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Monday 8th January to Sunday 14th January 2001
SUMMARY · All sections of the media gave the Bikita West by-election extensive coverage.  However, while the public media and private press all reported from their different political perspectives, Zimpapers and ZBC excelled in their biased and partisan coverage, giving the impression that ZANU PF and its supporters were the innocent victims of the MDC's violent activities.  Both the state controlled organizations highlighted violence perpetrated by MDC supporters while ignoring the far more widespread and systematic intimidation, coercion and manipulation of the electorate by marauding mobs of ZANU PF supporters and terrorist militias now inadequately being described as war veterans.
The presence and activities of these people in the constituency was perfectly in order, according to the public media, while more detailed and chilling accounts of their operations could only be found in the private Press, mainly the weeklies, which played down the less aggressive activities of the MDC.  However, piecemeal reports in The Daily News of ZANU PF's operations in the constituency failed to provide a clear overall picture of the intensity of the ruling party's campaign.  Nor did the private Press (or any of the public media) adequately report violent incidents that occurred during polling.
· Other events that attracted media interest during the week included the Judge President's attack on the Chief Justice, reported in the public media merely as a statement, but given some context in the private Press as part of government's continuing campaign to undermine the judiciary.
· And Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri's alarming confession that he is a ZANU PF supporter, and in the same statement warning his fellow officers to stay out of politics.  Again, this was reported merely as a statement in the public media, which failed to challenge him on the unethical nature of his position, or on the constitutionally essential need for impartiality in the police force.
BIKITA WEST BY-ELECTION: State media gives one-sided perspective of violence The Herald carried stories about the by-election on its front page in five of its six issues in the week.  (it also appeared on the front page of The Sunday Mail 14/1).  Most of them dealt with issues of political violence and alleged MDC excesses, including the arrest and court appearances of youths in connection with the murder of ZANU PF activist, Bernard Gara.
By comparison, The Daily News carried stories of the poll on its front page three times in the week, focusing mainly on the fears of MDC activists and alleged excesses of the war veterans and the CIO.
While both papers carried more stories on their inside pages, Zimpapers' titles mainly featured denials of MDC allegations and its leader's threat to mobilize 20 000 youths to protect MDC voters (The Herald 11/1), which also appeared in denial form.  The Daily News also featured Morgan Tsvangirai's threat inside and a straightforward and detailed story of the alleged MDC youths who appeared in court (9/1).  As polling opened on Saturday, The Herald (13/1) led with a story claiming that MDC youths had slashed villagers' maize crops, while The Daily News carried a story about so-called war veterans occupying polling stations on the eve of voting.  But these piecemeal reports in the dailies failed to capture the full story of the nature of the campaigning in the constituency.
While The Herald's Saturday edition gave some indication of the deployment of each party's activists to "protect" their supporters, it made it appear as if the opposition was dominant.  It was a different story in The Zimbabwe Independent (12/1) however, which reported ruling party sources telling the paper that "ZANU PF officials.have put in place elaborate plans to compel voters to go and cast their ballots."
The story, headlined, Split ZANU PF fights dirty in Bikita, detailed some of these measures and noted that the Zvobgo faction in the province had decided not to support the ruling party's candidate.
Two other stories in the paper graphically highlighted the terror the constituency's electorate have been subjected to and the highly organized nature of war veterans leader, Chenjerai Hinzvi and war veterans.
These stories added to those carried in The Financial Gazette of the previous day, and especially an eye-witness account from its chief reporter, Abel Mutsakani, who quoted extensively from a policeman to support his own experiences in the constituency.
"The (police) roadblocks remind everyone of the days of the liberation struggle.  The sight of guns and the rough treatment from the police reminds them who has the power," the policeman was quoted as saying.
His story also quoted the ruling party's interim provincial chairman, Samuel Mumbengegwi telling villagers that headmen had been instructed by government to register all people who go and vote and that from those registers ZANU PF would be able to tell who voted for which candidate.
"We will be able to find out who our enemies are and we will ruthlessly deal with them," Mutsakani quoted Mumbegegwi as saying.  The story also reported that Mumbengegwi told villagers that ZANU PF would instruct government social welfare officers to give free seed maize only to ruling party supporters.  Mutsakani's story also highlighted police involvement in the by-election where villagers were quoted as saying "the police sought to disable the campaign of the MDC while allowing the marauding mobs of ZANU PF supporters to roam the area freely, beating and intimidating those suspected of supporting the opposition." In so far as this account provided a telling insight into the real nature of the ruling party's campaign in the constituency, the story was excellent.  However, none of the private Press paid much attention to the MDC's activities, and Zimpapers' accounts left many allegations vague.
On Wednesday (10/1) The Daily News reported that either the police or the CIO had dumped MDC activists in Gonarezhou National Park.  It reported the activists' ordeal as narrated by the MDC Masvingo chairman, Shacky Matake, and authenticated by abducted youths themselves.  The story was even more vivid and detailed in The Financial Gazette where, according to one of the abducted youths, the state agents " locked them in leg irons.took turns to burn them with cigarettes..squeezed their testicles." He also claimed that at the game park they were dropped in groups and told to run for their lives or risk being shot.
The Zimbabwe Mirror (12 /1) gave an overall view of what it saw as an unpalatable development in local elections.  The paper criticized violence perpetuated by the two parties, and urged ZANU PF and the MDC to "take a responsible attitude towards the electorate." MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was quoted as saying that even if his party were to win the election it would not be possible to declare it free and fair.  Although the paper did not question the activities of the war veterans, it did take issue with the general violence by the two parties and concluded that most Zimbabweans were wondering whether this country would ever have a free and fair election in future.  The Financial Gazette's comment, Who Will Stop The Gods of Violence?, was more incisively direct and squarely blamed ZANU PF for initiating political violence and hijacking the police, noting that until the Gods of Violence were stopped, there would be no democracy in Zimbabwe.
The ZIMPAPERS dailies took a radically different slant, portraying ZANU PF supporters as victims of a violent MDC.  Not a single story in the papers cited ZANU PF as being responsible for any violence, providing instead, a litany of accusations against MDC supporters.  While at pains to condemn the presence of MDC youths from outside the constituency, The Sunday Mail comment was particularly hypocritical: "We would have thought that the death of one person was a lesson enough for these 'imports' who have been recruited from Harare and other towns.  They now have blood on their hands and will face the consequences of their actions alone while their bosses sit in the comfort of their homes with their families."
ZIMPAPERS (and The Sunday Mail comment) failed to even question the presence of the hordes of war veteran militias led by Chenjerai Hunzvi among other groups brought in by ZANU PF.  In that regard the paper exposed its own gross bias against the MDC.
A good example of this was The Sunday Mail story, High Voter Turnout in Bikita West (14/1) which referred to an incident where "war veterans" camped at a polling station clashed with MDC youths allegedly trying to block villagers from going to vote.  The paper emphasized the disruptive nature of the MDC youths but failed to question the legality or purpose of war veterans' presence.
