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Victory Block - A farm truck from Brookfield was used to transport war vets to a rally yesterday and drove around for abour 5 hours after finding out that there was no rally. There were numerous requests for transport to a rally at Msitwe Farm today.
Tsatsi - A rally is to be held on Zanadu Farm on Friday afternoon.
Mazowe/Concession - Two groups of war vets at Mazowe Ranch have been pegging and cutting down trees. An impromptu all-night pungwe was held at Belgownie on Saturday.
Gutu - 14 war vets visited Blythe farm on Saturday and told the owner to move his cattle off so that they could peg. Save Conservancy - Poaching and tree-cutting continues, and some poachers have been caught.

Nothing to report.

Umboe - Conservancy guards on Highbury Estates are being intimidated Banket - There have been about 5 road blocks set up on the area which have been cleared by Banket Police, but are suspected to have been erected by war vets.
Trelawney - A farmer was threatened.

Selous - There was an all night pungwe on Queensdale Farm on Saturday.
The next day the occupiers apologised for the noise!

Marondera South - Monora was reoccupied by a small group led by a non >war veteran. Two heifers are missing on Tarara.
Wedza - War vet Chipere arrived at Una in a Nelson Farm truck demanding a truck and trailer in order to attend a meeting, and became aggressive when the farmer refused. He assaulted the foreman and then took a tractor, trailer and pick-up. He proceeded to Nelson Farm, where he took another two tractors and trailers and went to the meeting with as many people as he could round up. There was no police reaction. On Poltimore Farm, the farmer was assaulted when returning to the farm after lunch. He was on a motorbike and was investigating a report received from a labourer's child of people awaiting him. He came across a road block on his farm, tried to turn and leave but when his motorbike stalled he was assaulted by 12-15 men, and was hit him on the back of a head with a chain. He has had stitches but is fine. The police were attending an accident close by, so their reaction was very good and 2 of the assailants were arrested. Last night the labour force was assaulted and are not at work today. Apparently the incident was fueled after the farmer saw a woman taking water from a trough and told her not to damage the ball valve. She went and told the occupiers that he had accosted her.
Enterprise - RSB Farm was visited by 44 on Saturday, who returned to Mutoko after the local taskforce told them to leave. The Zanu PF rally at the Arcturus village went without incident.
Bromley/Ruwa - Masun was occupied and pegged on Saturday, and a presence of 6 left behind. The farmer of Bellapaise was told by a war vet that he would be visiting the farm today to collect the Title Deeds and Cession of the land on the farm so that he can organise residential plots. The War Vet Association Secretary General has been informed.
Marondera North - War vets arrived on Rapid farm yesterday demanding the labour's accommodation. They were denied this and left. On Lekkerwater the owner's father was told to vacate his home by aggressive occupiers. The group then went to stop a truck en route to the rally and made the driver make a detour to collect more people. They then coerced the owner of Rapid Farm to take them to the rally. On Danrose war vets threatened the labour, forcing them to open the house and office on the farm. They searched the house and office, removed articles belonging to Securitas Security, intimidated the workforce and threatened to burn the house.
Beatrice - A local war vet is causing problems in connection with the FA showgrounds. There is still a presence on Twa Glens.

Inyathi - The foreman on Loxley Coombe Farm was assaulted and hospitalised on Saturday night. 4 of his assailants have disappeared, and police are investigating.

Odzi - This morning labourers were prevented from working on Sonop Farm because transport had not been provided for the Zanu PF rally. The Member in Charge is handling the situation. All farmers in the area have refused transport due to fuel shortages. On Koppies Farm the farmer and one other person were threatened with a barricade on Saturday afternoon.
A new occupation took place on Maonza Farm, and the farmer has been negotiating with 4 of the occupiers.
Old Mutare - A new occupation has left a presence of 5 on one farm.

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Mashonaland East
Marondera - Elmswood furniture factory: on Thursday, due to a power cut, factory workers were stood down for the day.  They objected and sought assistance from the war veterans.  On Friday, invaders arrived to peg the property; owner instructed by the Provincial War Vet to be at the Zanu (PF) HQ that afternoon.  Meanwhile, the factory was taken over by invaders. Workers and owner were told to gather there.  The driver instructed to round up all ex-Elmswood workers living in the Ruzawi local compound and bring them also.  The police arrived and the invaders left, threatening to return on Monday.
On Saturday afternoon, President Mugabe addressed a Star Rally in Marondera.
A large crowd attended, including farm labour and about 15 commercial farmers.  The mood of the crowd could not be described as enthusiastic. The rally was peaceful. A scheduled meeting between the President and the Provincial Task Force failed to take place.
Macheke/Virginia - Acquisition letters have been delivered to farms on the list as of yesterday.  Prior to Saturday's Star Rally in March there was pressure on Showers and Second Chapter by war vets for transport.  A farm owner's foreman and farm workers were assaulted on Friday night.  Police attended.
Wedza - generally quiet but demands from war veterans for transport to rallies continue.
President Mugabe held a Star Rally at Sadza on Saturday morning.
Beatrice/Harare South - relatively quiet.  Tsunga Resettlement has internal strife in the party ranks relating to the death of a candidate there recently.
Dr Sekeremayi is addressing a rally there today.
Featherstone - all quiet.
Enterprise - RSB Farm had 44 invaders arrive from Mutoko yesterday.
Sedgemore Farm received information that plots were to be pegged at $100 each to raise money for food.  The rally at Arcturus  village today to be addressed by Zanu (PF) candidate for Seke and Minister Murehwa.
Bromley/Ruwa - Bellataise Farm was threatened by Likomba to hand over the deeds on Monday to cede the farm.

All quiet including Chimanimani.

All quiet

Mashonaland West (North)
Been a few problems with road blocks on Street and Mazvikidei Road. Street has been cleared by Support Unit, whilst Banket Police are dealing with Mazvikidei Road.
Otherwise, all quiet.

Mashonaland West (South)
Chegutu - delivering of acquisition notices by a three men in a vehicle; number delivered unknown.  War vets are demanding farmers attend Zanu (PF) rallies.

No report

No report

Mashonaland Central
The province has been stable over the weekend up to midday today.Apart from numerous Zanu (PF) "voter education) rallies, there has been minimal activity over the weekend.
Tsatsi - Thomas Majuru continues to be active in the area and visited two farms yesterday with the normal demands to sign over half the farm.
Shamva - Attempts yesterday to secure the safe return of the owner on Glencairn Farm were unsuccessful.  The resident group is uncompromising and, even in front of the Bindura Officer-In-Charge, openly threatened to kill the owner.  The planned wheat crop has not been planted, lodged maize is germinating and planting of potatoes has been delayed.  losses are estimated to be in the region of Z$4 million.
Mazowe - Thomas Majuru visited Duncan Farm yesterday and left in anger when the owner refused to concede to his demands.  Majuru was apprehended on his return journey to Harare and cautioned by police, but no charges were laid.
He has warned farmers there will be reprisals following his "harassment" by police.
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There are lengthy negotiations to try and allow owner back onto
Farm.  Full report of the region to be included in tomorrow's sitrep.

Masvingo East and Central: - A new invasion has occurred on Riverton
with 72 people.
Mashava Area:- A new invasion occurred on Kimberly Farm and the owner was told to be off the farm by 2nd July.
Gutu/Chiredzi/Save Conservancy:- No communications

Gweru : -  Quiet

Banket :-  Hillpass Estate reported that a steer has been slaughtered. Another death threat received on a farm.

Situation fairly quiet.
Chegutu:-  On Leny Farm the empty manager's cottage has been occupied.
Kadoma:-  On Alabama, demands were made for the use of vehicle, tractor and trailer, money, diesel and maize meal - all were refused.  On Georgia Farm, war vets have moved into the school.
Norton:-  Don Carlos is reported to be under warrant of arrest for assault in Norton town.
Dispol has informed the regional office that anyone supplying transport for rallies risks having their vehicles impounded as this can be seen as coercing people to attend rallies.

No Sitrep

All Quiet

The report made yesterday with Mr Roy Bennett, Chimanimani, was incorrect. He is still on the property, but is aware of the situation where the Police and Support Unit have been withdrawn.

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Monday, 12 June, 2000, 18:26 GMT 19:26 - BBC

$100 fee for Zimbabwe monitors

Zimbabwe is charging a fee of $100 to foreign observers and journalists
covering the election later this month.

The deadline for voter registration passed on Monday, amid accusations that
the registration process has been unfair.

The opposition says attacks on its supporters by the ruling party are on the

And in a further attempt to raise revenues, the government has clamped down
on bicycle registration fees.

Zimbabweans are due to vote on 24-26 June in an election which has already
been dogged by accusations of fraud and intimidation.

Accreditation charge A change to the electoral act on Friday introduced a
compulsory fee for election monitors for the first time.

There was no official announcement of an accreditation fee for journalists,
but foreign correspondents were being charged the same US$100 fee as the

Officials said the fee was to cover the costs incurred in the registration

Political analyst John Makumbe said the charge was a means of discouraging
foreign observers.

"How can you ask someone to pay $100 for observing your elections?  It is
unconstitutional," Mr Makumbe said.

"This is not going to solve our foreign exchange shortages," he added.

Voters' roll Zimbabweans queued to check that their names were on the
voters' roll before the deadline for changes passed.

One report from Harare said a disproportionate number of white people had
turned out to check the list.

Whites are seen as likely opposition supporters in the election.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association has expressed concern over the state
of the voters' roll, saying it included the names of some dead people and
excluded others.

"Names of some people who have voted during the previous elections are not
appearing on the voters' roll," the association's director Munyaradzi Bidi
told the state-run Ziana news agency.

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, says 30 of
its supporters have now died in increasing violence, and
10,000 displaced.

A BBC correspondent who visited the village of Haruna in the east of the
country said 18 huts belonging to opposition supporters - including one MDC
electoral candiate - had been burnt to the ground.

The government accuses the opposition of inciting violence and insists the
police are doing their best to control it.

Bike bust The Harare authorities have confiscated hundreds of bicycles from
commuters who had not paid their annual licence fee of US$1, the state-owned
Herald newspaper reported.

"Scores of people who had cycled into town for work had to walk back home
after failing to raise the required fines" on Wednesday, the paper said.

Fuel shortages caused by foreign exchange problems have already hit
commuters using cars and minibus taxis.

HARARE, June 12 (AFP) - Authorities in Harare have seized hundreds of bicycles from commuters who had failed to pay their annual one US dollar registration fee, the Herald reported Monday. "Scores of people who had cycled into town for work had to walk back home after failing to raise the required fines" on Wednesday, the government-owned newspaper said.
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From the MDC, 11 June 2000

30th MDC supporter dies in violence

Last Sunday, June 4, two MDC members, Finos Zhau (23) and his brother were
taken from their home at Danga at Mberengwa West constituency by ZanuPF
members and marched to Texas ranch, a well-known site used by so-called war
veterans as a torture chamber. It is a farm that was recently invaded and is
a headquarters for war veterans in the area, a lot of people have been taken
there and tortured according to Mberengwa MDC officials.

The two brothers were kept there until Wednesday last week and were very
badly beaten with sticks and iron bars. They were released on Wednesday
evening, Finos was unable to walk. They stopped at Mbwembe school and stayed
there. Finos' unnamed brother left him with MDC candidate Mfandaidza Hove
and went back to the village to inform others. However, on Friday, Finos
Zhau died. He leaves a wife and small children. His brother has since been
taken to hospital and is in a serious condition.

Although the police at Mberengwa and the police at Mataga and at Sundawana
were informed on Friday, none have tried to interview the surviving brother.

The postmortem will be performed in Bulawayo on Monday. The funeral will
take place on Tuesday in Danga at 7am, the police have advised MDC party
officials not to attend the funeral.

From The Guardian (UK), 12 June 2000

Mugabe accuses UN monitors

Andrew Meldrum in Harare

President Robert Mugabe yesterday accused the United Nations secretary
general, Kofi Annan, of trying to "hijack the international monitoring" of
Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections later this month. Even as Mr Mugabe
attacked the UN, state-sponsored political violence continued in Zimbabwe
with one more opposition member killed, one tortured and others badly

Mr Mugabe reacted angrily to the UN's withdrawal on Friday from monitoring
Zimbabwe's elections. Mr Mugabe said the world body had tried to assume "an
illegitimate role" as co-ordinator of foreign election observers. The
secretary general decided to act when Mr Mugabe issued new restrictions on
international monitors, including regulations on where they could go and a
lengthy accreditation procedure.

