- 'Mugabe is set on ruining Zimbabwe'
Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe have hit a new low with Foreign
Office minister Peter Hain accusing President Mugabe of ruining the
By ANDREW MELDRUM in Harare
ITH less than three weeks to Zimbabwe's crucial parliamentary
elections, the British government launched an unprecedented attack on
President Robert Mugabe, charging that he is determined to hold unfair
elections and to ruin the country's economy.
"Neither Britain nor the international community can make this election fair. Only
Robert Mugabe can do that, and he seems determined not to," the Foreign Office
minister, Peter Hain, said. "Neither Britain nor the international community can
solve the land problem or reverse Zimbabwe's economic decline. Only Robert
Mugabe can do so, and he shows no sign of wanting to."
Hain's criticism was contained in a
faxed statement released by the British
high commission in Harare yesterday. It
came as international observers arrived
to monitor the elections, including an
estimated 200 from the EU. Others
came from the Commonwealth.
In the run-up to the elections on June
24-25, Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has
unleashed a widespread campaign of
violence against the opposition that has
taken 30 lives. Thousands more
opposition supporters have been
beaten, raped and tortured.
In the latest reported incident, ruling
party militants attacked teachers and
health workers, forcing many to flee
their clinics and schools, an independent
monitoring group and Zimbabwe's main
opposition party said yesterday.
Many of those injured in the violence
last month in northeast Zimbabwe were also barred from entering medical clinics,
the Community Working Group on Health said.
Mugabe's relations with Hain have been strained ever since his outspoken
criticism in March, when customs officials in Harare opened and inspected the
contents of several British diplomatic bags. At the time, Hain described the move
as "not the action of a civilised country," remarks that many in Zimbabwe found
deeply offensive. Mugabe has since launched numerous outspoken attacks on
Tony Blair's government.
The president refused to allow Britons to participate in the EU and
Commonwealth observer teams. The British government decided it was more
important to get international observers on the ground than insist on its right to
participate. In any case, Britons are in the senior ad ministration of both the EU
and Commonwealth teams.
"We are not going to pre-empt the observers' verdict or the verdict of the people
of Zimbabwe. To pre-empt would be to play Robert Mugabe's game," Hain said.
"He wants to run this election with Britain as the opposition and we are not going
"We are in close contact with partners from the Commonwealth, European
commission and the United Nations. We have expressed our concerns and we
will be monitoring closely reports from the election observers," he added.
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is facing its strongest challenge since coming to power
20 years ago. The new Movement for Democratic Change has fielded candidates
in all 120 constituencies, the first time an opposition party has done so since
In the rural areas, where 65% of the people live, Zanu-PF officials have told
peasants that their vote will not be secret, and that they will be killed if they vote
for the MDC. Many of the subsistence farmers believe the threats and are afraid
to vote for the opposition. An international presence in the rural areas is badly
needed. A countrywide voter education campaign is also needed to counteract
the misinformation, but neither the EU nor the Commonwealth appear prepared
to participate in such a move.
Despite the brutality and propaganda, events are not favouring Mugabe. The
country's six month-old fuel shortage noticeably worsened this week, with queues
of hundreds of cars, taxis, trucks and tractors stretching throughout Harare and
the rest of the country. Police had to use teargas to restore order at besieged
service stations. Thousands of township households are also affected because the
country has run out of paraffin, the main fuel for cooking. The fuel shortage is
widely viewed by black and white Zimbabweans alike as the fault of the Zanu-PF
government. They blame corruption and disastrous economic policies.
Mugabe tried to blame Britain for the crippling shortages, claiming that a British
ship was following tankers bringing fuel to the country and offering them double
the price to take it elsewhere.
"The British are interfering with our fuel supplies," he said. "They are trying to
divert ships with fuel for this country. That is why we say they are bad."
The British high commission in Harare called the claims "ridiculous".
Mugabe could seize
all white-owned land
CRIS CHINAKA, Harare | Wednesday 3.45pm.
