International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: March 30, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's ruling party on Friday endorsed President
Robert Mugabe as its candidate for presidential elections to be held next
ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said that a meeting of the party's
central committee had backed Mugabe, 83, as candidate for the 2008
He told state television that the meeting had proposed advancing
parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2010, by two years to coincide with
the presidential poll.
The decision followed an emergency southern African summit Thursday which
gave its public backing to Mugabe despite international criticism about the
clampdown on opposition supporters.
Mugabe appeared jubilant, surrounded by cheering supporters in traditional
costumes, according to footage of the 145-member congress screened by
Following a meeting of the top-level politburo earlier this week, the
83-year-old leader said he was willing to stand in the elections for a
further six year term if nominated. He has been the country's only leader
since independence from Britain in 1980.
In an opening address to the 245 member committee, Mugabe urged the party
leadership to resolve its differences amicably and without resorting to the
courts or the media, state radio reported.
Tensions in the ruling Zanu-PF party have reportedly risen because of rival
factions competing over the succession issue and the disastrous state of the
Zimbabwean economy. The government came in for sustained international
criticism following the brutal clampdown earlier this month on opposition
Zimbabwe's neighbors have been pushed to take the lead on pressuring Mugabe,
but an emergency summit of southern African leaders on Thursday ended with a
call to work with him.
In the final communique, the summit appealed "for the lifting of all forms
of sanctions against Zimbabwe." It also appointed as mediator South African
President Thabo Mbeki - who has advocated "quiet diplomacy" over
confrontation to move Zimbabwe's factions toward dialogue and reform.
Former colonial power Britain and other Western nations have imposed
targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and a travel ban on Mugabe and
more than 100 of his top associates. They argue targeted sanctions do not
hurt most Zimbabweans.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, chairman of the regional bloc, said the
summit decided "to promote dialogue of the parties in Zimbabwe. There is no
replacement to that."
State radio, the official voice of Mugabe's government, described the
outcome of the summit as "a huge milestone for Zimbabwe."
The radio said Mugabe's detractors at home and abroad - who had called for
Mugabe to be censured and given a deadline to stand down - were left with
"their tails between their legs."
"The African leaders failed to be manipulated," it said.
In his speech to the central committee, Mugabe reiterated longstanding
accusations that foreign governments - notably Britain - were funding the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change. And he renewed warnings to
western ambassadors who have criticized the government that they risked
expulsion if they interfered in Zimbabwe's internal affairs.
The state-owned Herald newspaper said Mugabe briefed the other southern
African leaders on what it called a "terror campaign" by the main opposition
party, and that the summit "stood firmly behind" Mugabe's government.
The Movement for Democratic Change party accused Mugabe's government of
trying to demonize its critics by fabricating allegations of an armed terror
campaign. Nine of its activists were charged Thursday with attempted murder
in connection with a string of fire bombings, illegal possession of a
firearm and of explosives, according to their lawyer.
The Herald said that, arriving at Harare International Airport upon his
return from the summit, Mugabe said African leaders urged the Zimbabwean
opposition to desist from violence and to recognize him and his government
"as he was legitimately re-elected by the people of Zimbabwe in 2002."
The trade union movement has called for a mass stay away from work next
Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the economic meltdown, official inflation, fueled by high level
corruption and black market dealing, is 1,700 percent, the highest in the
March 31, 2007 02:23am
Article from: Agence France-Presse
ZIMBABWE President Robert Mugabe said Friday that he had acknowledged to his
fellow African leaders that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had been
assaulted, but said he deserved it.
"Yes, I told them he was beaten but he asked for it," Mr Mugabe told
supporters the day after returning from a regional summit in Tanzania.
"We got full backing, not even one criticised our actions," the veteran
"There is no country in SADC (the Southern African Development Community)
that can stand up and say Zimbabwe has faulted.
"SADC does not do that, it is not a court but an organisation of 14
countries that cooperates with each other and supports each other."
Mr Tsvangirai's arrest and subsequent assault on March 11 while trying to
attend an anti-government rally was widely condemned by the West but the
SADC summit, which was meant to address the crisis in Zimbabwe, ended up
with a statement of "solidarity" with the 83-year-old Mr Mugabe's
International Herald Tribune
By Michael Wines Published: March 30, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: 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.
"He will not go," said the former official, who was once a loyal lieutenant
in Parliament and remains a member of Mugabe's governing 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
that he has crushed his critics and will ride popular adulation to a new
term as president next year.
But his bravado is belied by everyday scenes here: The 13 Chinese-made water
cannon that encircled the soccer match on Sunday between Zimbabwe and
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 that it may be used in
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 a
year. People revile him, his party grasps for a way to force him from office
and even his southern African neighbors, long his enablers, are meeting with
him in Tanzania this week, hoping to ease him into retirement, many analysts
Yet it is unclear how easily anyone could 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
Many acknowledged the possibility of his departure, but none said the
opposition or elements of Mugabe's own government had the will or ability to
topple him - at least for now.
The governing bodies of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
are expected to endorse Mugabe's bid to run again for president at meetings
on Friday, 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 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."
The source of the president'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 on
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 Zimbabwean politics,
staging raids on the homes of opponents and beating and intimidating them,
according to human rights groups and critics of the government.
But the land seizures served another purpose as well. Countless officials in
the government, Parliament, the judiciary, the military and the police have
been given their own farms as a reward for their loyalty - and stand to lose
their land should they stray.
The village headmen and other traditional leaders in Zimbabwe's rural areas
have vehicles, courtesy of the government. So do all ranking police and
military officers. Crossing Mugabe would mean the loss of those and other
One 23-year-old Zimbabwean fled last year with nine other conscripts from
Unit 21, an army barracks in Mutoka, about 145 kilometers, or 90 miles,
outside Harare. "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 food staple, 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
Such grievances, combined with miserable pay, have pushed military
desertions and police resignations to record levels, people in all camps
here said. But, they continued, new recruits are not disaffected and, in a
nation where 8 in 10 workers are jobless, are desperate to hold on to even a
Two weeks ago, police officers rounded up scores of opposition protesters
who sought to hold a banned meeting 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.
This week, the police detained Morgan Tsvangirai, a prominent opposition
leader, yet again; he was released on Thursday.
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 in his party. 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."
He chuckled. "Maybe something unnatural will happen," he said. "Maybe a bomb
will fall from the sky."
30 March 2007, 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK
By Peter Greste
BBC News, Dar es Salaam
Before the summit of 14 of southern Africa's leaders opened,
Zimbabwe's critics had hoped that at the very least Robert Mugabe would get
a private dressing-down as well as a few pointed public rebukes.
But when he left smiling for reporters it was clear that his
colleagues had done nothing of the sort.
We still do not know what transpired behind the hotel's gilded doors,
but the final communiqué gave no sense of urgency or pressure.
What it did offer was South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, as a
facilitator for talks between Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and President Mugabe's government.
The summit chairman, Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete, said that
that decision alone was a breakthrough.
He described it as a landmark and to be fair, it is a departure from
the deeply-held principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of
member states here.
The final communiqué also called for a study group to look at
Zimbabwe's plunging economy and come up with ways to help. It urged the West
to end economic sanctions and engage diplomatically.
But the communiqué was also significant for what it left out.
It said nothing about timelines or dates, it gave no benchmarks for
progress and said nothing about what might happen if Mr Mbeki's talks fail.
Yet the urgency is real. Zimbabwe's economy has already plunged
through the floor, with inflation now over 1,700% and eight out of 10
workers without a job.
The government security services have taken to beating opposition
supporters and accusing MDC activists of fire-bombing police stations and
preparing for guerrilla war.
In that environment it is hard to see what middle ground there might
be for Mr Mbeki's negotiations, but it might all be academic if he does not
Few people believe Zimbabwe is going to plunge into civil war next
week or next month, but it is heading in that direction.
Without urgent and dramatic action, it is not just Zimbabwe that is in
danger of slipping into conflict.
The country's neighbours, South Africa chief amongst them, would
probably have to deal with a flood of impoverished and desperate refugees,
and any violence could well follow close behind.
So self-interest alone would seem to inspire more robust action.
Yet the region's leaders have decided that the greater priority is to
stick together rather than to risk internal dissent.
Overall, these measures will disappoint those who had hoped to see
southern African leaders discipline Robert Mugabe for the recent political
crackdown on opposition protests.
It also defied those who suggested that for their own sakes the 13
leaders would ramp up their efforts to avoid the regional crisis that civil
war would inevitably provoke.
Once again southern Africa's leaders have pulled their punches over
Zimbabwe's crisis. Yet Robert Mugabe is looking increasingly shaky.
A critical moment: president Robert Mugabe at this week's summit in Dar es
Photograph: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images.
Zimbabwe's embattled and ageing president, Robert Mugabe, rushed off this
week to a meeting of southern African leaders to discuss the dreadful
condition of his country. After ordering his police to beat up the main
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, earlier this month, he has been
cracking down with energy befitting a younger man on anyone who dares speak
out against repression.
Mr Mugabe's message to the rest of the region is that the violence in
Zimbabwe is all the fault of the opposition. Some fellow presidents,
perhaps, may now grumble that Mr Mugabe's misrule is giving the southern bit
of Africa (which is otherwise rather peaceful and prosperous at the moment)
a bad name. But, as we note in the Economist this week, don't expect much
public criticism of the elder statesman - Mr Mugabe is 83 - however often
his opponents have their skulls cracked.
It's true that Zambia's president, Levy Mwanawasa, has likened Zimbabwe to
the foundering Titanic. And one or two minor politicians in South Africa and
Mozambique have muttered that until Mr Mugabe is finally shoved out of
office, there is no chance of tackling the human and economic disaster of
Zimbabwe. But the main concern of South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, is
to preserve quiet diplomacy, which means trying ineffectually to find a
graceful exit for Mr Mugabe, without letting Mr Tsvangirai take over.
South Africa alone among foreign countries has the means to influence Mr
Mugabe and, perhaps, to get him out of office. Of course, the big neighbour
cannot simply order regime change: America's failed efforts to get change in
Cuba, or China's in North Korea, or the EU towards Belarus, are testimony to
the difficulties of tackling troublesome little dictatorships in your
But the chances are that Mr Mbeki, if he chose to do so, could persuade the
rest of Africa's leaders, along with influential politicians within
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF, to turn against the increasingly isolated old
man. Yet South Africa is loth to do so if that means Mr Tsvangirai, a former
trade union leader, ousting Mr Mugabe's independence party. That has too
scary resonances for Mr Mbeki's ruling African National Congress, which
worries about a serious opposition emerging one day from the trade union
ranks in South Africa.
Yet, there is still hope that Mr Mugabe may go soon. Change will come not
from the opposition, nor from the neighbourhood, but from within the ruling
party. Last week in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, I was struck by how many
little things are changing. The state-controlled press is not so fawning
towards the president these days: many articles describe the misery of
ordinary life and even dare to suggest that it is time for Mr Mugabe to hang
up his boots. Such a thing would not have been seen even two years ago.
Politicians closely connected to the ruling party told me bluntly that Mr
Mugabe has become a feeble old man, a liability for the country and the
party, who must not be allowed to run in next year's presidential election.
It is clear that "big men" in the ruling party are worried that more
economic collapse may hurt their own business empires. When Mr Mugabe no
longer serves the self-interest of the powerful players around him, even he
will not be able to hang on.
For the Economist's full briefing on Zimbabwe this week, see here.
Comment No. 503680
March 30 12:32
the author has not acquainted himself with the rather large gap between
public rhetoric and private reality in Southern African politics.
in public, Mbeki, Mwanamasa, guebuza et al will close up and present a
united, rocklike face before those dam' Europeans. In private, you can
guarantee Mugabe will have been told - in no uncertain terms - that it's
over. Mbeki doesn't want turmoil on the northern border preventing him from
his aim of turning RSA into the regional superpower (only african rival;
Nigeria); and the rest have had quite enough of turmoil. Wars in this part
of the world have a tradition od spilling over borders; THAT is the thing
they wish most of all to avoid.
But spot-on as to the internal situation; I think ZANU-PF now sees the Old
Man as a liability, to the point where a palace coup now seems inevitable.
Comment No. 503734
March 30 12:54
I agree with you in most things, but not when you say wars in this region
have a history of spilling over.In fact, that last major war in the SADC
region(pronounced Sadec was in Angola in the Mid 90's, and it didn't spill
over to other countries.The last major war before that was the Mozambique
civil war and the Zimbabwean and SA liberations struggle, if you could call
the latter a war.In general, the region rarely gets into armed
confrontation, the reason why Zimbabwe is very unlikely to experience civil
war itself.I believe that except one Kingdom, all the countries in the
region are democracies.And then there is Zimbabwe.
