Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 10:54 am
Zimbabwe had its election yesterday. I find it mind boggling, that ZANU-PF, party that denies an ongoing famine,refuses foreign aid and lets people starve instead,denies access to free press, blackmails and tortures its population into obediance, and is ruled by a tyrant, should win overwhelmingly.
Mugabe is among the last of the freedom fighters - turned presidents in Africa. For that reason alone he is respected by many. Yet his practices were always violent and power-hungry. Even during the liberation movement. He was imprisoned for a long time. Conditions were cruel and inhuman. One would imagine that would spark some empathy in a political prisoner. But like Gomulka in Poland, Husak in Czechoslovakia,and surely many others, Mugabe turned into an inflexible rigid beast, waging politics of oppression and annihilation of opposition. Most of the population remembers his bloody campaign against the Ndebele tribes in 1980s, violent struggles with another clique of liberation movement, and ongoing tactics of handling food aid as tool of coercion. Only the urban youth, not old enough to remember the eighties, dares to form an opposition, often risking their own lives and livelihood.
South Africa and other neighbors endorse the election results, Britain issued a lukewarm statement denouncing the election and Mugabe's rule,I haven't heard much from elsewhere. The talk is about rigged election. It does not matter though, whether it was rigged or not. In an atmosphere of near-starvation, fear for one's life under an ever watchful eye of ZANU-PF, the results don't need to be tweaked too much. One of the world's worst-off countries may just take a turn... for the worse again. It is a frustrating and sad day.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 7,036 • Replies: 51
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 11:16 am
One of the news reports from allafrica:

http://allafrica.com/stories/200504040027.html

I am not able to find a U.S. or UN response to the election yet, might be too soon. I'd be interested in official statements if someone else can dig them up though.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 11:30 am
dagmaraka wrote:

I am not able to find a U.S. or UN response to the election yet, might be too soon. I'd be interested in official statements if someone else can dig them up though.


Well, actually the election had been on Thursday last week already, and there had been several comments in the media - here from AFP as of April 2:

Quote:
Britain and the United States criticised the elections as neither free nor fair, but neighboring South Africa said the outcome reflected "the free will of the people."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Mugabe's new government to address the "political and economic problems that have wrecked what only a few years ago was one of Africa's success stories".




I doubt that the UN (who? the Security Council? Annan?) will officially give any comments about the election.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 11:46 am
yes, last week. results were announced yesterday though. hm, haven't encountered rice's statement. from what i read in the news, GB seems most outspoken. at least the loudest critic, anyway, if not very consequential.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 12:08 pm
Kofi Annan's statement. Not satisfactory in the least, but there it is:

New York, 4 April 2005 - Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Zimbabwe

The Secretary-General notes that parliamentary voting held in Zimbabwe on 31 March was conducted peacefully, without the violence that has marred previous elections. He is concerned, however, that the electoral process has not countered the sense of disadvantage felt by opposition political parties who consider the conditions were unfair. He believes the government has a responsibility now to build a climate of confidence that will be essential for national unity and economic recovery in Zimbabwe.

He calls on all sides to engage in constructive dialogue in the period ahead.

source: http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 12:18 pm
Since Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF had officially been declared the winner of the parliamentary elections, first reactions came on April 1/April 2.


Here's, bzw, Annan's statement:

Quote:
New York, 4 April 2005 - Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Zimbabwe

The Secretary-General notes that parliamentary voting held in Zimbabwe on 31 March was conducted peacefully, without the violence that has marred previous elections. He is concerned, however, that the electoral process has not countered the sense of disadvantage felt by opposition political parties who consider the conditions were unfair. He believes the government has a responsibility now to build a climate of confidence that will be essential for national unity and economic recovery in Zimbabwe.

He calls on all sides to engage in constructive dialogue in the period ahead.
Source


Local coverage:
Quote:
Annan expresses concern over fairness of election
Tue 5 April 2005
JOHANNESBURG - United Nations (UN) secretary general Kofi Annan is concerned about the fairness of Zimbabwe's just ended parliamentary election won by President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said in statement that the UN chief was happy that the poll was relatively peaceful compared to the bloodshed and violence that has characaterised previous elections in Zimbabwe.

"He is concerned, however, that the electoral process has not countered the sense of disadvantage felt by opposition political parties who consider the conditions were unfair.

"He believes the government has a responsibility now to build a climate of confidence that will be essential for national unity and economic recovery in Zimbabwe," Eckhard said.

The UN official said Annan was calling the government and the opposition to engage in dialogue to find a solution to Zimbabwe's crisis.

MORGAN Tsvangirai . . . rejected election result



Main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai has rejected the election saying it was massively rigged to secure victory for ZANU PF.