The UN said the new regulations were contrary to standard international
procedures and withdrew its offer to supervise and coordinate 300
international observers and 16,000 domestic monitors. The European Union has
taken on the role of coordinating other observer missions. EU, Commonwealth
and other observer groups are livid about the new restrictions, which they
believe are clearly attempts to make them less effective on the ground. But
they have decided to carry on in the hope that their presence will help
bring about better elections with less violence.

The presence of the international observers has reduced, but not halted,
Zimbabwe's political violence. In the latest attack, a supporter of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change was killed in the troubled
Mberengwa district while another is in intensive care after being tortured.
Finos Zhou, 21, died after being abducted and severely beaten by supporters
of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. His brother is in hospital with numerous
injuries and cigarette burns all over his body. Although at least three
prospective MDC candidates for Parliament have been killed, the party has
managed to field candidates in all 120 constituencies and is posing the
biggest challenge to Mr Mugabe since he led the nation to independence from
Britain in 1980.

Despite widespread intimidation, support for the MDC appears to be growing.
"We are being ruled by thieves and murderers instead of leaders," said
Prosper Katsaya Mapfumo at an MDC rally yesterday. "It is now or never. Now
is the time for us to build a better Zimbabwe for our children." He was
speaking at a rally for the MDC candidate in Harare East, human rights
lawyer Tendai Biti, attended by more than 3,000 Zimbabweans, black and

"The main issue in our campaign is the economy," said Mr Biti. The MDC would
cut the budget deficit and withdraw troops from the Congo war, creating a
new economic climate and delivering new jobs. Most of Mr Biti's supporters
arrived on foot, wearing jackets and jerseys but shed the outer layers to
reveal MDC T-shirts. Just a few weeks ago an MDC supporter was beaten to
death after being caught wearing such a shirt. The enthusiasm of the MDC
rally was in stark contrast to the lavish but subdued Zanu-PF rally in the
same constituency for its candidate, Stalin Mau-Mau. It featured free
refreshments, free T-shirts and caps, and music from one of Harare's most
popular bands. It was also attended by about 3,000 people.

"There is no political violence in Zimbabwe," declared Border Gezi, a
provincial governor, at the rally. "Those who create violence cannot expect
Zanu-PF to go to bed and do nothing. We are not like Jesus. If you hit my
cheek, I will hit back with a big fist," he said.

From CNN, 11 June 2000

Opposition in Zimbabwe says another official is killed in election violence

HARARE - Another opposition organizer in Zimbabwe has died after being
attacked and tortured by ruling-party supporters, the main opposition party
said Sunday.

The death of 21-year-old Finos Zhou brought to 31 the number of people
killed in political violence since February. Zhou and his brother campaigned
for the Movement for Democratic Change in the remote Mberengwa district,
about 300 kilometers (190 miles) southwest of Harare, said Sekai Holland,
the party's election candidate for the district.

The two were abducted by ruling party militants last Sunday, Holland said.
They were beaten and burned with cigarettes. After they were released, the
younger brother died Friday at a party supporter's farmhouse, Holland said.
His funeral was scheduled for Monday.

The elder Zhou was in critical care in the hospital at the district center
of Zvishavane, Holland said. Holland said the brothers had been deliberately
targeted. Police were not available for comment on the death.

The main opposition party poses the biggest threat to President Robert
Mugabe's hold on power since he led the nation to independence from Britain
in 1980. The human-rights group Amnesty International has said it doubts
that the elections, set for June 24-25, can be free and fair because of a
campaign of "state-sponsored terror" mostly perpetrated by ruling-party
supporters against opponents.

Border Gezi, a top ruling party official, on Sunday said opposition
supporters provoked violence. "We are not like Jesus. If you hit our cheeks,
we will hit back," he told supporters at a rally for Stalin Mau-Mau, an
election candidate in Mugabe's party in Harare's eastern suburbs. Mau-Mau, a
former Marxist guerrilla in the liberation war that led to independence, is
now a wealthy businessman who still uses his revolutionary pseudonym.

Independent human-rights monitors, however, say ruling-party militants,
including thousands who have illegally occupied more than 1,400 white-owned
farms, are responsible for instigating as much as 90 percent of incidents of
violence and intimidation.

From News24 (SA), 11 June 2000

Violence death toll hits 31

Harare - The death toll in the violent run-up to Zimbabwe's parliamentary
elections this month reached 31 after the fatal assault and torture of an
opposition campaign worker in a ruling Zanu-PF party detention camp,
opposition officials said on Sunday. Fainos Zhou, 21, died on Friday in the
Mberengwa district about 300km south west of Harare and would be buried in
the area on Monday, said Sekai Holland, candidate in the area for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

She said Zhou's brother, whose first name she did not know, and one of her
security guards, were both in hospital with severe lacerations, bruising and
cigarette burns all over their bodies. Police in the area refused to

Mberengwa has since last month become one of the worst hit in the tide of
violence that has swept through Zimbabwe since February as ruling party
supporters set out to crush the MDC. Holland said the two Zhou brothers were
pulled off a bus on Sunday last week at a roadblock manned by Zanu-PF
supporters in the Mataga area, and taken to a base of self-styled guerrilla
war veterans on a nearby commercial farm, occupied by ruling party

"They were tortured for three days. They were burnt with cigarettes. They
were beaten on their legs knees and hands with sticks. One of them had no
skin on his back," she said. The brothers were released on Wednesday, and
walked 20km to her family home near Mataga. She said her own vehicle had
been burnt by ruling party supporters and the only way to get the two to
hospital was by bus.

"But Zanu-PF had roadblocks and were demanding Zanu-PF cards from everyone,"
she said. It would not have been safe for the two brothers to be taken by
bus. Fainos died on Friday night.

Holland is challenging her cousin Richard Hove, one of Mugabe's cabinet
ministers and MP, for the area in the last parliament. Several hundred
international observers have arrived in Zimbabwe to monitor the elections
but have not been able to leave the capital Harare because new regulations
demand that they first be accredited by electoral authorities. Accreditation
is due to begin on Monday.

The country's well-publicised turbulence has resulted in the cancellation of
a planned visit there by the Spanish Olympic men's and women's hockey team
in August. Colin Williams, coach of the Zimbabwe men's team, said the tour
was meant to be part of the Spanish team's preparations for the Olympic
Games in Sydney. "However, they have cancelled that tour after hearing and
reading about the situation in Zimbabwe," he said.

It was the second major international sporting event to be called off in two
days. On Saturday the Dunlop Challenge Rally, one of the biggest regional
motorsport events in Southern Africa, also due to take place in August, was
cancelled because the organisers said they "could not guarantee the safety"
of visiting drivers.

Veterans loyal to Mugabe have vowed they will go to war if Mugabe does not
win the elections, scheduled for June 25-25.

Comment from The Star (SA), 10 June 2000

Can Zim find courage to vote out Mugabe?

Earlier this year, the Helen Suzman Foundation carried out the first
national opinion survey in Zimbabwe in a long time. Its purpose was to
provide all political actors, the press and civil society, with a political
road map of a society whose political contours have long been invisible
under one-party dominance. The results were striking. Held in February, at
the same time as the constitutional referendum, the findings cast
considerable doubt on the validity of the referendum result.

In Harare and Bulawayo, where ballot stuffing was all but impossible, the
results tallied almost exactly with the official results, but everywhere
else the estimate of anti-government opinion was far higher than the
referendum suggested. It seemed as if the government had rigged the
referendum - and still lost it.

Overall, only 35 percent wanted Zanu-PF to stay in power; 63 percent thought
it time for a change; 75 percent wanted the president's powers reduced; 69
percent thought he should resign after two terms and 65 percent wanted him
out right away. Moreover, 69 percent were very dissatisfied with the
government and 68 percent lacked confidence that it was telling the truth.

On the other hand, opposition feeling had yet to crystallise fully. The poll
showed that in a presidential race Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), lagged behind Mugabe but half either refused to
answer this question or were uncertain. The auguries, however, for the MDC
were good. Many voters were only just becoming aware of it and after the
referendum victory the momentum was on the MDC's side. The overwhelming
impression from the survey was that the president and his party had
outstayed their welcome. The government was out of touch: Its concerns were
no longer the same as the voters'.

Whereas Mugabe endlessly harped on the land question, the survey showed that
only nine percent thought the land question was the most important issue and
55 percent wanted things to stay as they were on the land. A further 13
percent even thought that white farmers who had left should be invited back.
As many as 80 percent thought it was not sensible to blame the whites for
the country's problems. Voters overwhelmingly blamed the government, not
only for the state of the economy but for its failure to solve the land
question. Unfortunately, as the message began to sink in that the government
was facing defeat, Mugabe and Zanu-PF allegedly fell back on the use of
state-sponsored terror to try to change the electoral arithmetic.

The Suzman foundation survey found that only 21 percent of voters believed
nobody in their community was frightened of Zanu-PF. About 33 percent said
most were, eight percent said everyone was frightened. Only 30 percent felt
confident they could criticise the government without harm befalling them
and 52 percent said it would be difficult to vote differently from the way
the police, security police and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)

At stake in Zimbabwe is more than the plight of individuals or political
parties. The rule of law, prospects for multiparty democracy and for future
economic development are all on the line. An ageing liberation culture seems
to be breaking on the anvil of its own corruption and arrogance but in its
death agony it seems willing to pull the whole country down with it. For
Zimbabwe's sake, and in the interests of all democrats in southern Africa,
one must hope ordinary Zimbabweans will find the courage on June 24-25 to
vote for a different future.

This article appears in the June 2000 issue of Focus, published by the Helen
Suzman Foundation.

From Reuters, 11 June 2000

Commonwealth chief doubts fair Zimbabwe poll

By Dominic Evans

LONDON - Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon said on Sunday that
conditions in Zimbabwe did not appear conducive to free and fair elections.

McKinnon, who has sent a team of observers to monitor the June 24-25
parliamentary election, said recent violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe
was "not a good omen". "I've only had preliminary reports because (the
Commonwealth team) haven't been out into the countryside, but one still has
to be concerned that the problems there don't really look as though they are
conducive to free and fair elections," he said.

"There are far too many people being killed in front of an election. Far too
many. That's not a good omen for an election," he told BBC Television's
Breakfast with Frost. The Commonwealth has expressed concern at a recent
wave of violence which has killed at least 27 people, mainly opposition
supporters, after invasions of white-owned farms by liberation war veterans
and supporters of President Robert Mugabe. The war veterans say the land was
stolen during the British colonial era a century ago. Opposition figures say
the land invasions are aimed at crushing dissent before the election.

"When I was there three or four weeks ago there was clearly the issue of
violence, there was clearly the issue of voter intimidation," McKinnon said.
McKinnon said the 54-nation Commonwealth was unlikely to take swift action
if it deemed the elections unsatisfactory. But he said that a critical
report from the organisation, made up of Britain and most of its former
colonies, could not be ignored in Zimbabwe.

"People will see it, take note of it and that will have some effect on
whoever is in charge in Harare," he said.

The Commonwealth has sent a 44-strong team to Zimbabwe. It will deploy four
observers to each of Zimbabwe's 10 electoral provinces to assess the
political environment and determine whether the poll is free and fair.
Veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi has warned hundreds of election observers
who have arrived from the European Union, the Commonwealth and the Southern
African Development Community to steer clear of the emotive land issue. The
United Nations said last week it had pulled out of the election process in
Zimbabwe after the Harare government rejected its offer to co-ordinate the
international observers.

From BBC News, 11 June 2000



Well now Fiji was partially suspended from the Commonwealth last week in
protest at its adoption of military rule. The Prime Minister and other
hostages have now entered their fourth week in captivity following the coup
but Fiji is not the only pressing issue the new Secretary General of the
Commonwealth is having to deal with. Elections, or so-called elections, will
be held in Zimbabwe later this month and the question there is whether
they'll be free or fair at all, our diplomatic correspondent James Robbins



James Robbins reporting there and now I'm joined by the Commonwealth
Secretary General himself Don McKinnon, good morning Don.


Good morning.


Let's begin with Rhodesia shall we for a minute, now known as Zimbabwe,
Harare now no longer known by its old name. But now what is your opinion at
the moment at the way things are going, you've had six, or so advanced
observers from your team out there, there are going to be 44 isn't there, in
the end, what, what are the, what did you see there and what are you


Well I was there probably three or four weeks ago, there was clearly the
issue of violence, there was clearly the issue of voter intimidation both of
which I took up with President Mugabe and said these are to be concerns in
the lead up to an election. We've had a small team there now, I think the
whole of the observer team has, in Harare at the present time, I've only had
a preliminary report because they haven't been out in the countryside but
one still has to be concerned that the problems there don't really look as
though they're conducive to free and fair elections.


