segunda-feira, junho 23, 2008

the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River

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“We are not going to give up our country for a mere X on a ballot. How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?”
     Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe.

Robert Mugabe Inauguration Zimbabwe Grace Marufu BibleRobert Mugabe Inauguration Zimbabwe Grace Marufu BibleRobert Mugabe Inauguration Zimbabwe Grace Marufu BibleRobert Mugabe Inauguration Zimbabwe Grace Marufu Bible

Sunday June 29: A-and then, after the farce of an election the UN is reported like this: On Friday, the UN Security Council said it deeply regretted Zimbabwe's decision to go ahead with the presidential poll. It said conditions for a free and fair election did not exist, but - after objections from South Africa - stopped short of saying it was illegitimate.

Bah! Wussies! Milquetoasts! Useless! Darfur, Somalia, Zimbabwe ... AI AI AI!!!

Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe Globe Gable
Then Kolokolo Bird said, with a mournful cry, 'Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, and find out.'

The Elephant's Child, Rudyard Kipling, 1902.
Assassins in Zimbabwe Aim at the Grass Roots, June 22.
Mugabe Rival Quits Zimbabwe Runoff, Citing Attacks, Celia W. Dugger & Barry Bearak, June 23.
Mugabe's Thugs Impose Reign of Terror in Zimbabwe, By Jan Puhl and Toby Selander, June 23.
Security Council Urges Zimbabwe to Halt Violence, Neil MacFarquhar & Celia W. Dugger, June 24.
Zimbabwe's Aborted Election - Mbeki must act, Globe Editorial, June 24.

Says the United Nations Security Council & Ban Ki-moon: 'sweeping condemnation' and 'regrets' and 'sharply condemned' and 'it is far from clear they will find enough common ground to act decisively.'

Well, I guess ...

Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe Sally HayfronRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Sally HayfronRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Sally HayfronRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Grace MarufuRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Grace Marufu
Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe Grace MarufuRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Grace MarufuRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Grace MarufuRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Grace MarufuRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Grace Marufu
More pictures ...

The Elephant's Child, Rudyard Kipling.

N the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn't pick up things with it. But there was one Elephant--a new Elephant--an Elephant's Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions. And he lived in Africa, and he filled all Africa with his 'satiable curtiosities. He asked his tall aunt, the Ostrich, why her tail-feathers grew just so, and his tall aunt the Ostrich spanked him with her hard, hard claw. He asked his tall uncle, the Giraffe, what made his skin spotty, and his tall uncle, the Giraffe, spanked him with his hard, hard hoof. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity! He asked his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, why her eyes were red, and his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, spanked him with her broad, broad hoof; and he asked his hairy uncle, the Baboon, why melons tasted just so, and his hairy uncle, the Baboon, spanked him with his hairy, hairy paw. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity! He asked questions about everything that he saw, or heard, or felt, or smelt, or touched, and all his uncles and his aunts spanked him. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity!

One fine morning in the middle of the Precession of the Equinoxes this 'satiable Elephant's Child asked a new fine question that he had never asked before. He asked, 'What does the Crocodile have for dinner?' Then everybody said, 'Hush!' in a loud and dretful tone, and they spanked him immediately and directly, without stopping, for a long time.

By and by, when that was finished, he came upon Kolokolo Bird sitting in the middle of a wait-a-bit thorn-bush, and he said, 'My father has spanked me, and my mother has spanked me; all my aunts and uncles have spanked me for my 'satiable curtiosity; and still I want to know what the Crocodile has for dinner!'

Then Kolokolo Bird said, with a mournful cry, 'Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, and find out.'

That very next morning, when there was nothing left of the Equinoxes, because the Precession had preceded according to precedent, this 'satiable Elephant's Child took a hundred pounds of bananas (the little short red kind), and a hundred pounds of sugar-cane (the long purple kind), and seventeen melons (the greeny-crackly kind), and said to all his dear families, 'Goodbye. I am going to the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, to find out what the Crocodile has for dinner.' And they all spanked him once more for luck, though he asked them most politely to stop.

Then he went away, a little warm, but not at all astonished, eating melons, and throwing the rind about, because he could not pick it up.

He went from Graham's Town to Kimberley, and from Kimberley to Khama's Country, and from Khama's Country he went east by north, eating melons all the time, till at last he came to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, precisely as Kolokolo Bird had said.

Now you must know and understand, O Best Beloved, that till that very week, and day, and hour, and minute, this 'satiable Elephant's Child had never seen a Crocodile, and did not know what one was like. It was all his 'satiable curtiosity.

The first thing that he found was a Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake curled round a rock.

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child most politely, 'but have you seen such a thing as a Crocodile in these promiscuous parts?'

'Have I seen a Crocodile?' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, in a voice of dretful scorn. 'What will you ask me next?'

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but could you kindly tell me what he has for dinner?'

Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake uncoiled himself very quickly from the rock, and spanked the Elephant's Child with his scalesome, flailsome tail.

'That is odd,' said the Elephant's Child, 'because my father and my mother, and my uncle and my aunt, not to mention my other aunt, the Hippopotamus, and my other uncle, the Baboon, have all spanked me for my 'satiable curtiosity--and I suppose this is the same thing.'

So he said good-bye very politely to the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, and helped to coil him up on the rock again, and went on, a little warm, but not at all astonished, eating melons, and throwing the rind about, because he could not pick it up, till he trod on what he thought was a log of wood at the very edge of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees.

But it was really the Crocodile, O Best Beloved, and the Crocodile winked one eye--like this!

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child most politely, 'but do you happen to have seen a Crocodile in these promiscuous parts?'

Then the Crocodile winked the other eye, and lifted half his tail out of the mud; and the Elephant's Child stepped back most politely, because he did not wish to be spanked again.

