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Tsvangirai vows to press on with Zimbabwe election campaign

The Telegraph

By Our Foreign Staff
Last Updated: 6:57PM BST 20/06/2008
Zimbabwe's opposition party has vowed to continue campaigning for next
week's presidential election despite a mounting tide of violence and
pressure to pull out.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, has come under pressure from his own supporters to pull
out of the presidential election with Robert Mugabe.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said there was "a huge avalanche of calls and
pressure from supporters across the country, especially in the rural areas,
not to accept to be participants in this charade".

However, the party later vowed to continue, saying "withdrawing will not
solve anything".

Mr Tsvangirai sent an email statement to supporters urging them to vote on
June 27 to sweep away the Mugabe regime.

The comments came amid mounting violence against the MDC ahead of the
election, with the wives of leading activists murdered, the imprisonment of
party members and intimidation and beating of its supporters.

At least 70 opposition activists have been killed by Zanu-PF militia and
security forces and thousands of others have been beaten and harassed, the
MDC says.

Mr Mugabe's regime blame the opposition for the bloodshed, and say his
opponent is a stooge waiting to return Zimbabwe back to its former colonial
power Britain.

Mr Mugabe vowed yesterday that he will not leave power until all land in
Zimbabwe is controlled by the majority black population.

"Once I am sure this legacy [of returning land to the black population] is
truly in your hands, people are empowered ... then I can say: Aha, the work
is done," the Herald newspaper reported him as saying.

"I walk on this land. I farm on this land. I sleep on it... That is truly
our number one legacy."

Mr Mugabe made the comments at two rallies in the Matabeleland North
province in the country's west.

He has previously warned he was ready to fight to keep the opposition out of
power, and he repeated earlier statements about veterans of the 1970s
liberation war.

"The war veterans came to me and said: 'President, we can never accept that
our country, which we won through the barrel of a gun, be taken merely by an
'x' made by a ballpoint pen'."

"If I take a handful of sand from the ground like this, to me that is my
treasure, it's from my land," he said. "It's not from Britain. It's
Zimbabwean soil."

He added: "What kind of people would we be to say the country should return
into the hands of the British? We would reduce ourselves to be the laughing
stock of the whole of Africa."


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Tsvangirai mulls abandoning run-off

Christian Today

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2008, 19:34 (BST)

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is considering whether to
pull out of the June 27 presidential run-off election, fearing it will be a
charade, a spokesman said on Friday.

A growing number of African nations, the United States and former colonial
power Britain have said they do not believe the poll would be free and fair
because of violence that the opposition blames on veteran President Robert
Mugabe.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change says at least 70 of its
supporters have been killed since he defeated Mugabe in a March 29 vote but
fell short of the outright majority needed to avoid a run-off, according to
official figures.

"There is a huge avalanche of calls and pressure from supporters across the
country, especially in the rural areas, not to accept to be participants in
this charade," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters.

Chamisa said the MDC would decide on Monday whether to contest the poll,
with divisions among party officials on whether to consider dropping out.

"I have no knowledge of any instance of us pulling out of this race. And I
would know," South Africa-based MDC Treasurer-General Roy Bennett told E
News.

Mugabe, 84, is fighting to cling onto power in the country he has ruled
since independence in 1980. Once prosperous, its economy is now ruined and
millions of Zimbabweans have fled the political and economic crisis to
neighbouring states.

Police chief Augustine Chihuri said 390 opposition supporters and 156
members of the ruling ZANU-PF party had been arrested over violence since
the first round of voting.

"It is without doubt that between the two political parties . the MDC is the
main culprit," Chihuri said.

Tsvangirai has been detained five times while campaigning.

A magistrate on Friday rejected the MDC's bid to win the release of its
secretary-general, Tendai Biti, held on treason charges that could carry the
death penalty. He was ordered to remain behind bars until July 7, although
the High Court is due to hear an application for bail on Tuesday.

EU THREAT

European Union leaders issued a new threat of further sanctions on Zimbabwe
over the election violence. The EU has an arms embargo on Zimbabwe as well
as visa bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and other officials.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "I think we have to remind President
Mugabe and the Zimbabwean regime that the eyes of the world are on what is
happening in that country."

But Dimitrij Rupel, the foreign minister of EU presidency holder Slovenia,
conceded the bloc could do little.

Observers from Western countries have been barred. The 14-nation Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) is sending 380 monitors to Zimbabwe for
the vote.

SADC ministers responsible for peace and security said on Thursday they
doubted the election would be free, signalling growing impatience on the
continent with Mugabe.

Kenya said in a statement on Friday anything less than a free and fair
election would be unacceptable and "an affront" to the evolving democratic
culture in Africa.

State media said Mugabe had told a campaign rally he planned to stay in
power until he was sure his programmes of seizing white-owned farms to give
to landless blacks was irreversible.

"Once I am sure this legacy is truly in your hands, people are empowered .
then I can say: Aha, the work is now done," the Herald quoted Mugabe as
saying. He brands his opponents as stooges of the West.

Mugabe's critics say the farm seizures have helped wreck the economy. He
blames Western sanctions. Inflation is over 165,000 percent, unemployment
stands at 80 percent and Zimbabweans suffer shortages of food and fuel.

Zimbabwe's neighbours fear the consequences of total meltdown there and the
U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said it was already talking to them on contingency
plans in case a large number of Zimbabweans are forced to flee.

Despite the political crisis, London-listed investment group LonZim said it
remained bullish on prospects and that it planned to raise a further $60-100
million (30-50 million pounds) through a share sale to buy assets in
Zimbabwe.

"Our focus is to position ourselves for economic recovery," Chief Executive
Officer Geoffrey White told Reuters. "We believe it is the right time."


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MDC not contemplating pulling out of run-off - Bennett

politicsweb

Roy Bennett
20 June 2008

Statement by Movement for Democratic Change June 20 2008

Movement for Democratic Change Treasurer General, Mr Roy Bennett, said today
that the MDC is not contemplating pulling out of the imminent presidential
runoff.

Despite Mugabe's campaign of violence and intimidation that has targeted MDC
leadership, members, supporters and innocent Zimbabweans for the past eight
weeks, the MDC will not abandon the mandate given to the party by the people
of Zimbabwe.

"Pulling out of the elections now would be giving in to a violent dictator
who is prepared to wage war on his own people to stay in power," Mr Bennett
said from Johannesburg.

"The MDC will continue to resist this oppression through our commitment to
democratic change and abiding by the will of the people. It is encouraging
that a good number of African leaders are coming out to condemn the violence
and harassment of the people of Zimbabwe", he added.

Commenting on rumours that a deal is being negotiated between the MDC and
Zanu PF Mr Bennett said, "The MDC is not aware of any such negotiation or
agreement. The MDC's position is that the people spoke on the 29th of March
2008. The MDC won and is the ruling party. There is only one way forward; if
Mugabe wants to cancel the election, he must concede defeat, and President
Tsvangirai must be inaugurated as the new President of Zimbabwe. President
Tsvangirai would then form an inclusive Government of National Healing,
which will include progressive people in ZANU PF. The MDC fully appreciates
the need to incorporate ZANU PF in facilitating a smooth transition. At the
moment, although under extremely difficult conditions, the MDC is fully
geared for the 27th of June election and we will finish the Mugabe regime"


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EU leaders threaten further sanctions against Zimbabwe, Sudan

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: June 20, 2008

BRUSSELS, Belgium: European Union leaders threatened to target authorities
in Zimbabwe and Sudan with more sanctions Friday, but there was little
indication that the growing international indignation would bring an early
end to the violence gripping both African nations.

An EU summit demanded an end to violence in Zimbabwe where there are reports
of a wave of attacks on opponents of President Robert Mugabe, who faces a
run off election to stay in power next week.

"Mugabe's increasingly desperate and isolated regime has unleashed still
more violence," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a news conference.
"This is a brazen and obscene abuse of power by a criminal cabal."

The 27 EU leaders threatened Sudan with sanctions if it does not cooperate
fully with the United Nations and the International Criminal Court by
handing over Darfur war crimes suspects.

Sudan does not recognize the Hague-based court and has refused to hand over
a government minister accused of atrocities and a militia leader facing
charges of murder, rape and forced expulsions in the Darfur region, where a
long, bloody conflict has killed more than 200,000 people.

