Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:21am EDT
By Paul Simao
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's rival opposition camps would form a
united front against President Robert Mugabe if he is forced into a run-off
by Saturday's election, a top official with one of the campaigns said on
Mugabe faces an unprecedented challenge in the ballot from Simba Makoni, a
former ruling party ally, and old rival Morgan Tsvangirai. Both accuse
Mugabe of wrecking the once prosperous African country but have so far
dismissed talk of a coalition.
Makoni's national campaign coordinator said they would join forces, however,
if Mugabe fails to win the outright majority he needs to avoid a second
"It's an automatic," Nkosana Moyo told reporters in Johannesburg.
"Zimbabweans would like to see an end to Mugabe's mismanagement, so any
configuration that leads to a run-off will see Mugabe on one side and
everybody else on the other."
Moyo said there were understandings with Tsvangirai's main faction of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on forming a national unity government
if Mugabe lost. There was no immediate comment from the MDC.
Makoni, expelled from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party last month, and Tsvangirai,
have promised to tackle the crisis marked by chronic food and fuel
shortages, a virtually worthless currency and inflation of more than 100,000
But Mugabe, who blames economic woes on sabotage by his Western foes, says
he and his ZANU-PF are braced for victory.
Mugabe has boasted during the campaign that the opposition MDC will never be
in power as long as he is alive and told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that he was
"overconfident" of winning the election.
Opponents, who accuse Mugabe of rigging past elections, say such comments
reinforce their fears that the vote will not be fair. Military chiefs have
said they would never accept a Mugabe defeat.
Mugabe and his officials have been slapped with sanctions by Britain, the
United States and other Western countries for cracking down on opponents and
alleged human rights abuses.
The opposition campaigns have already raised what they see as election
irregularities, pointing to reports that millions of excess ballots have
been printed as well as plans to have police assist voters in polling
Moyo said the lack of media coverage of the opposition campaigns, a flurry
of late voter registrations and the failure of election authorities to
properly educate Zimbabweans were further concerns that could mar the polls.
The presidential election is being held alongside parliamentary and
(Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
March 27, 2008
Jan Raath in Harare
A white farmer is set today to become the first member of his community to
be jailed for challenging President Mugabe about the right to continue
producing food in a country stricken by shortages.
Deon Theron, 53, has reached the end of an extraordinary trial in which, his
lawyers say, he has been denied basic justice by court officials desperate
to score political points before the most important elections for Zimbabwe
since independence in 1980.
On Tuesday, after what little evidence in the trial had been presented, the
Harare magistrate refused to allow the lawyer of Mr Theron to deliver his
closing submission and answer accusations that her client had occupied his
farm illegally after it was declared state property. Instead, he summarily
found Mr Theron guilty, stating that he had "blatantly" defied the law.
"I haven't come across a trial like this since independence," Sheila Jarvis,
the lawyer for Mr Theron, said.
Mr Theron has a herd of 400 dairy cattle on his 400-hectare farm in the
Beatrice district, about 70km south of Harare. It supplies 8,000 litres of
fresh milk to Harare - 2 per cent of the daily consumption of the capital -
every day. Milk is scarce in the supermarkets and has to be bought at
exorbitant prices on the black market.
Another 12 dairy farmers in the district are being hounded by ruling party
apparatchiks trying to grab their farms, livestock and houses.
Mr Theron, a Zimbabwean-born Afrikaner, is a vice-president of the
Commercial Farmers' Union. The union used to have 4,500 members, mostly
highly productive white farmers. Since Mr Mugabe began to seize land
forcibly in 2000 only 600 remain. Nearly all of those are harassed
constantly as they struggle to produce food while the Government, which is
in effect bankrupt, cannot meet payments to pay for grain imports from
His "illegal" occupation of the farm that he bought in 1984 carries a
sentence of up to two years in prison. Elias Musakwa, a senior central bank
official, claims that he has been allocated it by the Government - in
addition to a sugar farm he was given. Mr Musakwa, a parliamentary candidate
for Zanu (PF) in the elections on Saturday, has threatened Mr Theron and
Martha, his wife, repeatedly, sent dozens of militiamen to harass him and
his workers and put up a tent next to the farm's home, claiming that
soldiers were about to move in.
Soon after Mr Musakwa arrived last October Mr Theron was charged under one
of the many new laws that have eroded the rights of white farmers.
It was revealed that the first magistrate in the case had taken over a
white-owned farm. The second told Mr Theron in court - before the trial had
begun - to "face the music for your illegal occupation of the land". The
third magistrate has refused to allow the defence team of Mr Theron to
present evidence or call witnesses.
"The prosecutor was allowed by the magistrate to interrupt continuously,"
Mrs Jarvis said.
"About 90 per cent of the record is objections, allegations and counter
allegations from the prosecutor. Every application we made has been ignored.
It was just 'another application from a stupid, white farmer'.
