The government says it is committed to ensuring education for all children
of school-going age, yet in Masvingo province alone 35 schools have been closed
due to violence, largely carried out by supporters of the ruling party and
There are also many other schools that are not fully functional because
most of the teachers are afraid to return to their stations, fearing for their
lives. Preparations for students writing their final examinations have been
compromised. It means that a vast number of them are likely to miss their
examinations because of the terror that has shut down their schools.
There is also the likelihood of congestion as most of them may find
themselves repeating. After the closure of their schools they find themselves
being herded into the youth brigade. Here, instead of imbibing knowledge to
improve their lives, they are taught the deadly skills in violence.
Apartheid South Africa made certain the majority of black children were not
in schools, or if they were, they would be taught to know who was the boss,
which later spawned the violent Soweto uprising of 1976. The students acquired
the skills of violence to defend themselves and survive under apartheid. This is
one of the reasons why there is so much violence in that country even today.
In the case of Zimbabwe, the closure of schools and the youth brigade
training programme will only empower the young people with knowledge of
violence. They will pose a serious security risk. The role of the security
agents during the past 24 bloody months does not inspire confidence in their
ability to react and bring the situation under control.
The second contradiction is found in the government’s efforts to persuade
the organisers of the Kora Music Awards/Miss Malaika beauty pageant to stage the
events in Zimbabwe. The idea is, of course, to piggyback on these activities and
promote Zimbabwe in the process. The government conveniently forgets that it is
the author of the problem it now seeks to redress by inviting the organisers of
these star-studded events.
The fundamental problem in Zimbabwe is that of political instability, and
as long as the government refuses to acknowledge this reality, no amount of
courting the Kora awards/Miss Malaika organisers will change the perception of
the outside world.
But herein lies another perplexing contradiction: Kora/Miss Malaika, by
comparison has a limited international audience than the Harare
International Festival of the Arts (Hifa), whose audience includes the
international visitors Zimbabwe says it is seeking to attract. The government’s
strategy would be far more effective if they supported Hifa too, although unless
the core problems are addressed, it would all be an exercise in futility.
The interest in the Kora/Malaika organisers strikes interesting parallels
with that in Coltrane Chimurenga’s 12 September Movement, whose results and
effect are ambiguous. The only rational explanation for the government’s
disinterest in Hifa would be because of the largely European factor in it.
With the imminent imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe by the European
Union, the government has become anti-everything European.
This week it
announced that anti-retroviral drugs would become available to HIV/Aids
sufferers from next month. But it is evident from the budget that the allocation
to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare was marginally more than the
previous year. So, where is the funding coming from? Either the government is
trivialising a national crisis or this is yet another of its electioneering
But there are real prospects for tackling the scourge. The global anti-Aids
fund, intended to spearhead the world’s war on the pandemic, swung into action
this week with a call to countries to suggest projects needing to be financed.
For once, the government should start being serious and tap into the US$1,9
billion (Z$104,5 billion) fund in order to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.
Heads roll again at ZBC
1/31/02 7:52:27 AM (GMT +2)
THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, (ZBC), long plagued by
administrative woes, has been hit by fresh problems.
Another series of changes has affected senior journalists who were promoted
last year in October, during a restructuring exercise which claimed many scalps
at Pockets Hill.
The latest casualties are Reuben Barwe, who has been relegated to the
reporters’ pool despite being the first ever, presidential correspondent at ZBC,
and Freedom Moyo, who has been recalled from his Gwanda base.
Moyo was promoted to Matabeleland South bureau chief last year but was
recalled to Harare, where he is now a reporter.
He is said to have refused to be bullied by Zanu PF Member of Parliament
for Gwanda South, Abednico Ncube, who is alleged to have pressed for coverage
centred only on him in the province.
Barwe as chief correspondent, covered all presidential trips and assigned
reporters to their duties but has since ceded his office to Faith Zaba, formerly
with the Zimbabwe Inter-African News Agency, Ziana.
This week, Gideon Gono, the ZBC board chairman, referred all questions to
Alum Mpofu, chief executive officer, who could not be reached for a comment.
Gono said: “As a board we deal with policy issues. We do not interfere with
management’s work. The day-to-day running is done by management, led by Mr Alum
Mpofu. He is the best person to ask.”
A lady in the public relations department at ZBC refused to answer
questions and referred the paper to the affected journalists, who refused to
speak to The Daily News.
Tapfuma Machakaire is tipped to take over from Moyo as Matabeleland South
bureau chief and Makosini Hlongwane, who has been the Midlands bureau chief, is
set to replace Machakaire in Bulawayo, as chief.
But it is the elevation of Zvikomborero Sibanda, a former stringer with The
Chronicle, to the post of Midlands bureau chief, that stirred emotions at
Sibanda joined ZBC last year during the restructuring exercise and was a
reporter in Bulawayo before her latest controversial promotion.
