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Posted on on May 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Defiant Mugabe threatens to expel US ambassador: “I’ll kick him out of the country.”

By Cris Chinaka, for the Independent of London, as per Reuters.
Monday, May 26, 2008

Robert Mugabe: ‘I’ll kick him out of the country’ – this about the US Ambassador.

The Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, accused the United States of political interference and threatened to expel its ambassador yesterday, as his party, Zanu-PF, began its campaign for next month’s election run-off.

Mr Mugabe also said the US State Department’s top diplomat for Africa had behaved like “a prostitute” by suggesting that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had won the elections on 29 March.

Mr Mugabe’s attacks on the American Ambassador, James McGee, and Assistant Secretary of State, Jendayi Frazer, signalled the start of his campaign for the run-off on 27 June against Mr Tsvangirai, who won the first round but fell short of an absolute majority.

“He [Mr McGee] says he fought in Vietnam, but fighting in Vietnam does not give him the right to interfere in our domestic affairs. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out,” Mr Mugabe said at a campaign rally. “As tall as he is, if he continues to do that, I will kick him out of the country.”

Of Ms Frazer, he said: “You saw this little American girl trotting around like a prostitute celebrating that the MDC had won. A disgraceful act.”

Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since the end of white rule in 1980, routinely accuses the US and Britain of backing the MDC to punish him for seizing thousands of white-owned farms since 2000. He told supporters in Harare that the Western allies wanted to control Zimbabwe’s resources.

He also promised land to Zimbabweans who returned from South Africa. Some 3.5 million people have fled the country to escape poverty in an economy where inflation is more than 165,000 per cent; four in five adults have no job; and food and fuel are in desperately short supply.

Tsvangirai returns and calls on Mugabe to “set the people free:” Zimbabwe’s opposition leader tells the President that attacking his supporters will not stop them voting.

By Angus Shaw in Harare
Sunday, 25 May 2008

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader and presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, returned home quietly yesterday after an absence of more than a month, stopping first to visit supporters in hospital who were targeted in an onslaught of state-sponsored violence. He then called on President Robert Mugabe to “set his people free”.

Mr Tsvangirai left six weeks ago to warn the world about impending violence. He first tried to return last weekend, but called that off after his party said he was the target of a military assassination plot. The former union leader has survived at least three assassination attempts.

Last week, a meeting of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Harare and a rally had been planned for his return. In the end, he came back in typically low-key style, speeding off in a three-car convoy to a Harare hospital where victims of political violence were being treated. “I return home to Zimbabwe with a sad heart,” he said afterwards. “I have met and listened to the stories of the innocent people targeted by a regime seemingly desperate to cling to power.”

Mr Tsvangirai faces a presidential run-off against Mr Mugabe on 27 June. Independent human rights groups say opposition supporters have been beaten and killed by ruling party thugs to ensure the 84-year-old President, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, wins the second round. He trailed the MDC leader in the first round on 29 March.

“Mugabe once led our people to freedom,” Mr Tsvangirai said. “He can now set his people free from poverty, hunger and fear” by stepping down.

The violence poses questions about whether the run-off can be free and fair, but the opposition candidate did not expect his supporters to stay away from the polls. “If Mugabe thinks he has beaten people into submission, he will have a rude shock on the 27th,” he said.

Mr Tsvangirai said farewell to his family in Johannesburg, and said it was not clear when his wife and six children would join him. Among the assassination attempts the 56-year-old has survived was one in 1997 by unidentified assailants who tried to throw him from a 10th-floor window. Last year, he was brutally assaulted by police at a “prayer rally”, and images seen around the world of his bruised and swollen face came to symbolise the plight of the opposition in Zimbabwe.

When Mr Tsvangirai left Zimbabwe early in April, he said he wanted to present regional leaders with information that Mr Mugabe planned attacks on the opposition. He then embarked on an international tour to rally support for democracy in his country. “I’m sure that we have managed to ensure an African consensus about the crisis in Zimbabwe,” he said yesterday, adding it was now time to turn his attention to rallying his supporters at home.