"You can only make this kind of decision if you presume the man is guilty,"
- Counting will begin immediately after voting ends at 11,000 polling
stations at 7pm on Saturday
- 5.9 million people are eligible to vote
- A results sheet will be attached to the doors of the polling stations for
public inspection. Results are sent to a constituency central station for
collation, then to Harare for public announcement
- Final results should be announced by Sunday or Monday
- In the presidential election, contested by Robert Mugabe, Morgan
Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni, if the winner fails to take more than half the
votes a second round will be held between the candidates with the most votes
- Parliamentary and council elections are decided by simple majority.
Parliamentary elections are for the Senate (60 seats contested) and the
House of Assembly (210 contests). In the local elections 1,958 places are
- Polling stations will have four translucent ballot boxes, one each for
presidential, senate, assembly and council contests
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: March 26, 2008
MUREWA, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's main opposition leader pledged Wednesday to
revamp the country's crumbling economy by introducing a new currency within
six months if he wrests the presidency from Robert Mugabe in weekend
"The economy is dead," Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change, told thousands of drum-beating supporters in Murewa, 80
kilometers (50 miles) east of Harare, the capital. "My government will
introduce a new currency as a way of improving and stabilizing our economy."
A black market trader said one American dollar was fetching 50 million
Zimbabwean dollars Wednesday. Inflation-battered Zimbabweans, battling
shortages of basic goods and plummeting living standards, vote in
presidential, parliamentary and local council polls on Saturday.
The presidential candidates are Tsvangirai, former Finance Minister Simba
Makoni who defied the ruling party to run as an independent, and Mugabe, who
has held power since independence from Britain in 1980.
The nation's rural population has traditionally voted for Mugabe in previous
elections, which critics, including Tsvangirai, say were flawed.
Zimbabwe has barred international observers from the European Union and the
United States from Saturday's vote. Several international media
organizations have also been barred from covering the elections.
Opposition legislator David Coltart was pessimistic the vote would be free
"There may still be surprises though because there is a lot of energy and
excitement that we haven't seen since 2000," Coltart said in a telephone
Addressing a crowd of over 8,000 people in an area considered a ruling party
stronghold, Tsvangirai promised to curb mass unemployment and blamed
Mugabe's anti-West rhetoric for the country's problems.
"He blames everything on (former British Prime Minister) Tony Blair. He has
run out of ideas. People in Zimbabwe are more interested in basic things
like food and jobs."
Jerry Mapfumo, a 39-year old father of three, said he had walked for 20
kilometers (about 10 miles) for the Tsvangirai rally because he couldn't
afford transport costs. He also can't afford to send his children to school,
"The only hope we have lies in that man," Mapfumo said pointing at
Tsvangirai as he sang and danced with the ululating crowd.
In its hey day, Zimbabwe was a net exporter of food. Its agriculture-based
economy was disrupted when Mugabe launched his agrarian reforms in 2000,
forcefully taking fertile land from the country's white minority for
distribution to the country's black majority.
Tsvangirai said the land reform had only benefited politicians closer to
Mugabe accuses British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessor Blair
of pushing for "regime change" in Zimbabwe. Britain, the former colonial
ruler, denies the charge, accusing Mugabe of mismanaging the economy,
failing to fight corruption and stifling democracy.
by Fanuel Jongwe Wed Mar 26, 2:00 PM ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition added its voice on Wednesday to growing
international concerns about this weekend's elections, despite government
assurances that the ballot would be free and fair.
Both the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and independent
challenger Simba Makoni accused President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF
party of trying to rig the ballot, using the security services to intimidate
voters and depriving his opponents of air time.
The US State Department criticised what it called "significant shortcomings"
in the electoral process, while the London-based rights group Amnesty
International said the police were intimidating opposition supporters.
"The conditions are definitely not conducive for free and fair elections.
Our supporters are still being harassed and the police are being used as
weapons for intimidation," MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told AFP.
Biti said Mugabe, who has ruled since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain
in 1980, was reneging on agreements for the framework for the elections
reached during talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
During those negotiations, "the MDC's position was that the police had been
abused and used systematically to generate intimidation and threats and we
agreed that they should not be allowed in polling stations," he said.
"But Mugabe has brought back the old order by allowing the police back in
polling station. It is our view that Mugabe who is a participant in the game
cannot change the rules when the game is being played."
The government has caused consternation in opposition ranks by allowing
police into polling stations -- ostensibly to assist any voter who is either
illiterate or infirm.
That decision to allow police inside polling booths was among the issues of
concern highlighted in a statement by the State Department which warned
could "preclude free and fair elections on March 29".
Similar fears were aired by Amnesty which said police were "clearly putting
unnecessary restrictions on the activities of the opposition party members,
while allowing supporters of the ruling party total enjoyment of their
The Zimbabwe police dismissed such accusations as part of a Western ploy to
discredit the elections.
"We get these statements each time we have elections and the idea is to
declare that the elections were not held in a free and fair atmosphere if
they don't like the results," chief police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told
"Everyone is campaigning freely. We have only had scattered incidents of
Makoni's camp meanwhile complained that its man was not being allowed to put
his message across to voters, in contravention of new electoral laws which
compels state media to give equal coverage to all participants.
The only daily newspaper in Zimbabwe is controlled by the government and
there are no independent television channels.
