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British and American diplomats in roadside standoff with Zimbabwe police

Daily Mail, UK

Last updated at 16:20pm on 13th May 2008

Zimbabwean police stopped a convoy of ambassadors investigating attacks on
opposition supporters today and an officer threateningly drove his car
toward the U.S. ambassador during the standoff.

A UN official, meanwhile, warned that post-election violence could reach
crisis levels.

The diplomats involved in the incident at a roadblock on the edge of the
capital, Harare, have had tense relations with the government.

The group included U.S. Ambassador James McGee and the British envoy.

Police demanded the diplomats prove they had official permission for a visit
to hospitals and an alleged torture camp they had just completed.

Mr McGee insisted the convoy be allowed through and the 11 vehicles passed
through after about an hour. A police car escorted them back to the U.S.
Embassy before disappearing.

The incident reached its high point when a police officer threatened to beat
one of McGee's senior aides.

The officer got into his car and lurched toward McGee after he had demanded
the officer's name. The car made contact with McGee's shins, but he was not
injured.

McGee climbed onto the hood of the car while his aide snatched the keys from
the ignition, then the diplomats used their mobile phone cameras to take
photographs of the officer.

The confrontation was "a message to us, to try to control what we are
doing," said U.S. Embassy spokesman Paul Engelstad, who was among around 50
diplomats and journalists on the tour.

Japanese, EU, Dutch and Tanzanian envoys and an Associated Press reporter
were also in the convoy.

McGee noted the government has denied repeated reports from opposition
officials and human rights groups of government-orchestrated violence
against the opposition.

"The government has said, 'Present us with proof.' I think today we have
done just that.

"We do have concrete proof of what is happening in the countryside and the
government will have to listen," Mr McGee said.

A priest in northeastern Zimbabwe had led the diplomats to a lumber camp
whose main building was occupied by what witnesses told reporters were
ruling party militants.

McGee said when he confronted them, they hid four notebooks with
interrogation schedules.

The priest also led the diplomats to a church hospital where 22 people were
being treated after political attacks, some beaten so severely the flesh had
been stripped from their backs.

Doctors and nurses at the hospital said one person had died at the hospital
and another three had died in nearby villages after political attacks in the
last month.

The diplomats and journalists saw several other victims at a second
hospital.

The UN resident representative in Zimbabwe spoke of the escalating tensions
in both rural and urban areas.

"There are indications that the level of violence is escalating in all these
areas and could reach crisis levels," Agustino Zacarias told reporters.

He said the violence was preventing UN humanitarian agencies from reaching
people in need and had forced them to scale down operations.

Mr Zacarias said "several people" had died, hundreds had been hospitalized
and many more displaced by the violence, which was blamed on "some elements
of the security forces, youth militias and war veterans and gangs of
supporters."

He said there was an emerging pattern of violence targeting rural supporters
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Non-governmental organizations and civil rights defenders were being
targeted, Mr Zacarias said.

The UN representative's comments echoed those McGee made in an open letter
to media organisations published yesterday in the state-run Herald
newspaper.

The letter accused President Robert Mugabe's party of orchestrating violence
to intimidate opposition supporters before a runoff presidential election.

Mr McGee said the U.S. government has received confirmed reports of at least
20 deaths and more than 700 incidents of violence resulting in more than 200
people being hospitalized since the first round of voting March 29.

The paper in turn criticized McGee, accusing him of "very scandalous acts"
and of breaching diplomatic procedure by speaking out on the violence that
has riven Zimbabwe since the first round.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the most votes in the first round,
but not the simple majority needed to avoid a runoff, according to official
results.

Observers inside and outside Zimbabwe have questioned whether a second round
could be free and fair with the opposition unable to campaign freely because
of attacks and threats.

No date for a runoff has been set.


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Zim cops in hospital stand-off with US envoy

Mail and Guardian

Mvurwi, Zimbabwe

13 May 2008 05:43

††††††Armed police tried to prevent the United States ambassador to
Zimbabwe and several other diplomats from leaving a hospital where victims
of post-election violence were being treated Tuesday, an Agence
France-Presse correspondent with the convoy said.

†††††† Ambassador James McGee and four colleagues tried unsuccessfully
to tour a hospital in Mvurwi, about 80km north of Harare, without prior
approval and then found their exit blocked by four armed police.

††††††A stand-off lasting around 10 minutes ensued before McGee strode
forward and opened the gates to leave the government hospital himself.

††††††"I can only speculate that it was just a message for us not to
go and expose this. Obviously they didn't want us to see the brutality ...
happening in the rural areas," US embassy spokesperson Paul Engelstad told
reporters.

††††††McGee, who travelled to the countryside with fellow diplomats
from Britain, The Netherlands, Japan and the European Union, called it "a
minor, very minor misunderstanding" with a security officer.

††††††Later as the convoy left for the capital, it was detained at a
roadblock for almost an hour where police asked for proof the diplomats had
followed procedures requiring them to notify the authorities of their travel
plans.

††††††"They wanted to check that we had put in a diplomatic note. They
asked for our diplomatic note which they were shown," said the US embassy
spokesperson.

††††††After being rebuffed at the first hospital, the convoy travelled
to visit another, where they were able to spend 30 minutes touring wards and
visiting victims of violence.

††††††"I think it is absolutely urgent that the entire world knows
what's happening in Zimbabwe," McGee said.

†††††† "The [Zimbabwe] government has said 'present us with proof of
what is happening' ... now we have concrete proof of what is happening," he
added.

††††††British ambassador to the country, Andrew Pockock, said the
violence was "pretty well organised, well calculated and very disturbing."

††††††"This is an effort to change the voting demography in Zimbabwe
either by beating people and intimidating them or displacing them ... so
they don't vote," he said.

††††††Leoni Cuelenaere, deputy head of mission at The Netherlands
embassy, said she was "shocked" by what she saw in the hospital.

††††††Of the political violence, EU ambassador Xavier Marcel said: "We
all wish that it [the violence] can be stopped as soon as possible." - AFP


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U.S. slams Zimbabwe for "harassment" of diplomats

Reuters

Tue 13 May 2008, 17:54 GMT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States condemned Zimbabwe's government
Tuesday for its "harassment" of the U.S. ambassador and other diplomats
questioned by police after visiting post-election violence victims at a
hospital.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said U.S. ambassador James McGee
and diplomats from Britain, the European Union, Japan, the Netherlands and
Tanzania, were questioned for about 45 minutes at a roadblock outside of the
capital Harare Tuesday.

"I guess it is harassment," said McCormack of the questioning of the
diplomats.

"If on two occasions you're held up for nearly two hours and questioned
about what you're doing, by security officials, then, yeah, that's
harassment. Sure," he added.

The diplomats were on their way back from visiting a rural hospital to see
victims of post-election violence. They were also held up at the hospital
and questioned by security officials over their reasons for being there,
said McCormack.

"It's indicative of the kind of atmosphere that exists in Zimbabwe right
now," said McCormack of the Zimbabwean government's tactics in dealing with
the diplomats.

"If you have foreign diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe who are facing this
kind of treatment, you can only imagine for Zimbabwean citizens what life is
like if they make an effort to speak up, to voice their opinions," he added.

While they were questioned, McCormack said none of the diplomats were
physically harmed and nothing had been confiscated by the security
officials.

British ambassador to Zimbabwe Andrew Pocock, when asked by Reuters about
reports that Western ambassadors had been detained during their tour of the
hospital, said: "We are having a little chat with the police. We have not
been detained."

The United States has had harsh words for Zimbabwe's government, accusing it
of harassing and attacking the opposition following the disputed March 29
poll which will likely result in a runoff between President Robert Mugabe
and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Washington has asked Zimbabwe's government to provide security guarantees
for Tsvangirai, who left Zimbabwe shortly after the March 29 poll and has
been visiting the region to garner support for his cause.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change accuses the ruling ZANU-PF of
using violence and intimidation against its supporters ahead of the runoff,
which could unseat Mugabe after nearly 30 years in power.

The United States has also accused the Zimbabwean government of a campaign
of "state-sponsored violence" against the opposition. The Zimbabwean
government rejects these allegations. (Reporting by Sue Pleming; Editing by
David Wiessler)


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'This was a message for us'

news24

13/05/2008 19:43† - (SA)

Mvurwi ? The US embassy said on Tuesday that it believes the attempt by
Zimbabwean police to prevent them from leaving a hospital in Mvurwi where
they visited victims of post-election violence "was a message to not
expose... the brutality".

"I can only speculate that it was just a message for us not to go and expose
this. Obviously they didn't want us to see the brutality ... happening in
the rural areas," US embassy spokesperson Paul Engelstad told reporters.

This was after Ambassador James McGee and four colleagues tried
unsuccessfully to tour a hospital in Mvurwi, around 80 kilometres north of
Harare, without prior approval and then found their exit blocked by four
armed police.