The electronic media were no better.
ZBC's coverage of the by-election campaign deprived its audiences of objective and impartial information by confining its reports to the regurgitation of political rhetoric between the two parties - mainly from ZANU PF, as statistics demonstrate.  ZBCTV's main news bulletins in the week aired a total of 33 minutes of sound-bites from various ZANU PF officials, while giving MDC only six minutes.  The voice of the electorate and ordinary people was virtually silenced.
The state media hinted at, but did not give, clear evidence about the degree of intimidation.  Radio 9/1 6am bulletins reported that there were still reports of violence in Bikita but did not give examples to back up this claim.
In its efforts to demonstrate that the MDC was the political party initiating the violence in the constituency, the issue ZBC highlighted in the week was ZANU PF's "shock at statements made by Tsvangirai.saying the MDC would deploy 20 000 youths to Bikita West," (8/1 Radio 8pm and the following morning bulletins and television 8/1 8pm 9/1 8pm and 10/1 7am bulletins).
Only Radio 2/4 reported Tsvangirai's effort to clarify his original statement, saying the youths would be sent to campaign for their candidate and not to initiate violence (10/1 8pm).
On ZBCTV (8/1 8pm), Tsvangirai's call for a peaceful election campaign (also on Radio 8/1 8pm) was juxtaposed with a report that 50 MDC supporters had been arrested in connection with Gara's death.  Then immediately following this report came the story of ZANU PF's shock at the threat to send 20 000 supporters to Bikita.  And in addition to reporting Tsvangirai's "allegations" that the elections would not be free and fair, ZBC broadcast a positional report biased against the opposition.
Sourcing was overwhelmingly ZANU PF.  On ZBCTV again, 26 voices on the elections belonged to the ruling party, 14 were MDC, one was from the police, five of the voices were alternative e.g.  the ESC, five belonged to ordinary Zimbabweans, and four were of the election officials.
Like its printed counterpart, ZBC presented political violence in the context of ZANU PF supporters as victims of MDC hooligans.
Reports such as the one that MDC supporters were arrested and dumped in Gonarezhou were ignored.  At times the by election was not accorded adequate prominence.  For example, ZBC's 8 pm television news on the second day of voting (14/01) relegated Bikita to the tenth item in the bulletin after reports on a religious pilgrimage to the Ganges river in India, an earthquake in South America and Bulawayo's clean-up campaign.
However, ZBC kept its audiences updated on the MDC's alleged violent activities.
Radios 1/3 (8/1) reported that the police had arrested 50 MDC members in connection with Gara's murder.  Another story reported that ZANU PF supporters were living in fear following Gara's death, while it was reported that MDC supporters had fled to the mountains in fear of retaliation (11/01 1pm and 6pm/8pm 1/3).  On voting day, ZANU PF, courtesy of ZBC, appealed to the police for protection from MDC which, it said, had slashed villagers' maize crops (Radio 6am 13/1).  It also reported that MDC youths had been arrested (13/1 1/3 6pm/8pm).  The following day it was reported that the voting process had been marred by violence when Hunzvi's car had been stoned (14/1 1/3 1pm), while Radio 2/4's 8pm reported that the police had arrested MDC youths who tried to stop people from voting.
Some of ZBC's reports about the ruling party were of dubious news value and were clearly aired for promotional purposes.  For example, Radio reported Mumbengegwi saying that ZANU PF had shown political maturity by not retaliating against MDC violence (ZBCTV and radio 6pm 13/1).  On ZBCTV the MDC was given just four seconds to express its opinion and was sandwiched between two ZANU PF comments from Mumbengegwi and Shuvai Mahofa who were allocated 25 seconds and 23 seconds respectively.
A report that the ESC had decided that the poll was free and fair went unchallenged even though its chairman, Gula-Ndebele, said the ESC had received reports of violence and intimidation which his organization was still investigating (14/1 8pm ZBCTV).  The reporter failed to ask him why the ESC could come to such a decision while such incidents were still being investigated
2.  CHIDYAUSIKU'S REMARKS ZIMPAPERS' dailies (9/1) reported the attack by Judge President Godfrey Chidyausiku on Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay for sparking the controversy between the Judiciary and the Executive over land redistribution by claiming that Gubbay had assured commercial farmers they would win if they sued government over the land issue.  Chidyausiku said of the speech, which was made in 1991:
"The speech implicitly assured commercial farmers that in the event of their accepting the invitation to sue Government, victory in the courts was assured"
Chidyausiku, who was speaking at the official opening of the new session of the High Court, said commercial farmers were now suing the government "as invited" and court judgments were being awarded "as promised".  He also criticized the Supreme Court for overturning his judgment involving the case of Samuel Mhuriro over farm evictions.  The dailies did seek comment from Gubbay.
In the same paper, The Herald reported the speech by Chief Justice Gubbay in which he criticized attacks on the judiciary, saying this undermined its authority.  Gubbay said what was most disturbing in the last legal year was the harassment of both High Court and Supreme Court judges by war veterans and their followers.  Gubbay said:
"They have called upon judges to resign or face removal by force.  Such threats show a blatant and contemptuous disrespect of the process of the Constitution, which guarantees judicial independence."
In its follow-up story, The Sunday Mail reported that Chief Justice Gubbay and Justice Wilson Sandura were desperately seeking an audience with Acting President Simon Muzenda over the matter, and suggested that they were scared to meet President Mugabe himself, although no evidence for this was provided.
The Daily News (12/1) followed up Gubbay's attack by way of exposing an alternative view to the judicial saga.  The paper quoted extensively from a report written to the Law Society of Zimbabwe by an unidentified judge.  Briefly, the report accused Chidyausiku of misrepresenting the reasons why a High Court order he made last year had been overturned by the Supreme Court.  This view was echoed by The Independent's syory (12 /1) in which a number of lawyers described Chidyausiku's assertions as " false, damaging and misleading."
The stand-off between the High Court and Supreme Court judges was not covered in the electronic media.  Radio (9/1, 6am) reported Judge President Chidyausiku commending judges for working hard despite poor pay, while the following item quoted Chief Justice Gubbay welcoming the four new High Court Judges.  ZBCTV (8/1,
8pm) reported that Chidyausiku had said it had become impossible to pass judgments acceptable to both parties in the land issue.
3.  CHIHURI TRASHES IMPARTIALITY OF THE POLICE Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri was quoted in The Sunday Mail as saying that he supported ZANU PF:
"Many people say I am ZANU PF.  Today I would like to make it public that I support ZANU PF because it is the ruling party.  If any other party comes to power, I will resign and let those who support it take over"
The paper reported this as a mere statement and did not question Chihuri on the implications of his statement or his failure to distinguish between a party function and a government one demanding impartiality in such an important institution.  Nor was any independent comment sought.
Interestingly, The Daily News (9/1) and The Standard (14/1) carried stories that offered a telling contrast to this.  While the daily led with a story - confirmed by a ZRP spokesman - that eight police officers would be sacked for attending a Christmas party hosted by an MDC politician, The Standard carried a story in which the Assistant Commissioner commanding Masvingo province, Emmanuel Chimwanda, was quoted apparently castigating partisanship in the police:
"I am not a politician.  I am a policemen and my job is to maintain law and order, uphold peace..I am a government employee and am apolitical."
Radio (14/1, 6am-8am) reported Chihuri's comments warning members of the police against taking part in politics and that they should support the government of the day.  But his confession that he was a member of ZANU PF was not reported in any of the electronic media.  The report did not appear on the television bulletins monitored.

