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

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Sent: Saturday, April 09, 2005 4:58 PM
Subject: Been there, done that

Dear Family and Friends,
Feelings of despair and disbelief persist a week after Zimbabwe's
elections. I still have a faint pink stain on the sides and under the nail
of the little finger of my left hand. This is a remnant of the ink which
was used to mark me as having voted and when I look at the stain now, I
can hardly believe how quickly elation and hope were replaced with anger
and betrayal as the results were announced. Every day since the elections
the state have crowed about peace, democracy and political maturity but
they have said nothing about 3 million Zimbabweans living outside the
country who were not allowed to vote or a tenth of the voters inside the
country who were turned away when they got to polling stations on the 31st
March. Every news bulletin begins with a countdown of how many days are
left before the 25th anniversary of independence and democracy in the
country but then the reports that follow do not tell of the 257 unarmed
women of WOZA who were arrested for praying nor why such an act was
indicative of, in their words, "a mature democracy".

In the week that followed the election result, the huge sense of
disappointment has been almost too much to bear. The MDC took many days to
find their voices and when they did it was to say they had evidence
showing massive electoral fraud and figures which displayed huge numerical
discrepancies in more than 30 constituencies. The government of course
dispute the claims and the bulk of the South African observers had already
made their claims of peace and freedom and so nothing has changed, we have
heard all this before, been there, done that and got the T shirt. None of
this gives ordinary Zimbabweans hope. Neither the outrage of the MDC nor
the arrogant crowing of Zanu PF has done a thing to actually help ordinary
Zimbabweans this week. It hasn't put medicines back in hospitals, kids
back in schools, food on our tables or clothes on our backs. In the last
seven days since the elections the prices of basic goods have increased by
between 50 and 100%. Margarine, sugar and cooking oil have disappeared
from the shelves and petrol queues have started again.

Across the country many thousands of people made so many sacrifices this
last fortnight, giving so much and showing such courage as they worked for
democracy and now the feeling of betrayal is palpable. Along with millions
of others, I watched the funeral of Pope John Paul the second this week
and his life long call to oppressed people to not be afraid is most apt
for Zimbabweans struggling to see hope and light this week.  Love cathy.
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Retailers Reverse Price Hikes, Basic Goods Disappear From Shops

The Herald (Harare)

April 9, 2005
Posted to the web April 9, 2005


RETAILERS and manufacturers have heeded Government's directive to reverse
unilateral price increases effected in the past few weeks as it also emerged
that most basic commodities had disappeared from supermarket shelves.

The Ministry of Industry and International Trade this week ordered retailers
to revert to old prices, saying the latest round of price increases was not

The cost of margarine and soft drinks, which had significantly risen, has
since been slashed to pre-March 31 levels.

Prices of cooking oil, sugar and maize-meal have also come down, but the
commodities are in short supply.

However, the price of beef has remained high, with a kilogramme of topside
beef selling at $64 000, up from the previous $40 000 a kg.

Prices of other basic commodities such as laundry soap, milk, bread and salt
have remained stable although there were fears that they might go up.

Retailers attributed the illegal hikes to an upward price adjustment by
manufacturers who were reportedly grappling to cope with rising production

The downward revision of prices has seen a reduction in supply by
manufacturers, hence the obtaining shortage of basic commodities.

Economists have since warned that price increases are inflationary and could
derail Zimbabwe's efforts to tame inflation.

Gains achieved in the war against inflation could be eroded owing to the
illegal and unjustified price increases.

Price stability is central to the maintenance of inflation at low levels.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has repeatedly urged retailers to wear a
human face and avoid unjustified price increases.

The increase in prices by retailers flies in the face of the RBZ and
national efforts to tame inflation.

Deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade Cde Kenneth Manyonda
said the Government was investigating the "unwarranted" increases.

He said price monitors would descend on all retailers unilaterally
increasing prices of basic commodities.