A stand-off lasting around 10 minutes ensued before McGee strode forward and
opened the gates to leave the government hospital himself.

McGee, who travelled to the countryside with fellow diplomats from Britain,
the Netherlands, Japan and the European Union, called it "a minor, very
minor misunderstanding" with a security officer.

Later as the convoy left for the capital, it was detained at a roadblock for
almost an hour where police asked for a diplomatic clearance note that
allows them to travel 35 kilometres outside the capital.

After being rebuffed at the first hospital, the convoy travelled to visit
another, where they were able to spend 30 minutes touring wards and visiting
victims of violence.

"I think it is absolutely urgent that the entire world knows what's
happening in Zimbabwe," McGee said.

"The (Zimbabwe) government has said 'present us with proof of what is
happening' ... now we have concrete proof of what is happening," he added.

British ambassador to the country, Andrew Pocock, said the violence was
"pretty well organised, well calculated and very disturbing".

"This an effort to change the voting demography in Zimbabwe either by
beating people and intimidating them or displacing them ... so they don't
vote," he said.


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RBZ denies US$700m payment to AfDB

New Zimbabwe

Last updated: 05/14/2008 02:10:43
------Statement by the RBZ-----

MATTER OF FACT: THE HERALD STORY OF 13 MAY, 2008 TITLED “ZIMBABWE DEFIES
ODDS, PAYS US$700 M TO AfDB DEBT” REFERS

1. As Monetary Authorities, our professional integrity and ethics have
impelled that we comment on the recent article of The Herald which suggested
that Zimbabwe paid US$700 million to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

2. Whilst the article made nostalgic good reading, as the country’s Central
Bank and custodian of Government’s foreign exchange receipts and payments,
we wish to categorically state that to our knowledge, there has not been any
such payment.

3. Indeed, back in 2004/2005 Zimbabwe made a surprise payment to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), which experience risks making the public
believe the recent unfounded newspaper article alleging Zimbabwe’s payments
to the AfDB this time around.

4. If the country had such resources (US$700 million), the Reserve Bank
would have prioritized the importation of grain (maize and wheat); the
importation of fuel, electricity, medical drugs, industrial chemicals,
fertilizers, seeds, water treatment chemicals, agricultural equipment, and
other infrastructural development essentials, and of course leaving some for
debt service.

5. Although as a Central Bank we are closely working with the Ministry of
Finance with several rods in the fire to raise foreign exchange resources to
support the economy, such efforts have not as yet resulted in multilateral
or bilateral creditors and/or donors disbursing funds or taking over our
debts.

6. To this end, therefore, we are making efforts to trace and verify the
source and authenticity of the Herald story, in the interest of setting the
record straight.

7. Until facts are established on where this article came from, we would
like to advise the Nation, and our cooperating regional and international
partners to treat this story with caution.

Thank you.

________________________
DR. G. GONO
GOVERNOR

13 MAY 2008


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But does the finance minister know?

News24

Zim won't say how it paid debt
13/05/2008 18:21† - (SA)

Harare - The Zimbabwean minister of finance refused to reveal from where his
country managed to raise the US $650 000 to repay part of its loan to the
African Development Bank (AfDB).

"All countries pay their debts. When everybody gets a loan they know how
they will repay it," said Samuel Mumbengegwi, Zimbabwe's minister of finance
in a brief interview in Maputo on Tuesday.

He refused to answer when asked if his country would be able to repay its
overdue debts to lending institutions.

Zimbabwe owes the AfDB US $250 million, according to the bank's president
Donald Kaberuka.

Kaberuka said his bank was not concerned about how Zimbabwe managed to raise
the US $650 000 to pay part of its overdue credit.

"They do not have to tell us how they raised the money because they are a
sovereign state," said Kaberuka in an interview on Tuesday.

The bank also said that country had made an undertaking that it would pay
the remaining debt in the stipulated six-month period.


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Police Ban MDC Rallies in Harare



SW Radio Africa (London)

13 May 2008
Posted to the web 13 May 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

Police in Harare have barred the MDC from holding public rallies in the
capital, ahead of the presidential run-off whose date has not yet been
announced.

The party's regional officer based in South Africa Nqobizitha Mlilo said
Zanu PF, which is now the official opposition party in parliament, is
holding rallies.

'This is an indication of a regime that has realised they have lost the
elections, a party that is incapable of winning any elections. So the only
way they believe they can do something is to frustrate our supporters and
close every little bit of political space in the country,' Mlilo said.

The MDC said they had planned to hold three separate rallies in Mufakose and
Budiriro on Saturday and Sunday and at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield on
Saturday, 18th May.

'Following the provisions of the Public Order and Security Act the MDC had
tried to notify the police of it's plan to hold the three rallies in Harare.
However, police authorities at Southerton Police Station refused to even
accept the letters from the MDC officials,' a statement from the party said.

After the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced that people should prepare
for a presidential run-off, Zanu PF has been holding rallies across the
country. Grace Mugabe, Elliot Manyika and other Zanu PF officials have all
addressed rallies recently.

'But the same opportunity is being denied to the party and our leader who
won the historic election on 29 March 2008. The political atmosphere is
biased towards the outgoing regime. Zimbabweans cannot freely express
themselves in the so-called run-off when they are being battered every day
and when they are being denied their basic rights and freedoms of
association and assembly,' the statement added.

This is one of the reasons why party leader Morgan Tsvangirai has delayed
his return to the country. Initially, he had announced he was to go back on
Monday but because of security and other concerns his return trip has been
shelved for the moment. It's believed Tsvangirai was supposed to have
addressed these rallies. The MDC leader won the first round of the poll and
analyst believe the veteran former trade unionist will defeat Mugabe by an
even wider margin in the run-off.

The MDC have asked that SADC, the African Union and the United Nations
continue to keep the events in the country under the microscope. They said
if observers and monitors were not quickly deployed, the humanitarian crisis
would continue to escalate.


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Another MDC MP Arrested, Villagers Evicted, More Violence



SW Radio Africa (London)

13 May 2008
Posted to the web 13 May 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

Just 2 days after the MDC MP for Mutasa Central in Manicaland was arrested
while reporting the abduction of a youth member, another elected opposition
official has been taken into police custody.

Reports say that Heya Shoko, the newly elected MDC MP for Bikita West, was
arrested in Masvingo on Tuesday. It is still not clear why the police have
detained him.

The crackdown continues to target traditional leaders and villagers in
remote areas. Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme reported that Colonel Den
Masomere of the Zimbabwe National Army is alleged to have forced out village
headman, Sabhuku Esau Chikanda, and replaced him with Jefias Jinyika. This
happened in the Ngundu area of Chivi South constituency. Saungweme described
Jinyika as an outspoken ZANU-PF supporter who has no sympathy for the MDC.

Our correspondent ran into MDC supporters in Bulawayo who said they had been
evicted from Ngundu. The villagers told him that many MDC members have been
banned from staying in the area. A stream of MDC supporters are now refugees
in Masvingo and Bulawayo. The displaced villagers have also reported that
Masomere has a group of ZANU-PF youth militia and so-called "war vets" at
his command. The Colonel also confiscated bags of maize that the villagers
had purchased from the Grain Marketing Board.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) reported Tuesday that one of
their vehicles, a Toyota land cruiser, has been confiscated by ZANU-PF
supporters at Kotwa Centre, in Mudzi. The ZESN driver and officer reported
that they were stopped by ZANU PF supporters who wanted to know the purpose
of their visit in the area. They were interrogated for 6 hours and had their
vehicle searched. All that was found was the driver's log book which showed
deliveries that had been made to various ZESN partners and members. The two
were then detained at the ZANU PF offices in Kotwa until 2:30 A.M. when they
managed to escape.

We reported on Monday that ZANU-PF youth militia murdered Sabhuku Elias
Madzivanzira in Ward 8 Shamva. His wife was suffered severe injuries from
the attack with axes that took place on Saturday, and she was being blocked
from getting medical treatment. We were not able to find out whether she has
been treated yet.

Our sources say state run hospitals have been ordered not to treat victims
of political violence. The victims are now being forced to seek treatment at
private clinics and most cannot afford the fees. It is known that many
deaths and serious injuries are going unreported in the remote areas.

Luke Tamborinyoka, Director of Information for the Tsvangirai MDC, said the
main areas being targeted are Uzumba, Guruve, Shamva, Gokwe, Mvurwi and
Masvingo. He described their provincial offices around the country as
"refugee centres" filled with victims of state-sponsored violence.
Tamborinyoka added: Our people are living in the mountains and are phoning
the party to report that they have been attacked."

