any emerging successor to Mugabe and
"would look closely at what that faction stood for".

"Mugabe's men might break the bones of the democracy campaigners but they
cannot break the quiet dignity of these extraordinary human beings. One day
Zimbabwe will return to democracy," McCartney said on Monday.

"Mugabe knows this. He knows he has got it wrong and that the crisis has
resulted in an increase in internal pressure. He feels more vulnerable,"
McCartney said.

With inflation topping 1,700 percent and unemployment at more than 80
percent, Zimbabwe's economy is shrinking faster than any other outside a war

McCartney urged other African nations to confront Mugabe and said Britain
would be on hand to help its former colony once there was a suitable
internal environment.

"Without the engagement of the Southern African Development Community, with
its commitment to promoting good governance and respect for human rights and
the rule of law, the situation will deteriorate further," he said.

The SADC meets this week in Tanzania with Zimbabwe expected to be on the

"We stand ready to help, with our international partners, but only when
there is an environment inside Zimbabwe where that assistance will be
effective," McCartney said.

Britain and the United States have called for more sanctions. But McCartney
stressed they would be targeted at Mugabe's regime and not hurt "ordinary

He denied Mugabe's claim the European Union had imposed economic sanctions
against his country and said Britain was looking to extend the measures
which include an arms sales ban, a travel ban and an assets freeze.

Britain is also pressing for action at the United Nations.

"We expect a tough EU statement on the Human Rights Council this week and a
humanitarian briefing on the U.N. Security Council next week," McCartney

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Drought wipes out crops in southern Zimbabwe

Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)

Date: 26 Mar 2007

Harare_(dpa) _ Drought has wiped out 95 per cent of maize crops in a
province of southern Zimbabwe, reports said Monday.

Matabeleland South was now expected to harvest just 5,580 tons of maize, out
of the province's required 115,565 tons, the official Herald newspaper said.

Matabeleland South needs to be declared a disaster province so that the
country can mobilize a big relief programme for both human beings and
livestock, the paper quoted a drought situation report as saying.

It said 226,893 school pupils were in need of supplementary food this year.
It also said that livestock in the cattle-rearing province would require
supplementary feeding from May, when grazing would no longer be adequate.

Last week Zimbabwe's Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo declared 2007 a
drought year. He announced that crops in some areas were a complete

Even traditional greenbelt areas have been affected by the dry spell, he

While the government blames its perennial food shortages on drought, critics
say a controversial land reform programme has also seriously affected
production in the key agricultural sector.

Shadow agriculture minister in a faction of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) said Monday that food shortages would coincide with
presidential and parliamentary elections expected to take place in March
next year.

By March next year the food shortage and starvation will be at its worst.
That is when these sham elections will be held, the MDC's Renson Gasela said
in a statement.

"I appeal to the donors who have saved the people from death over the past
seven years to come forward and save the lives of many innocent people from
certain death at the hands of this uncaring government," he said.

The MDC has in the past accused President Robert Mugabe's government of
using food aid or the threat of withholding it from desperate rural
households - to buy support ahead of elections.

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SA Parliament to hold Zimbabwe debate

Sunday Times, SA

26 March 2007

An urgent debate on Zimbabwe will be held by the National Assembly on
Wednesday afternoon.

Permission for such a debate - requested by the Inkatha Freedom Party - was
granted by the Speaker Baleka Mbete today.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) chief whip, Koos van der Merwe, said his party
was pleased that its request for an urgent debate on Zimbabwe as a matter of
national and international importance will be granted this week.

"It is time that all parties represented in National Assembly talk about the
appalling situation that our neighbour, Zimbabwe, is currently finding
itself in. The current disturbing events in Zimbabwe will definitely have
serious political, economic and social consequences for Zimbabwe, South
Africa and the south(ern) African region.

"As things stand at the moment, South Africa is being judged as a spectator
while our neighbour's house is on fire. South Africa cannot continue to keep
quiet while Zimbabwe degenerates into civil unrest and chaos. We must as a
nation strongly condemn the Mugabe regime's gross violations of human rights
against opposition supporters and leaders," said Van der Merwe.

I-Net Bridge

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Tsvangirai denies meeting Zanu PF but says he is ready to negotiate

26th Mar 2007

By a Correspondent

LONDON - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, has denied reports that he held a meeting Friday with senior
Zanu PF officials from the Emmerson Mnangagwa and General Solomon Mujuru
camps to seek ways through which to remove the ageing Robert Mugabe from

Tsvangirai, speaking on the BBC's Today Programme, said such a meeting never
took place but he remained open to such initiatives that could help bring to
an end the country's ongoing political and economic crisis.

Media reports suggested Tsvangirai had been called into a meeting by the
feuding Zanu PF camps who are largely seen by the West as the only ones
capable of removing Mugabe from office.

The reports said Tsvangirai, who is widely backed by the West to take over
but was regarded as weak, has the support that will bring in the much-needed
investment and donor money once Mugabe was out of office. They alleged the
meeting was to discuss some power-sharing deal and a sequence to ease Mugabe
out of office.

Channel Four News reported Friday that it had uncovered a "secret" meeting
between vice president Joice Mujuru, a leading contender to take over from
Mugabe, and her South African counterpart, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, in
Johannesburg, ostensibly to discuss Mugabe's exit strategy and related
issues. The South African meeting was said to have been held as Tsvangirai
was meeting the Zanu PF officials in Harare.

Said Tsvangirai: "There was no such meeting. That's mere speculation by the
media. Nothing true from those stories. We have always called on all
patriotic Zimbabweans who want to see a solution without Mugabe to come
together and talk. We have always put the Road Map on the table as the only
way out of this crisis. There seems to be a national convergence that such a
road map between some in Zanu PF who see a future without Mugabe and the MDC
is the only way to deal with the political crisis."

He said a negotiated settlement was the only way through which to get
Zimbabwe back on the recovery path.

Expressing confidence that the Zanu PF government was approaching its end,
Tsvangirai urged Britain to put pressure on Mugabe through the international
community but said he had no desire to see the UK taking unilateral action
against Zimbabwe.

"I think every time you make reference to Britain, it raises some anxiety
within Mugabe's headquarters. What I've always said is yes, Britain should
play a part, but it should play a part within a much wider context," he

"In other words, working within the EU and the United Nations framework to
try to put pressure on Mugabe to find a solution to the pressures that
Zimbabwe is facing."

Tsvangirai said his party would be happy to let Mugabe go into retirement
through "an honourable exit". "Our position is that we expect him as a
founding president to have an honourable exit. We will be happy to put him
aside and concentrate on the job at hand - to concentrate with moving the
country forward, create jobs but unfortunately he sees us being vindictive.
That's not the case," he said.

Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe had reached the "tipping point" with the
"paralysed" Mugabe remaining as the stumbling block to efforts to deal with
the ongoing crisis.

Meanwhile the Guardian newspaper reports today that the West is largely
frustrated by Tsvangirai and is working to split Zanu PF from Mugabe ahead
of a potentially decisive meeting this week.

Diplomatic sources, according to Chris McGreal, say Britain and the US
believe that the strongest challenge to Mugabe comes not from the opposition
but from within the ruling Zanu PF.

Therefore the West is encouraging dissent by reassuring rebellious factions
that their problem is with Mugabe and not the ruling party.

Western officials are said to be looking in particular to General Mujuru,
whose province refused to endorse Mugabe's plans to extend his reign by
another two years. The sleek General is take Mugabe on at Wednesday's
Central Committee meeting, according to international reports.

Mujuru is said to have met European and US officials who have said such an
agreement would end targeted sanctions against Zanu PF officials, including
travel restrictions, and lead to a resumption of aid.

Under such an agreement, Zanu PF leaders, including Mugabe, would be granted
amnesty from prosecution for past crimes such as the Matabeleland massacres
in the 1980s and more recent violence.

Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the other MDC faction, told the Guardian his
party would not support such an initiative outside a new people-driven

Zimbabwe has for the past few weeks been catapulted back onto the news and
political agenda following the savage police beatings of the MDC's founding
leader, Tsvangirai, and other pro-democracy leaders intending to attend a
prayer meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.

Mugabe, however, remains defiant, saying he would participate in next year's
presidential election and telling the world that Tsvangirai would never rule

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Step one on a roadmap in Zimbabwe must be Mugabe's retirement next year

Comment from The Cape Times (SA), 26 March

Was Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad playing the cunning octopus on
Friday? Was he squirting ink to conceal some "quiet" Zimbabwe diplomacy by
his seniors? Pahad delivered a blustering attack that day on the South
Africa media, for what he implied was its unhelpful criticism of his
government's diplomacy on Zimbabwe. (He said he preferred to call it
"constructive", rather than "quiet" diplomacy). He insisted there was plenty
of that going on, including frequent consultations with both the ruling Zanu
PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). On that same
day, Zimbabwe's vice- president, Joyce Mujuru, was visiting Pretoria,
apparently to meet her counterpart Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and, it is
rumoured, also President Thabo Mbeki. The South African government insisted
her visit was private, so it could not divulge who she was meeting and why.

