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Zimbabwe:

Between the lines SADC warns Angola off from taking bilateral action

[SouthScan 23 March 07]  SADC ministers were keeping their cards close to their chests after a meeting on future action over the Zimbabwe crisis. A communique after their meeting in Lesotho yesterday said nothing other than that the regional ‘security organ’ was keeping watch on the situation.

But analysts said the key information in the terse message was its reminder that there is a multilateral structure in place for the resolution of security issues in the region, an implied rejection of bilateral deals.

This seemed a shot across the bows of Angola, which appears to have given security guarantees to the Zimbabwe regime. Earlier the Luanda government denied it was about to send in paramilitary troops and called the reports ‘a big lie’.

Last week Angola’s interior minister, Gen. Roberto Leal Ramos Monteiro, agreed a law and order deal in Zimbabwe with President Robert Mugabe and said over state radio that Angola “will not allow western imperialism to take over Zimbabwe”.

The apparent backtracking subsequently may indicate that Luanda is under pressure to hold back from an action that could split the regional body.


SADC PRESS RELEASE

Taking advantage of the SADC Council of Ministers Meeting in Maseru on 22 March the SADC Double Troika met to consider the economic, political and security situation in Southern Africa. They:

  • Recognised the initiative which the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania took to visit the Republic of Zimbabwe for briefing and consultations on recent developments there.
  • Reviewed the reports by local and international media and statements by various capitals regarding the situation in the SADC region.

In view of these, the SADC Double Troika underscored the importance of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security intensifying its consultations on the political and economic challenges confronting the region.

Maseru

22 March, 2007


 

Zimbabwe:

Angola denies it will send in militia

[SouthScan 22 March 07]  Angola denied a report on Thursday that it had agreed to send several thousand police to help Zimbabwe's security forces, calling it a “big lie”.

The report, in Britain's Times newspaper, cited Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi as saying around 2,500 Angolan paramilitary police officers would be deployed to Zimbabwe, with the first 1,000 expected to arrive on April 1. The remainder would follow in batches of 500.

"We don't know where this information came from. There is absolutely no truth in it," said Carlos Burity da Silva, spokesman for Angola's interior ministry. His denial did not refer to the visit to Harare last week by Angola’s Minister of Home Affairs Roberto Monteiro, who said his country was sympathetic to Zimbabwe's police force and signed a cooperation agreement on public order and security.

The state news agency ANGOP said, however, that the agreement covered "accords of bilateral interest, such as of sharing of knowledge and experience and not the strengthening of local police forces".

British Foreign Office officials also dismissed the suggestions of a deployment, saying that Angola's foreign minister had denied categorically that his country was sending police to Zimbabwe.

 

Not on message?

But the denials, just as SADC ministers were gathering to discuss the crisis, may do little more than focus attention on disarray in the Zanu-PF elite and reveal concerns about open splits in the regional organisation, say observers.

The report, by seasoned local journalist Jan Raath, quoted a minister who may not have been on message, or the message among the group surrounding President Robert Mugabe may have become confused. There has been no denial from Mohadi himself about his statement, which spelled out in detail the supposed Angolan deployment.

Zimbabwe:The Zimbabwe police were also keen to deny they were in any trouble at home. "They are fabricating this whole thing to suggest that the Zimbabwe police is unable to uphold law and order," police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said. Earlier there were reports of police dissidence and increasing attacks on individual police.


Angola to send in paramilitaries to boost Mugabe

[SouthScan 22 March 07]  About 2,500 Angolan paramilitary police are to be deployed in Zimbabwe, Kembo Mohadi, Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister, has confirmed. This follows last week’s visit by Angola's Minister of Home Affairs, Roberto Monteiro to sign a cooperation agreement on public order and security [see our report below].

The first thousand Angolans are expected on April 1 and the rest in batches of 500 later. The Zimbabwean government insisted they were there to do training.

The Angolan militia are the so-called Ninjas, used as special forces against Unita during the war, and they will arrive amid sigs of increased police violence on the streets. Harare hospitals are reporting a growing number of deaths, apparently after police beatings.

Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Namibia, under its former president Sam Nujoma, have been Mugabe’s staunchest allies in the region, and rejected SA’s attempt to stop their intervention in the DR Congo in the late 1990s.

Angola has the most powerful army in the region and is awash with petrodollars and diamond money. It has made an incursion into Congo territory apparently to mine diamonds with apparent impunity. This new action, taken ahead of a SADC meeting, may be herald a reopening of the old splits in the regional body.


Zimbabwe:

SADC foreign ministers to meet over crisis as Zambia ups demand for action

[SouthScan 21 March 07]  Zambia has taken the lead in publicly urging change in Zimbabwe. President Levy Mwanawasa took the opportunity of a visit to Namibia, one of Zimbabwe’s main allies in the region, to urge the SADC states to act on Zimbabwe, which he likened to a "sinking Titanic".

