Sunday, December 21, 2008

African Churches Plead With AU to Intensify Pressure on Mugabe

WCC News

The AACC Assembly adopted a statement of concern on Thursday 11 December on the crisis in Zimbabwe, expressing displeasure that "President Mugabe is using power-sharing negotiations as a strategy for wasting time" while "acts of violence continue to be committed against those who do not support ZANU-PF", Mugabe's ruling party. The will of the Zimbabwe people as expressed in March 2008 elections has been thwarted, the Assembly said, and international leaders and churches "have failed to bring about an amicable solution".

Sharing the platform of the AACC's Maputo assembly with South African former President Thabo Mbeki on Friday 12 December, the World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia affirmed the world leader "in his very difficult task" of negotiating an end to the crisis in Zimbabwe. Mbeki has been entrusted with this responsibility by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Kobia noted that "Peacemaking requires patience and perseverance. It must be a shared responsibility, and churches are well situated to help."

In its statement, the AACC Assembly called on churches to confess their failure to address the issues adequately, asking Christians to join in prayer for Zimbabwe with a special emphasis on the Africa Day of Prayer and Fasting for Justice in Zimbabwe on 25 January 2009.

Churches were also requested to "take action for justice and peace in Zimbabwe through measures appropriate to their national contexts. Such activities might include advocacy visits to leaders of nations, regional structures (SADC, etc.) and the African Union; marches and demonstrations, particularly outside of Zimbabwean embassies and consulates; and collecting funds and material to provide humanitarian aid and address the cholera crisis."

The Assembly's most forceful recommendations were directed to the member states of the African Union, calling upon leaders of nations to "state clearly that the current Zimbabwean regime is illegitimate and to withdraw recognition of the Zimbabwean government" and to "intensify pressure on President Mugabe to relinquish control of the Zimbabwean government, involving international bodies (such as the International Criminal Court) where appropriate." The Assembly cautioned that "negotiation must never be allowed to replace legitimate democratic elections".

The statement also asked governments, international bodies and churches to "recognize people fleeing the economic, political and humanitarian crises in Zimbabwe as refugees, to offer them protection and hospitality and to treat them with respect and dignity" and to "support activists in Zimbabwe".

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Zimbabweans urged to eat wild fruits

Zimbabweans have been called upon to sample the large variety of wild fruits, tubers and okra-like vegetables, which become more abundant as the rainy season progresses.Zimbabweans have been called upon to sample the large variety of wild fruits, tubers and okra-like vegetables, which become more abundant as the rainy season progresses.The call was made by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology Development Professor Francis Gudyanga. Research has shown that Zimbabweans have now turned to wild foods, fruits and roots searched from the bush to see them through food challenges being faced in the country.Scientists say the wild foods, fruits and roots are critical since they help in the fight against diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cancer which are now a major public health challenge in the country.Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology Development Professor Francis Gudyanga says scientific research has revealed that wild fruits and berries which include nhunguru, matamba, maroro, masau, matohwe, nhengeni and tsambatsi among others contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.Professor Gudyanga added that most of these foods have Phytochemicals which offer frontline defenses against diseases such as cancer.Research has also proved that tubers, which include madhumbe, mufarinya, tsenza, tsangadzi and others have both medicinal and nutritional value.Scientists are looking into most of these crops since knowledge of crops that traditionally represent a significant component of the staple diet of rural communities has become important in view of chronic diseases ravaging Africa. Wild foods are a source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients which complement the staple crops eaten by many of the vulnerable people, including children and the elderly.
We wonder how much tsangadzi the Permanent Secretary is giving to himself and his family during these tough times for Zimbabweans?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time of essence in Zimbabwe cholera epidemic

The United Nations is reporting a surge in the number of people killed by the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. Latest figures from there find nearly a thousand people have died—a 25 percent jump in the space of just a few days. Matthew Cochrane works in the region for the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. He told WRS’s Jordan Davis that Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak is symptomatic of much bigger problems there.
Listen to audio interview via the link below:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Zimbabwe goes from bad to worse

Zimbabwe has been compared to a failed state and a leading South African Bishop has compared President Robert Mugabe to a “21st Century Hitler”. Any hopes that the power-sharing deal between Mugabe’s political party and the opposition would end the country’s decline seem well and truly dashed. The cholera epidemic, said to be due to the collapse in the country’s sanitation system is just the latest episode in the sad recent history of Zimbabwe. Marlon Zakeyo from the Zimbabwe Advocacy Office in Switzerland and Doctor Shiva from the Zimbabwe Health Access Trust came into the WRS studios on Friday’s Drive Time to discuss what expat Zimbabweans and friends of Zimbabwe can do to help.
Listen to the interview via this link

Security Council Poised to Discuss Zimbabwe

The 15-member UN Security Council was also due to hold a closed-door meeting on Zimbabwe as Rice, Bush and other leaders step up the pressure for Mugabe to step aside.
The United States blames Mugabe for Zimbabwe's political deadlock, economic meltdown and humanitarian crisis, including a deadly cholera outbreak.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington has been talking to Zimbabwe's powerful neighbor South Africa and other Security Council members about how to "start a process that will bring an end to the tragedy that is unfolding in Zimbabwe."
Countries with leverage should use it to press for change in Zimbabwe, McCormack said.
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, proposed Thursday that Zimbabwe's neighbors, particularly South Africa, close their borders with the country.
Zimbabwean authorities on Monday vowed to block any efforts by Britain and the United States to put the country on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council.
"You do not convene a UN Security Council meeting for a sovereign state without consulting that country," Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was quoted as saying by the state-owned Herald newspaper.
"We are not a threat. If they insist, we will work hard to block it with the assistance of our friends," he said.

Pressure increases on South Africa to deal with Robert Mugabe

Catherine Philp,
Diplomatic Correspondent

Pressure is mounting on South Africa to take responsibility for resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe before a United Nations Security Council meeting this week.
The US said that it was talking to South Africa and other members of the Security Council about how to “start a process that will bring an end to the tragedy that is unfolding in Zimbabwe”.
Lord Malloch-Brown, the British Minister for Africa, who returned from an emergency trip to Pretoria on Friday, said that he detected movement in the South African mood away from the belief that the power-sharing settlement could be implemented and towards a harder line against President Mugabe.
“There is increasingly a view that you are not going to get a deal while Robert Mugabe is President,” he said.
Security Council members will meet in New York today for two days of private talks, with piracy off the coast of Somalia top of the agenda.
The US and Britain, however, will push for discussions on possible measures against Zimbabwe, including the reconsideration of sanctions against the ruling inner circle.
These were rejected in July after Russia reversed its position at the last minute. South Africa also opposed them and China abstained.
The Government of Mr Mugabe made an attempt to force the power-sharing deal into law, issuing a draft constitutional amendment creating the office of prime minister for Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The Bill appeared to give Mr Mugabe the power to swear in Mr Tsvangirai without the need for parliamentary approval.
The Zimbabwean Justice Minister has threatened to hold fresh elections if Parliament does not pass the Bill promptly.
The MDC dismissed the move, saying that a settlement remained deadlocked over the refusal of Mr Mugabe to relinquish control of key ministries.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Women of Zimbabwe take to the streets to call for international intervention

By Alex Bell
09 December 2008

As questioned are raised about the growing calls for Robert Mugabe to be removed from power and whether the calls are yet more shining rhetoric in a time of desperation, members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) took to the streets of Harare on Tuesday, demanding immediate international intervention.
An estimated 400 members marched to the offices of the United Nations Development Programme in Harare, to hand over a petition demanding that the UN step in immediately to resolve Zimbabwe’s combined crises. The petition also declared the ZANU PF government incapable of dealing with the crises and highlighted the urgent need for the UN to protect the Zimbabwean people.
The protest also marked the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence’ and came a day before International Human Rights Day on Wednesday, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights released on 10 December 1948.
WOZA leader Jenni Williams described the aim of the march, saying the group is focusing “on the right to life, when cholera is killing so many of us, and our right to food and a new government.” Williams said there were initial concerns upon arriving at the UN offices after the doors were closed at the sight of the protesters, but she explained that two UN officials eventually came out to receive the petition. The group then dispersed, before police arrived undoubtedly planning to use force to disperse the peaceful group.
The protest march retraced the steps of the group’s last mass action earlier this year, that saw several members facing police brutality and arrest. Williams and her colleague, WOZA leader Magodonga Mahlangu, were detained for six weeks following their arrest, and Williams said the group was fortunate not to have a repeat police crackdown during Tuesday’s march.
“We out maneuvered them because they didn’t know where our protest started,” Williams said. “We took them by surprise so today (Tuesday) was our day.”
Meanwhile the planned peaceful demonstration led by pressure group the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), that was expected to take place on Wednesday, has been moved to next week. The mass action is set to build on the success of three previous protests which saw over 1,000 NCA members take to the streets in support of the organisation’s three-point plan for achieving democracy.
Last week’s action saw the arrest of 15 members when riot police clashed with demonstrators, but the NCA has said it will not be deterred by the police’s vicious clamp down in its demonstrations. NCA spokesman Madock Chivasa told Newsreel on Tuesday that Wednesday’s action has been moved to allow more time to prepare for the action to take place countrywide.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Statement on International Human Rights Day Commemorations


