Car smash was "ZANU-PF hit": opposition candidate
Opposition supports defy threats and attend rally
Mugabe evokes memories of late leader to seek whip up election support
Mugabe to prevent opposition from gaining seats in parliament: press
Watching the Rocks Grow-A people's
Zimbabwe farmers prepare for war
Opposition offered share of power
Car smash was "ZANU-PF hit": opposition
HARARE, June 17 (AFP) - A Zimbabwe opposition parliamentary
candidate for the affluent Harare North constituency, Trudy
Stevenson, claimed Saturday that her campaign vehicle -- wrecked in
a hit-and-run accident Friday afternoon -- had been the target of "a
Stevenson, who is also the party's secretary for policy and
research, said her vehicle was clearly identifiable by its Movement
for Democratic Change posters and was targeted by two vehicles, one
with government number plates, and another which she said was
equipped with a police-issue radio.
Zimbabweans go to the polls next weekend to elect a new
parliament after a campaign in which brutal political attacks all
over the country have left at least 30 people dead and hundreds
beaten up, the vast majority of them opposition supporters.
President Robert Mugabe acknowledged for the first time Saturday
that ZANU-PF, his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front, was facing a serious challenge in the elections.
Opposition supports defy threats and attend rally
GURUVE, Zimbabwe, June 17 (AFP) - Some 2,000 Zimbabwe farm
workers defied ruling party threats Saturday and turned up at a
rally in the northern Guruve district called by opposition leader
Others were cowed into staying away.
"We cannot accept the situation where anarchy becomes the law,"
Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
told the farm workers.
He urged them to vote in parliamentary elections next weekend
despite the brutal political violence targeting MDC supporters which
has resulted in at least 30 deaths.
The local MDC candidate, Allen McCormick, a farmer and former
member of President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), told AFP: "The threats are
He complained that opposition supporters were not even able to
carry sling-shots, while ZANU-PF militants were armed with automatic
McCormick, who joined the MDC on its creation last September,
said he had since been repeatedly threatened.
His farm is among some 1,500 white-owned estates occupied by
squatters led by independence war veterans, but he said: "My
employees are very clever in manipulating the situation so as to
Some six farms are occupied in this fertile tobacco- and
"Right now the government has no intention to redress the
economy, hence it resorts to violence and farm invasions to sideline
real issues," Tsvangirai declared.
His supporters sang and danced around the Guruve football field
as they listened to speeches littered with wisecracks, judging by
the bursts of laughter.
But the white farmers here to support Tsvangirai told AFP that
obstacles to holding the rally had multiplied over the past four
The MDC has had to cancel rallies because ZANU-PF stalwarts have
descended en masse, or for more devious reasons, such as ZANU-PF
booking their ground with no intention of holding a rally there.
The party never knows up to the last minute whether a rally will
actually take place, one official said.
"We couldn't get any furniture for this rally because the local
hotel and club were too intimidated to provide us with chairs,"
Allen Jack, another local farmer, saved the day by bringing his
own chairs in his pick-up.
"Only seven of my workers are attending," he said. "The 50
others were too scared to come."
Burned-out houses are common in this green and hilly region,
dominated by huge rocks. So are frightened men and women who have
been beaten or threatened.
Several journalists were attacked here in April, recalls one
whose car was smashed up.
On Saturday, nevertheless, all was calm.
Police set up control posts on roads leading to the venue, and
searched cars, and half a dozen police watched over the rally.
McCormick, a 50-year-old who has sent his wife and two children
to Harare for safety, tells the crowd through an interpreter of his
time with the ruling party, for which he became an adviser on the
creation of communal farming in the north after Zimbabwe gained
independence in 1980.
"Even up until last year I fought for change," he said.
"It was then I realized ZANU-PF was a cheat's party and not a
Almost all hands went up when a party official asked the crowd
how many had registered for the elections.
Then four children began a song: "Mugabe must go because we no
longer want him to rule over us."
Mugabe evokes memories of late leader to seek whip up election
support BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, June 17 (AFP) - Zimbabwe President
Mugabe evoked memories of veteran politician Joshua Nkomo in the
late resistance hero's home region Saturday amid signs that his
ruling party was faltering ahead of next weekend's parliamentary
Some 10,000 people turned up to listen to Mugabe at the White
City Stadium in the Mpopoma township in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
city and the capital of western Matabeleland province.
But they had to wait four hours for the president to arrive,
since low turnout at a preceding rally in Harare led organisers to
delay it for two hours while they sent buses around to ferry in
But the final crowd at a Harare stadium was a scant 4,000, in
stark contrast to an event 20 years ago, when Mugabe addressed tens
of thousands of supporters upon his return from the battle lines of
the guerrilla war to become the first prime minister of the newly
renamed former Rhodesia.
Scores of those attending left the Harare stadium while Mugabe
was still speaking -- and acknowledging, for the first time, that
his party faced a major challenge in the polls.
"Here in Harare, we have a big fight for all the seats," he
In Bulawayo, one of Mugabe's officers was heard remarking that
the welcome by cheering supporters was "more like ZANU-PF", Mugabe's
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
But Bulawayo residents told AFP some people had been intimidated
into attending the rally, and others physically forced to attend.
Some shops were closed.
"All mini-buses trying to leave Bulawayo for (the nearby towns
of) Plumtree and Gwanda were blocked today by war veterans who set
up roadblocks and turned all cars back to the city, instructing
their occupants to go to the rally," said one resident.