At the same time he announced that SADC foreign ministers would be meeting to discuss the issue over the next few days. Zambian state newspapers said Mwanawasa had suggested SADC "would soon take a stand" on Zimbabwe.

Mwanawasa said the Southern African Development Community  had failed to achieve much 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. This was also a public reprimend for South Africa, whose leaders have continued to insist that the only way ahead is through behind the scenes talks.

Mwanawasa’s statement follows that of his foreign minister earlier in the month, when he argued that it was not possible to continue pretending nothing was wrong in Zimbabwe. Zambia argues that its own economy is being held back by Zimbabwe's collapse.

Zambia and Botswana are the two SADC members most clearly opposed to the Mugabe regime, but Botswana has not yet spoken out. It has been dealing with increasing numbers of refugees fleeing over its borders and on Monday announced that it had tightened border controls amid fears the current violence could lead to a renewed flood of illegals.

Two Botswana MPs have called for the recall of their ambassador from Harare in protest.

Malawi's government has said it is too early to take a stand on the crisis. But a coalition of several human rights groups there urged their president to try to find a lasting political solution.

Earlier Mozambican Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu has urged the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure "an opening" .

The SADC council of non-governmental organisations also said it was time for the group to act. "We believe that the crisis has reached a point where Zimbabweans need to be strongly persuaded and directly assisted to find an urgent solution to the crisis that affects the entire region," the SADC council of NGOs said in a statement.

Meanwhile Germany, which holds the presidency of the European Union, urged on Tuesday Zimbabwe's neighbours to become more vocal. "It is high time for Zimbabwe's neighboring countries and the SADC states as a whole finally to find clear words and show ways toward a peaceful solution," said Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeulshe.


Zimbabwe:

SADC governments start to react to public disquiet over crisis

[SouthScan 20 Mar 07]  Mounting public concern in the region, spurred by the graphic pictures of the victims of police attacks in Zimbabwe, appears to be forcing a change in the views of the South African leadership and among governments of other SADC countries.

In Mozambique the country's largest circulation weekly paper, ‘Savana’, dedicated the front page of its latest edition to the assault on Morgan Tsvangirai, carrying an image of the bruised and bloodied face of the Zimbabwean opposition leader, under the one word banner headline ‘Brutality’. The country’s foreign minister has expressed his concern about the Zimbabwe crisis.

The Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) has expressed solidarity with Zimbabwean lawyers, denouncing what it called gross violations of human rights by the Zimbabwean authorities.

In SA the Zimbabwe situation has been sporadically a lead story on the radio and in the printed media and on Tuesday the government again called for dialogue and said it would be concerned if a state of emergency were declared.

Chief government spokesman Themba Maseko emerged from a cabinet meeting to tell the media that South Africa's chief concern was the human rights situation, and that the government was working with the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, “in trying to get all the parties to sit around a table to address the problems that are facing that nation".

Maseko said the government was in contact with the key players in Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday Tsvangirai met with the South African ambassador to Zimbabwe to protest at the silence of African leaders "while these atrocities are being perpetrated by one of their number." Tsvangirai said it made a "complete mockery" of South Africa's abolition of apartheid and its transition to democracy, the opposition said in a statement issued in Harare.

Up till now the SA government has kept him at arms length, partly because it does not believe the Movement for Democratic Change can form a viable alternative administration, but also because it would represent a break with other SADC members - Tsvangirai has also been frozen out by Zambia.

In SA his main point of contact has been the opposition Democratic Alliance, which the government has categorised as a white 'big business' party.

Maseko said he believed a diplomatic solution could be found “in the near future where both parties will be willing to say the situation is getting out of hand, let's sit around a table".

A meeting to discuss the current SADC budget is being held in Maseru, Lesotho, later this week and regional leaders may use the opportunity to develop a common position that will also be agreeable to the Zimbabwe government.

Meanwhile in Brussels where an EU meeting the ACP (African Caribbean and Pacific) countries was beginning on Tuesday, Glenys Kinnock, co-President of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, has called for Zanu-PF delegates to be to be blocked from participating.

And in the US leading members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has traditionally been a mainstay of support for President Robert Mugabe in Washington, appeared to be starting to abandon him.

Mozambican calls for ‘an opening’

In Maputo the violence in Zimbabwe is a matter of growing concern. On various occasions former president Joaquim Chissano has been dispatched to Harare to try to mediate between Mugabe and the opposition, but to no avail.

Now Mozambican Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu has urged the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure "an opening" so that Zimbabweans "may discuss their differences, and find solutions to their own problems".

The president of the Mozambican Bar Association, Carlos Cauio, has protested that "Zimbabweans are being denied access to legal aid, and the role of lawyers in defending their clients, many of whom are detained under deplorable conditions, is being severely restricted".

