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The hardest book to review is the book that touches you personally and this is such a book. To do it justice, yet not let my emotions overwhelm my response, was… impossible. So I have decided to start with the most objective opinion I can manage and then go on to write about my personal feelings.
The book is Without Honour, by Robb W J Ellis.
A simple grey cover, straightforward and unassuming… rather like the author. This is a true story. It is written by a man who was, at the time of writing, a very young hope-filled policeman in the equally very young newly independent country of Zimbabwe.
Robb Ellis writes as he was (and still is at heart) – a policeman. His observations are precisely written, just like a good police report. It makes for a clear, and surprisingly objective, account of his most deeply personal experiences.
“When I decided, at a tender age, that I wanted to be a policeman in Africa, I wanted to do it amongst the people I knew and loved – Zimbabweans. I had visions of a classic police role – someone who investigates crime and corrects the wrongdoings of the criminally minded.
Wow! Was I in for a rude awakening!”
Without Honour is not a book that automatically grips you on the first page. Being a precise sensible sort, Robb starts with a chapter explaining the history of the country and the politics of that time. If you know most of this, as I do, it was a little redundant and dry, but it is a very necessary reference chapter for anyone who does not know the full history of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe. It also sets the stage for the appalling events that followed Zimbabwe’s Independence.
From there Robb describes his childhood in Rhodesia before going on to write about his brief time as a policeman in Zimbabwe – ‘brief’ due to… well you need to read it and find out. It’s a tale that reads like a movie, complete with the shocking twist-in-the-tale ending, except this is a true story about genuine events.
How would I sum up this book? I’d say it is:
A clear honest account of a period in time when a country turned inwards and ate itself alive.
Robb wanted to make the world a better place… instead he found himself caught up in an insanity that nearly cost him his life and most certainly left deep and irreparable scars on his soul. As he puts it:
“The story that you are about to read is fact. I was there and it happened around me, and to me. It is all true. It can’t be fiction – a story like this can never be made up. It’s too convoluted, too personal, too destructive – too real…
It took something deep inside of me to even start writing this book.
… And it hurt to write this – mentally.”
I can only imagine how it felt to live this story.  It hurt to read it – I wept through most of it. I don’t know if you will weep too. Our world has become overloaded and numbed to war atrocities on TV news, but for me this isn’t a story you see on the TV and say, “How terrible” as you switch channels. This happened to a man my age who grew up in the same country as me; he worked in and around the city where I was born. This is where my family roots are and the chance that I, or my family, knew people involved in these times is not only possible… it is inevitable.
Even trying to pick a few quotes from the book I ended up crying again.
“The terrible stench of burned human flesh filled the air. Not a smell you would want to smell everyday, but one which once you would easily identify again, should you have that terrible privilege.
The remains of the hut were still smouldering. The bodies within were all melded together, their burnt limbs outstretched as if accusing the living of not doing more to save them. Small bodies. Grotesquely misshapen in a final dance with death… Ugly…
Facial expressions reflecting the final moments of life… Glaring empty eye sockets, questioning why…
How do you handle something like that? What do you do?
I had discovered in my relatively short time in the Police that the best way to handle scenes like this was to busy myself with anything and everything else – not to allow my mind to stop and think.
Don’t stop. Keep going. The dead don’t mind.
But they do. And they ask questions every time you allow your mind to venture back to that day. Why weren’t you there to stop them? What did you do to help?”
Robb was 19 when he witnessed these events. He wrote them down in reports that would be quietly removed from all records… because these events were commanded by the bright new president himself, Robert Mugabe.
Robb began to realise that he was tracking the actions of an elite government-approved brigade of mercenaries rather than random acts of violence… and with that understanding came the new fear of being someone who knows his own government is now his enemy. How that came to a climax is quite surreal and terrifying.
This is a frightening book and it contains descriptions of war crimes that are definitely not for the sensitive. There are details in here that will haunt you, but to leave them out is to deny these people any justice or voice. Robb has given them his voice and continues to be a voice for Zimbabwe.
I am honoured to know him.

A Zimbabwean writer and academic this week said President Robert Mugabe was worse than Ian Smith.

Launching his book, “When a State Turns Against Its Citizens; Institutionalized Violence and Political Culture”, in Johannesburg, Zimbabwean academic and writer, Lloyd Sachikonye, even gave a plus to the Smith regime for allowing the dawn of a new era in Zimbabwe after the historic 1980 elections, something that Mugabe refused to do when he lost to Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008.

