The partial suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth announced yesterday is plainly a painstaking compromise. The troika of John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa and Olesungo Obasanjo, the Nigerian President, have pushed Zimbabwe out of the formal councils of the Commonwealth -- which is not the same as formal and full suspension -- and this provision will apply for 12 months before the situation in the country is reassessed and the future status of Zimbabwe reconsidered. This is not exactly the result that intimidation and fraud deserves but it is not an insignificant outcome either. Mr Howard must have deployed considerable diplomatic skill to persuade his reluctant colleagues to go this far.
Zimbabwe voting is in the third day, as polls in areas where lines were the longest were ordered by the High Court to remain open. Lines are reported to be extremely long with waits in some areas ranging between 10 and 15 hours.
Martin Luther King Junior, the slain American civil rights icon, had this to say in 1963, the height of the struggle for freedom by United States civil rights groups:
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
Zimbabwe's long-promised moment of reckoning has finally come.
It beckons all patriotic and valiant citizens to stand up with one voice to tell one Robert Mugabe: Mr President, please go and go now.
The presidential vote on Saturday and Sunday gives all of you, victims of tyranny and madness of two decades, an historic and very last chance to free yourselves from modern history's worst dictatorship and to reclaim your lost sovereignty.
Tension rises as Mugabe 'dances in the dark': on last minute maneuvering by Mugabe to ensure he wins this weekend's elections.
'This time, Bob, it's personal': Barrie Collins asked if the rest of the world should really be meddling in Zimbabwe?
The European Union has imposed 'smart' sanctions on Zimbabwe - meaning that President Robert Mugabe and his high-ranking officials will be refused visas to travel to EU member states and will have their assets in Europe frozen. The sanctions have generated a lot of anti-colonial rhetoric and gestures of defiance from Mugabe and co, which have dominated news headlines worldwide.
This isn't the first time the international community has meddled in Zimbabwe's affairs. And in Zimbabwe's forthcoming presidential elections, the USA, the UK and the EU have made a list of demands and plan to monitor the elections to see if Zimbabwe passes the democracy test - seeming to have overlooked the fact that democracy imposed from without is not democracy at all.
Mugabe opponents forced to campaign at dead of night: a report from a night time expedition to distribute fliers for the MDC.
Prepare for a long vote-in weekend: a letter to the editor encouraging opposition voters to turn out for next weekend's election in Zimbabwe despite cuts in the number of polling places.
Please block in the entire election weekend in your diary as "voting", go to the polling station armed with a picnic (especially drink), blanket, umbrella and stool/folding chair, and be prepared for a vote-in weekend, where you simply stay at the polling station until you vote.
The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe has analysed the video tape and says that a version broadcast relentlessly on Zimbabwe television has a video timer on the screen, which also demonstrates "that the video had been cut and rearranged in a manner that appeared to suit the assassination conspiracy theory".
"The timer... changed repeatedly from, 9.45am to 9.25am; and from 9.25am to 9.43am and then back to 9.27am; and from 9.52am to 9.44am," says the MMPZ.
It's not clear the weekly reports from the MMPZ are archived regularly, so I'm mirroring that issue below.Continued...
Mugabe opponent accused of treason: in what Morgan Tsvangirai is calling a setup, he is being charged with conspiring to assassinate President Mugabe. Tsvangirai, the leading opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential election, was shown in a video aired on an Australian TV station, Special Broadcasting Service, discussing the "elimination" of Mugabe.
The allegations were made by a Canadian political consultancy, Dickens and Madson, headed by former Israeli intelligence officer and Mugabe lobbyist Ari Ben-Menashe.
Mr Ben-Menashe says he was approached by Mr Tsvangirai, who wanted Mr Mugabe "eliminated".
A video timing clock was not erased from a poor-quality copy of the recording broadcast on state television, showing that the original secret tape had been heavily edited and even "rearranged", according to the Mass Media Project of Zimbabwe, an independent media monitoring group.
- Transcript of the SBS Dateline story: Killing Mugabe - The Tsvangirai Conspiracy
- Tricks, lies and videotape
- Ex-Mossad agent & Western mainstream media put lives and democracy at risk in Zimbabwe
President Mugabe is said to be planning secretly his escape route out of Zimbabwe after his private polling predicted he could be defeated in next month's elections.
The ailing 78-year-old has been sounding out some of his African neighbours and his dwindling number of friends abroad about providing him with a safe haven.
There are now 27 days until the Presedential Elections and every day
is one of disbelief. Yesterday, in the space of ten minutes I met two
people, the first a white farmer who was recently shot by armed men
who had ambushed him outside his farm gate.The farmer is back on his
land and waiting to be allowed to grow food. My second meeting was
with a "real" war veteran who has had nothing to do with the insanity
of the past two years and is waiting to be able to have a normal life
and carry on with his small business. We are all waiting now and I
continue to wear a small yellow ribbon pinned to my shirt in silent
protest at the suffering in my country - I hope in 27 days I wall be
able to take it off.
-- February 9th, 2002
[via The Idler]
Every night, the emigrants from the Zimbabwe side of the border creep to the rushing river and consider the dangers ahead. There are crocodiles ready to topple stealthy boats. There are twists of barbed wire and miles of electrified fence.
But they look across the river and pine for South Africa, a land of stability and hope.
Robert Mugabe is believed to have mortgaged most of his country's most valuable assets to Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, in exchange for hundreds of millions of pounds in loans to keep Zimbabwe from complete collapse.
