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BBC: Friday, 9 June, 2000, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
UN pulls out of Zimbabwe poll

President Robert Mugabe is under fire from Amnesty International
The United Nations says it will no longer take part in the monitoring of the forthcoming general elections in Zimbabwe.

The announcement follows a disagreement between the UN and the Zimbabwe Government, with the UN saying that Harare has tried to force it accept a lesser role in monitoring the poll.

The UN had earlier reached an agreement with the government that they would be "a facilitator" for all international observer groups.

The head of the UN office in Zimbabwe, Carlos Lopez, said that the Zimbawean Government now wanted the UN just to be one among several other observer missions.

The UN has made clear it is not prepared to accept a diminished role.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said there was no time to consider complying with the new request from Harare.

"We had offered to help with the co-ordination of international electoral observers," Mr Eckhard said.

"The secretary general had understood from his conversations with President Mugabe that this was acceptable to the government of Zimbabwe."

"If we are not doing the co-ordination, there is no point in our being there," he added.

The disagreement comes a week after the UN cancelled a visit by a top official after Zimabwe said it would seize 804 white-owned farms without compensation.

Observers from the European Union, the Southern African Development Community and the Commonwealth are among some 16,000 local and foreign experts monitoring the run-up to parliamentary elections on 24-25 June.

Other missions stay

For the moment there does not appear to be any question of the other observer missions pulling out

Correspondents say the UN's decision has dealt another blow to what appears to be a faltering election process in Zimbabwe.

On Thursday, the human rights group Amnesty Internation accused the Zimbabwean Government of "state-sponsored terrorism" against opponents of President Robert Mugabe.

The groups said planned acts of intimidation and violence by ruling party supporters against the opposition called into doubt the possible free and fair nature of the forthcoming poll.

The BBC correspondent in Harare John Leyne, says that opposition parties in Zimbabwe have banked on the observer missions being in place to try to ensure that the poll will be free and fair.

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Mugabe's reign of terror

The Conservative frontbencher wants international monitors to protect Zimbabwe's voters

Francis Maude - Friday June 9, 2000 The Guardian

Last weekend, in Matabeleland, southern Zimbabwe, I came across some of the most pitiful people I am ever likely to meet. They were Zimbabwe's "war veterans" - in reality members of the rural poor who have been whipped up into a state of greed and anger by Robert Mugabe's promises of free land and his tales of traitors, black and white, who are selling Zimbabwe out.

Those "veterans" spend their time hacking down trees in a vain attempt to carve out a smallholding on land so barren that no crops will grow on it. They own nothing more than the ragged shirts on their backs. Without schooling, employment or hope, they are the real victims of Mugabe's bankrupt regime.

Two things became clear in the two days I spent in Zimbabwe. First, it is obvious that the general election later this month will not be free or fair. It is being rigged. Any pretence to the contrary is misleading and self-serving. And second, most importantly for the immediate future, people from all walks of life opposed to Mugabe are in danger from violence after - as well as before - the election.

Voters in many parts of the country have already been cowed by Mugabe's state terrorism. His thugs have kidnapped, tortured and murdered opponents from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party. And these intense and sudden bouts of violence have served as a warning to others.

Whites and blacks told us how units of Zanu-PF thugs have toured the country setting up mobile re-education units, where peasant farmers are corralled and then bullied or beaten into submission. People made it clear that this violence has been planned and controlled by Mugabe personally.

Although the heavies have done most of their dirty work already, there is a real danger that the violence will return, and a specific fear about the safety of opposition candidates and voters in about 10 key constituencies where Mugabe's most powerful cronies are standing. I gave a list of these seats to Robin Cook when I met him this week.

What is more, Zimbabwe's electoral rolls are works of fiction. Tens of thousands of younger voters have been removed because so many are fiercely determined to reclaim their country from Mugabe's vicious grip.

The real question remain ing is whether Zanu-PF's rigging the election will work.

Despite the naked abuse of power by Mugabe, the MDC still believes that it can win enough seats to provide a significant nucleus of opposition. The MDC's members are brave and resolute people, who risk their lives every day by speaking up for their beliefs.

