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Zimbabwe to fix presidential run-off date 'soon': officials

Yahoo News

1 hour, 10 minutes ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's electoral commission said Sunday it would soon fix
a date for the presidential election second round, as the opposition
continued to consider under what conditions, if any, it would take part.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has insisted that
according to its own calculations its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the March
29 election outright.

Official figures however, while putting Tsvangirai in the lead, did not give
him an outright win.

But while Tsvangirai has said previously there was "no need for a run-off"
he may yet take part in a second round if international observers are
present.

An MDC official, who asked not to be named, told AFP the party was busy
discussing conditions for a second round of voting. One condition they have
set is that United Nations officials be invited to observe the elections.

The MDC was due to announce officially on Monday whether it would
participate in the run-off. But most observers consider it unlikely that
Tsvangirai would boycott the poll as this would leave incumbent Robert
Mugabe the automatic winner.

"There are a number of conditions which we have lined up, such as the United
Nations being invited to observe the run-off," the MDC official said.

"The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has lost credibility, so we feel
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should come and assist
ZEC.

"Results should be announced within 48 hours after the elections, and
ZANU-PF should accept the results. We also demand that soldiers should be
removed from the rural areas and return to their barracks," the official
added.

The ZEC told the state-run Sunday Mail it would meet "as soon as possible"
to decide on a date for the run-off, which has to take place within 21 days
of the publication of results.

"I cannot state exactly when the run-off will be held but I can confirm that
the poll will be held on a date to be announced by the commission," ZEC
chairman George Chiweshe was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe has been rocked by post-poll violence since the announcement of
parliamentary results saw the ZANU-PF lose its majority in parliament for
the first time in 28 years.

Election officials on Friday said there was no outright winner of the March
29 election, with Tsvangirai getting 47.9 percent and President Robert
Mugabe getting 43.2 percent.

Thokozani Khupe, deputy leader of the MDC, speaking after a meeting of
senior part leaders on Saturday, said: "In the unlikely event of a run-off,
the MDC will once again romp to victory by an even bigger margin."

The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF),
while accepting the results, nevertheless insisted that the polls had been
fraught with electoral fraud. They cited vote-buying and the bribery of
election officials to count votes in favour of the opposition.

ZANU-PF officials have said that Mugabe will will contest the run-off. The
84-year-old president has had a stranglehold on power since independence in
1980.

The stand-off in Zimbabwe has been accompanied by a wave of political
violence in rural areas that human rights groups and the MDC have said was
aimed at forcing people to vote for Mugabe in a second round.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress has encouraged the parties
to seek a compromise in the form of a government of national unity, rather
than going into a run-off.

"We need to look whether a re-run will be in the best interests of Zimbabwe,
or whether they can negotiate a more accommodative arrangement," ANC
Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told the Sunday Times.

Tsvangirai has been a thorn in the side of Mugabe since the 1990s. He has
faced charges of treason and was given a brutal beating by police last year.
In 2002, he accused Mugabe of rigging his way to victory against him.


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MDC seeks support for run-off conditions

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins

Published: May 4 2008 17:32 | Last updated: May 4 2008 17:32

Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change on Sunday was seeking
international and regional support for a list of conditions under which its
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, would contest a second-round run-off against
President Robert Mugabe. These conditions include demands for the immediate
deployment of international election observers from beyond Africa as well as
from the African Union and the 14-nation Southern African Development
Community.

The MDC continues to insist that Mr Tsvangirai won the first round outright
with more than 50 percent of the popular vote, despite a firm rejection from
the chairman of the state-appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which
took almost five weeks to publish results of the presidential poll.

At the weekend, George Chiweshe, the ZEC chairman, attacked the MDC, which
he accused of “playing games” in the vote verification process. Mr Chiweshe
said that while the Zanu-PF party and Simba Makoni, the independent
candidate, had produced their own voting numbers to compare with those of
the commission, the MDC had failed to do so, despite being given extra time.

Mr Chiweshe claimed that both the Zanu-PF and Makoni figures were identical
to those compiled by the commission, but no comparison with the MDC figures
had been possible because the opposition refused to produce its voting
numbers.

The MDC’s demands for international observer missions and a guarantee of
prompt publication of the results of the second round are almost certain to
be rejected by both the government and the electoral commission, meaning
that within the next week Mr Tsvangirai and his advisers will have to decide
whether to contest the election or hand Mr Mugabe victory unopposed.

The opposition party fears that during the run-off campaign its supporters,
especially in rural areas, would be the target of violent attacks by Zanu-PF
militia. The MDC says that since the March 29 poll, 20 of its members have
been killed by government supporters and 1,000 homes have been destroyed,
but government ministers claim that that it is the MDC that is responsible
for the violence.

The MDC’s hopes that international and regional pressure will force Mr
Mugabe to scale back the violence and allow international observers to
monitor the second round are unlikely to be realized. The ruling Zanu-PF
party appears determined to ensure not only that Mr Tsvangirai loses the
next round, assuming he contests it, but also that the courts overturn the
MDC’s parliamentary majority.

Zanu-PF says it will contest the parliamentary results in the courts for 52
of the 109 seats won by the MDC, and given the courts’ partisan track
record, it is quite possible that sufficient results will be overturned to
give Mr Mugabe a working parliamentary majority. No date has yet been set
for the second round of presidential voting, but it is likely to be in the
last week of May or the first half of June.


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Zimbabwe teachers consider strike to protest violence

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: May 4, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Educators have become targets in Zimbabwe's post-election
violence, a teachers' union said Sunday, threatening a nationwide strike
unless the government stops the attacks.

The Zimbabwean opposition and international and local human rights groups
have accused the governing party, its militant allies and the army of waging
a campaign of terror since President Robert Mugabe came in second in March
29 presidential elections. Electoral officials have said that a second round
of voting is necessary because neither Mugabe nor his rival, Morgan
Tsvangirai, had won a simple majority, and there are fears of increased
violence in the lead-up to a runoff.

Teachers have traditionally assisted in running elections. The Progressive
Teachers Union said Sunday that the violent campaign against its members,
many of them respected figures in local communities, was meant to instill
fear and prevent them from participating as polling officers in the runoff.

"Whoever is calling himself the government should act to stop violence in
schools, or we will be forced to act," the union said, adding it was
considering calling a nationwide strike.

The union said more than 1,700 teachers had fled violence. It said its
members were under attack across the country and urged teachers to withdraw
from "politically volatile zones." It also said disruptions in schools
threatened examinations scheduled for June in rural areas.

It said that 133 members were assaulted over the past week and 496 were
"interrogated over election matters." Other rural teachers were said to have
been forced to pay a "repentance fee" in money, cattle or goats.
Human Rights Watch said last week that it had received reports that more
than 100 polling station officers, most of them teachers and low-ranking
civil servants, had been detained in an eastern province. The group
described these detentions as an indication the government and its loyalists
were targeting those seen as betraying Mugabe.

Mugabe's officials have denied fomenting political violence and accused the
opposition of being behind the unrest.

Thokozani Khupe, vice president of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, said Saturday that the group still believed a runoff was
unnecessary, maintaining that Tsvangirai had won the first round outright.

At a news conference Saturday, Khupe called on the Southern African
Development Community to help verify the results. "We still need to be
convinced before we participate in a runoff," she said.

No runoff date has been set. Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said
that the Constitution required a second round no sooner than 21 days from
the announcement of the results, and no later than a year.

The opposition has consistently rejected a runoff, but its stance has
appeared to soften since the official results were released. Mugabe's party
said that he would take part in a second round.

On Friday, Tsvangirai's deputy in the Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai
Biti, acknowledged that skipping a second round could result in another term
for Mugabe.

