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

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      Businessman interrogated for heeding stayaway call

      4/25/03 7:07:26 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      THE police on Wednesday released without charge, Mick Davis, the
managing director of a clothing shop in Harare, and his manager, Martin
Mkaka, after an hour's interrogation at Harare Central Police Station.

      Davis was taken to the police station following a misunderstanding
with Joseph Chinotimba, the vice-president of the Zanu PF-backed Zimbabwe
Federation of Trade Unions, for allegedly closing his shop during the
ZCTU-organised mass stayaway which ends today.

      The police confirmed the incident but refused to give details over the

      Chinotimba allegedly stormed into Davis' shop and accused him of
heeding the mass stayaway.

      Yesterday, Davis said his workers were doing a routine stock-take when
a group of people knocked at the door pretending they wanted to buy some

      He said: "Chinotimba, accompanied by six youths, stormed into my shop
and shouted at me asking why we were not open.

      "I told him we were open and attending to customers but he would not
hear of it."

      Davis said Chinotimba became aggressive and accused him of "destroying
the country" and ordered him to "go back to England".

      "I told him I had big business contracts in the country and would not
go anywhere," he said. "John Nkomo and Nicholas Goche know me and I have
good relations with them."

      Nkomo is the Minister of Special Affairs in the President's Office
while Goche heads the Ministry of National Security.

      Davis said he phoned Nkomo, and then handed the telephone to
Chinotimba so that he could talk to the minister.

      Davis said he did not hear what the two discussed but a police vehicle
later arrived and took them to Harare Central Police Station.

      Nkomo said he was in Bulawayo attending a funeral and would not be
drawn to shed any light on the incident.

      Davis' lawyer, Godfrey Mamvura, later went to the police station in
the company of another lawyer but by the time they arrived, their client had
been released without charge.
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      War vets shun Independence celebrations

      4/25/03 7:09:05 AM (GMT +2)

      From Ntungamili Nkomo in Bulawayo

      SOME war veterans in Bulilima's Madlambudzi area last week snubbed the
Independence Day celebrations, saying there was nothing to celebrate because
the nation was facing a major food crisis.

      The festivities, normally organised by war veterans, did not take
place this year after the ex-fighters allegedly resolved that there could be
no celebrations as people faced starvation.

      Makhwi Dube, an organising committee member, said the war veterans had
resolved to shun the event in protest against President Mugabe's regime.

      "To us, Independence celebrations are a thing of the past, and this
year there is absolutely nothing to celebrate.

      "Why should anyone be seen hailing the so-called fruits of total
emancipation when people are suffering like this?" said Dube.

      She said that the war veterans were incensed by Mugabe's leadership
and were calling for his resignation.

      The Madlambudzi area is an MDC stronghold and has a few but vibrant
Zanu PF supporters who have launched a massive witch-hunt on MDC supporters
since the 2000 parliamentary election.

      Other villagers who spoke to The Daily News said the degree of
suffering has reached alarming levels.

      Lizzy Ngwenya said Independence Day had lost meaning to them.

      "Gone are the days when Independence Day used to have significance.
Nowadays there is absolutely nothing to cherish as the suffering that we are
subjected to is equal to, if not more than, that we went through under the
regime of Ian Smith," she said.

      Leonard Moyo concurred with Ngwenya, saying the hunger they were
grappling with and the constant harassment by Zanu PF members was just too

      "All is not well, people are starving, some live in fear of harassment
by Zanu PF supporters. There is no freedom at all," Moyo said.

      Zimbabwe celebrated its 23rd Independence anniversary amid allegations
of rampant human rights abuses against suspected opponents of Mugabe's

      The country is also facing a severe hunger with more than six million
people in need of food aid.

      The situation has been worsened by the government's chaotic land
reform programme that has virtually destroyed the commercial agriculture
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      Commuter bus operators ignore new fares

      4/25/03 7:05:34 AM (GMT +2)

      By Sam Munyavi

      Commuter bus crews yesterday largely ignored the new fares announced
by the government saying it should reduce the price of fuel, particularly
petrol, first.

      They said the government was using them to subsidise commuters.

      The new fares announced on Wednesday night are $60 for a journey of up
to 6km, $100 for that between 6,1 km and 10 km, $200 for 10,1 km to 20km,
and $300 for 21,1 km to 35 km.

      Commuter train fares increased from $30 to $60 a single journey.

