Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

18 Jun 2000
Sunday Times (RSA)

Zimbabweans flee

Desperate refugees flood across border as Mugabe threatens more farms

Thousands of Zimbabweans are flooding into South Africa to escape political violence and intimidation in the final days before that country's election.

On one day this week, South African police and soldiers rounded up and repatriated some 1 600 Zimbabweans who had illegally crossed the Limpopo River. On a normal day between 15 and 20 people are picked up.

The flood of refugees came as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said yesterday that the election would be followed by the mass resettlement of 350 000 landless peasant families on land acquired by the government. More resettlement would follow on land still to be obtained from land seizures.

Addressing 30 000 supporters at one of his last election rallies, Mugabe said his government would reintroduce price controls after next weekend's parliamentary elections in a bid to curb the country's spiralling inflation, which now stands at 70%.

Mugabe urged war veterans to stay indefinitely on the farms they have been occupying for the past five months, saying the government and the ruling party would support them. He said their actions were the "final battle" in the war to liberate Zimbabwe, which would intensify after the elections. "This is a war we have to fight. If necessary we will even go back to the mountains, the caves and the bushes to finally liberate Zimbabwe."

A Far North area South African police spokesman, Captain Ailwei Mushavhanamadi, said there had been a "massive increase" in the number of Zimbabweans arrested for entering South Africa illegally.

Desperate, sick and hungry, the refugees are risking their lives swimming across the Limpopo River or using logs as makeshift rafts. It has been confirmed that one person has drowned and a number of others have been attacked by crocodiles.

Many claimed they had been robbed of their possessions and what money they had by the maguma-guma - gangs of Zimbabwean thugs who prey on those wanting to cross the border.

The Sunday Times interviewed scores of the illegals this week. Many of them are staunch supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, which is challenging Mugabe's Zanu-PF in next weekend's elections. Most were carrying MDC membership documents.

They said they had fled their rural homes after attacks by marauding gangs of so-called war veterans.

One of them, 42-year-old Phineas Sibanda (not his real name), was arrested with his family immediately after swimming across the Limpopo on Tuesday night.

Sibanda told the Sunday Times he had been compelled to flee from his home on a farm north of Harare, where he was employed as a labourer. The farm's owner had left the farm two weeks earlier after it was raided by so-called war veterans.

"He asked me and other workers to look after his property until the matter was over," Sibanda said.

For two weeks, he remained on at the farm with a handful of other workers. But life with the invaders was hell for the farm workers. According to Sibanda, they were under constant threat of being beaten up for lying about who they would vote for in the elections.

"Many of us knew which side we belonged to, but we had to say we were on the side of Zanu-PF to save our skins and those of our families." When news spread of other farm workers being beaten up and their houses and belongings set on fire, the remaining workers and their families left the farm, leaving only Sibanda and his family behind.

Sibanda left the farm for Harare with his family last week. There he decided to leave for South Africa and join his brother in Gauteng.

"This is a victory for Mugabe," he said, explaining that the exodus from Zimbabwe was a gift to ZanuPF as "fewer people will be left to vote for parties such as the MDC".

Sibanda and others who were interviewed say the electorate may pay heavily for voting for the opposition parties next week.

There were strong rumours that voters would have to write their personal details on ballot papers when casting their votes, said Thuli Moyo, a woman from Bulawayo.

Attlee Chera, a Zimbabwean who works in South Africa maintaining the electric border fence, confirmed the increase in numbers of Zimbabweans fleeing the violence.

"Last week we caught a group of people who included a seriously wounded man," he said.

The man had apparently been beaten by farm invaders.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

World News
Sunday, 18 June 2000. Last updated at 20:25 (AEST)

Zimbabwe opposition faces key test at major rally
Source: REUTERS, by Darren Schuettler

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition party faces a major test of its popularity on Sunday with a key rally in Harare, where President Robert Mugabe suffered an embarrassing failure to mobilise his supporters.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), will address supporters at a 45,000-seat sports stadium on the outskirts of the capital.

MDC officials on Sunday declined to speculate on turnout, but the party attracted 20,000 supporters at a rally in the city earlier this year.

Mugabe acknowledged on Saturday for the first time that his ruling ZANU-PF party faced a significant challenge in Harare province, which holds 19 of the 120 parliamentary seats up for grabs in the June 24-25 poll.

"We must accept that we have a real battle here," the visibly angry president told about 5,000 people in a Harare stadium where, on his return from exile in 1980, more than 100,000 gathered to cheer him.

A provincial party official apologised for the low turnout despite the rally being held on a Saturday and an unemployment rate of over 50 percent.

A ZANU-PF official said on Saturday the ruling party had expected at least 100,000 supporters at Mugabe's rally.

"The party hierarchy is greatly disappointed with the turnout," the official said.

