A Moment to End the Repression -- Unless the World Retreats Into Silence
By Desmond Tutu and Madeleine Albright
Thursday, March 29, 2007; Page A19
Zimbabwe, long plagued by the repressive leadership of President Robert
Mugabe, has reached the point of crisis. Leaders of the democratic
opposition were arrested and beaten, and one was killed, while attempting to
hold a peaceful prayer meeting on March 11. Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the
Movement for Democratic Change, emerged from detention with a swollen eye
and a fractured skull. Several days later, Nelson Chamisa, the movement's
spokesman, was stopped en route to a meeting with European officials and
beaten with iron bars. Other activists have been prevented from leaving the
country to seek medical treatment for wounds inflicted by police.
Unrest has continued, as have the violent crackdowns. Mugabe, stubborn and
unrepentant as ever, has vowed to "bash" protesters and dismissed
international criticism as an imperialist plot. Although anti-government
feelings are prompted by the regime's lack of respect for human and
political rights, Mugabe's poor management of the economy is also to blame.
The inflation rate, more than 1,700 percent, is the world's highest, while
an estimated four out of five people are unemployed. Zimbabwe, once Africa's
breadbasket, has become, under Mugabe, a basket case.
The crisis in Zimbabwe raises familiar questions about the responsibilities
of the international community. Some argue that the world has no business
interfering with, or even commenting on, the internal affairs of a sovereign
state. This principle is exceptionally convenient for dictators and for
people who do not wish to be bothered about the well-being of others. It is
a principle that paved the way for the rise of Hitler and Stalin and for the
murders ordered by Idi Amin. It is a principle that, if consistently
observed, would have shielded the apartheid government in South Africa from
external criticism and from the economic sanctions and political pressure
that forced it to change. It is a principle that would have prevented racist
Rhodesia from becoming Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe from ever coming to power.
We are not suggesting that the world should intervene to impose political
change in Zimbabwe. We are suggesting that global and regional organizations
and individual governments should make known their support for human rights
and democratic practices in that country, as elsewhere. We should condemn in
the strongest terms the use of violence to prevent the free and peaceful
expression of political thought. We should make clear our support for the
standards enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Given Mugabe's consistent
unwillingness to respect the legitimate complaints of his people, this is
not the time for silent diplomacy. This is the time to speak out. It is
especially important that members of the African Union and Southern African
Development Community (SADC) raise their voices, for they have the most
influence and can hardly be accused of interventionism. As the examples of
Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela remind us, it is never
inappropriate to speak on behalf of justice.
As in South Africa, the solution to the economic, political and social
quagmire in Zimbabwe is open dialogue -- perhaps facilitated by the SADC --
that includes all relevant parties and leads to an understanding based on
support for democracy and respect for the legitimate rights of all. To this
end, the government of Zimbabwe should cease its abusive practices, repeal
draconian laws and bring the electoral code into line with regional and
Presidential and parliamentary elections that are transparent and considered
to be legitimate by the people of Zimbabwe and by local and international
observers should be held. Should Mugabe decide to run for president again,
as he has said he might, the world will have to make an effort to ensure
that balloting is fair. However, Mugabe's own party, which includes
responsible and moderate elements, might well consider whether the time has
come for a new leader.
With crisis comes opportunity. This is the moment for political and civic
leaders in Zimbabwe to unify around a common goal: a peaceful and democratic
transition. Members of the opposition would be well advised to overcome
their differences and to speak with a single, strong voice. In this way,
reformers can demonstrate to the people of Zimbabwe and to the world that
there is a viable and patriotic alternative to the repressive and misguided
leadership under which the country has suffered for so long.
Desmond Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, was archbishop of Cape
Town from 1986 to 1996 and headed South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation
Commission. Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state under
President Bill Clinton, is principal of the Albright Group LLC and chairman
of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
29 March 2007
DAR ES SALAAM - African leaders meeting in Tanzania yesterday to discuss
Zimbabwe's political crisis were not expected to bow to pressure to censure
President Robert Mugabe's police crackdown.
The 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit, hosted
by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, comes amid a growing global outcry
over turmoil in Zimbabwe, which threatens to spill over to its neighbours.
It also takes place after clashes last week in the Democratic Republic of
Congo, between the military and militia loyal to former vice-president and
rebel chief Jean-Pierre Bemba, that claimed between 200 and 500 lives.
Mugabe arrived in Tanzania late yesterday to brief the SADC, gathered for
the first time since his government suppressed a rally on March 11, when
police beat scores and held some of his opponents. Mugabe was at a Zanu (PF)
politburo meeting earlier in the day.
The special two-day Tanzanian summit will be a test for the 14-member SADC
grouping, accused in some quarters of not flexing its political muscle
against Mugabe's government.
Political analysts said regional leaders were unlikely to condemn Mugabe
publicly, but the Tanzanian summit was important in focusing world attention
on Zimbabwe's mounting crisis.
"Whatever spin the government will try to put on this, this is an emergency
summit on Zimbabwe and it basically means that Zimbabwe has become an issue
in Africa too," said Eldred Masunungure, a political science professor at
Harare's University of Zimbabwe.
"But I don't think there is going to be the kind of public condemnation that
some western countries are calling for, and I am sure Mugabe will be happy
with that," he said.
Britain, pressing for action at the United Nations, which SA has blocked,
urged African countries to confront Mugabe after images of bruised activists
provoked threats of more western-led economic sanctions.
If carried out, some fear sanctions would inflict more pain on ordinary
Zimbabweans already grappling with an economy shrinking faster than any
other outside a war zone. International leaders are looking for strong
measures from the SADC to rein in Zimbabwe's delinquent government.
Political analysts say the country's deepening recession threatens to
destabilise the region as millions flee the world's highest inflation rate
of 1700%, a jobless rate above 80% and food shortages.
Southern African countries have largely adopted a quiet approach to the
Zimbabwe crisis. The SADC and SA say it is the only way to address the
crisis, and that the west's megaphone diplomacy will further antagonise
Mugabe. Regional heavyweight SA, straining to accommodate millions of
Zimbabwe's economic refugees, has said "constructive diplomacy" is the only
way to keep dialogue open with Mugabe.
President Thabo Mbeki was due in Tanzania to join the talks.
Zambia broke ranks last week. President Levy Mwanawasa compared his
neighbour with a "sinking Titanic" and said the SADC might be ready to act.
Mugabe has remained defiant amid the turmoil, repeating charges that the MDC
are western stooges bent on toppling him.
Recent fighting in Congo was also on the agenda.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila, who had not been expected to attend the
summit, left for the meeting accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Antipas
As leaders converged on the Tanzanian capital, it was reported from Zimbabwe
that police had sealed off the Harare headquarters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangiria was arrested
with several of his colleagues and taken into custody. Police denied he was
He and fellow MDC supporters were arrested at a prayer meeting more than two
weeks ago, detained overnight and beaten by police. Mugabe endorsed the
beatings, and told international critics to "go hang". Mugabe also said it
would happen again.