Is there anything that could be done to make them so, I mean the UN have
drawn back from their role but you haven't and there will be other observers
there, is there anything that can be done, it can only be done I suppose by
Mr Mugabe?


Well there are probably going to be 150 plus observers there by the time the
elections are held. A lot of observers unfortunately are probably only going
in for two or three days. The Commonwealth ones will be there for the full
period there and afterwards so you've got a reasonable amount of coverage
but I guess if you're looking at, you know, 4,600 polling stations
throughout the country plus this level of, level of concern about the future
for a lot of people, it's very uncertain.


And when they talk about 29 people being killed, I mean most of those were
supporters of the opposition or white farmers weren't they?


Far too many people being killed in front of an election, far too many and
that, that, that's not a good moment for an election unfortunately.


So, so what would, what would happen Don if your observers and other
observers come to the conclusion that this was not a full and fair election,
that there was disgraceful intimidation, it is not a fair result, what do we
do then?


Well I'm obviously in the hands of now the election team led by General
Abdulsalami Abubakar who are due to report to me immediately after the
election and again before the results are announced and after the results
are announced. There will of course be interim reports up until then but if
they come down with a very severe report that report is left just to hang
there I guess because people see it, people examine it, people take note of
it and that will have some effect on whoever is in control in Harare after
that I'm sure.


Well but will anybody do anything about it?


Well that's up to other International agencies.


Would we for instance consider suspending an undemocratic Zimbabwe regime
from the Commonwealth?


Well that is likely to be addressed by ministers when they next meet on a
series of issues, obviously it wouldn't happen immediately unless there was
something extraordinary to develop but if it is just considered to be an
election that didn't go right that can be addressed by ministers and they
may have a number of views on how it should be dealt with.


Do you think there's any hope of a change of heart by Robert Mugabe?


Well he, he certainly impressed upon me at the time that he wanted to see
free and fair elections. He spent a bit of his time in discussion with me
saying that the opposition were a large part of the problem, I said to him
well look the opposition are minor by comparison with Zanu-PF surely that's
not the case and we, we went off on to another subject I guess. But he is
obviously a very proud man and this is a big major electoral issue for him.


But I mean he said, he said yesterday or the day before that white farmers
that resist removal from their farms by squatters will be killed and we may
take more of the farms, that is not very hopeful language is it?


Not at all, not at all and is really quite in-appropriate, not at all the
kind of signals that he was giving me when I met with him just a few weeks


So you doubt now some of the things he said to you?


Well I'm only picking up what I see in the media about what is reported back
to me and I'm frankly looking forward to the report I get from, from the
observer mission that's there.


Yes will you get reports on a regular basis or only after the election?


Oh no I'll be getting reports from, we have eight commonwealth secretary
officials down there now with the observer team so there'll be a, a
reasonable capacity to get broad spectrum reports from across the country.

From Business Day (SA), 11 June 2000

Mugabe attacks UN over Zimbabwe poll observers

HARARE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has sharply criticised the
United Nations, saying it had tried to seize control of all international
observers ahead of the crucial June 24-25 parliamentary election. The
official Sunday Mail newspaper quoted Mugabe as saying the world body had
tried to hijack the election observation process instead of deploying its
own independent observers.

"I never invited the UN to send a co-ordination team. I asked them to send
an observer team,=94 said Mugabe, addressing what the Sunday Mail called a
star rally in the town of Marondera, north of the capital Harare, late on
Saturday. "The world body tried to hijack the election monitoring process.
Instead of sending observers, the UN wanted to send an irrelevant technical
team, which wanted to co-ordinate the whole process," Mugabe was quoted as

The UN said it had pulled out of the election process in Zimbabwe after the
Harare government had rejected its offer to co-ordinate the numerous
international observers. The Sunday Mail said there were about 16 000
foreign observers in Zimbabwe to monitor the elections, including teams from
the Commonwealth, the European Union and the Southern Africa Development

The weekly Standard newspaper reported on Sunday that the polls could be
legally challenged on the ground that the statutory Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC) had failed to exercise some of its key constitutional
obligations. "A consultant with the ESC, Rejoice Ngwenya, confirmed that the
ESC had not taken part in the supervision of registration of voters and that
it had also not been consulted in matters of the modification of the
Electoral Act," the newspaper reported. The modification, contained in a
government gazette notice published on Friday, allows only members of a
"disciplined force" and those outside the country on government business and
their spouses to vote through the postal system. "The postal voters are a
little bit tricky to monitor," the Standard quoted Ngwenya as saying.

The ESC has the task of supervising the electoral process and the elections
themselves. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights chairman Kevin Laue as well as
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials David Coltart and
Welshman Ncube said sidelining the ESC could lead to a challenge of the poll
results. They said there was already widespread abuse of the electoral

Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon said on Sunday conditions in
Zimbabwe did not appear conducive to free and fair elections. "There are far
too many people being killed ahead of an election. Far too many. That is not
a good omen for an election," he told BBC Television's Breakfast with Frost.

At least 27 people have died and hundreds, mainly supporters of the
opposition MDC, have been beaten, raped or forced to flee their homes in the
last few months. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and allied veterans of the
country's liberation war are blamed for most of the violence. The attacks
followed the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms since February by
liberation war veterans and Mugabe supporters.

Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Nigerian military ruler and head of the
Commonwealth's observer mission, told reporters on Saturday he expected
Mugabe to stick by his pledge to allow the 44-member group access to all
areas during the elections. Mugabe, 76, faces the biggest challenge of his
20 years in power from the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai were on Sunday addressing rallies in rural districts
in eastern and southern Zimbabwe respectively.

From The Observer (UK), 11 June 2000

Oryx float killed by FO

Link with Congo conflict scuppers diamond firm's ambitions - Adviser Grant
Thornton quits

Jamie Doward

Pressure from the Government has forced the controversial diamond mining
company Oryx to pull its UK flotation, The Observer can reveal. Senior
London Stock Exchange officials told advisers to Oryx, which has links to
the Zimbabwe and Congo governments, that it would not be allowed to go ahead
after objections from UK authorities. It is understood that the Foreign
Office pressed the exchange to halt the flotation. Government officials said
there were concerns about the company's mining in the Democratic Republic of
Congo, formerly Zaire.

The highly unusual Stock Exchange move came days after Oryx's adviser, Grant
Thornton, stated: 'We are satisfied Oryx has fulfilled all appropriate
criteria required for admission to the Alternative Investment Market.' But
after the exchange had closed last Friday, Grant Thornton wrote to tell Oryx
it was no longer prepared to act as its adviser. UK stock exchange
regulations say any company seeking a listing must be approved by
independent advisers.

The Observer has established that a 'highly placed individual' approached
the exchange regulators several days ago, expressing concern about the
flotation. Peter Hain, the Foreign Office Minister, has criticised Oryx
because its diamond concession, which the firm believes could be worth $1
billion, was in the southern Congo - 'a clear conflict zone' in the
country's bloody civil war.

Oryx disputes this, saying the concession, near the town of Mbuji Mayi, is
hundreds of miles from the fighting in Kisangani, where hundreds died last
week following clashes between rival rebel factions backed by Rwandan and
Ugandan troops. United Nations observers, however, reported fighting earlier
this year between Congolese government troops and rebel forces in the Kasai
region, in which Mbuji Mayi is situated.

Oryx, registered in the Cayman Islands, has been criticised for its links
with Zimbabwe and Congo through two joint ventures. Under the terms of the
Mbuji Mayi concession, Oryx and the Zimbabwean government each receive 40
per cent of future dividends. The Congolese government takes the rest. The
flotation, which was to have been through a reverse takeover of Petra
Diamonds, will intensify the focus on gem mining in the Congo. Only a few
miles from the Oryx concession, the Belgian company Sebeka, partly owned by
De Beers, has mined for several years. The Millennium Diamond - the huge,
apparently priceless gem displayed in the Millennium Dome - was mined near
Mbuji Mayi, although De Beers claims it was unearthed before the current

Geoffrey White, Oryx's deputy managing director, was angry about the pulling
of the flotation, due on Tuesday. 'The attraction of seeking a listing
through Petra was that we believed London had total transparency, and we
could operate on a clear commercial basis,' he said. 'We're outraged by
what's happened.'

Petra Diamonds, whose shares are suspended, was due to hold an extraordinary
general meeting tomorrow, so shareholders could vote on Oryx's reverse
takeover. Asked if legal action was possible, White said: 'That's under

From Business Day (SA), 11 June 2000

Congo diamond firm Oryx set to pull UK listing

LONDON - A mining firm with a $1bn diamond concession in the Congo is set to
pull its London stock market listing amid mounting controversy about the
role of gems in fuelling African wars, industry sources said on Sunday. The
British government has voiced concerns about Oryx's activities and its links
with the governments of Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which
are fighting together in a bloody civil war in the country.

Oryx - incorporated in the Cayman Islands and run from Oman - was due to
have floated on the junior Alternative Investment Market on June 13 through
a reverse takeover of Petra Diamonds. Shareholders were to have voted on the
plan at an extraordinary general meeting on Monday. But its plans have faced
a barrage of criticism from government officials and human rights activists.

The Observer newspaper said the London Stock Exchange had told Oryx's
adviser Grant Thornton that the float would not be allowed to go ahead after
objections from British authorities and that Grant Thornton had resigned
from the case. Stock exchange rules require companies to be approved by
independent advisers.

"We are outraged by what has happened," Geoffrey White, Oryx's deputy MD,
said. A foreign office spokesman said on Sunday he was unaware of any
official intervention, but repeated the government's concerns about
companies trading in diamonds from African countries at war, such as the

"Trading in diamonds from war-torn Congo is distasteful, but it is for the
relevant authorities such as the Financial Services Authority or London
Stock Exchange to take any action on company listings," he said.

Oryx's appearance as a listed British company comes at a sensitive time as
international attention focuses on the role of diamonds in financing wars in
Africa. The British government has taken a lead in efforts to stop the
trade, calling last week for an international embargo on diamonds from
Sierra Leone.

Oryx denies it will be producing "conflict diamonds" from the Congo
concession near Mbuji Mayi, an area which has been controlled by Zimbabwean
troops for some time. Oryx has profit-sharing arrangements with Osleg, a
firm linked to the Zimbabwean government, and Comiex, which has ties to the
Congo government. Oryx and Osleg will each take 40% of gem mining profits
while Comiex is to get 20%. Zimbabwean troops have been in Congo since 1998,
supporting the government of President Laurent Kabila which is fighting
rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.

From News24 (SA), 11 June 2000

'Land grab list must be revised'

Harare - There was more controversy in Zimbabwe on Sunday over moves to
confiscate white-owned farms when a cabinet minister announced that the list
of 804 farms meant for seizure would have to be "revised."

Agriculture minister Joyce Mujuru was quoted on state radio as saying there
were "many errors" on the list of properties promulgated on June 2. The
Commercial Farmers' Union also warned listed farmers this weekend not to
exercise their right to lodge official objections to the proposed seizure of
their farms before elections due on June 24- 25. "This could prove to be
highly inflammatory," a circular to farmers warned. It quoted remarks by
President Robert Mugabe at a campaign rally last week that if farmers "try
and resist war veterans, they (veterans) will kill them."

Self-styled guerilla war veterans have led the often violent invasion of
white farms, and now occupy about 960 of them. Five white farmers have been
murdered since mid-April, when Mugabe denounced them as "enemies of the
state." The mass land-grab has become the biggest issue on Mugabe's election
campaign as he promises to hand over nearly two million hectares of white
land to blacks, returning to them what he claims was "stolen" by white
settlers who began arriving here 110 years ago.

But there has been massive condemnation of the farm invasions as a reckless,
racist move to crush support for opposition political parties on the farms
that will destroy the once thriving economy. Last week Mugabe warned that
the government might grab all 11 million ha owned by whites. The news
bulletin did not elaborate on the "errors" mentioned by Mujuru, but
officials of the Commercial Farmers' Union said that nine of the farms on
the list were duplicates. They also say that the list has almost completely
ignored government promises that only farms that are under-utilised, owned
by absentee landlords and foreigners, next door to overcrowded peasant
farming areas or are part of holdings of several farms, would be seized.

The CFU said all of the listed properties were actively farmed and included
some of the most productive properties in the country. Nearly 180 were the
owners' only farm and only five farms were foreign owned. The CFU estimated
that 75 000 farm workers and their families would be driven out of their
jobs and output of Zimbabwe dollars six billion ($160 million) will be lost
in the first year.

