International Herald Tribune
Reuters, The Associated PressPublished: March 28, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: The police stormed the offices of Zimbabwe's main
opposition party Wednesday and detained its leader hours before he planned
to talk to reporters about a wave of political violence that left him
briefly hospitalized this month.
The leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was taken along with other political
opponents of President Robert Mugabe in a bus to an undisclosed location by
officers who had sealed off approaches to his headquarters and fired tear
gas to drive away onlookers, the party and witnesses said.
A police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, said Wednesday evening that
Tsvangirai, who leads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, had
been released. He said that Tsvangirai had not been arrested, but that 10
other party officials were arrested on suspicion of being connected with a
spate of bombings.
The Movement for Democratic Change said Tsvangirai had been scheduled to
give a news conference on the government's escalating violence against its
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, an aide to Tsvangirai, said the police had searched
the offices of Harvest House, the opposition headquarters in central Harare,
after sealing off two nearby streets and firing tear gas.
Tsvangirai, before he was taken, said that he would boycott presidential
elections scheduled for next year unless the voting was carried out under a
new democratic constitution that ensured it was free and fair.
"We will never go into an election that is predetermined," Tsvangirai said
at the Tuesday memorial service for Gift Tandare, 31, who was fatally shot
by the police at a March 11 prayer service where Tsvangirai was arrested. He
said there was no going back on a mounting opposition campaign of protests
to demand reform and pressure Mugabe to step down.
Mukonoweshuro said that after the memorial service a party official was
abducted, stripped naked and dumped near a small town in northeastern
The official, Last Maengahama, was taken by unidentified assailants at a
restaurant near the church in northern Harare where the memorial was held.
"After the service he went to buy lunch and was abducted by six men in two
cars, one who was brandishing a pistol," Mukonoweshuro said.
Maengahama managed to borrow some clothes Wednesday and make his way into a
town where he phoned for help, Mukonoweshuro said, adding that the party was
investigating reports that three other officials were also abducted Tuesday
Tsvangirai, 54, was arrested along with about 50 other people on March 11
following a prayer meeting organized by opposition, church, student and
civic groups. Supporters said the police smashed his head against a wall
repeatedly. He suffered deep lacerations and swelling. He left the hospital
in a wheelchair March 16.
Before the police announced Tsvangirai's release, the European demanded that
the government respect human rights and its own laws in handling the
"The EU president holds the leadership of Zimbabwe responsible for the
bodily injury to Tsvangirai and calls for him to have immediate access to
legal and, if necessary, medical consultation," said Jens Ploetner, a
spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry. Germany currently holds the EU
Mugabe, 83, who has vowed to crush opposition to his rule, was to attend an
emergency meeting of Southern African leaders in Tanzania on Wednesday
focusing on the political turmoil in his country.
By Lance Guma
28 March 2007
The arbitrary abduction and beating of MDC leaders and activists continued
Wednesday with reports that state sponsored hit squads abducted MDC senior
official Ian Makoni and his wife Theresa at gun point from their home. The
MDC says the incident took place Tuesday evening and the members of
parliament for Budiriro and Glen View, Amos Chisvuure and Paul Madzore ran
away to escape the same raids.
Opposition shadow secretary for local government Last Maengahama, who was
abducted on Tuesday after the memorial service of slain activist Gift
Tandare, was found 250 kilometres outside Harare in Mutorashanga. He has
been admitted to the Avenues Clinic for what opposition officials described
as life threatening injuries. Narrating his ordeal to fellow colleagues
Maengahama said all he remembered was being shoved into a Mitsubishi truck,
being stripped naked and having his shirt and tie used to blindfold him. He
was beaten all over the body with an unidentified object.
Joshua Mukoyi from Kuwadzana who was abducted on Tuesday, beaten up and
dumped in Darwendale has allegedly been abducted again and his whereabouts
unknown. Mukoyi is 55 years old and father to two well-known MDC activists.
The Mutambara MDC has also issued a statement saying the provincial women's
assembly chairperson for Chitungwiza Mrs Mejury Zenda, an elderly and ailing
woman in her 60's, was arrested and detained on Tuesday. She is being held
at Harare Central police station and being denied any food. Her lawyers have
also been denied access to her. On Wednesday the lawyers tried again to get
access but were refused and threatened with arrest. No charges have been
made or any indication given as to why she was arrested.
The beatings of MDC officials have been described as savage and
indiscriminate. Pedzisai Ruhanya a programmes manager with the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition said Mugabe was clearly sanctioning the use of these
tactics. He noted how the perpetrators were known and yet no arrests where
being made. He says the government is creating mayhem in the country so as
to justify responding to it. Ruhanya says it is likely Mugabe wants to
impose a state of emergency and is trying to create the justification for
it. The MDC also released a statement saying the state sponsored bombing of
houses and police stations was meant to portray the regime as the victims of
an opposition inspired violent campaign.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Joe De Capua
28 March 2007
A South African analyst says he believes Zimbabwean police are the real
power behind Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe. Among those watching the
latest developments in Zimbabwe is Herman Hanekom, current affairs
specialist at the Africa Institute of South Africa.
From Cape Town, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De
Capua about Wednesday's government crackdown.
"I find it highly interesting especially in view of the light that Robert
Mugabe is now in Dar es Salaam for a SADC (Southern African Development
Community) meeting, which was called for by the Safety and Security
Committee to discuss Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To
me this is actually proof of a suspicion that I've had for a considerable
time that Zimbabwe is in fact governed by the Zimbabwean police on behalf of
Mugabe and that they enjoy his full protection for the inhuman actions that
they take against the population," he says.
Hanekom adds, "I personally believe that they fear if Mugabe goes, their
past sins will be exposed and they might appear in court." The analyst
describes the move as a "power play to stay there untouchable as long as
Hanekom does think Mr. Mugabe's days in power "are numbered." He says," With
the leaks coming from the ZANU-PF (ruling party) and the opposition to him
running again for president, extending his term, that have come to the fore,
I would say that if the Politburo meets they will be strong enough to boot
Mugabe out. But on the other hand, Mugabe will be strong enough to do a
constitutional coup d'etat with the police force behind him. I'm not quite
sure about the army, I have my doubts; but with the police behind him to
recounter (counter-attack) and do a presidential coup against the rebels."
March 28 2007 at 04:52PM
As opposition parties on Wednesday urged stronger action against
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's regime, government called, in no
uncertain terms, on Mugabe to create a climate conducive for political
dialogue in his country.
"The current Zimbabwean situation is a manifestation of the absence of
open political dialogue, which is regrettably sinking the country into a
deeper economic and political crisis from which only Zimbabweans can
extricate themselves," Deputy Foreign Minister Sue van der Merwe told MPs in
the National Assembly.
Speaking during a special debate on Zimbabwe, taking place on the same
day that agencies were reporting from Harare that opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai had been arrested for the second time this month, Van der Merwe
said the latest political developments there were a major cause for concern.
"The South African government wishes to express its concern,
disappointment, and disapproval of the measures undertaken by the security
forces in dealing with the political protests," she said.
"South Africa urges the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the rule
of law and human rights of Zimbabwean citizens are respected. The South
African government calls on the Zimbabwean government to create a climate
conducive for political dialogue."
Van der Merwe said in the run-up to next year's presidential election,
it was important that the main political protagonists agree on a framework
that would guarantee the credibility of these elections.
"It is important in view of the fact that the outcome of the last two
presidential elections was contested."
South Africa firmly believed that respect for the rule of law and
human rights and initiation of an enduring political process would pave the
way for the resolution of Zimbabwean problems, Van der Merwe said.
Harsh words for Mugabe came from veteran Inkatha Freedom Party MP
"Today we tell the tyrannical regime of Zimbabwe: time up! In God's
"Modern history already judges us harshly for allowing the kleptocracy
of Zimbabwe to terrorise and pillage this great country," he said.
The vast political, economic and social progress made in South Africa
over the past 13 years had roughly coincided with the systematic destruction
of the Zimbabwean economy.
"Let us not forget that the entire world remained silent when over 20
000 Ndebeles were massacred in the 1980s, which is when the rot of
appeasement set in," Mncwango said.
Close to the heart of the crisis in Zimbabwe had been the perceived
refusal of President Thabo Mbeki to use his considerable political leverage
and prestige to try to halt the political and economic catastrophe.
"While not wishing to impugn our president, the harsh reality is that
perceptions matter in the conduct of foreign policy; an area in which he has
It was not too late for Mbeki to live up to the unique anti-apartheid
heritage that brought him to power and to mirror its inherent morality in
South Africa's approach to Zimbabwe.
"It is time to banish the old boys' club mentality and stop sheltering
dictators because of their liberation credentials."
President Mbeki, working with the international community, could still
play the role of honest broker in Zimbabwe by bringing all the parties to
South Africa was ideally placed to host these negotiations as it had
done with other African conflicts, Mncwango said.
Democratic Alliance Chief Whip Douglas Gibson agreed South Africa
could play a stronger role, as it had elsewhere in Africa.
The focus had to be on bringing opposing sides to the negotiating
It was correct that Zimbabweans would in the final event have to
resolve their own problems, but they could not do it alone.
"If we had adopted the same attitude to the DRC or to Cote D'Ivoire,
they would not have had the slightest chance of resolving matters on their
"Why do we have a different attitude towards Zimbabwe? Or are we
waiting for complete meltdown and for greater human suffering?" Gibson
"Washing our hands of responsibility and expecting Zanu PF to go to
the negotiating table gives them a longer lease on life.
"We need to apply pressure and to encourage all other players within
the region who are able to do so to apply pressure."
It had to be made clear publicly that South Africa was appalled at the
mess that was Zimbabwe today and wanted it resolved.
Smart sanctions needed to be applied to Mugabe, his wife and his
cabinet members so that South Africa was no longer their place for luxury
shopping. These targeted the guilty and not the poor, Gibson said. - Sapa
How many more human rights abuses must we witness before the African Union
steps in to take action against the Zimbabwean government?
