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

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Zim Online

Mbeki's Zimbabwe election claims shot down
Mon 7 March 2005
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's electoral field remains heavily tilted in
favour of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party in breach of
a regional protocol on elections, South African civic society groups have
said.

Speaking after an informal fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe, the
groups' representative, Charles Villa-Vicencio, shot down claims last week
by President Thabo Mbeki that the March 31 election will be free and fair.

In a statement virtually endorsing in advance Zimbabwe's poll as free
and fair, Mbeki said he could see no reason to think that "anybody in
Zimbabwe will act in a way that will militate against elections being free
and fair."

Villa-Vicencio, who is the executive director of the Institute for
Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), told the Press that although there was
less overt violence compared to previous polls, intimidation of perceived
government opponents and the electorate in general was still rife in
Zimbabwe.

The electoral process was still being manipulated in favour of Mugabe
and his government and Southern African Development Community guidelines on
free and fair elections were not being adhered to fully.

The electoral process was still being manipulated in favour of Mugabe
and his government and Southern African Development Community guidelines on
free and fair elections were not being adhered to fully.

Villa-Vicencio said: "There is a downplaying of overt violence, such
as the killings and harassment but this does not mean the playing fields
have been levelled . . . the oppression, control and manipulation are now
far more subtle. So the playing fields have decidedly not been levelled and
the SADC principles are not strictly adhered to."

Besides the IJR, other groups that took part in the informal
fact-finding mission include the South African Council of Churches, the
Institute for Democracy in South Africa and the Centre for Policy Studies.
The groups work under the Zimbabwe Solidarity
Network (ZSN), a loose coalition of local civic groups pressing for a
democratic solution to Zimbabwe's crisis.

Villa-Vicencio said the group's mission met a range of Zimbabwean
non-governmental organisations, church leaders and main political parties.

He said the Zimbabwean groups highlighted that fear had been instilled
in ordinary Zimbabweans with everyone fully aware of the cost of defying
ZANU PF and Mugabe. There was also little voter education to alert citizens
to their right to elect whomever they wished to rule them.

At the same time, the government's youth militias, blamed for
torturing and murdering opposition supporters, were being mobilised while
security forces were being called up, all which helped create a mood of
resigned fear among the electorate, according to Villa-Vicencio.

Zimbabwe's parliamentary election is viewed by many as a key test on
Mbeki and other SADC leaders on whether they will hold Mugabe down to a set
of principles they adopted last year to promote democracy and ensure free
and fair elections in the region.

The country's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party while acknowledging public calls by Mugabe for a violence-free
election, says the electoral process remains under the control of pro-Mugabe
military and secret service operatives.

The MDC says a new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission appointed this year
to run the poll lacks independence because its chairman was handpicked by
Mugabe.

Harare has invited SADC, other African states, Russia and China to
observe the election. It has not yet invited the ZSN and the SADC
Parliamentary Forum, which published a critical report of Mugabe's
re-election in 2002. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Mercenaries still detained
Mon 7 March 2005

HARARE - Sixty-two mercenaries jailed in Zimbabwe for plotting a coup
in Equatorial Guinea were still in police custody yesterday, three days
after a High Court judge ordered their immediate release.

The mercenaries' lawyer, Alwyn Griebenow, condemned the continued
detention of the South Africans saying the authorities in Harare were
"trying to be spiteful right up until the last moment."

Griebenow, who travels to Harare today to try and secure his clients'
release, said even the South African embassy in Harare was still in the dark
on when the jailed mercenaries will be released.

Last Friday, the Department of Immigration officials said they had
applied for further detention of the mercenaries until their travel
documents were in order.

The mercenaries from South Africa, Angola and Namibia were arrested
last year at Harare International Airport on their way to stage a coup in
Equatorial Guinea. - ZimOnline

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The Scotsman

Zimbabwean opposition activists arrested for putting up posters

JANE FIELDS
IN HARARE

AT LEAST ten candidates for Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) have been arrested for putting up posters or trying to campaign
ahead of this month's parliamentary election, party officials said
yesterday.

While Robert Mugabe, the president, boasts that the election on 31 March
will be free and fair, the opposition says its members are harassed daily by
police and ruling party supporters.

"MDC candidates and activists appear to be the target of increasing police
harassment as polling day approaches," said Paul Themba Nyathi, an MDC
spokesman.

Late last month, Godfrey Chimombe, an MDC candidate, and two party activists
were arrested in the rural Shamva district near Harare for putting up
campaign posters on a wall already plastered with fliers for Mr Mugabe's
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

An opposition candidate for Mount Darwin alleged he was assaulted by ZANU-PF
councillors in northern Mount Darwin last week.

"Police are actually participating in a process of torturing and
intimidating MDC members ahead of general elections," Henry Chimbiri told
the Standard newspaper.

Police deny the claim. Mr Mugabe, who is accused of stealing the last two
elections in Zimbabwe, is riding high on expressions of solidarity from
regional leaders including South Africa's Thabo Mbeki.

South Africa's main union movement defied the government on Saturday and
said it would press ahead with plans for protests against the Zimbabwe
government.

The 81-year-old Zimbabwean leader has been touring impoverished rural
schools handing out computers while urging villagers to vote for the ruling
party.

The opposition claims it is being denied access to the state media, a key
requirement under regional guidelines for fair elections.

But a presidential spokesman said this weekend that the MDC was not getting
coverage because nothing it did was "newsworthy".
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Ian Douglas Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia from 1964 to 1979,is making a good recovery in a South African hospital where he underwent scheduled surgery to alleviate some discomfort caused by his hip replacements. He is expected to return home soon. A visitor reports that his memory is as sharp as ever.
Should you wish to send a 'Get well' message you can either:-
  1. log onto the Rhodesia Was Super posting room at
http://216.198.201.39/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=166press the button 'Post Reply' and follow the instructions;
We trust that Mr Smith will make a full recovery.
Cheers
Hugh Bomford
Secretary
Rhodesian Services Association
PO Box 13003
Tauranga, New Zealand 3030
web: http://home.clear.net.nz/pages/hbomford/
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ZIMBABWE SOLIDARITY NEWSLETTER
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<><><><><><><><><><><><><><
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Issue 3, Saturday 5 March, February, 2005

IMPORTANT NOTICE 1
----------------------------------
We need your help! Standing strong together, as Africans, in unity, means
spreading this newsletter as widely as possible! Whether in South Africa,
Zimbabwe, or abroad, whether by e-mail or as a printed copy. Don't hang onto
it! Pass it on!

But please remember: any-one that wants to receive this newsletter directly
from solidarity4zim@highveldmail.co.za must subscribe through e-mail in
person!! This is to avoid problems with local and international Spam laws
and regulations. (More info at the end of this letter)

IMPORTANT NOTICE 2
----------------------------------
The Shona and Ndebele translations are nearly finished! At the beginning of
this week the Shona translation of Issue 2 and 3 can be requested (email
'request Shona issue 2 or 3' to solidarity4zim@highveldmail.co.za). Also the
Ndebele translations of issue 1 and 2 can be requested (email 'request
Ndebele issue 1 or 2' to solidarity4zim@highveldmail.co.za). The other
issues will be translated during this week.

