"The Zimbabwe Situation" news page

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This morning, information was broadcast over one of the radio networks that an MDC Co-ordinator had received "reliable" information that an assasination squad had been deployed from Bindura with a mission to take out three white opposition activists in the Province.  Targets names were not known.  This information spread very quickly over the other radio networks and caused considerable panic.  Our advice was that profiled individuals should take precautions, and that the rest of the community should be alert and keep their observation systems active.
We have subsequently attempted to get further down to the source of the information.  At this stage there is no hard information but we cannot rule out the possibility, so we have informed the police at various levels and have asked all areas to remain alert.
Harare South/Beatrice - Kereeboom was visited by a few war vets who pegged more of the farm.  A number of war vets have been coming and going on Plumstead, and want to set up shop between the two homesteads and take over a shed that the farmer has recently built. On Bharabhara there is more pegging. The general feeling is that the war vets are not going to let up.
Wedza - There has been a major increase in the theft of maize. 5 were arrested on Lifton Farm. War vet Chirinda approached the FA Chairman and advised hi m that the whole of Lynton Farm would be taken over.  On Rupaka gun shots were heard last night, and this morning a man was found sleeping in a blue mazda. He claimed to know nothing at all. There was evidence from the tyre tracks of his vehicle that he had been turning around and it was obvious that he had had too much to drink. A beast that had been shot was later discovered. A butcher's knife was found in the blue mazda, and the man's overalls were covered in blood, so he was arrested. On Lillifontein a shot was heard last night but nothing has been found. On Markwe occupiers returned last night and called a meeting with the youths.  War vet Chigwadere has been telling everyone in the area that any farmer with more than one farm can only plough one farm because war vets will be claiming the rest of them. He claims not to be worried about the Government's agenda because this is what the war vets in Wedza will be doing.
Macheke/Virginia - On Timolene the war vets demanded the that the labour leave the farm and the farmer removes his equipment because they were now taking over the farm and need everyone else off the farm as soon as possible. The Police are investigating.
Featherstone - On Nyamazun there was an attempted extortion of two beasts by a small scale farmer from Hamshire for celebrations. The farmer refused to give away the beasts.
Enterprise and Bromley/Ruwa - 6 war vets went on to RSB Farm and highjacked the taskforce vehicle with the driver demanding to see the taskforce man because he is a sell out. They claimed to be from Chitungwisa.
Chinhoyi A break-in into a borehole engine house on Slaughter Farm on Friday night was reported.  25 litres of diesel, 5 litres of engine oil,  two B135 "v" belts and two spanners were stolen.
Raffingora - Four resident war vets on Bassett Farm are becoming very volatile as they have no food and no one is giving them anything.  There has been work stoppage on Cannon farm.The tension in the Central Mashonaland area this morning has overflowed into Mashonaland West North.  A report has been received of a Zanu PF youth walking around looking for MDC supporters; he has been onto Mvurachena, Glen Rosa, Hovere, Erewhon and Marasha Farms.  The police are reacting.
Norton - Mrs Rusike went into the workshop on Parklands to sharpen her axe and was told to ask permission before doing this. She replied that she didn't need permission as this was now her farm.
There has been a build-up of numbers on another property.
Selous/Gadzima - There is a lot of activity in this area, including pegging, the selling of plots, demands, and a lot of movement on and off properties.
Chegutu - On Denore Farm war vets were demanding to move into the house with the owner and said they would leave the owner with 30 acres.
Suri Suri - 50-60 people reoccupied San Fernando Farm.
Kadoma - There is still an excess of 300 on Milverton causing problems with the cattle.
Generally in the province, Police appear disinterested in any issues involving war vets.
Masvingo East and Central - The owner of Dromore reports that $20 000 worth of wire has been stolen, and droppers and standards are also missing.
Chiredzi - The manager of Klipdrift Ranch reports that 8 head of cattle have been stolen, and a report has been filed with the Police. In addition, two loads of firewood have been taken off the property. Numbers have increased from 12 to approximately 40 on Malilangwe Ranch. They are peaceful.
Mwenezi - On Moria and Wentzelhof Ranches tree cutting and pegging is taking place.
Save Conservancy - An update is expected from this area tomorrow.
Gutu/Chatsworth - Quiet.
Inyathi - Approximately 300 cattle were moved onto Goodwood Block over the weekend. On Friday the farm foreman was abducted by war vets and severely assaulted. His right leg was broken in two places  and he may lose his eye. The Police response saved his life.  Support Unit arrested some of the group at the polling station on Saturday, but two of the assailants are still at large. On Redlands Farm numbers increased by 20 this morning. The group is militant, saying it needs the farm now that President Mugabe has won.
Gwaai - One box of polling papers at Lupane have not been accounted for. 
Nyamandhlovu - Serious poaching has been reported, and the Police are investigating.
Gwanda - There has been a buildup of numbers onto Oakley Block. The resident occupiers were very militant over the election weekend. On River Block a group of about 60 moved onto the farm, very militant and threatening, and demanded the farmer vacates the property. He has ignored this.
War vets appear to be moving back and pegging in the Odzi and Rusape area.
Chipinge - The Zanu PF offices telephoned the Farmers' Association Chairman to say that people would be moving onto farms. This has not happened.
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The Election Results

