Norton - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Friday urged his
supporters to vote for his party's candidates in crunch upcoming
parliamentary elections regardless of any of its shortcomings.
can't afford not to vote Zanu-PF. It doesn't matter that the party may have
failed to fulfil certain promises, such as employment," Mugabe told
thousands of his supporters in this small town close to his home village,
40km west of the capital.
"We know that at times life gets tough, but
you can't say because things are difficult you vote for the MDC, forgetting
that you were once oppressed by whites," said Mugabe.
The MDC is the
only opposition party in the southern African country, posing the most
serious challenge to Mugabe's rule since independence from Britain in
"You can't disown your parents because they do not have enough to
provide for you," Mugabe told his supporters.
"Problems are there,
yes, we have not had good rains and there will be hunger, but we are
preparing for that," said Mugabe, whose government admitted this week that
the southern African country is importing food to avert severe hunger due to
Mugabe warned that he would kick out the few white farmers
still operating in Zimbabwe if they ever "despised" his
"We are not saying whites should not have any farms, but we
are saying the whites should not despise our government," he told cheering
supporters at a stadium where he also handed out 60 state-of-the-art
computers to schools in the town. This has become characteristic of all his
Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic
Front (Zanu-PF), represented by Mugabe's nephew Patrick Zhuwao, will try to
wrestle the seat of Norton from an opposition MDC lawmaker elected in 2000
Another nephew of Mugabe, Leo Mugabe, is also running for election
in a separate constituency in the same Mashonaland West province.
elections due in less than two weeks are being watched to see if Mugabe will
honour his promise to comply with regional electoral standards set last
The polls are also expected to consolidate his hold on
Zimbabwe's last two polls in 2000 and 2002 were widely criticised
as being tainted by violence, fraud and intimidation.
Zimbabwe Bars Critics
As Poll Monitors By TERRY LEONARD ASSOCIATED PRESS
South Africa (AP) -
The government of President Robert Mugabe has
hand-picked observers for Zimbabwe's upcoming parliamentary vote in what
critics call a shallow and transparent attempt to restore legitimacy to the
country's discredited democracy.
It has systematically barred
observer missions from countries and groups that said elections in 2000 and
2002 were flawed and probably stolen by Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party amid
massive vote-rigging and state-sponsored violence and
Observers for the March 31 elections have been invited from
generally pro-Mugabe African states such as South Africa, friendly countries
such as China, Iran and Venezuela, and from the Southern African Development
Community, a generally supportive regional body.
"They left out
everybody who gave them a negative report," said University of Zimbabwe
political scientist John Makumbe.
"Essentially it says the regime has
something to hide, that it can't stand close scrutiny," Makumbe said in a
telephone interview from the United States, where he is a guest lecturer at
Michigan State University.
Those excluded include the European Union, the
United States, the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, the South African
Council of Churches and the SADC Parliamentary Forum - the only African
mission to condemn the 2002 presidential elections.
If the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front wins an election endorsed by
his hand-picked observers, Makumbe said Mugabe will claim legitimacy and
expect African countries to support the assertion.
countries imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his ruling elite ahead of the 2002
vote after the head of the EU observer mission was expelled from
The United States, Australia and Canada, among others, followed
with sanctions citing manipulation of the elections, human rights violations
and Zimbabwe's refusal to restore the rule of law.
Mugabe has moved
to limit criticism and has instituted some electoral reforms that most
independent observers have dismissed as too little too late.
President Jimmy Carter, whose Atlanta-based Carter Center monitors elections
around the world, told reporters during Mozambique's polls in December that
the center could not observe votes in Zimbabwe.
"Zimbabwe is a disgrace,"
said Carter, referring to the country's electoral system. "Mugabe declared
that the Carter Center is a terrorist organization and asked us to
Mugabe insists Zimbabwe's economic and political problems are the
direct result of a plot by Britain and the United States to topple
South African President Thabo Mbeki and officials in his
administration said they see no reason why the vote won't be free and
"There is a growing suspicion in Zimbabwe that the sole objective
of the SADC and South African observer missions is not to ensure the full
expression of the 'one person, one vote' principle," but to legitimize a
victory for Mugabe's party, said Welshman Ncube, a leader of the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.
laws have been used to disrupt opposition meetings and rallies, restrict
opposition campaigning, arrest opposition candidates and supporters, and to
deny citizens free access to the political process.
