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Zimbabwe expels senior UN rights official: commissioner


GENEVA, June 18 (AFP)

Zimbabwe has expelled a senior UN human rights official in the run-up to
bitterly contested elections, the world body's human rights commissioner
Louise Arbour said Wednesday.

The desk officer travelled to Zimbabwe on Sunday but was expelled on
Tuesday, said Arbour, who denounced the move by Harare as "uncooperative"
and "untimely".

"This is a particularly untimely position taken by the government," said
Arbour, who steps down from her post as UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights at the end of this month.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is seeking to topple President Robert
Mugabe's 28-year rule of Zimbabwe in the June 27 run-off but many observers
fear growing violence will prevent free and fair elections.

The Zimbabwe government said Wednesday it will screen local election
observers to ensure they have "no pre-conceived ideas" about the vote.

"We are going to assess the status in respect to their independence and
neutrality," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying by the
state-owned Herald newspaper.

An independent monitoring agency, one of a handful of local groups
authorised to observe the elections, has said some of its observers were now
too afraid to monitor the upcoming poll due to fears for their security.

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Mbeki due to meet Mugabe in Zimbabwe

Monsters and Critics

Jun 18, 2008, 6:20 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - South African President Thabo Mbeki plans to travel to
Zimbabwe Wednesday to meet President Robert Mugabe over next week's run-off
presidential election, Zimbabwean state media reported.

The state-controlled daily Herald newspaper, quoting 'reliable sources,'
said Mbeki would fly to the western city of Bulawayo to meet Mugabe, who
would be campaigning in the area.

They would discuss the election campaigns, it said.

There was no indication in the report he would meet Morgan Tsvangirai, head
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Mugabe's

The campaign has been marked by a wave of murders, abductions,, assault,
torture and arson since almost immediately after the end of the first round
of elections on March 29.

On Tuesday, the Pan-African Parliament observer mission said that 'violence
is at the top of the agenda of this electoral process,' and said it had
received 'many horrendous stories.'

Churches, doctors and human rights agencies dealing with victims of the
violence say that members of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party have been overwhelmingly
named as the perpetrators.

Mbeki has been widely criticized for his handling of the volatile situation
in Zimbabwe, declaring in May there was 'no crisis.'

The MDC says Tsvangirai wrote to Mbeki earlier this month to condemn his
chairmanship of regional mediation attempts between the two sides, and
accused him of being openly biased in favour of the 84-year-old Mugabe.

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Zimbabwe to bar local vote observers with 'pre-conceived ideas'


HARARE, June 18 (AFP)

The Zimbabwe government said Wednesday it will screen local observers for a
presidential run-off election next week to ensure they have "no
pre-conceived ideas" about the vote.

"We are going to assess the status in respect to their independence and
neutrality," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying by the
state-owned Herald newspaper.

"We are going to invite those with no pre-conceived ideas about the outcome
of the elections. We have evidence that some of the observers went and
stayed in the polling stations corrupting election officials."

The paper said local observers "who were extensions of foreign interests
would not be allowed".

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will be seeking to topple President
Robert Mugabe's 28-year rule of the country in the June 27 run-off.

No Western monitors were allowed to oversee the first round of the election
on March 29 and teams from the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
and the African Union (AU) were widely criticised for giving it a largely
clean bill of health.

Zimbabwe invited 47 teams of monitors for the first round from regional
organisations, as well as from countries including China, Russia and Iran
with whom Mugabe enjoys relatively good relations.

An independent local monitoring agency, one of a handful of local groups who
were authorised to observe the elections, has said some of its observers
were now too afraid to monitor the upcoming poll due to fears for their

The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) has said dozens of its
observers had been assaulted by suspected Mugabe supporters since the first
round of elections.

Meanwhile, the Herald quoted a police spokesman as saying authorities were
looking for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) director for polling
and training.

Ignatius Mushangwe is suspected of failing to distribute postal ballots to
collection centres on time, the paper reported.