"We book, we pay and they say they won't accommodate them," said Denford
Magora, Makoni's spokesman.
Another of Makoni's aides indicated tht the former minister would back
Tsvangirai in the case of a second round of voting which will be needed if
no one gets an absolute majority in Saturday's presidential vote.
"Mugabe winning this election will be a disaster for Zimbabwe. His victory
will be a disgrace for Zimbabwe and Africa and we do not need that," his
campaign coordinator Nkosana Moyo said in Johannesburg.
"All the opposition candidates will support an opposition candidate in case
of a run-off with Mugabe. All of us in the opposition will support a run-off
Despite the criticism, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said complaints
over the conduct of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission -- whose executives
are appointed by Mugabe -- were intended to create a scapegoat when the
"It's just nitpicking. There is nothing you can point to what they have done
which points to bias," he said on state television.
The Times, SA
Tamlyn Stewart and Sapa Published:Mar
Opposition calls for Zimbabwe TRC
Zimbabwe would need something similar to South Africa's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission after the rule of President Robert Mugabe ends, an
opposition party said yesterday.
"This is something we feel is necessary for Zimbabwe [post-Mugabe],"
opposition candidate Simba Makoni's campaign manager, Nkosana Moyo, said.
George Katito, a researcher for the African Peer Review Mechanism, said a
truth and reconciliation commission would be a "very constructive way
forward" for Zimbabwe.
"It would be a non-threatening forum [in which] to address very sensitive
issues around land reform and potentially racial tensions that drove the
Katito said Makoni had, in recent weeks, adopted a "very reconciliatory
position" regarding how Mugabe would be dealt with if Makoni won the
The Movement for Democratic Change's candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, would
have a "less lenient" approach, said Katito.
But Ebrahim Fakir, of the Centre for Policy Studies, disagreed, saying: "The
idea of a one-size-fits-all TRC model is a mistaken one."
Fakir said that because the model was appropriate in South Africa did not
mean it could be "exported".
"The most critical thing for Zimbabweans is to restore stability and
confidence in the state."
Mail and Guardian
Matthew Burbidge, Sapa and AFP | Johannesburg, South Africa
26 March 2008 03:20
A war of words has erupted ahead of election day in Zimbabwe
this Saturday, with the opposition saying the government has already rigged
These elections were "never meant to be an even playing field",
said Nkosana Moyo, coordinator of presidential hopeful Simba Makoni's
campaign, in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Moyo told local and international journalists of a number of
"issues that are bothering us" ahead of the election.
He said he was concerned that police would be allowed into
voting stations, ostensibly to assist voters who were illiterate or infirm.
He said this went against Southern African Development Community (SADC)
protocols and there was "no doubt" that "state agents" would intimidate
He also said that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had not been
given enough time to educate voters about the "complicated" elections.
Zimbabweans are to choose a president, parliamentary and Senate
members as well as local councillors in Saturday's poll.
"In the urban areas, there isn't enough polling stations and
again, this is just a manipulation of the system because Zanu[-PF] knows
that their support is not in the urban areas," said Moyo.
"They've made it pretty impossible for people to access voting
points and go through in the hours allocated. To go through the complex
system, each voter would have to go through the system in about 20 seconds
... this is a clear impossibility ... these things have been structured.
Where Zanu is not strong, some people are not going to have a chance to
express their wishes."
He also said that some voters had still been able to register
after the voters' roll was closed on February 14.
Furthermore, reporters wishing to observe the election have only
been accredited up to Saturday. "Who's going to observe the counting?" he
asked. "Are you [reporters] going to go back where you came from so you can
He said the government had created a "façade that there is open
elections, but in fact there is a lot of manipulation going on behind this".
"If you feel that because we are participants [in the election]
we are biased in our observations, it's pleasing to note that the Pan
African Parliament delegation has [also] made pretty well most of these
observations that there are serious flaws in the way these elections are
"We are pleased to see that and we also hope the SADC delegation
will take its cue, and do a better job of observing these elections."
Meanwhile, Movement for Democratic Change secretary general
Tendai Biti was quoted as saying on Tuesday: "The conditions are definitely
not conducive for free and fair elections. Our supporters are still being
harassed and the police are being used as weapons for intimidation."
The United States State Department also criticised what it
called "significant shortcomings" in the electoral process, while the
London-based rights group Amnesty International said police were
intimidating opposition supporters.
The decision to allow police inside polling booths was among the
issues of concern highlighted in a statement by the State Department that
warned it could "preclude free and fair elections on March 29".
Similar fears were aired by Amnesty, which said in a report that
police were "clearly putting unnecessary restrictions on the activities of
the opposition-party members, while allowing supporters of the ruling party
total enjoyment of their rights".
'Everyone is campaigning freely'
Zimbabwe police dismissed such accusations as part of a Western
ploy to discredit the elections.
"We get these statements each time we have elections and the
idea is to declare that the elections were not held in a free and fair
atmosphere if they don't like the results," chief police spokesperson Wayne
Bvudzijena was quoted as saying. "Everyone is campaigning freely. We have
only had scattered incidents of violence."
