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Armed Mugabe supporters at opposition rally site: MDC

Yahoo News

By Nelson Banya 19 minutes ago

HARARE (Reuters) - Armed supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
have occupied the area where opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was to hold
an election rally on Sunday, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change

"Thousands of armed (ruling party) ZANU-PF youth militia have violently
occupied the MDC rally venue at Harare showgrounds to disrupt the rally,
which the High Court granted," the MDC said in a statement.

The two men are scheduled to face each other in a run-off election for
president on June 27 after months of high political tension marked by
opposition allegations of violence and intimidation by Mugabe's supporters.

A Reuters correspondent said pro-Mugabe youth were carrying sticks and
knives at the venue for the rally, which police had banned. A High Court in
Harare on Saturday overturned the ban.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March 29 election but fell short of the
outright majority needed to avoid a run-off, according to official results.

Tsvangirai, according to a spokesman, is now considering pulling out of the
run-off because of what the MDC says are strong-arm tactics by Mugabe's men.

The MDC says at least 70 of its members have been killed since March in a
campaign of intimidation by Mugabe's government to scare opponents and
voters. The veteran Zimbabwean leader blames the opposition for the

Tsvangirai has been detained five times during his election campaign and MDC
Secretary-General Tendai Biti remains in custody facing a treason charge and
other offenses. Biti faces a death sentence if convicted.

Mugabe, 84, is fighting to cling onto power in the country he has ruled
since independence from Britain in 1980. Once prosperous, its economy is now
ruined and millions have fled the political and economic crisis to
neighboring states.

(Writing by Paul Simao; editing by Richard Balmforth

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Major Mugabe-MDC supporters' confrontation looms at Harare rally

Monsters and Critics

Jun 22, 2008, 9:13 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - A major confrontation loomed Sunday between supporters
of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change as the latter were due to hold a rally in Harare.

Witnesses said hundreds of young Mugabe supporters had occupied the downtown
area of the rally, threatening the crowds streaming to the event due to be
addressed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The rally was going ahead after a High Court judge Saturday ordered police
not to block it, overruling a decision by the police to ban the event.

The rally was to be the first to be addressed by Tsvangirai before next
Friday's presidential run-off election against Mugabe.

In the first round of the vote in March, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe but failed
to garner the absolute majority.

Tsvangirai has been detained by police five times during campaigning, while
a number of MDC leaders are either on the run or in jails.

The run-up to the second round has been marred by violence. The opposition
claims that that the Zanu PF militia and army have killed about 70 of its
supporters, displacing more than 30 000 people.

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In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe's reign of terror hangs by a thread

New York Daily News

By Geoffrey Nyarota

Saturday, June 21st 2008, 11:35 AM

I spoke on the phone Tuesday to a relative in eastern Zimbabwe whose village
was invaded by soldiers and militiamen loyal to President Robert Mugabe.

Three months after it lost its majority in parliament, Mugabe's party,
Zanu-PF - which has dominated the nation for three decades - still rules

But it hangs on only by a thread, and a threat.

Mugabe's nemesis, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, defeated him in a
presidential election on March 29. A runoff election is scheduled for this
coming Friday. And, true to form, Mugabe is spreading fear and wreaking
havoc to prevent the people from ousting him at the polls.

My relative, whom I cannot name for his security, nearly wept as he narrated
details of young men in the village being ferociously assaulted, of scarce
food being pillaged, of women being forced to carry out chores at a recently
established military base.

"The people are terrified," he said. "Many will be too scared to vote now.
We are praying that the international observers arrive soon to save us."

It was a futile hope, but I did not have the heart to tell him. Less than
900 foreign election observers are expected in the country, most of them
from southern Africa. They are too thin on the ground to cover more than
9,000 polling stations. And so, we will likely see Mugabe win this round.

That would be a debacle for Zimbabwe, for Africa - indeed, for the world.
Mugabe does not easily forget; neither does he forgive those who seek to
undermine him.

