About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

A sampling of recent New York Times articles

February 7, 2007
As Inflation Soars, Zimbabwe Economy Plunges

By MICHAEL WINES

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 6 - For close to seven years, Zimbabwe's economy and quality of life have been in slow, uninterrupted decline. They are still declining this year, people there say, with one notable difference: the pace is no longer so slow.

Indeed, Zimbabwe's economic descent has picked up so much speed that President Robert G. Mugabe, the nation's leader for 27 years, is starting to lose support from parts of his own party.

In recent weeks, the national power authority has warned of a collapse of electrical service. A breakdown in water treatment has set off a new outbreak of cholera in the capital, Harare. All public services were cut off in Marondera, a regional capital of 50,000 in eastern Zimbabwe, after the city ran out of money to fix broken equipment. In Chitungwiza, just south of Harare, electricity is supplied only four days a week.

The government awarded all civil servants a 300 percent raise two weeks ago. But the increase is only a fraction of the inflation rate, so the nation's 110,000 teachers are staging a work slowdown for more money. Measured by the black-market value of Zimbabwe's ragtag currency, even their new salaries total less than 60 American dollars a month.

Doctors and nurses have been on strike for five weeks, seeking a pay increase of nearly 9,000 percent, and health care is all but nonexistent. Harare's police chief warned in a recently leaked memo that if rank-and-file officers did not get a substantial raise, they might riot.

In the past eight months, "there's been a huge collapse in living standards," Iden Wetherell, the editor of the weekly newspaper Zimbabwe Independent said in a telephone interview, "and also a deterioration in the infrastructure - in standards of health care, in education. There's a sort of sense that things are plunging."

Mr. Mugabe's fortunes appear to have dimmed as well. In December, the ruling party that has traditionally bowed to his will, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, balked at supporting a constitutional amendment that would have extended his term of office by two years, to 2010. The rebuff exposed a fissure in the party, known as ZANU-PF, between Mr. Mugabe's hard-line backers and others who fear he has brought their nation to the brink of collapse.

The trigger of this crisis - hyperinflation - reached an annual rate of 1,281 percent this month, and has been near or over 1,000 percent since last April. Hyperinflation has bankrupted the government, left 8 in 10 citizens destitute and decimated the country's factories and farms.

Pay increases have so utterly failed to keep pace with price increases that some Harare workers now complain that bus fare to and from work consumes their entire salaries.

Citing a leaked central bank document, Reuters reported Tuesday that prices of basic items like meat, cooking oil and clothes had risen 223 percent in the past week alone.

Soaring costs have made it impossible for both national and local governments to meet budgets and for businesses to afford raw materials, while subsidies for basic commodities have drained the government treasury and promoted corruption.

Seeking to revive farm production, for example, the government sells gasoline to farmers at a bargain rate of 330 Zimbabwe dollars per liter - and farmers promptly resell it on the black market for 10 times that, leaving their fields idle.

Mr. Mugabe, who blames a Western plot against him for Zimbabwe's problems, has rejected all calls for economic reform. The government refuses to devalue Zimbabwe's dollar, which fetches only 5 to 10 percent of its official value on the thriving black market. As a result, foreign exchange to buy crucial imported goods like spare parts and fertilizer has effectively dried up.

Despite acceptable rains, one international aid official said, Zimbabwe's corn crop is currently lagging behind last year's - and that harvest was among the worst in history. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the assessment had not been made public.

The central bank's latest response to these problems, announced this week, was to declare inflation illegal. From March 1 to June 30, anyone who raises prices or wages will be arrested and punished. Only a "firm social contract" to end corruption and restructure the economy will bring an end to the crisis, said the reserve bank governor, Gideon Gono.

The speech by Mr. Gono, a favorite of Mr. Mugabe, was broadcast nationally. In downtown Harare, the last half was blacked out by a power failure.

Eighty-two years old, wily and physically robust, Mr. Mugabe has survived both international condemnation and domestic upheaval before.

