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ZESN Statement 2005 Parliamentary Elections
Dr R. Matchaba-Hove, Chairperson, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
April 03, 2005

The Zimbabwe Parliamentary elections of March 2005 were held against the background of the flawed Parliamentary elections of June 2000 and the Presidential elections of March 2002.

The elections were also held within the context of the SADC Principles for Democratic Elections of August 2004. These principles state the importance of, inter alia:

  • Freedom of assembly and association
  • Freedom of expression
  • Political tolerance
  • Voter education
  • Equal access to the media and
  • Establishment of impartial, all inclusive, competent and accountable election management bodies staffed by qualified personnel.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) is a network of 35 human rights civic organizations. ZESN has membership structures in all provinces.

Our principal objectives are four fold;

  • Voter education
  • Election observation
  • Media monitoring and information, and
  • Advocacy and electoral reforms research

In addition to presidential, parliamentary and local government elections in Zimbabwe, we have also observed elections in many other countries, in particular in the SADC region.

ZESN was able to observe both the pre-election period and the election itself. Naturally, we continue to observe the immediate post election period.

ZESN also met several visiting observer missions. These included the SADC Election Observer Mission, the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries, the South African Observer Mission and the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa Observer Mission.

Pre-election Period
  • Legal Framework
  • Voter registration
  • Delimitation Commission
  • Campaign period
  • Observers

Legal Framework
In terms of the Constitution, the President is allowed to appoint 30 non- constituency members of parliament of which 10 of them would be traditional leaders elected by the Electoral College of Chiefs.

It is recommended that this provision be repealed, as it gives unfair advantage to the sitting president (regardless of the party).

Zimbabwe uses the ‘first past the post’ Westminster system. This system does not encourage the representation of smaller parties in parliament. For example, if at the end of polling, ZANU PF receives 60% of the vote and MDC 40%. If we were voting Proportional Representation, these would translate to 72 seats for ZANU PF and 48 for MDC.

We recommend a mixed proportional representation and constituency electoral system.

Zimbabwe’s Parliamentary elections are held every 5 years whilst Presidential elections are held every 6 years. ZESN is concerned that this may cause some challenges in the future. For instance where there is change in the party with the majority of seats in parliament and the President is from a minority it may become difficulty to govern the country.

It therefore recommends that Zimbabwe should consider having these two elections at the same time.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe establishes the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) and the Delimitation Commission which are mandated to supervise the conducting of elections and the demarcation of election boundaries respectively. The government also introduced the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act which established the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to run elections. In addition, the ZEC Act also requires local non-governmental organizations involved in voter education to get approval from ZEC or to be registered in terms of the existing law before carrying out any voter education.

ZESN commends the introduction of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2: 13) which introduced the opening up of the electronic media for political parties to campaign, voting in one day, counting in situ, the use of translucent ballot boxes, introduction of the alphabetical voting system, the increase in the number of polling stations, the establishment of the Electoral Court, the use of visible ink and the abandonment of the mobile polling stations. ZESN commends these changes as they fall within the expected standards of conducting the electoral process as stipulated in the SADC Principles and Guidelines. We are however concerned with the lateness of the introduction of these reforms and the degree to which ZEC has had the opportunity to establish its independence and control over the electoral machinery. We look forward to the future strengthening of ZEC. Also of concern to ZESN is the impression that the Electoral Court is not independent. In the case of Roy Bennett, the Electoral Court ruled that Roy Bennett’s nomination papers had been illegally refused by the nomination court. The Electoral Court ruled that the Chimanimani constituency election be postponed to 30 April 2005 to allow for Bennett to participate in the election. The day after this ruling, President Mugabe was quoted in the Herald newspaper describing the decision of the court as ’rank madness’. This undermines the independence of both the Electoral Court and ZEC.

Voter registration and voters’ roll
The office of the Registrar General was responsible for the updating of the voters’ roll and the registration of voters was not supervised by an independent electoral management body as required by the SADC Principles and Guidelines. This was due to the fact that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission came into existence on February 1, 2005 when registration was already in progress or close to being completed and was completed on February 4, 2005. This meant that there was little time to supervise the processes. The state of the voters’ roll was questionable as access to it was late and it is costly to purchase the roll. In addition ZEC did not supervise its compilation and its inspection and the shortcomings of the voters’ roll of having duplicate names. ZESN recommends the need for an overhaul of the voters roll which will also be accessible to everyone through the internet or other electronic means and should be linked with birth and death registries to ensure constant updating.

Although the SADC Principles recommend that there must be no discrimination in voter registration, the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act (Chapter 4:01))stripped the fourth generation Zimbabweans of their nationality. There is thus a need for laws which allow those born in Zimbabwe the right to vote. Further, there are restrictive requirements for voter registration such as proof of residence, utility bills and in case of tenants, a letter from the property-owner confirming residence.

Postal Votes
The issue of postal votes remains a major concern to Zimbabwe, taking into cognisance there are millions of people living in the Diaspora and were not allowed their democratic right to vote in this election. It was our hope that the same administrative systems in place for those who are in diplomatic Foreign Service and the uniformed forces on duty be extended to the ordinary citizenry for them to exercise their right to participate in governance issues while in the Diaspora. ZESN recommends that there be transparency in the manner in which the already existing postal voting system is administered to ensure accountability and transparency in that there should be local and international observers present when opening of the postal votes takes place and when the uniformed forces also vote. There should be details with respect to the number of application for postal voting made, the constituencies to which these relate to and this should be widened to include all Zimbabweans outside the country.

Delimitation Commission
In the demarcation of constituencies, the general public should have an input in the process so that the constituencies will reflect community interests e.g Harare South. The report of the Delimitation Commission which came out in December 2004 was not well publicised as evidenced by the high numbers of people who were turned away at polling stations because they were in the wrong constituencies or lacked proper documentation. Official figures provided by ZEC indicate that the number of votes cast and those turned away by close of polling in six provinces totalled 130 000 or 10% of the voters. For instance, in Makoni East where ZANU PF won by 9 201 votes compared to the MDC’s 7 708, a total of 2 223 voters were turned away. In addition, in Mutasa South, ZANU PF got 9 715 and MDC got 9 380 votes, a total of 1460 voters were turned away. In both cases, the number of voters turned away was higher than the margin of victory.

According to the SADC Principles and Guidelines, all citizens should be given the right to participate in the political process and an equal opportunity to vote.

Campaign period
There were cases of violence in the pre-election period before February 1, 2005 observed by ZESN long-term observers. The immediate campaign period was generally peaceful with minor incidents of intra-party and inter-party violence. There were reports of political gatherings which were disrupted, cancelled or banned though later on this improved. Laws which restrict fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens to freely assemble associate and express themselves such as Public Order and Security Act (POSA) (Chapter 11:17), the Access to Information and Protection Privacy Act (AIPPA) (Chapter 10:27) and the Miscellaneous Offences Act (1964) render the electoral environment hostile. It is our considered view that these laws are at variance with the SADC Principles and Guidelines which stress the need for member states to take measures that ensures that all citizens enjoy freedom of movement, association and expression and political tolerance.

The public media, both print and electronic, were biased against the opposition political parties. Even though political parties and civic organisations were belatedly allowed to advertise in electronic media, this should have been extended to the print media. ZESN is concerned that opposition parties, which in the past polls were denied airtime to campaign, were granted late access to the public broadcaster. This anomaly was also compounded by the fact that there was unequal access to the airwaves and all access was heavily skewed in favour of the ruling party. The regulation should also have been extended to the print media especially where it concerns public print media. The post election should also see the opening up of the airwaves, and repealing of laws that create a monopoly for the state controlled broadcaster. ZESN welcomes regulations introduced to give access to media to contesting parties.

With regards to the political parties funding, the government distributed funds to political parties which satisfied the set legal thresholds thereby fulfilling the provisions of the SADC Guidelines and Principles which state that funding of political parties must be transparent and based on agreed legal thresholds. However it does not nurture emerging new political parties and independent candidates.

Invitations to local and foreign observers were sent out by the Ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The continued involvement of these Ministries has resulted in selective invitation and vetting of observers. There were 45 foreign state groups which were invited and over 8000 local observers. Although these invitations were sent out in February, the SADC Principles recommend that should be done at 90 days before the polls. Also of concern is the issue of the SADC PF and EISA, regional organisations which have vast experience in electoral observation but where not invited.

ZESN managed to deploy, 260 long term observers who observed the pre-election period and 6 000 accredited observers nationwide for the polling period of which 240 observers were mobile and managed to cover most of the country.

ZESN recommends the decentralisation of accreditation to provincial centres or even at constituency level

Polling period

Polling Stations
There were 8 235 polling stations for March 2005 elections which were also publicised earlier than before. However there were concerns that some of the polling stations were situated in non-neutral locations such, chiefs’ homesteads such as Chipinge North, Chief Mapungwana and Chief homesteads, in Rushinga Chief Makuni(Mukazika village)

Polling started on time (0700hrs) with minor problems. For instance, at 16 polling stations ZESN accredited observers were denied access at the opening of polls but this was later rectified whilst in Mudzi, ZEC electoral officials were also refused entry to the polling stations.

There is need for appreciation of the role of observers and electoral officials.

By the end of polling, ZESN observers reported that the voting process nationwide had progressed smoothly and speedily amid general peace and tranquillity. The speedy processing of voters could be attributed to the introduction of the alphabetical voting system, where there are three voting booths at individual polling stations, as well as the increase in the number of polling stations.

In terms of the Electoral Act, once counting has been completed and the results conveyed to the constituency centre, the presiding officer for that particular polling station should display the results outside the polling station for the public to see. This was not done in some places. We applaud counting of votes at polling stations to enhance transparency. Observers were also unnecessarily ‘detained’ at the polling stations when counting had been completed. We propose electoral authorities to look into it. Had ZEC provided observers with unfettered access to vote counts at polling stations, ZESN would have been in a position to help verify results and help resolve any election-related disputes. Failure to display results at some polling stations reduces transparency and accountability and undermines the value of counting ballots at polling station in accordance with the SADC Principles.

In Goromonzi, which was won by ZANU PF, for example, the number of votes announced by ZEC at 2am, April 1, 2005 to have been cast by close of polling had suddenly gone up by 62% from 15 611 to 25 360 when the final results were announced on April 1, 2005. Another glaring example pertains to Manyame Constituency where, according to ZEC 14 812 had cast their ballots at the close of polling but the figure catapulted by 72% to 23 760 as the results were announced. In Highfield which was won by the MDC, the total number of ballots cast does not tally with the number of votes cast for the contesting candidates.

ZESN, therefore, urges ZEC to seriously look into these discrepancies as a matter of extreme urgency as this has serious implications on the credibility of the electoral process.

We are already in the process of preparing our final detailed and comprehensive report. This will cover all the three periods of the electoral period: the pre-election period, the election and the counting days and the immediate post-election period. The emphasis will be on identifying areas for future and further improvement of our electoral process such as a single constitutional independent electoral management body, improvement of the role of civic society as monitors of the electoral process, the repealing of the requirement for civic society organisations to obtain permission from ZEC before conducting voter education, timeous access by all political parties to the electronic and print media, the repeal of restrictive legislation such POSA, AIPPA, and the Broadcasting Services Act (Chapter 12:06) as well as section 7 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act (1964). Flawed electoral processes are known cause of intra-state conflict. Hence significant reforms of the electoral process would go a long way in preventing, minimising and managing conflict.

Zimbabwe’s electoral climate has been one shrouded in fear from the time of the 2000 parliamentary elections as these elections were accompanied with extensive physical violence and a number of fatalities were reported. This climate of fear continued during subsequent by-elections that were held. This was the background against which the 2002 presidential elections was held and subsequently Zimbabweans have come to associate elections with physical violence. The long term pre-electoral period was not accompanied by overt physical violence as compared to the two previous elections but incidents of intimidation were recorded as well as intra-party violence. Examples of intimidation include the politicisation of food distribution and the partisan role of some traditional leaders. This leads to the conclusion that the pre-election period was not in compliance with the SADC Principles and Guidelines in particular that:

  • Opposition political parties were not free to campaign in certain parts of the country as some of these areas were no go areas for the opposition before February 2005.
  • Citizen participation was curtailed in that the rights to association and assembly was limited by POSA which was selectively applied by the police who deliberately misinterpreted the Act to say that opposition political parties required permission to hold meetings and rallies, which is not what the law says. The law simply states that the police should be notified and the police are not required to give permission.
  • AIPPA imposes severe penalties to journalists who publish false information but the same law does not define what amounts to false information. This affected the citizens’ rights to information in that journalists found it difficult to report on election-related issues or matters which could be interpreted as false.
  • There was no equal access to the media by political parties. The ruling party monopolised access to both the print and electronic media and limited access to the electronic media was granted to opposition political parties close to the actual polling day.
  • Although there were no incidences of overt violence, reports of intimidation and the politicisation of food distribution was used to persuade the citizens to vote for the ruling party.
  • The traditional leaders threatened their subjects with eviction and sometimes unspecified action should they fail to vote for the ruling party.
  • The changes that were introduced by the new electoral framework on February 1, 2005 were not adequately communicated to the general population. This could explain the high number of voters who were turned away from polling stations on polling day.

