Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Sunday Telegraph [UK] 11 June 2000

† Mugabe mob terrorises villagers as observers look the other way
By David Blair in Mataga, Zimbabwe

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

They ruthlessly hunt down anyone suspected of backing Sekai Holland, the
candidate for the Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition

For Girly Chinyerere, the arrival of 24 fanatical supporters of
President Robert Mugabe at her village home marked the beginning of an
ordeal that she shuddered to recall. They came at dawn, brandishing
whips, chains, iron bars and clubs studded with rusty nails, their
advance betrayed by loud cries of "Forward with comrade Mugabe!"

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

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

On the advice of MDC officials, we took seven guards, known as "The
Karate Boys", to guarantee our safety in an area where roads are lined
with the blackened shells of burnt-out huts.

Mrs Chinyerere's experience is commonplace. The Zanu-PF mob, knowing
that she was an MDC member, hurled stones at her windows while she hid
in terror. They grabbed her 18-year-old daughter and shouted: "We will
beat her until you come out." Mrs Chinyerere emerged and the gang set
upon her. She said: "They beat me everywhere. On my back, my feet, my
legs, everywhere." Her assailants demanded the names of MDC supporters
and the surrender of her membership card.

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

Her ordeal was far from over. A week later, as she and her husband,
Daniel, who is a junior MDC official, sat amid broken glass and smashed
furniture, the mob returned and stoned their house before stealing
everything of value and breaking what they could not carry. For good
measure, they set fire to two huts used as storehouses.

When Mr Chinyerere tried to report the crime, 50 men wearing Zanu-PF T-
shirts ambushed him en route to the police station. He said: "They just
attacked me, beating me everywhere and shouting, 'We will kill you, you
will die'." The mob broke his left arm and left him covered with bruises
and weals. Mr Chinyerere said: "I am in fear; I know they will try to
find me. Now I cannot work and I don't know how we will live."

The couple have six children and the youngest boy, who is eight,
witnessed the assault on his mother. After countless incidents of this
sort, Mr Mugabe's opponents in Mberengwa believe that even the presence
of international observers cannot lift the stifling atmosphere of

One MDC activist said: "What are they doing in Harare? What are they
observing there? But even if they do come here, it is too late. People
are so afraid." At one school visited by Zanu-PF thugs last week ,
teachers were unwilling to show their faces. A group of eight people,
some wearing bandages, queued outside the police station in Mataga
village, waiting to report more assaults.

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

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From The Independent on Sunday [UK] 11 June 2000

Mugabe win set to be rejected by UK†

By Colin Brown and James Roberts†

Britain is preparing to reject a victory for President Robert
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in Zimbabwe's elections because of the
state-sponsored intimidation of the opposition.†

On Friday the United Nations pulled out of the election process
after the government in Harare rejected its offer to co-ordinate
international observers. Mr Mugabe demoted the UN to participation
as an observer group monitoring the parliamentary elections
scheduled for 24 and 25 June.†

The UN withdrawal has strengthened the belief among British
ministers that the elections have been rigged through intimidation
to re-elect Mr Mugabe's party. The Government has been convinced by
intelligence reports that the elections cannot be free and fair.†

"We are going to walk away from them," said a ministerial source.
Secret intelligence reports to the Foreign Office have revealed
that the Zimbabwean President ordered the destruction of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change before elections were

Ministers received the reports in February. They disclosed that
President Mugabe had faced calls for his resignation by at least
six speakers at a closed meeting of the Zanu-PF council, and that
he had ordered the destruction of the MDC.†

The killings of white farmers were seen in Britain as racial
attacks on the white minority, but ministers are convinced they are
part of the concerted campaign of intimidation against MDC

Mr Mugabe's stormtroopers are mostly ruling party thugs operating
in the guise of war veterans.†

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

Britain was hoping that South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki would
act as an intermediary in the crisis, and help Mr Mugabe to see
that his policies would only lead to isolation for Zimbabwe.†

