- Police beat patients in Harare
05 June 2003 07:51
Zimbabwean police raided a private Harare hospital yesterday, the third
day of a week-long national strike, beating and arresting several
patients, according to doctors.
Ten police accompanied by youths from the ruling Zanu-PF party stormed
into the Avenues Clinic, Harare's largest private hospital, and
assaulted many of the 150 people seeking treatment for their injuries
sustained in anti-government protests. Police herded several patients
into a van.
Many of the patients were being treated for gunshot wounds and other
injuries received at peaceful public protests against President Robert
The police surrounded the hospital and ordered away injured people
coming in for treatment, said health workers.
Government hospitals have refused to treat anyone suspected of being
hurt in the demonstrations.
The strike called by Zimbabwe's main opposition, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), kept most banks, businesses and factories shut
for a third day despite official threats to punish companies that failed
Police maintained tight security in the capital while state radio
reported that the government was auditing which businesses were closed
and would begin procedures to remove their licences.
Although the strike has succeeded in closing down virtually all
businesses, the heavy security prevented massive street protests.
Mugabe said on Wednesday force had been necessary to maintain peace and
"It is sad when we are forced as a government to use teargas against
our own youth who are being misled but we have to do it in the interests
of peace and security," Mugabe told South Africa's SABC television
"We don't want to make our people suffer. We suffered enough during
colonial times and during independence...
"We want our people to be free to express their free views and feel
that the country belongs to them, that they have a stake like everybody
else in the country."
The MDC on Monday launched a five-day national strike and protest
marches in a bid to force Mugabe out of office or at least get him to
the negotiating table.
The opposition accuses the government of plunging the country into
economic and social crisis and has demanded that Mugabe engage in
serious dialogue with it.
Mugabe said there was no way the MDC was going to remove his government
He said the MDC had rejected advice from South African President Thabo
Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo not to engage in acts of
violence to overthrow the government.
"Their appeal to the MDC not to resort to mass action, not to resort to
violence has not yielded fruit but we asked them to continue to appeal
to them," he said.
The MDC said on Wednesday that hundreds of its supporters had been
arrested since the start of the protests on Monday and that one of its
activists had been killed.
An activist from Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) was also reportedly stoned to death by
suspected MDC supporters on the first day of the protests.
An MDC official said that as many as 500 opposition activists,
officials and lawmakers could have been arrested since Monday.
There has been no official tally yet from the party but opposition
officials quoted in Wednesday's Daily News newspaper said that more than
277 opposition supporters had been arrested on Monday and Tuesday.
The MDC also alleged the army had "spent the whole night harassing and
beating up" opposition supporters in the poor suburb of Budidiro.
It said 10 opposition supporters arrested in Zimbabwe's second city of
Bulawayo were missing.
The High Court last weekend declared the planned mass action against
Mugabe's government illegal and warned that demonstrators would face the
full wrath of the law if they defied the ban on the protests. -
Sapa-AFP, Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
Rise up Zimbabwe... Friday is D-Day
05 June 2003 12:10
Zimbabwe's opposition on Thursday warned that the last day of its
week-long series of protests will be D-Day for the government and called
on Zimbabweans to take to the streets despite state repression.
"The is the moment you have been waiting for. Tomorrow, Friday 6th
June, 2003 is D-Day," the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said on
the penultimate day of a five-day strike and protest movement it has
called to try to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
"Rise up in your millions to demonstrate publicly your utmost
disapproval of this violent dictatorship," the MDC said in an full-page
advertisement in the press.
It urged Zimbabweans not to be afraid despite hundreds of them having
been beaten up, allegedly by security forces and pro-government
supporters, and more than 500 others arrested since the start of the
mass protests on Monday.
The MDC said that since then, "the rogue regime has actively robbed you
of your democratic and constitutional right to express yourselves
peacefully against murder, rape, starvation, disease, violence and
"Don't be afraid. No force is stronger than you. Victory is in sight,"
An MDC official said on Thursday afternoon that more than 50 of its
members and suspected sympathisers have been beaten by ruling party
members in the Harare
township of Highfield.
Police have not confirmed the charge, but Pearson Mungofa, the MDC
lawmaker for the suburb, said supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) wearing army uniforms carried
out the assaults on Wednesday night.
Those assaulted included opposition party activists and "those who they
think sympathise with the MDC," Mungofa said.
Highfield was a flashpoint in the first days of a mass protest action
called by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. On Monday at least one resident
was shot in the leg by police trying to quell an anti-government march.
Two weeks ago Tsvangirai addressed a rally in Highfield and announced
his party's plans for a "final push" against President Robert Mugabe's
A job stayaway this week shut down shops and businesses in major cities
including Harare and the second city of Bulawayo. However, a show of
force by security agents has deterred any marches from gaining
At least two people have been killed during the mass action, according
to reports from both the police and the opposition.
Mugabe defended the use of force by his security forces, saying they
had acted in the interest of peace and stability.
"It is sad when we are forced as a government to use teargas against
our own youth who are being misled, but we have to do it in the
interests of peace and security," Mugabe told South Africa's SABC
"We don't want to make our people suffer. We want our people to be free
to express their free views," he said.
The High Court last weekend declared the MDC mass action against
Mugabe's government illegal and warned that demonstrators would face the
full wrath of the law if they defied the ban on the protests.
Friday marks the 59th anniversary of the allied invasion of the beaches
of Normandy in northern France, or D-Day, which marked the start of the
campaign to liberate France and end World War II. - Sapa-AFP
- 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.