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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mass Action Update

It is difficult to read this early in the strike but in both Bulawayo and
Harare industry is pretty much closed down whilst in the city centers the
banks are mainly closed as are the major retailers. I would have estimated
this morning that commercial closures were about 70 per cent in Bulawayo.
No commuter omnibuses are running and most people are walking if they have
to travel. There are no signs of violence so people are heeding the call by
the ZCTU for this to be a peaceful stay away. In Harare
there is a heavy Police presence - not so in Bulawayo.

Eddie Cross
23rd April 003

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From Crisis Coalition


An independent review of the April Stay Away—

Day One: Wednesday 23 April

In most parts of the country, the first day of the ZCTU-called stay away has been successful.  A few small shops and outlets were open, but almost all major shops, banks and food outlets in Harare were closed, as were many businesses in the industrial areas of the city. 

In other towns,

Bulawayo reported that all banks and major shops were closed.  Despite arrests and intimidation of ZCTU officials before the stay away, the situation was largely quiet.

 Chegutu reported a largely successful stay away, with banks and most shops closed.  The major grocery outlets were open, but indicated that they may close tomorrow (24 April).

 Chinhoyi reported that the banks were closed, but many shops were open.

 Chitungwiza reported strong participation in the stay away, with most businesses, shops and banks closed and most transport suspended.

 Gweru reports were mixed.  There was, however, an unconfirmed report that the ZCTU officials who were arrested in Gweru on Tuesday had been released.

 Karoi reports indicate that many shops were closed in the morning, but later opened after shop keepers were intimidated into opening.  The ZCTU hopes that this situation will be resolved by tomorrow, and that most businesses will observe the action.

 Masvingo reported that the stay away was observed in the morning, with most businesses being closed.  However, by lunch time most companies were open, because many managers had been instructed by members of the ruling party to open.  In one instance, there were reports that a bank manager’s home was being sought by members of the ruling party, so that they could visit him at home and force him to open.  Officials from the ZCTU in this area have communicated with the workers there, however, and hope that tomorrow the action will be more successful.

 Mutare reported mixed participation, in a relatively peaceful atmosphere.  There was one unconfirmed report that police had been to the home of MDC Member of Parliament Giles Mutsekwa, in an effort to take him for questioning.  He was not home at the time, however, and is believed to be out of custody.

 Overall, reports indicate that the first day of the strike was calm and peaceful.  There were many roadblocks in the major towns, and a strong police presence particularly in Bulawayo and Harare, but so far at least few reports of violence or arrest. 

Keep Looking Up! 

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Dear All
There has been a surge in the number of Landcruisers that have been hijacked over the past 6 weeks, both in Harare and Bulawayo. 
Another one was hijacked in Piers Rd, Borrowdale at lunch time today (Weds). It is white and the Reg. No. is 765 355G, it belongs to Mr. Steven Corbett. We have advised VTS by email of this hijacking which has been reported to Borrowdale Police. We have asked the Police to comment on these incidents but so far they have not. To all owners of Landcruisers and Toyota Twincabs, please be very aware and alert at all times.  
There is an ad in today's Daily News offering a Z$10 million reward for the return of a hijacked Mercedes MM 55 SS which was hijacked in Highlands on Easter Sunday. Although we fully understand the need for owners to get their vehicles back no matter what, offering these kinds of rewards merely encourages hijackers to commit further offences. If you own these sort of expensive vehicles it would be better to fit aanti hijack device or install satellite tracking in the car, both options considerably less than $10 million and you get the car back anyway.
 Take care
Mary van Heerden - Anti Hijack Trust.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

