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

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Newsday, New York

Voters ready to take a stand
Saying that the elections in Zimbabwe were fraudulent, many in small town
are ready for a call to action

BY NICOLE ITANO
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

April 5, 2005

PORTA FARM, Zimbabwe -- There is no electricity in this ramshackle
settlement 25 miles outside Zimbabwe's capital Harare, just dirty, barefoot
children and hastily built houses crumbling under the weight of time.
Fifteen years ago, residents say, the government resettled them on this
small patch of land, promising to move them soon to proper homes and to
provide them with government services.

Today, there is seething anger against a government people believe forgot
them, and strong support for the country's main opposition party. Yet when
the votes in last week's parliamentary elections were tallied over the
weekend, the ruling Zimbabwe National African Union-Patriotic Front won 402
to the opposition's 289.

"We are angry at Porta Farm," said Mavis Bhosha, 43, a mother of nine. "They
have stolen it." Zimbabwe's opposition says the outcome in this makeshift
village - and in the surrounding electoral district of Manyame - symbolizes
the kind of widespread fraud they say left them with only 41 of 120 elected
seats in parliament, down from the 57 they won in 2000.

The southern African country's past two elections were characterized by
widespread violence against opposition supporters. This time was more
peaceful, but, critics say, fraudulent. According to totals released by the
Electoral Commission Saturday, President Robert Mugabe's ruling party
crushed the opposition Movement for Democratic Change with a landslide
two-thirds majority in the 150-seat body. The president appoints 30 seats.

But the MDC charges that in Manyame and at least 30 other districts there
are serious inconsistencies with the results that are large enough to alter
the outcome. In this and a number of other areas, the total number of votes
cast, announced by the election commission early Friday before the final
results, does not jibe with the actual vote totals. The commission initially
said 14,812 people voted here, but the final results show a total of more
than 24,000. Where, the MDC asks, did the nearly 10,000 extra votes come
from?

In other areas, such high numbers were turned away that their votes could
have made a difference. The Electoral Commission says 10 percent of voters
nationwide were sent home without casting ballots, either because their
names were not on voter rolls, which civil society groups say are in
shambles, or because they lacked proper identification.

Here in Porta Farm, hundreds of people protested after the results were
posted outside the polling station. Bhosha's eldest daughter Yvonne, 27,
said she does not believe the Zanu-PF candidate, who is Mugabe's nephew,
could have won Porta Farm. "There are some here, but they are few," she said
of the Zanu-PF. "MDC supporters, they are many."

Mugabe, Zimbabwe's leader for the past 25 years, dismissed the opposition's
claims and its call Sunday for a new election, saying that in an election,
as in any sporting match, there is only one winner.

"The losing side, although it gets disappointed, must not look at it as the
end of the world and must be strong enough to accept defeat and not look for
all kinds of excuses which might complicate relations," he said.

Election officials have been closed-mouthed about how the discrepancies
could have occurred and, after the opposition and civil society groups began
questioning the numbers, refused to release vote totals for four of the
country's six provinces. The MDC and an independent local monitoring group
are trying to verify the results with numbers from their own polling agents
and observers. But the information is trickling in slowly, delayed in some
areas by election officials who observers said locked monitors and observers
into polling stations until results were announced.

While many Western nations, including the United States, have condemned
Thursday's election, observer groups from neighboring countries largely gave
their stamp of approval, saying the elections represented the will of the
people. They also congratulated Zimbabwe for a more peaceful vote.

For the MDC, which has now lost three successive elections in balloting
widely condemned as unfair, options are narrowing. The loss leaves them
politically impotent in parliament, yet Zimbabwe's oppressive laws make
peaceful protest nearly impossible.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has hesitated to call for mass action,
fearing a violent government crackdown and an unwillingness by his
supporters to risk injury or death. People here, however, say they are
willing to go to the streets and are simply waiting for a call they expect
soon.

"They are prepared to go," said Yvonne Bhosha. "They are still angry. They
want to demonstrate. Some of the people said they are ready for the war."

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From: "Trudy Stevenson"
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2005 6:39 AM
Subject: Election and results

Hello, everyone, and thank you all who have put body and soul into this
election, supporting the Movement for Democratic Change and all who support
and represent our Party!

We candidates have been completely exhausted by the enormous effort required
to fight the election, and the extra surprises and burden thrust upon us on
election night, when we were suddenly told our agents would have to be
locked inside the polling stations with the ballot boxes.  We had not made
provision for this, and had to suddenly, at the end of an already long and
strenuous day, find more food, blankets and allowances to compensate our
election agents who are vital in the monitoring process and had no idea
whatsoever they would be required to spend the entire night at the polling
station.  This might explain the sudden inflated numbers of ZanuPF votes in
rural areas - the election agents had already gone home, tired and hungry,
before the votes were actually counted properly.

In Harare North, our support system responded fantastically - we got a
blanket for every polling station within 2 hours, and dispatched same with
the Ward drivers.  We also sent my husband down to Chicken Inn for food,
half an hour before they closed, and sent an evening meal to all locked up
agents!  I myself visited Command Centre and some of the polling stations
well after 1 am, only to be told they were locked down and I was not to be
"loitering" near them or I would be arrested!  So much for paying the
allowances or giving them the blankets they had requested!

The morning of Friday April 1 (April Fools, ha ha) I was up at 5am, and at
Command Centre with tea and food for my Chief Election Agent at 5.30 am.  We
had arranged that in the absence of other drivers, my son, husband and
myself would do the morning driver duty, each taking one or two Wards and
delivering tea and biscuits (no bread, Thursday being a public holiday no
bread had been baked and we were told would only be ready at 10am Friday) to
every polling station (31 polling stations) and collecting data return
sheets and paying allowances.  This we did, as far as possible - though some
agents had already left their posts by the time we arrived.

I eventually heard the result of my election in Harare North on ZTV around
11 am on the Friday morning - my Chief Election Agent had not managed to
inform me before, because we had swopped cellphone batteries and now my
cellphone was inoperational!

We continued to collect data forms and individual polling station results
all day, and I went into the party HQ at Harvest House around 6.30 pm with
the returns received - to be met with a baffled response "we don't know what
to do with these" - from Party Command Centre.  We were equally baffled, as
we had been told those returns were VITAL for the election.

It certainly appears that the rural areas have had serious election fraud -
I would hasard a guess that the MDC results are accurate, but then ZanuPF
has simply stuffed votes in afterwards... Ian Kay and Theresa Makone both
got around 11 000 votes, which is more or less what I got in Harare North -
so how did ZanuPF suddenly get 19 000 votes in those constituencies, when
Nyasha had to do some very fancy footwork to get 5000 in my constituency?!!

We are still trying to digest the results - and don't forget that candidates
are human, we need to recharge our very worn-out batteries before we get
into this next stage.  Don't lose faith - we are still fighting!

Best wishes.
Trudy

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New Zimbabwe

Police deployed on rooftops to quell protests

By Staff Reporters
Last updated: 04/05/2005 22:34:45
ZIMBABWEAN police deployed on rooftops and in the streets of downtown Harare
at dawn Tuesday to prevent further protests against the outcome of March 31
parliamentary elections.

Armed details at roadblocks checked traffic in and out of the city centre a
day after riot police dispersed a brief demonstration there.

President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party claimed victory in 78 of the
120 elected constituencies and with 30 more appointed by Mugabe, is certain
to have the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution at will.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told state radio two youths had been
arrested after street protests at a major highway intersection Monday. Five
shops and a bank had been stoned during the unrest, he said.

"The two were among hired groups moving in groups of three or four
distributing pamphlets in a campaign of disinformation," he said. "Following
the arrest of the two it has been established they were recruited to cause
panic among the people of Zimbabwe."

Bvudzijena said "some mischievous individuals were phoning others and
sending telephone messages alleging that the central business district was
in flames and that looting was taking place."

Officials of Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
scorned the accusations but were not prepared to make formal comment until
the party's leaders had been consulted.

"Police remain on high alert," said Bvudzijena. "Police will not allow any
party to mar the post election period by indulging in activities which
create alarm and despondency."

The government-controlled daily newspaper, The Herald, Tuesday alleged
"prices of some commodities were suddenly increased soon after the
announcement of results (which) could have been due to connivance between
some manufacturers and the MDC to cause unrest among the people."

The top civil servant in Zimbabwe's Energy Ministry, Justice Mapumanga, went
on radio and television to deliver an assurance that fuel is available in
the country. The state-owned national oil monopoly was importing sufficient
supplies, he said. In the past month filling stations have frequently run
out of stocks.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi Monday said party headquarters had no
advance knowledge of the Harare demonstration in which up to 1,000 youth
supporters of the party may have been involved.

Pamphlets distributed said: "The MDC has rejected the election results and
urges its members, supporters and all Zimbabweans to pressurize the regime
into reversing the electoral fraud."

Under draconian new security laws, anyone attempting to "coerce" the
government, even by peaceful means, risks a 20-year jail term, and any
gathering of more than three people requires police permission -AP

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The Scotsman

Abuse Rife in Zimbabwe Poll, Says Straw

By Vivienne Morgan, PA Political Staff

There is "strong evidence" that the official result of Zimbabwe's general
election does not reflect the democratic will of the people, Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw said today.

In a hard-hitting statement, Mr Straw warned that abuse was "rife"
throughout the election and sharply criticised Zimbabwe's neighbours for
declaring it fair.

President Robert Mugabe's regime would remain isolated internationally while
he persisted with "ruinous policies", Mr Straw added.

Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF party scored an overwhelming win in a poll last Thursday
condemned by all but his closest African neighbours as severely flawed.

With a more than two thirds majority he can press ahead with his plans to
change the constitution to strengthen his grip on power further.

In a statement to MPs today, Mr Straw said: "There was, it is true, less
violence than in 2000 and 2002, but overall the election process was
seriously flawed.

"Thousands were turned away from the polling booths; there are serious
unexplained discrepancies between votes tallied, and the official number
announced; other abuse was rife.

"Food aid misused; ghost voters; a lack of equal access to the media; the
use of draconian security legislation; an Election Commission packed with
Zanu (PF) supporters."

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caribbeanetnews.com

The Caribbean should speak out against Mugabe

by Sir Ronald Sanders, a former Caribbean diplomat, now corporate executive,
who publishes widely on small states in the global community
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
When Zimbabwe became an independent African nation under majority rule it
owed much to the Commonwealth in particular and to the independent Caribbean
states at the time. President Robert Mugabe has now squandered the struggle
of the African majority in Zimbabwe for a place of respect in the
international community, and Caribbean governments should speak out and act
against him.

