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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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The Scotsman

Mugabe Speech Raises Fears of Election Violence

"PA"

President Robert Mugabe branded main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party supporters as traitors today, raising fears of new political
violence two days ahead of Zimbabwe's general election

"All those who will vote for the MDC are traitors," Mugabe told a ruling
ZANU-PF party rally at Mutoko, 90 miles north-east of Harare.

Similar comments by the president in the past have encouraged ruling party
and youth militia's to take violent action against opposition supporters and
candidates.

Mugabe's speech come in the wake of a weekend call by Roman Catholic
Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo for a "non-violent mass popular uprising"
if the ruling party wins the election by fraud.

Speaking today, Archbishop Ncube said Mugabe's "traitor" accusation revived
ominous memories of moves against suspected opposition voters after previous
elections.

In 1985, tens of thousands of black families were evicted from their homes
into midwinter cold until they could produce ruling party cards. That year,
Mugabe told victorious supporters: "Now take your sticks and beat out the
snakes among you."

Parliamentary elections in 2000 and presidential elections in 2002 were
marred by widespread state-sanctioned political violence and intimidation.

"It may be quiet now, but we are not sure what will happen after these
elections," said Ncube. "They (ZANU-PF) might go around punishing people and
beating them up - they are very violent. You are dealing with people who
bullied everyone into silence in the past."

Ncube said he has been followed and all his telephones are tapped.

Reginald Matshaba-Hove, director of Zimbabwe's independent Electoral Support
Network, said he was concerned about Mugabe's comment and had asked foreign
observer teams to stay in the country for at least a week after the polls
because of fears of renewed violence.

Ncube said he believes intimidation of voters by political control of food
distribution, and rigging, will ensure the appearance of victory for
ZANU-PF.

In interviews over the weekend he said: "I hope that people will get so
disillusioned that they really organise against the government and kick him
out by a non-violent popular uprising."

Mugabe told the rally in Mutoko that they must remain loyal to the ruling
party because since parliamentary elections in 2000 the area has given
ZANU-PF the largest majority in the country.

The opposition party claims ruling party militants already have made the
area a "no-go area" for opposition supporters.

At previous rallies Mugabe has described adherents of MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai as puppets of Prime Minister Tony Blair and alleged they plan to
return the country to its pre-1980 status as the breakaway colony of
Rhodesia. He has repeatedly referred to the seven-year guerrilla war for
black rule which cost over 30,000 lives.

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Food a major election issue in drought-hit provinces
29 Mar 2005 19:46:06 GMT

Source: IRIN
BULAWAYO, 29 March (IRIN) - Food has become a key issue of the parliamentary
election campaign in drought-hit western Zimbabwe, with both the ruling
ZANU-PF party and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) promising
aid to increasingly desperate voters.

"We know you need assistance. Government is taking care of the situation,
and rest assured that no one will starve," President Robert Mugabe told a
rally in rural Matabeleland last week.

"By the same token you should also vote wisely - don't vote for Blair
[Mugabe accuses the MDC of being sponsored by Britain], vote for ZANU-PF, a
party that has given you land so that you can produce enough food," Mugabe
urged villagers.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, while blaming the government for the food
crisis, also promised that his party had secured "thousands of metric tonnes
of maize to distribute to areas currently grappling with starvation, and is
set to trickle into the country on 1 April if you have voted for the MDC".

The MDC contends that the government's allegedly botched land reform
programme and inability to support the new farmers, as much as a series of
droughts, are to blame for successive poor harvests.

The US-funded Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) recently warned
that three perennially dry provinces - Matabeleland, Manicaland and
Masvingo - were in dire need of relief assistance.

However, ZANU-PF has only belatedly acknowledged the extent of food
insecurity. Despite warnings from the humanitarian community that last
year's harvest would not be the bumper crop predicted by the government and
aid would be required, Mugabe famously told Britain's Sky TV: "We are not
hungry, why foist this food on us? We don't want to choke."

At the beginning of March, however, President Mugabe admitted there was a
problem. He said the country would need to import food for an estimated 1.5
million people in need, in seven of the country's nine provinces - a
substantially lower estimate than the 4.8 million people FEWS NET said
required aid, a figure the government has ridiculed.

The state-owned Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has rejected reports that the
country faced an immediate food crisis, stressing instead that its strategic
grain reserve held 15 months worth of stocks.

But in interviews with government-run television and the official Herald
newspaper, GMB chief executive officer, retired colonel Samuel Muvuti, said
the grain monopoly would seek new tenders and revive existing but inactive
ones for the supply of cereals.

"We are in the process of setting up new contracts. We still have contracts
that we signed months or years ago, which are still running; what we have
done to these contracts is to ensure that they perform faster than before -
deliveries will be coming into the country shortly," said Muvuti.

A GMB source told IRIN that the board was looking to reactivate grain supply
deals with South American suppliers, including Brazil and Argentina, which
stopped when Zimbabwe ran out of foreign currency early last year.

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Updated Report on Polling Stations Dated 29/3/5 13:00

Section 64(2) of the ELECTORAL ACT CHAPTER 2:13 reads:

64 Recording and notification of result of count

(2)† Immediately after arranging for the polling-station return to be
transmitted in terms of paragraph (c) of subsection (1), the presiding
officer shall affix a copy of the polling-station return on the outside of
the polling station so that it is visible to the public.

This means that polling stations cannot wait until the results are
"confirmed" by the constituency centre. Voters must wait at their polling
stations until this is done then communicate the details (including any
other details such as the time that voting closed, when counting started,
when the results were posted, any incidents etc) to the MDC and/or the
Crisis Information Centre

MDC hotlines, which are available 24 hours a day: Harare: 793259, 793260,
781139, 773142, 793250† Bulawayo: 75233, 884080

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Election information centre (24/7 until 4
April):
091 288 605
091 907 235;
011 612 860;
011 603 439;
011 755 600;
091 956 570;
091 266 430;
011 862 269;
011 862 804 or
Harare (04) 793263
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News24

Whites maintain low profile
29/03/2005 20:31† - (SA)

Harare - It's an often repeated refrain in President Robert Mugabe's
campaign: The opposition is a tool of white imperialists who want to
re-colonise Zimbabwe.

While they were a visible force in the last two elections, Zimbabwe's
increasingly wary white residents were rarely seen in the run-up to
Thursday's parliamentary vote.

Analysts say this was a strategic decision by the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, which has been hurt by the ruling party's
accusations.

But the change also reflects growing unease by the tiny white population
that remains in the country after an often-violent campaign to redistribute
white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans.

"Because of the changes around the land, and because of the violence of the
last election, I think there's been less overt participation by whites,"
said Brian Raftopoulos, a development studies professor at the University of
Zimbabwe. "I think they felt that there'd been a backlash because of their
participation last time, and that it's more opportune to keep their heads
down."

In the early days of the opposition MDC, founded in 1999, the party received
financial and logistical backing from white farmers, who where threatened by
the government's land reform program.

White supporters who lent their vehicles to ferry opposition supporters and
set up tables to feed crowds at party events were sometimes referred to as
the "Coke and buns brigade".

"If as a black person you vote for the MDC, know that you are a sell-out,"
Mugabe said at a rally on Monday.

But analysts say the ruling party has exaggerated the role of whites to
discredit the opposition, whose most significant power base is among young,
black, urban voters.

"Whites played an insignificant role," said Arnold Tsunga, executive
director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. "The MDC comes largely from
the labor movement."

Three of the party's 51 current MPsare white. One of them, farmer Roy
Bennett, is serving a year in prison for getting into a brawl with two
Cabinet ministers.

The party lead by former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai has fielded five
white candidates in this election, all of them running in predominantly
black constituencies.

"We've had this unrelenting diet of racist propaganda spewed out by Zanu in
the last five years. But as demonstrated by our rallies, where the audiences
are 99 percent black, it hasn't worked," said David Coltart, a white
opposition MP, who represents a 90% black district in Zimbabwe's second
city, Bulawayo. "Their hate speech and their attempt to use race has
basically failed."

