Friday, September 19, 2008

Discord over rights abuses

HARARE - Zimbabwe's political leaders appeared to speak with discordant voices on Wednesday on the sensitive subject of how to achieve national healing while ensuring those who violated human rights are brought to justice following a unity accord signed earlier this week.

Morgan Tsvangirai - Prime Minister-designate in a new government of national unity with President Robert Mugabe and another opposition leader Arthur Mutambara - told a British newspaper that some senior members of Mugabe's government could face trial over political violence. Mugabe himself will not be tried, according to Tsvangirai.

But, in a quick reminder of how fragile the unity agreement between the three political rivals is, a senior official of Mugabe's ZANU PF party and Mutambara's faction said the parties had not agreed what to do with perpetrators of human rights abuses.

They said whatever course of action the three parties may eventually decide to take, it should be aimed at "achieving national healing rather than punishment and retribution" - clearly insinuating Tsvangirai may have jumped the gun when he spoke of bringing Mugabe's lieutenants to

ZANU PF deputy spokesman Ephraim Masawi described Tsvangirai's remarks as "unfortunate" and charged that the incoming prime minister loved to point fingers at others while his own MDC party was also guilty of committing political violence.

"The agreement is clear that we must have national healing, but how to achieve that is yet to be fashioned," Masawi told ZimOnline. "It is unfortunate that Tsvangirai speaks of ZANU PF members facing trial, ignoring that his party was also responsible for political violence in the countdown
to the June 27 presidential election run-off."

The ZANU PF official claimed that all of Zimbabwe's three main political parties were guilty of committing political violence, citing a statement issued by the parties last month in which they not only condemned past political violence but also accepted responsibility.

"Every party admitted committing violence and we wonder why Tsvangirai only mentions ZANU PF members. The issue of whether perpetrators will face trial or not rests with the parties when they deal with how to heal the nation as prescribed in the deal they signed on Monday," said

Mutambara would not comment directly on Tsvangirai's calls for ZANU PF officials to be brought to trial but said whatever action the three parties decide to take should aim to heal the nation and not to achieve retribution.

He said: "We must have restorative justice that seeks to incorporate the views of the victims, to rehabilitate individuals and communities that were brutalised through the abuse of human rights and crimes against humanity."

In an interview with The Times newspaper, Tsvangirai said while Mugabe could let off the hook, those in his inner circle should stand trial for political violence and other crimes.

"I don't think Mugabe himself as a person can be held accountable. But there are various levels of institutional violence that has taken place and I'm sure we'll be able to look at that," Tsvangirai
reportedly said. "Let the rule of law apply . . . We all cry for the rule of law, and if somebody's committed an offence he should be prosecuted."

The MDC leader, who was himself brutally assaulted and injured by police last year, said the new government was committed to ensuring there would be no repeat of the violence, which he described as "the darkest period in our history".

Political violence and human rights abuses have accompanied Zimbabwe's elections since the 1999 emergency of Tsvangirai and his MDC party as the first potent threat to Mugabe and ZANU PF's grip on power.

For example, Tsvangirai says that more than 100 members of his MDC party were killed and more than 10 000 others displaced in political violence in the run-up to the June presidential run-off election

Tsvangirai, who pulled out of the run-off to protest the violence and despite having led Mugabe in the first round of voting in March, blamed the violence on ZANU PF militia and state security forces.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal is the first real opportunity in nearly 10 years for the crisis-sapped southern African nation to begin a chapter of national healing and recovery.

However, many in and outside Zimbabwe remain immensely skeptical that the deal clinched after seven weeks of tortuous negotiations could stand the strain given the deep personal animosity and mistrust among the political leaders.

Source: ZimOnline

Zim cabinet talks falter

Jan Raath in Harare

The first attempt by the three partners in Zimbabwe's new power-sharing government to launch its new administration and confront the country's disastrous state fell at the first hurdle last night when they failed to agree on the sharing of the ministries.

"Zanu(PF) is claiming all the powerful ministries," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, after Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, broke up after about six hours of negotiations.

MDC sources said Mr Mugabe was insisting on the ministries of defence and home affairs - which includes the police, finance and local government.Mr Mugabe's new demands came after he addressed his party's politburo and central committee.

At the meeting on Wednesday, Mr Mugabe declared: "We remain in the driving seat. We will not tolerate any nonsense from our new partners."

Mr Chamisa said the issue would be referred to representatives of the three parties who carried out the bulk of negotiations for the agreement for an "inclusive" government signed on Monday.
Mr Mugabe leaves next week for the United Nations general assembly, which means that any conclusion is stalled by at least another week.

On Wednesday Mr Mugabe also told the central committee, "If only we had not blundered in the March 29 elections, we would not be facing this humiliation.

"This is what we have to deal with. We urge you to do your best in trying to understand the document." His remarks indicate a sense of resignation, and also signalled that for the first time since he came to power 28 years ago, he and Zanu(PF) can no longer exercise total control. His stance yesterday, however, showed he can be expected to use delaying tactics to the full.

Zanu(PF) will have 15 of the 31 ministries established in terms of the agreement, Mr Tsvangirai's MDC 13 and the lesser MDC led by Arthur Mutambara, 3, leaving the MDC with a slender majority - another unprecedented and unpalatable truth facing Mr Mugabe.

The MDC is understood to be willing to let Mr Mugabe keep the defence ministry, a move that both would placate the powerful generals loyal to him, but also in the hope that he would surrender to the main pro-democracy party the home affairs ministry, and with it the all-important police force.

Source: London Times

Friday, July 4, 2008

Doctors put the bones back together

HARARE-- The doctor points impassively to two X-rays on a screen. One is of a foot fractured in four places, the breaks more severe than if the victim had been run over by a car, the doctor says.

The second is of a leg fractured at the thickest part of the tibia, just beneath the knee. The fibula, a smaller leg bone, is smashed to pieces, says the doctor, who despite eight years' experience with cases of trauma and beatings has never seen an injury like the tibia fracture.

The leg and foot injuries were not the only ones suffered by the two victims, a 41-year-old polling agent for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party beaten on the soles of his feet and a 46-year-old MDC provincial secretary struck with a metal bar. Both had two broken arms
and one had broken ribs.

The pair are among the thousands of Zimbabwean activists who were injured in the run-up to Friday's presidential runoff, overwhelmingly opposition party supporters attacked by ZANU-PF ruling party militias and operatives, according to Human Rights Watch.

At least 85 opposition activists were killed before the runoff, which concluded with longtime incumbent Robert Mugabe being the sole candidate. An additional 200 are missing and presumed dead. And roughly 200,000 people were displaced from their homes in the violence, the opposition says.

In some areas, the opposition could not field a single polling agent to monitor the election because of safety concerns.

MDC presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, who described the election campaign as being like a war, pulled out of the vote because of the severe violence against MDC activists. Mugabe, 84, who had finished second to Tsvangirai in the initial presidential vote in March, was inaugurated for a new five-year term.

The X-rays convey only the bald medical facts of what happened to two of the many victims, but to a doctor, the pictures speak as eloquently as courtroom testimony.

The doctor, whose name has been withheld because of safety concerns and possible repercussions, describes himself as a man interested in facts, not emotions. He does focus on the biographical details of the men involved, who they were and what were their thoughts and feelings.

"I just write the medical reports," he says. "I try to keep it as objective as possible."

What staggers him is the level of suffering, and the length of time that the victims will continue to feel the pain. "Every time that person puts his foot down for the next five years, it will
hurt," he says.

"You have four metatarsal fractures," the doctor continues, gesturing at the bones in the central part of the foot in the first X-ray. "You just don't get full metatarsal fractures at the same time. It's very unusual. It requires a huge amount of force.

"You could drive a car over someone's foot and if you broke two of them it would be a lot," he says.

He jabs a finger at the X-ray of the tibia injury. "Will you look at that bone? The massive strong part of the tibia has been separated. You just don't get complete severing of the tibia from the knee like that. I could not hit someone hard enough to do this.

"It's an illustration of unbelievable, intentional brutality," he says. This is not over when the election is over." The areas hardest hit by the violence were traditional ZANU-PF strongholds
that had swung strongly to the MDC in the March vote.

Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, a group of independent doctors, reports that 2,000 people were treated for injuries suffered in political violence in June and more than 5,000 since February. The doctor is a member of the organization.

"One of the most disturbing things is that there is nowhere that people can turn to. You have got no refuge, no ombudsman, no policeman," the doctor says. He switches off the lighted screen behind the X-rays, takes them down and slides them into two brown envelopes. There are many others like them, he says.