International observers have questioned whether a runoff would be
legitimate, given the violence the opposition has faced. The opposition's
top leaders, including Biti and Tsvangirai, have been staying outside of
Zimbabwe because they fear being arrested.


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Zim cops storm church service

News24

04/05/2008 20:03 - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwean police violently dispersed a group of people aligned to
the new head of the Methodist church who were attending a service in Harare
on Sunday and arrested a clergyman who was presiding over the service.

About 20 armed riot policemen had descended on the group aligned to the new
head of the Harare diocese, Bishop Sebastian Bakare, and ordered them to
disperse before arresting Reverend Farai Mutamiri. They bundled him into a
police truck and drove him away.

Those who tried to resist the order were beaten up with batons. Police
spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment regarding the
reason for the arrest of Mutamiri and his whereabouts.

Recently High Court judge Rita Makarau ruled that both church members
aligned to axed bishop Nolbert Kunonga and Bakare must share the St Mary's
Cathedral church.

Kunonga's faction had attended the service early morning inside the church
building and the Bakare faction was scheduled for mid-morning in the church
courtyard.

Kunonga has made no secret of his sympathy for President Robert Mugabe's
government and its policies, which handsomely rewarded his support by giving
him a farm seized from its former white owner.

He has resisted his expulsion from the church and formed a splinter church
group after his ousting.

Since the wrangle started, armed police have been called to disrupt church
services in Harare, arresting at least three priests and a number of
parishioners opposed to Kunonga and openly challenged the decision to allow
the disgraced bishop to take over against the will of the people.

There was also a heavy deployment of secret security agents to attend the
Bakare faction services. - Sapa-dpa


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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 3rd May 2008



Zimbabwe is still very much in the news so we got a lot of media coverage of
our demonstration in protest at Mugabe’s post-election reign of terror.
Fugayi Mabhunu gave three television and radio interviews while Stendrick
Zvorwadza of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) was on the radio
a couple of times. Others were also called on for media contributions.

ROHR activists were at the Vigil in force to express their abhorrence of the
violence being inflicted on opposition supporters. Stendrick briefed the
Vigil on ROHR’s plans for actions on the ground in Zimbabwe. Ephraim Tapa,
a founding member of the Vigil and also the founder of ROHR, is currently in
Johannesburg at the invitation of South African activists who want to join
up with the ROHR project.

To support our demonstration we displayed graphic images of the injuries
inflicted by Mugabe’s terrorists. They stopped passers-by in their tracks
and people lingered to study cartoons about Mugabe’s lunatic world.

The Vigil was galvanized by the singing of Ancilla Chifamba, now of the
Glasgow Vigil. She had to relocate to Scotland and has helped launch a very
successful Vigil in Glasgow. She came down with fellow Glasgow Vigil
co-ordinator Patrick Dzimba and attended a Vigil team meeting to talk about
the way forward.

For this week’s Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/.

FOR THE RECORD: 160 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Saturday, 10th May 2008, 2 – 6 pm. Next Glasgow Vigil.
Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information, contact: Ancilla
Chifamba, 07770 291 150 and Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137.

Vigil Co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.


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Attacks show not all police back Mugabe

The Australian

Greg Roberts | May 05, 2008

BESIEGED white farmers in Zimbabwe report widely varying responses from
police to attacks on their properties by Robert Mugabe's henchmen,
indicating patchy support for the President from his security forces.

Police have acted forcefully in recent days to evict supporters of Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party who occupied white-owned farms in early April near the
northern town of Centenary and the southern town of Masvingo.

However, in much of southern Zimbabwe and the country's east, the attacks on
properties have increased in the past week.

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, is undecided
about whether to contest a runoff presidential election after the Government
declared late last week that no candidate won a majority in the March
elections. Observers speculate that Mugabe has not yet stolen the election
because he is not assured of the universal backing of police and military
personnel.

Whites retain ownership of just 500 of the 4600 farms that were targeted by
Mugabe's former bush guerillas during a bloody takeover in the early 2000s,
leading to the collapse of Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy.

The Commercial Farmers Union says 160 white-owned farms are now under attack
by Mugabe supporters, but while police often ignore calls for help from
besieged property owners, they are intervening in some cases.

"Around the country there is a very confusing picture about the security
situation," said Farmers Union consultant Mike Clark.

"We are caught in the middle of this huge political argument and nobody
knows what really is going on."

Simon, the Australian son of a Zimbabwean farming couple, said his parents
had returned to their property north of Harare after Mugabe's henchmen were
evicted by police last week.

Simon, who asked that his surname not be published, said police had jailed
and beaten many ZANU-PF zealots.

"Much to the surprise of everyone, about half of the people who were trying
to take the farms over in our area, many of whom were drunk and acting
crazy, were taken away by the police. They were locked up and some of them
were bashed."

However, John Borland, a farmer from near the southern city of Bulawayo,
said he was preparing to leave his property because he feared for his
safety. Mr Borland said about 50 ZANU-PF supporters were camped 150m from
his home. They had set up a barrier on his entrance road and had slaughtered
livestock. "This is my home," he said. "I've been here 65 years and I've got
nowhere to go and nothing else to do but farm."

Mr Borland said many local MDC supporters had been beaten and they had told
him several had been killed.

Farmers Union president Trevor Gifford said his property near Chipinge was
occupied last month but that he had been allowed back with the assistance of
police. He said his workers had been evicted from the property and that some
were beaten severely.

"People working here on the farm have had to flee into the bush and they are
in hiding," Mr Gifford said.

"Everyone is absolutely petrified. It is a horrible existence. My family has
been here since 1894 and it is just barbaric that this is taking place."

In a bid to shore up support, Mugabe has claimed that whites are returning
to take back properties that had been taken from them.


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Political violence hampers food aid planning

Zim Online

by Lizwe Sebatha Monday 05 May 2008

BULAWAYO – Politically motivated violence gripping Zimbabwe since last month’s
disputed elections is hampering efforts to assess food aid requirements for
a country grappling with an acute food crisis and facing poor harvests this
year, relief agencies said at the weekend.

The Ecumenical Zimbabwe Network (EZN) and the Cooperation for International
Development Solidarity (CIDSE) that are among groups helping to feed
Zimbabweans, said they had been unable to reach all parts of the country to
assess the food security situation because of violence and the intimidating
presence of state security forces.

The EZN comprises more than 20 faith-based organisations involved in
humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe while the CIDSE is an alliance of 15
Catholic Church development organisations from Europe and North America.

The two groups said in a statement: “Our partners cannot carry out food
security assessments in the post-harvest season and are unable to plan
properly the appropriate support to the most vulnerable sectors of the
population in this coming year.

Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, has grappled with food shortages
since 2000 when President Robert Mugabe launched his haphazard fast-track
land reform exercise that displaced established white commercial farmers and
replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded black farmers.

A shortage of seed and fertilizer hampered planting while erratic rains for
most of the farming season has meant yields will be much lower again this
year and international relief agencies will have to step in with food aid.

The EZN and CIDSE said because of violence across much of the countryside
they were unable to carry out surveys to establish the extent of food aid
required.

“The intimidating presence of security personnel and the physical violence
taking place across the country is severely limiting our partners’ ability
to fulfill their humanitarian mission. This security situation severely
limits access to certain areas of the country,” the statement from two the
groups said.

Politically motivated violence and human rights abuses have resurfaced in
many parts of Zimbabwe since a March 29 election that Mugabe and his ZANU PF
party lost to the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party.

