Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mugabe beaten in presidential vote, says government source

By: Chris McGreal, Africa correspondent

This article was first published on on Wednesday April 30 2008. It was last updated at 19:28 on April 30 2008.
A Zimbabwe polling agent holds voting papers during a recount

A Zimbabwe polling agent holds voting papers during a recount. Photograph: Desmond Kwande/AFP/Getty Images

Zimbabweans are bracing for a bloody second round of elections after government sources today said a recount of the presidential vote held a month ago shows that President Robert Mugabe lost to Morgan Tsvangirai but that neither won an outright majority.

Senior government sources told Reuters that Tsvangirai took 47% of the vote to 43% for Mugabe, a remarkable admission that the man who has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years was beaten.

If those figures are confirmed by the state-run election commission, a run-off election is likely to be held before the end of May.

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims Tsvangirai has won an outright majority, based on the returns posted at each polling station, and said it will not participate in a second round of voting.

Tsvangirai's spokesman, George Sibotshiwe, accused the government of fixing the election results.

"As a people we voted and expressed ourselves democratically through the ballot and somebody is now trying to subvert our will. Mugabe now needs to concede defeat and step down," he said.

But Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is far from conceding defeat, despite also losing control of parliament for the first time since independence in 1980.

In the four weeks since the election, the ruling party has unleashed a campaign of violence and terror against opposition activists and supporters apparently aimed at discouraging support for the MDC in the run-off vote.

The opposition says at least 20 of its supporters have been murdered by a military-directed campaign with many hundreds more brutally beaten and thousands driven from their homes.

Tsvangirai has shifted position several times on the question of a second round.

At first he insisted that what he claimed was an outright win with 50.3% of the vote should be recognised.

Then he said he would be prepared to contest a run-off provided the government allows extensive international monitoring of the vote and count, including permitting the presence of organisations such as the United Nations, which was barred from the last election on the grounds it is under the control of imperialist powers.

However, Tsvangirai hardened his stance as the violence escalated against his supporters and again said he would not participate in another vote.
But that position may be hard to maintain given that Tsvangirai won just a fraction above the 50% threshold and risks appearing as if he is shying away from a one on one contest against Mugabe. The MDC also risks allowing Zimbabwe's president to claim victory by default.

Nonetheless, Mugabe will face an uphill struggle to win a second round. A third candidate, Simba Makoni, a former finance minister who broke with the president and was expelled from Zanu-PF, took nearly 10% of the vote, according to the government's figures.

A high proportion of Makoni's supporters are likely to go to Tsvangirai, particular the significant numbers of people who voted for Makoni in Matabeleland, where there has been deep hostility to Mugabe since the army's massacres in the province of dissidents and their families in the 1980s.

For now, Zanu-PF appears to be relying on its tested tactic of violence and intimidation to swing the vote back in its favour.

Last month's ballot was peaceful compared to other recent elections in which the opposition was prevented from campaigning in many rural areas through the killing and beatings of its activists. The ruling party appears to have drawn the lesson that the lack of intimidation swung the vote against Mugabe and it is now pursuing a highly organised strategy of identifying villages and towns that went over to the opposition and is targeting them with violence.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the army of directing the attacks, and of providing weapons and transport to Zanu-PF militia.

"The army and its allies - 'war-veterans' and supporters of the ruling party Zanu-PF - are intensifying their brutal grip on wide swathes of rural Zimbabwe to ensure that a possible second round of presidential elections goes their way," said Georgette Gagnon, the group's Africa director.
HRW also said it has identified two cases of "revenge attacks" by MDC activists.

But despite the considerable evidence of a state-run campaign against opposition supporters, Zimbabwe's police chief, Augustine Chihuri, today blamed the MDC for the violence.

"The old trick of claiming human rights violations when somebody steps on your toe, yet you yourself are poking out other people's eyes, will not work this time around," he said.

Before the election, Chihuri said he would not allow "puppets" to take power. Mugabe has repeatedly described Tsvangirai as a puppet of British imperialism.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


My silence speaks volumes. Sorry about the long delay. I've tried to get information without much success today.

The verification and release of information was put off until Thursday of this week, with results now likely to come a week after that (if ever).

Please continue to be fervent in prayer for Zimbabwe, the ministry of Forgotten Voices, and my upcoming trip to the country...which is increasingly in jeopardy.

Praying with you all,
Until tomorrow,

Monday, April 28, 2008

My hopes and dreams for a New Zimbabwe

This weekend, I was in upstate New York visiting my sister and her husband. They just had their first child on Thursday morning. Nick is so full of potential and possibilities. So full of hope and opportunity. Watching his wrinkle-free, unscratched face gently rise up and down as he slept, I couldn't help but praise God for this amazing gift. This new life was full of so much good... so much to be discovered.

When I watched Nick sleep, I also couldn't help thinking about Zimbabwe and what it must've been like for people in 1980 when it became a free nation...a new nation.

I was born in 1979, the last year before Zim became independent. When my father, Denis, used to cradle me to sleep when I was 1 year old in 1980, he used to pray that God would help him realize that I did not belong to him. That God would give him a heart to allow me to go anywhere in the world I felt called to go. But he jokingly pleaded with God that God could send me ANYWHERE, just not send me to either Zimbabwe or Mongolia.

My father told me about his prayer for me when we boarded the plane for my 3rd trip to Zim, a trip he joined me on for his 1st time to Africa.

In an earlier post today, I put up a link to a Guardian article that states Presidential Election Results for Zimbabwe will be released on Tuesday, April 29th, a month after the election was held.

As I pray for the situation there, which are already incredibly tense across the country, I can't help but think about Zimbabwe being free again...not belonging to any one leader or political from corruption...full of so many really good people that long to be part of a NEW Zimbabwe.

Regardless of what happens and who leads, I am praying for a NEW ZIMBABWE.

I pray for a NEW Zimbabwe, where the economic landscape reflects the hopeful optimism of people that yearn to make your day with their kindness and make an honest buck for their families. Where the people are dominated by the belief that tomorrow will be better than today and God will redeem the seemingly unredeemable...and they can be a part of this new dawn.

I am hopeful for a new Zimbabwe, where my wife and I can roam the streets of the beautiful cities and townships and rural from fear and hopeful that our own future children will be able to come and experience our 2nd home, as we have for the last 4 years.

I am hopeful that over 1.5 million AIDS orphans in the country will be able to receive their fair share of international aid, without being punished for the disagreements their governments have with other international powers.

I am hopeful that over 500 people that will die today because of AIDS related illnesses will die with some satisfaction that the children they leave behind will be entitled to an education that is both affordable and safe....and the assurance that their extended relatives will have the opportunity to get a job, make an honest wage, and save money for University...or save just for a month to start a small income generating project.