Mugabe commanded at the end of his address: "We must go out in large numbers and vote. We must go out in unison and mobilise. We must shame the MDC by sweeping the seats, especially the 19 seats in Harare."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Saturday: "It's a very serious admission from Robert Mugabe who six months ago said there was no opposition to speak of."

"The MDC, in spite of a reign of terror, is a force to reckon with," he told Reuters.


A poll published on Friday suggested the MDC was poised to win 70 of the 120 contested parliamentary seats, but government ministers have dismissed the survey. Under the constitution, Mugabe appoints another 30 members to parliament.

Most of the parliamentary seats are in rural areas where pro-government militants have employed strongarm tactics against rural voters, warning there will be reprisals if the MDC wins.

In the second city of Bulawayo later, Mugabe told about 10,000 supporters: "This struggle is against the whites and the British. Let the Britons rule Britain and the Zimbabweans rule their own country."

He accused Britain of engineering the country's desperate fuel shortage, which is undermining business and agriculture.

"They have resorted to piracy so that the oil cannot reach us in Zimbabwe," he charged.

Citing the memory of revered Ndebele leader Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe, who is from the majority Shona nation, said both tribes should fight the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which orchestrated Mugabe's first poll defeat in a January referendum on a new constitution.

"Umdala (the old man) reminded us that unless we remain united and fight for our land we will be destroyed," he said.

During the election campaign, thousands of Zimbabwean villagers have fled their homes to escape a terror campaign that human rights monitors have said is orchestrated by senior members of Mugabe's party and government.

They said more than 13,000 rural people had sought refuge in towns and cities to escape political violence in the run-up to the poll and others had had their identity books destroyed by government supporters, making it impossible for them to vote.

At least 29 people, mostly opposition supporters, have died in political violence linked to the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms by pro-government militants since February.

Mugabe has vowed to press ahead with the land invasions after the election, but denied responsibility for the violence and urged party supporters to campaign peacefully.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mugabe: Zimbabwe is for Blacks - The Associated Press - Jun 17 2000 1:51PM ET 
Turnout blow for Mugabe - BBC: Saturday, 17 June, 2000, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Some 25,000 turn out for opposition rally in Zimbabwe - Sunday, June 18 11:05 PM SGT - HARARE, June 18 (AFP)
Mugabe sets sights on 'all British firms' - Times UK - 16 June 2000
Zimbabwe Pres Denies Mine Seizures - Friday June 16 4:48 PM ET Associated Press
Harare rally boosts opposition - BBC: Sunday, 18 June, 2000, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK 

Mugabe: Zimbabwe is for Blacks

The Associated Press - Jun 17 2000 1:51PM ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - President Robert Mugabe said Saturday that whites may live in Zimbabwe, but they will never have a voice equal to that of blacks in the southern African nation.

``The whites can be citizens in our country, or residents, but not our cousins. They are the greatest racists in the world,'' Mugabe said in a campaign speech one week before parliamentary elections set for June 24-25.

Mugabe does not face election, but his ruling ZANU-PF party is facing its greatest challenge since the country gained independence from Britain 20 years ago.

The president has repeatedly attacked the small, white minority, which generally opposes him.

He has also expressed sympathy with the mobs of black supporters illegally occupying more than 1,400 white-owned farms. He has called the occupations a justified protest against the British colonial legacy of unfair land distribution.

``Now, the British are saying that they are squatting on white man's land. Where is black man's land in Europe?'' Mugabe said. ``Zimbabwe is a black man's land, and a black man will determine who gets it,'' he said.

He added, however, that racial reconciliation was possible as long as whites recognized that blacks rule Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis in the post-independence period, and Mugabe's provocative comments have discouraged potential foreign investors.

Mugabe's ruling party and its allies currently control all but three of the 150 seats in parliament, but opinion polls suggest the main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, could make large gains.

The turnout for Mugabe's speech - fewer than 6,000 supporters - was so disappointingly small that Tony Gara, deputy minister of local government, apologized to Mugabe in his introductory remarks.

Gara said the low attendance was a result of the country's fuel shortage, the short notice of the rally and because Saturday is a working day for many Zimbabweans.

Mugabe planned to head to Egypt afterward for an international summit meeting, and Saturday's rally was expected to be his last major campaign event ahead of the elections.

The turnout was expected to be much larger in Highfield, a Harare suburb, where Mugabe held his first major rally after independence in 1980. At that time, he was carried shoulder-high and hailed as a liberator by 150,000 supporters.

On Saturday, he said the war against white rule had brought the country freedom from racial oppression, and that life had improved for Zimbabwe's blacks.

``The (revolutionary) war was fought so that we would be treated like people, not dogs,'' he said.

Mugabe said he had been wrongfully accused of harming Zimbabwe, and he also denounced Ian Smith, the last prime minister of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence.