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe said his
government could seize all white-owned land and if whites
were allowed to continue farming it would be "out of...our own
Mugabe told his ruling ZANU-PF party that the government is
looking beyond the 841 white-owned farms already designated
to be seized for redistribution to landless blacks.
"It is not just the 841 farms that we are looking at. We are
looking at the totality of our land," Mugabe said in a pep talk to
the party's 120 candidates in parliamentary elections scheduled
for June 24-25.
"If we allow others to own portions of it, it must be out of our
own will, our own desire, our own charity. Not on the back of
colonial history. So let us be clear on that," he said.
Thousands of liberation war veterans and ZANU-PF
supporters have invaded hundreds of white-owned farms since
February, demanding land they say was stolen during the
British colonial era.
The veterans of the 1970s war against white-ruled Rhodesia
have vowed not to leave the land until ordered by Mugabe.
"Those of you who are going to parliament must carry the
message that the revolution is yet to be concluded," Mugabe
At least 27 people, mostly supporters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have been killed,
hundreds beaten and thousands forced to flee in violence
accompanying the government-sponsored land grab over the
past three months. --Reuters
Many Flee Zimbabwe Violence
By Angus Shaw
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, June 6, 2000; 10:27 a.m. EDT
HARARE, Zimbabwe ** Ruling party militants have attacked teachers
and health workers, forcing many to flee their clinics and schools in the
wake of pre-election violence, an independent monitoring group and
Zimbabwe's main opposition party said today.
The militants have also barred many of those injured in the violence from
entering medical clinics, the Community Working Group on Health said.
Those already inside were forcibly removed after the medical workers had
been chased off, said the group, a coalition of medical, human rights and
Calls to the ruling party headquarters in Harare for a response to the
allegations were not returned.
More than 5,000 cases of political violence have been reported since
February, when a government-sponsored referendum on a new
constitution was defeated. At least 30 people, mainly opposition
supporters, have been killed.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has accused President
Robert Mugabe's government of orchestrating the violence to intimidate
Zimbabweans ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for June 24-25.
It is not clear how many rural clinics and schools have been closed by
violence, but the Zimbabwe Teachers Association estimates at least 200
of about 6,000 government schools have been disrupted by intimidation
Last month, 15 teachers in Mudzi district in northeastern Zimbabwe were
assaulted * two were beaten unconscious * and the nearby Chimukuko
hospital was closed when its staff was forced to flee, the Community
Working Group on Health said in a statement.
The injured teachers made their way to nearby towns to find treatment. In
the same district, two nurses were abducted from another facility and a
third was assaulted after being accused of supporting the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.
These and other cases across the country were a breach of people's right
to health care and showed health authorities' failure to protect health
workers, the group said.
"Health workers are undermined in the performance of duties they are
required to do by oath and national law," the group said.
- Zim police raid churches, round up displaced
21 July 2005 04:25
Police raided church halls in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, rounding up people who had been sheltering there since their homes were destroyed in a so-called urban renewal drive, a human rights lawyer said on Thursday.
Wednesday's raids came just days before the release of a United Nations report on Zimbabwe's controversial Operation Murambatsvina.
On Thursday, some of the hundreds of thousands left homeless were allowed to return to the demolished township of Hatcliffe, on the northern outskirts of the capital, Harare, state media reported.
Police have torched and bulldozed townships, informal markets and other structures deemed illegal since launching the demolition campaign on May 19. Vendors accused of black-market dealing have also been arrested or had their goods confiscated.
Independent estimates of the number affected range from 300 000 to more than a million.
Only a small number of people were removed in the church raids, said attorney Jenny Coltart.
"Many of the churches have already moved the people last week on to a farm they had negotiated for, but there were some who had not moved," she said. "The police came in late last night, loaded them on to trucks and drove off."
Church leaders were trying to locate them on Thursday.
An estimated 20 000 people had their homes destroyed in Hatcliffe, on the northern outskirts of the capital, in May. Many of them were given just 30 minutes to pack their belongings and were forced at gunpoint to tear down their own houses.