Tamborinyoka said that ZANU-PF is planning to win a presidential runoff by
displacing opposition supporters so that they cannot vote if they are not in
their wards. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission recently announced that
voters will only be able to cast their ballots in their own specific wards.
Tamborinyoka described this as a ploy and a rigging mechanism. He said the
entire country should be considered one ward so people can go anywhere to
vote.

In a statement on the violence the MDC said: "The arrest of Hon. Shoko is
another attempt by the ZANU-PF regime to frustrate the operations of the MDC
ahead of the presidential run-off. Ever since President Morgan Tsvangirai
won convincingly against Robert Mugabe, the nation has not known peace. The
MDC is aware that the regime is engaged in a desperate attempt to cow the
nation ahead of the so-called run-off."

There is consensus that the violence will not boost the ruling party's
chances of winning runoff presidential election. Many of the victims say
that they are now even more supportive of the opposition.


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Zimbabwean hospital testifies to post-election violence

africasia

GLENDALE, Zimbabwe, May 13 (AFP)

Nursing deep cuts to his buttocks that prevent him from lying on his back,
62-year-old James Chiripanyanga told a group of diplomats visiting him in
hospital Tuesday how he was targeted as a suspected supporter of the
Zimbabwean opposition.

The retired machinist said his name was called out at a meeting convened by
suspected ruling ZANU-PF youths a week ago. He was led to a nearby tree and
the last he remembers of his ordeal was when he was handcuffed and kicked in
the head.

"I remember regaining consciousness at my house where I had been carried in
a wheelbarrow and the next thing I was brought here," he said, speaking from
his hospital bed in this farming town, 60 kilometres, north of the capital.

His 32-year-old wife, Sylvia, lying down in female ward in the same
hospital, recalls how she was also pulled from a crowd of villagers called
for a meeting.

"I was taken by six men. They made me lie down on my stomach while two of
them held my hands down. I was hit on the buttocks after which I was ordered
to lift up my feet and was hit on the soles," she said.

"If police had not come to rescue us, I would have been dead," she said.

Their stories tally with claims by trade unions, doctors and teachers'
associations that pro-government militias have been terrorising suspected
supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in rural areas.

The MDC says 32 of its supporters have been killed in post-election violence
which followed disputed March 29 elections in which the ruling party and
President Robert Mugabe were defeated.

Hitler Muguze, 41, a bricklayer and his wife Anatoria, were also attacked.
He said they were never told why they were being beaten.

"I don't belong to any political party, but they beat me up," he said.

Keen to see evidence of attacks with their own eyes, a group of Western
ambassadors including the US representative visited the Howard Hospital, run
by a Salvation Army mission, on Tuesday, where they chatted with victims.

Authorities at the hospital said 22 people were brought in a week ago and
one has since died. The most common and serious wounds are deep cuts on the
buttocks inflicted by sticks.

A 37-year-old teacher, walking with the aid of frames, said a group of 300
youths came from a nearby town of Mount Darwin to assault anyone suspected
of helping the opposition.

"They accused nurses, teachers and other government workers of campaigning
for the opposition. I don't want to teach in a government school anymore and
from here I am going to Harare," he said.

Teachers have been particularly targeted in the violence because of their
links to the MDC and their part in voter education programmes.

Samuel Grease, a farmworker carrying a bunch of spinach leaves, was attacked
for allegedly selling avocado pears on polling day to supporters of Simba
Makoni, who came third in the presidential elections.

"I am scared. I will probably be asked after this what I was talking to you
about," he said.

Some ZANU-PF members were also caught up in the violence, including a former
local government councillor Kapenda Mwanza who had his buttocks butchered.

"Initially I nursed the idea that if I get well I will go to Mozambique...
to get weapons and hunt them (his assailants) down one by one, but my church
members have advised me that God will deal with them," he said groaning from
pain in his hospital bed.


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UN Warns of Rising Tensions in Zimbabwe

VOA

By Peta Thornycroft
Johannesburg
13 May 2008

A U.N. official in Zimbabwe says post-election violence is increasing, and
he largely blames President Robert Mugabe's supporters for the attacks. Peta
Thornycroft reports that political tensions are rising as opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai prepares to return to Zimbabwe for a runoff election
campaign.

The United Nations is warning that post-election violence is reaching crisis
levels in Zimbabwe.

In a rare public statement, U.N. resident representative Agustino Zacarias
says the violence is largely inflicted on rural supporters of the Movement
for Democratic Change, which beat the ruling ZANU-PF in the March
parliamentary election. He said non-governmental organizations and civil
rights defenders were also being targeted

Zacarias blames most of the violence on groups loyal to ZANU-PF. But he said
there were some incidents in which MDC people had perpetrated acts of
violence.

He said this unrest is preventing U.N. humanitarian agencies from reaching
people in need and had forced it to reduce operations.

Shortly after the U.N. official made his statement, police stopped a convoy
of ambassadors on a tour to a hospital in Mvurwi about 80 kilometers north
of Harare.

According to journalists traveling with the diplomats that included U.S.
Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee, the police demanded that the group
provide proof they had permission to visit the hospital. The group was
visiting victims of political violence who were being treated at a hospital
in Mvurwi, and insisted they be let through.

In an open letter published Monday in the state-controlled daily Herald
newspaper, McGee accused President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF of orchestrating
violence to intimidate MDC supporters before a runoff presidential election.
McGee said the U.S. government has confirmed at least 20 deaths and more
than 700 incidents of violence resulting in more than 200 people
hospitalized since the first round of voting March 29.

The Herald accused the U.S. ambassador of "very scandalous acts" and of
breaching diplomatic protocol by speaking out on the violence.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the most votes in the first round,
but not the simple majority needed to avoid a runoff, according to official
results.

Hundreds of MDC supporters, activists and party workers as well as human
rights lawyers, journalists, students, trade unionists and non-governmental
organization workers have been arrested since the elections.

The Southern African Development Community's Zimbabwe mediator, South Africa
President Thabo Mbeki, has said nothing about the violence since he had
lengthy meetings with President Mugabe last Friday.

Morgan Tsvangirai said Saturday he would be returning to Zimbabwe this week
for a victory tour and to campaign for the presidential runoff, which was
supposed to take place by May 24 but has been postponed to an unknown date.


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Zimbabwe Opposition Chief Home By Weekend - Spokesman

nasdaq

JOHANNESBURG (AFP)--Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has
been out of the country for more than a month, will return home by the
weekend to prepare for a run-off election, his aide said Tuesday.

Tsvangirai is scheduled to address a major rally in Harare on Sunday where
he will kick-start his campaign for the run-off against President Robert
Mugabe, the date of which hasn't been announced, said George Sibotshiwe.

"We are certainly going back this weekend. We may even be back before then,"
Sibotshiwe told AFP.

The Movement for Democratic Change leader beat longtime incumbent Mugabe in
the first round of voting March 29 but fell just short of an overall
majority needed to avoid a run-off.

Announcing his intention Saturday to contest the run-off, Tsvangirai said he
planned to be back home within a few days.

† (END) Dow Jones Newswires
† 05-13-080922ET


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Mugabe refuses to guarantee Morgan's safety

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 13 May 2008 11:49
HARARE - Zimbabwe's president-in-waiting, Morgan Tsvangirai, 56,
cancelled his return to Zimbabwe Monday to kick off his run off campaign,
but was still expected in the country before the close of this week, senior
MDC officials have confirmed.
The Zimbabwean heard that Tsvangirai, who was expected in Zimbabwe
Monday, has stayed his return because Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos,
a close ally of Mugabe who also heads the SADC troika on Politics, Defence
and Security; had still not obtained a security guarantee for Tsvangirai by
Monday. The MDC leader met Dos Santos in Luanda on Saturday to discuss
modalities of returning to Zimbabwe.

It is feared Tsvangirai could be jailed upon return on treason charges
or physically harmed. Police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri has
already stated that police were "keen" to interview Biti about his
pre-emptive announcement of election results, which Chihuri asserts was
illegal. Biti however said he merely restated election results that were
already in the public domain since they were posted outside polling
stations.

Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe confirmed that the MDC leader
would be in Zimbabwe before the close of this week. But senior MDC officials
said privately Tsvangirai was expected in Harare tomorrow Friday.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said his party expected the police force
to act professionally and allow Tsvangirai to return unhindered and complete
the process of change.

"Of course we are extremely worried about the security not only of the
president, but of all those in the democratic movement or those with
alternative view point to that of Zanu (PF)," Chamisa said. "That is why we
continue to appeal to the police to execute their duties professionally."

Tsvangirai had earlier stated on Saturday that he would return to
Zimbabwe in two days, meaning Monday, to begin campaigning for a second
round of voting.

He has been in exile since April 10, launching an intense diplomatic
offensive aimed at pressuring Mugabe to relinquish power. Tsvangirai has
been based in South Africa and Botswana for the past month, amid concerns
for his safety in Zimbabwe, where the MDC says 31 of its members have been
killed and hundreds of supporters injured by pro-Mugabe militia and soldiers
since the elections.

