|Mugabe opponents stage London vigil over troubled
A vigil has begun outside the Zimbabwe High Commission in London as polling
for the presidential elections in the country got under way.
Opponents of Robert Mugabe's regime were also casting symbolic votes in
protest at the African Government's refusal to allow Zimbabwean exiles the right
The vigil, organised by the Freedom for Zimbabwe Campaign, will see brief
speeches being made later in the day alongside political songs and dances.
Crimson Tazvinzwa, 29, an exiled journalist from Zimbabwe, said: "This
campaign is organising demonstrations and vigils based on the call for free and
fair elections and for press freedom.
"I was harassed and threatened by Mugabe's intelligence while working as a
journalist. It has been very difficult for the last three years for most
journalists. Some of them have been threatened, some have been killed in the
He said the war veterans were against the independent press because of the
coverage of how they had taken over farms in Zimbabwe.
Mr Tazvinzwa said he had to leave his two brothers, sister and parents behind
He said: "I have been trying to telephone them but I could not get through to
anyone. I think they have relocated for this week until the election is over. I
don't know where they are for now."
Violence has been reported throughout Zimbabwe in the run-up to the country's
President Mugabe has been accused of attempting to rig the votes and many
foreign journalists have been banned from the country.
Story filed: 09:41 Saturday 9th March 2002
Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 05:51 GMT
UK Zimbabweans protest at
Robert Mugabe is accused of
Zimbabweans living in Britain are holding a protest at what
they say is a denial of their right to vote in this weekend's elections.
Zimbabwe has begun the most fiercely contested presidential elections since
independence from Britain in 1980.
There are serious concerns about how the election is being run, with claims
of "massive intimidation", ballot-rigging and gerrymandering by the incumbent
president, Robert Mugabe, and his followers.
Many of those living in the UK have not been given the
right to a postal vote.
We want to show the people that are in Zimbabwe, and going to
vote, that we are with them
They will hold a vigil outside Zimbabwe's High Commission in London on
Saturday, at which they will fill in symbolic postal votes and place them in a
giant ballot box.
A spokesman for the vigil said those attending "are only a few of the
hundreds of thousands" who should be voting but who have been barred from doing
He said they were being prevented "by blatant rigging of the voters' roll and
other means, including the arbitrary withdrawal of citizenship", in what he
called a "parody of an election".
'Keep focus on'
Hilton Mendelsohn has lived in Britain for three years and said not being
able to take part in the voting procedure was unfair but not surprising.
"I've never thought this election would be free or fair," he said.
He said the organisers of the vigil were hoping to keep
the world focused on Zimbabwe, "so that hopefully we can get a condemnation of a
"Hundreds of thousands" have been denied a
"What we also want to do is show the people that are in Zimbabwe, and going
to vote, that we are with them."
Officials estimate there are about 40,000 British nationals in Zimbabwe, of
whom about 25,000 have registered with the British High Commission.
In recent months there have been reports that ministers in London have drawn
up plans to evacuate British passport-holders, should the country dissolve into
violent chaos in the wake of the elections.
However, the Foreign Office has played down such reports, saying it has
emergency evacuation plans for most countries as part of routine procedures.
MEP Glenys Kinnock warned on Friday that the international community must be
ready to respond decisively if the election is judged to have been rigged.
Mrs Kinnock, co-president of the EU-African Caribbean
Pacific joint parliamentary assembly, said: "The EU must continue to make it
clear that this election will determine the future of Zimbabwe and the whole of
the southern Africa region.
Violence has been reported across the
"When the polls close, the international community must be clear and swift in
its response should the legitimacy of the process be in question."
A Mugabe victory could possibly split the Commonwealth if a consensus on
expelling Zimbabwe is not reached.
Earlier this week its heads of government decided to set up a committee to
decide what action to take against Zimbabwe after the elections, if Commonwealth
observers find them to have been rigged.
The summit opted to set up the committee rather than back UK Prime Minister
Tony Blair's argument for Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from the Commonwealth,
in the run-up to the ballot.
Police confiscate IDs from Dzivaresekwa
3/9/02 9:54:11 AM (GMT +2)
About six policemen in Dzivaresekwa, Harare, yesterday morning
confiscated identity cards from some bus passengers travelling to
in a move that is seen as aimed at depriving them of their right to
the presidential election today and tomorrow.
In order to
vote, people are required to produce either a national identity
driver’s licence with a national identity number, or a passport.
Matunya, who alleged that his ID card had been taken, said: “The
stopped our Sagombeto Motors bus at around 6.30am and demanded that
produce ID cards. They then took some of them, saying that we would get
on Monday, after the election.”
Matunya, who seemed to be at a loss as to
what action to take to retrieve
his card, said the move was a clear bid to
deprive perceived opposition MDC
supporters from voting in the presidential
election today and tomorrow.
The MDC draws most of its support from the
Some bus conductors at the Dzivaresekwa bus terminus in the
that police officers had been stopping commuter buses at the
crossing and asking for identity cards.
No comment could be
obtained from Dzivaresekwa police. Wayne Bvudzijena, the
has since last year routinely refused to respond to The
Beatrice, about 55km south of Harare, Zanu PF activists who are said to
camped near the police station were alleged to be demanding and
identity cards from the locals.
A caller from the town yesterday said the
police were not doing anything
A police officer at Beatrice
would neither confirm nor deny that this was
He said the
officer-in-charge, who was the only one who could comment, was
out of town
because of the election.
Masaiti assaulted at police station
3/9/02 9:50:42 AM
From Brian Mangwende in Mutare
Evelyn Masaiti the MP
for Mutasa was on Thursday severely assaulted by a
group of soldiers at Ruda
police station near Hauna growth point in Honde
Valley as she investigated a
case in which 10 MDC polling agents were
Masaiti, an MDC
election agent, said she sustained bruises to her body.
“Soldiers stopped me
as I was driving to our command centre in Mangwana
village and demanded my
identity card, which I gladly gave them. They
immediately arrested my driver
because he is from Mutare and bundled him
into the truck to take him to Ruda
police station. I followed them to the
police station and upon arrival, they
started beating me up. I identified
myself as the MP for the area but they
would not listen.
