Saturday, March 31, 2007

MECAWI Alert: Support Rev. Pinkney; Protest Pending Iran Bombing; Immigrant Rights; Puerto Rican Lecture

Political Alert From the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI)

1) Help Rev. Pinkney
2) Demonstrate the day after if the U.S. attacks Iran
3) April 1 Worker and Immigrant Rights event in Detroit
4) Meet, greet and hear Rafael Cancel Miranda (Puerto Rican national hero and former political prisoner in Detroit April 3.
– David Sole

1. Rev. Pinkney, a leader in the African American community of Benton Harbor, was framed up and convicted of “voter fraud” charges after he led a successful recall campaign against a City Council member of Benton Harbor (see info on case at . Your help is needed write a letter as described below and look for information about protests in the coming weeks.

Take action: Write a letter of support before May 2007

Rev. Pinkney's sentencing is May 14, 2007, at 1:30 p.m. Between now and then, all fair-minded individuals, particularly those who have had the privilege to meet Reverend Pinkney or follow his work, should write letters of support.

THEY SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO: The Honorable Alfred M. Butzbaugh, Berrien County Circuit Court, 811 Port Street, St. Joseph, Michigan, 49085-1187, regarding the case of People v. Reverend Edward Pinkney.

BUT THEY SHOULD BE SENT TO: Hugh M. Davis, Constitutional Litigation Associates, P.C., 450 West Fort Street, Suite 200, Detroit, Michigan, 48226. Phone: 313-961-2255; Fax: 313-961-5999; email:

The purpose of the letter is not to accuse the Judge, the Prosecutor or even the jury of being racist, but rather to point out how distressing and suspicious it is that an all white jury would sit in judgment of a black community activist, 50 years after the high point of the civil rights movement.

Also, emphasize the nature of Reverend Pinkney's work, how important it is that we have dissident voices in every community and that free speech must be protected. The letters should also indicate that, no matter what view one takes of the evidence against Pinkney, the worst that he did was innocently handle some ballots and become the victim of the testimony of some very shady characters, particularly including Brenda Fox.

Tell the Judge that prison is NOT the place for a person like Pinkney, but that he is needed in the community, whether one agrees with him or not. Tell the Judge that the prisons are already filled up with too many black men and are already too much of a drain on the state and local economies.

Tell the Judge that prison should be reserved for only dangerous and violent individuals who have to be removed from society. That is clearly not Reverend Pinkney.

Finally, everyone should personalize their letter and, if you have any
direct experience with Reverend Pinkney, describe it what he did, how he helped, what you saw and whether he got any personal gain out of it.

The last important issue is bond pending appeal. Pinkney's attorneys intend to push hard on the validity of the statute and on the denial of the jury challenge. Those efforts could take years. Let the Judge know that you believe that Reverend Pinkney should not be required to serve a sentence, even a short one, when these serious issues are still undecided on appeal.

Since it is the Judge himself whose decisions are being challenged, he should not presume the outcome by refusing Pinkney bond.

2. MECAWI has called for all anti-war activists and organizations to
demonstrate TDA (the day after) the U.S. attacks Iran – which is seeming more and more likely. In Detroit gather at Hart Plaza (Woodward Ave. at Jefferson Ave.) at 4:30 PM.

3. Latinos Unidos is holding an activity in Clark Park (Vernor Ave. and
Clark St.) at 2 PM on Sunday April 1 to build momentum for the May 1
national Great American Boycott II. Mass outreach will take place
throughout southwest Detroit.

4. Puerto Rican national hero and former political prisoner, Rafael
Cancel Miranda, will speak in Detroit at Wayne State University Law
School at 5 PM on Tuesday, April 3.

Detroit Youth Demand Respect For Elder Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts

Detroit youth demand respect for elder

Published Mar 29, 2007 12:14 AM
Reprinted From Workers World

On March 23 militant African-American youth silenced the lunchtime cash register at Epicurus Place. On Feb. 28, respected community elder and artist Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts was assaulted by an employee of this restaurant near Wayne State University in Detroit. Demonstrators are demanding a verbal apology to Ibn by the owners of the restaurant, a written apology, a televised public apology and training for the owners and staff so they can serve the community with respect and sensitivity.

According to the Pan African News Wire blog: , “For the past two weeks, a few of Ibn’s supporters have protested daily, urging people of conscience to boycott the restaurant. Ibn has filed a criminal complaint, which is currently in the hands of the Wayne County prosecutor. He has also initiated steps to file a civil lawsuit.

Detroit City Council members Kwame Kenyatta and JoAnn Watson and Wayne County Commission Chair Jewel Ware have expressed their support for Pitts in his struggle for justice.

“Ibn is 65-year-old artist who was recently honored as the Artist of the Year by the Metro Times Newspaper. He is a longtime activist, having been a member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the National Conference of Artists and numerous other organizations. He is a member of the Council of Elders of the African Community of Detroit. Pitts has traveled to the Canary Islands, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana.”

The boycott and demonstrations will continue until the community’s demands are met.

—Report and photos by Cheryl LaBash
Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Page printed from:

Community demands apology from Greek restaurant

Published 03/29/2007 | Main News

More than 100 Detroiters showed up March 23 in front of the Epicurus, a Greek restaurant on 111 W. Warren between Cass and Woodward, demanding an apology from the restaurant owners for an allege assault on Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts.

An accomplished Detroit artist and poet named recently named by Metro Times as artist of the year, Pitts is the brother of renowned criminal defense attorney Cornelius Pitts.

He said that on Feb. 28, an employee of Epicurus beat and dragged him out of the restaurant after he attempted to use the washroom.

“Just as I turned to relieve myself, the door was jerked open and I saw this angry man (approaching) me with his fists balled up. I put my head down and covered my face with my arms,” Pitts said. “He started hitting me and then grabbing me around my shoulders and dragged me out of the washroom into the restaurant area, calling me foul names and slinging me towards the door.”

The protesters marched in front of the restaurant for almost an hour, some urging customers to not patronize a business they claim disrespects senior citizens.

“The people are making a statement that the elderly in our community deserve respect,” said Sandra Flenoil-Simmons, an English professor at Wayne State University. “We cannot allow anyone to disrespect them.”

Dawud Muhammad, head of the Nation of Islam chapter in Detroit, urged the marchers to not only protest, but resort to creating something concrete in the community.

He said the incident involving Pitts is a lesson that the Black community should begin meaningful ventures.

“Take this as a beginning point. You’ve already beat the odds by being here,” Muhammad said. “Not only do you protest, also start doing something for self.”

Restaurant staffers said they would not comment on this story on the advice of their counsel.

Pitts, 65, said he plans to take his case to court.

Clara Zetkin: Lenin on the Emancipation of Women

Clara Zetkin: Lenin on the Women’s Question

From My Memorandum Book

The Emancipation of Women: From the Writings of V.I. Lenin;
Publisher: International Publishers;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan.

For the complete text log on to the following URL:

Comrade Lenin frequently spoke to me about the women’s question. Social equality for women was, of course, a principle needing no discussion for communists. It was in Lenin’s large study in the Kremlin in the autumn of 1920 that we had our first long conversation on the subject.

“We must create a powerful international women’s movement, on a clear theoretical basis”, Lenin began. “There is no good practice without Marxist theory, that is clear. The greatest clarity of principle is necessary for us communists in this question. There must be a sharp distinction between ourselves and all other Parties. Unfortunately, our Second World Congress did not deal with this question. It was brought forward, but no decision arrived at. The matter is still in commission, which should draw up a resolution, theses, directions. Up to the present, however, they haven’t got very far. You will have to help.”

I was already acquainted with what Lenin said and expressed my astonishment at the state of affairs. I was filled with enthusiasm about the work done by Russian women in the revolution and still being done by them in its defence and further development. And as for the position and activities of women comrades in the Bolshevik Party, that seemed to me a model Party. It alone formed an international communist women’s movement of useful, trained and experienced forces and a historical example.

Movement of Working Women

“That is right, that is all very true and fine”, said Lenin, with a quiet smile. “In Petrograd, here in Moscow, in other towns and industrial centres the women workers acted splendidly during the revolution. Without them we should not have been victorious. Or scarcely so. That is my opinion. How brave they were, how brave they still are! Think of all the suffering and deprivations they bore. And they are carrying on because they want freedom, want communism. Yes, our proletarian women are excellent class fighters. They deserve admiration and love. Besides, you must remember that even the ladies of the ‘constitutional democracy’ in Petrograd proved more courageous against us than did the junkers. That is true. We have in the Party reliable, capable and untiringly active women comrades. We can assign them to many important posts in the Soviet and Executive Committees, in the People’s Commissariats and public services of every kind. Many of them work day and night in the Party or among the masses of the proletariat, the peasants, the Red Army. That is of very great value to us. It is also important for women all over the world. It shows the capacity of women, the great value their work has in society. The first proletarian dictatorship is a real pioneer in establishing social equality for women. It is clearing away more prejudices than could volumes of feminist literature. But even with all that we still have no international communist women’s movement, and that we must have. We must start at once to create it. Without that the work of our International and of its Parties is not complete work, can never be complete. But our work for the revolution must be complete. Tell me how communist work is going on abroad.”

Lenin listened attentively, his body inclined forward slightly, following, without a trace of boredom, impatience or weariness, even incidental matters.

“Not bad, not at all bad”, said Lenin. “The energy, willingness and enthusiasm of women comrades, their courage and wisdom in times of illegality or semi-legality indicate good prospects for the development of our work. They are valuable factors in extending the Party and increasing its strength, in winning the masses and carrying on our activities. But what about the training and clarity of principle of these men and women comrades? It is of fundamental importance for work among the masses. It is of great influence on what closely concerns the masses, how they can be won, how made enthusiastic. I forget for the moment who said: ‘One must be enthusiastic to accomplish great things.’ We and the toilers of the whole world have really great things to accomplish. So what makes your comrades, the proletarian women of Germany, enthusiastic? What about their proletarian class-consciousness; are their interests, their activities concentrated on immediate political demands? What is the mainspring of their ideas?