According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily ‘Noticias’, Cauio pledged the solidarity of Mozambican lawyers with their Zimbabwean counterparts, and particularly with the Law Society of Zimbabwe.


Zimbabwe:

Ahead of SADC meeting US makes Mugabe personally responsible for beatings

[SouthScan March 19] The US State Department said on Sunday it held President Robert Mugabe personally responsible for his police actions in beating up political opponents and for preventing some of those injured seeking medical help in SA.

The statement may buttress the views of many in the opposition that Mugabe should be charged before the International Criminal Court for his actions. These date from the massacres in Matabeleland in the early 1980s to the mass clearance of shacks two years ago that rendered tens of thousands homeless and was condemned by the UN.

But it will make the task more difficult for those African leaders who may be seeking ways to to edge the Zimbabwean strongman out of power.

Senior SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) leaders were meeting in Lesotho on Monday to prepare the agenda for a finance summit there on Thursday and Friday to discuss the upcoming SADC budget. They will inevitably have to include the Zimbabwe crisis - Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has already warned that that collapse in Zimbabwe is affecting the entire region. On the other side the Angolans have weighed in with diplomatic support for Mugabe's police action.

It is, however, unlikely the SADC leaders will reveal much about their deliberations.

Meanwhile US ambassador Christopher Dell, is reported to have walked out of a meeting on Monday in which Zimbabwe's foreign minister, Simearashe Mbengegwi warned a group of diplomats that they would be expelled if they supported the opposition.

Dell reportedly left when Mbengegwi refused to answer questions.


Zimbabwe:

Senior MDC official beaten up as he attempts to leave

[SouthScan March 18] Attempts by opposition leaders to leave the country are being thwarted by Zimbabwe's security agents. In the latest incident on Sunday morning the Movement for Democratic Change's spokesman Nelson Chamisa was beaten outside the departures hall at Harare airport.

Chamisa after his assault

His assailants used metal bars and he sustained apparently serious head injuries and was taken to a clinic where doctors said he had a skull fracture.

Two other injured MDC leaders, Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinje were earlier stopped from leaving to receive medical treatment in South Africa.

Arthur Mutambara, leader of one of the MDC factions, and who was not beaten up by the police, was re-arrested as he was about to leave the country.

The actions indicate that the President Robert Mugabe, despite his statement that the West could "go hang", is nevertheless concerned that MDC leaders could further mobilise international support against his regime.

Meanwhile lawyers attempting Sunday to serve court papers on the police have been threatened with being "disappeared". The court order was torn up and thrown in their faces.

Lawyer Andrew Makoni from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) attempted to serve police from Zimbabwe’s Law and Order Unit with a court order, indicting them from further interference with the body of Gift Tandare, the young activist shot and killed by police in last weekend crackdown.

However the commanding officer tore up the court order, threw the pieces in Makoni’s face and threatened him and colleagues with disappearance should they continue to act for victims of the crackdown.


Zimbabwe:

AU finally moves on Zimbabwe crisis

[SouthScan March 17]

The Zimbabwe crisis has provoked the African Union into breaking with its earlier hands-off policy and into calling for respect for human rights.

AU commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare "recalls the need for the scrupulous respect for human rights and democratic principles in Zimbabwe," the pan-African body said in a statement. This followed an earlier acknowledgment in London by the AU chairman, Ghana's President John Kufuor, that Zimbabwe was "embarrassing" Africa.

The AU statement said Konare "urges all concerned parties to commence a sincere and constructive dialogue in order to resolve the problems facing Zimbabwe."

It added that Konare had followed recent developments in Zimbabwe with great concern.

Earlier attempts over a number of years by the AU's own human rights commission to get the continental organisation to criticise the Zimbabwe regime have all been stalled. African heads of state have been unwilling to create a precedent of outside involvement on issues of domestic governance.

South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu on Friday spoke out against African leaders, saying they should be ashamed over the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile in Washington presidential hopeful Barack Obama made a statement to the senate on Thursday this week condemning the Mugabe regime.


Zimbabwe:

Angola voices support for Mugabe

[SouthScan March 17] Angola's Minister of Home Affairs Roberto Monteiro said on Friday Angola was sympathetic to Zimbabwe's police force.

Monteiro was in Zimbabwe to sign a cooperation agreement on public order and security, state radio said. Angola and Namibia are President Robert Mugabe’s strongest allies in the region and the deal raises the possibility that Angolan police could be called in.

The MPLA government has a powerful police militia that is has used to quell local disorder. There have been signs of dissidence among Zimbabwe's police, who are suffering as are the rest of the population from the effects of the collapsed economy.

Speaking during a visit to Harare, the Angolan minister said the police should use appropriate measures to contain cases of violence in order to maintain peace and security.

