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Zimbabwe court delays ruling on vote count as opposition leader visits South Africa

International Herald Tribune
Riot police keeping watch outside a court building in Harare on Monday. (Howard Burditt /Reuters)

JOHANNESBURG: Zimbabwe's high court on Monday delayed by at least 24 hours a decision on whether to force the government to issue the results of the disputed presidential election, as the opposition leader who requested the ruling traveled to South Africa for talks.

The developments came on the ninth day of waiting by Zimbabweans to find out who had won the election. The race pitted President Robert Mugabe against the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who has insisted he won the March 30 election by a slim majority.

Mugabe, facing the biggest political crisis of his career since he led Zimbabwe to independence from Britain 28 years ago, has requested a recount of the results, even before they have been made public. Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, asked the Supreme Court to force the election commission to release the results.

The court had planned to issue a ruling on Monday. But Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change, said in a telephone interview from Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, that the court had decided to delay deliberations on a decision until Tuesday.

Biti also said that Zimbabwe's judiciary has benefited from government patronage, particularly having been given farms that were confiscated from white farmers, suggesting that the court was in no hurry to act. "We're skeptical," he said. 

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, urged the electoral commission on Monday "to discharge its responsibility and release the results expeditiously and with transparency."

In a statement issued in New York, Ban said he was "concerned that presidential results have not been released in spite of the constitutional deadline" and said that the people of Zimbabwe had cast their ballots "in a responsible and peaceful manner."

He called on all sides to exercise "restraint and calm and to address all issues regarding the elections through recourse to legal means and dialogue as necessary for the good of all Zimbabweans."

His spokeswoman, Michèle Montas, said Ban had had no contact with Mugabe or the Zimbabwean government and that no requests for UN intervention had been received despite news reports that opposition figures in Zimbabwe were seeking it. For the United Nations to act on such a request, she said, it would have to come from the government.

Tsvangirai's visit to South Africa, the regional powerhouse and a mediator in the longstanding conflict between the government and the opposition, was his first trip outside Zimbabwe since the election. There was no word on who he was meeting or how long he intended to stay.

In the state-run Herald newspaper on Monday, Mugabe urged Zimbabweans to defend their land from former white "colonizers," adding to fears that he may be preparing to stir unrest and mount a campaign of violent intimidation of the kind he has used to win past elections. The newspaper said there were "widespread reports of white former farmers flocking back into the country" to take over the land in the event of an opposition victory.

Supporters of the ruling party invaded eight of the few remaining white-owned commercial farms on Sunday, driving at least four cattle ranchers off their land and seizing equipment and livestock, the farmers reported, according to an Associated Press report.

Mugabe, 84, is considered a hero of Zimbabwe's anti-colonial struggle but he has led his country into a calamitous economic collapse in recent years. Four of five Zimbabweans are unemployed. Inflation has reached more than 100,000 percent.

Opposition leaders ridiculed the delaying tactics of the governing party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, as the desperate attempt of a loser clinging to power fraudulently. They asked how Mugabe's party could ask for the recount of a vote that had never been made public, and said the party must have inside information.

"You can't ask for the remarking of an exam whose result is not known by the student," Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change, said in a telephone interview Sunday. "It shows their mischief and shenanigans in trying to manipulate the poll."

The state-run Sunday Mail newspaper reported that Mugabe's party had asked the electoral commission to recount and audit the presidential vote "following revelations of errors and miscalculations in the compilation of the poll result." The BBC reported that the Zimbabwean deputy information minister, Bright Matonga, had said there were discrepancies between the voting results posted outside polling stations and the tallies sent to the commission.

The governing party announced Friday that it backed Mugabe in a runoff election if neither he nor Tsvangirai won a majority.

Tsvangirai predicted Saturday that a runoff would be a traumatizing event for the country and charged that the governing party was "preparing a war on the people."

His party has called for intervention by the United Nations and other countries to assure a fair outcome.

"African leaders surely must now say no to Mugabe the same way the Zimbabwean people have said no to him," Tsvangirai said.

But so far, there has been little public pressure on Mugabe from leaders of other southern African countries. The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, has said the world should wait as the electoral process plays out.

A senior Western diplomat who has spoken with leaders in many of the region's countries said in an interview Sunday that many of them were worried that a runoff in Zimbabwe could lead to violence and damage tourism and their economies.

"Everyone has an interest in trying to head off this grisly showdown," he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity under normal diplomatic rules.

But their phone calls to Mugabe have mostly gone unanswered, the diplomat said. And they are reluctant to speak out publicly against the hero of Zimbabwe's liberation from white rule for fear of being seen as puppets of the United States or Britain, who have made their disapproval of Mugabe plain.

Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York.

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Zimbabwe election officials arrested

The Telegraph

By David Blair in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 8:01pm BST 07/04/2008

Zimbabwean police have arrested seven election officials for
undercounting votes cast for Robert Mugabe in the Presidential election.

"We're still investigating, but we have established that there was
deflation of figures in respect of one candidate ... the ZANU-PF
presidential candidate (Mr Mugabe)," said Wayne Bvudzijena, a police

Those arrested,who were working for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
in four provinces, will be charged with fraud.

As the results of the election remain unannounced, speculation is
mounting that Mr Mugabe is planning a strategy to overcome a majority won by
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mr Mugabe this morning demanded a recount, with his opponents fearing
he will secure and then rig a runoff election.

His Zanu-PF party has also reverted to familiar tactics by unleashing
its militias on some of the last remaining white-owned farms.

Veterans of the war against white rule, who will play a central role
in Mr Mugabe's strategy to win a fifth term, invaded eight farms yesterday.

Their actions followed a silent but menacing march through the
capital, Harare, on Friday. It suggests they have been mobilised to help
Zanu-PF cling to power.

With a presidential result still unannounced a week after the
election, the MDC asked the High Court in Harare to rule on a petition
demanding the immediate release of the results.

Zanu-PF countered by attempting to stymie the legal action with its
own demands.

The party said it wanted the Electoral Commission to "recount and
audit all its electoral material relating to last week's presidential
election following revelations of errors and miscalculations in the
compilation of the poll result".

It added that the commission should "defer the announcement of the
presidential election result".

The MDC spokesman, Tendai Biti, said the request was "madness". He
said: "Legally they have no right to ask for a recount, they have absolutely
no footing to ask for a recount, so what they are trying to do is illegal."

Under the Electoral Act, a second round must take place by April 19.
But if the announcement of the result continues to be delayed, Mr Mugabe may
have an excuse to delay the run-off.

The MDC, which secured a majority in parliament's lower house, has
been officially announced the winner in half of the Senate's elected seats.

Because Mr Mugabe appoints six senators, Zanu-PF will still have a
narrow majority in the upper house.

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Electoral Officials Under 24 Hour Surveillance

SW Radio Africa (London)

7 April 2008
Posted to the web 7 April 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

There are reports that senior Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials are
under 24-hour surveillance by government, who fear they might leak
information regarding the presidential poll which the MDC claims to have won

The MDC are accusing Robert Mugabe, now in opposition in parliament, of
stalling to provide time to alter the results to show that Tsvangirai got
less than 50 percent and that a run-off is now required.

Liberty Mupakati, a former intelligence operative with the CIO, claims that
members of the top echelons of ZEC are more or less under house arrest as
they are not allowed to leave the confines of their hotel, which also
doubles as the poll collation centre, and that they are literally under CIO
guard 24/7.

'I find it inconceivable that the newly constituted Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission is coming up with flimsy excuses to justify their utter failure
to announce the victor in the presidential elections. The real reason why
the results have not been released is to enable Mugabe and his party to
explore alternatives, specifically to increase the number of votes that he
received in the just ended elections,' wrote Mupakati.

He told Newsreel his sources were impeccable that even die-hard Zanu-PF
people talk openly about Mugabe having comprehensively lost to Tsvangirai.

'I can testify that late on Sunday (March 30) I was informed by one of these
officials that Mugabe had been beaten by Tsvangirai by 57,8 percent of the
poll to 39,9 percent. Armed with these results Chiwenga, Chihuri, Bonyongwe,
Shiri and Paradzai Zimondi of prisons, then approached Mugabe at State
House. Mugabe, in a state of shock, sent them back to Chiweshe to ask him to
reverse the result. Chiweshe told them he was bound by his professional
ethics as a lawyer and could not reverse the election result. They pleaded
with him to try his best to save the situation. Chiweshe tried his best -
the results of the presidential election have not been announced since
then - for a week,' Mupakati said.

The MDC have embarked on a diplomatic offensive to try and pressure the
international community to intervene and force Mugabe to either release the
results or accept defeat and step down.

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Tsvangirai in South Africa Seeking Pressure for Election Results

SW Radio Africa (London)

7 April 2008
Posted to the web 7 April 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was in South Africa Monday, as the electoral
crisis in Zimbabwe continued without the release of the presidential poll
results. MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told reporters that Tsvangirai
was meeting with "important people in South Africa" but he gave no other

South Africa has not been much help in resolving the situation in Zimbabwe.
President Thabo Mbeki and his policy of "quiet diplomacy" deprived
Zimbabweans of information during the SADC initiated talks that he mediated.
Comments made by Mbeki and officials from his government have also been
criticized for their suggestion that all was well in Zimbabwe.

Most recently deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said he had ruled out any
possibility that Robert Mugabe would doctor the election results, because
"they have already been displayed to the public." Pahad blasted the media
saying there was an orchestrated campaign, by sections of the international
and South African media, to claim that the delay is a plot by the government
to "doctor" and "steal" the elections.

South Africa based writer and reporter Geoff Hill, who also chairs the
Foreign Press Association, dismissed Pahad's suggestion that the press has
orchestrated a canmpaign. He said; "The media are very competitive. We do
not sit together like a group of witches making up a spell. We are on each
other's tails trying to steal stories in the best spirits, trying to be the
first to print something."

Hill said what Pahad should be addressing is the absence of an explanation
by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. He added: "If there is no effort to
change the results, then why has the ZEC not published those results."

Regarding Tsvangirai's visit to South Africa, Hill said the MDC leader is
believed to have been meeting with President Mbeki himself. He sees this as
a positive sign because Mbeki usually meets with Mugabe first when there are
serious issues in Zimbabwe.

Despite calls by the opposition for SADC, AU and UN intervention, on
Saturday Mbeki said the situation in Zimbabwe was "manageable" and the
international community should wait for full election results and refrain
from intervention. Speaking at a conference of "progressive governance"
leaders hosted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the UK, Mbeki said: "If
there is a rerun of the presidential election let's see what comes out of

Hill believes that tension within Mbeki's ANC party will soon prove to be
helpful to the MDC. This is due to the fact that the newly elected ANC
President Jacob Zuma has a "much tougher line on Zimbabwe".

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Mugabe Militants Target Whites Farmers

Associated Press

By ANGUS SHAW – 32 minutes ago

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe
targeted whites Monday, forcing about a dozen ranchers and farmers off their
land as Zimbabwe's longtime ruler fanned racial tensions amid fears he will
turn to violence to hold on to power.

Mugabe's opponents pressed a lawsuit seeking to compel the publication of
results of the March 29 presidential election that they say Morgan
Tsvangirai won.

The opposition leader urged the international community to persuade Mugabe
to step down.

"Major powers here, such as South Africa, the U.S. and Britain, must act to
remove the white-knuckle grip of Mugabe's suicidal reign and oblige him and
his minions to retire," Tsvangirai wrote in Monday's edition of Britain's
Guardian newspaper.

"How can global leaders espouse the values of democracy, yet when they are
being challenged fail to open their mouths?" he asked.

Tsvangirai was in South Africa meeting with "important people" on Monday,
said Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change. Biti declined to give details. South African President
Thabo Mbeki, who mediated failed pre-election talks between Tsvangirai's and
Mugabe's parties, was out of the country.

A Zimbabwe court postponed until Tuesday an expected ruling on an opposition
petition demanding the release of the presidential election results.
Mugabe's ruling party has called for a recount and a further delay in the
release of results.

After an increasingly authoritarian rule during 28 years in power, Mugabe
has virtually conceded he did not win, and is already campaigning for an
expected runoff against Tsvangirai on a platform of intimidation of his foes
and exploitation of racial tensions.

During a talk at a funeral Sunday, the president urged Zimbabweans to defend
land seized from white farmers in recent years, the state-controlled Herald
newspaper said.

"This is our soil and the soil must never go back to the whites," Mugabe
said, referring to whites by the pejorative Shona term "mabhunu," the Herald

He spoke as militants began invading more white farms and demanding the
owners leave. Such land seizures started in 2000 as Mugabe's response to his
first defeat at the polls — a loss in a referendum on measures designed to
entrench his presidential powers.

Commercial Farmers Union spokesman Mike Clark said at least 23 farms were
invaded and the owners of about half of them were driven off their land. He
said the farms were in at least seven areas across the country, saying land
grabs had "become a national exercise now."