So there you have it – a disappointing result for the MDC – 58 seats, one for Zanu Ndonga and 61 for Zanu PF. The exit poll said that we were headed for 89 seats for the opposition, 1 for Zanu Ndonga and 1 for ZUD with 31 going to Zanu PF. The people doing the exit poll explained the variance from the exit poll result as being due to intimidation and fear of retribution – a factor they rated at 12 per cent of the total poll but 25 to 30 per cent in rural constituencies.

We took just over 50 per cent of the total poll, 77 per cent in urban areas and 40 per cent in the rural areas. The urban/rural split was 70:30 – we had expected 60:40 and are still digesting this number. There were several constituencies that polled surprising numbers and must be looked at – spoilt papers and voters turned away were over 20 per cent and there were other irregularities. A real rogue’s gallery has been elected on the Zanu PF side – 3 convicted felons and a dozen or so people that violated the electoral laws and can be removed from their seats at our leisure.

The government now faces a powerful opposition with a blocking third of the votes. Its ranks include some of our very best minds and hearts and they will give the government benches a real run for their money. Gone are the days of a rubber stamp parliament and a free hand for the President and as the MDC wins its cases against the Zanu PF members of Parliament they will have to run against the MDC under very different circumstances in bi-elections. Its all good news for democracy in Africa and the dignity of our people will not be forgotten for a long time to come.

Mugabe is now a lame duck President – his party has lost its stars and gained a few real reprobates. He has no visible successor to groom and must now try to undo what he has done to win the election. If he fails, the economy is going to sink him sooner rather than later as this is now in melt down mode and no let up in sight. Morgan has said that he will not join Parliament and now waits for the presidential election – like a raptor that watches a sick animal collapse before striking. We will also now move to capture the urban town councils throughout the country and will work at local government level.

Today Mugabe has refused to talk to the press and says we have to wait for an address to the nation. We wait with bated breath but no great expectations. Our national executive meets tomorrow and perhaps things will be a bit clearer then – I thought you might like the above news as soon as possible – me, I just want to get to bed early to make up for some sleep.

Eddie Cross

27th June 2000


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Apparently Chip_a has been taken over by some big wig in ZANUPF and they
had ransacked I_n and K_y's house. She rounded up the Police, got
to-gether a protection unit and went down to the farm. Within a couple of
hours she had got back about 90% of what was theirs that had been swiped!
They are apparently living in Harare and I_n was standing for the MDC, as
far as I can gather.  On today's news Mugabe is now asking for everyone to
help get the economy back to where it was - another interesting situation,
as it will only be the whites that will do it, to-gether with all his
enemies. We watch with interest.
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From the MDC, 22 June


The Movement for Democratic Change ended its election week with increasing violence, dozens of candidates moving from house to house at night in fear of their lives, and extensive night-time canvassing in no-go areas. There was an increased process of attacks:  Hwedza, the Honde valley, Marondera and Gokwe experienced particularly severe attacks that led to the hospitalisation of candidates and supporters. A process began too of the detention of candidates or polling agents without charge in areas including Gokwe and Zengeza.

While violence and intimidation has been a focus of the election process and has increased as the polling day has drawn closer, an area that has received less attention but which is potentially more ominous is a process of
progressive disenfranchisement. This government has stopped at nothing to remove the right to vote from its
citizenry whether through beatings, intimidation, terrorisation or fiddling with electoral rules and processes.

*    It is a day and a half before people go to the polls - but government has yet to inform them or us of where polling stations are. In remote villages people may have to walk a day or more to get to a voting station - if they knew where the voting station was, no-one has yet informed them.  This could mean that many villagers who want to vote will not be able to vote for the simple fact of not having being informed of where polling stations are.

*    At noon the Harare High Court will hear our application to declare the present postal votes invalid. Earlier this week we informed the media that polling agents for the MDC had observed that the application forms for postal votes being processed at the offices of the Registrar General in Harare had not been signed by the applicants.   Some are signed by a witness but do not bear the signature of an applicant. The postal vote applications MDC polling agents have been observing since Friday last week have purportedly originated from Zimbabwe military personnel in the Democratic Republic of Congo and diplomats serving abroad. In terms of the Electoral Act, the applicant must sign the application form in the presence of a "competent" witness and the witness must state his qualifications.