The MDC, Western governments and human rights groups have accused Mugabe of
unleashing militias to scare Zimbabweans into backing him in a second round
presidential ballot being held because Tsvangirai defeated the veteran
President but failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote needed to
take power under electoral laws.

MDC deputy leader Thokozani Khupe told journalists at the weekend that ZANU
PF militia have killed 20 supporters of the opposition party and destroyed
more than 1 000 homes since the elections.

The government however denies the allegation and instead says it is the MDC
that has carried out political violence. – ZimOnline.


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State editors ordered to toe the line

Zim Online

by Prince Nyathi Monday 05 May 2008

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s government has ordered editors of its
vast media empire to intensify a propaganda blitz in favour of the veteran
leader ahead of a tricky second round election against opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai.

Sources said Mugabe’s press secretary George Charamba, Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa and deputy information Minister Bright Matonga last Friday
met editors of state radio, television and newspapers and told the to tore
the line or face dismissal.

The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) operates the country’s
sole radio and television stations while the government’s newspaper empire
is the largest in the country.

"Chinamasa said if we are not prepared to tore the line we better leave and
they will look for those who are committed to the revolutionary cause," said
one of the state editors, who did not want to be named for fear of
victimisation.

Zimbabwe holds a second presidential ballot at a yet unknown date after
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March 29 election but failed to garner more
than 50 percent of the vote required to win the presidency.

Matonga refused to take questions on the matter saying meetings between the
government and editors at state radio or newspapers were confidential and
not for public consumption. “If there was a meeting, what business is it for
you? We hold several meetings with editors,” he said.

According to our sources, the government officials criticized the editors
for failing to support ZANU PF and Mugabe in the run-up to the March polls.

Chinamasa, who heads ZANU PF’s information and publicity sub-committee, is
said to have accused the ZBH of biased in favour of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party and claimed radio and television carried
too many opposition adverts in the weeks before the vote.

Charamba reportedly accused state editors of failure to adequately cover
rural areas which he said was partly the reason ZANU PF faired badly in the
rural areas that have been its strongholds in past elections.

Mugabe’s government, which tightly controls the media and has closed four
independent newspapers over the past four years, often uses public-owned as
propaganda mouthpieces. – ZimOnline.


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Zanu-PF resorts to all-night beatings

The Times, SA
Published:May 04, 2008


Thugs force villagers to whip own parents in revenge for poll loss

‘We were beaten and at the same time told we should not dare go to the clinic because they would be there waiting for us’

Mabhawuwa Tinashe was sitting outside a shopping centre early last month when a group of men, some of whom he recognised, forced him to attend a “night vigil”.

On instruction, he returned for a second “vigil”, but fled his home when ordered to come back a third time.

Tinashe, 19, could take no more.

Whipped all night long at the vigil in a bid, he was told, to teach him how to vote “correctly”, Tinashe is just one of thousands of rural dwellers terrorised by Zimbabwe’s feared war veterans and youth militia, following the March 29 elections in which President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF were voted out of power.

The war veterans’ weapon of choice, it appears, is the night vigil (pungwe), a creation of the liberation war where Zimbabweans were taken into the forests and forced, under threat of violence, to join the freedom struggle.

Several villages in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces are said to have been virtually sealed off by the war veterans and Zanu- PF youth militia in the weeks after the elections, so they could be punished for their “act of betrayal” in voting for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over Mugabe.

The crackdown is also intended to re-educate villagers so they support Mugabe against Tsvangirai in a runoff for the presidency, expected to be held on May 24.

For Tinashe and his fellow villagers, relief came only after some victims managed to flee to Harare, about 60km away, and alert human rights groups to their plight.

But the “lesson” had already been handed down.

Tinashe said the war veterans had targeted men of voting age — regardless of who they voted for. Those rounded up were whipped all night, with some younger men forced to beat their elders.

“We had to whip our parents, old and frail as they are, simply because they expressed their will.

“We had no choice but to do it because if the war veterans said that you were not being brutal enough, they would demonstrate on you how it should be done,” Tinashe said.

To add insult to injury, each homestead was “fined” Z10- million and 5kg of maize meal, which was used to feed the war veterans while they conducted their “operation”.

Tinashe said the “operation” lasted about two weeks before police briefly detained the war veterans after some of the people who had been tortured managed to raise the alarm.

“We were beaten and at the same time told we should not dare go to the clinic because they would be there waiting for us,” Tinashe said.

But the terrorising of the population may yet turn around to bite Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF. Another villager in Mabhawuwa said the torture had merely strengthened Zimbabweans’ resolve.

Come the presidential run- off, expected to take place on May 24, they will again vote for Tsvangirai as they had had enough of Zanu-PF, he said.

“We were Zanu-PF through and through, but now the time for change has come. How can Zanu-PF say it can resolve the country’s crisis when it has failed to do so all along?

“We believed them in 2000 when they said the MDC represented the whites’ interests because of the number of white people who used to turn up at MDC rallies, but now we have seen that we were being hoodwinked all along.

“We want change and we will achieve it even if they continue to brutalise us. Even some people who voted for Zanu-PF out of fear will now vote for Tsvangirai because they were not sure that Mugabe could lose an election,” said the villager.

They said the MDC did not need to campaign ahead of the runoff; Zanu-PF’s violence was enough to drive people into the opposition’s arms.

The violence has also spread to farms, where 34 evictions have been reported since the elections, according to the Justice for Agriculture Trust, which helps evicted farmers.

John Coorsley-Coorswick, the trust’s chief executive, said farmers were being punished for Zanu-PF’s failures.

But he said farm workers, not farmers, were being most affected by the evictions.

“About 200 people are employed on one farm and once a farmer is evicted, the settlers either chase the workers away or retain them and pay them a slave wage.

“All they are doing is sealing off the rural areas so that they can brutalise people into voting for Zanu-PF. It has nothing to do with redressing imbalances,” said Coorsley-Coorswick.

Meanwhile, the tension in the rural areas is said to be on such a knife edge that even Grace Mugabe, the first lady, referred to it this week.

Visiting victims of political violence in Rusununguko village near the town of Mutare, eastern Zimbabwe, on Thursday, she condemned the “thugs” who burnt down the huts of villagers for exercising their democratic right.

As many as 20 people have reportedly been killed and many injured in the crackdown following the election.Some villagers in Mabhawuwa in the Seke constituency about 60km east of Harare, told the Sunday Times that war veterans brutalised them after the poll results were announced saying they betrayed the revolution by voting for the MDC.


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Eyewitness Zimbabwe - people are pouring out of the country

HARARE - 5 May 2008

Anglican-Information is sending us daily reports from Zimbabwe of
intimidation and violence directed against opposition MDC (Movement for
Democratic Change) supporters and members. There is a systematic government
action to ensure that any run-off election between opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and 'President' Robert Mugabe will produce a 'victory' for
Mugabe, despite his overwhelmingly unpopularity. Readers should note that if
a new election takes place voters have to return to their home town to cast
their choice. The Mugabe government is contriving to prevent voters from
doing so.

A correspondent writes (3rd May):

People are pouring out of the country.

Many young blacks (in order to escape the violence and intimidation) are
thronging the border posts into Botswana. With a Zimbabwe passport no visa
is required for Botswana. Last time many of these refugees hired buses to
return home to vote in the March 29 election. The buses were then held up at
the border. This time the government have already had five weeks to set up
such blocking schemes.

The push factor for the few remaining elderly whites is inflation, now
estimated at 400,000% (some commentators put the inflation rate at a mere
165,000% although that is simply academic and these Weimar Republic-like
levels are crippling everybody - except the ruling elite) - They just cannot
make ends meet. Bread last week was 35 million a loaf. This week it is 70
million. This group also need medications which again, if you can get them,
are very expensive. Most health insurances only pay up after six weeks or
so. So the pull factor is the NHS. This group are selling their homes and
setting off for family in Britain or New Zealand.

