Zimbabwe: “For Heaven’s Sake Don’t Prop Him Up”

Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu, collarless, in front of Yorkminster.
BBC NEWS | UK | Archbishop leads Zimbabwe protest
The Archbishop of York has urged members of Zimbabwe’s security forces not to prop up Robert Mugabe’s regime. Dr John Sentamu, one of the most senior members of the Anglican church, is leading a day of fasting and prayer in support of the people of Zimbabwe. He urged the army and police not to “terrorise the ordinary citizens”. In December, Dr Sentamu cut up his clerical collar on television and said he would not replace it until President Mugabe was out of office.

There has been a month of deadlock in Zimbabwe following disputed elections. Dr Sentamu called on the public to join him in prayer for the country. He said: “My plea, really to the army and to the police, is very simple. “Your job is not to prop up a government that actually lacks legitimacy, but to protect every citizen of Zimbabwe. “And if Mugabe has lost the election, for heaven’s sake don’t prop him up.”

“As a Christian community we must all stand together with our brothers and sisters living under the tyranny of Mugabe and pray that they will find deliverance.” On Thursday, Dr Sentamu released a joint statement with the Archbishop of Canterbury calling for international action to prevent “horrific” violence in Zimbabwe. And, speaking on Sunday, he told the BBC: “I’ve visited it a number of times and it was the bread basket of that region. “It’s now a basket case and the problems of Zimbabwe actually affect a lot of us – it’s not just them.” He said that on other international issues, such as global warming and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, there had been “a coalition of nations” prepared to speak out. “But, for Zimbabwe, it seems as if it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “And I actually think that the international community and all of us must be concerned about a country which once was a real showcase in Africa and now really is terrible.” In Zimbabwe, Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has failed to regain its parliamentary majority after a partial recount of votes from polls last month. The opposition MDC says it also won presidential polls, although those results remain unreleased. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said the presidential results could be announced after the completion of the recounts, expected by Monday. The head of the Anglican church in southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, told the BBC he wanted a weapons embargo to be imposed against Zimbabwe. “I would say Zimbabwe needs food, peace and security and not the arms. I would support such an embargo,” Mr Makgoba said.

Angola Pressures Zimbabwe on Arms – New York Times

Thank God, this seems to be confirmed. It’s so weird reading about these details in blog comments before the mainstream news picks it up. Although it can backfire – an air transport company was getting tons of activist mail, and they got pretty irritated about it and tracked down at least one activist blog to complain. Basiccally, they were saying “call your people off, we’re not transporting the arms” OWTTE

Angola Pressures Zimbabwe on Arms – New York Times

Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the opposition, welcomed the news that Angola had refused the Zimbabwe shipment, saying, “Mugabe is finally being routed by his own set.”

The announcement about the ship, which was posted Saturday on Angola’s official news Web site, was displayed in a way sure to enrage Mr. Mugabe. The article was placed immediately beside a photograph of Angola’s president, José Eduardo dos Santos, warmly shaking hands with Jendayi E. Frazer, America’s top diplomat for Africa.

On Thursday, Ms. Frazer declared that Mr. Tsvangirai had beaten Mr. Mugabe, perhaps by an outright majority. Her statement was denounced by Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister as proof of “the Western axis” behind what he called illegal efforts to topple Mr. Mugabe, according to Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper.

Zimbabwe: Images Of Protest


BBC NEWS | Africa | Civil society’s triumph on Zimbabwe
Image: South African church groups protest the Chinese arms ship An Yue Jiang at Durban harbor last week.


UN Move on Robert Mugabe as police round up MDC
Image: activists arrested from in front of the Chinese embassy in South Africa. One of these activists is a young man who still had his cell phone with him. The pastoral sponsor of the youth organization is the Rev. Mufaro Stig Hove, who runs a plethora of Zim blog sites. The activists may already have been deported by now. The sign says “China — Mugabe Lost The Election.”

Sokwanele Street Pamphlet

Image: Street pamphlet/newspaper ad produced by Zimbabwe Democracy Now, whose site is filled with activist tools, images, and political cartoons.

Image: This is from South Africa’s premier cartoonist, Zapiro.

Image: “We Have Done It”
Here’s another one, sent to Sokwanele/This is Zimababwe blog: it’s their blog post, reformatted for readers that don’t have Internet access that someone printed up and was handing out in Harare.
Since uploaded to Flickr. Their Flickr stream is constantly being updated with news photos and images sent to them via cell phone and email.


Image: The probable-rightful President of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangarai. Note raised open right hand; this is the salute of the Movement for Democratic Change. The symbol for Mugabe’s party ZANU-PF is a closed fist. Recently, reports have surfaced that thugs are cutting off the right hands of suspected MDC activists.

And then there’s this, An entire set of protest signs is here.
Image: a pre-election blimp (!) sent up by South African activists.

They do this in spite of a long history of police repression. Here are images from an October, 2007 rally for a new constitution:



40 hospitalised as police attack NCA demo in Harare

By Tererai Karimakwenda
16 October, 2007

Riot police attacked a group of NCA members who had gathered for a demonstration on 2nd street in Harare on Tuesday, and injured 40 of them. The NCA (National Constitutional Assembly) reported that approximately 400 members had come to protest against Constitutional Amendment 18 Bill, which passed in parliament earlier this month. The group intended to march peacefully to the parliament building, but they were rounded up at Herald House where the police took turns beating participants.

The NCA had announced there would be a peaceful demonstration in the capital this week, but did not reveal the exact date of the protests fearing the police would react in just such a brutal manner. A statement by the NCA said that the injured, including a man who sustained a deep cut on the forehead, were taken to a private hospital for treatment.

