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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

FinGaz - Comment

Lift up your hearts

12/20/01 7:23:49 AM (GMT +2)

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, who proudly claims to have several degrees in
violence, at the weekend lived up to his notoriety once more, threatening
his chief political rival Morgan Tsvangirai with a new revolutionary war.

Buoyed by the presence of hand-picked delegates at ZANU PF’s annual
conference in Victoria Falls, Mugabe urged his storm troopers to operate
like an army to crush Tsvangirai and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

"What we are now headed for is a real war, a revolutionary war," the
Zimbabwean leader declared, launching his presidential campaign for the
March ballot.

He compared the run-up to last year’s parliamentary election in which nearly
40 MDC followers were killed by hired ZANU PF thugs to a mere soccer match
and solemnly stated:

"We have to move like a military machine and you must prepare your own unit
to move forward. This is no longer just a contest. This is a revolutionary

Speaking at an occasion where normally a political party would carry out a
thorough audit of its policies and actions and map out strategies for the
future, Mugabe predictably chose to offer Zimbabweans more of the only
strategy that he and ZANU PF know best.

The reason? Other than waging war and violence, Mugabe and his governing
party have nothing to offer a nation which has sadly become inured to
unrelenting social and economic haemorrhaging.

Let this fact be stated: Mugabe and his cronies are themselves only too
aware that they have not only failed Zimbabweans miserably but their own
sworn pledges, making a mockery of what true independence and democracy
stand for.

In fact, they are ashamed of their "record of achievement" over two long but
lost decades. They are now groping for a miracle to rescue them from an
inevitable political demise.

See how the mighty have become so afraid, threatening to launch war against
none other than their own people — people who Mugabe claims support him!

Faced with a real threat of being humiliatingly swept out of power by a tide
of people anger, Mugabe and ZANU PF are once again beating the war drums in
the hope that some among Zimbabweans will fear the Old Man’s well known iron

The fact that time, Zimbabweans and the nation at large have changed
dramatically since the 1970s war of independence surely means nothing to

Well, it is up to you — the Zimbabwean voters — to disabuse Mugabe of this
notion by resoundingly showing him and his tired band of merry-makers during
the ballot that the honeymoon of two decades is finally over.

Reclaim your sovereignty in a crushing way, consigning forever to history a
party that has single-handedly killed Africa’s most prosperous and
resourceful nation other than South Africa.

And be assured of one certain fact: none of these war-mongers — thankfully
they are already rich enough — will have anywhere but the mean streets to go

Forget about their war threats because even they cannot fight the people,
let alone a gathering international storm that surely must herald the
beginning of the end of a bad experiment that predictably went awfully

Every adult Zimbabwean has a national and patriotic duty to vote and vote
wisely, aware of the country’s unprecedented collapse and untold human
suffering that can only worsen if the same old guard is returned to power.

You have to cast your ballot even though you are fully aware that Mugabe and
ZANU PF have done everything and more to prevent a level playing field and
to try to steal the plebiscite.

Let no one cry afterwards that they did not know the consequences of their
deliberate failure to vote.

There you have it Zimbabweans: you are your own liberators or your own
enemies. Lift up your hearts, don’t be afraid, don’t despair and refuse to
be intimidated.

Instead keep the faith by standing tall and showing who really is in charge
because your vote is totally secret and can make that crucial difference.

May God bless Zimbabwe and its people.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From ePolitix

Tories attack Straw on Zimbabwe

 Michael Ancram, the shadow foreign secretary, has accused the government of
"faffing about" over Zimbabwe, saying that "action" such as economic
sanctions and a bar on President Mugabe travelling should be considered.

Ancram's comments came prior to a meeting by the Commonwealth Ministerial
Action Group, which was assembling in London on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Jack Straw admitted that the Commonwealth only had limited
options and influence over Mugabe, who has been continuing his attacks on
white farmers and political opponents in Zimbabwe.

Straw said that international condemnation of Mugabe was swelling and that
even Africa was now joining in the condemnation.

However he felt that "very little is going to make Mr Mugabe change his

The foreign secretary said that economic sanctions were not a satisfactory
solution to the crisis. "People sometimes talk about economic sanctions.
President Mugabe himself has imposed the most severe economic sanctions on
the people of Zimbabwe and the peoples of southern Africa," he said.

"Our job is to try to end the sanctions which Mugabe has imposed and then to
secure a situation where the rule of law is imposed."

Straw did concede that "the Commonwealth has to do something" to halt the
attacks saying it was "on the agenda" for the Commonwealth Ministerial
Action Group.

He said he wanted to see international observers in place from the very
beginning of the electoral process - adding that the European Union was
already addressing the issue and that action could be taken next month.

"The United States is concerned about it, so is the European Union and above
all so too are the other countries in Africa, particularly southern Africa,"
he said.

However, Ancram felt that the foreign secretary's promises were not enough
to prevent the demolition of democracy and "the birth of a rogue state".

He said: "It is not good enough to say we are going to make slow progress
or, as Jack Straw said, we are going to be watching and monitoring."

The move followed calls for international help by Ben Kahula, an official
with the Commercial Farmers Union, who has described watching officials from
Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party splitting open fellow white farmer Duncan
Cook's head with a machete. Kahula said: "They have just had the Zanu PF
people's congress up at Victoria Falls and it is clear that it is going to
be very violent between now and the election itself. Everything is
deteriorating rapidly and we hope that the EU, America, Britain and other
Commonwealth countries will not neglect us." He added that Zimbabwe's plight
had taken a back seat since September 11.

Straw also felt that "Mugabe and the rest of Zanu PF have used the
international situation in Afghanistan to get through measures which they
might not have contemplated had that not been the case."


UK urges action against Zimbabwe
December 20, 2001 Posted: 7:02 AM EST (1202 GMT)

LONDON, England (AP) -- Britain has urged Commonwealth ministers meeting in
London to consider action to stop attacks on white farmers and other
political opponents of President Robert Mugabe in the runup to Zimbabwe's
presidential elections in March.

"It is clear that it is going to be very violent between now and the
election itself," Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the BBC on Thursday.

Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 has been
deepened by the often violent occupation of at least 1,700 white-owned farms
by ruling party militants. The takeovers have disrupted the production of
corn, the staple food, and tobacco, the biggest foreign currency earner.
Inflation currently runs at more than 103 percent.

Scores of people have been killed since militants began occupying
white-owned farms in March 2000. Human rights groups and opposition
officials have accused Mugabe of orchestrating violent occupations to crush
political opposition in rural districts.

Mugabe says he is justifiably redistributing farmland from the white
minority to landless blacks in the former British colony and blames the
violence on opponents in the Movement for Democratic Change, which he says
is backed by Britain.

"What President Mugabe has to understand beyond and above his continuing
ranting about all this being a British plot is that the international
community is now watching and carefully monitoring what is going on," Straw

"The United States is concerned about it, so is the European Union and above
all so to are the other countries in Africa, particularly southern Africa."

Sept. 11 effect
But speaking on the same programme, Michael Ancram, foreign affairs
spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party, said watching and waiting
was not enough while Mugabe passes laws to muzzle free speech and his
supporters openly intimidate opponents.

"We are seeing democracy being demolished. We are seeing, if you like, the
birth of a rogue state," he said.

"We know what is going on. What we need is action," Ancram said, including
economic sanctions and a ban on Mugabe traveling abroad.

Straw conceded that while world attention was focused on tracking down the
terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United
States, Zimbabwe's leaders had been able to "get through measures which they
might not have contemplated had that not been the case."

He said the Commonwealth "has to do something," but acknowledged that the
options available were limited. "What we have available to us today is to
take the first steps to this, to put the issue on the Commonwealth's
agenda," he said.

"People sometimes talk about economic sanctions. President Mugabe himself
has imposed the most severe economic sanctions on the people of Zimbabwe and
the peoples of southern Africa.

Straw said international observers must be in place from the start of the
electoral process. "Typically in Zimbabwe the last few days of an election
are relatively quiet, all the violence and intimidation having already
occurred," he said

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Times

What can the Commonwealth do about Zimbabwe?

Commonwealth Ministers will meet in London today to discuss the
deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor of
The Times, reports

What is today's meeting in London about?

It is a regular meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG),
a group of eight ministers appointed in rotation. Their specific role is to
interpret the 1991 Harare declaration, which sets out commitments made by
all Commonwealth member countries to democratic principles, the rule of law
and fundamental human rights.

They've been concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe for some time, but
haven't taken action because the terms of the declaration are very specific,
and it's difficult to pin a substantial charge on President Mugabe of
Zimbabwe because there hasn't actually been a coup. Now the CMAG feels that
Mr Mugabe is breaking the spirit of the  declaration.

The ministers, especially those from Australia, Britain and Canada, want to
put Zimbabwe on a watch-list of countries which have infringed the
declaration. This list can then be taken to a meeting of heads of state in
March when they can decide whether to take further action, possibly
suspending or even expelling Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.

Why has action not been taken before now?

Zimbabwe has played quite a clever game. It has promised, on more than one
occasion, to end the violence. In October the Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe
signed an agreement at Abuja in Nigeria, pledging to end human rights abuses
and further illegal occupations of white-owned farmland. But Zimbabwe
reneged on the agreement almost immediately. In March, Mr Mugabe agreed to
allow three Commonwealth observers to enter the country, but again he
delayed and prevaricated. Now the effectiveness of his tricks is beginning
to wear off.

What would Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth mean?

It doesn't mean anything concrete, but it is important symbolically. If the
other African Commonwealth countries agree, it will increase Zimbabwe's
isolation in the region and make things increasingly difficult for Mr
Mugabe. Europe and America are also considering introducing sanctions
against the President, his family and the Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. Today's
meeting coincides with a conference in Harare between the ANC, South
Africa's ruling party, and Zanu-PF about the future of the country. About
500 Zimbabweans escape into South Africa across the Limpopo river every day,
and the international community has been amazed by how little President
Mbeki of South Africa has done. South Africa is the region's major power and
pressure from Mr Mbeki could have a big effect.

What about next year's presidential elections in Zimbabwe?

What is most important now is to arrange for a substantial number of neutral
observers to be on the ground in Zimbabwe when the elections take place in
February or March 2002. There have already been some signals that Mr Mugabe
does not intend to handle the campaign fairly, and without proper monitoring
it's likely to get worse. He's already had Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition
leader, arrested twice on charges for having a walkie talkie. Mr Mugabe has
said that this isn't an election, it's war.

Is there any possibility that Mr Mugabe could win another election?

It's possible, although he would have trouble maintaining a grip on power
even if he did. Morgan Tsvangirai is ahead in the polls, but Mr Mugabe does
still command loyalty in some areas of the country. Mr Mugabe is old and in
ill health and people are getting increasingly fed up with him. The economy
is failing and there are shortages of food and water, so people are facing
the prospect of starving. It is important that Mr Mugabe goes because the
longer he stays in power, the more likely it is that he drags the country
down with him.


Commonwealth eyes Zimbabwe's woes
December 20, 2001 Posted: 10:04 AM EST (1504 GMT)

Mugabe's Zimbabwe is under scrutiny by the Commonwealth

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Commonwealth ministers sought on Thursday to
ratchet up pressure on Zimbabwe over its controversial land seizures and
press for observers to monitor next year's presidential elections.

But diplomats said calls for firm action from Australia, Canada and
Britain -- which says the EU may act too -- were likely to be tempered by
caution from African ministers seeking to avoid confrontation with Harare.

Members of the organisation's democracy watchdog, the eight-strong
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), were discussing whether to put
Zimbabwe formally on their agenda -- a first step towards possible
suspension from the Commonwealth.

Australia, which hosts a Commonwealth summit in March, has said CMAG should
put Zimbabwe squarely in its sights and consider suspending it from the
54-nation group, largely made up of former British colonies.

Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, accused President Robert Mugabe
on Thursday of wreaking "astonishing" damage on the economies of southern
Africa by failing to halt the violent occupations of white-owned farms in
his country.

Both Britain and Australia have condemned the breakdown of law and order in
Zimbabwe and what they say is intimidation of the opposition, media and
judiciary by Mugabe's supporters.

Unless there is change in Zimbabwe soon the European Union is likely to take
"very tough measures" next month, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told
BBC radio.

Although CMAG has repeatedly expressed concern at events in Zimbabwe, it has
never officially put the country on its agenda -- confining its actions to
nations where clear constitutional violations such as military coups have
taken place.

Commonwealth officials said CMAG could discuss issuing a warning to Zimbabwe
of possible "smart" sanctions on senior officials if the violence continued.

But Zimbabwe's neighbours in the 14-nation Southern African Development
Community (SADC) repeated their opposition to any sanctions this week,
insisting violence had subsided and Mugabe -- who has ruled his country
since independence from Britain in 1980 -- was committed to free and fair

SADC members say they oppose a confrontational approach to Zimbabwe's most
divisive problem -- redistributing to landless blacks large swathes of
farmland owned by whites.

SADC member Botswana was chairing the London talks and Nigeria, which
brokered an agreement under which Mugabe pledged to end the occupations, was
also attending the meeting.

Diplomats said both countries wanted Mugabe to be given time to implement
the accord, hammered out in Abuja in September.

As the Commonwealth met, a high-level delegation from South Africa's African
National Congress was in Zimbabwe to seek what it called an "amicable
solution to the Zimbabwe problem."