Mr Mugabe and his political party, the Zimbabwe African National Union
Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), are not only claiming a victory at the March 31st
general election, they say that they have secured a two-thirds majority in
Parliament which will allow him to re-write the country's constitution
according to his divine will.

The purpose of re-writing the Constitution is to create a second House of
Parliament whose members he, as President, would appoint. Should this happen
Mr Mugabe could perpetuate himself in power, or, at the very least, continue
his influence should he either choose to step down or, miraculously, lose a
Presidential election.

The claim that the ZANU PF has won the election fair and square is hotly
rejected by the opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Mr
Morgan Tsvangirai and by independent, observer Zimbabwe groups not
represented by Mr Mugabe's government. They assert a series of actions by Mr
Mugabe to fix the outcome of the elections. These actions include
intimidation of voters, packing the voters' list with 'ghost' voters, and
widespread discarding of the votes of opposition supporters.

It is also significant that Mr Mugabe refused to allow both the Commonwealth
and the European Union to send missions to observe the elections.

It could be argued that a losing party always claims rigging by a winning
party in government. But, the history of Mr Mugabe's terror tactics against
the opposition party is too glaring and too well documented to dismiss.

Mr Tsvanagirai was arrested and tried for treason, and only barely escaped
the death penalty because foreign governments and international human rights
groups kept a close watch on the proceedings. Other incidents of repressive
laws, harassment of opposition supporters, including beatings and false
arrests have been researched and recorded by international bodies such as
Human Rights Watch.

All of this is a great shame for Zimbabwe and the ordinary Zimbabweans whose
freedoms and rights were won by a tough struggle against the infamous
Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain by a white
minority government under a Constitution that gave black Zimbabweans little
or no rights in their own country. Now, Mr Mugabe is denying African
Zimbabweans the right to live in a free and democratic society.

UDI was promulgated under a white minority government led by Ian Smith with
the tacit complicity of the governments of both the United Kingdom and the
United States. It went on for sixteen disgraceful years.

The UK government was prey to the argument that the whites in Southern
Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe then was) were 'kith and kin'. And, the US government
regarded a white government there as a safety measure against communist
activity in nearby Angola and Mozambique.

At the domestic level, this oppression of the majority black people in
Zimbabwe provoked a robust response in the freedom-fighting movements of Mr
Mugabe and Mr Joshua Nkomo. But, at the international level, the cosseting
of the white minority government by the UK and the USA found its strongest
voice in the Councils of the Commonwealth where the governments of the
independent Caribbean countries played a strong role with the African
front-line states of Zambia, Tanzania and Nigeria to persuade the US and the
UK to turn-away from the Ian Smith regime and to contemplate independence
for Zimbabwe under majority rule.

It was not as easy task. The Conservative government of Britain's Margaret
Thatcher and the Republican administration of Ronal Reagan came to the table
only in the face of overwhelming Commonwealth advocacy in every theatre of
the world.

When Mr Mugabe assumed the Presidency of an independent Zimbabwe under
majority rule, he owed much particularly to African and Caribbean nations to
respect and uphold the democracy, freedoms and human rights that were
previously denied.

The Caribbean had spoken out and acted against racial discrimination,
political oppression, and the denial of political, civil and human rights in
Zimbabwe. They expected that Zimbabwe would become the model that South
Africa could follow in ending Apartheid and establishing majority rule
there.

Instead, Mr Mugabe dashed those hopes. He quickly cut down political
opponents in his own government - an early casualty being Joshua Nkomo who
led the rival ZAPU PF movement and who was included in the first national
government of Zimbabwe.

Then, when an active opposition was created, Mr Mugabe repressed it.
Eventually in 2002, Presidential elections were so marred with violence and
intimidation that although Mr Mugabe was dubiously declared the winner, the
Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe from the Councils of the Commonwealth.

Ensuing efforts by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's
leader, Olesegun Obasanjo, to 'encourage the climate of reconciliation
between the main political parties of Zimbabwe" floundered, and Mr Mugabe
stepped up policies that laid waste to the Zimbabwe economy and reduced his
country - once a net exporter of maize - to begging for food aid.

In recent years Mr Mugabe set about correcting an ancient wrong - the
ownership of the majority of arable land in Zimbabwe by a minority of white
farmers. There would be few who would have quarrelled with Mr Mugabe that
this wrong needed to be righted. But, the way in which Mr Mugabe handled the
problem deserved no support.

His government encouraged the illegal seizure of land by his own supporters.
Large tracts of land were handed over to party backers and high officials
with no consultation with the owners and no system for land re-distribution
and compensation.

In the result, the Zimbabwean economy has declined to a state of almost
catastrophe. Continued disregard for property rights and the absence of an
agreed system for land re-distribution and compensation has seen a very
sharp reduction in agricultural production, capital flight, no new foreign
investment, and emigration of much needed skills and talent.

Real GDP declined by 7.9% in 2000, 2.8% in 2001, 11.1% in 2002 and 9.3% in
2003. Between November 2003 and February 2004, year-on-year inflation
reached a mammoth 600%, and the value of wages and salaries were eroded
significantly. Even worse, Zimbabwe's unemployment has soared and its
arrears to the International Monetary Fund amounted to US$306 million or
about 57% of its quota in the IMF. The Executive Board of the Fund is now
contemplating the compulsory withdrawal of Zimbabwe from the IMF, and this
is likely to happen within the next five months.

Mr Mugabe is making himself and his government pariahs. He withdrew Zimbabwe
from the Commonwealth in anger over the decision to suspend his government
from Commonwealth Councils. Now, the IMF may ask for the country's
compulsory withdrawal from the Fund.

It is sad that a country which offered the prospect of being one of the
richest in Africa is today at the point of economic collapse, and is riddled
with such wide spread disregard for democracy and human, civil and political
rights.

Caribbean governments who did so much to bring Zimbabwe to independence and
democracy under majority rule should speak out and act against Mr Mugabe's
excesses.

Sanctions and isolation were once applied to make Ian Smith change his ways
in Southern Rhodesia, sanctions and isolation directed at Mr Mugabe's
government should be applied to make him change his ways for the sake of the
people of Zimbabwe

(responses to: ronaldsanders29@hotmail.com)
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VOA

      Mugabe: Zimbabwe Will Not Ask for Food Aid
      By Tendai Maphosa
      Harare
      05 April 2005

Southern Africa is facing a drought induced food shortage. But Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe says that his government will not ask for assistance
in feeding its people.

President Mugabe has said Zimbabwe will accept assistance from those who
want to give it, but his government is not going to ask for food aid.

"We will have to import maize again, but we have the money to do so and
there is no 'begging', as one newspaper said we are back to holding 'a
begging bowl'," he said.

Zimbabwe has in the past five years experienced food shortages during
successive droughts. Last year it stopped donor agencies that were
distributing food in the country from doing so, saying it had a bumper maize
harvest.

International aid agencies have also blamed the food crisis in Zimbabwe on
Mr. Mugabe's sometimes violent land-reform program that was launched in
2000. The exercise saw white farmers losing their farms, ostensibly for the
resettlement of landless blacks.

The president has admitted that some of his top officials abused the
exercise and ended up with more than one farm and that some of them are not
producing to capacity.

A lack of capital for production materials on the part of black farmers also
led to a drastic fall in production.

Regional World Food Program spokesman Michael Huggins recently visited
Zimbabwe. He said the agency is presently feeding more than one-million
vulnerable Zimbabweans.

Mr. Huggins said if Zimbabwe does have the means to feed its people the WFP
would restrict itself to its targeted feeding program.

"The ideal is always for the World Food Program and other U.N. agencies to
work in places where we are needed, and clearly if we are not needed in
Zimbabwe then there are more than enough emergencies in the world where we
can go and deploy our assets," he said.

Mr. Huggins said even if there is enough food there is the problem of
peoples' ability to access it. He said because of successive bad harvests,
some people have sold all their assets such as livestock to use the money to
buy food.

During his campaign for last week's parliamentary election, Mr. Mugabe
assured Zimbabweans that no one would go hungry.
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IOL

Hungry Zimbabweans grow food where they can
          April 05 2005 at 09:31PM

      By Nicole Itano

      Harare - Dry and withered stalks of corn are encroaching on the graves
at Granville Cemetery on the outskirts of Zimbabwe's capital.

      Even sacred space is being claimed for cultivation as hunger spreads
in what was once a regional breadbasket.

      "This is all illegal planting," said a graveyard attendant at
Granville, gesturing to the sea of corn in an empty corner of the cemetery.
"It's disgraceful because people should respect the dead. But things are not
normal - people are hungry."

      He asked not to be identified, for fear of government retribution.

      Faced with soaring prices and a scarcity of jobs, a growing number of
city residents are resorting to growing their own food. They use any piece
of land they can find - the side of a road, a back yard, even the cemetery.

      Corn - which is ground and eaten as a stiff porridge known as sadza -
is the national staple. But sweet potatoes are becoming a popular crop,
because they are harder to steal.

      "We are doing this because there is no food, no jobs," said Tawaunda
Matosi, 27, as he worked barefoot in his family's field on the road to
Granville. "I'd rather have a job."

      President Robert Mugabe's sweeping win in last week's parliamentary
election - which many foreign observers said was deeply flawed - crushed
Matosi's hopes for change.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change won most urban
constituencies, but Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
clinched 78 of Parliament's 120 elected seats overall. Mugabe appoints an
additional 30 seats.

      Mugabe blames critical food shortages on four years of drought, which
prompted the World Food Program to start feeding millions across southern
Africa in 2002.

      But UN officials and independent economists say chaotic land reform,
coupled with government restrictions on the importation and movement of
grain, have severely exacerbated the problem in Zimbabwe.

      Thousands of white-owned commercial farms have been redistributed to
black Zimbabweans in the often violent program that began in 2000, virtually
destroying Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy. Much of the land now lies
fallow, its new owners unable to afford the seeds, machinery and fuel they
need for a successful crop.

      In urban areas like Harare, there are regular shortages of staples
like corn.

      In August 2003, a 5kg bag of corn meal cost ZIM$2 060 (about R2),
according to UN figures. Last month, it was running at ZIM$6 400 - a steep
price in a country facing 70 percent unemployment.

      "Even if there is food available, the majority of those who really
need it are not able to buy it because they've already exhausted any means
of raising capital," said Mike Huggins, a spokesperson for the World Food
Programme.

      Last year, however, the government told WFP and other international
organisations to stop large-scale feeding programmes, saying Zimbabwe can
feed itself.

      Only the government-run Grain Marketing Board is allowed to import
corn from neighboring countries. At roadblocks running into the city, police
even seize corn meal that is brought from its rural areas under a law that
makes it illegal for anyone to transport more than 50kg of the grain.

