By Peta Thornycroft, Zimbabwe Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:52am BST 30/03/2007
Robert Mugabe was today facing a showdown with his party as factions
squabbled over whether he should be their presidential candidate next year
and rule Zimbabwe until 2013.
As Mr Mugabe headed back from a frosty and morale-sapping meeting with
African leaders in Tanzania, the powerful central committee of his Zanu-PF
regime was preparing for a turbulent session over who should lead the
country out of its current crisis.
The conflicting signals from within Zimbabwe's political elite suggest
that Mr Mugabe, 83, will not have it his own way - as he has since coming to
power in 1980.
Divisions within his party have crystalised since his latest crackdown
on Morgan Tsvangirai and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"This is an anxious moment for him and the meeting will be full of
tension," said Eldred Masunungure, a senior political analyst at the
University of Zimbabwe.
Last night, pressure mounted on Mr Mugabe when the Southern African
Development Community appointed the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, to
mediate in the crisis, a sign that they wanted the region's most powerful
country to find a solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic meltdown.
Whatever diplomatic language the Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete
chose in public, it is believed that, behind closed doors, African leaders
effectively told Mr Mugabe that they could protect him no longer. Mr
Mugabe's mantra - that the West wants to recolonise Zimbabwe - has now worn
thin even with his most dogged African supporters.
They, like his countrymen are "sick and tired of the endless drama
over Zimbabwe", said one African diplomat yesterday.
The president has been impervious to Western criticism, but has always
counted on Africa to support his excesses. Inside his party are those who
are determined - almost at any cost - to stop him becoming their candidate
in the 2008 presidential poll.
But whether they have the courage to obstruct him today or wait for a
more "appropriate" moment is unclear.
"The tension within Zanu-PF at present might influence them to defer
the decision until later in the year," Mr Masunungure said.
Mr Mugabe's former information minister, Jonathan Moyo, said he
believed the central committee would delay the decision until December. He
said it was traditional for Zanu-PF to make election decisions at the
party's annual conference in December.
"Those in Zanu-PF against Mugabe don't want an early split in the
party. They are trying to manage a difficult situation and will try to
preserve some semblance of unity in the hope of a miracle on the horizon
that Mugabe will decide to go.
"However a lot depends on the outcome of the summit in Tanzania and
early indications are that Mugabe would rather have that settled before
running with this [his candidacy] in the central committee.
"Even Mugabe's strongest public supporters know he has to go," Mr Moyo
30 March 2007, 01:32 GMT 02:32 UK
By Peter Biles
BBC southern Africa correspondent
Leaders of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF are expected to meet on Friday to
decide whether President Robert Mugabe should stand for re-election next
Mr Mugabe has made it clear he wants to remain in office
But he is under increasing pressure from Zanu-PF factions to stand
down to end the political and economic crisis.
On Thursday, southern African leaders agreed that South African
President Thabo Mbeki should try to promote political dialogue inside
Behind the scenes, the issue everyone's talking about is Robert
The man who has led Zimbabwe for nearly 27 years has never looked as
isolated as he is at present.
Friday's meeting of Zanu-PF's Central Committee brings together about
200 of the ruling party's most important decision-makers.
In the knowledge that presidential elections are likely a year from
now, there is intense lobbying going on within Zanu-PF.
President Mugabe is desperate to hold on to power. But he may only
have support from around a third of the membership of his party's Central
There are two opposing factions. One is led by the former armed forces
commander, Solomon Mujuru, and his wife Joyce, who is the country's
The other is headed by Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former security minister.
Both sides would like to see Mr Mugabe step aside, not least because
under his leadership, Zimbabwe's economy is now out of control.
Friday March 30, 2007
There was no evidence yesterday that Robert Mugabe realises his time is up.
If anything, his actions confirmed that his last days in office will be, as
his former right-hand man Jonathan Moyo said, nasty, brutish and short. Just
before flying off to a two-day emergency summit of African leaders convened
in Tanzania to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe, Mr Mugabe dispatched his men
to pick up more than 60 opposition activists, planted dynamite and
detonators at the home of one of them and accused them of orchestrating a
wave of attacks. The Herald, Mr Mugabe's mouthpiece, said the "rhodies" (the
white Rhodesians) were behind a wave of "opposition terrorism". This was
textbook stuff from the man who still thinks he can convince his neighbours
that the enemy is white imperialism.
To the dismay of the opposition, leaders attending the South African
Development Community (SADC) summit last night appointed Thabo Mbeki, South
Africa's president and Mr Mugabe's old comrade in arms, to mediate in the
growing crisis. They also called for international sanctions to be lifted.
