Pajamas Media interview

It seems last week was the week of interviews for yours truly. I appreciate the feedback left by those who stopped by even those who remain critics of our efforts to chronicle the Zimbabwean story. Undaunted by circumstance or criticism, we’ll continue to tell you the Zimbabwean story from an unheard perspective. This is an excerpt from my interview Richard Fernandez of Pajamas Media.

PJM: What happens next in Zimbabwe?

Zimpundit: This crisis continues while the world watches. With no oil, or “national security” interest for western powerhouses like the US, Zimbabweans are on their own as they continue to bear the brunt of the leadership’s poor choices.

South Africa, our biggest trade partner won’t intervene either because Mbeki considers Mugabe one of his own or because he’s enviously hatching plans to carry out his own atrocities, or both.

Zimbabweans must find it in themselves to negotiate a way out of the present situation. It will take more lives, it will take more suffering, it will take more pain, but we have no other choice.

The MDC leadership will be released with no charges because the state has no case against them. I suspect, having been brutalized once, both Mutambara and Tsvangirai will be out again urging people stand up against the cruel regime. And they’ll both have stronger credibility.

Because of their visible wounds and the fact that they have sacrificed their own bodies and led by example, more people will listen to them. Their wounds and tales of brutality have the potential to spell an end to ZANU-PF’s tyranny. If the government thinks they are going to get the MDC to back down, they have a surprise coming.

PJM: Are there any red lines left?

Zimpundit: The only thing remaining to happen is a public ground swell of people refusing to stand the oppression any longer. Zimbabweans have been pushed long enough, they’ve suffered long enough, all that remains is that their anguish be channeled toward one central place.

Sooner rather than later, there will be an out pouring of rage against the oppression. The economy has yet to grind to a complete stop. Keep in mind that it was the Tsvangirai led crowds that stoppped the nation in its tracks back in 1998 protesting against the cost of living. History has a funny way of repeating itself.

Richard also found some very interesting videos to go along with the article he wrote. Be sure to check both videos for some historical perspective.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Court personnel flee as the state fails to prefer charges against opposition activists

Despite enduring grotesque torture while in custody, Morgan Tsvangirai and the other MDC activists arrested on Sunday had to endure a two hour stalemate at the Rotten Row court complex as the personnel fled their posts. In a scene symbolizing the departure of justce from Zimbabwe, court staffers were no where to be found when over 50 detainees were brought before the court. This despite a standing order from the high court reinforcing the victims’ constitutional right to a speedy trial. Zimonline has an eyewitness recount of the ordeal;

Then the Zimbabwean justice system exposed itself once more to the world.

For more than two hours, we all waited for the remand hearing, hoping to hear what crime these political civic and political leaders had committed. For more than two hours, nothing happened.

No court official or magistrate turned up to kick off the hearing.

Then Advocate Eric Matinenga, representing Tsvangirai and his colleagues, stood and told the courtroom that all the court officials had fled their chambers. There was no one to hear the case.

This was clearly in contempt of court. On Monday night, High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu had ruled that all the arrested people should have access to legal and medical assistance, failure of which the State had to produce all the detainees at 8am the following morning.

(more…)

Drugged soldiers brutalized Tsvangirai

In one of the most harrowing accounts of the brutal beating endured by Tsvangirai, it has emerged that it was in fact the army that was unleashed on the opposition leadership.

A crack Commando unit based at the army’s Cranborne Barracks in Harare was responsible for the brutal torture of Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders on Sunday, according to a police officer who witnessed the assault.

The police officer, who is based at Machipisa Police Station in Highfield suburb, said Tsvangirai and the other opposition leaders were tortured for close to two hours by drugged soldiers disguised as police officers.

In an interview with ZimOnline on Tuesday, the police officer who cannot be named for security reasons, said: “I have been in the police force for three years, and I have been involved in the assault of suspects.

“But what I saw on Sunday was not assault. It was attempted murder, especially on Tsvangirai, Madhuku and Kwinjeh (Grace, the MDC deputy secretary for international affairs)”

Tsvangirai fainted three times during the murderous assault.

In a harrowing narration of what transpired behind the police walls to our correspondent in Harare, the police officer, speaking in hushed tones, said 12 Commandoes from Cranborne Barracks were responsible for the assault.

Even police officers were unnerved by the seriousness and brutality of the assault.