Efforts to suppress dissent are rising: in recent weeks, trade union officials were seriously injured in police beatings, arsonists burned the home of a leading pro-democracy activist and church leaders were arrested while meeting to discuss the economic crisis. Foreign journalists remain barred from the country under threat of imprisonment, and harassment of Zimbabwean journalists has sharply increased.

But hyperinflation is eroding the government's control over every aspect of public life and, by extension, over its own future.

"It's out of control now, and they have to bring it back in control," said John Robertson, a Harare-based economist and a frequent critic of government policies. "We're reaching the steepest slopes of the process. They say they can fix prices, but the things that cause price increases come from so many different directions that the government can't control them all."

That growing loss of control is apparent. The black market, which already flourishes beyond the reach of tax collectors and regulators, is likely to grab an even larger share of the economy when the government freezes prices in March, because stores will be unable to make a profit selling products at government-fixed prices.

Problems with water and power supplies have become acute because of a lack of foreign exchange and salaries for workers; a wave of blackouts hit the nation early last month when 100 electrical workers walked out to protest low pay.

Zimbabwe's political opposition has failed for years to mount an effective work stoppage to protest living conditions. But public workers, the bedrock of government support, this year have begun to walk off the job because there is no longer enough money to pay them a living wage.

The average teacher, for example, earns barely one-fourth of the salary needed to keep a family of six out of poverty. The military, unhappy with January's 300 percent pay hike, is seeking 1,000 percent.

The growing number of strikes also has emboldened the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, a center of opposition to Mr. Mugabe, to make its own plans for a general work stoppage.

"People in Zimbabwe tend to be resilient," said Jamal Jafari, an analyst for the Washington-based International Crisis Group, which monitors political risks worldwide. "But that having been said, what has to be the scariest statistic for the government is the fact that large sectors of the civil service and the military are far below the poverty line. They simply can't raise salaries fast enough."

Mr. Jafari and some political and economic analysts in southern Africa say they now believe that Zimbabwe faces a political showdown within months, as the governing bodies of ZANU-PF wrangle over whether to grant Mr. Mugabe an extended term or to put less radical members of the ruling party in power.

Few expect a democratic revolution; the one rival party, the Movement for Democratic Change, is riven by splits, systematically suppressed by the government and without an effective leader. Regardless, these experts say, by failing to arrest this accelerating decline, Zimbabwe is edging toward a day of political reckoning that years of diplomatic jawboning and political jockeying have failed to produce.

For the government, "the big problem about Zimbabwe is that the one thing you can't rig is the economy," said one Harare political analyst, who refused to be identified for fear of being persecuted. "When it fails, it fails. And that can have unpredictable effects."

March 19, 2007
Opposition Official Beaten as Zimbabwe Crackdown Grows

By MICHAEL WINES

JOHANNESBURG, March 18 - Zimbabwe's crackdown on the nation's political opposition expanded on Saturday and Sunday to block foreign travel by leading government critics, and one official of the main opposition party was severely beaten while en route to Harare's airport for a flight to Brussels.

Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman for the largest faction of the party, the Movement for Democratic Change, was stopped and beaten with iron bars by four assailants as he tried to drive to the airport late on Saturday, a party official, William Bango, told news agencies in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. Mr. Chamisa was headed to Brussels for a meeting with European Union officials.

Mr. Chamisa was reported to have suffered a fractured skull and a crushed eye socket. He was among scores of opposition activists whom riot police arrested and beat on March 11 as the activists sought to stage an antigovernment prayer meeting south of Harare.

Those who attacked Mr. Chamisa on Saturday were not identified, but his faction of the Movement for Democratic Change said Zimbabwe's espionage service, the Central Intelligence Organization, was behind the attack.

Separately, Zimbabwe's police arrested the leader of a smaller faction of the opposition party, Arthur Mutambara, as he sought to leave Harare to fly to South Africa. Mr. Mutambara was charged with inciting public violence.

Two other antigovernment activists who were seriously injured in the March 11 beatings, Grace Kwinje and Sekai Holland, were stopped as they sought to fly to South Africa to seek medical treatment.

Zimbabwe's political stability has deteriorated in recent weeks in lockstep with its economy, now plagued by ever-steeper inflation and worsening shortages of basic commodities. The annual inflation rate is now more than 1,700 percent, and the black-market value of Zimbabwe's beleaguered dollar plunged 57 percent last week alone, to 17,500 for one American dollar.