------------------------------------------------------------------
"We Are All Zimbabweans!! ... We Are All Swazis!"
------------------------------------------------------------------

CONTENTS
-----------------

Pre-Election monitors on situation;
NCA election climate reports;
A message from Mozambique;
Message From the Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation Forum;
A message from Malawi;
International Reports;
News Wraps;
Poem: A mysterious marriage;
About this Newsletter;
Calendar & Agenda;
Distribution, subscription and contact info
Important Announcements

VOICES FROM WITHIN - ELECTION MONITORS: "NOTHING HAS CHANGED!"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the run-up to the March 31st parliamentary elections reports form within
Zimbabwe are univocal: Nothing has changed in terms of election
administration. There is no way the Zimbabwe regime can be understood to
living up to the spirit of the SADC guidelines for free and fair elections.

Despite a plethora of election related "reforms" announced and promulgated
by the Government of Zimbabwe, the running of elections are still in the
hands of ZANU PF, one of the contesting parties. There are several bodies
that administer elections, but the majority of Zimbabweans thought that the
Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) would take over the running of elections.
This is not the case. The infamous Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede, will
essentially run these elections and will do so with the historical bias that
he has always possessed. He, like the Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner,
declared in 2002 that he is a Zanu-PF supporter. How can one state bluntly
that nothing has changed?

Firstly, the Delimitation Commission, set-up to review the electoral
constituencies, reduced Harare and Bulawayo constituencies by one. Despite
the population density of Harare and Bulawayo, these two cities now have
fewer polling stations than rural provinces like Mashonaland East, Central
and West to mention a few. It is widely understood that the delimitation
itself, was done by the Registrar General, long before the Delimitation
Commission was actually appointed. Interestingly, the new ZEC was not
responsible for the drawing of election boundaries.

Also, the number of polling stations, about 5,500 (going by the number of
inspection centers), are fewer than the number for the 2000 Parliamentary
elections which were more than 7000 even though now, five years on, Zimbabwe
is supposed to have a larger registered voting population of about 5 658
637. It is likely that voters will experience a repeat of the same practices
in urban areas as in 2002: standing in queues for long hours and many being
unable to vote. This time voting will be done on just one day. The Zimbabwe
regime hopes to address the problem of fewer poling stations by setting up
three voting centers all in one voting station. It will prove difficult if
possible at all for local monitors, planning to dispatch one monitor per
station, to observe proceedings at three voting centers simultaneously. The
Zimbabwe regime seems bent on introducing something new and confusing at
each election.
An added problem of fewer polling stations is that specifically in urban
area's, traditionally opposition strongholds, fewer people will be able vote
during the limited times there is. This will cost the opposition votes.

Thirdly, the Zimbabwe Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), which has
historically proved itself to be a toothless bull dog, will supervise
elections and will supervise the other bodies in terms of their conduct. But
it is still weak and is funded from a grant from the
Ministry of Justice, which is also responsible for seconding staff to the
commission. Its independence has always been doubted, let alone that of the
ministry of justice. It does not
have enough funding, has limited resources and is easy to manipulate.

The Voter's roll, which is supposed to be used and produced by the ZEC, was
drawn up by the Registrar General meaning that the ZEC, a supposedly
important body which the regime is boasting about as an indicator of
compliance with SADC norms, did not draw up the voters roll, nor did it run
or oversee the inspection process or draw and oversee the new election
boundaries. It hardly exists in real terms at all: in terms of having an
independent budget; a staff and programs of actions and work plans etc.
Until two weeks ago it is reported the ZEC didn't even have one operational
phone nor had they ever set foot in their office, a hotel room in a big
Harare hotel.

Fifthly, the Ministry of Justice, an interested party in the outcome of
these elections, is responsible for inviting local observers to register for
accreditation on condition they pay 100,000 US$ which translates to Z$550
000 000( five hundred and fifty million Zimbabwe dollars). Apart from this
being a ridiculously large sum which will limit local monitoring
participation, this money is not ploughed into the election bodies which are
severely under funded. It goes straight into Government coffers. The
Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for inviting foreign observers.
One wonders why Government ministers are given this responsibility when you
have the ZEC and the ESC. So effectively, these government ministries still
can determine who to invite and who to accredit. So Mugabe and his cronies
are setting the rules in a game they are participants in. To make matters
worse, he is also the referee!

So nothing has really changed in terms of election administration. This
combined with the political landscape where media access by the opposition
is essentially non-existent, partisan reporting by mass state owned print
and electronic media, intimidation still being a major factor in rural areas
and even urban areas, the use of state resources by ZANU PF bearing positive
mileage for the ruling party present a picture of more of the same as we
have experienced before in 2000 and 2002, as well as during the 1980ies.
Nothing has really changed!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The Struggle Continues For Peace, Truth And Justice In Southern Africa!"
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NCA ELECTION CLIMATE REPORTS
-----------------------------------------------------
The National Constitutional Assembly has released two reports so far on the
election climate. The first report covers Matabeleland North and South,
while the second covers Harare province. Both reports conclude that the
conditions for "full citizen participation" in the elections are not
present. The reports called for action by all political parties and
responsible authorities to investigate allegations and to ensure that
elections take place in a peaceful atmosphere. In particular, the report on
Harare province called for investigation into reports of abuse of women.

The report detailing electoral irregularities in the two Matabeleland
provinces indicates that there was substantial political violence in the
form of "hate speech, threats and intimidation." The report also states that
political use of food was seen in 5 constituencies in the two provinces. Of
the constituencies, Lupane, Insiza, Nkayi and Umzingwane had the worst
ratings for electoral irregularities.

Irregularities include forced attendance at ZANU political meetings, new
residents claiming to be prospective voters and assaults on freedom of
expression and information. Residents of the provinces have "been unable to
read the newspapers of their choice." There are also reports of intra-party
violence within ZANU (PF).

Very high levels of irregularities were reported in all constituencies
within the Harare province. Reports include political use of food and
infringements on basic freedoms. In several constituencies, including
Dzivarasekwa and Kuwadzana, it is reported that MDC members have been unable
to put up campaign posters.

Both parties were able to hold meetings, with ZANU (PF) holding more
meetings than the MDC. With one exception, meetings with forced attendance
were ZANU (PF) meetings. In some areas, a curfew of 9 pm has been
established. As in the Matabeleland provinces, it appears that new voters
are being moved into some constituencies, at times under the guise of being
resettled. Similarly, individuals who read newspapers other than the
state-owned Herald report being threatened by militia.