Many more Africans, especially families of MDC activists, are internally
displaced, living in Harare or Bulawayo with relatives. With the huge cost
of transport how will they get back home to vote? So the Tsvangirai vote is
being very successfully eroded, without actually killing many people.

Also worrying is that, with many MDC leaders on the run, there is no one to
hold back the MDC Youth. In one or two areas, especially Mudzi, where they
have retaliated, the injuries have been the worst. The US Ambassador is
keeping records, and reports that the MDC is responsible for about 1 in 10
of the serious injuries. The majority are perpetrated by the army, police or
their agents.

We hope to be able to worship at ................., Harare, this morning (4
May). Our churchwarden seems confident. Our priest was not held over last
week and has promised there will be a service in English today. It may be
the last Sunday for one 90 year old who has worshipped at ...............
since its foundation 52 years ago. She is going to her daughter in South
Africa next month.

Please pray particularly for the polling agents, many of whom are being
threatened. A headmaster friend, whose school now has resident War Vets and
Youth Militia, is one.

And another report:

Please everyone 'pray against fear'.

There is now a concerted effort to attack the schools throughout the rural
areas. The message to the teachers is: 'One vote for the MDC in your village
and we will kill you.'

The headmaster of a rural school not very far from town (we were to go out
there today, May 1st, with books and provisions sent from England) rang up
on Tuesday evening to say thirty war veterans and youth militia had arrived
in the school, and the parents had told him it was not safe to go there.

We met the Head in town and took him and the parcels to the room where he is
lodging in Chitungwisa. The story was that these people (the so-called war
veterans) just arrived to tell the people there must be no more voting for
the MDC......or else. They have ordered themselves rooms to lodge in (free
of charge for the 'services' they are providing) in the Secondary School
next door, and help themselves to any food they can find by banging on
village doors. The Heads were told the government has abolished school fees.
Fortunately some of the parents have purchased essentials like chalk. Only
five of the seventeen teachers turned up for work, but the Head is
determined to keep the school open.

In Mudzi there has been the greatest violence. One of the Headteachers there
campaigned for the MDC and after the election his home was burnt down. He is
now in hiding having lost everything except his life. One teacher in that
area has been killed.

Independent Catholic News 2008


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Zimbabwe 2008: Change v No Change

Zim Online

by Mutumwa Mawere Monday 05 May 2008

OPINION: Only a few weeks ago, Zimbabwe celebrated its 28th independence
anniversary and for the first time in post colonial Zimbabwe, citizens
wondered whether their vote would be counted; whether their civil rights
would be protected by a government that was born from the womb of racial
oppression; whether justice would prevail and the promise of independence
would still be honoured.

Zimbabweans have now been officially informed after an unprecedented month
of anxiety that only two individuals remain standing and when the storm will
eventually be over only one of them will remain standing as president.

Who will it be? Who best captures the imagination of the Zimbabwean people?
What does Zimbabwe need at this juncture in its history? If President Robert
Mugabe, then what next? Can you imagine what Zimbabwe will be like in five
years with Mugabe at the helm? If you cannot, then you still have a chance
to voice your opinion.

The real difference will come when people choose to be engaged in the
debates of the time and become the change they want to see.

Anyone who does not believe that Mugabe offers the change they want to see,
there is no other choice than voting for and supporting opposition Movemnet
for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

For the first time, Mugabe goes into an election without knowing its outcome
and this must be an experience for him.

The people of Zimbabwe appear to be serious in reclaiming their heritage and
in actively shaping their future. The first step into a new future was the
transformation of ZANU PF into a minority party.

In as much as Mugabe had wanted the election to be about the past, albeit
oblivious of his record, the people of Zimbabwe seem to have other ideas.

Mugabe offers no new ideas but would like to take Zimbabwe back to 1979 to
recapture the rare moment when Zimbabweans broke down colonial barriers with
the hope that the country would be inched closer to the ideals that informed
the revolutionary struggle.

It was Mugabe, huddled with brilliant minds of his day, some of whom have
been condemned to retire in abject poverty, who embarked on a journey that
was expected to transform the exclusive colonial state into an inclusive
one.

It was obvious then that there was a fierce urgency to change the course of
history. Mugabe was not elected in 1980 to just make history but deliver on
the promise of independence.

Now 28 years later, it must and should not be enough just to look back in
wonder of how far Zimbabweans have been reduced to become spectators while
the country has been sliding into a dangerous economic and political
quagmire through Gono’s economic experiments under the leadership of Mugabe,
but it is time to seriously think about whether he is still best suited to
take the country forward given the journey still to be traversed.

Predictably Mugabe has already offered himself for the final showdown
against his own record. It would be wrong to suggest that Mugabe’s
competitor is Tsvangirai, for it is really his own record.

Twenty-eight years in office is a long time for anyone to run on his record
and yet it is not obvious that Mugabe has accepted that he should take some
responsibility for plunging the country into an economic abyss.

Zimbabwe is at a historic and defining crossroads and the run-off provides
yet another opportunity for Zimbabweans to pronounce their opinion about
what time it is in Zimbabwe. Is it Mugabe time or his time is up?

This year and this election come at a time of great challenge and promise.
Zimbabwe is challenged and citizens find themselves fearful of their own
government and less respected globally than at any time since independence.

It is a time for change that citizens can believe in. I am not convinced
that if in the rare chance that Mugabe is re-elected, hope will be restored
and the country can be put back to work.

Accordingly, Zimbabweans have another chance to turn the leaf and choose a
fundamentally different future not only in terms of policies and style of
leadership but a chance to heal a divided nation.

It must be accepted that some of the challenges that confront the country
that have been made worse by Mugabe and his administration, existed long
before he took office – challenges like health care; energy and environment;
ethics and political morality; education; rural development; economy; rule
of law; urban policy; poverty; security; and civil rights – but were not met
for decades because of a post-colonial political system that has failed the
Zimbabwean and African people.

We must accept that Mugabe is a skilled politician who is now a master at
employing textbook campaign strategies and tactics. However, the country
requires a break from the failures of his administration and it is time to
be honest about the challenges that Zimbabweans face. Zimbabweans need to be
told what they need to know and not what they already know about the vices
of colonialism.

This election is really about the future and not the past. As Zimbabweans
prepare for the run-off, it is important that they resist surrendering their
future to a president whose world view is a threat to prosperity for all,
opportunity and justice.

We all know that in Mugabe’s mind, winning elections and staying in power
means everything. Even people who may have doubts about Tsvangirai, this is
a time when differences must be put aside in the interests of advancing
Zimbabwe’s promise.

Some have proposed a government of national unity as a solution but like
Mugabe has said before, competition is healthy and it should not be the case
that losers end up miraculously as winners just because they control the
arsenal to intimidate others.

The people of Zimbabwe need to move forward and it seems that for better or
worse, Tsvangirai is the chosen one and history must allow him to lead and
define his own agenda without the fear of the ghosts of the past 28 years.

Any ZANU PF supporter must surely be aware of what time it is and it is not
too late to smell the coffee and, in the interests of the country, send the
message to Mugabe that he is alone in the run-off and the real final push is
in the making.

The country should mean more than the fate of Mugabe and now is a time when
only two names are on the menu of Zimbabwean voters to eloquently convey a
message that it is time for Mugabe to look for another career.