"Everyone has a right to peaceful coexistence, the basic educational freedoms, the alleviation of suffering, and the opportunity to lead a productive life..." Jimmy Carter

Statement on International Human Rights Day Commemorations

The Zimbabwe National Students Union joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Human Rights Day. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 in Paris. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. As we honor this day, we note with great concern issues of gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe and the world over. ZINASU calls upon all member states to respect and protect human rights in their respective countries without any discrimination on the basis of race, tribe, nationality, gender amongst all other forms of discrimination.
The 2008 commemorations come against a background of sad reminiscences of gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe such as the violence prior to the June 27 Presidential runoff in Zimbabwe, the arrests and persecution of students protesting at Parliament over delayments in opening of tertiary institutions. ZINASU condemns these and other acts of human rights violations in the country especially the recent abduction of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Jestina Mukoko who was abducted from her home on the 3rd of December 2008 by 15 armed men who identified themselves as policemen. The Union demands the immediate release of these human rights defender.
In 2008, at least 350 human rights violations were recorded within the student population and over 15 students were suspended from tertiary institutions. Five members of the ZINASU National Executive Council are on suspension for frivolous charges by various institutions of learning. Students fought as their right to education went down the drain. The state responded in usual heavy handedness, beating and arresting students wantonly. It is estimated that at least 20 000 students have dropped from tertiary institutions as a result of the state of the economic situation. ZINASU has called on the government to declare 2008 a non- academic year.
As we commemorate this day, it is also imperative to document the outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe as a serious human rights violation by the system which has failed dismally to run the health sector leading to the loss of unnecessary lives. Over 600 people have died since the outbreak of the disease in Zimbabwe. The time has come for all political players in the country to come with meaningful solutions that would bring an end to the political impasse haunting the nation. Finally we dedicate this day to all the students who have either been arrested, tortured, assaulted, killed or maimed for fighting and defending academic freedoms in Zimbabwe, We salute you for the tireless efforts,
Victory is Certain.

Defending Academic Freedoms in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

S.Africa against any move to send troops to Zimbabwe

PRETORIA (Reuters)

South Africa will oppose any move to send troops to Zimbabwe as called for by some African leaders, a senior government official said on Tuesday.
Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director General of South Africa's Department of Foreign Affairs, told reporters that South Africa needed to increase humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe where a cholera epidemic has killed nearly 600 people.
(Reporting by Paul Simao)

African Union rejects tougher Zimbabwe action

By Nelson Banya
Dec 9 (Reuters)

The African Union rejected tougher steps against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday after demands from Western leaders and some African statesmen that he quit over the growing humanitarian crisis.The death toll neared 600 from a cholera epidemic which Mugabe's government accuses Western powers of exploiting to try to force his departure. The World Health Organisation said cholera could affect as many as 60,000 in a worst case scenario.The African Union made clear it did not back calls for much tougher action."Only dialogue between the Zimbabwean parties, supported by the AU and other regional actors, can restore peace and stability to that country," said Salva Rweyemamu, spokesman for AU chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.Rweyemamu said sending peacekeeping troops or removing Mugabe by force, as proposed by prominent figures including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nobel peace laureate and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, were not options."We have a serious humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. We have cholera. Do they think that we can eradicate cholera with guns?".

Monday, December 8, 2008

New Attacks on Human Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe

Dear Friends,

Following the alert we received from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights concerning the abduction of Zimbabwe Peace Project Director, Jestina Mukoko in the early hours of Wednesday, December 3, our office together with the World YWCA and the World Student Christian Federation have sent an urgent communication to the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council here in Geneva to alert them of the abduction and to use their mandates to ensure potection for Ms Mukoko. We also highlighted the raids on the Bulawayo offices of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
We will continue to work with the UN human rights system to ensure the protection and well-being of all missing human rights defenders in Zimbabwe. Please see full letter below.

Urgent Information Note: New Attacks on Human Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe

3 December 2008

To: The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

The Zimbabwe Desk Officer (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)

Your Excellencies,

We wish to bring to your attention a new wave of heavy clampdown on human rights defenders and organisations in Zimbabwe. This morning we received the information below from our local partners including the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and women’s groups.

Zimbabwe Peace Project Director, Jestina Mukoko was abducted today (December 3, 2008) at 5am (Zimbabwe time). Jestina was bundled into an unmarked Mazda Familia by suspected Central Intelligence Organisation agents and her whereabouts are currently unknown. According to her son, who spoke to ZLHR, a group of at least 20 people surrounded their house early this morning and four armed men broke in and dragged Jestina out. It is unclear whether Jestina's abduction is specifically targeting the Zimbabwe People’s Party (ZPP) or is part of a wider clampdown on civil society activists ahead of the planned Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) strike action today. Lawyers from ZLHR are going from police station to police station in a bid to locate where she is being held.

Meanwhile, police have raided the offices of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in the southern city of Bulawayo. Police have accused ZLHR of supporting calls by the national labour body for a nationwide strike to protest against the deepening humanitarian crisis in the country. No arrests have been made, but this latest call reinforces fears that a widespread clampdown on human rights groups by Zimbabwe's de facto government is now in full force.

As human rights advocacy and faith based organisations with mandates for women and young people, we wish to bring to your attention the abduction of Jestina Mukoko. We are deeply concerned for her safety and well-being. We have maintained positive communication with Human Rights Desk officer for Zimbabwe at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

We therefore now appeal to you to use your mandates and good offices to respond to this specific case and ensure protection and rule of law in Jestina Mukoko’s case in these crucial first 24 hours in accordance with the international human rights law, including CEDAW that Zimbabwe has ratified.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

Zimbabwe Advocacy Office in Geneva

World YWCA

World Student Christian Federation (WSCF)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mugabe hints at early polls

NATION Correspondent

In Summary
President Mugabe urges supporters to prepare for early elections.
MDC wants any election sponsored and supervised by the international community.
Zimbabwe President Mugabe has urged his supporters to prepare for early elections.

His latest move is yet another sign that the faltering power sharing agreement between his ruling Zanu PF and the opposition is headed for collapse.
Mr Mugabe whose 28 year-old hold on power was this week shaken by a revolt by disgruntled soldiers, issued an umpteenth ultimatum to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to join a unity government dominated by Zanu PF or he would go it alone.
As Zimbabwe's economic meltdown intensifies and a cholera epidemic that has so far claimed the lives of over 500 people spreads, Zanu PF and the MDC continue to haggle over the distribution of cabinet posts in the unity government.
"We agreed to give them 13 ministries while we share the Ministry of Home Affairs but if the arrangement fails to work in the next one-and-a half to two years, then we would go for elections," Mr Mugabe told supporters.
"The MDC should say no if they do not want to be part of the inclusive government."
While, it is not the first time that the 84 year-old president has threatened to go it alone, the hint of an early election signaled a major climb down.
The ruling party has insisted that Mr Mugabe won a free and fair election on June 27 and must see out his five-year term.
The main MDC whose leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of the March elections but was forced to pull out of the run off poll by state sponsored violence has demanded fresh elections if the September 15 power sharing agreement does not work.
The opposition has won support from neighbouring Botswana, which has openly called for fresh elections to resolve the political impasse in Zimbabwe.
Zanu PF will hold its annual conference beginning Wednesday and the power sharing agreement with the MDC will be one of the major items under discussion.
Analysts say although fresh elections will be ideal to address Mr Mugabe's problem of illegitimacy, the impoverished country might not be able to afford another poll.
The MDC wants any election sponsored and supervised by the international community.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Running battles between soldiers and police in Harare

