By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader was freed from several
hours in police custody, but nine others detained in a raid were charged
Thursday in what the government alleged was a terror campaign, opposition
The detentions were part of a political crisis that has provoked concerns of
a spillover in the rest of the region, and African leaders at an emergency
meeting in Tanzania on Thursday appointed South Africa's president to
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party accused President
Robert Mugabe's government of trying to demonize its critics by fabricating
allegations of an armed terror campaign.
The government has accused the movement of being behind a string of
firebombs, and on Wednesday, police displayed explosives, detonators and two
handguns they claimed were found at the home of two arrested opposition
"These tactics are to try and divert attention from themselves," said Tendai
Biti, the party's secretary-general. "We are dealing with a desperate
Party officials said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was released after
several hours in custody to see a doctor because he was suffering from dizzy
spells from a police beating earlier this month.
Sixty others were arrested in Wednesday's raid on the headquarters of the
Movement of Democratic Change, and several were beaten, party officials
"They made us lie on our bellies and beat our bellies, buttocks and feet,"
said opposition lawmaker Felix Mashu, who was freed Thursday morning.
Police denied detaining Tsvangirai but said they have arrested 35 opposition
activists in connection with a series of nine petrol bomb attacks this
Seven opposition members were charged with attempted murder in connection
with the bombings, Alec Muchedehama, an attorney for the opposition, told
The Associated Press. Another was charged with illegal possession of a
firearm, and another with possession of explosives without a license.
Mugabe has been criticized for attacks on his opponents, government
corruption and an economic meltdown. On Wednesday, State Department deputy
spokesman Tom Casey urged Zimbabwe's neighbors to make clear that Mugabe's
actions were unacceptable.
At the meeting in Tanzania, South African President Thabo Mbeki Jakaya was
appointed to lead efforts to resolve the crisis, said Tanzanian President
Southern African Development Community decided "to promote dialogue of the
parties in Zimbabwe. There is no replacement to that," Kikwete said.
Mugabe attended the meeting but left immediately after it ended without
His spokesman, George Charamba, blamed Zimbabwe's turmoil on sanctions
imposed by former colonial power Britain and other Western nations. Western
countries say the sanctions - including asset freezes and a travel ban on
Mugabe and more than 100 of his top associates - don't hurt most
"The solution is not to remove Mugabe," Charamba said. "The solution is to
get (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair and his colleagues to remove the
State television reported Wednesday night that some of the explosives found
at the home of opposition officials were of the type the U.S. sold to
Zimbabwe's army in the 1980s. Mugabe has accused Western nations, especially
Britain, of arming his opponents, charges the countries have denied.
Biti said some of the people arrested Wednesday had no connection to the
party but rented office space in the building.
Most of the offices at the headquarters were trashed during the raid. Biti
showed reporters doors that were smashed open - some with gaping holes from
rifle butts - broken and upturned furniture and papers littering the floors.
All files were removed from the records office, and maps and documents on
elections and party strategies were taken from the office of the party's
national organizing secretary. Almost all the party's computers were
"It was wanton destruction," Biti said.
Mugabe, 83, is under growing pressure to step down as leader of the country
he has ruled since independence in 1980. Tensions are said to be rising in
his party over his succession, and the opposition blames him for the
country's corruption and acute shortages of food, hard currency and
Before leaving for Tanzania, Mugabe held a meeting of the ruling party's
highest policy-making body to discuss whether to hold national elections in
2008 or 2010.
Ruling party spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said Mugabe, who has pushed for a
delay until 2010, expressed willingness to run if nominated.
Associated Press Writer Tom Maliti contributed to this report form Dar Es
DAR ES SALAAM (AFP) - Southern African leaders called for the lifting of all
sanctions against Zimbabwe at the end of an emergency meeting Thursday on
the country's political and economic crisis.
"The extraordinary summit appeals for the lifting of all forms of sanctions
against Zimbabwe," they said in a statement released in Tanzania.
The statement defied Western and African calls to take a firmer, not more
lenient, stance on President Robert Mugabe's regime after its recent violent
crackdown on the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"The extraordinary summit reaffirms its solidarity with the government and
the people of Zimbabwe," the statement said.
The host of the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC)
summit, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, told a press conference that the
African leaders had called on the South African president to head efforts to
promote dialogue between rival political parties in Zimbabwe.
"The decision has to be to entrust President (Thabo) Mbeki to lead the
process of dialogue in Zimbabwe," Jakaya Kikwete said at the end of the
"We should encourage the government, encourage the MDC, on dialogue. If this
happens, we will see a different situation in the next elections" in 2008,
March 29 2007 at 06:39PM
Dar Es Salaam - Zimbabwe was facing "an assault" by Western countries
and its president would not be swayed by any push from a regional
development group urging him to step down in 2008, the spokesperson for
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) began a special
summit on Thursday to discuss Zimbabwe's unravelling political situation,
which has seen opposition members arrested and beaten in the past few weeks.
"The president is recognising that Zimbabwe is under assault by
Western countries," George Charamba, President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson,
told the BBC.
Zimbabwe's political crisis has seen widespread condemnation from the
international community, including Western aid donor countries.
Mugabe arrived late on Wednesday in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar
es Salaam, on the Indian Ocean, where the summit was being held. He was
expected to give his version of the politically-charged events unfolding in
He is being urged by the international community to step down in 2008,
a position SADC could possibly side with, but Charamba said the Zimbabwean
constitution did not put a limit on the number of terms a president could
The 14-member regional group's extraordinary meeting was called amid
rising tensions in the landlocked southern African country between Mugabe,
83, and the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan
While the outcome of the meeting was still unclear, some diplomats
speculated that SADC would make it plain and clear to Mugabe that he must
give up power in 2008 and others saying the regional grouping was unlikely
to take a hard line, at least not publicly.
Tsvangirai and other opposition members were severely beaten in police
custody after being arrested earlier in March. The opposition leader was
once again stopped by authorities on Wednesday and released shortly after.
SADC, a regional development group, was also set to discuss Zimbabwe's
rising inflation, which has hit a record 1 700 percent, making it
increasingly difficult for ordinary residents to make ends meet.
Millions of Zimbabweans have flooded over the border into South
Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana to flee the economic and political
crisis, raising the increasing spectre of a regional crisis.
Before the summit wraps up on Thursday, the group is also expected to
address last week's clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which saw
up to 600 people killed and injured, according to the EU. - Sapa-dpa
29 March 2007, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
A summit of 14 southern African nations has agreed that South African
President Thabo Mbeki should try to mediate in the political crisis in
Mr Mbeki will aim to formally arrange talks between Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and the opposition.
The meeting also called on the West to drop sanctions and appealed to
Britain to "honour its commitments" to fund land reforms in its former
The Tanzania summit came amid rising concern about the Zimbabwe
Political violence is increasing in the country, which is beset by
unemployment and poverty, and suffers the world's highest inflation - 1,700%
Back from brink
Diplomats said before the summit that the leaders would tell President
Mugabe that he should not stand for re-election next year, but there has
been no word on whether they did so during their closed-door meeting.
The decision had been taken to promote dialogue, Tanzanian President
Jakaya Kikwete said at the end of the summit of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC).
"Of course the appeal to parties is to be co-operative and give this
initiative a chance, also for the parties to exercise restraint and avoid
anything that's going to inflame the situation," Mr Kikweti told a news
The summit, which was attended by Mr Mbeki and Mr Mugabe, echoed the
demands of the Zimbabwean government for all sanctions against the country
to be lifted.
Britain and other Western countries have imposed targeted sanctions,
including a travel ban on Mr Mugabe and his circle.
The meeting's outcome will probably disappoint the opposition, which
had hoped for a much tougher line, says the BBC's Peter Greste in Dar es
Their resolution also falls far short of the action urged by the US,
which had called on the SADC summit to hold Mr Mugabe to account "for his
misrule, not only over the last few weeks but over the last few years".
Amid the rising tension, Zimbabwean police on Wednesday cracked down
further on the opposition.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said leader Morgan Tsvangirai
was held for several hours after Wednesday's police raid on the party's
headquarters in Harare.
Police denied he was among those arrested.