So what can we do? Above all, I was repeatedly told that if Britain and other nations can ensure that election monitors will stay on after the election, people will be reassured that they can cast their votes without fear of reprisals.

Mugabe is hated, but Zimbabwean observers worry that the biggest block to a mass anti-Mugabe vote is fear that after the election he will unleash violence on his own people, as he did in 1985.

Members of the army's notorious fifth brigade, which carried out massacres in Matabeleland in the 80s, have already made public visits to towns and villages where support for the opposition is strongest. The message is chilling and clear. Areas that do not vote for Zanu-PF will be targeted for reprisals.

Britain should quietly co-ordinate a coalition of states and organisations - South Africa, the Commonwealth, the EU, and the US - to press for monitors to stay in the country for several weeks after the elections. In all likelihood, lives - perhaps the lives of Zimbabwe's new generation of leaders - depend on this.

Mugabe himself is immune to influence and diplomacy. But there are things that can be done. Only this week, the MDC has asked the outside world to freeze overseas assets of Mugabe and his cronies. I strongly agree. The world could also target senior members of Zimbabwe's regime with travel bans. They, including Mugabe himself, should be international pariahs if they continue in their present course.

There is also the question of what to do after the election. If Zanu-PF wins the election, and it is clear that the will of the people has been flouted, the Common wealth must move to suspend Zimbabwe forthwith.

Zimbabwe is not all gloom. The country is a success story waiting to happen. One woman I talked to reminded me that both blacks and whites were being struck off the electoral roll in equal numbers because both share a common view of the future, a future without Mugabe.

Africa's generation of Marxist nationalists is giving way. Some, like Mugabe, will not go quietly. The new world that is emerging - both in Africa and Europe - is a world of universal values of democracy, open economies and the rule of law. We need to do our bit to make sure that Zimbabwe can become part of this new world. So far, we have let it down.

- Francis Maude is shadow foreign secretary.

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Mugabe Attacks U.N. Over Zimbabwe Poll Observers

Sunday June 11 9:34 AM ET - By Manoah Esipisu

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has accused the United Nations of trying to seize control of all international observers ahead of the country's crucial June 24-25 parliamentary election.

The official Sunday Mail newspaper quoted Mugabe as saying the U.N. had tried to hijack the election observation process instead of deploying its own independent observers.

The United Nations said on Friday it had pulled out of the election process in Zimbabwe after the government rejected its offer to coordinate the numerous international observers.

``I never invited the United Nations to send a coordination team. I asked them to send an observer team,'' Mugabe told a rally in the town of Marondera, north of the capital Harare, late on Saturday.

``The world body tried to hijack the election monitoring process. Instead of sending observers, the U.N. wanted to send an irrelevant technical team, which wanted to coordinate the whole process,'' Mugabe was quoted as saying.

Representatives of the European Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the Organization of African Unity are among the thousands of foreign and local observers monitoring the campaign and the elections themselves.

Opposition Says Process Flawed

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the withdrawal of the U.N. team confirmed the MDC contention that the process was fundamentally flawed and a free and fair poll was impossible.

``For an African Secretary-General of the U.N. (Kofi Annan) to show his displeasure in this way is a serious commentary on the actions of an African despot,'' Tsvangirai said in a statement issued in Harare on Sunday.

Tsvangirai urged all other international groups of observers to stay, ``to bear witness to the appalling human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe today'' and ``to give our people the sense of security to...cast their votes.''

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has enlisted African National Congress (ANC) Women's League President Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to boost its flagging campaign in urban areas. The former wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela was due to address a rally in a suburb of the capital on Sunday.

The weekly Standard newspaper reported, meanwhile, that the polls could be legally challenged on the ground that the statutory Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) had failed to exercise some of its key constitutional obligations.

``A consultant with the ESC, Rejoice Ngwenya, confirmed that the ESC had not taken part in the supervision of voter registration and that it had also not been consulted in matters of the modification of the Electoral Act,'' the newspaper said.

Challenge Possible

The modification, contained in a government gazette notice published on Friday, allows only members of a ``disciplined force'' and those outside the country on government business and their spouses to vote through the postal system.