Makoni's camp has complained its man was not being allowed to
put his message across to voters in contravention of a new electoral law
that compels state media to give equal coverage to all participants.
The only daily newspaper, the Herald, is controlled by the
government and there are no independent television channels.
"We book, we pay and they say they won't accommodate them," said
Denford Magora, Makoni's spokesperson. "Over the past two weeks, we have had
eight adverts being turned down and we don't know why."
"Under different guises Zanu has hogged the major part of access
to the media. Anything up to 90% is under the guise of news and other 10% is
divided among the opposition parties -- this was never meant to be an even
playing field," said Moyo in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
However, he maintained that "all Zimbabweans are united. We need
to move beyond the Mugabe era."
South African embassy officials were granted consular access on
Wednesday to the pilot arrested in Zimbabwe as he was about to ferry
Tsvangirai to election rallies, a foreign affairs spokesperson said.
"We have through our embassy in Harare requested consular access
to the pilot, which has now been granted by Zimbabwean authorities,"
spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said.
Brent Smyth and three other people were arrested at Charles
Prince airport outside Harare on Tuesday morning, in an incident that the
MDC believes will hamper Tsvangirai's ability to lobby voters ahead of
elections on Saturday.
Mamoepa said his department was in contact with Smyth's
employer -- ATS aviation services -- and would offer full consular
assistance to Smyth, after establishing that he is South African. It would
also continue trying to find out why he was detained.
Zimbabwe's police were expected to release reasons for his
arrest at 2pm but postponed this to between 3pm and 3.30pm.
Smyth sent an SMS to his employer saying he had been detained
and taken into custody at Harare central police station. The reason for his
arrest was not immediately clear, but MDC treasurer general Roy Bennett said
he had had a run-in with officials on Saturday over his flight plan.
ATS CEO Wessel van den Bergh said the company had hoped to glean
information from the police's press statement, as it had no further
Smyth's fiancée, Drieksie Janse van Rensburg, said she had
received an SMS from Smyth early on Wednesday saying he had been taken in
for questioning. She said his clearance permit to be in the country had
expired at midnight on Tuesday while he was in custody.
By Torby Chimashu
Last updated: 03/27/2008 01:34:03
NATIONAL Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku was held
briefly by police in Harare on Wednesday after state intelligence agents
accused him of blocking President Robert Mugabe passing motorcade.
Madhuku was surrounded by Mugabe's armed guards and later taken to Harare
Central Police Station where he was quized for one-and-half hours over the
In an interview shortly after the incident, Madhuku told New Zimbabwe.com
that he was targeted for "no apparent reason" because he had complied and
made way for the speeding motorcade.
Said Madhuku: "I had just complied and parked on the side when these guys
surrounded my car and took my keys away. In fact, I was on the right lane
yet there were so many motorists on the left lane where his motorcade was.
"I felt they wanted to victimise me for nothing. I totally refused to accept
their allegations that I was obstructing the President's motorcade. Had I
not stood my ground, they could have easily abused me."
Madhuku was represented by Harare lawyer Lovemore Mazana who witnessed the
Mugabe, who faces the sternest challenge in the polls on Saturday to his
28-year rule, enacted a law in 2002 which makes it a crime to gesture rudely
or swear at his high-speed, heavily armed motorcade.
The road traffic regulations state that when the presidential motorcade -
usually comprising about 24 vehicles - passes, anyone nearby "shall not make
any gesture or statement within the view or hearing of the state motorcade
with the intention of insulting any person travelling with an escort or any
member of the escort".
Mugabe's motorcade - colloquially known as "Bob and the Wailers" because of
the sirens of the accompanying motorcycle escorts - includes 4X4 vehicles
packed with heavily-armed soldiers, sedans carrying plainclothes secret
police and an ambulance, at the back.
At the centre is usually Mugabe's bullet-proof stretch Mercedes Benz with
Several motorists have been severely assaulted since the regulations came
into effect. Last year, a group of soldiers lashed at fish merchants who
waved fish at his passing motorcade near Kuwadzana, Harare.
The octogenarian leader has become increasingly uneasy following a rising
tide against his rule, which is blamed on years of economic pillaging and
chronic corruption among members of the ruling party and cabinet.
SW Radio Africa (London)
26 March 2008
Posted to the web 26 March 2008
The human rights watchdog Amnesty International have added their voice to a
growing list of observers who have criticised the situation on the ground in
Zimbabwe, ahead of the election on March 29.
The organisation was concerned mostly with issues relating to the rights to
freedom of expression, association and assembly, which they concluded were
being unnecessarily restricted by state agents.
In a report released Wednesday, Amnesty strongly criticised state security
organisations, including the police, for intimidating and harassing
perceived political enemies and civil society organisations. The report said
these groups are operating under constant surveillance.
Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty's Zimbabwe researcher, was recently in the country
and he witnessed some of the incidents contained in the report. He said
compared to previous elections, the situation was "generally calm" and
opposition officials were seen in districts that used to be "no-go areas" to
them. However there continues to be low-level intimidation and harassment
that could impact on the elections.
