Archive for the ‘Demonstration’ 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

Charges against three Mthwakazi Liberation
Front ( MLF ) leaders , who were arrested last
week for alleged subversion of a constitutional
government, were Monday altered to treason
which attracts the death penalty.
John Gazi , Paul Siwela and Charles Thomas will
appear in court today for trial.
They had initialy been brought to court
yesterday , but because of the new circumstance
did not appear before any magistrate and were
instead kept in the courts ’ holding cells .
The activists are being represented by a defence
team led by Advocate Lucas Nkomo and
includes Sindiso Mazibisa , Robert Ndlovu and
Matshobana Ncube .
Mazibisa said police had initially charged his
clients under Section 20 of the Criminal Law
( Codification and Reform ) Act ( subversion of a
constitutional government ) , but the charge was
altered in the holding cells without warned-and –
cautioned statements recorded.
“ They are now saying the trio distributed flyers
and calendars urging people to do the Egypt ,
Tunisia and Ethiopia and I don’ t know where
Ethiopia is coming from ,” said Mazibisa .
“ They are also saying on March 1, they held an
executive meeting in Bulawayo where they
mooted to overthrow the government. ”
The lawyer said what was strange was that the
police only decided to change the charges at
3pm yesterday yet his clients were arrested last
“ The charges were changed in the court holding
cells and no warned-and -cautioned statements
were recorded from them . They had to go back
to the police station and recharge them . We
could not go into court without seeing the
papers because we are challenging remand ,”
said Mazibisa .
Contacted for comment, the Criminal
Investigation Department coordinator for
Matabeleland region , Assistant Commissioner
Erasmus Makodza , confirmed the development .
“ They will appear in court Tuesday . They are
being charged with treason, ” he said .
MLF is pushing for a separate Matabeleland
The group formally wrote to President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
demanding the creation of a separate state
citing “ continued marginalisation ” of the
Matabeleland region .

2011 20 : 09

Harare , Zimbabwe (CNN) — A court in
Zimbabwe ruled Monday that six of 45 political
and civil society activists arrested last month on
charges of plotting to topple President Robert
Mugabe in a Tunisian-Egyptian style uprising
face a trial on treason charges and could be
executed if convicted .
” Merely listening to treasonous utterances is not
criminal ,” said Harare Magistrate Munamato
Mutevedzi as he freed 39 of the 45 activists who
have been detained since February 19 .
He said the six others must face trial because
they had organized and spoken at the meeting .
Mutevedzi ordered the six social and human
rights activists held , including former Movement
for Democratic Change Member of Parliament
Munyaradzi Gwisai .
They now await a trial date at the High Court on
treason charges, which carry the death sentence
in Zimbabwe.
” You can apply for bail at the High Court since
the offense you are facing is a scheduled
offense which cannot be entertained by a
magistrate court ,” said Mutevedzi, referring to
the six.
Immediately after the ruling , the activists ‘
attorney Charles Kwaramba told the court that
his clients were being detained in solitary
confinement while the women were being
forced to work at the prison .
” We seriously object to this . They are still
innocent and there is no need to punish them , “
said Kwaramba . ” Their right of liberty is being
seriously infringed . That amounts to slavery . It
must not be allowed in a democratic society . “
Last week , the United States expressed concern
about their arrests and allegations by their
lawyer that some of them were tortured.
The activists were arrested and charged with
treason after they were caught watching footage
of the protests that led to the ouster of Tunisian
leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak .
At least 12 of the activists were beaten with
broomsticks on their buttocks and the soles of
their feet, according to their attorneys .
Robert Mugabe, 87 , has ruled Zimbabwe since
1980 . Like Mubarak and Ben Ali, he has been
accused of rigging elections and instituting
repressive laws to tighten his grip on power .
Political observers have suggested the arrests
may be an indication that authorities are
worried that the changes sweeping across north
Africa may inspire Zimbabweans to rise up .

