Mugabe warns that opposition election victory will not be
Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria, and agencies in Tsholotsho and
Harare Wednesday March 30, 2005 The Guardian
Mugabe called the Zimbabwean opposition "traitors" yesterday and accused the
Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai of running to the
British "like a puppy wagging its tail". As the tension increased before
tomorrow's general election, Mr Mugabe told 20,000 supporters that his
party, Zanu-PF, would win a "free and fair" contest with the MDC, whose
leader he mocked as a "big-headed man with no brain".
runs to the British like a puppy wagging its tail, campaigning for
sanctions, and asking to be installed as leader," he said at one of his
biggest rallies since electioneering began a month ago. Later he declared
that victory by the opposition party "will not be
Reginald Matchaba-Hove, director of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Support Network, said he was concerned about Mr Mugabe's remarks
and had asked foreign observers to stay in the country for at least a week
after polling for fear of renewed violence.
The opposition said
yesterday that one of its supporters had been killed by Zanu-PF members: its
first accusation of murder in the campaign.
The police denied that the
crime was politically motivated.
The EU dismissed the elec tions as
"phoney", yesterday, and said that it would take unspecified steps against
"As soon as these phoney elections have been held, I can commit
myself to the fact that the issue of Zimbabwe will be on the [EU council of
ministers'] agenda when we next meet," the deputy foreign minister of
Luxembourg, Nicholas Schmit, said.
On Sunday the Roman Catholic
Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, called for a "nonviolent mass popular up
rising" if Zanu-PF won the general election by fraud.
said Mr Mugabe's comments revived ominous memories of moves against
suspected opposition voters after previous elections.
"It may be quiet
now, but we are not sure what will happen after these elections," he
"You are dealing with people who bullied everyone into silence in
Voters will choose 120 members of Zimbabwe's 150-seat
parliament. The president ap points the remaining 30 seats, so the MDC needs
to win 76 seats for a majority.
Mr Mugabe's former information
minister Jonathan Moyo told Reuters that the president's remarks showed that
he was unable to accept a democratic opposition.
"[He] has an
unfortunate habit of always accusing opponents of plotting a coup. That
might demonstrate his attitude to the democratic process," he
Mr Moyo, who is standing as an independent in his home area,
Tsholotsho, said Mr Mugabe's rhetoric showed that he was nervous about the
outcome of the elections, which he described as too close to
He hoped that voters would deny Zanu-PF the two-thirds
parliamentary majority it is seeking, which would enable it to amend the
constitution and strengthen its grip on power.
Mr Tsvangirai focused on the economy, as has been his party's strategy
throughout. Zimbabwe's farms, industry, education and international
relations had all been destroyed, he said, speaking in his home region,
"How are we going to rebuild Zimbabwe? You and me have to work
together," he said.
Yesterday was expected to be the last day of
campaigning, but electoral officials said additional rallies would be
Mugabe prepares for threat of uprising by arming youth
militia By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg 30 March 2005
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is not taking lightly a respected
cleric's call for a Ukrainian-style uprising to overthrow his
Sources close to Mr Mugabe said yesterday that the President had
taken a last-minute decision to secretly arm thousands of party youth
militias. He has already readied troops in case the opposition heeds the
call from Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, for a peaceful uprising to
oust him from power if he steals tomorrow's ballot, as widely
Archbishop Ncube is the Roman Catholics' second most senior
cleric in Zimbabwe. His unprecedented call for a peaceful uprising to stop
Mr Mugabe, whom he has branded a brutal crook who relies on ballot theft to
cling to power, has seemingly energised a previously cowed
The sources said that Mr Mugabe had ordered the army to provide
the youth militias with weapons and maintain them in army barracks should
their services be required.
The youth militias were indoctrinated at
ruling party training camps across the country under a national youth
service training programme.
Although they had been used previously to
commit violent acts on Mr Mugabe's enemies, he had not integrated them with
the army or provided them with heavy weaponry.
Mr Mugabe has also
recalled retired soldiers and taken delivery of a consignment of arms from
China and Iran to ensure the army is well-equipped.
It is believed that
about 40,000 militias had been trained in the youth camps. Up to 15,000
would have been roped into army barracks by now and supplied with heavy
weaponry. Even if nothing happens after the election, they will be
integrated into the army and police to ensure their loyalty, military
The Zimbabwe army and the defence ministry refused to
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The Zimbabwean official opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) will deploy its own "army of the poor" to
monitor tomorrow's polling in the general parliamentary election, says its
economics spokesman Eddie Cross.
In a statement, he said the party would
deploy an army of peasant farmers, widows, grandmothers and low-income
workers numbering some 35,000 - who had volunteered to have their names
printed in newspapers along with their identity numbers and physical
addresses - who would "go out to witness and supervise the elections at
8,300 polling stations".
"They will have to walk to their stations in
most cases. Many will sleep at the stations they are looking after because
they live too far away. Only a handful will have their own transport and the
MDC simply cannot move them to their stations because they themselves have
"They will vary from illiterate people who cannot write their
names to teachers and headmasters who have defied their government employers
to help. They will carry small packs - a candle, a box of matches, some
toilet paper, two kilograms of maize meal and some form of 'relish' to go
with it. Perhaps some water in a plastic bottle."
Cross said they
"will have to man their stations for up to 24 hours straight - no sleep as
people will vote all day and in some cases well into the night. They run the
risk of physical violence and intimidation and offers of money to abandon
their posts or allow the operation of the station to be subverted while they
He added that they had already been threatened with the loss
of their jobs, transfers to hostile places and the denial of food and
medicine for their families. In Masvingo the head of the armed forces said
this past week that the "bushes would become soldiers and MDC supporters
"At their polling stations they will enter a totally hostile
environment. There will be police present, probably youth militia, peasant
farmers will be faced with their traditional leaders all of who are paid to
work for the State and Zanu-PF. All the officials in the polling station
will be hostile - probably drawn from the army or the CIO (Central
"Even the staff of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission will be vetted by Zanu-PF and will be proven Zanu supporters and
cadres," claimed Cross.
But he said: "They will have had a days training
from the MDC and a couple of hours with the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission). They are the only way we can stop the kind of activity that we
saw and experienced in (the parliamentary election of) 2000 and (the
presidential election of) 2002 - which resulted in the election being stolen
from the democrats.
"They are in small groups - three per station, in
lonely places, many kilometres from the nearest town. They are armed only
with their principles and pens. They cannot call on reinforcements if they
get into trouble and we may not even get news of them for hours after any
incidents. But these are the people who are holding the line for democracy
in Africa and I am so proud to be one of them."
BRUSSELS - The European
Union dismissed Zimbabwe's parliamentary election as "phoney" on Tuesday,
two days before it takes place, and said the bloc would take unspecified
steps against Harare as soon as possible.
"As soon as these phoney
elections have been held, I can commit myself to the fact that the issue of
Zimbabwe will be on the Council's agenda when we next meet," Luxembourg's
Deputy Foreign Minister Nicolas Schmit said, referring to the council of 25
"At first sight it appears that they do not at all
comply with internationally recognised election standards, but the Council
will definitely take steps as soon as possible," he told the European
Luxembourg holds the EU's presidency until June and
Schmit, who was standing in for Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, was
speaking with the authority of all EU governments.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Tuesday he had no fear of his
ZANU-PF party losing the elections.
Mugabe is trying to persuade
the world he has improved democratic governance since bloodshed and
allegations of rigging marred polls in 2000 and 2002.
international observers, from the South African government, parliament and
ruling ANC, as well as the Southern African Development Community and the
African Union will monitor the elections.
But there will be none
from the Commonwealth, the United States, Britain or the EU, drawing scorn
"Mr. Mugabe is not a big fan of election observers, in
fact he won't allow any observers to look at his elections," he told the
Zimbabwe opposition's 'tell a friend' plan to foil vote
riggers By Peta Thornycroft in Harare (Filed: 30/03/2005)
down the result, tell a friend, then run like hell!" This was the order to
polling agents for Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic
Change, before they began moving off to monitor more than 8,000 polling
stations ahead of tomorrow's general election.
It is designed to spread a
word-of-mouth picture of the results at each polling station before they are
fed into a central election office in Harare controlled by some of President
Robert Mugabe's most loyal aides.
The octogenarian president is said to
have everything in place to ensure victory. Critics say polling stations
will be run by cowed officials, with voter rolls bloated with phantom
In isolated rural areas and farms, villagers have been threatened
with being denied food or being sacked if they are found voting for the
opposition. The media dare not stray from supporting him.
four large groups of foreign observers will monitor the election but they
are all linked to supporters of Mr Mugabe, while any organisations critical
of the regime have been banned.
Three are dominated by members of South
Africa's ruling African National Congress, whose leader, President Thabo
Mbeki, supports Mr Mugabe.
The fourth, from the Southern African
Development Community, is led by a South African cabinet minister, Phumzile
Mlambo-Nguka, who has spoken encouragingly on Zimbabwe's state-controlled
media about the electoral climate. Sources inside the observer groups say
they believe the words "sufficiently free and fair" will emerge in their
The EU is highly critical of the arrangements. Speaking on
behalf of the EU presidency, Luxemburg's junior foreign minister, Nicolas
Schmit, said yesterday that the conditions were deeply worrying because Mr
Mugabe "would tolerate no observation of this sham election".
worried and shocked, not only by this pseudo-election campaign but by what's
been going on there for years," Schmit said, promising it would be debated
by EU foreign ministers.