Notwithstanding the above, we note that polling day was generally calm and a peaceful environment prevailed. Citizens had the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and were free to do so.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the various foreign observer missions that took time to consult us. We are of the view that their presence and actions helped to create the relatively peaceful climate in which the elections were held. We also trust that all stakeholders will take heed of the important recommendations made.

Many thanks to all our observers and volunteers many of whom who worked tirelessly for over 24hrs.

Finally, we commend Zimbabweans for the peaceful manner in which they conducted themselves during the elections.

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Financial Times

Mugabe faces election fraud claim
By John Reed in Harare
Published: April 3 2005 17:58 | Last updated: April 3 2005 17:58

Zimbabwe's opposition will on Monday lodge a formal complaint about
irregularities in vote tallying in last week's parliamentary election, which
it claims was fraudlent.

The Movement for Democratic Change will today ask the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to respond to its claim of widespread discrepancies between votes
tallied at polling stations and the final results reported.

The party, which lost by a landslide to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party in the March 31 vote, says it is studying questionable results in as
many as 76 of Zimbabwe's 120 electoral districts.

"The problem is now more extensive than we thought," Welshman Ncube, the MDC's
secretary-general, told the FT. He said his party would take legal action if
it received no response.

Final results announced at the weekend gave Zanu-PF 78 seats in parliament,
and Mr Mugabe has the right to appoint another 30 MPs. The party now has a
two-thirds majority, giving it the power to amend Zimbabwe's constitution
without opposition support.

The MDC won 41 seats, and one seat went to an independent candidate. The
result represents a serious tactical setback for the MDC, which had sought
to mobilise neighbouring countries, led by South Africa, to press Mr Mugabe
to hold a fair vote.

However, at the weekend two African delegations endorsed the vote. Observer
teams from the South African government and the Southern African Development
Community separately concluded that the vote "reflected the will of the
Zimbabwean people."

The findings jarred with the conclusions of several northern-hemisphere
countries, which criticised electoral conditions as heavily skewed in Mr
Mugabe's favour.

Zimbabwe did not allow missions from the US, the European, or the
Commonwealth to observe the vote, several countries fielded small teams of

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a grouping of 35 human-rights
organisations, on Sunday echoed the MDC's misgivings about alleged
discrepancies in results in some constituencies. According to the ZESN, in
the Gormonzi constituency, for example, won by Zanu-PF, the number of votes
announced by ZEC rose by 62 per cent between the close of polling and the
announcement of results.

On Saturday Mr Mugabe congratulated Zimbabweans "for having voted correctly".
He said his party "remains ready to interact with the MDC," but warned it
against making good on its vow to mobilise its supporters to protest alleged
voter fraud.

"We can also raise mass action against their mass action, and there would
naturally be conflict - serious conflict," he said.

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Washington Post

Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Rules Out Protests

By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, April 3, 2005;

By Craig Timberg

Washington Post Foreign Service

HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 3 -- Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on
Sunday ruled out calling for mass demonstrations to protest what he said
were fraudulent results from last week's parliamentary elections. Instead,
he said, his party would redouble efforts to recruit new members from beyond
its urban strongholds.

In an interview at his home, Tsvangirai said widespread discrepancies in
announced vote totals made clear that the party of President Robert Mugabe,
which controlled the nation's electoral mechanisms, rigged the outcomes in
the rural areas where they claimed most of their seats in Thursday's
landslide victory. He also has alleged that the ruling party intimidated
voters, doctored the voter's roll with phony names and used food aid in
drought-stricken areas to garner support.

Yet Tsvangirai rejected calls from some of his supporters for
demonstrations, saying that not enough protesters were willing to take to
the streets to force Mugabe from power. Those who did come to demonstrate,
he said, would be arrested, hurting the long-term prospects for growing the

"I'm not afraid to go to jail myself," said Tsvangirai, looking relaxed in
an open-collared shirt in his well-groomed suburban home in Harare,
Zimbabwe's capital. "But it's one thing to be courageous and another thing
to make reckless decisions in a way that won't be sustainable. We have to be

Tsvangirai's reluctance to call for protests, which are illegal in Zimbabwe
without prior written approval from a police force that Mugabe controls, has
prompted some opposition supporters to call for new, more-aggressive
leadership. One frustrated party official said privately that the first days
after the election, as the extent of the ruling party landslide became
clear, marked Tsvangirai's "Gandhi moment," when people were ready to be led
into demonstrations.

Mugabe, who has dismissed allegations that the elections were tainted, also
has made clear he would seek to crush protests, saying on Saturday that any
effort by the opposition to demonstrate would cause "conflict, serious

Tsvangirai acknowledged in the interview that the government likely would
overwhelm any protests with force. He added that Zimbabwe, with its
repressive laws on public assembly and history of ruling party violence, is
"not Ukraine," a reference to the peaceful uprising that reversed a rigged
presidential election in that former Soviet republic last year.

"We have to be realistic," Tsvangirai said.

He maintained that his Movement for Democratic Change has such widespread
support that it would have won more than 90 of the 120 seats up for election
if Mugabe's ruling party had not rigged results in its favor. The official
results showed Tsvangirai's party winning 41 seats compared to 78 for
Mugabe's party, a net loss for the opposition of 16 seats from its showing
in the last parliamentary elections in 2000.

One independent also won in Thursday's vote. Mugabe will now appoint the 30
remaining members of the 150-seat national legislature.

Tsvangirai also said that his party had more than twice as many active
members as Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, which
along with Mugabe has ruled since the nation's independence in 1980.

Journalists and other independent observers reported that opposition rallies
drew larger and more enthusiastic crowds in many parts of the country in the
final weeks before the election. Even in rural areas previously regarded as
no-go zones for the opposition because of political violence, the party
organized supporters and held rallies.

Yet having ruled out both demonstrations and a legal challenge against the
election results, Tsvangirai in the interview was unable to describe a
scenario in which his party took power unless Mugabe chose to negotiate with
an opposition he has repeatedly called "traitors" and tools of colonialist
Western powers.

"What has become very evident is you can't expect democracy from a
dictator," said Tsvangirai, whose party threatened for months to boycott the
elections before deciding to field candidates. "He goes through this
democratic process but with a full eye on controlling the outcome."

His comments came as observer missions from neighboring countries in
southern Africa -- hand-picked by Mugabe for their friendliness -- said the
parliamentary vote reflected the will of Zimbabweans. The Southern African
Development Community, which also approved of elections in 2000 and 2002
that were widely condemned by observers from around the world, called last
week's elections "peaceful, transparent, credible and well managed."

The comments echoed those from the electoral mission from South Africa, the
leading regional power and Zimbabwe's most import ally, providing diplomatic
support and crucial lifelines of food and electricity. South African
President Thabo Mbeki and other top officials of his government said even
before the elections took place that they were confident the vote would
proceed freely, contradicting the assertions of international human rights
groups and most Western governments.

"Only the gullible can believe what came out of this election," Tsvangirai
said on Sunday. "Everyone understands the extent of the fraud."

He added, "The struggles continue . . . I'm very certain that the people are
not going to give up. We are not going to give up."
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Yahoo News

Zimbabwe's main opposition party demands fresh elections after Mugabe win


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Sunday demanded
fresh elections under a new constitution, citing massive inconsistencies in
the parliamentary poll won by President Robert Mugabe's party even as
neighbouring countries endorsed the victory.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change maintained it had won 94
seats, rather than the 41 announced by the electoral commission. MDC
officials did not specify how their figure was reached.

Mugabe's Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front claimed 78 seats,
and one went to an independent candidate in Thursday's poll, according to
official results. Under Zimbabwe law, Mugabe appoints another 30 seats in
the 150-member parliament, giving his party more than the two-thirds
majority needed to change the constitution.

The opposition and independent rights groups maintained Thursday's election
was slanted before it even started because of years of violence,
intimidation and repressive laws.

"As long as we run elections under the same set of conditions, there is no
way that elections will be free and fair," said William Bango, an MDC

Observers from the 14-country Southern African Development Community,
however, congratulated Zimbabwe on "peaceful, transparent, credible and well
managed elections, which reflect the will of the people." Similar approval
came from a South African delegation.

The regional bloc, which also endorsed a 2002 presidential poll widely
condemned for violence, intimidation and vote rigging, urged the government
to improve voter education and increase access by all parties to state-run

Mugabe said he hoped to stay in power until he was 100, as he celebrated
Saturday the overwhelming win that secures his nearly 25-year rule.

The MDC said the results from Thursday's election were tainted by years of
violence and intimidation, a view shared by the United States, Britain and
independent rights groups. The party said discrepancies in the results
pointed to ballot stuffing.

The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which deployed thousands
of observers across the country, noted discrepancies between the number of
people recorded to have cast ballots and the final vote tallies in many
districts, particularly in the government's rural strongholds.

By Sunday, the national electoral commission had only released turnout
figures for six of the country's 10 provinces. Officials refused to explain
the delay.

Despite the questions raised about the poll, Mugabe, 81, was triumphant at a
news conference Saturday.

"This is a moment of victory for my party, and the victory of my party
translates itself, naturally, into a victory for our country," he said.

The results clear the way for Mugabe to change the constitution to set up a
second parliamentary chamber representing traditional chiefs, retired
politicians and other eminent Zimbabweans. Critics charge he wants to pack
the Senate with cronies to cement his influence and pick a successor without

But Mugabe made it plain Saturday that he didn't plan on stepping down any
time soon.

"When I am a century old," he said laughing, in response to a question about
his retirement plans.

The opposition has urged its supporters to resist the election outcome, but
has not called any protests.

Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk 50 per cent during the past five years, and
the unemployment rate is at least 70 per cent. Agriculture, which is the
country's economic base, has collapsed, and at least 70 per cent of the
population live in poverty.

Mugabe tried to rally support after a strong showing by the opposition in
2000 with a land reform program aimed at righting racial imbalances in
ownership inherited from British rule. Thousands of white-owned commercial
farms were redistributed to black Zimbabweans in an often violent campaign
that has crippled the economy, already hit by years of drought and AIDS.

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Idasa casts doubt on integrity of Harare poll
          April 03 2005 at 04:52PM

      Johannesburg - The Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) on
Sunday expressed concerns about the integrity of Zimbabwe's election.

      "We have concerns over the integrity of the election because aspects
of the electoral process were not fully observed either by domestic and
international observers, or party polling agents," Idasa executive director
Paul Graham said.

      These aspects included the printing, distribution and auditing of
ballot papers.

      People were also turned away in large numbers, which was significant
in relation to the margin of victory in a number of constituencies.

      There were also "unexplained discrepancies" between figures announced
by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the official results for some

       Citing lack of transparency and external verification, a large number
of Zimbabweans and the official opposition had no confidence in the
election's outcome, Graham said. - Sapa

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Mugabe to make constitutional changes

April 03, 2005, 19:15

Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, says he will make constitutional
changes to allow for a new senate and increase the number of legislators. In
an exclusive interview with the SABC today, Mugabe also said his country
might have to import more food to feed his country following drought.

The ruling Zanu (PF) party will be making constitutional changes in due
course. Presidential elections will run simultaneously with parliamentary
election and MPS will increase from 150 to 200. With regard to the
president's term of office, Mugabe said that it should not be limited, and
that people should decide for themselves when the president should retire. "
If he is incompetent, he can be voted out."

On the issue of media laws, Mugabe said thats these would remain. Mugabe
also welcomed close cooperation with the opposition MDC. He says the economy
is on the mend and inflation, which had gone up to 600% in 1994, should be
reduced to single digit levels by year end.

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After Zimbabwe win, Mugabe warns his foes

        By Michael Wines The New York Times
        Monday, April 4, 2005

HARARE, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has warned Zimbabwe's political
opposition against taking to the streets to protest its defeat in
parliamentary elections, saying that his government "can also raise mass
action against mass action, and there would naturally be conflicts, serious
conflicts," as a result.
Mugabe delivered the warning Saturday as fliers circulated in Harare urging
citizens to reject the results of the Thursday elections, which stripped the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, of what little political
clout it had enjoyed.
But there was little evidence that Zimbabweans were prepared to protest the
elections, which the MDC has repeatedly called fraudulent.
The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said Saturday that his party had
no strategy to respond to the election results.
With all 120 legislative races decided, Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, had won 78 seats, the MDC won 41 and an
independent won one seat.
The outcome was a blow to the opposition, which won 57 seats in the last
election, in 2000, and had been predicting gains in the balloting last week.
Because Mugabe personally fills 30 other seats in the 150-member Parliament,
the election results mean that his party has gained the two-thirds majority
it needs to change Zimbabwe's Constitution.
Western governments and human rights groups had joined the opposition in
denouncing the elections as rigged even before the vote was held. Many
reports have accused Mugabe's government of using a sheaf of tactics,
including threats to deny food to opposition voters and gerrymandered
legislative districts, to ensure its victory.
The opposition party said again on Saturday that the government had condoned
fraud, both during the vote on Thursday and in the counting afterward. But ,
it had yet to detail the charges, and so the complaints remained hard to
verify or refute.
As the last results trickled in on Saturday afternoon, a delegation of
election observers from South Africa declared that the elections reflected
Zimbabweans' preferences, and said it had seen no evidence of fraud during
its two weeks in the country.
That conclusion was not unexpected; South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki,
said the vote would be fair even before he dispatched observers. But the
declaration added a veneer of credibility to Mugabe's claims that he had run
an honest election before the world's press and outside observers, albeit
ones largely friendly to his rule.
A more impartial measure may come in when the nongovernmental Zimbabwe
Election Support Network, which dispatched 6,000 unofficial observers to
monitor the elections, releases its first assessment of the vote.
In the meantime, Mugabe, the nation's leader for 25 years, savored his
party's victory on Saturday with a show of serene confidence in front of
perhaps 100 foreign journalists invited to Zimbabwe's State House, the vast
colonial-style residence near central Harare.
In off-the-cuff remarks, Mugabe complimented the opposition for what he
called a tolerant and orderly campaign, and compared its drubbing with a
defeat in sports. "The losing side, although it gets disappointed, must not
look on it as the end of the world," he said, "and must be sporting enough
to accept defeat and not look for excuses."
Indeed, he said, ZANU-PF was prepared to work with the opposition in
Parliament to deal with Zimbabwe's difficulties, which include a collapsed
economy and hunger nearly nationwide.
But Mugabe's demeanor changed when the question of protests against the vote
was raised. Any protest that might lead to violence would be met with "law
and order instruments," he said, an apparent reference to police and
military forces that have crushed other protests, notably a June 2002
national strike. He also called the opposition's supporters "a very violent
people" whose protests had destroyed businesses and damaged innocent
people's vehicles.
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      African Observers Endorse Zimbabwe's Parliamentary Elections
      By  Peta Thornycroft
      03 April 2005

African observer groups say that Zimbabwe's general election reflected the
will of the people, despite allegations by opposition leaders of fraud. The
ruling ZANU-PF party won enough seats to control a two-thirds majority in

The Southern African Development Community's observer mission concluded
Sunday that the election complied, by and large, with electoral principles
laid down by the regional grouping.