But Tsvangirai has ruled out petitioning the courts to overturn the poll result raising fears he might call the MDC's urban supporters into the streets in a bid to force a rerun of the poll.

Mugabe, who has dismissed as "nonsense" charges that his government used fraud to secure victory, has said he will unleash the army and police to thwart any attempts at a mass uprising. - ZimOnline
Source
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 12:21 pm
Quote:
I'm surprised and saddened that Zimbabwe's neighbours have chosen to ignore the obvious and serious flaws in these elections
Jack Straw
Foreign Secretary
source: Straw condemns Zimbabwe elections
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 12:26 pm
yup, found annan's statement. i don't think it cuts it, but neither do most others. it is so utterly frustrating. the only good thing about mugabe is that he is 81 years old and thus will hopefully not last much longer, although the bugger appears to be in great health.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 04:26 pm
For those, who like me know very little about Zimbabwe but are interested, here is the BBC analysis of one of the main struggles in Zimbabwe: the struggle for land:

Introduction
When Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980 he promised to give white-owned land to the blacks. Yet 20 years on, 4,500 white farmers still owned 70% of the best land.
Now after violent clashes, land invasions and legal challenges, many white farmers have left while others are grimly hanging on. What happened to Mugabe's promise, and why is land such a contentious issue?

Before the Settlers
When the first whites arrived in 1890, the land between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers was populated by the Shona and the Ndebele people, who claimed sovereignty.
It is thought the Shona had been there for about 1,000 years. The Ndebele arrived in the 1830s, having migrated north from Natal after falling out with the Zulu King.

In 1889, the imperialist Cecil Rhodes, who had made a fortune in diamond mining in the Cape, set up the British South Africa Company to explore north of the Limpopo.

He had already obtained exclusive mining rights from the Ndebele king, Lobengula, in return for £100 a month, 1,000 rifles, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and a riverboat. As far as Lobengula was concerned he had not conferred land rights.

The first 200 settlers were each promised a 3,000-acre farm and gold claims in return for carving a path through Mashonaland.

The Shona were too fragmented to resist and the British flag was raised at Fort Salisbury on 13 September 1890. The name Rhodesia was adopted in 1895. It became the British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 04:27 pm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/furniture/in_depth/africa/2000/zimbabwe_crisis/slideshow/s_africa_1889.gifhttp://news.bbc.co.uk/furniture/in_depth/africa/2000/zimbabwe_crisis/slideshow/settlersmap2_3002.gif
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 04:31 pm
Bush War
In 1965, the far-right prime minister Ian Smith unilaterally declared independence after Britain refused to let Rhodesia decolonise as a white supremacist state.
Two major liberation organisations emerged. Zanu, under Robert Mugabe, and Zapu, under Joshua Nkomo. Black nationalist opposition began its armed resistance in 1966.

When international economic sanctions were imposed against Smith's regime, white commercial agriculture was heavily subsidised, making it even harder for African peasants to compete.

The "land question" was a major cause of the guerrilla war, which was fought with increasing ferocity during the 1970s with both sides intimidating and torturing recruits in rural areas.

In 1979, renewed negotiations in London led to the Lancaster House Agreement which paved the way for independence in April 1980. Mugabe, who won a landslide victory in the first free election, promised to resettle blacks on white land.

Independence
Independence saw the transfer of power from whites to blacks, but not land. Thousands of settlers opted for Zimbabwean nationality after independence.
Britain gave the new government £44m for resettlement projects. But the UK says much of the land ended up in the hands of Mr Mugabe's associates rather than the poor. Other international donors have stopped funding government land reform for similar reasons.

Under the Lancaster House constitution the Zimbabwe Government could only buy white land from "willing sellers". When this expired after 10 years the government passed a law empowering it to make compulsory purchases.

But there have been few transfers in the last decade, with the government failing to budget for serious reform.

In 1997 Mugabe announced a hit list of 1,500 farms set for compulsory acquisition. He said Britain should foot the bill for compensating the white farmers because Rhodesian colonists had stolen the land from blacks in the first place.

The Situation Today
Since March 2000, groups of government supporters led by war veterans have occupied many white-owned farms. In the ensuing violence, several white farmers and their black workers have been killed.

Agricultural production has plummeted. Donors say this is one reason why up to six million people could face starvation unless food aid arrives quickly.

Almost all of Zimbabwe's 4,000 white farmers have had their farms listed for acquisition. Under a new law, they must leave their land and homes before receiving compensation. Courts have ruled several times that the bureaucratic process of acquiring land has been breached but the government is determined to press ahead.

About 500 white farmers have decided not to lodge legal appeals and some of these have been paid by the state - albeit in devalued Zimbabwe dollars. Lists of those who will be allocated land have been widely publicised in the state media - but many have not taken up the offer.

