PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is drafting his feared war veterans into a specially
created army reserve as he steps up a clampdown on the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
Former fighters in Zimbabwe's guerrilla war of the 1970s will be given
military training and will be deployed for military duties, according to a
special government gazette printed in Harare yesterday.
The news comes amid heightened tensions in the country, where the savage
beating of Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, and a number of his
colleagues sparked revenge attacks on the security forces.
Mr Mugabe knows he can count on the loyalty of his war veterans. He used
them to spearhead the violent invasions of hundreds of white-owned farms in
War veterans were also used to beat and intimidate rural voters ahead of
parliamentary elections in 2000 and presidential elections in 2002.
Giles Mutsekwa, the defence spokesman in the MDC, said he believed the war
veterans reserve was being set up because Mr Mugabe had "lost faith" in the
The Zimbabwe army has been hit by a wave of desertions in recent months.
They are reported to be mainly over low pay and poor conditions.
By Peta Thornycroft, Zimbabwe Correspondent
Last Updated: 3:25am BST 27/03/2007
The Zimbabwean opposition leader who was beaten up at the start of
President Robert Mugabe's new purge of political opponents called yesterday
for Britain to take action to help his country.
Morgan Tsvangirai urged the British Government to put pressure on Mr
Mugabe's regime by working closely with the international community. While
he insisted that he had no wish to see Britain taking unilateral action in
its former colony, he told BBC Radio 4's Today: "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. 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."
As pressure mounts on Mr Mugabe to step down, countries in the region
are trying to broker negotiations between the ruling Zanu-PF party and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
After its failure to oust Mr Mugabe after several years, the MCD split
into two factions, one of which is led by Mr Tsvangirai. But with the wave
of violence meted out to opposition supporters, the two factions have drawn
closer together as they tackle the deepening political crisis.
The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, hosted talks in Pretoria at
the weekend between his senior officials and representatives of both
factions of the MCD.
Well-placed sources in Pretoria said that Mr Mbeki was again trying to
establish formal negotiations between Mr Mugabe and the opposition to agree
on a "road map" that would secure Zimbabwe's peaceful future. The last
negotiations, nearly four years ago, lasted two sessions before they were
derailed by Mr Mugabe.
Mr Tsvangirai said yesterday: "The road map is the only viable route
to the resolution of the crisis. I foresee a situation in which those who
are looking towards the future within Zanu-PF see a future without Mugabe so
it converges with our opinion that Mugabe has become the stumbling block."
On Friday the central committee of Mr Mugabe's squabbling Zanu-PF
party is due to hold a meeting at which a debate is anticipated over whether
Mr Mugabe should stand for re-election in 11 months for another term in
Mr Mugabe maintains that MDC youth activists have assaulted police and
civilians. He told hundreds of supporters at his party headquarters.
"Tsvangirai, you want to rule this country on behalf of [Tony] Blair, As
long as I am alive that will never happen."
South Africa, which has refused to condemn Mr Mugabe since the
political and economic crisis began seven years ago, has now warned that
Zimbabwe faces economic "meltdown".
By Howard Lesser
27 March 2007
Zimbabwe's opposition factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
have agreed to field a single candidate to challenge incumbent Robert Mugabe
for the country's presidency. An apparent deal, brokered by the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign, the adjunct coalition of an interdenominational,
non-indigeonous Christian alliance, has won assurances from factions led by
MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai and dissenting wing activist Arthur Mutambara
to back Tsvangirai, the 2002 presidential challenger, in a rematch against
the 83-year-old Mugabe.
History Professor Ken Mufuka of South Carolina's Lander University says that
the deal and the country's withering economy will make it harder for ruling
party ZANU-PF strongholds to maintain their traditional base of support.
"The ZANU will lose support, even in the rural areas, because of the
inflation," he says.
Professor Mufuka says that faction divisions are still significant, but that
uniting around one MDC candidate could make a difference in key traditional
"It will help. The countryside is small, peasant farmers, and the whole
argument of the liberation struggle was that after the struggle, they would
be given more land, which had been set aside for whites. And that is a
trump card which Mugabe has used to keep his hold on the rural areas. Now,
the inflation will affect the rural areas, too. They say well over about 30
percent of the children are not going to schools in the rural areas because
they cannot afford fees," he noted.
