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

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Agonist

Zimbabwe's Mugabe cheating exposed by HRW
Human Rights Watch has released a 36-page report, entitled Not a Level
Playing Field.

†The press release states that the report: - documents cases of political
intimidation of opposition parties, their supporters and ordinary citizens
by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) and
its political allies. The paper also highlights the government's use of
repressive laws to restrict the activities of political parties and civil
society activists. The paper is based on research conducted by Human Rights
Watch in several regions of Zimbabwe in December 2004 and February 2005 and
can be read here in pdf format
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The Times

††††††††††† March 21, 2005

††††††††††† African heads 'must share blame for rigged Zimbabwe election'

††††††††††† By Fred Bridgland
††††††††††† A human rights team reveals exclusively to The Times that Mugabe
intimidation tactics are rife

††††††††††† IT IS impossible for Zimbabwe's parliamentary election, due in
ten days' time, to be free and fair, according to a powerful report to be
released today.
††††††††††† The Human Rights Watch document, based on the work of an
undercover team that has spent several weeks inside Zimbabwe, confirms
widespread suspicions that opposition supporters face daily intimidation,
The Times has learnt.

††††††††††† The report accuses the Government of President Mugabe of lacking
respect for the basic freedoms of expression, association and assembly and
says that the poll will be based on an electoral roll manipulated to favour
Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) party.

††††††††††† The Mugabe Government has faced such criticism many times in
recent years, but this report is likely to have a greater impact among
Zimbabwe's neighbours because it measures the conduct of the campaign
against an agreement that was signed by 14 heads of state, including Mr
Mugabe himself. It criticises the other heads of state for failing to press
Mr Mugabe to fulfil his obligations under that agreement.

††††††††††† "The same partisan electoral institutions that supervised flawed
[parliamentary and presidential] processes in 2000 and 2002 are supervising
electoral processes for the 2005 elections," the 36-page report, Not A Level
Playing Field, says.

††††††††††† The researchers set the campaign record of Zanu (PF)against the
principles and guidelines set out for the poll at an urgent meeting of heads
of state of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) last August.

††††††††††† Mr Mugabe was one of the signatories to the document, whose
listed principles call for full participation of citizens in the political
process; freedom of association; political tolerance; equal opportunity for
all political parties to access the state media; independence of the
judiciary; independence of the media; impartiality of the electoral
institutions; and voter education.

††††††††††† "With only days remaining before voters go to the polls, it is
clear that the Government has not adequately met the benchmarks set by the
SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections," the report,
which is to be released in Johannesburg, says. "The Government has . . .
restricted the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in
many parts of the country. Opposition party members and ordinary citizens
have been intimidated by ruling party supporters and officials, [pre-1980
liberation] war veterans and [Mr Mugabe's personal] youth militia."

††††††††††† The damning report dissects the degree to which Mr Mugabe has
implemented each of the principles that he signed up to, and concludes: "The
Government of Zimbabwe has demonstrated its lack of respect for the basic
freedoms prescribed in the SADC guidelines . . . As a result the elections
are highly unlikely to reflect the free expression of the electorate."

††††††††††† Examining repressive laws introduced by the Mugabe Government,
most notably the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act 2003
and the Public Order and Security Act 2002, the report concludes that as
many as 500 domestic and international reporters had been arrested and
detained for varying lengths of time over the past two years. At least five
of them had been arrested on more than one occasion.

††††††††††† Among the draconian clauses of the acts are one making it an
offence to criticise Mr Mugabe and another making it an offence to publish
loosely defined "false statements . . . prejudicial to the State".

††††††††††† The report says that there are as many Zimbabweans of voting age
outside the country as inside. About 3.4 million people over 18 have left
the country in the past four years as political or economic refugees.

††††††††††† Exiled Zimbabweans, the majority of whom would most likely vote
for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), were last week
denied the right to vote by post by Zimbabwe's Supreme Court.

††††††††††† Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, a Mugabe loyalist and former
Justice Minister, said: "This application has no merit." He gave no other
reason for his judgment.