“They (soldiers) were dressed in police uniform and had bloodshot eyes. They told us they were police officers, but I managed to identify them as Commandoes because of the green army belts they were wearing on top of the uniforms.

“Only commandoes wear those. One of them announced that they had smoked a special grade of marijuana for the special mission. I witnessed the whole incident. Police officers from Machipisa were not involved. We were stunned at the ruthlessness.

“They were shouting and telling Tsvangirai that they could kill him on that night and nothing would happen to them,” said the officer.

The police officer said the beatings started at 11.45pm and lasted for more than two hours.

Read the complete account here.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Police murder man; arrest and torture opposition leadership

It has been a rough weekend for the MDC; not only were the two leaders of the party arrested and tortured, the police killed an opposition activist, and the state press blamed the MDC for the violence.

This from Monday’s edition of the state controlled Herald newspapers;

ONE person was shot dead by police and three police officers severely injured during an attack by MDC thugs, while opposition faction leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara were arrested for inciting people to engage in violence.

Other opposition leaders picked up were the Tsvangirai faction secretary general Tendai Biti, organising secretary Elias Mudzuri, Grace Kwinje, Sekai Holland and Job Sikhala, the latter aligned to the Mutambara faction.

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku was also arrested, ZBC News reported last night.

Police said the opposition leaders were observed going around Highfield inciting people to engage in violent activities.

Various opposition groups and civic organisations had planned to hold a political rally at Zimbabwe Grounds disguised as a prayer meeting.

Kubatana observantly notes that

The Herald is correct I think – it wasn’t a prayer meeting) which was disrupted by the ZRP in Highfields in Harare.

The media in Zimbabwe is owned and operated by the Mugabe regime. So Sunday’s aftermath, aka how the events are being portrayed, is in the hands of the State. Zimbabweans, since last night, are being force fed a diet of MDC thuggery, non-attendance and opposition violence.

This makes me wonder when the pro-democracy movement will get its act together in terms of creating its own robust media and information response unit.

Anyone who’s been following developments in Zimbabwe is hardly surprised it came to this for the Tsvangirai and Mutambara. ZANU-PF is scared of the opposition and real possibility they maybe faced with an insurmountable tide of anger. This is part of their fight or flight response to certain danger. Still, that doesn’t excuse the egregious human rights violations.

Here’s how bad things are inside the torture camps

The methods of torture are beating all over the body with baton sticks, falanga (beating the feet), pulling their teeth so they become loose, tying hands and feet together and hanging them up like that while they beat them. As I receive many of them at a medical facility in the city, I see it with my own eyes and hear their stories first hand.

What must be remembered is that severe torture, including the falanga, has long term effects, not just psychologically but also physically. The generally unknown statistics are those torture victims who die a year or two later as a result of the torture.

What the state is doing now is tantamount to another form of Genocide – “systematically dealing with the out group”. But no-one likes to recognise it as such. “It is too strong a word” I was told by the EU representative for Human rights two years ago when I presented them with a photographic record of five years of HR’s abuses in Zimbabwe. And warned them that much worse was still to come! If “that word” is used, then it means the UN and others are obliged to do something.

We know, as does the rest of the world, that the UN only acts “too late, with too little”. Ruwanda is the most horrific and recent example of this. The indications are here for us to see, the utterances by the misruling party make no bones about how they intend to deal with the opposition, and the armed forces (which includes the militia) have explicit instructions. I hope I am mistaken, but I do feel that bloodshed is not far off.

I hope that prediction is wrong.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

ICG Report on Zimbabwe creates buzz

International Crisis Group (ICG), a global political think tank released a report on Zimbabwe that has generated a lot of attention in cyberspace over the past 48 hours. Here’s the important stuff, the recommendations ICG makes in the report,

To the Government of Zimbabwe and ZANU-PF:

1. Abandon plans to extend President Mugabe’s term beyond its expiration in March 2008 and support SADC-led negotiations to implement an exit strategy for him no later than that date.