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and his British counterpart say
Mugabe has ridden roughshod over the Abuja deal.

Downer said on Wednesday there was a need for Commonwealth observers to be
sent to Zimbabwe well ahead of the March presidential vote, where Mugabe is
seeking re-election.

"In the lead-up to these elections there has been a lot of substantial
evidence of political harassment. You could only expect that to continue
unless there is some greater scrutiny of what is going on the ground in
Zimbabwe," he said.

Mugabe accused Britain and the United States on Tuesday of trying to
mobilise international sanctions against his government and vowed to press
ahead with the land seizures.


Commonwealth gives Zimbabwe ultimatum

Zimbabwe has been given five weeks to stop the political violence and
invasions of white-owned farms or face possible suspension from the

A meeting in London of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has listed
Zimbabwe - the first step ahead of what could mean much tougher action.

Under pressure from Australia and the United Kingdom, the issue of
Zimbabwe's consistent breach of democratic principles under the Harare
declaration is finally and formally on the table.

The Commonwealth group is waiting for a response from Zimbabwe to request to
allow observers for the upcoming election.

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says if there is not a
substantial change in Zimbabwe significant sanctions are possible.

"[The] Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group does have a number of weapons
available to it and one of them is suspension," he said.

At the same time, Fiji's suspension was lifted after its return to


Commonwealth sanctions on Harare unlikely - Canada

OTTAWA, Dec. 20 — The Commonwealth could decide next month to suspend
Zimbabwe for consistently violating the organization's principles but is
unlikely to impose sanctions on the country's already shattered economy,
Canada said on Thursday.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley, speaking to Reuters after a
Commonwealth ministerial action group, for the first time warned Harare it
faced suspension, said the grouping of 54 mainly former British colonies was
frustrated by the continuing chaos in the troubled southern African country.
       The action group, in effect the Commonwealth's democracy watchdog,
insists President Robert Mugabe stop a wave of violent farm occupations and
halt media and political intimidation. The group meet again on Jan. 30 next
year to decide what to do.
       ''There is a range of actions that can be taken, including
suspension, and those are all going to be on the list of options when we
review the progress in six weeks' time,'' Manley said by phone from London.
       ''I think all of us are going to be looking for progress that we can
report once we get to that the meantime I think we've notched up
the pressure significantly.''
       The ultimatum came three months before Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe
since its independence from Britain 21 years ago, seeks re-election in
       Mugabe, who faces growing international pressure over the violent
takeover of white-owned farms, says the redistribution of farmland to
landless blacks is a vital step toward redressing colonial-era injustices.
       Manley said there would be little point in imposing economic
sanctions on Zimbabwe, given the damage already done to the economy by the
seizures of farmland.
       ''As far as sanctions are concerned, what better sanctions could the
international community impose than what he's done to himself? His economy
is collapsing, what else could we do? I'm serious,'' he said.
       ''You've got a grave situation, which is not only destroying the
economy of Zimbabwe but is hurting the economies of countries in the region,
in southern Africa.''
       The Commonwealth ministers expressed deep concern at ''continued
violence, occupation of property, actions against the freedom and
independence of the media and political intimidation.''
       Manley said the ministers had decided to act after it became clear
that little had been done to implement September's Abuja accord, under which
Mugabe pledged to end the occupations of farmland.
       ''There was hope then that perhaps that process would lead to
something, and in fact the agreement was an encouragement. But I don't think
anyone feels there is anything that's improved,'' he said.
       The United States and the European Union this month edged closer to
imposing sanctions against Mugabe's government unless he implemented a
September pledge to halt violence and hold free and fair elections.
       Yet Manley said he had not totally given up hope of seeing some
       ''I think where there's life, there's hope. And it's not just the
Commonwealth -- the European Union and the United States have also made very
clear the level of their concern, and hopefully sanity may prevail,'' he

Commonwealth Warns Zimbabwe Could Face Suspension


By Dominic Evans

LONDON (Reuters) - Commonwealth ministers warned Zimbabwe on Thursday it faced suspension from the 54-nation group next month unless it stopped a wave of violent farm occupations and halted media and political intimidation.

The eight-strong Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, the group's democracy watchdog, ended two years of hand-wringing by formally putting Zimbabwe on their agenda for action -- the first step to possible suspension.

"The situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a serious and persistent violation of the Commonwealth fundamental political values and the rule of law," CMAG said in a statement.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it would be "open to CMAG to suspend Zimbabwe from councils of the Commonwealth," which is made up mainly of former British colonies, at its next meeting on January 30.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley also said suspension would be "on the table."

President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler since independence from Britain 21 years ago, seeks re-election in March.

"It is an illegal and immoral statement which just goes to show the world how desperate Britain has become," Zimbabwe's Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo said in Harare.

"Britain wants to abuse Commonwealth principles and proceedings to defend Britain's colonial interests in Zimbabwe and defend white minority interests against the democratic interests of Zimbabweans," Moyo told Reuters.

Mugabe, who faces growing international pressure over the violent takeover of white-owned farms, says the redistribution of farmland to landless blacks is a vital step toward redressing colonial-era injustices.

But the United States and the European Union both edged closer this month to imposing sanctions against his government unless he implements a September pledge to halt violence and hold free and fair elections.


Commonwealth ministers expressed deep concern at "continued violence, occupation of property, actions against the freedom and independence of the media and political intimidation."

They also called on Mugabe to allow international monitors into the country to oversee preparations for the vote.

Although CMAG has repeatedly expressed concern at events in Zimbabwe, it has never officially put the country in its sights -- confining action to nations where clear constitutional violations such as military coups have taken place.

Two years ago it suspended Pakistan from the Commonwealth's main forums after President Pervez Musharraf took power in a bloodless coup. Fiji, suspended last June after a coup by self-styled Fijian nationalists, was readmitted on Thursday.

The decision to step up pressure on Zimbabwe appeared to be a victory for Australia, Britain and Canada who have pressed for tougher steps against Mugabe's government, in the face of greater caution from African nations.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, whose country will host a Commonwealth summit in March that could be overshadowed by the crisis in Zimbabwe, said he was pleased.

"This is a critical moment and it is important the Commonwealth is engaged," he said.

Botswana's Foreign Minister Mompati Merafhe said the Commonwealth was concerned over a range of issues in Zimbabwe.

"The rule of law, perceived intimidation of the press and opposition -- these are areas which people are concerned about and these are areas where progress will be expected," he said.


Commonwealth takes first step against Zimbabwe

LONDON, Dec. 20 — Commonwealth ministers cranked up the pressure on Zimbabwe
on Thursday by putting the country formally on its agenda -- the first step
to possible suspension from the organisation.
''CMAG decided to include Zimbabwe on its formal agenda and review the
situation in that country at its next meeting on January 30,'' members of
the organisation's democracy watchdog, the eight-strong Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), said in a statement.
       Although CMAG has repeatedly expressed concern at events in Zimbabwe,
it has never officially put the country on its agenda -- confining its
actions to nations where clear constitutional violations such as military
coups have taken place.
       ''The situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a serious and persistent
violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values and the rule of
law,'' the statement said. It highlighted ''continued violence, occupation
of property, action against the freedom and independence of the media and
political intimidation.''

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Civic groups threaten mass action

12/20/01 7:16:52 AM (GMT +2)

THE Crisis Coordinating Committee of Zimbabwe (CCCZ) this week resolved to
engage in mass action to force the government to let an independent
electoral commission to conduct next year’s presidential ballot.

At a meeting in Harare, the CCCZ which groups Zimbabwe’s human rights,
opposition parties and civic and human rights bodies, tasked its mass action
sub-committee to immediately prepare a strategy and programme for the
rolling action.

The powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the National Constitutional
Assembly, the Zimbabwe National Students Union and the Zimbabwe Liberators
Platform sit on CCCZ’s mass action sub-committee, which must come up with an
action plan by January 7.

"We have set up eight sub-committees to implement our programme of action,
which includes concerted publicity campaigns and civic education, peace
initiatives and mass action," CCCZ chairman Brian Raftopoulos told the
Financial Gazette.

Raftopoulos said the CCCZ would also intensify lobbying the Southern Africa
Development Community and the rest of the international community to
pressure President Robert Mugabe to stage a peaceful, free and fair
presidential election.

Mugabe has refused to allow an independent electoral commission to stage and
supervise the March ballot, preferring to have his handpicked and
discredited Electoral Supervisory Commission to do the job.

Mugabe is also enacting several laws which will bar millions of Zimbabweans
living abroad from voting while seriously curtailing the most fundamental of
freedoms of political parties, civic bodies and ordinary citizens within the

He also wants his own officials to monitor the poll, rejecting pleas from
both Zimbabweans and the international community to have independent
monitors and observers.

Analysts say Mugabe fears that a free and fair ballot will be easily won by
his chief political foe Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change.

— Staff Reporter

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabweans team up to fight new Citizenship Act

Staff Reporter
12/20/01 7:12:53 AM (GMT +2)

CONCERNED Zimbabweans will tonight launch a massive campaign against the
amended Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act which deprives thousands of their right
to citizenship if they fail to convince local authorities that they do not
hold dual citizenships.

An organisation called the Zimbabwe Civil Rights Organisation (ZIMCRO) will
be launched at Harare’s Book Café this evening to spearhead an internal and
international campaign against amendments to the Citizenship of Zimbabwe

Critics say the controversial amendments are intended to bar whites and farm
workers — many of whom are of foreign parentage and perceived to be against
the ruling ZANU PF — from voting in next year’s crucial presidential

The government in July legislated for the renunciation of all foreign
citizenships by January 7 but the new law has been heavily criticised for
going further to insist that people with a claim to foreign citizenship,
even if they do not know about it, have to renounce that citizenship to keep
their Zimbabwean status.

The move has resulted in thousands of Zimbabweans with foreign-sounding
surnames or of foreign parentage being denied registration and their
Zimbabwean passports and national identities being confiscated by the state
until they prove that they have renounced any claims to foreign citizenship.

Mike Mwale, the convener of this evening’s ZIMCRO meeting, said the new law
affected thousands of Zimbabweans of Malawian, Mozambican and Zambian
origins, among others, even when they were born and bred in this country.

Mwale said he was recently touched by the plight of an elderly widow who was
forced to travel from Kwekwe to the Registrar-General’s Office in Harare to
renounce her Zambian citizenship, even though she acquired Zimbabwean papers
in 1980.

"The plight of this poor woman made me realise that the harassment had gone
too far and that the Zimbabwean government was pursuing this indirect ethnic
cleansing policy on political grounds and in violation of both the United
Nations and African charters for human rights," Mwale told the Financial

He said both black and white Zimbabweans had welcomed the formation of
ZIMCRO, whose launch will lead the campaign against the new repressive

Last month Hight Court judge Justice Ndou reserved judgment in the case of
Leslie Levente Letho, a Harare computer technician who had applied to the
High Court for permission to challenge the amended Citizenship of Zimbabwe

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Government Gives in on Food Aid

Financial Gazette (Harare)

December 20, 2001
Posted to the web December 20, 2001

THE Zimbabwe government has finally bowed to pressure from international
donors to allow the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) to mobilise
and distribute urgent food aid worth US$60 million to more than 500 000
starving Zimbabweans.

Donors had stood on the sidelines while Zimbabwe descended deeper into a
food crisis because the government would not agree to requests that food
relief be handed out through non-political organisations such as churches.

The government said international and local non-governmental agencies wanted
to use the food aid to campaign for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai but
observers say it is the government itself which has always used such aid to
buy the support of rural people and once again wanted to cash in on the
international food aid.

Tsvangirai has emerged as the deadliest threat to President Robert Mugabe's
campaign to be re-elected as head of state in a crucial ballot due in March.
Most independent analysts and opinion polls suggest that Tsvangirai will
easily win the ballot if it is free and fair, ending Mugabe's iron-fisted
rule of 21 years.

Judith Lewis, WFP's regional director for eastern and southern Africa, this
week said the organisation will "start delivering food to thousands of
hungry people (in rural Zimbabwe) as fast as possible".

The UN agency will be allowed to choose reputable relief bodies it wishes to
help it distribute the food aid as long as such agencies are registered
under the Private Voluntary Act, according to an agreement signed between
the government and the organisation.

The government, which all along had strenously denied Zimbabwe faced severe
food shortages, secretly signed the agreement with the WFP only last week,
requesting it to help feed 558 000 starving Zimbabwean villagers.

Labour and Social Welfare Minister July Moyo, whose ministry handles state
emergency aid and food relief operations, could not be reached for comment
on the matter this week.

The move to seek emergency help from the WFP, spearheaded by Finance
Minister Simba Makoni, became known as it also emerged this week that there
are only 96 000 tonnes of the staple maize left in the state's Grain
Marketing Board (GMB).

A combination of bureaucratic bungling and lack of money stalled efforts by
the government to import 150 000 tonnes of the staple maize which it had
promised to buy in September.

The food shortages, affecting most of Zimbabwe's western and southern
provinces, have been triggered mainly by the wholesale seizure of commercial
farms by Mugabe's militant supporters since last year and partly by bad

A team from the WFP is already in Zimbabwe to monitor the food crisis and to
get the food relief operation underway.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe parliament adjourns without passing bills

HARARE, Dec. 20 — Zimbabwe's parliament adjourned for the year on Thursday
without passing two bills seen as a bid by President Robert Mugabe's
government to curb media freedom and block independent monitoring of
elections next year.