However, Zimbabwean government sources reportedly said that her main aim was
to lobby the South African government's support to persuade Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe to retire next year. If that was what Mujuru was
doing, then Pahad could have been practising what he was preaching -
creating noise to conceal the muffled sounds of quiet diplomacy - presumably
from the ears of Mugabe mainly. Would that it were so! Mujuru and her main
rival to succeed Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, are believed to agree on one
thing - the need for Mugabe's imminent departure. The destruction of the
economy is now so comprehensive that it has begun to affect even the
"chefs", who had been relatively immune before. So the likes of Mujuru and
Mnangagwa appear to have thwarted Mugabe's original plan to change the
constitution to synchronise presidential and parliamentary elections. This
would enable him to extend his term of office from next year until 2010. But
Mugabe' response has been to threaten, then to stand again next year,
leaving him in power until 2014 when he will be 90.

Some Zanu PF officials believe the horrifying prospect of a nonagenarian
president destroying the remaining fragments of the economy, may persuade
the party's central committee, which meets this week, to grant Mugabe his
original wish to stay on until 2010. It is pretty certain that Mbeki wants
Mugabe to step down. Before the last presidential election in 2005, the ANC
sent a delegation to Harare to ask Zanu PF to nominate another candidate.
The party refused. For some time Mbeki's preferred solution for the Zimbabwe
crisis has been to get a new president from within Zanu PF, rather than a
new ruling party to replace Zanu PF. The MDC's implosion since then has now
also persuaded most of the international community that this is the only
possible route to change. But is that was what Mujuru was doing here? What
does she think South Africa can do? Over the next fortnight or so, the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) is to hold a summit in
Tanzania to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis.

Perhaps that summit can agree that step one on a roadmap must be Mugabe's
retirement next year, although Zimbabwe's friends are unlikely to agree. But
in any case, what if he simply says "go to hell", as he probably will? It
has been suggested that SADC could offer him immunity against prosecution
for his many crimes against humanity. But that does power does not seem to
lie within the SADC's remit. The SADC could also encourage the dissidents in
the Zanu PF camp, by offering them incentives if they do get rid of Mugabe.
But that would probably need to be balanced by some disincentives - in the
form of growing regional isolation - if they don't. In other words, even
constructive diplomacy would seem to need to include the threat of an
element of destructive diplomacy if it hopes to succeed. South Africa and
the rest of the SADC have often deplored what they see as the objective of
countries like Britain in Zimbabwe - regime change. Yet even they now seem
to acknowledge that is all that can now save the country.

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Dutch human rights ambassador denied entry to Zimbabwe

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 26, 2007

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: Zimbabwe has refused entry to a Dutch human rights
ambassador for talks on the escalating political and civil crisis, a Dutch
government spokesman said Monday.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen summoned Zimbabwe's ambassador to demand an
explanation and to protest, said ministry spokesman Dirk Jan Vermeij.

No one was available for comment at Zimbabwe's embassy in Brussels.

Human Rights Ambassador Piet de Klerk had been due to fly Sunday to Zimbabwe
for talks with non-governmental groups and members of Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe's administration about the deteriorating situation in the
southern African nation.

"Unfortunately, he was not allowed to enter the country and that is for us
of course a reason to ask the ambassador why," said Vermeij.

In a statement, the ministry said Verhagen "finds the Zimbabwean
authorities' actions unacceptable." The Netherlands "is deeply concerned
about developments in Zimbabwe, particularly the human rights situation," it
It was not immediately clear when Verhagen's meeting with the ambassador
would take place, Vermeij said.

Mugabe has faced international condemnation for recent attacks on opposition
political activists, including Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, who was badly beaten after his arrest March 11 when police
crushed a prayer meeting the government banned, calling it an illegal
political protest. Several other leaders were also hospitalized.

Zimbabwe's foreign minister had gathered Western diplomats last week and
accused them of going too far in supporting opposition activists. The
foreign minister, acting on instructions from Mugabe, told the Western
diplomats they should not involve themselves in the internal affairs of the
host nation and said Zimbabwe would not hesitate to use provisions allowing
it to expel diplomats.

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Mugabe's daughter is studying in London

Press Association
Monday March 26, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

A minister today said the government should consider extending a travel ban
imposed on Robert Mugabe to members of his family after it emerged that the
Zimbabwean president's daughter is studying at a top London university.
Foreign Office minister Ian McCartney told MPs in a Commons statement on
Zimbabwe that Bona Mugabe was studying at the London School of Economics and
Political Science (LSE), which is part of London University.

And he said the travel ban imposed on Mr Mugabe and his regime should be
extended to their children.

The Tory MP James Duddridge asked: "Can you confirm whether or not Robert
Mugabe's daughter Bona Mugabe is currently studying at the London School of
Economics and, if so, who is paying?"
Mr McCartney replied: "The first part of your question, I understand that is
the case. The second part, I am not certain about that but I will write to
you and give a copy to the house.

"What I did say, if you will remember, in my remarks, without prompting, in
response to the member for Cotswold [the Conservative MP Geoffrey
Clifton-Browne] was that I believe the travel ban, we should consider
seriously extending that to children of the family."

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Minister mistaken over Mugabe claim

Last updated:Monday 26-Mar-2007 20:41:13

Foreign Office minister Ian McCartney has been forced to stage a humiliating
climbdown after telling MPs that Robert Mugabe's daughter was studying at a
British university.

Mr McCartney disclosed during a statement on Zimbabwe in the Commons that
Bona Mugabe was attending the prestigious London School of Economics and
Political Science (LSE).

But later, after the university issued a denial, a Foreign Office
spokeswoman admitted the minister had "misrecollected".

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2007, All Rights Reserved.

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Barclays SA subsidiary funding fuel for Mugabe regime

By Tererai Karimakwenda
26 March, 2007

ABSA, the Barclays Bank subsidiary in South Africa, is allegedly funding
fuel supplies for the Zimbabwean government, which include jet fuel for
military airplanes. This has been revealed by a British NGO called Rights
and Accountability in Development (RAID), which monitors corporate ethics in
third world development. Tricia Feeney from RAID said the group has reported
this to the British Foreign Office, which is responsible for sanctions, and
the Department of Trade and Industry which handles corporate governance and
ethical behaviour by British registered companies and banks. She explained
that reliable sources had informed them of a US$35 million revolving fund
made available to Zimbabwe by ABSA for emergency fuel supplies.

The question is whether funding fuel for fighter planes violates existing
E.U. regulations against selling armaments to Zimbabwe. Feeney said there
might not be a violation because the E.U. targeted sanctions apply only to
weapons. But she raised a separate issue: "Nevertheless then there is an
ethical issue whether at this particular moment a British bank should be
assisting a regime that is violating human rights on such a scale to keep
going by making fuel available."

RAID has also contacted Barclays Bank about the ABSA fuel facility for
Zimbabwe. They are awaiting responses from the Home Office and the
Department of Trade and Industry. One report said the ABSA credit line was
guaranteed to the suppliers, who were based in the United Arab Emirates.
They would provide "up to 25 thousand metric tonnes of fuel per month,
including Jet A1 fuel for aircraft Zimbabwe bought from China.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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MDC: Zim govt behind acts of violence

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

26 March 2007 06:19

      Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on
Monday accused the government of sponsoring recent acts of violence,
including petrol-bombing incidents, to justify a major crackdown on the
resurgent party.

      The police have accused the MDC of leading a "militia-style"
campaign of violence to topple President Robert Mugabe from power, charges
the opposition party rejects.

       "There is no reason why the MDC should target innocent civilians
because we have chosen a non-violent struggle," said Nelson Chamisa,
spokesperson of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC.

      "It is the government that is trying to provoke the people into
anarchy. They are at the centre of this terrorism; it is state-sponsored
terrorism," added Chamisa.

      Tensions are running high in the Southern African state, fuelled
by an acute economic crisis that critics blame on mismanagement by Mugabe
and that has seen poverty levels rising and inflation soaring to
world-record levels.

      The MDC, which has been weakened by internal fights, has in the
past two months re-emerged to confront Mugabe over the deteriorating
economy, which has set it on a collision course with the government.

      Police brutally stopped an MDC and civic groups prayer rally
this month, injuring Tsvangirai and several opposition politicians, which
exposed Harare's poor human rights record and drew strong international
condemnation. The United States and Britain have warned of stiffer sanctions
against Mugabe.

       But the government says it is the MDC that is in fact
responsible for rising political violence in the country as well as the
petrol bombing of three police stations, a passenger train and a supermarket
in Harare on the weekend.

      The police said this was part of the MDC's "militia-style"
violence and said they were tracking opposition activists suspected of being
behind the bombings.

      But Chamisa said the bombings that took place in Harare and in
the cities of Gweru and Mutare were orchestrated by the government as a
pretext to justify intensifying its violent crackdown on opponents.

      Political analysts said Mugabe had, since coming to power at
Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980, sought every excuse to clamp
down on opponents whenever in trouble.