From Columbus S . Mavhunga , CNN
March 7 , 2011 — Updated 1429 GMT ( 2229

Bulawayo police have banned street protests,
rallies and meetings by political parties and civic
groups citing a hostile environment , a measure
observers described as “ symptomatic of regimes
without the people’ s mandate ” .
Police were denying political parties, other than
Zanu PF , and civic groups permission to hold
rallies on the back of suspicion the gatherings
could plot North Africa-style anti -government
uprisings .
The ban was prompted by fear the meetings
could be hijacked and used as a launchpad for
anti -President Robert Mugabe protests .
This comes at a time International Socialist
Organisation general coordinator Munyaradzi
Gwisai and 45 others are in remand prison for
allegedly planning an Egypt -style uprising
against President Mugabe ’ s rule.
Over the past few weeks, Bulawayo police have
denied the two MDCs and political pressure
groups permission to hold rallies, protests and
political meetings .
MDC-T Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Felix
Magalela Sibanda said the move had adversely
affected the party’ s preparations ahead of its
elective congress set for May .
“ The police are saying our meetings are
cancelled indefinitely . . . there is just no
justification for the cancellation of our
meetings , ” said Sibanda .
Last week , MDC- T MP for Bulawayo Central
Dorcas Sibanda was briefly detained for
allegedly organising a meeting perceived to
support anti -President Mugabe protests .
She was arrested during a fund- raising event for
Mpilo Central Hospital .
On Monday last week, police arrested over 22
Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise ( Woza /
Moza) activists for holding a burial society
meeting in Entumbane and charged them with
planning anti -government protests .
Last Wednesday , police denied the Bulawayo
Progressive Residents ’ Association ( BPRA )
permission to hold street protests against poor
service delivery, saying “ they were given a
directive not to clear any meetings or
demonstrations ” .
BPRA said the “ move by the police is an affront
to freedom of expression and the right of
Zimbabweans to assembly” , adding the
association was considering taking legal action
against police .
Tsepiso Mpofu , the coordinator for the Youth
Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe, which is
spearheading a programme to assist youths
with voter registration, last week said her
association had also been denied permission to
hold meetings in high -density suburbs .
Edwin Ndlovu, the spokesperson for the
Welshman Ncube – led MDC, said their party
meetings had also been stopped on flimsy
grounds .
“ Police were clear and told us that they cannot
allow us to go ahead with our meetings because
we will use them to launch anti -government
protests, ” Ndlovu said .
Analysts , however , condemned the move by the
police as unconstitutional .
Rodrick Fayayo , a Bulawayo-based
commentator , said : “ It’ s symptomatic of
regimes without the people’ s mandate . They are
scared of the demonstrations they see in North
Africa, that is why they are closing space . ”
Acting Bulawayo police provincial spokesperson
Inspector Precious Simango could neither
confirm nor deny that police had officially
suspended political meetings , rallies and
“ There are reasons why those meetings , rallies
and protests were not sanctioned by the
regulating authorities,” Simango said , but
refused to state the reasons.

