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//

Friday, November 14, 2008

Namibia's Zimbabwe Policy: The Dark Side Of Solidarity


SINCE the mid-1990s, Namibia emerged as one of the closest allies of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF.
The Nujoma government never missed an opportunity to document its unconditional loyalty to Mugabe.
Despite his official retirement from government politics in 2005, the Founding Father of the Republic (as Swapo President in office until November 2007) remained actively involved in policy matters and influential in terms of Namibia's policy to Zimbabwe.
On July 1 2006 Nujoma used a political rally in Outapi in the party's northern stronghold area to reiterate his unconditional support for Mugabe: "If the English imperialists make a mistake today to occupy Zimbabwe, I will instruct Swapo to go fight for the Zimbabweans," he told his audience, adding, "you touch Zimbabwe, you touch Swapo".
Nujoma's close ties to the Mugabe regime have effectively undermined any attempt to mark out a more obviously critical or at least more distant position.
When in mid-2006 Isak Katali, Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement, was quoted by the Zimbabwean media as praising Zimbabwe's fast track land reform as suitable for Namibia, this was officially downplayed back home as being quoted out of context.
But Nujoma came publicly to Katali's rescue.
In the same speech quoted above he declared that, "if the people of Zimbabwe did this, we can do it in the same manner".
But Zimbabweans preferred another option and indicated that they would actually like to do it differently.
They voted against all odds for the opposition MDC, and the Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority.
The people also chose the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as next head of state and gave him more votes than incumbent Mugabe.
Only the latter was not willing to vacate his seat.
Instead, he resorted to even more state terror in a desperate effort to coerce people into what they did not want.
Since mid-2008 it is obvious that Zimbabwe is governed by an illegitimate regime.
Following the example set in Kenya earlier on, the new exit option for those unwilling to give up power is not to accept the defeat and to negotiate themselves back into a government of national unity.
Sadly enough, several SADC states were willing to play along and give support to a despot and his securocrats, whose time had actually run out.
Namibia is among those countries which, despite own official commitment to a democratic political system, have been party to the ongoing bailout.
COMRADELY RELATIONS President Mugabe's to Namibia on February 27-28 2007 was declared to be a symbol of the enduring friendship between the two countries, notwithstanding public protest by some local human rights activists.
Their protest over the massive outbreak of renewed repression of the political opposition from March 11 2007 onwards resulted in the protesters being banned from presenting a petition to the Zimbabwean High Commission in clear violation of constitutionally enshrined rights.
An opposition party motion in the National Assembly to discuss the Zimbabwean situation was dismissed by the Swapo majority and the Foreign Minister declared such a debate would amount to interference in the internal affairs of another country.
In August 2007 the prominent government critic John Makumbe, a scholar from the University of Zimbabwe, was to give a lecture at the University of Namibia (which had been planned and announced publicly long before).
But the office of the Vice-Chancellor cancelled the event at short notice, presumably on the instruction of the former Head of State, who is the University's Chancellor.
As a result, the lecture was moved to a different venue and drew a large audience.
The aborting of academic freedom in the wake of this censorship remained largely a non-issue.
During 2008 Namibia's government policy was an increasingly passive but nonetheless reliable support factor for the Mugabe regime and its efforts to remain in power.
None of the violations of human rights and other minimum standards of governance, including the rigged elections and the refusal to share power in a meaningful way were commented upon in any uncompromisingly critical government statements.
Instead, the commander of Namibia's army, General Martin Shali, visited despite the problematic situation in mid-2008 Zimbabwe for earlier scheduled official talks with the military.
When this was questioned, the official response justified this as a routine exchange, which had nothing to do with the current political situation.
CONTINUED SOLIDARITY President Pohamba summarised Namibia's current official Zimbabwe policy in his response to a journalist in mid-2008.
In his view, Namibia as a SADC member, would adhere to the official SADC policy.