      They pointed to the arms cache incident in Matabeleland during
the early years of independence, which saw the government's North Korean
Fifth Brigade unleashing a terror campaign against the minority Ndebele
tribe in the south of the country, which did not back his Zanu-PF party.

      More than 20 000 mostly innocent Ndebele civilians were killed
during the military crackdown.

       Mugabe also plotted treason charges against his former leader,
the late Ndabaningi Sithole, while Tsvangirai was accused of plotting to
assassinate Mugabe with the help of a discredited Canadian public-relations

      The High Court freed Tsvangirai because the state could not
prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

       The MDC was, four years, ago also accused of murdering prominent
Zanu-PF activist and former liberation fighter Cain Nkala, although the
murder case crumbled spectacularly when it started to emerge that colleagues
in the ruling party could have killed him.

      "The violence cases have the hallmarks of Zanu-PF; I am quite
sure the intelligence people are behind all this to discredit the MDC. It
has always been Mugabe's strategy to resort to dirty tactics when in
trouble," John Makumbe, a political analyst and strong Mugabe critic, said.

      Chamisa said Mugabe had been shocked by the MDC's resurgence
this year after it split into two opposing factions in October 2005
following differences over strategies to tackle Zanu-PF.

      The MDC has led a campaign to stop Mugabe from extending his
rule by two more years to 2010, a plan that was also rejected by the veteran
leader's allies in his Zanu-PF party. But Mugabe has once again stirred
controversy by announcing he intends to run in a presidential election next

      The opposition accuses Mugabe of massive vote fraud since 2000
but the veteran leader says he has won smartly. He has of late accused the
MDC of resorting to violence, saying this was because the opposition party
had failed in elections.

      Chamisa said Zimbabweans were too pre-occupied with trying to
survive the economic crisis to waste scarce fuel (in short supply in the
country) on petrol bombs targeting innocent civilians. He said it was the
government that had the expertise and resources to carry out such acts of

      "We are a political party and not a rebel movement. Mugabe is
using sterile and exhausted strategies, the people know this," said Chamisa.
"They [the government] are trying to justify repression. They are desperate
and dangerous, that is why they are trying to create a victim image out of a
monster." - ZimOnline

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EU will send R77m to troubled Zimbabwe


March 26 2007 at 04:03PM

Brussels - The European Commission on Monday said it was sending
eight-million pounds (about R77-million) in food aid to help victims of the
ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe.

The EU funds will be used to provide food for the most vulnerable
population groups, including people with HIV and Aids and orphans.

The commission said that currently, one out of six people in Zimbabwe
needs food assistance, many of them Aids orphans.

Since 1990, HIV and Aids has slashed the average life expectancy in
Zimbabwe from 61 to 33 years. As a result of the HIV and Aids crisis one in
five Zimbabwean children - a total of one million - is an orphan.

The commission's decision coincides with reports that drought has
wiped out 95 percent of maize crops in a province of southern Zimbabwe.

Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo earlier this month declared 2007 a
drought year, adding that crops in some areas were a complete write-off.

While the government of President Robert Mugabe blames its perennial
food shortages on drought, critics say a controversial land reform programme
has also seriously affected production in the key agricultural sector.

The commission said that Zimbabwe's profound crisis had many reasons.
These included poor governance, a crumpling economy with the highest
inflation rate in the world, an HIV and Aids pandemic, food insecurity and
erratic weather conditions.

EU-funded food aid projects in Zimbabwe will be implemented by
non-governmental relief organisations, United Nations agencies and the Red
Cross/Red Crescent movement.

The new aid package comes on top of ?10-million in food aid earmarked
for 2007. - Sapa-dpa

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Hungry Zimbabweans spend scarce pennies in South Africa


Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:03PM BST
By Rebecca Harrison

MUSINA, South Africa (Reuters) - It's lunchtime at Patel's supermarket in
this border town and a steady stream of Zimbabweans are stocking up on
supplies for a country in crisis.

One of the last shops before South Africa's border with its northern
neighbour, Patel's once did a roaring trade selling everything from ketchup
to pyjamas for Zimbabweans hit by food shortages and hyper-inflation at

But as Zimbabwe, once one of Africa's most prosperous countries, slides
deeper into economic meltdown, most of the shop floor is now packed with two
items -- soap and cooking oil.

"People can't think about luxuries like biscuits or deodorant any more,"
said Gilbert Dube, who runs a business shuttling essential groceries over
the border and on to Harare.

"They just buy what they really need -- they have to wash and they have to

With inflation topping 1,700 percent and unemployment at more than 80
percent, Zimbabwe's economy is shrinking faster than any other outside a war
zone and many people struggle to pay for even the most basic foodstuffs.

Analysts say the growing crisis threatens economic stability in the region
and officials say South Africa, which has maintained a policy of quiet
diplomacy concerning its neighbour, is increasingly worried about the mess
on its doorstep.

Widespread food shortages are pushing prices for groceries through the roof,
forcing those Zimbabweans who can afford it to go shopping in Musina.

"A bottle of oil costs 14 rand (99 pence) here," said Beauty Hotel as she
hauled two huge bags along the street to the shared taxi depot in Musina
with her elderly mother. "At home it would cost Z$45,000 and by tomorrow it
will be Z$90,000 or more."

Using the official exchange rate, Z$90,000 is worth about $360 (183 pounds),
but on the more realistic black market it is about $3.75.


Hotel makes the 500 km (311 mile) trip to Musina from her home in Kwekwe,
central Zimbabwe, every month, lugging a bag stuffed with bank notes which
she exchanges for a few South African coins on the black market.

Critics blame President Robert Mugabe for wrecking the economy during his
27-year rule. Mugabe blames western countries which he says want to remove
him from power because of his seizure of white-owned commercial farms for
landless blacks.

Many in the former British colony survive on food parcels from relatives who
have left Zimbabwe to seek work in neighbouring South Africa.

Zimbabwe-bound buses leave Johannesburg city centre daily, often carrying
just a handful of people but piled high with boxes of rice, maize flour and
even the odd goat.

Many of the estimated 2 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa also
deliver monthly packages to drivers who transport the goods up to Harare and
other towns in pick-up trucks.

Herbert Mabara drives from Durban and Johannesburg every few days to the
town of Beitbridge, just over the Zimbabwean border.

"There is nothing in Zimbabwe. The shops are either empty or the things they
sell are too expensive," he said as he tied down the teetering tower of
packages in the back of his truck.

"Our people are hungry. Please take Mugabe to the UK and jail him."

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Mugabe Can No Longer Be Ignored By Neighbours

The Nation (Nairobi)

March 26, 2007
Posted to the web March 26, 2007

Chege Mbitiru

A Botswana newspaper last week recalled two events.

Due to shabby reporting, a Daily News writer provided no dates.
Personalities mentioned though make the events generally dateable.

Early 1980s, Zimbabwean troops were battling President Robert Mugabe's
opponents in Matabeleland.

Botswana's President Ketumile Masire hosted presidents of Mozambique,
Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A crowd in a stadium applauded the guests,
minus one.

When Sir Ketumile announced Mr Mugabe's entrance, the crowd froze. He tried
again. Silence! On another occasion, a Botswana tradition leader, Kgosi
Linchwe II, refused to tone down a written speech welcoming Mr Mugabe. Mr
Mugabe took another route. Botswanas had foresight.

Those were the hay days of The Big man. Big Man's misdeeds met, in a manner
of speech, a shrug. "It's a shaggy dog, but it's our dog." However, some
Botswanans had no qualms with "But it's deliberately getting shaggier."

Why is all this relevant? Well, the spirit the Botswanas demonstrated isn't
fashionable yet.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said as much recently. "What more has to happen
before we who are leaders, religious and political, of our mother Africa are
moved to cry out 'Enough is enough?' "

The archbishop only added a voice to ongoing criticism of Mr Mugabe. A
confrontation between police and "worshipers" in a Harare sparked it.
Organisers billed the fete as a "prayer rally." Actually, organisers meant
to bash Mr Mugabe.

Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, showed up.

Authorities said "thugs" attacked police. Police actually went to stop the
banned rally and did so.

It seemed to police Mr Tsvangirai resembled a red flag to a Spanish bull.
Police fired teargas canisters and beat up anyone in sight, arrested an
injured Mr Tsvangirai and scores and shot dead one person. A witness told
the BBC he and a few others in a crowd of about 1,000 fought back, for the
first time.

Both sides can claim rights. However, what harm other than wounded ego,
would utterances at the rally have caused Mr. Mugabe? The police brutality
only gave Mr Mugabe's enemies more ammunition and an opportunity to recount
his misdeeds.

The United States held Mr Mugabe personally responsible for the beatings.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett suggested the UN Human Rights
Council investigates the goings-on in Zimbabwe.

Initial reaction from African political leaders wasn't worth a line to
Grandma. Pressure mounted on South Africa, externally and internally, to
lean on Mr Mugabe's government. Pretoria didn't get it and tried to stymie a
UN Security Council briefing on the Zimbabwe crisis.

