Sunday, December 21, 2008

African Churches Plead With AU to Intensify Pressure on Mugabe

WCC News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Zimbabweans urged to eat wild fruits

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time of essence in Zimbabwe cholera epidemic

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

Zimbabwe goes from bad to worse

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

Security Council Poised to Discuss Zimbabwe

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

Pressure increases on South Africa to deal with Robert Mugabe

Catherine Philp,
Diplomatic Correspondent

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

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

By Alex Bell
09 December 2008

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

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Statement on International Human Rights Day Commemorations


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

Statement on International Human Rights Day Commemorations

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

Defending Academic Freedoms in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

S.Africa against any move to send troops to Zimbabwe

PRETORIA (Reuters)

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

African Union rejects tougher Zimbabwe action

By Nelson Banya
Dec 9 (Reuters)

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

Monday, December 8, 2008

New Attacks on Human Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe

Dear Friends,

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

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

3 December 2008

To: The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

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

Your Excellencies,

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

Zimbabwe Advocacy Office in Geneva

World YWCA

World Student Christian Federation (WSCF)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mugabe hints at early polls

NATION Correspondent

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

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Running battles between soldiers and police in Harare

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

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

ZESN Wins French Human Rights Award

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

Open Letter to Thabo Mbeki

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

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

Soldiers go on rampage again, loot shops

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

Monday, December 1, 2008

UN Chief Asks Robert Mugabe to Share Power in Secret Meeting

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