However, South Africa's ruling African National Congress appears to
be supporting Zanu-PF. In an interview published in the Mail and
Guardian newspaper, Kgalema Motlanthe, the ANC secretary general,
said the situation in Zimbabwe had suffered from a
"misrepresentation of the facts" by the media.†

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

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim refuses UK electoral expert entry

June 09 2000 at 08:37PM

Harare - A British electoral expert, sent to Zimbabwe to train observers for
June 24 to 25 parliamentary polls, was detained at Harare airport before
being sent back to Britain, a source at the British High Commission said on

The source, who did not want to be named, said the expert came to Zimbabwe
under the auspices of the European Union, but was sent back to Britain on
Tuesday after being detained at the airport.

The European Commission is expected to take up the issue with the Zimbabwe
goverment, the spokesperson said.

President Robert Mugabe has categorically stated that he does not want
British observers to oversee elections in his country, claiming that their
verdict would be biased as a result of the diplomatic war of words between
his country and its former colonial master.

No such sanction was placed, however, on election monitors from other

The European Union has the largest international election observation
mission in the country. There are expected to be 200 campaign observers in
the country by polling days. - Sapa-AFP
Back to the Top
Back to Index

SADZA GROWTH POINT, Zimbabwe, June 10 (AFP) - Zimbabwe President†
Robert Mugabe denied Saturday that the occupation of some 1,500
white-owned farms by squatters led by independence war veterans was
an electioneering gimmick, and accused Britain of complicating the
land reform process.
†† He told a cheering crowd of about 5,000 supporters that the land†
reform process would intensify after parliamentary elections on June
24 and 25, and warned that no efforts by Britain would sway Zimbabwe
from distributing the farms to landless blacks.
†† "We hope that the war veterans on the farms will remain†
peaceful. This is not for the purpose of elections. You will
discover that after the elections the process will be more
rigorous," he said.
†† Mugabe was addressing an election campaign rally at this rural†
service centre in Chikomba district, some 200 kilometres (120 miles)
southwest of the capital, the rural home of his wife Grace and where
veterans' leader Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi is standing as the ruling
party candidate in the elections.
†† Hunzvi has led a private army of thousands of war veterans and†
landless villagers occupying the white-owned farms -- often
violently -- arguing they are only reclaiming their land stolen from
their ancestors by the British colonialists. Four white farmers are
among some 29 people killed in political violence since February.
†† Mugabe told the rally that it was only Britain that was†
complicating the resolution of the land dispute.
†† "We hope that the situation will be solved amicably but Britain†
is not making things easy. The more they organise against our
government, the more resistant we will become," he said.
†† "Once we are determined that the issue has to be resolved, we†
will ensure it is resolved - sanctions or no sanctions," he said.
†† Britain, the former colonial power, has offered Zimbabwe aid for†
land reforms but only on condition that free and fair elections are
held and that violence ceases.
†† "The British colonial system was one of vast oppression across†
the globe and in Zimbabwe it took the worst form of unilateral
declaration of independence (by white settlers under prime minister
Ian Smith, opposed to rule by London)," Mugabe said.
†† "We had to go to war to undo the illegality, to undo†
lawlessness, to get rid of lack of democracy, violation of human
rights," he added.
†† Mugabe told supporters at the rally that Britain could never†
teach Zimbabwe lessons on democracy.
†† "Instead we should teach them," he declared.†
†† "We will not learn anything from any other country", Mugabe†
†† He added that international poll observers here should know that†
they were in Zimbabwe just to observe, and should know that Zimbabwe
had never rigged elections.
†† "We have never, ever cheated even one election," he said†
accusing the "children" in power in Britain of alleging there was
fraud in the Zimbabwean electoral process.
†† "There is no aid that is more important than our land," he†
†† Mugabe once again accused Britain of interfering with Zimbabwe's†
supplies of petrol and diesel by trying to hijack tankers on the
high seas ferrying Zimbabwe's oil, with the intention of causing
hardships and discontent.
†† "That's why I say (British Foreign Secretary) Robin Cook has†
become Robin Crook," he told his cheering supporters.
†† But the president said his government had not changed its†
reconciliation attitude towards white Zimbabweans.
†† "We still say to whites we haven't changed an iota. What we†
don't want to see is a process that reverses our revolution. That
process we will resist," he said.