One member of the group, from South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance,
distanced herself from the group's report. Mauritians in the group were not
present at the final briefing.

The SADC mission expressed concern that some voters were unable to cast
ballots because their names were missing from voter lists or they lacked
proper identification. But a spokeswoman for the team said the problems did
not affect vote results.

On Saturday, a South African observer group endorsed the election. The group
said it would present a more detailed report to South African President
Thabo Mbeki.

Both the SADC and the South African observer groups had fewer than 50
members each and observed a small percentage of voting and vote-counting at
more than 8,000 polling stations. Both groups welcomed the peaceful lead up
to the poll and the efficient conduct of the poll itself.

President Robert Mugabe banned Western observer groups and several others,
who have traditionally observed Zimbabwe's national polls.

A local, non-governmental organization, the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network, trained 6,000 observers. Their report welcomed the absence of
violence leading up and during the election.

But the head of the group, Reginald Matchaba Hove, said Zimbabwe did not
comply with SADC election principles in the leadup to Thursday's polling. He
said a climate of fear has surrounded the election process in Zimbabwe since
the 2000 parliamentary election, which was marked by violence.

At a news conference Sunday, Dr. Matchaba-Hove, a medical doctor, said that,
although this election was generally, peaceful, there were reports of
political pressure.

"Opposition political parties were not free to campaign in certain parts of
the country.  [There were] reports of intimidation and the politicization of
food distribution was used to persuade the citizens to vote for the ruling
party. Traditional leaders threatened their subjects with eviction, and,
sometimes, unspecified action, should they fail to vote for the ruling
party," he said.

Dr. Matchaba-Hove also said security and media laws limited freedom of
assembly and speech.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which won 40 percent of the
vote, accuses the government of widespread fraud and intimidation.

ZANU-PF won all but 42 of the 120 seats contested in Thursday's election.
President Robert Mugabe then appoints another 30 parliamentarians, giving
the ruling party a two-thirds majority, which will allow it to change the
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New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's restive south glum over Mugabe victory

By Emelia Sithole
Last updated: 04/04/2005 01:15:52
ZIMBABWE'S southern Matabeleland region, long chafing under President Robert
Mugabe's rule, was in gloomy mood on Sunday after his ruling party's victory
in a disputed parliamentary election.

Matabeleland voters, still bitter over an army offensive 20 years ago which
rights groups say killed 20,000 civilians, voted heavily for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), giving it all but 5 of the province's
19 seats.

But as with elections in 2000 and 2002, Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF took the
national vote -- this time extending its dominance with a two-thirds
parliamentary majority that will permit it to change the constitution at

The victory was labelled a fraud by the opposition and western governments,
who charged Mugabe with stealing his third election in five years.

In Matabeleland, there was grim resignation.

"As you can see, we are trying to drown our sorrow. We thought there would
be change this time but it's the same old story," said 40-year-old Dan
Tabisa as he sat in a bar in Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo,
listlessly sipping a beer with a couple of friends.

"This means five more years of suffering for us here in Matabeleland.
Industries are closing down so unemployment is high and I don't see any hope
of a change now," he added.


His sentiments were echoed by scores of people in Bulawayo and surrounding
areas, with most shrugging their shoulders despairingly when asked about
ZANU-PF's victory.

"I'm very unhappy because my party lost. There's no development in this
region and people are suffering. I haven't had a real job for five years now
and I'm just scratching around for a living," said a 42-year-old man in
Nyamandlovu, 40 kms (25 miles) southeast of Bulawayo, who gave his name as

Analysts say Thursday's election will worsen a crisis that has ruined the
once-prosperous nation and which critics blame on Mugabe's mismanagement and
his chaotic seizure of white-owned land for redistribution to landless

Unemployment is 70 percent, inflation at about 130 percent and food and fuel
are in short supply.

Matabeleland has been a thorn in Mugabe's side ever since a rebellion
against his rule two years after independence in 1980.

The army assault followed government accusations that Matabeleland supported
plans for an armed revolt against Mugabe's rule led by a rival nationalist
leader, Joshua Nkomo.

The crackdown in the minority Ndebele-speaking region fuelled ethnic
tensions with the Shona who dominate Mugabe's government that only subsided
with a 1987 peace pact.

For many in Matabeleland, the ruling party's victory was no surprise,
although the opposition's poor performance did leave many questioning the
way forward.

"I think the MDC needs to change its tactics if there is to be any hope of
defeating ZANU-PF because we keep voting for them but they keep losing,"
said a store security guard in Bulawayo who declined to give his name -

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From The Sunday Times (SA), 3 April

Labour minister unfazed by 'ghosts'

S'Thembiso Msomi

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, who has controversially led the
government election observer mission to Zimbabwe, put his foot in it again
yesterday at a packed press conference in Harare. A correspondent asked him
why, in his written statement, he chose not to declare the elections "free
and fair", as is traditionally done, but said "they reflected the will of
the people". In a response that seemed to amaze his own colleagues, former
Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramathlodi and South Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe,
Jerry Ndou, Mdladlana told journalists that he saw no reason to "follow
anybody else's culture". When another journalist asked him about claims that
there were massive discrepancies with the voters' roll, Mdladlana said he
had heard about the existence of "ghosts" but did not believe in them.
Cornered by TV cameras after the briefing and questioned about the
allegations of ghost voters, he said: "Have you seen them? Why do you expect
me to see them when they are dead?" The mission has said it will recommend
that Parliament "severely reprimand" Democratic Alliance member Roy
Jankielsohn and Independent Democrats member Vincent Gore for issuing media
statements that prejudged the outcome of the elections and contained untrue,
unverified claims. The mission, led by ANC member Mbulelo Goniwe, who
commended the poll as "credible, legitimate, free and fair", said it would
also ask that the two men reimburse Parliament for the cost of their trip.
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From one of our contributors:

The views expressed in this email are my own engendered by discussions I
have had with friends and do not reflect those of any recipient.  I am
mailing a lot of people.  I would not want to get someone in trouble just
because I frustratedly mailed him or her my views.  Following the recent
elections I find myself wondering why the MDC does not call strongly
worldwide to set up a government in exile and develop momentum and world
support to this end.  Also aren't all Zimbabweans weary enough in their
heart of hearts to want to lay down arms if exhorted and encouraged to end
the infliction of pain on each other and join in brotherhood for true
democracy and freedom from fear and further oppression.

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Zim Standard

Rigging exposed
By Foster Dongozi

Glaring discrepancies in vote figures ZANU PF won 78 seats in the final
count of Thursday's Parliamentary elections, but the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), which managed 41, last night said it had uncovered
evidence of massive "vote-rigging".

The remaining seat out of the 120 that were contested, went to an
independent in Tsholotsho.
Zanu, which has won the Chipinge constituency since independence in 1980,
lost spectacularly to the ruling party. It managed a paltry 2 129, against
16 412 for Zanu PF's candidate.

During the 2000 Parliamentary elections, Zanu PF won 62 seats, while the MDC
nearly levelled the contest with 57 seats. The remaining seat was won by

While the final count announced yesterday suggests gains for the ruling
party, the MDC says it has discovered discrepancies in 31 constituencies,
with the largest discrepancies recorded in Beitbridge, Goromonzi, Makoni
North, Murehwa South, Mutare South and Seke.

The discrepancies allegedly occurred in Mashonaland East, Manicaland,
Mashonaland West and Matabeleland South.

With the opposition still trying to come to terms with how it could have
lost an election that it was so confident of winning, The Standard can
reveal what could have happened.

After voting was completed on Thursday, a Zimbabwe Elections Commission
(ZEC) official announced the number of people who had voted in each

The announcement was abruptly stopped without explanation.

An example of the discrepancies is that in Chegutu, where although ZEC
announced that 19 763 people voted, the total votes cast for the two
candidates amount to 24 828, leaving 5 065 votes unaccounted for.

In Beitbridge, ZEC announced that 36 821 had voted but the totals for the
candidates only add up to 20 602, leaving 16 219 votes unaccounted for.

In Goromonzi, for example, ZEC announced the total votes cast as being 15
611. However, the winning Zanu PF candidate received 16 782 votes to the
MDC's 8 578, totalling 25 360, with the discrepancy being 9 749 votes.

The total votes cast for Makoni North, according to ZEC was 14 068. However,
the winning Zanu PF candidate received 18 910, with the MDC's candidate
polling 6 077 votes, giving total votes for the two candidates as 24 987.
There is a difference of 10 919 votes between this total and the ZEC's.

One of the six constituencies registering higher discrepancies, Mutare
South, shows that the total votes cast is 28 575, with 16 412 of these being
for the winning Zanu PF candidate and 12 163 for the MDC.However, the ZEC
figures for the total votes cast is 14 054, registering a discrepancy of 14

In Murehwa South the total ZEC figure for votes cast is 8 579, however, the
winning Zanu PF candidate received 19 200 votes, while the MDC candidate
received 4 586, giving a total of 23 786. There is a discrepancy of 15 207.

ZEC's total votes cast in Seke are given as 11 344, but the winning Zanu PF
candidate received 15 434, while his MDC counterpart received 8 843,
totalling 24 277, and registering a discrepancy of 12 933.

When asked for an explanation last night, the ZEC spokesperson,, Utloile
Silaigwana, asked The Standard to put its question in writing. Chief
Elections Officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi, said they had already dismissed
their staff.

"We would have to sit down and consult on the figures. But we have not
received any formal complaints," Sekeramayi said.

While President Robert Mugabe was last night crowing, claiming victory in
the elections, several observer missons suddenly postponed media briefings
on the out-come of the elections.

MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, last night said senior officials in the
Central Intelligence Organisation had informed him that in Matabeleland
North and South they had only lost Tsholotsho while in the Midlands, they
had only lost in Mberengwa East and West.

"In Mashonaland West, we had won Kariba, Chinhoyi, Hurungwe West, Chegutu
and Manyame. In Mashonaland Central, we won Guruve North and South, Shamva
and Bindura.

"In Mashonaland East we won in Chikomba, Hwedza and Goromonzi, while in
Masvingo we won in all the constituencies."

Only the South African Observer Mission pronounced the election as "a
reflection of the will of the people of Zimbabwe".

Its head of delegation, Membathisi Mdladlana, has already discredited
himself and his government after declaring that the elections would be free
and fair before they had even started.

Organisations that postponed press conferences on the elections include the
African Union, the SADC Elections Observer Mission, Zimbabwe Election
Support Network and an organisation of churches.

Last night, information on the discrepancies started filtering through and
could result in the ruling party's two-thirds majority being whittled down
and could even result in an MDC victory.

President Mugabe declared on Thursday after casting his ballot that he was
confident of getting a two-thirds majority.

When The Standard challenged Mugabe yesterday at State House on what he had
based his confidence, he declared that it was because of the party's role in
liberating the country.

"It was based on the fact that we are a strong party, from our
pre-independence times when we fought for the liberation of our country and
the same is for the ANC in South Africa, SWAPO in Namibia, MPLA in Angola
and FRELIMO in Mozambique.

"People don't forget those who liberated them."

A week before elections, a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Joseph Kurebwa,
published an opinion poll whose prediction is startlingly close to the
outcome of the final results.

In a move that was interpreted as an attempt to keep the international media
spot-light away from the Zimbabwean elections, George Charamba, President
Mugabe's spokesperson and Permanent Secretary in the Department of
Information and Publicity, announced the government would today take foreign
journalists on an all-expenses paid free trip to Victoria Falls on an Air
Zimbabwe flight.

Foreign news crews jostled to put their names down for the trip, paid for by
a nation, which is failing to provide medical supplies for its collapsing
health sector.