Political violence is
down markedly from 2002 levels, but Amnesty International said this week
that it continues, along with threats of post-election
State media continue to give the opposition only very limited
time and access. The government also has used its media laws to silence
criticism. Many foreign reporters and Zimbabwean reporters working for
foreign publications who could have provided an independent perspective on
the election have been harassed or effectively barred from working in the
Makumbe believes a strategy designed to give Mugabe
legitimacy through the verdict of friendly neighboring states will
"Legitimacy can only come from the right countries, those that have
the resources to drag this country out of the quagmire Mugabe has dragged it
into," he said.
Zimbabwe, Peaceful Vote, but Is It Fair? page 2 of 2
The voter rolls
are crucial - and contentious. A computerized study in January of 100,000
registered voters by the FreeZim Support Group, a pro-democracy organization,
concluded that as many as 2 million of Zimbabwe's 5.6 million registered
voters are suspect. The group estimates that 800,000 voters are dead, 300,000
are listed more than once and more than 900,000 do not live at their recorded
Opposition efforts to challenge the lists have proved futile.
David Coltart, an M.D.C. legislator from Bulawayo, dispatched
supporters house-to-house last month to verify his region's rolls. The
police arrested them within hours, saying he needed permission for
political gatherings. Armed with a court order, he re-deployed the team -
and they were arrested again.
"The M.D.C. is just losing direction,"
said Margaret, a jobless 28-year-old single mother of two in Bulawayo who
once worked for the ZANU-P.F. "ZANU-P.F. will regain three-quarters of the
seats they lost" in the 2000 elections, she said.
One reason, she
said, is Zimbabweans' reverence for Mr. Mugabe, their liberator from white
rule, widespread chaos notwithstanding. "If your father rapes someone, you do
not shun him," she said. "He's still your father." She refused to give her
Yet among many Zimbabweans interviewed, the M.D.C. is seen as
surging in popularity. Thousands have swarmed to rallies, even in rural areas
long seen as government strongholds, and the government's decision to
allow open campaigning has emboldened ordinary people.
sclerotic leaders and restless younger underlings, ZANU-P.F. also is not the
well-oiled political machine it once was.
But if this election hinges on
anything, many say, it may be food - or the lack of it. One year ago, Mr.
Mugabe ordered the World Food Program to stop distributing most food aid,
stating that Zimbabwe was self-sufficient.
In fact, outside experts
agree, the opposite was true.
But by forcing the World Food Program to
reduce food distribution, the government ensured that the hungry would look
to the government for aid, often tied to support of government candidates.
The National Constitutional Assembly, a pro-democracy group, reported in
February that food was used as a political tool in nearly three out of
four districts it surveyed.
But the government has also courted a
powerful backlash by failing to fill the vacuum it created by rejecting
international food aid. As he stood at in the crowd at the Filabusi rally,
Ngwenya, a 52-year-old farmer with seven children who would volunteer only
his first name, agreed that this election is first and foremost about food.
"A people's government must first see if people are eating," he
Michael Wines reported from Filabusi for this article and
Sharon LaFraniere from Johannesburg. An employee of The New York Times
in Zimbabwe contributed reporting.
Villagers are forced to attend ZANU PF rallies and warned that
food aid will be withheld if they vote for the opposition.
Dzikamayi Chiyausiku in Marondera (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 17,
People in Zimbabwe's rural constituencies are living in fear
despite President Robert Mugabe's public assurances - particularly to his
most important ally, South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki - that there will
be no violence or intimidation at the March 31 parliamentary
Observers say that with fewer than two weeks to go to polling
day, intimidation is growing.
Villagers are being frogmarched to
rallies of the ruling ZANU PF party and, as famine intensifies, peasants are
being warned they will be denied government-controlled food aid unless they
support Mugabe's candidates.
Meanwhile, the main opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, has been warned by Mugabe's personal
stormtroopers - the violent National Youth Militia or Green Bombers - that
many parts of the country are "no go" areas for its campaigners.
situation is well illustrated in Marondera, a small town some 80 kilometres
east of the capital, Harare, where Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi
controversially won by just 63 votes in 2000, despite widespread
intimidation and allegations of vote rigging.
Sekeramayi, who runs
the feared Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, and is known as "the
cruel one", has declared Marondera and its surrounding area of decaying
farms a no-go area for the MDC.
Nevertheless, there is a spirit of
defiance, perhaps inspired by Mugabe's confident expectation that he will
win the two-thirds majority that will enable him to change the country's
"We are being warned at ZANU PF rallies that there will be
no food aid for us if the MDC wins the election," Norman Mudekunye, who
lives about 20 km outside Marondera, told IWPR.
