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President Mugabe says he is sure of victory
There has been a high turnout in Zimbabwe's elections despite opposition claims of widespread intimidation by government supporters.

Foreign observers say the polling is generally proceeding smoothly. The election poses the first real threat to President Robert Mugabe's 20-year rule, as ITN's Africa Correspondent Tim Ewart reports.

Zimbabwe's voters were out early and out in force. In the capital, Harare, the turnout suggested that if there was intimidation it wasn't working. A big turnout has always been seen as favouring the opposition - but only hours after the poll opened President Mugabe was claiming victory.

"We are winning the elections hands down - as you can see and feel it is very quiet, people are voting quietly and massively," said Mr Mugabe.

It is the rural constituencies which will be decisive - the workforce here has borne the brunt of  political violence. But these workers were not deterred from going to vote - although they faced continuing threats.

Many people in rural areas will be too scared to vote but the intimidation may have backfired. There is much resentment of the behaviour of Mr Mugabe's supporters.

For the beleaguered white farmers, this weekend will be a turning point. They are hoping for change but are fearing the worst. "Things may turn violent again and there may be serious retributions," said farmer Bernard Hacking.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has always insisted he can win the election even if the vote is rigged. Mr Mugabe is not standing for re-election but this is effectively a vote on his leadership. At the moment, he is in no mood to talk about compromise let alone defeat.

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Good turn out in Zimbabwe election
Polls have opened in Zimbabwe after an election campaign plagued by violence and intimidation.

For the first time in his twenty year rule President Mugabe's party faces a strong opposition challenge.

ITN's Kevin Dunn reports. VIDEO

From first light voters queued at polling stations across Zimbabwe and when they opened voting was reported to be brisk.

At stake are one hundred and twenty parliamentary seats in what is regarded as the most important election since independence twenty years ago.

It is in effect a referendum on President Robert Mugabe's rule, though his presidential term runs for two more years. His ruling ZANU-PF party has been widely blamed for orchestrating violence which has claimed at least 30 lives in the run-up to the election.

But Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai hopes to inflict a first defeat on the ruling party, by exploiting discontent over the country's disastrous economic decline.

In rural areas, where the violence and intimidation has been worst, farm labourers were driven to the polling stations, where they queued alongside white farm owners hopeful of a peaceful election.

Farmer Graham Douse said: "We hope that the rule of law and the rights of each and every citizen of Zimbabwe can now be protected by the rule of law

Some incidents were reported but overall international monitors said voting was going smoothly. The results will be known on Monday.

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reports to 9.30am

Reports of massive intimidation were being received from around the country.
They ranged from barricades being set up by war veterans and blocking or
attacking polling agents; to international observers appearing not to know
electoral law; to the abduction of polling agents; or polling agents not
being allowed into booths; and many complaints about people who were on the
original voters roll or supplementary rolls, not being on the roll today. 

Problems with voter rolls reported from Borrowdale and Harare East. Craighie
Polling Station has the wrong voters roll. Mt Pleasant High was missing two
voters rolls.

Guruve South:    Bus in Victory Block attacked, 10 injured, one missing.
Reported to police.
Midvale Farm  W/Vets camped at Gapwe/Dunavete.
Dalston Farm      400 youths collected Friday night at Chinhamwe and were
intimidating workers (Mark Hook 091236491)
Marijnara Farm  Abductions of farmworkers reported
Hayshot farm - followed by a Zanu PF truck with 13 Zanu PF youths followed
his truck to polling station and forced them to turn around. The youths then
proceeded to polling station and were threatening voters.
BINDURA - ZanuPF truck is blocking the main road into Pinto Park, the
polling station and not allowing anyone to go through 
Chikurubi polling station not accepting receipts for the supplementary roll,
telling people to return Sunday.
Highlands School polling station - four local monitors ejected from the
polling booth by the presiding officer just after international observers
passed through.
The constituency registrar was turning away transfers even though people
were on the roll at Hatfield.
Queensdale Polling station - all polling agents were pushed out and were
told their accreditation was not valid until the MDC candidate arrived and
ensured their readmittance.
OAU observers tried to disallow the MDC candidate from the Hatfield

Sangononoyi Inn Policeman refused to allow MDC candidate Trudy Stevenson
(091-315-289) into polling station and would not give his police force

ZVIMBA NORTH -  Voters are being made to put ink on their fingers before
their names are checked

Centenary:  Extensive intimidation of farmworkers and farmers reported.
Nyanmetsa Polling station - no MDC polling agents, 3 war vets inside polling
station. Muzarabani constituency

Peter Trigg, an election agent and polling agents were stopped at barricades
on a farm and around 20 war veterans tried to pull them from their vehicle,
they resisted and the car was pelted with stones and badly damaged. They
managed to drive to a polling station and reported the incident to 4 police
officers who did nothing. They left that polling station and encountered
another barricade with around 15 war vets, they drove back to the polling
station and this time police reinforcements came out.

Dumiso Dabengwa, Minister of Home Affairs was not on the voters' roll but
the Constituence Officer allowed him to vote; this privilege was also
extended to MDC legal head, David Coltart who was also not on the voters
No supplementary roll in many places, people with a receipt for
re-registration are not allowed to vote because they are not on roll. At the
Famona firestation, Bulawayo South the international observers and police
said people should be allowed to vote if they have a receipt, but generally
this is not happening.
Last night 10 people in Lobengula were beaten up and had their ID cards
stolen by ZanuPF.
Five MDC youths were abducted from homes in Lobengula West, were beaten up,
then held in Block 59 Ndlovu's house and then released. A  number of
additional youths still being held. Police notified at Mpopoma police
COLLEEN BAWN - a policeman in that area has Tendai Buzi (016-284-387)

Keep up the momentum!