From DPA, 22 April

Police arrest union officials ahead of national stoppage

Harare - Police have arrested five officials of the national labour movement
in a clampdown ahead of a three-day national stoppage planned for Wednesday,
union officials said Tuesday. A spokesman for the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions said its chairman had been arrested Monday for handing out leaflets
urging workers to join the stoppage, called in protest against massive fuel
price increases announced last week. Another three officials were arrested
in the western city of Bulawayo Tuesday morning, also for distributing
leaflets, the spokesman said, although one of them was later released. "More
arrests are expected as the police are in possession of a list of names of
the executive" of the movement, the spokesman said. Police comment was not
immediately available. Observers say the fuel price increases - of up to 308
per cent for petrol - announced on Wednesday last week take ordinary
Zimbabweans' exasperation with President Robert Mugabe's government to new
heights. Inflation is running at 228 per cent, joblessness is at a record of
over 60 percent and people have to spend days in queues, often in vain, for
basics like petrol, maizemeal - Zimbabweans staple diet, bread and sugar.
The government has ignored the union's demands to reverse the fuel price
increases. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena warned on state radio today
that the strike was "illegal" in terms of repressive security legislation.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo said Tuesday that it meant transport now
consumed 80 per cent of workers' take-home pay. "We do not believe there is
any company capable of paying any minimum wage as triggered by the fuel
price increase," he said. "One needs to be totally mad and very cruel to
support such an increase.Zimbabwe has become a dangerous place to live in."

A national stayaway organised by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change last month shut down the country for two days, and was followed by a
wave of violence as groups, made up mostly of soldiers, roamed the townships
of Harare, picked up MDC organisers and subjected them to savage beatings
and torture. About 600 people were arrested in the aftermath of the MDC
action. The party says it is planning a major but peaceful campaign of
"people's power" to try and force Mugabe to resign from office. Last month
the 79-year-old despot ignored an ultimatum from the MDC to restore the
country to the rule of law or face "mass action." He said the MDC leadership
would be "consumed in the fire." On Monday night he said in a rare publicly
broadcast interview that "the majority of people are a happy lot, despite
the hardships they are going through," and promised that the regime was
"overcoming" the difficulties. Economists, however, say there is no sign the
government is doing anything to end the crisis. In a new development
expected to drastically worsen the situation, the Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority warned at the weekend that it had been forced to introduce
daily power cuts all over the country. "The load-shedding has come about
because there is insufficient generation to meet demand as a result of
curtailment measures adopted by our external suppliers due to non-payment."
ZESA is in arrears of 20 million dollars on payments to power utilities in
South Africa, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Experts
warn that local output, dominated by the coal-burning Hwange power station
in north-west Zimbabwe, is under threat because coal mining operations are
stricken by critical shortages of spares and fuel.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe industry hit by strike

By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean armed police have mounted roadblocks and
patrols as a three-day strike by the main labour movement gets under way,
but there has been no sign of the violence which marked last month's two-day
opposition strike.

The strike, in protest at fuel price rises, closed shops and companies in
the industrial centres of the main cities on Wednesday although some banks
and offices in the capital Harare's central business district were open and
traffic in the city centre moved freely.

Union officials said the stoppage was gaining momentum.

"At the end of the three days I think you are going to see that the level of
support will have been quite high," said the official, who declined to be

Backed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the strike is
the second against President Robert Mugabe in just over a month and
increased pressure on a government facing its worst political and economic
crisis since independence in 1980.

Zimbabwe faces soaring unemployment and shortages of fuel, foreign exchange
and food, which many blame on Mugabe's policies. Annual inflation hit a
record 228 percent in March.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) launched the latest stoppage in
protest at a trebling of fuel prices, saying action may continue
indefinitely if the rises were not reversed.

The government says fuel price rises, pushing petrol to Z$450 (35 pence) a
litre from $145 (11 pence), were needed to help improve fuel imports.
Supplies are scarce because Libya halted shipments last year when a barter
deal collapsed.

The Commercial and Industrial Workers' Union estimates an industrial worker
earning an average Z$25,000 a month (19 pounds at the official exchange rate
or 12 pounds at black market rates) would now need to spend 60 percent of it
on transport.

The government has denounced the strike as a bid by the MDC and the unions
to cripple the economy to try and topple Mugabe.

Labour Minister July Moyo told state television on Tuesday the government,
unions and business were working on wage rises.

A similar strike called by the MDC last month shut down an estimated 80
percent of industry and became one of the largest protests against Mugabe's
23-year rule. It triggered a crackdown on the opposition by Mugabe's
security forces.

Armed police on Wednesday mounted roadblocks and patrolled townships, some
of which were hit by violence during the last strike.

A lawyer in Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo said police were questioning
eight union officials there over the latest strike, which police declared
illegal. But he said technically they were not under arrest and it was
unclear whether they would be locked up or charged.