“I have heard some peculiar things on this matter from Russian and German comrades. I must tell you. I was told that a talented woman communist in Hamburg is publishing a paper for prostitutes and that she wants to organise them for the revolutionary fight. Rosa acted and felt as a communist when in an article she championed the cause of the prostitutes who were imprisoned for any transgression of police regulations in carrying on their dreary trade. They are, unfortunately, doubly sacrificed by bourgeois society. First, by its accursed property system, and, secondly, by its accursed moral hypocrisy. That is obvious. Only he who is brutal or short-sighted can forget it. But still, that is not at all the same thing as considering prostitutes – how shall I put it? – to be a special revolutionary militant section, as organising them and publishing a factory paper for them. Aren’t there really any other working women in Germany to organise, for whom a paper can be issued, who must be drawn into your struggles? The other is only a diseased excrescence. It reminds me of the literary fashion of painting every prostitute as a sweet Madonna. The origin of that was healthy, too: social sympathy, rebellion against the virtuous hypocrisy of the respectable bourgeois. But the healthy part became corrupted and degenerate.

“Besides, the question of prostitutes will give rise to many serious problems here. Take them back to productive work, bring them into the social economy. That is what we must do. But it is difficult and a complicated task to carry out in the present conditions of our economic life and in all the prevailing circumstances. There you have one aspect of the women’s problem which, after the seizure of power by the proletariat, looms large before us and demands a practical solution. It will give us a great deal of work here in Soviet Russia. But to go back to your position in Germany. The Party must not in any circumstances calmly stand by and watch such mischievous conduct on the part of its members. It creates confusion and divides the forces. And you yourself, what have you done against it?”

Somalia Fighting Enters Second Day of Intensity; US-backed Military Helicopter Downed By Resistance

Heavy fighting continues for second day in volatile Somali capital

Mar 30, 2007, 8:51 GMT

Mogadishu - A barrage of shelling and gunfire continued in the coastal Somali capital on Friday, a day after Ethiopian-backed government troops scoured the city for insurgents using helicopters and tanks.

At least 30 people were killed on Thursday, Somali news agency Shabelle reported, in some of the fiercest fighting Mogadishu has seen since the transitional government seized the capital in late December.

The Ethiopian operation was meant to purge the city of militants - believed to be a combination of clan members and remnants of an Islamist group that ruled most of the country for six months.

Sounds of gunfire filled the air less than one week after the government and elders of the city's dominant Hawiye clan agreed to a ceasefire, which on Friday remained in tatters.

The government, attempting to assert its authority over the anarchic Horn of Africa country, has said it would try to pacify the capital before an April 16 EU-backed national reconciliation conference that is set to draw some 3,000 participants.

2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Ethiopian helicopter shot down by insurgents

Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 31, 2007

Insurgents shot an Ethiopian helicopter gunship out of the sky and mortar shells slammed into a hospital during the heaviest fighting in the Somali capital since the early 1990s, leaving corpses in the streets and wounding hundreds of civilians.

On Friday, an Associated Press reporter saw an anti-aircraft missile hit an Ethiopian helicopter that had been bombing insurgent positions.

"The helicopter looked like a ball of smoke and fire before crashing," said Mogadishu resident Ruqiya Shafi Muhyadin, who watched as the helicopter rolled over in the sky and went down near the airport.

Dr. Mohamed Dhere, who spoke to the AP by telephone from an underground room, said three mortar shells hit Alhayat Hospital, wounding a doctor and a staff member.

Troops mutilated, burned in denunciation of Somalia govt.

Mar. 27- Back in late December, with US military and intelligence assistance, Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia to oust the ruling Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) who for six months had brought order to the country for the first time in 16 years.

Without producing any evidence, the US had insisted the courts, who had wrested power from CIA-backed warlords, were linked to al-Qaida. Backed by heavy US airstrikes, the Ethiopian forces managed to depose the UIC and install a weak interim government.

Since then, a small contingent of African Union peacekeepers were deployed to Somalia to relieve the Ethiopian forces who are despised by most Somalis. If this past week's events are any indication, the US/Ethiopian plan would seem to be quickly unraveling.

Somali civilians and masked insurgents burned the bodies of four soldiers, kicked them, pelted them with rocks and dragged the bloodied and half-naked corpses through Mogadishu on Mar. 21. It was one of the most violent days since the overthrow of the relatively popular UIC.

At least 34 people were killed in several hours of heavy fighting in the Somali capital, including at least four government troops and two Ethiopian soldiers. Several dozen civilians were wounded.

The bodies of two government soldiers and two Ethiopian soldiers were then hauled like grotesque trophies through the streets, a ritualistic expression of hatred for an increasingly unpopular government and the neighboring country supporting it.

The fighting began when Somali and Ethiopian soldiers entered southern Mogadishu seeking to consolidate the government's control. But hundreds of masked gunmen were waiting, and shooting raged for hours.

An insurgent group known as the Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations, which is linked to the UIC, claimed it was the target of the government offensive but said its fighters repulsed the attack.

One masked man, Abdinasir Hussein, said he dragged a soldier's corpse behind his motorbike. He said he wanted to show that Somalis will defeat the "invaders," referring to the troops from neighboring Ethiopia that helped government forces defeat the Islamic militia.

"I'm happy to drag an Ethiopian soldier on the Mogadishu streets," Hussein said.

The US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, who also represents US interests in Somalia, condemned the bloodshed but said Washington believes things are better in Somalia.

"On balance we do feel that the situation in Somalia is moving forward in a generally positive way," Ranneberger told reporters in Nairobi, Kenya.

"The government should learn from today's defeat. Its soldiers were dragged through the streets," said Zainab Abdi, a mother of two children.

She urged the government to reach out to the leaders of the UIC, who are in hiding and promising to wage an Iraq-style insurgency.

"Otherwise, civilians will keep dying," Abdi said. "Who will the government rule if their people are killed every day?"

Ahmed Ali, a businessman who lives near the neighborhood where fighting broke out, said: "Today in Mogadishu, you cannot say a single word in support of the government. It's been three months now since the government gained control of Mogadishu, but since they arrived, they've been losing support of so many people."

The incident was the latest in weeks of persistent violence since the transitional government took hold, and a sign, some in the city said, of the growing popularity of an intractable insurgency on the streets of Mogadishu.

Besides the anti-government fighters, an angry crowd of civilians took part in mutilating the soldiers' bodies, Ali and other witnesses said.

Ali said women in his neighborhood have begun feeding breakfast and lunch to the insurgents, a group composed of fighters loyal to the UIC and militias belonging to sub-clans who say they feel disenfranchised by a government promising inclusion and reconciliation.

The next day, Somali intelligence officials ordered satellite television network Aljazeera to close its Mogadishu office. "Aljazeera has conveyed the wrong messages to the world," explained Information Minister Madobe Nunow Mohamed.

The following day, a cargo plane was shot down by a missile during takeoff after it delivered equipment and supplies for African Union peacekeepers. All 11 Belarusian crew members died.

A witness said the aircraft crashed in flames after one of its wings fell into the Indian Ocean.

On Mar. 27, the main road north from Mogadishu was closed by troops after two bombs exploded near an Ethiopian military base. A passing taxi-driver was killed after Ethiopian troops opened fire.

The UN estimates some 40,000 people have fled from Mogadishu since February.

Sources: Associated Press, BBC, Washington Post. Compiled by Eamon Martin (AGR) Photo courtesy

Friday, March 30, 2007

Zimbabwe News: SADC Calls For West To Lift Sanctions

Lift sanctions on Zim: Sadc

From Innocent Gore in DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania
Zimbabwe Herald

SADC yesterday stood firmly behind the Government and called for the lifting of sanctions imposed on the country by the West.

In a communiqué released at the end of a one-day extraordinary summit attended by 10 heads of state and government here, Sadc also appealed to the British government to honour its obligations and release funds to compensate former commercial farmers whose land was acquired for resettlement.

The summit "noted and appreciated the briefing by President Robert Mugabe on the current political developments in Zimbabwe".

"The Extraordinary Summit recalled that free, fair and democratic presidential elections were held in 2002 in Zimbabwe. The Extraordinary Summit reaffirmed its solidarity with the Government and people of Zimbabwe.

"The Extraordinary Summit reiterated the appeal to Britain to honour its compensation obligations with regard to land reform made at Lancaster House.

"The Extraordinary Summit appealed for the lifting of all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe," read the communiqué.

The Sadc heads mandated Sadc executive secretary Mr Tomaz Salamao to undertake a study on the economic situation in Zimbabwe and propose measures on how the regional bloc can assist the country to recover economically.

This is the first time that Sadc has collectively called for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe and come up with a proposal on how the effects of those sanctions on the country can be countered.

The sanctions against Zimbabwe by Britain and her allies follow a bilateral dispute between Harare and London after the country embarked on land reforms in 2000.

The British government of Mrs Margaret Thatcher promised to release funds for land reforms at the Lancaster House constitutional conference that culminated in Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 after a protracted armed struggle.

However, the Labour government of Mr Tony Blair has refused to honour that obligation and has instead mobilised its allies — the United States and some countries in the European Union — to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Sadc has previously made it clear that the problems in Zimbabwe are a result of a bilateral dispute with Britain, mainly arising from the land reform programme, but had not pronounced itself explicitly on the need to have the sanctions lifted.

The Government has said it will not compensate the former commercial farmers for the land because it does not have the money to do so, but that it will pay for the improvements on the land such as dams and other infrastructure.

On the political situation in the country, the summit mandated President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to continue to facilitate dialogue between the MDC and the Government and report back to the troika on Defence, Politics and Security on progress.

"The Extraordinary Summit also encouraged enhanced diplomatic contacts which will assist the resolution of the situation in Zimbabwe," read the communique.