Mudekunye said a unit
of the Green Bombers had established a makeshift election camp near his
village called Dirihori. "We hear them singing ZANU PF liberation songs," he
said. "Sometimes they wake us up and force us to attend their night
meetings. They have a register of all villagers and those who don't attend
the rallies are in trouble."
He said that while his neighbours were not
being beaten this time - unlike in 2000 - threats were being made. "If you
don't take notice, then you don't receive food aid," he said.
in the Marondera area desperately need food aid. Commercial farms have
collapsed, the rains have failed, and the villagers' sparse crops are
wilting in the heat. Some have given up hope of harvesting anything before
the short winter months set in - and if they don't, they will be totally
dependent on government food aid for the next twelve months.
beginning of this month, ZANU PF supporters burned down Marondera's United
Methodist Church in a warning to people not to vote for the local MDC
candidate Iain Kay.
Kay - a farmer who was forced off his land two
years ago - helped to build the church, where his wife Kerry carried out
much of her full time work with AIDS orphans. Police have made no arrests in
connection with the incident.
When Kay began his election campaign, he
initially held meetings in caves in nearby hills to avoid harassment by
Sekeramayi's supporters and the police, who were breaking up meetings of
more than five opposition supporters.
Kay, one of only five white people
contesting seats in the forthcoming election, is a well-known liberal whose
late father Jock served as deputy agriculture minister in Mugabe's
government in the late Eighties.
While he is confident he has more
support than the defence minister, many believe that this may be irrelevant
given the levels of intimidation and advance rigging. Marondera is infamous
for election violence. In 2000, Kay's MDC predecessor was run out of town
and his house burned to the ground. MDC supporters were tortured at local
ruling party headquarters.
Kay himself was severely assaulted and left
for dead when 60 ZANU PF supporters invaded and occupied his 5,000-acre
property near Marondera. A young policeman, Constable Tinashe Chikwenya, who
tried to help the farmer, was shot dead by the invaders. The 120 people Kay
employed and their 380 dependents were driven from their homes on the
Kay refused to leave the country and, when asked why he and his
wife stayed, he said, "We're all Zimbabweans. We're worth fighting
Unexpectedly, following Mugabe's slight relaxation of his iron
grip, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was recently able to hold the first ever
opposition rally in the town, which was attended by 600 people. Some men
wore MDC t-shirts and a 33-year-old woman who identified herself as Mercy
wore an MDC headscarf. Many hundreds more people, including ominous men in
suits and wearing dark glasses, gazed at the rally from a
"Those people over there remember the beatings of past years,"
said Mercy, gesturing to the bystanders. "But I am not afraid any more. I
have been arrested by the police and raped twice and my children have been
beaten to the ground in front of me. They have done their worst and I have
Dzikamayi Chiyausiku is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in
Mugabe's judiciary denies 3m exiles the right to
vote From Jan Raath in Cape Town
than three million Zimbabwean citizens living in exile - 1.2 million of them
in Britain - have been denied the right to vote in parliamentary elections
on March 31 by the country's Supreme Court. An application
brought by seven Zimbabweans, most of them living in Birmingham, for all
exiles to be able to cast their ballots "is without merit and is hereby
dismissed", said Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, a loyal supporter of
President Mugabe, quoted in the state-controlled Daily Herald
The ruling - not unexpected - delivers Mr
Mugabe from the prospect of defeat at the hands of the dominant bloc of the
electorate of 5.6 million voters. Many of the Zimbabwean diaspora cite
violent persecution and economic collapse brought about by his Government as
their reason for flight. Most would very probably have voted for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The Diaspora Vote Action
Group claimed in its petition to the court that a government ruling allowing
people to cast their votes only in the constituencies in which they are
registered denied them "the fundamental right to vote".
Beatrice Mtetwa, their lawyer, said that the ruling violated a treaty signed
by Mr Mugabe and other southern African leaders in August last year which
committed them to free and fair elections, including "full participation of
"The Supreme Court has just decided that
about half of all Zimbabwe's voters will not be able to vote," she
President Mbeki of South Africa said this month that
all the issues in the election treaty had been addressed by Zimbabwe's
No reasons were given for the ruling, but during
the hearing in February, judges said that voting was not a fundamental right
and that exiles should not expect to be allowed to vote "because they left
the country voluntarily".