In coming to this conclusion, I need not simply cite the fact that he has
spent weeks starving and terrorizing his opponents. I speak from personal
experience. I was once the editor of The Chronicle, a state-owned daily
newspaper that exposed rampant corruption in the top echelons of the Mugabe
regime back in 1988.

Now I live in Massachusetts. This is because I was fired from three
positions editing papers inside Zimbabwe. I was arrested on six occasions.
My last newspaper's printing press was reduced to scrap metal in a bomb
explosion. A hand grenade was lobbed at our building below my office. Then,
the Central Intelligence Organization contracted a hit man to assassinate

It is for reasons like these that an estimated 3 million of my compatriots
also live in exile.

When I watch Mugabe on television, as he castigates Tsvangirai and threatens
to take Zimbabwe to war if he loses the election, I know he must be taken

He is aggrieved; his pride mortally wounded by his defeat. He cannot come to
terms with rejection by an electorate that prefers a politician he dismisses
as a mere puppet of Washington and London.

Back in 2000, Mugabe focused his rage on Zimbabwe's white population. He
accused them of influencing the black population to vote against a draft
constitution proposed by his government and ordered the wholesale
expropriation of white-owned commercial farms.

Now he targets the blacks.

But there is a ray of hope. Mugabe, at age 84, may lack the capacity to
sustain any prolonged conflict against his long-suffering people. He has
impoverished and alienated the rural population that was once the backbone
of his guerrilla army. A sizable portion of the electorate has no
recollection of the war Mugabe constantly cites to stir up support for his
horrible regime. As a result, Mugabe's party, once a homogenous pillar of
support, now stands sharply divided.

If Mugabe loses the crucial election rerun and, as promised, defies the will
of the people, his little remaining credibility will evaporate, especially
in the eyes of supportive neighbors such as South Africa's Thabo Mbeki.

Deprived of the remaining regional support, the regime may finally collapse.
But for that to happen - for the teetering dictator to be toppled - the
people first must overcome their fears to vote. Tragically, there are slim
chances of that.

Nyarota is the managing editor of, an online newspaper.

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Zimbabwe opposition starts meeting on whether to contest run-off

Yahoo News

14 minutes ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition began meeting on Sunday morning at
the party's headquarters to debate whether to contest this week's
presidential run-off amid mounting violence, a party source told AFP.

"The (party's) national council needs to take stock about the prevailing
situation vis-a-vis the run-off which is going to take place on Friday," the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) source said on condition of anonymity.

"There is going to be serious debate. There is going to be divided opinion
on whether to participate in the run-off or not."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is seeking to end President Robert
Mugabe's 28-year rule in the election, attended the meeting with others, the
source said, adding that he was unsure whether a resolution would be

The MDC has shown signs of deep divisions in recent days on whether to
contest the vote amid violence that it claims has left some 70 supporters
dead since the March 29 first round of the poll.

Earlier this month, Tsvangirai said 200 people were unaccounted for and a
further 3,000 had been hospitalised.

Despite the violence and major obstacles in seeking to campaign, the party's
secretary for legal affairs Innocent Gonese has told AFP that "withdrawing
will not solve anything."

MDC treasurer general Roy Bennett has described suggestions of pulling out
of the race as "nonsense."

An opposition decision to pull out would likely hand victory to Mugabe, who
has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980.

Mugabe has threatened to arrest opposition leaders over the violence, though
the UN has said his supporters were to blame of the bulk of it.

The veteran leader has remained defiant in the face of criticism over
conditions ahead of the vote, vowing the opposition will never come to power
in his lifetime and pledging to fight to keep it from happening.

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Caribbean leaders: The right to denounce Mugabe

Jamaica Observer


      Sir Ronald Sanders
      Sunday, June 22, 2008

"Treachery, tribalism and mass murder are all that can result from a false
solution. To accept such a Zimbabwe would be a betrayal of our people, of
our principles and quite simply (since dead and detained men can neither
canvass nor cast votes) a betrayal of ourselves."

