Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category

JOHANNESBURG – To show how the party led
by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe uses
brute force against its opponents, Elton
Mangoma , a cabinet minister in the country ‘s
troubled power -sharing government, rolled up
a pant leg during a recent interview at his
home to reveal scars from a 2007 police
beating that he said shattered his kneecap.
” If South Africa, the African Union and the
international community fold their arms , then
Zimbabwe can descend into chaos, ” warned
Mr . Mangoma , a leader in the Movement for
Democratic Change, or M. D . C . , the party that
fought Mr . Mugabe ‘s rule for a decade before
regional leaders pressured it into governing
with him for the past two years .
On Thursday , the police came again for Mr .
Mangoma , the minister of energy and power
development, who now stands accused of
criminal abuse of office in a deal to procure
fuel – charges he denied through his lawyer.
Also on Thursday , Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court –
viewed by many as partial to Mr . Mugabe, 87 –
invalidated the 2008 election of a speaker of
Parliament from the Movement for Democratic
The day ‘s events provided yet more evidence of
Zimbabwe’s rapidly deteriorating political
situation .
” The fact of the matter is that Zimbabwe is in a
crisis ,” Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai ,
leader of the Movement for Democratic
Change, said in a statement on Thursday .
Mr . Tsvangirai , who in March 2007 was badly
beaten at the same police station where Mr .
Mangoma said he was beaten , cited signs of
what he called a campaign by Mr . Mugabe’ s
party, ZANU-PF , to ” promote chaos and fear in
the country ” : 73 meetings of the M. D . C .
banned or disrupted by the police in recent
weeks; assaults on Mr . Tsvangirai ‘s supporters
in the slums of the capital, Harare , and in the
countryside; a propaganda onslaught against
him and his party in the state- controlled media ;
and the arrest and jailing of M. D. C . leaders and
activists opposed to Mr . Mugabe ‘s 31 -year rule.
Mr . Tsvangirai , who won more votes than Mr .
Mugabe in a March 2008 general election but
withdrew before a June runoff after widespread
attacks on his supporters , contended that
members of his party were being hounded by a
police force and criminal justice system
controlled by Mr . Mugabe .
” But ZANU-PF cadres and securocrats who
murdered people in the run-up to the 27 June
election are roaming free, ” Mr . Tsvangirai said .
He said Mr . Mangoma and six activists accused
of treason after watching videos of the
uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia were ” innocent
victims of a barbaric and senseless
dictatorship . “
Mr . Mugabe ‘s supporters said that the activists
were plotting to overthrow him. Jonathan
Moyo, a member of ZANU- PF ‘s Politburo , wrote
in the Feb . 27 Sunday Mail , a state-controlled
newspaper, that with the uprisings in North
Africa, ” no doubt vigilance has become the
order of the day all around .
” Only God knows why these hopeless copycats,
whose death wish is to be arrested at the
Harare Gardens and be charged with treason in
accordance with the rule of law they love
preaching about, honestly think they can do an
Egypt or Libya in Zimbabwe,” Mr . Moyo wrote.
ZANU-PF ‘ s crackdown seems driven by anxiety
about revolutions against autocratic rulers
sweeping North Africa and the Middle East , as
well as by the party’ s own push for elections
this year – elections that leaders of the
Movement for Democratic Change have warned
could lead to another violent and discredited
election .
In interviews in recent days , spokesmen for
both Mr . Mugabe and his party have said that
the elections must happen this year .
But South Africa, tasked by regional leaders
with brokering Zimbabwe’ s power- sharing deal ,
is pushing back against Mr . Mugabe ‘s rush to
the polls with unusual vigor that marks a
surprising break with its long and much
criticized ” quiet diplomacy ” in responding to its
neighbor ‘ s decade -long economic and political
In a statement on March 1 , Marius Fransman ,
the deputy minister in South Africa’s
Department of International Relations and
Cooperation, said South Africa and the region
took the position that any election held before
Zimbabweans adopted a new constitution
through a referendum would violate the power –
sharing agreement .
Told that ZANU-PF officials had said there
would be an election this year , Lindiwe Zulu , a
special adviser to South Africa’s president ,
Jacob Zuma , said in a recent interview that
pulling one off that soon would take a miracle .
And on a recent visit to Zimbabwe, Ms. Zulu
said , Mr . Zuma ‘s team plainly voiced concern
about a recurrence of violence and
intimidation .
” If they are going to have an election by
October , they would have to do a 360-degree
turnaround at high speed, ” she said .
Even more forceful comments came from
South Africa’ s deputy president , Kgalema
Motlanthe, who acknowledged the harsh
realities confronting his own country , where
more than a third of working – age people are
jobless and often resent the estimated two
million Zimbabweans who have settled here to
escape their devastated homeland .
Mr . Motlanthe called for the next Zimbabwean
elections to be a watershed in the country ‘s
history, free of violence and observed by
international monitors from the region and
Europe, his spokesman , Thabo Masebe,
confirmed .
” It is the will of the Zimbabwean people which
must determine the future of Zimbabwe as a
country , and it is in our interest as a country
that indeed we proceed in that direction ,” Mr .
Motlanthe said last week. ” Because if we fail
and Zimbabwe implodes , literally the border
between Zimbabwe will disappear and we will
sit with all the problems. “