In the absence of such a policy, Namibia's passivity translates into continued support for the status quo while refraining officially from the earlier demonstrative declarations of support to the Mugabe policy.
Such declamatory statements of solidarity are left to individual political office bearers representing influential views within Swapo.
For the party and its government, Zanu-PF remains the only acceptable political partner.
High-ranking members of Swapo eagerly voice unconditional support to the Zanu-PF government.
At a Swapo rally in late August 2008 in Windhoek the Deputy Minister of Labour, Petrus Ilonga claimed that SADC countries were misled by Tsvangirai and would need to apologise to Mugabe and Mbeki.
At the same event, the Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Jerry Ekandjo, claimed that Mugabe was freely and fairly re-elected.
Both political office bearers are prominent representatives of the Nujoma-inspired camp, which exerts strong influence within Swapo's political establishment.
The hard-liners include the leadership in the Youth League, the Elders Council, the Women's League and the National Union of Namibian Workers.
Meanwhile the government continues to abstain from any public criticism of Mugabe's policy.
While attending the United Nations General Assembly in late September 2008, President Pohamba reportedly appealed for lifting of all sanctions and urged the international community to provide financial and humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe to ensure the successful implementation of the power-sharing agreement.
Since then, there have been no critical interventions by Namibia with regard to the delay of the implementation of the agreement and the impasse over the distribution of portfolios between the parties.
President Pohamba was among the five SADC Heads of State attending the extraordinary meeting in Johannesburg on 9 November 2008, which failed to overcome the stalemate by at least indirectly strengthening the Zanu-PF claim to maintain a large control over the state's security organs.
There were no indications that the Namibian President has used his influence to advocate a more conciliatory political option seeking to meet the expectations of Tsvangirai's MDC.
Neither has Namibia had any official contacts with Tsvangirai.
EVER ONWARD TO SHAME Namibian parties prepare for the next parliamentary and presidential elections towards the end of 2009.
With the RDP in existence, the unchallenged hegemony of Swapo might be seriously contested for the first time.
This new constellation absorbs all energy of current policymakers and party officials in Swapo to regain its two-thirds majority in the next elections.
Zimbabwe is in this perspective largely a domestic affair, and not a foreign policy issue.
The disappointing result of the SADC meeting in Johannesburg on November 9 2008 testifies once again to the fact that so far former liberation movements in Southern Africa, who have obtained political power in their sovereign states and are in control of the government, remain foremost loyal to each other and find it difficult to accept any political alternatives beyond the common bonds.
While most media in Namibia provide an arena for a much more critical public discourse also on Zimbabwe, Namibian government politics will not adjust.
Hidipo Hamutenya, the former Foreign Minister who now heads the opposition party RDP, has recently articulated more critical views on the violation of democratic principles and human rights under the Mugabe government.
This does not enhance the chances that such a view might gain further ground and ultimate acceptance within Swapo or the government.
The opposite might well be the case: Swapo has announced in October 2008 the establishment of a new party think-tank.
According to the party's Secretary General, the politically reliable party members appointed to serve in this new institution are among others tasked to offer advice on Namibia's foreign policy in the spirit of anti-imperialist solidarity.
Given the implications of this erstwhile noble term as abused in the more recent context of Southern Africa and in particular Zimbabwe, this does not bode well for democracy and human rights.
Even though the anti-imperialist struggle for the Independence of Namibia did once claim that the fight was not least for democracy and human rights as alternatives to oppression and illegitimate rule against the will of the majority of the people.
The current translation of the erstwhile slogan "Ever onward to victory" into the ongoing solidarity with the regime in Zimbabwe seems in this light to become increasingly a reason for shame.
* Henning Melber is the Executive Director of the Dag Hammarskjoeld Foundation in Uppsala/Sweden.
He joined Swapo in 1974.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Parallels Drawn Between Zimbabwe and Middle East Process