The union also said that agriculture ministry officials began on Saturday in
the Chegutu area 100km west of Harare to distribute notices to listed
farmers, formally notifying them of the government's intention to confiscate
their land. Farmers have 30 days in which to object to the proposed
confiscation. Government officials have told the union they are prepared to
negotiate over which farms that are seized, and would be willing to consider
swaps with other farms.

From Pan African News Agency, 11 June 2000

Zimbabwe To Stage Biggest Ever Elections

Rangarirai Shoko

HARARE - The parliamentary elections Zimbabwe will hold this month will be
the biggest the country has ever held in terms of people registered to vote
and candidates vying to be elected, poll officials said at the weekend.

More than five million people, out of the country's estimated population of
12.4 million, have registered to vote while a total of 566 candidates are
standing in the election, the first in which the ruling ZANU-PF party is
being opposed in all 120 constituencies. The labour-backed opposition,
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is the only other party to field
candidates in all areas where in the past the governing party won unopposed.
However, most of the candidates are concentrated in urban areas where
opposition parties enjoy strong support and where they are expected to do
better than ZANU-PF's stronghold in rural areas.

Parliamentary elections in the past were characterised by voter apathy in
which the majority of the electorate, especially in towns, did not even
bother to register. Political analysts said the prospect of ZANU-PF's
defeat, deduced from the government's failure in February to win a
referendum on a new constitution, had galvanised electoral interest in the
24-25 June poll.

From Pan African News Agency, 11 June 2000

Mugabe To Expel Party Members Running As Independents In Poll

Rangarirai Shoko

MARONDERA, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party has resolved to expel
20 members contesting this month's parliamentary polls as independent
candidates after losing in primary elections, party leader President Robert
Mugabe said at the weekend. He said the party, which has been in power since
the southern African country gained independence from Britain in 1980, would
not re-admit the rebels into ZANU-PF even if they won in the elections.

"There is no such thing as an independent ZANU-PF candidate. All those
standing as independents will never be re-admitted into the party whether
they win or lose," Mugabe said at a campaign rally in the eastern farming
town of Marondera. Several ZANU-PF members, especially former MPs who were
voted out in the primary elections, have registered to stand as independent
candidates in the 24-25 June parliamentary elections. Attempts by senior
party officials to persuade the rebels to drop out from the race, and avoid
splitting votes, have failed.

The ruling party faces a tough challenge, especially in urban areas, from a
new labour-backed opposition party called the Movement For Democratic

From The Star (SA), 11 June 2000

Party defectors make Mugabe jittery

Harare - A record number of candidates are contesting parliamentary
elections in Zimbabwe as independents, the majority of them defectors from
the ruling party, according to a list published on Sunday. Of the 566
aspirants for the 120 contested seats, 92 are independent, 35 of them from
President Robert Mugabe's governing Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF). The decision by so many former party
members to stand on their own is worrying the party, which has swept to
overwhelming wins in the four elections held since independence from Britain
in 1980.

Mugabe, at all five of the rallies he addressed last week, went to great
pains to lash out at the defectors. "Anyone who declares himself independent
is lost and has become an enemy of the party," he told one rally on Saturday
at Sadza, south-east of the capital, obviously concerned that the defectors
could split the ruling party vote. He singled out southern Masvingo province
where 11 disgruntled former party members who refused to accept defeat in
party primary elections decided to stand alone. At another rally, Mugabe
warned the defectors' supporters that they too would be considered Zanu-PF's

A new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), born from
the trade union movement, is contesting all 120 electorates - the first such
challenge to Mugabe's party in Zimbabwe's history. An average 15 seats went
unopposed to Zanu-PF candidates in each of the previous parliamentary
elections. "There is a lot of concern because Zanu-PF is used to the
opposition splitting its own vote to the advantage of Zanu-PF, but now its
own vote is going to be split," said political scientist John Makumbe.

Several Zanu-PF members of the outgoing parliament left the party in April,
citing lack of democracy in the primary elections to choose party candidates
for the June 24 and 25 elections. Two MDC members who lost out in the party
selection process are standing as independents. "Even in the opposition,
there isn't unanimity and unity as is sometimes portrayed," Makumbe noted.
The proliferation of independents has been described as democratic, but
Makumbe said: "It may be negative if politics is being seen as a meal
ticket, a necessary thing to ensure they get a pay cheque for the next five

Mugabe's party has expelled all those who decided to stand as independents
and vowed that it will not consider taking them back into the fold even if
they win seats in parliament. A cartoon in the independent Standard depicts
a long wall plastered with independents' posters and suggests that they form
a party of independents. Fifteen parties are taking part in the elections.
Mugabe appoints 30 MPs in addition to those who win the 120 contested seats
in first-past-the-post voting - there are no reruns - which means that
Zanu-PF need win only 46 seats to retain its majority, but the combined
opposition needs to win 76. In the outgoing parliament, Zanu-PF held 147 of
the 150 seats.

From The Star (SA), 11 June 2000

I'm here to stay, says Mugabe

Marondera - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, now 76, declared on Saturday
he would retire from office only after his ruling party voted him out.
Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence from Britain 20 years
ago, and whose current term expires in 2002, told an election rally in this
town south-east of Harare that some members of the last parliament who have
been calling for him to step down, were wasting their time. "Some people in
(the former) parliament want Mugabe to be removed from power," he said. "I
will only give up power if the congress so decides."

"If the congress votes us out, well, we will go," he said. The ruling
Zanu-PF party holds its congress every five years. The last one took place
in December 1999. Mugabe also announced that his government would seriously
consider establishing a senate in the next parliament, due to be elected on
June 24-25. The current constitution does not provide for a bicameral

From BBC News, 9 June 2000

US welcomes Cuban doctors from Zimbabwe

The United States authorities say they are prepared to grant refugee status
to two Cuban doctors who defected while working in Zimbabwe. The doctors -
Leonel Cordova Rodriguez and Noris Pena Martinez - were sent to Zimbabwe in
February as part of a Cuban aid programme to provide medical care in rural

They left their work in May and sought to emigrate to Canada. The Zimbabwean
authorities detained them and sought to extradite them to Cuba but were
stopped by the United Nations refugee agency, which recognised the pair as

US officials say they expect the pair to move to the US once they have
completed formalities with the immigration service.


Keep up the momentum!


MDC Support Centre
8th Floor, Gold Bridge

Guqula Izenzo/Maitiro Chinja

"Freedom has always been an expensive thing. History is fit testimony to the
fact that freedom is rarely gained without sacrifice and self-denial."
(Martin Luther King)

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The horses are in the gates
Monday 12 June, 2000

Who will be first past the post?

The horses are in the gates and now set off on a campaign to see who will be
first past the post. Both MDC and Zanu PF put up 120 candidates with
independents in most places - about half of the latter are Zanu PF
dissidents and half are representatives of the other 34 opposition parties.
MDC had prepared itself well for - and just as well as all sorts of angles
were tried.

Dave Coltart was declared not a citizen, wrong guy to try that on.

Sekai Holland had problems and various demands were made which had to be
countered by lawyers attending all the courts on MDC's behalf. Election
monitors were in evidence and certainly helped.

After going through Bulawayo and Beitbridge we attended the funeral of one
of our active supporters in the Bikita area. He was killed in a family
dispute although originally it had been treated as being a political

We saw the suspect being questioned by the police and were able to speak to
them. Then we went on to take part in the traditional ceremonies that are
followed under such circumstances.

About 8 local and provincial MDC party officials accompanied us. It was very
interesting and we were able to make contact with the families involved. I
think they appreciated our effort to see them very much.

What was equally interesting was an opportunity to travel through what had
been Zanu PF strongholds in the rural areas - we were some 100 kms off the
main road and 400 kms from Harare in one of the most densely populated areas
of the country.

Part of the ceremony was in the peasant farming area and part in the small
scale-farming district.

It was evident everywhere we went that MDC has made deep inroads into the
rural population - we were greeted with the MDC sign - an open hand, palm
forward - everywhere and saw a woman wearing an MDC T shirt - something that
has not been possible in the Mashonaland provinces for some two months now.

The village head in the communal area was an MDC ward chairman and our
candidate is a local small-scale commercial farmer who is related to the
chief. The 8 men who accompanied us were an outstanding group - teachers,
one bank manager and farmers.

One was standing against a well known Minister - Edison Zvobgo, one of the
intellectuals in the Zanu PF and he caused much mirth describing how Zvobgo
reacted when he learned that he was not going to run unopposed - as he had

We ran into the Zanu PF candidate and the encounter was cordial and
friendly - but they very much wanted to know what we were doing lower down
in the district.

We heard of elements of the army being deployed and looking for evidence of
the MDC in the villages. However it was interesting talking to the 4
policemen who were investigating the murder - they were clearly in support
of the MDC and our people showed no reticence in dealing with them.

Of particular note was the number of older people who were MDC supporters.

If this is the situation in the rural areas, then I am more convinced than
ever that the MDC is going to win.

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   HARARE, June 11 (AFP) - President Robert Mugabe and his ruling 
party are whipping up hatred against white Zimbabweans in the run-up
to parliamentary elections, blaming them for economic chaos here.
   One incident has already been reported of a mob chanting "we 
want our land" beating an unarmed white man senseless in Bulawayo,
the country's second city, with one of the attackers calling a
friend on a cellphone and boasting "We've killed a mukiwa (white)."
   The Commercial Farmers Union originally reported the 
unidentified man had been killed in the May 31 attack, but AFP was
unable to verify his death with police, hospitals or mortuaries, and
a CFU official later said that the man "appeared dead" for the 20
minutes he was observed lying on the ground.
   Mugabe warned white farmers Thursday that if they tried to 
resist squatters led by independence war veterans who are occupying
some 1,500 of their farms "they will die."
   The president regularly tells campaign rallies that the 70,000 
white Zimbabweans hold the levers of economic power, meaning that
the 12.5 million black Zimbabweans are not really free.
   On the other hand, he told a rally Saturday: "We fought each 
other in the past, but today we can't avoid each other; we have a
common destiny, one identity as Zimabweans."
   Mugabe calls the occupation of the farms a continuation of the 
bloody war against white settlers that led to independence from
Britain in 1980.
   He also describes opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as a 
"puppet of the whites" -- a popular placard at his rallies.
   Tsvangirai is head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), 
a new party born from the trade union movement which is putting up a
strong challenge in the June 24-25 elections to Mugabe's Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
   A ZANU-PF pamphlet handed out at rallies, and written in both 
English and Shona, talks of a "racist minority" and "the racists who
control the economy."
   "The same racial minority has been increasing prices well above 
market value in order to make unjustified profits and cause
suffering among the majority of the people," it declares, adding
that "what is worse is that the same minority is now trying to make
political gains out of their economic mischief."
   The latest issue of the government-owned Sunday Mail carried a 
cartoon showing a white farmer with his foot on a black's back --
the aspiration of "others."
   It also carried an editorial saying that whites see the MDC as 
"a convenient front in their bid to recolonise us."
   "In their private circles blacks of any description regardless 
of their political affiliation are simply 'kaffirs,'" it declared.
   An article in the same paper talks of "racist white Zimbabweans" 
and asks: Do you really know how beastly most Africanised Caucasians
are?" before going on to tell a long story about a white South
African who murdered two of his black workers.
   The president and his supporters also direct a steady stream of 
vitriol at Britain, with Mugabe describing the government of Prime
Minister Tony Blair as "children who don't understand history."
   Britain, guilty of "racial bigotry," according to the Sunday 
Mail, is conniving under the ruling party scenario with white
Zimbabweans and the MDC to topple Mugabe and ZANU-PF.
   The president and his supporters also regularly accuse white 
farmers of coercing their black employees into supporting the MDC.
   University of Zimbabwe political scientist, John Makumbe told 
AFP on Friday that Mugabe was "pursuing his strategy of using the
land issue and violence and racism as the only cards for survival in
this election."
   A poll of 1,900 voters conducted in early March by Probe Market 
Research, which is linked to Gallup International, showed that 63
percent wanted a change of government and that 65 percent wanted
Mugabe to step down.
   It showed that even among communal farmers, ZANU-PF's 
traditional power base, 57 percent wanted a change of government.
   No poll has been published since then, but the MDC is contesting 
all 120 electorates -- the first such challenge in Zimbabwe's