New York Times
By MICHAEL WINES
Published: March 29, 2007
JOHANNESBURG, March 28 - Hundreds of Zimbabwean political and civic
advocates have been abducted and severely beaten in recent days by
unidentified assailants, government critics said Wednesday, in dead-of-night
assaults that appear to be part of a new government campaign to smother
The attacks came to light on Wednesday after hundreds of police officers
raided the Harare headquarters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, and detained its best-known leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, and about 20 members. Party officials said the police ransacked
the offices, destroying furniture and taking stacks of documents. Lawyers
for some advocates said they had been warned not to go to the central police
station in Harare, the capital, in search of their clients because of the
threat of violence against the lawyers. The government has repeatedly denied
any systematic repression of opposition members, saying it has acted solely
to root out crimes.
A police spokesman said Wednesday that the officers were searching the
opposition party's offices for firebombs. Zimbabwe's news media have been
filled in recent days with reports of firebomb attacks on police stations,
trains and stores, all of which the government has attributed to the
Movement for Democratic Change.
The opposition party has called the firebombing reports lies, planted in the
state-controlled news media to discredit critics.
Zimbabwe's government was broadly criticized after the police arrested and
beat Mr. Tsvangirai and scores of other political and civic advocates two
weeks ago, after they sought to hold what they described as a prayer meeting
"The government of Zimbabwe has intensified its brutal suppression of its
own citizens in an effort to crush all forms of dissent," Georgette Gagnon,
deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said Wednesday, referring to
the events of recent weeks. Since those arrests, tensions have been high
throughout Zimbabwe, especially in the poor urban neighborhoods that are
centers of government opposition.
Some political specialists in Harare said that the abductions and beatings
in recent days might signal a new and crucial phase in Zimbabwe's economic
and political crises, now more than six years old.
The national economy is all but dysfunctional, with inflation exceeding
1,700 percent a year and rapidly increasing. Eight in 10 people are jobless,
and a huge share of the 10 million or so citizens survive on remittances
from the 3 million Zimbabweans who have left the country.
President Robert G. Mugabe, the 83-year-old autocrat who has led the nation
since it ended white rule 27 years ago, is battling a reinvigorated
opposition and a growing movement in his own party to oust him. He sought in
December to extend his legal rule by two years, to 2010, but received an
unprecedented rebuff from members of his party. He has since said he would
seek a full six-year term in the next election, in 2008.
But broad elements of his party, the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front, are working to thwart his ambitions. Local and
international news agencies have reported widely that some in Mr. Mugabe's
party are negotiating with Mr. Tsvangirai's opposition movement on a
Given those power struggles, one Harare political analyst said Wednesday, it
is unclear whether the beatings of potential political opponents are a
governmentwide strategy or a narrower effort by Mr. Mugabe's backers to
shore up his remaining power.
"The state is behaving repressively on a very, very wide scale, but is the
state doing it, or a state within a state?" the analyst said on condition of
anonymity for fear of reprisal. "I think there's good reason to believe
there's a third force operating here."
No one knows how many have been abducted, but advocates in Zimbabwe said the
victims have included political organizers, students, members of civic
groups and leaders of the Combined Harare Residents Association, which has
organized Harare's poor neighborhoods to press for better city services.
Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman for Mr. Tsvangirai's faction of the Movement
for Democratic Change, said that nearly 200 party workers and advocates had
been seized in the last three days, usually in raids on their homes after
In almost all documented cases, he said, the victims were taken in unmarked
vehicles to remote locations where they were beaten, then abandoned. An
unknown number of party members have not turned up after being kidnapped, he
Among the abducted, he said, are two members of the party's national
executive committee, one of whom was kidnapped with his wife, and a member
of Zimbabwe's Parliament from Glenview, a poor Harare neighborhood that is a
locus of government opposition.
Mr. Chamisa was attacked last week at a check-in counter at Harare's airport
as he prepared to board a flight to Europe for a political meeting. Four men
with iron bars fractured his skull and crushed an eye socket.
"It's state terrorism," he said.
Lovemore Madhuku, who leads Zimbabwe's largest civic group, the National
Constitutional Assembly, said that at least 16 of his members had been
abducted in the last week. Most have since been hospitalized, he said.
"The strategy is that any person who seems to be active and who is perceived
to be a mobilizer or local organizer is targeted for abduction," he said.
Violence against government critics has been common in the past,
particularly before elections, but the latest abductions and beatings appear
to be far more systematic and widespread.
Arrests, beatings and abductions of civic and political figures have mounted
since the violent breakup of the so-called prayer meeting on March 11. They
appear to have quickened after an important group of Mr. Mugabe's
supporters, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, held
a major meeting last weekend in Harare to plot a strategy against Mr. Mugabe's
critics, according to advocates and a local journalist.
The veterans were members of a guerrilla army led in part by Mr. Mugabe that
won Zimbabwe's liberation from white rule in the 1970s. When they became
restive in the late 1990s, Mr. Mugabe sealed their loyalty by granting them
huge cash bonuses.
The war veterans were the muscle behind Mr. Mugabe's decision in 2000 to
seize the nation's 5,000 white-owned commercial farms and redistribute them
to political allies and landless peasants.
A Zimbabwean journalist contributed reporting from Harare.
More people die in Zimbabwe every day than in Darfur or Iraq, but we are
dying silently and the world doesn't seem to know how bad it really is.
Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDs statistics are among the highest in the world and this
terrible pandemic, combined with a lack of drugs in our country, corruption
by government ministers, food shortages and 1,800% inflation, makes it a
swift killer in our society.
Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 34 years for women and 37 years for men.
I would really like you to think about that for a moment. How old are you?
How much longer would that leave you to live or have you already exceeded
our life expectancy?
Attending funerals is a regular occurrence in Zimbabwe.
I know many people who have died over the last few years.
Last year two of my work colleagues died within the space of a couple of
months of each other. I go to funerals, I experience the awfulness of
funerals, and then I come home.
But even though this is 'normal', I am sometimes woken up and stunned by
something, and I am left horrified and shocked and very sensitive to how
extreme life is in Zimbabwe.
For example, a couple of days ago I attended a child's funeral. This is hard
enough as it is, but through my tears I noticed how many freshly dug graves
there were in the children's section of the cemetery, clear evidence that
lots of children are dying.
Even worse, this is a new cemetery and it's already almost full.
I saw two women digging a child-sized grave on their own, and I was told
that this was because they could not afford to pay a gravedigger to do it
I was told they were alone because their men were probably out of the
country working in South Africa.
The painful reality of what I saw in that place was emphasised by our
Zimbabwean tradition of leaving some of the possessions belonging to the
person who has died on the grave.
For children this means I was looking at a scene of small graves with
bottles, toys, baby baths and other plastic pieces of childhood treasures
piled on them. It is wrong, very very wrong, to see these sort of things.
I felt overcome with grief and anger at what I saw. It is like being trapped
inside a horror film - a truly terrible thing to see.
I want to bring a chair to this section of the graveyard, and make Robert
Mugabe sit in it for a day.
I want him to sit there for hours looking at the graves and the toys. I want
the message of what this means to wash over him, for him to know he's
destroying our country's future.
He is stripping the joy from parents' lives, and he is creating a legacy
where he will be remembered for many years as the man who inflicted misery
and pain and suffering on a nation.
Most of all, I want him to step out from the security of his Mercedes Benz
and his soldier patrolled mansions, and I want him to stand here in the
blazing sun in that dusty graveyard surrounded by bright plastic toys that
testify to the lives of children and babies.
I want him to talk to the parents, to be forced to explain to them - face to
face - why he is doing nothing to help them save their children's lives.