It was not clear whether she had finished her probation or not.
In another development, two disc jockeys, Bridget “Bubbling B” Gavanga and
Witness “The Chuman” Matema, have bounced back on 3FM after a dramatic U-turn by
ZBC management which had “fired” them.
The pair returned to the airwaves last week on Wednesday and Saturday,
respectively, sparking celebrations among the thousands of fans who had been
missing their silky voices on the air.
Ironically, Tsitsi Mawarire, former 3FM boss who had allegedly instigated
the duo’s removal from the station, was re-assigned to Consumer Services.
Musician and lecturer Joseph Nhare aka Man SoulJah is now head of 3FM.
For the record, since Mpofu took over from Luke Munyawarara, in August 2001
as head at ZBC, a number of loyal and dedicated journalists have been fired,
demoted or resigned.
These include Lovemore Banda, Happison “Commander” Muchechetere, Timothy
Makoni, Medeline Dube, John Masuku, Ben Mugabe, Anani Maruta, Tommy Mandigora,
Chris Somo, Musi Khumalo and Munyawarara himself, among a host of others.
Those who have been “promoted twice” are Munyama Ngangura and Mawarire.
Ngangura was appointed head of radio services last year during the
restructuring programme but has now been promoted to an obscure position.
His position has been taken over by Abigail Mvududu who, prior to her new
position, had been promoted to executive producer of Current Affairs.
Canada halts deportations to Zimbabwe
Canada is to temporarily halt deportations to Zimbabwe to review the
situation in the country.
The move comes after a woman and her child took refuge in a Montreal church
to hide from immigration officials.
Immigration Minister Denis Coderre said in Parliament he needed to study
the issue of human rights and Canada's relations with Zimbabwe.
He made no mention of the case of Dorothy Dube, who went to the Union
United Church on Tuesday, saying she preferred jail in Canada to a death squad
Immigration officials had ordered Ms Dube, her 10-year-old son Basil, and
her 18-year-old niece, Nompilo Ncube, to meet with them at Montreal's Dorval
Ms Dube and her family went to the church of the Rev Darryl Gray
Ms Ncube says she was raped by Zimbabwean government thugs, and Ms Dube
says she faced death for political dissent.
She said she could not understand how Canada could deport refugees back to
Zimbabwe in the face of confirmed reports of torture, beatings and political
New Zealand wants Zimbabwe out of Commonwealth
New Zealand's foreign minister Phil Goff says Zimbabwe should face
"smart sanctions" and be expelled from the Commonwealth.
He says a decision by Commonwealth foreign ministers to send observers to
oversee Zimbabwe's election rather than suspend its membership from the
organisation, was disappointing.
Mr Goff welcomed the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group call for
President Robert Mugabe to end the violence and breaches of human rights in his
country, but said the group had not gone far enough.
Eight Commonwealth foreign ministers meeting in London stopped short of
recommending Zimbabwe's suspension from the organisation but voiced "deep
concern" over president Mugabe's crackdown on opposition ahead of the March
31/01/2002 6:40:08 PM | ABC Radio Australia News
Mbeki rallies civil society to aid Zimbabwe
January 31 2002 at 07:04AM
Cape Town - Various sectors of society
had been mobilised to work flat out to deal with any possible negative fallout
from disturbances in the run-up to Zimbabwe's elections in March, the presidency
President Thabo Mbeki's office issued a statement saying that he and "a few
cabinet ministers" had held a meeting on Tuesday with leaders of the business,
religious, trade union and commercial agriculture sectors to discuss the
situation in Zimbabwe.
Tasneem Carrim, a spokesperson for Mbeki, said the meetings had been
attended by, among others, Nail chief executive Saki Macozoma, Cosatu general
secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and representatives from Anglo American, farmers'
group AgriSA and churches.
As most business leaders were on their way to the World Economic Forum
(WEF) meeting in New York, representatives from the business chambers did not
attend. They will probably be briefed by Mbeki at the WEF meeting tomorrow.
The ministers at the meeting were Membathisi Mdladlana, the minister of
labour and head of the task team dealing with Zimbabwe, Aziz Pahad, the deputy
minister of foreign affairs, and Essop Pahad, the deputy minister in Mbeki's
Most other key ministers had also left for New York.
Carrim said the meeting had mainly dealt with matters of principle and
details would be released as soon as possible.
A key focus had been on efforts to ensure enough food supplies reached
Zimbabwe, which would fit in with the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) initiative to keep food, trade and transport going.
Japie Grobler, the president of AgriSA, said he had come away from the
meeting with the impression that more was being done behind the scenes to limit
the fallout from Zimbabwe than most people realised.
Ensuring adequate food supplies, especially of maize, would be difficult
given shortages in South Africa, but it appeared every effort was being made to
secure supplies for Zimbabwe.