Comment No. 503768
March 30 13:07
What is happening in Zimbabwe is an attempt to strangle an independent state
whose leadership - I admit it's not perfect - has dared to challenge the
Washington Consensus and implement land reforms, in a continent where
country after country including South Africa and Nigeria has paid the price
of kowtowing to imperialism and neoliberalism.Mugabe is no Hugo Chavez but
he is one of only a handful of world leaders willing to challenge
imperialism and refuse to sell out the freedom his people won after a bloody
struggle in 1980.Both Britain and the US want to impose a client regime in
Harare by either pitting potential ZANU-PF turncoats against Mugabe or
bringing in Tsvirangai, who is well-known as a sympathizer of the free
market and accepting aid from NGOs like the Soros Foundation and USAID,
which are the same organizations which ushered in the drab colour
revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kirghizistan.Tsvirangai's profile as a
"dissident" has been overblown by the docile British media.He is no
different from his other African cousins like Chiluba, Mwanawasa, Mbeki &
Co.Also, imperialism is doing its best to divide the Africans by
pressurizing docile "good" Africans like Mbeki and Mkapa of Tanzania to push
Robert Mugabe is the last embodiment of African leaders who were/are truly
faithful to the idea of "Africa for the Africans".He had very few
opportunities after independence in 1980 to really lead Zimbabwe as an
independent, anti-imperialist state but to his credit, he did not sell-out
to imperialism like many of the successors of his generation have in places
like South Africa, Ghana, Mali, Uganda,Senegal and Guinea.If you think that
just by getting rid of Mugabe, a democracy will be installed in Zimbabwe at
the point of a bayonet, you are wrong.Just look at Iraq, Saddam wasn't a
great democrat but at least he emancipated Iraqi women, and gave Iraqis free
health and education, and Iraq was an independent state unlike other Arab
states.Mugabe won't be bought like Gaddafi and Rawlings shamelessly were.He
will remain true to his ideals of pan-African nationalism.It is a shame that
he is surrounded by African states who all do the bidding of Washington,
Paris or London, as the case maybe and don't look after African interests.
Comment No. 503799
March 30 13:18
I have to declare some considerable interest here: I am an ex Rhodie (I
chose to be one having emigrated from the UK)and now I live in South Africa.
When confronted with my implicit, if not actually explicit, support for the
apartheid regime I always said 'this is for South Africans to sort out - I
am an expatriate here and I don't believe I have the right to tell the
citizens of this country how to go about their business'. Call it a cop-out
if you will, but exactly the same situation now exists in Zimbabwe - we
can't engineer regime-change, only the Zimbabweans can do that, and their
right to do so should not be usurped by any or all of their neighbours. By
all means outsiders should put the pressure on, as was the case for South
Africa and which helped the Nats and the ANC to sit down and agree the route
to real democracy (whatever that is supposed to be). Not until Mugabe and
his successor come to the table will Zimbabwe's woes cease to get any worse,
and this is what the SADEC leaders have to force onto the old man if they
can. You may not have covered the latest story that Zimbabweans have
threatened to disrupt the world cup in 2010. Now there is a seriously
important reason for this business to be sorted out!
Comment No. 503849
March 30 13:35
The problems Zimbabwe are facing today are the result of historical
injustices, regional inertia and, by far most importantly, internal economic
mismanagment and political repression. To paint Mr Mugabe as some sort of
lonely hero facing a western conspiracy against his country is an insult to
the many Zimbabweans who have seen their political freedoms, economic
livelihoods and personal health crumble under his rule. Adam Roberts is
right: the main problem Zimbabwe faces today is an ageing dictator afraid to
let go. This does not mean that things will inevitably get better when he
leaves, but it does mean that they will certainly not get better as long as
he stays on.
Comment No. 503871
March 30 13:42
ridaghaffari, your utter nonsense has no place here. Are you seriously
trying to tell me that Mugabe's disastrous economic policies are all due to
him refusing to "sell out" to the west? I won't even begin to go into the
reasons that your train of thought in all this is so flawed, as quite simply
there is not enough space here for it. All I can say is that idiots like you
go on about "Africa for Africans" etc when these kind of policies bring
nothing but disaster. The fact is that Mugabe has brought ruin and
devastation to his people and his country. He has brought a thriving economy
to it's knees and yet you would have us believe it's all the fault of the US
and Britain? What planet do you actually live on ridaghaffari? Utter
Comment No. 503897
March 30 13:50
Quite simply, Mbeki would love to start seizing farms too and end up
decimating the country's agricultural sector. He wholeheartedy agrees with
Mugabe's policies and for purely ideological reasons, would like to follow
suit as soon as is opportune. I think many have real difficulty
understanding just how entrenched amongst Africa's elite is the view that
all their problems are somehow related to some distant colonial past whose
legacy they need to destroy before they can move on. Feeding their own
people and preventing HIV are really secondary concerns of theirs. It's all
very well to stick your fingers up at the West and call Tony Blair 'gay'
like a gibbering madman, but the kind of disdain Mugabe and his cronies have
shown their own people is truly evil. May he choke on his own vom.
Comment No. 504003
March 30 14:22
I hope the Zimbabwean opposition have compiled long lists of names of people
who have been supporting Mugabe. And I hope they take a leaf out of Franco's
book and put them all up against a wall, or if that would be too ballsy,
then at least see that they start disappearing.
Comment No. 504025
March 30 14:30
Mugabe's land reform/grab was unleashed in order to retain power, following
his defeat in the 2000 constitutional vote and other protests from his
erstwhile strongest supporters, the war vets. His fear of eventually ending
up in the Hague for his atrocities in Matabeleland was the driving force,
not to right a colonial wrong. The beneficiaries of the land redistribution
have been his Zanu-PF cronies, not the landless majority. As well as
destroying the mainstay of the economy, agriculture (tobacco production down
from 2 million tonnes to 60 thousand tonnes), hundreds of thousands of black
farm workers have been displaced in addition to losing the expertise of the
white farmers to the region.
Mbeki's silence on the issue is deafening.
Mugabe is seen as a hero by many rank-and-file in the ANC,
and they are Mbeki's base. His calling for the targetted sanctions to be
lifted is ridiculous (they only apply to Mugabe and his cohorts), as is
Mugabe's claim that the sanctions are the reason for Zimbabwe's economic
Mugabe and Zanu-PF inherited a jewel of a country,
but they treated it as the spoils of war,
they have raped and degraded it and its people.
Those whoe support them should hang their heads in shame.
Comment No. 504081
March 30 14:51
ridaghaffari are you currently residing in an igloo on Mars perhaps?
Comment No. 504184
March 30 15:25
JackZilroy, do you really believe that Mbeki wants to do the same as Mugabi
and turn SA's economy to shit? Many West African leaders have been saying
for years now that to continue blaming the past for the present ills of the
continent is pointless and wrong. So not all of Africa's elites are still
blaming the past. Yet to deny any responsibility for the inadequate systems
we left in place is also wrong.
As others have said, until those around him start to see their fortunes in
down instead of up, Mugabe will not be removed. And Mbeki will not speak out
against someone who he still sees as a victor against white rule.
Comment No. 504193
March 30 15:30
streathamite:"the author has not acquainted himself with the rather large
gap between public rhetoric and private reality in Southern African
I agree there is a large gap, but I doubt it often works in favour of the
streathamite:"in public, Mbeki, Mwanamasa, guebuza et al will close up and
present a united, rocklike face before those dam' Europeans. In private, you
can guarantee Mugabe will have been told - in no uncertain terms - that it's
Why can you guarantee that? Why would you even think that? Mbeki, like
Mandela, has shown consistent support for other totalitarian governments and
clearly their own political views are not that far removed from Mugabe or
Saddam or Castro. So why would you think any such thing? More likely they
tell Black South Africans what they think they want to hear (Mugabe is a
hero and Whitey deserves it) while telling White South Africans what they
think they want to hear (we cannot break ranks but we are deeply concerned
and are working hard in private to bring about a face-saving change) while
telling Mugabe something like the Truth (we are with you Comrade).
streathamite:"Mbeki doesn't want turmoil on the northern border preventing
him from his aim of turning RSA into the regional superpower (only african
Actually Mbeki inherited the position of regional superpower from the
Whites. No other power in Africa can challenge RSA.
streathamite:"Wars in this part of the world have a tradition od spilling
over borders; THAT is the thing they wish most of all to avoid."
Although Zimbabwe looks like spilling over as it is. First it was soldiers
in Congo and now it is Angolans in Zimbabwe.
streathamite:"I think ZANU-PF now sees the Old Man as a liability, to the
point where a palace coup now seems inevitable."
I agree. The only thing that Marxist Leninist tend to agree on is the
importance of power. Mugabe is coming to the point where he threatens the
Comment No. 504246
March 30 15:50
I can see the point ridaghaffari is trying to make. We have seen from Iraq,
countries that have relative stability under dictator control do tend to
fall apart when the dictators have been removed. This is not the case
however with Zimbabwe, the country is already in a state of turmoil and yes
Mubabe might argue that this is for freedom of hid people, but he is not the
one that is having to live in poverty and he has the luxury of being
protected from the daily violence that people in Zimbabwe have to endure.
Comment No. 504247
March 30 15:50
Strange to see Mugabe being treated like a poster boy. It is interesting to
wonder where people who bandy about words like imperialists and
neoliberalism actually live. No doubt, safely bedded down in sound countries
that they would consider imperialist, neoliberal and all other pejorative
terms a sour person can spew forth.
If Africa is for Africans could these anti-imperialists ask themselves what
millions of Africans are doing residing anywhere but in their own
anti-imperialist countries and why. These millions who experienced
colonialism/imperialism drifted everywhere else except Mugabe's country
Mugabe despite his anti-West, anti-white government attracted no one, not
even the most virulent and anyone who had the good sense to leave did and
that included 2 million desperate black Zimbabweans.
Diseased minds see imperialists and neoliberalism everywhere. Suffice it to
say that millions did not feel the need to emigrate under imperialist rule
when there was such a thing.
Comment No. 504287
March 30 16:07
Am I the only one who has noticed (sheeptaco you do too.) that almost none
of those who extole the virtues of countries like Cuba, N. Korea, Iran,
Zimbabwe... ever seem to emigrate to those lands of justice, prosperity, and
bliss for all. Strangely they reside in the UK or the US or a similar land
of imperialists, capitalist pigs, and warmongers. Talk is cheap. If you
really want to see people vote, don't listen to them talk, watch their feet.
Does anyone migrate from the US or UK to Zimbabwe?
Comment No. 504310
March 30 16:17
I don't understand the reticence of South Africa's Mbeki and others. When
The ANC called on Britain and the US to renounce its links with apartheid
South Africa the standard answer was that the Brits and Yanks could exercise
a moderating influence over the Afrikaners, etc etc. In other words the
Whites could never quite get themselves to oppose the South African Whites.
How times have NOT changed. Now Blacks cannot bring themselves to criticise
Blacks (except for the great Tutu). This hypocrisy is at the root of so much
that is wrong with Africa. Look where it was. Look where it is. A once
fertile and rich continent where Africans still scrabble for a living
despite enormous wealth. African political leaders have taken to corrupt
practices with a vengeance. Sorry: African leadership is shallow and without
integrity. For once they cannot blame the US and Europe. Mugabe is a
disgrace. those who support his regime are tainted. It is time for Africans
to deal with their own shortcomings honestly.
Comment No. 504322
March 30 16:23
ridaghaffari: "Robert Mugabe is the last embodiment of African leaders who
were/are truly faithful to the idea of "Africa for the Africans"
Would you also be supportive of a European leader who had a stated policy of
'Europe for Europeans'?
Comment No. 504368
March 30 16:45
If you want to see Mbeki sping into dramatic action, just tell him that
Mugabe is really Ian Smith in disguise. Hypocricy rules!
Comment No. 504418
March 30 17:03
People are being too hard on "ridaghaffari". It is true that Zimbabwe's
current woes are the fault of the West. Mugabe has tried as hard as he can
to get his economy working again but the West just won't give him a chance.
And the truth, OldGray, is that North Korea really isn't that bad. Sure
there are occasional food shortages but again, have you thought why that
might be? There's an emabargo on North Korea. The West simply won't give
that place a chance either. Same goes for Cuba. And I fear for Chavez in
Venezuala. Just watch the U.S. tighten the screws there over the next couple
of years. At the moment Venezuala is booming and the powers that be in some
Western Capitals don't like that so they will plot to ruin the economy. It's
exactly what happened in Zimbabwe. Through the 80s and 90s the country
prospered under Mugabe. But when the great leader started to speak out
against Washington and B-Liar in London, then things started to go bad. Have
you noticed that?
Comment No. 504494
March 30 17:35
OldGray - am i the only one to have noticed that you ain't the sharpest tool
in the box?
NO-ONE is saying that Cuba is paradise on earth - what progressives will do
is stand up for her right to decide her own course, free from interference
by a certain superpower which is rather too fond of global bullying.
"Why can you guarantee that? Why would you even think that?"
one word; STABILITY. the SA economy is brittle, and over-dependent on
mining. a totally imploded zim will not only cause SA a huge illegal
immigrant problem 9the border is virtually impossible to secure totally) but
will inevitable affect the SA one adversely. Equally, SA is a multi-ethnic
nation, certainly not free of intertribal strife, and such volatility could
have serious spinoffs.
and this goes for africa's richest economy. imagine how much worse it would
be for zambia or botswana.
"Mbeki, like Mandela, has shown consistent support for other totalitarian
he owes a debt to Mugabe and ZANu which he has to be seen to repay, but
beyond that his position on zimbabwe is usually silence. he is caught
between not being seen to sell out someone with a glorious anti-imperialist
past - and not being seen as dodgy on human rights. he's in a bind.
and sorry, but you're wrong. He has NOT shown support to ANY other
authoritarian regime (which is the word you want - zim is NOPT a
totalitarian state, in the sense that the 3rd Reich or soviet russia were).