The summit was held in the wake of a protracted media onslaught on Zimbabwe by the West, with the international media, particularly the BBC and CNN, speculating that President Mugabe had been "summoned" by Sadc leaders to be "dressed down" or "shown the exit".

But sources who attended the meeting’s closed-door session said President Mugabe briefed the leaders on the political situation in the country and the MDC terror campaign that has seen the opposition party petrol-bombing police stations in Harare, Chitungwiza, Gweru and Mutare.

Suspected MDC supporters also petrol-bombed a Bulawayo-bound passenger train and a supermarket in Warren Park.

Speaking to reporters on arrival at Harare International Airport, the President said the summit had also urged the MDC to desist from violence and to recognise him and his Government as he was legitimately re-elected by the people of Zimbabwe in 2002.

He said President Mbeki would talk to the opposition and see whether there is need for dialogue with them, but warned them against engaging in violence.

The summit also got briefings on the political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lesotho by the leaders of those countries, President Joseph Kabila and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili respectively.

The leaders resolved to render unconditional support to Mr Kabila’s government in its quest to restore law and order, maintaining peace and stability and spearheading national reconstruction.

It reaffirmed the sovereign right of the DRC to have a single national army and urged former Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba to integrate his remaining armed elements into the national army or to be demobilised. They also appealed to other armed groups in the DRC to do the same.

The summit reiterated that the rule of law in the DRC must be observed and respected by all parties in conformity with accepted international conventions. It expressed concern on the loss of lives and urged all parties to respect the sanctity of human life and the principles of human rights.

The summit also expressed support to the ongoing efforts for the economic reconstruction of the DRC.

On Lesotho, the summit agreed to send a Sadc delegation at ministerial level to assess the situation as requested by the opposition political parties who want the regional bloc to help in dealing with post-election tensions.

The other leaders who attended the summit were host President Jakaya Kikwete, President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Prime Minister Themba Dlamini of Swaziland and President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia. Botswana was represented by its Vice President, Mr Ian Khama, while Angola was represented by its Minister of External Affairs, Mr Joao Bernardo Miranda. Madagascar and Mauritius were represented by their ambassadors.

President Mugabe returned home last night and was met at Harare International Airport by Vice President Joice Mujuru, the Minister of State Security, Land Reform and Resettlement, Cde Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, service chiefs and senior Government officials.

‘Continue defending Pan-Africanism’

Herald Reporter

THERE is need to continue defending the values and ideals of Pan-Africanism as the continent still faces threats from imperialist forces, Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity Cde Nathan Shamuyarira has said.

Cde Shamuyarira yesterday said imperialist forces still had the desire to exploit Africa and its resources through modern and revised means that were different from direct colonialism and slavery.

He was officially launching the Zimbabwe Liberation Heritage Project, which seeks to promote, document and preserve the country’s history.

Cde Shamuyarira, who is the chairman of the trust, said the project would assist in uniting Zimbabwe with the region and the rest of the continent.

"The trust can assist in uniting us with other people in Sadc. It helps us to build a common culture with our friends in Sadc. We had similar experiences.

"We can also play a part in the broader African unity. We should continue to promote the Pan-African ideals.

"We still have the same enemies, who are the same people who took us into slavery, the same people who took us into colonialism.

"The only thing is that they no longer occupy or colonise our countries, but they still exploit in many ways," he said.

The Zimbabwe Liberation Heritage Project is part of the African Liberation Heritage Project, which is being run under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

It seeks to locate sites that should be preserved as sacred for giving inspiration and providing protection to freedom fighters during the liberation struggles.

It also seeks to document and record in writing and various forms of media and communication, the full account of the liberation struggles and establish a platform for further in-depth analysis of the past, present and the continuing revolution.

The project further seeks to explore types of media and communication used during the liberation struggles as well as identifying heroes, external partners and persons who played a role in the liberation era and create a comprehensive memorial directory for use by present and future generations.

Information and Publicity Minister Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who also presented a paper on the education during the liberation struggle, said such a project would help in inculcating values and history in the youths. He said the Government would fully back the project.

"We will support the project through my ministry as well as other organs of Government," Dr Ndlovu said.

Zanu-PF Politburo members Cdes Solomon Mujuru, Vitalis Zvinavashe and Dumiso Dabengwa, Media and Information Commission chairman Dr Tafataona Mahoso and Midlands State University Vice Chancellor Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe attended the launch.

The Anglican Archbishop for the Diocese of Harare, Right Reverend Nolbert Kunonga, the executive director of the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, Dr Godfrey Mahachi, and Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Sten Rylander were also present.

Mujuru hasn’t resigned: Government

Herald Reporter

THE Government yesterday dismissed propaganda reports in the Western media that Vice President Joice Mujuru has resigned and that things were falling apart in Zimbabwe.

The Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, said the reports should be dismissed with contempt.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare last night, Cde Ndlovu said the story was not only malicious and hurtful to Cde Mujuru, but also a complete falsehood which was the work of Zimbabwe’s political enemies who dream for such a development to happen.

"Yesterday (Wednesday), my ministry issued a statement announcing that in the absence of His Excellency President Robert Mugabe, who is in Tanzania attending an extraordinary summit of Sadc member states, Vice President Mujuru will act in his place.

"It does not make sense that someone who is supposed to have resigned from the Presidency is then invited back to act in the higher post," he said.

Cde Ndlovu said the Government condemned in the strongest terms these deliberate attempts to distort the truth about the unfolding events in Zimbabwe and mislead the world into believing that things were falling apart.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. The situation in Zimbabwe is normal and the violent disturbances stage-managed by the violent MDC which the country experienced in the past two weeks have been quelled by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the perpetrators of that violence are being accounted for and dangerous weapons confiscated," he said.

The minister said any suggestion that the situation was otherwise was a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts on the ground.

Cde Ndlovu said only on Wednesday, he had to deal with another lie that the British government had concocted in the House of Commons through junior foreign minister Ian McCartney alleging that President Mugabe’s daughter Bona was studying at the London School of Economics.

"Thankfully, the London School of Economics refuted McCartney’s claims, putting paid to the British lies," he said.

Similarly, he said, sections of the British media have been running away with another fabrication meant also to draw world attention on Zimbabwe for the wrong reasons.

"They are claiming that the extraordinary Sadc summit meeting in Dar es Salaam has been convened to pressurise President Robert Mugabe to retire at the end of his present term of office and not to seek re-election," he said.

Cde Ndlovu said a head of state of another country could not make a decision for another head of state to vacate office.

"We have a Sadc protocol of non-interference in the internal affairs of each other," he said.

For the record, he said, the Sadc leaders were meeting to brief each other about economic and security situations in their respective countries.

He said they had received briefs on the latest developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Said Cde Ndlovu: "Indeed, President Mugabe has briefed his colleagues on the quelled British-sponsored MDC violence in Harare and yesterday’s (Wednesday) police operations which led to the arrest of MDC officials and seizure of weapons for terrorist activities."

He said thanks to the vigilance of the police, their quick reaction and the public’s co-operation, the situation was under control.

The minister said the Government was putting in place measures to stop the suffering of the people because of price increases that were a direct effect of British-sponsored sanctions.

"Government will not allow the people to suffer," he said.

Cde Ndlovu said opportunities for investment and projects which people were taking advantage of herald bright prospects for the country as well as the discovery of diamonds in Marange.

The British, he said, cannot come and teach Zimbabwe about democracy.

He said in Zimbabwe, the ruling party welcomed opposition but it had to be a responsible opposition.

"I dismiss totally that Zimbabwe is a one-party state -- it is not. The opposition is in Parliament, we make laws together," he said.

Cde Ndlovu said the country did not want violence because Zimbabwe was liberated for it to prosper.

Minister urges women to organise themselves

Herald Reporter

THE Government is committed to empowering women but it is up to them to organise themselves to enable the State to assist them, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.

Addressing a conference of women in business in Harare yesterday, the Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Cde Oppah Muchinguri said the onus was on women to organise themselves and make it easy for the Government to help them.

The conference was a follow-up to the loans that were offered to various associations on International Women’s Day.

"Loans were offered to associations of women in the baking business, mining, agriculture and health so that problems of unavailability of capital to women in business are minimised," said Cde Muchinguri.

She said some women in business also needed skills and modern equipment to increase productivity and produce quality products, which are marketable even in foreign countries.

Cde Muchinguri also appealed to the Grain Marketing Board to provide cheap flour to community-based bakeries run by women to ensure against bread shortage.

GMB operations manager Mr Henry Mukombera assured the minister that the parastatal would do everything in its power to meet the flour requirements of small bakeries.

Chihuri blasts West for role in violence campaign

Herald Reporter

POLICE Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has blasted Western powers for masquerading as champions and custodians of democracy while they were behind the recent orgy of violence perpetrated on uniformed forces and the general populace to create civil disobedience in Zimbabwe.

Comm Chihuri made the remarks yesterday while briefing a contingent of nine policemen who returned on Wednesday from a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia.

"There are some political forces bent on trying to cause disorder in the country and engage in acts of terrorism in the name of democracy. It is simply the Western world in the midst of supporting and sustaining these acts of terrorism," Comm Chihuri said, departing from his prepared speech.

The move by the Western countries, he said, was calculated to cause civil disobedience and render the country ungovernable.

The country has over the past two weeks been hit by a spate of terror bombings allegedly perpetrated by the MDC’s so-called Democratic Resistance Committees, an underground group.

Police have since arrested 35 MDC activists and seized explosives and arms.

The top two suspects arrested were Ian Makone, the special advisor to faction leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, and last year’s losing MDC candidate for Chikomba constituency, Piniel Denga, at whose city flat police reportedly recovered large quantities of explosives and detonators.

Comm Chihuri vowed that the Zimbabwe Republic Police would not let the systematic use of violence as a means to coerce and intimidate the Government and society take root in the country.

"We will not allow terrorism in this country . . . We will not allow civil disobedience and this will never intimidate us. But we take the bull by the horns," he said.