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   HARARE, June 11 (AFP) - A record number of candidates are 
contesting parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe as independents, the
majority of them defectors from the ruling party, according to a
list published Sunday.
   Of the 566 aspirants for the 120 contested seats, 92 are 
independent, 35 of them from President Robert Mugabe's governing
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
   The decision by so many former party members to stand on their 
own is worrying the party, which has swept to overwhelming wins in
the four elections held since independence from Britain in 1980.
   Mugabe, at all five of the rallies he addressed last week, went 
to great pains to lash out at the defectors.
   "Anyone who declares himself independent is lost and has become 
an enemy of the party," he told one rally Saturday at Sadza,
southeast of the capital, obviously concerned that the defectors
could split the ruling party vote.
   He singled out southern Masvingo province where 11 disgruntled 
former party members who refused to accept defeat in party primary
elections decided to stand alone.
   At another rally, Mugabe warned the defectors' supporters that 
they too would be considered ZANU-PF's enemies.
   A new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change 
(MDC), born from the trade union movement, is contesting all 120
electorates -- the first such challenge to Mugabe's party in
Zimbabwe's history.
    An average 15 seats went unopposed to ZANU-PF candidates in 
each of the previous parliamentary elections.
   "There is a lot of concern because ZANU-PF is used to the 
opposition splitting its own vote to the advantage of ZANU-PF, but
now its own vote is going to be split," said political scientist
John Makumbe in an interview with AFP on Sunday.
   Several ZANU-PF members of the outgoing parliament left the 
party in April, citing lack of democracy in the primary elections to
choose party candidates for the June 24 and 25 elections.
   Two MDC members who lost out in the party selection process are 
standing as independents.
   "Even in the opposition, there isn't unanimity and unity as is 
sometimes portrayed," Makumbe noted.
   The proliferation of independents has been described as 
democratic, but Makumbe said: "It may be negative if politics is
being seen as a meal ticket, a necessary thing to ensure they get a
pay cheque for the next five years."
   Mugabe's party has expelled all those who decided to stand as 
independents and vowed that it will not consider taking them back
into the fold even if they win seats in parliament.
   A cartoon in the independent Standard depicts a long wall 
plastered with independents' posters and suggests that they form a
party of independents.
   Fifteen parties are taking part in the elections. 
   Mugabe appoints 30 MPs in addition to those who win the 120 
contested seats in first-past-the-post voting -- there are no reruns
-- which means that ZANU-PF need win only 46 seats to retain its
majority, but the combined opposition needs to win 76.
   In the outgoing parliament, ZANU-PF held 147 of the 150 seats.

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   HARARE, June 11 (AFP) - Controversial South African politician 
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela declared in Harare Sunday that she was
following the political situation in Zimbabwe with sympathy.
   "We hope they will have a fair and fruitful election," added the 
ex-wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela.
   South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), which 
Madikizela-Mandela represents as a member of the Cape Town
parliament, expressed support at the end of last month for
Zimbabwe's embattled government, and attacked Britain's attitude to
the land reform crisis here.
   South African President Thabo Mbeki has adopted a quiet 
diplomatic approach to the occupation of some 1,500 white-owned
farms and political violence which has resulted in some 29 deaths
since February.
   He persuaded Saudi Arabia and the Nordic states to put up 14 
million dollars last month to buy farms in Zimbabwe for
redistribution to blacks.
   "I wish everybody well," said Madikizela-Mandela at the 
Chinese-built national sports stadium, where she watched a women's
football match between Zimbabwe and Namibia for the African Cup of
Nations. The Zimbabwe team beat the Namibians 11-0.
   "We are very sympathetic to what is happening here," 
Madikizela-Mandela told reporters.
   "This is my other home. We (other members of the ANC) were 
hidden here during the difficult days of the struggle (for majority
rule in South Africa)," she said, paying tribute to the role
Zimbabwe played in hosting South Africa freedom fighters during the
apartheid era.
   "We will always be very close to this country. We shared the 
difficulties of yesterday, the problems created by colonialism," she
   "We pray for a peaceful election. We hope that we are going to 
see some improvement in African elections. Our continent has been
beset by unnecessary violence when we do have elections."
   Reports of political violence in Zimbabwe have diminished over 
the past week.
   Zimbabwe Gender Minister Oppah Muchinguri told a news conference 
that Madikizela-Mandela, who was last in Zimbabwe six years ago, was
not here to help campaign for the elections, but to support sport.
   "She is not here to campaign for elections, but she came to 
support the first (women's soccer) team we have developed in
Zimbabwe and (which) is playing at the right time when all of us are
fighting one another but at least we have that has brought us
together and we are both supporting it," said Muchinguri.
   Madikizela-Mandela declared she was "ecstatic" at being invited 
to watch the match, which drew a sparse crowd of barely 5,000
   "Sport is dear to us, extremely dear to South Africans. It means 
sharing with our sisters our cultural diversity," she said.
   Madikizela-Mandela, wearing an embroidered turquoise robe and a 
white coat, was met by Muchinguri, Sports Minister Gabriel Machinga,
and a nephew of President Robert Mugabe, Leo Mugabe, who is
president of the Zimbabwe Football Association.
   She is president of the ANC's Women's League. 
   Her profile has dropped since the anti-apartheid struggle years, 
but she remains popular and has always had a good relationship with
young activists.
   Her popularity persists despite her conviction in 1991 of 
kidnapping teenage activist Stompie Seipei and allegations during
Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings that she was involved
in assault and murder.
   She was sacked as a deputy cabinet minister in 1995 and divorced 
by Mandela a year later.
   She took the opportunity in Harare to discuss gender relations, 
saying men had destroyed the world, but women intended to rebuild
   "The globe ... has been distorted by men. Men have killed 
nations. They manufacture weapons of war, they manufacture atomic
bombs, AK-47s. We as women mean reconstructing the world," she told
a news conference.
   "We intend teaching the men one thing or two, we are going to 
take over as women and show men how it is to live peacefully with
one another as nations. We see what is happening in Africa today.
Our continent is riddled with wars."

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Subject: ZimNews - 11 June 2000 12 DAYS TO GO

From The Independent (UK), 11 June 2000

Mugabe win set to be rejected by UK

By Colin Brown and James Roberts

Britain is preparing to reject a victory for President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in Zimbabwe's elections because of the state-sponsored intimidation of the opposition. On Friday the United Nations pulled out of the election process after the government in Harare rejected its offer to co-ordinate international observers. Mr Mugabe demoted the UN to participation as an observer group monitoring the parliamentary elections scheduled for 24 and 25 June.

The UN withdrawal has strengthened the belief among British ministers that the elections have been rigged through intimidation to re-elect Mr Mugabe's party. The Government has been convinced by intelligence reports that the elections cannot be free and fair. "We are going to walk away from them," said a ministerial source. Secret intelligence reports to the Foreign Office have revealed that the Zimbabwean President ordered the destruction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change before elections were called.

Ministers received the reports in February. They disclosed that President Mugabe had faced calls for his resignation by at least six speakers at a closed meeting of the Zanu-PF council, and that he had ordered the destruction of the MDC. The killings of white farmers were seen in Britain as racial attacks on the white minority, but ministers are convinced they are part of the concerted campaign of intimidation against MDC supporters.

Mr Mugabe's stormtroopers are mostly ruling party thugs operating in the guise of war veterans. Violence instigated by the so-called veterans has so far claimed more than 29 lives with hundreds of people injured. Workers on white-owned farms have been herded and terrorised into "re-education camps" where they are forced to chant ruling party slogans and warned that any vote for the MDC will be found out and punished. Some people have fled their homes.

Britain was hoping that South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki would act as an intermediary in the crisis, and help Mr Mugabe to see that his policies would only lead to isolation for Zimbabwe. However, South Africa's ruling African National Congress appears to be supporting Zanu-PF. In an interview published in the Mail and Guardian newspaper, Kgalema Motlanthe, the ANC secretary general, said the situation in Zimbabwe had suffered from a "misrepresentation of the facts" by the media.

But Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, said: "The ANC's endorsement of Zanu-PF is counter-productive. We would have hoped they would have done all in their power to back a free and fair election."

From The Sunday Times (UK), 11 June 2000

Lone farmer defies poll death threats

Tom Walker, Chimanimani, Zimbabwe

IF ONE thing could improve Roy Bennett's lot this weekend, it would be the return of a cavalry officer's sword that belonged to his great grandfather. It was last seen being waved by a drunken war veteran driving Bennett's tractor haphazardly through the main street of Chimanimani, crying: "Kill the white pig." There are a few other items on Bennett's wish list, such as a democratic country, but to recover his sword and other stolen property - running to six pages on the local police report – would be a start.

Then, he says, he could get on with his parliamentary campaign as the only white farmer standing for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe's general election. While his colleagues have adopted their union's tactic of appeasement of the ruling Zanu-PF party in the face of a campaign of intimidation, Bennett has, in his own words, "shoved my head way above the parapet".

He is now top on the war veterans' death list, and police have warned him that a second assault on his farm is imminent. Next time, he has been told, his assailants will be armed with Kalashnikovs supplied by the secret police. In most of Zimbabwe the MDC has all but disappeared underground, with Morgan Tsvangirai, its leader, relying on his followers to vote in silence. Bennett, tucked away on his Charleswood coffee estate on the hilly Mozambique border, has other ideas.

"Our workers feel betrayed by the way we've gone quiet," he said. "First they wear the MDC T-shirts with pride and then we tell them to hide them while the farmers run away. Well, I said, 'Enough of this, I'm coming back.' I have a moral obligation to my people." When Bennett says "his people" he means not only his 400 farm workers but the entire population of the Chimanimani region, an area of mist-shrouded upland beauty described by travel agents as Zimbabwe's best-kept secret.

A stocky 43-year-old of ripe vocabulary, Bennett wants the 7,000-acre Charleswood to become an advanced coffee producer, supplying rich roasts through a website and dramatically increasing the local standard of living. Already he supports farming and educational projects in nearby villages. He is so popular that he is known as "pachedu" (together), but to achieve his goals he needs the present government to be removed. Sickened by Zanu-PF infighting and corruption, Bennett went against his instincts and into politics earlier this year. Initially he campaigned under the Zanu-PF banner, hoping he could fight the one-party state from within. When the MDC emerged, he switched after consulting his workers. Not only was he a colonialist farmer in Zanu-PF's eyes; he was now a traitor, too.

Since then, Bennett has happily aired his views on the president and his elite, pulling no punches. "As soon as the MDC is in government, Mugabe should be impeached," he said. Many in the commercial farmers' union believe his bravado borders on the suicidal but, despite a daily deluge of telephone threats, he is cheerfully pulling his farm back into shape after its invasion a month ago. After countless meetings with Zanu-PF and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), or secret police, he and his farm managers were finally allowed back last week.

One reason for his quiet confidence is the presence of MDC bodyguards, who have the farm perimeter staked out. "We'll shoot back if they try anything," said one of their commanders, a giant of a man in size 14 boots who has already helped to repulse an attempt by the war veterans to return with their customary array of clubs and sticks. Yesterday there was renewed tension as a lorry laden with veterans was seen down the road and Bennett's wife, Heather, and son, Charles, both left the farm.

Although it had endangered his repayment of a Ł1m bank loan, Bennett said the invasion had its comical aspects. The estate was plunged into the realms of the absurd as Agrippa Natanga, the local CIO chief, allegedly took over.

"Down with Pachedu," the workers were forced to chant. "Down with his wife, down with his whores. Down with his dogs, down with his cats." Charging into the Bennetts' house, the veterans broke into the bathroom, found Heather's perfumes and began dousing themselves. "I wish I'd had a fly-on-the-wall camera," said Bennett.

The atmosphere had darkened, however, as his gun safe was wrenched open and his high-powered hunting rifles were handed out. An empty gun normally used for shooting baboons in the maize fields was found, and its owner, Robert Mupariwa, was strung up by one leg from a tree. "If they had found the bullets they would have used them," said Mupariwa, still limping from his injuries.

The workers claim that Natanga made the house his base camp. Villagers with MDC connections were summoned at gunpoint and forced to sing the praises of Zanu-PF as they were stretched across a coffee table and thrashed. Natanga, who works from an unmarked building between a sprawling bougainvillea and the quaintly chaotic Chimanimani police station, hotly denied any role in the invasion. Asked about rumours that Bennett would be killed before the election, he said: "But that would be an offence!"

From The Sunday Telegraph, 11 June 2000

Mugabe mob terrorises villagers as observers look the other way

By David Blair in Mataga, Zimbabwe

IN the run-up to parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe this month, hundreds of thugs from the ruling Zanu-PF party have overrun Mberengwa district, 250 miles south-west of Harare.