       ''We have adjourned because the parliamentary legal committee needed
more time to consider the access to information bill and the general laws
amendment bill,'' Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo said on
       Moyo said on Wednesday that the ruling ZANU-PF party was keen to pass
a new media bill which threatened to jail journalists who violate the latest
media regulations, and bar foreign journalists from working in Zimbabwe.
       The government has also proposed amendments that would ban
independent election monitors and forbid private organisations from
conducting voter education. The changes, included in a general laws
amendment bill, would also deny voting rights to millions of Zimbabweans
       Paul Themba Nyathi, a member of parliament for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the proposed laws had been
sharply criticised during debate this week.
       ''There was an outcry. We told them (government) to go and reconsider
the bills,'' Nyathi told Reuters.
       Mugabe, 77 years old and in power since 1980, faces a stiff challenge
at the polls from MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose party has grown in
popularity due to a political and economic crisis widely blamed on
government mismanagement.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 14:16 GMT
Mugabe seeks media monopoly
Senior editors of the independent Zimbabwe newspaper the Daily News inspect bomb damage
Daily News: Bombed after minister vowed to silence it
By BBC Monitoring's Suzanne Lidster

In the last year, Zimbabwe's embattled independent press has survived intimidation, arrests and even arson.

But human rights groups and journalists warn that the Zimbabwean Government plans to silence the independent media once and for all.

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
Jonathan Moyo is the intellect behind the new media law

The government has introduced new legislation to ban critical reporting of President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party in the run-up to presidential elections next March.

The move follows expulsions of foreign news organizations and government accusations that independent and foreign journalists are in league with opposition groups.

In November, an anonymous government spokesman, quoted in the state-owned Herald newspaper, accused journalists who reported on an attack by ruling party militants against whites and opposition officials of aiding the "terrorist" opposition.

Propaganda blitz

As part of its re-election strategy, Zanu-PF is pushing for a 24-hour news radio station, a TV station, eight provincial newspapers and a news agency under a new government media house called New Ziana.

Earlier this year, the government passed legislation effectively banning independent radio stations.

Zimbabwe Standard editor, Mark Chavunduka
Editor Mark Chavunduka was tortured by the army in 1999

Rural areas have been particularly affected, as radio is the main medium for receiving news there.

To fill this vacuum, a new radio station started broadcasting to Zimbabwe via short-wave and the Internet on 19 December.

Broadcasting each evening in English, SW Radio Africa, says it is independent of any political parties and will provide unbiased news and current affairs programmes.

Until now, the only local airtime available to Mugabe's election rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is on Voice of the People, which broadcasts on short-wave from the island of Madagascar.

But most people in rural areas still rely on FM and medium-wave radios and television, where the state retains a monopoly.

Punitive measures

Recently approved regulations will place further restrictions on independent journalists.

The Public Order and Security Bill, which bans political rallies and bars newspapers from publishing articles criticizing the president, has been written into law.

Another law banning foreign journalists from working in Zimbabwe is expected to be passed soon.

Daily News and Herald billboards
The Daily News outsells The Herald

The proposed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill disqualifies foreigners from working as journalists, even for foreign media.

In addition to being Zimbabwean citizens, journalists must also hold a journalism degree to qualify for a licence. A new government-appointed media commission will be responsible for granting licences to journalists and supervising the media industry.

The bill makes it a crime for journalists to write for other publications unless they are registered as freelance journalists. Anyone writing unauthorised reports on cabinet meetings will be prosecuted.

Those found guilty of violating the bill will have to pay a fine of up to 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($1,875) or be sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

Silencing dissent

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Basildon Peta warns that the bill is "the final nail in the coffin of the media".

This year, the journalists' union recorded more than 40 cases of independent reporters being arrested by police or attacked by ruling Zanu-PF militants. Some had reportedly been tortured.

Daily News editor, Geoff Nyarota
Nyarota Has been arrested twice this year

Zimbabwe's most popular newspaper, the independent Daily News, has been the main target.

Its printing press was destroyed in a bomb attack in January, although it continues to publish.

Editor Geoff Nyarota was arrested twice, but charges were quickly dropped.

The authorities expelled three foreign correspondents, and in July barred BBC reporters from the country.

The US Congress has recently passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill which offers financial incentives to Zimbabwe to allow fair elections and support a free and independent press.

Mr Mugabe reacted by calling the bill "repugnant, provocative, and indeed a gross violation of international law".

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Resettled farmers sell aid fertiliser on black market

Staff Reporter
12/20/01 7:12:00 AM (GMT +2)

SOME newly resettled farmers in and around Harare are selling fertiliser and
maize seed secured under the government’s crop input scheme from the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) on the black market, it emerged this week.

The farmers — and some Harare residents who have also hijacked the scheme —
are reselling mostly fertiliser, which is in short supply, on the black
market at higher prices while maize seed is sold in smaller quantities.

The inputs from the GMB’s Aspindale depot near Harare are being distributed
by a committee of war veterans instead of GMB officials, which has seen some
people not entitled to the inputs benefiting from the scheme.

Investigations by the Financial Gazette in the past week show that most of
this fertiliser is being sold at Harare’s Mbare Musika.

It emerged that some of the newly resettled farmers are using vendors to
sell the fertiliser while others are selling the commodity to vendors who in
turn sell it to the public.

One of the newly resettled farmers who identified himself as Tapiwa
Chingosho said he could not wait until harvest time in April next year
because he had no money to feed his family.

"What will I be living on until next year when I harvest?" asked Chingosho.
"If I manage to sell some of the fertiliser to make a living and send my
three children to school, then I do not see anything wrong with that.

"Anyway I will not sell all of the fertiliser because I have to use some of
it on my new plot in Mount Darwin."

Some of the vendors said because of deepening poverty in Zimbabwe, where
nearly 80 percent of people live below the poverty line, they had no choice
but to find other means of living.

"Sometimes you have to find ways of earning a living and this is our way of
making a living," one of the vendors at Mbare Musika said during a visit
there last week by this newspaper.

"We get the fertiliser from the GMB just like other farmers and we resell it
here for a little profit."

Under the crop input scheme, newly resettled farmers and communal farmers
get seed packs and fertiliser from GMB depots and have to pay back the money
after next year’s harvest.

However non-farmers who have hijacked the scheme are now running a
flourishing business by reselling fertiliser.

Chingosho, like many of the vendors, sells a 50-kg bag of ammonium nitrate
whose retail price is $945 for $2 000 while a 50-kg bag of compound D
fertiliser whose retail price is $1 300 is being sold for as much as
$2 500.

The government last month introduced price controls on fertilisers, accusing
manufacturers of profiteering. Fertiliser companies are however in talks
with the government in an attempt to have the controls removed.

There is already a shortage of fertiliser in the country as companies are
failing to meet demand, which has also helped fuel the black market.

The companies have made fresh pleas to the government to make scarce foreign
currency available to them if they are to produce cheaper fertiliser.

"The key cost driver in fertiliser right now is foreign currency
availability and cost," said Richard Musvaire, general manager of the
Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company.

"We have demonstrated in the past that if foreign currency is available to
the industry, lower prices can be delivered. We would therefore like to
appeal to the government to make foreign currency available to the
fertiliser companies."

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Army urges Mugabe to go

By David Masunda Deputy Editor-in-Chief
12/20/01 6:46:36 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWEAN army generals urged President Robert Mugabe to quit and anoint a
successor on the eve of the governing party’s Victoria Falls conference to
enhance ZANU PF’s chances in next year’s crucial presidential election, it
was learnt this week.

Authoritative sources said the top generals, under the umbrella of the Joint
Operation Command (JOC), met Mugabe in one of their regular briefings just
before the conference at the weekend to "reflect" on his and ZANU PF’s
chances in the election set for March.

The JOC comprises General Vitalis Zvinavashe, Commander of the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Constantine Chiwenga, Commander of the
Zimbabwe National Army, Air Marshall Perence Shiri of the Airforce, Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Elisha Muzonzini, Director-General of the
spy Central Inteligence Organisation.

In the meeting, the sources said, the generals expressed feelings that ZANU
PF’s chances in next year’s poll could be enhanced by a new unifying
candidate given the rampant factionalism which has torn ZANU PF and resulted
in its dwindling national support base in recent months.

Mugabe has vowed to crush his opponent, the Movement for Democratic Change’s
Morgan Tsvangirai, in the ballot, but analysts say the 77-year-old President
no longer has the stamina nor the appeal to woo a restless and angry

According to the highly placed sources, it was pointed out to Mugabe in the
meeting that his support base in former ZANU PF strongholds such as
Masvingo, the Midlands and Manicaland had dwindled and that he could only
bank on the Mashonaland vote.

Other sources said the generals’ feelings are shared by a number of senior
ZANU PF officials and it was hoped that the suggestion of a new candidate
would be tabled at Victoria Falls but it never even made it to the party’s
provisional agenda.

It was not immediately clear how Mugabe responded to the JOC concerns but
the sources said the ZANU PF leader, whose candidacy was endorsed at
Victoria Falls, tried to address the issue of factionalism and dwindling
support by urging supporters to close ranks and rally behind him.

According to other sources, if Mugabe had accepted the gentle nudge to quit,
he would then have used the conference to announce his departure from active
politics and appoint a team of four senior ZANU PF officials, one of whom
would be picked to contest the presidential election.

The four mentioned were Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo, former ZANU PF
Matabeleland strongman Dumiso Dabengwa, party economic czar Simba Makoni and
Speaker of the House Emmerson Mnangagwa, his own blue-eyed boy.

Although details of the proposed succession plan remained sketchy, the
sources said Nkomo, as party chairman and the most senior of the quartet,
was likely to have been chosen to succeed Mugabe.

Another suggestion was that the four would then agree to take turns at the
helm of the party and the country in six-year-term turns.

The plan, which apparently has the blessing of many party heavyweights, is
viewed as the best antidote to contain the rising groundswell locally and
internationally against Mugabe’s iron-fisted rule of 21 years.

Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain, is largely
blamed for the collapse of the economy and the deterioration of law and
order in the southern African country.

It is believed that his orderly and managed departure would have pleased
Western donors and Zimbabwe’s key supporters such as South Africa who have
become increasingly concerned about the ageing leader’s style of governance.

Meanwhile, it also emerged that Zvinavashe recently summoned former ZANU PF
Masvingo provincial chairman Dzikamai Mavhaire in the presence of Shiri to
hear first- hand the state of the party in the strife-torn province and ask
for his support to help Mugabe re-elected.

Mavhaire and former party leader and mentor Eddison Zvobgo have boycotted
campaign rallies for Mugabe’s re-election in Masvingo since Mavhaire’s
executive was booted out in a controversial party poll earlier this year.

The two failed to attend the Victoria Falls conference.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From World

TRIPOLI: Zimbabwe's Mugabe arrives in Tripoli 19/12/2001 12:25:17

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe arrived in Tripoli Wednesday for four
days of talks with Libyan leader Moamer Gadhaffi, one of his dwindling
supporters internationally, an official source said.
Mugabe was met at the airport by a member of the Libyan leadership, General
Mustafa Kharrubi.

He was accompanied by his wife Grace, Minister of Industry and International
Trade Herbert Murerwa, Mines and Energy Minister Edward Chindori-Chininga,
and officials from the Bank of Zimbabwe and the national oil company.

The talks with the Libyan leadership are expected to concentrate on the
supply of oil to Zimbabwe, which frequently suffers petrol shortages as a
result of a lack of hard currency.

The Libyan leader called on his countrymen on September 1 to continue to
support Mugabe in seeing through controversial land reforms, which have been
closely tied to political violence that has raged across Zimbabwe for 19

"You must continue to support the hero Mugabe, as Zimbabwe is a strategic
and important country for Africa," Gadhaffi said in celebrations marking the
32nd anniversary of the Libyan revolution, which were also attended by

Gadhaffi, whose country is one of OPEC's leading producers, also called for
oil to be supplied to Zimbabwe and for the door to be left open to all other
forms of assistance.

The Libyan leader also visited Zimbabwe in July after the summit of the
Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in the Zambian capital Lusaka, which
endorsed the transformation of the OAU into an African Union, dear to
Gadhaffi's heart.

Mugabe's land reform programme says nearly all land belonging to whites in
the country should be handed over to poor black families, without

The redistribution of land belonging to the descentants of British settlers
is frequently marked by violent clashes, led by supporters of Mugabe and
veterans of the war against white rule in the 1970's.

Zimbabwe is currently facing possible western sanctions over its land
reforms and the violence linked to them.

The US Congress has passed a bill, still to be signed into law, allowing the
White House to impose sanctions on Mugabe and any aides found to be behind
political violence in the country.

And in his state of the nation address Tuesday, Mugabe described US efforts
to impose sanctions on him and his top aides as "repugnant" and
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Tsvangirai lambasts SADC

Staff Reporter
12/20/01 6:51:48 AM (GMT +2)

OPPOSITION leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday criticised southern African
leaders for lacking a cohesive approach to Zimbabwe’s deepening crisis and
scoffed at suggestions that generals loyal to President Robert Mugabe might
overthrow him if he wins next year’s presidential race.