Sometimes I can go through a day and just live my life like everyone has
to - that's surviving - one step at a time. Then there are days like that
one, where I am consumed with rage and grief and pure frustration. I am
still furious and torn-up two days later, and it makes me very ready to
march for change and to defy this regime.
Hope, a Sokwanele activist
watch out bob the end is near who ever thought of Banda Kamuzu king of
african juju will leave the presidence seat.One word to bob YOUR FATHER IS
FOR LIFE NOT YOUR MASTER, KING OR PRESIDENT
Posted by: magodzongere 28 Mar 2007 03:12:15
If Mugabe's daughter is studying in the U.K Surely some of the group of
people that organise the Zimvigil over there can start activating direct
demonstrations at her feet and hassle her on a day to day basis until she
also has to leave the u.k-how can we permit Mugabe the smallest of victories
i.e. being educated in the country he despises-throw her out now....!!!
Posted by: mark,brisbane ,australia 28 Mar 2007 07:05:26
I think we are all living on a knife edge at the moment. It is very
difficult to survive from one week to the next, not knowing whether you'll
have enough money to see you through the month. Each day, prices have
escalated. What you bought last week to top-up your grocery cupboard, you
can't afford this week so you go without. Even the poor quality bread that
is available is hardly fit for human consumption, but we buy it anyway - it
fills your belly.
Happy faces, children laughing, seem to be a thing of the past now. When
will all this dispair, frustration and hardship end?
It is impossible to plan your evening as power cuts interrupt whatever
you've planned. Candles are very expensive and paraffin is more expensive
than petrol, when you can find it, or, if you can afford it. Yes, things are
hard here, a challenge awaits us each and every day. Some people are
fortunate that relatives in South Africa send food parcels or foreign
currency, which can be exchanged on the black market to enable them to
subsidise their meagre incomes - the others, which I think applies to the
majority of us, just have to try to survive on what little we have.
All we want is peace, a few dollars in our pocket, a full belly, and be able
to live normal lives. I wonder how many of us living here, under these tense
conditions, really know what 'normal' really is??
Posted by: priyazim, bulawayo 28 Mar 2007 07:44:54
i send a letter to the Queen and SKy news. telling them alot of what is
happening in my country - zimbabwe- but i asked them why they don't help. i
got no reply proving that noone wants to know. if iraq can have help why
cant we? how can people just turn a blind eye to this? it is diffecult to
help us but there is no harm in trying.
Posted by: kylie uk 28 Mar 2007 10:47:29
WITH NEW VENOM
Brainwashed bands of Youth Brigade clones
Have been given Bob's carte blanche
To break wills or heads and backbones
In a bid to protest staunch
Staunch supporters of MDC
Or allied institutions
Are being picked up quietly
For savage retributions
Enabled by feared CIO
And cadres of Armed Forces
Bob seeks to bring the final blow
With iron bars or scourges
Hit squads in unmarked vehicles
With license though unlicensed
May risk brief public spectacles
Where captives are not sentenced
High Courts attempting to hamstring
Their blatant violations
Held in contempt are issuing
Intimidation is widespread
Revenge is running rampant
But opposition is not dead
Against Zim's slimy serpent
Whose fangs may never be Yanked out
Or broken by the British
But Zim may yet put him to rout
And Politburo banish
Though wheels of justice slowly turn
They may grind him to powder
And blow him to his final burn
Subtracting one more adder
20th Mar 2007
Posted by: Duane W. Udd .... United States after 22 years in Zimbabwe 28 Mar
"Man's inhumanity to Man"
I heard my dad say this over 40 years ago and thought he was refering to
World War 2...
When are those in Power & Control going to wake up and deal with Mugabe, his
henchmen and other profiteers from this horrific exploitation of people
Posted by: Amanda Cumbria 28 Mar 2007 12:26:04
How many people must Mugabe have murdered? How many people must Mugabe have
How many people have to die due to startvation before the people who are
responsible for putting him in power and keeping him in power remove him or
have him bumped off of the face of the planet? It is up to Zimbabweans
themselves, theyvoted for him not once but many times, they gave him the
strength, the position of power that he now refuses to let go of and no-one
Now Mr Tsvangarai is once again in a cell, probably being tortured again, on
the direct orders of Mugabe no doubt and if he, Morgan Tsvangarai, dies who
is going to be willing to stand up and fill his shoes? Someone needs to take
a gun or a grenade or a missile and get rid of Mugabe NOW!
Posted by: Robin - Windhoek, Namibia 28 Mar 2007 12:39:36
The British press are constantly writing about how bad Zimbabwe is, yet in
the newspaper one reads about British 'TOURISTS' being killed by an elephant
whilst at a game park.
Question: if the Brits are so against this regime why are they supporting
the economy, which is not funnelling funds down to its people? Stop
holidaying there and help cripple this dangerous government.
Posted by: topplehim London 28 Mar 2007 13:18:26
To Hope, a sister in struggle. My heart cries with yours. I know our country
will be free one day and I know that the evil will be exposed and mugbes
closest allies will hang their heads in shame when they realise the kind of
person they have been propping up. I wish I was at home to march with you
and stand with you. I am only here because my family cannot live without the
money I send home to them. I pray for you and all our leaders fighting this
regime. I will tell everyone I know to come and read this.
Posted by: Nokthula, Zimbabwean in London 28 Mar 2007 13:30:08
My fellow Zimbabweans, the time is now! For how long shall we wait and cry
for others to help us? No more whining. Let's start ourselves. This is our
struggle. It's time to act and the time is now!
Posted by: Francisca 28 Mar 2007 14:27:19
By Daniel Howden in Harare
Published: 29 March 2007
Robert Mugabe was fighting for his political rights last night as he
launched mass arrests of opposition leaders at home and flew to Tanzania for
a showdown with regional leaders.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the main opposition leader, was arrested along with two
dozen colleagues at a press conference called to highlight the epidemic of
abductions and punishment beatings in recent days. Hundreds of opposition
Movement for Democratic Change activists have been taken to hospital in what
has become a daily ritual of illegal state-sponsored violence.
As the crackdown continued, Mr Mugabe arrived in Dar Es Salaam for a meeting
of the 12-nation Southern African Development Committee, with his own future
the only item on the agenda.
The 83-year-old President has come under mounting pressure from the
international community, the opposition and increasing numbers within his
own ruling party to step aside. Diplomats were hopeful that SADC members
would push Mr Mugabe to accept an exit package and make way for an interim
government. But his greatest threat comes at home, where members of the
Zanu-PF Polit Buro openly discussed yesterday whether to ditch the
octogenarian and put forth another candidate for next year's presidential
As he was leaving the country, Mr Mugabe's police sealed off two main
streets in central Harare and stormed the headquarters of the MDC on Harvest
Road. Armed police in riot gear detained more than two dozen people,
including Mr Tsvangirai and a number of his senior aides. At time of going
to press last night, only the MDC leader had been released. More than 20
others were still being detained.
Lawyers for the opposition said they did not know where they were being
detained or when they would be released.
Mr Tsvangirai had called the news conference to detail the increasingly
brutal intimidation of his party. Seven leading officials from the MDC were
picked up at gunpoint on Tuesday night and yesterday morning, and only one
of them has so far been found. Last Maengahama, a shadow deputy minister,
was seized by plain-clothed assailants, severely beaten and dumped at a
location 30 miles outside the capital.