``I spent 11 years in prison at the hands of Ian Smith. He is still here, alive, keeping a head that we should have - you know - taken away,'' he said.

Mugabe said people supporting the opposition were doing so because they had forgotten how Zimbabweans suffered under colonial rule.

Addressing war veterans sitting near the stage, Mugabe said, ``This is our country. Nothing will happen to you.''

Though calling for a peaceful election, Mugabe told his supporters to retaliate for any attacks from the opposition.

``You have to fight back,'' he said. ``But ZANU-PF doesn't want to provoke.''

At least 31 people, most of them opposition supporters, have been killed in political violence since February, and many more have been beaten.  

Turnout blow for Mugabe
BBC: Saturday, 17 June, 2000, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
President Mugabe: let down by Harare and Bulawayo
Zimbabwe's ruling party has suffered another blow to its election campaign, with a poor turnout at one of President Mugabe's last rallies confirming the drop in support suggested by an opinion poll on Friday.

President Mugabe acknowledged that his Zanu-PF party faced a real battle to stay in power in next weekend's parliamentary elections.

The independent Public Opinion Institute said its survey suggested the main opposition party would win 70 of the 120 parliamentary seats.

Several thousand supporters attended the rally in the capital, Harare, in what used to be Mr Mugabe's home constituency.

Repeated appeals for bus drivers to ferry more supporters to the meeting failed to boost the audience, although President Mugabe arrived nearly three hours later than scheduled to address them.

The administration secretary for the ruling Zanu-PF party, Didymus Mutasa, complained that he had expected a bigger turnout, and accused the organisers of failing to do a good job.

Double disappointment

Several hundred thousand people had turned out to hear Mr Mugabe at the same site 20 years ago, shortly before Zanu-PF swept to power on Zimbabwe's independence from Britain.

In his speech, President Mugabe repeated the familiar themes of the election campaign of recent months.

He said that the land belonged to the black people of Zimbabwe and warned the white population that if they wished to remain, they should respect the country's laws.

He accused the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change of being a puppet of foreign forces opposed to Zimbabwe, particularly Britain.

One report said that scores of those attending left while the president was still speaking.

Mr Mugabe went on to address another rally in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, before setting off for a summit in Egypt.

About 3,500 people gathered to hear him in a stadium where the MDC drew at least 20,000 supporters last month.

Zanu-PF expects....

The poor turnout at Mr Mugabe's rallies followed a similar disappointment yesterday for Zimbabwe's Vice-President, Simon Muzenda.

The government-owned Herald newpaper, which usually exaggerates the attendance at ruling party rallies, said that Mr Muzenda was furious when only 1,000 people came to hear him speak in the southeastern Chivi region.

Two Zanu-PF defectors are standing as independent candidates there.

Opposition rallies

The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was due to address a rally in the northern area of Guruve, one of the poorer and more remote parts of the country, as part of his efforts to capture the key rural vote.

The MDC has found many similar areas out of bounds as a result of threats and violence by government supporters, often led by the War Veterans Association, which has spearheaded the illegal occupation of white-owned farms.

Several hundred international observers have arrived in Zimbabwe in an attempt to ensure that the elections are free and fair, but human rights groups say the intimidation has continued.

More than 13,000 rural people have sought refuge in towns and cities to escape political violence in the run-up to the election, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum.

Some 25,000 turn out for opposition rally in Zimbabwe

Sunday, June 18 11:05 PM SGT - HARARE, June 18 (AFP)

More than 25,000 excited opposition supporters turned out for a rally outside Zimbabwe's capital on Sunday to hear opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai promise them victory in next weekend's parliamentary elections.

The crowd dwarfed the approximately 4,000 ruling party supporters who turned out to listen to President Robert Mugabe at a Harare rally on Saturday, and the excitement in the air was palpable as the masses in the Rufaro football stadium in the high density suburb of Mbare swayed and chanted, sensing victory.

"The Movement for Democratic Change will win this election," opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai promised them.

Looking down on the crowd was half of Mugabe's face on a huge but dilapidated billboard. It was soon draped with an MDC banner.

The rally was interrupted three times when MDC supporters dragged in members of Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Frontand beat them up, leaving two with bloody noses.

Opposition officials claimed those brought in had been among groups of ZANU-PF stalwarts attacking and abducting MDC supporters on their way to the rally.

One of the men dragged in, who identified himself as Tapiwa Chiwera, said he was actually a MDC supporter who had been wearing a ZANU-PF T-shirt.

"Wearing a ZANU-PF T-shirt was a very big mistake," he told reporters.

The T-shirt was ripped to shreds before police with dogs rescued him.

Political violence throughout this southern African nation has resulted in at least 30 deaths since February -- the vast majority of them opposition supporters -- and hundreds of others have been beaten up.