Whites have fled the country in droves in recent years. Although there are
no official statistics on the racial composition of the country's nearly 12
million population, observers estimate there are probably 25 000 whites
left, down from about 70 000 five years ago and 200 000 at the end of white
rule in 1980.
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Zimbabwe's Rickety Election Platform

Business Day (Johannesburg)

OPINION
March 29, 2005
Posted to the web March 29, 2005

Dumisani Muleya
Johannesburg

Institutions responsible for the poll are firmly in the hands of Robert
Mugabe's Zanu (PF) government

LAST week, several Zimbabwean journalists attended an election seminar at
the Johannesburg-based Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, in
preparation for Zimbabwe's general election. A senior official of the
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa voiced grave concern about Zimbabwe's
flawed electoral system.

He said that although the media had helped expose Zimbabwe's repression and
misrule, it had not done much in-depth coverage on the electoral process. He
said the media should provide comprehensive coverage to make a clear and
compelling case for reform in Zimbabwe and, in the process, deny regional
leaders such as South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki an opportunity to claim
elections could be free and fair under current conditions.

One of the journalists who attended was Dumisani Muleya, Harare
correspondent of Business Day, Johannesburg. He

felt it might be useful to explore Zimbabwe's institutional arrangements
ahead of the March 31 poll.

Elections are not just a function of the range and uality of liberties
guaranteed by the constitution, but are also defined by the overall
institutional framework.

Five principal bodies run elections - the Delimitation Commission; the
Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC); the Election Directorate; the
registrar-general of elections' office; and the newly formed Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission. The Delimitation Commission and the ESC are
constitutional, while the other three are statutory bodies.

The people who serve on these bodies are appointed by President Robert
Mugabe, directly and indirectly. Some are public servants vulnerable to all
sorts of political pressures. Others are simply ruling party functionaries.

The Delimitation Commission delineates the boundaries of the 120
constituencies. Its members are appointed by Mugabe and report to him. It
has often been accused of gerrymandering and is facing this accusation now.
This followed its recent reduction, by four, of constituencies in areas
controlled by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It
increased them by the same number in regions where the ruling Zanu (PF)
dominates.

The ESC "supervises" the registration of voters and the conduct of general
elections. It "comments" on proposed electoral laws and reports to Mugabe
"as it thinks fit".

It is, in theory, an independent body because, in terms of the constitution,
it "shall not, in the exercise of it functions, be subject to the direction
or control of any person or authority".

However, all its members are appointed by Mugabe in consultation with the
pro-government Judicial Services Commission and the speaker of parliament, a
member of Zanu (PF).

But the most serious weakness of the body is not its composition, but its
lack of executive authority to fulfil its mandate. This is made worse by the
fact that it is stuffed with pro-Zanu (PF) people. In reality, the ESC is
just a rubber stamp.

The Election Directorate co-ordinates activities of government ministries
and departments on the delimiting of constituencies, voter registration and
other related matters. Its chairman is appointed by Mugabe "for his ability
and experience in administration or his ualifications".

The other members include the registrar-general who, says Muleya, is
thoroughly discredited and works under the home affairs minister, and
between two and 10 members chosen by the justice minister. This means it is
Zanu (PF)-controlled.

The registrar-general's office, which compiled the current controversial
voters' roll, is run by public servants, making it politically exposed.

Mugabe blocked the Southern African Development Community technical team of
lawyers from assessing Zimbabwe's legal and institutional framework because
it would have shown the electoral system to be flawed and incapable of
supporting free and fair elections.

Coupled with well-documented violence and intimidation, Zimbabwe's weak
electoral system makes it impossible to hold genuine elections.
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Fraternal Whitewash of Election Will Harm Mbeki

Business Day (Johannesburg)

March 29, 2005
Posted to the web March 29, 2005

Dumisani Muleya
Johannesburg

WITH a week go, Zimbabwe's general election - the crucial poll that can make
or break the country's future - has become a test of credibility for South
African and regional leaders. After endorsing the stolen results of
Zimbabwe's previous two elections, South African and Southern African
Development Community (SADC) leaders seem under pressure to redeem
themselves and escape from the wrong side of history.

To rescue their situation, SADC leaders would have to, within the week
ahead, ensure Zimbabwe complies with the regional body's principles
governing democratic elections. However, the way things are going now, it is
clear they are prepared to again sacrifice their collective reputation on
the altar of revolutionary solidarity.

Another fraternal whitewash of the election would damage the image of SADC
leaders, in particular that of President Thabo Mbeki, beyond repair. Mbeki
has been trying since April 2000 to resolve Zimbabwe's political and
economic crisis. His "uiet diplomacy" seems doomed, although a dramatic
political action right now could save him from being condemned by history.

Unless South African and SADC leaders take a firm stand on Zimbabwe this
time around, history will judge them harshly. Already the bloc is seen by
some, rightly or wrongly, as a club of dictators handcuffed to the past.

When the SADC adopted its election guidelines last August, many thought it
had turned the corner and was ready to shed its image of being a hideout for
leaders caught in a time warp.

It is true that Zimbabweans should deal with their situation, but there is
also a heavy responsibility on SADC leaders to show the courage of their
principles.

It would be entirely misguided to suggest that Zimbabwe's election can be
free and fair under the current hostile political climate and where there
are no competent and impartial electoral institutions. SADC leaders seem to
have learnt nothing from Zimbabwe's hotly disputed elections in 2000 and
2002.

Zimbabwe is claiming that it is complying with SADC election guidelines -
and it is being allowed to get away with it. President Robert Mugabe has
been sending envoys to SADC leaders to explain the situation and probably
ask for support. His emissaries have been to Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.

Judging by their own remarks, SADC leaders seem to have purchased Zimbabwe's
well-packaged web of pernicious lies, which make the truth sound
preposterous, and those who speak it raving lunatics. No wonder SA's
official election observer mission to Zimbabwe ran into controversy last
week and dominated the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Within hours of
his arrival in Harare, the head of the mission, Labour Minister Membathisi
Mdladlana, dropped a clanger that left most of his colleagues with red
faces.

Soon after meeting Mugabe on Monday night last week, Mdladlana claimed the
electoral process leading to the March 31 election would be smooth. His
gaffe sparked angry reactions from the main Zimbabwean opposition, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and other interest groups.

Accusing South African observers of an "appalling lack of objectivity", the
MDC threatened to boycott all observer missions linked to SA, including the
SADC one led by South African Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka.

To prevent a fallout, the African National Congress moved to limit the
damage, but SA's apparent "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil"
approach had been confirmed. South African observers are now being treated
with suspicion and derision because they seem to have come to Zimbabwe with
poisoned minds.

MDC leaders say it is almost certain SA's observers will come up with a
ridiculous verdict on the election: "It was not free and fair, but
legitimate."

This is what SA's official observer mission said after the controversial
2002 presidential election. The head of the mission, Sam Motsuenyane, had
the cheek to issue such a chilling finding, prompting journalists and
diplomats to walk out of the press conference.

Many people asked at the time how an election could be neither free nor
fair, but at the same time legitimate. But the idea was to buy Mugabe
legitimacy. That didn't work, hence his continued "legitimisation crisis".

Legitimacy is both a normative and empirical concept. In his classic study,
Political Man, SM Lipset said: "Legitimacy involves the capacity of the
political system and its leaders to engender obedience (from the people) and
maintain the belief that the system is the most appropriate for the
society."

Mugabe has dismally failed to do this, because legitimacy can't be conferred
without sufficient consent of the governed to the rule of the governor.

If SA and the SADC repeat their airbrushing, they will pay the price through
lost credibility - more than Mugabe, whose reputation is already in tatters.

