28 minutes ago
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's ruling party urged supporters Tuesday to refrain
from violence in the build-up to a presidential election run-off, accusing
the West of trying to turn the country into a "theatre of war".
"We are urging our members to avoid violence," Nathan Shamuyarira, the
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)'s information
and publicity secretary was quoted by the state-run Herald as saying.
"We are urging our people to go and campaign peacefully. We are also urging
the opposition to avoid violence and respect people's lives."
Shamuyarira said some Western governments plotting to turn the southern
African region into a warzone were fomenting conflict.
"Our people should know that the said intervention by the British and
Anericans is not meant to help the ordinary Zimbabweans but meant to further
the interests of the British and Americans.
"They want southern Africa to be a theatre of war and confusion so that they
are able to tap into our resources."
He urged Zimbabweans to put the country ahead of partisan interests.
"This is our country. This is our Zimbabwe ... We should all respect the
leadership of our country. If one party wins and another loses, it's a party
for Zimbabweans. We should continue to live and work together as brothers
Shamuyarira's remarks came as the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party said at least 21 of its supporters have been killed in
the as violence constinues to escalate in the aftermath of the March 29
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP: "The situation in rural areas has
become worse. It has reached worrisome and alarming levels. The regime is
simply telling the people who voted overwhelmingly for change: "don't vote
ZANU-PF lost its majority in parliament for the first time in 28 years in
the March elections while none of the four presidential candidates garnered
the required majority to be declared a winner.
The electoral agency is yet to announce a date for a presidential run-off
but the opposition, which claims its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won an overall
majority in the first round, is still to decide whether to participate.
06 May 2008
ZIMBABWE’s electoral authorities have finally announced presidential
election results more than a month after voting, declaring no outright
winner — which thus necessitates a runoff between opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe wasted no time in saying he would contest the runoff — his last and
only chance of political survival after being defeated by Tsvangirai in the
first round of voting. By contrast, Tsvangirai dithered, saying he would not
enter the runoff because he won a “decisive victory”. His party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), rejected the official results, its
cavalier attitude apparently provoked by a series of bizarre actions by the
badly discredited electoral commission.
But now that the runoff die is cast, will Tsvangirai enter the race or not?
His party said at the weekend he would not because
he already won. However, this seems to be an academic question, since if
Tsvangirai does not contest the runoff it is clear what will happen: Mugabe
will be declared the winner. After a bruising campaign, Tsvangirai would not
want to let Mugabe wriggle off the hook just like that.
No doubt Mugabe is praying day and night for Tsvangirai to boycott the
runoff. Zanu (PF) administrating secretary Didymus Mutasa confirmed this,
when he said: “We are praying that Tsvangirai will not be foolish enough to
get into the runoff so that President Mugabe will be declared the winner.”
Despite this and the MDC’s boycott threat, there is evidence that Tsvangirai
will enter the race. The agreement he signed last week with the MDC faction
led by Arthur Mutambara states he will participate.
It is interesting that Mugabe anxiously wants to contest a runoff he is
almost certain to lose dismally, while Tsvangirai wants to avoid the poll he
is all but assured of winning. This sounds illogical, but there is method in
For Mugabe, this is the only chance he has to survive, but Tsvangirai can
afford to think twice about it. After all, he won the first round by a
credible margin (he thinks the margin was actually much wider than that
announced by the commission) and
can vacillate while shuffling a deck or spinning a wheel. The runoff is a do
or die for both of them, but Mugabe has more — if not everything — to lose.
Will Mugabe, whose party has already lost control of parliament, turn the
tables against the irresistibly ascending Tsvangirai? Or will Tsvangirai
falter at the finishing line?
The runoff for Mugabe will be a gamble. He will be taking a huge chance.
Like games of chance, elections have the potential to produce surprise
results. But Mugabe should lose miserably; after all, the main opposition to
Mugabe — the economy — continues to wreak havoc.
Mugabe’s regime should hardly have been surprised that it lost the election.
In an economy with 165000% inflation, unemployment above 80%, life
expectancy in the mid-30s, chronic shortages of basic goods, regular power
and water cuts, dilapidated infrastructure and collapsing social services,
it should be difficult to win an election.
But Mugabe’s regime is in deep denial. Instead of addressing the issues that
led to its defeat, the regime has been trotting out excuses for its
battering. It has also resorted to a reign of terror.
In a detailed elections report — which reads like a dossier of opposition
grievances from previous polls — Mugabe’s election
agent Emmerson Mnangagwa alleges that Zanu (PF) lost because of anomalies in
the electoral process. He claims that systematic electoral fraud,
disenfranchisement of voters, bribery of election officers by
nongovernmental organisations funded by western countries and the use of
food by charity groups as a political weapon was behind the defeat.
He also claims that the British government gave the MDC £3,3m, Australia
A$18m and the US $6m to campaign.
In other words, Mugabe’s and Zanu (PF)’s defeat had nothing to do with the
social and economic conditions of the voters. But it is these conditions,
combined with the self-evident fact that Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have become
unelectable, that will bury the incumbent regime. There is no regime in
recent history that has survived elections in such conditions.
Violence and brute force won’t work against a hungry and angry population.
In fact, they will only trigger an unstoppable tidal wave against Mugabe.
If Mugabe does succeed this time, he should get an entry in the Guinness
Book of Records for stolen elections, much like the controversial Canadian
politician John Turmel, who made history for contesting and losing the most
There is a joke doing the rounds that even if Mugabe runs against a donkey
in the runoff, the donkey will win by a landslide
— not because Zimbabweans really think a donkey can do better, but because
people will vote against Mugabe whatever the circumstances. It is sad, but
.. Muleya is Harare correspondent.
By James Butty
06 May 2008
As Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) continues
to debate whether to participate in a presidential runoff election, its
leader Morgan Tsvangirai Monday reportedly said he won’t commit to any
runoff until the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission sets the date for such
Meanwhile, there was movement Monday on the diplomatic front. The new
chairperson of the African Union Commission Jean Ping reportedly met Monday
in Harare with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
Also, the Political, Defense and Security Committee of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) called on the Zimbabwe government Monday to
guarantee security during a second round vote.
