The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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MDC Press

24 April, 2003
POLICE ARREST MOURNERS IN CHITUNGWIZA

Police in Chitungwiza (Harare) last night attacked and brutally assaulted mourners at the funeral of MDC activist Richard Tonderai Machiridza, who died last Friday.

Police blocked the road to the community hall where the body of the deceased was to be taken before burial, and insisted that the body should not be taken to the hall. Such callous behaviour incensed the mourners, who then decided to take the body to the home of a police officer named Chikwizo, who is based in St Mary's (Harare). Before he died Machiriidza named Chikwizo as one of his torturers. 

Two truckloads of police, supported by the army, later descended at the home of Lovemore Mutamba, a relative of the deceased, where the funeral was held. They fired at least 10 shots before jumping the security fence and arresting all the mourners, including the mother of the deceased, his brother Benjamin and other close relatives. 

At the time of writing this press release, all the mourners are still being detained at St Mary's police station along with the body of the deceased.

The police are now demanding that the body should be taken for burial today but have not stated how this is going to be possible when all the relatives of the deceased are still being detained.

The insensitive behaviour that has been displayed by the police is shocking. They killed an innocent citizen and they are not even prepared to let him have a decent burial.

Machiridza and three others were arrested by police officers last Sunday and were severely tortured in the hands of the same officers. Machiridza later died at Avenues as a result of injuries sustained.

We have said before that the Zimbabwean police force is now controlled and directed by ZANU PF and as such will do anything to please their masters, including breaking the law. The Mugabe regime will do anything to preserve its illegitimate position.

We appeal to those few police officers at St Mary's who still have a human soul to refuse to be used to do such disgusting things

Further details can be obtained from Lovemore Mutamba on 00263 91 924 047 or Tendekai on 00263 91 924 134.

 

Paul Themba Nyathi
Secretary for Information and Publicity

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US Could Influence Regime Change in Zimbabwe, Analyst Says
http://www.crosswalk.com/news/1196795.html
Stephen Mbogo
Correspondent

Nairobi, Kenya (CNSNews.com) - The United States could force a regime change
in Zimbabwe without great difficulty, and without the need to resort to
force as was the case the Iraq, a political analyst said here.

Dr. Gerrison Ikiara of the University of Nairobi said U.S. doesn't need to
use military force to bring about political change in Zimbabwe, as it had a
record of influencing regime changes in Africa without firing a bullet.

He cited the fall of Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, and
the late Kamuzu Banda of Malawi.

With focused attention, the U.S. could "use the opposition and civil society
to make Zimbabwe ungovernable," and hence precipitate the fall of President
Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe is accused of direct responsibility for the political and
socioeconomic crisis currently gripping the southern African country.

Ikiara was commenting on reports about renewed U.S. demands that Mugabe
resign to pave the way for fresh presidential elections.

Reports cited an unnamed State Department official as saying Zimbabwe's
neighbors had to realize the seriousness of the problems Mugabe had brought
upon his country and southern Africa in general.

"What we're telling them is there has to be a transitional government in
Zimbabwe that leads to a free and fair, internationally-supervised election.
He [President Mugabe] stole the last one; we can't let that happen again."

"It has to be internationally-supervised, open, transparent with an
electoral commission that works," the official added.

Analysts said the comments were largely directed at President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa, who has emerged as a key Mugabe ally in the region, and says
he is pursuing "quiet diplomacy" with the embattled leader.

Ikiara attributed Mbeki's inaction on Mugabe to the support the latter
offered exiled South African political organizations during the apartheid er
a.

"Mbeki, however, remains the best route through which Mugabe can be
prevailed upon to resign," he said.

South Africa borders Zimbabwe to the south and is its main trading partner.

Zimbabwean officials have been quick to dismiss the reported U.S. calls.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba said the demand was not news, while
spokesman for Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party, Nathan Shamuyarira, said the
U.S. should respect the "wishes of Zimbabweans."

"If the Americans don't want to accept our legitimacy, it is their own
problem," he said. "They can go to hell. There will be no new elections
here."

Nonetheless, Mugabe in a media interview showed a rare conciliatory approach
when he
said he was ready to meet with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai - but
only on condition he recognized Mugabe as the rightfully elected president.