Despite the liabilities, the Zimbawe-born Mufuka thinks President Mugabe
still has a lot of resources left to unleash.
"He can prevent the MDC from campaigning in rural areas because the police
have been politicized, and therefore, MDC candidates can be prevented from
traveling to the countryside. And the members of MDC have been subjected to
violence. Two were killed last week, and 50 were beaten up. And that
scares the rural people," he cautions.
Professor Mufuka notes that Zimbabwe's ruling party may also gain an upper
hand at today's scheduled memorial service for opposition activist Gift
Tandare, who was gunned down on March 10 during a street protest that was
quashed by Harare police.
"The ZANU party has played it cleverly," Mufuka observes. "They allowed the
MDC - one faction - to attend the meeting. They disallowed another faction
to attend the meeting. So the problem is now that if one wing of the MDC
goes to the funeral, the other is prohibited by law. So ZANU is still
playing one wing against another."
Last Updated: 2:27am BST 27/03/2007
If strength of feeling could destroy Robert Mugabe, he would long
since have joined other despots in whatever grim lodgings are reserved for
them in the next world.
There was no shortage of emotion in the statement on Zimbabwe
yesterday by Ian McCartney, a junior Foreign Office minister. The emotion
was often all that could be detected, for Mr McCartney spoke loudly and
quickly in a Glaswegian accent which many found impenetrable.
How we kicked ourselves for failing to polish our Glaswegian and
instead studying Blairspeak, as the language of liberal imperialism is now
But when we obtained a copy of Mr McCartney's statement, we found he
was talking Blairspeak after all. Just as Mr Blair uses the battle for
democracy to justify everything he has done, or tried to do, in Iraq, so Mr
McCartney insists there is going to be a democratic future for Zimbabwe:
"One day Zimbabwe will return to democracy."
In a heartfelt passage at the end of his speech, however, he admitted
the path to democracy has not proved as easy as he and others hoped: "My
generation was the first to be born not as children of the Empire but as
children of the Commonwealth. As time went by we celebrated as Rhodesia
became Zimbabwe and the fighters came out of the bush to create a new
democratic future for their people.
"That is why it is so hard for me personally to watch what is
happening in Zimbabwe today - because uniquely the people who we once
cheered as liberators are now the oppressors."
Gibbon thought Christianity played a part in the decline and fall of
the Roman Empire. We trust that in 1500 years' time, some great historian
will not develop the theory that an excess of democratic idealism undermined
But Mr McCartney wisely avoided such philosophical speculations and
focused on ways to re-establish democracy in Zimbabwe. These include urging
the South Africans to do something about Mugabe and refusing to invite the
ghastly man to summit meetings in Europe.
James Duddridge (C, Rochford and Southend East) asked whether Mugabe's
daughter is studying at the London School of Economics. We could not follow
Mr McCartney's reply, but it occurs to us that if only Mugabe would accept a
professorship there, he could run a valuable course in how to ruin a
Daniel Kawczynski (C, Shrewsbury) asked when the British Government is
going to take away Mugabe's honorary knighthood.
Mr McCartney replied that this is "a third-order issue", and we agree
that it is less important than the issue raised by Keith Vaz (Lab, Leicester
East) and David Howarth (Lib Dem, Cambridge), who wanted to know why the
Home Office is still trying to send some Zimbabweans home, where they expect
to be killed.
Andrew Robathan (C, Blaby) accused Mr McCartney of giving "one of the
most empty statements I have heard".
But Mr McCartney retorted in fluent Blairspeak: "Supporting all those
working for democratic change is not empty rhetoric."
So the fight for democracy continues, though it was noticeable that
very few Labour MPs had turned up to hear Mr McCartney talk about it.
Perhaps they are too busy wondering whether there is a future for democracy
inside the Labour party.
Tuesday March 27, 2007
We heard another statement on the crisis in Zimbabwe yesterday. It turns out
that ministers are very, very concerned. But there is nothing they can do
about it. This point was made at considerable length by Ian McCartney, a
Scot who sits for an English seat but who has an accent so thick you could
pour flaming whisky on it and serve it up for Burns Night.