Harare has seen some adoption by the MDC of tactics traditionally employed
by ZANU (PF) such as forced chanting of political slogans. However, there
were no reports of violence committed by MDC members in any Harare
constituency. Physical violence was reported as being committed by the army,
the youth militia and ZANU (PF) supporters. It was reported that MDC
supporters had been denied access to food. In Harare North, at Hatcliffe 1
Primary School, the ZANU (PF) candidate was heard saying, "If you vote ZANU
you will get food."

There are also disturbing reports of politically motivated rape and indecent
assault. These assaults are committed mainly by the youth militia. There
were no reports of formal voter education in the province.

VOICES FROM THE REGION - SOLIDARITY FROM
MOZAMBIQUE -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The tide is turning. Despite the maneuvers of some of our political
leadership it seems an unavoidable conclusion: people in the SADC region are
waking up to the realities in Zimbabwe and are increasingly speaking out.
Just this week the well known Mozambican author Mia Couto spoke out in a
weekly column. Couto appealed to his own government to break ties with
Robert Mugabe, sensing that the freshly elected Mozambican president Armando
Guebuza has espoused a new political spirit that might also entail a break
from the traditional Mozambican foreign policy which previously let events
take its course.
Couto is quoted as stating "But now the internal political situation in
Zimbabwe is so clear that defending the regime requires enormous blindness.
Elections are approaching and all the news indicates that an unacceptable
swindle is being prepared against those who defend democracy and freedom.
What is at stake is the prestige of our foreign policy and of our country.
The prestige of our country, and of SADC (Southern African Development
Community), which Mugabe is trying to use as his final shield" (from Daily
News online, 2-2-05)

------------------------------------------------

"Peace And Justice In Zimbabwe Now!"

------------------------------------------------

AN OPEN LETTER:
THE ZIMBABWE SOLIDARITY AND CONSULTATION FORUM SPEAKS ON THE SADC PRINCIPLES
AND GUIDELINES AND THE ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation forum is a network of progressive
South African civil society organizations, including youth, women, labour,
faith-based, human rights and student formations. Over the past months our
network has grown rapidly in size and influence.

As we move towards March 31, we need to bear in mind that the Zimbabwean
elections of 2000 and 2002 deepened the political crisis, rather than
contributing to a progressive resolution. Since 2002 democratic space has
been further eroded.

Comparing 2005 with the elections of 2000 and 2002 there is one crucially
important difference now. We have in place the SADC Principles and
Guidelines. All SADC governments have solemnly signed these Principles,
which commit them (in terms of clause 7.1) to a scrupulous implementation.
As South African and Southern African citizens we are proud of these very
important and thoroughly progressive Principles and Guidelines. The
fundamental requirements of a legitimate election are no longer a matter of
vagueness, they are clearly benchmarked.

Below we have reproduced some of these principles and include examples taken
from monitoring reports that clearly indicate how these have been violated.

Full Participation of citizens in the political process and Political
Tolerance:
---------------------
There have been numerous reports of election campaigners being arrested,
beaten and even abducted while engaging in election activities. In most
cases those responsible for the attacks have not been arrested or charged.
Examples:
3 March: Prince Chibanda, the MDC candidate for Zvimba North and Paidamoyo
Muzulu the information and publicity secretary, were arrested and detained
at Chinoyi police station.
23 February: Hilda Mafudze, MDC candidate for Manyame, reported that 11 MDC
youths were assaulted by Zanu PF supporters while distributing campaign
literature. The incident was reported to Norton police station but the
police refused to arrest the Zanu PF youth.
16 February: Police in Harare raided a training session of the MDC's 120
candidates. Police claimed the meeting was illegal under the Public Order
and Safety Act. Ian Makone, the MDC's Director of Elections, was arrested.

Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media:
---------------------
20 February: The launch of the MDC's election campaign in Masvingo was not
carried live by the Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation (ZBC). Instead it gave
the event four minutes coverage later that evening. This was followed by a
two-hour live interview with President Mugabe on Zanu PF's manifesto
pledges. The Zanu PF launch was featured on the news for 4 days and received
over 4 hours coverage on TV and radio.

Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
---------------------
There has been no move to repeal those aspects of the Public Order and
Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA) that place severe limitations on citizens' basic civil and
political rights. POSA continues to be used to ban MDC meetings and prevent
free political activity.

Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
---------------------
Gordon Moyo, the chairman of the Bulawayo Agenda, a civic education group,
last week told the media that political violence, intimidation and the use
of food aid to coerce voters was increasing ahead of the elections. Moyo
further alleged that voters were being told that the use of translucent
ballot boxes would enable the authorities to trace each vote cast.

Existence of an up-dated and accessible voters' roll
---------------------
Voters have been arbitrarily removed from the voters' roll. Inspections that
have been carried out thus far on sections of the voters' roll have revealed
an alarming number of anomalies.
The Registrar General has consistently refused to provide the opposition
with an updated electronic version of the voters' roll which would enable
them to check its accuracy in an efficient manner.

Establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national
electoral bodies
---------------------
The recently established Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is subject to
the authority of the Electoral Supervisory Commission which is entirely
appointed by President Mugabe. All the other electoral bodies are entirely
chosen by, and beholden to, the Executive.

Voter Education
---------------------
The clauses in the ZEC Act that ban civil society from engaging in voter
education and ban foreign funding for civic education are unconstitutional.

Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens, including the
freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression and campaigning
---------------------
The recent release of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights,
fact finding mission report on the situation in Zimbabwe, raises a number of
serious concerns with regards to this SADC Principle.

THE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On freedom of expression.
---------------------
The African Commission stated that laws such as the Public Order and
Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA) would have "a 'chilling effect' on freedom of expression and
introduced a cloud of fear in media circles". The Commission recommended
that:
"The POSA and Access to Information Act should be amended to meet
international standards for freedom of expression".
On the police service.
---------------------
The African Commission found evidence that "a system of arbitrary arrests
took place". The Law and Order Unit of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
was described as appearing "to operate under political instructions and
without accountability to the ZRP command structures".
The Commission stated that every effort must be made to "avoid any further
politicisation of the police service" and recommended that the Law and Order
Unit be disbanded.
On the youth militia.
---------------------
In 2001 the Government of Zimbabwe established the National Youth Service
(NYS). The African Commission noted reports that youths trained under the
NYS have acted as militias for the ruling party and have been implicated in
acts of political violence.
The Commission proposed "that these youth camps be closed down."
On the rule of law.
---------------------
The African Commission found that "the government had failed to chart a path
that signaled a commitment to the rule of law." and in its recommendations
stated that:
"the independence of the judiciary should be assured and that court orders
should be obeyed".
On the work of NGOs.
---------------------
The African Commission's report stated:
"Legislation that prohibits the public participation of NGOs in public
education and human rights counseling must be reviewed. The Private
Voluntary Organizations Act should be repealed."
Since the African Commission visited Zimbabwe in 2002 little has changed.
No reform whatsoever of the police service has taken place. Youth training
centers remain operational. The fact that all newly recruited police
officers must be graduates of the NYS training has grave long-term
implications for policing and human rights in Zimbabwe.
The government has intensified its repression of NGOs, particularly those
working on governance and human rights. The Private Voluntary Organizations
Act is set to be replaced by the NGO Bill - a piece of legislation widely
condemned as even more repressive than the PVO Act. This Bill has passed
through parliament and remains only to be signed by President Mugabe before
it becomes law.
The judiciary remains under severe pressure. Since the African Commission
Fact-Finding Mission judges have been assaulted, threatened and harassed.
Court orders are frequently ignored. Indeed government officials and
ministers are on record as stating they will defy court orders with which
they disagree.
The African Commission is charged with ensuring the promotion and protection
of human rights. It is vital to the credibility of the Commission that its
recommendations carry the full support and weight of the AU and its members.