At least 100 polling officers, mostly school teachers who were contracted by
the ZEC, were arrested for electoral fraud following the first round after
they were accused by Mugabe's party of counting votes in favour of the

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Observer warning on Zimbabwe poll


Wednesday, 18 June 2008 09:44 UK

The head of an African observer mission in Zimbabwe has warned that he
will not endorse next week's run-off if current levels of violence continue.

Marwick Khumalo told the BBC his team had received horrendous reports
of attacks and the political environment was not conducive to a free poll.

Meanwhile, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called on President
Robert Mugabe to step down from office.

He said the vote had already been rigged and Zimbabwe was "an

Mr Mugabe has been waging a fierce campaign to extend his 28-year rule
after getting fewer votes than the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in
the first-round of the presidential election in March.

Meanwhile, South African President Thabo Mbeki is going to Zimbabwe on
Wednesday to discuss the elections with President Mugabe.

Mr Mbeki has been leading regional mediation efforts to resolve the
crisis in Zimbabwe

There has been growing international concern that political violence
will make a free and fair vote impossible.

The opposition, human-rights groups and some Western governments
accuse Mugabe supporters of directing a campaign of intimidation against Mr
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.

But Zanu-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa has accused the opposition of
being behind the violence.

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Zimbabwe: it's time to go in

The First Post

Zimbabweans must be protected from Mugabe's brutality - and intervention is
now the only solution, says ASH Smyth

Last week, as a result of an article written for The First Post, I was
invited by the BBC World Service to argue the merits of using military
intervention to topple Robert Mugabe's regime.

Somewhat reluctantly, and with weary awareness of the counter arguments, I
called for anything from a military presence to enforce a fair run-off
election later this month to a decapitation strike against the Zanu-PF
leadership (resulting in arrests, ideally).

I made it clear that, for political reasons, military action would need to
be African-led, but Western backed; that to baulk at the possibility of
bloodshed was to ignore the reality that bloodshed is already happening in
Zimbabwe, with increasing frequency and intensity; and, in summary, that the
military option was only to be considered when all else had failed.

I should have been stronger. All else has failed.

It quickly became clear that few involved in the BBC discussion had the
first clue what positive, non-violent steps could be taken. Between
rehashing the cliche that white people must not get involved, and expressing
their unquestioned belief that any kind of military action is de facto
illegal, most contributors were really hoping the problem would somehow just
go away of its own accord ­ a view that is costing lives in Zimbabwe every

Mugabe's campaign is now being run by the state security forces. Dozens of
MDC activists have been sadistically murdered. Thousands have been beaten;
some, like the man pictured here, have had their arms and legs broken. And
ten times more have been made homeless by Zanu-PF intimidation (making it
impossible for them to vote in the run-off on June 27).

At a rally on Monday, Mugabe told his supporters: "We are not going to give
up our country because of a mere X. How can a ballpoint fight with a gun?"
It is clear that Zanu-PF will use any means necessary to secure an election
victory. Yet the international community refuses to ensure a free and fair
election, even when Mugabe calls the fight for the presidency an "all-out

Refuting the argument for intervention, one commentator piously informed me
that "Zimbabweans are their own liberators". Wrong. Zimbabweans were their
own liberators but they have long since become their own oppressors. And,
hamstrung by our colonial past, we have watched them 'progress' from a
system of white tyranny to one of black.

Zimbabwean democracy is not served by pretending Zimbabweans are in a
position to sort matters out for themselves. If Gordon Brown seriously
believes that "Mugabe must not be allowed to steal the election" then it's
time David Miliband and Douglas Alexander stopped sounding off like impotent
school prefects, and instead organised support for the only remaining course
of action.

The political and diplomatic fall-out (with China, for example, as well as
with most African nations) will simply have to be absorbed as the cost of
doing the right thing.

"They think they are protected by the British and the Americans," Mugabe
claims of the opposition MDC. Well, it's time they were. Without
intervention, and soon, it will not be long before there is no opposition.

Who will say we did our best for Zimbabwean democracy then?