I pray that God sees these hopes and responds over these next few days and helps usher in a new Zimbabwe... a place of peace, safety, generosity, love, and kindness. This is a land I've heard a lot about from those that new the old Zimbabwe after it was birthed in 1980.

Together, as we celebrate the birth of my young nephew, Nicholas, and we dream about his future life together, we also dream about hope for a new Zimbabwe and the thousands of children that will be born this week in a land I love.

We invite you to join us in that dream and in that prayer.

Praying with you,

Zimbabwe official claims poll results out tomorrow

Zimbabwe elections

A Zimbabwean man casts his vote in a polling station during the presidential elections in Harare. Photograph: Alexander Joe, AFP

The results of Zimbabwe's disputed presidential election could finally be released tomorrow, the country's electoral commission has announced.

The news comes after a month-long standoff between the ruling party and opposition supporters which has led to widespread fears of violence.

Accusations that Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, was seeking to rig the outcome of the election and maintain his grip on power provoked international concern.

But today, following the completion of a partial recount of the parliamentary election, election officials said the full results of the presidential vote would now be published.

"I'm getting the information that they are now collating the results, which will be available tomorrow," said Utoile Silaigwana, a spokesman for the Zimbabwe electoral commission.

The results would still need to be verified by the candidates, which could take a further week if disputed, Silaigwana told Reuters.

Many Zimbabweans had hoped that the country's elections, held on March 29, would go some way in easing the nation's spiralling economic decline. Instead however, the disputed results led to further insecurity, with the threat of bloodshed between rival parties becoming increasingly likely.

Political analysts believe a win for Mugabe, whose ruling party lost control of parliament in the election, would deepen the financial collapse of the country. But western countries are likely to offer aid and investment if victory is handed to Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Earlier, Tsvangirai, who says he won an outright majority in the first round of voting, urged 84-year-old Mugabe to step down.

"Old man, go and have an honourable exit," Tsvangirai, 56, told a news conference in neighbouring South Africa.

Mugabe's Zanu-PF lost control of parliament for the first time since he took office in 1980, weakening the former liberation hero's grip on the country.

Tsvangirai said his supporters had united with a breakaway faction of the MDC, led by Arthur Mutambara, and would work together in parliament.

Monitoring Viral Loads, CD4+ counts do not affect survival rates

Science & Medicine | Tests Monitoring Viral Loads, CD4+ Count Do Not Significantly Affect Survival Rates Among HIV-Positive People, Study Finds
[Apr 28, 2008]

Survival rates among HIV-positive people who undergo routine viral load and CD4+ T cell counts were nearly the same as those who do not receive the tests, according to a study published on Friday in the journal Lancet, the CP/ reports (CP/, 4/24). In some wealthy countries, HIV-positive people undergo routine laboratory screening -- which can cost about $20 to $60 -- about every six months. In many developing countries, HIV-positive people usually are monitored by a physician or nurse for clinical signs of disease progression (Cheng, Associated Press, 4/24).

For the study, Andrew Phillips from the Royal Free and University College Medical School and Charles Gilks -- head of treatment, prevention and scale-up at the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS Programme -- used a computer model that simulated patient details based on HIV progression in real people living with the virus, Reuters reports. The researchers projected survival rates for up to 20 years. The study found that after five years, 83% of the simulated HIV-positive people who were monitored with the viral load tests survived, compared with 82% for those who received CD4+ monitoring and 82% for those who were received clinical monitoring. Over two decades, the projected survival rates were 67%, 64% and 64%, respectively, the study found (Nebehay, Reuters, 4/24).

"The results of this study should reassure clinicians in Africa and Asia, who are treating literally millions of people without these laboratory tests, that they are not compromising patient safety," Gilks said. He added, "In fact, the outcome of their treatment is almost as good as those patients in the [U.S.] and Europe, where laboratory-guided treatment is the norm" (AFP/Channel NewsAsia, 4/25). As antiretroviral drugs have been distributed in developing countries, some doctors worry that without lab monitoring, HIV-positive people will die earlier or develop drug resistance faster, the CP/ reports. However, based on the evidence to date, that has not happened (CP/, 4/24).

Phillips said, "Laboratory monitoring shouldn't be the priority while we've got less than half of people who need treatment still waiting for it" (Associated Press, 4/24). "Waiting for the perfect lab infrastructure to be ready before rolling out antiretroviral therapy means that millions of people will die," Jennifer Kates, vice president and director of HIV policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, adding, "This study says we shouldn't wait" (CP/, 4/24). Gilks said that the tests "obviously do help, but if you don't have tests available, the priority remains to get drugs there in the first instance." He added that antiretrovirals are the "most important thing because without them, people die, it is as simple as that" (Reuters, 4/24).

According to the Associated Press, although the study results still have to be verified, they could affect how HIV-positive people "across Africa and Asia are treated." The original computer model was developed by Phillips with funding from Pfizer (Associated Press, 4/24).

Online The study is available online.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Zim Police Raid MDC Hdq

Zimbabwe police raid MDC headquarters (Guardian UK)

This article was first published on on Friday April 25 2008. It was last updated at 15:54 on April 25 2008.
Supporters of Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party are detained by police, outside its headquarters in Harare.

Supporters of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party are detained by police, outside its headquarters in Harare. Photograph: AP

Armed police today raided the headquarters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party and offices of independent election observers as Robert Mugabe's government clamped down on its opponents.

In the most aggressive move against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) since last month's disputed elections, dozens of riot police seized around 100 MDC supporters, bundled them into a crowded police bus and drove away, according to witnesses.

An MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said among those detained were supporters who had come to the party headquarters after being hurt in what the opposition and human rights groups describe as a systematic campaign to intimidate government opponents.

"They took everyone in the building, including those who had come just to seek medical care. They are trying to destroy evidence of their brutality," Chamisa told Reuters. He said police also took some computers.

Police said those arrested had sought refuge at the opposition headquarters after having "committed crimes" outside Harare.

"Some of them are not office workers at all. We are busy screening them. There are some cases we are investigating and we will release those who have not committed any crime," a police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, said.

Police seized material on vote-counting in the raids on the MDC's headquarters and offices of the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network.

The latest blow against the opposition came as Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper attacked African leaders as "myopic stooges" for criticising Zimbabwe's handling of the March 29 elections.

Southern African countries, which have expressed increasing impatience with Mugabe's authoritarian leadership, this week refused to allow a Chinese ship to unload an arms shipment destined for Zimbabwe, forcing the vessel to head home.

"The attempt to link the shipment to the post-election environment should convince sceptics of the lengths to which the westerners and their lackeys will go to manufacture a crisis in Zimbabwe," the Herald said.

Almost a month after parliamentary and presidential elections, Zimbabwe's electoral commission has yet to release the results of the ballots.