We believe that the majority of SADC governments should appreciate very
clearly that any pragmatic compromise on the SADC Principles and Guidelines
or a failure to acknowledge and address the findings of the African
Commission, in the vain hope that this compromise will establish some kind
of stability in Zimbabwe will, in fact:
Perpetuate the Zimbabwean political crisis;
Undermine the standing of our regional governments in the eyes of their
citizens and the international community at large.
They will also appreciate that this is a litmus test for other elections in
our region.

What Zimbabwe needs now is not another gravely flawed election but a
SADC-facilitated negotiated transition towards democracy. We call on all
SADC member states and their governments to ensure that SADC fulfill its
responsibilities and use the opportunities presented in the run up to
elections to open up democratic space in Zimbabwe that remains open beyond
the election itself. The role ECOWAS has played in Togo is a exmple from
West Africa that should inform the role of our own regional body.

In the coming days and weeks, we, the participating formations within the
Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation Forum will be intensifying our
activities within South Africa and throughout our region, in support of our
vision and in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe. We call on all South
and Southern Africans to join us in these activities. Our solidarity efforts
will need to extend way beyond the election itself.

A Luta Continua
An injury to one is an injury to all!

MESSAGE FROM MALAWI
--------------------------------------
Civil and religious groups in Malawi have expressed their deep concern over
the deteriorating political situation in Zimbabwe.

When they had failed to submit their petition on the new Non-Governmental
Organisation Bill on 13 September 2004 through a peaceful march to the
Zimbabwean Ambassador in Malawi, the Human Rights Consultative Committee
(HRCC) finally managed to do so on 10 December 2004 during International
Human Rights Day. The petition was addressed to Robert Mugabe, Their initial
effort was thwarted by the police for reason attributed to "endangering
diplomatic relations." The HRCC, concerned that the application of the
proposed law would criminalise the activities of civil society organisations
working in the field of human rights and good governance, and requested for
the suspension of the new law pending its review or complete repeal. They
also petitioned Prime Minister Paul Berenger of Mauritius, Chairperson of
SADC, on the matter.

In Blantyre the police halted a peaceful interdenominational prayer meeting
organised by civil society on 16 October 2004 to show solidarity with their
brethren in Zimbabwe by appealing for divine intervention to avert a
'looming human rights catastrophe in Zimbabwe.' The organisers included the
Civil Liberties Committee (CILIC) Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) and
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), stood fast for their
constitutional right to freely hold the event without interference from the
police or government. The police commissioner wished the prayer meeting
cancelled or delayed until the President met the civic society leaders on
the Zimbabwe issue. However, as the vigil organisers went to talk to the
police officers were already dispersing participants. In a press statement
the organisers said, "Malawi is still a police state under democratic
camouflage! You cannot fool everyone all the time! Wake up Malawians! The
price of democracy is eternal vigilance,"

Also in Malawi in October 2004 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) met
President Bingu wa Mutharika on the Zimbabwe crisis to present their
concerns on the deteriorating situation in that country and appealed for his
intervention, as a SADC Head of State. The President promised to do his best
to engage Mugabe. Convinced that the President is only paying lip service to
the issue, the CSOs warned the situation in Zimbabwe was a threat to the
Malawian economy since it is its major trading partner. They also expressed
concern over the position of the 3 million Malawians living in Zimbabwe.

INTERNATIONAL REPORTS
-----------------------------------------

INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP
The most recent International Crisis Group report on Zimbabwe, published in
November 2004, focuses on the upcoming elections. It places the elections
within the context of an ongoing and worsening crisis with severe political
repression. The report acknowledges and welcomes the electoral legislative
reforms passed by the regime, but calls them flawed and states: "The best
prospect in sight is a C-minus election that is fairly clean on election day
but deeply flawed by months of non-democratic practices."

The report also emphasizes the need for pressure on ZANU (PF) and its
leadership from African governments, particularly the regional powerhouse of
South Africa. The report stresses that Western governments such as the US
and Britain must "get behind" African efforts, harmonizing policies and
supporting African initiatives. The report remains pessimistic however about
the likelihood of substantial change, without which, it concludes, there
will be "a continued slide toward national and regional chaos, which would
ultimately require the international community to consider much graver
measures in even less promising circumstances."

The report takes a critical view the opposition MDC party, suggesting that
the party needs to "revive itself" if it is to have any success in the March
elections. The report cites the ongoing persecution of the party, including
the second treason charge against Morgan Tsvangirai. The report suggests
that, while the MDC can always decide to boycott the elections at the last
minute, it should participate to the greatest possible extent in the
meantime in the interests of "credibility and effectiveness as a political
force."

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
On the 28th of January, 2005, Amnesty International released a press
statement expressing deep concern over the continuing detention of Member of
Parliament Roy Bennet. A committee of Parliament sentenced Roy Bennet to 15
months in jail with hard labor for pushing the Minister for Justice, Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, to the floor during a debate
in Parliament.

Amnesty International (AI) does not condone Bennet's actions, but criticizes
the parliamentary procedures used to convict and sentence Bennet. In
particular, AI condemns the proportionality of the sentence to the offence
committed, calling it a "miscarriage of justice." The statement reiterated
AI's call for a review of Bennet's conviction and for him to be tried by an
independent and impartial court.

AI also cites the lack of appeal procedures available to Bennet and the
partisan voting on his punishment, both in the 'Privileges Committee' which
sentenced him, and in parliament, which approve the sentence, as evidence of
politically-motivated persecution. If the offence had not occurred in
parliament, Bennet would almost certainly have been charged with 'common
assault,' a crime that carries a much smaller sentence, and in many cases is
punished with only a fine.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
In December 2004, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a briefing paper
criticizing the proposed Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Bill. HRW
states that, "The Bill will. effectively eliminate organizations involved in
promoting and defending human rights."

HRW calls the bill "retrogressive," pointing out that it curtails the right
of freedom of association enshrined in the Zimbabwean constitution, and
increases governmental control over organisations that see themselves as
non-partisan. The Bill specifically targets organisations engaged in human
rights work by prohibiting local organisations engaged in such work from
receiving foreign funding and prohibiting the registration of foreign NGO's
who engage in such work, which the bills classifies under "issues of
governance."