The ESC has the task of supervising the electoral process and the elections themselves.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights group and MDC officials said sidelining the ESC could lead to a challenge of the poll results. They said there was already widespread abuse of the electoral process.

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

``There are far too many people being killed in front of an election. Far too many. That's not a good omen for an election,'' he told BBC Television's Breakfast with Frost.

At least 27 people have died and hundreds, mainly MDC supporters, hundreds of others have been beaten, raped or forced to flee their homes in the last few months.

ZANU-PF and allied veterans of the country's liberation war are blamed for most of the violence.

The attacks followed the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms since February by liberation war veterans and Mugabe supporters.

Mugabe, 76, faces the biggest challenge of his 20 years in power from the MDC. Mugabe and Tsvangirai were on Sunday addressing rallies in rural districts.

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Zimbabwe Criticizes U.N. Monitoring

The Associated Press - Jun 11 2000 12:25PM ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - President Robert Mugabe accused the United Nations of trying to hijack international monitoring of Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections later this month, a state-run newspaper reported Sunday.

Mugabe, reacting to the withdrawal of U.N. officials from monitoring operations, said the world body had tried to assume ``an illegitimate role'' in coordinating the election observers, The Sunday Mail reported. About 300 foreign observers have arrived so far.

Mugabe said he had invited U.N. observers to work alongside other monitoring groups during the elections, scheduled for June 24-25.

But U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard explained in a statement from New York: ``If we are not doing the coordination, there is no point in us being there.''

Mugabe insisted the world body had ``tried to hijack the election monitoring process'' by assuming responsibility for compiling a final report with conclusions from all foreign groups, including the Commonwealth of former British territories, the European Union and the 14-nation Southern Africa Development Community, The Sunday Mail said.

Other foreign observers said the U.N. withdrawal would not affect their operations. But some groups, including the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, said the U.N. withdrawal could hurt the ballot's credibility.

Amnesty International and other groups have doubted that free and fair elections were possible in Zimbabwe because of the ruling party militants occupying 1,400 white-owned farms, and because of a ``state-sponsored terror'' campaign that has left at least 30 people dead, most of them opposition supporters.

``The problems there do not really look as though they are conducive to free and fair elections,'' Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon told the British Broadcasting Corp.

``Far too many people have been killed. It is not a good omen,'' McKinnon said Sunday in London.

The election poses the biggest challenge to Mugabe since he led the nation to independence from Britain in 1980. Opponents have said he supported the illegal farm occupations to increase his vote in the poll.

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Zimbabwe bishops condemn violence, urge free poll

Reuters - Jun 10 2000 6:11AM ET

HARARE, June 10 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's influential Catholic bishops on Saturday urged President Robert Mugabe's government to ensure a free and fair general election and condemned a wave of violence that has largely been blamed on his supporters.

The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference said in a statement the country's political environment had deteriorated in the run up to the June 24-25 parliamentary poll, noting people were being attacked over their right to free association and expression.

``Violence has already claimed more than 26 lives and injured many more. Some people have fled their homes and are now living like refugees in their own country,'' they said.

The violence -- which many say is led by liberation war veterans loyal to Mugabe -- has severely disrupted school, hospital and farming operations across the southern African country and created widespread fear, they said.

``In this light we condemn the pre-election violence and the killings that have taken place in our country. Nobody should ever have to suffer reprisals for honestly expressing and living up to their convictions, be they intellectual, religious or political,'' they said.

``We therefore issue a plea to all political parties and their supporters to desist from any form of violence.

``We call upon the government to ensure that its organs like the police and the media revisit their national obligation of service to the nation and all its citizens and not to be partisan,'' the nine bishops said.

The opposition says Mugabe -- Zimbabwe's sole ruler since the former Rhodesia overthrew white-minority rule 20 years ago -- has reduced the country's police into an extension of his ruling ZANU-PF party. The government and the police deny the charge.

Around 50 percent of Zimbabwe's population is Catholic and Mugabe was educated by Jesuits. Many of the country's schools and hospitals are run by the Catholic Church.