“The main problem we have had is that when everyone was focussed on attaining independence, no one paid attention to the need for a proper transformation that would have changed the system of governance in the new country, which the ruling elite have manipulated to suppress the will of the people and all other personal freedoms”

The University of Zimbabwe lecturer said that Mugabe built a wall around himself by appointing to key security positions people that fought in ZANU PF’s military wing – ZANLA during the liberation struggle.

“These people have been close to one another since the war of liberation and to them, the state and the party (ZANU PF) are seen as one.”

Sachikonye’s book details Zimbabwe’s pre and post independence political violence, specialising in institutionalised violence sanctioned by the state.

The 104-page book traces the roots of Zimbabwe’s contemporary violence to the actions of the Rhodesian armed forces, and the inter-party conflicts that occurred during the liberation war.

However, much of the author’s focus is the period since 2000, which has seen state-sponsored violence erupting in election campaigns and throughout the programme of fast-track land reform.

This is the period when – fearing for his lack of popularity against a then newly-formed MDC, President Robert Mugabe launched a tirade against Zimbabweans by first expropriating productive land owned by mainly white commercial farmers, whom he accused of sponsoring the new party.

(Source)

The MDC dismisses as malicious and unfounded State media reports that President Morgan Tsvangirai was yesterday set to address MDC youths and rank Marshalls at the Harare City Council’s Town House resulting in the police sealing off the place.

Fictitious news items published by The Herald and broadcast by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation last night and today are a clear reflection of Zanu PF’s desperation to distance itself from its lawless elements, who taking advantage of police partisanship, to cause mayhem in Harare’s high density suburbs and at the city council’s Town House offices almost on a daily basis.

If the role of the media in a civilised society requires that they provide a first draft of a nation’s history, then the audacity and insincerity of the State media to openly manufacture falsehoods in a forlorn attempt to defame President Tsvangirai and to smear the MDC shows their dismal failure to serve the nation.

The State media sector has scaled heights in believing in their own and Zanu PF lies. For the record, President Tsvangirai, as per schedule, spent his time at work at the party’s headquarters, Harvest House, and never planned to visit and meet with anyone.

Business came to a halt at the Town House and surrounding areas yesterday because Zanu PF youths, visible in their Zanu PF T-shirts, besieged Town House for unexplained reasons.  Instead of being charged for disrupting the council’s legitimate business, the police assigned a riot unit to simply block them from entering the premises. No arrests were made even when it was clear that a crime was committed in the full view of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

The Herald and ZBC refused to see Zanu PF hoodlums for who they were. Instead, they hatched a poor media spin and blamed President Tsvangirai and the MDC for the actions of thugs from the former ruling party’s stable. From experience, Zimbabweans know that if the MDC youths had assembled at Town House or anywhere in Zimbabwe without express authority, riot police would have descended onto them with lightning speed, beat them to the pulp and driven them into police cells. There is no way that President Tsvangirai or the MDC will abuse council offices which are under the control of the party to meet rank marshals.  For many years, that kind of behaviour has been associated with Zanu PF.

The MDC is a Party of Excellence and will never engage in any form of violence. However, no amount of The Herald’s propaganda will camouflage the drama that took place at the Town House yesterday and last month as it happened before hundreds of Harare residents and council workers. Further, it is not a secret that Zanu PF has never denied its involvement in these disruptive activities.

The MDC restates its position that the doomsday cults and authors of disorder in Zanu PF will not stop the national project of bringing real change to the people of Zimbabwe.

(Source)

Addendum: By inserting the letter ‘r’ into the last word of the headline, we would be further able to comprehend the result of the manufactured stories by The Herald and the national radio and television broadcaster.

MDC Press Statement on the state of the party, the Congress, the organizational thrust and direction for the year 2011

Harvest House

22 January 2011

Introduction

The MDC National Executive met today and discussed a report on Congress preparation and progress, national issues of concern to the people of Zimbabwe, in particular the fuel crisis and the plight of the civil servants and the state of the party. The party noted the report from the President and the Secretary-General on the state of the party, the Congress, the organizational thrust and direction for the year 2011.

The President highlighted that the year 2011 is a turning point and a year of elevation, not only because it is the last mile in our journey to a new Zimbabwe and real change. He said our Congress in May will confirm that democracy is our totem, our culture and the very fabric of our existence. Further, he emphasized that we must demonstrate that we are worthy of the support the people continue to bestow upon the people’s party of excellence, the MDC.