The leaders warned of "additional measures" against both countries - meaning
sanctions.
Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not
authorized to speak to the media, said the EU was considering widening
existing lists of officials from both countries subject to an asset freeze
and ban on travel ban to EU nations.

European Union nations already have in place an arms embargo against
Zimbabwe, in addition to a suspension of development aid and an assets
freeze and travel ban against Mugabe and 125 other top government officials
introduced in 2002 over human rights violations.

Sudan also has an EU arms embargo and several Sudanese officials are subject
to similar banking and travel restraints in Europe since 2005.

However, the sanctions have been criticized as ineffectual. Mugabe has been
allowed to travel to Europe to attend international conferences, most
recently a U.N. food summit in Rome this month. There is little sign that
the sanctions have curbed violence in either country.

The EU has resisted calls from the U.S. for wider economic sanctions against
Sudan over violence in the western province of Darfur. EU officials say they
could hurt local people and undermine efforts to negotiate a solution. They
also say sanctions could be ineffective since Sudan has increasingly
developed economic ties with China and other Asian nations less critical of
its human rights record.

Ali Sadiq, Sudan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the country has survived
similar measures by other countries for more than a decade. He said his
country would not cooperate with the International Criminal Court because it
was serving the interests of Sudan's enemies.

"We are not part of the ICC ... and we are not going to be subjected to its
rulings," Sadiq told The Associated Press on Friday in Khartoum.

In Zimbabwe, the EU called for the African Union and the Southern African
Development Community to "deploy a significant number of election monitors
as soon as possible and to ensure their continued presence until the
electoral process is completed and results officially declared," the text
says.

Mugabe has sought to restrict the presence of international observers before
the June 27 election where he faces a run off against opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, whose Movement for Democratic Change says more than 60 of
its activists have been killed in recent weeks.

Tsvangirai's party has had rallies banned and campaign stops blocked by
police. It has had little access to state media and the party's deputy
leader has been arrested.

Fighting between breakaway tribes in Darfur and Sudan's Arab-dominated
government erupted in 2003 and has killed more than 200,000 people. Sudan's
government denies Western charges it unleashing a militia of Arab nomads
against civilians.

The EU has sent 3,700 troops to help protect 300,000 Sudanese refugees in
Chad and the Central African Republic.

___

Associated Press Writers Constant Brand in Brussels and Sarah El Deeb in
Khartoum contributed to this report.


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'Only God' can oust me, Mugabe declares, as rivals waver

Yahoo News

by Fanuel Jongwe 33 minutes ago

HARARE (AFP) - President Robert Mugabe said Friday that "only God" could
remove him from office, as Zimbabwe's opposition considered pulling out of
next week's run-off election amid escalating violence.

"The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country -- never ever," Mugabe
told local business people in Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo, referring to
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

"Only God who appointed me will remove me -- not the MDC, not the British."

Mugabe -- in power since independence from Britain in 1980 -- has frequently
accused his presidential run-off opponent Morgan Tsvangirai of being a
stooge of the former colonial power.

Later Friday, at a rally in Bulawayo, Mugabe said: "We will never allow an
event like an election reverse our independence, our sovereignty, our sweat
and all that we fought for ... all that our comrades died fighting for."

The MDC plans to meet Sunday to consider whether to contest the June 27
vote, with the party claiming that around 70 of its supporters have been
killed since the first round of voting in March.

"In the light of the violence and intimidation, we will make a position
whether we still feel the people's will will be realised, whether it's
conducive to go into an election," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP.

There were signs the party was deeply split on the issue, with other MDC
officials contradicting Chamisa and vowing to press ahead.

Pulling out would likely mean handing victory to Mugabe, who is defying
harsh criticism from abroad.

Western powers and human rights groups say the election has been tainted by
violence and intimidation, while Tsvangirai alleges that Zimbabwe now is run
by what is essentially a "military junta".

"The people have been subjected to violence and intimidation which are so
blatant and they are disappointed that we are not having access to the
electorate," Innocent Gonese, the MDC's secretary for legal affairs, told
AFP.

"People are saying despite all that we should not withdraw and we also
believe withdrawing will not solve anything."

Asked about the possibility of pulling out of the election, MDC treasurer
general Roy Bennett told AFP in Johannesburg: "That's nonsense. There is no
such thing."

Mugabe has vowed the opposition will never come to power in his lifetime and
has pledged to fight to keep it from happening.

Referring to Mugabe's remarks, Chamisa said in comments published Friday in
the South African newspaper The Star: "What therefore is the point of this
election?"

"Why should we participate in it? Many of our members are now wondering and
want us to pull out."

Mugabe has threatened to arrest opposition leaders over the pre-election
violence, though the United Nations has said the president's supporters were
responsible for the bulk of it.

Zimbabwe's police chief Augustine Chihuri said Friday the MDC was the "main
culprit to the political violence that we are currently witnessing in the
country".

"As the country prepares for a presidential election run-off next week, all
necessary force will be applied on malcontents and perpetrators of
violence... This violence is aimed at intimidating people from voting and we
know it is in preparation of influencing the outcome of the election."

In a case the opposition describes as harassment, a court on Friday refused
to dismiss subversion and vote-rigging charges against MDC number-two Tendai
Biti, who if convicted faces a possible death sentence.

The magistrate ordered Biti held in prison until at least July 7.

Zimbabwe's attorney general refused to allow bail for Biti later in the day,
though his lawyer has appealed to the high court and a hearing has been set
for Tuesday.

Biti, the MDC's secretary general, was arrested on June 12 minutes after
arriving back in Zimbabwe following a long stay in South Africa. He has been
held in prison since then and was officially charged on Thursday.

A harsh critic of Mugabe, Biti faces a total of four charges including
subverting the government, election rigging and "projecting the president as
an evil man."


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Independent Body Accuses Zimbabwe State Media of Hate Speech

VOA
 
 


20 June 2008

The independent Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe says the state media have embarked on a campaign of hate speech against the opponents of the government and ruling party.  VOA's Delia Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg the project says the message is akin to that disseminated by the Rwandan state media ahead of the 1994 genocide in that country.

A Zimbabwean reads a letter published by Zimbabwe's state media The Herald in Harare, 17 Apr 2008
A Zimbabwean reads a letter published by Zimbabwe's state media The Herald in Harare, 17 Apr 2008
The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe says that the public media in Zimbabwe has been transformed into purveyors of appalling hate messages against opponents of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

The Project's Advocacy Coordinator Abel Chikomo, tells VOA that in particular the media has been targeting the Movement for Democratic Change's presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai. He says such messages are reminiscent of the hate speech used in Rwanda prior to the 1994 genocide, and that their message is clear.

"Because the objective of such a policy is to damage the reputation of those being attacked to such an extent it creates the impression in the public mind that they no longer deserve the protections of basic human rights," said Chikomo.

In their most recent report, the project cites a number of examples of hate speech including statements by President Robert Mugabe that, in effect, voting for Tsvangirai would be a vote for war and that X's marked on ballots in an election were no match for guns.

Chikomo says such messages are especially chilling coming, as they do against the current backdrop of widespread torture, violence and murder in Zimbabwe. Humanitarian organizations say most of the violence is be perpetrated by ZANU-PF militia and members of the security forces. Chikomo says these messages encourage violence and create an environment of impunity for perpetrators.

"Those people [who are] aligned to the political opposition are being taken like lesser human beings than those who actually support the ruling party," he said. "And therefore they become legitimate targets of violence."

Currently all broadcast and almost all print media is state owned, leaving very little space for independent reporting and opinion. In a statement this week, the MDC said the party was being denied the opportunity to advertise. The party added this was in direct violation of Zimbabwe's electoral law and Southern Africa Development Community rules on free and fair elections.


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Will the MDC stay the course?

Mail and Guardian

20 June 2008 04:15

       Conflicting messages emerged on Friday from Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as the country's June 27
run-off presidential poll drew closer amid mounting violence and a court
ruling to keep the MDC's number-two leader behind bars for the vote.

      Innocent Gonese, the MDC's secretary for legal affairs, said the
party would press ahead with its election campaign.

      "The people have been subjected to violence and intimidation
which are so blatant and they are disappointed that we are not having access
to the electorate," he said. "People are saying despite all that we should
not withdraw, and we also believe withdrawing will not solve anything."

      Opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday
issued a message to supporters, urging them to vote to end President Robert
Mugabe's "evil" regime. "If we fall into despair or disarray, my friends,
the regime will have succeeded in its evil machinations to divide and
discourage us," he said in the message.