- Muleya is Harare correspondent.
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VOA

††††† Zimbabwe Economy Has Grown Steadily Worse, Says Local Economist
††††† By Cindy Shiner
††††† Washington
††††† 29 March 2005

As Zimbabwe heads into parliamentary elections on Thursday, economists warn
that the economy will worsen unless the political impasse is resolved and
the government changes its policies.

Tony Hawkins, an economist at the University of Zimbabwe, said the economy
had deteriorated considerably since 2000, when parliamentary elections were
last held. "Then we were living with inflation of about 50 percent. Today it
is more than double that and it has been as high as 600 percent," he told
Africa Division reporter Cindy Shiner.

"The currency in mid-2000 was still 38 to the United States dollar. It's now
6,080 to the dollar," he said.

The government of President Robert Mugabe has accused the West of
undermining his policies. "Really what they're saying is that the West has
conspired against them by refusing to allow IMF (International Monetary
Fund) and World Bank funding and other donor funding and so on," said Mr.
Hawkins. "It would be very difficult for the Fund or the Bank to lend to
Zimbabwe given the kinds of policies that are in place." He cited an
overvalued exchange rate and subsidies on food and other essential goods as
examples.

Mr. Hawkins foresees three potential outcomes for the economy after the
elections. He said the ruling party could win, receive international
recognition and access to funding, which he thinks is unlikely. The
opposition could win and embark on economic policies that are likely to have
support from the West. Or, he said, the ruling party could win and fail to
get international recognition.

"If the Mugabe government wins and it is not recognized then I fear the sort
of gradual stagnation of the economy continues and conditions will get
slowly worse," he said.

Zimbabwe says the elections will be free and fair but the opposition and
international observers doubt this.
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VOA

††††† Zimbabwe Falls Short on Election Guidelines
††††† By† Tendai Maphosa
††††† Harare
††††† 29 March 2005

With only two days to go before Zimbabwe's parliamentary election, the
government says it has complied with the election guidelines spelled out by
the Southern African Development Community (SADC). But analysts say the
electoral playing field is still heavily tilted in favor of the ruling
party.

Last August, President Robert Mugabe joined the other leaders of the
Southern African Development Community, a regional grouping, in putting his
signature to what is known as The SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing
Democratic Elections.

Among other requirements, the document calls for freedom of association,
political tolerance, equal access to state media by contesting political
parties and independence of the judiciary and the impartiality of electoral
institutions.

The Zimbabwean government has made some changes to the electoral laws in the
country including the establishment of what the government says is an
independent electoral commission and an electoral court.

Analysts, however, see the government moves as an attempt to avoid the
controversies of the 2000 general election and 2002 presidential vote.† The
results of both elections were challenged by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).† Some local and international observer groups also
declared the polls were not free and fair.

University of Zimbabwe analyst Brian Raftopoulos says the latest changes
implemented by the government still fall far short of compliance with the
SADC guidelines. Mr. Raftopoulos says contrary to government claims, the
electoral commission is not running the election and the voters roll is
still a mess, with the names of some voters who have been dead for years
still appearing.

"I don't think it [the implementation of the new rules] will substantially
change the form of the election, because the electoral process is still
being run by the Registrar General against whom opposition parties have been
sending complaints for the last two decades, in particular the central
aspect of that process which is the voters roll which is still not available
to any opposition party in electronic form. So I am sure this election will
be no different," he said.

Mr. Raftopoulos also said Zimbabweans are still, through some tough laws,
being denied freedom of association and expression.

Despite complaints by the opposition, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki
has said the conditions in Zimbabwe are now conducive to a free and fair
poll.

Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer says she cannot understand how the
South African leader could conclude things have changed enough given the
reality in Zimbabwe.

"Clearly the failure to have one electoral body running the elections, a
body that would have been impartially chosen that immediately puts a flaw in
the elections," she said.† "There is no way that an electoral commission
that is largely put in place by persons who have been appointed by the
president can be said to be impartial."

Despite its misgivings about the election, the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) is confident it will get a majority of the 120 seats
in parliament on March 31.
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IOL

Is Mugabe hiding behind 'liberation' front?
††††††††† March 29 2005 at 11:30AM

††††† By Terry Leonard

††††† Under fire at home and abroad for despotic rule in a collapsing
country, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is courting old allies in the
liberation brotherhood in a desperate hunt for support and legitimacy.

††††† Analysts say in a bid to keep the loyalty of an oppressed people and
support from Africa's liberation movements, Mugabe has turned up the volume
on his anti-colonialist rhetoric in the campaign for Thursday's
parliamentary elections.

††††† Zimbabwe is troubled by massive state-sanctioned human rights abuses,
repressive security and media laws, rampant unemployment, a compromised
judiciary, a collapsing economy, failing health and education systems and
severe shortages of food, fuel and basic commodities.

††††† Mugabe argues that his ruling Zanu-PF party brought freedom and
independence while the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party is
the stooge of white people and Western governments.

††††† His message resonates on a continent full of countries largely
governed by parties that came to power as liberation movements after long
and bitter struggles to end colonial or white minority rule.

††††† "There is a history of alliances among liberation movements. They
fought together in Angola, Namibia, Zambia and so on," said Eddy
††††† Maloka of the Pretoria-based Africa Institute.

††††† While Western governments, human rights groups and civil society
organisations regularly condemn Mugabe and his government, African leaders
are mostly silent.

††††† "The bottom line for African leaders is that they don't want a
civilian party to oust a former liberation movement. It has implications for
Africa," said John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist.
††††††††††† Zimbabwe is a 'huge blot' on Africa

††††† Analysts argue that Mugabe relied on that sentiment when he designed a
strategy of superficial reforms to the electoral system coupled with a
refusal to accept any election monitors who criticised elections in 2002 and
2000.

††††† According to the theory, Mugabe's party will be triumphant with an
electoral process heavily skewed in its favour, and Mugabe's hand-picked
observers will bolster his legitimacy by declaring it free and fair.

††††† To reinforce his strategy, Mugabe attacks anyone who criticises him.

††††† In his opening campaign speech, Mugabe launched a stinging attack on
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice because she had described Zimbabwe as
one of the last "outposts of tyranny".

††††† "That girl born out of slave ancestry should know from the history of
slavery and the present situation of blacks in America that the white man is
not a friend," he said.

††††† And because Western interference in African affairs is a sensitive
issue, African leaders have historically been quick to defend some of the
continent's worst tyrants.

††††† Maloka said that when Kenneth Kaunda, the liberation hero and former
president of Zambia, was unseated by Frederick Chiluba, it influenced the
region's response to populist movements like Zimbabwe's MDC.

††††† "It wasn't acceptable that a former liberation movement should be
overturned in this way," he said.

††††† "Naturally, the response of the region is to say: 'Let's rather work
with the devil we know than the devil we don't'," said Maloka.

††††† President Mbeki has advocated a policy of "quiet diplomacy" with
Mugabe and has publicly defended him, even calling Rice's "outpost of
tyranny" description an exaggeration.

††††† But critics charge that Mbeki and the governing African National
Congress protect Mugabe because they can't stand the idea of the MDC
unseating a liberation movement.

††††† RW Johnson, a South African political commentator writing in a
publication for the Helen Suzman Foundation, said African national
liberation movements believe that coming to power is the end of the process.

††††† If some group succeeded them, it meant the forces of righteousness had
been overthrown.

††††† That is why, he wrote, South African election observers in Zimbabwe in
2002 were "wholly unbothered by such matters as ballot-stuffing by Zanu-PF
and the manufacture of between 600 000 and 1-million bogus votes for
Mugabe".

††††† Last year, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner for
his anti-apartheid activities, said Mugabe had become "a cartoon
††††† figure of an archetypical African dictator".

††††† Mugabe reacted swiftly, saying: "He is an angry, evil and embittered
little bishop."

††††† In an interview last month with Independent Newspapers, Tutu said
countries like Zimbabwe make a mockery of the freedoms that liberation
movements struggled for.