'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile. 'Why do you ask such things?'

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child most politely, 'but my father has spanked me, my mother has spanked me, not to mention my tall aunt, the Ostrich, and my tall uncle, the Giraffe, who can kick ever so hard, as well as my broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, and my hairy uncle, the Baboon, and including the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, with the scalesome, flailsome tail, just up the bank, who spanks harder than any of them; and so, if it's quite all the same to you, I don't want to be spanked any more.'

'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile, 'for I am the Crocodile,' and he wept crocodile-tears to show it was quite true.

Then the Elephant's Child grew all breathless, and panted, and kneeled down on the bank and said, 'You are the very person I have been looking for all these long days. Will you please tell me what you have for dinner?'

'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile, 'and I'll whisper.'

Then the Elephant's Child put his head down close to the Crocodile's musky, tusky mouth, and the Crocodile caught him by his little nose, which up to that very week, day, hour, and minute, had been no bigger than a boot, though much more useful.

'I think,' said the Crocodile--and he said it between his teeth, like this--'I think to-day I will begin with Elephant's Child!'

At this, O Best Beloved, the Elephant's Child was much annoyed, and he said, speaking through his nose, like this, 'Led go! You are hurtig be!'

Rudyard Kipling Elephants ChildTHIS is the Elephant's Child having his nose pulled by the Crocodile. He is much surprised and astonished and hurt, and he is talking through his nose and saying, 'Led go! You are hurtig be!' He is pulling very hard, and so is the Crocodile: but the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake is hurrying through the water to help the Elephant's Child. All that black stuff is the banks of the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River (but I am not allowed to paint these pictures), and the bottly-tree with the twisty roots and the eight leaves is one of the fever-trees that grow there.

Underneath the truly picture are shadows of African animals walking into an African ark. There are two lions, two ostriches, two oxen, two camels, two sheep, and two other things that look like rats, but I think they are rock-rabbits. They don't mean anything. I put them in because I thought they looked pretty. They would look very fine if I were allowed to paint them.

Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake scuffled down from the bank and said, 'My young friend, if you do not now, immediately and instantly, pull as hard as ever you can, it is my opinion that your acquaintance in the large-pattern leather ulster' (and by this he meant the Crocodile) 'will jerk you into yonder limpid stream before you can say Jack Robinson.'

This is the way Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes always talk.

Then the Elephant's Child sat back on his little haunches, and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose began to stretch. And the Crocodile floundered into the water, making it all creamy with great sweeps of his tail, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled.

And the Elephant's Child's nose kept on stretching; and the Elephant's Child spread all his little four legs and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose kept on stretching; and the Crocodile threshed his tail like an oar, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and at each pull the Elephant's Child's nose grew longer and longer--and it hurt him hijjus!

Then the Elephant's Child felt his legs slipping, and he said through his nose, which was now nearly five feet long, 'This is too butch for be!'

Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake came down from the bank, and knotted himself in a double-clove-hitch round the Elephant's Child's hind legs, and said, 'Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension, because if we do not, it is my impression that yonder self-propelling man-of-war with the armour-plated upper deck' (and by this, O Best Beloved, he meant the Crocodile), 'will permanently vitiate your future career.'

That is the way all Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes always talk.

So he pulled, and the Elephant's Child pulled, and the Crocodile pulled; but the Elephant's Child and the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake pulled hardest; and at last the Crocodile let go of the Elephant's Child's nose with a plop that you could hear all up and down the Limpopo.

Then the Elephant's Child sat down most hard and sudden; but first he was careful to say 'Thank you' to the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake; and next he was kind to his poor pulled nose, and wrapped it all up in cool banana leaves, and hung it in the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo to cool.

'What are you doing that for?' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake.

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but my nose is badly out of shape, and I am waiting for it to shrink.'

'Then you will have to wait a long time,' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'Some people do not know what is good for them.'

The Elephant's Child sat there for three days waiting for his nose to shrink. But it never grew any shorter, and, besides, it made him squint. For, O Best Beloved, you will see and understand that the Crocodile had pulled it out into a really truly trunk same as all Elephants have to-day.

At the end of the third day a fly came and stung him on the shoulder, and before he knew what he was doing he lifted up his trunk and hit that fly dead with the end of it.

''Vantage number one!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You couldn't have done that with a mere-smear nose. Try and eat a little now.'

Before he thought what he was doing the Elephant's Child put out his trunk and plucked a large bundle of grass, dusted it clean against his fore-legs, and stuffed it into his own mouth.

''Vantage number two!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You couldn't have done that with a mere-smear nose. Don't you think the sun is very hot here?'

'It is,' said the Elephant's Child, and before he thought what he was doing he schlooped up a schloop of mud from the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo, and slapped it on his head, where it made a cool schloopy-sloshy mud-cap all trickly behind his ears.

''Vantage number three!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You couldn't have done that with a mere-smear nose. Now how do you feel about being spanked again?'

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but I should not like it at all.'

'How would you like to spank somebody?' said the Bi- Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake.

'I should like it very much indeed,' said the Elephant's Child.

'Well,' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, 'you will find that new nose of yours very useful to spank people with.'

'Thank you,' said the Elephant's Child, 'I'll remember that; and now I think I'll go home to all my dear families and try.'

So the Elephant's Child went home across Africa frisking and whisking his trunk. When he wanted fruit to eat he pulled fruit down from a tree, instead of waiting for it to fall as he used to do. When he wanted grass he plucked grass up from the ground, instead of going on his knees as he used to do. When the flies bit him he broke off the branch of a tree and used it as fly-whisk; and he made himself a new, cool, slushy-squshy mud-cap whenever the sun was hot. When he felt lonely walking through Africa he sang to himself down his trunk, and the noise was louder than several brass bands.

