Cartoons – Zapiro – Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source

Cartoons – Zapiro – Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source.

Mugabe in Singapore hospital Zapiro

Zapiro's take on Mugabe's illness

Funny as always…and true 😀

 

Zimbabwe: The Runoff Election Farce

It is useless saying that the presidential runoff in Zimbabwe must be or should be free and fair because the truth of the matter is that it simply won’t be. If free encapsulates the human right of choosing freely, without blatant or latent threats of retaliation, and if fair comprises of all things equal and honest, then running a credible election in Zimbabwe is as credible as China’s denial of harming Tibetans (or baby girls for that matter).

Information from the beautiful country of Zimbabwe is scarce and getting scarcer by the day. Only isolated reports manage to find their way to those of us who live in the rest of the world – and then only in drips and drabs. Video footage has all but disappeared as those found recording anything that could be even remotely incriminating are cast into jails on one or another trumped up charge. This is a best case scenario. Some are poorly treated; others are tortured, while others still are killed.
Such is the transparency of the tyrant.

If commentators, spectators and journalists are too scared to venture into the hell hole of current day on-the-spot Zimbabwe politics, how can we expect the average Zimbabwean to play Zimbabwean Roulette with the Mugabe gun? The average Zimbabwean has parents, a husband or wife, children, grandchildren and friends. And, the average Zimbabwean knows that there is an un-penned law of oppression that states that your sins against Mugabe will visit you and those who are near and dear to you. In fact, it may even visit those who simply live near to you regardless of their political persuasions.

Such is the wrath of the tyrant.

Looking forward to runoff day, there will be relative peace. But looking towards the run-up towards runoff day, there won’t: Villagers will be tortured into submission using the techniques learnt from Mugabe’s Chinese handlers. In the sky smoke will rise from the homes and business burnt as a grim warning to those who dare to vote differently. The blood from wounds caused by Chinese supplied arms is set to flow across the Zimbabwean soil. And then, when all have been cowed, maimed, incarcerated and killed, runoff day will dawn quietly. Not with the quiet associated with contentment, but with the eerie quiet associated with death.
Such is the rule of the tyrant.

Is there hope?

Unless UN peacekeeping forces are deployed now and unless UN observers are present on the day and unless these UN observers guard the ballot until the results are released…the answer is…

!NO!

Zimbabwe: Escalating Violence and China rushing to Mugabe’s aid

It may have been an oversight on the part of President Thabo Mbeki when he omitted the Zimbabwe issue from the agenda of the UN Security Council Meeting he is chairing, but considering said President’s loathe-ness to broach the issue, it probably was not.

The omission did not stop the Council attendees from raising the subject though. With the support of some of the western countries, UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon, pointed out that: “The Zimbabwean authorities and the countries of the region have insisted that these matters are for the region to resolve, but the international community continues to watch and wait for decisive action.”

The insistence of SADC leaders – Mbeki and Mugabe in particular – that it is an African issue that should be managed by Africans, was initially respected by the global community. Now, weeks later and with no progress to show, international pressure is mounting on Mbeki, whose ‘quiet diplomacy’ approach towards the problems faced by its neighbour is clearly failing.

Back in South Africa, the ANC too is indicating that they are losing their patience with Mr. Mbeki’s take on the issue. ANC president Zuma, in particular, expressed his concern that: “The region cannot afford a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more worrying now given the reported violence that has erupted in the country.”

Zanu-PF violence has indeed been escalating.