††††† He called Zimbabwe a "huge blot" on Africa, mocking African attempts
at good governance. He urged African leaders to step up the pressure on
errant counterparts.

††††† And he said he was baffled by apologists for the Mugabe regime.

††††† Zanu-PF responded immediately, trying to bolster support among
liberation movements. It called Tutu "a sellout ... a vassal of
imperialism".

††††† It accused him of worshipping Blair and Bush as "false gods". And it
said he was attacking Mugabe on behalf of Western opponents and white
minority interests in the region.

††††† This article was originally published on page 4 of Pretoria News on
March 29, 2005
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IOL

The 'Roy gevaar' stalks Zimbabwe
††††††††† March 29 2005 at 11:32AM

††††† By Moshoeshoe Monare

††††† In Zimbabwe, everybody is suffering from Blair fatigue, so now
officials have invented a new bogeyman - the Roy gevaar. These are people by
the name of Roy denigrating black presidents and ministers - and even
assaulting them.

††††† The latest to join the Roy-al family is the Democratic Alliance's Roy
Jankielsohn, who broke the ranks of the South African parliamentary team to
declare that political violence in Zimbabwe had gone underground.

††††† The "Roy under every kooi" theory was first floated a year ago by Dr
Tafataona Mahoso, chairperson of the Media and Information Commission, in
one of the most outrageous (but entertaining) analyses undertaken in
Zimbabwean politics.

††††† Mahoso, who ultimately decides who should work as a journalist in
Zimbabwe, was commenting on state broadcaster ZTV after Roy Bennett, an
opposition MDC MP, punched Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

††††† Mahoso's analysis had to do with a variation on the psychological
theory of subliminal racism that was being catalysed by Bennett. He linked
Bennett to another Roy in Zambia - Roy Clarke, who was accused of calling a
black leader, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, a monkey.

††††† You see, Mahoso concluded, there is a network of Roys who are racists
and conspiring to undermine black governments. Jankielsohn's statement that
a ("black") President Robert Mugabe could rig elections further strengthens
the theory of the Roy-network.

††††† In 2002, one Roy Sesana sparked a row in Botswana by challenging the
government over the eviction of the Basarwa people. But Mahoso had nothing
to say about this Roy - perhaps because he was black.

††††† There was also Sir Roy Welensky, the architect of the Federation of
Rhodesia and Nyasaland - the present-day Malawi - in the 1960s. Former
Malawian president Kamuzu Banda saw him as a white racist whose intention
was to frustrate independence for the black states.

††††† If your name is Roy, keep away from Zimbabwe and Southern African
politics, or else the good Dr Mahoso will complete another PhD. -
Independent Foreign Service.

††††††††† .. This article was originally published on page 6 of The Star on
March 29, 2005

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Sokwanele blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dead BC

Although my doctor told me to watch my blood pressure, I decided to watch the news on ZBC last night, locally known as 'Dead BC'. Their antidemocratic, one sided reporting is quite remarkable. They showed no less than seven zpf rallies held around the country yesterday, and only one MDC rally - the President Morgan Tsvangirai at star rally in Harare the day before.

The hilarious element of their riveting reports was that in three of the rallies they showed the same footage of dancing, singing women - boy, zpf women get around the country fast! Beam me up Scottie, because they must have moved at lightning speed to attend all of those events in one day. Indeed, in two rallies the entire audience had translocated to show their grim support for these masters of deceit.

A South African hijacking in Bulawayo..?

All very quiet in our area. The greatest excitement has been the attempted hijacking of a Botswanan car by 2 armed men in a South African car in the middle of a main street on Saturday morning. Fortunately it failed as the car didn't start. The driver had to run off down the road as fast as he could!

Stacks of posters around the city mostly for the opposition! Also, lots of open handed salutes from everyone!

Freedom requires courage


Action is taking place! These flyers are being distributed under the 'Sokwanele - Zvakwana - Enough is Enough' banner. Visit www.sokwanele.com to view enlarged versions.

The rain has come too late

Bulawayo has finally been blessed with some rain. Night before last the heavens opened with a spectacular thunderstorm and the clouds have been heavy with thunder.

But, Selina killed my joy yesterday afternoon when she came into the house and said, "Ah, but itís too late. The crops we planted are already dead and the commercial farmers from my area have all been kicked out. My children are hungry all because of one man."

The government and the Western media seem to be in cahoots over the reason for hunger in this country and it is not the fault of late rains that there is no maize. We have had worse droughts in previous years with main catchment dams far below current levels and we still managed to pull through.

It is the chaotic land seizures that are directly to blame, for those resettled on the farms have no financial backing or training in running large scale irrigation programmes. The zanupf chefs who are the main beneficiaries of stolen farms simply reaped what was previously planted by commercial farmers and havenít bothered to keep the farms going.

I dread to think about what Selina and the rest of the country are going to do come winter and how will she feed her hungry children. She supports 9 grandchildren as AIDS has already claimed three of her children.

Forced to vote

One of my workmates is married to a man who has served this country in the Zimbabwe National Army since soon after Independence. She recently commented that no matter what he is paid, they find it hard to feed and improve the lives of their children. She told me that last week he was forced to vote for ZanuPF and was told to make his men to do the same. He is unhappy with not having the freedom of choice. She commented that he felt as if he had lost his human rights. What next?

*Sokwanele has created this pseudonym for those people who are uncomfortable with the idea of being associated too closely with our movement. We thank them for speaking to us and, like them, we look forward to the day when we can stand side by side openly in public.

Observing or boozing?

I went out jolling the other night and had a gas at a somewhat seedy, but well known down town nightclub. I was gob smacked to be introduced to some of the South African observers. They were more than a little pissed and were still going for it when I left in the early hours of the morning. Rumour has it that the stock of vodka in Zim is at stake because the Russian observer team have already finished their own stash.

How do they protect the vote when they wake up with a major hang over, dry mouthed and in serious need of dark glasses?
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Reuters

Zimbabwe Poll Victory Unlikely to End Mugabe's Problems
Tue Mar 29, 2005 05:55 AM ET

By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe is widely expected to win
Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections on Thursday but victory is unlikely to
end his international isolation or the country's economic crisis.

With the opposition MDC cowed and weakened, most experts believe Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party will score a much easier victory than in the last cliffhanger
parliamentary elections five years ago and a presidential poll in 2002.

There are 120 assembly seats up for grabs but the ruling party is assured of
30 of them under a series of electoral and other laws which critics say rig
the poll in Mugabe's favor.

A calm election, without the severe bloodshed that marred the two previous
polls, is crucial for Mugabe in his fight against international isolation
and to win back Western aid critical for Zimbabwe's economic recovery.

Shortages of food, fuel and foreign exchange plague many parts of the
once-prosperous country.

The campaign has been remarkably peaceful but political analysts say the
expected victory will not help Mugabe's international credibility problem.

Human Rights organizations and the opposition have already denounced the
poll as rigged and allege the government is using food supplies in the
hungry countryside as a weapon to guarantee votes.

CREDIBILITY PROBLEM

"Mugabe's problem is that with or without this election, he has to find a
way to convince the world that he is running things in a manner that is
accepted by the rest of the world," said political analyst Brian Kagoro of
pressure group Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe. "He has a credibility problem."

The electoral commission says it will run the polls professionally,
rejecting charges that Mugabe has already fixed the result. Critics say
hundreds of thousands of fictitious or dead people are among the 5.7 million
registered voters.

"The commission is professional and would not be interested in rigging any
election -- that is not our mandate," chief elections officer Lovemore
Sekeremayi said.

More than 3 million Zimbabweans living abroad who could have provided vital
votes to the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) have also been refused a
vote.

But whatever the result, Mugabe faces a dilemma.

"He is in a no-win situation," said Heneri Dzinotyiwei of the University of
Zimbabwe.

"If ZANU-PF wins with a very big margin, people will say he rigged the
elections and if ZANU-PF wins narrowly or is beaten, people will say that he
is on his way out," he said.