*    There have been two changes to the Electoral Act in the fortnight leading up to the election. The first was Section 161A which made it necessary for election observers, monitors, polling agents and journalists to be accredited. We have already seen the refusal to accredit a whole range of observers, the reason given being the remarkable statement  that some of these organisations had links to the European Union which in turn Britian
was a member of - and yet the European Union as an entity has had its observers accredited. If this government had intended having a free and fair election, it would have seen no need to expel observers ranging from religious groupings to political institutes to even a Southern African Development Community forum.  This puts great pressure on the few accredited observers to act with great bravery in going to areas of high intimidation, and to spend very long hours watching every aspect of the voting process from the time a voter arrives at a station, to the time ballot boxes are sealed and leave the station to whereever counting venues may be. We have also not been informed of when and where counting will take place, or how long that process is expected to take.

*    The second change to the Electoral Act came last week. In terms of the Act the president was supposed to appoint 10 chiefs who form part of the 30 people he is entitled to appoint. However, last week the legislation was
amended to allow him to appoint those 10 chiefs only on June 29. The MDC has already given the media examples of how chiefs have been told that they will be one of the 30 - if they ensure people in their constituency do not vote MDC. Headmen were called in two weeks ago and told they would lose their title - and the income it carries, their land and cattle and be hunted down if their areas voted MDC. At the weekend a process began of headmen going house to house in many rural areas telling people to vote ZanuPF.

* Neither we, nor the public have been advised of the hours that voting stations will be open from.  This impacts on the work of our polling agents and access to the poll by voters.

*     No guidelines have been given as to when campaigning should stop, as the present situation stands it can continue. There have been no guidelines about the closure of liquor outlets during voting ... guidance about voting has not been a feature of this electoral process, obstruction has.

* We have trained 9 000 polling agents. However, because of last minute changes to the Electoral Act on June 7 demanding accreditation, and slowness on the part of government to begin this - not one polling agent has yet been accredited. (We refer you to clauses 4 (a i,ii & iii of Section 161A of 2000)  Polling agents are the individuals within polling stations that will monitor the voting process.  We have written to the Registrar General saying because of this failure to comply with the letter of the Electoral Act we will deem our polling agents to have been accredited.

* We have also noted that initially all parties were to be allowed 3 polling agents - one of whom was to be a reserve. The change to the law now means only one polling agent is allowed into the station. This individual will have to remain awake over four days and nights monitoring the process - voting, the storage and transportation of ballot boxes and counting. It is an impossible situation.

* In terms of the lists of polling agents with addresses that in terms of the Electoral Act had to be published in newspapers, the MDC fully and openly complied. However, ZanuPF candidates contravened the requirements of
the Act by failing to give their personal addresses and instead only noted their constituencies.

* Since June 5 we have been reporting attacks on individuals and the destruction of their identity documents and disks.  Our polling agents have been attacked and their materials removed.

* During the process earlier this month where citizens where allowed to check voters rolls, we had thousands of complaints of people  who had been registered not being on voters rolls. In Bulawayo alone - as we publicised at the time around 10 000 young people were off the rolls.

We are going into these elections with clean hands.  We have respected the law. And we have kept a dignified spirit  despite increasing attacks. New economic data released yesterday showed that the World Economic Forum said that Zimbabwe has declined economically by 25% in the last year and that it has plummetted in the Africa competitiveness ratings to one of the bottom three countries in Africa.  The World Health Organisation today noted that Zimbabwe is now ranked last in terms of health delivery among the world's poorest nations.  How could such a situation occur, in a country that used to be one of the success stories in Africa? These are desperate attempts to cling to power. Zimbabwe deserves a new future untainted by hatred, corruption or pain.

Our grateful thanks to the many of you who have committed resources to our recent appeal for cars, drivers, cell phones and line of sight radios. Sadly, we are still desperately short of vehicles for the deployment of people and material resources into the rural constituencies.

Forgive us for labouring this point, but the supervision of ALL polling stations, where possible, is essential to ensuring a free and fair election this weekend.

We are so very close to achieving meaningful change for Zimbabwe.

Please consider who you can approach with this request for vehicles and drivers, and circulate this email as widely as possible.

Please call 091-241197 or 091-220541 with any details you may have in this regard.

Thank you for your generosity and belief in a new and dynamic future for Zimbabwe, through the Movement for Democratic Change.


MDC Support Centre

8th Floor, Gold Bridge

Guqula Izenzo/Maitiro Chinja

"Freedom has always been an expensive thing. History is fit testimony to the fact that freedom is rarely gained without sacrifice and self-denial." (Martin Luther King)


*    On FRIDAY at 8am trucks, busses and other vehicles will set off from the Farm City Parking lot, just off Robert Mugabe avenue, close to Third street - on a Solidarity Tour of areas that have, and are, experiencing serious violence and intimidation. They will travel across the election weekend to areas including Matoko north and south, Murewha north and south, Mudzi, Hwedza and UMP. For further details contact Ian Harris 091.232.177

*     FRIDAY from 10am Morgan Tsvangiarai will begin touring Harare areas chatting to voters until 2pm.