Nine human rights groups accused the government and the ruling party on Friday of mounting a campaign of terror to smash the opposition, indulging in "murder, torture, beatings, setting people on fire, rapes, kidnappings, arson and various forms of intimidation."

Tsvangirai said that after his election victory he would set up a national commission to probe the violence.

"We will give amnesty to those who tell the truth ... We do not seek revenge," he said. "We seek the truth and healing for a nation tortured for too long."

As supporters waved huge cut-outs of an outspread hand -- the MDC greeting -- Tsvangirai declared: "We will pull our troops out of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC - where they are fighting alongside President Laurent Kabila's army against rebels backed by Rwandan and Ugandan troops)."

"They protect no one, they protect the diamond fields of the corrupt," he declared.

"We suffered under colonialists, but after nearly 50 years of Uhuru (freedom) across Africa we find terrible oppression has come from the African leaders who were supposed to liberate us," he added.

The 47-year-old opposition leader, a trade unionist who has been detained twice by the Mugabe government, said he would also set up a national defence council to make recommendations on transforming the defence forces into "protectors of the people."

Mugabe has made attacks against white Zimbabweans a main theme of his campaign, but Tsvangirai declared: "Zimbabwe's strength lies in racial and ethnic diversity. We want national integration -- we are not interested in racism in reverse. Our strength comes from our cultural and ethnic diversity."

He critised -- without naming them -- regional leaders who have come out in support of the ruling party here.

"Africa has to move away from the old boys club solidarity of the past that saw terrible dictators like Idi Amin (of Uganda) and Mobutu Sese Seko (of Zaire, now DRC) receiving solidarity from other African leaders."

An MDC government would focus on domestic issues in the short term, he said.

"We need to strengthen Zimbabwe, and build solid regional links with our neighbours."

The MDC is contesting all 120 electorates, but its candidates have been unable to campaign in many of them because of the violence. Mugabe appoints another 30 MPs, giving his party a huge advantage. 

Mugabe sets sights on 'all British firms'
Times UK - 16 June 2000
THE British business community in Zimbabwe was in a state of shock yesterday after President Mugabe said that all 400 British companies in the country could be seized.

President Mugabe's sudden decision to extend his campaign to redress Zimbabwe's "colonial legacy" from white- owned commercial farms to British-owned mining and manufacturing interests provoked fears that the move could have disastrous consequences for the economic wellbeing of the region.

Peter Hain, the Foreign Office Minister responsible for Africa, described the threat against British interests as "posturing" before next week's elections. However, he said that if it were carried out it would "risk bankrupting the country".

Industry leaders said that the move could push the country's ailing economy, now technically bankrupt because of government mismanagement and the collapse in export earnings from tobacco sales, into economic freefall.

"It escalates the whole conflict on to a completely different level," one commentator said. "President Mugabe is refighting the war of national liberation all over again. He wants the land, the mines and the businesses. He hasn't used language like that since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980. Only the churches will be left."

Complaining that there were "too many Britons" in Zimbabwe, President Mugabe said that the time had come for "Africans to be in there as owners not just as workers". Zimbabwe's gold, copper, asbestos and iron mines faced seizure or aggressive "indigenisation" as soon as the white-owned farms had been redistributed, he said.

Some of the world's great mining houses, including Anglo-American, Rio Tinto Zinc and Lonmin, are among the foreign multinational corporations with extensive mining interests in Zimbabwe. However, they represent only a handful of the 400 British-owned or affiliated companies facing the threat of nationalisation, involving household names such as Unilever, BP, British American Tobacco, Barclays Bank, Schweppes, Dunlop, Costains and Taylor Woodrow, with a market value estimated in excess of several hundred million pounds.

President Mugabe said that the people of Zimbabwe were forced to eat "sadza and nyama (maize porridge and meat)" while British and other foreign-owned companies repatriated their profits to their parent countries. "Zimbabwe's population has ended up producing for Britain," he said.

He added: "There was some fellow from Britain, Lord Something, he came here and talked about funding for Zimbabwe. I said to him: 'You put our dividends and profits that we remit to Britain against the aid we get and tell me who is giving aid to who.' We remit much more and they pretend to give poverty alleviation or little programmes.

"After land, we must look at the mining sector. The land question will be settled. But who owns our mines? We are gold, copper, asbestos and iron producers. But most of the benefits are enjoyed by a few former colonialists. We have trained engineers of all kinds, civil engineers, electrical engineers, mining engineers, mechanical engineers. But ownership?"

Zimbabwe's mining industry, which accounts for 8 per cent of gross domestic product and 40 per cent of annual export earnings, is also responsible for nearly 50,000 jobs in a country whein which unemployment has risen to 60 per cent. Many of these jobs, along with the tens of thousands of jobs in the manufacturing sector, would be put at risk if the Government went ahead with its threats.