He condemned subsequent attacks on police officers, saying the police are there to maintain public order. At least six police officers have been injured in revenge attacks on the force.

Meanwhile Mugabe has threatened Western diplomats with expulsion if they continue their criticism.


Zimbabwe:

Police stop injured detainees traveling to SA

[SouthScan March 17] Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland, among the most severely assaulted by Zimbabwean police in last weekend's attack on 50 civil society and political opposition leaders, have been prevented from traveling to to Johannesburg to receive specialist post-traumatic care.

The ambulance travelling Saturday from Harare's Avenues Clinic to Harare airport, where they were to depart in a Medical Rescue Aircraft for Johannesburg, was stopped on the tarmac by officers from Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Office (CIO).

Both Kwinjeh's and Holland's passports were taken. They were told they needed a clearance certificate from the Department of Health, which is not required by law or regulation, and instructed to go to Harare's central police station.

They were then returned to the Avenues Clinic in Harare. Police were again in attendance.


Zimbabwe:

Severe injuries to MDC leaders after police beatings and torture

[SouthScan 15 March}

Eyewitnesses in Harare have described severe injuries suffered by the opposition leaders beaten by police in Harare after being arrested on Sunday.

The hospital where they were sent for treatment on Tuesday was filled with undercover security agents and uniformed police in riot gear. There were 36 officers in the casualty section alone supervising doctors, say our sources.

We are posting here the report by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights.

14 March 2007

Nature of injuries of tortured civil society activists and opposition party leaders

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has, having been granted extremely delayed access to Opposition Party Leaders and Civil Society Activists arrested on Sunday 11 March 2007, been able to assess the extent of the injuries they sustained.

It is highly regrettable that the medical treatment of these persons was wilfully delayed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police despite the stated urgency of the need for medical treatment. This resulted in the aggravation of injuries sustained in several persons.

In violation of the rights of the injured persons detained, medical treatment was denied on 11 March 2007 and again on Monday 12 March 2007. In default of a High Court Order granted on the evening 12 March 2007 the police further denied medical access to the injured persons. Permission to take the injured to a medical facility was finally granted on the afternoon of Tuesday 13 March 2007.

In the interim several of the persons detained were in a grave medical condition. Of the 64 persons attended to 20 are currently admitted to hospital for treatment.

The injuries documented were consistent with beatings with blunt objects heavy enough to cause the following:

* Fractures to hands, arms and legs in 5 individuals including Lovemore Madhuku with a fractured ulna. 3 of these, Elton Mangoma, Sekai Holland and Morgan Tsvangirai sustained multiple fractures. *    Severe, extensive and multiple soft tissue injuries to the backs, shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs of 14 individuals. *  Head injuries to 3 individuals, Nelson Chamisa, Morgan Tsvangirai and Lovemore Madhuku with the latter two sustaining deep lacerations to the scalp. *  A possibly ruptured bowel in 1 individual due to severe blunt trauma to the abdomen. * A split right ear lobe sustained by Grace Kwinjeh.

Prolonged detention without accessing medical treatment resulted in severe haemorrhage in Morgan Tsvangirai leading to severe anaemia which warranted a blood transfusion. Injuries sustained by Sekai Holland were also worsened by denial of timely access to medical treatment which led to an infection of deep soft tissue in her left leg. Denial of access to treatment in another individual suffering from hypertension lead to angina.

Further tests are currently being carried out to determine the fuller extent of injuries in several of those currently admitted. Some will require surgical procedures as part of their treatment. Sekai Holland has already undergone a surgical fixation of the fracture in her left ankle.

2 of the individuals hospitalised were admitted due to conditions resulting from poor conditions of detention with severe diarrhoea in 1 individual and extensive and severe flea bites in 1 individual.

In addition to those tortured during the course of their arrest, 2 individuals were shot while attending the funeral of Gift Tandare, who was shot dead on Sunday March 11 2007. The two individuals sustained gunshot wounds to the left ankle and right arm respectively. One sustained a shattered left ankle from the gunshot wound and is likely to require amputation from the left ankle downwards. The other individual primarily sustained shrapnel wounds early on Monday 12 March but however was shot again in the same arm on the evening of Monday 12 March upon his return to the funeral resulting in a open fracture to the arm, the severity of which may warrant amputation of that arm.


Zimbabwe:

Police deployed amid fears of widespread rioting

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] Police in riot gear have been deployed in most major centres in Zimbabwe, their heavy presence intended to act as a deterrent to civil disobedience.

[On Sunday March 11 the leadership of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was detained in Harare. Morgan Tsvangirai appeared badly beaten up, his lawyer said on Monday. One protester was shot dead in Harare.]