      Tsvangirai is seeking to topple Mugabe's 28-year rule in the
June 27 run-off election.

      However, another MDC spokesperson said Tsvangirai was
considering whether to pull out of the run-off election due to fears it
would be a charade.

       "There is a huge avalanche of calls and pressure from supporters
across the country, especially in the rural areas, not to accept to be
participants in this charade," Nelson Chamisa told Reuters. He said the MDC
would decide on Monday whether to contest the poll.

      Biti still in prison
      The opposition's comments came as a court refused to dismiss
subversion and vote-rigging charges against their party's number two, Tendai
Biti, who faces a possible death sentence if convicted.

      The magistrate ordered Biti held in prison until at least July
7 -- a date beyond the run-off vote. He could, however, still be granted
bail, with the Attorney General set to announce a decision on that issue
later on Friday.

      Biti, secretary general of the MDC, was arrested on June 12
minutes after arriving back in Zimbabwe following a long stay in South
Africa. He has been held in prison since then and was officially charged on
Thursday.

      A harsh critic of Mugabe, Biti faces a total of four charges
including subverting the government, election rigging and "projecting the
president as an evil man".

      The opposition has called the case against him part of a
campaign of harassment and intimidation ahead of the run-off, claiming that
about 70 of its supporters have been killed since the March 29 first-round
vote.

      Tsvangirai has faced major obstacles in seeking to campaign for
the run-off, with police barring rallies and detaining him five times.

      Mugabe has said he is ready to fight to keep the opposition from
coming to power, and state media reported on Friday that he has warned he
will not leave office until land is returned to the majority black
population.

      "Once I am sure this legacy [of returning land to the black
population] is truly in your hands, people are empowered ... then I can say,
'Aha, the work is done,'" Mugabe said in the Herald newspaper.

      He repeated earlier statements about veterans of the 1970s
liberation war. "The war veterans came to me and said, 'President, we can
never accept that our country, which we won through the barrel of a gun, be
taken merely by an "x" made by a ballpoint pen.""

      Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980, embarked on a
chaotic land-reform programme at the turn of the decade that saw about 4 000
white-owned farms expropriated by the state.

      He has repeatedly portrayed Tsvangirai as a stooge of former
colonial power Britain and returned to that theme in the report published in
the government mouthpiece. "What kind of people would we be to say the
country should return into the hands of the British? We would reduce
ourselves to be the laughing stock of the whole of Africa."

      EU criticism
      Conditions ahead of the run-off have drawn sharp international
criticism, and the European Union said on Friday it was ready to take
further action against those behind political violence in Zimbabwe.

      "The European Council reiterates its readiness to take
additional measures against those responsible for violence," the bloc said,
implicitly threatening further sanctions against Mugabe's regime.

      The European Commission, the EU's executive, is the biggest aid
donor to Zimbabwe, providing €90,7-million last year in humanitarian
assistance and other support to its population.

      In June 2007, the EU strengthened its 2002 sanctions slapped on
Mugabe's regime, citing repression of the opposition and repeated human
rights violations.

      Critics put much of the blame for the country's economic crisis
on Mugabe's land-reform programme, saying it saw some of the country's most
productive farms being handed to people with no previous farming experience
or ruling party cronies.

      Once seen as a potential regional breadbasket, the country's
economy is now in freefall with the world's highest inflation rate and major
food shortages. -- AFP, Reuters


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State Agents Hunt Down MDC Supporters Who Fled Rural Areas



SW Radio Africa (London)

20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

We have received disturbing reports from activists and MDC supporters who
were hounded out of their rural homelands and are living a life of hide and
seek, pursued by ZANU-PF agents.

One activist who fled from his rural home and is in hiding said state agents
are referring to the campaign as "Operation Tsuro ne gwenzi", meaning hunt
both the targets and those who shelter them. He said that he has not slept
in the same house twice in the last few weeks and has to leave very early in
the morning. Otherwise those who provided shelter will be victimized.

In the Mbare high-density area of Harare, the notorius Chipangano gang has
been terrorising innocent civilians. They have been evicting suspected MDC
supporters from council owned flats, telling them: "Go get accommodation
from your leader Tsvangirai, these flats are for ZANU-PF people." Local
residents said Chipangano members are looting furniture and household goods
from the evicted families, sometimes throwing everything out onto the
streets without warning.

The MDC activists from rural areas are fleeing to nearby towns where they
find it easier to hide in the crowded high-density areas. But now state
agents are victimizing their families and hunting them down in Harare,
Bulawayo and other urban areas.

In Murehwa, state-sponsored violence has hit most of the wards that were won
by the MDC in the March 29 elections. Our contacts once again implicated the
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, saying the Minister and ZANU-PF Senator
Bright Makonde are directing the operations from a base at Makonde complex.
Villagers from ward 8 in Musingwini village were beaten severely on Thursday
and accused of being MDC supporters. In wards 1 and 2 the parents of the MDC
Councillor Nyahada were attacked by youth militia. They are both recovering
at a local hospital.

Villagers were also assaulted in Kanyimo and Mazurura villages. Headman
Kanyimo, who is over 80 years old, was not spared. The perpetrators were
reported to be war veterans James Madhora, one nicknamed Bracho and Sariri,
who is an orderly at a local clinic. Another source who traveled through
several villages in Manicaland said he spoke to traditional leaders who had
been assaulted for failing to evict MDC supporters from their villages.

ZANU-PF has turned the entire country into a no-go area for the MDC.
Observers on the ground have witnessed some incidents and local
organizations are providing them with more documented evidence. But it's
clear that Zanu PF have now declared an all out war on the opposition.


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Biti Remanded in Custody to July 9



SW Radio Africa (London)

20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

Violet Gonda

Tendai Biti, the Secretary General of the Tsvangirai MDC, was on Friday
remanded in custody to July 9th by Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe. Biti is
being charged with treason for allegedly authoring a document said to
contain details of a plot to overthrow the Mugabe regime. He denies the
charges.

Biti is also facing separate charges under the Criminal Law Codification and
Reform Act for announcing that his party had won the March presidential and
parliamentary elections, before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced
the official result.

Biti was arrested last Thursday when he arrived at the Harare International
Airport from South Africa. He faces the death penalty for "subversion" if
found guilty. His lawyers report that he was assaulted during interrogation.

Thousands of political activists have been at the receiving end of the state
sponsored killings, beatings, and arrests ahead of the run-off election to
be held on the 27th of June.

The MDC says at least 70 of its members have been murdered with more than
200 still unaccounted for. Political figures currently in detention include
MDC MP Eric Matinenga plus rights activists Jennie Williams and Magodonga
Mahlangu, who have now been in custody for three weeks. Families of
perceived opponents are also being targeted. The latest family to be
attacked is that of Dr Lovemore Madhuku the NCA chairman. His family
homestead in Chipinge was burnt down and at least ten family members were
arrested, including Dr Madhuku's father on Tuesday.

An opposition leader, Arthur Mutambara, described the situation in Zimbabwe
as "electoral cleansing" as Mugabe makes it more and more impossible to have
a free and fair election. He said, "Robert Mugabe is prepared to remain in
power by any means necessary and at any cost. He is using murder, torture
and fraud to retain power in Zimbabwe. He is not prepared to negotiate and
discuss anything before the elections because right now he lost to Morgan
Tsvangirai in the first round and also he has lost his majority in
parliament so he wants to win the Presidency so he can control the
Presidency and the Senate so he can negotiate from that strength."

Meanwhile Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's leader, held separate meetings with
Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday. South African newspaper
Business Day reports that Mbeki urged Mugabe to cancel the run-off and
consider negotiations. But Mutambara believes this was now "too little too
late" and that it was no longer practical to cancel the run off.

He said African leaders should instead make it clear to Mugabe that he will
be totally isolated if he continues.


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Rigging Fears Heighten As Number of Observers Slashed



SW Radio Africa (London)

20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

Lance Guma

The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network says out of 8,800 local
monitors accredited to cover the March 29 poll, only 500 have been approved
to monitor the June 27 presidential run-off.

The deliberate cutback in numbers has heightened fears that Mugabe's regime
is planning to rig the upcoming election. ZESN submitted the names of 23 000
monitors to the Ministry of Justice but were told the presence of observers,
'disrupts the smooth flow of voting.' In an interview with the UK Financial
Times, Noel Kututwa, ZESN board chairperson said, 'the idea is to make it
impossible to do what we did (in the first round). It will be very difficult
but not impossible.'

