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

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Melbourne radio features 15 minutes on Zim - Sunday
A 15-minute live studio piece with 3AW will run at 12.30pm on Sunday on
the elections/aftermath scenarios. Kerry Sibraa (ex Senator and Australia's
HC to Zim) will join in on the 'phone from Sydney.
Tune into http://www.3aw.com.au if you're around on Sunday.
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Zimbabwe Independent

Moyo mourns fall of Soviet Union
Dumisani Muleya

TWELVE years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Information minister
Jonathan Moyo is still mourning the end of the Cold War, claiming it caused
Zimbabwe's current image crisis.

Addressing journalists at a function organised by his department on
Wednesday, Moyo, back from the Commonwealth summit in Coolum, Australia,
said the global scrutiny of Zimbabwe was due to the end of the bipolar world
order.


The minister - looking unusually composed and relaxed - wondered whether
"Britain's interference" and the "significant white population" in the
country had something to do with it. Whites number 70 000 in a population of
13 million.


Moyo said tomorrow's key presidential election had been unnecessarily
internationalised by the media and other stakeholders when it was supposed
to be a national affair. He said globalising the poll generated a "conflict
of laws, history, geography and values" because the election had to be
interpreted within a certain framework.


"That is one of the negative consequences of the end of the Cold War," Moyo
said.


The minister said extensive media coverage was bad for the country because
it was yielding "distortions, misrepresentations and misunderstandings".


"I have my own reflections about this," he said. "The attention that we are
attracting has led to certain challenges that I think are serious."


Shifting to familiar ground, Moyo said there was a danger Western countries
were using democracy, human rights, transparency, accountability and good
governance to re-colonise Africa.


"Let's not use good things in a way that will remind us of how Christianity
was used for colonisation," he warned. "If we don't interrogate these
things, they will be used to re-colonise us."


Moyo claimed President Mugabe was one of the few remaining true
pan-Africanists. He did not expand.


The minister attacked the SABC for its recent coverage of Zimbabwe. He
accused the corporation of distorting issues and referred to a report in
which it said President Robert Mugabe had used powers of decree to restore
the nullified General Laws Amendment Act.


Moyo said he was not bothered by the BBC, CNN, AFP and Reuters reports
because they were designed to suit specific interests.


"But when we are misrepresented and misunderstood by people on our border it
becomes strange," he said. "When the SABC becomes more sensational than the
BBC and CNN we wonder what's happening."


Moyo said government was not trying to gag the media, but only asking for
fair and balanced coverage. He said the botched Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Bill has not yet been signed into law.


"We think we should bridge the gap and there is room for improvement in
terms of our relationship," he said. The minister said claims of
polarisation and divisions in the media "existed in the imagination of those
who invoke them".


Moyo has repeatedly invoked them in recent months. But media-watchers have
noted that since the setback he suffered over his Bill he has been less
vocal.


He has not for instance, with the exception of one reported remark, ventured
into the video-tape affair where government hired a Canadian security firm
to implicate opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in an assassination plot.
Nor has he been active in Zanu PF's presidential election campaign.

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Zimbabwe Independent

Economic revival hard nut for election winner
Barnabas Thondhlana

ZIMBABWE is now a financial basket case and the candidate who wins this
weekend's presidential poll will have his hands full trying to restore a
semblance of normalcy, economists said this week.

The two protagonists slugging it out for the country's highest office have
both addressed the economy as part of their election campaigns.


President Robert Mugabe promises a return to the command system, the
perpetuation of price controls, the rejection of IMF and World Bank
prescriptions and an economy driven by peasant agriculture.


A win for Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change will mean
a return to market reforms.


The fundamentals on the ground paint a sorry picture. Domestic debt is a
staggering $211 billion. Foreign debt arrears are about US$800 million and
inflation is at 117%, the highest ever.


There is a general consensus among economists that inflation, interest
rates, the exchange rate, government's budget structure, the rule of law and
international relations are some of the major issues requiring urgent
attention.


Samson Manyoni, a research economist, said the government had to understand
the country was in the grip of a high money supply regime which was a major
contributor to the run-away inflation.


"A restrictive monetary policy has to be put in place to arrest the broad
money supply growth that is causing price distortions," Manyoni said.


He said there was need to reduce the government's budget deficit which for
2002 has be-en estimated at 15% of gross domestic product (GDP).


"The budget structure must be changed so as to reduce the inflationary
pressures emanating from recurrent expenditure," he said.


Another economist said the shortage of foreign currency on the interbank
market had given rise to a thriving parallel market. The parallel market
exchange rate was being used for pricing purposes, creating a distortion in
pricing.


"Inflation must be contained and the Zimbabwe dollar must be devalued,"
Manyoni said.


A restrictive interest rate policy was needed to reduce broad money supply
to sustainable levels, he said. Savings should be encouraged and a new
policy that ensured national savings and emphasised an interest rate regime
that curbed inflation had to be implemented without delay.


He said the exchange rate policy had to be transparent, predictable and
consistent. This would encourage the export sector to increase output
thereby reducing or eliminating the current foreign ex- change crisis.


"An exchange rate policy must be introduced which encourages the export
sector to perform. The devaluation of the dollar cannot be avoided in the
process," he said.


Another economist said the budget structure must be changed in favour of
capital expenditure as opposed to recurrent expenditure to support the
productive sector.


"The capital budget is responsible for infrastructural development and hence
supports the productive sector. The rationalisation of the civil service
where non-key areas need to be reduced and emphasis placed on social
services like education and health will have to take place," he said.


He said Zimbabwe had to restore relations with the international community.


"In addition to creating an environment able to attract foreign donors to
support our balance of payments position, we must amend relations with the
donor community, especially the Bretton Woods institutions from whom the
donor community takes its cue," he said.