The once-united ruling part is now split by internal disputes between Mugabe
supporters and dissidents and a bad result could aggravate these divisions.

Mugabe has said he will retire at the end of his current six-year
presidential term in 2008 after leading Zimbabwe since independence from
Britain in 1980. The veteran leader, who denies charges that he rigged the
last parliamentary polls and his own re-election in 2002, has reined in
ZANU-PF militants blamed for a violent campaign against the MDC in those
elections, analysts say.

The MDC concedes that political violence has dropped this year but it says
Mugabe's ZANU-PF has nevertheless seized an unfair advantage, using strict
security and media laws to curtail opposition campaigning.

It dismisses reforms adopted by Mugabe under regional guidelines on
democratic elections as cosmetic.

ZANU-PF, which won 62 of the 120 contested seats in 2000, is pushing for a
two-thirds majority in the new parliament which will give it powers to
change the constitution and cement its supremacy.

Mugabe, who turned 81 last month, has made attacks on Britain the central
plank of his campaign, accusing Prime Minister Tony Blair of mobilising
Western support for the MDC because it wants him out of power for seizing
white-owned farms for blacks.

Britain denies the charge.

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Insufficient provision for elderly and infirm voters

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE, 29 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - NGOs have lamented the lack of special
arrangements for elderly and infirm voters ahead of Zimbabwe's legislative
elections on 31 March.

Mary Madya, 25, a widow from Mufakose suburb in the capital, Harare, is one
of many eligible voters living with AIDS who will be unable to vote on
polling day. Eight months ago she was able to register as a voter, but after
prolonged hospitalisation she is now bedridden and frail.

"I believe that my vote could make the difference. I was so happy when I
voted in the 2000 parliamentary elections and the 2002 presidential
elections, because it is my democratic right to choose a political leader of
my own choice.

"But things have suddenly moved for the worse [for me] - even though I
registered as a voter with the hope of casting my ballot this time around, I
cannot do so because I can hardly walk now," Madya told IRIN.

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), 5.7 million
Zimbabweans have registered to vote in the forthcoming election. Experts
have been reported as claiming that more than a million adults living with
AIDS may not be able to cast their ballots.

Believe Dliwayo, a spokesman for Zimbabwe Activists on HIV and AIDS (ZAHA),
told IRIN it was "obvious" even in the absence of a full study, that "a
significant portion of the voting population", weakened by HIV/AIDS, would
not be able to get to polling stations.

"Statistics show that about a quarter of Zimbabweans live with HIV/AIDS. A
good part of this figure is people whose ability to engage in normal
activities is greatly compromised," Dliwayo commented. "They include those
who suffer opportunistic infections and ... it is safe to say participating
in such things as voting is difficult for them."

Rindai Chipfunde, national coordinator of the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network (ZESN), told IRIN that the authorities had made "no provision for
sick people, neither do we have polling stations located at hospitals or
even at old-age homes - there's no provision for that".

"In Namibia there were polling stations at hospitals and old-age homes; in
South Africa provision was made for special votes, with officials even going
to [elderly and infirm] people's homes. The problem, of course, is knowing
where those people reside; it happens in South Africa, but it requires
adequate preparation," Chipfunde said.

She said ZESN would continue "lobbying for reforms, like brail materials for
the blind". Although assisted voters could go to the polls, they had to cast
their ballots in the presence of a police officer and a presiding officer.
Chipfunde said this arrangement was unsatisfactory as it could add an
element of intimidation to the voting process.

Meanwhile, Madya's 55-year-old mother, Edeline Moyo, also a registered
voter, doubted she would be able to stand in the queue to vote on election
day.

"Like my daughter, I cherish my vote, having gone to the polls since
independence in 1980. But I doubt if I will be able to go and vote now
because of the burden that is before me - Mary needs constant attention and,
unfortunately, there is no one to help me look after her. All my other
daughters are married and are living with their families outside Harare.
Besides, I also have to fend for my daughter's two children, who moved in
with their mother when their father died," Moyo told IRIN.

"I was expecting those who are contesting in the elections to say something
about AIDS, and how best to cater for the ill, but I have not heard anything
like that. All their campaign speeches are about different things, and this
discourages some of us from voting, as we know the pain of living with the
sick," she remarked.

David Chimhini, director of the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust, questioned
why the government had not made provision for polling stations to be set up
at hospitals and clinics, as was done during a by-election last year,
because sick rural voters were more likely to be disenfranchised than sick
urban voters.

[ENDS]
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Daily News online edition

††††† Top SA church observer barred

††††† Date: 29-Mar, 2005

††††† JOHANNESBURG - The Zimbabwean government has barred a top official
from the South African Council of Churches (SACC) entry into the country to
observe the parliamentary elections.

††††† In a statement, SACC said Molefe Tsele, its general secretary, had
been refused permission to enter Zimbabwe at the Beitbridge border post.
SACC said Tsele had been invited by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches to take
part in an ecumenical delegation to observe Thursday's elections.

††††† SACC said Tsele was told by Zimbabwean immigration officials that his
name did not appear on the Zimbabwean government's list of accredited
election observers. But the council said it applied to the Zimbabwean
government for accreditation 14 days ago.

††††† Authorities in Harare have also barred observers from European
countries from observing the elections which have courted international
attention amid allegations the electoral environment in the country is
heavily tilted in favour of President Mugabe's Zanu PF party.

††††† Some human rights organisations, at home and abroad, have predicted
that Zanu PF would win the poll as a result of the lopsided electoral
environment.

††††† SACC is not the first victim of Harare's intolerance towards South
African organisations keen on observing Zimbabwe's elections. The government
twice booted out a delegation from the Congress of South African Trade
Unions (Cosatu) which had visited Zimbabwe on a fact finding mission to
establish whether the political environment is conducive for a free and fair
election.

††††† But the 20-member delegation was kicked out of the country moments
after touching down at the Harare International Airport.

††††† The Zimbabwean government accuses Cosatu of meddling in its internal
political affairs - a charge the South African umbrella labour union
vehemently denies.

††††† A similar delegation from the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa's
official opposition party, which tried to visit Zimbabwe was met with the
same fate.

††††† The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and human rights
organisations have accused the government of only inviting organisations
seen to be friendly to President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party to observe the
elections.

††††† President Mugabe faces a tough challenge from the MDC, led by former
trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

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Zim Online

Murder as SA observers insist all is fine in Zimbabwe
Tue 29 March 2005
††††† HARARE - Opposition activist murdered near Harare by suspected ZANU PF
militants.

††††† HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party on Tuesday said one of its activists was last Thursday brutally
murdered by suspected ruling ZANU PF militants.

††††† A senior member of the opposition party's national executive and its
candidate for Hatfield constituency, Tapiwa Mashakada, said one of his
campaign workers, Givemore Sunday, was fatally assaulted by five men clad in
ZANU PF party regalia.

††††† The incident took place at Domboramwari shopping centre just outside
Harare and was reported the following day to police at the nearby Epworth
police station, according to Mashakada.

††††† "As far as I am concerned, no one has been arrested. The case was
reported at Epworth ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) at about 2:30 am on
Friday 25 March," said Mashakada who is sitting Member of Parliament for the
area.

††††† Mashakada, who said the deceased was scheduled for burial later today,
said he had recorded the names of the five people suspected of murdering the
man.

††††† But police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, said the law enforcement
agency did not have a record of the matter saying only 18 cases of
politically-motivated violence by both MDC and ZANU PF activists and all of
which did not involve murder, had been reported in the last week.

††††† The police official however promised the matter would be probed. "We
are hearing this from you but we will investigate. This is a serious
allegation which will not be swept under the carpet because we have zero
tolerance on violence," said Bvudzijena.

††††† The murder of the MDC activist sharply contradicts claims by South
African government election observers that conditions in Zimbabwe were
peaceful and everything points to a free and fair poll next Thursday.

