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US ambassador says "ominous signs" precede Zimbabwe elections

Monsters and Critics

Feb 25, 2008, 12:43 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - US Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee warned Monday
that 'ominous signs' of cheating by President Robert Mugabe's government
were already present ahead of next month's elections in Zimbabwe.

In a letter published in the state-controlled daily Herald, McGee referred
to 'a growing chorus of voices expressing doubt about the coming poll.'

Presidential elections, in which 84-year-old Mugabe plans to extend his 27
years in power by another five years, as well as parliamentary and local
government polls are scheduled for March 29.

The last three national elections since 2000 have been dismissed by
independent observers as neither free nor fair because of violent
intimidation, electoral and security laws that severely disadvantage
opposition parties and outright rigging.

This year Mugabe is being challenged for the presidency by former national
labour leader Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the larger faction of the Movement
for Demcoratic Change which split in 2005, and surprise candidate Simba
Makoni, a member of the politburo of Mugabe's ruling ZANU(PF) party until he
announced his candidacy three weeks ago.

McGee wrote: 'My government shares the concerns expressed in recent weeks by
a wide variety of organizations about the pre- election environment,
including reports of voter confusion and inadequate preparation, evidence of
irregularities associated with registration and inspection of the voters'
roll, and concerns that the violence of the past year will inevitably affect
the campaign and election.'

Church and civic groups have reported large numbers of deceased people on
the voters' roll, dozens of people named in multiple registrations in
different constituencies, and large numbers of secret registration of voters
in areas dominated by the ruling party, while candidates have been denied
access to the voters' roll.

Over the last year police and state secret agents have forcibly blocked any
attempt by opposition candidates and pro-democracy organizations to hold
meetings or demonstrations.

Hundreds of government opponents, including Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
larger faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, as well as
the leadership of the national labour movement, were arrested and assaulted,
with often critical injuries inflicted. Mugabe publicly encouraged police to
'bash' opponents who defied him.

'It is understandable that voters in Zimbabwe may find obscure the linkage
(between voters educating themselves about their choices) and the act of
voting,' McGee wrote.

'Past experience may engender skepticism. Despite these ominous signs, we
urge all Zimbabweans to vote. While Zimbabwean people do not have the power
to ensure that democracy prevails, it will surely not prevail unless they
play their part. This was to be expected. I anticipate the same problem with
the voting.'

The government has meanwhile said it will allow only observers from
'friendly countries', and Monday George Charamba, Mugabe's spokesman, said
that the European Union 'will not, and I repeat not,' be invited to send
observers to the election, although 'one or two countries' might be

The state press reported Monday on two rallies where ruling party
parliamentary aspirants handed out bicycles and cash to people attending.
Civic groups have repeatedly accused ZANU(PF) of bribing voters.

Opposition groups said Monday they had been told they were not allowed to
hold campaign meetings at night.

Last week nine members of a teachers union were reported arrested and
assaulted as they were handing out fliers and charged under security laws.

Police claimed that they had been 'throwing fliers with provocative
political messages.' All nine were hospital after ruling party supporters
'retaliated' to the fliers, a spokesman said.

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Makoni rejects idea of opposition coalition

Mail and Guardian

Paul Simao | Johannesburg, South Africa

25 February 2008 11:55

      Zimbabwean presidential hopeful Simba Makoni said on Monday he
would not form a coalition with the main opposition party because it would
alienate dissenters in President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

      Both Makoni, expelled from Mugabe's Zanu-PF and running as an
independent in the March 29 presidential election, and Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have rejected
the idea of forming a united front.

      Analysts said their determination to go it alone could split the
opposition vote and pave the way for Mugabe's re-election to another
five-year term.

      "There are a large number of people in Zanu-PF who share my
proper vision. I don't want to alienate those people by forming a coalition
with one entity," Makoni said in an interview with South Africa's Talk Radio

      "I am in a coalition with the people of Zimbabwe."

      Tsvangirai has also dismissed the idea of a coalition, telling
supporters on Saturday that the MDC was the legitimate voice for democratic
change in the country. A smaller MDC faction has, however, thrown its
support behind Makoni.

      Media have speculated that the two will form a united front to
end Mugabe's 28-year rule in the economically devastated Southern African

      Makoni denied on Monday that his candidacy would help the
84-year-old Zimbabwean ruler. "I am nobody's tool," he said.

      Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has
heaped scorn on his two main opponents, comparing Makoni to a puffed-up frog
and political prostitute and calling Tsvangirai a puppet of Britain and the
United States.

      The British and US governments have accused the Zimbabwean
government of widespread human rights abuses, stifling dissent and
destroying a once-prosperous economy, which is suffering from inflation of
over 100 000%, mass unemployment and chronic food and fuel shortages.

      They and other Western nations have imposed sanctions on Mugabe
and his top officials.

      The Zimbabwean leader blames his nation's economic crisis on
"sabotage" by Western governments, which he says are angry over his decision
to seize thousands of white-owned farms and redistribute the land to poor
black Zimbabweans.

      Both Makoni and Tsvangirai have vowed to reverse Zimbabwe's
economic meltdown if elected next month.

      'There will never be regime change'
      Meanwhile, Mugabe celebrated his 84th birthday on Saturday at a
rally aimed at boosting support before elections next month.

      The bash in the southern town of Beitbridge on the border with
South Africa cost Z$3-trillion -- the equivalent of about R1,9-million at
the dominant black-market exchange rate.

       Mugabe's actual birthday was on Thursday, but the
celebrations -- attended by ruling-party members, chiefs, diplomats and
government ministers -- were moved to Saturday to allow schoolchildren to

       Flag-waving party supporters and schoolchildren greeted Mugabe
with loud cheers when he arrived at the venue, accompanied by his wife,
Grace, and their children.

      A laughing Mugabe, wearing a garland of flowers and surrounded
by supporters, was seen punching the air with his fists. He hit out at the
country's "enemies" who have criticised his presidency, including the US
States and Britain. "There will never be regime change here ... Never," he

      Mugabe also urged ruling-party members to tell the truth about
the country's economic woes, even as he attacked his critics.

      "Let's tell people the truth about the economic hardships they
are facing," he told thousands of party supporters. "The truth about what
government is able to do and what it is not able to. We are going to work
hard to address the problem." -- Reuters, Sapa-AP

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Divide and conquer

Feb 25th 2008

Robert Mugabe expects to stay in office

ROBERT MUGABE, Zimbabwe's ageing president, celebrated his official birthday
at the weekend. The 84-year-old threw a party at Beitbridge, on the border
with South Africa, and launched his campaign for a sixth term in office. He
has ruled for nearly three decades and expects to win re-election in a
general and presidential election in March. He rehearsed his usual stump
speech, hurling abuse at anyone who dares to stand up to him (he called one
opposition leader, Simba Makoni, a "prostitute" and a puffed up frog) and
blaming outsiders-notably George Bush and Britain's Gordon Brown-for his
country's ever more miserable economic collapse.

Even he can no longer deny that Zimbabwe's economy is in a dreadful state.
Statistics in the country hardly capture the awfulness of daily life. Annual
inflation is said to be some 100,000%; unemployment is about 80%; there is a
chronic lack of fuel and food. For ordinary people this means scratching a
living through barter, relying on remittances from as many as 3m Zimbabweans
living abroad (mostly in South Africa, Botswana and Britain), or growing
maize and vegetables for sale, even on pitifully small plots on the sides of
roads in city centres. Partly as a result of AIDS, life expectancy has
plummeted in the country.

The general economic malaise is a result of Mr Mugabe's own misrule. The
seizure of commercial farms and the collapse of the rule of law in Zimbabwe
have led to a dramatic slump in agricultural output, a sharp contraction in
industry and a flight of investors. The "economic sanctions" which he
blames-in fact targeted travel sanctions on a hundred plus of Zimbabwe's
elite-have not caused the country's disaster.

Yet Mr Mugabe is still confident of winning. Circumstances may suggest he
should not be. A former finance minister, Mr Makoni, who has a long history
in Mr Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF, is running against the president. Although Mr
Makoni has been expelled from the party, he is expected to appeal to voters
who are fed-up with Mr Mugabe's misrule but who are unwilling to plump for
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which, confusingly, has
itself split in recent years.

Youngish, personable, well-educated, and a competent administrator and
businessman, he is seen as a compromise candidate whom Zimbabweans could
unite around and whom foreign governments, such as South Africa's, would
welcome. Perhaps, most important, Mr Makoni could try to persuade
heavy-hitters in ZANU-PF, such as Solomon Mujuru, a former head of the army
who has previously tussled with the president, either to jump ship and
support the rival candidacy, or at least to restrain Mr Mugabe's efforts to
rig the results at the polls.