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Zimbabwe Independent

Commonwealth caught up in pre-poll violence


THE Commonwealth observer team has criticised the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) for alleging that its head of mission in Zimbabwe, Gen
Abdulsalami Abubakar, had said pre-election violence in Zimbabwe was being
exaggerated.

In a statement aimed at putting the record straight - which ZBC elected not
to use - the observer group said the ZBC report undermined the integrity of
Abubakar and the whole observer mission.


"The Commonwealth observer group deplores this crude attempt to compromise
the integrity of its chair- person and the group as a whole," the statement
said.


"The Commonwealth observer group has received credible reports of violence,
met with victims of violence, witnessed several incidents of violence and,
indeed, has itself been a victim of election-related violence," it said.


The ZBC report followed Abubakar's courtesy call on President Mugabe on
March 2.


Abubakar on Wednesday listened to harrowing reports from torture victims and
a man who said he was a defector from President Mugabe's youth militia.


The meeting in Bulawayo was arranged by Commonwealth observers and NGOs.


Abubakar's views on the election carry particular weight as they are likely
to decide whether Zimbabwe will be suspended from the Commonwealth after
this weekend's election.


Abubakar met Raymond (18) now living in a privately-arranged safe house, who
said he had joined the ruling party's youth militia because he believed he
would receive skills training.


Instead, he said, the army trained him and others - some as young as 14 - to
beat up people and set up roadblocks.


Raymond said he and 15 colleagues were eventually rescued by soldiers.


There was a gasp from observers as two supporters of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change showed Abubakar wounds they said were caused by
Mugabe's0 militia at a secret camp in a suburb of Bulawayo.


They said they were tortured for six hours with leather whips. Another four
victims said they were too frightened to speak to observers in public. -
Staff Writer/The Telegraph.

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Zimbabwe Independent

Gula-Ndebele admits ESC has failed displaced people
Blessing Zulu

CHAIRMAN of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) Sobusa Gula-Ndebele
has admitted that his organisation failed to educate displaced people on
their voting rights.

Addressing a meeting hosted by the Zimbabwe Economic Society this week,
Gula-Ndebele admitted voters displaced from their constituencies by
political violence would not be able to vote because the ESC did not have
the resources to advise them on how to transfer to other constituencies.


Human rights groups estimate 70 000 potential voters have been displaced in
recent months. They could have voted had they applied to be transferred to
other constituencies.


"The law says that such individuals can vote provided they apply to the
Registrar-General

to be transferred to another constituency but if they did not do this then
they will not be able to cast their vote," said Gula-Ndebele.


Most did not apply because there was no voter education.


"We could have done this but you must understand that the money we are
getting from the government is limited. We have to pay some money to public
broadcasters such as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and even public
newspapers such as the Herald," he said.


The ESC received $50 million from the government in November.


Zimbabwe Election Support Network chair Reginald Matchaba-Hove said
under-funding of the ESC was nothing new.


"Of great concern is the fact that the commission has never had sufficient
resources to enable it to carry out its functions," Matchaba-Hove said.


"Indeed two previous chairpersons of the Commission - Bishop Peter Hatendi
and Elaine Raftopoulos - resigned in protest citing inadequate financial,
material and human resources."


Gula-Ndebele said violence could affect the outcome of the presidential poll
as there was a culture of intolerance in Zimbabwe.


"The major problem in Zimbabwe is not the management of elections but a
culture of intolerance," he said. "Zimbabweans are very educated but very
intolerant. This is why there is a high incidence of pre-election violence,"
he said.


Gula-Ndebele said he had heard no complaints from the political parties
about no-go areas.


"No political party has approached me to say they are not getting access to
other areas. In fact they have been coming to me on issues other than this
one," he said.

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Zimbabwe Independent

Zanu PF seeks to divert voters with mealie-meal
Blessing Zulu

THE food supply position continues to worsen despite assurances by President
Robert Mugabe that no-one will starve. The ruling party is now using the
available maize-meal for electioneering purposes, it was revealed this week.

Government has commandeered mealie-meal following its failure to import 52
000 tonnes of the commodity from South Africa before this weekend's
election.


State security operatives, who have assumed a key role in the distribution
of maize meal, have diverted the commodity to government storage facilities
while milling companies' distribution logistics are now under strict
control.


Milling company officials yesterday confirmed they had been instructed to
only release mealie-meal on the election days of Saturday and Sunday. This,
observers said, is intended to divert voters in urban areas where the
opposition holds sway from polling stations to grocery shops and
supermarkets.


Officials at Manyame Milling Company in Marondera confirmed the ruling party
had purchased all the mealie-meal they had in stock.


"Some top Zanu PF officials in the province came here and ordered us not to
sell mealie-meal to anyone and we had no choice but to comply for fear that
our business would be disrupted," said one official.


Residents in the town said they were not pleased with the latest
development.


"When we went to collect our mealie-meal supplies at the millers which we
paid for in advance, we were shocked to hear that all the mealie-meal had
been purchased by Zanu PF officials in the town," said Nomore Murwira, a
small trader in the town.


At Harare Central Hospital nurses were on Tuesday pleasantly surprised when
they were told to each collect a bottle of cooking oil from the hospital's
accounts department.


One medical doctor said it was easy to see through Zanu PF's latest tactic.


"Morgan Tsvangirai was coming to visit patients at the hospital and they did
not want the nurses and the general staff to give him an audience," he said.


"That's why they came up with this plan. It did not work though as
Tsvangirai's visit generated a lot of interest," said the doctor.


People waiting for mealie-meal at Montagu Supermarket were told last week
that all supplies had been taken by State House personnel.
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Zimbabwe Independent

Tsvangirai to probe judiciary
Vincent Kahiya

CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku could be suspended if Movement for
Democratic Change candidate Morgan Tsvangirai is elected president this
weekend and decides on a probe into the politicisation of the judiciary.