They only stopped after another soldier ordered them
to, warning them their
action was going to tarnish the image of the
The police had arrested the 10 MDC polling agents at St Martin’s
School, Mutasa district, where they had gathered to wait to be deployed
their leaders. They were allegedly tear-gassed while they were in the
A policeman at the station who refused to be named
confirmed the arrests,
and Masaiti’s assault but refused to give
He said: “We arrested the polling agents but I cannot release
now because the officers who detained them are not here at
Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC spokesman in Manicaland, said the
were detained at Ruda police station for contravening a
section of the
Public Order and Security Act.
Mutare lawyer, Arnold
Tsunga was also arrested and held at the same police
station for two and half
hours. Apparently he had gone there to represent
the arrested MDC polling
The MDC provincial chairman for Manicaland, Timothy Mubhawu said
agents of his party had been assaulted while two party vehicles
impounded in Rusitu and Bumba.
Polls Open In Zimbabwe Presidential Race
Saturday March 9, 2002
The world must be ready to respond decisively if Zimbabwe's
election is judged to have been rigged, MEP Glenys Kinnock
Voting in the former British colony is taking place on Saturday
with counting starting on Monday.
Mrs Kinnock says it is
vital for the international community to be ready to
react if malpractice
turns out to have been widespread.
The result is expected late Tuesday or
on Wednesday, depending on the
Most observers believe
President Robert Mugabe's opponent, former union
leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
would win if the election was free and fair.
But Mugabe's Zanu-PF party
has been accused of gerrymandering, intimidation
and ballot rigging in an bid
to cling on to power.
Two weeks ago, Tsvangirai was charged with treason
in connection with an
alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe.
victory would leave his nation isolated, and possibly split the
if a consensus on expelling Zimbabwe is not reached.
Mrs Kinnock, the
co-president of the EU-African Caribbean Pacific joint
assembly, is due to visit Zimbabwe from Wednesday to Friday
She said: "When the polls close, the international community must
and swift in its response should the legitimacy of the process be
question. The key now is to be prepared."
Stuffed ballot boxes found as Mugabe begins stealing
THE discovery of ballot boxes stuffed with votes for Robert
out of a police car involved in a crash gave the last day of
Zimbabwe's presidential election an almost comic
But few of the country's 5,607,812 registered voters were
laughing as they
prepared to go to the polls today after an election campaign
that will be
remembered as one of Africa's most murderous and
Forty polling agents for the opposition have been
arrested, electoral rules
favourable to the government have been re-imposed -
despite being deemed
unconstitutional by the courts - and a shambolic voters'
roll was found to
place up to half of the electorate outside their
The number of polling stations has been halved in urban
areas, which support
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and
increased in rural
areas where the ruling Zanu-PF is supported. Tens of
thousands will be
unable to vote.
So cruel were the mobs unleashed
by Mr Mugabe to bring voters in line that
one man was beaten to death by
supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party simply
because his house had
decorative mud hand-prints on the walls.
An open hand is the emblem
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
and this was enough to cost
James Sibanda his life. The mob never stopped to
ask his political
affiliation. He was a lifelong supporter of Mr Mugabe.
groups estimate that around 40 people have died since the
Opposition members believe the number is at least double
sad truth is that no one will ever know the exact number of
Bodies will continue to be found for years to come in shallow
dumped out in the bush.
Huge tracts of Zimbabwe have
become no-go areas for normal traffic. Towns
such as Nkayi and Tsholotsho
were judged by Mr Mugabe's cronies to be
disloyal and were subjected to
The Zimbabwean army, trained partly by the
British and combat-proven in the
war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was
judged not to be sufficiently
loyal for the job after some grumbling from the
grassroots that perhaps a
change of leader might not be such a bad
So for the past seven months mobs of "youth militia" have been
the swollen ranks of Zimbabwe's unemployed, given a pocket full
money and trained in the dark arts of stealing
At camps dotted all over the country these louts have not
only been taught
Zanu-PF party songs. They have learned how to beat people
bruises, how to half-drown people in buckets of water and the
way to use fear as a political tool.
road leading to Nkayi has been blocked by checkpoints run by
for weeks. Cars are routinely stoned or stolen. Ownership of
membership card or even a copy of the independent Daily Newspaper can
to a death sentence.
Two elderly white farmers, John and Margaret
Sankey, who had sent their
workers' identity cards to Bulawayo to prevent
them being confiscated -
which would rob the workers of their votes - were
shot at as they drove to
One human rights lawyer estimated
that 40,000 crimes had been committed
during the campaign.
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai - the only challenger to Mr Mugabe for
presidency - held a rally among workers in an industrial area of Harare.
accused the President of destroying his people, and urged people to
despite "massive intimidation". The Daily Telegraph,
Tim Butcher in Bulawayo
From The Guardian (UK), 9
Voters blame the leader who can't
feed his country
Matopos, Matabeleland - Robert Mugabe has warned the people of
Matabeleland that a vote against him in this weekend's presidential election
will bring 'fire' to their homes. Residents of the blighted region in southern
Zimbabwe have good reason to fear conflict. Thousands of Ndebele were murdered
by Mr Mugabe's army two decades ago for failing to submit to the domination of
the ruling Zanu PF. But war is no longer the worst imaginable calamity.
Matabeleland's people are living with a more immediate threat - hunger. Drought
has withered crops and the upheaval of the land invasions has left shops bare of
maize and cooking oil, crucial ingredients in the Zimbabwean diet. It is no way
to go into an election, particularly as many in the region hold Mr Mugabe
personally responsible for their empty bellies. "People are hungry. That's what
really matters," said Washington Saensole, a former high court judge who is now
one of Mr Mugabe's sharpest critics in Matabeleland. "Mugabe wants to make out
he is strong with his threats but people see that this is a president who does
not even have the capacity to get food to people when they are hungry."
At a small church in Matopos, the congregation feels threatened
both by the lack of food and by the political terror visited upon them. But
while the violence is sporadic, the hunger is always there. People at the church
say 'sadza' - the staple made from maize – has disappeared from their diet. Many
have only one meal a day. "The president came here recently. He didn't bring
food," said LK Dube. "We have had to kill our goats for something to eat or sell
them to buy food. But you can only kill them once. We blame the president
because he has the power." The anger has been compounded by profiteering. With
the shop shelves bare of maize, an illegal trade has sprung up at double the
official price. It is usually run by ruling party members and is a source of
bitterness in the church.