Rising public dismay over the economic collapse has emboldened Zimbabwe's usually fractious political opposition, which has united in a "Save Zimbabwe Campaign" aimed at toppling President Robert G. Mugabe. Both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change, which split last year into two bitterly divided camps, have thrown their weight behind the campaign.

Mr. Mugabe's response was to ban most political gatherings and to respond with force to anyone who tried to defy that ban. The March 11 attack on antigovernment activists sent at least 50 protesters to hospitals, including the leader of the main faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai.

A government-controlled newspaper, The Herald, quoted Mr. Mugabe on Saturday as threatening to expel Western diplomats who supported his opponents and to send the police to "bash" any activists who fomented violence.

On Sunday, Mr. Tsvangirai told the BBC that "things are bad, but I think this crisis has reached a tipping point, and we could be seeing the beginning of the end of this dictatorship."

Aides to Mr. Tsvangirai have said that he suffered a fractured skull and broken arm in the March 11 beatings, although that has not been confirmed. Photographs of his swollen face brought widespread condemnation of Mr. Mugabe's government.

March 20, 2007
Zimbabwe's Crackdown Widens to Reach Opposition Grass Roots

By MICHAEL WINES

JOHANNESBURG, March 19 - There were indications on Monday that the Zimbabwean government's violent crackdown on its political critics was spreading from widely reported assaults on opposition leaders to less public attacks and threats against local activists and their supporters.

In Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, a civic group reported a series of attacks on Sunday and Monday on neighborhood activists and local leaders of the nation's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

The group, the Combined Harare Residents Association, reported assaults on two political activists, one of whom was shot, and arrests and threats against two others.

The group's spokesman, Precious Shumba, said in an interview that there were reports of beatings of others who had been taken outside the city by police officers, then arrested. Those reports could not be independently verified.

But one of the nation's leading advocates of political reform, Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional Assembly, said Monday in a telephone interview that the violence was growing.

"There is some systematic following of all key activists and trying to intimidate them, either by making them run away from their homes or beating them up," he said.

Mr. Madhuku suffered head wounds and a broken arm in beatings after he was arrested for taking part in what purported to be a prayer meeting on March 11.

Separately, Beatrice Mtetwa, a lawyer with clients in the antigovernment groups, said in an interview that human rights lawyers had been warned by sympathizers in the police force that they had also been singled out for government retribution.

"What they will do to the lawyers, we do not know," she said, "but we can only assume it is what has been done to the politicians."

Zimbabwe has been in turmoil for nearly six weeks, since an antigovernment rally in southern Harare, violently disrupted by police officers, grew into a near-riot that spread through one of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Antigovernment groups allied under the banner of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign were attacked by riot police officers at the March 11 meeting, sending at least 50 people to hospitals. The government's tactics were widely condemned.

President Robert G. Mugabe has adamantly rejected that criticism, saying that his critics are simply receiving the beatings they deserve for trying to foment violence.

In a meeting on Monday, Mr. Mugabe's foreign minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, threatened to expel Western diplomats who have praised the opposition, saying that the Vienna Convention bars foreign governments from interfering in the affairs of host nations.

The American ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher W. Dell, walked out of the meeting, news reports said.

March 21, 2007
Opposition in Zimbabwe Mounts, Says U.S. Diplomat

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

JOHANNESBURG, March 20 (AP) - The American ambassador to Zimbabwe said Tuesday that opposition to President Robert G. Mugabe had reached a tipping point because the people no longer feared the government and believed that they had nothing left to lose.

Zimbabwe's government and ruling party are in disarray and can no longer govern effectively, Ambassador Christopher Dell said in an interview. Growing numbers within the government and the ruling party, known as ZANU-PF, also want Mr. Mugabe to step down, he said.

Mr. Dell emphasized that he was not advocating or predicting a violent overthrow of the government, but noted that there was disaffection within the military and a split in the security forces. The economy is in free fall and the people believe that the government is taking away their last hope, he said.