      Opposition leaders accused the government of taking control of food
distributions so it could use them as a political weapon in last week's
election. Independent rights groups said residents in some rural areas were
told they would not be allowed to buy government food if they voted for the
opposition.

      With rain still scarce and the commercial farming sector in disarray,
Zimbabwe's food shortages are likely to continue into next year. The
government's own statistics indicate this year's harvest will be worse than
in 2002, when wide-scale food relief programs began.

      International organisations hope with the elections over they will be
allowed to increase feeding. But most of the food they distribute is likely
to be in rural areas, where people depend more heavily on what they can
grow.

      For cities like Harare, little relief is on the horizon. The price of
corn doubled after the election, sugar and oil are in short supply, and much
of the corn in urban gardens has already withered from drought.

      Along the side of the road, Matosi shook a stalk with one tiny,
inedible ear.

      "No rain," he sighed. - Sapa-AP

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Zimbabwe: the Next Step

Sunday Times (Johannesburg)

ANALYSIS
April 4, 2005
Posted to the web April 5, 2005

S'thembiso Msomi and Brendan Boyle
Johannesburg

SA officials saw progress in this week's elections. Commentators saw little
prospect for change. All agree President Robert Mugabe holds the aces, write
S'thembiso Msomi and Brendan Boyle

FOR Joshua Zimunya, Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections will not usher in the
new beginning he so desires for his troubled country. His pessimism, the
51-year-old father of five explains, stems from the fact that President
Robert Mugabe will remain in power - whether his party does well or not.

And for Zimunya, who makes his living selling second-hand books and clothes
at a market in one of Harare's northern suburbs, the 81-year-old Mugabe is
the stumbling block to the normalisation of the country's politics and
economy.

"I really do not think anything new will happen here while the old man is
still in office," Zimunya says. "We have to wait for 2008. These elections
are not going to change anything. The current political impasse will
remain.. The opposition has no power to touch him."

The two men who could have convinced Zimunya otherwise, Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, did and said little during their
election campaigns to suggest that a new era of co-operation was about to
begin. In fact, in the last days of the campaign, their lines seemed to
harden. Mugabe repeatedly rejected suggestions of a government of national
unity and suggested his party's interaction with the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) would be at the level of Parliament only.

"Once we have fought in an election and a party has lost and we have won, we
expect that party to accept the loss. Why is the international community
saying that even if we win, we should form a government of national unity
with the MDC? Would it be right for me to say to [British Prime Minister
Tony] Blair that, after the next elections, he should include the
Conservatives in his next government?" Mugabe said at a rally in Harare.

Tsvangirai was equally combative, telling his supporters that if the MDC won
by a two-thirds majority he would change the Constitution and force Mugabe
out of power.

But some Zimbabwean analysts remain optimistic and caution against reading
too much into statements made in the heat of heavily contested elections.

Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, the national director of the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network, says the peace that prevailed in the run-up to the polls
should pave the way for dialogue aimed at overhauling the country's
constitution.

But as the ruling party secured a two-thirds majority, there were fears
Mugabe could become more intransigent and amend the Constitution to
consolidate his own position rather than to address opposition and civil
society demands for a more democratic and inclusive dispensation.

It is possible, however, that he could see Zanu-PF's stronger showing as an
opportunity to introduce necessary reforms without any threats from a
weakened opposition.

Whatever the outcome, says Andy Moyse, of the Media Monitoring Project in
Zimbabwe, there is a need for the international community, especially South
Africa and the Southern African Development Community, to push for reforms
in Zimbabwe.

As the current chairman of the SADC's politics and defence body and a
political heavyweight in the region, South Africa is expected to play a key
role in shaping post-election Zimbabwe.

South African government leaders are already congratulating themselves for
having led Zimbabwe from the appalling fraud of the 2002 presidential
election to the semblance of order that marked this week's vote. Mugabe
would not have instituted the election reforms he did without President
Thabo Mbeki's intervention, they say.

The changes include the opposition's access to state-owned broadcasting
media, little overt violence in the run-up to the polls, police acting in a
reasonably neutral manner and most foreign media being allowed to cover the
elections.

SA Cabinet ministers Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Membathisi Mdladlana, who
are leading the SADC and SA government observer missions respectively, say
their teams have enjoyed access undreamt of during the 2000 parliamentary
and 2002 presidential elections.

Mbeki is claiming the credit for these small gains, the first tangible
fruits of his controversial quiet diplomacy. And the word in the presidency
is that they will be consolidated if South Africa acts carefully in the
weeks ahead.

No one around Mbeki is willing to say categorically that Mugabe will go at
the end of his current term, in 2008, but that clearly is the expectation.
"Make him feel good. Give him honour and dignity and he will go. His time
has come" is the argument being made, even though Mbeki has been caught once
before by a Mugabe promise to step down.

Equally, the government is hoping it can still encourage Mugabe to share the
burden of government with the opposition.

But Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, is adamant this will not happen.
"Elections are about winner takes all. Even if you do enter into
co-operation with other parties, in terms of politics, the likes go with the
likes. There is no basis for any form of unity with the MDC as we are poles
apart," he says.

Political analysts say two things will influence what happens next.

If observers impugn the poll's freeness and fairness, or if the MDC refuses
to accept the result, Mugabe is feared likely to revert to his aggressive
isolationism. He is unlikely to share power with a party that disputes his
right to lead.

The other influential factor will be the economy, which will determine the
mood of ordinary Zimbabweans in the months ahead.

South Africa will be standing by to help Zimbabwe consolidate the slightly
positive trend that has seen inflation falling from hyper to merely very
high recently. But after Mugabe's rebuff to the last economic task team that
Mbeki sent north, the government is likely to be cautious about another
public offer to assist at the level of Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.

Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, who analyses Zimbabwe for the South African
Institute for International Affairs, says the positive turn in that
country's economic indicators is a hopeful sign. Harare has made some effort
to guide the economy towards recovery.

"What South Africa needs to be saying to Zimbabwe now is that we recognise
the progress made but, at the same time, there is still much room for
improvement," Sidiropoulos says.

"South Africa could and should use economic support to encourage good
political and economic governance. It does not have to be done publicly and
it should be couched as a carrot and not as a stick, but South Africa can
link its support to targets," she says.

That is not an idea popular around Mbeki, where the word is that
conditionality is out. The analysis remains that Mugabe will lock up if
anyone tries to force his hand.

Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo says he does not expect any change in
policy towards Zimbabwe. "We must say that the Zimbabwean government has
done a lot of work and I think it must be commended for doing the kind of
things it has to create a climate favourable for campaigning to take place,
opening up all these liberties around the media and freedom of expression.

"South Africa would like to see that continuing. I think there will really
be a continuation of the same engagement with the Zimbabwean government. ..
to assist them and work with them in moving the country forward," he said.

Independent political analysts and non-governmental organisations in
Zimbabwe want South Africa to put pressure on Mugabe to accept calls for a
stakeholders' conference that would draw up a new Constitution. "We want a
Constitution that does not give the president so much power as is currently
the case. Government should be accountable to the Parliament and the people.
But that process cannot be left to Mugabe and the new Parliament, it should
include all Zimbabweans," says National Constitutional Assembly leader
Lovemore Madhuku.

But Mugabe says constitutional changes will happen on his terms. A
two-thirds majority, he says, will enable him to change the Constitution to
re-establish the senate as the upper house of the country's national
assembly. This is seen as part of his long-term exit strategy. Because the
senate would be dominated by veteran politicians, traditional leaders and
other Zimbabweans of "high standing", Mugabe is said to see it as a way to
ensure he remains in the political establishment long after he has retired
as president.

Without a proper platform to negotiate a new constitution acceptable to all
Zimbabweans, Madhuku and Chipfunde-Vava argue, Zimbabwe will not be able to
pull itself out of its political and economic quagmire. And Zimunya would be
justified in believing that Thursday's elections were a futile exercise.
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Daily News online edition

      AU observers call for probe into poll results

      Date: 5-Apr, 2005

      HARARE - The head of the African Union Observer Team, Dr Kwadwo Afari-
Gyan, says the allegations of electoral fraud in the just-ended elections in
Zimbabwe should be investigated immediately.

      Speaking when the AU Observer team made its preliminary observations,
Afari-Gyan said his team was also disturbed by the large number of people
who were assisted to vote or those who were turned away.

      "The MDC has alleged that there are serious discrepencies in the
official results released by the ZEC for several constituencies. It is hoped
that both the ZEC and the ESC will promptly look into the allegations with a
view to assuring Zimbabweans of the authenticity of the results of the
elections, "Afari-Gyan said.

      MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai is on record urging his supporters "to
defend their vote and their rights".

      By yesterday the MDC, which is compiling evidence on the alleged
rigging of elections, had found irregularities in 76 out of 120
constituencies that they had analysed. In some instances, there are
unaccounted for ballots of more than 15 000.

      As part of its evidence gathering, the MDC has obtained a copy of a
video tape of the announcement of the number of people who had voted and a
copy of election officials announcing the results.

      An official with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which was running
the elections, said that he needed to consult on the final figures.

      The head of the African Union Observer Team, Dr Kwadwo Afari- Gyan,
said the allegations of rigging should be attended to immediately.

      "The MDC has alleged that there are serious discrepencies in the
official results released by the ZEC for several constituencies. It is hoped
that both the ZEC and the ESC will promptly look into the allegations with a
view to assuring Zimbabweans of the authenticity of the results of the
elections," Afari-Gyan said.

      In a related development, more than 400 Movement for Democratic Change
supporters staged a lunch-time demonstration in Harare on Monday to protest
against the alleged rigging of the 31 March general elections, in which the
ruling party registered a shock two-thirds majority in Parliament.

      The demonstration came after it emerged that the figures announced by
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on the number of people who voted and the
total votes for the candidates did not tally.

      The demonstration lasted about half an hour and caught the police by
surprise as they only caught up with the demonstrators after they dispersed.
Although MDC officials said they were not aware of any arrests, sources said
about 10 youths who were wearing MDC T-shirts were picked up and detained by
law and order officers.

      "I am not aware of any members who were arrested but we will keep you
updated," the MDC national youth chairman, Nelson Chamisa said.

      Speaking on condition of anonymity, another senior MDC official hinted
that the demonstrations would continue for some time.

      "The protests could continue for some time. If the people feel
aggrieved by the fraud conducted during the elections, they should be free
to express their anger."

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Daily News online edition

      After the elections, a tale of two nations.

      Date: 5-Apr, 2005

      by Munodii Kunzwa

      It's hard not to inject levity into an analysis of the 31 March
election results.