He said the West had exposed its hypocrisy by openly supporting acts of terrorism that had left many people injured, among them members of the uniformed forces and innocent civilians.

"They should not go ahead and say they are peace-loving nations when, in fact, they are the ones sponsoring many wars in Africa and many people have been killed and injured and poverty is the order of the day in these countries," Comm Chihuri said.

He noted that Western countries supply malcontents and rebels with weapons so as to ignite civil wars in Africa that would give them leeway to divert national resources for their own gratification.

Comm Chihuri also mentioned the excitement in the nation following the recent discovery of diamonds in the Marange area of Manicaland and how Western countries were eager to capitalise on the development and would go to any length to get their hands on the precious stones.

"Let me assure them that this will never be allowed to happen here. We will thwart all the machinations," he said.

He condemned the attacks on the police force, saying they were meant to provoke a physical response from the force in a ploy to create scenes for beaming in the international media in a bid to confirm the imagined human rights abuses, lawlessness and lack of democracy in the country.

"The political machinations are tailor-made to court international sympathy and justify the continued receipt of undeserved donor funds by the willing perpetrators of thuggish activities," Comm Chihuri said.

He stated that lawlessness would never be allowed to prevail in the country and those behind violent acts should not cry foul when they face the full wrath of the law.

"Notwithstanding all the distractions, the ZRP will not renege on its constitutional mandate of protecting life, preserving peace, preventing crime, apprehending offenders and suppressing all forms of civil commotion or disturbances that may occur in any part of Zimbabwe. We will remain focused and resolute in discharging our duties," he said.

Comm Chihuri also outlined the ZRP’s strategic plan, Vision 2008, which complements the Government’s National Economic Development Priority Programme.

He apprised the contingent about the success of Operation Chikorokoza Chapera/Isitsheketsha Sesiphelile, saying the clampdown had managed to curb illegal gold mining as well as smuggling of the precious mineral.

Iran Under Threat From British Military Provocation

UK 'fails' to win Iran row support

Iran has "suspended" the release of sailor Faye Turney, blaming London's "wrong behaviour"

Britain has failed to win support from the UN Security Council for a strong statement to "deplore" Iran's detention of 15 British naval crew members.

Instead, after tense negotiations, the council agreed on a watered-down statement expressing "grave concern" and calling for an early resolution of the problem, including the Britons' release.

Britain had wanted the council to "deplore" Iran's detention of the Britons, call for their immediate release, and state that they were seized in Iraqi waters, but Russia led objections from several members.

Earlier, a Western diplomat quoted Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador, as telling the council that Moscow would "not be able to accept" the move.

Diplomats also reported that several Security Council members - including Russia, China, Indonesia and Qatar - said they had no way of independently ascertaining where the incident took place and were therefore wary of condemning it.

Britain says satellite data proves its 15 sailors and marines were seized last week in Iraqi waters.

Iran has shown video footage of the capture and charts it says make clear the capture took place in Iranian waters.

On trial

A senior Iranian official has said the sailors may be put on trial.

On Thursday, in a sign of support among EU members for the British position, the French foreign ministry summoned Iran's ambassador to demand the captured servicemen's swift release.

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, said he was disgusted by Iran's treatment of the prisoners.

"Obviously I felt the same way most people do, which is a sense of disgust that people would be used in that way," he told ITV news on Thursday.

"What I'm afraid we can't do is end up in negotiation over hostages. What we can't do is say there's some kind of quid pro quo or tit-for-tat that goes on.

"This is not a situation that can be resolved by anything other than the unconditional release of all our people."

Stilted English

Iran has shown the prisoners on television, and on Thursday distributed a second letter purportedly from the only female captive, Faye Turney, confessing to entering Iranian waters.

Both letters were in stilted English, with unusual phrases that linguistic experts said appeared to have been translated from Farsi into English.

"Unfortunately during the course of our mission we entered into Iranian waters. Even through our wrongdoing, they have still treated us well and humanely, which I am and always will be eternally grateful," Thursday's letter said.

It called for British forces to withdraw from Iraq.

Beckett's reaction

Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary, responded in a statement: "We have not seen this letter but we have grave concerns about the circumstances in which it was prepared and issued.

"This blatant attempt to use leading seaman Turney for propaganda purposes is outrageous and cruel."

Iran had said on Wednesday that it would free Turney soon. But on Thursday Alireza Afshar, the Iranian military commander, said her release had been "suspended".

"The wrong behaviour of those who live in London caused the suspension," he said, adding that Britain must apologise for entering Iran's waters and promise it would not happen again.

Turkish mediation

Meanwhile, Iranian state television reported that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, had urged Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, to allow Turkey access to the seized troops and to free Turney.

The channel said Ahmadinejad would consider the Turkish request.

The Iranian president also reportedly accused Britain of using propaganda in the case rather than trying to solve it through diplomatic channels.

Turkey maintains good relations with Iran and the West.

Separately, the US said on Thursday that two aircraft carrier groups were in the Gulf not to provoke Tehran but to reassure friendly governments in the area.

Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state, said in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "We are not there to provoke any military conflict."

Source: Al-Jazeera


Middle East
March 27, 2007
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

NEW YORK - Even though Security Council Resolution 1747 was passed this weekend to impose tougher new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, the mood at the United Nations was anything but celebratory.

The latest sanctions block Iranian arms exports and impose an international freeze on the assets of 28 people and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. The measures were adopted in a unanimous vote and give Iran another 60 days to comply with the UN's nuclear demands to stop uranium-enrichment activities or, most likely, face even harsher measures.

Yet with the council's South African president expressing "deep disappointment" about the disregard by the permanent five (the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China and Russia) plus Germany for a call for a 90-day time-out, and other non-permanent members criticizing the council's "selectivity", the vote was cast under a growing internal fissure at the UN.

This is a divide between the nations with nuclear weapons and developing nations in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The issue is further clouded by the Iranian seizure on Friday of 15 British sailors and British complaints of growing Iran-inspired attacks by Iraqi militants against their forces in southern Iraq.

The British ambassador to the UN praised the Security Council vote as a "unanimous and unambiguous signal" by the international community regarding the "unacceptable" Iranian path of proliferation. Yet even the self-congratulatory European diplomats had an air of unnatural circumspection about them - and not to mention duplicity as they went on to preach the need for Iran to respect its "non-proliferation obligations" under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

It was almost as if they had all been in another hall when several Third World representatives called for the need to respect the rights of all nations and questioned the perverse logic that weapons of mass destruction are safe in some hands and not in others. But in reality, no one, not even the US, can possibly ignore South Africa's warning that the Iran nuclear issue "affects the whole international community".

"Iran's behavior reminds me of the Japanese movie Kagemusha," a Third World delegate at the UN told this author. "It [the film] shows a warlord holding his ground against all odds and his troops putting up a gallant fight, and when they triumph, the warlord says 'a mountain doesn't move'."

Certainly, many Iranians and friends of Iran around the world hope so and wonder if they have seen the last of the Third World's caving in to the powers that be at the UN.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, addressing the council after its approval of Resolution 1747, repeatedly referred to the NAM's support of Iran's "inalienable rights" and expressed concern about double standards and hypocrisy with regard to his country.

Some good news as far as Iran is concerned is that the resolution deals with the issue of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. This was after much resistance by the US and Britain to Arab lobbying for its inclusion as a veiled reference to Israel's nuclear arms, which have hitherto gone unnoticed by the Security Council.

Calling the council's actions "illegal" and "without basis", Mottaki drew comparison to the council's disregard for Iran's rights when the country was invaded by Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in 1980. He pledged that just as Iran fought for its rights then, when Saddam occupied "38,000 square kilometers of Iranian territory" without an iota of condemnation by the Security Council, it would do the same now.

"This resolution by establishing sanctions is punishing a country that according to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] has never diverted its nuclear program ... with all its nuclear facilities under the monitoring of the IAEA's inspectors and their cameras," Mottaki said. He added that Iran has "fulfilled all its commitments to the IAEA and the NPT and demands nothing more than its inalienable rights under the NPT. Is there any better way to undermine an important multilateral instrument that deals directly with international peace and security? Isn't this action by the Security Council in and of itself a grave threat to international peace and security?"

Indeed, Iran announced on Sunday it was partially suspending cooperation with the IAEA. Gholam Hossein Elham, a government spokesman, was reported to have told state television that the suspension will last until Iran's nuclear case is referred back to the IAEA from the Security Council.

Sailors high and dry

There is now good reason to be concerned about possible military ramifications to the sanctions, given that Iran's capturing of the British sailors could be directly connected to London's leading role against Iran in the nuclear row. This raises the prospect of a long ordeal over the sailors, who Iran claims have "confessed" to transgressing into Iranian waters.

Already, a top Iranian lawmaker has supported the action by Iran's Revolutionary Guards in taking the sailors and hinted at lengthy legal proceedings, much to the chagrin of the British government, which has demanded their immediate release.

A political analyst close to the government told this author that Tehran may not release them until all the Iranian "hostages" in the United States' hands are free. Six diplomats and scores of others, deemed "agents" by the US, are in its custody. London's plans to extricate itself quietly from Iraq may now be in jeopardy.

From Iran's vantage, however, what matters is to drive home the point, expressed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei last week, that those who inflict pain on Iran will have to pay a price.

The escalating crisis may not, after all, develop into the kind of air campaign that the likes of US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh have been penning for some time. Rather, it is beginning to spiral in an entirely different direction that poses a serious threat to regional and international peace - that is, small skirmishes combined with proxy attacks, hostage-taking, intelligence war and the like, which can easily trigger bigger and deadlier showdowns.

Again, Iran insists that the nuclear dispute is "easily resolvable" through candid negotiation, and to that effect it has given an implicit nod to the so-called Swiss proposal that calls for "dry centrifuges", that is, putting enrichment on "hot standby" to give negotiation some breathing space.