*    On SATURDAY, 24 June, Morgan Tsvangirai will vote in his home constituency of Buhera North at 11am. He will leave Harare at 8am (drive to Chivu east and then a further 80km); thereafter he will stop at one or two polling stations on his way back to Harare.

*     SUNDAY, 25 June:  Morgan Tsvangirai will tour voter areas speaking to the public.

*    The MDC will issue hourly email updates on the voting and counting process.

*    On Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday the MDC will have briefings that will give updates on the electoral process at 3.30pm and at 9pm, at the Meikles Hotel.

From The Guardian (UK), 23 June

Mugabe era is over, says opposition

Zimbabwe democracy movement predicts election triumph, but broad-based coalition may soon suffer splits

Robert Mugabe will be out of power within a month and Zimbabwe will have Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, as its new president, according to Eddie Cross, the prospective finance minister in the new government. With voters going to the polls tomorrow and Sunday in the most hotly contested parliamentary election since independence, senior MDC leaders have started making the most optimistic predictions.

"We expect to get over 76 seats which will be a majority in the 150-seat parliament. We will demand Mugabe's resignation and are confident the army will support us," Mr Cross, a leading industrialist, told the Guardian yesterday. The economy was in "meltdown", he claimed, and in desperation the government had printed Z$30bn (£500m) worth of banknotes since January. Once Mr Mugabe stepped aside, there would need be no more than a week for nominations followed by a three-week election campaign and a new president would be in power before August.

One of the new government's first acts to revive the economy would be to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar by about 40%, in line with demands from commercial farmers. He predicted that South Africa would play a pivotal role in removing Mr Mugabe. Zimbabwe relies heavily on South African electricity and has racked up an unpaid energy bill of millions of pounds. Mr Cross acknowledged that Mr Mugabe, whose term runs until 2002, had the right under the constitution to appoint a minority government and rule by decree if he lost control of parliament. "But it would be tantamount to a coup and I don't think South Africa will accept it. They can cut his electricity and oil at any time."

Mr Mugabe has the right to appoint 30 members to the parliament, and only 120 constituencies are being contested this weekend. If the MDC were to win more than 60 seats but less than 76, "Mugabe might try to hang on to power, but we would block his budget," Mr Cross warned. Mr Tsvangirai was less ebullient about the imminence of Mr Mugabe's departure, but he was confident the MDC ought to win more than half the contested seats. "Any result that does not give the MDC a majority will have been seriously rigged," Mr Tsvangirai said.

The candidates' agents as well as independent monitors from local civic groups will be able to stay with the ballot boxes at night on the two polling days to ensure there is no tampering, the government-appointed chairman of the election directorate, Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwa, said yesterday. However, the MDC has expressed concern about the security of the boxes when they are later taken to the counting centre. The Legal Resources Foundation yesterday made an urgent application to the supreme court to overturn a ruling that election monitors cannot accompany the boxes.

From News24 (SA), 23 June

Rabble rousing taking its toll?

Masvingo - A tired-sounding Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe blamed Britain for his country's problems and promised land and riches to the blacks on Thursday at an election rally in the central town of Masvingo. But as he continued his attack on Britain and the foreign media ahead of parliamentary elections this weekend the crowd faded away. What started off as a crowd of about 8 000 was half an hour later no more than 4 000 as people quietly dispersed down the back of the Macheke stadium.

The 76-year-old president's voice showed signs of fatigue at times. "This has been quite a long campaign," he told the rally. But he insisted: "We will win the elections." Mugabe dismissed the challenge of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the newly formed MDC, presenting Mugabe's Zanu-PF with its first serious challenge in 20 years of power. "In the British press, CNN, Sky News, they say (it is) Morgan Tsvangirai. Let him win overseas: he will lose in Zimbabwe," Mugabe declared.

He promised land to landless blacks and war veterans who he said had started off their campaign of occupying white-owned farms in this region. "That pride must be sustained," he added. "There must be one month notice to owners of farms so we can take the farms; (there will be) no compensation unless the British give us the money. If they don't we will take our land and they can keep the money. "We aren't going to allow anyone from outside our country to have power," Mugabe added.

The president denied reports that he had said was going to seize the country's mines. "I didn't say 'take them away,' I said we would give (the blacks) a chance. We must keep on discussing. We are not satisfied, we don't want all these riches to go to Britain," he said. "We want these people to have mines to belong to themselves. We must show the people we are still united. You have been divided. We want to see if you are still united."

From The Times (UK), 23 June

Ruling party panics over vote

WITH less than 24 hours left before Zimbabweans go to the polls, a mood of euphoria is sweeping the opposition, matched only by an air of panic among President Mugabe's Zanu (PF) Government. Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC has kept the entertaining style of his campaign going into the home stretch. To the delight of his football-mad supporters, he has been touring the country waving a red plastic card used by football referees, shouting "Mugabe off".