March 28, 2007 6:30 PM
Recently we have seen some shocking human rights abuses being inflicted on
hundreds of people in Zimbabwe, including the beating of Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the opposition, the killing of political activist, Gift Tandare,
and the arrest and unlawful detention of dozens of peaceful demonstrators,
some of whom were badly beaten while being held.
Over the past few years thousands of Zimbabweans have experienced similar
brutalities under the regime of systematic repression of all those who speak
in opposition to the country's President, Robert Mugabe and his government.
However for most of these people, the attacks against them have taken place
far away from the media spotlight.
Conditions in Zimbabwe have increasingly worsened where, as well as the
deterioration in economic and social conditions, the police have continued
to operate in a politically biased manner. The government's introduction of
the Public Security and Order Act (POSA) in 2002 has resulted in hundreds of
opposition supporters, independent media workers and human rights defenders
being arbitrarily arrested and in some cases beaten while in detention.
Amnesty International has documented incidents when this law has been
misused to prevent civil society groups from holding public meetings. In
September last year more than 100 women activists involved in Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were arrested before a planned peaceful sit-in at Town
House in Harare. Held in horrendous conditions at various police stations
for two days, many of these women were denied access to lawyers, adequate
food and medical care. Five babies were also detained with their mothers.
Away from the media spotlight - the international community did not notice.
Now the world's media has been able to get footage of the brutal repressive
regime of Zimbabwe's government in action, and attention is focused. Surely
the African Union (AU) must now respond?
The United Nations secretary general and the UN high commissioner for human
rights have urged Zimbabwe to respect human rights and US Secretary of State
Condoleeza Rice sent a powerful signal condemning the actions of President
Although international condemnation. has freely flowed, little action has
For once, the AU has spoken out against the actions of President Mugabe,
calling for human rights "to be respected". But this is far too weak a
response when one considers the deteriorating human rights crisis currently
unfolding in Zimbabwe. At best it amounts to little more than finger-wagging
Accountability for human rights violations is central to the AU 's own
Constitutive Act, and that body needs to show that it has the political will
to hold the government of Zimbabwe to account for these atrocities.
The AU has a real opportunity to demonstrate that it has the necessary
political will to do this. Otherwise, it is difficult to escape the
conclusion that the AU after all may not be entirely different from the
defunct state-centred Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
As for South Africa's response, they have described the beatings of Morgan
Tsvangirai to be "unacceptable". However the South African government's
spokesman, Mr Maseko made it clear that South Africa has no intention of
changing its approach to Zimbabwe's crisis, and that they will maintain
their practice of "quiet diplomacy".
Surely last week's events were evidence enough that such behind-the-scenes
negotiations are clearly not working?
Appropriate, strong action to stop these human rights abuses must be taken
by all African Union member states immediately. Amnesty International is
urging the AU to organise an extraordinary session of its Assembly to
discuss this worsening situation in Zimbabwe and agree on an effective
The people of Zimbabwe know that the African Union are aware of the brutal
regime under which they exist, they are now desperate to hear from them.
AI Index: AFR 46/007/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 061
28 March 2007
Zimbabwe: End harassment, torture and intimidation of opposition activists
Amnesty International expressed outrage at today's dramatic events in
Zimbabwe, including the arrest and subsequent release of Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The organization called
for an end to the continued harassment, torture and intimidation of
opposition activists in Zimbabwe.
"We are very concerned by reports of continuing brutal attacks on opposition
activists in Zimbabwe and call on the government to stop all acts of
violence and intimidation against opposition activists," said Kolawole
Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme.
The organization also called on African leaders meeting in the region to
take action in response to today's events.
"African leaders have allowed the government of Zimbabwe to operate outside
the international human rights framework by deciding to adopt a strategy of
quiet diplomacy -- a tactic that in this case has left the victims of human
rights violations to suffer without protection," said Olaniyan.
"Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders meeting in Tanzania
must now send an unequivocal message to the government of Zimbabwe that
human rights violations in that country will no longer be tolerated."
Amnesty International obtained the following information regarding recent
attacks on opposition activists in Zimbabwe:
a.. Morgan Tsvangirai, President of Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party, was
arrested today at his office in Harare together with at least 20 MDC party
workers and members. Lawyers were denied access to those arrested and some
were also threatened with arrest. Police are reported to have closed all
roads leading to the offices and eyewitnesses report seeing police loading
furniture into trucks. Tsvangirai was subsequently released.
b.. In a raid early this morning police arrested Paul Madzore and his wife
Melody Kuzvinetsa at their home. They also assaulted other occupants in the
house. Paul Madzore is a Member of Parliament (MP) for Glen View, a
constituency in Harare. Their whereabouts are unknown.
c.. Also early today, police arrested Ian Makone and his wife Theresa
Makone at their Borrowdale home in Harare. Ian Makone is a member of the MDC's
National Executive Committee. Theresa Makone is the MDC chairperson for
Mashonaland East Province.
d.. Police are also reported to have today arrested Pineal Denga and his
wife in Marondera. Pineal Denga is the organising secretary of the MDC in
Mashonaland East province. The couple's whereabouts are also unknown.
e.. At 12.00 pm on 27 March, Last Maengahama was abducted outside the
Borrowdale Shopping Centre in Harare by people in plain clothes who are
believed to be security agents. Maengahama was returning from a memorial
service for Gift Tandare, an activist who was shot dead by police in Harare
on 11 March 2007. Maengahama is also an MDC activist. He was later dumped by
his abductors in Mutorashanga, some 100 kilometres from Harare. He had been
severely beaten and is currently receiving medical treatment at a private
hospital in Harare.
Amnesty International called on the Zimbabwean government to ensure that all
those arrested have immediate access to lawyers, doctors and their families
and are promptly brought to court to review the legality of their detention.
The government must also guarantee their safety and well-being and
immediately investigate any allegations of torture.
"Anyone detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of
expression or assembly must be immediately and unconditionally released,"
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in
London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web:
For latest human rights news view http://news.amnesty.org
Wed 28 Mar 2007, 16:38 GMT
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain urged the U.N. Security Council and a
Southern African summit Wednesday to reprimand Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe over his country's deteriorating human rights and humanitarian
Mugabe has long faced criticism for violently cracking down on opponents of
his 27-year rule and again attracted global attention when he suppressed a
March 11 rally. Scores of opponents were detained and then showed signs of
The Security Council is due to be briefed Thursday about the situation in
Zimbabwe, where police stormed the main opposition party headquarters
Wednesday and arrested its leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other politicians.
"We believe that the United Nations and specifically this council should
accelerate action on Zimbabwe to match that of the European Union and other
regional organizations such as the Southern African Development Community
(SADC)," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Parry Jones told the Security
The European Union president Germany said it was "deeply concerned" at the
arrest of opposition politicians, while the European Parliament said it was
time to end the "brutality."
But South Africa's U.N. Ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, the council president
for March, has said the situation in Zimbabwe is not a threat to
international peace and security and therefore should not be dealt with by
the Security Council.
Jones Parry said Britain welcomed plans by the 14-member Southern African
Development Community to discuss Zimbabwe Thursday at its leaders meeting in
"We hope that summit will send a strong message about the human rights and
humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe where daily the news seems to get worse,"
But political analysts have said regional leaders were unlikely to condemn
Mugabe publicly, although the Tanzanian summit was important in focusing
world attention on Zimbabwe's escalating crisis.
Mugabe, 83, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from Britain in 1980,
has traded on his legacy as a leading light in Africa's anti-colonial
struggle and says he is the victim of Western sabotage for his policy of
seizing white-owned farms to distribute to landless blacks.
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Date: 28 Mar 2007
SADC Summit Should Address Crisis
(Johannesburg, March 28, 2007) - The government of Zimbabwe has permitted
security forces to commit serious abuses with impunity against opposition
activists and ordinary Zimbabweans alike, Human Rights Watch said today.
Security forces are responsible for arbitrary arrests and detentions and
beatings of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters,
civil society activists, and the general public.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state are meeting
today at an extraordinary summit in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania to discuss,
among other issues, the political situation in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe is scheduled to attend the meeting. Human Rights
Watch called on the sub-regional organization to take strong measures to
address the escalating crisis.
"The government of Zimbabwe has intensified its brutal suppression of its
own citizens in an effort to crush all forms of dissent,"said Georgette
Gagnon, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The crackdown shows
the government has extended its attack on political dissent to ordinary
Zimbabweans, which should prompt the SADC to act quickly."
Human Rights Watch recently spent two weeks in Zimbabwe interviewing many
victims of abuse and witnesses to the political unrest in the cities of
Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare. Witnesses and victims from Harare's
high-density suburbs of Glenview, Highfield and Mufakose told Human Rights
Watch that for the past few weeks police forces patrolling these locations
have randomly and viciously beaten Zimbabweans in the streets, shopping
malls, and in bars and beer halls.
Police forces have also gone house-to-house beating people with batons,
stealing possessions and accusing them of supporting the opposition. The
terror caused by the police has forced many families in the affected areas
into a self-imposed curfew after dark.
The recent escalation of political unrest in Zimbabwe began when police
imposed a three-month ban on all political rallies and meetings in Harare on
February 21, 2007. The opposition MDC and civil society activists vowed to
defy the ban. Since then, hundreds of MDC members, including its leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, and civil society activists have been arrested and
detained around the country. On March 15, for example, 14 MDC members were
arrested in Bulwayo for failing to notify the police about plans to organize
a demonstration. They were released without charge the following day. On
March 16, four students were arrested at the University of Zimbabwe campus
and accused by police of being "security threats" before being released on
the same day without charge.
The violent police disruption of a prayer meeting organized by the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign on March 11, and the subsequent arrest of MDC and civil
society activists, led to skirmishes between opposition members and security
forces in several high-density surburbs in Harare. According to police
reports, three police officers were injured in a clash with opposition
members before the prayer meeting. Police reports published in the state-run
Herald newspaper also alleged that MDC activists had engaged in acts of
violence, including the petrol bombing of several police stations around the
country, which in one case severely burned three police officers. These
events have triggered a brutal government backlash against activists and
"The government ought to prosecute those accused of violent acts but it
shouldn't respond to political unrest with ever more brutal and excessive
force," said Gagnon.