Zimbabwe needs change and the mere fact that the name of Tsvangirai is still
on the ballot box means for the first time, Zimbabweans are ready to break
from the past and textbook politics that President Mugabe is good at. –
ZimOnline


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The Forgotten Election

The Times
May 5, 2008

The outside world must make it possible for the MDC to fight on in Zimbabwe
In the midst of the spectacular local election results declared in Britain
on Thursday night and Friday, that an outcome was finally announced - after
five weeks - for the presidential contest in Zimbabwe might easily have been
forgotten. Robert Mugabe certainly prays that the eyes of the world have
moved elsewhere. The final numbers for the ballot, 47 per cent for Morgan
Tsvangirai compared with Mr Mugabe's 43 per cent, were exactly the same as
the figures that emerged in South African newspapers, courtesy of Zanu (PF)
sources, a mere 72 hours after the polling stations closed. This deepens the
mystery of why it took so long for them to be released and reinforces the
suspicion that Mr Tsvangirai failed to reach the 50 per cent level required
for him to become president immediately because electoral fraud kept his
rival in contention.

No date for the run-off ballot has yet been set. The dilemma for the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is whether or not to participate in it.
The party has been contemplating taking part even if this awards the first
count far more legitimacy than it deserves. The hope of forcing Mr Mugabe
from office at the second attempt comes with risking the lives of MDC
supporters. The alternative is boycotting the poll on the basis that the MDC
has already won and assuming that it will be impossible for Mr Mugabe to
remain in power, recognised by neighbours, in this situation. That there has
been such a discussion is entirely understandable, The personal safety of Mr
Tsvangirai himself is threatened and the fear that another round of voting
would be the pretext for atrocities on a more brutal scale than anything
seen so far is, sadly, very well founded.

Another ballot will only be credible if the outside world, particularly
South Africa, insists that it is run in a manner that is fundamentally
different from Mr Mugabe's notion of democracy. The MDC has to be confident
that the numbers of election observers - especially again those who are
independent in affiliation and from within the region (not Cuba, Iran or
Libya) - are of a scale so that not only is corruption on the day identified
but also intimidation in advance of the vote witnessed and highlighted.
South Africa has to state unambiguously at the outset that if violence
associated with Zanu (PF) emerges then it will disown the second round of
voting there and then and agree that, on the basis of the initial poll, Mr
Tsvangirai is the proper President of Zimbabwe. The media also have a moral
obligation not to move on to other stories but to focus on this one.

It is only if the conditions for a second round are right that the MDC will
be able to compete in it without the spectre of rigging or bone-breaking and
so the will of the people might be expressed. The man best placed to
restrain Mr Mugabe or, better still, persuade him that it is he and not Mr
Tsvangirai who should be withdrawing at this stage is President Mbeki of
South Africa. If he is not prepared to be the saviour of Zimbabwe, then it
must fall to Jacob Zuma, who today controls the ANC and who will probably
succeed Mr Mbeki in just under a year, to take the stage.

Zimbabwe has been taken to the edge of ruin. It could still be retrieved if
an orderly transfer of power can be implemented. It will take incredible
courage but the MDC must not allow itself to be cowed. If ever there were a
country where it is “time for a change”, it is surely this one.


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In South Africa, Zimbabwean Refugees Find Sanctuary and Contempt

IPSnews

By Michael Deibert

JOHANNESBURG, May 4 (IPS) - As the autumn sun sets over South Africa's most populous city, the halls of downtown Johannesburg's Central Methodist Mission fill with weary figures, many far from home, seeking solace within its walls.

On every spare inch of space on the floors and narrow staircase of the mission -- and on the pavement outside -- the destitute curl up to find shelter as best they can from the chill wind that moves between the tall buildings in this city. Mixed in among them every night are hundreds of refugees from South Africa's northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, who have fled their country's slow-motion economic and political implosion.

"We sleep outside in the streets. Sometimes we spend days without eating anything; we spend weeks without working," says Owen Muchanyo, a 23-year-old secondary school teacher of mathematics and science from Chitungwiza, a town south of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.

He has been in South Africa for three months. "It's better to sleep on the streets, where my life is somewhat safe, than to sleep in a house when my life is in danger."

A good number of those who now find themselves in Johannesburg have the skills needed to help pull their country out of the morass in which it finds itself.

"There are professional people here who might help to move their own country forward, but we are coming here to suffer because of one person in Zimbabwe and that is Robert Mugabe," says Raymond Chingoma, a 32-year-old political analyst from Harare who arrived in Johannesburg in September 2007, in reference to Zimbabwe's long time president.

Zimbabwe has been in a state of limbo for more than a month awaiting results from the country's presidential poll, which pitted Mugabe against former trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai. General elections took place Mar. 29.

Election officials finally declared on Friday that neither of the two men had won more than 50 percent of the ballot, meaning that a run-off will have to be held within the next three weeks.

Amidst delays in announcing the outcome of the presidential vote, the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) -- the larger of which is led by Tsvangirai -- joined forces to deprive Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) of the parliamentary majority it has held for the past 28 years.

Mugabe, who was said by observers to have rigged a 2002 presidential ballot which some believe Tsvangirai won, now stands accused of using his government and party to carry out brutal attacks against those who may oppose him, a tactic that critics say they have long become accustomed to.

"I was supporting the opposition party and with election time coming I had to leave because I was afraid of ZANU-PF violence against the opposition supporters," Muchanyo continues. "My family was beaten because most of them are MDC supporters. The ZANU-PF youth came and raided our home, took everyone out to their base, and there beat everyone."

Chitungwiza, the town that Muchanyo hails from, has become a stronghold of the MDC and was one of the areas that suffered most during Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, "murambatsvina" being variously translated as "restore order" and "drive out trash".

A police action ostensibly aimed at reigning in illegal housing settlements, the operation was said by a July 2005 United Nations report to have left at least 700,000 people homeless.

For its part, the Zimbabwean human rights group Sokwanele characterised the raids as "a Zimbabwean Kristallnacht", in reference to the destruction of Jewish properties in 1939 by Nazi mobs in Germany, while the Boston-based Affordable Housing Institute referred to Operation Murambatsvina as "slow genocide by bulldozer".

Muchanyo's experience is not an isolated incident. In March 2007, Tsvangirai's swollen visage was splashed across newspapers worldwide after he and several supporters were arrested and tortured by riot police.

"Some of the things that I hear in this office, night after night, in that chair where you're sitting, make me think that we've got big trouble coming," says Bishop Paul Verryn, who directs the Central Methodist Mission and holds church services and other outreach programmes for the Zimbabweans.

"I asked why they have left their country and they start with the litany: 'I was beaten, I was tortured, I was hit on the soles of my feet, I've got scars on my back, I can't sleep at night because of nightmares'," (see
Q&A: "We Mustn't Think as South Africans That We Have Won the Day").

The views of people inside the mission contrast sharply with those of South African President Thabo Mbeki who, on a visit to Harare in April, insisted there was "no crisis" in Zimbabwe.

Similarly, Zimbabweans arriving in South Africa are often given a reception that is less than welcoming.

On the evening of Jan. 30 around 23.00 local time, the mission was raided by dozens of officers from the South African Police Service (SAPS) who were allegedly looking for weapons, ammunition and drugs -- local merchants having complained that the Byzantine passageways of the multi-storied structure had become a hideout for criminals.

According to some who were there that night, the police beat several people severely, destroyed property and looted residents' belongings; some 300 people were summarily hauled off to jail.

Elizabeth Cheza, a 29-year-old who worked as a data entry clerk and MDC volunteer before leaving Zimbabwe in 2005, was awakened by a police officer pointing a gun in her face and shouting at her in Zulu to get up. Telling the story in the small room in the mission that she shares with a female friend and the woman's 11-month-old daughter, Cheza matter-of factly describes her experience that night.