2. Negotiate with the MDC on a constitutional framework, power-sharing agreement, detailed agenda and benchmarks for a two-year political transition, beginning in March 2008, including:

(a) adoption of a constitutional amendment in the July 2007 parliamentary session providing for nomination in March 2008, by two-thirds majority, of a non-executive president, an executive prime minister and de-linking of government and ZANU-PF party positions;

(b) a power-sharing agreement leading in early 2008 to a transitional government, including ZANU-PF and the MDC, tasked with producing a new draft constitution, repealing repressive laws, drawing up a new voters roll and demilitarising and depoliticising state institutions in accordance with agreed timelines and benchmarks, and leading to internationally supervised elections in 2010; and

(c) implementation of an emergency economic recovery plan to curb inflation, restore donor and foreign investor confidence and boost mining and agricultural production, including establishment of a Land Commission with a strong technocratic base and wide representation of Zimbabwean stakeholders to recommend policies aimed at ending the land crisis.

3. Abandon plans for a new urban displacement program and act to redress the damage done by Operation Murambatsvina by:

(a) providing shelter to its homeless victims; and

(b) implementing the recommendations of the Tibaijuka Report, including compensation for those whose property was destroyed, unhindered access for humanitarian workers and aid and creation of an environment for effective reconstruction and resettlement.

To the Movement for Democratic Change:

4. Proceed with internal efforts to establish minimum unity within the party and a common front for dealing with the government and ZANU-PF and contesting presidential and parliamentary elections, while retaining reunification as the ultimate goal.

5. Hold internal consultations between faction leaders to adopt a joint strategy aiming at:

(a) finalising negotiations with ZANU-PF over constitutional reforms, a power-sharing agreement and formation of a transitional government in March 2008; and

(b) preparing for a March 2008 presidential election if negotiations with ZANU-PF fail, and President Mugabe retains power.

To Zimbabwean and South African Civil Society Organisations:

6. Initiate legal proceedings in South African courts to attach any assets stolen from the Zimbabwean government and transferred to or invested in South Africa and to obtain the arrest and prosecution of egregious Zimbabwean human rights abusers visiting South Africa.

To SADC and South Africa:

7. Engage with the U.S. and the EU to adopt a joint strategy for resolving the crisis that includes:

(a) mediation by SADC of negotiations for an exit deal on expiration of President Mugabe’s term in 2008 and of an agreement between ZANU-PF and the MDC on a power-sharing transitional government to oversee development of a new constitution, repeal repressive laws and hold internationally supervised presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010; and

(b) understandings on the use by the U.S. and EU of incentives and disincentives to support the strategy in regard to targeted sanctions, political relations with the transitional government and resumption of assistance.

8. Engage with the Zimbabwe government to facilitate talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC leading to the above steps.

9. Convene an urgent meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation to consider the regional consequences of the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe and recommend action by the Heads of State summit to deal with the situation.

To the United States and the European Union:

10. Engage with SADC countries to adopt the above-mentioned joint strategy, including understandings on timelines and benchmarks to be met by the Zimbabwean authorities in restoring and implementing a democratic process.

11. Increase pressure on President Mugabe and other ZANU-PF leaders if they do not cooperate with efforts to begin a transition and restore democracy, including by taking the following measures to close loopholes in targeted personal sanctions:

(a) apply the sanctions also to family members and business associates of those on the lists;

(b) cancel visas and residence permits of those on the lists and their family members; and

(c) add Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono to the EU list.

12. Portugal, holding the EU Presidency in the second half of 2007, should not invite President Mugabe and other members of the Zimbabwe government or ZANU-PF on the EU targeted sanctions list to the EU-AU summit unless significant reforms have already been undertaken.

13. Increase funding for training and other capacity-building assistance to democratic forces in Zimbabwe.

To the United Nations Secretary-General:

14. Assign a senior official – a new Special Envoy to Zimbabwe, the Special Adviser to the Secretary General on Africa or a high-level member of the Department of Political Affairs – responsibility for the Zimbabwe portfolio including to support the SADC-led initiative, and monitor the situation for the Secretary General.

To the United Nations Security Council:

15. Begin discussions aimed at placing the situation in Zimbabwe on the agenda as a threat to international peace and security.

To the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or in the alternative the Human Rights Council:

16. Initiate a follow-up investigation on the Tibaijuka Report, including plans for a new urban displacement campaign, arrests of informal miners and political repression, and recommend actions to the member states, the Security Council and the Secretariat.

To the Commonwealth Secretariat:

17. Encourage Commonwealth member countries in Southern Africa to help mediate a political settlement for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, setting benchmarks for a return of the country to the organisation.

