- Zimbabwe Criticizes U.N. Monitoring
By Angus Shaw
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, June 11, 2000; 6:11 p.m. EDT
HARARE, Zimbabwe ** Zimbabwe's president accused the United
Nations of trying to hijack international monitoring of his country's
parliamentary elections, which many doubted could be free and fair amid
rampant political violence, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The United Nations overstepped its welcome in trying to coordinate
election monitoring, President Robert Mugabe complained to a state
newspaper, a week after U.N. observers pulled out of the country's
election monitoring operations.
Many questioned whether Zimbabwe was even capable of holding fair
elections. At least 31 people have been killed in political violence since
February. The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
announced Sunday that another organizer had died after being tortured by
ruling party supporters.
The June 24-25 election poses the biggest challenge to Mugabe since he
led the nation to independence from Britain in 1980.
Mugabe said he had invited the U.N. observers to work alongside other
foreign monitors, about 300 of whom have already arrived. But the United
Nations tried to assume "an illegitimate role" in coordinating the observers,
Mugabe said, according to The Sunday Mail.
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard explained in a statement from New York:
"If we are not doing the coordination, there is no point in us being there."
Other foreign observers said the U.N. withdrawal would not affect their
operations, but could hurt the ballot's credibility.
Opposition parties and foreign groups, including Amnesty International,
have questioned whether Zimbabwe was able to hold free and fair
elections right now. They pointed to ruling party militants occupying 1,400
white-owned farms, and to the "state-sponsored terror" campaign that has
left at least 31 people dead, most of them opposition supporters.
On Sunday, the Movement for Democratic Change said opposition
organizer Finos Zhou, 21, had died after he and his older brother were
abducted June 4 and tortured by ruling party militants.
The brothers were beaten and burnt with cigarettes before being released,
said Sekai Holland, the party's candidate for the remote Mberengwa
district. Finos died Friday at a party supporter's farmhouse, while his
brother was in critical care at a Zvishavane district hospital.
The brothers * who had been campaigning in Mberengwa * were targeted
in the attack, Holland said. Police were not available for comment.
Border Gezi, a top ruling party official, said Sunday that opposition
supporters were provoking the violence.
"We are not like Jesus. If you hit our cheeks, we will hit back," he told
supporters at a rally for Stalin Mau-Mau, a ruling party candidate in
Harare's eastern suburbs.
Independent human rights monitors, however, said ruling party militants,
including the farm squatters, were responsible for instigating up to 90
percent of the violence and intimidation.
"The problems there do not really look as though they are conducive to
free and fair elections," Commonwealth Secretary General Don
McKinnon agreed Sunday during a radio interview with the British
Broadcasting Corp. in London "Far too many people have been killed. It
is not a good omen."
accuses US, Britain
The Zimbabwean foreign minister, Stan
Mudenge, has accused the United States and
Britain of trying to destabilise the country
before parliamentary elections later this month.
He said both countries suppored opposition
parties in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the
President Mugabe has already accused Britain
of supporting the opposition Movement for
Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations
committee in the United States approved a bill
to suspend bilateral American assistance to
Zimbabwe until democracy and the rule of law
was restored. The bill, which still must be
approved by the full senate, would help
opposition groups mount possible legal
challenges to election results.
Zimbabwean President Says Ruling Party to Decide His
HARARE (June 10) XINHUA - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said
on Saturday he will only retire from power once the national congress of the
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-patriotic Front (Zanu-pf) votes him
Mugabe told his party's supporters in Marondera of east Zimbabwe that some
former parliamentarians were wasting their time calling for him to leave office.
"Some people in parliament want Mugabe to be removed from power," he said.
"They forget that they had a job to represent the interest of their people."
Mugabe said party members elected to parliament should not use that platform
to criticise him and the party.
"I will only get out of power if the congress decides," he said. "If the congress
votes us out, well we will go," he said.
Mugabe, 76, has in the last few years downplayed speculation that he would
leave office after the 2000 parliamentary elections.
He has been in power since the Southern African nation of 12.5 million people
gained its independence in 1980.
Mugabe urged party candidates to work hard to develop their constituencies
once elected into parliament.
Zimbabwe to Stage Biggest Ever Elections
HARARE, Zimbabwe (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, June 11, 2000) -
The parliamentary elections Zimbabwe will hold this month will be the biggest the
country has ever held in terms of people registered to vote and candidates vying
to be elected, poll officials said at the weekend.
More than five million people, out of the country's estimated population of 12.4
million, have registered to vote while a total of 566 candidates are standing in the
election, the first in which the ruling ZANU-PF party is being opposed in all 120
The labour-backed opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is
the only other party to field candidates in all areas where in the past the
governing party won unopposed.
However, most of the candidates are concentrated in urban areas where
opposition parties enjoy strong support and where they are expected to do
better than ZANU-PF's stronghold in rural areas.
Parliamentary elections in the past were characterised by voter apathy in which
the majority of the electorate, especially in towns, did not even bother to
Political analysts said the prospect of ZANU-PF's defeat, deduced from the
government's failure in February to win a referendum on a new constitution, had
galvanised electoral interest in the 24-25 June poll.
- 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.