In an exclusive interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week Tsvangirai
said it was important to restore the integrity of the judiciary.


"The independence of our judiciary must be raised to the highest level," he
said.

"The misunderstandings that may have been created as a result of some
appointments impact on the integrity of the judiciary."


Tsvangirai said there was provision in the constitution for an international
tribunal to probe the judiciary.


"We are not targeting anyone," he said. "But all the same, the judiciary as
an institution needs constant reform."


Since the government first threatened judges early last year over land
redistribution rulings there have been a number of resignations from the
bench including Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay.


The Zanu PF government has been accused of forcing judges it deemed
unhelpful to resign while packing the bench with its sympathisers.
Chidyausiku in particular has been accused of making partisan judgements in
conformity with government's agenda.


Tsvangirai told a breakfast meeting with business executives last month that
in a situation where the bench had become "politically contaminated" there
was provision in the constitution for the president to appoint an
international tribunal and during its period of inquiry the chief justice
would be suspended.


Tsvangirai confirmed in this week's interview that his party had been in
touch with the military after General Vitalis Zvinavashe's statement that
they would not accept a president who did not share their values.


"We are aware of the power institutions in this country and it would be
nave on our part to block avenues of communication with anybody," he said.


It is understood that Zvinavashe has sought to clarify his statement
although Tsvangirai declined to comment on this.


Tsvangirai said the land reform programme was high on the MDC's agenda.

"We have always recognised that there is need for agrarian reform but where
we differ from Zanu PF is on the method," he said.


"There are those who say that we do not support land redistribution but we
have always said we do not want to subject Zimbabweans to perpetual
subsistence," he said. "No known country on earth has progressed by driving
all its citizens into the rural areas," he said recently.


Tsvangirai said an MDC government would set up a land commission to do an
audit on the fast-track exercise and implement a proper agrarian reform
programme which would provide infrastructure in addition to distributing
seven million hectares of land.

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Zimbabwe Independent

Mugabe in last-ditch poll fraud
Dumisani Muleya

FEARS of systematic vote-rigging and chaos in tomorrow's presidential poll
mounted yesterday as the government made last-minute changes to the
electoral regulations, mostly designed to assist President Robert Mugabe's
faltering candidacy.

Lawyers said Mugabe - staring defeat in the face in the hottest presidential
race in Zimbabwean history - was busy erecting more barriers to shore up his
position against what appears to be a tidal surge in support for Movement
for Democratic Change candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai.


Mugabe on Tuesday used his powers under the Electoral Act to legitimise the
deployment of army and police officers in electoral agencies where they have
been active since early last month.


The changes were promulgated to replace sections of the General Laws
Amendment Act nullified by the Supreme Court last week.


Mugabe has authorised the involvement of soldiers, policemen and prison
officers in the electoral process as managers. He has given his Justice
minister powers to assign anyone he chooses to super- vise elections, and to
impose a fine of $100 000 or one year's imprisonment or both on people
voting in constituencies other than their own.


He has also at a stroke disenfranchised thousands of permanent residents
irrespective of court rulings in their favour.


"Mugabe has assumed the role of the judiciary and legislature," said lawyer
Sheila Jarvis.

"He has abused the Electoral Act to make or break laws that have a bearing
on his own candidacy."


Fresh accusations of electoral fraud prompted the MDC yesterday to file an
urgent court application challenging Mugabe's statutory instrument gazetted
on Tuesday.


The president is also seen as capitalising on methodical institutional
disorder to secure re-election. Confusion reigns around the location of
polling stations, the voting format to be followed in Harare and Chitungwiza
where there are tripartite polls, postal votes, logistics and the final
voters' roll which by yesterday authorities were still refusing to release.


MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Mugabe is moving the goal posts to suit
his needs.

"The electoral process has been blatantly and outrageously distorted in
favour of the ruling party," he said yesterday.


International election observers appear exasperated at the cur- rent
situation. On Wednesday Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) officials
were unable to provide answers to questions put to them.


Yesterday, Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede and Election Directorate chair
Mariyawanda Nzuwah also dodged issues raising concern. They refused to
release a breakdown of statistics showing the demographic distribution of
registered voters per constituency. Although there are 5,6 million
registered voters - excluding those on the supplementary voters' roll
expected to be at least 400 000 - full statistical data is still hidden.


As of January, out of the 5,6 million total registered voters, 3,4 million
were urban while 2,2 million were rural. Most of the voters on the
supplementary roll are said to be in Mashonaland Central, a Zanu PF
stronghold. Analysts said the idea of a supplementary roll was the product
of the Zanu government's realisation that there were fewer voters than
thought in the rural areas where Mugabe holds sway, hence the need to close
the gap. The MDC is expected to win in all urban constituencies except
Bindura.


The MDC yesterday said there was a dramatic reduction of voters in 12
constituencies - for instance Mberengwa West lost 14 000 - since June 2000
while some provinces like Bulawayo recorded negligible new voters.


The issue of voter registration is a thorny issue. Initially the exercise
was closed on January 10, then it was moved to January 27, before being
shifted to March 3.


MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said his party had evidence that
between these dates - from January 10 to March 3 - there was illegal voter
registration.


"We sent our members to register in Gokwe and Chimanimani constituencies
masquerading as Zanu PF when the exercise was supposed to be closed," he
said. "They were registered and we have the receipts. Registration is still
going on in Zanu PF areas."

Mudede claims those registering now were doing so for future polls.


The MDC said since the publication of the names of polling agents, 22 of its
officers have been abducted.

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BBC
Friday, 8 March, 2002, 05:12 GMT
Zimbabwe campaign enters last day
Supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai encourage voters
The opposition wants a government of national unity
On the last day of campaigning before Zimbabwe's elections, President Robert Mugabe and his main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, are making final attempts to rally their supporters.