  • A form of curfew is being imposed on the high-density townships across the country and there are signs of panic in the security services.
  • Zimbabwe could explode any time, say local observers - the economy is at meltdown with inflation at over 1,700 percent this week spreading discontent among underpaid civil servants and other workers.
  • Zimbabwe's national intelligence agency this week began deploying its secret agents within the army and police...
  • A CIO official said a state of emergency was among measures being considered as a last resort...
  • The situation has been compounded by the continuing fight for supremacy between two warring factions in Zanu-PF.
  • A third camp has developed.
  • Food emergency...
  • Meanwhile, at least a million people require food aid in Matabeleland South.
  • Maize harvests are projected to fall to 7-800,000 tonnes, less than half of the 1,800 tonnes needed.
  • The province expects to run out of drinking water, in the next two months.
  • The failure of the government to finance the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project or any of the support projects at the Gwayi/Shangani Dam continues to stoke political fires here.

Zimbabwe:

Mass meetings and strike planned

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] The political opposition is holding important mass meetings this weekend and the trade union movement is planning a general strike on April 5.

  • In South Africa the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) is mobilizing support..
  • But Cosatu's brand of action involves building alliances, while the ZCTU has been wary of making links outside the workers' movement.
  • The ZCTU's relations  with the Movement for Democratic Change and the civics are "difficult".
  • The SA government has stayed silent.
  • However, Zambia's foreign minister this week broke ranks in the region.
  • ICG report discussed ...
  • The two wings of the split MDC have allied themselves with the dominant inner Zanu-PF factions.
  • The scenarios being discussed include the possibility of a military takeover.
  • South Africa has a military pact with Zimbabwe.
  • Economic analyses ...
  • The government's freeze on prices and wages is unworkable, say local economists.

RELATED REPORTS ...

Zimbabwe:

Catholic leader says he will face bullets

[SouthScan 22 March 07] A top Zimbabwean Roman Catholic cleric and a vocal critic of President Mugabe said on Thursday he was ready to face bullets in anti-government street protests to help restore the rule of law in the country.

Archbishop Pius Ncube of the Bulawayo diocese, told a news conference in Harare that Zimbabweans must take to the streets over rights abuses by Mugabe's government, facing international criticism over a crackdown on the opposition.

"The biggest problem with Zimbabweans is they are cowards, myself included, but as for me I am ready to stand in front, even of blazing guns," he said.

He was speaking at a news conference called by Christian Alliance, a group of church leaders who are part of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, the organisers of a prayer meeting at which opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 49 others were arrested almost two weeks ago.

"If only Zimbabweans are prepared to stand, so am I prepared to stand, we are not going to be bullied," Ncube said.

The archbishop accused the government of maintaining an "ugly oppressive" system and denying citizens basic rights.

"Human rights are God-given. No one has a right to just trample over them ... people are justified to practice non-violent civil disobedience," Ncube said.

"Starvation stalks our land and government does nothing to correct our situation. People are angry now and should stand up, fill the streets and demand that this man (Mugabe) steps down now," he added.

The opposition officials have said they were severely assaulted in police custody and images of a bruised and cut Tsvangirai sparked a world outcry against Mugabe's government.

The government has cracked down on protests using strict security laws which bar political gatherings without police clearance.


Zimbabwe:

African states told to resist ‘imperialist’ protests

[SouthScan 22 March 07] Zimbabwe appealed for African support on Thursday as African leaders started showing signs of unease with the Harare regime over its crackdown on the main opposition party.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said in a broadcast on the State-owned Zimbabwe Television (ZTV) that the Zimbabwean government is counting on African nations to rally round against protests by Western countries over Harare's treatment of the opposition.

"African countries must not allow themselves to be divided by imperialism," ZTV quoted Ndlovu as telling senior army officers at a military school in Harare.

"The West and the Western news networks are demonising Zimbabwe, giving a one-sided perspective," he said. Ndlovu urged African countries to resist Western pressure to attack Zimbabwe, or President Robert Mugabe's government, ZTV added.

His statements comes after Zambia’s President Levy Mwanawasa said on Wednesday that "quiet diplomacy has failed to help solve the political chaos and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe", and urged the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to get involved.

The Zambian president likened Zimbabwe to a "sinking Titanic whose passengers are jumping out", the strongest statement by a leader of a SADC country over the deteriorating situation in the country.

Meanwhile, two members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's main opposition party were allowed to leave on Thursday to seek treatment in South Africa for injuries inflicted by police following their arrest at a rally on March 11

Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinje, who were detained again on Saturday as they tried to board a flight to South Africa, flew to Johannesburg after the High Court ruled that they were free to travel if they informed police.

 


Zimbabwe:

African countries at Brussels meeting condemn attack

[SouthScan 21 March 07] The Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the EU and ACP countries meeting in Brussels today has come out with a statement condemning Zimbabwean violence against the opposition.

