and the decision to play or not to play Cricket
Feb 15th - Update March 28th 2003
then to Continue (or not) the suspension from the Commonwealth
(Update Dec 10th)
Then Cricket again!
(Updates March 11 2004 and beyond...)
Finally, an election where nobody even has the energy left to complain or resist.
March 2007
Zimbabwe in its death throes
May 2007
Cricket again
March 28th 2008
An election with just a chance....
March 31st....April 1st...April 2nd..3rd....waiting
April 8th 2008 onward.....
I expect the worst...
April 21st...it is happening all the time
April 30th: A little progress
May 10th: Presidential run-off challenge accepted by MDC
MAY10-JUNE 7th - Mugabe on the attack
JUNE 22 The MDC throw in the towel after continuous savagery by Mugabe's thugs. They abandon the election run-off.
JUNE 27th: Mugabe persists with the election anyway.
July 8th: The world decides Mugabe's presidency is illegitimate,
but it will do nothing,
JULY 21 - Mugabe, under strong international pressure, agrees to talks with MDC leader Tsvangirai with Mbeki as mediator
SEPTEMBER 11th 2008 - A Deal is Reached
SEPTEMBER 25th - but it is seen to be meaningless
NOVEMBER - No way to describe it.
FEBRUARY 11th 2009 - Tsvangirai agrees terms in order to spare further misery
JULY 7th 2009  There will be no justice, but this is better because it could not get worse
JULY 30th 2009 - There is at last progress.
NOVEMBER 30th - The currency is now dollarised. There is growth,
but innocent people are still being murdered all the time.

FEB 15th 2003
Some people must wonder why there was no way the ownership of agricultural land could not have been shared progressively more widely between the different ethnic groups in Zimbabwe.  The answer has to be that to do so required drawing up plans, procedures and laws to enable this to take place with some sort of equity for the citizens of Zimbabwe, and to ensure that the result would be one which allowed agricultural activity to continue at a level that at least supported the home economy.  It is usually impossible to devise procedures which are completely fair for the simple reason that the historic position is so complex and varied that to value the time, energy and investment that has contributed to any current situation, let alone any valuation of future benefit, defies any formulaic solution.

On the other hand a compromise solution that would have been infinitely better for all parties than what has now come to pass would not have been too difficult.  I do not know if the British Government is to blame for failing to take enough initiative in this matter, but it is clear that President Mugabe was unwilling to accept any solution that did not result in the distribution of land on a political basis, favourable to his supporters.  It would appear that this was the rock on which all progress foundered.

The current state of affairs is in effect a civil war of attrition, in which there are no winners, within which the economy has collapsed, all civil rights are ignored and no property or persons are secure from attack.  

Although Cricket is now a commercialised sport, our national team represents our country. For this reason its activities in Zimbabwe are different from a private enterprise trading company.  Although the UK government cannot prevent the team from going to Zimbabwe and playing there, and are indeed quite right not to try to, the team themselves are aware that they go there on behalf of the public at home. They are only too used to receiving both the praise and the blame from this public according to their results.

For this reason it is clear that the team will decide on whether or not to play not only on the basis of their own interests but taking into account the views of their countrymen and women.  It follows that if this decision results in a severe financial loss, the public at home could voluntarily raise funds to compensate them.  There should be nothing to stop the Lottery Fund contributing something also.   All this is so simple and logical that it is strange that we make such heavy weather of it.  Heaven help us if one day this country is faced with a really complex situation....

Since writing the above, it appears that the cricketers may have taken a decision not to go.  This is perfectly reasonable.  I hope the public will support them.  

UPDATE March 28th
I said there would be no updates on this story, but it has to be said that things are going badly in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is taking advantage if the world's attention being on Iraq to make life worse still.

Mugabe has taken Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth. Heads of some African states who believe that the decision  to continue the suspension of Zimbabwe, taken at the recent Commonwealth meeting, was taken undemocratically are incorrect for the following reasons. The temporary suspension, which they accept was taken democratically, was taken for very clear, stated reasons. Although that decision was due for re-examination at this time, the original reasons for suspension have not only not been removed, they have been exacerbated and added to, to a dramatic extent. To have readmitted Zimbabwe under the leadership of Mugabe, before the smallest indication of a cessation, let alone a reversal of those policies and activities that caused the original suspension, would have been illogical to the point of absurdity, effectively throwing out the original decision to suspend in the first place.  If that was what the Commonwealth as an institution had in mind, it would have required a full blooded formal motion to bring such a reversal of policy about; in the absence of which, the temporary suspension must automatically be continued.

Dear God - it is so simple. All the government has to say is: "We cannot forbid our cricketers to go to Zimbabwe, or to play cricket there. But we note that the majority of British citizens do not want our national team to be playing cricket, representing us in that country, while the terrible abuses by Mugabe and his followers continue. Respected cricketers of Zimbabwe have also spoke out with the same opinion. We do not believe that our national team should be forced to go by fear of a massive fine and, under the protocol already agreed by the international cricketing community, such a fine should not be imposed."

How hard is that? Is any of it untrue? Does any of it represent government interference in sport? I think not - the government would simply be quoting fact, the opinion of others, and simple morality.

So in MAY 2004 we get:
"But it seems likely the ECB will confirm the tour because it could face a hefty fine and possible suspension by the International Cricket Council if it pulled out."

and then
Nov 15 2004
The chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board has admitted he will be glad when the tour to Zimbabwe is over.

David Morgan and two other senior officials from Lord's will make the trip along with coach Duncan Fletcher, captain Michael Vaughan and the team.

"We believe its entirely appropriate we give this added support on what clearly is an unusual tour.

"We are determined to ensure that none of the players will be involved in any state occasion," he told the BBC.

"We've made that absolutely clear to Zimbabwe Cricket."

Asked whether he would be willing to meet Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, Morgan replied: "I would not expect to have to meet him.

"I will be talking to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London for guidance in terms of protocol should Mr Mugabe or any of his senior ministers appear in a place I happen to be in."

Fast bowler Darren Gough claims the England squad are unanimously opposed to the tour of Zimbabwe.

Gough says the players have only agreed to tour to save the ECB from financial disaster.

"England will lose between £10m and £20m if we don't go," he told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

This is the most pathetic, disgusting and unnecessary course of action whch has been forced on them. But since they have to go, I wish them well and hope they play as well as have been doing in the recent past.

NOV 24th 2004
Now, the ICC says, because most British journalists have been banned by Mugabe from attending, if any British players wish to pull out they will not be penalised. Presumably that means that if the whole team pulls out they will not be penalised. We have to think carefully about this. Perhaps there is a certain perverse logic in the ICC's game. Method in their apparent madness? Did they anticipate that by sticking to their guns about the separation of sport from politics they might force Mugabe to do the same? Having witnessed many such arguments in other sport-versus-politics debates in the past, from inside and outside and both sides, I was sceptical about this.being their approach. I considered the ICC stance was based on an absolutist approach with minds and ears and eyes closed, as has so often been the case and many other instances and sports in the past. We shall see what transpires. The team is now in a very difficult situation, as a team and as individuals. I do not think they should be put in that position, and that is the reason for my objections throughout these pages.