Unfortunately, the US has given this and similar proposals the cold shoulder and is simply keen on piling up the pressure on Tehran to comply with its demand for a complete halt to its uranium-enrichment program and the construction of a heavy-water reactor in Arak.

But what if Iran frustrates the rosy expectations of the diplomats devising the US approach in this crisis? Is the US willing to risk a nightmare regional conflagration then?

Already, given the growing interlocking of the nuclear crisis and the Iraq crisis, the fate of the next multilateral security summit on Iraq scheduled for Turkey next month has been cast under a cloud of uncertainty, and it is fairly certain that things will grow worse instead of getting better any time soon.

Time might be running out on the United States' international coalition against Iran, in light of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's call for respecting Iran's right to produce nuclear fuel. Manmohan made this policy announcement in a recent meeting with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami.

In addition to India, Iran can now count on growing support from Indonesia, South Africa, many Latin American nations and, indeed, most of the developing world. With the bubble of "international consensus" with regard to Iran's supposed nuclear threat wearing thinner and thinner and about to burst, and with the indirect infusion of Israel into Security Council debates, as mentioned above, Iranian policymakers are not about to throw in the towel and resign themselves to the pressures of sanctions.

With a mixture of a hard-power approach in Iraq and the region on the one hand and soft-power diplomacy in the world community on the other, Tehran is betting on causing a sea-change in terms of sympathy for its stance against the hypocrisy of the nuclear-armed states that control the Security Council.

This is a high-price gambit that may backfire on Iran, as some claim it already has, with reports of Russian technicians leaving the Bushehr nuclear power plant they have been building in Iran unfinished. And many still believe that Iran needs to show a serious willingness to accommodate the anxieties of the international community over its nuclear program.

European diplomats addressing the Security Council this weekend uniformly reiterated the European Union's seriousness about the comprehensive offers of nuclear assistance submitted to Iran last June. Iran reacted somewhat favorably to that "international package of incentives" and should now re-examine the package and seek a formal answer to its response.
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and co-author of "Negotiating Iran's Nuclear Populism", Brown Journal of World Affairs, Volume XII, Issue 2, Summer 2005, with Mustafa Kibaroglu. He also wrote "Keeping Iran's nuclear potential latent", Harvard International Review, and is author of Iran's Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction.
Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Somalia Update: Fighting Intensifies Amid Continuing US-backed Occupation

Ethiopian offensive spurs deadly violence in Somali capital


Seven Ethiopian soldiers were killed on Thursday in Mogadishu, and two of their bodies dragged through the streets amid heavy fighting sparked by an Ethiopian offensive against insurgents.

Dozens of men and women pulled the bodies of two soldiers though the street, shouting "We will kill the Ethiopian troops", while five other bodies in Ethiopian uniforms lay on the ground in the southern district of Shirkole.

They were the first Ethiopian soldiers reported killed in Mogadishu since Somali-Ethiopian troops drove out Islamists from the capital three months ago.

The scenes echoed deadly violence last week, when angry crowds burned the bodies of two dead Somali soldiers and dragged another through the streets.

A Somali man scurries away as bodies of two Ethiopian soldiers lay on a street of Mogadishu during heavy fighting.

Loudspeakers on Thursday transmitted calls for residents to come out and fight the Ethiopian troops backing Somalia's interim government, after the Ethiopians launched a heavy offensive in tanks and helicopters.

As the fighting continued, an AFP correspondent witnessed a plane leaving Mogadishu airport with around a dozen wounded Ethiopian soldiers on board. The same plane had brought in around 60 Ethiopian soldiers on Thursday morning.

Ethiopian helicopters dropped deafening bombs and fired heavy machine gun fire in the first airborne attacks since the start of the year.

An AFP correspondent saw helicopters fire missiles near the Ethiopian forces' base in the former Somali defence ministry headquarters -- a common target for insurgent attacks.

A thick cloud of black smoke also rose up from fighting around Mogadishu stadium and helicopters fired rockets near the main Bakara market.

"The idea is to clear Mogadishu of gunmen," an Ethiopian diplomat in Somalia told AFP, requesting anonymity.

"The military operation will continue until all the objectives are fulfilled. We are urging the people of Mogadishu to stay at home, not to panic or join attacks against the Ethiopian troops," he said.

"The military operation will immediately cease when there are no gunmen and troublemakers in that part of Mogadishu," he added.

The fighting mainly took place in the south, but there were also attacks in Mogadishu's Ramadan district in the north of the city.

Five people died after being brought wounded into Medina hospital, out of a total of 130 injured there. In all 15 people, all civilians, were killed when caught in crossfire.

The fighting shattered a shaky six-day ceasefire with the powerful Hawiye clan, which has largely controlled the Somali capital since 1991.

A spokesman for the Hawiye told AFP on Thursday that they held Ethiopia and the Somali government responsible for the casualities.

"The government and Ethiopian forces started the fighting and they will take the responsibility of any casualty in this fighting," said Ahmed Diriye, a Hawiye elder.

As his troops fought in Mogadishu, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told parliament in Addis Ababa that he had withdrawn two-thirds of his forces from Somalia.

"As the situation in Somalia unravelled differently than expected, we had to withdraw troops gradually in two rounds. Hence, two-thirds of our troops have been withdrawn so far," Meles said in a speech to parliament.

"Our mission was to destroy the fundamentalist threat posed on us and we have succeeded in achieving this."

Islamists who ruled southern and central Somalia for six months from June last year had threatened to attack neighbouring Ethiopia.

But Meles said a second round of withdrawal had been delayed because the African Union's deployment of peacekeepers has not taken place "as desired."

AU troops plan to take over from Ethiopian forces to allow them to withdraw but have yet to make their mark in the volatile Somali capital as only 1,500 Ugandan troops have arrived so far.

The AU force is supposed to number 8000 but only 4000 have been committed. The Uganda troops are the only ones to have been deployed.

The government last week announced a crackdown on Islamist insurgent fighters in a bid to bring calm to the capital ahead of a national reconciliation conference set to start mid-April.

The United Nations said on Thursday that 57,000 people had fled Mogadishu since February, including 12,000 in the last week alone.

A bloody power struggle that followed the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre exploded into inter-clan warfare that has defied more than 14 attempts to restore a functional government in Somalia.

2007 AFP
29/03/2007 18:00:02 UST

Death and carnage in Somalia as rebels attacked

29 March 2007

MOGADISHU - Helicopters and tanks pounded rebel positions across Mogadishu on Thursday as allied Ethiopian and Somali troops launched a major push to end a bloody insurgency, with at least 11 civilians reported killed.

With scenes of carnage shocking even by Mogadishu standards, residents said the final death toll could be much higher.

“Patients are coming to us by the minute, it is too much,” one harried doctor at Madina hospital told Reuters by telephone.

“We have admitted 50 patients with weapon-related wounds, three died here, including a 10-year-old boy.”

Several Ethiopian helicopter gunships fired rockets, Reuters witnesses said, in the first use of aerial power in the capital during the last few months’ increasingly vicious fighting.

Government and Ethiopian forces are pitted against Islamists ousted from Mogadishu over the New Year and disgruntled clan militia who used to run the lawless coastal city.

Amid the chaos, one mortar crashed into a mosque, killing a baby boy there and beheading another teenage boy.

“My children sought refuge at a mosque when it was hit by a mortar shell. My son died and my daughter lost the toes on one of her feet,” local police officer Hashim Hussein told Reuters, his voice cracking with emotion.

Another mortar hit a fuel tank, witnesses said, sparking a huge blaze that engulfed a local watchman and truck owner.

Breaking a rocky ceasefire in place since the weekend, the Ethiopian and Somali government soldiers launched attacks from early morning on insurgents’ strongholds in the Ramadan area of north Mogadishu, around the main soccer stadium, and elsewhere.

“I have not seen anything like this,” said one terrified resident, Hussein Haji. “Whenever the Ethiopians fire their big guns, all my windows and doors are shaking.”

Truce over

Explosions and gunfire rattled around the streets from soon after dawn, sending locals running for cover in their homes.

“Early in the morning, the government troops and Ethiopians attacked us,” said one Islamist source involved in the fighting.

The local Shabelle broadcaster said at least 11 people, mainly civilians, had been killed on Thursday.

It also reported two tanks had been destroyed.

“The Ethiopian forces, who are now facing strong resistance, continue to shell,” it added. “Two helicopter gunships started bombardments in the rebel positions of the capital.”

Reuters journalists, trapped in their buildings by the fighting, saw helicopters firing and thick smoke rising as explosions and gunfire reverberated across the city.

The Ethiopians had brokered the truce at the weekend with Mogadishu’s dominant Hawiye clan after a week that saw at least two dozen people killed, dead soldiers dragged through streets and burnt, and a plane crash probably caused by a missile.

That fighting was the worst since the war to kick out the Islamists and install President Abdullahi Yusuf’s interim government in the capital.

His administration is the 14th attempt at restoring central rule since the 1991 ouster of a military dictator.

The African Union (AU) has sent 1,200 Ugandan troops to help pacify Somalia. But they have also been attacked in a nation that defied a UN-U.S. peacekeeping mission in the early 1990s.

Other African nations are baulking at sending further troops needed to boost the AU force to its planned strength of 8,000.

The United Nations said on Thursday that 57,000 people had fled Mogadishu since February, including 12,000 in the last week alone. “They are hungry and face harassment from thugs,” the UN refugee agency said in a statement.

Women's History Month: A Profile of Kathleen Cleaver--Educator, Writer, Lawyer and Activist

Kathleen Neal Cleaver

(1945-) Educator, writer, lawyer, activist

Although Kathleen Neal Cleaver first came to the attention of the public because of her relationship with Eldridge Cleaver and the Black Panther Party, she has many accomplishments outside of her relationship with Cleaver for which she is well known. She is widely viewed as a gifted lawyer and educator who speaks out ardently against racism. She is greatly in demand as a lecturer and has published numerous articles in newspapers and magazines.