Police in some areas persuaded the invaders to leave, but elsewhere officers
did not intervene, saying it was a political matter, Clark said.

Farmer Graham Richards said about 20 local veterans of the 1970s bush war
against a white-minority government moved onto his Pa Nyanda game lodge in
southern Masvingo late Saturday. "We were terrified," he said, but added
that the invaders were not armed.

On Sunday, police arrived with a bus and took the intruders away, he said.
Two leaders of the veterans came to the farm to apologize, saying what had
happened was wrong, he said.

"I think they (police) put a stop to it for the time being, but I don't know
what will happen tonight or tomorrow," Richards said.

Mugabe's land reform program was supposed to redistribute among poor blacks
large commercial farms owned by about 4,500 whites that covered 80 percent
of Zimbabwe's best land. Instead, he used the farms to extend his patronage
system, giving them to ruling party leaders, security chiefs, relatives and

Zimbabwe had been a major food exporter until then, but its agricultural
sector collapsed and the economy started unraveling. Today a third of
Zimbabweans depend on international food handouts, and another third have
fled abroad looking for work or political asylum.

Eighty percent of Zimbabwe's workers don't have jobs, and the country
suffers chronic shortages of medicine, food, fuel, water and electricity as
inflation blazes at 100,000 percent a year.

The elite that still lives in luxury has a vested interest in keeping Mugabe
in power. He makes them rich with gifts of land, government contracts and
business licenses.

Some also fear an opposition government could bring prosecutions of some
Mugabe loyalists, such as security chiefs involved in the 1980s subjugation
of the minority Ndebele tribe in which tens of thousands of civilians were

Tsvangirai has expressed concerns Mugabe's regime will mobilize the armed
forces, youth brigades and war veterans to terrorize voters into supporting
the president in a runoff.

While government officials have sought to play down the worries about
violence, Mugabe has been accused of winning previous elections through
violence and intimidation, with dozens of his opponents killed during the
2002 and 2005 campaigns.

Mugabe has seen his popularity battered by the economic crisis.

Official results for parliamentary elections also held March 29 said
Mugabe's ZANU-PF lost its majority in the 210-seat parliament for the first
time since independence in 1980. Final results for the 60 elected seats in
the Senate gave the ruling party and the opposition 30 each.

Unofficial tallies by independent monitors of presidential results posted at
local polling stations indicate Tsvangirai won more votes than Mugabe — but
fewer than the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid a runoff.

The law requires a runoff within 21 days of the election, but diplomats in
Harare and at the United Nations have said Mugabe might order a 90-day delay
to give security forces time to clamp down.

The government banned most foreign journalists from covering the election
and barred Western observers.

A lawyer said Monday that an American reporter and one from Briton who were
detained last week on charges of reporting illegally on the election had
been released on bail of 300 million Zimbabwean dollars — about $6 at the
black market rate or $10,000 at the official rate.

Lawyer Harrison Nkomo said the two journalists were not allowed to leave the
country and were expected to appear in court Thursday, when he planned to
argue they should not be tried because they did not commit a crime. The
American, New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak, was moved to a clinic
after injuring his back in a fall in his cell, Nkomo said.

Two South African journalists similarly charged were also granted bail
Monday, but were not released because the ruling came too late for bail
payments to be made, Nkomo said.

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JAG - urgent cautionary statement communique: to all farmers, Dated 7 April 2008

Email: :

JAG Hotlines: +263 (011) 610 073, +263 (04) 799 410.  If you are in trouble
or need advice, please don't hesitate to contact us - we're here to help!


The deadlock in the country's political process following last weeks general
election and the slow announcement of results has left the government
looking once again for scapegoats to blame for the outcome.

It is little surprise that further farm invasions have been orchestrated
in response to falsified reports that white farmers are to blame for
threatening those currently occupying land with eviction in the event of
an opposition victory.

At this time it is essential that nothing is done to aggravate this
situation which might result in any incident that can lend credence to
government's claims or which may heighten tensions unnecessarily on the
ground in commercial farming areas.  Traditionally, commercial farmers and
farm workers have always been at the forefront of these retributive attacks.

JAG is anxious to see a comprehensive and inclusive solution to Zimbabwe's
land crisis.  Whilst we acknowledge historical injustice, that can no
longer be used as an excuse to defend the excesses and abuses perpetrated
against farmers and farm workers or as a reason for a crackdown.

It is high time that all of Zimbabwe's citizens and stakeholders are treated
with respect so that a sound future for all can be worked for. This will
involve the re-engagement of farmers through the due process of the law
in a return to the rule of law and not by any maverick or individual action.

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A call for unity and a message to the Zimbabwean people

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Sokwanele : 7 April 2008

Zimbabweans protest in London: this image sent to us by a subscriber

A call for unity

We at Sokwanele issue a call for all democratic forces in the country to publically stand strong together, to send a clear message to the people of Zimbabwe that we are all united in our fight for democracy.

A message to the Zimbabwean people

We have won Zimbabwe. We have won.

No matter what happens in the days that follow, we need to remember that we have won.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is taking a long time to release the Presidential results and this is creating a sense of despondency around many in the country. We are getting worried messages from Zimbabweans and we are seeing and hearing people beginning to feel filled with despair.

We have won, so why has this not been announced?

Zimbabwe... this is Robert Mugabe we are dealing with, and his party is Zanu PF.

What did we expect?

Did we really expect that after our victory that Robert Mugabe would step forward like a gentleman and congratulate Morgan Tsvangirai before handing over power?

This is not what Robert Mugabe will do: he will struggle to the end; that is in his nature.

We need to set aside unrealistic expectations, and we must expect that we will witness all sorts of efforts from Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to silence the will of the people.

None of this changes the fact that the majority of people in our country voted for change and nor does it change the fact that we have won.

Say no to despair!

In this uncertain period we must remember that dictators thrive on despair.

Mugabe and Zanu PF know that the longer ZEC delays with announcing the winner, the more likely it will be that people in our country will start to feel despondent. They know that people who are depressed and struggling with despair also find it hard to stand strong and to confront challenges.

The road to democracy is not a 100m sprint: it's a marathon.

We are at that stage of the race where our limbs are tired and our muscles are aching and our body is telling us to slow down and maybe even give up. But this is the stage where our minds and our hearts have to take over and we need to keep focussed and we need to stay strong and committed to seeing our will, loudly expressed through our votes on March 29th, come to fruit.

The next stage of the struggle we are all involved with now begins within ourselves. We have to stay strong. We must not be weakened by despair. We must not sink into doom and gloom. We must resist these impulses and remember a few truths.

Truth 1

For the first time in many many years, it is us, the forces of democracy and freedom and of peace and justice, who have established the rules of the game. As a nation, with one clear voice, we voted for change. Those scores were placed on the doors for all of us to see with our own eyes. We know the results because we saw them.

Truth 2

For the first time in their 28 years of history, Zanu PF is obviously and publically on the backfoot. They are struggling to find a way to change the incontrovertible reality that they are finished. We are watching them respond to the simple truth that the people said 'no more'. What we are witnessing now are the reactions of a dying regime dancing to tune we started to sing on March 29th.

Truth 3

If Mugabe had been victorious, the results would have been released a long time ago. We would have seen the inauguration ceremony already, and we would have seen the Heads of State of certain nations flying in to Zimbabwe to eat, drink and be merry at Mugabe's party.

This has not happened; it has not happened, because Mugabe is not victorious and he knows it.

Truth 4

Yesterday an article appeared in the Sunday Mail (Zanu PF's mouthpiece) telling us that Zanu PF is demanding that ZEC should defer announcing the results of the Presidential vote. The article said

"ZANU-PF has requested the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to recount and audit all its electoral material relating to last week's presidential election following revelations of errors and miscalculations in the compilation of the poll result. Consequent to the anomalies, the party has also requested that the commission defer the announcement of the presidential election result."

Zimbabweans must note that a request for a recount of Presidential ballots before results are announced is unprocedural and premature. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have already issued a statement pointing out that this is wrong.

ZLHR say: "In relation to a presidential election, the Electoral Act, as amended, does not have any provision for a recount of the votes at all, and especially during the verification process."

They go on to point out: "such a recount can only be requested once the declaration of due election has been made by the constituency elections officer or the senatorial constituency elections officer respectively" and that this request for a "recount must be done within 48 hours of the declaration of a candidate to be duly elected."

This means that Robert Mugabe can only demand a recount of the votes after Morgan Tsvangirai has been declared the winner.

Robert Mugabe's effort to subvert the electoral process muts be seen for what it is: an attempt for him to avoid the humiliation of being publically declared the loser.

(The ZLHR full statement is posted on our blog at this link)

Truth 5

The Sunday Mail article has also revealed Mugabe's weakness and frailty.

Places Zanu PF cites as having votes miscounted includes Mberengwa East and South, "Where Cde Mugabe was deprived of 468 votes, one of his co-contestants, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC, had the benefit of 100."

Zimbabweans must note that the figures under dispute are pathetically small - so small that in normal circumstances they would almost be considered irrelevant. To Robert Mugabe, however, they are very relevant because he is desperate and he is struggling to claw back the smallest number of votes.

Mugabe is not fighting for victory here; he is fighting for a run-off.

He is fighting for a run-off because he has lost the Presidential vote.

His fight now is for one last chance to try and steal a victory in a run-off. He knows he has been defeated, and so do we.

Truth 6

Last week The Herald reported that Zanu PF would be contesting results in 16 seats in the House of Assembly. Isn't it very ironic, laughable even, that Zanu PF is trying to contest results?

We must remember that Zanu PF themselves have set a precedent when it comes to what happens when results are contested.

In 2000 the MDC contested 39 seats, but before the court could rule on these, Zanu PF insisted that those Zanu PF MPs who had been 'elected' (or had stolen) those seats, should be sworn in to the House of Assembly anyway.

So despite their claim that they will be contesting 16 seats, Zimbabweans can still expect to soon see a House of Assembly where Zanu PF is in the minority in accordance with the results announced by ZEC for the House of Assembly.

This means that the democratic opposition parties who have fought for justice for the people will be in the majority. This is a massive victory that marks a very big turning point in the history and future of Zimbabwe.

Truth 7

What many Zimbabweans don't realise because they are cut off from communication with the rest of the world, is that the world is watching. We at Sokwanele know this because we are getting emails from the press, emails from people all over the world, and we have seen the traffic to our website and subscriptions to our newsletter increase exponentially.

This time the feedback we are getting is different.

In previous elections the world has watched Mugabe steal and cheat his way to victory. It has witnessed regional countries endorse victories in the face of overwhelming evidence that they were stolen.

The world's reaction to those previous elections has been impotence; they have been left with a sense that there is nothing they can do in the face of what looks like yet another African cliche of misery and corruption - a tragedy that the region has allowed to take place.

For Zimbabweans, the world's impotence has felt like a slap in the face, as if we have been abandoned to a life without justice, stripped of our basic human rights.

The difference on March 29th 2008 is that the world witnessed an old monster of a regime, one that appears to be a monolithic undefeatable force, be quietly overwhelmed at the ballot box.

We - ordinary Zimbabweans - did this despite every effort of the Mugabe regime to bias the election playing field in its favour; we did this despite years of abuse and violence; we did it despite the fact that we are poorer and hungrier and weaker than we have ever been.

The messages we are getting from outsiders around the world is that the dignity of the Zimbabwean people has impressed and moved those who are following our story.

Ours is no longer a typical African story of misery and failure.

It's an incredible achievement, and almost a fairytale story of how the dignity and spirit of peace and justice can dominate the forces of evil. We did that, and the world is watching with barely suppressed excitement.

With all its heart, the international community wants to see us victorious; they are cheering for us from the sidelines and praying for us everywhere.

It may not feel like it, but we are not alone.

Truth 8

Zimbabweans have done this by themselves. No country anywhere in the world can claim that they created our victory.

We did it by ourselves.

Truth 9

We are on the brink of momentous change in our country. As individuals our lives will change for the better. Now is the time to defeat despair by daring to dream about what that change will be like.

Imagine what it will be like to have food on our shop shelves again, fuel at the petrol stations, power throughout the day, water that has been properly purified and comes out a tap when you switch it on.

Imagine education, jobs, and healthcare.

Imagine that when we go to visit South Africa it will be because we want to go on holiday rather than shopping trips to buy bread and soap and toilet paper.

Imagine our family and friends all coming home.

Above all, imagine a life without fear.

Truth 10

Zimbabwe is standing on the brink of being a beacon of hope for Africa.

With our dignity and adherence to democratic processes and values, and our rejection of violence as a route to change, we have shown the world and other African nations that the Zimbabwean people challenge the cliche that Africa is a continent plagued only by war and cruelty.

We have managed to resist all the violence that Mugabe has thrown at us, and time and time again we have turned to the ballot box.

When people turn to us and say 'This is Africa'; we can respond, 'No it's not, this is Zimbabwe'.