      President Robert Mugabe can now not drag anyone to court for using the
nickname Sabhuku to describe his popularity among voters.

      By and large, it is the villagers of Zimbabwe - good heavens, there
are so many of them! - who seem to love what he and his party have done to
this beautiful country in the last 25 years.

      State House, ideally, should relocate to either Zvimba or Chegutu or
Chinhoyi.

      Having State House or Zimbabwe House in Harare is no problem for the
voters of the capital city. But it might traumatise Mugabe himself.

      Every time he drives out, he must feel those icy fingers of rejection
running down his spine.

      Or he could relocate to the Harare South constituency which, in an
extraordinarily abnormal turn of events, was suddenly populated by villagers
who voted for Zanu PF.

      And not without justification, most people suspected Zanu PF's tamba
wakachenjera shenanigans were at full throttle here.

      Foul play is almost always associated with Zanu PF election strategy.
This is not without foundation. The party will not baulk at using any means
to win an election.

      Zimbabweans know this only too well, even if their South African
cousins don't seem to.

      Every time Zanu PF gets up to its old tricks of rigging an election,
it suddenly turns "sleepy time Down South" - they will not wake up to the
reality of observing elections without their blinkers.

      Mugabe, symbolically, went to cast his vote in Highfield, an MDC
stronghold. If he thought the showbiz razzmatazz of this well-filmed gesture
would somehow convince the fence-sitters to vote for his party, then he was
disappointed: the MDC retained the

      seat it won in 2000.

      A by-election caused by the expulsion from the party of the MDC's
Munyaradzi Gwisai tempted Zanu PF to put up Joseph Chinotimba as their
candidate.

      His talents may encompass political comedy and the mangling of the
English language until it is reduced to so much gibberish.

      Unhappily for Mugabe's party, Chinotimba's talent for politics is
suspect, to say the least. He lost.

      Mugabe was nicknamed sabhuku because he leads a party whose
predominant support originates from the communal areas.

      In the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential elections, the urban
areas, led by Harare, voted overwhelmingly against Zanu PF and Mugabe.

      Stubbornly, ignoring Mugabe's exhortations not to "repeat the mistakes
of 2000", all the urban centres rejected Zanu PF and Mugabe once more.

      Only after the 2002 election did Mugabe show, on live television, his
fury at the rejection. He made some nasty but forgettable remark about maize
or water. This time around he hardly acknowledged his rejection by the urban
voter. Instead, he pontificated on the need for the two parties to recognise
their mission: to develop the country. Not many in the MDC would treat that
statement as anything more than the usual Mugabe rhetoric. Unlike Mugabe,
though, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who owns a correspondence college, went almost
ballistic in his rebuke of voters in a Bulawayo constituency which chose the
MDC instead of his Zanu PF ticket. He said, ironically, that they had voted
for hunger and unemployment. The voters might retort by telling Ndlovu they
rejected him because neither he nor his party could offer them food or jobs.
But the rejection of Zanu PF and Mugabe in the urban centres is a poignant
reminder of why the MDC is here to stay and why Zimbabwe, to misquote a
notorious Zanu PF slogan, "will never be a one-party state again". Much more
significant is the fact of this country being composed of two nations: since
2000 and perhaps for the foreseeable future, the urban and the rural
population will not see eye to eye politically. At first sight, the urban
dweller is more intelligent, more sophisticated, more affluent, more
well-travelled, more educated, more tolerant, more outgoing, more worldly,
more assertive and much less inclined to tolerate loud-mouthed politicians,
of which Zanu PF has a surplus. Urban dwellers generally look forward to new
ideas, new fads, new inventions, new fashions, new newspapers, like The
Daily News. At second sight, there may be a few villagers with these
qualities too, but coming across them on a random stroll in the dusty byways
of the village may take some time, Why Zanu PF and Mugabe would prefer to
rule a country composed entirely of villagers is perfectly understandable.
What sabhuku would tolerate a villager who is constantly complaining about
how he, the headman, is corrupt, arrogant, extravagant and pompous? The MDC
went into this election with its eyes wide open - a gambler knowing all the
cards are marked but helpless to avoid playing the game. To play or not to
play was an enormously difficult choice for the party to make. Boycotting
the election would consign it to five years in the political wilderness.
Those who know Zanu PF's capacity for playing the game with a loaded dice
were convinced that the MDC might never come back into the political arena
again - unless it agreed to Zanu PF's conditions. The MDC was caught in a
classic dilemma - between a rock and a hard place. Initially, most political
analysts in Zimbabwe and some abroad as well, counselled in favour of a
boycott. As long as the playing field was as bumpy and uneven as it has been
since 1980, what was the dividend in taking part? Others, aware of the
devilry Zanu PF is capable of thought participation would be the lesser of
two evils. Left alone to elect itself for another five years, Zanu PF would
most likely set in motion all the machinery to institutionalise a one-party
state. In the end, nothing changed. Zanu PF won its cherished two-thirds
majority and Mugabe gloated without shame. "Nonsense," he responded to
allegations there had been despicable fraud. This was an amazing assertion,
which he made with a straight face. Zanu PF has been caught with its fingers
in the electoral cookie jar before. The least he could have said was that
"there may have been a few cases here and there but the final result was
never in doubt". But to deny any fiddle outright is a mark of such arrogance
the villagers who voted for his party must be asked, as Louis Armstrong did
in many songs: "Are you sound?" For many, what added salt to the wound was
Jonathan Moyo's victory in Tsholotsho. It's futile to speculate on what the
villagers in this part of the world were rewarding him for. During his time
in Zanu PF, he encouraged the most naked abuse of ordinary people's rights.
In fact, his arrogance and the contempt with which he held ordinary people
in general could be responsible for Zanu PF's sheer gall in stealing this
election from the MDC. It was Moyo's law which removed four newspapers from
the 2005 electoral arena. One of them, The Daily News, was one year old
during the 2000 parliamentary election. Most Zanu PF leaders, eventually
including Moyo himself, attacked The Daily News for having influenced the
results of that election. This time around, without The Daily News, the
result sent Zanu PF into seventh heaven. The villagers of Tsholotsho may not
know what they did. But then again, even the villagers of Zimbabwe don't
seem to know what they did either. The joke about a city voter offering his
relatives to work as labourers for free, may sound really funny. It's even
funnier when nobody who is sound takes up the offer.

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Zim Online

Bomb scare at ZANU PF headquarters
Tue 5 April 2005
  HARARE - A bomb scare at the ruling ZANU PF party headquarters in Harare
today brought business to a stand-still with hundreds of workers being
forced to evacuate the building.

      A crack team from the police's bomb squad was called to the scene and
was skimming the premises.

      Sources said a senior officer in the administration office received a
call from a man who said he was in South Africa saying there was a bomb
planted in the building which could explode any minute.

      The situation in Harare is tense following ZANU PF's disputed election
victory last week. The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has rejected the result as a "massive fraud."

      The MDC says it will not seek recourse from the courts this time but
has urged people to "defend their vote." The party did not elaborate what
this means.

        MORGAN Tsvangirai . . . rejected election result

      Yesterday, hundreds of MDC youths had running battles with the police
as they protested against the election results in central Harare.

      The MDC youths were also distributing flyers, written "Reject fraud",
urging people to refuse to accept the result of last week's parliamentary
election.

      Some of the fliers read: "MDC has rejected the election results and
urges its members, supporter(s) and all Zimbabweans to pressurise the regime
into reversing this 'electoral fraud." - ZimOnline

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BBC
 
UK journalists plead not guilty
Toby Harnden (middle) and Julian Simmonds (right) arrive at court with guard
Mr Harnden is a correspondent and Mr Simmonds a photographer
Two British journalists have pleaded not guilty in a Zimbabwean court to charges of covering last Thursday's elections without accreditation.

Police arrested Toby Harnden, 37, and Julian Simmonds, 46, of the Sunday Telegraph, near Harare on 31 March.

Their lawyer told the court the pair were ordinary tourists who "kept a travel diary and took pictures".

The men also deny outstaying their visas. They remain in Norton prison, near Harare, after being denied bail.

Prosecutors on Monday argued the men were still a flight risk and produced a government order demanding they be kept in detention, blocking a magistrate's order they be released.

Election accreditation

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF won a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary polls, which some observers have described as flawed.

According to government officials, more than 200 journalists were accredited to cover the elections but others had their applications rejected.

The accused persons had no right to cover the elections because they had no accreditation and had no right to stay in the country beyond March 28
Albert Masama
Prosecutor

Mr Harnden and Mr Simmonds were arrested near a polling station in Norton, 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the capital Harare.

The state told the court the men were in Zimbabwe to cover the elections.

"The accused persons had no right to cover the elections because they had no accreditation and had no right to stay in the country beyond March 28," prosecutor Albert Masama said.

"They didn't leave the country on the expiry of their visas," he said.

"They flew to Harare where they met contacts with some unknown members of the MDC [the opposition Movement for Democratic Change]," he said.

'Tourist outing'

But defence lawyer Beatrice Mtwetwa said the men were in Zimbabwe on holiday and believed their visas were valid for two weeks, not one as Mr Masama claimed.

"To any reasonable tourist who has never been to Zimbabwe, they would have no reason to think they have been denied their 14 days, especially with a sticker which does not have any expiry date," she said.

Unless you work at immigration it's gobbledy-gook
Beatrice Mtwetwa
Defence lawyer

"Unless you work at immigration it's gobbledy-gook. There's nothing there that appears like they were given seven days."

She said as tourists, the men had visited Victoria Falls, Matobo national park and the southern city of Bulawayo as well as a Zimbabwe-Angola football match.

Zimbabwe has arrested or deported dozens of journalists and denied others entry under media laws adopted by President Mugabe's government three years ago in the face of severe international criticism.

Foreign journalists are banned from working permanently in Zimbabwe and must seek temporary licences for brief assignments.

The hearing is due to continue on Wednesday.