MDC Support Centre
8th Floor, Gold Bridge

Guqula Izenzo/Maitiro Chinja

"Zimbabwe's strength lies in racial and ethnic diversity - we will overcome
attempts to divide us" (Morgan Tsvangirai)

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Just to let you know that Kwekwe at least is very quiet and orderly at
present. I voted at 1000 after standing in a queue for nearly an hour. The
monitors were evident and police removed any groups of youth that looked as
though they wanted to cause trouble. I have had no feed back from the high
density areas, but hopefully things are under control there too.

Hi there, from Bulawayo, all very peaceful and orderly, i found the blacks in the lines to be very chatty and cheerful. I had to vote in the Rural areas because that is where i live, but going through town i found it the same. If there is going to be any trouble it will be in the townships. There was about 5 policemen there all very relaxed.

Hi all, Election Day is well on now and I went off this morning to exercise my democratic right. My wife, domestic ancillary worker and I went to a nearby school and waited for about half an hour in the queue (the best queue to join). There were about 6 police on guard and about 4 election monitors. There was also a foreign observer (he didn't sound as though he had much of an accent so couldn't be sure of where he was from) and he was worried that the ballot box had a loose panel where papers could be slipped in overnight. Apart from that, all seemed peaceful and we have been past a few polling stations and there were long queues to be seen - of all colours and races. Everyone is talking together and joking around. We went through town and it is DEAD - there is noone around and most shops are closed. Peaceful now but let's wait for the results. I will post more as I find it out. Thanks for the wishes. Regards to all, A in Harare
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Polling is progressing well in all areas.  There have been some logistical problems with election monitors, but these have generally been resolved.  Some polling stations did not have the supplementary voters roll at the start of polling, but this has been resolved in most cases.  The only general comment is that the procedures are slow. 
  • In a last-minute attempt at "re-education", two workers were assaulted on Duneverty Farm in Guruve last night. 
  • The only other district that has reported small pockets of intimidation is Mvurwi, but even here it is thought that the intimidation is of minimal consequence. 
  • The manager of Glenara Farm in Harare West was subjected to demands for meat from the resident war vets.
Peaceful and quiet. Incidence of where farmer and workers had checked the voters roll and now not on the roll. 
Save Consevancy - a mobile polling station was accompanied by Zanu(pf) youths. Two MDC vehicles were stoned and no International observers present.
Voting peaceful and turnout good at the polls. The atmosphere is bouyant. One farmer who had confirmed his name on the voters roll, now not on the roll.
Quiet. However one incident reported in Mtorashanga where Zanu(pf) youths rounded up the labour and told the labour to vote by a certain time. A death threat was made on the farmer. The police reacted and now sorted out. 
MASHONALAND WEST SOUTH - peaceful and orderly voting going on. Some administrative problems with people registered in the wrong constitiuency, and confusion with mobile polling stations in the Kadoma area.
Selous - Bottleneck at the polling queues and processing only 20 people per hour.
Marondera  - Polling stations in the town have longer queues. On the Dormervale Road a road block was set up by youth asking passers-by on their voting intention.      
Harare South/Beatrice - Large turnout with jovial queues at polling stations.
Wedza -long queues reported in the area. Unofficial road blocks reported on Skipton and Nelson farm. On Fels farm a large pungwe was held all night and the workers did not arrive for work today. An election monitors' vehicle was damaged by ill-wishers this morning near Bolton farm. On Nelson farm a labourer was abducted last night and his whereabouts are still unknown. The police are dealing with it. War vets on Nelson have been preventing workers from voting at the polling station of their choice.
Macheke/Virginia/Enterprise/Bromley - voting going along peacefully.
Long queues been experienced at polling stations
Quiet and voting going on peacefully.
As at 1.00pm today, all other areas had nothing further to report
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<<... press


24 June 2000

Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the Movement for Democratic Change will vote
in his home constituency of Buhera North this morning at the polling station
at the Buhera District Office.

Accompanying Tsvangirai will be his wife, Susan. His mother Lydia (69) and
his father,  Dzingirai (72), a retired bricklayer, will vote at a nearby
school which is closer to the family home.

A few hours before he cast his vote, Tsvangirai reflected, "the die is cast.
This is the day we move forward as a country, or backward into an economic
abyss. Hope is our future.

"We have had liberation for 20 years, but this vote is about real freedom."
He said he felt an "inner excitement, but I am also aware of the huge
challenges and responsibilities, my vote and that of every Zimbawean

Tsvangirai left his home in Harare early to travel to Buhera. He will vote,
visit a few constituencies in the area and then travel back to Harare today.

*  Helicopter flights should land at the soccer field close to the township
and reporters should travel from there.

Keep up the momentum!