After the first round vote ZESN director Rindai Chipfunde was arrested by
police as she arrived at Harare International Airport from abroad. Police
claimed they wanted to question her about the elections results collated by
her group. Since then several ZESN observers have been brutally murdered,
attacked and tortured. Various countries, including Tanzania, Swaziland and
Angola have come out to declare that the elections will never be free and
fair. Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, representing the 3
countries, said some of the observers in the country had seen two people
shot dead in front of them. 'We have told the Government of Zimbabwe to stop
the violence,' he said.

Meanwhile ANC President Jacob Zuma on Thursday told a Financial Times dinner
that the ANC will be sending observers as part of the 400-strong SADC
observer mission. 'Our contribution to this mission includes 14 Members of
Parliament and 15 other members,' Zuma said. He has already expressed doubts
the election will be free and fair.


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Former Allies Retract Their Support of Mugabe's Regime



SW Radio Africa (London)

ANALYSIS
20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

Alex Bell

With just a week to go until the crucial run off election on June 27, Robert
Mugabe, whose violent bid to remain in power has left more than 80 people
dead, now finds himself with few remaining allies.

SADC leaders have been at the centre of global criticism for their deafening
silence on the Zimbabwean crisis. But in the past few weeks, the number of
leaders condemning Mugabe and his ZANU PF party's actions has steadily
increased.

In a significant move, Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga called on the
international community to demand that Mugabe step down from power, calling
the run off vote a "sham". He said there was no chance of a free and fair
election and cited the ongoing beatings, arrests and the repeated detention
of MDC members.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua also condemned Mugabe for disregarding the
rule of the law and blasted him for his brutal treatment of the opposition
and his critics. He said that what is happening in Zimbabwe "is not in
conformity with the rule of the law. I do not subscribe to this."

Rwandan President Paul Kagame joined these former allies and heaped scorn on
Mugabe for vowing not to surrender power if beaten. In a news conference in
Kigali, Kagame blamed the failure by African leaders to address the problems
in Zimbabwe and added: "The whole thing is a joke. I am saying this because
of what is obviously a serious problem in Zimbabwe."

In the strongest regional condemnation yet of pre-poll violence perpetrated
by the regime, the Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe also came
forward and severed ties with Mugabe, saying the run off is unlikely to be
free or fair. This comment came after observer teams witnessed the cold
bloodied murder of two MDC activists. He said: "Of course, it scared most of
these observers to the extent that they had to pose the question of why are
we here then, and what are we doing?" Membe further said that President
Jakaya Kikwete was not supporting some tactics used by the Zimbabwe
government, despite good historical ties between the two countries. He said:
"Tanzania and Zimbabwe have historical good relations, we supported them
when implementing land reforms but we are saddened by the current events in
the country ... and do not support it".

Botswana's new president Ian Seretse Khama has also been critical of the
Mugabe regime. Khama recently summoned the Zimbabwean Ambassador in Gaborone
to protest the mounting violence and the arrests of opposition leaders
Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti.

The condemnation has finally reached global proportions, with world leaders
joining together to add their scorn to the growing number of anti - Mugabe
protestors. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the Zimbabwean government is
a "cabal of criminals" that threatened to make of mockery of the run off
poll. He also declared that Mugabe should not be allowed to steal the
election.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has also expressed his "profound alarm" at
the situation and said "Should these conditions continue to prevail, the
legitimacy of the election outcomes would be in question". At the same time,
US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice said: "It is time for the leaders of
Africa to say to President Mugabe that the people of Zimbabwe deserve a free
and fair election, that you cannot intimidate opponents, you cannot put
opponents in jail".

Rice said she hoped to "bring some international attention" to Zimbabwe when
she and her counterpart from Burkina Faso co-chaired "roundtable" talks on
Thursday at the UN Security Council, a meeting that her South African
counterpart, not surprisingly, failed to attend.

At this point, as Mugabe becomes further isolated from his African
neighbours, it seems South Africa in the form of its government and
President Thabo Mbeki, are the single remaining allies in Mugabe's circle.
Mbeki has only recently spoken out about the violence in Zimbabwe, but
failed to attribute its cause to his friend, Mugabe. He has also come under
increasing pressure to step down as appointed mediator in the crisis, a role
that has seen him again use his approach of "quiet diplomacy" to solve a
crisis that needs loud and immediate action.


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Mugabe makes pitch for Bulawayo voters, repeats war threats

New Zimbabwe

By Lindie Whiz
Last updated: 06/21/2008 17:51:12
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's "star rally" in Bulawayo turned into a monumental
flop on Friday when a paltry 2 000 people turned up at White City Stadium,
exactly a week before he faces MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai in a crucial
presidential election run-off.

Mugabe addressed relatively well-attended rallies in Matabeleland North and
South on Wednesday and Thursday, and should have fancied his chances in
Bulawayo, until he arrived at White City Stadium at 1445hrs to a tame
applause from a largely disinterested crowd.

For the first time in many months, local public transport operators were
supplied with diesel by the government at ridiculously low rates, and
ordered to display Mugabe's posters and ferry people to the venue of the
rally, but the trick failed to yield desired results.

Drivers were ordered to wear Mugabe's campaign T-Shirts, or else they would
not get the cheap fuel, which sells for as low as less than US$0.01 a litre,
against an open market price of US$2,50.

Dozens of 75-seater buses could be seen roaming the streets in the high
density suburbs, looking for people intending to go the rally, but could not
manage full loads.

Zanu PF militias and the police tried to make the crowd appear bigger by
ordering people off the grand stands and onto the White City lawn. They
prevented people irritated by Mugabe's late arrival from leaving the
stadium.

Undeterred by the low attendance, Mugabe was the usual orator, sounding more
of a history teacher than a presidential candidate. He lectured his
supporters about the war of liberation, the Lancaster House talks, land
invasions and the formation of the MDC.

Speaking mainly in Shona, Mugabe repeated his threat to go to war if
Tsvangirai defeats him on Friday, and said his war veterans were ready for
battle.

He attacked Tsvangirai saying he was a "school drop out" who did not deserve
to president of a country like Zimbabwe.

"I am not even sure he passed Form Two (Junior Certificate). a country like
Zimbabwe to be lead by a man like him? Chitototo (he is a fool)!" Mugabe
said to wild cheers from the crowd which included dozens of pro-Zanu PF
college and university students from an association formed recently.

Mugabe said the June 27 run-off was a "history vote," and pleaded with the
people of Bulawayo - who traditionally vote the opposition - to back him.

"This is a history vote. You dare not make a mistake. Don't' vote against
yourself. Siyekele ukuzibulala (let's not kill ourselves)," he said.

Mugabe said a mark on the ballot could not defeat guns, repeating his threat
of war if he lost.

"The X must follow the gun. Xs should not defeat guns," he charged.

Mugabe slammed Britain and her western allies as "damn liars" for saying
there was no rule of law and democracy in Zimbabwe in a drive to mobilise
international opinion against him.

Mugabe said he was only aware of a "few" cases of Zanu PF supporters whose
homes and property had been burnt by MDC supporters, a charge the MDC
denies. Instead, the MDC says at least 70 of its supporters have been killed
by Mugabe's shock troops since the March 29 general elections which failed
to yield a clear winner between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, forcing a run-off.


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Eyewitness: Raped for opposing Mugabe

BBC
 
Friday, 20 June 2008 10:19 UK
 

Ruling party supporters in rural Zimbabwe

By Poterai Bakwa
Mashonaland West province, Zimbabwe

Twenty three-year-old Zimbabwean Maidei [not her real name] struggled to talk about her ordeal at the hands of Zimbabwe's ruling party youths who were keeping her captive.

Nearby the Zanu-PF base in rural Mashonaland West province, she told me about how she had been raped and abused for two weeks.

It was against my will and he did not use any protection
Maidei

"I was taken hostage by Zanu-PF youths who are being led by a major and war veteran," she said.

"One of them said I had to renounce my allegiance to opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"I had to give in to his demands as he said I could be beaten.

"It was against my will and he did not use any protection."

Our interview was made possible at the shopping centre near the base by a well-known businessman with connections to the ruling party in the area.