Moroka Media

Mugabe urged to dialogue with opposition

HARARE (AFP) - President Robert Mugabe returns to Zimbabwe on Wednesday under pressure from fellow African leaders to form a national unity government in the wake of his re-election in a violent poll ruled unfair by monitors.

An African Union summit in Egypt, attended by Mugabe, approved a resolution calling for him to negotiate with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who withdrew from the run-off election because of violence against his supporters.

The resolution fell short of the tougher statement wanted by some African countries, but it was an unprecedented rebuff to Mugabe, previously feted as a liberation hero.

In the strongest public statement from one of Zimbabwe's neighbours since he was sworn in on Sunday, Botswana called for Mugabe to be barred from the AU and the southern African regional body SADC.

Last Friday's second-round election, in which he was the only candidate, was condemned by monitors and much of world opinion as violent and unfair.

"In our considered view . the representatives of the current government in Zimbabwe should be excluded from attending SADC (Southern African Development Community) and African Union meetings," Botswana Vice-President Mompati Merafhe said, according to a text of his remarks.

Botswana said Mugabe's participation in African meetings "would give unqualified legitimacy to a process which cannot be considered legitimate".Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called for Mugabe, 84, to be suspended from the AU after the election.

European Union president France said the EU would only accept a Zimbabwean government led by Tsvangirai, echoing a Western position that Mugabe was an illegitimate leader.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the first round of the election on March 29 but withdrew from the run-off after he said pro-government militias killed 86 of his supporters. Botswana's statement underlined deep rifts in Africa and among Zimbabwe's neighbours over how tough to be with Mugabe.

South Africa, the designated mediator in Zimbabwe, has resisted open condemnation. The AU summit, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, called for SADC mediation, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, to continue.

Mbeki has been criticised in the region and at home for what is seen as ineffective mediation that favours Mugabe. At the summit, Mugabe attacked his critics in Africa and outside but did not
object to the resolution, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told reporters.

"There was a lengthy debate, many views were put forward including very critical views of the Zimbabwean ruling party and the president," Zaki said.

Mugabe spokesman George Charamba earlier rejected ideas being discussed for a power sharing deal and MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said there was nochance of negotiations.

Biti said Mugabe's decision to go ahead with the June 27 election "totally and completely exterminated any prospects of a negotiated settlement". MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the party would respond to the AU resolution on Wednesday.

The summit did not back a U.S. push for U.N. sanctions against Mugabe, including an arms embargo.

Source: AFP

Friday, June 20, 2008

Zim death toll tops 85

The death toll from state-sponsored violence ahead of Zimbabwe's presidential run-off next week has reached at least 85, independent observers say.

Fourteen killings were reported in a single day yesterday, including four opposition activists burnt to death in a petrol bombing. Human rights groups fear the real toll may be far higher, with many opposition supporters believed to be held in torture camps and police cells, and unidentified bodies being found every morning.

As the killings have increased, the Mugabe regime that has ruled for 28 years has faced unprecedented criticism from fellow African leaders. The Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, head of a regional Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) observer mission, said it was now impossible for the election to be "free and fair".

The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said at a UN security council meeting on Zimbabwe that "by its actions, the Mugabe regime has given up any pretence that the 27 June elections will be allowed to proceed in a free and fair manner" . The UN is not expected to take action at this stage.

African election monitors have publicly questioned the viability of any vote after their observers witnessed two people being shot dead while they were being deployed to polling stations.

A day after the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, failed in his attempt to get Mr Mugabe to delay the vote, Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) confirmed it had come under heavy pressure from its supporters and officials to pull out of the run-off.

"We have a multiplicity of voices in the party urging us to quit this sham election," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said. "The party has not yet decided on such a drastic step but it is something gaining wide attention and discussion within our ranks."

Mr Chamisa said the MDC was dismayed by the failure of the SADC and the African Union to take effective measures to rein in the 84- year-old President and his backers in the police and army. T

he South African leader's diplomatic mission, in which he failed to persuade Mr Mugabe to talk to the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who beat him by a clear margin in the first round of voting, has done nothing to alleviate the political crisis.

An influential Zimbabwean politician close to the Mbeki discussions, who did not want his name used, said: "As long as the so-called mediation is based on appeasing Mugabe instead of confronting his evil regime head on, nothing is going to be achieved. It is understandable that some among opposition ranks want the MDC to pull out. Mugabe has been allowed to create this farce with impunity by his peers who fail to deal with him decisively."

With Tanzania as current chairman of the African Union, Mr Membe said he and the foreign ministers of Swaziland and Angola would write to their presidents "so they do something urgently so we can save Zimbabwe".

SADC is sending 380 monitors to Zimbabwe for the vote. Although Mr Tsvangirai won the first round, heavily delayed official results purported to show he failed to get the outright majority needed to avoid a run-off.

The MDC said the four party activists killed overnight were abducted in Chitungwiza, 15 miles south of the capital, and assaulted with iron bars, clubs and guns. Witnesses said that the victims were forced on to trucks and taken away by militias chanting Zanu-PF slogans.

A further 11 killings were recorded by civil society groups including that of Abigail Chiroto, the wife of the MDC mayor-elect of Harare. She and her four-year-old son, Ashley, were seized at their Harare home on Monday night. The boy, who was left at a nearby police station, said he saw his mother being blindfolded and taken into the bush.

Britain has warned the security and military establishment in Zimbabwe that "they are playing with fire" by allowing the political violence to escalate. "They are digging their own graves," said Lord Malloch- Brown, the Foreign Office minister for Africa, who suggested that existing sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his "hard men" could be widened and deepened after the election. "They will never be able to travel or hold bank accounts outside Zimbabwe, they will lose the ability to send their children to school outside the country. They will be trapped in Zimbabwe."

If Mr Mugabe does manage to steal the election, "it will be by such egregious theft and intimidation that the international community, and neighbouring countries, will see that this is without legitimacy and act accordingly", he said.

Lord Malloch-Brown predicted that Mr Tsvangirai could still secure a "big win" from Zimbabweans who have refused to be cowed by the continuing intimidation and harassment. But he also said that the MDC leader would be expected to share power even in case of a convincing victory. "But with a solid win, he would be able to govern on his own terms."

A day in the life of Mugabe's violent regime

* Four MDC activists were abducted in Chitungwiza yesterday by Zanu-PF supporters and killed in an attack with iron bars, clubs and guns. Amnesty International says that a total 12 people were tortured to death after being abducted by Zanu-PF militias around Zimbabwe yesterday.

* Emmanuel Chiroto, MDC mayor-elect of Harare, described how the body of his murdered wife, Abigai,was hard to identify because her head had been smashed by a blunt instrument. Mrs Chiroto was abducted on Monday with her son, four. The boy was later released unhurt.

* The MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been denied a new passport, his party said. His deputy, Tendai Biti, appeared in court yesterday, accused of subverting the government.

* The UN said a human rights senior official had been expelled without explanation after meeting aid workers and UN human rights workers.

Source: Zimbabwe Situation

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shakira in town

Sometimes newspapers and online sites forget about people, just people without the news. Like what would the world be like if we published all the photos of those we love, we cherish or hold in high esteem for any reasons, personal and every otherwise?

Bob has a comfortable head-start

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will have a comfortable head-start of at least 130 000 votes through early voting by security officials, sources claim.

They say this is the start of a plan to rig elections by stuffing ballot boxes in areas where the opposition has been violently removed. The Independent Foreign Service spoke to several sources in the armed forces yesterday about their special vote on Friday.

They say the spouses and children of members of the army, air force and police have been forced to cast ballots, and instructed to do so in favour of Mugabe. Armed forces members in Zimbabwe are usually asked to cast their votes ahead of the actual voting day.

For the June 27 run-off they were told to fill out the ballots in front of their station superiors - which the sources say flouts voting procedures.

Armed forces heads, with police chief Augustine Chihuri in the forefront, have publicly declared that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change will not be allowed to rule despite winning the March 29 election.

The MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of voting on March 29 with 48% of the votes, against Mugabe's 43%. The sources estimate that Mugabe could have between 130 000 and 150 000 votes before the June 27 poll.

It is the first step in a comprehensive plan to rig the elections, the sources claim. State-sponsored violence has forced thousands of Tsvangirai's supporters to flee their homes in rural and peri-urban constituencies.

They will not be able to vote elsewhere because of a requirement, being stringently enforced, that voters can cast their ballots only at polling stations where they are registered.

Source: Independent Foreign Service

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gold output down as Zim meltdown worsens

By: Oscar Nkala
Mining company RioZim says gold production at its mines declined from an expected 200 kg to a mere 91 kg in the third quarter of 2007 because of difficulties in obtaining foreign currency, a worsening power crisis and the absence of oxygen used in gold recovery processes.