There is no evidence of this happening. Mr Makoni, if he were to make a
difference, would have to appeal to large numbers of rural voters in the
centre and north of the country, who traditionally throw their support
behind the ruling party. For the past decade or so, the opposition MDC has
anyway been able to win urban seats (especially in Harare, the capital, and
Bulawayo, the second city) and much of the south-west of the country, where
Ndebele people have long opposed Mr Mugabe's rule.

But Mr Makoni will be constrained by the usual difficulties that face the
opposition: the lack of an effective organisation in those parts of the
country where ZANU-PF is strongest; the lack of a free media, especially the
absence of a daily newspaper where criticism of Mr Mugabe may be aired; and
the lack of radio stations which can be heard in rural areas. Nor does it
help that the vast majority of Zimbabweans who have left the country are
likely to be opposition supporters, who will therefore not be able to vote.
And even if some combination of Mr Makoni and the opposition MDC were able
to get more opposition supporters to polling stations, there remains the
obvious risk that the results-as before-will be rigged in favour of Mr

Perhaps the reason that Mr Mugabe looked so confident this weekend is that
he believes the opposition-which was powerful at recent elections because it
was united behind a single candidate-is now fractured between Mr Makoni (who
has the support of one faction of the MDC) and the part of the MDC led by
Morgan Tsvangirai, plus an independent candidate, Langton Towungana. On
Monday February 25th Mr Makoni confirmed that he has no plans to unite with
Mr Tsvangirai, saying that he is, instead, "in coalition with the people of
Zimbabwe". The risk for Zimbabwe is that Mr Mugabe may find it easier to
hold onto office because his rivals are divided among themselves.

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Vendors and forex dealers forced to attend Bob bash at Beitbridge

By Tererai Karimakwenda
25 February, 2008

The border towns of Beitbridge and Mussina were buzzing with activity this
weekend as Robert Mugabe celebrated his 84th birthday at a lavish party on
the Zimbabwe side and youth activists demonstrated against his regime on the
South African side.

Nkathazo, a Zimbabwean activist who was at the border taking part in a
demonstration organised by the Zimbabwe Revolutionary Youth Movement (ZRYM),
said he crossed over to Zimbabwe and back to South Africa easily because of
all the traffic. This allowed him to witness events from both sides.

Disturbing reports came from the Zimbabwe side, where many villagers flocked
to Mugabe's birthday party when they heard there was free food. Nkathazo
said he saw youth militia forcing people who were selling wares to stop
doing business and get onto buses headed for the birthday bash. Many were
local vendors and foreign currency dealers. He said those who refused were

On the South African side there was no partying. The Zimbabwe Revolutionary
Youth Movement conducted a demonstration demanding that Zimbabweans outside
the country be allowed to vote. About 1,200 people attended the
Nkathazo was there when the protestors hoisted a giant helium balloon with
the words "Happy Bye Bye Mugabe" into the air. Nkathazo said this was meant
as a sarcastic birthday card, telling Mugabe that he will be removed from
office on March 29th in the presidential polls. He added that the balloon
was so big Mugabe must have seen it across the Limpopo river at his birthday

The ZRYM last Thursday displayed a protest paper birthday cake for Robert
Mugabe at the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria. The group is returning there
this Thursday for another demo. Group President Simon Mudekwa said Zimbabwe's
Ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, has finally agreed to meet
them to discuss the petition they delivered last week. The petition had
thousands of signatures demanding that Zimbabweans outside the country be
allowed to vote.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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‘I will put my X next to Mugabe’

The Times, SA
Published:Feb 25, 2008

‘The old man has had his time. He must go, but our elders here are afraid to tell him. There are a lot of spies and policemen’

Old loyalties, fear and loathing all hold sway as Zimbabweans head to the polls on March 29, the Sunday Times Foreign Desk discovers as it investigates who — President Robert Mugabe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai or new Zanu-PF pretender Simba Makoni — will carry the day

The shelves in Murombedzi Growth Point shopping centre in Katama are empty. So too are the granaries of the poverty-stricken villagers who call Katama home.

And another disastrous harvest looms, with crops in the fields failing due to excessive rains over the past few months, coupled with scorching heat.

But still Jacob Musiyanwa, a 55-year- old retired security guard, intends to vote Robert Mugabe back into power in five weeks’ time.

“I have no choice,” says the peasant farmer. “I will put my X against his name. He is our uncle. He comes from our village. He sent my children and grandchildren to school, although he is responsible for all our suffering.

“Everyone here calls him ‘Sekuru’ (Uncle) or ‘Mdara’ (Old Man),” he says respectfully.

“Everyone here” refers to the villagers of Katama, where Mugabe hails from and where he spends most of his weekends.

Katama, 80km west of Harare, is reached by a tarred highway that leads directly to the gates of Mugabe’s palatial retreat.

But while Mugabe’s home boasts electricity, running water, satellite television and expensive furnishings — all the “luxuries” that most hard- pressed Zimbabweans have learnt to live without — Katama has not escaped the ravages of the economic collapse stalking the country.

After Mugabe’s homestead, the road deteriorates rapidly. The walls of Murombedzi are in urgent need of a lick of paint.

Most bus operators — reeling from the effects of inflation of 100000% — have discontinued their services to some villages due to the poor state of the roads. Fuel is also a major problem.

Villagers are forced to walk up to 20km to reach the nearest town to do their banking .

Everything is scarce: bread, maize meal, other basics .

In fact, Musiyanwa, a grandfather of 13, cannot remember when last shops at Murombedzi had fresh bread.

“Things are bad even here,” he says in a hushed voice, apparently in fear of plainclothes state security agents and other Zanu-PF informants.

“You can’t imagine it is where the old man comes from. People are busy right now being ferried by buses for his birthday in Beitbridge, but we are left behind without food to eat.

“I am not the only one fed up.”

And his gripes don’t end there.

Musiyanwa complains about the rampant corruption and nepotism in the handing out of food relief to villagers by chiefs and headmen affiliated with the ruling Zanu-PF.

He charges that the distribution of farm implements — tractors, ploughs, harrows, discs, fertiliser and seed — parcelled out to villagers under the government’s mechanisation programme, is fraught with irregularities.

“Corruption is rife at the doorstep of his homestead,” he says .

But still Musiyanwa will not change his mind. Old loyalties and obligations — even strained ones — die hard.

Musiyanwa has voted for Mugabe since independence. And he will probably continue to do so till his death.

“Election to us here is like a ritual,” he says. “We have to vote for the old man or Zanu-PF. To some of us Zanu- PF is our totem.”

It is a sentiment unemployed Tawanda Chidawu, 23, collecting water at a nearby borehole, understands — even if he does not agree with it.

“The old man has had his time,” he says. “He must go, but our elders here are afraid to tell him, because this is his home area and there are a lot of soldiers, spies and policemen who are quick to get angry on behalf of Gushungo (Mugabe ).”

Chidawu, whose distant uncle has been cherry-picked by Mugabe to stand on a Zanu-PF ticket in the poll on March 29, predicts there is no way people in Katama will vote for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai or former Finance minister Simba Makoni, who are running against Mugabe.

“The problem is that there is a lack of alternative information,” he says. “There is too much propaganda; the opposition is banned here and I don’t see how Makoni can penetrate the area because he is already seen as a sellout financed by (US President George) Bush and (former UK Prime Minister Tony) Blair.”

He blames the opposition for concentrating on major towns and cities, thereby allowing Mugabe to hold sway in rural areas.

“This should be the year, but people are being told by Zanu-PF political commissars that Tsvangirai and Makoni want to return the land and the farming implements to the whites,” he says, before excusing himself for fear of a ragged group of men who seem interested in our conversation.

Citizens in Harare are grappling with an entirely different dilemma: who to vote for — Tsvangirai or Makoni.

Mugabe is not even a consideration.

No right-minded Zimbabwean can afford to waste ink and vote for Mugabe, insists Margaret Shoniwa. “Anyone who does that needs to see the nearest psychiatrist,” she says.

However, Shinowa is in a serious quandary on where to make her mark come March 29.

“ It will depend on who impresses me during their election campaign ,” she says.

But Tafireyi Masocha has no doubt. Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change leader who is widely believed to have been cheated of victory by Mugabe in the last two elections, is the man to lead Zimbabwe out of its quagmire, he insists.

“Tsvangirai is the man. We have been with him in the trenches, we were beaten with him while Makoni was sitting in the same Cabinet with Mugabe,” he says.

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Malawi ruler helps Mugabe to hold on to power

Nyasa Times, Malawi

Ngirazi Nyambose in Harare on 25 February, 2008 13:17:00

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is aiding Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe to cling on to power with a win in the forth coming March 29 general
elections by supplying him with much-needed maize which is being distributed
to the electorate to buy votes.

About 300 000 tonnes of maize imported from Malawi have been hoarding by
Zanu (PF) at Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots around the country for vote

Eye witnesses accounted of four haulage trucks coming from the Nyamapanda
border off-loading maize at Murehwa depot, which official there said had
been purchased by the government from Malawi.