††††††††††† Many remaining residents over the age of 18 had been
disenfranchised because of a deeply flawed registration procedure and a
refusal of the right of opposition parties to inspect voters' rolls, which
are believed to contain up to 800,000 "ghost" voters. Many adults in urban
areas, which in recent years have returned MDC candidates to parliament,
have been refused registration because they cannot provide rates bills in
their name or credit accounts from a shop accompanied by a lawyer's
affidavit.

††††††††††† The report says that despite Mr Mugabe's public calls for a
peaceful election there are "high levels of intimidation in parts of the
country . . . by Zanu [PF] supporters". Government opponents were unable to
campaign in some parts of the country, and they had no protection from state
institutions because "the judiciary, the police and the civil service have
been restructured to ensure that party loyalists are at the helm".

††††††††††† Commenting on Mr Mugabe's continuing restrictions, Professor
Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general, said: "There has been no pressure
on Mugabe from countries in Africa [to respect the SADC principles]. The
real pressure, the real things that Mugabe feels, are the targeted [Western]
sanctions."
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Reuters

Mugabe in balancing act as Zimbabwe crisis continues
Sun Mar 20, 2005 11:38 PM ET

By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's veteran leader Robert Mugabe has been likened
by critics to a man riding a lion -- forced by pride to pose as a hero while
facing the constant threat of being mauled.

Political analysts say Mugabe has little chance of steering Zimbabwe out of
its political and economic crisis because he fears losing power which
undermines his ability to act.

Mugabe, an African liberation hero now pilloried as a dictator by Western
countries, will see his balance tested again when Zimbabwe holds
parliamentary elections on March 31.

The opposition says the polls will be neither free nor fair, but instead
will give the 81-year-old leader a chance to engineer another win for his
ruling ZANU-PF party which it says rigged victories in both 2000 and 2002.

But victory at the polls will hardly solve Mugabe's problems.

He cannot win back crucial Western aid for Zimbabwe's ravaged economy
without reversing some of his controversial policies, including tight
controls on the media and security laws hobbling the opposition, analysts
say.

The embattled Zimbabwean leader is unlikely do this because it would expose
his weaknesses, leaving him vulnerable to leadership challenges from both
within ZANU-PF and from outside forces, the analysts say.

"For Mugabe, I don't think he sees any way of doing that without losing
control, and without endangering his own political position," said Eldred
Masunungure, a political science lecturer at Harare's University of
Zimbabwe.

"For some powerful Western countries, the Zimbabwe question has become a
matter of prestige and I don't think they will accept any reforms which will
leave Mugabe posturing as the final winner in this stand-off," he said.

ASSET OR LIABILITY?

Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the Zimbabwe political pressure group the
National Constitutional Assembly, believes Mugabe sees a free press as a
threat because it would open up a public debate over his management of the
economy, his handling of ethnic issues and his overall leadership skills.

"In the last five years, Mugabe has stifled debate on whether he is an asset
or liability to this country ... and without the restrictions he has imposed
that debate will become a very serious issue," he said.

Mugabe responded with characteristic anger to a spirited drive by some of
his top political lieutenants, including former information minister
Jonathan Moyo, to oppose his decision late last year to elevate Joyce Mujuru
to the vice-presidency ahead of parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa.

For years, Mnangagwa had been touted as Mugabe's likely successor and
political analysts say the president -- expected to retire at the end of his
current term in 2008 -- was no longer comfortable with him and doesn't want
him in a post that puts him line for the top job.

Analysts say Mugabe does not want a strong successor because he fears
possible prosecution or persecution on charges of abuse of office, and
prefers a candidate from his Mashonaland home region whom he can manipulate
after retirement.

POLITICAL GAIN, ECONOMIC PAIN

Mugabe's political balancing act takes place against the backdrop of a
severe economic crisis that has turned a country that was once one of
southern Africa's success stories into a basket case.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of inflation in the world,
unemployment of 70 percent, and acute shortages of food, fuel and foreign
currency -- all woes that critics blame on Mugabe's economic mismanagement.