On March 14, police severely beat 10 employees of a local store in Mufakose,
Harare. The shop manager told Human Rights Watch:
The police who attacked us were more than 50. They hit us just outside the
store as we were locking up for the night and leaving. More than eight
vehicles of police came and they said 'everybody sit down.' We were dressed
in our store uniform. I tried to negotiate with them to say we were just
employees but the first one beat me with a baton and I sat down. They hit me
on my leg and my shoulder was also hurt. They were beating us with batons,
rifle butts and they were kicking us.... They were saying 'you are MDC
people.' We are now so scared.
In another case on March 14, one man told Human Rights Watch how a group of
12 policemen brutally assaulted him at a bar in Glenview, Harare:
I was accosted by one policeman who told me to come outside. But when I got
outside there were two more policemen armed with batons and they begun to
beat me. They beat me thouroughly and then they told me to go but I fell
down and they started beating me again. They were joined by other policemen
and there was now a chain of policemen beating me with batons and kicking me
in the ribs everywhere. They were telling me 'you are beating policemen, don't
do that.' I told them that I didn't know anything about beating policemen
but they continued hitting me. I fell unconscious and when I woke up I was
taken to Harare central hospital where they took an x-ray. They found I had
a broken arm and badly bruised ribs.
A 15-year-old girl and her mother were abducted on March 19 at Warren Park D
in Harare by a group of unknown persons, they alleged to be government
supporters. The girl described her ordeal to Human Rights Watch:
We were put into a car and blindfolded and we didn't know where we were
going. Then they put us into another vehicle. I think it was an open truck.
They took us to Mount Hampden and we were taken out of the car and badly
beaten with clenched fists and kicked while we were there. They were saying
'your father is an MDC supporter and you are the ladies of Women of Zimabwe
Arise and that is why we are beating you up.' We were hit on our heads, our
backs, our legs, everywhere. We were just beaten up very badly. We haven't
reported the case to the police because it is no use. They will just arrest
us again because those people who beat us are part of that. It's no use.
The girl and other victims of similar abuses told Human Rights Watch that
they believe members of Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organization,
members of the ruling ZANU PF party and its 'youth militia,' were the likely
perpetrators of these abuses and other acts of intimidation, abduction and
assault of opposition members and civil society activists.
"The government should investigate and if necessary punish abuses by the
security forces," said Gagnon.
The Zimbabwean government has legal obligations under several international
and African human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples'
Rights, which require it to respect the right to life and to physical
integrity, as well as the freedoms of association, expression and assembly.
Human Rights Watch called on the government to ensure respect for these
obligations, and launch an immediate and independent investigation into
abuses by security forces around the country.
Human Rights Watch also called on the Zimbabwean security forces to abide by
the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement
Officials in policing demonstrations. The principles state that law
enforcement officials, in carrying out their duties, apply nonviolent means
as far as possible before resorting to the use of force. Whenever the lawful
use of force is unavoidable, law enforcement officials must use restraint
and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense.
Human Rights Watch expressed deep concern that the SADC has so far failed to
make a concerted effort to address the Zimbabwean government's repeated
violations of fundamental human rights. Zimbabwe is a member state of the
SADC and all member states commit themselves to respect human rights.
"The Zimbabwe government's flagrant violations of its citizens' rights have
contributed to the country's political crisis," said Gagnon. "Southern
African leaders' failure to take strong action over Zimbabwe would be a
betrayal of the SADC's commitment to protect and respect human rights."
Human Rights Watch called on SADC leaders to:
- Strongly condemn and demand an end to all human rights abuses committed in
Zimbabwe, including the recent acts of violence and brutality by security
forces against Zimabweans, impunity for police abuse, arbitrary arrests and
detentions of opposition supporters and civil society activists, and the
general climate of repression faced by Zimbabwe's citizens.
- Consistently and publicly condemn any further abuses committed by the
Zimbabwean authorities, such as refusals to allow political opposition
rallies and other acts of political repression. The SADC should stand united
in publicly demanding greater respect for freedom of assembly, association,
and expression in Zimbabwe.
- Call on the Zimbabwean government to establish an independent commission
of inquiry with participation from the SADC into recent abuses by security
"The time has come for Southern African leaders to work together to ensure
the crisis in Zimbabwe doesn't destabilize the entire region."
To read the November 2006 Human Rights Watch report, "'You will be
Thoroughly Beaten': The Brutal Suppression of Dissent in Zimbabwe," please
For more information, please contact:
In Johnnesburg, Tiseke Kasambala (English): +44-79-3965-5384 (mobile)
In Toronto, Georgette Gagnon (English): +1-416-893-2709 (mobile)
In London, Tom Porteous (English): +44-20-7713-2766; or +44-79-8398-4982
In Brussels, Reed Brody (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese):
+32-2-732-2009; or +32-498-625786 (mobile)
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: March 28, 2007
WASHINGTON: The State Department on Wednesday urged southern African nations
to call Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to account for his years-long
misrule of the Zimbabwean people.
Deputy spokesman Tom Casey noted that the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) plans to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe on Thursday at a
meeting in Tanzania.
Casey said SADC should make clear that Mugabe's actions in the recent past
are unacceptable. He should be called to account for his misrule "not only
over the last few weeks but over the last few years."
He said Mugabe has lately been engaged in an "all-out campaign" to
intimidate legitimate political opposition.
HARARE, 28 March 2007 (IRIN) - Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Zimbabwean
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and several other members
of his party were detained in a police raid in the capital, Harare, on
Wednesday, said party officials and lawyers. Police denied picking up
Tsvangirai but confirmed a crackdown on "perpetrators of violence".
"Mr Tsvangirai was about to address a press conference on the abduction of
Ian Makoni [MDC party member] and his wife last night [Tuesday], when the
police came and cordoned the road outside the MDC head office and picked up
every single person in the office," said Tendai Biti, MDC secretary-general.
He could not confirm the number of people in the office at the time.
The detention of the opposition members came as President Robert Mugabe was
reportedly scheduled to attend a South African Development Community (SADC)
meeting in Tanzania on Thursday and Friday, called to discuss the situation
Zimbabwe. 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.
Otto Saki, an attorney with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, an NGO that
defends victims of rights abuses, confirmed that Tsvangirai and other
opposition members had been "arrested". "But we still don't know on what
grounds, and we have not been allowed to access them."
A statement from Crisis in Zimbabwe, a coalition of more than 300 civil
society organisations, said Tsvangirai had been arrested when he was about
to announce Makoni's abduction by unknown assailants, who were suspected of
being military intelligence officers.
Crisis added that Tsvangirai had also planned to deny the involvement of the
MDC in the recent spate of petrol bombings around the country, but
truckloads of heavily armed police arrived to raid the MDC office.
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, the national police spokesman, has
confirmed that the police raided the MDC office and "picked up some people
last night" (Tuesday).
"Tsvangirai was not among the people we picked up this morning [Wednesday]
as part of our campaign to look for perpetrators of violence," he told IRIN.
However, police sources told IRIN that Tsvangirai had been arrested but
released later in the afternoon.
Aleck Muchadehama, one of Tsvangirai's lawyers, said he had been told that
the MDC leader had been arrested but was waiting to get further details on
why his client had been detained.
"I am aware that Tsvangirai was arrested but I am still in the dark about
what is happening. Right now, I don't have details of his arrest,"
Muchadehama told IRIN late on Wednesday afternoon.
HEAVY POLICE PRESENCE
Scores of police officers in riot gear, wielding AK-47 assault rifles,
barricaded all the roads around Harvest House, the MDC headquarters in
Harare, on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in the city centre there was an unusually heavy presence of
policemen, some of whom told IRIN that they had been hurriedly summoned from
police stations from across the capital to beef up security in anticipation
Fearing violence, some people decided to leave their workplaces in the
afternoon, while some businesses, especially small retail shops, sent their
workers home as early as 10 in the morning.
"Even though there was no evidence of people gathering, I sent my workers
home in the morning because, in the past, my shop has been the target of
criminals who take advantage of the breakout of violence. With so many
police officers around, anything can happen," said Tichaona Makwiro, the
owner of a shop that sells electrical goods in the city centre.
Zimbabwe has been simmering for the past two months, but the situation has
taken a violent turn since the police imposed a ban on political rallies in
February. About two weeks ago, there were running battles with the police
ahead of a planned prayer meeting in Harare, in which an opposition
supporter was shot dead by the police, and opposition leaders, including
Tsvangirai, were arrested and allegedly beaten while in custody.
Strikes and protests to highlight the worsening economic situation have now
given way to bombings of police stations, a passenger train and a
supermarket, among other targets across the country.
RUMBLINGS FROM WITHIN
In an extraordinary move, the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport
and communications, which is dominated by ruling ZANU-PF party legislators
and chaired by Leo Mugabe, President Robert Mugabe's nephew, expressed its
displeasure last week over the attack on Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson
for one of the MDC factions.
Chamisa was attacked and beaten by unknown assailants at Harare
International Airport while he was preparing to travel to Brussels for a
meeting of parliamentarians from African, Caribbean and Pacific states as
well as the European Union. He had to be hospitalised.
"Members [of the committee] have raised this concern [lax security] with
regards to what happened to Honourable Chamisa. It happened at the airport,
and we call for the need to ensure high security so that we do not have a
repeat of what happened," Mugabe said. He suggested that members of
parliament always be escorted to the airport to ensure their safety.
Jabulani Sibanda, a former ZANU-PF official, commented: "The MDC is a
properly registered party that has been in existence since 1999, and that
means its views should be respected by the police, government and political
opponents," Sibanda told IRIN. "It becomes unacceptable when members of the
MDC are beaten up as though they belonged to a criminal formation."
More unrest is expected next week as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
has announced a two-day job stayaway to protest falling standards of living,
80 percent unemployment and a fast-deteriorating economy, marked by
inflation of more than 1,700 percent.
28 March 2007, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
By Martin Plaut
BBC News Africa analyst
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has gone to meet his fellow heads
of state in Tanzania in a defiant mood.
He may appear to be in a corner, with the world's fastest-shrinking
economy, massive food shortages and pressure from the international
But Mr Mugabe has been in a corner before and knows how to respond.