"Maize sold by the Malawi government to Zimbabwe has not helped the people
of the country fairy. It is being abused by distributing to the electorate
in Mashonaland.

"As opposition, if we take over power, we will have difficulties to pay the
Malawi government because they have played part in the political aggression
by Mugabe and ZANU-PF," said Tendai Biti of opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

Malawi is running short of maize and is rationing the grain nation-wide
exported 300 000 metric tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe and is yet to fulfil a
100,000 metric tonnes export to cover the required 400,000 Mt.

Senior officials at the GMB depot in Harare confirmed that close to 100 000
tonnes of maize were ready to be dispatched for Mugabe's campaign. It has
also been established that depots in Murehwa, Bindura, Chegutu and Marondera
have been hoarding stocks.

"We have stocks of up to 20 000 tonnes and some of them have been coming
through Mozambique. We have been given instructed to start preparing for
dispatching the maize," a GMB source at Murehwa depot told The Zimbabwean.

The United States expressed regret at Mugabe's decision to schedule a
general election without an agreement on conditions with the opposition.

"We regret that President Mugabe has insisted on proceeding with the
presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29 without having reached
an agreement on conditions that would have levelled the playing field for
all parties planning to compete in those elections," read a State Department

UK has also hit at Mugabe.

"Zimbabwe is suffering from an economic, humanitarian and political crisis
for which President Mugabe is directly responsible," British Foreign
Secretary David Miliband said.

"The conditions for it (the election) are far from free and fair. We are
pressing for effective international monitoring and for states in the region
to require the election to meet international standards...," he told

However, defiant Mugabe told his supporters on Saturday that his party would
win the elections "resoundingly" and he was ready for a fight with those who
criticised his presidency, including President Bush and British Prime
Minister, Gordon Brown.

Malawi leader of opposition, John Tembo demanded government to stop the
exporting of maize to Zimbabwe with the world's highest inflation rate, over
100,000 percent.

Mutharika who has Bineth, a personal farm in Zimbabwe guarded by state
security agents, signed the contractual agreement with the Zimbabwe
Government that offered a US$10 million line of credit.

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Bulawayo runs out of money

Photo: ff/IRIN
With the collapse of services, urban residents dump garbage at undesignated places
JOHANNESBURG, 25 February 2008 (IRIN) - Service delivery has collapsed in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, after local authorities recently announced that the municipality was insolvent and unable to cater to the needs of its almost two million residents. The council could not pay salaries in January and employees have been on a go-slow since then.

Refuse collection and maintenance have come to a halt: repairs to potholes and burst sewers have been affected, as has the procurement of medicines for council clinics.

The situation has been compounded by the central government's failure to approve the council's supplementary budget since September 2007, and local authorities cannot increase tariffs without this approval.

Despite the government's recent announcement that the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) would approve council budgets, no funds have moved yet.

"The entire city is stinking - as you can see, all this rubbish piling up has not been collected for two months now and we risk a cholera outbreak very soon ... the situation is worse when it rains, as the garbage is blocking the drainage system," complained Nathan Mlilo, a hardware store owner, pointing to a heap of rubbish outside his shop on the city's busy Main Street.

''Council is completely broke, and unless and until the NIPC approves the council budget and allows us to review rates periodically, then services will continue to deteriorate, as the hyperinflationary environment does not allow us to complete projects''
Health services have also been disrupted and drug shortages were evident at most of the council clinics IRIN visited. "Patients come here for diagnosis only, and are then referred to private clinics, while those without money and medical aid schemes are told to go back home," said a nurse at Mzilikazi clinic, in one of the city's high-density suburbs.

A shortage of ambulances is also impairing medical services: only two out of 40 are in use because the spares needed to repair the others are either unobtainable or unaffordable.

Cash crunch

Council spokesman Phathisa Nyathi said the cash crunch had forced the city to suspend all capital projects. "Council is completely broke, and unless and until the NIPC approves the council budget and allows us to review rates periodically, then services will continue to deteriorate, as the hyperinflationary environment does not allow us to complete projects."

NIPC chairman Godwill Masimirembwa said his commission was currently working on council budgets and would soon make an announcement.

Water crisis

The cash shortage has left the municipality unable to purify enough water for Bulawayo's requirements and it has had to resort to water cuts, meaning it has been turning off supplies to various parts of the city at different times.

The city needs five metric tonnes of aluminium sulphate daily to purify raw water from its five supply dams at a cost of Z$14 billion (about US$933 at the parallel market rate of Z$15million to US$1). "Very soon we will run out of the chemicals and we will have no choice except to stop water supplies to residents," Nyathi said.

Blessing Chebundo, chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Health and Child Welfare, warned that the situation in Bulawayo posed a serious health risk, with the possibility of outbreaks of communicable diseases such as cholera and dysentery, or other diarrhoeal diseases. He said it was imperative that government allow the council to charge competitive rates to be able to function.

The council has recently introduced a water levy to help cover the high cost of water-purification chemicals. Residents will be expected to pay a levy of Z$1,621,000 (US$0.10)) per month, while non-domestic users will fork out Z$24 million (about US$1.60) per month.

Migration of employees

The council has also been hit by staff shortages as skilled employees make their way to neighbouring countries in search of better salaries. Bulawayo's fire prevention division recently shut down two of its substations because it no longer had the staff to man them. Chief fire officer Edward Mpofu said the service had also been curtailed by the lack of foreign exchange to procure fuel and buy spares to maintain the fleet of fire engines.

Nomalanga Moyo, a vegetable vendor, said: "There is nothing we can do. Council has no money, so we have to swerve [to avoid] potholes, and if the water is not available we just queue at the boreholes sunk in by non-governmental organisations. There is nothing we can do, council is broke."

Bulawayo's plight reflects the situation in the rest of the country. Zimbabwe is facing a crippling economic crisis, characterised by skyrocketing inflation that has reached 100,000 percent and is still rising, shortages of foreign currency and most of the basic commodities.


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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NGO says Makoni wont break Mugabe's hold


February 25, 2008, 18:00

Zimbabwean NGO, the National Constitutional Assembly, says the chances of
former finance minister Simba Makoni unseating president Robert Mugabe at
next month's general elections are very slim.

The group's chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku, says the institutional framework
and Makoni's lack of support from the grassroots remain his major obstacle.

Madhuku says Makoni is seen as someone who will divide the opposition vote
even further. The Mutambara led-MDC has already thrown its weight behind him

Analysts say as long as the current electoral system and the constitution of
Zimbabwe remain as they are, no-one will unseat Mugabe. Mugabe, who has been
in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has heaped scorn on his
two main opponents, comparing Makoni to a 'puffed-up frog and political
prostitute' and calling MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai a 'puppet of Britain
and the United States'.

The British and US governments have accused the Zimbabwean government of
widespread human rights abuses, stifling dissent and destroying a
once-prosperous economy, which is suffering from inflation of more than 100
000%, mass unemployment and chronic food and fuel shortages.

Most Western nations have imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his top officials.
Additional reporting by Reuters

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Zimbabwe Election Watch : Issue 17


Summary of breaches logged in Issue 17Executive Summary

In an opinion piece titled “Mugabe’s Rigging Nightmare”, political commentator John Makumbe from the University of Zimbabwe points out he has “consistently insisted that Mugabe and Zanu PF have always rigged the elections in order to ‘win’ and retain power since 1985.”

This has been confirmed by comprehensive reports and analyses of the regime’s election rigging modus operandi compiled by civil society organisations and the opposition. Zimbabwe Election Watch (ZEW), first published in October 2004 prior to the March 2005 Parliamentary election, supports these documents by highlighting examples of violations to the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

A glance at early ZEW story headlines reveals the consistency of the regime’s strategy: Food as a Political Weapon, Arrest of Journalists, Student Leader Battles for Life After Savage Attack, Youths Harass Electorate, Repressive New Laws, Proposal to Exclude Some Observers, Non-Residents Excluded From Voting, Police Brainwashed.

This time around, however, Makumbe says Mugabe may find it rather hard to rig the actual elections for a number of reasons. Firstly, “Mugabe and his crumbling party don’t really know who their friends and foes are in this power game come March 29… (and) who among the persons responsible for the rigging machinery are loyal to Mugabe or to Makoni or to Tsvangirai (the three main presidential candidates) …

“Secondly, the Electoral Act provides that, ‘where two or more candidates are nominated and no candidate receives a majority of the total number of valid votes cast, a second election’ must be held within 21 days after the previous election… In the forthcoming election, with three rather strong candidates, the possibility of all the candidates obtaining less than the requisite 51% or higher cannot be ruled out…”

Debating the same scenario, a leading Zimbabwean journalist, Dumisani Muleya, writes that, if Mugabe is forced into a run-off, it would almost certainly give his rival unstoppable momentum, and it is widely held he is unlikely to win 51% of the vote.