The government has denied involvement in the punishment beatings, but The
Independent has seen evidence that the attacks are being led by members of
Mr Mugabe's own Zanu-PF militia, using unmarked cars and police-issue
The nightly beatings have brought a reign of terror to the capital and
caused chaos among opposition cadres, many of whom are now in hospital or in
hiding. One senior MDC source, who declined to be named, said: "This is the
worst violence that we have seen since the land invasions in 2000. But this
brutality is typical of the way that this regime has always worked.
"Anger is rising among millions of the most impoverished Zimbabweans that
live in the crowded townships surrounding Harare. Police are engaged in
nightly skirmishes with youths who have been building barricades and burning
tyres. The situation has become sufficiently volatile that critics of the
government now fear that violent clashes with the regime are becoming
The intensifying crackdown has come as economic collapse has left 85 per
cent of the country in poverty and pushed Zimbabweans' life expectancy to
the lowest in the world. Even Mr Mugabe's long-standing allies in the ruling
party now want him sidelined as their own fortunes - collected through
corruption and patronage - are threatened.
Speaking after his release, Mr Tsvangirai signalled that he was not
determined to see Mr Mugabe humiliated: "We don't hate Mugabe, we think he
needs psychiatric help. We're not talking about overthrowing the government,
we have a constitutional right to democracy in this country and we can
dignify an old man that has lost his mind.''
Hyper-inflation has seen the exchange rate from US$1 to a Zimbabwe dollar
soar from 1,500 to 26,000 in under three years. If Mr Mugabe withstands SADC
criticism and ploughs on, as he has indicated, he faces a possible palace
coup as early as tomorrow.
The former army chief Solomon Mujuru and his wife, the Vice-President, Joyce
Mujuru, are leading what is thought to be the strongest faction opposing
him. The Vice-President was in South Africa this week in an effort, it is
thought, to drum-up support for a Mujuru takeover.
Her husband is among Zimbabwe's wealthiest businessmen and the couple lived
until recently on an illegally seized farm outside Harare. While it is
reported that they no longer live together, the intensely private husband
prefers to have his wife play the more public role.
The economic collapse has threatened Mr Mujuru's business interests, and his
investments in the UK have caused a fallout with Mr Mugabe. Mr Mujuru is
known to have made soundings with foreign investors in the country, as well
as with Western diplomats who are eager to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe
and displace Mr Mugabe.
Emmerson Mnangagwa leads the other Zanu-PF faction, and the former security
chief has been a bitter rival of Mr Mujuru's. Their power struggle may
enable the wily Mr Mugabe to persuade his party to keep him on for another
election next year. He remains determined to "harmonise'' presidential and
parliamentary elections, knowing his chances of winning depend on forcing
the party to campaign with him.
The regime's victims
'M' Aged 30
Lying in her hospital she has a series of lesions on her legs and massive
bruising. She has a heart-shaped wound revealing the bone on her right shin
which will require a major skin graft.
"I was with Morgan at the prayer meeting (11 March) when the police took us.
They took us to the police station where they beat my leg. There were six of
them who beat me with their baton sticks. It went on for about an hour. They
said 'you are Tony Blair's people'. There was a lot of pain. We were made to
lie on our bellies while they beat [me] all over my body. Then I was locked
up for two days. That night they were given 100,000 Zim dollars each for
'G' Aged 32
G has two pieces of green cloth covering the worst of his injuries. One of
them covers a deep wound encircling his toe where bone shows through. The
other covers his elbow and forearm where heavy blows have left a large
"It was 8pm and I was going home when I met these police with dogs. Some of
them came at me and started beating me on the calves until they knocked me
to the ground. This dog came and bit me on the foot and the knee. I had
another dog, an Alsatian, right next to my face, and I thought it would bite
me on the neck. I passed out and when I awoke the dog was eating my foot...
the handler said to me 'run away'. But I said to her how can I with this
Thursday, 29 March 2007
AS TENSIONS rise in Zimbabwe, what are the reasons behind the
violence, and what might be the likely solutions?
The country's status as the world's fastest shrinking economy is due
With inflation touching 2000 per cent, one-third of the country abroad
and half the country's 11million people dependent on food aid, President
Robert Mugabe's land redistribution policies have virtually destroyed the
agriculture sector. Once the mainstay of the economy and employment,
agriculture output is now less than half of its late-1990s' peak, and
tobacco, the main export crop, just one-fifth.
Today HIV/AIDS afflicts 18 per cent of the population, unemployment is
more than 70per cent, the fiscal deficit an unsustainable 60 per cent of
GDP, and life expectancy is down to 36 years.
The change in the country's land policy was a profoundly political
act, motivated by the growing unpopularity of the country's octogenarian
leader. Zimbabwe's 4000 white farmers were easy prey in a country where the
politics of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party are defined by the 20-year
liberation war against white rule.
Conversely, if you can fix the politics, one should be able to fix the
economy. How to do that is not easy in a country which Mugabe has ruled with
an iron fist if with a democratic facade since independence from Britain in
Three models of reform and recovery are possible.
A reformed ZANU-PF with more internationally acceptable leadership and
policies is preferred by those in the southern African region for whom the
unravelling of the ruling party resonates uncomfortably with their own
situation. Along with Mugabe's iconic liberation hero status this helps to
explain why the region has been so reluctant to intervene and slow even to
publicly condemn Mugabe's actions.
Another option is to engineer an interim coalition government with the
Opposition, Movement for Democratic Change. Given its scent of victory it is
unclear whether the MDC would accept this. But removal of Mugabe from the
political centre stage would make this more likely and palatable. This may
be a precursor to the third option, to hold democratic and free elections as
soon as possible, thereby undoing Mugabe's shameless vote-rigging in earlier
Either way, economic recovery will demand a degree of multi-party
consensus and cooperation unseen since the partnership between the
Shona-dominated ZANU and Ndebele-controlled ZAPU led by Joshua Nkomo.
In combination with South African pressure and British-led diplomacy
this alliance brought about the fall of Ian Smith's white regime. It
faltered in the 1980s when Mugabe cracked down on opposition in
The notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade killed an estimated
20,000 ethnic Matabele in quashing resistance to his rule, explaining why
the MDC draws much support from that area to the west of the country.
Any economic recovery strategy would, in turn, have three basic
components: sorting out the agriculture mess created by Mugabe's policies,
providing for the disgruntled and highly politicised war veterans who have
led the land grab, and addressing human security and rights.
Given its scale and complexity, the crisis in Zimbabwe is not going to
be resolved quickly or easily.
International experience suggests the period of recovery is inevitably
as long as that of decline.
But there is an imperative to start now, to improve the daily struggle
of Zimbabweans by stabilising the economy and reducing political tensions.
Medium- to longer-term steps will have to address land and economic
External assistance is viewed as the key to staving off further
economic collapse and, ultimately, recovery. Yet international aid has a
poor record in this regard, often proving a Band-Aid incapable of forging
domestic consensus on dealing with underlying problems.
Usefully, planning should start on aspects such as monetary
stabilisation and the re-establishment of a functioning state system,
including baseline performance in education, policing and health.
There is only so much that can be done by the international community
for Zimbabwe in undoing Mugabe's criminal legacy. The tough message is that
this lies largely in their hands, today and in the future.
Dr Mills heads the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation dedicated
to strengthening African economic performance.