The policy-making body of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF is due to meet on Friday
to decide whether to postpone the elections and, if not, who its candidate
Speaking to the BBC as the summit got under way, Mr Mugabe's
spokesman, George Charamba, said the president would stay for as long as he
had the popular vote.
The pressure for change, he said, was coming from the US and Europe,
and Zimbabwe was hoping for the support of other African nations.
"Our expectations are very, very simple: to recognise that Zimbabwe is
under assault... it is under assault from Western countries that have
imposed illegal sanctions on it," Mr Charamba said.
Mr Mugabe, who has governed Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980,
has blamed the opposition for the recent violence, accusing it of staging
He has also dismissed complaints from the West about human rights
abuses and political oppression as the whining of old colonists.
The SADC summit also discussed the violence in DR Congo.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Nine Zimbabwean opposition activists were charged in
connection with a series of fire bombings and with weapons violations
Thursday, as the main opposition party denied waging an armed terror
campaign and said it was being demonized by the government.
Also Thursday, the South African president was appointed to mediate in a
crisis that the southern African nation's neighbors worry will spill across
Lawyer Alec Mmuchadehama told The Associated Press that seven Movement for
Democratic Change officials or members were charged with attempted murder in
connection with nine petrol bombings this month; one was charged with
illegal possession of a firearm and one with possession of explosives
without a license.
Mmuchadehama said none of those charged were asked to plead and a hearing
was set for Friday to allow them time to consult with lawyers who previously
denied access. It was not clear what punishment they faced if convicted.
President Robert Mugabe's government alleges the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change is stockpiling weapons and is responsible for the petrol
bomb attacks, the latest near the eastern town of Mutare on Wednesday. They
said petrol bombs were hurled at two gasoline tankers, but the tankers
failed to ignite.
"These tactics are to try and divert attention from themselves,"
secretary-general Tendai Biti of the Movement for Democratic Change told
reporters in Harare. "We are dealing with a desperate regime."
On state television on Wednesday night, police displayed explosives,
detonators and two handguns they alleged were found at the home of two
arrested opposition officials.
Police raided the party's headquarters in Harare on Wednesday, arresting top
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and least 60 officials and staff, Biti
Biti described the police allegations of an opposition terror campaign as
"crazy," adding "They wanted to create a case that Robert Mugabe would make
The party had campaigned through peaceful demonstrations and protests for
dialogue, reform and free and fair elections.
"Our youths are impatient, they are without jobs, but not withstanding this
we have restrained them," Biti said, blaming state agents, police and ruling
party militias for an upsurge in violence and a spate of abductions and
beatings this month across the country.
"What we are seeing is a low-key but highly intense war against the people,"
Human Rights Watch researcher Tiseke Kasambala also said Zimbabwe's
government was trying to portray the opposition as the main perpetrators of
"We believe the main perpetrators of violence are the government," she said
at a news conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, adding her organization
had no evidence of who was behind the bomb attacks but that they showed "the
violence is spiraling out of control."
Mugabe attended an emergency summit of the 12-nation Southern African
Development Community bloc in Tanzania, called by leaders concerned that
Zimbabwe's ongoing economic, political and humanitarian crises will further
hurt a region already hosting millions of Zimbabwean refugees.
At the summit Thursday, South African President Thabo Mbeki was appointed
the president of South Africa to mediate the crisis. The leaders decided "to
promote dialogue of the parties in Zimbabwe. There is no replacement to
that," said Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who chaired the meeting and
who had flown to Zimbabwe for talks earlier this month.
At a news conference in Harare Thursday, opposition lawmaker Felix Mashu
said he and dozens of others arrested at the offices were beaten and kicked
by police wielding riot sticks. Tsvangirai was not beaten, and was released
after several hours' detention to go to his doctor because he still was
suffering dizzy spells from alleged police beatings earlier this month,
party officials told reporters. There were fears earlier this month that
Tsvangirai's skull had been fractured.
Police denied arresting Tsvangirai on Wednesday.
Mashu said those arrested were taken to the main police Harare police
station, where many remained held in cells Thursday and denied access to
He said in assaults at the party headquarters police "made us lie on our
bellies and beat our backs, buttocks and feet."
Police told state media that they arrested 10 people at the party's
headquarters suspected of belonging to underground units the government has
called "democratic resistance committees."
The United States said Mugabe was trying to intimidate legitimate political
In Washington Wednesday, State Department spokesman Tom Casey also urged
southern African nations to make clear that Mugabe's actions in the recent
past are unacceptable. The U.S. comments echoed statements from the European
Mugabe, 83, is under growing pressure to step down as leader of the country
he has ruled since independence in 1980. Tensions are said to be rising in
his party over his succession, and the opposition blames him for the
country's corruption and acute shortages of food, hard currency and
March 29, 2007
Supposed evidence of a foiled terrorist bomb campaign 'found' by Zimbabwe
police is dismissed by the general population
Jan Raath in Harare
As evidence of a terror bomb campaign, it was both meagre and suspect. On
the table at a police press conference lay two pistols with two rounds of
ammunition, a knife, loudhailers, cans of spray paint, a clutch of red
whistles, opposition party T-shirts and 53 sticks of dynamite with
These were "similar to those used by the Zimbabwe National Army in demining
operations", police said. No explanation was offered as to how explosives
usually kept under strict security in army magazines had found their way to
"terrorists" of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Police
said that the items were picked up during Wednesday's swoop on MDC homes and
its headquarters in Harare, to seize culprits and equipment allegedly used
in nine petrol bombings since March 12.
No one I met yesterday believed the front page of the state propaganda
daily, The Herald, announcing the police claims. A contemptuous "aaah" was
the usual response. "They [police] were putting those things there
themselves," said Chenga Tsvisvo, an office messenger. But they were central
to President Mugabe's case yesterday at the Dar Es Salaam summit of Southern
Mr Mugabe's case is that the reason for the country's unfolding crisis is
the "orgies of violence unleashed by the MDC with the support of Britain and
America to achieve illegal regime change". It has nothing to do with the
brutal assault on opposition figures in the past month, the violent
trampling on dissent, the curfews, the bans on public meetings and the
collapse of the economy, he says.
"That huge operation by the police was organised just so Robert Mugabe could
go to Dar es Salaam and have something to persuade his neighbours," said
John Makumbe, a political commentator. "The only violence in this country is
by the police."
Mr Mugabe's Government has a reputation as a master of deception of
labyrinthine complexity to undermine his opponents. The most renowned was
the plot leading to the year-long treason trial of Morgan Tsvangirai, the
MDC leader, that started early in 2003, for allegedly trying to recruit
international support for Mr Mugabe's overthrow.
Only well into the trial did it emerge that Ari ben Menashe, a American, had
been paid $800,000 (£407,000) by the Government to pose as a "political
consultant", lure Mr Tsvangirai with promises of securing highest-level
international lobbying services and entrap him into a fake coup plot, after
which he could be hanged.
He was able to draw Mr Tsvangirai to a Toronto office where he was filmed by
secret cameras as Mr ben Menashe tried again and again to elicit the words
"violent overthrow" from him. Mr Tsvangirai did not oblige, the video and
tape quality was so poor that it was rejected by the court and Mr ben
Menashe was finally adjudged a charlatan, although he kept the Zimbabwean
taxpayers' $ 800,000.
The most cynical was the case of Cain Nkala, a senior member of Mr Mugabe's
war veteran militia, who was found strangled in a shallow grave outside the
western city of Bulawayo in 2001. Earlier, he had been talking to
journalists about the direct involvement of Mr Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party in
the murder of a local MDC official.
Police arrested six MDC activists and tortured admissions out of them and
they were sent to trial with the expectation of being found guilty. That
would have given Mr Mugabe the ammunition to declare the MDC a "terrorist
organisation" and ban it - and resolve the inconvenient murders of Mr Nkala
and the MDC official.
After a two-year trial, the judge dismissed the state case as "surreal,"
found that the six had been arrested for murder before Nkala was dead, and
that the police investigation records were "an appalling piece of fiction."
The judge also said that the entire affair had been organised by a shadowy
state security unit called "the ferret team", made up of intelligence
agents, army and police officers and war veterans. The Government was left
with the smoking gun that killed Nkala.