Sydney Masamvu is an analyst with the Southern Africa Project of the
International Crisis Group. From Pretoria, South Africa, he told VOA the MDC
is trying to ensure that there’s no violence during any runoff.
“I think the MDC has to understand in the context that they are trying to
ensure that conditions for proper election are put in place against the
background of continuing violence which actually obtaining in Zimbabwe. It
doesn’t make any political sense of committing to an election, which is
already flawed in terms of violence and in an environment, which is already
uneven. So what the MDC is saying is actually important in a sense that they
will only commit to an election which is held in a free and fair
environment,” he said.
Observers believe the MDC is caught between a rock and a hard place. On the
one hand the MDC is concerned about second round election violence. On the
other hand if it does not take part in any runoff, it would be giving
President Mugabe a victory.
Masamvu said the MDC would most likely participate in a runoff election.
“I think in the final analysis the MDC will participate. But it has to talk
concessions of ensuring that the environment is conducive for an election to
be held. It is also important to understand that Mugabe cannot win a free
and fair election. Mugabe is beyond redemption in terms being electable,”
The Political, Defense and Security Committee of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) reportedly called on the Zimbabwe government
Monday to guarantee security during a second round vote.
Masamvu said President Mugabe would have to comply with SADC demands.
“Mugabe is facing his moment of truth. He has to address what the SADC
leaders are saying because that his last line of support. And the very fact
that this call within the SADC body underlies that Mugabe is on his own
right now, and he has ensure that he complies with what the SADC is saying,”
New chairperson of the African Union Commission Jean Ping reportedly met
Monday in Harare with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
Masamvu believes the African Union is trying to ensure that President plays
according to rulebook of democracy,
“I think given the progressive role which the AU chairman, President Kikwete
(Jakaya) is playing of Tanzania, I think every African institution is trying
to ensure that Mugabe plays to the rulebook and ensure that whatever the
post-election process is in Zimbabwe has to meet the standard set by SADC
and the African Union. And more so that the Zimbabwe stalemate has to be
resolved in a negotiated political settlement,” Masamvu said.
He said if and when the MDC decides to participate in a runoff election, it
would have to do so with a united opposition.
“Indeed there will be defacto united front. Already Arthur Mutambara’s
faction has actually said we are working together. And actually as things
stand right now, the opposition will actually go into this runoff as a
united front,” Masamvu said.
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE, May 6, 2008 (thezimbabwetimes.com) – Zimbabwe’s troubled central
bank has further introduced new higher denomination bearer’s cheques of
$Z100 million and $Z250 million value in a desperate bid to ease the
recurrent cash shortages bedeviling an inflation-ravaged economy.
The new bills come into circulation today (Tuesday) and will anchor the
current set of notes which are in circulation.
In a statement released last night, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor,
Gideon Gono, said the move was implemented for “the convenience of the
banking public and the corporate sector”.
Since December 19 last year, Zimbabwe has seen the introduction of the Z$250
000, Z$500 000 and Z$750 000 bills which were followed by the $Z1 million,
$Z5 million, $Z10 million in January.
Early last month, the central bank introduced $Z25 million and $Z50 million
notes, which have since been overtaken by spiraling prices of goods being
propelled by a galloping inflation.
Cash shortages have over the past five years been some of the biggest
indicators of an ailing economy.
Zimbabwe has not had formal currency since the introduction of bearer
cheques as a temporary measure in 2003.
But persistent cash shortages are seen as a sequel of general loss of
confidence among Zimbabweans in the formal banking system and a harsh
response to the prevailing hyper inflationary environment.
The embattled central bank has periodically weighed in with a plethora of
fire fighting strategies which have invariably come to naught under
Gono last week conceded to growing pressure to liberalise Zimbabwe’s
exchange rate ostensibly to cover the widening vacuum created by lucrative
rates offered on the illegal but thriving black market and the official
Until then, financial institutions were authorized to offer a ridiculous
$Z30 000 to a single unit of the US dollar against the black market which
offered up to $Z130 million.
The new measures have had ripple effects on the availability of cash within
the formal system as banks now offer up to $Z165 million for a single US
Long queues emerged on Monday as people sought to obtain cash to pay school
fees at the beginning of the school term and for their own general use.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been in a free fall for nearly a decade.
Zimbabwe last year abandoned plans to introduce a formal currency amid
warnings from economic experts that the new currency would be obliterated by
Financial institutions have called on the Reserve Bank to lop off more zeros
from Zimbabwe’s multi-digit currency saying their systems are struggling to
read the excess figures.
Gono has remained adamant he will not dance to the tune of banking
institutions which he accuses of being unscrupulous and of fueling
President Robert Mugabe’s government blames the embarrassing economic
collapse on imposed sanctions on his government by Western government,
allegedly at the instigation of former colonial power, Great Britain.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of an economic crisis characterised by an annual
inflation rate of over 165 000 percent, shortages of basic foodstuffs and
The once prosperous nation has seen an unprecedented flight of its skilled
workers to attractive economic havens such as the United States,
Britain,Canada and South Africa.
Opponents of President Mugabe accuse the 84-year old leader of bringing down
a once prosperous economy through a plethora of ill-advised and often
vindictive economic policies against sections of society he accuses of
trying to advance a clandestine regime change agenda against his government.
Mugabe has accused business of abetting a foreign ploy to decampaign his
government by unilaterally raising commodity prices.
May 6, 2008
Harare - In a sign of the growing worthlessness of Zimbabwe's
currency, the country's central bank on Tuesday introduced two new
banknotes - a Z$100 million note and a Z$250 million note.
The launch of the new notes, which was announced on state
television Monday night, comes barely a month after the Reserve Bank
launched what has been until now the largest single note - Z$50 million.
But with inflation running at over 165 000 percent, Z$50 million
no longer buys a loaf of bread, which costs about Z$80 million. A bunch of
five bananas also comes out at close to Z$100 million.
The new notes, like all Zimbabwean bank notes, are bearer's
cheques with an expiry date. The smaller notes expire at the end of June
The populist policies of President Robert Mugabe's government,
including a disastrous land reform programme, have been widely blamed for
the decimation of the currency.
On Monday the Zimbabwe dollar was trading in banks at about
Z$200 million to 1 US dollar.