The Bill also promotes partisanship by giving the Minister of Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare absolute control over the appointment of
the governing NGO Council, which makes all decisions about registration and
deregistration of organisations. The proposed Bill also makes requirements
of organisations, such as the need to register and pay registration fees
every year. The one positive development cited by HRW is the provision for
appeals in some areas, though not against decisions to de-register
organisations.

HRW argues specifically that Clauses 9 and 17 of the Bill violate the
Constitution and several international treaties and agreements to which
Zimbabwe is a party, including the 2004 SADC Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights.

---------------------------------------------------------
"Not Free And Fair Equals Not Legitimate."
---------------------------------------------------------

NEWS WRAP 1 JONATHAN MOYO FALLS FROM
FAVOUR
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Former ZANU (PF) Minister of Information has fallen out of favour with his
former sponsor, President Robert Mugabe. Moyo was dropped from the ZANU (PF)
politburo some time ago, but has reportedly been declared "enemy number one"
by Mugabe on Thursday 24 February. Mugabe has instructed the party to use
whatever "resources and strategies" to make sure that he loses the
Tsholotsho parliamentary seat he is contesting in the upcoming March 31st
elections. The Tsholotsho seat is currently held by an MDC parliamentarian.

Moyo has been formally expelled from the party after deciding to stand for
election as an independent. He was recently given 48 hours to move out of a
state-owned residence in the upmarket suburb of Gunhill. Moyo is fighting
his eviction in the courts, claiming that it would case "great inconvenience
and prejudice and therefore irreparable harm."

In further evidence of splits within the ZANU (PF) party, Philip Chiyangwa
was prevented by state security agents from entering a stadium where Mugabe
was addressing a party gathering. Chiyangwa is the former ZANU (PF)
Provincial Chairman for Mashonaland West. (rom Zim Online, 1&2-3-05)

------------------------------------------------------------
"Freedom Is More Than A Contested Election."
------------------------------------------------------------

NEWS WRAP 2 EX-UNITED NATIONS GENERAL CALLS FOR
INTERVENTION -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lt-Gen Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian commander of a United Nations (UN)
peace-keeping force during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has warned there is
urgent need for regional and international intervention to prevent Zimbabwe's
political crisis from further deteriorating. He said lack of such action was
a perfect example of a lack of political will to prevent crises. In Rwanda
up to one million people were killed. Although the political situation in
Zimbabwe may not be as tense as in Rwanda during the build-up to the
massacres, observers fear it could deteriorate if there is no immediate
intervention.
Dellaire gained fame and acclaim as he was seen as one of the few people in
the United Nations who were pushing for a large UN intervention to prevent
the genocide from happening. His numerous pleas for an intervention by the
UN were ignored by UN Headquarters in New York. (From The Daily Mirror,
2-3-05)

A MYSTERIOUS MARRIAGE
----------------------------------------
Once upon a time
there was a boy and a girl
forced to leave their home
by armed robbers.
The boy was Independence
The girl was Freedom.
While fighting back, they got married.

After the big war they went back home.
Everybody prepared for the wedding.
Drinks and food abounded,
Even the disabled felt able.
The whole village gathered waiting
Freedom and Independence
were more popular than Jezus.

Independence came
But Freedom was not there.
An old woman saw Freedom's shadow passing.
Walking through the crowd, Freedom to the gate.
All the same, they celebrated for Independence.

Independence is now a senior bachelor
Some people still talk about him
Many others take no notice
A lot still say it was a fake marriage.
You can't be a husband without a wife.
Fruitless and barren Independence staggers to old
age,
Since her shadow, Freedom hasn't come.

Courtesy of Freedom T.V. Nyamubuya, from on the road again, Freedom
Publishers

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Tell No Lies, Claim No Easy Victories" (Amilcar Cabral)

------------------------------------------------------------------------

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER
----------------------------------------
Over the past decades numerous South African progressive civil society
organizations have emerged that work on issues that form an integral part of
the current crisis in Zimbabwe. These range from humanitarian issues such as
food relief, to issues such as human rights and civil liberties, from
democracy to trade union work. But ever since the intensification of the
Zimbabwe crisis in 2000, Zimbabweans have rightly been complaining that
their fellow Africans, and first and foremost their South African neighbors,
have hardly done enough to aid the plight of the people of Zimbabwe.
However, over the past year several South African civil society
organizations of all walks of life have committed themselves to working
together in order to maximize their out-pout with regards to the crisis, as
well as show solidarity in practical sense as well as on a moral level.
COSATU's courageous attempted fact-finding missions to Zimbabwe are only one
example of practical solidarity for the people of that country.
The Zimbabwe Solidarity and Consultation forum is a network of progressive
South African civil society organizations, including youth, women, labour,
faith-based, human rights and student formations. Over the past months our
network has grown rapidly in size and influence, and we say confidently that
we have contributed to a much greater understanding of the crisis and
challenges in Zimbabwe within our organizations and within the broader South
African debate.

CALENDAR AND AGENDA
---------------------------------------

9 MARCH 2005 COSATU picket outside Zimbabwe High Commission
12 MARCH 2005 All are invited for the ZIMBABWE SOLIDARITY RALLY in
Musina, Limpopo Province, South Africa, for further information call (011)
833 5959 or email at zsrcoord@civicus.org.
11 MARCH 2005 COSATU border blockade
16 MARCH 2005 COSATU March to Beit Bridge border post
18 MARCH 2005 COSATU border blockade
23 MARCH 2005 Mass COSATU march on the high commission
30 MARCH 2005 COSATU all night candlelight vigil by the Beit Bridge
border post
31 MARCH 2005 COSATU all night candlelight vigil by the Beit Bridge
border post

DISTRIBUTION DETAILS AND CONTACT INFO
---------------------------------------------------------------------

This Newsletter is the plain text version of the email Zimbabwe Solidarity
Newsletter. The main idea behind the Newsletter is that it can be
distributed in Zimbabwe so that people without internet access may receive
it as well. Therefor we also provide a print-easy foramt of this Newsletter.
The print-easy Newsletter can be printed out onto three pages A4, front to
back. Please help us distribute the print-friendly copy in Zimbabwe! The
more access to information and solidarity the better! The print-friendly
copy can be requested by sending an e-mail with subject 'request
print-friendly' to solidarity4zim@highveldmail.co.za The
print-friendly Newsletter is distributed via e-mail as an Adobe Reader (PDF)
document.