Both men say they are confident of victory in the most fiercely contested election since independence from Britain in 1980.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Zimbabweans to vote, but he demanded that the poll be fair and that the results be respected.

However, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it has not been shown the electoral roll, and there is confusion about the location of polling stations.

President Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai visit their respective strongholds on Friday - the final day of a bitterly fought campaign.

The President is due to tour areas north of the capital, Harare, where he expects to do well.

Warning over protests

Mr Tsvangirai will be visiting Harare's industrial zone, where he first rose to prominence as a trade union leader.

Both men say they are confident of victory; neither seem in any mood to accept defeat.

Mr Mugabe's government said that it would not tolerate protests by the MDC, which it calls a tool of former colonial master Britain.

Morgan Tsvangirai on the election trail
Morgan Tsvangirai has accused the government of state terrorism
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has warned the MDC against "seeking to subvert the people's electoral verdict through riotous demonstrations and other acts of wanton subversion".

Mr Tsvangirai accused the government of using "state terrorism against its own citizens".

The MDC leader said his priority would be to restore law and order, address a food shortage, promote reconciliation and to consider setting up a government of national unity.

At a rally on Wednesday, Mr Mugabe said that he would pursue Mr Tsvangirai after the election on charges that he plotted to assassinate the president.

Campaign marked by violence

A new report by a coalition of human rights groups says 33 people have been killed in political violence in Zimbabwe so far in 2002.

The report says the "youth militia" of the ruling Zanu-PF party is overwhelmingly responsible.

The BBC is banned from Zimbabwe but our correspondent Barnaby Phillips, in Johannesburg, says there are, even at this late stage, serious concerns about how the election will be run.


ZIMBABWE VOICES

We have not made plans to leave. Our whole livelihood is on the farm

Jerry, a white farmer
arrow Read his full testimony
The MDC hopes the Supreme Court will today hear its petition contesting new election rules decreed by President Mugabe.

The MDC fears that these new rules - in which people have to prove that they are resident in the constituency where they are trying to vote - will disqualify tens of thousands of opposition supporters.

A limited number of international observers will be deployed across Zimbabwe to verify whether the poll is free and fair.

Mr Annan said he was concerned about violence following the election.

"I appeal to all parties and individuals to show the utmost restraint, and to pursue their objectives by constitutional means, in accordance with the law," he said.

"In democratic elections there are always losers as well as winners.

"Democracy depends on the losers respecting the outcome, and on the winners respecting the civil and political rights of the losers."

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WOZA

March 8, 2002
UN expert concerned over rights situation in Zimbabwe

from afrol News

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Dato'
Param Cumaraswamy, expressed grave concern today over the latest
developments in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe had defied a Supreme Court order
protesting the controversial and newly introduces electoral legislation.

According to the Special Rapporteur, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is
reported to have defied a Supreme Court order delivered on 27 February
striking down electoral legislation on grounds that it was improperly
enacted by Parliament. The President reinstated by an executive edict
published in the Government Gazette on March 5 the same legislation,
asserting that it was validly enacted and "shall be deemed to have been
lawfully" adopted.

This action is a blatant violation of the United Nations Basic Principles of
the Independence of the Judiciary, which expressly provide that States
should guarantee the independence of the judiciary and that decisions of the
courts should not be subject to revision save by lawfully constituted
appellate courts, Mr. Cumaraswamy said.

The Special Rapporteur added that he has also learnt that Justice Ebrahim,
who presided the Supreme Court which delivered the judgment, has since
resigned. Mr. Cumaraswamy recalled that Justice Ebrahim was the last of
seven Supreme Court judges to step down since the early retirement, under
pressure, of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay in March 2001.

These latest developments, the Special Rapporteur continued, "seen in the
light of previous attacks, harassment and intimidation of the judiciary by
the executive and others, as well as defiance of court orders by the
Government, are indicative that Zimbabwe is no longer a government of laws
but of men who have no regard whatsoever for the independence of the
judiciary and the majesty of the law."

Defiance of court orders in effect is defiance of the rule of law, he said.
"When it is the Government and its agents who defy then governmental
lawlessness becomes the order of the day."

The Special Rapporteur will raise these concerns when he presents his
reports to the fifty-eighth session of the United Nations Commission on
Human Rights on 4 April 2002.

from Misanet/afrol News

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Jerry is a white farmer whose land has been allocated to other people. For the moment his family is staying put, waiting to be served with an eviction order.

As things stand at the moment we are just doing our utmost to keep the wheels turning.

We have an obligation to keep our business going and our employees employed under what could be described as very difficult circumstances.

We are expecting to be served with the recent legal sections of compulsory acquisition at any minute. We are living under the threat of the 90-day eviction.

Our farm has been "donated" to three beneficiaries - not poverty-stricken landless peasants, but three well-to-do people in high places.

They have actually introduced and identified themselves and have come to check out the place. They swan about the farm and sometimes talk to the workers. The area that they have been given amounts to the whole farm.

We asked where we stand in the equation and the question could not be answered. So at the moment it seems we face eviction.

Our priority at the moment is the safety of our immediate family and ourselves and that of our workers. We are three top management families and 100 families are workers.

Workers caught in the middle

The workers are under extreme pressure. They face harassment and intimidation and are forced to attend re-education rallies at night and also during working time.

Their position is extremely precarious - this is putting extreme pressure on them and their families.

We have received implied and direct threats. If you don't toe the line and accede to demands the threats are there. And as we know they are quite capable of carrying them out.

When the three men came to see the farm I felt totally empty at first. Then just a feeling that this cannot happen.

If they want to purchase my farm under a totally transparent legal and proper fashion then so be it. But not in this fashion.

We have relied on the strength of our convictions that this is just not going to happen.

Unknown future

We have not made plans to leave. Our whole livelihood is on the farm. We have put everything in it for 35 years.