††††† Pretoria's chief observer Membathisi Mdladlana today told the Press
that that his team was deployed in all Zimbabwe's provinces and that they
had so far reported peace and calm across the country.

††††† The MDC insists intimidation is rife against its supporters with
traditional chiefs using their influential positions to coerce their
subjects in remote rural areas to vote for ZANU PF on March 31.

††††† The opposition party also claims that its supporters are being denied
food and has challenged observer missions to leave the comfort of their
hotels in major centres and towns and visit rural areas to witness
intimidation against its supporters. ZimOnline.

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Reuters

Zimbabwe's Moyo Lashes Out at Mugabe's Party
Tue Mar 29, 2005 12:21 PM ET

By Emelia Sithole
TSHOLOTSHO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Former Zimbabwe Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo, once a staunch ally of President Robert Mugabe, denounced his
ruling party on Tuesday, calling it a "tribal clique" with no respect for
democracy.

Moyo was expelled from the ZANU-PF party last month after defying Mugabe to
stand as an independent in parliamentary elections on Thursday. He has since
turned against the party and leader he served as a faithful propaganda
chief.

In an interview with Reuters, Moyo said he hoped voters would deny ZANU-PF
the two-thirds parliamentary majority it is seeking. Such a result would
give the party the power to amend the constitution and strengthen its grip
on power.

"If ZANU-PF gets two-thirds and given that we are talking about a dangerous
ZANU-PF that's being run by a tribal clique, that would be unwise, very
unwise," Moyo said at his rural home in his southern Tsholotsho
constituency.

Moyo dismissed Mugabe's suggestion last week that he had sought to engineer
an army coup after he left the ruling party.

"The president has an unfortunate habit of always accusing opponents of
plotting a coup. That might demonstrate his attitude to the democratic
process. He might have a problem with that," Moyo said.

He said the remarks were scare tactics by a leadership nervous about the
outcome of Thursday's contest, which he described as too close to call.

"I think that ZANU-PF people are sweating in their pants...What's possible
just from reading the sentiment is that it's a close contest," he added.

SUCCESSION DISPUTE

Moyo's expulsion from ZANU-PF was the most visible pointer to unprecedented
splits in the party, mainly over the issue of who will succeeds Mugabe when
he retires in 2008 as promised.

Analysts say the succession row has left ZANU-PF weaker ahead of the March
31 poll, when Moyo will face a ruling party candidate and another from the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which won the seat in 2000.

Moyo accused ZANU-PF leaders of "pulling off a coup against democracy" by
flouting its own constitutional rules to impose the wife of a former army
general as vice president, placing her in line as Mugabe's potential
successor.

Moyo said that in joining ZANU-PF and the government, he had believed that
the party's "old guard" was ready for change. But he was "shocked" to see
they were still the same.

Moyo was the architect of tough media laws seen aimed against Mugabe's
political opponents. Leading opposition newspapers have been shut under the
laws, which also bar foreign journalists from working permanently in
Zimbabwe.

He was unrepentant on Tuesday, defending the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act as necessary, he said, to restore professionalism
in journalism.

He accused the media of backing a "propaganda" drive against Zimbabwe led by
former colonial ruler Britain over Mugabe's policy of handing out
white-owned farms to landless blacks.

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Yahoo News

††††† Tuesday March 29, 05:42 PM

††††† Mugabe predicts election victory

††††† BINDURA, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe says he has no
fear of losing this week's parliamentary election in Zimbabwe, dismissing
his opposition challenger as an empty-headed British "puppy".

††††† Mugabe, who is trying to persuade the world that he has improved
democratic governance since bloodshed and allegations of rigging marred
polls in 2000 and 2002, pledged Thursday's vote would be fair and said the
government would increase its majority.

††††† Police vowed tough measures to prevent any pre-election violence this
time and international observers said they had intervened several times to
defuse tension.

††††† But the opposition on Tuesday charged that one of its supporters had
been killed by ruling party members -- its first charge of murder in the
campaign. Police denied the crime was politically-motivated.

††††† Mugabe told journalists on Tuesday after a campaign rally in the
ZANU-PF stronghold of Bindura he had not considered the possibility of
defeat by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which he
branded a puppet of former colonial ruler Britain.

††††† "I never think about that. I am a total optimist," he said, dismissing
the question with a wave of the hand.

††††† Mugabe earlier told some 20,000 supporters in Bindura, about 90 km
northeast of the capital Harare, that ZANU-PF would win a "free and fair"
election against the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, whom he mocked as a
"big-headed man with no brain".

††††† "He (Tsvangirai) runs to the British like a puppy wagging its tail,
campaigning for sanctions, and asking to be installed as leader," Mugabe
said in one of his biggest rallies since electioneering began about a month
ago.

††††† "There will be a free run again of elections but of course they are
going to lose. This time much more than they did in 2000. It's clear now
that the people have seen through them (the MDC)," Mugabe said.

††††† OBSERVERS STEP IN

††††† The head of South Africa's observer mission -- the largest foreign
team invited to watch the March 31 election -- said his group noted
relatively smooth progress but had still stepped in at times to prevent
political clashes.

††††† "We know what is happening on the ground ... we have had to intervene
to deal with tense situations that could undermine the process," South
African Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana told Reuters.

††††† Mdladlana said South African observers had intervened several times to
ensure police freed MDC supporters detained for political activity, to
ensure planned meetings went ahead or to protect ZANU-PF members in an MDC
stronghold.

††††† MDC leaders concede violence is low compared with previous elections,
but say intimidation and tough media and security laws enacted by Mugabe's
government have still skewed the election heavily towards ZANU-PF.

††††† Some 500 international observers, including delegations from the South
African government, parliament and ruling ANC, the Southern African
Development Community and the African Union have deployed across Zimbabwe to
monitor the poll.

††††† The Commonwealth, the United States, Britain and the European Union --†
all of which have accused Mugabe of political abuses in the past -- were not
invited to participate.

††††† ZANU-PF is expected to win Thursday's elections although the MDC
insists it can still pull off a shock win.

††††† Zimbabwe's police, echoing the government's persistent calls for
peaceable voting, say political violence has subsided compared to past polls
in which the MDC says over 200 of its supporters died.

††††† On Tuesday, police said again they would tolerate no violence on
election day -- a warning to both ruling party and opposition supporters.

††††† "This condition is non-negotiable," police spokesman Assistant
Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told a media briefing.

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IOL

Banned Zimbabwean daily hoping for a comeback
††††††††† March 29 2005 at 03:06PM

††††† Harare - Publishers of a banned Zimbabwean daily said on Tuesday that
the newspaper could hit the news stands by mid-May following a court
decision throwing out a government ban on the publication.

††††† Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, chairperson of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ), which publishes the Daily News and its sister paper The Daily News on
Sunday, said the government media commission was studying their application
for permission to publish.

††††† "We will be waiting and by the 60th day after the court ruling they
should give us the licence," Nkomo told reporters, adding that the decision
was expected around May 14.

††††† The Daily News, an independent daily known for its anti-government
line, and its sister paper The Daily News on Sunday, were closed down in
September 2003 on charges that they violated the country's tough media laws.

††††† Nkomo said all was in place for the newspaper to start publishing.

††††† "We are ready to go and we will start publishing as soon as we get the
licence."

††††† On March 14 Zimbabwe's Supreme Court passed judgment setting aside the
government commission's decision to refuse to register the two newspapers.

††††† The court however upheld several sections of Zimbabwe's tough media
law which have been invoked to ban four independent newspapers, deport
several foreign correspondents and arrest scores of journalists.
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Mail and Guardian

††††† Zimbabwe: Negotiating the election maize

††††† 29 March 2005 04:16

††††††††††† President Robert Mugabe's claims of the triumph of his seizures
of white-owned farms ring hollow at campaign rallies where people are
hungry.