The below applies for the email Newsletter:
To subscribe or unsubscribe one can contact
solidarity4zim@highveldmail.co.za with the word 'subscribe' or 'unsubscribe'
as subject. Please note that you must subscribe in person (that is; you must
e-mail from the address you wish to receive the newsletter on). The default
format of this Newsletter is Rich Text (HTML), a more graphic layout but
also a larger file. A Plain Text format can be requested by sending us an
e-mail to
solidarity4zim@highveldmail.co.za with 'request plain text' as subject.
Letters, reactions or opinions can be sent to
solidarity4zim@highveldmail.co.za with the words 'Newsletter reaction' in
the subject.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
-----------------------------------------------
The Shona version of issue 2 and 3 is ready! This can be requested from
solidarity4zim@highveldmail.co.za by typing 'request shona plaintext' or
'request shona pdf' in the subject line of an email to usl, or by going to
our new website. For Ndebele the same applies as above, but with 'Ndebele'
in the request. The Ndebele translations will be ready shortly. Issue 1 will
be available in both languages as of next week. They can be requested as
above.
Last weeks issues can be requested by sending us an e-mail with 'request
issue 1 and/or 2' in the subject.
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The Boston Globe

As vote nears, hope of change in Zimbabwe
Mugabe seen to provide opening for opposition
By John Donnelly, Globe Staff | March 7, 2005

DOMBOSHAWA, Zimbabwe -- Five years after government-backed toughs crushed
political opposition to President Robert Mugabe and armed gangs started
seizing white-owned farms, many Zimbabweans today say they are ready to push
for genuine democracy in national elections this month.

The possible sea change in this southern African nation of 12 million people
arrives at a moment when Mugabe has apparently ordered his youth militia and
soldiers to largely stay on the sidelines during the campaigns for
parliament -- a gamble, say diplomats and analysts, that the elections will
help him regain legitimacy around the world.

But the slight opening in political freedom -- opposition candidates are
holding rallies and some events are drawing thousands of people -- has
caused many people to become cautiously optimistic of a strong showing by
the opposition, raising hopes that the election will mark the beginning of
the end of Mugabe's quarter-century reign. Mugabe, 81, the only leader
Zimbabwe has ever had, is one of Africa's last remaining ''Big Man" leaders,
a largely corrupt group keen on holding onto power above all else.

''Mugabe craves legitimacy," said a Western diplomat in the capital, Harare,
speaking on the condition of anonymity. ''So he's doing what he can to clean
up his image, but did he [err on] his bet by giving space to the opposition,
which will give them a better showing?"

Even in small rural villages like Domboshawa, about 20 miles north of
Harare, where members of Mugabe's hated Central Intelligence Organization
are never far away, residents are quietly talking about their hopes that the
election results will hasten Mugabe's departure, even if he does not face
reelection until 2008.

One man, who like most residents asked not to be identified out of fear of
retributions from the ruling party, said villagers trust that their ballots
March 31 will be cast in secret. ''I think that will be good for those who
oppose the old man," he said quietly. ''I hate him. Everything is bad
here -- no tourists, no foreign capital, no freedoms."

In January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled Zimbabwe as one of
the world's ''outposts of tyranny," lumping it with North Korea, Burma,
Iran, Belarus, and Cuba.

Privately, several State Department officials in Washington say they regard
the Mugabe regime as the most brittle of the six nations because of the
upcoming election, his advancing age, and the recent strife inside the
ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or
ZANU-PF.

For the past three months, in fact, Zimbabwe's president has faced
relentlessly bad news.

In addition to Rice's charge, Mugabe announced that some within the party
were organizing a coup. He fired six of 10 provisional chairmen and his
outspoken information minister, among others. At the same time, the main
opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, abandoned plans to boycott
the election and entered candidates for seats around the country.

And recently, Mugabe acknowledged that his controversial land reform program
has not succeeded. In 2000, he gave the go-ahead for gangs of war veterans
to forcibly take over many of Zimbabwe's 4,000 white-owned farms. But Mugabe
said just 44 percent of the land is being utilized today. Left unsaid was
the legacy of the seizures: a flight of foreign capital, the devastation of
the economy, a loss of nearly 50 percent of corn crops, and sanctions from
the West.

But the international community has otherwise paid little attention to
Zimbabwe in recent years. In 2003, US officials abruptly toned down their
remarks on Zimbabwe when President Bush indicated that President Thabo Mbeki
of South Africa would be the ''point man" in dealing with Mugabe. Mbeki's
''quiet diplomacy" efforts have yielded almost no results.

Even as the State Department heralded programs that encouraged free speech
and good governance around the world, it cut pro-democracy funding for
Zimbabwe last year to less than $3 million, from more than $6 million the
year before.

The question now is whether ordinary Zimbabweans, through the ballot, will
be the catalysts for change.

''Three months ago, you'd expect this election would be a blowout for
Mugabe," said the Western diplomat. ''But right now, look at how much it has
shifted, and a lot of this was self-inflicted by the ZANU-PF."

The state of decline in Zimbabwe is visible almost everywhere, from potholes
dotting roads to the empty shelves inside pharmacies at rural hospitals. In
a country that five years ago was the regional breadbasket, pediatricians
are seeing ''many, many more cases of malnutrition among children," said Dr.
Geoff Foster, who works in the eastern city of Mutare.

Infrastructure problems are becoming acute; Harare just announced major cuts
in city water because of malfunctioning electrical pumps, and some
neighborhoods have been without water for the last two weeks.

But among ordinary people, there is little public outrage voiced at the
state of affairs.

''It's because of fear," said Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer in
Harare who has unsuccessfully tried to stop the deportations of several
foreign correspondents in recent years. ''If they were to voice their
discontent, especially in a rural area, they know their house would be burnt
to ashes the next morning."

Mtetwa, 46, said people haven't held wide-scale marches in protest, such as
in Ukraine and recently in Lebanon, because ''there isn't that
collectiveness required for things to erupt."

Mtetwa was one of only a few Zimbabweans who agreed to allow their names to
be used in a story. In the past two years, the Zimbabwean government has
only rarely given visas to foreign journalists, who almost always now enter
the country surreptitiously as tourists; if caught, the penalty is a maximum
two years in jail. A Globe reporter entered as a tourist last week, just as
Mugabe began traveling around the country in support of ZANU-PF candidates.

Mugabe's message is simple: railing against Prime Minister Tony Blair of
Britain, or white people in general.

Last month, he said Rice was born of slave ancestry and should know ''that
the white man is not a friend."

And last week in Chinhoye, he said: ''The ancestors of Tony Blair were the
oppressors of this country, and now Blair wants to take over us again. They
are giving money to people and mobilizing people to make violence against
this country."

Mbeki, South Africa's leader, said last week that Zimbabwe is likely to hold
free and fair elections. ''Things like the independent election commission,
things like access to the public media, things like the absence of violence
and intimidation, those matters have been addressed," Mbeki said in Cape
Town.

That set off a howl of protest from many observers. Under the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) rules for democratic elections, they
pointed to several problem areas, including:

Police have interpreted the Zimbabwean Public Order and Security Act as
requiring police permission for public meetings of more than five people;
SADC calls for ''full participation of citizens in the political process."

The government has shut down four newspapers in the last two years after
articles and editorials disagreed with ruling party decisions; SADC
principles call for political tolerance.