MDC Support Centre
8th Floor, Gold Bridge

Guqula Izenzo/Maitiro Chinja

"Zimbabwe's strength lies in racial and ethnic diversity - we will overcome
attempts to divide us" (Morgan Tsvangirai)

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Update for 22 June 2000
NB: The Daily Election Updates are also available on our web site: PRINT
On the eve of the 2000 Election, the Media Monitoring Project (MMPZ) notes that the state-controlled media has not provided fair or balanced coverage of election issues.
Numerous calls by MMPZ, other civic organizations and interested individuals for all- inclusive coverage of the electoral process have gone unheeded. The publicly funded print media has made no effort to inform voters impartially about the issues at stake in the election. The percentage distribution of voices on election stories in the state- controlled print media from June 1 to June 22 show that 77% of the party political voices quoted belonged to ZANU PF, 18% (MDC), 1% (ZUD) 1%(UP), 0,5% (ZAPU) and 0,5% (DP). This is hardly representative of the political parties contesting in the polls. The tone of reporting on the opposition, particularly the MDC, was mostly negative, that is, in the context of political violence, intra-party divisions and all manner of unsubstantiated conspiracies. ZANU PF officials made ludicrous allegations against the opposition in the state-controlled media with impunity. No verification was sought from independent voices and no comment was accessed from the parties involved. An overview of issues that dominated the state controlled media in the pre-poll period includes:
i.  Land; which is ZANU PF's main election campaign platform;
ii. The blame on exogenous forces working hand in hand with the opposition      and whites to undermine the economy and the government; and
iii. Lack of balanced coverage of political violence, with the opposition being blamed
iv. That the opposition particularly the MDC is a front of former Rhodesians and imperial forces
v. Saturation coverage of President Mugabe's campaign rallies even though he is not standing in the election.
MMPZ notes that in the past 23 days leading to the election, the private press continued to fill the gap for the expression of discontent and alternative views from those purveyed by the public media. However, the private press has not been infallible, as it dedicated most of its coverage to the MDC and to a lesser extent, other opposition parties, resulting in a polarized media environment. The Financial Gazette and The Daily News, for example, have provided non-partisan voter education reporting and equitable coverage of political parties in their Election 2000 special supplements.
However, in their editorial columns, the private press was heavily slanted in favour of the MDC.

In yesterday's coverage, ZIMPAPERS continued to report ZANU PF activities favourably and without question, while denigrating the opposition. The Herald quoted President Mugabe as saying that resettlement would be speedily implemented at a campaign rally in Mashonaland Central, while the article, "Nyasha Chikwinya: a true woman of the people", continued the paper's tradition of showering ZANU PF candidates with unstinting praise.
The Herald's front-page article "Bikita villagers condemn MDC's alliance with whites" quoted three villagers (including a chief) who "castigated the MDC for making an alliance with the whites and former colonial masters which seek to destabilize the country". The Herald's other article on the MDC was headlined "MDC's Welshman breached copyright rules".
The role of women in the elections was reported in The Herald under the headline "More women contest parliamentary elections", but only ZANU PF women candidates were featured. The Bulawayo-based Chronicle continued to give negligible coverage of the electoral process. The newspaper reported that preparations for the polls were on course, that the EU observer team was happy with its unimpeded access to all constituencies in Matabeleland, the war veterans' call for peaceful polls, and the statement by the National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe that they wanted their own guides when they vote.

ZIMPAPERS' dailies reported the High Court ruling rejecting the Electoral Supervisory Commission's application challenging the accreditation of international observers by the Election Directorate and the accreditation of those observers by the Registrar- General's Office. The two state-controlled dailies have not analyzed why the ESC has been sidelined in the electoral process, or why it was necessary to amend the Electoral Act at the last minute when it has served adequately in previous elections.

The Daily News quoted four opposition parties criticizing the Registrar-General's Office for violating the Electoral Act by issuing postal ballot forms irregularly. The Financial Gazette reported that the Movement for Democratic Change had filed an urgent application with the High Court seeking to bar the Registrar-General from processing postal vote applications, which do not bear the signature of the applicant and a competent witness. There was no comment from the Registrar-General's Office. The Daily News reported that policeman deployed away from their homes during voting were not happy with the fact that they were going to vote through the postal ballot.
The Financial Gazette reported that local and international observers expressed misgivings about yet another amendment to the Electoral Act this week which effectively barred 20 000 local monitors by decreeing that only one monitor would be allowed per polling station instead of the original six. The observers said the refusal to accredit these 20 000 and hundreds of international observers and the seizure of identity documents by government supporters had seriously undermined the credibility of the elections. In another story confusingly headlined: Top EU observer slams state roadblocks, violence, the EU observer mission head Pierre Schori said:
     We have never encountered so many problems with accreditation      anywhere in the world. And we have never seen so much violence.
     Intimidation and violence have no place in a democratic environment Schori also dismissed Government and the state-owned press claims that the British government had planted Kenyans and Nigerians to pose as EU members. Schori said the EU regularly included African observer missions in its programme to support democracy and governance in Africa. The Financial Gazette article "Tsvangirai demands Mugabe negotiates power sharing" quoted MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai as saying that if his party won a simple majority of the elected seats (61) MDC would demand that President Mugabe not use his presidential authority to appoint 30 extra parliamentary seats, thereby turning defeat into victory. Tsvangirai suggested the seats be allocated proportionally according to the election results.

The Daily News and The Financial Gazette continued to report political violence by war veterans and ZANU PF supporters against members of the opposition. The Daily News article "Opposition parties failing to campaign in occupied farms" quoted the MDC as saying that "opposition candidates in whose constituencies have farms invaded by war veterans and ZANU PF supporters" were having difficulties getting access to those areas for campaign purposes. The Daily News reported that President Mugabe told his supporters to strike back with an axe if the opposition
attacked them.

Campaigns/ Rallies
     Radio 1/3 Radio 2/4 TV
Stories 6 13 5
Zanu PF Voices 6 (66%) 13 (87%) 9 (81%)
Alternative Voices 3 (33%) 0 0
Opposition Voices 0 2 (14%)ZUD/MDC 2 (19%)

Electoral Process/Issues
Radio 1/3 Radio 2/4 TV
Stories 12 9 9
Election Officials 3 6 3
Foreign Voices 4 0 0
Zanu PF Voices 2 0 4
Opposition Voices 0 0 0
Alternative Voices 3 6 0
Police Voice 0 2 2

Political Violence Radio 1/3 Radio 2/4 TV
Stories 0 1 9
Zanu PF voices 0 0 12
Police voices 0 0 3
Alternative 0 0 1
Professional 0 1 1
*Alternative voices include :trade unions, teachers and student bodies etc
professional voices include  ZNCC, Banker and professionals.