He was standing in for his boss, the foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett. It
is absolutely no reflection on Mr McCartney, a junior minister, and in no
way designed to make light of the horrors afflicting the people of Zimbabwe,
to say that the combination of his powerful brogue, his rage against Mr
Mugabe (or "Mugga-bee" as he called him) and the speed with which he
downloaded his statement, making a buzzing noise like the sound when your
old-fashioned computer "dials up" the internet, that half of what he said
was entirely unintelligible.
Here are some of my notes: "a whirly catchment"; "on the chaffont march";
"ah-gemma-hezz"; and "arby tress".
We had "shayin the gravvy bi-atting"; "men chur of sabit"; "saka" (this
probably meant South Africa), "anso bah"; "sum soy" and "kwi pro is nashur."
Now and again it was possible to translate a phrase as it whizzed by.
"Veezer bah lust" seemed to mean "visa banned list". "Vunnle chih" was
probably vulnerable children, and "footha muzzers" may be further measures.
But I have been unable, even using the most sophisticated technology, to
match "hue car beefing" up with anything.
I sit near the Hansard reporters, and it was moving to see their bafflement
as they whispered to each other, and -nervously adjusted their earpieces.
Mind you, they are hardened professionals, and there is no way that the
people who train by transcribing John Prescott are going to give up when
they face a mere junior minister. (It also helped that we were later
provided with a script of what Mr McCartney was trying to say, translated
back into the original English.)
I worked out that he was at one point responding to Mr Mugabe's claim that
everything wrong in his country - the 3,000% inflation, the beatings, the
collapse of agriculture, the mass starvation - is the fault of the British.
This is the kind of demented nonsense spouted by tyrants in a vain attempt
to convince their victims, and even to answer it gives it a measure of
dignity it does not deserve.
But, as one Tory MP bellowed at the top of his voice, "what are you going to
do about it?" The answer to that seems to be:
1. Wait for Mugabe to be overthrown.
2. Send money.
Mr McCartney pointed out that the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (and I
am not even going to try to transcribe how he pronounced that name) had said
that if the British government acted alone, "it could be misconstrued as a
colonial resuscitation of the same situation".
For that reason, Mr McCartney said, "while expressing our outrage .... we do
not do or say anything which will hand a propaganda tool to Robert Mugabe."
Though it is possible that some people there might face a temporary colonial
resuscitation quite equably if it meant they got food.
By Peter Clottey
27 March 2007
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has told supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF
party to get ready for elections next year. President Mugabe and the
ZANU-PF leadership had previously suggested delaying the 2008 presidential
elections to coincide with the 2010 parliamentary elections. This would have
extended Mugabe's presidential term for two unchallenged years. But the main
opposition party is calling on Zimbabweans to work together towards a future
without Mugabe, whom the party describes as a stumbling block to democracy.
General Secretary Tendai Biti of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) told the Voice of America via telephone that the MDC is not
going to be part of an election that would be rigged.
"Our position is very clear. First, we are concerned that an 83-year-old
tyrant who has brought down this country into ten years of negative growth
rate. would still want to stand. But we have made it very clear that we are
not prepared to participate in an election that is a sham, participate in
elections with the results predetermined," he said.
Biti said the MDC wants free and fair elections in 2008.
"We want elections in 2008, but only under a different constitution and only
under an overhauled form of the current and even an equal electoral delivery
system, which in fact doesn't deliver, but aborts," Biti pointed out.
He said the MDC has disrupted plans by the ruling party to extend President
Mugabe's rule for two unchallenged years.
"It's a victory that we have forced him (President Mugabe) to shift from
2010 to 2008. But he is now playing his last card, and the card that he is
playing is the fact that the electoral regime is absolutely chaotic. Most
importantly, we have got laws such as the Public Order Security Act, the
Access to Information Act, which rivals apartheid laws and ensures that
there are no independent television stations or newspapers," he said.
Biti reiterated what he called intimidation tactics employed by the ruling
party against the MDC.
"You can have access to the public in terms of public meetings, public
protests and so forth. He can burn us to death, but we will not participate
in that election and at the same time, the economic crisis will not go away.
So there are two things that are not going to burn to death, and that is the
opposition and its resurgent mood, and the economy, plus an international
community that is no longer fooled by any Pan African rhetoric," he said.