Any immediate hope that Zimbabwe's neighbours would keep the pressure up on
Mr Mugabe appeared to recede. Mr Mugabe will arrive back today fortified for
the meeting of the central committee of his party, Zanu-PF. If the two
anti-Mugabe factions in the party combine they can block Mr Mugabe's plan to
extend his term to 2010, which is still formally on the agenda.
But Mr Mugabe is a wily manipulator, and the central committee is large and
chaotic in its proceedings. If Mr Mugabe presses for the alternative, a
fresh election in 2008 at which he will be the candidate, he can only do so
as the head of the party. The other way of unseating him is to call an
extraordinary congress, to push for the separation of the two functions,
party leader and candidate. The focus on the byzantine workings of Zanu-PF
reflects the widespread belief that Mr Mugabe is most likely to be ousted in
a palace coup. It is not to belittle the real sufferings of Zimbabweans to
say that the other place where the economic meltdown is being felt is inside
the air-conditioned Mercedes of the party leadership.
Their owners must be thinking hard about their future. The much-touted plan
of a coalition between the wing of the Zanu-PF under Joice Mujuru and Morgan
Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change must be tempting. But for
any of this to happen, Zanu-PF has first to deliver its leader's political
scalp. The time bomb of economic collapse is ticking away. Wait any longer
and a famine could break out in the drought-stricken south. The time to act
Globe and Mail, Canada
Special to Globe and Mail Update
Once again, the world has been brutally reminded of Robert Mugabe's
pernicious hold over Zimbabwe. The treatment of opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, who was badly beaten earlier this month and detained again this
week, and stories of police attacks on human-rights workers have shown the
bitter results of a regime that cares too much for power and too little for
its own people.
Some believe Mr. Mugabe's career may at last be reaching an end, that the
collapsed economy and rivalries inside the octogenarian President's ZANU-PF
party will at last force him out. But others are skeptical: Mr. Mugabe has
weathered such political storms before, impervious to the welfare of
ordinary people, viciously repressing all opposition at home and cockily
dismissing criticism from abroad. Cynical Zimbabweans have learned to accept
Mr. Mugabe's conviction that he can rely on the viciousness of his security
forces, the traditional support of rural Zimbabweans and the uncritical
brotherhood of African leaders to bring him through unscathed.
Many Zimbabweans look to former friends, such as Canada, for support. Should
Canadians be concerned? If so, what should we be doing? Certainly nothing
that we have tried yet has worked. With our international friends and
Commonwealth partners, we have cajoled, confronted, isolated and shamed Mr.
Mugabe, who says we can all "go hang." We have only made him more determined
to bluster ahead, at any cost to his own people.
It's easy for Canadian ministers to issue thundering condemnations and call
for dramatic action. But whatever applause these actions might bring in
Canada, they have done nothing for the plight of real Zimbabweans. And
they've done nothing to help restore democracy, the rule of law, respect for
human rights or a sound economy.
Nor has it helped to rely on "quiet diplomacy" involving President Thabo
Mbeki of neighbouring South African; there is palpable donor disappointment
with his handling of Mr. Mugabe. But Mr. Mbeki knows that uncertainty in
Zimbabwe affects all of southern Africa. He shares with most Africans a mix
of pride and admiration for Mr. Mugabe and gratitude for Zimbabwe's support
for the anti-apartheid struggle. He must be painfully aware that Zimbabwe's
struggle over land ownership will ultimately spill over into Namibia and
Issues of race, culture and sharp economic disparities in one country are
formidable challenges for all. Long years in exile and in the anti-apartheid
struggle have given Mr. Mbeki and his colleagues good reason to distrust
white donor understanding and motives - just as the bitter independence
struggle and its aftermath of solitudes in Zimbabwe have given Mr. Mugabe
reason to question Western agendas. Mr. Mbeki's pride, cautious good sense
and domestic political constituency disincline him to be seen as kowtowing
to a white West.
A surprising number of black Zimbabwean and South African business people,
professionals and academics agree; they say they are prepared to wait Mr.
Mugabe out. No matter how bad he seems outside Africa, they do not want to
see him humiliated at the hands of former colonial capitals. Their advice to
the rest of the world is to "cool it," to wait for the inevitability of
time, to have confidence in the commitment and capacity of Zimbabweans.
That's not much consolation to those who are suffering today. But there is
good reason to hope. Despite the brain drain, there are still plenty of
people in Zimbabwe who know how to run a country and an economy.
There are also many in Zimbabwean civil society who have committed
themselves to getting it right. Canadians are working quietly but helpfully
with non-governmental groups dedicated to gender equity, community
development, governance and capacity. The idea is to support those who will
bring about change and then have to sustain it.