UPDATE NOV 24th 2004
Now, the ICC says, because most British journalists have been banned by Mugabe from attending, if any British players wish to pull out they will not be penalised. Presumably that means that if the whole team pulls out they will not be penalised. We have to think carefully about this. Perhaps there is a certain perverse logic in the ICC's game. Method in their apparent madness? Did they anticipate that by sticking to their guns about the separation of sport from politics they might force Mugabe to do the same? Having witnessed many such arguments in other sport-versus-politics debates in the past, from inside and outside and both sides, I was sceptical about this.being their approach. I considered the IIC stance was based on an absolutist approach with minds and ears and eyes closed, as has so often been the case and many other instances and sports in the past. We shall see what transpires. The team is now in a very difficult situation, as a team and as individuals. I do not think they should be put in that position, and that is the reason for my objections throughout these pages.

NOV 25th - Glad to see the English Cricket authorities taking responsibilty to make decisions. However the ICC having forced Mugabe to back down, they are now forcing the team to play. These people are fools, hoist by their own petard, and Mugabe has run rings round them.

APRIL 4th 2004
The people of Zimbabwe have been crushed into hopeless submission. At least the election was non violent and it may even refect the will of the people to some extent, they just want to survive in what peace can be managed. Their only hope now is to wait for the Mugabe to die. He is still living in the past, a victim of his own mistaken perceptions. The people he has made dependent on him are now both his supporters and enemies. A civil war is to be avoided.

From: Darren McDonald [mailto:dmcdonald@angloplat.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 4:14 PM
Subject: FW: News from Zimbabwe - PLEASE PASS ON FAR & WIDE
Importance: High

Darren McDonald
Senior Protection Services Leader
Modikwa Platinum Mine
013 2302072 (W) / 013 2302036 (Office Fax)/
0154183231(Fax nation)/ 0826062673 (C)

Please pray for these people and keep this email rolling.

A letter from Zim......
Sent in by John Winter:

I reckon that these are the last days of TKM and ZPF.
The darkest hour is always before dawn.

We are all terrified at what they are going to destroy next........I mean they are actually plowing down brick and mortar houses and one white family with twin boys of 10 had no chance of salvaging anything when 100 riot police came in with AK's and bulldozers and demolished their beautiful house - 5 bedrooms and pine ceilings - because it was "too close to the airport"..so we are feeling extremely insecure right now. You know - I am aware that this does not help you sleep at night, but if you do not know - how can you help?

Even if you put us in your own mental ring of light and send your guardian angels to be with us - that is a help - but I feel so cut off from you all knowing I cannot tell you what's going on here simply because you will feel uncomfortable. There is no ways we can leave so that is not an option. I just ask that you all pray for us in the way that you know how, and let me know that you are thinking of us and sending out positive vibes... that's all.

You can't just be in denial and pretend its not going on. To be frank with you, its genocide in the making and if you do not believe me, read the Genocide Report by Amnesty International which says we are IN level seven (level 8 is after its happened and everyone is in denial). If you don't want me to tell you these things then it means you have not dealt with your own fear, but it does not help me to think you are turning your back on our situation.

We need you to get the news OUT that we are all in a fearfully dangerous situation here. Too many people turn their backs and say - oh well, that's what happens in Africa. This government has GONE MAD and you need to publicize our plight or how can we be rescued?

You can't just say "oh you attract your own reality". The petrol queues are a reality, the pall of smoke all around our city is a reality, the thousands of homeless people sleeping outside in 0 Celsius with no food water, shelter and bedding are a reality.

Today a family approached me, brother of the gardener's wife with two small children. Their home was trashed and they will have to sleep outside. We already support 8 people and a child on this property and electricity is going up next month by 250% as is water. How can I take another family of 4 - and yet how can I turn them away to sleep out in the open?

I am not asking you for money, or a ticket out of here - I am asking you to FACE the fact that we are in deep and terrible danger and I want you to pass on our news and pictures and don't just press the delete button for God's sake. Help in the way that you know how. Face the reality of what is going on here and SEND OUT THE WORD. The more people that know about it, the more chance we have of United Nations coming to our aid.

Please stop ignoring and denying what's happening. Would you like to be protected from the truth and then if we are eliminated how would you feel? Surely you would say "if only we knew how bad it really was we could have helped in some way". I know we chose to stay here and so we "deserve" what's coming to us. For now we ourselves, have food, shelter, a little fuel and a bit of money for the next meal - but what is going to happen next? Will they start on our houses? All property is going to belong to the State now. I want to send out my Title Deeds to one of you because if they get a hold of those I can't fight for my rights.

We no longer have SW radio which told us everything that was happening because the government jammed it out of existence - we don't have any reporters, and no one is allowed to photograph. If we had reporters here they would have an absolute field day. Even the pro government Herald has written that people are shocked, stunned, bewildered and blown mindless by the wanton destruction of everyone's homes which are supposed to be "illegal but which a huge percentage of them actually do have licenses for. Please my children - have some compassion and HELP by sending out the articles and personal reports so that something can be DONE.  


"In Germany they came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Martin Niemoeller


Email Disclaimer

AUGUST 22 2005
Now, a year and 5 months too late, the government has stated what I suggested they should have said in March 2004. A bit too late, guys.

Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe hospital
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been taken to hospital after appearing in court with injuries following two days in police detention.

He was taken from Harare magistrates court with several other activists who were detained at an opposition rally on Sunday. Many of them were bandaged.

Mr Tsvangirai accused the police of "a sadistic attack on defenceless people".

One person was shot dead as riot police broke up the meeting, called to pray for the political and economic crisis.

In a rare public comment on its neighbour's government, South Africa has called on Zimbabwe to respect the rule of law.

"South Africa urges the Zimbabwean government to ensure that the rule of law, including respect for rights of all Zimbabweans and leaders of various political parties, is respected," said deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad.

Deep cuts

BBC reporter Brian Hungwe, who was at the courthouse, said the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader appeared with 10 of about 50 detainees who were brought to the court.

One of us was killed. They shot my friend Gift Tandare dead
MDC activist
He says Mr Tsvangirai was badly swollen, his right eye was shut, he had deep cuts and several stitches and could barely walk.

The other detainees had similar injuries, our reporter says.

Mr Tsvangirai stood next to Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a rival MDC faction, while many of the activists sang and chanted, AFP news agency reported.

A lawyer for the group, Beatrice Mtetwa, said they would be charged with incitement to violence, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The detainees were taken to hospital after prosecutor Florence Ziyambi said they would be allowed to receive medical attention.

'Brutal' crackdown

The action against Sunday's meeting in Harare, which the police say was banned, has been strongly condemned by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and by the United States and European Union.

2003 : Charged with treason - later dropped
2002: Lost election to Mugabe, charged with treason - later dropped
2000: Charged with treason - later dropped
2000: MDC won 57 parliamentary seats
1999: Helped form MDC

Mr Ban's spokeswoman said the arrests "violate the basic democratic right of citizens to engage in peaceful assembly".

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, urged Zimbabwe to conduct an "immediate, impartial and comprehensive investigation" into what happened.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for Mr Tsvangirai's immediate release.