ZBC continued to give biased coverage of political campaigns. On Radio
1/3's news
coverage of campaigns and rallies, 66% of the voices belonged to Zanu PF
and none
came from the opposition. On Radio 2/4 87% of the voices belonged to Zanu
against 14% from the opposition, while on TV 19% of the voices were from
opposition's ZUD and MDC parties in which candidates of Harare South said
they were
confident of winning the elections. This TV clip was 55 seconds long
(6pm). Radio 2/4
featured the story on its 6pm and 8pm bulletins.

In the morning's regular police Peace Report programme on Television's AM Zimbabwe   the ZRP abused its access to ZBC's airtime by attacking the MDC and foreign observers.
In a statement, it accused the MDC of embarking on a campaign of violence to discredit the police and the ruling party. The statement appears which also attacked international observers as "glaringly partisan" appears to have been based on two poorly sourced reports of violence and an incident in Hwedza where observers were said to have connived with the MDC to witness a violent incident involving BBC journalists and war veterans, which police said never happened.
The police official said: "It is an open secret that the MDC is employing foreign journalists to try and create the impression that the MDC is being denied the opportunity to hold rallies by the ruling party.
He did not elaborate how these alleged activities would discredit the police.

This was followed up by a news report on TV 1:30pm, 6pm and 8pm. ZBC abandoned its own obligation to impartiality in this report and chose to support the allegations with archival footage of an old CNN clip in which MDC's Tsvangirai received donations from white farmers.  The link between this clip and the political violence was unclear.
Election result predictions were sought from people who predicted a Zanu PF win and there was no attempt to balance this opinion with opposing predictions
(Radio 1/3 6pm & 8pm and TV 8pm).

Coverage of the election process and issues concentrated on assurances from election agency officials - excluding the Electoral Supervisory Commission - that adequate preparations had been made with only one helpful item that the blind and those who could not write would be assisted by a polling officer. (TV, Radio 6pm and 8pm).

Incidents of  political violence were blamed on the opposition. For example, the Matabeleland war veterans' office was allegedly burnt down by MDC supporters (TV 6pm and 8pm), and houses belonging to war vets and ZANU PF supporters were attacked by MDC supporters (TV 8pm). The reporter said no comment was available from the MDC. Notably, none of the media in Zimbabwe shed any light on international media reports that another MDC supporter had been dragged from his rural home in Gokwe and beaten to death. He is said to have died on Wednesday morning.

Current Affairs
In welcome relief from the heavily biased ZTV news bulletins, the current affairs programme, Election 2000, provided the voting public with compelling viewing when Claude Mararike bravely hosted representatives from six political parties. What ensued was a lively debate on important election issues that provided a clear example of the rich diversity of political opinion that does exist in Zimbabwe given the chance.
Mararike should be congratulated for managing a difficult but lively discussion.

Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Friday 23 June 2000

Coverage of campaigns and rallies on television and radio was devoted
entirely to the
ruling party on all ZBC news bulletins monitored, Radio (6 am, 7 am, 8 am,
1 pm, 6
pm & 8 pm and TV 7 am, 1:30 pm, 6 pm, 8 pm & 11 pm., except for one story
on the
TV's 7am bulletin which covered an MDC candidate.   All of TV's 11pm news
were about Zanu PF.   Seven out of the 15 political stories on TV
discredited the MDC.

Electoral issues were given wide coverage on Radio. On Radio 2/4 there
were 20
stories on the electoral process against nine on political campaigns. On
Radios 1/3
there were 28 electoral stories and 16 campaign stories. There was a wide
variety of
sources on electoral process news stories. However, the story reported on
all stations;
that the MDC had lost a court application to bar postal votes only sought
from the Registrar General's office. There was no comment sought from the
initially ignored MDC's court application.
On TV, political campaign reports nearly matched electoral issues (15
against 16).

In the run-up to the election ZBC had not aired any political party's TV
adverts but
broke this precedent yesterday when it aired Zanu PF party's election
advert just
before and during the main news bulletin.

On the eve of the elections, Zanu PF propaganda masqueraded as news on
8pm TV bulletin. Reports discrediting the MDC were given prominence over
issues.   Two notable items on the bulletin existed only for their efforts
to discredit the
MDC.   One was an opinion piece extracted from a South African newspaper
speculating about MDC's South African connections, while the other quoted
PF official.   In this report, a legitimate campaign strategy in which MDC
used an
aeroplane to drop leaflets, was blown out of proportion in a statement
from Zanu PF
campaign coordinator Jonathan Moyo. He equated the measure with those
by the Rhodesians who had no respect for Africans. He added that he hoped
MDC's antics had not escaped the attention of observers. Radio's morning
reported that an unidentified aeroplane flew over Plumtree dumping heaps
of MDC
campaigning materials.

In the report on the opinion piece in the South African Star newspaper
alleging that
Zimbabwe would be run from South Africa if the MDC were to win the
elections, ZBC
newsreaders claimed the report substantiated allegations that MDC was
controlled by South Africans.
Newsreader: "Reports coming in from South Africa are increasingly
substantiating claims that the opposition MDC is being controlled by
forces in
South Africa."
Only one fact was established in this propaganda piece; that a South
African journalist
was helping the MDC with its campaign strategy. Vague reference was also
made to
an unnamed opposition party and rich South African business people who it
of funding the MDC. The rest of the report speculated about the reasons
for South
Africa's interest in Zimbabwe saying it was to ensure that the land
redistribution did
not take place.
The reporter's claim that all concerned parties "could not be reached" for
comment was
just not good enough. The report contradicted previous reports on ZBC
which have
alleged an Anglo-American conspiracy to topple Zanu PF and install a
puppet MDC
government. ZBC did not examine these contradictions.