4.  POLICE SHOOTING: ZBC downplays shooting incident Both the private and public media gave due prominence and detail to the accidental killing of six-year-old Deven Kazingachire by plainclothes policemen (13/1).  However, the papers have yet to enumerate just how many civilians have been the innocent victims of accidental police shootings that have resulted in many fatalities in the past few years.  This would show the broader picture and raise the pertinent question about the nature of police training.
Ironically.  The Zimbabwe Independent carried comments about just such a topic from Home Affairs Minister, John Nkomo, the day before the tragedy was reported.  ZBC's monitored bulletins did not contain any report on the incident.
Ends This report was produced and distributed by the Media Monitoring Project, Zimbabwe (MMPZ), 221 Fife Avenue, Harare, Tel/fax: 263
4 734207, 733486, Cell: 011716645, E-mail:, Web:
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Opposition challenge Mugabe law - BBC: Friday, 19 January, 2001
Civil Disobedience: the PEOPLE'S Weapon - Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 19, 2001
Zanu PF'S Brute Force Could Backfire in 2002 - Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 19, 2001
Senior Army, Police Officers Join Land Grab - Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 19, 2001

Opposition challenge Mugabe law

BBC: Friday, 19 January, 2001, 11:03 GMT
The opposition in urban areas were less intimidated by election violence

By Grant Ferrett in Harare

The Supreme Court in Zimbabwe has begun hearing a challenge by the main opposition party against President Mugabe's decision last month to amend the electoral law.

The amendment prevents the courts from overturning any of the results of last year's parliamentary elections, even if there is evidence of corrupt or illegal practices.

Riot police surrounded the Supreme Court as the hearing was due to begin, providing an indication of the depth of the controversy still surrounding the poll last June.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change had planned to challenge the results of 40 constituencies, a third of the total number of contested seats, largely on the grounds of violence in the run-up to voting.


Sitting members of parliament say the amendment cannot now be removed.

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it is unconstitutional.

Its lawyer told the Supreme Court that the decision to prevent any legal challenge amounted to a denial of the constitutional right to the protection of the law.

The government, which has hired a South African lawyer to present its case, argues that invalidating results from last year's poll could threaten democracy and stability in Zimbabwe.

Whatever the outcome, the prospects are grim.

If the Supreme Court rules in favour of the opposition it would mark an important step towards the holding of a series of by-elections.

Given the example of recent months, that would probably result in renewed violence and intimidation - most of it carried out by supporters of the ruling party.

Another possibility is that the government will once again simply ignore the Supreme Court, further undermining the rule of law.

Civil Disobedience: the PEOPLE'S Weapon

Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 19, 2001) - Civil disobedience as an instrument of political change has a long history. The Wat Tyler revolt in 1381 led to the abolition of feudal duty, the liberation of peasants from servitude to landowners and a large and permanent improvement in the pay and conditions of service.

It was admittedly not entirely peaceful and resulted in the murder of Archbishop Sud- bury and the execution of Wat Tyler! Other subsequent revolts have achieved their objectives without violence: such as John Hampden's refusal to pay ship money in 1637, which led to England's only civil war and the execution of Charles I; and the American colonists' revolt against Lord North's government in 1773. Their demand for "no taxation without representation" led to the independence of the 13 colonies and the foundation of the United States of America.

More protracted, but ultimately successful, citizens' revolts include the Suffragette movement in the early decades of the 20th century in favour of women's right to vote; and Mahatma Gandhi's long campaign of civil disobedience, the seed of which was his refusal to pay Salt Tax - a trivial enough source from which the tree of liberty grew - leading eventually to the partition of India and the breakdown of the greatest empire the world has ever known.