Rudyard Kipling Elephants ChildTHIS is just a picture of the Elephant's Child going to pull bananas off a banana-tree after he had got his fine new long trunk. I don't think it is a very nice picture; but I couldn't make it any better, because elephants and bananas are hard to draw. The streaky things behind the Elephant's Child mean squoggy marshy country somewhere in Africa. The Elephant's Child made most of his mud-cakes out of the mud that he found there. I think it would look better if you painted the banana-tree green and the Elephant's Child red.

He went especially out of his way to find a broad Hippopotamus (she was no relation of his), and he spanked her very hard, to make sure that the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake had spoken the truth about his new trunk. The rest of the time he picked up the melon rinds that he had dropped on his way to the Limpopo--for he was a Tidy Pachyderm.

One dark evening he came back to all his dear families, and he coiled up his trunk and said, 'How do you do?' They were very glad to see him, and immediately said, 'Come here and be spanked for your 'satiable curtiosity.'

'Pooh,' said the Elephant's Child. 'I don't think you peoples know anything about spanking; but I do, and I'll show you.' Then he uncurled his trunk and knocked two of his dear brothers head over heels.

'O Bananas!' said they, 'where did you learn that trick, and what have you done to your nose?'

'I got a new one from the Crocodile on the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River,' said the Elephant's Child. 'I asked him what he had for dinner, and he gave me this to keep.'

'It looks very ugly,' said his hairy uncle, the Baboon.

'It does,' said the Elephant's Child. 'But it's very useful,' and he picked up his hairy uncle, the Baboon, by one hairy leg, and hove him into a hornet's nest.

Then that bad Elephant's Child spanked all his dear families for a long time, till they were very warm and greatly astonished. He pulled out his tall Ostrich aunt's tail-feathers; and he caught his tall uncle, the Giraffe, by the hind-leg, and dragged him through a thorn-bush; and he shouted at his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, and blew bubbles into her ear when she was sleeping in the water after meals; but he never let any one touch Kolokolo Bird.

At last things grew so exciting that his dear families went off one by one in a hurry to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, to borrow new noses from the Crocodile. When they came back nobody spanked anybody any more; and ever since that day, O Best Beloved, all the Elephants you will ever see, besides all those that you won't, have trunks precisely like the trunk of the 'satiable Elephant's Child.

I Keep six honest serving-men:
     (They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
     And How and Why and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
     I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
     I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five.
     For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
     For they are hungry men:
But different folk have different views:
     I know a person small--
She keeps ten million serving-men,
     Who get no rest at all!
She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
     From the second she opens her eyes--
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
     And seven million Whys!

Pictures: Morgan Tsvangirai, Augustine Chihuri Police Commissioner, Boniface G. Chidyausiku UN Ambassador, Grace Kwinjeh, ZANU-PF beating up bystanders.

Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe Morgan TsvangiraiRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Morgan TsvangiraiRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Augustine Chihuri Police CommissionerRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Boniface Chidyausiku UN AmbassadorRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai
Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe Morgan TsvangiraiRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Morgan TsvangiraiRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Grace KwinjehRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Grace KwinjehRobert Mugabe Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai

Assassins in Zimbabwe Aim at the Grass Roots, Barry Bearak & Celia W. Dugger, June 22.

The killing of scores of opposition party workers has turned funerals, like that of Tonderai Ndira, in Harare, into political rallies.

JOHANNESBURG — Tonderai Ndira was a shrewd choice for assassination: young, courageous and admired. Kill him and fear would pulse through a thousand spines. He was an up-and-comer in Zimbabwe’s opposition party, a charismatic figure with a strong following in the Harare slums where he lived.

There were rumors his name was on a hit list. For weeks he prudently hid out, but his wife, Plaxedess, desperately pleaded with him to come home for a night. He slipped back to his family on May 12.

The five killers pushed through the door soon after dawn, as Mr. Ndira, 30, slept and his wife made porridge for their two children. He was wrenched from his bed, roughed up and stuffed into the back seat of a double-cab Toyota pickup. “They’re going to kill me,” he cried, Plaxedess said. As the children watched from the door, two men sat on his back, a gag was shoved in his mouth and his head was yanked upward, a technique of asphyxiation later presumed in a physician’s post mortem to be the cause of death.

Zimbabwe will have a presidential runoff election on Friday, an epochal choice between Robert Mugabe, the 84-year-old liberation hero who has run the nation for nearly three decades, and the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. But in the morbid and sinister weeks recently passed, the balloting has been preceded by a calculated campaign of bloodletting meant to intimidate the opposition and strip it of some of its most valuable foot soldiers.

Even as hundreds of election observers from neighboring countries were deployed across Zimbabwe in the past few days, the gruesome killings and beatings of opposition figures have continued.

The body of the wife of Harare’s newly chosen mayor was found Wednesday, her face so badly bashed in that even her own brother only recognized her by her brown corduroy skirt and plaited hair. On Thursday, the bodies of four more opposition activists turned up after they had been abducted by men shouting ruling party slogans.

The strategic killing of activists and their families has deprived the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, not only of its dead stalwarts but also of hundreds of other essential workers who have fled while reasonably supposing they will be next.

At least 85 activists and supporters of the party have been killed, according to civic group tallies, including several operatives who, while little known outside Zimbabwe, were mainstays within it. They were thorns in the side of the government, frequently in and out of jail, bold enough to campaign in the no-go areas where Mr. Mugabe’s party previously faced little competition.

“They’re targeting people who are unknown because cynically they know they can get away with it,” said David Coltart, an opposition senator.