Late on Wednesday, Deputy Housing Minister Morris Sakabuya told Parliament about 3 100 plots have been demarcated in the township and are being allocated to "vetted" families, the national broadcaster and state-run Herald newspaper reported.
"Only those with lease agreements were allowed back, while those with receipts showing they had paid for their stands were also given lease agreements," Sakabuya was quoted as saying.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo told Parliament the government will help the displaced rebuild but warned that any returnees who fail to meet state building standards will be evicted again.
Trudy Stevenson, an opposition Movement for Democratic Change lawmaker who represents the area, was not impressed.
"How will they all find out about this when some have gone to Mozambique, Malawi or [been] chased back to their 'rural areas' by police?" she asked. "What about the seven weeks schoolchildren have missed, the people on anti-retrovirals and other medication who have been without it? How many have died? Who is going to find the orphans and tell them?"
Many of the displaced also lost their livelihoods and do not have the means to rebuild, she added.
President Robert Mugabe's government has promised Z$3-trillion (R2,1-billion) for the reconstruction effort, but economists question whether the funds are available at a time of economic crisis.
The government defends the campaign as a clean-up drive in overcrowded, crime-ridden slums.
But the opposition says it is aimed at breaking up its strongholds among the urban poor and forcing them into rural areas where they can be more easily controlled by chiefs sympathetic to the government.
Last month, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan sent an envoy to assess the humanitarian impact of the campaign.
Anna Tibaijuka, the Tanzanian head of UN Habitat, submitted her report earlier this week. A copy was also sent to Mugabe for review before it is made public, expected on Friday or Monday. -- Sapa-AP
Zim defiant over loan conditions
Nic Dawes and Rapule Tabane
21 July 2005 11:59
If South Africa agrees to a loan request from Zimbabwe, one of its conditions would be an end to the Murambatsvina campaign to demolish illegal structures in urban areas. (Photograph: AP)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe may well choke on the tough conditions attached to any loan package offered to him by the South African government -- despite Zimbabwe's worsening foreign currency crunch.
Mugabe's spokesperson, George Charamba, told the Mail & Guardian that Zimbabwe would not accept financial help tied to conditions, adding that South Africa was one of numerous countries Zimbabwe had approached.
"I don't understand why the South African media is treating the loan request as unique to South Africa. We have also made representations to the Indian government," Charamba said.
Mugabe is due to visit China this weekend and diplomatic observers believe China is the country most likely to step into the breach.
Beijing is anxious to secure access to minerals such as platinum and chrome, which Zimbabwe has in abundance, and may provide a way for Mugabe to acquire hard currency without making political concessions.
In the first clear sign that South Africa is prepared to use its economic leverage to break Zimbabwe's political logjam, President Thabo Mbeki's Cabinet was expected this week to discuss Mugabe's request for a $1-billion loan facility. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), meanwhile, is taking final steps in preparation to expel Zimbabwe for its persistent failure to pay a $295-million debt.
Government officials stress that no decision has yet been taken to extend a credit line, but that any help will be based on a South African assessment of what is appropriate for Zimbabwe's needs and will entail stringent terms.
These are understood to include the resumption of talks on constitutional reform between Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), an end to the Murambatsvina, or "drive out filth" campaign to demolish illegal structures in urban areas, and economic reforms.
Charamba, was adamant that Zimbabwe would reject conditions, particularly a call for new talks with the MDC. "We meet the MDC on a daily basis and dialogue with them in parliament," he said.
"Should the MDC request talks outside Parliament, it will be considered. But firstly, they would have to clarify their call for sanctions, which are now causing untold suffering to ordinary Zimbabweans. That would be our precondition."
He added: "I don't understand why South Africans will put a condition that we end Operation Clean Up when it has already ended. We are now at the next stage, Operation Hlalani Kahle (stay and live well), which will focus on housing delivery that goes beyond people affected by Operation Clean Up."
Nevertheless, the IMF's threatened withdrawal appears to have created a window of opportunity for the South African government to push ahead with plans for a "carrot-and-stick" package, which Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has been quietly punting for some time.
Zimbabwe needs hard currency to buy fuel, electricity and basic commodities. With its reserves exhausted, the government has been reduced to buying dollars on the black market to fund imports.