Meanwhile a civil disobedience campaign continues, and a national workers'
strike began Wednesday.

Ahead of the strike, security agents arrested senior trade union officials,
eliciting a statement of condemnation from the International Confederation
of Free Trade Unions, which said it supported the labor action.

Experts have attributed Zimbabwe's economic crisis to a controversial land
reform program, aimed at giving commercial, white-owned farms to black
peasants to farm but in the end benefiting wealthy elites close to Mugabe.

Land confiscations have resulted in farms not being worked, leading to food
shortages. Many farm workers also lost their homes and livelihoods when the
farmers they worked for were expelled, sometimes violently.

The U.N. World Food Program is currently feeding more than five million
Zimbabweans, out of a total population of 11.3 million.
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MSNBC

Zimbabwe opposition chief says barred from funeral

HARARE, April 24 - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on
Thursday police barred him and his supporters from attending the funeral of
a party activist who was allegedly tortured to death by security agents.

       In a statement, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
also alleged that police near the capital Harare detained the dead man's
grieving relatives overnight, including his wife and mother, and assaulted
some of them after a dispute over funeral arrangements. They were released
on Thursday, MDC said.
       Police were unavailable for immediate comment on Thursday. But in the
past they have accused the MDC of using the private media to smear its
reputation with false allegations of torture.
       The MDC says MDC activist Richard Tonderai Machiridza died in
hospital a week ago after allegedly being tortured by security agents who
accused him of involvement in violence during an opposition protest last
month.
       The MDC organised a two-day national strike in March that turned out
to be one of the biggest protests against President Robert Mugabe since he
came to power 23 years ago. The government has responded with a fierce
crackdown that has seen police detain, and later release, about MDC 500
members.
       On Thursday, the MDC said Tsvangirai and other opposition members
were barred from Machiridza's funeral by police, who according to the MDC
said the burial would be attended by relatives only and would take place
under police guard.
       ''The pattern is the same: dictators cause the arrest of people,
torture and kill them while in their custody and refuse to allow their
families to perform their last rites and bury the murdered innocents in a
dignified way,'' Tsvangirai said in the statement.
       Zimbabwe is facing its worst crisis in more than two decades, with
soaring unemployment and shortages of fuel, foreign exchange and food which
many Zimbabweans blame on Mugabe's policies.
       The Zimbabwe government has been hit this week by the second strike
in just over a month, this time over higher fuel prices.
       The three-day strike called by trade unions allied to the opposition
began on Wednesday, and has shut shops and industries in urban areas across
the southern African country.
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Continued Support for National Strike

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

April 24, 2003
Posted to the web April 24, 2003

Johannesburg

Trade union officials on Thursday said up to 70 percent of the country's
businesses remained closed on the second day of a three-day national strike.

"Banks, stores and factories across the country have continued to heed the
call to shut down. This is a promising sign that the strike has achieved
what it set out to do. We expect that the success of this action will
increase the pressure on the government to make some significant changes,"
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general, Wellington
Chibebe, told IRIN.


ZCTU called the stayaway in protest over a 200 percent hike in fuel prices
introduced last week, which increased urban commuter bus fares. The ZCTU
argued that workers would now have to spend about 60 percent of their
monthly wages on transport.

Chibebe said although no incidents of violence had been reported, there had
been a number of cases where police had forced shop owners to open their
businesses.

"While some shop owners were coerced into opening their stores, many found
that they had to do without their staff who decided to stay at home. In
Mashonaland West there were reported cases of labourers being frog-marched
to work," he added.

In terms of the country's security laws the strike is regarded as illegal by
the authorities.

The official Herald newspaper on Thursday said the stayaway was ill-timed as
"government was in the process of coming up with new commuter fares and new
minimum wages" to cushion workers from the effects of the fuel price hike.

According to the newspaper, the government and urban transport operators on
Tuesday agreed on new fares.

But Chibebe dismissed the report, saying: "The government has had more than
enough time to implement new fares and introduce an increased minimum wage.
It is mischievous to portray the labour movement as an accomplice in the
deterioration of the economy when we have called on the government on
several occasions to address hyper-inflation."

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Witness Mangwende threatened to withdraw the
permits of minibus operators if they continued to "refuse to provide normal
services to the public".