††††††††††† Confronted by unenthusiastic crowds, Mugabe has admitted for the
first time while campaigning that the country is confronted by widespread
food shortages.
††††††††††† Meanwhile, police have threatened to jail a civic leader who has
charged that the government is withholding food from areas that support the
opposition.

††††††††††† But the food shortages are undeniable. Maize meal supplies have
been erratic in both rural and urban areas over the past month, with
supermarkets in the cities without stocks for days. Zimbabwean residents say
large areas of planted crops stand dry and damaged, and international
agencies estimate that more than four-million Zimbabweans are in need of
food aid.

††††††††††† Speaking in Zimbabwe's rural heartland, Mugabe was forced to
acknowledge that the people were suffering from a lack of maize, the
country's staple grain. At a rally for his Zanu-PF party on March 17 in
Gutu, in southeastern Zimbabwe, Mugabe blamed the shortages on the failure
of the seasonal rains.

††††††††††† "The main problem we are facing is one of drought and the
shortage of food, we are going to work out a hunger alleviation programme
... I promise you that no one will starve," Mugabe told a listless crowd of
7 000, according to Reuters. The villagers sat through Mugabe's 40-minute
speech, many with blank faces.

††††††††††† International aid agencies say at least four-million people -- a
third of the population -- will need food aid this year after a bad harvest
due to poor utilisation of the lands seized from white farmers, scanty
rainfall and inadequate supplies of seed and fertiliser to small rural
farmers.

††††††††††† Leading civic rights group, the National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA), charged on March 17 that Mr Mugabe's ruling party was using food as a
political tool, with people in areas short of food having to produce party
cards to get supplies.

††††††††††† Campaigning candidates from Zanu-PF threaten hungry villages
that they will not get state food supplies if they do not vote for the
ruling party, according to a report issued on March 21 by Human Rights
Watch.

††††††††††† Mugabe denies his land seizure policy has sparked off the
country's worst economic crisis, blaming instead the sanctions imposed on
his government by some western governments.

††††††††††† "We had tried in the farming sector but the drought has let us
down. I have made a promise to your traditional leaders that we are not
going to let you down," Mr Mugabe said in Gutu.

††††††††††† The regional famine early warning system has cautioned since
last year that Zimbabwe would be facing food shortages. Last month the
agency reported that the most serious shortages were in the drought-prone
provinces of Matabeleland, Manicaland and Masvingo, where analysts say that
if Mugabe's party loses any support, it could swing the vote in favour of
the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

††††††††††† For more than a year Mugabe has adamantly maintained that the
land seizures have been an unqualified success and that the country has
enjoyed a bumper harvest.

††††††††††† Last year Mugabe stopped international donors from distributing
food to rural areas. "We are not hungry, why foist this food on us? We don't
want to be choked on your aid," an indignant Mugabe said on Sky TV.

††††††††††† But critics say his main reason for blocking the aid was to give
his government total control over all food supplies during the election
period. The state Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has a legislated monopoly over
all sales and transportation of maize.

††††††††††† Political analysts say Zanu-PF -- which draws most of its
support from rural people who make up more than 60% of the population --†
must show it can handle the food crisis competently or risk losing this
support.

††††††††††† "The hunger is very real and the shortages are obvious," said a
Harare-based commentator. "Even the state media can no longer mask it. He's
compelled to say something."

††††††††††† The MDC said the country urgently needed 1,5-million tonnes of
the staple maize to avert hunger. Shadow minister for agriculture, Renson
Gasela, said Zimbabwe required urgent food aid and Mugabe's government could
not handle an unfolding crisis.

††††††††††† Gasela said the government had no foreign currency and could not
mobilise donor support because it lacked legitimacy. Also, international aid
agencies would be reluctant to help Zimbabwe after Mugabe stopped donors
distributing food last year.

††††††††††† Gasela charged that Zanu-PF was politicising food, especially in
the drought-prone Matabeleland and Midlands regions, known as areas of MDC
support, and that most people attending opposition rallies complained of
hunger.

††††††††††† The NCA repeated the charges that Mugabe's party has used food
as an elections weapon. "The use of food as a tool for campaigning is noted
as a cause for concern because clearly it is a violation and it would appear
to constitute vote buying," said spokesperson Jessie Majome, presenting the
NCA report to Harare-based diplomats.

††††††††††† Later, police threatened to arrest NCA leader Lovemore Madhuku
for the allegations in the report. "I stand by every detail in our report,"
said Madhuku. "I am prepared to defend the accusations in court.

††††††††††† "Everyone knows there is not enough food and that people are
going hungry. Everyone knows that you must be Zanu-PF to buy maize meal from
the Grain Marketing Board."

††††††††††† The NCA said it obtained its information from community monitors
in eight of the country's 10 provinces and that they backed the allegations
of food supply manipulation.

††††††††††† The NCA is a loose coalition of churches, student and labour
unions, business and rights groups that has lobbied for a new constitution
to replace one it says entrenches Mugabe's power. The group denies charges
that it is anti-government.

††††††††††† International rights group Amnesty International has also
accused Mugabe's government of manipulating the GMB. It said GMB officials
limit access to maize meal purchases to Zanu-PF members and control
shipments of maize meal to create artificial shortages in
opposition-dominated areas. The government has denied the charges. -
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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Reuters

Zimbabwe's MDC Accuses ZANU PF of Faking Leaflets
Tue Mar 29, 2005 03:27 PM ET

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party Tuesday said the ruling
ZANU-PF was sending out fake leaflets saying the party it was pulling out of
this week's parliamentary poll, but ZANU-PF denied the charge.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it has been
deprived of access to media and has had difficulty holding rallies ahead of
Thursday's poll, in which it aims to take seats from President Robert
Mugabe's party.

"We are aware of a so-called flier being sent around suggesting we are
pulling out of the election and we believe it is being printed by
ZANU-PF...and we are making a report to the police," MDC secretary-general
Welshman Ncube told Reuters. "Clearly it is an act of desperation by
ZANU-PF."

ZANU-PF information and publicity secretary Nathan Shamuyarira rejected the
accusation, telling Reuters: "We are not putting out any such fliers."

Police chief spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said he was
not aware of any such pamphlets being sent around, or of any report made to
police.

"But it is an offence under the Electoral Act to suggest that anyone has
stood down from the election," Bvudzijena said.

Earlier, the MDC accused ZANU PF members of killing one of its supporters in
a "politically motivated" attack, but police said the death looked to be the
result of a bar brawl.

The MDC earlier this year reversed a threat to boycott the March 31 poll,
saying it had decided to participate under protest against an electoral
climate it says favors the ruling party. ZANU-PF insists the polls will be
free and fair.

Tuesday Mugabe said he had no fear of losing the election, dismissing MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai as an empty-headed British "puppy."

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, routinely accuses
the MDC of being a front for the former colonial power, which he says wants
to see him ousted over his controversial drive to forcibly redistribute
white-owned commercial farms among blacks.
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Christian Science Monitor

A rising China counters US clout in Africa

Trade drives political role ahead of Zimbabwe's election.

By Abraham McLaughlin | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

HARARE, ZIMBABWE - The Chinese economic juggernaut and its thirst for
minerals and markets has increasingly brought it to Africa, including here
to Zimbabwe. The fertile hills of this Southern African nation are rich with
gold and the world's second-largest platinum reserves. In Sudan, Angola, and
along the Gulf of Guinea, the Asian giant is guzzling the continent's vast
oil supply.
But lately the Chinese are digging on a different front, one that could
complicate the Bush administration's efforts to promote democracy here:
African politics.

Last year, China stymied US efforts to levy sanctions on Sudan, which
supplies nearly 5 percent of China's oil and where the US says genocide has
occurred in its Darfur region. And as Zimbabwe becomes more isolated from
the West, China has sent crates of T-shirts for ruling-party supporters who
will vote in Thursday's parliamentary elections.