We did it. Rather than feeling filled with despair, we should be feeling strong, and very, very proud.

What if there's a run-off?

We do not want a run-off because we are the winners.

But it might happen, and if it does happen we must be prepared for it. We go into a run-off knowing that in a two-horse race there will be even more votes going towards Morgan Tsvangirai than in the House of Assembly results, where some of the votes went to Simba Makoni. Zimbabweans, excited by how far people at home have brought them will come home to add their votes to ours.

We all know, because we know Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, that if we go to a run-off then it is likely to be a bumpy ride.

But we also know that Mugabe's fight for power is just one fight on his hands. The bigger challenge he faces is the economy and poverty in our country. Robert Mugabe has no solutions to the problem of the economy.

He has passed laws which suppress the free press and control information in our country, making it hard for us to know the truth amidst all the rumours that circulate. But the one truth that Mugabe cannot hide from us is the reality that we are hungry, we have no jobs, we cannot school our children anymore, and we can barely survive from one day to the next.

To stand any chance of a victory, Robert Mugabe has to be able to tell us that he can make our lives better. Mugabe cannot offer us, the people, a solution to our problems unless he can secure support from the international community. All he can offer us is anti-western rhetoric and propaganda. This will not feed us, and it will not help us school our children. He cannot prevent us from knowing this as a fact.

To get the support of the international community, Robert Mugabe needs to be able to them that his victory is legitimate. Mugabe has relied on extreme violence in the past to secure his victories, but since the 2005 elections his propensity for violence has begun to try the patience of even the regional supporters.

Operation Murambatsvina, for example, brought condemnation from the UN onto the Zimbabwean government. This happened just after the 2005 elections. The images of our beaten and tortured civic and opposition leaders in March last year disgusted the world and shamed regional leaders. Those images showed the world what we in Zimbabwe already know; that the Mugabe regime can behave like violent thugs. Violence will not earn him the legitimacy he craves.

Nor will rigging and fraud: many in our country have worked hard to expose all of Mugabe's tactics, and those people in the world who have the ability to help Zimbabwe recover now know his tricks.

If we go into a run-off, we will be prepared to continue exposing the rigging and the fraud and the violence.

We have the advantage this time that by delaying the results in the way he has, the world is already very suspicious of Mugabe's motives and believe he is stalling and rigging. Their minds and ears are open and they are ready to listen to the truth from us.

What can we do as individuals?

  1. Begin to break down the barriers between us

    Mugabe has done his best to divide our nation, to turn us against each other and build suspicion and hatred. Now is the time to challenge those lies and begin to heal and build unity. Smile at those who you previously feared: the police and security forces. Show them in your behaviour and attitude that the future is positive and that we all stand to benefit.

  2. Keep all of our spirits up

    Do your best to remind those around you that just because Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe are thrashing about like a fish on a hook, it doesn't mean that we have lost.

    Support each other when we begin to let go of hope.

    Never forget: we have won.

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Mugabe under fire over Zimbabwe poll results

Yahoo News

by Godfrey Marawanyika 56 minutes ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe came under enormous international
pressure on Monday to release presidential election results as rival Morgan
Tsvangirai made his first foreign trip since the March 29 polls.

As the heat on Mugabe intensified with near-simultaneous calls from the
United States, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and the European Union,
Tsvangirai held meetings described as "private" in Johannesburg.

"He was just discussing normal party activity... There's nothing to write
home about, it was just an ordinary visit to the office," the opposition's
spokesman there, Nqobizitha Mlilo, told the SAPA news agency.

A judge in Harare dismissed a claim by the electoral commission that the
courts could not hear an opposition legal bid to force the immediate
declaration of the results and said he would rule Tuesday on the matter.

"The judge dismissed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's application that
the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter," MDC lawyer Alec
Muchadehama told reporters outside the high court in the capital.

UN chief Ban urged the commission, whose leaders are appointed by Mugabe, to
release results of the polls "expeditiously and with transparency," while
the European Union called for them "without further delay."

The US also questioned the logic behind Mugabe's ruling party's calling for
a vote recount before it knew the results.

"It's overdue that the election results be announced," State Department
spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

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

Tsvangirai, 56, claims outright victory in the March 29 poll but the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) says there was
no clear winner and has endorsed Mugabe for a second-round vote.

The MDC wrested control of parliament from Mugabe's party for the first time
in the simultaneous legislative elections, but the ZANU-PF is contesting
enough seats to potentially overturn that result.

As impatience in the country grew, hardline Mugabe supporters known as war
veterans, who led often violent farm invasions at the start of the decade,
tried to move onto several of the few remaining white-owned farms.

The Commercial Farmers Union, which represents white farmers in Zimbabwe,
said Mugabe supporters had moved onto at least 30 white-owned properties and
accused the ruling party of an "apartheid" campaign.

"People are being paid to basically carry out the wishes of the highest
office. This is purely racial. We should be living in a country of harmony
but the state media is pushing racial hatred which is not good for the
country," the union's president Trevor Gifford told AFP.

The farm invasions serve as a reminder of the violence which followed
Mugabe's last electoral reverse when he lost a referendum on presidential
powers in 2000.

The then occupation of some 4,000 farms came after he was defeated in a
constitutional referendum aimed at broadening his powers and facilitating
land seizures.

Gifford warned similar sentiments were on the boil again and urged the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc to intervene.

"It's another apartheid. It's going to get out of hand if SADC does not have
a grip on it," he said.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe ever since independence from Britain in 1980,
has sought to stoke racial tensions and discredit the opposition as Western
puppets who would reverse his land reforms.

"Land must remain in our hands. The land is ours, it must not be allowed to
slip back into the hands of whites," Mugabe was quoted as saying by the
state daily Herald on Monday.

Critics blame Mugabe's land reform programme, which was intensified after he
lost the referendum in 2000, for Zimbabwe's meltdown from regional
breadbasket to economic basket case.

Faced with 80 percent unemployment and six-digit inflation, almost one third
of Zimbabwe's 13 million population have left the country, both to find work
and food as even basics such as bread and cooking oil are now hard to come

Meanwhile, a Harare court released on bail New York Times correspondent
Barry Bearak, a British national and two South African media workers after
charging them with covering the last week's polls without accreditation.

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UN Chief Asks Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission To Declare Election Results


(RTTNews) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Zimbabwe's electoral
commission to announce the results of the election held nine days ago, after
a court on Monday deferred judgment in an urgent application by the
opposition seeking their release.

In a statement issued on Monday, Ban Ki Moon urged the electoral commission
to "discharge its responsibility and release the results expeditiously and
with transparency."

He also asked the political leaders to act responsibly and settle all issues
through legal means "for the good of all Zimbabweans."

Earlier in the day, the Harare High Court rejected an argument by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that it did not have the authority to hear the
opposition's application for a court order forcing ZEC to release the
results of the election held on March 29.

But it deferred until Tuesday a ruling on whether the application was urgent
or not.

Also on Monday, war veterans chased several white farmers off their land in
Mashonaland Central province, as "ordered from the top".

For comments and feedback: contact

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UK wants "proper monitoring" of any Zimbabwe run-off


Mon 7 Apr 2008, 12:19 GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on Monday for
"proper international monitoring" if there is a runoff of Zimbabwe's
presidential election.

Zimbabwean ruling party and independent projections point to a runoff
between veteran President Robert Mugabe and old rival Morgan Tsvangirai
after the March 29 vote in the former British colony. The opposition said it
won outright.

But no results have yet been released from the presidential election,
fuelling opposition suspicions that Mugabe is playing for time to find a way
to keep his 28-year hold on power.

If a second round of elections is held, "it's very important that there is
proper international monitoring," Brown told a news conference.

"I believe there is a united will of the international community that
elections have got to be seen to be fair, election results have got to be
published, elections have got to be properly monitored," he said.

During the first round, Zimbabwe banned monitors from Western countries,
such as Britain, that are critical of Mugabe.

Brown held two hours of talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki on
Sunday and said he was also in touch with other African leaders on Zimbabwe.

British officials declined to give details of the talks with Mbeki, who has
previously mediated in Zimbabwe's political crisis and has been accused by
critics of being soft on Mugabe.

Tsvangirai flew to South Africa on Monday for talks, aides said.

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US questions ruling party's call for vote recount in Zimbabwe

Yahoo News

Mon Apr 7, 11:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Monday questioned the logic behind
the Zimbabwean ruling party's call for a vote recount before the results of
the March 29 presidential election are announced.

"It's overdue that the election results be announced," State Department
spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

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

"Let's have the... official election results announced and from there, as
we've been saying for some time, let's see how this process unfolds," the
spokesman said.

"It needs to be a process in which the Zimbabwean people need to have
confidence. So the first step in that process is to have the election
results announced officially," McCormack said.

State media said Sunday that President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF was now
demanding a complete recount after detecting irregularities.

The demand was swiftly branded "illegal" by the opposition, which claimed
the ruling party had been stuffing ballot boxes with false voting slips
since election day.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain 28 years ago, suffered the
heaviest blow of his rule in the March 29 joint presidential and
parliamentary elections.

ZANU-PF lost control of parliament to the main opposition group, the
Movement for Democratic Change, while the ruling party has conceded Mugabe
failed to surpass the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off.

At a meeting of its politburo Friday, the party endorsed Mugabe to stand in
a run-off, which should take place on April 19.

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MDC press statement - Zanu PF dusts up an old lie to deceive Zimbabweans

Zanu PF dusts up an old lie to deceive Zimbabweans

Zanu PF is once again desperate to find an issue that it will bring to the
centre-stage to reverse the heavy and structural losses it has suffered in
this election.

That issue, sadly, is the issue of land. Indeed, sadly for Zanu PF, it is a
message that sounds like a broken record. In the past few days, Zanu PF has
upped the tempo and unleashed war and terror on farmers perceived to be
sympathetic to the MDC.

In Masvingo, Mutoko, Chiredzi and Mhangura our people are being brutalised
by a regime that is smarting from a heavy electoral defeat. The regime has
also created the myth that white people are revisiting their erstwhile farms
with a view to reoccupying them following the MDC's victory in last week's

We restate the principle that the land reform programme, as done by Zanu PF
in 2000, is irreversible but there has to be an audit of the land and a
transparent agrarian reform programme that emphasises food security and

In our RESTART programme, we said that land allocation will reconcile the
MDC's policy principles with on-the-ground realities of farm occupation by
applying the principles of justice, accountability, need and ability.

There is no possibility that the rationalisation will result in the

2000 status quo being restored on the land, but equally the current status
quo arising from the fast-track land grab will not be maintained. In other
words, the MDC will neither return to the pre-2000 land-ownership patterns
nor endorse or condone the inequitable and inappropriate land distribution
arising from the fast-track process.

Where people are found to have been settled legitimately, according to the
Land Commission's criteria, or are subsequently legitimately settled, they
will be fully supported, with the state ensuring that they have the inputs,
working capital and other assistance needed to make their farming ventures
succeed. Under the MDC government, agrarian reform will also embrace the
communal areas, where the bulk of the rural population will continue to

Similarly, in our manifesto, we made it clear that we recognise the
country's brutal colonial past, the need to deal with historical injustices
and the obligation to create a modern industrial state in which land is the
engine of equitable development and not a dead asset.

The MDC will rationalise the situation by ensuring that there is no return
to the pre2000 status nor will the present regime of wastage, corruption,
under-utilisation and multi-ownership be preserved.

Thus, the land issue cannot be used to divert attention from the real issue
at hand. The issue at hand is that Zanu PF has dismally lost this election.
Robert Mugabe has lost the election hands down and is refusing to let go.
The issue at hand is that Mugabe's term expired on 11 March 2008 and he no
longer has the mandate to govern. The real issue is that Zanu PF, by
refusing to grant President Tsvangirai the mandate to form a government, is
committing a coup de t'at against the people's sovereign will.

No amount of energy in trying to reinvent what s essentially a dead issue
can change the reality that this regime of dinosaurs is history. The
decision to refuse to announce the result is unacceptable as it is

We thus reiterate the call made by President Tsvangirai in asking the United
Nations, the African Union, SADC and in particular President Thabo Mbeki to
demand that Mugabe resigns immediately to allow the country to move forward.

Hon Tendai Biti, MP

MDC Secretary-General

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DA: Mbeki out of touch with reality in Zim


     April 07 2008 at 04:25PM

Opposition parties on Monday criticised President Thabo Mbeki's
assessment of Zimbabwe's elections.

Mbeki's remarks made in Britain on Sunday indicated he was either
woefully out of touch with reality in Zimbabwe, or he was attempting to
"deliberately mislead the world's media about the extent of the crisis in
that country," the Democratic Alliance's Dianne Kohler-Barnard said.

Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille lambasted Mbeki's
"flawed logic".

"To suggest that Africans are claiming their space and that African
leaders are taking full responsibility for their problems at home and in the
same breath to refer to Zimbabwe as an example of this is not only
misleading, it borders on the delusional," De Lille said.