After a visit to Harare by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi, Manuel and Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni met officials, led by Zimbabwe Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, last Friday.
South African sources said that while the Zimbabwean delegation "painted a picture" of their currency crisis, any funding would be shaped by their own assessment of the situation. The credit facility was unlikely to amount to the reported $1-billion.
"It is far from a done deal," one official said. "The conditionalities will be tough and Mugabe isn't going to like them at all."
China is seen as Zimbabwe's most likely benefactor, as it makes no pretence of using aid to promote democracy and good governance.
Western and African diplomats are worried that the link between economic assistance and good governance, established by initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), may be undermined in China's drive for resource security.
In 2004 it agreed to a $2-billion line of credit for Angola after an IMF loan fell through when the MPLA government would not agree to anti- corruption conditions. The loan is backed by oil guarantees and commitments to employ Chinese construction firms in the rebuilding of infrastructure.
Mugabe has already concluded agreements to buy fighter jets and riot control gear from the Chinese government. Despite these concerns, observers in Harare are buoyed by what they see as a marked difference in pace and tone from South Africa and the African Union. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangarai embarked on a hectic round of African diplomacy ahead of the G8 summit at Gleneagles, meeting, among others, current AU chairperson and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to insist on the importance of linking democratic reforms and economic recovery.
Obasanjo and Mbeki, who split in 2003 over Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth, appear to have gone to Gleneagles united on that issue, even as Zimbabwe's urban demolition campaign refocused international attention on the crisis.
Chief government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe was reluctant to give details of the Cabinet discussions or the recent meetings with Zimbabwean officials. "The discussions have been about how we can assist in the Zimbabwean economic recovery programme as well as the normalisation of the political situation," he said.
"There is no agreement on a loan, but if the issue arises, it would be referred to Cabinet and a loan facility would have to be confirmed by Parliament."
Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon, meanwhile, questioned whether South Africa could afford the loan, saying taxpayer funds should not be used to bail out a dictator.
In a speech in Cradock on Thursday, he said: "South Africa should not provide any assistance beyond emergency relief until the Zimbabwean government meets strict conditions, including, but not limited to: ending Operation Murambatsvina; opening formal, public negotiations with opposition parties under the supervision of the African Union and the United Nations; allowing international aid agencies to operate freely within Zimbabwe; and providing proof of all purchases made with money donated or loaned by South Africa."
UN condemns Zimbabwe slum blitz
A major UN report has called for an immediate end to Zimbabwe's slum clearance programme, declaring it to be in violation of international law.
Hundreds of thousands of homes in the country's shanty towns have been torched and bulldozed in recent months.
Zimbabwe says the demolitions aim to clean up urban areas and ensure building regulations are followed.
But the UN report, to be released in full later on Friday, says the policy is disastrous and inhumane.
The BBC's Susannah Price at UN headquarters in New York says the UK and US are likely to use the hard-hitting document to renew their calls for the UN to take immediate action.
To date, the Security Council has refused to call a meeting on the clearances.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe usually rejects any criticism, as coming from racists, or their stooges, opposed to his nationalist stance but correspondents say this will be more difficult with this report.
It was compiled by Kofi Annan's special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, a respected international diplomat from Tanzania, a country with close political links to Zimbabwe.
The report calls for an immediate halt to the slum clearances which it says have affected a total of two million people.
"While purporting to target illegal dwellings and structures [the operation] was carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering," it says, according to an excerpt cited by the Associated Press news agency.
Zimbabwe says the policy - known as Operation Murambatsvina [Drive Out Rubbish] - is intended to crack down on black-market trading and other criminal activity in the slum areas.
But the report says, whatever the motive, the result is ill-conceived and inhumane.
Hundreds of thousands have been forced to seek shelter elsewhere as their homes are destroyed.
The opposition says the evictions are meant to punish urban residents, who have rejected President Robert Mugabe in favour of the opposition in recent elections.
The report has already been presented to Zimbabwe's government and will be presented to all UN members on Friday.