This month, The Herald claimed that Christopher Dell, the American
Ambassador, had met Mr Tsvangirai at a Harare hotel and handed over a
briefcase full of cash. Mr Dell responded that he had been at the Bulawayo
museum that day, and said that The Herald could confirm by checking the
visitors' book, if it had not already "torn out the page."
"They must realise," he said, "that to get the big lie right, they have to
get the little lies right."
JOHANNESBURG - A group of Zimbabwe opposition activists arrested in
police raids earlier this week were thoroughly beaten, lawyer Alec
Muchadehama said Thursday.
Nine members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were brought
to court in Harare on Thursday afternoon, the lawyer told Deutsche Presse
Agentur dpa. Their case was adjourned until Friday morning, he said.
"They're limping. They've all kinds of injuries. Some of them look as
though they have broken limbs," he said in a telephone interview.
"You can see bruises, you can see marks of baton sticks," he added.
The lawyer believes a number of other activists are still in custody
following overnight raids on Tuesday and the storming of the MDCs Harvest
House headquarters on Wednesday.
Police have told state media 35 people were arrested, but they have
refused to confirm figures to the oppositions lawyers.
"Police are not telling us anything meaningful. They're being totally
uncooperative," Muchadehama said.
He said police allowed him and a colleague to speak to seven of the
nine activists who appeared in court Thursday
All seven are facing charges of attempted murder and two are facing
separate charges of possessing explosives and firearms without a licence,
the lawyer said.
President Robert Mugabe's government says the MDC is a terrorist
organization after a spate of petrol bombings in the last three weeks.
But the MDC says the attacks are the works of state agents as the
authorities try to portray the opposition as a violent party.
President Robert Mugabe is out of country attending a special meeting
of the Southern African Development Community in Tanzania called by regional
leaders concerned about the growing economic and political unrest in the
southern African country. -Sapa-dpa
The crisis in Zimbabwe demands an urgent resolution...
George B.N. Ayittey, Wall Street Journal
29 March 2007
The atrocities against opposition leaders in Zimbabwe earlier this month, in
which they were beaten and jailed and their passports seized, drew
world-wide condemnation. Even Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who
heretofore had been silent, described Zimbabwe as a "sinking Titanic" which
millions of its citizens were abandoning. Further, he assailed South
Africa's ineffective policy of "quiet diplomacy" toward President Robert
Mugabe, saying it has not produced results.
The crisis in Zimbabwe demands an urgent resolution. The economy has
virtually collapsed. Inflation is running at 1,700%. There are rampant
shortages of nearly all essential necessities. Unemployment rages at 70% and
HIV/AIDS ravages the population. Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party is impervious to
reason and international condemnation. The ruling party does not see the
failures of its own policies, preferring to blame the West and past
colonialism for Zimbabwe's woes.
Past efforts to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, such as the "smart sanctions"
by the U.S. and the European Union, failed because they appealed to the good
sense of the Mugabe regime to initiate change. But the depth of the crisis
in Zimbabwe is such that the government alone cannot solve it; nor can the
main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, or any individual
or political party. Hence, it must take the collective action of all
Zimbabweans. Fortunately, Zimbabwe does not have to re-invent the wheel. A
mechanism for such grassroots democracy, known as the "sovereign national
conference," already exists in Africa, having been derived from the
continent's indigenous institution of the village meeting.
Such a meeting is a common feature of traditional African political systems:
It is called asetena kese by the Ashanti of Ghana, ama ala by the Igbo of
Nigeria, guurti by the Somali, pitso by the Xhosa of South Africa, ndaba by
the Zulu and kgotla by the Tswana of Botswana. When a crisis erupts in a
traditional African village, the chief and the elders summon a village
meeting and put the issue before the people. The issue is debated until a
consensus is reached. During the debate, the chief makes no effort to
manipulate the outcome or sway public opinion. Nor do bazooka-wielding
rogues try to intimidate or instruct people on what to say -- as the
Janjaweed do in Darfur. People express their ideas openly and freely without
fear of arrest. No one is locked out of the process. Once a decision is
reached, it is binding on all, including the chief.
In the early 1990s, this indigenous African institution was revived by
pro-democracy forces in the form of "sovereign national conferences" to
chart a new political future in Benin, the Cape Verde Islands, Congo
(Brazzaville), Malawi, Mali, South Africa and Zambia. Benin's nine-day
"national conference" began on Feb 19, 1990, with 488 delegates representing
various political, religious, trade and other groups. The conference, whose
chairman was Father Isidore de Souza, held "sovereign power" and its
decisions were binding on all, including the government. It stripped
President Matthieu Kerekou of power and scheduled multiparty elections that
ended 17 years of autocratic Marxist rule.
The national conference in Congo (Brazzaville) had more delegates -- some
1,500 -- and lasted longer -- three months. But when it ended in June 1991,
the 12-year-old government of Gen. Denis Sassou-Nguesso had been dismantled.
The constitution was rewritten, and the nation's first free elections were
scheduled for June 1992. Before the conference, Congo was among Africa's
most avowedly Marxist-Leninist states. When the national conference ended, a
Western business executive told the New York Times, "The remarkable thing is
that the revolution occurred without a single shot being fired...(and) if it
can happen here, it can happen anywhere."
In South Africa, the vehicle used to make the difficult but peaceful
transition to a multiracial, democratic society was the Convention for a
Democratic South Africa, or Codesa. It began deliberations in July 1991,
with 228 delegates drawn from about 25 political parties and various
anti-apartheid groups. The de Klerk government made no effort to "control"
the composition of Codesa. Even ultra right-wing political groups were
invited, though they chose to boycott the deliberations. Codesa strove to
reach a "working consensus" on an interim constitution and set a date for
the March 1994 elections. It established the composition of a transitional
government that would rule until the elections were held. More important,
Codesa was "sovereign": Its decisions were binding on the government.
President Frederick de Klerk could not abrogate any decision made by Codesa,
just as an African chief could not disregard any decision arising from a
What propelled the leaders in all three countries in this direction was the
threat of a halt in foreign aid and severe sanctions should they not try to
resolve their crises internally. This threat emboldened pro-democracy
activists to demand to be part of the process.
President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana, in his capacity as the new chairman
of the African Union, should enjoin all member states to insist on the
convocation of a national conference in Zimbabwe, and not simply ask Mr.
Mugabe and opposition activists to "talk to one another" as he's done so
far. The Southern African Development Community, which meets today, should
also insist on this. SADC and AU sanctions should be imposed if the Mugabe
regime fails to comply. Such sanctions may include the blockade of
land-locked Zimbabwe by its neighbors and a cut-off of electricity by South
Alpha Oumar Konaré, the chairman of the African Union Commission and a
former president of Mali, is fed up with the old policy of "noninterference
in the internal affairs of member states." He wants this policy replaced
with "nonindifference." At the January meeting of the AU Executive Council
in Addis Ababa, he warned: "We have to assume our principle of
nonindifference [defined as] courteous and united interference [in member
countries]. If we cannot tell the truth, we are heading for disaster."
Indeed, the alternate scenario is horrific. If nothing is done in Zimbabwe,
there will be a complete meltdown and implosion, as was the case in Liberia
(1991), Somalia (1993), Rwanda (1994), Burundi (1993), Zaire (1996), Sierra
Leone (1999), Ivory Coast (2000) and Togo (2005). The cost of rebuilding and
putting Zimbabwe back together will be enormous. Thus it is a question of
acting now or paying a much higher price later.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Mail and Guardian
Thijs van der Post and Sapa | Johannesburg, South Africa
29 March 2007 03:31
Violence conducted by Zimbabwe's security forces is spreading as
they randomly beat up members of the public while swooping through
neighbourhoods on the lookout for opposition supporters, Human Rights Watch
(HRW) said on Thursday.
"There is a broader element of repression that is taking place
at the moment ... We have documented cases of ordinary Zimbabweans becoming
victims of the Zimbabwe security forces," HRW researcher Tiseke Kasambala
told reporters in Johannesburg as she presented the findings of her two-week
The New York-based HRW documented examples of increased police
brutality during a recent field trip to the troubled Southern African
country and warned that the unrest is only likely to intensify.