An indication of his response came in the state-run Herald newspaper.
It accused the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of
using an underground organisation, the Democratic Resistance Committees, to
unleash what were described as "orgies of violence to create mayhem and
render Zimbabwe ungovernable".
A police spokesman, assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, accused
the committees of being behind eight petrol bomb attacks in the past 12
"These are clearly acts of terrorism," he said.
The opposition believes President Mugabe will present the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) leaders with a dossier outlining these
charges in detail.
He will then challenge them to side with him, as a leader of a
liberation movement, or with "terrorists" backed by imperialist forces.
This is the language the president has used time and again, tying in
alleged plots by Britain and the West in general to destabilise his
In the past this defiance has won the day. But it may not work much
Reluctant as the rest of the region will be to take on Mr Mugabe, he
is now a real threat to regional stability.
As Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said last Friday, Zimbabwe is like
the Titanic and if it sinks it could take its neighbours down with it.
Zimbabweans have little food and little prospect of getting more.
Only a third of the 1.8m tonnes of maize the country needs will be
harvested this year.
An estimated 2m Zimbabweans are said to be so desperate they could
flee across the country's borders if the economic situation worsens.
While Malawi has some surplus grain, the rest of the region is also
short of food and could be overwhelmed.
South Africa is also increasingly worried about the impact of
Zimbabwe's instability on its own position.
While President Thabo Mbeki insists he is engaged in "constructive
diplomacy" with his northern neighbour and that Zimbabwe's problems must be
solved by Zimbabweans, it is clear he is delivering a tougher message in
When the two men met in Ghana for the country's 50th anniversary
celebrations this month Mr Mbeki told Mr Mugabe he was determined that the
2010 World Cup planned for South Africa would not be placed in jeopardy.
Some European nations have begun contemplating challenging South
Africa's suitability as a venue if chaos in Zimbabwe deepens.
This is something that President Mbeki will not be willing to
The talks in Tanzania are likely to be more frank and direct than
anything President Mugabe has ever experienced from his fellow African heads
By Tawanda Mutasah
Last updated: 03/29/2007 04:12:12
AS THE wake-up calls buzzed on Wednesday morning in the bedrooms of heads of
state and government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
heralding their emergency discussions on Zimbabwe and the DRC, about twenty
armed police were simultaneously raiding the house of Harare Ward 11 civic
chairperson, Peter Bhokosi.
As the SADC discussions began, by late afternoon Wednesday, several other
shocking human rights abuses had taken place in Zimbabwe, including the
arrests of at least 10 MDC officials following the barricading by armed
police of the Harare headquarters of the MDC, abductions and arrests of
ordinary people and activists alike, threats to lawyers who are seeking
accountability for the whereabouts of abducted people, and the raiding by
about 40 armed policemen of the Zimbabwe Domestic Workers' Union offices in
Gweru in pursuit of labour organiser Zacharia Chikwenya for his part in
distributing flyers on a proposed national labour stay away.
For the last seven years of Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic
crisis, the sentiment has often been expressed that, those who want to be
effective in their correction of Harare's human rights misdeeds must beat
Mugabe with an African stick, and not a Western rod.
After the shocking and still ongoing events that started with the torture of
civic and opposition leaders two weeks ago on 11 March, this view gained
even more currency.
Encouraging this approach has been a number of practical developments over
the last two weeks. Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete jetted in to meet
with Mugabe in Harare; Ghana's John Kufuor - the current African Union(AU)
chair - and AU commission head Alpha Konare raised concerns about human
rights abuses in Zimbabwe; Pretoria - whose politicians have been previously
known for speaking on Zimbabwe with water in their mouths - sat up and
expressed its discomfort over events next door; President Mbeki reportedly
phoned Mugabe; a SADC troika on politics and security issues met on
Zimbabwe; Zambia's President Mwanawasa forthrightly called Zimbabwe a
"sinking titanic"; and the SADC summit that is meeting today was promptly
All this is as it should be. But there is a lingering anxiety on the part of
human rights defenders in Zimbabwe and on the African continent that, unless
an approach radically different from their past efforts is adopted by SADC
and the AU, Mugabe could yet still use African regional mechanisms as a
shield behind which to hide as he oversees the implosion of his country.
Consider the record.
On the 22nd of August 2006, SADC chair Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho
announced that former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa had been
appointed to "mediate between Britain and Zimbabwe" to resolve the Zimbabwe
crisis. As strange as the terms of reference were given that Mugabe needs to
negotiate not with Tony Blair but with fellow Zimbabweans in opposition,
civic, trade union, business and other circles, Mkapa himself a little later
indicated his reluctance to take up the brief.
Before that, an attempt had been made by former Mozambican President
Chissano to help, and his efforts had come to naught. Before that, after US
President Bush had stood beside President Mbeki in Pretoria and said that
the latter was the "point man" on Zimbabwe, Mbeki had repeatedly assured the
world for more than five years that he had assurances from Harare that a
solution was six months away.
Then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had spoken to Mugabe on the sidelines
of the AU summit mid-2006, and that effort had also not yielded results.
When the 38th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and
People's Rights pronounced against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, Harare
had promptly reacted by questioning its 'Africanness'.
The list goes on.
The point is this: at the centre of the Zimbabwe crisis is the very
inability of Mugabe and the small group of securocrats around him to have a
bona fide national conversation out of the crisis. They are bound together
by a web of entrenched and mutually reinforcing interests which are about
retention of power, fear of accountability for human rights abuses,
maintenance of a lootocracy that has assumed increasingly shocking
proportions, and preservation of the few remaining benefits of Mugabe's
They have consistently put the wool over the eyes of their African
neighbours, using a combination of diversionary national theatrics such as
the current central bank driven "social contract" and church driven
"national vision" processes, as well as poker-faced untruths such as the
thirteen page propaganda document recently issued by Mugabe's Foreign
Minister to African embassies, claiming among other things that Tsvangirai
and Mutambara have been leading a campaign of violence against the State,
and that on 11 March Tsvangirai was "at no time...assaulted while in police
The energies of this group are singularly devoted not to a genuine
resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis, but to keeping Mugabe in power until
death - using his insecurity to shackle him to the presidential chair, while
using his persona to prop up both the pretence at the national level of
cohesion in the ruling Zanu PF, and, at the international level, the
rhetoric and posture of Africanist liberationism.
It is even possible that the State in Zimbabwe has already disintegrated,
and Mugabe - though he will not admit it - has lost control of a section of
the security apparatus that may in fact be spearheading the current
crackdown on pro-democracy forces, with the twin objective of precipitating
social unrest to remove Mugabe while at the same time eliminating real
political competition from leaders with mass opposition constituencies. Even
then, Mugabe would have to be made to take responsibility for sinking the
country into such an abyss.
Given such a reality, SADC and the AU must be crystal clear about the
fundamentals. First, they must hold Mugabe accountable to the human rights
and democratic norms and standards and African treaty law that Zimbabwe is
signatory to - making it clear that human rights are human rights. This is
what the new pan-Africanism ushered in by the transition from the
Organisation of African Unity to the African Union should be about.
The new pan Africanism has put democracy and human rights at its core. At
the same time, because of the historical memory of subjugation, as well as
the reality of how much contemporary global relations are still far from
equitable, Africans also, correctly, seek to assert their right to
self-determine and to define their democratic ethos.
It is well and good that there is a commitment to be African. But surely the
quintessence of being African should be about saying "never again" to human
rights abuse and democratic arrest. Africa has played an important role in
the United Nations, and other multilateral systems, in the elaboration of
international human rights instruments.
Africa has led in the articulation of alternatives to slavery, colonialism,
neo-colonial pillage, structural adjustment programmes, the debt burden,
Washington Consensus dogma, and global superpower unilateralism and military
adventurism. Surely such a rich rights tradition provides the basis for
Africa to expand, rather than to diminish, the international struggle for
democracy and human rights. In any event, the right to participate in
governance, as well as other rights - such as assembly, expression and
conscience, - associated with the suffrage, are universal human rights.
Just as any passenger sitting on a flight and having their life as it were
in the hands of the pilot would hope that the pilot is not going to say that
there is an African way of flying a Boeing, African citizen passengers often
become frightened when they hear their political leaders threatening the
spectre of an "African way" of respecting human rights. Human rights are
Second, SADC leaders must now hold Mugabe accountable to an immediate and
time-bound process aimed at getting Zimbabwe out of crisis. This must
include, in the next 365 or so days remaining before Zimbabwe's presidential
elections, a clear pathway for a democratic constitution, an immediate
restoration to the rule of law, repeal of repressive legislation, a
framework for free and fair elections under international supervision, and
transitional guarantees of non-partisan control of key state institutions
such as police, army and intelligence.
Those are the conditions under which President Mbeki's wish for Zimbabweans
to "solve their own problems" can be peacefully realised.
Tawanda Mutasah is a Zimbabwean lawyer and was founding convenor of the
National Constitutional Assembly
By Tererai Karimakwenda
27 March, 2007
Lawyers in Zimbabwe have reported that it has become impossible for them to
conduct their work due to intensified abusive behaviour by the police.
Several lawyers have been assaulted or verbally abused in the last few weeks
and in many cases, they have not been allowed access to their clients.
Additionally, top police chefs have ignored High Court rulings ordering them
not to interfere with opposition rallies or to release arrested activists
and opposition officials.
Speaking on the programme In The balance with Gugulethu Moyo, Tafadzwa
Mugabe of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the problems became
worse from March 11th when police arrested opposition leaders and blocked a
prayer meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign. Tafadzwa said the
police have grown increasingly intolerant to the presence of lawyers and
disrespectful of court processes. He added that lawyers cannot even deliver
a letter to police stations without being harassed, assaulted or verbally
abused. The police have been targeting those lawyers dealing with human
rights abuses and political cases.
When MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai was detained by police at his party's
headquarters in Harare Wednesday, Tafadzwa said lawyers were not allowed to
come within 100 metres of the gate. As a result it was not known whether
Tsvangirai had been arrested and removed from the premises or whether he was
being detained inside the Harvest House. Tafadzwa also said many stop and
search procedures being conducted by the police are illegal because they
have no warrants and no reasonable cause.