Most independent observers say the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the presidential vote, although not by enough to avoid a run-off.

The ruling Zanu-PF party initially acknowledged losing control of parliament for the first time since independence 28 years ago, but recounts in 23 of 210 constituencies could overturn the results.

The commission has recounted nine constituencies. So far all candidates who were originally declared winners have retained their position. Full results of the recounts are expected by the weekend.

Today's raid on the opposition headquarters came despite a proposal floated in the Herald earlier in the week by a pro-Zanu-PF academic, suggesting a government of national unity that would include the opposition, but would be led by Mugabe.

The proposal was welcomed by the Zambian government yesterday. A spokesman said a national unity government would be a "welcome decision" if it could bring the country together.

The top US envoy to Africa, Jendayi Frazer, told reporters in southern Africa this week that Tsvangirai had won the right to lead any unity government.

As to Mugabe, she said: "If he does the right thing, he should be allowed to stay in Zimbabwe with the dignity of a former president."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shared Govt Proposed by The Herald

From today's Herald, a Zimbabwe government owned newspaper. The author is an academic loyal to Mugabe. This article is getting buzz around Zim as discussions continue among the people. Is this possible? Is it likely? Is it good for Zimbabwe? These are all questions I'm hearing/reading today. Continue to pray as recount results come out today and for the remainder of the week. So far, with 2 out of 23 recounts reporting, there has been no change since the parliamentary results were announced a few days after the March 29 election. Still no Presidential results. We pray and move forward.

West should stop blocking Zimbabwe’s way forward (link to Herald's website)

By Dr Obediah Mukura Mazombwe

THE West, particularly the Anglo-American establishment, should stop insisting that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF can not be part of a future prosperous Zimbabwe.

It is the latter that created the independent State of Zimbabwe, indeed against other preferred options of the West.

African nationalists in nationalist-liberated Sadc, including those of South Africa and Zambia are acutely aware of this.

The West has raised the stakes on this issue to a level where Zimbabwean society has been polarised to breaking point.

The opposition is promising "the Hague" for the country’s present rulers, whilst the rulers accuse the opposition of treason.

This is exactly where Western-controlled global media apparently wanted the country, when, together with Zimbabwean opposition, they insisted Government would either rig the elections, or lose them overwhelmingly.

They "predicted" inevitable mayhem.

In the event, the Government did not rig the elections, and in spite of a ruthlessly battered economy, the opposition did not make a clean sweep.

Subsequently, the West’s political strategists went fishing and their "catch" is what we have in Zimbabwe today.

The International Crisis Group Zimbabwe Report of March 2008, though hugely and typically neo-colonial, mourns the fact that the West’s position on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF constitutes an impediment to reaching a possible negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe.

The report suggests that a negotiated way forward for Zimbabwe need not necessarily exclude President Mugabe, and should that inclusion be part of a genuinely negotiated agreement that aims at reconciliation and renewal, the Euro-Americans "should not hold back".

Michelle Gavin, the BBC’s reporter in South Africa last week remarked to the effect that the dire situation in Zimbabwe could be salvaged if the West supported Sadc efforts, rather than working parallel or against them.

In fact the West should abandon rather than "soften" its exclusivist stance on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

It is politically nonsensical and morally hypocritical, based entirely on their capital and military might.

Mugabe’s thought, in its purest form, and Zanu-PF’s land/sovereignty-centred ideology, past challenges with transforming these into viable programmes notwithstanding, have huge resonance with the majority of Zimbabwean and African masses.

These are also the core values around which the Zimbabwean State was founded.

American leadership has made horrible blunders in the United States itself, in Iraq, and elsewhere, but that cannot justify "calling" on America to repudiate the very core ideas on which the American state is founded.

The Anglo-American establishments in their current efforts to destabilise and unseat the ruling liberation movements in Zimbabwe and South Africa have no less an objective than the above.

Zimbabwe’s independence-land-sovereignty centred ideology is not only legitimate.

It is also more human rights-based, and has greater potential for addressing African poverty and famine than the Western transnational corporation-driven model for development. And herein can be found Zimbabwe’s major problem with Western establishments.

Men and women of reason, the world over, are able to relate talk of massive Western financial assistance for a "reformed" Zimbabwe, on one hand, to failed IMF/WB ESAP projects, on the other.

They can relate the impending global food shortages and food riots to reckless commodification of edible cereals.

They can relate talk of "draconian" Zimbabwean legislation to the United States Patriot Act.

Thereafter they will draw their own conclusions.

Indeed the Zimbabwean situation is "dire", but not all is lost. Zimbabwe and Africa and the progressive international community can turn it around.

For this to happen two conditions must be recognised, accepted, and met on the ground accepted by all the stakeholders:

1) The current socio-economic environment in Zimbabwe is not conducive, and the country’s political dynamics so distorted, that holding a free and fair election run-off in the immediate term is literally impossible.

The current economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, without delving into the question of their justifiability or otherwise, render the playing field uneven for both the electorate and contending parties.

Accordingly, the most viable and safest way forward is for the Sadc to mediate negotiations for a transitional government of national unity, which will:

(a) Call on the international community to compel Europe and the US to urgently lift their economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

(b) Write, with the assistance of experienced Sadc members and the international community, a new constitution for Zimbabwe which will be adopted only after a national referendum.

(c) In collaboration with Sadc and invited members of the international community, organise fresh free and fair elections.

2) The Zimbabwe Government and independent international observers are agreed that the just-ended harmonised elections did not produce an outright winner in the presidential race. It is unlikely that the on-going recount will substantively alter that position.

Accordingly, it stands to reason that, the transitional government of national unity, negotiated by the two leading contending parties, under the mediation of Sadc, supported by the international community, should be led by the incumbent president.

For the above scenario to materialise, there needs to be a major paradigm shift in the thinking of three major players.

It is up to Sadc, assisted by the progressive international community, to ensure that such a shift does take place.

The three players are the ruling Zanu-PF party, the opposition MDC-T party, and the UK/US establishments.

The peace and security of Zimbabwe, that it has enjoyed since independence, is at great risk. Whilst the ruling party must stop behaving like a wounded buffalo, the opposition party must stop its hysterics and lapses into delusion.

The ruling party, as the senior and more experienced organisation, both nationally and internationally, needs to show greater self-restraint and maturity, irrespective of how much it might feel justifiably angered by developments in the last few weeks.

Amongst themselves, there will be no harm in Zanu-PF leaders making a candid introspection of themselves, noting past problems and challenges, and rising to counter them with greater determination.

The party should allow MDC-T, now in virtual exile, to return home and freely negotiate its participation in a Sadc-mediated process that should lead to the establishment a transitional government of national unity led by the incumbent President Mugabe, who led the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe.