The entrance of Zimbabwean businessman and former Zanu PF finance minister Dr Simba Makoni into the equation is “a leap that is a lot bigger than people outside Zimbabwe may appreciate - from the heart of the pernicious Zanu PF politburo into a political showdown with President Mugabe. Mugabe is a dangerous opponent,” writes Diana Games, director of research and publishing company Africa @ Work.

Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chairperson of the South African Institute of International Affairs, notes that “the rise of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC) illustrated more than anything to date the arrival of the African Renaissance. Twenty years after independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had become a transformed society with a rich and complex social structure… In this fast changing and dynamic environment it was the ruling party, Zanu PF that remained unchanged. In fact, the opposite had happened, it had fossilised.”

With the elections only five weeks away, media attention is escalating rapidly. In this issue we’ve touched on a broad selection of stories which can be accessed via the links provided.

Once again the Mugabe regime has splashed out scarce foreign currency to import tear-gas and other anti-riot material from China. In 2002 his shopping list included anti-riot tanks, gas masks and microscopic laser guns.

The regime’s onslaught on all forms of opposition has been relentless and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was appallingly beaten in March, has been a primary target. At this point however, Mugabe’s vitriol is being directed at Dr Makoni.

2007 has been the worst year yet for defenders of freedom with more than 6 000 instances of human rights abuses recorded by Zimbabwean NGOs. Once again members of the Progressive Teachers’ Union have been severely beaten up.

Civic groups, notably the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, report serious problems with respect to critical electoral processes, including voter registration and the delimitation of constituencies. Voter education is totally inadequate and the voters’ roll is in a shambles.

There has been no let-up in the slanted coverage of the electoral campaign by the public broadcaster. The opposition still has virtually no access the state media and a number of independent newspapers remain outlawed, notably the Daily News. Journalists from “hostile” Western nations will reportedly not be accredited.

Corruption remains rife and senior police officers have been given new luxury vehicles - with more perks promised - in exchange for their support. Conversely, flood victims who support the opposition are being denied food aid. MDC ‘Freedom Marches’ have been brutally disrupted or banned.

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Makoni is Mugabe's Creation

By Maxwell Hakunavanhu

The Zimbabwean Government has been fighting for legitimacy over the last ten
years, two elections have come and gone Mugabe's government is only
recognised by a few African and ASIAN states. He rigged all elections except
for the first ones after Zimbabwe independence in 1980. He has ruled the
country with an iron fist and run it to near Stone Age. The country has no
fuel, telephones, electricity, food, water, medicine, roads are now full of
pot-holes even farmers are now using donkeys for draft power. Most of
Zimbabwe expertise has migrated to other countries.

He has ruthlessly dealt with his enemies. Zimbabweans are so scared of
saying thing against him because in every three persons in a crowd one of
them is Mugabe's spy. The spies even extend to SADC region and Europe.

The dreaded CIO or Central Intelligence department of Counter-Intelligence
has managed to make Mugabe stay in power, they have coined many strategies
to convince the world and the country that Mugabe is the only person fit to
rule the country. In the process of their intelligence work, they created
the dissident era whereby the Fifth Brigade massacred more than 20,000
Ndebele speaking Zimbabweans, the descendents of Mzilikazi one of Tshaka
Zulu's strayed chiefs. This was aimed at destroying ZAPU which was led by
Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo. They accused Ndabanengi Sithole of ZANU Mwenje of
trying to overthrow Mugabe by firing at the statehouse where Mugabe stays.

The CIO's department of Counter intelligence recruited Moyo then a critic of
Mugabe and he became the Minister of information. The Minister of
information was involved in the creation of information laws that make
Mugabe a demy-god; no one is allowed to say anything bad about Mugabe. When
the elections where about to come he was said to have been fired by Mugabe
for having decided to contents the elections as an independent. The
organisation created the MDC faction led by the rocket scientist Arthur
Mutambara. The department is also behind silencing of Archbishop Pius Ncube
of the Roman Catholc Church in Zimbabwe using sex scandal they took pictures
of him having sex with a married woman and in sometimes with young boys..

In the Zimbabwe intelligence circles, Moyo, Mutambara and members of his
party are called TS an acronym for top secret. They have typical assignments
which they perform as instructed. Tekere falls within the group, he formed
his ZUM party during the early years of Zimbabwe independence and now he has
rejoined ZANU-PF they forgave him for being a prodigal son.

The department has an effective information system; for counter intelligence
work they use the independent press. Unaware the papers report sensational
stories from the sent information by the department of counter intelligence.
They even pretend to be leaking intelligence information to the independent
press. Included on their pay roll are international papers and monthly

The CIO's department of Counter intelligence is staffed by some of the most
intelligent officers in the world and even work with foreign intelligence
organisations like the Israel Mossad or their contractors or the Angolans
and even the South African intelligence operatives. They are well paid and
have an unlimited budget; their commander reports directly to Mugabe.

Mugabe's intelligence organisation, before an election carry out surveys
about the likelihood of winning an election and most elections he is
informed that legitimately he would lose. The Counter-Intelligence
department works out strategies of rigging the elections ranging from the
creation of new parties, independent individuals, or dummies and even the
delimitation of the country and minimising the urban constituencies, buying
cars for traditional chiefs and direct rigging.

Robert Mugabe's biggest problem is "sanctions"; euphemism for recognition
Thabo Mbeki used the recognition card in the MDC and ZANU-PF talks to
persuade Mugabe to have both the parliamentary and presidential elections at
the same time in March 2008. Usually the presidential elections are held a
years later after the parliamentary elections.

Mugabe is very worried that the MDC led by Tswangirai is going to the
elections and votes. ZANU-PF has rigged the elections through delimitation
of continuances, the higher numbers of members of parliament are going to
come from rural areas, but counting individual votes will result in
Tsvangirai's MDC having more votes and becoming the president, but with
majority ZANU-PF members of parliament.

The March 2008 elections have been a big assignment for the CIO's department
of Counter intelligence. The best solution for them to overcome this problem
is to split the votes by bringing other players. They used their TS or top
secret weapons like Moyo and Mutambara's MDC. They have gone to introduce a
new player Makoni who will contest the elections as an independent.

Intelligence reports have measured and found Makoni as the most suitable
candidate who can woe the educated voters who happen to be MDC supporters
and are urban dwellers. This week Makoni made an announcement that I quote
"having realised the suffering of Zimbabweans and the decision at the
ZANU-PF December 2007 Congress to retain Robert Mugabe as ZANU-PF
presidential candidate I felt I should contest the elections as an
independent" Unquote.

The elections are four weeks away, Makoni has not campaigned, he is not
known in the rural areas and he does not even have a party. Neither is he
employed, who is going to fund his campaign? It is very expensive to run for
president given the Zimbabwean inflation which is more than 18,000%
officially. Fuel is more than U$13.50 per litre and to cover the urban areas
at minimum, one would need more than U$100,000.00 in 5 days

Robert Mugabe' folly and advantage was to educate the Zimbabwean nation. The
Zimbabweans are aware that Makoni is a tool being used. Makoni has come in
the press and refuted the allegation. Mugabe's advantage is Zimbabweans are
too educated and are not prepared to die.

If Mugabe wins the March 2008 elections the "sanctions" or recognition
factor will still remain and Thabo Mbeki has only a year in office. Jacob
Zuma is coming in to rule South Africa, he has had a rough ride and one of
them is to prove to the West that he is not a monster and does not entertain
criminality. Despots like Mugabe and his CIO's department of Counter
intelligence have numbered days.

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Election Violence Increases

The Zimbabwean

 Monday, 25 February 2008 15:27

MUZARABANI - In the bitter run-up to Zimbabwe's landmark general elections,
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party has waged a low-intensity war
aimed at destroying the opposition MDC, human rights groups said this week.