A ZBC (TV6pm and 8pm, radio 6pm & 8pm) story on foreign funding of
political parties
gave a variety of opinions from civic society, all of whom advocated
restrictions on
foreign funding. The report however, only quoted Zanu PF exonerating
itself by saying
that it's funds for the elections were sourced locally.

Political Violence
TV reported one incident of political violence, 6pm where several huts
were burnt in
Wedza. MDC was blamed but no comment was sought from them.

Current Affairs
ZRP continued its previous day's bias against the opposition in its
regular TV morning
slot by choosing to highlight only MDC inspired acts of political
violence.. The police
officer reported an incident in which an MDC candidate allegedly saw a
group of war
veterans at a beerhall, went to his home, got a shot gun and shot at them
without any
provocation. He said no-one was injured.
He said the police would seize firearms "if used carelessly", and that
"war veterans are
not wild or dangerous so as to be shot on sight," he said.
For the first time in weeks, Radio 2 provided a voter education programme.
programme featured Register-General Mudede, Election Directorate chairman,
and the police commissioner Chihuri. The programme talked about the
required to vote (a metal ID, a valid driver's licence or a passport), and
allayed fears
about the secrecy of the ballot.
In its of CNN's 6a.m. news bulletin, ZBC edited out an item
Zimbabwe. The story, quoting the opposition MDC prediction that they would
win the
election, appeared on the headlines but not in the body of the bulletin.

ZIMPAPERS' dailies, The Chronicle and The Herald, quoting sources from the
Election Directorate and the Registrar-General, reported that preparations
conducting the parliamentary elections were now complete. However, the
Zimbabwe Independent reported that there was confusion at the
of polling agents and officers in Harare, raising questions about whether
electoral preparations would be finished in time for polling. The same
said at least 600 local observers were still awaiting accreditation by
evening. The Chronicle reported that the EU observer team had expressed
satisfaction with its unimpeded access to all constituencies.
The private press continued to report widespread incidences of politically
motivated violence.
The Daily News reported that the MDC candidate for Hwedza had fled the
country after receiving threats to his life.
The Zimbabwe Independent carried a gruesome front-page picture of an MDC
supporter who had allegedly been beaten and burnt by ZANU PF supporters.
The picture accompanied the story, ZANU PF thugs ravage Mataga, which
reported that two brothers, members of the opposition MDC, had been
abducted by 18 ZANU PF supporters and tortured, resulting in the death of
one of them. The man who died had signed the nomination papers of the MDC
candidate for the area. The story reported that despite numerous
parades the police had not moved to arrest the culprits but seemed to be
working in collaboration with the perpetrators of the violence. The
survivor said:
"I thought I had the right to support any party of my choice, but now I
these politics are dirty."
This story reflects other reports of the violence and intimidation that
to plague the rural areas. Such stories are not being reported by the
owned media, but raise serious concerns as to the possibility of free and
elections under this reign of terror.
The Dispatch also reported that the wife of journalist Phineas Mukwazo of
Chronicle and Sunday News was abducted and tortured by war veterans who
wanted her to release the whereabouts of her husband. This story also
appeared in The Zimbabwe Mirror as a suffix to a story about violence
between ruling party and MDC supporters in Bulawayo's Nkulumane suburb.
Trouble started on Saturday when MDC youths went on the rampage and
torched the former freedom fighters' offices in the suburb after they
refused to
board transport hired by the ruling party to take residents to President
Mugabe's rally at White City Stadium, the paper reported.
The Dispatch reported that an independent candidate for Cowdry Park in
Bulawayo had been harassed by war veterans who had also embarked on a
door-to-door campaign to "sniff out" opposition supporters in the area.
harassment of the electorate was reported in Binga.
The Zimbabwe Mirror continued to provide fair coverage of various parties'
election candidates in the various constituencies around the country. It
carried articles assessing the current political situation and what might
happen after the election. Its article, Constitutional crisis if MDC wins
analyzed the constitutional problems the country was likely to face should
MDC win the majority of the parliamentary seats, which it considered
Unlike the private press the Zimpapers stable continued to saturate its
with blanket coverage to the ZANU PF campaign, particularly President
Mugabe's rally statements at the expense of all other parties. Where other
parties were covered it was negative and unbalanced. For example, "Suspect
addresses MDC rally in Beitbridge" was the only story covering the MDC
campaign. The other story Opposition parties going flat out to ensure
elections are not declared free and fair, was unbalanced and biased
the opposition. The Herald said:
          "The local and international anti-Zimbabwe government network
        has never worked harder than they have been doing for this
        weekend's parliamentary elections as they perceive a chance of
        ousting the liberation movement from power through black stooges
        and fronts."
This reflected the headline of the paper's lead story on its front page
Mugae's rally at Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo: "Tsvangirai a stooge of the
UK: President".
Zimpapers also continued to blame all political violence on the MDC. In
stories MDC youths provoke violence in Hwedza: police and Zanu PF
supporters severely assaulted. Both blamed MDC supporters for political
violence. The state controlled papers did not carry any reports in the
owned papers reflecting the involvement of ZANU PF in the violence.
The Zimbabwe Independent in its front-page editorial declared support for
MDC saying to vote for the party would be to vote for the future, while
for ZANU PF would be a vote for doom. The Herald editorial on the other
re-affirmed its support for ZANU PF.
In-fighting within ZANU PF Masvingo province was reported in The
Independent, with allegations by the Masvingo governor that Minister
portfolio Eddison Zvobgo was planning to form a political party. The paper
reported that ZANU PF was frantically trying to persuade independent
candidates, particularly in Harare, to step down from the poll.
In terms of voter education, The Herald carried a story informing voters
not to
shake hands with those that have not voted as the ink would rub off making
them ineligible. This was important information, but the story was
relegated to
page 6. The article quoted ZANU PF secretary for administration saying:
          . some schools, in connivance with organizations bent on
        disrupting the parliamentary elections, are believed to have issued
        the special (indelible) ink to pupils .
There was no verification of these allegations.
The Daily News reported that the MDC had applied to seek a High Court
restraining the Registrar-General from accepting postal votes.
On the election observers, The Daily News reported that only 302 out of
international election observers had been accredited.