Tsvangirai said the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), which this
week again voiced fresh opposition to smart sanctions from the United States
and the European Union (EU) to punish Mugabe for his undemocratic policies,
was deeply divided on Zimbabwe.

"The cohesion that appears is only peripheral. Deep down there are
contradictions within SADC on what to do," Tsvangirai told journalists in

"There are some among the SADC presidents who want to take very strong
action against Mugabe but there are also others who are apologists," he
said. Tsvangirai did not elaborate on which leaders supported or did not
support tougher measures on Mugabe.

Defence and foreign ministers from the 14-nation SADC meeting in Angola this
week backed Mugabe’s leadership and rejected sanctions against him and his

They said Mugabe, who last week declared war on Tsvangirai vowing to crush
him, was committed to a peaceful, free and fair election

But divisions within the SADC bloc have steadily emerged in the past few
weeks, with regional powerhouse South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki and
Botswana’s President Festus Mogae appearing to take a tougher approach on

Mbeki three weeks ago warned Mugabe not to expect Pretoria’s protection any
longer in his fight with the world while Mbeki’s ruling African National
Congress (ANC) will today begin talks in Harare with Mugabe’s ruling ZANU

The agenda of the talks has not been made public, but is believed to centre
on Zimbabwe’s upcoming presidential election, Mugabe’s moves to seize land
without compensation and his persistent refusal to restore law and order.

Washington, whose legislature has already passed a sanctions bill on Mugabe
and his administration which is now awaiting President George Bush’s
signature before it becomes effective law, has told Mugabe to uphold human
rights and democracy and to ensure a free and fair presidential election
next year or face sanctions.

Mugabe must also implement a rational, fair and transparent land reform
programme to avert the sanctions that will target him personally, members of
his family and his top lieutenants and their relatives, Washington says.

The EU yesterday held last ditch talks with Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs
Minister Stan Mudenge to pressure Zimbabwe also to uphold democracy and
human rights and to implement fair land reforms or face sanctions.

The Commonwealth, a grouping former British colonies, is also set to meet to
decide on tougher measures to force Mugabe to act to end his country’s
widening crisis, dramatised by record inflation of 103.8 percent, surging
unemployment of 60 percent and poverty of 80 percent of the population.

Tsvangirai, who analysts say could easily defeat Mugabe if next March’s
election is free and fair, yesterday dismissed suggestions that top-ranking
Mugabe loyalists in Zimbabwe’s army and security services might topple him
if he wins the presidential poll.

"I do not lose sleep about a coup. We know that coups have been there in
Africa but any general wishing to stage a coup must know that eventually it
will be himself against the people of Zimbabwe," he said.

The former trade unionist, who reiterated that his party will contest the
presidential election despite attempts by Mugabe to rig the ballot, said
economic transformation, the land question and the HIV/AIDS fight would be
the first priorities of his government.

While acknowledging that nearly all the key state institutions including the
army, police and the spy Central Intelligence Organisation were politicised
and controlled mostly by Mugabe’s liberation war guerrillas, Tsvangirai said
he would not engage in a witch-hunt if he won power.

"We are prepared to work with anyone who is professional and there will be
no witch- hunt," he said.

But he downplayed talk of a government of national unity — which has been
apparently mentioned in some South African official circles — saying that
was a mater to be decided by his party as a whole if it wins the
presidential ballot.

Tsvangirai said an amnesty and a national healing and reconciliation process
would also be a priority for his government.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Africa gives Mugabe last chance out of crisis

By Buchizya Mseteka
12/20/01 7:01:20 AM (GMT +2)

JOHANNESBURG — Africa is giving Zimbabwe another way out of a deepening
political crisis threatening to close down its economy and hurt its
neighbours, but the question is whether President Robert Mugabe will take it

African ministers, who met in Angola this week, again opposed sanctions
against Zimbabwe, in hopes that a South African visit to Harare today will
get Mugabe to return to the rule of law and ensure free and fair elections
next year.

The ministers from the 14-nation Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) backed Mugabe’s leadership, even though Zimbabwe was slipping deeper
into chaos, in an attempt to soften Mugabe and bring him on board, officials

"Everyone is clearly stunned by the SADC’s latest move. It doesn’t make
sense and it defies logic," Herman Hanekom, a senior analyst at the
Pretoria-based Africa Institute, said.

But diplomats in the region said the regional strategy was to back Mugabe
while at the same time deploying the South Africans in a last-ditch attempt
to get Mugabe to comply with regional and international norms.

"The Angola SADC resolution was a message to Mugabe to say we understand
your predicament on the land issue, to say we are your friends. But at the
same time leave the behind-the-scenes tough-talking to the South Africans as
the regional power," a Zambian official said.

"I would not look at it as blind support for Mugabe, and it would be
misleading if the Zimbabweans took it that way," an Angolan minister said.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) is sending a
high-level delegation to Zimbabwe today in a bid to try to save its northern
neighbour from deepening chaos.

"This is a party-to-party visit. We need to exchange views on how to best
address the situation in Zimbabwe," ANC national chairman Mosiuoa Lekota
said in an interview.

Lekota, who is also South Africa’s defence minister and a senior member of
the ANC’s policy-making National Executive Committee, said the visit was at
the initiative of the ANC.

"We think discussions can help to advance us (Zimbabwe and South Africa) to
an amicable solution to the Zimbabwe problem. There is still hope, we are
hopeful," Lekota added.

Africa and the rest of the world will be watching to see how Mugabe handles
the South Africans this time round.

Black Zimbabwean war veterans have occupied thousands of white-owned farms
across the country since February 2000, fighting what they see as a battle
against lingering colonial injustice.

At least 31 people, including 26 opposition activists and five white
farmers, were killed during the farm invasions and in a wave of violence
across Zimbabwe before a parliamentary election in June last year that
Mugabe’s ZANU PF narrowly won.

But in a sign of more to come, Mugabe, who hopes to extend his 21 years in
power at presidential elections in March, has compared his party’s political
campaign to a military operation.

The Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, poses the
strongest challenge to Mugabe since he led the country to independence from
Britain in 1980.

The chaos in Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s rule has put the former liberation war
guerrilla leader on a collision course with former colonial power Britain,
the United States and almost the entire international community.

But the stand taken by the SADC ministers, who met in Angola earlier this
week, gave Mugabe an escape route.

A previous African initiative led by Nigeria gave Mugabe conditional support
for his land reform programme but said Harare must first end land seizures
and violence in return for cash support from Britain and other key Western

"The ball is clearly in Mugabe’s court and the destiny of Zimbabwe in his
hands. He can seize the opportunity by playing ball with the South Africans
and return his country to tranquillity," said a Namibian official at the
Angola talks.

"Or he can play games with them, close the doors and push his country and
even the whole southern African region into chaos," he said, adding:
"Zimbabwe is contagious and it could affect its neighbours."

The South African rand currency has sunk to record lows partly due to events
in Zimbabwe, and analysts have warned it could fall further.

Diplomats called the African move to get South Africa to go to Zimbabwe a
final chance to give Mugabe an honourable way out of the crisis facing his
agriculture-based nation.

Zimbabwe’s economy is on the sickbed. Foreign reserves are virtually
depleted, unemployment is high, inflation is above 100 percent and rising,
and interest rates are over 70 percent.

Without donor support, Mugabe has little chance of resolving his economic
problems, economists say.

— Reuter


Mugabe ends year a lost man

Brian Raftopoulos
12/20/01 6:31:32 AM (GMT +2)

AS Zimbabweans approach the end of the year 2001, there is a palpable sense
of both expectation and trepidation, reflecting the contradictory
possibilities that lie before us over the next few months leading to the
presidential election.

Since the general election in June 2000, all political eyes have been
focused on the more important fight for the presidency in 2001 as a symbolic
struggle for the future of the nation.

Through its narrow rendition of "patriotism" and the "national interest",
ZANU PF has sought to cast the forthcoming presidential campaign as the
struggle of good nationalist principles over the demons of imperialism and
the local "puppets" in the opposition.

In reality the nationalist diatribe has sought to justify a consolidation of
state terror and repressive politics, betraying the increasing emptiness of
a nationalist politics built on the skeletons of large numbers of its

Elements of ZANU PF’s authoritarian politics

Since the defeat of the government in the February 2000 constitutional
referendum, it has been clear that the ruling party was committed to clawing
back its authority through a number of strategies. These included: a violent
land occupation strategy with key logistical and coercive support from the
state; the deployment of terror and the use of judicial intimidation against
the opposition; widespread torture and intimidation attested to by both
national and international human rights bodies; the "restructuring" of the
judiciary, using threats by the state and sections of the para-military war
veterans movement; the re-organisation of ZANU PF structures to ensure the
promotion of a provincial leadership committed to a strategy of coercive
mobilisation; constant harassment of the independent media, and legislative
interventions to consolidate the monopoly of the ruling party over the
electronic media; the continued use of violence as an election strategy; and
the destabilisation of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and
other civic bodies.

The ruling party hoped that it could carry out this onslaught against
dissenting groups and critical voices by presenting a pan-Africanist and
anti-imperialist position through which it hoped to rally the African
regional and continental organisations, as well as finding a resonance in
the black diaspora, in particular in the US.

In important respects, this strategy paid dividends for much of 2000 and for
part of 2001 as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) expressed
its solidarity with President Robert Mugabe, even though there were
indications of concern emerging from some of its membership. Among the black
diaspora there were voices that saw in Mugabe’s policies a long-awaited
response to growing international racism. In countries experiencing
continuing racism, even a despot such as Mugabe could appear to some as the
voice of blacks against persistent white supremacist attitudes.

Certainly the continued legacies of colonial rule in southern Africa gave a
certain currency to the President’s criticisms, in particular when some of
the diplomatic responses of the former colonial power appeared to feed the
President’s position. Under such conditions the SADC maintained the posture
of regional solidarity, and the Organisation of African Unity predictably
followed suit, with the Commonwealth maintaining an insipid caution.

However, a strategy such as this, which is based on national repression,
soon shows its limitations and creates the conditions for a growing
opposition. The Zimbabwean example has shown the truth of this proposition
once again. Notwithstanding the growing intolerance of the state, a broad
alliance of opposition forces has continued to make its presence felt,
determined to ensure that the language of human and political rights is not
sacrificed on the altar of the survival needs of a ruling party desperately
in need of renewal.

The year 2001 has thus seen an attempt by the ruling party to consolidate
this strategy at both national and regional levels.

Earlier in the new year, feeling more confident of its position on the land,
ZANU PF turned its attention to the urban areas. In February 2001, the
ruling party made an attempt to take over the leadership of the ZCTU through
the unlikely guise of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions under the even
less credible leadership of Joseph Chinotimba, a war veteran with no trade
union credentials, and a small number of other unionist "leaders", many of
whom were discredited in the restructuring of the ZCTU in the mid-1980s.

The government’s favoured candidate in this struggle was the acting general
secretary of the ZCTU, Isidore Zindoga, whose policy of "non-partisanship"
barely disguised a close association with the ruling party. After much
lobbying and, according to some sources, payments to certain vulnerable
unions, the attempt to install a pro-ZANU PF leadership nevertheless failed,
confirming the importance of building up autonomous and resilient civic

Following this failure, the ruling party moved to the next stage of its
urban strategy, namely company invasions. The most concentrated period of
these invasions was between March and May 2001. The invasions were carried
out in all the major urban centres, and affected all the major industrial
sectors, particularly the engineering, commercial and clothing and textile
sectors. For the most part the invaders consisted of war veterans or those
posing as such. The aim of these invasions was to find fast- track
"solutions" to long-standing labour grievances, already aggravated by the
slow machinery of the government’s industrial relations legislation.

The factory occupiers, guided by a committee of ZANU PF and state officials,
ignored the Labour Relations Act, forcing companies to make remunerative
payments outside of any transparent structures. Inevitably, this exercise
turned into another example of ruling party extortion which affected not
only industrial establishments but also international non-governmental

The response of international governments, and more pertinently the South
African government to the harassment of its nationals, led to an abandonment
of this policy and a confirmation of worker support for the ZCTU. These
developments led to the deterioration of the relationship between the state
and the labour movement, culminating in a national stayaway on June 12 over
the government decision to introduce a 70 percent hike in the price of fuel,
in large measure to cover the effects of corruption at the state-owned
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe.

The stayaway marked the inability of the state to draw both capital and
labour into a social contract, confirming the views of unions and employers
that the government was not serious about dialogue. Since this period the
government has attempted to draw the other tripartite partners into
Tripartite National Forum negotiations that have been largely characterised
by state duplicity and employer disorganisation.

The most recent attempt to cobble together a social contract in Kadoma, in
the form of the document "Towards a Shared National Economic and Social
Vision", in November was another example of lack of concrete commitment to
action on the part of the state. More recently, discussions around this
document have faltered further after renewed attempts by state negotiators
to impose additional conditions on the social partners, while shying away
from its own central role in the Zimbabwean crisis. It is therefore highly
unlikely that the labour movement would commit itself to a "social vision"
from a government committed to the political imperatives of survival at any

In the area of the judiciary, the government went ahead with its strategy of
seeking to legalise the land occupations through a restructured Supreme
Court bench. The fruits of this manoeuvre became apparent in December when
the highest court in the land declared the land occupations legal, thus
overturning previous judicial rulings that had gone against the government
over the land issue. In the meantime, the ruling party’s violence on the
land continued, as well as serious disruptions to local government
structures, particularly in Matabeleland, thus further compromising the
capacity of such structures to respond to the local needs of citizens.

