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May 2008

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Another target for assassination

As the prospect of election defeat looms for Mugabe, his men target their former comrade-in-arms

The threats against the life of Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai may have declined recently, partly due to world-wide warnings that he was in danger. But now another figure, less well known internationally, is looming large in the cross-hairs of Zimbabwe's experienced state assassins.

He is former Zanu-PF politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa, who left the party in February this year when it officially adopted Robert Mugabe as its presidential candidate. Dabengwa now allies himself closely with failed candidate Simba Makoni, who has declared his support for Tsvangirai in the run-off election on June 27.

The reason why the military junta now sustaining Mugabe in power wants Dabengwa dead is this:  as former intelligence supremo with the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), he still retains support amongst army officers and security personel, particularly those from the Matabeleland region.

Junta leaders forese the following scenario: in the event, widely anticipated, that Tsvangirai wins the run-off, they will mount a coup to save their lives and their fortunes. Dabengwa is one of the few men who could stop them.

Continue reading "Another target for assassination" »

Thursday, 29 May 2008

The big 'What if..?'

Could providence take a hand in the coming election?

What follows is little more than idle speculation, I admit. Neither is it wishful thinking, for surely no man should ever hope for the demise of another. But I can accurately report that amongst the faithful in our ruling Zanu-PF party there are anxious doubts as to whether their beloved President Mugabe can last the course.

At the weekend, 84-year-old Mugabe stood up at Party HQ in Harare, faced the live television cameras, and began his usual denunciation of all who oppose him, Americans, Brits, Martians, whoever...and then he stopped. And coughed. And coughed. And coughed.

For nearly ten minutes Mugabe was shaken with spasms. His speech ground to a halt. A glass of water didn't help. Three doctors who rushed podium-wise were waved away. Wife Grace, three metres away, sat and waited, as if she'd seen all this before.

Continue reading "The big 'What if..?'" »

Sunday, 25 May 2008

New hope as Tsvangirai returns

The opposition leader defies death threats to witness the suffering of his supporters.

Dismissing growing accusations of cowardice, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's oppositon, was back home in Harare yesterday, Saturday, and seeing for himself the results of the systematic programme of terror instituted against his people by Mugabe's Zanu-PF militia.

Tsvangiria, leader of the opposition Movement for Demcratic Change (MDC) and winner of the recent parliamentary and presidential elections, toured the wards of a private clinic where dozens of wounded MDC activisits are struggling to recover.

He came to bring words of comfort, but was met by strong assurances of continued support by the victims.

Two elderly brothers - August (66) and Beson Jemidzi (54) - occupying adjacent beds, told him: "Kurova Zvavo asi tinemi!" (They might beat us but we are behind you." Neither men are yet able to walk.

Continue reading "New hope as Tsvangirai returns" »

Thursday, 22 May 2008

No end to the butchery

At last we learn what happened to Tonderai Ndira

For the Ndira family the agony began a week ago. Tonderai Ndira, an MDC activist was abducted from his Harare home by 10 armed men, and driven away. His family spent seven dreadful days wondering what his fate would be. Now they know. He was murdered.

His body was found, almost by accident, in a hospital mortuary. Opposition activists had gone to the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare to collect the bodies of two other murdered party members. They found the two corpses. And that of Mr. Ndira.

He had been stabbed more than ten times. His throat was slit. His legs were broken. His head was grossly swollen. Everything indicated severe ill-treatment before death.

Continue reading "No end to the butchery" »

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Tsvangirai cancels his return

The opposition leader pulls out of a homecoming rally

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has cancelled what was expected to be a triumphant appearance back in the country today, Sunday. The news will deeply disappoint many, and lead to further criticism that Tsvangirai has run away while his supporters are beaten and killed.

The plan had entailed the party leader flying in to attend a rally in the second city of Bulawayo, as the first steps in the campaign for the presidential run-off election on June 27.  There was to be no advance notice or publicity. But news of the visit leaked out, resulting in fears for his security.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC, would only say this: "We can't say why he will not be coming today, except to say it's due to circumstances beyond our control."

