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Mugabe's neighbours call regional summit on Zimbabwe

Times Online
April 9, 2008

Times Online and agencies
Zambia has called an emergency summit of southern African leaders for this
weekend to discuss Zimbabwe’s post-election impasse.

Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian President who chairs the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), said that the crisis required a concerted
effort by all southern African countries to find a solution.

The SADC summit will be held in Lusaka on Saturday. It was the first move by
Zimbabwe’s neighbours to intervene after the March 29 elections and is
likely to anger President Mugabe, who clashed bitterly with Mr Mwanawasa
when the Zambian leader tried to put Zimbabwe on the agenda at an SADC
meeting last year.

Zambian officials said that they did not know whether Mr Mugabe would

Ten days after Zimbabweans went to the polls, no announcement has yet been
made on the result of the presidential contest, which the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims was won by its leader, Morgan
A lawyer for the Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission said today that it would be
“dangerous” for the High Court to order the release of presidential election
results, as the MDC has demanded by the opposition MDC.

The ruling politburo of Mr Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party gave him the go-ahead to
fight a second-round run-off vote against Mr Tsvangirai if no candidate has
won 50 per cent of the vote in the first round.

The MDC, which dislodged Zanu (PF) in parliament for the first time since
independence, says that Mr Tsvangirai won 50.3 per cent of the vote.

George Chikumbirike, a lawyer for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, told
judge Tendai Uchena, who was hearing the MDC application: “It would be
dangerous in my view to give an order because it might not be complied with
... because of outside exigencies which the party (ZEC) will be unable to

He did not elaborate but appeared to be referring to rising tension in
Zimbabwe because of the post-election impasse.

Mr Chikumbirike also declined to say how far the ZEC had gone in preparing
to announce the result, saying this was privileged information which “the
commission has entitlement to release when it’s ready”.

Jacob Zuma, leader of the ruling party in Zimbabwe’s powerful neighbour
South Africa, earlier joined a chorus of demands for the release of the
results. Zimbabwe’s third presidential candidate, ruling party defector
Simba Makoni also urged the urgent release of the outcome.

In Brussels, Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission,
voiced concern at the delay.

The MDC says Mugabe has unleashed a wave of violence against the opposition
since the election and called on African nations to intervene to prevent
further bloodshed. Mr Zuma, who rivals President Thabo Mbeki as the most
powerful man in South Africa and is the frontrunner to succeed him in 2009,
told the Star newspaper: “I think the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should
have announced results by now.”

Mr Mwanawasa has been one of the few regional leaders to publicly voice his
concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe, memorably comparing the plight of
the country’s economy to the sinking of the Titanic.

But Mr Mugabe has often bridled at any kind of outside intervention in the
affairs of

Zimbabwe, which he has ruled interrupted since independence in 1980.

The prospect of an SADC meeting on Zimbabwe was welcomed, however, by the
MDC, which has been in close contact with other countries in the region
since the deadlocked election.

“We hope the outcome of the meeting is going to be a strong message to
Mugabe and also action that would help resolve the impasse in the country,”
said Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesman.

If only Zimbabwe had some oil, Mugabe would have been long gone by now.

Mr T, London, United Kingdom

We have an urgent crisis. Organise a meeting for a week's time.

SADC can't wait to congratulate Mugabe.

RogerP, Pretoria, South Africa

This is the last chance for neighbouring African countries to prove that
they are not irrelevant. I hope it won't be like a similar meeting that took
place last year after Tsvangirai was badly beaten by Zimbabwean police; that
meeting did not so much as even give Mugabe a slap on the wrist.

Charan Muzaya, London, UK

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Zim judge needs time


††††April 09 2008 at 06:54PM

Harare - A judge wrapped up hearing an opposition petition demanding
the immediate release of Zimbabwe's presidential election results and said
he would deliver his judgement on Monday.

"Conscious of the urgency of the matter, I should be ready for a
judgment on Monday afternoon," Justice Tendai Uchena told the High Court in
Harare on Wednesday.

"Judgement is therefore reserved until Monday at 2.30pm."

"I have heard the parties since Saturday and I need to go over the
statute that has been referred to. I also need to digest the submissions by
both counsels," he told journalists.

Earlier, lawyers for the electoral commission urged the court to
dismiss the demand, saying the verification process for the result of the
March 29 presidential election was still under way.

"The collation has to be finished, the verification has to be
finished," the commission's lawyer George Chikumbirike told the hearing.

"The order they sought is so unreasonable. This application must be
dismissed, it ought never to have been made."

Opposition lawyers argued on Tuesday there could be no justification
for delaying the results any longer, saying they were effectively already
known the day after the polls when returns were posted outside polling

The delay has led to widespread opposition accusations that it is part
of a ploy to buy President Robert Mugabe - who has ruled Zimbabwe non-stop
since independence from Britain in 1980 - more time to cook up a victory.

Despite the lack of an official result, Mugabe's party has already
demanded a recount of the whole election saying it has uncovered a series of

The commission announced the results of a simultaneous parliamentary
election nearly a week ago in which Mugabe's Zanu-PF party lost its majority
to the opposition for the first time. - Sapa-AFP

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Government takes over from ZEC

Zimbabwe Metro

By Staff ⋅ April 8, 2008

The government of Zimbabwe had taken over the functions of Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission(ZEC),Metro can confirm.

New staff have also been appointed to complete the collation and
verification of results of the presidential vote and directly answer to
ministers Patrick Chinamasa,Saviour Kasukuwere and Didymus Mutasa.

All election material has been removed from the election command Centre at
the Harare International Conference Centre and is now located at Munhomutapa
offices of Vice president Joseph Msika.

Asked about the new developments the head of the election commission said
the body was hampered by financial and personnel problems.

“We have scaled down because most of the people were support staff for the
house of assembly, senatorial and council results. We are also scaling down
because of costs,” said ZEC chairperson George Chiweshe.

President Tsvangirai’s chief election agents Chris Mbanga and Morgan
Komichi, have now being excluded from the verification process.

The development comes as details are emerging that Morgan Tsvangirai
actually got 56% of the vote way above the 50% needed for him to be declared
duly elected.

A source tells Metro,”If none of the candidates did not get the required
majority and a runoff was indeed needed why do you think the results are
still being held,the situation is really bad.”

“What is happening is that they are infact trying to reduce Tsvangirai’s
votes to fall below 50% and necessitate a runoff”said the source.

A polling officer in Harare said Mugabe’s votes were inflated to reduce
margins using postal ballots.Some polling officers who questioned the
procedure have since been arrested.

“All the votes were for Zanu-PF. There were no names for us to cross out in
the voters roll in case the voters would have voted already. Many ballot
papers could not be accounted for.”

Meanwhile the ANC president Jacob Zuma has criticised the decision to delay
the release of results from the presidential election in neighbouring

“I don’t think it augurs very well,” Zuma said in an interview with the
SABC. He added that it was wrong to keep Zimbabweans and the world in

His remarks came one day after he met Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party in Zimbabwe.
Their meeting took place in Johannesburg.

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Empty office attests to Zimbabwe's post-election chaos


HARARE, April 9 (AFP)

While Zimbabwe's electoral commission says it is still collating
presidential votes, its main counting office is empty of staff and the sign
that once boasted "National Command Centre" hangs no more.

Eleven days after Zimbabweans flocked to the polls, a few chairs and a
tablecloth or two were all that attested to the commission's operation at
Harare's international conference centre.

Workers from a neighbouring five-star hotel were clearing away debris and a
few police idled around outside, but everyone said commission staff packed
up and left on Tuesday.

"We have scaled down because most of the people were support staff for the
house of assembly, senatorial and council results," commission chairman
George Chiweshe admitted.

"Presidential results are being worked on but I can't say much about that
because there is a court case pending," he said, adding that work was
ongoing at the body's permanent offices in downtown Harare.

Chiweshe was referring to a legal bid by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change to force the result of the March 29 presidential election,
which its leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims to have won.

While a judge had heard the case, he has said Monday is the earliest he can
give a ruling.

Robert Mugabe's opponents in the presidential race have expressed
bewilderment at the continued delays and the empty conference centre.

"I am quite lost," admitted former finance minister Simba Makoni, who quit
President Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF to run against him as an independent.

"There is no more work taking place in that place... and it gets me very
worried and I believe other political contestants are similarly worried that
it is taking so long and why it is taking so long is not known," he said.

Makoni, who is thought to have come a distant third after Mugabe and
Tsvangirai, said he asked senior commission officials to allow him to
personally check up on the vote-counting process.

"I regret to say that I wasn't accorded that opportunity," he said.

His doubts and fears were echoed by Tsvangirai's number two.

"We are concerned with the dismantling of the national command centre," said
Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the MDC.

Candidates can be forgiven for not making too much of the inaction at the
conference centre as the election aftermath in Zimbabwe has deteriorated
into a shambles of legal bids and claims and counter-claims.

Amidst all the talk of re-runs, run-offs and recounts, Zimbabweans are
getting short on patience.