The few brains in MDC-T must, on their part, rein in Biti’s hysterics and Tsvangirai’s hallucinations.

Zimbabwe, Africa, the progressive world, and the real international community are not about to allow Anglo-American troops to march into Harare and do a Saddam Hussein on President Mugabe.

MDC-T can neither "fire" President Mbeki from his Sadc-appointed mediation role, nor could the Sadc summit that sat in Lusaka have declared Tsvangirai president of Zimbabwe.

MDC-T should cut loose from the leash, come home and start playing a constructive national role.

They have already invested substantially in a future stable Zimbabwe for themselves and their children.

The Anglo-American establishments should listen to the few voices of reason amongst their own. They should stop playing godfather and policeman to the world.

They do not have the moral worth and authority to do that.

Their past and present misdeeds forbid it.

Yet, as technologically and economically more advanced countries, they can play a constructive role in Zimbabwe’s way forward.

They can financially and technologically enable Sadc leaders, consulting with them (from a distance), respectfully tabling their own thoughts in a mediation process that is entirely Sadc-controlled

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Churches fear Zimbabwe 'genocide' (BBC)

Anna Satiya, 84, shows an injury sustained during an attack by suspected Zanu-PF supporters, in Gutu, south of Harare, 22 April 2008
Zimbabweans say they have been beaten up for supporting the opposition

Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 17:33 UK
E-mail this to a friend Printable version

Church leaders in Zimbabwe have called for international action to prevent post-election violence developing into genocidal proportions.

African countries and the UN should intervene to deal with a "deteriorating" situation, they said.

The opposition says it won the 29 March presidential poll outright, but results are yet to be released.

Meanwhile, a Chinese ship carrying weapons to Zimbabwe may return to China after being blocked in South Africa.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the ship's owners were considering bringing the arms back, amid international pressure not to let the ship unload its cargo.

But on Tuesday the ship was located off Africa's southernmost point, the Cape of Good Hope, and was said to be heading in a north-westerly direction.


In a joint statement, leaders of the main religious denominations warned against leaving the post-election deadlock unresolved.

"If nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and other hotspots in Africa and elsewhere," they said.

Robert Mugabe is a liberation hero on our continent and he must be convinced to make a graceful exit
Morgan Tsvangirai

"We appeal to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union and the United Nations to work towards arresting the deteriorating political and security situation in Zimbabwe."

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai insist they beat President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party outright in presidential and parliamentary polls.

An election recount for 23 out of 210 constituencies that had been due to end on Monday, has been delayed for an unknown period.

The MDC has rejected the recount as illegal.


On Tuesday Mr Tsvangirai said the Zimbabwe Election Commission had been discredited and he would not accept any run-off.

Speaking in Ghana, he appealed for help from the international community.



Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has been under fire over March's disputed elections. His neighbours have been supportive but regional differences are now emerging.

1 of 10

"Robert Mugabe is a liberation hero on our continent and he must be convinced to make a graceful exit," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai also renewed his criticism of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been acting as a mediator over Zimbabwe.

"We call on President Mbeki to be bold and take this historic opportunity to side with the people of Zimbabwe and not with any political party," he said.

The leader of the governing African National Congress in South Africa - Jacob Zuma - has further distanced himself from Mr Mbeki, criticising the delays in publishing the election results.

"It's not acceptable. It's not helping the Zimbabwean people who have gone out to... elect the kind of party and presidential candidate they want, exercising their constitutional right," he told Reuters news agency.

Post-election violence has displaced 3,000 people, injured 500 and left 10 dead, according to MDC secretary general Tendai Biti.

Human rights groups say they have found camps where people are being tortured for having voted "the wrong way".

But Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa denied that anyone had died in political violence.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was reported as saying that of the 10 people reported dead, only four names had been supplied and "of these three have no basis whatsoever while the fourth is still under investigation and will be concluded soon".

US 'pressure'

Meanwhile the fate of the Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, is still uncertain.

A spokesman at the Lloyds Marine Intelligence Unit in London said that according to the ship's Automatic Identifying System (AIS), it was heading up the coast of Africa, towards Angola.

Secretly filmed footage of alleged attack victims in Zimbabwe

The ship is reportedly carrying three million rounds of ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and 2,500 mortar rounds.

It had been anchored off the port of Durban for four days before being forced to move on Friday after a South African court refused to allow the weapons to be transported across the country to landlocked Zimbabwe.

A spokesman for the US department of state, Tom Casey, said the US had discouraged China from sending arms to Zimbabwe and had urged Mozambique, South Africa, Angola and Namibia to prevent the ship from docking.

"Right now clearly is not the time that we would want to see anyone putting additional weapons or additional materiel into the system when the situation is so unsettled and when we have seen real and visible instances of abuses committed by the security forces," he told reporters.

The MDC says the arms could be used to "wage war" on its supporters ahead of a possible run-off in the presidential election, a charge the government has strongly denied.

Zimbabwe recount futile, monitors warn
This article was first published on on Tuesday April 22 2008. It was last updated at 18:30 on April 22 2008.
A policeman keeps watch over ballot boxes in the rural district of Domboshawa outside  Harare, Zimbabwe

A policeman keeps watch over ballot boxes in the rural district of Domboshawa outside Harare, Zimbabwe. Photograph: Howard Burditt/Reuters

Independent election monitors say they have seen significant irregularities, including the illicit opening of ballot boxes, that makes the partial recount under way of Zimbabwe's election an exercise in "futility".

As the recount enters its fifth day, and with the election commission saying it could take many more yet, foreign observers have documented concerns in many of the 23 constituencies where presidential and parliamentary votes are being counted again. All but two of them were won by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, helping it to end Zanu-PF's control of parliament for the first time since independence 28 years ago.

A monitor with the Southern African Development Community, Dianne Kohler-Barnard, says she witnessed tampering in two constituencies that "points to a concerted effort to rig the result in order to bring about a Mugabe 'victory'".

"In Mberengwa West they brought the first four boxes down for counting. Each box has two of the blue ties with numbers on it that are used to seal it along with padlocks. They had a whole set of duplicates of the blue ties, with the same numbers, on the other side of the hall. The keys to the padlocks are inside envelopes sealed with wax. All the seals were broken. I can only surmise that the keys were removed and the padlocks unlocked," she said.

"Then they discovered that the protocol register, which lists how many voting books were used and the numbers, was missing."

The next day, Kohler-Barnard was monitoring the recount in Goromonzi West.

"There were ballot boxes with keys missing. One had the padlock open. Some had the envelopes with the keys sealed with Sellotape instead of wax," she said.

"All the party agents had signed that they placed ten books of voting papers into a box after the election. When the box was opened there were only nine. They scrabbled around and found the book lying on the floor somewhere. Either the fairies came down and took the book out of the box or there was someone in there. It tells me that the box was opened, the ballots were fiddled with and it was repacked but the person did it badly."