Lamely, the Cabinet, not President Thabo Mbeki, said the "beatings were
unacceptable" and emphasized the need for dialogue in Zimbabwe. Nothing new!

Ghana's President John Kufuor, current African Union chair, offered the
lamest excuse for continental do-nothing. He wondered whether the world
expects African nations to send a military expedition to Zimbabwe. "We are
in our various ways trying very hard," he said. Really?

Political chaos

However, Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa got to the verb. Zimbabwe equals
"political chaos and economic meltdown." He likened the country "to a
sinking Titanic whose passengers are jumping off in a bid to save their

Regional leaders, and particularly Mr Mbeki's silent diplomacy, had failed.
Mr Mugabe told critics "go hang."

On Friday, he blamed his woes on his perennial scapegoats: "little fellows
like Bush and Blair." Who is kidding? It's a truism to say Zimbabweans are
suffering. That's only part of the story. Some people in Mr Mugabe's divided
political machine, Zanu-PF party, prefer him aside. They obviously don't
wish to inherit a bigger mess than Zimbabwe already is.

A non-productive and volatile Zimbabwe is very bad in every way for Southern
Africa, indeed much of Africa.

Most frightening though is that continental do-nothing possibly indicates
Africa's political big wigs fear their turn might come. That would mean
emerging democratisation is a veneer. Ironically, Mr Mugabe might be the
person to bring about that realisation.

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The Tragedy In Zimbabwe Is Not For Sale

Mmegi, Botswana

 Monday, 26 March 2007

African journalists and politicians have always complained about foreign
journalists who are dispatched to cover an African country they know little
about and return to base with a story. The results were always skewed
reports, slanted views of reality and a severe, albeit ignorant, distortion
of what was really going on in that particular country.

Thus, I was totally flabbergasted to read, in the Mmegi / Monitor (March 12,
2007), two facile and painfully simplistic, not to mention insulting,
interpretations of the tragedy in Zimbabwe. Making it worse is the fact that
these two obnoxious articles were written not just by Africans but by
Batswana, who are, in all manner, our very own people, our neighbours. For,
you see, Botswana and Zimbabwe share more than geography, economy and

Someone, identifying himself as a Monitor 'Correspondent', gathered a couple
of friends one weekend, drove, for the very first time, to Zimbabwe to some
obscure place near Bulawayo, bought some beers and drove back to Botswana
the very same day. From this hardly half-day-long excursion, the enlightened
correspondent concluded that the Zimbabwean problem lies in excessive
alcohol consumption. Zimbabwe, he says, is "a nation of hopeless drunks."

"The whites' hatred of Comrade Bob," the young pioneer continued to insult
people's intelligence, "came as a result of his views on homosexuality and
land re-distribution." Is that all? This from someone who, a month ago,
stepped on Zimbabwean soil for the first time in his life and only for a
couple of hours?

The 'correspondent' informed the world that he did not encounter a single
pothole in Zimbabwe as warned by the media.

In the same edition of The Monitor (March 12, 2007), a pathetic victim, or
is it admirer, of Mugabe's murderous psyche wants us to blame Tony Blair and
George Bush for Mugabe's heinous crimes and his abuse of unarmed civilians.
I declare myself astounded. The man, who apparently likes to hold Monday
kgotlas  (meetings) when the convenor is still groggy from bhabhalasi, calls
my heartless and cruel president "Africa's bravest liberation warrior in
modern times."  I wonder how much bravery it takes to starve old grannies
and to manhandle women and children. I feel sad that there are educated and
up-and-coming young professionals (yuppies) who put their education and
enlightment aside and start to ignorantly promote horrid, self-defeating
garbage to the effect that the best Africa has to offer is in the likes of
Mugabe, Mbeki,  al Bashir, and a horde of imbeciles masquerading as
presidents. Africa is a gem and, quite clearly, a gem that was cast before
swine. Africa has no leader, never had a leader. The man at the kgotla has
got a problem of some sort. Really.

Just in which war did Mugabe "fight"? Mugabe only joined the determined
freedom fighters in Mozambique when the war effort was in full swing, having
relocated from Zambia. Conniving and with a lot of help from Samora Machel,
Mugabe's attempts to hijack the leadership of the guerrilla movement almost
destroyed the liberation army. Mugabe, however, succeeded to wrestle the
leadership of the party. He went on to 'direct the war' from the comfort of
Maputo. Subsequently, he sidelined all the founding fathers of the party, of
which he was none. To my knowledge, of the four founding fathers of ZANU-PF,
only Enos Mzombi Nkala is the sole survivor.

Be that as it may, having worked for Zimbabwe's national broadcaster, which
is under the Ministry of Information and, thereby, is virtually the Public
Relations arm of the government, I am aware that the government distributes
drivel for publication through different embassies. Thus, some embassies may
find locals prepared to lend their names to such loathsome communiquZs to
disguise their real origin, or, the embassies might actually find an
unfortunate, under par but bona fide local who believes in the claptrap and
actually writes about it "in his own words."

Linquenda House (then the Department of Information's Headquarters in
Harare) churned out short, precise words and phrases to be repeated over and
over again. The revolting practice was refined and perfected by Jonathan
Moyo, before his own catchphrases were used to describe him.

Thus, we are always urged to be "vigilant" and "to unite against the
country's foes." We are always reminded of the 'dear leaders' who are
fighting "lone battles against evil forces." Opposition parties are
traitors, we are told. Anyone who is abused by Mugabe and complains is
labeled a Tony Blair stooge. There's paranoia and they get on the offensive,
accusing 'evil forces' of bankrolling opposition parties "to make the
country ungovernable so that the Evil Forces can find an excuse to

It's all familiar, re-cycled hogwash from warped minds in government that is
being regurgitated by young sons of Africa who are too much in a hurry to
see their names in print for a little cash and don't even have the decency
to stop and think about the effects of their parroted outbursts. Clearly,
our African youngsters crave for role models.
Throughout history, people have always benefited from chaos. There are so
many people around the world who make bundles by repeating, for an
embarrassingly small fee, thoughts and ideas that promote humankind's worst
products, such as some of Africa's dictators. These people should go ahead
and mime the words since there might not be any other way for them to make a

But I know who killed my grandma and who torched my chicken run; it was not
Tony Blair. I know why there is no food on the shelves and I don't blame it
on George Bush, with all his faults. I know why, in Zimbabwe, there is no
Mazoe Orange, our very own proud brand, but there is plenty of it in
Botswana supermarkets.

"Mugabe," wrote a dreamer who woke up late, "is unselfishly fighting for the
liberation of Africa and its long suffering people." What blabber dash! I
need to buy a compass for somebody.

Apparently, for this 'bravest liberation warrior in modern times' to
liberate Africa, he first has to kill and maim his own people. To liberate
Africa, Mugabe has to ravage the economy and strip his own people of the
freedoms and liberties that he wants to bestow on Africa. To achieve glory
for Africa, Mugabe must refuse to listen to his own handpicked judiciary and
shame law and order that he wants to install elsewhere in Africa. Get out of
here! I am an African, a Zimbabwean, and I have a culture to subscribe to.
With more than half a century of life under successive white regimes and
decades of horror under a son of Africa, I stand and not only declare but
refuse to believe that there is a decent black person in any country who
truly supports the slavery and rape of black people in Sudan, or who sings
praises to homicidal 'Afrikan liberators.' I refuse to accept that in this
day of cyber communication, there is a real African yuppie that can look at
hundreds of orphans, maimed men, women and children in Zimbabwe and blame
the victims, telling those children they deserved what they got.

I have read that we can always tell a lot about a person by looking at the
kind of friends he keeps. How, really, can any person sing praises about
Bashir or Mugabe? Opposition leaders in Zimbabwe, he says, are traitors. And
those in Botswana and elsewhere? Just how much money can buy a soul? What is
going on in Zimbabwe is painful for all the people, whether or not they
support Mugabe. Since independence, we gave our leaders a lot of support and
renewed our faiths in them at subsequent elections. They are tired, we could
see; and when we, out of respect and concern for both the country and them,
suggested at the polls that they take the well-deserved rest, the body count
started.  It continues today as they kill us, telling us that Tony Blair has
coached us.