2011 18 : 48

If there is something that has been nagging at
Zimbabwe’ s politics for the past decade , it is the
issue of sanctions , and yesterday , ZANU PF
whose business has been declared to be the
protection of the country ’ s sovereignty and
independence , unleashed its campaign
machinery tow -ards mobilising against the
sanctions . It is an issue that has dogged the
inclusive government since its inception in
February 2009 . The MDC party formation led by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has insisted
the sanctions are mere “ restrictions ” , but Dep-
uty Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara , the
former leader of another MDC formation, has
loudly condemned the sanctions , which the
West argue are targeted against President
Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle .
“ There is no economic sanctions regime in this
country , there are restrictive measures,” Prime
Minister Tsvangirai told a public accountability
seminar orga – nised by the Media Institute of
Southern Africa ( MISA ) and the Centre for
Public Accountability ( CPA ) last year , adding:
“ We have agreed as principals to tackle the issue
of restrictive measures as this isolation has
affected the lines of credit . ”
But President Mugabe and his ZANU PF party
insist that the sanctions are not targeted but
were rather put in place to accelerate Zimba –
bwe ’ s economic collapse in order to undermine
his government under what ZANU-PF describes
as “ the regime change agenda” .
ZANU-PF began mobilising support for two
million signatures to accompany a petition
against the sanctions by the EU and the US
government yesterday at an event where
President Mugabe was the chief guest. Prime
Minister Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister
Mutambara had been invited to the occasion,
but reports indicate that they snubbed the
event .
In a campaign advertisement, ZANU-PF
highlighted that Article 1 V of the global political
agreement ( GPA ) , the instrument that facilitated
the creation of the inclusive government, had
bound all three political parties in the inclusive
government to fight “ illegal sanctions impo- sed
on the Zimbabwean people by the United
Kingdom , the Europ- ean Union , United States of
Ame- rica and international financial institutions
like the IMF and the World Bank ” .
“ This article of the GPA attests to the direct
connection between these illegal sanctions and
the decline in the Zimbabwean economy; the
non-availability of lines of credit to Zimbabwe;
the negative international perception of
Zimbabwe; and the fall in the standards of living
of the Zimbabwean people, ” read the ZANU-PF
campaign banner .
“ Sanctions do kill! Sign against them , act against
them !” charged ZANU- PF .
Recently , business has come out in support of
measures to withdraw the sanctions , arguing
these had become an unbearable cost to
business and the economy .
It is indeed true that sanctions have been a
factor in Zimbabwe’ s economic de- cline that
ended with formation of the inclusive
government in 2009 , but they were certainly not
the major reason for the sharp decline. With the
economic crisis emerged a sharp decline in
living standards .
For many years , and as most economists and
economic journalists will confirm , the critical
economic story was government’ s budget
deficits which were largely accrued to finance
recurrent expenditure .
There was very little for capital projects , key to
the development of an economy and job
creation .
An economic adjustment programme backed by
the IMF in the early 1990 s had only worsened
the situation . Its intentions had been noble:
There was need for belt tightening as well as
austere measures by government to grow the
economy . But government panicked at the first
signs of upheaval; austere measures meant the
erosion of so -called social safety nets , and free
health care for the poor . As a result, these
reforms were abandoned , and government
argued they had been inappropriate for the
domestic economy.
But the decline in the economy became gradual;
rising commodity prices stoked spontaneous
protects in Harare ’ s urban areas after bread
prices went up in 1998.
Similar protests were to ensue in consequent
years , triggered largely by declining standards of
living and rising unemployment .
These were precisely the issues that triggered
the em -ergence of the opposition in Zimbabwe
in 1999, with the Zimbabwe Congress of Tr -ade
Unions ( ZCTU ) secretary -general , Morgan
Tsvangirai , now Prime Minister of the inclusive
government , emerging the favourite to le- ad
efforts to unseat the inc- umbent government of
Pre -sident Mugabe from power.
But , just th -en, the contentious issue of land
ownership emerged , and ZANU-PF , whose
leadership had always lured voters on the back
of promises to re -distribute land to landless bla –
cks , seized on that issue to win back support
and fend off the threat posed by the opposition .
Unsettled white farmers began bank- rolling the
M-DC formation led by Tsvan -girai , and the
international community — the USA , the EU ,
Australia, New Zealand and a few others outside
the EU block – jumped into the MDC’ s corner.
But that only served to make the MDC’ s struggle
for power a racial affair : President Mugabe
charged that the condemnation of his
government was an issue of “ kith and kin” — the
British , who led the campaign against ZANU-PF
and President Mugabe , were angry with his
government for taking away land from the
whites .
The US first targeted Zimbabwe in 2001 after
the controversial land reform programme that
saw thousands of white -owned farms invaded
and occupied.
The Zimbabwe Dem – ocracy and Economic
Recovery Act ( ZIDERA ) directed that the US
government should oppose the granting of any
loan or financial assistance to Zimbabwe.
President George Bush then expanded the