Editorial: No end to woes of Zimbabwe
Arab News
11 November 2008

THE Zimbabwean opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was right to refuse the compromise plan devised by the leaders of the 15-nation South African Development Community (SADC) at their emergency summit in Johannesburg. In a position remarkably similar to that of the Palestinian leadership vis-à-vis the Israelis, the MDC has made compromise after compromise in pursuit of a solution to the crisis since being robbed of its rightful election victory by Robert Mugabe. There comes a point where a line has to be drawn. In truth, the SADC’s supposed plan to share power at the Interior Ministry, with two ministers, one answerable to Mugabe and the other to the MDC, was no compromise at all. Control over the police would have remained with Mugabe who has thrown spanner after spanner into the works in an effort to ensure that he does not have to surrender one iota of real power.

Ever since Zimbabwe’s presidential elections in March, there has been the nagging suspicion that SADC’s sympathies are with Mugabe. It did not protest when he stole the election. On the contrary, it called on the MDC to accept the unacceptable and share power with him; the MDC, in the interests of a peaceful transition, agreed to do so. Then when Mugabe unilaterally appointed his own ZANU-PF supporters to all the key ministries, SADC again called on the MDC to compromise; again it did so. Now, rather than stand up to Mugabe, it again wants to reward him and humiliate the MDC. Mugabe’s next move is quite obvious if SADC has its way: He would insist that the ZANU-PF part of the ministry include the police, leaving an MDC interior minister to deal with inconsequential issues such as issuing visas or ensuring that prisons are provided with food. Mugabe’s tactic is simple. He hopes to saddle the MDC with responsibility for finding the solution for the country’s horrendous economic crisis which is entirely of his making while ensuring he retains real power. SADC is effectively complicit in this plan.

If its craven support for Mugabe is shocking, even more so are the comments by its executive secretary, Tomaz Salomao. His “take it or leave it” ultimatum — that “SADC was asked to rule and SADC took a decision and that’s the position of SADC” — is a slap in the face for democracy. But then what else is to be expected from the man who had the gall to call the Zimbabwe elections “free and fair” and threatened to pull SADC out of the EU-Africa summit a year ago if Zimbabwe was on the agenda? What confidence can there be in a body that so spurns the democratic victor and sides with tyranny and reaction? SADC says that it also wants to help bring peace to the Democratic Republic of Congo. If it fails to stand up for justice so abysmally in Zimbabwe, what chance is there of it bringing justice to the DRC? But it is not SADC that is primarily in the dock of international public opinion. It is South Africa. The new South African government could have taken a tough line with Mugabe and forced the issue. It has chosen to side with him. Is it because of his past as a freedom fighter against colonial rule or because of his neo-Marxist political views that it supposedly shares? Probably both. But in doing so, it proclaims a deep antipathy to democracy and precious little concern for the desperate plight of Zimbabwe’s people. That does not augur well for the political future of South Africa.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lawyers condemn rising state violence in Zimbabwe

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — State-sponsored violence is increasing in Zimbabwe, human rights lawyers said Tuesday, joining other independent groups in condemning a suggestion from regional African leaders that President Robert Mugabe retain some control over his police force.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said pro-democracy organizations had recorded more than 1,300 cases of political violence in September, up 39 percent from the previous month. The cases ranged from property destruction to rapes and killings.

Zimbabwe's Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing agreement Sept. 15, but that has yet to lead to a unity government, partly because of a dispute over who should control the police ministry.

At a weekend summit, regional African leaders suggested that Mugabe and Tsvangirai run the police ministry together. Tsvangirai rejected that suggestion, raising the possibility that Mugabe could unilaterally name a government.

The lawyers and other independent Zimbabwean groups meeting Tuesday in neighboring South Africa blame the police for the recent violence and say Tsvangirai is right when he insists the opposition have complete control of the police.

The government denies charges that its security forces and ruling party militants have attacked the opposition, instead blaming the violence on Tsvangirai's supporters. Yet independent human rights monitors say the government is responsible for an overwhelming majority of attacks.

From January to July 2008, 17,600 people in Zimbabwe were affected by political violence, Irene Petras from the lawyers' group told reporters Tuesday. Violence peaked during Zimbabwe's disputed March presidential vote to its discredited June presidential runoff, then eased and is now rising again.

Gorden Moyo of Bulawayo Agenda, a Zimbabwean civil rights group, called the ministry-sharing suggestion "devastating," while another activist, Elinor Sisulu, said it was a recipe "for conflict and paralysis."

Without a government — whether multiparty or unilateral — Zimbabweans are without leadership as their economy collapses. Zimbabwe's inflation rate is the highest in the world. Hospitals and schools have closed because there's no money to pay doctors and teachers, and food and other essential goods are desperately scarce.

The U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday that without extra donations, it will run out of food in January — just when it says the number of Zimbabweans needing food aid will rise to 5 million, or nearly half the population.

Already, the WFP has reduced rations for hungry Zimbabweans because of the funding shortage — cutting the monthly amount of corn from 12 to 10 kilograms (26 to 22 pounds) and the amount of beans by nearly half to 1 kilogram (about 2 pounds).

WFP said it fed 2 million Zimbabweans in October and planned to reach around 4 million in November.