Eddie Cross, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party economics spokesman, said: "It consolidates the hostile rhetoric towards the international investment community and further undermines Zimbabwe's prospects of economic recovery and any further direct foreign investment. It is an act of gross irresponsibility."

Friday June 16 4:48 PM ET

Zimbabwe Pres Denies Mine Seizures

By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - President Robert Mugabe denied Friday that he intended to nationalize foreign-owned mines, but said he wanted more blacks admitted to white-dominated businesses.

Mugabe, campaigning in preparation for parliamentary elections on June 24-25, said news reports Thursday that mines would be seized were unfounded.

But he said the government would seek to persuade foreign companies to enter business partnerships with black entrepreneurs.

The government was holding talks with mining conglomerates to make shareholdings available to Zimbabwe's blacks, Mugabe told supporters at Kadoma, 90 miles southwest of Harare.

According to the reports, which were carried by the Independent News Service of South Africa and the allied Independent newspaper of London, Mugabe said in an interview that his government was eyeing foreign-owned firms, including mines and some 400 British-controlled businesses, for possible seizure as part of his campaign to ``Africanize'' his country's assets.

Mining experts said such a threat could have severe repercussions in Zimbabwe, which depends heavily on mining revenues.

In the reports on Thursday, Mugabe said foreign-owned gold, copper, asbestos and iron mines face seizure once his government completes the hand over of white-owned land to landless blacks after the upcoming elections.

``There must be Africans as owners, not just as workers,'' Mugabe was quoted as saying. He said there are ``too many Britons'' in Zimbabwe.

The government has supported the violent and illegal occupation of more than 1,400 white-owned farms by ruling party militants and mobs of black squatters since February. Last month, the government said it would nationalize 804 white farms over the next few weeks without paying compensation.

Human rights groups say that militants supporting Mugabe have also seized identification and voting papers to prevent suspected opposition supporters from casting ballots in the election.

In at least three voting districts, government supporters destroyed documents to intimidate voters ahead of the election, David Chimini of Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum, a coalition of independent groups, said Friday.

Incidents of arson, beatings, torture, and intimidation have forced rural voters to seek safety in towns and cities, where they are not entitled to vote, Chimini said.

An opinion poll published Friday showed the opposition - which now holds only three parliamentary seats - could take as many as 70 slots in the 150-seat parliament. A total of 120 seats will be at stake.

The Public Opinion Institute at the University of Zimbabwe said it canvassed 6,000 voters across the country and allowed a 10 percent margin of error for the poll.

Harare rally boosts opposition
BBC: Sunday, 18 June, 2000, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
MDC supporters cheer in front of a dilapidated Mugabe mural
A huge rally in Harare by supporters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party has shown the party's strength in the capital - and eclipsed events by the ruling party.

The 25,000 turnout for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), at the party's last major rally before elections next weekend was a big boost for its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

By contrast, President Robert Mugabe's governing Zanu-PF could muster only 5,000 supporters for a rally in Harare on Saturday.

But the party atmosphere was punctured by clashes between supporters of Zanu-PF and the MDC, and since then, an attack has been reported on the house of another opposition leader, Margaret Dongo.


Mr Tsvangirai told his supporters that the MDC was now certain to win the election, ending 20 years of domination by Zanu-PF.

He said he would set up a national commission to investigate the violence in the run-up to the election, not to punish but to heal wounds.

" We will give amnesty to those who tell the truth ... we do not seek revenge," he said.

"We seek the peace and healing for a nation tortured for too long," he added.

The opposition chose the Rufaro Stadium for the last of its big rallies because it was there that Zimbabwe celebrated independence in 1980 after a protracted civil war which brought about the end of white minority rule.

But the gathering came close to violence. Three men wearing Zanu-PF T shirts narrowly avoided being beaten up by MDC supporters when police intervened.

A group of MDC supporters said they had been attacked on the way to the rally.

Meanwhile Margaret Dongo, one of only three opposition MPs in the outgoing parliament, said that thugs had attacked her home in the late afternoon, injuring five people and causing extensive damage.

She blamed the attack on Zanu-PF supporters.


The weekend was billed as the climax of the party campaigns before parliamentary elections next weekend.

On Saturday, Mr Tsvangirai addressed a relatively small crowd in a remote rural area, blaming the low turnout on a climate of fear fostered by the ruling party.

Some 2,000 farm workers turned up in Guruve to hear Mr Tsvangirai speak.

"We cannot accept the situation where anarchy becomes the law," Mr Tsvangirai said.

President Mugabe also received a lukewarm response from smaller than expected crowds at rallies in Harare and Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo.

"We must accept that we have a real battle here," the visibly angry president told the Harare rally.

A survey by the independent Public Opinion Institute suggested the MDC would win 70 of the 120 parliamentary seats.