Convinced that the groundswell of opinion has moved decisively in his direction, Mr Tsvangirai has told Mr Mugabe that he will be impeached for high crimes. MDC inquiries would also include an investigation into the pre-election violence that has claimed the lives of nearly 40 people, including Zeke Chigagwa, who was beaten to death by suspected Zanu (PF) thugs on Wednesday. Dozens of former Zanu (PF) candidates have defected from the Mugabe camp to run against the ruling party as independents, while senior party officials, shaken by poor turnouts at party rallies, have engaged in bitter recriminations.

Zimbabwe goes to the polls in the knowledge that an MDC victory will lead to an assault on the remnants of Mr Mugabe's grip on power, which could unleash a bloody power struggle. Although a victory for Mr Mugabe could condemn the country to further decline, it might lead to a more peaceful climate in the immediate aftermath. Mr Tsvangirai's party needs to win 76 seats to secure an outright majority in Zimbabwe's 150-seat parliament. Last week an independent opinion poll forecast that the MDC would win at least 70 seats, while Zanu (PF), which currently holds 147 seats, would be reduced to 40.

From News24 (SA), 22 June

Mrs Mugabe gives the 'MDC sign'

Bulawayo - Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the MDC, has seized with glee on a newspaper photograph showing Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe apparently giving the open-hand MDC salute. The picture, taken at a recent election rally, shows her standing next to her husband, President Robert Mugabe, who is giving the clenched-fist salute of his ruling Zanu-PF.

The MDC, which says its supporters are being assaulted merely for using its salute, has put the photograph up on a poster outside its Bulawayo office. And at a rally in the city on Wednesday night, some 2000 MDC supporters burst out laughing when the photograph was shown as part of a light and sound presentation. "I'm sure she (Grace) must be feeling terribly embarrassed," said MDC election director Paul Nyathi on Thursday. "That picture is the butt of jokes across the country." He said he had a "hearty laugh" when he first saw the picture, published on the front page of the Harare-based Daily News on Tuesday. "Grace must be a private MDC supporter... Definitely that is my conclusion," Nyathi said.

Daily News editor-in-chief Geoffrey Nyarota said his newspaper, which unlike the state-controlled Herald is independent, and has the largest circulation in Zimbabwe, had been flooded with letters from readers wondering whether Grace was an MDC supporter after all. "On Tuesday our phones didn't stop ringing, with people congratulating us on that picture." Nyarota said his paper had used the picture, taken by a Reuters photographer, because it "tells a story". "Zanu-PF has beaten up people for waving their hands and here we have the first lady doing exactly that in a very natural way," he said. "So I thought this was a picture that would send a certain message. There we have the president in typical combatant stance, clenched fist, and beside him his spouse waving merrily to the crowd."

From The Star (SA), 22 June

Marauding war vets 'armed by Mugabe'

Harare - President Robert Mugabe's government has armed marauding war veterans with AK-47 and other rifles to intimidate rural voters and to demonstrate the seriousness of their persistent warnings that they will go back to war if the ruling Zanu-PF party loses this weekend's parliamentary elections, according to authoritative government sources. A report late on Wednesday said armed veterans had invaded a farm in Marondera and severely beaten eight workers. A security guard, Lovemore Masiyofa, had his penis cut off and was in a critical condition in hospital.

Meanwhile, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson has sent a confidential letter to Mugabe telling him to stop violations of human rights and the intimidation of opponents by his supporters. She says this threatens the credibility of the elections. Although Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa said he knew nothing about this, other confidential sources confirmed it, explaining recent reports from rural provinces and opposition parties of harassment of villagers and opposition supporters by war veterans wielding AK-47s. The MDC, the largest opposition party, said in a statement on Tuesday that a group of veterans with AK-47s had ambushed two minibuses carrying its supporters in Wedza and confiscated 30 000 campaign pamphlets at gunpoint. Veterans wielding AK-47s had also been sighted in Masvingo and Matabeleland provinces, where they forced the closure of several schools.

From The Times (UK), 23 June

Courts tackle Mugabe poll cheats

ZIMBABWE'S electoral machine blundered through confusion and a barrage of litigation yesterday to prevent President Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) party from comprehensively rigging the weekend's elections. The past week has been followed by a series of last-minute regulations that have stripped the independently-minded Elections Supervisory Commission of nearly all its powers, slashed the number of monitors allowed in polling stations and stopped about 330 international observers from scrutinising the process.

In the past five post-independence parliamentary and presidential elections, Zanu (PF) has not been troubled by a significant challenge. Only once has the ruling party been proved in a court to have been cheating. However, with the Government faced for the first time with the likelihood of electoral defeat, observers have little doubt that attempts will be made to succeed where four months of brutal subjugation of much of the rural population have failed.

A total of 385 candidates from 15 political parties and 88 independents are fighting for 120 seats. Voting opens on each day at 7am in 4, 000 polling stations, each guarded by a minimum of six policemen, and closes at 7pm. Counting begins on Monday and final results are expected late on Tuesday. The atmosphere at the government accreditation centre for international observers and journalists was ill-tempered yesterday as banned observers continued to argue their case. "We have never encountered so many problems with accreditation anywhere in the world," Pierre Schori, the head of the 150-member European Union delegation, said.