Riot police break up Harare protest

Dozens of pro-democracy activists have been beaten by police wielding batons during a demonstration in the Zimbabwean capital, according to an opposition pressure group.

University students and activists from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), were marching through Harare on Tuesday to demand that a new government be formed to tackle the country's worsening economic and political crisis.

The protestors were calling for the installation of a caretaker government while Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, and Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister-designate negotiate the formation of a joint administration.

The two men have failed to decide on a new cabinet, despite agreeing to a power-sharing deal eight weeks ago.

Demonstrators held hands as they marched through Harare in what organisers described as a peaceful protest.

'Unjustified obstruction'

However, riot police used batons and chased demonstrators away, while also lashing out at passers-by, a reporter for the AFP news agency said.

Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA leader, was arrested early on Tuesday before the protest took place. The group says he has not yet been released.

"The NCA emphatically condemns this unjustified obstruction of the organisation's peaceful protest actions," the group said.

The World Food Programme has warned that it will have to cut food rations in Zimbabwe, where more than five million people are expected to require food aid by January.
Donors have failed to provide the funds needed provide the aid, the agency said.
With inflation running at more than 231 million per cent, half of the population requires emergency food aid while a breakdown in basic services has led to outbreaks of cholera in Harare.

Political violence 'soars'

The latest clashes between civilians and police came as Zimbabwean human rights lawyers said state-sponsored political violence was on the rise in the southeast African nation.

Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights said its members recorded 1,300 incidents of political violence in September this year - an increase of 39 per cent on the previous month.

Violent attacks catalogued by the lawyers' group and other organisations ranged from rape to property disputes to murder.

The human rights groups, who believe the police are responsible for most of the violence, are backing Tsvangirai's stand against Mugabe's attempt to retain control over the interior ministry - which remains a key stumbling block to forming a government.

Southern African leaders on Sunday suggested that Mugabe should retain partial control over the ministry, which oversees the police, in order to push ahead with the power-sharing government.

But Tsvangirai rejected the proposal, saying Mugabe's "utter contempt" for his party would render the deal unworkable. He accused the Southern African Development Community membership of lacking the "courage and decency" to force Mugabe to accept a fair deal.

Speaking on state television, Mugabe announced on Tuesday that he intends to form a new government "as soon as possible".

A Zanu-PF minister said Tsvangirai would be invited to nominate members to a joint cabinet.

Message from Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Dear Friends

Today, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum released Monthly Political Violence Reports for the month of July and August 2008. The July report notes that there were numerous cases of retributive violence that were reported countrywide soon after the run off elections on 27 June 2008. Continued cases of retributive violence, some leading to deaths are reported in the August report. These can be found on line on our website at for July and for August

The 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) opened in Abuja, Nigeria today. When NGO’s met on the eve of this Commission several statements were adopted at the end of the meeting yesterday, 9.11.08. These included the attached items:

- A Resolution on Zimbabwe was adopted. It observes the inordinate delay in implementing the power sharing agreement and calls on the ACHPR, AU and SADC to undertake a number of actions as well as to remind Zimbabwe of its obligation to regional and international agreements amongst other things.
- A Resolution on Human Rights Defenders noted with deep concern the ‘severe wave of repression of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe’ and gives particular mention to the recent case of the two women of Women of Zimbabwe Arise after their demonstration to denounce the alarming economic and social situation of the country.
- Thematic Recommendations on Torture and Prisons in Africa were adopted in the context of what was described as ‘concern at the instances of torture perpetrated and overlooked by the government of certain African states and the slow pace of prison reform.’

The Director of Zimbabwe Exiles Forum; Gabriel Shumba; presented a paper on 8.11.08 to the just ended Forum on the Participation of NGOs which met ahead of the 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) taking place in Abuja Nigeria between 10
th – 24th November 2008 . The paper notes that since the signing of the power-sharing deal on the 15th September, there has been no visible improvement in the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, 9.11.08 an Extra-Ordinary Summit of the SADC Heads of State and Government met in South Africa to review the latest political and security situation in the region with particular reference to the current development sin the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Zimbabwe.

In the Bill Watch 44/2008 issued by Veritas on 8.11.08 there is further background information as to what issues were on the agenda of the SADC Summit. Items include an update on the current situation of the Zimbabwean Parliament, an item around the claims that Zimbabwe is mobilising forces to fight in the civil war in the Eastern DRC, and news from the opening session of the Pan African Parliament.