There is nothing as persistent, irritating and as patient as failure; and
failure always invites arrogance, which can easily mature into disregard for
life. Regardless of who is at fault, Zimbabwe's situation must not be
trivialized or prostituted for a quick cheque. It is not a laughing matter.
People are dying. With all Mugabe's faults or perceived successes, our
government is finding it difficult to care for its own people. And that is
very tragic indeed. Arrogance (because of rejection) and frustration
(because of failure) are causing untold misery and deaths. This is a
tragedy, not a comedy to be parodied for a little cash. Zimbabwe is in
distress. Having said that, now is the best time to move the Monday kgotlas
right into the middle of last week. We need to be sure that something called
'hangover', whether brewed or minted, is not influencing our contributions
at the Monday kgotla.  Weekends, just like Mugabe, can be very very

Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Zimbabwean journalist

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"South Africa must initiate smart sanctions against Zim"


Release, immediate: Monday 26 March, 2007

The South African government must stop pussy-footing around the deepening
humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. Our government must immediately end its
quiet diplomacy and enact smart sanctions against President Mugabe, members
of his government and all members of his family.President Mbeki must
recognize that quiet diplomacy has failed and he must tell President Mugabe
that because quiet diplomacy has failed, straight talking and targeted
action will now be tried.Smart sanctions would entail enacting a travel ban
on those individuals, so that Mugabe, his wife and his cronies to stop them
from coming to South Africa for luxurious holidays at the expense of the
Zimbabwean economy. Also, smart sanctions mean freezing all bank accounts
linked to them, preventing them from buying property in South Africa, or in
any way profiting from and enjoying the comforts that are available here and
not in Zimbabwe due to the destructive behaviour of President Mugabe.Smart
sanctions would not hurt the people of Zimbabwe. They will only hurt those
who are responsible for the mess in that country. The SADC should
immediately follow suit and block much of the sub-continent from President

The EU has long called for smart sanctions, but until recently there has
been a feeling among other African countries that Zimbabwe must be left to
sort itself out. However, the tide of opinion is turning as Zambia and
Ghana, both in a fairly good position economically and politically, have
begun openly to criticize the Zimbabwean dictatorship for the damage
inflicted on the country.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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MISA-Zimbabwe Communique on Banning of Political Rallies and Demonstrations

MISA-Zimbabwe Communiqué

26 March 2007

Ban on rallies impacts negatively on free and fair elections

The government should immediately lift the ban it has imposed on political
rallies and demonstrations in Harare .

Gweru based journalists, civil society organisations and representatives of
political parties made the call when they met at Gweru Press Club in the
Midlands capital of Gweru on 24 March 2007 to discuss the impact of the ban
on the right to freedom of expression and the staging of free and fair

Speaking during the press club debate on the ban, Member of the House of
Assembly for Gweru Urban Timothy Mukahlera said the ban impacted negatively
on the campaign programmes of opposition political parties ahead of the 2008
Presidential elections.

In a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of freedom of expression,
assembly and association the government on 21 February 2007 imposed a
three-month ban on demonstrations and political rallies in Harare .

In separate public notices published in The Herald on 21 February 2007 the
officers commanding Mbare and Harare South chief superintendents Tsitsi
Sadzamari and Thomsen Toddie Jangara respectively, said all demonstrations
and rallies in the two respective districts had been banned until 20 May

The police invoked the restrictive Public Order and Security Act (POSA) to
effect the bans under Section 27 which allows for the temporary prohibition
of the holding of public gatherings within police districts for a period not
exceeding three months.


The clashes in Highfield came a day after the High Court granted the MDC an
order allowing them to proceed with their rally to launch its 2008
presidential campaign at the Zimbabwe grounds in the same suburb.

Gweru Executive Mayor Zvidzai said elections should not viewed as one-day
events but a process that involved the holding of elections campaigns by the
contesting political parties. He stated that the failure by the opposition
MDC to launch its 2008 Presidential campaign on 18 February 2007 when the
police sealed off the venue of the meeting scheduled at Zimbabwe Grounds in
Harare 's suburb of Highfield would impact negatively on the holding of free
and fair elections.

 "The regime should not cry foul when observers declare elections not free
and fair," said Zvidzai.

He also questioned the selective application of the law by the police in
Harare saying the ZANU PF Women's League rally held at the ZANU PF
headquarters on 23 March 2007 was held in a banned district. He took the
opportunity to remind the police officers in attendance that their duty was
to protect the citizens in a fair and impartial manner.

The police cited the violence, looting and destruction of property in
Highfield on 18 February and Kambuzuma on 4 February 2007 as reasons for the
ban. On the 18 February 2007 the police violently stopped a High Court
sanctioned rally in Highfield by the opposition MDC leading to violent
clashes between riot police and supporters of the main opposition party.

However, Gweru Deputy Mayor Obert Tachi Ncube gave numerous examples of
dictatorships which fell soon after imposing such bans on their citizens
describing such actions as the last kicks of a dying horse.  He urged
journalists to cover the activities of those political parties finding it
difficult to hold rallies because of the bans.

While the ban on political rallies was effected in Harare only, participants
heard how the police were making it difficult for the opposition to hold
rallies in Gweru.  "In February we were told that we could not hold any
rallies before the President came for his birthday celebrations on 21
February 2007 and we agreed.  This amounts to the imposition of an
unofficial ban," a representative of the MDC said.

Participants at the Gweru Press Club debating session, however, said they
were not surprised that ZANU PF was not represented at the meeting despite
the fact that the ruling party had also been invited.  "They certainly did
not have anything to say because they are not affected by the bans," said a

Meanwhile, the police on 26 March 2007 said they had lifted the ban on
political rallies in Harare 's dormitory city of Chitungwiza .


 For any questions, queries or comments, please contact:

Nyasha Nyakunu
Research and Information Officer
Media Institute of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe
84 McChlery Ave
P.O Box HR 8113
Tel/Fax: 263 4 776165 / 746838

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Stand in solidarity with ZCTU


            ACTSA and the TUC call on you to stand with us as we stand in
solidarity with the Zimbabwe congress of trade unions (ZCTU). The ZCTU
issued the government of Zimbabwe  with demands, including a minimum wage
linked to a living wage. These demands have been ignored and so the ZCTU
have been spurred into action. They will be holding a two day general strike
on the 3rd and 4th of April throughout Zimbabwe . Trade unionists and
political activists in Zimbabwe and the international community are
encouraged to take to the streets and voice their disgust at the lack of
respect for the rights of workers.  In the UK we are organising a
demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Wednesday 4th April
to mirror the protest in Zimbabwe and show our complete support for the
plight of Zimbabweans. We must stand in solidarity at this desperate time
for our comrades and fellow human beings in Zimbabwe by making our
disapproval heard!

            Join us outside the  Zimbabwe Embassy , Zimbabwe House, 429
Strand, London , WC2R 0QE between 12-2pm on Wednesday 4th April. Please let
us know if you can make it by sending a quick email to

            If you can't make it to the demonstration, you can send a
message to the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on their contact us page and
cutting and pasting the following message:

            "I am outraged by the violent assault on the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU) offices and workers. The opportunity to peacefully
demonstrate, associate and campaign is a fundamental human right and the
raid on the offices, in which literature was seized, is a basic infringement
of this right. The people of Zimbabwe are entitled to demonstrate for
workers rights and democracy and therefore such a blatant attempt by the
Zimbabwean government to quash a member-based organisation like the ZCTU is
deplorable. Workers should not be treated or intimidated in this way. The
international community that supports democracy and human rights stands
firmly alongside all the innocent victims of this struggle and all who have
suffered at the hands of the Mugabe regime. Please pass on my deep disgust
with the present treatment of workers and activists to the Zimbabwean
government. We demand that they start adhering to these basic rights."

            In Solidarity,


      Action for Southern Africa - Peace, Justice, Solidarity

     Sent by ACTSA   231 Vauxhall Bridge Road London SW1V 1EH
            Email:    Tel: 020 3263 2001

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Regional Plan to Curb Mugabe Power Bid

Cape Argus (Cape Town)

March 25, 2007
Posted to the web March 26, 2007

Basildon Peta

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will try this week to force the ruling
Zanu-PF's top structures - the central committee and the Soviet-style
politburo - into endorsing him as its candidate for presidential elections
to be held next year.

The embattled Mugabe will face his party at two make-or-break meetings,
while the serious lobbying of regional southern African leaders by opponents
within Zanu-PF goes on to stop him from clinging to power.

To some in the party Mugabe is a liability Zimbabwe can longer afford.

His opponents are also secretly reaching out to the opposition to ensure it
agrees to any negotiated dispensation that would guarantee Mugabe a "safe
and dignified exit" from power.

Regional African countries will meet in Tanzania next month to discuss the
Zimbabwe crisis.

South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said the meeting had been
deferred from this week to next month to allow for more preparation, as it
might be attended at heads of state level.

Zanu-PF insiders and diplomatic sources say African leaders from a regional
troika on politics, defence and security are expected to agree on a master
plan to persuade Mugabe, 83, to retire next year in exchange for immunity
from any future prosecution.

They will also ask Mugabe to engage his opponents on a package of measures
for democratic reforms to ensure free and fair elections next year.

The plan will be put before Mugabe at a summit of all regional leaders in
Lusaka, Zambia, in August.

"The biggest problem is that Mugabe wants to prove a point to all his
critics, particularly the West," a highly placed Zanu-PF official said.

"He is likely to keep on showing everyone the middle finger unless African
leaders really threaten him with strong sanctions, which they are unlikely
to do."