"The world community again has been shown that the regime of Robert Mugabe is ruthless and repressive and creates only suffering for the people of Zimbabwe," she said.

'Beating police'

Zimbabwe's Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said the police's action was justified as they were attacked by opposition activists.

"The opposition has been involved in violence, caught by police with weapons of destruction and destroying cars and stores and beating up people," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"They've been beating up police you know. That is what government cannot tolerate."

The government said the rally breached a ban on political gatherings imposed after violence at a demonstration last month.

Civil discontent in Zimbabwe is rising over the country's economic crisis, with chronic unemployment and inflation running at more than 1,700% - the highest in the world.

MARCH 15th 2007
Morgan Tsvangirai was not beaten up in the course of a demonstration. He was attacked and beaten up when he went to visit others who had been detained by the police. The message from Mugabe is that anyone who opposes his rule by any assembly will be beaten up.

Mugabe tells critics to 'go hang'
Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe has said Western critics of his rule can "go hang", in response to accusations of mistreatment of opposition leaders.

Mr Mugabe said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change had triggered violence which led to arrests and alleged beatings of its leaders.

Western countries are considering extending sanctions against Zimbabwean officials in response to the violence.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is still in hospital after the alleged beatings.

MAY 13th 2007
Australia PM Howard is absolutely right to stop his cricketers touring in Zimbabwe and if necessary take their passports away, and tell the ICC to shape up. We should have done it years ago. (Not that any cricketers would object to having their passports removed temporarily to save them from being sued by a demented ICC). Mugabe runs a government of crooks and murderers. Appropriating land is the least of his crimes. Giving it to people who cannot farm it and thereby wrecking the entire economy, that's a crime.

MARCH 27th 2008 
ZIMBABWE is so damaged economically it is irretrievable unless Mugabe goes and the International Community takes over till it is back on its feet. Mugabe, even if he wins, can do nothing. He has no ideas and no means to carry them out even if he did.

Zimbabwe security forces on full alert ahead of polls

by Susan Njanji  AFP Fri Mar 28, 2:29 PM ET

Zimbabwe's security forces were on full alert Friday to head off possible violence at this weekend's elections as opponents of Robert Mugabe vowed to give him his marching orders after 28 years in power.

After an election campaign largely devoid of the bloodshed which has marred previous ballots, the country's top policeman warned any violence would be met with an iron fist.

Armoured vehicles could be seen in township areas as organisers made final preparations for Saturday's much-anticipated joint parliamentary and presidential elections.

With state media predicting Mugabe should crush his challengers, a coalition of human rights groups said there was no way the electoral process could be said to reflect the will of the people.

Meanwhile the 84-year-old president wrapped up campaigning with a fresh broadside against the old colonial power Britain, saying his ballot box rivals Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni were their puppets.

"Tomorrow defend your land, defend your national sovereignty. Remember Zimbabwe is not for sale," Mugabe told his final campaign rally in Harare.

The election comes at a time when Zimbabwe is grappling with the impact of the world's highest rate of inflation -- officially put at 100,580.2 percent -- and an unemployment level which has breached the 80 percent mark.

Once seen as southern Africa's breadbasket, the country is suffering from previously unheard of shortages of even the most basic foodstuffs such as bread.

Mugabe, who has ruled uninterrupted since independence in 1980, has blamed the economic chaos on the West which imposed sanctions intended to only hit his inner circle after he allegedly rigged his 2002 re-election.

While Tsvangirai has called for supporters of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to refrain from violence if it is not declared the winner, the party has warned such an outcome could lead to fighting similar to that seen following the disputed outcome of Kenya's election in December.

In an eve of poll press conference, police commissioner Augustine Chihuri said anyone who harboured "evil" intentions would face the full force of the law.

"Those who have been breathing fire about the Kenyan-style violence should be warned that violence is a poor substitute for intelligence and that it is a monster that can devour its creator."

Mugabe himself has warned his opponents to not even "dare" think about resorting to violence in the event of a victory for the incumbent and his Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front party.

Tsvangirai, who believes Mugabe cheated him of victory in the last presidential election in 2002, says only vote-rigging will prevent him from winning this time.

In his final push for votes, the MDC leader was confident of victory and promised: "This time we won't fail."

"It's now time to give Mugabe a red card and his pension," he told supporters.

Former finance minister Makoni, who has also expressed confidence of victory in a free and fair election, meanwhile finished his campaign with a walkabout in Harare.

The MDC and Makoni have accused Mugabe of a systematic attempt to fix the election in his favour, allowing security forces into polling booths, adding phantom voters to the electoral roll and restricting access to state media.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe movement, which includes a raft of pressure groups as well as the MDC, issued a statement on Friday saying the polls were a charade.

"Tomorrow's general election is illegitimate. Whatever the outcome that results from it, that process will not be a true and legitimate expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe," it said.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, whose executives are appointed by Mugabe, insisted however that claims of rigging were unfounded.

"The question of ghosts coming to vote is always mentioned and we have never seen ghosts coming to vote," said the registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede.

Amid the claims that the outcome had been pre-determined, state media predicted Mugabe would win an outright majority in the first round of voting, thus negating the need for a run-off within three weeks.

Citing a survey by university researchers, the Herald daily said Mugabe would win 57 percent of votes, while Tsvangirai would get 27 percent and Makoni 14 percent.

As well as voting for a president and 210 members of parliament, the 5.9 million strong electorate will choose the make-up of councils nationwide.

MARCH 31st 2008
The election is over. As far as the election for President is concerned it is pretty obvious that Mugabe has lost. However, since he and his party have control of all government systems, the army and the police, Mugabe will probably just laugh at the opposition. In any country where the civil service, army, justice system and police are politicised it is hardly possible for an opposition to take power. The only hope is for the international community to re-establish a new working currency for the country and offer to use it to employ the alternative government as soon as Mugabe stands down. The World Bank, IMF and the UN are now on notice to prove their validity.

APRIL 1st 2008
It now looks certain the MDC Party of Tsvangirai has won the Presidential Election and the Parliamentary election The delay now must be due to negotiations with Mugabe and Zanu PF to see what sort of truth and reconciliation agreements can be reached. Will there be exoneration or immunity for Mugabe against charges of torture and murder carried out by his followers? To what extent will the courts pursue those who appropriated land and property illegally? There is going to have to be some dealing with regard to penalties, if not for restitution, as to pursue the law to its full extent, whether national or international, would now be an endless and possibly in some cases counterproductive pursuit.

APRIL 2nd 2008
According to official sources in Zimbabwe my assumptions about negotiations are wrong. There are no negotiations. The result of the elections is there is no majority on either side, and there will be a run-off. The MDC also say there are no negotiations, they are awaiting the proper publication of the correct results. Either way, it is clear Mugabe is trying to save face even if he can't save his dictatorship, while his followers are preparing to save their skins and their means and their Chinese bankrolls by one means or another. Bishop Tutu advises an international peace-keeping force, including the UK in a discreet role, should be deployed. If only it were that easy.

Best case scenario: if the MDC accepts the (obviously bogus) claim that a run-off in three weeks time is necessary because the results are so close, this may keep things calm, save face and give Mugabe and his henchmen time to accept defeat and make their arrangements. Worse case scenario: Mugabe and co will use the time to make threats and bribes sufficient to win the run-off.