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Leeds Today

Joy as five-year asylum struggle ends in victory
Exclusive
By Charles Heslett
A MOTHER-OF-SEVEN who fled Robert Mugabe's tyranny in Zimbabwe has won a
five-year battle to stay in Leeds.
Deirdre Eckard feared she would be executed or imprisoned if she was forced
to return to her homeland where she ran a tobacco farm before it was seized
by Mugabe's henchmen.
Now a successful appeal against a Home Office decision to refuse her asylum
means she and daughter Jessica, 14, can stay in England indefinitely.
Today the 44-year-old, who is living in temporary accommodation in Beeston,
Leeds, is still coming to terms with the Immigration Appellate Authority's
(IAA) decision to grant her refugee status.
She said: "I wouldn't open the letter from the IAA when it arrived. I got my
son Kurt to come and open it for me - I was so terrified I would be refused.
"When it became clear my appeal had been accepted I just broke down in tears
and collapsed on the floor. I just sobbed and sobbed.
Responsible
"It was the relief after five years of pent-up emotions."
Deirdre, who suffered a mild heart attack and depression during her ordeal,
added: "Now Jessica and I can get on with our lives. I can go out and try to
get work and control where we live, what home we have.
"Before I was in the hands of the National Asylum Support Service and had to
go where they placed me. I'm responsible for the future now."
Deirdre fled her farm, which she ran with partner Dave Humphreys, after a
gang of veterans of the Zimbabwean war of independence seized their land in
May 2000 and attacked her and Jessica.
Her other children, some of them stepchildren, were split up and now live in
England, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Deirdre fled to England with Jessica on a temporary work permit. On January
15, 2002, she formally lodged her bid for asylum after her Zimbabwean
passport was lost and she was threatened with deportation.
But last year her bid was rejected.
This was despite her claims that her links with the Movement for Democratic
Change, Zimbabwe's opposition party, and the fact she was a white farmer's
wife meant her life would be in danger.
She feared the reach of the Zimbabwean secret police and used her partner's
surname when she took her story to the press.
With the help of the Leeds Refugee Legal Centre she launched an appeal
against the HO's ruling.
Deirdre said: "I walked around the house shell-shocked for about a week
after I got the letter.
"I am so grateful to my caseworker Alison Pickup, my local GP and health
workers and the YEP for really caring when no-one else bothered."
In January the British government reversed its decision not to forcibly
return failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers and insisted Deirdre and Jessica
should be sent back.
On Saturday, president Mugabe's ZANU PF party won a huge parliamentary
majority amidst accusations of vote rigging on a massive scale.
charles.heslett@ypn.co.uk

I'm a somebody now, I have a country to belong to
AS SHE watched the Zimbabwean election unfold on television Deirdre Eckard
was filled with deep sadness for the country of her birth and its downward
spiral under the rampant dictatorship of its president, Robert Mugabe.
On the mantelpiece of the red-brick Leeds terrace that has been her home for
the past three years, there is a collection of dog-eared photographs -
evidence of her former life.
These were among the few personal possessions Deirdre managed to escape with
when she and daughter Jessica, now 14, fled their farm 100 miles from
Harare, in fear of their lives in May 2000.
One shows Deirdre as a happy young woman, peering out from a jungle canopy
in the African bush.
Another is of a younger Jessica with a beaming smile sitting on a sofa in
the front room of their 4,000-acre tobacco farm where they used to live
before their lives were torn apart.
It has been a long time since mother and daughter have enjoyed such simple
moments of joy.
She said: "My farm is gone, my partner is gone and my old life is gone but
I'm alive and I can start planning for the future for the first time in five
years.
"I don't know if people realize that the majority of refugees are literally
fleeing for their lives.
"And if the Government want asylum seekers to pay for themselves, let them
legally work while their cases are being considered. Genuine asylum seekers
are very proud, they come from backgrounds where they are used to working."
In a year's time Deirdre will be able to apply for British Citizenship.
But there are more practical concerns to deal with in the meantime, such as
registering for benefits and finding somewhere to live.
"I have to start all over again. At 44, I should be retired," Deirdre
half-jokes.
"I have to try and find some sort of security and future for Jessica and
myself, to start saving and get a new life.
"But my complaints are selfish. At least I'm a somebody now, and I have a
country to belong to."
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News24

EU denounces Zim elections
05/04/2005 18:09  - (SA)

Brussels - The European Union on Tuesday denounced serious flaws in
Zimbabwe's recent presidential elections which returned Robert Mugabe to
power with an overwhelming majority.

A statement by Luxembourg, as current president of the 25 nation EU, said
the bloc also had reservations about the environment in which the polls had
been held and continued to be worried about the human rights situation in
the country.

The statement did, however, recognise that there had been certain
improvements in the organisation of the elections compared to previous
ballots.

The EU said it had also noted Zimbabwe's commitment to comply with the
principles and guidelines set by the Southern African Development Community
(SADC).

European observers were not invited to monitor the elections in Zimbabwe.

The EU statement is more cautious than British Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw's comments of "strong evidence" that the official result did not
reflect the democratic will of the people. - dpa
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News24

Zim police on high alert
05/04/2005 17:03  - (SA)

Harare - Police in Zimbabwe went on high alert on Tuesday after youths took
to the streets in Harare to urge Zimbabweans to reject the outcome of
elections overwhelmingly won by President Robert Mubage's party.

As the opposition pressed calls for new elections and reform, UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan stepped in and called on Mugabe's government "to build a
climate a confidence" to take the southern African country forward.

"He calls on all sides to engage in constructive dialogue in the period
ahead," said Annan's spokesperson Fred Eckhard in a statement released at UN
headquarters in New York.

Police said groups of supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) stoned shops and assaulted passers-by in Harare on Monday to
protest the results from elections their party said were rigged.

"All our arms are on high alert to ensure a peaceful post-election period,"
police spokesperson Wayne Budzijena told AFP.

Distributing flyers

"The police as previously stated will not tolerate any acts of violence and
will use resources at its disposal to ensure that there is peace and
security for everyone on the country."

The youths were distributing flyers saying "the MDC has rejected the
election results and urges its members, supporters and all Zimbabweans to
pressurise the regime into reversing this electoral fraud," the police said.

The MDC denied that it had organised the demonstrations.

"It's not correct to ascribe the protests to the MDC," party information
officer Maxwell Zimuto told AFP.

"It could be anybody...it could be concerned Zimbabweans sympathising with
the MDC or Zanu-PF thugs wearing MDC T-shirts to tarnish the image of our
party."

Flawed

Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) won 78
of the 120 contested seats in the March 31 elections against 41 seats for
the MDC, which dismissed the polls as "massive fraud".

Bvudzijena said two youths were arrested following the incident and that
investigations were ongoing. "We are looking at 50 or more people who were
involved," he said.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai maintains there were discrepancies
between the number of voters who cast ballots and the final tally announced
by the Zimbabwe Elections Commission.

He said his party would consult its members on the course to take following
the "flawed" elections endorsed as free and fair by observer missions from
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and the African
Union.

The United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union have refused to
recognise the elections as democratic, arguing that conditions leading up
the vote favoured Zanu-PF, in power in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
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Mugabe Propagandist a Perfect Zikalala Cadre

Business Day (Johannesburg)

OPINION
April 5, 2005
Posted to the web April 5, 2005

Jacob Dlamini
Johannesburg

IT's a pity Reuben Barwe is not looking for a job because the veteran
Zimbabwean hack seems to be just the kind of journalist SABC news commissar
Snuki Zikalala wants in his newsroom.

Zikalala has reportedly told his staff at the SABC that he wants only
"cadres who can work with government" - not free thinkers and
independent-minded folks who might (again) cost him his job and pension.

What better move for Dr Zikalala - as he was so fondly introduced before his
interview with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on SABC 3 on Sunday - to
make than to bring Barwe to the SABC?

Barwe would not need any training. A conscientious cadre who has been
working with the Zimbabwean regime for almost as long as it has been in
power, Barwe would know what to do.

He works so well with the Zimbabwean regime that he sometimes uses the term
"we" to describe it in his reports, which are often full of hyperbole.

In fact, Barwe's missives are so blatantly one-sided that a viewer often
cannot tell where the ruling Zanu (PF) ends and Mugabe's government begins.

Reporting on Mugabe casting his vote at the Cyril Jennings Hall in the poor
Harare township of Highfields last Thursday, Barwe regaled viewers with
dramatic tales of Mugabe's heroic past and struggle adventures.

He told viewers about Mugabe using the hall in the 1950s to plot the
downfall of imperialism and making "plans to dislodge settler colonialism".
Gripping television.

And also the sort of television that would have Zikalala winning the ratings
race with margins as huge as Zanu (PF)'s emphatic victory last week.

Barwe speaks with such zeal and passion in his reports you cannot miss his
love for his job.

Foreign journalists who watched Zimbabwean television before and during last
week's election will tell you that Barwe was as passionate about Zanu (PF)
and his hero Mugabe as he was venomous and downright scathing about the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

What's more, Barwe is so open in his slavish support for Mugabe and the
ruling Zanu (PF) that he does not seem to care what the world thinks of him.

Why should he? Barwe has been handsomely rewarded for his sterling cadreship
by Zanu (PF) and Mugabe. He was among the few well-connected individuals who
were given formerly white-owned farms during the violent land grabs of the
late 1990s.

Zikalala might have trouble enticing Barwe away from his cushy Harare life
but he should at least give it a try. There is the hopelessly weak
Zimbabwean dollar and Mugabe's uncertain political afterlife to count in
Zikalala's favour.

The nice thing about having Barwe at the SABC would be that Zikalala at
least would not have to worry about which journalist to send out to
interview Mugabe.

Barwe would be the obvious and automatic choice. You want to send someone to
interview Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, who also happens to be
Zikalala's former boss, about Zimbabwe's proud democratic traditions or
maybe nothing in particular - hey there's Barwe.

You know that Barwe would not embarrass you and the comrade minister with
silly and reactionary questions about human rights abuses and other such
bourgeois obsessions.

I suspect it is because Zikalala does not trust his political reporters that
he chose to personally conduct the interview with Mugabe on Sunday.

Having Barwe at the SABC would take care of the trust issue and free up
Zikalala to go about searching for more cadres who could work with
government.

Zikalala could, of course, opt to send his current team to a political
re-education camp. But that would cause too much of a stink and, possibly,
cost him his job. Not even the SABC board would, I hope, endorse Stalinist
practices. But who knows?

I hear that Zikalala tells journalists who dare disagree with his diktats
that he does not question his board - so why should they question him?

Zikalala is obviously working on the assumption that the African National
Congress (ANC) is going to be in power forever and that it is his sacred
duty to support the party. Just like Barwe is doing with Zanu (PF) in
Zimbabwe.

Barwe can neither make sense of nor explain the MDC. To him the MDC is an
aberration that cannot be explained rationally. I mean, who in their right
mind would challenge Mugabe?

It seems to be the same with Zikalala. Who in their right mind would dare
challenge the ANC? You would have to be mad to do that. Barwe understands
that kind of thinking.

- Dlamini is political editor.

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MDC Youths Demand Action

Business Day (Johannesburg)

April 5, 2005
Posted to the web April 5, 2005

Dumisani Muleya
Johannesburg

ZIMBABWE's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) youths
stormed the party's offices yesterday demanding mass action against "massive
ballot fraud" in last week's disputed general election.

