- MDC won't take part in transitional govt
27 May 2003 14:51
Zimbabwe's main opposition party would not take part in a transitional
government should President Robert Mugabe give up power, its leader
Morgan Tsvangirai said on Tuesday.
Any interim arrangement after Mugabe had to follow constitutional
provisions where an acting president is appointed and elections are held
within three months, Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), told Harare-based diplomats from the G8 industrialised
Speculation that the 79-year-old Mugabe might leave office before his
current term expires in 2008 was fanned last week when Mugabe urged his
party supporters to openly debate his succession.
He also hinted in an interview last month that he was "getting to a
stage" where retirement might be possible.
Tsvangirai -- whose party has refused to accept the outcome of last
year's presidential polls which retained Mugabe in office – said it
would legitimise Mugabe's government should the MDC align itself to the
ruling party, Zanu-PF.
"We will neither be party to a dubious process that seeks to expand and
sanitise Zanu-PF's illegitimate rule nor will we accept a secondary role
in any so-called transitional arrangement," Tsvangirai told the G8
diplomats, according to a statement that his officials sent to media
before the meeting.
He said that if a president leaves office in Zimbabwe, the constitution
provides for an acting president "logically from the ruling party" to
take over and for elections to held within 90 days to choose a
"We have not sought and never will seek to be accomodated by anybody
outside our democratic entitlement, the rule of law and indeed the
constitution," Tsvangirai said.
"The issue of constituional amendment to enable the formation of a
so-called transitional government therefore does not arise," he said.
Tsvangirai who has called for anti-government street protests next
week, repeated in his statement that "serious and sincere dialogue" was
the only way to end Zimbabwe's political and economic crises.
"The only way to resolve the current crisis and salvage what remains of
the nation is through a process of serious and sincere dialogue between
the MDC and Zanu-PF," he said. - Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe govt vows to 'crush' protests
27 May 2003 11:09
The government of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has warned that it
will crush anti-government street demonstrations being organised by the
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change is planning "a week of
democracy marches" starting June 2.
"We are ready to crush any demonstrations which will lead to the
destruction of property or is a threat to national security," Home
Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi told the state-run daily Chronicle.
"If the demonstrations are peaceful, then they can go ahead. But if
they are violent, we will not stand by and watch," he was quoted as
Pro-government veterans of the country's war of liberation last week
warned that they would clamp-down on any opposition demostrations using
War veterans leader Patrick Nyaruwata said the former guerrillas will
be "using our own miltary experience" against the MDC organised
protests, in a way that has "never been seen before in Zimbabwe."
"The consequences of any mass action will be grave. We will co-ordinate
with the state agents to fight you (MDC) off," he warned according to
But MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he and his supporters must be
prepared to be arrestd and to make a mark. The MDC organised in March a
two-day national strike that was largely followed. Last month, the
labour movement which gave birth to the MDC advised people to stock up
on food ahead of the mass action, but many have been unable to withdraw
the money from their accounts to do so because banks have run out of
cash. - Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe's banks run out of money
25 May 2003 07:21
Long queues of people waited outside banks on Saturday in central
Harare amid fears of more strikes and reports banks were limiting cash
There were many people waiting outside cash machines in Harare's main
First Street and surrounding areas.
A three-day stay-away last month left banks and customers struggling
for cash and the situation appears to have worsened since, with state
media reporting that the central bank no longer has the necessary
foreign currency to print new notes.
Fuelling the anxiety, the state-owned Herald newspaper on Saturday
reported that cash shortages had resurfaced at "most banks in Harare".
"Now we can't even get our money when we need it," the paper quoted one
would-be customer, Godwill Munyimi, as saying.
The paper said customers were only being allowed to withdraw a maximum
of up to 20 000 Zimbabwe dollars ($24, 20 euros).
Zimbabweans are struggling under shortages of many basic goods,
including foodstuffs and fuel, while inflation has now topped 269%.
Monday is a public holiday in Zimbabwe and there have been reports
there could be more protest stay-aways soon, although the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has set no definite date.
Heaven help the Movement for Democratic Change
Ryan Truscott | Harare
26 May 2003 10:22
Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday told his
supporters to prepare themselves with prayers ahead of "democracy
marches" due to begin in just over a week.
Addressing thousands of supporters at a rally in Highfield, the home
suburb of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai said there would
be "a week of democracy and democracy marches" beginning June 2.
Many here had been waiting for Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) to name a date for the next stage of protest
"mass action" against the government.
Two strikes held in the last two months have been widely followed here
amid growing economic hardships. But war veterans loyal to Mugabe have
threatened to clamp down on any mass action, according to reports in the
state-run Herald earlier this week.
As supporters cheered in the afternoon sun, Tsvangirai said on Sunday
he was not afraid.
"We must be prepared to be arrested. We must be prepared to make a
"I'm ready if they want to arrest me," he added. Tsvangirai and two
party officials are already on trial for treason for allegedly plotting
to assassinate Mugabe, a charge he denies.
Private prayer was needed this week ahead of the demonstrations, the
opposition leader said.
"It is preparation," Tsvangirai said, speaking in the Shona.
Sunday was billed as a National Day of Prayer in Zimbabwe. He told his
supporters they would have to be disciplined. The government has accused
the MDC of being a "violent" party after buses were petrol-bombed during
an opposition-led strike in March.
"If I say march, you should march," Tsvangirai said. He also said
ruling party officials wanted to know what was going to happen to them
if the opposition party came into power.
"There are some Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front) people coming to me and saying 'What are you going to do with us
if you come into power'," Tsvangirai said.
He said some Zanu-PF members had approached him telling him to "do
something". He did not elaborate further.
Meanwhile the party claimed in a statement that police "besieged" the
MDC headquarters in central Harare shortly after the rally.w, the labour
"The police are after women who they chased as they returned from a
successful rally addressed by the MDC President and several senior party
officials at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield," the party's Information
Department said in a statement.
"It appears the police will not move away until the women come out," it
The party also claimed that 12 MDC supporters were arrested after an
opposition rally in Chitungwiza, Harare's satellite town on Saturday and
were still in custody on Sunday.
- 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.