The above was my speculation this morning. Now, at 10:15pm, there has been no advance but only confirmation of the same thoughts from John Simpson in Harari.

APRIL 3rd 2008
Things are not looking good. Mugabe will not admit defeat, intends to go for a run-off at least, and clearly intends to win by one means or another. Two foreign journalists have been arrested and the offices of the MDC raided by security forces.

APRIL 8th 2008
We can now expect the worst. Mugabe will fight. He will want revenge. He is a seriously damaged individual. If he was an animal he would be put down on humane grounds to prevent further damage. We don't do that to deranged, immature intellectuals. A tranquilizer dart followed by asylum accommodation requires access and the acceptance of those around him who unfortunately have nailed their colours to his mast. The last days of Hitler were complicated too. Having studied Hitler's personal secretary's account I can't say I have come to a conclusion as to what action should be taken.

APRIL 13th 2008
Mugabe is playing a very clever game indeed. Having sent his goons out to commandeer various properties and threaten key communities, he has picked 23 constituencies where the MDC won the Parliamentary vote and got the electoral commissioner to order a recount on the grounds of possible errors. We know already that every member of the security services was ordered to vote for Mugabe, along with all others who were employed by the state, so the votes were already closer than they should have been. A recount, rather than a new ballot, is an ingenious way of trying to claw back any marginal seats. If he can get back control of Parliament, he is well on the way to being able to find a way to force a rerun of the Presidential vote. At that point he will use powerful tactics of intimidation. Zimbabwe is up against a very clever man who does things in the right order...

APRIL 16th 2008
The Zimbabwean ambassador to the UN asks "what is the problem, when the last US Presidential election had a six week delay because of problems with the Florida vote?" But this does not seem to me to be a reasonable comparison. In Florida, the problems were made clear very soon and there was a running commentary and continually updated timetable of the process to resolve the problems. The vote was very close in Florida and some say that even at the end the decision was flawed. But in Zimbabwe there is, according to the counts at the voting stations, no question of a close result in spite of Mugabe and Zanu PF threatening all government employees with the sack or worse unless they voted as they were told. There is no possible doubt that in a free vote Mugabe would have been defeated devastatingly. If Mugabe has a legitimate case, why are his henchmen sending thugs out to beat up the opposition supporters?

APRIL 21st 2008
Tuesday, Zimbabwean church leaders issued a joint statement calling for international intervention to help end the country's election crisis, saying people were being tortured, abducted and some murdered in a campaign against opposition supporters.

The leaders of all church denominations in Zimbabwe also called for the immediate announcement of results from the March 29 presidential election.

The arms shipment from China has fortunately been stopped from unloading in South Africa for onward shipment. That's the only good news.

APRIL 30th 2008
Official Zimbabwe sources announce the results of the Presidential Election was Tsvangirai 47% to Mugabe 43% and this will require a run-off. Let us hope that what has happened since April 1st will give Zimbabweans the courage, if there is a run-off, to give Tsvangirai a 75% lead or more. The worst case scenario, however, will be further intimidation of voters to reverse the original outcome.

MAY 10th 2008
As feared, intimidation has been widespread and there are plans to have Mugabe's men in every polling booth, with police authority, to let voters know they are being observed. Nevertheless Tsvangirai accepts the run-off challenge. There is no other way.

Tsvangirai to contest Zimbabwe presidential runoff


Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Saturday he would contest a second-round presidential runoff, but called for international peacekeepers and observers to ensure a fair vote.

Tsvangirai, who beat veteran President Robert Mugabe in a first round of voting in March, also called for violence in Zimbabwe to end before the as yet unscheduled second round could take place.

"The MDC has decided that we will contest the runoff election," Tsvangirai told a press conference here, flanked by the leadership of his Movement for Democratic Change party.

Tsvangirai had previously refused to say whether he would take part -- even though failure to do so would have handed a victory to Mugabe -- and has accused the government of organising a campaign of terror against his supporters.

Doctors, trade unions and teachers have described beatings and intimidation by government-backed militias and the authorities have been rounding up an increasing number of high-profile opponents.

The MDC has said at least 30 of its supporters have been killed since election day and thousands more tortured or injured, but those figures have been disputed by the Zimbabwean government.

Tsvangirai appealed to the 14-member regional body of South African states, the Southern African Development Community, to help the election to take place.

"We have given some conditions to SADC (Southern African Development Community) for the runoff," he said.

"One, total secession of all violence; number two, unfettered access by international observers; number three, the reconstitution of ZEC (Zimbabwe's electoral commission); number four, media access should be unfettered; number five SADC should provide peacekeeping to curtail violence."

Tsvangirai also criticised the ZEC, which has played a central role in the country's elections.

Results from the first round were delayed by five weeks and no date has been given for the second-round runoff despite a legal requirement for it to take place within 21 days of the first-round results being announced.

"ZEC is partisan to ZANU-PF," Tsvangirai said, referring to Mugabe's party which has ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1980.

JUNE 7th 2008
Mugabe is raging in public against 'Britain and it's allies', blaming the collapse of his country entirely on them. He now intends to starve his way to victory in the election run-off in addition to disenfranchising opponents he doesn't succeed in imprisoning or killing.

UN: Zimbabwe aid cutoff endangers 2 million people

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer 

At least 2 million people in Zimbabwe face greater risk of starvation, homelessness and disease because the government ordered aid groups to halt operations there, according to the U.N.'s top humanitarian official.

John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, spoke Friday after the United States and Britain warned that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's regime is using food and the threat of hunger as a weapon to cling to power ahead of the June 27 presidential runoff.

Much of the U.N.'s aid in Zimbabwe is funneled through non-governmental organizations.

"If voluntary organizations and NGOs are not able to work, humanitarian aid for at least 2 million of the most poor and vulnerable of Zimbabwe's people, particularly children, will be severely restricted, although we will do our best to make up for this," Holmes said.

On Thursday, Mugabe's government ordered aid groups to suspend field work indefinitely, saying they had violated the terms of their agreement. It has accused at least one group of campaigning for the opposition in the June 27 presidential runoff between Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.

The suspension order hampers aid delivery to more than 4 million people and puts at least 2 million at greater risk of starvation, homelessness and disease, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Zimbabwe's U.N. ambassador, Boniface Chidyauskiku, said the relief agencies and the U.S. government have been using food as a political weapon, not Mugabe's government.

"They have gone out into the countryside and they have been telling Zimbabweans that if you don't vote for the opposition, if you don't change your vote, there's no food for you," he said. "So it is the United States using food as a political weapon to effect a regime change in Zimbabwe. This is why we have suspended the activity."

U.S. Ambassador James McGee said Friday that Mugabe's government is distributing food mainly to supporters and people who support the opposition are offered food only if they hand in identification that would allow them to vote. McGee warned that "massive starvation" will result if the situation continues.

British Development Aid Secretary Douglas Alexander described it in similar terms.

"For Robert Mugabe to use the threat of hunger as a political weapon shows a callous contempt for human life," Alexander said. "For the sake of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe, aid must be allowed to get through."

Holmes stopped short of agreeing with the assessment of U.S. and British officials.