Zimbabwe's economic chaos is seen as the key factor behind
Mugabe's defeat in March presidential elections. Official results showed
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai taking 47.9 per cent of the vote,
against 43.2 for Mugabe.
Tsvangirai's failure to take the more than 50 per cent of votes
needed for an outright win means a runoff between the two is likely.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is expected to announce a date
for a runoff in the coming days. Mugabe has said he will participate but
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, which insists he won outright,
has yet to announce whether their man will take part. - Sapa-dpa
By Tichaona Sibanda
5 May 2008
The exchange rate of the local currency has taken a knock on the thriving
black market, after the Reserve Bank decided to float the local currency on
foreign exchange markets.
This was an attempt by the central bank to eliminate speculation on the
black market. But the prices of basic goods available in shops have not
dropped because they are pegged in foreign currency.
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said the decision last week to float
the local currency on foreign exchange markets will only benefit the upper
classes and not the poor.
The official exchange rate has been kept at Z$30,000 for one US dollar since
September 2007 -- but on the thriving black market, one US dollar can be
exchanged for around Z$150 million. Before last week, one British pound was
being exchanged for about Z$400 million, but has dropped in value since the
RBZ opted to ‘liberalise’ its foreign exchange trading system.
Muchemwa said the new monetary reforms would, in theory, improve the
availability of foreign currency to the government coffers, but not to the
‘To an ordinary Zimbabwean this means nothing. The prices will not go down
because for that to happen you need to flood the market with commodities.
The agricultural sector is not producing anything, so most of the foreign
currency will go towards importing goods to the country,’ Muchemwa said.
The country has long been experiencing a shortage of foreign currency, which
saw the regime failing to import adequate vital commodities such as fuel,
electricity, food and medicines. Traditional top foreign currency earners
such as tobacco and tourism have nosedived in recent years due to failure of
the country's land reform programme and the political crisis. But more than
anything, the country is suffering from chronic economic mismanagement.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Press and Journal, Aberdeen
mob plunder white Zimbabwean’s land
A white Zimbabwean farmer whose land was invaded by a mob of so-called war
veterans has gone into hiding, his father said yesterday.
Wayne Munro, 35, was attacked and shot at when 200 invaders arrived at the
family farm in Nyamandhlovu, 30 miles north of Bulawayo.
He was struck on the hand with an axe handle and, after holding his
attackers off with pepper spray, he was shot at four times as he ran from
the farm workshop to the house.
His father, Ray, 58, believes police want to charge his son with assault.
Officers have asked him to go in for questioning under caution.
Mr Munro sen said: “They wanted to take a statement from him but we think
they had ulterior motives. Why do they come at six o’clock and ask him to
come with them to the police station? Obviously they had no intention of
bringing him back. They would have kept him there in the cells.”
He said one state-controlled newspaper had already reported his son had been
arrested and charged with assault.
The farm was invaded on Wednesday, with squatters stealing tomatoes,
cabbages, onions and maize. Mr Munro sen said farm labourers were assaulted,
and their living quarters looted of clothing, radios and chickens.
Wayne Munro was holed up in one of the houses fearing if he went out the
squatters would move themselves in. But on Friday the invaders were called
off, possibly as the farm is one of the few places locally which grows
Mr Munro jun is now in hiding with his wife Ursula, 37, and two daughters,
aged four and seven. Ray Munro said his son was talking to his lawyer and
trying to decide what to do next.
The police inspector in charge at Nyamandhlovu was “not allowed to talk”
about the case and referred calls to Bulawayo police HQ, where nobody could
Chris Jarrett, Mr Munro’s former neighbour, said: “The police now want to
arrest him and his staff for assaulting, pepper spraying and shooting at
‘innocent’ war vets. This place is spiralling into bizarre levels of
President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party is accused of waging a campaign of
terror since elections on March 29.
The opposition MDC has claimed outright victory and said a second round of
voting is not necessary. But despite doubts over its legitimacy, observers
say a run-off is looking increasingly likely.
Mr Mugabe, 84, was hailed at independence in 1980 for promoting racial
reconciliation and bringing education and healthcare to the black majority.
But recently he has been accused of retaining power through elections that
independent observers say are marred by fraud, intimidation and rigging.
May 06, 2008, 08:45
By Manelisi Dubase
A cache of arms that was being transported to Zimbabwe was paid for with
eight tons of ivory poached from elephants in Zimbabwe. This came out during
the release of a report by international conservation groups on the illegal
Care for the Wild International, the Humane Society Institute and Save the
Elephants say the bulk of the ivory that ends up in the United States (US)
is coming from Africa through illegal means.
Some conservation groups say that at one point, the African elephant
population was halved by poachers, and identify the Chinese as the main
Martin Rowlings of the Human Society Institute says: "It’s very clear to us
that we need to do something about this. We would like to see Congress
taking action to make the sale of ivory much tougher if not illegal
altogether. We would like to see consumers developing an understanding that
by buying ivory they are contributing to the potential decimation of
elephant herds in Africa."
Buyers in the US purchase ivory from China, for use in items like pistol
grips, expensive jewellery and other high-value goods. According to
conservationists, this ivory comes mainly from central African countries
such as the DRC, Kenya and Cameroon.
Reporters sans Frontières (Paris)
5 May 2008
Posted to the web 6 May 2008
On 1 May 2008, Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrest of freelance
journalist Precious Shumba in a police raid on the Harare office of the
international aid NGO ActionAid, where he works as a programmes officer. A
reporter for "The Daily News" until it was forced to close, Shumba is the
10th journalist to be arrested since the general elections.
"The police are still operating as the armed wing of a beleaguered
government, instead of keeping order and protecting citizens," the press
freedom organisation said.
"Zimbabwe's police force was gradually turned into a militia that looks
after the interests of Robert Mugabe and his cronies and cracks down on
those who get in their way. Any peaceful solution to Zimbabwe's crisis must
include the release of all the victims of this unjust situation, in which
journalists have been favourite targets."
When the police raided ActionAid's office on the morning of 1 May, they
arrested all of the five employees present, including Shumba and ActionAid
country director Anne Chipembere. They are currently being held at the "Law
and Order" section of the Harare central police station but have not yet
been formally charged.