I have a son working with me on the farm and he wishes to make his future there and we will do our best to support him. So we have no intention of going anywhere - we would not be able to afford it anyway.

And meanwhile we're trying to formulate our farming policy under these circumstances - it's hard to keep going.

It is especially difficult at this time of year when we should be planning for the winter crop, the winter wheat. But no plans can be made for that at all and it is of vital importance.

We have no guarantees that there will be no interference.

The economic downturn also means that fertilisers and chemicals are just simply not available. There is also a shortage of fuel.

With our summer crops it has been a stop-start situation because of the invasion threat. We have a crop of sorts in the ground, but it is far from being a complete crop.

I'm nervous, but we just carry on day-to-day as best we can just hoping that some sense of normality is not too far away.

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Christian Science Monitor

Mugabe's slow fall from grace

Tomorrow, Zimbabwean voters make up their minds on the man once heralded as
Africa's paragon of progress.

By Danna Harman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Robert Mugabe was once praised by Nelson Mandela and
Western leaders as a democratic exemplar.
The former high school teacher - with degrees in economics, history,
education, and law - was known as the "thinking man's guerrilla," leading
his people to freedom from British rule, and nationhood in 1980.

But as Zimbabweans head to the polls in a hotly contested presidential
election this weekend, President Mugabe is now seen by many as a dictator in
decline - deserted by old allies, denounced by former admirers.

In some ways, Mugabe's trajectory is a familiar parable in post-colonial
Africa. Twenty-two years of power without any opposition can corrupt a man,
says Joseph Ayee, a political scientist at the University of Ghana. "This is
repeated time and again - when African leaders get to office they soon
forget why they went there."

One of the reasons for this phenomenon, says Professor Ayee, is that "our
leaders are not recruited out of civil society. They come from the military,
where they are trained in the cult of personality," he says. They are not
taught to think about the will of the people, Ayee contends. "The military
does not teach you that."

But others close to Mugabe say that's only part of the story. They say after
the death of his first wife, he changed. And yet others say the world beyond
Zimbabwe never saw Mugabe accurately.

In the early 1960s, Mugabe left his job as a high school teacher to join the
struggle against Ian Smith and the white-minority rule in then-Rhodesia. He
was promptly imprisoned for 10 years.

Freed in 1975, he continued the fight from nearby Mozambique, becoming a
leader of the bloody campaign against Mr. Smith. Under a peace settlement
which allowed for elections that included the black majority, Mugabe was
overwhelmingly elected the country's first prime minister.

Initially, he preached racial reconciliation and invited the white
commercial farmers who formed the backbone of the economy to stay. He also
impressed in other ways - battling illiteracy, disease, and poverty -
gaining international praise and recognition. At independence in 1980, fewer
than 50 percent of Zimbabweans could read and write. Today, Zimbabwe is one
of Africa's most educated populations with a literacy rate topping 85
percent.

But Zimbawe - and Mugabe - took a turn for the worse, say analysts, in the
late 1990s. Economic growth slumped, aid slowed, graft and patronage became
the order of the day. The military entered into an expensive war in Congo.

After top party officials looted a fund intended to compensate veterans of
the liberation war, Mugabe pacified the vets with promises of land -
encouraging them to seize it from white commercial farmers, often violently,
without compensation.

Today, the economy is in ruins, food is in short supply, educated
professionals are fleeing, and the international community is threatening
sanctions.

Personal reasons explain Mugabe's recent behavior, says Robert Rotberg of
Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Rotberg says the
death of Mugabe's first wife, Sally, had a profound effect on him. A strong,
intellectual woman, she stood by his side throughout his years of struggle.
"She was a break on him, his super-ego," says Rotberg. "No one else could
tell him - no, don't be stupid."

After Sally died nine years ago, Mugabe got remarried to his secretary, 40
years his junior. "I don't want to pin it all on his second wife. But
everyone, including those close to Mugabe, claim she changed his character,"
says Rotberg. His only child with Sally died while he was in prison. He's
had three more children with Grace. "His priorities have changed. He has a
family now. He is establishing a dynasty."

But the most common explanation for Mugabe's "transformation" has to do with
perceptions. "I knew he was a fraud," says Wilfred Mhanda, the former No. 2
commander in the liberation resistance army. "He was always power- hungry,
always selfish." Mugabe is not a racist, insists Mr. Mhanda, "but he is an
opportunist, and turning on the whites is the only opportune thing he can
think of now."

"The ideals we fought for - democracy and human rights, everything that we
were denied by Ian Smith and the whites - were betrayed by Mugabe," Mhanda
says. Mugabe's shiny image, argues Mhanda, was a creation of a West blinded
by its desire to point to an African success story. "They overlooked all his
faults and all the menacing signs," he says.

"We got independence at the peak of apartheid," notes Brian Kagoro, director
of Crisis in Zimbabwe, a civic-society umbrella organization here. "The rest
of the world found stability here at that time, sighed in relief, and just
said, 'Oh, democracy is working'. In fact it was not. It was always an
autocratic state."

Today Mugabe seems to be trying to reinvigorate his flagging popularity by
reminding voters of his role as a liberation fighter and hammering on the
antiwhite, anticolonial themes of that struggle. And there is resentment
among the black population over the fact that, until two years ago, about
4,000 whites owned half the best farmland in the country.

But many of the opposition supporters are young men and women who know
little about the history and themes of the war - but who have benefited from
the freedom and education that war brought.

"In a way, Mugabe dug his own grave," says Zimbabwean political scientist
Masiphula Sithole. "By giving his people education, he gave them the tools
to understand that it is corruption and mismanagement which is dragging the
country down - not any other nonsense."