"To describe it as using food as a weapon is a description I wouldn't put on it, at this stage anyway," he said.

Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change beat Mugabe in the March 29 first round, but fell short of the votes needed to avoid a runoff. As the runoff approaches, police have detained Tsvangirai twice and halted his party's rallies.

Movement for Democratic Change officials, blaming state agents, say at least 60 of its supporters have been killed in the past two months.

JUNE 22nd 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC have decided to abandon the Presidential election. In view of the murderous attacks by Mugabe's supporters (who cannot turn back now as they assume they would all be imprisoned for life if there was a change of government) I have to say that Tsvangirai and his party are right to stop. Without full scale military support from the International Community Zimbabwe stands no chance; and the International Community is incapable of coherent action. Because the Bush administration handled Iraq badly its leadership is now ineffective and the EU is not ready to intervene either. That means it is up to African nations to sort this mess out.

JUNE 27th 2008
Despite world-wide condemnation including that from Nelson Mandela, Mugabe persists with the election with Tsvagirai still on the ballot paper despite his withdrawal. Those who vote are marked with indelible ink, and those who do not vote will be in danger afterwards. It is clear now that Mugabe himself is no longer in control of the forces he has unleashed. His supporters who have already committed violent crimes have no way back, they have to win at all costs and afterwards kill all those who oppose them. How reassuring that the various cricketing authorities can now rely on government veto rather than take the decision themselves that now might not be the appropriate time to plan a cricket match.

It is up to South Africa and other African Nations now to take action or just stand back and watch the slaughter.

JULY 8th 2008

Full text: G8's Zimbabwe statement

Below is the full text of G8 leaders' statement on Zimbabwe, adopted at a summit in Japan:

1. We expressed our grave concern about the situation in Zimbabwe. We deplore the fact that the Zimbabwean authorities pressed ahead with the presidential election despite the absence of appropriate conditions for free and fair voting as a result of their systematic violence, obstruction and intimidation.

2. We do not accept the legitimacy of any government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.

3. We strongly urge the Zimbabwean authorities to work with the opposition to achieve a prompt, peaceful resolution of the crisis. It is important that any mediation process respect the results of the 29 March 2008 election.

4. We support the African Union (AU) as it expresses deep concern with the negative reports from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), the AU and the Pan-African Parliament observers on the elections and the loss of life that has occurred in Zimbabwe. We also support the AU's call to encourage Zimbabwean leaders to initiate dialogue with a view to promoting peace and stability. We encourage regional bodies, including Sadc and the AU to provide strong leadership toward a quick and democratic resolution of this crisis, including by further strengthening the regional mediation process.

5. We are deeply concerned by the humanitarian dimension of the situation in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean authorities must allow the immediate resumption of humanitarian operations and full and non-discriminatory access to humanitarian assistance to prevent the suffering of the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.

6. We will continue to monitor the situation and work together with Sadc, the AU, the UN and other relevant organisations for a prompt resolution of the crisis. We recommend the appointment of a special envoy of the UN secretary general to report on the political, humanitarian, human rights and security situation and to support regional efforts to take forward mediation between political parties. We will take further steps, inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for violence.

JULY 21st 2008
Mugabe, in agreeing to 'Negotiations' with the MDC, has made the only sensible remarks to emanate from his mouth in many years.
"We shall be doing this as Zimbabweans, entirely as Zimbabweans..".[without any interference from outside Africa]. It would help if he realised that was all that was required in the first place - the 'interference' was due only to his insistence on remaining part of the international community, benefiting by trade and support and sporting contacts and insisting we accept the pretence that he was the legitimate national leader, behaving in a civilised manner. If he can come to an agreement with the MDC that would be fine. First he has to stop his supporters massacring the MDC supporters and leaders.

Zimbabwe leaders agree talks pact

President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have signed a deal outlining a framework for talks on Zimbabwe's political crisis.

The pair - who were filmed shaking hands at their meeting in the capital, Harare - have been locked in a dispute over this year's presidential polls.

It was their first meeting in a decade. Mr Tsvangirai described the pact as a "first tentative step".

South African President Thabo Mbeki helped broker the agreement.

It calls for discussions on a new constitution, states a goal of forming an "inclusive government" and urges the prevention of political violence.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher, in Johannesburg, says the pact envisages a final deal being signed within two weeks.

The Parties shall refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or undermine each other
Memorandum of Understanding

But, he adds, it is difficult to see such quick progress in resolving the issues at stake - and the document does not address the central issue of Mr Mugabe's future or go into the details of a possible power-sharing arrangement.

Mr Mugabe insists that he must be recognised as Zimbabwe's president - a position rejected by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mr Tsvangirai, the MDC's leader, garnered more votes in the initial presidential poll in March, but election officials said there was no outright winner and called for a run-off.

Mr Mugabe won the run-off - but he was the only candidate after Mr Tsvangirai withdrew, accusing the government of mounting a campaign of violence against his supporters.

First step

Mr Tsvangirai said that in signing the deal - an occasion he described as historic - he and Mr Mugabe were committing themselves to the "first tentative step towards searching for a solution to a country that is in crisis".

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Morgan Tsvangirai speaks after signing the deal with Mr Mugabe

He went on: "We are committed to ensure that the process of negotiation becomes successful.

"We want to make sure that every Zimbabwean feels safe, we want to share a common prosperity for everyone and we want a better Zimbabwe."

Mr Tsvangirai acknowledged that many "bitter words" had been exchanged between the two sides but said they all must exercise tolerance and work together if they wanted progress.

Mr Mugabe said the two sides had agreed on Sunday on the need for the country's constitution to be amended on various points.

"We sit here in order for us to chart a new way, a new way of political interaction," he said.

He also praised Mr Mbeki for his mediation efforts, adding: "We shall be doing this as Zimbabweans, entirely as Zimbabweans with the help of South Africa."

Mr Mbeki said: "All the Zimbabwean parties recognise the urgency of the matters they are discussing and all are committed to trying to complete this process as quickly as possible."

The BBC's southern Africa correspondent Peter Biles, in Johannesburg, says Mr Mugabe seemed to be in conciliatory - and sometimes good-humoured - mood as he made the unprecedented move of appearing with his arch-rival in front of the media.

Mr Mugabe said the agreement was a serious matter for his Zanu-PF party, and that he hoped it reflected sincerity.

It was a breakthrough, our correspondent says, even if it was only a first step.

Both sides have had to swallow some pride and make some concessions to reach this stage, he adds, once it became clear that the solution to Zimbabwe's political crisis would not come in a winner-takes-all scenario.

New elections

The opposition party has previously accused Mr Mbeki of being biased in favour of Mr Mugabe.

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Robert Mugabe speaks about signing the agreement

The fact that the African Union (AU) and the United Nations joined the South African mediation efforts was crucial in persuading the MDC to agree to talk, analysts say.

Senior diplomats from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) are also involved.

The MDC still has several conditions to be met before starting substantive talks with Mr Mugabe.

Party spokesman George Sibotshiwe told the BBC that future dialogue would remain conditional on a complete cessation of violence and the release of all political prisoners.

The MDC wants some kind of "transitional authority" to organise new, internationally-monitored elections.