      Yesterday commuters complained that operators had adopted a "take it
or leave it" attitude as they refused to reduce fares to the new levels.

      Commuter bus operators doubled, and in some cases, trebled their fares
when the government increased fuel prices by up to 350 percent.

      Andrew Kaverenga, a driver on the City-Highlands route, said: "The
price of petrol has not come down, yet the government wants us to reduce
fares. They should reduce the price of petrol first."

      Oliver Muchemwa, a rank marshal at the Rezende Street bus terminus,
said: "Everyone is suffering. We sympathise with the commuters because we
also use commuter buses to go to our various homes after work and pay the
same fares. The government should reduce the fuel prices first. That is
where the problem is."

      Lovemore Matombo, the ZCTU president, said the labour body which
called for the mass stayaway in the face of the steep price increases, would
continue to press for a reduction of fuel prices despite the new lower

      "We do not believe it will improve the workers' lot in any way. The
amount workers spend on transport is still quite high. They will still be
forking out between 20 and 50 percent of their income.

      "Transport costs should be below two percent of a worker's take-home
pay. As long as they remain above two percent we will continue to press for
a reversal of the fuel price increases," Matombo said.

      In Dzivaresekwa, Harare, yesterday, some bus crews reportedly dropped
off passengers at their pick-up points after they refused to pay the old
fare of $300. The new fare is $200.

      The police reportedly ordered drivers to refund passengers who had
been overcharged and ticketed the offenders.
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      Postal rates going up

      4/25/03 6:53:20 AM (GMT +2)

      Business Reporter

      POSTAL rates will go up by as much as 650 percent with effect from
next month.

      An official with Zimbabwe Post (Zimpost) said the increases were
necessitated by rising operational costs and the depreciation of the local

      This has been exacerbated by increases in transport costs and mail
conveyance fees.

      Zimpost, which is a product of the de-merger of the Postal and
Telecommunications Corporation, last increased postal rates in June last

      Postal charges for letters within Zimbabwe went up by 66,6 percent,
while massive increases of up to 600 percent were effected on mail destined
for the rest of the world.

      Consumers will now pay $100 for letters weighing up to 20 grammes,
whose destination is within Zimbabwe.

      Rates for printed papers, postcards, library books and newspapers will
vary between $100 and $670 for those weighing 20g and up to two kilogrammes.

      Letters weighing up to 20g and destined within Africa will attract
charges of $300 up from last year's $40, while those above a kilogram would
cost as much as $2 400.

      Mail sent to Europe and the rest of the world attracts rates ranging
from $400 to as high as $5 990.

      Market watchers said the new tariffs would filter down the rest of the
economy in the form of increased overheads.

      Most companies, particularly those in the retail sector, rely on
postal services for communication.
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      Farmers stay away from tobacco auction floors

      4/25/03 6:52:05 AM (GMT +2)

      Business Reporter

      TOBACCO auction floors were virtually deserted yesterday, as farmers
joined the ZCTU-organised mass stayaway, which started on Wednesday.

      Auctioneers said most farmers, who had booked tobacco on the second
day of the marketing season, failed to deliver the crop.

      Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre general manager Feisal Greenland said
farmers were also experiencing problems in sourcing fuel, while others were
still reaping their tobacco.

      The grading of tobacco was delayed because of poor rains, which
inhibited plant growth.

      Greenland said: "We had a quiet day and we only sold 100 bales during
the second day of the season. About 2 000 bales had been booked for sale,
but no deliveries were made."

      The Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), which had booked 450 bales, sold 400

      TSF general manager Giles Watson said: "Volumes are still low, but
there are indications that volumes could pick up, as bookings for day three
have increased to 1 000 bales."

      Burley Marketing Zimbabwe managing director Bruce Searls said a record
300 bales were offered for sale yesterday. "Only 80 bales have been booked
for sale for day three," Searls said.

      While deliveries were lower than the first day, prices remained firm
ranging from US$2,39 a kilogramme (Z$1 912/kg) to US$2,50/kg (Z$2 000/kg).

      Zimbabwe is expecting a flue-cured tobacco crop of between 110 million
and 120 million kg, down from an output of 168 million kg last year.