Published: March 11 , 2011

The United States ambassador to Zimbabwe,
Charles Ray , has poured cold water on President
Robert Mugabe ’ s anti -sanctions drive saying the
campaign will not have any significance if
people remained suppressed .
On Wednesday President Mugabe officially
launched his Zanu PF party ’ s anti – sanctions
campaign , blasting the US , United Kingdom and
their allies for imposing sanctions against him
and his inner circle to effect regime change .
The 87 -year old veteran leader said the
sanctions were a form of violence which had
hurt the economy and impoverished
In retaliation , he threatened to seize companies
linked to countries that have maintained
sanctions on Zimbabwe.
President Mugabe and his lieutenants signed an
anti -sanctions petition .
But Ray said the petition was a “ wretched thing ”
when only one section of the population was
allowed to demonstrate .
“ Petitions are great things ,” said Ray in a
statement .
“ On any given day , thousands of petitions are
circulating in the US . But a petition becomes a
wretched thing when only one section of the
population is allowed the right to express its
views publicly , while others seeking the right to
assemble , petition , and demonstrate are
arrested and tortured. ”
Ray said Zimbabwe’ s current political and
economic environment , including fresh threats
from the President on his birthday to take over
established companies , had a chilling effect on
new investment , both domestic and
international .
“ Banks and other businesses are responsible to
their shareholders , and find it increasingly
difficult to justify investing in such a high risk
environment . Only economic stabilisation and
political sanity will change this , ” Ray said .
“ For more than 10 years , Zimbabwe has been
ineligible to receive any type of international
loan , regardless of US and EU opinions, due to
its leaders ’ failure to make payments on its
debt . Zimbabwe’ s unpaid debts to the African
Development Bank , IMF , and World Bank put a
stop to lending long before there were
sanctions . ”
Ray said restrictive measures imposed on
Zimbabwean leaders did “ not hurt other
Zimbabweans. What hurts the rest of the
country is the corruption , mismanagement , and
lack of social investment that has brought
development to a standstill ” .