Since the first round of voting, 42 of his party’s “most dedicated, brightest and strongest” supporters and activists had been killed.

The MDC leader says he won the first round outright, and that official results released on 2 May, showing a run-off was necessary, were fraudulent. Asked whether he thought Mr Mugabe would be any more likely to step down in June than he was in March, Mr Tsvangirai said the run-off result would be “definitive”.

Saying that he was looking ahead to the difficult task of healing a nation “traumatised” by political violence, Mr Tsvangirai called on Zimbabweans who have fled political and economic collapse to return. At least four million Zimbabweans are abroad, most in South Africa, where they have been among the main targets in a deadly wave of anti-foreigner violence. This could also be blamed on Mr Mugabe, he said yesterday, adding: “Our crisis in this country is impacting on [neighbours’] economies and societies. The entire… region awaits a new Zimbabwe.”


Mbeki says South Africa ‘disgraced’ by xenophobic riots as death toll rises to 50.
By Ian Evans in Cape Town
Monday, 26 May 2008

President Thabo Mbeki admitted last night that South Africa had been “disgraced” by the wave of anti-foreigner violence which has convulsed the nation.

Facing intense criticism over his government’s ineffectual handling of the attacks, Mr Mbeki said in a televised address that South Africans’ heads were “bowed” and reminded his countrymen that their economy rested on the work of migrants from across Africa.

His intervention came as police raised the official death toll from the spree of violence from 43 to 50 and said that 35,000 people had been left homeless in the fortnight since armed gangs in the squatter camps and informal settlements in the main urban centres of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town began killing, raping, beating, stabbing and burning nationals from other African countries.

Mr Mbeki has come under fire for travelling to Tanzania for an African Union summit on Wednesday and for waiting until the same day before ordering the army on to the streets to help the police. He has also been criticised for being too out of touch to realise that the violence was in part fuelled by the lack of adequate housing and jobs for the poorest South Africans.

A front-page editorial in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper said: “Throughout the crisis, arguably the most grave, dark and repulsive moment in the life of our young nation, Mbeki has demonstrated that he no longer has the heart to lead.”

Moeltsi Mbeki, of the South African Institute of International Affairs, who is Thabo Mbeki’s brother, said the government had lost credibility.

“Even a strong statement by somebody who has such weak authority will not convince the people. This crisis is the result of the failure of their foreign policy against Zimbabwe and they don’t want to admit that,” he said.

The Johannesburg area has borne the brunt of the trouble and most of the deaths, but seven of the nine South African provinces have reported attacks against immigrants.

Thousands of refugees and economic migrants from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and other countries are making their escape from South Africa from bus and train stations in the transport hub of Johannesburg. But even there, armed police are guarding them from marauding gangs armed with axes and knives.

Mozambique said yesterday that 20,000 of its nationals had fled South Africa, a reverse influx which has prompted authorities there to declare a national state of emergency.

In South Africa, makeshift tented refuges have sprung up in the big urban centres to take in some of those fleeing their attackers. In Cape Town alone, 10,000 people have been displaced. Some refugees have been put up at police stations, community halls and churches, also with armed police protection, but voluntary groups complained yesterday that they, rather than the authorities, were bearing a disproportionate burden of the humanitarian relief and emergency response.

On Saturday, 400 people arrived at a Cape Town race track looking for a place to shelter after a nearby settlement was targeted. Hundreds of Zimbabweans and Somalis chased from Cape Town into the surrounding Cape Peninsula have been put up in giant marquees on a beach on the Atlantic coastline. Volunteers and local government workers have been providing blankets, clothing and food to the community at Soetwater, which police claim is too remote for local South Africans to attack.

The violence has been waged by poor South Africans who claim the refugee population, which some estimate to be as high as five million, take their jobs and dwellings and commit crime. However, police and politicians say there is also a significant element of thuggery and criminality with shops and homes looted for personal gain.

