April 5, 2005


Zimbabwe police on high alert as UN calls for dialogue (AFP, 4/05/05)

Police in Zimbabwe went on high alert after youths took to the streets in Harare to urge Zimbabweans to reject the outcome of elections overwhelmingly won by President Robert Mubage's party.

As the opposition pressed calls for new elections and reform, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stepped in and called on Mugabe's government "to build a climate of confidence" to take the southern African country forward.

"He calls on all sides to engage in constructive dialogue in the period ahead," Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard said in a statement released at UN headquarters in New York on Monday.

Glimmers of Defiance In a Wary Zimbabwe: Discontent Evident Even in Mugabe Strongholds (Craig Timberg, April 5, 2005, Washington Post)
[D]espite the opposition's poor showing in official results, the final days of last week's election campaign revealed a spirit of defiance rarely seen in the five previous years of increasingly authoritarian rule by Mugabe.

The main opposition group, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is viewed here as the party of urban youth, a long-term advantage in a country that increasingly is urban and young. Most Zimbabweans are not old enough to have experienced white minority rule or Mugabe's leadership of the 1970s insurrection that helped end it.

Even in the countryside -- where support for Mugabe is supposedly strongest and where official vote totals showed his party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, with huge margins of victory -- voters on election day flashed the opposition's signature open-palm gesture. A group of peasant women walking down a dirt road with sugar cane in their hands did not want to talk to a stranger, but when pressed gently about the election, they silently showed their open palms.

Elsewhere, former Mugabe loyalists said that his party's dominance of the nation must end if Zimbabwe hopes to escape its international isolation and halt a precipitous economic decline.

Four men, ranging in age from their twenties to their fifties, stood on the side of the main road in a rural village west of here on voting day. Each had voted for Mugabe in all previous elections, yet on this day they spoke openly of their dissatisfaction and their longing to see the opposition take power.

Even more strikingly in a nation where to support the opposition is to risk beating and torture, two of the four men willingly gave their names and ages to a foreign journalist, despite knowing they might appear in a newspaper that Mugabe's party officials would read. "Most people are suffering, no food, no jobs. . . . Maybe the MDC will win," said Smart Madhola, 56, a security guard.

The willingness to speak out dimmed a bit after the voting, as it became clear that the overwhelming victory of Mugabe's party had given the president an even freer hand to rewrite the constitution -- or do almost anything else he pleased.

But on Saturday, opposition activist Aiden Turai Mpani, 28, said he was prepared to demonstrate in the streets, risking almost certain arrest and beating by police, to protest election results he was certain were the result of rigging. Asked if he really wanted to be quoted by name under such conditions, he said confidently, "With pleasure."

They need to provoke an incident that can't be ignored.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 5, 2005 8:58 PM

Most of the MSM is not interested in Zimbabwe, and the few reporters that might be willing to report on Zimbabwe are hampered by the lack of infrastructure (5 star hotels).
Looking at the reporting on Sudan, one wonders what level of devastation is required to get the MSM interested.

Posted by: Daran at April 6, 2005 4:13 AM

As long as the ANC supports the Shona version of Adolf Hitler, the MSM, the UN, the OAU, the EU and the rest of the vile alphabet soup of world opinion will do nothing.

Posted by: bart at April 6, 2005 6:51 AM


Don't forget - it's the pictures, almost always the pictures. That is one reason why the tsunami was big news - everyone wanted to run video of the waves and the devastation.

Lebanon hasn't been big news because the protests have been relatively quiet. But a few shot-up, burning buildings in Beirut, and the MSM will go to town (blaming Bush and the Israelis, of course).

I doubt if the MSM would run any video from Zimbabwe, unless a few white farmers started really defending their property.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 6, 2005 12:31 PM