With this kind of considered support from Canada and our like-minded
partners, those Zimbabweans who urge patience and dialogue may well do more
for their fellow Zimbabweans than all our international outrage has yet
Rather than focusing on more rant and threat against Mr. Mugabe, or on
speculation about Zimbabwe changing for the better on its own, Canadians and
our international friends might work harder to encourage and support those
in Zimbabwe's business community, in Parliament, in the judiciary and in the
professions who see that there is a better way. We should work even harder
to encourage dialogue within Zimbabwe by bringing together different shades
of opinion that would not otherwise speak to each other. We have played this
role in other African countries, and we have the credibility and clout to do
Canadians should support Zimbabwean NGOs and civil-society groups. Against
great odds, they are doing a remarkably courageous and effective job. The
Canadian International Development Agency should repackage its existing
modest funding for non-government actors into an easily identified and
flexible "Canadian Dialogue Fund," as we did so effectively in the late
1980s in South Africa. Our goal should be to get across a message of
dialogue, good governance and concern for ordinary Zimbabweans.
We must continue to speak out at the United Nations, offering action, not
just words. It is possible for our ministers to announce positive programs
and projects, which will do something not only for their images in Canada,
but for Zimbabweans and our standing in Africa as well.
We will want to continue to emphasize the New Partnership for Africa's
Development. This is an African concept with African commitments to good
government, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and sound economies. As
a member of the African Union, Mr. Mugabe's government subscribes to NEPAD's
goals, at least nominally. It misses them badly and needs to be reminded at
every turn of its failures, but Canada has to do its part of the bargain
too, showing that good governance does bring investment and development.
We should put our action in Zimbabwe squarely in the midst of our Africa
agenda and strengths. We should have a long-term Africa policy vision, well
agreed upon and co-ordinated among departments, agencies and the Prime
Minister's Office. We should ensure that everything we do fits into this
vision of the future, to position Canada to be there when Zimbabwe's - and
Africa's - business, social, professional and international potential is
Canadians will have to be patient, and realistic. We are facilitators, not
lead actors. It will not be Canadians who will bring back Zimbabwe's hope
and prosperity, but Zimbabweans themselves. Their country's potential is
obvious. The rewards for persevering will be substantial, for both Canada
John Schram is senior fellow with the Queen's Centre for International
Relations in Kingston. He retired as Canada's ambassador to Zimbabwe in
March 30, 2007 Edition 1
Dar Es Salaam
African leaders would rally to solve Zimbabwe's crisis as Western countries
demanded action on President Robert Mugabe's authoritarian rule, Tanzanian
President Jakaya Kikwete said yesterday.
Leaders of the Southern African Development Community meeting in Dar es
Salaam are under pressure to censure Mugabe for a police crackdown on the
opposition that has sparked the threat of more sanctions on a country
already deep in economic crisis.
"The political and security situation in our region at the moment requires
the attention of the summit as a matter of urgency," Kikwete said before
closed-door discussions began.
"There are a few hot spots that demand our attention. However complex and
difficult they appear, none of them is impossible to solve," he said.
The United States, joining Britain and the European Union, has said it was
time for African leaders to get tough on Mugabe, whose police forces briefly
detained opposition leaders for the second time in a month on Wednesday.
"Certainly we think it's time for the African states, specifically this
group of neighbouring states, to make clear that this kind of behaviour from
President Mugabe is unacceptable," US State Department spokesman Tom Casey
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is
accused by critics of political abuses and economic mismanagement. He came
under fresh attack this month after police arrested and beat opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists at a Harare prayer rally.
Mugabe did not comment as he arrived at the summit, which has also drawn
regional leaders, including President Thabo Mbeki and Namibian President
Political analysts say Zimbabwe's political crisis and rapidly shrinking
economy threaten to destabilise the region as millions flee inflation of 1
700%, food shortages and more than 80% unemployment.
But many analysts believe Mugabe will escape public censure from his African
peers despite Western-led calls for sterner action.
Though Zimbabwe was expected to dominate talks, SADC leaders were also
likely to quiz Congolese President Joseph Kabila about clashes between
government soldiers and forces loyal to a former rebel leader that have
killed more than 100 people.
Congolese authorities have issued an arrest warrant for former
vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba who is reportedly sheltering in the South
African embassy in Kinshasa, where he fled during last week's fierce gun and
mortar battles. - Reuters
published: Friday | March 30, 2007
Robert Mugabe, the despot of Zimbabwe, must be growing aware that his
neighbours in southern Africa are becoming fed up with him. They are not yet
ready to tell him openly that it is time to go, but the writing is clearly
on the wall.