Police officials were unavailable for comment. Earlier this week police said
they would be on guard for any disturbances.

In Bulawayo, a local newspaper reporter said many businesses opened on
Wednesday morning but closed later on.

"What happened here is that some people initially went to work and then they
returned home after realising others were not going to turn up," he said. In
the eastern border city of Mutare, residents said the majority of businesses
never opened.

The government-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said some
company executives locked out workers and some private transport owners had
withdrawn their buses to boost the strike.

The MDC says Mugabe rigged last year's presidential election and has vowed
to lead street protests to drive him from office.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

      Union leaders arrested in first day of strike
      IRINnews Africa, Wed 23 Apr 2003

      ©  IRIN

      Tensions reportedly high in the capital Harare

      JOHANNESBURG, - Police on Wednesday arrested eight trade union leaders
on the first day of a three-day strike called to protest fuel price
increases and hyper-inflation in Zimbabwe.

      The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) orchestrated the
stay-away with the support of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change

      ZCTU general-secretary Wellington Chibebe told IRIN on Wednesday that
among the eight trade union leaders held in Bulawayo was the ZCTU's second
vice president, Elias Mlotshwa. "We understand they're still in custody,"
Chibebe said.

      Agence France Presse reported there was mixed response to the strike
in the capital Harare. Many people who reported for work found their
workplaces shut. Others failed to make it to work because many privately
operated bus services did not run on Wednesday.

      However, the Associated Press (AP) reported that banks, factories and
stores across Zimbabwe were forced to close when workers heeded the call to
strike. AP reported that tensions ran high as police manned roadblocks on
main highways and troops patrolled impoverished townships in eastern Harare.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Harare comes to a standstill
23/04/2003 15:57  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's capital Harare was shut down on Wednesday - for the
second time in a month - by industrial action in protest against President
Robert Mugabe's government.

It was like a Sunday in the inner city and suburban shopping centres, with
most banks, supermarkets and shops closed. About the only signs of activity
were in petrol queues outside service stations and at fast-food outlets.

At the transport terminus in the city centre, only a small fraction the
fleet of commuter minibuses that usually ferry most of the city's working
population to work were operating.

Bus services from Harare's surrounding townships, where most of the city's
inhabitants live, were down to a handful. Some people could be seen walking
to work.

Troops were reported to be on patrol in some townships, while police
roadblocks were set up on major arteries into Harare, but traffic was thin
and officers appeared to be letting most vehicles through without
obstruction. An air force helicopter was deployed to monitor the situation.

By midday, there had been no reports of incidents.

Industrial areas were mostly deserted. Executives said a small portion of
their staff turned up for work and most operations had to be shut down.

The stayaway was called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in a
protest against price increases last week of up to 305% for petrol.

The union said price increases had made transport consume 80% of workers'
take-home pay.

The union's action followed a national shutdown called by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last month which paralysed the country
for two days, to back demands for Mugabe to resign and to restore the rule
of law.

The ZCTU urged workers to stay at home to avoid victimisation by

Police said on Tuesday the action was illegal.

At least four senior union officials have been arrested since Monday, but
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo said on Wednesday: "We know they will arrest
us but we are not worried, since we are fighting for a genuine cause."

A state-owned radio station said: "Thousands of workers, eager to go to
work, are being prevented by the unavailability of transport. Shops are
closed because workers are locked out."

The ZCTU's action precedes a campaign of "people's power" by the MDC in a
bid to force Mugabe to resign, and to have a transitional government set up
to be followed by internationally supervised elections.

The MDC had not yet set a date for the mass action, which Mugabe has said
would see the MDC leadership "consumed by... fire."

Zimbabweans are experiencing inflation at 228%, famine in some rural areas,
shortages of basic commodities in towns and cities, and unemployment at 65%.

Fuel shortages over the last three years were expected to be complemented
soon by electricity cuts after power utilities in South African, Mozambican
and the Democratic Republic of Congo decided to reduce supplies to Zimbabwe
for non-payment.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Times (SA)

Zimbabwe still can't feed itself

Although Zimbabwe's forthcoming maize harvest is expected to be better than
last year's, the country will still not be able to feed itself, the United
Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said.