The statement from Mbeki's office said the president had "briefed the
meeting on the initiatives that the South African government has already taken,
both within the SADC context and as a neighbouring country, to help ensure that
the forthcoming presidential elections in Zimbabwe are conducted in a climate of
peace and tolerance by all parties and that they are free and fair".
The statement said there had been "consensus that South Africa must do all
it can to act in the best long-term interests of the people of Zimbabwe and the
SADC region" at the meeting.
It added that, to help ensure a free and fair election "the government and
other sectors of South African society will provide election observers to
Zimbabwe over the coming election period", among other things.
"The meeting agreed that the government would remain in regular contact
with all the participants to ensure a common national effort as we do what we
can to assist the people of Zimbabwe," the statement concluded.
On Monday a network of non-governmental organisations, including Cosatu,
Amnesty International and Lawyers for Human Rights, had met separately to
discuss the Zimbabwean situation, particularly the fact that "democracy is under
threat and [we] remain highly concerned regarding ongoing human rights abuses".
Mugabe stays in
By David Blair, Foreign
BRITAIN failed to secure Zimbabwe's expulsion from the
Commonwealth yesterday when foreign ministers from eight member states chose
instead to repeat demands that President Robert Mugabe must hold free and fair
Journalists protest outiside the Zimbabwean parliament building
over unconstitutional legislation|
However, Australia said it would impose "targeted sanctions" on
Mr Mugabe and his allies - the toughest action yet taken against the Harare
government by a Commonwealth state.
Supported by Australia and Canada, Jack
Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has declared Britain's intention to remove
Zimbabwe from the organisation. The failure by the Commonwealth Ministerial
Action Group to agree on this course during its meeting in London amounted to a
reprieve for Mr Mugabe.
brutal campaign waged against his opponents, which has claimed over 100
lives since February 2000, Britain's move was blocked by Nigeria, Botswana,
Bangladesh and Malaysia. Barbados was the sole developing country to back Mr
Alexander Downer, the Australian foreign minister, said his
government would impose sanctions along the lines agreed
in principal by the European Union on Monday. This would take the form of
imposing travel bans and freezing assets held overseas.
While stopping short of the ultimate penalty of expulsion, the
ministers condemned Mr Mugabe for breaking "the Commonwealth fundamental
political values" by pushing a raft of repressive legislation through
Parliament, including the Public Order and Security Act which criminalises
criticism of the president.
It was a "further direct curb on freedom of speech, of the press
and association", the ministers said.
Mr Straw insisted that he was not disappointed by the outcome.
"It is less than we hoped but also more than we expected," he said.
Mr Straw stressed that a Commonwealth observer team would soon
arrive in Zimbabwe to cover the presidential election due on March 9 and 10.
"We have set down the clearest benchmarks within which the
election takes place to try and ensure, as far as is possible, a free election,"
Although Morgan Tsvangirai, the presidential candidate for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, has been forced
to abandon campaigning because of incessant violence, Mr Straw claimed it
was still "just possible" for a free and fair poll to take place.
The MDC has called for Zimbabwe to be expelled and for Mr Mugabe
to face total international isolation. Despite the support of both of the
African countries represented, Mr Straw dismissed suggestions that Commonwealth
opinion was divided along racial lines.
"Cultural differences have boundaries but fairness [in an
election] has no boundaries," he said.
Although Mr Mugabe will draw comfort from the reprieve, Foreign
Office sources have said that international pressure on his regime was producing
"Mugabe, because he's a bully, is only responding to firm
pressure. The very intense international pressure is already causing ructions
within Zanu-PF," said one.
However, yesterday's meeting ensured that Mr Mugabe is unlikely
to feel any more international pressure before election
Extract from the statement following the CMAG meeting in
The Group reviewed the situation in Zimbabwe in the light of
developments since its last meeting on 20 December 2001. It expressed its deep
concern over the continued violence, political intimidation and actions against
the freedom and independence of the media. The Group also condemned the recently
enacted Public Order and Security Act and the General Laws Amendment Act, as
well as the proposed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, as
further direct curbs on the freedom of speech, of the press, and association in
Zimbabwe and contrary to the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values as
enshrined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration. The Group expressed the
strongest concern that the statement by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Chief and
the recent and foreshadowed legislation constituted a direct threat to the
conduct of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
CMAG noted that President Mugabe had publicly issued an
invitation to the Commonwealth, amongst other international and regional
organisations, to send observers to the forthcoming Presidential Election. It
called for the immediate deployment of such observers by the Commonwealth
Secretary-General and for the full co-operation of the Government of Zimbabwe in
facilitating the operation of the Commonwealth and other international and
domestic observers during the election period, which had already begun. The
Group expressed its full support for the process established by the Abuja
Agreement, reached at the initiative of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria,
including the President’s ongoing mediation efforts and expressed its great
appreciation to President Obasanjo. The Group looked forward to the publication
of the United Nations Development Programme report on equitable and sustainable
land reform in Zimbabwe and expressed support for the involvement of the UNDP in
this process, as agreed at Abuja. The Group expressed support for the initiative
by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in encouraging a peaceful
outcome to the situation in Zimbabwe in accordance with the rule of law and
respect for human rights.