The argument that Zimbabwe's election process had been "more
satisfactory" this time around was just not good enough for the people of

"The fact is that the people of Zimbabwe may indeed be claiming their
space and voting responsibly to deal with their problems, but [President
Robert] Mugabe is doing everything he can to deny them their rights."

The delay in releasing the presidential vote outcome was just more
evidence that Mugabe was a tyrant, and as long as Mbeki continued to remain
silent and failed to act on his Southern African Development Community
(SADC) mandate, he would remain a silent partner of Mugabe's tyranny.

Mbeki should be at home in Africa lobbying African leaders in the
African Union and the SADC to speak with Mugabe as a matter of urgency and
insist he allow democracy to take its course, De Lille said.

Kohler-Barnard said to ensure Mbeki did not remain misinformed about
how flawed the elections were, the DA would provide him with a copy of its
minority report on the elections.

Kohler-Barnard was one of two DA MPs in the SA delegation in the SADC
observer mission.

The report detailed the material flaws in the way the election was
conducted, and showed there was "no way that the poll can be judged as
having been free and fair", Kohler-Barnard said.

"The reality is that the elections were held in conditions where the
odds were heavily stacked in favour of the governing party, Zanu-PF.

"The net result of this fundamentally undemocratic environment was
that any opposition victory could occur only in spite of overwhelming odds
designed to mitigate the possibility of such an eventuality," she said.

Mbeki had also suggested to the world community that it should wait
for the results of a Presidential run-off before judging the situation in

"This position is nonsensical for a number of reasons including, most
obviously, the question of how a run-off can be mooted before the results of
the presidential poll have even been released.

"Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly such a run-off is likely
to be held in an even less democratic environment, and one in which there is
a real chance that all available measures (including violence and torture)
will be used to stifle the democratic will of the people."

It was high time that Mbeki be honest and open about the true extent
of the crisis in Zimbabwe, Kohler-Barnard said. - Sapa

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War veterans lay siege again to Zimbabwe white farmers

Monsters and Critics

Apr 7, 2008, 16:45 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - They arrived in the dead of Monday night - around 100
of them - outside a white-owned tobacco farm near the Zimbabwean capital
Harare, kicking at the gate and singing Chimurenga (liberation war) songs.

The farmer, who cannot be identified for security reasons, knew four of
their leaders. They were local men, he told Deutsche Presse- Agentur dpa by

'They said they didn't have a problem with me but that it had been directed
from the top. They said all the white farmers will be asked to go.'

The farmer was given until morning to evacuate his wife and four kids. 'I
asked them if we could continue grading the tobacco crop that is in the
barn. They said they thought so but that they'd have to ask.'

Zimbabwe's few remaining white farmers - estimated at around 300, down from
around 4,500 eight years ago - are under attack.

In scenes harkening back to 2000 when President Robert Mugabe encouraged war
veterans (mostly ruling party youth militia) to seize white-owned commercial
farms his henchmen are on the march again.

The trigger then as now was an electoral defeat. White farmers - mostly
supporters of Mugabe's rival opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai - were
scapegoated for Mugabe's defeat in a referendum on a draft constitution that
would have significantly boosted his powers. Dozens of white farmers and
black farm workers were killed in the ensuing land grabs.

Now they are being hung out to dry for his Zanu-PF party's defeat in March
29 parliamentary elections and his apparent second-place finish behind
Tsvangirai in concomitant presidential elections.

The results of the presidential vote have yet to be announced but an
independent estimate by an election NGO showed Mugabe taking under 42 per
cent of votes to Tsvangirai's 49 per cent.

The election was 'a way to reopen the invasion of Zimbabwe by the whites,'
the head of the Mugabe-loyal War Veterans Association said Friday, accusing
white farmers of conspiring with the opposition to retake their farms from

'The MDC (Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change) has made a monumental
blunder provoking a vicious dog it had better left sleeping,' Mugabe's
information secretary George Charamba warned.

The invasions started on Saturday, in the same area as in February 2000, in
the dusty farming town of Masvingo, where they took over three farms and a

By Monday the action had moved to Centenary in Mashonaland Central. By
Monday afternoon sources there said the area had been emptied of white
farmers and the total number of expropriated farmers nationwide were
estimated at over 10.

'They are still here,' a farm clerk said by telephone from a tobacco farm in
Centenary. 'They (the war veterans) are plenty. More than 30. They are
beating drums and asking for food.'

The farm owners and the farm manager had fled, but 'we (workers) are also in
trouble,' he said.

'I'm making money under Mugabe but if they throw me off again I think I will
leave,' said another farmer who lost three farms since 2000 to Mugabe's
brand of land reform and now breeds cattle and grows tobacco and seed maize
on a leased farm of around 2,000 hectares.

Analysts say Mugabe's scaremongering about the 'white menace' is all part of
a ploy to claw back support for a runoff in rural areas once loyal to him
where Tsvangirai took votes from him for this election.

'Sometimes the party creates enemies where real ones don't exist to keep
itself going,' South Africa's Business Day newspaper noted. 'Now the
perceived enemies are the farmers, whereas in the 1980s 'dissidents' had to
be crushed in Matabeleland.'

Among Mugabe's loyal supporters are some of the black subsistence farmers
that benefited from land reform, which decimated commercial agriculture,
wrecking the economy and causing widespread food shortages.

The MDC has denied plans to turn back the clock on land reform, saying it
will only take back farms where the owner has more than one and accusing
Mugabe of a planning a war against his own people.

So far the violence that characterized the 2000 land grabs has been absent.
'They didn't treat us badly,' the expropriated farmer in Harare said. 'But
I'm out of a job for now.'

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Zimbabwe court slaps charges on foreign media workers

Yahoo News

1 hour, 30 minutes ago

HARARE (AFP) - A court in Zimbabwe charged on Monday two South Africans, a
British national and a US journalist with breaking media accreditation rules
and released them on bail, their lawyers said.

New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak, 58, and a 45-year-old British
national have been told to reappear in court on Thursday, a week after they
were picked up by the authorities at a guest house in Harare.

They spent four nights behind bars.

"They have both been released on 300 million (Zimbabwean) dollars bail,"
lawyer Harrison Nkomo told journalists outside the court. The bail amount is
equivalent to 10,000 US dollars according to the official exchange rate.

Bearak, who won a Pulitzer prize in 2002 for his reporting from Afghanistan,
has been ordered to reside at a medical clinic after he slipped and injured
his back in jail, while the Briton must stay at the British embassy, Nkomo

The South Africans, technicians for satellite TV servicing company
Globecast, were slapped with two sets of charges, their employer said.

They will appear in court on Tuesday over the first charge of breaching
accreditation rules and again on Friday on a second charge related to their
initial release last week, Globecast CEO Alan Hird told AFP.

After Monday's hearing one of the South Africans, who suffers from diabetes,
was expected to return to a Harare hospital where his blood sugar level was
being monitored.

The pair were ordered to pay bail of 200 million Zimbabwean dollars each
before they would be freed pending their next court appearance.

Zimbabwean authorities barred most foreign media from covering last
Saturday's presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections and had
warned they would deal severely with journalists who sneaked into the

However a number of news organisations, including the BBC, have been filing
reports from correspondents operating under cover.

President Robert Mugabe's government passed a media law on the eve of the
last presidential elections in 2002 which has been invoked to expel foreign
correspondents and shut down at least four independent newspapers.

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Why Zimbabwe Matters


[Opinion] A defining moment for Africa, South Africa and the world

Nicolas van der Leek

     Published 2008-04-08 03:47 (KST)

Can rhetoric hold an entire country captive? Will the leaders (both inside
Africa and beyond) stand by while evil men do something?

In many ways, no news now from Zimbabwe is bad news for Zimbabweans. What
happens now though will enlighten outsiders more about the realities and
motivations of South Africa's, Africa's and the rest of the world's leaders
than about anything new we can learn about the poor beleaguered country

The story of Zimbabwe is the story that anyone outside of Africa,
contemplating investing in Africa, worries about most. An incisive article
in Time ("A Lion Meets His Winter," by Alex Perry and Ian Evans) summarizes
Zimbabwe's history as being essentially a history of Africa: "They wrested
their continent back from colonial rule only to plunder it afresh."

Heidi Holland on Mugabe

While those who know and understand Mugabe -- such as author Heidi
Holland -- are not surprised by Mugabe digging in his heels, what is
surprising is the South African and international press trumpeting hopefully
that "Mugabe must go." Despite virtually no evidence and with Mugabe making
no appearances himself subsequent to the polls, the press repeatedly (and
hopefully) dismissed Mugabe, describing him as "teetering." Holland says
Mugabe is at his most dangerous once he perceives himself to have been
"humiliated." Holland also predicted (speaking to SkyNews) that 'we haven't
seen the worst from Mugabe."

Did journalists (local and foreign) suddenly forget about the last decade of
history in Zimbabwe?

Despite 20 years of dictatorship, and obviously Mugabe's old guard remaining
comfortably entrenched and safely ensconced in their corridors of power, the
media after the election seemed to run away on a series of hubris filled
tangents -- in a citizen-journalism-Hollywood-reporter-style of third-hand
rumor-based reporting. After the US and international media's complicity in
promoting (even if by echoing other media) the invasion of Iraq, this looks
similarly shaky.

Lame Duck Leadership From South Africa

The most powerful figure outside of Zimbabwe able to wield influence in
Zimbabwe is South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki. True to the "lame duck"
label, Mbeki described the crisis in Zimbabwe as "manageable." African
National Congress president Jacob Zuma went further, but not by much. These
wishy-washy hands-off approaches by the so-called leaders of Zimbabwe's
powerful neighbor say an awful lot about the new ruling psychology in South

Meanwhile the Movement for Democratic Change (a rival party in Zimbabwe)
could do nothing but announce their "victory," and do so again and again,
each subsequent announcement appearing increasingly ineffectual. All the
while Mugabe was biding his time, waiting for the hubbub to die down.

Playing Poker

During this period the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (tasked by and
answerable to the governing ZANU-PF) found itself in a quandary, having in
its hands a vote count that "didn't look good for ZANU-PF." The ZEC and
ZANU-PF's hesitation upon discovering the election results itself also
demonstrates to what extent they have been surprised by the popular
sentiment of Zimbabweans, and to what extent the government has become
disconnected and indoctrinated by their dear leader.

The ZEC has since simply kept the voting results close to their chests,
while Mugabe ordered a mopping up of those elements that he perceived to be
rocking his boat. Journalists that were arrested included New York Times
reporter Barry Bearak and, writing for The Sunday Telegraph, Stephen Bevan.

CNN Speaks

Meanwhile, Fiona Forde, writing for South Africa's The Star newspaper,
exposed some of the troubling ironies going on, to some extent, behind the
scenes. While George Charamba, minister of information, banned CNN from
reporting on Zimbabwe's election, a few exceptions were made to allow
foreign media "accreditation." The fee for accreditation? $1,700.
Presumably, the handful of licenses was given to only those whom Charamba
considered "friends of the state."

But when news around the world took the sort of slant Charamba didn't
support, on whom did he call? CNN. Ford writes, "You couldn't make it up if
you tried: the president's man reporting live on a banned TV station that
was being carried live in his own country." And what was Charamba saying? He
was dismissing reports that Mugabe was about to step down.


Most of the news the outside world received in the end, Ford contends, was
provided by these "unaccredited" reporters roaming around Zimbabwe. The most
recent reports describe ZANU-PF's take on the election as filled with
"inaccuracies." Meanwhile, even Zimbabwe's High Court, expected to rule on
Monday, appears hesitant to appear to be in a position to provide
jurisdiction on any of the election issues.

Outside of Zimbabwe, Britain has committed to spending $2 billion a year for
a Mugabe-free Zimbabwe. South African businesses and leaders, taking their
cue from Mbeki, are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. One South African
expert has described the Zimbabwe economy as being "about the size of
Soweto," a large township on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

While businesses outside Zimbabwe insist that property rights be restored,
the war veterans are running amuck in Zimbabwe, spreading rumors and fear
amounting to "whites are coming to take back their farms."

While one company -- IMPLATS (the world's second largest producer of
platinum) -- wants to build a power plant in Zimbabwe, South Africa and rest
of the world seem to remain of the opinion that the country is too
insignificant to warrant any form of real intervention.

With 80 percent unemployment, an inflation approaching 200,000 percent,
Zimbabweans say "Zuakwana" (enough). Apparently, for Zimbabweans at least,
it may take a while longer to reach absolute rock bottom.