He has tabled a set of conditions before participating in the poll,
including reconstitution of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commision (ZEC), that the
run off be held by May 23 and international supervision for the run off.
Zanu (PF) spokesman and interim Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa has
rejected these demands.

Chamisa retorted: "There is no reason why men and women of good
standing, men of good and reputable moral, political and electoral practices
would hide away from international observers. Zanu (PF) are not interested
in having international observers because they know that they are thieves."

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commision has also ruled out the possibility of
the run off being held by May 23. Mugabe, 84, who has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence in 1980, is seeking a sixth term in power, despite vandalizing
Zimbabwe's economy.


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Zimbabwe MDC says regional obervers enough for run-off

Reuters

Tue 13 May 2008, 8:15 GMT

JOHANNESBURG, May 13 (Reuters) - The leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition
group said on Tuesday he would contest a presidential run-off against
veteran President Robert Mugabe even if only regional observers could be
present.

Morgan Tsvangirai had previously called for unfettered access for
international observers, which the government rejected.

"At the moment the obligation is on (regional group) SADC. I am sure that
they will fulfil their obligations, especially to send SADC peacekeepers and
observers," Movement for Democratic Change leader Tsvangirai told Reuters in
a telephone interview. "For us that is sufficient."

Asked how long he was willing to wait for a run-off, after electoral
authorities said there would likely be a delay, he said:

"The thing is that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, if it has to extend
the time of a run-off, it has to do so within a reasonable period. I'm sure
that SADC will also be pressurising them to set a date." (Reporting by
Caroline Drees; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)


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ZANU PF supporters in Kotwa confiscated ZESN vehicle

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 13 May 2008 08:18
Zimbabwe Election Support Network

Harare 13 May 2008 – A vehicle, a Toyota land cruiser belonging to the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has been confiscated by Robert
Mugabe's ZANU PF supporters at Kotwa Centre, Mudzi, about 130kms north-east
of Harare.

The ZESN driver and officer who had the vehicle reported that they
were stopped by the ZANU PF supporters who were in an unregistered red
Mitsubishi open truck in Mudzi and were asked to explain the purpose of
their visit in the area. After 6 hours of questioning, the ZANU PF
supporters searched the vehicle and found the driver’s delivery book which
showed deliveries that had been done to various partners and members. The
two ZESN staff members were then subsequently detained at around 1000hrs at
the ZANU PF offices in Kotwa under the guard of three ZANU PF youths. Around
0230hrs the next morning , the two managed to escape fearing for their
lives.

ZESN says in a statement released today that it is distressed by the
continued reports of observers being victimised and assaulted in the
aftermath of the 29 March 2008 harmonised elections.

" ZESN would like to remind all political parties in Zimbabwe, in
particular ZANU PF, the police, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the
general public that in observing this and previous elections, ZESN has
broken no Zimbabwean law and has conducted its electoral observation efforts
in accordance with the laws of the country including recognised regional and
international standards.

" As such, the organization calls the responsible authorities to
ensure the apprehension of perpetrators of violence. ZESN urges the police
to launch a massive campaign that protects observers, party agents and
supporters of any political party. Political leaders should continue making
public pronouncements against any forms of violence regardless of the
perpetrator’s affiliation," says the statement .


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MDC victims of political violence

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 13 May 2008 11:51
by Nelson Chamisa.

The death toll of MDC victims of political violence has reached 32
after eight deaths were recorded in the last 72 hours.

Political violence perpetrated by Zanu PF supporters has reached
alarming and shocking levels with the MDC today recording the deaths of 32
of its members since announcement of the presidential poll results, which
showed that President Morgan Tsvangirai had trounced Robert Mugabe in the
historic poll.Today, the MDC received two reports of deaths in Gokwe
Nembudziya following a week of unprecedented violence in the area. The Zanu
PF militia led by one Major Moyo from the Zimbabwe National Army is
perpetrating the violence.
Zanu PF supporters on Sunday night murdered two MDC activists, Isaac
Danda and another man the MDC has managed to identify only as Gomwe, 84. The
two were murdered in the Tsungai area where Zanu PF thugs looted and burnt
down a shop belonging to MDC senatorial candidate, Liah Nyathi.
According to witnesses Danda was stabbed with a knife and died on the
spot while Gomwe was axed on the head and died on his way to Gokwe Hospital.
The MDC House of Assembly candidate, Kizito Mbiriza attempted to make
a report at Nembudziya Police Station but was instead arrested by the police
and is still in police custody.
A number of MDC activists who own businesses in the area had their
shops destroyed by the Zanu PF activists.
The MDC candidate for Muzvezve constituency, Midlands, Ketayi Makosa
was detained on Saturday for three days at Eiffel Flats police station on
trumped up charges on threatening Zanu PF supporters.
In Harare, Nelson Emmanuel, 29, of Harare South was buried on Sunday
after Zanu PF supporters beat him to death at his home in Hopley Farm.
Emmanuel leaves behind a wife and a three year-old daughter.
Other deaths that the MDC has managed to record are of three MDC
supporters who were murdered in Uzumba, in Mashonaland East on Saturday 10
May. They are, of Musafare Mudimu, Karombe Benson Chipingu both of Manyika
village and Ruth Mushayahembe of Chimbwanda village.
In Shamva North, Mashonaland Central, Elias Madzivanzira, a headman in
ward 8 and his wife were axed to death by Zanu PF youths including purported
war veterans known as Muroyiwa and Joshua who are based at Bata Farm in the
area.
The death toll of Zanu PF's political violence at Manyika village has
risen to three following the earlier death of Brighton Mabwera, aged five
years. The child was burnt to ashes on 17 April after Zanu PF supporters
torched the house of his parents.
According to MDC supporters in the area, Gokwe now resembles a war
zone as the situation was tense and MDC supporters have been forced to flee
to the mountains as their houses have been razed to the ground. Zanu PF
supporters have also set up torture bases in the area.
This situation is contrary to claims by the police today that they had
managed to dismantle torture bases and had intensified their operations.
Zanu PF is at the centre of the violence-taking place nationwide.
Whatever it takes, the people of Zimbabwe are geared for change. They want
their dignity back. They want to finish off this regime at the next
available opportunity.


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UN says violence affecting aid, wants to assess


HARARE, 13 May 2008 (IRIN) - The United Nations has asked the government to
help it conduct an assessment to evaluate the extent of politically
motivated violence, which "could reach crisis levels", warned Agostinho
Zacarias, the UN Resident Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator in
Zimbabwe.

"We are in touch with the government through the ministry of foreign affairs
and they have requested evidence of political violence to justify the joint
assessment, and we have done that," Zacarias told IRIN.

"They said they are still considering our request and we hope they will come
back to us with a positive answer. We have visited hospitals and spoken to
victims of political violence. Our worry is about those who may have failed
to make it to the hospitals and are still out there in the countryside."

Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe's information minister said the UN's request to
conduct an assessment was "being processed".

Zacarias said the UN Country Team (UNCT) had received requests for
humanitarian assistance from victims of violence, allegedly perpetrated by
security forces, war veterans, youth militia and supporters of the ruling
ZANU-PF party. The victims claim the violence is the result of a
post-election crackdown and is politically motivated.

President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government lost its parliamentary majority
for the first time since independence in 1980 in elections held in March.

"These reports indicate that some people have died, several hundred others
have been hospitalised, while many more have been displaced from their homes
and some have lost property that includes livestock, their homes and
belongings," said Zacarias.

According to the UN official, there were also reports that opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters were resorting to violence
and intimidation.

Violence affecting aid work

The UNCT had evidence of reported cases of violence and intimidation, which
had also affected humanitarian work. "The UN humanitarian agencies and their
partners in the NGO [non-governmental organisation] community have been
experiencing limited access to the affected people due to this heightened
tension and localised outbreaks of violence, resulting in the scaling-down
of humanitarian programmes, thereby exacerbating the humanitarian
situation."

Zacarias said more than half of their NGO partners in the humanitarian field
had been unable to visit remote areas in the countryside because government
officials had denied them access, or because the employees were worried
about their personal safety. The number of internally displaced people had
become an issue of concern.

"We also urge the government to set up a clearing house, which will be a
safe and secure environment where victims can report cases of politically
motivated violence without fear of retribution," he said.

The official daily newspaper, The Herald, reported on 12 May that police had
begun dismantling "bases", set up mainly in rural areas and manned primarily
by militia and war veterans. These camps have allegedly been used as centres
from which surrounding villages have been intimidated, or worse.

Diplomats detained

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe faced a diplomatic crisis after several ambassadors and
journalists on a fact-finding mission on the political violence in the
volatile Mashonaland Central Province were detained for more than two hours.