The demand for a campaign of defiance against government came as the MDC was
considering boycotting parliament in protest against the alleged
vote-rigging.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in an interview yesterday his party was
contemplating a boycott of parliament.

"The issue is currently being debated in the party and a decision will be
made in due course," he said.

The ruling Zanu (PF) won 78 seats, while the MDC were allocated 41 seats out
of the 120 contested constituencies. Independent candidate Jonathan Moyo won
one seat.

The MDC has charged there was massive rigging of the ballots in at least 35
constituencies. The party said the fraud was exposed after the electoral
officials failed to reconcile the figures of the total number of people who
voted and the number of votes cast for each of the candidates.

Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general, said his party would take the
electoral authorities to task over the issue or challenge the results in
court.

An MDC information officer, Zwakele Sayi, confirmed agitated party
supporters forced their way into offices "demanding action". She said some
people had to evacuate their offices to avoid chaos.

There was stampeding in Harare's First Street as the scores of the MDC
supporters pushed through the central business district. Police did not
react but the youths later dispersed.

Mugabe has warned in a televised interview any mass action would be met with
force.

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SADC Criticises Zimbabwe Media Environment

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

PRESS RELEASE
April 4, 2005
Posted to the web April 5, 2005

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has joined the growing
chorus of voices agitating for the creation of an enabling environment that
allows for equitable access to the state media by all Zimbabweans across the
socio-political and economic divide.

The call was made in Harare on April 3, 2005, by the SADC Election Observer
Mission at the end of Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections which were held on
March 31, 2005.

Addressing journalists at a news conference in Harare, Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka, the head of the observer mission, who described the election
as "peaceful, credible, well managed and transparent", was however not happy
with the prevailing media environment.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, who is also the South African Minister of Minerals and
Energy, said there was need to improve equitable access to the state media
by all political parties.

"It is also the Mission's view that, although there were efforts to ensure
equitable access to the public media, there is still much to be done in this
area to improve access to the state media by the opposition," she said.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Zimbabwe has ruffled the
feathers of the authorities in Harare by consistently and persistently
calling for the repeal of the Broadcasting Services Act, Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and
Security Act (POSA) as laws that infringe on media freedom and freedom of
expression.

Under its 'Open the Airwaves Campaign', MISA-Zimbabwe has pointed out that
the BSA should be repealed as it was designed to consolidate the
government's monopoly and stranglehold on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings
(ZBH) to the exclusion of opposing views.

In apparent capitulation to the incessant calls to improve access to the
public broadcaster, the government gazetted the parameters and regulations
pertaining to equal access to radio and television in the run-up to the
parliamentary elections.

While the BSA provides that every political party has the right to
reasonable access to the media, a similar provision is not provided for
under AIPPA which regulates the print media.

A similar provision should apply to the print media as well given that the
government has the controlling stake in Zimpapers, which publishes its
flagship national daily "The Herald" and its stable mates, "The Sunday
Mail", "Chronicle", "Sunday News", "Manica Post" and "Kwayedza".

The issue of accessing the public broadcaster by opposition political
parties has been at the centre of accusations that Zanu PF monopolises the
ZBH at the expense of other players.

In the run-up to the elections, reportage of the campaign activities was
heavily skewed in Zanu PF's favour with Zimpapers imposing a news blackout
on the activities of the opposition MDC. This was evidenced by its refusal
to accept advertising material from the opposition party.

It is against the backdrop of the stringent and restrictive nature of AIPPA
that Zimbabwe has over the years arrested or deported dozens of journalists
and denied others entry into the country under its anti-media laws.

On April 1, 2005, a Swedish television correspondent Fredrik Sperling, was
arrested in Harare and deported after being questioned for filming a farm
previously owned by a white commercial farmer. He was accused of
trespassing.

His organisation, "Sveriges Television", has since filed a complaint with
the Zimbabwean embassy.

Two British journalists working for the "Sunday Telegraph", Toby Harnden and
photographer Julian Simmonds, were arrested outside Harare for covering the
elections without accreditation, an offence punishable by two years
imprisonment, a fine or both imprisonment and a fine.

The government-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC) turned down
several other applications by foreign journalists.

The arrests and deportations make a strong case for the establishment of a
self-regulatory independent media council to adjudicate over the conduct of
journalists as opposed to the present scenario where regulation of the print
media is left to the whims of the MIC.

The establishment of an independent broadcasting authority will also go a
long way in ensuring that the ZBH is transformed into a truly public
broadcaster unfettered by provisions of BSA, which entrench the government's
monopoly of the airwaves.
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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY

Enough is Enough
Article written by Sokwanele

Published by the Guardian UK on 4 April 2005

The Mugabe regime is not going to be removed by votes or violence. It's time for a peaceful uprising, says the pro-democracy group Sokwanele

Sokwanele is a pro-democracy people's movement committed to challenging and confronting in a non-violent way the dictatorship that now rules Zimbabwe unlawfully and violently.

We are not a political party, nor do we aspire to political office. We are a popular protest movement that highlights gross human rights abuses, exposes the lies upon which the regime relies for its support base, and works for non-violent change. Our rallying cry is "Sokwanele" in the Ndebele language and "Zvakwana" in Shona, meaning quite simply "Enough is enough".

Sokwanele has worked tirelessly ever since the date of the parliamentary elections was announced last year to exploit this tiny window of opportunity to advance the cause of freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe. In August last year, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) adopted a set of principles and guidelines for democratic elections and Zimbabwe signed up to this protocol. We welcomed the SADC principles, imperfect though they are, as a useful benchmark against which to measure the performance of the Mugabe regime.

Sokwanele tracked that performance for 22 weeks in a weekly feature called Mauritius Watch, carefully recording violations of the SADC principles by a regime dedicated to rigging the elections, albeit under the facade of legality. We also published a short SADC checklist which analysed and assessed Zimbabwe's electoral and security legislation against the SADC protocol. Long before the election on March 31 we reached the inescapable conclusion that the poll could not possibly be called free or fair. A wide range of national and international pro-democracy and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch and the International Bar Association, reached the same conclusion ahead of the elections.

Sokwanele also monitored events on election day from before the polling stations were opened until the final "official" results were declared, and from that experience we have produced a catalogue of further electoral violations and gross irregularities to add to the tally. Some of these irregularities have already been reported in our blog, This is Zimbabwe, as told to our activists by people trying to vote. Sokwanele will soon be releasing another short document, "How they did it", detailing exactly how the partisan state-appointed electoral officers, the police and the army conspired to rig the election in a most comprehensive manner.

Their tactics included shutting polling agents from the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), out of the polling stations during voting and particularly the count; unlawfully imprisoning MDC agents, incommunicado, after the vote; and the near monopoly control by Zanu-PF of the means of communication to and from the polling stations. This last point gave their presiding officers the opportunity to liaise with their counterparts at central command, to let them know exactly how many of the spare ballots provided should be used to record votes for the ruling party from the lists of "dead voters" which were available in Zanu-PF circles (it is estimated that the voters' roll contains the names of approximately 800,000 deceased people).

What do we conclude from all this? The first and most obvious lesson must be that Zanu-PF will never be defeated through the ballot box as long as they run the elections. Quite simply, Zanu-PF will not permit any party, however popular, to beat them in an election. And that fact has the most serious consequences for the opposition MDC, which plainly won the majority vote in this election, as they did in the 2000 and 2002 elections. The question now is whether the MDC has any other strategy apart from mobilising voters and winning elections.

We expected the MDC to have learnt this lesson after suffering two previous stolen elections. And having committed to this contest while knowing the lengths to which Zanu-PF would go to rig the result, we expected them to have worked out a "Plan B" to put into effect immediately upon the announcement of the fraudulent vote. This did not happen immediately, raising speculation as to whether the MDC leadership has what it takes to follow through. However difficult and dangerous it may be to act, the consequences of failing to act are far worse. Sooner or later the people must confront insolent tyranny, and this is surely the moment.

Zanu-PF is a party of violence, Mugabe has boasted of his "degrees in violence", and as such it cannot be defeated by this method. It would be irresponsible to consider that option. But there are other non-violent options, such as calling people onto the streets in protest, sit-ins, stay-aways, boycotts and many other civil disobedience options. None of these options are without risk, but again the risk resulting from doing nothing is far greater.

We believe the people of Zimbabwe are ready to heed the call of Archbishop Pius Ncube, who twice in the past week has called for a non-violent and peaceful uprising to throw out this corrupt regime. Furthermore, excluding the supine leadership of South Africa's African National Congress (which must now be regarded as wholly complicit in Mugabe's evil tyranny), we believe the international community also stands ready to act. They are ready to demonstrate their solidarity with those who suffer in Zimbabwe today, but we cannot expect the international community to take the first step. Ours must be that first painful step of open and courageous defiance against an arrogant and insolent tyranny.

This article can be found on the Guardian website at the following url:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/zimbabwe/article/0,2763,1451941,00.html#article_continue


Visit our website at www.sokwanele.com
Visit our blog: This is Zimbabwe (Sokwanele blog)

We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele does not endorse the editorial policy of any source or website except its own. It retains full copyright on its own articles, which may be reproduced or distributed but may not be materially altered in any way. Reproduced articles must clearly show the source and owner of copyright, together with any other notices originally contained therein, as well as the original date of publication. Sokwanele does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way from receipt of this email or use thereof. This document, or any part thereof, may not be distributed for profit.


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Reuters

      Race, history colour views of Zimbabwe polls

      Tue April 5, 2005 4:22 PM GMT+02:00
      By John Chiahemen

      JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Conflicting verdicts on Zimbabwe's election
pronounced by African observers and Western powers show that race and
history, as much as concern for democracy, determine how outsiders view the
country's crisis.

      While African observers and governments applauded last week's
landslide win by President Robert Mugabe's party as free and fair, the West
dismissed it as a sham.

      Mugabe has repeatedly accused Britain of leading a Western campaign
for regime change in Zimbabwe because of his policy of seizing white-owned
farms for allocation to blacks.

      "People are so divided on Zimbabwe," said David Monyae, lecturer in
international relations at South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand,
saying the dispute is often seen as Mugabe fighting the West rather than
facing domestic problems.

      He said Mugabe's rhetoric against British Prime Minister Tony Blair
has struck a chord with many Africans who still see colonialism as the root
cause of the continent's problems.

      Ross Herbert of the South African Institute of International Affairs
said Zimbabwe posed a difficult problem for Africa, especially for South
Africa, its southern neighbour and the continent's most powerful country.