"The key new element in the equation that has become obvious over the past 10 to 12 days is the new spirit of resistance - some would say defiance - on the part of the people," the ambassador said.

"The people have lost their willingness to go on; they are losing their fear," he added. "They believe they have nothing left to lose."

Mr. Mugabe's government has come under increasing international criticism for its treatment of the opposition, with activists contending that the police have disrupted their gatherings and beaten their leaders. The opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was among those assaulted on March 11, when the police broke up what his supporters said was a prayer meeting.

The Movement for Democratic Change, led by Mr. Tsvangirai, reported new abuses on Tuesday, saying 35 of its supporters were hospitalized from beatings by ruling party youths and state agents patrolling townships in unmarked vehicles.

"We have urged other African governments to speak out more strongly, and some of them have," Mr. Dell said. "The one thing you will notice is none of them are speaking up in Mugabe's defense anymore. There is a kind of embarrassed silence in the region now."

March 31, 2007
World Briefing | Africa: Zimbabwe: Mugabe Wins Over Party For 2008 Vote

By MICHAEL WINES

Zimbabwe's ruling party, known as ZANU-PF, endorsed President Robert G. Mugabe as its candidate in the 2008 presidential election, handing the 83-year-old leader a victory in a guerrilla battle within the party to force him into retirement. The party had rebuffed Mr. Mugabe's earlier effort to extend his current term to 2010, then found itself stymied when he reversed course and pledged to run in the already scheduled 2008 contest. Leaders from across southern Africa met with Mr. Mugabe in Tanzania this week, ostensibly to press him into retirement, but wound up publicly endorsing his rule of a nation with 1,700-percent-a-year inflation, 80 percent unemployment and one of the world's lowest life expectancies. MICHAEL WINES

April 3, 2007
Showing Mugabe the Door

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

By PETER GODWIN

EVER since Zimbabwe began imploding in 2000, the conventional punditry about its president, Robert Mugabe, has largely been of the good-leader-turns-bad variety. Now, as the country's economy enters its death throes - hyperinflation at 1,700 percent and expected to exceed 5,000 percent by year's end; unemployment at 80 percent; the average person's purchasing power at 1953 levels; life expectancy the lowest in the world; an exodus of Africa's most educated population - it would seem a good time to re-examine that orthodoxy and decide what the West can do to ease the dictator's departure.

In fact, Mr. Mugabe has been a completely consistent leader. It's we who have changed. During the cold war, we in the West were so grateful that this militant Marxist had instantly become a benign capitalist that we ignored his history of political violence within his own party, and intimidation at the 1980 elections that brought him to power upon Zimbabwe's independence. We supported him in the same way we supported venal leaders like Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire - our friends simply because they were not Moscow's.

The other parapet behind which Mr. Mugabe found convenient shelter was apartheid, which persisted in his southern neighbor for the first 13 years of his rule. As the leader of the so-called front-line states facing a hostile white government in South Africa, he deserved our support, and we gave him the benefit of the doubt even after his hands were bloodied in his southern province of Matabeleland - where his North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade killed as many as 25,000 civilians in 1983 and 1984.

It was a massacre I saw and reported on, but not a big story in news terms, and there was barely a peep out of the international community. Somehow, to attack Mr. Mugabe was to appear to be giving succor to white South Africa, and Zimbabwe's strongman was a master at spinning it that way. (When I wrote about the massacres, he immediately claimed I was a South African spy and had me declared an enemy of the state.)

Then things went quiet - but only because he'd bludgeoned the opposition into quiescence and established a one-party system. The next time Zimbabweans had the temerity to question Mr. Mugabe's absolute rule was in 2000, when they voted against him in a referendum to extend his presidential term limits, a vote that in his complacency, he hadn't even bothered to rig. He reacted to his defeat with violence and intimidation: his thugs began killing opposition supporters, evicting white commercial farmers (whom he had invited to stay on and contribute to the new Zimbabwe), and intimidating voters at subsequent rigged elections.