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Botswana opposition urge SADC and AU to intervene in Zimbabwe

By Lance Guma
07 April 2008

The head of the Botswana Peoples Party, Bernard Balikani has called on the
Southern African Development Community and African Union leaders to
intervene in Zimbabwe before the situation gets worse. Speaking to the
Botswana Press Agency Balikani said SADC and the AU must exert pressure on
Mugabe’s government to release the results of the March 29 presidential
elections. He expressed concern that the delay in the release of results was
a ploy by Zanu PF to manipulate the outcome even though they had been

Balikani described the policy of ‘quite diplomacy’ exercised by many African
leaders as a failure and said they use the policy as a pretext to avoid
criticising Mugabe. He also said the withholding of results by the ZEC was a
clear demonstration that most bodies running elections in Africa were not
independent. The Botswana opposition leader urged African leaders to
intervene and avert the possibility of bloodshed in Zimbabwe. He stressed
the need for an urgent political solution to be found.


SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Alert Over Zim Crisis?

Mmegi, Botswana
 Monday, 7 April 2008


The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is reportedly on high alert following the
delayed announcement of results of presidential elections in neighbouring
Zimbabwe. Reliable sources within the BDF told Monitor on Saturday that the
military has been on standby should events in Zimbabwe threaten the peace
and tranquility of Botswana.

The sources said over the weekend that BDF has been on the alert since
Thursday and they are not aware when this will end. "We have been on a
standby since last week Thursday should anything happen in Zimbabwe," said a
BDF soldier.

Word on the streets of Gaborone is that the BDF has been on the alert
because of the events in Zimbabwe. Some people in the city said their
friends and relatives who are members of the army told them about the

"Yes I know that these guys are on standby to prepare for whatever happens
in Zimbabwe which could cause disruptions in our country," said a young man
in Maruapula whose uncle is a soldier.

Meanwhile, BDF's director of protocol Lieutenant Colonel Mogorosi Baatweng
denied that the military is on the alert. "That is not true.

The BDF is not on a standby," he said. But he stated that the National
Disaster Preparedness Committee is on standby to assist if anything happens
in Zimbabwe. Baatweng said though they are not part of the committee, they
help whenever there is need. "That is where we come in to assist. It is
business as usual at BDF," he said.

Government spokesperman Jeff Ramsay said he is not aware of any orders
concerning the BDF to be on a standby.

"I am not aware of anything like that," said Ramsay. However, he said
government is closely watching the situation in Zimbabwe. "But I don't want
to speculate on what could happen there."

Efforts to get comments over the weekend from Vice President Mompati
Merafhe, Minister of Justice, Defence and Security Brigadier Ramadeluka
Seretse were futile.

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Zim election commission comes under fire

From AFP, 7 April

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission (ZEC) has been accused of pro-government
bias by the opposition and of rank incompetence by the ruling party as it
sits on results of last weekend’s presidential polls. The theoretically
independent body has come under fire not only from both sides of Zimbabwe’s
political divide but also from abroad, with the US querying its impartiality
because President Robert Mugabe appointed its leadership. In its pre-emptive
announcement last Tuesday that it had won both the parliamentary and
presidential election, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
made clear its lack of faith in the commission. "We don’t trust the ZEC,
which is not independent," said party secretary general Tendai Biti before
either the presidential or parliamentary results had been announced. Even
though the ZEC has since declared the MDC beat Mugabe’s Zanu PF in the
parliamentary elections, the opposition is still not convinced. "Instead of
verifying, they are modifying the results in the presidential elections,"
chief MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said yesterday. The MDC, convinced the
delay in the presidential election results is a tactic to buy Mugabe time,
has launched a legal bid to force the commission to declare the outcome.
However, as its lawyers spent the weekend in the high court, the ZEC has
also had to fend off flak from Zanu PF. The ruling party now wants a
complete recount, both of the presidential election and 16 key parliamentary
constituencies. "This the worst-run election I have ever experienced," Zanu
PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said in announcing plans to
contest some of the parliamentary results.

In revealing Zanu PF’s demand for a complete recount of the presidential
election, the state-run Herald said the party was particularly concerned
about the outcome in four particular constituencies. In a letter to the
commission, Zanu PF’s lawyers wrote: "The constituency elections officer and
his team committed errors of miscounting that are so glaring as to prejudice
not just our clients’ candidate but also (in some instances) his
co-contestants." Amid the accusations, one provincial elections officer has
been arrested. The ZEC replaced the Electoral Supervisory Commission in 2006
after complaints from the opposition that it had helped Mugabe rig previous
elections. According to the law, the ZEC’s chairperson is appointed by the
president after consultation with the judicial service commission. It
consists of four other commissioners appointed by the president from a list
of seven nominees submitted by a parliamentary committee. But Lovemore
Madhuku, a constitutional lawyer and long-time government critic, said it
would be a "fallacy" to describe the ZEC as independent. "There is no
difference between the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its predecessor,
the Electoral Supervisory Commission. What we had was just a name change and
no fundamental change," he said. US State Department spokesperson Tom Casey
suggested last week that delays could be down to the "somewhat politicised
composition" of the ZEC. But with the parliamentary results having
confounded predictions that the ZEC would hand victory to the ruling party
on a plate, some commentators say such criticism is unfair.

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Zimbabwe's civil groups speak on delayed election results

7th Apr 2008 14:47 GMT

By Civil Society Organisations

ZIMBABWEAN civil society expresses its gravest concern at the unacceptable
delay in the release of poll results for local government, House of
Assembly, Senate and Presidential elections.   We find the reasons given by
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for this delay to be inadequate as
all of the results were displayed outside all polling stations at the close
of counting and verification on 29 March 2008 and were therefore in the
public domain. We therefore call upon ZEC to release these results urgently
to restore some measure of public confidence in the electoral process.

We also call upon the establishment to desist from unlawfully arresting or
threatening with arrest, foreign or local journalists, opposition political
party leaders/activists and civil society leaders/activists at such a
sensitive national political moment in Zimbabwe.

 We have been informed that as of last night (3 April 2008) armed Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP) personnel had raided local hotels and arrested and
detained at least 3 journalists and a number of people celebrating House of
Assembly victories in some parts of the country for reasons best known to
themselves.  Such actions, on the part of the ZRP and those in charge of
them can only but add to the serious suspicions by the electorate that their
vote is not being respected.

We also have it on good and reliable record that the Zanu Pf party has
already embarked on a retributive and violent campaign before the final
results for the Senate and Presidential elections have been announced.  It
is our view that such actions show lack of respect for the will of the

Further to this, and in the event that there is no clear winner in the
Presidential election result, a circumstance that will necessitate an
electoral run off in terms of Section 110 of the Electoral Act, we urge the
ZEC to ensure that said run-off is undertaken within 21 days as is outlined
by the Electoral Act.

This is said because, we have it on reliable knowledge that the government
has the undemocratic intention of extending the period for the holding of a
run-off Presidential election from 21 to 90 days using disputed and
autocractic Presidential powers  on the pretext that the ZEC is ill-prepared
to hold it in the stipulated period. We hold that this is unacceptable given
the anxiety that is gripping the nation and given that in essence, such a
move is patently undemocratic and has all the vestiges of creating a serious
constitutional and political crisis of tremendous proportions.

We therefore insist and call upon ZEC to follow the Electoral Act and ensure
that the processes of a run-off, should there be one, are democratic and
instil confidence in the electorate that the ballot will not be subject to
arbitrary and undemocratic procedures.

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Camp Restore Democracy in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe in Distress!!Sunday, April 6th, 2008

On the 6th of April 2008, Phil Matibe set up "Camp Restore Democracy"outside President George Bush's Crawford Texas Ranch. Its a one man tent draped with the Zimbabwe flag with banners appealing to President Bush to assist us in our time of need.It is my intention to present a petition to President Bush, asking for  the US  to support a UN Security Council Resolution  for Intervention in Zimbabwe.

This is a visible 48hr one man demonstration by Phil Matibe supported by Tom Nyandoro coordinating the web technology and media side. Phil Matibe braving inclement Texas weather and the harsh elements this fight for democracy will prevail. Join us in petitioning The UN and President George Bush at

This action will be complemented by a demo and petition to the UN SG by MDC Zimbabwe North America Province(NAP) on Friday April 11 at 9:30AM commencing from The Zimbabwe UN Mission and proceeding to the UN Plaza in New York.

For more information please contact Phil Matibe at Phone 512-788-6355 and Tom Nyandoro at 267-421-2304 and the petition is located at our website


Tom Nyandoro

Zimbabwe In Distress Press Contact

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Fearful Zimbabweans begin exodus to new life


BEIT BRIDGE, South Africa-Zimbabwe border, April 7 (AFP)

With his wife and two children in tow Aaron Mashebu crosses from Zimbabawe
into South Africa, fearful his homeland might descend into post-election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Zimbabwe's refugees help Robert Mugabe

The Telegraph

By David Blair in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 7:37pm BST 07/04/2008

      As he lays out a selection of giraffes and elephants made of wire and
beads, Obert Gomba seems indistinguishable from any other street vendor in
South Africa.

      Yet Mr Gomba and millions of others like him provide the single most
important explanation for how President Robert Mugabe has managed to hold
power despite the catastrophe overwhelming Zimbabwe's economy.

      Mr Gomba is a Zimbabwean migrant who fled his collapsing homeland for
neighbouring South Africa five years ago. Of Zimbabwe's 12 million people,
at least three million now live abroad, according to an official estimate
from Mr Mugabe's regime.

      At a stroke, this mass exodus on a scale usually created only by civil
war has deprived Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, of hundreds of
thousands of votes. Without this outflow of people, Mr Tsvangirai would
almost certainly have won a clear outright victory in the first round of the
presidential election, instead of the 49.1 per cent of the vote his party
estimates he received.
      "It's obvious who I would have voted for," said Mr Gomba. "I would
have backed Tsvangirai. If Mugabe goes then we can get back home. Life is
better back home."

      Mr Gomba now earns a meagre living as a street vendor in Johannesburg.
Perhaps two million Zimbabweans are thought to have settled in South Africa,
stirring great resentment among the host population.

      "Some South Africans are OK, but others say 'you Zimbabweans, we don't
want you here, you are taking our jobs'," said Mr Gomba. "There are some
places where it's not safe for us to stay."

      After South Africa, Britain is the most popular refuge for Zimbabwean
migrants fleeing their worthless currency and inflation exceeding 100,000
per cent. At least 500,000 now live in Britain, according to a recent
estimate from Paul Boateng, the British High Commissioner in South Africa.

      By sending money and food to their relatives, this immense diaspora
keeps Zimbabwe's economy alive.

      Every month, Mr Gomba sends about £50 and a few bags of groceries to
his wife, Charity, and their two sons in the Zimbabwean town of Chitungwiza.

      Bus drivers plying the route between Johannesburg and Harare have now
become trusted couriers. In return for 20 per cent commission, they take
envelopes full of cash and bags stuffed with food from Mr Gomba and his
fellow migrants and hand them to their families in Zimbabwe.

      "Without this, my wife would not survive," said Mr Gomba. "Things are
very tough for her."

      Migrants living in Britain pay for groceries, generators and furniture
over the internet using websites like Their relatives then
collect these items in Zimbabwe.

      Despite the destruction wrought by his regime, Mr Mugabe can rest
assured that Zimbabwe's economy will be saved from total collapse by this
support from the diaspora.

      Hostile voters have left the country, while money and goods pour back
in. Mr Gomba acknowledged that all this helped Mr Mugabe. "It's true," he
said. "But what can we do?"

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ZADHR Statement on World Health Day

World Health Day Statement 2008 Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human

7 April 2008

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights calls to attention the
state of the public health system. Zimbabwe?s healthcare system, in a known
state of crisis, is in need of urgent attention. It is crippled by
dilapidated infrastructure, drug shortages, equipment breakdowns, brain
drain and costs of healthcare skyrocketing beyond the reach of the majority
of Zimbabweans.

Average life expectancy, according to the WHO, has declined from 60 years to
37 years for men and 34 for women during the past decade. Maternal mortality
is rising to a level which meets that of the world poorest countries.

ZADHR commends health professionals and health workers in Zimbabwe who have
continued to deliver health services in very difficult circumstances and
remain committed to the recovery and improvement of the public health

ZADHR notes the need for a comprehensive national health plan to replace
some of the uncoordinated ad hoc measures that have been put in place to
address the crisis in the short term. Such a plan must guarantee that
Zimbabwean?s are able to enjoy their right to health. The responsibility for
this lies with government in consultation with other stakeholders.

Marking World Health Day, ZADHR calls upon the newly elected Parliament of
Zimbabwe, amidst a myriad of challenges ahead of it during its term in
office, to prioritise policy interventions to address the public health
crisis in Zimbabwe. In doing so ZADHR urges the new Parliament to attend to
the following key areas:

Formulating legislation that protects, respects and fulfils the right to
health for all Zimbabweans.
Providing adequate infrastructure needed for effective and equitable
healthcare such as safe running water, adequate sanitation, electricity and
Taking measures to address shortages of drugs and medical equipment in the
short, medium and long term.
Creating conditions under which good training quality for health
professionals is guaranteed and ensure that conditions in which these skills
can be retained exist.