"and clearly their own political views are not that far removed from Mugabe
or Saddam or Castro."
There is a world of difference between each of these leaders and if you do
not know that difference you're in no fit state to comment.
and again, you are wrong. Mbeki has 100% democratic and progressive history
and views, albeit in a very paternalistic way (and with the exception of
AIDS, on which issue he is simply an ignoramus). Not one bit of
state-sponsored HR erosion has gone on inside RSA borders during his time in
In fact, the arrival of full democracy in RSA in 1994 saw the constitution
tightened and strengthened considerably, and in general the ANC have
generally played it straight, above and beyond the usual posturing.
Comment No. 504534
March 30 17:58
humbug is now unofficially the dominant commen global policy - pace
zimbabwe, the un response to the iran/uk dispute, the palestinian/israeli
crisis, the joke that is the new "power-sharing agreement" in ulster, pfi,
ppp, the IT con on the nhs etc. et al, ad infinitum absurdio
Comment No. 504537
March 30 17:59
TheFamousEccles:"If you want to see Mbeki sping into dramatic action, just
tell him that Mugabe is really Ian Smith in disguise. Hypocricy rules!"
If only Smith had known - he could have dressed like a Black and White
Minstrel! Would anyone have cared about Rhodesian human rights if the
government was African? I think not.
Uhuru:"People are being too hard on "ridaghaffari". It is true that
Zimbabwe's current woes are the fault of the West. Mugabe has tried as hard
as he can to get his economy working again but the West just won't give him
a chance. And the truth, OldGray, is that North Korea really isn't that bad.
Sure there are occasional food shortages but again, have you thought why
that might be? There's an emabargo on North Korea. The West simply won't
give that place a chance either. Same goes for Cuba. And I fear for Chavez
in Venezuala. Just watch the U.S. tighten the screws there over the next
couple of years. At the moment Venezuala is booming and the powers that be
in some Western Capitals don't like that so they will plot to ruin the
economy. It's exactly what happened in Zimbabwe. Through the 80s and 90s the
country prospered under Mugabe. But when the great leader started to speak
out against Washington and B-Liar in London, then things started to go bad.
Have you noticed that?"
Wonderful. What a brilliant piece of satire. There's an embargo on North
Korea? By whom exactly? Surely we all support saving North Koreans from
being exploited by international monopoly capitalism?
streathamite:"NO-ONE is saying that Cuba is paradise on earth - what
progressives will do is stand up for her right to decide her own course,
free from interference by a certain superpower which is rather too fond of
I think that you will find many "progressives" will say that Cuba is as
close as Latin America gets to a paradise. They want more than for Cuba to
be allowed to decide her own course - although of course, that is precisely
what America is allowing them to do.
streathamite:"one word; STABILITY. the SA economy is brittle, and
over-dependent on mining. a totally imploded zim will not only cause SA a
huge illegal immigrant problem 9the border is virtually impossible to secure
totally) but will inevitable affect the SA one adversely."
South Africa has a massive illegal immigrant problem - some three million
Zimbabweans. Not that there is a lot of signs they care about the quality of
life down in the ex-Townships or among Blacks in general. However more
worrying for them would be the idea that the international community might
hold *them* responsible if they get away with holding Mugabe responsible.
Don't want to set that sort of precedent.
streathamite:"Equally, SA is a multi-ethnic nation, certainly not free of
intertribal strife, and such volatility could have serious spinoffs."
All of which would strengthen the ANC as they could impose martial law or
streathamite:"he owes a debt to Mugabe and ZANu which he has to be seen to
repay, but beyond that his position on zimbabwe is usually silence. he is
caught between not being seen to sell out someone with a glorious
anti-imperialist past - and not being seen as dodgy on human rights. he's in
No he is not. He has simply chosen to put politics before humanity. He is a
friend of The People, but not people.
streathamite:"and sorry, but you're wrong. He has NOT shown support to ANY
other authoritarian regime (which is the word you want - zim is NOPT a
totalitarian state, in the sense that the 3rd Reich or soviet russia were)."
That is utterly not true. Mandela has frequently spoken in support of
Castro, Qaddafi and Saddam. Zimbabwe cannot get away with being totalitarian
I suppose, and for a long time did not need to as ZANU won elections. But I
would say while it is not as totalitarian as the USSR, it is more so than
Nazi Germany which was not very totalitarian.
streathamite:"There is a world of difference between each of these leaders
and if you do not know that difference you're in no fit state to comment."
Oh really? Do tell. What is the difference between the "former" Marxist
Leninists in the ANC and in Cuba? I agree Saddam was in a proto-Fascist
Party but one that took a lot of advice from the USSR, copied many of its
structures, and given that they are all "former" now, I think there is a
great deal in common between them all.
streathamite:"Mbeki has 100% democratic and progressive history and views,
albeit in a very paternalistic way (and with the exception of AIDS, on which
issue he is simply an ignoramus)."
I agree totally with that - but according to what the Left means by
democratic and progress (ie Marxist).
streathamite:"Not one bit of state-sponsored HR erosion has gone on inside
RSA borders during his time in office."
Apart from the end of independence in the civil service, and the repression
or buying off of political alternatives.
Comment No. 504561
March 30 18:08
Uhuru: "Through the 80s and 90s the country prospered under Mugabe. But when
the great leader started to speak out against Washington and B-Liar in
London, then things started to go bad. Have you noticed that?"
The economy didn't decline because he spoke out against Britain and the US.
It declined partly because of his involvement in the war in the Congo.
The economy then really went into a nos dive when he seized the land of
white farmers who were a major source of foreign currency earnings in
When that sector of the economy collapsed they ran into huge current account
deficits which sparked a major rise in inflation.
It's almost entirely Mugabe's fault so don't put this on the West.
This is what started the collapse:
In the middle of Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence in
1980, President Robert Mugabe's government is reported to be spending
millions of dollars each month on the war.
Zimbabwe does not share a common boundary with the DR Congo, and is under no
strategic threat from within the country.
Instead, there are signs that Harare is pouring money into the war with the
hope of reaping longer-term financial rewards from its relationship with DR
This is what made it fall even further:
Gideon Gono, the governor of the central reserve bank, appeared to
acknowledge that his nation had been shattered by Mr Mugabe's "land reform
According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Mr Gono also acknowledged
that the lack of food production had led to food imports gobbling up foreign
currency reserves desperately needed for fuel and spare parts for machinery.
Mr Gono told a panel of MPs in Harare that many black farmers, including
politicians, who resettled on former white-owned farms, were failing to
"There are some people who have become professional land occupiers,
vandalising equipment and moving from one farm to another," Mr Gono told a
parliamentary committee on home affairs.
Comment No. 504586
March 30 18:24
It appears that human rights violation is allowed when the violator is of
the right ethnicity (as is the case of Darfur).
It is difficult to understand how some people still view the "new" South
Africa's as a moral compass.
Comment No. 504590
March 30 18:27
Adam Roberts claims that Mugabe ordered the Zimbabwe police to 'beat up
Tsvangirai'. This is just amusing--because I just don't think Mugabe gets
involved in the minor details of police work.
But the question remains: why are the Western media spending so much time on
a small African country? The answer is simple! It's because Mugabe--pushed
by the war veterans--decided to reverse the British colonial policy of
massive land theft--in colonial Zimbabwe. Idi Amin burst onto the pages of
the Western media for the same reason: he chose to reverse British colonial
policy in the same arrogant high-handed way the British colonial government
That's exactly what happens when ordinary mortals--in the guise of any of
those silly and pompous European colonial governments--foolishly believe
that they are a cut above their fellow humans. Things must indeed be
desperate when in order to save what's left of their faces they have to rely
on Tshombe-like figures like faux Captain Morgan Tsvangirai.
Comment No. 504686
March 30 19:21
Mugabe is a vicious, murdering, tyrannical pig of a man.Excuses don't cut
the mustard;he does'nt give a solitary F... about his people,his orders are
responsible for the deaths of thousands of men women and children.He is a
scumbag of the first rank.
No leader of men with any humanity and sand in his soul behaves like Mugabe.
It is high time he was'nt here.
Comment No. 504687
March 30 19:21
Mugabe is a vicious, murdering, tyrannical pig of a man.Excuses don't cut
the mustard;he does'nt give a solitary F... about his people,his orders are
responsible for the deaths of thousands of men women and children.He is a
scumbag of the first rank.
No leader of men with any humanity and sand in his soul behaves like Mugabe.
It is high time he was'nt here.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Date: 30 Mar 2007
DAR ES SALAAM, 30 March 2007 (IRIN) - Analysts have dismissed a regional
summit called to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe as a "non-event" after
leaders at the two-day Southern African Development Community (SADC)
extraordinary summit in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, resolved to
curb political confrontation in the country ahead of next year's elections.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who heads SADC's security arm, told a
press conference late on Thursday that the summit had asked South African
President Thabo Mbeki to lead the task of promoting dialogue between
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic
The summit followed running battles between pro-democracy activists and the
police in Zimbabwe, in which an opposition supporter was shot dead by
police, and opposition leaders, including Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC, were
arrested and allegedly beaten in custody earlier this month. Major news
channels across the world have shown images of their injuries.
Zimbabwe has been simmering for the past two months, but the situation has
taken a violent turn since the police imposed a ban on political rallies in
February. Strikes and protests to highlight the worsening economic situation
have now given way to bombings of police stations, a passenger train and a
supermarket, among other targets across the country.
"You have the opposition complaining of infringement on their rights, and on
the other hand the government accusing the opposition of violence and
disobedience of the law," said Kikwete. "The situation is not good both ways
and SADC has decided to act."
John Makumbe, a Zimbabwe-based political analyst, commented: "The outcome of
the summit was quite disappointing for the people of Zimbabwe. There was no
mention of human rights abuse by the state machinery, let alone any
condemnation. The appointment of Mbeki, who has already failed to make any
headway with his approach of 'quiet diplomacy' over the past six years,
amounts to nothing."
Deputy chair of the SADC, Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa, recently broke
ranks with the regional body to admit that "quiet diplomacy has failed to
help solve the political chaos and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe", and even
likened the country to "a sinking Titanic, whose passengers are jumping out
in a bid to save their lives."
Brian Raftopoulos, a Zimbabwean academic and African affairs specialist at
the South Africa-based Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, said he was
"not surprised" that the regional leaders had chosen solidarity over any
rebuke. "By attempting to show solidarity at any cost, SADC has sent a wrong
message by showing disregard to human rights abuses, which will have
negative consequences for democracy in the region."
He pointed out there was no timetable announced for the dialogue process,
nor "do we know how different the mediation process is going to be from the
Mbeki indicated in 2006 that he had grown increasingly weary of trying to
resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis. He told the South African Broadcasting
Corporation that in 2004 his 'quiet diplomacy' policy towards Zimbabwe had
almost resulted in a deal between the ruling ZANU-PF and the MDC on a new
"They were actually involved in negotiating a new constitution for Zimbabwe,
and they ... completed it ... they gave me a copy initialled by everybody
... so we thought the next step then must be to say, 'where do we take this
process?'. But then ... new problems arose among themselves. So we watch the
situation and, to the extent that we can help in future, we will," Mbeki
"They asked us to assist, to mend relations among themselves. It didn't
work. We tried to intervene but I think the rupture had gone too far," he
Last year Benjamin Mkapa, a former Tanzanian head of state, was asked by
regional leaders to help find a solution to the divide between Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and an opposition that rejects the legitimacy of his
government. Mkapa took over from former Mozambican president Joaquim
Chissano, and Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, among others, who have all
failed to make headway in promoting dialogue in Zimbabwe over the past few
The SADC's executive secretary, Tomaz Salamao, has been asked to undertake a
study on the economic situation in Zimbabwe and propose measures for how the
regional body can help the country recover.
Kikwete said the SADC was also appealing to the international community to
lift sanctions and accommodate Zimbabwe, instead of isolating the country.
"Diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe, the European Community and the
United States are not healthy," he said. The meeting also reiterated that
Britain should honour its compensation obligations regarding land reforms,
made at the Lancaster House constitutional conference that culminated in
Zimbabwe's independence in 1980.
Zimbabwe's chaotic fast-track land reform programme, launched in 2000,
nationalised all agricultural land and then leased around 4,000 previously
white-owned commercial farms to landless blacks for 99 years. The programme,
condemned by Western governments for its forced evictions, slashed the
country's foreign exchange earnings and helped trigger the current economic
The Zimbabwean government has maintained that it is unable to compensate
former commercial farmers for the land because it does not have the money,
but that it will pay for improvements on the land, such as dams and other
UN appeals for funds
Rashid Khalikov, New York Director of the United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, appealed to the Security Council on
Thursday for more funds to help Zimbabwe meet the challenges posed by a
'triple threat' of food insecurity combined with a high incidence of
HIV/AIDS and declining social services.
Aid agencies estimate that 1.8 million metric tonnes of maize are needed to
feed the people of Zimbabwe, yet this year's harvest will only provide
Although the country's authorities have announced that an additional 400,000
metric tons of maize will be distributed, "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", Khalikov told reporters after the closed-door meeting.