Many rural Zimbabweans desperately want more land but they also need aid to buy seeds and fertiliser, which the state does not have the money to provide. Some farms have been allocated to ministers and senior officials in the ruling Zanu-PF party and the army. In urban areas, most people want jobs, rather than land

Land facts
Total population: 12.5m
White population: 70,000 (about 0.6%)
Whites own majority of the best farming land
1m blacks owned 16m hectares - often in drought-prone regions (2000)
4,000 whites owned 11m hectares of prime land (2000)

source
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 06:11 pm
Quote:
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, on Saturday said his party will consult Zimbabweans on the best way forward. Earlier Tsvangirai had hinted his supporters would protest if Zanu PF were to win fraudulently.


Why does that sound so familiar?
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 06:12 pm
I also like that bit of information on the origin of the Rhodesian name. Never knew that.

Thanks, Dag.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 06:24 pm
Good stuff, Dasha!
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 06:37 pm
<curtsey>

Isn't it crazy, that a country developed out of a mining colony? Well, no, back in the day I suppose it was common practice in Africa, but still. The Ndebele tribes were getting it from the British and later from Mugabe. It's hard to decide who was worse to them. But, I think that Zimbabwe had a rather liberal constitution at the time of Independence, and there was a period of a few years of relative freedom. People do remember that. Sort of an institutional memory. I have met a few impressive journalists and civil rights activists here who are waiting to return home to continue their work there. They are hoping to build on these, albeit fleeting memories. I interviewed Tiawan Gongloe, a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard for my article on Sudan. He is a human rights lawyer from Liberia, and our talk covered Liberia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. In any case what he was saying made a lot of sense to me, so here, I'd like to share:

" There are institutional memories, to the extent, that the subsequent government, the post-conflict government wants to rely on those memories. Reconstruction. Members of the international community want to positively intervene and engage in efforts of reconstruction. They want to seek out the institutional memory, or individual memory, whatever they can get, facts that are required for reconstruction. And it is true. Freedom is natural to every man. It is not foreign concept, It may have been conceptualized, or codified into UN treaties, but the question of freedom of expression, free movement, that is natural to mankind, and like I said the free slaves that left from here went to establish a government of our own, a society that would be free, so it was the love of freedom that made them leave a developed country and go to a mosquito land, where many of them died. It was within a conscience, that's what we went for. The denial of freedom, the argument that it is foreign in nature is an argument that Sudanese government will make, an excuse not to comply. These are foreign concepts. Excuse not to comply and to persuade the gullible population that we are doing nothing wrong, we are trying to protect the African culture, don't listen to those people, we tell you don't speak, don't write negative things about your government, show respect for authority. That is a sign that government is corrupt and it is foreign to any society. When you come from a communist country, you understand what is happening in countries like in Africa. Because the rhetoric of governments are very good, they are persuasive, they marshal their arguments and to the ordinary naïve citizen, well, they don't want to be seen as disloyal, unpatriotic, or be jailed. And when you speak up and do get jailed, and suffer, lot of people will not come to your aid and will tell you: why are you looking for trouble? You are foolish, why aren't you like us. Why do you want to kill yourself, why are you so stupid? As a lawyer I met a guy from Ghana and I told him about my work. And he said; what's wrong with you? Why don't you just make your money, as a lawyer, and look for trouble? Us lawyers, we are part of the status quo, so you are supposed to defend the status quo, and make money from the business. Why, you're looking for popularity? I didn't want to come to the U.S. Everyone around me said, OK, you want to fight for justice. Your 12 year old daughter can be raped, 7 year old son kidnapped from school. We are telling you today, because when it happens tomorrow, you will be fully responsible. Mother, father were telling me, if I stay in the country, doing press conference, I put them all in danger. So I decided to leave."
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2005 06:44 pm
geez....
0 Replies
 
07s
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 May, 2005 01:53 am
Vitriolic remarks from Britain were expected. Mugabe is rabidly anti-Blair and vice versa. However as much I would like to think of UK and US being genuinely concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, I still think that the bitterness is being increased by the Mugabe's active role in preventing attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea. On whose behest the coup was to be carried; your guess is as good as mine. Mark Thatcher rings a bell though:)
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Jun, 2005 12:12 pm
And this month, Mugabe's Zimbabwe slides from being yet another petty African dictatorship with a pro forma democracy kept in control through election fraud, censorship and thuggery into something much, much worse ...

In echoes of Pol Pot's Cambodia, Mugabe's regime has started a "clean-up campaign" of the country's cities. Open-air markets and entire neighbourhoods are bulldozered to the ground, its workers jobless, its inhabitants homeless. Wastelands where expansive neighbourhoods were.