Los Angeles Times
By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff Writer
6:43 PM PDT, March 28, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Everything you'd expect to find in the office of a
senior official in Zimbabwe's ruling party was there: the dominating
portrait of President Robert Mugabe; the yellowing photos of liberation
martyrs and heroes. The only discordant note was in the words of the
"People loved Mugabe. We loved Mugabe."
"We need to look for someone else," the official continued, adding that many
in the ruling ZANU-PF party agree with him that it's time for the Old Man to
Just months ago, a conversation like this, particularly with a foreign
journalist, would have been unthinkable. But Mugabe, 83, is losing powerful
factions in his own party and the increasingly disaffected army, police and
The only leader Zimbabwe has known since the end of white minority rule in
1979, he has ruled with fear and patronage. Those who fell out of favor were
fired, beaten or killed, and secret police kept careful watch on perceived
enemies. For much of that time, however, Zimbabwe also was among the most
prosperous countries in Africa.
Mugabe started seizing land from white commercial farmers in 2000, and much
of it ended up in the hands of political cronies. The move paralyzed
Zimbabwe's most successful economic sector and biggest employer. Now, he
presides over a country with an official inflation rate of 1,730 percent,
the world's highest; and life expectancy that the World Health Organization
estimates at only 36 years. Unemployment is about 80 percent. Grass grows
high along potholed highways; few people can afford a bus fare, let alone
gas. They gather in large groups, waiting for a lift. When a truck stops,
they swarm it.
The political opposition is once more trying to mount a challenge. Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change and other
opposition leaders were arrested Wednesday, a little more than two weeks
after Tsvangirai was arrested, beaten and then hospitalized.
Even as he cracks down on the opposition, Mugabe's support among his core
backers has evaporated as hyperinflation eats into the business interests of
ruling party heavyweights and gobbles police and army wages, causing mass
desertions and resignations.
"The internal problems we have got are much larger than the problems created
by the MDC," said the party official. "I don't think that even the president
worries about the MDC. He's much more worried about what is happening in his
The official's willingness to talk, even anonymously for fear of political
reprisal, is a sign of the splits in ZANU-PF and the difficulties Mugabe
faces overcoming party opposition to his plans to run for president again
next year. Internal party opposition has already forced him to abandon a bid
to extend his term to 2010.
African leaders, normally mute about Zimbabwe's human rights abuses and
economic collapse, also have grown more alarmed since Tsvangirai and dozens
of other activists were arrested and beaten up in Harare on March 11. About
100 activists have been hospitalized since then. Many of them were abducted
from their homes and severely beaten, often with iron bars.
On Wednesday, at least nine other opposition leaders were arrested
overnight, according to opposition spokesman Eliphas Mukonoweshuro.
Tsvangirai was released unharmed several hours later.
The opposition is demanding a new constitution leading to free and fair
elections next year and is reportedly willing to offer Mugabe immunity from
prosecution. Without reform, it has threatened to boycott next year's
Leaders of the South African Development Community, a regional group, will
hold an emergency meeting in Tanzania on Thursday at which they are expected
to press Mugabe to spell out plans to retire and ensure an orderly
The small ruling party clique which still supports Mugabe argues that
ZANU-PF will collapse in chaos if he goes.
Jonathan Moyo, a former information minister sacked for disloyalty in 2004,
said Mugabe is facing open rebellion from two important party factions
representing Vice President Joyce Mujuru, who is married to the powerful
former army chief, Solomon Mujuru, and the former parliamentary speaker,
South Africa, the regional power, has been talking to the opposition and
ruling party figures including Mujuru in an effort to ease tensions that it
sees as a growing threat to all of southern Africa.
But Moyo predicted in a telephone interview that Mugabe would stage a
desperate last stand to hold onto power until his death.
"The likelihood of him wanting to fight to the bitter end is very high. But
there's growing fear within ZANU-PF that if he stands for election, the
ruling party will lose big time. We joke that even a baboon could beat him
now," said Moyo. "But he's very stubborn. He somehow believes that he's
still very popular."
Many citizens still are too afraid to speak out. Simuwe Mwenzi, a
64-year-old widow who lives in a poor neighborhood of Bulawayo, said she is
losing the battle to stay ahead of inflation and feed three grandchildren.
Yet she won't say whom she blames for her hardships. She trusts no one,
including the woman she has taken in as a boarder.
"She's a spy," Mwenzi hissed. "They could come and arrest me."
"There is a lot inside me, but I can't say anything because I'm afraid."
But fear is starting to lose its hold over security forces.
There is anger in the police and army over low salaries and the fast-track
promotions of ZANU-PF loyalists and veterans of the guerrilla war to end
white rule, according to seven current and former members of Zimbabwe's
police and army interviewed by the Los Angeles Times in Harare, Bulawayo and
Johannesburg, South Africa.
"Morale is down. Everyone's frustrated over the conditions," said a Bulawayo
detective sergeant whose salary of 200,000 Zimbabwe was worth about $10 a
month at last week's black market rate but was sliding to about $6 by the
middle of this week. His entire salary equals the cost of bus fare to get to
work. "There are a lot of people who support the opposition. Everyone just
wants something to happen. They just want things to change.
"I think the major thing people are angry about is the president himself.
They say he is past his prime and he should leave."
He was willing to be identified because of fear of reprisals.
The high-ranking party official said the economy collapsed because Mugabe
failed to curb corruption. But he said there was no clear candidate to
succeed. He said he could accept someone who was less capable than Mugabe,
but at least willing to listen.
"I look at everyone and I see damn fools, including the opposition. Our
future is blank, and that's a very sad situation."
By Peter Clottey
29 March 2007
Police in Zimbabwe Wednesday raided the headquarters of opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and arrested a dozen party leaders. Party officials said
Tsvangirai was among those detained, but police denied the charge. The
arrest of the opposition movement for democratic change (MDC) activists
followed an organized news conference Wednesday by the MDC to protest what
the opposition described as the recent increase in abduction and torture of
Tendai Biti is the general secretary of the MDC. He said the police thwarted
the MDC's scheduled news conference.
"We were supposed to have a press conference, and the press conference was
going to deal with the continuing abductions of our members. And only
yesterday afternoon, after the memorial service of the late Gift Tandare,
the activist who was murdered by Mugabe on March 11, 2007, during the prayer
meeting. they abducted a close friend of mine and a member of our national
executive. He was left in only briefs, tortured and left for dead," Biti
Biti reflected on Wednesday's disappearance of some of the party executives.
"As I speak to you now, I can't tell you where Honorable Poma Dzuri, our
member of parliament for Glens View is. I can't tell you where Emmanuel
Tisuwere, our member of parliament for Budereero is. At first we thought
that there were only 20 that were arrested, but now I found out that it was
65 people and most importantly, I don't know where Morgan Tsvangirai is," he
Biti said the police did not give any reasons for the arrest.
"No they didn't give any reason. They never give reasons; even when we were
arrested and beaten up on the eleventh of March we were not given any
reason, so the dictator will not give you any reason," he pointed out.
Biti speculated on the reasons behind the police crackdown.
"I suspect there were three main reasons behind the arrests; first was to
prevent our press conference. Secondly, I think they are desperate to
de-legitimize us. So they have been running on this story about petrol bombs
and so forth, so I think they wanted to plant some evidence connected to
that. And thirdly, I think they wanted an excuse to take away our computers,
which would destabilize us, which is in effect what they have done," he
Biti said the MDC is concerned with finding the whereabouts of what he
called the abducted party executives.