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Business Day

MDC challenges Mugabe decree

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Zimbabwean authorities refuse to release key voting details, fuelling fear
of polling chaos
ON THE eve of Zimbabwe's closely contested presidential election,
authorities were still refusing to release key voting details, fuelling fear
of a chaotic polling that could worsen political violence.

At the same time, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
launched an 11th-hour court challenge to a last-minute decree by President
Robert Mugabe widely seen as designed to shore up his electoral prospects.

"We have filed (the papers)," the MDC's Learnmore Jongwe said yesterday. He
hoped the case would be heard today. "We have not been promised a date yet,
but any hearing after (today) will be futile and the judgment will serve no
purpose."

The decree, which came into effect two days ago after last week's court
ruling nullified them, requires potential voters to prove they are residents
of a constituency in which they will be casting their ballots, a measure
more likely to affect urban dwellers, who tend to support the MDC.

Many people in cities are not home owners and will be unable to prove their
residency, say civic and rights bodies. In rural areas, voters can get
traditional leaders to vouch for them.

The modifications allowed soldiers, police and prison workers to be involved
in the electoral process as managers. Mugabe has given his justice minister
the power to appoint people to supervise elections. He also made provision
for a fine of Z100000 or one year imprisonment or both instead of the legal
Z1000 for those voting in the wrong constituency.

He also disenfranchised about 5000 voters perceived to have dual
citizenship.

Yesterday, registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede and Election Directorate
chairman Mariyawanda Nzuwah sidestepped the issues of the voters' roll which
the opposition alleges is in a shambles and contains the names of dead
people.

They refused to release a breakdown of statistics showing the demographic
distribution of registered voters per constituency.

If it is not released today, then voters will see the roll for the first
time on the first day of voting tomorrow.

International election observers are exasperated by the situation, but
Commonwealth, Southern African Development Community and SA observers
refused to comment yesterday on the latest imbroglio.

Voter registration is a big problem. Initially registration closed on
January 10, then it was extended to January 27, before being shifted to
March 3.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, whose party accuses Harare of "state
terrorism", said the MDC had evidence that there was illegal voter
registration beyond the cut-off date. However, Mudede said those registering
now were doing so for future polls.

The unfolding situation raised fear last night that chaos in the polling
could increase political violence.

Apart from barring certain European countries from observing the elections,
Harare has also refused to accredit some foreign journalists from covering
the poll. This week Information Minister Jonathan Moyo attacked the SA
Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which has been accredited, for distorting
its reports.

Mugabe, who was campaigning around the country, has warned that he will
pursue Tsvangirai, over claims that he plotted to assassinate the president,
once the voting is over. In contrast, Tsvangirai has promised not to harass
Mugabe if he defeats him.


Friday
08 March 2002


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A tale of the teaboy and the typist

MUCKRAKER was intrigued to see the Libyan ambassador sharing a platform with President Mugabe at his Glen Norah rally on Sunday.

It was understandable that the president should wish to have his latest sponsors with him. But how it fits with his slogan that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again is difficult to see. The Libyans have snapped up farms around Chinhoyi and are eyeing government stakes in a number of financial institutions slated for divestment. They are, together with Zanu PF, the latest colonial predators.

Which perhaps explains the banner inadvertently shown in Monday's Herald: "Zimbabwe will be a colony". It was held up prominently behind the Libyan delegation which laughably contained election observers. When did Libya last have an election? If it does have a general election we can be sure which general will be elected!

Also on the platform was Solomon Tawengwa, Zanu PF's advertisement for clean government.

As for Grace waving her manicured fist around and proclaiming "Down with the teaboy", we are running a competition to see how long she keeps her husband's image close to her breast. You can be sure she is dying to get out of the Women's League Java-print outfit that does such an injustice to her figure, and back into one of those Paris gowns currently exiled to the State House wardrobe.

And why is an ex-secretary, whose rapid rise to first lady had nothing to do with her typing skills, being so abusive about people who serve tea?

Also decked out in a Women's League outfit last weekend was George Charamba whose enthusiasm for his boss apparently knows no bounds. On Sunday he appeared in the Sunday Mail wearing the official party blouse bearing Mugabe's bespectacled image at a State House reception for Commonwealth observer team leader General Abubakar. We couldn't see if it was a one-piece outfit or whether he had another one wrapped around his waist. But, like Grace, he is clearly prepared to make any fashion sacrifice required of him at this testing time.

Did Abubakar, who evidently knows a thing or two about the abuse of public funds, remark on this example of a senior public official wearing party regalia?

A few weeks ago Muckraker heaped scorn on Charamba's claims that he would "net" Guardian correspondent Chris McGreal who was in the country without accreditation. He was part of a posse of Johannesburg-based journalists who the government wanted to evict.

In the event McGreal "escaped" to Zambia and from there returned to South Africa. Now he is back again filing stories for the Guardian, having climbed through the rather large holes in Charamba's net. What explains this official bungling?

Very simply, McGreal's stories, reproduced in the Herald, are grist to President Mugabe's campaign-mill. Among other things, he has exposed US funding for SW Radio in London and turned a critical spotlight on Morgan Tsvangirai's judgement in the videotapes case. The Herald was happy to use his interview with Tsvangirai last Friday under the heading "How could I suspect our own lobby group was taping us?"

So long as he serves Mugabe's cause, McGreal will be welcome to stay, even if it does mean rather curious Herald bylines such as "By Chris McGreal who has been denied accreditation to cover the presidential election".

The Guardian has over the past two years swallowed hook, line and sinker the official government line that whites own 70% of the land in Zimbabwe. Editors in London were continuing to drop this dubious statistic into stories as late as September last year when vast swathes of commercial farmland had already been seized, as documented by the newspaper's correspondent in Harare.

McGreal's interview with Tsvangirai reflects this editorial bias.

"President Mugabe is right about one thing, at least in the short-term," McGreal wrote. "Mr Tsvangirai does plan to give white-owned farms back to their recent owners to get food production back on track.