"Police forces have been going door-to-door beating people up in
their homes. The main reason we found for this [the beatings] is that they
are accused of supporting the Movement for Democratic Change [MDC]," she
Kasambala told the story of how one family, who were not
supporters of the MDC, were viciously beaten by police who had accused them
of being followers of the main opposition party.
She noted examples of citizens being taken away by police and
being brutalised for having suspected links to the opposition party.
"We recorded a spate of abductions of innocent civilians," she
Tapera Kapuya, coordinator of the National Constitutional
Assembly in South Africa, confirms the violence and abductions and speaks of
a systematic pattern. "We are beginning to notice that there is a systematic
pattern of abduction and brutal violence and that the attacks are much more
profound in the urban townships and rural areas around Matapela."
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has come in for widespread
international condemnation over the arrest and subsequent assault of dozens
of MDC activists, including party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, earlier this
Kasambala said that the government's hard-line tactics are only
likely to further inflame the situation in a country where unemployment now
stands at about 80% and food shortages are widespread.
"People are getting angry. The abuses taking place are only
going to lead to further violence and unrest in Zimbabwe," she said.
29 Mar 2007 15:00:33 GMT
By Paul Simao
JOHANNESBURG, March 29 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean police are beating up people
suspected of supporting the main opposition party as a crackdown on dissent
spreads beyond political circles, a researcher with Human Rights Watch said
Tiseke Kasambala, who earlier this month visited Zimbabwe for the U.S.-based
human rights group, said she had met Zimbabweans who were savagely abused by
police after being accused of ties to the Movement for Democratic Change
"The police have been going door-to-door beating people up," Kasambala said
in a news conference in Johannesburg a day after she returned from a
two-week research trip to the politically volatile southern African nation.
"The crackdown has spread. It is not just targeted at the opposition but
also at ordinary Zimbabweans," she said.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe met Southern African leaders in Tanzania at
a special summit on Thursday to address Zimbabwe's crisis. Western leaders
are urging a tough response.
In Harare, MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti accused Mugabe's government of
carrying out more than 250 assaults over the last few weeks as well as
abductions of opposition officials and civilians as part of a "guerrilla"
war to hang on to power.
"A low-key, high-intensity war has been unleashed by the state on civilians
... the state is behaving like a guerrilla outfit," Biti said in a news
conference on Thursday at MDC headquarters in the capital Harare.
"Hundreds, and this is not a metaphor, of lower level officials are being
abducted ...," said the senior MDC official, who took reporters on a tour of
the party's offices, which he said were vandalised by police during a raid
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other MDC activists were briefly arrested
Wednesday afternoon shortly before they were to hold a news conference.
Authorities said the arrests were in connection with a spate of petrol
It was the second time in less than a month that police had detained
Tsvangirai and other opposition members. The MDC leader and dozens of others
said they were beaten in police custody after an aborted March 11
anti-Mugabe protest in Harare.
The Zimbabwean capital remains the focal point of the MDC's campaign to oust
Mugabe. Kasambala said police and government intelligence officers patrolled
in large numbers in the city, concentrating on crowded neighbourhoods.
"Security agents are everywhere," she said.
The police repression has drawn sharp international protests and renewed
calls for African nations to tackle Mugabe's 27-year rule in Zimbabwe, which
now faces its worst economic crisis in decades along with escalating
In power since independence from Britain in 1980, the 83-year-old Mugabe
says he is the victim of a Western-sponsored campaign to overthrow his
government in retribution for his policy of seizing white-owned farms to
give to landless blacks.
Human Rights Watch was among those to call on the Southern African
Develoment Community (SADC), which includes Zimbabwe's influential neighbour
South Africa, to condemn the violence in Harare and urge Mugabe to
investigate the allegations of police brutality and rights abuses.
"Zimbabwe is a threat to stability and peace in the southern Africa region,"
Kasambala said. "The crisis is almost reaching a breaking point."
(Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka in Harare) (Johannesburg bureau 27 11
775 3165; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition party denied it was stockpiling
weapons or waging a terror campaign, as state media reported that police had
seized weapons and explosives at the party's headquarters during a raid.
The top leader of the Movement for Democratic Change was freed after
being held by police for several hours after Wednesday's raid, party
officials added Thursday. Police denied arresting Morgan Tsvangirai as he
prepared to talk to reporters about a wave of political violence that left
him briefly hospitalized. Another news conference was scheduled Thursday,
though it was unclear whether Tsvangirai would appear.
Police told state media that they had seized weapons and explosive and
arrested 10 activists at the party's headquarters in Harare. On state
television on Wednesday night, police displayed explosives, detonators and
two handguns that they alleged were found at the home of two arrested
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said police found 53 sticks of
dynamite and 35 detonators in the Harare home of one of the officials,
"We are not witch-hunting. We are carrying out investigations and they
are very thorough," he said.
Bvudzijena said the dynamite was similar to that used in a gasoline
attack on a train Friday, in which five people were injured.
"The MDC does not have any arsenal of weapons or armed movement, the
story is not credible," Tsvangirai's aide, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, said.
He said the opposition was not waging an armed terror campaign against
the government, as police claimed. Police had said they arrested a total of
35 opposition members in recent days, saying they belonged to "democratic
Alec Mmuchadehama, a lawyer acting for the opposition, said the legal
team was investigating the reported arrests but had been denied access to
The United States said Mugabe was trying to intimidate legitimate
In Washington Wednesday, State Department spokesman Tom Casey also
urged southern African nations to make clear that Mugabe's actions in the
recent past are unacceptable. He should be called to account, Casey said,
for his misrule "not only over the last few weeks but over the last few
The U.S. comments echoed statements from the European Union and Human
Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch called on a regional meeting opening
Thursday to take strong measures to address the escalating crisis.
State radio said Mugabe left for Tanzania Wednesday to attend the
meeting of the Southern African Development Community on the political
turmoil in Zimbabwe amid concerns the crisis could threaten regional
stability. Ruling party spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira told state radio Mugabe
would brief the Tanzania meeting about violence in the country and the
arrests of activists.
Before leaving, Mugabe held a meeting of his politburo, the ruling
party's highest policy-making body, to discuss whether to hold national
elections in 2008 or 2010.
Shamuyarira said Mugabe, who has pushed for a delay until 2010 that
would lengthen his rule, expressed willingness to run if nominated.
Mugabe, 83, is under growing pressure to step down as leader of the
country he has ruled since independence in 1980. Tensions are said to be
rising in his party over his succession, and the opposition blames him for
the country's corruption and acute shortages of food, hard currency and
International attention to Zimbabwe's ongoing crisis increased when
Tsvangirai, 54, and other opposition activists were beaten by police
breaking up a March 11 prayer meeting organized by opposition, church,
student and civic groups. Tsvangirai's supporters said police smashed his
head against a wall repeatedly, and pictures of his swollen, gashed head
were seen around the world.
The European Union and others criticized Zimbabwe at the U.N. Human
Rights Council on Thursday.
The violent suppression of demonstrators and political activists "have
no place in any society," said Ambassador Michael Steiner of Germany,
speaking on behalf of the 27-nation EU and over 20 other countries that
aligned themselves with the statement.
Britain, France, Netherlands and Switzerland also criticized Zimbabwe
in separate statements. South Africa stressed the importance of ongoing
dialogue, citing the regional meeting in Tanzania. - Sapa-AP.
Last updated 29/03/2007 15:42:51
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke has urged Zimbabwean judges to rein in
President Robert Mugabe's excesses and resist his attempt to trample upon
the independence of the judiciary. The Constitutional Court judge said his
counterparts in Zimbabwe could "count on our judiciary for the kind of
solidarity and support that may facilitate the restoration of a truly
democratic process in that country". He was speaking last night at Wits
University in Johannesburg, where he was installed as chancellor, succeeding
world-renowned jurist Richard Goldstone. His comments come amid an economic
meltdown, deteriorating living standards in Zimbabwe and political
repression aimed at any resistance against Mugabe, which resulted in the
rearrest of opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday. The South
African government has so far maintained a "quiet diplomacy" stance. But
Moseneke told academics and other guests, who included first lady Zanele
Mbeki and ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma, that "I would be entirely remiss
if as a judge in this country I were to assume a pose of convenient silence
on the difficult circumstances of our northern neighbour, Zimbabwe". He
reminded Zimbabwean judges that their independence could nudge that country
towards a democratic dispensation. He also warned South Africa to take heed
of how a badly implemented land reform policy could turn chaotic, stressing
that land was a vital socio-economic issue but had to be tackled within the
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2007 9:44 PM
Subject: Police Vandalism
I understand that Harvest House has been seriously damaged by the Police
during their raid yesterday morning. The damage runs to many millions of
dollars and in addition every computer has been either disabled or removed
from the premises. In addition even commercial tenants of the building were
Still no sign of Ian Makoni and his wife - but this morning the State media
carry a front page story alleging that he was responsible for acts of
sabotage and arson and claiming that they found unregistered firearms (a
pistol) as well as explosives and communications equipment. Most damaging
was the discovery of a box of plastic whistles!!