Back to the Top
Back to Index Violence on increase despite presence of election observers

6/16/00 10:14:51 AM (GMT +2)
Staff Reporter
THE presence of international election observers for the parliamentary election has not changed the behaviour of war veterans or helped reduce violence in most rural areas, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said yesterday. “Violence is escalating and is preventing us from accessing the electorate. We have been sealed off from farming areas but Zanu PF is free to hold rallies and cheat the farm workers,” MDC publicity and information officer, Learnmore Jongwe, told a Press conference.
“The information on the ground suggests that the presence of the observers has not had any effect to the behaviour of the government and Zanu PF.” Observer missions from the Organisation of African Unity, Southern African Development Community, the European Union and South Africa are currently in the country.
Jongwe said about 3 000 war veterans and Zanu PF supporters blocked MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, from proceeding to address a rally at Murehwa Growth Point on Tuesday.
“The MDC president was greeted by a group of 3 000 war veterans crying for his blood,” he said. “The police intervened and that was one rare occasion where the police have moved in to restore law and order without showing partiality.” Some 30 people have died while more than 6 000 villagers have fled from their homes since February.
Jongwe deplored the directive from the Registrar-General's Office for contestants to have one polling agent at each polling station.
“What we are witnessing is an attempt to subvert the process,” Jongwe said. “Ideally there should be at least two agents at each station so that one remains behind when the other agent decides to take leave.”
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sent: Sunday, 18 June 2000 21:15
Subject: Update for 17 June, 2000

                            MEDIA MONITORING PROJECT ZIMBABWE
                                      DAILY UPDATES

17 June 2000

There was little information on the electoral process in yesterday's print media. The Herald quoted Information, Post and Telecommunications Minister Chen Chimutengwende's comment on a Public Opinion Poll Institute (Zimbabwe) survey it never reported in the first place. Minister Chimutengwende criticized the survey's author, and not the survey itself. The Herald relayed the Minister's allegations that Government had information of MDC's plans to sabotage the economy, and fuel political violence to hinder the electoral process. There was no verification of the
information or response from the MDC.
The Herald also reported of political divisions within Zanu PF's Masvingo provincial executive. Vice President Simon Muzenda said:
     I am called Mzee, the Vice-President of this country and Second     Secretary of Zanu PF. Who is Zvobgo? Who is Mavhaire to me? The article lacked balance. No comment was accessed from either Zvobgo or Mavhaire on allegations that they were sponsoring independent candidates in Chivi North and South constituencies. The Herald carried two reports of Zanu PF rallies.
President Mugabe was quoted saying the world press had misquoted him over the mines issue.
The Herald reported the European Union Election Observation Mission's statement that it will only issue a statement after polls close. Other coverage included the censure of political violence by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Non-Governmental Organization Forum, and the conviction of criminal defamation of three Standard newsmen over a story that the draft constitution was printed before an inquiry was launched.
For the first time in three days, the opposition was given coverage on the TV's 8pm main news. Zanu Ndonga candidate for Kuwadzana was accorded 1.50mins to speak about his campaign policies. Out of a total of 25:35 minutes given to local stories 19:15 minutes or 75% was Zanu PF. The entire first half of television's 8pm bulletin was devoted to the ruling party (five stories equaling 13.50mins).
In the bulletins monitored on television 7am, 6pm and 8pm, 12 out of 13 stories on political campaigns and rallies were about Zanu PF.
The Question & Answer segment was given to Minister of Information Chen Chimutengwende who said the next parliament would work towards changing the Broadcasting Act to allow more players into the electronic media. He hit out at the western governments and media for wanting to control developing countries by discrediting them.

Radio 1/3
Comparatively Radio 1/3 political coverage was not as intense although bias still remained. For example in the 6pm and 8pm news bulletins only one political story was covered and that was Mugabe's rally in Highfields. Of the 39 local stories monitored by MMPZ during the course of the day, that is the 6am, 7am, 8am, 6pm & 8pm bulletins, nine (9) were about political campaigns and rallies. All nine stories were about the ruling party.

Radio 2/4 There were seven stories covered on radio 2/4 news bulletins on campaigns, only one was about the opposition (Kuwadzana candidate). The only story on the electoral process reported on ZBC was broadcast on Radio's 6am, 7am, 8am bulletins in which the provincial registrar for Matabeleland South announced that election officials were being trained on the conduct required during the elections. There was nothing about the electoral process on TV. Ends