"Eventually, the MDC would create a land commission to oversee the resettlement of landless people..."

The word "eventually" is designed to indicate a certain dilatoriness on the MDC's part. And clearly, restoring land to its white owners, even if it did enable the nation to avert starvation, would be seen by Guardian readers as a bad thing!

Nowhere does McGreal refer to Tsvangirai's public commitment to immediately initiate an audit into land occupation and ownership.

He pointed out that although the government retained ownership of the land people have been resettled on, Tsvangirai might find it hard to persuade someone who has staked out a precious plot on a former white-owned farm to give it up.

McGreal is a shrewd observer of the Zimbabwean scene. But he cannot be completely unaware that thousands of resettled farmers are abandoning their plots as lack of seed, fertiliser and other inputs, not to mention a devastating drought, make their impact felt. And food shortages are hardly "fuelling the demand for land", as he suggests. They are more likely pointing to the need for effective land management.

Despite these structural difficulties that plague the Guardian's coverage of the MDC, which includes a reluctance to apply the same scepticism to the Montreal videotape that it applied to Tsvangirai, it should be said that McGreal did at least allow the MDC leader to answer claims that the MDC's economic strategy of privatisation and foreign investment had won him friends in the West and among Zimbabwe's tiny white population - another black mark for many Guardian readers.

"Eighty-five percent of Zimbabweans do not attribute our problems to the whites," Tsvangirai firmly replied. "They attribute them to poor governance."

McGreal appears not to have picked that up. We assume the reference to "Cde Mugabe" in his story was a Herald editorial intervention and not Cde McGreal's!

Another foreign correspondent who enjoys official approval is veteran CNN reporter Charlene Hunter-Gault. Last week she celebrated her birthday while on a visit to Harare that had the full blessing of the Department of Information and Publicity. This followed an interview she did with Jonathan Moyo a few weeks ago in which the minister was given free rein to tackle US founding father Thomas Jefferson's contention about the role of the press and government.

In fact it was a classic case of giving a man enough rope. But that's not how Moyo saw it. He was very pleased to have made a fool of himself in front of an international audience. As a result CNN now finds ministerial doors wide open.

Just to underline the esteem in which Hunter-Gault is held by Zimbabwean officialdom Muckraker gathers she received a lovely bouquet of red roses from no less a figure than John Nkomo. We are not sure what she had done to win his heart. But let's hope becoming Zanu PF's latest pin-up girl (after Viola Plummer) doesn't blunt her customary cutting edge.

Muckraker's comments about inveterate letter-writer to the Herald, Cde WT Kanyongo, have finally smoked him out. He is indeed a resident of the United States and not the President's Office, he replied in - guess what? - a letter to the Herald. He then proceeded to repeat all the racist and facile remarks about the MDC which guarantee him pride of place in the Herald. He is evidently not attending an educational institution over there!

What he didn't say was why he chooses to live and work in the United States rather than in Zimbabwe. After all, he appears to be a devoted admirer of our president and the scorched-earth policies he is pursuing. Why then does he dodge the impact of those policies by seeking refuge abroad? Surely he should be at home at a time like this experiencing with the rest of his countrymen the benefits of the third chimurenga!

There was an amusing quote in last weekend's Sunday Mail by one of the many mysterious "correspondents" popping up in the state media who for some reason or other don't want their identities disclosed. Citing almost certainly non-existent sources at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, the correspondent claimed British officials were pointing out "contradictions" in the MDC's land policies and Tsvangirai's call for sanctions "against his fellow Zimbabweans".

The correspondent didn't say why the British would contradict the positions other sections of our state media claim they have adopt-ed in regard to land and sanctions! But he went on to claim that the British "admit" that while Zanu PF may have "in-house spats", it is "largely unified and contains most of the country's intelligent politicians".

These presumably include Simon Muzenda, Joseph Msika, Didymus Mutasa and Joseph Made. The one intelligent politician they do have, down in Masvingo, doesn't seem to be "unified" with the rest.

Have you noticed the way Zanu PF newspaper ads are being constantly revised to take account of glaring mistakes? You may recall the picture of Tsvangirai accepting a cheque from white farmers in "April 2002". Then last week we had "Another example of irrational destruction of maize for political purposes". It cited a report in the Herald of February 14 claiming "a commercial farmer in Mhangura allegedly torched about 60 tonnes of maize and left the rest to rot in a shocking act of sabotage".

In fact this "shocking act of sabotage" was a shocking lie endorsed by the police and Made until it was discovered that the burnt maize shown on ZTV and subsequently in the Herald was that gleaned from the land following the burning of the stover to make way for the early planted tobacco crop. Made was apparently ignorant of this common practice in commercial agriculture. So were the police.

"For the minister to infer that any farmer would destroy 60 tonnes of maize worth $90 million to spite the government is highly irresponsible," the CFU commented.

It is more than irresponsible. It is defamatory.

But Zanu PF proceeded with the advert anyway, repeating a publicly-refuted lie. But the legal con- sequences must have dawned on the party at some point. By Saturday the caption had been reduced to "Another example of irrational destruction of maize for political purposes" with no reference to when or where!

And we liked the Herald heading about "Why UK lost the Battle of Brisbane" by yet another "special correspondent". We are still trying to work out the reference to Brisbane where the Commonwealth Summit had been scheduled to take place until it was moved to Coolum.

Perhaps the Herald's special correspondent was stuck in Brisbane while everybody else was in Coolum, 100km away. It's always good for a paper to have a man "on the spot". But it should be the right spot!

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Promises, promises and yet more promises


IT is virtually common cause between government, its opposition, and most of the public at large, that the Zimbabwean economy is extraordinarily distressed and in critically urgent need of relief and reconstruction. Although those in authority do not like having to admit that all is not well, and although they are remarkably adept at disassociating themselves from the causes of the economic ills and at identifying third parties upon whom blame can be cast and responsibility attributed (albeit usually without foundation), they nevertheless have little option but to acknowledge the sorry state of the economy and the hardships that result therefrom.