This Congress will prove that we are the real solution to this temporary government. The President said indeed, our Congress will confirm that we are true democrats; that the democracy we crave for is at the core of our values and that it defines us as the MDC. The Congress will showcase the MDC character-the character of peace, vibrancy, transparency, solidarity, accountability and unity. The Congress will demonstrate that we are a united family of true democrats and that anyone is free to contest for any position.

We are a party that does its business without intimidation, coercion, violence or bribery. Corruption and other vices are alien to the MDC character. Our Congress will consolidate our gains and challenges of the past five years and send a clear message that we remain the true repository of the hopes and aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe. The MDC is the only game in town for real change for the people of Zimbabwe.

The Secretary-General presented a report on preparatory Committees, processes and timelines of the Congress. Further, the Secretary-General presented a special code of conduct that will guide MDC members in voting and being voted for during the period of our glorious internal democratic process. More importantly, the national executive deliberated extensively on the GPA and the inclusive government, the fears of floods, the fuel crisis, power shortages and the welfare of the civil servants.

The welfare of the civil servants

The National Executive expressed its sympathy and solidarity with civil servants in particular and workers in general over their conditions of service. At the core of our being as the MDC is the fabric of the right to strike and demand a decent living wage. In this regard, the plight of civil servants is a matter of national emergency. However, the Executive noted the destructive role being played by the Zanu PF side of the inclusive government in the quest to redress the concerns of the civil servants.

The Executive further noted the lack of accountability in the management of the proceeds from the sale of diamonds in Chiadzwa to address the plight of the civil servants. The Executive called for all the proceeds from the sale of diamonds to be channelled towards the civil servants and not to line private pockets as is currently the case. The Executive also called for the immediate action on all ghost workers, Zanu PF functionaries smuggled into civil service as youth and women officers in every ward in the country. Further, the Executive called for the release of the Public Service audit without delay as well the immediate cessation of all new recruitments of soldiers and other civil servants until the plight of the existing civil service is addressed.

Fuel and power shortages

The National Executive noted that three decades of Zanu PF corruption and mismanagement of the economy was at the centre of the current challenges of fuel and power. The Executive called on the inclusive government to immediately find permanent and sustainable solutions to the aforesaid challenges to mitigate the plight of Zimbabweans.

Floods

The Executive noted the danger posed by the possibility of floods in some parts of the country and called on actors in government to put in place mechanisms and plans to keep people out of danger in all the areas likely to be affected.

Committing our country and our party to God.

(Source: electronic via Skype)

United Kingdom newspaper The Guardian was forced to publish an embarrassing clarification on Tuesday after an article in its Comment is Free section heavily criticised WikiLeaks for publishing a US embassy cable that was put in the public domain by the newspaper.

The 2009 cable shows that the prime minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai met with American and European ambassadors, whose countries had imposed travel sanctions and asset freezes on the country’s president Robert Mugabe and his top political lieutenants, and private agreed with them that the sanctions should remain in place.

Tsvangirai’s private discussions over the sanctions could leave him open to being charged with treason and, if convicted, sentenced to death.

The original Guardian article, written by former Republican National Committee communications manager James Richardson, claims that: “WikiLeaks may have committed its own collateral murder, upending the precarious balance of power in a fragile African state and signing the death warrant of its pro-western premier.”

But the Guardian was forced to later admit that the cable “was placed in the public domain by the Guardian, and not, as originally implied, by WikiLeaks”.

The headline of the article has been amended from “WikiLeaks’ collateral damage in Zimbabwe” to “US cable leaks’ collateral damage in Zimbabwe” and the image caption has also been amended.

But the main body of the article still includes numerous strong criticisms of WikiLeaks over the publication:

And so, where Mugabe’s strong-arming, torture and assassination attempts have failed to eliminate the leading figure of Zimbabwe’s democratic opposition, WikiLeaks may yet succeed …

Before more political carnage is wrought and more blood spilled – in Africa and elsewhere, with special concern for those US-sympathising Afghans fingered in its last war document dump – WikiLeaks ought to leave international relations to those who understand it – at least to those who understand the value of a life.

(Source)

A country’s decision to seek revenge or reconcile with a turbulent past is a subject so vast that sometimes people forget to ask the victims, says Peter Godwin, a former foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times and author of The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe.