The Zimbabwean Electoral Act will allow out-of-country soldiers and
diplomats to vote, but won't allow millions of other Zimbabweans living
abroad to cast absentee ballots; SADC insists on equal opportunity to
exercise the right to vote.

The last issue worries Brian Kogoro, chairman of the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, a group of nongovernmental organizations.

The ruling government ''has 90,000 votes with the soldiers and the youth
militia," he said. ''No one is talking about it. But they can take those
90,000 votes and use them in any district they want. That's why I think
ZANU-PF is not taking a big gamble. They know they have those votes."

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, said in
an interview in Johannesburg that he is happy to see the lack of violence so
far in the campaign. But he said the vote cannot be considered free.

''We are going into these elections not necessarily with the belief that
you'll have a free and fair vote, but to test national sentiment,"
Tsvangirai said.

MDC won 57 seats in the 2000 elections, its first ever. Many analysts say
matching that total would be considered a victory, but that still leaves MDC
far short of a majority in the 150-member parliament. Some 120 seats are up
for vote, while Mugabe is allowed to control the appointment of the other 30
members, under the constitution.

Tsvangirai said he detects a transformation in Mugabe since the 2000
elections. ''When there was a visible threat to his power, he became very
vicious against perceived enemies," Tsvangirai said. ''When there was a real
threat after the referendum in 2000, he realized there were so many forces
against him, internally and externally, he reacted by saying this is a white
conspiracy supported by Britain. I think it has reached very paranoid levels
in his interaction with Britain or with whites."

But in the village of Domboshawa, a 51-year-old man lying in the shade said
Mugabe's message resounded with many.

''Blair is the whole problem. There is foreign meddling in our affairs now,"
said the man. ''You know, it's been only a little more than 24 years since
independence, and these hills are full of graves of independence fighters.
This is a country with a guerrilla mind-set."

Still, he said, ''I'm supportive of democracy, and I'm glad to see the
opposition people on television."

John Donnelly can be reached at donnelly@globe.com

Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

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The Mercury

Zim labour body defends itself
March 7, 2005

Harare: The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions expressed its surprise
yesterday at a state media report that said the union federation's
constituent members had become disaffected.

The union federation said the Herald report had carried a statement
attributed to its 17 members accusing its secretariat of unilateral
decision-making, corruption and engaging in politics at the expense of the
workers' welfare.

"The ZCTU would like to make it clear that all the decisions taken by
the organisation are reached at General Council meetings and there has never
been a time when a General Council meeting has proceeded without a quorum.

Which means that there will be a consensus on the issues under
discussion every time," the union federation said in a statement received in
Johannesburg.

It said the role of the secretariat was to implement and communicate
decisions and policies made by the General Council to the membership and
other interested parties.

"The secretariat will never implement its own decisions without
consulting the General Council, which comprises of representatives of every
ZCTU affiliate," it said. However, there was no way the union federation, as
a labour body, could disassociate itself from politics.

"A conducive political and economic environment is a catalyst for the
country's development in general, and a harmonious industrial relations
atmosphere in particular. As such, the ZCTU will always feel obliged to play
its role as a representative of the workers."

"It is unfortunate that the allegations of corruption and dictatorship
were raised in the statement to the press while the instigators of these
allegations have not sought clarification from head office on their
concerns," Mlamleli Sibanda, of the federation's information department,
concluded. - Sapa

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The Star

Conflict erupts over SADC's Zim monitors
March 7, 2005

By Angela Quintal

The Southern African Development Community observer mission, which
plans to be in Zimbabwe two weeks before the March 31 poll, is shrouded in
controversy even before its official composition has been announced.

The 70-member mission, headed by Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe
Mapisa-Nqakula, planned to leave next Monday, officials said yesterday.

Mapisa-Nqakula, who headed the South African parliamentary observer
mission to the 2003 Zimbabwean presidential elections, will announce her
regional team today.

SADC member states have nominated their own representatives
"Left hand does'nt know what right hand is doing"
.

Ten of the members will be from South Africa, with at least two from
the National Assembly's home affairs committee. They include the committee's
chairperson and ANC MP Patrick Chauke and the DA's deputy spokesperson on
home affairs, Marius Swart.

But by yesterday neither Swart nor his chief whip, Douglas Gibson, had
been officially advised of their inclusion.

It is understood Mapisa-Nqakula plans to inform the South African team
members today.

They are expected to include a representative of the National Economic
Development and Labour Council and of the legal fraternity.

Chief whip Gibson said yesterday: "I know absolutely nothing about it.
Nobody nominates anybody to go anywhere but me."

He had nominated DA MP Dianne Kohler-Bernard as the party's
representative on the mission, but received a letter on Friday from
ambassador Jessie Duarte rejecting Kohler-Bernard.

Told by Independent Newspapers that Swart was on the list instead,
Gibson said: "It sounds typical of the disorganisation of the ANC-led
government.

"The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing."

Gibson urged the government to get its act together and repeated that
Kohler-Bernard and not Swart would be his party's nominee.

When Mapisa-Nqakula headed a South African parliamentary team
observing the last presidential poll in Zimbabwe, in March 2002, she was the
ANC's chief whip.

She and her team stopped short of calling that election free and fair,
instead gauging the result as "a credible statement of the will of the
people".

Meanwhile, the ANC's own observer, team led by James Motlatsi, leaves
for Harare today.

Several other observer teams will also be monitoring the election,
including one from the South African parliament headed by ANC chief whip
Mbulelo Goniwe and a SADC parliamentary forum team, which is believed still
to be awaiting permission from Zimbabwean authorities.

Both President Thabo Mbeki and Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma are on record as saying they believe the Zimbabwe election will
be free and fair. - Group Political Editor.

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Cape Times

Mbeki's misjudgment
March 7, 2005

The pronouncement by President Thabo Mbeki that the coming Zimbabwean
elections will be free and fair must surely earn its place in the pantheon
of political gaffes alongside Stalin's 1936 statement that the then USSR had
the most democratic constitution in the world, and Chamberlain's 1938
prognostication of peace in our time.

If anything, it has shown Mbeki to have been acting in bad faith from
the start in brokering a truce between the MDC and Zanu-PF.

The fact that the United States recently branded Zimbabwe as an
outpost of tyranny speaks volumes about how little credence the United
States now holds for Mbeki's statements on Zimbabwe and his policy of quiet
diplomacy.

Yet, Mugabe is royal game as far as Mbeki and the ANC hierarchy is
concerned. Why?

Quiet diplomacy has been a dismal failure. If the Allies had adopted a
similar attitude in the face of tyranny 60 years ago, we would today all be
speaking German and singing the Horst Wessel.

Paul Pregnolato
Kenilworth

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BBC
Lord Carrington, former Conservative Foreign Secretary and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi
On Sunday, 06 March, 2005, Sir David Frost interviewed Lord Carrington, former Conservative Foreign Secretary and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Lord Carrington and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi
Lord Carrington, former Conservative Foreign Secretary and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi

DAVID FROST: It's exactly 25 years since Robert Mugabe won the election which made him the first Prime Minister of the newly independent Zimbabwe.