Justice for Agriculture, a pressure group, says
Zanu PF has warned some remaining white farmers that if people vote for the
opposition at polling stations on their farm they will be
John Worsley-Worswick, the chief executive, said: "Farmers in
two provinces have contacted us as they are under extreme pressure to ensure
that no votes are cast for the opposition on their farms. They were told
that they survive only because Zanu PF allows it."
This time, the
authorities in rural areas will find it easier than ever to identify who
voted for the opposition. There are twice as many polling stations in rural
areas as in the last election in 2002.
"Zanu PF will be able to identify,
village by village, if people voted for the opposition. There were too many
polling stations in rural areas for the last election. Now there are even
more," said a senior Zimbabwe election lawyer who asked not to be named for
Government militia tells people vote ZANU PF or else. Wed
30 March 2005 BULAWAYO - Hundreds of the government's dreaded youth
militia deployed in the opposition stronghold of Bulawayo this week are
threatening people here to vote for the ruling ZANU PF party tomorrow or
face unspecified punishment.
A ZimOnline news crew yesterday
saw some of the youths, clad in their green military type fatigues,
patrolling the central business district and the city's Belmont industrial
An executive at a cloth manufacturing firm, who did not want
his name or the name of his company revealed for fear of victimization,
explained how the youths threatened to deal with him after he refused to
tell his workers to vote for ZANU PF tomorrow.
"They came at my
office today (Tuesday) and ordered me to command my employees to vote for
their party. I told them to leave, but they became antagonistic and accused
me of supporting the MDC (opposition Movement for Democratic Change party)
before threatening me with unspecified punishment," the company executive
. Residents living in and around the city
centre also told of how the youths, who were first seen in the city last
Monday, were visiting them at their homes telling them to ensure the ruling
party wins in the city or face reprisals.
A resident at a block
flats just outside the city centre, who identified herself only as Phumzile,
said:"We are sick and tired of these youth militias. They have threatened
some of us here and we have since reported the matter to the
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena would not comment on
the reports that the youth militias were intimidating people to vote for
ZANU PF but insisted the police was working out to ensure a violence free
Bulawayo ZANU PF stalwart and the party's deputy national
commissar, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, however denied that the youths had been
deployed in the city to coerce people to vote for ZANU PF.
"There is no vestige of truth in that. It's a lie being peddled by a few
individuals who are sensing defeat in the elections. ZANU PF is not a
violent party," Ndlovu said.
The youth militias trained under
the government's national youth service training programme have been accused
of torturing raping and murdering MDC supporters. The government denies the
charge saying its youth training programme is meant to inculcate discipline
and patriotism in young Zimbabweans.
Bulawayo like Harare is
one of the strongest bastions of support for the MDC with the opposition
party defeating ZANU PF in all elections held in the city since
Revelations of the youths intimidating people in Bulawayo
comes amid reports that an MDC activist was murdered near Harare last
Thursday by suspected ZANU PF militants.
Open violence has
remained relatively low compared to previous elections in 2000 and 2002. But
the MDC maintains that intimidation has gone on unchecked especially in
remote rural areas where traditional chiefs on the payroll of the government
are intimidating their subjects to vote for ZANU PF.
More polling officers expelled for not supporting ZANU
PF Wed 30 March 2005
GWANDA - Five more polling officers have
been barred from tomorrow's election after being accused of being
sympathetic to the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
The five, who are teachers in Matabeleland South province,
bring to 1005 the number of people who were being trained or had already
been trained as polling officers who have been dropped from the election at
the last minute because they are suspected of not supporting the
David Magagula, Dumezweni Nkala, Nkululeko Khoza,
Stalin Dube and Reuben Tshuma had to drop out of final training as polling
and presiding officers after anonymous callers told them by phone that they
were no longer needed because they were "enemies of the state."
"The caller never identified himself. He just told me that I am an enemy of
the state, that I should pass the same message on to Nkala," said Magagula
explaining how he found out he had been dropped from tomorrow's
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party
routinely accuse MDC supporters of being enemies of the state. At a rally
last Sunday Mugabe repeated the accusation calling people who vote for the
MDC tomorrow traitors.
Magagula told ZimOnline that when he
checked with a Mr. Chigare, who is an official with the Registrar General's
office that is training polling officers, he was told that orders to drop
him had come from "higher offices."
The Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) which is overall in charge of the election could not be
reached for comment on the matter last night.
But Registrar General
Tobaiwa Mudede, himself a well known ZANU PF supporter, said people being
barred from working as polling officers might be known members of the MDC
and could therefore not be trusted to carry out their duties
"There are many opposition members within the civil
service. It is up to the electoral officials to decide who is suitable for
polling duties and who is not," said Mudede.
Earlier in the
week on Sunday ZANU PF chairman for Mashonaland East province Ray Kaukonde
barred 1 000 teachers who had been deployed as polling officers in Mudzi
district in the same province.
Kaukonde, who himself is ZANU PF
candidate for Mudzi, allegedly told the polling officers they could not
conduct voting in the area because they were MDC supporters.
While the ZEC is work charged with running the election Mudede supported by
former and serving army and police officers is effectively running the show.
JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) will
today demonstrate at Beitbridge border post against repression and
human right abuses by President Robert Mugabe after the Pretoria High Court
yesterday turned down a police application to block the
COSATU spokesman Pat Craven said the union will hold a
march and an all night vigil at Beitbridge but would observe restrictions
imposed by the court not to blockade traffic at the border post, which is a
vital lifeline to Zimbabwe.
Craven said, "The court granted
permission for the demonstrations to take place as long as we march on the
shoulders of the road. The ruling also says we should monitor the number of
demonstrators and ensure that they do not exceed 10 000 to ensure that they
do not disrupt traffic heading to and from the border post
are a law abiding union and we will stick with the decision of the court
..we shall stick by the provisions of the ruling."
official said marchers will start converging at Musina town near Beitbridge
at around 9.00 am before proceeding to the border.
The police had
wanted the march barred saying it could compromise security and safety of
traffic on the busy highway linking South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Today's demonstration wraps up a series of protests and picketing at
Beitbridge border post and at Zimbabwe's embassy in Pretoria by COSATU since
The union, which is in a ruling alliance with
President Thabo Mbeki's African National Congress (ANC) party and the South
African Communist Party (SACP), has led open criticism against Mugabe and
The powerful union on two occasions attempted to send
fact-finding missions to Zimbabwe to asses the human rights situation in
that country but its delegations were deported.
The SACP backs
COSATU's robust approach against Mugabe while Mbeki and his ANC refuse to
openly condemn the Zimbabwean leader. ZimOnline.
MDC predicts high turn out tomorrow Wed 30 March
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party has predicted a high turn out in tomorrow's key election
saying voter enthusiasm was high in rural and urban areas
MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi said the opposition party
was only concerned with the administration of the election as more polling
officers who had already been trained or were being trained to conduct
voting were being dropped at the last minute after being accused of
sympathising with the his party.
Themba-Nyathi said, "I have no
doubt that they will not be apathy, there is the same enthusiasm in rural
areas as in urban areas. This is a watershed election I do not see any
apathy at all."
Open violence has been low-key in the run up to the
parliamentary poll as compared with previous elections in 2000 and
Some political analysts had feared that the MDC's decision to
leave it until February to confirm it was going to contest the poll might
have worked against it causing apathy among the party's
But turn out at the opposition party's rallies as well
as at rallies by the ruling ZANU PF party has been high suggesting a higher
turn out at the polls tomorrow. ZimOnline.
HARARE - The South African government observer mission on Tuesday met
Catholic Church bishop, Pius Ncube, in an attempt to resolve differences
between the clergyman and President Robert Mugabe and his
Leader of Pretoria's observer mission Ngoako Ramatlhodi
told the Press that they were concerned with statements by the bishop, a
long time critic of Mugabe, that Zimbabweans were so fed up with Mugabe that
most of them were parrying that he dies.
Ncube also accused
Mugabe, who belongs to the majority Shona tribe, was denying food to the
minority Ndebele tribe in southern Zimbabwe as punishment for supporting the
Mugabe and his government have dismissed Ncube's
accusations saying the bishop was bent on dividing Zimbabweans along tribal
Secret tour of Zimbabwean wards shows collapse of health
system By Meera Selva in Bulawayo 30 March 2005
one of the main public hospitals in Bulawayo, you pass a wide, curved
roundabout outside casualty. It was carefully designed to allow several
ambulances to drop patients off as close to the door as possible, before
driving off seamlessly to another emergency.
But now, the driveway is
empty. Most patients who can afford the hospital fees come in on rickety
minibuses, with every jolt making their pain worse. The wealthier come in
borrowed cars that belch fumes, making the passengers cough.
doctor remembers exactly when the ambulances disappeared. "During the
constitutional referendum [in early 2000] Zanu-PF commandeered all
parastatal transport, including ambulances, to go and campaign," he
recalled. "The vehicles were completely wrecked and a viable hospital
referral system, which brought patients in from the countryside at regular
Zimbabwe's health sector was once the envy
of other African countries, but two decades of mismanagement, neglect and
theft have left the country short of medical care. The government realises
that the health sector is something to be ashamed of - it rarely allows
foreigners to enter public hospitals unless they are on an official,
One doctor, who asked not to be identified, agreed
to show me around his hospital as long as I pretended I was searching for a
relative. "Maybe your 'uncle' is in here," he said, opening the door to the
emergency operating theatre. "Though I hope for his sake he
It was clear what he meant - the furniture was broken, and the
overhead light, needed for surgeons to see what they are operating on,
needed a new fuse. Technically, the hospital still had a functioning
casualty unit but anyone needing emergency surgery risked being killed by a
collapsing operating table.