Many Western donors have frozen economic aid to Zimbabwe because of Mugabe's
policies, a step the government says is unfair and invited by the
opposition.

The European Union has extended a series of sanctions against Mugabe's
government, including a visa ban on Mugabe and his top associates, while the
United States has lumped Zimbabwe with countries such as Iran and North
Korea as "outposts of tyranny."

Many wonder how long the country can battle on in isolation.

A columnist in Harare's state-controlled Herald newspaper admitted recently
that Zimbabwe would want to see sanctions lifted and return to the
international fold.

"Countries are run on the basis of international finance, underpinned by the
global banking industry," Nathaniel Manheru said.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, accuses Zimbabwe's
former colonial ruler of leading a Western campaign to oust him over his
government's seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless
blacks.

Thus far, there is little sign he is ready to back down.

Zimbabwe's anti-Western rhetoric has increased as the polls approach, with
Mugabe and other top officials accusing the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) of acting as a proxy for the government's enemies.

Critics say electoral reforms adopted under pressure from regional leaders
still don't meet international demands for a fair vote -- charges the
government dismisses as propaganda.

And although overt pre-election campaign violence against the opposition has
fallen this year compared to the last significant elections in 2000 and in
2002, analysts say Zimbabwe's political climate remains oppressive and
Mugabe's fears are to blame.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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March 20 , 2005

~~~ Newsletter 057 ~~~
The optimism of uncertainty

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Remember - you must be connected to the internet to view the images in this newsletter.

I will always find something to distract the people with

  • zanu pf chefs getting lots of farms for towing the party line and not exposing the small dictators foul deeds (also known as patronage)
  • A small number of Zimbabweans getting land back but without any input or government support
  • zanu pf induced shortages of basic commodities through mismanagement of the economy
  • Continued sanctions because Zimbabwe has become a pariah state
  • A safe haven for corrupt chefs who continue to gang rape Zimbabwe until she bleeds to death
  • Intermittent fuel, electricity and water supplies
  • Loss of sovereignty through colonisation by Malaysia, China and Iran (0ur new Masters from the East)

Bury Zimbabwe, Vote zanupf


If you merely record that people are hungry
and live a dog's life under tyranny,
and then climb a public platform to recite,
you are doing nothing useful.
~ Es'kia Mphahlele

NO to a minority presence in Parliament, YES to a change of tactics
Zvakwana activists have been moving around and noting some good turnouts at MDC rallies throughout the countryside. This is indeed good news. A question that must be asked, and asked again and again is how are YOU going to defend your vote? And how will the MDC help us to do this? NO to a minority presence in Parliament, YES to a change of tactics. Zvakwana is appealing to all Zimbabweans who go vote, spoil their ballot or witness (if you have been disenfranchised by the regime) to be ready to Stand UP and protect your vote.

We need a new kinda politics instead of politricks
One of the lessons of the 2005 General Election is to examine how polarized Zimbabwe is. If youíre not with MDC, then youíre accused of being against democratic change. Kana usingatsigiri zanu pf then you're one of Blair's puppets and you spit on sovereignty. This is indeed a sad state of affairs. What we should all be working toward is a country where it is ok to be different. Different in anyway you choose including your political orientation. We know that the MDC isnít all good and that zanu pf isnít all bad. What is important is that we learn how to recognize our own strength and grow our confidence in demanding accountability, transparency and good performance from our government and from all our MPs no matter what party they belong to.

Keep on talking about real issues Walk and Talk! Get UP and stand UP!
Yes, we want 100% freedom, nothing less. Write to us for Zvakwana recharge cards to make sure you keep informed during the election! In fact, if you want to receive election results and the like by cell phone, send us your cell number to news@zvakwana.org

News from the ground