One such target was Better Chokururama, a 31-year-old activist with an appetite for bravado and fisticuffs, nicknamed “Texas” for both the cowboy hats he favored and the moniker of a torture camp from which he once escaped. He was abducted on April 19, and his legs crushed by his captors with boulders.

He said in an interview afterward, as he lay with both legs in casts, that he had told his captors “that beating people would not change anything because the opposition had beaten the governing party, ZANU-PF, in the elections.”

“They laughed loudly,” he said, “then threw me out of the moving vehicle.” Weeks later, he was snatched again, with two other opposition activists; the three bodies were discovered separately and identified by family members.

But the violence has been aimed not only at campaigners but at voters as well. So-called pungwe sessions, the Shona word for all-night vigils, have become common in areas where people once loyal to President Mugabe dared vote against him in the first round of voting on March 29. Villagers are rousted from their homes and herded together. Suspected opposition supporters are then called forward to be thrashed.

In Chaona, a village in Mashonaland Central Province, a man named Fredrick said he was among 10 suspected opposition supporters tortured for five hours under a tree. One man was caught while trying to escape. “They tied his genitals with an elastic band and beat him until he passed out and died,” said Fredrick, who asked that his last name not be used in order to protect himself. He said a second man was killed after his tormentors dripped bubbles of burning plastic on his naked body.

Prosper Mutema, 34, from Mtoko in Mashonaland East, said he was among dozens captured on June 4, taken to a torture camp and beaten all night with sticks and clubs called knobkerries. In the morning, he was ordered to hand over a cow as a “repentance fee.” Lacking so costly an animal, he pleaded for a more modest penitence, eventually winning his freedom with a bucket of maize meal and a chicken.

There have been dozens of killings, thousands of beatings and tens of thousands of people displaced, civic groups, doctors and relief agencies say. Though roadblocks seal off rural areas where most of the abuse is taking place, there are so many surviving victims and witnesses that human rights workers and journalists have been able to catalog much of the brutality. Pain is often inflicted through hours-long pummeling of the soles of the feet and the flesh of the buttocks.

“When Mugabe declares himself the winner, the world must know what he has done,” said the opposition’s director of elections, Ian Makone, who has gone underground and travels only at night. Two of his chief aides have been killed; several others have scattered into exile.

Mr. Mugabe, on the other hand, is campaigning boldly. A vigorous octogenarian, his life span is already more than double the national average in this destitute country, where inflation has gone so berserk that a loaf of bread now costs $30 billion Zimbabwean dollars.

Mr. Mugabe openly portrays the election in the terminology of warfare, a battle to preserve sovereignty against puppets put up by the British, the nation’s onetime colonial masters who in his view want to reclaim the land for white domination. Either he will win, he insists, or he will keep power by force.

“We are not going to give up our country for a mere X on a ballot,” he said in a speech last week. “How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?”

The opposition claims that Mr. Tsvangirai won a majority in the earlier round of voting, and that the government manipulated the count to force a runoff and ready its violent response.

Whatever the actual count, hard-liners in the governing party agreed on a “war-like/military style strategy” to recapture votes that had drifted astray and win a second ballot, according to the minutes of one of their meetings obtained from a ZANU-PF official.

“This is not going to be an election,” said one senior ZANU-PF official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans are secret. “The election happened in March. This is going to be a war. We are going all out to win this, using all state resources at our disposal.”

Army officers were sent to every province to direct the strategy, which eventually employed soldiers, intelligence agents, policemen and paramilitary groups known as war veterans and youth brigades called the green bombers, the senior official said. Ward by ward voting results dictated the campaign’s geography. In the Zaka district of Masvingo, once a reliable ZANU-PF stronghold, Mr. Tsvangirai won in March, and the opposition party also took three of four seats in Parliament and the Senate seat. Reprisals began within weeks.

Names of the opposition’s poll workers had been published in the newspaper as required by law, and these workers seem to have been systematically identified for nighttime beatings. Hundreds of them have since fled, leaving their polling stations vulnerable to ballot stuffing on Friday, said the constituency’s senator-elect, Misheck Marava. He said his wife and children were savagely beaten with chains and whips.

Then, on June 4 at 4:15 a.m., 13 men led by soldiers attacked the local opposition office at Jerera Growth Point, where some of those displaced by violence had sought a haven. At least two men were killed. The office was set afire with gasoline.

As one of survivor of the blaze, Isaac Mbanje, lay with maddening pain in a Harare hospital, skin peeling from his raw wounds and fluids seeping through the bandages on his charred hands, he described his ordeal.

One of the assailants ordered him: “Lie down! Keep quiet!” Then shots were fired from an AK-47. “One of the guys who was shot fell on my body,” Mr. Mbanje said. Then the attackers set both the dead and living alight.

Tichanzi Gandanga, the opposition’s director of elections in Harare, said he was abducted April 23 by men who blindfolded and gagged him and then thrust him into a truck. As the vehicle raced into the countryside, he was badly beaten and stripped before being dumped onto the road, where he was beaten and kicked and then, as he hovered near unconsciousness, run over.

The men attacking him were armed and could have shot him, Mr. Gandanga said. He is not sure why they left him alive, or even if they meant to.

“We had an election machinery with some important foot soldiers,” Mr. Gandanga said. “These soldiers were identified and eliminated.”

Opposition leaders assumed the carnage would stop once election observers arrived to monitor the vote. But that has hardly proved true.

Emmanuel Chiroto, 41, was elected to represent his ward in Harare. Fearful of attacks on his family, he sent his wife, Abigail, 27, and son, Ashley, 4, to stay with her mother outside the city. But on Sunday, fellow city councilors chose him as Harare’s mayor, and his proud wife came home the next day to celebrate, he said.