Four independence war veterans tried to force one Bulawayo man
to go to the rally, but he turned round and stabbed them, one man
A worker going on night shift to a city firm reported witnessing
a man being whipped on the back by ZANU-PF supporters after he
refused to board a bus rounding up people in a township for the
The president had previously been scheduled to visit Bulawayo on
Sunday, but made last-minute changes to his plans to allow him to
fly out to Cairo Saturday evening for a G-15 summit.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which had
planned rallies in Bulawayo's working class suburbs on Saturday, was
forced to move them out of town because of "a pervasive fear of
violence," party secretary general Welshman Ncube told AFP.
Tana de Zulueta, the deputy leader of the EU observer mission
here, told AFP she could not comment on reports of intimidation in
Bulawayo because she had not yet received reports from observers,
but noted: "We have seen that happen where rallies are being held."
Mugabe told the crowd that Nkomo, affectionately remembered here
as "Father Zimbabwe," would turn in his grave if the opposition won
He said voters should honour Nkomo's role in the struggle for
independence by trying to fulfill his wish for unity among the
"In a few days' time we shall commemmorate Nkomo's death, and if
people go and vote for the MDC, the bones of the old man will turn
in his grave," he said.
"It would be the greatest betrayal of all times," he added.
Nkomo died on July 1 last year at the age of 83 after a long
battle with prostate cancer.
Mugabe reminded his listeners that he and Nkomo were jailed
during the nationalist struggle in the 1970s, and that in London
during the talks to end British rule, he and Nkomo led the Zimbabwe
He said the two main issues that concerned Nkomo were unity and
Nkomo led one of the two main liberation movements that fought
for 14 years to obtain Zimbabwe's independence from Britain and
rebellious white settlers.
But in the 1980s, Mugabe, a member of the majority Shona tribe,
expelled Nkomo, an Ndebele, from his government, provoking a
rebellion by a small group of dissidents in this southwestern part
of the country.
Mugabe sent in a special North Korean-trained crack military
unit, which committed atrocities that still haunt many of the people
Widespread political violence -- blamed by human rights groups
on the government and ruling party -- has claimed at least 30 lives
in the run-up to the elections.
Mugabe to prevent opposition from gaining seats in parliament: pressLONDON, June 18 (AFP) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 18, 2000) - President Robert Mugabe's star rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfields, Harare, yesterday, turned out to be a huge yawn when only 5 000 people turned up.
The rally which was to have started at 10am, instead kicked off three hours later as its organisers waited for more people to arrive. The rally, however, appeared to have no takers and the organisers began barking instructions to bus drivers to return to their various constituencies to collect more party supporters.
At Machipisa Shopping Centre, a stone's throw away from the rally, it was business as usual. Some people who spoke to The Standard said they did not expect Mugabe to say anything new and so preferred to continue with their business.
At the rally itself, Tony Gara, the provincial chairman for Zanu PF's Harare province, apparently embarrassed by the low turn out, apologised to the president in his welcoming remarks, citing a host of reasons for the poor attendance.
"Your excellency, you should know that your people work on Saturdays and we also had very little time to arrange the rally.
Some people could also not get here because of the fuel crisis," Gara said.
In his address, Mugabe admitted that Zanu PF faced an uphill challenge from the MDC in the forthcoming election.
Said Mugabe: "Let us not fool ourselves. We are facing a challenge from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the urban constituencies, especially here in Harare. I urge our war veterans to campaign for us."
On what turned out to be a bad day for Mugabe, his next rally, at Bulawayo's White City Stadium was equally a flop.
Mugabe flew there soon after the Highfields rally to be met by only 3 500 people, despite concerted attempts by war veterans to boost attendance at the rally, including closing down business in the city. Last month, at that very same stadium, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had drawn a crowd of at least 20 000.
The Standard received a report that in Tshabalala township, at the time of the Mugabe rally, a group of about 20 war vets stormed shops and looted goods before ordering the workers to close their doors and attend the rally.
The figures recorded at the Harare and Bulawayo rallies are in sharp contrast to the huge turnout at Mugabe's historic Zimbabwe Grounds rally in 1980, when over 200 000 attended.
Attendance at another of Mugabe's star rallies at Kadoma's Rimuka Stadium on Friday had to be boosted by Zanu PF supporters ferried to this venue in Mashonaland West by a special unscheduled train from Harare.
Officials at the National Railways of Zimbabwe confirmed that "the presidential train," which left Harare on Friday morning with a full load, arrived in Kadoma soon after 11am.
Residents who talked to The Standard said they were puzzled to see a train arriving in the town after 11am. The NRZ earlier this year cancelled the day train service between Harare and Bulawayo.
According to the state media, about 40 000 people attended the rally.
Businesses in the town and neighbouring Chegutu were closed and surrounding commercial farmers and their farm workers were forced to attend the rally.
In a related development on Friday, vice-president Simon Muzenda verbally attacked the Masvingo Zanu PF provincial leadership after his rally had been attended by a paltry 1 000 people.
The attendance at Mugabe's rally in Highfields paled in comparison to that of the MDC secretary for publicity and information, Learnmore Jongwe, in Kuwadzana, Harare, which was attended by over 6 000 people.
Jongwe, a lawyer by profession, is the MDC's candidate for the Kuwadzana constituency.
Interviewed by The Standard, Jongwe said the bussing of people and the closure of businesses by the ruling party in areas where the president was addressing rallies was proof of people's unwillingness to attend Mugabe's rallies.
"Those people who are bussed from area to area can only vote in one constituency and this will have no impact on the election. Zanu PF is in for a rude awakening," he predicted.
He said contrary to earlier comments by the information minister, Chen Chimutengwende, that the MDC was seeking to have the elections postponed so they could achieve power through the back door, the MDC was, in fact, thoroughly prepared for the poll.