They ruthlessly hunt down anyone suspected of backing Sekai Holland, the candidate for the Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party. For Girly Chinyerere, the arrival of 24 fanatical supporters of President Robert Mugabe at her village home marked the beginning of an ordeal that she shuddered to recall. They came at dawn, brandishing whips, chains, iron bars and clubs studded with rusty nails, their advance betrayed by loud cries of "Forward with Comrade Mugabe!"

Although the European Union and Commonwealth have committed more than 240 election observers to Zimbabwe, most have yet to leave Harare and are regarded with indifference by besieged opposition supporters in remote areas. Taking advantage of Mberengwa's isolated location, Zanu-PF gangs have rampaged through the area.

According to residents, hundreds of people have been beaten, three are missing and feared dead, nine women have been raped, 30 teachers have been driven from the area, causing the closure of seven schools, and scores of MDC members have fled in terror.

On the advice of MDC officials, we took seven guards, known as "The Karate Boys", to guarantee our safety in an area where roads are lined with the blackened shells of burnt-out huts. Mrs Chinyerere's experience is commonplace. The Zanu-PF mob, knowing that she was an MDC member, hurled stones at her windows while she hid in terror. They grabbed her 18-year-old daughter and shouted: "We will beat her until you come out." Mrs Chinyerere emerged and the gang set upon her. She said: "They beat me everywhere. On my back, my feet, my legs, everywhere." Her assailants demanded the names of MDC supporters and the surrender of her membership card.

Then Mrs Chinyerere, who was wearing only a night-gown, was thrown to the floor and spreadeagled. She said: "Two men held my arms down, one sat on my face and two others pushed my legs apart." Just as she feared she would be gang-raped, the leader of the mob called off his men and left Mrs Chinyerere with a warning that has become the hallmark of Zanu-PF terror gangs: "Vote for comrade Mugabe or you will die."

Her ordeal was far from over. A week later, as she and her husband, Daniel, who is a junior MDC official, sat amid broken glass and smashed furniture, the mob returned and stoned their house before stealing everything of value and breaking what they could not carry. For good measure, they set fire to two huts used as storehouses. When Mr Chinyerere tried to report the crime, 50 men wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts ambushed him en route to the police station. He said: "They just attacked me, beating me everywhere and shouting, 'We will kill you, you will die'." The mob broke his left arm and left him covered with bruises and weals. Mr Chinyerere said: "I am in fear; I know they will try to find me. Now I cannot work and I don't know how we will live."

The couple have six children and the youngest boy, who is eight, witnessed the assault on his mother. After countless incidents of this sort, Mr Mugabe's opponents in Mberengwa believe that even the presence of international observers cannot lift the stifling atmosphere of terror. One MDC activist said: "What are they doing in Harare? What are they observing there? But even if they do come here, it is too late. People are so afraid." At one school visited by Zanu-PF thugs last week , teachers were unwilling to show their faces. A group of eight people, some wearing bandages, queued outside the police station in Mataga village, waiting to report more assaults.

A few miles away, a row of nine charred and blackened huts destroyed by suspected Zanu-PF gangs who have rendered occupants homeless stood as warning of the price of dissent. Yet Sekai Holland is determined to win this seat for the MDC. She said: "I'm going to campaign face to face with Zanu-PF. If it means I'm going to die, then it tells what is happening in Zimbabwe."

Comment from The Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000


ZIMBABWE is at the cross roads. Witness the current mayhem that has led to wanton loss of life, destruction of property and general lawlessness, and you will understand just what is at stake here – our destiny. Yes, our destiny is at stake and it is everyone’s duty to play their role in mapping the way forward for this most wonderful nation. Nobody should be left on the sidelines, and then cry foul when the game is over. What is needed is for everyone to grab this rare chance of speaking out on 24 and 25 June. You either speak out for the status quo, or speak against it, if you are dissatisfied with the way things are going in Zimbabwe, or with how the present government has managed its affairs over the last five years.

It is only proper that every citizen should be given the right to cast his/her vote on election day. With this in mind, we welcome President Mugabe’s Thursday announcement that those whose names are missing from the voters role, or those who had not registered during the voter registration exercise, have up to tomorrow to do so. Of course, we would have wished for more time, but instead of crying foul, everyone should rush to the registration centres to ensure that they are registered. Who knows, if the response is overwhelming, the government, or rather the president, might be forced to extend this "grace period".

Still on elections, it is every party’s duty to assure the electorate that their vote is their secret, to dispel fears that might discourage those who want to speak out from casting their vote. It is also paramount that every eligible voter appreciates the importance of his/her vote. For too long, Zimbabweans have been a passive lot, waiting for a few to decide for them in the belief that their single vote does not count. No way, this is not how democracy works, democracy triumphs when people turn out in large numbers - under an enabling atmosphere and process – to choose who they want to lead them.

Because of the importance of this exercise, it is also the duty of social institutions, especially churches, to encourage people to go and vote. Today is especially important - pastors, reverends, priests, whatever the title, should encourage people to claim their right by ensuring that their names are on the voters roll, before close of business tomorrow. It is both a heavenly and national duty as it espouses freedom of expression, the cornerstone of democracy. We cannot rely on outside pressure, in the form of international observers or condemnation. If we fail this time, it will be none but ourselves to blame. Let no one be fooled that the observers will have a decisive impact. All they do, as the name suggests, is to observe the process, and then write their findings - after the election - in the comfort of their own countries. If the reports are unfavourable, a rap on the knuckles is the most that we should expect!

Once again, every eligible voter is holding the destiny of this land in their hands - yes, that little "X" matters. It would be high treason not to play your part.

From News24, 10 June 2000

Mugabe lashes out UN's 'illegitimate' role

Marondera - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe accused the United Nations Saturday of trying to assume an "illegitimate role" in the run-up to parliamentary elections on June 24-25. The United Nations pulled out of the electoral process on Friday after a dispute with the government over who controls the international observers flocking into this southern African nation from around the world.

The UN team pulled out after the Harare government reneged on an agreement letting the world body co-ordinate international observer groups ahead of the polling, said Fred Eckhard, spokesman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. "We had offered to help with the coordination of international electoral observers," Eckhard said in New York. "The secretary general (Kofi Annan) had understood from his conversations with President Robert Mugabe that this was acceptable to the government of Zimbabwe," he added.

But the government had now asked the UN simply to send observers, rather than co-ordinate the work of monitoring the elections, Eckhard said. "There is far too little time for the United Nations to consider doing so," he added.

Mugabe, addressing some 10 000 enthusiastic supporters in a working-class suburb of Marondela, 75 kilometres southeast of Harare, declared: "That role which the United Nations wanted to assume is an illegitimate role in my view." Speaking in English for the benefit of EU observers present, he declared: "We are not chasing them out of the country," adding that he hoped they would remain to participate "in an observer capacity."

"The legitimacy of the elections will depend on us and our own judgment," the president declared. "We want our elections to be free and fair and they're going to be free and fair from our point of view," he said.

From The Sunday Times (UK), 11 June 2000

Mugabe seizes control of independent poll observers

RW Johnson

PANICKED by the arrival of large numbers of international observers who may declare Zimbabwe's elections on June 24 and 25 not to have been free and fair, the government of President Robert Mugabe has issued a decree asserting control over them. Accreditation and supervision of observers has been snatched from the Electoral Supervisory Commission, an independent body, and placed instead under the ministries of home and foreign affairs. The commission is to seek a court order declaring the decree unconstitutional.

Mugabe has also objected to United Nations co-ordination of the observers, causing the UN to withdraw and leaving the monitoring project in a state of crisis. Most observers are staying inside their Harare hotels as the government dawdles over accreditation procedures to prevent them from venturing into the countryside - from which reports of torture, gang rape and mass beatings by Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF continue to pour in. Already the "war veterans" led by Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi have given a warning that they will not tolerate observers visiting farms.

One European Union observer said: "They seem to have expected that we would send three or four observers, a day or two before the poll. Instead, soon there will be 200 EU observers." The Commonwealth will have a further 45, the Americans 30 and the South Africans 50. More are arriving all the time - from other southern African nations, Canada, Australia, Norway and the Organisation of African Unity - although there cannot be enough to watch all 3,600 polling stations.

Thousands of election monitors have also been trained by opposition parties after their success during the constitutional referendum in February. "We found that only when our monitors slept with the ballot boxes, never letting them out of their sight, were the results honest. Everywhere else the boxes were stuffed," said Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change.

But the government decree will bar political party members from acting as monitors. Opposition groups say this is an attempt to ensure that all polling station officials will be Zanu-PF loyalists. Isaac Maphosa, of the National Constitutional Assembly, believes the government is doing all it can to suborn observers. Since the ruling parties of South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Lesotho have backed Zanu-PF, it is regarded as a foregone conclusion that many of their representatives will declare the election free and fair, whatever happens.

Aready the Zambians have announced that they are sure the elections will be so, and that "Africa does not need international observers to legitimise its elections". The Americans and Europeans seem certain to go the other way, producing a split. Pierre Schori, leader of the EU delegation, has already demanded fair broadcasting coverage for the opposition (it currently gets none) and said that the election could have a "profound effect" on future relations with EU countries.

From Associated Press, 10 June 2000

Observers say they'll carry on despite U.N. withdrawal from Zimbabwe election


HARARE - The withdrawal of U.N. observers from Zimbabwe will not affect the role of other foreign observers who are in the southern African nation to make sure that upcoming parliamentary elections are free and fair, officials said Saturday. The United Nations said Friday that President Robert Mugabe had reneged on an agreement to permit the world body's observers to coordinate all foreign observer missions and that there was not enough time for the United Nations to renegotiate its role there.

"If we are not doing the coordination, there is no point in us being there," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York. However, observers from the Commonwealth of former British territories, the European Union and the 14-nation Southern Africa Development Community will remain in place to monitor the June 24-25 poll. "We are here to see whether conditions exist for a free expression of will by electors," said Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar of Nigeria, chairman of the 44-member Commonwealth group.

Sanna Jonson, a spokeswoman for the 210-member EU observer group, said the U.N. pullout was regrettable but "we will carry on." The main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change, criticized the decision by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to withdraw U.N. observers. "For any electoral process to receive the stamp of moral authority from the international community, it needs recognition from the United Nations," said party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Abubakar said the presence of international observers and about 14,000 domestic election monitors from church, human rights and civic groups at 4,000 polling stations across the country aimed to ensure voters' security and give them confidence. The human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday it doubted that free and fair elections were possible because of a wave of land takeovers spearheaded by veterans of the war that led to independence from white minority rule in 1980. The government has ignored constitutional ownership rights and laws protecting private property during the often-violent occupations of more than 1,400 white-owned farms that began in February.

From Reuters, 10 June 2000

Commonwealth mission expects full Zimbabwe access

By Manoah Esipisu

HARARE - The Commonwealth's observer mission to Zimbabwe began work ahead of June 24-25 elections on Saturday, saying it expected President Robert Mugabe's government to give it full access to all areas during the poll. Delegation leader and former Nigerian military leader Abdulsalami Abubakar told a news conference in Harare that his group was fully independent and committed to bringing confidence to voters unsettled by pre-poll violence.

"(The group) will aim to give confidence to the voters and enable us to obtain a representative sample of the electoral process so that we can make judgement called for by our terms of reference," Abubakar said at a press conference. Abubakar handed Nigeria's government over to civilian rulers last year after 15 years of army rule. "This group is independent of (Commonwealth Secretary General) (Don) McKinnon. It is also independent of the countries from which we have come and any organisations to which we may belong," said Abubakar, who heads a 44-member team. "During Mr McKinnon's visit here (in May), President Mugabe assured him that the observer group would have access to all areas. We have not been informed of any word to the contrary," said Abubakar, accompanied by many delegation members.

Abubakar played down a decision by the United Nations to withdraw a technical team intended to co-ordinate international observer efforts, saying the Commonwealth could go it alone. "The pulling out of the U.N. (technical team) does not affect our work at all. We are an independent body capable of making our own arrangements," he said. The U.N. team pulled out of the election process after the government rejected its offer to co-ordinate international observers.

The Commonwealth will deploy four observers to each of Zimbabwe's 10 electoral provinces to assess the political environment and determine whether the poll is free and fair.

Privately, members of the group were sceptical of a free and fair election against a background of violence that has killed at least 27 people, mainly opposition supporters. "It is a difficult process. But we are coming in against a background of election violence. People have died. People have been injured. Many white farms are occupied. The process would already appear to be tainted," one observer said. "Many of us come with a sceptical mind in terms of whether the election can be free and fair. But we will be talking to government and opposition officials, non-government agencies, rights groups and ordinary voters in the coming days to have a broader view of things," added another observer.