Successful revolts against tyranny require several components: an appreciation of indignation against intolerable conditions of life under present conditions, and resolution not to suffer further abuse by a large proportion of the population; a leader of sufficient strength of character and courage to commit himself body and soul to the cause, risking imprisonment and even death; and a massive enrolment of a sufficiently large percentage of the population to demand change so vociferously that it cannot be ignored by the ruling tyranny.

Neither the Boston Tea Party nor the recent ousting of Slobodan Milosevic were intentionally violent, though doubtless violent incidents occurred, but both were successful in achieving their objective by the massive and sustained demands of an enraged citizenry.

Whether these conditions can be met here in Zimbabwe has yet to be ascertained. Certainly the enraged citizens have every reason to feel the stirrings of revolt, but they must refrain from exercising the violence they have received at the hands of authorised thugs.

The sole legitimate tar- get of revolt is change, not revenge. No undisciplined action should be adopted which will give the government an excuse for further brutal attacks on its subjects, however great the provocation. Defence is legitimate: armed revolt is illegal, even if less illegal than the treatment to which they have been subjected.

Moreover, civil disobedience must be organised on a very large scale, beyond the powers of the army and police to control.

In the case of Milosevic some 200 000 surrounded the parliament building in Belgrade and kept up a chant of "Milosevic out! Milosevic out!" Until there was nothing the tyrant could do but abdicate. The police and army were no doubt disinclined to slaughter such a large number of their fellow-citizens.

The legality of civil disobedience may be questioned but not its morality. But against the ruthless illegality of a government's policies surely peaceful resistance is both more legal and more moral than the illegal actions of the government, its contempt for the law and the anarchy and bankruptcy in which these actions have resulted.

The weapons to be employed in civil disobedience are mass protest; refusal to pay taxes and other imposts and levies; and the withdrawal of labour and strikes. Passive defence is not enough but violence must be eschewed.

The opposition of violence to violence leads to civil war which must be avoided at all costs. This requires a stricter discipline than is exercised by the forces opposing it and requires both indoctrination of, and restraint in, a large proportion of the population, a very difficult programme to achieve.

Refusal to pay taxes has to be organised on a grand scale. If a few hundred refuse, they can be charged and, on conviction, fined or imprisoned; but if a few hundred thousand co-operate it becomes an impossible task to charge them all as this would end the operation of the courts for a generation.

Change cannot be expected from, or left in the hands of, a parliament which shows no signs of intending such change. Members of parliament in a megalithic government are no longer representative of the wishes of the people. Their original meaning and function is to "re-present" the wishes of the people, not to automatically rubber-stamp the dictates of a clique of presidential cronies.

Such MPs have had 20 years of passive acquiescence during which they have been reduced to mere cyphers; any signs of disagreement are ruthlessly dealt with and the rebels face the certainty of losing their cushy jobs and handsome emoluments, to say nothing of the threat of having to find employment in civvie street and earn a living.

Nevertheless there now appear a few cracks in the absolutism of Zanu PF rule. Some of the MPs are awakening from their sycophancy and beginning to doubt the wisdom of the oligarchy, especially when they see the appalling results of 20 years of misrule.

Such cracks should be exploited and waverers encouraged to stand up as men and citizens and cease to be puppets of a corrupt and tyrannical government.

l Anderson writes from Avondale in Harare.

By Ian G Anderson

Copyright 2001 Zimbabwe Independent. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Zanu PF'S Brute Force Could Backfire in 2002

Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 19, 2001) - Political analysts say despite regaining Bikita West constituency in last weekend's by-election, the ruling Zanu PF's coercive political recovery plan is not sustainable.

Commentators warned that the ruling party's strategy could backfire in the 2002 presidential poll if it remained underpinned by crude political violence and the unrelenting use of force.

Zanu PF's Claudius Makova, who lost to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s Amos Mutongi in June last year, pipped the opposition's Bonnie Pakai in the hotly contested poll by 12 993 votes to 7 001. About 51% of the 40 000 registered voters in the area voted last weekend compared to 35% last year.

Analysts had no doubt that Zanu PF's scorched earth policy in the run-up to the election contributed significantly to the outcome. It was evident that the poll was not necessarily decided around issues and leadership qualities but largely through intimidation and force.

The election, seen as a barometer of strength between the two main parties in rural areas, put to the test Zanu PF's elaborate electoral recovery programme conceived last year as a direct response to government's shock defeat in the constitutional referendum. Violent land seizures are the cornerstone of the strategy now geared for the presidential election.

Traditionally, rural areas are Zanu PF strongholds while the MDC now holds sway in the urban areas. Although most of Zimbabwe's voters live in rural areas, analysts said the presidential election would be an open race. A by-election in a remote rural constituency co-uld not be an indicator of the possible outcome of a national poll, they said.

Professor Masipula Sithole, a political analyst who witnessed the Bikita voting exercise, said while the poll, by fair means or foul, confirmed Zanu PF's superiority in rural areas, it also raised the question whether violence was sustainable as an electoral tool.

"Zanu PF's political recovery strategy prevented the MDC from making inroads in the Bikita countryside," he said.

"Violence was heavily employed in the process. But one wonders whether that approach will work in the long-run because violence is not sustainable as an election strategy," he said.

"Issues did not decide the poll. It was like a war zone," Sithole pointed out. "The presence of the army, police, state security agents, war veterans, partisan militias and warring parties made it like that," he said.

It is understood that Zanu PF had put in place an elaborate strategy to ensure people voted in large numbers. Chiefs and headmen were tasked to bring to the polling stations people under their leadership who were then instructed who to vote for. War veterans and the ruling party's youth brigade complemented their efforts by using coercion to ensure people voted.

There were also other tactics employed by Zanu PF which critics said were inimical to the principle of a free and fair election. Analysts said clear cases of treating - giving voters something to influence their voting behaviour, such as the handing out of "money for projects" - as well as bribery influenced the election result. This was also the case in the election last year and that was why the MDC was challenging in the courts results in 39 constituencies.

The opposition was also accused of fanning violence by bringing in youths to the constituency. According to ruling party spokesmen and state media, the youths blocked Zanu PF people from going to vote.