These "circumstances" are believed to include the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and military intelligence going to high alert, as soon as they heard of Tsvangirai's possible appearance. Squads of militia were detailed to snatch him when he addressed the rally, on charges of encouraging violence.

Meanwhile more forces were deployed in every suburb of the city, with instructions from Army Commander Constantine Chiwenga and Police boss Augustine Chihuri to use "maximum force" against any celebrating MDC supporters.

Disappointed MDC activisits said the rally would go ahead as planned - but sadly without its star attraction.

Friday, 16 May 2008

New election run-off date

Government announces election to be held June 27

It looks like my government source had his information slightly wrong yesterday when I revealed to you that the date for the run-off of the presidential election would be in August. My apologies.

It was announced today in a government gazette that the poll would be taking place on June 27 - still more than a month after May 24, which was when the MDC were expecting the election to be called.

The government has introduced an emergency law that allows it to call the election within 90 days of the results of the first round being released, hence perhaps my source's confusion. Previously the deadline for the second round was within three weeks, which is where the date of May 24 came from.

The opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has confirmed he will contest the poll but there are widespread fears here that Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF will use the additional time to harass and intimidate MDC voters.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

No election until August

Zanu-PF delay the run-off election to give their campaign of terror time to work

Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday May 14, 5 pm

Ahead of announcements expected in Zimbabwe's state-run media tomorrow, I can reveal that the date of the much-anticipated Presidential election run-off will be 90 days after May 2, the date of the official announcement of the disputed results.

This means the poll will be in August, and not as expected on May 24. The news comes as a shock to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which had anticipated that, as stated in the Electoral Act, the run-off would take place just 21 days after the official announcement.

My government source tells me that the decision has been taken by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission after its arm was twisted by Mugabe's Joint Operation Command. The Central Intelligence Organsiation has reported that the terror campaign in the countryside, fully reported on this page, has been effective, but more time is needed to ensure a satisfactory run-off result.

The source said: "In 90 days Zanu-PF will make sure the MDC  is dead and buried. The militia will beat everyone into voting for Mugabe."

Monday, 12 May 2008

The barbarity continues

Another atrocity against the people of Zimbabwe

As our politicians squabble, debate, impose conditions and argue, as international statesmen fudge and mumble their vague support for our suffering, it is easy to forget that down the dust roads and rural tracks of this country a daily horror is taking place. This is another eye-witness account.

The village of Chiweshe is near the small town of Mazoe, some 150 kilometres north of Harare. A Zanu-PF militia force, numbering about 20 and led, I am informed, by retired army major Cairo Mhandu, arrived at the village late one night last week.

Four residents of the village, all of them known to be activists and supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were rounded up. Then, while other villages were forced to watch, the torture began.

Continue reading "The barbarity continues" »

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Day by day the pressure grows

How Zanu-PF is attempting to make sure that if votes are cast, they are for Mugabe

While the bullying, beatings and killings continue in the countryside, in the towns it's a case of death threats, imprisonment, and dirty tricks. Zanu-PF appears willing to try every move in the book to make sure that if there is a full re-run of the presidential election it will end in victory for Robert Mugabe.

Whether the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai will agree to the re-run still hangs in the balance at the time of writing. But meanwhile the Mugabe men are going into overdrive.

In prison this morning are two journalists - Davison Maruziva, editor of the weekly independent Standard, and Howard Burditt, a Reuters photographer.Their crime, apparently, is being journalists.

Continue reading "Day by day the pressure grows" »

Tuesday, 06 May 2008

Women face violence on our streets

The violent end to a peaceful demonstration by Zimbabwe's women

Harare, Zimbabwe, May 6

Yesterday I stood in the streets of Bulawayo and watched Mugabe's riot police launch a savage attack on a peaceful demonstration by the women's civic organisation, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).

Some hundreds of WOZA members had gathered to march in protest at the politically motivated violence which has left more than 20 supporters of the opposition MDC dead and hundreds injured and homeless. Their intention was to march to the High Court with a demand that the election by a clear majority of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as President be declared official.

Before the march could begin a police riot squad arrived on the scene and began attacking the demonstrators, mostly women and children, with batons. Several arrests were made, and many injuries suffered. But worse was to come.

Continue reading "Women face violence on our streets" »

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