CMAG further called on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure
that: There is an immediate end to violence and intimidation and that the police
and army refrain from party political statements and activities; All parties in
the election be allowed to campaign freely without intimidation or fear of
recrimination; The people of Zimbabwe are able to make an unfettered and
informed choice in the elections, inter alia through full access to information
from the media. The Group decided that Zimbabwe would remain on its formal
agenda and agreed to draw up its recommendations to CHOGM at its next meeting,
taking into account the Government of Zimbabwe’s response to these concerns, in
the light of information received from the Secretary-General. The Group noted
that the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme provides for a range of
measures from Commonwealth disapproval to suspension.
Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House,
From News24 (SA), 30 January
SA to send 'diverse observer team' to Zim
Cape Town - South Africa will send a diverse team of election
observers to Zimbabwe, including politicians, business people, trade unionists
and clerics, to help ensure a free and fair presidential poll, the presidency
said on Wednesday. The initiative follows talks between President Thabo Mbeki
and South African business, labour union and agricultural leaders in Pretoria on
Tuesday. A presidential spokesperson said Mbeki had briefed the leaders about
initiatives by the South African government, both bilaterally and as part of the
Southern African Development Community, to help ensure that the elections on
March 9 and 10 were free and fair. Details of the proposed observer team were
still being ironed out and it was not yet clear how it would fit in with other
initiatives, such as those of SADC and the South African Parliament, which are
sending separate monitoring teams. "It has been agreed in principle that it will
be a multi-sector team, co-ordinated by the government," the spokesperson
Mbeki had also outlined steps taken by SADC to address food
shortages in Zimbabwe. "There was consensus that South Africa must do all it can
to act in the best long-term interests of the people of Zimbabwe and the SADC
region," a statement from the presidency said. Meanwhile, SADC foreign ministers
gathered in Harare on Wednesday for a two-day meeting to follow-up on
resolutions on Zimbabwe taken at the regional heads of state summit in Malawi
earlier this month. Zimbabwe was also on the agenda of the Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group, which is to meet in London on Wednesday. Britain's
foreign secretary Jack Straw said his government would push for Zimbabwe's
suspension from the 54-member Commonwealth when its heads of state meet in
Coolum, Australia, from March 2 to 5.
Zimbabwe hails Commonwealth over rebuff to
HARARE, Jan. 31 — Zimbabwe
applauded the Commonwealth on Thursday for rejecting a British call to suspend
the country from the 54-nation group, claiming a diplomatic victory over the
former colonial power. ''Zimbabwe pulled yet another diplomatic coup on
the ''mighty British Empire'' when their proposal to suspend Zimbabwe from an
organisation led by their Queen was thrown out of the window,'' the official
Herald newspaper said in an editorial.
Commonwealth foreign ministers rejected British-led calls on Wednesday for
Zimbabwe's suspension from the organisation because of attacks on the opposition
and the media.
They pressed instead for
the immediate deployment of election observers for a presidential poll due on
A Commonwealth statement
also called for ''an immediate end to violence and intimidation and that the
police and army refrain from party political statements and activities.''
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
had sought Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth's main decision-making
bodies and a recommendation from the ministers for its complete suspension at a
March 2-5 Commonwealth summit in Australia.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don
McKinnon said engagement, not isolation, was the best course and that cutting
Zimbabwe off would have left the international community even fewer levers of
influence over President Robert Mugabe.
The Herald newspaper, which reflects government policy, said the bid to isolate
Zimbabwe by Britain and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had
been a flop.
''For the umpteenth time
the former colonialists, the British, have been beaten by Zimbabwe on the
diplomatic front. It is always a difficult thing for a master to ever regard
their former subject as an equal and this prejudice has confined the British
diplomats to international embarrassment,'' it said.
The Commonwealth decision came after
three reporters were arrested outside Zimbabwe's parliament when riot police
broke up a media protest against new legislation which seeks to impose tight
controls on local and foreign media.
The proposed bill media is expected to be debated in parliament later on
Thursday. Critics say it aims to suppress criticism of Mugabe in the run-up to
the elections, in which he faces the biggest threat to his 22-year rule.
It is part of a raft of laws that have
drawn international condemnation and a threat of European Union sanctions.
EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday
to impose a travel ban on the top 20 individuals in Mugabe's inner circle and
their families and to freeze their foreign assets if Zimbabwe prevented the
deployment of EU election observers.
Mugabe, who has accused Britain of orchestrating a campaign to demonise his
country, said he would accept foreign election observers -- except for Britons.