Reports of significant tampering have come in from other constituencies, including Bulima East where the seals were broken on all of the boxes for the presidential election from 57 polling stations.

"From these particular instances I believe the election is fatally flawed. It is an exercise in futility," said Kohler-Barnard.

Another independent monitor said he had observed serious problems but questions whether the irregularities are on a sufficient scale to overturn the opposition's victories.

"There are definite irregularities, but it's not clear that it's been enough even though they know what they needed to do. Even if it is substantial in some areas I'm not sure it is widespread enough to really change things.

"Once they realise that we may never see these results. It wouldn't surprise me. Perhaps the recount is designed to draw things out while they get another plan in place to kill off the election altogether," he said.

HIV/AIDS Union in Zim calls for post-test services

Below is an interesting article about HIV/AIDS care services after testing takes place in Zimbabwe. Holistic care is important to Forgotten Voices, especially if it can be done through the local church as we meet the physical and spiritual needs of people. As the Activist Union says in the article below, not having services available to people after the testing takes place is "a death sentence" to many, as they see no hope or promise. Forgotten Voices recently began funding an ARV program with some rural hospitals that now serves about 155 people at last count and now has a 3 year program delivering homebased care to people that are tested.

Regardless of whether the result is positive or negative, clients of the clinics and church operations we support receive counseling to help them make a positive way forward and understand the implications of their current life choices.

Education is also key, so people understand HIV/AIDS.

The article definitely points to a HUGE problem that we are discovering more about each day: the lack of CD4+ count machines. If people have thoughts on how to get more working machines in there or know of agencies that fix these machines internationally, please contact me directly at Thanks! -Ryan
From Today's KaiserNetwork Daily
Global Challenges | Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS Union Calls on Groups To Provide Post-Testing Services
[Apr 22, 2008]

The Zimbabwe HIV and AIDS Activist Union recently called on organizations involved in the fight against the disease to stop offering HIV tests if they cannot provide post-testing services, the Herald/ reports. ZHAAU President Bernard Nyathi last week during the launch of a treatment program in the city of Bulawayo said that services, such as CD4+ T cell counting, are necessary following HIV tests. "When a person tests positive, the next thing needed is treatment," he said, adding that groups that provide testing "should see to it that the people they have tested receive enough treatment. Testing without treatment is a death sentence."

According to the Herald/, some residents of Bulawayo said that there is a lack of treatment services in the city. All of the CD4+ count machines in the city's governmental hospitals are not functioning, and people continue to receive HIV tests at the hospitals, the Herald/ reports. Nyathi said that all testing facilities should ensure that they have working CD4+ count machines so that they can provide testing and treatment (Herald/, 4/21).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Zimbabwe recount fixed, MDC

Zimbabwe recount is fixed, says opposition

Zanu-PF accused of torture as Mugabe clings on

This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday April 20 2008 on p29 of the World news section. It was last updated at 01:22 on April 20 2008.
A policeman keeps watch over ballot boxes in the rural district of Domboshawa outside  Harare, Zimbabwe

A policeman keeps watch over ballot boxes in the rural district of Domboshawa outside Harare, Zimbabwe. Photograph: Howard Burditt/Reuters

Zimbabwe's opposition alleged widespread irregularities as the partial recount begun yesterday of votes cast in the presidential and parliamentary elections held three weeks ago, including ballot boxes with seals broken before they were delivered for the count or with no seals at all.

The Movement for Democratic Change said some boxes had been stuffed with votes for President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF in an effort to overturn the opposition's capture of a parliamentary majority for the first time since independence 28 years ago.

'This is a discount of the people's will in the guise of a recount,' said the MDC's spokesman, Nelson Chamisa. 'We have found ballot boxes already open or with no seals. We believe other boxes they opened and forged new seals. This is not an isolated problem."

The recount, which state radio said could take three days, came as the opposition presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, said he fears for his life if he returns to Zimbabwe. Yesterday, Human Rights Watch accused Zanu-PF of establishing a network of torture camps in a campaign against Tsvangirai's supporters. The recounts are taking place in 23 constituencies, all but one lost by Zanu-PF to the MDC. Mugabe's party will regain control if the MDC's victories are reversed in nine or more seats.

If Mugabe retains power it would be important to him to also control parliament, in part because if he retires before the next election his successor as president for the remainder of the six-year term will be chosen by MPs.

The recount will also affect the outcome of the presidential race, which Tsvangirai claims to have won with a little more than 50 percent of the vote based on the MDC's own tally of polling station returns.

But if the official results do not deliver an outright victory to either Mugabe or Tsvangirai the law requires a run-off within three weeks.

Tsvangirai has vacillated over whether to participate in a second round, saying that a fair election is not possible amid surging violence in rural areas. The MDC leader, who has been touring southern Africa to drum up support, has also expressed fears for his own safety and said he will remain abroad for now.

'It is no use going back to Zimbabwe and becoming captive. Then you are not effective. What can you do?' he told a Canadian newspaper. 'Do you want a dead hero?'.

The campaign of violence, called Operation Makavhoterapapi ['Where did you put your cross?'] by Zanu-PF officials, has spread across regions where opposition support surged in the election.

HRW said it had collected evidence from victims and witnesses of illegal detention centres in Mutoko, Mudzi and Bikita 'to round up and instil fear in suspected political opponents'.

Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said: 'Zanu-PF members are setting up torture camps to systematically target, beat and torture people suspected of having voted for the MDC. Several individuals told HRW they had been held in these camps for up to three days and interrogated about MDC leaders, MDC funding, and the location of other MDC supporters.'

In a further sign that support for Mugabe is eroding among regional leaders, Botswana's foreign minister, Phandu Skelemani, took the unusual step of publicly contradicting South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, who has said there is 'no crisis' in Zimbabwe. Skelemani said Mbeki was alone in that view at a regional summit last weekend.

Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan yesterday urged African leaders to intervene urgently. 'The question that has been posed is where are the Africans? Where are the leaders of the countries in the region, what are they doing, how can they help the situation?' he said in Nairobi. 'It is a serious crisis with impact beyond Zimbabwe.'

There were conflicting reports yesterday as to the destination of a Chinese ship turned away from South Africa after dockers in Durban refused to unload a cargo of weapons destined for Zimbabwe and a legal rights group won a court order blocking the delivery.

The An Yue Jiang was at first reported by a human rights group to be headed for Mozambique but was later said to be heading south, possibly destined for a friendlier port in Namibia or Angola.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring in the USA

"11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land."
Solomon 2:11-12
Today I talked with various friends in Zimbabwe. As they told me of their stresses and how God has intervened, I listened to the birds sing outside our sliding glass window in my apartment and the kids play across the street in the local park. I love kids and spring time.