Soon after she arrived, he was called away because a ward chairman had been beaten up. While Mr. Chiroto was away, two truckloads of men firebombed his home and abducted his wife and child. Opposition party officials hurriedly contacted Tanki Mothae, a Lesotho native who is a key manager of the election monitors from the Southern African Development Community.

“The house was completely destroyed inside,” Mr. Mothae said in an interview. “The furniture, everything, was burned to ashes.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Chiroto’s little boy was dropped off at a police station. Wednesday, his wife’s battered body was found in a Harare morgue.

Mr. Chiroto still has not had the heart to tell Ashley that his mother is dead, he said. The boy told his father he had sat on his blindfolded mother’s lap as she was held captive and then he was left behind as soldiers took her away.

“We need to go get Mommy,” the 4-year-old has told his father over and over. “We have to go! She’s in the bush. Let’s go to Mommy!”

Mugabe Rival Quits Zimbabwe Runoff, Citing Attacks, Celia W. Dugger & Barry Bearak, June 23.

Men with sticks and iron bars beating unidentified victims Sunday at the site of a rally that had been planned by the main opposition party in Harare, Zimbabwe.

JOHANNESBURG — The leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition party withdrew Sunday from a presidential runoff, just five days before it was to be held, saying he could neither participate “in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process,” nor ask his voters to risk their lives in the face of threats from forces backing President Robert Mugabe.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition party leader, on Sunday.
The opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, the standard-bearer of the Movement for Democratic Change, said at a news conference in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, that his party was facing a war rather than an election, “and we will not be part of that war.”

A governing party militia blocked his supporters from attending a major rally in Harare on Sunday, the head of an election observer team said. The opposition said rowdy youths, armed with iron bars and sticks, beat up people who had come to cheer for Mr. Tsvangirai.

It was the latest incident in a tumultuous campaign season in which Mr. Tsvangirai has been repeatedly detained, his party’s chief strategist jailed on treason charges that many people consider bogus, and rampant state-sponsored violence has left at least 85 opposition supporters dead and thousands injured, according to tallies by doctors treating the victims.

Mr. Tsvangirai’s decision to quit the race seems intended to force Zimbabwe’s neighbors to take a stand. There are growing cracks in the solidarity that African heads of state have shown for Mr. Mugabe, an 84-year-old liberation hero whose defiant anti-Western rhetoric has long struck a resonant chord in a region with a bitter colonial history.

The United States and Britain are pressing to put Zimbabwe’s political crisis on the United Nations Security Council agenda on Monday, a step South Africa, the region’s most powerful nation, has consistently opposed.

Gordon D. Johndroe, the White House National Security Council spokesman, said in an e-mail message that the United States wants the United Nations to consider taking additional steps. “Mugabe cannot be allowed to repress the Zimbabwean people forever,” he said.

It remains to be seen whether southern Africa’s leaders will collectively censure Mr. Mugabe or take tougher steps, such as economic sanctions, to isolate his government. They have never done so before, despite elections in 2002 and 2005 that were widely believed to have been marked by rigging and fraud, but that his regional peers declared legitimate.

Marwick Khumalo, who heads the Pan-African Parliament’s observer team, which witnessed the aborted rally on Sunday, said it would be unfortunate if bodies representing African nations endorsed the current election. He said he had just returned from the Rusape District in Manicaland Province where the police chief told him six people, all from the opposition, had been killed.

“How can you have an election where people are killed and hacked to death as the sun goes down?” Mr. Khumalo asked. “How can you have an election where the leader of one party is not even allowed to conduct rallies?”

Nonetheless, Zimbabwe’s information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, told The Associated Press that the runoff would go forward on Friday despite Mr. Tsvangirai’s departure from the race.

“The Constitution does not say that if somebody drops out or decides to chicken out the runoff will not be held,” Mr. Ndlovu said.

Mr. Tsvangirai notified the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, the regional mediator in Zimbabwe’s crisis, of his withdrawal, Mr. Mbeki’s spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said, adding that Mr. Mbeki was encouraged that the candidate “is not closing the door on negotiations completely.” Mr. Ratshitanga declined to comment on the legitimacy of the current election.

There may yet be more twists in this saga. Zambia’s president, Levy Mwanawasa, a Mugabe critic and the chairman of the Southern African Development Community, the bloc of 14 nations that chose Mr. Mbeki as mediator, suggested to reporters in Lusaka, Zambia, that the election should be postponed “to avert a catastrophe in the region.”

And Mr. Tsvangirai kept open the possibility that he might re-enter the race in the extremely unlikely event that the United Nations or the African Union stepped in to end the violence by Wednesday, when he intends to announce his party’s next steps.

Mr. Mugabe, in power for 28 years, has made it difficult for his fellow African heads of state to pretend there is anything normal about this election. He has repeatedly declared at public rallies in recent days that he would never allow Mr. Tsvangirai, whom he denounces as a pawn of Britain, the former colonial power in Zimbabwe, to become president through the ballot box, vowing that the bullet is mightier than the ballpoint pen.

“Only God, who appointed me, will remove me, not the M.D.C., not the British,” Mr. Mugabe declared in the city of Bulawayo on Friday. “Only God will remove me!”

Mr. Tsvangirai defeated Mr. Mugabe in a general election on March 29 by 48 percent to 43 percent, according to the government’s count. The opposition claimed it had won a majority outright and that no runoff was needed.

The Movement for Democratic Change has a history of agonizing about whether to participate in elections it presumed would be unfair, and there have long been deep divisions within the party about how to proceed. This year, Mr. Tsvangirai reluctantly entered the race, though he argued that Mr. Mbeki, the mediator, had failed to ensure conditions for a fair contest.

Mr. Tsvangirai said earlier this year that, at a minimum, the election would reveal the ugly face of Mr. Mugabe’s despotic and economically disastrous reign. The opposition then vacillated about participating in the June 27 runoff, but finally decided to do so.