The official said a master plan on paper was unlikely to work on a "very
stubborn leader like Mugabe", unless it was accompanied by threats of strong

Mugabe's deputy, Joyce Mujuru, is believed when she had talks with her South
African counterpart, Phumze Mlambo-Ngcuka, in Johannesburg on Friday, to
have lobbied for South African and regional pressure to persuade Mugabe not
to seek re-election next year.

Mujuru and Mugabe clashed recently after the vice president and her powerful
husband, Solomon Mujuru, the retired commander of the Zimbabwe National
Army, led efforts to block Mugabe's plans to extend his term by two more
years by using his appointed majority in parliament to change the
constitution and postpone next year's presidential elections until 2010.

But the Mujurus, backed by another faction vying to succeed Mugabe, which is
led by Emmerson Mnagangagwa, a cabinet minister, threw a spanner in the
works and Mugabe's "2010 power project" collapsed after it failed to win
unanimous party support.

A furious Mugabe then launched a broadside at Mujuru and her husband in a
state media interview to mark his 83rd birthday.

He announced that he would proceed with next year's elections, but would
stand as the party's candidate and rule until 2014, by which time he will be

Mugabe is thus expected to force his party into agreeing to harmonise the
presidential and parliamentary elections next year, instead of in 2010.

And, if elections are held under the current undemocratic electoral
framework - in which Mugabe's cronies deploy few polling stations in
opposition strongholds, leaving hundreds of thousands unable to vote - the
ageing Zimbabwean leader is sure to win again.

Mujuru wants his wife to succeed Mugabe because the influential general
wants to be the real power behind the throne.

The super-rich Mujuru also wants Mugabe to go so that he can save his vast
business empire, which has been crumbling under the economic chaos unfolding
under Mugabe.

With inflation at 1 700% and predicted to climb to 4 000% by year-end,
massive unemployment standing at 80% and the mainstay agricultural sector
having collapsed due to the seizure and redistribution of productive
white-owned farms, a complete meltdown in Zimbabwe now appears inevitable if
Mugabe remains in power. - Foreign Service

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Democracy or dictatorship


26/03/2007 09:08  - (SA)

Martelize Brink, News24 User

It seems almost impossible to think that the signs of trouble in Zimbabwe
started more than five years ago.

At the time I was sitting in a university lecture hall arguing that South
Africa must not interfere, taken our close proximity to the problem, but
that it is the international community's responsibility to take charge and
call Robert Mugabe on his actions.

With the passing of years and renewed violence and even more blatant
oppression, of the people Mugabe himself fought a guerilla war to liberate,
I felt an urgent need to revisit this argument.

The brutal beating of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change in Zimbabwe and Mugabe's oppressive laws restricting our
neighbours, has once again fueled a furor over why our government refuses to
vocally denounce the growing apartheid-like chaos, taking place in a country
that only shook off colonialism almost thirty years ago.

Even though I agree with the government's stance that Zimbabweans are the
core people to change their own socio-political environment, it is also true
that South Africa has a mandate to support these neglected citizens of
Africa, who have been forced to fight for freedom twice in their lifetime.

Dictatorship or democracy?

One of the causes of Zimbabwe's problems originates from a basic democratic
principle that demands the change of rule from one person or party to
another. Democracy can never bloom in an environment where absolute power
has been held by not only one party, but one person, for almost three

Without going into an argument about the inherent flaws of democracy and
which form of government suits the African cultural climate, this implies a
dictatorship and not a democracy.

There seems to be little difference between the liberation of Zimbabwe from
the hands of colonial leader Ian Smith and the liberation of Zimbabwe from
Mugabe himself.

A direct relation can therefore be drawn between the liberation of Zimbabwe
from Mugabe and the fight against apartheid.

It is true that the end of apartheid was made possible by South Africans
themselves, but unlike Zimbabwe, we received unwavering support from he
international community as well as our neighbours.

Why then do we ignore the call for help from those who supported us just
more than a decade ago? Could the silence possibly be a result of the
camaraderie experienced between figures like Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki during
their own struggles against oppression?

This explanation doesn't satisfy, because it would imply that our very own
president is keeping quiet about the crimes committed in Zimbabwe, because
he does't want to offend a buddy.

A bully on the playground

South Africa proudly brags with one of the best constitutions in the world,
steadfast about principles of human rights. Why then do we allow a bully
like Mugabe on our playground to trample over these very ideals?

Now, looking back at my argument that South Africa should sustain diplomatic
relations with Zimbabwe, it is undoubtedly time for this passivity to be
replaced with a sense of responsibility towards our neighbours in need.

Come on Mr Mbeki, we can no longer just "take note". With Human Rights Day
recently past, give us new reason to believe.

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Numbers needing medical treatment

The Zimbabwean

Stop Press (26-03-07)
In a four week period 97 people have  received medical treatment in Harare
as a result of abductions and beatings at the hands of the state sponsored
thugs, led by deputy Minister Saviour Kasukawere.

Of those 64 are men and 33 are women.

63 are MDC office bearers in the high density suburbs of Harare.

34 are NCA, WOZA or Civic Society Activists.

Beatings take the following forms:

Severe beating of buttocks, back and shoulders, lower lumbar region.
Falanga (beating of the soles of the feet).

Weapons: iron bars, whips, batons

Results : fractures, deep lacerations, deep soft tissue bruising.

Please bear in mind that many of the injured are either afraid or reluctant
to seek medical attention so the above numbers are conservative.

These numbers do not reflect the 40 people who sustained minor injuries at
the Prayer Rally, nor the group so badly brutalised with President Morgan

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Family trampled to death by elephant

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft, Zimbabwe Correspondent

Last Updated: 7:33pm BST 26/03/2007

      A British father watched in horror as his wife and daughter were
trampled to death by a rampaging elephant while on safari in Zimbabwe, it
emerged today.

      The bull was reported to have shrugged off gunfire from the family's
armed guard, before killing the two Britons and seriously injuring the guide
in Hwange National Park in north-west Zimbabwe.

      The father was unharmed.

      Barry Wolhuter, who runs the safari company The Hide, which hosted the
tourists, described the attack on Saturday as "horrendous".
      "The elephant was in musk, [sexually active]. Andy fired at the
elephant but it continued and knocked him over."

      The attack happened at the Kennedy 2 water pan, in the southern part
of the 10,000 sq mile park.

      Mr Wolhuter said his company had immediately and "indefinitely"
stopped its walking tours in Hwange.

      The British embassy in the capital, Harare, said the father was too
distraught to speak to the press.

      He was also "very busy sorting out the red tape" to organise transport
of the women's bodies back to Harare.

      A spokesman declined to name the family until an elderly relative in
Britain, believed to be the mother and grandmother of the two victims, had
been informed.

      The guide, named as Andy Trevillia, 38, a Zimbabwean, was seriously
injured and is in hospital in second city Bulawayo.

      Tour guides in Zimbabwe's national parks typically carry weapons to
protect tourists from elephants, hippopotamuses and crocodiles.

      Elephants are the second most dangerous animal for humans in Zimbabwe,
after crocodiles, and bulls can run at up to 25mph.

      In 2005, elephants charged and trampled 12 people to death, including
villagers trying to protect their crops.

      Conservation groups say the elephant population in Hwange, the nation's
largest nature preserve, has soared in the absence of regular culling
measures to control the population.

      However, Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task
Force, who has helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for Hwange
upkeep, claimed that unscrupulous tour companies were capturing wild
elephants and using them on safaris, upsetting the herds in the park.

      "The Hide has been operating successfully for several years and has
plenty of experience of walking safaris," he said.

      However, he said, "a group of young elephants were kidnapped from
their families last October for [another] safari company to be trained for
tourist rides.

      "About 140 families of elephants were directly affected by this.

      "When I was last in the Park the elephants were incredibly aggressive
towards humans. Many wildlife organisations warned that taking these young
elephants would have consquences."

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Gift Tandare memorial service in Harare Tuesday

By Violet Gonda
26 March 2007

Church, opposition and civic leaders are lined up to give a hero's send-off
at the memorial service of slain opposition activist Gift Tandare on
Tuesday. Tandare is the MDC and NCA activist who was shot in cold blood by
Harare police three weeks ago when the security forces used violence to
block opponents from gathering in Highfields.

An information alert from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said the service
will be held at Northside Community Hall in Borrowdale at 10am.

The leaders of both MDC factions Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, and
the chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly Dr Lovemore Madhuku
are expected to speak at the service.

The Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, was supposed to deliver the
main sermon but will not be present due to a difference of opinion with the
Catholic Archbishop of Harare, Robert Ndlovu. It was feared the outspoken
cleric's presence combined with that of the opposition leaders, would turn
the church service into a political gathering. Tandare was a Catholic in
Bishop Ndlovu's diocese.
Ncube confirmed that Bishop Ndlovu wanted it to remain apolitical.

Ncube said: "He (Ndlovu) did not want the opposition to come into it because
it could spoil the relations between the Catholic Church and the
 government." Ironically it was politics that killed Tandare, who leaves
behind a wife and three young children.

The Save Zimbabwe Campaign, which organised the fateful Highfields prayer
rally that resulted in Tandare's death, have urged the people to attend the
service to celebrate the life of the activist.