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mashonaland East
Marondera North - on Saturday a threatening situation developed on Rapid.  Individuals believed to be Zanu (PF) Youth League commandeered a lorry.  They went to the next door farm, Cotter, for a pungwe.  The farmers involved temporarily evacuated.  Vehicle was returned with a written demand it be be filled up with fuel and ready for Sundays activities.
On Sunday, labour from the area were herded on to Dormavale for a pungwe.  The road into Dormavale was barricaded.  The labour was given death threats, pending the outcome of the elections.
Marondera South - nothing to report
Wedza - On Shaka, invaders told labour they would be beaten if they did not have Zanu (PF) cards.  All IDs on farm were collected together with $16 per person for a party card.  The invaders absconded with IDs and money.
Warning - the Regional Executive warns this problem is on the increase.  Farmers are advised to encourage labour to resist giving up IDs as far as possible and to report incidents immediately.  It is not advisable for the farmer to collect IDs for safekeeping as this could cause him problems.
Still on Shaka, there has been an increase in numbers - 75 houses have been built on farm, 15 gardens and 18 permanently resident squatters.
Helle Farm had a housebreak-in on Saturday night, with all the doors smashed with an axe.  The perpetrators are apparently armed as a shotgun cartridge was found in the house.
Corby Farm had a pungwe on Saturday night.  on Sunday, the war vets demanded transport to another pungwe on Chard Farm.  This was refused.
Lushington Farm owner was told on Friday night to get labour to a rally on Saturday at Potimore or the compound would be trashed.  No transport was provided.
Macheke/Virginia - the previously reported roadblocks on Glen Somerset have been removed.  Requests and demands for transport continue, this time for Murehwa South Zanu (PF) candidate's rally today.
Bromley/Ruwa/Enterprise - political rallies today in Ruwa/Chikwakwa, otherwise areas are quiet.
Beatrice/Harare South - war vet Felix Njerere told  farm workers  on Duiker to report for pegging duty.  He the failed to arrive himself.
Featherstone - unable to contact.
Ministry of Lands and Agriculture struggling to deliver letters of acquisition.  Otherwise, are is quiet.
Mashonaland Central
Centenary - Demands for food, transport and cattle made from Westbury Farm were denied and the war vets threatened to kill the owner's son.  They were to return at 5.00 p.m., but never arrived.  Many farms have been visited, but most owners are away and the war vets move on.  There is a big ZANU PF rally in Muzarabani today and requests for transport received.
Horseshoe - There are rallies being held all over the area, but all is quiet.
Victory Block - Lock 31 had 5 seedbeds destroyed and water tanks taken.  Lock 50  had demands for diesel at 10:00 p.m. last night and were forced to oblige.  Lock 25 had 2 vehicles taken for an extended tour last night, returned this morning with requests for more transport which was denied.  Lock 29 had an all night pungwe with +/- 300 people - very peaceful.
Tsatsi - Thomas Majuru arrived on Glen Devon Farm demanding the land be signed over and was told to leave.  He left saying he would return after the elections.
Glendale - Monitors arrived at Chabara Farm  for discussions with War Vet Shoniwa after which he left and 8 people remain outside the security area.  An MDC supporter putting up posters for a rally to be held today was seriously beaten up.  ZANU PF rallies are to be held at Bauhinia Farm and Villa Franca Farm today.
Mazowe/Concession - Thomas Majuru was seen in the area.
Harare West/Nyabira - 20 war vets visited Mayfield Farm (Duncan Parks) and left again to return another day.  All quiet.
Mashonaland West (North)
Approximately 20 invaders arrived from Highway Farm on Helendale at 9 am, claiming they were there to "take over" the farm.
Otherwise, area relatively quiet.
Rallies held in Rusape, Burma Valley and Old Mutare today.  All quiet.
President Mugabe held a rally in Bulawayo yesterday. All is quiet. 
Mashonaland  West (South)
No report
No report 
Back to the Top
Back to Index
Farmers in trouble with Gun Powder

6/16/00 10:10:21 AM (GMT +2)
Daily News Correspondent, Gweru
OPPOSITION party supporters and white commercial farmers in the Midlands province have been on the run since February, as Zanu PF militants, led by a war veteran known as Gun Powder and Biggie Chitoro, unleashed a reign of terror, ahead of next week's parliamentary election.
Lovemore Peter Humbani Sakahuwa, known by his nom de guerre, Gun Powder, is based in Shurugwi while his counterpart, Biggie Chitoro, operates from Mataga growth point in Mberengwa.
"Although the violence had at one time reached fever pitch because of Gun Powder, the situation has slightly changed dramatically following peace talks we had with him late last month," said Commercial Farmers' Union regional chairman, Pieter de Bruyn, yesterday.
"There is some relative peace now in the area surrounding Gweru and Shurugwi," he said.
Gun Powder, an ex-Zanla fighter, is the chairman of the land distribution committee in Shurugwi district. He hails from Marondera.
Some white farmers told gory stories of how Gun Powder commandeered their tractors and lorries to ferry Zanu PF supporters to rallies and other farms invaded by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters.
Peter Hain, a farmer near Gweru, was ordered to repair Gun Powder's car and top up fuel at his own expense three weeks ago.
"All that has died down now," said de Bruyn. "There is relative peace in the area."
But violence is on the increase in Mberengwa district where a group of about 500 militants led by Chitoro has declared the area a war zone.
A colleague of Gun Powder said of the ex-Zanla commander: "He is a highly educated and intelligent fellow, but can be shrewd at times. At independence in 1980 he worked in the Ministry of Local Government as a provincial promotions officer in the Midlands province."
He then left the ministry to join the Mberengwa Rural District Council as chief executive officer, a job he abandoned to become general manager of Rural Bazaars, beer halls owned by Zimasco in Shurugwi.
Late last year, Gun Powder was detained for three months after he was found guilty of indecently assaulting a female patron at a beer hall.
In Mberengwa, Biggie Chitoro has caused untold mayhem, forcing dozens of schoolteachers to flee. Seven primary and secondary schools were closed in May. They were re-opened without the full staff compliment.
The Zanu PF militants in the area have set up barricades on all roads leading to the growth point.
Mugeza Hove, an official of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change who fled the violence said: "Mberengwa has literally been declared a war zone where opposition party supporters are victimised in the full view of the police, but with the latter pretending as if all is well.
"My heart shudders whenever I think about the family I left behind."