Opposition party leaders assumed that the ferocious violence against its supporters would abate once election observers from across Africa arrived, making it possible for them to campaign openly and mobilize their poll workers. Instead, Mr. Khumalo, the head of the team of election observers, said, “As the election was gaining momentum, so was the violence.”

In a decision that will be likely to disappoint some of his supporters, especially those who have paid a terrible price for backing him, Mr. Tsvangirai apparently decided the level of violence had become intolerable.

The party also concluded that the systematic campaign to displace thousands of its poll workers had been so effective in the three vote-rich Mashonaland provinces, where Mr. Tsvangirai made strong inroads into Mr. Mugabe’s support, that they would be unable to staff the polling stations on election day, leaving them open to ballot-box stuffing.

Mr. Tsvangirai, a charismatic former trade union leader who has been Mr. Mugabe’s hated rival for almost a decade, charged Sunday that the president’s violent, vengeful strategy had displaced 200,000 people, destroyed 20,000 homes and injured and maimed over 10,000 people in what he called “this orgy of violence.”

Sunday evening, downtown Harare was largely peaceful, with Mr. Tsvangirai’s supporters retreating home early, leaving the streets to pro-Mugabe brigades, chanting, “Win or war!”

Mugabe's Thugs Impose Reign of Terror in Zimbabwe, By Jan Puhl and Toby Selander, June 23.


Mugabe's Thugs Impose Reign of Terror in Zimbabwe.

Thugs loyal to dictator Robert Mugabe have spread fear across Zimbabwe, with brutal attacks and murders of opposition supporters. The spiral of violence has finally forced opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out of this Friday's run-off presidential election.

The water level in the Limpopo River is low these days, as it meanders along the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. Mpho, 24, stared down the crocodiles on its sandy banks as she waded across, her one-and-a-half year old daughter cradled in her arms.

After that, the three-meter high fence on the South African side of the border was hardly an obstacle at all. The former Apartheid-era government in Pretoria erected what had been an electric fence years ago. The white leadership wanted to keep resistance fighters from the rest of Africa from making it into South Africa. Today huge holes rent the barbed-wire barricade and more than 15,000 Zimbabweans make their way through every month.

Mpho made her way down the R572 highway between Pont Drift and Musina, carrying her daughter Patricia, clad in a yellow anorak, on her hip -- and looking for work. Even as mobs viciously attacked foreigners in many other parts of South Africa in recent weeks, in the northern part of the country there is a demand for immigrant labor. The white cotton fields shimmer under the sun awaiting harvest.

"In Zimbabwe I couldn’t get anything to eat for myself or my daughter. Anyone who can't show a membership card of the ruling Zanu-PF party is no longer served in the shops," Mpho says.

The long arm of Dictator Robert Mugabe has even extended to the tiny provincial town of Gendwa, the town Mpho had just fled. "We were forced to go to Zanu-PF rallies. If you didn’t go you were beaten up." Mugabe's thugs had warned that after the run-off presidential elections, scheduled for this Friday, the ballot boxes would be opened and by looking at the voting cards it would be possible to determine who voted for the opposition.

It is more than terror that is plaguing Zimbabwe, it is outright war. A war declared last weekend by Robert Mugabe. "We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for it," he said at the funeral of a former general. He wasn’t prepared to give up his country just because of a few ballots.

Zimbabweans were due to go to the polls this Friday to chose between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the run-off election. But with the level of intimidation running so high, the vote would have been a farce. Tsvangirai announced on Sunday that he was pulling out of the election hours after his party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), reported that its rally had been broken up by pro-Mugabe militia. "We in the MDC have resolved that we will no longer participate in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process," he told reporters in Harare.

Tsvangarai beat Mugabe in the first round of voting on March 29 but failed to win an absolute majority. He polled 48 percent compared to Mugabe's 43 percent, that despite a concerted effort by the ruling party to manipulate the poll. The MDC even managed to win the majority in the parliamentary elections.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years and was determined not to lose what may be the last election in his life. "The ruling party carried out an extraordinary campaign of violence," says Sydney Masamvu, expert at the International Crisis Group in Pretoria. In the end it seems to have worked. "We in the MDC cannot ask them (the voters) to cast their vote on June 27, when that vote could cost them their lives," Tsvangarai said, calling on the United Nations and the African Union to intervene.

It has long been highly dangerous to admit to being a Mugabe opponent, but in recent weeks it has been the equivalent to a death sentence. Women and children have not been spared as Mugabe's thugs have gone on a rampage, killing up to 80 people since the end of March, as well as beating up and injuring thousands more.

It is impossible for people to move about freely in the countryside. All the roads that cross the country are covered in a network of roadblocks where potential MDC supporters are dragged out of their cars or off buses. Simply not knowing the Zanu-PF song or declining to sing it is proof enough. Life in the capital Harare has also become grim. All official vehicles are covered in Mugabe posters, even bus drivers are forced to wear Mugabe t-shirts.

Even aside from the intensified political oppression, life under Mugabe has become a daily struggle. The rate of inflation has risen to a staggering 2 million percent, a liter of Coke has increased in price from 200 million Zimbabwean dollars to 1.4 billion in just one week. A kilogram of meat has jumped from 1.5 million to 7 million Zimbabwean dollars. Postponing grocery shopping by even half an hour, one newspaper calculated, could see the value of one's money reduced by half.

While during the day the capital is just about functioning, when darkness falls life becomes a nightmare for many. It has become so brutal and dangerous that for weeks many people have been leaving their homes and spending each night in a different place.