"I am tired of waiting. Life has been at a standstill, but one has to get
back to work rather than waiting in vain like this," said street vendor Tino

In addition to the opposition's legal bid, Mugabe's ZANU-PF is contesting
enough parliamentary seats to win back control of the legislature.

The ruling party has also described a run-off presidential vote -- required
if none of the candidates win more than 50 percent -- as "definite", while
at the same time demanding a total recount.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack prompted chuckles earlier this
week in Washington when he questioned why ZANU-PF was calling for a recount
before it knew the actual results.

"It's interesting that they haven't had the official election results
announced, yet there is a call for a recount. I'm not sure of the logic
train there," he said.

Lawyers for the electoral commission maintain work is ongoing.

"The collation has to be finished, the verification has to be finished,"
George Chikumbirike said at the court hearing.

But the MDC's legal team maintains the results were effectively already
known the day after the polls.

"The results of the presidential poll were actually posted at polling
stations at ward level," Alec Muchadehama told the court. "After the poll
was held on March 29, results were actually available on March 30."

The longer the delay goes on the more uncertainty for ordinary Zimbabweans,
who were already struggling to cope with six-digit inflation and 80 percent
unemployment before the polls started.

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Serious concerns over closure of ZEC national command centre


Harare 9 April 2008 – The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a group
of 38 leading Zimbabwe civil society organizations is surprised to note that
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has without notice or explanation,
closed its National Command Centre that was housed at the Harare
International Conference Centre. ZESN is questioning the closure of the
command centre before the announcement of the Presidential results.

“It is of grave concern that the ZEC command centre can just be closed and
no communication officially conveyed to observers, party agents and
candidates who have been waiting impatiently for the Presidential results
since 29 March 2008”, says Irene Petras, ZESN Vice Chairperson.

Considering all the anxiety and confusion that has been caused by the
delayed announcement of Presidential results, ZESN expected the ZEC command
centre to be open and accessible to accredited observers until the
Presidential election results are announced. In addition the command centre
was also the hub of communication between ZEC and its stakeholders. The
closure of the command centre closes the door of communication between the
electoral management body and interested stakeholders. It also creates an
incorrect assumption that, the election process is over.

ZESN therefore urges ZEC to immediately publicly address the concerns of all
stakeholders. Ends//




+263 (04) 250735/6 703956

9th April 2008

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Vote results delayed for fear of violence, Zimbabwe says

Christian Science Monitor

The country's electoral commission said releasing results from the March 29
presidential vote would be 'dangerous' as international efforts for release
of poll widened.
posted April 09, 2008 at 11:20 am EDT

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said Wednesday that the release of
results from the country's disputed March 29 presidential election could
precipitate dangerous tensions. This comes as international calls for the
release of the results broadened amid growing concerns that President Robert
Mugabe is trying to delay the result announcement to give him time to
prepare for a probable runoff against top opposition leader Morgan

Lawyers for the ZEC hinted at escalating violence in the conflict-torn
state, where a week's delay in critical election results has led to
widespread fears of clashes between opposition and government supporters,
reports Reuters. International human rights activists say Zimbabwe's recent
history of political violence has been fostered by militias backed by Mr.
Mugabe, a charge the government denies.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party apparently lost control of Parliament, according to
results released April 3. But Mugabe is disputing the results, and some
electoral officials have been arrested.

Opposition figures have warned that government-backed militias are
campaigning to intimidate voters with violence ahead of a possible run-off
election, the Los Angeles Times reports, and on April 4, one opposition
leader said Mugabe had been "preparing a war against the people," reported
The Christian Science Monitor.

International calls for the release of delayed results from the vote also
increased on Wednesday. The United Nations, European Union, Australia, and
Jacob Zuma, the leader of South Africa's ruling party, all issued calls for
the release of election results, Reuters reports.

Tendai Biti, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
opposition party, said more violence in the conflict-torn state was imminent
unless two regional groups – the African Union and the Southern African
Development Community – intervened.

† "We (Africa) responded poorly in Rwanda and a million people were killed,"
Biti told a press conference.

† "I say don't wait for dead bodies on the streets of Harare. Intervene now.
There's a constitutional and legal crisis in Zimbabwe."

The opposition has called on a High Court judge to speed up publication of
the results. A Zimbabwe court began a second day of hearings on the polls on
Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported, spurring opposition hopes of a
release of the results. Justice Tendai Ucheni could, however, go on hearing
the case for days.

Last week, official parliamentary results released by the ZEC appeared to
confirm the end of Mugabe's 28-year rule. He's widely considered responsible
for the collapse of Zimbabwe's once-prosperous economy and has been widely
accused of human rights abuses, reported the Associated Press. Official
results showed that the MDC won 105 seats compared with Mugabe's 93 seats in
the 210-seat Parliament.

The MDC also announced last week that Mr. Tsvangirai won 50.3 percent of the
presidential vote compared with 43.8 percent for Mugabe.

Zimbabwe's ruling party, the ZANU-PF, however, appears to be disputing the
results. At least seven officials from the electoral commission have been
arrested for manipulating the results in favor of the opposition, the website reports.

The ZANU-PF has also called for a total recount of the votes. The signs from
Mugabe contradict international reports from a week ago indicating that the
long-time ruler of Zimbabwe was preparing to stand down, Australia's
state-supported SBS news reports.

Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the international community
would have to place increasing pressure on Mugabe.

Zimbabwe's state-sponsored Herald newspaper claimed Tsvangirai had pleaded
with the ruling ZANU-PF party to appoint him in a new government, claiming
he "begs for Vice President post." The Herald also claimed that former UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan was trying to contact Zimbabwean authorities
about a power-sharing deal.

Amid the disputed polls, there are increasing concerns of widespread
violence, the BBC reports. Opposition figures say activists have been
attacked in a campaign of violence since the elections.

† "Militias are being rearmed, Zanu-PF supporters are being rearmed," said
MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti....

† Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu denied the reports of violence.

† "There is nothing like that. They are concocting things. It is peaceful,"
he told the AP news agency.

There have also been reports of invasions of white-owned farms, according to
the Commercial Farmers' Union President Trevor Gifford. Mr. Gifford told the
BBC that some 60 farmers had fled their homes in fear of attack by mobs. The
MDC also says 80 Zimbabwean opposition activists have been attacked by
government-backed militias in recent days.

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Angry at Mbeki, Zimbabwe opposition turns to Zuma

Yahoo News

by Fran Blandy Wed Apr 9, 9:54 AM ET

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition, frustrated by South African
President Thabo Mbeki's refusal to apply more pressure on Robert Mugabe, is
busy courting his probable successor and other regional leaders.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has embarked on a tour of Zimbabwe's
southern African neighbours to try and shore up support as he waits to find
out if he has officially ended President Mugabe's 28-year rule.

His first port of call after claiming victory in the March 29 presidential
election was regional powerhouse South Africa, where he met the leader of
the ruling ANC party, Jacob Zuma -- the frontrunner to succeed Mbeki next

The South African president was the chief mediator between Zimbabwe's
governing ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change in
the build-up to the election, but has since alienated himself from the

A week after the polls, Mbeki urged "patience" and described the situation
in Zimbabwe as "manageable," seemingly dismissive of opposition calls for
the international community to intervene.

Zuma, by contrast, came out and criticised the delay.

In an interview with South Africa's SABC news on Tuesday, the day after he
met with Tsvangirai, Zuma indicated that "keeping the nation in suspense...
keeping the international community in suspense" was wrong.

"I don't think it augurs very well," he said.

Zimbabwean-born political analyst Elinor Sisulu said Mbeki's comments had
outraged the MDC.

"I know there was dismay (in the MDC), people were just outraged. What was
disturbing was that he just accepted uncritically the ZEC's (electoral
commission) reasons that there was some irregularity," she told AFP.

"The response of the region is actually crucial. Mbeki's statement was very,
very disturbing and is not going to be helpful," said Sisulu, who is the
daughter-in-law of ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu.

Sisulu indicated that Mbeki should try and apply more pressure on the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional bloc which along
with the African Union came in for particular stick from the opposition on

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said "the deafening silence by our
brothers and sisters" in Africa was symptomatic of the continent's failure
to react to crises.

The opposition pleas appeared to have had some effect by Wednesday as the
SADC announced that Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa planned to stage an
extraordinary summit of the 14-nation bloc to discuss the crisis in

Zuma toppled Mbeki from the helm of the ruling party last December partly
with the help of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) which
has long been critical of the government's stance on Zimbabwe.

COSATU, part of South Africa's ruling coalition, has a long alliance with
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions which was once led by Tsvangirai.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, COSATU secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi
said Mugabe should be made a regional "outcast" if he did not accept the
election result.

"If the president was going to continue dilly-dallying and rule by decree
there should be no place for him in SADC, he should be made an outcast,"
said Vavi. "You can't have any relationship with a government that won't
accept the will of its people."

After holding talks with new Botswana President Ian Khama, Tsvangirai said
Wednesday it was in the interests of the whole of southern Africa to defuse
the growing crisis in Zimbabwe.