He had been providing the militia with beer and had met Maidei when she had been sent to the shops to collect it.

When we arrived with three crates of beer, Maidei was again despatched to fetch it.

As she quietly told us her story, she nervously kept an eye out for her abusers.

She said she was not able to make a bid to escape as the men knew where her family lived - about three kilometres from the base.

Zanu-PF heartland

Before the first round of the election in March, Maidei, like many other young people fed up with Zimbabwe's economic crisis, was not afraid to make her support for the opposition known.

A woman looks after two children in a makeshift open-air camp in Zimbabwe
An estimated 25,000 people have been displaced in post-poll violence

In Mashonaland West, President Robert Mugabe's home province, the MDC made inroads into the Zanu-PF heartland, snatching five parliamentary seats from the ruling party.

In the weeks after the election, Zanu-PF bases mushroomed across the province, where opposition sympathisers were targeted for "re-education".

On the 13 April, Tapiwa Mugwandarikwa was stabbed to death in the province by suspected ruling party supporters - one of the first of an estimated 70 opposition members to be murdered in the post-poll violence countrywide.

Travelling in the area was dangerous - at business centres along the road - every 20km or so - we were searched and needed clearance to continue.

Fortunately my contact smoothed the path and we occasionally gave money for the young men to buy beer.

Rural victims

As the country heads for a second round of a presidential election on 27 June, the MDC says Maidei's case is not unique.

MDC Information Director Luke Tambironyoka says more than 500 women and girls have been sexually abused and raped in the political violence gripping the country.

Betty Makoni
These abuses should leave politicians' hanging their heads in shame
Betty Makoni
Girl Child Network

"We are still yet to establish the exact figure as some cases are still yet to be reported officially," he says.

"Furthermore, the majority of the victims are in the outlaying remote rural areas and where they are in hiding fearing for their lives."

According to Maidei, the abuse tends to happen at night-time vigils, called "pungwes".

These are gatherings held in the open where people are forced to sing revolutionary songs to prove their loyalty to the ruling party.

Many residents in the area are made to attend, including girls as young as 16 where, if they catch a commander's eye, they are kept at the base until the militia leave the area.

Maidei said she was more vulnerable in such a situation as she was a widow - her husband died of TB three years ago, leaving her with two children.

A local Zanu-PF official explained to me that the pungwes, used during the war of independence, were still necessary as "political re-orientation" exercises to warn people "against the opposition which is backed by the West".

Asked about the allegations that men were raping women and girls forcibly at the meetings, he replied matter-of-factly: "We have to share in comradeship as we have the same aim to get rid of the opposition here."

He confirmed that the young and beautiful women were often identified at the meetings and made to stay on with the group leaders.

Surprise

His reply glossed over the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/Aids which has wreaked havoc in Zimbabwe.

A ruling party rally in Shamva, Zimbabwe
The ruling party has been campaigning vigorously across the country

Life expectancy has plunged to 37 years from 60 years in 1990, largely due to the HIV/Aids pandemic.

According to a male nurse based in Chinyoi, many of the feared war veterans active in the area during the 2000 elections have died as a result of the virus.

"In Mashonaland West, a notorious gang of war veterans has lost its five main leaders to HIV and Aids-related illness as they raped women during their reign of terror then," said the nurse, who asked not to be named.

Betty Makoni, who works for the non-governmental organisation Girl Child Network, says the scale of the rape and abuse in the last few months has taken aid workers by surprise.

The run-up to the March vote was relatively peaceful, with the MDC being able to campaign in rural areas.

"We have been caught unaware by this political crisis where women and girls are being abused and raped in the areas the ruling party has sealed off," she says, adding that the situation is a disgrace.

"These abuses should leave politicians hanging their heads in shame for not assisting their own mothers and sisters as is the norm in African culture.

I am living in fear
Maidei

Ms Makoni would probably have agreed with the recent UN Security Council resolution which has classified rape as a weapon of war.

"Is it the quest of power that you abuse a woman of your mother's age," she told me.

The Zanu-PF bases which operated for about six to eight weeks in Mashonaland West have now been dismantled, as urban areas become their focus.

Whilst captive, Maidei said that she felt her parents were safe from attack.

Asked whether she would report the rapes when released, she said it would depend on the political landscape after the elections.

"I am living in fear," she said.

The reporter's name has been changed for his own protection


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One million will flee Zim - US envoy

IOL

      Hans Pienaar
    June 20 2008 at 10:46AM

About 1-million Zimbabweans will flee to neighbouring countries, no
matter what the outcome of the June 27 run-off poll, according to the US
ambassador to Harare.

James McGee was addressing the Centre for International Political
Studies at the University of Pretoria on Thursday.

The mass exodus will be prompted by the "planned stealing" of the
election by President Robert Mugabe and the food shortages. Whereas food
insecurity "normally" only set in by August, he expected "severe" insecurity
to begin by the end of the month.

"Zimbabwe's harvest, devastated by the government's disastrous land
policies, will once again reach record lows this year," McGee said.

Compounding this was the government's decision "to suspend operations
by NGOs, including those providing humanitarian assistance".

Saying he was tired of being diplomatic, he said there was a direct
link between the Zimbabwe crisis and the recent xenophobic attacks in South
Africa. He believed the South African government wasn't ready to cope with a
new wave of refugees.

McGee's warnings echoed those of Elinor Sisulu of the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition at Wits University. A second wave of refugees will follow
that created by Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, which she said was at the
root of the attacks.

McGee said Mugabe's government was "the root of all evil" in southern
Africa. It had turned freedom fighters into lawless tyrants and was
undermining all progress in the region. The absence of agricultural products
alone was sustaining the region's food crisis.

Asked about the South African government's stance that there was no
regional threat, and that Zimbabwe therefore did not belong on the agenda of
the UN Security Council, McGee said "that is a view we don't share".

He added: "One only has to look at the Great Lakes region to see the
devastating consequences of the mass migration of people fleeing political
violence."

This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on
June 20, 2008


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Mugabe troops use rape as weapon

The Telegraph

By Graeme Jenkins in Mutare
Last Updated: 7:05PM BST 20/06/2008
It was night when the soldiers came for Erica Okama. By the time they
released her seven hours later she had been savagely beaten and raped by 10
uniformed men.

First around 30 troops surrounded her simple home, some of them climbing
over the walls and leaping inside in a commando-style assault.
Then they started to beat her three sons, all of them in their 20s, until
she emerged from the bedroom where she had sought refuge and told them:
"Leave my kids, it's me who is participating in the MDC so leave my kids."

Mrs Okama is an activist with Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change in Manicaland, a Shona-speaking province around 200 miles south-east
of Harare, on the border with Mozambique.

Once a stronghold of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, 20 of the 26
MPs it elected in parliamentary polls in March were from the MDC, and its
people have since borne the brunt of the carnage unleashed in an effort to
return Mr Mugabe to power by teaching Zimbabweans the consequences of voting
the "wrong" way.

But the ordeal suffered by Mrs Okama - whose real name cannot be published
for her own safety - ranks among the most horrific in the thousands of
beatings handed out.

She was ordered into a car, driven a short distance, dragged out of the
vehicle and thrown to the ground.

"I was left with no decision," she said. "I started to think, 'I'm dying
now'.

"They raped me. There were 10 of them, all soldiers. They were beating me at
the same time because I'm trying to refuse."

Her voice dropped to a whisper and she paused to wipe tears from her eyes.
"One baby of Zanu-PF," they said as they brutalised her body. "They took a
gun and put it to my head. They said: 'We will kill you. After this we are
going to throw you in the dam'."

All 10 took turns to rape her. Asked how long the assaults lasted, she said
simply "I don't know," and sobbed quietly.

"They started laughing and taking photos. They do what they want. And they
beat me. They beat me with sticks, clubs, their feet and they kicked me."

Over and over again, they demanded she tell them where MDC MPs were hiding
out, but she refused.

"I was scared. I thought they were going to kill me."

Finally the soldiers - she does not know their unit - took her to police.

"When I got to the police station they threw a bullet to me, they said,
'Kiss that bullet'. I kissed that bullet. They said, 'This is your death.
You will not vote because we will kill you before the election because you
are a troublemaker. You are selling the country to white men so we want to
kill you'."

And effectively, they may have done so even without shooting her or beating
the life out of her. She was kept in police cells for four days, then at a
remand prison for another three, as the authorities claimed she had thrown
stones at officers and blocked a road, before admitting there was no case to
answer.