"It was quite hot, so when I was sleeping I was just wrapping myself with a cloth," she says. "When I stood up, he (the police officer) slapped me like I was taking too much of his time. I went to hold my face, and that cloth I was holding just fell, and I was stark naked there in front of the man."

Verryn, a veteran of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, says he was also roughed up during the raid and saw people bleeding after being beaten by police. He views the incident as a blow against the kind of society that post-apartheid South Africa is trying to build.

"We have had the police in here on occasions when they really have been spectacular in the way in which they've handled tricky situations, in the way in which they've resolved conflicts: they've been immediate and they've been focused," says Verryn. "But there's another side of the police, and it's fascist, it's unbending, it's cynical, it will not listen and it's dictatorial. It's everything you would not want."

The police, for their part, say that they acted on the basis of good information and that legal recourse is available to those who believe they were mistreated.

"We had information that that was a hotspot where people would commit robberies and run into the building," says Govindsamy Mariemuthoo, head of communications for the SAPS in Gauteng Province, of which Johannesburg is a part. "Any person who felt that his rights were infringed (during the raid) could report that to the central station, where the matter would be investigated."

The Legal Resources Centre, a public interest law clinic based in Johannesburg, took on the case of the jailed detainees, and eventually succeeded in having them released after weeks of wrangling with a recalcitrant magistrate.

In a decision ordering the detainees freed that clearly referred to the apartheid era, South Africa's High Court characterised the police action and subsequent imprisonment of the refugees as reminiscent "of some of the grotesque obscenities with which members of our legal profession were familiar 20 years ago" and criticised the police and the magistrate for "brutal and indifferent and indeed cruel treatment of human beings."

The court's message is one that the Zimbabwean refugees at the Central Methodist Mission wish more in their adopted country would heed.

"They take us not as their neighbours, but as animals," says Chingoma, as he prepares to scan the mission's corridors for a place to sleep for the night. "They don't treat us well. When you go and say you are looking for a job, they treat you as if you are not an African, and you deserve to suffer. But we don't deserve that." (END/2008)


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EA lawyers to sue China over Zimbabwe

The East African

A JOINT REPORT
The EastAfrican

Lawyers from East Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) are seeking legal action against the Chinese government over arms
supplies to Zimbabwe.

The East African Law Society and the Law Society of the Southern Africa
Development Community say they have finalised preparations to institute
legal action at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Two weeks ago, the 77,000-tonne An Yue Jiang ship carrying several container
loads of weapons for the Zimbabwe Defence Force, including three million
rounds of AK47 ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and more than
3,000 mortar rounds and mortar tubes, was denied entry by several Southern
African countries.

The ship was turned away in Durban and Cape Town, where dockworkers refused
to unload the cargo, and later from Beira port in Mozambique, where it was
refused permission to dock.

Tom Ojienda, president of the East African Law Society, told The EastAfrican
last week that the two bodies will approach the ICC to investigate why China
is sending arms to Zimbabwe given the current political situation there.

Mr Ojienda said that the two organisations will seek court redress on the
post-election situation, including torture and assaults carried out on
citizens.

“The two organisations are going to engage the African Union and the United
Nations, into actively addressing the situation.

The lawyers were speaking at an emergency Pan-African summit in Dar es
Salaam on April 21 to discuss the election crisis in Zimbabwe.

The summit asked the African Union not to recognise results of the vote
recount. Instead, it wants the continental body to appoint an independent
high level Pan-African panel of eminent persons to deliver a political
settlement to the country.

Saying that the electoral crisis in Zimbabwe can only be resolved through a
political settlement that reflects the will of the people as expressed
during the March 29, election, the meeting also wants the AU to call upon
China and other countries “that are propping up the Zanu-PF regime,” to
desist from such actions.

It also called on the AU to openly condemn the state campaign of violence
against the people of Zimbabwe for exercising their democratic rights.

The summit, called by the East Africa Law Society, brought together 105
representatives of civil society, the legal fraternity, trade unions,
academia from 21 African countries.

According to the participants, the mediation efforts spearheaded by SADC and
endorsed by the African Union have failed to deliver the necessary solutions
to Zimbabweans and to uphold the will of the people.

“The entire mediation process has lacked transparency, neutrality, openness
and consultation of the majority of the people. The SADC-elected mediator
has shown a clear bias for the incumbent government and he should be removed
from the mediation process with immediate effect,” they said.

However, they said they recognised the important role played by certain
countries and individuals in attempting to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.

“We are encouraged by efforts and support of particular African heads of
state who recognised that the will of the people as reflected on March 29
has been compromised in the subsequent electoral process,” they noted.

According to the statement, realisation of the change for which the people
of Zimbabwe voted on March 29, 2008 is being threatened by Zanu-PF’s
attempts to cling to power “through coercion.”

Civil society in East and Southern Africa has demanded a rethink of the AU
approach on handling the Zimbabwe post-elections crisis, in a move that
could put President Jakaya Kikwete, the current chairman of the AU in a
precarious political situation, given the current continental political
divide.

The entry of civil societies also marks another acid test for Tanzania.
Tanzania and Zimbabwe have had a cordial relationship since the latter’s war
of liberation, and last year, President Kikwete — then SADC chairman —
appointed South African President Thabo Mbeki to head a peace mission to
Zimbabwe in regional efforts to pursue a long lasting solution even before
the election.

The summit participants were shown digital photos of people with severe
injuries allegedly resulting from the systematic Zanu-PF terror campaign
between March and April 2008 in various parts of Zimbabwe against people
suspected of being Movement for Democratic Change sympathisers.

It is also not lost on analysts that Zimbabwe has put President Kikwete on a
diplomatic collision course with regional power South Africa for the second
time in as many months, after the Comoros military intervention, which South
Africa disputed.

Prof Haroub Othman of the Institute of Development Studies at the University
of Dar es Salaam and chair of Zanzibar Legal Services Centre said the
Zimbabwe crisis is a symptom of widely practices politics of exclusion in
Africa.

Prof Othman said that regional bodies such as SADC, AU and Comesa should not
only integrate economically, but should also seek to bring into harmony
adherence to democracy and human rights, and must have charters addressing
human-rights issues.

Through the ongoing delay in announcing the presidential results and through
spurious attempts by Zanu-PF to have a recount in some parliamentary
constituencies, the summit participants said, the election process has been
negated and any run-off as a result of a recount or an announcement of
results will be illegitimate.

According to them, the announcement of the presidential results has been
deliberately delayed to prevent a possible run-off. “These results are
corrupted and compromised,” they claimed.

They said that although the AU mediation process delegated to SADC was
supposed to deliver an election that was broadly accepted by the people of
Zimbabwe, the delay in announcement of presidential results and the recount
in some constituencies have prevented such outcome.

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not acted independently and is
discredited. The judiciary has been compromised and is not independent. The
military is politicised and has excessive control over the government.
Zimbabwe is in a constitutional crisis and the legal environment has been
compromised and does not provide for and protect the rule of law,” they
said.

And for some foreign countries that they feel are using the crisis in
Zimbabwe to push their agenda in Africa, they said a statement: “Certain
international countries such as China are propping up an illegitimate regime
through a range of activities from diplomatic silence to the provision of
arms and ammunition to Zanu-PF. That must stop.”

They said that the international norm of “responsibility to protect” places
primary responsibility in the hands of the state to protect its people from
crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes.

However, where the state itself is the perpetrator of such heinous crimes,
and/or where it fails or neglects to protect its people, the international
“responsibility to protect” cannot be stopped by self-serving claims of
sovereignty on the part of armed and predatory elites.