Well lets hope they bring Ian to Court as soon as possible and then produce
the evidence they claim to have. The MDC has never and never would use
violence as a means of regime change in Zimbabwe.
12.45 29th March 2007
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
March 29, 2007
Posted to the web March 29, 2007
Poverty levels around the world are usually measured against the value of
one United States (US) dollar a day, but calculating that value in Zimbabwe
can be a nightmare; one US dollar is officially pegged at Zim$250, but in
the parallel market it will buy Zim$25,000.
If you convert money at the official rate, then Zim$250 can only buy a
sweet, which cannot sustain life anywhere; in Zimbabwe it is not even enough
to buy a banana, which costs Zim$600 (US$0.02 at the parallel market
exchange rate), nor is it enough for a one-way ticket to town by
minibus-taxi, which can set you back by Zim$5,000 (US$0.20).
It is on this meagre amount of Zim$25,000 a day that Zimbabweans struggle to
beat the cost of living and feed their families in an economy with the
world's highest annual inflation rate - more than 1,700 - where the prices
of basic commodities shoot up by significant amounts every week.
Portia Shiri, an accounts clerk at one of the country's leading clothing
retail stores, says she is lucky she has not started a family. "I earn
[Zim]$100,000 (US$4) a month, and if I had children I shudder to imagine how
I would feed, clothe and educate them." Her transport to work costs
Zim$200,000 (US$8) a month, double what she earns. Besides this, she still
has to fork out Zim$50,000 (US$2) every month on rent for her room.
Most of us have resorted to walking to and from work," said a tired Shiri.
The downside to walking the 14km to work is that shoes wear out quickly and
are too expensive to replace.
"At work I need to eat but my workmates and I have resorted to skipping
lunch because the cheapest take-away snack costs [Zim]$5,000 (about
US$0.20), which means I would have to cough up an extra [Zim]$110,000
(US$4.40) every month. We have started making jokes about our eating habits,
and if people eat breakfast, skip lunch and then have their supper we liken
it to a football formation of 1-0-1. The toughest among our group endures
the 0-0-1 football formation, in which they skip breakfast and lunch, and
then have a meal in the evening."
Shiri has not even taken into account the monthly groceries yet. Essentials
such as a two-litre container of cooking oil costs Zim$60,000 (US$2.40) and
a 10kg bag of the staple food, maizemeal, costs Zim$30,000 (US$1.20), which
together amount to almost her whole salary.
"There are so many things which we forego, and this includes decent clothing
... we have to devise methods of ensuring that we continue to go to work,
because this keeps us going in the face of economic hardships," she added.
Food when available is unaffordable
Washing clothes is also too expensive; a single bar of soap, imported from
South Africa, costs Zim$33,000 (US$1.30). Most household essentials are
sourced from South Africa as many manufacturers have either closed down or
relocated to other countries in the region.
Like many others, Shiri tries to make ends meet by selling household or food
items to neighbours and friends, and collects payments at the end of the
month. "When exhaustion sets in, we just take a day off and lose wages,
depending on the number of days taken off."
Josphat and Charity
When Josphat Hove, 36, qualified as a male nurse in the mid 1990s, his
family celebrated because nursing was a highly paid profession. He married
Charity, a primary school teacher, and a year later moved to the
middle-class suburb of Ashdown Park, in the capital, Harare, where they
rented a house.
The couple came from impoverished homes but had been educated by
missionaries; they decided to fund the education of their siblings and
cousins. "At the time, life was affordable and we were so proud to be giving
back to the community, and we had hoped that after six years we would then
start saving for our house. By 2001 it became clear that we would not be
able to buy our own house," he said.
A few years later, with three children and earning a combined salary of
Zim$1.1 million (US$44.00), the couple may be millionaires but are
struggling to make ends meet. They were forced to park their old vehicle
when fuel reached Zim$22,000 (US$0.88) per litre and became unaffordable.
They had been the envy of their relatives when they moved to the relatively
affluent suburb of Ashdown Park. "We cannot move out of the neighbourhood
and seek cheaper lodgings elsewhere because our children attend the nearby
schools, which means we can cut down on their transport costs. However, the
price we have to pay is that rentals alone account for Zim$500,000 (US$20) a
Admitting that his family was living from hand to mouth, Hove said
electricity and water chewed up $200,000 (US$8) of their monthly income.
Their transport costs came to a whopping Zim$400,000 (US$16), wiping out
their combined earnings, which meant they had to seek money for food and
general expenses in other ways.
We have started making jokes about our eating habits, and if people eat
breakfast, skip lunch and then have their supper we liken it to a football
formation of 1-0-1
"My wife has become very innovative because of the hardships and she sells
cakes and sweets to her pupils," he said. "In addition, she buys foreign
currency from our meagre earnings, which she uses to travel to South Africa
and buy scarce commodities, which she brings back home for resale. She sets
aside a small portion for our consumption. I also run a small but thriving
garden of green vegetables, from which I supply the local neighbourhood. My
other free time is spent at a local doctor's surgery, where I do part-time
Most working-class Zimbabweans can no longer afford simple luxuries like
going to a movie. Taking a stroll on the evenings when they can find time to
be together is about all they can afford. For their three young sons, a ball
fashioned out of plastic shopping bags provides all the entertainment they
Peter and Susan
In the nearby affluent suburb of Malbereign, Peter Kuwaza works as a
gardener at a large house, where his wife, Susan, is employed as a maid.
Their combined earnings amount to Zim$200,000 (US$8). They are fortunate to
have generous employers, who provide most of their food and toiletry
Their children live with their grandparents in Gokwe district in the central
province of Midlands, but the couple are unable to visit them regularly: a
one way ticket costs Zim$70,000 (US$2.80).
Susan Kuwaza misses her children. "When we get paid, we buy as much as our
meagre wages can buy. We store the groceries, then take them to our children
at the end of the year. As a mother, I would like to see my children as
regularly as possible but I cannot afford to look after them in Harare."
In January, when they failed to return from their annual visit to Gokwe,
their concerned employer feared the worst and travelled to Gokwe, where he
found them stranded because bus fares had gone up.
With hunger stalking Zimbabwe, the Kuwazas say they are happy to work for
food to feed themselves and their children.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
29/03/2007 18:54 - (SA)
Dar Es Salaam - A top Zimbabwean official defied Western criticism of
embattled President Robert Mugabe on Thursday and said the country was
expecting economic help from southern African leaders meeting here.
"We have no time for the EU, no time for the Americans or any other group
outside Africa except for African friends," said Mugabe's spokesperson
Western countries, which have already slapped a broad array of sanctions on
Mugabe's regime, have increasingly criticised what they consider to be
violations of human rights in Zimbabwe, especially since the arrest and
beating of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai earlier this month.
Leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) met
on Thursday in Tanzania to discuss Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
"One outcome is that this (SADC) conference will take a position, a position
to make available a package on the basis on which Zimbabwe will be able to
withstand sanctions," said Charamba.
"Regional countries are saying let us set up something (a fund) to help
Zimbabwe. This is what this conference is about. We expect a statement in
solidarity with Zimbabwe."
The calling of the emergency summit led many to speculate that the African
leaders may harden their position regarding Mugabe's regime. Up to now their
criticism has remained muted, compared with Western condemnation.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, hosting the SADC summit, denied on
Thursday that the African leaders would put pressure on Mugabe.
"We do not worry about the shrill from Britain, America and the EU. We worry
about African opinion," said Charamba.