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Zimbabwe lifts ban on NGOs: state media

Yahoo News

1 hour, 1 minute ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe has lifted a ban on charities involved in food
distribution and AIDS treatment, state media said Wednesday, ahead of next
week's tense presidential run-off.

The state-run Herald cited the government's acting welfare secretary as
saying a recently imposed ban on all aid work would not prevent AIDS
patients from "accessing drugs and therapeutic feeding from clinics and

Food programmes would also be allowed to continue since they do not "entail
community mobilisation by NGOs," Sydney Mhishi said.

NGOs provide food and medicines to children and clinics, mostly in rural

The announcement of the lifting of the ban comes a day after Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe met with a top UN official visiting the country to
evaluate the political situation ahead of the run-off.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has previously called on Mugabe to allow aid to be

Zimbabwe is heavily reliant on aid, with the country facing the world's
highest inflation rate and major food shortages.

It has also been hard hit by the AIDS epidemic, and charities had warned of
a potential crisis if the ban was not lifted.

The government announced a blanket ban on aid work earlier this month after
accusing NGOs of siding with the opposition ahead of the vote.

In comments published in the Herald on Monday, Mugabe accused aid groups of
exploiting food shortages to turn voters against the ruling party during the
first-round elections in March.

The ruling party then lost its parliamentary majority for the first time
since independence from Britain in 1980.

Mugabe, speaking in early June at a meeting on the global food crisis in
Rome, accused Western powers of seeking "illegal regime change" in Zimbabwe
and of channeling support for the opposition through NGOs.

The 84-year-old leader lost to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the
March 29 first round presidential election, but official vote counts showed
Tsvangirai just short of an outright majority.

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Militia 'Controls' Food Prices


     By Lee Shungu, on June 17 2008 22:19

The iniquitous ZANU PF sponsored youth brigade has been deployed
in suburbs in and around Zimbabwe's capital, Harare where they are
forcefully reducing food prices.

The youth militia, armed with baton sticks and whips are
targeting supermarkets, shops and parallel market traders, in which they
order the selling of goods at very unreasonably low prices.

Prices, especially of basic commodities are rising on a daily
basis mainly owing to escalating inflation which is weakening the local
currency against other world major currencies.

Last week in Chitungwiza, a group of ruling party supporters
went to one of the country's largest retail supermarkets- OK Zimbabwe at the
Town Centre where mealie-meal had been delivered and was about to be sold.

A source said in a well orchestrated move, the group instructed
the supermarket bosses that the 50 kilogramme bags of mealie-meal were to be
sold at a mere $1.5 billion per bag.

 "In a couple of seconds, there was a long queue. However, due
to frustration, the supermarket officials took time to serve customers
resulting in a few bags being sold," he said.
In the past weeks, the country's president Robert Mugabe has
been labelling businessmen as working with the main opposition MDC party in
efforts to effect a regime change through hiking prices of goods,
commodities and services to levels way beyond the reach of the ordinary

According to Mugabe, businesspeople are hiking prices so
citizens can go hungry and turn against him especially now during the
presidential election run-off race against MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai on June
"Customers who have relatives or friends who work in the
supermarket had no difficulties in buying the mealie-meal."

"I know everyone wants something affordable, but $1.5 billion is
not even enough to take one on a single trip to or from town," he said.

On Monday this week, the local currency was trading at $5.2
billion (parallel market) and $4.2 billion (inter-bank) rates, to the US$.

Prices have soared drastically in the past weeks with a kg of
beef now fetching for not less than $10 billion. A bar of washing soap costs
at least $10 billion. A 2 litre bottle of cooking oil costs around $30
billion. A trip to Harare's city centre is now between $1 billion to $2.5

On Monday morning, ZANU PF youths- in party regalia thronged
Mereki shopping centre in Warren Park D where they pounced on parallel
market traders.

A source, Simon Chikwati said sensing danger, many traders fleed
from the scene, but left their commodities- which they sell.
 "The ruling party youths took everything and started selling
he stuff to people at very low prices," he said.
The source said it was 'Christmas in June' for those who bought
the goods, which mainly consisted of food stuffs."