18. Establish a group of Eminent Persons to engage with Zimbabwe, using the good offices of its regional members to facilitate access.

19. Work through Commonwealth civil society organizations to build up civil society capacity in Zimbabwe.

I can’t say the report, recommendations, or all the attention it is getting have me jumping out of my seat. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to dismiss the report either, there’s clearly been a diligent effort by the group to document the status quo in Zimbabwe today.
(more…)

Eddie Cross: The farm Situation today

Set out below is a letter from a lowveld farmer on an irrigation farm. It describes what has been going on there for the past few months. The ceizure of farm equipment was done by Police and Army details useing force. It was declared illegal and the High Court ordered the equipment returned. We are talking here of many million of US dollars worth of equipment. When they eventually colected the equipment – it had been vandalised to the point where it was no longer operational. Jambanja is a term used to describe the use of a mob to terrorise the occupants of a home on a targetted farm. It is often accompanied by physical violence, noise and fire damage to property.

The campaign is carried out on an ethnic basis – white farmesr are the targets. It is completely illegal and destructive. Farms taken over in this way quickly become derilect and unproductive.

Eddie Cross
18th October 2006

Muroyi,

Pardon my poor responses to your e-mails. My mind is a bit cluttered for the moment by the reappearance of what I thought was behind us.

There’s been a turn for the worse again. We were told to fetch our illegally seized equipment from the various police stations, starting on 20th September. This, after explicit high court orders to do so in Dec 2005. We were able to access about 60% of what they took from us. It is all very badly vandalized and abused. None of the tractors were mobile. All the many trailers and towable implements no longer had tyres, etc. Those unfortunates who’d had their expensive centre pivots uplifted by the police team last year had to pick through the jumble of pipes, wheels, motor, gearboxes computerized control panels, etc where they had been simply dumped last year. Never used, some even had the original paper labels on.

What a wicked exercise last year’s seizures by government agents was.

We finally completed the recovery of what was available, on 26th September. The Ministry of lands immediately slapped a fresh order on all the premises where the equipment had been temporarily stored! It was in the form of a notice of “Intention to Acquire” our equipment, some kind of perverted pretence of following “procedure”. The long and short of it is that our equipment has been re-embargoed. In its present state it cannot ever be used, and the state’s agents know this. The act was out of spite and revenge for losing the court actions all along the line! A twisted attempt to “save face” perhaps.

There is a new spate of farm evictions.You have no doubt read about it in the media. All the eviction notices are illegal. There is no provision in law to issue any. In the haste last year to change the constitution and nationalise the land, the ZG omitted to include an eviction clause.
(more…)

Mugabe chastizes party on corruption, succession

Apparently frustrated by his party’s penchant for a quick buck and lust for power, Mugabe bombarded his party’s top members not once but twice over the weekend. Speaking to ZANU’s central committee on Friday Mugabe lashed out at the members over corruption saying,

These cases of [members] wanting to enrich themselves are increasing in number. You are not being fair — some people are just being crookish. Zanu-PF is going to embark on a major cleansing exercise to remove those elements bent on tarnishing the image of the party by their wayward behaviour with their private and public lives.

The aged leader, did not leave any stone unturned in his long harangue. Taking a swipe at the MDC over recent violence within the party, Mugabe charged lies and violence were seated deep within the party. He contended this was something western powers refused to listen to. He alsoissued a thinly veiled threat to the MDC about their planned mass action saying he wanted police given more powers to crush such revolts. He continued saying the only way to secure power was by election.

On Saturday the Central Committee found themselves under Mugabe’s cross hairs when Mugabe characterized some of them as rabidly power hungry.

The things we hear about succession, succession, succession — zvatinonzwa zvacho, zvakaoma. Hapana zvakadaro. If I were to write books, I would write volumes and volumes of nonsensical things. Vamwe vanoenda kun’anga kuti ndinoda kuita ichi. Imi weee . . . N’anga huru is the people of Zimbabwe. Hazvina n’anga mukati izvi. (We hear lots of unbelievable stories about succession. We hear some people are consulting witchdoctors . . . but the biggest witchdoctor is the people of Zimbabwe. There is no need to consult witchdoctors.)

“If you do your work and work with the people well, the people will recognise you. Unhu hwako tinenge tichida kuti hunge huri hwakanaka.” (We want people with dignity.)