Observers say the line up of speakers at the memorial service poses a threat
to Mugabe because they are respected individuals that could incite the
public to take to the streets. They say this is the reason the increasingly
paranoid regime seized Tandare's body from a funeral home in Harare two
weeks ago and took it to his rural Mt. Darwin home for burial, without his
wife's consent.

Archbishop Ncube told us that the situation is so bad in Zimbabwe that life
is beginning to be senseless for the ordinary people. It is because of this
worsening crisis that even the church is finally becoming outspoken and
militant. The cleric said: "Church leaders can no longer ignore the ugly
situation that is there.the situation is such that no one can be blind to it
anymore. No one can excuse the situation any more and Mugabe, himself, is
aware that the people are pretty angry now.

Just last Wednesday the Archbishop told a press conference that he was ready
to face bullets and prepared to lead peaceful resistance to force Robert
Mugabe to step down. He said in order to restore the rule of law fellow
Zimbabweans had to fill the streets in their thousands in protest.

Ncube told us: "We've been soft peddling for so long and people are
suffering, and we've been trying to keep safe and sometimes running away
from facing trouble. And I was telling them that its time we get off from
our comfortable seats and stand with the people and suffer with the people
otherwise we are not really giving witness to Jesus Christ."

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Namibia imposes tight visa restrictions for Zimbabweans

Zim Online

Tuesday 27 March 2007

      Own Correspondent

      WINDHOEK - Namibia has imposed visa restrictions on thousands of
Zimbabwean vendors, including prostitutes, flocking to the country every
month, as the economic meltdown in the former regional breadbasket slips to
unprecedented levels.

      Every month busloads of Zimbabwean vendors, with their handmade wares,
arrive at the SOWETO market in Windhoek's Katutura township.

      The impoverished Zimbabweans, who are being shut out in South Africa
and Botswana, now hope to find relief in Namibia. They have to endure a
journey of more than 2 500 km on a bus, sometimes taking three days, to
travel to their new Mecca, Windhoek.

      Last month a group of Zimbabwean prostitutes were arrested during a
raid on brothels in Windhoek.

      But pressure on the Namibian government by local vendors, who are
being squeezed out of business by the thousands of Zimbabweans flooding the
streets of Windhoek, has resulted in some restrictions being imposed on the
length the cross-border traders can stay in Namibia.

      The traders will now only be allowed to be in the country for a month.
There will also be strict screening at the ports of entry.

      "Those who come with nothing or with goods that are already available
in Namibia will be sent back. We have to protect the business of Namibians,"
said a senior Home Affairs Ministry, who preferred to remain anonymous due
to the sensitivity of the subject.

      Previously vendors coming to Namibia from Zimbabwe were allowed to be
in the country for 90 days. Most of them over-stayed and had to be deported.

      Now Namibian authorities want to restrict the number of Zimbabweans
allowed through the border into the country.

      Botswana and South Africa have also moved to limit the number of
Zimbabweans entering the countries, in view of the escalating violence in

      Botswana last week tightened its border controls fearing that the
unrest in Zimbabwe could lead to a renewed flood of illegal migration.

      South Africa has also tightened visa conditions for Zimbabweans as it
battles to control the numbers of those flocking to the southern gate way.

      Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's Industry and International Trade
Minister, Obert Mpofu, said the Namibian authorities had tightened up on
small traders coming to sell their goods in the country.

      "Yes they told us that they want to control the number of Zimbabweans
coming into the country. They are not extending the days of those already in
the country, but we are in consultation with them to try and find a

      "Some of our people (vendors) are owed money by Namibians so we are
saying they should not be kicked out of the country before they receive
their payment," Mpofu said.

      Mpofu was part of a group of senior government officials who
accompanied President Robert Mugabe on a four-day visit to Namibia earlier
this month. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe Opposition Officials Undergo Surgery in South Africa


      By Carole Gombakomba
      26 March 2007

Doctors at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, performed
emergency surgery Monday on a top official of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement
for Democratic Change after he fell ill during a visit there, MDC sources in
Johannesburg said.

William Bango, spokesman for MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai, was the third
official of the Zimbabwe opposition faction to undergo surgery at the
Johannesburg hospital for injuries sustained while in police custody in
Harare between March 11 and 13.

Former Zimbabwe member of parliament Roy Bennett, Johannesburg-based
treasurer for the Tsvangirai faction, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that tests showed Bango had sustained severe
internal injuries.

The faction's policy and research secretary, Sekai Holland, underwent
further surgery for fractures of her left arm and left leg, sources said.
Doctors who treated Holland in Zimbabwe said her condition had been made
worse by denial of timely access to medical treatment, which led to an
infection of deep soft tissue in her left leg.

Grace Kwinjeh, deputy secretary for international relations for the faction,
underwent an operation Friday to treat a brain contusion and to repair a
split right ear lobe, said sources in the political grouping.  Both women
were being treated for extensive and multiple soft tissue injuries to the
back, shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs.

Bennett said he fears others whom the faction alleges were severely beaten
by police in Harare may be suffering from internal injuries or psychological

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'Zim faces major food shortage'


26/03/2007 22:11  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe will fall 1.3 million tons short of its food needs this
year, the main opposition warned on Monday, as government said crops in one
region has been written off.

The southern African country requires two million tons of the staple corn
grain, but production this year is predicted at 700 000 tons, said the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary for agriculture Renson

"This gives a shortfall of 1.3 million tons," said Gasela.

The government has meantime said drought "is so severe that there has been
95% crop failure" in western Matabeleland South province, according to a
report cited by The Herald newspaper.

"By March next year, the food shortage and starvation will be at its worst,"
said Gasela.

Last week agriculture minister Rugare Gumbo told state television that
government had officially declared 2007 a drought year to allow it to take
emergency measures to avert starvation.

Saddled with economic crisis

The measures could include releasing funds to import food and possibly
appeal for external aid. But there has been no appeal yet.

Finance minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi had earlier told parliament that the
country was planning to import about 400 000 tons of maize to make up for a
possible food shortfall.

Gasela asked foreign donors to "come forward and save the lives of many
innocent people from death at the hands of this uncaring government".

Gumbo said the worst-hit provinces are Matebeleland in the west, Masvingo in
the south and Lower Midlands in the centre of the country.

The country is already saddled with economic crisis characterised by a
four-digit rate of inflation, unemployment of about 80% and chronic
shortages of basic foodstuffs like cooking oil, sugar and fuel.

Poor families often resort to skipping meals.

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Police claim MDC activist held over bomb attack

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 03/27/2007 07:05:43
ZIMBABWEAN police said Monday they had arrested a member of the country's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) over a petrol bomb attack on
a house in Harare's St Mary's surburb.

Chief police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said: "We
arrested the MDC supporter at a shopping centre in Chitungwiza. All the
petrol bombings that have taken place so far have been carried out by MDC

The police would not name the suspect who was said to have been involved in
the petrol bombing of a house in St Mary's, Chitungwiza two weeks ago.

The MDC has distanced itself from a series of petrol bombs that have mainly
targeted police stations. Last Saturday, the bombings assumed a new
dimension when a Bulawayo-bound passenger train was targeted.

Five people were treated for injuries following the train attack and a
pregnant woman miscarried.

The MDC embarked on a "defiance campaign" following police bans on political
rallies and demonstrations in Harare and Chitungwiza.

Political temperatures have been rising following the arrest of MDC leaders
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara together with other leading
opposition figures and civic activists.

Police have threatened to use lethal force against anyone involved in the
campaign of bombings which have so far seen attacks on three police
stations, during which three female police officers received serious burns.

President Robert Mugabe on Friday blamed the opposition for the recent
violence and dismissed claims that his rule was approaching an end.

He said a continued campaign of defiance or protests by opponents and civic
and church groups would be met "very vigorously" by security forces.

"We hope they have learned a lesson. If they have not, then they will get
similar treatment," he said.

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Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS Activists Concerned ARV Drive May Be Faltering


      By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
      26 March 2007

HIV/AIDS activists in Zimbabwe are expressing concern that the country may
fall short of its goal of providing life-saving antiretroviral drug therapy
to an additional 100,000 people this year, following recent comments by the
minister of health.

The government has set a target of providing 160,000 people with ARV drug
therapy by the end of 2007 compared with around 50,000 people currently. It
has been estimated that a half million Zimbabweans or more need such

Activists expressed discouragement at remarks attributed to Health Minister
David Parirenyatwa to the effect that the country faced difficult challenges
to increasing ARV access because of the high cost of the drugs, among other

Activists said a failure to expand ARV therapy programs could discourage
people from seeking voluntary testing and counseling if their treatment
options are limited.

Health Ministry Specialist Physician Tapiwanashe Gwakura said the government
is equally concerned about the drug shortages, but that its efforts to
expand treatment programs have been frustrated by a lack of funding for

For perspective on the challenges facing the government and those battling
HIV/AIDS, reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
interviewed activists Tapiwanashe Kujinga, chairman of Zimbabwe Activists on
HIV and AIDS, and Chitiga Mbanje, training coordinator for The Center, a
Harare AIDS care facility.