Incidents of Violence and Intimidation
1) The number of land grabs has increased to 120. Workers on the occupied farms have been severely beaten, chased off the lands and told that if they return they would be killed. The crops, so desperately needed by the country, are not being harvested and sheep, cattle and chickens are being slain indiscriminately. Police intervention, when called for, is not all that forthcoming.
2) At least 150 cases of torture have been treated by Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights members since the elections ended. This is the tip of the iceberg considering that most of these attacks take place in remote areas and that the overwhelming majority of victims don’t go for treatment.
3) At least two more MDC supporters were killed in Karoi and Mudzi respectively
4) In Magunje, a Chinese psychological torture method was employed by making villagers hold bullets while contemplating their reasons for voting MDC. They were then asked: “Do you want to start a war with Zanu PF?”
5) Mugabe’s private militia have been issued with army combat gear to prevent the victims from distinguishing official soldiers from his private militia.
6) In Magunje, two village elders who defied the threat from soldiers were stripped of their eldership by the soldiers.
7) Villages in the vicinity of Chatsworth and Chiguhuni were raided and polling agents who worked for the MDC during the elections were abducted.
8 ) More than 500 villagers’ houses were raided and set alight in Mutasa South.
9) An MDC supporter in Gokwe was admitted to hospital after having been shot in both legs.
10) In Seke, Zaka, Tsholotso and other rural areas, a group of war veterans wielding guns, threatened to kill those who voted for the opposition and their families.
11) More than 50 MDC members were arrested as a result of the MDC organised stay-away.
12) Students demonstrating against Mugabe at Bulawayo’s Nust University were beaten indiscriminately by police, which led to the demonstration turning into a riot.

The Chinese Factor
Cracks in Messrs. Mugabe and Mbeki’s ‘By Africans For Africa’ are showing. Over the past 24 hours, there have been at least two Zimbabwe-related incidents that sports direct Chinese involvement:

1) Confirmed: A Chinese ship bearing 77 tons in mortars, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades, destined for Zimbabwe, were cleared through customs in Durban today. This is in spite of the fact that international sanctions are in place, banning the sale of weapons to Zimbabwe. According to a US-based intelligence organisation, Zimbabwe has also recently bought trainer fighter jets, radar installations, fighter plans and military vehicles worth $240 million. When asked to comment on why the cargo is being cleared, January Masilela -who chairs the Scrutiny Committee of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) in addition to being our Secretary of Defence – said that it was a ‘simple’ transaction between Zimbabwe and China.

2) Confirmed: A group of Chinese soldiers were spotted working with Zimbabwean soldiers in the eastern border city of Mutare. According to the Holiday Inn in Mutare, both the Zimbabwean and the Chinese soldiers are staying in their hotel. The soldiers are armed with pistols, AK 47 rifles, batons, tear gas and water canons. According to the Holiday Inn, the group is booked to remain for a week.

China has everything to gain: A jab at the West, access to Zimbabwe’s largely untapped diamond, gold and platinum resources, and ivory.

These two incidents may well be the tip of yet another iceberg in the Zimbabwean sea. Considering the Chinese involvement in Zimbabwe, is the matter still regional and isolated to the SADC community? Or has it now formally graduated to an international level?

Regardless of the answer, ‘By Africans For Africa’, has acquired a false note in its repetitive chant…

The Mugabe… I mean… The Zimbabwe Herald Today

You have to read the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald to appreciate just how ridiculously extensive Mugabe-an control over this excuse-for-a-newspaper is. If the matter was not so serious, it could even be downright funny – like a good old April Fool’s Joke. His propaganda litters all the pages, at an enormous density per square inch. There is no attempt to camouflage it – on the contrary, it is right in your face.

 

The editor and the journalists are anonymous as are most of the sources quoted. The golden thread of the paper is that the mess Zim finds it in is no fault of Mugabe: There are strong conspiracy-type theory undertones; and everything and everybody other than Bob, are blamed. The underlying message is venom and hate. Not a pleasurable reading experience at all.

 

Here are some of the headlines forced on their captive readership today:

 

Headline 1: ‘Tsvangirai Begs for VP Post’ by anonymous Herald Reporters

“MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai asked Zanu-PF to accommodate him as one of the Vice Presidents in a government of national unity after being told by his advisors that a possible run-off with President Mugabe for the top job was not in his best interests, The Herald can reveal…”

Okay, you get the gist… the rest of the article – all 975 words – quoted a variety of sources – all of which were (naturally) anonymous and, to appease the Zanu-PF handler, a fair dollop of Anti-MDC Anti-Tsvangirai Anti-The-Rest-OF-The-Evil-World propaganda was added for good measure.

 

 

Headline 2: ‘Don’t withhold goods; Govt warns business’ by anonymous Herald Reporters

“GOVERNMENT expects the business sector to fulfil its social responsibility by ensuring continued supply of basic commodities as opposed to dabbling in politics as part of the regime change agenda, a senior official has said.”