For more information about the Project, previous issues of the Weekly and
Updates, please visit our website at or contact
Project Coordinator, MMPZ, 221 Fife Avenue, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 733486,
734207, E-mail:
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Staying on

                                 Peter Godwin 's 1997 best-selling
                                          book told the story of a white boy
                                          growing up in rural Rhodesia. Now,
                                          on the eve of Zimbabwe's
                                          elections, he has returned to meet
                                          the handful of defiant white families
                                          who remain in his home town
                                          Zimbabwe: special report
                                          Education Unlimited

                                          Friday June 23, 2000

                                          Heaven is empty and the Frog and Fern is
                                          closed. The war vets are on the warpath
                                          and Chimanimani's lodges are desolate. It
                                          is election time in Zimbabwe and I have
                                          come home. Although it's been years
                                          since I lived here, Chimanimani (which
                                          used to be called Melsetter, after the
                                          Orkney town) remains stuck in my mind
                                          as that central reference point from which
                                          all other places radiate. It lies in an
                                          isolated valley along the eastern border
                                          with Mozambique, nestled in the crook of
                                          a winding range of glittering granite
                                          mountains from which the village now
                                          takes its name. In recent times it has
                                          become even more remote; cyclone Eline
                                          swept away its bridges earlier this year,
                                          leaving it cut off by road for more than a
                                          month. As my car strains up the hillside
                                          from the Biriwiri valley, the road is reduced
                                          to one lane, the other has been washed
                                          down into the valley below.

                                          The shadows of war are long here. In
                                          1964, on this road etched into the
                                          cliff-side, the first attack of the
                                          Chimurenga, the liberation war, was
                                          carried out by a band of guerrillas called
                                          the Crocodile Gang. The victim was our
                                          next-door neighbour, Piet Oberholzer. My
                                          mother was the attending doctor. By
                                          independence in 1980, one of every four
                                          white farmers had been killed by
                                          guerrillas. And now, 20 years later,
                                          Chimanimani is under siege once more by
                                          remnants of those same guerrillas. But
                                          the power struggle has changed
                                          dramatically since then. Now Robert
                                          Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party is fighting
                                          for its political life against an upsurgent
                                          opposition, the Movement for Democratic
                                          Change (MDC), a party that didn't even
                                          exist a year ago.

                                          I wander over to the Msasa cafe where I
                                          find its owner, John Barlow, in the back
                                          carving an African drum from a log of blue
                                          mahogany. "This was supposed to be the
                                          best year of my life," says Barlow sadly,
                                          as we sit in his newly renovated, empty,
                                          cafe, sipping fresh local coffee by the fire
                                          and discussing evacuation routes, the
                                          subject du jour around many Zimbabwean
                                          dinner tables this week.

                                          Most white Zimbabweans, and indeed
                                          many middle-class black people, have
                                          what they call "gap bags" packed and
                                          ready, in case the election results trigger
                                          a spasm of violence. My sister and her
                                          friends have a complicated plan that
                                          involves various rendezvous along the
                                          route from Harare, then crossing the
                                          Zambezi into Zambia. (The Zanu-PF
                                          candidate in my sister's garden suburb of
                                          northern Harare is Comrade Stalin Mau
                                          Mau - a deliberately unsettling nom de
                                          guerre that jumps out at you from posters
                                          on every lamppost there.) They have food
                                          supplies and visas and have registered
                                          their cars with the police so they can drive
                                          across the border. Some here have acted
                                          pre-emptively, going "on holiday" for the
                                          next couple of weeks, deaf to the
                                          entreaties of the opposition MDC that
                                          everyone with a vote should stay and use

                                          President Mugabe appears convinced that
                                          his present travails are all the fault of the
                                          whites, and his racial rhetoric has become
                                          white hot. Never mind that there are only
                                          70,000 whites left here (in a population of
                                          over 12m) many of whom have been in
                                          deep political hibernation. Or that only four
                                          of the MDC's 120 candidates are white.
                                          The veterans' leader Chenjerai "Hitler"
                                          Hunzvi has said - in fact he keeps saying
                                          it - that if Zanu-PF loses the election, he
                                          and his men will go back to war. Add
                                          these two ingredients together: a threat of
                                          war and conveniently colour-coded
                                          culprits, and the evacuation plans don't
                                          seem quite so nutty.