The diplomats included James McGee, the US representative in Zimbabwe,
Andrew Pocock of Britain, and representatives from Tanzania, Holland and the
European Union. Apparently the diplomats had been mistaken for journalists.

A reporter who spoke to IRIN said: "I strongly suspect that the police and
soldiers who detained us were youth militia in uniform. They were drunk and
naÔve. Ambassador McGee convinced them that we were all his employees at the
embassy back in Harare [the capital]. There was a light moment when he
alleged the other diplomats were his employees."

During the weekend McGee and other Western diplomats toured hospitals and
spoke to victims of politically motivated violence. They all claimed they
had been tortured by war veterans, ZANU-PF militia, soldiers and police.

[ENDS]
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe caves in to black market pressure

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 13 May 2008 09:31

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was conducting inspections to
ensure enforcement of the new directive that allowed holders of free funds
to offload them through normal banking channels instead of the ubiquitous
black market.

The directive has pushed the exchange rate sharply as the Zimdollar
weakened dramatically following the central bank-sanctioned liberalisation
of the foreign
currency market by Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono.
The key changes were made through the first quarter monetary policy
statement presented last week which floated the Zimdollar on the market and
allowed market forces to determine rates on a willing buyer-willing-seller
basis.
The move is aimed at crashing the parallel market in the pricing of
cash, by removing distortions between the official and black market rate.
Officials in the central bank's public affairs and information
department said any violations of the regulations would be dealt with in
terms of penalties provided in the legislation.
He said there had been a massive inflow of foreign currency into the
official banking system over the past week.
The new law had adversely affected black market dealers that had been
flogging forex using the parallel market rates.
The enactment of the exchange control order was prompted by the need
to curb foreign exchange activities in the parallel market.
Violations of this order would constitute contravention of the
Exchange Control Act and regulations made under it.
"Culprits will be dealt with in accordance with the law in terms of
the Exchange Control Act," said a spokesman.
The new statutory requirement was met with relief by holders of free
funds.
"This is safe," said Merjury. "I lost a lot of money on black market
after being given counterfeit notes."
But black market dealers, while remaining defiant, admitted that
business had sunk to rock bottom levels.
Economists warned that while there was now no justification for anyone
to go and do shady deals on the black market, stabilisation of rates would
not be achieved any time soon because of the unsustainable
increases in money supply.
"The big question is how long it will continue before government stops
it," said respected economist Tony Hawkins. "With the rate that money is
being printed, the rate can only go up and so will inflation. It is a
vicious cycle."
On Tuesday, the greenback was trading at ZD250 million.


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What happened in the Presidential Election?

www.kubatana.net



States in Transition Observatory, Idasa
May 12, 2008

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When the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission finally announced the results of the Presidential election, quite apart from the relief that they were finally announced, there were two predominant reactions. The first was a total lack of surprise that Morgan Tsvangirai had beaten Robert Mugabe: all the indications from every source, as well as the evident disbelief of Zanu PF and the subsequent shenanigans of ZEC, were that this would be the case. The second reaction was the lack of surprise that ZEC had not announced Morgan Tsvangirai as the outright winner with an absolute majority.

It was clear to all concerned that the results were known in detail by Monday, 31 March, and there have been a number of "leaks" to this effect, all suggesting that Tsvangirai won outright. If the Electoral Act had been followed to the letter, then Morgan Tsvangirai would have been sworn in as President of Zimbabwe, and Robert Mugabe would have had no further recourse except by election petition. So, it was clear to all that a run off result had to be engineered, and thence followed the farce of the recount, a wholly unlawful recount according to the Electoral Act.

It was also clear to all that there had to be a delay in order for a very shocked Zanu PF to re-organise and decide what to do. Zanu PF had to prepare for a run off as well as provide the grounds for a run off. After a short hiatus, the strategy emerged, and a well-worn strategy it was, quite apart from the delay in announcing results. (We will return to the results later).

The first move was to re-invent the "land" gambit, and, after announcing that white farmers were rushing back to claim their farms, the "people" began to invade the remaining 400 farms. By all accounts, these invasions have been more violent and intimidatory than those between 2000 and 2005, even worse than 2000 or 2002. This was the public strategy, but it was accompanied by an even more sinister strategy, one that had also worked in 2000 and 2002, and this was the unleashing of the militia, under military supervision - but more blatant military supervision than has been the case previously. As in 2002, the violence had the purpose of retribution for voting against Zanu PF, for, as in 2002, it was evident, but more so in 2008, that rural people had voted against Zanu PF. But in 2008, it also has the purpose of driving out any vestige of the MDC form the rural areas, and obviously handicapping the MDC in any preparations for a run off.

Whilst all this was going on, there was still the problem of engineering a re-run, and this was much more problematic for the results published by ZEC for the Senate, and the House of Assembly seemed valid and reliable according to a number of independent estimates, including the MDC. ZEC did not and has not announced the Local Government results, but Justice Chiweshe has claimed that there is no need to as they were already published at the Ward command centres. As an aside, this is highly contradictory given that ZEC felt the need to publish all other results, and to "scrupulously" ensure that the results of the Senate, the House of Assembly, and the Presidency were correct.

Thus, a high old farce ensued. The House of Assembly results were announced over days and days, and eventually it emerged that MDC Tsvangirai had a majority, and that the opposition had an absolute, but not a constitution changing, majority. However, it was majority enough to suggest that the former opposition would now become the government, or there would be severe problems for Robert Mugabe, if he won the presidential poll outright, and Zanu PF in governing as a minority government. They would be unable to pass a Bill or even obtain the finance necessary to govern without the total cooperation of the "opposition." The farce then continued with the tedious announcement of the Senate results, and it emerged that the two groups, Zanu PF and the MDC's, were even.


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Harare suspends duties on cooking oil, flour

Reuters

Tue 13 May 2008, 17:53 GMT

HARARE, May 13 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe on Tuesday suspended import duty on some
basic commodities, including cooking oil and flour, in response to a sharp
spike in prices following the flotation of the local currency by the central
bank last month.

"The high level of (import) duty, incidental to the current inter-bank rate
used in the valuation for duty purposes depresses imported volumes of basic
commodities," information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told reporters.

"In view of the above, government is therefore suspending duty on basic
commodities for a period of 90 days, with effect from 12 May."

The rate of import duty levied varied with the products but stood at between
60 to 100 percent.

Some of the goods include cooking oil, rice, flour and soap, whose prices
have shot up by as much as four times since the country's disputed March 29
election.

Zimbabweans had hoped the elections could help end their country's economic
meltdown, which has triggered inflation of 165,000 percent, 80 percent
unemployment, severe food and fuel shortages, and a flood of refugees to
neighbouring states.

Instead, prices have skyrocketed in the stalemate since the poll and reports
of politically motivated attacks are spreading.

Official results showed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mugabe for
the presidency in the first round, but not by enough votes to avoid a
run-off. (Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Stephen Weeks)


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A reporter's notebook: doing the Zim story

IOL

††††May 13 2008 at 12:28PM

By Peta Thornycroft

It feels as if this story will never end. That we will never sleep
again, that the tension will never ease, that the cruelty will know no
bounds. That evil will prevail.

The communication problems are so bad that it feels as if we will
never get the story out and never get it right either.

In communal areas telecommunications are the same as they were during
Southern Rhodesia. And that is where most of the violence is happening.

So how do we get information? With the utmost difficulty. Are we
exaggerating? No we are not. That is those of us who are accountable and
write for mainstream media. Do we get information wrong? Yes, sometimes.

The police won't speak to us, except, occasionally if they answer the
landlines at Police General Headquarters in Harare. Then they deny
everything, or say they don't have any information, but mostly they are
unavailable.

Their mobile phones? Occasionally we might get through if we hit
redial 25 times and the call stays live for longer than 10 seconds. Police
won't or can't confirm or deny anything on their mobile or landlines.

Hospital phones go unanswered too, or staff won't say anything, or
there is no one available, or if there is, they certainly don't want to
speak to journalists.

The informal network of information between the rural areas and towns
is largely broken as there are so few buses travelling and because it is too
expensive for people to go "kumusha" (home).

Rather like the Stasi in the old GDR (German Democratic Republic),
there is an enormous network of informers. Many are not evil, just doing
something to earn a little.

So we have to be careful when we look for the evidence we need, and we
ask questions carefully, nonchalantly, as if we are not really interested.
We will stop at a roadside shop, looking for a cool drink. Stupid really,
since there is nothing in any of these shops. Nothing to sell. Nothing to
buy.

Mostly the road blocks are just that, a time-wasting stop, where the
police couldn't care less who we are or what we are doing and wave us
through. But just in case, we have to be ready with a bunch of half truths.

Just in case.

It is always "just in case".