The other wards were just as chaotic. The
maternity ward has a working ultrasound machine, but the person who knows
how it works only comes in two days a week. The store-room was alarmingly
bare. The hospital was short of the basic medicines needed to treat heart
disease, fevers and malaria. Expensive drugs like anti-retrovirals did not
exist. Most of the shortages appear to be caused by erratic
"There is a different excuse for everything, but I'm not
interested," the doctor said. "In one case, the contract is given to an
indigenous supplier who could not deliver, another company was not paid for
12 months so stopped shipping medicines, or the manager simply has no idea
how many canulas he needs to order each month."
staff have already fled the country. The doctor who showed us around the
hospital said five of his colleagues have left in the past few years - some
because they were offered better salaries elsewhere, others because they
were car-jacked or fed up with the working conditions. Inflation is so high
in some areas that the government has recruited Cuban doctors and paid them
in foreign currency to cope with shortages.
Now, the wealthy in Zimbabwe
go to private hospitals. The poorest have simply given up on medical care.
Since the government reintroduced an upfront fee in the same year that it
gave large payouts to war veterans, at least half the hospital beds have
lain empty. The staff say patients cannot afford the bus fare to the
hospital, never mind the admission fees. And since the 1990s, standards in
hospitals have fallen so much that most patients know that, even if they are
seen by a doctor, they will not be cured.
"People have lost faith in
the system," said the doctor. They think: 'Why spend money on a
sub-standard, ineffective service?' Now, if they really want to be cured,
they go to a witch doctor." Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 33 years,
compared to 63 in 1988.
The decline of the health sector coincides with a
rapid rise in the rate of HIV infection. A report by Unicef shows that the
country has the fourth highest level of HIV/Aids in the world with at least
one in every four people being infected.
The government in Harare has
added a 6 per cent Aids levy on income tax to combat the problem, but it is
not clear where this money is going. Only two clinics in Bulawayo can supply
anti-retroviral drugs, and the waiting time just to be seen is five
Most staff remember the better days. At independence, Zimbabwe
boasted that it had the best medical system on the continent after South
Africa - all the new government had to do was make it accessible to
everyone. "At independence, Zimbabwe had a very viable medical system," said
the doctor. "The whites had the biggest share of the cake. That was
obviously bad. The government pushed through measures to equalise things for
a halcyon period before things were messed up. Now, after all that, we have
a health system on a par with Burkina Faso."
Zimbabwe Votes Wednesday, March 30, 2005;
IT'S EASY TO SEE why Zimbabwe's Archbishop Pius Ncube calls
for a "people power" uprising in his country. The parliamentary elections on
Thursday have been rigged so comprehensively that it's unlikely President
Robert Mugabe will be unseated no matter how much his 25 years in office
have harmed his countrymen. At least 1 million of the 5.7 million names on
Zimbabwe's voter rolls are thought to be fictitious; the ballot boxes are
made of transparent plastic; the polling stations will be run by pro-Mugabe
thugs from his security forces. The campaign, though less violent than some
previously, has featured brutal intimidation. People have been told that
districts that support the opposition will be denied food distributions, a
potent threat in a country where one-third of the population is on the verge
of hunger. The main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been forced to
defend himself against treason charges, and recently more than 200 of his
supporters were arrested after attending his rallies. "I hope that people
get so disillusioned that they really organize against the government and
kick him out by a nonviolent, popular, mass uprising," Archbishop Ncube told
a South African newspaper over the weekend.
If brave Zimbabweans can
be that outspoken, the question is why other African leaders are not. South
Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, has talked grandly of a new African
determination to create fairer and more honest government, and this
determination is cited by Africa boosters who want rich countries to come up
with extra aid. Zimbabwe is a model not only of bad government but also of
its consequences: Over the past five years, the economy has contracted by a
third; inflation has hit three digits; and some 3 million Zimbabweans have
emigrated in search of work. Yet Mr. Mbeki refuses to criticize Mr. Mugabe
publicly, even though he has the power to switch off his northern neighbor's
electricity. To the contrary, Mr. Mbeki has announced that he is confident
Zimbabwe's elections will be fair.
This refusal to recognize an obvious
problem, analogous to Mr. Mbeki's earlier refusal to acknowledge the threat
to his people from the AIDS virus, should not be politely ignored by Western
donors, notably the British government. The British are leading the
international charge for expanded aid for Africa this year; they want
assistance to double immediately and eventually to triple. In making the
case for this expansion, the British are happy to present the democratic
leaders of South Africa and Nigeria as evidence that democracy is taking
root on the continent and that Africans are doing their part to tackle their
own problems. But Mr. Mbeki's position on Zimbabwe makes it hard to take him
seriously as a force for broader political reform in Africa. If Britain
wants other donors to accept the idea that Africa deserves more aid, it
should tell South Africa's leader to make good on his rhetoric about good
governance by condemning a fraudulent vote in Zimbabwe.
Ruling party probed for blocking poll officers
March 30, 2005
By Moshoeshoe Monare
Harare - The
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is investing allegations that the ruling
party, Zanu-PF, has prevented 800 polling officers who were deployed to
manage voting stations from resuming duty.
spokes-person for the commission, yesterday confirmed that they had received
such complaints. "At the moment we have not made any findings but we are
investigating. We take it very seriously."
The opposition MDC
claims that 800 polling officers arrived at the Mudzi East parliamentary
offices at the Kotwe Business Centre on Sunday, only to be told to go back
to Harare upon arrival.
"The polling officers could not take the
guard's word and decided to seek an audience with the district
"A delegation representing the polling officers met
at about 10am with the district administrator, who told them that he had
enough human resources to run the elections and did not need polling
officers from Harare," said MDC secretary-general Welshman
"While the delegation representing the polling officers
was meeting with the district administrator, the Zanu-PF candidate for Mudzi
East, Ray Kaukonde, came to the centre in the company of other Zanu-PF
leaders, who told the polling officers they were not wanted in Mudzi because
they were MDC supporters and sympathisers."
Shamuyarira, Zanu-PF's secretary for information and publicity, dismissed
the allegations as the influence of British and Americans who don't want to
see "peaceful and well-organised elections".
"These are false
statements coming from groups under the influence of Britain and the US.
These allegations are entirely bogus.
"We are not involved in the
training and deployment of polling officers - it is the duty of the
electoral commission. The British are trying to generate conflict in the
last minutes to undermine our elections," said Shamuyarira.
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe -- As
Zimbabweans prepare to go to the polls on Thursday and Zimbabwe receives
global attention, if only for a few hours, it is important that the
desperate HIV situation there is acknowledged -- if for no other reason than
it is beginning to harm regional AIDS control programs funded by the US
Government and the private sector.
'"If I had enough to eat I
could take the adult dose", claims Lucy who is one of the "lucky"
Zimbabweans receiving treatment for HIV. Fragile, just able to lift her arm,
I was apparently seeing her at her best in her small shabby house she shares
with too many others in the unbearably poor outskirts of Zimbabwe's second
Everything is falling to pieces in Bulawayo
and especially the health care system. But while the regional African
Presidents see refugees pushing up their burden of malaria and HIV, they shy
from breaking ranks with a fellow African leader and refuse to condemn
Zimbabwe's patent contempt for democracy. It's time to ask whether aid to
the region should be stopped until these spineless leaders decide to act on
the only leader Zimbabwe has ever known -- his excellency, comrade President
Zimbabwe's rapidly escalating and
politically-induced humanitarian disaster, which has manifested itself in
chronic shortages of food, medicine, fuel, electricity and hard cash, has
driven over three million Zimbabweans into South Africa, Botswana and other
neighboring states. In a chilling echo of what the Khmer Rouge did in
Cambodia in the 1970s, Didymus Mutasa, Secretary of President Mugabe's
Zanu-PF government, said: "We would be better off with only six million
people". Prior to the crisis, Zimbabwe's population estimate was 12 million;
today 60 to 70 percent of the country's productive population is now living
elsewhere. Since the World Food Programme (WFP) was thrown out of the
country in December, what food remains is allocated along political lines,
leaving over 5 million malnourished: Secretary Mutasa may get his
Zimbabwean Health Collapse -- Probably the Worst in
According to Amnesty International many refugees
are assaulted or raped on arrival and destitute young women frequently end
up as prostitutes. The refugees know it's going to be very hard, but leaving
is still preferable to staying.
Twenty years ago, life
expectancy in Zimbabwe was 58; in 2002 it was 33 and dropping. The official
HIV/AIDS rate in 2002 was about 25 percent (the highest in the world for any
sizeable country), but the real rate is probably much higher. With no hope
for treatment, and little for long term survival, behavior rapidly worsens.
According to one survey, over a third of Zimbabwean men who are aware they
are HIV positive do not tell their partners they have the disease. And
astonishingly 79% of women surveyed said they would not tell their partner
if they had HIV. As one put it to me - "life is too short here to worry
Dr. Mark Dixon from Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo
says that 70 percent of the patients he treats for any reason carry the HIV
virus. A possible explanation for this extraordinary number is the high
incidence of unprotected sex (usually rape) in Mugabe's youth camps, where
sexual power is used to suppress dissent against the ruling
Over 250,000 Zimbabweans now die from AIDS annually.
