- SA condemns Zimbabwe
South Africa has criticised Zimbabwe's army for
a thinly veiled warning that it would support
only the current leadership in the forthcoming
President Thabo Mbeki's
spokesman said the role
of the army was to
defend democracy, not
to deliver threats.
Zvinavashe said he
would only support a
president who had fought in the liberation
The general's remarks were seen as a clear
threat to opposition candidate Morgan
Tsvangirai, who did not fight in Zimbabwe's
war for independence.
Call for democracy
The South African reaction came amid
mounting international disapproval of President
Robert Mugabe's campaign to quash opposition
ahead of the March presidential poll.
The open criticism also represents a further
distancing from Pretoria's traditional support
for the Zimbabwean Government coupled with
a policy of quiet persuasion.
Bheki Khumalo, said
South Africa wanted to
see democracy and the
rule of law prevail in its
"If indeed these
allegations are true,
then indeed that
situation is not
acceptable to us," Mr
Khumalo told the
French news agency AFP.
"You cannot have a situation where in a sense
the security forces are trying to pre-empt an
Mr Khumalo said an official statement on
Zimbabwe would be issued later on Friday.
Supporters of Mr Mugabe frequently trumpet
him as a revolutionary hero who helped liberate
the country from white rule.
Mr Tsvangirai, who leads the popular
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has
said he did not fight because he was
supporting his father's large family.
The defence chief also
said on Wednesday
that the country's
security forces would
only support a
president who would
But Mr Khumalo called
on the army to uphold
the laws of Zimbabwe,
government of the day.
"We are actually... opposed to military coups
and therefore, you know, we will not support
military government," he said.
The spokesman said South Africa had yet to
discuss the latest developments with
Zimbabwe but would raise them at a special
summit of the Southern African Development
Community in Malawi on Monday.
The European Union is expected to tell a
Zimbabwean Government delegation on Friday
that the country will face sanctions if human
rights abuses are not curbed.
There is also widespread speculation that
Zimbabwe faces ejection from the
How loyal is Zimbabwe's
By Michael Quintana, editor of the Africa
President Robert Mugabe came to power
following a long and bitter guerrilla war, and 22
years later he is relying on the military to keep
the keys to State House and power.
The commander of
forces, General Vitalis
Zvinavashe, said on
Wednesday that the
military will only obey a
political leader who
participated in the
1970s war of
"We will... not accept, let alone support or
salute, anyone with a different agenda," he
said, flanked by the commanders of the army,
air force, prisons and the much-feared Central
Intelligence Organisation chief, all former
comrades-in-arms of Mr Mugabe.
The statement was significant because Mr
Mugabe's main challenger in March's
presidential election is Morgan Tsvangirai, a
trade-union leader with broad political support,
especially among urban Zimbabweans, but a
man who used his free time when younger to
further his studies rather than join the
But while the military top brass are Mugabe
loyalists, he cannot necessarily count on the
support of the rank-and-file.
The Zimbabwe National
Army was formed at
independence in 1980
by fusing the army of
with the two liberation
movements - Joshua
Nkomo's Zipra and
Robert Mugabe's Zanla.
Mr Mugabe's policy of
awarding the best jobs
in the new army to
personnel meant that
discontent has always simmered among former
members of Zipra and the former-Rhodesian
Before a proper integration process had even
begun, Mr Nkomo's troops rebelled and
marched on Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
largest city, in an attempted coup.
Luckily, a few hundred black and white former
Rhodesian soldiers stood in their way and,
together with the air force, managed to defeat
the 5,000-strong rebellion and prevent the
new state from plunging into open civil war.
Unsure of his grip on power, Mr Mugabe
privately commissioned the creation of the
North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, under the
command of Perence Shiri.
In the early 1980s, they became notorious for
their cruelty when they were deployed in the
largely ethnic Ndebele areas of the country, to
put down a suspected Ndebele and Zipra
insurrection against Mr Mugabe.