Fascinating. (more…)

Weekend Reading

The Muckraker, the Independent’s satirist is juicy this week. The installment lampoons the contradictions of the Mugabe regime highlighting their onesided mentality.

Muckraker also critizes Mugabe’s press secretary George Charamba, who, while writing under the Nathaneil Manheru nom de plum, savagely attacked Jonathan Moyo in a clearly tribalistic and xenophobic outburst.

It was Jonathan Moyo, the former information minister, who outed Charamba as the impetus behind the Manheru’s bitter protests against all government critics almost a year ago. Now, he finds himself, the object such an attack.

Known for his ascerbic two forked tongue, the former minister wasted no time firing back in this article carried by New Zimbabwe, one the Zimbabwean publications with a soft spot for the former minister best known for presiding over the closure of four newspapers deemed unfriendly.

Apparently unsatisfied by the the attention Moyo’s response garnered, New Zimbabwe editorial core decided to spinoff a tabloid style headline, “Charamba tried to kill wife…”

This should making for some fascinating reading for your weekend!

Technorati Tags: , ,

Eddie Cross: “Breakdown or Breakthrough

I walked into a business here in Bulawayo this morning to discover that the staff was basically cleaning up prior to shutting down. The owners were already in South Africa – they had left without telling many friends that they were going. This is an event taking place across the country right now – business people are deciding that they have had enough. They cannot export at ruling exchange rates, local demand has simply disappeared and they have no raw materials and no cash to continue operating.

The Zimbabwe economy is closing down – literally. We have inflation now at nearly 1200 per cent per annum (28 per cent in May and 21 per cent in April so it is still accelerating). But unlike the situation in most other countries that have experienced hyperinflation, the Zimbabwe economy is imploding at the same time. GDP is now down about 50 per cent, exports by two thirds and if it is at all possible, output in all sectors – mining, agriculture, industry is down again this year over last.

The reasons for the implosion in the economy are largely self-inflicted. They rank from open threats against owners of businesses, expropriation and theft of assets by people associated with the ruling Party. The near collapse of the legal system and massive political interference with what is left. To this you can add total confusion in terms of macro economic, monetary and fiscal policy. Totally skewed exchange rates accompanied by wholesale theft of revenues and the misuse of scarce resources allocated on a patronage basis.

In recent weeks the reports of accelerated decline have poured in – gold output down by a third on last year, winter cropping down 50 per cent, electricity supplies down to 70 per cent of demand and threatening economic activity across the board. The tobacco crop down by a third and prospects that the coming crop could be very small – perhaps less than 20 000 tonnes. Industrial activity shrinking fast and, if it was at all possible, the numbers of foreign tourists still dropping.
(more…)

“Live Within Your Means. Do not Support Corruption”

Pat is a registered nurse in his early 40’s working at a hospital in Zimbabwe’s northeastern Mount Darwin district. In Zimbabwe’s hyper-infaltionary economy supporting his family has become a distant dream. “It’s not too much to ask is it,” he pondered, as he began to explain how difficult things have been for him in recent months.

“This hasn’t been a good start to the year,” he tells me. In January of this year, Pat struggled to find a place for his daughter to enroll for “form 1” (8th grade). “I really wanted her to go to Bradley Institute (a Salvation Army Mission High School), but when I when to talk to them I didn’t have the money they wanted.” He adds, “I’m a qualified nurse, I should be able to afford a decent education for my kids.”

Dejected, he resorted to sending her to a school he could afford which also meant it isn’t as good. He found place for his daughter at Mavhuradonha high school, a boarding school run by the Evangelical Church. “Anna (his daughter) doesn’t like it there, but what can I do?” If she doesn’t like the school, how can a 13 year old be motivated to succeed?

Last week Pat’s outlook turned even bleaker. Apparently the school invited all parents to come for a “consultation day.” Pat is not sure he wants to attend the consultation day meetings. It’s not because he is disinterested in his daughter’s academic wellbeing that he doesn’t want to go. “I’ve been hearing rumors that they want to double school fees to 40 million and they plan to announce it at the consultation day.” His plan by staying away from the meetings is to avoid confirming what has become inevitable in Zimbabwe’s economy riddled by inflation at 1,000% inflation; ever increasing prices.
(more…)