Zvakwana got buckets of response to our suggestion that a spoiled ballot is a legitimate expression at the polls! Ya Ya Ya. Speak it OUT. Some people wrote in to say that they are not even going to bother visiting the polls seeing as their vote is so disregarded. Others said that they agreed with the spoiled ballot being a protest of a flawed process and they would do that on Election Day. And others wrote in very passionately to say that they think spoiling your ballot is a wasted vote, which would sit better in the MDC coffers.

Speak it OUT: here are some responses to our last newsletter:

This is what the youth are doing underground: delegitimising an already fraudulent election.
ĖSC

I hope that you will cease distributing such crap, and stop giving the fence-sitters and those unmotivated to get involved in politics an excuse for continuing to do nothing, spoiling your paper IS doing nothing. CHINJA MAITIRO! I am looking forward to the elections to make a change not to get more of the same!
-NJ

- I appreciate your comprehensive response and I do certainly agree that putting in a spoilt paper is MUCH better than not going to the poll at all!
- SSG

Whatever that Zvakwana stands for, I see it as a grouping of ungrateful and self-hating idiots. Donít think you are funny, you are nauseating.
-DN

I am sorry guys to tell you that I donít believe in elections before the fall of a dictator. Chop the dictator first and get into elections later. It is in the light of this that I no longer have anything to do with the MDC which as far as I am concerned is not different from zanu pf. And it is quite democratic to have a different view. I now stand behind the fearless dr madhuku and nca not tsvangirai the coward.
-RM


bob's bankrupt notes

According to the regime inflation is going down. Yeah right - zvikoni zvikoni mimba haibviswi negosoro and the small dictatorís hair is really black.

Popular support not party centrism
Presuming the election follows the predictable path of a hollow Zanu PF victory; most interesting is the MDCís role afterwards. It has a number of possible strategies. First, the "obstructionist parliamentarian" model, fighting for its cause from inside parliament. Even though this may find favour with MDC members concerned about their livelihood in the parliamentary gravy train, this role is likely to serve simply to grant a stamp of approval to Mugabe, the election process and Zanu PF misrule. A second option is not to enter parliament and publicly contest the election result, using party structures and its union base to mobilise mass protests - the "Ukrainian option". But the MDC has hitherto shown little capacity or stomach for this type of action, and it is uncertain whether Tsvangirai can make the leap to mass insurrection. Of course, the Zimbabwean people have the power of change in their hands. But there is also a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of SADC countries to show proper commitment to their own principles of African democracy in order not to render them valueless. - D Games of Africa At Work and Dr Mills the national director of the South African Institute of International Affairs

Zvanzi ne zanupf macomputer aya ndeekutenga mavhoti!
Ruzhinji rweZimbabwe mati manzwa here adhivheti irikuridzwa muradio mazuva ano? Hanzi nezanu pf vavhoterei kuti mugopiwa macomputer! Itsitsi dzeyi tsvimbo rume kupukuta madzihwa emwana wemvana? Kana pane vaifunga kuti rudo rwamugabe rwokuti vana vedu vadzidze zvemacomputer chizivai kuti aiwa, anoda kutenga mavhoti edu! Zvakwana zvekuti kadhara aka kafunge kuti kanogona kutenga vhoti yedu! Zimbabwe, nguva yakwana yekubvisa vanhu ava muhurumende.

Yo! Listen UP
Are you sick and tired of the endless bob-aganda on dead bc radio? Sure at least the MDC can also put their jingles on now, but the news is still the same zanu pf hate messages. How bout tuning into SW Radio Africa for a while to get a different take on the news, the elections, and the latest nyayas. The Iranian backed and Chinese sponsored regime is jamming the station. Obviously they see them as a threat! These are the frequencies to listen on while they try and overcome this problem. To stay updated on what frequencies they are broadcasting on, visit www.swradioafrica.org regularly.

Evening Short Wave
90 metre band 3230 1800 - 2100
49 metre band 6145 1800 - 1900
60 metre band 4880 (may also be used)
90 metre band 3300 (may also be used)

25 metre band 11845 1800 - 1900
25 metre band 11705 1900 - 2000
25 metre band 11995 2000 - 2100

They are also on Medium Wave in the mornings. 1197Khz between 5-7am. This signal is being improved and country coverage is increasing all the time.

A lesson from the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine
The Orange Revolution stands for the faith of the people in their own strength.
- Yuliya Tymoshenko


Four conditions necessary for People Power