"Zanu PF is aware that its support is dwindling by the day and is jittery about the election. If it still has support, then why close down towns and force people to attend rallies. The MDC does not force people to attend its rallies, but we still get huge crowds, a sign of our support," he stated.
The president of MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, will address a star rally at Harare's Rufaro Stadium today and this could perhaps help in gauging the level of support the two largest parties hold in the capital.
By Staff Writers
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 18, 2000) - Villagers in some rural areas around the country have found a way of escaping the current spate of political violence-they have become cardholders of nearly all the major political parties in the country.
"I carry two cards, one for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the other for Zanu PF to avoid the beatings that we are being subjected to," said one villager who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
"When the hooligans confront us, we simply produce the cards they want. We even chant slogans but we know who we will vote for," said the villager.
In a bid to prevent people from voting next week, Zanu PF supporters and war veterans have launched a massive door to door campaign in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, Mwe-nedzi and Buhera, in which they are confiscating prospective voters' identification documents.
Those found holding MDC cards are harassed and their party cards and national identity cards confisticated. Identity documents are essential for voting as everyone is required to produce their national identity card or passport as proof of identity.
The police are not helping matters either, as they refuse to arrest the perpetrators of violence, the villagers said.
Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei, the leader of the opposition Zimbabwe Inter- grated Party said some politicians were bound to receive a rude awakening at the polls. He said it was risky for any politician to take solace from the huge turnouts at rallies as some people were attending rallies for their own security.
The police have been made ineffective by the executive which has ordered them not to take action against war veterans.
Last week, the police was reported as having admitted that they were not allowed to enter the invaded farms to arrest war veterans.
By Paul Nyakazeya
JOHANNESBURG (June 18) XINHUA - South African President Thabo Mbeki on Sunday called on the British government to abide by the 1998 land conference agreement in which they agreed to fund Zimbabwe's land redistribution plans.
The Zimbabwean government was making legitimate demands on Britain to foot the bill of that country's land redistribution process, President Thabo Mbeki said in an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Mbeki said the Zimbabwean government had committed itself to pay for the redistribution of land.
The agreement reached at the 1998 land conference stipulates that Britain funds the redistribution of 841 farms to landless blacks in Zimbabwe. But Britain withheld the funding, citing its fear that the redistribution process would go against Britain's demands.
"This land was seized from the African people by colonial power and handed to whites, then they (Zimbabweans) are saying, I think quite legitimately, 'Why must we pay for it?'," Mbeki said.
Mbeki said his "quiet diplomacy" approach to the Zimbabwean land crisis had never been questioned by international communities, but by a section of the South African population.
He reiterated his recent statement in Parliament that white South Africans need not fear that the Zimbabwean crisis might spill over to this country as the law would have to be enforced.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, June 18, 2000) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, campaigning for next weekend's parliamentary elections for his governing party, has admitted that his support base is on the decline in urban areas.
The Zimbabwean leader said a new labour-backed opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had capitalised on the country's economic crisis to win considerable support in urban areas, especially the capital Harare and the second city of Bulawayo.
"Let us not fool ourselves. We are facing a challenge from the Movement for Democratic Change in the urban constituencies, especially here in Harare," Mugabe told supporters of his ruling ZANU-PF party at a campaign rally in the capital at the weekend.
The veteran politician, who has dominated the country's politics since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, rounded off campaigning for the elections with two rallies at the weekend in Harare and Bulawayo.
Unlike in the rural areas where he has promised speedy land reform, Mugabe told supporters at the two urban rallies he would re-introduce price controls to cushion people from the rising cost of living which he blamed on profiteering by manufacturers and retailers.
Zimbabwe abandoned price controls at the beginning of the 1990s after the government embraced IMF-drafted economic reforms.
The country has since ditched the reforms.
The Zimbabwean leader, who has been in power for 20 years, also promised a re-invigorated crackdown on top-level corruption in government in which several senior officials have been implicated in scams involving billions of dollars.
"We are determined to fight corruption and to fight those who are plundering government's wealth," he said.
An opinion survey by an independent polling agency released last week has predicted the MDC, which was formed seven months ago, will win the elections.
by Rangarirai Shoko
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 18, 2000) - As the historic parliamentary elections draw nearer, aspiring opposition female candidates say if elected to the august house, they could initiate the much needed change in the country's economic, social and political spheres.
Thokozani Khupe, the secretary for transport and logistics for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the party's candidate for the Makokoba constituency in Bulawayo, said if elected, she will seek to inject life into the country's ailing health sector.
"Hospital and health facilities have collapsed in Zimbabwe. Before going into hospital, a patient has to buy a drip from the chemist. Women have to lie on the floor while giving birth. The severe shortages in equipment and medication endanger the lives of Zimbabweans. The MDC will fight to reverse this and give the best health care possible to all our people," said Khupe.
She adds that women have been the hardest hit by the health care crisis in the country since it is they who carry the burden of tending the sick.
Once elected, she says, she will address the problem of domestic violence which has resulted in children suffering and many women being killed or maimed.
"Children suffer the most in situations of domestic violence. Violence in the home breeds a violent community. In Zimbabwe, under the present regime, domestic violence is not even considered a crime, the MDC will change that and strengthen the rights of families to a secure and safe future," she says.
Khupe, who is a founder member of MDC, says women in politics have to be strong.
"For any woman to survive, she must persevere, she has to tell herself that she will never quit," she says.
Evelyn Masaiti, a school teacher, is the MDC's aspiring candidate for Mutasa and although her house and those of 18 of her supporters have been burnt down in the current volatile political atmosphere, she says she refuses to give in to the ruling party's intimidatory tactics.