Biti claims the MDC wants a constitution that respects the rights of
"We know what we want in this constitution. We want a strong bill of
rights. We want independent pillars that overlooks like the anti-corruption
commission and human rights commission. We want an executive that is
accountable and with limited terms of office, so the content of the
constitution is very simple. And we have been writing this constitution over
and over again," Biti said.
He notes that Zimbabweans essentially want what he describes as a legitimate
"Its not about money or time. It's about legitimacy. You can't have, 20
years after independence, a constitution that has been written in some hotel
in Manchester, or in London, which has been bastardized by 17 years of
horrible, diabolic amendments -- all in the creation of a de-facto one party
state," Biti said.
27 March 2007
NAIROBI - Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) would
hold an extraordinary session in Tanzania this week, Tanzania's foreign
ministry said yesterday, amid the mounting political and economic crisis in
A Tanzanian foreign ministry official would not be drawn on the agenda for
the meeting tomorrow and on Thursday.
"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," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous, by telephone
from Dar es Salaam.
Tanzania said the extraordinary summit was expected to be attended by 14
heads of state, including those from SA, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Tensions are high in Zimbabwe over skyrocketing inflation, shortages of fuel
and food, and surging unemployment, which critics blame on President Robert
Mugabe in turn blames western states 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. Reuters
Sydney Morning Herald
March 27, 2007 - 4:14PM
Australia will move to set up an aid fund to help ordinary Zimbabweans cope
with the increasingly treacherous regime of President Robert Mugabe.
The international community is growing increasingly concerned about where Mr
Mugabe is leading his troubled nation.
He is presiding over increasing political and economic turmoil in the
African nation, including state-sanctioned violence against opposition
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told parliament the government was
horrified by what was happening in the once relatively prosperous nation.
He said the economies of most African nations were growing around five per
cent while Zimbabwe was going backwards.
Under the Mugabe regime more than three million Zimbabweans were going
hungry and have to be fed by the World Food Program while seven years ago
the country was in a position to export food.
"Zimbabwe has the highest number of HIV AIDS victims without access to
treatment anywhere in the world," Mr Downer said.
"We feel as a government very strongly about this and feel we have to do
everything we reasonably can to help the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.
"In the last year we've increased our aid budget by 33 per cent."
Mr Downer stressed that its aid money was quarantined from interference by
the Mugabe regime.
He flagged additional financial assistance to help ordinary people and non
government organisations cope with the challenges presented by the Mugabe
"We are determined to help non government organisations and to help civil
society meet the challenge of the Mugabe government," Mr Downer said.
"We are moving now in the next financial year to establish an Australian
fund for Zimbabwe. We will be supporting non government organisations which
protect ordinary Zimbabweans.
"We will be looking for ways of broadening our humanitarian assistance and
we will provide fellowships for civil society organisations.
"No amount of thuggery or brutality by President Mugabe will cover up the
truth of his failure, nor will it deter the Australian government from
trying to help the ordinary people of Zimbabwe."
The government is warning Australians to be cautious about travelling to
Zimbabwe amid fears of growing civil unrest.
Sunday Times, SA
27 March 2007
By Donwald Pressly
Question time with South African President Thabo Mbeki, which was to have
taken place on Thursday in the National Assembly, has been postponed.
In a statement released by presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga, the
presidency said that owing to the Southern African Development Community
extraordinary summit which will take place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on
Wednesday and Thursday, Mbeki will answer questions in the Assembly "at a
later date to be agreed upon with the Speaker of the National Assembly".
Question time with the president will now have to take place after the
month-long April break for Members of Parliament.
Mbeki was to have been asked by a ruling African National Congress (ANC)
MP - according to a parliamentary question paper - about recent protests
regarding service delivery and what government would do in future to ensure
that organs of state were more effective in responding to the needs of poor
Official opposition Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon was to have asked
him whether the government had taken any action in the past six months to
resolve the growing crisis in Zimbabwe. He also was to have been asked
whether he had done anything to facilitate negotiations between the ruling
Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe.
He would also have been asked by an African National Congress MP what role
South Africa was playing in the context of multi-lateral institutions such
as the United Nations and the African Union "to facilitate the attainment of
peace and stability in the Darfur region of Sudan".
Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille was to have asked him about
progress that had been made on the formulation of policy measures "that will
regulate the funding of political parties".