In addition, China or its businesses have reportedly:

. provided a radio-jamming device for a military base outside the capital,
preventing independent stations from balancing state-controlled media during
the election campaign;

. begun to deliver 12 fighter jets and 100 trucks to Zimbabwe's Army amid a
Western arms embargo; and

. designed President Robert Mugabe's new 25-bedroom mansion, complete with
helipad. The cobalt-blue tiles for its swooping roof, which echoes Beijing's
Forbidden City, were a Chinese gift.

China is increasingly making its presence felt on the continent - from
building roads in Kenya and Rwanda to increasing trade with Uganda and South
Africa. But critics say its involvement in politics could help prop up
questionable regimes, like Mr. Mugabe's increasingly autocratic 25-year
reign.

"Suffering under the effects of international isolation, Zimbabwe has looked
to new partners, including China, who won't attach conditions, such as
economic and political reform" to their support, says a Western diplomat
here. Of China's influence on this week's elections, he adds, "I find it
hard to believe the Chinese would push hard for free and fair elections -
it's not the standard they're known for."

Indeed, Mugabe often praises China and Asia as part of his new "Look East"
policy. He responded to tough questions from an interviewer on Britain's Sky
News last year about building his $9 million new home, while millions of
Zimbabweans live on the verge of starvation, by saying: "You say it's lavish
because it is attractive. It has Chinese roofing material, which makes it
very beautiful, but it was donated to us. The Chinese are our good friends,
you see."

China is becoming good friends to many African nations, as the US has been.
Between 2002 and 2003, China-Africa trade jumped 50 percent, to $18.5
billion, Chinese officials say. It's expected to grow to $30 billion by
2006. US-Africa trade was $44.5 billion last year, according to the Commerce
Department. As the world's largest oil importer behind the US, China has oil
interests in Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, Angola, and Gabon. The US is also hunting
for oil in Africa, with about 10 percent of imports coming from the
continent.

Not all of China's activities in Africa are controversial. Under the
auspices of the UN, the China-Africa Business Council opened this month,
headquartered in China, to boost trade and development. It has peacekeepers
in Liberia and has contributed to construction projects in Ethiopia,
Tanzania, and Zambia, though critics say it is using these projects to
garner goodwill that it can tap into during prickly issues like Taiwan's
independence or UN face-offs with the US.

Here in Zimbabwe, China also may be helping to support one of Africa's more
oppressive regimes. The radio-jamming equipment that has prevented the
independent Short Wave Radio Africa from broadcasting into the country is
Chinese, according to the US-funded International Broadcast Bureau.

Reporters Without Borders, a group dedicated to freedom of the press, based
in Paris, had this to say about the jamming: "Thanks to support from China,
which exports its repressive expertise, Robert Mugabe's government has yet
again just proved itself to be one of the most active predators of press
freedom."

A Chinese diplomat here insists the equipment didn't come from China. And he
says the T-shirts, which reportedly arrived on Air Zimbabwe's new direct
flight from Beijing, were "purely a business transaction." But he adds that
China-Zimbabwe relations have recently "been cemented in the field of
politics and business."

In return for its support, China has received diplomatic backing on Taiwan's
independence, as it has from many African nations.

Ultimately, China's expansion into Zimbabwe and Africa is more narrow than
the 1800s colonization by European powers, when "Christianity, civilization,
and commerce" were the buzzwords. For China, it's all about economics.
"They've said: 'If you agree to privatize and sell to us your railways, your
electricity generation, etc. - we will come in with capital," says John
Robertson, an economist based in Harare.

With an economy that has shrunk as much as 40 percent in five years,
Zimbabwe's government uses these promises to put off critics. "The
government says, 'The Chinese are coming, and they'll bring in billions of
dollars in investment, and soon everything will be fully restored,' " Mr.
Robertson says.
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Christian Science Monitor

Mbeki's Big Test

The Monitor's View

With parliamentary elections Thursday in Zimbabwe - labeled an "outpost of
tyranny" by the US - African leaders have another opportunity to address one
of their own regional problems.
Doing more for itself has been the continent's express desire in recent
years. The world witnessed a shining example of that recently when Western
African nations successfully pressured tiny Togo to adhere to its
constitution and schedule elections after the passing of its longtime
dictator.

But where is Africa now? More specifically, where is South African leader
Thabo Mbeki, Africa's "point man" (George Bush's designation) on Zimbabwe?

Along with Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, President Mbeki is Africa's
most public face on human rights, peace, and economic development. He's
sought to broker peace agreements in Burundi, Congo, and the Ivory Coast. He
pushed to create new pan-African, problem-solving organizations like the
African Union. And as the leader of Zimbabwe's neighbor and economic
partner, he's the most influential and dominant player in the region.

But Mbeki has given Zimbabwe's questionable elections advance approval,
saying: "I have no reason to think that anybody in Zimbabwe will militate in
a way so that the elections will not be free and fair."

Is that so? Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe may have opted for less
violence in this election, and even given the opposition limited access to
state TV. But this sheen of legitimacy can't hide significant electoral
flaws: harassed political opponents; closed newspapers; outdated voter rolls
that include an estimated 800,000 invalid names; select absentee balloting;
and food shortages as a political weapon (this, when nearly 5 million
Zimbabweans verge on acute hunger).

Undoubtedly, Mbeki is sensitive to Mr. Mugabe's respect among many black
South Africans as a victor over white colonialism - despite driving his
economy to ruin. Perhaps Mbeki hopes that circumstances, such as Mugabe's
age and recent internal divisions in Mugabe's own party, will solve this
problem for him.

Actually, it's not up to Mbeki to "solve" the problem of democracy in
Zimbabwe. But he must not give these elections a pass. He and other African
leaders have sent election monitors there. Impartial observers can add
considerable pressure in righting election wrongs, as Ukraine showed last
year.

If Mbeki legitimizes these elections, he risks his role as a force for
progress in Africa. Worse, he'll be letting down the people of Zimbabwe,
who've already suffered enough.
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New Zimbabwe

Moyo petition throws Zimbabwe election in doubt

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 03/30/2005 07:48:25
ZIMBABWE'S former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has filed an
urgent High Court petition seeking an interdict to stop Thursday's
parliamentary elections because of a dispute over the number of polling
agents needed per constituency.

His lawyer, Kossam Ncube filed the papers Wednesday night at about 9pm
Zimbabwe time.

The matter is expected to be heard at the Bulawayo High Court Wednesday.

Moyo, who was expelled from Zanu PF and government following accusations of
plotting a coup is standing as an independent candidate in Tsholotsho
constituency in Matabeleland North.

Moyo wants the elections throughout the country suspended until the issue of
the polling agents is addressed.

Moyo, in an interview last week warned that if the issue of polling officers
was not addressed, the poll would be a "washout".

"In terms of the law, there shall in each polling station be at least three
voting compartments, each containing at least one ballot box, allocated for
the use of voters whose surnames begin with the letters A to L, M, and N to
Z," Moyo said lat Friday.

"This means that each candidate will need at least four election agents,
three inside and one outside. But as it is, each candidate will have two
agents, one inside and the other outside."

Moyo, author of Voting for Democracy which explores in detail the electoral
system in Zimbabwe, told the weekly Zimbabwe Independent newspaper last week
it would be impossible for election agents to cope, resulting in serious
delays.

"How can one person deal with three copies of the voters' roll, three
polling booths, three queues of voters and counting of ballots from three
booths at the same time?" Moyo asked.

"There should have been adequate arrangements for this new electoral
dispensation. I raised the issue with (Justice Minister Patrick) Chinamasa
two weeks ago but there has been no action taken. The relevant authorities
continue to dilly-dally and exhibit ignorance about these fundamental
issues," Moyo said.

"Meanwhile, time is ticking away and we are getting closer to the poll. If
they continue to vacillate we will seek court intervention on these issues.

"A rose is still a rose by any other name," Moyo said. "The reality is that
the same old institutions and staff are still in charge of the electoral
process. Nothing has changed."

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