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Hot Seat interview: Dr John Makumbe & Professor Brian Raftopoulos

SW Radio Africa Transcript

HOT SEAT INTERVIEW : Journalist Violet Gonda interviews political
commentators Dr John Makumbe and Professor Brian Raftopoulos on the
elections in Zimbabwe . Who will benefit more in a Presidential run-off and
who stands to lose?

Broadcast 4 April 2008

Violet Gonda: We welcome political commentators Dr. John Makumbe in Zimbabwe
and Professor Brian Raftopoulos in South Africa . Hello there and thank you
for joining us on the program Hot Seat.

Makumbe/Raftopoulos: Hello Violet.

Violet: Now controversy has marred the elections in Zimbabwe as the main
political parties are jostling for power. The opposition Movement for
Democratic Change says its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the Presidential
election while ZANU PF has rejected these claims. Let me go first to Dr.
Makumbe, what is your assessment of the situation right now?

John Makumbe: It's a bit confused Violet. It's confused in the sense that
for the first time in the history of Zimbabwe - 28 years - we have ZANU PF
really in a tight spot as it were and really worried about loosing power and
we also have a situation where the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is
releasing results in dribs and drabs, and almost like it is afraid to
announce the Presidential results - almost like they are anxious to give
Robert Mugabe as much time in office as possible even though it sounds like
the result will actually require that there be a run off. But the MDC has
published results which show that Morgan Tsvangirai has won the contest.

Violet: Will come back to that issue of the run off. What about you
Professor Raftopoulos , how do you see things right now in Zimbabwe ?

Brian Raftopoulos : Yeah I think that we are in a kind of a stalemate with a
ruling party which has clearly lost the parliamentary elections and lost
legitimacy of the electorate but is unwilling to really give up power at
this stage; and an opposition party which has momentum behind it, the
momentum of a free and fair election but is now facing a Security
Establishment which is unwilling to let go of that power. So we are now
waiting to see exactly how this Security Establishment wants to deal with
this very dangerous situation and it certainly looks like there will be a
run off. But I think if it's a run off we are going to have a very different
kind of environment, a much more repressive one, a much more violent one and
if we think about the loss around the referendum in 2000 what happened in
the aftermath of that, it might give us some idea of what the options for
the ruling party are.

Violet: What are the options for the ruling party, what options exist for
Robert Mugabe right now?

Raftopoulos : Look I think the options are clearly for him, first of all for
them to release the results of the Presidential elections as soon as
possible so that we can know what the official position is. And if he indeed
he has lost -although even if the MDC figures are contradictory on this
score - but if he has lost, to give up power peacefully and to facilitate a
transition. The other of course is for him to massage those figures or and
declare victory or to go into a run off and to carry out a much more violent
campaign and to hang on to power. The latter option, the last option I think
will be a disaster. Any option which keeps Mugabe in power will be a
disaster for the country and in the long run even for his ruling party.

Violet: Dr. Makumbe what options do you think exists for the MDC?

Makumbe: I think the MDC has only one option and that is to re-emphasis that
Morgan Tsvangirai won this election and he should be recognised and Robert
Mugabe should either agree to a run off if he thinks Morgan Tsvangirai
failed to win 50 + 1. But I think it is necessary for ZEC to release that
final result and MDC will then be at liberty to say that's not what we found
but they are already saying that whatever results will be released by ZEC
they will go with it and they are ready for a run off.

Violet: But who will benefit more in a run off and who stands to lose?

Raftopoulos : With the way the figures are playing right now, Simba Makoni's
people and Mutambara's people are said to be anxious to support Morgan
Tsvangirai in a run off and Robert Mugabe at the moment doesn't have anyone
or ZANU PF doesn't have anyone wanting to work with ZANU PF. In fact just
two days ago civil society issued a statement saying; "We urge all political
formations other than ZANU PF to commit themselves to a situation where they
will not work with or cooperate with anyone who violates the peoples' rights
or who use violence as a means of attaining political power and forcing
people to do what they would rather not do." Essentially they were saying
that anyone who cooperates with ZANU PF will really be held in bad light.

Violet: Now Professor Raftopoulos do you agree with this because there are
others who say that if there is a run off this is the last thing that Morgan
Tsvangirai needs because Mugabe can use the state machinery to suppress the
vote. What are you're thoughts on that?

Raftopoulos : Ya I think that as things stand and just listening to ZANU PF
Deputy Minister of Information Bright Matonga that if there is a run off the
environment will be very different. I think the danger is that they will do
anything now to retain power. So I think that one would have hoped this
thing could have been settled and I think one of the ironies of this
election is that as a result of the division in the MDC and the lack of
cooperation on an election pact, there were 9 seats that were lost as a
result of that division and this thing may well have been settled at this
point already. But that being as it is I think we are in a situation where
we are left to watch whether ZANU PF is going to adopt its usual violent
strategy at a time like this.

Violet: On the issue of the split between the two MDC factions what do you
think Morgan Tsvangirai should do in the event this goes to a run off?

Raftopoulos : Well I think clearly he needs to develop and I am sure he is
already talking to the other formation of the MDC as well as to Simba
Makoni. I think they need an agreement on how this pact will operate and I
think that there is certainly a basis for this cooperation. I just think
it's now up to Morgan's Statesmanship to take the lead and to lead this
alliance into what could be another bruising battle.

Violet: Now Dr. Makumbe there is this other issue that is doing the rounds
in Zimbabwe and it's pretty difficult to actually get information because as
you said earlier if only ZEC would release the results and then we could
find out what the way forward is. But I understand that Mugabe is planning
to use Presidential Powers to change the re-run from 21 days to 90 days,
what have you heard about this?

Makumbe: Yes there is a lot of speculation about that. One of the things
with Zimbabwe at the moment is that there are a lot of rumours, there is a
lot of gossip going around so it becomes very difficult to know what the
difference is between a true or authentic report and what a rumour or a
baseless rumour or gossip is. For example it was rumoured on the first day
the counting began that Sabina Mugabe (Mugabe's sister) had died and people
were laughing it off and saying she died of shock because ZANU PF was losing
power (laugh). But to answer your question, it is rumoured and very strongly
so, that Robert Mugabe is playing around with the possibility of using the
Presidential Powers Temporary Measures Act to change the law - The Electoral
Act - where it says a run off within 21 days it would then read a second run
off of voting within 90 days.

90 days will give Robert Mugabe a lot of time to plan and manipulate the
electoral process; it will also give him time to deploy the war veterans,
the ZANU PF militia, the soldiers, and the CIO back into the field to whip
up support. Above all it will give him time to rest. We understand he is
really very tired after campaigning for the past 3-4 weeks; he is very
tired. The man is 84 years old, here sometimes we say 84,000 years because
here we talk mainly in thousands, but he's 84 years old and he gets tired so
he needed 3 months to do it again and that will be a real violation of the
law. And I suspect very strongly that if that goes through the MDC will have
a very difficult time, as Brian is saying, winning that second round.

Violet: But is it not realistic though to extend the days because is there
enough time to have a re run in 21 days. Has the ZEC for example got the
resources to hold another election in 21 days and get things like ballot
boxes and inks?

Makumbe: It is realistic, it is realistic. 21 days is really a lot of time
to print ballots which have only two names and the ballot boxes which exist
now can be emptied and the ballots package in a reasonable way for storage
and the same boxes can be used for the run off.

Violet: Do you agree Professor Raftopoulos that 21 days is enough time to
hold the second round of Presidential elections?

Raftopoulos : Yes I think I do agree and I think it's absolutely necessary
that this is done as quickly as possible for the kind of psychic state of
the nation. I think people are extremely desperate, extremely anxious to
know what is going on and I think that the world is waiting to see what is
going to happen. My sense is that it will take place towards the end of this
month and at this stage I think it's most likely to be that.

Violet: It also appears from the figures that we have seen, you know the
parliamentary figures that Mugabe has support and that the MDC can claim
victory but not landslide victory as we have seen with the results. Now is
it possible that if Mugabe were to win in the run off can he be considered
as having been legitimately elected? In other words doesn't a run off have
the risk of legitimising Mugabe in the eyes of the world, Professor

Raftopoulos : Look I think from the beginning the opposition and the civics
have been saying this election process no matter what happens cannot have
been free and fair. There have been huge problems with this result. It's
also clear that Mugabe and ZANU PF continue to have support. There is no
doubt that they have a social base and that has to be contended. And indeed
a run off which is done in a reasonably free and fair way could provide that
legitimacy for Mugabe and indeed raise problems. But it is the issue that
what Zimbabweans are demanding is an election which is not only seemed to be
free and fair but is actually so in practice. I think if that were done it
will indeed open up spaces in the political sphere which would take us

Violet: Dr. Makumbe on a different issue, some have said that people were
voting for change and not necessarily the quality of the Members of
Parliament - that their main concern was to remove Robert Mugabe and his
ZANU PF. What can you say about the caliber of the new parliamentarians? Do
you think they really know the functions of the parliament - some of them?

Makumbe: Ooh no, there are a lot of new Members of Parliament but not really
only on the ZANU PF side but even on the MDC side there are a number of MPs
from MDC who lost their seats particularly those from the Mutambara
formation. That formation was almost wiped out, but what is interesting
about that assertion is that even within ZANU PF there were voters who voted
for a ZANU PF MP but they voted for Morgan Tsvangirai as President and that
is one thing which has absolutely shocked ZANU PF to say; 'Why were people
voting for Morgan Tsvangirai at the Presidential level and voting a ZANU PF
MP?' In several constituencies where ZANU PF MPs won, in the same
constituencies Morgan Tsvangirai beat Robert Mugabe at the Presidential
level. And so there was really a desire for change and change was viewed as
getting rigged not so much of ZANU PF but of Robert Mugabe. But if you look
at it again in another way, why didn't people vote for Simba Makoni who was
actually saying you want ZANU PF you get it only it is roped in by another
name and people again wouldn't even bother to vote for Simba Makoni and his
grouping they couldn't even get one seat in parliament.

Violet: What about the quality itself of the Members of Parliament do you
think that they really know the functions of the parliament because some are
saying people were not voting for quality but just for change?

Makumbe: Well you can't really say that because you don't really know the
quality of these people until you look at their CV. The truth of the matter
is that this is going to be a much younger parliament. This is going to be a
much better educated parliament than what we have had in fact for the past
28 years. Educated not so much in the number of people with PhDs but
educated in the number of people with more than just O'levels. And then if
you look at the senate which we had, there were literally grandparents who
were literally just dragged to some room at Parliament and asked to say nice
things about Robert Mugabe. It's very different now from at least the few
results that have come through. It's going to be a real debating Chamber and
that's a much higher level. Again not too many PhDs, not too many highly
educated people but nobody who will say I don't understand what you are
saying because you are saying it in English?

Violet: Professor Raftopoulos do you think it is going to be a difficult
parliament in terms of none of the political parties have the 2/3 majority
and therefore it will be difficult for any party to actually railroad
through bills or legislation. What are your thoughts on that?

Raftopoulos : Yes I think obviously there is going to be a need for a lot of
compromise but in the political structure that we have got the Presidency is
the real centre of power and of course that is the danger of any President
coming at this time - that very quickly after, if there is a change of
Presidency the Constitutional reform process needs to come into play.
Because obviously if Mugabe won a re-run in some way legitimate way then the
real power will rest with the Presidency and not with the parliament and
that will be the real danger of the gains of this period being eroded with
very quickly.

Violet: What are your thoughts of the future of the Mutambara MDC as critics
say they made such a massive miscalculation and misjudged the situation in
Zimbabwe ?

Raftopoulos : Let me put it this way; I think obviously the losses in
Matabeleland were a big blow for the formation and they have to look very
carefully at the strategy and what has happened. At the same time I think it
was a huge blunder not to go into this election with an election pact
because as I said it cost at least 9 seats which were lost because of that
division and it may well have been that Morgan could have had this 50 +1
percent already had that pact been done. So in some ways the victory of the
Morgan Tsvangirai formation in terms of numbers is a pyrrhic one because we
still have Mugabe there, and this Presidency now talking about a re-run. So
one has to look at all aspects of this current situation and assess in due
course what were the pros and cons of such a strategy.

Violet: And Dr. Makumbe what are your views on the future of the Mutambara

Makumbe: I think the fact that Arthur (Mutambara) didn't run for the
Presidency could work to their advantage in the sense that they could now
really restart negotiations and restart talks to reunite the MDC. It will
not benefit Morgan in the sense of this particular 50% + 1 which is needed
but it will do a lot of good to the country and to the MDC as a party for
all of them to belong to one party instead of two formations. But as Brian
has said I think it was a miscalculation on their part. But those are the
dynamics of politics also, I don't really blame them, it is really the
dynamics of politics. I think where a mistake may have been made was to
commit themselves to supporting Simba Makoni in the pre-election period, in
the campaigning period because they essentially were giving an impression
'they are so alienated to Morgan Tsvangirai and his group they would rather
support someone coming directly from ZANU PF', and people are right now
saying are they going to go with ZANU PF in which case ZANU PF will never be
an opposition political party even if Morgan Tsvangirai wins the
Presidential vote.