We get caught because we are at the wrong place at the wrong time, not
because the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) are smart.

If they wanted to, they could catch all of us all the time.

Somebody at the top decides it is time to catch the journalists, so
there is a spurt.

Like Monday a week ago, when they went around from lodge to lodge
looking for journalists. They had two names. Derek Watts (Carte Blanche) and
Kate Adie, (BBC retired). Both had been in Harare about 2002 or 2003 as we
recall.

Sometimes journalists get caught because they relax, lulled into
forgetting that Zimbabwe is, more or less a police state.

At first glance it looks okay - nice, even. Orderly. Not as dirty as
Johannesburg. Polite people, not starving. Police quite smart. Army too,
although a lot are hitch-hiking these days. No guns going off, no bombs, no
military parades, no military aircraft and the only choppers are those
flying President Mugabe or the smaller one carrying super rich Billy
Rautenbach. So no frightening overhead noise.

In Harare's northern suburbs the rich still go out to dinner, but the
menus have shrunk, restaurants are pretty empty and thin young men selling
flowers in pot-holed parking lots haven't got flowers any more so they are
guarding cars.

No one is having fun. Not even the people in the restaurants. Not even
children at birthday parties. There is an agonising limbo, an all-pervading
anxiety.

And we reporters are struggling like hell to tell this story when the
action happens so far from town. We also depend on unnamed heroes and
heroines who do far more than we to ensure the story gets out.

Every night we know that people are being assaulted, or tortured or
beaten. We don't really expect many fatalities, because Zanu-PF has learned
that body counts are bad for business.

We more or less know who is doing the violence as the victims we visit
can usually name their assailants.

We know the weapons, logs, poles, metal from dismantled windmills,
planks, rope, bicycle chains, nails, everyday objects.

Huts are burned down. I interviewed someone who was in his house and
35 of his neighbours' houses were also burned. That was a staggering number
of people who were made homeless during a couple of hours, before midnight
ten days ago in one village about an hours drive north-east of Harare.

On Tuesday, I got an sms about what sounded like a massacre. Eleven
dead. At first I sighed. Oh God. What to do? Who to call? They won't all be
lying in some field waiting for me to inspect their bodies and pick over
their wounds to discover how they died.

They will be scattered. Maybe picked up by cops. Maybe picked up by
relatives. Maybe under a tree, a small heap hidden by tall grass.

So far I can only name six and that is thanks to contacts and heroic
sources and some hearsay which on examination I now know was true all the
time.

There won't be political funerals. Most will be buried quickly and
quietly among the huts in the bush because people are poor and fearful.

I now know that what the MDC's enormously strained welfare department
has been telling us for nearly a week about the 11 dead is almost certainly
true.

They have the same problems we have. Difficult communications and they
are also working underground and fearful of being arrested. Their
information personnel were locked up for three weeks, their computers have
been taken, their offices wrecked.

Some of this is being reported, much more will be written in future
days and extraordinary everyday heroes will tell generations to come about
how they survived the 2008 elections.

They won't be talking about regime change, or the West, or puppets,
they will be talking about teachers at schools, drugs in clinics, buses to
"kamusha", relatives overseas and remembering when they couldn't buy sugar
for a cup of tea.

Even those who voted for Mugabe in the presidential election or who
are dependent on their Zanu-PF MP to assist them get grain, are living
miserably.

So what should I say about the 11 dead? Say six dead, but reports
exist of five more?

There is great relief when sober accounts emerge from concerned
doctors who have treated victims and have a broad picture not only of
numbers of injured, but through anecdotes, faithfully recorded, of the scale
of the violence.

The tension will get worse, so will shopping, finding stuff to keep
one going, fuel, the internet, electricity and water cuts and enough
batteries to keep everything else going.

Colleagues come in from London, Los Angeles, Brussels, Toronto and
Melbourne. Some have been coming in and out for years without fuss and
without accreditation. They get the story going again as they report on
Zimbabwe with fresh eyes.

Where are the SABC journalists? Where are the South African
journalists? What happened since the end of apartheid? Did all the heroes
become managing directors? (Thanks e.tv for trying.) Thanks to the few who
did come.

Is this generation of South African journalists flaky or leaderless?
Or worried about legality when it never bothered them during the apartheid
era? Never worried them when foreign journalists sneaked in to South Africa
to make documentaries about Steve Biko.

Actually, folks, you don't need accreditation any longer, as of
January 11, its not a crime to be a journalist, even if you are foreign.

So why don't you come up north and tell the story? Please.

This article was originally published on page 13 of Cape Argus on May
13, 2008


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Zimbabwe's turbulent priests

BBC
15:07 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 16:07 UK

Harare's Anglican Cathedral

By Peter Tinona
Harare

The imposing Anglican Cathedral of St Mary and All Saints in central Harare was almost deserted on Sunday following months of violent clashes and legal wrangles between rival factions.

Zimbabwe's deep political divide has spilled over into the religious arena.

The pews which would normally play host to 1,000 worshippers held just 42 people on Pentecost Sunday, giving a melancholy feel to the huge building.

Zimbabwe's Anglican women normally look resplendent in their white and blue uniforms, singing joyous praise to the Lord.

But none of Sunday's worshippers were wearing any uniforms.

Even the singing, which was accompanied by traditional drums was dull and could have been mistaken for funeral dirges.


The house of God has been turned into a boxing-ring by politicians

Locadia Mutandiro

Outside the church, three armed policemen sat on a park bench directly opposite the entrance to the cathedral.

They have become a permanent feature at Sunday services since Zimbabwe's Anglican Communion split last year, resulting in violent clashes between worshippers loyal to Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and his rival Bishop Sebastian Bakare.

Bishop Kunonga is a staunch supporter of President Robert Mugabe and once described Zimbabwe's leader as a "prophet of God".

He was dismissed by the church's regional leaders last year and says he is being persecuted by the global church leadership for his opposition to the ordination of gay priests.

But Zimbabwe's opposition says the government installed him to stop the church criticising human rights abuses.

'Victimised'

Church regular Locadia Mutandiro says she is extremely disappointed by what is happening at the cathedral.

"The house of God has been turned into a boxing-ring by politicians," she said.

Police arresting opposition worshippers
The police have been accused of arresting and beating worshippers

"The last time I attended service in March, we were only a few church-goers, as many prefer to go elsewhere to avoid being victimised by state security for supporting the Bishop Bakare group."

The Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) sacked Bishop Kunonga last November after he resisted pressure from the Anglican leadership to criticise Zimbabwe's government.

But he refused to step down and has been accused of using young thugs allied to Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party to attack the rival faction.

The police have been accused of taking sides in the dispute, by beating up worshippers, including women taking the Holy Communion.

'Borrowed time'

Last month, the Anglican church leadership strongly criticised the situation in Zimbabwe following the disputed March elections and how the local church had been affected.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu said President Robert Mugabe was "living on borrowed time".


The happy and peaceful mood has disappeared

Musafare Chiraga

He famously cut up his dog collar live on television and vowed not to wear it until Mr Mugabe left office.

Such statements will not have gone down well with Bishop Kunonga.

He says he is being persecuted by the global church leadership for his "principled stance on homosexuality in the church".

President Mugabe is also virulently opposed to gay rights.

Bishop Kunonga says western groups in favour of ordaining gay priests are funding his rivals to gain support for their position in Africa, where many church leaders take a traditional view.

Moreblessing Mutare, a young father of two who belongs to the Bishop Kunonga faction, was very abusive when asked to comment on what was going on at the church.

"You journalists are fuelling this whole thing. I won't speak to you again. Our Bishop [Kunonga] is right on the issue of homosexuals, but you want to make it as if he has done something wrong. If you read the Bible, it condemns homosexuality. That is our position," he said.

Running battles

Following the split, the High Court ruled that the two factions should share the church's property and hold Sunday services at different times.

The mood at the church varies according to which groups holds the service, says Musafare Chiraga, who attends service every week.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu
The Archbishop of York is an outspoken critic of Robert Mugabe

He said the attendance for Bishop Kunonga is boosted by members of the state-run National Youth Service, known by some as the "green bombers" and accused of being a pro-Mugabe militia.

"The happy and peaceful mood has disappeared as people are apprehensive about what can happen any time since the clashes began," Mr Chiraga said.

The dispute spilled over into violence just after Christmas last year.

Rival groups fought running battles at the St Andrews parish in Harare's Glen View district.

Then in February, the Deputy Sheriff had to use a bolt-cutter to break in to the cathedral after followers of Bishop Kunonga defied the court order and barred their rivals from using it to conduct their service.

Police were summoned and they took leaders of the two camps to the police station to try to find an amicable solution.

But to no avail and the legal wrangles have now been taken to the Supreme Court.

Church regulars say the majority of the congregation backs Bishop Bakare, while Bishop Kunonga enjoys the support of the state.