Although the MDC was reported to have been involved in clashes with the ruling party and accused of killing a Zanu PF member, it apparently could not match the state machinery which meted out well-honed acts of brutality against opponents.

"What is significant about it is that the legacy of violence now seems to be the norm rather than the exception," said Alfred Nhema, a UZ political analyst.

"But it also highlights that the MDC needs to do more work if it wants to dislodge Zanu PF in rural areas," he said.

Jonathan Moyo, Zanu PF deputy information secretary, claimed the Bikita result depicted the national mood.

"The people of Bikita have spoken and through them the people of Zimbabwe have spoken," Moyo told the state-controlled Herald.

"This is an indicator of what is going to happen in future by-elections and the presidential election," he said.

But MDC secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube dismissed Moyo's assertion saying it was unfortunate that Zanu PF officials found it right to celebrate "the victory of violence".

"As far as we are concerned the Bikita by- election was decided by violence and manipulation of traditional leaders," Ncube said.

"We maintained our support base but Zanu PF increased its supporters through intimidation," he said.

Analysts said it was important to note that the MDC support base was not really eroded. Last year it got 7 721 votes in the constituency while this time it amassed 7 001 votes. Zanu PF saw its support rise from 7 441 votes to 12 993 thanks to the commitment of state resources and intimidation in the area, critics say.

Said Sithole: "Bikita was a Zanu stronghold before it lost it to the MDC.

But what it did now was to re-activate its supporters and as a result regained the seat. The MDC did not really lose supporters," he said.

By Dumisani Muleya

Senior Army, Police Officers Join Land Grab

Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, January 19, 2001) - Senior army and state security officers as well as members of the police are involved in illegal land seizures and cultivation on stolen property alongside villagers, it was learnt this week.

Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent show that members of the uniformed forces and state agents have grabbed plots in the Mount Hampden commercial farming area where they are growing crops.

A visit to the area this week revealed that the soldiers and government workers spent considerable time on the farms conducting personal business.

Information obtained indicated that Lieutenant Colonel Mugwisi, Colonel Max Chinyanganya, deputy Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa, war veterans secretary-general Andy Mhlanga and an assistant police commissioner, Moyo, among others, had been drawn into the chaotic scramble for land.

It was also said that Defence Minister Moven Mahachi's Doxford Farm located in the Jumbo Mine area and government's Henderson Research Station near Mazowe Dam which measures about 5 000 acres were seriously undertilised. Invaders have been kept away from the farms.

Government has said it is targeting underutilised farms regardless of who owns them.

Sources said Mugwisi, who works in administration at the army headquarters, has a 25-hectare plot of maize at Danbury Park Farm located 15km outside Harare along the Old Mazowe road. The Independent saw the plot during a visit to the farm. Sources said Mugwisi was often seen at the farm in a green Peugeot 306, registration number 36BF00.

However, Mugwisi would not comment on the issue.

"I'm not allowed to talk to you. Phone our public relations department at KGVI," he said.

Efforts to get comment from the department were unsuccessful at the time of going to press.

Colonel Chinyanganya of the Zimbabwe Staff College, sources said, had a seven-hectare maize plot, which he grabbed last November at Selby Farm in the Mount Hampden area. Sources at the farm said he frequented the area in a green Mazda B1800 pick-up truck with registration number 12BB97.

But Chinyanganya denied seizing a plot.

"It's true I drive a military vehicle. I work for the Staff College," Chinyanganya said. "I don't have a plot. My business in the military is clear and my terms of reference are also clear. People can say what they want but I don't have a plot," he said.

Despite Chinyanganya's denial, farmers insisted that he had a plot at the farm currently occupied by landless villagers and government supporters.

It was said Chinyanganya picked up his employees from Chitungwiza every morning en route to the farm and after work.

Sources confirmed that Chinyanganya last year blocked police from evicting invaders from Selby Farm.

It is understood that the deputy sheriff was as signed police officers at Malborough Police Station to go and evict people who had illegally occupied the farm, but Chinyanganya blocked the move.

A police spokesman at Marlborough confirmed the incident but could not give details of the current status of the case. A Selby Farm spokesman was also reluctant to discuss the issue apparently for fear of reprisal.

At Danbury Park Farm the Independent spoke to people who were working on one plot which they said belonged to Parirenyatwa.

"He was here this morning but he left just before you arrived. He went back to Harare and left his son overseeing operations here," a worker said on Tuesday.

Parirenyatwa's employees said they were paid $20 for weeding out a portion of land measuring one metre by 100 metres.

"The money is very little because it is painful to finish weeding out this area," said another worker as she showed the Independent the tracts of land that she had worked for the day.

Efforts to get comment from Parirenyatwa were unsuccessful. Sources at Mugutu farm confirmed that Mhlanga had a 15-hectare plot on which he had planted a maize crop and beans. Assistant Commissioner Moyo of Morris Depot was also said to have a plot with a crop of maize and beans as well.

A war veterans leader in the area named Msofova and an unidentified headmaster were also cultivating significant portions of the farm.

"There are a number of army officers, CIO members, police officers and senior Zimbabwe Prison Service officers who have plots in this area," said a farmer who asked not to be named.

"They send their drivers or come here by themselves frequently. A certain colonel based in the Congo was supposed to arrive in the country to check his plot on Wednesday but the situation there prevented him from coming," the farmer said yesterday.

Some of the vehicles spotted on the commercial farms had the following registration numbers: 424 007D (Toyota Cressida), 875007C (light blue Nissan Sunny), 337007P (green Datsun), 580007R (Nissan Sunny), and a 750000R Land Rover.

"We have also seen a lot of police vehicles here. They don't come here to do their job because they have not done anything about the crisis.

In fact we discovered that they are also farming," one farm manager said.

Police vehicles seen in Mount Hampden included those with these numbers: ZRP 857D, ZRP 473S, and ZRP 193M. Private vehicles had also been seen there. These included a 441 793J registration truck and a car with foreign registration number B513AEY.

"The car with a foreign number plate is driven by a lady who is always immaculately dressed and she looks like a really big shot," a source said.