The shortages of maize-meal currently being experienced, the ministry said,
was a result of temporary logistical problems of transporting grain from the
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to millers and the situation was now under

The ministry is engaging GMB, millers and principal suppliers of milk to
establish reasons behind the latest shortage of basic commodities.

Delta Beverages, which last week doubled the price of soft drinks, said it
had since reversed the increases.

"In compliance with the recent ministerial directive that the price
increases of carbonated soft drinks be reversed, we hereby advise that the
recommended retail prices will apply with effect from Monday 11 April 2005,"
said Delta in a statement.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Petroleum companies hike fuel prices

Shame Makoshori
issue date :2005-Apr-09

PETROLEUM companies have hiked fuel prices in Harare amid reports that
reserves have dwindled due to panic buying by motorists in response to
indications that imminent shortages are looming.
Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMZ) president Gordon Musarira
this week expressed ignorance of the shortages despite the re-emergence of
winding queues in the few outlets that had supplies.
However, a survey carried out by The Business Mirror in the city centre on
Thursday showed that most fuel outlets had run out of petrol with only two
of them selling diesel.
Motorists swum the Fourth Street Engen service station, the only outlet that
had both petrol and diesel where at least  half a kilometre long queue
formed stretching from Fourth Street into Robert Mugabe.
Out of 10 other service stations visited, officials said fuel supplies had
suddenly disappeared in the past week and were in a quandary as to when
supplies would resume.
Managers at most outlets said they suspected that suppliers were holding on
to stocks in anticipation of price adjustments, pointing out that the nation
could be bracing for a fresh round of astronomical hikes.
While most outlets displayed prices ranging between $3 600 and $4 500 per
litre, petrol was not available and motorists said outlets out of the city
centre had sufficient stocks but had defied government orders to revert to
normal prices.
They said petrol prices had shot up to $4 600 in some service stations.
On Tuesday, Industry and International Trade minister Samuel Mumbengegwi
declared that companies would not be allowed to unilaterally hike prices.
The prices suddenly shot up in the post election period.
"They just increased the prices from nowhere and this is not the procedure
as we have to sit down and discuss first," the minister quipped, ordering
that prices had to revert to the old rates.
Energy and Power Development permanent secretary, Justin Mupamhanga said
fuel reserves were sufficient, urging motorists not to panic.
"There are no shortages, companies want to raise prices and as soon as the
prices go up, both petrol and diesel would be abundant," one manager said.
The petroleum sector was recently deregulated as government sought to divert
the burden of procurement from state sponsored monopoly National Oil Company
of Zimbabwe (Noczim) by giving room to independent players' participation in
petroleum products' importation.
The decision was expected to avert perennial supply bottlenecks that have
hit the country since 1999.
However, the deregulation, which has failed to end the fuel woes, has also
led to regular upward adjustments of the price  of petroleum products, whose
effects have unleashed a spate of hikes in transport fares and basic
commodity prices.
"Random adjustment of fuel prices does not benefit anyone but only worsens
the plight of consumers and the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) would
like to call for strict monitoring of this sector to ascertain the
justification of any increases," the CCZ said yesterday.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) vice president David Govere
warned that while higher price adjustment were not healthy, the inflationary
environment called for constant reviews.
Zimbabwe requires at least US$45,1 million per month for fuel requirements
alone but the central bank, entangled in a vicious circle where allocations
to other critical sectors have to be considered, is only able to avail
about US$35 million per month.
While there were reports of fuel trickles on Thursday evening, desperate
motorists continued hunting for the precious liquid ahead of the weekend.
Already, the shortages have triggered price increases with commuter
operaters hiking fares. In some parts of Harare fares have risen to as high
as $5000 per trip.
The ripple effects of the illegal hikes are also expected to see production
levels in industry going up and would also precipitate price increases in
goods and services.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Wildlife authorities dismiss poaching allegations