The party says at least 120 of its supporters have been killed, about 5,000 abducted and 200,000 forced from their homes since the first round of the elections, in a campaign of violence by pro-Mugabe militias and the army.

Cabinet ministers and military officials have denied the charges.

The deal between Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai comes on the day that a new banknote was issued, for 100bn Zimbabwe dollars - the latest sign of the country's economic meltdown.

This is not quite enough to buy a loaf of bread and is worth less than US$1. The official inflation rate is 2.2m%.

SEPTEMBER 11th 2008

Zimbabwe parties say reach power-sharing deal

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ruling party and the main opposition MDC have reached a power sharing deal, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a government source said on Thursday.

"(South African) President (Thabo) Mbeki is going to give a press statement but I can say that we have got a deal," Tsvangirai said as he left the venue of negotiations in the capital Harare.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe and Cris Chinaka; Editing by Matthew Jones)

SEPTEMBER 15th 2008
Today the deal was signed and sealed. In my view Zimbabwe has been so damaged that even assuming good will prevails and violence stops and all Zimbabweans work together, it would take 5 years to get an acceptable standard of living and 10 years before the country stands on its own feet. The policies of Mugabe that have caused the current mess would have to be stopped and reversed. How on earth are he and his supporters going to accept that? The man is still President and his supporters still around. If the money printing stops, what happens? All the refugees who have fled will be needed to get things going - what will bring them back?

SEPTEMBER 25th 2008
Now it is evident that the deal is meaningless. Mugabe is a classic nut-case. There is no solution. The misery for Zimbabwe's unfortunate inhabitants continues. It is too kind to call Mugabe a nut case - he is as near to the embodiment of evil as it is possible to find. What is evil? It is a dysfunction of humanity, with all the capability of humanity able to express itself.

To write any more here is an insult to humanity. Zimbabweans are dying in their hundreds and thousands as they run out of money and food, there is no government and visitors from the UN and America are refused entry. Cholera is now rampant. This is what Mugabe wants.

FEBRUARY 11th 2009

Tsvangirai takes office as Zimbabwe's PM 

Wednesday, February 11 05:10 pm

Reuters MacDonald Dzirutwe

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday by old enemy President Robert Mugabe and vowed to salvage the ruined economy.

Their power-sharing deal has raised hopes among Zimbabweans of an end to widespread hardship, but wrangling since they signed their agreement in September has stirred doubts over whether they can work together to bring in aid and investment.

Tsvangirai, 56, was sworn in by Mugabe, 84, who has ruled with his ZANU-PF party since independence from Britain in 1980. Tsvangirai gave a little smile as he finished taking the oath in front of Mugabe, who displayed his usual confidence.

"I want to assure you that this is the only workable arrangement and I can assure you that I and my party will give it our utmost," said Tsvangirai, who cut his political teeth in the labour movement as a mine foreman.

Mugabe said the parties should build on the deal "by turning our swords into ploughshares."

Tsvangirai won a first round presidential poll against Mugabe last year but boycotted a subsequent run-off over violence. He said rescuing the economy would be a top priority.

"We must get the country working again," said Tsvangirai in his inauguration address.

He called on the world to help Zimbabwe recover. It is suffering unemployment above 90 percent, prices double every day, half the 12 million population need food aid and a cholera epidemic has killed nearly 3,500 people.

But foreign investors and Western donors have made it clear money will come only when a new democratic government is formed and bold economic reforms are taken -- such as reversing nationalisation policies.

"Mr Tsvangirai and his team have a formidable challenge in bringing legitimacy and reform to Zimbabwe's government, in improving the economy and in delivering basic services," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a statement.

To cheers from his supporters, Tsvangirai said civil servants would be paid in foreign currency from this month instead of in the increasingly worthless local currency. He did not say where the money would come from.


"The body language from Tsvangirai and Mugabe at the ceremony points to uneasy times ahead, but I hope it all works out and the decline of the country is halted," said Harare office worker Alice Mabhena.

Power-sharing is unlikely to be easy. Implementation of the coalition deal only came after intense pressure from regional countries, fearing a total meltdown in once-prosperous Zimbabwe.

The pact left Tsvangirai with the ministries most responsible for addressing 10 years of economic decline, including the finance ministry, and Zimbabweans and donors will be seeking decisive action.

"This is an imperfect settlement, and the balance of power favours Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Tsvangirai will probably have very little room to manoeuvre, but over time he will become as liable for the failures of the ZANU-PF government," said Aubrey Matshiqi of South Africa's Centre for Policy Studies.

"Another way of looking at it is that from an imperfect settlement may arise a lasting solution. That cannot be precluded."

Tsvangirai, a former union leader, gained respect at home and abroad for his fight against graft and rights abuses despite spending time in Mugabe's jails. But his leadership skills in government are untested and analysts believe Mugabe, a master political operator, may try to undermine him.

Many Zimbabweans remain sceptical of success.

"You can't talk about a unity government today and see it work tomorrow," said Peter Dzingayi, among millions of Zimbabweans who have fled abroad in search of jobs.

"Right now we do not have any hope," he said at the Johannesburg Central Methodist church, where thousands of Zimbabweans cram into halls to sleep.

Critics say Mugabe's policies, such as the seizure of white owned farms to give to landless blacks, have led to Zimbabwe's collapse. He says Western sanctions are responsible.

Tsvangirai called for national unity in his speech, but he clearly blamed Mugabe's government for Zimbabwe's troubles.

"A culture of entitlement and impunity has brought our nation to the brink of a dark abyss. This must end today," he said.

MARCH 11th 2009
There has been little progress, violence continues, and now Morgan Tsvangirai's wife, his greatets support, has died in a traffic accident. He was seriously hurt. Foul play is not supspected. Mugabe is givng a public display of sympathy and visited Morgan in hospital, but his supporters are still preventing progress and failing to implement agreed changes.

Rumours fly after Tsvangirai crash

Brian Hungwe visits the scene of Friday's car crash near Harare in which Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was injured and his wife Susan killed.

A land cruiser lies on its back 24 hours after the car crash, drawing the attention of motorists.

Inside the mangled remains of the vehicle, a continuous warning sound has been hinting all day that doors are open.

Yet the keys are still in the ignition. A shattered windscreen and broken car windows tell an ugly story, as the Toyota Land cruiser rests on its roof besides the road.

Two policemen are on constant guard. Strangers are not allowed up close.

But vehicles are slowing down around the fatal scene. Curious onlookers disembark, say little, and some weep, as they catch a glimpse of the lonely miserable vehicle.

It is difficult to imagine how Mr Tsvangirai escaped relatively unscathed as the heavy vehicle rolled three times after the collision with an oncoming lorry.

One immediately feels pity for his wife Susan, his pillar of strength and mother to the couple's six children.

Questions asked

The Masvingo-Harare road is a two lane route. The place where the crash occurred is on a kilometre-long (0.6 miles) stretch of clear road, sandwiched between two commercial farmlands.

People don't want to believe it was an ordinary accident... They wanted to kill him
Harare's taxi driver

The road evidently requires rehabilitation, but calls for such repairs have fallen on deaf ears over the past years, despite horrifying fatalities involving haulage lorries, buses and ordinary cars.