This week, as you know, has been a chaotic week for Zimbabwe and for me. There is so much uncertain right now in a land I love deeply.

It is amazing how God has given me a new heart for the people of Zimbabwe in the past few days. The bitterness, pain, agony, suffering, etc were mounting on my heart and I was struggling to give it all away to God...casting my burdens on God and allowing Him to intervene in my life and in the lives of our friends in Zimbabwe.

I tend to get like that in the winter time. My mind and body had reached a climax of darkness and I was ready to burst. In every way, my whole self was ready for a new spring.

It is so beautiful outside today in Central PA as we welcome in spring weather. With it comes the promise of sunshine, rain, and the birth of flowers and tall green grass.

As I listened to my friends in Zimbabwe pour out their hearts and they graciously listened to me do the same, it was amazing to me just how renewed we all felt at the end. Casting our burdens upon each other helped us feel better. Then, it occurred to me in a new, bright, overwhelming way...God wants us to do that ALL THE TIME to Him.

Sometimes in the darkest hours, we can't see the light and can't seem to let go for fear of falling. But God calls us to cling after Him and cast all our burdens upon Him. In doing so, we experience new life and a renewed sense of belonging to the Creator that gave us life and gave life to the birds that sing His praises.

I am seeing the love of God in a new way...even when it sometimes seems dark to me. Spring is right around the corner.

Make sure to take some moments when you feel overwhelmed to give praise to the God that gave us the beautiful sun, gentle spring rains, and the birds that fill up our sky. When all seems dark, know that God is working on a new spring.

Benefit Concert at Faith Baptist Church

Come to the Forgotten Voices Benefit Concert at Faith Baptist Church, this Saturday from 7-9pm in Lancaster, PA. Click here for directions.

Faith Baptist Church; 612 North Duke Street, Lancaster, PA
"Over 22 million people have died from AIDS/HIV. There are currently 14 million AIDS orphans. By 2010, it is estimated that there will 25 million AIDS orphans. Forgotten Voices is working to empower AIDS orphans in Africa.

Please support the work of Christ in ending this epidemic by coming to see your friends play original songs at a local church! (Those who are performing include Shlee Schwamb, Andrew Hagy, Kenny Galvacky, and the FBC Worship Team.)"
For more info. on Forgotten Voices, please visit

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Spring Arts Day to benefit Forgotten Voices

Check out Spring Arts Day at Messiah College's Larsen Student Union on Saturday, April 19th from 1-5pm. For directions, click here.


The Spring Arts Day is a celebration of music and the arts to welcome in spring and support a cause. This year's Spring Arts Day will benefit Forgotten Voices. Come out and celebrate the arts with us while making a difference!

What to Expect:
  • Free Hotdogs
  • Free Brusters Ice Cream
  • Free Crafts
  • Free Tye-Dye (Bring your own item to dye!)
  • Free Live Music (from Messiah Student Bands)
  • Free Giant Obstacle Course
Silent Auction to benefit Forgotten Voices Prizes Include:
  • Mini Golf
  • Paintball
  • Movie Tickets
  • Lunch at the Harrisburg Hilton
  • Senators Baseball Tickets
  • Tickets to the Hershey Theatre
  • Two Night Stay at the Harrisburg Wyndham
  • Lunch and Tickets to the Allenberry Playhouse
  • Meal at Good 'N Plenty Restaurant
  • Tickets to Theatre Harrisburg
  • Dinner for two at the Radisson
  • Tickets to the Popcorn Hat Players
  • Sight and Sound Tickets
  • Harrisburg Symphony Tickets

Spring Arts Day

Saturday, April 19

Come to the Messiah College Union from 1-5p for all kinds of Spring-celebratory fun!

South Africa Calls for Zim Vote Release

Published: April 18, 2008

In a change of tone, South Africa urged Zimbabwe’s government on Thursday to release results from the disputed March 29 presidential election that has thrown the nation into political crisis.

Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s president who has acted as a mediator between the opposition and government, had until now largely played down the political stalemate in Zimbabwe and counseled patience in dealing with its autocratic president, Robert Mugabe.

But on Thursday, a government spokesman described the situation in Zimbabwe as dire. “When elections are held and results are not released two weeks after, it is obviously of great concern,” the spokesman, Themba Maseko, told reporters. Mr. Maseko was speaking in Cape Town after a cabinet meeting.

“South Africa, like the rest of the world, is concerned about the delay in the release of the results and the anxiety that this is generating,” Mr. Maseko said.

Mr. Mbeki has been a strong supporter of Mr. Mugabe, and it was not immediately clear whether Mr. Maseko’s statement Thursday reflected a change of position by Mr. Mbeki himself.

But Mr. Mbeki has been under criticism at home and abroad for his insistence on quiet diplomacy in dealing with the crisis in Zimbabwe, where the currency is nearly worthless and the economy has collapsed, bringing shortages of food and fuel and 80 percent unemployment. Millions of people have fled to South Africa, the biggest regional power.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader in Zimbabwe, insists that he beat Mr. Mugabe outright in the elections, but the governing party says that neither man won and that a runoff may be necessary. Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission continues to refuse to make the final figures public.

In a press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday, Mr. Tsvangirai issued strong criticism of Mr. Mbeki’s role in the crisis, saying that Mr. Mbeki “needs to be relieved from his duty" as chief mediator with the Mugabe government, Reuters reported.

At the weekend, Mr. Mbeki flew to Zimbabwe’s capital for a meeting with Mr. Mugabe, after which the two leaders emerged holding hands and Mr. Mbeki declared that he did not think Zimbabwe was facing a political crisis.

Despite Mr. Mbeki’s position, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has described the situation in Zimbabwe as “dire.”

On Wednesday, Jacob Zuma, the A.N.C. leader, showed apparent widening disagreement with Mr. Mbeki over the country’s troubles. “The region cannot afford a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe,” he said, in a speech to South Africa’s Chambers of Commerce, Reuters reported.

Adding to the international expressions of concern, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that Zimbabwe’s African neighbors had to do more to solve the crisis, as she described Mr. Mugabe’s last few years of rule as an “abomination.”

On Sunday, southern African political leaders in a meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, urged Zimbabwe’s government to let representatives of the opposition be present when vote tabulations were verified and to ensure that a presidential runoff, if needed, would be held ”in a secure environment.”

Earlier Thursday, Mr. Mugabe’s government accused Mr. Tsvangirai of working with Britain, the former colonial power, to topple Mr. Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe to independence and has been its leader for 28 years.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Wednesday that he was “deeply concerned” by the delay in releasing the election results and said that international observers should monitor any second round of voting.