The MDC said Tsvangirai would also travel to two other of Zimbabwe's
neighbours, Zambia and Mozambique, as part of a post-election diplomatic

Despite their frustration with Mbeki's policy of quiet diplomacy so far, an
opposition spokesman said that Tsvangirai would meet with the South African
president during his tour.

"They are going to be meeting very soon. He (Tsvangirai) is going to make
sure there is an understanding of the dire consequences we find ourselves in
as a country," said the MDC's Nelson Chamisa.

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Zimbabwe's opposition chief accuses Mugabe of 'de facto military coup'


HARARE, April 9 (AFP)

Robert Mugabe has deployed troops across Zimbabwe to intimidate people ahead
of a presidential run-off in a "de facto military coup", his rival Morgan
Tsvangirai said in an interview on Wednesday.

"The military leaders in the establishment are trying to subvert the will of
the people," opposition leader Tsvangirai told Time in an interview
published on the magazine's website.

"This is, in a sense, a de facto military coup," he said.

"They have rolled out military forces across the whole country, to prepare
for a run-off and try to cow the population. It's an attempt to try to
create conditions for Mugabe to win."

Eleven days on from polling, there has still been no word on the outcome of
the presidential election, which Tsvangirai claims he has won without the
need for a run-off.

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Mugabe unleashes his dogs

Zimbabwe Today

Violence and fear mark the new Zanu-PF campaign of retribution

While the world waits for the results of Zimbabwe's presidential election,
the people of Zimbabwe don't have to wait for Mugabe's revenge. The defeated
President and his defeated party have launched an orgy of violence against
known activists and supporters of the successful MDC.

The party youth militia, the so-called war veterans, the secret service
agents, all the paramilitary might that Robert Mugabe can call on has been
going into action in specifically targeted areas. For the record, here's a
loose compilation of the reports coming to me.

People in the rural Matabeleland district are, of course, suffering more
than most. I have had reports of intimidation from Plumtree, Binga,
Nyamandlovu, Hwange, Insza and Lupane - all areas where it is thought MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai triumphed in the recent polls.

"The war veterans descended upon us yesterday," said Ndabambi Ndlovu, who
fled his home in fear of his life. "They demanded that we leave the area, or
be killed. They said we had sold out by supporting the opposition, and that
we would not be allowed to vote in the re-run."

In Lupane, 600 kilometres south west of Harare, more than a thousand
villagers are said to have been assaulted by soldiers using rifle butts.
Among the casualties were two Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials. They
showed the soldiers their ZEC cards - and were immediately beaten more

The militia are also targeting known supporters of Simba Makoni's bid for
the presidency. I'm told that one of his campaign team leaders, Stanley
Wolfenden, was raided at his farm in Nyamandlovu, and only barely escaped.
He is now in Bulawayo.

In the Midlands town of Gweru four MDC youths were severely injured when
assaulted by 13 soldiers and two policemen. One of the youths, Celestine
Masvibo, was treated by a local doctor, but the fate of the other three is
not known and there are fears they may have been abducted.

In Masvingo province, starving pro-MDC villagers in Zaka West were forced to
stand and watch while officials driving a government truck delivering maize
made sure the only people who received it were accredited Zanu-PF

In Murombedzi district youth militias and war veterans are said to have
erected road blocks, barricading the way to Chinhoyi. Motorists are being
stopped and told to produce Zanu-PF membership cards.

The intimidation is even evident in Harare itself. Residents of the high
density suburb Mabvuku-Tafara fled for their lives when heavily armed police
descended on the community and began beating people indiscriminately.

This last incident resulted in a choice quotation from Police spokesman
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena. He said: "I have not hear any such
news. It must be false as police do not beat innocent civilians."

These have been just a few of the incidents reportedly taking place across
Zimbabwe, and the suffering of the targeted and defenceless people puts the
problems of our few remaining white farmers into perspective. Nonetheless
they remain under severe attack.

According to the Commercial Farmers Union, more than 60 farmers have been
evicted in this new wave of land-grabs, most of them white, but apparently
two of them black.

CFU president Trevor Gifford said that the scenario was disastrous for the
country, which is already expecting its worst maize harvest since
independence. "We are expecting less than 300,000 tonnes. It is
catastrophic," he said.

Meanwhile in the High Court, Judge Tendai Uchena may have ruled that he has
jurisdiction over the election results, and he may have ruled that the
matter can be considered urgent. But his ruling on whether the results
should be published is still not with us. And latest word is, it may be
delayed for several days.

Meanwhile,† the situation can only get worse. Appeals to the international
community to intervene fall on deaf ears. Robert Mugabe is refusing to take
calls from other African leaders. And depresion and fear amongst those who
oppose him grows by the day.

Posted on Wednesday, 09 April 2008

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Mugabe unleashes terror on farms to hold on to power

Crimson Tazvinzwa is a Zimbabwean human rights activist, journalist and
media trainer now living in London, the UK.

By Crimson Tazvinzwa
9 April, 2008

A leading Zimbabwean writer and academic says Mugabe’s post election
strategy has been to frustrate people into a revolt so he can declare a
state of emergency.

It is now ten days since Zimbabweans went to the polls but Mugabe continues
to keep the crucial presidential result a secret.

“Mr. Mugabe wants to force Zimbabwean people to revolt so he can declare a
state of emergency in order to nullify the elections”, said Chenjerai Hove.

Hove made these observations during a seminar on Zimbabwean elections
organized by The Norwegian Council for Africa (NCA) this week.

In recent days the military, police and security agencies have orchestrated
a new wave of farm invasions by war veterans and Zanu(PF) supporters,
forcing a few remaining white farmers out of business.

In 2000 there were 4000 commercial farmers who produced enough food to feed
Zimbabwe and the rest of the Southern African region. There are currently
only 400 white farmers remaining following government organized farm
invasions in recent years.

In a statement Justice for Agriculture, an organization that works with
evicted white farmers said: “The deadlock in the country's political process
following the failure to release the presidential result for obvious reasons
has left the government looking once again for scapegoats to blame for the

Mugabe, 84, in power for 28 years since independence in 1980 has presided
over a catastrophic economy and a total collapse of the welfare system. The
Zimbabwe Central Statistics Office reports that the country’s inflation hit
an all time high of 164 900 per cent in January compared to 100, 580 per
cent in previous months making it the fastest plummeting economy in the
world. The Zimbabwe dollar is currently trading at 100 million to the
British pound compared to Z$15 to £1 ten years ago.

Many Zimbabweans are struggling to make a living in view of the widespread
food shortages as well as below inflation per capita income. A typical
secondary school teacher for example earns Z$400m (£5) per month and has to
fork out 14 million dollars to buy a loaf of bread.

Chenjerai Hove also observed an increased role of the military in the way
Zimbabwe is governed.

“Mugabe has militarized everything. We are living in a country which has had
silent coup for a long time. He has allowed the army to be untouchables”,
Hove concluded.

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ZANU-PF punishing farm workers for voting MDC

By Tererai Karimakwenda
09 April, 2008

The recent escalation of farm invasions that are being orchestrated by the
ruling party, appear to be nothing more than an exercise to punish farm
workers who Zanu PF believe voted for the opposition. In the last week over
100 farms have fallen victim to gangs of hired thugs who identify themselves
as war veterans. Although the government propaganda is targeting white
farmers, it appears the real agenda is to intimidate black farm workers
ahead of any runoff between Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
who clearly won the Presidential election.

Reports say the mobs have become increasingly violent, setting fire to farm
labourers’ huts and beating workers. The white farmers are being given 24
hours to leave, or less, and thousands more black farm workers will end up
unemployed and displaced.

Trevor Gifford, president of the Commercial Farmers Union, on Tuesday
confirmed that black farm workers are being rounded up, abused and forced to
chant ZANU-PF slogans. Gifford said they are being blamed for Mugabe’s
electoral loss, even though many of them are not even allowed to vote
because they have at least one grandparent from either Zambia or Malawi.

Ben Gilpin, acting CEO at Justice for Agriculture which represents evicted
white farmers, said some of the invaders are small scale farmers from each
local area that are being organised into groups. They are getting their
instructions from senior ZANU-PF officials. Gilpin also confirmed that the
houses of black farm workers in Centenery were burned down by invaders. He
found this strange because the local ZANU-PF MP had retained his seat

According to Gilpin, all 15 remaining white farmers in Centenary have been
evicted. The evictions in that area are being coordinated at the district
administrative offices. Latest reports say that invaders there have turned
to killing livestock. In other parts of the country the incidents have
varied, ranging from evictions, barricades, warnings and full-scale
“jambanjas” that involve all-night sloganeering.

It is feared that this new round of illegal farm invasions will add to the
already serious food shortages, as the maize harvest is in progress and
wheat planting is due to begin in a few weeks. In other cases the farm
workers are being ordered not to report to the fields and invaders are
destroying farm equipment, produce and buildings.

In one incident reported in The Times (UK) newspaper, one farmer who was
milking his herd early Tuesday morning was approached by a mob armed with
sticks, stones and a shotgun. They ordered him to stop but he refused
because the cows needed to be milked or they would become ill. The
dreadlocked gang leader then ordered him to throw the milk out on the
ground, saying it was the law.