January 31, 2002
SA preparing for influx of refugees from
South African civil society and trade unions have called on the government
and organisations to be ready to help Zimbabwean refugees who may be fleeing the
economic and political crises that has gripped the country ahead of its
''We realise that democracy - in Zimbabwe - is under threat and remain
highly concerned regarding ongoing human rights abuses,'' said a network of
South African human rights, labour and civil societies.
The network says it plans to send a delegation to observe the presidential
election and check that it is free and fair.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has, under pressure from the world
community, invited several regional and international organisations to observe
his country's presidential election, scheduled for Mar 9-10.
Mugabe and his party, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front (ZANU-PF), have been accused of resorting to violence and intimidation to
prevent the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from winning the
Despite a great deal of cynicism from the international community, Mugabe
has promised the election will be free and fair and that he will put an end to
the violence gripping his country.
The South African network includes the Centre for Study of Violence and
Reconciliation, which works to rehabilitate victims of violence; the Network of
Independent Monitors, which watches political violence; the South African NGO
Coalition (Sangoco) and the 1.2-million strong Congress of South African Trade
Cosatu is the country's largest labour federation.
In a statement, the network says its aim is to ''marshal resources in South
Africa to deal with the impending humanitarian and refugee crisis in Zimbabwe,
and to ensure an appropriate response from NGOs, governments and civil society,
especially those in South African provinces neighbouring Zimbabwe.''
The network also aims to support South African government initiatives to
defend democracy and rule of law in Zimbabwe and to pool resources and to build
partnerships with Zimbabwean civil society.
''NGOs, organisations of civil society and professional bodies are urged to
contact the network should they wish to participate in expressing solidarity and
support for the people of Zimbabwe,'' says the network.
Sangoco especially called for volunteers who could help provide health
services and the skills necessary to ensure a free and fair election in
Cosatu International Secretary, Simon Boshielo, says the political
instability in Zimbabwe may result in a humanitarian crisis and proposes that
refugee camps should be set up in South Africa's Northern Province.
The South African government has already indicated that it has earmarked
disused military bases for this purpose.
The calls come amid reports that at least 500 Zimbabweans are leaving
weekly for greener pastures to neighbouring countries such as South Africa and
Botswana. Others are heading for Britain, the United States, Canada and
The network made it clear that it did not want to pressure the South
African government into taking a hard-line against the Zimbabwean government.
Its main aim will be to help ensure the election in Zimbabwe was free and
Sangoco chairperson, Abie Ditlhake, who is also the chairperson of the SADC
NGO forum, says: ''When basic human rights are challenged, it becomes the duty
of all of us in the SADC NGO community to stand together in ensuring that these
rights are returned to all Zimbabweans.''
SADC is the Southern African Development Community, which groups 14
A delegation from one of South Africa's relatively small opposition
parties, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) is also heading across the border on
a fact-finding mission.
The mission, led by PAC president, Stanley Mogoba, will conduct
wide-ranging talks with politicians - including representatives of Zanu-PF and
the opposition MDC - civil society organisations, business people, clerics and
Historically, the PAC has been close to Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF since the
years of the liberation struggles in Zimbabwe and South Africa. In South Africa
today, the PAC's main political plank is a call for the land in the country to
be redistributed to Black people who lost their properties under
However, Mogoba says his organisation will support any party that is
democratically elected to the government of Zimbabwe.
The South African Parliament also wants to send an all-party observer
mission to monitor the presidential elections in Zimbabwe, says the Speaker of
the National Assembly Frene Ginwala.
Plans for the observer mission would be discussed, later this week, she
In the meantime, it has been reported that there are plans for at least 39
representatives from the Southern African Development Community to monitor
Zimbabwe's presidential election.
The monitors will be deployed in Zimbabwe at least a month ahead of
Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 11:35 GMT
Zimbabwe declares 'diplomatic
The Commonwealth was divided along racial
The official Zimbabwe media says Wednesday's decision not to
suspend it from the Commonwealth was a humiliating defeat for the "mighty
In an editorial, The Herald said Britain had been "slapped in the face" and
with its record of colonialism, was in no position to lecture anyone about
respecting human rights.
But the secretary general of the 54-member grouping denied the decision by
Commonwealth foreign ministers was "a moral victory" for President Robert
Zimbabwe's parliament is again due to debate a
controversial media law after reports that it has been altered to take account
of criticism from within Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Zimbabwe pulled yet another diplomatic coup against the
'mighty British Empire'
Zimbabwe's foreign minister has also reacted for the first time to the
European Union's threat to impose sanctions, accusing it of trying to
"perpetuate an archaic colonial relationship".
Both Commonwealth secretary general Don McKinnon and Nigeria's Foreign
Minister Sule Lamido told the BBC that the most important thing with five weeks
to go before presidential elections was to get observers into Zimbabwe.