By Violet Gonda
1 December 2008
Clashes broke out between soldiers and riot police in Harare on Monday after a group of about 200 uniformed soldiers ran amok. Eyewitnesses say soldiers went berserk after they couldn’t withdraw their monthly salaries from the banks.
The Deputy Mayor of Harare, Emmanuel Chiroto, said he saw the soldiers singing war songs and throwing stones and other missiles on to moving cars. They also looted clothes from shops in Africa Unity Square. Watching the mayhem from his office at Town House he said at first the police were forced to flee, but later returned with anti riot reinforcement.
Associated Press journalist Angus Shaw said he had to leave the city centre by late afternoon, as the situation became too dangerous. He said at Fourth Street Road Port bus station the uniformed soldiers went around grabbing money from forex dealers. Shaw witnessed at least two shops coming under attack and many other shop owners were forced to erect barriers to protect their properties.
Such is the level of discontent that unemployed people were seen singing in solidarity with the rampaging soldiers. The journalist said there was popular support from mostly desperate people, who have also not been able to withdraw money for days. He said some of the people were standing on buses and cheering the soldiers on.
Shaw said: “I saw the police coming in. I saw riot police fighting unarmed soldiers with riot sticks. The trucks of riot police were coming in and the Fourth Street was totally blocked with people whistling and cheering on the soldiers and holding up open hand salutes of the MDC.”
The journalist said there is a seething discontent among the rank and file of the armed forces ‘and although we can’t talk about the end game this is the first time that we have seen this kind of discontent.’
Another eyewitness called Moses said he saw soldiers looting shops and raiding some banks. “The message we got from the military was that ‘we are together please follow us, don’t attack us because we’ve got a cause.’ So people were not so sure if they were being truthful and later on people joined the military and sang in solidarity.”

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

ZESN Wins French Human Rights Award

1 December 2008)-
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a network of30 non-governmental organisations was on Friday 28 November 2008 conferred the 2008 French Republic’s Human Rights Award in recognition of the organisation’s work in 2008. The French award distinguishes field work and projects connected with the practical defence and promotion of human rights, in the furtherance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
His Excellency Mr Laurent Contini Ambassador of France to Zimbabwe presented the award to ZESN. Mr Contini commended and gave special remarks to the work that ZESN accomplished in 2008. “……this is the achievement of the civil society in Zimbabwe which must be saluted as a whole in promoting the defense of basic freedoms, freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of press….”, said Mr Contini. He also informed the gathering that in 2008, the five main awards have been attributed to NGOs from Liban, Maroc, Ouzbekista, Somalia and Tunisia. ZESN was among the “special distinctions” rewards which also went to other NGOs from Mexico, Peru and Togo.
Mr Contini also paid particular tribute to the Director of ZESN, Mrs Rindai Chifunde- Vava for the sterling work done in 2008.
In her acceptance speech, Mrs Vava, thanked the French Embassy for the recognition. She reminded colleagues from CSOs that were present as well as members of the Diplomatic Corps that the award was for the brave ZESN members and observers. She also gave particular accolade to all ZESN observers who were harassed, tortured, assaulted and the ZESN long time serving observer Elliot Machipisa who was brutally murdered just before the run-off for observing the 29 March harmonized elections.
She also alluded to the political situation currently distressing the country emphasizing on the urgent need for a solution on the political impasse. “ZESN believes in democratically elected leaders, but the current political environment is not conducive for the holding of free and fair elections”, she reiterated. She added that ZESN currently is in the process of advocating for electoral reforms before any election takes place in Zimbabwe. “Zimbabwe needs an independent electoral management body, a level electoral playing field, freedoms of association, expression and movement to be recognized and enjoyed by all citizens”, said Mrs Vava.
In her concluding remarks, she said, the award was going to give ZESN more strength and encouragement to endeavor in promoting a Zimbabwe where democratic rights and fundamental freedoms are upheld and enjoyed.

Open Letter to Thabo Mbeki

December 1 2008
Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki:
Facilitator in the Zimbabwe Crisis Talks
Former President of the Republic of South Africa
Pretoria, South Africa

Your Excellency,
I am writing this letter because I am convinced your efforts and mediation in the Zimbabwe crisis have failed and your services as mediator have outlived their usefulness and purpose. I write this letter, which I believe, any ordinary Zimbabwean would have written to you.
From the time you were relieved of your duties as president of the republic of South Africa, you have been writing a lot. First it was to the president of your party, the African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma and then to the president of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai. Your letter to MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai specifically prompted this response.
Your Excellency I took the following quotes from your letter to MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai as appearing in The Sunday Mail of 30 November 2008.
“…no longer treat themselves as opposition parties or protest movements...”
“…Such manner of proceeding might earn you prominent media headlines. However, I assure you that it will do nothing to solve the problems of Zimbabwe.”
The harsh exchange of words, a shift from your previous stance of quiet diplomacy, has made me come to the conclusion that you can no longer effectively play the role of mediator between the feuding parties ZANU-PF and the MDC. Recent remarks by MDC Vice President, Honorable Thokozani Khupe and the letter written to you by the chief negotiator and Secretary General of the MDC, Tendai Biti typify the relationship that exists between you and the MDC. It is under this background that I am calling on you to, in the same manner you stepped down from presidency of the Republic of South Africa, recuse yourself gracefully. I personally admire the glorious exit you had from the office of the president of your republic after you were recalled by your party.
In the same manner, I expect you to have a dignified exit because I feel that you are no longer fit for purpose as you have become part of the crisis in Zimbabwe instead of providing good counsel on how to address the monumental crisis in my country.
Let me take this opportunity to remind you of some important political developments we can never pretend to be oblivious of, not because you are not aware, but to emphasize the importance of the particular events to us the people of Zimbabwe. It is now more than a dozen and half months from the time you were appointed mediator at a summit in Tanzania and exactly nine months after the last credible election which Mugabe lost.
On 29 March 2008 Zimbabweans went to the poll to choose a new leadership for their country. 1,195,562 votes were cast in favour of Morgan Richard Tsvangirai of the MDC and 1,079,730 votes were cast in favour of Robert Gabriel Mugabe of ZANU -PF. Simba Hebert Stanley Makoni and Langton Toungana shared the remainder of the votes. The results of the parliamentary and other elections were not as disputable as the presidential election.
Not withstanding the delay in the announcement of the results, and other practices inconsistent with holding of democratic elections, local, regional and international observers concluded the poll to have been fairly credible and reflecting the will of the people of Zimbabwe. Jose Marcos Barrica, the head of the Southern African Development Community observer mission, described the election as "a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe."
Controversial as the result of the presidential election was expected, the poll did not produce an outright winner and there was need for a second round of polls which was scheduled for June 27 2008 by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party unleashed a trail of violence characterised by threats, abductions, torture, murder targeted at the supporters of the MDC. Morgan Tsvangirai was forced to withdraw from the “violent sham” to save lives since the environment was no longer conducive for the holding of free and fair elections. ZEC and Robert Mugabe proceeded with the election despite having been discouraged to do so by leaders of the region (accept yourself), the continent and the United Nations.
What boggles the mind is the manner you responded to the MDC’s view of your role. While you were quick to attack the MDC leader in manner akin to ZANU PF’s political cousins, you have never publicly condemned Mugabe’s murderous and ruinous policies in Zimbabwe.
These two events form the basis of your continued mediation, post election for the establishment of a unity government based on the last credible election of March 29 which had failed to produce a result that would have possibly solved the political crisis then, an issue you seem to have relegated to the periphery of the whole mediation process. The manner in which you wrote to Morgan Tsvangirai show a tendency towards an attitude opposite to that you have for Robert Mugabe who you marveled as one of your greatest leaders in your letter to ANC president Jacob Zuma.
The alteration of the Global Political Agreement which you again relegated to the periphery saves as a clear testimony that there is insincerity which will forever make it difficult for the MDC to go into a government of national unity in which they do not have guarantees and "power". In his own words MDC Spokesperson, Honorable Nelson Chamisa said “It's difficult to be hopeful when you are dealing with an insincere, deceitful and dishonest party like ZANU-PF” I strongly believe these are among the facilitator must be solving rather that force march negotiators into a hotel to agree on a constitutional amendment. We have seen documents being authored,thempred with and thrown into the dustbins while the masses are scrambling for wild fruits with wild aniumals.Your insistence that a unity government be established at all costs leaves more questions than answers.
Things are not well and people have been placing their hopes on these talks which you seem to be taking lightly and are far from delivering the change we can believe in. Your Excellency I strongly believe your continued mediation in the Zimbabwean crisis is thrusting yourself on people who no longer want you as mediator, which is unlike what you did when the issue of your presidency, charity begins at home but should not end there.
I want to put to you that Zimbabweans are no lesser human beings than South Africans or any other people. If the people of South Africa through the ANC asked you to leave office why should you insist to remain mediating in the Zimbabwe crisis? If you are not serving Mugabe’s interest, whose interests are you advancing by refusing to relinquish that role?
Your Excellency let me also highlight the humanitarian crisis that led to the refusal to cooperate by the government of Zimbabwe with the “Elders” when they wanted to asses the crisis. I strongly believe you either failed to convince Mugabe to accept the elders, or deliberately blocked fearing they wanted to usurp the role of the mediator. The current Cholera outbreak is only symptom of an even graver situation and a total collapse of the running of the country due to mismanagement and greed.People are desperate for food and unfortunately we failed to prepare for this season,with disasterous consequencies,which could not have been avoidable even with the support your country had pledged, under the current corrupt government of Robert Mugabe.
Let me also inform you that all the universities,some polytechnics and primary and secondary schools have closed signaling the total collapse of the education sector,which will result in a generational intellectual deprivement of intellect in the demographic prognosis,if not adressed. Literally everything has stopped working. There is no fuel in the country, no electricity, no water, no currency, no president and the list goes on.
I hope you will soon realize the importance of this matter and recuse yourself from the role of facilitator and pave way for a neutral facilitator before we decide to free ourselves through means which may not be confined to conventional means, since a conventional fight is proving difficult under your mediation.