Last month, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change staged a two-day
strike that shut down about 80 percent of businesses and industries in one
of the biggest protests seen in Zimbabwe. The opposition group called on the
government to restore the rule of law and agree to hold new elections.
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Big Hit Still to Come, Vows MDC As Zim Grinds to Halt

Cape Argus (Cape Town)

April 24, 2003
Posted to the web April 24, 2003

Brian Latham


The three-day strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to
protest against a three-fold petrol price increase kicked in yesterday,
bringing the country to a virtual standstill.

ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe said that between 65 and 70% of
workers had stayed at home. Opposition members said the strike was just the
next step in an ongoing campaign, vowing that "the big one" was still to
come.


The strike coincided with the visit to Zimbabwe of the Angolan foreign
minister Jo<o Miranda ahead of a Southern African Development Community
(SADC) task force set to investigate human rights abuses in the country.

Miranda said a date for the SADC task force visit is yet to be decided.

Expecting a wave of arrests and retribution, ZCTU officials abandoned their
run-down Harare city centre headquarters yesterday. Instead they
co-ordinated the strike from homes and cars as police set up roadblocks on
major roads leading into the city.

"We know we will be arrested, but we don't care because our cause is just,"
said Chibhebhe.

ZCTU officials said the strike had been violence-free by yesterday
afternoon, though police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena reported that a bank
official in the southern city of Masvingo had been beaten by youths "asking
him why he had reported for work."

State radio reported that in parts of the country it was "business as
usual", but claimed thousands of workers had been unable to find transport
to work because of the fuel shortage gripping Zimbabwe.

MDC presidential spokesman Will Bango added: "The whole country is now
effectively shut down by the ZCTU strike which is a curtainraiser to the big
one coming soon. The big and final one is set to include the rural areas."

MDC executive member Eddie Cross said the strike was the start of "a
concerted drive by civic organisations and the MDC to do what Thabo Mbeki
and Olusegun Obasanjo were tasked to do and failed, and that is to get
Mugabe to come to the negotiating table or leave the scene".
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BBC
 
Zimbabwe strike holds
Petrol station in Harare
Petrol is hard to find in Zimbabwe
Many shops and businesses across Zimbabwe have remained closed on the second day of a national strike, in protest at the government's decision to triple the price of fuel.

The streets of the capital, Harare, were reported to be busy with some small shops and fast food outlets open but banks and large outlets were shut.

Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, remains quiet.

The three day strike called by the country's main labour movement has been declared illegal and police are patrolling the streets.

But there have been no reports of trouble so far.

The economy is in desperate trouble with inflation running at more than 200%, soaring unemployment and shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

Zimbabwe's Congress of Trade Unions argues that for many workers it will now cost more almost as much to get to work as they would earn in a day.

It has pledged to extend the job boycott indefinitely unless the government reverses the price increase.

"For now we are happy to say this strike has been massive and the government should listen to the message from (the) strike," a union official told Reuters new agency.

The government said the 200% rise in petrol prices was necessary to help pay for fuel imports. which have become scarce since shipments from Libya stopped last year.

And it has threatened to withdraw operating permits from transport operators who join in the strike.

Arrests

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has backed the strike and called on all progressive Zimbabweans to support it.

President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe faces domestic and foreign pressure
Three trade union officials were detained by police in Bulawayo in connection with the strike call.

Last month, the MDC staged a two-day strike that shut down about 80% of businesses and industries in one of the biggest protests seen in Zimbabwe.

In a security crackdown that followed, hundreds of MDC officials were arrested.

Speaking in a televised interview marking the 23rd anniversary of independence, Mr Mugabe blamed the country's current economic problems on the MDC, whom he described as a neo-colonialist extension of Britain.

But he also said he was ready to meet MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss the crisis if the opposition recognised his disputed re-election last year.

But Mr Tsvangirai rejected this offer saying his party would press on with its challenge to the legality of Mugabe's re-election.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader told the BBC's Network Africa that he would not accept pre-conditions for talks.

Independent observers have said that Zimbabwe's presidential election was neither free nor fair.

Nearly eight million Zimbabweans face food shortages which President Robert Mugabe's government blames on drought but critics pin partly on his land reform policy.