      The low production this year is attributed to the chaotic land reform
programme that has forced thousands of commercial farmers off their land.
About 500 000 farm workers lost their jobs as a result of the farm

      Tobacco normally contributes about 31 percent of Zimbabwe's foreign
currency earnings.
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      MP calls for a new electoral law

      4/25/03 7:06:12 AM (GMT +2)

      From Sydney Saize in Vumba

      HILDA Mafudze, the MP for Mhondoro (MDC), has said Zimbabwe's
electoral law is in dire need of reform to conform to the aspirations of
civic society.

      Mafudze, who presenting a paper on the electoral systems in Zimbabwe
and the need for harmonisation of electoral processes at a three-day
workshop held in Vumba this week, said several aspects of the electoral law
were in need of reform.

      "The Office of the Registrar-General wields enormous powers. The RG
has extensive powers, functions and responsibilities in the general
conducting, supervising and the running of elections in Zimbabwe, which is
undue," said Mafudze.

      She said the RG's Office is part of the civil service and cannot be
independent of the government of the day.

      "Employees of the State are amenable to the illegitimate pressures
exerted by the ruling politicians.

      "There should, therefore, be an independent electoral commission," the
MP said.

      Mafudze said the President has a host of functions in relation to the
electoral process, which makes him one of the key institutions involved in

      "The President appoints members of various commissions which, in turn,
influences the extent of the democratic process of running an election.

      "The President has constitutional responsibilities of dissolving
Parliament and fixing election dates. The latter has been of concern as
dates are announced late causing confusion to political parties and their
candidates," she said.

      The right to vote should be explicitly provided for in the Bill of
Rights as it is vital in any vibrant democracy, she said.

      "The conduct of the election process must be placed in the hands of an
independent electoral commission to remove suspicion of manipulation,"
Mafudze said.

      She said there was also a need for the establishment of a special
electoral court to expediently deal with election petitions challenging poll

      The three-day workshop was organised by the Centre for Peace
Initiative in Africa (CPIA).

      CPIA was established in February 2001 to promote peace, stability and
security in Africa, through conflict prevention, resolution, peace-building,
post-conflict reconstruction and peace maintenance.

      It also seeks to promote a culture of tolerance in the continent and
to promote dialogue among stakeholders, leading to political and economic
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      Increased border patrols fail to deter smuggling

      4/25/03 7:07:57 AM (GMT +2)

      From Celeste Muyambo in Mutare

      ILLEGAL cross-border trading in basic commodities continues unabated,
despite intensified border patrols along Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique,
police in Mutare said on Wednesday.

      Edmund Maingire, the police spokesperson in Manicaland, attributed the
illegal trading to the deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe.

      Maingire said: "Cases of smuggling will continue for as long as the
economy keeps depreciating."

      A growing number of residents in Mutare, many of them jobless and
whose prospects for employment are bleak, have turned to cross-border
trading to make ends meet.

      The illegal traders smuggle bread, soft drinks, beer, cooking oil,
sugar and paraffin - which are also in short supply in Mozambique.

      The government has blamed the illegal traders for creating shortages
of basic commodities in Mutare's supermarkets because they bought the items
in bulk.

      Maingire said the Mozambicans, on the other hand, sold second-hand
clothing, rice and, in some instances, hard drugs in Zimbabwe.

      Said Maingire: "We have observed an increase in the number of
Mozambicans involved in the smuggling of goods into our country."

      The police, he said, would continue to confiscate goods illegally
brought into the country or smuggled out by cross-border traders.

      Zimbabwean security forces patrolling the border have in the past been
criticised by Mozambican authorities for ill-treating their nationals.
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      Soldiers force shops to open

      4/25/03 7:12:03 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporters

      Heavily armed soldiers and police reportedly forced all shops in
Masvingo to open yesterday as 16 ZCTU activists arrested in Bulawayo and
Gweru on Wednesday were still being held in police custody.

      Most businesses in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Gweru remained closed
for the second day as workers continued to heed the ZCTU's call to embark on
a three-day job stayaway to protest against massive fuel price increases of
up to 350 percent imposed by the government last week.

      In Bulawayo nearly all the members of the ZCTU executive, and other
officials, were arrested on Wednesday.

      They included Elias Mlotshwa, the ZCTU's second vice-president, Percy
Mcijo, Albert Gwala, Ambrose Manenji, Nkosi Dube, Nkoselwa Ncube, Reason
Ngwenya, two men only identified as Mpofu and Augustine, and a Mrs Mthunzi,
a secretary.

      Tawengwa Hara, their lawyer, said the police appeared reluctant to
take them to court.