The state attacks on the non-state media continued and legislation was
introduced to further marginalise the possibility of alternative voices
entering the electronic media. The passing of a Broadcasting Services Act
concentrated the control of broadcasting licences under a licensing board
firmly under the control of the information minister. In addition, the
provision of 75 percent local content for national broadcasting, without a
prior audit of the feasibility of such a contribution and with little
additional capacity to facilitate the production of such outputs, has
resulted in a stodgy diet of dull programming.

Moreover, the determination to narrow the definition of "African culture" in
an attempt to ensure the "authenticity" of local cultural production avoids
a creative confrontation and dialogue with the extent to which elements of
European cultural practice have become part of Zimbabwean national culture.
The limits of a national culture, now more than at any other time in human
history, cannot be controlled by the legislative dictates of a moribund
information ministry. This is notwithstanding the need for enabling state
intervention in this field on the basis of a broad-based and substantive

Further elements of this authoritarian model of information control can be
found in the proposed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill,
which is designed to incapacitate the ability of independent media to
criticise the state. The Bill’s various controls on the registration of
journalists and the operation of non-state news agencies are a clear
indication of the government’s intention to deepen its monopoly in the
sphere of information dissemination.

These repressive media laws should also be viewed in conjunction with the
recently gazetted Public Order and Security Bill which will seriously
curtail the right of citizens to engage in legitimate means of protest such
as boycotts and civil disobedience campaigns.

Abuja and its aftermath

This broad array of state interventions has thus provided the political
context for the 2002 election, raising fears at national, regional and
international levels of the growing likelihood of civil conflict next year.
Such a possibility, along with the escalating consequences of deteriorating
economic conditions, has provided the impetus for various continental and
regional initiatives on the Zimbabwean crisis.

The signing of the Abuja agreement in September through the intervention of
the Nigerian government and on behalf of the Commonwealth provided an
opportunity for the government and the international community, in
particular the British government, to find a way forward on the land
dispute. The central aspect of the agreement was the linkage of the central
issue of land reform to a commitment to democratic accountability. As an
important paragraph in the agreement read:

"Land is at the core of the crisis and cannot be separated from other issues
of concern to the Commonwealth, such as the rule of law, respect for human
rights, democracy and the economy. A programme of land reform is, therefore,
crucial to the resolution of the problem."

The Nigerians and other leaders in southern Africa, with the encouragement
of the British government, pushed the government of Zimbabwe into this
agreement. Mugabe was not and continues to be unwilling to link the land
question in any way with the broad issues of democratisation. The Mugabe
regime therefore accepted the Abuja accord and then sought to define it in
ways that most complied with its ongoing political imperatives.

Given that the agreement was very general and lacked a clear time frame and
concrete monitoring structures, the government of Zimbabwe has been able to
use the grey areas of Abuja to continue its non-compliance around the
"political and rule of law implications" of the September accord.

As already mentioned, it has already used the reconstructed Supreme Court to
provide constitutional cover for its land policies, thus arguing that it is
now operating under the "rule of law". This type of politics is what
Ocoth-Ogendo referred to as "constitutions without constitutionalism".

The entire thrust of the government’s strategy on Abuja has therefore been
to maintain the focus on a narrowly defined land question, de-linking it
from broader issues of democratic accountability and forcing the matter of
payment from the British government on to the agenda without further
political fallout. It is also this strategy that Mugabe has wanted SADC to
support and amplify.

The pitfalls of regional solidarity

As long as the SADC were engaging in "quiet diplomacy" with Mugabe and
outwardly supporting his political project on the land question, the
Zimbabwean leader felt relatively secure. For it was essential to his
strategy to maintain the backing of SADC and the African Union for his land
project irrespective of the repressive politics he continued to inflict on

It was this backing that would in the post-presidential election period
allow him the minimum level of legitimacy necessary to re-engage the
international community for much-needed economic assistance. Central to this
strategy would be an election victory which, though mired in an atmosphere
of electoral irregularities and violence, could nevertheless be sold as
relatively "free and fair" given the realities of other elections in the
region and on the continent.

Under such conditions the Presidents’ critics in the West would be forced to
deal with him, if only to provide some level of stabilisation in Zimbabwe,
and also in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the Zimbabwean army
has played a key role in stabilising the present regime while also providing
opportunities for elite accumulation.

However, a number of developments have worked to unsettle this strategy.

First, the persistent criticisms of a strong opposition party which has
increasingly made its presence felt at both regional and international
levels. This factor should be allied to the coordinated positions that have
emerged from Zimbabwe’s civic groups over issues of governance.

Secondly, several SADC leaders have criticised the Mugabe regime this year,
including the heads of state of Malawi, Botswana and Swaziland. However it
was the most recent criticism from the South African President, which cut
the Government of Zimbabwe to the quick, eliciting accusations of ‘traitor’
from the state media. Clearly for these countries the economic and political
fallout of the crisis in Zimbabwe, has been a growing cause for concern.
Moreover it is clear that for South Africa in particular, there has been an
emerging consensus with the US and the EU over the receding prospects for a
free and fair election next year. The government’s clear breach of several
sections of the "Norms and Standards for Elections in the SADC Region"
adopted by the SADC Parliamentary Forum in March 2001, in Namibia, has
clearly caused concern. Zanu PF’s intention to amend the Electoral Act, in a
manner that will clearly disenfranchise many urban voters and Zimbabweans
living outside the country, most of whom are likely to be anti- Mugabe, is
yet a further example of the breach of SADC election protocols. In addition
recent attempts by the state to characterise the MDC as a ‘terrorist
organisation,’ drawing in the most opportunistic ways on the international
discourse of anti-terrorism that has emerged after the events of September
11 in the US, has only succeeded in confirming the repressive politics of
the present regime. Thirdly the threat of sanctions resulting from the
passing of the "Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act" by the US
House of Representatives, and the impending punitive measures being
considered by the by the EU under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, has
increased the diplomatic pressure on the Zimbabwe government.

However it was always a tenuous hope that the criticisms of South Africa, in
particular, would translate into a general SADC position, and thereby allow
for the region itself to press for a more substantive discussion on
democratisation in the region. Thus, when the US took further steps to
impose sanctions on Zimbabwe, the regional laager closed, and shut off any
further possibility of such a discussion in the foreseeable future. At the
end of the visit, on 10th to 11th December, of the SADC Ministerial Task
Force on Developments in Zimbabwe, mandated to work with the Government of
Zimbabwe in solving the economic and political issues facing the country,
the SADC team issued a blanket ratification of President Mugabe’s politics.
In direct response to the regular criticisms that have been aimed at the
Zimbabwean ruling party, and with scant regard to the processes that have
led to this point in the Zimbabwean crisis, the SADC Ministers stated that:

In this regard, they were gratified to learn that violence on the farms had
reduced significantly, and that the few reported incidents were being dealt
with under the criminal justice system, in accordance with the rule of law,
irrespective of the political affiliation of the alleged perpetrators.
Ministers welcomed the decision by the Supreme Court made in November 2001,
declaring that the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme was lawful and in
accordance with the laws and constitution of the country.

It would be difficult to imagine a more discreditable statement being made
on the Zimbabwean situation. However, there is a broader concern for those
in search of an alternative political dispensation on the continent. This
relates to the longer- term problem of being confronted with two unpalatable
positions. On the one hand we are faced with a global superpower, espousing
liberal democratic values, but policing an economic agenda producing
widespread global impoverishment; on the other hand this system of global
inequalities is breeding an authoritarian nationalism in countries like
Zimbabwe, that demands uncritical solidarity, and in which there is no place
for national state accountability. Solidarity in these circumstances, as
demonstrated by the recent SADC statement, is little more than a defensive
reaction to broader geo-political concerns. It may provide some short- term
solace to regimes facing a national crisis of legitimacy, but it is a
grossly inadequate basis for imagining alternative futures. The real need to
build up co-ordinated African positions on global inequalities, has also to
be based on the democratic accountability of African nation states

Looking Ahead: Elections 2002.

As President Mugabe prepares for his Presidential campaign, Zanu PF must be
feeling buoyed up by the recent SADC endorsement, thinking that its strategy
of maintaining the support of both SADC and the AU, is still on course. The
sense of bombast and self-congratulation that permeated its recently ended
congress at Victoria Falls, is an indication of the mood of the present
regime. But there are several clouds that are still looming ahead for the
ruling party. Most important of these is the doubt that remains over Zanu PF
support, not only in the urban areas where the party has lost so much
legitimacy, but also in their traditional rural stronghold. For it is clear
that areas such as Masvingo, Manicaland and the Midlands are now severely
contested terrain. Therefore notwithstanding the many measures that have
been taken to weaken the opposition and discourage the registration of urban
voters and farm workers, the potential opposition vote remains a very
serious threat to the government. The recent MDC victory in the Kadoma
Mayoral election is a further indication of this voter resilience. If the
Harare Mayoral election is held on February 11, as determined by the Supreme
Court, this will provide a major psychological and symbolic boost for the
MDC. (It is likely, however, that the Mugabe will invoke his Presidential
Powers to delay this election.) In addition the critical activities of the
major civic groups will continue, leading to more concerted action on the
constitution, the minimum election conditions, and the continued
deterioration in the economy. Such activities will continue concurrently
with the election campaign, keeping the major issues that have marked
Zimbabwean politics over the last decade on the agenda. Regional solidarity,
however important, will not remove these thorns from beneath the President’s

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Mugabe races to avert new fuel crisis

By Joseph Ngwawi Business News Editor
12/20/01 6:47:11 AM (GMT +2)

LIBYAN leader Muammar Gaddafi has threatened to cut fuel supplies to
Zimbabwe over what Tripoli says is failure by the Harare authorities to
honour an agreement hammered by the two countries, authoritative sources
said this week.

The disclosures came as President Robert Mugabe this week slipped out of
Zimbabwe to try to avert another fuel crisis that could further dent his
slim chances of winning next year’s presidential elections.

The sources said Tripoli threatened to stop fuel supplies to Harare after
some Zimbabwean politicians questioned the move by Mugabe to offer Tripoli a
stake in several state-run firms in exchange for fuel.

Mugabe offered the Libyans shareholding in local firms such as the
Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) earlier this year as a reward for coming
to the aid of Zimbabwe, plunged into intermittent fuel shortages since 1999
caused by the cancellation of lines of credit from former suppliers.

"This has not gone down well with some people here who thought we are
selling the family silverware to foreigners, resulting in some
misunderstanding between the two countries," a senior Industry Ministry
official told the Financial Gazette.

Libya is understood to have retaliated by demanding to be paid in foreign
currency, threatening to pull the plug on Zimbabwe if the government did not
meet its demand.

Mugabe this week made a hastily arranged trip to Tripoli for talks with
Gaddafi over the impasse.

He was accompanied by Energy Minister Edward Chindori-Chininga, Industry
Minister Herbert Murerwa, National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) chairman
Charles Chipato, NOCZIM chief executive Webster Muriritirwa and CBZ managing
director Gideon Gono.

The CBZ was the financial adviser to the Zimbabwe government on the deal,
hammered in July this year at the height of the fuel crisis, while the
Libyan Arab Foreign Bank (LAFB) led a consortium of Libyan banks in
providing funds for the fuel purchases.

"They are going to discuss ways of broadening trade relations between the
two countries, in particular to look at the products that we can sell to the
Libyans," the source said.

The Zimbabwe government-Libyan barter deal is worth US$360 million. Brokered
by Mugabe and Gaddafi, funds were to be released in quarterly tranches of
US$90 million and Zimbabwe agreed to finance the fuel purchases through
exports to Libya of local products as well as by giving the Libyans a stake
in companies.

The Libyans were also expected to invest in fuel facilities such as pump
stations in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has had a fuel crisis since 1999, which is blamed on shortages of
foreign currency and mismanagement at NOCZIM, a state-owned company.

The crisis, threatening the viability of Zimbabwe’s already crumbling
industry and commerce, has spawned a spate of ad hoc measures by the
increasingly isolated government.

The LAFB has already acquired a five percent stake in the CBZ and is also
said to have expressed interest in acquiring a stake in another state-run
financial institution, which owns a commercial bank.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Forex rule drives firms away from exports

Staff Reporter
12/20/01 6:52:54 AM (GMT +2)

SEVERAL Zimbabwean exporters have stopped or are contemplating stopping
production of goods for external markets as a government directive on the
use of export earnings takes its toll on the performance of local firms, it
has been learnt.

This emerged at a meeting held last week by Zimbabwe’s trade development
body, ZimTrade, at which business executives warned that Zimbabwe’s export
sector could soon be decimated if the government remains adamant about its
directive that firms should surrender at least 40 percent of their hard cash
earnings to the central bank.

The 40 percent surrender requirement is a Cabinet directive introduced in
July to improve foreign currency inflows to ensure that the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority have
sufficient resources to finance imports of fuel and power.

ZimTrade chief executive Freddie Chawasarira said some companies had already
stopped or are contemplating stopping exports but said the exact number of
the affected firms could only be known after a study of the impact of the
directive on the economy.