Violet: What about on the issue of Simba Makoni, what are your views on the
issue that there are some who say he galvanised this election and took votes
away from Robert Mugabe, do you agree with this?

Makumbe: Yes I think Simba Makoni was the best thing that ever happened to
MDC because he literally took - he split ZANU PF. Even if Robert Mugabe and
ZANU PF refuse to accept the statement that ZANU PF is split, it is split
and the catchment area for Simba Makoni's support was really previously ZANU
PF supporters. Morgan Tsvangirai may have actually suffered some loss in
support but if that loss actually simply went to the Mutambara formation
rather than to the Simba Makoni formation, there may be give and take areas
here. But Simba Makoni's galvanising of or splitting basically of ZANU PF
gave Morgan Tsvangirai a wonderful opportunity to grab the largest slice of
the cake and run with it.

Violet: And also still on you Dr. Makumbe people seem to be waiting for
Mugabe to make up his mind and there seems to be no collective action like a
strike or industrial action from the trade unions or the civic society. What
are you doing as civic society on this particular issue?

John Makumbe: We are working very hard; we have been issuing press
statements over and over - first of all urging the people to remain calm and
to wait for ZEC to release the results. Morgan Tsvangirai in fact when he
made his first appearance after the ballot after the voting, he actually
appealed to the whole nation to wait until ZEC publishes the results and
confirms them - even though his party was going to publish the results the
following day - he urged the civil society, he urged the public to wait
until ZEC publishes the results. That's what we are doing. We are very much
aware and mindful of the last few weeks in Kenya and we know that Zimbabwe
cannot afford that situation. With violence we all lose and the regime is -
as Mugabe said - has degrees in violence. And if people should go on strike
or street demonstrations the regime will love to just come whipping or
breaking bones, cracking skulls and say the President has declared a State
of Emergency and therefore the elections - as the results which have been
published have been nullified and the law actually allows Mugabe to nullify
an election process. I think its Section 151 but I would have to check that.
But it allows the President to nullify an election or to validate anything
done in an election even if it might be in violation of that Electoral Act.
And so we can't take that risk we will wait until ZEC announces the results
and we will either celebrate the victory for progressive forces or we will
make decisions with regards to what other options we will have.

Violet: Professor Raftopoulos we all know that the economy is in big trouble
in Zimbabwe and many have said it cannot be revived with Mugabe in power.
Now t here is International consensus that the will of the Zimbabwean people
must be properly revealed and respected, what happens if it is not respected
what help can Zimbabwe hope to get from the International Community

Brian Raftopoulos: It is clear that any kind of Mugabe victory however
illegitimate or legitimate is going to continue the crisis in Zimbabwe .
Mugabe and the regime have lost so much International legitimacy that it is
very difficult for Mugabe and his party on his own to regain that. So I
think the real danger of this run off is that Mugabe would do anything to
win and then the economic and the political crisis will continue to deepen.
And as bad as things are in Zimbabwe they can get worse, they can get a lot
worse and that I think is the tragedy.

So one hopes that also the leaders in the region who have been really not
very useful to the Zimbabweans over the last few years are able to take some
positions which will intimate to Mugabe that in the best interest of the
nation and Zimbabwe it's really time that this thing was resolved in a way
which can really be a prelude for national reconstruction both politically
and economically.

Violet Gonda: Thank you very much Professor Brian Raftopoulos and Dr John

Comments and feedback can be emailed to

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Democracy is soap for the stain of tyranny

New Zealand Herald

5:00AM Tuesday April 08, 2008
By Gwynne Dyer

It has been a vivid demonstration of how power really works. A week ago,
Robert Mugabe was still the undisputed ruler of Zimbabwe.

He was 84, and he had reduced the country to ruin: four out of five adults
are unemployed, inflation is running (officially) at over 100,000 per cent,
and one-third of the population has fled abroad in search of work, mostly to
South Africa. Yet nobody in his own party, Zanu-PF, dared to question his
rule, the police and the Army remained loyal, and ordinary people lived in
quiet desperation.

The silent submission of the population owed a good deal to the brutality of
the police, but what can explain the loyalty of his own colleagues in the
party and the Army? After all, Zimbabwe is theirs, too, and nobody likes to
see their homeland dragged in the dirt.

Moreover, it was all Mugabe's fault, brought about by policies that he
freely chose to pursue. He is not 10 feet tall and he has no magical powers.
Why did they obey him?

They obeyed him because he has been in power for 28 years, longer than the
great majority of Zimbabweans have been alive. (The average Zimbabwean woman
is dead at 34, the lowest life expectancy in the world. Men make it to 37.)
They obeyed him because he was the hero of the independence struggle and an
icon of African liberation.

Most of all, they obeyed him because his rule was apparently the only thing
that kept them out of the desperate poverty in which most Zimbabweans live.
Powerful people who defied him were rarely killed, but they were cut off
from the flow of wealth and had a very hard time of it.
So the regime cruised on almost unaffected by the ruin of the country, and
Mugabe even felt secure enough to allow more or less free elections on March

He had been under heavy pressure by the African Union to clean up his act.
The farther away potential investors are, the harder they find it to tell
the difference between one African country and another, and Zimbabwe's bad
reputation was hurting the whole region.

So Mugabe made what seemed to be a harmless concession. Typically, in
Zimbabwean elections, the cities vote against Mugabe, but the countryside,
where 75 per cent of the people live, votes for him. At least, it seems to.
Rural people are more easily intimidated, opposition observers can easily be
chased away from isolated rural polling stations, and things can happen to
the ballot boxes on the way to Harare to be counted.

Mugabe was so confident, he didn't even send out Zanu-PF's storm-troopers,
the so-called "war veterans" (most of whom were not born during the
liberation war), to frighten people into voting the right way.

But he had made one crucial miscalculation: in response to pressure from the
African Union, he agreed to let the vote be counted locally, with the
results posted up outside each polling station.

So the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), sent
members to photograph the results at more than 8000 polling stations, and it
suddenly got very hard to manipulate the returns at a central location. And
it turned out - maybe it had been true at every previous election, too -
that around half the population had not voted for Zanu-PF.

Suddenly, in a huge shift, the "old man" is not the object of fear and
adulation any more.

In the eyes of some senior party people and their military and police
colleagues, Mugabe has become a bargaining counter.

If the jig is really up, maybe they could trade Mugabe and power for a
peaceful retirement with no awkward questions about where their wealth came
from. Of course, Mugabe would also have to be allowed an honourable
retirement himself - but as one of the last heroes of Africa's independence
generation, he was guaranteed that anyway.

Or maybe they should declare martial law, annul the election and push Mugabe
aside - or leave him out front as a figurehead and flak-catcher. He must be
very disconcerted, after 28 years of absolute power, to discover that it was
just a confidence trick all along.

But the game is not over yet. While both those options remain open, the
party elders and the security forces have opted for the moment to play more
or less by the rules: a run-off election in two weeks between Mugabe and MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

That gives them time to deploy the bully-boys, re-intimidate the rural
population, and pull off a second-round victory for Mugabe. Or, if that
strategy doesn't look like it's going to work (for once people have lost
their fear, it's much harder to re-instil it), then they still have time to
exercise Option A or Option B.

So what does this tell us about power? That the more absolute and
illegitimate it is, the easier it is for it to dissolve overnight. And that
democracy is a good solvent.

* Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are
published in 45 countries.

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Pisa in Bikisa

Monday 07 April, 2008
by Phillip Barclay

The light from the candle on the trestle table catches Tobias’ face, casting
Rembrandtesque upward shadows from his features. A big-eared bug lights on
his shoulder, but Tobias is concentrating so deeply on the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission manual that he doesn’t notice the creature, which
appears to be peering down to study the impenetrably bureaucratic guidance

Tobias inhales.

“Now we can open the seals on the ballot boxes. But first I must warn our
foreign observer from the British Embassy that once I break these seals you
cannot leave until the counting is fully complete.”

I nod. Some fiddling with keys and sealing wax; and suddenly a pile of
ballot papers pours onto the table. Slumbering polling officers spring to
life and grab ballots chaotically, shouting out and flinging papers at each




Tobias tries to referee the frenzy and finally persuades his colleagues to
collaborate in producing three piles, one for each of Zimbabwe’s
presidential candidates. I am so captivated I find I’m holding my breath.
The piles take shape. One is just a few papers; the second is a decent pile,
about as tall as a doughnut. The third is a tottering, towering Pisa of

I am in a tiny place called Bikisa, deep in rural Masvingo, where Robert
Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has won every election that has ever been held. (Ian
Smith did not believe in elections for black folk). So my assumption is that
the big pile is Mugabe’s.

But I am wrong. The presiding officer asks for the votes to be counted. The
smallest pile is Simba Makoni’s – 11 votes. The middling pile is Mugabe’s –
44 votes. Amazingly, incredibly, the Pisa-pile belongs to Morgan Tsvangirai.
The polling officer gets tongue-tied at ‘one hundred and twenty-seven’ and
loses count. She sighs desperately and starts again. 167. Tsvangirai has won
with about three-quarters of the vote.

I force myself to keep breathing steadily; fainting at this point would not
become an officer of Her Majesty’s Government. Though I suppose I could
plead hunger. Anticipating that I would be locked into the count for hours,
my bag is full of chocolate and other essential rations, but I feel too
self-conscious to stuff my face while this little piece of history is
happening right in front of me.

Bikisa, of course, is only one of 9,400 polling stations. So my result is
just one small head of mealie in a very big field. But it’s suggestive, and
as I travel round other polling stations and speak to British Embassy and
DFID colleagues in remote parts of every province, it’s the same story.
Tsvangirai has done well and his Movement for Democratic Change has made
gains in areas where its activists used to be beaten for wearing a party

Tobias, like a million other Zimbabweans is a decent and principled
professional, who has done his job scrupulously and well. This election may
be fiddled, but not by him. By the time he releases me it’s the early hours
of Sunday morning. The Milky Way stretches over me. Weakened by lack of
chocolate I am overcome by whimsy – I see a starry pathway to infinity paved
with hope and new possibility. Definitely time to take a breath and eat some
chocolate. Not, sadly, a Milky Way.

A policeman sidles up and whispers in my ear:

“Mr Philip, we are so pleased you are here, but do you really think there is

Tonight the answer is yes. Tomorrow, who knows? Will they ever dare to
release these results? How does a country that has only ever transitioned by
violence accept peaceful change? Next week’s questions. Now to bed.

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JAG open letter forum - No. 527 - Dated 4 April 2008


Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
1.  John and Joy from Chidza

Dear JAG

Looks like the terror and farm invasions are back ...............

"Well, never thought I would have to do this email do not know if it may
be my last from Chidza. At 3.30pm today a lorry load of war vets arrived
at our gate to take over our land, equipment and cattle. It is now 6pm
and they have been singing their war songs at our gate and more and more
of them have arrived.

We managed to get Alison and the Little John to town and for now it is
just John and myself and dogs in the house now on the farm.

They have said that our labour will not work tomorrow and that they want
us to kill them a sheep which John refuses to do so no doubt they will
kill one for themselves. They have said that no labour will come to work
tomorrow either!

Graham Richards was under siege at the same time as us so it has to be
orchestrated. Goddards and Deidricks are in the same boat.

They have already taken over PaNyanda Lodge, Graham and Callie are in
town. Alison is at Lorna in town and Carl is expected back from Bulawayo
tonight and will go to Lorna.

Lorna's no. is 039-******; Ali is on 011-******. Our phone landline is
039-******. Cell Phone Nos. 011-******; 023-******;

Please pass this email on to as many folk as you would like to. If you
know of anyone in the Media all the better. We have to let the world know
what is happening.

Well done to ZESA (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority). As they load
shedded us and I phoned my friend in the ZESA Faults and he phoned Harare
and they have switched us back on.

So for now please keep all of us in your prayers and we will send a follow
up tomorrow if we are able.

Our love to you all.

John and Joy from Chidza."
2.  James Anderson

Dear JAG

Well done to Mike Mason for letting us all know that the white collaborators
are still hard at it.
These collaborators hate it when stories about their support for the evil
gangsters are exposed.
This is not survival, it's just horrible greed.

One day, bright lights will be shone into dark places.

James Anderson.
3.  Stu Taylor

Dear JAG

I think my sentiments lie with Mike Mason on the question of pandering to
those that try and intimidate us. In the last near-decade a lot of us have
shown our true colours; some are still on the land, others not, for one
reason or another, but they who aided and abetted, even "under duress",
know who they are. I hope they sleep at night, but care not if they don't.