Mawanza said state agents sit in meetings conducted by civil groups and
sometimes visit their offices to interrogate them. This is a signal that
they are being watched and affects their ability to do their work. One
organisation that met with Amnesty officials in Bulawayo was later
questioned as to why, and what type of information they had given out.
Earlier this month, five people operating a public address system at a rally
addressed by presidential candidate Simba Makoni were briefly detained at
Plumtree police station, only to be released without charge after Makoni
himself intervened. But the police do not interfere with the activities of
supporters of the ruling party.
Mawanza referred to another incident that took place on March 7, in which
three members of the Tsvangirai MDC, who were putting up election posters in
Bulawayo, were ordered to pull them down by members of the CIO. Some members
of the group were then forced to chew the posters and swallow them. No
arrests were made.
Mawanza said the authorities in Zimbabwe are in breach of the constitution
and national law of the land, as well as regional and international statutes
relating to human rights.
Amnesty is calling on the authorities, particularly the police, to operate
in an impartial manner, investigate all reports of violence and intimidation
and bring the perpetrators to justice. Mawanza believes it is important to
document these abuses and encourage a change in policy and practice so that
a culture of impunity does not develop.
Meanwhile, the United States is reported to have expressed fears on Tuesday
that the actions of the Zimbabwean government will prevent free and fair
elections. According to the AFP news agency, State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack cited "inaccurate voter rolls and violence and intimidation of
competing political parties and civil society", which he said had been
reported by independent organisations. McCormack also criticised the
overproduction of postal ballots which it is alleged are going to be used by
the police, military, diplomats and electoral officials, to rig the
SW Radio Africa (London)
26 March 2008
Posted to the web 26 March 2008
The Tsvangirai MDC on Wednesday accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of
embarking on a desperate attempt to manipulate Saturday's vote by allegedly
bribing polling officers and agents dotted across the country.
The MDC said it is aware of a slush fund running into trillions of dollars
that will be used to bribe polling officers plus the polling agents of
'As the people's victory becomes imminent, the regime has gone desperate.
Throughout the country, the winds of change are blowing fast. The MDC's
rolling juggernaut is unstoppable despite all attempts to steal the election
once again,' a statement from the MDC said.
It added that Zanu PF, stung by the mammoth crowds turning up at MDC
rallies, has also lined up 100 of it's supporters in every ward for multiple
voting, after realising that the majority of Zimbabweans want to turn over a
'The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has since refused to grant us the
permission to test the so-called indelible polling ink. We have instructed
our lawyers to look into the various irregularities in this election,' the
The irregularities include the apparent acts of vote buying by Mugabe and
Zanu PF and the threats by the service chiefs that they would not salute
'puppets' or let those without war credentials rule the country.
'We are urging our people and our polling agents to resist the regime's
desperate attempts to manipulate the people's will. The people of Zimbabwe
are determined to vote for the change they can trust. They want to change
their lives. No amount of intimidation and bribery will stop the people's
movement from reaping the fruits of an arduous struggle for a new Zimbabwe
and a new beginning,' the statement added.
SW Radio Africa (London)
26 March 2008
Posted to the web 26 March 2008
The Tsvangirai MDC this week reported an increase in incidents of violence
against their candidates and supporters around the country.
Party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the upsurge in violence was noted
particularly in the Chipinge area of Manicaland, the Zvimba area of
Mashonaland West and the Bindura area of Mashonaland Central.
Chamisa named several ruling party officials that he alleged were directing
the violence in these areas. Enoch Porusingazi was named as the main
perpetrator of violence in Chipinge. He has been linked to youth assaults
for years now in that district.
ZANU-PF's National Commissar, Elliott Manyika, was named as the key
perpetrator of violence in Bindura and the Minister of Local Government,
Ignatius Chombo, was accused of directing the violence in the Zvimba area,
Mugabe's rural home.
The MDC spokesman confirmed reports that some of their candidates for the
House of Assembly and local government have not been able to campaign in
their own constituencies, fearing for their lives. Many are staying with
party colleagues or relatives away from the areas where they need to be
meeting and talking to voters.
Chamisa said they had reported the violence to the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission but nothing is being done. He also accused the police of working
with the perpetrators of violence, by arresting the innocent victims who
report on them. These victims then spend days and sometimes weeks in
custody, before being released without charge.
SW Radio Africa (London)
26 March 2008
Posted to the web 26 March 2008
Bulawayo's former Mayor and Zanu PF senatorial candidate for Khumalo
constituency, Joshua Malinga, has been implicated in a two-week terror
campaign in the area.
Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme reports that the wheelchair bound Malinga
is thought to have sanctioned two separate abductions of MDC activists in
Saucerstown and North End. In another incident in Saucerstown last week
Thursday his campaign team is alleged to have deliberately veered off the
road in a campaign truck and hit an MDC activist wearing a party t-shirt.
The youth, who is yet to be identified, was treated at Gallen House medical
centre in the city after suffering a broken leg. At the time of the incident
he was putting up MDC campaign posters.