In recent months, Mr. Mugabe has stepped up the violence against opposition members and leaders in Zimbabwe - with the chilling development of Latin American-style hit squads that abduct and torture opposition supporters. On Friday, he quashed a challenge to his rule from within his own party. What can outside powers do to help ease out an 83-year-old leader who, after 27 years in power, would rather destroy his country than step down voluntarily?

Zimbabwe lacks the two exports necessary to interest the United States in direct intervention: oil and terrorism. International sanctions on Zimbabwe are now minuscule. We could ramp up "smart sanctions" against Mr. Mugabe and his coterie, for example by freezing their ill-gotten external assets, but any wider sanctions would probably only hurt those at the bottom of the food chain, not the elite kleptocracy. Megaphone diplomacy tends to feed Mr. Mugabe's portrayal of Western powers as shrill, hectoring, imperialist bullies.

The real key to the Zimbabwe stalemate is to be found in South Africa, which has an economic choke hold on its landlocked northern neighbor. But thus far, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has refused to do anything about Mr. Mugabe. His policy of "quiet diplomacy" has, in truth, been a silent one. And he has paid a high price for such tacit support of Mr. Mugabe, whose embarrassing exploits ensured that Mr. Mbeki's much-vaunted African Renaissance was stillborn.

It has long been a political parlor game to figure out why Mr. Mbeki hasn't done more about Zimbabwe. He sometimes pays lip service to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of another sovereign state, but South Africa quickly sent its army into Lesotho in 1998 after a rigged election there. Part of Mr. Mbeki's reluctance to act may have to do with Mr. Mugabe's residual status as a liberation hero. But mostly, I believe, it stems from Mr. Mbeki's distaste for the Zimbabwean opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change and its main leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who used to head up the Zimbabwean trades union movement.

Therein lies the problem: Mr. Mbeki's ruling African National Congress party is actually a troika, and one of its legs is the Congress of South African Trade Union, which is getting increasingly fractious. The group has strongly backed Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change, and if Mr. Tsvangirai were to come to power in Zimbabwe, it would greatly embolden the South African union confederation, encouraging it to secede from the African National Congress and pose a challenge to Mr. Mbeki. Thus has Zimbabwe become a function of South African domestic politics.

In so far as diplomacy is the art of the possible, Pretoria still provides us with the main fulcrum for change. South Africa controls and has the power to obstruct transportation links, lines of credit and electricity supplies, and it alone has the power and regional clout to face down Mr. Mugabe.

Mr. Mbeki may soon be in a position to do more. In a woeful display of the inadequacies of pan-African institutions, the 14 members of the South African Development Community last week came out in support of Mr. Mugabe's dictatorship. But they nominated Mr. Mbeki to facilitate dialogue between Mr. Mugabe and his opposition.

The international community should make it clear to Mr. Mbeki that he, and the new South Africa, have a special moral obligation to help a nearby people who are oppressed and disenfranchised, having been assisted in its own struggle by just such pressure. And that "quiet diplomacy" is nothing less than the appeasement of a violent dictatorship. If President Mbeki continues it, South Africa will squander the good will of the world.

Peter Godwin is the author of a forthcoming memoir, "When a Crocodile Eats the Sun."

April 9, 2007
Roman Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe Urge President to Step Down

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 8 (AP) - In an Easter message pinned to church bulletin boards around the country, Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic bishops called on President Robert G. Mugabe to leave office or face "open revolt" from those suffering under his government.

The letter, titled "God Hears the Cries of the Oppressed," was the most critical pastoral message since Zimbabwe won independence from Britain in 1980 and Mr. Mugabe assumed leadership of the country for the first time.

Once prosperous, the country is reeling under hyperinflation of more than 1,700 percent a year, 80 percent unemployment, shortages of food and other basic goods and one of the world's lowest life expectancies.

"As the suffering population becomes more insistent, generating more and more pressure through boycotts, strikes, demonstrations and uprisings, the state responds with ever harsher oppression through arrests, detentions, banning orders, beatings and torture," the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference said in the message.

A majority of Zimbabwe's Christians - about a quarter of the population - including Mr. Mugabe, are Roman Catholics. Several thousand worshipers who packed the cathedral in Harare clustered around the bulletin boards to read the message after morning Mass on Sunday.