The Lebanese "Intifada for independence" has achieved its first victory with the resignation of the Damascus-controlled government and the mass mobilization of people in Beirut. People power, however, is more than protests. It's the strategic use of a wide variety non-violent tactics such as strikes, boycotts, other mass actions, and civil disobedience. Mohandas Gandhi said, "Even the most powerful cannot rule without the cooperation of the ruled." People power unfolds when the population withdraws this cooperation, refuses to obey, and uses non-violent resistance to make "business as usual" impossible for the opponent. Civilian-based movements do not succeed because a political system is open or because an opponent is soft. It is in closed, repressive situations that they usually emerge. Zimbabwe is a good example of this. There are four necessary conditions for success.

  1. The first is planning. It's not enough to gather spontaneously on the streets, whether in the hundreds or the thousands. Planning the selection and sequencing of a range of non-violent actions is based on a strategy to de-legitimize the oppressor and undermine its sources of support and control, namely, the organizations, institutions and sectors of society that make decisions and carry out orders.
  2. A second condition is unity of purpose. Civilian-based struggles need to have widely held political goals in order to win the support and participation of the majority. These goals must appeal to most people regardless of their political or religious affiliations.
  3. Third, non-violent discipline is absolutely essential. It builds longevity. In contrast to violent uprisings, whereby a minority acts while the majority is sidelined, only non-violent action will enlist the active participation of average citizens.
  4. Lastly, non-violent movements cannot be created or directed by external sources; they have to be homegrown. The population needs to believe in the cause and righteousness of the struggle in order to stand up in the face of repression and say "enough," as many are now doing Zimbabwe and in Egypt.

With acknowledgement to Abderahim and Shaazka

Bark like a dog - then roll over Zimbabwe. Do it! We don't think so little rat!

Chishamiso chikuru ndechokuti munyaya dzematongerwo enyika, vanhu 8 million tatova nhapwa dzemapoliticians who only have their own interests at heart. Zvichatora chii kuti tibvise ngetani dzakatisunga, tiite Stand UP for a better future? While it is important to have strong leadership from our opposition political leaders and civil society, it comes down to numbers. And isusu tirikutadza kuratidza maopressor edu kutu tese we are sick and tired of their mis-rule.

Build our own alternative structures
One of the obstacles to democracy is that people believe that their contribution to the political process is simply to vote every few years. Instead we need to form our own grassroots movements that are truly democratic Ė where decisions are reached through consensus and where everyone participates fully. If we rely on the Government to become more democratic we will be waiting forever. We need to engage in the political process in ways other than voting.

~ darting politicians
The hell with ballots! Polling stations should be set up with dartboards as the means to select candidates. People who are more committed to a particular candidate will be encouraged to practice more to ensure that they donít vote for someone else! From S

~ let it all hang out
We need to demand that all government documents are posted on the Internet or are available for inspection by members of the public. The same goes for the minutes of all meetings. From T (then maybe weíd find out how the carbon tax levy is being spent)

Fuck quiet diplomacy

MDC Stands UP to South Africa
When the South African election observers arrived, the MDC refused to meet them. MDC said that the South Africans have already made their position clear. mbeki himself has said there is no reason to think this election will not be free and fair. Zvakwana sends a big pom pom to the MDC for its bold and principled stance. We hope they hold firm to this position and become even more determined to reject any election rigging. This should be just a small part of a much bigger effort to expose electoral irregularities to the rest of the world - and to lead Zimbabweans in getting UP to resist them!

The guest list: no critics allowed
President Robert Mugabe's government hand-picks observer missions for the March 31 parliamentary election - excluding countries and groups critical of his rule.
INVITED: Zimbabwe welcomes teams from pro-Mugabe countries such as South Africa, China, Iran and Venezuela.
NOT WELCOME: Countries and groups that said elections in 2000 and 2002 were flawed, including the European Union, the United States, the South African Council of Churches and the Carter Center.


Do you want to get some election nyayas? Join the Z movement. Email news@zvakwana.org


Watch out for Zvakwana papers on the streets!