She remains confident that people in her constituency will not be deterred from voting for her.
"You cannot get people to vote for you by burning their houses and attacking them, it builds a spirit of resistance. Zanu PF started this reign of terror after we had finished our initial phase of the campaign in all the areas, so people know that the MDC is offering peaceful change."
The MDC's aspiring parliamentary candidate for Mufakose-one of the most violent urban constituencies in the run up to the election-Pauline Gwanyanya says: "Violence cannot help Zanu PF to win the elections.
They cannot expect a vote from an electorate they have beaten up. I condemn violence, it instils fear in the nation and damages the economy."
Gwanyanya, a member of the MDC executive, says if elected, she will target the problem of HIV/Aids which has bedevilled her constituency.
Says Gwanyanya: "Aids has actually caused a split in the family and made women more vulnerable.
They cannot refuse unprotected sex with infected husbands. If the husband dies first, they are chased away by the extended family."
Gwanyanya says she was driven into politics by a desire to bring about change in society.
"There are several problems and hardships faced by men and women that cannot be solved by watching those who make decisions from afar. I cannot just be a spectator."
Trudy Stevenson, MDC's national secretary for research and policy, who fought for the removal of the Solomon Tawengwa-led city council citing corruption and who is also the MDC's aspiring candidate for Harare North, says she intends to fight for the rights of the people if elected into parliament.
Says Stevenson: "I will fight for changes to the Urban Councils and Rural Act; to give people power to control local government.
We should have a resident's representative on the council to put forward residents' issues and report back to the people on what is happening. For example, last year we had raw sewage running through schools because rains had put pressure on a sewage system which had long been earmarked for development, yet nothing happened."
Stevenson says if elected, she will concentrate on working on national issues set out in the MDC manifesto because without attacking the causes of poverty such as lack of jobs, decent housing, health and other issues, she says, community projects will have little chance of improving people's lives.
Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, a committed feminist and women's rights activist with a long history of association with women's organisation and who is seeking to represent the Glen Norah constituency in parliament on an MDC ticket, says if elected, she will focus not only on women's issues but on those which concern everyone else in the country.
Mushonga says she will look at the issue of economic recovery and will fight to ensure that the trade agreements reached between this country and other nations in the southern African region become practical. Mushonga says she will look at the cross border trade involving women and will lobby to ensure that women are not charged unnecessary and excessive custom duties when engaging in this kind of trade. Mushonga has already started youth projects in her constituency as a way of removing the youth from the streets.
She says her main thrust will be to open up channels for people in her constituency to better their lives rather than giving them everything on a silver platter.
Fatima Mbizi, the national secretary for women's affairs in the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD), who is vying for the Glen View parliamentary seat, says if elected into parliament, she will lobby for the needs of consumer whom she says has been the hardest hit by the country's economic crisis which has seen prices escalating by the day.
Mbizi says she will look into the land redistribution process and make sure that women are awarded their rights to land.
Says Mbizi: "I was prompted into entering politics after noticing the plight of women. The way women are being ill treated in this country is frustrating. At work places, women are being subjected to different forms of sexual abuse which hinders their progress."
With the country's unemployment rate soaring by the day, Mbizi says she will initiate the establishment of self-help projects in her area.
ZUD's aspiring parliamentary candidate for Kambuzuma, Jane Madzongwe, who is also the party's advisor in the national executive, says if elected into parliament, she will work towards enhancing the lives of those in her community.
Madzongwe says she will create self help projects for her constituency and will establish ways of assisting those of her people living with HIV/Aids.
Meanwhile, Reverend Agnes Murembeni, the independent candidate for the Mbare West constituency, says she decided to stand for the elections after many years of working with the community.
Says Murembeni: "My prime objective is to bring practical solutions that bear tangible results, to the people of Mbare West. The poor performance of the economy has caused high inflation, unemployment and poverty and the main concern of the people is survival.
"People need food and clothing and children need to go to school so that their future opportunities are not limited."
Murembeni says if elected into parliament, she will ensure the creation of a stronger support structure for women who wish to be involved in leadership positions.
She says economic empowerment of women was high on her agenda.
Murembeni says she will establish training centres and educational facilities to enable people in her constituency to start self help projects, small business and co-operatives.
Although the government and civic society have taken vigorous steps towards the emancipation of women, some analysts say women have continued to suffer because of the absence of a significant number of women in the country's august house.
Women constitute 52% of the country's population but there were only 21 female parliamentarians out of 120, in the last parliament.
Out of 28 government ministers, only six were women.
Zimbabwean women constitute only 14% of the people in leadership positions in both the public and private sectors, compared to South Africa where the figure is 32%.
Forty percent of the mayors in Namibia are women, whilst only one mayor in Zimbabwe is female.
However, recent press reports revealed that organisations have taken the initiative in urging citizens to ensure that there is a gender balance in parliamentary representation by voting more women into power.
By Margaret Chinowaita
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 18, 2000) - War veterans and Zanu PF supporters in Makoni East in Manicaland are said to be terrorising villagers in the district, abducting their children from schools for training and forcing them to attend pungwes reminiscent of the liberation struggle in the 1970s.
Information emanating from the Romsley resettlement area in the district is that the war veterans and Zanu PF supporters are forcibly taking children from schools and homes and to attend all-night pungwes and for unspecified military training.
According to the parents, this has been happening since April this year.
Several of the affected parents told The Standard in neighbouring Buhera recently, that they were so desperate and living in fear that their children would be harmed that they have had to plead with the war veterans, by writing letters seeking permission for the release of their children.