Group chairperson Eric Kahari said at the company's annual general meeting, last week, that most of the problems the company faced in 2007 had been carried over into 2008.

"Principal among the problems was the unavailability of foreign currency. We were unable to access our own foreign currency or to receive the foreign currency due to us [from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe] for gold deliveries and this made for difficult relations with suppliers of inputs and spares.

"The situation became so serious that we were forced to scale back operations at Renco mine . . . As a result, gold production in the third quarter was only 91 kg instead of the level around 200 kg which we would aspire to in normal circumstances," Kahari says.

He added that the worsening power crisis had also hit its refineries at Renco and Empress Mines very hard.

While power supplies showed signs of improving, with direct supplies from Mozambique in the last months of 2007, Kahari said things had worsened again this year, with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) failing to submit its approved invoices to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa).

"Early in 2008, it became apparent that the approved invoices which we submitted to the RBZ were not resulting in payments to Zesa. The future of this arrangement is, therefore, in doubt, leaving us again vulnerable to Zesa's and, indeed, the region's power supply problems."

Although the company says it is yet to feel the effects of the loss of skilled workers, Kahari said it was clear that it would be negatively affected in the long term. He said the company was already paying some workers in foreign currency to retain critical skills.

Kahari said the company was exploring the possibility of setting up a thermal power station at its Sengwa coalfield, in Gokwe, in partnership with foreign investors.

He said that exploration was continuing in other parts of the company's lease area at Sengwa with the objective of locating a viable area of the known coal resource to meet local market demands.

The prospects of expanding the Murowa Diamond Mine, which has reportedly recovered from production difficulties experienced in 2007, had brightened following the completion of an investigative study, Kahari said.

Source: Mining Weekly

Zim threatens to seize mines

By: Oscar Nkala

The Zimbabwe government says is considering seizing unexploited mining claims so that they may be parceled out to locals in line with its indigenisation drive.

The last police crackdown on mining, which was focused on small-scale gold mines, took place between November 2006 and February 2007 and forced over 3 000 indigenous operators out of business.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi says the government has realised that many companies are holding on to unexploited claims for speculative purposes when the country has many potential indigenous entrepreneurs who can make good use of the claims.

"These people, whether individuals or companies, must develop their claims or lose them. Many foreign-owned companies are sitting on vast claims which they are using for speculative purposes.

"The prices of most base metals, as well as precious metals such as gold and platinum, which are abundant in this country, are going up on the international market and that creates a rich ground for speculation. Our resources must be put to good use," Midzi says.

He said any claims seized by government will be given to deserving locals. However, he also hints that they may be given to foreign investors, including Russians and Chinese.

"We have been engaging investors from these countries who are keen to invest in the mining sector. We are still considering their offers and proposals, but we are really keen to do business with them," Midzi says.

He says the crackdown will come when Parliament, which has officially been nonexistent since the March 29 elections, reconvenes to debate the draft Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.

The Bill, which was presented in Parliament in December 2007, deals with amendments to the general provisions of the acquisition and maintaining of exploration and mining titles.

It also provides for the granting of mining leases based on the life-of-mine principle and provides for different ways of acquiring mining titles for large and small-scale operations with a special provision for changing between the two, depending on the size of operations.

The Bill also seeks to retain special mining leases but says special grants will apply only to coal and hydrocarbons. The second component deals with indigenisation and economic empowerment.

President Robert Mugabe's government wants locals to hold a 51% stake in all current and future foreign-owned mining companies.

The indigenisation clause has caused concern across the world, with commentators suggesting that its implementation may ring the death knell for an industry already facing severe difficulties as Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis worsens.

Source: Mining Weekly

Monday, June 9, 2008

I hereby declare all NGOs closed: Goche

"It has come to my attention that a number of NGOs involved in humanitarian operations are breaching the terms and conditions of their registration as enshrined in the Private Voluntary Organizations Act [Chapter 17:05], as well as the provisions of the Code of Procedures for the Registration and operations of Non Governmental Organizations in Zimbabwe (General Notice 99 of 2007).

As the Regulatory Authority, before proceeding with the provision of Section (10), Subsection ( c ), of the Private Voluntary Act [Chapter 17:05], I hereby instruct all PVOs/NGOs to suspend all field operation until further notice.

Nicholas Goche. Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare

3000 brutalised in Zim: doctors

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe doctors have treated nearly 3,000 victims of political violence over nearly two months, a medical association said Sunday, three weeks before a tense presidential run-off.

"We have noticed with great concern the increase in politically motivated violence to our fellow Zimbabweans," Specialist Doctors in Zimbabwe said in a statement.

"Many victims, including children, are currently under our care with severe injuries sustained over the past few weeks."

The association includes the Surgical Society of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Anaesthetic Association, National Physicians of Zimbabwe and the Paediatric Association of Zimbabwe.

A total of 2,900 victims had been recorded throughout the country, it said, adding that some 200 among them had to be hospitalised. "Sadly, a number have succumbed to these injuries," the group said.

Violence has mounted ahead of the June 27 run-off, when opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will be seeking to defeat President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says around 60 of its supporters have been killed by pro-Mugabe militias.

Mugabe blames the opposition for the increase in violence, but the United Nations' chief representative in Zimbabwe has said the president's supporters are to blame for the bulk of it.

Zimbabwe's government has also suspended all aid work ahead of the vote, leading charities to warn of a possible humanitarian crisis in a nation with the world's highest inflation rate and major food shortages.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Zim detains three more South Africans

Three people thought to be South Africans have been arrested in Zimbabwe, the department of foreign affairs said on Wednesday.

The three were being held on charges of immigration violation, foreign affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said in a statement. "The South African embassy, in Harare, is in urgent engagement with the Zimbabwean authorities on this matter," he said.

"Consular assistance shall be rendered according to standing procedures." The arrests follow the jailing of South Africans Bernet Hasani, Resemate Chauke and Simon Maodi for six months each on Monday.

A court in Zimbabwe convicted them of possessing broadcast equipment without authorisation, in breach of the country's media laws, according to a state newspaper.

The three were found in possession of equipment bearing the logo of Britain's Sky News channel when they were pulled over at a roadblock last week. Sky intends appealing on their behalf.

Source: SAPA

War if Mugabe loses: CIO

HARARE - A senior official within the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has warned villagers in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland Central Province that there will be an outbreak of war if Zanu-PF is defeated on June 27.

Mernard Muzariri, the deputy director general of the fierce organisation, which is known for its loyalty to President Robert Mugabe, warned that Zanu-PF would launch another armed liberation struggle should Mugabe lose to the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai in the forthcoming run-off.

Tsvangirai is widely tipped to win the re-run of an election which he won on March 29 by a margin of 47, 9 percent of votes polled to Mugabe's 43, 2. An orgy of bloody violence by Zanu-PF militants, including in the security forces, in the aftermath of the election has been strongly condemned both in and out of Zimbabwe.

Muzariri was quoted in the government media as saying Mugabe and Zanu-PF were defending the land "which did not come on a silver platter". Muzariri was speaking at Nyamahobogo Primary School in Mt Darwin where 63 supporters of the MDC, including two recently elected councilors, promptly announced they had "defected to Zanu-PF after realizing the MDC was taking
us for a ride".

In the face of sustained violence by Zanu-PF, some opposition supporters have taken to crossing to the former ruling party as a strategy to safeguard their lives and property.

The CIO boss said Zimbabweans should therefore "vote wisely" to avoid another war, adding that the people of Mashonaland Central had fought in the forefront in the previous liberation struggles and should not join hands with "sell-out opposition parties".

"Mbuya Nehanda was resident in this province and she died while defending land. On December 22 1972, the first AK rifle was fired (in this province) heralding the beginning of the Second Chimurenga and that gun was fired in Centenary, which again is in Mashonaland Central."

Muzariri hails from Mashonaland Central Province. The warning by the CIO boss comes in the wake of similar warnings by a top police officer, Senior Assistant Commissioner Musarashana Godwin Mabunda that voting for the MDC was tantamount to voting for war.

Senior Zanu-PF officials have repeated similar messages at several rallies.This also comes at a time when politically motivated violence is escalating throughout the country. The violence is blamed on the security forces, the war veterans and Zanu PF militias.

Source: Zimbabwe Times

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Zim considers fresh crackdown on mines

BULAWAYO, 3 JUNE 2008 – The Zimbabwean government says it will soon unleash the police for a fresh crackdown on the mining industry with the objective of the seizing unexploited mining claims so that they may be forfeited to the State and eventually parceled out to locals in line with its new 100 per cent indigenization drive.

The last police crackdown on mining, which was focused on small-scale gold mines was took place between November 2006 and February 2007 and forced over 3000 indigenous small-scale miners out of business.