sanctions by declaring a national emergency to
deal with the Zimbabwean threat in 2003 .
Meanwhile , the opposition ’ s cup ran over, with
massive financial packages from the West –
President Mugabe had to be removed from
power , and the only viable option was the
emergence of Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his
MDC party which they bankrolled with reckless
abandon . Today , senior activists within the MDC
can be counted among US dollar multi –
millionaires through this money , yet village
activists maimed for the struggle against ZANU-
PF have been neglected, in fact shunned by a
party whose struggle has massively enriched a
So , while the economy had already been on a
downward trajectory , and required a miracle to
be salvaged from that course , it was also clearly
the intention of the West to ensure Zimbabwe
was isolated in order to undermine President
Mugabe ’ s government and buttress a surging
opposition through economic sanctions .
Although denying that there were economic
sanctions in place , Prime Minister Tsvangirai,
however , noted that “ the issue of restrictive
measures” was a form of economic “ isolation
( that ) has affected the lines of credit ” into the
country .
Which , put in other words , essentially means
sanctions on President Mugabe and his cabal of
associates were not necessarily smart or
targeted but general economic sanctions which
were meant to have a bearing on the economic
performance .
How does banning individuals of a detested
government from travelling to the EU or the US
achieve democratic reforms unless those
individuals ’ lives depended on visiting those
countries ? The truth is it is Zimbabwe ’ s economy
that depends to a significant extent on financial
interaction with the EU block and the US , rather
than President Mugabe and members of his
government . Besides, the squeeze on
companies targeted under the regime of
sanctions for allegedly propping President
Mugabe ’ s former government have hundreds of
employees dependent on them , and also
interact with many other economic players for
the growth of the Zimbabwean economy . The
management of Zimbabwe’ s economy had
indeed an effect on Zimbabwe ’ s credit
worthiness , but ZIDERA and other sanction
measures gave a cue to financial institutions on
how they had to deal with even private sector
players in the crisis- torn economy.
Yet even without ZIDERA, Zimbabwe had
become unqualified to access balance of
payments support from the IMF because of
protracted arrears.
A US embassy spokesperson in Zimbabwe
indicated in a recent response to an article by
The Financial Gazette that ZIDERA , signed into
law in 2001 , and provisions contained in
subsequent appropriations acts , restricted the
ability of the United States to cast its vote in
support of assistance to Zimbabwe in
international financial institutions ( IFI ’ s) , except
for programmes that meet basic human needs
or promote democracy .
But indeed Zimbabwe was already ineligible for
multilateral loans before ZIDERA due to its
arrears to the IFIs . But ZIDERA made it a law
that the US did not have to support financial
support that could result in a positive turn to
Zimbabwe’ s struggling economy under President
Mugabe ’ s regime .
To many watchers, ZIDERA and indeed other
forms of sanctions against President Mugabe
and his allies are not an obstacle to Zimbabwe’ s
economic recovery , as observed by the recovery
experienced over the past two years . Yet their
removal is indeed an integral part of the GPA,
and indeed full implementation of that political
agreement also includes removal of sanctions .
“ The United States advocates full
implementation of the Global Political
Agreement , an accord brokered by SADC and
signed by each of the three parties represented
in the transitional government , and the holding
of free and fair elections that will reflect the will
of the majority of Zimbabweans ,” the embassy
spokesperson had noted in the statement to this
newspaper .
The spirit of any democratic system is that
political power should be vested in the people,
and if the US , the EU and their allies are sincere
about building a democratic Zimbabwe free of
exogenous influences , they must remove the
sanctions to give the contending political players
equal chances on the ballot .
This is not to say violence , electoral fraud or
human rights abuses from any of the
contending forces should be condoned ; but , it is
certainly not the reason why the US , the EU and
their allies have kept sanctions against President
Mugabe and so-called members of his inner
circle .
The West has stuck to regimes whose leaders
won power through fraudulent elections . Until
the recent protests that triggered the flight of
Hosni Mubarak from power in Egypt , that Arab
country was the single largest recipient of
financial support from the US .
There West has done business with despotic
regimes across the globe , including China ,
whose prominent dissident , Liu Xiaobo, a jailed
Chinese rights activist , won the 2010 Nobel
Peace prize last year , as well as the Equatorial
Guinea or Gabon whose violation of human
rights is equally detestable . Muammar Gaddafi
was until the recent protests viewed as a
“ rehabilitated dictator” after he had agreed
access to Libya ’ s oil resources to the west.
So , even if the sanctions on Zimbabwe might be
a token of apprehension by the West over
Zimbabwe’ s human rights record, they risk being
deduced in racial terms because of the
inconsistent application of that measure by the
West .
This is why regional leaders , including South
Africa’ s President Jacob Zuma , have urged their
withdrawal and patently shown sympathy to
President Mugabe because of the perception
that he is a victim .
To allow for meaningful reforms , these
sanctions have to go and the political gladiators
have to then agree to meaningfully level the
political playing field .