But the assembly, which includes most African countries, held back from a more general criticism of the regime of President Robert Mugabe. Instead they focused on the airport attack on Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa, who was seeking to attend the meeting.

The delegate from the ruling Zanu-PF party was not present to hear the vote. There had been earlier calls by the joint-chair, Glynis Kinnock, for him to be barred from attending. Instead Belgian immigration authorities said his visa has been wrongly issued without including his full name.


Declaration by the ACP parliamentary assembly on the situation in Zimbabwe

The ACP Parliamentary Assembly, meeting at its 7th Session in Brussels, Belgium, on 20 March 2007,

Having exchanged views on the situation in Zimbabwe and recent incidents in that country;

Expressing profound distress and concern over the attack, at Harare Airport last Sunday, 18 March 2007, on one of its members, Mr. Nelson Chamisa, who was on his way to Brussels to participate in the meetings of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly;

  • Condemns the act of aggression committed against Mr. Nelson Chamisa and calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to carry out a thorough investigation of this matter;
  • Expresses compassion for Mr. Nelson Chamisa and wishes him a speedy recovery;
  • Decides to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe as soon as possible to examine that country's situation so as to report to the ACP Parliamentary Assembly at its 8th Session, which will be held in Wiesbaden, Germany on 22 June 2007; and
  • Instructs the ACP Secretariat to adopt, in conjunction with the President of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly, the terms and conditions for the composition and practical organisation of the fact-finding mission.

  Brussels, 20 March 2007


Zimbabwe:

Mozambican lawyers protest

[SouthScan March 19] The Association of Mozambican Lawyers has condemned the violation of human rights in Zimbabwe. They called on their government to make representations to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

They also called on SADC civil and government organisations to press the Zimbabwean government to respect the rule of law.

The lawyers deplored the poor conditions in Zimbabwe's prisons and the restrictions on access to lawyers for those detained by the police.


Zimbabwe:

US government statement

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)
March 19, 2007

The following is a press statement from Sean McCormack, United States Deparment of State spokesman, released March 18, 2007.

The United States condemns the Government of Zimbabwe's continued attacks on the political opposition, including additional arrests, beatings and refusal to allow travel for necessary medical treatment. We hold President Mugabe personally responsible for these actions, and call on him to allow all Zimbabweans the right to live without fear and to fully participate in the political process. Most immediately, the government must refrain from attacks against the opposition's procession planned for March 19 in memory of Mr.Gift Tandare, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist shot dead by police on March 11.

President Mugabe clearly fears a free and open political debate in his country and is therefore willing to use violence to suppress all those who oppose him. Ultimately, he will be held accountable by the people of Zimbabwe and by the world.


Namibian human rights demonstrators march during Mugabe's visit there on Feb. 28


RELATED REPORTS ...

Zimbabwe:

Signs of division grow as ANC in parliament speaks out

[SouthScan March 17]  Signs of division are growing in South Africa's ruling African National Congress over the crisis in Zimbabwe. After a government reaction repeating its ‘quiet diplomacy’ theme and a mild ANC statement expressing “concern”, the ANC Caucus in Parliament has come out with an expression of “grave concern” over the current situation in Zimbabwe, saying that torture, assault and acts of violence against any citizen cannot be condoned.

The parliamentary ANC has been progressively downgraded as the government has centralised over the past ten years and it is unusual for its MPs to take a stand on such a diplomatically sensitive issue. Normally they are fearful of being seen as breaking ranks and as sharing common ground with the small opposition parties.

But this time, amid expressions of anger from the trade union federation Cosatu and others in the ‘triple alliance’ and the parliamentary opposition, Andries Nel, the ANC’s acting Chief Whip, called on the government to intensify its efforts. He said all stakeholders in Zimbabwe should respect and uphold human rights and the law.

The ANC caucus called on government to intensify its efforts to assist the people and leaders of Zimbabwe to address the challenges facing that country in line with the spirit and positions of the African Union and Southern African Development Community, Nel said.

Opposition parties have called on President Thabo Mbeki to adopt a stronger public stance on Zimbabwe. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday urged the government to join the UN and European Union in strongly condemning the arrest of and assault on Morgan Tsvangirai.

Ben Skosana of the Inkatha Freedom Party has urged Mbeki to insist that the Zimbabwe issue is put permanently on the agendas of the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the Pan African Parliament, the European Union and the United Nations.

Pieter Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus says the actions of Mugabe are undermining the work done by Mbeki to counter negative perceptions of Africa.

African responses are seen as critical at this juncture. Mugabe on Friday told Western countries that have criticised his government to "go hang" and he can depend on knee-jerk sympathy to this call.

"It is the West as usual ... when they criticise the government trying to prevent violence and punish the perpetrators of that violence we take the position that they can go hang," Mugabe said after a meeting with Jikaya Kikwete, the Tanzanian leader.