Said one of the parents who was brave enough to speak to The Standard, but was terrified at being identified: "We are totally helpless. These war veterans are beating up people just because they do not go about shouting some silly Zanu PF slogans.
They are also closing roads, as if they were police manning roadblocks, and asking to see people's identity cards as if they would reveal whether one was MDC or Zanu PF."
The worst affected schools in the Romsley area were Nzvimbe and Chidamhunga.
"We are being forced to attend all-night rallies just like it was during the liberation struggle and there we are told how we should vote. But what saddens us most is how they are taking away our children, especially at Nzvimbe School and training them as if they are going to fight some terrible war somewhere," the parent said, at the same time claiming to be a former freedom fighter in the war of liberation.
Teachers at the schools were also said to be living in fear, having been threatened with beatings and risking being hounded away from their work-places and homes in the area should they try and stop the removal of children from classes for the pungwes and the training sessions.
In fact, several weeks ago, a Form 3 pupil was mercilessly beaten up, suffering hideous wounds after refusing to attend one the sessions.
Widespread reports of terror unleashed by the war veterans and Zanu PF have become commonplace in the run-up to next weekend's parliamentary election.
By Itayi Viriri
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 18, 2000) - Several influential Zanu PF officials have expressed concern at the reign of terror being perpetrated by the war veterans on the rural electorate as part of the party's campaign strategy for next week's parliamentary election.
According to sources, Zanu PF members are no longer happy with the tactics of terror being employed by the war veterans as they believe it could cost the party much needed votes from the rural electorate.
"We are worried that the war veterans have taken no prisoners in their campaigns and are beating up some of our supporters," said one of the sources.
The source said they had received many complaints from their party supporters, who told them of their ordeals at the hands of the war veterans.
The war veterans have also embarked on door to door campaigns asking for Zanu PF party cards and holding frequent meetings where every villager is forced to attend.
By Chengetai Zvauya
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 18, 2000) - The forthcoming parliamentary elections should result in the removal of the entire government if the country is to be brought back to its feet, a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate has said.
In an interview with The Standard, Bernard Chionyengwa, the MDC candidate for Chivi North, said the Zanu PF government had to be removed "en masse" to give way to a new government that could restore the country's ailing economy.
"I think this election is not about removing individual MPs, it is essentially an election in which the impoverished masses of this country should strive to bring an end to Zanu PF misrule and bring the country back to its feet.
"What Zanu PF has achieved in the past 20 years has been to grow old whilst in the track and then failing to get to the finish line. They haven't fulfilled their promises. An MDC government will now take over the race and finish it well," said Chionyengwa.
He said although some MPs had the zeal to develop their areas, the government was not committed to the development of the country.
Once an MDC government took power, he stated, it would work towards bringing presidential elections closer to complete the removal of the whole administration.
While parliamentary elections have been set for the end of this month, presidential elections can only take place in 2002, when President Mugabe's tenure expires. Calls from the opposition for government to bring the elections closer have fallen on deaf ears.
Chionyengwa is standing against two Zanu PF candidates, a situation which could work to his advantage since these two, Albert Chamwa-doro, a former MP, and Samuel Mumbe-ngegwi, the official candidate of the ruling party, could end up splitting the Zanu PF vote.
His immediate task, if elected into parliament, would be to revive the ailing health and education systems as well as promote entrepreneurship.
Although the government was busy parading the health and education sectors as its main achievements, he said, the government was in fact responsible for the demise of the two sectors because of a lack of resources.
Zimbabwe's health and education system were at one time the pride of the nation and the southern Africa region, in general, but of late, they have suffered from government neglect. Shortages of textbooks in schools and of drugs in hospitals, have become the order of the day.
The 36-year-old businessman is well known in Chivi North where he sponsors an annual secondary schools tournament involving about 20 schools from the area.
The tournament is worth over $300 000 and this year, was graced by former football star, Madinda Ndlovu. Apart from sponsoring the soccer tournament, Chionyengwa says he also pays school fees for a number of underprivileged children and a women's club has been set up to identify more underprivileged youths.
"I want to help in the eradication of poverty. The current government has failed in its priorities and we would want to direct resources to bread and butter issues. I have already lined up a number of donors who are willing help the people in Chivi North. There is need to promote self-employment projects but Zanu PF has made this impossible because of a bad foreign policy that is hostile to donors."
Some donors had already indicated their intention to help in the construction of a skills training centre in the constituency, he said.
Chionyengwa, who rose from being a sales representative, to running his own multi-million dollar company, Con Plant Technology, scoffed at the idea that the MDC did not have any credible candidates: "What do you mean by credible. I run this company and am responsible for an extended family of 15. I have also played a central role in the development of Chivi. If anything, it is Zanu PF who will battle to get credible candidates because the party is full of people who have looted the national coffers dry."
By Farai Mutsaka
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 18, 2000) - The president of the opposition Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD), Margaret Dongo, who is for the second time vying for political power in Harare South, has accused the office of the registrar-general of failing to come up with a clean voters' roll for her constituency.
In an interview with The Standard, last night, Dongo complained that the political playing field in her constituency was not level and she accused the office of the registrar- general of working as an election-rigging agent for the ruling Zanu PF.
Dongo said people who had invaded some of the eight farms in her constituency had already been registered as eligible voters in Harare South.
She also claimed that names of some Mbare residents were evident on the voters' roll for Harare South. Dongo claimed that over 300 people who were not residents of her constituency, had been registered as voters.