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Apr-09

MORE than 180 elephants were slaughtered last year for drought relief
purposes contrary to sensational British press reports that poaching was
rife in Zimbabwe's game parks, the department of Parks and Wildlife
Management Authority said yesterday.
Parks director-general Morris Mtsambiwa said the culling of the jumbos was a
normal philanthropic gesture for rural communities in times of need.
He said the carcasses paled into insignificance compared to the national
tuskers population estimated at about 100 000.
"The approved quota for drought relief in 2004 was 186 elephants for nine
rural districts countrywide. This off take from an estimated national herd
of about 100 00 is insignificant," said Mtsambiwa.
He made the remarks denying allegations of mass elephant killings in the
vast Hwange National Park by the UK-based The Daily Telegraph.
The story headlined: "Tourists flee park elephant slaughter," alleged that
some US and Australian tourists fled the game sanctuary in Matabeleland
North after witnessing "wholesale slaughter" of jumbos in an operation
code-named "Operation Nyama (meat)" believed to be a ploy aimed at
concealing rampant game poaching in the area.
Mtsambiwa said the facility has been availed to communities for years during
culling exercises, as well as cropping quotas and direct assistance.
In a related incident, the Zimbabwe Association of Tour Operators has
dismissed allegations of poaching in the Hwange National Park saying
investigations had yielded no supporting evidence.
An operator acknowledged their awareness of a "ration quota set aside to
provide meat to national parks employees."
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  Yahoo News

      Saturday April 9, 11:56 AM

      Mugabe tells Charles "you're welcome"-paper

      HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has told Prince
Charles he is welcome to visit the southern African nation, which has
strained relations with its former colonial power, state media has reported.

      Prince Charles, attending the Pope's funeral, shook hands on Friday
with Mugabe -- a leader so shunned by the European Union that it has banned
him from the region.

      "Comrade Mugabe told him he was welcome to return to Zimbabwe," the
official Herald newspaper said on Saturday.

      The handshake triggered embarrassment in Britain, prompting the royal
household to issue a statement saying the prince was caught by surprise and
was not in a position to avoid shaking Mugabe's hand.

      The Herald said Mugabe had a chat with the heir to the British throne
recalling his visit in 1980, when he represented the Queen at Zimbabwe's
independence celebrations.

      The newspaper also said Prime Minister Tony Blair left his designated
seat next to Mugabe at the funeral.

      The Herald quoted unnamed sources who said Blair, his wife Cherie and
British opposition leader Michael Howard all left their seats when they saw
Mugabe coming to take a seat next to Blair.

      "Blair is said to have fled his seat, saying saying he could not sit
next to President Mugabe," the paper reported in its main front page story.

      Mugabe and Blair have had frosty relations for years, with the African
leader accusing Blair of backing the opposition party in Zimbabwe. Mugabe
has described the country's main opposition party as the British Prime
Minister's "puppet".

      Blair's office had no comment on the report.

      The EU imposed travel sanctions on Zimbabwean government officials
after accusations of vote rigging in Zimbabwe's parliamentary polls in 2000
and in Mugabe's re-election two years later.

      Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, defied the ban to attend the funeral at the
Vatican, which is not part of the EU.

      The handshake with Mugabe was the latest mishap to befall Prince
Charles on the eve of his wedding.

      He had been due to marry his lifelong love Camilla Parker Bowles on
Friday, but postponed the wedding to Saturday so he could attend the funeral
of Pope John Paul II.

      Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was called to task last year for
inadvertently shaking Mugabe's hand at the United Nations.
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Khaleej Times

  Zimbabwean court releases 18 opposition youths on bail

  9 April 2005

  HARARE - A Zimbabwean court has released 18 youths arrested after mass
protests in the capital urging Zimbabweans to reject the outcome of
elections won by President Robert Mugabe's party, their lawyer said on

  "The youths were charged with contravening the Public Order and Security
Act," lawyer Alec Muchadehama told AFP.

  "They were released yesterday evening after the magistrate's court granted
them bail."