Within two years these "political warriors" had
laid bare an area representing one-third of the
country with scorched-earth policies, where
thousands were killed, crops destroyed and
More recently, as living standards have
plummeted, urban areas have erupted into
occasional bouts of anti-government violence.
The army has been
used on several
occasions to stamp out
the unrest and has
been accused of using
In 1998, the army was
sent to the Democratic
Republic of Congo in
support of Mr Mugabe's
close ally, the then
In the DR Congo, the graft, corruption,
mismanagement and ill-discipline among
Zimbabwe's soldiers was exposed by their
involvement in diamond deals and lucrative
There have also been many reported discipline
problems among the soldiers, with secret
court-martials for those unhappy at being sent
to the DR Congo.
Since 1993, pay and living arrangements have
deteriorated, with up to 40% of personnel
having to live outside barracks because of a
lack of proper accommodation and funds to
Pay of all security forces was doubled from the
start of this year, though some soldiers may
see through this attempt to buy their loyalty
ahead of elections.
If the military commanders did order their
troops to move against a political leader who
they did not approve of, many of those
soldiers without decent accommodation, or
who still bear a grudge from the divisions of
the war of independence, would be reluctant
Equally, if Mr Mugabe tried to rig the election
results, this would quite likely lead to
widespread unrest in the urban areas, where
support for his opponent, Mr Tsvangirai is
Mr Mugabe would be wise not to rely too
heavily on the army to keep him in power if
Zimbabwe's voters want him to go.
Zimbabwe faces EU
Zimbabwe is facing the threat of economic
sanctions from the European Union, a day after
its parliament approved measures which critics
say will enable the government to stifle
Zimbabwean ministers are meeting EU officials
in Brussels, and they are expected to be told
that sanctions could be imposed if President
Robert Mugabe's government fails to curb
alleged human rights abuses.
But Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stanley
Mudenge appeared unconcerned - asked if he
was worried, he replied: "Sanctions, what
sanctions? We're here for a dialogue".
Despite the new
criminalises criticism of
Mr Mugabe, opposition
Tsvangirai said he
would press ahead with
his challenge to the
president in elections in
"I will stand as the MDC
candidate in that
election," the Movement for Democratic
Change leader told reporters in Harare.
But in a letter to the EU's Council of Ministers
Mr Tsvangiari also warned that free and fair
elections were impossible because of
state-backed political violence.
Interior minister John
Nkomo - who is also in
Brussels for the EU
meeting - told the BBC
that there were no
human rights abuses in
his country, and it had
only been criticised
when it tried to
redistribute land from
white farmers to
landless black people.
The BBC's Europe
Bloom says the EU
could end up by freezing hundreds of millions of
pounds of aid earmarked for Zimbabwe.
But critics say that will be too little, too late,
and they are calling for the freezing of the
assets of President Mugabe and other
Commonwealth speaks out
Commonwealth countries are stepping up their
pressure on Mr Mugabe ahead of the
presidential elections on 9-10 March.
Neighbouring South Africa described as
"unacceptable" the Zimbabwean army's implicit
warning that it would not accept an opposition
Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
said he would push for Zimbabwe's suspension
from the Commonwealth at the heads of
government meeting in Brisbane in March.
"We don't want a
country sitting around
the table with us, or a
president sitting around
the table with us, who
doesn't stand for the
things we stand for," Mr
And New Zealand also
called for the
The UK has already warned that it may push
for Zimbabwe's expulsion from the body. But
the threat was dismissed by Mr Mugabe, who
said Britain, the former colonial power, lacked
support on the issue.
The Zimbabwean parliament passed a security
bill on Thursday criminalising criticism of Mr
Mugabe and giving the police new powers to
disperse demonstrations, and new election
regulations which ban foreign and local
One of Africa's most respected human rights
figures, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said Mr
Mugabe had exhausted the credit he once had
as a champion of black African rights.