Speaking at the Maldives Hay Festival, held recently on the Presidential Retreat of Aarah, Godwin spoke about his own upbringing in Zimbabwe as “a white kid in black Africa”, and the country’s descent into dictatorship under President Robert Mugabe.

Godwin grew up in a remote corner of the country, then white-ruled, where his mother worked as a district doctor and often travelled to tribal areas.

“It was a very strange existence. We lived a culturally schizophrenic life – we were living in tropical Africa but would still send Christmas cards with holly and snowmen that we had never seen. It must have been the same for the last of the Anglo-Indians, where you have this other culture over the sea which you are increasingly distant from but yet you are not indigenous to that place.”

With an average lifespan of just 36 years old, people lived in a way that was much more immediate, Godwin noticed later, after having lived in the UK, “as perhaps you do when you don’t have the expectation that you’re going to live for a long time.”

“It struck me that in a city like London the weight of history was palpable – you are surrounded by huge old buildings and statues carrying this great weight of history. People live through the lense of that history – in Africa it was as if people were living much more lightly, without that sense of retrospective.”

In his late teens Godwin was conscripted to fight in Zimbabwe’s emerging war for independence – “fighting on the wrong side of a losing war,” as he describes it.

“By weird coincidence the first white person killed in that war was our next-door neighbour. He was ambushed by one of the first guerrilla attacks in the early 1960s – my mother was the attending doctor.”

Boys were conscripted but you could get a pass to delay your service for university. In was common among the small number of liberal white families to go to university abroad and not come back, Godwin explains, as sit out the war elsewhere.

“That was what I intended to do, but during my last year of school they changed the law and I found myself conscripted in a shooting war.”

It was a “very strange” experience to find oneself in combat, he says. “It’s very difficult to describe what it is like to anyone who hasn’t been through that training. You spend 4-5 months training very intensively with the expectation that you going to a war, so when you finally do it feels completely normal by that stage.

“You become a ‘technician’ of war. You see it when soldiers are interviewed in places like Afghanistan. They are almost disappointed if they don’t see action. Training without going to war is like endlessly rehearsing a play, but never being able to put it on.”

Eventually Godwin was given leave by the army to attend university at Cambridge in the UK.

“It was a very sudden decision,” he says. “I arrived to do law at Cambridge literally shell-shocked, having been in combat that week. I arrived feeling like a bushboy, having not really read a book for years. I remember wondering how I was going to survive socially and intellectually, surrounded by all these English who seemed very bright, educated and articulate. I felt antediluvian by comparison.”

Life became harder when UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came to power and cut back on scholarships, with the result that Godwin found himself without a means of financial support.

“Working while studying wasn’t a tradition of students in those days. I found a job at a mental hospital in a village outside Cambridge, working as a shift hand, and I would tell my friends I was going to a party in the country on the weekend.”

The nurses eventually realised that Godwin was a student, and confided with him that there was one patient who had been a law professor before he went mad, but still had periods of being lucid.”

“So they would beep me when he was lucid, and I would run to room and do law tutorials.”

‘Catch and release’

The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe was an accidental book Godwin had never intended to write.

In 2008 Robert Mugabe lost his own election.

“It’s uncanny how similar oppressive regimes are,” Godwin observes. “Mugabe had elections but they weren’t real elections – there were 100,000 votes from people over 100 years old in a country with the lowest life expectancy in the world, for instance.”

Mugabe however had underestimated his populace and and it became apparent “that the vote against him was so overwhelming he not stuffed enough ballot boxes.”

Godwin’s book was to be written “dancing on Mugabe’s political grave”, but shortly after he arrived the country’s politburo decided they couldn’t concede.

“So they launched a second round, and during those six weeks Mugabe essentially launched a war against his own people. They set up network of torture bases in schools – turned the schools into torture chambers. Then they called in people who supported the opposition and tortured them very severely.”

The victims were released back into their own communities, giving rise to the description of that period: ‘The Fear’.

“It was ‘smart genocide’,” explains Godwin. “You don’t have to kill 800,000 people, like in Rwanda. If you kill the right few hundred people and torture the rest – to use an angling term, on a ‘catch and release’ basis – they go home and become human billboards, advertisements for political stigmata.”

Sneaking into hospitals and interviewing victims, at the time Godwin found it difficult to figure out what was really going on. But the picture eventually emerged: “This wasn’t spontaneous violence – this was planned, top-down hierarchical violence.”