Mr Mugabe has boosted attendance at his rallies in the region
with wholesale food distributions. People began queuing hours before the
meetings in Bulawayo and Beitbridge with plastic bags and buckets in hand in
expectation of a gift of maize. Most were not disappointed, but it is unlikely
to win their votes. Intimidation has risen sharply in recent weeks in an effort
to scare the Ndebele into supporting the president, even though they have
consistently voted against Zanu PF for more than two decades. The ruling party's
militia has rampaged through the region, burning villages and torturing overt
opposition supporters. Mr Mugabe's henchmen have threatened collective
retribution on those villages that do not support the president. In the church,
no one actually says who is bringing the terror. The identities are implicit and
unspoken until a girl, about 12 years old, pipes up. "It's Zanu PF. They are
forcing people to buy party cards or they beat you," she says. Mr Saensole
believes the intimidation will not work. "I detect a mood of determination," he
said. "There's a consensus here that Mugabe has to go."
From The Guardian (UK), 9
Opposition relies on huge turnout to
end Mugabe era
Zimbabwe's voters go to the polls
amid fears of vote-rigging and a military takeover
Harare - Robert Mugabe's two-year campaign of political terror
comes to a head today with a presidential election that will reveal whether
Zimbabwe's voters have been induced to perpetuate his 22-year rule. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change is banking on a massive turnout during
the two days of voting to produce such a decisive defeat for Mr Mugabe that
neither intimidation nor vote rigging can reverse it. But the ruling Zanu-PF is
hopeful that if voters have not been persuaded that the opposition is a front
for white recolonisation, then MDC supporters can be discouraged from going to
the polls or frightened into supporting the president. If that does not work,
the government has laid the ground for extensive fraud. The MDC candidate,
Morgan Tsvangirai, says Zanu PF has "crafted and implemented every imaginable
trick", to manipulate the election, but he believes he can still win. "The
electoral process has been blatantly and outrageously distorted in favour of the
ruling party," he said. "But the people will vote for change." Mr Mugabe says
the burning issue of the election is the 'war' for the land and the struggle to
prevent Britain recolonising Zimbabwe. His opponents say the vote is about the
right of Zimbabweans to choose another government. For many Zimbabweans, evident
excitement at the prospect of removing Mr Mugabe from power is tempered by fear
at what the coming week will bring. The opposition says that Zanu-PF is
preparing to escalate the violence if the president loses and there are
persistent warnings of a military coup.
Popular discontent with the government has risen sharply in
recent weeks because of widespread food shortages that are mostly the result of
Mr Mugabe's land policies compounded by drought. But the best indicator of the
president's unpopularity is the extent of his strategy to undermine the vote.
This weekend's ballot caps what amounts to a two-year campaign since Mr Mugabe
was forewarned of the looming challenge to his power by his defeat in a
constitutional referendum and the narrow victory of his party in parliamentary
elections in 2000. Zanu PF has been much better prepared for this ballot. The
populist campaign for land redistribution quickly evolved into a general
strategy of murder and terror aimed principally at the black population. More
than 120 people have been killed, and thousands tortured by "war veterans" and
ruling party militia. About 70,000 have been driven from their homes.
The violence has been supplemented with draconian laws to
curtail free speech, including a bar on 83 MDC election rallies. The opposition
is also banned from the airwaves. Hundreds of thousands of people have been
struck from the voters' roll, including Zimbabweans living abroad.
Administrative obstacles have been thrown up to keep young people from
registering because they are overwhelmingly against Mr Mugabe. The election
hinges on the size of the turnout, and whether people still think their vote is
secret. Independent analysts, such as Professor Masipula Sithole - a political
scientist at the University of Zimbabwe and author of the most recent opinion
poll - believe people will not be dissuaded from voting. "There's likely to be a
massive turnout. This is the big one that people have been preparing themselves
for since the 2000 referendum," he said.
Mr Tsvangirai can count on a healthy majority in the two main
cities - Harare and Bulawayo - which are home to more than one-in-five
registered voters. But the government is attempting to keep the opposition vote
down in urban areas by slashing the numbers of polling places in the cities. Mr
Tsvangirai should also be able to count on a sizeable majority in the two
provinces of Matabeleland, where Mr Mugabe is loathed for the mass slaughter his
army visited on the region two decades ago. Violence and intimidation have been
widespread there. In Bulawayo last week, eight Zanu PF supporters stoned a man
to death at a night-club after he could not produce a ruling party membership
card. Zanu PF militia have razed villages and Mr Mugabe has threatened another
war in the region if he loses. Zanu PF's militia has also been let loose in
Mashonaland to ensure support holds up in Mr Mugabe's traditional
The key to the entire election may lie with three provinces
that, statistically, are up for grabs - Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands. Mr
Mugabe has already suffered what looks to be a decisive blow in Masvingo, one of
Zimbabwe's most populous provinces. Its Zanu PF leader, Eddison Zvobgo - a
former cabinet minister - has effectively endorsed the opposition. Manicaland
and Midlands are a closer call but without decisive majorities in both, Mr
Mugabe will have difficulty offsetting the MDC's popularity. This raises the
spectre of rigging. The government has severely limited the numbers of
independent election monitors - accrediting just 300 local observers to monitor
4,700 polling booths. The military has taken effective control of the electoral
process, and party agents are for the first time prevented from staying with
ballot boxes. Last month, a police car which crashed was found to have ballot
boxes already stuffed with votes in its boot. On Tuesday, Mr Mugabe signed a
decree giving election officials sweeping powers to alter voters' rolls and
restrict monitors from scrutinising the vote. But Prof Sithole believes that
popular discontent with the government is so widespread if Mr Mugabe attempts to
cling to power in the face of overwhelming defeat he will face a popular revolt
"I believe it is essential that this is passed on to observers. How can it
possibly be construed that a sports meeting, held at a school where Leo,
Mugabe's own child is in attendance, be of a political nature. The fact that
police have also warned that an open hand sign, which is a legitimate political
symbol, is not allowed to be displayed is further indication, that people are
not allowed to express their opinions freely and fairly. It's a sad indictment
of our current predicament that war-veterans in the presence of police officers,
have informed the school that a neighbouring area close to the school is off
limits to all and sundry."