An ANC MP would have asked him about how his government was tackling the
challenge of climate change while another ANC MP would have asked him what
measures were being taken by his government to create an inclusive
information society that contributed to building a better life for all.
March 27, 2007, 07:45
The US Congress has appealed to leaders in the SADC region to apply
appropriate pressure on the government of Zimbabwe to resolve the economic
and political crisis in that country.
The US Senate met last night and passed a resolution, the day before SADC
members are due to meet in Tanzania for a two-day conference on the
situation in Zimbabwe.
Senators also called upon all responsible governments, civic organisations,
religious leaders and international bodies to condemn what they say is human
rights violations in Zimbabwe.
The resolution says the Congress hold those individual police, security
force members and militia involved in abuse and torture responsible for the
acts that they have committed.
FROM THE ZIMBABWE VIGIL
Zimbabweans in the UK have decided enough is enough. Many protests and
events are planned, as follows:
Wednesday, 28th March, 11 am - join MDC-UK at the Zimbabwe Embassy, London.
There are plans to toyi-toyi to the House of Commons via the South African
High Commission. For more information, contact: Jaison Matewu, 07816 619
Thursday, 29th March, 2 pm - join Free-Zim Youth to lobby the Angolan
government following reports that it is to send para-military police to beef
up Mugabe's security forces (meet Baker Street tube station). For more info
contact:Alois Mbawara 07960333568, Wellington Chibanguza 07706868955,
Bridgette Maphosa 07784111755
Saturday, 31st March, 2 - 6 pm - Special Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy,
London, in solidarity with victims of political violence in Zimbabwe. We are
going to pull out all stops at the Vigil in support of the brave activists
at home facing such appalling dangers. We know from phone contacts as well
as news reports that many people are being sought out from their homes and
beaten up for their political beliefs. This is what we hope to bring out
more clearly to the British public - the deliberate attempt to crush any
Saturday, 31st March - 11 am - 3 pm. The Bristol Vigil meets under the
covered way, just near the Watershed, Canon's Road, Harbourside
Tuesday, 3rd April, 7.30 pm - Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London W2
1QJ - Zimbabwe in Meltdown - to be discussed by a panel consisting of Lord
Triesman, Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Wilf
Mbanga, Founder, Publisher and Editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper, Gugu
Moyo, Zimbabwean lawyer of the International Bar Association and Bill Saidi,
Deputy Editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe - via phone link. Tickets £7
available online at www.frontlineclub.com.
Wednesday, 4th April, 12 - 2 pm - join ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa,
the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement) and the Trades Union Congress
for a demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in solidarity with the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions who have called a general strike for 3rd
and 4th April. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend or just turn
up. Check: www.actsa.org for information about how else you can be active
on behalf of Zimbabwe.
Saturday, 18th April, 2 - 5 pm - the second Belfast Vigil (to mark
Zimbabwean Independence Day). Venue to be advised.
Help promote the Zimbabwean Newspaper
The Zimbabwean Newspaper is not getting to the Zimbabweans in the UK
diaspora. The publishers report "We managed to truck 30 000 copies into
Zimbabwe this week - they were sold out in 45 minutes!! It took 30 hours to
get them there from Joburg including a night at the border. People just
desperate - and here our distributors are chucking away thousands unsold
every week". The more copies that can be sold here, the more copies can be
trucked into Zimbabwe to people starved of information.
The newspaper has become such a valuable resource and it's probable that
lots of people would like to receive it but don't know where to get it. How
can you help?
If there is a large concentration of Zimbabweans in your area, ask you local
newsagents to stock it and tell everyone you know where they can buy it.
Ask your local library to subscribe to it.
if you belong to a Zimbabwean community group or poltical branch, find out
how many members would like a weekly copy and take out a subscription for
the number of copies you need and sell them on.
For further information, contact the Zimbabwean (www.thezimbabwean.co.uk, P
O Box 248, Hythe, SO45 4WX, Tel/fax +44 (0)2380 845271). You can subscribe
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
I laughed when I read some of the few laughable storylines to do the rounds
in the past few days because humorous stories are far and between in these
dark days of gloom and doom. One of the lines was screaming that there was
selective treatment of the MDC leaders when they were unlawfully detained
and beaten at the hands of the police. Singled out was one Arthur Mutambara.