      South African President Thabo Mbeki has been dogged by accusations of
ignoring abuses and repression in Zimbabwe while campaigning for good
governance elsewhere in Africa.

      "The region has gotten a bit confused because of the race factor in
Zimbabwe," Herbert told Reuters.

      "People are afraid to say it doesn't make a difference what the race
of the perpetrator or the victim is, we should still support free and fair
democracy regardless," he said.

      MIXED REVIEWS

      In the runup to last Thursday's elections, Mbeki dismissed widely
expressed fears that Mugabe would rig the vote as he was accused of doing in
2000 and 2002.

      The Southern African Development Community (SADC), whose observer
mission was led by Mbeki's minerals minister, gave the poll high marks,
although it voiced concerns over issues such as media access for the
opposition. Pretoria's own monitoring team was unequivocal in its
endorsement.

      In contrast, the European Union described the election as "phoney"
even before Zimbabweans voted, and pledged to campaign for reinforcement of
sanctions against Mugabe.

      President George W. Bush's administration pronounced the vote as
neither free nor fair, and Blair's foreign minister Jack Straw said on
Tuesday he was disappointed that other African nations had given the poll a
clean bill of health.

      "Many Africans feel there is need for change in Zimbabwe but not
change as demanded by Bush and Blair," Monyae said.

      Mugabe's image in the eyes of many Africans as a liberation hero who
successfully battled white minority rule in Zimbabwe makes the opposition's
task that much harder.

      Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is
seen in much of Africa as playing to a foreign audience, while the party
undermined its own campaign by only deciding at the last minute to contest
the polls.

      INTERNAL AFFAIRS

      Africa's attitude to Mugabe is partly a throw-back to the days of the
pan-African Organisation of African Unity, which kept a strict policy of
non-interference in the domestic affairs of its members.

      The new African Union is more interventionist but its pro-democracy
campaign clearly has a long way to go.

      Monyae said there were still many dictators across Africa who were
reluctant to point out Mugabe's flaws. "You cannot be a dictator and a
born-again democrat at the same time," he said.

      Mugabe gets a hero's welcome when he appears in public in South Africa
but Herbert says this did not mean South Africans approve of the political
situation in Zimbabwe.

      "I would think that, certainly for South Africa, if the things that
happen in Zimbabwe happened here, people would be up in arms," Herbert said.

      But he said many Africans resented what they see as the West's double
standards of democracy. "For instance why do we worry about a third term for
African leaders but not for British leaders?" he asked.

      It's easy for Africans to understand Mugabe's argument that Zimbabwe's
problems are rooted in the colonial legacy of disproportionate ownership of
the best land by whites -- a stance which may help explain why some in
Africa steer clear of outright criticism of Mugabe's government.

      "You cannot talk of human and democratic rights and say the land issue
should not be revisited," said Adebowale Adeyemi, lecturer in international
affairs at Lagos State University.

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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY

“What happened on Thursday night”:
An account of how ZANU PF rigged the Parliamentary Elections

Sokwanele Special Report : 5 April 2005

On Thursday last (March 31) a theft of breath-taking proportions took place in Zimbabwe. Stolen from the citizens of this land was their constitutional right to elect their own representatives to Parliament. So great was the scale of the national heist that effectively it took from the people the government of their choice and foisted upon them a government they did not want and had not voted for.

The Mugabe regime had been planning to rig the elections from the moment the date was announced – indeed from long before that, for this regime knows well enough it would be trounced by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party in any free and fair contest. So the preparations to rig the poll had to begin early. Without the months of careful preparation and total manipulation of the electoral process ZANU-PF knew it would face extinction in the poll.

But the purpose of this short piece is not to describe the months of cynical scheming, including the manipulation of the entire food delivery system and the cunning re-writing of the country’s electoral laws, effectively to put Mugabe appointees in command, with the military to control it. That story has been told elsewhere (see our own “SADC Checklist” which reviewed the electoral and security legislation, and our weekly feature “Mauritius Watch” which chronicled events on the ground). Nor is it our purpose here to review the widespread and systematic abuses of the SADC election guidelines which occurred on the day of voting - such as the use of a supposedly indelible ink to mark the fingers of those who had voted, which it transpired could be easily removed by the application of a mild detergent. These abuses will no doubt be documented by others before too long.

No, our purpose here is to take our readers through the events of the evening and night following the poll, specifically between 7.00 pm when voting ended and 11.00 pm, for it was during these few hours that ZANU-PF’s central rigging strategy was carried out. The plot was so cunning and audacious that the likes of John le Carre and P.D. James would have been proud to have written the script themselves.

It went something like this.

At 7.00 p.m. the polls closed and the presiding officers of each polling station were required to advise the total numbers of people who voted and of would-be voters turned away. A simple matter, and this information was conveyed by radio or telephone to the constituency office. By 7.30 p.m. most presiding officers around the country were ready and waiting to begin the count.

Then comes a mysterious intervention which interrupted the process. All presiding officers were instructed in very clear terms that they should not begin the count. They were to await specific authorisation from their superiors within the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) before proceeding with the count. Here was a clear signal that some skulduggery was being planned, though exactly what it was difficult for those outside the ZANU PF mafia to see immediately. Presiding officers in the majority of polling stations across the country, and those waiting with them to confirm the count, had to cool their heels awaiting further instructions. In some cases that further instruction from the command centre only came many hours later – in at least one instance as late as 2.00 am the following morning. The presiding officers became very impatient at the delays – which incidentally were in breach of the Electoral law. Remember, most of them had been on duty from 3.00 a.m. on the Thursday morning. Altogether they were not a happy lot. Whilst some were hand-picked by the regime from the military and the civil service for their known loyalty to and compliance with ZANU-PF, many of them it seems were not in on the full plot. Why the interminable delay?

The Mugabe regime had a very good reason for delaying the count in most stations. During this time they were conducting a sample survey of the voting patterns from a few selected polling stations. In these stations the count went ahead early (starting at 7.30 p.m.) and immediately the results were known they were conveyed by the presiding officers concerned to the constituency offices. Constituency offices manned by loyal ZANU PF cadres thereby afforded themselves a golden opportunity to consider voting trends – and respond. Where the sample results indicated a deficiency of ZANU PF votes – which, it transpired, was the case in the great majority of constituencies, the matter could be easily remedied. A simple calculation would indicate how many additional ballots were required for the losing ZANU-PF candidate. From that a decision how many additional ballots to be cast in each polling station, and the appropriate instructions were soon on their way to the compliant presiding officers – one phone call or radio message sufficient.

To understand how ZANU-PF could get away with this fraud one must appreciate how much of a disadvantage MDC election agents were at. At every polling station they were in a tiny minority compared to the police, the army, the presiding officer and his minions – all of whom were batting for the ruling party. Added to which their means of communication from the polling stations was poor at best and, as we shall see later, there were times when they were effectively cut off from the outside world altogether. The problems were grave enough for the MDC agents in urban constituencies: one can imagine how many times over the problems were compounded in remote rural areas.

Reports from around the country indicate that time and again the opposition representatives were hassled, restricted and frequently shut out of the polling stations altogether for significant periods of time. Quite enough time for the ZANU-PF team to take instructions from central command, write out additional ballots and slip them into the box. And at no time was the exclusion of MDC election agents from the polling stations more rigorously enforced than when the early “sample surveys” were being done. Some candidates themselves were excluded from participating in the count!

By 8.30 p.m. or thereabouts the sample survey had been completed – and one can imagine the alarm bells it set ringing for ZANU-PF! The MDC was set for a comprehensive victory. ZANU-PF was not slow to respond. They had the figures and knew roughly how many additional ballots were required to turn each defeat into victory for their candidates – except in those urban constituencies in which the MDC had such a massive lead and ability to prevent ballot stuffing that it would have been impossible to stage a ZANU-PF win without stretching credibility well beyond breaking point.

If one asks where the additional ZANU-PF ballots appeared from the answer is quite simple. Presiding officers had access to spare ballot papers. The voters’ roll has over a million “ghost” voters on it so there were plenty of names left that could be crossed off. A ballot could be completed, a “ghost” name struck off the register, and when the MDC polling agent was either looking the other way or physically removed from the station, a whole bunch of ZANU-PF ballots dropped in the box.

The national heist was proceeding smoothly and according to plan. There were, it is true, a number of irate MDC polling agents, and complaints of irregularities were sure to follow – but these could be dealt with in the partisan electoral courts in due course. All but the most conscientious foreign election observers were already tucked up in bed in their comfortable hotel bedrooms. It seemed that ZANU-PF could not lose - literally. Except for one unforeseen glitch, which, unfortunately for them, gave the whole game away.

On state television and radio the not-very-bright agents of the Electoral Commission had started to read out the initial results coming in from the constituencies. For each constituency the number of votes cast and the number turned away, was announced. Not yet the final tally for the parties, but just the total of votes cast. At one point the senior ZEC representative said that the results given represented the position at 7.30 p.m. – that is 30 minutes after the close of the polls. He got as far as reading out the results for 72 of the 120 constituencies when, inexplicably, he stopped – almost in mid sentence. No further results were ever again announced of votes cast.

It is known that a message was relayed nationally over police radio ordering the announcement of the voting figures be stopped, immediately.

Someone in ZEC / ZANU-PF had realized the fatal damage they were doing to their own elaborate plan to rig the vote. They had already given out too much information. All the MDC had to do for those 72 constituencies for which the total number of votes had been announced was a very simple calculation to arrive at the truth.

The compromised counting procedures continued across the country once the presiding officers were authorised to proceed. In most cases the count did not take long, because on average there were only a few hundred ballots to count at each polling station. The results were conveyed by radio or phone to constituency offices, and thence to the National Logistics Committee in Harare for a final number crunch by Robert Mugabe’s closest allies and partners in crime, headed by Tobias Mudede, the infamous Registrar-General of Voters who had already delivered two stolen elections to his master.

Meanwhile back in the polling stations the presiding officers held hostage all the MDC representatives present, to ensure that they did not interrupt the smooth flow of the ZANU PF master-plan. In very many instances (precise figures will no doubt follow) MDC agents were locked up after the count for several hours, and they were banned from using cell phones and all other means of communication. Unlawful imprisonment to add to the catalogue of crimes committed by and for the ruling party that night. (Not to mention the blatant violation of Section 64 (2) of the Electoral Act committed by all presiding officers who failed to post the results of the count in each polling station on public view).

But back to the one single serious blunder which provided clear and irrefutable evidence of ZANU-PF’s perfidy – the announcement of the total of all votes cast in 72 constituencies by 7.30 pm. Once the ZEC had completed their reading of all the results, giving the “official” numbers of votes for both main parties, the MDC could ascertain, by a simple calculation, the true number of votes cast for each candidate and the number of ZANU PF votes stuffed in the ballot boxes in each one of the 72 constituencies.