Should Mugabe force a re-run of the election, the guy is going to be so
humiliated in defeat that he'll wish he never got into politics, let alone
became the leader of a country!! Those who failed to vote must take a
look at the result, realise that their vote could have made a difference,
and flock to the polling stations in hoardes to witness the final exit
of a man whose only legacy to Zimbabwe is one of misery. 30-odd% is not
a true reflection of how the people feel; I was disenfranchised in 2002,
after having voted in every election since 1980, but care not, as when
the new order takes the reins I will get my vote back. Pasi ne ZANU(PF).

Stu Taylor.
4.  Mike Mason

Dear JAG,

Amy- Lee's reply is not bad but needs a little correction.  Yes there are a
few farmers left out there who have not collaborated and I admire them. I
did not include them in my criticism, only those who supplied vehicles
to rallies etc. NO we did not all send our vehicles in 2000. I said NO
from the beginning. I did not last long after that but at least I have a
clear conscience.

Mike Mason
5.  Cathy Buckle

Dear JAG

As we stand exhausted and betrayed at this critical moment in Zimbabwe's
crisis, it seems pertinent to look back over the last few days and record
who said what.

On the 29th March shortly after casting his ballot Mr Mugabe said: "We are
not in the habit of rigging... We don't rig elections. I cannot sleep with
my conscience if I have rigged,"

On the 29th March, sure that Zanu PF would win the elections, Mr Mugabe
said: "We will succeed. We will conquer. Why should I cheat? The people
are there supporting us. The moment the people stop supporting you, then
that's the moment you should quit politics."

On the 29th March asked if he would participate in a run off Presidential
election should the result not be decisive, Mr Mugabe dismissed the
suggestion and said: "We are not in the habit of boxing matches here. We
knock each other out in the first round."

In an evening press conference on the 1st April MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai said: "Zimbabwe will never be the same again; the people have
spoken with one voice. I would like to thank the millions who came to
reclaim their dignity and invest in the change they can trust."

In the evening of the 1st April the world media went into a frenzy and
reported that a deal had been done and Mr Mugabe was about to step down.
The news didn't last long and a CNN reporter said: "What's clear is that
nothing is clear."

On the 2nd April at a press conference MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti
announced election results based on figures displayed as public notices
outside polling stations. Biti said: "Zanu PF have lost this election.
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is the next president of Zimbabwe."

On the 3rd April, long before the results of the Presidential election had
been announced, Deputy Minister of Information Bright Matonga said: "Zanu
PF is ready for a run-off, we are ready for a resulting victory. ... we
only applied 25 per cent of our energy into this campaign... we are going
to unleash the other 75 per cent that we did not apply in the first case."

On the 3rd April the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said:
"If he (Mr Mugabe) wants to come here, the (Malaysian) government should
welcome him. If he has lost, he has to accept the decision of the people,
that is the best thing he can do."

On the 4th of April, before the results of the Presidential election had
been announced, Zanu PF Secretary Didymus Mutasa confirmed that Mr Mugabe
would contest in a re-run. He said: "We are down but not out. Absolutely
the candidate will be Robert Gabriel Mugabe - who else would it be other
than our dear old man?"

On the 4th April, hinting at what will inevitably be the slogan if there
is re-run of the election, war veteran leader Jabulani Sibanda said:
"It now looks like these elections were a way to open for the reinvasion
of this country [by the British]."

And so now we wait. We thought our poor broken country had suffered enough
and that at last our prayers had been answered - it seems not - not yet.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.Copyright cathy buckle
5th April 2008.
My books: "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available in South Africa
from: and in the UK from: To subscribe/unsubscribe to this newsletter,
please write to:
6.  Cathy Buckle

Dear JAG

A letter from the diaspora
5th April 2008

'What is it that makes a man want to stay in power forever?' asks Hugh
Masikela the wonderful South African jazz trumpeter in a song recorded
some years ago. In the song, Masikela lists the African dictators of the
time, Robert Mugabe's name was there then - and still is there now. Did
any of us really believe that the old man would just pack his things and
quietly fade away into the sunset? I for one admit that I thought that
HE was intelligent enough to recognise when it was time to go. I thought
this week's official ZEC announcement that the MDC has won a majority in
the House of Assembly would be the time for the old man finally to admit
to himself that now is the time. There were stories on Wednesday night
that he was going to broadcast to the nation and like everyone else here
and at home I sat up till the small hours waiting for news that never came.

It has been like that all week; waiting for news that never came, an endless
week of hope alternating with despair. Desperate phone calls between the
UK and Zimbabwe but none of us here or there really knowing anything. I
understand ZTV has been its usual moribund self; When it happens we'll be
there - as long as it's not real news of course. Everywhere else in the
world and specially in the UK there's been wall-to-wall coverage on all
channels and endless column inches in the papers but the truth is that none
of these so-called analysts and intrepid (!) foreign journalists know any
more than we do. We are in the dark, quite literally. One of the funniest
sights of the week was the BBC's John Simpson doing his piece to camera by
the light of torches held by his colleagues. Where were the dreaded CIO
spooks, I wondered? There was this large white man 'somewhere in Harare'
he told us very mysteriously, doing his thing in full view and yet he
hadn't even been threatened let alone!
 picked up by the men in dark glasses!

Another BBC man was shown talking, so he said, to former war veterans on
a once thriving commercial farm telling him how they no longer supported

But for me, it was the interview with the indefatigable Dr John Mukumbe that
rang the first warning bell of trouble ahead. In the event of a runoff,
Mukumbe warned, Mugabe's men will have three weeks to terrorise the rural
population. HE will once again unleash his war veterans and Youth Militia
on the thousands of rural people who so bravely voted against the dictator
and voted instead for Change. Mugabe could use his Presidential powers to
extend the three weeks even to three months, Mukumbe told the BBC and that
would give Mugabe and his black boots and Green Bombers plenty of time to
silence the hungry and angry masses.

Six days after the elections ZEC has still not announced the Presidential
results and Mugabe is still there in State House. 'He's not going
anywhere' declared a gloating Bright Matonga, Zimbabwe's Deputy Minister
of Information, to the BBC who faithfully reported his words and showed
his toothy grin on just about every news bulletin. Why, I wondered has the
Deputy Minister been chosen to do all the talking, where's the Minister
himself? Then I remembered when I had first become aware of the Bright one.

Zimbabweans will remember Matonga hit the headlines at home when he
invaded a farm aided by the usual mob of youth militia. His wife was with
the Bright one; it so happens she's a white woman from Essex. As the mob
struck up their usual chorus of hate and anti-white rhetoric, she was
heard yelling, Give us back our land. You stole it from us. 'It struck us
as odd,' commented the farmer's wife, an understatement if ever there was
one but typical of the sort of madness that has prevailed over the last
ten years under Mugabe's leadership. Unlike Morgan Tsvangirai who talks
of love and reconciliation, in his old age Mugabe speaks of nothing but
hatred and vengeance against his perceived enemies.

Last night viewers at home had their first glimpse of Mugabe since the
elections. We in the diaspora saw him too, saying Farewell to the team of
African observers. The sound quality was poor but we heard Mugabe telling
the team 'We don't cheat, we don't do that but the other side. Ooh, aah'!

Along with all his other 'skills' - those degrees in violence - what a
consummate performer he is. Today he meets with the Polit Bureau, I wonder
if Simba Makoni will be there? Will they be thinking at all about what is
right for the country, do they even care about the welfare of Zimbabwe's
people or are they thinking only of themselves? These Big Men have so much
to lose and Robert Mugabe has more to lose than any of them. I remember
Bishop Lamont, that brave fighter for justice who was tried for treason by
the Smith regime and kicked out of Rhodesia because he chose to stand with
the suffering black people. 'rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic'was
how he described the dying days of the Smith regime. History repeats itself
it seems. The question now is whether Mugabe's men will choose to go down
with his sinking ship or whether they will find the courage to tell the
old man that it's time to go. And that brings us right back to the question:

What is it that makes a man want to stay in power forever?

Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH
7.  Eddie Cross

Dear JAG

A Wounded Buffalo

Zanu PF is behaving just like a wounded buffalo. The African buffalo is
one of the most dangerous adversaries in the world of wildlife. It has
an enormous capacity to take punishment, is extremely difficult to kill
outright and when wounded - even fatally, it has the ability to do great
damage. It is also a highly intelligent adversary.

I have never hunted buffalo but have friends who have and had a senior in
my department when I was a young man actually ambushed by a wounded buffalo
in the Zambezi Valley. He was very lucky to survive and was never quite
the same again. A frequent target of the trophy hunter are the lone bulls
who move about in small groups or on their own and have a magnificent set
of horns with that huge mass of bone across the head.

If the hunter gets a clean heart shot, the buffalo has the capacity to run
for some considerable distance before collapsing. If the shot is not clean,
then the buffalo is known to run and then circle back and lie in ambush for
his hunter. That is what happened to my senior in the valley. Although a
large animal, the buffalo knows exactly how to stand in the shade and to
blend in with his background. Often the only thing that might alert you
to his presence is a flick of the ears or a tail.  Fail to spot him and
you could be on the receiving end of a short and furious rush and fall
victim to the horns or just his mass.

Zanu PF lost this election massively - if you take the combined vote of
Makoni and Tsvangirai, 73 per cent of the people who voted (2,4 million)
voted against him - he only got 27 per cent of the vote. The poll was
41 per cent if you use the voter's roll but by my calculation (2,8 to 3
million actual voters) it was nearer 80 per cent. Even when the National
Command Centre had spent a day massaging the results they only got them
down to 50 per cent for Tsvangirai and nearly 10 per cent for Makoni -
still a huge defeat for a sitting President.

In addition they have lost control, even with the rigging, of the House
of Assembly. In the Senate it looks as if we will have a stand off -
but this does not make that much of a difference. But any measure, Zanu
PF has taken a shot that has fatally wounded the old bull. However, like
the buffalo I described above, he is still dangerous.

As things stand right now, the Zanu PF Politburo has decided that a full
audit of the Presidential results can go ahead. We demanded this when we saw
the results for Mashonaland Central four days ago. When this is completed
(perhaps today) then we will hear if the final tally gives Morgan 49 or
50 per cent of the final count. If its 49, they want a rerun, if he gets
50 per cent plus one vote, he will be sworn in as President and we will
get a new government.

I will not bore you with all the gory details of what has gone on this
week, but just to say that Zanu PF and Robert Gabriel Mugabe have had a
tough time accepting the reality of the loss of power and privilege. I
understand that Grace Mugabe has left the country and has taken a very
considerable sum of money (real money) with her. There is also a strong
rumour that the man who led 5th Brigade during the genocide in the 80's
has committed suicide. But that may or may not be true. Nevertheless it
shows how much of a total shock this has been for the Zanu machine.

If there is a run off, I can only anticipate an electoral massacre. Ex
President Mugabe will not even get the numbers he currently has in the poll.
It will be, in effect, a coup de grace.

So we are thinking through what a re-run might mean for us - how we might
handle it. It is already clear that despite the fact that so far the people
have committed no acts of violence in any way, that Zanu PF is going to use
violence to try and get its way in the re-run. Already yesterday we have
seen new violence in several areas, Masvingo especially. Morgan Tsvangirai
said in his press conference yesterday that Mugabe is preparing to go to
war against the people. It will not help him.

I just pray that there will not be a re-run. The country simply cannot
take any more of this. Work is impossible - our factories are shut down as
the staff cannot work, suppliers cannot fix prices and buyers are frozen
in their tracks. The economy is virtually at a stand still and inflation
is racing ahead. There is no food in the country and hunger is becoming
a real problem, the Reserve Bank has been looted and I understand that
enough foreign exchange has been taken out to supply the countries needs
for all basic foods for 12 months. It is an absolute disgrace and to think
they still want to hang onto power!

What has become clear over the past week is that Zanu PF can no longer
command what happens in the administration, power is slipping away and
they are already yesterday's men. It is also clear that the army and the
police are both divided in their loyalties and now support change. This
was the last pillar of support for the Zanu PF regime and with this gone
it is just a matter of time.

The region is playing a key role and is trying to persuade Mr. Mugabe
to step down and allow a peaceful transition. Mugabe is not co-operating
and it is time regional leaders stepped up the pressure. As for the UN,
this august body has yet to comment and do anything effective - must we
slide into complete chaos and anarchy before they become engaged? Thabo
Mbeki is in the UK for a summit of leaders - I am sure he is getting it
with both barrels.  Last night Aziz Pahad was jousting with Kate Hoey -
wish I could have seen that contest.

But for the rest, thank you to all who stood with us - through the criticism
of our stand and strategy, through the long nights of despair and finally
doing the hard work that will make democracy the tool we used to bring
down a corrupt and cruel tyrant. We showed it could be done - not with guns
and bullets, not with fire and machete's, just with the quiet strength of
ordinary men and women going out and voting when they got the opportunity.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 6th April 2008

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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