Those were the words of a joint statement by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo
spoken at the 1979 London Conference that led to the independence of
Zimbabwe and the election of Mugabe as president.

In his sanctioning of wanton killings and detention of his political
opponents, Mugabe has long since forgotten those words.
The joint statement went on to state: "We must remember here that it has
always been, and it remains, the basic objective of the Patriotic Front to
ensure that government of a genuine free Zimbabwe is based upon free and
fair elections."

Now in a betrayal, not only of that pledge but of all the persons and
nations that stood up for an independent Zimbabwe based on majority rule,
Mugabe has rigged one election after the other and has sworn not to accept
the results of an election on June 27 if it goes against him.

Mugabe has disappointed his most ardent supporters; he has treated with
contempt those who reposed confidence in him in the face of many doubters;
and worst of all, he has destroyed his own country and devastated his own
people, thousands of whom have fled the country to neighbouring states
especially South Africa where in recent times they have been beaten by
resentful and unwelcoming South Africans.

The current atmosphere in Zimbabwe is not conducive to a free and fair
election. Fifty-three deaths have been confirmed, 2,000 people have been
injured and 30,000 people displaced during the campaign. UN reports say four
million people are in need of food aid and they are being denied help by the
Mugabe regime. The deputy leader of the opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), Tendai Biti, is in police custody.

Soldiers have been ordered by their high command to vote for Mugabe or lose
their jobs and villagers all over the country have been threatened with
death by the army. Ordinary people are brutally chopped to death as an
example to others.

The governments of some neighbouring African countries have now spoken out
against the glaring atrocities of the Mugabe regime. Tanzanian foreign
minister, Bernard Membe, whose government is the current chairman of the
African Union, said: "There is every sign that these elections will never be
free or fair." His conclusion has been reached on the basis of reports from
211 election observers inside the country, some of whom had seen two people
shot dead in front of them on June 17.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki could have done much more to bring an
early end to the destruction of Zimbabwe and the wanton killings, by
imposing a trade embargo on Zimbabwe, closing the border between the two
countries and stopping financial transactions. Instead, he handled Mugabe
with kid gloves and sought to reason with him long after Mugabe had
manifestly shown that he was beyond reasoning. The elections on June 27th
are now a huge farce.

If Mugabe wins the presidential election, no one anywhere in the world could
possibly accept it as credible. Zimbabwe's economy - already a basket case,
except for the help of China - will deteriorate even further and Zimbabweans
will suffer and die even more. Undoubtedly, the US, Canada and the European
Union countries will rightly apply strict sanctions against the regime.

The Chinese government will have to decide whether in the face of Mugabe's
glaring atrocities it will continue to prop him up. It would be sad for the
Zimbabwean people if they took such a decision.

If, by some miracle, Morgan Tsvangirai wins this deeply flawed presidential
election, Mugabe has sworn not to accept the result.

Calling the Opposition "traitors", he said "Should this country be taken by
traitors ... It shall never happen ... We are prepared to go to war for it".
The response of the EU, US and Canada and many other countries will be the
same - the isolation of the regime and sanctions.

Caribbean governments have a right and an obligation to condemn the Mugabe
regime in the most vigorous terms and to send a clear message now that they
will join an international effort to isolate his regime.

Caribbean persons such as Shridath 'Sonny' Ramphal, as Commonwealth
secretary-general, played a crucial role in the achievement of majority
rule, and the independence of Zimbabwe. Other Caribbean leaders, at the
time, Jamaica's Michael Manley, Guyana's Forbes Burnham and Barbados' Errol
Barrow also played their part in overturning the Unilateral Declaration of
Independence by the white, minority government of Ian Smith. They all argued
for free and fair elections based on majority rule, and an end to state
sanctioned killing of people who opposed the government.

Today, Mugabe is no better than Smith. He has spurned the efforts of more
recent Caribbean leaders - most notably P J Patterson, the former prime
minister of Jamaica, who as chairman of a group of six Commonwealth heads of
government, tried his best to persuade Mugabe to honour the path to

By the time Caribbean heads of government meet for their annual conference
in July in Antigua, the result of this farcical June 27 election will be
known, and Zimbabwe will be plunged into a deeper morass of dictatorial rule
and atrocities than it now is.