"Many people in Zimbabwe are angry, and their anger is now erupting into open revolt in one township after another," the nine bishops wrote.

"In order to avoid further bloodshed and avert a mass uprising, the nation needs a new people-driven constitution that will guide a democratic leadership chosen in free and fair elections," it said.

There was no response from the government on Sunday to the letter, and Mr. Mugabe was out of the country.

A similar letter in the nearby nation of Malawi pressed the longtime dictator, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, into holding a referendum in 1992 and calling democratic elections. He lost, ending 30 years of brutal rule.

"We cannot yet say what the response of our congregations will be, but basic biblical teachings apply," said the Rev. Oskar Wermter of the Catholic communications secretariat in Harare. "Oppression is not negotiable. It must stop before there can be any dialogue."

Father Wermter said the bishops wanted the contents of the letter to receive the widest possible distribution. The letter was delivered in the traditional rural strongholds of Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party across the country, where priests showed what he called a very strong interest in it.

In Pope Benedict XVI's traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Easter address from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, the pope singled out Zimbabwe among troubled countries.

"Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grievous crisis, and for this reason the bishops of that country in a recent document indicated prayer and a shared commitment for the common good as the only way forward," the pope said in his Easter message, which he read to tens of thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square.

The bishops called for a day of prayer and fasting on April 14 and said there would be a prayer service for Zimbabwe every week after that.

The Anglican Church has been more muted, with its leaders generally toeing the ruling party line.

The police violently broke up what attendees described as a multidenominational prayer meeting on March 11, calling it a banned demonstration. Two pro-democracy activists died and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and a dozen senior colleagues were hospitalized after beatings.

``This program, which is directed, sanctioned and supervised by Robert Mugabe himself, is being carried out by mixed hit squads, comprising the police, CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) and militias,'' Tsvangirai said.

``Indeed ... over 600 people have been abducted and tortured,'' Tsvangirai added.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Mugabe's government has said the MDC has launched a violent campaign, including petrol bombing police stations and attacking ruling party officials, to topple the 83-year-old ruler. Tsvangirai rejected those charges on Thursday.

The burly former trade unionist added that the MDC was committed to a Southern Africa Development Communityinitiative to have South African President Thabo Mbeki mediate between the party and Mugabe's government.

Although similar initiatives have failed in the past, Tsvangirai said he was optimistic Mbeki would have more success this time because of the backing from SADC, which held a special summit last month to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis.

SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao arrived in the country on Wednesday to asses Zimbabwe's economic problems after the regional bloc said it could assist Mugabe's government.

Tsvangirai, however, said Zimbabwe's economic crisis, highlighted by the world's highest inflation rate, soaring poverty and chronic shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency, could add further pressure on Mugabe to negotiate.

Critics say Mugabe's policies, particularly his seizure of thousands of white farms for redistribution to landless blacks, are to blame for the economic decline.

Implementation of the land redistribution program has coincided with a sharp drop in agricultural production, forcing Zimbabwe to rely on imports of the staple maize to feed its people.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, says the economy is being sabotaged by Western powers opposed to his land policy.

April 12, 2007
Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Wants Talks, Says 600 Tortured

By REUTERS

Filed at 9:49 a.m. ET

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader on Thursday said he would negotiate with President Robert Mugabe's ruling party to try to end a crisis he says has seen 600 political activists abducted and tortured this year.

In a press conference in Harare, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was confident the crisis that erupted after the government's violent crackdown on the opposition last month could be sorted out in direct talks.

``This crisis is going to be resolved through negotiation, and (the ruling) ZANU-PF and MDC will sit down and negotiate,'' said Tsvangirai, who was among dozens of anti-Mugabe activists who were arrested at an aborted March 11 prayer rally in Harare.

Reports that the MDC leader and his colleagues had been savagely beaten prompted sharp international protests.

The MDC repeatedly has said that security agents and police were harassing, beating and even murdering its members.

On Thursday Tsvangirai accused state security agents of abducting and torturing 600 activists in the past three months.

He said 150 MDC activists and leaders had suffered life-threatening injuries since February 16.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.