Explaining the incidents Saungweme said Malinga's supporters are also
abducting MDC activists, then beating them up before handing them over to
the police. The strategy he says is to 'sanitize' the assaults and make them
look like citizens arrests. The police take over the process and insert
obscure crimes on the charge sheet. The strategy has been used in the
abduction of Duduzile Sibanda in Saucerstown and Tony Benson in North End.
Up till now Malinga has maintained a clean-cut image and as a wheelchair
user, suffering a polio-related disease, dedicated his life to fighting for
the rights of the disabled. If the allegations are true his admirers will be
In July 2002 Malinga was barred from the UK after attempting to travel to a
conference in New York, via Gatwick Airport. The UK government argued he was
part of the regime violating human rights in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile on Tuesday police at a roadblock assaulted 3 MDC supporters who
were travelling on a bus from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls. The police took
offence at the activists singing MDC songs and ordered them off the bus.
Saungweme said although one of them managed to run away from the scene the
other two were marshalled to a nearby police station and put in leg irons.
The police used planks to beat them all over the body. The two have since
been treated at Gallen House medical centre.
SW Radio Africa (London)
26 March 2008
Posted to the web 26 March 2008
The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute has written to
the director of Public Prosecutions in South Africa, to urge him to act on
evidence of serious international crimes perpetrated by Zimbabwean
Two weeks ago the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) sent a dossier
to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), naming Zimbabwean police
officers and other members of the security forces who have killed, tortured,
or persecuted opposition figures.
IBA executive director Mark Ellis has now written direct to NPA director
Vusi Pikoli, urging him to give the submission serious consideration. The
IBA wants Pikoli to use the opportunity to hold alleged perpetrators of
serious human rights violations to account, in accordance with the ICC Rome
Ellis added, 'We are concerned that without the assistance of the NPA to
bring perpetrators of these serious international crimes to justice, the
Zimbabwean officials implicated will evade accountability and could also use
South Africa as a 'safe haven.'
The Southern African Litigation Centre was established by the IBA in
partnership with the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. It was
designed to promote the effective implementation of human rights in the
region, with a focus on three principal areas: support for human rights
cases, advice on constitutional advocacy in the Southern African region; and
training in human rights and rule of law issues.
Recently Nicole Fritz, its director in Johannesburg, told Newsreel her
organisation had passed a dossier urging the NPA's priority crimes unit to
initiate investigations with a view to prosecuting senior Zimbabwean police,
army and CIO officials responsible for crimes against humanity.
She told us, 'We are not disclosing who is named in the dossier but it
includes people who have committed the most serious of crimes against
opposition figures, most of whom have sought refuge in South Africa.'
According to Fritz, the intention behind the initiative is to ensure some
form of accountability for the people of Zimbabwe, at a time when the
justice system in the country has all but collapsed.
It's believed the dossier also includes names of the political masters, the
individuals who have given orders to the rank and file of the security
forces to unleash violence against innocent civilians. Fritz said several of
the perpetrators named in the dossier have in the past travelled to South
Africa on official business, in some instances for military and security
exchange programmes between the two countries.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)
26 March 2008
Posted to the web 26 March 2008
On 20 March 2008, Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) sought
a High Court order to bar publication of the private weekly, "Zimbabwe
Independent", which was about to disclose details relating to the
organisation's director-general, Happyton Bonyongwe.
The ex-parte application was served on paper and listed the CIO as the
applicant and the "Zimbabwe Independent" as the respondent. Attached to the
application was a print-out of the unedited version of the story. In its 21
March issue, the "Zimbabwe Independent" reported that it was still trying to
determine how the story ended up with the CIO before the issue had been
In Bonyongwe's affidavit, he said the story was "manifestly and palpably
false and malicious" and should thus not be published.
Contacted for comment, the "Zimbabwe Independent" said there were issues
that were still being clarified regarding the matter.
Meanwhile, the state-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC) has
reportedly blacklisted several journalists by asking the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) to bar them from being accredited to cover the 29 March
Hopewell Chin'ono, a local freelance journalist was denied accreditation on
11 March by the ZEC on the MIC's instruction. According to his lawyers, the
ZEC advised the journalist that he was on the blacklist provided by the MIC.
Chin'ono is duly accredited by the MIC in terms of the repressive Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) as a freelance reporter
and his press card is valid for the duration of 2008.
In a letter to the ZEC, his lawyers argued that it was "inescapable that the
ZEC was deliberately impeding the full coverage of the election process"
through selective accreditation of journalists.
"We have perused all the laws relating to the elections and the media and we
have been unable to find in them any provision which allows the MIC to
interfere with the supposedly independent functions of the ZEC," said the
lawyers in their letter to ZEC.
For further information on the pre-election media clampdown, see:
26/03/2008 19:04 - (SA)
Mutare - Edgar Tekere, the first of Robert Mugabe's top lieutenants to break
ranks and take him on at the ballot box, is convinced the Zimbabwean leader
will never allow himself to lose an election.
"Every election Mugabe has been cheating," the 70-year-old Tekere told AFP
in an interview at his home in the eastern city of Mutare.
"He boasts that 'I have degrees in violence'. He might as well boast that 'I
also have so many degrees of cheating elections'".
Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader at 84, is being challenged at national
elections on Saturday by both long-time opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and his former finance minister Simba Makoni.
Makoni, who served in various government posts until quitting in 2002, was
following in the footsteps of Tekere who also quit Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party and stood for president in
Vote for MDC 'a waste'
The dual challenge from Tsvangirai and Makoni had led some observers to
predict that this year's elections would represent the biggest threat to
Mugabe's rule since he came to power at independence in 1980.
But Tekere said that recent comments by Mugabe that a vote for the
opposition would be a waste showed that the president could not longer
pretend to be a democrat and was effectively committing treason with such
"He called for an election as head of state ... and there he is undermining
the whole spirit of an election, is that not treason?" said Tekere who
finished a distant second to Mugabe in 1990.
Tekere first came to know Mugabe in the 1970s when the duo crossed the
border into Mozambique on foot in order to launch the liberation war against
the whites-only regime of Ian Smith in the former Rhodesia.
Zim's democracy 'in ICU'
They remained allies in the first years after independence, but Tekere
showed his independent streak by warning Mugabe back in 1983 that he was
driving the country towards the precipice.
Tekere, who was a few years ago declared that Zimbabwe's democracy was in
the intensive care unit, said now it could well be dead and buried.
"The leadership has gone rotten, very corrupt, down to the core. Is it not
time to ask the question: 'How is it that Mugabe has led the country for so
long and we have the rot deepening and deepening?'
"Is it not time to ... say if he is the leader of the corrupt, he is the
chief plunderer?" Tekere said.
Tekere had joined several other former senior Zanu-PF figures, including
former home affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa and former speaker of
parliament Cyril Ndebele, in throwing his weight behind Makoni.
In Makoni, he said, "we now have the hope that we can pick up the pieces and
plaster them together. We have got to salvage the country ... it's gone so
badly with Mugabe".
March 27, 2008
LONDON: Western governments have kept criticism of President Robert Mugabe
low-key in the run-up to Saturday's general election to avoid fuelling
support for him within the African country, experts and officials said
Despite widespread condemnation of his regime, they fear open attacks on
Mugabe, 84, or endorsements of challengers, including ex-finance minister
Simba Makoni or opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, could backfire.
The US, the EU and Britain, the former colonial power in Zimbabwe, have
questioned whether the presidential and legislative polls on Saturday will
be free and fair.
But they have held back from criticising him personally or endorsing the
"Whenever Britain says anything, it's been used by the ruling party, and
particularly Mugabe, to badmouth the opposition," said Patrick Smith, editor
of London-based newsletter Africa Confidential.
"If the West is seen to endorse any of the opposition parties, it's a bit of
a gift to Mugabe," he said.
"The West has kept out of the elections and I think that has probably been a
The US expressed fears yesterday that the Zimbabwean Government would
prevent free and fair elections.
"We are concerned that actions of the Zimbabwean Government will preclude
free and fair elections on March 29. Independent organisations report
extensive pre-election irregularities," State Department spokesman Sean
The independent report cites "inaccurate voter rolls, violence and
intimidation of competing political parties and civil society", Mr McCormack
It also lists "overproduction of postal ballots for police, military,
diplomats and electoral officials and absence of independent observation of
the counting of postal votes to prevent multiple voting", he said.
And it cites "inadequate polling stations in urban areas; bias against the
opposition in the government-controlled media; permission for police to be
present inside polling stations in breach of the recent SADC-brokered
agreement; and politicised distribution of government-controlled food and
other benefits and government resources."
He was referring to an agreement brokered by the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community, a regional body.
"We call on the Government of Zimbabwe, including the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, to take concrete actions to address these significant
shortcomings, including respecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms
of the Zimbabwean people," Mr McCormack said.
EU foreign ministers said after a meeting in Brussels two weeks ago they
were "very concerned about the humanitarian, political and economic
situation in Zimbabwe and conditions on the ground, which may endanger the
holding of free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections."
Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he had very grave concerns
the Zimbabwe elections would not be democratic.
The Australian Government wanted to see a change of leadership in Zimbabwe,
"The sooner we see the back of the terrible Mugabe regime the better."
Britain is in perhaps the trickiest situation of all after years of spats
with Mugabe, who took over as the nation's first black president in 1980.
Wednesday March 26 2008
Human rights groups today accused Robert Mugabe's government of harassing
and intimidating opposition supporters before Saturday's national elections.
Amnesty International cited a case on March 7, when three members of the
Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
were ordered by intelligence officers to take down election posters.
According to Amnesty, the officials forced the opposition supporters to chew
the posters and swallow them.
"We continue to receive reports of intimidation, harassment and violence
against perceived supporters of opposition candidates - with many in rural
regions fearful that there will be retribution after the elections," said
Amnesty's Zimbabwe researcher, Simeon Mawanza, who has recently returned
from the country.
The US has also voiced concerns about the fairness of Saturday's election,
in which Mugabe faces two serious challengers, Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni,
who has broken with the president's ruling Zanu-PF party, to run as an
"We call on the government of Zimbabwe, including the Zimbabwe electoral
commission, to take concrete actions to address these significant
shortcomings, including respecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms
of the Zimbabwean people," the US state department said.