"At the present moment we are just concerned with the whereabouts of Morgan
Tsvangirai and the rest of the people they have arrested. We are trying
desperately to get them out tonight," he said.
Although there have been reports of the party's leader being freed, Biti
says he has yet to know where Tsvangirai is.
"I've spoken to a journalist who has actually said he has spoken to him. But
the point I'm making is that I have been to Tsvangirai's house and he was
not there," he said.
Biti explains what the MDC is going to do about its members who have been
"The immediate thing right now is to get those people out of prison, feed
them, and give them access to lawyers. Then the second thing is to look for
the people who have been abducted. We don't know where they are. At least
for those who were arrested by the police, we know they are in police
custody. But we are concerned about those who have been abducted, like our
Members of Parliament," he said.
HARARE - South Africa summoned Zimbabwe's Vice President Joice Mujuru on
Friday to protest about violent attacks on the opposition and President
Robert Mugabe's lawless repression amid reports the octogenarian's
leadership of Zanu (PF) has been identified as the key stumbling block to
resolving the deepening social and political crisis.
Mujuru met with South Africa's Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ncguka at a
Johannesburg hotel last Friday for "private talks." She was accompanied by
her husband, General Solomon Mujuru, also known as Rex Nhongo, a former army
commander, and leading member of Mugabe's guerrilla forces during the
independence war. The couple lead a ruling party faction vying to succeed
Diplomatic sources said it emerged from the meeting that Mugabe, whose
popularity in his own party has waned rapidly in recent weeks, had shot down
suggestions from his lieutenants for a graceful departure from politics and
an amnesty for crimes he committed during his violent 27-year-rule.
In the light of that information, the South African government reportedly
indicated it had adopted an approach focusing on a post-Mugabe scenario in
Zimbabwe - not necessarily a post-Zanu (PF) one.
The South African government also asked Mujuru to influence her "Zimbabwean
counterparts" into drafting a new Constitution and to hastily address issues
affecting the country by engaging the opposition.
Mlambo-Ngcuka was briefed about the Central Committee meeting today
(Thursday), which is expected to endorse Mugabe's candidacy for the 2008
The South African government and President Thabo Mbeki have come under heavy
criticism from several members of the world community for not condemning
Mugabe's despotic regime. The clampdown on the press, the opposition and the
deterioration of the rule of law were pointed out as the most important
factors adversely affecting the economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
The concerns were heightened last week when Mugabe openly supported the
ruthless clampdown on the opposition and the violent suppression of peaceful
political activity. Mugabe told a meeting of the ruling Zanu (PF)'s Women's
League on Friday that the continued defiance campaign by the opposition,
civic and church groups would be met "very vigorously" by security forces.
"We hope they have learned a lesson. If they have not, then they will get
similar treatment (from the police)," Mugabe warned.
Mugabe spoke as police reported a fourth petrol bomb attack on a police
station in Marimba Park in a month of raging unrest, blaming it on suspected
opposition activists. However, at least one police report has been proved to
be pure fabrication. The use of police-issue teargas canisters in other
attacks point to the sinister hand of either the police or the CIO's dirty
Earlier, reports said a train had been petrol-bombed, prompting authorities
to put all passenger trains under police escort.
According to diplomatic sources, Mlambo Ngcuka was told that Mugabe was
plagued with "paranoid delusions" about attempts to oust him, according to
South African intelligence and diplomatic sources.
HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will soon submit new proposals on the
management of the foreign exchange market, according to banking executives
who met central bank officials recently.
Executives from Zimbabwe's merchant and commercial banks met central bank
governor Gideon Gono to put forward proposals on how the foreign exchange
market could operate under a fixed exchange rate system that would eliminate
the thriving parallel forex market.
The executives said the proposals called for the devaluation of the Zimbabwe
dollar, officially pegged at Z$250 to one US dollar for the past nine
months, to at least Z$7,500.
The US$ is currently fetching Z$22,000 on the thriving parallel market.
They also proposed that a pool of the country's meagre foreign currency
reserves continue to be managed by the Reserve Bank, which makes allocations
to the business sector, utilities and the government.
In January Gono staunchly resisted calls for devaluation saying the move
would "bless the black market."
Bankers said recent attempts to throttle the parallel market, where some
treasury departments were said to be acting as facilitators, could be linked
to efforts to regulate the market before a devaluation was announced.
"We understand that devaluation is on the way," said one source. "He seems
to have decided that banks should comply with the market rules because he
wants sanity in the market before the devaluation."
Analysts said devaluation must be effected to claim restive tobacco farmers
who are threatening to hold on to their crop amid reports that the auction
floors are set to go full throttle on April 24.
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai will hold a landmark rally at Huruyadzo
Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza on Saturday, hardly a week after the
authorities lifted a ban on public rallies imposed last month.
Arthur Mutambara, leader of the other MDC faction, declined to go ahead with
a rally planned for his group after it became apparent that the Zanu (PF)
authorities' preferential treatment of him was part of a well-orchestrated
ploy by the security agencies to foment divisions and distrust within the
When Mutambara and Tsvangirai were arrested during the recent Save Zimbabwe
Coalition prayer meeting, Tsvangirai and his colleagues sustained fractured
skulls and broken bones.
On the contrary, Mutambara and his deputies emerged from the police cells
unscathed, fuelling speculation that they were on Zanu (PF) payroll with a
mandate to destabilize the MDC.
"Already some people are convinced that he is working with them, why can't
they beat him up? Why are they clearing his rallies and not Morgan's? Its
called The Big Lie," said a middle-ranking intelligence operative. "A united
opposition is a huge threat."
Mutambara stood firm and said: "It should be clear to Robert Mugabe and his
surrogates that selective application of the law will never have any takers
in the democratic movement," he said. "If Zanu (PF), which has no moral
authority to do so, denies Tsvangirai the right to hold a rally, Mutambara
will never accept to proceed with such a rally. Any injury inflicted on one
democratic force is a clear assault on all forces."
The MDC's Information and Publicity Department will be regularly naming and
shaming individuals who are abetting the Zanu PF regime in undermining the
people's rights and derailing the train of freedom and democracy. For the
past three weeks, hit squads of suspected CIO agents have been assaulting,
abducting and even shooting MDC supporters in Harare, Marondera and
Chitungwiza in a vain attempt to stop the hour of change which is now upon
us. The MDC believes that such individuals must face trial in the new
Zimbabwe for crimes against humanity and for prolonging the shelf-life of a
regime that is now unpopular with the people. The following people, in their
individual capacities, are part of a large list that we will be publishing,
of personalities who stand guilty of various crimes such as murder,
brutality, assaults and other heinous and criminal acts that the cornered
regime is using to suppress and oppress the people of Zimbabwe. In the new
Zimbabwe, the wheels of justice will be fitted back on the train of
democracy and the following individuals should have honest answers on what
they were doing to fellow countrymen when this nation needed men and women
of conscience; men and women who value the sanctity of human life, human
rights and basic freedoms.