Yesterday, in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam, the 14 leaders of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), including Mugabe, met in an
emergency session to discuss what they euphemistically termed the
"prevailing political and security situation" in the region. Read that to
mean Mugabe's crackdown on his political opponents, particularly the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Indeed, the day before the summit, Tsvangirai was detained and 10 officials
of the MDC arrested, allegedly on suspicion of involvement in bombings in
Zimbabwe. Significantly, the detention happened just before Tsvangirai
addressed a press conference at the MDC's headquarters in Harare. Earlier in
the month, the MDC leader was badly beaten by police, and had to be
hospitalised, while leading a demonstration in the Zimbabwe capital.
All this is deepening evidence that at 83, Mugabe, formerly a hero at home
and to Africans in the diaspora, has grown old and increasingly unhinged. In
the process, his despotism grows worse. And in the cruellest of ironies, he
has grown into a grotesque caricature of those he overthrew. Napoleon and
Snowball and the rest of the gang from Animal Farm would easily recognise
themselves in Robert Mugabe.
The shame is that we all had high hopes for Robert Mugabe, the hero of
Zimbabwe's independence war, that defeated Ian Smith's racist,
white-minority government. He was, after all, kith and kin; in his victory
we assumed in part our own liberation. But Mugabe has betrayed us. But more
important, he has betrayed through avarice, greed and a lust for power, the
people of Zimbabwe, whom he has brought to ruin. Not only the democracy for
which they fought is in ruin, but also the country's ramshackle economy.
Mugabe sought to hide his failures behind racist sentiments, blaming the
country's white commercial farmers and supposedly external forces for the
plight of the Zimbabwe's black majority. Over two decades he did not deliver
on land reform, but caused disaster by the expropriation of white-owned
farms, taken over illegally by war veterans, so-called. Britain had failed
to deliver on a promise to fund land reform, he ranted.
Now, he has become a fully fledged embarrassment to all of us, and has been
so for quite a long time. Unfortunately, his closest and most important
neighbour, South Africa, to which over two million undocumented Zimbabweans
have fled, tiptoed around the issue, preferring quiet diplomacy to telling
the Zimbabwe leader that he was an emperor who had become unclothed, even if
he was unaware of that fact.
We would have preferred if the SADC leader had bluntly told Mugabe that it
was time to go, making it clear that he should begin a transition ahead of
next year's presidential election. Instead, they have appointed South
Africa's Thabo Mbeki to facilitate a dialogue between Mugabe and his
But the message seems clear enough, and the good thing is that Mugabe can't
claim that those who delivered it have pink noses.
The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect
the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us:
email@example.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than
400 words. Not all responses will be published.
30 March 2007
DAR ES SALAAM - African leaders sought to hammer out a fresh approach to
Zimbabwe's crisis yesterday as President Robert Mugabe's government was hit
with new charges of widespread human rights abuses.
Last night, after a closed emergency meeting, African leaders attending an
extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
appointed President Thabo Mbeki to mediate between Mugabe and the opposition
in a bid to end the crisis in Zimbabwe.
The leaders said they hoped "to promote dialogue of the parties in Zimbabwe".
Mugabe attended the SADC meeting but left immediately after without comment.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the summit's host, said he was confident
Zimbabwe's neighbours could resolve an impasse that had spurred western
demands for action.
Mugabe spokesman George Charamba struck a defiant note, saying the veteran
leader would tell the west to "go hang" as long as it tried to interfere in
Adding to a lengthening list of accusations against Mugabe's government, the
US-based Human Rights Watch said police were targeting ordinary Zimbabweans
suspected of backing the opposition, doling out savage beatings to keep the
83-year-old leader's opponents at bay.
The SADC summit comes amid pressure for a stronger African response to
Zimbabwe's crackdown, which has raised the threat of more western sanctions
on a country already deep in economic crisis.
Kikwete said the situation in Zimbabwe was among those requiring "urgent"
attention, but was not insoluble.
"However complex and difficult they appear, none of them is impossible to
solve," he said before the closed-door talks.
The US, with Britain and the European Union, condemned Zimbabwean police for
detaining opposition leaders on Wednesday for the second time in a month.
"Certainly we think it's time for the African states, specifically this
group of neighbouring states, to make clear that this kind of behaviour from
President Mugabe is unacceptable," said US state department spokesman Tom
But Charamba brushed aside the criticism and said Mugabe - still revered by
many as a hero of Africa's liberation struggle - would be looking for
regional support in the face of western pressure.
"The president is here for two basic things - to explain the situation on
the ground and to get solidarity from SADC in his fight against the
British," Charamba told reporters.
"He will continue to tell the west to go hang as long as those (western)
concerns undermine the sovereignty of the country," he said, referring to
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is
accused by critics of political abuses and economic mismanagement.