Soldiers go on rampage again, loot shops

HARARE – Dozens of soldiers in uniform, frustrated after they failed to withdraw cash, ran amok at a bank in central Harare on Monday in the latest incident of its nature over the past four days.
Riot police rushed to the scene and used tear gas to disperse the 40 or so soldiers who went on the rampage, breaking shop windows and looting. Civilians in the area joined in the rampage and looting before the authorities finally restored order.
The Zimbabwe Times broke the first story of uniformed soldiers running amok in Harare on Thursday after they failed to withdraw desperately needed cash from a bank on Samora Machel Avenue.
Bank tellers had been unable to pay them the full amounts they wanted to withdraw, after they had spent a full day in the queue. These long queues outside banks have become a common feature because of the serious shortage of currency, as well as the restrictive limit on cash withdrawals. An eye witness told the Zimbabwe Times on the phone as the drama unfolded on Thursday that the group had run amok and vented their anger on the staff of Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group along the capital’s Samora Machel Avenue, after the bank ran out of cash by the end of the day.
On Thursday the soldiers assaulted bank staff and broke windows before they poured onto the streets, blocking traffic and intimidating passersby. The sudden arrival of the military police brought the chaos to an end. But the rampaging troops fled down Julius Nyerere Way and converged at the Ximex Mall behind the capital city’s main post office, where they disrupted business and caused people to flee.
The following day on Friday, Harare’s streets were the site of total chaos as angry uniformed soldiers vented their frustration and anger on traders, forex dealers and passersby, on the city streets.
Forex traders were the initial targets of the soldiers but there was a melee when they turned on members of the public.
On Monday the soldiers vented their frustration again and went on the rampage in downtown Harare again after they waited in vain all day in a long queue at a bank.
The BBC quoted a journalist as saying the riot police stood by and smiled as the soldiers ran amok. The Associated Press news agency reported meanwhile that gunfire had broken out in central Harare and that hundreds of people had gathered and cheered.
AP reported that some people threw stones as the police tackled the unarmed troops, who had attacked money-changers.
In the initial incident on Thursday a group of soldiers estimated between 60 to 70 men had queued to make cash withdrawals until closing time on Thursday afternoon. Banks in Harare are now required to serve all customers already in the banking hall at closing time. But roughly an hour after the doors were shut, bank officials announced there was no more money to pay out, thus sparking the outcry that is developing into the confrontation between the military and the state that many have feared in Zimbabwe’s deteriorating political and economic crises.
On Saturday the Government-controlled Herald newspaper reported that six soldiers had been arrested on allegations of beating up people, including riot police at Fourth Street Bus Terminus in Harare on Thursday night.
The six were reported to have been part of a group of about 15 soldiers that went on the rampage, destroying goods and beating up people, including vendors, at the bus terminus.
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrests.
“About six soldiers have been arrested for assault and are still in police custody while investigations are in progress,” he said.
Bvudzijena told The Herald that the police would not hesitate to arrest anyone found on the wrong side of the law.
“What they are doing is illegal and they will be arrested. If anyone commits a crime, he will be arrested,” he said.
The Herald reported, however, that riot police deployed to restore order had been beaten up by the soldiers.

Monday, December 1, 2008

UN Chief Asks Robert Mugabe to Share Power in Secret Meeting

By Bill Varner
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon held secret talks with President Robert Mugabe today, asking the Zimbabwean leader to conclude a power-sharing deal with opposition parties.
The two men met “one-to-one” for 30 minutes today on the sidelines of a UN development meeting in Doha, Qatar.
“I met with him about the deteriorating humanitarian situation and we discussed power sharing,” Ban said in an interview with Bloomberg News in Doha. “I agreed with him not to talk publicly about what was said. It was one-on-one.”
Zimbabwe has been without a legal government since the opposition Movement for Democratic Change won control of the nation’s parliament in elections on March 29. They haven’t agreed on a power-sharing deal and the political vacuum has created an economic and humanitarian crisis.
Mugabe last week barred former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Graca Machel, the wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, from visiting Zimbabwe to assess the humanitarian situation.
Ban met Mugabe after consulting Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete, chairman of the African Union, who encouraged the encounter, according to Augustine Mahiga, Tanzania’s ambassador to the UN.
Mahiga said that after the African Union and 15-nation Southern African Development Community failed to persuade Mugabe to agree on a deal with the MDC, Ban’s intervention might be the “last opportunity” for a peaceful settlement.
‘Brutally Honest’
“He is the only voice that Mugabe hasn’t heard and he has the moral authority of being secretary general,” Mahiga said.
“Someone has to sit down with him and be brutally honest,” said Tiseke Kasambala of New York-based Human Rights Watch in an interview from Johannesburg. “His country is in a state of collapse.”
Mugabe told the conference that Zimbabwe “has been and continues to be a victim of unilateral and illegal coercive economic measures aimed at undermining the government through regime change.”
The U.S., which doesn’t consider Mugabe a legitimate head of state, said it was a mistake for the UN to allow him to speak.
“It’s extremely ironic and unacceptable for Mugabe to be going to the UN Conference on Financing Development in Doha while you had the implosion of his economy and the crisis of his population taking place,” Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer said in a statement.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner in Doha, Qatar at

Friday, November 28, 2008

Zimbabwe parties agree on power-sharing bill: MDC

By Cris Chinaka
Friday, November 28, 2008
HARARE (Reuters)
Zimbabwe's political rivals have agreed on a draft constitutional amendment to allow them to form a power-sharing government, but obstacles still remain to setting it up, the opposition said on Friday.
On-off talks between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC have made little progress since they reached a deal in September seen as the best hope of pulling Zimbabwe back from economic collapse.
"We have reached an understanding, an agreement on the draft constitutional bill, pending consultations and endorsement by our different leadership organs," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters.
more on link below.

Cholera crisis 'tip of iceberg' for Zimbabwe -U.N.

By Laura MacInnis
Nov 28 (Retuers)
Fast-spreading cholera is "the tip of the iceberg" of what stands to be a major health crisis in Zimbabwe, United Nations agencies said on Friday.Nearly 400 Zimbabweans have died from the disease, which has infected more than 9,400 people and spread to neighbouring South Africa and Botswana.A lack of clean drinking water and adequate toilets are the main triggers of Zimbabwe's epidemic of the preventable and treatable diarrhoeal disease that can be fatal, especially in children, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said there are very few places where people infected with cholera in Zimbabwe can seek medical care, and the clinics that are open have far too few health workers to contain the outbreak."Cholera is only the tip of the iceberg in Zimbabwe. The health system is very weak in this country," she told a news briefing in Geneva.International aid groups are building latrines, distributing medicines and hygiene kits, delivering truckloads of water, and repairing blocked sewers across Zimbabwe to mitigate the cholera emergency.The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has begun delivering food for Zimbabwean doctors, nurses and other health workers who have not been paid because of their country's economic collapse."Some of the staff working in the clinics have not received a salary for weeks, and they cannot keep working if we do not get them food," ICRC spokeswoman Anna Schaaf said.The agency said on Thursday it was doubling the budget of its Zimbabwe office to nearly 13 million Swiss francs ($11 million) in 2009. "The situation in hospitals is catastrophic," ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger told Reuters.Zimbabwe's inflation is more than 230 million percent. Its economic crisis has caused many public hospitals to close, and most towns suffer from only intermittent water supplies, broken sewers, and uncollected garbage.The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that 9,463 people in Zimbabwe have been infected by cholera in the latest outbreak, and that 389 have died.Cholera spreads through contaminated water used in drinking and food preparation, and poor hygiene. It causes vomiting and diarrhoea and can lead to death from dehydration if untreated.The U.N. children's agency UNICEF said that to stop the current outbreak, Zimbawbwe's water pipes, sewers, and latrines need to be fixed, new boreholes need to be drilled, and water treatment chemicals need to be distributed across the country."Without international support, the lives of children in Zimbabwe will remain in grave danger," it said in a statement.
(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