As we reported, one incident in Masvingo was stage managed by the state
broadcaster ZBC, who filmed the incident and paid the invaders. The
so-called war veterans were neatly dressed and well-spoken individuals, many
of them obviously not old enough to have fought in the liberation war.

Justice For Agriculture, which represents evicted white farmers, released a
statement which said in part: “The deadlock in the country's political
process following last week’s general election and the slow announcement of
results has left the government looking once again for scapegoats to blame
for the outcome.”

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Soldiers and Zanu PF supporters assault opposition members

By Tichaona Sibanda
9 April 2008

Zanu-PF has sent militias into areas where it lost to the MDC, to assault
those suspected of voting for the opposition. In Gweru in the Midlands
province, a human rights group reports that soldiers beat up revellers and
late night shoppers in the city of Gweru, as punishment for not ‘voting

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said soldiers, some of them wearing face
masks, raided bars and a public market on Sunday, in Gweru’s Mkoba 6 surbub,
assaulting people they accused of failing to vote correctly.

Gweru, which houses two military bases, Thornhill airbase and the Zimbabwe
Military Academy, is a stronghold of the opposition MDC led by Morgan

Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC MP for Makoni south, said they have received
reports of members of the armed forces being deployed in rural areas.

‘Our intelligence officers are busy right now travelling across the province
gathering as much information as they can on the deployment of troops. But
what I can confirm now is that a lot of our supporters are being harassed
and intimidated by Zanu-PF supporters in all the areas we beat them,’
Muchauraya said.

Manicaland province produced the most stunning defeat for Zanu-PF when the
MDC won 20 out 26 parliamentary seats in the province. From just two seats
before the elections, the party claimed the scalps of four cabinet
ministers, Patrick Chinamasa, Shadreck Chipanga, Joseph Made, Mike Nyambuya
and Zanu-PF women’s chairperson Oppah Muchinguri.

‘In all these areas, where we beat these heavyweights our supporters are
being harassed by war veterans and youth members of Zanu-PF. But we are
telling our supporters to refrain from retaliating as we believe it’s a trap
set that can be used against the party,’ Muchauraya added.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabwe cop: Bosses 'told us to vote for Mugabe'

INSIDE ZIMBABWE (CNN) -- Afraid to lose their jobs in a country with nearly
80 percent unemployment, Zimbabwe police officers voted for President Robert
Mugabe under the watchful eyes of their bosses, one of those officers told a

†"Mugabe is our employer, so if you don't want to vote for Mugabe, then fill
in the resignation letter so that you can leave the police force," said the
police officer, who wanted to be identified only as "William."

When William and his fellow police officers cast their ballots March 29, he
said, his bosses not only looked on but "actually told us to vote for

It is very rare and extremely dangerous for a member of Zimbabwe's police
force to speak to the media. William, a police officer in his 30s, spoke to
a reporter -- who also remains unnamed for security reasons -- in the back
of a car in a remote area of the city where he works.

William's account was denied by Zimbabwean police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzinjena, who told CNN that voting is a very confidential and involved
process. He said it would not be possible for anyone to pressure another
into voting for a particular candidate.

But William's story gives an indication of the financial pressures on many
Zimbabweans to keep the current government in power, despite the fact that
Mugabe and his regime are widely blamed for the country's economic freefall.
William, a father of two, said even the police are not spared from the
country's hardships.

"I joined the force sometime in the early '90s, and then we had so many
police vehicles," William said. "Now we have nothing."

He said police sometimes have to walk more than 15 miles (25 km) to
investigate a crime scene. Then, they must head to a store to buy their own
paper to fill out standard reports -- if they can find any paper on the
barren shelves of Zimbabwe's shops.

"I'm telling you, police officers are tired. They are tired of this
government," he said.

Zimbabwean police have a bad reputation in the southern African country as
brutes who use a heavy-handed approach to enforce the policies of the Mugabe

They have been seen moving to the head of food lines, and beating female
protesters demonstrating against the economic situation in their country.
But some members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise have said that they've seen
police returning after the protest to help the women that they have just
bloodied, offering towels and comfort.

"That's true," William said. "We at times go behind our bosses."

He said they are forced to violently enforce their bosses' orders or risk
losing their jobs.

"We know that it is unlawful," he said. "They have the right to demonstrate,
to do whatever, so long as they are not violating the laws of the country."

William said he and many of his colleagues had high hopes for this year's
election, which presents the most formidable challenge to Mugabe's 28-year
grip on power.

But instead of voting freely at a polling station, William said he sat under
a tree along with his colleagues and cast a ballot that had been given to
him by his commander. The ballot, he said, represented a district he did not
even live in.

"The officer (of the) commanding district [was] acting like a teacher,
telling you where to cast your vote," he said. "Can that be called a vote?"

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Current arrests of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission personnel

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
April 08, 2008

The state-controlled print and electronic media have published and continue
to publish a plethora of alarmist articles (which have been mixtures of
fact, conjecture and opinion) relating to the arrests of “ZEC officials”.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is currently attempting to confirm
these arrests throughout the country and ascertain accurate details of the
circumstances under which these arrests occurred, and the charges laid, if

ZLHR can confirm the following incidents:-

† a.. On Friday 4 April 2008 one Dorcas Mpofu, a ZEC constituency election
officer, was arrested and detained by police in Mberengwa. A lawyer deployed
by ZLHR was denied access to her by police, in contravention of her rights
under the Constitution of Zimbabwe. She has since been charged under section
174 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (“the Criminal Code”)
with criminal abuse of her duty as a public officer, in that she allegedly
intentionally committed an act or acts contrary to or inconsistent with her
duties as a public officer. The maximum sentence in the event of conviction
is a level 13 fine and/or 15 years’ imprisonment. She was made to sign a
warned and cautioned statement without the assistance of her legal
practitioner, after which she was released. Subsequently, however, she was
taken back into custody and advised to make an application for bail at the
Magistrates’ Court on Monday 8 April 2008. The ZLHR lawyer attended at the
Magistrates’ Court on Monday 8 April 2008 and was again denied access. He
was later informed that her superiors had ordered her to engage an
alternative lawyer when they were informed that the lawyer present was a
member of ZLHR.
† b.. On an as yet unconfirmed date one Virginia Sibanda, a ZEC election
officer working in Lupane, was arrested. She was due to appear in the
Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 8 April 2008. The advocate deployed
by ZLHR to represent her advised ZLHR that the police were not cooperating
with him and did not allow him to peruse the docket to establish the precise
allegations, again in contravention of the Declaration of Rights in the
Constitution. He was only able to establish that the accused person was
being charged with breaching section 136(a) of the Criminal Code. This is
the crime of fraud, where any person who makes a misrepresentation intending
to deceive another person or realizing that there is a real risk or
possibility of deceiving another person faces a maximum penalty of a fine
not exceeding level 14 and/or imprisonment not exceeding 35 years. In the
alternative, she was charged with allegedly contravening section 174(1)(a)
of the Criminal Code, as in the previous case.
† c.. On an as yet unconfirmed date one Shadreck Mufute, a ZEC elections
officer who was stationed at Ward 25 in Mutasa South was arrested in Mutare
and charged with fraud under section 136(a) of the Criminal Code,
alternatively contravening section 87 of the Electoral Act, as amended in
that he allegedly willfully failed to perform his public duty. His warned
and cautioned statement was recorded on 7 April 2008 but had not been
finalized due to lack of power (ZESA) at the police station. He appeared in
the Mutare Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 8 April 2008 where he was
represented by a ZLHR lawyer. The lawyer and the prosecutor initially agreed
on bail, but in court the prosecutor opposed bail, advising the ZLHR lawyer
that he had instructions to vehemently oppose bail due to the political
sensitivity of the matter. Mufute was remanded in custody pending the
handing down of the magistrates’ ruling today.
† d.. On an as yet unconfirmed date one Pius Chikwata, a ZEC elections
officer, was arrested in Nyanga and charged under section 174(1)(a) of the
Criminal Code. A ZLHR member was deployed to appear on his behalf on Tuesday
8 April 2008 and successfully applied for bail. Chikwata was released on
payment of $30 million bail.
ZLHR wishes to express its grave concern on these developments.

First, all arrested persons have fundamental rights in terms of the
Constitution to be represented by a lawyer of their choice. This becomes
even more critical where the possible sentence in the event of a successful
prosecution is such a severe term of imprisonment. The police continue to
exhibit complete contempt for the Constitution and accused persons’ rights,
with impunity and they must be made to answer for such action without delay.
Lawyers should be allowed to perform their official duties without
hindrance, as is stipulated in national laws and international treaties to
which Zimbabwe is a State Party.

Second, due to the severe and unjustifiable delays by the Chief Elections
Officer in announcing the results of the presidential election, the
electoral process is not yet complete. As such, these arrests constitute
executive interference in the work of a purportedly independent institution,
and must therefore be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The actions
of the police and their commanders smack of intentional intimidation of
officers of an electoral body and can be considered to be an attack on ZEC’s
integrity and ability to complete its constitutional duties without fear or
favour, which is already in dispute.