Around 1.8 million Zimbabweans, or 18 percent of the population, have
HIV/AIDS, but only 50,000 have access to antiretroviral therapy treatment
when at least 350,000 must be treated to contain the disease, he pointed
out. The government has made a commitment to increase the number of people
receiving treatment, but "there is a lot of concern over the capacity of the
government, and the health services are in quite poor shape", he said.
Khalikov said he told the 15-member Security Council that of the $240
million needed to meet humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe, only 13 percent had
been contributed, and most of it has been channelled into the food sector.
As a result, "education, water and sanitation, and health have not been
properly covered, therefore, the United Nations is not in a position to
provide assistance to the population of Zimbabwe in a comprehensive way".
He added that the government's urban eviction campaign (Operation
Murambatsvina, 'Clean Out Trash', in 2005) and land-reform programmes had
"exacerbated the situation on the ground, and makes the position of those
who are most vulnerable even more difficult".
The Zimbabwean government has requested that a joint assessment by the UN
Food and Agriculture Organisation and the UN World Food Programme be
undertaken to determine the exact food needs of the country, and then to
fashion a response to the problem.
Khalikov said this assessment would most likely be carried out in April and
Catholic World News
Harare, Mar. 30, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The Catholic bishops of Zimbabwe
have condemned their country's "overtly corrupt leadership" in a strongly
worded pastoral letter.
The bishops' statement, which will be released officially on April 5--
Holy Thursday-- appeals for "peace and restraint" in public protests, and an
"unambiguous No to power through violence, oppression, and intimidation."
Without naming particular officials or endorsing any particular political
action, the bishops make a devastating critique of the regime headed by
President Robert Mugabe.
"The people of Zimbabwe are suffering," the bishops say in opening
their letter. "Our country is in deep crisis."
That crisis, the bishops observe in their detailed analysis, includes
pervasive poverty, ubiquitous public corruption, and a complete breakdown in
the country's systems of health, education, public services, and
transportation. A land-reform program enriched the elite while failing to
help the poor, and thousands of families remain homeless after evictions
that were carried out with "inexcusable violence." The country's
unemployment rate is an astonishing 80% and inflation is running at 1,600%,
creating an economic disaster that "has made the life of ordinary
The bishops note that Christians are prominent members of all the
country's political factions, and engage in the brutality that has marked
recent political struggles. After joining for the Eucharistic celebration on
Sunday, the bishops say, "the next day, outside the church, a few steps
away, Christian state agents, policemen, and soldiers assault and beat
peaceful, unarmed demonstrators and torture detainees." Denouncing this
"unacceptable reality on the ground," the bishops demand that Christians
bring their public behavior into line with their professed beliefs.
The young people of Zimbabwe, the bishops complained, "see their
leaders habitually engaging in acts and words which are hateful,
disrespectful, racist, corrupt, lawless, unjust, greedy, dishonest and
violent in order to cling to the privileges of power and wealth." True
reform is impossible, they write, as long as the political elite clings to
power and privilege at the expense of the common good.
In their unsparing criticism of the regime, the bishops conclude that
the wealthy white colonial settlers who once exploited the people of the
nation then known as Rhodesia have been replaced by a new black elite
equally bent on exploitation. "None of the unjust and oppressive security
laws of the Rhodesian state have been repealed; in fact, they have been
reinforced by even more repressive legislation," the bishops charge.
Concentrating their fire particularly on the government that has used
arrests, beatings, and intimidation to crush political opponents, the
bishops write: "It almost appears as though someone sat down with the
Declaration of Human Rights and deliberately scrubbed out each in turn."
monsters and critics
Mar 30, 2007, 10:15 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - A senior opposition official in Zimbabwe said Friday
there was lots of dishonesty at this week's summit of regional leaders that
appeared to endorse President Robert Mugabe's latest controversial clampdown
on his opponents.
'In our view there was lots of dishonesty in Tanzania,' said Tendai Biti,
the secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led
by Morgan Tsvangirai.
'We're not disappointed. We didn't expect they'd do anything meaningful and
they haven't done anything meaningful,' he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa
in a telephone interview.
At the end of a hastily-convened two-day summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,
leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) reaffirmed
their solidarity with Mugabe's government and called for the lifting of
British, US and EU sanctions.
There had been hopes that the leaders might express some criticism of recent
rights abuses in Zimbabwe, which have seen the beatings and arrest of top
Instead the leaders said merely that President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa
should try to engage the government and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in talks.
Its nothing new. We've been on that road before, Biti said, pointing out
that Mbeki was part of an ineffective Commonwealth troika on Zimbabwe
appointed in 2002, that also included Australian Prime Minister John Howard
and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Biti said the SADC leaders had made a dishonest prognosis of a sick person
by saying Zimbabwe's problems were a result of targeted sanctions against
the government and wrangles over land with former colonial power Britain
'Its about lack of democratic space, human rights abuses, thuggery. Its
about Robert Mugabe, a tyrant,' he said.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
From correspondents in Harare
March 31, 2007
THE Zimbabwean opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change has
denounced overnight the prospect of veteran President Robert Mugabe standing
for re-election next year, calling it a "tragedy" for the country.
"This is a tragedy for the country. This country will not move so long as
Mugabe is there," the party's secretary general Tendai Biti said overnight
"It's also a shame on Mugabe's part.
After mismanaging the country for 27 years he now wants to stand for another
five years," he said.
Mr Biti was reacting after Mr Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party endorsed the
83-year-old as its candidate in next year's presidential elections.
ZANU-PF earlier approved plans for a constitutional amendment which would
reduce the presidential term from the current six to five years.
The MDC has already indicated that it will not field a candidate against Mr
Mugabe whom it accuses of having rigged the last elections in 2002.
Monsters and Critics
Mar 30, 2007, 7:03 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's police chief Augustine Chihuri has accused
Western countries of being behind a recent spate of petrol bombings in the
country, reports said Friday.
'There are some political forces bent on trying to cause disorder in the
country and engage in acts of terrorism in the name of democracy,' Chihuri
was quoted as saying by the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
'It is simply the Western world in the midst of supporting and sustaining
these acts of terrorism,' said the police chief, an open supporter of
President Robert Mugabe and his party.
There have been at least nine petrol-bomb attacks over the past two weeks.
The authorities blame the attacks on democratic resistance committees they
say have been set up by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
Earlier this week at least 35 MDC activists including a member of the
party's national executive committee were picked up by police for alleged
involvement in the attacks.
The MDC says the petrol bombings, which have targeted police stations, a
passenger train, petrol tankers and a supermarket, are the work of state
agents bent on tarnishing the opposition's image.
'The political machinations are tailor-made to court international sympathy
and justify the continued receipt of undeserved donor funds by the willing
perpetrators of the thuggish activities,' Chihuri said.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
New Era (Windhoek)
March 30, 2007
Posted to the web March 30, 2007
You may think this is shooting the messenger. Yes, why not shoot the
messenger if he/she is not playing by the rulebook.
Our messenger in this case seemed little disposed to all of the
aforementioned thus inviting some calculated missiles. I am referring to the
recent theatrical display by the Zimbabwe ambassador.
In her defence of her motherland, she gave a new meaning to diplomatic
acumen by attempting to discolour the picture emerging from her country.
Discolour is being mild and in keeping in mould with the diplomatic and
dignified status of diplomacy, although the ambassador seemed to care little
with this code.
Somehow, she seemed out of tune with the reality or should one say the hard
facts of the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe. She tried to make us
believe that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, as bruised and battered as he appeared in pictures emerging from
the country, was not beaten. There could not have been any question that he
was beaten. The only question was by whom? Yet the ambassador wanted us to
believe otherwise. I know it's her duty to defend her country through thick
and thin but when such defence borders on hoodwinking, she is doing the
country she is loyal to and serving dutifully more harm than good. One would
have thought spin-doctoring is part of the diplomatic sophistry.
Either she did not have full information as to what may have happened or was
happening at the time or in the event she could have done her job properly
if she had dared to wait on more information. No comment, especially when
someone does not have enough information to authoritatively clarify a
situation is a perfect excuse in public relations, and I don't see why it
should be an exception in diplomatic circles.
Meanwhile, I could not understand the hasty expectation on the Namibian
Government to join wildcat public condemnations of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a
friendly and sisterly/brotherly nation to Namibia. Namibia thus has to its
disposal the necessary diplomatic channels through which it can friendlily
advise Zimbabwe rather than shouting condemnations.
And I am sure at every available occasion Namibia must have communicated to
her sister-country its concern about the prevalent situation. Allow me to
quote from the Founding President a few weeks after he had assumed office:
"In the field of foreign policy, Government will plan a constructive role in
order to reduce tension in the world's hot spots and to promote
international cooperation and dialogue My Government, through its membership
of the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement, OAU and the Commonwealth will
contribute its quota, however insignificant to the promotion of world peace
I am sure this remains the cornerstone of Namibia's engagement on the
international level. May I add to this the Southern African Development
Community (SADC). Our President is currently in Tanzania among others to
attend to the simmering situation in Zimbabwe. The rest I must say is
One thing must however be clear, and I am sure the Government is aware of
that. What is happening in Zimbabwe definitely cannot be in the interest of
Zimbabwe, let alone Namibia and the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC), or the continent at large. Zimbabwe's friends have a duty not only
to impress this upon their friend but to constructively help the Zimbabwean
people to extricate themselves from the retrogressive situation prevailing
in the country.
With hindsight, one may have an understanding for the restlessness and
uneasiness among domestic stakeholders with the perceived Government's
silence on the matter. They may not have been informed of what the
Government's thinking is about the Zimbabwean situation. For that one can
only blame the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "In a
democracy, citizens have a right to be informed of issues that affect the
nation, in domestic and international affairs. In particular, the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs must both inform and educate public opinion about
developments abroad affecting the country," reads a paragraph from a rough
draft Namibian Foreign Policy. I don't know to what extent this paragraph
has been incorporated into our current Foreign Policy?
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Everyone agrees that what Zimbabwe needs is competent administration, but
few would concur with Robert Mugabe that only he has those skills.
By Joseph Sithole in Harare (AR No. 106, 30-Mar-07)
When Zimbabwe began its steep slide into economic and political crisis,
President Robert Mugabe declared that nobody could have managed the economy
better than he had done.
He might as well have said nobody had ruled Zimbabwe better than he had - if
only because he has been its sole leader for the 27 years since the end of
settler rule in 1980. Thus, responsibility for the disastrous state of the
economy has to rest squarely with him.
President Mugabe appears to believe his leadership is essential to the
country's economic and political well-being. At the national assembly of the
Women's League of the ruling ZANU-PF on March 24, he asserted that it was
Britain that set up the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, in
order "to protect their interests that were threatened by the land
reclamation exercise". For that reason, he said, the MDC would never rule
Zimbabwe as long as he was alive.
"We fought for this country and its resources will remain ours forever. I
have 83 years of struggle, experience and resilience and I cannot be pushed
over. and I have seen it all. It is my country that I fought and struggled
for, and here I shall die," he declared to wild applause.
A political analyst who teaches at a Zimbabwean university commented, "If we
didn't know Mugabe well enough, we would accept the views of those who say
these are the empty words of an old man. Unfortunately, Mugabe believes
every word he says. He believes he is qualified to rule until death. He sees
it as an entitlement."
He seems to believe that in the armed struggle of the Seventies, it was he
who single-handedly liberated his country from colonial bondage. Without his
presence at the helm, he believes Zimbabwe would slide back into colonial
And just as he sees himself as indispensable, he is dismissive of those
around him, including his own ZANU-PF. Just last year he said he would not
leave the presidency as long as the party was "a shambles".
There is a double message here. First, the threat of recolonisation has an
immediate appeal to older Zimbabweans who experienced colonial rule and the
pain of the liberation war first-hand, especially in rural areas. No one
would want to experience such violence again.
The other point is that anyone in ZANU-PF who has designs on the leadership
must wait until the day the party regains stability and Mugabe can finally
relinquish power. This is a ploy the president used as early as 2002, when
he said he would leave office as soon as land reform was complete.
But this position of strength looks as if it is coming to an end, as
resistance begins to stiffen inside the ruling party as well as outside it.
His disastrous management of the economy has helped to build that
The late Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere described Zimbabwe as a "jewel of
Africa". At independence, Mugabe inherited a country with a strong currency,
yet today it takes more than 20,000 Zimbabwean dollars to buy one US dollar.
Annual inflation is 1,700 per cent and rising, unemployment is around 80 per
cent, and average life expectancy had plummeted from around 60 years at
independence to about 35.
Seven years ago, Zimbabwe was able to feed itself and still export surplus
maize to the region. Today there are clinics with no medicine, and pupils
are dropping out of school either because parents can't afford the fees or
because the children are starving.
Yet it was Mugabe who as prime minister expanded primary education and made
it free for everyone, and opened health clinics in every district. But it is
evident now that these good intentions were not backed up by a concern for
managerial competence in his administration.
After independence, ZANU-PF soon forgot about its socialist "Leadership
Code", according to which senior party officials were expected to declare
their assets and income sources. Mugabe allowed corruption to flourish by
failing to ensure officials were prosecuted even when they were named in
The same happened with ill-planned and violently executed land revolution
launched in 2000, which highlighted the fact that astute management was not
a feature of Mugabe's political projects. Experienced commercial farmers
were chased out of their flourishing enterprises, to be replaced by party
cronies who saw the farm seizures as an opportunity to become fabulously
wealthy without breaking a sweat.