As the nation ponders on the latest tragedy, many questions are being asked - and concerns are being raised over the security of government officials.

How a convoy of three vehicles, with one in the middle carrying the second most important person in the land, got involved in a car crash, is what has perplexed many people.

The oncoming lorry, which apparently belonged to a partner of the US government aid agency USAID, is thought to have crossed into the prime minister's path, sideswiping the right bumper of Mr Tsvangirai's Land Cruiser, which then rolled off the highway.

Rumours in Harare

"If you look at the circumstances surrounding the accident, they show that there is not as much security as one would have wanted, not that you can prevent an accident, but I'm sure it must give a lot of lessons about the security framework," says Dr Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of a constitutional reform pressure group.

"It's very depressing, I think happening within the first three weeks of the new inclusive government. It's unfortunate that the public will find it unbelievable and that could threaten the whole framework of the new government," Dr Madhuku said.

Already, Harare is awash with rumour and speculation.

"People don't want to believe it was an ordinary accident, even if you tell them President Mugabe visited Tsvangirai in hospital hours after the crash," a taxi driver told me.

"Why did the oncoming vehicle target his vehicle, yet there are hundreds other cars that use the same road every hour, it's a busy road?" he asked. "They wanted to kill him."

At the scene of the crash, Deputy Mines Minister and MDC legislator Murisi Zwizwayi is refusing to buy into the story that the encroaching vehicle hit a pothole or hump before crossing the lane.

"Where are the potholes, even humps, here, do you see one, it's just a clear road," he said, almost throwing his hands in exasperation.

"There was a lot of talk around a pothole that is alleged to have caused the accident. It was only proper that we visit the scene. From my own assessment, there is no pothole to talk about as far as this accident is concerned," Mr Zwizwayi said.

'Huge embarrassment'

At the clinic where Mr Tsvangirai was treated, there was heavy security, state agents and armed police. It appeared like a state expression of loyalty, to avoid giving any credence to conspiracy theories.

"From now on, security around the prime minister will be tighter. I think they will test whatever he drinks or eats first to make sure he doesn't die. It's in their interest to keep him alive now," said a senior MDC official, barred from entering the clinic after the accident.

The treatment centre was besieged by hosts of politicians from across the political divide.

Inside were central bank governor Dr Gideon Gono, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, head of central intelligence Happyton Bonyongwe, and other party deputy ministers.

"Rarely do prime ministers get involved in car accidents. Plane crashes are more understandable," said a retired army official.

"It shows lack of planning, co-ordination of close security transporting the VIPs in the convoy."

He says that when such a situation arises "countless reports are filed, many questions asked and people tend to lose their jobs".

"This incident," he added, "is no exception."

An MDC insider says what makes this incident more serious is that it is a "huge political embarrassment to the state, particularly President Mugabe that he is failing to provide adequate protection to his prime minister in government".

Given Mr Mugabe's demeanour, a very sad depressed face, as he walked out of the clinic, a lot of people "must be running around".

"Logic would have demanded that a police escort be provided to warn other traffic... and this tragedy could have been avoided," Finance Minister Tendai Biti said, before breaking down at a party news conference.

"The authorities must understand that omission," Mr Biti added.

His tears hint at the growing level of anger and emotion within his party. At his home in Harare, there was weeping and wailing all night, as relatives and friends tried to come to grips with the tragedy.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/03/07 19:29:57 GMT


APRIL 5th 2009
At last, a modest movement in the right direction. So much dmage has been done that it will be some time before we see any results, and there is no guarantee that Mugabe can even control his supporters. Meanwhile Tsvangirai has suffered another family tragedy.

Zimbabwe 'to re-engage with West'

Zimbabwe's new coalition government has adopted a 100-day renewal plan aimed at mending ties with the West after years of isolation under Robert Mugabe.

Ministers on a three-day retreat hammered out the plan which is meant to yield a new constitution by next year.

Restrictions on foreign media are due to be lifted and human rights restored.

Correspondents at the talks say there is some scepticism that such ambitious targets can be met in such a short space of time.

After Zimbabwe quit the Commonwealth in 2003, the EU and US imposed travel bans on Mr Mugabe and his circle.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was sworn in as prime minister in February 2009, following months of wrangling over a power-sharing agreement originally signed with Mr Mugabe in September 2008.

Meeting and bonding

Five priorities have been set out in the plan agreed in the resort town of Victoria Falls: restoring human rights, addressing security concerns, stabilising the economy, building infrastructure and re-engaging the international community.

Relaxation of the media regulations means that independent local and international media should be allowed to operate freely.

Broad consultations are due to be be held on the new constitution ahead of a stakeholders' conference three months from now.

Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister and an MP from Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, said his country wanted normal relations with the West.

"We have committed ourselves to normalising relations between Zimbabwe and those countries which disengaged their relationship and this is primarily the EU, the United Kingdom, the United States and the white Commonwealth countries," he said.

"So we have now said that we are going to re-engage them. A core team of ministers has been set up to expiate the re-engagement."

Eric Matinenga, the constitutional affairs minister and an MP from Mr Tsvangirai's MDC, said broad consultations would be held on the new constitution.

"We are already starting to engage the various groups and the population to make sure that the constitution is acceptable to the people of Zimbabwe," he said.

Former political rivals may have faced each other and bonded, Zimbabwean journalist Brian Hungwe reports from Victoria Falls, but the big task now is implementation.

Tsvangirai tragedy

Mr Tsvangirai was at the talks in Victoria Falls but left on Saturday after hearing news of a new family tragedy, less than a month after his wife Susan died in a car crash which he himself survived.

His two-year-old grandson Sean drowned in a swimming pool at Mr Tsvangirai's home in Harare on Saturday afternoon, spokesman James Maridadi said.

The boy was the child of Mr Tsvangirai's son Garikai and his wife Lilian, who are based in Canada, the spokesman told AFP news agency.

He will be buried on Monday in Buhera, south-east of the capital, next to his grandmother Susan.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/04/05 15:04:08 GMT


JULY 7th 2009
There are those who will accuse Tsvangirai of selling out, but the truth is there is no way a civil war or any serious reckoning can lead to a decent future. All they can hope for is for Mugabe in due course to die, and for Zimbabwe to forget and move on, picking up the pieces of the country he smashed because of his pride. This will be slow, but financial aid will no doubt come from those who do not care what has been done. America lost much moral authority due to its mistakes, and although the comparisons are absurd Mugabe and his supporters equate mistakes of those who pretend to superiority with the crimes of the less pretentious.

Mugabe calls US envoy 'an idiot'

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has branded a top US envoy "an idiot" with a condescending attitude.

He said that Johnnie Carson, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, wanted to dictate what Zimbabwe could and could not do.

The two spoke on the sidelines of last week's African Union meeting in Libya.

The Obama administration has been sceptical of the power-sharing government formed between Mr Mugabe and his opposition rivals.

Mr Mugabe told the state-owned Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe that nothing came out of his talks with Mr Carson - his first meeting with a US government official for many years.

"You would not speak to an idiot of that nature," he said. "I was very angry with him, and he thinks he could dictate to us what to do and what not to do."

Mr Mugabe pointed out that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) supported the unity government.