On 1 May, a Harare court again postponed a decision on a request for the
release of freelance journalist Frank Chikowore on bail. Chikowore was
arrested with 27 members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) on 15 April for allegedly disturbing the peace. At first he was
wrongly accused of working without the required Media and Information
Commission's accreditation. Now, he and six MDC members are charged with
helping to set fire to a bus.
Another freelance journalist, Stanley Karombo, is currently hospitalised as
a result of being badly beaten while detained from 18 to 21 April. Arrested
as he was taking photos during a speech by President Mugabe at an
independence day event at Gwanzura stadium in the Harare suburb of
Highfield, he was taken to a room underneath the stadium and was beaten all
day by several policemen, who accused him of "sending films to America."
"At 9 p.m., they blindfolded me and took me somewhere else," he told fellow
journalists who visited him in hospital. "I woke up the next day in a cell.
I am afraid at night. I can no longer stand the dark. I have the feeling
that something terrible is going to happen. I keep having nightmares and I
am having problems with my vision."
For further information, contact Léonard Vincent, RSF, 47, rue Vivienne,
75002 Paris, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 76, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org, Internet: http://www.rsf.org
For further information the Chikowore case, see:
For further information on the Karombo case, see:
06 May 2008
Mugabe was never a “good chap”, and Mbeki is not “in denial” over Zimbabwe.
(1) Robert Mugabe
The principal beneficiaries of the media myths about Zimbabwe are President
Robert Mugabe and President Thabo Mbeki. These myths should be dismantled
before they rewrite history. First, there is Mugabe (whatever happens to him
next). The myth is that he was quite a good guy until, regrettably, he went
a little off the rails in 2000. This is poppycock.
In 1980, when Rhodesia became independent as Zimbabwe, Mugabe took over as
its first president, and 28 years later he is still there. In 2000, after
losing a referendum to amend the constitution, he began a reign of terror,
now in its eight year. The debate has swung back and forth over what to do
about him; but besides turning him and his ZANU-PF party into pariahs, a
divided world has made no significant impact, unless it is to make "Comrade
Bob" more frenzied. To the extent that Mugabe lives under moral siege, the
main credit must go to Zimbabweans themselves, shattered though they have
been by the terror.
Before independence, Mugabe's Zanu had been (and still is) supported by the
Chinese government; the rival Soviet-backed Zapu, led by Joshua Nkomo, had
bonded with South Africa's African National Congress (ANC). In his book The
State of Africa (Free Press, 2005), Martin Meredith discusses the breakdown
in relations between Zanu and Zapu. Following the 1980 elections the two
parties governed Zimbabwe in coalition. "In secret," says Meredith, "Mugabe
planned for a showdown. In October 1980, only six months after independence,
he signed an agreement with North Korea, a brutal communist dictatorship,
for assistance in training a new army brigade with the specific remit to
deal with internal dissidents". It was the notorious 5th Brigade. In August
1981, after a team of 106 North Korean instructors had started work in
Zimbabwe, Mugabe disclosed the Brigade's existence. By early 1982, Mugabe
felt secure enough to stage a split with Nkomo, whom his rottweilers called
a "cobra." "A major point of contention" Meredith writes, "was Mugabe's
intention to make Zimbabwe a one-party state. Mugabe ousted Nkomo from the
cabinet in February 1982 after the discovery of arms caches that were
alleged to be part of a ZAPU-led coup attempt."
1983 saw the Brigade move against the Ndebele in an onslaught that did not
peter out until 1987. Within six weeks, hundreds of homesteads had been
destroyed. Meredith records: "Hundreds of thousands of ordinary civilians
were quickly reduced to a desperate state...In Mugabe's drive for a
one-party state at least 10,000 civilians were murdered, many thousands more
were beaten and tortured and an entire people were victimised." Mugabe's
army camps became notorious as "places of torture and brutality." (For an
insider's view, see here). The 1980s violence was eventually brought to a
close with the signing of the Unity Accord in December 1987, which
effectively led to the absorption of ZAPU into ZANU and the de facto
creation of a one-party state. In return for signing, ZAPU was guaranteed
little other than that one of the Vice Presidents of Zimbabwe would
henceforth be from ZAPU ranks. The Unity Accord of 1987 is seen by many in
the region to represent the political emasculation of Matabeleland.
Despite this history the soggy Left rushed to Mugabe's defence as soon as he
went - in the popular perception - from democrat to dictator in 2000. In
March 2001 the deputy comment editor of The Guardian, for example, wrote
soothingly under the headline, "Softly, softly": "Britain should stop
hounding Mugabe and look for an African solution that lets him leave
gracefully: To prepare a graceful exit for him, a very public focus on his
past, as opposed to his present, would be necessary: his role in the
liberation of Zimbabwe and his early, more successful, days in the
presidency recalled and honoured. Perhaps a financial retirement package
could be proffered. Mugabe must be coaxed out because he clearly cannot be
It is historic practice to offer immunity to burnt-out tyrants for crimes
against humanity, and then to maintain them in the style to which they had
become accustomed. Undoubtedly, lives have been saved in this way. However,
to elevate such agreements to "honourable" is grotesque. They invite
Four years later, in July 2005, another Guardian commentator, John Vidal,
was still singing from the same hymn book: "The vilification of Mugabe is
now out of control. The UN Security Council and the G8 have been asked to
debate the evictions, and Mugabe is being compared to Pol Pot in Cambodia.
Meanwhile, the evictions are mentioned in the same breath as the genocide in
Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans - although perhaps only three
people have so far accidentally died. Only at the very end of some reports
is it said that the Harare city authority's stated reason for the evictions
is to build better, legal houses for 150,000."
What explains the soggy Left's affinity to left-leaning tyrants? Name some
of the world's worst dictators - starting with Stalin - and you will find
that the soggy Left formed, at one point or another, an ideological
praetorian guard around them.
In The Times recently Daniel Finkelstein reviewed In Sickness and in Power,
"a riveting new book on the health of statesmen" by Lord David Owen (a
former Labour Foreign Secretary and doctor). The book discusses political
leaders who were "drugged to the eyeballs" [the Times's words] when they
were taking decisions that could change the course of history. But it is not
only drugs that warp politicians; it is also their psychological make-up.