Desperate to cling to power in next month's elections, President Mugabe is said to have handed over state-owned farms, hotels and oil refineries in a secret deal with Colonel Gaddafi. As part of the exchange, the Libyan dictator is funding Mr Mugabe's security forces.
As expected, the U.S. has followed the E.U's lead and imposed sanctions, in particular restrictions on travel to the U.S., on Zimbabwe's government members. Mugabe, for his part, claims these don't bother him:
"What is Europe? What have I been wanting in Europe? I think it is not a real punishment to us. We can visit other countries in Asia and Africa," Mugabe said. "Why should my money go to Britain? I don't have goats there. I have goats and pigs here."
See also: US and UK name targeted leaders
The US House of Representatives recently passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, which enables the sanctions to be applied specifically to targeted leaders. The punitive measures will also affect their children in colleges or schools overseas.
Topping the list of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) issued in the Anti Money Laundering Guidance Update, Issue 3, of the Joint Financial Crimes Unit, is Robert Gabriel Mugabe, followed by his two vice-presidents, Simon V Muzenda and Joseph Msika.
Others are John Nkomo; Patrick Chinamasa; Stan Mudenge; Simba Makoni; Sydney Sekeramayi; Swithun Mombeshora; Joseph Made; Ignatius Chombo; Timothy Stamps; Herbert Murerwa; Samuel Mumbengegwi; Francis Nhema; Joyce Mujuru; July Moyo; Nicholas Goche; Jonathan Moyo; Grace Marufu Mugabe; and one W Chikukwa (listed as assistant defence adviser--Zimbabwe).
Mugabe left reviled and alone: after Mugabe expelled the European Union's lead election monitor, the remaining monitors are pulling out and the EU has imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his associates. The U.S. is expected to follow suit. The sanctions include travel restrictions to participating countries and a freeze on assets held in those countries.
See also: Zimbabwe on the brink
It was never going to be an easy decision. When European Union (EU) foreign ministers decided on Monday February 18th to withdraw the EU's election monitors from Zimbabwe and impose sanctions on the country, it was with a heavy heart. All attempts to restrain Robert Mugabe seem to have failed. The country's 77-year-old president is determined to rig presidential elections next month in order to cling on to power after 22 years in office, and has brushed aside foreign criticisms of his bullying and intimidation of the main opposition party and his increasingly repressive policies, which have brought his country to the brink of economic ruin. And yet the EU decision, coming after months of warnings and threats, though understandable, may on balance still prove to be the wrong one.
Basildon Peta, a correspondent for the The Independent, was arrested today under Zimbabwe's new Public Order and Security Act and held overnight. He's charged with convening a demonstration against the new media laws without police permission. Peta has been pushing at Mugabe for quite some time, and expected to be arrested. Recent pieces by Peta on Mugabe's laws include:
At their meeting today the Commonwealth chose not to suspend Zimbabwe's membership, as it looked like they might have after their last meeting, though they did speak out again about the political violence and recent oppressive laws.
The Group reviewed the situation in Zimbabwe in the light of developments since its last meeting on 20 December 2001. It expressed its deep concern over the continued violence, political intimidation and actions against the freedom and independence of the media.
The Group also condemned the recently enacted Public Order and Security Act and the General Laws Amendment Act, as well as the proposed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, as further direct curbs on the freedom of speech, of the press, and association in Zimbabwe and contrary to the Commonwealth's fundamental political values as enshrined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration. The Group expressed the strongest concern that the statement by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Chief and the recent and foreshadowed legislation constituted a direct threat to the conduct of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe presidential elections have been scheduled for March 9th and 10th. The army has said that it will support Mugabe regardless of whether he wins the election or not. Mugabe is being accused of launching terrorist attacks against opposition supporters.
Mugabe has recalled Zimbabwe's troops from Congo because they are needed to "help him fight the election" but top army generals are encouraging him to withdraw from the election in order to give ZANU PF a better chance at winning. The leader of the opposition party MDC is accusing Mugabe of state terrorism. The Commonwealth has threatened Mugabe with suspension if Mugabe doesn't stop state violence by January.
Mugabe outlaws opposition and bans free speech. That's one way to win a fair election.
The European Union is debating punitive measures against Zimbabwe's President Mugabe, a move spurred on by the news that Mugabe travelled to Spain for eye treatment when his country has little viable medical facilities. [via OneWorld]
Zimbabwe's war on "terrorist journalists" escalates: new law requires journalists to be citizens and to be registered if working for a foreign paper.
Mugabe is building underground bunkers, buying armored limos, and military equipment to prepare for a possible a civil war in Zimbabwe if he loses next year's presidential election and has deployed troops in areas with strong support for the opposition party.
Reporter Basildon Peta: Mugabe will have to kill me to shut me up. Meanwhile, the U.S. has joined Britain in protesting the association of reporters with terrorism while police and students clash after a MDC supporter was killed by a soldier.
Terror plagues Matabeleland once again: Some background on the Mugabe vs. MDC conflict in Zimbabwe. It describes how veterans have been hired by ZANU PF, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front, as part of a campaign to harrass the opposition party. Mugabe's tactics don't seem to be working: his terrorism charges against MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai have been thrown out by the Supreme Court and Mogabe is falling behind in the polls, even among his party members, for the election to be held early next year, though it's not clear it's going to be a fair process.
Zimbabwe is accusing foreign journalists of assisting terrorists, specifically the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, by misrepresenting their acts. England has protested the threat to its journalists. President Mugabe has also recently accused Blair of terrorism for funding the organization through the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.