It’s Going Down in Zimbabwe

Today I got an email from a friend in Mozembique with an attachment from Zimbabweans telling the story of how Robert Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) uses violence against civilians to ensure another term in office. I’ve posted excepts from the article at the bottom of the post but first, a very brief explanation of the trouble in Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe was in great shape a decade ago. It had a literacy rating in the 90s, was the bread basket of sub-Saharan Africa, had an effective health care system and solid economic fundamentals. Then something happened: leader Robert Mugabe, the hero who liberated the nation from oppressive white rule in 1980s and declared himself president, has reversed all those positive trends. The last decade of Zimbabwean history is awash in everything that typifies an internally destructive regime. Massive corruption has eroded internal economic freedoms, state sponsored violence is routinely used to accomplish political objectives and those opposed to the government are ending up beaten or dead.

Zimbabwe still has elections and despite all the efforts used to subvert the election by Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party, the opposition actually won. Of course, a win is only a win if you can take power afterwards. Mugabe isn’t ready to give it up and since the ‘official’ vote count has the opposition leader, Moran Tsvangirai, missing the 50% needed to win outright, there is going to be a run off election. However, before the run off election, the state sponsored violence is beginning again, and this time it’s even more acute.

The Email

“Enclosed I am sending the pictures and true stories of Police brutality in Zimbabwe. Honestly, we need to pray if we can, we need to write something if we can, we need to demonstrate if we can, we need to raise up our voices if we are to be heard, we need to challenge our SADC (Southern African Development Community) governments to do something. We really need to…………………

PS. the pictures are shocking be ready.”

The Attachment

Operation Mavhoterapapi (how did you vote) – Tapiwa Mubwanda’s story

April 16, 2008MDC Supporter Murdered by ZANU-PF

“We are having a very terrible problem now. As we finished the election Zanu PF has come up with a strategy that they are calling Operation Mavhotera Papi, They are going around and they have got all the election statistics, and they are identifying the strongholds of MDC, and they are doing everything to destroy MDC membership so if there is ever to be a re-run, they want to make sure they have destroyed the party. Our polling agents in the rural areas they are staying in the bush, our prominent supporters who are identified by Zanu PF are sleeping in the bush in groups. “The strategy is clear, they are always talking about a re-run and they are saying they want to destroy MDC there, They are taking peoples IDs and throwing them away, and beating people. We have nursed a lot of people who have injuries. “They identified him (Tapiwa Mubwanda) without wasting time, they rushed to him and they gave him no chance, They stabbed him with a very long sword, in his ribs. Straight away he fell on the ground and within five minutes he was no more.”

“In the farming community where there are some resettlements, whoever is identified as an MDC supporter or election agent is being beaten up, victimised, belongings thrown out of their houses, and they are just desperate. Peoples lives are in danger here in Mashonaland West now.”

The following is testimony from Tapiwa’s widow.Tapiwa's Widow

“We were on our way from Masikote. They grabbed my husband and said you are the MDC people I want to fix you today. I ran away because I wanted to take my child to a safe place because I realised that if I stayed they were going to kill me. Then I had to go back and see what was happening to my husband. When I got back my husband was lying down, bleeding from the mouth, blood on the stomach, I removed my blouse and put it on his stomach to try and stop the bleeding and make him better.”

Another story from a 22 year old male from Musaruro Village Mudzi.
“The ZPF youth came to my shop on Friday 11 April 2008 at 9pm, broke the door down and dragged me out of the building. They said “you are an MDC member”. They took all the groceries from my shop then burned grass on both my hands. After that they beat my hands and back with wooden poles. I went to Kotwa rural district hospital and they gave me 2
paracetamol – they had nothing else.”
12 April 2008.

