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April 2008

Monday, 28 April 2008

The victims of the killing squads

How Mugabe's hard men are attempting to eliminate the opposition activists

Many totally innocent and non-political Zimbabweans have fallen victim to the Zanu-PF terror gangs who roam both town and countryside today. But behind the picture of random persecution and death it is possible to isolate many deliberate and targeted attacks. Here are two of them.

Tichanzii Gandanga was the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party's election agent for Harare province, and indeed, with no thanks to Robert Mugabe, he still is. But he can barely stand today, let alone walk. Last Wednesday, at about 6.0 pm, four men arrived suddenly at his central Harare office.

"They told me I knew my crimes, and had to confess," Gandanga told me, from his bed in a private hospital, which I've been asked not to name.

Continue reading "The victims of the killing squads" »

Friday, 25 April 2008

The charge is high treason!

The machiavellian plan that lies behind today's raids

Harare, Zimbabwe, April 25, 16.30

Sources high in the Zanu-PF police and security forces confirmed for me today that behind today's widely-reported raids on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and other offices lies a plot to arraign leading opposition figures on trumped-up charges of high treason.

Targeted for arrest and subsequent accusation are the MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti, the party spokesman Nelson Chamisa, and the executive director of the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) Rindai Chipfunde-Vava.

My sources tell me that the effect will be to ensure that, even if the courts eventually throw out the charges, the MDC and the ZESN will be effectively paralysed. And with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Botswana and fearing for his life, Zanu-PF will be free to continue their campaign of intimidation and terror.

Fortunately all three of the targeted indivuduals - Chamisa, Biti and Chipfunde-Vava - were tipped off about the raids and have gone into hiding. The arrests that were made mainly involved victims of militia violence, who were at the MDC offices to seek sanctuary.

Continue reading "The charge is high treason!" »

Thursday, 24 April 2008

"Someone hacked at my legs with a machete"

How one man escaped death at the hands of a Zanu-PF terror squad

It was midnight last Tuesday, and 55-year-old Manyika Kashiri was asleep in the Chigumbu village home in Uzumba that he shares with his wife and four grandchildren. Without warning 50 War Veterans and Zanu-PF youth militia came calling.

They threw stones through his windows and pounded on his door. They shouted curses, demanding to know why he had voted against Mugabe in the election. And it was true, Manyika had indeed, like millions of his fellow-Zimbabweans, voted for Morgan Tsvangirai and the oppositon MDC.

For a few frightening moments Manyika hesitated. But he knew he had to go out and face the mob, to protect his wife and grandchildren. He stepped through the door.

"At once I was hit in the face with a piece of wood. Then somone hacked at my legs with a machete, and I fell. At once they started beating me all over my body, cutting at me with their weapons.

Continue reading ""Someone hacked at my legs with a machete"" »

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

A small sign of big things to come?

The words of a government mouthpiece may betray a change of thinking at the top

An article in today's (April 23) Herald, the state-run newspaper normally considered to be the direct voice of the Zimbabwe government, appears to concede that Zanu-PF cannot claim victory in the current elections, and calls instead for a "transitional government of national unity."

It criticises leaders of Zanu-PF, and seems to suggest that for the first time the government must accept the prospect of sharing power with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The author of the article is Dr. Obediah Mukura Mazombwe, and much of his piece rehearses the familiar arguments that blame all Zimbabwe's ills on the West, particularly what he calls the "Anglo-American establishment."

But he goes on to say this: "Indeed the Zimbabwean situation is 'dire', but not all is lost. Zimbabwe and Africa and the progressive international community can turn it around."

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Monday, 21 April 2008

Now they are recounting the recounts

The real reason why it's all taking so long

It has been difficult to believe that the Zimbabwe elections, both parliamentary and presidential, could be more farcical, more convoluted, and more shameful. But they could, and they are. And my reliable source within the Zimbabe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is watching it happen.

This is what he reports: the recounts of both votes, which are unjustified and quite possibly illegal, began on Saturday - and by halfway through the afternoon it became quite clear to the Zanu-PF officials in attendance that those doing the counting had mis-counted yet again.

There were the piles of votes. The recounts of 16 parliamentary constituencies had been completed. Each had originally been won by the MDC. Each, in the recount, had also been won by the MDC - in some cases, by an even greater majority than before.