How often haven't we seen photographs of Comrade Bob, animated and beaming
after another ‘successful' day of terror, holding Mbeki's hand in that
curiously effeminate way of his - the same Mugabe who says gays and lesbians
are "worse than dogs and pigs."
The question remains: why do so many African governments repeatedly end up
with corrupt, deranged leaders? What is it about the "African tradition"
that makes the African tragedy re-enact itself so remorsely?
(2) Thabo Mbeki
The other leading player in Zimbabwe's horror story is Mbeki. The myth
attached to him is that he went into "denial" over what was happening across
his northern border. The New Oxford Dictionary defines denialism as "Refusal
to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion or to admit it into
consciousness, used as a defence mechanism." In other words, Mbeki has a
mental blockage which prevents him from acknowledging the truth.
This, like the myth about Mugabe's "successful early days," is poppycock.
Mbeki knew exactly what was happening in Zimbabwe, and why it was happening,
and he defended Mugabe from start to the present day. At meetings of the
53-member African Union and the 14-member Southern African Development
Community, more than any other African leader he protected Comrade Bob:
orchestrating African solidarity and ovations.
At tricky moments, over the past eight years, Mbeki must have asked that
Mugabe at least make a few minor tactical moves in a pretence of
conciliation; but Mugabe ignored such counsel. In the May 8 issue of the
London Review of Books, RW Johnson writes: "In Mbeki's and Mugabe's minds
Western imperialism is engaged in a struggle to overthrow the NLMs and
restore, if it can, the preceding regimes - apartheid, colonialism or white
At AU and SADC conferences, much Mbeki-engineered applause for Mugabe was
extracted under duress. Solidarity of this kind is one of Africa 's killer
traditions. It helps to explains why African countries, one by one, have
become basket cases, as leaders from the same old tyrants' stable are
monotonously returned to office. In 1980, the Washington Post reported that
President Samora Machel "had warned Mugabe on several occasions not to
follow Mozambique's post-independence economic policies,' which resulted in
all but 15,000 of the approximately 250,000 Portuguese settlers in the
country quitting, abandoning farms and taking valuable equipment with them.
Mugabe took this advice for twenty years, before overturning it completely
from 2000 onwards. Neither Mbeki nor Mugabe could have been under any
illusions about what the economic consequences of the land seizures were
going to be - yet the one pressed ahead with them with the approval of the
It was only last week that Zambia's president Levy Mwanawasa broke ranks,
assembling SADC to try to curb Mugabe. However, not only did Mugabe fail to
appear, but Mbeki turned up and talked SADC out of its intentions. Mwanawasa
says he will persist: he has had enough of Mbeki and "silent diplomacy."
Perhaps what is changing here is not just the usual grovelling support for
Mugabe, but the beginnings of a breakthrough in a new moral standard for
Mbeki is a complex man; some would say damaged goods. Next to his English
upbringing is anti-whiteism, and next to his Africaness is low tolerance of
his own people. The address he wrote for the ANC's Mafikeng conference in
1997 was read for him by President Mandela doggedly, painfully and
obediently - revealing where real power lay. In the address, Mbeki gave ANC
members a tongue-lashing for being too consumed with ambition and greed.
Seeing that Mbeki presided over the country's huge arms procurement
programme (the poisoned fount of the corruption pandemic in the country), it
did not take him long to walk away from an African "renaissance".
Since Jacob Zuma ousted him as ANC president in mid-December last year,
Mbeki seems to be almost in a trance, as if nothing much matters any more.
His reaction to China's shipment of arms for Zimbabwe - documented in the
media, but dismissed by him - was mind-boggling. How did Mbeki acquire his
reputation as an "intellectual" when his presidential record is so littered
with novice mistakes? Now, since Zuma, Mbeki and his presidency are like a
procession of the walking dead.
When Mugabe finally quits, Mbeki will look over a charred Zimbabwe -
demolished homesteads, barren farms, a beaten and bloody population, four
million refugees gathered across the Limpopo River in South Africa - and no
doubt exclaim, "There, I told you. Silent diplomacy works".
The Zimbabwe Times
By Daniel Makina
May 6, 2008
THE violent crackdown on members of the opposition including their leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, which took energised form in March 2007, finally
propelled the Zimbabwe crisis to a threshold that triggered a concerted
effort for its resolution.
The SADC Heads of States convened in the same month a special summit to
specifically address the issue. The notable result of the special summit was
the appointment of South African President Thabo Mbeki to facilitate
dialogue between the opposition and the ruling party with a view to
resolving the crisis.
The SADC’s decision was generally welcomed by the opposition, civil society
and the international community. The only party that has not so far shown
visible enthusiasm is the ruling Zanu-PF party,.
The MDC opposition viewed the appointment of President Mbeki as mediator as
having permanently placed the Zimbabwe crisis on the SADC agenda unlike
previous fruitless bilateral South African efforts underpinned by quiet
diplomacy. Furthermore, the opposition knew very well that President Mugabe
also took part in the SADC decision and hence it would be difficult for him
to ignore the concerns of his counterparts without facing their censure.
The Zimbabwean civil society, though welcoming the move, was cautious and
wary that the facilitation of dialogue appears limited to the main
protagonists –Zanu-PF and the MDC. However, this fear could be mitigated if
the mediator also considers submissions by civil society. The Zimbabwe
Diaspora grouping in the UK nevertheless made a submission on what it saw as
the way forward. Overall, civil society is skeptical that the ruling party
will give the new initiative a chance, given its continuing wayward ways.
The international community largely welcomed the initiative but believed
that it should be complemented by tightening of restrictions on people
responsible for human rights abuses. Britain and the EU were happy to give
it a chance but at the same time signalled tightening of travel restrictions
by including more senior government officials considered responsible for
torture, abductions and other human rights abuses. The US has so far shown
skepticism over the success of the initiative given SADC’s past inaction.