Tsvangirai said the party leadership had obeyed the wishes of its supporters
who had insisted on participating in the elections despite the uneven
playing field.
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Zim Standard

$3 trillion needed for drought relief
By Allen Ndoro

THE government will require more than $3 trillion or US$225 million to
import maize to cover the severe food deficit that is facing the country
this year, analysts have said.

In the 2005 National Budget, Herbert Murerwa, the Acting Minister of Finance
and Economic Development had only budgeted $100 billion dollars for drought
relief and this money is not enough as the government has already exhausted
almost $20 billion of the allocated money.
Tendai Biti, the secretary of economic affairs in the opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the money allocated by government
was too little in the face of the amount of food the government needs to

"If we produce 600 000 tonnes of maize this year we are very lucky and we
need to import more than 1, 4 million tonnes of maize and the money budgeted
for government is nothing," Biti said.

He said the country was going to need more than $5 trillion to import food.
The government was going to finance the importation of food through printing
more money, a move that will have serious repercussions on the
anti-inflation drive, said Biti.

John Robertson, an independent economic analyst said the government needs to
import almost 1,2 million tonnes of maize and 300 000 tonnes of wheat at a
cost of US$225 million.

He also said the $100 billion allocated by government was not enough as the
government was going to be forced to subsidise the costs of the imported
food because it is more expensive than the local food whose price is

"The government is going to be forced to print this money to buy food as it
cannot borrow the money due to the low interest rates it has been offering
to the local lenders," Robertson said.

He added that the government was going to realise less revenue from company
taxation and PAYE because the economy was not showing any signs of the
much-hyped about economic turn around plan.

"Less companies are declaring profits and some are even closing and this
deals a big blow on government finances as it now relies more on taxes," he

When contacted for comment, Murerwa declined to comment and said he would
only talk after the elections.

"You just want to electioneer on this, we will talk after the elections,"
Murerwa said.

The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mangwana
admitted that the money budgeted for drought relief was not enough as it was
meant for perennial drought prone areas .

"You do not Budget for a drought and we have started assessments on how many
tonnes the country is going to require in food aid," said Mangwana.

Efforts to contact Joseph Made, the Minister of Agriculture, were fruitless.

Robertson said as a result of the drought, the economy was likely to shrink
by almost 3% as key sectors such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing
were declining.

He added that the country needed to get aid from international agencies, as
it did not have the foreign currency to import food.

The government last week denied claims that it was denying opposition
supporters food and Mangwana said the Grain Marketing Board had distributed
more the 74 000 tonnes of maize in the Matabeleland provinces alone.

He said that his ministry had set up the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment
Committee (Zimvac) to monitor the food situation in the country.
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Zim Standard

Soldiers accused of 'intimidating' voters
By our own staff

GWERU - Soldiers based at the Zimbabwe Military Academy (ZMA) in Gweru
toyi-toyed in the city's suburbs of Gweru East and Kopje in the early hours
of the morning on Wednesday, a day before the country's sixth parliamentary
elections were held last week.

Ruling Zanu PF youths at Mkoba Shopping 6 Centre, a distance of less than
100 metres from a polling station, wore their party T-shirts in full view of
the police at the centre.
The move was widely seen as a way of trying to intimidate voters in the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) strongholds. It was
vigorously condemned by the MDC, which blamed the police for turning a blind
eye to the incidents while making a fuss about the arrest of a 54- year-old
Gweru woman who waved at her friends whom she had seen at a polling station
at Riverside.

Ironically, police arrested the woman but no arrests were made on close to
eight Zanu PF youths who were wearing party T-shirts at Mkoba Shopping

According to the Electoral Act, it is an offence for anyone to wear
political party regalia or to campaign within 200 metres of a polling

"If they arrested a woman for waving an MDC symbol, what stopped them from
arresting ruling party youths who were at Mkoba Shopping Centre clad in Zanu
PF T-shirts ," said MDC chairperson for Midlands South province, Lyson

He also blamed the army for trying to create a tense atmosphere by going
through suburbs and the city centre toy-toying and singing Chimurenga songs.

Patrick Kombayi, an MDC spokesperson for Midlands South, said in an attempt
to rig the elections, some pages in the voters' roll in Mberengwa East
constituency were missing. He said one of the missing pages had the name of
their party's candidate, Sekai Holland.

"We were surprised why Mrs Holland's name was missing. After going through
the voter's roll, we discovered that a page which had her name and names of
other people was missing," Kombayi said.

The constituency registrar, Ticharwei Mashininga, confirmed the issue but
said it was only at Mataga where the voter's roll was defective as it did
not have page 170, which had Holland's name and those of other people.

He said the problems were quickly rectified and Holland and the others were
allowed to vote. He also brushed aside allegations by Holland that people
with Ndebele and English names were removed from the voters' roll as they
were suspected of being MDC supporters.

Throughout the parliamentary campaign period, MDC's Holland and independent
candidate, Goodwill Shiri, blamed Zanu PF's candidate, Rugare Gumbo, for
intimidating voters and instructing headmen and chiefs to lead their
subjects to the polling stations.

Gumbo has since denied the allegations and described his accusers as "insane
and confused".

In Chirumanzu, Kombayi said his party was not happy with the large number of
voters turned away on reasons that they did not appear on the voters' roll.
"There were close to 1 500 people turned away in Chirumanzu constituency for
flimsy reasons. We believe most of these people were deliberately removed
from the voters' roll for rigging purposes," Kombayi alleged.

The constituency registrar for Chirumanzu, Makanzwei Jecheche, confirmed
Kombayi's allegations that people were turned away at polling stations in
Chirumanzu and gave the total figure as 1581.

He said they were turned away for various reasons such as not appearing on
the voters' roll or not having proper indentification documents.
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Zim Standard

Mugabe urged to ditch NGOs Bill
By Foster Dongozi

THE signing of the controversial Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Bill
into law could be a death knell for the starving Zimbabwean masses as the
country faces what could be one of the most devastating droughts in living
memory, analysts have warned.

The NGO Bill was passed by Parliament on 9 December 2004 and only awaits
President Robert Mugabe's signature to become law.
According to the Constitution, the President has 21 days within which to
sign the Bill to become law but the 21 days have since lapsed.

If and when it becomes law, it will bar NGOs from receiving foreign funding
for governance programmes.

The minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mangwana,
whose ministry was instrumental in crafting the NGOs Bill, confirmed the
Bill had been presented to Mugabe but could not give the date.

"The Bill was sent to the President some time ago but I cannot remember when
because right now we have been campaigning and I have not been to my

Constitutional law expert, Lovemore Madhuku, said the Bill would lapse after
21 days of being presented to the President.

"If the President does not sign it into law, it simply means that the Bill
ceases to exist," Madhuku said.

NGOs argue that the rights to access food, the rights of the disabled and
the right to access HIV/AIDS treatment should not be classified as
governance issues.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary for lands and
agriculture, Renson Gasela, said many villagers were starving, especially in
the rural areas."Only an insensitive government would come up with laws that
would condemn its people to go through hardships especially hunger.

"The twin evils of hunger and HIV/AIDS are a very destructive force. The
effect of HIV/AIDS will be more devastating if people suffer from hunger
which could be made worse by the signing of the NGO Bill," said Gasela.

However, sources said with the drought ravaging the countryside and a Zanu
PF majority in Parliament, Mugabe might choose to appease the international
community by not signing the Bill into law.

Bob Muchabaiwa, the Research and Advocacy Officer for the National
Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) said they had
petitioned President Robert Mugabe not to sign the Bill into law.

"Your Excellency, we appeal to you not to give assent to the NGO Bill
because of its devastating effects on ordinary citizens, the economy and the

"All the work that NGOs do is human rights work whether its access to water,
land, information, education, treatment or promoting the rights of people
with disabilities or living with HIV and AIDS," reads part of the petition.

The petition says the signing into law of the Bill would have a negative
impact on the Zimbabwean economy.

"Some of our members have already lost some of their funding as a result of
the Bill. This will result in the reduction in foreign aid and foreign
currency in-flows into the country.

"It is our conviction, as NGOs that given the current socio-economic
situation in the country, where 70-80 percent of the population is surviving
below the poverty datum line and unemployment hovering between 60-80
percent, where over one million children are orphans and where 25 percent of
the population is infected by HIV/AIDS, the NGO sector is a safety net,"
reads part of the petition.

Muchabaiwa said because of the uncertainty on whether the Bill would be
signed into law, international donors were withholding funding while
programmes like the anti-HIV/AIDS fight were collapsing.

Tourism industry boss, Shingi Munyeza, has already raised alarm bells about
the possible outlawing of NGOs, saying about 60 percent of hotel business
was being provided by NGOs after tourists stopped visiting the country
because of lawlessness.

The Secretary General of the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled
(SAFOD) and chairman of the National Council of the Disabled Persons of
Zimbabwe (NCDPZ), Alexander Phiri, described the NGO Bill as an
anti-Disability piece of legislation.

"Based on the government's inability to feed the people because it is
bankrupt, I think it will need to come up with a magic formula to feed the

"If that Bill is signed into law, it would be a death sentence for
Zimbabweans as that would mean the drying up of funds to support disability,
HIV, orphans and other programmes that support vulnerable groups."

He said if signed into law, programmes designed to help disabled people
would be affected.

Phiri said the disability movement depended a lot on the international
community, churches and philanthropists and they faced harsh times if the
Bill was signed into law.

"For a poor country like ours to claim that we can rely on our own resources
is a complete fallacy. I would like to appeal to the President to rise above
emotion and be guided by good reason," Phiri said.
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Zim Standard

Mbare vendors threatened with eviction
By Caiphas Chimhete

THE elections may be over, but vendors in Mbare say they are living in fear
of the ruling Zanu PF because the party's activists in the suburb allegedly
threatened repossession of their stalls if they were found to have voted for
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the just ended 31
March parliamentary election, The Standard has learnt.

Last week, Zanu PF youth militia moved from house to house in the high
density suburb taking down people's names and identification particulars
saying they wanted to know the total number of voters in the constituency.
They reportedly did the same at the Mbare Musika.

"The situation was intimidatory because we don't know what they want to use
the information for. We complied because if you resist you will be labelled
an MDC supporter and lose your stall," said one vendor, who requested
anonymity for fear of victimisation.

A fortnight ago, Zanu PF candidate for Mbare, Tendai Savanhu, allegedly
visited vendors and threatened them with eviction if they voted for the MDC
in the parliamentary elections on Thursday.

"He moved from stall to stall telling us that if we voted for the MDC we
would lose our stalls. It always happens during election time and people are
afraid of losing their stalls because it is their only source of
livelihood," said another vendor.

Contacted for comment Savanhu said it was actually the MDC supporters who
were going around the high density suburb getting all IDs from elderly
people suspected of supporting the ruling Zanu PF.

"They lied to people that they wanted their names and IDs so that they would
get some maize meal but they disappeared with the IDs. They were operating
from a house in Fourth Street but they have since disappeared," said
Savanhu, adding that a report had already been made to the police. He did
not provide details of the police report.

But Gift Chimanikire, the MDC candidate for Mbare, who won last Thursday's
polls alleged that Zanu PF youth militia recently ejected at least six
opposition party supporters from Mbare Musika. He said the case was reported
at Mbare Police Station but the youths, well known in the area, have not
been arrested.

"Savanhu is lying. At the moment the MDC is paying monthly rentals and food
for the six until they are allowed back to carry on with their business,"
Chimanikire said.

However, the Officer Commanding Mbare District, Tsitsi Sadzamare, said they
had not received any reports from both the MDC and Zanu PF regarding groups
of youths going around demanding voter's identification particulars. "We
have not received such reports lately," Sadzamare said.

Dozens of vendors lost their stalls in Mbare after being branded opposition
MDC supporters during the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential
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Zim Standard

Massive pay hike for domestic workers
By Rutendo Mawere

DOMESTIC workers have been awarded a massive salary increment of over 1 000
percent, a situation that could see most of them on the streets as most
employers would not be able to pay them, The Standard has established.

The increment flies in the face of central bank governor, Gideon Gono's
proposal in one of his monetary policy review statements that salary
negotiations should not exceed 95 percent this year.
According to the Statutory Instrument 42 of 2005 gazetted on Good Friday,
the increment will see a cook/housekeeper, who does not reside on the
employer's premises, getting a minimum wage of $1 256 000.

The figure includes allowances for the following: accommodation ($100 000);
transport ($140 000); lights ($60 000); fuel ($86 600); and water ($20 000).

Those residing on the premises of their employers will be entitled to $850
000 a month, up from $90 000.

The increment, effective from 1 March 2005, means most domestic workers are
entitled to a back pay, as most employers had already paid them their old

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, Willington
Chibebe said the increment will see a lot of domestic workers out of

"No ordinary employer is capable of paying the gazetted salaries," he said.

Chibebe said the union was actually surprised as the government through the
Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, had suggested $135 000 a month when
the Wages and Salary Advisory Board met recently.

"We had suggested $500 000 but as a board we settled at $400 000 and we were
not advised of the released figure," said Chibebe, who suspects the
gazetting could have been a political gimmick as the increment coincided
with the 31 March parliamentary elections.