Back to the Top
Back to Index
Continued farm occupations rapped

6/16/00 10:19:09 AM (GMT +2)
Political Reporter
The Liberators' Platform (LP) said yesterday, the continued occupation of commercial farms by war veterans would undermine the credibility of next week's parliamentary election.
Happyson Nenji, the chairman of the movement, said his group deplored the decision by the Zanu PF leadership to allow the invaders to remain on the farms during the election.
"This not only perpetuates the disregard for the rule of law," he said, "but also undermines the credibility of the elections. In all fairness, one cannot talk of a level playing field when the armed militants of the ruling party have exclusive control over a significant section of the electorate."
War veterans and Zanu PF supporters have occupied more than 1 300 commercial farms around the country since February.
Violence related to the occupations has resulted in the deaths of five commercial farmers, a farm manager and several farm workers.
"How can we expect anybody, let alone the external observers, to regard the prevailing conditions as being conducive to free and fair elections in the circumstances?" said Nenji.
He said the redistribution of land was no longer an issue, as the Constitution had been amended to allow for the lawful acquisition of land. A Presidential decree had subsequently amended the Land Acquisition Act.
"Besides being unlawful and undermining the credibility of the elections, the farm occupations have far-reaching economic consequences, which the people of this country will live to regret," said Nenji. "It is as incomprehensible as it is irresponsible for any patriotic Zimbabwean or even the neighbouring countries to assume a posture of indifference to this unfolding catastrophe."
Nenji said the level of politically motivated violence still remained a cause for concern, not only for the credibility of the elections, but also for the needless suffering being inflicted on the people.
"Political violence from any quarter should be denounced as it undermines democratic values by interfering with the freedom of expression, association and assembly. These are the democratic values for which thousands sacrificed their lives," said Nenji. He called for political tolerance.
The LP broke away from the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans'Association, led by Chenjerai Hunzvi.

Back to the Top
Back to Index
Mujibhas threaten not to vote next week

6/16/00 10:06:39 AM (GMT +2)
Staff Reporter
RANJINOS Kawara, the self-styledpresident of the so-called Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators, yesterday gave President Mugabe an ultimatum to address the demands of wartime collaborators, commonly known as mujibhas, before next week"s election.
He was immediately dismissed by a senior official of the organisation.
Kawara said the collaborators were demanding a $50 000 one-off gratuity each plus a $2 000 monthly pension. They are also demanding jobs in the army and government ministries.
Kawara threatened to mobilise all mujibhas to boycott the election unless Mugabe makes a written undertaking to address these demands before 24 June, the first day of polling.
"We are urging our members country-wide not to vote for any party," Kawara said.
"If we are to vote, President Mugabe must commit himself in writing that he will address our concerns before the election."
Kawara did not explain how it was conceivable that a threat to boycott elections altogether could be regarded as a threat to the fortunes of Zanu PF in the election.
He said, however, that some war collaborators were campaigning for Zanu PF.
He would advise them to withdraw their support if Mugabe failed to meet the deadline.
Mugabe was their last resort after ministers had failed them.
"We have spoken to almost three-quarters of the ministers but they have misrepresented our grievances," Kawara said. "Mugabe is a little god to them and they are so afraid of him. He is the last one we want to talk to. We will not accept anymore nonsense from any minister."
He said war collaborators played an equal role with the guerrillas during the liberation struggle and the government had erred by making a distinction between them.
Kawara attacked opposition parties for neglecting the problems faced by the collaborators. He said he would mobilise members of his association not to vote for them.
"We have perused the manifestoes of the parties that are contesting the election and we have found that there is no clause in any of them that addresses our concerns," he said. "It appears there is no political party which is willing to consider the role played by collaborators in the liberation war."

Back to the Top
Back to Index