The skepticism over the new SADC initiative may not be unfounded as it stems
from the ambiguity of the communiqué issued by the Heads of States. Other
than appointing President Mbeki to facilitate talks between the opposition
and the ruling party, the communiqué endorsed Mugabe’s positions viz.; (1)
that he was elected in a free and fair election in 2002 (notwithstanding the
contestations and adverse pronouncements by many observer groups that
resulted in targeted sanctions and suspension from the Commonwealth); (2)
that sanctions should be lifted (notwithstanding that the conditions that
attracted such targeted sanctions have since worsened); and (3) that Britain
should honour its Lancaster obligations (notwithstanding that no democracy
(albeit Western) would survive the wrath of taxpayers by spending money on a
country perceived to have no rule of law).
While there were unverified reports that Mugabe was privately censured and
that he promised he will soon depart from the scene after elections (though
going by his age he could have meant leaving on account of nature), the
communiqué remains the only written document and the historical record for
future reference. Predictably, when President Mugabe addressed the central
committee of his party the following day after the SADC special summit, he
only communicated the contents of the communiqué to his supporters and not
the censure he got privately. There lies the danger!
Mugabe’s Questionable Dedication to Talks
For President Mugabe negotiating with the opposition is a humiliation he
finds difficult to stomach. First, he has to gather strength to tell
colleagues in his party that a negotiated settlement is now the only way to
salvage the situation. So far it appears the strongman has only communicated
the contents of the communiqué of SADC and hence the party has picked two
crucial points, viz.- that Mugabe is a legitimately elected leader and that
sanctions should be lifted - as agenda items in talks with the opposition.
What many Zimbabwean observers underestimate is that Mugabe is not easily
moved from many of his so-called principled positions. As an illustration
let me give you just one example that wreaked havoc on the economy: his
opposition to devaluation. He labelled a Finance Minister a saboteur and
fired him for advocating devaluation of the currency. The subsequent Finance
Minister (also subsequently fired) had more than half of his functions
transferred to the central bank governor considered to be less bookish and
possibly malleable, who has been careful not to use the word devaluation and
has kept the exchange rate at ZW$250 to US$1 for more than one year.
In his latest monetary policy statement issued on April 26, 2007 he adjusted
the exchange rate to ZW$15,000 to US$1 by introducing what he called a
“drought accelerator factor” and pleaded with the media not to report that
he devalued the currency. The Scotsman (26 April 2007) aptly reported: ‘Dr
Gono said Zimbabweans would still have to exchange their hard currency at
the ZW$250:1 US dollar rate - but would then have their payouts upped by a
“drought accelerator factor” of 60.
“There is no devaluation,” Dr Gono insisted. “The exchange rate policy
remains as is.” This illustration shows how Mugabe has instilled fear in
everyone including his own lieutenants.
The point is that for meaningful talks to proceed, President Mugabe must
first sell the idea to his party, which would be an easy task given that he
has already bulldozed himself to be presidential candidate in the next
election. His party might probably welcome the idea of talks on condition
that he does not stand as its presidential candidate on conclusion of the
talks because it knows that he cannot win a free and fair election.
President Mugabe is now between two hard rocks and there is a danger he
might prefer to get crushed rather than to negotiate his way out.
What will make the Talks Successful?
The success of a negotiated settlement hinges on actively addressing a
number of factors. First, more measures and pressure may have to be applied
to get the ruling party to be serious about negotiations. Crucially, SADC
should communicate publicly to the rank and file of the ruling party that
the violent crackdown against the opposition, disregard of the rule of law
and election malpractices are issues that brought about the targeted
sanctions on the ruling elite, leading to the isolation of the regime.
At present, what is being communicated to them is that sanctions are a
product of a Western agenda against their land policy. Second, the
facilitation should also embrace civil society including Diaspora groups for
a lasting solution to hold. Inclusion of more players with vested interests
in addition to the opposition and the ruling party has the effect of
diluting stumbling blocks arising from stubbornness of a single party and
hence giving the facilitator better chances of carrying the process forward.
Third, the facilitation could require a higher body such as the UN so that
the process can get international credibility, which is crucial for
attracting an economic rescue package. Finally, the facilitation should not
be dictated by a timescale of a pending election. It should be made clear
from the outset that elections should only be held when there is agreement
that the conditions are such they will be genuinely free and fair as
President Mbeki recently noted.
In any case, the task at hand points to the need for transitional
arrangements before credible elections.
(Daniel Makina is an associate professor with the University of South Africa
and can be contacted at email@example.com)
The BBC got it right the other day; in news broadcasts they described the
Zimbabwe elections and the aftermath as ³bizarre². The elections took
place after a vigorous campaign by all parties and voting was peaceful
as it always is on polling day. Funny how violence is switched on and off in
this country! 2,4 million people went to vote a high turnout by my
estimate and the results were determined in the polling stations by
thousands of returning officers watched by polling agents in some polling
stations as many as 20 or 30 individuals representing the different parties.
By early morning on the following day (Sunday) nearly all stations had
recorded their final tally and declared the winners and losers. By midday an
early result for the whole country was known. The JOC and Mr. Mugabe were
given the news in the early afternoon and then the wheels came off the whole
process. Mr. Mugabe just refused to accept that he had been beaten.
An elaborate plan was then hatched and the team charged with running the
elections did everything they could to fudge the results. To gain time they
drew out the announcement of the result and then declared that 25
constituencies were to be ³recounted². A messy and clumsy exercise then got
under way and eventually came up with a result that few expected they were
simply not able, with any credibility, to alter the figures. Three weeks
went by, still no swearing in of new MP¹s, no inductions of new urban
councils and no presidential ballot results.
After the so-called ³recount² was concluded, finally ZEC announced that the
verification and count of the presidential ballot would take place a month
had gone by and already the Zanu PF campaign for a run off was under way. On
May the 1st the Chief Election Agents for the four candidates were called in
at 14.00 hrs and told that the final result was 48 per cent Tsvangirai, 43
per cent Mugabe, 9 per cent Makoni and 0,6 per cent for the also ran. Mugabe
had finally conceded what he had known on the 30th March, he had been
beaten, fair and square by the despised MDC.
We immediately rejected the results and stated that they bore no resemblance
to any of the data at our disposal and we had a great deal of data. We had
our own figures from poling agents, we had a comprehensive police report on
the results as supplied to the JOC and we had the results of ZESN and a
parallel vote count carried out by the same organisation. By all accounts,
Mugabe never got 43 per cent of the vote they simply took votes from both
Makoni and Tsvangirai and crudely decided that that was the result they
would declare. It had taken them a month to do what had been decided
virtually on Sunday night after the poll on Saturday.