It was more than a week before she received medical treatment and the
anti-retrovirals that rape victims should be given within 72 hours to reduce
the risk of HIV infection. Aids is rampaging through Zimbabwe's population,
reducing life expectancy to less than 40 years, and the likelihood is that
Mrs Okama has been given a potential death sentence.

But her determination to see Mr Mugabe removed from office is undiminished,
even fiercer now.

"Some men surrounded my house to look for a woman," she said. "It's
shameless. They make me hate Mugabe so much.

"I'm angry. They can do anything but I can go on. They have baptised me in
the MDC to make me strong. They baptised me to MDC. Before I was a
churchgoer but now I'm a full member. I want to see a result.

"We want change and we will fight for change. They said, 'Come back to
Zanu-PF'. I said 'Over my dead body'."

Mrs Okama, a vegetable seller in her 40s, tried to file a complaint with the
police but they refused to take it. "Our hands are tied," they told her.

Pishai Muchauraya, 34, one of the MDC MPs elected in Manicaland three months
ago, and who sleeps at a different location every night, said: "We have got
the beating of people, the raping of people, the murdering of people and the
maiming of people."

He named four constituencies where he said rapes had taken place, and added
that more than 10,000 people have been displaced in Manicaland alone by
Zanu-PF's youth militia, war veterans, the police and army, making it
difficult for them to cast their votes in the presidential run-off on June
27.

"We have got some homes that were burned, we have got kids as young as five
being raped by very old people who in some cases take turns to rape these
girls. Last week alone five people were killed, and those are the reported
cases," he said.

"That's what's taking place here. We don't have the atmosphere of an
election. I tell you, it's hell here."

President Mugabe says the MDC is responsible for the violence in Zimbabwe
and has ordered police to use "all necessary force" against opposition
activists.


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Election death toll in Zimbabwe now 85,say doctors

Monsters and Critics

Jun 20, 2008, 17:18 GMT

Harare - A total of 85 people have been confirmed killed in the last 11
weeks of violence in the campaign for Zimbabwe's June 27 run-off
presidential election, according to independent doctors involved in treating
victims.

Fourteen victims were confirmed dead yesterday, the worst day since the
campaign of brutal subjugation began immediately after the first round of
elections on March 29, according to the list.

The last four were killed in a single incident in Chitungwiza, a sprawling
dormitory township, 30 kilometres south of Harare, on Wednesday. They were
seized during an attack on the home of a councillor of the Movement for
Democratic Change there.

Their bodies showed smashed skulls and two of them had been mutilated and
dumped in the bush, south of Harare.

All 85 have been confirmed dead either by doctors who had seen their bodies
or from post mortem reports. 'This figure is by no means a full
representation,' said one doctor who requested anonymity.

'There are many who were buried by their families without being taken to a
hospital. There are also many who have disappeared and have not been
accounted for.'

Observers say that the brutality in this election is the worst in Zimbabwe's
history since independence in 1980 as 84-year-old Mugabe fights to reverse a
parliamentary defeat in March when Tsvangirai won more votes than the
elderly dictator in the presidential ballot.

The list showed only two fatalities were members of ZANU(PF), in contrast to
constantly repeated assertions in the state propaganda media that the MDC
has 'unleashed an orgy of violence.'

At least 21 of the killings bore the marks of murder squad operations, with
the victims disappearing after being abducted, and their bodies being found
sometimes up to a week later, badly decomposed.

Five of the murders on the list were attributed to soldiers and three of the
victims had been shot in cold blood. Most of the others were victims of
indiscriminate, savage assault by members of Mugabe's militias of war
veterans and youths, the latter almost entirely uneducated, jobless rural
young men.

In one of the killings, Temba Mironde was forced to swallow rat poison. When
he survived, young militia men hacked him to death with an axe. Ratidzai
Dzenga was pregnant when she was assaulted at length by young militia men.
She miscarried and bled to death.

Analysts say that despite the deployment early this week of African
observers, violence has continued to escalate. 'The latest thing that we are
having to treat is people who have been forced to walk through fire,' said a
doctor who requested anonymity.

On Tuesday, said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional
Assembly and a veteran political rights campaigner, ZANU(PF) war veterans
and youth descended on his family's village in the south-eastern district of
Chipinge and burnt down the homes of 20 families, including that of his
father, Luckson.

Police claimed that incidents of violence were declining ahead of the
election.

'We are not aware of any of those murders,' said chief superintendent Oliver
Mandipaka, referring to the four young men murdered in Chitungwiza, as well
as that of Abigail Chiroto, 27, wife of the informally elected mayor of
Harare, whose blindfolded body was found on Tuesday.

All the bodies were identified in hospital morgues by relatives.


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Zimbabwe election: Your stories

BBC
 
Friday, 20 June 2008 16:14 UK
 

People stand in front of a poster of President Mugabe's campaign on June 9, 2008 in the Zimbabwean capital Harare.

With just days to go before the second round of the presidential election in Zimbabwe, violence seems to be escalating.

Reports of intimidation against opposition supporters have included severe beatings, murders and sexual violence.

But Zanu-PF, the ruling party of President Mugabe, denies these reports, blaming the violence instead on the opposition MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

In the first round in March, which was relatively peaceful, Morgan Tsvangirai gained about 120,000 more votes than Robert Mugabe but still not enough to avoid a run-off, according to official results.

BBC website readers in Zimbabwe tell of their recent experiences as the vote approaches. Their names have been changed to protect their identity.


As I write this message police officers are queuing to vote using postal votes. There is no way one can vote for Morgan Tsvangirai because seated on the voting table in Masvingo is the senior commissioner flanked by the assistant commissioners. They tell you 'vote for our father Mugabe' and show you where to put your X. Even police officers who were not registered voters were registered after the 29 March elections. I was surprised to see my name and many more others appearing and giving me a constituency. Observers should visit centres where postal ballots are cast because this is rigging at its best. Please let the world know about this forced postal voting.
Tendai, Masvingo

I am a student in my final year of university but I wonder if I will finish my degree. There are rumours of a war breaking out regardless of which party wins. My uncle, who resides in a small town called Chiredzi, fled the country and is now in exile in South Africa. My neighbour who was an independent candidate for the House of Assembly is also in exile. Many people in my parents' social circles have also left for S Africa. But my dad is being stubborn and refuses to go into hiding. What kind of a country is this? There is such greed and such cruelty. I do not see our nation ever being truly independent as long as Mugabe or his party is in power. They are doing exactly what the regime of Ian Smith regime used to do. This kind of oppression is worse because it is brother against brother.
Kennedy, Chiredzi

I am very disturbed by the situation in my country. What we need is divine intervention because we tried our best by voting for the president we wanted, but now we are being killed, harassed and tortured for exercising our rights. The world should condemn Mr Mugabe and his government for taking the people of Zimbabwe for granted. Only God knows what will happen next.
Chris, Harare

Against the background facing us especially in Masvingo province's Bikita district, it is inconceivable that the elections will be free and fair. Here a bloody reign of terror has been unleashed on us such that we have resorted to hiding in mountains and other areas for the sake of our security. There is maximum brutality here as Zanu-PF militias step up their whacking of the MDC supporters with the direct help of a few deployed soldiers and local Zanu-PF supporters.
Michael, Masvingo

This is a nightmare. If anyone were to call this environment conducive to free and fair elections, one must question their sanity. We had three people killed yesterday (one said to be the driver of the MDC MP elect) and now ZANU militia and soldiers have put up road blocks and if you don't show your support for Mugabe by chanting slogans, you will be severely beaten. They have even gone as far as stopping staff buses and beating up workers on their way to their jobs. Mugabe surely is the devil and these demon friends and supporters of his are ruthless! Powerless as we are, I feel we are heading towards a massacre like the one in 1985-7 and it's a big ask but the international community has to help us. We need help!
James, Kadoma

I live in an upmarket suburb of Harare and even here the Zanu-PF youths have moved in en-masse. They have taken over a piece of wasteland where they drink the local moonshine and smoke 'mbanje' before patrolling the streets, carrying hammers, pangas and other assorted weapons, insisting that any person going about their daily business go with them. After they've gathered up enough people (to refuse results in a sound beating) they take them back to the wasteland and make them sing patriotic songs and chant Zanu-PF slogans for hours. If you don't do this with enough enthusiasm you are threatened and beaten. People are terrified.
Jane, Harare