Mbanje said the situation now facing HIV-positive Zimbabweans is tragic.

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Mugabe Won't Let Go Easily

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Events over the last two weeks have added to the pressures facing the
Zimbabwean leader, but the opposition will need to keep up the momentum
since the president is likely to cling to power as long as he can.

By Norman Chitapi in Harare (AR No. 105, 26-Mar-07)

With Zimbabwe strangely calm after the horrific events of the past two
weeks, some frustrated onlookers believe the opposition has once again
failed to seize the moment.

The assault on Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and about 50 others while they were held in police cells after being
arrested on March 11 sparked international condemnation and galvanised
public opinion against President Robert Mugabe.

But the opposition has yet to find a way of keeping up the pressure on the
beleaguered government to open up the democratic space and kick-start the
process of writing a new constitution - a key demand they believe must be
met if the country is to move towards democracy.

Zimbabwe is likely to hold a presidential election next year, and Mugabe
will probably stand again, putting paid to any hopes that a new constitution
will be written and an internationally supervised poll held.

"I think the MDC and other forces fighting Mugabe are of the mistaken
opinion that he will succumb to international pressure and change his ways,"
said one analyst, who did not want to be named.

The analyst said people underestimate the concerns that drive the Zimbabwean
leader. Besides fearing prosecution after he retires, Mugabe is even more
worried about fading into ignominy without leaving a legacy.

"He would not be able to live with the shame, so he wants to be the last man
standing," said the analyst.

Even within the ranks of the ruling ZANU-PF, there are growing signs of
dissent at a leader who refuses to go.

"Mugabe is an evil man," said a senior ZANU-PF official, who opposes Mugabe's
failed bid to extend his term to 2010 or to stand in next year's
presidential election.

"He is aware his time is up, but he won't let go. He is evil, a coward and
doesn't trust anybody to protect him from prosecution and public humiliation
once he leaves power."

The party official said Mugabe had made up his mind to die in office rather
than face possible prosecution for crimes against humanity.

A political lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe said the reason Mugabe
was venting so much anger on opposition leaders was that senior members of
his own party had rejected his proposal to stay in power until 2010 - two
years after his term should expire.

"After crushing the opposition, he wants to see who will openly challenge
him in his own party," the lecturer said.

Another analyst said the violence perpetrated by police was alienating
Mugabe from the people he wants to vote for him.

"He is a desperate man.. He has no friends at home and abroad and therefore
wants to die behind the huge walls of State House."

To show that he still means business, Mugabe this week awarded hefty pension
increases to the veterans of the 1970s war of liberation. He sees the
veterans as trusted allies and uses them whenever his rule is under threat.

He has also increased remuneration for the Youth Brigade, commonly referred
to as the Green Bombers. Members of these two groups now earn more than any
civil servant.

But questions are now being asked about how much faith Mugabe has in the
loyalty of his security forces, with news that 3 000 Angolan police officers
are set to arrive in Zimbabwe next month, on what is being described as a
"training" mission.

Assuming the opposition can recapture and build on the momentum of the past
two weeks, analysts interviewed by IWPR predicted that Mugabe would not
survive a mounting resistance movement - especially if the spirit of
rebellion infects the security forces on whom he relies to crush his

Critics have spared no epithet to condemn the brutal beating of opposition
supporters and leaders as they tried to gather for a prayer meeting in the
poor township of Highfield, some 15 kilometres west of the capital Harare on
March 11.

The authorities said the meeting defied a three-month ban on political
meetings, but this order is itself a breach of Section 27 of the Public
Order and Security Act, which states that political gatherings can be
prohibited "for a period not exceeding one month".

The prayer meeting was organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition
of groups opposed to Mugabe's rules and ranging from student movements to
political parties and trade unions.

Some observers believe the scale of the crackdown, which saw Tsvangirai and
scores of other activists arrested and beaten, as well as the fatal shooting
of activist Gift Tandare, is evidence of Mugabe's desperation to cling onto
power and his deep-rooted fear of broad-based popular revolt.

Mugabe was unmoved by the international opprobrium, and told his western
critics "to go hang" for condemning the police brutality. State-sponsored
violence continued with the severe beating MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa at
Harare airport on March 17 as he was trying to board a plane to attend a
meeting in Brussels.

Mugabe also threatened to expel European Union and American diplomats,
accusing them of interfering in Zimbabwe's internal affairs in order to
"effect regime change through the agency of the MDC".

He charged the West with siding with the opposition parties, which he has in
the past accused of being mere fronts for Britain and the United States. The
detainees were accused - in what has become the customary terminology - of
provoking the police and trying to make the country ungovernable.

Few Zimbabweans now swallow the official line that the police are just
trying to protect lives and property. Reports from Highfield and Mbare
indicate that following the crackdown on protestors, police went on the
rampage, beating up civilians and breaking doors in search of MDC "thugs".
Police have reportedly spread their intimidation tactics into rural areas -
the traditional stronghold of the ruling ZANU-PF - to crush MDC support
there too.

The government has not even made a pretence of investigating the cause of
Tandare's death, or the beatings of opposition members in police custody.

While the international criticism has been strongly-worded, the reaction
closer to home - in the Southern African Development Community and the
African Union has been typically muted. the African Union's chairman,
President John Kufuor of Ghana, described events in Zimbabwe as
"embarrassing", while South Africa's foreign ministry said it would not
deviate from its policy of "quiet diplomacy", adding that what it called
"rooftop diplomacy" only played into the hands of populist demagogues.

However, in a departure from the generally low-keyed response from the
region, Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa said "quiet diplomacy" had failed
to solve the economic and political crisis facing Zimbabwe.

During a visit to Namibia last week, Mwanawasa likened Zimbabwe to the
"sinking Titanic" whose passengers were "jumping off in a bid to save their

Former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, also responded with
strong words, saying Africa should hang its head in shame at what one of its
own, Mugabe, was doing to his people.

One of the analysts interviewed by IWPR said South African president Thabo
Mbeki is facing a dilemma - he does not want to antagonise Mugabe, but he
does not want to preempt a possible leadership change.

Norman Chitapi is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe

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One day Zimbabwe will be free ... my thrilling ride on fury express

The Times
March 27, 2007

Ann Treneman: Parliamentary Sketch
There is no doubt that Ian McCartney, the tiny but tempestuous Foreign
Office Minister, is incandescent about what is happening in Zimbabwe. In the
Commons yesterday, he was bubbling with fury. It was a ferocious attack and
if words alone could change the world, then these would end the misery of
Mugabe now.

Mr McCartney, as a Minister, is a welcome surprise. Finally, someone speaks
from the Labour front bench who really does seem to care about human rights.
"I offer my solidarity, on behalf of this House, to all Zimbabweans," he
cried. "Mugabe's men might break the bones of the democracy campaigners but
they cannot break the quiet dignity of these extraordinary human beings. One
day Zimbabwe will return to democracy. Zimbabwe will be free!"

It was stirring stuff but I am only able to give that quote because Mr
McCartney provided us with the text of his speech. Without it, I was in
trouble. It is no coincidence that Mr McCartney is friends with John
Prescott. I have got used to Mr McCartney's thick Glaswegian accent and
usually I can just surf along with it. But yesterday, as he delivered one
horrible fact after another (average life expectancy for a Zimbabwean woman
is 34), his delivery just got faster and faster. The words streamed into one
another until "multilateral" sounded like "motoroda". By the end, words all
joined together, making supercalifragilistic look succinct. I felt as if I
was on a runaway train, clinging to the sides for dear life.

It was an outpouring of frustration and it was easy to see why. Mr McCartney
announced no new sanctions, though he did say he was considering extending
the travel ban to regime members' children. Otherwise, his strategy is to
try to get South Africa and others to confront their monster neighbour.

There were few Labour MPs there to hear it, which was surprising, but then
these are strange times for the party of supposed renewal. The Tories were
present in considerable numbers. As Mr McCartney sat down, one Tory shouted:
"So what are you going to do about it?"

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader who served with the British Army
in Zimbabwe, was clearly unhappy. "I think we have dragged our heels on this
unnecessarily over the years," he said. He added that Britain should tell
South Africa and other neighbours that the time had come to put real
pressure on Zimbabwe. "If they don't, then maybe we should look again at
some of those aid programmes that are going in their direction."

Mr McCartney took him on. "Can I say I disagree entirely with his last
remark. We are not going to take action against the ordinary citizens of any
country in Africa simply to get at Mugabe's regime. That's playing entirely
into his hands!"

The final confirmation of our inability to do anything came in a short
question from the Tory, James Duddridge. "Can you confirm whether or not
Robert Mugabe's daughter, Bona Mugabe, is currently studying at the London
School of Economics and, if so, who's paying?" Mr McCartney could, indeed,
confirm that she was but he doesn't know who's paying. I think we know,

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