We then demanded a full verification of every polling station and every
district. We wanted to see where these mysterious votes had been recorded.
With the whole world watching they were nervous but agreed to allow
verification of the raw data on the following day. At 09.00 hrs our team
presented themselves at the venue and an hour later they were given access
to the original returns from the polling stations and constituencies. After
two hours the process was abruptly halted, the Agents of the parties
excluded from the room and they announced that they were going ahead with a
press conference at which they would announce the final results of the
elections. This took place in the early afternoon with a room full of
smiling Zanu PF leaders and a number of totally dissatisfied representatives
of the opposition.
The world was told, Mugabe had been beaten, both in the House of Assembly
and in the presidential contest but that a run off was now required as
neither of the two front runners had the required 50 per cent plus one vote.
What a travesty! There was no way they could hide the evidence of what was
so blatantly a case of simply announcing a false result even if it gave
the MDC what everybody had known for a month, a victory.
Now, in keeping with the strategy they have followed for a month, they are
still creating space and time for the people running the Zanu PF ³Campaign²
to do their dirty business. They are delaying the announcement of the date
of the run off even though by law it must take place within 21 days of the
announcement of the results of the presidential ballot. For weeks we have
had intelligence that said that they wanted the poll on the 26th May the
day after Africa Day, which is a Monday, and a public holiday.
The Zanu PF campaign? Quite a simple formula really, they have mounted a
nation wide campaign of violence and intimidation against the MDC and its
supporters. This campaign is designed to terrify the local population into
voting for Zanu PF ³or else². MDC leaders and opinion makers in all
districts have been targeted and are being burnt out of the their villages,
beaten and driven into the towns where they will not be able to influence
rural voters or in fact vote themselves.
Remember these are the monsters who during a two month period, in front of
the whole world, destroyed the homes and livelihoods of 1,4 million people
during Murambatsvina in 2005, these are the same people who destroyed Zapu
in a savage campaign that lasted 6 years and might have taken 40 000 lives
in the 80¹s. We are dealing with hundreds of severely injured people, dozens
of deaths, thousands of displaced people. Every Church has become a place of
refuge and MDC offices are simply swamped every day by ordinary people
fleeing the violence.
They are revamping the actual voting process itself, trying the close the
loopholes that allowed an MDC victory in the first elections. They are
changing returning officers and replacing them with people who will be ³more
co-operative². They will ban the ZESN and stop any parallel vote count. They
have banned rallies and meetings until the campaign actually gets under way
after the formal announcement of the run off. Threats against the lives of
key leaders have been made and a number have left the country and gone into
hiding. Virtually every member of the team that ran the successful elections
on the 29th March is in jail or in hiding and unable to function.
We are saying that unless the playing field is leveled and the violence
stopped we will not participate. Well we have little hope of the former.
South Africa and our neighbors have watched the whole farce in silence. Not
a word of condemnation. Our hospitals are full of the MDC injured and not
one UN official has been to see for themselves. At the UN South Africa and
China to their shame, blocked a UN attempt to send someone to see what is
going on and to try and get Zanu PF to behave by some sort of
internationally recognised code.
So once again, as so often in the past 8 years, we are on our own, few
resources apart from our courageous and tenacious supporters, very little in
the way of equipment (I think we have 27 motor vehicles nation wide) and no
outside help to speak off. We are on the edge of the Jesse facing that mad
bull buffalo and waiting for him to stop shaking the trees and shrubs in the
thickets and come out and face his adversary again. Unequal as the contest
is, we are ready and even eager to get this over with. More determined than
ever with the violence being perpetrated against us and feeling that after
this, we will give Zanu PF no quarter, no amnesty, only justice for what the
have done to our country and its people.
Bulawayo, 6th May 2008
Nyasa Times, Harare
Veronica Maele Magombe 06 May, 2008 04:50:00
The Zimbabwe crisis shows no ending after the announcement of the
questionable presidential results, which now point to a possible re-run that
could trigger more violence. MDC is faced with the challenge of either
bowing down to a second round with certain preconditions, or boycott the
run-off, in which case, reinstate president Robert Mugabe into power by
default. Yet, Mugabe is unwilling to accept a new legally-binding framework
and enabling political infrastructure to ensure free and fair elections.
Since the initial announcement of parliamentary results, there has been
widespread violence against the opposition and polling officers such as
teachers. People are being abducted, tortured in special camps and killed by
brutal militias loyal to the ruling ZANU-PF, with the express support of the
state security services. Against this troubled background, Malawi’s
involvement in the Zimbabwe crisis has become highly questionable,
especially with the prospect of Malawi clearing the Chinese arms cargo from
Angola. Malawi’s suspicious dealings with Zimbabwe goes back to 2005, when
there was an international outcry over claims that the country was flouting
western sanctions in supplying the Zimbabwe police force with tear gas. The
tear gas was linked to the death of 11 people in a single incident in
Zimbabwe. In the event of the second round, there is great fear that the
police, army and militias will use weapons to intimidate and terrorise the
electorate to facilitate Mugabe’s victory.
Human Rights Watch has recently accused the Zimbabwe army of colluding with
the ruling party militants to unleash terror and violence, a condition which
will eventually need to be resolved through a disarmament, demobilisation
and rehabilitation programme. While the police continue to arbitrarily
arrest opposition supporters, they are not taking any action on the myriad
cases of violence. In the post-election period, revenge attacks have started
to unfold, raising the fear of full-blown civil strife. In their obsessive
bid to keep president Mugabe in power, the military and police have shown a
total lack of professionalism by failing to defend and protect Zimbabweans,
a situation which begs for proper security sector reform in the post-Mugabe
Malawi’s support in the clearance and/or transfer of any arms for Zimbabwe
from China or anywhere would therefore, demonstrate that president Mutharika’s
administration is intent on working against Zimbabweans’ welfare and human
rights. The potentially explosive state of affairs in Zimbabwe can end up
into a major violent conflict, dwarfing that witnessed in Kenya, Sudan’s
Darfur, and Somalia. Malawi should consequently be concerned that any ugly
spectre of civil strife will have repercussions on Malawi and the region.