The ZCTU secretary-general said the union would soon meet with Zimbabwe
Domestic and Allied Workers Union (ZDAWU), Employers' Confederation of
Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) and other relevant organisations to map the way forward.

The president of EMCOZ, Mike Bimha, was not immediately available for

Hilarious Ruyi of the ZDAWU, welcomed the increment saying it would help
improve the living standards of domestic workers as the $90 000 they were
getting was not enough.

"We actually wanted a million dollars as domestic workers salaries reviews
are done once a year. Actually, other sectors should take this as an
opportunity to negotiate for better wages," Ruyi said.

However, he pointed out that employers, who genuinely could not comply with
the law, could apply to the ministry for exemption.

The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mangwana,
could not be reached for a comment by the time of going to print.
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Zim Standard

State blocks donation to Mutare council
By own correspondent

MUTARE -The government allegedly blocked the donation of 50 refuse bins to
Mutare City Council recently, saying it would promote the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)-run council ahead of last week's
parliamentary elections, The Standard was told.

Sources within the council said the 50 tilting bins were supposed to be
attached to streetlights along the main streets in Mutare last week but this
was delayed to allow voting to take place.
The sources said the government, through the governor's office, blocked the
donation arguing it was politically incorrect to donate to the MDC-council
at that time, as that it would be "sprucing up" the image of the opposition
party ahead of last Thursday's crucial poll.

"The bins were to be handed over to the council last week but the governor's
office ordered that to be halted until after the elections," said a source,
who preferred not to be named.

The source said the refuse bins had been donated by a local insurance

Mutare executive mayor, Misheck Kagurabadza, would neither deny nor confirm
the story.

"We were only told by the donor that the hand-over would be done after the
parliamentary elections and we said 'fine'," Kagurabadza said.

Manicaland provincial governor, Mike Nyambuya, could not be reached for a
comment by the time of going to print.

But an official from his office said: "It was postponed to a later date as
people who are supposed to officiate are busy with parliamentary campaigns."

Currently, the financially troubled council is facing a serious shortage of
refuse bins and collection trucks and as a result the refuse collection is
erratic and rubbish dumping is rampant.
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Zim Standard

Global Fund relents on Zimbabwe
By Bertha Shoko

ZIMBABWE'S application for Aids funds in the first round of proposals to the
Global Fund, of which the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is the
principal recipient, has finally been approved, The Standard can reveal.

In the first call of proposals by the Global Fund in 2002, Zimbabwe applied
for funding to 'strengthen and scale up disease prevention and care of HIV
and Aids, malaria and tuberculosis' but only malaria was approved.
The malarial programme, now in its third year of implementation, received a
five-year grant and is being co-ordinated by the Ministry of Health.

Speaking to The Standard from Sweden on Friday, Jon Liden, head of executive
communications, said Zimbabwe's proposal for Aids funds had been approved
and was "very close to signing".

He said all consultations had been concluded and The Global Fund had finally
decided to give Zimbabwe a two-year funding for HIV and Aids.

The grant could be extended to three years, depending on the successes and
failures of the first two years of the programme.

Liden said Zimbabwe would receive US$10,3 million over two years, and US$14
million over three years.

"Zimbabwe first round of proposals for HIV and Aids funding has been
approved and we are in the process of finalising the grant offer. It is near
signing and everything should be official in the next few weeks," Liden told
The Standard.

"It has certainly taken long for reasons I cannot disclose but it has
finally been approved and hopefully in the next few weeks other details
about this will be quite clear."

The Minister of Health and Child Welfare and Chairman of the Country
Co-ordinating Mechanisms for the Global Fund, Dr David Parirenyatwa,
confirmed the approval but said he was yet to receive official notification
from the funding body.

He said the success of Zimbabwe's application for Aids funding would go a
long way in alleviating the suffering of many people affected and infected
by the HIV and Aids scourge.

"In the first round of proposal, we had requested for money to be used in
care and mitigation and it is in these areas that the huge chunk of the
money will go towards.

"We hope a small chunk of the money will be used for treatment that is
accessing Anti-retrovirals (ARVs) and other medicines for our people,"
Parirenyatwa said.

Zimbabwe's fourth round proposal to the Global Fund was turned down last
year, dashing plans by government to roll out a nation-wide ARV programme.
The success of Zimbabwe's application should bring more hope to thousands of
people affected and infected by HIV and Aids.

Zimbabwe is one of the worst affected countries in Southern Africa, with an
estimated 3 000 Aids-related death rate a week.
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Zim Standard

Mugabe outburst riles lawyers
By our own staff

THE recent outburst by President Robert Mugabe, which led to the suspension
of an Electoral Court decision to allow incarcerated Roy Bennett to contest
elections for the Chimanimani constituency, is direct political interference
into the operations of the judiciary that compromises its independence,
lawyers have said.

"I don't understand the court's decision. We can't be held to ransom by a
man who is in prison. That is absolute nonsense. We will study the decision
and appeal against it. He has a case to answer," said Mugabe, who described
the ruling as "madness".
Following the outburst by Mugabe, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
made an urgent appeal resulting in Justice Tendai Uchena handing down an
order suspending his earlier ruling, which had allowed Bennett to seek

But the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the comment
demonstrates a clear interference into the operations of the judiciary by
the political leadership.

"The interference with the judiciary in Zimbabwe by the executive and ruling
party politicians has become endemic and an issue of grave concern to the
lawyers in Zimbabwe and the international and regional community," reads
part of the statement.

ZLHR said ZEC could have taken Mugabe's comments as an instruction for it to
disregard a valid order of the court.

The lawyers also argued that according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
Act the ZEC is supposed to be an independent body and shall not be subject
to the "direction or control" of any person or authority in the exercise of
its functions.

ZLHR director Arnold Tsunga said the suspension of the initial ruling gave
the impression that the executive had coerced the judiciary to review the

"The judiciary was cowed into reviewing the judgement by the executive and
it does not inspire any confidence at all in the independence of the
judiciary," Tsunga said.

Bennett's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said the suspension was expected because
Mugabe appointed all judges and there was no judge who could who could dare
go against what he would have said.

"The Electoral Act is clear that there shall be no appeal but because of
what the President said the judge had to review his earlier judgement," said
Mtetwa, adding that she was challenging an application for a review in the
Supreme Court.

According to the Electoral Act, if a nomination paper has been rejected, the
candidate shall have the right to appeal such a decision to a judge of the
Electoral Court in chambers. The judge may confirm, vary or reverse the
decision of the constituency elections officer and there shall be no appeal
from the decision of that judge.

The president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), Joseph James, said
Mugabe's comments on the Electoral Court's ruling on Bennett were uncalled
for in a democracy, where the judiciary is supposed to be independent.

"It was very disappointing that the President had to say that publicly. I
expected some comments from the Chief Justice or the Judge President after
the attack. It exposes the whole system," James said.

Opposition MDC secretary for Legal and Constitutional affairs, David
Coltart, said the decision illustrated that the ZEC was not an independent
electoral body.

"How ZEC handled that case is clearly in response to Mugabe's comments and I
don't think they could have reacted the same way if the matter was affecting
the MDC. The comments are clear demonstration of contempt of court and the
judiciary," Coltart said.
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Zim Standard

Zim health crisis 'threat to SADC'
By Bertha Shoko

ZIMBABWE'S worsening political and economic crisis, which has forced
millions of people out of the country, posing a serious threat to the
"health status" of other states in the southern African region, a recent
report says.

The report by the South Africa-based Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM) warns of
a "health-care disaster" in the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) if the crisis in Zimbabwe remains unresolved.
It says the exodus of Zimbabweans to neighbouring countries - in search of
jobs, better living conditions or fleeing from political repression -
threatens the "health status" of neighbouring states.

Entitled: "Despotism and Disease: A report into the health situation of
Zimbabwe and its probable impact on the region's health", it says the exodus
could worsen the HIV and Aids crisis in the region.

"It is, therefore, incumbent on the SADC states, but particularly South
Africa, given its political and economic power, to recognise the crisis in
Zimbabwe and exert pressure on the Mugabe regime to reform, restore
democracy and reduce political violence. Anything less will destabilise the
region and imperil the health status of ordinary citizens in all
neighbouring states," says the report.

It is estimated that more than three million Zimbabwean refugees are in
neighbouring countries - two million of them in South Africa and another 400
000 in Botswana.

The report says with HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis rampant in
Zimbabwe, refugees "export" the diseases to neighbouring states.

Zimbabwe had an admirable health care system in the 1980's and had the
highest rates of immunisation in Africa, while life expectancy rose from 55
years at independence to 65 by 1987.

However, due to the subsequent collapse in healthcare and "bad governance",
life expectancy has fallen by 50% to barely 33 now.

The mass exodus of nursing staff, doctors and other health personnel has
also contributed to the country's deteriorating health standards.

"Lives that ordinary Zimbabweans now lead are not only shorter, but more
brutish and nasty," said main author and director of AFM, Richard Tren.

"Their lives are also in peril because of inadequate nutrition. For the
first time in decades, children with kwashiorkor (protein deficiency) are
streaming into clinics and hospitals."

Malaria has exploded in recent years because of the collapse of health

The report says the highly efficient malaria control teams "not only lack
insecticides, but also cannot obtain the fuel they require to drive into the
malarial areas".

"The result of this lack of control has been a sharp rise in malaria cases,
possibly in excess of two million cases (in a population of 11.5 million) in
2004, five times higher than the low of 400 000 cases in 1992."

The report says HIV and AIDS infection levels have reached "catastrophic"

"Anecdotal evidence suggests that the scale of the disease is substantially
worse than is reported in the country's increasingly unreliable statistical
analyses," notes the report.

The UN estimated that by 2003 every fourth adult was HIV-positive, but the
report says this is likely to be an underestimate.

More than 3 000 people die from AIDS-related diseases every week, while the
population of AIDS orphans has topped one million.

Despite the health problems, the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria last
year rejected Zimbabwe's application for funding, questioning the technical
competency of the application. Zimbabwe, however, cried foul saying the
decision was politically motivated.

However, the Global Fund has vehemently dismissed suggestions the decision
was politically motivated.
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Zim Standard

Zanu PF supporters 'seize' MDC money
Emmanuel Mungoshi

CHIVI - Zanu PF officials in Chivi allegedly confiscated money donated by
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the upgrading of a water
project saying people in the area should not accept donations from the
opposition party because it was "being funded by the West".

Bernard Chiondegwa, the losing MDC candidate for Chivi North in Thursday's
parliamentary elections, alleged that he donated about $4 million for the
upgrading of Madyangove Water Project but Zanu PF officials seized the money
from a committee tasked with the revival of the project.
"Zanu PF leadership in the constituency ordered the committee to surrender
the funds I had donated and anything bought using the money. They said it is
an insult to President Robert Mugabe if the people of Chivi benefited from
money obtained through selling the country (to the whites)," Chiondegwa

He said the water project had failed to take off because the beneficiaries
were afraid of Zanu supporters.

Chiondegwa said he gave the committee about $4 million to buy four
galvanized pipes as well as paying electricity bills.

"I had also agreed to make a five months advance payment of electricity at
the rate of $200 000 per month and to pay one of the three workers employed
by the committee," he said.

Chiondegwa lost the battle to represent the constituency in parliament to
Zanu PF candidate, Anita Maziriri after he polled only 4 303, against
Maziriri's 14 990.

Chiondegwa also alleged that Zanu PF District Coordinating Committee (DCC)
chairman for the area, Sandus Magwizi, on 5 March threatened teachers with
unspecified action if they attended rallies organized by the opposition

Chiondegwa told The Standard that the committee running the project,
composed mainly of school heads from the constituency, approached him
seeking assistance in replacing worn out PVC pipes.

"This has also made it difficult for the MDC to rally its supporters because
people are afraid of being victimised," Chiondegwa said.

A teacher at Jenya Secondary School, who requested anonymity, confirmed
massive voter intimidation from Zanu PF supporters in the area.

"When you know that something can endanger your life, the best thing to do
is to keep your distance. The situation is tense here," said the teacher.

Magwizi and the chairperson of the project, a Mr Fushayi of Tambudzayi
Secondary School could not be reached for comment.

However, police officer commanding Mashava, Inspector Marapire, confirmed
the water project wrangle but offered a different account of what took

She said Chiondegwa did not make a report of any money having been
confiscated by Zanu PF supporters.

"According to statements that we have here Magwizi did not in anyway
interfere with the events at the water project. He is said to have parked
his car near the place but did not interfere with the proceedings," Marapire

"Chiondegwa told the police that the committee later approached him seeking
transportation of the pipes they had bought. So if the money bought the
pipes where did the money that was allegedly confiscated by Zanu PF
supporters come from? Anyway, if that happened, Chiondegwa will have to make
another report," Marapire said.

The water project, which was initially under the District Development Fund
(DDF), ceased functioning four years ago.
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Zim Standard

Hyacinth compounds water problems for Harare residents

THE spread of the fast growing water hyacinth weed in Harare's Lake Chivero
is threatening the capital city's main water supply.

The floating weed, one metre tall in places, covers 40 percent of the lake
and is soaking up oxygen and sunlight, killing fish and reducing both the
quality and volume of water in the lake.
Water hyacinth has become a major pest in waterways around the world. Its
rampant growth can destroy native habitats, and high rates of transpiration
through the weed's leaves during summer can cause up to four times the loss
of water from normal water surface evaporation.