18 : 35

LAWYERS for 46 people facing treason charges
for allegedly plotting an Egyptian- style uprising
yesterday said that some members of the group
were tortured by police.
Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi ordered the
suspects to be held in detention to reappear in
court on Monday , saying only the High Court
was empowered to free them on bail on treason
charges punishable by death .
He ordered that they be given medical
examinations before the hearing to verify
allegations of torture .
Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama told the
court that 12 suspects told lawyers they were
beaten with broomsticks on their bodies,
buttocks and the soles of their feet.
They were arrested on Saturday for attending a
lecture on North African anti -government
He said others were denied medication and
access to lawyers.
State prosecutors alleged the group of labour
and social activists held the meeting to plan a
revolt against long -time President Robert
The group says it was an academic study session
and denies wrongdoing.
Muchadehama told the court that delays in
bringing the group to their first court
appearance on Wednesday were illegal because
Zimbabwean law says suspects must be
arraigned within 48 hours of arrest.
Prosecutors alleged the group watched videos of
the Egyptian revolt that brought down Hosni
Mubarak after nearly three decades in power.
Prosecutors also claimed the meeting
participants took turns making speeches calling
for a revolt against Mugabe.
Muchadehama , the defence lawyer , insisted
there were no grounds for treason charges.
“ What happened in Egypt and Tunisia is that
people gathered and demonstrated and their
leaders resigned or abdicated their seats ,” he
said . “ No treason was committed in the two
countries. ”
If watching television footage of the uprisings
was treason, he said, most Zimbabweans would
be guilty of it.
But authorities loyal to Mugabe were “ so
paranoid , ” he said , that anything seen to
challenge Mugabe was termed treason and
subversion .
Prosecutors claim that former opposition
lawmaker Munyaradzi Gwisai , head of the local
branch of the International Socialist
Organization , and the other civic activists were
conducting the meeting to “ organise, strategise
and implement the removal of the constitutional
government of Zimbabwe . . . the Egyptian way . ”
Speaking from the dock , Gwisai said he believed
all citizens had the right to take grievances to
their leaders through open discussion .
Gwisai said he was repeatedly beaten with a
wooden plank and told to confess that he called
for Mugabe ’ s ouster. The beatings were
recorded by his interrogators , he said .
As a public figure, Mugabe should be subject to
political examination and democratic debate
even though democratic institutions in
Zimbabwe are flawed , Gwisai said .
“ Events in Egypt and Tunisia show that the basis
of legitimate power in democratic societies lies
with the people,” he said . “ Marches , singing and
protests are fundamental human rights through
which people can address those who govern
them . ”
He said studying protests elsewhere was
important for “ because people who seek change
and don’ t understand it will repeat the mistakes
of history. ” — AP.

Friday , 25 February 2011 07 : 43

Amnesty International today expressed shock
that at least 45 Zimbabwean activists have been
charged with treason and could face the death
penalty following their arrest at a lecture on the
protests in North Africa.
Mr Munyaradzi Gwisai , a former opposition
parliamentarian , and 44 social justice , trade
union and human rights activists were arrested
by police on Saturday as they were attending a
lecture entitled Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia .
What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and
“ This is a clear over-reaction by the state to an
event in which the participants were exercising
their legitimate right to freedom of expression
which the government of Zimbabwe must
guarantee under national and international law, ”
said Michelle Kagari , Amnesty International ’ s
deputy director for Africa.
Amnesty International is also alarmed by reports
that at least seven of the activists , including
Munyaradzi Gwisai , were beaten by security
agents while in custody and called on the
government to investigate the allegations.
“ The safety of detainees remains a serious
concern as the Law and Order Section at Harare
Central Police station has become notorious for
the torture and ill -treatment of activists in their
custody, ” said Michelle Kagari .
“ These persistent abuses demonstrate the need
for urgent reform of Zimbabwe’ s security sector
to bring to an end a culture of impunity for
human rights violations and partisan
enforcement of the law. ”
Defence lawyers told Amnesty International they
had been denied the opportunity to consult their
clients and they were only informed of the
charges facing the activists minutes before they
were brought before the court .
The proceedings were adjourned following
protests from the lawyers and are expected to
resume Monday .
Amnesty International is also concerned about
reports that prison officers at the Magistrates
court in Harare prevented the defence lawyers
from taking instructions from their clients before
they were transferred to Harare Remand Prison
and Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison .
“ This restriction of the right of the activists to
access their lawyer is unnecessary and throws
serious doubts on the likelihood the detainees
will receive a fair trial,” said Michelle Kagari .
“ The police continue to selectively apply the law
in favour of President Robert Mugabe’ s ZANU-
PF party . ”
Last month ZANU-PF supporters carried out
attacks against opposition supporters in
Harare ’ s suburb of Mbare , but to date , the
police have not arrested anyone.

Notes to Editors
• Mr Munyaradzi Gwisai is a former Movement
for Democratic Change parliamentarian . He is
now a law lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe and the coordinator of the
Zimbabwean chapter of the International
Socialist Organisation
• The activists are being charged with treason
under Section 20 of the Criminal ( Codification
and Reform ) Act [ Chapter 9: 23 ] or alternatively
“ attempting to overthrow the government by
unconstitutional means under Section 22 ( 2) ( a )
( i) of the Criminal Law ( Codification and
Reform ) Act .

24 February 2011
AI Index : PRE 01 / 084/ 2011