Mines and Mining Development minister Amos Midzi says the government has realized that many companies are holding onto unexploited claims for speculative purposes when the country has many potential indigenous entrepreneurs who can make good use of such claims.

“These people, whether individuals or companies, must develop their claims or lose them. Many foreign owned companies are sitting on vast claims which they are using for speculative purposes.

"The prices of most base metals, especially gold and platinum which are abundant in this country, are still going up on the international market and that creates a rich ground for speculation. Our resources must be put to good use,” Midzi says.

He said any claims seized by the government would be given out to deserving locals. However he also hinted that they may still be given to foreign investors, some of them Russians and Chinese.

“We have been engaging investors from these countries who are keen to invest in the mining sector. We are still considering their offers and proposals, but we are really keen to do business with them,” Midzi says.

Midzi says the crackdown will come when parliament, which has officially been non-existent since the March 29 elections, reconvenes to debate the draft Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.

The Bill, which was presented in parliament in December 2007, deals with amendments general provisions of the acquisition and maintaining exploration and mining titles.

It also provides for the granting of mining leases based on the life of mine principals and provides for different ways of acquiring mining titles for large and small-scale operations with a special provision for changing between the two depending on the size of operations.

The Bill also seeks to retain Special Mining Leases but says special grants would apply only to coal and hydro-carbons.

The second component deals with indigenization and economic empowerment and forms the basis of the government’s argument for a need to grant locals a 51 per cent ownership stake in all current and future foreign owned mining companies.

The indigenization clause has caused concerns across the world that its implementation may ring the death bells for an industry already on the brink of collapse as Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis worsens.

70 opposition supporters arrested

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Police arrested at least 70 opposition supporters accused of political violence, state-run media reported Monday. A newly elected opposition lawmaker also was detained, his lawyer said.

The suspects detained in the district of Buhera, 150 miles south of Harare,are accused of attacking and injuring ruling party supporters during a spateof violence last week that left several homes torched, according to thestate-run Herald newspaper.

The opposition denies any campaign of violence targeting the ruling ZANU-PF party but acknowledged reports that some of its supporters retaliated during the political unrest in Zimbabwe since disputed the elections March 29.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai faces longtime President Robert Mugabe in a runoff scheduled for June 27.

Rights groups and opposition supporters have cited widespread violence and intimidation in the run-up to the second-round vote, and there are widespread fears that Mugabe will try to steal the election.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says more than 50 supporters have been killed and thousands driven out of their homes, especially in rural areas.

U.S State Department spokesman Sean McCormack condemned the arrests. "It's troubling, it's disturbing, and it's part of a continuing pattern on the part of Zanu-PF to try to intimidate those who would like to speak up with views different from those held by the government," McCormack said.

He said it was incumbent on the international community to apply as much pressure and leverage as possible to ensure the runoff election is "executed in such a way that people can actually vote their conscience, that they canvote for the candidate of their choice."

Police detained MDC lawmaker Eric Matinenga when he went to visit the Buhera suspects Saturday, his lawyer said. Matinenga, himself an attorney,represented opposition leaders in a string of High Court cases.

The allegations against him were unclear, lawyer Innocent Chagonda said. At least six other opposition lawmakers also have been arrested since the March 29 elections. On Sunday, Arthur Mutambara - head of an MDC faction - was jailed in Harare for allegedly making false statements that endangered state security.

Mugabe was in Rome on Monday for a U.N. food summit. "We're very confident that he's going to win and that's why he could afford to go to Rome to represent Zimbabwe in this crucial meeting," Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said. "This is about more than politics;
it's about people's stomachs."

Source: AP

70 opposition supporters arrested

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Police arrested at least 70 opposition supporters
accused of political violence, state-run media reported Monday. A newly
elected opposition lawmaker also was detained, his lawyer said.

The suspects detained in the district of Buhera, 150 miles south of Harare,
are accused of attacking and injuring ruling party supporters during a spate
of violence last week that left several homes torched, according to the
state-run Herald newspaper.

The opposition denies any campaign of violence targeting the ruling ZANU-PF
party but acknowledged reports that some of its supporters retaliated during
the political unrest in Zimbabwe since disputed the elections March 29.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai faces longtime President Robert Mugabe
in a runoff scheduled for June 27.

Rights groups and opposition supporters have cited widespread violence and
intimidation in the run-up to the second-round vote, and there are
widespread fears that Mugabe will try to steal the election.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says more than 50 supporters
have been killed and thousands driven out of their homes, especially in
rural areas.

U.S State Department spokesman Sean McCormack condemned the arrests.

"It's troubling, it's disturbing, and it's part of a continuing pattern on
the part of Zanu-PF to try to intimidate those who would like to speak up
with views different from those held by the government," McCormack said.

He said it was incumbent on the international community to apply as much
pressure and leverage as possible to ensure the runoff election is "executed
in such a way that people can actually vote their conscience, that they can
vote for the candidate of their choice."

Police detained MDC lawmaker Eric Matinenga when he went to visit the Buhera
suspects Saturday, his lawyer said. Matinenga, himself an attorney,
represented opposition leaders in a string of High Court cases.

The allegations against him were unclear, lawyer Innocent Chagonda said.

At least six other opposition lawmakers also have been arrested since the
March 29 elections. On Sunday, Arthur Mutambara - head of an MDC faction -
was jailed in Harare for allegedly making false statements that endangered
state security.

Mugabe was in Rome on Monday for a U.N. food summit.

"We're very confident that he's going to win and that's why he could afford
to go to Rome to represent Zimbabwe in this crucial meeting," Deputy
Information Minister Bright Matonga said. "This is about more than politics;
it's about people's stomachs."

Source: AP

Monday, June 2, 2008

ZANU PF thugs shut down schools

BULAWAYO — About 10 schools in Matabeleland South were reportedly forced to shut down by Zanu PF militia who attacked teachers they blamed for contributing to President Robert Mugabe’s defeat during the 29 March elections.

The closure came as fresh reports surfaced of the militants extorting money and goods from villagers in the province. They were allegedly forcing villagers to pay "fines" for voting for the MDC.

The youths swept through West Nicholson, unleashing a wave of violence that left hundreds injured. In addition, they are said to be forcing the hunger-stricken villagers to share their food with them.

The Standard was told the youths were forcing villagers to cook food and deliver it to their bases — in cases reminiscent of scenes during the 1970s struggle for independence. "Teachers at the schools shut down are sleeping in the bush to escape violence and the night vigils," The Standard

The schools have been identified as Zhukwe, Sizeze, Stezi, Zezani Mission, Mapane, Khozi,
Wabayi, Nyandeni, Nkazhe and Gohole. The reports could not be independently verified as communication lines were down.

Raymond Majongwe, the PTUZ secretary-general said it was disturbing that schools had become targets of the Zanu PF militia resulting in dozens of them closing down. There was no comment from the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture on the latest developments.

Source: The Standard

Opposition rallies banned

Harare- Zimbabwean police prevented the opposition from staging two rallies in the resort towns of Hwange and Victoria Falls that were due to be addressed by its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the party said Sunday.

The rallies were supposed to have been held on Saturday, but police blocked opposition supporters from entering into the two stadiums were the rallies were due to be held.

"Our two rallies that were supposed to be held yesterday in Hwange and Victoria Falls were blocked by the police," Nelson Chamisa, chief spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told AFP.

"The police are literally trying to be difficult, but acting on the instructions of ZANU-PF," he added in reference to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are due to square up in a run-off presidential election at the end of the month. Tsvangirai won a first round on March 29 but fell just short of an overall
majority needed to topple Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980.

"They are trying to disenable us to reach out to the people," said Chamisa. "This is a deliberate attempt meant to ensure that there is a blackout on our programmes and so that the president (Tsvangirai) will not be visible on the ground to suit their propaganda and agenda."

Source: AFP

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bob not leaving, never, says Grace

Shamva, Zimbabwe, 29 May 2008 - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will never vacate his office for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai even if he loses a run-off election next month, his wife said Thursday.

Grace Mugabe told followers of her husband's Zanu-PF party that Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not be allowed to take power under any circumstances.

"Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai will never step foot inside State House," she said after meeting victims of political violence that has rocked Zimbabwe since the first round of voting on March 29.

"He will only get to hear about what it looks like inside State House from people who have been there. Even if Baba [Mugabe] loses, he will only leave State House to make way for someone from Zanu-PF."

The 84-year-old president, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, is to square off against Tsvangirai on June 27 after an inconclusive first round.

Tsvangirai fell just short of an outright majority on March 29 needed to avoid a run-off, although the MDC wrested control of Parliament from Zanu-PF in a legislative poll that took place at the same time.