How many more tonnes of maize would Mutharika need to send to Zimbabwe if
the economic meltdown and political predicament worsen? Already, there is an
on-going influx of Zimbabwean ‘refugees’ to South Africa and beyond.
Zimbabweans might view Malawi’s intervention as mounting to external
aggression as they strongly detest any foreign support for Mugabe. The
overall impact of Malawi’s support for Mugabe’s brutal repression, and the
intended facilitation and delivery of any weapons, which may end up in the
hands of security forces and deadly militias, would be wholly destructive.
All this, at a time when arms embargo and associated sanctions are being
effected by the European Union (EU) and other countries to counter the
violent state tyranny in Zimbabwe. The EU has called on all responsible
governments in Africa and world-wide to follow suite and ban the sale of
arms to Zimbabwe.
In fact, does Mutharika’s government reckon the need to make due
consultations or seek the backing of the people of Malawi on such grave
foreign intervention? The current administration seems to drive its foreign
policy in a way-ward manner forgetting that in a democracy government is
obliged to be transparent and accountable to the people. It is appalling to
hear of Malawi’s ‘Secret Intelligence Services’ misusing tax-payers’ money
on missions such as the one to Angola. This is besides the well-known mucky
indulgence of the Intelligence Service in wasteful spying misadventures
targeted at the opposition and government critics.
At this juncture, it is important to expound on Mainland China’s connection
with Africa and its impact on the continent. The Chinese ‘Cargo of Death’
which has been crisscrossing the Southern African shores, en route to
Zimbabwe is but one of the numerous examples of Beijing’s sick foreign
policy on offer to Africa’s authoritarian and killer regimes. China’s
partnership with Africa is buttressed by an axis tinted by the dark colours
of dictatorship, bad governance and awful human rights abuse. Beijing would
rather feed Zimbabweans with guns and bullets than food, all the more reason
it is indifferent on resolving Sudan’s Darfur conflict and atrocities –
thanks to its permanent seat in the UN Security Council, and the subsequent
It is possible that China has become a bullyboy intent on coercing Malawi
and other African countries to facilitate the transfer of its weapons to
Zimbabwe to anchor comrade Mugabe’s iron fist rule. Beijing could be using
the stick and carrot approach, whereby it forces leaders like Mutharika to
do its bidding in return for Chinese support. The Malawi/China agreement on
strengthening military co-operation is the principal trap. Similar
arrangements have been made with African countries. As has been alluded to
by many people, by facilitating the transfer of arms to Mugabe’s regime from
China or anywhere, Mutharika will bestow on Malawi a bad image and
reputation, and the probable consequence for being an accomplice in the
Zimbabwe quagmire would be the wrath of sanctions.
Malawi should, in its endeavour to support the people of Zimbabwe - reflect
on the rare demonstration of the spirit of ‘brotherhood’, which South Africa’s
dockers showed by refusing to unload the damned weapons consignment aboard
the rusty and pathetic Chinese vessel. Mozambique has likewise refused the
Chinese ship entry into its territorial waters. In spite of the dithering
and shameful inaction and impotence of SA president Thabo Mbeki - the ruling
party, ANC’s newly elected leader, Jacob Zuma, has strongly condemned the
post-electoral situation in Zimbabwe. Zambia’s Levi Mwanawasa has urged
African countries not to allow arms to get into Zimbabwe or aid the
worsening of the situation in that country. Unfortunately, the mediation of
SADC has lacked strategic consensus, and its ineffective intervention has
only led to more failure and frustration. This leaves SADC, and the
toothless AU less trusted as potential mediators and monitors of any re-run,
and justifies the need for UN involvement.
Mugabe’s last days
Looking at the margin of presidential results announced by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, it is clear to many people that Mugabe, the liberator,
has been bent on unlawfully clinging to power. Needless to say that, the
proposition for an all-inclusive unity government, like that of Kenya -
seems to be favourable. The only challenge is how to get Mugabe, who is the
main problem, out of the equation. Generally, mounting international
pressure especially from the West, has left Mugabe scared like a
haunted-man, unable to brazenly declare ultimate victory in his favour.
Mugabe, the shrewd and cunning survivor, has ruthlessly played the anti-west
and anti-colonialism card, and used the land reform and redistribution
manoeuverings to woe voters, and mobilise his ‘fiery dogs of war’ – the war
veterans. Many Africans have supported Mugabe for his anti-west rhetoric,
and branded him an independence hero. Yet, Mugabe is typical of the African
liberator-archetype like Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, who has effectively
transformed himself into a monster, terrorising the very people he claims to
have liberated. There is now great need for a comprehensive investigation of
the grave crimes his government has committed for several years.
Interestingly, the same Mugabe who has scorned and ridiculed the West, has
bemoaned its sanctions imposed on him, when he has China as the current
sponsor and apologist. It is ironic that Mugabe has been pre-occupied with
land reform with no sense of a framework to see more agricultural
production. Without realising the importance of skills and resources, the
seemingly energetic war veterans have just sat idle on the land grabbed from
white farmers, unable to produce a bumper harvest on the once highly
productive farms. Why hasn’t China helped the struggling Zimbabwean black
farmers to produce miracles on the land?
Against the deadlock in Zimbabwe, pressure from the international community
needs to intensify if the crisis is to be resolved. Malawi as a regional
neighbour, should be seeking to proactively and positively engage in ways
that brings the crisis to an end. This calls for a tougher stance on the
regime of Mugabe in Harare. The media, civil society and the opposition in
Malawi should strongly support the struggle of the people of Zimbabwe.
Malawi should better realise that, Zimbabweans need genuine liberation, here
and now. In particular, Mutharika should shy away from dragging the country
into shameful and destructive foreign interventions. Mutharika should not
forget that his own regime in Malawi is gravely troubled and increasingly
unstable. Thus, the picture one gets of the relationship between Mutharika
and Mugabe is that of two dying people trying to resuscitate one another. As
one African political analyst put it, "Mugabe is a politically dead man,
whose ghost is refusing to be buried, and instead continues to haunt the
long-suffering people of Zimbabwe.