Silence of the many

“There’s a fascinating study by a US NGO called Genocide Watch, which found that it is only ever a tiny number of people who participate in a genocide – there’s a few people who support but don’t participate, and a vast number of people who don’t do anything at all,” Godwin says.

“Ordinary people often don’t see themselves as morally compromised, but nudge a few of them and you can stop genocide.”

Nobody intervened to prevent Zimbabwe’s slide into chaos “because it lacks the two crucial exports that trigger intervention – terrorism and oil,” Godwin suggests.

Zimbabwe was not strategically important, “but it is important for what it represents,” he says.

“Zimbabwe was always held up as the great African success story, a country with a long life span, high literacy, efficient and not particularly corrupt. People would say: ‘yes, Africa can work.’ It was held up as a counterpoint to places like the Congo.”

When Zimbabwe went wrong, “it was a tragedy for the whole continent”, says Godwin.

Mugabe was the head of a guerrilla war, and dominated the national stage for so long he developed a Messiah complex which made it difficult for people to judge what the country would be like without him.”

The book thus became in some ways a study of tyranny, “and how it is that these sorts of repressive authoritarian regimes start and what it takes for them to survive – and how ordinary people facilitate them.”

Ventilate

A big problem with dictatorships, Godwin notes, are “that they are not very good at transitioning.”

“If you have leader hogging the limelight for 28 years and they suddenly disappear, it’s quite possible that things will get worse in the short run; there may be violence between competing factions, and it is very volatile.”

There also exists the problem of what to do about transitional justice – a vast subject falling between the two clashing camps of ‘revenge’ and ‘reconciliation’, and mired in shades of grey.

“You can listen to each argument and be convinced by it,” says Godwin. “I think it is one of those things where have to look at each case separately. But the thing never works is not doing anything about it: moving on and pretending it hasn’t happened. Because that is one of the things that has gone wrong in Zimbabwe.

“It has festered. You can feel the people seething. And the weird thing is that the children of the people killed and tortured are even more taken up with the cause than the parents. It doesn’t fade away – it magnifies with the passing of generations.”

This takes the emphasis of the decision away from the victims, argues Godwin.

“It’s very counterintuitive. The victims, who were put in jail and tortured – the main victims who suffered during the authoritarian rule of a repressive regime. These people have the inherent right to decide what to do.

“You would imagine that these people would be the most radical, but a curious thing happens. In my experience – and I’m not alone, it’s shared by a lot of NGOs – the main thing that people who have been through the firing line want is acknowledgement. Not an ‘eye-for-an-eye’, just acknowledgement. The further you get away from the actual victims, the more radical you get. The people who didn’t risk their own lives in opposition – they don’t have the authenticity of victimhood. “

What countries grappling with the enormity of such problems have to do “is ventilate”, suggests Godwin.

“You have to bring it into the mainstream. You have to bring it into public debate. You have to basically talk it through. It’s weird that the solution turns out to be the ventilation of it, as it is acknowledged in the media and public discourse, and ultimately in the way people write their own history.”

(Source)

Globalisation has made military intervention in rogue regimes overseas more necessary than ever, Tony Blair argues in his memoirs. Not toppling Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, is one regret voiced by the former prime minister.

His belief that Iran needs to be confronted in its nuclear ambitions and as a last resort prevented by force shines through. The experience of Iraq and Afghanistan has not diminished his commitment to taking on opponents.

His appetite for international affairs, he admits, has been sharpened by his role as a mediator in the Middle East. “Personally I have never felt a greater sense of frustration or indeed a greater urge to leadership,” he writes in his postscript.

But it was the Balkans that formed the crucible for his new policy of liberal interventionism. “My awakening over foreign policy was… abrupt,” he explains. “It happened over Kosovo.”

Distinctions between foreign and domestic policy are breaking down as consequence of globalisation, he maintains. Television news beams foreign crises into every living room. “The world [is] interconnected not just economically or in self-interest but emotionally, the heart as well as the head.”

Looking back he admits he was surprised: “The 1997 campaign was fought almost exclusively on a domestic policy basis. If you had told me on that bright May morning as I first went blinking into Downing Street that during my time in office I would commit Britain to fight four wars, I would have been bewildered and horrified.”

Foreign policy based on “narrow self-interest” is outdated, he asserts. “Global alliances [have to] be … based on shared global values.” That realisation has resulted in the undermining of the old political divisions of left and right.