He came under fresh attack this month after police arrested and allegedly
beat opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists at a Harare
In Harare, MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti appealed for support from SADC
"We are fighting against inflation, against homelessness. We hope that they
will be strong against Mugabe and tell him he has had 27 years of
uninterrupted, peaceful rule in Zimbabwe and should go now," he said.
The Human Rights Watch said Zimbabwe police were victimising ordinary
"The police have been going door-to-door beating people up - the crackdown
"It is not just targeted at the opposition but also at ordinary
Zimbabweans," Human Rights Watch researcher Tiseke Kasambala told a news
conference in Johannesburg.
Mugabe, who is thought to be running into opposition within his Zanu (PF)
party over plans to extend his rule, says the MDC are western "stooges" and
police have accused party activists of a terror campaign aimed at removing
him from office.
The MDC has denied the charges. With Reuters, Sapa-AP
30th Mar 2007 00:49 GMT
By Sheila Ochi
HARARE - The United States has accused the government of stage managing
violent attacks on state institutions to divert world attention from the
recent police torture of opposition leaders and supporters.
In a statement, the US government said President Robert Mugabe appeared
determined to use violence to retain his loosening grip on power.
This followed the re-arresting of opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and
several of his office staff on Wednesday by the police.
The government says recent petrol bombings and attacks on police stations
and other institutions are the work of opposition Movement for Democratic
"The regime is attempting to blame the violence on the opposition itself.
The international community rejects this patently false effort to blame the
victims. Robert Mugabe must stop brutalizing his people, and must allow
Zimbabweans free exercise of their democratic rights," read a statement
signed by Tom Casey, the US government deputy spokesman.
Mugabe has been under increasing pressure after state security agents
tortured opposition leaders following an aborted prayer meeting on March 11.
A spate of violence has erupted since, with the opposition reporting several
abductions of senior party officials.
Several police stations have been petrol bombed and the government blames
the opposition, accusing it of destabilizing the country. The US called on
African leaders to pressure Mugabe to respect basic rights and freedoms.
"It is time for Africans to publicly call Mugabe to account for his
Mugabe was meeting SADC leaders in Tanzania yesterday, as concern mounted
with regional leaders that the security situation here compromised regional
"We hold President Mugabe responsible for the safety of these Zimbabwean
citizens and we call on Zimbabwean authorities to investigate these attacks
and punish those responsible. Events in Zimbabwe over the past several weeks
make clear that the Mugabe regime is determined to preserve its power,
regardless of the cost of its brutal tactics to the nation and people of
Zimbabwe, and must allow Zimbabweans free exercise of their democratic
rights," read the statement.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: March 29, 2007
WASHINGTON: The U.S. State Department said Thursday that international
pressure was the best way to persuade Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to
end his "misguided policies."
The statement by spokesman Sean McCormack was delivered before word had
reached Washington that African leaders meeting in Tanzania had decided to
appoint South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate the crisis in
McCormack said the United States was looking to the Southern African
Development Community leaders for a "clear indication that the behavior in
Zimbabwe is unacceptable."
He said the United States was unwilling to offer suggestions as to what the
leaders should do.
McCormack acknowledged that the choices facing SADC were difficult "because
you certainly don't want to do anything that increases the suffering of the
Zimbabwean people, as they are sadly the victims of the behavior of this
The United States has charged that Mugabe has engaged in an "all-out
campaign" to intimidate his political opponents. Mugabe's government
maintains that the opposition is waging a campaign of terror.
By Jonathan Moyo MP
Last updated: 03/30/2007 10:32:13
THE saying that when you are 40, half of you belongs to the past, and when
you are 80 virtually all of you is past material, best describes the
stubborn reality facing the 83-year old President Robert Mugabe whose dream
to remain in power for life is turning into a terrible nightmare as he finds
himself trapped between the frustration of his rejected 2010 plan and his
hopeless 2008 re-election bid which would leave him and Zanu PF sitting
ducks at polls should presidential and parliamentary elections be held
together early next year.
Anyone who listened to Mugabe's addresses at the hurriedly organised
national assembly meetings of the Zanu PF youth and women's leagues in
Harare on March 16 and 23 would have noticed how Mugabe came across as an
incoherent, disoriented, rambling and tired old man who wants to remain
president for life without any compelling national reason. Throughout his
addresses, he was prone to incomprehensible fits of anger and outbursts.