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Zimbabwe Ministers to Invest in Diamond Company, FT Says

Bloomberg News - Jun 10 2000 5:56AM

London, June 10 (Bloomberg) -- Two ministers in the Zimbabwean government, led by President Robert Mugabe, are directors of a company planning to invest in Oryx, a diamond miner seeking an initial share offering in London on Tuesday, the Financial Times reported without citing sources. Emmerson Mnangagwa, a minister of justice, and Sidney Sekeremayi are listed as directors of Zidco Holdings Private Ltd., which will take an estimated 0.24 percent stake in Oryx worth 120,000 pounds ($181,000), the newspaper said. Oryx has an agreement with the Zimbabwean government to mine diamonds worth about $1 billion in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the newspaper said.

Mugabe said the government could seize all white-owned land in the nation, warning white farmers they will die if they try to resist squatters occupying their farms, Agence France-Presse reported.

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Commonwealth mission expects full Zimbabwe access

Reuters - Jun 10 2000 11:32AM ET

HARARE, June 10 (Reuters) - The Commonwealth's observer mission to Zimbabwe began work ahead of June 24-25 elections on Saturday, saying it expected President Robert Mugabe's government to give it full access to all areas during the poll.

Delegation leader and former Nigerian military leader Abdulsalami Abubakar told a news conference in Harare that his group was fully independent and committed to bringing confidence to voters unsettled by pre-poll violence.

``(The group) will aim to give confidence to the voters and enable us to obtain a representative sample of the electoral process so that we can make judgement called for by our terms of reference,'' Abubakar said at a press conference.

Abubakar handed Nigeria's government over to civilian rulers last year after 15 years of army rule.

``This group is independent of (Commonwealth Secretary General) (Don) McKinnon. It is also independent of the countries from which we have come and any organisations to which we may belong,'' said Abubakar, who heads a 44-member team.

``During Mr McKinnon's visit here (in May), President Mugabe assured him that the observer group would have access to all areas. We have not been informed of any word to the contrary,'' said Abubakar, accompanied by many delegation members.


Abubakar played down a decision by the United Nations to withdraw a technical team intended to coordinate international observer efforts, saying the Commonwealth could go it alone.

``The pulling out of the U.N. (technical team) does not affect our work at all. We are an independent body capable of making our own arrangements,'' he said.

The U.N. team pulled out of the election process after the government rejected its offer to coordinate international observers.

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


Privately, members of the group were sceptical of a free and fair election against a background of violence that has killed at least 27 people, mainly opposition supporters.

``It is a difficult process. But we are coming in against a background of election violence. People have died. People have been injured. Many white farms are occupied. The process would already appear to be tainted,'' one observer said.

``Many of us come with a sceptical mind in terms of whether the election can be free and fair. But we will be talking to government and opposition officials, non-government agencies, rights groups and ordinary voters in the coming days to have a broader view of things,'' added another observer.

Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri dismissed opposition fears of a slare-up of violence on the voting weekend, saying the police would do their job of maintaining law and order.

The violence followed the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms since February by liberation war veterans and Mugabe supporters claiming land they say was stolen during the British colonial era a century ago.

Zimbabwe's police, criticised for standing by while mobs of veterans and Mugabe supporters wreaked havoc in the countryside, began enforcing the law in late May.

Veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi has warned hundreds of election observers who have arrived from the European Union, the Commonwealth and the Southern African Development Community to steer clear of the emotive land issue.

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Zimbabwe Observers To Carry On

The Associated Press - Jun 10 2000 2:21PM ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - The withdrawal of U.N. observers from Zimbabwe will not affect the role of other foreign observers who are in the southern African nation to make sure that upcoming parliamentary elections are free and fair, officials said Saturday.

The United Nations said Friday that President Robert Mugabe had reneged on an agreement to permit the world body's observers to coordinate all foreign observer missions and that there was not enough time for the United Nations to renegotiate its role there.

``If we are not doing the coordination, there is no point in us being there,'' U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York.

However, observers from the Commonwealth of former British territories, the European Union and the 14-nation Southern Africa Development Community will remain in place to monitor the June 24-25 poll.

``We are here to see whether conditions exist for a free expression of will by electors,'' said Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar of Nigeria, chairman of the 44-member Commonwealth group.