The violence just needs to stop. Zanu PF and MDC thugs have taken over and are abducting and killing each other at will. This is not an election, it's a murderous campaign of senseless killings which will achieve nothing. We are on the brink of absolute anarchy and we shudder to think whether we will be able to retrieve the country from where it is being taken to. God help us.
Farai, Harare

The whole thing has gone out of hand and without intervention we are sitting ducks waiting to be picked off one by one. The elections should not go ahead, they are an excuse for bloodshed. We have been summoned for a meeting in Seke, Unit M - we expect hell if we go but if we don't go its worse. From a town dominated by MDC less than a month ago to not even one opposition supporter in sight, we must be a bunch of spineless Africans. I'm scared for my family!!!
Joseph, Chitungwiza


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Misa-Zimbabwe Slams the State Media's MDC Ban



SW Radio Africa (London)

20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

Alex Bell

The Media Institute of Southern Africa in Zimbabwe (MISA-Zimbabwe) said in a
statement on Thursday it is concerned by the skewed coverage of the campaign
period leading up to next week's run off election, by the state media and
the national broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

The statement comes as the MDC announced this week it would launch an urgent
court action to appeal a state media ban on its campaign advertisements and
cover of the party in the run up to the crucial poll on June 27. The party
was informed by both the ZBC and the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers)
that the media groups were instructed not to accept opposition campaign
adverts or to report on the party's campaign.

The ZBC, as the state broadcaster and according to the Electoral Act, is
supposed to ensure that all political parties and candidates are invited to
present their election manifestoes and policies. The Act also states that
"advertising time between political parties and candidates should be
distributed equally".

MISA-Zimbabwe's statement said the ZBC has "blatantly and dismally failed to
fulfill its obligations of granting equal and equitable access to radio and
television to all the contesting parties in the crucial period preceding the
runoff and as obliged under the SADC Principles and Guidelines on the
Conduct of Democratic elections and the Zimbabwe Electoral Act."

The group said these electoral benchmarks have been totally ignored, with
the ZBC's election coverage openly skewed in favour of ZANU-PF, to the
exclusion of the MDC. MISA-Zimbabwe said this "throws into serious doubt the
freeness, fairness and evenness of the political playing field". It said the
only semblance of MDC coverage in state media has been "vilification through
news reports, documentaries and opinion pieces by columnists".

MISA-Zimbabwe's Nyasha Nyakunu told Newsreel on Friday that after the run
off elections it would need to "immediately relook at the structure of the
ZBC for the process of transforming it into a truly independent public
broadcaster".

Nyakunu commended the work of independent newspapers for working to give
both sides of the story as well as "projecting the messages and position of
both contesting parties, unlike the case with the total blackout of the
MDC's adverts in the state media".


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Msika Backtracks Over War Threats



SW Radio Africa (London)

20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

Vice-president Joseph Msika recently left Zanu-PF officials stunned when he
backtracked on his earlier threats to take up arms if Robert Mugabe lost the
presidential run-off against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Addressing Zanu-PF district officials in Kuwadzana, Msika downplayed threats
that he and Mugabe had made, that they would not accept defeat and would
rather go back to war.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us Msika was supposed to have
addressed a rally in Kuwadzana, but it was cancelled at the last minute due
to a poor turnout. He ended up just addressing party district officials.

Apparently annoyed by the poor turnout Msika said that if they couldn't
organise a rally how on earth could they successfully organise people to go
back into the bush.

Muchemwa said; 'In fact he suprised everyone at the meeting by asking why
war veterans wanted to go back to the bush.'

'Who are you going to fight. Who is the enemy because no one has threatened
us (government). Tsvangirai doesn't have an army, so by going back to war we
are actually going to be fighting our own people.'

Muchemwa said the vice-president's outburst left many in the audience
stunned, because a few days earlier he had used threatening war language at
a rally in Zaka, Masvingo province, where he had said that voting for the
MDC was akin to voting for war as 'trouble will start if whites take
advantage of that'.

The war threats have been denounced by various regional and world leaders,
with some Western countries considering taking further action against Mugabe
if he continues to threaten the outcome of the forthcoming poll.

The MDC has said the orgy of violence against its supporters has seen over
80 people killed and over 3000 hospitalized. Tsvangirai has in the last week
been detained several times and all his rallies have been cancelled by the
police.


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Two dead bodies by the roadside

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com

June 20, 2008

By Sibangani Sibanda

The other day, I drove past two dead men. It was a chilling reminder of how
the abnormal has become normal in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. They lay side by side
on a yet-to-be-completed second carriage way of the main southbound highway
out of Harare - some twenty kilometres out of town. Several police "details"
were milling around them looking as if they were not quite sure what to do.
Others watched in shocked silence from a distance.

I was shocked, not because there were two dead bodies on the side of a road
that I travel on quite regularly, but because of my own reaction. I did not
even stop. My companions in the car and I seemed to agree without saying a
word, that these were yet more victims of political violence and that our
stopping would achieve nothing. So we drove on, wondering how many more
would die before the so called run-off elections of June 27.

Our reaction was, of course, no different from the reactions of many of our
country persons. We have, for a long time, shrugged our shoulders to many
such goings on and Mr. Mugabe and his friends in Zanu-PF know this. That is
why, after they lost the elections in March, they decided on a strategy they
knew would work because of our indifference to the suffering of others. We
live it to the Morgan Tsvangirai's of this world to fight our battles, and
to those who are "foolish" enough to openly defy the powers that be. Is it
not because we left it to the few in the liberation movements to fight our
battles against the oppressive white governments that they now feel that
they earned the right to oppress us? Will we not, by letting the few suffer
on our behalf create a situation where they feel that the rest of the
country owes them for liberating us from the oppression of Robert Mugabe?

Over the last few weeks, we have seen Zanu-PF deploy youth into just about
every corner of Zimbabwe. They are organised into "bases" where they spend
their days singing the praises of Zanu-PF and generally harassing any of
their peers who have not joined them, and their nights paying visits to
purported opponents of Zanu-PF to teach them a lesson or two. Many of the
"lessons" result in the kind of thing that I witnessed on the side of the
road.

When the deployment started, many of us believed that by pretending to go
along, we would be safe. We could just pretend until June 27 when we would
show our true colours by voting for whom we wanted. That was naïve, at best.
Zanu-PF knows that they lost the elections in March and that, on a level
playing field, they will lose again. So they are going for our biggest
weakness, fear. And the results are, very quickly, manifesting themselves.

I have heard the reaction of someone who witnessed a beating. He was not
beaten himself, he just witnessed others being beaten. He now believes that
it would be better for Zanu-PF to be allowed to win so that those
perpetrating the violence can realise that they too will suffer along with
the rest of us, under a Zanu-PF government. In other words, the whole
country should suffer, now and for years to come so that those few can learn
a lesson!

The flaw with this logic is this. There is an endless supply of starry-eyed
youths who, at the age when they are willing to defy their parents or parent
figures, can be easily swayed into doing anything that proves their
superiority over their elders. By the time these youth that are killing us
today realise their folly, they will be of no use to Zanu-PF. Those that are
children today and do not understand what is going on now, will only be too
willing to take their places. Ask anyone who has been in the Zanu-PF youth
movement over the years.

Others believe that allowing Zanu-PF to win on June 27 will ensure
post-election peace as there will be no war. Is it not too high a price to
pay for peace? Do we pacify a marauding lion by giving it our children to
eat so that we have peace for a season? Are we not just teaching the lion
that if he roars a few times, we give him what he wants?

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to minimise the brutality of
Zanu-PF. I am as scared as the next man of being seen to go against this all
powerful foe. Yet when I think of what this country used to be and what it
can be again; when I think of the children who have grown up believing that
the Zanu-PF way is the only way; when I think of my children and what future
they do not have in this country, I find it unthinkable that anyone in their
right minds would want to see, for whatever reason, a Zanu-PF victory on
June 27.

There is a saying in Shona which goes thus: Kusiri kufa ndekupi? Its literal
translation would not mean much in English, but it can be loosely explained
as: Why fear the sudden threat of death when you were dying, anyway?


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Journalists feel the heat

HARARE, 20 June 2008 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean journalists and their families are coming under increasing pressure from security police and the military as the 27 June presidential election run-off vote draws closer.