The secretary general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
Welshman Ncube, agreed:
McKinnon condemned recent
"What we want is a climate that will deliver a reasonably legitimate
electoral process. Suspending Zimbabwe in itself will not necessarily deliver
that," he said.
The BBC's diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says the Commonwealth
meeting was split on broadly racial lines: the old white Commonwealth
represented by Britain, Australia and Canada, urged Zimbabwe's suspension; the
new Commonwealth of African and Asian countries preferred words of condemnation.
Mr Lamido said that the election observers would be allowed to go wherever
they want and this would help ensure that the elections are free and fair.
Mr McKinnon said that the Commonwealth had urged Zimbabwe to end the
political violence and condemned recent laws.
It was clear that if the situation did not improve, Zimbabwe could face
suspension when Commonwealth heads of government meet in Australia a week before
the March election.
Journalists risk prison if they break any of the
The EU has said that targeted sanctions against the Zimbabwe leadership would
be imposed if their observers were not allowed in this weekend.
Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge on Thursday condemned this ultimatum and said
Zimbabwe's concerns about external influence on its politics had gone unheeded.
Reuters news agency reports that it has seen a copy of the revised media bill
and says it "appeared little changed from the previous version and would still
restrict access for foreign reporters and force local journalists to get yearly
accreditation from a state commission".
Journalists have said they will ask the Supreme Court to declare it
unconstitutional as soon as it is passed.
Earlier this week, a Zanu-PF MP, Eddison Zvobgo said that many clauses
contravened the constitution and urged parliament to reject it.
The government had originally wanted to pass the bill last year and debate
has been delayed on several occasions following criticism from journalists, the
international community and southern African leaders.
BBC sets up new bureau to beat Zimbabwe ban
By Julie Tomlin
Posted 31 January 2002 00:00 GMT
The BBC plans to set up a temporary bureau on the Zimbabwe
border if President Robert Mugabe’s ban on the corporation continues.
BBC journalists have been refused entry to the country since its
correspondent Joseph Winter was thrown out last February.
With Zimbabwe’s election set for 9 March, the BBC is planning to base a
team of journalists on its border with South Africa to gain better access, while
continuing to report from Johannesburg and London.
The BBC’s Africa correspondents, Rageh Omaar and Hilary Andersson, along
with diplomatic correspondents James Robbins, Brian Hanrahan and Bridget
Kendall, are among those who will be working on the story.
“The most important thing is that there is a free and fair election, and we
believe that a free and fair media is essential to that process,” said Vin Ray,
BBC deputy head of newsgathering.
“We would be extremely disappointed if the Government continued to exclude
us. We are working on plans to cover the election from Johannesburg and London,
as well from the border, if they do.”
The BBC has been caught up in a political row over whether the European
Union’s general affairs council has accepted that the ban can continue without
sanctions being imposed. Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram has asked Jack
Straw if sanctions would be triggered if monitors were not in place by 3
February and the international media given access.
Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Chris McGreal and The Daily Telegraph’s Philip
Sherwell have left Zimbabwe after reports that President Mugabe’s Government was
hunting for foreign journalists posing as tourists.
The good, the bad, and Mugabe
The crisis surrounding Zimbabwe's forthcoming presidential election is
increasingly like a scene from an old Hollywood western, says Simon Tisdall
Thursday January 31, 2002
A locomotive pulling numerous carriages is speeding down the track. A
helpless heroine - symbolising in this case, the Zimbabwean electorate - has
been roped to the railway line.
A shootout is under way between the "bad"
guys - President Robert Mugabe, Zanu-PF hardliners and hand-picked army
generals, and the so-called war veterans - and the good guys - the Movement for
Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the trade unions, and what remains
of the independent judiciary and media.
The train comes racing round the bend and bears down on the struggling
victim. Its whistle blows. The engineer slams on the brakes but it is far too
late to stop.
Will her gallant would-be rescuers be able to cut the distressed damsel
free in time? Or will her cruel abductors succeed in getting their wicked way?
For those who can bear the suspense, all will be revealed in the polls due
on March 9-10. But many in Britain, the former colonial power in what was once
Rhodesia, in the chancelleries of western Europe and in the US state department
and Congress already think they know the ending.
Barring some big, unforeseen upset, Mugabe will fiddle and intimidate and
bully his way to another presidential term - in just the same way as he secured
victory in the last parliamentary elections two years ago despite a big swing to
If grasping that victory means a further increase in violence and torture,
Mugabe is apparently quite prepared to take that step. If it means yet more seed
and grain seizures on white-owned farms, at a time when famine already threatens
large swathes of the country, he will do that, too.
If the price of victory is shutting down the free press, barring foreign
journalists, excluding international election monitors, and defying critics
within his own party who say he has gone too far, Mugabe is ready to pay it.