Sanna Jonson, a spokeswoman for the 210-member EU observer group, said the U.N. pullout was regrettable but ``we will carry on.''

The main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change, criticized the decision by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to withdraw U.N. observers.

``For any electoral process to receive the stamp of moral authority from the international community, it needs recognition from the United Nations,'' said party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Abubakar said the presence of international observers and about 14,000 domestic election monitors from church, human rights and civic groups at 4,000 polling stations across the country aimed to ensure voters' security and give them confidence.

The human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday it doubted that free and fair elections were possible because of a wave of land takeovers spearheaded by veterans of the war that led to independence from white minority rule in 1980. The government has ignored constitutional ownership rights and laws protecting private property during the often-violent occupations of more than 1,400 white-owned farms that began in February.

Earlier this month, the government announced the state would immediately begin seizing 804 mostly white-owned farms.

More than 5,000 cases of political violence have been reported in Zimbabwe since February, when a government-sponsored referendum on a new constitution was defeated. At least 30 people, mainly opposition supporters, have been killed.

The election poses the biggest challenge to Mugabe since he led the nation to independence from Britain in 1980. Opponents say his support for the farm occupations is a ploy to increase his vote in the poll.

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'Deranged' Mugabe to seize more land

Andrew Meldrum in Harare - Thursday June 8, 2000 The Guardian

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said yesterday that his government would seize all the country's land and if any whites were allowed to continue farming it would be out of "our own charity".

He was giving a pep talk to his party's 120 candidates for the parliamentary elections due on June 24 and 25. Mr Mugabe told leaders of Zanu-PF that his government is planning to take more than the 841 farms it has already designated for redistribution.

"It's not just the 841 farms we are looking at," Mr Mugabe said. "We are looking at the totality of our land. If we allow others to have portions of it, that must be on the basis of our own will, our own desire, our own charity. It will not be on the basis of our colonial history."

He said the government had succeeded in its campaign to take land away from white farmers as a result of help from the veterans of the war against Rhodesian rule.

"Thanks to our veterans and the nation must thank them," Mr Mugabe said to enthusiastic applause.

His statements were attacked by the leading opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Its president, Morgan Tsvangirai, dismissed Mr Mugabe's pledge to seize all farmland as "deranged".

"The land policy is being determined by a man who is no longer rational," Mr Tsvangirai said.

He said the illegal occupation of 1,400 white-owned farms by the war veterans and other Zanu-PF supporters was planned by Mr Mugabe. "It was an orchestrated plan to invade the farms and intimidate the opposition. The war veterans and other Zanu-PF thugs carried out those orders. But the majority of the war veterans are law-abiding people who respect order."

Three prospective MDC candidates for parliament were killed by Zanu-PF supporters last month and Mr Tsvangirai said that several of the opposition party's new candidates have been threatened.

"Zanu-PF and state operatives are targeting some of our candidates," he said. "They are not safe and we are taking steps to protect them. We face a resurgence of violence to dissuade voters from voting."

The MDC's secretary general, Welshman Ncube, excoriated Mr Mugabe's praise of the war veterans. "It is irrational to ask Zimbabweans who have lost 29 lives to political violence to thank the so-called war veterans responsible for that violence," Mr Ncube said.

"It is irrational to expect the families of the women who have been raped to thank the war veterans. The 7,000 to 10,000 people who are homeless in their own country as a result of violence will not thank the war veterans. Nor will the thousands of teachers who have had to flee their schools. All the people who have suffered intimidation and have been beaten have no reason to thank the so-called war veterans."

ANC rapped for supporting violence

Farai Mutsaka - The Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000

PROFESSOR Welshman Ncube, the secretary-general for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has blasted South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) for supporting the current spate of farm invasions and violence.

Ncube said the ANC was making enemies in Zimbabwe by going to bed with Zanu PF, which is employing terror tactics to win votes. "By supporting government-sponsored land invasions and the political violence in Zimbabwe, the ANC is making enemies with the people of Zimbabwe," Ncube told a news conference last week.

Ncube said it was unfortunate that the ANC had decided to work in league with the ruling Zanu PF thereby endorsing the ruling party's violence as a campaign strategy.