Human Rights Watch released a report on 8.11.08 entitled ‘Our Hands Are Tied’ – Erosion of the Rule of Law in Zimbabwe. The 47 page report documents how ZANU PF has compromised the independence and impartiality of judges, magistrates and prosecutors and transformed the police into an openly unaccountable arm of ZANU PF. It can be read on line via the following web site

A training workshop on Transitional Justice is being run by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum together with the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), South Africa and IDASA.
The Workshop will take place between the 11-12.11.08 in Harare and is launched with a cocktail event this evening in Harare with guest of honour Yasmin Sooka, the Former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

International Liaison Office
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
56-64 Leonard Street
London EC2A 4LT
Tel. +44-(0)20-7065 0945

Monday, November 10, 2008

Little care from the community

African solutions to problems like Zimbabwe will fail so long as leaders think only of their own electorates.

As yesterday's Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit floundered, Zanu-PF and MDC supporters who had gathered outside the venue in Johannesburg flung stones and insults.
The final communique from the SADC summit called for Zanu-PF and the MDC to form a unity government promptly and to divide equally control of the disputed home affairs ministry that supervises the police. The communique did not set out how the home affairs ministry will be shared. Tsvangirai rightly rejected SADC's proposal. Zanu-PF already controls the defence ministry. If this is equitable power sharing in the true sense, the MDC ought to have full control of the police.
There are four naked realities in SADC's failure to break the power sharing deadlock in Zimbabwe. First, the mantra about "African solutions to African problems" is vacuous. Yesterday's summit was attended by only five leaders from the 15-nation bloc. SADC once again failed to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, which has dragged on for eight years in its midst. Nor did it formulate concrete measures to deal with the Democratic Republic of Congo's unfolding humanitarian crisis and conflict between government troops and rebels.
For as long as the political calculus of African leaders remains unchanged they will pay lip-service to the idea of "African solutions to African problems". African politicians respond to factors that can win or lose elections. If there is no domestic electoral price to pay they can easily ignore or be indecisive about perceived foreign problems. This has been the case with the Zimbabwe crisis. No African leader has lost an election because they did not resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. African opposition parties and civil society need to make the resolution of African crises election issues in their respective domestic constituencies – only then will incumbent African politicians be motivated to act decisively.
Second, in spite of the MDC's majority in parliament and Tsvangirai amassing the most votes in the first presidential election round, Zanu-PF still regards the MDC as a subordinate party. Zimbabwean political culture, which is largely the product of Zanu-PF, does not allow for the accommodation of rival political parties unless they are willing to be junior partners.
Third, the lack of a majority of bona fide democrats amongst African leaders is crippling the march of democracy on the continent. In southern Africa, Angola staged less than free and fair elections in September while Zambia's presidential election last month was disputed. Swaziland is governed by an absolute monarch. The moral authority and political will for these countries to act as enablers of democracy in Zimbabwe are simply non-existent. And while other Southern African countries have held relatively free and fair multiparty elections in recent years this does not make them democracies. The enactment of laws in line with the general will, protecting human rights, respecting the rule of law and good governance are some of the other important ideals identified with substantive democracy, which the majority of Southern African countries flout regularly.
Fourth, Tsvangirai accused SADC of lacking the "courage and decency to look Robert Mugabe in the eyes" and instruct him to share power fairly with his party. However, it is more accurate to state that SADC lacks the institutional capacity to deal effectively with regional political crises. SADC was originally created as a regional economic development body – not a political community. While SADC has declared democratic norms and standards in recent years there are no punitive measures in place to guarantee that they are respected.
Meanwhile, back in Zimbabwe the queues for food, transport and worthless money lengthen and meander. There is no stomach for civil strife in the country. Few feel lucky. The lucky ones are those who manage to emigrate.

Lewis reaches out to women raped for supporting Zimbabwe's opposition

November 10, 2008

GABORONE, BOTSWANA -- Former United Nations ambassador Stephen Lewis is spearheading an effort to bring to justice perpetrators of politically motivated sexual violence in Zimbabwe, a powerful addition to existing attempts to hold Robert Mugabe's regime accountable for gross human-rights violations.
AIDS-Free World, an advocacy group founded last year by Mr. Lewis, is quietly collecting the testimony of women who survived gang rapes by leaders in Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, after the Zimbabwean President lost the first round of presidential elections in March.
Over the past week, international human-rights lawyers enlisted by Mr. Lewis collected sworn affidavits from eight women, all of them supporters or organizers for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change who were raped and brutally beaten after elections this past spring.
Each of the women described how her attackers, who openly identified themselves with Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, made clear that she was to be the victim of a systematic policy of punishment because she dared to challenge Mr. Mugabe's rule.