And there is, it seems, precious little that a watching world can do to
Perhaps the train wreck can somehow be averted. Some kind of last minute
reprieve is certainly to be hoped for. But it is just a hope - for Zimbabwe has
become, in one sense, a salutary and sobering reminder that the powers of the
"international community" can be vastly overestimated.
Among those likely to be left with egg on their faces are the following:
Former foreign secretary Robin Cook and his junior minister,
Peter Hain, tried berating Mugabe, cutting off arms sales, and curtailing
government-to-government aid. Mugabe said they had a colonial era complex and
Cook's successor, Jack Straw, tried negotiation in Abuja, Nigeria last year
but was subsequently fobbed off. This week he vowed to put Mugabe "on the spot".
But his efforts to date have done little or nothing to head off the impending
theft of the election.
Despite its commitment to uphold democracy embodied in
the 1991 Harare Declaration and despite several meetings of the Commonwealth
ministerial action group and its organisation of the Abuja talks, the
Commonwealth has been exposed as largely powerless to act.
At a meeting in London this week, CMAG snubbed Straw by ignoring his appeal
to suspend Zimbabwe from Commonwealth councils, preferring instead to deliver
yet another verbal slap on the wrist.
The European Union
Much is made these days of the EU's common foreign
and security policy - but Zimbabwe has demonstrated that such a joint policy
exists in theory more than in practice.
Last year, Mugabe was received at the European commission in Brussels and
by President Jacques Chirac of France, much to Britain's disgust. Earlier this
week, EU foreign ministers finally agreed to impose collective sanctions if
Mugabe did not allow elections monitors to enter the country.
But the sanctions relate only to foreign travel and assets held abroad by
Zimbabwe's ruling elite - and they have had plenty of time to forestall and
minimise their impact. Even if enacted, the sanctions will make no difference to
the conduct of the polls.
President Thabo Mbeki has in theory the most to lose if
Zimbabwe implodes into civil war, with resulting mass movements southwards of
hungry refugees. Yet despite Zimbabwe's huge debts to South Africa and his
country's control of Zimbabwe's power supplies, Mbeki has consistently failed to
exert decisive pressure on Mugabe.
Although the two leaders are said not to like each other, Mbeki appears
loath to put the squeeze on a man who was once an icon of the African liberation
movements. In similar vein, neighbouring countries of the Southern Africa
Development Community have proved to be both toothless and divided when it comes
to bringing Mugabe into line.
The United States
Over the years the US has spent millions of dollars in
aid to encourage developing country democracies, including Zimbabwe. But as a
recent Carnegie Endowment study points out, progress has been painfully slow. In
Zimbabwe, the process has clearly gone into reverse.
But other than some sharp remarks by secretary of state Colin Powell during
a recent visit to South Africa, and apart from threatening sanctions similar to
those envisaged by the EU, the US has also been forced to look on impotently.
The United Nations
No effective pressure has been brought to bear on
Mugabe via the UN, even though it is the UN's World Food Programme that may have
to pick up the pieces if, as expected, food shortages following the farm
seizures become endemic. The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, who hails from
West Africa and has championed good governance in the continent, has good reason
Looked at all round, it is a sorry record of failure. And even if, somehow,
the damsel on the railway line springs free from her shackles at the last moment
and the "good guys" win the day, Zimbabwe over the past two years has become a
memorable object lesson.
The lesson is that when it comes to taking on a canny, stubborn and
ruthless old autocrat like Bob Mugabe, the "international community" is still
more of a diplomatic concept than an active force for change.
Election race kicks off in Zimbabwe with opposition crying
Zimbabwe, Jan. 31 — Zimbabwe's presidential race officially began Thursday, and
the main opposition candidate accused President Robert Mugabe's supporters of
impeding his campaigners and blocking media access.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence in 1980, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai both registered
Thursday to contest the March 9-10 vote.
Officials said Mugabe,
77, will hold his first two campaign rallies Friday. His moves against the
opposition and white farmers have generated international criticism and he is
now fighting for his political survival.
As he filed his registration in a
Harare court, Tsvangirai said militants from the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front were acting to stop opposition campaigning in the
countryside. He also complained that the opposition has no access to the
dominant state media, including the sole television and radio broadcaster.
''This is not in the spirit of
maintaining law and order and a spirit of free campaigning,'' he said.
Tsvangirai said repressive security
laws passed earlier this month were being used by police to hinder his party's
campaigning, and opposition officials were warned not to allow chanting of
slogans or display of party posters at a rally scheduled Sunday or face arrest.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who
filed Mugabe's nomination papers at the same court denied any ruling party
militants were active. ''There are no militias. You are putting out false
information just to mislead the international community,'' he told Tsvangirai.
Mugabe has accused the opposition of
receiving the support of foreign countries and the country's small minority of
whites, who ruled the nation, then known as Rhodesia, before independence.