Dumisani Ndlela , Deputy Editor – in- Chief
Friday , 04 March 2011 12 : 56

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

Washington (CNN) — The United States
expressed concern Thursday about recent
arrests in Zimbabwe of political and civil society
activists and allegations by their lawyer that
some of them were tortured.
On February 19 , former Movement for
Democratic Change Member of Parliament
Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 other labor union
and student activists ” who had gathered
peacefully to discuss recent events in Egypt “
were arrested and charged with treason , State
Department spokesman Philip J . Crowley said in
a statement .
Other political and civil society activists have
also been arrested, he said.
” Gwisai ‘ s defense attorney has reported that
several of the 46 people were tortured while in
custody, and we understand that the magistrate
has ordered physical examinations to
substantiate those claims,” he said. ” We call on
the government to provide medical attention for
those who need it and , if torture occurred , to
take immediate action to hold the perpetrators
accountable . “
A ruling on the charges’ merits is to be delivered
March 7 .
Crowley called on the government of Zimbabwe
to uphold rights spelled out under the
International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and to ensure that those arrested are
guaranteed due process .
Zimbabwean authorities said the 46 people were
arrested and charged with treason after they
were caught watching footage of the protests
that led to the ouster of Tunisian leader Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak .
” On 16 February they held a meeting and the
purpose of the meeting was to organize,
strategize and implement the removal of a
constitutional government of Zimbabwe by
unconstitutional means , the Tunisian-Egyptian
way ,” prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba said last
week in court .
At least 12 of the activists were beaten with
broomsticks on their buttocks and the soles of
their feet, defense attorney Alec Muchadehama
told a packed courtroom on Thursday . All 46
defendants were charged with treason, a charge
that carries a death sentence in Zimbabwe.
” If watching television footage of the uprisings
was treason, most Zimbabweans would be guilty
of it because we watch news daily,”
Muchadehama said .
Robert Mugabe, 87 , has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence in 1980 . Like Mubarak and Ben
Ali , he has been accused of rigging elections and
instituting repressive laws to tighten his grip on
power .
The arrests may be an indication that authorities
are worried that the changes sweeping across
north Africa may inspire Zimbabweans to rise
up . The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC, which is in a troubled unity
government with Mugabe’ s ZANU-PF , has called
the arrests ” an abuse of state machinery by
ZANU-PF to suppress the people’s views . “
Mugabe ‘s policies over the past decade have
been blamed for plunging the once-prosperous
country into economic crisis . Mugabe has called
for an election this year , but his political rival
and leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, has
threatened to boycott the poll if a referendum
on a new constitution is not held .