She blamed the office of the registrar-general, headed by Tobaiwa Mudede, of allowing people outside her constituency to register in an attempt to rig the election there. "Elections are not rigged at the time of voting.
They are rigged during the compilation of the voters roll.
I know how they rig these elections," said Dongo, adding that she was not even allowed to send campaign materials to the military barracks.
Although The Standard was unable to obtain comment from Mudede at the time of going to press, last night, Dongo insisted that the Zanu PF machinery was using the office of the registrar-general to rig the elections scheduled for 24 and 25 June.
Opposition parties have long since regarded Mudede as the ruling party's election-rigging strategist, an alle- gation which Mudede himself has always dismissed.
The controversial politician said her members were also being denied access to people in her constituency, especially soldiers based at Kabrit Barracks, Manyame Air Base, 2 Brigade and One Commando, while Zanu PF members were allowed to enter the military establishments at will.
She argued that if soldiers were to be allowed to vote, they had to be allowed to hear the views of other political parties as well.
"The political playing field is not level in my constituency. There are so many irregularities regarding the voters' roll.
Even if I win the election, I will, as a matter of principle, challenge the corrupt system," said Dongo and she urged others who had discovered irregularities, to make an official complaint.
As she did after the 1995 parliamentary elections, Dongo said she would resort to court action in an attempt to expose the irregularities. In 1995, the court entertained her application and nullified the result in which Zanu PF's Vivian Mwashita had been declared the winner.
Dongo won in a re-run of the election.
As we went to Press, last night, The Standard learnt that the ZUD candidate for Chipinge North, Margaret Mungwari, had been asked to step down so that the party could put its full weight behind the Zanu Ndonga candidate, Vester Sithole, wife of the Zanu Ndonga leader, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole.
It could not be immediately established whether Mungwari herself had complied with the request.
By Staff Writer
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 18, 2000) - First Lady, Grace Mugabe's latest foray into campaign politics has once again been met with derision and ridicule, this time from an aspiring independent parliamentary candidate for the Harare North constituency.
The First Lady's last attempt at lending a helping hand to Zanu PF in Zvimba earlier this year ended with some people calling on Mugabe to concentrate on raising her children and looking after her husband, rather than enter the political arena.
Chester Mhende, an ex-Zanu PF, now independent candidate for the Harare North constituency, said it was amusing that Zanu PF's candidate for the constituency and sitting MP, Nyasha Chikwinya, had brought the First Lady to Hatcliffe Extension to "try and boost her flagging prospects for re-election".
Said Mhende: "I was surprised and amused to see the First Lady wanting to be associated with Nyasha Chikwinya's failure as a representative of the people of Harare North. Some of us were really embarrassed to see her flighted on national television supporting failure and corruption."
Mhende, a businessman who started a transport brokerage company that spawned other businesses, was expelled from Zanu PF in April after opting to contest next weekend's parliamentary polls as an independent.
Trudy Stevenson of the Movement for Democratic Change is also vying for the Harare North seat.
Mhende said claims by Grace Mugabe that Chikwi-nya had been successful in her five years as the sitting MP were not true.
"People are not being told the truth and Zanu PF is lying about development, particularly at Hatcliffe Extension, where the former Churu Farm families are now living in shacks," Mhende said.
He challenged Chikwinya to show the people just three successful projects that had been completed under her tenure as MP, adding that most of the projects in the constituency, particularly Hatcliffe Extension, had been undertaken by non-governmental organisations.
"We know that a lot of money was lost in community projects, such as the women's round table projects, the peanut butter and grinding mill projects, to name a few."
He added that it was really shameful that the ruling party had embarked on farm invasions and more recently, resettlement of the landless, but had not said anything about the Hatcliffe Extension inhabitants who desperately needed to be resettled.
"It was really sad to see these people, who are living in abject poverty being used as they were during the First Lady and Chikwinya's rally," he said.
"Remember this is the same Chikwinya that once boasted of being the best dressed MP whilst a large section of her constituents resided in one of the most underdeveloped and poorest areas in Harare."
As to what the people of Harare North could expect from him, if he got elected, Mhende said since he was no longer bogged down in partisan politics, he could best articulate the needs of his constituents without any obstacles as was the case with party members.
By Itayi Viriri
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 18, 2000) - The government has ordered journalists from the Herald House as well as the chief reporter of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), to cover the ruling Zanu PF's election campaigns in Bulawayo and other areas of Matabeleland, complaining of a lack of patriotism on the part of state journalists in Matabeleland, The Standard learnt last night.
Although minister of information, posts and telecommunications, Chen Chimutengwende, dismissed the allegations as "complete lies", insiders said government was not happy with the way the state-owned media was covering the election campaign in Matabeleland.
They claimed that what had angered some cabinet ministers was that the two government papers in Bulawayo, The Chronicle and The Sunday News, were giving wide coverage to rallies staged by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), while the crew of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and staffers at the Zimbabwe Inter-Africa News Agency, were not seen to be sufficiently supporting Zanu PF in the run up to next week-end's parliamentary elections.
Cabinet sources close to the latest development said a special helicopter has been reserved for use by ZBC chief reporter, Reuben Barwe, and reporters from The Herald to airlift them to Zanu PF election campaign rallies in Matabeleland.
Their first assignment was last Sunday when they flew to the Midlands.
The state newsmen then flew to Filabusi on Wednesday, and were later in the day, airlifted to Gwanda.
The Harare-based state journalists saw their third leg taking them to Lupane and Hwange on Thursday to cover Zanu PF rallies addressed by President Robert Mugabe.
Reliable contacts said last night that the journalists were also flown to Gokwe and Kadoma to cover Mugabe's campaign rallies for his party which faces its toughest election challenge since independence in 1980.