It would seem that in staging the annual "Three Woods" Cross Country
Meeting as per usual we rather misread the volatility of the political climate
of our times. Perhaps we should have realised that so many vehicles converging
on the school would arouse alarm and suspicion but it did not occur to us that
what was so very obviously a primary schools sporting occasion could be
construed as being anything else.
Certainly the C.I.O. officers who appeared upon the scene almost
immediately to demand to know from the Headmistress what was happening were
apparently suitably reassured by the presence of some 650 small athletes in
their running kit and left us to get on with the show.
One was somewhat surprised, therefore, by the arrival the following
afternoon of a mini-invasion force comprised of elements of Police, the Army,
the C.I.O. and the War Veterans Association.
The uniformed personnel were
both calm and disciplined and as even those who were less in control of their
faculties and emotions kept asking why we had removed our pupils from the
immediate premises when they meant them no harm, one felt that there was no
threat whatsoever to our little people.
What seemed to have provoked the visitation were allegations a) that MDC
youths who had been painting MDC slogans in the area had been seen running in to
the school grounds (as this had supposedly taken place whilst the "Three Woods"
was in full swing and there were multitudes everywhere one could hardly deny the
possibility) and b)
that spectators at the event had been making MDC signs
with their hands as they passed ZANU PF supporters on their ways home (again
something which might have happened ?)
However the accusers then rather overplayed their hands by insisting that
these incidents (which may or may not have taken place) proved beyond reasonable
doubt that the Cross-Country Meeting had just been an elaborate cover for a
political rally and then, further, that the cricket and tennis matches we had
been playing that morning had also been a ploy to disguise another such
The senior police officer who was conducting the interrogation was, one
sensed, not particularly impressed by this line of reasoning on the part of his
associates and eventually contented himself by issuing stern warnings to the
effect that for future reference, a) the local police must be forewarned of any
functions taking place at Lilfordia which would be likely to attract an adult
attendance, and b) that all visitors to the school must be specifically directed
not to wave to people on the roadside with open hands during the course of their
The lady spokesperson for the War Veterans added a final
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THE ROUTE TO THE SCHOOL VIA THE OLD KADOMA
ROAD AND PAST WHAT WAS PREVIOUSLY MR SAM LEVY'S ESTATE IS NOW A TOTAL "NO-GO"
|South African Airways suspends night flights to
Zimbabwe amid fears of election
South African Airways has temporarily halted its night flights to Zimbabwe
amid fears that violence could erupt there.
Citing safety concerns, the airline said the night flights would be suspended
until March 17.
South African Airways has 11 flights a week to the capital of Harare and to
the northwestern tourist center of Victoria Falls.
It flies three flights a week to the second city of Bulawayo.
Daytime flights to those cities will continue.
The Zimbabwean presidential elections have started and will continue through
the weekend. The run-up to the race has been marred by political violence.
President Robert Mugabe is fighting for his political survival against
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Unrest in Zimbabwe has been blamed for a slump in the South African economy.
Foreign investment has slowed down and the country's currency, the rand, has
lost more than a third of its value since the beginning of last year.
Sydney Morning Herald
Face of democracy in Zimbabwe
MDC election monitor Richard
Chidziva, centre, and two of his colleagues patched up in Harare after being
beaten by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF. Photo: AFP
By Tim Butcher in Bulawayo
Richard Chidziva was the bloody face of democracy in Zimbabwe
yesterday. The polling agent observer for the Movement for Democratic Change was
first abducted, then beaten and finally held captive by police in yet another
example of how the vote taking place this weekend is a long way from free.
On the ground, there was farce and chaos. The discovery of ballot boxes
stuffed with votes for Robert Mugabe spilling out of a police car involved in a
crash gave the last day of campaigning in Zimbabwe's presidential election an
almost comic air.
But few of the country's 5,607,812 registered voters were laughing as they
prepared to go to the polls after an election campaign that will be remembered
as one of Africa's most murderous and turbulent.
So cruel were the mobs unleashed by Mr Mugabe to bring voters in line that
one man was beaten to death by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party simply
because his house had decorative mud hand-prints on the walls. An open hand is
the emblem of the Opposition MDC and this was enough to cost James Sibanda his
life. The mob never stopped to ask his political affiliation. He was a lifelong
supporter of Mr Mugabe.
Human rights groups estimate that about 40 people have died since the
campaign began. Opposition members believe the number is at least double. The
sad truth is that no-one will ever know the exact number of
casualties.Bodies will continue to be found for years to come, half-buried
in shallow graves or dumped out in the bush. Huge tracts of Zimbabwe have become
no-go areas for normal traffic. Towns such as Nkayi and Tsholotsho were judged
by Mr Mugabe's cronies to be disloyal and were subjected to terror on a scale
that bears comparison with the Khmer Rouge. The Zimbabwean Army, trained partly
by the British and combat-hardened in the war in the Democratic Republic of
Congo, was judged not to be sufficiently loyal for the job after some grumbling
from the grassroots that perhaps a change of leader might not be such a bad
idea. So for the past seven months mobs of "youth militia" have been plucked
from the swollen ranks of Zimbabwe's unemployed, given a pocket full of spending
money and trained in the dark arts of stealing elections. At camps dotted all
over the country these louts have learnt how to beat people without leaving
bruises, how to half-drown people in buckets of water and the most effective way
to use fear as a political tool. Every approach road leading to Nkayi has been
blocked by checkpoints run by these militia for weeks. Cars are routinely stoned
or stolen. Ownership of an MDC membership card or even an old copy of the
independent Daily News paper can amount to a death sentence. Two elderly white
farmers, John and Margaret Sankey, who had sent their workers' identity cards to
Bulawayo to prevent them being confiscated - which would have robbed the workers
of their votes - were shot at repeatedly as they drove to town. One human rights
lawyer estimates that 40,000 crimes have been committed during the campaign. But
after endless intimidation of the opposition, blatant massaging of the electoral
roll and the subversion of the country's judges, perhaps the most sinister
feature of Zimbabwe is the way the police force has done nothing to uphold the
law. The look of blank unwillingness to help on the faces of police officers
when Zimbabweans, black or white, try to report a crime is perhaps the clearest
proof of how rotten Mr Mugabe's rule has become.