“We ended up in the bizarre position where being in favour of the enforcement of liberal democracy was a ‘neoconservative’ view and non-interference in another nation’s affairs was ‘progressive’.”

Kosovo was his first test. The “ethnic cleansing” and killings “completely changed my own attitude to foreign policy”, he admits. While Europe stalled, in favour of pacification rather than resolution, Blair was “extraordinarily forward in advocating a military solution”.

He persuaded Bill Clinton, the US president, he suggests, to take part in aerial bombardments even though there was no direct US interest in the region. “I saw it essentially as a moral issue. And that, in a sense, came to define my view on foreign and military intervention.”

Clinton, he says, was “the most formidable politician I had ever encountered”. He exults in their close political empathy, describing them on one occasion working US crowds “like two old music hall queens”.

Many opposed Blair. He compresses their counter-arguments. “Beginning wars is relatively easy; it’s ending them that’s hard. Innocent people die; unintended consequences develop; bad situations can be made worse.”

On the range of his military targets, he comments: “People often used to say to me: If you got rid of the gangsters in Sierra Leone, [Slobodan] MiloÅ¡ević, the Taliban and Saddam, why can’t you get rid of Mugabe? The answer is I would have loved to, but it wasn’t practical (since, in his case, and for reasons I never quite understood, the surrounding African nations maintained a lingering support for him and would have opposed any action strenuously).”

Over Kosovo, Blair recounts how he tried to “stoke up concern” with other European leaders. Kosovo became the template for his subsequent military interventions. His close relationship with and affection for his generals is a recurring theme.

“The leader has to decide whether the objective is worth the cost,” he states. “What’s more, he or she must do so unsure of what the exact cost might be or the exact price of failing to meet the objective… In this context, by the way, indecision is also decision… Omission and commission both have consequences.”

The expedition to restore democracy to Sierra Leone in 2000, Blair says, “is one of the least discussed episodes of my 10 years as prime minister, but it’s one of the things of which I am most proud.” His father used to teach at Freetown University in the African nation’s capital.

The former prime minister’s discussion of his early foreign adventures contain remarkably few references to United Nations resolutions or international law, considering he is a lawyer by training.

In one passage he comes curiously close to expressing a sneaking admiration for the bold action of the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917 rather than Kerensky’s social democrat government.

Seeking to systematise his theory of foreign interventions in regimes that are “oppressive or dictatorial”, he writes: “They may pose no outside or external threat; or it may be easily contained diplomatically. It may – as with Mugabe – be impractical to intervene.”

A judgment has to be made. “If change will not come by evolution, should it be done by revolution? Should those who have the military power contemplate doing so?”

On Iraq, he insists that he never regarded those who opposed war in Iraq as “stupid or weak-minded”.

About 9/11, he concedes that: “I misunderstood the depth of the challenge… If I had known then that a decade later we would still be fighting in Afghanistan, I would have been profoundly disturbed. I hope I would have still taken the same decision, both there and in respect of Iraq.”

Blair is uncompromising in the face of the dangers he perceives in Tehran, discussing them in the context of the growing danger that terrorists will obtain nuclear weapons. “It is America that leads the challenge to Iran and its nuclear ambitions,” he says. “But let us be frank: Iran is a far more immediate threat to its Arab neighbours than it is to America… That’s why Iran matters. Iran with a nuclear bomb would mean others in the region acquiring the same capability; it would dramatically alter the balance of power in the region, but also within Islam.”

In his interview with the Guardian, he declared: “I wouldn’t take the risk of Iran with a nuclear weapon.”

Speaking to Andrew Marr in a BBC interview to be broadcast in full tonight, Blair says: “I think it is wholly unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapons capability and I think we have got to be prepared to confront them, if necessary militarily. I think there is no alternative to that if they continue to develop nuclear weapons. They need to get that message loud and clear.”

(Source)

Zimbabweans have welcomed the call by the MDC president and Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Dr Morgan Tsvangirai and the other two Principals to the GPA to shun violence ahead of the constitution outreach programme. The call was made yesterday during the launch of the constitution outreach programme in Harare.

In Mashonaland Central, well-wishers have assisted in unveiling tombstones on the graves of seven slain MDC activists who were murdered in Muzarabani North and South during the post-29 March 2008 violence instigated by Zanu PF. The bereaved families unveiled tombstones and also held memorial services for the deceased. An MDC activist, Kudzanai Matambazika of Mutoko East in Mashonaland East province was on Monday sentenced to three months in prison by a Mutoko magistrate after he attempted to recover his livestock that was looted by Zanu PF thugs in 2008.