All those involved are in violation of the law and of court orders and therefore liable to prosecution at a future date, the Independent was told.

By Dumisani Muleya

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From The Guardian (UK), 20 January

Harare sheds no tears for its puppet

Harare - For two days, Laurent Kabila's cronies hid his corpse away in a Zimbabwean morgue and pretended that the president of the DRC was still of this world. But having finally admitted the reality, they put his body on display amid tight security. Kabila, wearing a black suit and showing no sign of bullet wounds, was ensconced in an elaborate white and gold coffin, draped with the Congolese flag. It lay in the chapel of a Zimbabwean army commando unit barracks, for diplomats and others who looked suitably respectful to view. A man in a leather motorcycle jacket decided who fitted this bill. He brusquely refused entrance to all journalists save for Zimbabwe's state news media.

This time Congo's president had the kind of security that was clearly lacking when one of his own soldiers shot him in the back on Tuesday. It is fitting that Kabila's corpse should be put on display in Zimbabwe before Congo. He was certainly more welcome there, at least among its leadership, than he was in his own country. Kabila's ally, Robert Mugabe, arrived to acknowledge the death of a man who was a puppet and yet frustratingly unmanageable despite his reliance on Zimbabwe.

At a service attended by about 300 people, including Kabila's wife and six of their children, two senior vice-presidents and diplomats from several African countries, mourners were greeted by 40 wailing Congolese women in T-shirts with Kabila's face emblazoned on the front and "Adieu mon president" on the back. But one of the women uttered what her compatriots believe - Kabila's death is no bad thing. "We hope that with Kabila's departure we will be able to sit down and find a way to peace and we will be able to live like other countries," she said.

Mr Mugabe said nothing. He had looked badly shaken on state television as the Zimbabwean government finally confirmed the Congolese leader's death. Both governments had claimed that Kabila had been airlifted to Harare for emergency medical treatment but Moven Mahachi, the Zimbabwean defence minister, admitted yesterday that he died in Kinshasa of his wounds. Mr Mugabe ordered that Kabila's corpse be flown to Harare to create the fiction that he was still alive in order to buy time to entrench the new regime headed by the late president's son, Joseph.

Zimbabwe's president may mourn but on the streets of Harare there was no great sorrow. It is not that Kabila was particularly despised in Zimbabwe, although there was resentment that its soldiers should be dying to keep a despot in power. But Mr Mugabe's many opponents drew a strange pleasure from knowing that one of his close allies met such a swift end. It was as if Kabila's demise somehow made Zimbabwe's leader more vulnerable. "Mugabe must have shivered when he heard Kabila was shot because he is afraid that is how he will go," Evans Zvika, a Harare office worker, said.

The Zimbabwean government continues to say publicly that its 11,000 troops will remain in Congo, but it increasingly wants to see the 1999 Lusaka peace accords implemented so that it can extricate itself from a venture that has cost the country hundreds of millions of pounds. But there are those who think even the presence of his body could stir up trouble. "Let them get Kabila's body out of Zimbabwe as quickly as possible," the Zimbabwean political scientist Masipula Sithole said. "The very fact that Kabila's body is here shows how much Kabila relied on Mugabe. His killing is not surprising. He came to the leadership through illegitimate means, shrouded with suspicion. He did not take any steps to hold democratic elections. Live by the sword, die by the sword."

From The Times (UK), 20 January

Kabila lies in state in Harare

Harare/Kinshasa - The body of Laurent Kabila, the assassinated President of the DRC, lay in state at a barracks in Zimbabwe yesterday, awaiting a flight back to Kinshasa for burial. President Mugabe's Government has finally admitted the demise of an ally to whose military cause it had committed 11,000 troops. Zimbabwean forces were reported to be still at their bases in eastern Congo, facing advancing rebels. A British embargo imposed last year has denied Harare the spares it needs to provide air support to its troops and gain the upper hand in repelling Rwandan-backed offensives.

Zimbabwean spokesmen tried to keep the details of Kabila's death vague while his son, Joseph Kabila, 31, seeks to consolidate his hold on power. A delegation led by Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi, the Congolese Foreign Minister, was said to have arrived here to escort Kabila's body back to Kinshasa for temporary internment. A final burial will take place at his birthplace in southern Katanga Province, Kikaya Bin Karubi, the Congolese Ambassador to Harare, said. Moven Mahachi, Zimbabwe's Defence Minister, said yesterday that Kabila had died on a flight to Harare. However, Mr Karubi has insisted that he died on arrival here.

Many are expecting the worst in the former Belgian colony. In Brazzaville, across the Congo river from Kinshasa, ArmorGroup, a large American security organisation, which also has offices in London, piled a room high with mattresses. "There are going to be evacuations and there are going to be refugees pouring over here soon," Al Andersen, of Armor, said. "If it explodes, it is going to explode now." He said that despite the apparent calm in Kinshasa, there were "strong undercurrents" in the capital. These forces were unhappy to see Kabila's son apparently succeeding to power and would try to topple the regime. "There are too many people who have lost power in recent years and too many malcontents in Kinshasa to allow the current power vacuum to pass by," Mr Anderson said.

The main threat to stability, according to security sources, is likely to come from inside the country. External forces, such as the Rwandan and Ugandan-backed rebels, might quickly become involved should there be any confusion. According to the sources, Kabila's assassin was hired by one or several of the groups aspiring to take power. The assassin, who was killed in the ensuing crossfire, shot Kabila as he came out of a bathroom.

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 20 January

Congo braces itself for the aftershocks of president's murder

Kinshasa - A few forlorn flags hung at half-mast. Some rather half-hearted dirges played on national radio. Jumpy soldiers patrolled the streets. As Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, braced itself yesterday for aftershocks from the murder of the despotic President Laurent Kabila, he still beamed down from vast "cult-of-the-personality" murals on street corners, his fleshy features gleaming in the crude paintwork.