I am sure Mutambara might have heard such laughable claims but the man is
too pre-occupied with the national call to analyse for himself. I would
choose to call such claims a bout of selective memory.
This Mutambara was the man who not so long ago was referred to by Nelson
Chamisa as part of the problem to the Zimbabwean situation, when all level
headed people would arguably have chosen to see Mutambara as a real valuable
addition to the struggle against tyranny. What happened to everyone
including the repeated assaults on Chamisa was extremely unacceptable and I
think anyone who would be privileged enough to personally bump into the
Honourable MP for Kuwadzana and ask him who is the problem in Zimbabwe
Mugabe or Mutambara, he would surely have a much more predictable answer.
One thing about taking the leadership route is that it is one that comes
with an enormous requirement for people to be both measured and responsible
in what they say especially to their supposed compatriots. We are all seeing
how dangerous irresponsible politicians can be as demonstrated by the
madness that is being orchestrated by ZANU PF. There is also great need for
tolerance for each other rather than the dismissive approach that tends to
I have my own personal reasons to respect Arthur Mutambara just as I have
more or less similar reasons to have low regard of any people of low esteem.
Also, I would never go to anyone to say please like or respect Mutambara
because that is personal preserve. However, I would duly exercise my
democratic and individual right to prefer a leader on the basis of their
application to leadership and the context in which they take to the national
call. Mutambara is one person whose choosing of the national take comes with
a considerable degree of personal sacrifice and abandonment as well as a
show of selflessness.
He is a person who came into active from a privileged personal position into
the sacrificial restrictions and tribulations associated with national
politics. Mutambara is not a typical case of some rugs-to-riches politicians
who would seek to make an aim at national politics without anything to write
home about themselves only to improve their own personal circumstances. This
is why such people would vehemently resist any attempts to liberalise the
field of national politics, rather clinging possessively onto the process
like a tick that sucks into the under body of a cow.
Since Mutambara came on the political scene, he has been very gracious and
has extended his olive branch on numerous occasions only to see it wilt on
the stoop of the so-called trouble-shooters of the revolution. The man has
made a number of vital strides towards re-unification of the MDC party that
we have not seen any of that none of his detractors have matched. Firstly,
Mutambara made his rallying call on his maiden congress in Bulawayo at which
he hinted that he was even prepared to fore-go the outcome of that very
congress should a unified one be convened. The same messengers of doom
dismissed him very contemptuously then. If any Mutambara's overtures for the
pluralistic approached were to be equated in any measure, there would be
great progress towards MDC achieving some its goals.
In January this year Mutamabara issued his very ambitious 2007 Agenda the
thrust of which was re-unification and I quote from that statement "All
political leaders must put national interest before self interest. The two
MDC formations have neither monopoly of political wisdom, nor the immutable
right to represent the people of Zimbabwe. In 2007 they must quickly resolve
and achieve a framework of effective cooperation. If they do not accomplish
this as a matter of urgency, the people of Zimbabwe must reject them
completely and develop other alternatives. In 2007, it is shape up or ship
out." Arthur G.O.Mutambara. 5 January 2007
Again Mutambara was dismissed with the same contempt and disdain with no
bettered propositions from the experts. Soon after the unwarranted arrests
Mutambara declared at a press conference that he would not seek to contest
Morgan Tsvangirai in any elections and that neither should Tsvangirai
contest him but he did not stop there. The latest is even the clearest
signal yet from Mutambara that he is focused on unity of the MDC, and this
was rejecting the so-called police licence to hold a rally in Chitungwiza.
The action was communicated through a very stern statement from Priscilla
Misihairambwi-Mushonga part of which read "Let it be clear to Mugabe today
that no genuine democratic force will pander to the illusionary whims of
ZANU-PF and agree to crumbs of justice unwillingly dropped from his ivory
This time there may be need for some time to recuperate but surely sooner
rather than later, the desperate people of Zimbabwe would be looking to real
measures and moves towards unity of the MDC. Not any speculative or
dismissive statements, but real bold reciprocation punctuated with
conclusive time sensitive active. Mutambara has put the ball squarely into
the court of his supposed superiors.
Silence Chihuri writes from Scotland. Contact him on
Submitted by Tarique on Tue, 2007-03-27 03:04.