Born on May 13, 1945, in Dallas, Texas, Cleaver was the first child of Ernest Neal and Juette Johnson Neal. Her father was at that time a sociology professor at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Her mother held a master's degree in mathematics. Shortly after Cleaver's birth, Ernest Neal accepted a position as director of the Rural Life Council of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. After six years teaching sociology and designing community development projects, Ernest Neal joined the Foreign Service and moved the family abroad. The Neals would spend the next years in such locations as India, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Philippines.

While her parents remained in West Africa, Cleaver returned to the United States and enrolled in the George School, a Quaker boarding school near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There she completed high school in 1963, graduating with honors. Cleaver began her college education at Oberlin College in Ohio and later transferred to prestigious Barnard College in New York. In 1966, she left college to work in the New York office of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Cleaver's January 1967 arrival at SNCC's Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters set off a series of life-altering events. As secretary of SNCC's campus program, she assisted in organizing a black student conference at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. One of the attendees at the March conference was the minister of information for the Black Panther Party (the Party), Eldridge Cleaver.

Eldridge Cleaver's intense oratory about black nationalism and revolution captivated Kathleen Neal Cleaver. Attracted by the Party's more radical approach to social change, she left SNCC and joined the Black Panther Party and Eldridge Cleaver in San Francisco in November 1967. The couple was married on December 27, 1967.

Speaks for Black Panther Party

Kathleen Neal Cleaver's impact on the Party was immediate. As the national communications secretary she became the first female member of the Party's decision-making body, the Central Committee. In that role, she served as the Party's spokesperson and press secretary, delivering speeches across the country. In 1968, she organized the national campaign to free the Party's jailed minister of defense, Huey Newton. In that same year she ran unsuccessfully for the California state assembly on the ticket of the Peace and Freedom party.

The Black Panther Party also impacted Kathleen Neal Cleaver's private life. On January 16, 1968, the eve of a scheduled Panther rally, the Cleavers' apartment was raided by the San Francisco Tactical Squad, who claimed to have been informed about a cache of guns and ammunition. On April 6 of that year, Eldridge Cleaver was wounded in a "shoot-out" between several Panthers and the San Francisco police; only one of the Panthers was armed.

As a result of the confrontation, Eldridge Cleaver was charged with parole violationsóhe had been on parole since November 1966 for a 1958 conviction for assault with intent to killóand scheduled to report to the parole board to be returned to prison on November 27, 1968.

Unwilling to face another term of incarceration, Cleaver left the country on November 26, leaving his wife behind, and arrived by a rather circuitous route in Cuba on Christmas day, 1968.

Eldridge Cleaver lived under guard in Havana, Cuba, for seven months waiting for Cuban authorities to fulfill promises to bring over his wife and other members of the Party. By summer 1969, a mutual distrust had developed between the Cubans and Cleaver.

Additionally, the press had discovered his whereabouts and sought interviews. The combined situations served as a catalyst for the Cubans to request that Kathleen and Eldridge Cleaver meet elsewhere.

The Cleavers were reunited in Algiers, Algeria, in July 1969. Their son, Maceo, named for the black Cuban general Antonio Maceo, was born on July 29. One year later, Kathleen gave birth to their second child, Jojuyounghi (Korean for young heroine), while the couple and other members of the Party were in North Korea.

After a disagreement between Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver during a live talk show on February 26, 1971 (Cleaver spoke long distance from Algiers), the International Branch of the Black Panther Party was expelled from the Party. The Cleavers and the former international members formed the Revolutionary People's Communication Network (the Network). Kathleen Neal Cleaver was again called on to use her public relations talents to promote the organization.

In the fall of 1971, Kathleen Neal Cleaver and the children returned to the United States to set up a headquarters for the new organization in New York. With the children in the care of her mother, she traveled the country explaining the position of the Network. She returned to Algiers in the spring of 1972.

The government of Algeria was becoming increasingly unhappy with Eldridge Cleaver and the Party remnant. Eldridge Cleaver had become disillusioned with the government's decision to give back money obtained by hijackers and with the move to align more closely with the United States. As relations cooled and financial support from the Algerian government, other countries, and individuals ceased, the group sought another location. Without a valid passport, Eldridge Cleaver had to leave Algiers secretly. His rendezvous with his wife took place in Paris, France, in January 1973.

While living underground in Paris, Eldridge Cleaver made several unsuccessful appeals for asylum. In the fall of 1973, Kathleen Neal Cleaver returned to the United States to try to arrange her husband's return as a parolee on bail and to raise a defense fund to cover legal fees. By 1974, the French government, under the direct influence of French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, granted legal residency to the Cleavers and the family was reunited in Paris.

During the year in Paris, Eldridge Cleaver became increasingly unhappy with his life as an expatriate and finally decided to return to the United States. On November 15, 1975, the Cleaver children were sent to Pasadena, California, to stay with their paternal grandmother. Eldridge Cleaver arrived in New York on November 18 and was immediately jailed.

Having stayed on in Paris to conclude matters, Kathleen Neal Cleaver returned to the United States in late 1975 and began to work full time on the Eldridge Cleaver Defense Fund. Eldridge was finally freed on bail on August 13, 1976. The family was reunited in Los Angeles on August 16.

Eldridge Cleaver's legal situation was finally settled in 1980 when he agreed to plead guilty to three counts of assault in return for having the charge of attempted murder dropped. Once her husband's legal problems were resolved, Kathleen Neal Cleaver returned to college. In August 1981, having received a full scholarship to Yale University, she moved the children to New Haven, Connecticut, leaving Eldridge in California. She graduated in 1983, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with a bachelor of arts degree in history.

Becomes Lawyer and Educator

In 1987, Kathleen Neal Cleaver divorced Eldridge Cleaver. After receiving her law degree in June 1988 from Yale Law School, she joined the New York City law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore. In 1991, she accepted a position as a law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1992, Cleaver joined the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where she teaches law.

Of her experiences with the Black Panther Party, Cleaver told the New York Times Magazine, "It was thrilling to be able to challenge the circumstances in which blacks were confined; to mobilize and raise consciousness, to change the way people saw themselves, blacks could express themselves."

Cleaver continues to have a very active life. As an advocate for the elimination of racism from our culture, she has published articles in magazines and newspapers since 1968 and is much in demand on the lecture circuit. She has also been featured in a number of film documentaries.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

International Working Women's Day--By V.I. Lenin

International Working Women's Day

By V.I. Lenin
March 4, 1921

The gist of Bolshevism and the Russian October Revolution is getting into politics the very people who were most oppressed under capitalism. They were downtrodden, cheated and robbed by the capitalists, both under the monarchy and in the bourgeois-democratic republics. So long as the land and the factories were privately owned this oppression and deceit and the plunder of the people’s labour by the capitalists were inevitable.

The essence of Bolshevism and the Soviet power is to expose the falsehood and mummery of bourgeois democracy, to abolish the private ownership of land and the factories and concentrate all state power in the hands of the working and exploited masses. They, these masses, get hold of politics, that is, of the business of building the new society. This is no easy task: the masses are downtrodden and oppressed by capitalism, but there is no other way—and there can be no other way—out of the wage-slavery and bondage of capitalism.

But you cannot draw the masses into politics without drawing in the women as well. For under capitalism the female half of the human race is doubly oppressed. The working woman and the peasant woman are oppressed by capital, but over and above that, even in the most democratic of the bourgeois republics, they remain, firstly, deprived of some rights because the law does not give them equality with men; and secondly—and this is the main thing—they remain in household bondage", they continue to be “household slaves", for they are overburdened with the drudgery of the most squalid, backbreaking and stultifying toil in the kitchen and the family household.

No party or revolution in the world has ever dreamed of striking so deep at the roots of the oppression and inequality of women as the Soviet, Bolshevik revolution is doing. Over here, in Soviet Russia, no trace is left of any inequality between men and women under the law. The Soviet power has eliminated all there was of the especially disgusting, base and hypocritical inequality in the laws on marriage and the family and inequality in respect of children.

This is only the first step in the liberation of woman. But none of the bourgeois republics, including the most democratic, has dared to take oven this first step. The reason is awe of “sacrosanct private property.

The second and most important step is the abolition of the private ownership of land and the factories. This and this alone opens up the way towards a complete and actual emancipation of woman, her liberation from “household bondage” through transition from petty individual housekeeping to large-scale socialised domestic services.

This transition is a difficult one, because it involves the remoulding of the most deep-rooted, inveterate, hidebound and rigid “order” (indecency and barbarity would be nearer the truth). But the transition has been started, the thing has been set in motion, we have taken the new path.

And so on this international working women’s day countless meetings of working women in all countries of the world will send greetings to Soviet Russia, which has been the first to tackle this unparalleled and incredibly hard but great task, a task that is universally great and truly liberatory. ‘[here will be bracing calls not to lose heart in face of the fierce and frequently savage bourgeois reaction. The “freer” or “more democratic” a bourgeois country is, the wilder the rampage of its gang of capitalists against the workers’ revolution, an example of this being the democratic republic of the United Slates of North America. But the mass of workers have already awakened. The dormant, somnolent and inert masses in America, Europe and even in backward Asia were finally roused by the imperialist war.

The ice has been broken in every corner of the world.

Nothing can stop the tide of the peoples’ liberation from the imperialist yoke and the liberation of working men and women from the yoke of capital. This cause is being carried forward by tens and hundreds of millions of working men and women in town and countryside. That is why this cause of labour’s freedom from the yoke, of capital will triumph all over the world.

March 4, 1921

(taken from the Marxists Internet Arrchive)

Emory Douglas' Weapon of Choice: Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party Profiled

The Black Panthers advocated armed struggle. Emory Douglas' weapon of choice? The pen.

Jessica Werner Zack, Special to The Chronicle
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In January 1967, the organizers of San Francisco's first annual Malcolm X Grassroots Memorial tapped Emory Douglas, a 22-year-old graphic arts student, to create the poster and flyers for the Hunter's Point event. As Douglas remembers it, "There was talk about some brothers coming over from Oakland to provide security for Betty Shabazz (Malcolm X's widow), and when they got there it was Huey Newton and Bobby Seale."