Many sufferers have no drugs and no future, as they are too sick to travel
and seek treatment abroad. The only good thing about this is that they won't
carry the virus elsewhere. Younger Zimbabweans, who are generally healthy
though malnourished, leave if they possibly can. This is exactly the age
group that carries the highest HIV burden -- estimated by local doctors to
be over 40 percent -- and they take the virus with them wherever they
To make matters worse, some of the Zimbabwean strains
of HIV are probably resistant to drugs that were used in frequently
interrupted trials in Zimbabwe. In Bulawayo, Lucy's drug regimen has been
changed twice in the past six months, once due to drug shortages, the second
due to lack of food, without which she was unable to take the correct dosage
South Africa Takes the Strain, Can
South Africa, with its 42 million people, is
perhaps big enough and rich enough to accommodate the Zimbabwean influx.
Other countries are not so well placed. According to figures from
nongovernmental organizations working in the region, Botswana, with just
over a million people, now probably hosts more than 200,000 illegal
Zimbabwean immigrants. And that allows for the thousands who are
unofficially deported from Botswana back to Zimbabwe every week (official
figures talk of only 2,500 per month, but NGOs say it's far higher).The
permanent and temporary influx has caused terrible strains, leading to
conflict, rape, and the possibility of increasing the HIV rate from an
already staggering 38 percent.
The HIV infection rate in
Zambia and Mozambique is worsening. Official figures say it's 16.5% and
12.2% respectively, but neither country has the level of border control
enjoyed by Botswana and hundreds of thousands of HIV-positive Zimbabweans
may well be entering both countries.
According to Michael
Biemba, the Livingstone council AIDS coordinator, HIV rates are 55% in
Livingstone (the closest Zambian town to Zimbabwe) and this is partly due to
the influx of prostitutes from Zimbabwe. There are fights breaking out
between local sex workers and the influx of desperate Zimbabweans who are
undercutting their prices. AIDS rates in close by Katima Mulilo in Namibia
and Kasane in Botswana are also high and rising, and Zimbabwean sex workers
are largely to blame there, too. One Zambian doctor monitoring AIDS in this
border region said that rates of over 60% were not unusual. Given the lag
for HIV to take its fatal toll, the Zimbabwean influx into the entirety of
its neighboring states will take time to really show its worst effects, but
the worst is what we should expect.
An Old Foe Returns --
Although HIV is the main concern, malaria
rates in the region are set to rise as well. In 2004 Zimbabwe's underfunded
health department managed to cover just 3.4% of buildings designated to be
sprayed with insecticides. Exact malaria rates are unknown but likely to be
soaring; the child death rate is extremely high, due to the shortages of
drugs. Meanwhile at a malaria rally my colleague Richard Tren attended in
November, the health minister was more interested in attacking the
opposition MDC party than in combating malaria. His chant "Down with the
MDC; Down with Mosquitoes" was half-heartedly taken up by a shocked audience
expecting a health speech.
The Limpopo Province in South
Africa forms the Southern border of Zimbabwe. Its health department has
excellent data, and Dr. Philip Kruger says that January's malaria rate in
the Province was five times higher than last year, and "Zimbabweans are a
Despite the impact on the region, few
non-Zimbabweans, especially political leaders, will openly criticize Mugabe.
This leaves a vacuum the international community is loathe to fill. Tom
Woods of the State Department told me that the "US would not hold the region
hostage over Zimbabwe." But he agrees that an African solution is required,
such as occurred recently in Togo, and only South African president Thabo
Mbeki has the clout to provide it.
continues with his strategy of "quiet diplomacy", the corpses of those who
die of AIDS related diseases and kwashiorkor -- caused by acute malnutrition
-- continue to pile up in Zimbabwe's mortuaries. Also piling up are the
bodies of murder victims since there are no longer any qualified personnel
left in the country to conduct forensic post mortem examinations. Until the
pathology tests are done, relatives of the victims cannot bury their
With Western help, an exit strategy for Mugabe could
be devised and the rule of law returned to Zimbabwe. But to achieve this aim
the international community must speak with one voice.
Carole Bellamy, head of UNICEF, last week asked for more aid for Zimbabwe.
This is the wrong signal to be sending regional leaders who will use any
sign of Northern weakness to vacillate over Mugabe. Bellamy must know that
the aid will not be used to save lives of the poor but will be used
politically. Mugabe only knows about power and protecting it, aid and soft
words have not worked, tough talk from the Sate Department, backed up by
action from the region, is what is required. Lucy's life and that of
millions of fellow Africans hinges on political will to push change in this
outpost of tyranny.
Roger Bate, a health economist, is
a fellow at AEI and a director of Africa Fighting Malaria. His co-authored
paper on the Zimbabwean and regional health crisis 'Despotism and Disease'
can be found at http://www.fightingmalaria.org/research.php?ID=32
Why Mugabe has eased off on violence March
By Moshoeshoe Monare
Robert Mugabe once gloated that members of his Zanu-PF party have academic
degrees in violence.
And his publicity secretary, Dr Nathan
Shamuyarira, once appeared on national television bragging that the MDC
could not wage the same sustained violence as Zanu-PF.
and intimidation have always been synonymous with Zimbabwean elections -
before and after independence.
Before independence, violence was
directed by the white minority regime under dictator Ian Smith against black
After independence, black-on-black political violence
was fuelled by tribalism and rivalry between Mugabe's Zanu, which was
predominantly Shona, and Joshua Nkomo's Zapu, which drew most of its support
from the Ndebele-speaking south-west of the country.
1980 and 1985 elections, Zapu found it impossible to campaign in Mashonaland
and Zanu could not penetrate Matabeleland.
In the 2000
parliamentary elections and the 2002 presidential elections the new
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) also found it too
dangerous to enter some areas of rural Mashonaland.
of 1995 and 1996 were an exception to the electoral rule of
However, Eldred Masunungure, head of political and
administrative studies at the University of Zimbabwe, says that was because
there was no need for Zanu-PF to use violence then.
not contest elections against anybody because all parties and independent
candidates boycotted the elections," he notes.
So Zanu-PF has
always in the past been ready to use violence and intimidation when it
needed to, raising questions about the freeness and fairness of the past
five elections - and therefore also about the Zanu-PF government's
However, for the first time in the history of the party
and the country, Zanu-PF enters the elections tomorrow facing a real, strong
opponent in the MDC and yet in a largely peaceful atmosphere.
In his state of the nation address this year, Mugabe took many by surprise
when he said he wanted this year's elections to be held in a peaceful
When Zanu-PF supporters were waiting for Mugabe to arrive
at a rally last week in Tsholotsho, 550km from Harare, a master of
ceremonies told war veterans to go and force people in the community to come
to the rally.
After one of the senior Zanu-PF officials whispered
something to his ears, he changed his tune: "Don't force them, ask them," he
It was a telling moment, an indication of an important change
of tactics, especially in the highly contested and controversial
constituency of Tsholotsho in Matebeleland North where Mugabe's sacked
information minister Jonathan Moyo is standing against Zanu-PF as an
Even Shamuyarira, who five years ago was happy to
boast about Zanu-PF's violent potential, today is talking like a
"The co-operation between the MDC and Zanu-PF over the
electoral process has been commendable. Such a joint approach had a sobering
effect on the parties and the electorates," says Shamuyarira
"President Mugabe led the issue by stressing that people
should eschew violence, they should not engage in any violent activities. I
am glad that the leaders of the opposition also echoed the same
"People got a message very clearly that there should be
no violence. We were lucky and pleased about that," he told Independent
"The SADC guidelines have been reduced to legislation
here, they have been made the law of the country. There was a further
requirement that the nation abides by the SADC principles and guidelines:
one was about avoiding violence," says Shamuyarira.
significantly cited the crucial reason why Zanu-PF had decided to fight this
Mugabe lost considerable international
legitimacy as a result of the 2000 and 2002 elections - among other things -
and has become steadily isolated by and from the international community,
except his few friends in the SADC region.
South Africa, the
SADC and the Africa Union were the only few ones that declared the previous
elections free and fair.
However, South Africa this year chairs
the SADC organ on politics, security and defence - an institution that is
key to enforcing the SADC electoral guidelines.
SADC's Mauritius summit last year when the guidelines were adopted, SADC
member nations did not mince their words in telling Mugabe he had better
stick to the guidelines, especially in relation to the use of
Therefore, Mugabe was not going to lose face - and
support - from his few remaining friends by perpetuating violence, and if he
wins, his legitimacy in the eyes of these friends is
For them the issue of violence is the litmus test, even
though the MDC claims Zanu-PF is violating many other SADC
So it is in his interest to shun violence. "He is also
longing to return to the community of nations. His isolationist attitude is
draining Zimbabwe," says Masunungure.
Other factors have
contributed to relatively peaceful elections:
a.. The war
veterans are not as cohesive a force as in 2000, to an extent that some have
reportedly said they won't support Zanu in these elections;
a.. Unlike in 2000 and 2002 when the emotive land question was central to
Zanu-PF's elections campaign, there are no themes so provocative this
a.. The growing poverty and hunger have sapped
political energies, creating voter apathy;
a.. The growing
support for opposition has created a new culture of people from the same
village or family supporting different parties and therefore developing some
form of tolerance;
a.. Cosmetic reforms to repressive laws have
diminished the police's tendency to resort to violence.