Pro-democracy group Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) said in a
report the suburbs of Manyame Park, Zengeza and St Mary's - hotbed of
opposition to President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu (PF) - were under an
unofficial curfew, with police banning night meetings.
"Some (police) officers operating within these areas are taking it upon
themselves to impose unofficial curfew on the youths," the ZimRights report
says. "Some concerned youths complain that some police details are harassing
and ordering them to stay indoors after dusk, accusing the youths of
organising opposition meetings as if it is a crime."
The Harare townships that enthusiastically support the opposition have been
subjected to assaults by Zanu (PF) mobs and police, who recently had their
salaries massively ramped.
A similar campaign is now under way in the countryside. Particularly
ferocious have been attempts to root the MDC out of the three Mashonaland
provinces of northern Zimbabwe that have been Zanu (PF)'s traditional
heartland. There are also escalating incidents of violence by Zanu (PF)
supporters against supporters of Simba Makoni in Manicaland, his home
Scores of opposition supporters in the rural areas are being forced to
renounce their allegiance to the opposition MDC or to the new presidential
aspirant, Makoni. They are being told that the MDC was a party for whites,
backed by the British, and have to be paraded at ruling party rallies
announcing that they are rejoining Zanu-PF.
Tendai Munemo (a pseudonym) was forced to stand before a rally to renounce
the MDC. He used to be one of the MDC's branch officials in Muzarabani, in
Mashonaland central province.
Narrating his ordeal to The Zimbabwean, he said: "They started to beat me
with canes and knobkerries saying, 'You are MDC, you must die.' They said
they would burn down my house and beat my family too."
Tendai had heard how Robson Tinarwo, an MDC youth leader in nearby Shamva,
had been attacked by Zanu (PF) activists and had refused to renounce his
party. They had beaten him unconscious with metal rods. Witnesses reported
the case to the police, but no action was taken.
"I felt I must protect my family. My wife was crying and my daughter was
screaming," Tendai said. "They were beating them and tearing their clothes.
I knew they were going to rape them and make me watch. So I said, 'All
right, I will leave MDC.' I felt terrible.
"They said, 'You must give us your party card and T-shirt.' They said I must
spit at the picture of Morgan Tsvangirai on the T-shirt. I did it. 'Now you
must join Zanu (PF) and sing party songs with us,' they said. While I sang,
they kept beating me."
Next morning the tormentors returned and demanded that he tell them the
names of all the other MDC officials in the district, he said.
"They made me point out their houses. Then they gave me a whip and said,
'Now you must lead the beating.' I was hoping that my comrades were away.
But some were home.
"I will never forget their faces. It must have been how Jesus looked at
Judas. In most cases they renounced the MDC but one was very brave and
refused. I whipped him and whipped him and I was crying to him, 'Please give
up.' In the end, one of them hit him unconscious with a knobkerrie."
He has secretly made contact with MDC officials again since, but they loath
to trust him. The Zimbabwean heard that there have been scores of public
renunciations in the rural areas. There have been similar scenes - often
involving threats of hut-burning and rape - in other rural areas. In Shamva
alone last week there were reported serious assaults.
Even this may be dwarfed by the retribution the Mugabe government seems to
be planning for the MDC-voting masses of the Harare townships.

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Who will make sure elections are free and fair?

The Zimbabwean

Monday, 25 February 2008 08:40
The South African government says that if the Zimbabweans implement
everything they agreed to in their negotiations mediated by President Thabo
Mbeki, their March 29 elections should be free and fair, writes Peter
Fabricius in the Sunday Independent, Johannesburg.
 But who is going to ensure they comply?, he asks.

 The Zimbabwean government made it clear on Friday that only friendly
governments and organisations would be invited to observe the poll. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) believes the elections
cannot be free and fair because President Robert Mugabe has already refused
to implement important things he agreed to in the negotiations, especially a
new constitution. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the foreign minister, was asked at
a press conference on Monday what the prospects were for free and fair
elections in these circumstances. She replied: "Well, the view of the South
African government is that if the Zimbabweans implement everything that they
have agreed upon during their negotiations. (if they implement the laws
passed by parliament around security, information, media and all those
laws) . the prospects for free and fair elections should be good."

But, leaving aside the MDC's concerns about the lack of a new
constitution, who will be in Zimbabwe to observe whether these other
agreements are implemented? Zanu PF and the MDC never agreed that they
should have a joint say in who could monitor the elections to ensure a full
range of observers. And George Charamba, Mugabe's spokesman, made it clear
on Friday that, once again, only countries or organisations that had not
criticised past elections would be invited. This included South Africa and
all other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. It was
the SADC leaders who mandated Mbeki's mediation mission. Charamba said the
South African government would be especially welcome as it would want to
observe the results of its mediation. He said SADC itself would also be
invited as well as the East and West African regional blocs, the African
Union, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and certain developing world
countries such as China.

Zimbabwe would not - "and I repeat, not" - invite the European Union
(EU), although, intriguingly, Charamba suggested that one or two specific
but unnamed European states would be invited. Ronnie Mamoepa, the spokesman
for the department of foreign affairs, responded by expressing South
Africa's willingness to send an observer mission, either on its own or as
part of the SADC. On past performance, Charamba's announcement means that no
observers will issue critical reports of the March 29 elections. After the
2000 parliamentary elections, the EU monitors issued a critical report and
were not invited back. After the 2002 presidential elections, the
Commonwealth observer mission said it was unable to certify the election as
free and fair. This led to Zimbabwe being suspected from the Commonwealth
and so the Commonwealth has never been invited back.

That year SADC - that is, the 14 governments in the organisation -
declared itself satisfied with the elections. But the SADC parliamentary
forum - which includes not only ruling parties but also opposition political
parties from the region - did not approve the election. So it was denied
observer status at the 2005 parliamentary elections, except as a member of
the official SADC mission, which it declined, as this would have compromised
its autonomy. Other entities whose applications to observe the 2005
elections were turned down included Cosatu, Norway, the United States, the
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa - a Johannesburg-based NGO that
specialises in monitoring Southern African elections - and the Zimbabwe
Observer Consortium, a group of South African NGOs including the South
African Council of Churches and the South African NGO Coalition. South
Africa has pronounced itself satisfied with all these elections, though some
non-government members of the observer mission have issued dissenting
minority reports.

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Zimbabwe Diaspora vote protest in Washington DC

The Zimbabwe Global Forum, with the very active participation of the North
American Province of the MDC, organized a protest outside the Zimbabwe
embassy in Washington, DC on Friday, February 22. Protestors marched from
Lafayette Park near the White House to the Zimbabwe embassy. They sang and
held high their placards demanding the right of the Zimbabweans in Diaspora
to vote.

For more details go to the link below. Please note the pictures take a
little to fully load.

My thanks to all who braved the weather and took part in the demo.

Stanford G. Mukasa

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Hoping for a miracle

Aid to the Church in Need - An international Catholic charity dependent on the Holy See, providing pastoral relief to needy and oppressed churches.

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Can Makoni be our Barak Obama?

25th Feb 2008 01:55 GMT

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

IT'S still months away from November when the United States decides who
should take over from George W. Bush, a two-term president who tried, but
failed miserably, to give "the fight against terrorism" a respectable name.

Barak Obama, who has edged nearer towards being the Democratic presidential
candidate than any African-American has ever done, might still make it to
the White House.

His campaign, anchored on the need for "change" from the old style cronyism
of Washington politics, has appealed to many young people, black and white.

He is ten years younger than Simba Makoni who, although he has created the
most exciting election drama in Zimbabwe since Edgar Tekere challenged
Robert Mugae in 1990, has a campaign also anchored on a change of sorts.

The difference between them is that Makoni has been an "Establishment"
politician for quite a number of years. He has sat on the front benches as a
cabinet minister in Mugabe's government.

Obama, on the other hand, has been a Senator for a few years, but was never
in the government. This is even allowing for the fact that with a Republican
president in charge for the past two terms, he couldn't have been in
government in any case.

Still, his promise of change in the way Washington conducts politics on
behalf of the people of the US struck the right note for many Democrats.

Makoni's major impediment as someone wielding a huge scythe aimed at jugular
of "old politics" in Zimbabwe is that he has been part of it for a long

Morgan Tsvangirai, the only MDC presidential candidate, has largely
political reasons for reminding voters of Makoni's Zanu PF past. Yet he
cannot be faulted for bringing it up: Makoni was, for a while at least, part
of The Establishment which wreaked havoc on the economy.

When he left in undisguised disgust a few years ago, most of his
sympathizers hoped and prayed he would purge himself of any traces of all
Zanu PF-isms, including the impunity, the duplicity, the dedication to
violence, the capacity for mendacity, which have all been the hallmarks of
the Mugabe era since independence.

Makoni himself has pledged a new era, if elected president, as different
from the Zanu PF brand of politics as night is from day: the prospect of a
government of national unity, which he has said would be his aim, would
introduce, perhaps for the first time in Zimbabwe, the politics of

A parliamentary democracy may not the ideal place for such a brand of
radical politics. The idea is to maintain the cut and thrust of debate which
characterises participatory democracy, with the so-called "loyal opposition"
still opposing, whenever it wishes, any legislation proposed by the

A government of national unity, on the other hand, is a milder form of the
one-party system without the ingredients of dictatorship that are so
attractive to  Zanu PF.

Why people are cynical of Makoni's claim to be entirely independent of Zanu
PF's or Mugabe's patronage is the party's record of duplicity.

The unity accord with PF Zapu is now almost in tatters, largely because
Mugabe's party has been contemptuous of all criticism of Gukurahundi, the
massacre in the 1980s of almost 20 000 people in the so-called dissident war
against former Zipra combatants allegedly bent on overthrowing the Mugabe

Joshua Nkomo, when he returned from exile in the UK and joined the Mugabe
government is said to have believed he had avoided an " Angola " situation -
Jonas Savimbi's bloody struggle against the MPLA government of first, the
late Agostinho Neto, and later of Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Zanu PF has not handled the aftermath of Gukurahundi well at all. If it was
truly the "moment of madness" that Mugabe said it was, then there should be
no doubt about compensation for the survivors or the relatives of those
butchered by the 5 Brigade.