Third, one must question how the disputed election returns forms found their
way from the possession of ZEC officials to police stations around the
country, especially when the verification and tabulation process is not yet
complete and the results have not been announced and made publicly
available. All returns were signed as correct by representatives of
political parties present thereat, and one wonders why suddenly the contents
of the forms are being disputed.

Finally, the fact that the Chairperson of ZEC has not publicly denounced
such attacks could lead to the perception in the mind of an ordinary and
interested voter or member of the public that either the hierarchy of the
Commission is fearful of retribution in the event of speaking out, or that
they are complicit in these actions as a means of diverting attention from
its failure to announce the presidential election results. The Chairperson
of ZEC must immediately and publicly condemn such intimidatory tactics.

Visit the ZLHR fact sheet

Please credit if you make use of material from this
website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless
stated otherwise.

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U.S. election monitor freed by Zimbabwe


Wed 9 Apr 2008, 18:23 GMT

WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - A U.S. election monitor was released by
authorities in Zimbabwe on Wednesday after six days in detention and has now
left the country, his employers said.

Dileepan Sivapathasundaram, a senior program officer with the National
Democratic Institute (NDI), a U.S. organisation that monitors elections
worldwide and promotes democracy, was arrested last Thursday at Harare

After more than 22 hours during which authorities said he was not being
held, Sivapathasundaram was finally tracked down to Harare's central police

"NDI is thankful that Mr. Sivapathasundaram has been released unharmed and
wishes to thank those around the world who worked to secure his freedom,"
said former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, chairman of the NDI
board of directors.

"His illegal detention was another indication of the deteriorating situation
in Zimbabwe, where the government has yet to release results from the
presidential election held more than 10 days ago," Albright said in a

NDI called on the government of Zimbabwe to release all others detained for
political reasons.

Two foreign journalists, including a New York Times correspondent, Barry
Bearak, have been arrested and charged with violating Zimbabwe's media laws,
according to police.

Sivapathasundaram was questioned for several days by Zimbabwe authorities,
who took his passport and computer, NDI said.

He was in Zimbabwe for NDI to help monitor the elections in accordance with
Zimbabwean law, NDI said.

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Zimbabwe deadlock deepens as regional concern grows


Wed Apr 9, 2008 8:27pm BST

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's election deadlock deepened on Wednesday,
increasing fears of bloodshed, and Zambia called an emergency regional
summit to discuss the crisis.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said ruling ZANU-PF party tallies of the
result of the March 29 presidential election showed a runoff would be
necessary between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan

"None of the candidates has been able to secure polling required by our law
in order to avoid a runoff," he said.

Chinamasa added that the electoral commission had ordered five constituency
recounts in a parallel election in which ZANU-PF lost control of parliament
for the first time.

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change rejected both a runoff and
recounts, saying it would only accept an outright Tsvangirai victory as
shown by its own tallies.

"We won these elections, Morgan Tsvangirai won this election without the
need of a runoff and we will not accept any other result," said MDC
Secretary-General Tendai Biti.

Official results have still not been released from the presidential poll 11
days after the vote and the MDC says Mugabe is prolonging the delay while he
plans a violent response to his biggest defeat since taking power in 1980.

As government and opposition traded barbs, dashing any hope of quick action
to turn around a ruined economy, concern increased among Zimbabwe's

In the first direct regional intervention, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa
called a meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders
for Saturday to formulate a concerted response. Mwanawasa is current
chairman of the body.

Mwanawasa's call came after Jacob Zuma, leader of South Africa's ruling
African National Congress, said the results must be released, signalling a
new, more robust reaction to the crisis than President Thabo Mbeki who
favours "quiet diplomacy".

Zuma, who rivals Mbeki as the most powerful man in South Africa and is the
frontrunner to succeed him in 2009, told the Star newspaper: "I think the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should have announced results by now."


Mwanawasa told journalists in Lusaka: "Because of the deepening problems in
the country, I felt that this matter should be dealt with at presidential

SADC has been criticised in the past for failing to pressure Mugabe despite
the collapse of his country's once prosperous economy, which has sent
millions of refugees fleeing into South Africa and other neighbours.

Mwanawasa briefly broke ranks with other leaders last year when he called
Zimbabwe a "sinking Titanic" before getting back in line under pressure from
other SADC leaders.

The MDC has called on African states to prevent a slide into bloodshed. It
urged the SADC summit to ask Mugabe to step down.

Chinamasa told reporters ZANU-PF was gearing up for a Mugabe-Tsvangirai
runoff. He rejected MDC victory claims and said there was no need for
international intervention.

"Nothing has transpired during and after the election to disturb
international peace and security," he said, accusing the MDC of echoing
calls by its "allies" in Washington and London.

Chinamasa said the electoral commission had rejected ZANU-PF appeals in
seven other parliamentary constituencies but was still considering nine
others. The combined opposition has a 12 seat majority in parliament with an
independent holding one.

Mugabe's critics blame him for reducing the population to misery by
mismanagement that has wrecked the Zimbabwean economy, now suffering the
world's highest hyper-inflation, chronic shortages of food and fuel and a
near worthless currency.

He says Western sanctions are to blame.

Authorities showed little sign of buckling under the pressure to release the
outcome of the election.

A lawyer for Zimbabwe's electoral commission said it would be "dangerous"
for the High Court to order the release of presidential results as demanded
by the MDC.

The judge in the case said on Wednesday the case was urgent and he would
"exert himself" to make a ruling next Monday.

(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Stella Mapenzauswa, Nelson
Banya, Muchena Zigomo, Shapi Shacinda in Lusaka; writing by Barry Moody;
editing by Michael Georgy and Matthew Tostevin)

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Zimbabweans at border say militants threatening to kill villagers who voted for opposition

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 9, 2008

BEITBRIDGE, South Africa: Priscah Godzamutsipa says she is nervous about
returning across the border to her village in Zimbabwe for fear of militants
loyal to President Robert Mugabe who are taking over white farms and
intimidating villagers who voted against the longtime leader.

Eleven days after the presidential vote, the officials results still aren't
available — a delay that has fed opposition accusations that Mugabe is
delaying their publication so he can orchestrate a runoff and give ruling
party militants time to intimidate rural voters.

In a bid to resolve the crisis, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa called an
emergency summit Saturday of southern African leaders. African leaders
previously had deferred to South African President Thabo Mbeki and his
strategy of "quiet diplomacy" on dealing with Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, says he won the March 29 presidential elections outright. His party
has accused Mugabe of unleashing an orchestrated campaign of violence
against opposition supporters, especially in former rural strongholds of the
ruling ZANU-PF party.

Zimbabwe's Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu called the claims lies,
saying the country is peaceful, with "no violence whatsoever."

Reports that people are being beaten up and their homes torched have
circulated in the capital in recent days but could not be confirmed
Wednesday because of the danger of traveling to the areas.
"They say: 'We are going to kill you,'" said Godzamutsipa, sitting next to
sacks of groundnuts she hopes to sell at the busy border post that leads
from South Africa to its troubled northern neighbor.

"We are worried about them. They say: 'Why did you vote for Tsvangirai?'"

In Godzamutsipa's Masvingo constituency, Tsvangirai's party won 14 seats to
12 for ZANU-PF in parliamentary elections held the same day as the
presidential vote.

This cattle-ranching area is where ruling party militants began last weekend
to invade white-owned farms. By Wednesday, dozens of white farmers across
the country had been driven off the land. Only a few hundred remain of the
4,500 white farmers who used to grow enough food to feed the nation and
export to neighbors.

Godzamutsipa, a matronly 55-year-old who farms 4 hectares (10 acres) of
family land with her husband, once was a staunch supporter of Mugabe, who
led a seven-year bush war that helped end white minority rule and bring
independence to Zimbabwe.

But now she "wants change," the refrain of many Zimbabweans.

"Before Mugabe was very good. I could pay school fees. There was food in the
supermarkets," she said. "Now the shops are empty. You can have a billion
dollars but you can't buy anything."

A lack of rain and fertilizer and only two oxen for tilling mean
Godzamutsipa can barely produce enough food to feed her six children as well
as the six nieces and nephews she looks after.

So, every month she makes the two-day bus journey to South Africa, hoping to
sell enough nuts to pay for school fees and buy essentials such as cooking
oil and soap.

The Beitbridge border post, set in dusty bushveld marked by giant Baobab
trees, has become a hive of trade and activity.

A steady stream of cars and small trucks heavily laden with goods head north
from South Africa, destined for Zimbabwe's thriving black market. At the gas
station, a mass of plastic drums lie waiting to be filled with fuel — a
scarce commodity across the border.

In the market, women sell tomatoes and sodas in the hot sun, while men with
minibuses do a roaring business ferrying day-trippers and shoppers. In a
darkened hut, a money changer counts out wads of U.S. dollars and South
African rands.