Environmentalists in Harare blame the spread of the weed on the discharge of
effluent, particularly raw sewage, into lake Chivero. They have called for
an integrated approach to tackle the problem.

The Environmental Management Act exists to provide strict guidelines on
policy implementation and ensure that stakeholders carry out their mandate
with respect to pollution control and preservation of the environment.
Pollution beyond accepted limits carries a five-year imprisonment penalty.

However, the provisions of the act, passed in March 2003, are still to be
effectively used. As a result, progress on controlling the discharge of
effluent into the lake and efforts to get rid of the hyacinth have so far
been unsuccessful.

The department of National Parks and Wildlife has been trying to control the
weed by using herbicides and removing it manually and with harvesting
machines. However, these methods require regular follow-up operations to
prevent re-infestation.

Progress was hampered because "the effluent has the effect of putting
fertiliser onto something you are trying to get rid of", National Parks
official Edward Mbewe said.

"The effluent impact is evident by the way we are losing fish. There is now
a lack of oxygen for them," he added.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), responsible for national
water pollution control, blames the Harare city council and is preparing to
force the council to pay for clean-up efforts.

The water hyacinth is concentrated on the eastern side of the lake, around
the discharge points for the Harare city council's sewage disposal works,
Shamiso Mtisi, a lawyer with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association
(ZELA) said. Mtisi added that ZINWA lacked the resources and manpower to
carry out effective monitoring on the ground.

According to the "polluter pays principle" of the Water Act, ZINWA can issue
permits at a cost to bodies wishing to discharge pollutants into water
sources after industrial use, but the polluted water must be recycled and
the pollutants reduced to harmless levels before the water is released into
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Zim Standard


Stiff challenges ahead for Zanu PF

ZANU PF will be celebrating its 'win' in last Thursday's Parliamentary
elections, but once the euphoria of its pyrrhic victory is over, real
challenges await it.

While the ruling party revels in its "increased" majority in the House, it
will need to reflect on the real task ahead, part of which is how Zimbabwe
got to be where it is today, who the real architects of the mess the country
finds itself in are, and more importantly how it proposes to go about
addressing a looming food crisis, nervous investors, its relations with the
international donor community, dwindling job opportunities, a collapsing
health care system and a spiralling cost of living.
It is ironic that one of the immediate effects of its decision before the
election was to create hardships for the lowly paid workers in the country.
Statutory Instrument 42 of 2005, which has quadrupled the wages of domestic
workers, will unfortunately throw many of them onto the streets, where most
will be condemned to starvation - and this at a time the government lacks
the capacity to play Santa Claus to everyone.

In the past, when minimal wage increases have been effected, domestic
workers have lost their jobs. The difference with the past, however, is that
at least they could retire to the rural areas, which offered a fall back
position. The drought this year means they will face starvation despite
government's efforts and pledges that no one will starve because of lack of

The situation this year will be worsened by falling foreign currency
inflows. The projected tobacco crop, whose selling season opens shortly this
month, sees a harvest that is a quarter of the crop the country produced
previously during its best season. The result is that there will be less
foreign currency to import grain, drugs for hospitals, never mind the
capacity to support the import requirements for commerce and industry.

The poll result can be 'interpreted' to mean that the majority who voted
expressed satisfaction and faith in the government and its policies.
However, one way of looking at the outcome is that it means a continuation
of the present predicament. The result suggests Zimbabweans are a happy lot
and that only a minority are unhappy with the state of things. Nothing could
be further from the truth.

The result also defies the question whether, on the basis of its record, the
government, has the capacity to move this country forward, to levels before
1995. But, if the outcome represents the will of the majority of the people,
then we shall see everyone getting down to work and the results of the
election promises being realised.

However, if on the other hand, the government made promises out of
desperation and the need to be re-elected, it faces the real task of how to
deliver on its promises. Delivering on its election promises will mean less
justification for Zimbabweans to look for greener pastures elsewhere, and
those that are abroad will have more confidence in the new set up to the
extent that projects such as Homelink will soon be bursting at the seams
with forex inflows from Zimbabweans working abroad. Really?

Much of the international community had pinned hopes on a leadership that
will be able to move the country forward, this suggests there was less
confidence in the winners of last Thursday's poll. This position, in part,
explains the stance taken by organisations such as the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank. They were waiting and hoping that after
Thursday, the government will offer indications for them to come on board
and support efforts to put Zimbabwe on the road to recovery. Last Thursday's
result has dashed those hopes.

A major challenge for the Zanu PF government as it savours its electoral
victory will be how to re-engage them and convince them that it now has the
resolve to tackle the problems this country has suffered from during the
past half a decade.

Events during the past five years eroded investor confidence in Zimbabwe. In
fact, investment, to all intents and purposes, is dead in the water. Part of
the government's promise to create more jobs rests on the country's
credibility as an investment destination that can be relied upon to respect
international agreements. The example of its approaches to the mining sector
would appear to suggest the opposite - scaring away investors.

In courting international support in order to implement its election
promises, the government will be anxious to allay charges of vote-rigging.
How it proposes to explain the outcome of results in Manyame, Chimanimani,
Gweru Rural, Mutasa and many other rural constituencies will be critical in
giving legitimacy to the outcome of the Thursday polls.

The high turn out during rallies has presented a poser: Except for the
interestingly high number of people who voted in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, the
votes cast this year are less than those recorded during the June 2000
parliamentary elections.

A possible explanation might lie in the number of people "turned away".
Figures for six of the provinces showed that the numbers turned away
equalled four constituencies.

The numbers turned away and the spoilt ballots are an indictment on the
authorities tasked with voter education, as well as the contesting parties.
This is the sixth poll since independence and the pattern should tend
towards a lesser number being turned away and fewer spoilt ballots.

More than anything else, it is explanations around this area that will
determine whether or not Zimbabweans believe the government's explanation
that it was not involved in electoral skulduggery.

We remain sceptical until convincingly proven to the contrary.
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Zim Standard

Mourning the passing of the 'Sunshine City

THE City of Harare, the hitherto sprawling metropolis of more than three
million people, whose beautiful environs and spectacular flora and fauna
endeared it to so many until it was affectionately called the "Sunshine
City", is no more.

It is now as dead as a door nail. It's a pity that no decent burial can be
accorded to the now fetid city as it lies in a cesspool of stink and
political game of ping pong played by amateurs and political apprentices.
I take umbrage at the prospect of watching our once beautiful capital
breaking apart courtesy of the Minister of Local Government, Public Works
and National Housing, Ignatious Chombo, whose reckless misjudgements have
destroyed a city that was once our national pride.

We cannot have a city, let alone a capital running on a budget of yesteryear
because his pet aversion is the MDC and the desire that it should be at his
beck and call.

Lest I am misconstrued as a passionate and ardent card-carrying member of
the ruling party, who has been disaffected by his single-handed impunity and
obduracy in the management of our city, I should state clearly that I am
surprised at the rank cussedness of some of these politicians.

Let me remind Chombo of what was left of his stint at the Ministry of Higher
Education. Our oldest institution of higher learning, the University of
Zimbabwe, another national land mark was left in a desolate state because of
his interference.

One would have thought that his move to the Ministry of Local Government was
going to be his point of soul searching, but alas, this was not to be. He
has a host of fully employed professionals in the City of Harare lining
their pockets everyday. It is a well-known fact that people are busy
thieving and nothing can be done about it.

One can only look at the once verdant streets, the dysfunctional street
lights and the filthy alleys in the central business district, which have
been turned into "stench town".

The Harare Gardens and the Africa Unity Square once greeted the visitor with
a wonderful smell of roses and our world famous jacarandas. But these have
become smelly and it is not surprising people no longer frequent these

Our traffic lights do not work consistently, potholes are in vogue while the
untended grass is just like any of the other underdeveloped African

The landmark Millennium Skywalk Bridge has become a public toilet as street
children and the destitute do as they wish and yet on either side of the
skywalk is a food court. Whatever happened to our environmental health staff
in council? Why does the Council not close the skywalk in the evening? Park
Street, near Construction House is the bathroom for street children.

Add to this the menace of litter, which people scatter as if it wereconfetti
at a wedding. Are there no enforceable by-laws to put an end to this
deterioration in standards?

If you go to Bulawayo you would be left wondering what it is the council and
the minister are doing that cannot be done in Harare. Bulawayo is by far
cleaner than Harare.

Lastly, the minister should do something about the late payment of workers'
salaries, which now stretches into two weeks of the following month. The top
guys receive their salaries on time, through their executive account.

In our African set up we know that parents first make sure that their
children are well fed before they themselves eat. It is my view that all the
top posts in council should be on performance related contracts.



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Zim Standard

A day in the life of Timothy Mushore
By Kumbirai Mafunda

TIMOTHY Mushore, a bakery worker in Zimbabwe's capital Harare, religiously
wakes up everyday at 5 AM to catch the usual dilapidated bus that takes him
to his workplace.

The bakery building is dusty, choking and the wall paint is peeling off such
that it no longer brings confidence to its 35 occupants.
Instead, for most of the day, Mushore and colleagues are pre-occupied with
the struggle of having to stretch meagre salaries month by month to keep
pace with the ever-changing prices of basic commodities.

Life has changed dramatically over the past four years that the likes of
Mushore don't even know what has hit them. Like millions other Zimbabweans,
the major concern for industrial worker, Mushore, 50, is just basic
day-to-day survival.

Zimbabwe with its once industrialised economy - an envy of many at
independence in 1980 - could afford to feed its workforce without a hassle.
Today industrial workers like Mushore are a shadow of their former selves as
they struggle to feed their families.

The father of five has to take sole care of his children because his wife is
unemployed. Apart from taking care of the needs of his immediate family,
Mushore has to support his extended family in rural Mutare, 300 km east of
the capital Harare.

Many Zimbabweans have seen their standard of living deteriorate dramatically
during the last four years because of the government's ill-considered
economic policies endure Mushore's burden.

The collapse of foreign investor confidence and the termination of financial
aid have led to a persistent shortages of foreign exchange. The lack of
foreign exchange that has led to the shortages of fuel and electricity.
Zimbabwe imports over a third of its required electricity from South Africa,
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique.

It is in this almost chaotic economic environment that Mushore and millions
of other manual labourers have to survive.

"We only come to work because we are used to waking up every morning", says
Mushore. "There is really no benefit to us as the money is all spent on
transport and the little food I can afford."

Since the government sanctioned the wholesale seizure of productive
commercial farms, the country's economic problems have taken a sharp turn
for the worst - hurting an agriculture-dependent economy. This has condemned
nearly half of the population to hunger and starvation.

Although the government says the land reform programme has unlocked many
potential farmers, many Zimbabweans do not share this view.

"I still try to farm every year but it's only my wife who can go to my rural
home with the few maize seeds I can buy," says Mushore.

He said because of the difficulties, even fertilisers has now become a
luxury addition to already over worked soils in the rural areas. Mushore's
wife's rural fields cannot produce enough to feed the whole family.

The seizure of all grain by the police and officials of the State-owned
Grain Marketing Board has made the situation worse. The GMB has the sole
monopoly to buy and move maize and all major highways leading into cities
are sealed off.

Even though Mushore says he would have wanted to bring his own cheap maize
from outside Harare, this has now been made impossible by police roadblocks.

Although almost all basic foodstuffs are now available in shops, not many
Zimbabweans can afford them because of their high prices.

Zimbabwe's once buoyant economy is sick and ordinary workers take much of
the brunt. The unbearable yoke of inflation, ranging at 127,6% and the
highest in the region, has severely affected businesses and industry.

Under such conditions, businesses say they cannot pay more than what they
afford and pass on the burden to consumers among such as Mushore.

The high rate of inflation and foreign currency shortages mean businesses
cannot expand and the few who still go to work consider themselves lucky.

While Zimbabwe is "burning", neighbouring countries such as Botswana and
South Africa boast of single digit inflation. Zimbabwe's high inflation has
become the albatross on workers like Mushore.

"I only earn $950 000 a month and that cannot meet my needs in a month. It
is a nightmare," he says.

To be continued next week
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Zim Standard

After the polls, which way Zimbabwe?
By Bornwell Chakaodza

ONCE again the great divide between the rural and urban constituencies has
reared its ugly head and unless President Mugabe and Zanu PF are magninamous
in 'victory', Zimbabwe will continue its slide into certain oblivion. The
situation is bound to get worse and more and more Zimbabweans will be forced
to leave the country.

Right now Zimbabwean people are angry and saddened. They are asking how on
earth Zanu PF could have won the election with such a wide margin given the
degree of suffering they are going through. Who voted for Zanu PF in such
large numbers when there was such a widespread feeling in the air that once
again, change must come?
Zimbabweans are failing to understand where Zanu PF's electoral appeal came
from given all the economic hardships and difficulties that are bedevilling
them on a a daily basis. For the predictions from almost everyone were that
the MDC was on the march to victory.

Be that as it may, President Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF must consider the
fact that despite the uneven electoral playing field and the tremendous odds
staked against MDC, millions of Zimbabweans did vote for the opposition

While the attitude of Zanu PF, if utterances by President Mugabe in his
campaign statements prior to the elections are anything to go by, is that of
"winner takes all," the interests of Zimbabwe as a whole, and not just
supporters of the ruling party, must take precedence if this country is to
weather its present predicament.