Douglas, a member of City College's Black Student Union who was designing props and sets for playwright LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), had heard rumors about Seale and Newton. The two friends from Merritt College had, just three months before, co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. "Huey and Bobby spoke," Douglas recalls, "and I knew then I wanted to be a part of what they were doing."

Douglas was soon named the party's minister of culture, a position he filled until the Black Panther newspaper ceased publication in 1979. Art directing every issue, he created a visual history of the party's ideology and agenda, designing hundreds of provocative original illustrations, photo collages and political posters, more than 200 of which are reproduced in the recently released Rizzoli book "Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas."

The Black Panther Party was a controversial offshoot of the civil rights and black nationalist movements. Douglas' involvement with the party began one April evening 40 years ago, when he paid his first visit to Eldridge Cleaver's Duboce Park apartment, the so-called Black House. Douglas found Seale working on the inaugural, typewritten and mimeographed issue of the Black Panther. Douglas offered his commercial typography and illustration skills (first acquired in a Chino prison print shop as a teen sentenced to juvenile detention for burglary) to make the weekly paper look as potent and persuasive as its message.

Interviewed before a packed book release party at Oakland's Eastside Cultural Center, Douglas says that "since the black community at that time weren't by and large readers," he "created an 'everyperson' look everyone could connect with." In effect, he branded the militant-chic Panther image decades before the concept became commonplace. He used the newspaper's popularity (circulation neared 400,000 at its peak in 1970) to incite the disenfranchised to action, portraying the poor with genuine empathy, not as victims but as outraged, unapologetic and ready for a fight.

Some of his most powerful drawings show people in stances of active armed resistance, men draped in bandoliers, women holding infants and toting rifles.

Douglas' art echoes expressionist elements of the African American artists he admires, Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett. His style -- drawing with thick black outlines and creating woodcut textures -- is also similar to the Chicano poster art of the '60s and '70s.

The images are full of anger and biting humor -- especially the many famous pig cartoons, iterations of the epithet the Panthers popularized for all embodiments of repressive authority. "It's important to remember the context" out of which the Panthers emerged, Douglas says.

The Summer of Love punctuated a volatile period when the United States was riven by assassinations, war protests and race riots. "There were a lot of young brothers and sisters being attacked and brutalized by the police." Young activists like Douglas found their calling in the Panthers' imperatives to "Seize the Time" and make "Revolution in Our Lifetime" a reality.

Quiet and with an easy sense of humor, Douglas exudes a surprising calm for a man whose confrontational artwork Baraka describes in an essay in the book as functioning "as if you were in the middle of a rumble and somebody tossed you a machine pistol."

"They are dangerous pictures, and they were meant to change the world," the book's editor, Los Angeles artist Sam Durant, writes in his introduction.

One 1967 editorial by Cleaver criticizing the NAACP was illustrated by Douglas' "bootlickers gallery," which imposed photos of Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders against a crude cartoon of a black man prostrate before then-President Lyndon Johnson's cowboy boots.

"Emory's pictures are actually a lot less terrifying than the news photos of the day," says Kathleen Cleaver (Eldridge Cleaver's ex-wife) formerly the Panthers' communications secretary and now a senior lecturer at Emory University Law School. "It's amazing that he was able to maintain his gentle artistic being through those risky, extreme times. Cities were on fire, people were being arrested by the droves and police brutality was the order of the day."

Durant (whose own sculptures and installations have explored Black Panther history), says he sees the book as a corrective to "the ways the party has been misrepresented and maligned in the mainstream press, and perhaps even misused in popular culture. ... At a time when the police were an occupying army in the black community, they took up arms to defend themselves, simple as that."

As the Panthers' agenda broadened to include social programs, Douglas' posters illustrated the impact of the party's community outreach: free breakfast programs for children, grocery giveaways, health clinics and sickle-cell anemia testing.

"A lot of people would say they could look at the artwork in the paper and see in which direction the party was headed," Douglas says. He modestly admits that "some people did start buying the paper specifically for the art."

Douglas lives in San Francisco's Excelsior district with his blind mother, and has continued to work as a graphic artist since the Black Panther Party's collapse in 1980. After a brief stint designing ads for Safeway ("That was definitely not my thing," he says), Douglas has been an illustrator and prepress manager for the Bayview/Hunter's Point Sun-Reporter newspaper since 1984. He is currently working on a "children's artwork series called 'Health is Wealth,' a dialogue between two kids about HIV/AIDS."

"My politics have evolved because politics always do," he says. "But I'm still concerned about the same things. I think people are drawn to my work right now because they see the same issues in it on the line today -- police brutality, education, housing. It's a different time but we have the same needs."

This article appeared on page E - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Zimbabwe News: Give President Mugabe A Break

Give Mugabe, Zimbabweans a break

27 Mar 2007
By Hillary Joseph

So, Robert Mugabe is the bad guy, the villain, the dictator, the demon, the nyang’au of all the African leaders. And so? He must go, they say. Mugabe is the problem in Zimbabwe.

The high inflation rate is caused by Mugabe, high unemployment rate is because of Mugabe, the deteriorating farm produce is traced to Mugabe, and the drought is caused by Mugabe.

So, Mugabe is killing his own people, he is killing the nation, the nation he fought so hard to build, and therefore he must go.

Indeed, this vile man must go. But wait a minute, who is saying all this? Who is this fellow or fellows demonising Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, calling him all sorts of foul names?

Is it the people of Zimbabwe? Is it Tsvangirai and his workers union centred in urban areas? Or is it the big brothers watching from the UK and America?

Yes, it is true that the people in Zimbabwe are suffering, just like many other people in poor African countries and elsewhere are suffering, perhaps a bit worse than in some countries.

Is it that Mugabe has been in office for too long a time? Or perhaps is it because there have been no ``free and fair`` (according to British and American standards) elections in Zimbabwe simply because the opposition, no, specifically because Tsvangirai did not win?

Oh!!! What happened to history? Why do the Western and other Press which demonise Mugabe refuse to acknowledge the historical facts which have pushed Mugabe to where he is now so unfairly cornered?

The British and the Americans who pretend to be incensed by Mugabe`s actions and pronouncements know very well that they are the cause of all the destruction in Zimbabwe, politically and economically.

Are we already forgetting how Zimbabweans suffered under the British rule? And the British rule includes the period of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) declared by Ian Smith. The UK had all the powers to contain Smith and crush the UDI. The UK refused to take action.

Civilized world cried foul but the British was adamant, perhaps understandably so, for how could they take action against their kith and kin? Rhodesians (not Zimbabweans) were white and the blacks had no room in white Rhodesia.

Of course there were some selected black Rhodesians like the Tsvangirai of the yesteryears, but they were there to serve specific purposes for the white, just like Tsvangirai of today is there to serve some specific purpose for the British.

Because that country `belonged` to Rhodesians, the blacks had to be kicked out from the fertile lands to the arid areas, the reserves, as they were called. There, they had to eke out their living.

But the white Rhodesians were not satisfied with kicking out the blacks from the fertile lands, they followed them to the dry lands and planted anthrax and other biological poisons in their cattle and the black man`s cattle died in their thousands. The soil was poisoned and could not produce anything. Zimbabweans died in their thousands also.

Not only that, but Smith did many unspeakable things to the Mugabes, and it was OK for the British. After all, the Mugabes were blacks.

Because the blacks were pushed to arid land, devoid of any reliable means of survival, they went back to toil for the whites, and that was what the whites wanted, cheap labour.

But the great patience of the blacks reached breaking point and snapped. They wanted their land back.

The British played dumb. Smith said ``over my dead body.`` The people of Zimbabwe resorted to the only other means available too them - spears, machetes, clubs and occasionally, a gun or two. And all hell broke loose.

The wrath of Smith and the British descended heavily with sophisticated weaponry on the poorly armed Zimbabweans fighting for their basic rights, their survival. Many Zimbabweans paid their ultimate price; many were maimed for life, physically and psychologically.

The gallant Zimbabweans did not give up, a much superior force against them notwithstanding. They had a cause, a noble cause, a much superior cause to fight for. They were fighting for survival. In some small way, the war was taking some toll on the Rhodesians too.

The British thought it was too much, more of their kith and kin were falling victim to the war. So they said enough and asked the Mugabes to sit together at the same table with Smith at Lancaster House in London. Zimbabweans were granted their deserved independence.

It was here that the seed of betrayal was sowed. The demands of the Zimbabweans were clearly spelt out there and the British agreed to finance the compensations of the settlers in Zimbabwe who would be required to relinquish some of their farms (not all) to the Zimbabwean government to be distributed to the landless.

The Mugabes were very considerate indeed, considering the circumstances. They agreed to give the settlers ten years grace period after which the British were supposed to start compensating them.

What happened? Not only did the British not fulfill their part of the bargain, but they also dung up what the Zimbabweans call the stooge, Tsvangirai and financed him instead, in the hope that Mugabe would be removed sooner and let the settlers stay.

Tsvangirai is now fighting for ``freedom.`` Freedom from Zimbabweans? Freedom from his own people? Where was he when true sons of Zimbabwe were in the bush fighting for freedom from the colonialists? Freedom from humiliation, and discrimination, and segregation, and torture and killings at the hands of Smith and his clique.

True sons of Zimbabwe who were not only beaten up, but were murdered by the Smith regime.

Tsvangirai has the temerity to shout at the man who gave him the voice to speak in public. Could he have made such noise to Smith? He was there, wasn`t he?

I do not want to tango with the church, but it gives me the nausea when I hear some Bishop is shouting on top of his voice that he would lead a protest march against Mugabe, and he is ready to die for that. Ready to die, indeed?

Where was the church when the Mugabes were persecuted by Smith, and by extension, the British? Was the Bishop too young then to understand what was going on in Zimbabwe?