“The credibility of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake here,” Mr. Ban said.

Addressing the same meeting, Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, said it was obvious that Mr. Mugabe was trying to overturn an election that had gone against him.

“No one thinks, having seen the results at polling stations, that President Mugabe has won this election,” Mr. Brown said. ”A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

General Strike Called in Zim

MDC calls Zimbabwean general strike

· High court rejects attempt to get poll results released
· Opposition will not discourage street action

This article appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday April 15 2008 on p16 of the International section. It was last updated at 00:44 on April 15 2008.
Zimbabwean police outside the High Court in Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean police outside the High Court in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photograph: Tsvangirayi Mukwahzi/AP

Zimbabwe's opposition has called an indefinite general strike from today after the high court rejected its attempt to force the immediate release of the results of the presidential election held 17 days ago.

The strike is a crucial test of the Movement for Democratic Change's ability to mobilise popular protest against what it says is President Robert Mugabe's refusal to accept defeat. Some party leaders believe a strike is now the only effective way of pressuring the government.

The MDC said the high court accepted the state-run election commission's explanation that the results were being withheld because it was investigating alleged irregularities. "It's a very sad day in Zimbabwe," said the party's lawyer, Andrew Makoni. "[The court] has given the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) a blank cheque. We don't know when the ZEC will be ready with results. We don't know what specific time would be reasonable in the eyes of the court."

But the MDC intends to go back to court to try to block the state-run election commission's plan to recount votes for the presidential and parliamentary ballots in 23 constituencies. The recounts could see the opposition's newly-won majority in parliament overturned and its presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, lose what he claims is a clear victory over Mugabe.

The MDC's vice president, Thokhozani Khupe, yesterday called for people to join the general strike and stay at home.

"We are calling on the public to speak against ZEC for failing to release the results," she said.

The strike is the first mass action by the MDC since the election and it is unclear whether the party can mobilise support.

Unemployment is running at about 80% so most people do not have formal jobs to stay away from and those that do desperately need the money. Previous general strikes have been a failure.

Before the election the MDC floated a plan for mass street protests but has since said it will not call for any action that breaks the law. However, party leaders have made a point of saying that they would not discourage ordinary people from taking the matter into their own hands and it is clear that elements within the MDC, particularly the youth, favour some kind of demonstration beyond a strike. But the party is also aware that Zimbabwe is not Kenya and there is no tradition of mass popular protest.

The state-run Herald newspaper yesterday published what it alleged is evidence to back the government's claim of vote rigging by the opposition.

The newspaper said the document, which the Zimbabwe government presented to a meeting of regional leaders at the weekend in an attempt to justify the delays in releasing the presidential election results, was written by the MDC's secretary general, Tendai Biti, outlining a plan to bribe polling officials to "overstate" the opposition's votes. The document also speaks of a plan to "render the country ungovernable, including the possibility of resorting to armed insurrection".

The MDC yesterday described the document as "false" and part of a "dirty campaign" authored by the government.

Tsvangirai was continuing his tour of the region in an attempt to generate pressure on Mugabe to step down with a further visit to South Africa.

Its president, Thabo Mbeki, has continued to press the issue of a national unity government, although opposition sources say he favours Zanu-PF remaining in control. Mbeki won backing for that position from some countries at a regional summit at the weekend but there was disagreement over whether Mugabe should be urged to step down.

But Mbeki, who at the weekend said there is "no crisis" in Zimbabwe and who described the election as "normal", has come under criticism at home where the chairperson of the ruling African National Congress and speaker of parliament, Baleka Mbete, said that the failure to release the election results was an example of a "democratic process gone wrong".

Video of AIDS Crises in Zimbabwe (BBC)

Friends - I must confess. I am overwhelmed. To read about statistics is one thing. To speak in public and share the stories of faith in the midst of trial often leaves me inspired. But to experience... to know pain is difficult.

Today, as I wrestled through my own pain and suffering for our friends in Zimbabwe, I called a friend. I had an interesting conversation with this close spiritual adviser. Through our conversation, I again learned that the Bible calls us to love and protect the vulnerable among us...the least among us as some translations call these special people. They have become vulnerable for a reason.... many difficult reasons.

For us to love and respond in the midst of their suffering is required of us and for them. Join me in watching this BBC video from February on the Zimbabwean AIDS crises. I just came across it today. Then, consider making a gift to Forgotten Voices and join me in this important, albeit difficult work, of responding out of love and thought...even if it is hard for you to give or to observe the conditions your funds are used in. It is our great joy to work alongside those that have chosen to look after vulnerable AIDS orphans in their local communities in southern Africa.

Thank you! Sincerely. -Ryan

Zimbabwe AIDS Crises
(Video - BBC)
(Ryan's Note: Topics discussed and some images shown may be difficult for children. Screening should take place before showing to kids)

Zimbabwe opposition fail in legal bid (CNN)

Friends - PLEASE continue to pray for Zimbabwe. I cannot underestimate the effect this potential chaos could have on our operations in Zim. I've now heard of intimidation taking place near some of our projects, as well as reducing options for operations. School fees have tripled as people brace for the worst and costs continue to skyrocket.

A lot to pray about. My eyes continue to fall on 1 Thess 5:16-18.

Here's the latest piece on Zim from CNN. Thanks for praying!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Opposition rejects run-off as Mugabe tightens grip

Continue to pray for Zimbabwe. I'll most likely be posting stuff throughout the day and have several planned phone calls to pastors around the country to get reports of how our projects are doing 2 weeks after the election took place, still without results. Please continue to pray. THANK YOU! -Ryan
· Zanu-PF moves to reverse parliamentary defeat
Regional leaders to debate vote at emergency summit

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it will not take part in a run-off presidential election, in a move that may provide the pretext for Robert Mugabe to extend his 28-year rule.

The MDC urged regional leaders holding an emergency summit tomorrow to tell Mugabe to give up power immediately.

Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary-general, said the failure to release the election results nearly a fortnight after the vote amounted to a "constitutional coup d'etat".

"We won the presidential election hands down without the need of a run-off. We will not participate in a run-off," Biti said in Johannesburg.

"You cannot have a situation where 300 hours after an election the result has still to be announced."

The MDC's own calculations give its presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, 50.3% of the vote, only just above the threshold for an outright victory. The ruling Zanu-PF says neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai won a clear majority, although no official figures have been released.

Biti also said there is "evidence of the regime trying to reverse the gains we made in parliament" after Zimbabwe's election commission agreed to recount votes in five seats lost by Zanu-PF, and will consider reversing the results in seven others, in a move that could see the MDC stripped of its newly-won majority.

Last week Zanu-PF lost control of parliament for the first time since independence 28 years ago. It won 97 seats compared with 109 for the opposition.