Zvakwana, Sokwanele, Enough!!

Make sure you SPEAK OUT - keep discussion alive, keep information flowing.

Please remember Zvakwana welcomes feedback, ideas and support for actions.



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Enough is enough, Zvakwana, Sokwanele.

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IOL

Mugabe gives hungry masses food for thought††† Christelle Terreblanche
††††††††† March 20 2005 at 11:36AM

††††† Masvingo - The sensational land grabs that highlighted the 2000
Zimbabwe national elections have made way for something far more subtle, yet
insidious. In the deep rural areas of the drought-stricken country, election
2005 is characterised by hunger and the politics of food.

††††† Not only is the hunger partly the result of the botched land
redistribution programme, it appears in itself to represent another grab for
control by the ruling Zanu-PF of the most essential means of living.
Opposition supporters claim they have to produce Zanu-PF cards to get maize,
and attending an opposition rally could cost them many meals.

††††† In the south-eastern Masvingo province drought has persisted for three
years and stocks of maize meal are running out after another failed harvest
and amid rising unemployment. The crisis came to a head this week in the
small rural villages surrounding Great Zimbabwe.

†††††† At a rally in Bikita village, President Robert Mugabe for the first
time acknowledged there was a food crisis, after months of stern denial. As
he was speaking, however, the state-run radio was still pumping out the
daily assurance that there was a bumper harvest and the Grain Marketing
Board (GMB) had ample reserves.

††††† Mugabe was confronted in Bikita by the undeniable fact that the
province had run completely out of grain earlier this month. "We are aware
that many people have nothing in their fields," he said.

††††† "The government will not let people die of hunger, especially since
they live in the area of Great Zimbabwe. At the moment the GMB is saying it
has enough stocks to last the nation over the next three months."

††††† Mugabe said one of the main problems in getting grain to rural towns
was the lack of transport. There has been no petrol in Masvingo since
Thursday, except at the government-run fuel station.

††††† Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), visited nearby Nemamwa village the next day and urged supporters not
to be intimidated by traditional leaders.

††††† "There is a scramble for food," the MDC leader said. "Chiefs and
traditional leaders are being used selectively by the heavy Zanu-PF
administrative structures to use food to coerce support.

††††††††††† 'The government will not let people die of hunger'
††††† "That is what we have been condemning. We are doing everything to
ensure that food is not becoming a weapon to intimidate, but as you can see
there is a crisis on the ground."

††††† Lucia Masekesa, the chairperson of the MDC's Masvinga Women's
Assembly, said food was being channelled only to Zanu-PF supporters, through
traditional leaders. "All of them are Zanu-PF because some got land and most
got vehicles.

††††† "It is part of the campaigning which started early last year already,"
she said. "The chiefs have the power to go to the GMB to get maize and
distribute it to Zanu-PF supporters. Others go hungry."

††††† Like everyone else, she believes the government is importing maize
despite its assurances of a bumper harvest.

††††† Trying to get clarity from Masvinga's main GMB depot was futile.
Managers were in consultation with the Zanu-PF provincial governor, who has
to approve all distribution. Later the Zanu-PF candidate for the area turned
up in his campaign vehicle to load up supplies.

††††† When Independent Newspapers tried to photograph this, soldiers at the
facility became threatening. Bags of maize being delivered by train were
unmarked, so it could not be determined if the maize had been imported.

††††† International aid workers in the area who provided food during the
past three dry seasons started to scale down their operations late last year
after the passing of a draconian law that limits their activities.

††††† Members of three aid organisations spoke to The Sunday Independent on
condition of anonymity.

††††† "If you print my name you may as well dig my grave," one said.

††††† Another said Zanu-PF was mainly deploying food "as a campaign tool" in
the rural areas, where people were "definitely not self-sufficient at the
moment" and "many are starving".

††††† "Nobody is harvesting," an aid worker said. "No one but the government
has access to the strategic grain reserve. There is nothing like free and
fair distribution."

††††† The aid workers said that until December last year the maize had been
given out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to agencies to