"Can you imagine? Bread which was sold at$2 billion per loaf,
was being sold by the youths at $100 million per loaf," he said.

Later in the evening around 8.30 pm, another source hinted the
ZANU PF youth gang was back at the same shops where it pounced on traders.

"This time they were beating up parallel market traders using

"The fracas did not last for long as the youth quickly
disappeared in the dark," he said.

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SAfrica's Zuma does not see free Zimbabwe run-off


Wed 18 Jun 2008, 7:23 GMT

PRETORIA, June 18 (Reuters) - The president of South Africa's ruling ANC
said on Wednesday he does not think Zimbabwe's run-off presidential poll
next week will be free.

"I don't think so," Zuma said when asked by Reuters whether the run-off
would be fair. "I think we'll be lucky if we have a free election."

Zimbabweans will vote in a second round presidential poll on June 27, after
opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat
Mugabe but failed to get an outright majority in the March 29 election.
(Reporting by Paul Simao)

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U.N. sees Zimbabwe 2008 maize output down 28 pct


Wed 18 Jun 2008, 8:30 GMT

ROME, June 18 (Reuters) - United Nations food agencies expect Zimbabwe's
maize production in 2008 to be about 28 percent lower than the previous
year, with total domestic supply of cereals falling about 40 percent, said a
report on Wednesday.

A mission to Zimbabwe by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation and
World Food Programme put main season maize output at 575,000 tonnes and
total cereal availability for the 2008/09 marketing year at 848,000 tonnes.
(Editing by Peter Blackburn)

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Botswana breaks ranks to slam Mugabe

Daily News, SA

June 17, 2008 Edition 3

Basildon Peta

Botswana has broken ranks with Zimbabwe's lethargic neighbours and issued
the strongest condemnation yet by any serving African government against
President Robert Mugabe's reign of terror.

It has also become the first African country ever to summon Zimbabwe's high
commissioner in protest.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday welcomed the statement as
a progressive step by a brotherly African government, but expressed concern
that the media barely noticed it.

Botswana's stance has created the possibility that some African governments
will withhold recognition of Mugabe as leader of Zimbabwe if he succeeds in
rigging the June 27 run-off.

For now, though, Botswana remains alone, although Kenyan Prime Minister
Raila Odinga has branded Mugabe a "disgrace to Africa".

Zimbabwe's high commissioner to Gaborone, Thomas Mandigora, was summoned to
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation last week.

He received Botswana's official protest over the continued arrests and
detentions of many senior MDC officials, including party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, and secretary-general Tendai Biti.

Botswana charged that Zimbabwe was in violation of a Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) protocol on the holding of free and fair

President Ian Khama's government said in a statement that "The repeated
arrests and detentions are unacceptable and deserve condemnation ."

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Violence leaves children miserable

Republic of Botswana

18 June, 2008
GABORONE- Specially elected MP , Mr Botsalo Ntuane has called on the
continent to use the commemoration of June 16 to introspect in the light of
reported violence in Zimbabwe and the recent attacks on foreigners in South
The incidences, the MP said have left untold miseries to the children. These
include loss of financial and social support as parents were killed and
others displaced.

The MP was speaking at the commemoration of June 16, at Tsholofelo hall
under the theme Let Children Be Seen and Heard. However, Mr Ntuane commended
Botswana government for showing concern by accommodating 400 refugees from
Zimbabwe and for assigning 50 strong team to observe the re-run of the
presidential elections.

Our stance sends the unequivocal message that we will not stand aside, arms
folded, and claim to hear no evil, and see no evil,the MP said.

Mr Ntuane said it was unfortunate that children were made to witness
violence displayed in the two incidences.

As we mourn the victims of xenophobia we must also take time to reflect on
the children caught up in the wave of madness and cruelty. Can the African
child be seen and be heard in such conditions, he said.

He called on the children in the country to demonstrate solidarity with the
child victims of xenophobia.

Mr Ntuane called on Africans to unite in fighting such maladies, saying
figures provided by UNICEF showed that crisis in Zimbabwe has resulted in
the country having the highest mortality rate.