The Government was taken to the Supreme Court yesterday by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, an alliance of non-governmental organisations that has been training thousands of monitors and polling agents for the elections, to try to reverse regulations that allow only one monitor and one polling agent in the polling station at a time. Monitors will also not be allowed to accompany ballot boxes being transported to counting centres after the elections. The MDC had lawyers in the High Court, fighting changes in the procedure to the postal voting system for about 10,000 troops deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Advocate John Sayce said that the changes "are reducing the safeguards and opening up scope for fraud".

From The Independent (UK), 23 June

Only ballot-rigging can stop us, says MDC leader

Only government rigging in the Zimbabwean elections starting tomorrow can prevent the opposition MDC from winning a majority of seats in parliament, the party's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said yesterday. "This government is determined to rig itself into power," he said. "Any result that does not give the MDC a majority will have been seriously rigged. Seventy per cent of people in Zimbabwe want change." The 47-year-old former trade union-leader said his party was "going into these elections with clean hands. Unfortunately our opponents are still enmeshed in violence against the people". He added that an MDC supporter, Zeke Chigagwa, had been beaten to death on Wednesday morning in Makanganwa, about 100 miles west of the capital, Harare.

The opposition party, formed last September, said it had asked the High Court to invalidate thousands of postal votes cast by prisoners and the estimated 11,000 troops fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Earlier, at the first press briefing held by the government's election directorate, the registrar general, Tobaiwa Mudede, said that the armed forces' votes "would go to [their] various constituencies" and would not be dumped in marginal seats. Even though careful provision appeared to have been made for the sealing and safekeeping of ballot boxes before the counting in constituency centres, the process of conveying results for compilation to the Home Affairs offices in Harare appeared vague. "We will be using phones, faxes, telexes, everything," said Mr Mudede, although rural counting centres are unlikely to have phone links. He said the result of the elections would be known on Monday.

The MDC said yesterday that it had still not received the addresses of polling stations or accreditation for its agents. Mr Mudede said a ceiling of 300 foreign observers had been set because "we cannot have more observers than voters". There are 5.5 million people on the electoral roll. He denied reports that only one local monitor would be allowed in each of the 4,600 polling stations, insisting that there would be four.

From News24 (SA), 22 June

Riot cops disperse Zanu mob

Nyamandhlovu, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwean riot police on Thursday used teargas to disperse an aggressive group of Zanu-PF youths who disrupted an MDC election rally at a village 45km north-west of Bulawayo. The incident was one of the rare occasions that police have acted to protect opposition supporters in what has been a sometimes bloody election campaign. MDC organisers claimed the youths, who wore Zanu-PF T-shirts, were dropped off at the village early on Thursday morning by a provincial Zanu-PF official. When MDC supporters, most of them workers from surrounding farms, arrived at the local soccer field, for the mid morning rally, the youths aggressively drove them off the pitch, threatened them and began playing soccer there.

As tension grew, about 250 MDC supporters, some now carrying pick handles, formed a chanting group opposite the 60 or so Zanu-PF youths, who armed themselves with branches and rocks. Unarmed local police intervened to keep them apart and at 12.30pm a unit of fully equipped riot police, summoned from Bulawayo, arrived in a grey Puma armoured vehicle. In little under a minute, the police dispersed the youths, chasing them into the surrounding bush and firing teargas canisters after them. As the youths fled, the MDC supporters ran cheering onto the field where the rally went ahead under the watchful eye of the police.

Nyamandhlovu falls in the Bubi-Umguza constituency. MDC candidate there Jacob Thabane said on Thursday his homestead along with his granaries and chickens were torched by Zanu-PF supporters early last month. "I was not there. They were going to burn me in my house. They thought I was in it," he said. They also assaulted two of his sisters and three nieces and a number of other villagers who supported the MDC. "They have lost all the support they had, and now they are disrupting," he said.

MDC deputy-president Gibson Sibanda, who was at the rally, said he condemned the youth actions in the strongest terms. "This is to instil fear in the minds of people, that they shouldn't come on Saturday. So where is the free and fair (elections) when voters can not come," he said. He said he appreciated that the riot police had come, and said he was "a bit surprised" that they had for once arrived in time to take effective action. About 600 people, including a scattering of white farmers, eventually attended the rally, which was joined by people from the village after the youths were chased off. Commonwealth and South African observers witnessed the entire morning's proceedings.

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 23 June

Opposition takes risks to win votes on the farm

THE rendezvous was just after dawn in a misty field "well away from prying eyes". About 50 supporters of the MDC gathered, determined that even in the no-go farmland areas around the small town of Marondera their anti-Mugabe message would be heard. Two days earlier, a convoy of four flatback vans had attempted to drop election leaflets and posters at an outlying farm only to discover members of the ruling Zanu-PF party had received a tip-off. During the violent confrontation that ensued, a car containing journalists was stoned by so-called independence war veterans. But now, two days before the elections, and despite the regular Zanu-PF patrols, members of the MDC opposition are continuing their campaign to reach as many farm and factory workers as possible in this area 50 miles south east of Harare.

