Saturday, March 17, 2007

Zimbabwe Update: President Mugabe Says West is Behind Opposition Violence

Go hang, President tells West

Herald News Editor

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday told Western countries criticising the Government for dealing with violent opposition MDC members to "go hang".

He said the West was condemning the Government for punishing perpetrators of violence but ignoring the violent acts of the opposition, which have left a trail of destruction and seriously injured policewomen and men.

"When they criticise Government when it tries to prevent violence and punish perpetrators of that violence, we take the position that they can go hang," said President Mugabe.

He was responding to questions from journalists at State House after holding talks with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

"This is the West, which has always supported the opposition here and elsewhere. We do not accept their criticism at all.

"Here are groups of persons who went out of their way to effect a campaign of violence.

"We hear no criticism of this campaign from Western governments. None of these (Western) missions here have said a word against that campaign of violence," said Cde Mugabe.

President Mugabe said he had briefed Mr Kikwete on the recent violent demonstrations by the MDC.

"Naturally, we take great exception to any support that has been given by foreigners or representatives of foreign countries to the political parties or opposition in the country," he said.

Cde Mugabe said the Government had no objections to charity or economic aid but when foreigners "indulge in our politics, we differ with them strongly".

The United States, the European Union and other Western countries this week issued statements condemning the treatment of opposition MDC members who were arrested on allegations of public violence.

But the West made no mention of the destruction and injuries the opposition inflicted during its orgy of violence which began on Sunday. Cde Mugabe said President Kikwete flew in to brief him about his visits to Europe and discuss Sadc and Zimbabwe.

Both Tanzania and Zimbabwe are members of Sadc while President Kikwete chairs the regional grouping’s organ on politics, defence and security.

Cde Mugabe said his Tanzanian counterpart was visiting as a brother and ally.

Mr Kikwete said he had briefed Cde Mugabe about his visit to Europe and the discussions that always crop up on the situation in Zimbabwe.

He said they discussed so many things and agreed on a number of issues but he preferred the talks to be a matter between him and President Mugabe.

President Kikwete flew into Harare in the morning and returned home late in the afternoon.

Deal decisively with security threat

By David Samuriwo
Opinion & Analysis
Zimbabwe Herald

ON Monday, I attended a Press conference at Harvest House addressed by Thokozani Khupe, the vice president of the MDC Tsvangirai faction.

A few Zimbabwean journalists, Western diplomats and mostly foreign stringers disguised as diplomats attended the Press conference.

According to Khupe, the "chilling reality was that the police were now using live ammunition on innocent unarmed people, as a result, a well-known MDC activist — Gift Tandare — became a victim of police heavy handedness" when he was gunned down near Mhizha Primary School in Highfield.

According to sources, Tandare, who was the MDC Tsvangirai Glen View district youth chairman and a member of the security committee, was the ringleader of the assailants. A few years ago, he was also implicated in the burning of a Zupco bus in Glen View.

Khupe’s version of events was totally different from what really transpired on that fateful Sunday afternoon, when a group of police officers, making their way towards Kutsanana Bar in Highfield, came under heavy attack from MDC youths.

The youths were pelting the officers with stones and also firing round metal bolts from catapults. Above all, they were armed with an assortment of teargas canisters which they threw at the police officers.

They were being ordered to advance and disarm the police officers. With my own ears, I heard the officers fire at least nineteen rounds of live ammunition, but this did not deter the youths who kept advancing towards the cornered policemen.

Left with no other choice, I saw one officer take aim and fire, Tandare fell down. The rest of the group immediately retreated and fled the scene.

Sensing danger, I drove home to Kuwadzana only to be confronted by another group of rowdy MDC youths who demanded that I ferry them to Kuwadzana Police Station in my Mazda B16 pick-up truck.

A neighbour who recognised me pleaded with the youth to let me go. They eventually did, but after breaking my front windscreen for no apparent reason.

I also saw a senior member of the MDC Tsvangirai faction, who is the former president of an income generating project that masqueraded as a political grouping, dolling out money to a group of about 100 MDC youths, part of the group that had damaged my car.

This group then made its way towards Kuwadzana Police Station where they threw teargas canisters. The police reacted by firing warning shots in the air and the attackers immediately dispersed.

This same group proceeded to the Kuwadzana/Bulawayo Roundabout where they stopped and overturned a commuter omnibus.

A few minutes later, another Kombi presumably from Botswana, judging from the luggage, was stopped and the occupants forced out. Their luggage was searched and anything of value looted.

The youths then doused the Kombi with petrol, and torched it, reducing it to a shell.

Six other private vehicles were stoned, while a Peugeot 404 was overturned.

It boggles the mind to fathom how a "small prayer" meeting ostensibly organised under the banner of non-violence, freedom of association and democracy could suddenly turn out to be an orgy of violence, looting and arson. The benefit of doubt could have been given if the violence took place in Highfield alone where the prayer meeting was supposed to be held.

That the violence simultaneously took place in different locations does not only suggest a well co-ordinated plan of civil disobedience, but points to well-planned acts of violence calculated to make the country ungovernable.

Sun Tzu, a Chinese military strategist who lived about 2 500 years ago, saying that "all warfare is based on deception" is still plausible to this day. His critics were also right. They said deception could only be successful if the enemy is unaware of that deception.