At that meeting, Caribbean governments should unhesitatingly join other
countries in imposing the strongest measures against the Mugabe regime
including intervention by the United Nations. But even before then,
Caribbean governments at the highest levels should let Mugabe know publicly
that they condemn his actions and that the elections on June 27 are not
Tyranny in any colour must be firmly rejected.
Sir Ronald Sanders is a business consultant and former Caribbean diplomat

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A conspiracy of silence

Nation News, Barbados

Published on: 6/22/08.

AS SHAMEFUL as is the disgraceful situation being played out in Mr Robert
Mugabe's Zimbabwe, so also is the appalling and cowardly silence shrouding
the issue in Barbados and its Caribbean neighbours.

Our governments maintain diplomatic silence.

As the menacing and tyrannical Mr Mugabe disingenuously blames economic
sanctions for the wreckage that is Zimbabwe, as he, despite horribly
mounting evidence accuses the opposition of lying about political violence
in that country, our local friends of Africa likewise seeing and hearing no
evil, hold their tongues.

There are occasions when silence is as sinful as the evil it hides. The
occurrences in Zimbabwe are monumentally undemocratic and monstrously

There is credible evidence that Zimbabwe's military is actively involved in
running Robert Mugabe's re-election campaign.

The suggestion is that the ruling party Zanu-PF will use the army to harass
and drive out opposition supporters, especially from rural areas. A run-off
presidential vote is due to take place later in the month.

Documents obtained by news media suggest that the Joint Operations Command
(JOC) is now running logistics and operations for Zanu-PF.

The JOC is made up of the heads of the military and state security

Another document lays out the party's tactics, including the use of scarce
food supplies as a political weapon.

"Basic commodities should be sold from either people's shops or pro-Zanu-PF
shops," it says.

"Emphasis should be in party strongholds."

It talks about giving the notorious and feared war veterans, responsible for
much of the violence in Zimbabwe, a "leading role in Zanu-PF campaigns".

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says at least 70 of its
supporters have been killed in Zimbabwe and many more beaten in the run-up
to next week's presidential run-off election.

Mr Mugabe says that the opposition MDC will never be allowed to run the
country and that "only God" could remove him.

To date, the MDC suffered at least five violent deaths of activists or their
family members this week and its secretary general, Tendai Biti, was charged
with treason and subversion. He faces death if found guilty.

And the MDC is to announce tomorrow whether it will contest the June 27
poll, a party source has indicated.

Meanwhile, MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai - who is due to face Mr Mugabe in
the run-off - is reported to be under pressure to pull out in view of
escalating pre-poll violence.

So, in the event that Mr Tsvangirai is indeed forced to abandon the election
Mr Mugabe would be handed victory in a shameful charade.

If Barbados continues its culture of silence in the face of such outrageous
abuses, it would certainly be easier again to remain silent when travesties
occur on its own doorstep. We already have ample evidence of this.

THE NATION newspapers loudly condemn Mr Mugabe and his henchmen for the
political and economic terror that they continue to visit upon their own

And, we call upon the Government of Barbados forcefully to add Barbados'
voice to those too, too few nations that are already speaking out against
the stifling of democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe.

Also, we call on the labour unions, churches and all elements of civil
society to add voices against the manifest evil that is choking Zimbabwe.

Barbados must resist the easy convenience of silence and must instead stand
on principle.

It may be fashionable to ignore the misdeeds of our friends and those to
whom we are culturally and historically aligned. But, on this occasion, we
will be unfashionably out of step and just do the right thing. Our children
are intelligent, they have eyes, and they are watching!

The nations of African descent cannot continue to give Mr Mugabe a free pass
based on his former freedom fighting credentials.

He is now the antithesis of all that he fought for, arguably now more
poisonous than the regime he replaced.