Biti called the recounts "illegal" because the law requires they be within 48 hours of the original count. He also accused Mugabe of unleashing a wave of violence to intimidate voters into supporting him if another round of elections is held.

"It's quite clear Mugabe is trying to create the violence we saw in [the presidential election in] 2002 in which the people's will was stolen," he said.

Asked about reports that Tsvangirai, who is touring the region to drum up support ahead of the summit, was seeking asylum in another country, Biti said he thought it was not safe for Tsvangirai to return to Zimbabwe but it was for him to decide.

"Quite clearly the situation at home is volatile. The lives of all pro-democracy actors are not safe," he said.

Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai are planning to attend tomorrow's meeting of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) called by the Zambian president, Levy Mwanawasa.

Zambian state radio said Mwanawasa had planned to send a delegation of former heads of state to Zimbabwe but decided to hold an urgent summit instead because the situation had grown so serious.

Biti said the MDC wants the region's leaders to press Mugabe to resign.

"We hope the message from that meeting will be clear to President Robert Mugabe, that he must step down ... and that the people's victory should not be derailed," he said.

However, the SADC has so far been unwilling to challenge the Zimbabwean leader despite the impact of his country's crisis on its neighbours.

The opposition's concerns have been heightened by the closure of the Zimbabwe electoral commission's "national command centre" to oversee the balloting, and the moving of the recounts and collating of figures to the commission's Harare headquarters, to which opposition monitors have been denied access.

The chairman, George Chiweshe, said the commission had "scaled down" because most of the counting is done.

But Simba Makoni, a rebel Zanu-PF presidential candidate who came a distant third according to unofficial results, said he is suspicious after being prevented from observing the compilation of results.

"I am quite lost," said Makoni. "There is no more work taking place in that place ... and it gets me very worried and I believe other political contestants are similarly worried that it is taking so long and why it is taking so long is not known."

Makoni said he asked to be allowed to observe the counting process but was refused.

"I regret to say that I wasn't accorded that opportunity," he said.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Giving to Something Meaningful

So American Idol ran their American Idol Gives Back show last night. They raised a ton of money from people simply because people were asked to give. It got me thinking that people really do want to be part of something beyond themselves. Something that makes them smile. Something that makes them feel better about themselves. I see that all the time when I talk to people about why they give.

So are we telling that story about the things we care about to our friends? Even though I do this all day, you might be surprised how many people I don't ask to give to Forgotten Voices or other causes my wife and I support.

But I also got to thinking about how Forgotten Voices operates. We sometimes tend to share too many statistics and not enough stories with you all. This past month, I've been traveling the northeast talking about Forgotten Voices. At every stop I've been using a phrase that has become important to me: "Every stat has a name and every name has a story." For me, my story and involvement with Forgotten Voices started with this young boy's family. Peterson Mpofu, his sister Prudence and their family captured my heart.

Who helped you want to join the movement? If you don't have one yet...that person you think about when you think about real stories impacted by HIV/AIDS, Meet the Voices that help make our organization move from stats to stories of real local people helping AIDS orphans in their neighborhoods.

At Forgotten Voices, the beauty in our mission is that we not only address the critical statistical needs of AIDS orphans (education, food, medicine, counseling, etc), but we actually do it through local churches in Africa....alongside them. hand in hand.

One of the things that gets me all giddy about what could be is that giving to organizations like Forgotten Voices can be about us...making ourselves feel good and being part of something bigger than ourselves....while also being about the local people. For too long, we have poured resources into "saving" Africa, when the African leaders I know have been working on empowering kids in their communities for way longer than I've been alive.

It is our great joy as Americans to be blessed by wealth. With that comes a lot of responsibility, as Topher Grace and Spiderman reminds us. But we also need to remember that it is a blessing to give to the dreams of others....local people with their own priorities. That's where the joy comes for me, at least.
If you haven't done so already - check out our 1,000 Voices Campaign. We are looking for 1,000 people to GIVE $10 or more every month online, SHARE our story with 10 friends, and PRAY for our ministry partners that they have heard about as often as they can.

I'm looking to have all of you that read this join us in this realistic cause that provides real hope for local people, each with a name and each with a story. Join us today. Thanks.

Your fellow sojourner on earth and friend, Ryan (with my own stats and story)

The picture of Peterson was taken by the very talented Krista Guenin. Check out her work here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

CharityWater Spot

There is an organization doing incredible work at raising awareness regarding clean water around the world. is a group that I have come to respect and learn from.

When you get a chance - take a look at this spot that will be broadcast for the first time on tonight's American Idol Gives Back. Be challenged. Share with your friends.

Last night, our Volunteer Team discussed a water project that Forgotten Voices will engage in later this summer. As I watched CharityWater's spot, I was humbled by the millions of people that will see this tonight and want to respond. If you have friends that want to give to water projects, you can also make a donation to and help us give The Rock some clean water.

High Court delays decision again

print friendly version
author/source:SW Radio Africa
published:Tue 8-Apr-2008
posted on this site:Wed 9-Apr-2008
Article Type : News
The Zanu PF leader might have lost the poll by a bigger margin than initially reported
By Lance Guma

High Court judge Tendai Uchena postponed to Wednesday a ruling on an application by the MDC demanding the release of presidential election results from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Despite an earlier ruling that the matter was urgent, the judge demanded a second round of hearings ‘to deal with matters with full concentration.’ It remained unclear whether the judge was physically tired or just needed more time and arguments from the different legal teams. The case will begin again 10am on Wednseday. Opposition lawyer Alec Muchadehama told the court his clients ‘have a legitimate concern to have the results announced expeditiously.’ ZEC however had sought to block the High Court from intervening, by arguing it had no jurisdiction to order ZEC to announce the results. This argument was thrown out by Uchena and paved the way Tuesday for the actual court case to begin.

Both ZEC and MDC lawyers spent the day putting forward their main legal arguments on the matter. It has taken over four days just for the matter to be heard. On Saturday armed police temporarily blocked MDC lawyers from accessing the courts. When they were eventually allowed inside ZEC lawyers said they were not ready and this forced a postponement to Sunday. The judge on Sunday delayed until Monday, a ruling on whether he could actually hear the case. On Monday he said he could but delayed until Tuesday a decision on whether it was an urgent matter. Zanu PF meanwhile has started a crackdown, arresting as yet unnamed ZEC officials under the guise of investigating alleged vote irregularities. Zimbabweans cast their votes 10 days ago and up till now Mugabe has ordered a freeze on any announcement of the presidential result. New information suggests the Zanu PF leader might have lost the poll by a bigger margin than initially reported and his regime is desperately trying to massage the figures to necessitate a second round of voting. Others suggest Mugabe is buying time to plot his next political move and is trying to boost morale in his camp by unleashing a show of force around the country.