Grace Mugabe, who is 40 years Mugabe's junior, accompanied her husband to the rural area of Shamva, north-east of Harare, for a tour of a homestead which was allegedly burned down by MDC followers.

"What we saw really touched us. We are not animals but humans. If you burn down someone's house you want to destroy their lives," the president said.

"We want to warn the MDC they should stop immediatelty this barbaric camapign of burning and destroying people's homes."

While Mugabe has laid the blame for post-election violence at the feet of the MDC, the United Nations and human rights groups say that Zanu-PF has been responsible for the lion's share.

The MDC says more than 50 of its supporters have been killed by pro-Mugabe militias since March 29, and tens of thousands displaced, as part of a campaign of intimidation designed to ensure victory for Mugabe on June

Source: AFP

Violence rages on in Zimbabwe

WASHINGTON, 28 MAY 2008 - Political violence continued to flare in various parts of Zimbabwe this week despite an assurance from a police spokesman in Harare that the situation was under control.

In the Buhera North constituency of Manicaland, sources reported violent clashes between supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai will face each other June 27 in a presidential runoff election, the March 29 first round having been deemed inconclusive by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The commission said Tsvangirai took 47.9% of ballots, short of a majority, while Mr. Mugabe was said to have claimed a 43.2% share.

Tsvangirai's MDC formation and the MDC grouping led by Arthur Mutambara between them claimed a majority in the lower house of parliament in a stinging setback for the ruling party. Violence against MDC supporters in rural areas quickly ensued.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper said six ZANU-PF supporters were in serious condition at Murambinda Hospital after clashing with suspected opposition members. The newspaper said 10 homes were burned along with other property.

Another Manicaland source said opposition organizing secretary for Makoni West constituency Aaron Gandanga was abducted from Masvosva Business Center late Wednesday by armed militia in two trucks. His whereabouts were undetermined.

Despite such incidents, police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka told party representatives meeting in Harare Wednesday that authorities had the situation under control.

Elsewhere, the Chiweshe area of Mazowe Central constituency, Mashonaland Central province, remained a no-go area following violent clashes this week which left at least two ZANU-PF supporters dead. Sources familiar with events in the area said soldiers and riot police had sealed off the district and were arresting all males.

Newly elected member of parliament for Mazowe Central constituency Shepherd Mushonga told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that soldiers and ZANU-PF youth militia on Thursday forced villagers to a ruling party political meeting, obliging schools in the area to close in the process.

Source: Voice of America

RBZ hikes gold support price 628%

By: Oscar Nkala

The Reserve Bank of Zim-babwe (RBZ) has raised the gold support price from Z$700-million a gram to at least Z$5,1-billion a gram, in response to an outcry by small- and large-scale miners alike.

A senior RBZ official, speaking on condition of anonymity, and miner representative organisa- tions have confirmed that the new price, which translates into a 628% increase, was agreed on at a meeting held between gold-miners and the central bank last week.

“The move is aimed at offering a price as close to [that on] inter-national markets as possible. The new price was calculated at prevailing markets rates, which, on the day the agreement was reached, stood at US$980/oz.

“It was also agreed that the percentage of the cost which the bank pays in local currency would no longer be fixed but would be deter- mined by the day’s interbank rates,” the RBZ official says.

He says that, in raising the price, the RBZ wants to stop gold- miners from trading the commodity on the parallel market, where prices are almost three times higher than those gazetted by the State.

Zimbabwe Miners’ Federa- tion CEO Wellington Takavarasha has confirmed the agreement on new prices.

“It was an amicable agreement guided by the harsh operational reality we face in the light of hyper-inflation. We also discussed how the bank can move in to snuff out the parallel gold dealing market, which, we are sure, is still strong enough to survive and prosper.

“In the light of this, we call on all those miners dealing on the parallel market to return to official channels,” Takavarasha tells Mining Weekly. He says small-scale gold-miners are also happy with the liberalised exchange rate, adding that it will allow miners to make profits and buy up-to-date equipment to enhance production.

No comment has been forthcoming from the Chamber of Mines, which was also part of the price review negotiations. The RBZ has identified the trading of gold on the parallel market and gold smuggling as some of the major factors behind a steep decrease in gold output delivered to its refinery.


Coal shortage stymies Zim power station reactivation

The three thermal power stations, which President Robert Mugabe’s government said had been reactivated before the March 29 elections, have once again “gone dead”.

A senior engineer at ZEDC tells Mining Weekly that, at its peak, last month, Harare thermal power station managed to produce only 30 MW, while the Bulawayo plant produced less than 20 MW.

“The thermal power stations have gone dead once again because the colliery has simply failed to supply the coal. ZEDC is also facing a serious cash crisis and cannot fund any project on its own. That is why the colliery has to be subsidised through a loan from NamPower, of Namibia, to increase coal production and keep supplies coming to the stations,” says the engineer.

At full capacity, the three thermal power stations produce up to 400 MW.

HCC MD Fred Moyo admits that there have been problems regard- ing coal supplies to many of its consumers, including power stations, farmers and mining operations.

“The problems we have been experiencing over the last few years, particularly breakdowns of machinery and others to do with our precarious financial position, have combined to cause a downturn in production. However, we are doing our best to ensure that we increase coal supplies to all our customers, locally and internationally,” Moyo tells Mining Weekly.

Zesa CEO Brian Rwafemoyo also confirms that the shortage of coal has forced a halt to the revamping of thermal power stations. He says the Harare thermal power plant is still operating, but at “highly irregular” intervals.

“Harare power station is operating but on an intermittent basis, which depends on the availability of coal. So the production is negligible and cannot be quantified in terms of its contribution to the national output.

“We are still engaged with HCC to find ways to improve coal supplies,” says Rwafemoyo. He states that the company’s cash-flow problems are expected to ease as soon as the $40-million deal with NamPower is implemented.

Through the deal, the Namibian power utility will help HCC to increase coal production and keep a steady supply to the Hwange power station, in return for increasing its allocation of 40 MW by an additional 30 MW to 35 MW.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Political crisis affects at least 11 000: UNICEF

HARARE - More than 11 000 children have been affected by political violence since Zimbabwe's disputed March 29 elections, the United Nations Children'sFund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.

Political violence broke out in many parts of Zimbabwe almost immediately it became clear that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement forDemocratic Change (MDC) party had defeated President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party in the March polls.

The MDC accuses Mugabe of unleashing ZANU PF militias and the army to beat and torture Zimbabweans into backing him in a second round presidential election on June 27 - a charge the government denies. The opposition party says at least 50 of its supporters have been killed in the violence and thousands more displaced.

UNICEF country representative Festo Kavishe, in a written response to questions from ZimOnline, yesterday said the affected children, some of whom no longer attended school after being displaced together with their families, were in urgent need of help.

Kavishe said: "We have received reliable information that over 11 000 children have been affected by the violence and are in need of assistance. The children have been affected in various ways.

"Some have been unable to attend school, others have been displaced together with their families, a few have been beaten together with their mothers and many have been affected by the psychological trauma of seeing their parents, guardians or their teachers being beaten and humiliated in front of them."

The UNICEF official said in the absence of appropriate and adequate psychological support the impact of the violence on children could have long-term negative effects well into adulthood.

The world children's agency was working with local partners to identify affected children and provide them with basic requirements. Kavishe said before the outbreak of political violence, UNICEF was providing support through NGOs to more than 180 000 orphans and other vulnerable children.

However, he added that this support was in jeopardy because political violence made it impossible to reach out to all the needy children. In addition to political violence, Zimbabwean children must also suffer the harsh effects of a severe food crisis gripping the country for the past eight years and an economic recession marked by the world's highestinflation rate that is close to a million percent according to some estimates.

Source: ZimOnline

Zimbabwe goes haywire...

28 May 2008

As reports of acts of lawlessness and politically-motivated violence continue to rock Zimbabwe, war veterans have reportedly ordered villagers in Matabeleland South to remove satellite television receivers from their homes.

According to "The Standard" newspaper of 25 May 2008, terrified villagers told the privately-owned weekly that the war veterans had set up bases throughout the province from which they were conducting all-night "political re-orientation" vigils.

The war veterans ordered the villagers to remove the receivers on 21 May because the broadcasts they were receiving were allegedly "misleading" them into voting against Zanu PF. Most villagers in the area can only watch and listen to South African and Botswana-based television and radio stations because of the poor transmission signals of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the sole state broadcaster in Zimbabwe.