He also said the crisis has made the country to suffer serious brain drain,
therefore losing bright people and this made children to suffer as most
teachers migrated to other countries.

They have lost health care givers, their parents, guardians and they have
lost their innocence and sense of worth, the MP said.

The MPs call was repeated by a form three student of Motswedi secondary
school in Gaborone, Kennedy Letlhogela.

The student condemned the xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the crisis
in Zimbabwe saying those were a sign that childrens rights were not being

The Day of the African Child was started in 1991 by the then Organization of
African Unity. It was meant to honour school children in South Africa who
were killed while protesting against the White government imposing Afrikaans
as the language of instruction for Black pupils. BOPA

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Electoral Cleansing, the first stage in Mugabe's election plans

by Friends Of Zimbabwe Wednesday, Jun 18 2008, 8:36am

  World attention is turning to what is happening in Zimbabwe as the 27th
June election marches closer. But people in Zimbabwe need more than
attention from the rest of Africa and the remainder of the world. The first
step is for the world community is to understand what our friends and
brothers tell us is happening in Zimbabwe.
What the world must know is that Robert Mugabe and his Generals are working
to a little-publicised but clear plan that undermines the prospect of the
elections being free and fair. They have a three-stage strategy for
"winning" the Zimbabwean Presidential run-off.

The first and most brutal part of Mugabe's strategy is a campaign of
"Electoral Cleansing". This intimidation is designed to suppress the MDC
vote and terrorise others into voting for the governing ZANU-PF. If this
"electoral cleansing" fails and Morgan Tsvangirai prevails on 27 June, the
military under the Joint Operational Command (JOC) will simply ignore the
true result, announce their own outcome and quickly re-install Mugabe as
President. The third and final failsafe element is to announce a "state of
emergency" - in response to the escalating violence that they themselves
have overseen. This would result in a de facto military takeover of
Zimbabwe's Government.

However, at this stage (June 15) the Mugabe government is optimistic that
the first element of the strategy will be sufficient to win outright. The
"electoral cleansing" strategy is relatively simple. The JOC co-ordinates
the arming of local militias, who in turn target known supporters of the
MDC. The polling agents who oversaw Tsvangirai's victory in the 29 March
election have been identified and beaten.

"Re-education" camps have been established on the edges of most major towns,
in order to forcibly inter locals and intimidate them into voting the
'right' way. An example is made of a few in order that the many are kept in
line. One or two people are tortured, beaten or killed in order to get the
message the anti-MDC message across. In this way, Mugabe does not need to
commit widespread murder or genocide in order to intimidate the electorate.
It is targeted electoral cleansing.

The MDC continues to work, largely in hiding, to ensure the mounting reports
of rape, violence and abductions get out. Friends of Zimbabwe are committed
to passing details of these outrages on. Bernard Kondo, the MDC Councillor
for Mutoro Ward, is just the latest opposition supporter to "disappear"
(only two days ago on 14 June 2008). This morning Takalani Matibe, the MP
for Chegutu West, was arrested and forced to watch as his home was burnt
down. The international community's chorus of condemnation in response is
welcome, but its disjointed nature blunts its effectiveness. Concerted,
forceful and united action is needed.

The world community must act.

It can start with a simple, unified and sustained condemnation of Mugabe's
campaign of violence and terror. Zimbabwe's neighbours - South Africa,
Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique - are especially important. They can
show the world that African nations support a democratic post colonial era.
Thabo Mbeki can take the lead here. If he fails to do so he runs the risk of
being seen as a man of the past whilst his rival Jacob Zuma shows himself to
be South Africa's leader of the future.

And the election needs to be properly monitored.. There must be a vast
increase in the size and scope of the election monitoring mission. Without
more election observers there is NO chance of a free and fair election.
There are over 9,000 polling stations. At present only 300 SADC observers
are promised. They would have no chance of covering the balloting to ensure
that election was free and fair.

The world community can make it clear that there are real consequences from
allowing Mugabe and ZANU-PF to stay in power. Zimbabwe will face economic
collapse. Mass migration will accelerate as more and more Zimbabweans escape
the turmoil. There is the risk of chaos across Southern Africa.