Lawyers have taken to approaching police stations in teams of two or more so
they can feel safe. This would mean there would also be a witness if
something should happen.
A delegation of Zimbabwean human rights lawyers visited Mozambique recently
to lobby civil society groups there to pressure Robert Mugabe to introduce
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
28-03-2007 - 20:05
At the beginning of the session in Brussels, President Hans-Gert Pöttering
issued the following statement in connection with recent events in Zimbabwe:
"In the past weeks the political situation in Zimbabwe has escalated. There
have been violent attacks from government-controlled forces.
On 11 March, an gathering in the suburbs of the capital Harare was disrupted
by armed police. In this attack a member of the opposition, Gift Tandere,
was shot and numerous protestors were injured.
Forty leading members of the opposition, including the Chairmen of the main
opposition party, MDC (Movement for Democratic Change), Morgan Tsvangirai,
and Arthur Mutambara, were arrested and suffered serious mistreatment by the
On 18 March, a member of the opposition party, Nelson Chamisa, was severely
beaten and was taken into hospital with serious injuries. He was travelling
to the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly. This attack prompted the Bureau
of the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly, in agreement with other African
members, to condemn this incident. The Bureau called on the government of
Zimbabwe to put an end to the ongoing violence in the country and to respect
human rights and the rule of law.
We condemn all forms of violence and repression by the government of
President Mugabe. The Council and the Commission should co-operate with all
international, regional and national forces in order to find a transitional
solution to turn it from the current regime to a real democracy."
Glenys Kinnock (PES, UK), Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary
Assembly said: "I wanted to tell the House that one hour ago Morgan
Tsvangirai was again arrested by the police and security forces in Harare.
He and his staff were about to have a news conference to discuss the events
which you described in your speech.
I would like this House, therefore, to condemn that re-arrest of Morgan
Tsvangirai and to say that the brutality against the opposition has to stop
and the southern African community has to react in their meeting in Tanzania
The Age, Australia
March 29, 2007
The country faces ruin if President Robert Mugabe manages to extend his
ZIMBABWE may be bleeding to death but it is doing so quietly. Ordinary
citizens are too busy hunting scarce food with money rendered almost
worthless by hyper-inflation to rebel against their government.
The calm is deceptive. A bitter power struggle set to play out behind the
scenes in the next few days could either spell the political demise of
autocratic President Robert Mugabe or see him confirmed as a North
Korean-style dictator, propped up by his security forces while his citizens
If the 83-year-old Mugabe succeeds in extending his rule for several more
years, the country faces ruin. After 10 years of disastrous economic
policies and state-sanctioned looting, massive foreign aid is now needed
merely to stabilise this once-prosperous country.
As it stands, the international community will waste nothing more on Mr
Mugabe. But even if senior members of Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwean African
National Union succeed in setting a date for his retirement, Zimbabwe's
shrunken economy will still be in the hands of the corrupt and inept
politicians who share the blame for the current disaster.
Much will hinge on crucial meetings in Harare of the politburo and the
central committee of Zanu-PF, through which Mr Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe
since the end of white rule in 1980.
Mr Mugabe, who recently announced his intention to rule until he is 100
years old, is demanding his party's endorsement as its sole presidential
candidate in polls due next year. But the signs are that, for the first time
since Mr Mugabe took power, some of his own hard men are ready to defy him.
Former army commander Solomon Mujuru and former security chief Emmerson
Mnangagwa are bitter rivals, but neither has any interest in seeing Mr
Mugabe rule for much longer.
Last December, the President suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Mr
Mujuru's faction when Zanu-PF's annual conference rejected Mr Mugabe's
suggestion that next year's presidential poll be postponed until 2010.
Both Mr Mujuru and Mr Mnangagwa have strong reasons for wanting to pension
off their old boss much sooner than that. First and foremost, both are
itching to succeed him.
Second, like all Zimbabweans, they are seeing their domestic wealth swept
away by hyper-inflation running at 1750 per cent a year.
Third, observers believe that after years of tacit support, the regional
giant, South Africa, is now determined to show Mr Mugabe the door.
"(South African president Thabo) Mbeki has decided that he can't allow the
situation to get any worse," said Eddie Cross, chief policy adviser to
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. "Zimbabwean refugees are now crossing
into South Africa at a rate of 1500 a day. Only 600,000 of the 3 million
Zimbabweans in South Africa are there legally. What is a guy going to do if
he can't get a job there? What if he's an ex-soldier? The South African
police say that half of their bank heists are now carried out by Zimbabwean
But a defeat for Mr Mugabe this week would be unlikely to translate into a
victory for Mr Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change, believed
by many pro-democracy groups and Western observers to have defeated Mr
Mugabe in 2002's stolen presidential elections.
Two weeks ago, police government thugs set about Mr Tsvangirai and 40
opposition and reformist leaders while they were in police custody,
producing bloody images that once more shoved Zimbabwe onto the world's
But according to many analysts, South Africa's ruling African National
Congress still feels more hostility towards the MDC than it does to Zanu-PF
and Mr Mugabe. An MDC victory would appear to the ANC to threaten its
monopoly on power in South Africa.
The ANC elite faces a split with its two traditional coalition partners from
the anti-apartheid struggle - the Congress of South African Trades Unions
and the South African Congress Party. Dismayed at the continuing rightward
economic and political drift of the ANC leadership, both are threatening to
Analysts say the solution favoured by South Africa - and probably by at
least one faction within Zanu-PF - would be for Mr Mugabe to retire in the
next few months and be replaced by a transitional president nominated from
within his party.
The most likely candidate is current Vice-President Joyce Mujuru, wife of
Solomon. According to this plan, after two years fresh elections would be
held under a new constitution.
Mr Tsvangirai's branch of the MDC (a smaller splinter group broke away last
year) has rejected this proposal, saying it will not become a junior partner
in what it fears would remain a corrupt and brutal regime. It wants fresh
elections to be held next year under international supervision to elect an
interim government that would then spend two years drawing up a new
constitution before further elections.
But Eddie Cross says the MDC is still willing to negotiate to avoid
bloodshed. "We can't have the thieves in charge of the cash box, but we
recognise that we'll have to compromise
if we are to have a peaceful transfer. We have to give Mugabe a dignified
exit. We can't go around prosecuting people. We'll have to offer deals to
people who committed human rights abuses, like they did in South Africa."
In recent years, Western forces including Britain, the US, Australia and the
EU states have called loudly for democracy for Zimbabwe, but their
missionary zeal seems to have ebbed in the wake of the Middle Eastern
fiasco. Britain, which went head-to-head with Mr Mugabe at the beginning of
this decade over the confiscation of white-owned farms, has been more muted
lately; there are fears that it, too, might accept a deal that falls short
of freedom or prosperity for the 10 million or so Zimbabweans who have not
yet fled their country.
And last but not least, Robert Mugabe has other ideas himself. He talks of
declaring a state of emergency in the face of MDC "terrorism", which would
allow him to rule indefinitely without reference to his cabinet or party,
let alone the parliament or people.
"You can't judge the strength of the President by his popularity with the
people but by his support among the security forces," said Jabulani Sibanda,
a dissident member of Zanu-PF and former chairman of the powerful war
veterans' organisation. "As long as he can keep the top police and army
chiefs with him he can still be in power. What happens next will depend on
Mugabe rule near end: MP
ROBERT Mugabe's time as Zimbabwe's ruler is drawing to a close and his last
days in office could be "nasty, short and brutish", his former right-hand
man, Jonathan Moyo, has said.
Mr Moyo said Mr Mugabe would face a high threat of a palace coup if he
refused to retire voluntarily. "Compelling forces are gathering against
Mugabe's continued rule."
"Neighbouring leaders and factions within Zanu-PF agree that Mugabe has
become a liability," Mr Moyo, the former information minister, said. "They
are pressing Mr Mugabe to retire when his current term expires in 2008. Mr
Mugabe does not want to accept that, but even a master politician has a
limited number of tricks in his hat and Mugabe is running out of ploys that
he can use.
"No one will buy his anti-Western, anti-imperialist rhetoric any more."
Mr Mugabe was planning to make his party to endorse him again at Zanu-PF's
central committee meeting tomorrow, but neighbouring leaders plan to remind
him he promised to retire, Mr Moyo said. GUARDIAN
By Tony Hawkins in Harare and Lionel Barber in Johannesburg
Published: March 27 2007 22:05 | Last updated: March 28 2007 20:28
Police rearrested Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwean opposition leader, on
Wednesday sparking rare criticism from a senior South African official just
as regional leaders were due to meet to discuss Zimbabwe's escalating
The raid by armed police on the opposition Movement For Democratic Change
(MDC) offices in Harare was carried out only hours before President Robert
Mugabe flew out to Tanzania for an emergency summit of the 14-nation
Southern African Development Community (SADC). Zimbabwe's deteriorating
political and economic environment was set to be top of the agenda at the
It was reported by Reuters news agency Wednesday night that Mr Tsvangirai
had been released. But his detention for the second time in a fortnight
prompted Trevor Manuel, South Africa's finance minister, to question the
Zimbabwe government's good faith at the talks.
"Why would you behave in such a silly fashion if you want to resolve the
issues?" he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
Mr Manuel went on to caution that SADC leaders would struggle to make
immediate headway at the summit.
South Africa's cautious approach to the crisis has come under renewed
international and regional scrutiny in recent weeks as Zimbabwe's economic
decline has accelerated and government repression of opposition activists
In defence of President Thabo Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" Mr Manuel said South
Africa had in the past provided a venue for talks among Zimbabweans. It had
proved extremely difficult, however, to make agreements stick.
"The big, big problem is people must be in a state of mind where they want
to change," he added, alluding to the leadership of the opposition MDC as
much as to Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF.
Images of Mr Tsvangirai's battered and swollen face as he emerged from
custody two weeks ago caused international outrage. In turn, this has led to
hardening sentiment among some of Mr Mugabe's peers in the region who fear
Zimbabwe's collapse will impact the whole region.
Tendai Biti, party secretary of the MDC, said that about 20 administrative
staff had been arrested on Wednesday along with Mr Tsvangirai.