Reported by Wilfred Edwin and Francis Ayieko


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Thabo Mbeki wanted Arms shipped to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Metro

By Gerald Harper ⋅ May 4, 2008
South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki ’s senior Cabinet ministers and
government officials worked to prevent the Chinese arms ship from offloading
its cargo, despite his insistence that the mortar bombs, rocket-propelled
grenades and assault rifles be allowed to reach Robert Mugabe’s military.

South Africa’s Finance Minister Trevor Manuel played an active voice in
preventing the Chinese arms carrier from docking in South Africa.

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, South African Revenue Service Commissioner
Pravin Gordhan, director general in the Department of Transport Mpumi Mpofu
and officials of the South African Police Service were among the key players
in a plan to delay the docking of the ship. They hoped to seize the six
containers of weapons on the pretext of customs and shipping technicalities.

The goal appears to have been to ensure the cargo could not be transported
to Zimbabwe.

This strategy flew directly in the face of instructions from Mbeki to the
ministry of defence and the national conventional arms control committee
that the arms transfer should be permitted, according to government
officials who were close to the process.

“He gave a direct order that they have to let it through,” one close
observer told a South African paper.

The seizure ultimately did not take place, because the ship failed to dock
to avoid a court order to attach the weapons against debts owed by the
Zimbabwean government. But the delays created by Sars and the transport
department opened a window for court action, civil society protest and a
declaration by dock workers that they would not unload the containers.

According to sources news of the shipment began to break on Tuesday April
15, the day after the An Yue Jiang arrived just off Durban. On April 16
Mbeki was in New York addressing the United Nations on improving cooperation
between the African Union and the world body. The Cabinet met in his
absence.

“Trevor Manuel was determined to discuss it with his Cabinet colleagues,”
said one official. The finance minister declared that he would “put his head
on a block” over the issue.

But the ship was not discussed during the formal proceedings of the Cabinet,
according to sources who were present, despite the urgency of the issue,
mushrooming media coverage throughout the day and the fact that several
ministers had known about it for two days.

It is not clear if Manuel raised the shipment with colleagues such as
transport minister Jeff Radebe on the sidelines of the Cabinet meeting. But
by the end of that day a team of customs officials had already been
assembled to go over the vessel and its cargo with a fine-toothed comb.

Meanwhile in New York Mbeki told journalists that South Africa would not
interfere in a legitimate transaction between Zim-babwe and China.

There was initially confusion over whether the vessel would be granted
permission to dock. On April 15 the National Ports Authority said the ship
would have to go through a complex clearance procedure, but 24 hours later
NPA parent company, Transnet, said there was effectively nothing they could
do to stop the ship from tying up. But that situation changed when the
department of transport weighed in, with Mpofu sending a letter to the ship’s
captain making it clear that permission to dock had been revoked and that he
would have to reapply for clearance. By April 17 officials from Sars’s
Pretoria headquarters arrived in Durban to help coordinate the effort.

While the bureaucrats attempted to stall the docking of the An Yue Jiang,
Sars officials worked with the police on a plan to secure the containers on
landing. They were then to be escorted to a secure military site, where they
would be held.

Mbeki’s insistence on letting the weapons through is seen by many who were
formerly among his closest allies in government and the ANC as “bizarre” and
“embarrassing”.

“It was a real revolt,” said one. “Every-one is asking what has happened to
him. It is very hard to explain.”

Contact the writer of this story, Gerald Harper at :
southafrica@zimbabwemetro.com


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Zim arms ship offloads cargo in Angola

Zim Online

by Own Correspondent Monday 05 May 2008

JOHANNESBURG – A Chinese cargo ship carrying arms for crisis-torn Zimbabwe
offloaded cargo in Angola after Luanda have indicated that the vessel would
be allowed to offload only cargo destined for that country.

The Chinese vessel was believed to be carrying three million rounds of AK-47
ammunition, 1 500 rocket-propelled grenades and more than 3 000 mortar
rounds and mortar tubes destined for Zimbabwe.

Early last week President Mugabe’s right hand man, Emmerson Mnangagwa had
held talks with the Angolan leader Eduardo dos Santos.

Although details of Mnangagwa's visit were not officially disclosed, sources
said he was trying to persuade Luanda to allow the Chinese ship carrying
arms for Harare to offload its cargo in Luanda after dock workers in South
Africa blocked the vessel from unloading the weapons at Durban port.

Quoting Angola’s dock workers union the, country’s Coordination Council for
Human Rights (CCDH), told the media on Saturday that some containers had
been offloaded, but that there was no information as to their contents.

The Angolan government had announced on Friday that it would allow the An
Yue Jiang to offload Angola-bound cargo but not the weapons destined for
Zimbabwe’s army.

The CCDH, to which the dock workers union belongs, failed in its bid earlier
last week to get a court injunction against the entry of the Chinese ship
into Angolan ports.

African and international opponents of the arms shipment have argued that
the munitions could be used by Harare in its crackdown against the
opposition in the country’s post-election crisis.

The Chinese government had announced on Thursday that the ship, which had
not been reported as carrying cargo for Angola, would be recalled home due
to the lack of authorisations to offload in South Africa and Mozambique. –
ZimOnline


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Mugabe in a State of Denial

OhMyNews

ZANU-PF split over published presidential election results

Nelson G. Katsande

Published 2008-05-05 04:44 (KST)

Zimbabwe is on a precipice following the March 29 disputed presidential
results and Mugabe's denial to concede outright victory to Morgan
Tsvangirai. The opposition has disputed the published results in which the
electoral commission put it 43.7 percent ahead of Mugabe's 43 percent.

It is baffling how the electoral commission came up with the percentage
considering that the total number of votes has not been made public. Mike
Mbofana, an opposition supporter, on Friday told OhmyNews, "Where is the
percentage coming from?"

"The people want to know the total number of votes cast, and the number of
votes for each candidate so as to come up with the percentage," he added.

Esther Marufu a former ZANU-PF supporter who switched allegiance to the
Movement for Democratic Change, said, "Literally the percentage that the
electoral commission came up with represents the parliamentary votes not
presidential."

The opposition's concerns that the results were rigged are further fueled by
the late release of the results. Even before the results were announced,
Mugabe was already on record as saying a runoff was needed. The opposition
insists Tsvangirai won outright considering that the results were posted at
individual polling stations.

A source close to the electoral commission said, "The opposition has
documentary evidence that they won outright. Mugabe is in a state of
denial."

The opposition must not be intimidated by Mugabe's brutality and must in
fact engage him head on and prove that the people have spoken. Even some of
Mugabe's supporters acknowledge that time is running out for him and that he
must step down with dignity.

Should Mugabe continue to hold on to power, he will surely go down in the
history books as a man who went from "liberator" to "liability."

ZANU-PF is said to be split over the published results. Even the war
veterans, Mugabe's loyalists, are divided over whether Mugabe should stand
for the runoff, as they fear the opposition will emerge victorious once
more.

Mugabe's supporters have embarked on a terror campaign in rural areas where
villagers are reported to be force-marched to Mugabe's rallies. In Chivhu
and Mutoko, villagers are fleeing their homes as ZANU-PF youths go on the
rampage. More than 400 villagers have been displaced in Mutoko.

Reports of opposition supporters being abducted have increased since the
presidential results were announced. A school was forced to close in Chivhu
last week as ZANU-PF supporters and war veterans threatened teaching staff
with violence.

It is highly unlikely that Mugabe will accept the results of a runoff should
the opposition win. There are also concerns that Mugabe will delay the
runoff in a bid to scare and terrorize the voters before the voting begins.