Mugabe and his government have also calculated the situation - including the
mood of the observers - and realised that rejecting violence could be used
to their advantage as a diversion from other breaches of the SADC
guidelines, such as that:
a.. All the daily newspapers, radio
and television stations are still blatantly pro-Zanu-PF;
a.. The electoral machinery could easily be manipulated by the ruling party
- especially because the voters roll is not transparent and may contain as
many as two million fictitious voters;
a.. The civil service is
dominated by Zanu-PF sympathisers who comprise the bulk of the polling
a.. There are still areas that could be perceived as
Zanu-PF strongholds, thus contributing to psychological intimidation;
a.. Economic hardship, especially food shortages, makes
voters vulnerable to being blackmailed into voting Zanu-PF or they won't get
But the international media and foreign observers are
concentrating on the absence of violence which, according to the opposition
MDC, does not mean the presence of peace - or a level playing
The SADC and the South African parliamentary and government
observer missions have this week generally said the election had so far been
peaceful, despite complaints of intimidation from the MDC.
However, one member of the SA parliamentary observer team, the DA's Roy
Jankielsohn, disagreed, saying there was still violence but it had gone
underground. But he acknowledged that it has nonetheless
"The violence is no longer as blatant as it once was,
although there is evidence that it is still continuing. Clearly, Mugabe is
making an effort to make it easier for his small band of international
friends to claim that the parliamentary elections have at least a measure of
freedom and fairness," he said.
MDC spokesman Paul Themba
Nyathi churns out daily e-mails about incidents of
Though most observers believe Zanu-PF will not allow
the MDC to win this election, the absence of violence, the growing economic
hardships and a strong opposition have introduced an unusually strong wild
Some observers believe that by switching off the
violence, Mugabe may also have switched on an MDC victory. Hard to imagine,
but the fat lady has still to sing.
Distrust precedes election While state-sponsored violence
against Mugabe opponents has abated, some groups say political intimidation
and violence remain in Zimbabwe
BY NICOLE ITANO SPECIAL
March 29, 2005
CHITUNGUIZA, Zimbabwe -- Election
fever is running high on the streets of this poor township outside the
capital, Harare. Campaign posters compete for space on roadside stalls and,
unlike in the past, opposition supporters clad in party regalia walk the
streets without fear.
After almost five years of state-sponsored violence
against those who oppose him, President Robert Mugabe is trying to reform
his image and show the world his country is not the "outpost of tyranny" to
which U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently referred.
think Robert Mugabe is tired," Tariro Shumba, chairman of the local chapter
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said as he made his way to
a rally, his head wrapped in a white bandana bearing the campaign slogan: A
New Beginning. "I think he is trying to negotiate his exit package." Mugabe
is 81 and has ruled for a quarter of a century.
Most observers say the
run-up to Thursday's parliamentary elections has been much less violent than
in the previous two elections. Organizations such as Amnesty International
and Human Rights Watch have warned that political intimidation and violence
remain - and election monitoring groups fear vote rigging - but in places
like Chitunguiza the mood has changed.
"Last time was terrible," said
Brian Dzimbo, an MDC party member here. "But now there is no more fear."
Still, ordinary people in this opposition stronghold remain distrustful. Few
would talk openly about politics or discuss which party would receive their
vote. And at the rally, held for a local MDC candidate, men and women
dressed in ruling party T-shirts hovered, intimidating, on the
At stake in Thursday's election are the 120 elected seats in
Zimbabwe's parliament. During the country's last parliamentary elections, in
2000, the MDC won 57 seats, more than any opposition group since
independence from Britain in 1980.
This election is unlikely to bring
an immediate end to Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. Since the
government-sponsored seizure of white-owned farms began in 2000, the
country's economy has been in free-fall. Inflation has skyrocketed and there
have been widespread shortages of gasoline and staple foods, such as corn
meal, caused by a failed land reform program and exacerbated by a regional
Still, even the most optimistic opposition supporters admit it
will be difficult for the MDC to gain a majority of seats in parliament.
Under the constitution, Mugabe appoints 30 seats in the 150-member
parliament. Many observers say the vote this time is about rehabilitating
the image of Mugabe and his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front at home and abroad. The president, a former guerrilla fighter who has
led Zimbabwe since independence, has promised to step down when his current
term ends in 2008.
Mugabe's re-election in 2002 was condemned by many
international observers, and some analysts believe the president wants this
election to be called free and fair in order to bring legitimacy to his
"He wants to exit as father of the nation," said Brian Kogoro, who
heads a network of civil society organizations called Crisis in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe is gambling that the past five years of political oppression have
broken the opposition enough that ZANU-PF can still win this more-open
election, one Western diplomat said. But the ruling party, he said, has a
limited campaign platform.
In 2002, Mugabe campaigned largely on the
issue of land, promising to reclaim for black Zimbabweans property he said
was stolen by whites. But the land reform campaign is over, and conditions
have deteriorated for many ordinary people.
In Chitunguiza, one
vendor was selling a single egg earlier this week for $1,700 Zimbabwean
(about 30 cents American); she remembered the days when an egg cost 50 cents
Zimbabwean. ZANU-PF has tried to blame economic problems on white
imperialists and the MDC, which the ruling party says is trying to
recolonize the country. ZANU-PF's election theme is the "Anti-Blair
"This election is about protecting our sovereignty and our
revolutionary gains," said Ephrim Masavi, a spokesman for ZANU-PF and an
appointed member of parliament. "We have done everything here. We are the
people who have brought education to the people, who have brought land to
the people. ... What I see in the MDC is a bunch of hooligans."
African observer groups - the only ones invited by the government during
this election - the vote also represents a test of the continent's
commitment to democracy and good governance. African leaders, including
Thabo Mbeki, president of neighboring South Africa, have been largely
hesitant to criticize Mugabe and his government. In 2002, South Africa
declared the elections legitimate, though not free and fair.
the results of this election will not be an easy task. There has been less
violence, but the odds are stacked heavily against the opposition. ZANU-PF
has been using state resources, including the army, police and state
broadcasting, in its campaign. And there are problems with voter rolls and
accusations that local chiefs in rural areas will be used to ensure that
voters cast their ballots for the ruling party.
election changes fought for by the MDC and civil society groups may
backfire. In attempt to prevent vote-rigging, ballots will be dropped into
translucent boxes and counted at individual polling stations rather than at
regional centers, but human rights groups say voters in rural areas are
being told this will allow ZANU officials to know for whom they are
It is also unclear what would constitute a fair result. Most
observers believe a fair poll would leave the MDC with at least some seats,
but it's difficult to tally the opposition since its supporters are not
going public. "My vote is my secret" is a commonly heard refrain here.
Tomorrow, when Zimbabweans go to the
polls to elect 120 members of their 150-seat parliament, we hope they will
send a loud and strong message to President Robert Mugabe that they will no
longer tolerate his despotic rule of that southern African
We hope too, that the people of Zimbabwe will not cower in fear
at Mr Mugabe's scare tactics, which he seems to revel in utilising to
disrupt the democratic process at each election.
This newspaper has,
in the past, expressed its disappointment with Mr Mugabae's behaviour. Not
only has he trampled on the rights of his people by trying to silence
opposition, but he has also undermined institutions, thereby creating the
kind of tension that can explode into civil disorder and plunge Zimbabwe
further into poverty.
Mr Mugabe, according to wire service reports, made
his latest tyrannical utterance yesterday at a rally in Bindura when he told
15,000 supporters of his ruling ZANU-PF party that a win by the Opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would "not be tolerated".
day before, at a rally in Mutoko, he branded as "traitors", everyone who
intended to vote for the MDC in tomorrow's elections.
Mr Mugabe knows
very well that this kind of inflammable rhetoric will spur members of his
party and its feared youth militia to take violent action against Opposition
supporters and candidates. For, it has happened in the past.
the election campaign thus far has not seen the level of violence
experienced in the 2000 parliamentary elections and the 2002 presidential
vote, Mr Mugabe, it appears, would not mind his supporters using their
"sticks" to "beat out the snakes" among them, as he so viciously instructed
after an election victory in 1985.
But really, what else could we
have expected of this bully whose security forces last Sunday arrested 146
Opposition supporters after a campaign event; has shut down most independent
media in Zimbabwe while using state resources for campaigning; and whose
government has threatened to withhold food aid to Opposition
Frankly, with each passing day, Mr Mugabe appears more of a
demented tyrant wallowing in corruption while Zimbabwe, which many people,
including Jamaicans, helped in the tough struggle against apartheid,
continues to collapse.
The world should not allow him to continue
destroying the democracy that so many fought to achieve.
President Robert Mugabe
said yesterday he had no fear of losing tomorrow's parliamentary election in
Zimbabwe, dismissing his opposition challenger as an empty-headed British
Mugabe pledged that the 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
But the opposition yesterday 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
Mugabe told journalists 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
"I never think about that. I am a total optimist," he
said, dismissing the question with a wave of the hand.
had earlier told 20 000 supporters in Bindura, about 90km north-east 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
"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.
The head of South Africa's observer mission -
the largest foreign team invited to watch the election - said his group had
noted relatively smooth progress but had still stepped in to prevent
"We know what is happening on the ground ... we
have intervened to deal with tense situations that could undermine the
process," South African Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana
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.
Zimbabwe's police have said they
will tolerate no violence on election day.
Thornycroft reports, however, that there were some incidents in one of the
most isolated areas of northern Zimbabwe over the Easter
Alan McCormick (55), a former farmer evicted from his
home four years ago, is standing in a ruling Zanu-PF stronghold, Guruve
North, for the MDC.
His campaign ended violently over Easter. His
constituency reaches up to the cliffs on the edge of the Zambezi River and
"Over Easter it got too bad and we have
As the campaign kicked off three weeks ago, a young
MDC activist, Noah Chirembwe, in his early 20s, was hanged from a tree by
his wrists with burning logs underneath his dangling feet.
the branch broke, he fell and rolled over into a ditch.
we found him and brought him to hospital in Harare, and he's okay now,"
He said that on Easter Saturday, "one of our guys,
Elphas Mhamiti, was abducted from outside the (government) Grain Marketing
Board at Mushumbi Pools (in the Zambezi Valley) and taken away.