The future of Zimbabwe lies not just in the hands of its own people. The
nations of the world must act end the bloodshed and ensure that
elections are free and fair. Zimbabwe is an issue for the whole world.

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Zimbabwe: Fear Pervading Media, Public Denied Information, Notes Fact-Minding Mission

International Freedom of Expression Exchange Clearing House (Toronto)

17 June 2008
Posted to the web 18 June 2008

The following is a 13 June 2008 joint statement by IFJ, MISA, members of the
Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO), and other

Statement of the Zimbabwe Fact Finding Mission of African Media

13 June 2008: Harare, Zimbabwe - From June 8 to13, a mission made up of the
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ Africa Office based in
Senegal), the Southern Africa Editors' Forum (SAEF), the Southern Africa
Journalists Association (SAJA), the Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA) Regional Office and the Network of African Freedom of Expression
Organisations (NAFEO), visited Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission to
ascertain the conditions of media and freedom of expression in Zimbabwe in
the light of the arrests of journalists, both local and foreign, and the
deteriorating freedom of expression environment. This mission also comes in
the context of the forthcoming Presidential run-off election slated for 27
June 2008.

The mission met a number of Zimbabwean journalists, editors and media owners
working in urban, peri-urban and rural areas and a cross section of
representatives of local civic organisations working countrywide. The
mission expresses its shock at the level of fear pervading the Zimbabwe
media and society at large. The mission talked to journalists who had been
arrested on flimsy charges, beaten and had their property confiscated and in
some cases destroyed. Journalists operate under the constant fear of being
abducted, arrested, detained or beaten for doing their work. At the time of
this fact-finding visit, the mission notes that there are three foreign
media workers in state prison on charges of breaching broadcasting and
telecommunication laws. At the same time, workers of a media monitoring and
advocacy organisation were arrested and released after four days for
allegedly organising an "illegal meeting". Some of these organisations were
also raided and threatened with closure for allegedly working with the media
against the government.

In interviews with various players in the media as well as civic
organisations, it is clear that Zimbabwe's media is operating under
tremendous pressure from the state and security agents, as well as non-state
actors such as youth militia, ZANU PF supporters and war veterans. Almost
all those interviewed, especially freelance journalists, tell harrowing and
saddening stories of arrests, beatings and intimidation. Zimbabwean
journalists face a difficult operating environment in which they are not
only expected to be licensed by a government appointed Media and Information
Commission (MIC), but have to brave political violence and the challenges of
a failing economy. Those journalists working for the state media live in
fear of being fired or suspended for not showing sufficient enthusiasm in
their coverage of the party in power.

Laws that include the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) are being used with
impunity to narrow the operating space for journalists. The mission was told
that unlicensed journalists face a daily task of avoiding arrest. More so,
the licensed journalists cannot travel outside the city centres to cover
rural areas out of fear for security agents and militia who have set up base
in rural areas. The combined effect is that Zimbabweans in general lack
access to election related information to empower them to make informed
choices. In the past five years, four newspapers were banned. A few weeks
ago 60,000 copies and a truck belonging to The Zimbabwean newspaper printed
outside the country were petrol-bombed by unknown assailants. This situation
is worsened by the imposition of a punitive duty on all foreign
publications. This situation is worsened by the harassment, arrests and
threats on human rights defenders, including media and human rights lawyers.
Media lawyers have been arrested and others have fled the country, fearing
for their lives.

The few remaining independent newspapers in Zimbabwe face the challenge of
surviving a harsh economic environment in which almost all inputs are
imported. Apart from the shortages of equipment, print consumables and
newsprint, the government imposes price restrictions on newspapers and other
publications through the National Incomes and Pricing Commission.
Independent newspapers in Zimbabwe, which do not have government subsidies,
are therefore struggling to break even. The economic challenges that the
independent media are facing, combined with the arrests, threats and
harassment, has meant that this media is barely surviving and their impact
as alternative sources of information is severely curtailed.