The stories the women tell are harrowing. "When they were finished with me, I could no longer stand," said Carol, 39, an MDC supporter from the southwest of Zimbabwe. (The identities of the women have been confirmed by The Globe and Mail but pseudonyms have been used here for their protection.) The ZANU militia men who had detained her made her crawl on her belly to the bored bureaucrat holding a list and sitting nearby, and tick off her name to acknowledge that she had had her punishment. "Mine was the fourth name on the list for that day." Her name crossed off, they moved on.
This is not the first effort to collect evidence of crimes against humanity committed by the Mugabe regime: Several Zimbabwean human-rights organizations are also working to gather and preserve evidence of state-sponsored human-rights abuses, which have typified the recent years of Mr. Mugabe's rule but exploded after the Zimbabwean leader lost the first round of the presidential election to the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai, the first open challenge to his authority in 28 years.
But Mr. Lewis's organization has some advantages. The AIDS-Free World team, which is U.S.-based, can operate much more freely than Zimbabwean lawyers and activists. Plus they have, through Mr. Lewis's long years as a politician and diplomat, access to resources and to influential people. The lawyers involved are experts in the field, some of whom have prosecuted war crimes and are donating their time.
"We're in a position to collect durable sworn affidavits that would hold up in any proceeding, so that if we end up somewhere like the International Criminal Court, a defence lawyer will not be able to throw it out," Mr. Lewis said in a telephone interview from Canada.
"The affidavits bear out that these attacks were directed at the political opposition in a very methodical way - the women chosen were chosen because they were part of the political opposition and the links made to ZANU-PF are unassailable."
Long concerned about the implosion of Zimbabwe, Mr. Lewis, the former UN special envoy for AIDS in Africa, was horrified to learn last summer from Betty Makoni, a firebrand Zimbabwean human-rights activist with whom he has worked on AIDS issues, about the systematic campaign of gang rape that accompanied the first election and the runoff vote in late June. Mr. Lewis and his co-director and long-time colleague Paula Donovan were soon making calls to try to figure out what they could do - to help victims, but equally important, to try to end the gross impunity with which Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF have operated.

SADC Fails to Salvage Unity Talks

By Hopewell Radebe and Dumisani Muleya

IN SPITE of SA saying it would take a tough line in a weekend summit to salvage Zimbabwe's power-sharing negotiations, the parties failed to put aside their differences at heated talks in Sandton last night.
President Kgalema Motlanthe opened yesterday's proceedings expressing his "disappointment" at the lack of progress, yet the parties still failed to make any breakthroughs on the vexed question of the division of cabinet posts.

SA was hosting the make-or-break summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders in its capacity as chair of SADC.
However, the SADC leaders failed to come up with a solution, except to support a suggestion of having two home affairs ministers to break the deadlock, which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) rejected.
The outcome of the meeting was bound to determine the fate of the faltering agreement between Zanu (PF) and two opposition MDC factions signed on September 15.
The parties have been fighting over the distribution of ministries and other matters related to the implementation of the deal ever since.
The leaders wanted the parties to agree on ministries and go back home to form a government and address outstanding issues later.
Motlanthe set the ball rolling with a strong opening address, a departure from the usually indirect and mild approach by SADC leaders.
Motlanthe said it was "disappointing" to realise Zimbabweans leaders were still haggling over ministries and other issues two months after the signing of the agreement.
"The historic power-sharing agreement signed on September 15 remains the vehicle to help extricate Zimbabwe from her socioeconomic challenges," he said.
"It is, however, disappointing that it is now two months since the signing of the agreement and the parties have not yet been able to conclude the discussions on the formation of an inclusive government."
Indirectly attacking President Robert Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the other smaller MDC faction leader, Arthur Mutambara, Motlanthe said the leaders needed to show "political maturity" to resolve the issue.
"The political leadership in Zimbabwe owe it to the people of Zimbabwe and the region to show political maturity by putting the interest of Zimbabwe first," he said.
"We urge the three parties to build on the achievement made thus far and reach an agreement on the outstanding issues, including the ministry of home affairs."
Apart from ministries, there was still the issue of sharing 10 provincial governors' positions, the appointment of ambassadors and permanent secretaries, the role, function and composition of the national security council, the amendment of the constitution to facilitate the agreement, and the arbitrary changing of the original agreement by Zanu (PF) under Mugabe's orders.
Mugabe is said to have insisted on his position of having two home affairs ministers shared between his Zanu (PF) and the MDC.
But Tsvangirai rejected this, saying he wanted "fair and equitable" allocation of ministries based on "clusters and functions" of the portfolios.
It is said Mugabe shook his head when Tsvangirai was making his presentation, prompting SADC leaders to urge him to show respect to his rival.
Mugabe argued he would not give home affairs to the MDC because the party was allegedly training militias in Botswana to destabilise Zimbabwe.
Several MDC activists were arrested and detained last week in connection with the issue, which the opposition says is a fabrication to divert attention from real issues.
Copyright © 2008 Business Day. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Large protests expected at SADC summit on Sunday