"Even the most optimistic forecast (shows) that Zimbabwe won't be producing
enough food this harvest to feed themselves," WFP Zimbabwe spokesman Luis
Clemens said in Johannesburg.

Zimbabwe used to produce about two million tons of maize annually.

Some government officials expect the production to be around 1,5-million
tons this year.

Some areas, like Matabeleland South, would virtually have no harvest, he

Due to the better maize harvest, the WFP will be reducing its food aid to
the southern African country over the next few months.

In March the WFP fed about 4,7-million Zimbabweans in 48 of the country's 57

About the same number would be fed in April, but less food was needed,
Clemens said.

The food includes maize, which is the country's staple diet, beans,
vegetable oil and a high-energy corn-soya blend.

He said the WFP would provide significantly less food in May and June as the
harvest - usually in April - would occur later this year due to late rains.

"Because there will be a greater presence of food, more Zimbabweans will be
able to feed themselves."

The WFP was still establishing how much food it would deliver during this
period, Clemens said.

The WFP is currently involved in two assessments to determine how much food
aid is needed in Zimbabwe - and where - and what the country's capacity is
to feed itself.

The findings of the Vulnerability Assessment Committee should be released
next month.

Clemens said figures on those needing food in the country often differed,
but the WFP estimated about 7,2-million Zimbabweans were currently in need
of aid.

Zimbabwe has a population of around 11,6-million.

Asked what the solution to the severe food shortages would be, Clemens said
the WFP wanted the private sector to become involved in the import of maize
and wheat.

In 2001, the Zimbabwean government gave the parastatal Grain Marketing Board
a monopoly on buying and selling maize and wheat in  the country.

He said the price controls on maize and wheat should be lifted, and the
grains sold at market price.

Electricity, food and fuel are in short supply in Zimbabwe and most citizens
are not able to afford the commodities.

Inflation has reached 228 percent and the government almost trebled the pump
price of petrol last week.

However, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo reportedly said the government
was looking at certain measures, including a review of salaries, to cushion
workers from the latest fuel price increases.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has blamed the food shortages and other
economic problems on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

"What's the cause of the shortages? Isn't it the opposition that is calling
on the international community for sanctions?" he asked during a television
interview to mark the anniversary of the country's independence from

Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of Africa, and Clemens said he hoped
the food situation would return to normal.

"The WFP... used to buy food in Zimbabwe for needy other countries, we would
like to go back there," he concluded.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Star

      Too little too late, perhaps?
      April 23, 2003

      By the Editor

      Last weekend, Zimbabweans were supposed to have celebrated 23 years of
their independence from British colonial rule. But with their hard-won human
rights becoming a distant memory under the misrule of President Robert
Mugabe, they have little to celebrate.

      In fact, Zimbabweans are now a nation in mourning. They mourn because
of the brutal repression of the police, the suppression of the media, the
critical shortage of food, lack of fuel, rising costs of living and the
hyper-inflation that has hit more than 200%.

      Most of these problems could be traced to the controversial
land-reform programme that started about three years ago. The near collapse
of commercial farming has fuelled unemployment and hunger for hundreds of
thousands of farm labourers. Almost half the population has been surviving
on food grants donated by international groups.

      But with all these problems, the most shocking statement was uttered
by Mugabe last week, when he finally admitted that the country was in a
crisis. Where has the old man been living? Clearly, if he was in touch with
his people, he would have realised that the crisis he has only just
discovered has in fact become a catastrophe.

      More importantly, though, is what Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF are
prepared to do to get Zimbabwe out of its political and economic dungeon.

      So far, Mugabe's regime appears to be unwilling or unable to end the
suffering of the people who have to pay an equivalent of up to R3 200, more
than six times the salary of a teacher, for 50 litres of petrol. Basic food
stuff is unaffordable to most people.

      For our part, we can only hope that the admission by Mugabe that his
country is in a crisis will change his attitude. We hope that he will move
away from the rhetoric of blaming everything on Britain and America and
begin to admit to the failures of his policies.

      But above all, Zimbabweans should take their future into their own
hands and demand change.
Back to the Top
Back to Index




zvakwana - sokwanele - enough is enough

SUPPORT the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and stayaway from 23rd
April - 25th April 2003

Zvakwana congratulates the ZCTU for rallying its members and the people of
Zimbabwe, to show the mugabe regime that enough is enough by calling for a
national stayaway. It is very apparent that a broad cross section of our
society has had their fill of abuse.