Bungled Conspiracy victim released
Gordon McCormack, illegalling detained in gaol for a week has been released and has returned by air to South Africa. Some of his belongings stored in a friends house in Kwekwe have been stolen during a looting raid on the property.
Other news from the same contact, that two homesteads in the Sebakwi area have been burnt to the ground by so-called war veterans.
Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 13:18 GMT
Undercover in Zimbabwe
Matabeleland has witnessed some of the worst crimes of
the Mugabe era
the BBC's Fergal Keane in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe |
If you didn't know what had happened there, you'd believe it to be the most
beautiful place in all of Africa.
But in Matabeleland even a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I am not at
all a superstitious person, but I have always found places where terrible things
have happened, seriously unsettling.
And if you have read the tour guide's brief history of Matabeleland you learn
enough to feel, well, at the least unsettled.
I was carrying a guide book. I was in Matabeleland as a tourist. I wore a
South African rugby jersey, a pair of bush shorts, a baseball cap and carried my
wildlife books in a rucksack.
I looked like one of those white Johannesburgers who raves about having a
mystical attachment to the bush, but who never ever succeeds in looking anything
other than a large, white man in Africa.
The disguise fooled the officials at passport control, though there was a
nervous moment when I was asked exactly what kind of work I did.
Close encounters with rhino
You may find this hard to believe, but lying does not automatically come easy
to a journalist.
I had to think quickly, and sought refuge in my favourite hobby.
"I am a fisheries expert," I said.
"What does that mean?" said the official.
"It means I try to stop foreigners stealing my country's fish," I replied.
At this the
official burst out laughing, stamped my passport and bid me on my way.
In a country in the grip of state paranoia, a tourist with a
camera and a notebook tends to stand out
The difficult thing about being a tourist who has a lot of journalistic work
to do is that you do have to go through the motions of being a tourist.
In a country in the grip of state paranoia, full of spies and government
lickspittles a tourist with a camera and a notebook tends to stand out.
So every day I and my colleagues did something touristy.
One morning the tour guide suggested we go and view some rhino in a game
We headed out in the warm, early sun, the glorious silence of the bush
punctuated by the endless chatter of two elderly Italian ladies seated in front.
I have a feeling they were the only genuine tourists in Zimbabwe.
We quickly came across some rhino munching happily in the thorn bush.
I was quite happy to observe this from the Landrover - the Italians wanted to
get up close and the guide reluctantly agreed to lead them into the bush.
I was shamed into following.
The problem was that the Italian ladies would not stop chattering. The guide
pleaded and for a few minutes the torrent subsided.
But then it resumed, and as it did the rhino caught our scent on the wind.
There was a fierce snorting from the other side of the bush, a loud rumble and
then the sound of huge animals galloping - away from us.
I pictured the headline: "BBC undercover man gored by rhino."
And then the thought of leaving hospital only to enter the tender care of Mr
Mugabe's security police.
Most of my time in Matabeleland was spent travelling, for I had come to
Matabeleland to investigate the worst crimes of the Robert Mugabe era -
atrocities committed nearly 20 years ago when Britain and the rest of western
countries believed he was a good thing for his nation, or at least if they
thought otherwise they were diplomatic enough to keep any doubts to themselves.
In January 1983 Robert Mugabe sent the North Korean
trained Fifth Brigade of his national army into Zimbabwe.
People in Matabeleland still fear what Mugabe's men
will do next
When they were withdrawn nearly two years later between 10,000 to 20,000
people were dead and an entire population traumatised.
It was a campaign of rape, torture and mass killing - Mugabe called his men
the Gukuruhundi: the storm that sweeps away the chaff.
In Bulawayo - the main town of Matabeleland - the memories of that terrible
period are undimmed.
And there is fear about what Mugabe's men may do next.
One morning as I was playing the tourist in the city centre, I encountered a
large group of young men carrying posters of Mugabe.
I smiled at them but they glowered back.
"Go away white man," said another.
I was on my way to the Roman Catholic cathedral to meet one of the bravest
men in Africa.
My secretary was worried that I might endanger myself, but I
have to speak out. How can you not speak out?
Archbishop Pius Ncube
Archbishop Pius Ncube has been campaigning on behalf of victims of the Fifth
Brigade for years, and he is hated by Robert Mugabe.
I asked him if he was worried about doing an interview.
"My secretary was worried that I might endanger myself, but I have to speak
out. How can you not speak out?" he said.
I have returned safely from Zimbabwe.
But Bishop Ncube is still there, still speaking out, still being threatened.
Whenever you are tempted to despair of Africa and its seemingly unending
miseries, think of the bishop with no other weapon but his courage.
Think of him and be comforted.
THE TURNOUT IS HUGE
Every person in the country that can vote is
Even those struck of the roll are in the queues to make their
The voting rate in some stations is 10 to 15 per hour!
in the high density suburbs are getting fractious at the
Riot police (heavily armed) are now being depolyed in
most high density
Taxis have been hired by Zanu PF to bring
militants in from the rural areas
to upset the queues
stations have closed.
14 farmers ferrying people to poling stations have been
TELEVISION A CAMPAIGN TOOL FOR ZANU PF
March 9th 2002
national public broadcaster, ZBC, has abused its public mandate
equitable coverage of contesting political candidates in a
like never before. According to preliminary findings of
the Media Monitoring
Project, ZBC television carried a total of 402 election
campaign stories* in
its news bulletins monitored between December 1st 2001
and March 7th, the
penultimate day of the election campaign. Of these, 339
of them (84%)
favoured ZANU PF's presidential candidate. Only 38 (or 9%)
activities, but virtually all of them were used to discredit the
party and its candidate. The 24 other reports gave publicity to
other candidates contesting the election. Preliminary findings
following the same pattern. Radio Zimbabwe, ZBC's most popular
carried a total of 275 campaign related stories in the news
monitored. A total of 237 of them (86%) were promotional stories
in favour of
ZANU PF, while 20 (7.3%) were all negative stories about the
The other 18 stories were for two of the other three
Statistics for Radio 3FM reflected almost exactly the
coverage of the two main presidential candidates. Notably,
ignored the independent candidate, Wilson Kumbula.