But the Congolese have seen enough brutal political upheavals to know it is important not to dwell on the past. The aftermath - the often bloody aftermath - is much more important. Yesterday the paranoia and uncertainty could be seen in the eyes of the nervous police and customs officials manning border crossings. "Welcome to the DRC," one official said. "You have come at a difficult time so be careful." There were plenty of people on the streets but when asked about the immediate future, they merely shrugged their shoulders. "We do not know what will happen," said one educated man in an internet cafe who was too jumpy to give his name. "It has all happened so quickly we just do not know."

Everywhere the machinery of an already paranoid, military-dependent state was in overdrive. Barricades across the roads stopped drivers approaching within a mile of the parliament building. The Memling, a smart Belgian hotel, has long doubled as a barometer of tension in the city. Expatriates routinely move there when they fear trouble. Last night it did not have many spare rooms. Jittery government officials were at their desks in the vast concrete office block that houses the Information Ministry, guarded by soldiers backed up by a tank and a couple of armoured personnel carriers. The officials were going about their business diligently enough, manning the country's infamous bureaucracy.

Many voiced the traditional refrain that they had not been paid for months but they toiled away preparing "authorisations", filing bundles of paper in cockroach-infested storerooms and preparing for their journey home along potholed roads in rickety buses. Soldiers in full kit could also be seen in small camouflaged huddles, under a tree or in the shade of a building. They had been deployed in full combat order with assault rifles, webbing and rations. Soldiers from Zimbabwe and Angola, stalwart supporters of the Kabila regime, were on the streets. A lorry load of heavily armed Zimbabweans sped along the airport road as two plane loads of Angolans arrived.

Even though the government officially announced the lifting of the curfew, there was little sign of this as workers fled the streets just before nightfall. The immediate future of the country remains as murky as the sluggish waters of the vast Congo river, dyed brown by leaching, rotting vegetation drifting down from the country's immense jungle hinterland. Diplomats have presented their credentials to Gen Joseph Kabila, who was hastily installed as the country's leader after his father's death. But few think he has much of a future. The 31-year-old army officer, who was promoted by his father to take over the armed forces, speaks better English than French, the country's official language, and Swahili from his years in exile in East Africa, rather than the languages spoken in the west, where Kinshasa lies. The wise money is telling Kinshasa's mural painters not to take too much time learning how to paint Joseph Kabila's portrait.

From The Independent (UK), 20 January

A new leader, but Congo remains in the grip of fear

Kinshasa - "Normal life", with all its repressive realities of fear, brutality and hardship, returned yesterday to the capital of the DRC, stifling hopes that the assassination of Laurent-Desire Kabila could herald a transition to freedom, peace, safety and food on the table. "This is not some family empire, this is my country, Congo," said a frustrated citizen, dismayed that the palace killing on Tuesday of the DRC guerrilla-turned-president had merely resulted in the appointment of his 32-year-old son, Maj-Gen Joseph Kabila.

The influential minister of communication, Dominique Sakombi, said the government would continue the "tireless pursuit of peace and upliftment of our country begun by the peace-loving" late President Kabila. He will be laid to rest in a mausoleum in the capital on Tuesday after lying in state in Lubumbashi today and in Kinshasa tomorrow and Monday. Mr Kabila's body was displayed yesterday to invited mourners, including his key ally, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, in an elaborate gold and white coffin at a military barracks in Harare.

Mr Sakombi said the murder was committed by an off-duty bodyguard he called "Rashidi". He said: "The bodyguard walked into the president's office during a meeting with his economic adviser. He walked up to the president, who was sitting at his desk, as if to whisper something in his ear. His face was centimetres from the president's when he shot him once in the neck and twice in the stomach." Mr Sakombi said the assassin's motive was not known. "The bodyguard had been with the president since his arrival in power on 17 May 1997," said Mr Sakombi. "But he was born in Kisangani and grew up in Bukavo [occupied by rebels], so there was reason to suspect him." He said "Rashidi" was killed trying to escape.

Guillaume Mumvudi and Paul Litanda, chatting under an awning in the capital yesterday, were not interested in Kabila's death. "I am very sad," said Mr Mumvudi, 39, winking as he noticed the prying stare of a loitering policeman. "Kabila was a man of peace." As the policeman walked away Mr Mumvudi added: "We live in fear in this city. We live in poverty. We buy petrol in soft-drink bottles because we can afford only small amounts. And yet Congo is supposed to be one of the great countries of Africa." Mr Litanda, an economics student, said Congo, with its unparalleled mineral resources and fertility, should be rich and its 50 million people should be driving nice cars. "The leaders are all the same," he said. "They eat the wealth and they share it only with their families. I do not expect anything to change with the new Kabila."

Across this city of five million people, the view altered little. But it was expressed in doorways, quietly, a habit that developed among this party-loving, outgoing population in the 44 months since Kabila took power from the previous tyrant, Mobutu Sese Seko, who reigned for 32 years. "Can you believe - we actually miss those days?" said Mr Litanda. Civil servants and soldiers are the only ones who offer a different view. "The whites did it." they hiss at visiting journalists. "Get out of our country once and for all." To them, the Kinshasa government's propaganda is logic: Kabila was killed by the Ugandan and Rwandan-backed rebels occupying half of the DRC. Uganda and Rwanda, they say, are sponsored by the West. An uncertain calm reigns ahead of President Joseph Kabila's inauguration next week. The UN secretary-general's envoy in Kinshasa, Kamel Morjane, said he met him yesterday.

From The Guardian (UK), 19 January

A country pays as foreigners fight for the spoils of war

Just about the only people not making money out of the war in the DRC are its long-suffering citizens. Either side of an 1,800 mile frontline, a country the size of western Europe with a population no larger than England's has been carved up by warring factions and foreign armies. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead; more than 2m are homeless. What little infrastructure Mobutu Sese Seko did not wreck during his three decades of misrule - hospitals, schools, power plants - has mostly been destroyed by fighting, or has finally succumbed to neglect. The country's riches - diamonds, cobalt, copper, gold and timber - have been mortgaged and plundered by what passes for a government in Kinshasa, and by foreign soldiers and local warlords. As always, western businesses have stepped in to exploit the upheaval. But they have been outclassed by more ruthless players.