Zimbabwe's state media have portrayed the SADC summit in Tanzania as
intended to discuss "violence" unleashed by the MDC.
In a statement accusing the opposition of responsibility for a recent spate
of petrol bombings in and around the capital, Harare, police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena said the MDC was guilty of "criminal acts ... that have descended
into orchestrated and organised acts of terrorism".
Since the brutal attack on Zimbabwean opposition and civic leaders on March
11, and the strong international response against the Mugabe regime,
speculation has grown that Zimbabwe is on the cusp of political change.
There are certainly indicators that Mugabe is weaker and more isolated than
he has ever been, not only internationally, but at national and regional
levels. With his party mired in a destructive battle over succession, and
the emergence of a more critical tone in some of the statements from the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union, it has
clearly become harder for the Zimbabwean leader to espouse his
anti-imperialist rhetoric with the resonance of the past.
The gruesome response his security sector dealt to the opposition's dissent
is just the latest example of Mugabe's brutal suppression of his citizens.
It is a fact that no amount of African solidarity can conceal. Nor is it
plausible for writers who have portrayed this violence as a short term
aberration in a "progressive long-term" project to continue to evade the
stubborn modality of political violence that has increasingly marked the
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) project.
Mugabe's immediate response to the growing chorus of criticism of his rule
has been to go on the offensive and attempt to remobilize war veterans, to
temporarily strengthen his position. He will probably combine this effort
with attempts to weaken the position of his opponents within the party
structures. He is also clearly willing to inflict further lethal violence on
the opposition forces in the country.
However, Mugabe is likely to be less successful in his present attempt to
reconfigure the party and state than he was in the period from 2000-2005,
when there was greater unity in his party, and when he enjoyed more support
on the continent. For the SADC leaders meeting to discuss the Zimbabwean
situation, the challenge is how to translate growing concern over Mugabe's
delinquent state into a political process beyond the current impasse. For
this they will need to negotiate between the intransigence of Mugabe and his
support base, and the dangers of being seen to carry out a project of
Western hypocrisy in Africa.
Posted by Brian Raftopoulos on March 28, 2007 10:44 AM
Well, the latest news is that Mugabe has had the leader of the opposition
arrested. If this is a tipping point, it had better tip quickly before
Mugabe's men beat him to death.
March 28, 2007 11:28 AM |
the only way for zimbabwe is to take back our country by force like we took
it 27 years ago
March 28, 2007 1:35 PM |
At this rate Mugabe will have to extend the relection date, or not get
elected for another term. when Mugabe leaves, the poverty stricken state of
Zimbabwe will improve. Donate money to help the Zimbabweans who are living
under the porverty line at www.eliasfund.org.
March 28, 2007 1:51 PM |
March 28, 2007 01:31 PMToday I'd just like to
draw your attention to a fantastic op-ed piece in the Mail & Guardian by
Trevor Ncube, who is chief executive and publisher of M&G Media and
publisher and executive chairperson of the Zimbabwe Independent and the
Standard. Ncube gives great insight into the current Zimbabwean political
playing field, most especially
within Zanu-PF, and plots a way forward for Zimbabwe out of this current
disaster. It's a great read, and I'd encourage you to explore it in its
entirety. As a teaser, here are a few paragraphs:
Two powerful factions within the ruling party want Mugabe out of office.
These factions take credit for defeating Mugabe's 2010 project. The more
powerful of the two is led by retired general Solomon Mujuru, whose wife,
Joyce, is one of Mugabe's vice-presidents. A year ago, this faction was on
the ascendancy, but has clearly fallen out of favour, as evidenced by Mugabe's
attack on the Mujurus' ambitions.
The flavour of the moment is the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led faction, which
suffered a major reversal of fortunes following the Tsolotsho incident in
2004. Now Mugabe, as part of a divide and rule tactic, is making this
faction believe it is his preferred heir. It would be political folly for
the Mnangagwa camp to derive a false sense of comfort from Mugabe's
political embrace. He will dump them as soon as they become a real threat
and once he is secure again. Make no mistake, politics in Zimbabwe is about
Mugabe and nothing else.
And Mugabe has his own faction fighting for his survival, in the top
echelons of the army, the police and the intelligence services. It must be
noted, however, that there are deep divisions within the middle and lower
ranks of the uniformed forces which mirror the three factions in the party.
Two things are instructive as Zimbabweans ponder the way forward. The first
of these is that the defeat of Mugabe's 2010 project was delivered by forces
for change within Zanu-PF and had little to do with pressure from the
opposition or the international community. Secondly, the weakness of the
opposition MDC, unfortunate as it is, removed an outside threat for Zanu-PF,
focusing the party on internal dynamics and causing deep divisions and the
realisation that Mugabe is the problem. This points to the fact that Zanu-PF's
internal dynamics might be key in finding a way out of Zimbabwe's crisis and
that the MDC might not be the place to look for relief. While this is an
unpopular view it is a pragmatic one, informed by the current weakness of
the MDC and the potential offered by reformers in the ruling party.
Equally important is the evidence that Zimbabwe's problems are far bigger
than Zanu-PF and the MDC put together. We need to disabuse ourselves of the
notion that talks between the MDC and Zanu-PF will solve Zimbabwe's
problems. A durable solution requires getting a broad section of Zimbabweans
talking to each other about their problems and structuring the future
together. This is clearly not a winner-takes-all strategy, but a process of
negotiating how Zimbabwe's future is going to be ordered. For this project
to have wider purchase, trade unions, the churches, business and all other
civil society players will have to be involved.
What Zimbabwe needs from the region and the international community is an
honest broker who commands respect from all players. Zimbabweans have become
so polarised that it would be difficult to find anybody internally to play
this role. First, there must be an acknowledgement that we need to talk to
each other, followed by agreement on the issues to talk about. We need to
tear up the Lancaster House constitution and start afresh, fashioning a
progressive rights-based founding law.
28th March 2007 at 14.00 hrs.
The Mugabe regime continues with its illegal and arbitrary detention and
beatings of MDC leaders right across the country. The activity has reached
new heights with at least 10 abductions last night and this morning the
detention of a number of people from the Headquarters of the MDC in Harare,
Harvest House. This group includes the President Morgan Tsvangirai who was
preparing for a Press Conference.
The pattern has been similar in most cases - known MDC leaders are picked up
at night or during the day and taken in unmarked vehicles to a distant
destination (anything up to 250 kilometres) and there they are beaten,
interrogated and then dumped in the bush. Many are then finding their way to
the Police for assistance or simply making their way to a hospital.
The beatings are savage and indiscriminate. No arrests are made and there is
no attempt to go through normal legal procedures. There are numerous
incidents of arson being committed and these are being blamed on the MDC. It
is not easy to understand why this activity is going on but the implications
are that it is a wholesale attack on the principal opposition force - the
MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai and his Trade Union allies. Some of the
activity appears directed at the forthcoming ZCTU national strike next
Tuesday and Wednesday.
The State appears to be trying to build a case for a declaration of
emergency, the imposition of Marshal law and government by decree. This is
Mugabe's only path if he wishes to remain in power. Under such a scenario
political parties would be banned, elections postponed and a resolution of
the present crisis deferred indefinitely.
MDC is urgently considering what to do next - many of its leadership are in
hospital or in detention of one sort or another. The National Executive is
due to meet this Saturday and this will be difficult if many are
unavailable. If the SADC and the international community are serious about
finding a solution they better move fast.
Comment from The Daily Telegraph (UK), 27 March
Harare - Zimbabwe's most outspoken cleric, Archbishop Pius Ncube, from
second city Bulawayo, was prevented by Catholic protocol yesterday from
preaching at a memorial service for a slain opposition activist. The
Archbishop did not attend the service. Archbishop Ncube, the most prominent
and outspoken of all Zimbabwe's church leaders declared at a press
conference in South Africa last week that he was "ready to die" if called
upon to do so to bring an end to the suffering of Zimbabwe's people. He was
invited - and had agreed - to preach at a memorial service for Gift Tandare,
who was shot dead by police during a demonstration ahead of a banned prayer
rally on March 11. Mr Tandare was a Catholic and his body was secretly
removed from Harare undertakers and buried in a rural area. Archbishop Ncube
consulted with Harare Archbishop Robert Ndlovu about preaching in the Harare
parish, and was advised that this service would be overtly political. "I
know his attitude is for quiet diplomacy, and he is firm on human rights,
but not for being vocal, whereas I am for speaking out. I could have ignored
him, but I was concerned that the Catholic community would not have
understood. So for courtesy's sake, and because he is the local shepherd in
Harare, I didn't go."
Organisers for the service had hoped to have it in central Harare at one of
the two large cathedrals so ordinary people in the city could attend without
having to pay out ever increasing transport costs. Permission to have it in
Harare's Catholic Cathedral was not forthcoming. Organisers knew the
Anglican Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga would turn them down as he is an
avowed supporter of Mr Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF and is a beneficiary of
a white-owned farm. So eventually the service was held at the Northside
Community Church, about 10 miles north of the city centre, in the richest
suburb, Borrowdale, close to Mr Mugabe's new palace. It was a moving
service. About 500 people packed the church and most of those who were
beaten and are still bruised by police on March 11 were there as well as
Movement for Democratic Change presidents, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara. Mr Tsvangirai still recovering from the terrible beating from
police, spoke about the dead man, referring to his name: "Gift has been
taken away. "We don't hate Mugabe, in fact I think he needs psychiatric
help." A group of four young singers set the tone in the church with a
haunting lament, "You will never leave me." Many in the congregation, from a
wide cross section of faiths, races and ages wept.
Speaking following reports that the
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has once again been arrested,
Shadow Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said:
"The reports of the arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai and twenty of his
associates are greatly concerning.
"Such arbitrary arrests are unacceptable. Zimbabweans deserve a better
life, a better government, and the right to live in peace under the rule of
"We urge all of Zimbabwe's neighbours, and the African Union to
present a united front and use their considerable influence with the Mugabe
government to promote a political settlement in Zimbabwe.