"This is why we are subjecting ourselves to SADC judgment. We will never go
to the EU for judgment. Our ex-colonisers are our enemies and they will have
to be defeated."
Mugabe has ruled the former British colony of Zimbabwe since independence in
Since the end of the 1990s, Mugabe has led an often-violent campaign against
his detractors and an economic policy that has plunged his country into deep
International Herald Tribune
By Michael Wines Published: March 29, 2007
HARARE: To those who ask how long President Robert Mugabe can remain in
control of Zimbabwe, given its wildfire inflation, the growing desperation
of average people and the opposition's increasingly open hatred of the
government, a former member of that government has an answer: Longer than
one might think.
"You ask me what I think, and I think that he will not go," said the former
official, who was once a loyal lieutenant in Parliament and remains a member
of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. "Everyone wants him to go. In the party, everyone
wants him to be gone. But who will stand against him? He is too powerful.
"You put my name in your newspaper and I am dead. That is how powerful he
There is a potent whiff of Potemkin in Zimbabwe now. Mugabe, the nation's
only leader since white rule ended 27 years ago, boasts of crushing his
critics and riding popular adulation to a new term as president next year.
But his bravado is belied by everyday scenes here: the 13 Chinese-made water
cannons that encircled the Sunday soccer match between Zimbabwe Morocco,
poised to put down rioting; the warnings on state radio to "leave politics
to the politicians"; the crackdown in urban slums, where the police break up
gatherings of more than four or five people and arrest anyone who is spotted
carrying gasoline, apparently fearing it may be used in firebombs.
Among political analysts and dissidents alike, Mugabe's situation is reduced
to a single buzzword: "endgame." He presides over a nation crushed by
inflation of about 1,700 percent and a flat-lining economy. Ordinary people
revile him, his ruling party grasps for a way to force him from office, and
even Mugabe's southern African neighbors, long his enablers, are meeting
with him in Tanzania this week, hoping to ease him into retirement, many
Yet, despite all that, it is unclear how easily anyone can pry loose
Mugabe's grip on power.
In interviews here, politicians aligned with the government, opposition
leaders, an army deserter and a former police official all described a
rising tide of unhappiness in the political and security organs that sustain
Mugabe's rule. Many acknowledged the possibility of his departure, but none
said he believed that either the political opposition or elements of
Mugabe's own government had the will or ability to topple him - at least for
The governing bodies of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front, as ZANU-PF is known, are expected to endorse Mugabe's bid to run
again for president at meetings this week, despite deep dissatisfaction with
his rule. Nor do the police and military appear to be abandoning him, even
though conditions are so bad that soldiers, for example, must buy light
bulbs for their own barracks.
"Most of the police I interact with, they hate the government," said the
former police official, who recently left his post. "But they will carry out
orders, most of them. I think the police are loyal. They have been in this
position before, and they have shown great resilience."
The source of Mugabe's longevity is no secret. The former police official
and others described a system of perquisites that keeps government officials
and political allies personally beholden to Mugabe, and an arsenal of
threats and reprisals that keeps potential dissenters from acting out their
Mugabe long ago won the loyalty of a powerful force - the guerrillas who
fought in Zimbabwe's liberation struggle in the 1970s - by granting them
huge pension bonuses and, in 2000, allowing them to seize the nation's best
farmland from white commercial farmers. Since then, the veterans have become
a rogue force in Zimbabwe politics, staging raids on the homes of opposition
members and beating and intimidating government critics before elections at
times of political tension.
But the land seizures served another purpose as well: Countless officials in
government, Parliament, the judiciary, the military and the police have been
given their own farms as a reward for their loyalty to Mugabe - and stand to
lose their land should they stray.
The village headmen and other traditional leaders who serve as a second
government in Zimbabwe's rural areas have automobiles or other vehicles,
courtesy of the government. So do all ranking police and military officers,
to the dismay of some who serve beneath them. Crossing Mugabe would mean the
loss of those and an array of other perks.
One 23-year-old Zimbabwean fled last year with nine other conscripts from
Unit 21, an army barracks in Mutoka, about 90 miles, or 55 kilometers,
"I decided to quit because of the situation - money, transport costs,
working conditions," he said. "There was a shortage of food, even of mealie
meal," the ground corn that is Zimbabwe's staple food, he said. "But the top
officer," a lieutenant general, "has kids. They don't pay school fees. He
has a car. He has free fuel. He has a farm. And sometimes, when we didn't
have anything to do, we were taken to his farm to do work. I did plowing."
Such grievances, combined with miserable pay - a policeman's monthly salary
will not buy a tank of gasoline - have pushed military desertions and police
resignations to record levels, people in all camps here said. But the
turnover, too, works to the government's advantage, they said: New recruits
are not disaffected, and in a nation where 8 in 10 workers are jobless, they
are desperate to hold on to even a meager paycheck.
"Most of these people took these jobs as a last resort," said the former
police official, "and the government is well aware of that. They are not
going to refuse to carry out an order."
Two weeks ago, police officers rounded up scores of opposition protesters
who sought to hold a banned meeting, took them to Harare jails and beat them
severely, sending many to hospitals. For their work, the former police
official said, the officers were paid bonuses of 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars a
day, or about $5.
Virtually every Zimbabwean interviewed suggested that Mugabe's authority
might in fact be a fiction that would fold in the face of a real public
challenge or a revolt within ZANU-PF. The police and the military would not
flinch at gunning down 200 demonstrators if ordered, they said; shooting at
10,000 might be another matter.
"Maybe if people demonstrate for real, showing that they are angry, the
soldiers will have a chance to turn against the government," the army
deserter said, echoing others. "But people fear too much."
So do the rank and file of Mugabe's ruling party.
"He has files on everyone," the former member of Parliament said, "and if
anyone expresses dissent, those files come out. 'You did this, or you did
that,' and you are ruined - just like that."
"Maybe something unnatural will happen," he said. "Maybe a bomb will fall
from the sky."
Institute for War & Peace
Derelict properties of first two white farmers murdered in Zimbabwe mirror
the country's agricultural collapse.
By Fred Bridgland in Harare (AR No. 105, 29-Mar-07)
Near the 66-year-old Nhowe Mission school and hospital more than 100
kilometres southeast of Harare, David Stevens became the first white farmer
to die in Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's controversial and economically
disastrous "land reform" programme.
Under Mugabe's reforms, land was forcibly taken from white commercial
farmers and redistributed to landless blacks in the hope that they would
begin an agricultural and social revolution.
But today David Stevens' Arizona Farm, once one of the country's most
successful tobacco-producing operations, is derelict, its buildings
collapsing and its fields reduced to a vista of tall weeds and encroaching
Two journalists from one of the country's last independent newspapers, the
weekly Zimbabwe Independent, have been investigating what happened to the
farms of the first two white farmers to be killed under Mugabe's reforms.
Augustine Mukaro went to Arizona Farm to assess what has happened to it
since Stevens was beaten and tied up with wire in a police station on April
15, 2000 by so-called war veterans, a vigilante group personally loyal to
Mugabe. Stevens and his black foreman, Julius Andoche, were then taken from
the police station by the war vets into the bush where both were shot dead.
Loughty Dube went to Compensation Farm, on the other side of Zimbabwe, some
500 kilometres southwest of Arizona Farm, where, three days after Stevens'
murder, the owner, Martin Olds, was battered with iron rods by the
vigilantes before being shot dead. As in the Stevens case, police refused to
go to Olds' help.
Dube reported that all the infrastructure on Compensation Farm, which was a
thriving safari and wild animal conservation operation, is burned out and
abandoned. All the animals, including a herd of rare sable antelope and
Olds' herd of 1,000 pedigree cattle, have been killed for the pot. Peasant
subsistence farmers settled by the government on the land in mud and wattle
huts have been unable to produce crops because the government has failed to
provide them with irrigation equipment, in a notoriously dry area, or other
inputs necessary for minimal agricultural production.
Mukaro's and Dube's discoveries on Arizona and Compensation Farms only
mirror what is clear to the naked eye in a country that until the beginning
of this century was dubbed the breadbasket of Africa. For hundreds of
kilometres, on once prime farms there are no workers in the fields, no
stands of ripening maize, no smoke coming from the flues of tobacco barns,
and no cattle or sheep getting fat on the grass that still grows tall.