  Police detained the youths separately from Monday to Thursday.

  Muchadehama said the magistrate's court in Harare ordered the 18 youths to
pay 300,000 zimdollars (48.3 dollars) each and report twice to Harare's main
police station.

  An opposition lawmaker and youth leader remained detained at a police
station on the outskirts of Harare and was due to appear in court Friday.

  Nelson Chamisa, a member of parliament for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), has been accused of inciting the protests.

  Police went on high alert this after scores of youths took to the streets
of Harare alleging "massive fraud" in last week's parliamenary elections.

  The police said groups of MDC supporters stoned shops and assaulted
passers-by on Monday in a protest at the results from the elections their
party said were rigged.

  The youths were distributing flyers saying "the MDC has rejected the
election results and urges its members, supporters and all Zimbabweans to
pressurise the regime into reversing this electoral fraud, the police said.

  The MDC denied links to the demonstrations saying the youths could be
"concerned Zimbabweans sympathising with the MDC or ZANU-PF thugs wearing
MDC t-shirts to tarnish the image of our party."

  Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) won
78 of the 120 contested seats in the March 31 elections against 41 seats for
the MDC, which dismissed the polls as "massive fraud."

  Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai cited among other irregularities the
administration of the elections by a body it said was partisan, the use of
food by the ruling party to win over voters and inflated voter figures.

  He said his party would consult its members on the course to take
following the "flawed" elections endorsed as free and fair by observer
missions from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and
the African Union.

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Justify Increase in Rates - Residents

The Herald (Harare)

April 9, 2005
Posted to the web April 9, 2005


RESIDENTS of Harare and satellite towns have urged the commission running
the affairs of Harare City Council to justify its rates, tariffs and
supplementary charge increases by improving its service delivery.

The commission adopted the budget without objections for implementation on

Service delivery in Harare has gone down in recent years owing to
unrealistic charges most of which were below cost recovery levels.

The MDC council, which came into power in 2002, was also blamed for poor
service delivery. The council was dismissed on the grounds of incompetence
while some of its councillors resigned in protest.

The financial situation in council is so bad that authorities have staggered
payment of March salaries because of cash flow problems while in most
residential areas, water supplies are intermittent and refuse is not

This has all been attributed to inadequate finances and failure to implement
quarterly increases last year.

In separate interviews, residents expressed mixed reactions to the budget
that will take effect at the beginning of next month.

Mr Mike Banda, who represents informal traders in Harare, said lodgers would
be the most affected, as landlords will pass on the cost to them.

"We are going to have an outcry from lodgers," he said.

However, he said the increases for this year were understandable taking into
consideration the consultations that took place during the budget
formulation exercise.

He added that the commission justified the increases and should receive the
support of the residents.

Miss Kuda Mujakachi of Hatfield said the charges on water were unfair
because the commission has done nothing to improve water delivery. She
complained of burst water pipes that go for days unattended.

Ms Nyasha Chinyahara of Glen View said when talking of the increases, people
should not look at percentage increases because they do not mean much.

She said the commission should show its commitment to improving service
delivery now that it is charging market rates.

Chairman of the Combined Harare Ratepayers Association Mr Mike Davies said
there was not much time for advertising of the budget as stipulated in the
Urban Councils Act.

"There is only three weeks to advertise and receive objections," he said.

Announcement of the Harare budget was postponed several times owing to a
number of reasons, among them a directive by the Government that rates,
tariffs and supplementary charges should be reviewed within the inflationary

Government directed that increases should take into consideration the
support that the State was giving to local authorities.

Harare in particular has received several billions of dollars to go towards
water, sewerage reticulation and road maintenance.
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Popular Uprising Seems an Unlikely Course of Action

Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

April 9, 2005
Posted to the web April 9, 2005

Tafi Murinzi

The landslide victory of Zimbabwe's ruling party in last week's
parliamentary elections has strengthened the voice of those who have been
arguing that change in the southern African country cannot come through the
ballot box.