As Zimbabwe's economic and political woes have intensified, an increasing
number of Zimbabweans are fleeing to South Africa and other neighboring

There are few reliable figures but estimates consistently put the number of
Zimbabweans in South Africa at 3 million — nearly a quarter of Zimbabwe's
total population.

The International Organization for Migration office in Zimbabwe says people
are crossing the border into South Africa at a rate of more than 1,000 a day
while by July last year the number of Zimbabweans deported from South Africa
had reached 17,000 each month — up from 4,000 a month in 2004.

Some cross legally but then let their visas expire; others get truck drivers
to smuggle them in.

"Most of the truck drivers do it now," said Tom Karonga, 34, who has been
waiting on the Zimbabwean side of the border for a week while his cargo of
luxury cars is being cleared, crossing daily into South Africa on foot for

"We know they are doing it for the better of their families or themselves,"
he said, adding that he had been approached by Zimbabweans on both sides of
the border desperate for a lift to "anywhere."

But many Zimbabweans cross into South Africa illegally, braving the
crocodiles of the Limpopo River and often paying exorbitant fees to guides.

The poorly patrolled border stretches for kilometers (miles), with barbed
wire marking out a rocky patch of no man's land a few meters (feet) wide.
Holes cut into the bottom of the fence are large enough for adults to crawl
through on their stomachs. In some areas, there is no fence at all.

Once through, "border jumpers" make a dash across a narrow strip of tarmac,
duck through some more ripped fencing and disappear into the bush, leaving
behind an odd shoe or cap.

In the warm glow of the late afternoon sun, a man in a khaki shirt quickly
rushed from the fence back into shadow on the Zimbabwean side. Disturbed by
the cars on the South African side, he made one more attempt to reach the
fence before retreating to wait for another, safer time to cross.

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Mugabe's mobs cut essential supplies

The Australian

Catherine Philp, Harare South | April 10, 2008

JUST as Tommy Miller was milking his herd of Friesian cows yesterday, the
mob stormed into Dunluce Farm.

Armed with sticks, stones and a shotgun, up to 300 veterans of the war of
independence, in T-shirts of the ruling ZANU-PF party, ordered him to stop.
He refused. The cows had to be milked or they would become ill.

"This is the law," replied their dreadlocked leader, brandishing his baton.
"You must throw the milk on the ground."

As they rampaged through Zimbabwe's last productive farms, Robert Mugabe's
feared militiamen threatened to drive the country to starvation with a
campaign not just to reclaim the white-owned land for blacks, but to destroy
the farming system.

Reports flooding into farmers' unions in Harare yesterday told of the wilful
destruction of farm equipment, produce and buildings as part of a "popular
uprising" by government-backed mobs in the name of getting the land back for
the black population.

Agriculturalists fear the country could run out of food within weeks as the
farm invasions stop the maize harvest mid-flow and threaten the future of
wheat crops with only four weeks left for planting.

At least 60 commercial farmers - including two black farmers with opposition
sympathies - have been evicted from their farms by mobs of war veterans, the
shock troops unleashed by Mugabe in an attempt to cling on to power. Dozens
more have fled from their farms, fearing the violent mobs, which have set
fire to farm labourers' huts and beaten workers.

From Botswana yesterday, the leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, said he was open to forming a unity
government with elements of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, once the stand-off over
the election was resolved. "We must move towards creating a government that
will have space for everyone," he said.

The MDC, which claims to have won the presidential and parliamentary polls,
accused Mugabe of unleashing a campaign of violence to provoke a backlash as
a pretext for declaring a state of emergency that could help him prolong his
28 years in power.

"I say to my brothers and sisters across the continent - don't wait for dead
bodies in the streets of Harare," MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said.
"There is a constitutional and legal crisis in Zimbabwe."

Milk has become one of the scarcest commodities in Zimbabwe since the first
farm invasions in early 2000, and long queues form where it can be found. In
a land of such desperate hunger, the wanton waste of milk seems
unbelievable. But while millions of Zimbabweans spent their day in the
exhausting search for food, Mugabe supporters spent theirs in a frenzied
effort to destroy the supply chain.

The militias, financed by trillions of Zimbabwean dollars printed since
Mugabe's apparent election defeat 11 days ago - the official results have
still not been announced - have answered a call to defend the land from a
new white invasion.

When two white Times journalists drove to Dunluce Farm yesterday on the
pretext of buying meat from its butchery, the car was set on by the mob
occupying the farm. They blocked the escape route and gathered, chanting and
mocking, around the car.

"The butchery is closed. This is the law," their leader said.

Similar tales were told by white farmers fleeing to Harare for safety and
congregating at the offices of the Commercial Farmers Union.

"They are saying they have come to re-educate the people and repossess the
land," one white farmer from Mashonaland Central said.

Other white farmers were evicted or fled in the middle of the maize harvest,
raising fears over how long the country could last on its food stocks.

The political limbo shows no sign of ending. The High Court in Harare was
due to sit today to consider the MDC's urgent application for a court order
forcing the state-controlled Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the
poll results.

There is no sign of the promised run-off between Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai,
but every sign of a violent campaign to intimidate opposition supporters.

The Times, Reuters

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'It's final farewell to Zim'


09/04/2008 09:58† - (SA)

Beit Bridge - With his wife and two children in tow, Aaron Mashebu crosses
from Zimbabwe into South Africa, fearful his homeland might descend into
post-election chaos.

Zimbabwe could "snowball into anarchy and at that time it might be difficult
to run away, the borders might be closed," the 42-year-old former teacher

He was just one of 1 500 Zimbabweans to cross the border post at Beit Bridge
on Sunday and while many were simply nipping across to stock up on
much-needed basics like sugar, rice and cooking oil, others said "enough is

"My family and I have passed through the furnace of hell in the past two
years. I can bear it no more. For me it is final farewell to Zimbabwe until
further notice," said Celine Majola, who was without her two children.

"I do not know where I am going in particular in South Africa. But anywhere
there is just fine," says Majola, who shunned her husband's advice to stay
put and crossed the Limpopo into SA in the hope of finding work.

"I hope to start a new life, look for something to do and send money back
home to feed my children. Zimbabwe no longer holds any promising future for
me," she said as she adjusted the load on her head.

Zim situation 'frightening'

Eunice Lindiwe, 27, carrying a baby, has just arrived in South Africa from
Zimbabwe and hopes to find any menial job to tide her over.

"It is frightening what is happening in Zimbabwe. Now I do not feel safe
staying in this country any longer."

Majola, 32, tells how her grocery shop was destroyed in a state-sponsored
demolition blitz and how she later got a job as a factory hand only for the
company to close down late last year as Zimbabwe's economy imploded.

She said she had decided not to heed her jobless husband's pleas because she
did not want to be in Zimbabwe if fighting broke out after the elections.

Others had decided to stay, keeping a careful eye on developments to see if
Robert Mugabe's attempts to cling to power following presidential elections
claimed by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai turned nasty.

"We are really suffering in Zimbabwe. But there are some of us who have
decided to stay and watch the political situation unfold for now," Tracy
Tumba, a 29-year-old trader said at the Zimbabwean end of the border

Tumba wanted Mugabe to go. "We need fresh brains, hands and ideas, but he is
stubborn," she said.

'Life is unbearable in Zimbabwe'

She crosses the border posts twice a week to buy scarce basic goods in South
Africa, which she resells in Zimbabwe. "That is what I do to keep us alive,"
she added.

Agricultural production in Mugabe's country had been halved by his
controversial land reform programme and Zimbabwe was now forced to import
its own staple crop maize from neighbouring countries.

This had helped Zimbabwe chalk up world-record inflation above 100 000% and
an unemployment rate of a staggering 80%.

The economic conditions in Zimbabwe were even too much for 60 Somalis, who
said they had fled their war-torn country and crossed five countries and
arrived in Zimbabwe two months ago.

"Life is unbearable in Zimbabwe," says Mustapha Umar, who was leading the
group, as he shared three loaves of bread with his compatriots. "We escaped
bullets in Somalia only to face starvation in Zimbabwe."

Many Zimbabweans at the border post were wearing yellow T-shirts emblazoned
with the picture of presidential candidate and former finance minister Simba
Makoni, but appearances were deceiving.