MDC Statement on Humanitarian Crisis

Wednesday November 26th 2008

Statement by the President of the Movement for Democratic Change, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, on the Humanitarian Crisis in Zimbabwe
The people of Zimbabwe urgently need the help of the whole world to stop the impending famine and plague. The people of Zimbabwe need their political parties to commit themselves to ending the needless suffering they endure every day.
The humanitarian crisis that is now engulfing all Zimbabweans represents the greatest threat ever to face our country. While millions face starvation in the coming months, the death toll from cholera is now sitting at over fifty people per day and will increase dramatically now that the rainy season has begun in earnest.
In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to thank former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, former United States President, Jimmy Carter, and Dr Graca Machel for their commitment to understanding the Zimbabwean crisis and for trying to identify solutions to halt the humanitarian catastrophe that faces the country.
It was no surprise to anyone that Mr Robert Mugabe denied them access to the country, to see firsthand the appalling conditions that Zimbabweans are living under as a result of his political and economic mismanagement. Mr Mugabe would prefer that the suffering that he and Zanu PF have caused, and continue to cause, remains in the dark.
When we signed the political agreement on September 15th, 2008, we believed that Zanu PF was willing to work with us to address the challenges facing the country. Sadly, their intransigence to date is making that appear increasingly unlikely.
Therefore, the MDC must instead work with those Zimbabwean organizations, groups and individuals to address the humanitarian crisis. In this quest, we look also towards any country, regional or international, multi-lateral bodies and NGOs to join with the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe in helping us solve the problems of our country.
Therefore, in the absence of any progress in the talks, the MDC is now committing itself to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. The people of the country have mandated us to end their suffering, to work towards a New Zimbabwe and a New Beginning. In the absence of a legitimate government in Zimbabwe, in the absence of a government of Zimbabwe that puts the will and welfare of the people first, the MDC must take on this leadership responsibility.
The people of Zimbabwe are determined to endure the suffering so long as there is no meaningful change in the way that they are governed. That is the message that they have given to the MDC and it is the message that the MDC gives to the rest of the world.
This does not mean that we are not turning our back on the Global Political Agreement, nor are we withdrawing from the talks. Rather, we are saying that until we see real indications that the negotiations will end the suffering of all Zimbabweans we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from working towards the goal of alleviating the peoples' suffering.
The tragedy that is Zimbabwe is not caused by the current political impasse. Rather, this political impasse and the current suffering are caused by a former ruling party refusing to acknowledge both the will of the people and the hardships they are causing the people.
To suggest the current problems facing our country can be solved by the MDC becoming a powerless partner in a Zanu PF government, fails to acknowledge the truth about the causes of the crisis and the fact that such a development would result in the perpetuation of the peoples' suffering.
The Mugabe team negotiates as though their priority is to cover up the problem rather than solve it. Establishing a unity government dedicated to covering up the problem would be easy; establishing a unity government that can help to solve the problem is very hard.
The most recent sign of the lack of good faith by Zanu PF is the reappointment of the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono. This individual, who has been the architect of Zimbabwe's economic collapse and has blatantly plundered the national treasury to fund Zanu PF and its elite, has been rewarded with another five year term. Surely, if Mr Mugabe was genuine in his desire to address the problems facing the country he would not breach the global political agreement by making any senior appointments unilaterally.
Furthermore the continued abduction of MDC members that we have witnessed in the past few weeks including confirmed disappearance of 15 of our members reflects the ongoing disregard for the spirit of cooperation and coexistence and demonstrates the lack of good faith on the part of Mugabe.
Sadly, the negotiations have also been hampered by the attitude and position of the facilitator, Mr Thabo Mbeki. He does not appear to understand how desperate the problem in Zimbabwe is, and the solutions he proposes are too small. He is not serving to bring the parties together because he does not understand what needs to be done. In addition, his partisan support of Zanu PF, to the detriment of genuine dialogue, has made it impossible for the MDC to continue negotiating under his facilitation.
In this regard, we have written to the Chairman of SADC, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, detailing the irretrievable state of our relationship with Mr Mbeki and asking that he recuse himself.
In the meantime, the MDC is continuing in discussions with no prejudice on the outstanding issues with the other political parties.
I would like to reiterate that the MDC is ready, willing and able our leadership to bring about the change that Zimbabwe needs from an inclusive government. We have a viable and bankable economic stabilization program and other key policies, that we want to discuss with Zanu PF so that we can implement them together to respond urgently to the suffering of our people. That is the mandate we have from the people.
I thank you
Morgan Tsvangirai
Movement for Democratic Change

Police violently disperse NCA peaceful protesters in Harare

By Violet Gonda
26 November 2008

Scores of NCA activists took to the streets of Harare Wednesday, to call for the setting up of a transitional government to address the urgent needs of the population. The activists also want a people driven constitution, that will pave the way for a fresh elections.
The pressure group said 700 people heeded their call to participate in the peaceful protest. Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa said he saw protesters marching from the city’s Nelson Mandela Avenue and Leopold Takawira Avenue, towards parliament. They were singing and holding placards but were violently dispersed by anti riot police when they reached parliament.
NCA Chairperson Dr. Lovemore Madhuku told us several people were seriously injured, while at least two activists were arrested.
After the protesters were forcibly dispersed they regrouped along First Street and started marching towards the Reserve Bank, where they addressed crowds in cash queues and at food outlets.
The demonstrations were supposed to be held in the country’s four other main cities but the NCA says this time around they invited their ‘commanders,’ who mobilise people in other towns, to take part in the Harare demonstration. The pressure group says it will continue holding peaceful protests.
Meanwhile political analyst Professor John Makumbe believes if these protest marches are to have any positive impact, thousands of people have to take to the streets, and not just a few hundred.
Ironically while the NCA activists marched for a better standard of living, most people remained watching from their bank queues. Makumbe said unfortunately people are busy scavenging for food and will not drop everything for street protests, when they feel they have to survive first.
He said: “Secondly the organisers of street demonstrators have to first of all convince the people that it is right to be killed, it is right to be injured, it is right to be locked in a nasty cell in Matapi. And if you don’t convince people mentally along those lines you will not mobilise them.”
The NCA and Women of Zimbabwe Arise have been at the forefront of street protests, but it’s rare to see the general public and other civic groups coming out in solidarity. Professor Makumbe said unfortunately at the moment there is no organisation in Zimbabwe that has been able to successfully convince the masses of a sustainable, non-stop confrontation, against the despotic regime.
He said civil society is lacking the capacity to organise and that the management in spreading information to the public is currently very poor. The outspoken analysts said this is in spite of 13 non governmental organisations coming together recently, to say they will work together, but they have failed to mobilise the people.

Zim Trade Unions Call for Mass Protests

Please be advised that the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union General Council at its Special sitting in Masvingo on 25 November 2008 resolved that:
The once deferred action for cash availability be held on 3 December 2008.
Zimbabweans will be expected to go to their banks on 3 December 2008 to demand their money.
A procession will be made to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe where the ZCTU leadership will deliver a petition to the Governor.
Please join the action!

MDC wants Mbeki out as mediator

November 26, 2008
HARARE (AFP) - Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Wednesday that former South African president Thabo Mbeki should step down as the mediator in Zimbabwe’s political crisis.
“He does not appear to understand how desperate the problem in Zimbabwe is, and the solutions he proposes are too small,” Tsvangirai said in a statement issued as Mbeki chaired a new round of mediation talks.
“He is not serving to bring the parties together because he does not understand what needs to be done.”
Mbeki brokered a power-sharing deal signed by Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe two months ago, but the plan to form a unity government has run aground over disputes on the balance of power between the two parties.
Tsvangirai said he had written to South African President Kgalema Motlanthe “detailing the irretrievable state of our relationship with Mr Mbeki and asking that he recuse himself”.
The statement appeared to signal the end of two days of talks presided over by Mbeki in South Africa aimed at saving the deal.
The MDC leader said he remained committed to the unity accord, but accused Mbeki of siding with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party in the negotiations.
“His partisan support of Zanu-PF, to the detriment of genuine dialogue, has made it impossible for the MDC to continue negotiating under his facilitation,” Tsvangirai said.
“The Mugabe team negotiates as though their priority is to cover up the problem rather than solve it.
“Mugabe would prefer that the suffering that he and Zanu-PF have caused, and continue to cause, remains in the dark,” he added.