It is clear to all but a select few that runaway inflation, "poverty datum
line" wages and massive unemployment are due to the political crisis in
Zimbabwe. Nothing can move forward without the critical issue of governance
being addressed. Messing with parts of the economy, such as the panic
stricken increase of fuel prices, will go nowhere in the absence of
investors' confidence.

The regime should make way for a competent government that has the people
of Zimbabwe at heart and that understands the socio-economic dynamics of a
developing and democratic country.

Zvakwana, who draws much of is membership from the working class, ask the
employers to show support for this call to action by closing their doors.
It will be assumed that those that remain open can afford to meet the
burgeoning costs of running a business, including paying wages that stay
ahead of inflation.

It is likely that those that remain open will be the first to be lobbied to
meet a significant wage increase.
As with the previous actions Zvakwana will have activists monitoring the
situation on the ground.

We are in this together.

Justice for Agriculture mailing list
To subscribe/unsubscribe: Please write to
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Mugabe says mining, manufacturing sectors next after land seizures

April 23, 2003 7:18am

President Robert Mugabe says the government-led economic empowerment will
extend to other sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing and mining,
after agriculture.

He said the government's major achievements in the past 23 years of
independence is land redistribution, but problems have been in the mining
and manufacturing sectors.

President Mugabe said this while speaking during a televised Newsnet
interview. He urged Zimbabweans to endure the current challenges, since the
future of the country is promising. He said drought and cyclones that
ravaged the country over the past few years could not have been prevented,
and the suffering which ensued as a result of the natural disasters is not a
result of bad governance.

The president also said that the government wants to have good relations
with all countries, including those calling for sanctions against Zimbabwe.
He however pointed out that the country will not let outsiders run the
affairs of the country, adding that he is not prepared to be subjected to
outside rule.

President Mugabe said he is delighted that the land has finally been
returned to its rightful owners, the blacks.

He added that, with the land now in the hands of indigenious Zimbabaweans,
there is going to be an improvement in people's lives, and the [word
indistinct] status that comes with independent people.

Source: ZBC Radio 3FM, Harare, in English 0400 gmt 23 Apr 03
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe Public Coin Phones to be Scrapped
Tendai Maphosa
23 Apr 2003, 13:16 UTC

In Zimbabwe, the telecommunications utility has announced that it is
decommissioning all public coin-operated telephones, a move that will
seriously inconvenience millions of Zimbabweans for whom the phone booths
are an important means of communication.

In a press statement, the phone company Tel.One says it is taking the phones
out of service because the company that made them has declared they are
obsolete. This makes it impossible to obtain spare parts to maintain the

The decommissioning of the coin phones comes at a time when hundreds of
thousands of Zimbabwean domestic and business consumers are on the waiting
list for a private telephone.

A Tel.One engineer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says the current
telephone exchanges are fully subscribed and applicants can only get a
number if another subscriber gives it up. He says some people have been on
the waiting list for more than five years and depend heavily on coin phones.

The engineer says the capacity of the telephone exchanges cannot be
increased because the equipment would have to be bought with foreign
currency, which is in short supply in Zimbabwe.

Public phones operated by phone cards will continue to operate, but the
cards people buy to pay for their calls are imported, and the foreign
currency shortage makes it difficult to get them.

Mobile phones have proved to be popular since the service became available
in Zimbabwe in the late 1990s. But they are an option the majority of
Zimbabweans cannot afford.

Tel.One says it plans to set up phone shops to provide service to people who
do not have their own phones. There are nine such shops operating across the
country. But the Tel.One engineer says the effort to open more is also
hampered by lack of foreign currency, and they are likely to be far less
convenient than were the public phones that are soon to be inoperative.

Even if the coin-operated phones could be maintained, Tel.One says there is
another problem with them. The utility says that the Zimbabwean five dollar
coin, the largest in circulation, is too small to pay for a basic phone
call. In fact, five of the coins are needed to pay for a three minute local
call, priced at 40 U.S. cents at the official exchange rate. The phones'
coin boxes fill quickly and must be emptied frequently, and Tel.One says
that makes them uneconomical to operate.