1.CIO officers stationed at the Harare International Airport whose names are
given only as Hwande, Mandiome and Shoko. Hwande resides in Sunningdale 2 at
House number 1520 7th close in Harare South constituency. These three are
part of an eight man hit-squad of the Central Intelligence Organisation
officers who brutally assaulted MDC spokesman and Kuwadzana MP Nelson
Chamisa. The brutality was unprecedented and ranks as one of the most
barbaric by state security agents considering that Hon Chamisa was on
national duty as he was headed for an ACP-EU Parliamentary meeting in
Brussels, Belgium as a representative of the Parliament of Zimbabwe. Crime
committed: Sunday, 18 March 2007
2.Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor. President Robert
Mugabe's personal banker. Born in Chivhu. A) Police officers who brutally
assaulted MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and senior party officials
confirmed that Gono paid $1 million each and $100 000 food allowances per
day to each of the merchants of death. B) Gono, through his much-publicised
fiscal activities, provided the financial wherewithal that enabled the
government to engage in the costly Operation Murambatsvina in which 18
percent of Zimbabweans lost their homes. He also minted trillions, to the
detriment of the country's inflation levels, for the government to engage
in Operation Garikiai/Hlalani Kuhle. C) The 4x4 double-cab vehicles he
donated to the police force after the ill-conceived Operation Sunrise are
the same vehicles that are being used by Zanu PF's hit squads who are
abducting and assaulting opposition leaders and activists in and around
Harare. Crime committed: Since May 2005
3.Chief Inspector Mukuze, Officer-In-Charge, Matapi police station;
Constable Makina, Harare Central Bike Unit, shift 2; Constable Kanzou,
Harare Central Operations section; Constable Edmore Munodawafa, Matapi
police station, team 3; Constable Munemo, Harare Central Operations section;
Sergeant Magongo, Harare Central Operations section; Inspector Ngidhi,
Officer-In-Charge, Police Operations Group; Assistant Inspector G. Shoko,
PRG, Harare Central shift 2; Inspector Isaac Hove, Officer-In-Charge, Harare
Central Operations section ; Constable Nicasio Majaya, Matapi police
station; Constable Nawu, Harare Central operations; Constable Some, Harare
central operations; Constable Paswairi, Matapi police station; Constable
Nkomo, Hatfield police station.
These police officers, in their individual capacities, were responsible for
brutally assaulting ZCTU leaders Lovemore Matombo and Wellington Chibhebhe
as well as senior MDC officials such as Ms Lucia Matibenga, who is also a
ZCTU vice President, Ian Makone, MDC secretary for Elections and Toendepi
Shonhe, vice organizing secretary for Harare province and other political
and civic activists. Their crime was that they had exercised their
constitutional right for movement, assembly and expression. Crime committed:
13 September 2006
4.George Charamba, President Robert Mugabe's spokesman and Permanent
secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity. Abetting and
supporting tyranny. Vigorously defending the brutal assault of innocent
citizens. Using uncivilized language to mock victims of Mugabe's brutality
and ordering State Editors to parrot the whims of the dictator. Here is one
man who has clearly overstepped his role as a civil servant to occupy a
lofty seat on the pedestal of tyranny as Mugabe's voice and word-smith. Like
Saddam Hussein's Comical Ali, Charamba seems determined to rabidly support a
tyranny unto the very end; an end which is nigh. Crime committed: Frequently
5.Chaplain Choto, a Central Intelligence Organisation officer. Choto went to
the home of a senior member of the private funeral parlour where Gift
Tandare's body was being kept and ordered him, at gunpoint, to surrender the
body to him despite a High Court order that it had to be surrendered to his
wife and other relatives who had brought the body to the mortuary in the
first place. He was in the company of two other unidentified CIO officers
and Saviour Kasukuwere, Mt Darwin South MP and Zanu PF Politburo member.
Kasukuwere, a former CIO agent, is still embedded with the dreaded spy
agency. Crime committed: Saturday, 17 March 2007
Over a hundred schools in Zimbabwe are set to ground to a halt by the 1st of
April a week earlier than the scheduled date due to unbearable economic
climate which has left inflation a few inches to reach a 2000% mark
according to the government's dubious Central Statistics Office.
According to a research conducted by The Zimbabwean over hundred schools
will be closing as parents can no longer continue affording to pay top up
fees required by these schools after every two weeks. Most of these schools
are the ones offering boarding facilities, as food run scarce since prices
are doubling everyday. - Trust Matsilele
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is ratcheting up
load shedding of electricity, weighing down an already comatose economy
reeling under operational problems stemming from the government's appalling
A new load shedding schedule will see power cuts between 6am to 10am and
from 5pm and 8pm every day, a move likely to cripple the operations of many
The intensified load shedding has heightened fears of worsening job losses
ZESA has consistently failed to pay its foreign debts, with government
preferring to prioritise defence spending.
The parastatal owes Eskom of South Africa and Cahora Bassa of Mozambique
US$150 million (Z$37,5 billion at the official exchange rate, but Z$260
trillion on the realistic and operative parallel market), part of which
should have been paid by the end of business last Saturday.
Captains of commerce and industry raised concerns this week about the
intensified load shedding, saying electricity, like fuel was a critical
resource that turned the wheels of industry
In the capital weekend, Graniteside, Msasa, Willowvale, Waterfalls,
Hatfield, Chitungwiza and Southerton woke up without electricity, affecting
all their operations.
The problem has been compounded by intermittent breakdowns. In Sunningdale,
Mbare and part of Graniteside last week, residents and part of industry had
to go for five days without electricity.
The power utility has long called for an increase in tariffs, but
government, playing a populist card, has staunchly refused the call. The
result has been mounting losses for ZESA amid a crippling foreign currency
shortage. Electricity tariffs are heavily subsidized in Zimbabwe such that a
pack of candles is more expensive than a monthly electricity bill.
The irony is that government continues to waste forex on endless foreign
trips where large delegations, including dozens of intelligence officials,
accompany the increasingly isolated Mugabe.
"Government must come up with urgent long-term solution to the foreign
currency shortage, one of the major problems facing the nation," said Harare
economist Ronald Shumba. "There is an urgent need for government to reenter
the market place."
HARARE - Defiant National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Dr Lovemore
Madhuku vowed this week that civic groups in Zimbabwe were willing and able
to continue taking on the government over a new constitution, dismissing the
ongoing government crackdown on the democratic political opposition as
Madhuku spoke as government intensified a brutal crackdown on the
"There is no other way except civil disobedience and mass action to deal
with this arrogant government which is surviving on brutality," Madhuku, who
is still in plaster for the next five weeks, told The Zimbabwean. "We have
to keep putting pressure if we genuinely want constitutional reform."
Madhuku said the pressure group on Tuesday commemorated the death of NCA
Glenview chairman Gift Tandare, murdered by police on March 11. He said
hundreds of campaigners were now expected to spill into the streets starting
next week, demanding a new constitution.
Madhuku said the NCA had completed brokering consultation over a "people
friendly" constitution that it hoped to sell to government soonest.
"The new constitution lays out a proper bill of rights, limits the
presidency, promotes freedom of expression, assembly, association and gives
women in this society equal rights," Madhuku said.
Analysts said that the NCA could be in a position to tackle Mugabe's
government over a new constitution.
"The NCA has to be one of the broadest-based organisations in the country,
and if anyone is capable of putting real sustained pressure on Mugabe its
them," a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe told The
Zimbabwean. Trade unionists, academics, church groups, youth organisations,
gender activists, business people and farmers are all represented under the
"I think things will move quite rapidly now," he said. "The NCA wants a new
constitution in place before next year's presidential poll, and there's
bound to be confrontation because government are totally opposed to the NCA
and what it stands for," he added.