The Presidential election recount was also proceeding on schedule. The original count gave MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai a clear and conclusive lead over President Robert Mugabe of Zanu-PF. And the recount? Yes, it was showing very much the same result.

Continue reading "Now they are recounting the recounts" »

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Is the UN finally getting involved?

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon promises talks at UN summit

Hopes for more international pressure on Mugabe and his government grew this weekend with a statement by Mr. Ban, Secretary General of the UN, to the effect that he will hold talks with a number of African rulers on Zimbabwe during a forthcoming UN summit in Ghana. He said the aim would be to "get developments there back to normal."

He was speaking only hours after his predecessor, Kofi Annan, urged African leaders to do more to address the crisis in our country. "Where are the Africans?" he asked. "Where are their leaders and the countries in the region, what are they doing?"

Meanwhile most observers are still wondering what Mugabe's government is doing, apart of course from conducting the farcical and hopelessly flawed partial "recount" of certain constituency polls.

I can reveal one of their other schemes which, if successful, will sideline the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai, render his presidential election victory null and void, and allow Mugabe to be voted back as president against an acceptable degree of opposition.

Continue reading "Is the UN finally getting involved?" »

Friday, 18 April 2008

'Down with the British!'

Mugabe's message on Indepence Day

"Down with the British. Down with thieves who want to steal our country" - that was President Robert Mugabe's messasge to 15,000 Zimbabweans who gathered at a rally in Gwanzura Stadium, in the Highfield suburb of Harare, to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the end of white minority rule.

He called on Zimbabweans to be vigilant in the face of "vicious British machinations", and said the government was attempting to deal with Zimbabwe'sw economic problems, including hyper-inflation, high unemployment, and the shortage of food.

Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, speaking in Johannesburg, said that this anniversary was "the saddest independence day since our liberation from colonial rule."

In Durban the controversial Chinese freighter, bearing a cargo of arms and ammunition for the Zanu-PF government, remains unloaded. The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union refused to undertake the work, saying that it did "not agree with the position of the government not to intervene."

Thursday, 17 April 2008

What are Chinese troops doing on Zimbabwe's streets?

Armed and uniformed Chinese force reported to be on patrol

Mystery surrounds alleged sightings of a troop of 20 armed Chinese soldiers, said to be patrolling the streets of Mutare, the eastern border town, shoulder-to-shoulder with Zimbabwean security forces this week.

The Chinese, witnesses say, patrol in full uniform, and carry pistols, and their sudden appearance has terrified some local residents. The unit formed part of a heavy security deployment in the city centre, used to crush the MDC's nationwide strike designed to force the release of the election results.

The Chinese Embassy in Harare has denied any knowledge of Chinese troops in the area, and has suggested that they might be a privately-hired force, there to protect the interests of local Chinese-owned companies.

The Chinese unit is believed to be accommodated in the Holiday Inn in the centre of Mutare. Their behaviour in the hotel has caused comment amongst the hotel employees.

Continue reading "What are Chinese troops doing on Zimbabwe's streets?" »

South Africa falls in line

Latest statement from the ANC government urges release of results

Supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the opposition MDC, were surprised and delighted today when South Africa joined the international pressure on Zimbabwe and urged the immediate release of the results of last month's presidential elections.

The statement, demanding that the results be released "as soon as possible" clearly indicates the widening gulf on the issue of Zimbabwe between the South African government and its outgoing president, Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki's likely successor, Jacob Zuma, has had recent talks with Tsvangiria, and is thought to be more sympathetic to his cause.

Violence on campus

Zimbabwe students make themselves heard - with songs and stones

While British PM Gordon Brown was in New York accusing Mugabe of trying to steal the election, anti-Mugabe violence broke out here yesterday for the first time since the vote. Students at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo rioted in protest over the delayed results.

With more than two weeks gone, and still no announcement, the students began their protest by gathering outside the university buildings and singing songs denouncing the Zanu-PF regime. Then they began to stone the buildings.

University spokesman Busani Bufana, while confirming that there were disturbances on campus, refused to say how much damage was done. But it is known that the college food shop had its windows and doors broken, and its stock looted.

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