Mugabe says he will wait for party congress to decide on his retirement

†MARONDERA, Zimbabwe, June 10 (AFP) - Zimbabwe President Robert†
Mugabe, now 76, declared Saturday he would retire from office only
after his ruling party voted him out.
†† Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence from†
Britain 20 years ago, and whose current term expires in 2002, told
an election rally in this town southeast of Harare that some members
of the last parliament who have been calling for him to step down
were wasting their time.
†† "Some people in (the former) parliament want Mugabe to be†
removed from power," he said. "I will only give up power if the
congress so decides."
†† "If the congress votes us out, well we will go," he said.†
†† The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front†
(ZANU-PF) holds its congress every five years, the last in December
last year.
†† Mugabe also announced that his government would seriously†
consider establishing a senate in the next parliament, due to be
elected on June 24-25.
†† The current constitution does not provide for a bicameral†

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Sunday Times [UK] 11th June 2000

Lone farmer defies poll death threats

Tom Walker, Chimanimani, Zimbabwe

IF ONE thing could improve Roy Bennett's lot this weekend, it would be
the return of a cavalry officer's sword that belonged to his great
grandfather. It was last seen being waved by a drunken war veteran
driving Bennett's tractor haphazardly through the main street of
Chimanimani, crying: "Kill the white pig."

There are a few other items on Bennett's wish list, such as a democratic
country, but to recover his sword and other stolen property - running to
six pages on the local police report - would be a start.

Then, he says, he could get on with his parliamentary campaign as the
only white farmer standing for the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe's general election.

While his colleagues have adopted their union's tactic of appeasement of
the ruling Zanu-PF party in the face of a campaign of intimidation,
Bennett has, in his own words, "shoved my head way above the parapet".

He is now top on the war veterans' death list, and police have warned
him that a second assault on his farm is imminent. Next time, he has
been told, his assailants will be armed with Kalashnikovs supplied by
the secret police.

In most of Zimbabwe the MDC has all but disappeared underground, with
Morgan Tsvangirai, its leader, relying on his followers to vote in
silence. Bennett, tucked away on his Charleswood coffee estate on the
hilly Mozambique border, has other ideas.

"Our workers feel betrayed by the way we've gone quiet," he said. "First
they wear the MDC T-shirts with pride and then we tell them to hide them
while the farmers run away. Well, I said, 'Enough of this, I'm coming
back.' I have a moral obligation to my people."

When Bennett says "his people" he means not only his 400 farm workers
but the entire population of the Chimanimani region, an area of mist-
shrouded upland beauty described by travel agents as Zimbabwe's best-
kept secret.

A stocky 43-year-old of ripe vocabulary, Bennett wants the 7,000-acre
Charleswood to become an advanced coffee producer, supplying rich roasts
through a website and dramatically increasing the local standard of

Already he supports farming and educational projects in nearby villages.
He is so popular that he is known as "pachedu" (together), but to
achieve his goals he needs the present government to be removed.

Sickened by Zanu-PF infighting and corruption, Bennett went against his
instincts and into politics earlier this year. Initially he campaigned
under the Zanu-PF banner, hoping he could fight the one-party state from
within. When the MDC emerged, he switched after consulting his workers.
Not only was he a colonialist farmer in Zanu-PF's eyes; he was now a
traitor, too.

Since then, Bennett has happily aired his views on the president and his
elite, pulling no punches. "As soon as the MDC is in government, Mugabe
should be impeached," he said.

Many in the commercial farmers' union believe his bravado borders on the
suicidal but, despite a daily deluge of telephone threats, he is
cheerfully pulling his farm back into shape after its invasion a month
ago. After countless meetings with Zanu-PF and the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO), or secret police, he and his farm managers were
finally allowed back last week.