Those reporters still working for the country's few remaining independent newspapers told IRIN that in the past two weeks there had been a noticeable increase in attacks against journalists as well as their families.

Freelance correspondent Tapiwa Zivira, who has exposed government corruption, recently documented the politically motivated murder of an opposition activist. Last week, soon after the story was published, his father was abducted by ZANU-PF supporters in Bindura, Mashonaland Central Province and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Zivira told IRIN in an interview that "As far as I know, my father has never taken an active interest in politics. I was told by those who witnessed the abduction that the ZANU-PF [the ruling party until the general election on 29 March] supporters who took him away accused him of being an MDC [Movement for Democratic Change] supporter."

He hopes his father will be found alive. After the interview with IRIN, Zivira left for the area - a ZANU-PF stronghold - to search for his father, but the pattern emerging from such abductions is that the person's body is usually found a few days later, often half-buried in a riverbed or hidden under bush scrub.

Speaking on condition that they were not identified, several journalists told IRIN that they were now being forced underground, fearing for their lives.

"I received a telephone call from a relative in the security services who told me that he had been going through a list of journalists who were supposed to be attacked. On the same list were members of the MDC and civic society activists. My relative advised me to relocate, and I have not been home since the beginning of the week," one independent reporter told IRIN.

''I received a telephone call from a relative in the security services who told me that he had been going through a list of journalists who were supposed to be attacked. On the same list were members of the MDC and civic society''
Another journalist working in the private media did the same after being warned by a relative serving in the army that he was on the wanted list. "I am staying with a relative where nobody is likely to look for me, in a military camp," he told IRIN.

With a week to go to the election, the body count of perceived MDC supporters murdered since March has reached 70, according to the party.

Pro-democracy campaigner Lovemore Madhuku told IRIN that the targeting of the media was expected. "ZANU-PF has decimated the active youth activists and recently shut down civic society, which concentrated on political and human rights." Madhuku's parents were recently attacked in their home at a village in the eastern part of the country by suspected ZANU-PF supporters.

"The only sector which remains and continues to expose their [ZANU-PF's] corruption and acts of brutality is the media, which has remained very active despite repressive laws regulating the media," he said.

The editor of The Standard, the country's only remaining independent Sunday newspaper, Davison Maruziva, has been hauled before the courts for publishing a letter written by an opposition politician. Media analysts say the stage is being set for the closure of its sister publication, The Zimbabwe Independent.

Matthew Takaona, president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, which represents the welfare of all journalists in the country, told IRIN that there was an "unsettling" upsurge of attacks on journalists and their families ahead of the election.

"We call on whoever is behind the attacks on journalists and their relatives to stop the exercise and allow them to conduct their business without interference. We are also worried after the arrests and detention of journalists since the last election in March."

Journalists seen as anti-government militia

A government deputy minister recently accused journalists of being "military commanders of the MDC". Media practitioners working for the state-controlled media appear to have no such worries.

The state-controlled daily, The Herald, routinely uses its opinion pages to insult and attack those perceived as being ZANU-PF detractors: in the 20 June edition of the newspaper, South Africa's first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, and anti-apartheid stalwart Archbishop Desmond Tutu were derided as house slaves and instruments of the West's bidding.

Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has routinely criticised Mugabe's "dictatorial ways".

Mugabe is also becoming increasingly isolated from his African peers. According to Angola's state radio, President Jose Dos Santos, one of Mugabe's staunchest defenders, rebuked the 84-year-old leader, telling him to "observe the spirit of tolerance, respect for difference and cease all forms of intimidation and political violence".



[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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Dar Warns Zimbabwe Over Violence in Poll



The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

20 June 2008
Posted to the web 20 June 2008

Orton Kiishweko
Dar es Salaam

Tanzania yesterday took a tough stand against Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe, casting doubt on whether the forthcoming run-off presidential
election will be free and fair.

In a strong indication that gone are the days when Zimbabwe took Tanzania's
support for granted, Dar es Salaam expressed concern about President
Mugabe's style, which it said could plunge the country into further chaos.

Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam, Foreign Affairs and International
Co-operation minister Bernard Membe said: "I want to tell you what I told
fellow Southern African Development Community (SADC) members. We have got
evidence that the elections will not be free and fair.

"We have told the Government of Zimbabwe to stop the violence. We have told
our observers not to be threatened, that they should do their work without
fear. People of Zimbabwe are being hurt and it pains us," Mr Membe said. He
was speaking on behalf of a peace and security troika of nations from the
Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Tanzania is also current chair of the African Union.

"Zimbabwe has been our great friend and we have stood by them since the
Lancaster agreement on land issues in 1980, but on governance issues we
cannot support what is going on in Zimbabwe today," he added.

Zimbabwe has enjoyed strong support from Tanzania dating back to early
1980s, when the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere supported
President Mugabe and Zanu-PF during the struggle for liberation. But recent
events in Zimbabwe seem to disturb even its closest allies, especially Mr
Mugabe's statements suggesting that he will retain his post at any cost.

For instance, with only seven days to go for the run-off, President Mugabe
has vowed to "go to war" to prevent the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
taking power. "We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for
it," he told a rally of cheering supporters.

The belligerent 84-year-old's comments came during a week in which, the
winner of the March 29 poll, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested
several times on the campaign trail, and his second-in-command, Mr Tendai
Biti, detained.

In what is likely to cripple MDC's campaigns, the Government has ordered
Zimbabweans to pull down satellite dishes so they do not watch foreign
television stations. This is meant to prevent them from seeing MDC election
adverts, expected to be aired from South Africa.

Free and fair election

Speaking about the next week's run-off, Minister Membe said there was
credible evidence that there won't be a free and fair election. Mr Membe
said their judgment on the conduct of the poll was based on evidence from
211 observers already in Zimbabwe.

SADC is sending 380 monitors to Zimbabwe for the poll, in which President
Mugabe faces the biggest challenge to his 28-year rule from Mr Tsvangirai.
Some of the observers saw two people shot dead before them on June 17, Mr
Membe said. He said this was the official stand of not only Tanzania but
also group of southern African ministers who met this week to analyse the
situation in Zimbabwe.

He, together with the foreign ministers of Swaziland and Angola, promised to
write to their presidents "so that they do something urgently so that we can
save Zimbabwe." Mr Mugabe is accused by opponents, Western countries and
human rights groups of orchestrating a campaign of killings and intimidation
to keep his hold on the once prosperous country. But its economy is now in
ruins.

The MDC says at least 70 of its supporters have been killed. Terror campaign
A senior Western diplomat, speaking in the region, said the violence was
spreading and had now taken on terror proportions. "It's time really that we
moved beyond calling this a campaign of violence. This is terror, plain and
simple.

This is a terror campaign that the joint operations command has launched
weeks ago, it's too well organised, it's too well focused, it's too
comprehensive, it's too completely political in its objectives to be
anything else," the diplomat said. He added that militias backing President
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party were now active in Harare.

"The atmosphere is violent. The violence is not abating; indeed it is
spreading to areas where it has not historically spread before," he added.
Additional reporting by Reuters


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Bad company spoils good morals!



God knows the difference between right and wrong, sadly Mr.Mbeki or anyone
else who suggests that a government of "national unity" is the only way
forward has completely lost touch with righteousness and truth.

This sad and ungodly situation in Zimbabwe has been allowed to flourish
because the lust for money and power has been allowed to continue unabated
and has seared the consciences' of the Zimbabwe leadership to such an extent
that God given human life is now a cheap throw away commodity.

The whole world is looking at Africa's leaders and wondering if there is
anyone left who has good Godly morals. How can any other African leader
suggest that "unity" can be achieved by fusing righteousness with
unrighteousness? It begs the question," what lawless deeds are accepted as
the norm in their own countries, and what are their values?" God's wisdom is
simple:" Unless two agree together they cannot walk together."

If Morgan Tsvangari were to accept that he should form a government with the
current "leadership" he would effectively be endorsing the sadistic and
murderous activities of ZANU -PF, sending a clear message to the world that
his values and aspirations are no different from those of Mr.Mugabe. What
hope can a devastated people derive from such an alliance? A different face
maybe, but ultimately more of the same.

It is high time, that Africa's leaders put their hands up and are counted
for righteousness.

As Gods says," If the people will humble themselves before Me and seek My
face, I will heal their land."

God Bless Zimbabwe.

Pastor G.James

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