The point must be made that the two parties could have been neck and neck
(if not MDC as the sure winner) had it not been for the constitutional
anomaly that allows for 30 appointed seats already in President Mugabe's

Not to mention the fact that for five years the opposition MDC has been
battered left, right and centre by the ruling party, the police and all the
instruments at the government's disposal - rendering the whole electoral
process not free and fair.

It matters a great deal to lot of people both at home and abroad that it was
not until about five weeks ago that the MDC was allowed to campaign in the
rural areas and given token access to radio and television which to all
intents and purposes was dominated by the ruling Zanu PF party.

Whichever way one wishes to look at it, Zimbabweans are feeling the pinch in
the form of unemployment, rising prices, no money, deaths due to the
collapsed health delivery system - the list is endless.

For many Zimbabweans, the prospect of waking up in the morning after going
to bed at night with nothing to eat is as frightening as death itself.
Everywhere, companies, shops and factories are closing down. A visit to the
industrial areas of many towns and cities in Zimbabwe reveals the same
trend - empty buildings with nothing going on in them.

Once thriving mining settlements are now ghost towns populated by vendors,
prostitutes and other characters in dubious pursuits because much of the
countryside is now a jungle where only the fittest can survive.

The once buoyant agriculture sector is now a distant memory with the green
fields of wheat, maize and other crops that one saw as one drove on our
highways now just vast acres of weeds and wild bushes.

It is a dramatic irony that at the height of the farm invasions five years
ago, the government encouraged war veterans to vandalise commercial farms to
"instil fear in the white man". Today, the same government needs trillions
of dollars to restore the same infrastructure.

The country cannot continue like this. The reality of the crisis and Zanu
PF's failure to respond to it effectively can no longer be covered up. Yes,
election victory is the aim of all politicians but much more important is
what you do with the power that you have. This is the crux of the matter.
The goal of power is to change society, to make it better for all within it.

There is no way President Mugabe can ignore the millions of Zimbabweans who
voted for the MDC in this just-ended parliamentary election. Every one of
them is a Zimbabwean as much as President Mugabe is and is just as concerned
about the welfare of this nation as any other national would be.

Mr President, it is not outsiders who are making a plea for a government of
national unity. It is Zimbabweans, long-suffering Zimbabweans, your own
people who are yearning for a return to sanity and normality. It is not
Britain or British Prime Minister Tony Blair who is calling for a government
of national unity. It is the people of Zimbabwe.

MDC has not lost this election. In fact, the feeling is growing both
internally and externally that Zanu PF could have cheateds its way to
'victory'. International condemnation of Zanu PF's 'victory' appears
inevitable. Already, the MDC has described it as an 'electoral fraud'.

Zanu PF's destruction of the economy has so alienated the Zimbabwean voters
that they were so determined either to change the government itself or at
least the political structure of the country.

It is pertinent to remind Zanu PF that MDC was not created by the British
Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is Zanu PF which created the opposition by its
failure to deliver on its inependence promises. Fulfill the wishes of the
people and you can be returned to power ad infinitum.

In all fairness, Zanu PF started the electoral race with a clear advantage
of 30 seats which are neither elected nor contested. The key point that
needs to be made here is that to win recognition both internal and external
is much more important than 'winning' elections. This is the only road of
hope for Zimbabwe.

Zimbaweans fought for this country not for an individual or political party
to rule in perpetuity but for the people to choose their destiny, to decide
which political party best meets their needs when the time to make that
choice comes. That was what the war of liberation was all about.

Zimbabwe is much bigger than any individual and the country itself belongs
to all who live in it. President Mugabe can move on to a higher moral ground
the way he did it when he enunciated the policy of national reconciliation
in 1980.

The last thing the people of Zimbabwe want is the Orange Revolution,
Ukraine-style where that country's President Victor Yushchenko and thousands
of his supporters successfully disputed the election results by occupying
Parliament Square in the Ukraine capital, Kiev.

By a single stroke, the President can change the course of history of this
country and certainly change the face of Zimbabwean politics simply by
coming together with the opposition MDC in order to work out the rules of
the political game. By coming together with the MDC, I do not mean
managerial politics which boils down to an MDC person climbing the ladder,
occupying a ministrial office and thinking that a thorough political
overhaul has taken place. No. It does not mean that. Neither does it mean
President Mugabe dispensing patronage and largesse to MDC.

That would be no different from the way old PF Zapu was swallowed up by Zanu
PF. For there is no necessary connection whatever between an MDC minister in
President Mugabe's cabinet and democracy in practice.

It has to be a government of national unity in the truest sense of the
phrase: government of national unity that repeals all the repressive laws,
respects human rights and restores all the freedoms and democracy enjoyed by
the civilised world. If that were to happen and it has to, there is no
question that a new era would have begun in this beloved country of ours.

A government of national unity would certainly result in an overwhelming
internal and internationl vote of confidence in the reconstruction and
rebuilding of this country almost akin to the Zimbabwe Conference on
Reconstruction and Development (Zimcode) which took place at the end of
March 1981 - exactly 24 years ago.

That conference was a major success with massive sums of money pledged by
aid donors for development projects following the war of independence.

The just-ended parliamentary election, though being disputed, has provided a
window of opportunity if President Mugabe decides to grab it by the horns.

It is an event of hope born out of despair. It is an event of hope because
there is the promise of better things to come if President Mugabe and Zanu
PF put their shoulders to the wheel.

There are a lot of Zimbabweans outside of Zanu PF with various skills who
are passionate and eager to contribute to the process of rebuilding
Zimbabwe - Zimbabweans who are not interested in personal agrandisement -
like the so called chefs in Zanu PF who are using State power to promote
personal wealth accumulation - but just want to reconstruct Zimbabwe -
nothing more.

It now remains to be seen whether President Mugabe is prepared to surrender
personal and party ambitions and work with Morgan Tsvangirai - an important
player, a leader of the opposition for which millions of Zimbabweans have
voted for - in the interest of our country.
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Zim Standard

When Judges became politicians
sundayopinion By Wilbert Mandinde

THE dismissal of the infamous Minister of Information and Publicity in the
President's Office and Cabinet, Jonathan Moyo, probably ranks as having been
the most celebrated event which sparked a media frenzy during the past five

While Moyo may no longer be hogging the public limelight as much as before
following his fallout with President Robert Mugabe, the laws he is believed
to have assisted in crafting still haunt Zimbabweans in general and media
practitioners in particular.
The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) immediately
comes to mind after it claimed the lives of the The Daily News, The Daily
News on Sunday, The Tribune and The Weekly Times.

The joyous celebrations which greeted Moyo's political demise as a Zanu PF
appointed minister brought hope that Zimbabwe would once more return to the
days of unfettered media freedom.

Granted, the media environment in the pre-Moyo era might not have been the
best, but it was still far much better before he came on board.

Those who were still in a celebratory mood were, however, jolted back to the
reality of the prevailing media environment following the release of the
judgment in the matter between the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ)
versus the Minister of State for Information and Publicity and the Media and
Information Commission.

In the matter, ANZ had challenged the constitutionality of certain sections
of AIPPA to be discussed in detail below. The court also used the
opportunity to hear an appeal by the MIC against the decision by the
Administrative Court ordering the re-composition of the MIC, as well as the
issuing of a licence to the ANZ.

Historical overview

The first issue addressed by the Supreme Court dealt with the historical
background of the matter. The court mentions that ANZ only ceased publishing
as a result of a refusal by its journalists to continue practising without

The court does not mention, however, the fact that ANZ workers were not duly
accredited because the MIC had refused to accredit them.

The court also looked at the sections under challenge. The first section was
section 39 dealing with the functions and power of the Commission.

It would appear the court chose to rely on its previous decisions in the
Capital Radio (Pvt) Ltd vs the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and others
as well as the Association of Independent Journalists & Others vs The
Minister of State for Information and Publicity and others.

There is nothing wrong in relying on past judgments. In law one can talk of
precedent and indeed these are the precedents that the courts have set for

The High Court is bound by any decision of the Supreme Court but the Supreme
Court is not bound by its own previous decisions. If the judges believe that
the previous decisions were either arrived at in error or there is a
difference in the facts, then the Court can come to a different decision. In
this case, it was hoped that the Supreme Court would realise that in the
interest of media freedom and freedom of expression, their decisions in the
Capital Radio and Association of Independent Journalists cases were

It was also hoped that in this case, other judges would have read Justice
Wilson Sandura's dissenting judgment in the Association of Independent
Journalists case and would have been persuaded by it. That is now all water
under the bridge.

In dismissing the issue of the constitutionality of Section 39, the court
stated that ANZ had set out the factual basis of the issue in a manner that
did not enable the court to understand the nature of the alleged
unconstitutionality of the section. One would wonder why the court failed to
make inquiries which would have enabled the court to understand the factual

The purpose of a hearing like the one held on the 3 March 2004, is to make
oral submissions to the court and to answer any questions in clarification
of any issues the court would not have understood from the filed record
papers. It is pure dereliction of duty on the part of the court to fail to
ask pertinent questions and hide behind the unjustifiable reason that they
had failed to understand the unconstitutionality of the section in question

Appointment of MIC

Section 40 deals with the appointment and composition of the MIC. In
dismissing this issue, the court once again relied in its decision in the
Capital Radio matter. The court's decision was that the method of
appointment did not render such a Board subservient to the Minister. Who
would believe this when the Minister appoints all board members and it is
apparent such bodies owe their allegiance to the Minister.

History has shown that the first task performed by new Ministers when they
assume office is to dissolve the boards that would have been appointed by
their predecessors before replacing them with new members. It is in that
vein albeit for different reasons though, that whoever will land the post
vacated by Moyo will move swiftly in dissolving the present MIC chaired by
Dr Tafataona Mahoso.

Mahoso has displayed unmitigated bias when it comes to his loathing for the
independent press as evidenced by his weekly instalments in The Sunday Mail,
an unbecoming conduct on the part of one who is expected to adjudicate over
the affairs of the media in an impartial manner.

In his judgment, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku with the concurrence of
four other judges, states that for one to be appointed as a commissioner,
"merit alone is the basis for selection".

With due respect, who in the MIC was selected on merit?

In short, it is submitted that the MIC is not democratically constituted.
Members of the journalism profession do not elect it. The nature of its
constitution and its control by the Government are not consistent with the
desired independent and self-regulatory independent media council, and in
keeping with the democratic values which underpin the African Charter for
Human and People's Rights ratified by Zimbabwe.

Self-regulation is central to the independence of professions such as

A law denying self-regulation and independence is a law inherently inimical
to the principles of freedom of expression and the right to receive
information, ideas and beliefs, accountability, democracy and good

It is a law without justification in a democratic society particularly where
it is enacted in an environment where other remedies are available for
protecting the public's right to self- dignity, reputation and privacy.

Section 65

Section 65 restricts ownership of mass media services to Zimbabwean citizens
who are ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe. The issue regarding this section
was dismissed on the basis that ANZ had not shown that it had non-
Zimbabweans or Zimbabweans not ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe as

One can only wonder as to whether these judges live in a different planet.
Jonathan Moyo used to refer to the Daily News as the Strive Masiyiwa- owned,
foreign- controlled paper. The Supreme Court should have taken judicial
notice of the fact that Masiyiwa is not ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe and
proceeded to deal with the matter and make a ruling on the constitutional.

Masiyiwa has since relinquished his majority shareholding in ANZ.

Registration of Media Houses

Section 66 deals with the registration of mass media services and is very
similar to Section 79, which provides for accreditation of journalists. The
court found nothing unconstitutional about the issues of registration and

It is submitted that Sections 66 and 79 contravene Article 9 of the African
Charter for Human and People's Rights which provides that: "Every individual
shall have the right to receive information. Every individual shall have the
right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law."

Compulsory accreditation of journalists, irrespective of the quality of the
accrediting agency, interferes with freedom of expression. Temporary
accreditation, irrespective of the quality of the accrediting agency
interferes with freedom of expression.

AIPPA provides for accreditation for a period of 12 months only ending on 31
December or any part of the period of 12 months ending on 31 December from
the date of the first accreditation.

Registration and accreditation is not for free. Section 70 provides for the
payment of a registration fee, which shall be prescribed by the Minister.
The Supreme Court found nothing unconstitutional about the Section.

It is respectfully submitted that the accreditation fees provided for under
the Section are an additional restriction on freedom of expression. For
local journalists, the fee for a 12-month licence is $6 000 while the
renewal fee is pegged at $5 000. The fees are the same for a freelance

A journalist who wishes to work for a foreign media house has to fork out an
application fee of US$50 and an accreditation fee of US$1 000. To apply for
an accreditation on a temporary basis a foreign journalist is required to
pay an application fee of US$100 and an accreditation fee of US$500
regardless of the period of stay in the country.

Compulsory accreditation of journalists by a Commission which lacks
independence interferes with the professional independence and autonomy of
the journalism profession. Independence and autonomy of the journalism
profession is essential for the free receipt and dissemination of
information, ideas and beliefs.

Section 80

Section 80 (1) (a), (b) and (c) were struck down as unconstitutional while
the rest of section 80 was upheld as constitutional.