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Mail and Guardian

Mugabe won't step down, says Leon

      Donwald Pressly | Cape Town

      24 April 2003 13:48

Reacting to the hint that President Robert Mugabe could retire, South
African opposition leader Tony Leon says said the Zimbabwean president made
conciliatory statements "in order to buy time but he has no intention of
being bound by his words".

Mugabe hinted this week he would retire once his land reform project was
completed.

Leon said reports that Mugabe was building a R37-million mansion at a time
when his fellow Zimbabweans faced starvation and members of the opposition
were being tortured and killed "further illustrates the venality of his
regime but do not prove his intent to step down".

"Even if suggestions of President Mugabe's retirement were to be accepted as
true, they would not go far enough in addressing Zimbabwe's political
crisis. The problem in Zimbabwe is not just President Mugabe but the entire
corrupt elite that surrounds him."

Leon said that the only real and just remedy for Zimbabwe was a return to
democracy -- through holding fresh presidential elections and monitored by
international observers.

Leon said President Mugage's heir apparent was Zimbabwe Parliament Speaker
Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he described as "a man who has no respect for
democracy or human rights."

Leon said Mnangagwa was recently named in a United Nations report as being
the "architect" of the Zimbabwean army's campaign of plunder in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.

"He funneled riches to Zanu-PF cronies as the Cognolese people bled, and has
been implicated in the trade of conflict diamonds."

Leon said Mnangagwa was also head of the Central Intelligence Organisation
during the 1982-87 Matabeleland genocide.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) leader said Mnangagwa was embraced and
applauded by ANC officials at the ANC National Conference in December 2002.

"But to the Zimbabwean people, he is not a man to be trusted," said Leon.

Leon said he had sent a letter to President Thabo Mbeki requesting that he
make public the Commonwealth Secretary General's report on the Commonwealth
chairpersons' committee on Zimbabwe.

"I have also asked that he (the president) president it to the Speaker (of
the National Assembly) for distribution to all MPs and for debate in the
National Assembly." - I-Net Bridge
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MSNBC

Zimbabwe threatens bus owners to break strike

By Cris Chinaka


HARARE, April 24 - Zimbabwe on Thursday tried to break a national strike
over higher fuel prices by ordering commuter transporters to slash their
fares and threatening to cancel licences for buses that stay off the road.
       But the strike, called by Zimbabwe's main labour movement after the
government more than trebled fuel prices last week, entered its second day
on Thursday with many industries, banks and shops across the southern
African country shut.
       ''For now we are happy to say this strike has been massive and the
government should listen to the message from (the) strike,'' a union
official told Reuters.
       The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) launched the three-day
stoppage saying the new fuel prices had made life harder for ordinary
industrial workers who now have to spend about 60 percent of their monthly
wages on transport.
       Backed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the strike
is the second against President Robert Mugabe in just over a month. It puts
more pressure on a government facing its worst political and economic crisis
since independence in 1980.
       Armed police set up roadblocks and patrols in the major centres on
Thursday and in Harare a military helicopter made rounds over the capital
monitoring the situation.
       But there was no sign of the violence which marked last month's
two-day opposition strike, which shut down an estimated 80 percent of
industry and became one of the largest protests against Mugabe's 23-year
rule.
       It also triggered a crackdown on the opposition by Mugabe's security
forces. The MDC says Mugabe rigged last year's presidential election and has
vowed to lead street protests to drive him from office.
       Zimbabwe's government hiked fuel prices last week, pushing petrol to
Z$450 ($0.55) a litre from $145 ($0.18).
       It said this was needed to boost fuel imports in a country facing
severe shortages since Libya cut fuel shipments last year after the collapse
of a barter deal.
       The increase forced commuter transport to treble their fares to about
Z$600 a trip in Harare.
       Transport Minister Witness Mangwende accused some bus owners of
backing the ZCTU strike and warned that those who keep their buses off the
road would lose their licences.
       A spokesman at the Harare Urban Commuter Transporters Association
said many operators had pulled out their fleet off the road in fear of
violence or because of lack of fuel.
       ''We are not involved in any politics or profiteering, and to show
our sincerity we are discussing with the government the appropriate fares
and we are encouraging those who are assured of fuel and security to provide
services,'' he told Reuters.
       ($ - 824 Zimbabwe dollars at official exchange rate, or 1,300 at
black market rate)
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      ZIMBABWE: Sexual abuse rises as humanitarian crisis worsens
      IRINnews Africa, Thu 24 Apr 2003

        UNICEF

      UNICEF is part of the "Zero Tolerance Against Child Abuse" campaign

      HARARE, - "Before I came here, I was feeling very guilty, but now I
feel much better," said 16-year-old Tendai, twisting her hands nervously.