The violence continued yesterday. Over 500 farm workers displaced in Mutasa South and Chipinge (Tanganda and Southdown Holdings) following invasions by so called war veterans. A passenger on a bus reported seeing a man being hung by his hands from a tree while a group was beating him at Corner Store, between Muhrewa and Mutoko – this took place at approximately 4 pm Sunday 13 April 2008. Frans Joubert, a Chipinge farmer has been detained in Chipinge Police cells since Friday for allegedly “insulting Pres. Mugabe”. He is being denied access to legal representation and relatives. It has been reported that a teacher in Mudzi has also been murdered and 8 women have been abducted. We are awaiting verification of this report. The women shown in the images above were viciously beaten and have sustained deep tissue bruising of the buttocks. All were admitted to hospital. These attacks took place on Friday night, April 11, 2008.

This kraal head from Zimuto, Masvingo, was accused of getting people to vote for MDC. He was stoned and beaten with logs. His lip was split, he lost two teeth, and he sustained fractured ribs. His wife is 50 years and was beaten viciously on her right leg. In addition to these pictures and reports are the following incidents:
The MDC Secretary for Ward 1 Zimuto Masvinga, who is 36 years old, was attacked on Tuesday in Baradzi Village, Masvingo. ZPF youth broke his door down and dragged him outside insisting that he take them to all the other MDC members houses. He refused to comply so was beaten with iron bars and logs of wood. He slept the night in the bush and then found his way to medical facility. The thugs referred to their actions as Operation Mavhoterapapi – “where you put your X”. The Mudzi/Mutoko area is particularly bad, with homes being burned. One man had his home ransacked, and his chickens and goats burned alive. He and his family have left fearing for their lives.
We have also received information that one white farmer in Chipinge is in police cells (lawyers
being denied access). And that 55 farmworker families have been displaced from Tanganda
and Southdown holdings and are in need of urgent assistance. There are also a number of injured people who have been beaten with logs requiring medical treatment. The local Doctor has been displaced. The situation is reported to be out of control. Look at the way our brothers and sisters are being treated in Zimbabwe! God forbid!

The article is much longer and the pictures much more graphic. I don’t particularly like these types of posts but someone needs to hear these people’s story.

What’s America doing to help?

Rice said: “We’ve tried to make a case … that there needed to be free and fair elections in Zimbabwe as much as it was possible. It’s difficult since really no international observation was allowed.”

So what did you do about that Condi?

“The State Department said Friday the U.S. would field almost a dozen poll watchers for the elections and would report afterward on the electoral process and the results.”

Almost a dozen…

Well, maybe the international community can at least stop the shipment of Chinese weapons ordered by Mugabe to use on his own people.

Oh… nevermimd

Darfur: A US-China Proxy Battle for Oil

Confirmed Oil Reserves, Pipeline and Conflict.

Summary: There is oil in Darfur. The Sudanese government is using the same tactics to evict millions of Darfuri as they used in the South a decade ago. They are using Chinese money to finance their operations. The US is attempting to create international pressure against the Al-Bashir government by calling Darfur a ‘genocide.’ The US is also financing the Chadian government to the west of Sudan. The Chadian government is financing Dafuri rebels. The Chinese and the US are fighting a proxy battle for Darfur, an area with potentially vast oil reserves, at the expense of millions of Darfuris.

In 2005, Reuters published an article entitled: Oil Discover adds new twist to Darfur.

“Sudan announced in April that its ABCO corporation… had begun drilling for oil in Darfur, where preliminary studies showed there were “abundant” quantities of oil. The news has prompted some humanitarian experts to wonder whether oil could be guiding Khartoum’s actions in Darfur, where a scorched-earth policy against rebels’ communities has left tens of thousands dead and forced at least 2 million from their homes.”

This is one of two mainstream media articles I found that mention Oil and Darfur in the same sentence. The other was in this BBC article. Once again, the mainstream press has neglected to inform us of WTF is going on. Darfur is, in fact, another narrative consistent with the rest of Sudanese oil history.

In 1974, Chevron was granted large oil concessions in southern Sudan. They discovered oil in that region in 1978 and began developing the fields. Unfortunately for Chevron and the ruling elite in Khartoum, the southern Sudanese weren’t willing to give away their oil wealth. In 1984, rebels from the south attacked a Chevron facility and the company suspended operations. This all happened within the context of a number of rebel groups in the south using violence to pressure the central government to give them more autonomy. In 1992, Chevron sold their oil operations to a Sudanese corporation.