SW Radio Africa

Thousands of demonstrators are expected to take to the streets of Pretoria in South Africa on Sunday, during the SADC summit on Zimbabwe.
A wide coalition of placard waving Zimbabwean groups will march to the venue of the summit to hand over a petition to the regional grouping, calling on the leaders to stop the rot in Zimbabwe.
Leaders from the 15-nation SADC bloc will be meeting to discuss the deadlock in talks between Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe over the formation of a coalition government.
Nickson Nyikadzino, a pro-democracy activist, told us from Johannesburg that Zimbabweans in South Africa will register their discontent over Mugabe’s intransigence in forming an inclusive government. Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing agreement in September, but the establishment of a unity government has stalled as Mugabe shows that he is not prepared to fairly allocate important ministries to the MDC. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki and the SADC have been trying to broker an end to the dispute.
‘We want to send clear message to Mugabe and the SADC leaders that people in Zimbabwe are dying unnecessarily because ZANU PF does not want to share power equally with its partners in the tripartite power-sharing deal,’ Nyikadzino said.
He said Sunday’s march against the regime is expected to be by far the largest. Authorities in South Africa have remained tight-lipped over the summit venue but South African based journalist Brian Latham confirmed the crisis summit is to be held in Pretoria, although authorities have not said anything about the exact venue.
Nyikadzano said they have information that authorities are trying to frustrate them from going ahead with their protest, citing their unwillingness to disclose the summit venue. He said they are working round the clock to get that information before Sunday.
‘We know they (authorities) become averse when it comes to issues pertaining to protests against Mugabe whenever he’s in the country. But that won’t stop us from registering our disapproval against him and his party,’ Nyikadzino added.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe

Principle of non-interference no longer acceptable – Kikwete

The Chairman of the African Union and President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, has dismissed the principle of non interference in domestic affairs among African countries as being old and no longer acceptable.Kikwete who was addressing the 10th Ordinary session of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in Johannesburg South Africa, said that Africa is on the move and that the continent is currently undergoing tremendous changes in the rule of law and democracy, greater economic prosperity and deeper economic integration which means that all countries on the continent have a collective responsibility to ensure this trend.Noting that since the PAP was created in 2004, there have been elections in 45 countries on the continent, the Tanzanian President said that organisation and management of elections had improved.Commenting on regional political and economic integration on the continent, Kikwete said that recently an agreement was reached in the Ugandan capital of Kampala for negotiations to merge the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East Africa Community and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation and form one economic integration block to unite all countries in those blocs.He underscored that these were the first steps of politically and economically creating one united Africa.He further added that in recent decades, Africa has had an annual 5 percent economic growth rate and that if this was maintained, the continent had potential to become an economic powerhouse in the future."The global interest in Africa is an opportunity we cannot afford to lose," Kikwete cautioned the PAP members.He said that the continent is benefiting from the emergence of "a new breed of leaders that have introduced appropriate measures to change Africa for the better."Kikwete pointed out that in the past decades, Africa was known as a continent of doom but that today there has been improvement in changing this image."There is greater awareness on the evils of corruption. Democracy on the continent is becoming institutionalised except for isolated cases," the AU Chairman emphasised.The isolated cases he named include Darfur, Somalia, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Chad, Mauritania and Central African Republic."The AU peace and security force needs to be further empowered in early warning mechanisms and the detection of conflicts," Kikwete underscored.
- The New Times (Kigali)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Barrack Obama has been elected the 44th President of the United States of America. We congratulate Obama, his family, his campaign staff and indeed the whole of America.
To us, Obama's victory is a victory of hope, faith, change, a restart, values and dreams which have underpinned our fight as a movement against dictatorship and the neo-fascism of Robert Mugabe.Obama's victory will hopefully usher in a departure from the politics of polarization, fear, unilateralism and arrogance that has defined the Bush doctrine in the last eight years. Indeed, we hope that Obama will open new avenues of dialogue of new interaction based on respect of all countries irrespective of the size of national budgets or the number of fighter jets owned.
We also associate ourselves with the clear messages "to those who would tear this world down", and to those "who seek peace and security. Quite clearly, a full-stop has to be put to the years of plunder, dictatorship and corruption, civil wars, patronage and clientelism that has characterized many failed states particularly on the African continent.
We are mindful of the difficulties that lie ahead in Obama's path and the fact that this is no El Dorado, a construct that Obama himself acknowledges in his acceptance speech. Indeed it is a task that may take more than his two terms of office. Perhaps the greatest thing we have learnt from this victory is that democracy can work and that there is no alternative to the same.
John MacCain's speech was particularly humbling, instructive and inspiring. If in Africa, incumbents would accept defeat and would graciously depart from the seat of power, this would be a different continent, and indeed Zimbabwe would be a different place.
For those of us who are still in the trenches, fighting for change and democracy across the entire African continent, this is our victory.One which for now we will savour and celebrate.

Police shoot dead 5 illegal diamond miners in Marange

By Lance Guma
04 November 2008

Five illegal diamond miners were shot dead by police over the weekend in the Chiadzwa diamond fields of Marange District. According to human rights lawyer Passmore Nyakureba, police ‘drove’ the miners into an ambush using a helicopter, and fired tear gas and live ammunition. The miners had escaped from the diamond fields and were hiding in nearby mountains. Bloomberg news agency journalist Brian Latham told Newsreel that he spoke to Nyakureba over the phone and the lawyer confirmed these incidents have ‘become an almost everyday occurrence.’ The total number of miners killed could be much higher as more information keeps trickling in.
Due to the massive economic collapse in Zimbabwe thousands are flocking to the area in the hope of finding diamonds to alleviate their extreme poverty. The diamond fields were seized by the government from the UK based African Consolidated Resources Plc, and handed over to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation in 2006. With ZANU PF linked businessmen and politicians benefiting from the diamonds the security forces have been clamping down on everyone else outside the elite circle. Nyakureba told Bloomberg, ‘The situation in Chiadzwa resembles a war zone. People are being shot at or mauled by police dogs on a daily basis in the diamond area.’
Emphasizing the enormity of the problem is the fact that over 9000 illegal diamond miners were arrested by police in August this year alone, while nearly 2000 gems were confiscated in different raids. Only last year the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono admitted the country was losing US$ 400 million to illegal diamond smuggling. Making the picture even more complicated is the reported battle for control of the diamonds between the Reserve Bank, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation. ZANU PF bigwigs, including retired army General Solomon Mujuru, are taking advantage of the confusion and getting licences to mine the fields.
Other reports suggest the diamond fields are now run by the Presidents Office, in conjunction with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, who are granting licences for exporters. During the just ended elections the Reserve Bank was accused of sponsoring ZANU PF youth militia who terrorized and killed MDC activists before and after the elections. The bank has also been key in funding other repressive activities, outside its jurisdiction as a central bank. The link between the control of the diamonds and the funding of ZANU PF’s repressive machinery has not been lost on analysts.Meanwhile in a desperate bid to fight cash shortages the central bank has introduced new Z$100,000, Z$500,000 and Z$1 million bank notes. The bills are meant to be officially in circulation by Friday but reports indicate some foreign currency dealers already had the new notes on Tuesday. Only a few months ago the Reserve Bank dropped 10 zeroes off the currency. This was in addition to the previous removal of 3 zeroes made in 2006. Analysts say without proper political and economic reforms the measures from the central bank will just not work.