This comes in the wake of the increasingly empty shelves in the Zimbabwean shops. So, what is the reaction of Mugabe? You are right, blame business for this and be silent about the fact that his government has not been importing enough Maize and that they are not exactly paying their Maize accounts either…  and, to be honest, the warning is not a warning, it is a threat…

 

Headline 3: ‘Let’s protect heritage during run-off’ by anonymous Editor

“Fellow Zimbabweans, as we head for a possible presidential run-off, let us make an informed decision best for the future generations and us.”

Starting with an impassioned appeal the remainder of the article launches into a full frontal attack on white settlers: past present and future. He pointed to the fate of Malawi under British influence and extolled the virtues of the Cubans. Anonymous editor neither made an attempt at disguising his racial hate speak, nor of his intentions to fuel it. Quite chilling, actually.

 

Headline 4: Poll results: Solve anomalies first by anonymous Editor

“I have been following election-related events over the past few days and conspiracies and counter-conspiracies that have been emerging over delays in announcing presidential poll results.”

Naturally, Editor blames it all on the MDC. He accuses them of rigging, tampering, yak, yak, yak… and then – as could be expected – dedicates the second half of the article to hurling a variety of personal insults at Morgan Tsvangirai.  

 

Headline 5: White Farmers Free to Apply for Land by {nobody}

“WE salute the police for moving in to stop the new wave of farm occupations that threatened to engulf the countryside, and war veterans for heeding police directives to move out of the farms they occupied in retaliation to threats by hordes of white former commercial farmers.”

Yup, hordes, I am sure…there were 4,000 to start of with, but that was a long, long time ago. Now there are only 300, minus 8, and they are spread all over the country. Be that as it may.., The article warns (or threatens, you decide) these imaginary hordes of farmers that:  ”…those who are lucky enough to still hold farms continue harbouring the unrepentant farmers without counselling against provocative actions, they only serve to brew mistrust in the State and the populace. This mistrust may culminate in a take-over of the remaining white-held farms for distribution to landless black Zimbabweans, many of whom are on the waiting list.” Then, in the very last sentence white farmers who have left Zim are invited to return where they can “apply for resettlement just like other citizens.” Need I say more? Perhaps, best that I don’t.

 

 

On the off-beat side, the property and entertainment sections of the newspaper were …well…empty. I wonder why?

 

Avaaz Petition: Mugabe, Release the Results!

 I received this Avaaz petition in my Inbox a short while ago. They aim to collect 10,000 signatures to present to Mugabe. Please read, and if you would like to support the cause, click on the avaaz link. Perhaps the Zimbabwean people need to know that they are not alone in this…

Dear friends,

Zimbabwe is on a knife’s edge between democracy and chaos. Results still have not been released from the 29 March elections–and fears are rising that Mugabe will resort to violence and fraud to hold on to power. South African president Thabo Mbeki said today that “it’s time to wait”–but time has run out.

Observers, NGOs, and the opposition have appealed for international support. To respond, we’re launching a new campaign to all Avaaz members throughout Africa. Click below to add your name to a petition calling for the results to be released, verified, and peacefully honored. We will send the petition to Mugabe’s government, and to leaders and media organizations throughout Southern Africa and the world:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/democracy_for_zimbabwe/1.php?cl=72012816

Every day brings new developments, and the more time passes, the greater the danger grows that the will of Zimbabwe’s people will be ignored. The faster we can grow this petition, the more powerfully we can show that the people of Africa and the world are looking to Mugabe to honour the choice of Zimbabweans.

In a crisis like this, a petition is just a small step–but it’s something all of us can do, to raise our voices and call for what’s right. And as history shows, international solidarity can be a powerful thing.

With hope,

Ben, Graziela, Ricken, Galit, Paul, Iain, Pascal, Milena, and Esra’a–the Avaaz.org team

 

 

 

PS: A year ago, in one of the first Avaaz campaigns, we called together for Mugabe and his government to end their brutal attacks on opposition leaders. More than 45,000 people around the world took part. Now, there’s a hope for much more substantial change–a new hope for the 12 million Zimbabweans struggling with hyperinflation, starvation, and HIV/AIDS. Please do sign the petition, and forward this email to friends and family–they can sign at http://www.avaaz.org/en/democracy_for_zimbabwe/1.php?cl=72012816. 