The court noted that section 80 has since been repealed and substituted by a
new section 80, which stipulates:

"A journalist who abuses his or her journalistic privilege by publishing:

(a) Information which he or she intentionally or recklessly falsified in a
manner which -

(i) threatens the interests of defence, public safety, public order, the
economic interests of the State, public morality or public health; or

(ii) is injurious to the reputation, rights and freedoms of other persons;

(b) information which he or she maliciously or fraudulently fabricated; or

(c) any statement -

(i) threatening the interests of defence, public safety, public order, the
economic interests of the State, public morality or public health; or

(ii) injurious to the reputation, rights and freedoms of other persons;

in the following circumstances

A. knowing the statement to be false or without having reasonable grounds
for believing it to the true; and

B. recklessly, or with malicious or fraudulent intent, representing the
statement as a true statement;

shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level seven
or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years."

Because the court delayed in delivering judgment, the issue of the original
section 80 became academic. The court ruled that the offending section had
been repealed. However it can still be argued that section 80 as it is shown
above is still unconstitutional.

In a democratic society, information, ideas and beliefs are protected even
if they may offend, shock or disturb the majority. Such are the demands of
pluralism, tolerance and broad-mindedness without which there can be no
democratic society.

It has been stated repeatedly in case law that even false statements
communicate certain truths and have a place in the market place of ideas
because they help the public to reject such false ideas by revealing them
for what they are.

Furthermore, and in any event, it cannot be denied that publication of
fiction, April fools jokes and critical satire is of some value. It is
submitted therefore that section 80 as it is, is still dangerous and still
has to be subjected to a constitutional test.


Court judgments

As was the case with the Administrative Court, the Supreme Court noted that
the MIC had seriously misdirected itself when it concluded that ANZ had
contravened sections 29, 39, 65, 72 and 79 of the Act without giving them an
opportunity to be heard on that issue.

The Supreme Court stated that this was a serious violation of the audi
alteram partem (both sides should be heard) principle. The Supreme Court
therefore agreed with the Administrative Court that the decision of the MIC
had to be set aside.

If the Supreme Court had stopped there, everyone would have rejoiced in the
spirit of maintaining and respecting press freedom. But, the Supreme Court
then castigated the Administrative Court for failing to take into account
non-compliance with the AIPPA Sections mentioned above by the ANZ.

In short, apart from the fact that the ANZ were not given a chance to
respond, the Supreme Court would not have had a problem with the fact that
the ANZ would have been denied a licence for non-compliance.

This is the "dirty hands" doctrine they applied on 11September 2002 when
they refused to hear the ANZ application. The dirty hands judgment has since
been described by many legal experts as incurably bad in law.

At common law, the noting of an appeal suspends the operation of a judgment.
In this case there was a constitutional appeal. Why then would ANZ have been
forced to comply with a law they were appealing against?

The reasoning of the Supreme Court in this case is still bad at law and is
not conducive to the creation of the enabling environment conducive for
media freedom and freedom of expression.
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Poll aftermath: Zanu PF, MDC stand-off lives on
sundayopinion by Tajudeen Abdul-Radeen

THE people of Zimbabwe went to the polls on Thursday in Parliamentary
elections that should tell us something about the power balance in this
country that was once a promising bright star but now yet another painful
metaphor for broken dreams and continuing nightmare both for its people and
other Africans.

The "something" may not be a lot because I do not think that this election
will give us an adequate reading of the real state of things between the
main parties who are virtually locked in a stand still confrontation. The
government saw only victory and the opposition pondered the prospects of yet
another unfair defeat.
The stand-off between the main opposition, Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF and the current pariah status of
the country internationally has paralysed the country.

It is impossible to think of a final peaceful settlement or a reasonable way
out of the impasse with President Robert Mugabe still at the helm of
affairs. As I argued on a CNN, last Wednesday the octogenarian ex-Comrade is
no longer part of the solution but central to the problem.

However, we all have to banish all thoughts of the old man doing the decent
thing and stepping aside (before 2008 when Presidential election is due) for
the sake of his party, country and people.

His rhetoric on the campaign trail and the belligerent tones do not indicate
that Uncle Bob is for turning soon. He has developed a siege psychosis,
grandiose paranoia and neo-fascist mentality which, make him to see all
opponents whether within his party, the government or in the country as

He believes he is Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is his. Having been in power for 25
years Mugabe and his cohorts can not imagine themselves ever losing power
therefore Zanu PF, at least the president's main faction of it, will do
whatever is possible (both thinkable and unthinkable) to "win" this
election. Brazen bribery, manipulation, and whatever tricks in the books of
electoral brigandage were deployed to ensure only one outcome: Zanu PF

Although it has to be said that the latest election was not marred by the
kind of violence witnessed both in the 2000 and 2002 parliamentary and
presidential elections respectively. Intimidation was less crude but had
taken on menacing subtleties.

Poverty and starvation were also being used to bring people round. Also
detailed attention was paid to the formal electoral processes by Zanu PF
strategists to ensure an uneven playing field. They made what appeared to be
concessions to SADC principles for a free and fair election but found ways
in which their advantage was guaranteed. If you need a lesson in form and
content Zimbabwe is a good theatre.

The government has learnt from other civilianising dictators across Africa
that the "successful" manipulation of election outcome is not done on the
final day itself, but at various preparatory stages that take place before
the hordes of election tourists descend on the cities and occupy the five
star hotels a week or two before the elections.

It was highly unlikely that Zanu PF would lose the polls. But the victory
would be at an even greater cost this time given the level of dissension in
recent months at the very heart of the Zanu PF elite itself and the country
even more. Mugabe is not just fighting "the MDC kids" but also many of his
formerly loyal "good boys" and veteran geriatrics including former ministers
and top commanders.

While the party may have lost a few seats to its latest ex-Zanu opposition
this may not be enough to unsettle the regime because they may not translate
into more seats for the main opposition, MDC. The MDC was likely to hold on
to its support base despite all the stratagems of Mugabe's storm troopers
and routine violence and intimidation from both the state and its freelance

The European Union has already declared the election a sham. The US has also
been blowing hot on Zimbabwe. But both of them have little or no impact on
Mugabe because of their direct or indirect historical complicity in creating
the settler colonialism that is the background to the current crisis.

Also their inconsistencies condemn them to criticism of hypocrisy in Africa
itself while they are shouting themselves hoarse over Mugabe they are
tolerant of other leaders who are also guilty of the same shenanigans as
Uncle Bob.

The current Chairman of the African Union (AU) and Chair of the
Commonwealth, retired General Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, is hardly a
model of democratic governance or the product of free and fair elections.
And he is not the only one!

Outside Africa, the West has been unconscionable in giving discount to their
puppets when it comes to their so-called universal standards.

General Pervez Musharaff of Pakistan is a good case. And just a few weeks
ago President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair "organised" a
'democratic' election in Iraq where nobody knew who was standing and up to
now has not produced a working government!

And they accuse Africans, especially President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa,
of not being decisive enough on Zimbabwe.

It is therefore not surprising that both SADC and the AU were not too vocal
beyond expressing pious hopes that there will be free and fair elections and
making appeal to both sides to give peace a chance.

Most Africans also resent the racist culture that states that unless
European and American election tourists are on safari at our elections they
cannot be free and fair.

African leaders are really on a tight rope over Zimbabwe because of the
racialist overtone of the issues. None of them want to be seen as agents of
the West and white settler interests. Many of them (like other Africans) who
may not necessarily agree with Mugabe' methods are however convinced that
the Land issue needed to be addressed.

So whatever they do they are damned. Zimbabwe has demonstrated the extreme
limits of external intervention short of outright invasion and occupation.
Indeed the more Europeans and Americans make noise about Mugabe the better
for him in casting himself as a Pan Africanist David against imperialist
Goliaths, branding his domestic opponents, both MDC and non-MDC, as puppets
of the West.

For Africans both on the continent and in the Diaspora too these one-sided
spectacles help to make us either too understanding or ambiguous or out
rightly apologetic (as many have become) towards the old man.

On the other hand, the MDC's links with largely white farmers and its
popularity with anti-Mugabe Westerners make it suspect to many Africans.
There is a very strong hangover of cold war era ideology watered by
contemporary Western inconsistency and brazen hypocrisy that makes many
Africans instinctively suspect any African leader liked by the West while
adulating the one that is hated by them.

Even those who defer to the mass base especially organised largely black
working class, urban poor and progressive middle class support for the MDC
are also wary of its ambiguity on a number of key issues about the economy
and reconstruction of Zimbabwe after Mugabe.

There appears to be nothing holding the MDC together beyond anti-Mugabe. It
is not ideologically or politically coherent. There are fears that an MDC
led by Morgan Tsvangirai will just be an imitation of the sad tragedy of yet
another populist trade unionist, the little man with an even smaller brain,
one Frederick Chiluba, in neighbouring Zambia.

However, there is a principle that should guide all of us about Zimbabwe or
any other country for that matter: the supremacy of the will of the people,
freely expressed, without let or hindrance. If they choose puppets or
dimwits, it is their right to do so and they will have another opportunity
at the next election to change their mind.

It is a right that cannot and should not be ceded to or usurped by
self-serving elite for its perpetuation in office. No leader or party owns
the people. Voting wisely is as important as voting unwisely if they so
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Polls no answer to Zimbabwe crisis
By Tim Cohen

SO MUCH has been written about the subject, but on election day in Zimbabwe
it is hard to think about anything else. The topic is so bewildering, so
depressing, so innately divisive in the context of SA's politics, where do
you begin?

Perhaps the starting point is the simple truth. The simple truth is that
this election is not going to be the turning point that many hope for.
But this does not mean to say it is of no consequence. In a sense, all the
heated arguments about whether the election will be "free and fair" are just
so much baloney, because the game was profoundly rigged from the start.

And by rigged, I don't mean anything as arcane as the intimidation of voters
(although this obviously took place), or as devious as manipulating voters'
rolls (although the fact that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
not been given easy access to the voters' roll is pretty suspicious).

I am simply talking about the constitutional absurdity that allows President
Robert Mugabe to appoint 30 parliamentary seats in addition to the 120 that
are being fought for at the polls. This constitutional dispensation is an
obvious contrivance that gives constitutional expression to the "big man"
notions of African politics that have blighted the continent.

But if you look at it from another perspective, in a way it obviates the
need for clever analysis about the future, because, in a sense, simple
mathematics does that for you.

In the previous parliamentary vote in 2000, the MDC won 57 seats while Zanu
(PF) got 62. The addition of the "nominees of the big man" meant that Zanu
(PF) had a strong majority in parliament, but not quite the two-thirds
majority required to change the constitution. In this election, to win
enough votes to rule, the MDC would have to get 76 seats compared with only
44 for Zanu (PF).

Some predictions suggest the MDC might do better in this election than the
last. The prediction is made on the basis of Mugabe's fraying coalition and
slipping grip. But it must be said that others predict exactly the opposite.
It is instructive that the savvy Zimbabwean publisher of the Mail &
Guardian, Trevor Ncube, would only go so far as to say that "the possibility
of an MDC victory at the polls cannot be totally discounted".

What no one is predicting, however, is that the MDC will get 76 seats out of
120. So even on the basis of the highest hopes of MDC supporters, even with
victory at the polls, the slow disintegration of Zimbabwe will continue.

Since the result is not really at issue, the questions become more arcane.
Why do ordinary Zimbabweans continue to vote for the person who has brought
them misery? Is it just intimidation? More interesting to me is why even the
Zimbabweans who pray for change fondly believe that Mugabe is "the only
person who can save Zimbabwe".

Ncube, of course, knows the politics of Zimbabwe intimately, and his views
are significant. But with the greatest respect, I can't help disagreeing.
Ncube's argument follows the familiar line on the MDC - that it is "an
ineffective opposition party that lacks vision and strategy". Zimbabwean
friends say the same thing, and are particularly dismissive of MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai himself.

Ncube's argument is that the ousting of Zanu (PF) could herald more problems
than it would solve, and leave the country "unstable".

"Were anything to happen to Mugabe now, with the infighting in Zanu (PF), I
fear instability that would be harmful to the nation in the long term." The
only solution, then, is Mugabe himself. "I truly believe that if he set his
mind to it, Mugabe could undo some of the damage he has inflicted on
Zimbabwe and lay the foundation for a stable political dispensation that
would deliver economic development and growth," Ncube writes.

Wow. So let me get this right. The man who has systematically, for decades,
smashed his opponents, passed rafts of repressive legislation, rigged the
polls, jeopardised the economy, sent millions of his own citizens scurrying
from their country - this is the man who is going to solve the problem? I
don't think so.

The whole Zimbabwean situation is reminiscent of Natan Sharansky's work on
repressive states. Here is a Jewish guy who lived and was jailed in the
former Soviet Union. He is the kind of person who probably knows quite a bit
about repressive states.

In an interview with a colleague, Sharansky declined the opportunity to
express an opinion about Zimbabwe, but his overall views are amazingly
applicable to the Zimbabwean situation. Sharansky's main argument is that
"fear societies" are composed of true believers, dissidents, and "double
thinkers". Double thinkers are the interesting bit.

They are people who disagree with the rulers but are scared to dissent
openly. They can become agents for change, but only if they reach a certain
critical mass. Until then, they, and often outsiders too, indulge repressive
regimes on the basis that they can deliver peace more easily than democratic
societies. Which is odd. Because they never do. - Business Day.
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