A key strategy of Mr Mugabe's
state-appointed election authorities since 2000 has been to focus on groups
likely to support the MDC - urban residents, white people, the educated
middle-class and exiles - and to use laws or bureaucracy to prevent them
The Zimbabwean central bank estimates that 3.4
million citizens have fled the country since 2000 when Mr Mugabe began a
campaign of terror against the MDC and drove the productive white commercial
farmers off their land.
A third of the exiles are in
Britain and slightly more in South Africa, with the rest in the United
States and New Zealand. The exodus has devastated the country's reserves of
professionals and skilled workers. The Diaspora Vote Action Group said they
had left the country because it was the only way to find
Last year, central bank officials travelled
around Britain, South Africa and America, trying to persuade exiles to send
their hard currency earnings home to boost collapsed foreign reserves. Many
responded: "No vote, no money."
a.. Harare: The
MDC said that Zimbabwe was heading for "starvation of major proportions"
because of Mr Mugabe's failure to attract international aid.
Renson Gasela, the Shadow Agriculture Minister said: "The country has now
virtually run out of maize. The Government has been misleading everybody
about the food situation to create the impression that everything is under
Mr Mugabe's Government is importing 15 tonnes of
maize every month, which Mr Gasela said fell way short of what was needed.
He said that starvation would set in after the elections and that a victory
by the ruling Zanu (PF) party would compound the crisis as Zimbabwe would
continue to slide into international isolation. (AFP)
HARARE, March 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwean
Vice President Joseph Msika has accused the British and American governments
of concocting lies about Zimbabwe.
Addressing thousands of
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) supporters at
Chenhuhwe business center in Masvingo Central, Msika said the British and
the American allies were currently demonizing Zimbabwe over the issue of
lack of democracy and the rule of law yet Zimbabwe was one of the best
emerging democracies in Africa.
"They are concocting
allegations that there is no rule of law and democracy in Zimbabwe but the
real sin that we committed is taking back our land," he
"In terms of democracy we have been holding elections
every five years since 1980 and we have made remarkable progress towards
multiparty democracy," he said.
He added that democracy was
not an event but was a process which would always be
Msika said the British government had no legal and
moral right to lecture Zimbabwe on human rights because independence only
came after a bitter and protracted war of liberation.
urged Zimbabweans to follow the path of resilience and steadfastness
exhibited by President Robert Mugabe and the two late vice presidents Simon
Muzenda and Joshua Nkomo.
"President Mugabe is brave and strong
and is going to outlive history, be remembered as a leader who repossessed
land stolen from our ancestors," said Msika.
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)as a stooge for the
imperialist forces bent on recolonizing Zimbabwe, saying the MDC was not a
party but a group of sponsored people.
"The MDC is not a party
but a group of stooges and puppets who are sponsored to deceive Zimbabweans
and want to sell the birthright," he said..
Msika called on the
people of Masvingo Central to make amends and turn out in large numbers to
vote for a ZANU-PF government that has brought development in
The vice president reiterated the government's call
for people to shun violence ahead of the March 31 election to shame the
British and their Western allies who were looking for excuses to discredit
the forthcoming elections.
Msika presented Shylet Munyoro
as the ZANU-PF candidate for the constituency. Enditem
The news that
expat Zimbabweans will not be allowed to vote in the country's 31 March
elections came as no surprise to many of those living in the UK.
Its supreme court dismissed a challenge by seven UK-based Zimbabweans
wanting the right to vote as having "no merit".
the expats' request would have required major changes to its recently
amended electoral laws.
Among those now unable to vote is Dennis
Tapfuma who said: "It's the sort of behaviour we've come to
Mr Tapfuma, a 29-year-old black
journalist who now lives in south London, said he left his home city of
Harare in 2000 when it became clear the human rights situation in Zimbabwe
was going to deteriorate.
He is married to a white Zimbabwean whose
family was evicted from its land under President Robert Mugabe's
Mr Tapfuma commended the efforts of the UK-based
Diaspora Vote Action Group to secure expats the vote, but fears their
energies have been wasted.
He said: "I've become a cynic. There's
just no point unless you get rid of the government, there's no point trying
to fight it.
"It's pretty obvious the Zim government doesn't want
us to vote, because they know what the result would
Mr Tapfuma says many Zimbabweans are disillusioned
with politics, concentrating their efforts instead on the daily battle for
He said: "Most of my Zimbabwean friends don't care. They
just want to survive. People just want to get on with their lives and their
"My dad is still there and when I speak to him it is the
same thing. People want food, not voting."