MISA-Zimbabwe notes with great concern that these reports come hard on the heels of the torching of a truckload of 60,000 copies of "The Zimbabwean on Sunday" weekly newspaper on 24 May by unknown assailants. The driver of the truck, Christmas Ramabulana, a South African national, and distribution assistant Tapfumaneyi Kancheta were severely assaulted by their attackers.

Ramabulana and Kancheta were stopped 67 km from Zimbabwe's southern town of Masvingo and forced to drive along the Chivi-Mandamabwe road for 16 km before turning into Mandamabwe Road, where the truck and its contents were set alight. According to Wilf Mbanga, the publisher of "The Zimbabwean on Sunday" and its partner publication "The Zimbabwean", the two media workers were severely assaulted before being dumped in the bush.

A clear and consistent pattern of attacks on media and freedom of expression rights is emerging in Zimbabwe amid the post-election violence and at a time when preparations are on for the holding of the presidential election run-off on 27 June.

Source: Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

State propaganda calls for Mugabe-led unity govt

A Zimbabwean state newspaper called today for a transitional government of national unity under Robert Mugabe.The Herald, which is seen not just as a mouthpiece for President Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party but also as a barometer of its mood, said that political tensions in Zimbabwe made it impossible to hold a run-off vote.

In an editorial, the newspaper said that a transitional government should seek the help of the South African Development Community (SADC) and beyond to write a new constitution adopted after a national referendum, and to organise new elections.

“It stands to reason that, the transitional government of national unity, negotiated by the two leading contending parties, under the mediation of SADC, supported by the international community, should be led by the incumbent President,” it said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has already rejected suggestions of a second-round of voting because it claims that its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the March 29 presidential contest.The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to release any results from the presidential election, and has for some days been engaged in a recount of the parliamentary ballot, after initially announcing that the MDC had dislodged Zanu (PF) from power.

Mr Tsvangirai - who was today visiting Mozambique - has accused Mr Mugabe of trying to rig the election to cling on to power after 28 years.There are signs of growing regional impatience with Mr Mugabe from neighbours, who have until now refused to take a hard line with the former liberation hero despite an economic crisis that has brought unemployment and hunger to millions of Zimbabweans.

In an unprecedented action, southern African states refused to allow a Chinese ship carrying arms to landlocked Zimbabwe to unload.In his toughest comments yet, Jacob Zuma, leader of South Africa's ruling party leader and widely expected to be the country's next president, said: “It’s not acceptable. It’s not helping the Zimbabwean people who have gone out to ... elect the kind of party and presidential candidate they want, exercising their constitutional right.”

Source: Times Online

Angolan 'NINJAS' ready to come to Mugabe's aid

Harare - Crack Angolan troops are on standby to fly to the aid of President Robert Mugabe and his beleaguered Zanu-PF should the need arise, according to senior military sources who are becoming increasingly concerned about the turn of events.

They maintain that Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has assured Mugabe that battle-hardened troops who have seen action in the DRC conflict are ready to fly to the aid of Zanu-PF in the face of "an imperialist onslaught".What this indicates is that Mugabe and the ruling party can no longer rely on the unswerving loyalty of his armed forces, if he steals the March 29 election and provokes violent resistance.

While the top brass in the military generally support the system, the same cannot be said for many other officers. Among the ordinary ranks who, along with their families, have suffered in the desperate economic conditions, there is widespread disgruntlement.Significantly, much of the reported terror being conducted against suspected opposition supporters in the rural areas is being carried out by Zanu-PF youth militia rather than the army or police.

The existence of these gangs of young thugs and the manner in which they are conducting themselves has also contributed to the disquiet within the military and, perhaps to a lesser degree, among the police.Given rudimentary military training and immunity from prosecution, they have been turned loose in a number of areas.

In the rural Mashonaland constituency of Mutoko North, the local chairperson of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Themba Muronde was last week beaten to death by "Green Bombers" as the youth militia are known.According to family members who have sought refuge in Harare, Muronde was dragged from his home on Sunday and severely beaten.He was still unable to move when the "Bombers" returned 24 hours later.

They dragged him from his home and beat him, apparently to death, before taking his body with them.Frightened families from rural areas in which the Bombers are operating are continuing to drift into Harare.Meanwhile, the An Yue Jiang and its consignment of weapons destined for Zimbabwe continued to mystify as it appeared on Tuesday to do another about turn and to start the long haul back home to China.

On Tuesday the container ship was spotted off Cape Town and by mid-afternoon it had apparently abandoned its attempt to dock in Namibia or Angola, and turned around to head back around the South African coast.

Source: The Independent, SA

'Chinese-looking' tanks not bound for Zim

A TRUCKLOAD of “Chinese-looking” tanks spotted by a military buff outside Pietermaritzburg early yesterday caused a brief stir over whether the controversial arms consignment bound for Zimbabwe had slipped through the net.

“Tanks? Did you say tanks,” asked Defence Secretary January Masilela. “I know nothing about that.”The tanks, under a partially open tarpaulin, were seen being driven through Cato Ridge, outside Pietermaritzburg, at 7.40am.A former military officer suggested they may form part of the controversial consignment bound for Zimbabwe.

However, ship’s clearing agent Anton van Rensburg said: “They are going to the military in the Northern Cape for joint military exercises between Singapore and South Africa. They have been temporarily imported for the exercises which will take place next week and finish in May. They are Singaporean tanks . They are definitely not going to Zimbabwe. They have got nothing to do with Zimbabwe. They will be re-exported at the end of the month.”

Van Rensburg said members of the Singaporean armed forces also arrived in South Africa, as they are the only people permitted to drive the tanks. — Sapa

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A journey through beloved Zimbabwe..

To whom it may concern

I am not sure if this will be of interest, but I felt that I should put out there what I observed on a 5 hour drive through Zimbabwe today. I drove from Chimanimani near the Eastern border, through Mutare and then on to Harare.

The Chimanimani Arts Festival was on over the weekend and the whole 3 days passed peacefully and successfully by all accounts. On the 80 km stretch between Chimanimani and Wengezi, at one small village on the road there were a crowd of villagers, about 60 strong, who had been lined up in seated rows in a clearing under some trees.

They were being lectured to by a middle-aged man, in plain clothes, who appeared to be ranting at them. Church meeting? Village pungwe? Or ZANU PF re-education? I am not sure, but I know what it looked like.

Between Wengezi and Harare we also saw one ZANU PF pick up, with several males on board, and 4 other trucks with government plates with fair numbers of men aboard, 2 large army trucks filled with uniformed soldiers, 2 police pick ups with passengers and 4 new 4 x 4 vehicles with no number plates each with 3 to 4 male passengers.

There were around 8 police blocks altogther, mostly manned by police women and we were only stopped at one, at which the officer was very pleasant. Quite frankly the police did not seem to be interested in much but buses and trucks.

We travel this road every 4 to 6 weeks and the military traffic on the road was unusually high. But what struck us more than anything was the exceptionally high number of civilians waiting by the road trying to find transport, both in the rural areas and the towns.

In Rusape there were literally hundreds of people by the road side, all with large bundles.I have heard several first hand accounts now of beatings and torture, from people returning to work from the rural areas after the long
weekend. Apparently many of them opting for lifts in private transport after hearing accounts of thugs getting on public transport and berating or beating their, then captive, audience.

I have not personally experienced any of the horror being presently inflicted on the people of this country, but feel all those Zimbabweans with access to email and internet should be relating all they see and hear, to make as many people aware as possible of the tragedy being played out here.

The elections are being stolen again, whilst the country bleeds. Enough is really enough...

Thanks for the news

Best regards

Source: Zimbabwe Situation

Zuma urges Africa to unlock Zim 'logjam'

BERLIN (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling party leader Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday the delay to Zimbabwe's election results was not acceptable and called on African leaders to take action to solve the post-poll deadlock.

"It's not acceptable," Zuma told Reuters in an interview in Berlin. "It's not helping the Zimbabwean people who have gone out to... elect the kind of party and presidential candidate they want, exercising their constitutional right."

Zimbabwe held elections on March 29, but no result has been announced from the presidential ballot in which the opposition says it defeated veteran President Robert Mugabe. There has also been a delay to a partial recount of votes from the parallel parliamentary vote, in which the ruling party lost its majority.

"At this point in time...I imagine that the leaders in Africa should really move in to unlock this logjam," African National Congress leader Zuma said. "Concretely this means African countries should identify some people to go in there, probably talk to both parties, call them and ask them what the problem is, as well as the electoral commission," Zuma said.

Source: Reuters

Zim arms ship to dock in Namibia

A CHINESE ship carrying six containers of ammunition for Zimbabwe has applied to take on fuel at Walvis Bay this morning. The An Yue Jiang is carrying three million rounds of AK-47 ammunition,
1 500 rocket-propelled grenades and more than 3 000 mortar rounds and mortar ubes.