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Daughter of Zimbabwean opposition leader addresses Perth crowd

West Australian

22nd June 2008, 15:45 WST

The Perth-based daughter of Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangarai
broke her silence on her father's campaign for the presidency today at a
rally attended by close to 200 people outside's the Wesley Church on Murray
and William streets.
Zimbabwean ex-pats were joined by those seeking refugee status in calling
for the Australian Government and the Government's of African and Western
nations do bring more pressure to bear on the regime 28-year-old regime of
President Robert Mugabe to do more to ensure the run-off election held this
Friday would be free and fair.

Rumbidzai Tsvangirai, 22, told the crowd she was ashamed and saddened to see
the demise of Zimbabwe from the breadbasket of Africa to a place where
people are starving, unemployed and living under a violent regime.

"For 10 years I have watched my father fight for a seemingly out of reach
goal," she said.

"I've seen him beaten up, jailed and even charged with treason and
threatened with death by hanging.

"I've spent countless days and nights fearing for his life and praying for
the day when what he so courageously risks his life for, that is democracy
and freedom for Zimababwe, will be attained."

Zimbabweans attending the rally were able to take part in an unofficial
ballot which showed overwhelming majority support for Mr Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change. They will not be able to take part in Friday's
actual election because of a decree by Mr Mugabe.

Natalie, a woman who came to Perth from Zimbabwe and is seeking refugee
status so only wished to be known by her first name, said she felt compelled
to attend the rally in support of the young people of her homeland, her
sisters and her mother, who were being "starved, tortured and have no

"I'm enjoying my freedom here in Australia but my family is in Zimbabwe
under mad-man rule with no food, no water, no fuel, no freedom and no
rights," she said.


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Reformed churches pray for Zimbabwe

Christian Today

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008, 8:12 (BST)

Reports of the intimidation, torture and death of opponents of Zimbabwe's
government have prompted a call for a day of prayer on Sunday 22 June among
the worldwide Reformed family of churches.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on 27 June in a run-off election resulting from
the 29 March presidential election. The run-off vote was called after a
delay of several weeks before the announcement of the March election

"Credible reports reaching us indicate a blatant intimidation of voters and
people being tortured. Some have died," said Setri Nyomi, general secretary
of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), in a letter to 214
churches around the world.

"Already Zimbabweans have been suffering under the burden of high inflation
and lack of essential commodities. This current spate of violence and
intimidation seems to be targeted at those who did not vote for the ruling
party, especially in some specific rural areas," Nyomi added.

"This creates a very intimidating atmosphere for the run-off elections. We
are committed to the rights and welfare of all Zimbabweans, not just to one
party or the other.

"Our main concern now is to ensure that Zimbabweans feel free to express
their democratic rights."

WARC's call for a day of prayer on 22 June echoes the call of the World
Council of Churches and other voices for such a day.

"Please join Christians all over the world in praying for Zimbabwe this
Sunday, and every day of next week," Nyomi concluded.

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Al Qaeda harbored in Zimbabwe? The game changer!

June 21, 2008

Last week Zimbabwe was again in the spotlight for not-so-enviable yet
glaring headlines, of a spike in pre-election violence characterized by
spine-chilling reports of crimes against humanity as well as the country's
alleged link to the deadly terrorist network al Qaeda. The gruesome murder
of the Mayor of Harare's wife who was abducted together with her four-year
old son and later bludgeoned to death beyond recognition received the most
coverage internationally. The world was taken aback by eerie reports
emanating from British Intelligence, the MI6 based in Africa, that the top
brass of the Zimbabwe's Joint Operation Command (running ZanuPF campaign)
secretively met with al Qaeda in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. The alleged meeting
held while Mugabe was in Rome, focused on  setting up an 'Islamic Empire' in
Southern Africa, preferably Zimbabwe as reported by many news organizations
that include The argument being that failed and lawless
states provide a conducive logistical and operational environment that can
become a sanctuary for training, recruiting, smuggling arms, people, money,