"We are aware that there are companies that are currently not exporting
because they are obtaining the foreign currency on the parallel market in
order to produce but are not allowed to keep the full proceeds," he said.

Other participants at the meeting said the directive had severely affected
local exporters’ ability to import essential raw materials and upgrade
machinery to meet international standards.

The structure of Zimbabwe’s manufacturing base is such that the bulk of its
raw materials are imported.

The production bottlenecks have cost Zimbabwe, currently battling severe
hard cash shortages, crucial international markets due to the failure by
local firms to supply products on time.

Zimbabwe’s exports of goods and services have progressively declined from
about US$3.1 billion in 1996 to an estimated US$2 billion this year and are
expected to slide further in 2002 due to shortages of hard cash needed to
buy raw materials, according to figures released last month by Finance
Minister Simba Makoni.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries chief executive Malvern Rusike said the
private sector had already made representations to the Ministry of Finance
and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which had resulted in some manufacturing
sub-sectors being exempted from the directive.

"But it is really an issue of being able to demonstrate to the authorities
the impact this ruling has had on the operations of our respective sectors,"
Rusike said.

An official from the Ministry of Finance added: "A policy review is possible
if there is evidence that the directive is having a negative economic

The meeting was arranged by ZimTrade to appraise local companies on the
opportunities for trade with the United Nations and other relief agencies in
the wake of the growing global humanitarian crisis.

Participants at the meeting were drawn from firms that manufacture tents,
mattresses, food and other products used in relief missions.

International relief agencies have an annual budget of more than US$4
billion but less than one percent of that goes to African companies, even
though the bulk of the crises are on the continent.

Several Zimbabwean firms, including mattress maker Vitafoam and the Zimbabwe
Defence Industries (ZDI) which manufactures arms, have penetrated the
lucrative humanitarian market. The ZDI has been contracted to provide ration
packs for international peacekeepers in several countries.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Christian Science Monitor

White farmer's e-mails detail Zimbabwe farm strife

New censorship laws expected to be passed this week don't deter one woman's
mission to help her country.

By Nicole Itano | Special to The Christian Science Monitor

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Cathy Buckle loves her country, even if
sometimes it seems not to love her.
In the past two years, as government -sponsored lawlessness has thrown
Zimbabwe into turmoil, her sheep, cattle, and lumber farm has been seized
and occupied by landless squatters - her family terrorized, and her friends
harassed, tortured, even killed. But she is not leaving.

Despite her white skin, she is a Zimbabwean and knows no other home.

"I do not consider leaving and will not do so until there is no hope at all.
I belong here, was born here, and have a role to play in this country," she

For almost two years, Mrs. Buckle has led a solitary campaign from her
computer to let the world know about the growing instability in Zimbabwe. In
a weekly e-mail that now reaches tens of thousands of people and is
reprinted widely around the world, she has chronicled the campaign of terror
unleashed by Zimbabwe's ruling party, the ZANU-PF, against white farmers,
their workers, and supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change. Although a long-awaited presidential election is slated for March,
few expect that it will be fair.

The Zimbabwean government has also cracked down on the press, expelling
several foreign journalists and denying visas to others. Mrs. Buckle's
weekly e-mails - always signed "Love, Cathy" - provide some of the most
intimate pictures of a country that has gone from one of Southern Africa's
great success stories to a starving and impoverished nation embroiled in
political violence.

Because of her dedication to letting the world know about the situation in
Zimbabwe - her phone monitored and a harsh new censorship law expected to
pass through the legislature this week - Mrs. Buckle agreed to speak to the
Monitor by e-mail.

The daughter of a prominent lawyer who was involved in Zimbabwe's fight for
independence from England during the 1970s, Buckle began her weekly e-mails
shortly after her farm, purchased a decade after Zimbabwe won independence,
was invaded in March of 2000. The invaders were men and women who claimed to
be veterans of the independence war. They, said they were reclaiming land
stolen from them by white colonialists.

About 4,500 farms, including some owned by blacks who have spoken out
against the government, have been targeted for redistribution. Buckle's
farm, though not on the official list, was among the first of about 1,700
farms to be invaded.

For seven months, as dozens of "war vets" squatted on one of the main
grazing fields of her small, arid 1,000-acre farm - slaughtering her
livestock and chopping down the gum trees she had patiently raised for
lumber - Buckle shared her story with a growing number of readers inside and
outside of Zimbabwe.

The war vets severely burned her storekeeper on the face with a hot metal
pipe because she could not find her ZANU-PF membership card. They forced her
other workers to attend brutal political reeducation sessions. Her
8-year-old son, more sensitive to the situation than she had realized, was
plagued with nightmares.

Still, in some ways, she was lucky. Nationally, since the beginning of the
violence, nine farmers and 39 farm-workers have been killed.

Trevor Ncube, publisher and chief executive of two of Zimbabwe's independent
newspapers, said the content of Buckle's dispatches shocked even urban

"The way she wrote it, so simplistically, just telling the story of her life
and how she was feeling during the invasions. It was what people needed as a
window into what was going on," said Mr. Ncube, who wrote the foreword to
"African Tears," Buckle's recently released book about the invasion of her
farm, after following her story through her e-mails.

Finally, when her family could no longer live with the terror, they packed u
p and moved to a house in the nearby town of Marondera, about 60 miles east
of Harare.

From there, Buckle has continued her weekly e-mails, corresponds regularly
with hundreds of people who have read her story, and is in the process of
writing a second book, based on interviews with farmers, about the

More than a year after her family was forced off the farm, Buckle says her
country is slowly heading toward starvation and anarchy. Political violence
is increasing as the March election nears and - with much of the country's
farmland occupied and the government blocking international food aid, there
is little to eat.

"[Last week] in Marondera, there is no sugar, no cooking oil, no laundry
soap. Prior to that, no chicken, bread, margarine, flour, or milk," she
says. "The country is facing mass starvation - there is no doubt of it."

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Letter to The Times

Action on Zimbabwe


Sir, Mr Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party will stop at nothing to remain in
power (report, December 17). Having ruined the country they know that, when
the truth is revealed, they all face an unhappy period of retribution.
What is required is immediate and decisive action, not rhetoric. If the
Vorster/Kissinger combination could bring Ian Smith to his knees in the
1970s, imagine what the Blair/Bush/Mbeki trio could achieve when they put
their backs into it.

Failure to act on the Zimbabwean problem will bring misery and poverty to
millions of innocent people in the region and have expensive consequences
for Britain starting next year, when famine sets in.

Yours faithfully,
40 Country Meadows,
Market Drayton,
Shropshire TF9 3LR.
December 19.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Media Update # 2001/50
10- 16 December 2001

This is MMPZ's final report in the year. The next issue will be on
the 10th of January 2002. We wish you all a pleasant and safe

1.  Summary
2.  The Zanu PF conference
3.  The SADC visit
4.  Chegutu mayoral election and the Electoral process
5.  MMPZ to monitor Shortwave broadcasts
6.  Memoirs 2000- Lest we forget
7.  From our subscribers

v   The week witnessed ZANU PF's annual conference
    receiving live coverage on ZBC television and radio from the
    13th to the 16th. The conference gobbled almost half the
    news airtime in the three days - taking 56 minutes (38%)
    out of 148 minutes allocated to ZBCTV's 8pm news. As a
    result, most of the news consisted of speech
    pronouncements from Zanu PF officials. These were aired
    without analysis or independent comment.
    ZTV's 8pm bulletin on Saturday allocated 13 minutes out
    of 17 minutes of monitored news items to the conference.
    Radio Zimbabwe's (formerly Radio 2) 8pm bulletin of the
    same day also had five items out of eight on the ZANU PF
    In addition to this allocation of airtime to the conference,
    some reporters covering the conference were hardly
    objective. For example, ZTV's Matabeleland North Bureau
    Chief, Prisca Utete (ZTV, 14/12, 8pm), asked the question:
    "How do we fight MDC?" to a delegate attending the
    conference. Surely the conference deserved critical
    reporting - not the promotional coverage delivered by ZBC.
    MMPZ looks forward to the state broadcaster affording
    similar promotional favour and airtime allocation to the
    conferences of other political parties. The opposition
    MDC's annual conference will be held on the 22nd of
    December in Gweru- MMPZ will provide a comparative
    assessment of the coverage. MDC won 57 seats in the
    June 2000 parliamentary election. 

v   Like the ZBC, the public press also found itself
    unashamedly pandering to the ruling ZANU PF's
    propaganda. Its reportage lacked any objective analysis,
    merely recording the speeches and comments of senior
    ruling party delegates who specialized in hate-filled and
    often violent language, demonizing the opposition and
    western countries at the expense of explaining the ruling
    party's solutions to national problems. 
    The private press on the other hand, raised issues such as
    factionalism and discontent by some party members over
    Mugabe's candidature in the presidential poll

v   The SADC ministerial committee communiqué provided the
    state media with an opportunity to simply endorse the
    government's position that land was central to the
    Zimbabwean crisis; that the rule of law prevailed on farms;
    and that government's land reforms were succeeding.
    Predictably, the private press took a different position.
    They anchored their analysis on the premise that there is
    no rule of law and the root of the crisis is poor governance
    and President Mugabe's determination to stay in power at
    any cost.


The Financial Gazette (13/12) article, ZANU PF seen urging more,
predicted that the ruling party's four-day congress could endorse
an increase in the amount of political violence in an effort to
intimidate the population into abandoning the opposition MDC.
The paper quoted the leader of the Matabeleland-based Imbovane
Yamahlabezulu, Bekhithemba Sibanda saying: "Mugabe will
demonize the opposition at the conference again so as to fire
up his supporters to engage in more violence."
Speeches made by ZANU PF's most senior officials during the
conference proved The Financial Gazette's prediction was not far
from the truth.
ZANU PF officials were quoted during live broadcasts of the
conference on both ZTV and radio (13 to 16/12) continuing with
their highly inflammatory language, which has grown significantly
worse since the murder of Bulawayo-based war veteran leader,
Cain Nkala last month. However, ZBC's news editors appeared to
censor much of this language in its news bulletins.
The Herald (15/12) article, US, UK governments warned, quoted
the acting chairman of the war vets association, Patrick
Nyaruwata, promising unspecified action against unnamed foes if
the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill is passed into law by American
President George Bush.
Nyaruwata is quoted: "Once the Bill is passed, there should be
nothing that will stop us from taking action. We are going to
fight on the day the Bill is passed."
The same story quotes Nyaruwata warning the MDC to "desist
from violence because they would face the wrath of the war
The paper went on to quote Nyaruwata accusing the opposition of
the abduction and murder of Nkala and ZANU PF activist, Limukani
Lupahla, despite the fact that the case is still before the courts and
therefore sub judice.
In another article, Ex-Rhodesians unrepentant, the paper quoted
ZANU PF chairman John Nkomo threatening to ditch the policy of
national reconciliation introduced at independence because whites,
with the assistance of Western powers, were busy opposing
government's land reform programme.
Nkomo, taking a cue from Mugabe who on ZBC (13/12) was quoted
live attacking British Prime MinisterTony Blair, also reminded the
Labour Party leader and his government that they "were too
young and too new to know that ZANU PF defeated their
Said Nkomo in the story: "We are unstoppable. Like a
Concorde, we have no reverse gear, no emergency brakes.
The destination is there, we know where it is, and we are
cruising to the destination. It's a non-stop flight. The systems
are computerised. Captain Mugabe is in command."

The Sunday Mail (16/12) also found itself obsessed with ZANU
PF's violent language, as exemplified by its screaming headline,
Battle begins. In the article, the paper enthusiastically quotes
ZANU PF's new national political commissar Elliot Manyika as
saying: " Our machinery is now sharp. MDC, here we come.
We are going to crush you."
The same story also quoted President Mugabe spoiling for war: 
"Hazvisiri Zvekutamba izvi. Yava nguva yehondo." (There is
no kidding now. It's time for war)
In both instances, the paper failed to critically analyze such violent
language and contextualize them with regard to the state of the
rule of law in the country.
As MMPZ has noted before, it is important for media to go beyond
reporting such highly inflammatory statements by offering objective
analysis on the dire consequences of such statements.

Ironically, while the public media was busy peddling ZANU PF's
accusation that the MDC was a violent party, The Daily News was
busy exposing ZANU PF's violent tendencies.
Throughout the week, the privately owned daily highlighted not less
than eight incidents of violence that were either perpetrated by war
veterans or ZANU PF supporters against the opposition. Examples
are: Teachers out of Gokwe for allegedly backing the MDC (10/12),
MDC activist found dead (11/12), Homes destroyed in Guruve
(11/12), War vets on rampage (12/12) and ZANU PF youths force
mayor-elect out of office (13/12).

The Daily News (10/12) also carried an advertisement by the MDC
inserted to commemorate the death of 83 Zimbabweans killed in
political violence between April 19 2000 and September 19 2001 to
commemorate the International Human Rights Day held on
December 10, 2001. The MDC did not name the perpetrators of
such violence in the advert.
The Zimbabwe Independent (14/12) reported on how armed police
and soldiers patrolled the streets of Victoria Falls, harassing
businessmen and residents. In the story, Paranoid ZANU PF
brings Victoria Falls to a halt, the paper quoted residents
complaining of wanton harassment by the police.
Said the paper: "Business has also been affected as security-
wary tourists opted to cross over to Zambia where they can
still enjoy undisturbed flights over the Falls."