Livingstone, Zambia, March 27(NNN-ZANIS) Visiting Danish Minister for
Development Co-operation Ulla Toernaes has called on African leaders to
speak out and condemn attacks on opposition leaders in Zimbabwe.
Toernaes, who described her meeting here with Zimbabwean civil society
groups as fruitful, told ZANIS that African leaders were not helping what
she called deteriorating political conditions in
Zimbabwe by choosing to remain mute.
She said Zimbabwe's political instability had led to the closure of the
Danish Embassy in Zimbabwe in 2002.
However, Toernaes said her government is working closely with
non-governmental organizations I(NGOs) in Zimbabwe in the provision of
"The Danish government is not in favour of Mugabe's government and its
attacks on opposition leaders but it will continue speaking out, supporting
the people, and putting pressure on African leaders to help liberate
Zimbabweans from Mugabe's dictatorial rule," she said.
On the closed door meeting with Zimbabwe's civil society groups, Toernaes
said she decided to meet the groups from Zimbabwe to discuss the present and
future political situation of Zimbabwe.
She had visited Livingstone to acquaint herself with various Denmark-funded
development projects in this town near the Victoria Falls.
This Day, Nigeria
Quiet diplomacy has failed to help solve the political chaos and economic
meltdown in Zim-babwe." That comment, made last week by Zambian President,
Levy Mwanawasa, sums up the deteriorating quagmire in the southern African
country. Unless more concerted steps are taken to reverse it, Zimbabwe could
descend into prolonged anarchy.
At the heart of this crisis is the unwillingness of the nation's President,
Robert Mugabe, to relinquish power in the face of a worsening economy and
his intolerance of the opposition. Having ruled his country since 1980 when
it got its independence, the former revolutionary has continued to do so in
an increasingly despotic manner. A couple of years ago when he took on the
influential and rich white farmers in Zimbabwe and challenged their right to
amass land at the expense of their black counterparts, the West, in
particular, rose up against him. But he received succour from many quarters,
both within and abroad, which saw his move as a just crusade against
However, subsequent adverse political and economic policies and Mugabe's
obstinacy culminated in the squandering of that goodwill. Yet, there is
hardly anything to show today that Mugabe cares about his image and his
country's pitiable fortunes. The latest proof of this insensitivity is the
brutal treatment meted out to Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and 50 other
protesters the other day. He was on his way to a prayer rally when he was
arrested with the others. Two days later, he limped into a court with a deep
head wound and a swollen face - to the consternation of his compatriots and
the rest of the world.
Tsvangirai's ordeal in the hands of the state is, indeed, symbolic of the
despicable life in Zimbabawe. Its economy which has shrunk by half since
1999 is in rapid decline. Inflation, now close to 2,000 per cent and rising,
is easily the highest in the world. Unemployment stands at 80 per cent. Once
a regional bread-basket, Zimbabwe is at present a basket case. This irony
manifests most viciously in its inability to feed majority of its 13 million
What hope is there for Zimbabwe to halt this run of degeneration? The plan
of the 83 years old president to run for yet another eight-year mandate in
next year's presidential election could actually intensify the frustration
and confusion that have become hallmarks of the country's politics. But this
is no time to throw up hands in helplessness. Already, there are signs to
believe that even non-violent change is still possible. Last year, the
annual Congress of his own party, ZANU-PF, rejected Mugabe's proposal to
elongate his tenure till 2010. Such disapproval was unthinkable some years
back. It indicates that even if MDC fails to muster enough momentum to win
the polls, a ZANU-PF faction can wrest power from the seemingly
The president should, therefore, desist from treading a course that could
phenomenally destablise the country whose independence was a product of
popular struggle. He indeed played a significant role in that. He should not
now preside over Zimbabwe's total disintegration. The international
community, particularly African governments, should rise up like Mwanawasa
to condemn Mugabe's iron rule and immediately set in motion the process that
could end dictatorship in a country that was once beautiful and prosperous.
In this regard, its most powerful neighbour, South Africa, owes the present
and future generations of Zimbabweans the duty of putting pressure on Mugabe
to give their fatherland another opportunity for a new beginning.