      He said: "If the situation remains the same, I will have to apply to
the High Court for their release."

      Hara said his clients were being charged under the Public Order and
Security Act.

      There were no reports of violence as uniformed police patrolled the
city centre and the suburbs in twos and fours.

      Eight ZCTU activists arrested in Gweru early on Wednesday morning were
still detained at Gweru Central Police Station yesterday, without being

      Reginald Chidawanyika, their lawyer, said: "The police have alleged
that my clients telephoned several companies in Gweru and ordered them to
close for the duration of the stayaway."

      He said he had only been allowed access to Lingiwe Masawi, Charles
Chikozho, Angela Hofisi, Simon Hamadziripi, Walter Masimure and Michael

      Chidawanyika said: "The police have not yet formally charged them, and
have not allowed me access to the other two."

      Heavily-armed police were deployed in the city centre and residential
areas as the stayaway continued.

      In Marondera, three senior workers at Farm-a-Rama were arrested by the
police and taken for questioning.

      One of the officials, who declined to be named, said: "We were asked
why we were closed and we told them our workers had not reported for work
yesterday and today. They released us after our lawyer asked what they were
going to charge us with."

      In Harare there was an increased number of commuter omnibuses as
operators appeared to yield to a threat by the government that their permits
would be cancelled if they did not resume operations.

      But most refused to charge the new lower fares announced by the
government on Wednesday night, saying it should first reduce last week's
fuel price increases.

      Most workers apparently came into the city mostly to withdraw their
salaries which are usually paid around this time of the month.

      Lengthy queues formed at the major commercial banks' ATMs. Most of the
banks were, however, closed. The few operating ones, including the
government's People's Own Savings Bank, were letting in a few customers at a
time, apparently as a precaution against possible violence.

      In Mutare only government offices and a few businesses owned by Zanu
PF sympathisers were operating.

      There was a heavy presence of armed police in most parts of the city
but no reports of violence.

      In Masvingo soldiers and the police reportedly confronted several shop
managers around the city and ordered them to open for business.

      They harassed motorists at roadblocks, accusing them of supporting the
industrial action.

      A manager who refused to be named said: "They even said they would
offer me transport to go and collect all the staff. Most of the shops that
are open have done so under the instructions of the police."

      Most supermarkets and banks operated with skeletal staff.

      Soldiers were on patrol in both the low and high density suburbs.

      No incidents of violence were reported by yesterday afternoon.
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      Zanu PF, MDC engage in war of political adverts

      4/25/03 6:58:34 AM (GMT +2)

      By Foster Dongozi Features Writer

      THE MDC has sucked the government into a new whirlpool of political
confrontation - advertising.

      For weeks, the MDC has been flighting graphic adverts on the
degeneration of the rule of law and standards of living, reminding
Zimbabweans that they are responsible for their own destiny.

      The party's adverts, mostly in colour, entitled Action for National
Survival, Change Demands Action, have appeared in the independent media,
highlighting the tribulations faced by many Zimbabweans, especially those
brutalised by government agents.

      The new slogan, Change Demands Action, shows that the MDC, which was
until recently, accused of not doing enough to protest against the poor
standards of living, has taken the lead in trying to make the government

      In one advert, topless women are portrayed under the heading: "The
illegitimate regime is brutalising innocent women. We salute millions of
Zimbabwean women for their courage and determination to fight the regime in
these trying times."

      In an apparent dismissal of claims by the State that civilians were
beaten up and made to have unprotected sex by army deserters and not serving
members of the army, the MDC rebuffed the story through an advertisement.

      It was headlined: Are we expected to believe that MDC sponsors army
deserters and hires trucks all to attack its own members?

      The advertisement carried a picture of an MDC stalwart, Paul Shambira,
who had been mauled by armed men wearing military fatigues and driving in
army vehicles.

      The advertisement says: "Paul Shambira, MDC Chitungwiza district
secretary for information and publicity, was brutally attacked by armed men
in uniform in Chitungwiza last week. The men were moving around the area in
army trucks."

      In another full-page advertisement, the MDC has pictures of the leader
of a church who was bludgeoned while on his way from conducting a service.
It was entitled: Attacked on His Way From Church.

      "Freedom of worship is seriously under threat as pastors, bishops are
attacked and brutalised," read the caption.

      Zimbabwe is a Christian country and reports of the harassment and
physical abuse of the men of cloth would have caused a lot of consternation
among devout Christians.