The US, which imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle after he
allegedly rigged his 2002 re-election, has been barred from sending election
monitors to Zimbabwe. EU observers have also not been invited, so the vote
will be monitored by the African Union, as well as representatives from
China, Iran and Russia.
Both the MDC and Makoni have accused Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party of trying
to rig the ballot, using the security services to intimidate voters and
depriving the opposition of media coverage.
"The conditions are definitely not conducive to free and fair elections. Our
supporters are still being harassed, and the police are being used as
weapons for intimidation," the MDC secretary-general, Tendai Biti, told
The opposition and human rights groups are particularly worried by the
government's decision to allow police into polling stations - ostensibly to
assist illiterate and infirm voters. The US state department said the move
was one of several that could "preclude free and fair elections on March
Says he will never allow the opposition to rule Zimbabwe
Published 2008-03-27 03:15 (KST)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in an act of desperation to intimidate
voters to vote for him, has threatened to use guns to defend his post in the
event that he loses Saturday's presidential elections.
Zimbabweans go to the joint polls on Saturday to elect a new president and
representatives of the Senate, House of Assembly, ward and the local
Mugabe, an 84-year-old former guerilla leader, has ruled Zimbabwe for the
past 28 years and is facing a stiff challenge for his post against main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, who is running as an independent
In comments aimed at torpedoing the voting process, Mugabe, addressing
cheering supporters at one of his last rallies in Chiredzi, in southeast
Zimbabwe, threatened to take the country to war to defend his lofty post if
he loses the presidential poll to other contesting candidates.
Mugabe said he will not concede defeat and, together with the ruling ZANU-PF
that he leads, will "go to the bush and use guns to stop the opposition from
taking over the administration of his government."
"We used guns to liberate ourselves from the Rhodesian colonial government
28 years ago and we are going to use the same guns to stop the MDC or
Makoni," said Mugabe in his address to about 3,000 supporters gathered at a
stadium in the small town of Chiredzi.
No comment on the matter could be obtained from either Tsvangirai or Makoni,
or their official spokespersons.
Commenting on Mugabe's latest threats to the opposition, political analyst
John Makumbe, who is also a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, dismissed
Mugabe's threats as an act of desperation.
"Mugabe is saying this in desperation as he has already seen that he has no
more support like years back and come Saturday elections he is vacating the
state house for a new leader from the opposition," said Makumbe.
On Sunday, Mugabe, addressing a rally in Zimbabwe's second biggest city,
Bulawayo, said he would not allow the opposition to rule the country in his
lifetime, that he will never concede defeat, and that "votes cast for the
opposition are wasted votes."
Mugabe's threats to the opposition come weeks after the head of the
country's security forces also declared that that organization will not
salute a new government of any the country's presidential aspirants other
than Mugabe because they were sellouts "out to reverse the gains of the
Army commander Constantine Chiwenga said he would not accept any result
expect one in which Mugabe is the winner, while police commander Augustine
Chihuri said he would never salute either of the two main presidential
challengers -- Tsvangirai or Makoni.
When Mugabe and ZANU-PF came to power in April 1980, the inflation rate in
the newly named Zimbabwe was 7 percent but now it's pegged at 150,000
percent, the highest rate of inflation in the world.
The geriatric leader has blamed Western powers working with the opposition
for sabotaging the economy.
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 03/27/2008 02:00:23
ZIMBABWE'S independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni on Tuesday said
President Robert Mugabe was on his way out after 28 years of interrupted
Addressing a rally in Kuwadzana -- a working class suburb of Harare -- also
attended by Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a faction of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Makoni said Mugabe was now sensing
defeat, hence his pre-occupation with telling lies about his opponents.
"I have heard an old man telling lies about me, that if I win I will return
the land to whites. Mugabe is now sensing that power is deserting him,"
Makoni told cheering supporters ahead of Saturday's election.
The former finance minister said the fact that a mystic could dupe a whole
cabinet that diesel was oozing from a rock at Maningwa Hills in Chinhoyi was
enough testimony that they were now clueless and had no solutions to the
country's deepening economic crisis.
Makoni noted that Mugabe has 13 degrees - including six honorary ones -- but
even he failed to realise that a rock could not produce diesel.
Mutambara warned Mugabe against rigging the elections, threatening
unspecified action. He urged all registered voters to cast their ballots
"We are going through a revolution on March 29," Mutambara said. "There is
nothing irresponsible like sleeping during a revolution. Wake up children of
The MDC leader said Makoni was better positioned to beat Mugabe as he had
managed to split the army, police, CIO and war veterans whom the ruling
party leader has relied upon to cling to power.
"Let me have a conversation with Mugabe. If you rig, you will be like Smith
who rebelled against the constitutional order in 1965. I want to learn from
you on how you deal with anyone who breaks the constitution. There won't be
a constitutional response, the response would be draconian," Mutambara said.
Mutambara stood aside to back Makoni's candidacy, leaving rival MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, independent Langton Towungana and Mugabe as candidates.
Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY
Voters must vote in their correct wards on Saturday 29th March 2008.
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