As Zimbabwe awaits the date of a run-off in the presidential election, some say this mirrors the situation countrywide.

The contributor's name has been changed for his own safety.


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Region's Bishops Say State Terror Will Ruin Run-Off


Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

13 May 2008
Posted to the web 13 May 2008

Pretoria

A run-off presidential election will not be possible without an immediate
end to intimidation, violence and torture and deployment of reliable
international election observers, the Catholic Church in the region said.

"Out of concern for the people of Zimbabwe, the bishops of the Catholic
Church in Southern Africa appeal for international and regional pressure to
end the systematic intimidation, violence and torture in Zimbabwe. The
current environment is not conducive to free and fair run-off elections,"
said Archbishop Buti Tlhagale OMI, President of the Southern African
Catholic Bishops Conference.

In a statement Tuesday, Archbishop Tlhagale said he and Cardinal Wilfrid
Napier, Archbishop of Durban, visited Zimbabwe recently and got first-hand
accounts of systematic intimidation, violence and torture.

"The victims identified the perpetrators as agents of the Zimbabwe Armed
Forces, the Police, the Central Intelligence Organization (C.I.O), War
Veterans, Youth Militia and plain thugs."

The human rights abuses are visited not only on those thought to have voted
for the opposition, but also on those who assisted the election process,
such as polling officers.

"This 'reign of terror' has seen many deaths, savage beatings and flight
from family, homes and communities. Human dignity is intrinsic to every
human being, regardless of political affiliation and must be respected. I
call on all political parties to reign in their supporters and end this
horror."

Archbishop Tlhagale wondered whether a free and fair run-off election will
be possible if the violence is not stopped. He called for immediate
deployment of international election observers to assess preparation for the
run-off election whose date is yet to be announced.

"I call on all Zimbabweans to remember the hope with which they entered the
March elections, so well expressed in the call by civil society in the
document 'The Zimbabwe we want', and to do all in their power to restore
Zimbabwe to its rightful place in the family of nations."


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Johannesburg on knife-edge after xenophobic attacks

Afrique en ligne

Cape Town, South Africa - Tensions are running high in Johannesburg, South
Africa, after a series of attacks on immigrants in Alexandra township north
of the city.

Police said two people have been killed and 40 others injured.

Police have arrested 38 suspects on charges of murder and attempted murder.

The attacks have sparked fears that xenophobia is on the rise, particularly
because foreigners are accused of "stealing" jobs.

Some of those who were attacked were Zimbabweans who are often accused by
residents of contributing to the country's high crime rate.

In April, shacks belonging to Zimbabweans were looted and set on fire.

The City of Johannesburg has called on communities to act in a responsible
manner and remain calm.

"Johannesburg has a long history of peaceful co-existence between South
Africans and foreign nationals. For years, we have stayed, worked, played
and worshipped God together. Ours has been and will continue to be an
inclusive city.

"The city has a policy on managing migration and seeks to ensure that all
those who live within its jurisdiction abide by the country's laws and are
treated fair in keeping with the country's human rights guidelines," said
city spokesman Gabu Tugwana.

A migrant's desk was established in 2007 to assist migrant communities with
a wide range of services including advice on how to access services and
information about economic and social opportunities.

The city will, on 25 May 2008 celebrate Africa Day.

"We are building Johannesburg into a world class African city. While doing
this, we recognise our cultural diversity. We should always strive to build
a vibrant and inclusive society. We remain committed to getting rid of
challenges of poverty.

"Those who choose to be intolerant and personally attack immigrants are
sowing seeds of division not very different from our racist apartheid past,"
Tugwana added.

Cape Town - 13/05/2008


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Comments from correspondents



In all the press releases and reviews I have read post election, nobody
mentions what I consider the most important fact. Even with Government
rigged results, it still shows that 59 % of Zimbabweans voted Mugabe out.
The figure is probably far higher.

Instead of focussing on the 47.3% MDC got, the line should be the 60% of the
people that voted Mugabe out. It would be difficult for the World Community
not to respond to a statement of this nature. The majority of Zimbabweans
voted him out.

MDC should use this statement as the cornerstone of their statements and
pronouncements.

All the best.
--------------
Throughout this mahem, it's become apparent just how adept Zanu PF are at
sowing the seeds of confusion. Traversing the forums, one can see how
members of the illegal regime apply their poison digits.† Rascism rears it's
ugly head time and again on these forums. Tribalism has proved successfully
divisive. Perfectly sensible discussions are reduced to mud slinging and
name calling. It's also curiously clear how ignorant people are about how
the 1st world works.The 1st world, as a whole, does not operate on
ideaology. It focuses on business. They'll do business with you if you
respect a) Human Rights and b) Property Rights. Bleating about past
injustices simply does not work anymore. Particularly if one has had 28
years to right the wrongs and move on successfully. Mugabe's rhetoric is one
big yawn. It's obvious that he doesn't have the faintest clue about
economics. We're constantly reminded† of his numerous degrees. The only
degree he seems proficient in is the Violence one. There is no doubt that he
has the street cunning of a sewer rat but he is certainly not 'clever', in
the academic sense. The proof is in the pudding.

It's important to shoot this 'sanctions' rubbish in the foot. He has used
this line very successfully. Which is why SADC still put up with him. He
knows which buttons to push and manipulates them with their own
insecurities. Look how the younger leaders of Zambia and Botswana are more
inclined to condemn him. They are not stuck in a communist time warp. Mugabe
holds no emotional power over them. They want what the 1st world wants.
Stability in the region. The UK certainly does not want to re-colonise
Zimbabwe. They can do without the headache.Therefore, it's vitally important
to keep clarifying the sanctions issue for the common folk. The simple fact
is that Zanu PF have not made their repayments, therefore their lines have
credit have dried up. It's as simple as that. The only sanctions at play are
directed at individuals within Zanu PF. If this simple truth is hammered
home, it closes the only excuse Mugabe has left for the disgraceful
condition of Zimbabwe. He's wrung dry his other favourites. The chaotic land
acquisition and resultant consequences must be addressed - again. It's
diabolical that Mugabe can still use this as a 'claiming back our heritage'
tool, whilst it's blatantly obvious that the land has been gifted out to
favoured cronies. Mugabe seems to be blissfully unaware that land is finite
and crops don't just grow themselves.

Finally, it's a matter of urgency to push for the popularly elected MDC to
take the reins. The culture of corruption has a stranglehold on Zimbabwe.
This evil can take years to eradicate. It has proved the ruin of Africa.

God Bless Zimbabwe.

F
--------------------

May you please be kind enough to edit your articles before you put them up
or atleast inform the people that write the articles you put on your website
, to stop reffering the MDC as the opposition party .The MDC has the highest
number of seats and Zanu Pf the least hence it will be totally correct and
internationally accepted even the heavens will agree that Zanu Pf is the
opposition party .And please also correect the Term "PRESIDENT" when talking
about Mugabe he is not the official President of the the Republic of
Zimbabwe please , God Forbid .Rather call him the President of the Zimbabwe
Ruins or care taker of The Republic of Zimbabwe.And thy shall not call his
bum lickers the Government of Zimbabwe again God Forbid they are The
Caretakers assistants never should they be called Ministers we all know even
the cockroaches of Zimbabwe all know that they are just mere assistants and
not Ministers .The President of Zimbabwe is Indeed the Honarable Morgan
Tsvangirai and the rulling party is the one and only MDC .The Caretaker
Mugabe and his assistans have just delayed the President Mr Morgan
Tsvangirai from assuming office and executing his duties .They still need to
be beaten again in the runoff then sent to the political waste land to be
buried and forgotten for all eternity† .


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JAG open letter forum - No. 533 - Dated 13 May 2008


Email: jag@mango.zw; justiceforagriculture@zol.co.zw

Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
jag@mango.zw with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------
1. Simon Spooner

Dear JAG,

I have listened to the moaning and groaning as well as the criticism for a
long time. There has been little or no encouragement.

A generation is to follow and we must take responsibility for our actions or
inactions when confronting issues that affect us. That next generation will
judge us as custodians of their history and by the nation we leave behind
for them.

This is a battle and in battle there are winners and losers. We must choose
what we are to be as individuals. Yes, there is security in numbers and
there is leadership as there are organisations in the forefront but,
individuals must draw their own battle lines and fight! In the struggle of
Zimbabwe today, a hostile and illegitimate Government, funded by you, the
taxpayer, is throwing everything at you, every resource of the state is
pitted against you, to convince you to concede just as Hitler's Germany
attempted to subdue the British in 1941. ZPF know that they cannot win a
fight where you and the people believe in winning. Already they behave and
act like losers and fear is their one and only remaining weapon.

We have to ask ourselves again, are we going to be the losers or the
winners? Are you going to make their task easier by handing them victory on
a plate?