While the ANC had a right to associate with Zanu PF or any other political party, it was doing a disservice to Zimbabweans and therefore was making enemies with those people who had been affected by Zanu PF's terror campaign, he said.

The ANC has recently been making public statements in support Zanu PF's land reform programme and the tactics used by the ruling party in handling the programme.

President Mugabe has endorsed the current farm invasions as a necessary step in the land reform programme. The invasions have led to widespread violence and intimidation of farmers, farm workers and opposition supporters. Twenty-eight people, mai-nly opposition supporters, have died as a result of the violence, largely blamed on the ruling party.

As a ruling party, the ANC was bound to demand that the Zimbabwean government respect the rule of law and hold free and fair elections.

"It is unfortunate that the ANC has decided to stand on the side of violence, rape, murder and lawlessness which are being sponsored by Zanu PF. The ANC has decided to ignore violations of international treaties and abandon its duty of enforcing international conventions and its own Bill of Rights which enforces the right of people to life," he stated.

Executive members from the MDC recently met with the ANC leadership to discuss issues concerning Zimbabwe.

At the meeting, the ANC denounced violence and farm invasions. However, at a recent meeting with Zanu PF officials in Johannesburg, the ANC never made these demands. Instead they showed solidarity with Zanu PF in its orgy of violence. This left some believing that the ANC was employing double standards.

Observers point out that ANC's real motive has nothing to do with the issues on the ground such as violence. They say the ANC is rather worried about the prospects of another labour-backed government taking over power as this could set a "bad" precedence in the region. If the MDC wins this month's election it would become the second government to be formed from a labour movement after Frederick Chiluba's Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in Zambia.

"The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is becoming increasingly powerful and this could be worrying the South African government," commented one observer.

Some of the observers said the ANC government would prefer a reformed Zanu PF government than a labour-backed MDC government running Zimbabwe.

Tony Yengeni, ANC parliamentary chief whip, and head of the South African observer group head of delegation, on Thursday told The Standard that he had been impressed by Zanu PF's election campaign and said his impression from his meeting with the ruling party was that the party was "thoroughly prepared for the election" and enthusiastic of winning a majority vote. He, however, could not divulge his party's policy towards Zanu PF.

Violence could lead to results being nullified, says judge

Staff Writer - the Zimbabwe Standard, 11 June 2000

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

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

Beta complained that his supporters had been denied the opportunity to vote because they did not have lodgers' cards and were thus unable to prove their status.

Beta produced affidavits of eight people in support of his claim.

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

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

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

The judge said to give a topical example gleaned from current events, one would have to be singularly isolated from public affairs to be unaware of current unrest and political discord in the country.

"Even an ivory tower would not be above the news. As far as a court of law is concerned, whatever might be the knowledge or belief of those closer to events than our lofty judicial detachment, none of the allegations I am about to repeat can be regarded as anything other than unproven allegations. They serve, nevertheless, to illustrate the point I wish to make. One hears the charges that people are being murdered by reason of their candidacy for, or contributions to, a certain political party. "The people are being subjected to beatings and torments for their political adherence; that agents provocateurs induce people to betray their views by simulating the gesture and slogans of those they wish to persecute; that whole communities of people are herded into €˜reeducation centres' and then subjected to diverse brutalities and humiliations designed to subjugate their freedom of choice. If any such misdeeds were established in any particular constituency, then that may be an irregularity or transgression of the electoral ethic and might justify the inference that the result must have been affected. The nullification of the poll at that constituency might be warranted," he said. Justice Gillespie said no matter what perception or notoriety may attend such allegations, no court would act upon them unless they were proven.

"Once proven, whether before polling, in order to restrain such practices, or thereafter, to impeach them, then the court has full power to intervene. Power, of course, in the sense of jurisdiction and moral authority. The court, like the Pope, has no divisions. For the efficacy of its orders the court relies upon the submission of the executive to the rule of law." he said.

Zimbabwe to Stage Biggest Ever Elections

HARARE, Zimbabwe (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, June 11, 2000) - The parliamentary elections Zimbabwe will hold this month will be the biggest the country has ever held in terms of people registered to vote and candidates vying to be elected, poll officials said at the weekend.