Even those few election observers that Mugabe allowed into the country, such as those with the Pan-African Parliament, have since voiced their alarm. When they travelled to Mhondoro, approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Harare, a few weeks ago they were confronted with the case of 29-year-old Dadirai Chipiro, whose husband is the local MDC chairman.

Dadirai was at home alone when Mugabe's thugs arrived. They descended on the woman, hacking off one of her feet and one of her arms, before setting fire to the dying woman in front of her house. "That was not isolated case," the shocked head of the delegation Marwick Khumalo said after his return to Harare.

It is part of a new strategy on the part of Mugabe's henchmen. Instead of just hunting MDC party officials, many of whom have gone underground, they are going after their family members as well. Last Monday, for example, they caught Abigal Chiroto, the 27-year-old wife of the newly elected MDC mayor of Harare, Emmanuel Chiroto, along with her four-year-old son. They set the house on fire and disappeared with the woman and child, before releasing the boy at a police station.

Abigal's body was found a few days later not far from her house. She still wore a blindfold and her body was so terribly battered that her brother-in-law could only identify her by her clothes and hair.

Even members of the MDC leadership have to fear for their lives. Tsvangirai has been repeatedly arrested and then released a few hours later. The MDC general secretary, Tendai Biti, who was detained upon his return from South Africa a few days ago, is to go on trial soon. He is charged with treason.

The plans for putting people like Biti away have been laid for some time. Last week the justice minister announced that the overfilled jails would be opened. He wanted to make room for "those who will be sentenced for acts of political violence."

The despot in Harare had been fully prepared for Friday's election. The police and military had been made to vote in advance -- in their barracks and under close supervision. "Our superior told us to vote for Mugabe whether we wanted to or not," one police officer from Bulawayo said. After the vote the head of the barracks checked all the ballot papers to make sure they were correct.

Mugabe has been able to rely on his military and security forces. The so-called Joint Operations Command, a group of uniformed hardliners, controls the apparatus of repression on his behalf. Zimbabwe's soldiers have plenty to lose and are afraid of what will happen after the dictator dies. South African President Thabo Mbeki, who last week made yet another half-hearted attempt to appeal to Mugabe's conscience, appears to have no influence at all on the growing crisis. His proposal, which foresaw the election being postponed and Mugabe and Tsvangirai being obliged to form a coalition government, fell on deaf ears. "In the Zanu-PF and in the military there is a wing which absolutely prefers violence and oppression," says Masamvu.

Experts in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries had long assumed that Mugabe would brutally force through his victory in the election. Tens of thousands of voters, especially in MDC strongholds, were displaced in recent weeks. Many of them had had their identity cards confiscated, and countless numbers were already so intimidated that they would have stayed home on election day even if Tsvangirai had not pulled out.

As for Mpho, she had been planning on setting off on the journey north once again, crawling back through the barbed wire and wading past the crocodiles in the Limpopo.

She wanted to support the MDC. "Zimbabwe needs a future," she said. "I owe that to myself and to my child -- even if it is dangerous." But now that the thugs have made it impossible for the opposition to contest the election, Mpho may have to stay in South Africa for some time to come.

Security Council Urges Zimbabwe to Halt Violence, Neil MacFarquhar & Celia W. Dugger, June 24.

UNITED NATIONS — With Zimbabwe’s opposition under siege and its leader taking refuge at the Dutch Embassy, the Security Council on Monday issued its first sweeping condemnation of the violence gripping the nation, saying it would be “impossible for a free and fair election to take place.”

Zimbabwe has been reeling from a widening campaign of violence and intimidation ever since Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president for nearly 30 years, came in second in the initial round of voting on March 29. On Sunday, only five days before a runoff, Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition standard-bearer, pulled out of the race, citing the extensive violence against his supporters.

Taking its first action on the crisis, the long-divided Council issued a one-page statement calling on the government of Zimbabwe to allow opposition rallies, which had been routinely blocked or canceled, and to free political prisoners.

“The Security Council regrets that the campaign of violence and the restrictions on the political opposition have made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place on 27 June,” said the statement.

Earlier in the day, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, sharply condemned the violence seizing the impoverished nation and took the unusual step of calling for the runoff to be postponed, saying a vote under the current conditions “would lack all legitimacy.”

“It will only deepen divisions within the country and produce a result that cannot be credible,” Mr. Ban said of the runoff, adding that he had spoken with “a number of African leaders” and found a consensus that it would be wrong to proceed with the vote. “There has been too much violence, too much intimidation,” he said.

As if to underscore the point, Mr. Tsvangirai, who has survived three assassination attempts, sought safety, though not political asylum, at the Dutch Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, on Sunday evening and remained there on Monday, Dutch officials said.

Mr. Tsvangirai’s closest aide, George Sibotshiwe, fled the country in fear for his life on Monday and the police raided the opposition party headquarters, rounding up dozens of people, including women, children and those injured in the recent political violence. Mr. Sibotshiwe arrived in Johannesburg, and in an interview shortly afterward said he saw four men armed with pistols approaching the door of his safe house on Sunday morning and only narrowly escaped capture.

The statement from the Security Council went through several drafts before it won the required unanimous acceptance of all 15 members. Britain led an effort, dominated by the West, to include the toughest language, while South Africa and allies including China and Russia pushed to dilute it somewhat.

Mr. Mugabe, however, has shown disdain for international criticism, so it remained unclear whether the Security Council’s statement would carry more weight in prompting his government to relax its oppressive measures than any previous condemnations from foreign leaders.

Boniface G. Chidyausiku, the United Nations ambassador from Zimbabwe, said that neither the statement from the Council nor the call by Mr. Ban to postpone the vote would affect the timing of the elections.

“The Security Council cannot micromanage elections in any particular country,” Mr. Chidyausiku told reporters. “As far as we are concerned, the date has been set.”