However, the most
damning statistic to emerge from MMPZ's work was the fact
that out of a total
of 14 hours and 25 minutes that ZBC television news
bulletins devoted to the
presidential election campaign, ZANU PF's candidate
was granted a total of 13
hours and 34 minutes, or a little more than 94%.
This compares to the
national broadcaster's TV coverage of the MDC and its
candidate, of just 31
minutes and 30 seconds, a paltry 4%. But even this was
subverted by ZBC,
which used the time to attack, denigrate and discredit the
MDC. All other
contesting presidential candidates were granted a total of 19
minutes and 30
seconds, or about 2% of the total news airtime devoted to
campaign coverage. Never before in the life of the Media
has ZTV's coverage been so grossly biased. In the 2000
referendum on the
constitution, the time ZTV devoted to current affairs
coverage in favour of
the government-appointed constitutional commission's
draft constitution ran
out at about 86%. In the parliamentary election that
year ZTV granted the
ruling party, ZANU PF, 92% of its airtime devoted to
campaigns. Although there was no political advertising
presidential candidates on ZBC throughout the campaign, ZTV
continuity breaks between its main evening news bulletins with
music promoting land and peasant farming that supported ZANU PF's
campaign policy. This footage constituted subliminal political
favour of the ZANU PF candidate and, together with images
from the Minister
of Information's musical video, Hondo yeMinda (War for the
the continuity sections of prime time television viewing.
MMPZ notes that the
airing of these images constitute a crude and
reprehensible attempt by the
broadcasting corporation's authorities to
indoctrinate television audiences
with ZANU PF propaganda and condemns such
unethical, dishonest practice. ZTV
also flighted numerous one-sided prime
time current affairs programmes
promoting government's land reforms.
However, MMPZ is still exploring the
prevalence of these.
ZBC television also grossly distorted the extent of
the nationwide campaign
of violence visited upon the population. Official
police statistics stated
that 14 deaths due to political violence had
occurred since the beginning of
the year. The Human Rights NGO Forum has
reported 31 up to February 28th.
However, ZTV only reported six deaths, five
of them alleged to be ruling
party supporters. And although the police were
reported on the national
broadcaster as saying there had been at least 250
cases of politically
motivated violence in the first 25 days of February
alone, ZTV reported just
25 (or 10%) of them. Such an appalling disparity
suggests that ZTV is
deliberately suppressing the truth about the extent and
politically motivated violence in this election campaign and
condemned for the distortion it represents.
MMPZ also condemns
the gross and undisguised bias on television in favour of
the ruling party,
especially during an election campaign, for the obvious
reason that it
deprives Zimbabweans of their fundamental rights to freedom
of expression and
the opportunity to make informed decisions. Such extreme
levels of distortion
in the coverage of the presidential election campaign,
demonstrates that the national public broadcasting corporation
become a propaganda tool of the ruling party. MMPZ therefore
calls upon the
authorities to put an immediate end to ZBC's
and discriminatory broadcasting activities,
to enact progressive legislation
that will immediately remove its oppressive
de facto monopoly over the
electronic media and place it under the full
control of a truly independent
broadcasting regulatory authority free from
the tyrannical control of
*In its classification of 'election campaign stories', MMPZ
held by presidential candidates, statements in which
candidates and their
party officials stated their party policies, civic
events that were hijacked
to campaign for any candidate, and stories where
reporters merely cited the
achievements of any party or their candidate.
This report was prepared and circulated by the Media
Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park,
Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web:
Feel free to
respond to MMPZ. We may not be able to respond to
everything, but we will
look at each message. Also, please feel to
circulate this message.
unsubscribe, send a request to email@example.com
Midday update release
Contrary to press statements quoting a
Zimbabwe Republic Police official,
THE ELEVEN MEN ARE STILL IN
A Lawyer has visited the police station and although
the Officer in charge
confirmed that the eleven men are in custody, he denied
the lawyer access.
The lawyer is from Mushonga and Associates, a Chinhoyi
The Officer in charge told the lawyer that he expected to
charge the eleven
for contravening the electoral act. He was unwilling to
As we have been denied access we are unable to provide
specific details but
have gleaned this information from initial calls made by
farmers calling for support. These calls were monitored on farm
network by other farmers in the district.
At present the
lawyer has obtained a letter from a medical specialist in
Harare. The letter
must be driven (85 km) to Chinhoyi for official stamping
at ZRP provincial
headquarters whereupon it will be taken (22km) to Banket
Police. We are
hopeful that compassion will prevail and Mr Geoff Kirkman
will be released.
He has recently undergone heart surgery and is
Reports from Mashonaland East and Midlands have
In Hwedza, on Chakadenga farm primary school ZANU
PF supporters arrived at
approximately 6 pm and began to trash the polling
booth and beat up workers.
(Exact number to be determined)
farm worker reported to the farm owner that the mob had told him that
were taking a farm guard to their torture chamber.
notified but are still to respond.
The poling station has since
been moved to Chop chop store a notorious war
vet base in the
Previous News release
Commercial Farmers Union)
Farmers have been assisting in driving
monitors to polling stations, as they
are familiar with rural areas.
Yesterday afternoon two farmers drove
monitors from Banket to Raffingora to
monitor the polling booths.
When at 6pm two farmers had not
reported back from Chininga polling station,
a group of farmers went down to
look for them and found that Zanu PF members
had abducted the two farmers,
taken their keys and hand held radios away
from them and were making them
dance and sing. Two other farmers were
ambushed and included with the first
In the meantime farmers had taken up strategic positions
along the road down
to Chininga and a small group went in to
During the evening Support Unit arrived with a blue
saloon carrying Zanu PF
officials and after reviewing the situation, asked
the farmers to report to
the police station to make
Once this was done, the police decided to take 12 of
the farmers through to
Banket on unspecified charges.