At least 3000 feared dead from cholera epidemic

By Lance Guma
26 November 2008

Over 3000 people are feared to have died so far from a severe cholera epidemic plaguing the country. With Mugabe’s regime keeping a tight lid on the number of people who have succumbed to the illness, the actual number could be much higher. Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa told Newsreel the figure of 3000 dead could most likely be for Harare alone. He said most people did not bother to register the deaths of their relatives and this provided an added challenge to accurate record keeping.
Several Harare suburbs are recording as many as 10 deaths a day. Making the situation worse is that even people suffering from malaria are being dumped in cholera clinics, where they end up contracting the disease. This is because some of the symptoms between the two diseases are so similar. Differentiating them is proving difficult under the circumstances of a collapsed health system.
The World Health Organization says over 8000 people have been infected by the disease. Insiders however say local authorities, police and Home Affairs officials have been warned against divulging the real figures. With erratic water supplies in most cities, coupled with the lack of treatment chemicals, the water borne cholera has spread easily.
While the population battles the tragic realities of the disease the regime continues playing politics. The government on Wednesday announced it would not declare the outbreak a national emergency, claiming it had the disease ‘under control’. Deputy Health Minister Edwin Mugutu blamed the west for the outbreak saying ‘Western governments must like what they see with the cholera outbreak because it is their illegal sanctions that caused it.’
His remarks were immediately slammed by critics who blame the government’s failed policies for an economic crisis that has led to the collapse of just about everything, including the health system. The west has also continued to fund humanitarian aid programmes to the country. Critics also point to the irony of Muguti’s argument, in that it is actually government which has been banning or interfering with humanitarian work in the country.
Meanwhile the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition reports that 9 people have died of cholera since Monday in Gweru’s high density suburb of Mkoba. The group says at least 7 prisoners died from the disease at Harare’s Remand Prison according to sources there.


Many years ago, Didymus Mutasa said that they (Zanu PF) would be quite happy if the population fell to 6 million people who would then support the Party in its ambitions. At the time the population was probably just over 12 million and most thought these were the remarks by someone who did not have any idea of just what he was talking about?
Today we are rapidly moving towards that target figure of national population. Some people say that our population is no more than 8 million. I personally am comfortable with 9 million. In 1980 when we gained our independence as a State, the population growth was about 3,4 per cent per annum and expected to double in 17 to 18 years. It should therefore have been 17 million in 1997 when the madness that has gripped the country since then was initiated by the government.
So when we talk of the population now being only 8 or 9 million we have to ask what has happened to 8 or 9 million people. At least 4 million now reside in South Africa, a further 1 million live in other parts of the world – probably most in the UK, followed by the USA and Canada and Australia. This leaves an unexplained gap of 3 to 4 million people. Remember that is half the population of London or Paris or Gauteng.
We need to understand this number in terms of individuals – people with families, children and parents. Real people with real relationships that have been smashed by a system that has been deliberately created to sustain the grip on power of a small elite of perhaps 2 000 individuals at best (or worst).
In the 10 years that have followed 1997, the population should have grown naturally by another 8 million had historical birth and death rates been maintained. So we are talking about unnatural deaths in the order of 12 million people. One feature of this abnormal death rate is that life expectancies have fallen by half since 1990, from 60 years to about 30 years today.
It is not difficult to establish how these millions of people have been dying – HIV/Aids kills over 100 000 a year. Malaria another 30 000, tuberculosis perhaps 60 000, malnutrition and hunger perhaps another 60 000, mainly the elderly and the young. What we do know is that whereas in the Smith era, live births exceeded deaths by a 4:1 margin. The ratio today is perhaps 4:5 – a rise of 5 times in the natural death rates pre 1980.
Some aspects of these huge changes are particularly poignant – the men who were displaced by Murambatsvina and died of heartbreak when they could not protect or sustain their families, they just quit and died. The numbers of people displaced or traumatised by this regime since 1980 are astonishing.All data are estimates as official statistics are either not available or just plainly dishonest.
It started with Gukurahundi - a 6-year campaign to destroy Zapu and entrench Zanu PF hegemony over the whole country. This campaign was kept secret until the Legal Resources Foundation and the Catholic Bishops Conference published a partial report on the atrocities. Their conclusion was that over 20 000 people hade been murdered and hundreds of thousands displaced. What is not appreciated from this first attempt at securing control is that many of those affected elected to move to South Africa. The breadwinner going first followed a short while later by the rest of the family.
Between 1987 when Zapu succumbed and 2000 there was no campaign of dislocation and intimidation as such, but the war against any form of opposition continued unabated. The Centre Party, ZUM and the Forum Party all became victims. Their leadership hectored and brutalised – leaders such as that gentle intellectual, Enoch Dumbutshena, former Chief Justice and leader of the Forum, hounded into liquidation and disgrace.
Many leaders even in Zanu PF who attempted reform found themselves vilified and even killed. How many died in this secret war will never be known.
Then came the defeat in the 2000 referendum and the near defeat in the election that year. In a fury, Zanu PF turned on their perceived enemies – farmers had played a key role and when the votes were counted it was discovered that the 2 million people on commercial farms had in fact swung the vote. The State turned on this community – savagely beating and even killing any who opposed their will. Thousands of farms were illegally confiscated and at least 1,5 million people were displaced.
When it became clear that a majority of the population now lived in the urban areas – the hard core of MDC support, the State launched “Murambatsvina” – “clean out the rubbish”. In the view of the UN special investigator 300 000 homes were affected, 700 000 people displaced and 1,4 million people lost their livelihood and shelter in a period of three months.
Again an understated effect of these state managed interventions was the flight of millions to the nearby states of Botswana and South Africa.Completely understated is the number of people who have died in these campaigns. A common feature of each new campaign has been the ruthless application of State power.
Despite these massive manipulations of the population and the complete disregard for the welfare of the people, the population of the urban areas still expanded – a process actually impelled by the dislocation of the rural economy. In addition the flight to South Africa and other destinations accelerated.
In political terms this meant that the objective of the ruling elite still eluded them – MDC became stronger, not weaker and they were faced with a steady escalation of pressure from the global and regional community. In desperation the State turned on the MDC and its structures in a manner that resembled the Zapu campaign 20 years before. Hundreds of thousands were beaten and tortured, their homes and businesses destroyed and families harassed. Hundreds were killed or disappeared.
But they were up against a very different antagonist in the form of the MDC.Its leadership understood what Zanu PF strategies were, they used every means open to them to publicise what was going on. They refused to give the regime the excuse to use its military power. They maintained a strong political base in the urban areas and even managed to penetrate the rural areas. In consequence, when minor reforms of the electoral system were adopted in 2008, Zanu PF went into the elections in March and lost the election.
We know, without any doubt, that there was widespread rigging on top of intimidation and violence let alone the total distortion of the national media and the control of food and traditional leaders. We also know that despite desperate effort to over turn the result, Zanu eventually had to admit it had lost control of Parliament and that Morgan Tsvangirai had won the Presidential contest. What they did not do was to publish the actual results of the poll – with the deliberate connivance of the South African President; they simply published a fictional result that gave Mr. Tsvangirai less than the required 50 per cent.
Even so, they then launched a campaign they called Mavhoterapapi or “where did you vote”. 2000 militia camps were established with military leadership – thousands were beaten and tortured. Hundreds died. Now we understand they are about to launch another campaign called “Ngatipedzenavo”or “lets finish them (MDC) off”.
Today, besides the direct victims of Zanu PF’s genocidal activities over the past 28 years, we have perhaps 6 million people without food and 98 per cent without medical attention or services. Schools are closed and Universities dysfunctional. Can anyone describe what I have set out above as anything other than a form of Genocide? A lot of publicity is being given right now to the situation in the Eastern Congo – but the death toll there is tiny by comparison to the death toll here. There can be few situations in the world, even in recent history, where a small country like Zimbabwe can go through a period of its history seeing a full third of its population die in state sponsored violence and dislocation.
Where else in the world has a State overseen a crisis during which half of its total population has died by natural and unnatural causes in a short space of three decades – under conditions where there was no national civil war or conflict. In the past century we have seen two genocides – Cambodia and Rwanda. In both the mortality was less than that through which Zimbabwe has gone in the past 28 years. But because the universal eye (the camera) was not present and because we were not killing each other – it was the State killing its people, our genocide has not been understood or lamented.
Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 25th November 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zimbabwe will not declare cholera emergency: minister

Zimbabwe will not declare a state of emergency following a cholera outbreak which has claimed more than 360 lives as the situation is under control, the deputy health minister said Wednesday.
"The situation is under under control. There is no need to declare it," Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti told AFP, reacting to calls to Harare to declare a national health emergency.