The International community has done absolutely nothing to help the poor
people of Zimbabwe who have unjustifiably suffered for years under the
misrule of Zanu PF. Apart from haphazard sanctions which have regrettably
caused more misery to the people of Zimbabwe, nothing substantive has been
done to stabilize the country economically and politically. It has also been
argued that the sanctions were meant to yield an economic implosion that
will squeeze Mugabe out irrespective of the suffering that they might cause.
However it will be disingenuous to wholly attribute Zimbabwe's economic
collapse to sanctions. After all Zimbabwe was already in arrears with the
biggest international lending institutions like the IMF by the time
sanctions were imposed hence could not get further assistance. The economy
has imploded chiefly because of mismanagement, government corruption and
also due to the demise of the rule of law.

It is however critical to point out that the ineffectual sanctions imposed
on top Zanu PF members have not produced any change of behavior as intended
since they were effected back in 2002. The economic freefall has benefited
the regime immensely and created a kleptocratic Zanu PF bourgeoisie that now
boasts of massive wealth, power and privilege. The sanctions have created a
pariah state, a social outcast of a nation, that has stripped its citizens
of their rights (human rights) and declared war on the poor people of
Zimbabwe. The government of Zimbabwe fashionably hides behind national
sovereignty in order to manipulate the world into thinking that Mugabe, a
subject of massive personality cult, is doing the right thing. For example,
it is a fact that land redistribution exercise was both self-serving and
politically expedient as evidenced by the multiple farms that have been
grabbed by the Ministers and their cousins' and their cousin's cousins.

What we shall see in Zimbabwe is a case of collateral benefit as the West
(notably the US) takes an aggressive move to stabilize Zimbabwe by any means
necessary because of the fear that Zimbabwe might turn out to be a breeding
ground for terrorists. It is in the best interests of the West to have a
stabilized Zimbabwe because al Qaeda kills!  The West cannot afford any
longer to watch idly because the pursuit of oil and terrorists is at the
core of US policy. At the beginning of Zimbabwe's woes, the United States
had a prima facie legitimate case of not helping, a Third World country like
Zimbabwe because of its economic and strategic insignificance (primarily the
absence of Oil). Saddam Hussein was not taken out by sanctions but by brute
force because of the presence of oil in Iraq. We already saw restlessness by
Condoleeza Rice on Thursday, June 18th, appealing to the UN Security Council
to take action on Zimbabwe and scheduling a follow-up meeting next week for
a Security Council briefing on Zimbabwe by UN special envoy - Mr Haile
Menkerios. She is also turning up the heat on SADC for being complicit with
the Zanu PF regime most notably the lousy Thabo Mbeki who on several
occasions denied that there was a crisis in Zimbabwe.

Engaging the government and the opposition in a comprehensive dialogue to
create a government of national unity in order to achieve political and
socio-economic stability is the most feasible route at the moment for a soft
landing in Zimbabwe. An election will not salvage the situation because
there is too much at stake for both parties. On one hand there is fear of
prosecution for human rights abuses and fear of losing ill-gotten wealth by
Zanu PF the cause for which they are prepared to take to the grave while on
the other hand, the MDC knows that an election has been stolen, (twice, for
that matter) and its members have been murdered.

As mentioned in my previous article, we should not delude ourselves into
thinking that June 27, 2008 will put an end to suffering or killings. A Zanu
PF victory will be regarded as yet another stolen election and likely to be
met with stiff resistance at home and abroad making it difficult for the
country to have access to multilateral lending institutions and other
financial institutions across the globe which can inject the much needed
foreign currency for its rejuvenation. Conversely, an MDC victory might
never be recognized by Mugabe and his military. It will be a sad day in
Zimbabwe come June 28, 2008 unless a miracle happens. Given the West's
heightened interest if Zimbabwe, a stolen election might lead to a situation
of what  happened in Zaire (now DRC) where a foreign-sponsored 'Banyamulenge'
style insurrection overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko. Poverty and oppression are
capable of yielding the most deleterious results hence the time to unite and
act is now. Already there are rumors doing the rounds on the internet of an
armed rebellion calling itself the Zimbabwe Resistance Movement (UK-based,
as revealed by a Google search) which others might treat it as a hoax but it
can happen.