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
HARARE - People who have been following the case where ZCTU members were
arrested, detained, beaten and tortured in September 2006 will be interested
to know that today we were in Court again. We all waited from 0830 until
1130, the reason being that the docket was nowhere to be found. Our lawyers
located it at the AG's office! Despite the fact that the State has had four
months in which to do the transcript for the Supreme Court, it still has not
been done. The Magistrate, clearly irritated by the Prosecutor requesting a
long remand, again, firmly declined. He said that the accuseds (all 30 of
us) were free to go and if the State wanted to persue the case, they could
do so by way of summons.
Now the violence -
1) JM of Kuwadzana (55 yrs) the father of 2 MDC activists was abducted from
his home on Friday 23rd March at 11pm - he was abducted because they
couldn't find his sons (note the pattern). 7 youths, armed with hand guns
entered his home by showing their ZRP (Police?) ID cards. They immediately
started to beat him all over his body, accusing him of hiding his sons.
They then drove him to Darwendale ZANU PF office in silver twin cab. When he
had been beaten they dumped him in the bush near the offices. He managed to
crawl to the local police station and then find his way back to Harare. It
appears that he sustained a fractured leg and arm.
2) Last night the home of a local Marondera MDC campaigner was raided by the
thug squad - as the person they were seeking was not at home, they abducted
his son and nephew. Word came this morning that the two young men were
found in the bush between Mahusekwa and Harare South Club having been
thoroughly beaten. A vehicle was sent to uplift the tortured men, but they
were so traumatised that they went and hid in the bush, obviously thinking
that the vehicle belonged to the CIO.
A pattern is emerging:
All MDC office bearers are being targetted for abduction and a thorough
beating and then being dumped in the bush far from their home. So far this
has been mainly in the high density suburbs of Harare, but is now moving out
into the district towns.
a.. Saviour Kasukawere (dep Minister for Youth and Gender (sic) ) has been
identified at at least two abductions.
b.. Kasukawere appears ( reliable information confirms this) to have a
gang of armed youth many of whom have been identified as employees of the
Harare City Council, discharged Police constables, CIO and Bus Rank
marshalls, who are on his pay roll. Identities of some of these hired thugs
are coming in via reliable sources.
c.. They are armed and know their targets, names, addresses and job
descriptions in the MDC.
d.. They have new expensive vehicles at their disposal.
e.. They are not concerned about hiding their identities - they are acting
with absolute impunity.
f.. They all have ID cards such as ZRP, CIO and various other key
On a positive note I have just heard James Duddrige a British MP talking on
his findings that one RGM's daughter is studying in the UK at a very
expensive institution!! Well that really is no surpise because double
standards prevail all over the place. I can remember discussing this very
issue a few years ago with an American official. I echoed the same
sentiments, then, as did Duddrige tonight. The response was, "why should
the children of despots suffer?". Yes good question and I posed this to a
wonderful black Zimbabwean Priest who then asked me a question. "And how
much have your children suffered and millions of other Zimbabwean children
at the hands of this regime?" I rest my case ! Send the ZPF children
home - why should they benefit from the looted proceeds of this rabid
March 27, 2007 Edition 1
South Africa is not in a position to do more in Zimbabwe than the so-called
The alternative would be a George Bush/Tony Blair-like approach to Iraq.
As South Africans, we can't afford to destabilise Southern Africa.
The Zimbabwe situation cannot be compared to the process in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
Under Joseph Kabila there was a balance of power that contributed towards a
national consensus. Zimbabwe is not in the midst of a civil war.
The split MDC is not about to launch guerrilla warfare.
In Zimbabwe, the ageing President Robert Mugabe is copying the antics of
Saddam Hussein, PW Botha, Augusto Pinochet and Charles Taylor.
Removing him from power will not guarantee justice and peace.
It was easy to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but what is happening in
South Africa's options are limited. Mugabe cannot be defended at the expense
of Zimbabweans. It was Mugabe in the first place who humiliated Joshua
Nkomo, who was a greater supporter of the African National Congress.
If there are people who deserve our gratitude for their support against
apartheid, it must be the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. They sheltered and
fed our heroic combatants.
Mugabe and his cronies should not be allowed to shop in South Africa while
their subjects queue for food.
Zimbabwe needs a credible leader who will reverse the consequences of
colonialism and imperialism. That person is not Mugabe.
He is a menace. Let him rest in peace.