They scrambled aboard the vans, armed with sturdy branches broken from nearby trees, clutching posters and leaflets. A young man roared: "The time is little but the harvest is plenty." And with that the convoy took to the road. Travelling in their wake as they sped along at speeds of up to 70mph, we were showered with leaflets thrown along the road like confetti. Whizzing past the local Zanu-PF headquarters, shrieking "Zanu yawara" (Zanu is rotten) and waving red cards to indicate the end for President Robert Mugabe, they left his open-mouthed supporters to wave fists and spit in the dust.

Surprise, like large numbers and speed, is a crucial tactic. There are more than 100 farms in this area. The MDC arrives unannounced and, if invited, swarms through singing, chanting and distributing leaflets. The first Zanu-PF knows of the visit is when members pass by later and discover their campaign poster has been ripped from a tree and replaced by one for Didimas Munhenzva, the MDC candidate for Marondera East, now living in hiding following death threats.

The first farm and canning factory of the day is a success. There are 2,406 votes to be had there and the MDC is welcomed with enthusiasm. But at another farm a white farmer rushes from his Mercedes to talk to the convoy outside his gate. He says: "Please, we don't want you here," explaining that a few days ago Zanu-PF members went to his cattle farm and stuck pegs in the ground, marking their territory. He said: "If you come here today, they will come in after you and my workers will be beaten. We don't want trouble. We don't want to be victimised." His workers, he added: "already know how they are going to vote". The MDC did not need to hand out leaflets. A white businessman who accompanied us said: "Last night one of these MDC teams was visiting a farm and a group of Zanu-PF supporters went into the farm after they left. They became aware the MDC had been there and they proceeded to beat the labourers."

In a campaign marred with violence - at least 30 killed and 2,000 injured, according to independent monitors - it is unlikely that peace will now reign. Mr Mugabe told 40,000 supporters at a rally earlier this week to strike "back with an axe" if they were under attack. But, with hundreds of thousands of rural votes at stake, it is in areas such as Marondera that the MDC must take risks.

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 23 June

Observers face impossible task in land cowed by terror

AMID the occupied farms and terrified villages of Mashonaland East province, a small fleet of blue cars, emblazoned with the 15 stars of the European Union, speeds along dusty roads. In an area where more than 800,000 Zimbabweans live in scattered huts and where the ruling Zanu-PF party's terror campaign has been most intense, 17 EU observers are taking on what many fear may be an impossible task, to ensure a free and fair parliamentary election. With dogged determination, some EU observers maintain an air of normality, as if covering a by-election in rural England. Pavo Pitkanen, their co-ordinator, said his team's role was to move around "to witness the electoral environment". He confirmed that the local MDC opposition candidate could not walk down the main street beside the hotel for fear of attack. The 17 EU observers in Mashonaland East are part of a team of 200 that has fanned out across Zimbabwe during the last fortnight. They are the largest complement in an overall total of 400 international observers.

Yesterday, President Robert Mugabe denied that political violence was a problem. He told a reporter at a rally: "I didn't see any violence. I have covered all the provinces." The reality is different. The hotel where the EU monitors are based is covered with posters urging a vote for "the people's choice" - Sydney Sekeramayi, the widely feared State Security Minister and close confidant of Mr Mugabe. The Marondera Hotel had little choice but to display Mr Sekeramayi's countenance after Zanu-PF campaigners threatened to break all its windows. Virtually no MDC posters can be found anywhere in the province and three of its candidates cannot visit their constituencies for fear of assassination.

Nelly Maes, a Belgian MEP, said: "I've heard people, both white and black, say 'Let's pray for no more killing after the election.' People appreciate our being here. We can reassure them and our presence helps." Moments later, she left for Dunsuppie farm, 100 miles east of Harare, where the preparations for the weekend vote are utterly unlike anything in Belgium. All valuables were being hidden away and neighbouring farmers had prepared "armed reaction squads" to protect one another. Anne, 63, the widow who owns the farm said: "They said the whole country is going to go to war if the MDC wins," referring to the squatters who have forced her son and daughter to flee to the safety of Harare and have repeatedly threatened to burn her home to the ground. She added: "They beat up our workers and brainwash them. Of course the election can't be free or fair." Ms Maes was shaken by Anne's description of the reign of terror enforced by the squatters. No MDC campaigners have dared to visit the area and she was the first observer to reach the farm. She said: "It's even worse than I thought. This is the rule of fear and it's the same for blacks and whites."