The election result also pushes the prevailing socio-economic crisis to a
new level. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has rejected
the outcome, alleging Zimbabwe's sixth parliamentary elections were rigged.

"This election was stolen," says MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi. "The
results are in no way an accurate reflection of the sovereign wishes of the
people of Zimbabwe."

Western governments have also joined in condemning the poll. But the
13-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African
Union (AU) have endorsed the elections, while acknowledging the need for an

The MDC leadership says it is heading back to the drawing board. The party
has ruled out court action, saying the judiciary has failed to rule on
similar charges of fraud relating to the last two general elections which
were also marred by violence and intimidation.

Thus, the only viable option left to the MDC seems to be mass action. But
sceptics say demonstrations might not take off as the most likely protesters
are among the country's 3.6 million citizens now living abroad, the majority
of them in neighbouring states.

As well, the authorities' reputation for high-handedness is still enough to
frighten any potential protesters.

Many remember how an unsanctioned all-night prayer meeting on the eve of the
election was brutally crushed, as have many previous public protests by the
activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). Several members of WOZA are
still in hospital nursing their wounds.

Since announcement of the election results, police in the capital Harare
have been on high alert fearing protests. So far they have arrested 18 MDC
youth and questioned the party's youth leader Nelson Chamisa. The group is
accused of involvement in a short-lived demonstration as well as
distributing leaflets urging Zimbabweans to take to the streets.

Despite the political impasse, mass action still seems an unlikely course of
action for Zimbabweans. With stoic resilience, they have endured economic
hardships and an erosion of political and media freedoms in the last five

In the aftermath of a populist land-reform programme preceded by a four-year
military intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the
economy has contracted by about 40 percent while unemployment stands at over
70 percent. Food shortages are rampant, due to triple digit inflation and
the government turning away foreign donors.

Yet protest action has not been seriously contemplated in the country. An
attempt, dubbed the 'final push' was made by the MDC in 2003. It earned MDC
Morgan Tsvangirai a treason charge, without giving the party any enduring

This reluctance by the Zimbabwean opposition and civil society to adapt open
agitation as a long-term strategy has often led to a perception,
particularly in the country's powerful neighbour South Africa, that
Zimbabweans are too afraid to confront their government and demand

South African's own fight against the apartheid regime was mainly through a
wide and sustained mass action which, coupled with international pressure,
made an impression on the government despite its formidable security
apparatus and determination.

"The difference is we don't have many people helping us," says an activist
who points to acquiescing neighbouring states as well as South Africa itself
whose 'quiet diplomacy' appears bent on preserving the status quo.

Elsewhere in the region, mass action has had mixed results. In September
1998, in its first military intervention since the end of apartheid, South
African troops were sent into Lesotho in support of the government,
beleaguered by an army mutiny.

Despite periodic protests in the DRC, rival militia factions continue to run
the roost in the vast country.

Among those who might be feeling vindicated by the results of last week's
elections is Lovemore Madhuku, who heads a civic group which holds that a
new democratic constitution is the only basis for a popular transition in
Zimbabwe. The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) contends that the
present electoral process allows the president 'to subvert the will of the

Madhuku has long argued it would be shown "again and again" that the MDC is
only participating in elections in order to maintain a presence and not to
gain power. Madhuku, a law lecturer, who has personally been arrested 13
times, beaten and left for dead after a protest, says participating in a
poll is far easier than delivering democracy which, he says, is not possible
under current conditions.

Of the 120 parliamentary seats contested during the Mar. 31 poll, President
Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party got 78. The MDC obtained 41 and one seat went
to an independent candidate.

Despite its hope of widening its gains made during its first showing in
2000, the MDC got 16 seats less. It argues it actually won as many as 94

But what the five-year-old party is having difficulty swallowing is that it
failed to get enough seats to prevent President Mugabe from getting the
two-thirds majority he needs to change the constitution to suit his
purposes. The 81-year-old former guerrilla leader has already said his party
will re-introduce the Senate, or upper house, which will be populated by
some of ZANU-PF's losing candidates.