John Ashburner and one
The farmers have been in a Banket goal since 23:45 last
9TH March 2002
For more info: Jenni
Williams Mobile (Code +263) 91 300 456 or 11 213 885
(+2639) 72546 Fax 63978
Huge queues as Zimbabwe votes
By Nicholas Kotch and Cris Chinaka -
March 9 2002 16:33
Financial Times: 9 MArch 2002
HARARE (Reuters) - Huge queues built up around Zimbabwe on Saturday as voters
waited for hours to vote in a violence-scarred election which will decide
whether President Robert Mugabe can extend his 22-year-rule.
Opposition challenger Morgan Tsvangirai said he would seek an extension of
the two-day poll, saying the government's sharp reduction in the number of
polling stations in his urban strongholds would deny many people the chance to
"There is no way we can finish this in two days" Tsvangirai told reporters
when he voted on the first day of the poll.
"Mugabe is trying to move the goalposts to disenfranchise people if they are
people he thinks will vote against him."
As thousands of Zimbabweans turned out before dawn to vote, there was news of
more of the violence that dogged the campaign. Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change reported 30 of its election monitors were assaulted by ruling
ZANU-PF militants with clubs and broken bottles in Shamva, 75 miles northeast of
Harare, on Friday night.
Five were badly injured with head and facial wounds.
Tsvangirai, who campaigned on Zimbabwe's collapsing economy, charges that
Mugabe used violence, special laws and dirty tricks to try to steal the
election, in which the president faces the toughest challenge since independence
from Britain in 1980.
Up to four million of the 13 million population face food shortages caused by
drought and the violent occupation of white-owned commercial farms. Inflation
has hit 117 percent and unemployment 60 percent.
WHITE FARMERS DETAINED
Police detained 12 white farmers overnight after a confrontation with ZANU-PF
militia who stopped them transporting MDC polling agents northwest of Harare.
The farmers were released early on Saturday.
A white farmer's house in central Zimbabwe was burned to the ground on Friday
night by youths believed to be from ZANU-PF, neighbors said. The farmer was not
home at the time.
Mugabe, voting under heavy security in Harare's Highfields suburb, told
reporters: "I will accept the result, more than accept it because I will have
Well before voting began around 7 a.m. (0500 GMT), people wrapped in blankets
against the cold formed long lines at polling stations in poor parts of
"I could not wait to pass this vote. I came early to make sure I do," said
Japhet Dongo, who cast his ballot at a school in Glenview suburb after waiting
in a queue since midnight.
People pushed and jostled in the line as they waited.
Under gray skies and in a light drizzle, at least a thousand people were
lined up at Glenview Number 2 primary school.
In Harare's Kambuzuma township, one queue stretched for a mile and groups of
boisterous youths gave the open-palm MDC sign to passing motorists.
The MDC won all of Harare's 19 constituencies in parliamentary elections in
2000. Tsvangirai said there were now 80 less polling stations despite an
increase in city population.
The head of Norway's election observer team said the signs of a high turnout
Kare Vollan told Reuters: "We are worried about the deployment of party
polling agents. We had some reports of problems overnight, mainly from the MDC,
but they are still to be confirmed."
Norway's 25 observers are the largest European team at the elections. The
European Union withdrew scores of observers before the vote after the government
banned those from Britain, Denmark, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden
on the grounds that their governments were pro-opposition.
In Bulawayo, second city of the former British colony, long queues formed
outside polling stations hours before the vote began.
"I have been here since 4 a.m. because I am very anxious to vote. I want
somebody who will address my needs like the cost of living, which is now very
high," said Gatsheni Khumalo, a 29-year old accountant. The United States on
Friday again condemned the violence.
"The government of Zimbabwe continues its blatant campaign of violence,
intimidation and manipulation of the electoral process in an effort to win the
poll...It is clear that the government intends to win the election by any
means," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
The few opinion surveys point to a close finish.
South African analyst Richard Cornwell said that despite government
intimidation it would be impossible for ZANU-PF to rig the vote if as many as 70
percent of population vote for Tsvangirai, as some polls predict.
Zimbabwe police clash with impatient voters
2002 16:30 GMT
By Nicholas Kotch and Cris Chinaka
(Reuters) - Riot police have clashed with voters angered by huge
station queues in Zimbabwe's election, which the opposition says are
deliberate tactic to prevent their supporters voting.
Morgan Tsvangirai, President Robert Mugabe's toughest
independence from Britain in 1980, accused him with
wholesale cheating and
called for voting to be extended by two days after
At least 12 people were injured when police used teargas, rubber
whips on a crowd at a polling station in Harare's western
Kuwadzana, witnesses said.
"The riot police came after
some of the crowd tried to force their way into
the polling station in
protest at the slow voting," one electoral official
said two people had head wounds and had been bandaged on the scene
others were hurt by whips.
State-run ZBC radio also reported what it
called skirmishes at another
Harare polling station.
campaigned on Zimbabwe's crumbling economy, charges that
Mugabe has already
used violence, special laws and dirty tricks to try to
Frustration was mounting across Harare, a stronghold of
Movement for Democratic Change as dusk
TENSION HIGH AS VOTERS QUEUE
Witnesses said tension
was high at polling stations, where tens of thousands
of people were still
queuing 10 hours after voting began in the two day
poll. Voting for the day
was due to end at 7 p.m. (5 p.m. British time).
"We have seen people
getting very impatient and angry about waiting in
queues," Kare Vollan, head
of Norway's election observer team told Reuters.
reporters: "We are trying to see if we can get an extension.
There is no way
we can finish this within two days."
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
told Reuters the government might
consider extending voting. "Everyone who
wants to vote, will be allowed to
vote. If it becomes necessary, we will
consider extending the voting
period," he said.
The MDC said ZANU-PF
activists had prevented hundreds of its polling agents
"As of 10 a.m. this morning we did not have MDC
polling agents in at least
52 percent of the rural polling stations," a
statement by Tsvangirai said.