      She was chatting with a woman who looked on with compassion. They were
both sitting with Tendai's mother in a small white painted room with bright
posters on the walls. Piled on the shelves were skilfully crafted
brown-coloured handmade dolls of all ages and both sexes.

      The room is used for counselling children who have been sexually
abused. The dolls are anatomically accurate - underneath their clothes they
have either female or male genitalia.

      "We use these dolls when the children cannot communicate easily,"
explained Miriam Machaya, the director of the Family Support Trust, which
was set up in 1998 to support sexually abused children. The dolls are
especially useful for the very young. For example, that week the dolls were
used with a three-year-old girl who was able to relate how her "sekuru"
(Shona for uncle) sexually abused her.

      Most of the cases of abuse are committed by a relative or somebody
close to the family of the child. Tendai (not her real name) was indecently
assaulted by her stepfather. Her mother was away at the time. She reported
the attack immediately to her mother and both of them left her stepfather,
who was drunk and is one of the millions of unemployed in the country.

      The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe affects more than half of the
country's 11.6 million people. As it has worsened, so to have the number of
reported cases of child abuse.

      "The effects of two years of severe drought, increasing poverty, the
devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic and economic decline have left children
especially vulnerable to abuse," said Dr Festo Kavishe, UN Children's Fund
(UNICEF) Representative for Zimbabwe.

      Inflation has rocketed to 228 percent and unemployment is reportedly
somewhere between 75 and 80 percent. Around 75 percent of Zimbabweans are
now classified as poor, and more than 30 percent of the adult population is
HIV positive.

      Soon the number of orphans, mainly due to HIV/AIDS, will reach one
million. "It is a sad reality that in the context of hunger and poverty,
these children - who should be the most protected - are often the most
abused," said Kavishe. "They are often denied their basic rights, and are
burdened with having to work at the expense of their rights as children to
play and to attend school. Moreover, they have fallen prey to sexual abuse
by adult relatives."

      Some 12 percent of all children are HIV positive, mainly through
maternal infections. But a significant number is through sexual abuse by men
who are HIV positive, thinking they can cure themselves of AIDS by having
sex with a virgin.

      UNICEF, in partnership with several NGOs, supports a national campaign
on "Zero Tolerance Against Child Abuse". As part of the campaign, UNICEF has
supported training of trainers' workshops. The participants include
government officials, NGOs, journalists, police and teachers. UNICEF has
also contributed towards the production and distribution of 10,000 music
cassettes with messages linking HIV/AIDS to sexual exploitation and child
abuse.

      Machaya, of Family Support Trust, has also worked and trained members
of the community to be better sensitised to the growing problem. "People in
all sectors are becoming more aware," said Machaya. "The victims and the
families are finding it easier to come forward because now they are dealt
with in a more sensitive manner. Most of them now say they want to go to
court. We don't force them, although legally they should."

      The clinic which Tendai attends in the capital, Harare, sees about
eight cases of child abuse every day. The usual procedure is that a
specially trained counsellor interviews the child. If it is a rape that
occurred within 72 hours, the child will be offered antiretrovirals, and
pre-test and post-test HIV counselling. A specially trained doctor examines
the child and a full report is made which can be used in court.

      If necessary, the child goes to the treatment room and receives
further counselling. Those children who are severely traumatised see a
psychologist.

      Victim-Friendly Courts have also been set up in each province. But due
to lack of funds, the equipment, such as video cameras to prevent the victim
from seeing the defendant, has broken down and cases are held up, sometimes
for years.

      Kavishe recounted the case of a 12-year-old girl, Belinda. She was
sick with AIDS-related diseases and told her counsellors she would not die
happy unless she witnessed the sentencing "to a long time in prison" of the
man who raped her six years ago.