He said most expats
would return if the government changed.
But in the meantime, he
thinks expats are the "lucky ones" and should concentrate on aid work to
help those struggling with food shortages.
Allan Conybeare, 32, and his wife Sally, 29, are
white Zimbabweans who left the country to go travelling 10 years ago and,
because of the deteriorating political situation, have never
They live in Colchester, Essex, and have a one-year-old
Sally's parents are also in the UK, having been evicted from
their farm in Zimbabwe.
Mr Conybeare, from Harare, said: "We're
obviously disappointed. We'd love to be able to cast our ballots, but to be
honest, I didn't have very much hope.
"I don't think the
government wants people from overseas to vote because probably 85% or 90%
would not be for them."
Mr Conybeare is also worried about
the situation faced by his countrymen.
He said: "Every week I
read more and more about things that are going wrong in the country. It's
But like many Zimbabweans, he fears little will
change while Mr Mugabe remains in power.
"It will come to an
end eventually but I don't know when. Everyone's kept saying he'll step down
in the next year or so but 10 years have gone by and he's still very much
"If the government changed and things started to look up
we'd be keen to go back. It's our home after all and we do get
"But we've got to think of our future and that of our
Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2005 6:07 PM Subject: Of Wolves and Sheepskin
Dear Family and Friends As I write this letter there are
just 12 days left before parliamentary elections. This week the weather in
Marondera suddenly turned from hot and dry to distinctly cooler and windy and
everyone says this is an omen, a sign that things are about to change.
People whisper almost fanatically about watching out for the "ides of March"
until you begin to think either they've gone mad or they know something you
don't. The atmosphere in the town is quiet but tense and everyone seems to
be waiting for something to happen. I suppose the most accurate description
of people's feelings this week is suspicious. Nothing is ever as is seems in
Zimbabwe and we are all looking for wolves in sheep's clothing, keeping our
mouths firmly shut and just watching. The talk in the suburbs is that there
are at least four dozen young men openly walking around in public places at
night wearing opposition T shirts - and nothing is happening to them. This is
something we just haven't seen in the last 5 years because wearing an MDC
shirt has been almost guaranteed to cause a beating so now that it is
happening openly, everyone thinks its a trap. Maybe it is, who knows
We are all very suspicious of the sudden change in the ZBC
radio programmes too. After five years of hateful racist rhetoric and
unashamed attacks on the MDC, this week the announcers suddenly changed their
tune. Blatantly coinciding with the jamming of independent broadcasts from
Short Wave Radio Africa and the arrival of election observers, our radio
news bulletins have suddenly started reporting on both Zanu PF and
MDC speeches. The incessant Zanu PF propaganda suddenly changed into
messages about the environment, music by people other than members of Zanu PF
and little talks on Zimbabwe's tourist destinations. No one is fooled by
this sudden change of direction though, like everything else we all know
it's just another wolf in sheep's clothing, designed to make outsiders
think that everything is OK but ignoring the fact that it's not the
outsiders that do the voting, but the sheep.
A friend phoned me
excitedly this week to say she'd heard that foreign election observers had
started arriving in the country. I just laughed because even this has turned
into what seems like wolves into sheepskin coats. The head of the South
African government observer team arrived in the country and immediately
pronounced that the environment for elections looked free and fair and this
was before they'd been anywhere or met anyone so their presence certainly
doesn't inspire confidence. By all accounts it seems that there are going to
be at least 8200 polling stations in the elections and unless I've got my
maths very wrong, there will only be one non-Zimbabwean election observer for
every 10-15 polling stations. Whether wolves or sheep, everyone's going to
need eyes in the backs of their heads for the next couple of weeks and in
between it all you have to find things to laugh about including the
positioning of election posters. This week even the garbage truck is sporting
pictures of the Zanu PF candidate for Marondera, the man who had a lead of
just 63 votes in the last parliamentary elections. Until next week, with
love, cathy Copyright cathy buckle 19th March 2005 http://africantears.netfirms.com My
books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears"
are available from: firstname.lastname@example.org ; www.africabookcentre.com ; www.amazon.co.uk ; in Australia and New
Zealand: email@example.com ;
Mixed reaction to SA observer mission in Zim March 19
2005 at 02:31PM
By Beauregard Tromp and Peter
South African-led observer missions swarmed into Harare
this week to monitor the March 31 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections, and
immediately set off several political landmines.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) broke off relations with the South
Africans after what it saw as pro-Zimbabwe government remarks by the head of
the South African government observer mission, Membathisi
And South African opposition MPs threatened to go back
home after the Zimbabwean government at first refused to accredit them as a
delegation separate from the South African government mission.