While Mugabe's irrational desire to remain in office for life by hook or by
crook is unfortunate but understandable, it is utterly shocking to see that
there are securocrats in his office who are desperate to force his
re-election bid through foul means including using at least 14 government
ministries that are now doing commissariat work for Mugabe. The coordination
work of these ministries is being done by military personnel who have been
deployed in all of the country's 59 districts and 120 constituencies to do
political work for Mugabe as they did in 2002 as "the boys on leave" from
Although everyone else can see that Mugabe's time has gone with the winds,
his securocrats want to have the world to believe otherwise. They are busy
inventing imperialist enemies for Mugabe while giving the impression that he
remains an irreplaceable liberator and visionary whose commanding presence
and future promise have no contemporary match.
Guided by this dangerous view, Mugabe's securocrats were particularly keen
to use today's Zanu PF central committee meeting to steamroll his
controversial bid to seek re-election in March 2008. The securocrats were
hoping to whip up political emotions at today's central committee meeting in
support of Mugabe's ill-fated re-election bid on the back of what they are
now dangerously labelling as "domestic terrorism" arising from the political
violence apparently instigated by the same securocrats after they bashed and
broke the limbs of some opposition politicians in police custody two weeks
The patently unlawful assaults, which were publicly supported by Mugabe with
shocking ramifications, have unleashed a bloody chain of violent incidents
whose origin and control has remained a mystery. However, there are growing
indications with lots of probable causes pointing to the securocrats in the
president's department, otherwise known as the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) that was formed by Ian Smith in Rhodesia, as the source
of what is now being dubbed as "domestic terrorism". The objective is to
benefit Mugabe politically through a campaign of violence reminiscent of the
blood-letting of the land invasions in 2000 and the dreadful Operation
Murambatsvina in 2005.
What Mugabe's securocrats are now peddling as "domestic terrorism" with the
incompetent assistance of poorly briefed government propagandists includes
deplorable incidents of petrol bombings of some police stations, a passenger
train and private residences. While government propagandists have been quick
to conclude that these wicked incidents are perpetrated by MDC factions,
there is enough evidence to worry any rational and objective mind about
dirty tricks through the infiltration of opposition groups in the brutal
track record of the CIO as a Rhodesian creation.
In order to locate the source of the so-called "domestic terrorism" about
which a lot of nonsense has been said by Mugabe and his propagandists since
he declared his re-election interest and in the run-up to the Sadc
extraordinary summit in Dar es Salaam, it should be recalled that prior to
the sporadic outbreak of the violence in question, Mugabe had been cornered
with his political back against the wall. This was following the rejection
by his own party of his ploy to extend his rule by two years without facing
the electorate under his 2010 plan and also after the fallout from his
astonishing public attacks on Vice-President Joice Mujuru. Throughout this
episode Mugabe's mantra was that his position as president is not vacant and
that therefore nobody else in his party should seek it in the hope of
As the political challenges against him from his own party begun gaining
momentum following the Goromonzi Zanu PF conference last December, and as
the national consensus started building up with the chorus that he must
retire now, Mugabe had to find a desperate way out. For obvious reasons, he
had to look to the CIO.
A convenient fiction of foreign-sponsored "domestic terrorism" came in handy
because it is the sort of stuff lifted from the arcane methods of
organisations like the CIO steeped in dirty and brutal Rhodesian roots
without any public accountability whatsoever. Many Zimbabweans still
remember only too well how the same CIO in Rhodesia used to infiltrate the
liberation movement and how it impersonated freedom fighters and abused
their guises to unleash violence worse than the current fiction of "domestic
terrorism". That Rhodesian book of dirty tricks is still there.
The latest security ploy to win Mugabe undeserved political support has two
key aspects which are principally designed to restore some semblance of
unity within Zanu PF after the fiasco in Goromonzi and, more significantly
for the intended purpose, to divert national and international attention
away from very serious divisions rocking the ruling party to the opposition
MDC factions and their alleged backers when at the material time and in
point of fact neither these factions nor their alleged backers were doing
anything that would worry even a fly.
One aspect of this ploy was to get Mugabe to unilaterally abandon the
consultation process by the Zanu PF provincial structures on the 2010
project as sanctioned by the party's annual conference in Goromonzi. That
conference decided to refer the 2010 proposals for debate and discussion by
the party's provinces after which the central committee meeting today was
expected to take a decision on the matter.
But all that is now water under the bridge because, in what has become
typical of his unacceptable leadership style, Mugabe has subverted the
provincial discussion and debates on the 2010 plan and usurped the powers of
his party's central committee by making the decision alone with his
securocrats and propagandists during his recent visit to Namibia where he
dropped the 2010 plan in favour of seeking re-election in 2008.