"I am not wearing a Makoni shirt because I am his supporter. I am for Morgan
(Tsvangirai). But the Makoni T-shirts, produced in South Africa, were not
allowed to cross the border into Zimbabwe. So they were given to us in large
quantities," explained an ice-cream seller who identified himself only as

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Statement by the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform

April 9, 2008

WE the undersigned senior war veterans, former senior commanders and members
of the ZANLA and ZIPRA High Command, founder members and members of the
Board of Trustees of the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform (ZLP), wish to express
our feelings on the current constitutional crisis bedeviling the country. We
have watched with anxiety, apprehension, dismay and disbelief the comical
circus surrounding the announcement of the results of the just ended
harmonized elections held on 29 March 2006 which has left the country in

Zimbabwe has no legislature at present as the new members of the House of
Parliament and Senate have not been sworn in whereas the old Zanu-PF
dominated Parliament was dissolved on the eve of the Election on 28th March
2008 and the country has no legitimate head of state and government, hence
the crisis

The current crisis has been precipitated by† br]
i) The inexplicable failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to
announce expeditiously the results of the just ended harmonized elections in
particular the outcome of the presidential election as required by law. It
is the sovereign right of the people of Zimbabwe to be informed of the
outcome of the election without having to beg for them or to resort to legal
recourse to attain them. No one has the power to deny the people of Zimbabwe
their sovereign right to the result of their election.

ii) The failure by the Zanu-PF party and government to accept and admit
defeat in the election is a flagrant flouting and violation of the popular
will of the Zimbabwean electorate. It was Robert Mugabe himself who
unilaterally called for elections on 29 March against wise counsel from
President Mbeki of South Africa and protestations from both factions of the
Movement for Democratic Change MDC hoping to catch the opposition flat
footed. Now the stratagem has backfired and the people of Zimbabwe have
spoken with a powerful voice saying NO! to Mugabe and his party. Robert
Mugabe is on record as saying on Election Day that "when people reject you
it is time to quit politics".

He should do the honourable thing and eat humble pie and leave the people of
Zimbabwe in peace. He is also on record as saying that it is only the
opposition that alleges rigging in Zimbabwean elections. Alas in a twist of
irony, it is Mugabe who is now accusing his very own Zimbabwe Election
Commission (ZEC) of manipulating the election in favour of the MDC. Is this
an inadvertent admission that Zanu-PF has now indeed become the opposition
in Zimbabwean politics?

Zimbabwe now finds itself at the crossroads. The core objective of the
national liberation struggle was self-determination which found expression
in freedom and democracy as the ideals of the struggle, for which many
sacrificed their lives, liberty and depravation. It is these same noble
ideals that stand threatened by Robert Mugabe and his henchmen. We of the
Zimbabwe Liberation Veterans Forum stand ready to side with the people of
Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), civil society and all
progressive forces in Zimbabwe in defence of these ideals. We are determined
to send the tyrants packing, like their predecessors, to the dustbin of
history where they belong.

President Mbeki of South Africa, SADC and the African Union are on record as
saying that it is up to the people of Zimbabwe to resolve the political
crisis bedeviling their country. The people of Zimbabwe have overwhelmingly
delivered a resounding NO to Robert Mugabe"; tyranny and who is Mugabe to
impose his will against the Voice of the People of Zimbabwe? Surely what
more, in the circumstances, should the peace loving people of Zimbabwe be
expected to do? It is the highest time the SADC Heads of State, the African
Union and the international community raised their voice in support of the
popular will of the people of Zimbabwe. The ball is entirely in their court
and they cannot escape responsibility for any consequences arising from the
constitutional crisis through their inaction. Zimbabwe is not Mugabe" farm
over which he holds title deeds nor did he single handedly liberate this

Zanu-PF has now gone into a frenzy talking of a presidential run off
election. We take it to be irresponsible and the height of cynicism by those
who should know better to talk of an election re-run in the absence of an
official announcement of the outcome of the presidential election. Should
the election result point to a re-run of the presidential election, we
demand that members of Parliament and the Senate be sworn in immediately to
oversee the re-run, as the House of Assembly will have the casting vote in
the event of a tie in the outcome. Furthermore, the re-run should be
conducted within twenty one days of the date of election as stipulated in
the Electoral Act.

We note with concern the strange and discordant noises coming from paid
state agents and rogue elements purporting to be speaking on behalf of
former liberation war fighters. These sycophantic and misguided political
misfits have no statutory role in Zimbabwe and no say whatsoever in the
conduct of elections. Their statements and noises should be dismissed with
the contempt they deserve. We also note with concern the frantic
mobilization of the forces of reaction to descend on the people as
punishment for voting Mugabe and his Zanu-PF out of power. We call on the
people to remain calm, vigilant and steadfast in defence of their vote and
their sovereign right to choose their leaders democratically.

Finally, we call on all genuine and self respecting former liberation war
fighters and on all the commanders of the various state security arms to
uphold their constitutional duty to respect the outcome of the election as
the genuine sovereign expression of the popular will of Zimbabweans. To act
otherwise would be a treasonable offence for which they will stand
accountable and answerable jointly and severally.

Happyson Nenji (Webster Gwauya) Wilfred Mhanda (Dzinashe Machingura)
ZLP Trust Board Chairperson ZLP Board Trust Secretary

Bernard Manyadza (Parker Chipoera)
ZLP Board Treasurer

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Urgent Letter to SADC and African Heads of State and Government re: Zimbabwe Elections

We represent the many people within SADC increasingly alarmed at unfolding
events in Zimbabwe. We issue this open letter to all citizens of this
region, and in particular to our heads of state and government, members of
parliament in the respective countries and senior leaders with the SADC and
African Union Secretariats, asking them to take urgent action to ensure that
the Zimbabwean people, who on the 29 March 2008 exercised their right to
vote, now have the results of that vote recognised and respected.

The continued failure on the part of the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission
(ZEC) to disclose the results of the election, without any reasonable
explanation for such delay, warrants the strongest censure. This
inexplicable delay at so critical a time has heightened tensions within
Zimbabwe, inviting suspicion that electoral outcomes will be manipulated and
that the Zimbabwean peoples’ peacefully registered political preferences
will be contemptuously discounted.

Already, those who cast their votes in an attempt to authentically register
their political preferences have faced serious obstacle. The elections
themselves were characterised by a denial of equal access to
state-controlled media; widespread voter roll irregularity; the use of state
resources in a manner calculated to influence the outcome of the elections,
such as the stationing of police officers in polling booths; an absence of
independent civic and voter education in the run-up to the elections; and an
undermining of the role of electoral observers through inadequate access and

We are, however, further concerned that the safety and security of
Zimbabweans, not only their vote, is under threat. The increased presence of
security forces throughout the country, intensified activities on the part
of associated quasi-military groups, such as the War Veterans Association,
and the recent arrests of journalists and others associated with civil
society, at best indicate an† attempt to intimidate Zimbabwe’s citizenry, at
worst warn of incipient violence.

SADC leadership, in its mediation efforts in respect of Zimbabwe, have
repeatedly emphasised the centrality of free and fair elections to the
resolution of Zimbabwe’s difficulties. Regional leaders have again and again
called on the Zimbabwean people to solve the crisis for themselves. Those
who cast their ballots on 29 March 2008 sought to bring to fruition both
these calls.

That our regional respective heads of state and government now remain
silent, in the face of increasingly obvious and sustained attempts to
subvert the results of those elections, fails not only the Zimbabwean
people,† but also the continental and regional institutions and initiatives
in which our respective countries have so heavily invested.

We therefore now call upon heads of state and government in SADC to ensure
the following:

1)The immediate release of all outstanding Zimbabwean electoral

2)The adherence to and respect for those electoral results.

3)The immediate cessation of all acts of political violence and

Furthermore, we strongly urge that African governments use bilateral and
multilateral means such as SADC, the AU and the UN to urgently appoint and
dispatch a high-level team of eminent persons to:

Examine and report on reasons for the delay in announcing the results of the
29 March elections and other irregularities, and to provide a framework for
restoring confidence in the vote.

In the event of a run-off in the presidential elections, we call for
regional and continental intervention to ensure:

1) That the run-off is conducted within the framework of Zimbabwe’s
electoral laws, specifically that:

a) That the run-off be held within 21 days of the first election;

b) That the counting of the ballots take place at polling stations (rather
than at a central location which provides room for manipulation and
electoral fraud);

c) That the results of the count be posted at all polling stations, as was
the case in these primary elections.

2) That a mechanism be put in place whereby delays and technical challenges
encountered by the ZEC are given public explanation to avoid a repeat of the
current situation;

3) The presence of electoral observer missions afforded necessary access and

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Zimbabwe's poll commission accepts 5 recounts


Wed 9 Apr 2008, 15:33 GMT

HARARE, April 9 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's electoral commission has accepted a
ruling ZANU-PF request for a recount of votes in five parliamentary
constituencies, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said on Wednesday.

ZANU-PF is trying to overturn the result of an election in which it lost
control of parliament for the first time. Chinamasa said the commission had
rejected seven appeals and nine were pending.

The opposition MDC has a two-seat majority in parliament but a breakaway
faction of the party won another 10 seats and one went to an independent.,t
[ends here]

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SADC steps into the fray

JOHANNESBURG , 9 April 2008 (IRIN) - An extraordinary summit of the
14-member state Southern African Development Community (SADC) is being
scheduled for the weekend of 12 April, to discuss the deteriorating
situation in Zimbabwe following last month's elections.

SADC said in a statement that Zambian president and current chairman of the
regional body, Levy Mwanawasa, was "consulting with his fellow heads of
state and government" on holding the meeting.

The planning come in the wake of mounting international condemnation of
Zimbabwe's failure to publish the results of the 29 March presidential poll,
which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claim President
Robert Mugabe lost, and their leader Morgan Tsvangirai won.