The central government outsourced much of the conflict to militia groups in the south just as they have with the Janjaweed in Darfur. They financed a lot of this conflict with money from Chinese, Canadian and Swiss oil companies. Recently, the Chinese have purchased most of the oil rights in Sudan from other companies.

The Human Rights Watch report titled: Sudan: Oil Companies Complicit in Rights Abuses, published on November 25, 2003, explains the tactics used by the government in the south. The following is from a HRW press release publicizing that report:

“In addition to its regular army, the government has deployed militant Islamist militias to prosecute the war, and has armed southern factions in a policy of ethnic manipulation and destabilization… The Sudanese government has used the oil money in conducting scorched-earth campaigns to drive hundreds of thousands of farmers and pastoralists from their homes atop the oil fields. These civilians have not been compensated nor relocated peacefully-far from it. Instead, government forces have looted their cattle and grain, and destroyed their homes and villages, killed and injured their relatives, and even prevented emergency relief agencies from bringing any assistance to them.”

This is a report from Southern Sudan! Not Darfur! They are using the same tactics but no one is talking about why.

The probability of oil in the Darfur region is high because proven reserves exist immediately south and west of Darfur. Pipelines have also been built to bring oil from the region to the coast. The presence of oil in Darfur would also explain why the Sudanese government takes the risk of enraging the international community by utilizing difficult to control militias to terrorize their own people. America is mounting an international campaign to label Darfur a ‘genocide’ because they seek to oust the pro-China, Al-Bashir administration.

American relations with the the al-Bashir administration were doomed from the start because America had supported the former Sudanese administrations that had been overthrown by Al-Bashir in June of 1989. Al-Bashir strengthened the Islamic foundation of Sudan, enacting Sharia law and, over time, realigned Sudanese economic development behind Chinese rather than American interests. The State Department also alleges that the Sudanese government has a relationship with Al-Qaeda13 and other fundamentalist Islamic organizations so it is clear that al-Bashir’s administration will never be subservient to American interests.

The Bush administration wants regime change in Sudan more than they want peace in Darfur and they’re putting their money where their mouth is.

The US relationship with Chad to the west of Darfur is almost never reported by the mainstream media. The US supports the Chadian government (they have oil) and Chad is financing rebel groups in Darfur who are fighting all the way to Khartoum. In fact, on May 12, a rebel group called the JEM with connections to Chad invaded Khartoum. This is a massive story because its the first time Darfuri rebels brought the battle to the capital but since it doesn’t fit with the mainstream media narrative of defenseless Darfuris being targeted indiscriminately by Arabs, no one is talking much about it.

The Chinese and the US are fighting a proxy battle for oil at the expense of millions of Darfuris. If we want to stop the conflict in Darfur, we need to hear the real story. The mainstream media, once again, has created a circus out of Darfur instead of contextualizing the conflict.

For the best report I’ve even seen on Darfur, check out VBS TV’s report entitled Inside Sudan.

Inside Sudan from VBS

Oil Around Darfur

The following are my sources:
Rolandsen, Oystein W. African Guerillas: The Jajawiid and Government Militias. London: Lynne Rienner. 2007
UN Sudan NIG: The History And Origins Of The Current Conflict In Darfur
Washington Post: Moon, Dan Ki. A Climate Culprit In Darfur. Saturday, June 16, 2007; Page A15
Annan welcomes extension of African Union mission in Darfur
Reuters: Oil discovery adds new twist to Darfur tragedy
Vice Media
BBC: Head-to-head: Darfur situation
Human Rights Watch
New York Times: Scorched-Earth Strategy Returns to Darfur. Published: March 2, 2008.

Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998 Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
Washington Post: U.S. Calls Killings In Sudan Genocide: Khartoum and Arab Militias Are Responsible, Powell
Says. Friday, September 10, 2004; Page A01