One reason for his quiet confidence is the presence of MDC bodyguards,
who have the farm perimeter staked out. "We'll shoot back if they try
anything," said one of their commanders, a giant of a man in size 14
boots who has already helped to repulse an attempt by the war veterans
to return with their customary array of clubs and sticks.

Yesterday there was renewed tension as a lorry laden with veterans was
seen down the road and Bennett's wife, Heather, and son, Charles, both
left the farm.

Although it had endangered his repayment of a £1m bank loan, Bennett
said the invasion had its comical aspects. The estate was plunged into
the realms of the absurd as Agrippa Natanga, the local CIO chief,
allegedly took over.

"Down with Pachedu," the workers were forced to chant. "Down with his
wife, down with his whores. Down with his dogs, down with his cats."

Charging into the Bennetts' house, the veterans broke into the bathroom,
found Heather's perfumes and began dousing themselves. "I wish I'd had a
fly-on-the-wall camera," said Bennett.

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

The workers claim that Natanga made the house his base camp. Villagers
with MDC connections were summoned at gunpoint and forced to sing the
praises of Zanu-PF as they were stretched across a coffee table and

Natanga, who works from an unmarked building between a sprawling
bougainvillea and the quaintly chaotic Chimanimani police station, hotly
denied any role in the invasion. Asked about rumours that Bennett would
be killed before the election, he said: "But that would be an offence!"

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Sunday Times [UK] June 11 2000 AFRICA

Mugabe seizes control of independent poll observers
RW Johnson

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

Mugabe has also objected to United Nations co-ordination of the
observers, causing the UN to withdraw and leaving the monitoring project
in a state of crisis.

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

One European Union observer said: "They seem to have expected that we
would send three or four observers, a day or two before the poll.
Instead, soon there will be 200 EU observers." The Commonwealth will
have a further 45, the Americans 30 and the South Africans 50.

More are arriving all the time - from other southern African nations,
Canada, Australia, Norway and the Organisation of African Unity -
although there cannot be enough to watch all 3,600 polling stations.

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

But the government decree will bar political party members from acting
as monitors. Opposition groups say this is an attempt to ensure that all
polling station officials will be Zanu-PF loyalists.

Isaac Maphosa, of the National Constitutional Assembly, believes the
government is doing all it can to suborn observers. Since the ruling
parties of South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Lesotho have backed
Zanu-PF, it is regarded as a foregone conclusion that many of their
representatives will declare the election free and fair, whatever

Already the Zambians have announced that they are sure the elections
will be so, and that "Africa does not need international observers to
legitimise its elections". The Americans and Europeans seem certain to
go the other way, producing a split.

Pierre Schori, leader of the EU delegation, has already demanded fair
broadcasting coverage for the opposition (it currently gets none) and
said that the election could have a "profound effect" on future
relations with EU countries.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

5 June 2000

Press statement by Graham McIntosh, MP

Spokesperson for the DP delegation to Zimbabwe

DP pleased to be part of SA delegation to Zim

The DP is pleased to be part of the South African parliamentary delegation to observe the Zimbabwean elections. It is particularly pleased that parliament took up the DP suggestion that instead of the initial delegation of seven MPs it be tripled in size. The delegation of twenty is a recognition of the critical importance of South Africa in the region and that we are the country with the most influence on Zimbabwe.

The DP delegation of three is under my leadership. Dan Maluleke from Gauteng and Stuart Farrow from the Eastern Cape are the other MPs on the team. The leader of the team is Mr Tony Yengeni MP who is the Chief Whip of the ANC. There will be a team of support staff.

The DP delegation recognises that the South African parliament has a vital interest in democracy in our region and wants to support and observe the process in Zimbabwe. Without in any way detracting from the DP's role as the leading opposition party in the South African parliament, the DP looks forward to making a useful and constructive contribution to the parliamentary delegation.

Within the South African parliament there is a unifying commitment to democracy and the democratic process which includes regular elections which are fairly and freely contested.

Graham McIntosh: 083 7089988

Media liaison:

Lauren Winchester 082 3201836

Back to the Top
Back to Index