Moeletsi Mbeki, a political economist and the deputy chairman of the South
African Institute of International Affairs, an independent think-tank based
in Johannesburg, said it was unlikely the extraordinary summit would resolve
Zimbabwe's crisis.

"SADC has given ZANU-PF [Zimbabwe's ruling party] comfort to do what it is
doing," he told IRIN.

He said the MDC was not just a threat to ZANU-PF, but also to SADC as it was
representative of civil society and most governments in southern Africa were
"nationalist parties, created by black elites during the colonial era, who
saw themselves as colonial equals. They see themselves as superior to the
black masses."

Mbeki said SADC, of which Angola's MPLA government and South Africa's ruling
ANC party were the regional body's power brokers, had been "ganging-up
against the MDC coming to power" and they were unlikely to "take any action
against Mugabe" at the summit.

The summit was, Mbeki said, not a reaction to Zimbabwe's problems, but
probably a response to pressure from donor nations, "as they [SADC
governments] are very aid dependent, so they are susceptible to pressure".

South African President Thabo Mbeki was appointed mediator last year by SADC
in talks between ZANU-PF and MDC to agree the conditions for free and fair
polls in Zimbabwe. In one of his few public pronouncements since the March
ballot, President Mbeki has urged patience.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, reportedly said on 9 April in
Brussels that, "One thing should be made very clear to Mr Mugabe and his
entourage: the people of Zimbabwe want a change ... They want democracy,
they want freedom."

Australia, the United Nations, Britain and the United States have also
called for the immediate release of the presidential results.

ZANU-PF has been in power since Zimbabwe won its independence from Britain
in 1980, but lost its majority for the first time in parliament following
the recent poll. The MDC has resorted to the courts to force the release of
the presidential results and the presiding judge reportedly said on 9 April
he would release his findings on 14 April.

Tendai Biti, MDC secretary-general, told a media briefing in the capital
Harare on 8 April that there was "a deafening silence by our brothers and
sisters in the region, in the African Union."

"We [Africa] responded poorly in Rwanda and a million people were killed (in
the 1994 genocide)," Biti said. "I say don't wait for dead bodies on the
streets of Harare."

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

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Human Rights Group Calls For Urgent International Action in Zimbabwe


By Joe DeCapua
09 April 2008

A human rights group is calling on the international community – led by the
United Nations – to take urgent action in Zimbabwe. Namibia’s National
Society for Human Rights says it fears the current situation in Zimbabwe
could “unravel and cascade into a crisis with unforeseeable consequences.”

Phil ya Nangoloh is executive director of the group. From Windhoek, he spoke
to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why he believes
Zimbabwe’s population is at risk.

“We have reason to be concerned because increasingly we are receiving
reports from Zimbabwe on the intensification of hostile posturing and other
activities that are warlike activities by pro-Mugabe paramilitary groups.
And we are also receiving reports at the same time that (President) Robert
Mugabe’s regime is cracking down on the press,” he says.

Ya Nangoloh says that the crackdown on the media and civil society may be an
attempt to prevent the international community from learning of potential
“massive human rights violations.”

Regarding his call for international action, ya Nangoloh says, “There is a
new doctrine called “responsibility to protect” that was adopted by the
United Nations and is consecrated in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document
of that organization… And this doctrine is to prevent imminent and massive
violations of human rights and other crises, for example, war crimes,
genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The regime out
there, which was supposed to have the prime responsibility to protect the
population from these excesses, has failed under Robert Mugabe. So, the
international community must act urgently in order to ensure that this will
not happen. And they must act now before it’s too late.”

As for the type of action that might be available to the international
community, the human rights activist says, “I think they can use Chapter 7
of the UN charter coercively to go in, even to send troops on the ground in
Zimbabwe to restore law and order.”

He says precedents for such action can be found in the recent AU military
moves in the Comoros island of Anjouan and the much earlier use of Tanzanian
troops to oust former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Ya Nangoloh also cites the
US invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.

“So, along the same lines this doctrine can be put to test to remove Robert
Mugabe and thereby prevent what might become a massive human rights
violation in that country, which is Zimbabwe,” he says.

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MDC Describes Herald Report On Tsvangirai As 'Illusionary'

SW Radio Africa (London)

9 April 2008
Posted to the web 9 April 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

The state controlled Herald reported on Wednesday that MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai asked Zanu-PF to accommodate him as one of the Vice Presidents in
a government of national unity.

In its front-page article, the paper implies that Tsvangirai's advisors told
him a run-off against the Mugabe might not be in his best interests. Mugabe
has so far refused to allow the electoral commission to release the results
for the presidential election, which analysts believe he lost to Tsvangirai.

Quoting unnamed sources, the Herald alleges that the MDC leader last week
sent Ian Makone, Elton Mangoma and Joe Mtizwa to negotiate with Zanu-PF
officials, Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa, to avert a run-off and make
Tsvangirai one of the country's two Vice Presidents.

The MDC's treasurer-general Elton Mangoma, who won a parliamentary seat in
Makoni central in Manicaland, described the report as 'absolute rubbish.'

'For a start I've never met Chinamasa in my life and if you were to ask him
how I look, he wouldn't know. Therefore I'm not going to comment on yet more
lies peddled by the discredited state media. We now have newsrooms packed
with daydreamers,' Mangoma said.

He added; 'Instead of asking themselves why Mugabe is not releasing the
results and telling the nation that the MDC won the elections, they're
wasting their energy trying to outwit each other in fiction writing.'

The MDC is fully aware of government manoeuvres to try and tamper with the
results to force a rerun against Tsvangirai. Government agents are believed
to be visiting each provincial centre, double-checking figures for the
presidential vote.

'They are free to do so just like we were able to collate our own results
from outside each polling station. But whatever they do it won't change a
thing, because our figures show Tsvangirai won by a wider margin than we
originally thought,' Mangoma said.

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No room for Mugabe in unity Govt: Oppn

ABC Australia

By Foreign Affairs editor Peter Cave

Posted 32 minutes ago
Updated 5 minutes ago

† a.. Audio: Tsvangirai opens door for Zimbabwe power sharing (PM)
Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he is open to forming a
government of national unity with elements of President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party, but there will be no place for Mr Mugabe himself.

Speaking on South African Radio, Mr Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe must move
towards creating a government with space for everyone, one that was more
inclusive than just his party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

But when asked what role Mr Mugabe would have, Mr Tsvangirai said the
84-year-old leader had served long enough.

Mr Tsvangirai was speaking from Botswana, where he met with the country's
President as part of a tour of African countries to seek support.

South African newspapers are reporting that Mr Tsvangirai will meet with
South African President Thabo Mbeki when he returns from an overseas trip
later this week.

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Woza Protest At Bulawayo High Court Over Results Delay

SW Radio Africa (London)

9 April 2008
Posted to the web 9 April 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

Women Of Zimbabwe Arise were on the streets on Wednesday, marching through
Bulawayo's central business district to the High Court.

Coordinator Jenni Williams said the protest march and demonstration were a
surprise for the police who arrived at the High Court after the WOZA women
had dispersed. WOZA are demanding the immediate release of the Presidential
election results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), as part of
their campaign to defend the rights of children.

Williams said about 800 members and ordinary Zimbabweans who joined in, held
placards with messages to ZEC. She added that they did not seek permission
because no law exists that requires them to. "The environment is extremely
repressive. There is no state of emergency but we might as well be living in
one", said the defiant WOZA leader.

At the High Court the protestors displayed their placards and listened to
several speakers. Williams said: "It is not usual for us to address people
at the High Court. Police came well afterwards and all they could do was
arrest the placards and newsletters and take them inside."

Asked if they had any concerns or fears about demonstrating at this time
when the ZEC delay has created tension and police and soldiers are very
visible, Williams said: "That would be playing right into the hands of
Robert Mugabe. We decided we will not be silenced."

The WOZA members have been consistently vocal about critical issues in the
country. Despite being arrested and assaulted on numerous occasions over the
years, the WOZA members have continued their peaceful campaign for what they
call "a dignified life" in Zimbabwe.

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Africa Unscrambled: How to make money in Zimbabwe - get drunk

Independent, UK

By Steve Bloomfield

So what does 100,000 per cent inflation actually mean? Prices go up every
day - the loaf of bread that cost 300,000 Zimbabwean dollars a couple of
months ago costs 5,000,000 Zimbabwean dollars today.

As prices have skyrocketed the Central Bank has frantically printed more
money. When I travelled across the country in December the highest
denomination was Z$200,000 - now it is Z$50,000,000.

The best example comes from South Africa's Business Day. In the middle of
last year, when Zimbabwe's inflation was a mere 5,000 per cent, the
newspaper reported the following investment advice:

† "If you had purchased Z$1million of Time Bank stock a year ago, it would
be worth Z$49 now. With ENG you would have Z$16.50 of the original Z$1m
left. If you had invested in Kondozi Farm you would be left with Z$5 today.
But if you had bought Z$1m worth of beer a year ago and drunk it, you would
stand to pocket a cool Z$140m by just returning the empties now and cashing
in on the deposit."

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