 

Government statement

On Tuesday the SA government said Zimbabwe's problems should be solved by the people of that country.  "We have constantly maintained that the solutions to the problems of Zimbabwe will be resolved by the people of Zimbabwe ...," South African Foreign Affairs Department spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said.

"Whatever matters of mutual concern exist, the government will raise this through existing bilateral mutual mechanisms that exist between South Africa and Zimbabwe," Mamoepa said.

 

Cosatu statement

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) condemned in the "strongest possible terms" the violence in Zimbabwe and South Africa's response to it. Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said Mamoepa's response was "shamefully weak".

"Such a response is disgraceful in the face of such massive attacks on democracy and human rights, especially coming from those who owed so much to international solidarity when South Africans were fighting for democracy and human rights against the apartheid regime," Craven said.

He said the murder of Gift Tandare, the youth chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly, and the arrest, beating and torture of Morgan Tsvangirai and other leaders of the opposition are clear proof that the government in Zimbabwe will stop at nothing to crush the resistance of the people.

"We call upon the governments of South Africa and the rest of the continent to condemn the Zimbabwe government, demand the immediate release of those arrested and the restoration of human rights."

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said its offices were raided on Tuesday by the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation. Cosatu is mobilising its members in support of the general strike called by the ZCTU for April 3 and 4.


ANC statement on current situation in Zimbabwe

Mar 14

The African National Congress is concerned about the current situation in Zimbabwe, including reports of the alleged assault of opposition leaders while in police custody.

The ANC trusts that a thorough investigation will be conducted into these allegations, and that any necessary action be taken in accordance with the law.

The ANC reiterates its call on all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to respect and uphold the constitution and law of the land, and work to safeguard the rights of all citizens.

We further reiterate our call to all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to continue to seek peaceful and inclusive solutions.

In line with the spirit and positions of the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC), the South African government should continue to seek to assist the people and leaders of Zimbabwe to address the challenges facing the country.

For its part, the ANC will continue to engage all parties in Zimbabwe in the effort to achieve an outcome that serves the interests of the Zimbabwean people. It will continue to do so in a spirit of respect, friendship and solidarity.


Zimbabwe:

Anglican Church head has a difficult meeting

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] The head of the world's 77 million Anglicans, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, this week urged the church to speak out against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe - but added that the impact of sanctions should be considered.

  • He met in Johannesburg with two key supporters of President Robert Mugabe - the Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, and the head of the Anglican province of Central Africa, Zambian Archbishop Bernard Malango.
  • The meeting with the two African churchmen could not have been easy.
  • Civic resistance to the Zanu-PF regime has been made more difficult by the division inside the Zimbabwean churches.

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Zimbabwe:

Mugabe criticises SA on regional role

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe criticized SA on his visit to Namibia last week for dominating its neighbours.

  • Though the attack, made in a call for greater cooperation between SADC countries, was veiled it was unusually public.
  • Mugabe focused on reducing SADC tariffs, asking, "When do we expect to get to zero tariff level?"

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Zimbabwe:

Uncertainty hangs over Eq. Guinea's helping hand

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] Mugabe announced on a visit to Namibia that Equatorial Guinea was going to supply his country with crude oil with payment delayed for three months.

But he did not specify how much fuel had been provided or for how long.

Last June Mugabe seemed able to buy time through a US$50 million deal with.

__________

Zimbabwe:

Mugabe denounces IMF, again

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe denounced the International Monetary Fund last week on a visit to Namibia.

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Zambia:

Demolitions on Zimbabwe model

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] The Zambian government announced plans on Thursday to demolish illegal settlements throughout the country, an action expected to leave thousands homeless.

The demolition may break support in the main centres for the opposition Patriotic Front.

Zimbabwe carried out a similar exercise in 2005.

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Congo:

Army reform remains the biggest challenge, delays blamed on World Bank

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] The reform of the security sector remains the main challenge of the new government - without it there will be no development, former EU Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Aldo Ajello told SouthScan in an interview this week.

  • He blamed the World Bank for making a fundamental mistake in this process by allowing the government to take charge.
  • The European Security Mission (EUSEC) has started to insert some order, changing the procedure for the payment of the military.
  • Under the supervision of the European officers the size of military had considerably shrunk.
  • The purge has enabled the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) to increase the monthly wage.
  • The formation of the new integrated army still has a long way to go.
  • South African instructors started in early February a new census of the troops.
  • 'Local ownership' of DDR ...
  • The 'National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reinsertion' (CONADER) has exhausted its funds.
  • The World Bank made a "monstrous mistake" in allowing the Congolese government to have a say over the process.
  • The army officers sabotaged the process.
  • The Congolese committee in charge of public procurement for the armed forces was operating in "blatant contradiction" to the Bank's procedures.
  • The framework of a new professional army has to be set up. Belgium, France, the UK, the Netherlands, South Africa and Angola will participate.