Khupe cannot fool everyone by stating that a prayer meeting does not require police clearance under the Public Order and Security Act.

Sunday’s orgy of violence and looting was definitely not a prayer meeting. The deception theory dismally failed here.

Khupe’s assertion that the MDC remains unwavering in its commitment to bring peaceful change flies in the face of events that occurred on that Sunday and subsequently.

According to Khupe, Morgan Tsvangirai and fellow faction leader Arthur Mutambara were arrested while on their way to attend a Save Zimbabwe prayer meeting organised by the Christian Alliance of Zimbabwe.

Perhaps it is prudent for Khupe and her sidekicks to re-strategise.

Except for fly-by-night journalists, local journalists are aware that the Christian Alliance, Save Zimbabwe Campaign, both factions of the MDC, Lovemore Madhuku’s NCA, Zinasu and a host of other such organisations are being fed from the same trough.

The American Embassy, through its Ambassador, Christopher Dell recently released funds to support the violent campaign.

Security forces have a duty to guard against any usurpation of the country’s Constitution. Paid demonstrators will remain just that. They can never be genuine because they lack conviction in whatever they demonstrate against.

In essence, they will remain hired hands. If at all, the MDC has the support it claims to have why does it resort to paying its supporters to take to the streets?

Last Sunday’s orgy of violence is a typical revelation how a country’s constitution can be manipulated by paid hooligans.

The dolling out of cash at Kuwadzana by a senior official of the MDC said it all.

The much publicised report by the International Crisis Group made very interesting revelations.

It calls for increased funding for training and other capacity building assistance to all democratic forces in Zimbabwe.

This has been going on for quite some time even before this announcement. Capacity building funds have seen the MDC establish a core group of violent youth militias they call Democratic Resistance Committees.

On Wednesday, a cell of the democratic resistance committees attacked a house, in military precision, at Marimba Police station seriously injuring three police officers.

American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, gleefully views all this violence as Government orchestrated yet it is precisely her government that is funding the MDC to foment anarchy in this country.

Constables Pretty Mushonga, Busani Moyo and Brenda Makamba are now at Parirenyatwa Hospital disfigured by the attack that can at best be described as a military style operation carried out by paid MDC thugs.

Also, in a military style attack, Nehanda Police post in Mkoba 16, Gweru was attacked with petrol bombs and teargas canisters almost at the same time as the attack at Marimba.

Zimbabwe’s neighbours must be told loud and clear that the violence Zimbabwe is currently experiencing is a direct result of enormous funding, especially from the American Embassy, to the so-called MDC DRCs.

As such, the Government will not fold its arms while these elements, akin to the then rebel Renamo, and Unita movements of Mozambique, and Angola terrorise the nation.

It is obvious that the consequences of such action are too ghastly to contemplate.

Already Gift Tandare has lost his life; Constables Moyo, and Mushonga, and to a certain extent Makamba seriously injured, and probably disfigured.

How many more innocent Zimbabwean lives are still to be lost through actions of foreign governments bent on imposing their will on Zimbabwe?

I had a belief a long time ago and do still believe that without outside interference Zimbabwe could have solved its problems many seasons ago. It is only concerted interference by the US government and its allies in the European Union that has worsened things.

The bottom line is, law enforcement agencies should respond to this national security threat in an appropriate and deterrent manner.

Any threats, intimidation or noise from powerful, guilty Western nations should be dismissed and ignored with the contempt they deserve.

Malcontents must be brought to book

Zimbabwe Herald

EDITOR — A gang of MDC Tsvangirai youths unleashed a reign of terror last Friday, grounding the ever busy Cameroon Street in downtown Harare to a temporary standstill.

I watched the street being turned into a virtual battle zone from the comfort of my office, rekindling memories of the 1998 ZCTU-led looting sprees in the capital, which left a trail of wanton destruction never witnessed before in this country.

The rampaging gang ransacked several shops leaving many observers at a loss of words. Ordinary bystanders were not spared from the onslaught as the youths grabbed any valuable within reach, snatching handbags and cellphones from bewildered pedestrians. A proprietor of one of the targeted shops who requested anonymity expressed disgust at the indiscriminate and rather puzzling attacks on private properties in the name of the quest for "democratic space".

"What political benefit is derived from looting my shop", he quipped, as he assessed the damage in his shop.

The attacks along Cameron Street had all the marks of a well co-ordinated syndicate.

The 40 or so youths wore T-shirts emblazoned with the inscription, "No to banning of political demonstrations", and were swiftly removed from the scene by a Land Rover truck.

In my opinion, the attack has in some way justified the police ban on all political rallies and demonstrations in Harare and Bulawayo. In what could be viewed as a contradiction in the Tsvangirai faction’s policy, the camp’s organising secretary Engineer Elias Mudzuri was recently quoted in the Press reiterating the faction’s resolve to pursue "non-violent" means of confronting the Government.

"We are engaging the Government as an opposition movement and we believe we are on the right side of the law", he said.

Personally, I do not agree with Mudzuri because of what I witnessed.

I hope Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena’s statement that the police would bring these malcontents to book will be fulfilled soon.

Edmore Hukuimwe.

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