Indeed, little sign of life or production at all.
The United Nations recently launched a 215 million US dollar appeal for food
aid for Zimbabwe amid grim projections that this season's grain yields - in
a country that once exported to its neighbours - will only represent half
the nation's annual requirements.
With severe drought exacerbating the crisis, Lovemore Moyo, deputy chairman
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said, "People in the rural
areas are on the brink of starvation. The strongest may survive this - the
others won't, as long as ZANU PF [Mugabe's ruling party] uses food as an
Mugabe and ZANU PF have been widely accused of withholding international
food aid from people who do not possess ZANU PF membership cards.
The initial land invaders, mostly war veterans, were themselves pushed from
the farms so that they could be redistributed to top ZANU PF party
officials, senior army, air force and police officers and compliant judges
and journalists. Few of the powerful and privileged "new farmers" are
producing crops while the rest lack the skills to produce even on a
subsistence level, deputy agriculture minister Sylvester Nguni recently
Visiting Stevens' Arizona Farm, once recommended by the Commercial Farmers
Union as a model to be replicated throughout the country, Mukaro said he
found the main working compound burned to the ground and deserted.
"Everything looks run down and deserted," said the reporter.
"The dereliction makes any right-minded person question whether the people
who abducted and murdered Stevens in 2000 were driven by hunger for land or
simply inspired by greed and racial hatred. Over and above all, did they
really desire land for farming?
"People in the area know who killed Stevens, but the police have never
questioned the man."
Mukaro said the wasteland that today marks Arizona and all surrounding farms
illustrates how the new farmers were "dumped on farmland without the
necessary equipment, knowledge or financial backing to prepare them to take
over from the fleeing whites.
"The farmers are failing to utilise the land in the same manner as the
previous owners. Most said they had no resources such as draught power or
Mukaro met the only current occupant of Arizona Farm, Marian Shangwe, who
has taken occupancy of the farmhouse - all windows broken and paint peeling
off after seven years of neglect - to sell beer to teachers from Nhowe
Mission. "All teachers come to drink from here," said Shangwe. "Nhowe as an
institution owned by the [United States-headquartered] Church of Christ does
not allow the sale of beer from their premises, so teachers have nowhere
else to go."
To date, no one has been arrested or prosecuted for the murder of Olds. The
same applies to his 72-year-old mother, Gloria, whose body, riddled with
bullets, was discovered on the neighbouring Silver Springs Farm two years
after her son's murder.
On Compensation Farm, devoid of wild animals, cattle and crops, Dube spoke
to Thulani Mupande, a middle-aged man who was moved on to the farm with his
family shortly after Olds was killed.
Mupande said life was difficult because the government had not fulfilled its
promises to drill boreholes to support crops. Mupande said most of the "new
settlers" had quit the farm, taking with them engines installed by Olds to
pump water for his cattle.
"We are all praying that it rains, but the skies are not opening up," said
Mupande. "We are all going to starve again this year if it does not rain.
Most people left a long time ago because there is no hospital or clinic
around and the only school is twenty kilometres away."
Chris Jarrett, former chairman of the local farmers association, told Dube
that most of the people who were moved on to Compensation Farm left after
all the wild animals and beef cattle had been killed. "Olds had a thriving
safari business," said Jarrett. "There were thousands of sable and impala on
the farm but all were hunted by the war veterans when they moved into
Compensation. Now there is absolutely nothing.
"The situation is sad. Commercial farmers in Nyamandlovu [the district in
which the Olds farm is located] were supplying the whole country with
butternuts, tomatoes, beetroot, maize, tobacco, paprika, onions and
cabbages. But now all you get from these farmers is a few buckets of maize."
On the other side of the country, Mukaro quoted an agricultural expert as
saying, "Nationally, agricultural output has predictably declined,
relegating government efforts to a national joke.
"The major constraint to increased productivity is the uncertainty of tenure
where farmers are evicted on a daily basis. Continued acquisition notices
[confiscating farms by decree], disruptions, acts of violence on farms and
lack of land-based collateral are some of the problems farmers face."
Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 14:33
Berlin (dpa) - The European Union is to discuss expanding its travel
sanctions against senior Zimbabwean officials in President Robert Mugabe's
government, a top Berlin official said Thursday during a snap parliamentary
debate on the Zimbabwe crisis.
Gernot Erler, state minister at the Foreign Ministry, said concern was
growing among Zimbabwe's African neighbours.
European Union (EU) diplomatic missions in Africa were in constant contact
with African governments about the crisis.
The EU had this month twice condemned actions by the Mugabe regime and heads
of the Africa desks at EU members' foreign ministries would meet April 18.
Consideration would be given in Brussels to banning entry by a wider group
of Zimbabwe officials.
Explaining to the Bundestag parliament that Germany, currently in charge of
EU diplomacy during its six-month presidency, was wary of antagonizing
Africans, he said, "We should regard this strengthening African reaction as
"We have to prevent Mugabe driving a wedge between the European Union and
his neighbours," he added.
Legislators from all the parties in the Bundestag slammed the Mugabe
government for corruption, impoverishing its people and using violence
against political opponents. Several said they had admired Mugabe when he
first came to power, but had lost faith in him.
Hartwig Fischer of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats said, "I
believe that at the time he was the right leader. Much that he did in his
first years of government was good, but then the decline came."
Another Christian Democrat, Arnold Vaatz, traced Zimbabwe's collapse to
Mugabe's botched takeover of white farmers' land.
"Nobody in this chamber will deny that a land reform was necessary," said
Vaatz, "but it should never have been a land reform that reduced output to
30 per cent of its previous level."
Christoph Straesser of the Social Democrats, the other party in Merkel's
coalition, said Mugabe had run Zimbabwe down to the point where every second
person in the population did not have enough to eat.
Social Democrat Herta Daeubler-Gmelin said the "end of interference" by
Europe in Africa's affairs had to give way this time to an "end of
indifference" to African problems.
Huseyin-Kenan Aydin of the Left Party called for elections in Zimbabwe and
an end to bans on free assembly, saying the removal of Mugabe had to come
By Tererai Karimakwenda
29 March 2007
University students in Zimbabwe have said the mass stay-away organized by
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is an event that will benefit the
whole country and should be supported by all Zimbabweans. Beloved Chiweshe,
secretary general of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), said a
national meeting was held last week and the students resolved to do
everything within their power to make to make sure the ZCTU stay-away was a
The mass action scheduled for April 3-4 is the result of government's
chronic mis-management of the economy and the destruction of it's
agricultural base. With the world's highest inflation rate all workers are
battling to survive on wages that are generally below the poverty datum
line. The ZCTU gave government a deadline earlier this year but so far no
real attempt has been made to resolve this crisis.
Chiweshe said ZINASU represents students who become workers the moment they
graduate and they will have to face this shrinking labour force and
collapsing economy. This is why it is important for them to assist the ZCTU
now before they leave school. Chiweshe also said their parents are
struggling to pay unaffordable fees, accommodation and food while earning
wages below the poverty datum line.
Asked if there were any negotiations or progress being made by government to
resolve the students' issues, Chiweshe said no such discussions were going
on. Explaining further he said: "If recent developments are anything to go
by, they show we have a government which does not have ears and does not
listen, not only to its citizenry, but it does not listen to international
community, the Church and it also does not listen to God."
Meanwhile 17 student activists, including the ZINASU Vice President Gideon
Chitanga, appeared in court Thursday facing charges under POSA for
demonstrating against the current state of affairs at Masvingo State
University. They were further remanded to Monday the 2nd April.
ZINASU President Promise Mkwananzi, University of Zimbabwe Secretary General
Maureen Kademaunga and Lawrence Mashungu also appeared at the Harare
magistrates courts and were remanded to 25th April. They were arrested for
addressing students at the Harare Polytechnic. Mkwananzi went into hiding
immediately after court fearing abduction by state agents who have been
grabbing activists around the country.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
HARARE, Mar 29 (IPS) - ''It is appalling how our government has simply
discarded its own people,'' exclaims civic activist Max Mkandla. He is
referring to the ruling ZANU-PF's Operation Murambatsvina (''drive out
filth'') and its follow-up, Operation Garikai (''living well'').