Despite ordering seven land audits so far to see who owns what property,
Mugabe has not acted on their findings, which reveal that ministers, local
officials and members of the security forces acquired more than one farm
each, in breach of the policy's stated goal of fair land re-destribution.
Similarly, Mugabe has proved unwilling or incapable of acting against senior
officials who have been accused of illegally dealing in precious minerals.
There are police reports showing that the president knows who is involved,
but beyond empty threats, he has done nothing.
"The evidence is there that Mugabe is a poor manager," said another analyst
based in the country. "If he had left office in 1990, when the economy and
education were still functioning, his legacy would be unrivalled.
"Unfortunately, he allowed power to go to his head and believes nobody can
do better. The result is a disaster that will take decades to repair."
The analyst said it was difficult for anybody within the system to openly
challenge Mugabe for the presidency, because all potential leaders are his
creations and are therefore compromised.
"Most senior ZANU-PF officials are beneficiaries of Mugabe's patronage. He
made them who they are," he said.
The analyst said there were nevertheless officials who would be able to work
in collaboration with current opposition members so secure the transition.
"There are many people who can do better, but we have to get Mugabe out of
the way first. After all, at independence nobody had any experience in
governance. What is needed for new leaders to emerge is an orderly
transition and transfer of power," he said.
"What is the point of the opposition starting all over again when there is a
lot of talent to tap into? "We need the best [people] for the leader to
"Mugabe believes he is the best. And the results are there for all to see."
Joseph Sithole is a pseudonym used by a reporter in Zimbabwe.
March 30 2007 at 04:02PM
The Southern African Development Community's (SADC) decision to
appoint President Thabo Mbeki as mediator in Zimbabwe was both lauded and
ridiculed on Friday.
"The Inkatha Freedom Party welcomes SADC's decision to call on
President Thabo Mbeki to lead efforts to promote discussions between rival
political parties in Zimbabwe," IFP spokesperson Ben Skosana said in a
The party had recently called for an honest broker, such as Mbeki, to
organise all relevant factions in Zimbabwe to start negotiating.
"We are therefore extremely pleased that the IFP's suggestions were
echoed by SADC, and we hope to see constructive talks between Zanu-PF and
the o opposition MDC (Movement for Democratic Change), so that democracy in
one of the most troubled countries on the African continent can be
restored," Skosana said.
However, the Democratic Alliance's (DA) Joe Seremane sounded a
"Once again South Africa and the SADC have been taken hostage by
President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF," he said in another statement.
Instead of taking action on the massive human rights violations in
Zimbabwe, the SADC leaders decided to call for a lowering of sanctions in
what could possibly be interpreted as open support of the Mugabe regime.
The leaders at the summit should have called for smart sanctions
against Mugabe, his wife and members of his government, such as a travel ban
within the SADC, and the freezing of all their externally held assets.
This call should have been led by Mbeki, as an acknowledgement of the
vicious poverty, deprivation and human rights abuses that the people of
Zimbabwe were suffering as a direct result of the actions of Mugabe and his
government's policies, Seremane said.
"Calling on President Mbeki to be the mediator between Zanu-PF and the
MDC is pointless.
"President Mbeki has already been called upon to be the point-man in
negotiations in Zimbabwe, and he has achieved nothing."
This was because Mbeki's policy choices with regard to Zimbabwe were
"If they were not flawed the situation there would have improved. It
has not. The problem is the process, not the individuals running it."
A further indictment of the SADC meeting was its utter failure to
address, to even mention, the attacks on the democratically elected
opposition party members, who were assaulted by government forces.
SADC's statement that "the extraordinary summit reaffirms their
solidarity with the government and the people of Zimbabwe", was highly
revealing, because the people of Zimbabwe were effectively at war with their
government; they were not one and the same.
"This suggests that the Zimbabwean government and its president
behaved in a legitimate manner. This is totally unacceptable."
History would severely judge all the leaders who showed solidarity
with Mugabe and Zanu-PF at the expense of the basic human rights of ordinary
Zimbabweans, Seremane said. - Sapa
March 30, 2007, 19:00
President Thabo Mbeki says South Africa and the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) are better positioned to deal with the situation in
Zimbabwe. This follows the SADC meeting held in Tanzania yesterday to
discuss the worsening crisis in Zimbabwe.
Mbeki says it will be wrong for the various political parties in Zimbabwe to
attach conditions for the commencement of discussions between themselves. In
an interview with the SABC, Mbeki spoke about the willingness of the
Zimbabwean government and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to find a
solution to a deepening economic and political crisis.
Mbeki remains confident his efforts in Zimbabwe will yield progress, and
once again dismissed criticism of his preference for dialogue. "Both MDC
groups - the one led by Tsvangirai, and the other by Mutambara - have not
complained to us. Mugabe and Zanu-PF have not complained..." said Mbeki.
At the summit, SADC leaders called for sanctions to be lifted against
Harare. That in stark contrast to Western powers demanding tougher action.
"As a region we are quite convinced that the only way to solve the problem
is the direction we have taken," said Mbeki.
MDC faction wants Mugabe out
But the road to peace will not be without challenges. The MDC faction led by
Morgan Tsvangirai has already warned it will not enter into dialogue with
Zanu-PF if Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, remains a part of the
Mbeki has warned against such pre-conditions. "If people have issues to
raise, they should raise it in the context of discussion," said Mbeki.
Mbeki's efforts alone will not be enough. He will need the unqualified
support of both parties, and that leaves little room for the
confrontationist rhetoric that has defined relations recently.
By Violet Gonda
30 March 2007
Southern African heads of state have been heavily criticised for blindly
backing Robert Mugabe at a summit in Tanzania, despite international
condemnation over the rights abuses in Zimbabwe. European Union legislator
Geoffrey Van Orden said it was a step in the right direction that regional
leaders even had a summit at which they discussed the Zimbabwe crisis, "but
the outcome has been perhaps predictable and rather disappointing."
After being briefed by Mugabe himself on the current political developments
in Zimbabwe, the leaders of the Southern African Development Community
appealed for the lifting of 'sanctions' against members of the regime. They
also appealed to Britain to honour what they said were it's compensation
obligations with regard to land reform made at Lancaster House and appointed
South African leader Thabo Mbeki as the point man to bring the stakeholders
to the negotiating table. This despite Mbeki's dismal track record with his
'quiet diplomacy' that has had no effect.
Van Orden said the summit was a great opportunity for Zimbabwe's neighbours
to tell Mugabe to stop brutalising his own people and come to terms with the
opposition. When asked if he saw the European Union lifting the targeted
sanctions, the British MEP responded by saying; "We never want sanctions
against anyone or any group of individuals or indeed any country. The whole
issue of sanctions is to encourage change and once that change has happened
of course the sanctions can be lifted. That is very clear."
He added: "What needs to happen is that Mugabe needs to step aside and have
proper free and fair elections in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean people need to
be freed from this tyrannical rule. These are the steps that need to be
taken and sanctions can end, after all the sanctions are not aimed at the
Zimbabwean people. They are aimed at Mugabe and his close group of henchmen,
you know, all 130 of them."
It had been hoped that the African leaders were finally going to censure 83
year old Mugabe, but observers say the SADC communiqué clearly shows that
they are still siding with Mugabe.
Van Orden also said the appeal by the summit heads to Britain to honour its
land compensation obligations was misleading, as the United Kingdom has
always been willing to assist with the land reform programme under proper
conditions. He said: "That money has always been on the table there is no
question about that. What we are not going to do is hand over money to
Mugabe for him to deepen his brutality."
The Dar-es-Salaam SADC Summit had met to discuss the political, economic and
security situation in the region, with special focus on the situations in
Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
29 March 2007
Freelance Journalist Arrested
Frank Chikowore, a freelance journalist, was on 28 March 2007 arrested in
Harare when the police cordoned off the central business district and raided
the offices of the opposition MDC at Harvest House in the Zimbabwean
Chikowore is in police custody at Harare Central Police Station where he is
being held together with 35 MDC supporters who were arrested following the
police raid on Harvest House. Chikowore was arrested while covering the
police actions during which they searched the MDC offices.
Lawyers representing Chikowore and the MDC supporters said they were now
considering filing for an urgent High Court order as the police were denying
them access to their clients.
For any questions, queries or comments, please contact:
Research and Information Officer
Media Institute of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe
84 McChlery Ave
P.O Box HR 8113
Tel/Fax: 263 4 776165 / 746838
Cell: 263 11 602 448
At least 45 members of the MDC secretariat arrested during a mid afternoon
raid at the party's headquarters in Harare Wednesday have been granted bail
by a Harare magistrate.
Magistrate William Bhila granted the group $50,000 bail each , except for
12 others, facing allegations of bombing police camps.
The State case is that the group was part of Democratic Resistance
Committees that the MDC has formed to destabilize the country ahead of the
2008 presidential elections.
Police armed with teargas canisters, rubber and wooden buttons and AK 47s
invaded Harvest House, the MDC headquarters along Nelson Mandela avenue in
Harare and dispersed every one attending the press conference. At least two
journalists are among those arrested.
Meanwhile Therersa Makone was granted bail this morning after she appeared
in court together with three others abducted at their homes.
Piniel Denga and Ian Makone, who were arrested together with Ms makone,
were expected to appear in court later today.
By Tichaona Sibanda
30 March 2007
Police in Harare on Friday failed to comply with a High court order to take
all those arrested in the latest crackdown to court by 2pm, the MDC
reported. The number of those in police cells is estimated to be above 200.
Jessie Majome, the MDC's deputy secretary for Legal Affairs, said they don't
know the exact number of people who have been abducted by the security
forces, adding that only a handful were taken to court Friday while the rest
are still being detained. High court Judge Joseph Musakwa ruled in an urgent
hearing Friday that police should ensure every detainee arrested during the
crackdown must be taken to court by 2pm.
'Only high profile activists of the MDC have managed to appear in court and
about 5 have been taken to hospital suffering from injuries inflicted in
police cells. This is a justice system that is failing to serve any purpose.
The police can't cope, court officials can't, everything is just crumbling,'
She said nine of of their activists have already been charged with attempted
murder in connection with a string of alleged fire bombings, illegal
possession of a firearm and of explosives, charges the MDC insist were
invented in an attempt to demonise their party.
'We sincerely don't know how many have been abducted but reports we are
getting say among the detainees are MDC employees, students, members of
civic groups and leaders of the Combined Harare Residents Association. To
make matters worse, the detainees are not getting any food,' Majome said.
Meanwhile Human rights Watch has released a statement accusing Mugabe's
regime of permitting security forces to commit serious abuses with impunity,
against opposition activists and ordinary Zimbabweans alike.
Tiseke Kasambala, an official with Human Rights Watch, said the country's
security forces have been responsible for arbitrary arrests and detentions
and beatings of opposition MDC supporters, civil society activists, and the
Kasambala who was in Zimbabwe compiling cases of abuses said what she saw
shocked her. She told Newsreel the government has intensified its brutal
suppression of its own citizens in an effort to crush all forms of dissent.
'Witnesses and victims we interviewed told us that security agents have been
patrolling many high density suburbs, randomly and viciously beating people
in the streets, shopping malls, in bars and beer halls. Security agents are
also going house-to-house beating people with batons, stealing possessions
and accusing them of supporting the opposition. The terror caused by the
police has forced many families in the affected areas into a self-imposed
curfew after dark,' said Kasambala.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Fri 30 Mar 2007, 9:16 GMT
By Tim Cocks
KAMPALA, March 30 (Reuters) - At a rally denouncing a government raid on
Uganda's High Court, a lawyer beaten by security men during the invasion
held aloft his bloodstained shirt as colleagues shook their heads in disgust
Kiyimba Mutale suffered head wounds during an hours-long siege at the court
on March 1 aimed at re-arresting bailed treason suspects.
At the rally two weeks later, he defiantly addressed colleagues who walked
off the job in support of judges who went on strike in protest at the
raid -- stopping court business and shaking the east African country's
"We are descending into a situation with no rule of law," Mutale told
Reuters. "Government is holding legal institutions in disdain whenever they
make judgements against it."
But Africa's judiciary are fighting back. On a continent where successive
waves of rule by colonisers then African strongmen have limited their
authority, courts are trying to assert their independence and stand up
against what they say is a catalogue of abuses by autocrats.
"There are rules to the game and if they do not stick by those rules, people
get hurt," James Ogoola, a top Ugandan judge known for his caustic criticism
of official wrongdoing, told Reuters in a warning to the government.
In Zimbabwe, where a crackdown on opposition gatherings has sparked
international outrage, the High Court there issued several rulings against
President Robert Mugabe, including one ordering security forces to allow a
When Mugabe defied the ruling, the court ordered opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai freed and for police to release the body of an activist killed by
the security forces.
In Nigeria, a court ruled against attempts by President Olusegun Obasanjo to
stop Vice President Atiku Abubakar running in next month's presidential
polls -- although the electoral commission ignored the ruling. Abubakar has
Courts there also overturned three illegal impeachments of state governors
by the executive.