More than five million people, out of the country's estimated population of 12.4 million, have registered to vote while a total of 566 candidates are standing in the election, the first in which the ruling ZANU-PF party is being opposed in all 120 constituencies.

The labour-backed opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is the only other party to field candidates in all areas where in the past the governing party won unopposed.

However, most of the candidates are concentrated in urban areas where opposition parties enjoy strong support and where they are expected to do better than ZANU-PF's stronghold in rural areas.

Parliamentary elections in the past were characterised by voter apathy in which the majority of the electorate, especially in towns, did not even bother to register.

Political analysts said the prospect of ZANU-PF's defeat, deduced from the government's failure in February to win a referendum on a new constitution, had galvanised electoral interest in the 24-25 June poll.

by Rangarirai Shoko


Political analysts say Mugabe's government is facing its biggest challenge since it came to power from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has built a strong campaign on allegations that his administration has run down one of Africa's most promising economies.

Mugabe says the MDC is sponsored by his Western opponents, and is insistent, despite strong denials, that former colonial power Britain is leading an international campaign to oust his government over its plans to seize farms from whites for blacks.

Mugabe told a rally in eastern Zimbabwe on Friday that if Britain imposed economic sanctions, it could only gravely harm British entrepreneurs who own some 400 firms that control the mining sector and have a firm influence in manufacturing.

Mobs of government supporters have invaded hundreds of white-owned farms since February to back his plans but many believe it is part of his campaign against the opposition.

Mugabe to Expel Party Members Running as Independents in Poll

MARONDERA, Zimbabwe (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, June 11, 2000) - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party has resolved to expel 20 members contesting this month's parliamentary polls as independent candidates after losing in primary elections, party leader President Robert Mugabe said at the weekend.

He said the party, which has been in power since the southern African country gained independence from Britain in 1980, would not re-admit the rebels into ZANU-PF even if they won in the elections.

"There is no such thing as an independent ZANU-PF candidate. All those standing as independents will never be re-admitted into the party whether they win or lose," Mugabe said at a campaign rally in the eastern farming town of Marondera.

Several ZANU-PF members, especially former MPs who were voted out in the primary elections, have registered to stand as independent candidates in the 24- 25 June parliamentary elections.

Attempts by senior party officials to persuade the rebels to drop out from the race, and avoid splitting votes, have failed.

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

by Rangarirai Shoko

Commonwealth Chief Doubts Fair Zimbabwe Poll

LONDON, June 11 (Reuters) - Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon said on Sunday that conditions in Zimbabwe did not appear conducive to free and fair elections.

McKinnon, who has sent a team of observers to monitor the June 24-25 parliamentary election, said recent violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe was "not a good omen."

"I've only had preliminary reports because (the Commonwealth team) haven't been out into the countryside, but one still has to be concerned that the problems there don't really look as though they are conducive to free and fair elections," he said.

"There are far too many people being killed in front of an election. Far too many. That's not a good omen for an election," he told BBC Television's Breakfast with Frost.

The Commonwealth has expressed concern at a recent wave of violence which has killed at least 27 people, mainly opposition supporters, after invasions of white-owned farms by liberation war veterans and supporters of President Robert Mugabe.

The war veterans say the land was stolen during the British colonial era a century ago. Opposition figures say the land invasions are aimed at crushing dissent before the election.

"When I was there three or four weeks ago there was clearly the issue of violence, there was clearly the issue of voter intimidation," McKinnon said.

McKinnon said the 54-nation Commonwealth was unlikely to take swift action if it deemed the elections unsatisfactory.

But he said that a critical report from the organisation, made up of Britain and most of its former colonies, could not be ignored in Zimbabwe.

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

The Commonwealth has sent a 44-strong team to Zimbabwe. It will deploy four observers to each of Zimbabwe's 10 electoral provinces to assess the political environment and determine whether the poll is free and fair.

Veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi has warned hundreds of election observers who have arrived from the European Union, the Commonwealth and the Southern African Development Community to steer clear of the emotive land issue.

The United Nations said last week it had pulled out of the election process in Zimbabwe after the Harare government rejected its offer to coordinate the international observers.

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