HARARE - As the annual tobacco auctions open, Zimbabwe has lost its position
in the top league of the world's five best tobacco producers amid warnings
that the traditional foreign exchange spinner will this year not ease
Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis.
Industry experts said foreign currency inflows would be low during the
selling season, owing mainly to the fixed exchange rate. Farmers have
threatened to hold on to their crop if Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
refuses to devalue. Gono has thumbed his nose at the resettled farmers,
accusing them of being "cry-babies."
Total production output for this year is estimated at only 80-million
kilograms, an optimistic figure considering last year only 55-million
kilograms went under the hammer. Moreover, Agriculture minister Rugare
Gumbo has declared 2007 a drought year.
The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association says tobacco farmers are threatened with
lack of viability due to the current exchange rate.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association president, Julius Ngorima, lamented
critical shortages of key inputs, logistical constraints, bureaucratic
impediments in timely disbursement of inputs to farmers.
The top five world tobacco exporters are now Brazil, US, India, Malawi and
Since the farm invasions production has dropped from 236-million kgs in 2000
to 55-million kgs in 2006.
The government has deployed members of the Central Intelligence, Army and
National youth militia ahead of 2008 polls as suspicions increase of
infiltration by the opposition within the state-owned media and as a way of
intensifying its propaganda.
A top official within the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation said some
employees suspected of being MDC stalwarts, hence a need to increase
security within the state media.
Members from the national youth militia are allegedly being trained to
channel state propaganda, and some are getting in-house training at the
ruling party's mouthpiece, The Voice, as they prepare to take over from
those believed to be MDC henchmen. Raphael Mugabe, a nephew of the president
is said to have been employed at ZBC.
"We really don't understand what Raphael is doing here and people are no
longer free to express themselves as one fears to be caught off guard by the
ever-increasing number of state agents at the corporation," said a
disgruntled employee. - Trust Matsilele
In a two-page letter sent to President Mugabe on Saturday, the war veterans
said Zimbabwe must completely cut ties with Britain, the United States and
New Zealand because the countries want to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
"We would like to boldly make it known that our relations with the West are
no longer cordial hence we feel our embassies and ambassadors should be
withdrawn from these countries," reads part letter, which was dropped at
Mugabe's Munhumutapa offices.
The resolution came after a meeting of about 500 war veterans at Zanu-PF
Harare, where they pledged to support Mugabe's bid for re-election in 2008.
The war veterans, who were represented by former municipal officer Joseph
Chinotimba, said the country had nothing to benefit from countries that have
imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe and are trying to topple Mugabe using the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"By trying to remove a legitimate and democratically-elected government
through violent means, these western countries are insulting us and we do
not think we should sit back on our laurels and watch them," said Chinotimba
in the letter dated March 23, 2007.
Chinotimba, a Harare municipal policeman, did not participate in Zimbabwe's
war of liberation. He was propelled to prominence by his leading role in the
violent invasion of white-owned commercial farms in 2000.
The war veterans said they were incensed that the ambassadors were
sympathetic to members of the MDC leadership, the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) and other civil society organizations, who were severely
assaulted by the police at a Save Zimbabwe Campaign prayer meeting a
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, his spokesperson Nelson Chamisa, NCA's
Lovemore Madhuku and others were admitted to hospital after their brutal
assault by the police, which has been condemned internationally.
The war veterans accused western countries of financing the MDC, the
strongest opposition party to emerge on the political scene since the
country's independence from Britain in 1980. "Further, these Ambassadors
were at the courts in support of the violent MDC
thugs who had brutally attacked innocent civilians and police officers who
were rightfully carrying out their duties," wrote the war veterans.
On Monday, United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, walked
out of a meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and
Western diplomats who had been summoned to the foreign ministry and were
threatened with expulsion if they continue to support the opposition in the
During their meeting, the war veterans expressed fear they would be hanged
should Mugabe lose in next year's election. To avoid that possibility, the
war veterans pledged to do whatever possible to maintain Mugabe in power.
"Comrades, if the President goes next year most of us here will be hanged.
If he goes down we will go down with him. We have to campaign for him," said
Chinotimba. War veterans have been perpetrating an orgy of violence since
the 2000 general elections, torturing, maiming and killing supporters of the
He said yesterday's meeting was called to motivate war veterans in
preparation for next year's presidential elections.
Government has forged ahead with plans to establish a social contract by
deliberating with its stooge labour union, following the refusal by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to participate.
Government efforts to negotiate with business and labour for a social
contract, have met with apathy from major stakeholders.
The ZCTU has been reluctant to attend the negotiations as it blames
government for acting in bad faith and not being willing to end political
repression, while at the same time worsening the economic crisis. Instead,
the ZCTU says it is going ahead with plans for a "massive countrywide
strike" by workers next week.
"There can't be a social contract when government continuously acts in bad
faith. We are not part of the deliberations and rather plan to have a
massive countrywide strike," ZCTU secretary general, Wellington Chibhebhe
The ZCTU commands the larger following within the labour circles and has in
the past clashed with government over economic and labour issues.
The pro-Zanu (PF) Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions this week held
meetings with government and its president Alfred Makwarimba said there were
hopes the deliberations would culminate in a social contract.
When presenting his monetary policy statement last month, Gono had already
set a March 1 deadline for price and salary freezes as part of the
conditions for sorting out the economy.
However, his plans failed due to the reluctance by key players to engage in
The cornered Mugabe regime is desperately searching for ways to appease an
increasingly disgruntled population suffering the effects of unprecendented
hyperinflation. - Itai Dzamara
HARARE - A vigilante ruling party group claiming to represent Zimbabwean
youths is to target foreign embassies and aid agencies over alleged support
for rivals of President Robert Mugabe, after threatening staff at the
Avenues Clinic where opposition leaders assaulted by police were receiving
The US and the British embassies are believed to be high on their list of
"We will be visiting them soon to express our displeasure and to warn them
to stop interfering with our internal matters. Zimbabwe ndeye ropa (There
was blood shed before gaining our Independence) ... Our next target will be
to deal with them once and for all," a rag tag middle-aged man claiming to
represent Zanu (PF) youths told a ruling party Women's League crowd in the
"Mureza wehondo wadzoka (the liberation war flag is back)."
Diplomats in Harare say they are taking the threat seriously. They say
ambassadors will draft a joint submission to the government.
"We will be asking for assurances we will be accorded the protection we are
entitled to under international treaties to which Zimbabwe is a signatory,"
said one senior Western diplomat who asked not to be identified. - Gift
Last Updated: 2:03am BST 29/03/2007
David Coltart, Zimbabwe's shadow justice minister, was in London this week
to drum up support for an EU envoy who could encourage neighbouring
countries to push for democratic change in Zimbabwe.
Mr Coltart, a lawyer and leading member of the Movement for Democratic
Change, is challenging the lawfulness of constitutional changes that removed
the right of the courts to adjudicate in land-acquisition cases, thus
undermining the right to an independent hearing.
Is there any point in bringing a constitutional challenge that is bound to
Yes, he says, one should not stand idly by. When tyranny ends, we shall need
to know which judges were committed to the rule of law - and which were not.