The scramble to exploit the turmoil began even before Mobutu was overthrown four years ago. A US firm, America Mineral Fields, signed a £680m deal to mine copper, cobalt and zinc in Congo. A large down-payment to Laurent Kabila to fund his rebellion doubtless helped to secure the deal. The company had been negotiating with Mobutu a few weeks earlier, but as soon as it realised that his days were numbered it switched its allegiance. It flew Kabila around what was still Zaire in its private jet and found other ways to curry favour. The loser was the South African mining giant, Anglo American.

Tenke Fungurume Mining, a Canadian firm, snapped up a £170m investment in a privatised mine near Lubumbashi. An Israeli company gained control of much of the diamond trade, which still accounts for more than half of Congo's export revenues. A slew of other companies fought to get a foot in the door. Many came to regret it. Kabila took their money and failed to honour contracts. Foreign businessmen who objected were locked up. Some firms are still waiting to see if it is worth putting more money into Congo, in the hope of getting a return on the cash they have already sunk in.

The real beneficiaries have been the foreign belligerents in a war that has drawn in tens of thousands of troops from nine countries. At the start of the latest conflict, in October 1998, Kabila bought the backing of Zimbabwe's army with a promise that its intervention would be "self-financing". That opened the door to a number of companies fronting for President Robert Mugabe and his military chiefs. A state-owned firm run by retired army officers, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, was contracted to provide arms and munitions to Kinshasa. In return, a Zimbabwean mining firm, Ridgepointe, got a one-third share and management control of the dilapidated but potentially highly profitable Congolese state mining company, Gecamines. About half of the profits were to go to Harare to pay for its war machine.

But the Gecamines experience has not been a happy one. Mr Mugabe installed a Zimbabwean businessman, Billy Rautenbach, to turn the company around in the face of £700m in debts. Mr Rautenbach was not a success, in part because Zimbabwe did not invest the tens of millions of pounds required to revive full production. But he did serve Mr Mugabe's purpose of ensuring that the Zimbabweans got their cut of revenues from cobalt and copper mining. Mr Kabila sacked Mr Rautenbach, to Mr Mugabe's chagrin. Another company run by Zimbabwe's army, Osleg, is heavily involved in buying diamonds and gold, and a Zimbabwean state farm has been given 500,000 hectares of land in the southern Congolese province of Katanga. Zimbabwe's defence minister, Moven Mahachi, has long denied that his forces are in Congo for profit. "You don't go where people lose lives just because you want to make a few dollars," he said. "But as a result of our presence, a number of Zimbabwe businessmen are taking advantage of the goodwill there. If they don't, others will."

North Korea has sent troops in return for a promised share in the Shunkolobwe uranium mines. Foreign forces on the rebel side have also been "self-financing" their intervention, and making a tidy profit, too. Uganda's gold exports have risen almost tenfold since its involvement in Congo, and its £400m trade deficit has been erased. President Yoweri Museveni's brother, Major General Salim Saleh, until recently had valuable gold mining concessions in Congo, and runs a profitable air cargo business to rebel-held territory. Other officers control or lease diamond and cobalt concessions. The Ugandans also rely on the rebels they support to provide revenues from "taxes" on tea, coffee and timber exports.

Rwanda's economy has been bolstered by its occupation of swaths of eastern Congo. Some of its soldiers have got rich, and the army has financed an extensive rearmament programme. However most of the belligerents in Congo would like to see an end to a war that is costing them too much of the money they are making, and too many men. There is no victory in sight, but that does not mean they will surrender the financial rewards. Long after the fighting is over, Congo is likely to be parcelled up by profiteers.

From our own correspondent, 19 January

Bredenkamp given new concessions

Sources within Gecamines, the DRC's state-owned mining company, say that a company led by John Bredenkamp has been granted rights to operate Kababankola mine near Kakanda and also rights to mine several other, as yet unspecified, deposits near Kakanda and Kambove. These two mining centres are in the "Group Centre" of Gecamines with the town Likasi as its headquarters. The new company has been granted the right to operate the concentrators of Kakanda and Kambove by paying a nominal rental to Gecamines, who will retain control of the giant hydro and pyro-metallurgical complex in Likasi. John Bredenkamp is thought to be the main supplier of ordinance to the DRC war machine.

This resource is one of the key elements in the revival plan of Gecamines and this is thought to be the second time that the DRC government has been forced to install a Zimbabwean as head of key mining assets to repay military obligations - with the influence of Emmerson Mnangagwa, currently Speaker of the Zimbabwe Parliament, and the Zimbabwe Chief of Staff, General Vitalis Zvinavashe. The first was Billy Rautenbach (who is rumoured to be included somehow in this latest deal) who was granted the rights over all the assets in Group Centre for the benefit of the shareholders of his company, Ridgepointe Overseas Development Ltd. - Mpoyo for Kabila, Mnangagwa for Zanu PF and Rautenbach himself. Millions of dollars were plundered during 1998 and 1999. Rautenbach himself is thought to have paid $25 million from these pickings to try and prop up Hyundai, his car assembly company, in SA. Hyundai SA has since collapsed amid investigations of tax fraud by the South African government.

From The Independent (UK), 20 January

Mugabe decree on elections 'was illegal'

Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe violated the constitution when he issued a decree banning opposition lawsuits over disputed election results, lawyers for the main opposition party argued yesterday. Mr Mugabe abused his presidential powers to protect his ruling party from litigation that could prove it won the June parliamentary elections through corruption, vote buying, vote rigging, violence and intimidation, said the MDC at a hearing in the nation's highest court.

The opposition is contesting 38 of the 120 parliamentary districts polled in contentious elections. Chris Andersen, an opposition lawyer, told the five Supreme Court judges that Mr Mugabe, an elected leader, issued the decree to serve his own personal interests and not those of the electorate as a whole. "The tail should not wag the dog. If it does, the consequences are autocratic and undemocratic government" in violation of the constitution, which Mr Mugabe swore in his oath of office to uphold, Mr Andersen said. Mr Mugabe decreed on 8 December that no court hearings could be held to invalidate disputed election results. His official notice said poll results could not be contested "in the interest of democracy, peace, security and stability" even if voting irregularities had been established.

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