NCA spokesperson Madock Chivasa told newsreel the marching activists had just turned onto 2nd Street when they were blocked by police and ordered to sit down on the sidewalk. Some immediately fled for safety and others sat down. Police then assaulted them severely, causing chaos and many of them got up and escaped. Chivasa said it appears the police just wanted to assault and intimidate the activists because no arrests were made.

A statement released by the group said in part: “We urge all pro-democratic forces in Zimbabwe to include all stakeholders in fundamental issues such as constitutional making.”

Fears of the end-game are rife. The parlieamentary recount is finished, showing MDC is still the winner, but the presidential returns are still MIA.
The UN Security Council will talk some more on Tuesday. Meanwhile, ordinary people will keep coming up with information and clever ways to protest, get the word out, and shame the world into taking action.
Nothing will change, however, unless the supporters of Mugabe’s regime stop getting their payoffs in cash, food, and confiscated farms. The low-level thugs are drunk on power, booze, and blood – they’ll keep going as long as they get their “fix.” The mid- and high-level guys, who fear democracy (and a working judicial system) won’t leave until they have nobody to beat people up on their behalf.
The Mugabe regime is morally, politically, and financially bankrupt. Once everybody realizes there’s no more cash to be had from the cow, it’s all over.

Zimbabwe: Wanted In Order To Inflict

In Zimbabwe Raid, Hundreds in Opposition Party Detained – New York Times
He said the people detained were wanted on suspicion of “assault, grievous bodily harm, and arson.” They had been taken by bus to a police station less than a mile from the opposition headquarters, he said.

No, that’s “wanted in order to commit assault, grievous bodily harm, and arson” upon them or their property in the comfort and privacy of the back yard of the local hoosegow.

Zimbabwe: Lloyd’s MIU – 20017525399 Over The Horizon

The An Yue Jiang may have been turned around and headed back to China, as reported by the Beeb and the NYT, but maybe they’re just headed out to sea to do a little “over-the-horizon” transfer work. Sokwanele/This is Zimbabwe says “Don’t celebrate just yet:”

Lloyd’s MIU – 20017525399

But the following is invaluable information for activists in many countries:

Given the public interest in following the movements of the ship An Yue Jiang, which is reported to be carrying arms to Zimbabwe, Lloyd’s MIU (www.lloydsmiu.com) is tracking this vessel via satellites and agents covering all African ports.

The vessel may be hidden from satellite tracking at present, so our focus is on likely ports of call for discharging its cargo, potential re-fuelling stops (given it did not re-fuel at Durban), and all vessels in that coastal area that it could transfer its cargo onto while it is at sea, in particular, two vessels belonging to the same owner.

There are 32 ports in Africa, south of the equator, physically capable of accommodating An Yue Jiang. Given the intense media interest, and the fact this ship has six cranes on board, an increasingly likely scenario is the possibility of a ship-to-ship transfer of the controversial cargo “over the horizon” while the vessel is at sea. It is also possible for the ship to be refuelled at sea, which would allow it to continue further afield and then continue the shipment via land.

Lloyd’s MIU data shows there are currently 311 vessels that in the area of a type and size capable of receiving this cargo, 2 of these vessels belong to COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Group Company), which has owned the An Yue Jiang since its launch over 21 years ago. COSCO owns around 700 vessels, 150 of which are of a general cargo designation.

Zimbabwe: Anglican Leaders Call for Action

BBC NEWS | Africa | Church calls for Zimbabwe action
The leaders of the Anglican church have called for international action to prevent violence in Zimbabwe reaching “horrific levels”.

In a joint statement the Archbishops of Canterbury and York also called for an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

Yet more pressure brought to bear

You Are My Witnesses: Thugs Attack Mothers Union Meeting

Ruth Gledhill – Times Online – WBLG: Zimbabwe: The devil came late today.

Ruth Bakare, wife of the interim bishop of Harare, was the main speaker at a Mother’s Union meeting at an Anglican church in Zimbabwe. Over 3200 women had arrived for the day’s activities and Mrs. Bakare was partway through her talk, which included commentary on a text from Isaiah, “You are my witnesses.” The Mother’s Union is one of those Anglican bodies that evokes images of ladies drinking tea and enjoying a nice day out with educational speakers and fun activities. Not a rout with bully boys (and one bully girl) intent on breaking the meeting up. Part of the context is political, and part of it is that the thugs were apparently there on behalf of the deposed former bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, who’s a major ally of Robert Mugabe’s.

Half way through my address I saw a truck with riot police drive into the yard towards the crowd in a rather aggressive way. I asked Vimbai whether I should continue and she advised me to ignore them. So I did.

And just as I said in my address: “What have we not seen” (or witnessed in today’s Zimbabwe), the second truckload of police arrived, and a policeman came to the front of the tent where I was and requested us to leave immediately. The women started saying a last prayer, and many were shedding tears. Then they began to disperse one by one, with some older ladies on walking sticks trotting behind.

The Bishop and I took our time leaving and followed other women who were driving out of the gate. Most of the women had gathered just outside the church grounds by the gate and were now singing hymns on top of their voices. When our car went out of the gate, it was like a “triumphant exit from Jerusalem”, the way the women responded – was it joy or anger?

Certainly they sounded happy and confident and some were saying, “The devil came late today. After all we had nearly finished our day.” When they saw me moved to tears at their singing and cheering us, they called to me “Musatye” (don’t be afraid”), and indeed I was not, carried by so much joy and love and hope.

I knew that what we are going through is only for a while. “We shall overcome!”