Yep - lots of Zimbabwe in the news this week, what with Tsvangirai and other leaders being brutally beaten up at a prayer demonstration and then brought to court.
And talking about the epitome of sickening: beating women up severely, and then when ambulances are taking them to medical care in a South-African hospital, intercepting the ambulances and putting the women under arrest.
Zimbabwe Opposition Members Re-Arrested
The Associated Press
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Three Zimbabwean opposition activists were arrested as they tried to leave the country Saturday, including two who were allegedly beaten by police and were going to South Africa to seek medical treatment, a party official said.
Arthur Mutambara, head of a faction of the Zimbabwean opposition group Movement for Democratic Change, was arrested at Harare International Airport as he was trying to leave for South Africa, said Roy Bennett, the movement's exiled treasurer-general.
Also arrested in a separate incident were Grace Kwinje and Sekai Holland, who were to attempting to go to South Africa for medical treatment, he said.
"We are not sure why they were arrested. Tensions are very high," Bennett said.
Tawanda Mutasah, director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, said the two women, among the most severely injured when Zimbabwean police broke up a protest gathering last Sunday, were trying to travel to Johannesburg to receive specialized post-traumatic care.
He said the ambulance carrying the women from a clinic in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, to the airport, where they were to leave in a medical rescue aircraft, was stopped on the tarmac by officers from Zimbabwe's security forces.
The women's passports were taken and they were told they needed a clearance certificate from the Department of Health. They were then instructed to go to Harare's central police station but were later allowed to return to the clinic under police guard.
"That the Zimbabwean government now resorts to arresting people in ambulances in clear need of specialist care, is an indication of the repressive lengths they're prepared to go," said Mutasah, adding lawyers for the women were trying to get a court order to allow them to receive treatment.
Zimbabwean police used tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition to crush the March 11 protest gathering, and beat activists, including the main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, according to opposition members.
Tsvangirai left the hospital Friday battered but defiant, pledging to "soldier on until Zimbabwe is free." His supporters vowed to drive Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe from office with a campaign of civil disobedience.
Mugabe on Friday warned his opponents against inciting unrest.
"If they do it again, we will bash them again," he said in an address to his party's youth wing, state radio reported.
The latest violence has drawn new attention to a deteriorating situation in the southern African country, where the increasingly autocratic Mugabe is blamed by opponents for repression, corruption, acute food shortages and inflation of 1,600 percent _ the highest in the world. [..]
An opinion of an African activist (Kenyan, I think) picked up from the Transitional Justice Network listerve. Sounds so simple, but it's a lot of "has to happens" and little of "how". Not to say that the author has to know how, just thinking that nobody knows exactly how. It's gonna be a rough road ahead.
The Zimbabwe case keep taking new angle every day. By the tyrant issuing travel ban to opposition, i htink he is escalating the problem rather than helping to resolve the conflict. On the other hand many groups opposed to Mugabe rule are paying more attention on how to remove him instead of working out a negotiated transtion. I think by merely removing the strongman Mugabe Zimbabwe's problems are going to be resolved.
I suggested the following: First, let the pro-change groups and in collaboration with their friends in Zimbabwe and outside develop a comprehensive blueprint that clearly states what new democratic Zimbabwe should be. This should be the document to negotaite with and use it to rally Zibambweans around it. Ask Keyans what it means to just fight to remove a strongman without a clear roadmap and the content of the transtion itself. Secondly, the civil society gorups and oppoistion have to find a working formula and mobilize Zimbabweans to intensify internal pressure on Mugabe. To stregthen this engagement, the international community have to increase diplomatic pressure against Mugabe.
Thirdly, is that African Union is increasing becoming an embarrassment. The Union has demonstrated a disastrous performance in its diplomatic and political engagement. The Union cannot remain a credible continetal body without exercising and yielding political influence over her rogue member states. The show by President Kikwete was not very encouraging. The Union has to do more than what is doing now. I think the body is yet to come out of the old OAU inertia. Lookat how it has handled Somalia, Darfur, and other conflict flash points. Finally, i think African continent is a very strange one. It is in this continent where despots are let off the hook after coming massive atrocities against citizens. A reversal to this is important and urgent. I see no reason why Mugabe cannot be a potential candidate fro prosecution either locally or internationally.
I encourage Zimbabweans to keep spirit of struggle on.
Finally - one of the neighbouring countries speaks up loud and clear. Its clear to see why, aside from humanitarian considerations - massive refugee flows from Zimbabwe would threaten Zambia's own precarious economy.