                                          Evacuating from Chimanimani however, is
                                          particularly tricky. With its back to the
                                          soaring mountains, there are only two
                                          roads in, and one of them has been
                                          blocked by cyclone Eline. If the other one
                                          is controlled by war vets, how to get out?
                                          The whites here have already evacuated
                                          once, last month, when several truckloads
                                          of vets became incensed at a rumour that
                                          Hunzvi's house in Harare had been
                                          torched (it was just another of a spate of
                                          wild rumours) and decided to take out
                                          their ire on the local whites. There aren't
                                          very many of them left, only about 20
                                          families. Warned first by their domestic
                                          workers and black colleagues, and then
                                          by the local police chief (who has since
                                          been demoted and transferred for his
                                          troubles), the whites formed a convoy and
                                          drove up to Skyline junction, and out of
                                          the valley, to lie low till it cooled down.

                                          John Barlow was about the only white to
                                          stay that time, but even he is taking
                                          evacuation seriously now. He has decided
                                          that if it comes down to it, the only way
                                          out for him might be to grab his kids and
                                          do a Sound of Music - climb up over the
                                          mountains and into Mozambique. The very
                                          idea of going to Mozambique for
                                          sanctuary strikes me as absurd: it is
                                          officially one of the poorest countries in
                                          the world after being ravaged by 30 years
                                          of civil war.

                                          Having stripped and beaten the black
                                          school teachers in front of their pupils,
                                          and threatened the black managers at
                                          some of the saw mills, the vets in
                                          Chimanimani are particularly interested in
                                          one white man, Roy Bennet, the owner of
                                          Charleswood. This 7,000-acre farm is
                                          arguably the prettiest farm in the country,
                                          tucked up against the national park. It is
                                          latticed with irrigation canals, which feed
                                          the red earth and the neat rows of coffee
                                          bushes that sprout from it. The local Ndau
                                          people call Bennet, Pachedu . It means
                                          "one of us". A pitch-perfect Shona
                                          speaker, he was approached by a
                                          delegation of local councillors and kraal
                                          (village) heads who were sick of absentee
                                          MPs and stagnant development, and
                                          asked to stand as their candidate. After
                                          flirting with Zanu-PF, he's now standing for
                                          the MDC, a white man standing in a rural
                                          constituency where over 99.9% of the
                                          electorate is black. He shows me a file fat
                                          with letters from black supporters. Some
                                          address him as Father Chimanimani,
                                          others thank him for helping to repair
                                          bridges after the cyclone.

                                          Bennet's rival, the Zanu-PF candidate, is
                                          Munacho Mutezo, an engineering
                                          graduate from Birmingham and Glasgow
                                          universities. His father was detained by
                                          the old Rhodesian authorities, Bennet
                                          tells me, for being involved with the
                                          Crocodile Gang. Now the battle lines are
                                          drawn once more. But this time the
                                          homeboy is a white man who spends
                                          most of his time here. Mutezo on the
                                          other hand, is based five hours away in

                                          Judging by his reception from the locals,
                                          Bennet is probably a shoo-in - if he can
                                          just stay alive until the polls open
                                          tomorrow. He has had a steady stream of
                                          death threats. His farm is guarded by
                                          dozens of youths armed with clubs and
                                          iron bars, and he has informers in the
                                          village and the black township who warn
                                          him of approaching danger.

                                          Bennet has only just moved back on to
                                          his farm after war vets invaded it. They
                                          seized his wife, Heather, who was
                                          pregnant at the time, put a machete to her
                                          throat and made her chant Zanu-PF
                                          slogans. They beat up several of the
                                          workers and then they occupied the
                                          farmhouse and trashed it over several
                                          weeks, stealing many of its contents and
                                          smearing shit on the walls. They cut the
                                          paws off the lion skin rug, to use them for
                                          muti - a type of traditional medicine.
                                          Heather miscarried. But Bennet
                                          negotiated a return and the vets eventually
                                          left, feeling vulnerable to a hostile
                                          workforce that had had a gut-full of being

                                          "These white farmers who appease - I've
                                          got no time for them. Appeasement has
                                          never worked, just look at history," says
                                          Bennet, a great bear of a man, who
                                          played polo-cross for the national side and
                                          often goes barefoot in public. "What's so
                                          heartening about these elections is that
                                          there's a good percentage of Zimbabwean
                                          whites who've said, 'sod it, let's get
                                          involved,' and we've suffered together with
                                          the blacks, and feared together with them.
                                          We've made a stand and shown that we're
                                          prepared to sacrifice ourselves for this
                                          country. And isn't that what a patriot is,
                                          after all? It's the first time I've felt really

                                          As we sit talking under the tall thatch by
                                          the fire, the radio crackles into life with a
                                          message of trouble - a truck of war vets
                                          has been spotted coming this way. All
                                          Roy's hunting rifles are in police custody,
                                          but one of his mechanics peels down a
                                          horse blanket on the sofa to reveal a
                                          shotgun and a bandolier of cartridges.

                                          "Our guys," as Bennet calls his MDC
                                          guards, are gathering in strategic points to
                                          repulse the attack. "I'm sick of running
                                          now," he says. "If they're gonna come,
                                          they must come and let's get this over

                                          But tonight is not to be the night and I
                                          eventually fall asleep to the gurgling of the
                                          river and the call of the nightjars. I wake
                                          up once to the sound of murmuring
                                          outside the window and peep out to see
                                          the MDC guards huddled round a fire
                                          there, with blankets draped over their
                                          shoulders, hands clasped around enamel
                                          mugs of coffee. These are brave men,
                                          many are kids still, who are taking on the
                                          full wrath of the state for their vision of
                                          better Zimbabwe, and they are in just as
                                          much danger as Bennet.