      The government, through the Department of Information and Publicity,
hit back with its own advertisements in State media.

      They are headlined: Lest We Forget: Remember they Promised The
Violence in their Mass Action. Time For Action Against Mass Violence.

      In the advertisement, the government accuses the MDC of being a
violent party bent on destroying the economy, based on statements made by
its president, Morgan Tsvangirai.

      "On September 30, 2000, the beleaguered and now desperate leader of
the British-sponsored MDC, which is run by elements of Rhodesian Selous
Scouts, foretold the violence of the so-called Mass Action when he made the
following chilling remarks at Rufaro Stadium in Harare.

      "What we want to tell Mugabe today is that please go peacefully, if
you don't want to go, we will remove you violently."

      In another advertisement headlined: Who's the next victim of their
Mass Action?, the government produced two pictures, one of a shop believed
to have been attacked during the 18 and 19 March Mass Action and another of
a policeman, Tarisai Matipira, who sustained serious burns after the Zupco
bus in which he was travelling was petrol-bombed.

      The government goes on to warn: "It could be you, your spouse or loved
one, your child, your relative or friend. Or your property if you are a
black indigenous person. It is quite clear that the British-sponsored MDC is
now employing dirty tactics of Rhodesian Selous Scouts specifically and only
targeting the masses and their leadership in the same way and with the same
brutality used by the British colonialists when they disenfranchised,
displaced, dislocated, dispossessed and dehumanised the black majority in
this country."

      The theme of portraying the opposition as a violent organisation is
maintained on another advertisement which says: "On March 18 and 19,
terrorists, thugs and lawless elements, using brutal tactics of Rhodesian
Selous Scouts, conspired with so-called civil society, opposition Press,
self-proclaimed human rights activists and some church groups to unleash
violence and thuggery on ordinary people under the guise of mass action."

      Advertisements seem to be playing another role on the political front
as newspaper supplements on occasions like the recent Independence Holidays
and last year's messages to congratulate President Mugabe after he was
announced the winner of the presidential election would seem to suggest.

      A full page colour advert in The Herald costs $1,47 million and in The
Daily News it goes for $66 524 per insertion.

      In a story published by the Zanu PF newspaper, The People's Voice,
Cuthbert Dube, the chief executive officer of the Premier Service Medical
Aid Society announced that the society was introducing a medical aid scheme
to benefit new farmers. They would benefit after making a one-off payment of
$30 000 a year.

      Some advertisements by the MDC have touched the government's raw
nerve. In one advert, the opposition lists the names of intelligence
operatives and police officers who are notorious for beating up suspected
members of the opposition. The MDC further implores relatives of the
culprits to urge them to stop the alleged atrocities.

      The move is reported to have caused a lot of unease and panic among
operatives as they now fear to be "listed".

      Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity,
realising the potential of the damage that could be inflicted on the morale
of the forces by the adverts, labelled them illegal.

      "Apart from breaking the law, in terms of due process as well as civil
and criminal procedure, the outrageous advert is illegal.

      "It represents a reckless intrusion upon the privacy of the named
individuals whose rights, reputation and integrity are as important as the
rights, reputation and integrity of any individual in our constitutional
democracy," he told The Sunday Mail, a government mouthpiece.

      A defiant Paul Themba Nyathi, the spokesman for the MDC declared:
"Moyo complains about the publishing of those names when it's clear that the
solution lies in those people stopping their torture of Zimbabweans.

      "If they stop the torture we won't publish their names. We shall
continue to publish their names if they continue with their activities. In
fact, more names and details of those officers are emerging and we shall
publish them in due course."

      Another advert that has been causing a lot of unease in the corridors
of power is the one which lists tyrants and how they fled into exile,
leaving their henchmen to face the wrath of the people.

      The advert warns: "If you are supporting the dictatorship, in Zimbabwe
today, it is important to know that you will be left alone, to look after
yourself and your family long after the dictator has gone."

      It goes on to ask: "What role are you playing in sustaining and oiling
the dictatorship, denying basic freedoms to the people, brutalising
villagers, workers and innocent people in your community?

      "Remember you will soon be alone, facing millions of angry people. The
dictator is certainly on his way out."

