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

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News24

Promises don't matter: Mugabe
19/03/2005 14:02  - (SA)

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.

"You 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 1980.

"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 poor rains.

Mugabe warned that he would kick out the few white farmers still operating
in Zimbabwe if they ever "despised" his government.

"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 campaign rallies.

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 polls.

Another nephew of Mugabe, Leo Mugabe, is also running for election in a
separate constituency in the same Mashonaland West province.

The 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
year.

The polls are also expected to consolidate his hold on power.

Zimbabwe's last two polls in 2000 and 2002 were widely criticised as being
tainted by violence, fraud and intimidation.

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Las Vegas Sun

March 19, 2005 at 12:22:15 PST

Zimbabwe Bars Critics As Poll Monitors
By TERRY LEONARD
ASSOCIATED PRESS

JOHANNESBURG, 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 intimidation.

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.

European Union 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 Zimbabwe.

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.

Former 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 leave."

Mugabe insists Zimbabwe's economic and political problems are the direct
result of a plot by Britain and the United States to topple him.

South African President Thabo Mbeki and officials in his administration said
they see no reason why the vote won't be free and fair.

"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.

Draconian security 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 reprisals.

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
country.

Makumbe believes a strategy designed to give Mugabe legitimacy through the
verdict of friendly neighboring states will fail.

"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.

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Some kind soul has sent us the second page of this item which was only
available to NY Times subscribers..... the first page was published as http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/mar18a_2005.html#link3

For 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 addresses.

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 last name.

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.

Burdened with 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 said.

Michael Wines reported from Filabusi for this article and Sharon
LaFraniere from Johannesburg. An employee of The New York Times in
Zimbabwe contributed reporting.

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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Intimidation in Countryside Escalates

Villagers are forced to attend ZANU PF rallies and warned that food aid will
be withheld if they vote for the opposition.

By Dzikamayi Chiyausiku in Marondera (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No
17, 18-Mar-05)

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 election.

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.

The 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 constitution.

"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.

People 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.

At the 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 farm.

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 for."

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 distance.

"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 survived."

Dzikamayi Chiyausiku is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
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The Times

            Mugabe's judiciary denies 3m exiles the right to vote
            From Jan Raath in Cape Town

            MORE 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 yesterday.

            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 electorate".

            "The Supreme Court has just decided that about half of all
Zimbabwe's voters will not be able to vote," she said.

            President Mbeki of South Africa said this month that all the
issues in the election treaty had been addressed by Zimbabwe's Government.

            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 from voting.

            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 employment.

            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 control."

            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)
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Xinhua

      Britain, US accused of concocting lies about Zimbabwe

      www.chinaview.cn 2005-03-19 14:21:27

          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 said.

          "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 refined.

          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.

          He 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.

          He described 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 Zimbabwe.

          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

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BBC

      Expats unsurprised at vote denial

      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".

      Zimbabwe said 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 expect."

      'No point'

      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 regime.

      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 be."

      Mr Tapfuma says many Zimbabweans are disillusioned with politics,
concentrating their efforts instead on the daily battle for survival.

      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 businesses

      "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.

      'Disappointed'

      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 returned.

      They live in Colchester, Essex, and have a one-year-old son.

      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 very depressing."

      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 there.

      "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 homesick.

      "But we've got to think of our future and that of our young son."

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Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2005 6:07 PM
Subject: Of Wolves and Sheepskin coats

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 anymore!

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: orders@africabookcentre.comwww.africabookcentre.com ;
www.amazon.co.uk ;  in Australia and New Zealand:
johnmreed@johnreedbooks.com.au
;  Africa: www.kalahari.net  www.exclusivebooks.com

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IOL

Mixed reaction to SA observer mission in Zim
          March 19 2005 at 02:31PM

      By Beauregard Tromp and Peter Fabricius

      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.

      The opposition 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 Mdladlana.

      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.

      South Africans 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.

      Mdladlana 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 ballots.

      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 Mdladlana.

          .. This article was originally published on page 2 of Saturday
Argus on March 19, 2005

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News24

Zim cops arrest 34 unionists
19/03/2005 19:42  - (SA)

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 reporters.

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 Zimbabwe.

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.
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News24

Zim 'jamming' SW radio
19/03/2005 14:02  - (SA)

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 journalists.

"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 statement.

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 transmitters."

SW Radio Africa, known for its opposition to Mugabe's rule, operated in a
Harare hotel until it was shut down in 2002.

Former information minister Jonathan Moyo warned the station's Zimbabwean
staffers who relocated to London they would be arrested when they return
home.

MMPZ condemned the suspected jamming of SW Radio Africa's broadcasts as "the
latest deliberate assault on freedom of expression".

"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 in.

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
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