The events that have taken place in Zimbabwe to date have taught some of us
to "never say never' as there are no absolutes in life.  If Kenyans did it,
Zimbabweans can do it too. How many more lives are we going to lose before a
compromise is made? Zimbabwe cannot afford a civil war the same way it
cannot afford ethnic cleansing. Our voice of moderation is calling for peace
because nothing supersedes peace!

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Reminder - SADC report on 29 March election

 MISA-Zimbabwe Communiqué
31 March 2008
SADC notes several election anomalies but endorses poll as free and fair

The SADC Observer Mission to the 2008 elections noted several anomalies that
run against the grain of the principles of democratic elections within the
southern African region but still endorsed the process leading to the 29
March elections as free and fair.

Addressing journalists in Harare on 30 March 2008, the head of the mission
Jose Marcos Barrica noted the issues of equal access to the state media by
political parties and candidates, access to information on the electoral
process and the "irresponsible statements" by security chiefs, as some of
the anomalies. He, however, said the issue of access to the state media had
improved as the election date drew close.

Barrica said the statements by the security chiefs such as Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and Commissioner of Prisons Paradzai
Zimondi that they would not salute Morgan Tsvangirai leader of the
opposition MDC in the event of him winning the presidential race, should
have been publicly denounced.

In its preliminary report on the elections, the observer mission also noted
that information on the electoral and voting process should also have been
published in advance but still commended the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) for doing everything to ensure that the elections would be held
despite the logistical problems encountered.

It its pre-election position findings on the  presidential, parliamentary,
senatorial and local government elections held on 29 March 2008,
MISA-Zimbabwe noted with grave concern that with polling only a few weeks
away and almost four  years after the adoption of the SADC Guidelines, there
is little evidence on the Zimbabwean government's willingness to relax its
grip on the state media and allow opposition political parties or opposing
voices to freely air their campaign messages and views on ZBC radio and

MISA-Zimbabwe noted  that ZBC, Zimbabwe's sole national state broadcaster
continued to demonstrate its partisan tendencies where it concerns providing
fair, balanced and equitable coverage of the ensuing election campaigns.

The live broadcast of the launch of the ruling Zanu PF's election manifesto
by ZBC on 29 March 2008 to the exclusion of a similar exercise by the
opposition MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai the previous week at Sakubva Stadium
in Mutare and that of Independent presidential candidate, Simba Makoni in
Bulawayo is one such glaring omission or commission denying citizens access
to alternative information which should have been noted by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) in its mandate.

In terms of the Electoral Laws Act (As Amended 2008), ZEC should also have
drawn up regulations for free, fair and balanced access to public
broadcasting. As of 4 March 2008 and 25 days before polling ZEC was still to
come up with such regulations for purposes of monitoring the media to ensure
accurate and fair coverage of the elections to stem encouragement of
violence, racial, ethnic and religious hatred.

Meanwhile, asked why the SADC election team had endorsed the elections as
having been free and fair when  ZEC was still to announce the results almost
20 hours after polling had closed at 7pm on 29 March 2008, Barrica said
their mandate was only restricted to observing the pre-election period in
terms of the SADC Guidelines.

Urging all political parties to respect the will of the people, he warned
Zimbabweans against allowing for the prospect of civil war saying as an
Angolan he had the experience of the negative impact of that scenario.

"I reiterate SADC's commitment to continue supporting the people of Zimbabwe
in their efforts to deepen democracy and realise the dignity of Zimbabweans.
The voice of the people of Zimbabwe need to be heard and heard by the people
of Zimbabwe," said Barrica.


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Nyasha Nyakunu
Research and Information Officer
84 McChlery Drive
Box HR 8113
Telefax: 00 263 4 77 61 65/ 74 68 38
Cell: 00 263 11 602 448/00 263 11 639 682

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