RELATED REPORTS ...

Congo:

Response to Angolan military incursion is confused

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] The Angolan military force that has taken over 11 villages in the southern Bandundu province in the DR Congo has also brought in diamond digging machinery, according to reports in Kinshasa. In Kinshasa the political response has been confused.

  • The Congolese Minister of the Interior, Gen. Denis Kalume, has minimised the incident.
  • But the outgoing foreign minister Raymond Ramazani called the situation "unacceptable".
  • The difference between Kalume's and Ramazani's reactions reflects their political backers.
  • Both governments agreed on February 28 to set up a joint commission.
  • Border delineation ...
  • The situation could easily escalate and become a diplomatic issue.
  • The reports indicate the Angolan side may be leveraging its advantage.
  • Base camp set up ...
  • Troops have also set up road blocks.
  • The apparent military incursion comes in the wake of an operation against illegal migrant.
  • The incidents appear to be a repetition of those in 2004.

 

Region:

SA steers clear of Somalia but seeks to leverage peacekeeping role

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] With ominous signs that protracted conflict is on the way in Somalia, South Africa is keeping its distance. After declining to become part of the African Union force - though it offered some logistical help - it has remained silent on the issue.

  • By late this week only the Ugandan component of the AU force had arrived in Somalia.
  • So far, the AU has managed to raise only around half of the required 8,000 troops.
  • SA said it did not want to spread its forces too thinly .
  • SA is at the same time seeking to use its peacekeeping record to boost its diplomatic influence in the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

 

Region:

Burundi set against Pentagon model for interventions

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] As Ugandan troops arrived into Somalia this week as part of an African Union force, South Africa was presenting its Burundi intervention as a peacekeeping model for the rest of Africa.

  • Private military companies ...
  • SA has consistently stressed the role of African forces in solving African conflicts. But Somalia, also publicised as an African solution to African conflict, is developing on another model, dependent on US private military companies, and this may challenge basic AU precepts.
  • The US has sent in one of its biggest private security companies, Dyncorp, to train and back the AU force.
  • The Pentagon is expanding the use of private military companies as it has done in Iraq.
  • Blackwater is active in Uganda and the Southern Sudan, as is Dyncorp.
  • Another security firm, KBR Inc., a subsidiary of Halliburton.
  • The response to the Pentagon's steadily rising profile in Africa has been varied in SA.
  • Mercenary law ...
  • SA has been the first country to bar mercenary activities by law, also banning South Africans from joining the armies of other states.
  • But last month Lekota opened the door to a compromise. This would relate mainly to the around 300 South Africans serving in British forces.
  • British High Commissioner Paul Boateng has voiced "grave concerns".
  • Boateng also criticised the US in Somalia.

RELATED REPORTS ...

SA development:

Peacekeepers to get life insurance

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] SA's Life Offices' Association (LOA) has requested its member life assurance companies to waive war-exclusion clauses for soldiers involved in peacekeeping operations. A similar agreement has been signed with the South African Police Service

These exclusions will, however, not be waived when soldiers and police officers are involved in peace "enforcement" operations, because the risk increases substantially.

 

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Region:

Uganda to restore ex-MK training facility

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] A training facility in Uganda formerly used by the African National Congress' military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) is to be restored as part of a military agreement, it was announced on Tuesday. The agreement emphasized the close military ties between the two countries.

Meanwhile aid agencies in Uganda are working on contingency plans in case hostilities flare up again between the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) after the ceasefire lapsed last week.

Region:

CAR fighting flares

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07]  In the Central African Republic the rebel Union of Democratic Forces Coalition said it had taken control of the north-eastern town of Birao and its airport early last Sunday.

SA said last month it had agreed a military training deal and would send second-hand arms to the government there.

Region:

Undersea cable deal signed

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] The undersea fibre-optic cable project that should bridge the digital divide between much of Southern and Eastern Africa and the rest of the world appeared to move forward this week after a bust-up with Kenya was repaired.

A supply contract was agreed in Pretoria by the 23-member EASSy consortium and Alcatel-Lucent.

In December Zambia joined the consortium.

The EASSy project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2008.

 

Region:

EU-SADC negotiators now include SA

[© SouthScan v22/05 9 Mar 07] As anticipated, the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiators this week in Gaborone have decided to include South Africa as a full member of the group of Southern African Development Community countries (SouthScan v21/25).

  • It is unlikely that the EPA will be ratified and implemented by the end of the year.
  • Uninterrupted market access for the BLNS (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) countries is uncertain.
  • Angola's progress to intra-regional trade liberalization is being questioned.
  • Tanzania may rejoin COMESA (the Community of East African States).
  • Mozambique may join SACU.