But to say, as Nathan Shamuyarira of Zanu PF once did, that many Shonas were
killed in the massacre, sounds so patently false it must have turned many
against the unity accord.

Moreover, there is some mystification among even those deeply sympathetic to
Makoni's challenge to Mugabe at his initial insistence that "I am still a
Zanu PF member".

That sounds as if there was an esoteric element in Zanu PF membership which
a member cannot repudiate willy-nilly, like a Knight of the Round Table
suddenly denouncing that hallowed group of warriors.

There is little doubt that there are prominent figures within Zanu PF who
sympathise with Makoni. What seems clear is that all of them desire very
much to get rid of Mugabe as their leader.

They have so far failed to achieve their aims through the channels of the
party. During two important party conferences - the people's conference in
Goromonzi in 2006 and the extraordinary congress in 2007 -  vigorous
attempts were mounted to constitutionally bar Mugabe from standing as the
party's candidate in 2008.

Mugabe outmanouvered his opponents, and the December 2007 congress finally
endorsed his candidature. It has now been confirmed that it was at that
congress that someone else, and not Mugabe, was to be endorsed as the
presidential candidate.

Whether it was the prominent role of Jabulani Sibanda, a presumed Mugabe
trouble-shooter, at that congress who turned the tables in his "master's"
favour is difficult to confirm.

But it would seem that all the players backing Makoni's bid to challenge
Mugabe for the party presidency had pinned their hopes on that congress
ditching Mugabe.

There is now clearly open warfare among the feuding Zanu PF camps. Some of
the tactics, featuring the usually heavy-handed participation of the Central
Intelligence agency (CIO), could degenerate into bloodshed.

There is so much at stake, it is said people are willing to resort to
extreme methods to prevent the change that Makoni envisages. For instance,
Makoni last week mentioned party bigwigs having, not just two, but six to
eight farms, all of them the spoils of the land reform programme, ostensibly
launched by Mugabe to "redress" the inequities of colonialism.

Even Mugabe himself, speaking in an interview on his 84th birthday, boasted
of how much his farming was proceeding apace.

It didn't seem odd to him that he could wax so lyrical about his own
personal achievements while ordinary people could quite often not find maize
meal, the staple, in the supermarkets, many of them denuded of their stocks
after his 2007 price blitz.

Makoni struck a populist note when he said, right from the beginning, that
he shared the people's "pain" of deprivation.

It is important to remember that Tsvangirai, who has traveled that path
before, also shared the people's pain - and twice he could not convince them
to vote for him and ditch Mugabe.

Tsvangirai has never been tainted - as some people would call it - with the
Zanu PF whiff of corruption, duplicity and general skullduggery. Yet he has
still not succeeded in dislodging Mugabe.

Does Makoni, using Barak Obama's "change" slogan, stand a better chance
against Mugabe? Or will voters see so many similarities between him and his
former mentor that they will prefer Tsvangirai, who has never set foot in
the Establishment?

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Rally for Dignity! and Democracy

Rally for Dignity! and Democracy in Zimbabwe




International Women’s Day,

Saturday 8th March 2008




Trafalgar Square, London



Celebrating and highlighting the struggle for dignity, democracy and basic human rights in Zimbabwe and the key role that women are playing.


3 weeks ahead of elections, it is a chance to support the Dignity! Period. campaign and support the efforts by civil society for free and fair elections.



Speakers include:


Lucia Matibenga, Vice-President Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions

Takavafira Zhou, President, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe

Maureen Kademaunga, Gender and Human Rights Officer, Zimbabwe National Students’ Union


And many other high profile speakers from UK government and civil society



The rally is followed by the Zimbabwe Vigil outside the Zimbabwean Embassy at 14.00 and at 15.30 the Million Women Rise Rally to end violence against women in Trafalgar Square.


Please contact or phone 020 3263 2001 to let us know if you are coming


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Lest we forget- the farmers of Zimbabwe


Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up
again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the
streets of every city in the land (William Jennings Bryan, 9 July 1896).

How prophetic these words are proving to be for Zimbabwe, although in making
this statement Bryan could never have dreamt of a government purposefully
destroying it's own farms. The Zimbabwe Government's campaign to obliterate
commercial agriculture through illegal and violent means in the interest of
retaining power, under the guise of agrarian reform, has been largely
effective. A major part of this campaign has been incessant propaganda,
based on a mass of distortions and lies, designed to give it respectability.
As a continuation of this campaign, there have been further deceptions to
give the impression that the pretence of agrarian reform has been
successful. It can be expected also that there will be attempts to mask the
past achievements of the commercial farmers. It would be a tragedy if these
truly remarkable achievements and the tragic sufferings of these farmers
were not fully documented, before distortions become accepted history.

Virgin land

The first white hunters, traders and missionaries who, in the 19th century
came to the region which was to become Rhodesia and subsequently Zimbabwe,
found a land devoid of infrastructure. The wheel was not yet in use and so
there were not even roads. Early travellers record travelling often for days
without seeing any human habitation. With a population of about a quarter of
a million people at that time, indeed most of the land area was not
occupied. Commercial farming started in the 1890s on what was, for the most
part, virgin land, which had never been farmed before. There were no access
roads, there was no electricity or telephone; there were no boreholes,
pumps, windmills, dams, irrigation schemes; there were no cattle dips, barns
or any other farm buildings.

These first farmers had to discover how to contend with predators that
killed their livestock and other animals that consumed their crops; how to
control diseases, pests and parasites of livestock and crops that were
foreign to them. While some guidance could be drawn from South Africa,
methods used in the developed world, based on knowledge and experience built
up over many generations, had limited application as the local climate, soil
and vegetation were vastly different.


From this starting point, fraught with difficulties, agriculture developed
faster than it had anywhere else in the world. Within a few decades the
agricultural infrastructure was developed and the country became
self-sufficient in most agricultural products, in many cases with production
levels and quality already equal to, or better than, those in the developed
world. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Year Book of 1975 ranked the
then Rhodesia second in the world in terms of yields of maize, wheat, soya
beans and groundnuts, and third for cotton. In the combined ranking for all
these crops Rhodesia ranked first in the world. Some of these rankings were,
in fact, reached long before 1975. Rhodesian Virginia tobacco was rated the
best in the world in yield and quality, while maize entries in world
championships were consistently placed in the first three places. The world's
largest single citrus producer was developed early in the country's history.
The highest quality breeding stock of numerous breeds of cattle, sheep,
goats, pigs and poultry were imported, while the indigenous cattle were
developed through breeding and selection to highly productive and respected
breeds. The Tuli, for example, has been imported into a number of other
countries. Zimbabwe beef was favourably regarded on the most discerning
European markets. Wildlife was incorporated into farming systems to develop
a highly successful eco-tourism industry and endangered species found their
most secure havens on farm conservancies.

Zimbabwe was the world's second largest exporter of flue-cured tobacco and,
together with exports of maize, soyabeans, cotton, sugar, coffee, tea,
fruit, vegetables, flowers and beef, agriculture became the major
contributor to the gross domestic product, the greatest foreign currency
earner and it provided more employment than any other industry. Zimbabwe
earned the reputation of the breadbasket of central Africa.

To-day foreign aid is considered indispensable for development in the
developing world, but agriculture, as with all other industries, was
developed in Rhodesia with no such aid. The commercial farmers also did not
benefit from the free seed, fertilizer, tillage and other inputs currently
being dispensed in an effort to induce production from the resettled farms.
However, the agricultural departments and training colleges set up by the
colonial government, to service all farming sectors regardless of colour,
played a crucial part in the development of agriculture. Without the
outstanding contributions of the Department of Veterinary Services the
livestock industry could not have developed and exports of animal products
could not have been established. The Department of Research and Specialist
Services and the Tobacco Research Board developed improved crop varieties
for local and regional use and researched optimum crop and livestock
nutrition and management techniques. The Department of Conservation and
Extension was established to ensure that the land was farmed in accordance
with its potential for sustainable production. It provided a sophisticated
farm planning service, agricultural extension and specialist advisory
services. These departments, employing highly qualified and dedicated staff,
and were rated among the best in the world and the agricultural colleges
turned out farmers of the highest calibre.

Outposts of civilization

The benefits accruing to the country from the commercial farming sector
extended far beyond the value of agricultural products and employment. The
farmers contributed to the fabric and welfare of society out of all
proportion to their numbers. It was largely this fact that was to make them
the prime target of a government desperately clinging to power. Each farm
was, to a greater or lesser extent, an outpost of civilization. Many farms
established schools for the children of their workers, every farm was a
clinic and dispensary and an ambulance service for the surrounding areas.
The relationship between farmer and worker was more intimate and benevolent
than in any other industry and commercial farmers were exemplary neighbours
to the communal area peasant farmers, providing unpaid help in many ways. It
was from the agricultural shows organized by farmers that the Central
African Trade Fair grew.