The opposition is said to be undecided on participating in the runoff.
Should the opposition pull out of the contest, Mugabe will be declared the
winner. It is only prudent and desirable that the opposition participate in
the runoff, with assurance that international observers will supervise the
elections.

There have been allegations that ZANU-PF was already drawing plans for
rigging the runoff presidential elections.

Zimbabwe's economy has deteriorated since the government's land reform
programs, which saw more that 3,000 white commercial farmers being
displaced. In 2000, the war veterans and ZANU-PF supporters waged a war
against white commercial farmers, evicting them from their land. The land
was later shared among Mugabe's supporters and war veterans.

Government officials also benefitted from the haphazard land seizures.
Zimbabwe, which was Africa's breadbasket, now relies on the support of other
neighboring countries for basic food necessities.

Hospitals are poorly equipped, with thousands of doctors and nursing staff
having fled to other counties in search of greener pastures. The death rates
at government hospitals are reported to be on the increase due to inadequate
medical supplies.

With the March 29 presidential elections, the people of Zimbabwe were hoping
for a change of government, for the ushering in of a leadership with
solutions for the deteriorating economy. But with the status quo, the
economy is set to deteriorate further.


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Mbeki 'no longer credible negotiator'

The Zimbabwean

Sunday, 04 May 2008 19:37
President Thabo Mbeki can no longer be considered a credible mediator
in the Zimbabwe crisis, the Democratic Alliance's parliamentary leader,
Sandra Botha, said on Sunday, reports Sapa.

When Parliament reconvened on Tuesday, Botha said, she intended moving
a motion calling for a debate on the post-election crisis in Zimbabwe, and
more specifically, probing Mbeki and the SA government's "distinct lack of
action" on the matter.

Botha last month gave a representative of Foreign minister Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma a letter detailing proposed demands to the Mugabe government to
help bring about an end to the post-election violence and political
stalemate in Zimbabwe.

If the Zimbabwean government failed to meet these demands, the DA
proposed that SA pursue more stringent measures, such as imposing targeted
travel and financial sanctions on Zanu-PF's ruling elite, and calling for an
international arms embargo on the country.

Despite having received these proposals, government had yet to respond
to the crisis in any significant way, Botha said.

"To add insult to injury, we now know from reports in the media that
President Mbeki not only endorsed the effort by Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF to
procure a massive cache of arms and ammunition from China, but that Mbeki
instructed the Ministry of Defence and the National Conventional Arms
Control Committee to allow the arms transfer to continue unhindered."

This morally bankrupt move would have contributed to the violent
suppression of the Zimbabwean people by the military and the police there.

This was "further evidence that President Mbeki can no longer be
considered a credible mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis".


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Re-run,Run-off to Where?

Zimbabwe Metro

By Asher Tarivona Mutsengi ⋅ May 4, 2008
On March 29th 2008,Zimbabweans went out to vote,they voted for change,they
rejected the status quo. A month after we are still back at where we
started,instead of the change that the people voted for, opposition and
civil society offices have been raided, opposition supporters tortured, and
murdered all this perpetrated by a minority party ZANU PF, the military and
police which make up less than 3% of the population.

A few factors stand out on the elections,which I will point out.

The electoral body it self is not independent, its chairman George Chiweshe
is a war veteran and was awarded a farm in Mazowe under the violent land
redistribution. Not that there is anything wrong with that,but that is
enough grounds to doubts his bi-partisan ability.

Lets not forget,that he was appointed to the bench in 2001 following a purge
of “unpatriotic judges” by the government. The purge occurred in 2001 after
the 2000 elections when Judges who delivered sentences that were not
favourable to the government including the nullification of the 2000
parliamentary results in some constituencies were fired and replaced by a
new crop of judges sympathetic to the government which include Chiweshe and
Tendai Uchena who sits on the Electoral Court and dismissed the MDC petition
to release Presidential poll results.

The manner in which the results were announced to the media revealed the
partisan nature of ZEC. The results were released slowly at a rate of about
30 a day. The manner in which they were released was both curious and
revealing. The results were released using a one each approach. Hence, at
the end of each broadcast there was a rough parity of seats won between the
two parties. In order to accomplish this, ZEC must have had the results of
all constituencies to know that the process could be continued until all
results had been disclosed.

Yet ZEC sought to explain the delay by maintaining that results were still
awaited from far polling stations. In view of the “one each approach” this
explanation was preposterious , the fact is that the results released bore
no relation to their distance from the command centre. Results from outlying
Uzumba, Goromonzi and Makoni rural areas were announced in advance of
results for constituencies in Harare.

The delay in the announcement of presidential results was baffling and no
substantial explanation held.

The results were finally announced this past week and ZEC said they were
being delayed by the recounts,but firstly recounts of the House of Assembly
results should not have a bearing on the presidential results, and thus
should not be a ground to delay the release of the latter.

The recounts and subsequent re-announcement of winners was illegal the
electoral law states that the previous declaration by the constituency
election officer of the winner is final and may only be reversed on petition
to the Electoral Court.

Further more, the procedure for resolving the dispute of a House of Assembly
results, by way of petition, should not have any impact on the presidential
results and there is no need to delay the presidential result on this basis.

In any case if a run-off was indeed needed why would they hold back the
results?

There are realistically only two possible outcomes of the presidential poll,
Morgan Tsvangirai won with an absolute majority or he won with a simple
majority. That announcement by ZEC was pure lies. The so called independent
estimates provided by ZESN had a margin of error of 2.4% which means
Tsvangirai could have been at 51.8%.

Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba himself confessed that indeed Tsvangirai
had won with a absolute majority and argued that that ZEC should not be
forced to release “faulty results” because they need to be fixed first.

Writing in his weekly column in The Herald he said, ‘Which is why there was
a bit of desperation to stampede both Government and ZEC into announcing
faulty results that would have rigged Tsvangirai into an outright win. ‘

After writing this we all know what followed,ZEC relocated its operations
from the command Centre and it announced recounts of 23 constituencies
mostly in which ZANU PF had lost narrowly to the MDC. Results in some seats
it had won were challenged after it emerged that despite their win they had
lost the presidential vote in those constituencies.

It appears the recount was conducted because ZEC reasonably believed the
miscounts were significant enough to take Tsvangirai below the threshold
required for an absolute majority. Since 1% of the poll is some 23 883
votes.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s chief election agents Chris Mbanga and Morgan Komichi,
have been excluded from the verification process for a full month where have
the ballot boxes been all this time.

When ZEC finally announced the ‘correct results’ which we all know placed
Tsvangirai below 50%,two options remain for the MDC. To participate or not
to in the runoff.

My two cents is,the MDC should never participate in the so called run-off
under any conditions. If ZANU PF cannot accept these results what makes the
MDC think they will accept the results of a second run if he wins?

Let us not forget how ZANU PF reacted when they lost the Constitution
referendum in 1999,the election that followed was marred by violence which
claimed the lives of over 100 MDC supporters.

In the run-off the MDC cannot guarantee the safety of their House of
Assembly elects. There is no doubt that ZANU PF will go after them and
eliminate them to necessitate by-elections. How can the MDC be so naive to
forget what happened to David Mpala,George Ndlovu, Learnmore Jongwe, and
Amos Mutongi.

In all good faith the MDC should boycott the run-off because it is not a
reflection of the wishes of the masses,they should straighten their
diplomatic efforts and deny Mugabe the legitimacy he so badly craves.

Asher Tarivona-Mutsengi, a former student leader is the Publisher of the
Zimbabwe Metro and zimbabwemetro.com he writes from Calgary,Canada,and can
be contacted at ashermutsengi@zimbabwemetro.com

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