Lawyers' associations are optimistic African courts can make a difference by
taking such stands.
"In Africa, lack of respect for and political interference with judiciary
continue to (be) challenges. ... Strong judges ... can serve as a push back
to interference," the American Bar Association writes on its Web site.
LAW AS THE ENEMY
Analysts say at the heart of this conflict is a distrust of laws inherited
from former European colonisers.
"The rule of law has been seen as the enemy, as rule of the colonial
oppressor," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director for Human Rights Watch.
"To reverse that entrenchment, African leaders started a deterioration of
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has defended the High Court siege, but
promised to investigate alleged abuses.
Not all attempts to hobble courts are as explicit as those in Uganda, a
nation with a violent, coup-laden past.
"Countries like Uganda have a history of using the military to get power,"
said Anne Muthoni, judicial reform officer at the International Commission
of Jurists' Kenyan branch.
"Somewhere like Kenya, there isn't such blatant undermining of the rule of
law. It is more subtle," Muthoni said.
"Ministers (in Kenya) sometimes openly disobey a court order and no one can
stop them," Muthoni said. "In these cases you need the public to speak out."
Judicial appointments themselves are often politically motivated, despite
In 2003, shortly after President Mwai Kibaki's election, he suspended 17
members of Kenya's High Court bench on corruption allegations, but Muthoni
said this was largely a purging of judges loyal to the previous regime.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a five-year war left courts at the
mercy of President Joseph Kabila.
"All the judges in the Supreme Court were named by Kabila and many decisions
(have been) favourable to him," said Jason Stearns, International Crisis
Group's central Africa analyst.
These include denying amnesty for men implicated in killing his father and
rejecting opposition complaints of voting fraud.
Africa's history is full of martyrs to the cause of judicial independence.
Benedicto Kiwanuka, chief justice under Uganda's late former dictator Idi
Amin, was murdered by Amin's henchmen in 1972 for repeatedly refusing to
bend the law.
In 1996, Judge Kabazo Chanda ruled against Zambia's parliament imprisoning
two editors on an independent daily. Then-President Frederick Chiluba
removed him a year later.
Yet in a continent beset by such conflicts, President Thabo Mbeki has set
South Africa apart from many peers by frequently bowing to judicial
decisions, such as a 2003 ruling ordering the government to distribute
anti-retroviral drugs to AIDS victims.
"The constitutional court has often ruled against (the ruling party). They
might complain, but they accept," Takirambudde said. (Additional reporting
by Joe Bavier in Kinshasa and Lagos and Johannesburg bureaux)
Monsters and Critics
Mar 30, 2007, 8:39 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - The Zimbabwe government is about to increase the price
of bread in a move that will stir unease among burdened consumers, the
official New Ziana news agency reported Friday.
Bread is supposed to be sold at 825 Zimbabwe dollars per loaf, more than 3
US at official rates of exchange but only a few cents at widely-used
parallel market rates.
Standard loaves have all but disappeared from shop shelves in the past
fortnight. Bakers complain the cost of inputs has rocketed.
Now only so-called fancy loaves are being sold, at prices ranging from
5,000 - 7,000 Zimbabwe dollars. Bakers say it costs more than 5,500 Zimbabwe
dollars to produce one loaf, without taking into account rising transport
That means a domestic worker whose government-approved monthly salary is
12,500 Zimbabwe dollars can only afford two loaves of bread per month.
Industry and Trade Minister Obert Mpofu said the official prices
stabilization committee was looking at submissions from bakers before
announcing the new bread price, New Ziana reports.
'We are monitoring developments in the market and we will actually be giving
our position as soon as the committee finishes looking at the proposals,'
the minister said.
Bakers complain that by the time the government announces the new prices,
they would have been eroded by inflation, according to Bakers' Association
of Zimbabwe vice chairman Vincent Mangoma.
Annual inflation is currently running at more than 1,729 per cent.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Amid reports that Renault plans to produce its budget Logan in South Africa,
one Chinese manufacturer has now released its plans to assemble its range to
passenger cars in Zimbabwe.
Few details have been offered, though new manufacturer Paddy has announced
the crippled Zimbabwe features prominently in its plans to expand outside of
its native market into the lucrative sub-saharan market.
Zimbabwe has been earmarked for its close proximity to South Africa, which
has already been identified as a key component to the Paddy expansion plan,
its low cost of employment given high unemployment levels, and the recent
absence of any recognised homologation standards.
More details are expected to be released shortly.
The Herald (Harare)
March 30, 2007
Posted to the web March 30, 2007
A power failure at the Darwendale raw water pump station yesterday adversely
affected purification at Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant, resulting in
reduced supplies to the city's reservoirs.
The reservoirs fell to critical levels but the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority pledged to restore uninterrupted supplies in all areas by the end
of today .
Yesterday northern and eastern suburbs, among them Msasa Park, and Hatfield
in the south were cut off but supplies would begin today.
Hogerty Hill and Philadelphia, which were dry for the whole of yesterday,
were expected to start getting supplies last night.
Zinwa reported that levels in the Alex Park reservoir were satisfactory,
allowing pumping to Highlands, Philadelphia and Hatcliffe. Pumping from the
reservoir was briefly disrupted after another power failure hit the
reservoir pumping station.
Letombo reservoirs remained critical at 15 percent full, but pumping to
Donnybrook was in progress.
According to the daily Harare water status report, the Darwendale raw water
pump station suffered a three-hour power failure between 3am and 6am
"Because of the power failure, we were operating with four big, one medium
and one small pump from 0325hrs to 0425hrs, then three big, and one small
pump from 0425hrs to 0635hrs," the report said.
Two other big pumps were later re-introduced at 0635hrs.
Maintenance work at pump stations, water mains and sewers continued
yesterday but was affected by the shortage of critical resources such as
transport and spare parts.
Zinwa reported that blocked sewers and spillages in high-density areas of
Mbare, Budiriro and Glen View had been attended to.
"We have managed to clear most of the blocked sewers and spillages in
Chitungwiza," read the report.
However, The Herald was inundated with calls from St Mary's residents
complaining of blockages with sewage spilling into households.
Monsters and Critics
Mar 30, 2007, 14:39 GMT
Johannesburg/Harare - Huge power cuts are looming this Easter in Zimbabwe as
the authorities shut down a key hydropower station for maintenance, reports
Power utility ZESA Holdings is due to shut down Kariba hydropower station on
April 8 to allow experts to carry out checks on Kariba Dam wall, state
broadcaster Newsnet said on its website.
The power station usually generates more than 700 megawatts of power and is
Zimbabwes main source of locally-generated electricity.
The power utility was still coming up with other contingency measures to
cushion up business and other such services that cannot afford to close even
during holidays, Newsnet reported ZESA spokesman James Maridadi as saying.
It was not immediately clear how long the station will be shut for.
Zimbabwe's power supply has been shaky for months, with industry complaining
it has been crippled by frequent blackouts.
ZESA wants to up its tariffs to be able to recoup costs and maintain
infrastructure but the authorities fearful of rising dissatisfaction among
Zimbabweans have so far not been willing to allow big price hikes.
Kariba is on the Zambezi River along Zimbabwe's northern border with Zambia.
A power station on the Zambian side of the dam is also due to shut down on
the same day, the report said.
Zimbabwe reportedly imports up to 1,000 megawatts of power from surrounding
countries a situation that has left it vulnerable to a projected regional
power shortage this year.
It also has a few coal-fired power stations, which have been hit by
breakdowns and coal shortages.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
30 Mar 2007 15:20:56 GMT
HARARE, March 30 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main labour union said on Friday it
would go ahead with a job boycott next week but said there would be no
street marches for fear of possible violent official reprisals.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said the majority of its
affiliate unions had backed the April 3-4 stay away because President Robert
Mugabe's government had not complied with demands to improve workers'
The workers want a minimum wage of 1 million Zimbabwe dollars ($4,000 on the
official market but worth $50 on the black market) and for the government to
resolve an economic meltdown and increase access to anti-retroviral drugs.
Police last September thwarted a planned peaceful protest by the ZCTU and
arrested its leaders and a dozen workers, who said they were beaten and
injured while in police custody.
Police also moved to stop an opposition rally this month, arresting and
allegedly beating several opposition leaders in a move which drew widespread
"Considering the current environment, the ZCTU is saying people have to stay
at home, stay indoors (because) it has to be as peaceful as possible," ZCTU
president Lovemore Matombo told journalists, acknowledging fears of a
Analysts say the ZCTU's calls for strikes over labour and social issues in
recent years have largely failed due to government intimidation and workers'
fears of losing their jobs in a country that has an 80 percent unemployment
Zimbabwe is in the throes of damaging economic crisis, which has seen
inflation pass 1,700 percent, unemployment rocketing to 80 percent and
worsened shortages of foreign currency and food.
Matombo said the ZCTU would be carrying out work stayaways every three
months if workers' concerns were not addressed.
The government has since last month imposed bans on protests and rallies
across much of Harare after police clashed with opposition supporters.
We are starving; we will eat your teargas. - Zimbabwe National Students
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has resolved that:
All workers be mobilised to stay away from work from 3 to 4 April 2007
National actions will be called for after every three months and they will
be incremental until the situation improves
Poverty. Hyperinflation. Oppression. Unemployment. Failure of basic
Show your disagreement with how our country is being mismanaged and SUPPORT
the ZCTU and STAY AWAY ON 3 and 4 April 2007
Read the ZCTU communique about the stay away on
http://www.zctu.co.zw/html/stmts/21906.shtm or contact them for more
information, on email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +263-4-794702/42 or
Lobby your friends and colleagues - forward this email on to them.
Let the workers organise. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized
voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all
thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labour is the future of
ZIMBABWE CONSERVATION TASK FORCE
28th March 2007
TRAGEDY IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
On Saturday, 24th March 2007, two tourists were killed by a young elephant
bull in musth. The tourists were part of a group who were walking with a
game guide inside Hwange National Park.
During the walk, the young bull charged the group. The guide was knocked
over after discharging his rifle but he was unable to stop the elephant.
We would like to offer our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of
the deceased and to warn anybody planning a trip to Hwange National Park to
exercise extreme caution whilst in the presence of elephants.
The elephants in Hwange do not have a peaceful existence. They have become
increasingly skittish around humans because they associate them with gunfire
due to subsistence poaching, commercial poaching (for ivory) and the fact
that Zimbabwe is the only country in Africa where shooting game for weekly
rations is legal. The recent removal of 12 juveniles from their herds for
use in the tourist industry and elephants being trapped in wire snares
doesn't help their mood either. Professional hunters and elephant
researchers have stated that it is not usual for an elephant to charge and
kill humans for no reason.
A recent newspaper article stated "Zimbabwe plans to cull its growing
elephant population to limit damage to the environment and reduce conflict
with humans". It went on to say that the elephant population has grown to
over 100 000, more than twice the carrying capacity of 45 000.
We don't believe anyone really knows how many elephants there are in
Zimbabwe. Research has revealed that in Hwange National Park, where there is
the highest concentration of elephants in the country, the elephant
population fluctuates between 25 000 in a dry year and 45 000 in a wet year.
It is very difficult to ascertain the number of elephants we have in Zimbawe
because they migrate between the neighbouring countries in search of water.
An interesting point is that according to a census conducted in Hwange
National Park in 2001, which was an extremely wet year, it was estimated
that there were 45 000 elephants in the park and a similar figure was
estimated in 2006, another wet year. This suggests that the population
growth has stopped because the figure for 2006 should have been in the
region of 54 000, based on a 3.7% growth rate per annum. Even so, it cannot
be concluded that there are 45 000 elephants in Hwange National Park because
the estimates during the drier years were between 25 000 and 30 000.
With regard to elephant influence on other large herbivores, even though
most herbivore populations have declined in parallel to the increase in the
elephant population, research has been carried out and no drastic change in
the vegetation structure at the landscape level could be identified. A
paper has been published (Valiex et al.2007 in J Trop Ecol) that shows 2
vegetation structure maps of a study area in Hwange National Park. The first
map shows the vegetation structure for the period 1979-1984 when there were
approximately 13 000 elephants in the park and the second shows the
vegetation structure for the period 1999-2005 when the elephant population
had increased to approximately 35 000. It is quite clear even to the layman
that the changes in the vegetation structure are minimal. If anyone would
like further clarification or to see these maps, please email
The Zimbabwean authorities' reasons for wanting to cull are:
The elephant population has "grown" to over 100 000 - but there are
indications that it is not growing at all in Hwange National Park and can
they prove there are over 100 000 elephants? If the population in Hwange
hasn't grown, then how can we assume that it has grown elsewhere? Despite
poaching and other disturbances, the elephants in Hwange are probably safer
than anywhere else.
The elephants are damaging the environment - but research has been carried
out that shows that the presence of large numbers of elephants in a specific
area over a 20 year period does not cause any drastic identifiable changes
in vegetation structure.
There are increasing incidences of elephants attacking humans - but if the
elephants were allowed to enjoy a peaceful existence and had not been given
a reason to fear humans, they would not be acting in this abnormal manner.