The MDC MP for Makoni South, Hon Pishayi Muchauraya encouraged parents to bring their children during the constitution consultations to be held in various areas so that they also contribute. Speaking during the commemorations of the Day of the African Child held at Meikles park in Mutare on Wednesday, Hon Muchauraya said that children’s rights needed to be enshrined in the constitution and the children should participate so that their views and opinion are taken on board.

Meanwhile, several students were arrested on Wednesday as they commemorated the day of the African Child at the University of Zimbabwe. In Midlands North, an MDC councillor in Gokwe ward 3,Onias Tangwara, was assaulted by elders of the Johane Marange sect on Sunday in front of the congregation and had to be hospitalised. A prophet, Isaac Chohokari allegedly said the spirit had instructed him to tell all MDC supporters that they are not welcome to the Johane Marange sect and had to beat the MDC councillor so that he stops attending their church.

MDC Information & Publicity Department

Harvest House

44 Nelson Mandela Ave

Harare
Zimbabwe
Tel: 00263 4 793 250


Together to the end, marching to a new Zimbabwe

The Changing Times is the official mouthpiece of the Movement for Democratic Change.

(Source: via email)

A novel by Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah has been nominated for the prestigious annual Orwell Prize awarded to the best writers of political books, APA learnt here Monday.

Gappah’s book, titled An Elegy for Easterly, is among six novels short-listed for the British award for political writing.

The book chronicles the resilience and inventiveness of Zimbabweans who struggle to survive under the weight of economic hardships and persecution under Robert Mugabe’s regime.

Also nominated is Scottish author Andrea Gilles for her book, The Keeper, and British journalist Christopher de Bellaigue who wrote the novel, Rebel Land : Among Turkey’s Forgotten Peoples.

Others on the shortlist are British writers John Kampfner, Kenan Malik and Michela Wrong for their books Freedom For Sale : How We Made Money and Lost Our Liberty, From Fatwa to Jihad : The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy, and It’s Our Turn To Eat : The Story of a Kenyan Whistle Blower, respectively.

The winners of the £3,000 prize in each of three categories ; books, blogging and journalism, will be announced on 19 May.

The Orwell Prize is awarded to journalists and authors who take political writing beyond just mundane analyses and opinions and into the realm of an art form.

(Source)

Dear Family and Friends,

I am delighted to be able to tell you that my new book: “Innocent Victims,” has just been published by Merlin Unwin Books in the UK.  

Innocent Victims is the story of  how Meryl Harrison rescued thousands of animals stranded on farms during Zimbabwe’s land invasions. In her sixties and with a heart condition, Meryl travelled with one or two young SPCA Inspectors and together they faced mobs of men who were often drugged or drunk and almost always armed with weapons ranging from sticks and stones to guns, knives and whips. Meryl drove thousands of kilometres to remote and abandoned farms; she and her colleagues went into “no –go areas” and faced war veterans, secret police, army and youth militia; they dismantled road barricades and went to places which even the Police said were dangerous and unsafe. There wasn’t an animal too big, small, slippery or furry for Meryl and she rescued cats, dogs and goldfish. She and her team caught pigs, sheep, cows, goats and chickens. They saved horses and ponies, duikers and sable antelope and intervened on behalf of lions, hippos and ostriches.

For some the heart of Innocent Victims will be in Marmalade, the cat rescued from under the bath; for others it may be in Bokkie, the dog on Roy and Heather Bennett’s farm who won an award for “his exceptional bravery and loyalty to his owner and his family and his courageous action that saved their lives.” Or maybe it will be the little un-named piglet which Meryl  popped onto the floor of her truck while mobs of men raged, shouted and threatened all around her.

All of the stories in Innocent Victims are the original first hand accounts taken from Meryl’s personal diaries. Some of the rescues are gruesome and heartbreaking but others tell of great courage, ingenuity and joyous reunions. All tell of the extraordinary dedication and deep passion shown by one woman for the lives of many thousands of animals. Innocent Victims is the story of an unsung and reluctant hero in Zimbabwe’s darkest of times.

Innocent Victims can be ordered from my website: www.cathybuckle.com or from the publishers at: www.merlinunwin.co.uk .

Thank you for your support of my writing and for reading this letter.

Love

Cathy.

(Website)

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