ZIMBABWE: Mugabe Withholds Election Returns, Arrests Foreign Journalists, Raids Opposition Party


[Still from Zimbabwe Countdown directed by MICHAEL RAEBURN]

NEW YORK TIMES: Zimbabwe’s government staged separate police raids on Thursday against the main opposition party, foreign journalists and at least one democracy advocate, raising the specter of a broad crackdown aimed at keeping the country’s imperiled leaders in power. With the government facing election results that threaten its 28-year reign, security officers raided the Miekles Hotel in central Harare on Thursday afternoon, searching rooms that the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, had rented for election operations, said Tendai Biti, the party’s general secretary.

About the same time, a second group of riot officers sealed off the York Lodge, a small hotel in suburban Harare that is frequented by foreign journalists. A lodge worker who refused to be identified for safety reasons said six people were detained, including Barry Bearak, a correspondent for The New York Times who was later located in a Harare jail. The identities of the others were not clear.

Leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change said the raids heralded a campaign of political repression to safeguard President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. His party, known as ZANU-PF, has already lost control of the lower house of Parliament, according to official results from Saturday’s elections, a huge turnabout in a nation where Mr. Mugabe has long controlled virtually all levers of power. But the government had still not released the outcome of the presidential race, prompting international criticism of the delay and concern that attempts were under way to manipulate the election results. MORE

RELATED: The director, Michael Raeburn, a Zimbabwean who was expelled in 1970 by the colonial dictator Ianmugabescampaign-x.gif Smith for his film Rhodesia Countdown, made personal documentary Zimbabwe Countdown accusing the hero of his youth, Robert Mugabe, of betraying the ideals of the liberation war, which he spearheaded. Why does Mugabe use racist rhetoric against the British and Americans? What will be the consequences for his anti-globalization stance? While exposing Mugabe’s Machiavellian tactics to preserve power, the director explores what is really at stake in Zimbabwe.

Michael Raeburn was born in Cairo where his father was a British Imperial officer. The family moved in 1950 to Harare, Zimbabwe. In 1967, thanks to a fellowship from French government he was able to leave Rhodesia and to graduate from University of Aix-en-Provence with the PhD degree in cinema. In 1969, he made Rhodesia Countdown advocating guerrilla war against the white minority government of Ian Smith. As Smith attempted to forbid the shooting, Michael had to flee the country through Zambia and completed the editing in London. He would be under an order denying him to stay until 1980, when the country was freed. It is only then that Rhodesia Countdown was shown in the country now known as Zimbabwe. MORE

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