If the authorities persist in claiming that there is a "population
explosion" of elephants in Zimbabwe, surely culling isn't the only way of
solving the problem. There are areas in Zimbabwe such as the Umfurudzi
Wilderness where some of them could be moved to. Contraception is also an
option. We believe that culling will only worsen the problem of the
elephants' aggressive behaviour towards humans because it involves gunfire
and trauma. Elephants targeted for a cull could conceivably communicate
their trauma to other elephants within a 50km radius. It has been
scientifically proven that they are capable of doing this. If this happened,
they would be extremely dangerous to humans.
Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Tel: 263 4 336710
Fax/Tel: 263 4 339065
Mobile: 263 11 603 213
Mar 29th 2007 | HARARE
From The Economist print edition
Zimbabwe's despotic leader, a man of puzzlingly different identities, is a
past master at holding on
IN AN African village, everyone is expected to work. From an early age
children are taken to the fields and told to carry water or to hunt. Eight
decades ago, when the land that is now Zimbabwe was run by British settlers,
one small boy chose to toil for his family by taking on solitary tasks. Sent
to herd cows, he would avoid other children and tramp off to isolated
grazing spots. He would not scrap with the other boys, a traditional way of
passing the time.
This weakling did not even play at hunting. Instead he would weave dry grass
and reeds into small nets, stuffing them with feathers and moss. He would
set his traps by a river and then wait for hours, resting with a book in the
shade of a tree. Eventually he would snare a small bird or two, providing a
tiny bit of protein for the family pot. None of this made him popular. He
was bookish, a swot and very close to his mother. His father, a carpenter,
had disappeared early.
Remarkably little is known about Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the man who has
ruled Zimbabwe for nearly three decades and has led it, in that time, from
impressive success to the most dramatic peacetime collapse of any country
since Weimar Germany. Today Mr Mugabe is a near-parody of an African
dictator. He sports a Hitleresque moustache. He waves his fists at campaign
rallies, runs into crowds punching the air and spits personal abuse at his
opponents. But his rivals and enemies have regularly underestimated him;
and, in doing so, have made it all the harder to get him out of office.
His secret police, the much-feared Central Intelligence Organisation,
spreads dread in the cities, especially the poorer townships, after dark.
Early in March his goons hammered the country's opposition leader, a doughty
but dull former trade-union leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, almost to death,
provoking intense condemnation at home and abroad, but also successfully
intimidating ordinary people. A gardener in Budiriro township near Harare
describes how security men have harassed residents to stop street protests,
even battering a pregnant woman until she lost her baby. On March 28th
police again arrested Mr Tsvangirai.
The attacks on Mr Tsvangirai have improved his public standing-just as Mr
Mugabe burnished his, long ago, by going to prison while fighting for an end
to white rule. But another refrain did the rounds in Harare last week: if
the leader of the opposition cannot guard himself, how can he protect his
ordinary supporters if they dare to protest?
Young men are beaten regularly by police with truncheons known as
knobkerries, long synonymous with repression in this part of the world. On
March 27th a trade-union meeting in Mutare, in the east of the country, was
stormed and broken up by police who claimed it was being held without
permission. In the parks of Harare, groups of sullen security men with
shotguns, rifles and riot gear can be seen lurking in the bushes. According
to Chris Maroleng of the Institute for Security Studies, a South African
research outfit, Mr Mugabe "has emptied out the state and filled it with the
military". He may yet preserve his tottering regime by brute force alone.
Mr Mugabe is certainly willing to resort to force when cornered. But as long
as the deft bird-catcher has other choices, he is probably clever enough to
limit the violence. Though widely hated, he has a gift for making people do
as he says. For roughly a decade pundits have predicted his imminent
departure from office-forced out by elections, a referendum, political
protest. But each time Mr Mugabe has held on.
Many Zimbabweans, paradoxically, both despise and admire him. Charismatic,
well-educated and genuinely clever, he is not merely a thuggish clown like
Uganda's Idi Amin. His commitment to improving schools for all Zimbabweans
is widely known. Less noted is his personal role in doing so: even as
president, the former schoolteacher took time to give lessons to staff at
State House, teaching some who have since become ministers. Though the
country is ruined, Zimbabwe's streets still throng with boys and girls in
neat school uniforms.
Yoga and sadza
Mr Mugabe is also a shrewd performer, switching from Shona to English to
send different messages to different audiences. He exploits foreign
condemnation of his rule so effectively that Britain's government,
especially, now rarely comments on Zimbabwe. His playground jibes against
the foreign leaders he dislikes-Britain's Tony Blair is "a boy in short
trousers"-provoke laughter even among the hungry who want to see him gone.
Next month his government plans to set up a 24-hour propaganda station,
News24, to counter "negative publicity" from the West. "Nothing frightens
me," said Mr Mugabe at a meeting in Harare on March 23rd. "I make a stand
and stand on principle here where I was born, here where I grew up, here
where I fought and here where I shall die."
At 83 he still works punishing hours, rarely returning from the office until
late evening, and is sharper minded than most, perhaps all, of his many
opponents. He is said to rise before dawn, well before the rest of his young
family, and to start the day with yoga exercises. He is frugal, typically
taking no breakfast but sipping tea throughout the day. His doctors say he
is in formidable good health.
Heidi Holland, the author of a forthcoming book, "Dinner with Mugabe", who
has interviewed many relatives and colleagues of the president, sees him as
sprightly and canny. Whenever possible he eats sadza-the local maize
porridge-with a relish of vegetables, usually with his hands in the
traditional way of the Shona people. Unlike many African dictators, with
their fierce appetites for booze, meat and women, Zimbabwe's leader is
teetotal, a near-vegetarian and by all accounts faithful to Grace, his young
second wife. His tailor notes that Mr Mugabe's measurements (he likes vents
at the sides of his jackets and cannot abide double-breasted suits) have not
altered in 20 years.
Yet the old man seems to be ever more isolated. Just as the boy had few
friends, argues Ms Holland, the president has grown increasingly lonely. His
first wife, Sally, a Ghanaian, was probably his closest friend and adviser.
Former ministers recall how Mr Mugabe, when mulling a tricky problem, would
announce "I'll ask Sally", and the matter would be postponed until he had.
Some date the beginning of Mr Mugabe's misrule, and the collapse of
Zimbabwe, to her death in 1992, and his marriage to Grace, a former
secretary, whose main preoccupation is shopping.
Certainly the president has grown touchy as the years have passed. One
former cabinet minister, Jonathan Moyo, describes how Mr Mugabe fell into a
fierce sulk after rivals suggested he quit, in 2006. For days the president
refused even to meet any of his ministers and broke his silence only after
his priest intervened. Others confirm his eerie ability to exert a "silent
power": refusing, for example, to say a word in one-on-one meetings, to the
deep consternation of the other party.
Today it seems that his isolation is growing, especially within the ruling
Zanu-PF party. In December Mr Mugabe tried to convince his party to postpone
next year's presidential elections until 2010, but the idea was not received
with great enthusiasm, and the decision was delayed until a meeting of party
leaders that is taking place this week. His one-time protégé, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, who was so close to the president that he earned the moniker "Son
of God", is thought to be plotting with Solomon Mujuru, the former head of
the army and husband of the current vice-president, to persuade Mr Mugabe to
go. Both men have fallen out of favour with the president, and the country's
economic meltdown is hurting their vast business interests. They are said to
be talking not only to each other, but also to Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), though Mr Mugabe has sidelined many rivals before.
And neither man, if he were to become Zimbabwe's leader, would be likely to
be any less dreadful for the country.
An English gentleman
The time may have come when Mr Mugabe's great age-the average Zimbabwean
woman can expect to die at just 34, the average man at 37-is a liability.
Usually in Africa age is treated with enormous respect. Yet some now
describe the president with open scorn. "It is time for the madala to go,"
says a resident of one township beside Harare, contemptuously using the
Shona term for an old man. Mr Moyo snorts that "over the past few years
Mugabe has lost his skills. Many are now saying this guy is a victim of old
But pinning down Mr Mugabe and assessing his weakness has proved remarkably
difficult over the years. The man is constantly able to reinvent himself. He
is part African populist, prepared to snatch agricultural land from
commercial farmers-and thereby destroying one of Africa's most successful
economies-yet part Anglophile gentleman. Though neither the Zimbabwean
leader, nor Britain's government, is particularly keen to admit it, Mr
Mugabe is in large part the product of Western, especially British, values.
He dresses in Western suits and reads the foreign press regularly, though
almost never the local papers. One close observer says he is often seen with
The Economist. Despite his diatribes against imperialists, he has an almost
fawning respect for British tradition. Visitors, including his tailor, are
almost always offered a cup of tea. When Mr Mugabe entertained foreign
journalists after the elections in 2005, he posed between two (rather tatty)
stuffed lions at his colonial-era pile, as servants padded around with trays
in the background. He takes pains to instil good manners in his young
children, explaining that these are the manners of British royalty.
It is commonly said that Mr Mugabe can appear to be more English than the
English. He loves cricket, and has long been the patron of the Zimbabwe
Cricket Union. Until targeted sanctions prevented him doing so, his
favourite pastime was to travel to London. At the end of white rule in 1980
he formed relatively close relationships with the British officials who
oversaw the transition, sensibly agreeing not to throw the white farmers
out. When some of the farmers, in the late 1990s, started supporting
Zimbabwe's opposition, Mr Mugabe felt betrayed by London.
If his identity is hard to pin down, his fears and hopes are easier to read.
His greatest concern would seem to be avoiding an ignominious end while
protecting his family. It is telling how Mr Mugabe has dealt with his
predecessor, Ian Smith, the leader of white Rhodesia. He had strong reasons,
both personal and political, for disliking him. He was imprisoned by the
Smith regime, and was said to be particularly distraught when Mr Smith
denied him permission to attend the funeral of his first son, who died at
the age of four.
A degree in violence
Mr Mugabe is certainly still extremely bitter about this period. When asked
in 2001 if he recognised that Zimbabweans were suffering because of his
rule, he growled back that he had been jailed by Mr Smith and "we suffered
more under the British." Yet the cantankerous Mr Smith, who kept up his
verbal attacks on Mr Mugabe for years, was never touched or encouraged to
leave (though he voluntarily retired to South Africa a year or so ago).
Perhaps Mr Mugabe considered his white predecessor a spent force; more
serious opponents were put down brutally. Even if Mr Mugabe treated Mr Smith
gingerly, he has the blood of many others on his hands. He once boasted
that, in addition to his seven academic degrees, he had a "degree in
violence". Rival leaders in the independence movement died mysteriously as
Mr Mugabe took charge, one in a car crash but (some said) riddled with
bullets. An opposition newspaper saw its printing press blown up and
journalists tortured. Young opponents of the regime have been dragged to
camps where women are raped and men are beaten.
One particular concern of Zimbabwe's leader is that he may face prosecution
for overseeing the massacre of thousands of villagers by North
Korean-trained soldiers in Matabeleland, in the south-west of the country,
in the early 1980s. A bill calling for a new inquest into the Gukurahundi,
as the killings were known (it means "the early rain that washes away the
chaff"), is about to be introduced into parliament.
The opposition MDC, if it ever rules alone or in coalition (at the moment,
it is too broke and divided even to organise mass protests), says it would
not call on the state to try Mr Mugabe for these killings. But it wants
either a private prosecution or a case brought in an international court.
Many other instances of state-sanctioned murder and torture might be
examined too, including those strange deaths of Mr Mugabe's rivals at the
time of independence. Loss of immunity is one of the main costs, to him, of
losing power; he could probably not be persuaded to go unless some
comfortable deal for him was worked out in advance.
Yet he may be eased out eventually, not least because his African neighbours
are increasingly embarrassed by him. The arrest and beating of opposition
leaders has made it difficult for the region's leaders to sit on their
hands. At an emergency meeting of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) this week, Zimbabwe was back at centre-stage. President Levy
Mwanawasa of Zambia has put the matter bluntly: he compared Zimbabwe to the
foundering of the Titanic, and said that quiet diplomacy had failed.
But African leaders are unlikely to get out their megaphones. Their mumbling
and conciliation have continued. Only a few weeks ago, Mr Mugabe landed a
power deal with Namibia that should help ease Zimbabwe's crippling power
cuts. He also paid a recent visit to oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, which seems
happy to assist. Angola has been rumoured to be ready to send paramilitaries
to help retrain the Zimbabwean police, although both sides have now denied
So Mr Mugabe, for all his flaws, can still count on his anti-colonial
credits across the region. Most important, he can still count on them in
South Africa, though his relations with the ruling African National Congress
are as sour as can be. He derides South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki,
whom he sees as a grey, cautious upstart (and who is a generation younger).
Repeatedly Mr Mbeki has tried to broker talks between the opposition and the
ruling party on power-sharing in Zimbabwe, while failing to offer any
threats if Mr Mugabe does not agree. When Zimbabwe faced expulsion from the
IMF, South Africa offered to help if the regime cleaned up its political and
economic act. It was snubbed, and the central bank mopped up all the foreign
exchange it could find to pay the IMF.
All in all, Mr Mbeki has been left looking foolish and powerless. Today
South Africa provides Mr Mugabe with the most effective international cover
for his misrule, in part because Mr Mbeki, seeing in Zimbabwe a mirror of
his own country, dreads the idea of a trade-union leader overturning the
rule of an independence party.