Attempts to get comment from Government yesterday were unsuccessful.Messages were left for Minister of Information, Joel Kaapanda, but he had not returned them by the time of going to press. Yesterday, the Legal Assistance Centre said it would approach the High Court to stop the ship from entering Namibia at Walvis Bay.

Interviewed on One Africa TV News last night, Kaapanda said he didn't know anything about the ship. He said if it docked at Walvis Bay, Government would consider "any appropriate measures", but did not elaborate.

The Minister said he wondered why such a big deal was being made about the ship. The vessel is carrying a lethal cargo. He noted that Zimbabwe was a landlocked country and often used Walvis

"I don't understand why this ship is so special," he said. The LAC called on all concerned citizens in Namibia to raise their voice against the An Yue Jiang docking in a Namibian harbour.

The ship left the South African port of Durban last week after dockworkers refused to unload the shipment and the Durban High Court barred its cargo from being transported to landlocked Zimbabwe.

The LAC's partners in South Africa - the Southern African Litigation Centre and the International Action Network on Small Arms - obtained a court order that the weapons could not be transported through South Africa. The vessel is now reported to be heading to either Walvis Bay or Luanda in Angola.

"Our concern is that Zimbabwe is a nation that has been in an escalating state of crisis," said Norman Tjombe, Director of the LAC. "To allow more weapons to enter Zimbabwe will only fuel more violence, with the serious consequence of more deaths and suffering."

The escalating violation and suppression of human rights in Zimbabwe was exacerbated by last month's disputed elections, of which the results have yet to be announced, he said.

"Namibia, and its institutions, such as the Namibia Ports Authority, has obligations under national and international law to foster international peace and the peaceful resolutions of disputes, and the responsibility and accountability in the regulation and control of the trade in conventional
arms," said Tjombe.

He said in terms of the Namibian Constitution, the Namibian State is obligated to promote international co-operation, peace and security and foster respect for international law and treaty obligations.

Namibia was also a signatory to several other international treaties, such as SADC Firearms Protocol, Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security, and the UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, which would all be violated if it allowed arms to enter Zimbabwe, he said.

"In the light of these obligations, it will be prudent for the Namibia Ports Authority not to allow the offloading of the deadly cargo of the An Yue Jiang vessel if and when the vessel calls on any port in Namibia," Tjombe said.

If the ship was allowed to offload and transport overland in Namibia, he said, the LAC would approach the courts. "We nonetheless trust that Namibia would adhere to its obligations under the Constitution and international law, without the need for us to approach the High Court of Namibia," Tjombe said.

Transport workers in Africa were also called on to help prevent the shipment from reaching Zimbabwe. The International Transport Workers Federation said its member trade unions and the International Trade Union Confederation must stop what it calls the "dangerous and destabilising shipment."

The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) has also appealed to the governments of SADC, especially Namibia, Angola and Mozambique, to prevent the arms cargo from reaching its destination.

Trade unionists in the South African transport industry also announced a boycott of the cargo. IANSA wants the weaponry detained until Zimbabwe can prove it will not be misused to suppress the Zimbabwean people.

"We remind all southern African countries, including neighbouring Namibia and Mozambique, that they have ratified the Southern African Development Community 2004 Firearms Protocol," said IANSA communications officer, Louise Rimmer.

South African and international law has been used to prevent the transportation of these arms to Zimbabwe across South Africa, so other SADC authorities must stop it too."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Louder demands for release of Zim election results

HARARE, Zimbabwe: International calls for Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe to release long-delayed results from a presidential vote mounted Wednesday, as ruling party militants continued to overrun white-owned farms and the opposition accused the government of waging a campaign of violence.

It has been 11 days since Zimbabweans voted for president but no official results have been released. The opposition claims that it won the March 29 vote outright and is asking a High Court judge to force publication of the tally. Hearings were to continue Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a state-controlled newspaper claimed that Mugabe's opponent was "begging" for the post of vice president — stepping up a push to depict his party as ready to concede.

Morgan Tsvangirai asked for the vice presidency in a government of national unity "after being told by his advisers that a possible runoff with President Mugabe for the top job was not in his best interests," The Herald newspaper reported.

The opposition has repeatedly dismissed claims that it is seeking a unity government as lies spread by a government propaganda campaign. On Tuesday, the secretary-general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai Biti, said it was "rubbish, rubbish, rubbish."

"We won this election," he said. The opposition maintains that it won the vote outright, with no need for a runoff. Australia's government appealed Wednesday for the quick release of results,
following on similar calls by the United Nations, Britain, the European Union and the United States.

"There is simply no excuse for them being withheld more than a week after the poll," Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in a statement. "There are mixed signals from the Zimbabwe government on the next steps but all appear to add up to a lack of respect for the will of the people," he said.

Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe for 28 years with an increasingly dictatorial regime, has virtually conceded that he did not win and already appears to be campaigning for an expected runoff against Tsvangirai by intimidating his foes and fanning racial tensions.

Zimbabwe's opposition has accused Mugabe of an orchestrated campaign of violence and of unleashing ruling party militants to drive dozens of white farmers off their land.

Biti said there had been "massive violence" since the elections in traditional ruling party strongholds that voted for the opposition. Ruling party militants, used previously to intimidate government opponents, were being rearmed, he said.

Government officials said there had been no outbreak of violence. Reports that people are being beaten up and their homes torched have circulated in the capital in recent days but could not be confirmed because of the danger of traveling to the areas.

Zimbabwe's commercial farmers union has said ruling party supporters have forced dozens of white farmers off their land. Such seizures started in 2000 as Mugabe's response to his first defeat at the polls — a loss in a referendum designed to entrench his presidential powers.

Several farmers reached by The Associated Press said the invasions of their land continued overnight Tuesday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were worried about recrimination.

Mugabe's party has called for a re-count and a further delay in the release of results. The opposition has urged the international community, and African leaders in particular, to try to persuade Mugabe to step down.

Jacob Zuma, the leader of South Africa's governing African National Congress party, repeated earlier entreaties that "results be announced as a matter of urgency," spokeswoman Jessie Duarte said Wednesday. She cautioned however, that he has made no specific appeal to the government.

Source: AFP

Monday, April 7, 2008

Makoni to form political party

Johannesburg - The 'third man' in Zimbabwean politics, former finance minister Simba Makoni, will soon announce he has formed a new party and give his conditional support to Morgan Tsvangirai's bid for president, his spokesman said Sunday.

Makoni, whom estimates show polling third in last weekend's presidential election behind opposition leader Tsvangirai and Mugabe, will announce the formation of his party after the long-awaited election results are released, Denford Magora said.

'There is agreement within the movement (Makoni campaign) we should formalize this thing but we are waiting for the final results,' Magora said.

Makoni threw open the presidential race in February when he announced, in a surprise move, he would run for president against his former mentor Mugabe. Although the results of the election have yet to be released eight days after voting all estimates, even from Makoni's own campaign, put him a distant third behind Tsvangirai and Mugabe.

'People around the country told us he was rather late coming to the party,' Magora admitted. In the likely event of a runoff vote between Mugabe and Tsvangirai the MDC leader would have Makoni's support on condition they reached agreement on 'concerns about the way the country is run,' Magora said.

Observers have said Makoni could try to gain a position of prime minister - a position that would have to be resurrected - in a government of national unity led by Tsvangirai as president.

Magora insisted Makoni's endorsement would be premised on policy issues. Throughout his campaign Makoni, who campaigned on a message of reform, claimed to have support within the upper echelons of Mugabe's Zanu-PF, but only one senior party member - former home affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa - openly endorsed him.

Zanu-PF was soundly beaten by the opposition in elections to the lower house of parliament - a win Zanu-PF is now contesting. Magora warned the new party would not act as a haven for corrupt members of Zanu-PF looking to 'flee (Mugabe's party) like rats from sinking ship.'

'You can rest assured you will hear of people who making approaches (to the new party) and are turned away,' he said.

Source: Monsters and Critics

White farmers targeted as Mugabe gears up for run-off

Zimbabwe's war veterans have launched fresh invasions of the country's few remaining white owned farms as Robert Mugabe appears to be falling back on the tested tactics of violence and raising racial tensions in preparation for a run-off vote in the presidential election.

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change warned that it might boycott a second round of elections because it would lead Zimbabweans "to the slaughter" of a wave of government sponsored violence.

It is instead taking legal action to force the state election commission to immediately release results from the presidential election, held nine days ago, which the MDC says will show that its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won outright with 50.3% of the vote, making a run-off election unnecessary.