"This latest arrests highlights the need for the EU and international
community to increase the pressure on the Mugabe regime by strengthening and
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
As the international community steps up the pressure on President Robert
Mugabe's regime, American officials consider tougher sanctions.
By Fawzia Sheikh in Washington (AR No. 105, 28-Mar-07)
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's declaration that the West can "go hang"
for condemning state-sponsored violence against the opposition has done
nothing to endear him to the United States administration.
The US government, which along with the European Union imposed sanctions
against the Mugabe regime in 2002, is now considering further action.
The current political crisis began when Zimbabwe attacked pro-democracy
demonstrators to stop them attending a prayer meeting on March 11 in the
capital Harare. The ensuing violence led to the death of one opposition
member and the arrest of dozens more, including Movement for Democratic
Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other leading figures who ended up in
hospital after being beaten in police custody.
The 83-year-old Mugabe, who recently threatened to expel western diplomats,
has suggested that he might stay on as president until 2010, two years after
his term officially ends. This has not only enraged his political foes but
alarmed the international community including the US government, which has
imposed a range of penalties on the country over the years because of Mugabe's
heavy-handed treatment of opposition parties.
"It's always a hard issue when you try to balance the possible effect of
diplomatic tools that you might have at your disposal - for instance,
sanctions - and the effect they'll have on the regime versus the effect that
they may have on the population, which is already suffering," US State
Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters at a recent press
"So we'll take a close look at what we might do to try to bring about a
change in behaviour of this regime. we are working very closely with the EU
as well as others on this. I can't tell you that we've come to any final
conclusions in that regard."
McCormack noted that several options were open to the US.
At an earlier press conference, another State Department spokesman, Tom
Casey, said his government intended calling on the United Nations' Human
Rights Council to address Mugabe's escalating crackdown on the opposition.
Washington has expressed concerns about what is sees as the failure of the
Human Rights Council to do a credible job over the past year, exacerbated by
its almost exclusive focus on issues linked to the conflict in the Middle
East, said Casey, adding, "And, frankly, with the council in session right
now in Geneva, it would be hard to understand how they wouldn't want to turn
their attention to a serious case of human rights abuses and violations, as
is occurring in Zimbabwe."
Casey said the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour,
Barry Lowenkron, intends to consult with the African Union on ways to push
the Zimbabwean government to allow all its citizens and
opposition parties to participate peacefully in political demonstrations.
He noted that Chris Dell, the American ambassador to Zimbabwe, was refused
an opportunity to visit Tsvangirai in detention, but he declined to comment
on whether the US will recall its envoy, who he said was performing "a very
valuable function" by supporting the rights of the political opposition and
those who have been imprisoned and beaten.
Casey also said he was unsure whether the US could offer other kinds of
humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe, whose economy is collapsing. The
International Monetary Fund has warned that the country's annual inflation
rate of 1,700 per cent, the highest in the world, could hit 5,000 per cent
by year end. Unemployment stands at around 80 per cent.
In 2002, the US froze the assets of Mugabe and 76 other officials deemed
most responsible for the country's crisis. It also imposed travel
restrictions on them, and banned defence-related transactions with Zimbabwe
as well as government-to-government assistance outside the humanitarian
Observers of Zimbabwean politics argue that years of American and EU
sanctions are beginning to take their toll on senior politicians in the
"This is purely anecdotal, but from what I hear, a number of senior figures
in Mugabe's party are unhappy with Zimbabwe's continued international
isolation," Tiseke Kasambala, a London-based researcher with the Africa
division of Human Rights Watch, told IWPR. "Many senior members of the party
have business interests abroad, and the targeted sanctions have dented these
interests. The economic crisis has also damaged their business interests in
Kasambala continued, "Of course there are a number of other key reasons for
the tensions within ZANU-PF - one of them being the issue of Mugabe's
succession and the jostling for political power in the party. However, the
targeted sanctions have also played a role in widening the internal rift."
In a report published this month, the International Crisis Group, ICG,
argued that the West should maintain the pressure on the Mugabe regime at
this crucial time, increase support for democratic forces and be more
precise about its conditions for lifting sanctions and ending Zimbabwe's
The report, entitled "Zimbabwe: An End to the Stalemate", recommended that
the Southern African Development Community, SADC, the EU and the US should
adopt a joint strategy with a clear sequence of benchmarks, leading to a
genuinely democratic process in which the removal of sanctions and
resumption of international aid to government institutions would be used as
incentives at the appropriate time.
ICG added that this strategy should be in place by July, when Zimbabwe's
parliament is expected to have to choose between Mugabe's plan to extend his
tenure to 2010 by amending the constitution, or an end to his rule and a
transition of power.
The ICG report also suggested closing loopholes in the current US and EU
sanctions for the eventuality that Mugabe and his party fail to restore
democracy. These would include applying sanctions to family members and
business associates of those on the list of names, cancelling the visas and
residence permits of the officials concerned and their family members, and
applying the same sanctions to others.
But some observers such as Fred Oladeinde, president of the Foundation for
Democracy in Africa, a Washington-based think tank, argues that sanctions
have resulted in increased pain and suffering for the average Zimbabwean
while the ZANU-PF elite continues to maintain a high standard of living.
Moreover, he believes other African states are not doing their bit to
prevent the listed "offenders" from travelling freely throughout the
Zimbabwe's neighbours have come under criticism by the West for their
failure to intervene. The US ambassador to South Africa, Eric Bost, has
expressed disappointment at SADC's passive response to the plight of
ordinary people, while Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer has
slammed Zimbabwe's neighbours for failing to apply more pressure on Mugabe.
As this crisis unfolds, other sources of friction have emerged between the
US and Zimbabwe. The American government withheld funding to Zimbabwe for
the fiscal year 2007 because of the country's worsening track record on
human trafficking. Zimbabwe is one of 12 countries being penalised by the US
for failing to combat trafficking.
"Zimbabwe is a source, transit and destination country for women and
children trafficked for forced labour and sexual exploitation," according to
a State Department report issued in September. "Large, well-organised rings
may be involved."
Trafficked women and girls are lured out of the country to South Africa,
China, Egypt and Zambia with false promises of jobs or scholarships, the
report said. It noted that Zimbabwe demonstrated progress in investigating
trafficking cases, but that the government did not pursue prosecutions in
cases that were identified.
The Zimbabwean authorities have rejected the US charges of complicity in
Fawzia Sheikh, a former foreign correspondent in Uganda, writes on African
issues in the United States for the IWPR Africa Report.
Radio Free Europe
By Jeremy Bransten
March 28, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A UN Human Rights Council decision on March 26 to
end scrutiny of Iran and Uzbekistan has been widely criticized by rights
organizations and some governments, including the United States.
The council was established last year to replace the widely discredited UN
Human Rights Commission, but the latest decision has raised unpleasant
The Human Rights Commission was so discredited, in fact, that even UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan -- while still in office -- assailed its
"declining credibility and professionalism."
The commission's main problem was that its members included some of the
world's most notorious rights violators. Those states would often band
together to block investigations into their own records -- or those of their
Among the countries that abstained from voting against Tehran and Tashkent,
according to Hicks, were Japan, South Korea, Brazil, and Switzerland.
More Of The Same?
The new UN Human Rights Council was supposed to be different.
Aaron Rhodes, executive director of the International Helsinki Federation
For Human Rights, says the March 26 decision was "disastrous" and makes it
clear that so far, the council has failed in its stated mission.
"What ought to be said is that this is a signal to countries that they have
nothing to worry about from the Human Rights Council if they abuse their own
citizens," Rhodes says.
The vote on Iran and Uzbekistan was conducted behind closed doors, so a
complete details of what happened -- based on diplomatic sources -- has
trickled out slowly.
But the picture that emerges is troubling. For one, says Rhodes, it appears
the old way of doing business that so undermined the UN Human Rights
Commission continues at the new council.
"The Human Rights Council is dominated by bloc voting," Rhodes says. "And
what you find in this decision is the result of different regional blocs,
the members of which are not considering the cases on their face value but
are going along with political motives, which are thought to be consistent
with the priorities and the needs of countries in those regions. It's a
terrible failure of the Human Rights Council."
Diplomats have confirmed that the March 26 vote came at the recommendation
of a five-member panel. Three of the five panel members -- Zimbabwe,
Bangladesh, and Azerbaijan -- urged no scrutiny for Iran and Uzbekistan.
Azerbaijan's envoy in Geneva Elchin Amirbayov (official site)In an interview
with RFE/RL, Azerbaijan's representative to the UN in Geneva, Elchin
Amirbayov, downplayed his country's role, saying most council members agreed
with Baku's recommendation.
Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, confirms that
claim and says it makes things all the more disturbing.
"The council as a whole had an opportunity to review that recommendation and
it met and made a decision about what to do about that recommendation,"
Hicks says. "And by a vote of more than 20 countries, as the Azerbaijani
diplomat said, the council agreed to discontinue consideration. And of
course that is itself a major question, because that group of more than 20
states includes a number of countries that you would have expected to do
Among the countries that abstained from voting against Tehran and Tashkent,
according to Hicks, were Japan, South Korea, Brazil, and Switzerland.
Zimbabwe Isn't Even A Council Member
Questions have been raised about why a country like Zimbabwe, with its
abysmal rights record, played a leading role in the decision.
But when some of the world's established democracies also refuse to take
action, rights activists say little hope is left.
Zimbabwe's case provides a graphic illustration of how the need for
consensus at the UN can sometimes result in some bizarre decisions.
Zimbabwe is not even a member of the Human Rights Council. But, since it had
a leadership role in the defunct Human Rights Commission, it was agreed that
Zimbabwe should be allowed, temporarily, to continue its activities at the
Azerbaijan's Amirbayov says these are all teething problems that eventually
will be overcome. And he argues that human rights, in any case, can be a
"Human rights as a concept itself is unfortunately a very much politicized
matter," Amirbayov says. "And of course, one if the ideas when the council
was created, was to make sure that all members are elected by two-thirds of
the UN General Assembly membership. And that means more than 100 countries.
If you consider that someone elected by more than 100 countries is a bad
country or a good country, it's a very subjective view. And I think that
what we have to do right now is to avoid dividing lines."