The public media ignored this issue, preferring to follow ZANU PF's
name-calling, self-praise and threatening speeches.

While the public media was exclusively content to gloss over the
ZANU PF congress as a wholesome success, the private press
raised some problems the party was facing.
The Zimbabwe Mirror comment: Can ZANU PF re-new itself?
(14/12), warned ZANU PF against being dogmatic in its
deliberations at the conference by noting that it was of little use
now for the party to remind the people of its record as a liberation
movement, but to forge a national outlook with all patriotic forces
across the party line for the betterment of Zimbabwe.
Said the paper: "Therefore, the ZANU PF Conference should
not waste energy vilifying the opposition nor on the kind of
self-aggrandizement to which it is accustomed on such
It also urged the conference to "look beyond 2002, through a
careful and honest self-evaluation and on the basis of a
thorough examination of the political and economic situation
that prevails in Zimbabwe today."
The Daily News (12/12) also weighed in with, Could this be
Mugabe's last Congress? The story chronicles the odds stacked
against ZANU PF as it holds its congress, such as factionalism
and discontent among some party members over Mugabe's
candidature in the presidential poll because they felt he was too
ZANU PF Congress to face cocktail of woes, The Daily News
(13/12) again looked mainly at the spectre of factionalism that has
been haunting the party across the country.
The Standard (16/12) also carried a story in which some delegates
were allegedly unhappy with Mugabe's candidature as will prove to
be catastrophic for the party in the poll. The paper quotes one such
delegate as saying: ".The reason why we may lose next year's
election is that we are banking on the wrong horse altogether.
Mugabe is a dead horse. He is not the ideal candidate. We
need someone better, someone with appeal. You do not
expect me to sell Mugabe in my constituency and get the
people's approval, do you?" 


The SADC Ministerial committee two-day consultative meeting
received tremendous interest in the public press. The Herald alone
carried five front-page articles and a comment on the meeting.
The Herald (10/12) in a front-page piece allowed the Foreign Affairs
Minister Stan Mudenge to turn the task force visit from a non-
partisan observer mission into a "solidarity visit" by brothers and
sisters. He stated: "If anyone has changed from that spirit (of
solidarity), then they are coming to the wrong country."
The report was a reproduction of the deliberations. The same article
also provided some statistical background, presumably to show the
magnitude of success in the government's land reform. It reported:
"Some 294 980 landless Zimbabweans have been resettled
while others were still to be resettled under the accelerated
land reform and resettlement programme, including an
additional 51 464 new black commercial framers who were
settled under the model A2 commercial farm resettlement
Interestingly, there seemed to have been an increase from the
figures the same paper issued the previous week (7/12) when it
reported that, "over 236 000 peasant families and 51 000".
Both The Herald and Chronicle (11/12), continued to reproduce
Mudenge's speech at length with no analysis. Mudenge was
quoted saying the Government had not invited SADC ministers "as
monitors or judges because that would be interference in the
country affairs." In reference to the Zimbabwe Democracy and
Economic Recovery Bill, he said "There cannot be any targeted
sanctions that can be smart enough to hit at us without
affecting our neighbours."

ZBC (10/12, 8pm) quoted SADC committee chairperson Lilian
Patel stating that SADC was against the imposition of sanctions
on Zimbabwe.
Patel (ZTV, 11/12, 8pm) went on to castigate the media, which she
accused of exaggerating the Zimbabwean crisis: "We have met
government, we have met the stakeholders. It is not what we
see in newspapers. Our media should help us by portraying
the right image"
In the same bulletin Reverend Kuchera, representing churches in
Zimbabwe, was allowed to mislead the public with the usual lie that
ZANU PF has been peddling when he said: "Other issues like the
rule of law, like violence like democracy cannot be clubbed
together with Abuja or with land redistribution. These are
separate issues which need to be dealt with separately"
It is a fact that the Abuja agreement, which the government
celebrated as a 'victory for Zimbabwe' categorically, states that the
government should uphold the rule of law and should create a
democratic environment. 
Patel's attack of the media was also reported in The Herald
(12/12). Her patronizing stance suddenly changed the tone of the
Herald, which had previously been skeptical and aimed at dividing
the SADC mission into camps. In its issue (10/12) the paper made
reference to other precursor SADC meetings and supposed
unfriendly "attacks" that recently came from South Africa and
Botswana in preparation for a possible counter to any damning
report the committee might have come up with.

As if to respond to Mudenge's cautionary opening remarks, Patel
embraced the Zimbabwean stance, and was duly accorded space
by the state press to express her findings. The Herald (12/12)
reported, "Ms Patel said the SADC was not divided, and would
not go along with evil machinations by some western powers
using the neocolonialist press locally and internationally.
SADC would remain on Zimbabwe's side because 'blood is
thicker than water.'" 

When the SADC communiqué was issued, ZBC Diplomatic
correspondent Judith Makwanya (12/12, 8pm) stated that the
business community and farming organizations were said to have
welcomed it. ZTV viewers might have been surprised when Saviour
Kasukuwere, a ZANU PF MP and politburo member, was the only
voice quoted representing the business community.
After celebrating the SADC communiqué Makwanya concluded:
"With SADC and other African countries fully behind
Zimbabwe's land reform programme, it remains to be seen
whether Britain and her other allies will succeed in stopping
Zimbabwe's land reform programme"
Such statements exposed whose interest ZBC journalists are
As has become the norm, ZBC sought general people's comments
on the SADC communiqué. All those interviewed criticized the
United States for interference and expressed support for Mugabe's
land reform programme.
In an attempt to give the coverage an expert analysis, ZTV
interviewed Dr Tafataona Mahoso, a Zanu PF sympathizer. Mahoso
went ablaze with his usual tirade: "If a mad man, while you are
taking a bath comes and grabs your clothes and runs away
with them, don't run after him get someone else to run after
the man. And SADC is actually running after the mad man."

Despite strong evidence of political violence on farms reported by
other media, The Herald (13/12) after the communiqué had been
issued, concluded: "We were pleased with the assurances from
the spectrum that land acquisition has largely been devoid of
violent clashes and has followed legal processes since Abuja."
The Sunday Mail (16/12) carried three articles on the issue
applauding the outcome of the meeting. One opinion piece claimed
without substantiation, that the audit teams results had been
"welcomed by many Zimbabweans and those within the
region." and went on to advocate for "quiet diplomacy as the
best option for SADC". Another lengthy article, by Emilia Zindi,
questioned the relevance of human rights in the African context,
saying they were Western values arguing that what Africa needed,
was "economic empowerment" based on land.

The Daily News (12/12), which had been reticent on the meeting,
sprang up to announce a whole different perspective to the
sanitized government press reportage. Sourcing from the SABC
TV, it revealed on the eve of ministers' meeting, that Moeletsi
Mbeki, young brother of SA President Thabo Mbeki, had called for
a SA's radical censure of the Zimbabwean government to avert a
full-scale war because SADC "was too weak to deal with an
errant President Mugabe." According to the paper, he called for
South Africa to use its "muscle" to "pull the economic plug on
Zimbabwe to push its government out of power and avoid
war." Commenting on the forthcoming elections, Moeletsi who
reportedly was speaking as a deputy chairman of the South African
Institute of International Affairs, said, "Elections will definitely
not be free and fair." And in an apparent reference to the ZANU
PF driven government Youth National Service, he added, "I
understand the Libyans have moved elements of their military
there (Zimbabwe), and the Angolans are sending small arms to
Zimbabwe to arm the militias that ZANU PF is training."
He also warned Zimbabwe could turn into another Democratic
Republic of the Congo, with "armies from all over the place
slogging it out."  This seemed to be corroborated by constant
references to war made by ZANU PF officials during National
People's Conference in Victoria Falls.
The Daily News (15/12) comment, in apparent response to
Mudenge's remarks reported by the Herald (10/12) stated that the
government was bullying the visitors and stifling their ability to
autonomously analyze the situation so as to make meaningful
solutions. Part of it read, "By threatening the SADC ministerial
delegation that our "destinies are intertwined", clearly
Mudenge was blackmailing the team into supporting
Zimbabwe's much criticized fast track land reform."
On the contrary, The Financial Gazette (13/12) blamed the visitors
themselves. In its comment, the Gazette charged, "SADC must
be ashamed to have been used and abused by President
Mugabe." Rejecting the state media notion that the root of the
Zimbabwean crisis is land, the Gazette argued, "No doubt,
Zimbabweans will be most disheartened that their neighbours
have once again failed to identify the root cause of
Zimbabwe's growing pains and chaos: Mugabe's insatiable
appetite for power and his increasing use of extraordinary
measures to achieve this goal." It went on to list repressive laws
being passed and political violence to render credence to its
Similarly, The Zimbabwe Independent (14/12) comment raised
similar points, saying the ministers "ended up looking like
cheerleaders for Zimbabwe's derelict leadership." The
Independent particularly criticized SADC's over reliance on
government's position. It particularly attacked Patel's comments on
the media's "negative perception" sarcastically stating: "They
offered to help correct these "negative perceptions" with
"factual information" supplied by Zimbabwean ministers!"
The comment also stated that it was wrong for the ministers to
endorse the Supreme Court "flawed" ruling without visiting a single
farm to ascertain the actual happenings on the ground. As
evidence of breakdown of the rule of law, the paper observed that
whilst the SADC ministers were deliberating all these decisions, in
Chegutu ZANU PF supporters were preventing a newly elected
MDC mayor from taking office.  The paper also carried a news
report, which quoted several sources criticizing the SADC
The Zimbabwe Mirror (14/12) claimed SADC had made a U-turn,
which it called a "dramatic somersault" on an initial plan to
chastise the Zimbabwe government following a convincing
presentation by Mudenge and President Mugabe's announcement
that elections would be in March. However, Patel denied SADC
ever intended to give conditions to Zimbabwe elections or being
under the pressure from South Africa.


ZBC's bias in support of the ruling ZANU PF was evident in the
manner in which it announced the Chegutu mayoral lections
results. Although radio stations reported MDC victory in Chegutu
as the first news item, of their 4pm news bulletins of the 10th, the
stance was changed on ZTV's Newshour where the item was
relegated to second half of the bulletin. In the report the
Mashonaland West ZANU PF Chairman, Philip Chiyangwa and the
losing candidate Stanley Majiri who stated that Zanu PF would
contest the results citing violence, intimidation and a "voters' roll
which is in shambles".
Majiri, the loser was allocated one minute 5 seconds while Francis
Dhlakama the MDC winning candidate was allocated a mere 5
The report was followed by a desperate attempt to portray ZANU
PF as gaining support in the urban areas. The ZTV reporter stated:
". The result indicates a positive shift in terms of the urban
voting patterns for the ruling party. ZANU PF registered 46% of
the vote compared to MDC's 54% in the Chegutu poll, an
increase from 33% registered in the Masvingo and just under
20% registered in the Bulawayo mayoral election."
The reporter went on to cite by-elections results in an attempt to
overshadow MDC victory with that of ZANU PF. The Masvingo
election was held earlier than the Bulawayo elections.

Although The Herald (11/12) gave front-page status to the news, its
counterpart, the Chronicle, buried it deep inside the paper.
However, The Herald followed ZTV stance and swamped MDC
victory with Minister Jonathan Moyo's comments. Moyo was
accorded seven paragraphs as compared to one line in which
Learnmore Jongwe of the MDC was indirectly quoted.
Moyo confused the public by openly claiming Zanu PF victory
where there was clearly none. He said:  "it shows that in election
terms, Zanu PF has significantly narrowed the gap. The MDC
has been boasting that it is an urban party, but a difference of
450 votes is not something to boast about. Especially if you
compare that difference with the five Zanu PF parliamentary
by-elections which were convincingly higher." The rest of his
comments were government trite hatred of the opposition MDC.
The Chronicle ran a shorter version of Moyo's comments and at
least quoted Jongwe directly.
In sharp contrast The Daily News (11/12), under a front-page
headline "MDC knocks on Mugabe's door" evenly
accommodated voices from the contestants, and their party

After announcing the results, The Herald (12/12) ran a piece to
reinforce Moyo's trend analysis (of Zanu PF's popularity) under the
headline, "MDC's support base thinning." The article played
around with extremely small vote figures, yielding huge percentage
losses for the MDC and huge gains for Zanu PF. In percentage
terms, observed The Herald, Zanu PF had 46,65 percent while
MDC had 49.2 percent of the total votes. The conclusion was the
MDC's "support base" was thinning, whilst inversely, Zanu PF was
gaining ground.
Nevertheless, The Financial Gazette (13/12) saw it differently.
Under a headline "Exit door opens wider for Mugabe" the report
observed that MDC's victory "is the clearest sign that more
Zimbabweans have crossed the political psychological barrier
and could easily ditch President Robert Mugabe in a
presidential poll next year." Two academics, used as analysts,
weighed in saying the election results were pointers to the
presidential poll.

The Daily News (12 & 15) reported the outbreak of violence
perpetrated by ZANU PF following the announcement of the
results. The public press ignored this violence but next day (13/12)
announced that Zanu PF had filed a court challenge to the poll
results, citing irregularities in the voters roll, violence and
intimidation. This was despite Moyo's assertions in the same
Herald (11/12), "If there is something wrong with the running of
elections how come the MDC is winning? How come they won
in Masvingo and Bulawayo? How come they got 57 seats in
the June parliamentary elections last year?" 