The other aspect of the security tactic which was deployed two weeks ago has
been to use the spoils of the now well-established infiltration of
opposition groups to invent "domestic terrorism" out of the blues and to
link it with the feuding MDC factions, particularly the one led by Morgan
Tsvangirai who was yet again arrested on Wednesday under a heavy show of
police force in what was a brazen rebuke to Sadc
leaders as they arrived in Dar es Salaam for the landmark session on
What makes the claims of "domestic terrorism" too much to be believed is not
only because the whole saga appeared heavily choreographed by the
traditional CIO hand of classical dirty tricks perfected in Rhodesia, but
also because thus far, not a single person has been charged with "domestic
terrorism" in a court of law. Indeed, if there is any "domestic terrorism",
then the best guess on its perpetrators would be the securocrats who believe
that violence is the best platform upon which to breathe life into Mugabe's
failing political career.
What emerges from this is that while the ranks of the CIO do indeed have
patriotic and professional Zimbabweans who include some well-meaning former
veterans of the liberation war committed to the protection of the national
interest, the undeniable fact that needs urgent attention is that the CIO
has largely remained Rhodesian and therefore brutal in structure and
In Rhodesia, the CIO was not accountable to parliament, the courts or even
cabinet as it was directly and exclusively only accountable to Prime
Minister Ian Smith. Because it has not been restructured or reformed to meet
the constitutional demands of independent Zimbabwe today, the only change
that the CIO has undergone is that it now directly and exclusively reports
That is why it is called the President's Department. Over the years since
1980, this name has had literal consequences in terms of how the CIO has
done its work entirely and always in the service of Mugabe's political
interests in a personal way.
Never before since Independence have Mugabe's political and personal
interests of remaining in power for life been as challenged from his own
party and everyone else in and outside Zimbabwe as they are today. The one
political weapon that Mugabe is using in his fight against everyone else is
his CIO. The nation faces an unprecedented risk of economic and political
disaster if this opprobrium is allowed to continue.
Professor Moyo is independent MP for Tsholotsho. This article was originally
published in the Zimbabwe Independent. He can be contacted on:
ABC Radio, Australia
This is a transcript from AM. The program is broadcast around Australia at
08:00 on ABC Local Radio.
AM - Friday, 30 March , 2007 08:16:00
Reporter: Andrew Geoghegan
TONY EASTLEY: Zimbabwe's Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai looks to be
headed on a collision course with Robert Mugabe and his security forces.
Mr Tsvangirai who was detained earlier this week and then released after
riot police raided his party's headquarters, says he will continue his
political activities despite threats of further beatings.
He's been speaking to the ABC's Africa Correspondent Andrew Geoghegan.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: My staff ... our staff is going to ... they went back
again to the police station at which they were brutalised and a number of
them have been brutalised.
One of our senior members, Ian Makone, could not even be brought before the
court today because I think he was suffering severe bruising. But about 70,
about 75 people were arrested last night.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Have they been charged with anything?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: No, they've never been charged. I don't think that you
can charge anybody for being in the office. And there's no basis for any
charge because there was nothing they found enough ... of course, they were
trying to pretend that they found explosives and all those kinds of things
which is a lie.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Well, yes Robert Mugabe's security forces are saying that
the Opposition is waging a campaign of terror against the government.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: No, no, no. We have never embarked, planned or supported
any act of violence against the government.
It is a government which has embarked on a serious campaign of violence
against the Opposition and do you know that for the last seven-and-a-half
years, this Government has been embarking every time or preceding an
election on a series of attacks against MDC (Movement for Democratic Change)
And this is a pattern we see as a way of intimidating people before the
election next year.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Morgan Tsvangirai, southern African leaders along with
Robert Mugabe have been meeting in Tanzania to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis.
Do you hold any hope of a breakthrough?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well, I think the timing is opportune. This is an
extraordinary meeting to deal with an extraordinary situation in Zimbabwe. I
hope they are able to put a firm position on Mugabe to realise that he
cannot continue the way he is going and that enough is enough, and I hope
that they will be able to read the riot act to him.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: And what's your strategy from here on? What's your next
move against Robert Mugabe?
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well, our plans have always been that we'll continue to
apply pressure on this regime until there is a resolution of the national
In our view, it doesn't matter how many times, how many people he beats or
assaults, as long as people have no food, they have no jobs, and as long as
people cannot afford basic commodities and they're suffering, I don't think
that he'll be able to suppress people forever.
TONY EASTLEY: Zimbabwe's Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai speaking there
with our Correspondent, Andrew Geoghegan.
March 30, 2007 Edition 1
I have been trying to make sense out of Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad's
defence of South Africa's "quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe - some call it "no
diplomacy" - but, frankly, it appears more like nonsense.
I lived in Harare in better times, but well after the infamous Fifth
Brigade, trained by the North Koreans, went into southern Zimbabwe and
massacred 20 000 Ndebele civilians.