      But President Mugabe has denied he is a dictator, saying what the
world takes for dictatorship is merely a stand for the principles he
believes in.
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      Land chaos comes back to haunt us

      4/25/03 7:01:02 AM (GMT +2)

      THE effect of a lack of political and economic foresight, gross
insensitivity to the white commercial farmers, greed and corruption within
the government all manifested themselves at the tobacco auction floors which
opened in Harare on Wednesday.

      Very few farmers delivered tobacco to the floors because very little
tobacco was produced during the last season. The opening prices were very
favourable and, under normal circumstances, would have pleased the farmers
and firmed up the national foreign currency reserves.

      But President Mugabe's quest to cling to power by seizing fertile land
from the white farmers through his ill-conceived, haphazard land
redistribution programme dashed all hope for economic recovery.

      The tobacco industry has been the mainstay of the country's agro-based
economy for many years and Zimbabwe's high quality tobacco had only been
rivalled by that grown in Brazil.

      As much as 40 percent of the country's foreign currency was earned
from the sale of flue-cured and burley tobacco, which earned the nickname,
the golden leaf.

      The destruction of the farming sector has also resulted in thousands
of farm workers losing their jobs, bringing untold suffering among their
families, some now reduced to paupers.

      As the nation watches in disgust, the Zanu PF leadership continues
shamelessly to plunder what is left of the once rich agricultural sector by
grabbing fertile farms which they have no clue how to use profitably.

      Meanwhile, a nation that was once the breadbasket of the southern
Africa region is groaning from a self-inflicted sickness, on the death bed
of hunger and abject poverty, scrounging and scratching the bottom of
dustbins for something to sustain its dreary life.
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      Milestone turns into a millstone

      4/25/03 7:01:33 AM (GMT +2)

      OLUSEGUN Obasanjo's allegedly spectacular victory in the milestone 19
April elections in Africa's most populous country is already turning into a
political millstone around his neck, much as President Mugabe's 2002 victory
has burdened his rule since then.

      His opponent, also a former military dictator, Muhammadu Buhari, has
warned Obasanjo he could be toppled in a military coup. Such is the disgust
among Nigerians with the impunity with which the poll was rigged.

      Much like his ally, Mugabe, did after his controversial re-election in
2002, Obasanjo has ignored widespread reports of what Buhari called an
election fraud "on a scale that has never been witnessed in the history of
criminality in Nigeria".

      This is saying a lot, considering Nigeria has been easily voted "the
corruption capital of the world" in many independent polls.

      What must be extremely disappointing to all proponents of the New
Economic Plan for Africa's Development (Nepad), of which Obasanjo was a
prime mover, is that in the most powerful country on the continent democracy
has just suffered an almost fatal hiccup.

      Obasanjo can hardly lecture on democracy with authority and honesty to
any other state on the continent after his party so blatantly stole the
election in his own country.

      If he does not heed the calls for a rerun of the polls, the chances
are quite high that he could indeed be overthrown in a military coup, the
so-called "Nigerian way" of solving intractable political problems.

      After that, who knows for how long the country will wait before it
returns to civilian rule? Obasanjo had an opportunity to make history by
winning a free and fair election run by an independent electoral commission,
one not packed with his own bootlickers, as is the Electoral Supervisory
Commission in Zimbabwe.

      But Obasanjo has been keeping the wrong company for the four years
that he has been a civilian president, and the evidence is in the rigged
election which may plunge his country into another round of internecine
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      Options for solving the Zimbabwe crisis

      4/25/03 7:02:17 AM (GMT +2)

      By Dumisani O Nkomo

      The Zimbabwe crisis does not need to be described, as it has become
obvious to all. So, to attempt to redefine it would be a grave insult to the
collective intelligence of the nation.

      I will, therefore, attempt to depict 10 possible scenarios, which may
obtain from the current situation, which will enable Zimbabwe to pull
herself from this quagmire.

      I will attempt to present a number of scenarios and critically
evaluate their practicality, worth and effectiveness.

      The first option, of course, is Organised Mass Action. This is the
most talked about and least practiced option. It looks to me the one in
March called for by the MDC was the only real success.

      Organised stayaways by the ZCTU and the National Constitutional
Assembly have been massive flops largely due to poor organisation,
ill-conceived timing, lack of consultation with relevant stakeholders, a
culture of apathy and fear amongst the general masses of the population and
the existence of oppressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act
and repressive State apparatus such as the quasi-military units in the form
of Zanu PF militia as well as a ruthless police, intelligence and military

      The conditions are ripe for such an action, but the nation does not
seem sufficiently motivated to resort to this option.