He accused Britain and its allies of pushing for “regime change” and said Mr. Tsvangirai’s decision to drop out of the election was a ploy to attract international sympathy. He also said the opposition in Zimbabwe was exaggerating the violence.

“These are M.D.C. tricks that should be seen for what they are,” he said in a speech, referring to the Movement for Democratic Change. “The British government’s hidden hand in all these political developments is evident and clearly visible.”

Sir John Sawers, the British ambassador to the United Nations, expressed astonishment that Zimbabwe could so readily dismiss the opinion of the Council. “I find that incredible,” he told reporters. “The actions of this regime are unpredictable, and they will pursue only those courses of action which are in their own self-serving interests.”

Mr. Mugabe may also face increasing pressure from his fellow heads of state in southern Africa. Foreign ministers from a regional bloc of 14 nations known as the Southern African Development Community met on Monday in Angola to discuss the crisis.

But the nations in the region have long been divided on the matter, and it is far from clear they will find enough common ground to act decisively. The president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, chosen by the 14-nation bloc as mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis, has maintained a strategy of quiet diplomacy, pushing for negotiations between Zimbabwe’s opposition and ruling parties, without criticizing Mr. Mugabe publicly.

In contrast, Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia have harshly condemned the repeated detention of Zimbabwean opposition leaders during the campaign, as well as the violence against opposition supporters.

South Africa had resisted efforts to bring Zimbabwe’s political woes before the Security Council, contending that they were a domestic matter, not an international one.

On Monday, the wrangling over the Council statement took most of the day.

Opponents of a tougher stance by the Council succeeded in quashing an attempt to say that without a second round of elections, Zimbabwe should rely on the results of the first round in March. In that election, Mr. Tsvangirai won more votes than Mr. Mugabe, but, according to the official government count, less than the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

The back-and-forth at the Security Council reflected the continuing debate over whether electoral crises constitute a threat to international peace and security, the main requirement for them to be taken up by the Council. The United States and others, including Mr. Ban, hold that they do, not least because of the humanitarian crisis caused by the Zimbabwean government’s decision to bar aid organizations from working in the country.

A paragraph expressing concern on the “grave” humanitarian situation and calling on Zimbabwe to let the organizations back in sailed through all the drafts unchanged.

Mr. Tsvangirai told a South African radio station that his party was prepared to negotiate with ZANU-PF, Mr. Mugabe’s governing party, but said that first the violence must stop.

Jendayi E. Frazer, the American assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said in an interview on Monday that adding a mediator whom Mr. Tsvangirai trusts would be helpful, but she said that Mr. Mugabe had voiced no interest in talks.

“It’s going to require an international push to prevent a civil war,” she said.

Many opposition officials and civic leaders in Zimbabwe fear that the violence may well get worse in coming days. The country’s only daily newspaper, The Herald, a state-owned organ, did not even report on Monday that Mr. Tsvangirai had withdrawn from the contest.

Instead, it quoted Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of Zimbabwe’s Defense Forces, who governing party insiders say is a key actor in the campaign of terror against the opposition, boasting that Mr. Mugabe would romp to victory over Mr. Tsvangirai.

Officials at the opposition’s headquarters in Harare said they had received a tip that there would be a raid on Monday morning and most of the 1,500 people who had sought refuge there from the violence ran away.

By the time a busload of more than 30 riot police officers arrived, only a few dozen of the most helpless people, many of them wounded, were left. They were hustled onto a bus and taken away, opposition security officials said.

Zimbabwe's Aborted Election - Mbeki must act, Globe Editorial, June 24.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is expected to travel to Zimbabwe today to seek a negotiated settlement between the country's despotic ruler, Robert Mugabe, and its rightful president, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. As the leader of the regional superpower and a self-described honest broker, you would think that Mr. Mbeki's intervention would be welcome. In fact, Mr. Mugabe in his incarnation of recent decades as a tyrant is as much Mr. Mbeki's creation as anyone's.

The South African president has served as an enabler for Mr. Mugabe, and as such has proved to be a destructive, not a helpful, force in the region. Mr. Mbeki has provided Mr. Mugabe cover, blaming Western sanctions, and not Mr. Mugabe's corrupt and racist economic policies, for the country's economic decline. As recently as April, he declared that there was no political crisis in Zimbabwe. Mr. Tsvangirai has called on him to stop his "quiet support for the dictatorship."

There is a possibility that Mr. Mbeki has grown tired of the charade and is finally ready to do what should have been done years ago, that is, to demand Mr. Mugabe's exit, using South Africa's economic and military clout to back it up. But it is more likely his latest foray is, as has been the pattern, designed to buy Mr. Mugabe and his cronies more time in which to destroy Zimbabwe's economy and institutions.

Even against a backdrop of voter intimidation and vote rigging, Mr. Tsvangirai won the first round of Zimbabwe's presidential election. He has been forced, however, to withdraw from the second round, and has taken refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare, fearing for his own safety. Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF thugs, in collusion with police, have killed 80 officials and supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change, assaulted MDC candidates and terrified voters. The vote is, as Mr. Tsvangirai accurately put it, "a violent, illegitimate sham."

Yet Mr. Mbeki is purportedly seeking an accommodation that would allow for a government of national unity. Any such agreement would only serve the interests of Mr. Mugabe and his security apparatus. It would serve to perpetuate their rule in some form, in effect rewarding and giving international sanction to Mr. Mugabe's unlawful effort to steal the election.

Britain has a better solution. British diplomats were reported yesterday to be circulating a draft UN resolution that would declare that, in the absence of a fair second round of voting, the result of the first round be made binding with Mr. Tsvangirai being recognized by the international community as president. At any meeting with Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Mbeki should declare South Africa's support for this resolution and its readiness to take such measures as are necessary to give it effect.