However, a "quick fix" solution has suddenly become apparent. Until now, the predominant view has been that the extent to which the economy has been allowed to decline was of such a magnitude that any recovery would inevitably require a prolonged period of vigorous actions necessary to reverse all the diverse factors that had occasioned the decline. But it now becomes possible to recognise a strategy whereby economic growth can be rapidly achieved, development accelerated and wellbeing restored.

All that is necessary is that the Electoral Act and the constitution be amended. Government has evidenced itself as adept at the former, and undoubtedly Presidential or Emergency Powers could be used or abused to amend the latter. The amendment is one most simple, being only to provide that either parliamentary or presidential elections should be held in every six-month period, instead of parliamentarians being subject to election only once in five years, and elections for the presidency being only every six years.

Half-yearly elections would have a radically dramatic, positive impact upon the economy, although cynics and sceptics will not agree, and all others must receive such a proposal with great disbelief, for how on earth could recurrent elections and all concomitant disruptions be an economic elixir?

The answer is simple. History shows that in Zimbabwe elections are characterised by innumerable promises by government to embark upon constructive actions which will transform Zimbabwe into an economic paradise, and with an almost equally great number of deliveries of economic needs which are hardly ever forthcoming at other times.

That history also shows that fulfilment of the electoral promises rarely occurs during the extended intervals between elections, which periods are spent almost exclusively in enhancing the wellbeing of those in power, and of profligate spending of state resources. So, if elections are in very close proximity to each other, the periods of profligacy are contained, the number of promises increased and those making them more readily held accountable for non-performance, and the constructive acts would exponentially burgeon forth.

Examples and evidence that this would be so are considerable. In 1996, as a precursor to the then presidential election, assurances were given to Matabeleland in general, and Bulawayo in particular, that government was very aware of, and most concerned at, the recurrent water shortages that afflicted the populace and, therefore, the state would determinedly pursue the project of harnessing water by the construction of the Gwayi/Shangani Dam and the subsequent accessing of Zambezi water.

However, that did not materialise, and remained a mirage, until the parliamentary election of June 2000. Once again the election campaign included promises of dynamic progression of the project, but after the election ended, nothing happened. Then, in September 2001, there was a hotly contested campaign for the election of an executive mayor and seven councillors for the city of Bulawayo. The president, his Minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth, and Matabeleland-based stalwarts of the ruling party, waxed lyrical as to the imminent commencement of the project which had been hankered after by the water-starved region since 1912. It would now, very shortly, become a reality.

But within weeks after the election, all activity on the project ceased, and only a little over a month ago enquiries as to progress elicited responses that work on the project would proceed as soon as required funding had been sourced. However, a week ago, at a final "star" rally in Bulawayo for the forthcoming election, assurances were again given that resumption of work on the project was most imminent! If the next election was only six months away, surely these assurances would become fact!

Another characteristic of the election campaigns has invariably been high profile commissioning of long overdue electrification, dam and irrigation projects, and the like, and the distribution of vast largesse of economically stimulatory assets such as sewing machines, water pumps, and so forth, together with considerable gifts of cash to fund projects which will accord the recipients sustenance and self-sufficiency.

Hand in hand with such outstanding economic generosity has been a vast array, (in each and every election campaign, and the current one being no exception), of promises to promote economic indigenisation and to facilitate the development of micro-, small-scale and medium-sized enterprises, creating economic empowerment for the masses. The fact that those promises had been made before, and not fulfilled, was blithely disregarded by the "promisors", whilst the "promisees", desperate to be uplifted from their economic lows, readily and recurrently allowed hope to fuel their expectations, motivating them to believe the promises.

Perhaps, if there were to be six-monthly elections, such delusion would not so readily occur, and those making the promises would have little alternative but to "deliver". Perhaps then the promises of housing, telecommunications, health delivery systems, and most of all, of the infrastructures, policies and actions necessary for a virile economy would cease to be devoid of substance, but would materialise and that economy would come into being.

Perhaps then too the Public Service, the armed forces, the chiefs and headmen, and those others who need to look to the state for their remuneration, would find that the substance and frequency of increments would be performance and economically related, instead of only being forthcoming whenever elections draw near, or extreme pressures applied.

And perhaps then too the economy would be pursued in such a manner as would provide all with a regular access to food and all else that they need, instead of many being reliant upon inadequate goodwill handouts only at election time, accompanied by promises of further supplies. In the alternative, if that is not forthcoming, at least the handouts would be every six months, instead of every five to six years!

The election campaign has demonstrated that government is very cognisant of the massive poverty which prevails in Zimbabwe, with more than 80% struggling to survive in a state of extreme destitution. It has evidenced that government is aware of the country's critical economic needs. But it has also shown that yet again government is not prepared to admit its culpability for the tragic state of the economy, and perseveres in its never-ending allegations that all fault attaches to others, including Tony Blair, Australia, the European Union, whites, commercial farmers, capitalists, the clergy, and many, many others.

Only the president, his cabinet and the ruling party are blameless! If the elections were every six months, government would be more fearful of being held accountable, and may then do that which is right.

On second thoughts, despite the economic merits that could flow from half-yearly elections, the concept is not a good one, for who could survive the endless rhetoric, the distortions of the media (and especially those who blatantly are not independent, but determindly support their masters), the suspension of economic decision-making, and the economic "wait and see" stance of commerce, industry, financiers, investors and the international monetary community, that accompany the run-up to each election? Perhaps the better option would be a government which uses its term in office to do that which it promises whilst aspiring for that office. Then too the economic recovery will come into being, as effectively as if the elections were held every six months.

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