All these contributions to the growth of the economy and the welfare of the
country came from fewer than five thousand farmers, on less than half the

Terrorist targets

After the Rhodesian Government's unilateral declaration of independence in
1965 it was the tenacity and initiative of the farmers in diversification
that helped the country to survive the comprehensive sanctions that were
imposed upon it. The few agricultural products that had hitherto been
imported were quickly brought into production locally. But it was the
farmers who bore the brunt of the terrorist attacks during the ensuing
Rhodesian war. They were under continuous threat of armed attacks on their
homes, ambushes, and land mines; many farmers and their family members and
workers were murdered. And yet they were able to continue production.
Independence in 1980 brought relief from this to most of the country but not
in Matabeleland. Here attacks by "dissidents" resulted in even more farmers
being murdered than had been the case during the war.

From the mid 1980s there followed a period of little more than a decade of
comparative normality, during which farmers had to contend only with drastic
shortages of many inputs. It is worth noting that during the first two
decades of the post independence period the government was encouraging the
continuance of commercial agriculture. It claimed first option rights on all
land sales but considerable normal change of ownership occurred with the
government issuing certificates of no interest.

The worst nightmare for the farmers was to come from 2000 onwards. In 2000
an unrigged referendum was held on the Zimbabwe Government's proposed
alterations to the constitution and it came as an unbearable shock to the
ruling ZANU (PF) party when the result showed that they did not have
majority support. From this time on the government's prime focus was on
retaining power at any cost. The farmers, although making up a minute
fraction of the population, were seen as key supporters of the opposition
who could influence their large labour force and hence other rural people,
potentially the government's main support base. The farmers were therefore
first to be punished by vindictive and brutal attacks and then driven from
their farms so that they could no longer make a meaningful contribution to
the opposition. Disguising this under such emotive rhetoric as "agrarian
reform", "land redistribution to the landless" and "recovery of stolen land"
has deceived and earned the support of many naïve observers and has provided
an excuse for other knowing, but equally malevolent leaders, to support
these actions. At the same time as removing opposition support, those
incited by the government to invade the farms and those to whom dispossessed
land was given could be expected to be loyal government party supporters.
Genuine land reform would have been an orderly process starting and
continuing gradually after independence, rather than a violent campaign
suddenly instituted 20 years after independence when the ruling party's
power was threatened.

This "land reform" took the form of state-sponsored terrorism conducted by
rabid bands of so-called war veterans or, as political analyst John Makumbe
has put it, "ZANU (PF) hoodlums and hired hands". The findings of the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum Report were that it was a government-planned
seizure of land, not a spontaneous seizure by landless blacks, as claimed by
the government. In this government-sponsored frenzy farmers and their
workers were violently abused physically and many were murdered, their
property was wantonly destroyed, their farm animals and pets were cruelly
maimed and killed, and wild life was decimated. Farmers and their families
lived for extended periods in a state of siege surrounded by armed thugs. To
add insult to injury, these people would often demand favours and assistance
from the farmers. Many farmers were illegally detained and ultimately the
unbearable pressure, or the direct threat to their lives, has forced more
than 90% of the farmers off their farms. According to the Human Rights Forum
Report, more than 10 000 farm workers are believed to have died after their
expulsion from farms, as a consequence of loss of employment, housing,
nutrition and access to health care on the farms.

Total loss

It is difficult for city dwellers to fully comprehend the enormity of what
has happened to these farmers. Apart from the abuse, violent attacks and
cold blooded murders, farmers in one sweep lost their homes, their land,
their crops, their animals and their equipment; they have had their
businesses, built up often over more than a generation, closed down, their
livelihood terminated; all this with, as yet, no compensation or insurance
coverage. Farm workers too have been left homeless and unemployed. Through
all of this there was no one to whom the farmers could turn for help and
there was no public protest on their behalf. There was no recourse to law as
the law was no longer applied and court rulings were ignored. The police
were usually fully aware of what was happening, often supporting or
participating in the violence. There was even a case where a police road
block knowingly allowed free passage to cars carrying armed assassins on
their way to murder a farmer; and then allowed them free return after the
deed was done.


Most of the farms now lie largely derelict and unproductive. Many are
occupied, not by the peasants the campaign was proclaimed to provide for but
by ruling party cronies, army, police and church leaders, favoured in order
to win political allegiance. Although the farms were taken over as fully
functional concerns, production immediately fell to such low levels that the
country now faces widespread starvation and is dependent on food aid. Dr. J.
L. Grant, former Deputy Director of the Commercial Farmers Union, estimates
that the production of maize and soyabeans has fallen by more than 50%,
while tobacco and coffee production has declined by more than 75%. The
commercial beef herd has declined by more than 80% and this, together with
lack of control of stock movements and consequent outbreaks of foot and
mouth disease, means that beef can no longer be exported.

In a recent radio interview the Zimbabwe Minister of Lands and Resettlement
was asked why it was that Zimbabwe, formerly referred to as the breadbasket
of central Africa, was now suffering perpetual severe food shortages.
Drought has been the usual excuse offered for this, even in seasons of
adequate rainfall, but on this occasion the excuse given was that it took
time for new farmers to get into production. This was in spite of the fact
that they took over established farms, often with standing crops.
Ironically, within days of this interview it was reported that, as a result
of displaced Zimbabwe farmers settling in Zambia, within one season that
country already had an exportable surplus of maize.

What has happened to the economy of Zimbabwe, mainly as a result of the
destruction of its farms, is now evident to all.

So much was owed by so many to the initiative, enterprise, energy and
courage of so few; and yet, when the farmers were being persecuted, no one
intervened on their behalf. It is hoped that the amazing story of the
farmers of Zimbabwe will be recorded more fully and published, that the
perpetrators of the crimes committed against them will be brought to justice
and that they will receive fair compensation for their persecution and

When a new season is heralded by the brilliant spring colours of the msasa
trees, by the fresh green grass and the frolicking of new- born calves, we
will remember them.



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Successful Zim litigation over violence

Case note on Loveness Chigega vs Anthony Jaji, Milton Kange, Orgie Munetsi
and Harrison Zuze HC 5386/06

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is pleased to share with partners and
stakeholders the successful litigation and completion of the case of
Loveness Chigega vs Anthony Jaji, Milton Kange, Orgie Munetsi and Harrison
Zuze HC 5386/06 (hereinafter called the defendants).

This case arose out of the assault of the late Alexander Chigega, Loveness
Chigega and their whole family by the defendants who are ZANU PF supporters
for allegedly being supporters of the MDC. Mr Alexander Chigega died as a
result of the assault by the defendants while Mrs Chigega survived but
sustained serious injuries to her person, upon which the claim she lodged
was founded. The defendants perpetrated the assault on the night of the 4th
January 2004.

The High Court of Zimbabwe sitting on the 12th of February 2008 awarded Mrs
Chigega compensatory damages totalling $4,750 billion, being $3,5 billion
for pain and suffering, $500 million for contumelia and $750 million for
loss and destruction of property. Interest is payable on this amount at 35%
per year according to the prescribed rate of interest and the defendants are
liable to pay jointly or severally, the one paying the other to be absolved.
We are now pursuing payment.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum represented Mrs Chigega in this case. The
Forum provides legal aid services to victims of Organised Violence and
Torture through the Public Interest Unit.

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Police Search, Seizure of Exhibits Unconstitutional - Van Hoogstraten

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

23 February 2008
Posted to the web 25 February 2008


BUSINESS tycoon Nicholas Von Hessen (also known as Van Hoogstraten)
yesterday described the search and seizure of exhibits by the police from
his premises without a search warrant as "unconstitutional".

Von Hessen who is facing two counts of dealing in foreign currency by
charging US$4 600 as rentals for his Hillside property and exchanging $6,5
billion for US$1 000 on the black market alleged that the police assaulted
him and his two employees.

The businessman also claimed that some of the documents seized among them
company records and books had nothing to do with the case. He further
claimed that the trap set by the police when they arrested him was illegal.

Through his lawyer, Mr George Chikumbirike of Chikumbirike and Associates,
Von Hessen has applied for the return of the documents and have them
declared invalid as exhibits.

Von Hessen is also seeking an order to have the matter referred to the
Supreme Court for determination on the constitutional issues raised if the
lower court could not grant a favourable ruling.

"The accused person's rights in respect of all counts were violated. In fact
they were trampled upon," Mr Chikumbirike said.

According to Mr Von Hessen's affidavit, detectives violently forced their
vehicle into the premises after assaulting a security guard and once inside
the premises they allegedly assaulted a maid.