He said the ruling party would
''overcome attempts by Britain, the European Union, the United States and white
Rhodesians who want to install (their chosen) government,'' he said.
Foreign ministers of the 14-nation
Southern African Development Community were in Harare for a two-day meeting to
review progress made after Mugabe had assured them that nearly two years of
political violence had been curtailed and the polls would be free and fair.
Later Thursday, lawmakers were
scheduled to debate revisions of a sweeping media bill critics say is aimed at
muzzling independent journalists before the elections.
Riot police arrested three journalists
outside Parliament Wednesday during a demonstration protesting the bill.
The three were released and told to
report to police Thursday to face possible charges under the Public Order and
Security Act that became law Jan. 18 and gave police sweeping powers of search
The government's proposed
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill has met rare opposition
both inside and outside Parliament.
proposed measures would give the government broad powers to license journalists,
register media organizations and impose severe penalties for infringements.
Zimbabwe has come under intense
international pressure to ensure free elections and restore the rule of law
after nearly two years of chaos and violent seizures of white-owned farms.
The European Union and the United
States are proposing targeted sanctions against government leaders.
Head to head: Zimbabwe and the
Amid a Commonwealth split over possible suspension of
Zimbabwe from the organisation, BBC News Online presents opposing viewpoints
from Mompati Merafhe, Botswana's Foreign Minister and chairman of the
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), and Glenys Kinnock, a UK member of
the European parliament.
Botswana's Foreign Minister and CMAG chairman Mompati Merafhe
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group
is of the considered view that the international community, including the
Commonwealth, should remain constructively engaged with the Government of
The intention is to secure an amicable resolution to the problems faced by
the country for the good of the people of Zimbabwe.
The forthcoming presidential elections offer an opportunity for the
international community to support and encourage the government and people of
Zimbabwe in the task of building an atmosphere in which there will be a free and
fair electoral process.
Yesterday's meeting of CMAG was unanimous in this understanding.
UK's MEP Glenys Kinnock
Now it is time for African leaders to -
at last - break ranks with President Mugabe. The sensitivities of a tyrannical
regime should not be as important as responding to the suffering of the people
of the country, which has been brought to economic ruin and is tragically
beleaguered by state-sponsored repression.
The world's perception of the whole African continent is tainted as people
watch Zimbabwe's descent into a situation which makes the prospect of a fair and
open election difficult to imagine.
They think it is typical, whereas in reality there is so much that is
hopeful, positive and optimistic in Africa.
African governments are naturally and understandably loyal to those who
played such an important part in the liberation struggle.
However, they also know, especially as they work to implement their new
Africa initiative, that this is a defining moment in history. It is a moment
which should not be lost.
Too much is at stake when the values of democracy and social justice are
being challenged on their own doorsteps.
Many African leaders, and their people, have heroically spent their lives
fighting for freedom, tolerance and the right to vote.
That is why they, and other Commonwealth leaders, should now join with those
who believe that expressing concern is simply not enough.
Zimbabweans made to practice voting for
January 30 2002 at 09:10PM
By Basildon Peta (The
Harare - Fears have deepened that Zimbabwe's upcoming presidential
election will be far from free and fair.
This follows the arrest of more journalists and the apparent distribution
of fake ballot papers in parts of the country.
Police arrested three journalists and dispersed others gathered outside
parliament to protest against a bill that will suppress press freedom.
And the ruling Zanu-PF party scaled new lows in its election campaign
as officials allegedly assaulted citizens who did not put their mark next to
President Robert Mugabe's slot on unauthorised ballot papers that party
officials were distributing in rural areas.
Several people said the ballots were not copies for practice purposes,
but were genuine.
The ballots were not destroyed afterwards, but were neatly
packed into boxes, raising fears that they will be used to rig the election on
March 9 and 10.
In Harare, the passage of a media bill, which has raised an international
chorus of outrage, was postponed yet again as the government gave notice it
intended to introduce a third amendment today.
The three arrested reporters - Foster Dongozi and Rhodah Mashavare of the
privately owned Daily News and Cornelius Nduna of The Standard - were still in
custody at the time of going to press.
They were protesting against the government's sustained attempts to ram
the media bill through parliament despite a report against it by the
Zanu-PF-dominated parliamentary legal committee.
The journalists marched to parliament with placards saying "We agree
with Zvobgo", in reference to the chairman of the committee, MP Eddison Zvobgo,
who has dismissed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill as
Zvobgo said the media bill would give frightening powers
to the government to control the media. He described it as the most calculated
and determined assault on the freedoms of Zimbabweans since independence from
Britain in 1980.
A number of MPs from within Zanu-PF oppose the media bill, saying it would
tarnish the image of the ruling party if passed.
Electoral Supervisory Commission chairman Sobuza Gula-Ndebele promised to
probe the alleged ballot-rigging. Zanu-PF said the claims were a bid to
discredit the party. - Independent Foreign Service