The deal for the transfer of power in what was then Rhodesia, was agreed at Lancaster House in London, and it was signed by Lord Carrington the Conservative Foreign Secretary at the time, and the leaders of the struggle against white minority rule. But the optimism which accompanied independence has seemed to sour, particularly in the last decade.

Robert Mugabe has been accused of ruthlessly suppressing all political opposition, his policy of confiscating land from white farmers is said to be ruining the country's economy, and Zimbabwe's been suspended from the Commonwealth.

Well, I'm joined now by Lord Carrington, welcome, we're delighted to have you with us, and by the Zimbabwean Ambassador in London, Ambassador Mumbengegwe. Good morning.

SIMBARASHE MEMBENGEGWE: Good morning Sir David.

DAVID FROST: Let me ask you first, Ambassador, if I may. Everybody says that Zimbabwe has the fastest shrinking economy - as it was a much wealthier country - in the world. And Mr. Mugabe himself has said that there's 6 million acres of land not being farmed at the moment. Is that the reason for Zimbabwe being the fastest shrinking economy in the world?

Simbarashe Mumbengegwi
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi

SIMBARASHE MEMBENGEGWE: No, that is not the reason. Zimbabwe has been very unfortunate in the sense that at the time that the land redistribution programme in the year 2000 coincided with three years of successive drought in the whole region. Now, as you know, Zimbabwe's economy is very much agriculture driven. When you have one year of drought the economy suffers. Two years that's really bad. Three years you can imagine the havoc that has caused to the economy.

That is the first point. Then the second point has been that our land redistribution programme had met with intense opposition from the government of the United Kingdom who have modernised the allies in Europe, in America, in the white Commonwealth to put sanctions in Zimbabwe. So by and large a combination of drought and economic sanctions very much contributed to the economic bad patch that we have been through. But the economy is picking up now.

DAVID FROST: Do you see it that way? Would that be your explanation of what's gone wrong?

Lord Carrington
Lord Carrington, former Conservative Foreign Secretary

LORD CARRINGTON: I thought that had been contradicted by Mr. Mugabe himself by saying well five, six million acres that are not being cultivated. I mean, and the... with respect, the redistribution has got nothing whatever to do with it. Everything was going quite well up until about 15 years ago. For 15 years Zimbabwe didn't do too badly.

DAVID FROST: Oh now, the first ten years people...

LORD CARRINGTON: It was all right and then things went wrong so Mr. Mugabe played the race card, and then that didn't work because all the redistribution went to all the friends and the people who didn't do anything about it. And then subsequently he's become more and more authoritarian and you've seen Zimbabwe, the strongest economy in Africa, go down the drain. And it's a disgraceful state of affairs.

DAVID FROST: Back to you Ambassador. Mr. Mugabe takes the responsibility in the last 15 years things have gone wrong. And people do say of course that it is getting more and more a dictatorship and will these next elections be free and fair. But you respond to, Lord Carrington, Peter Carrington.

SIMBARASHE MEMBENGEGWE: Well let us not forget, you know, Lord Carrington referred to the race card. The question of race has never been very far in Zimbabwean politics. We all know that during the 90 years of colonial rule the land was forcibly taken from the black majority.

The black majority was brutalised, we never heard of any human rights, and during that whole period it was the people of Zimbabwe themselves who came up and fought to introduce democracy in Zimbabwe, to introduce the notion of human rights in Zimbabwe, to introduce the rule of law.

And indeed the question of land being owned by white people in Zimbabwe was not introduced by President Mugabe. It was introduced by the British colonial administration. Therefore, any land reform programme in Zimbabwe had to acquire land from white people, that's how the race sector comes in, in order to distribute to the black majority.

DAVID FROST: All right then, it's over to you.

SIMBARASHI MEMBENGEGWE: No, no, just one point.

DAVID FROST: Yes.

SIMBARASHE MEMBENGEGWE: If the land owners in Zimbabwe were black people, nobody in this country would ever have heard of Zimbabwe's land reform programme. So that question of kith and kin is very, very, very close in Zimbabwe. And it was raised very prominently by former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson when he refused to put down the rebellion by the Smith regime back in 1965.

DAVID FROST: All right, now we must go...

LORD CARRINGTON: This is absolutely irrelevant to what is happening in Zimbabwe at the present time. The white farmers and all the rest of it, that's all history. What has happened since, there's been an authorising government, oppressing the people of Zimbabwe, you've seen what's happened to the currency, you've seen what's happened to the food, they're starving.

You've seen what's happened to human rights. That has got absolutely nothing with respect Ambassador, to do with what you've been saying. And what's happening in Zimbabwe is absolutely disgraceful.

DAVID FROST: And, let me just put one question to you, and that it's important thing to say, I mean, Condoleezza Rice herself black, and the President of the United States, not black, have both put forward the fact that out of only six countries that they named as outposts of tyranny, and one of them is Zimbabwe. Now why would Zimbabwe qualify for that list?

SIMBARASHE MEMBENGEGWE: Well of course it doesn't. You see that is the whole point. And with due respect to Condoleezza Rice, she doesn't know what she's talking about. She has never been to Zimbabwe and those who have been to Zimbabwe, those who have very close ties in Zimbabwe, in our region, they've totally contradicted the position, publicly.

So she doesn't know what she's talking about. Zimbabwe has been a democracy ever since throughout British colonial rule, in the white minority rule 1980. The election which is coming is the 6th parliamentary election that we have had and all our elections have been declared free and fair. Remember, remember, Lord Carrington.....

LORD CARRINGTON: ....the last election, the last election...

SIMBARASHE MEMBENGEGWE: I just want to remind you, you know, to jog your memory.

LORD CARRINGTON: Let me have a word sometime.

DAVID FROST: Well I think we will, yes.

SIMBARASHE MEMBENGEGWE: The last election, the last election...

DAVID FROST: One more sentence and then we go for...

SIMBARASHI MEMBENGEGWE: The last parliamentary election in the year 2000 was declared by all observers including the EU and the Commonwealth, to be free and fair. Lord Carrington, in the year 2000...

LORD CARRINGTON: Not everybody, not everybody...

DAVID FROST: Lord Carrington, a word from you because then we've got to go.

LORD CARRINGTON: Why do you think, I may say they say Ambassador, you've been suspended from the Commonwealth, you're not any longer a Commonwealth, not even a High Commissioner, you're an Ambassador. Why do you think that has happened? Because everything's so marvellous in Zimbabwe?

SIMBARASHE MEMBENGEGWE: Well, this is the point I was going to make. That is the only group which qualified the presidential of the elections of 2002, not the parliamentary elections, was the Commonwealth observer group, was only one of 15 observers which came up with that conclusion.

Discussion Ends


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.

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