"We have been informed that government does not trust us here. We are informed that there was a cabinet meeting last week that resolved to dispatch Harare scribes to prop up the election campaign rallies for the ruling Zanu PF.
They are scared that the popularity of the MDC might affect their winning of local parliamentary elections," said one senior state journalist in Matabeleland.
Another journalist said newsmen in the area where being sidelined on grounds that they were being ethical and were thus resisting orders from government. They said they argued that it was the duty of the state media to give equal coverage to political parties without favour and it was this stance which had irked the government.
There were also allegations that state journalists were being asked to inflate attendance figures at political rallies staged by Mugabe.
This, according to sources, was being done to instil confidence in the people that Zanu PF was still enjoying immense popularity.
Over the years, the ZBC has been using its staff in Bulawayo to cover political rallies, while The Herald has been using copy from The Chronicle and The Sunday Mail has been relying on copy from The Sunday News.
Chimutengwende denied allegations that he was directing operations at Herald House and Pockets Hill from his Linquenda House office saying he only has access to the news once it had been published.
"Reuben Barwe is a senior reporter who covers events taking place everywhere. So his going to Matabeleland is justified.
We have no problems with what the papers and ZBC are publishing in Matabeleland. What we want is a copy," he said.
On his alleged dominance at Herald House, the minister had this to say: "Are people implying that Bornwell Chakaodza is not a competent editor. I don't give The Herald instructions on what they have to publish. I don't see their copy before the paper has been printed. To say that I direct operations is complete lies".
Herald editor, Chakaodza, and ZBC director-general, Luke Munyawarara, could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.
By Staff Writer
LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - International leaders will watch from the sidelines with concern and some degree of impotence this week as Zimbabwe's voters go to the polls in an election already tainted by violence and intimidation.
From Zimbabwe's former colonial powers in London to its southern African neighbours, the escalating bloodshed ahead of the elections has raised alarm.
Britain, the 54-member Commonwealth of mainly British former colonies, and South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki have all sought to press President Robert Mugabe to end a wave of land invasions which began back in March.
But none have managed to sway the veteran leader, who has ruled his country since independence in 1980, ahead of the June 24-25 parliamentary elections.
"Neither the Commonwealth nor Britain have much leverage over Mugabe at all," said Professor James Manor of the University of Sussex's Institute for Development Studies.
"The best hope was that Mbeki could get Mugabe to moderate his behaviour, but that seems not to be happening," he said.
Analysts say the land invasions are a thinly disguised step by Mugabe to pressure rural communities, where his support has been traditionally stronger, to steer clear of the opposition.
At least 29 people, mainly opposition supporters, have died and hundreds of others have been beaten, raped or forced to flee their homes in the last few months.
CARROT AND STICK INEFFECTIVE
Britain's Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain, a Kenyan-born former anti-apartheid campaigner who believes his past gives him a mandate for straight talk with African leaders, led the moves against Mugabe back in February, slamming his economic record.
Megaphone diplomacy gave way to arms sanctions as violence in Zimbabwe escalated. At the same time Britain promised to free up 35 million pounds of aid if the land invasions were halted.
Both carrot and stick failed to move Mugabe.
An unusually blunt expression of concern by the Commonwealth, often criticised as an empty talking shop, was equally ineffective.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon visited Mugabe last month to press for free and fair elections but said later he did not believe conditions for a fair poll existed.
"One still has to be concerned that the problems there don't really look as though they are conducive to free and fair elections," he said on his return to London.
"There are far too many people being killed in front of an election. Far too many. That's not a good omen for an election."
Commonwealth and EU observers have arrived in Zimbabwe to monitor the elections, though analysts have cast doubt on how reliably they will be able to check the polls.
"It is exceedingly difficult for a group of visiting observers to be aware of everything that goes on beforehand to rig an election," a Zimbabwean academic in London said.
THREAT OF FUTURE SANCTIONS?
While Mugabe has withstood outside pressure ahead of the elections, more may follow if the international community deems the elections to have been unfair.
In the United States, the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a bill to suspend bilateral U.S. assistance to Zimbabwe until democracy and rule of law is restored.
The bill, which still must be approved by the full Senate, is aimed at helping the opposition mount possible legal challenges to the election results or to repressive practices.
The International Monetary Fund has already suspended its loan programs to Zimbabwe and Washington has warned it will watch the election closely before considering a $15 million aid request from Harare.
Harare (Zimbabwe Independent, June 16, 2000) - The administration of the electoral process - widely regarded as severely flawed - has exposed further shortcomings in a society where democracy has yet to take root.
Instead of ensuring that the election is organised and conducted in a professional manner, authorities have systematically subverted the electoral process for self-serving political ends, critics charge. The system has thrown up legal impediments to the holding of a democratic poll.
Zimbabwe's electoral process is being managed by a hamstrung government department whose competence and independence have been widely questioned. This is happening against a backdrop of inadequate - or non-existent - checks and balances to avoid political interference, and with it, the undermining of the electoral system in its entirety, civil society representatives argue.
Under the Electoral Act, the Election Directorate is supposed to co- ordinate activities of government ministries and departments in regard to registration of voters, delimitation of constituencies, conduct of polls and all other matters connected with elections. The agency, which is chaired by Mariyawanda Nzuwa who also heads the Public Service Commission, is expected to give instructions and recommendations to the registrar-general on the management of the electoral process.
It consists of the registrar-general and between two and 10 other members appointed by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The chairman is appointed by the president.