Zimbabwe faced the
prospect of a
"dictatorship with the
trimmings of a
the South African Nobel
peace prize laureate
told the BBC.
parliament stands to
debate a third
controversial bill - on
control over the media
- next week.
say the bill would make it impossible to work,
as they would need to get accreditation from
the Information Ministry every year.
Other restrictions include a possible prison
term for writing "unauthorised" accounts of
Tutu sees Mugabe
South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond
Tutu has warned that Zimbabwe is sliding into
dictatorship under President Robert Mugabe.
Speaking as the
which appears aimed at
ensuring Mr Mugabe's
re-election in March,
Archbishop Tutu said he
was saddened by
developments in the
Mr Mugabe had been
"one of the bright stars
in the African constellation" but now he
seemed bent on breaking the law, he told the
"When you disregard
the rule of law, I think
you are on the slippery
slope towards a
dictatorship with the
trimmings of a
He said that Mr
Mugabe did not
dissent and used
violence against his
critics, seeking to
"have only one political group having the upper
Archbishop Tutu, who won his Nobel prize for
his peaceful struggle against apartheid in
South Africa, said Mr Mugabe had once shone
as a "tremendous freedom fighter" - quite,
quite outstanding in many ways".
He had championed
reconciliation at a time
retribution for the
wrongs inflicted on
them by their white
rulers when the country
was known as Rhodesia.
But Mr Mugabe had gone on to "blot his copy
book", the archbishop said.
"I am deeply saddened," he said.
"I am disappointed. I really feel ashamed in
many ways because he used to be such a
What to do with
By the BBC's world affairs correspondent
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's attitude
to the outside world is summed up on a new
website set up by his government -
His Minister for
declares that the
European Union and
should hold Britain
responsible for any
escalation of violence
ahead of the
presidential elections in
British policy, Mr Moyo
says, is reminiscent of
an equally "diabolic" strategy by Western
intelligence groups which once worked with
former Rhodesians - most of whom are now
commercial farmers - to fuel disturbances.
With such a background, it is hardly likely that
President Mugabe will be swayed by diplomatic
representations and pressure.
There will be repercussions for him
internationally if he continues his present
course, but he probably could not care less.
Indeed, such pressure will probably fuel his
mistrust of outside influences and reinforce his
determination to clamp down on any threat to
Zimbabwe could have economic sanctions
imposed on it by the European Union and be
suspended by the Commonwealth.
The EU process takes some time - 60 days
under the trade agreement with African,
Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
Against the clock
Under the agreement, ACP countries which
violate human rights can have economic
benefits withdrawn, but this process cannot
now be finished before the elections. Mr
Mugabe could be home and dry by the time
sanctions are put in place.
Zimbabwe faces the
loss of 128m euros
($114m) and its trade
access to the EU, but
governments and aid
organisations do not
want to impose severe
economic sanctions as
they would hurt the
poorest. So it is a
sword which is two
A confrontation on this
will take place in Brussels on Friday between
EU and Zimbabwe delegations.
The Commonwealth conference - CHOGM, or
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting -
is being held in Australia in early March, just
before the Zimbabwe elections, and in theory
could suspend Zimbabwe.
It is unlikely that Mr Mugabe will attend in
person. But a CHOGM decision requires
consensus, which means unanimity, and this is
by no means certain, though it could become
more likely if the situation gets worse.
But again, Mr Mugabe might regard suspension
as a badge of honour. He has long ago ceased
to be worried about what the Commonwealth
How to act?
What to do about a country heading for
dictatorship and repression is a very common
dilemma in the modern world.
In the old days, people turned a blind eye
under the principle of "non interference in
This has now changed, but governments are
unsure as to how far to take the process.
On occasions, there is direct intervention
(Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Afghanistan).
On others, there is UN action (Somalia), but at
the end of the day, economic pressure and
diplomatic isolation are usually all that can be
used, and governments bent on power tend
not to take much notice.
This appears to be the case with Zimbabwe.
- 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.