"He was left for dead. We went in at midnight and sent him to Harare as he
was coughing up blood. He was given some pills and seems alright
Bishop Sebastian Bakare from the Anglican Diocese of
Manicaland, in eastern Zimbabwe, said: "Psychological and physical violence
is there, all the time. It is less obvious than before but most rural people
are short of food and are so vulnerable to threats about how they will
President Robert Mugabe's branding of opposition
supporters as traitors rang out repeatedly on state radio, raising fears of
new political violence as his party and its main rival held rallies two days
before parliamentary elections.
Voters will tomorrow choose 120
members of Zimbabwe's 150-seat parliament. The president appoints the
remaining 30 seats, so the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
would need to win 76 seats for a majority.
Yesterday, MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai focused on the economy, as has been his party's strategy
throughout the campaign. Arguments that Mugabe's policies have driven
Zimbabwe's once thriving economy into the ground were likely to resonate
with voters in this impoverished country.
"Zimbabwe has been destroyed,
farms have been destroyed, industry has been destroyed and education has
been destroyed. Even relations with other countries have been destroyed,"
Tsvangirai said in his home region of Buhera, 120 miles south of Harare.
"How are we going to rebuild Zimbabwe? You and me have to work
Zimbabwe was plunged into political and economic chaos when
the government began seizing white owned farms for redistribution to black
Zimbabweans in 2000 in an often violent campaign to redress colonial-era
At his rally yesterday in Bindura, 50 miles north of Harare,
Mugabe told 15,000 ruling party supporters that an MDC win would "not be
A day earlier at a rally in Mutoko, 90 miles northeast of
Harare, Mugabe said: "All those who will vote for the MDC are traitors."
State radio broadcast the comments throughout the day
Similar comments by the president in the past have encouraged
the ruling party and its youth militia to take violent action against
opposition supporters and candidates.
director of Zimbabwe's independent Electoral Support Network, said he was
concerned about the remarks and had asked foreign observers to stay in the
country for at least a week after the polls because of fears of renewed
Mugabe's comments came in the wake of a call by Roman Catholic
Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo on Sunday for a "nonviolent mass popular
uprising" if the ruling party wins tomorrow's election by fraud.
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."
Harare: An opposition party
member of the SA parliamentary observer team says he has has been threatened
with being abandoned to face the music from Zimbabwe's notorious police if
he continued to speak his mind.
ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe,
Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana and Deputy Safety Minister Suzan
Shabangu have allegedly threatened to revoke Democratic Alliance MP Roy
Jankielsohn's observer status.
The three were part of an 11-member
ANC delegation, including SA ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jerry Ndou, who
interrogated Jankielsohn on Monday after he released a statement about
reports of intimidation during electioneering.
they told him they would not protect him against the Zimbabweans if he
continued with his statements.
"They interrogated and reprimanded
"What frustrates us as the opposition members in this mission
is that we don't get any proper briefs from our leader (Mbulelo Goniwe). We
have been trying to meet him so that we can know what is the protocol but in
"Since we arrived we have been faced with silent
behaviour from Goniwe. They have been telling us that 'you behave yourself
or we can't protect you from the Zimbabweans'," he said.
said it would send a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka
Kgositsile, "objecting to the behaviour of certain members of the ANC
Jankielsohn said he would continue speaking his mind
on the situation in Zimbabwe.
"I am not going to be intimidated
by Goniwe. I didn't take the whole process (of interrogation and
reprimanding) seriously. They might be 11 people, but I am not scared of
them. I report to my leader (Joe Seremane).
"We will release our
own minority report if the situation is contrary to what the ANC says," he
A two-day attempt to get comment from Luphumzo Kebeni,
spokesperson of the SA Parliamentary Observer mission, failed despite
repeated promises to return calls.
Seremane condemned what he
described as the ANC leadership's attempt to gag Jankielsohn: "This attempt
to bully is unacceptable. There are no rules governing the accessibility of
observers to the media other than those made up by the ANC
"We believe Goniwe's actions amount to a threat to
incite action against an elected representative of the SA people by the
Zimbabwe security apparatus, notorious for its human rights abuses," said
"We believe the behaviour of the Mugabe government is
deeply embarrassing to the ANC. We believe the ANC would like the story of
the Zimbabwe elections toned down as much as possible. They have an interest
in these elections being valid and anything that threatens the validity of
the elections also threatens the credibility of ANC policy. That is why they
want to shut us up."
He added that the DA would not be
"We have been mandated by the South African parliament to
observe the elections on behalf of the South African people. We are in
Zimbabwe to bear witness. We will do our job," Seremane
a.. Reuters reports that Zimbabwe's opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) said yesterday that one of its supporters had
been killed in a politically-motivated incident ahead of tomorrow's
election, but police denied the allegation.
The MDC's first
charge of political murder in this campaign followed greatly reduced
political violence this year compared to bloodshed during polls in 2000 and
The MDC said Gift Sunday was attacked in the MDC stronghold
of Epworth east of Harare by young suspected supporters from
"He was coming from the shops on his way home when he came
across a group of about eight Zanu-PF youths who assaulted him for wearing
an MDC shirt," said Tapiwa Mashakada, the party's member of parliament for
Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed
Sunday's murder but denied it was politically motivated, saying it appeared
to have been the result of a bar brawl.
For Some in Zimbabwe, Rations Can't Quell Hunger for
By Craig Timberg Washington Post Foreign Service Wednesday,
March 30, 2005; Page A01
ZHULUBE, Zimbabwe -- Hundreds of bags of
cornmeal were stacked in front of a bar near here this month, rising as high
as its roof. The only problem for the hungry people of this drought-stricken
area was that the food, like the bar, was controlled by officials from the
ruling party. With a crucial election nearing, they weren't about to give it
to just anyone.
The officials first held a rally by their impressive
mound of food, witnesses here said. The next day, as hundreds of people from
surrounding villages gathered to collect the 110-pound bags they had ordered
and paid for months before, ruling party officials announced that only their
supporters were eligible. When the names of opposition voters were called,
they were simply handed back their money, according to several people who
were turned away. The leftover bags went on sale hours later for twice the
Human rights reports say withholding food from opponents is
nothing new for the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, the
party of President Robert Mugabe. But this year, the threat of starvation is
creating a potentially potent backlash against ZANU-PF.
in this tiny, impoverished village in southern Zimbabwe say that their votes
in Thursday's national parliamentary elections will be based less on their
immediate food needs than on which party offers the best chance to reverse
Zimbabwe's five-year-old economic decline and end recurrent food shortages.
Opposition party leaders say the issue might represent their best chance to
make inroads into Mugabe's traditionally strong rural support.
those who went home empty-handed here on March 19 was Thenji Matema, 48, a
lean and soft-spoken widow supporting a daughter and four grandchildren on
the roughly $25 she earns each month selling mats that she weaves by hand.
Matema said she walked away furious and doubly determined to vote for the
opposition -- even if she has to drink tea to curb her hunger before her one
daily meal, and serve meat to her family only once a week.
"It's better I
suffer than vote for ZANU-PF," Matema said. She later elaborated on her
distaste for the ruling party. It is not only its role in mismanaging the
food situation, she said, but "that they are forcing people to do what they
want. People don't like that."
Mugabe's party has manipulated voter rolls
and is likely to send the politically loyal military to oversee polling
stations and ballot counting, human rights groups say. Even the most
enthusiastic opposition activists say this rigging makes outright victory
for the opposition unlikely.
Mugabe, in power since this nation's
independence in 1980, can neutralize all but a landslide win for the
opposition because he directly appoints 30 of the 150 members in parliament.
His current six-year term lasts through 2008.
But if a single issue
dominates political discussions this election season in Zimbabwe, it is the
growing problem of hunger, as evidenced by the thousands of acres of wilted
corn plants that can be seen, brown and dying, across a country once
regarded as southern Africa's breadbasket. International groups that monitor
famine say nearly half of Zimbabwe's 13 million people might need food aid
in the coming months.
Less than a year ago, Mugabe boasted of a bumper
harvest to come and ordered international food donors to cease general
feeding programs in what many political analysts in Zimbabwe regarded as an
attempt to gain control of all food stocks before the election. In a rare
interview with an international news organization in May, he told Britain's
Sky News: "We are not hungry. . . . Why foist this food upon us? We don't
want to be choked. We have enough."
But Zimbabwe, which was already
suffering food production declines after the violent seizures of white-owned
commercial farms beginning in 2000, was soon hit by a drought, one that has
also hobbled food production in neighboring Zambia and
Farmers who grow their own food on small patches of land
suddenly faced a near-total loss of their staple crop, corn, which is milled
into a fine grist, then boiled into a stiff mush that is central to
Zimbabweans' daily diets.
Mugabe has belatedly acknowledged the
drought and food shortage, telling supporters at campaign rallies that he
will prevent mass starvation by importing food from neighboring South
Africa, where modern irrigation systems make farms resistant to drought. In
state-owned newspapers, top ruling party officials in Zimbabwe have called
reports that they are using food as an election tool "completely
unsubstantiated and untrue."
Such reports have been widespread for many
years, detailed in accounts by independent journalists and such groups as
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
Pius A. Ncube, a leading critic of Mugabe in nearby Bulawayo, said the use
of food as a weapon was common throughout the country this election year, as
it was in 2000 and 2002. "They are totally corrupt, and they will use
anything to protect their power," he said.