                                          Later, I accompany Bennet to the police
                                          station where he has been summoned for
                                          a meeting with the vets. They tell him that
                                          they intend to reoccupy his farm, but they
                                          are prepared to do it peacefully,
                                          cooperatively. "That's what you said last
                                          time," spits Bennet, raising his voice and
                                          reeling off a litany of the crimes they
                                          committed when they first visited
                                          Charleswood. The room is thick with
                                          tension and several of the vets look as
                                          though they would shoot him this second,
                                          if they were armed.

                                          We discover en route from Bennet's
                                          election agent, James Mukwaya, that the
                                          rally Bennet is supposed to address this
                                          morning in the Ngorima communal lands
                                          has been cancelled. Gangs from Zanu-PF
                                          have been there overnight, moving from
                                          house to house, warning people that if
                                          they attend they will be killed. But Bennet
                                          is not down hearted. They're all on our
                                          side anyway, he says, so why risk their
                                          lives with public rallies, we know how
                                          they'll vote when the time comes.

                                          Along the foothills from Charleswood, the
                                          Steyns aren't quite so optimistic about the
                                          future. They are having a bad week and to
                                          make it worse, a bush fire has just
                                          crossed the mountain from Mozambique
                                          and is threatening to burn down their farm.
                                          In the old farmhouse with its Cape
                                          Constantia gables, Louis Steyn seems
                                          lost in a kind of numbed reverie. He sits in
                                          his plum-coloured draylon chair, sucking
                                          heavily on his pipe, while Daleen, his wife,
                                          keeps up a cheerful chatter.

                                          Louis Steyn's grandfather came here in
                                          1893, leading the Steyn trek up from the
                                          Orange Free State in South Africa. There
                                          have been Steyns farming these lush
                                          hillsides ever since, but it looks like Louis
                                          could be the last. His farm has been
                                          designated by the government for
                                          compulsory takeover, though he vows:
                                          "We'll fight it to the bloody end." A
                                          delegation of ministry envoys arrived by
                                          car last week, having driven all the way
                                          from Harare to deliver the designation
                                          letter by hand.

                                          "I offered them a sandwich and a cup of
                                          tea," says Daleen, "but they were in a
                                          hurry because they had lots more
                                          designation orders to deliver to white

                                          The Steyns have also been "occupied" by
                                          war veterans for some months now. When
                                          the vets first arrived, Daleen told them:
                                          "We worship the same God you and I,
                                          let's pray together to him for justice." And
                                          so they did, the vets and the Steyns, they
                                          got down on their knees on the lawn
                                          outside the farmhouse and prayed
                                          together, and then the vets went off and
                                          pegged their land.

                                          Between occupation and designation it
                                          does look pretty bleak for the Steyns. Not
                                          that they haven't been through tough
                                          times before. For nearly a decade during
                                          the war they had to commute to the farm
                                          from the village because it was too
                                          dangerous to stay overnight.

                                          "Then we got ambushed in our car,"
                                          remembers Daleen. "They shot at us and
                                          fired at us with a rocket launcher. There
                                          was so much smoke it was dark and we
                                          saw tracer bullets flying all over the place,
                                          it was like a starry night." The car took 11
                                          hits, but Louis managed to coax it to the
                                          next bend in the road. "I drove out of there
                                          on the rims of the tyres spinning on the
                                          road," adds Louis.

                                          Their Rhodesian ridgeback canters after
                                          my car as the Steyn's wave goodbye,
                                          having asked me to give their apologies to
                                          Lord and Lady Plunket who are holding a
                                          tea party this afternoon. The Plunkets own
                                          a modest timber est ate and have been
                                          migratory residents here ever since I can
                                          remember. Lady Plunket has laid on quite
                                          a spread - the table is laden with plates of
                                          buttered gingerbread and delicate
                                          triangles of crustless sandwiches. Pretty
                                          much the whole white community is here.
                                          They fit comfortably on to the Plunket's
                                          veranda. Though it has brought much
                                          oppro brium down upon them, most of the
                                          whites here support Roy Bennet's stand.
                                          "He's my hero," says Lady Plunket,
                                          clasping her hands to her heart.

                                          As the first fingers of the night mist creep
                                          down the mountain gorges, and
                                          pine-scented smoke from the hearth fire
                                          fills the air, we fall inevitably to discussing
                                          the election; the chances of a fair ballot,
                                          or of the government accepting a defeat;
                                          the possibility of a coup. There is talk too
                                          of an Idi Amin option where, just as the
                                          Ugandan dictator expelled all Asians, a
                                          furious Mugabe decides to purge the
                                          country of whites and gorge on their
                                          property. From the look and the sound of
                                          him these days, this is what he'd most
                                          like to do.

                                          I leave early the next morning, after a tour
                                          of the Plunket's gardens, viewing their
                                          lichen-blotched Shona soapstone
                                          sculptures. The sun is just breaking
                                          through the granite ramparts of the
                                          mountain, dissolving the mist as I drive up
                                          and out of the valley to Skyline junction.
                                          But there is no skyline, just fat grey
                                          clouds sitting heavily on the hill, and rain.
                                          Work gangs in olive-green plastic ponchos
                                          dig on in the downpour, trying to keep the
                                          road open. As I drop down the other side,
                                          the rain stops and the clouds lift and the
                                          baobabs begin. I come up behind a
                                          slow-moving old Land Rover filled with
                                          young black men singing exuberantly.
                                          They wave me the open-palmed sign of
                                          the MDC and throw some fliers up into the
                                          air. For a brief moment one sticks to my
                                          windscreen and I see the grinning visage
                                          of Roy Bennet and the headline "Chinja
                                          Maitiro - Change your ways. Vote MDC",
                                          and then it blows off into the bush.

                                       - Peter Godwin is the author of Mukiwa -
                                          A White Boy in Africa, published by

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