The star and the sun
A more important relationship, however, may have been with Nelson Mandela.
Some date the start of Mr Mugabe's misrule to the emergence of his rival as
the great independence hero of Africa. Until Mr Mandela left his apartheid
prison, in 1990, Mr Mugabe could do no wrong. He was feted as an
anti-apartheid leader, a man who reconciled different races and presided
over a shining economy. Mr Mugabe was the star of the region, but then the
Mr Mandela promptly stole all his attention; South Africa's vastly bigger
economy drew investment, press coverage, foreign plaudits. To Mr Mugabe's
evident personal dismay, Zimbabwe was cast into the shade. Mr Mandela's
biographer describes Mr Mugabe twitching with distaste and annoyance when
the two men met, shortly after the South African won his freedom.
No love is lost between the two elder statesmen. Just as Mr Mandela emerged
as the voice of reconciliation and modernity in Africa, Mr Mugabe reverted
to populism, land-grabs and bashing foreigners. It is quite possible that Mr
Mugabe, increasingly bitter, dreams of holding on to power long enough to
see the back of some of his foreign rivals. He would love to be in office
when (in the middle of the year, most probably) Mr Blair resigns. Mr Mbeki
has only a couple of years to go. Mr Mandela's health is fading fast.
30 March 2007, 07:23 GMT 08:23 UK
By Joseph Winter
It has been an open secret in Zimbabwe for many years that Emmerson
Mnangagwa would like to succeed Robert Mugabe as president.
And Mr Mugabe has been almost toying with his emotions - one day
promoting him to senior positions in both the ruling Zanu-PF party and the
government, raising speculation that Mr Mnangagwa is the "heir apparent" but
later demoting him, after he possibly displayed his ambitions a bit too
He helped direct Zimbabwe's 1970s war of independence and later became
the country's spymaster during the 1980s civil conflict.
He is currently minister of rural housing, a relative backwater after
spells as minister of national security and speaker of parliament.
In 2005, he also lost his post as Zanu-PF secretary for
administration, which had enabled him to place his supporters in key party
This followed reports that Mr Mnangagwa, 60, had been campaigning too
hard for the post of vice-president, backed by his close ally, former
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.
Mr Mugabe sacked Mr Moyo from both party and government but Mr
Mnangagwa seems to be back in the president's good books.
The president has instead reportedly become alarmed at the activities
of Joyce Mujuru, who got the vice-president's job, and her powerful husband,
former army chief Solomon Mujuru.
Before his 2005 demotion, Mr Mnangagwa was seen as "the architect of
the commercial activities of Zanu-PF", according to a UN report in 2001.
This largely related to the operations of the Zimbabwean army and
businessmen in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zimbabwean troops intervened on the DR Congo conflict on the side of
the government and, like other countries, it was accused of using the
conflict to loot some of its rich natural resources, such as diamonds, gold
and other minerals.
But despite his money-raising role, Mr Mnangagwa, a lawyer who grew up
in Zambia, is not well-loved by the rank and file of his own party.
One veteran of Zimbabwe's war of independence, who worked with him for
many years, puts it simply: "He's a very cruel man, very cruel."
Another Zanu-PF official poses an interesting question when asked
about Mr Mnangagwa's prospects: "You think Mugabe is bad but have you
thought that whoever comes after him could be even worse?"
The opposition candidate who defeated Mr Mnangagwa in the 2000
parliamentary campaign in Kwekwe Central, Blessing Chebundo, would also
agree that his rival is not a man of peace.
During a bitter campaign, Mr Chibundo escaped death by a whisker when
the Zanu-PF youths who had abducted him and doused him with petrol were
unable to light a match.
Mr Mnangagwa's fearsome reputation was made during the civil war which
broke out after independence between Mugabe's Zanu party and the Zapu of
As National Security Minister, Mr Mnangagwa was in charge of the
Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, which worked hand in glove with the
army to suppress Zapu.
Thousands of innocent civilians - mainly ethnic Ndebeles, seen as Zapu
supporters - were killed before the two parties merged to form Zanu-PF.
Among countless other atrocities, villagers were forced at gun-point
to dance on the freshly-dug graves of their relatives and chant pro-Mugabe
Despite the 1987 Unity Accord, the wounds are still painful and many
party officials, not to mention voters, in Matabeleland would be reluctant
to support a Mnangagwa presidential campaign.
School of Ideology
Mr Mnangagwa, though does enjoy the support of many of the war
veterans who led the campaign of violence against the white farmers and the
opposition from 2000.
They remember him as one of the men who, following his military
training in China and Egypt, directed the 1970s fight for independence.
He also attended the School of Ideology, run by the Chinese Communist
On his official profile, Mr Mnangagwa says he was the victim of state
violence after being arrested by the white-minority government in the former
Rhodesia in 1965, after he helped blow up a train near Fort Victoria (now
"He was tortured severely resulting in him losing his sense of hearing
in one ear," the profile says.
"Part of the torture techniques involved being hanged with his feet on
the ceiling and the head down. The severity of the torture made him
unconscious for days."
As he was under 21 at the time, he was not executed but instead
sentenced to 10 years in prison.
He was born in the central region of Zvishavane and is from the
Karanga sub-group of Zimbabwe's majority Shonas.
The Karangas are the largest Shona group and some feel it is their
turn for power, following 27 years of domination by Mr Mugabe's Zezuru
From BBC News, 30 March
By Joseph Winter
Solomon Mujuru is a former army chief, often seen as Zimbabwe's
"king-maker". But after spending more than a decade wielding power from the
shadows, he may be about to emerge once more into public life - possibly as
president, or maybe as "first man". His wife, Joyce Mujuru, is
vice-president - the first woman to hold such a high-ranking role in
Zimbabwe. If Mr Mujuru wants to combine power with relative anonymity, he
may opt to back his wife for the top job - a scenario which many people
would interpret as him pulling the real strings. But Mrs Mujuru has -
wisely - denied having any presidential ambitions. Solomon Mujuru was the
director of Robert Mugabe's guerrilla forces during the 1970s war of
independence, which ended white minority rule. Using his "nom de guerre",
Rex Nhongo, he is also said to have played a key role in Mr Mugabe's rise to
the top of the Zanu party. Following independence, he carried on doing
pretty much the same job - as army chief, becoming a general. He was also
elected MP for the north-eastern Chikomba constituency, before leaving
public life in 1995 to concentrate on his business interests. But he has
always kept his senior role in the ruling Zanu PF party, where the real
power resides. This could give him some say in how and when Mr Mugabe leaves
But despite his long and close ties to Mr Mugabe, he reportedly over-stepped
the mark in recent days, meeting the US and UK ambassadors to Zimbabwe. Even
worse treachery - in Mr Mugabe's eyes - would be confirmation of reports
that Mr Mujuru had met opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, possible to
discuss a government of national unity for the post-Mugabe era. Mr Mugabe
has always portrayed himself as still fighting the colonial struggle -
against the west. He was widely believed to be referring to Mr Mujuru when
he said there had been "an insidious dimension where ambitious leaders have
been cutting deals with the British and Americans". "The whole succession
debate has given imperialism hope for re-entry. Since when have the British,
the Americans, been friends of Zanu PF?" he asked. This was a pretty severe
put-down for the Mujurus, who come from the same Zezuru branch of Zimbabwe's
majority Shona group as Mr Mugabe.
It might suit Mr Mujuru to remain behind the scenes. "He leads a very
private life," one Zanu PF insider told the BBC News website. There are very
few photos of him around. Mrs Mujuru, 51, on the other hand, has remained in
cabinet ever since 1980, when she was its youngest member. She left school
at the age of 18 to join the war of independence and adopted the name Teurai
Ropa (Spill Blood), before marrying Solomon Mujuru in 1977. She claims to
have shot down a Rhodesian helicopter with the machine-gun of a dying
comrade and was later promoted to commander. After spending her youth
fighting the war, she obtained secondary school qualifications and a degree
while in government. Before becoming vice-president, she was best known for
blocking a bid to set up Zimbabwe's first mobile phone network in the early
1990s. This was seen as not only a money-earner but a threat to the
government's control of information. As information minister, she managed to
thwart Econet long enough for Telecel, part-owned by her husband, to set up.
She was also one of the biggest beneficiaries of a scheme set up to pay
compensation to those injured during the war of independence. The scheme
paid out huge amounts of public money - one of the sparks for Zimbabwe's
subsequent economic collapse.
The Mujurus are accused of taking over at least one of the farms seized from
their white owners in recent years. Guy Watson-Smith has taken Mr Mujuru to
court to seek compensation after his farm was invaded by ruling party
supporters. He says the famous couple are living on the 3,500-acre Alamein
farm, 45 miles south of Harare. He says the infrastructure alone was worth
some $2.5m. He won a court order in December 2001 but is still trying to get
either the money or the farm. Emmerson Mnangagwa is the other man seen as a
possible Zanu PF successor to Mr Mugabe. He and the Mujurus have been
business, as well as political, rivals for more than a decade after Mr
Mnangagwa blocked Mr Mujuru's bid to take over the huge Zimasco chrome
smelting operation. Mr Mujuru is also a share-holder in the River Ranch
30 March 2007
IT IS often said that you can never take anything for granted in
politics. No one can attest to the truth of this better than SA's foreign
policy officials. The country's tenure in the United Nations (UN) Security
Council began in January with much promise, as both foreign policy officials
and the domestic media hailed SA's temporary ascension to the UN's most
significant decision-making body. Yet, within a month of joining, the
foreign policy establishment has come under severe criticism, not only from
western governments, but also from the domestic and international media, and
increasingly strident academics and political commentators.
The turning point was SA's vote preventing the increasingly
repressive situation in Burma from being put on the agenda of the security
council. Criticism was again raised when UN ambassador Dumisani Kumalo
initially objected to the council being briefed on recent developments in
Zimbabwe, and when he tried to significantly amend the sanctions package
against Iran for its refusal to terminate its nuclear enrichment programme.
Critics cannot understand how SA can, given its history, take
such a stance. Its conduct in all three cases is seen as antidemocratic and
in support of autocratic regimes. The claim by South African officials that
they are merely honouring the rules and processes of the UN is not taken
seriously. It is interpreted as a technical smokescreen to justify its
subversion of political principle.
But should one really be so dismissive of SA's reasoning? Is
there not a need for the UN's rules to be observed and its structures used
for the purposes for which they were intended? And is this respect for rules
and processes not part of the struggle to advance democracy itself?
SA's foreign policy establishment clearly believes so. And its
reasoning deserves to be heard. One of the biggest problems for countries in
the developing world is the undemocratic character of the global order. This
has not only created conditions in which rivalry among great powers has
undermined the prospects for security and freedom in large parts of the
developing world, but it has also significantly compromised the development
agenda of these countries.
Changing this situation is necessary if stability, freedom and
development are to be realised.
How to do this has become one of the overriding priorities of SA's
foreign policy. One of the strategies developed has been to pursue
multilateralism. In the South African foreign policy establishment's
perspective, the only way a developing country at the bottom of the African
continent can advance a developmental and democratic agenda is through
strategic alliances and the use of international institutions to constrain
But for these institutions to be used for this purpose, they
have to be legitimised and their rules need to be respected. Moreover, they
cannot be simply manipulated by great powers and used in ways that suit only
their purposes. This is precisely what has always occurred, but has become
even more blatant in recent years. The US and the UK use the UN when they
can get their way, and act unilaterally when they do not. When countries are
brought to the security council for violations of their citizens' rights,
they are selectively chosen. Burma and Zimbabwe are chosen because its suits
US and European interests. When countries such as Israel and Pakistan commit
such atrocities, they are not hauled in front of the council because they
are in alliance with the US in the war against terror.
This outrageous manipulation of multilateral institutions
constitutes a greater threat to international security, development and
democracy. And it is essential that a plan be developed to address this. So
when SA demands respect for the rules and processes of the UN, it should not
be ridiculed. Rather it should be celebrated and supported by all those
interested in democracy and a more just global order.
The real problem, however, is that both sides seem to be making
a tradeoff between two necessary struggles in the advance of democracy. The
South African foreign policy establishment seems to be prioritising the
reform of the international order, and ignoring the struggle for democratic
rights in national contexts. Its critics, on the other hand, prioritise
national struggles and seem sanguine about the democratisation of the
international forums. Neither position is reasonable. Both struggles need to
be waged simultaneously.
How is this to be done? First, it is legitimate for the South
African government to insist that the Burmese and Zimbabwean questions are
not put on the agenda of the security council, because they do not
immediately constitute threats to international peace. But they should take
the lead in making sure they are placed on the agenda of the Human Rights
Council, and they should provide leadership for international action to be
taken against regimes that violate the rights of their citizens.
Some of the critical responses need also to be subjected to
critical review. The more hysterical emotional responses do very little to
advance the struggle for democracy, in particular because they often
simplify and obfuscate the real issue. Critics must make sure that in their
haste to fly the flag of democracy, they do not simply direct it to
countries in the south, but also to those such as the US, whose actions are
undermining freedom and democracy across the globe.
They must make sure that they do not become the unwitting
soldiers of democracy for the neo-cons in Washington. After all, the path to
hell is often paved with good intentions.
Habib is executive director of the Human Sciences Research
Council's Democracy & Governance Programme. He writes in his personal