The high court is expected to rule on the petition today. Writing in today's Guardian, Tsvangirai calls on Britain, the US and South Africa to come to the defence of democracy in Zimbabwe. He said Zanu-PF was withholding the election results and planning a violent second round campaign in an attempt to maintain its "untenable grip on power".

War veterans, many of whom did not actually fight in the liberation struggle against white rule, targeted farms in Masvingo, one of the provinces where a significant number of rural voters swung from Mugabe to the MDC in the presidential and parliamentary elections.

A camera crew from state television accompanied the war veterans, who gave one white family four hours to get out of their home, suggesting the invasions were officially sanctioned.

The police eventually moved in and some of the families were able to return. But Hendrik Olivier, director of the Commercial Farmer's Union, said the country's remaining 300 white farmers, out of the 4,200 a decade ago, feared they were again to be made political targets.

"It's the war veterans in Masvingo, about six farms there, where they've been going round giving notice to farmers to get off immediately. They've been taking over equipment and livestock and telling the farmers their time is up," he said.

"The police have been cooperating but the authorities stand back for these things to happen. Why was the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation there to film the threats to the farmer? You can see this thing is orchestrated."

Chanting war veterans, some of them beating drums, also threatened farmers in Centenary, where the owners were given hours to leave. There were also signs of pressure on the opposition in Manicaland, another province with a significant rural swing away from Mugabe.

Prosper Mutseyami, a newly elected opposition MP from Manicaland, said the police were
arresting MDC election agents there. "Nine of our agents were beaten up by the police and then arrested for behaviour likely to provoke a breach of the peace," he said.

In a sign that the government intends again to make white farmers an election issue, the justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, a Zanu-PF hardliner, claimed the MDC was bringing exiled farmers back in to Zimbabwe ready to reclaim their land.

"The MDC claim they have won and they are unleashing former white farmers on farms occupied by new farmers to reverse the land reform programme," he said."Their intention is to destabilise the
country into chaos over the land issue."

However, if the government is attempting to rekindle the land battles of the
past it may not have the same resonance with voters. "The problem is that the countryside has turned and it will be a tall order to turn sentiment around," said Wilfred Mhanda, head of the Zimbabwe Liberators' Platform, a group of war veterans who no longer support Mugabe.

"He is a desperate man and the money printing machine will be working overtime. Some will take part [in land invasions] but not out of conviction. They will be more or less like mercenaries.

There's a lot of misery in the countryside and people know who is to blame. Life is getting more desperate for them by the day."

Zim sits on razor edge

Robert Mugabe is flailing around like a wounded beast. As he lies panting on the ground, he is guarded by a core of generals, who refuse to contemplate surrender. No one can tell whether he is going to get to his feet again.

But it would be foolish to underestimate his powers of recuperation. He clearly believes he still has options, despite losing control of parliament for the first time in 28 years and almost certainly losing the presidential poll a week ago.

Yesterday he fought on two fronts simultaneously. On the political front, his Zanu-PF party played for time - demanding a recount to check "errors and miscalculations". If accepted, this will delay the presidential announcement still further.

But as opposition lawyers were petitioning the high court, demanding the election results, another front was engaged. Three white cattle ranchers were forced off their land on Saturday and a fourth was said to be holding out against 50 war veterans threatening to break down the

Mr Mugabe is returning to tried and tested techniques of intimidation. Not all white farmers left after the seizures eight years ago, and attacking the remainder who still work on parts of their former properties sends out two messages. First, Zimbabwe's problems are all down to the white man. Second, Zanu-PF can turn on the violence anytime it likes.

These tactics worked in the last elections in 2002, and Mr Mugabe must be toying with the idea of using them again. The longer a second round run-off is delayed, the more time Mr Mugabe has to "correct" the rural vote in his favour.

The farm seizures took place in provinces that switched to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last Sunday. Zanu-PF know exactly which villages voted against them. Without proper monitors (those from the Southern African Development Community ran off without the results being declared), villagers who turned against their traditional masters are now even more vulnerable than the white farmers to a knock on the door at night.

Mr Mugabe may have other ruses up his sleeve. If and when it announces the presidential results, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is expected to say neither candidate got more than 50%. Accordingly, the government will be given 21 days to mount a run-off. But Mr Mugabe might be able to use presidential decree to postpone a new vote for three months - especially if
there is violence.

The MDC will almost certainly have to contest the re-run and prove to its supporters that it will not be intimidated by violence as it was in 2002. If for no other reason than protecting defenceless villages in remote provinces from the retribution of a vengeful regime, this time the MDC must stand up and be counted.

Source: The Guardian, UK

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

CIO hounds SA obsevers out of Zim

THREE members of the Young Communist League’s Zimbabwean election observer team have returned early because of surveillance by Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Officers (CIO).

In a statement on Monday, the league said three members returned and one member, based in Bulawayo, had been interrogated by the CIO. “This shows the level of intimidation that is still prevalent in Zimbabwe,” the statement said.

However, the league said it was pleased the Zimbabwe government had allowed its delegation to enter and leave the country without any major interference.

The league said it had found that conditions for a free and fair election were not evident.

It also noted that people had voted in areas where they did not live and that the country’s electoral commission was run by senior leaders of Zanu-PF.

The league said there was a fear of rigging the presidential vote as electoral results displayed outside various polling stations showed that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had won the election in all four categories of polling.

“The remaining result for the presidential contest is reported to be in favour of Morgan Tswangirai,” it said. “There is fear of rigging the presidential leg, thus the delay of the announcement of the results.

“And there is the fear about the army and police staging a coup if the opposition takes the presidency.” The YCL therefore called for the immediate deployment of SADC and United
Nations peace keeping forces to avert any attempt towards “sinking” Zimbabwe
into violence.

“This should serve as a post-election process undertaken by all the parties involved in the elections and all the countries in the region,” the league said.

Source: Sapa

Rigging fears mount as Mugabe bottles poll results

HARARE - Zimbabwe's ruling party edged ahead of the main opposition on Tuesday with over half of parliamentary election results released and concerns grew that President Robert Mugabe was trying to rig the vote.

Riot police in armored carriers patrolled two of Harare's opposition strongholds overnight and residents were told to stay off the normally bustling streets.

Three days after the most important vote since independence, only 109 out of 210 parliamentary constituencies had been declared, showing the ruling ZANU-PF two seats ahead of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

No results have been announced for the presidential vote, in which Mugabe faces the most formidable political challenge of his 28 years in power -- from old rival Morgan Tsvangirai and ruling party defector Simba Makoni.

The opposition MDC says it won according to its own tally and has accused the veteran leader of delaying the issuing of the results in a bid to steal the election, which Zimbabweans hoped would ease daily hardships.

Zimbabweans are suffering the world's highest inflation of more than 100,000 percent, food and fuel shortages, and an HIV/AIDS epidemic that has contributed to a steep decline in life expectancy. Mugabe's foes blame him for the economic disaster.

"It is now clear that there is something fishy. The whole thing is suspicious and totally unacceptable," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

Mugabe has denied rigging the election and his government warned that any early victory claim would be regarded as an attempted coup.


An independent Zimbabwean election monitoring group forecast Tsvangirai, leader of the largest faction of the MDC, would win the most votes in the presidential poll but not by a big enough margin to avoid a second round.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said its projections gave him 49.4 percent. It predicted Mugabe would win 41.8 percent and Makoni would get 8.2 percent.

Tsvangirai was due to hold a news conference at 4:00 a.m. EDT, his first since voting ended.

Seven European countries and the United States called on Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission to quickly release the results. Slovenia, which holds the EU Presidency, also called for a speedy release of the results.

"This would end the current uncertainty and prevent the risk of rising tensions," the EU presidency said in a statement.

Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe said the slow pace was due to the complexity of holding presidential, parliamentary and local polls together for the first time.

Although the odds seemed stacked against Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, analysts believe his iron grip on the country and solid backing from the armed forces could enable him to ignore the results and declare victory.

Marwick Khumalo, head of an observer group from the Pan-African parliament, said the elections themselves were free, fair and credible overall and on Tuesday the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) observer team also endorsed the polls.

"The ACP Election observer mission was particularly impressed by the calm and peaceful atmosphere that prevailed before, during and immediately after polling day," the state-owned Herald newspaper quoted the ACP as saying.

Official results so far showed ZANU-PF with 53 seats, MDC with 51 and a breakaway MDC faction with five. Five of the new seats the MDC won were from traditional ZANU-PF strongholds.

The MDC said unofficial tallies showed Tsvangirai had 60 percent of the presidential vote, twice the total for Mugabe. Private polling organizations also put Tsvangirai ahead.

"In our view, as we stated before, we cannot see the national trend changing. This means the people have spoken, they've spoken against the dictatorship," MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said.

Source: Reuters