South African Groups offer aid to Zimbabwe

Social sector working groups have indicated to President Kgalema Motlanthe that they will assist in alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, the presidency said on Tuesday.In a briefing following a meeting between Motlanthe and working groups from higher education, women, youth and religious leaders, presidential spokesman Thabo Masebe said it had been agreed that assistance would be rendered, but only once a government of national unity was formed."They understood very well the position of government."They were saying to the president that 'we are ready to go into Zimbabwe, but once the conditions exist for us to go in there and work'.
"They all agreed that the critical step in Zimbabwe now is the implementation of the agreement."The working groups agreed that it would not be possible to assist the country until a government of national unity was formed."The Zimbabwean parties themselves understand that yes they face a serious situation but that they need to move without any further delay to implement that agreement that was signed on September 15."He was referring to the power sharing deal which has since been met with delays in implementation.Masebe said the R300 million earmarked for agricultural assistance would be given over only once there was an inclusive government in place.The religious leaders group said it was "willing and ready" to offer humanitarian support to the people of Zimbabwe.Bishop Ivan Abrahams said the forum had been approached by the department of agriculture enquiring how it could help in the distribution of seeds and fertiliser."While we have given an unqualified yes to that there seems still to be an hiatus with the legitimacy of the Zimbabwean government but the national religious leaders forum has come out in support."The council on higher education said several steps had been taken to "come to the rescue" in terms of offering moral support to colleagues in Zimbabwe's academic sector."There are strong indications that the systems there have ground to a halt. There is practically no schooling," said Duma Malaza.He said a meeting would be held shortly with the council's equivalent in Zimbabwe to assess the extent to which help could be rendered from within South Africa.He said the fees and financial commitments of Zimbabwean students at higher education facilities was also being addressed."We are also concerned about the plight of Zimbabwean students who are studying in our institutions; who are having problems meeting their fees, their commitments," he said.Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change factions and Southern African Development Community mediator, former president Thabo Mbeki, were set to meet on Tuesday to discuss amendments to the power-sharing agreement. - Sapa

Gono gets another term as Zimbabwe central bank governor

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's central bank Governor Gideon Gono has been re-appointed for a second five-year term, the Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.
According to the paper, Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi approved Gono's re-appointment on Tuesday, extending his time in the post to November 30, 2013.
A ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Appointed in December 2003, Gono's term has spanned the economic collapse of once-prosperous Zimbabwe, highlighted by shortages of basic goods and the highest inflation in the world, which the government put at 230 million percent in July.
Washington-based Cato Institute foundation estimates Zimbabwe's inflation at 89.7 sextillion percent.
In an effort to deal with hyperinflation, Gono has introduced higher denomination notes and lopped a total of 13 zeros off the currency -- 3 zeros in August 2006 and 10 in August 2008 -- but it has continued to lose value.
Currently, the highest denomination banknote is Z$1 million, not enough to buy a loaf of bread and consumers have to carry huge amounts to make simple purchases.
Zimbabwe's economic crisis -- blamed on President Robert Mugabe's policies -- has worsened amid a stalemate over cabinet positions in a power-sharing government the veteran ruler agreed to form with opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai on Sep. 15.
Analysts say the power-sharing pact offers the best chance of hauling the country out of its worst economic crisis, but hopes of a quick turnaround have been dimmed by a disagreement over key ministerial appointments, which now threatens the deal.

Zimbabwe: U.S. Presses Four It Calls Mugabe Allies

Published: November 26, 2008

The United States Treasury Department on Tuesday ordered the freezing of any American assets of four people it said had provided financial support to President Robert Mugabe’s government. They are two Zimbabwean businessmen, John Bredenkamp and Muller Conrad Rautenbach; a Thai businesswoman, Nalinee Joy Taveesin; and Dr. Mahmood Awang Kechik, described as a Malaysian urologist and one of Mr. Mugabe’s doctors and business advisers. Also on Tuesday, the United Nations said that more than 50 cholera deaths had been reported in Zimbabwe in the past day, bringing the toll to 366 since August, The Associated Press reported.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Zimbabwe talks to resume Tuesday

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) —
South Africa's president says talks between Zimbabwe's rival political parties will resume Tuesday in South Africa.
President Kgalema Motlanthe says the talks will center on a constitutional amendment to allow a power-sharing government and the position of prime minister for the opposition leader to be authorized by Zimbabwe's parliament.
That does not address the core differences between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over how to share portfolios in the Cabinet. The disagreement has stalled the formation of a government for more than two months.
Motlanthe said Monday that "Unless this root cause of the political absence of a legitimate government is solved, the situation will get worse and may implode and collapse."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In Zimbabwe, the hunters are now the hunted

By Robyn Dixon
November 19, 2008

As Robert Mugabe's grip on power has slipped, the thugs who carried out preelection terror in his name find themselves in the cross hairs of those they tormented. More on link below,0,3659915,full.story

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Zimbabwe police bar health march

Police in Zimbabwe have stopped almost 1,000 medical staff from marching to protest about the country's deteriorating health system.
The workers want the government to address staff and equipment shortages, and are calling for more pay.
Most hospitals in Zimbabwe have shut down, and fears are mounting over deaths due to lack of treatment.
Health staff say dozens of people have died from an outbreak of cholera in townships around the capital.
Pipes there have burst and running raw sewage is common.
The state-owned Herald newspaper said on Tuesday that 36 people had died from cholera and more than 430 people had been infected in one single district in Matabeleland South, near the border with South Africa.
In the capital, Harare, riot police sealed the exits of the country's main referral hospital, Parirenyatwa, to prevent staff including doctors, specialists, nurses and engineers from marching into the city centre.
Zimbabwean journalist Brian Hungwe says the workers have been told to go back to their homes or risk arrest.
The government has blamed the health sector's problems on international sanctions.
But the opposition says President Robert Mugabe's government is to blame.
Health Minister Edwin Muguti has said the sector would need about $1bn (£674m) to function properly.
Zimbabwe's central bank recently allocated about $100,000, vehicles, and 90,000 litres of fuel to improve water supplies and alleviate the cholera outbreak.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights wins Rights & Democracy’s 2008 John Humphrey Freedom Award

MONTREAL – Nov. 13, 2008 –
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is the winner of Rights & Democracy’s 2008 John Humphrey Freedom Award in recognition of its courageous pursuit of justice for victims of human rights abuses inside Zimbabwe.
The organization has played a leading role in the promotion and protection of human rights across Zimbabwe since its founding in 1996. Guided by a professional commitment to the rule of law and Zimbabwe’s international human rights obligations, ZLHR provides essential services ranging from legal support for victims of state-endorsed persecution to public education and human rights training for activists and civil society organizations working at the community level.
In 2003, ZLHR established a project to provide legal support for human rights defenders facing prosecution. Up to 1,500 Zimbabweans now benefit from the service each year, and its lawyers have yet to lose a single case in the project's five year history. Irene Petras, Executive Director of ZLHR, attributes this perfect track record to both the heroic tenacity of the project's lawyers and the fact that there is rarely any evidence to support the charges brought against their clients. “Prosecution is used as a tool of persecution,” she said. Ms. Petras and fellow lawyer Andrew Makoni will accept the John Humphrey Freedom Award on behalf of ZLHR at an Ottawa ceremony on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day.
“Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights provides a vital democratic lifeline for those who would otherwise have no recourse against state-sponsored abuses and persecution,” said Dr. Jacques P. Gauthier, Interim Chair of Rights & Democracy’s (the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development) Board of Directors. “Its determined, non-violent struggle against impunity and repression reminds us that, in the end, tyranny is no match for human dignity and the rule of law.”
Rights & Democracy established the annual John Humphrey Freedom Award in 1992 to honour an organization or individual for exceptional commitment to the promotion of international human rights and democratic development. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights was nominated by the Canadian Embassy in Harare. An international jury selected ZLHR unanimously from a field of almost 100 candidates.
Named in honour of John Peters Humphrey, the McGill University law professor who prepared the first draft of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the annual John Humphrey Freedom Award includes a speaking tour of Canadian cities to help increase awareness of the recipient's human rights work. This year’s tour will bring Ms. Petras and Mr. Makoni to take part in public events in Calgary (Nov. 27), Toronto (Dec. 2), Halifax (Dec. 5), Montreal (Dec. 8) and Ottawa (Dec. 10).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Full text of MDC National Council Resolution