MDC had the following information for these constituencies (all ZEC’s own figures):

(1) The total number of votes cast
(2) The number of votes for their candidate (working on the safe assumption that ZEC would not increase the number of ballots cast in favour of the MDC)
(3) The number of votes said to belong to ZANU-PF.

Accepting (1) and (2) as true figures, subtract (2) from (1) and you have the true number of votes for ZANU-PF – which in most cases was considerably lower than (3). The difference between this (true) ZANU-PF number of votes and (3) represents the number of bogus votes stuffed in the ballot boxes by compliant presiding officers.

The fraud is out, and for all to see. There can be no denying that ZANU-PF have been caught red-handed. To which we can add that, using this windfall information and the results declared for MDC, it is possible to calculate by a simple matter of arithmetic, that the absolute minimum of seats actually won by the opposition is 62. Again we would emphasise that this is the most careful and conservative figure and represents the absolute minimum of seats secured by the MDC. Yet even the figure of 62 seats proves two simple facts of enormous significance:

(1) ZANU-PF did not obtain the two thirds majority in parliament they crave and worked so hard – and so dishonestly - to obtain, and
(2) MDC secured the majority of the popular vote which was their target – 62 seats(minimum) out of 120 contested seats.

We await with interest ZANU-PF’s response to this exposure and, with almost as much interest, a comment from the SADC and South African government observer teams, which have already pronounced the elections as free and fair.


Visit our website at www.sokwanele.com
Visit our blog: This is Zimbabwe (Sokwanele blog)

We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele does not endorse the editorial policy of any source or website except its own. It retains full copyright on its own articles, which may be reproduced or distributed but may not be materially altered in any way. Reproduced articles must clearly show the source and owner of copyright, together with any other notices originally contained therein, as well as the original date of publication. Sokwanele does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way from receipt of this email or use thereof. This document, or any part thereof, may not be distributed for profit.

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Sitrep 4.
I do apologize for the four-day gap in communication but we were called to
Harare for an urgent National Executive meeting and I have been in the
capital since then dealing with the aftermath of the elections.

By now you have all had the results - official and unofficial, but just to
summarize them - Zanu PF took 78 seats, MDC 41 and Independents 1. I still
do not have the total poll numbers and a lot of other detail - simply have
not had the time to follow this up, but it looks as if there was a low poll
compared to the voters roll (expected) and the MDC has rejected the results
of the poll. Mugabe is crowing and Mbeki bowing down to this regional master
of electoral fraud.

My rough calculations suggest that there were about 500 000 false ballots in
this election - down from the 2002 election when our data suggested 800 000
false ballots. On this occasion of course, they simply had to target
sufficient constituencies to ensure that the regime obtained their 2/3rd
majority. A message passed on to Morgan Tsvangirai from an agent in the
State security services said that in fact the MDC had "won" in 94 of the 120
seats. An unofficial comment from another representative of the intelligence
community (not Zimbabwean) suggested that the MDC had won "over 80 seats".

What was very disappointing was the appalling lack of integrity (or was it
simply stupidity) in the SA and the SADC observer missions. But then we were
told by almost everyone before this whole farce was conducted that we were
wasting our time and money - the election would be rigged (Zanu PF cannot
get off the Tiger without being eaten, hypothesis) and that the African
observer missions would whitewash the result. Our detractors were spot on,
but it was worth the effort.

Let me just try to summarize the electoral situation here as a backdrop to
your own analysis. The voters roll had 5,7 million names in it. Zimbabwe's
last census of its population showed a total population of 11,6 million.
This was nearly 2 million short of the anticipated total projected from the
previous census in 1992. By extrapolating these census figures and using
death rates and migration estimates we now think the total population is
fewer than 11 million. Of this total 45 per cent would be over 18 - that is
about the historical average.

So we start this analysis with a total adult population of 4,95 million. If
we assume (optimistically) that 75 per cent register as voters then we end
up with a potential voter register of 3,7 million. Of this number at the
very best we could expect a voter turn out of (say) 65 per cent and this
suggests total voter turn out of 2,4 million - 42 per cent of the number
registered on the voters roll. This was just about the total number of votes
cast, so on the surface we have quite a good turn out.

But it must be understood that we now have a death rate of over 300 000
adults a year and migration has been running at about 500 000 a year. If
this has been the case then actual potential voter numbers may be much lower
than the above estimate - perhaps as low as 1,8 to 1,9 million and hence the
estimate of false ballots.

Whatever the real situation, the voters roll was about 60 per cent inflated
and there were at least 2,7 million "ghost" voters on the roll. These were
manipulated and used to pad out areas where Zanu PF felt they could dominate
the election campaign and control the electoral process. It was by these
means that the delimitation exercise was gerrymandered to further tilt the
electoral process against the MDC.

In the 2004 delimitation exercise 40 seats were allocated to urban areas.
This is one third of the total number of seats contested. However, in the
past 25 years the percentage of the total population located in the urban
areas has risen steadily - and is now estimated at over 60 per cent. This
means that the MDC strongholds were under represented by almost 100 per cent
in the numbers of seats they should have been allocated. With the urban
population rising by about 5 to 6 per cent per annum and the total
population shrinking by about 2 per cent - rural populations are declining
quite rapidly. Harare/Chitungwiza metropolitan area has over 3 million
people living in it according to municipal records. This is equal to 1,35
million potential voters - say 1 million for the voter's roll or a third of
total potential voters yet it has only 18 seats - 15 per cent of the total.

Then you have what I call the invisible hand of intimidation. We have huge
populations that now enjoy little or no security over their means of income
and who live at or below subsistence. These people face instant penury if
they are deprived in any way of their means of survival. They include gold
panners (about 500 000 adults), "settlers" on expropriated commercial farms
(about 200 000 adults) and peasant farmers in communal areas (1 million
adults). All of these groups are subject to the whims of Zanu PF and must
obey their dictates if they want to survive. The pressures are enormous -
from families threatened with expulsion from their homes in communal farming
districts by local Headmen who are appointed and paid by the State and act
as "enforcers". They include the threat to small-scale miners that they will
be expelled from their claims - 90 per cent of which are illegal. They
include thousands of small informal businesses in urban areas where licenses
to operate are controlled by Zanu dominated administrations.

Any of these people who voted MDC are faced with threats of one kind or
another - sanctions on food and agricultural inputs from government agencies
are widespread and in the context of this year when we have 6 million people
threatened with starvation, a life or death issue. At one polling station on
a commercial farm 190 votes were cast for Zanu PF, one vote for the MDC.
When this result was seen by the "constituency control center" the remark
was made - that this one vote must have been the white farmer and death
threats were made - until the returning officer for the polling station said
that he had not voted. A Minister had threatened the workers previously that
if you vote MDC we will confiscate the farm. The workers voted to protect
their jobs with one of the few remaining white farmers in the country. The
white farmer was simply too frightened even to vote.

Then there is the voting process itself. In my wife's polling station there
were 18 officials - 11 teachers, 4 policemen, one CIO officer and 3
officials from the Electoral Commission. We were allowed one polling agent
into the polling center at any one time and they, without exception, were
treated with hostility or worse.  Our people tried to watch the poll through
the day and to count the vote's cast, in the evening they also tried to
witness the verification and counting process. Then, unexpectantly, they
were locked in while the returning officer took the result off to the
control center where the results were reported. On return the government
officials informed our agents of the result for the station and then left
with all the records in a government truck for an unknown destination.

When the results were subsequently announced they bore little resemblance to
the physical count on the ground. In one constituency the total number of
votes counted exceeded the physical count of voters by nearly 100 per cent.
As Stalin said " it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the vote".

So what do we do from here - well that is still being decided but one thing
is sure - the legal route is a waste of time (in 2000 and 2002 we sought
justice from the Courts and were denied). Also under threat is the faith of
our people in the whole democratic process. Three times now the vote has
been stolen from the people. To say we are angry and disappointed is to put
it mildly and if you weigh up all the possibilities, there is really only
one remaining option.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 5th April 2005
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JUSTICE FOR AGRICULTURE OPEN LETTER FORUM, 5th April 2005 OLF No. 354

Email: jag@mango.zw; justiceforagriculture@zol.co.zw
Internet: www.justiceforagriculture.com

Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to:
jag@mango.zw with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".

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Thought of the Day:

" When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good
men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men
must commit themselves to the glories of love.

Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must
seek to bring into being a real order of justice"

Martin Luther King Jr
(Quoted in 'In my own words')

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- thoughts and prayers to you - Keith & Colleen Henderson
- Searching for Leslie and Tim Howman - Angelika Weber
- moved from ZW - Mrs P.V. Garner

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LETTER 1: THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS TO YOUR, received 3.4.2005

Keith & Colleen Henderson

Dear JAG

Our thoughts, love, gratitude, and condolences to all our friends and
comrades, who, as ever, gave their all to the cause of democracy. Your
service to the people of Zimbabwe has always been beyond the call of duty.

Our hearts are broken and all our prayers go to all of you as you now
prepare for the on-going battle.

Isaiah 41:13 & 40:31 Ps 27

With love & thoughts,

Keith & Colleen Henderson.

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LETTER 2: SEARCHING Leslie and Tim HOWMAN, received 5.4.2005

by Angelika Weber

Dear JAG

Hallo, maybe you can help. I am searchin of friends of mine. Their names
are Leslie and Tim HOWMAN. They used to live in Harare, and if my
investigation is correct they moved to Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia.
Tim used to have a plumbing business in Harare.

I'd be very grateful if you have any information and could let me know.

Thank you and kind regards
Angelika

Angelika Weber
Seb.-Stoskopff-Weg 12a
65510 Idstein
Germany
email ange.weber@gmx.de

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LETTER 3: MOVED FROM ZW, received 4.4.2005

by Mrs P.V. Garner

Hello there JAG,

I am Tish Garner and I have moved to England after loosing the farm then My
Husband had a fatal heart attack so I have come to live with my mother as I
suddenly had no home. Anyway why I am writing to you is I was wondering if
you could send me any emails to my email address in England which is
garnerpookie@aol.co.

I hope this wont be inconvenient and course any problems but it would be
nice to know how Zimbabwe is featuring as we get no news about Zimbabwe
here and I am missing the country so much and just wish with all my heart
we could all still be there.

Keep up the good work and I and My family thank you all for trying to make
a difference. God bless and all keep safe.

Mrs P.V. Garner

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THE JAG TEAM

JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
                                  we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines
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