distribute to those most in need.

††††† Then in December the government suspended all contracts with
dispensing NGOs, ordering the WFP to clear its stock of food. At the same
time it assured the nation there were ample reserves.

††††† Since then it has asked for no donor food, leaving the national maize
reserves to run critically low.

†††††††††.. This article was originally published on page 1 of Sunday
Independent on March 20, 2005

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news.com.au

Opposition defy Mugabe
From correspondents in Nyanyadzi
March 21, 2005
From: Agence France-Presse

ZIMBABWEAN opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said President Robert
Mugabe's ruling party would fail to wrest control of a key rural
constituency in March 31 parliamentary polls despite the jailing of its
sitting opposition lawmaker on false charges.

Tsvangirai urged voters to back the wife of jailed white lawmaker Roy
Bennett, who is running for the March 31 parliamentary polls on behalf of
her husband, after he was imprisoned for shoving the justice minister during
a heated debate.
"On the 31st of March, the people of Chimanimani shall speak with one voice,
the people of Zimbabwe shall speak ... Mugabe must go," said Tsvangirai.

"Chimanimani will never be a ZANU-PF constituency," he told a cheering crowd
of about 5000 gathered in Nyanyadzi, some 400km southeast of the capital
Harare.

Tsvangirai, accused by Mugabe of being a puppet of former British colonial
rulers, drummed up support for Heather Bennett saying her husband has been
"incarcerated on trumped-up charges, but we are with him forever."

Bennett is contesting the rural Chimanimani constituency which her husband
represented in parliament since 2000 until October last year, when
parliament - dominated by the ruling ZANU-PF - voted to jail him.

Roy Bennett, a leading light of Tsvangirai's main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC)'s party, won a case in the country's electoral court
last week to have polling in Chimanimani deferred by a month to allow him to
file nomination papers and run himself.

Mugabe has described the court's decision as "nonsense" and has vowed to
appeal the ruling, saying the country "cannot be held to ransom by someone
who is in prison."

Tsvangirai insisted on Sunday that Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party stood no chance of taking the Chimanimani
seat from the MDC.

Heather Bennett in turn said her family's efforts had made the MDC, which
has posed the most serious challenge to Mugabe's nearly 25-year-old
stranglehold on power, stronger than ever.

"When ZANU-PF took away our farm, they thought they would destroy the MDC in
Chimanimani, but they were wrong, MDC is three times stronger now," she
said.

"The Bennett family will never forsake you. If you vote for me... I promise
I will always be there for you and when my husband is released, we will work
together for you."

The Bennetts lost their large coffee plantation in this coffee- and
tea-growing district in the wake of controversial land reforms launched in
2000 which saw nearly 4000 of the 4500 white Zimbabwean large scale
commercial farmers thrown out of their properties and their properties
handed over to landless blacks.

Mugabe's critics have partly blamed the land grabs for food shortages, which
the octogenarian leader publicly acknowledged last week, less than year
after he turned away international relief aid saying the country had
produced a bumper harvest.

Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of cruelty for telling foreign aid organisations
last May not to "choke us with food."

"Mugabe turned away all the NGOs who were feeding the people, how cruel can
one get," said Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai, predicting a crushing defeat for Mugabe's party, said the only
choices for the long-time leader after the polls would be to resign or
negotiate a transitional government.

Mugabe's party currently holds 98 seats in the 150-strong parliament while
the MDC has 51 and one belongs to a small opposition party. Mugabe is aiming
for a two-thirds majority in the upcoming polls.
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News24

MDC training 'thugs'
20/03/2005 21:42† - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's ruling party has accused its main rival and some
non-governmental organisations of training "thugs and hooligans" to
violently disrupt key parliamentary polls on March 31, a state-run newspaper
reported on Sunday.

The Sunday Mail said the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), "working together with some non-governmental organisations, has been
training some "desperate and unemployed" Zimbabweans to unleash violence
during the ballot.

Zimbabwe's last two elections in 2000 and 2002 were tainted by charges of
violence, intimidation and electoral fraud.