This is not about bullets and guns but about who believes in victory the
most. Who is the stronger and not the weaker? There can only be that one
winner and we must ensure, at any cost, that that will be us. To lose, would
dishonour those that have suffered so much.

This struggle is going to be in the history books one day, not too far from
now, and is certainly the most notable of the 21st century thus far.

Will our generation be able to look our children in the eye one day in the
future and be able to say "we did our best"?

This battle is not about forex, inflation, the cost of living, but about a
whole Nation besieged by an unlawful authority. All Zimbabweans are victims,
bar the ruling elite, and it is up to us to draw the line in the sand
together, for everyone's sake and fight and not give up!

To finish, one of the best antidotes for depression and despondency, is to
place that wasted energy at the front line, in which ever way you can, to
confront the enemy. Join now, the brigade of unpaid volunteers who believe
in that victory and WILL win!

How quickly that victory comes, depends on how many compatriots, like you,
who find the courage to stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

Simon Spooner
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------
2. Gerry Whitehead - |Lowveld news 10th May 2008

Dear JAG,

RE: Terror campaign escalates.

ZANU PF's well planned terror campaign is escalating in the Lowveld now,
Army commanders in plain clothes are in the communal and farming areas
swapping groups of youth militia around so that they will not be recognized
by the local people.

On Friday there were queues of youth that we did not recognize cashing in
cheques for exactly 1 billion dollars. It is thought that these are the
militia cashing in their pay or reward.

On the 2nd May in Zaka East militia led by war vets Gwava and Samson Svundu
chased 14 youths at Chiredzana dip tank (ward 13) but only succeeded in
catching three of them. They were paraded and severely beaten up in front of
a gathering of some 2000 odd people who were told that if this area voted
for the MDC president Morgan Tsvangiria, all hell would break loose for
them. One of the young boys Jerry Tolivaripi had to be hospitalized at St.
Anthonys Mission Hospital, but only 5 days later for serious deep wounds and
bone fractures to his arms, the other 2 were also treated for deep cuts and
bruises.

Reports say that many people have left this area for the towns and cities.

Police were seen at this evil demonstration, but did not take part nor did
they do anything to prevent it.

The Chiredzi and Zaka parliamentary candidates with me have been threatened
with death.

Gerry Whitehead
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------
3. Cathy Buckle - On the Roadsides

Dear JAG,

It's hard to believe that six weeks ago the MDC won a parliamentary majority
and their leader Morgan Tsvangirai got more presidential votes than Mr
Mugabe. It's even harder to believe that the parliamentary and presidential
losers have managed to completely obfuscate the entire process and remain in
positions of power and authority as if nothing had happened - as if we'd
never had an election at all.

How can this be happening, is the question we are all asking. It's like
being stuck in an impossible horror story. The will of the people has not
been heard. The aspirations of a broken nation have been ignored. The voices
of the majority have been obscured in fear and betrayal. We all thought that
by now the breath of life would have begun blowing through the country
bringing desperately needed food, fuel, medicine and stability.

Perhaps even some of our family and friends, in exile for eight years, may
have begun thinking about coming home. So far the inevitable conclusion has
not taken hold and every day has become a blur of utter exhaustion and real
trauma for ordinary people. Trauma of finding food and having enough money
to buy it and extreme trauma associated with the orgy of violence,
intimidation and retribution which has engulfed our countryside.

While Zimbabwe remains paralyzed in time, every day lost this May 2008 is
condemning us to yet more hunger. We are now in the main wheat planting
season and yet farmers everywhere are in crisis. With inflation at 160
thousand percent, no fuel for ploughing or transporting inputs and virtually
no electricity for irrigation, there seems little hope that we can grow
anywhere near enough wheat for the coming year. The situation is being
exacerbated as farm workers have now been caught up in the brutal political
punishment campaign.

This week the agricultural workers union said 40 thousand farm workers and
their families had been cast out, beaten up and were destitute. The Union's
Secretary General, Gertrude Hambira, said: "Our members and their families
have been left homeless. They have been attacked by a group of militia
wearing army uniforms. They have been accused of voting for the opposition.
Most of them are on the roadsides. We are trying to find ways of taking food
to them."

Every day the international talk is of a global food crisis and yet Zimbabwe
seems hell bent on adding to it. Blessed with fertile soils and a temperate
climate and once proud to be called the breadbasket of Africa, to our shame
Zimbabwe is wasting another wheat growing season. It seems that bashing
heads and breaking legs is far more important than growing food this winter
because losers simply won't accept defeat.

With so much negative news, there is still hope because, even though
convinced he won, Morgan Tsvangirai has agreed to take part in a re-run
Presidential election. Hopefully this means the President-in-waiting will
now come home and see for himself the hell his supporters are enduring.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------
4. Susan Chemirmir (Texas, USA)

Dear JAG Team

RE: Invitation to displaced commercial farmers of Zimbabwe

I would like to extend and invitation to any displaced farmer who would like
to get a fresh start Ethiopia. I am not sure if there is a way to get a hold
of anyone interested. I was unable to access the CFU (Commercial Farmers
Union) website.

Does anyone have any suggestions? These Farmers have provided food not only
to Zimbabweans as well as many parts of the world, they deserve better.

Many of us from various parts of Africa sympathize with their plight and
suffering under the brutal dictatorship of the government would like to
offer them a chance to start over in a new home is peace and security.

If anyone is interested, please reply to:

Susan Chemirmir (Texas, USA)
lamorena61@yahoo.com

Thank You.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for
Agriculture.


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Money raised for Africa 'goes to civil wars'

New Zealand Herald
5:00AM Wednesday May 14, 2008
By Linda Herrick
Irish rock star and anti-poverty activist Bono and his band U2 were last year outed as tax-evaders. Photo / Reuters

Irish rock star and anti-poverty activist Bono and his band U2 were last year outed as tax-evaders. Photo / Reuters

Billions of dollars raised for African famine relief by celebrities Bono and Bob Geldof have instead funded civil war across the continent, says terrorism expert Dr Loretta Napoleoni.

London-based Napoleoni, in Auckland to appear at the Writers & Readers Festival, has written two books, Terror Inc: Tracing the Money Behind Global Terrorism and Insurgent Iraq: Al-Zarqawi and the New Generation, on the economics of terrorism.

Her latest book, Rogue Economics, studies the destabilising effect of economic globalisation, focusing in part on why more than half a trillion dollars worth of aid sent to Africa since the 1960s failed to reach the intended destination - developing the nations' economies.

That huge amount of aid, which includes money from the United Nations and donations generated by Live Aid for Ethiopia, organised by Geldof, and the Live 8 concert in 2005, organised by Bono, has instead "served as a rogue force, notably as an important form of terrorist financing" in countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya. Ethiopia, for example, received $1.8 billion in foreign aid between 1982-85, including a large contribution from Live Aid; $1.6 billion of that, she points out, was spent on buying military equipment.

"The money has ended up making Africa poorer and more violent because the money has been diverted towards warlords, weapons and armed invasions," she says. "The problem of Africa is corruption."

Napoleoni says there are parallels with Burma in the aftermath of the cyclone as aid organisations appeal for donations. "What is happening in Burma is a good example. You can have the best intentions but getting the money to the people in need is very hard because you have to go through the bureaucracy. The problem is the governance. You also need expertise. What the international relief organisations are saying is, you should send people from our team who know exactly what to do in these circumstances."

The cult of celebrity means that people who are famous for nothing more than being pop or movie stars speak out on issues they don't fully understand. "People like Bono and Bob Geldof are not ill-intentioned," she says. "But the simple fact that being a celebrity puts you in a position above everybody else is unacceptable.

"These people don't realise they are being manipulated by politicians and others. That is the case in the relationship between Bono and [American economist] Jeffrey Sachs, who is among the people who caused the chaos of the transition of the former communist countries into free-market economics. Sachs has been trying to relaunch himself as a sort of economist celebrity so he has been linking himself to Bono.

"Bono is repeating what he has been told about Africa. I am sure Bono hasn't got a clue about economics."

Napoleoni, who knows Geldof as a neighbour in the London suburb of Battersea, says he told her the first Live Aid was the "worse experience of his life because he found it very difficult to control where the money went. He suddenly realised it's easy to put famous musicians together to make money but to bring the money to the people in need is another matter."

Napoleoni adds that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy among stars linked to good causes. Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Bono and the other members of U2 were last year outed as tax-evaders for diverting their funds to the Netherlands, circumventing their democratic responsibilities to their home country of Ireland.

And Brad Pitt, Napoleoni points out, may drive a hybrid car, but he and Angelina Jolie use a private jet. Their trip to Namibia a couple of years ago, she notes, burned up enough fuel to take Pitt's hybrid all the way to the moon.

* www.writersfestival.co.nz

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