      In December last year, the Victim-Friendly Court in Gweru, in the
centre of the country, was able to function again and Belinda was able to
testify. The man who raped her, who was a friend of Belinda's late father,
was sentenced to 20 years behind bars - 10 years for raping Belinda and
another 10 for raping another young child. Belinda died in January this
year, just a month after the sentencing.

      Kavishe recently attended a Victim-Friendly Court in Harare, where he
witnessed a three-year-old testify against a teenage neighbour who had
allegedly raped her. "It was encouraging to see a child as young as she was,
empowered to defend her right to protection," he said.
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Why Do Africans Never Ever Trust the Voters?

New Vision (Kampala)

COLUMN
April 24, 2003
Posted to the web April 24, 2003

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
Kampala

President and retired General, Matthew Okikiolahan Olushegun Aremu Obasanjo
was last Tuesday declared the 'rightful winner' of Nigeria's presidential
election held last Saturday. His victory did not come as a surprise to many
Nigerians and independent observers.

However, the scale of it has been a shock. How does one react to the glaring
irregularities witnessed by all observers and reported widely in Nigeria,
especially in the oil-rich Niger Delta areas?


I am not really concerned about what the so-called international observers
who are on election safari are saying. Their hand-wringing and statements of
concern has never really changed the outcome of any election. Their next
safari is guaranteed once they make their now customary declarations
bemoaning irregularities and procedural inadequacies.

In 1999 the Jimmy Carter Centre Observers even refused to formally endorse
the results of the election for Obasanjo's first term. It did not make an
iota of difference.

What did international concerns about Chiluba's stitch-up operation in
favour of Mwanawasa do to Zambia? And the mother of all disputed elections:
Mugabe in Zimbabwe? Despite Commonwealth ducking and diving, is Mugabe not
still in power?

But of all the international busy bodies those that I resent most for their
lack of humility and self-righteousness are the American ones.

You would have thought that after the stolen mandate of Florida that has
inflicted Bush Jr on the world, Americans would be more humble on questions
of democracy and the democratic process.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) that is closely tied to the
Republican Party is one of the election tourists monitoring the Nigerian
elections and making all kinds of noise about 'irregularities'. Until I read
its 'independent verdict on the American presidential polls of 2001, I will
not be bothered to hear its view on Nigeria's or any other country's
elections. As they say, charity begins at home.

But that is just one side of the grim picture. We should not be too bothered
about what outsiders say or think about us since they often do not bother or
give a damn about what we think of them. However, while holding our
solidarity against busy body outsiders we should not be complacent about our
failings.

Therefore, we should take seriously what the real actors and victims of the
electoral circus, their activists, local monitors and regional observers are
saying.

The Transition Monitoring Group (an umbrella grouping of local NGOs across
the country) deployed over 10,000 monitors across the country: the Catholic
Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), had over 30, 000 monitors
while the Media Monitoring Group also had monitors across the country. They
all expressed grave concerns about a lot of irregularities, violence,
intimidation and flagrant abuse of the electoral process.

One of them observed that "voting generally went off peacefully but
collation and counting of votes is largely fraudulent especially in the
Southeast and in the Niger Delta".

All the machinations, skulduggery and manipulations of incumbency, power of
money, promise of positions and threat of officialdom aside, I believe
Obasanjo defeated his closest rival, General Muhammadu Buhari, whatever the
case. Apart from Buhari, all the other 19 candidates were not serious
contenders.

Obasanjo and his party has joined the unenviable club of Africa's unwilling
democrats who do not trust the voters enough to leave all to them, probably
sharing the cynicism embodied in the saying: "faith needs a helping hand".

Why should contestants rig or manipulate results in an election they would
have won? This seemingly absurd practice has its own logic.

First, it is just to be sure, triple sure, that the voters voted wisely (for
the advantaged party).

Second, inflated figures from areas that a party (usually ruling party) has
won may help counter or neutralise gains that may have been made by opposing
parties in other areas.

Third, it also nullifies the political threat that other parties may pose to
the winning party by reducing their real impact and voter base. Four, in the
final game of numbers at the national level, the bloated figures give a
wrong impression of the actual popularity of the winning party.

The recrimination from the opposition parties is predictable. In Africa, the
only result politicians accept is one in which they are winners. But that
said, God has to be a Nigerian for this 'massive victory' of the PDP and
Obasanjo not to become a defeat for Nigeria.