Responding to the applications, prosecutor Mr Obi Mabahwana said the trap
was legal and the court should dismiss the defence's application as
frivolous and vexatious.

He further argued that there was no need for the police to seek a search
warrant before seizing the foreign currency in a case in which Von Hessen
received US$4 600 as rent because the cash was trap money.

Mr Mabahwana also submitted that on the second charge, in which the
businessman is being accused of exchanging $6,5 billion for US$1 000, there
was no need for a search warrant since he was dealing.

Above all, Mr Mabahwana said, detectives procedurally sought a search
warrant for the exchange control charges.

Commenting on the seized photographs, Mr Mabahwana said the police did not
have any search warrant, but leaving the photographs and rushing to the
station to obtain a warrant was tantamount to rendering the police

"It would be unreasonable for the police to rush back to the station upon
stumbling upon another offence to seek a warrant of search," he said.

Harare regional magistrate Mr Morgen Nemadire deferred the proceedings to
March 19 when Mr Mabahwana is expected to continue with his response on the

Von Hessen on Wednesday had two of his charges quashed by the same court
leaving three other charges.

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Regarding the upcoming elections on 29th March

African Path

February 25, 2008 10:21 AM

The Global Zimbabwe Forum would like to express its dire concern at the
current state of the preparations for the forthcoming harmonized elections
that are due to be held in Zimbabwe on 29th March 2008.

We would like as Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, to state in no uncertain terms
our unequivocal stance on the following issues:

  1.. The outcome of the forthcoming elections will be highly compromised by
the fact that over three million eligible voters who are now living outside
Zimbabwe will be excluded from participating in the process. We believe that
the exclusion of the Diaspora vote is a fundamental flow that brings the
credibility of the elections into question.

  2.. We also note with concern the rather inconclusive nature of the SADC
mediation process that was being led by President Thabo Mbeki. Should
Zimbabweans expected more from this rather protracted process.

  3.. We further call upon SADC and Africa in general to ensure that the
elections are held in accordance with the expectations of the SADC Protocol
on Elections that was adopted in Mauritius in August 2004.

  4.. We urge all the interested political parties and independent
candidates in the forthcoming elections to promote a spirit of peaceful
election campaign process. Political violence must be condemned

  5.. We endorse current efforts to mobilize some Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora especially those living in the SADC region to return home and vote
in the forthcoming elections.

  6.. While we respect the individual members? preferences of candidates of
their own, we do not endorse any candidates in the elections since we are a
politically non-partisan organization but urge the Zimbabwean electorate to
vote for a candidate who will seek to promote the democratic ideals of
Zimbabwe especially the interests of the diverse Diaspora community.

  7.. We urge all Zimbabweans at home to go turn out in their numbers on
29th March and fully exercise their right to elect the leaders of their own

Issued in Johannesburg on Monday 25th February 2008 by

Mr. Daniel Molokele
Telephone: +27729474815

Ms. Grace Kwinjeh
Telephone: +27794344508

Mr. Mandla-akhe Dube
Vice Chairperson
Telephone: +6421348288

Mr. Canaan Mhlanga
North America Region
Telephone: +7782373072

Mr. Simbarashe Chirimubwe
Rest of Africa Region
Telephone: +267-71910712

Mr. Promise Mkwananzi
Europe Region
Telephone: +31612697629

Mr. Luke Zunga
South Africa Region
Telephone: +27835281561

Prof. Stan Mukasa
North America Region
Telephone: +724 467 0001

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Mugabe dresses down Mat South governor

New Zimbabwe

By Lindie Whiz
Last updated: 02/25/2008 23:49:29
AN ATTEMPT to curry favour with President Robert Mugabe ended in
embarrassment for Matabeleland South governor Angeline Masuku last Saturday,
when the 84-year-old leader told her point blank: "I don't trust you."

Masuku was left shell shocked after Mugabe - who was in Beitbridge to
celebrate his 84th birthday -- appeared to reject her assurances that Zanu
PF would win elections in the province next month.

Masuku was briefing President Mugabe at a closed door meeting also attended
by Zanu PF officials and traditional leaders when she met the unexpected

A source who attended the meeting revealed: "Masuku first briefed the
President on the food situation, farming prospects, and other government
projects in her province. Things went well until she came to the elections.

"She told the president that everyone in her province was solidly behind
Mugabe and the party would win all seats and wards and the presidential
election there.

"Mugabe, who all along listened quietly, interjected and said 'we will see
that on March 30' (a day after the polls). Masuku looked shuttered by those
comments, and we all felt for her in the room.

"She suddenly lost her confidence as she continued with the last part of her
presentation. She went on to say even chiefs could vouch for her that the
people in the province were behind Zanu PF and the President.

"She turned to the chiefs and said: 'Tell the President what you have always
told me. He wants to hear it from you'."

Chief Mzimuni Masuku is said to have volunteered to save the day for the
red-faced governor after the other five elderly chiefs appeared not so eager
to speak at the occasion.

Our source revealed: "The young chief assured Mugabe that the people were
behind him. The chief quickly switched into thanking the president for
giving traditional leaders cars, scotch carts, ploughs and other farming
implements and money."

Other officials who attended the briefing said Masuku and the Zanu PF
provincial leadership were shaken by Mugabe's comments, which implied that
he doubted their sincerity.

Zanu PF leaders in Matabeleland - most of whom rely on Mugabe for
appointments into high office after losing elections - are known to seek
favours from Mugabe by briefing against each other and not revealing the
true extent of his government's unpopularity.

Masuku in particular has been mentioned in connection with politicians
within Zanu PF who are opposed Mugabe's continued stay in power. Zanu PF
insiders said they felt Mugabe used the occasion to show that he doubted the
province's loyalty to him.

Zanu PF has only has two House of Assembly seats in Matabeleland South won
during the 2005 parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, police details had a tough time stopping school children from
trooping out of Dulibadzimu Stadium -- venue of Mugabe's birthday bash.
Mugabe arrived at the venue around 2PM Saturday, while the school kids had
been paraded at the sun-scorched venue as early as 7AM.

In addition to the heat, the pupils also complained of hunger. Police
officers formed a cordon and made sure the children do not leave until after
4PM when the official programme was over.

Efforts to coerce locals to attend the bash failed, leaving the organisers
to rely on schools to bring their pupils. Apart from Zanu PF political
commissar Elliot Manyika's energetic singing and toyi-toying, this year's
event was dull and poorly-attended compared to previous events.

Mugabe used the occasion to fire salvos at his opponents in the March 29
polls -- Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai. Even MDC faction leader, Arthur
Mutambara, got flak from Mugabe's for not contesting and lending his support
to Makoni.

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Plastic Containers in Zimbabwe Save the Day Economically


By Fazila Mohamed
Harare, Zimbabwe
25 February 2008

In Zimbabwe, plastic containers, commonly known as "chigubus" now rank among
the most desired items in the country. Demand has soared, partly as result
of irregular fuel supplies. Consumers facing water shortages also fill the
containers when the liquid is available, ensuring they have some stored for
later use. Voice of America English to Africa reporter Fazila Mohamed says
the second-hand trade in plastic containers has boomed in direct correlation
to increasing fuel shortages.

Lack of petrol forces motorists to keep at least one or two containers handy
for storage purposes. But motorists aren't the only ones hoarding the items.
Consumers desperate to avoid water shortages also hang onto the containers.
They fill up as many of the Chigubus as possible when water is
available, ensuring they have a back-up supply when taps run dry.

A pensioner who lives in the suburb of Glen Lorne says she keeps more than a
dozen containers filled at all times, as the area sometimes has no water for
weeks on end, "I keep Chigubus in my house is because there's inadequate
water. Water comes once in a while and I'm a pensioner and I can not carry
twenty five liters of water so I have them all is five liter Chigubus and I
have 16 or 18 in my house and I make sure I always have water on hand."

Innovative entrepreneurs have turned this skyrocketing need into a thriving
business. Many now make a living by selling containers of all sizes, shapes
and colors at exorbitant rates. One major container outlet is situated at
the Mbare market. A 20-liter container costs from nine to 25-million
Zimbabwe dollars. Others sell the containers on the side of suburban roads
or highways.

One vendor who introduced himself only as Tafadzwa says he considers
himself a Chigubu dealer. Standing under a blue umbrella, his informal
outlet is situated on Lomagundi road next to a bus stop.

He says, "There is a very big demand for all types of containers. We are
selling everyday. I myself am running short ads. It's becoming expensive to
find the Chigubu's. Even at the market the prices are changing all the time.
But it's a good business. At least I am not unemployed. I can make some
money because I am selling to the people in the suburbs so I get good

Traveling around Harare it's hard not to see someone carrying either a two,
five or 20 liter container. Also plastic buckets are becoming increasingly
popular. Residents say they prefer storing food supplies -- such as maize
meal, rice, sugar and flour - in buckets, making the Chigubu concept even
more useful.

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