Zambia: Zimbabwe 'sinking Titanic'
March 21, 2007
- Zambian president urges southern Africa to take new approach to Zimbabwe
- Growing number in Zimbabwe fleeing economic and political turmoil
- West vows sanctions on Mugabe government over crackdown on opposition
- Inflation is 1,700 percent, food and fuel shortages and 80 percent jobless rate
The president of Zambia has called for other southern African countries to take a different approach to Zimbabwe, which he described as a "sinking Titanic" as growing numbers of refugees flee economic and political turmoil.
Levy Mwanawasa's comments on Wednesday were reported by Reuters to be the one of the strongest African comments on the mounting crisis in neighboring Zimbabwe.
Mwanawasa said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had achieved little in negotiations with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
"Quiet diplomacy has failed to help solve the political chaos and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe," Mwanawasa said late on Monday in neighboring Namibia.
"As I speak right now, one SADC country has sunk into such economic difficulties that it may be likened to a sinking Titanic whose passengers are jumping out in a bid to save their lives."
Zambian government newspapers reported that Mwanawasa had suggested the SADC "would soon take a stand" on Zimbabwe.
But things might be going very fast now suddenly - in four days' time, Mugabe's own cronies might bring him down. If not straight away at least by putting an end date on his rule.
Quote: The forces of change mount against Mugabe
The Daily Telegraph
Robert Mugabe is facing humiliation at the hands of his rattled political supporters, who appear set on shattering his dream of a fresh term as president of Zimbabwe.
The 83-year-old must face a meeting of the central committee of his Zanu-PF party on March 29 knowing that his internal opponents are confident of blocking his bid to stand again when his term of office runs out next year.
In an attempt to save his political skin, the "old man" has hit on a complicated formula that he hopes will force his opponents to back him. He wants his term extended by two years, to 2010, so that presidential and full parliamentary election cycles become synchronised. Otherwise, he has threatened, he will call an early parliamentary election next year, forcing his -party's MPs to campaign alongside him.
But those alternatives have horrified many in the party. With the economy out of control and inflation on course to hit 4,000 per cent this year, the last thing his MPs want is to appear on the same ballot as Mr Mugabe.
"If a dog were to stand against him, the dog would win," one insider observed last week.
Nor, because of the rapidly collapsing economy, are they prepared to allow him to hang on until 2010. One Zanu-PF insider said: "We're all against him now. He will struggle to get our support for him to be the candidate in any election."
The central committee meeting is crucial because, in December, Mr Mugabe failed to gain the unanimous endorsement of the party's annual conference to extend his presidency for two years. Instead, it delegated the decision to the central committee.
After being written off more times than he has had opposition rallies broken up, Mr Mugabe's time may finally be running out. [..]
The article then proceeds to describe each of the contenders within the ZANU-PF who might take Mugabe's office in case of an inside takeover, so read the whole thing
It also has the by now familiar economic horror tales:
The president is not going to leave office because of a few skirmishes in a minority of townships around Harare last week, but there is one opponent he cannot face down: the economy.
In the past 10 days the exchange rate for US dollars has doubled. Fuel prices are rising by about 20 per cent every two days. "No one will travel next week, because they can't afford the fares. I can't pay this price for fuel," said one angry driver. Commuter fares went up about 30 per cent last week. The talk in the streets is of money, the cost of food, soap and bus fares, and where to get the lowest prices.
When the price of milk jumped on Wednesday to about Z$17,000 for a two-litre bottle, from Z$10,000 on Tuesday, a woman at a supermarket check-out till in Harare let out a wail. At the official rate of exchange, that two litres of milk would have cost about £36.
I have followed your thread with interest, Lil Kay, and thought of you this evening as i listened to the CBC Radio program Dispatches
, which is an international news program. Tonight's broadcast included a piece on Zimbabwe, and an interview with the leader or a former leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (i missed the beginning of the story, and didn't get his exact name and position in MDC).
You can visit the site of CBC's Dispatches program here.
There you can listen to the Zimbabwe story and the interview.
You can visit the website of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change here.
I recommend listening to the program to anyone interested in Zimbabwe--rather than that i would give a confused and likely incomplete summary, to to the CBC site to listen to the program.
Oops, sorry, Dag's thread.
Yes, I noticed the news reports yesterday, nimh. Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
African countries addressed this extremely serious situation! But too little movement too late?