Government owned Tel.One has enjoyed a monopoly since the introduction of
the telephone to Zimbabwe. But this is to change before the end of the year,
when newly licensed private company Tele Access starts operating.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      23 Apr 2003 18:31:34 GMT
      After messy Nigeria polls, Africa's case weaker


By Nicholas Kotch

LAGOS, April 23 (Reuters) -- Nigeria's shoddy elections are a setback for
attempts to cement democracy in Africa and to attract substantially greater
foreign investment, analysts said on Wednesday.

President Olusegun Obasanjo's standing as a spokesman for the continent had
been weakened by the manner of his re-election, they said in interviews.

"We are saddened that the allegations of vote-rigging will dent Obasanjo's
credibility for the next four years," Emmanuel Bompande, a Ghana-based
specialist in African conflict resolution, said.

"What do you do when the superpower in the West African sub-region is itself
involved in this sort of thing?"

In unusually blunt language, European Union poll observers described last
weekend's presidential elections as "marred by serious irregularities and

The largest Nigerian observer groups, as well as teams sent by two
experienced U.S. institutes, were also critical.

Official results of a series of elections gave Obasanjo and his ruling
Peoples Democratic Party a firm grip over the presidency, state
governorships and parliament. Obasanjo ignored criticisms and said the polls
had boosted Nigeria's democracy.

"If this kind of election had been held in the United Kingdom or the United
States it would be considered a disaster," said Ross Herbert of the South
African Institute of International Affairs.

"You can only say it was a success by Nigerian standards."


As the elected leader since 1999 of Africa's most populous state and the
world's eighth biggest oil exporter, Obasanjo has criss-crossed the globe
promoting the continent.

With South African President Thabo Mbeki he is the engine behind NEPAD, the
New Partnership for Africa's Development.

The plan offers a deal to the Group of Eight richest nations: Africa will
tackle corruption, fake elections and human rights abuses in return for
massive foreign investment.

But NEPAD has already taken a big hit in the corridors of power of Western
governments and corporations.

Led by Mbeki, Africa has protected Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
against an outcry in most G8 countries over his ruthless treatment of
political opponents and white commercial farmers as well as a flawed
presidential election in 2002.

Mbeki, as chairman of the 53-nation African Union, congratulated Obasanjo on
Wednesday and said he was encouraged that AU observers in Nigeria had
reported that "on the whole, the elections...were conducted in a congenial

At the core of the NEPAD sales pitch is something called the African Peer
Review Mechanism, a still nebulous framework for eminent Africans to assess
how well a given government is performing in terms of political and economic

Obasanjo, whose election in 1999 ended 15 years of military rule in Nigeria,
promoted the idea.

But now that Nigeria's main opposition parties are accusing him of
organising the biggest electoral fraud in the country's history, will
Obasanjo -- a former military ruler himself -- voluntarily submit his
actions to such intrusive scrutiny?

Analysts say there is zero chance of the African Union or the Economic
Community of West African States applying any public pressure on Obasanjo to
accept fresh ballots in the worst areas of fraud.


In oil-rich Rivers state, to take the most glaring example, the electoral
commission reported a 96 percent turnout despite a widely observed boycott
called by the opposition.

"Some of the results we have received are very disturbing," a senior African
Union official said from its headquarters in Ethiopia.

"There are big implications for Africa -- if Nigeria cannot get it right we
will have to submit to lower standards across the continent," said the
official, who declined to be named.

"What moral authority will Nigeria have to speak out?"

The test could come in June in Togo when the small West African state is due
to hold its own presidential election. The incumbent for the past 36 years,
Gnassingbe Eyadema, has changed the constitution to allow him to stand
again, if he chooses.

Guinea and Liberia are also gearing up for polls this year. Both are
involved in a worsening rash of conflicts in West Africa.

The concern among some analysts is that Nigeria, the region's big brother,
will add to the instability because its own elections may aggravate ethnic
and religious tensions that have cost 10,000 lives since 1999.

"Obasanjo must make things right by at least repeating elections where fraud
was rampant," said Bompande, head of the West African Network for
Back to the Top
Back to Index