From The Star (SA), 10 June 2000

Zim to outlaw 'three-legged creatures'

Mutare, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe will amend its constitution to outlaw dual citizenship, President Robert Mugabe told a campaign rally in this eastern city on Friday. He complained that many white Zimbabweans also held British or South African citizenship. "We call them three-legged creatures," Mugabe said, speaking in Shona. "We don't want such type of people here."

He noted that some white Zimbabweans with dual citizenship held high positions in the judiciary and government, and urged them to renounce their second nationality. He added however that the government would continue to employ expatriates from other African countries and Europe. Mugabe also expressed support for the often violent occupation of some 1 500 white-owned farms by squatters led by veterans of Zimbabwe's independence war from Britain.

"They're going to keep on fighting until they have the land back," he said. The government has already listed more than 800 white-owned farms - many of them not occupied – which it plans to seize without payment and distribute to landless blacks, and Mugabe has said the list will be extended. He told his 10 000 or so enthusiastic supporters at a stadium here that the government would set up schools, clinics, roads and boreholes on the distributed farms, which he said would be given out before the next planting season starts in October.

Amendment of the constitution will be up to the next parliament, to be elected June 24-25. Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front is facing a strong challenge - for the first time - from the newly formed Movement for Democratic Change, which is contesting all 120 constituencies, but says that many are too dangerous to campaign in because of political violence which has resulted in the deaths of some 29 people, four of them white farmers, since February.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000

New radio station to operate on SW

Farai Mutsaka

AN INDEPENDENT broadcasting station, which will operate on the short wave frequency, is due to be launched in the country this week. Although details of the station were still sketchy at the time of going to press, The Standard has it on high authority that the station will start operating on Wednesday, and will be transmitting on 7.215 Kilohertz on the shortwave band. Transmission will be in the country’s three official languages, Shona, Ndebele and English in half hour slots between 7pm and 9.15pm.

Those believed to be running the station refused to shed any light on developments and even professed ignorance of the existence of the station. It is believed that a number of local business people and some unidentified foreigners are behind the station’s formation but wish to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation.

"The station will start broadcasting on Wednesday, but the people behind it want to remain anonymous because they fear government victimisation. They want to give Zimbabweans an alternative broadcasting station which is not partisan like the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Station (ZBC). This is important as the elections draw nearer," said one source but he also flatly refused to disclose further information regarding the station.

Government has always rejected calls to open up the airwaves to more participants for fear that an independent station could "damage" the reputation of the government. Government has maintained a tight grip on the state-owned ZBC, making sure that dissenting voices are denied air time on the station’s channels. The ruling Zanu PF party has even gone to the extent of calling for the banning of songs deemed "derogatory" to the ruling party. Opposition political parties have also had to battle to receive coverage from ZBC. The new station could thus provide relief for them.

The sources said the station was likely to broadcast from outside the country and, in terms of the Broadcasting Act, government could not stop the station from operating as there are no prohibitions on those who broadcast from outside. However, only the ZBC is allowed to own a transmitter.

Before the emergence of the private media, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, tried to break state monopoly over the media by operating a radio station, Radio Chokwadi, from South Africa. ZBC’s monopoly is being challenged in court by Capital Radio owned by media consultant, Mike Auret Jnr and veteran broadcaster, Gerry Jackson who are seeking the right to own a transmitter and operate an independent station in the country. They cite ZBC’s partisanship as a major reason for the station’s monopoly to be abolished.

From The Mail & Guardian, 10 June 2000


ZIMBABWE will use traditional wooden ballot boxes in parliamentary elections on June 24-25 because they are still credible and readily available, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede said on Saturday. He said the use of transparent ballot boxes used in other countries to guard against fraud would be a burden to taxpayers. "Our wooden ballot box is quite credible and there is nothing wrong with it," he said. "We don't want to spend money unnecessarily ... boxes do not bring change to the election results. "We have abundant forests in the eastern highlands," he said. "We should be proud of our product. We can make the ballot boxes ourselves."

Mudede said he had asked some international election observers here what changes the use of transparent boxes had brought to other elections. "Most of them said nothing changed and that it was a sheer waste of resources," he said. In Zimbabwe, the wooden ballot boxes are opened to check if they are empty before voting starts. This is done in the presence of representatives of various political parties. After voting ends on a particular day, the box is sealed and party representatives guard the boxes overnight. The following day, the boxes are opened in the presence of all parties.

From The Sunday Times (SA), 11 June 2000

Mbeki, Nordic leaders at odds


Copenhagen - SOUTH Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has insisted that the governments of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the US had said they were ready to assist in the redistribution of 118 Zimbabwean farms at a cost of about R90-million. Mbeki made the assertion in an interview with the Sunday Times only hours after the prime ministers of the three Nordic countries stated unequivocally that they would not contribute to land redistribution in Zimbabwe unless violence ended and the coming elections were free and fair.

They were supported by the prime minister of Finland and the foreign minister of Iceland. The European leaders also said Zimbabwe must contribute to the land reform programme before they would express support for it.

However, Mbeki said the R90-million was pledged in 1998 at a conference in Zimbabwe and that the countries had not been asked to contribute to a new fund. "The money is there . . . there is no other fund which was asked for," Mbeki said. "Indeed Norway and the ones we have spoken to - Sweden and Denmark - said 'yes, sure, we are ready to assist'. United States? 'Yes, sure, we are ready to assist'."

However, led by Finland's Paavo Lipponen, the Nordic premiers said they would fund such a programme only if Zimbabwe itself had initiated and contributed to a land reform plan. Sweden's Goran Persson told the Sunday Times: "We have not renewed our development assistance, suspended two years ago, to Zimbabwe. "I will wait for a formal request and I will consider it. Naturally it must come from Zimbabwe."

Lipponen said: "If it is money for land reform [we are talking about] we are a bit reserved. We would not like Zimbabwe to use it for military purposes. The Zimbabweans should first organise land reforms themselves, then we will come in."

The premiers met Mbeki in Skagen, Denmark, for the SA-Nordic Summit. They have agreed to meet regularly with South Africa, which they regard as a powerful player in Southern Africa. Mbeki said South Africa had made advances to the Nordic countries and the US for the R90-million because 118 of the farms earmarked for redistribution in 1998 had come up for sale.

However, because Britain said it needed to have certain conditions fulfilled before it could release the money , Mbeki felt South Africa should mobilise funds to ensure the farms were bought. "So the matter we raised was that of bridging finance to deal with the 118 farms, to get that process of land reform proceeding," Mbeki said. "And then these donors that had agreed in 1998 would come back together and discuss this matter.

"The money is there. It does not require any setting up of any fund. The matter then passed on to the UN secretary-general, who put it to the British prime minister and Zimbabwean president."

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 10 June 2000

Zim teetering on the brink of bankruptcy


Harare - ZIMBABWE is hurtling toward bankruptcy in the violent run-up to parliamentary elections as the government prepares to seize white-owned farms without payment. President Robert Mugabe - blaming "cartels" for Zimbabwe's problems - told a campaign rally on Friday that the government will reintroduce price controls soon. But economists say such controls will only exacerbate the underlying problems and are predicting that the government will have to raise taxes and slash spending after the June 24-25 elections.

Foreign exchange is critically short, donors have cut off aid, and investors are staying away. Ordinary people are hurting, with the price of vegetables up by about 200% recently and inflation running at some 60% and rising by the day. Unemployment is estimated at around 50 to 60% of the workforce, and growing. Farmers are holding back their crops because the government has pegged the Zimbabwean dollar at 38 to the US dollar - the parallel rate is 55 to the dollar - and businesses are laying off staff and cutting back production because of the scarcity of fuel and because they cannot obtain the foreign exchange they need for equipment. Petrol was delivered to service stations Friday after a long drought that saw motorists queuing for hours and many pumps dry, but the Ziana news agency reported Saturday that people were cutting down trees in Harare for firewood because of the shortage of paraffin.

Zimbabwe imports electricity from Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, and the state utility is starting to ration power, saying it does not have access to the foreign exchange it needs, with a resulting shortfall of 10 to 25% of power at peak times. It owes US$20 million to South Africa alone. Loans cost around 60%, but few are approved because banks calculate that most businesses and farmers have little prospect of repaying them. The crunch is hitting all sectors: the National Blood Transfusion Services reported Saturday that they were struggling to pay their debts to foreign suppliers because hospitals were not paying for the blood, and a potato crisp factory has been idle for the past three weeks as a result of the shortage of paraffin and foreign exchange.

Squatters led by veterans of Zimbabwe's war of independence from Britain who have occupied some 1 500 white-owned farms burnt stocks of tobacco - the country's biggest foreign exchange earner, along with gold - and wreaked havoc on some farms. Four white farmers are among around 29 people killed in political violence since February, and the government is planning to seize more than 800 white-owned farms without payment and distribute them to landless blacks. That number will grow, Mugabe is telling his supporters.

The Commercial Farmers Union says the white farmers have lost four billion Zimbabwe dollars (more than US$100 million at the official exchange rate) since the farm occupations started. Business leaders warned Thursday that gold mines would be forced to close if economic hardships continued to place a stranglehold on foreign currency inflows. Doug Verden, a senior executive in the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines said that production of gold was down by a tonne compared to this time last year.

The Standard Chartered Bank is warning that the economy will shrink by at least five percent this year. "Zimbabwe's economic outlook has deteriorated dramatically in the last six weeks," the bank said in its May economic review. The rate of economic decline will accelerate after the elections "unless there is a radical change in policy, not just in regard to land, but also in macroeconomic management," said the British-based bank, which has branches throughout Zimbabwe. "It is now clear that lasting - as distinct from temporary - damage has been inflicted on commercial agriculture," it said. The bank noted that net capital flows into Zimbabwe tumbled from US$319 million in 1997 to just 16 million last year, and that the Reserve Bank was warning that this year there would be a net outflow of more than US$200 million, which "may turn out to be an optimistic assessment."

It said economic indicators showed the budget deficit was currently running at an "unsustainable" rate of some 20 percent of gross domestic product.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000

Zanu PF refuses to disclose accounts

Staff Writer

ZANU PF members last week objected to the reading of their party’s financial report by the party’s finance secretary, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in the presence of the media. The report outlines how Zanu PF used the funds allocated to it by the treasury under the controversial Political Parties (Finance) Act.

The meeting was a special caucus for Zanu PF parliamentary candidates held in Harare. It was addressed by President Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa was about to read the full outline of the report when the minister of state for national security, Sydney Sekeramayi, informed him of the presence of members of the local and international press. "I am informed that there are some journalists present in here and I will present the report in their absence, in the afternoon, since it is an internal matter," said Mnangagwa.

Under the Act, treasury is obliged to release money to a political party which has at least 15 seats in parliament. Zanu PF received $76 million in the last budget and has channelled the money towards its electoral campaign programme. According to sources, controversy surrounds the money, with some Zanu PF candidates alleging that the money was being misappropriated. There are reports that the party had exhausted the money and is now seeking more funds for the campaign.

Speaking at the same meeting, vice-president Simon Muzenda voiced his concerns about the money, saying it should be used for its intended purpose. "Let us use the money for the election and it must not be diverted for any other purpose."

The Standard understands that war veterans were given at least $20 million to finance the current farm invasions and the subsequent reign of terror meant to cow the opposition into submission. Another tranche was disbursed to 10 Zanu PF provinces countrywide through their provincial chairmen.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000

Zimbabwe’s record further tainted

Staff Writer

ZIMBABWE's international image continues to be tainted following the release in Harare and Copenhagen on 6 June of a damning document that details the country’s organised violence and torture in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for 24 and 25 June, The Standard learnt yesterday.

In a hard-hitting document prepared by Amani Trust at the request of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), the human rights organisation says it had identified allegations that doctors in Zimbabwe were involved in, or condoned torture, and that health workers were being targeted by perpetrators of organised violence and torture, while health services to victims of organised violence were being disrupted.

The report, which The Standard accessed yesterday, says the current situation in Zimbabwe indicates that organised violence and torture is taking place on a very large scale, and that this requires independent verification. "There is evidence that mass psychological torture is occurring. Three cases illustrate torture being used to renounce political affiliations. There is evidence of community disruption through intimidation to, and violence against health workers and teachers," says the report.

The report further states that at the time of publishing the report, 29 people had been killed, with most of them being members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). No arrests have been made in connection with the deaths. "The politically motivated violence, which has spiralled in the past two months of 2000, became a matter of immense concern to all the members of the Human Rights NGO Forum. The Forum accordingly started a project to record and act upon cases of political violence and to support and unify the initiatives being pursued by individual members of the forum. The project has already received a large number of survivors’ accounts of torture and beatings, as well as cases of killings.