"We have the whole of SADC working with us, and you have the likes of little fellows like Carson, you see, wanting to say: 'You do this, you do that.'

"Who is he?

"I hope he was not speaking for Obama. I told him he was a shame, a great shame, being an African American."

Mr Mugabe was also not fond of Mr Carson's predecessor, Jendayi Frazer, who is also black.

In May last year he described her as "a little American girl trotting around the globe like a prostitute" after she suggested that the then-opposition Movement for Democratic Change had won the disputed presidential election.

Meanwhile, the Herald also reports that Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has apologised to Mr Mugabe after ministers from his party, the MDC, boycotted a cabinet meeting last Monday.

The ministers had decided instead to head to Harare airport to welcome Mr Tsvangirai back from a tour of Europe and the United States, where he had been lobbying for aid for Zimbabwe.

He said he had raised about $500m (£300m), not the $7bn the country's finance minister said the country needed to revive its economy.

President Obama committed $73 million, but said: "It will not be going to the government directly because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights, and rule of law."

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JULY 30th 2009
There is progress. The 'western' media now have access. Tsvangirai is being recognised by the Zimbabwean military. There will have to be forgiveness rather than justice and some of those who suffered will have to be compensated rather than their abusers arrested and condemned. That will work providing the violence and abuse and discrimination against non Zanu supporters ceases.

Zimbabwe: The price of reconciliation

By Andrew Harding
BBC News, Harare

As Zimbabwe launches a debate about "national healing" after years of political violence, the country's prime minister has told the BBC that those found responsible for a wave of killings and torture should "not necessarily" be sent to jail.

At the same time, some victims have expressed concern they will never see justice or compensation.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was speaking in Harare where the new unity government has just unveiled an "Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration" or ONHRI.

They wanted to silence me at all costs
Josphat Chidindi MDC activist

Mr Tsvangirai, who has himself been severely beaten by members of President Robert Mugabe's security forces, stressed that he was "not just saying - forgive, heal and reconcile".

But he said "justice needs forgiveness… and if we do retributive justice, the danger is that we may slide back" towards violence.

What reconciliation?

John Nkomo, a senior figure in Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF, and chairman of ONHRI, said that "anyone who has broken the law should be put on trial".

But he also argued against a rush to judgment.

"Yes, people were killed; yes, people fight; yes, they may still be fighting, but… this nation is going through a process and these tensions, unless properly managed, could create more tensions for us and we don't want that."

None of this seems likely to reassure Emmanuel Chiroto.

One year ago, a group of Zanu-PF militia abducted his wife, Abigail, from their home on the edge of Harare.

Mr Chiroto, an MDC activist, had just been elected the city's deputy mayor. His wife's badly beaten body was found on a roadside soon afterwards.

"I've got the names of six people responsible," said Mr Chiroto, wandering round the ruins of his home, which was firebombed during the attack.

"They live round here. I see them often. But none of them have even been picked up for questioning."

Last week he says he received two threatening phone calls from a male voice saying: "You're forgetting what happened to your wife. Our intention was to kill you."

"We're told things are changing," Mr Chiroto said. "The unity government is in place. But personally I find it very difficult to forgive people who are still boasting about it."

Our presence in Zimbabwe this week, is a welcome, constructive, and important first step
Jon Williams BBC world news editor

Another MDC activist, Josphat Chidindi, was attacked with an axe on 25 June this year by two men who, he says, were the same Zanu-PF militants who had nearly killed him a year earlier.

His right arm was nearly severed and remains heavily bandaged.

"They wanted to silence me at all costs," he said, dismissing talk of reconciliation in Zimbabwe as "nonsense".

"I want these men to face trial, but I don't think justice will be done as long as Zanu-PF is part of this inclusive government… There is no future to talk about," he said.

Many human rights activists also appear to be sceptical about ONHRI's work.

Maria Mache, from the Crisis Coalition, dismissed it as "a farce".

"We want the perpetrators of violence, those who abducted others, who did so many atrocities in Zimbabwe to be brought to book. We can't talk about reconciliation until there has been transitional justice," she said.

The situation is far from statisfactory, and people are being murdered daily, but the economy is now dollarised and the there is growth.
Zimbabwe's MDC calls off boycott

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has called off his party's boycott of the unity government with President Robert Mugabe.

Mr Tsvangirai said he was giving Mr Mugabe 30 days to implement the power-sharing agreement on "the pertinent issues we are concerned about".

The prime minister was speaking after regional crisis talks in Mozambique.

The MDC accuses Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF of continuing to harass its activists and acting in "bad faith".

The Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc), which is the guarantor of last year's power-sharing agreement, urged all parties to respect the deal and said they had 15-30 days to "engage in dialogue".

By Karen Allen, BBC News, Johannesburg

The meeting in Maputo is not offering a magic bullet. The parties have the next 15-30 days to "engage in dialogue".

The MDC has interpreted that to mean that a clear timetable is to be set for the swearing-in of governors and its nominee for deputy agriculture minister - Roy Bennett. It also expects its partner in government to address other outstanding issues of the global political agreement, in particular the appointment of the governor of the central bank and the attorney general.

But what if that does not happen, what are the sanctions available?

The MDC has taken some solace that South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has promised to take stock of the situation in 30 days' time. But there has been little sign of the "more vocal" stance President Zuma's ANC party has promised on Zimbabwe.

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change says outstanding issues should be agreed within 15 days and thenimplemented within 30 days.

Mr Mugabe did not speak to the media after the summit.

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza said he thought the situation would change within 30 days.

Sadc head Tomaz Salomao said South Africa's President Jacob Zuma would soon visit Zimbabwe to evaluate progress.

The next Zimbabwe cabinet meeting is on Tuesday, and MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said his party's ministers would attend.

Mr Tsvangirai walked out of the coalition government on 16 October in protest at the detention of a senior MDC official on terrorism charges and over Mr Mugabe's failure to implement political agreements.

The official, Roy Bennett, was later released on bail and is due to go on trial on Monday on charges of terrorism, insurgency, sabotage and banditry.

He was arrested in February, as he was due to be sworn in as deputy agriculture minister.

  • Harassment MDC accuses Zanu-PF of campaign of violence, Zanu-PF dismisses claims as 'outrageous'
  • Senior officials MDC says central bank governor and attorney general must be replaced, Zanu-PF disagrees
  • Roy Bennett MDC says terrorism charges against him should be dropped, Zanu-PF says courts must decide
  • Provincial governors Mr Mugabe refuses to swear in MDC nominees
  • White-owned farms MDC says farm seizures must stop, Zanu-PF disagrees
  • The MDC also said there had been "increased violent" attacks on party members by militants from President Mugabe's Zanu-PF, as well as renewed invasions of white-owned farms.

    Last week, Zanu-PF described the allegations as "cheap propaganda".

    Mr Tsvangirai's allies also accuse Mr Mugabe of making key appointments, such as the attorney general, the central bank governor, provincial governors and diplomats, without consulting them.

    Zanu-PF says the MDC has not done enough to attract foreign aid and investment since it joined the government to end the impasse following last year's disputed elections.

    The unity government has managed to halt Zimbabwe's economic collapse but donors remain wary of resuming funding.