One party controlling 28 out of 36 states in addition to the presidency may
leave too many stakeholders out and undermine the very fragile uneven
democratic process. One hope is the possibility that some of the obvious
electoral thefts may be reversed through the tribunal process otherwise the
legitimacy crises will overwhelm Obasanjo's second term and dim the hope of
those who believe that he would improve in his second and final term.

The election should not be the end of the democratic process. The aggrieved
shouldrely on the law to pursue their grievances peacefully.
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Nigeria Betrays Africa

The Monitor (Kampala)

EDITORIAL
April 24, 2003
Posted to the web April 24, 2003

Kampala

The opposition in Nigeria has called the result of the general election,
which was conducted on 19 April, a "huge joke".

Various reports suggest massive electoral fraud carried out by those who
wanted to retain Olusegun Obasanjo as the president of Africa's most
populous nation.

On top of the fraud that has been confirmed by both local and international
monitors, there have been at least 25 deaths at the hands of the armed
forces that are quite happy about Mr Obasanjo's disputed victory.

Nigeria has thus again embarrassed Africa before the international
community.

This is one country that should ideally be showing the poorer and smaller
African nations the way towards democracy and economic development but
instead she prefers to wallow in self-destructing behaviour.

From the oil rich Rivers State to Kaduna, there was a complete break down in
the electoral process. Commonwealth observers are now saying that "the
official results collected bore little relation to the evidence gathered" on
the ground.

The Nigerians will have themselves to blame for the reversal from the hope
that came with a return to "civilian" rule in 1999.

Nigeria has one of the best brains in Africa and, with more than 100
universities, she easily lays claim to huge numbers of highly educated
people.

How sad that in such enlightened circumstances, the best Nigeria could come
up with for presidential candidates are disgraced generals and other people
with very questionable reputations.

By allowing soldiers who do not necessarily hold democracy in high esteem to
lead the way, the Nigerians inadvertently gave up their right to free and
fair self-determination.

After the brief optimism that the December 2002 election and peaceful hand
over of power in Kenya brought to the continent, the Nigerians have
succeeded in re-introducing the gloomy picture that Africa presents to the
world community.

Ironically, Mr Obasanjo sits on the Commonwealth committee that is working
to return some sanity to Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

Where will a man who has himself been accused of stealing an election get
the moral authority to lecture good old Mugabe on good governance?
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Business Day

Leon proposes monitored Zim election
(Haven't we had this before?...B)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Donwald Pressly
South African opposition leader Tony Leon says the only real and just remedy
for Zimbabwe was a return to democracy - through holding fresh presidential
elections and monitored by international observers.

Reacting to the hint this week that President Robert Mugabe could retire -
once his land reform project was completed - Leon said the Zimbabwean
president made conciliatory statements "in order to buy time but he has no
intention of being bound by his words".

Leon said reports that Mugabe was building a R37-million mansion at a time
when his fellow Zimbabweans faced starvation and members of the opposition
were being tortured and killed "further illustrate the venality of his
regime but do not prove his intent to step down".

"Even if suggestions of President Mugabe's retirement were to be accepted as
true, they would not go far enough in addressing Zimbabwe's political
crisis. The problem in Zimbabwe is not just President Mugabe but the entire
corrupt elite that surrounds him."

Leon said President Mugage's heir apparent was Zimbabwe Parliament Speaker
Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he described as "a man who has no respect for
democracy or human rights".

Leon said Mnangagwa was recently named in a United Nations report as being
the "architect" of the Zimbabwean army's campaign of plunder in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.

"He funneled riches to Zanu-PF cronies as the Cognolese people bled, and has
been implicated in the trade of conflict diamonds."

Leon said Mnangagwa was also head of the Central Intelligence Organisation
during the 1982-87 Matabeleland genocide.

The Democratic Alliance leader said Mnangagwa was embraced and applauded by
ANC officials at the ANC National Conference in December 2002.

"But to the Zimbabwean people, he is not a man to be trusted," said Leon.

Leon said he had sent a letter to President Thabo Mbeki requesting that he
make public the Commonwealth Secretary General's report on the Commonwealth
chairpersons' committee on Zimbabwe.