The registrar-general, under the constitution, shall not be subject to the direction and control of any other person or authority other than the Election Directorate. But he shall have regard to any report or recommendation of the Electoral Supervisory Com- mission, another agency which has a role in supervising the electoral process.
Above all, the Election Directorate, currently on a nationwide campaign to assess election preparedness, is supposed to ensure the elections are conducted "efficiently, properly, freely and fairly".
However, legal experts and political analysts say the Election Directorate has over the years seen its powers to manage the process arbitrarily usurped and emasculated by overbearing politicians.
As a result it has neither been able to fulfil its duty to supervise the electoral process nor play a meaningful role to ensure reasonably sound organisation and conduct of elections.
In the same vein, the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), which is struggling to fulfil its role of monitoring the electoral procedures, has also failed to perform its task due to a political leash.
It has been rendered powerless by the executive, first through political medd-ling and then by deliberately depriving it of resources. The ESC, whose chair and other two members are appointed by the president after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, also considers any proposed Bill or statutory instrument relating to the registration of voters or other election issues.
It reports to the president on matters under its supervision.
The image of the registrar-general's office, which is a public office and an implementing agency of the Election Directorate, has not helped matters either.
The registrar-general stands accused by opposition parties of incorrigible incompetence and dereliction of duty. This has discredited the electoral process which, despite expert advice that it needs revamping, has only been tinkered with to camouflage the flaws.
Analysts say the electoral agencies have become dysfunctional and have been reduced by the executive, and President Mugabe in particular, to instruments of rigging. Mugabe is viewed as firmly in charge, intervening in the electoral process to achieve a predetermined poll outcome.
As if to prove the analysts right, problems besetting the electoral agencies resurfaced this week when President Mugabe issued a decree asserting control over the accreditation and supervision of election monitors and observers. This meant that the ESC - which has been rendered totally ineffective - was again sidelined in the execution of its duties.
Government has snatched the accreditation of election observers and placed it under the ministries of Home and Foreign Affairs. Following the presidential decree, the ESC is set to seek a court order declaring it unconstitutional.
Mugabe has also rejected the role of a UN election observer co- ordinating team forcing the group to pull out leaving the monitoring process in a state of crisis. Zimbabwe currently has hundreds of election observers from the Common- wealth, European Union, the US, and South Africa.
More are arriving from the region, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the OAU. But there are still insufficient observers for deployment to the 3 600 polling stations throughout the country.
There is however also concern about monitors from parties that have declared their support for the current Zanu PF campaign on land acquisition including state terrorism. These include observers from South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, and Mozambique whose governments recently joined Mugabe in condemning the US election observer group, the National Democratic Institute's report which said the political environment was hostile to a free and fair poll.
The Zambian leadership has declared it is sure the election would be free and fair and that "Africa does not need international observers to legitimise its elections".
The Americans and Europeans seem to be holding a different view and that will inevitably lead to a clash with Sadc countries.
Analysts say under these circumstances, the exercise of organising and holding of the forthcoming election would not achieve anything but further expose Zimbabwe's electoral deficiencies and the absence of democratic norms in the country whose citizens are struggling to break away from the entrenched autocratic political order. But what exactly are the problems with the current electoral system which has been subject to endless criticism by the public and politicians alike?
Dr Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional lawyer and civic activist, explains: "The problem is that the electoral process has no checks and balances; for example the registrar-general is empowered to conduct voter registration and prepare a voters' roll but there is no one to supervise his work.
He is not accountable to anyone and as a result he makes mistakes and does not care because he can get away with it."
Madhuku said the absence of monitoring mechanisms had damaged the electoral system because the agencies empowered to ensure a smooth running of the process were beholden to President Mugabe. "The ESC, the Delimitation Commission, and the Election Directorate are controlled by President Mugabe.
We saw it during the delimitation exercise in which the commission was forced to do its job in a month instead of at least three months," said Madhuku. He said the fact that the ESC was initially denied access to the voters' roll and that it has also been running without a substantive chair shows that it was not effective.
Elaine Raftopoulos has been acting chair after replacing Bishop Peter Hatendi who resigned in protest at underfunding and lack of structural reform in February. A week before the nomination of candidates, whose date had to be changed after a legal application by the opposition, the ESC had not received the draft voters' roll used by the Delimitation Commission.
However, new constituency boundaries had been disclosed to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who used the information to the ruling party's advantage, opposition leaders charge. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said, Delimitation Commission chair Justice Wilson Sandura first dismissed Mnangagwa's announcement of changes as mere rumours, "but his report must be taken as another imperfect process manipulated by Zanu PF".
Raftopoulos was recently quoted in the press as saying: "We have time and again mentioned that and the situation has not changed. We have not had the voters' roll.
We have not had constituency boundaries and the number of polling stations. The registrar-general's office has not been co-operative."
David Coltart, a lawyer and opposition politician, said despite being laden with technical hitches, its management was appalling.
"The main problem with our electoral process is that the Electoral Act has a section which gives the president powers to arbitrarily amend the Act anytime," Coltart said. "He did it last week (proclamation on postal votes) and such kind of provisions are the source of probleMs."
Coltart said there were technical flaws in the electoral process on issues such as voter registration, inspection, delimitation, and how the poll was conducted because there was no independent electoral body.
Laws were interpreted in a self-serving manner while in some cases they were flouted with impunity. "You can't have someone who is an interested party organising and presiding over the conduct of the election," Coltart pointed out.
Zimbabwe Union of Democrats secretary-general Isaac Manyemba agreed. "The greatest anomaly in the electoral process is that President Mugabe is acting as judge, jury, prosecutor and police officer," he said.
By Dumisani Muleya