Here in Zhulube, 82-year-old
Asa Sibanda said her refusal to support ZANU-PF had cut her off for years
from food reserves controlled by the government and the party. Instead, she
supports herself, five orphaned grandchildren and one great-grandchild by
selling chickens and getting occasional gifts of cornmeal from her son, who
lives nearby. Her total income, she said, is a few dollars each
Though she did not get government food, she used to get regular
deliveries of cornmeal, beans and other food from international aid groups.
But in the middle of last year, Mugabe ordered an end to such efforts. As
for the chickens, only eight are left.
Sibanda said some people in
her village would vote for the ruling party out of fear that government food
aid will otherwise be withheld. "Most people, they are not voting for
ZANU-PF, but they are voting for food," she said. Yet she and many other
opposition supporters will not be doing the same, she said. "I choose to die
rather than be arm-twisted to go back to ZANU-PF."
Hunger has become a
central rallying point for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
which features images of green, fertile fields and well-stocked grocery
shelves in its television ads.
A victory for the opposition, party
members say, would allow Zimbabwe to rapidly repair the international
relations of a country that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in
January called one of the world's "outposts of tyranny." Major food aid,
plus a resumption of foreign investment, say opposition leaders, would
Matema, the widow, is ready for some good news. In
October and November, three of her four head of cattle died as a result of
the drought. The following month -- two days before Christmas -- her husband
died. Later, when the rains failed in January and February, her fields of
corn turned brown, leaving only a handful of plants with enough water to
grow ears with edible kernels. An adjacent field of peanuts was also a
nearly total loss.
ANC tells DA observer to toe the party line
March 30, 2005
By Moshoeshoe Monare
A member of the
South African parliamentary observer team has been threatened with a visit
to Zimbabwe's notorious police if he continues to speak his
ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, Labour Minister Membathisi
Mdladlana, and Deputy Safety Minister Susan Shabangu have threatened to
revoke Democratic Alliance MP Roy Jankielsohn's observer
The three were part of an 11-member ANC delegation,
including SA's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jerry Ndou, which summoned and
interrogated Jankielsohn on Monday after he released a statement about
reports of intimidation during elections campaigns in Zimbabwe.
Jankielsohn said they had told him they would not protect him against the
Zimbabweans if he continued with his statements.
and reprimanded me. They wanted to know the content of my statement, and
told me that I won't have protection as an observer if I continue to make
such statements," Jankielsohn told The Mercury yesterday.
frustrates us as the opposition members in this mission is that we don't get
any proper briefs from our leader (Goniwe). We have been trying to meet him
so that we can know what the protocol is, but in vain.
we arrived we have been faced with silent behaviour from Goniwe. They have
been telling us: 'You behave yourself or we can't protect you from the
Zimbabweans,' " he said.
The DA said it would send a letter to the
Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Kgositsile, "objecting to the
behaviour of certain members of the ANC delegation".
Jankielsohn said he would continue speaking his mind about the situation on
the ground in Zimbabwe.
"I am not going to be intimidated by
Goniwe. I didn't take the whole process (of interrogation and reprimanding)
seriously," he said.
"They might be 11 people, I am not scared of
them. I report to my leader (Joe Seremane). We will release our own minority
report if the situation is contrary to what the ANC says. We have been
consulting other opposition parties throughout the process."
Seremane condemned the ANC leadership for trying to gag
"This attempt to bully is unacceptable. There are no
rules governing the accessibility of observers to the media other than those
made up by the ANC alone," Seremane said.
The Zimbabwean political saga is a complex one, its
casualties far much more than the pen can write and its social impact
disastrous. The world will never fully understand it. It takes the soul
within to understand it, yet it means to be tortured, murdered, raped and
imprisoned to fully understand it. How many would be prepared to go through
this ordeal for the sake of writing a story? This account is about a man who
grew up in a bloody ring of politics in Zimbabwe, detained for confronting
authority, arrested for his birth right, businesses ransacked, property
destroyed and family members maimed and murdered. This account transverse
the valleys of power struggle in the two most powerful political parties in
Zimbabwe MDC and ZANU (PF). From the ruthless regime of Robert Mugabe to the
struggle within struggles in both parties to control this rich Southern
African country leaving a trail of destruction never to be seen in the
history of the country. The economy in ruins and the infrastructure
shattered. Man became the enemy of man forcing over 3 million people in
exile, three times the population of neighbouring Botswana, all but few the
highly educated and skilled manpower. No sane nationalist would claim
victory over such calamity for what ever reason. In trying to be makers of
history we have become the enemy of history.
then are the chances for a win for MDC?
There is no doubt that
MDC's spirit is high and the support base gearing for a victory, but I have
seen that before. MDC rallies continue to manifest its popularity but I have
seen that before. Morgan Tsvangirai is as charismatic as ever but I have
seen that before. T-shirts are everywhere but I have seen that before. To my
fellow citizens, MDC members and the hand picked observers, the elections
have been rigged, are being rigged and will be rigged. The 3,5 million
people scattered all over the world are opposition supporters and have been
denied their birth right to vote, that is already the biggest rigging
exercise since the concept of one man one vote was adopted by progressive
forces world over. What if the 3 million people horrendously exiled by
Mugabe are allowed to vote? What if the people decide to reclaim their power
by massive civil disobedience? If we analyse the Zimbabwe political past and
present, these elections are just what if than being a new turning point for
a new Zimbabwe. Let's listen to Pius Ncube but let us not overburden his
courage. All Zimbabweans world over must unite, irrespective of party lines
and demand that meaningful change be delivered to the bleeding country. Lets
all Zimbabweans safeguard their vote! We have been docile to the point of
being stupid, I see no choice between death and
Is ZANU (PF) sincere about preaching a peaceful
campaign leading to the 31 March election?
Is the violence statistics
lower than the previous 4 years?
Zimbabwe what went
1.. They will never be a prospect of a free and
fair election in Zimbabwe on the 31 March 2005. The reasons are clear, the
political landscape is tilted in favour of ZANU (PF), and they hold the
state machinery which they have been using to murder, maim and rob its own
citizens for the past 5 years. Even if they might appear to be less violent
election than the previous one, the fear embedded into people's minds is
real and is harvest time for ZANU (PF). They are still harvesting from the
proceeds of a brutal and violent tenure. SADC election guidelines lacks the
balance and checks of an enforceable regional legislation. They only guide
the willing and watch the unwilling. Mugabe is seeking a fortune turn around
by becoming the first leader to adopt the SADC guidelines albeit
cosmetically and lip service at most. The massive exodus of eligible voters
to the tune of around 3 million, 95% of which if accorded the chance to vote
would vote for the opposition, they cannot vote for a party that had,
against their will sent them into exile. This is more than half the legible
voters in this coming election. The deployment of the feared army to monitor
and supervise elections all of which adds to the fear already in many rural
people cannot be over emphasised. These factors and much more will not make
this election free and fair. 2.. ZANU (PF) is not sincere in preaching
about a peaceful election. If we revisit all past elections, 1995 against
ZUM, 2000 against MDC and 2002 against MDC, you will find a pattern of
systematic persecution of perceived opponents of ZANU (PF). Mugabe has never
participated peacefully in an election he is convinced he will lose without
using violence. He has always used violence where it suited him most. How
does he know whether he will lose or win an election? Remember Mugabe is the
only President in Africa with a first world class security service in a
third world country. The CIO is the only organization whose operation is
windfall funded by the state. It has been used to sustain the regime since
1980. They have structures with a high alert warning system to warn Mugabe
of a pending victory or loss. If there is any achievement that we
Zimbabweans have done is to prove beyond doubt that Mugabe has been the
architecture, director and coordinator of violence. There is no way he could
have stopped violence if he was not the leader of its origin. In short we
have a historic land mark here where history must judge him harshly for
causing impeccable suffering of his people. When your liberator turned
oppressor your will have very little chance of survival. 3.. What
triggered the violence in 2000 election? A combination of fear for defeat
and a bankruptcy of a political solution to the woes of the country by the
present regime. There is no doubt that Mugabe used to be a hero of may peace
loving Zimbabweans in the early years of his rule, yet we all know that
everybody has his hay days, by 1998 Mugabe has reached a sell by date of his
usefulness to the people of Zimbabwe. His defeat at the referendum, the
upcoming of an alternative viable opposition party, MDC and the final straw
of swing support by white farmers to MDC was a blow to Mugabe. The battle
ground was drawn and the hiring of the mad professor, Jonathan Moyo to prop
up his lost popularity coupled with the use of the war veterans marked the
beginning of a dark history in Zimbabwe. Mugabe new he will lose the
election this is why he postponed the 2000 elections twice before settling
for June 2000 date. Mugabe did not have any solution to the crumpling
economy, high inflation rate and massive unemployment rate of more than 70%
other than to use violence. More than 200 people were recorded murdered
between 2000 and 2002. All bye- elections turned into battle grounds.
4.. Zimbabwe what went wrong? Everything had gone wrong in Zimbabwe. While
one man has hold 12 million people at ransom, you and I cannot escape the
blame for not standing up for a cause early enough and effective enough.
2002 was the year, presidential election was the event and Mugabe could have
found very little breathing space to continue against people's wishes. This
was the only election Mugabe was not sure whether he would survive. Even
after the results, business remained closed, some for 2 days, police were
even no where to be seen on the streets, there was confusion. We needed only
1000 people in Harare to march to the State House. We had no plan B. ZANU
(PF) will go, it might not be this coming election but the conviction of a
pending defeat is imminent. Victory is in the air; the journey might be long
but let us begin.