"I have also asked that he (the president) president it to the Speaker (of
the National Assembly) for distribution to all MPs and for debate in the
National Assembly."

I-Net Bridge
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There has been no Daily News online since Tuesday - because of the strike?
Here is what the Herald is saying...

State slams economic saboteurs

Herald Reporters
THE Government yesterday said it was dismayed to see some elements in labour
and business working with external interests hostile to Zimbabwe to
undermine national sovereignty by seeking to cripple the economy and cause
chaos using an illegal stayaway and lock-outs.

This comes in the wake of an illegal three-day stayaway called by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions ostensibly to protest against recent fuel
price increases.

Most workers who reported for duty yesterday found their workplaces closed
and had to go back home.

"Consequently and in the interests of the rule of law, relevant authorities
in Government are compiling data on those industries that have illegally
locked out workers for reasons that are manifestly political and have done
so at great cost to many other third parties," said the Minister of State
for Information and Publicity, Professor Jona-than Moyo.

He said criminal and civil liabilities would have to be sought against the
culprits in terms of section 28, Part IV of the Public Order and Security
Act, which imposes civil liability on people who organise illegal actions
that impose costs on the public.

Those elements in labour who have called and encouraged the illegal stayaway
which has resulted in costs on third parties would have to be criminally
prosecuted and held liable in terms of section 109 of the Labour Relations
Amendment Act for failure to comply with section 104 of the same Act.

Under the section, no employees, workers committee, trade union, employer,
employer organisation or federation shall resort to collective job action
unless they give 14 days written notice of intent to such action specifying
the grounds for the intended action.

It also specifies that no collective job action may be recommended or
engaged in by any workers committee or trade union except with the agreement
of the majority of the employees voting by secret ballot.

According to section 109 of the Act, if a workers committee, trade union,
employers organisation or federation of trade unions or any individual
employer or employee group recommends, advises, encourages, threatened,
incites, commands, aids, procures, organises or engages in any collective
job action which is prohibited in terms of section 104, he/she shall be
guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period not
exceeding five years, or both fine and imprisonment.

The ZCTU strike comes less than 14 days after the fuel price increases
announced on April 16.

Prof Moyo said the sections of POSA and the Labour Relations Act would be
applied vigorously on the leaders and organisations of the illegal stayaway
without fear or favour.

"Consequently the Government is calling on all members of the public who
have been affected either by illegal lock-outs, by industry assisting the
illegal action or by the illegal stayaway to approach relevant authorities
in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare or the police.

"Government meanwhile is compiling its own independent data on all those who
have done this."

The Government's first and foremost commitment was to ensure that
Zimbabweans had the peace, stability and order necessary for them to go
about their lives freely and peacefully, not just to revive the economy, but
to better their own lives and develop the country.

"That is the primary commitment of Government. And in the context of the
National Economic Recovery Programme, Government is determined and will do
everything possible to ensure that the agreed principles and parameters of
the programme are implemented and that the details are negotiated and agreed
on without giving up or compromising its constitutional obligation, duty and
responsibility to discharge the mandate of the people."

Some shops, banks, departmental stores and supermarkets opened in the
morning but closed around midday after allegedly receiving telephone calls
threatening to bomb them if they remained open.

In Harare's central business district, long and winding queues could be seen
outside banks and at automated teller machines.

Food outlets, flea markets and most informal sector traders were operating
as usual although they said business was low.

Some people who had come for shopping in town deplored the stayaway and
criticised supermarkets that closed their businesses.

Elsewhere, it was business as usual in most towns with banking halls, shops
and supermarkets remaining open since Wednesday.

Commuter omnibus operators who defied new fares approved by the Government
risk losing their permits.

The Government warned once again that it would withdraw licences and permits
from operators who were assisting the illegal strike called by the ZCTU
through charging high fares or withdrawing their buses.

"Submissions have been made which Government is considering. Those minibus
operators who do not want to observe the law and want to become a law unto
themselves have no business in the transport section and must leave and
enter politics," said the Minister of State for Information and Publicity,
Professor Jonathan Moyo.

He criticised operators who were allegedly paid by the ZCTU and the MDC to
keep their buses off the roads saying they should realise that they were
accepting trinkets without taking into consideration their long term
interests.
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