"ZANU-PF is now engaged in a last-ditch
effort to stop people from voting it
out of power by ensuring that the voting
process in MDC strongholds is
slowed down," he said.
The MDC earlier
reported 30 of its election monitors were assaulted by
militants with clubs and broken bottles in Shamva, 120 km (75
northeast of Harare, on Friday night, a few hours before
Five were badly injured with head and facial
OFFICIALS "FAILING TO COPE"
Mbulelo Musi, spokesman for
the South African observer team to the elections
said indications from
polling centres around the country showed officials
were failing to cope with
high voter turnout.
"What concerns us is that the queues are moving very
slowly and they might
not be able to finish processing everyone," Musi told
Mugabe, voting under heavy security in Harare's Highfields
reporters: "I will accept the result, more than accept it
because I will
Well before voting began around 7 a.m. (0500
GMT), people wrapped in
blankets against the cold formed long lines at
polling stations in poor
parts of Harare.
"I could not wait to pass
this vote. I came early to make sure I do," said
Japhet Dongo, who cast his
ballot at a school in Glenview suburb after
waiting in a queue since
In Harare's Kambuzuma township, one queue stretched for two km
(a mile) and
groups of boisterous youths gave the open-palm MDC sign to
The MDC won all of Harare's 19 constituencies in
parliamentary elections in
2000. Tsvangirai said there were now 80 less
polling stations despite an
increase in city population.
Two days of
voting are due to end at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Sunday.
Accusations and violence in Zimbabwe's election
ZIMBABWEANS are flocking to the polls to vote in the
presidential election following a campaign of violence and
Among the first to cast his ballot was President Robert
Mugabe, who faces
the strongest challenge yet to his 22-year leadership from
unionist Morgan Tsvangirai. However, many polling booths have
open, leading to claims from the opposition that the government is
deliberately difficult for people to vote.
The two month
election campaign has been the toughest since Zimbabwe gained
1980. Polls opened with the army on high alert for trouble
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for
Violence continued right up to the vote, with the opposition MDC
that 30 of its election monitors were assaulted on Friday night by
militants with clubs and broken bottles in Shamva, 75 miles northeast
Harare. Police detained 12 white farmers overnight after a
with ZANU-PF militia who stopped them transporting MDC polling
northwest of Harare.
Zimbabwe opposition cries foul on polling day
March, 2002 17:00 GMT
By Nicholas Kotch
HARARE (Reuters) -
Zimbabwe's main opposition party has cried foul on the
first day of
presidential elections, saying its supporters are being
prevented from voting across the country.
At least 12 people were injured
by police when anger at the slow pace of
voting erupted outside a polling
station in Harare's western township of
Morgan Tsvangirai, President Robert Mugabe's toughest challenger
independence from Britain in 1980, accused the ruling ZANU-PF of
cheating and called for voting to be extended by two
In Harare, a stronghold of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
(MDC), tens of thousands of people were still queuing by
hours after polling began.
Many had arrived before
dawn and patience was running thin. Frustration was
mounting across the city
as dusk approached.
Police fired teargas and rubber bullets at restive
voters outside the
Kuwadzana polling station, electoral officials there told
"The riot police came after some of the crowd tried to force
their way into
the polling station in protest at the slow voting," one
declining to be quoted by name.
By mid-afternoon, about
3,000 angry would-be voters were milling around the
area. Many threw taunts
at a detachment of about 35 riot police.
"We have seen people getting
very impatient and angry about waiting in
queues," Kare Vollan, head of
Norway's election observer team told Reuters.
State-run ZBC radio also
reported what it called skirmishes at Kuwadzana and
at a polling station in
nearby Warren Park.
Zimbabwe state radio said Mugabe had told reporters
after casting his vote
at a school in Highfields, a Harare suburb, he was
confident of victory, but
would accept any result.
Western countries which he said had decided the ballot would
not be free and
fair unless Tsvangirai won.
"LAST DITCH EFFORT BY ZANU-PF"
trying to see if we can get an extension to the voting days. There
is no way
we can finish this within two days," Tsvangirai told reporters
outside a polling station where 1,000 people were queuing.
The MDC said
ZANU-PF activists had prevented hundreds of its polling agents
scrutinising voting nationwide.
"As of 10 a.m. this morning, we did not
have MDC polling agents in at least
52 percent of the rural polling
stations," a statement by Tsvangirai
released by party headquarters
"ZANU-PF is now engaged in a last-ditch effort to stop people from
out of power by ensuring that the voting process in MDC strongholds
slowed down," it said.
All 19 of Harare's constituencies voted MDC
in parliamentary elections in
2000. The capital's 882,176 registered voters
this year are 15 percent of
the national electorate.
"There has been a
reduction in Harare's polling stations from 249 to 167
(between 2000 and
2002) in a population which has increased," Tsvangirai
said after he visited
polling stations in Harare and the neighbouring town
of Chitungwiza, where
thousands of his supporters were voting at snail's
intention is very, very clear but we hope people will be patient,"
There were no official figures on the voter turnout by Saturday
Political analysts say the MDC will have to ensure very high
turnouts in the
capital and other big cities to be able to beat 78-year-old
Two days of voting are due to end at 7 p.m. (5 p.m. British time)
|Zimbabwe poll 'could be
Polling in Zimbabwe's bitterly contested presidential elections could be
extended by two days to ensure voters get the opportunity to cast their
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa insists that everyone who wants to vote
will be able to do so.
The opposition is complaining their vote is being affected by the slow work
of polling officials in their urban strongholds.
"Everyone who wants to vote is going to vote," Mr Chinamasa told the BBC.
"If necessary we can extend the vote - there is no problem," he said, adding
that polling stations could remain open for an additional two days if need
Mr Chinamasa predicts that by the close of polling, the turnout could be up
A dozen people were injured when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at
voters trying to force their way into a polling station in the western Harare
township of Kuwadzana.
A crowd of 3,000 people tried to rush the building in what appeared to be a
protest at the slow pace of the work of polling officials.
Throughout the election campaign, human rights workers have accused President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF of sponsoring militants who have attacked opposition
supporters and their offices.
Police broke up several opposition rallies and arrested dozens of opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters.
Story filed: 18:03 Saturday 9th March 2002