Jacob Zuma, the ANC leader and the man tipped to succeed Mr Mbeki as president, visited townships around Johannesburg yesterday. He told a rally of some 5,000 people in Johannesburg yesterday: “Fighting won’t solve your problems but will instead exacerbate them and they will therefore remain unsolved. Peace should prevail and we must engage each other on whatever issues there might be.”

On Saturday, 2,000 people marched in central Johannesburg to protest against xenophobia. Risking violence themselves, the crowd held aloft posters saying “xenophobia hurts like apartheid” and “we are all Zimbabweans”.

The president of the United Democratic Movement party, Bantu Holomisa, said yesterday that Mr Mbeki’s inquiry into the outbreak of violence needed to reveal whether a so-called “third force” was responsible for stoking the crisis. He said: “The key here would be to remove any kind of suspicion that this thing was unleashed deliberately and orchestrated by whoever. Ministers are already telling us there is a third force. Let them bring that evidence to the commission.”


The Independent Leading article: Lessons for Mbeki.
Memorial Day in the US, Monday, 26 May 2008.

There is a terrible irony in the recent tragic events that have gripped parts of South Africa, where township residents have been turning on economic migrants, killing some and driving away thousands of others.

It lies in the fact that Thabo Mbeki’s government has bent over backwards to remain onside with the Mugabe regime in Harare, downplaying its criminal folly and blunting initiatives to rid Zimbabwe of its dictator. South Africa is now suffering the consequences of Mbeki’s policy, as Zimbabwe’s misery ripples outwards to encompass its neighbours and as millions of Zimbabweans flee their country in search of jobs and livelihoods.

Of course, there are other elements to this grim saga, starting with the inexcusable xenophobia of the men behind the violence. It is notable that not all the incomers who have borne the brunt of these thuggish attacks have been Zimbabweans. But the huge number of Zimbabwean migrants present in South Africa, estimated to be at least 3 million, is a factor in the bloodshed, placing enormous strain on the bonds holding the townships together and adding to the competition for resources.

And when the question is asked, as it should be, about why so many Zimbabweans have left their country for its neighbour, part of the answer is that the Mugabe regime remains in power, and is busy completing the ruin of Africa’s former breadbasket, with the South African president’s apparent complicity.

Loath to bow to the former colonial powers, Mbeki has shielded Zimbabwe’s venal and selfish old leader from criticism, blind to the consequences. Now that the wretched condition of Mugabe’s dissolving state has been brought to his door, one must hope the president sees this as a reminder of the need for South Africa to play a more constructive role in helping its once flourishing neighbour get back on its feet.

It is especially urgent that South Africa changes its tune on Zimbabwe now, as Mugabe heads into a run-off presidential election with his nearest rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change returned to Zimbabwe for the campaign yesterday.

Arguably, this election should not be taking place; because Tsvangirai appeared to win the first round. But we are where we are. As Zimbabwe prepares to vote a second time, Mbeki must stop making excuses for his ally and start expediting rather than blocking change in Harare. If he does not, the impact of Zimbabwe’s collapse will continue to have repercussions for South Africa, and we may see more shameful scenes in South Africa’s already fragile, hard-pressed townships.

At we saw all of this coming when we watched that May 2007 Friday night, in Room #4 of the UN New York Headquarter’s Basement how South Africa led the Africans to self-immolation and the tearing down of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development by fighting for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe to take over the CSD Chairmanship for one year.

Now that year is over. The CSD is still in the pits, Mugabe is on the roll – but South Africa is in deep …. and my friends tell me that it will only get worth. They did not like what Thabo Mbeki did to it, and say that Zuma will be worse. They even told me that the Soviet Union under Stalin will be the model for next phase of the SA – that will still be led by this intermediate generation that did not study leadership through the academy of Robin Island – but still is not led by people that are true Nationalists. The problem is called corruption.

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