I was there in 1998 when a dozen Zanu thugs "visited" Morgan Tsvangirai,
then secretary-general of the Zim Congress of Trade Unions, in his 10th
floor city office with the object of chucking him out of the window, but his
secretary gave the alarm and saved his life.
I recall seeing Robert Mugabe one night on TV conceding defeat in a national
referendum, when he tried to change the Constitution, and he really sounded
like a good democrat.
The next morning, he was back to fire and brimstone and the raving lunatic
he has been ever since.
In 1999, I was in Chitungwiza, a township near Harare, when Tsvangirai and
his then sidekick, Welshman Ncube, created their opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), and within eight months, the party managed to
secure no less than 57 seats in the 2000 parliamentary elections to
Zanu-PF's 62 seats. Not bad for someone who, at times, is criticised for
"lack of leadership".
A successful opposition newspaper, the Daily News, which overtook the
regime's mouthpiece Herald in circulation, had its printing presses bombed,
but the paper appeared as usual the following morning and continued until it
was finally banned together with other opposition newspapers. There was no
police investigation into that bombing.
For years, state radio and TV have been nothing but what we have come to
expect from a Stalinist/fascist propaganda machine.
Mugabe has claimed he has a "degree in violence" and his skill in that
department was confirmed by his thugs thumping Tsvangarai and MDC
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa as he was about to board a plane at Harare
Airport for Brussels.
This disgusting barbarity represents a watershed in the tragic Zimbabwe
story, and things will never be the same.
One positive result has been a welcome flood of media coverage with
Oscar-worthy cartoons by Zapiro and others.
Pahad tries to play down the story and persists with his version of SA
"working to facilitate contact between Mugabe's government and opposition
activists to keep the dialogue open".
Yet, that "dialogue" was never opened in the first place, and for most of
the time Zimbabwe has remained in limbo.
Being just up the road, Zimbabwe is perhaps too near and familiar and
lacking the status of far-away international conflicts. SA is now a member
of the UN Security Council; perhaps we shouldn't worry unduly about a nearby
problem of opposition leaders and supporters getting bashed on the head in
Perhaps Nepad and reviewing African countries "for good governance and
decent human rights" doesn't apply to neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Readers will probably be surprised to learn how another Mugabe - Uganda's
Idi Amin, who never really made it to Scotland's throne! - was finally got
rid of after slaughtering half-a-million Ugandans and threatening his
neighbours Tanzania and Kenya.
Tanzania's moderate, intellectual president Julius Nyerere - who became my
hero when he translated Julius Caesar and the Merchant of Venice into
Swahili - beloved as "Mwalimu", the Teacher, sent his army across his border
into Uganda and in one week flushed out Amin and his entourage.
Nyerere sent a military expedition to deal with the problem and rendered a
fine service to Africa by ridding the continent of that crazy tyrant, and no
one has ever described Nyerere's move as "stupid", Mr Pahad.
United Nations News Service
Date: 29 Mar 2007
A United Nations humanitarian official today appealed to the Security
Council for increased funds to allow Zimbabwe to meet the challenges posed
by a "triple threat," a combination of food insecurity, the high incidence
of HIV/AIDS and declining social services.
Rashid Khalikov, New York Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), briefed the Security Council on the current and
"alarming" situation of the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe, he told
reporters following the closed-door meeting.
OCHA estimates that 1.8 million metric tones of maize are needed to feed the
people of Zimbabwe, yet this year's harvest will only provide 300,000 metric
Although the country's authorities have announced that it will distribute an
additional 400,000 metric tons of maize, "the current economic situation and
the level of currency reserves gives us some cause for concern as to the
ability of the Government to bring this food in and distribute it in a
timely manner," Mr. Khalikov said.
This in a country where 18 per cent of the population, or 1.8 million
people, have HIV/AIDS, but only 50,000 of them have access to antiretroviral
therapy treatment when at least 350,000 must be treated to contain the
disease, he pointed out. The Government has committed to increasing the
number of people treated, yet "there is a lot of concern of the capacity of
the Government and the health services are in quite poor shape," he said.
Mr. Khalikov said that he told the 15-member Council that of the $240
million needed to meet humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe, only 13 per cent of
that has been contributed, most of which has been channelled to the food
As a result, "education, water and sanitation and health have not been
properly covered," he said. "Therefore, the United Nations is not in a
position to provide assistance to the population of Zimbabwe in a
He added that the Government's urban eviction campaign and land reform
programmes have "exacerbated the situation on the ground and makes the
position of those who are most vulnerable even more difficult."
The Government of Zimbabwe has requested that a joint assessment by the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme
(WFP) be undertaken to determine the exact food needs of the country and
then to fashion a response to the problem.
Mr. Khalikov said that this assessment will most likely be carried out in
April and May.