I shudder to think that the Big Brothers in London and Washington are now turning to the clergy to sow seeds of discord among Zimbabweans, knowing the effect of this on the minds and hearts of the faithful.

God forbid.

And now, the British, the Americans and Australians want to use African leaders to put pressure on Mugabe. For what?

For the settlers to claim back the land they once grabbed from Zimbabweans? Do they want to go back to Rhodesia? No, thank you. And, please, give Mugabe and Zimbabwe a break.


MDC leaders must not mislead youths

By Reason Wafawarova
Zimbabwe Herald

THE fractious MDC’s hasty, ill conceived "defiance campaign" was nothing but a poorly disguised act of rebellious banditry vaingloriously paraded as a fight for democratic change.

The fact that the campaign was readily blessed by Western news agencies proved that the MDC is an anarchy-oriented party of mercenaries bent on furthering the Western agenda.

Without Western media sympathy and biased coverage, stripped of the propaganda against President Mugabe and the Government along with lies of alleged stuffing of ballot boxes, the MDC is an outfit of thugs, snivelling donor mongers, mercenaries, political opportunists led by a treacherous lapdog figurehead personified by Morgan Tsvangirai.

The deal between the MDC and the West is a simple one where the West’s traditional quest to occupy economic space in resource-filled less developed countries is to be pursued by ensuring that willing poodles whose official tag can be anything from moderate, democratic or even statesman are put into office.

The fact of the matter is that the leadership of the MDC is made up of hopeless pseudo-politicians with no acumen to assume national leadership by popular mandate. They would rather depose strong leaders through sponsored anarchy and ungovernability.

It never occurs to the MDC that countries with growing economies across the world hold elections in which the opposition is beaten, but it never works to destroy the achievements of political competitors.

Ironically, the best examples to illustrate this are in the same countries that backing the MDC financially and politically in its destructive campaign to destroy the economy.

Tsvangirai promised to violently remove President Mugabe way back in 1999.

He followed this statement with calls for sanctions that he even extended to South Africa.

While South Africa ignored Tsvangirai’s madness, the duplicitous West responded to the call; which in fact was their own call they had made by proxy through one of the most outstanding poodles to emerge in Southern Africa, a region where puppet politicking had been less successful for America and its allies.

Tsvangirai comes from the shoulders of villains like Moise Tshombe of the DRC, the reformed Alfonso Dhlakama of Mozambique, the slain Jonasi Savimbi of Angola and Zimbabwe’s own disgraced Bishop Abel Muzorewa.

Anyway, Tsvangirai’s desperation to please his sponsors saw him announcing an abortive mass stay away in 2002, followed by the final push rhetoric of 2003.

In 2004 and 2005, Zimbabwe was spared Tsvangirai’s nonsense as he redirected his thuggery at perceived enemies within his own party.

Then his "A-team" of hoodlums took its "struggle" to the doorstep of the likes of Peter Guhu, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, and Timothy Mubhawu who are really lucky to be alive today, according to David Coltart’s version of the events.

Tsvangirai’s banditry reached its peak on October 12 2005 when the MDC split needless to say the West was less than amused to see their snake biting itself instead of the heel of their nemesis, Zanu-PF.

After a year of embarrassment and humiliation, the West directed US ambassador Christopher Dell to work with Britain’s Andrew Pocock, who read the riot act to Tsvangiari and his cohorts.

It is now common knowledge that Dell ordered all the Western-funded feuding parties to unite and revive the anti-Zimbabwe banditry before both Tony Blair and George W. Bush leave office without President Mugabe as a trophy.

It was not difficult to get Lovemore Madhuku’s NCA to comply, neither was it hard to get Tsvangirai’s acquiescence along with the support-less Arthur Mutambara.

These are mercenaries who understand the language of money the way angels are said to understand spiritual tongues and so Dell cajoled them with a package of financial incentive and veiled threats.

Some uncouth church leaders were blasphemously roped in to manage the union of convenience and the barbaric war against the police was launched.

The police naturally refused to be fodder for the perennial losers. They stood their ground so resolutely that the West found itself on the back foot, calling for reinforcement by way of severe sanctions, whatever that means; in addition to hopelessly hunting for elusive support from South Africa and other African states.

Everyone, even sporting teams, is being coerced to reinforce the weak coalition of the feuding opposition factions in order to realise Dell’s dream of doing a Milosevic in Zimbabwe.

The MDC’s rebellious thuggery and wanton destructive conduct cannot pass for a struggle for democracy, let alone freedom as touted by the parties opposition media mouthpieces.

Theirs is plain criminal behaviour as exemplified by the MDC’s dead "heroes" among them Learnmore Judah Jongwe and Gift Tandare.

The MDC’s decision to rope in a handful of pliant clergymen, misguided students, and confused trade unionists into its campaign does not make the crusade noble or democratic.

The MDC’s resolve assault police officers for purposes of defying the rule of law and the authority of a constitutionally elected government can never be seen as anything other than wanton banditry.

Zimbabweans fought for the one-man one-vote political system that was denied people by the forces sponsoring violence in the country. The recipients of filthy Western lucre have shown no willingness to promote democracy through elections that they selectively respect when results go their way, but condemn when they lose.

To this end, they believe only their 41 members in the House of Assembly and seven Senators are bona fide elected politicians while everyone else, including Jonathan Moyo, is an illegitimate product of rigging.

Why do those in the MDC, who pass themselves off as democrats, comfortable with the prospect of power without mandate?

The MDC and its handlers must be reminded in no uncertain terms that the route to power in Zimbabwe is through the ballot box not via induced anarchy or the suffering of the people.

Instead of plotting clandestine attacks on police officers, MDC leaders must come up with tangible policies on how best to arrest inflation, increase production and create black-owned wealth.

Zimbabwe does not need street terrorism; it needs a battle of minds competing for the betterment of the country.

Most importantly, MDC leaders must not mislead youths into mistaking anarchists for heroes and we need to share one history and one heritage just like other nations, among them settler colonies like the USA.

Confusion reigns in MDC camps

Harare Bureau

THE decision to lift the temporary ban on political rallies and demonstrations by the Officer Commanding Chitungwiza Police, Chief Superintendent Alex Chagwedera, has thrown the MDC into confusion with the Mutambara faction “cancelling” a rally it had pencilled in for St Mary’s Huruyadzo Shopping Centre at the last minute.

This comes in the wake of the Tsvangirai faction’s poorly attended rally held at Chiwaridzo shops in Bindura where Engineer Elias Mudzuri was jeered by onlookers as he addressed about 20 people believed to be the party’s office bearers in the town.

In a statement announcing the cancellation, the Mutambara faction’s deputy secretarygeneral, Ms Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, accused the Government of trying to divide the opposition by sanctioning the rally.

“The seriousness of Zanu-PF in allowing our rally to proceed at the eleventh hour is criminal and typical of a regime bent on fomenting disunity among Zimbabweans … The MDC Defiance campaign will continue unabated of a divided opposition grateful to receive mercies from an illegitimate regime.

“'We will not allow Zanu-PF to set the agenda in Zimbabwe. We will not allow ZanuPF to divide and rule the opposition,” she charged.

Though her camp says it does not recognise the rival Tsvangirai faction, Ms Misiharabwi-Mushonga surprisingly said the cancellation was a gesture of solidarity with the rival group.

“If Zanu-PF, which has no moral authority to do so, denies Morgan Tsvangirai the right to hold a rally Arthur Mutambara will never accept to proceed with such a rally. Equally so, if Arthur Mutambara is denied the right to hold a rally then Morgan Tsvangirai should never agree to accept the dishonest gestures of Zanu-PF.”

Efforts to get comments from the Tsvangirai faction were fruitless.

The MP for St Mary’s, Mr Job Sikhala stormed The Herald newsroom yesterday holding a letter dated 21 March and signed by Officer Commanding Chitungwiza District, Chief Supt Chagwedera denying him permission to hold the rally.

The letter, however, clearly stated that police would constantly review the situation and advise him of any developments ahead of the rally.

On Saturday, Police Chitungwiza announced that Mr Sikhala could proceed with the rally, which announcement was carried on television and all radio stations.

Mr Sikhala insisted that he needed written communication.

He was, however, evasive as to why he had become a stickler for the law, when only two weeks ago, he was ready to break it by attending an unsanctioned rally at Zimbabwe Grounds claiming that was a prayer meeting.

Since the ban on political rallies and demonstrations were effected last month, the MDC factions accused the Government of “closing democratic” space, and filed various court challenges to have the bans revoked.

This is why the refusal by the Mutambara camp to proceed with a sanctioned rally came as a surprise to many people.

Observers, however, say the cancellation of the rally puts into perspective the opposition’s “defiance campaign” as a crusade of destabilisation and not a quest for democracy.

Police intensify probe into train bombing

Chronicle Reporter

POLICE said yesterday investigations into the petrol bombing of a Harare-Bulawayo passenger train at the weekend had intensified.

Chief police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said a manhunt was underway to arrest the hooligans.

“We are carrying out investigations on the train bombing and we hope to close in on the suspects soon,” he said.

Asst Comm Bvudzijena said no arrest had been made so far but maintained that police would fight such violent tendencies.

He warned that law enforcement agents would deal with unruly elements without fear or favour.

The attack was believed to have been politically motivated.

More than 750 people are lucky to be alive after unknown assailants petrolbombed a Bulawayo bound train in Harare’s Mufakose suburb on Friday night.

A twomonth pregnant woman suffered a miscarriage while four other people including the train driver, were injured in the stampede that followed the attack.

Friday’s attack was the third in as many weeks. Two weeks ago, three police officers sustained serious burns when Marimba police station in Mufakose was petrol bombed. Sakubva police station in Mutare was also petrol bombed damaging dockets and property in the process.

President Mugabe has also condemned the orgy of violence and was last week backed by Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.

The church organisations called for an end to acts of violence.