By the CNN Wire Staff
March 4 , 2011 — Updated 0151 GMT ( 0951

THE United Nations ‘ top human rights official
called yesterday for the release of dozens of
activists arrested in Zimbabwe for discussing the
uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia .
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi
Pillay said some of those arrested and charged
with treason , from the International Socialist
Organisation and other social justice and human
rights groups , had alleged they were beaten in
detention .
” The arrests appear to be part of a growing
crackdown on civil society and members of the
political opposition , and are a clear sign that the
establishment of a consolidated democracy in
Zimbabwe is still very far from assured, ” she
said in a statement .
Police in Zimbabwe said they arrested 46 people
in Harare last month as they watched videos of
North African protests and discussed possible
demonstrations in Zimbabwe, where President
Robert Mugabe , 87 , has held power for 31
years .
Pillay, a former UN war crimes judge , has
spoken out in support of protesters in North
Africa and the Middle East and said a crackdown
against demonstrators in Libya could amount to
crimes against humanity. She said yesterday the
uprisings had made it clear ” there is no true
democracy without freedom of expression and
assembly” .
” It is therefore both deeply ironic and disturbing
that, in Zimbabwe, activists are being arrested
and mistreated simply for discussing North
Africans’ efforts to bring about change through
largely peaceful protests, ” she said .
� Zimbabwean police and troops are putting on
a show of force in the capital as calls for
protests against the long -time authoritarian
ruler appear to have gone unheeded.
Armoured cars , trucks of riot police and Israeli –
built water cannon vehicles have swept through
Harare since Saturday , fanning out into
townships around the city . Authorities have
given no official explanation for the display of
Messages , many of them anonymous , posted on
Zimbabwean websites called for protests
yesterday . But there has been no open
campaigning for demonstrators to turn out on
the streets .
Mugabe is scheduled to address a mass rally in
central Harare today. – Reuters , Sapa- AP

Mar 1, 2011 10 : 01 PM | By unknown

HARARE ( Reuters) – Internet campaigns calling
for protests against the 31 – year rule of President
Robert Mugabe on Tuesday did not lead to any
mass gatherings in Zimbabwe, where police
have threatened to crush any ” Egypt -style “
The two campaigns , on Facebook and Twitter ,
were trying to start popular uprisings similar to
ones that toppled the long -serving leaders of
Tunisia and Egypt and are threatening Libyan
strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Although there was no unusual security
deployment in Harare on Tuesday , private
newspaper NewsDay reported that soldiers in
armoured troop carriers had been ” sighted ” on
Monday in traditionally restive townships in the
The Facebook campaign calling for a million
citizen march and a separate one on Twitter
were aimed at bringing down Mugabe, 87 ,
leader since independence from Britain in 1980.
Zimbabweans in London were planning to burn
an effigy of Mugabe outside of the country ‘ s
embassy in London in support of the Facebook
campaign .
But by mid- morning, there was no sign of any
gathering in the large park in Harare named as
the protest venue by the organisers operating
under the banner FreeZimActivists .
Other parks , normally packed with people, were
largely empty , apparently over people’s fears of
being caught up in any protest .
Zimbabwe’s dominant state media made no
reference to the planned demonstration against
Mugabe, who rights groups say has used
violence and intimidation to crush any
Tensions have been running high in the past
weeks, with Mugabe ‘s ZANU- PF pushing for
early elections that officials from the rival and
governing partner MDC party have said could
lead to a bloodbath.
Mugabe was forced into a power -sharing
government with Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’ s Movement for Democratic Change
after the controversial 2008 vote that led to
violence and hundreds of thousands fleeing the
country .
Police officials – – who said they would crack
down on any protest — were not immediately
available for comment.
Ordinary Zimbabweans are fearful of speaking
publicly about the call to protest, mindful of
tight security laws with sweeping provisions
against anything that could be viewed as inciting
violence or rebellion against a constitutional
order .
Last week , police arrested 46 people in Harare
as they watched videos of protests in the north
African countries and discussed possible
demonstrations in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe
plans to run for another five year -term in
elections he wants to call later this year .
ZANU-PF has deployed massive shows of force ,
including using helicopter gunships, against
previous protests .
Critics say Mugabe has used tough policing and
vote -rigging to keep his grip on power despite
an economic crisis in the past decade that many
blame on his mismanagement .