The Independent Democrats have now withdrawn, calling the whole South
African observation effort a "farce" designed to rubber stamp the African
National Conress's favourable stance on the elections.
The South Africans are key to monitoring the elections as President Robert
Mugabe has barred most non-African countries and organisations, and most
other African observers have not yet arrived.
constitute, by a very long margin, the majority of observers here with three
missions - the South African government observation mission, the South
African parliamentary mission and the ANC mission - and also lead the SADC
Electoral Observation Mission in the person of Mineral and Energy Affairs
Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Mdladlana jeopardised the entire
South African monitoring effort on his arrival by making remarks to the
state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation which the opposition MDC and
many NGOs here interpreted as prejudging that the election would be free and
fair. Mdladlana later denied that he had ever said that conditions in the
country were conducive to free and fair elections.
made no reference to the many concerns of the MDC, including their
allegations that they have to get police permission to hold political
rallies, get very little air time on state TV and radio and that the voters
roll is packed with dead voters, allowing the government to stuff
The MDC broke off contact with all the South African
missions as a result of this statement and some of Mdladlana's own
colleagues scolded him for his tactless remarks. The MDC only resumed
contact with the ANC mission after it dissociated itself from
.. This article was originally published on
page 2 of Saturday Argus on March 19, 2005
Harare - Zimbabwe police on Saturday held more than 30 members
of Zimbabwe's umbrella labour union following a demonstration in the capital
against the union's top leadership.
"We are still interviewing 34
people over the demonstration, to try to establish whether the law was
followed or not," police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena told
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general
Wellington Chibebe said a group of about 50 stormed a hotel where the
union's leaders were holding a routine meeting.
"We don't know what
they wanted. They just came into the room where we were meeting and started
chanting songs," said Chibebe.
"There was drama and confusion, they
failed to explain the reason for their protest, simply saying they were not
happy with our leadership," said Chibebe.
Early this month state
media reported that half of the ZCTU's 34 affiliate unions accused the
union's leadership of "pursuing a political agenda at the expense of the
welfare of workers".
ZCTU gave birth in 1999 to Zimbabwe's main
opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which faces
President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)
in general elections on March 31.
The state-owned Herald reported that
the disgruntled workers accused the leadership of corruption and
dictatorship, and were surprised that ZCTU had "invited" the Congress of
South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) for a fact-finding mission to
A 15-member Cosatu delegation was booted out of Zimbabwe on
arrival last month.
Cosatu, which claims to have a membership of 1,7
million, has taken a hard line on Zimbabwe, accusing Mugabe of cracking down
on workers' rights and suppressing freedoms.
Harare - A Zimbabwean media watchdog on Saturday claimed
President Robert Mugabe's government is interfering with transmissions from
a British-based radio station which employs a group of exiled Zimbabwean
"Although the government has denied jamming SW Radio
Africa's broadcasts, a report by the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB)
revealed that the jamming appears to emanate from Zimbabwe using Chinese
equipment," the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe said in a
Quoting the IBB report, the MMPZ said "one kilohertz tone is
used to jam the broadcasts and is continued till the transmitters become too
hot, then the noise is used to avoid overdriving the jamming
SW Radio Africa, known for its opposition to Mugabe's
rule, operated in a Harare hotel until it was shut down in
Former information minister Jonathan Moyo warned the station's
Zimbabwean staffers who relocated to London they would be arrested when they
MMPZ condemned the suspected jamming of SW Radio
Africa's broadcasts as "the latest deliberate assault on freedom of
"This act of sabotage against SW Radio Africa's broadcasts,
particularly in the run-up to the March 31 general elections, is a cynical
attempt to deny the public their right to access information sources of
their choice," said the media watchdog.
SW Radio Africa has since
announced new frequencies to which its Zimbabwean listeners can tune
There are no private broadcast stations operating in Zimbabwe despite
the amendment five years ago of a broadcast law which gave a monopoly to the
government-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings.
Many Zimbabweans have
turned to foreign-based radio stations for an alternative to broadcasts by
government-controlled radio and television stations.
Three years ago
the Zimbabwean government passed tough media laws which have been evoked to
shut down five independent newspapers. - AFP