The nominal justification is that the government is demolishing illegal settlements. These settlements, of course, is where a great many Zimbabweans have come to live after fleeing the drought and poverty of the countryside; many have lived there for years if not decades.

But in any case the justification is nominal at best. Per BBC World, reporters at the scene testify that many of the demolished neighbourhoods consisted of proper, stone houses. Inhabitants of a demolished Bulawayo neighbourhood said their houses were legal, they paid rent.

People are told the demolition troops will come tonight, or tomorrow, and they quickly gather the possessions they have. Sometimes they are not told. All are left under the open sky in the Zimbabwean winter. Floods of refugees are trekking to the countryside, trying to join family in villages.

Many inhabitants say they think the government is chasing them out because they supported the opposition. The cities, and particularly its poor, bustling neighbourhoods, have been strident opposition strongholds.

Their inhabitants are now driven to a countryside thats traditionally more strictly controlled by government honchos and thugs. The people there are starving, and the government officials get to decide who receives food aid - and who doesn't. Opposition supporters are not likely to be among the former.

One camp has been identified, reported BBC World, where several thousand inhabitants of demolished neighbourhoods were forcibly transported in trucks. They are not allowed out. There is no food, there are no sanitary provisions.

I wanted to link in these reports that have appeared the last two-three weeks in The Independent - and I will, but I see that they're all paid-only content by now. But they give an indication on what to Google up on other news sites:

2 June: Mugabe's city crackdown leaves millions homeless

10 June: Mugabe takes his revenge on poor by destroying thousands of homes

12 June: Zimbabwe undercover: how Mugabe is burning opponents out of their homes


I'll type this over from the 10 June report:

Quote:
It's sunrise on the outskirts of Bulawayo. In the orange half-light you can see the huts are little more than bare mud walls. Everything that can be salvaged has been stripped off. The contents of the meagre homes now lie a few feet away in a scrapheap of rusting sheet metal, plastic pots and broken furniture.

Amid the wreckage, entire families huddle together under plastic sheets to get some shelter from the winter chill.

Julius is the first to crawl out, his breath making clouds in the cold air. He explains the police came on Monday and told them they were evicted and they would be back to burn their homes down. No reason was given.

[..] A church worker, who preferred not to be named, hands out small sacks of porridge to the gathering crowd. "This is devastating. What are you cleaning? Nothing, you are cleaning nothing" he says. "This is a punishment, these people who have nothing are being punished for voting against Mugabe."

[..] In the centre of Bulawayo, the once thriving 5th street market is now a solemn stretch of twisted metal and charred wood.

Last week, without warning police trucks arrived and the demolition began. Tons of fruit and vegetables, cooking oil, salt, sugar and other basic supplies were confiscated and the stalls were torched. Those who avoided arrest sit listlessly on the pavements. The little that is left is hawked cautiously on street corners. Sweet potatoes are offered warily, as though they are drugs.

[..] Despite yesterday's protests, police contniued to drive out residents of at least one of Harare's poorest townships and the mass arrests, said to top 30,000, continue unabated.

"Police are now in Hathcliffe... rounding up everyone and piling them onto lorries. Their belongings are being put on separate lorries, so they fear they will lose everything," opposition MP Trudy Stevenson said. "They are not being told where they are being taken, but they have the impression it is far away."

[..] According to UN estimates, at least 200,000 people have been made homeless and that follows a warning from the World Food Programme that Zimbabwe faces a "humanitarian crisis" with four million at risk of famine.

[..] Mr Mugabe's critics say the real reason for the destructin is the ageing president wants to empty the cities to pre-empt a major uprising. By forcing hundreds of thousands of potential opposition supporters into rural areas where the government controls the food supply, hunger can be used to cement the government's grip on power.

"What we are going to see is selective starvation. What Mugabe wants is a Pol Pot-style depopulation of the cities, corrailing people into the countryside. Once they are there, they will be hungry and anxious and therefore compliant," a rights activist said.

The tactic is working in Julius' village. At the hut next door, Thenkiwe and her seven children are boiling some water but have nothing to put in it. Her husband has already left to find a day's work somewhere.

Julius, like his neighbours, has no rural retreat to go to. So he stands around and squints in the direction of town, waiting for the police and the bulldozers to come. The children won't be going to school today, for fear of being separated from their families.

The volunteers, who have run out of sacks of porridge, offer a prayer: "Lord, Hide them from the police."
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Jun, 2005 03:59 pm
Yeah - and now he's clearing all the "shanty-towns" - a number of which appeared to have been full of substantial houses - leaving the poor homeless.

They think that is because of how many of them voted.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jun, 2005 05:18 am
Ehm, yes ... <points dlowan to the post directly above hers>
0 Replies
 
 

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