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe Print and Electronic Daily Media Update
1. DAILY PRINT MEDIA UPDATE 2. DAILY ELECTRONIC
1. Daily Print Media Update: Tuesday March 29
ZANU PF continued to receive positive publicity
in the government-controlled dailies. These papers carried 10 reports on the
ruling party's campaign activities. Six were in The Herald while four were in
the Chronicle. Campaign activities of the MDC, smaller parties and
independent candidates were suffocated.
In fact, the MDC was only
mentioned in the context of ZANU PF officials' vilification of the party.
Whites, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the US President George Bush
were also castigated in some of the reports on the ruling party's campaigns
for allegedly trying to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. Notably, The
Daily Mirror had no campaigns reports. Its daily Election Watch column,
which, over the past weeks has publicised campaign activities of both the
ruling party and the MDC, was missing in today's issue.
WHILE the Chronicle had no reports on the administration
of the impending election, The Herald carried two reports on the topic. One
was an announcement on the deployment of African Union observers. The other
was a feature article that used, among other issues, the accreditation of
foreign observers and selected foreign media, the printing of ballot papers
and the dispatching of 50,000 translucent ballot boxes to all the provinces
to gloss over problems bedevilling the electoral process. These developments
were simply presented as an indication of the country's readiness to hold
the election under the SADC electoral guidelines.
But while the
government Press was advancing its familiar claims that the country had fully
conformed to the regional guidelines on the conduct of democratic elections,
The Daily Mirror reported to the contrary in one of its three reports on
administrative issues. It reported that about 1,000 polling officers deployed
to Mudzi by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had been sent back to
Harare by the District Administrator and the ZANU PF candidate for the
constituency, Ray Kaukonde, who allegedly accused the officers of being MDC
sympathisers. Although ZEC spokesperson Utloile Silayigwana was quoted saying
the commission was still investigating the matter, MDC
Secretary-General Welshman Ncube claimed the officers had since returned to
Harare and were likely to be redeployed in the capital.
In its other
story, The Daily Mirror reported that the High Court had ruled that an
application by aspiring MDC candidate for Gweru Rural, Renson Gasela, seeking
the disqualification of his ZANU PF rival Josphat Madubeko did not merit an
urgent hearing. Gasela wanted Madubeko, a headman, disqualified in terms of
the Traditional Leaders Act, which bars traditional leaders from contesting
an election. The government Press ignored these issues. The third report
that the private daily carried was an announcement by the ZEC that 8,235
presiding officers and 90,585 polling officers were undergoing training
b. Political violence
ONLY The Daily Mirror carried a
report on political violence. It reported that the MDC candidate for
Mhondoro, Shakespeare Maya, was remanded out of custody to April 7 for
allegedly assaulting a man he saw wearing a ZANU PF T-shirt in Norton.
However, the paper provided few details of the incident. Instead, the report
focused on comments from police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena saying the police
had banned road show campaigns "to clamp down on public disorder and the
disruption of traffic". Bvudzijena also revealed that 13 more cases of
political violence had been reported throughout the country since March 22.
However, there was no detailed breakdown of the incidents in the paper's
The government dailies ignored these issues and only carried three
stories dismissing reports on the politicisation of food by government
and intimidation of suspected opposition supporters. Two of the stories
reported Social Welfare Minister Paul Mangwana trying to disprove Archbishop
Pius Ncube's allegations that government was starving people in Matabeleland
to coerce the electorate to vote for the ruling party. Mangwana was
quoted saying 74,100 tonnes of maize had been distributed in Matabeleland
between November last year and March 18. However, the papers did not
challenge him to explain the criteria in which that maize was
The other report was an opinion piece by The Herald's
regular pro-ZANU PF columnist Caesar Zvayi, seeking to dismiss reports of the
violent intimidation of opposition supporters as "testimony of the role of
third forces" in the alleged attempts by civil society and the MDC to
"tarnish the March 31 poll". Ends.
2. Daily Electronic Media
Update: March 28th, 2005
ZTV aired the second presentation of the MDC's
election manifesto by the party's president, Morgan Tsvangirai and his
deputy, Gibson Sibanda. The presentation was made in English, Shona and
Ndebele. Also presenting their manifestoes were independent candidates
Margaret Dongo (Harare South) and Leonard Nkala (Phelandaba).
jamming of SW Radio Africa's short wave transmissions continues and as
a result, MMPZ is still unable to adequately monitor the content of
its output. The station continues to attempt to broadcast on three
separate frequencies in the short wave band in the evenings and between 5am
and 7am (1197 Khz) in the medium wave band.
MONDAY'S news coverage continued to show
the heavily biased output of state television in favour of ZANU PF. Of the
18 rally reports carried on ZTV in its 6pm and 8pm bulletins, 15 were on the
ruling party, two on the MDC and one on the Zimbabwe People's Democratic
Party (ZPDP). The time allocated to the ZANU PF rallies also reflected this
bias. Out of the 40 minutes and 30 seconds ZTV devoted to the political
parties' campaigns, 35 minutes (86%) were allocated to ZANU PF,
three-and-a-half minutes (8.6%) to the MDC and two minutes (5%) to
In addition, four MDC rallies were crammed into one report in the
8pm bulletin with picture coverage only being given to rallies the
opposition party held in Highfield and Gweru. The other two rallies, in
Bindura and Norton, were mentioned in passing. ZTV delayed broadcasting news
of all four rallies, which took place over Saturday and Sunday.
(8pm) report on the four MDC rallies was given a total of two minutes and 10
seconds, while two ZANU PF rallies addressed by President Mugabe in Chikomba
and Mutoko alone were allocated a total of six minutes and 10 seconds,
including full picture coverage of both rallies. The ZANU PF rallies were
billed as top news stories. The pattern was the same on radio. A total of 12
ZANU PF campaign stories were reported out of 14 campaign stories aired on
Power FM (six) and Radio Zimbabwe (six). The remaining two stories were on
the MDC's Highfield rally on Sunday, carried briefly once each by Power FM
and Radio Zimbabwe. This contrasted sharply with the generous coverage the
government-controlled radio stations gave to ZANU PF rallies in Shamva,
Mutoko, Mpopoma, Chitungwiza and Mount Darwin.
The bias in coverage
was also evident in the way the government radio stations sourced their
voices as shown in Fig 1.
Station ZANU PF MDC Other Opposition Power
FM 7 1 0 Radio Zimbabwe 6 1 0
Studio 7 attempted to balance its
coverage of the political parties' campaigns in its four stories, reporting
two MDC rallies in Bulawayo and Harare, one ZANU PF rally in Chikomba and the
campaign activities of independent candidate for Kariba, Sam Mawawa. The
private radio station also carried a profile of the MDC's Tsholotsho
candidate, Mtoliki Sibanda. Studio 7 reported that it had tried
unsuccessfully to report on the campaign activities of ZANU PF's Musa Matema
(Tsholotsho) and Shumbayaonda Chandengenda (Kariba), as well as the MDC's
Nathan Makwasha (Kariba) and independent candidate for Tsholotsho, Jonathan
Moyo, for example, reportedly told the private radio station that
he preferred to focus on his campaign than "waste time talking to
us". Studio 7 reported Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube predicting a ZANU
PF victory in the elections, not because of popular mandate but
through rigging. The cleric alleged that the ruling party was "enticing the
people by providing food, computers and sewing machines", adding, "Everything
is in their favour, 300 000 bogus voters are on the roll, 800 000 dead voters
and 600 000 names of duplicate voters gives them a total of almost two
b) Administrative issues
ZTV carried one
administrative report in which it merely reported on an announcement by the
Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) calling on Public Service and District
Development Fund (DDF) employees willing to be recruited and deployed for
electoral duties to report to their provincial offices.
carried a total of 11 stories on issues relating to the administration of the
election. Eight of the stories were on voter education and assurances by
electoral authorities that the election logistics were in place, while the
rest comprised ZANU PF's satisfaction with the election preparations and an
announcement that the leader of the SADC observer team and the Iranian
delegation would meet President Mugabe. All the stories merely echoed
official sentiments. Radio Zimbabwe's four stories on the topic were
similarly superficial and sympathetic to the ruling party and covered the
same issues broadcast by Power FM.
By comparison, Studio 7 was not
dependent on official statements for its stories relating to election
administration. For example, the station reported that 800 polling officers
deployed to Mudzi by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had been sent back to
Harare by the District Administrator and ZANU PF provincial chairman (and
candidate for the area), Ray Kaukonde, allegedly because they were "MDC
loyalists". ZEC spokesperson Utloile Silayigwana confirmed the
In its second story, Studio 7 reported fears expressed by the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) that about 50 000 polling agents,
mostly teachers, due to be deployed outside their constituencies, may not be
able to vote if the ESC did not address the issue before Thursday. In
addition, ZESN chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove was reported in the same story
as raising concerns about the capacity of what he said were about 7,000
local observers to effectively observe the conduct of the voting process in
more than 8,000 polling stations nationwide.
ZBH did not record any cases of politically motivated violence
or rights abuses. However, ZTV, Power FM and Radio Zimbabwe carried one story
apiece on government's rejection of Archbishop Pius Ncube's allegations
reported on Sky News television that it was deliberately starving opposition
supporters in Matabeleland in order to force them to vote for the ruling
party. Studio 7 aired a report that on Sunday police had arrested 145
MDC supporters coming from an MDC rally in Highfield. However, no details
were given on why they were arrested, neither was there police confirmation
of the arrests. Ends//
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