November 14, 2008
Harare, November 14, 2008
Click this link for details:

Global Christian leaders censure Africa for Zimbabwe failure

By Peter Kenny
14 November (ENI)--

Leaders of global Christian organizations have criticised African leaders for their failure to address a "growing humanitarian catastrophe" in Zimbabwe and for their failure to question the "illegitimacy of the current government" there.In a statement on 14 November they called on" the Zanu-PF party [of Robert Mugabe] and the MDC [the Movement for Democratic Change] to form a government based on the will of the voters, true equity and in the interest of real and durable political progress, socio-economic transformation and national healing".The statement is signed by the leaders of the World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, World YWCA, World Student Christian Federation and the World Alliance of YMCAs. The general secretary of the WCC, the Rev. Samuel Kobia is a Kenyan, while the WARC general secretary, the Rev. Setri Nyomi, is a Ghanaian, and the LWF is headed by the Rev. Ishmael Noko, a Zimbabwean. Their counterpart at the YWCA, Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, is also a Zimbabwean."It is time to give priority to the people through servant leadership instead of self-serving power politics. It is also time for Africa's leaders to face up to each other with honesty and truth and take firm decisions that will provide a foundation for a durable solution to the protracted crisis in Zimbabwe," said the Christian leaders.Joined by the Zimbabwe Advocacy Office in Geneva, the Christian groupings said they were making their request following a 10 November meeting of the leaders from the 12 nations making up the Southern African Development Community. The SADC leaders failed to agree on a way of overcoming an impasse in implementing a power sharing agreement for Zimbabwe brokered in September by the then South African president Thabo Mbeki.
Mugabe will not allow the MDC to control any of the ministries involved with security.An MDC official said on 14 November it would not join a any new government before its issues with Mugabe's party are resolved."Neither Robert Mugabe nor Zanu-PF has the legitimacy to form a government. The SADC resolution does not bestow Mugabe with the right to form a government. We will not be part of that, we will campaign against that illegitimate government," MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe told journalists in Harare.The leaders of the Geneva-based world Christian groupings said, "We are deeply disappointed and saddened that the SADC leadership and Zimbabwe's political leaders have once again squandered an opportunity to take decisive, credible and transformative action in the interests of the right to life, dignity and democracy in Zimbabwe."By failing to fully address the growing humanitarian catastrophe and question of illegitimacy of the current government, SADC leaders have let down the people of Zimbabwe who dutifully went to vote for a new government on March 29, 2008 and are today still waiting for a government of their choice."In that election the opposition MDC won a majority of the parliamentary seats and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the presidential poll, but failed to get the 50 percent plus one vote required by the constitution. Mugabe handsomely won a later poll after Tsvangarai stood down citing violence against his supporters, but Mugabe's victory has not been recognised after accusations of vote rigging.The Christian leaders referred in their statement to a severe cholera outbreak that has claimed hundreds of lives since August and they noted many more are dying each day.They said, "People living with HIV/AIDS have no access to life-saving drugs or food. Schools and hospitals are closing daily because there are no teachers, doctors, nurses or medicines. Millions of Zimbabweans are starving despite the best efforts of aid agencies.
"Church leaders in Zimbabwe have confirmed that many are now surviving on wild fruit. Gaining access to water, food, electricity and even cash from the bank has become a daily nightmare for ordinary Zimbabweans," said the statement. "Everyday women and children are bearing the brunt of these hardships as providers, care-givers and vulnerable members of society."The statement noted that up to 4 million Zimbabweans "find themselves trapped in Southern Africa and beyond, unable to return home in the absence of a credible resolution of the political and economic meltdown. With a hungry and demoralised civil service, no one is taking proper responsibility to ensure accountable and efficient public service delivery."The Christian leaders called upon SADC and the African Union, "to enhance transparency and broaden the talks to include civil society and churches to bring in voices from the streets, townships and villages. African leaders must re-commit themselves to protecting the integrity of elections and the right of citizens to freely choose leaders of their own choice."We further call upon the Zanu-PF party and the MDC to form a government based on the will of the voters, true equity and in the interest of real and durable political progress, socio-economic transformation and national healing. Unilateral decisions on the formation of the new government will only lead to further international isolation and exacerbate the suffering and misery in Zimbabwe."They urged the United Nations, the European Union and, "especially the president-elect of the United States of America, Barack Obama" to mobilise and increase direct humanitarian support for the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe.::

African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) express concern on media and freedom of expression violations in Africa

MISA Communiqué
16 November 2008
African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) express concern on media and freedom of expression violations in Africa.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights' (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa Advocate Pansy Tlakula on 13 November 2008 expressed concern with the reports she has received on violations of freedom of expression and access to information in several African countries including Zimbabwe.

In her report to the 44th Session of the ACHPR in Abuja, Nigeria Advocate Tlakula singled Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Lesotho and Cameroon as the offending countries. "The Special Rapporteur has been informed that in the run-up to the 27 June 2008 presidential elections run-off (in Zimbabwe), numerous journalists and leading cast members of plays perceived as critical of the government were allegedly harassed, arrested and detained. I have also received reports that journalists have been convicted for offences such as intentionally publishing falsehoods contrary to the country's media law," she said.

"In this regard, I would like to remind member states that unlike other international human rights instruments, the African Charter does not contain a derogation clause. Thus, regardless of circumstances such as conflict, civil unrest or any other form of emergency, States have a perpetual obligation to respect, promote, protect and fulfil the right to freedom of expression as provided under the African Charter and the Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression which supplements it."

She noted that only a few countries had adopted legislation on freedom of information that conforms with regional and international human rights standards and urged member states to ensure that their laws on Freedom of Information conform with applicable regional and international human rights standards particularly Principle 4 of the Declaration on the Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa.

The Declaration states among other provisions, that public bodies hold information not for themselves but as custodians of the public good and everyone has the right to access that information, subject only to clearly defined rules established by law. South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar are the only four countries in southern Africa whose constitutions expressly protect the right to freedom of information.

"There is need for continuous dialogue with States reminding them that adoption of effective freedom of information legislation remains a yardstick for determining transparency and accountability towards promotion of access to social and economic development in any society which lays claims to adherence to democratic ideals," she said.

She paid tribute to Non-Governmental Organisations that have worked "tirelessly" to promote the adoption of freedom of expression laws and through whose intervention draft legislations have been introduced in various member states. MISA-Zimbabwe has produced a model access to information law as a lobby and advocacy tool for the repeal of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Commissioner Tlakula noted that AIPPA which only provides for access to information held by public bodies and for appeals to be lodged with the statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission (which is still to be constituted following the December 2008 Amendments), has been widely criticised for its broad exemption provisions. The Special Rapporteur drew parallels with the positive aspects of South Africa's Promotion of Access to Information Act whose implementation is overseen by the South African Human Rights Commission, an independent constitutional body.

The South African Act contains exemption provisions that conform with international human rights standards and is subject to the public interest test. Its major weakness though is that it provides for appeals against decisions of public and private bodies to be lodged with the courts which are largely inaccessible to individuals in terms of costs and inordinate delays.

Advocate Tlakula said all laws relating to criminal defamation wherever they exist should be repealed or amended in conformity with the provisions of the Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa. Laws on defamation should respect the following standards:
no one shall be found liable for true statements, opinions or statements regarding public figures of which it was reasonable to make in the circumstances.
public figures shall be required to tolerate a greater degree of criticism.
sanctions shall never be so severe as to inhibit the right to freedom of expression.

Applauding the courage and resolve of journalists, media practitioners and NGOS that have committed themselves to advancing the right to freedom of expression at great personal risk as well as those that have been killed in defence of that right, the Special Rapporteur said she planned to introduce the African Commission Human Rights Journalist/Media Practitioner of the Year Award. The winner of the award which will honour journalists and media practitioners that have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of freedom of expression and access to information in Africa, will be announced at a ceremony during the 45th Session of the ACHPR in May 2009 as part of commemorations of the World Press Freedom Day.//End//