Besides the seats his party has won, Mugabe is mandated by the constitution
to appoint 30 legislators into the house of assembly, effectively pushing
his majority in the 150-seat chamber to 108.

"Pushing for constitutional reform does not mean talking to ZANU-PF but
rather, forcing the ruling party to accept changes through continuous mass
protests and making the country ungovernable," says Madhuku.

He says the aim of the mass protest must not be to replace Mugabe but should
be a "broad-based" demand for democratic reforms. He, however, says the MDC
does not have the capacity to organise such mass action. Bulawayo Catholic
Archbishop Pius Ncube, who ranks as one of the most outspoken critics of
President Mugabe, has also been urging peaceful mass action as the only way
to usher in a new dispensation in Zimbabwe. But he adds Zimbabwe does not
yet have the leadership to organise such a protest.

The pro-democracy group Sokwanele says last week's election proves that
ZANU-PF 'will never' be defeated through the ballot box as long they run the
elections. "Quite simply, ZANU-PF will not permit any party, however
popular, to beat them in an election," it says.

The group says it expected the MDC to have learnt its lessons after
suffering two previous "stolen elections". "The question now is whether the
MDC has any other strategy apart from mobilising voters and winning
elections," it says.
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From SW Radio Africa, 8 April

MDC youths in hospital

Four MDC youth activists have been sent to hospital after they were
allegedly brutalised by police in custody. The 4 were part of the group of
activists arrested in connection with an MDC demonstration that took place
in Harare early this week. Freelance journalist, Frank Chikowore saw the 4
who were released today and he says they looked badly beaten. The youths say
they were assaulted with sjamboks and stones. One of the youths, Spencer
Gwata, is having problems walking. His trousers are allegedly torn as a
result of the severe beatings. The youths who had been in custody at
Southerton Police Station say they were denied food, blankets and visitors.
It is also reported that the police allegedly planted five grams of mbanje
on the youths and forced them to pay fines of $25 000 each for being in
possession of illegal substances. It's believed the police deliberately
planted the mbanje to avoid the youths appearing in court, which would have
exposed the abuse. In a related issue, the MDC National Youth Chairman and
MP for Kuwadzana Nelson Chamisa is still in police custody. Chamisa who was
arrested on allegations of inciting public violence when he addressed the
youths has been transferred from Rhodesville police station to Matapi police
station also in Harare.
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From The Chicago Tribune, 9 April

Zimbabwe opposition at crossroad

Some say compromise with the ruling party, others call for revolt

By Laurie Goering, Tribune foreign correspondent

Johannesburg - Following a second set of rigged elections, Zimbabweans
seeking change in their devastated country now face a difficult choice,
activists and analysts say: Organize a popular uprising, or give up the
political battle, accept President Robert Mugabe as perpetual ruler and try
to persuade him to begin focusing on helping people rather than clinging to
political power. Recent elections, marred by widespread vote fraud, were "a
clear demonstration you cannot remove a dictator from office at the ballot
box," said John Makumbe, a Zimbabwean political science professor on
sabbatical at Michigan State University. That means Zimbabweans,
disappointed in the democratic process and fed up with repression and
economic ruin brought on by the ruling party and with failures of leadership
in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, need to act on their own,
Makumbe said. "The need is for the people to effectively lead themselves,"
he said. "In my view, there is no other solution but civil disobedience."

Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube, one of Mugabe's most outspoken critics,
called for street demonstrations after the March 31 elections, which gave
Mugabe's ruling party a two-thirds parliamentary majority, enough to change
the country's constitution. Election observers, including US diplomats and
Movement for Democratic Change poll watchers, said that the vote tallies
recorded for ruling Zanu PF candidates in many districts surpassed the total
number of votes cast. In Murehwa South District, for example, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission reported 8,579 votes cast at the close of polling and
then said later that the ruling party received 19,200 votes in the district.
Similar results were reported in at least 30 of 120 election districts. "The
election was stolen," charged Paul Themba Nyathi, a spokesman for the
Movement for Democratic Change. "The results are in no way an accurate
reflection of the sovereign wishes of the people of Zimbabwe." But
frustrated voters have shown little inclination to follow the archbishop's
call to the streets. The problem, analysts said, is that Zimbabweans live in
justifiable fear of police and military repression and no leader has stepped
forward to guide them. "In Zimbabwe, you only need to fire one canister of
tear gas and everybody's back home," Makumbe said. "People are getting used
to poverty, misery, repression."

Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional lawyer and key leader of the country's
civil society movement for political change, agrees that bringing about
organized civil disobedience will take time and grass-roots organizing. But
"there is no other option," insisted the human-rights campaigner, who has
been jailed repeatedly and was beaten and left for dead a year ago by
government-allied thugs. "We have to renew this fight, otherwise people will
lose hope," he said in a telephone interview from Harare. "The only question
is, `Do we have sufficient commitment and leadership to do that?'" Political
analysts say it is now clear such leadership will not come from the
country's chief opposition party. The Movement for Democratic Change, long
reluctant to lead street protests, has responded to the latest election by
"wringing its fingers and doing nothing else," Makumbe said. But Madhuku and
Archbishop Ncube, the country's strongest activists, cannot by themselves
carry off a revolution, analysts warned. Since the 2000 elections, when
voters for the first time showed signs of rejecting Mugabe's regime in favor
of the Movement for Democratic Change, the president has tried to cling to
power and boost his sagging popularity by seizing white-owned farms for
redistribution to landless peasants and insisting the opposition is a front
for whites trying to recover power in the country, which won its
independence from Britain in 1980.