President Robert Mugabe reiterated (ZTV, 11/12, 8pm) his position
with regards the issue of European Union election observers.
Mugabe stated: "I don't want to see Europeans taking control.
Africa can observe our elections, pass a judgment on
them.We don't need whites our former imperialists to come
and act as observers."
All the dailies (12/12) reported the issue.
ZBC (12/12, 8pm) stated that the United States Assistant
Secretary for African Affairs, Walter Kansteiner had asked SADC
to monitor the presidential elections. In his live sound bite aired on
ZTV, Kansteiner stated that his country would use SADC
Parliamentary Forum Electoral Recommendations as a benchmark
to judge the forthcoming presidential elections. No information was
given on these recommendations. Instead, the audiences were
further 'enlightened' on the differences between observers and
monitors in an attempt to accuse the US for meddling in the affairs
of the country.
It is slowly becoming a norm for ZBC to distract its audience from
the real issues with the definitions of an observer and a monitor,
whenever the issue of election of international observers is raised.
This is done in an effort to portray the west as having a hidden
agenda to oust ZANU PF from power.


A new radio station began broadcasting on Wednesday 19
December 2001. The new station, SW Radio Africa transmits news
and current affairs on 6145KHz in the 49-meter band everyday from
the United Kingdom.
This brings to two, the number of terrestrial stations in the country.
The other station is Voice of the People (VOP). VOP broadcasts
from Netherlands.
Zimbabwe's Broadcasting Services Act, enacted in April 2001,
allows for one other national radio station besides the ZBC. Despite
the enactment of the law, ZBC remains a monopoly in the
broadcasting sector. The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe
(BAZ), under whose custodianship the allocation of broadcasting
licenses rests, is still "consulting" on the need for new players in
the sector and on the distribution of the frequency spectrum. The
authority has indicated that no new licences will be issued before
the Presidential election.
MMPZ criticized the provisions in the Bill as "draconian" and
designed to prevent new players entering the broadcasting arena.
MMPZ, as pronounced in its Deed of Trust document, monitors the
role of the media in elections. As indicated earlier, beginning in
January 2002, the Project will monitor all short-wave transmissions
from within and outside Zimbabwe. This includes SW Radio Africa
and VOP.

6.  MEMOIRS 2000: Lest we forget

Your comments and opinions mean a lot to us. Last year we asked
our subscribers to help us look back on the Zimbabwean media
with a short paragraph or two about what they thought were the
main stories in the year 2000.
Starting two weeks ago to the end of the year we are publishing
some of the responses we received.
Please note, the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the
views of MMPZ.
In the meantime, we kindly ask you to help us look back on the
year 2001. Tell us what you think were the main stories in the year

Your reports have been horrifying, and I cannot choose a best
(worst?) story. But keep up the good work.
Stan Siebert in Birmingham

My obvious choice is the outcome of the elections and the huge
setback for ZANU PF and victories for the MDC.  But this was
interlinked with the phoney propaganda on the land question, so
this should be included as well. So, my choices are both the
elections and the land grab.
A luta continua


From Pedzisai Mangezvo

The coverage of Nkala's murder was the most nauseating and
repulsive thing I have ever came across in the history of
Zimbabwean media.
This wasn't the first time I have come across such blatant bias in
media (you can think of the Americans and their war against terror,
against Saddam, against Iran, you name it).  Why this was so
offensive to me was how unsubstantiated "theories" were passing
for facts.  It's a good thing that you people have been trying to see
to it that such anomalies are rectified. But conversely, I would want
a situation where I am also protected. From lies, not only by
government officials and government press, but form the
"independent" press as well.  We have heard cases of journalists
from the independent press claiming to have interviewed certain
individuals when they wouldn't have.
My personal experience is having someone making an appointment
to have a chat with me and the next thing is a long "interview" with
"me" when none had taken place.

So, much as we would want a "free flow" of information, let's also
be sure that that free-flow is factual and authentic. And why is it
that the same "authorities" are always quoted on national issues.
Indeed we respect the views of Makumbe, Masipula, Raftopolous,
Mukonoweshuro etc but do they have to be in every issue of the
Financial Gazette.
Lets have Baregu and Mukonweshuro in between the same cover
as that actually enhances the quality of the issue under
discussion. What's the point in quoting 5 people who think alike?
The point I am trying to drive at is that a paper shouldn't be thought
to be independent because it quotes Masipula Sithole and
criticizes the President.  It shouldn't be a government mouthpiece
because it quotes Mwesiga Baregu and criticizes Tsvangirai.  For
me, that's not a free flow of information. That's polarization.

From Keith Battye
It has been very instructive to read your reports as we, as a nation,
have been habituated by the propaganda machine to believe that all
journalism is biased in a particular direction. Your concise insights
into what is wrong with the reportage, both public and private, helps
provide a benchmark for what responsible news should be.
Thank you and keep at it, particularly over the coming months
when the temperature will surely rise and you too will attract the
attention of our Joseph Goebbels.

From Nhlanhla Masuku
Your Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe could improve its in-depth
analysis of the slants and attitudes of the various newspapers in
I find you tend to be unbalanced in your criticism of Zimpapers
publications and you ignore some odious nuances and subtle
insults against black people by some so called independent
You have also not picked up the trend towards "sound bites"
journalism by some newspapers. This is perhaps the most
dangerous development in our media in recent times.
I urge MMPZ to strive for balance and in depth analysis as shown
by some columnists in some newspapers. One does not
necessarily agree with them but credit is due to them for
interesting insights and interpretations.

From Albert Curtis
You are doing a really good job, and I would like to say that all your
work is much appreciated

The MEDIA UPDATE is produced and circulated by the Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), 15 Duthie Avenue,
Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:
We appreciate comments on coverage of local issues and MMPZ's
work. Please keep your comments brief. All queries and comments
should be addressed to the Project Coordinator.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

ZIMBABWE: Pressure for free election

JOHANNESBURG, 20 December (IRIN) - As the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) discussed possible action against the Zimbabwean government on Thursday, and South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) held talks with their ZANU-PF counterparts in Harare, human rights group ZimRights called for greater pressure on President Robert Mugabe to ensure a free and fair election next March.

ZimRights Director Bidi Munyaradzi told IRIN ZimRights would submit a petition to the Commonwealth and to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in about two weeks, calling on them to ensure a free and fair presidential poll.

"Although ZimRights does not actually support general sanctions, the Commonwealth and SADC should put pressure on the Zimbabwean government to ensure the immediate restoration of the rule of law. Observers should be here now, instead of later," he said.

Munyaradzi said it was important for election observers to arrive in the country immediately because the election could be rigged if people were intimidated during the campaign period. He said the petition would also call for transparent ballot boxes to be used. "We have already dismissed all domestic channels of appeal. As civil society we can only revert to international and regional bodies for support," he told IRIN.

Referring to the controversial Public Order and Security Bill, which is awaiting parliamentary approval, Munyaradzi said: "This kind of dare by the ruling party is only meant to ensure that there are no voices which can be raised higher than the government's interests. It means that the kind of activities we do in promoting transparency, human rights and accountability of the part of government will get zero tolerance, because under this Bill anything that might cause despondency and alarm will not be tolerated.

"Going by the history of this country, we are afraid we will see this Bill being passed with very little consultation with the opposition and civil society," he said.

On Tuesday the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) condemned the Bill, saying it would curtail citizens' basic rights. The organisation was quoted in the Daily News as saying that the government had imposed an unofficial state of emergency in the country through the introduction of draconian legislation. It cited the Public Order and Security Bill, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the Labour Relations Bill and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill as examples.

MISA-Zimbabwe chairperson Reyhana Masters-Smith was quoted as saying at a briefing: "As we come closer to the beginning of a new year, many of us look back on the 12 months that have just passed and take stock. What was right, what went wrong and how can I do something about it? To be honest, it is sad because as a journalist who practised in this country for the last 15 years, my heart is heavy that my Christmas present is a (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy) Bill that will not allow me to do the work I love." The Bill looks set for approval by Parliament before it adjourns for the festive season.

According to the report, the Bill bans the media from writing on "information whose disclosure will be harmful to the law enforcement process and national security, inter-governmental relations or negotiations, financial or economic interests of a public body, the government or country or information relating to personal privacy". Journalists working in Zimbabwe will have to be accredited by the Media and Information Commission, which will be established by the Bill.

Also, the minister of information prescribes the form and manner in which the journalists will be accredited, according to the report, and a code of conduct for the journalists will be developed by the commission. An accreditation certificate will be valid for one year and may be renewable thereafter. Tawanda Hondora, a human rights lawyer, was quoted as saying that the Bill gave too much power to the minister.

In terms of the Bill, a journalist will be deemed to have abused his privilege and committed an offence if he or she writes a story that has already been published by another media house without its permission, conceals, falsifies or fabricates information, spreads rumours, falsehoods or causes alarm and despondency under the guise of authentic reports and collects and disseminate information on behalf of another person who is not part of the mass media service.

Munyaradzi said the the law would also severely restrict the work of civic and human rights groups. Penalties in the Bill range from Zim $100,000 (official exchange rate equivalent US $1,875) or imprisonment not exceeding two years.

Meanwhile, in another effort aimed at pressuring the government for a free election, the Crisis Coordinating Committee of Zimbabwe (CCCZ) resolved this week to engage in mass action to force the government to let an independent electoral commission to conduct next year's presidential poll.

According to the Financial Gazette, the CCCZ - comprising of a diverse range of organisations - decided at a meeting in Harare on Tuesday to immediately prepare a strategy and programme for the rolling action. The powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the National Constitutional Assembly, the Zimbabwe National Students Union and the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform sit on CCCZ's mass action sub-committee, which aims to come up with an action plan by 7 January.

On Thursday Britain urged the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to consider putting Zimbabwe on the agenda for the next Commonwealth summit in Australia in March. This could lead to Zimbabwe being expelled from the Commonwealth. The action comes amid American sanctions aimed at Zimbabwe's leaders deemed to be responsible for violence, pressure from the European Union and increasing calls for sanctions against Harare.

"It is clear that it is going to be very violent between now and the election itself," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in an interview with BBC radio.

In a separate development, the government on Wednesday extended voter registration until Sunday after pressure from the opposition, to ensure that as many people as possible are able to cast their vote in March. The opposition has argued that the registration process disenfranchises thousands of primarily urban voters.

Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 has been deepened by the often violent occupation of at least 1,700 white-owned farms by ruling party militants. The takeovers have disrupted the production of maize, the staple food, and tobacco, the biggest foreign currency earner. Inflation currently runs at more than 103 percent.

In a statement on Wednesday, Amnesty International said: "The situation in Zimbabwe is getting worse day by day as the Presidential elections draw nearer. The government of Robert Mugabe is determined to remain in power by any means, including harassment, arbitrary arrests, assaults and killings of anyone who stand in their way. This is not about land reform but about rampant torture by the state and its proxies to bludgeon dissent." The organisation called for greater regional and international pressure to be brought to bear on the Harare regime.

However, Munyaradzi told IRIN he thought it would be difficult for the ANC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) states to "come up with any serious position Zimbabweans will respect". He said the recent SADC ministerial group which visited Harare had not met many civic groups and that even though SADC had good election guidelines, it was quiet about the manner in which these principles were being flouted in Zimbabwe.


Back to the Top
Back to Index

From ZWNEWS, 20 December

Day One…

As the draconian new Public Order and Security Bill made its way through parliament yesterday, a new and free voice was launched to complement Zimbabwe’s independent media: SW Radio Africa began its service to southern Africa on Wednesday evening. The new station is a long-awaited challenge to the blanket state monopoly of the electronic media in Zimbabwe. It is not, however, the first: Capital Radio had a short-lived existence last year before police stormed its location and confiscated the transmitter. Which is why the new station is not based in Zimbabwe. "We’re in the UK," said a spokesperson for the station, "not by choice, but because there is no alternative. Short wave is not our choice either, but FM is not available to us."

A small group of presenters have left Zimbabwe to set up the station. Their aim is to present a more balanced viewpoint than that available from the government media. It is not an easy task, not least because of the climate of fear that pervades Zimbabwe at present, making people reluctant to be interviewed. Likewise government officials generally refuse to talk to the independent media. "We tried to get the government’s viewpoint on a number of issues today. We failed. To be fair, that wasn’t a refusal to speak to us. It is just that people were unavailable or in meetings. But these days, journalists continually have difficulty getting quotes from government. It is not a ruling party that is used to openly discussing viewpoints and allowing free debate," said the spokesperson.

But the optimism is infectious: "Manic, panic, mayhem - and wonderful," is how the team described the first day on the air. The presenters are Violet Gonda, Tererai Karimakwenda, John Matinde, and Mandisa Mundawarara.  Broadcast times are between 6pm and 9pm Zimbabwe time, seven evenings a week. Listeners in Zimbabwe can find the station on short wave in the 49m band at 6145 KHz. Those outside the broadcast area can hear the new station through internet streaming. The SW Radio Africa website is at Listeners’ news and views are encouraged, and can be sent to

Back to the Top
Back to Index