The mission noted that the accreditation of foreign journalists and media
organisations is at the discretion of the MIC and in this election the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Consequently, a number of local and
foreign journalists have been denied accreditation to cover elections.

The mission observed that the state media is under strict control by the
party in power as an exclusive campaign tool. A simple monitoring of the
content of the state owned newspapers and broadcast news bulletins over the
period of the visit show biased reporting embedded in hate language. The
state media is thus contributing to the heightening of political tensions in
Zimbabwe through its reportage, especially by making allegations of
political violence being perpetrated by the opposition without conclusive
police investigations. The mission also noted that the harassment of
journalists in state media is meant to inculcate fear and an unquestioning
loyalty. At the time of our visit, seven journalists were under suspension
and the Zimbabwean Broadcast Corporation (ZBC) CEO had recently been fired.
The purge of state media is meant to remove any form of professionalism and
create compliant and unquestioning reporters.

The mission came to the conclusion that the media and freedom of expression
environment is severely constrained. The mission further notes that no
proper and professional media work can take place in Zimbabwe under the
circumstances, to allow for free and fair elections. The mission takes note
and congratulates brave Zimbabwean journalists and independent newspapers
who still express interest of continuing with their work despite all these
daunting challenges.

In light of the media and freedom of expression environment in Zimbabwe, the
mission recommends that:

- the regional and international community monitor the situation of
journalists and independent media and ensure that this issue is maintained
on the regional and international public agenda.

- regional and international organisations make preparations to assist
Zimbabwean journalists and media outlets who might be forced into either
leaving the country or into seeking medical or legal assistance.

- pressure be maintained on the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
by the regional and international community to resolve the deepening
political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe that affects the ability of the
media to perform their duties in informing the Zimbabwe people.

- the SADC and AU observer missions prevail upon the government of Zimbabwe
to allow greater observance and monitoring of the election process by the
international community and ensure the security and freedoms of journalists
and the media in Zimbabwe.

The full report of the mission is forthcoming.

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No hope in Zimbabwe under Mugabe

Democrat and Chronicle

Mitch Gruber . Guest essayist . June 18, 2008

I am white, I am American, and I am middle-class, but I am also a
quasi-member of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change, the opposition
party in the Zimbabwe presidential election runoff scheduled for June 27.

In 2006, I studied at the University of Cape Town. After a while, I noticed
that most of my friends were Zimbabwean. I became engrossed in the politics
of Zimbabwe. Shortly thereafter, a fellow American friend, Adrian
Drummond-Cole, and I were making an oral history film for the Movement for
Democratic Change, the main opposition to the revolutionary
hero-turned-tyrant Robert Mugabe.

In this film, the two of us went into several townships (a formal word for
ghetto) and met with several Zimbabwean refugees to talk about their

About 5 million Zimbabweans have fled the country since 2000, as Zimbabwe
has suffered from the highest inflation rate in the history of the world
(seriously). While interviewing these refugees in a coffee shop owned by a
white Zimbabwean refugee, I found that most of these people left good lives
in their homeland to come to the shantytowns of Cape Town. Some of them had
even served in the 1980 struggle for independence against Ian Smith,
then-prime minister of Britain's colony of Rhodesia, now independent
Zimbabwe. Yet they left behind their family, friends and homes to illegally
cross into South Africa. Why?

My interviewees explained their reasons: the decreasing job market, a lack
of steady food supply and an oppressive government. However, I still could
not really understand these concepts until I experienced Zimbabwe myself.
So, Adrian and I went to Bulawayo, the second-largest city in Zimbabwe.

What we found in Zimbabwe is precisely what the refugees told us. People
were all over the streets asking us to trade a single American dollar for
800,000 Zimbabwean dollars because they had no other way to make money. Food
was difficult to come by. After hitchhiking to Harare, the capital, we
wanted to thank the man who offered us a ride and allowed us to sleep at his
house by buying him some groceries. We found some fruits, vegetables and
even some meat. However, the line for bread was over 30 people long. After
waiting for several minutes and talking with people about the stupidity of
having to wait for bread in the capital of the country once known as
"Africa's breadbasket," we found out that there was no more bread for the
day. Unfortunately, gasoline was virtually impossible to come by, and the
suppliers of the grocery store had no way of getting their wheat to the
grocery's bakery.