Informal traders have been battling to survive since the government's
infamous Operation Murambatsvina destroyed homes and stalls almost two years
ago in May 2005. About 700,000 traders were chased from urban areas known to
support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The attacks happened shortly after the controversial parliamentary elections
of that year in which the ruling ZANU-PF drew two-thirds of the electoral
support amid indications of vote rigging. The ''operation'' aggravated the
economic meltdown in Zimbabwe for ordinary residents.
Traders are still constantly subjected to police harassment. The police
conduct sporadic raids and confiscate merchandise. Traders are forced to pay
fines for trading ''illegally''.
They have had to devise innovative plans to avoid police interference. Some
display only a small sample of goods with the rest hidden in a safe place.
Others sell fruit, clothing and basic commodities such as soap and cooking
oil from car boots. But sometimes their luck runs out.
''We have to do something to earn a living, even if it is risky. Hide and
seek with the police is the name of the game. Sometimes you win and
sometimes you lose. It all depends on the moods of the police officers,''
says Maxwell Tumbare, an informal trader in Zimbabwe's capital of Harare.
Little has come of the government's Operation Garikai which was launched to
address the criticism by United Nations Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka about
Operation Murambatsvina. Her report confirmed that over 2.4 million
Zimbabweans' livelihoods were detrimentally affected by Operation
The government is on record as saying that Garikai as a ''follow-up
programme'' to Murambatsvina was to be completed by August 2005.
Operation Garikai was to involve the construction of housing units and
''legitimate'' stalls and flea markets.
Regarding the markets little has happened apart from a centre for small and
medium enterprises built in Harare's Glen View suburb. The centre
accommodates carpenters and metalworkers. ''We are now working from here but
the place is too small for our operations,'' Isaac Makanga, a carpenter,
Construction arrested at foundation level is testimony to an ambitious
project that never was. In Chiredzi in the south eastern part of the country
traders are selling their goods wherever they can. It is the same story in
''The government embarked on an unplanned project and is now failing to
deliver because of a combination of factors, especially inflation and
corruption,'' explains Heneri Dzinotyiwei, a professor in political science
at the University of Zimbabwe.
The hyperinflationary environment strangled Operation Garikai as operational
costs increased by the day. Inflation is currently at 1,729 percent. Most
contractors and suppliers withdrew their services after the government
failed to honour its financial obligations.
Building at housing projects around the country has been abandoned after the
government rushed into construction without consultation with local
authorities. Those that have been completed are without proper sanitation
At one such project in Chiredzi, inhabitants use a common lavatory at a
nearby school while in provinces like Matebeleland South and Mashonaland
West people use the bush.
''We have no choice but to live here. It is better than staying in open
air,'' Solomon Mhere from the Chiredzi project laments.
Operation Garikai houses have been criticised because of their size. ''Match
boxes'' is the term commonly used to describe them. A typical bedroom cannot
accommodate a double bed, let alone a wardrobe or other furniture. Mkandla
describes the living conditions as ''inhumane. The houses are not fit for
Jan Egeland, the United Nations' special envoy on humanitarian issues,
became the government's enemy overnight after condemning Garikai houses at
Whitecliff farm on the outskirts of Harare. Egeland described the situation
as ''puzzling'' and ''disastrous'' during his follow-up visit in December
Corruption in government circles has contributed to the fiasco. Government
officials have been accused of milking the national treasury by inflating
supplier quotations and taking the extra cash. Suppliers oblige as long they
are guaranteed of being awarded tenders.
''There is no accountability by our government. Therefore it is unsurprising
that all these cases pass unnoticed,'' explains Dzinotyiwei.
The government went on to defy logic when it spurned the assistance offered
by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). ''People are suffering
because of political expedience,'' says Itai Zimunya, programmes officer
with the Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition. (END/2007)
By Joe De Capua
29 March 2007
An analyst says the latest crackdown on the opposition in Zimbabwe may
indicate a power struggle within the ruling ZANU-PF Party. Olmo von
Meijenfeldt is project coordinator for the political governance program of
IDASA, a South African organization that promotes democracy and good
governance. From Pretoria, he gave his views to VOA English to Africa
Service reporter Joe De Capua on the latest developments in Zimbabwe
"I would say it's a lot of political maneuvering within ZANU-PF itself. I
would be surprised if it was the state security apparatus that protects
(President) Mugabe that is actually behind the arrests or even the beatings
of the opposition members two weeks ago. I would think it's probably parts
of the state security apparatus in Zimbabwe that are responsible for the
arrests. in order to put Mugabe further under pressure. Because as a
consequence of these arrests Mugabe's obviously losing face quite
considerably in the region it self, the SADC (Southern African development
Community) region and internationally," he says.
Asked whether he thought Wednesday's crackdown was planned for when
Robert Mugabe (file photo)
Mugabe was out of the country, von Meijenfeldt says, "I'm quite sure that it
was. And I'm quite sure that it was orchestrated in such a way that Mugabe
would again lose face regionally.lose face in the eyes of his fellow
president brothers here in the region. Lose face of the presidents that are
now.at the SADC meeting."
He says that in the past, the Zimbabwean leader has been supported by quiet
diplomacy in the region and thus has been able to keep his hold on power. He
says, however, that some African presidents may be giving him a
"tongue-lashing" in private at the SADC meeting in Dar es Salaam.
Von Meijenfeldt describes what's needed in his view to bring peace in
Zimbabwe. "The peaceful solution for the political crisis in Zimbabwe is
first and foremost the responsibility of Zimbabweans. And by that I mean
democratic forces within Zimbabwe, whether it is the opposition, whether its
civil society organizations or whether there are new voices within ZANU-PF,
dissenting voices, pro-democracy voices within ZANU-PF. It is their
responsibility to develop a roadmap for the future of Zimbabwe."
After that's done, he says then neighboring states can help and also provide
a framework for mediation of a peaceful settlement.
Open Society Institute & Soros Foundations Network (New York)
March 29, 2007
Posted to the web March 29, 2007
In police raids yesterday, approximately thirty five individuals linked with
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were arrested and detained. Also
arrested was MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, although he was later
At present the whereabouts of the thirty five individuals are unknown
although well-placed sources believe that tactics like those used during the
brutal police crackdown on March 11 are being deployed - when detainees were
continuously moved between police stations in order to frustrate access to
families, legal representation and medical care.
Lawyers are again not only being denied access but are themselves
threatened. Lawyers who appeared at Harare's Central police station
yesterday afternoon, attempting to determine the location of the detainees,
were told that if they returned, they would be arrested. Otto Saki of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) says that an urgent application
seeking immediate access to the detainees has been launched.
These developments come amid increased reports of random violence directed
by military forces against Zimbabwean civilians. Yesterday, large sections
of Harare were cordoned off as armed forces staged random searches of
individuals moving through these areas, ostensibly searching for weapons.
MDC officials have been subjected to invasive searches of their homes and
persons. In one such instance, Peter Bhakosi, chairperson of Harare's Ward
11 , was confronted in the early hours of yesterday morning by about 20
armed police who proceeded to dig up his backyard. Again, the ostensible
purpose was a suspicion of arms stockpiling.
But says Ozias Tungwarara, director of OSISA's affiliate, Afrimap: "It is
not overly speculative to suppose that these recent arrests and searches are
being carefully orchestrated with the intention of legitimizing the
government's recent actions. It won't be surprising to learn that the
detainees are to be charged with treason or some other offence related to
violence against the state. All this happens at the exact moment that Mugabe
is meeting with other SADC heads of state in Tanzania, and it allows him to
say, ' we're dealing with an opposition bent on violence and our tactics are
justified.' Certainly, this wouldn't be the first time that the Zimbabwean
government's leadership has sought to smear its opponents and legitimize its
own brutal tactics by falsely alleging arms possession and stockpiling."
And says Tawanda Mutasah, director of OSISA: "Mugabe and his allies have
consistently pulled the wool over the eyes of their African neighbours using
a combination of diversionary national theatrics as well as blatant
untruths. Only recently, a thirteen page propaganda document was issued by
Mugabe's Foreign Minister to all African embassies claiming that opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was at no time assaulted in police custody."