The upcoming elections will be closely watched as a litmus test of
Zimbabwe's commitment to a southern African regional bloc to adhere to
accepted principles on holding democratic elections.

Ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) election
spokesperson Webster Shamu told the newspaper that "the thugs and hooligans
... have been assigned various missions around the country."

"Information at hand is that in certain cases the thugs and hooligans have
been instructed to put on Zanu-PF regalia and wield our placards when they
engage in violence," Shamu said.

"We have forwarded the information to the law enforcement agents for further
investigation."

'Cheap political propaganda

Nelson Chamisa, head of the opposition MDC's youth chapter, dismissed the
claims as "cheap political propaganda".

"In fact Zanu-PF is pre-empting its own strategy. The party has a history of
relying on violence and we have information that they intend to cause
violence if they lose the elections," Chamisa told AFP.

"Our youth are busy at the moment busy campaigning peacefully for the
elections. I wonder whether that can be misconstrued for training of thugs."

The MDC, formed in 1999 has posed the stiffest challenge to President Robert
Mugabe's nearly 25-year-rule, although it has not fared well in by-elections
after 2002.

Weeks before Zimbabwe's last parliamentary polls in 2000, then information
minister Chenhamo Chimutengwende claimed the MDC was training militias at
unnamed white-owned commercial farms but offered no evidence to back up the
claim.
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IOL

Mugabe's son set for political future††† Basildon Peta
††††††††† March 21 2005 at 08:58AM

††††† Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's teenage son, Robert Mugabe Jr,
may be too young to assume a meaningful political role, but his father seems
determined to build a political dynasty for his sake among the older members
of the Mugabe family.

††††† For the first time since independence in 1980, Mugabe has fielded four
close relatives to contest parliamentary seats in the March 31 poll.
Theories abound, but the most common is that the Zimbabwe leader wants a
serious family presence in the ruling party to prepare a future role for
Robert Jr.

††††† Mugabe sired Robert Jr with his then secretary, Grace, while his first
wife, Sally, lay on her deathbed. The boy's existence was kept secret until
Sally died and Mugabe had married Grace.

†††††† The manner in which Mugabe used underhand tactics to sideline those
who wanted to challenge his relatives at party primaries adds credence to
the theory. In one case, in Makonde constituency, near Mugabe's rural home,
incumbent Zanu-PF MP and former journalist Kindness Paradza was barred from
standing to pave way for Mugabe's nephew, Leo Mugabe.

††††† At first Paradza was told the seat had been reserved for a woman to
create gender balance in parliament. But to the surprise of all, Leo was
then allowed to stand.

††††† It later emerged that Leo had been surreptitiously campaigning in the
area while Paradza had been fighting a futile battle to have the gender
decision reversed.

††††† Paradza was eventually barred, not because he was male but because
disciplinary action had been taken against him after supporters of his had
clashed with Leo's. No disciplinary action was taken against Mugabe's
nephew.

††††† Leo's young brother, Patrick, was nominated to contest the Manyame
seat under equally murky circumstances. His potential challengers at the
primary elections were sidelined and Patrick cruised to an easy victory
despite being a political novice like his brother Leo.

††††† In fact, Leo's claim to fame was his chairmanship of the Zimbabwe
Football Association from which he was fired after fraud allegations.

††††† The brothers' mother, Sabina, who is the sister considered closest to
the president, is contesting the Zvimba seat. Another relative of Mugabe,
Ignatious Chombo, is contesting a seat near Mugabe's rural home.

††††† All are expected to cruise to easy victories as they have been
allocated constituencies in the bedrock of Mugabe's support base.

††††† Mugabe's Mashonaland West province is the best developed of Zimbabwe's
rural provinces. It has a referral hospital 3km from Mugabe's rural
homestead. The roads are also the best maintained. Being a candidate on a
ruling party ticket there guarantees anyone an easy victory.

††††† Veteran nationalist James Chikerema, also a Mugabe relative, is
convinced that Mugabe wants a future political role for his son. Chikerema
told a British newspaper recently that Mugabe was set on pushing his son
forward politically. - Mercury Foreign Service

††††††††.. This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury
on March 21, 2005

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