Tag Archives: mugabe

Southern Africa launches urgent aid for Zimbabwe


*Zimbabwe’s neighbours to launch humanitarian campaign *South Africa hopes Zimbabwe government to be formed this week *South Africa will not back calls for Mugabe to step down

By Nelson Benya

HARARE, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s neighbours will launch an urgent humanitarian campaign in the hope of saving the country from economic collapse and a cholera epidemic, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Wednesday.

Almost 1,000 people have died in the cholera outbreak, piling more agony on Zimbabweans already suffering runaway hyperinflation and shortages of food and fuel.

The cholera has intensified Western calls for President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, to step down.

Regional mediation has failed to persuade the ruling ZANU-PF and opposition to implement a September power-sharing agreement, seen as the best chance of easing an economic crisis that has driven millions of Zimbabweans to neighbouring countries.

But a deadlock over ministries has blocked progress in negotiations as Zimbabwe descends further into chaos.

Motlanthe expressed hope that a Zimbabwean government will be formed this week. But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) did not share his optimism.

“Maybe the President (Motlanthe) knows something we don’t know, but we are not aware of any plans to form a government this week. It’s certainly news to us because the oustanding issues we have outlined remain,” said spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

Motlanthe told a news conference in Pretoria that the parties have not raised the issue of Mugabe stepping aside and he should stay on under the terms of the power-sharing pact.

Motlanthe added he expected MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to accept the prime ministerial role.

“He has always committed himself, he regards himself as the prime minister-designate, therefore I think once appointed he will accept,” he said.

Mugabe and his old foe Tsvangirai should both step aside to allow a neutral administration to tackle Zimbabwe’s crisis and prepare for a new election, a thinktank has proposed.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group described the power-sharing talks as “hopelessly deadlocked” and said no new formula based on Mugabe remaining president and Tsvangirai becoming prime minister looked workable.

“There is a possible negotiated way forward that could avoid Zimbabwe’s complete collapse,” the group said in a report on Tuesday.

“The core idea is to establish a transitional administration, run by non-partisan experts, in which neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai would have any position.”

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a presidential election but fell short of the necessary votes to avoid a run-off poll which the 84-year-old veteran leader won after Tsvangirai pulled out of the race citing violence.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/)

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Zimbabwe crisis worsens amid impasse, Amnesty says

By Paul Simao

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Human rights abuses are going unpunished and the food crisis is worsening in Zimbabwe while President Robert Mugabe and the opposition bicker over forming a unity government, Amnesty International said on Friday.

Mugabe and the leaders of the opposition MDC agreed last month to share power, but talks have become bogged down over control of ministries. A deal is seen as critical to reversing an economic meltdown in the southern African nation.

Zimbabweans are struggling to survive amid chronic shortages of meat, milk and other basic commodities as a result of the collapse of the agricultural sector. The country is dependent on food handouts and malnutrition is on the rise.

“We are worried that human rights have not been at the centre of the negotiation process,” Simeon Mawanza, the rights group’s Zimbabwe expert, said in a press release accompanying a report on the humanitarian situation in the country.

“While the parties continue to negotiate on political details, the most vulnerable Zimbabweans are at further risk of extreme hunger. Many Zimbabweans are now only surviving by eating wild fruit.”

London-based Amnesty said no one had been held accountable for the beatings, torture and other rights violations that occurred before the June presidential election even though it said most victims it interviewed could identify their attackers.


It said the perpetrators usually were in the security forces, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party or were pro-Mugabe war veterans. The 84-year-old Zimbabwean leader has blamed the opposition for the bloodshed that killed more than 100 people.

A March presidential election won by Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was generally peaceful, but the June run-off was marred by widespread attacks on opposition supporters by security forces.

Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round, citing the attacks on his supporters. Mugabe won the one-candidate race, prompting an international outcry and paving the way for the start of power-sharing negotiations.

Those talks culminated in a Sept. 15 agreement that spurred hopes of a quick economic recovery.

But the economy has continued to unravel during the weeks of fruitless talks over formation of a cabinet, and there are now fears the coming harvest could be worse than last year.

Amnesty said the election-related violence had worsened the food crisis because many victims were farmers who were too badly injured to till their land during the coming rainy season.

“If we think the food situation in Zimbabwe is bad now, just wait until the end of this year when half of the population is likely to need aid,” Mawanza said. There are an estimated 13 million people in Zimbabwe.

(Editing by Peter Millership)

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