Calls For U.S. Involvement
Human rights organizations say avoiding dividing lines is the best way to
ensure nothing gets done at the council, dooming it to the same fate as its
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressing the council's opening session in
June 2006 (epa)The United States, which chose not to seek membership in the
Human Rights Council, citing doubts over its effectiveness, now appears
But most global rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, would
like Washington to stop sitting on the sidelines.
Hicks argues that the council's institutions are still being built. And at
least on paper, the new UN body does have effective means to bring rights
violators to account. Unlike at the old commission, cases can be taken up
year-round and they can even be referred to the Security Council.
The attention and outrage the vote on Iran and Uzbekistan has garnered, she
says, is a sign that the council's actions are being watched and that offers
some hope for the future.
"We've called upon the United States to appoint a special envoy that would
signal their commitment to building this institution into the human rights
protecting institution that it needs to be," Hicks says. "I think it's
really important to say that despite these big setbacks, there is an
institution building process and the mandate that set up the council does
provide the space for this to be a body that really does move forward and
protect human rights better than the commission. And we're hoping, still,
that through the institution building work that's being done, that this
promise will ultimately be fulfilled."
(RFE/RL's Azerbaijani and Uzbek services contributed to this report)
28 March 2007
MDC Condemns Arbitrary Arrest Of Members Of The Opposition
MDC wishes to express dismay over the manner in which the Zimbabwe Republic
Police are arbitrarily arresting and harassing members of the opposition.
The MDC Provincial Women's Assembly Chairperson for Chitungwiza, Mrs Mejury
Zenda, an elderly and ailing woman in her 60s was arrested and detained
yesterday at Harare Central police station. Her lawyers, Edmore Jori and
Joshua Shekede of Wintertons Legal Practitioner were denied access to her.
She has been denied food. This morning the lawyers tried again to get access
to see her but were once again denied and were in-fact threatened with
arrest. No charges have been preferred against her and there is no
indication as to why she was picked from her house in the early hours of
yesterday. We can only conclude that being a Senior Official of the MDC is
the only reason for her arbitrary arrest and detention.
Heavily armed Zimbabwe Republic Police Support Unit details sealed off all
roads towards Harvest House, for the whole day today and ransacked Harvest
House and arrested all the occupants including Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader
of the other MDC formation and 20 others. We are reliably informed that no
search warrants were produced and no reasons for the arrest and raid were
given. It has become a deplorable habit for the Police to arrest in order to
investigate which runs contrary to the principles of natural justice and the
rule of law.
These actions save to confirm that the regime has very little regard of the
rule of law and has become despotic in their actions. Such behavior simply
further alienates this country from the family of friends in the regional
block and would further isolate the Zimbabwean government. We condemn these
actions in the strongest words possible.
Secretary for Information and Publicity
Pastoral Letter by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference
on the Current Crisis of Our Country
Holy Thursday, 5 April 2007
As your Shepherds we have reflected on our national situation and, in the
light of the Word of God and Christian Social Teaching, have discerned what
we now share with you, in the hope of offering guidance, light and hope in
these difficult times.
The people of Zimbabwe are suffering. More and more people are getting
angry, even from among those who had seemed to be doing reasonably well
under the circumstances. The reasons for the anger are many, among them, bad
governance and corruption. A tiny minority of the people have become very
rich overnight, while the majority are languishing in poverty, creating a
huge gap between the rich and the poor. Our Country is in deep crisis. A
crisis is an unstable situation of extreme danger and difficulty. Yet, it
can also be turned into a moment of grace and of a new beginning, if those
responsible for causing the crisis repent, heed the cry of the people and
foster a change of heart and mind especially during the imminent Easter
Season, so our Nation can rise to new life with the Risen Lord.
In Zimbabwe today, there are Christians on all sides of the conflict; and
there are many Christians sitting on the fence. Active members of our Parish
and Pastoral Councils are prominent officials at all levels of the ruling
party. Equally distinguished and committed office-bearers of the opposition
parties actively support church activities in every parish and diocese. They
all profess their loyalty to the same Church. They are all baptised, sit and
pray and sing together in the same church, take part in the same celebration
of the Eucharist and partake of the same Body and Blood of Christ. While the
next day, outside the church, a few steps away, Christian State Agents,
policemen and soldiers assault and beat peaceful, unarmed demonstrators and
torture detainees. This is the unacceptable reality on the ground, which
shows much disrespect for human life and falls far below the dignity of both
the perpetrator and the victim.
In our prayer and reflection during this Lent, we have tried to understand
the reasons why this is so. We have concluded that the crisis of our Country
is, in essence, a crisis of governance and a crisis of leadership apart from
being a spiritual and moral crisis.
A Crisis of Governance
The national health system has all but disintegrated as a result of
prolonged industrial action by medical professionals, lack of drugs,
essential equipment in disrepair and several other factors.
26 March 2007
Evil days are upon us with a vengeance.
Today we find ourselves a nation at risk. Our experiment with
Independence is in great danger of failing.
Today all of us are refugees of a future that never happened. So we
ask ourselves: Where did we go wrong?
The war, the heroic struggle, it was terrible. For death was not an
adventure to those who stood face to face with it.
What about the dreams and visions of all those men and women who lost
their lives in defence of freedom? Have we not failed them?
It's high time for every one of us, man and woman, to do some real
soul-searching and to weigh our consciences as to the manner in which
we have performed our duty to Zimbabwe. Have we guaranteed a better
and dignified future for our children?
To be poor and independent is an impossible dream. Let us not fool
ourselves that we shall remain independent and free now that we have
run down our country. NO.
Once again, to survive we shall have to mortgage our souls to more
prosperous nations. Let us hope it will be only for a short while.
The Leadership have failed. Twenty-seven years of economic malaise
have shown us that they were more talented as freedom-fighters. To be
sure, let us not be quick to place all the blame on their shoulders.
Who else was available to lead the young nation of Zimbabwe? However,
today demands a new direction for our country. For the sake of our
posterity, it is time that they should quit.
Men reach and fall. Robert Mugabe is going. Soon…very soon. It is as
inevitable as sunsets. Foreign powers are gathering their forces for
one final onslaught. Domestic failure has rendered Robert Mugabe
impotent. No great army of Zimbabweans shall come to his aid.
Whatever happens after Robert Mugabe leaves office, Zimbabwe must not
become another Iraq or Somalia. Neither a Zambia nor a Kenya even.
These past twenty-seven years have taught us many lessons. These are
the ten commandments that each one of us must take to heart:
Small countries like ours cannot afford to behave irresponsibly for
very long; their currencies lose value and their governments cannot
borrow from the international community.
We have found out that responsible government is in great jeopardy as
soon as too much power gravitates to one man.
We have found out that if the government becomes the lawbreaker, it
invites everyone to become a law unto oneself. It invites anarchy.
We have found out that keeping our citizens poor and redundant makes
them vulnerable to subversive foreign influence.
We have found out that big government means increased power of the
authorities to enforce their prejudices and increased power to control
We have learnt that the responsibility of ever citizen is to ensure
that the voice of liberty and truth is always and consistently heard
in our legislature, courts, work-places and homes.
We have learnt that government's chief responsibility is protection of
the citizenry and the production of laws and regulations which give
freedom for people to go about their daily business and create wealth.
We have learnt that human capital will go where it is wanted, stays
where it is well-treated, and multiplies where it is allowed to earn
We have learnt that if we fail to make productive use of the creative
energies of our young people, other countries will make use of them.
Finally, we have learnt that evolution demands that we survive through
adaptation. We need to recognize, in changing times, that today is
different from yesterday, and tomorrow from today. It may well be that
the rules which are perfectly applicable today may become the
fallacies of tomorrow. As time moves on we may need to discard some of
our most cherished principles.
Change for change's sake is not an option and true patriotism is of no
political party. Of that generation of men and women, those still
leaving and those long dead, to whom subsequent generations of
Zimbabweans owe so much, posterity will forever be grateful. Do not be
afraid for us. It is okay to soften the suffocating grip you have on
this country. Because we believe in the principles of sovereignty and
independence that you fought for, we can confidently declare that it
will always be our desire and duty to defend them whenever they are
threatened. We love our country as much as you do and we will do our
very best to preserve the memory of that period for our children and
their children's children.
However, every one of you still desperately clinging on to power is
not doing it out of great love for Zimbabwe. When it is time to go it
really is time to go. Emulate Nelson Mandela. You are of the golden
generation. Noone should tell you that maybe it is time that you
should quit. Have some pride and self-respect. The writing is on the
To the young men and women of Zimbabwe, your generation is not the
most challenged generation of Zimbabweans. Our forefathers had it
worse. However, there is still so much work that needs doing. We are
at loggerheads on profoundly important political, social and economic
questions. Sadly, too many of you are not rising to meet the
challenges our country is facing.
Today we are at a turning point. To all of you who feel helpless, who
despair, who are cynical and who do not feel like they can make a
difference, we want to remind you that there are only two kinds of
people who tell you that you cannot change the world. Those who are
afraid to try and those who are afraid that you may succeed.
You are young people in a young country with the best days ahead.
Zimbabwe needs heroes for out time. The time has come to renew our
faith and our hopes for the future. We can start dreaming heroic
dreams again. It is possible. If only all of us play our part. Let us
crush the tyrants wrong. Stand up tall. Speak your mind and tell
them…tell him, "Zimbabwe can do better!" It is not a challenge to
patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.
A dynamic people, by rolling their sleeves up and getting government
off their back, can achieve economic renewal. We can slay the beast of
hyperinflation and break record books when it comes to sustained
economic growth. We can create a million new jobs and show a watching
world that all is not lost in Zimbabwe…in Africa. We are the crown
jewel of Africa, it is our duty.
Please circulate this message to every Zimbabwean you know. A lot of
things are happening behind-the-scenes that will change our country
forever. Things that will influence our chance of getting good jobs, a
long life, a dignified future for your children – a secure Zimbabwe.
In the coming months, keep watchful eyes on President Robert Mugabe,
Morgan Tsvangirai, all our politicians and including foreign powers.
This is no longer the time to be spectator Zimbabweans. Too much is at