Much of Zimbabwe's best land, however, has ended up in the hands of Mugabe
cronies, while Zimbabwe's agricultural production - once the envy of
Southern Africa - has plunged, leading to a broader economic collapse. Today
hyperinflation has made the country's currency virtually worthless,
underpaid doctors have fled abroad, the economy has shrunk by half, at least
3 million unemployed Zimbabweans have gone to neighboring South Africa to
find work and Zimbabwe can no longer feed itself, much less export food.
Faced with that reality, "I think this is the time for all Zimbabweans to
step back and look at the disaster the country is now - the economic
implosion, the political repression - and say, `This thing cannot go on
anymore,'" said Trevor Ncube, a Zimbabwean journalist and head of the Mail
and Guardian newspaper in South Africa. The best way to stop it, he said,
may simply be to reassure Mugabe that his grip on power is no longer
threatened. "I think Zimbabwe is desperately yearning for peace and normalcy
after years of turbulence and economic meltdown," Ncube said. With people
still reluctant to take to the streets, a better way to bring about
improvement in the country's day-to-day life may be simply to ease the
81-year-old president's fears and say, "Your people deserve better than
this," Ncube said. Mugabe "is a man who fought a liberation war, who cared
about his people but who has unfortunately been sidetracked in the search
for political survival. That's made him resort to desperate measures and
that has wreaked havoc on the country," Ncube said. But now "he's achieved
all he wanted to do.Now should be the time to say, `What do I do with all
these things I wanted? Do I want to leave a legacy of people starving,
jobless, crippled by poverty?'" Whether Mugabe might respond to such
overtures - or whether Zimbabweans would be willing to make them - remains
unclear. What is certain is that while Zimbabwe's autocratic leader jetted
off to the Pope John Paul II's funeral in Rome on Friday, his people stayed
behind, waiting in long lines for staples such as cornmeal, cooking oil and
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Nelson Chamisa, the MDC youth leader and MP for Kuwadzana -- arrested three days ago on as yet unspecified charges related to inciting post-election public violence -- is now spending the weekend at Matapi Police Station in Mbare.
The cell conditions at Matapi are said to be the worst countrywide.
President Tsvangirai tried to see him yesterday evening and was turned away. Initially, the police officer on duty told Mr Tsvangirai that he was at the station at a wrong time. When asked what time he should pay Chamisa a visit, the officer blurted: "between 5 and 6 pm".
Tsvangirai politely reminded him that the time then was 5.40 pm. The came another excuse. "Do you have a lawyer with you?"
" No," said  Tsvangirai, "why, do I need one?"
" Okay, I will get someone to take you to the cells," he said.
Within a short space of  time, the entire Matapi charge office was full of plain clothes police officers, police constabularies in riot police regalia, police in uniform and others spotting dark glasses whose identity could not be ascertained.
The man in charge consulted with another and there came a prompt response. "We do not have the keys to the cells."
"So, what do we do?" asked Tsvangirai.
" The man with the keys is out attending to another assignment, in fact , a traffic accident, just around the corner."
"Should we wait for him, then," Tsvangirai insisted.
"No. No. No. It is getting dark. We can't allow visitors in when it is too dark. You have to come back some other time," he said.
So we left Matapi Police Station without having seen Chamisa. Tsvangirai was very worried, thinking Chamisa must have been tortured soon after his arrest, hence the police reluctance to allow visitors to check on him.
At 6.45 am today, we were back at Matapi. The officer on duty openly refused to attend to us, maintaining that  we must get clearance from the law and order section of the Criminal Investigations Department at Harare Central police station.
As we left the station, Tsvangirai spotted the officer we met yesterday, at a distance but coming to assume duty at Matapi. Tsvangirai reminded him that he was back as per yesterday's arrangement. The officer professed ignorance at the new ruling that clearance must be sought at the CID headquarters.
We immediately followed him into the station. As expected, the station was now full of all kinds of "policepersons", one of them armed with an assault rifle.
After a few minutes, we were led to the cell yard, under heavy, very heavy police escort. A young police woman opened the gate, and as if to survey and reconnoitre the surroundings before opening the cells, she lazily strolled around the building before approaching the cell door.
Out came Chamisa. Barefoot. Weak. He looked disoriented, his eyes blood-shot -- denoting lack of proper sleep. "Mr President, good morning!" Chamisa said cheerfully. "They are holding me for the entire weekend. It is always part of their game, these heartless souls," he said, regaining his usual self, composure and confidence.
Asked whether he was assaulted or tortured since his arrest, Chamisa said: "The only major discomfort I experienced was when Dhowa picked me up from Rhodesville Police Station enroute to Matapi. When we arrived at the Coca Cola turn-off, he ordered me out of the police car and force-marched me, while I was in leg irons, to this place. We hobbled to this place with the car following behind. He shouted all sorts of obscenities at me, accused of trying to kill him, charged the MDC youths under my commend wanted to burn him at some unspecified place. I know nothing about all this."
Dowa or Dhowa is a senior officer at the law and section of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. You will recall his presence in Kosovo as part of a peace-keeping mission raised some controversy some years back, resulting in him being send back home. He has openly told Tsvangirai that he blames the MDC for his failure to complete his tour of duty in Kosovo. At the time, questions were raised about his behaviour and human rights record in Zimbabwe.
Chamisa does not know when he will be brought before a court. "Maybe sometime next week," he said.
While we were at Matapi, two sympathisers from his Kuwadzana Constituency joined us. They said police had refused them permission in the past. They were grateful to Tsvangirai's presence as it had allowed them to "sneak in and see our MP".
One of them, an elderly woman had a Coke and two buns. Chamisa spoke to her briefly and thanked the woman for the food and for her kindness.
Of the 19 people linked to the MDC arrested this week, Chamisa is alone at Matapi. The whereabouts of others are unknown. The police have a habit of transferring suspects, usually at night from one station to another. This makes it difficult for relatives and officials to provide them with food and other essentials.
More, if any,  later.  
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