ABOUT AVAAZ

Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.

 

Mugabe: Divide and Conquer Zimbabwe

Some people thought that I was crazy when I published my Blog: “Zimbabwe: A New Wave of Land Grabs?” yesterday. Quite frankly, even I was starting to doubt the Associated Press information I received…and wondering whether I was not becoming a sensationalist. Fortunately, it appears that I am still quite sane. The reports on land grabs were confirmed by the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7333918.stm)  just over an hour ago.

 

As I write this, there are goose bumps on my arms and heaviness in my heart.

 

Divide and Conquer

Mugabe’ traditional and unfailing modus operandi is to maintain his dominion by dividing the Zimbabwean population. He achieves this division by inciting hate between different races, ethnic groups, cultures and classes through classical means of disinformation. Disinformation is an easy objective for this dictator. He controls the printed and the broadcast media in the country, and does not hesitate to use these to fulfil his personal agenda.

 

The land grabs and the disinformation about the land grabs are collectively one of the tactics in a carefully constructed overarching strategy to regain his control over the prevailing Zimbabwean situation.

 

Mugabe’s current land grabbing tactic was executed as follows:

Violence: His militia (Green Bombers) was instructed to oust several white farmers in Masvingo, a province in the south of Zimbabwe. The latest count is the seizure of eight farms.  

Misinformation: He then (mis)informed the media via spokesman, Patrick Chinamasa, that Tsvangirai is “unleashing former white farmers on farms occupied by new farmers to reverse the land reform programme”. Mugabe was also personally quoted by the state-run Herald newspaper, as saying that: “Land must remain in our hands. The land is ours; it must not be allowed to slip back into the hands of whites. We cannot afford to retreat in the battle for land.”

 

Conquer by Force

Jabulani Sibanda, leader of the War Veteran’s Association (Green Bombers), which has been instrumental in the seizure of white owned farms since before the 2000 presidential elections, alleged on Friday that several farms have already been ‘confiscated’ from black farmers and restored to their previous white owners.

 

According to Sibanda the new black farmers were told to leave “or else face the wrath of an incoming MDC government’. He also told reporters that: “Those white people trespassing on the small-scale and medium-scale farms should know that it is an invasion of our country. We will defend our sovereignty. We will be compelled to repel that invasion.”

 

 

The Outlook

He may be old and he may be a raving lunatic, but Mugabe is both intelligent and cunning. This is exactly why he is such a dangerous man.

 

I expect pockets of violence to erupt as he orchestrates his latest offensive and executes on his latest strategy. I expect an increase in hate speech, which could see Zimbabweans turning on one another instead on him. I expect ‘Cleaning out the Filth’ operations in MDC strongholds, which will see many people – yet again – tortured, killed and homeless.

 

I expect all this, unless a miracle happens. Perhaps the miracle will come in the shape of a Zimbabwean High Court ruling favouring the MDC. Perhaps it will come in the form of South African intervention.

 

But then, perhaps is will never come at all.

 

Zimbabwe: A New Wave in Land Grabbing?

Harare, Zimbabwe: An hour ago, Associated Press reported that three white cattle farmers have been ejected from their land by some of Mugabe’s war veterans.  A fourth farmer is apparently still holding out against some 50 Zanu-PF militants, who are threatening to break through the gates of his farm.

 

The land grabs started yesterday and it is feared that it may herald the beginning of a new wave in land grabbing – similar to those faced by the already beleaguered Zimbabwean farmers in 2005.

 

On Friday, an increased presence of riot police in Harare, coupled with the ominous presence of the notorious Green Bombers, confirmed fears that Mugabe was preparing for a war on the people. The forced evictions could well be a part of the plan.

 

In its present state, the outcome of the presidential elections that took place a week and a day ago is estimated to substantially favour the MDC opposition. Mugabe is however preventing the release of the results and demanding a recount of the ballots cast. It is clear that he hopes to tweak the outcome to ensure that a presidential run-off takes place.

 

And, considering that Mugabe is adept at committing election fraud, there is no reason to believe that a run-off will not be the end result.  The run-up to the campaign will probably include the usually violent intimidation of the voting public. The incidences of land grabbing that is taking place now, could well be the first war cries of a new Mugabean terror campaign.