Together with the numerous reports of political violence in the press, these victims’ accounts provide yet more evidence that Zimbabwe is experiencing gross human rights violations," says the report. The report recommends the establishment of an independent judicial commission to investigate all gross human rights violations. "It is imperative that the Zimbabwe government sign and ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment as soon as possible. A policy of reparation should be developed and implemented. This policy should include restitution, compensation and rehabilitation," states the report.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000

Violence could lead to results being nullified, says judge

Staff Writer

A HIGH Court judge has said that if the electorate is subjected to beatings, torment, diverse brutality and humiliation, designed to subjugate its freedom of choice during an election, a nullification of that poll might be warranted.

Justice Gillespie made the comments on 31 May as he dismissed with costs, an application by the Zanu PF chairman for Manicaland, Shadreck Beta, for the court to nullify the results of the Mutare mayoral election. The election was won by Lawrence Mudehwe.

Beta complained that his supporters had been denied the opportunity to vote because they did not have lodgers’ cards and were thus unable to prove their status. Beta produced affidavits of eight people in support of his claim.

Justice Gillespie said the court had full jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to electoral disputes save where the resolution of the dispute might involve a breach of the privilege of parliament. He said in such instances, the jurisdiction it had was regulated by the Electoral Act which did not oust or replace the court’s existing jurisdiction, but expanded it.

He said it could be concluded that, despite the legislative provision for, and the clear desirability of, a trial of election petitions, in rare circumstances, such a proceeding would not be insisted upon.

"In the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction to regulate its own proceedings to achieve justice, the court will, in a proper case, countenance electoral challenges irregularly brought and determine the issue despite the absence of trial. This will only be tolerated, however, where there is no dispute of fact. Where there is any dispute of fact in an electoral challenge, there is no room for the robust approach to a resolution thereof as applied in ordinary civil litigation. This is because of the consideration, in electoral matters, of free expression of the democratic will of the electorate that is to be held and the determination of elections through litigation to be avoided. Where, however, proof is advanced that in any election the apparent exercise of democracy has been subverted, then the court will come to the assistance of the aggrieved electorate and uphold the democratic process by setting aside the election. But to do so on a robust approach to disputed allegations would be entirely misplaced," said Justice Gillespie.

The judge said to give a topical example gleaned from current events, one would have to be singularly isolated from public affairs to be unaware of current unrest and political discord in the country. "Even an ivory tower would not be above the news. As far as a court of law is concerned, whatever might be the knowledge or belief of those closer to events than our lofty judicial detachment, none of the allegations I am about to repeat can be regarded as anything other than unproven allegations. They serve, nevertheless, to illustrate the point I wish to make. One hears the charges that people are being murdered by reason of their candidacy for, or contributions to, a certain political party. The people are being subjected to beatings and torments for their political adherence; that agents provocateurs induce people to betray their views by simulating the gesture and slogans of those they wish to persecute; that whole communities of people are herded into "re-education" centres and then subjected to diverse brutalities and humiliations designed to subjugate their freedom of choice. If any such misdeeds were established in any particular constituency, then that may be an irregularity or transgression of the electoral ethic and might justify the inference that the result must have been affected. The nullification of the poll at that constituency might be warranted," he said.

Justice Gillespie said no matter what perception or notoriety may attend such allegations, no court would act upon them unless they were proven. "Once proven, whether before polling, in order to restrain such practices, or thereafter, to impeach them, then the court has full power to intervene. Power, of course, in the sense of jurisdiction and moral authority. The court, like the Pope, has no divisions. For the efficacy of its orders the court relies upon the submission of the executive to the rule of law." he said.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000

MMPZ to launch election reporting book

Margaret Chinowaita

THE MEDIA Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) has compiled a booklet to help journalists report the country’s forthcoming parliamentary elections. The booklet, called Election Reporting - A Practical Guide, which is still in its draft form and is expected to be launched next week, was put together on behalf of the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN). Speaking at a half-day seminar organised for journalists to discuss the contents of the draft booklet, the MMPZ coordinator, Andrew Moyse, said the guideline was meant to be a reminder for journalists when covering the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Said Moyse: "The booklet is just a guide for journalists to remind them of what is expected of them when covering elections." The draft booklet outlined ethical standards for journalists in covering parliamentary elections, as well as how they can plan for election coverage. It also contained experiences from Kenya on how the journalists there planned to cover their country’s 1992 elections.

Wangethi Mwangi, the managing editor of Nation newspapers in Kenya wrote: "The pursuit of the truth is a great democratic cause. If a journalist fails there, he or she fails in the struggle for democracy. The struggle for democracy must be a call to every journalist."

When reporting the parliamentary candidate campaigns from different political parties, the booklet said the journalists should dig beneath the surface of what the politicians say. Says the booklet: "Politicians of all parties want to use the media to get their message across to the voters. Sometimes they will say things that are untrue - and very often they will leave out facts that are inconvenient to their case. It is not the duty of the media to debate with candidates as though journalists were politicians themselves. But it is good journalism to look behind the politicians’ words to see what they are likely to do if elected."

The MMPZ also drew a list of guidelines on how publicly-owned media should cover elections. The guidelines were based on international standards on how such institutions should cover elections. MMPZ said media funded by the public have a duty to be balanced and impartial in their election reporting and should not discriminate against any party in granting access to print or air time. The organisation stressed that news, interviews, information or current affairs programmes, or articles must not be biased in favour of or against any party or candidate.

The president of the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ), Abel Mutsakani, said journalists covering elections would find the booklet useful. His colleague, the president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalist (ZUJ), Matthew Takaona, also welcomed the booklet saying it would enable journalists to cover the forthcoming elections more transparently. He, however, said how journalists would cover the elections would depend on their individual institutions’ editorial policies.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000

Poll results could be challenged

Margaret Chinowaita

THE outcome of this month’s historic parliamentary elections could be legally challenged on the basis that the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) was not adequately involved in the electoral process, legal experts told The Standard yesterday.

According to the ESC itself, it had failed to exercise two of its three constitutional functions namely; to supervise the registration of voters and to consider any proposed election legislation that has been referred to it. The third function of the body is to supervise the conduct of general elections and by-elections.

Speaking to The Standard yesterday, a consultant with the ESC, Rejoice Ngwenya, confirmed that the ESC had not taken part in the supervision of the registration of voters and that it had also not been consulted in matters of the modification of the Electoral Act. The modifications, gazetted on Friday, allow only members of a disciplined force and those absent from the country on government service, as well as their spouses, to vote through the postal ballot system. Said Ngwenya: "The ESC was not consulted when the Electoral Act was modified. We were only given the draft document on Tuesday while it was gazetted on Friday. The ESC’s role was undermined."

Ngwenya said by virtue of the constitution, the registrar-general was meant to make routine reports to the ESC, to update it on how his office was conducting the registration of voters in order to enable the supervision of the exercise. On whether it would be possible to monitor the postal ballot system, Ngwenya said: "The postal voters are a little bit tricky to monitor, the question that will be raised by citizens is whether we can trust Mudede with postal voters."

Kevin Laue, a senior Harare attorney and human rights lawyer who also chairs the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said the sidelining of the ESC was unhealthy for the country’s electoral process. "It’s unhealthy, it makes the elections messy. It could give people an argument to challenge the aspects of the election outcome." Professor Welshman Ncube, who is a lawyer by profession, and is also the secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the ESC’s role was not being taken seriously by the government. He said inadequate resources and the fact that the commission was operating without the full compliment of workers, was evidence of that. The ESC is currently operating with three members, instead of the five required by the constitution. Said Ncube: "If someone is able to testify that there were 10 000 people who registered for elections but failed to appear on the voters roll on election day, then one can argue that this was so because the elections were not supervised by the ESC."

Recent press reports revealed that thousands of people who had registered to vote were missing from the voters roll. David Coltart, a lawyer and secretary for legal affairs within the MDC, said given the scale of the abuse of law in the country, the aspect of the ESC was apparently insignificant. Coltart said this was not the first time that the ESC had been unable to do its work. The ESC refused to monitor last year’s local government elections because it was not offered adequate information and resources to carry out its duties.

Comment from The Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000

Letter from America - Africa ready for recolonisation!

Ken Mufuka

BETWEEN 1966 and 1968 I was a student at the University of Rhodesia. The whole world was opening up to us; we surveyed it and we saw that life could be good. I remember sitting on the green lawn of Manfred Hodson Hall, sharing jokes with Stanley Mudenge, A Sakupwanya, J Jokonya and many other bright lights of the emerging Africa. Africa, was at last, thank God, freeing itself from colonial shackles. Even though Ian Smith said white rule would last for a thousand years, we all knew it was a joke. Or was it a joke? That is the subject of this letter.

Colonialism is returning, and most Africans now look back to those days with some fond memories. The lawlessness in Somalia, Sierra Leone and Liberia show that the British (in Sierra Leone at least) are being asked to take over and to remain as "masters and saviours" from the rule of thieves and gangsters who call themselves nationalists.

Sir Siaka Stevens’ first nationalist government - 1968 to 1985 – was a one party state and the majority of Sierra Leoneans remember and "allege" that it was a "government of vultures". Another phrase used is that it was "a government of locusts." A country blessed by washed down diamonds in its riverbeds, its living standard once rose to nearly U$5 000 per capita. But that was before the vultures perfected their methods. Vultures eat everything in sight. They do not "grow" anything (use the word invest), rather than "prune" (use the phrase encourage capital growth) they cut down the branch, sometimes even dig up the root as well if they can get their vulture filthy talons on them. Whether they are vultures or locusts, the result is the same. Nothing viable is left after they have been through. Add to that a one party state, there is no lawful way in which these vultures can be encouraged to relinquish power.

The significance of these vulture governments is the widespread corruption of the organs of state. The military was allowed to use their equipment to mine (unlawfully) and sell diamonds. The police were on the take, and this can be juicy, even the Holy Fathers looked the other way. The whole fabric of society was undermined. The whole elite structures were compromised, including the newspapers. That explains the emergence of vicious bandit warlord Foday Sankoh.

Nelson Mandela of South Africa has said that a government creates its own opposition. A trustful and generous government is likely to have a trusting and loyal opposition. A vulture government is likely to create a thoroughly wicked vulture opposition. Sankoh’s men chopped off the limbs of those who supported government and perhaps in vulture logic they deserved such treatment. Likewise, when Sankoh was captured, he was stripped of his clothes and paraded through Free Town streets. He was saved and taken to a British hideout.

The warlords parcelled Sierra Leone into "no go areas" usually around diamond claims. A form of evil equilibrium was reached. One vulture warlord was as strong as another. That is why the British paratroopers made mince meat of the so-called resistance in a matter of three days. That is why the Sierra Leoneans have begged the British government to keep its troops there as a protection against vulture governments. Teachers and civil servants went without pay even during Siaka Stevens’ locust period. But colonialism has already seeped back into Sierra Leone.

Here are the facts. As we speak, Britain has advisors in all levels of Sierra Leone government. These are called backroom boys. The blacks you see at the front desk don’t make the final decisions. It is the British who make sure that the soldiers are paid on time now run the military. The accountant-general in the country is a Briton on secondment; the revenue officers are British; the customs officials are British. The "vulture chefs" used to walk through customs offices without paying what they owed. Every Sierra Leonean had a friend or relative at the customs office and knew how to wait until his relative was on duty. The same vultures do not play those games with the British now. The inspector-general of the police is British - Keith Biddle, formerly assistant chief constable of Greater Manchester and Kent.

It is not for me to say whether the Sierra Leoneans are better off with the British as "masters and saviours" (their own words). I simply report the news. They are begging the British to stay for good. The events in Zimbabwe have compromised so many groups of people. the military has been tainted, the police has looked aside while crimes were committed, the wrong doers daily give interviews to the BBC and the New York Times, boasting about the number of beatings and burnings they have committed on behalf of the state.

The Holy Fathers, God forbid, say that: "We are really not sure who is committing the evil acts." By and large, they remain silent in the face of naked evil. I thought their job was to condemn wickedness and let the chips fall where they may. What then shall become of us?

When the dust settles down, Zimbabweans will find themselves worse off than any time they can remember. They may look back at colonialism and say, as Nigerians now say: "At least the British were equally unfair with everybody. There was no favouritism and they were efficient about their unfairness."

See you next week.

Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean citizen based in the US. He is a writer of conscience.