With no jobs and a shaky supply of staples such as bread, the Zimbabweans I
interviewed had decided to take their chances and cross the border. While
they lived in poor conditions in Cape Town, at least they had a roof over
their heads and food on their table. Furthermore, they could at least talk
about political dissent now.

While Adrian and I were in a small town in the north, the major labor union
of Zimbabwe scheduled a protest in Harare to demonstrate the corruption of
major employers in the country. This protest began with much enthusiasm and
ended with several broken bones and prison sentences. The government would
not tolerate criticism. In fact, several of the men we interviewed in Cape
Town demanded anonymity.

This has to end. The Zimbabwean people have demanded that Mugabe leave
office. Of course, the prospective president, Morgan Tsvangirai of the
Movement for Democratic Change, has a lot of work to do to make Zimbabwe's
economy work again.

However, after speaking to many refugees in South Africa and people still
living under Mugabe in Zimbabwe, it is clear that the people at least want
to take a chance on a new leader. Furthermore, the same people I interviewed
are now being dragged out of their homes and beaten or killed, as South
Africans are getting wary of immigrants taking their limited jobs and food.

Let us hope that on June 27, the world watches intently as Zimbabwe holds
fair elections and Mugabe finally leaves office so that the issues in
Zimbabwe can begin to be resolved.

Gruber lives in Rochester. For more information, e-mail him at

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Daughter of Zimbabwean opposition leader to speak at Perth rally


The daughter of courageous Zimbabwean Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
will join hundreds of Zimbabweans and their supporters in Perth at a Rally
for Democracy in Zimbabwe on Sunday 22 June at the Perth Wesley Church, Crn
William and Hay Streets

A spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Information Centre (ZIC) Moses Chamboko said
"The situation in our country is desperate. The Mugabe regime is killing,
torturing, maiming and raping innocent supporters of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), the economy has collapsed and there is
widespread hunger"

"Our Perth Rally on Sunday will highlight the plight and aspirations of the
Zimbabwean people. We will be asking the people of Perth to join with us to
help bring democracy to Zimbabwe." said Mr Chamboko.

"For us in the ZIC, Morgan Tsvangirai is the legitimate President of
Zimbabwe and Mugabe is an imposter who has lied, cheated, stolen and rigged
the March 29 election. We are pleading to the international community
including Australia to do everything possible to ensure that there will be a
free and fair election in the runoff between Mugabe and Tsvangirai on 27
June" said Mr Chamboko.

The Rally will hold a mock election so that Zimbabweans in Perth can vote
for their chosen President.

There will be Zimbabwean speakers, music, songs and traditional food at the

Contact: Moses Chamboko

0420 879 118

08 94637166(work)

08 61612962

Paul Kaplan 0438 949 898 or 9444 3875

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Churches worldwide invited to pray for Zimbabwe

Ekklesia, UK

By staff writers
18 Jun 2008
Churches worldwide are being invited to mark a day of prayer for Zimbabwe on
Sunday, 22 June 2008, as the beginning of a season of prayer for the people
and government of the African country, which is facing a critical time in
its history.

The day of prayer for Zimbabwe, which is an initiative of Christians in the
country, will take place shortly before the runoff election for the
presidency scheduled for that day.

"It is impossible to overstate the importance of this election, its
fairness, its outcome and its aftermath", affirms the World Council of
Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia in a letter to the
WCC member churches.

"Events in the coming weeks will challenge the people of Zimbabwe and the
world to find means of overcoming violence in the exercise of democracy, and
the results will influence the future of the nation and the region", he

The global Anabaptist network, Mennonite World Conference (MWC), along with
other church networks, are participating in the day or launching
complementary initiatives.

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The power of prayer

The Zimbabwean

      Wednesday, 18 June 2008 08:05

      24-hour Solidarity Vigil

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