By Cris Chinaka
HARARE ( Reuters)

One of the state witnesses in the treason case
against Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 others is a
member of the state secret security service ,
Jonathan Soko, who gave the court details ,
through an affidavit, how security agents
penetrated the Gwisai meeting without the
organisers of the meeting suspecting anything .
Below is the intelligence officer ’ s affidavit :
“ I Jonathan Soko aged 28 years do hereby make
oath and swear that : I am employed by the
Zimbabwe Republic Police holding the rank of
Detective Sergeant. I am currently attached to
the Criminal Intelligence Unit and based at
Harare Central .
“ I know the accused only in connection with the
“ On 19 February 2011, I was on duty and I was
assigned by my superiors to cover a political
meeting that had not been sanctioned which
was to be held at Cross Roads House, 43 Julius
Nyerere Way , Harare . The intended speakers
were said to be Lovemore Matombo ( ZCTU) ,
Obert Masaruure ( Zinasu ) , J Chirenje ( MPAWUZ ) ,
Munyaradzi Gwisai ( ISO) and chaired by T
Sando ( ISO) ( whom I know as Antionator
Choto ) .
“ I got to the venue at about 13 : 45 hrs before the
meeting had commenced so as ( to avoid) the
vetting process . When the vetting process
commenced outside the room , I was already
seated and it seemed I had already been vetted
so I remained in the room . Over 40 people were
vetted as they entered the room by way of
presenting the programme with the ISO
emblem and headed ‘ ISO calls on workers ,
students and the working people to support the
struggle in solidarity with Egyptian and Tunisian
workers ’ and stating their organisation and how
they got to know about the meeting . Everyone
who attended was in possession of the invitation
document ( programme) .
“ When everyone was seated the meeting was
called to order by Antonater Choto who told
participants that they were invited for a
revolutionary cause but before deliberations
could start , they were to be shown a video
about the Egyptian revolution as they wait for
other speakers.
“ A video footage of events in the Egyptian revolt
was shown from a laptop computer and
projector by Michael Sozinyu and after the video
Choto told the meeting that Lovemore
Matombo of ZCTU who was billed to speak
could no longer make it to address the meeting
hence they could start . She told the meeting
that the speakers were to deliberate on the
lessons poor Zimbabweans and workers could
learn from the Egypt revolt and how best
Zimbabwe can implement the Egypt revolt so as
to remove a dictator and a system of
“ Welcome Zimuto of Zinasu , Hopewell Gumbo
of Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and
Development, Edson Chakuma of the Food and
Allied Workers ’ Union and Munyaradzi Gwisai
( ISO) gave speeches in this order . These
speeches were aimed at inciting public violence
as they told the meeting that it is possible for
the people to revolt against government and
cause the resignation of the president as
witnessed in Egypt . They said what is needed is
unity of purpose , mobilisation and proper
strategising. They said people should start
sending text messages and e -mails urging them
to revolt against the government which they
described as causing the suffering of
Zimbabweans. They said there is need to
remove President Mugabe from office because
he was a dictator. They also said Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai should not be allowed to
replace President Mugabe as he was a capitalist
and a stooge of the West .
“ Choto would moderate after every speaker and
would churn out slogans like viva socialism viva,
a luta continua, abacha chingoyoka which were
responded to by the participants who
participated in the sloganeering .

“ After the speeches Choto invited contributions
from the floor as she asked participants to say
what they had learned from the Egypt revolt
video and what Zimbabweans can do to achieve
what the Egyptians achieved.
“ The meeting was however disrupted at this
juncture and before anyone could speak a word
that police details had surrounded the building
and were demanding entry into the building
reached the meeting .
“ Gwisai then told everyone not to panic and
asked everyone to pretend as if they were
having a church service and this is when Pastor
Reki Jim started church songs and everyone
sang along . Some of the participants however
went to an adjacent phone shop and pretended
to be customers. Gwisai also ordered the
removal of the banner pinned to the walls with
the messages ‘ The choice now is socialism ’ .
He also ordered for the programme to be
collected from everyone .
“ Police details then managed to gain entry and
rounded up everyone and took them to Harare
Police Station . ”

STAFF WRITER | HARARE – Feb 25 2011 19 : 29