      The second option is Spontaneous Mass Action - an option highly
favoured by the MDC and many other Zimbabweans. It does not place
responsibility for action squarely on the shoulders of an individual, party
or institute, but relies on somebody, somewhere in some fuel or bread queue
saying enough is enough.

      Spontaneous mass action has emerged as a favourite option for the
following reasons:
      It cannot be easily contained by the brutal State security apparatus
because it may start anywhere and spread anywhere.
      It is difficult to pinpoint leaders of such an action and to isolate
or incarcerate them.
      It is a demonstration of people, which may appeal even to individuals
in the State security apparatus as evidenced in Romania and the former
      The economic climate is ripe for such an action as evidenced by fuel
queues and food shortages. Food shortages have always been a trigger for

      The third option can be labelled the Palace Coup.

      This theory supports the implosion scenario whereby the President, who
has emerged as the personification of the Zimbabwe crisis, is ousted by his
own colleagues in the ruling party. This option seemed to be an unfolding
reality when he was on holiday in Malaysia. This option can only work if the
conspirators have the support of the military and, therefore, are limited to
those who have a measure of influence in the military. This option appears
to be quite appealing for the following reasons:
      Historically, even the most powerful of empire builders such as Julius
Caesar and Tshaka the Great were eliminated by those closest to them and not
by distant enemies.
      There is great pressure on sections of Zanu PF for the displacement of
the old order.

      The fourth option is a Military Takeover.

      But this is an unlikely and undesirable option as African history has
proved that military takeovers have resulted in military dictatorships. The
perceived "saviours of the people" may soon become ensconced in an eternal
transition to civilian power, as was the case with Ibrahim Babangida in
Nigeria and Ghana's Jerry Rawlings who later transformed himself into a
civilian president albeit by democratic consent.

      Zimbabwe has suffered under a one-man one-party dictatorship and a
military takeover may be suicidal and genocidal to the emergence of
democracy in Zimbabwe.

      This option should not be encouraged, supported or celebrated by
peace-loving Zimbabweans.

      The fifth option is a rerun of the presidential election through the
courts. As long as conditions for an election rerun remain the same, the
ruling party will continue to use the uneven playing field to continuously
win elections by dubious means. But that option should not be abandoned, as
it will give the MDC the moral high ground to challenge the legitimacy of
the Zanu PF government.

      The sixth option is to allow things to disintegrate. There are many
who argue that the current situation is not sustainable and the government
will inevitably collapse. Whilst this is quite possible, probable and
desirable, it may not be practical because it appears like the ruling party
is willing to hang on to power even if it means ruling over skeletons.

      It may also be difficult to rebuild once the economic framework of the
country collapses. The verdict is, whilst the current situation is not
sustainable, the rulers of the land do not give a hoot and will hang on to
power by hook, crook or book.

      The seventh option is to wait for the next elections. The
parliamentary election is only two years away, but the most crucial poll,
the presidential election, is about five years away. If the MDC chooses to
quietly rebuild its effectiveness, credibility and image, it may succeed in
winning the parliamentary election. Indicators, however, are that:
      Zanu PF will not sit idly and watch the MDC grow. More MDC leaders
will be arrested, detained and tortured on trumped-up charges. Some could
even be killed.
      The MDC and other alternative voices will be systematically silenced
by current and prospective draconian laws which will further erode the
democratic process.

      But the most reasonable and practical route seems to be that of a
negotiated settlement.

      In this regard previously stated strategies, such as mass action,
could well be an effective means to gaining leverage to negotiate a workable
settlement for Zimbabwe. A transitional authority would involve the setting
up-of a transitional government of national unity composed of both Zanu PF
and the MDC.

      A constitutional conference of all stakeholders would then be convened
to formulate a new democratic constitution, which would be the framework of
democratic elections in which the parliamentary election would be held
concurrently with the presidential election. Dissolution of all
quasi-military units and institutions such as the militia, the national
youth service and war vets and depoliticisation of food aid would also be

      A government of national unity is unlikely. Such a government would
involve President Mugabe inviting the MDC to be a part of a government of
national unity which Mugabe has vowed he would never do.

      The last option is to do nothing and still expect something to happen.
This is the option, which most Zimbabweans are practicing at the moment and
nothing will happen as long as nothing is done.

      Dumisani S Nkomo is a political and social commentator
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