From News24 (SA), 22 June

'Hunzvi never fought'

Harare - Fiery Zimbabwe independence war veterans' leader Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, who has whipped up anti-white sentiment in the run-up to parliamentary elections this weekend, has a white wife and may never have fought in the liberation war at all. Hunzvi, who has masterminded the occupations of 1500 white-owned farms since February, is standing as a ruling Zanu-PF candidate in the polls on Saturday and Sunday, which are taking place against a background of countrywide violence.

The big man has based his campaign on his past as a warrior in the 1970s war against white rule but, according to his estranged Polish wife, "he has never picked up a gun". Wieslawa Hunzvi, who met and married Hunzvi when he was studying medicine in Warsaw, told a South African newspaper at the weekend that she had to flee from Zimbabwe in 1992 to get away from her husband's beatings and violence. "He beat me if he thought I was talking too much and he beat me if he thought I was too independent in my thinking," Wieslawa told Johannesburg's Sunday Times. She said her husband was sent to Poland at the beginning of the liberation war and never fought at all.

Hunzvi recently filed medical claims for injuries to his ears, eyes and chest which he said he had suffered while fighting against the white rulers of Rhodesia, but the state said the medical certificates were forged. He has told some reporters that "Hitler" was a nom de guerre, others that it was a baptismal name. "In any case, he was a great leader," said Hunzvi, whose first name means "Beware." The 50-year-old leader of the war veterans is maintaining his warrior rhetoric, warning there will be another "Chimurenga" (war of independence) if Zanu-PF fails to win this weekend's elections.

According to Hunzvi's official biography, he was born into a peasant family and in 1966 was the country's youngest political prisoner, held at Gweru in the south of the country. He has compared himself to revolutionary figures like Che Guevara and Napoleon Bonaparte, justifying his actions against the white farmers – at least four have been killed in violence linked to the land occupations - with the argument that "all revolutions require violence." He was largely unknown until 1997, however, when his War Veterans Federation, created a decade earlier, threatened to take to the streets if the war veterans were not given pensions. Mugabe gave in to Hunzvi's demands - paying sky-high war pensions of $100 a month along with a lump sum of $2500 to each of the 50 000 veterans - and since then their relationship has been a constant source of speculation, with observers wondering which one of the two has the upper hand.

From News24 (SA), 22 June

Smith ready to face the truth

Bulawayo - Former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith said on Thursday he would be willing to testify before a Zimbabwean equivalent of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. "We've got nothing to hide," he said from his Harare home. "They can look at what we did in the past. Our conscience is clear." David Coltart, legal affairs spokesman for Zimbabwe's strongest opposition party, the MDC, told supporters in Bulawayo on Wednesday night that the MDC would set up a truth and justice commission similar to the TRC if it came to power. The body would cover not only the Matabeleland massacres perpetrated by troops under the Mugabe government in the 1980s, but also the guerrilla war against Smith's Rhodesian Front government as well.

Smith said he had no strong feelings about the proposal, but would support it if anyone believed it could help get the country out of the situation it was in. "Let's have a look at it. If it's going to help, let's get on with it," he said. Coltart also said the MDC would revisit the amnesties granted before the 1980 election to the participants in the war of liberation, and in 1988 to those responsible for the Matabeleland reign of terror. Amnesty would be offered afresh on condition of full disclosure of the truth, as has happened with the TRC. Asked to comment on this, Smith said he would want more "facts and figures. You can't rush into a decision like this without consideration," he said.

However, he would not support any suggestion of covering up the truth. Asked whether figures from the former Rhodesian government and military forces would be available to testify, he said most whites left the country after then-South African prime minister BJ Vorster "put the final nail in our coffin" by forcing a negotiated settlement with black leaders. More were pouring out now, "so I don't know how many are left". After the Lancaster House settlement, Smith led the Rhodesian Front's successors, the Republican Front and the Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe, in the Zimbabwean parliament, where whites-only seats were guaranteed for ten years. He retired from the leadership in 1987.

Coltart said on Wednesday that Zimbabweans had to recognise that the TRC, despite all its imperfections, had served a useful function. Whites in South Africa had had to confront their past. "Whites in this country, myself included, we all have to confront our past," he said. There was also a need to confront the 1980s killings, in which the notorious Korean-trained Fifth Brigade slew thousands of civilians and assaulted and detained thousands more.

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 23 June


PRESIDENT Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique has invited Zimbabwe's commercial white farmers, threatened by farms invasions and seizures in their country, to settle in his country. Mozambique needs the expertise of experienced farmers to boost its food production, Chissano told the current session of the World Economic Forum's southern Africa meeting in Durban. About 40 white commercial farmers from Zimbabwe had already settled in Mozambique, Chissano told the Sapa news agency after the session, focused on land reform in Zimbabwe. A number of South African commercial farmers had also settled in northern Mozambique, he said. "We do not sell the land to them, but they are granted a 50-year leasehold," he said. "If this period expires, we will reassess the situation."

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Hi everbody
This time this is Pete writing. Di says that she has an assignment to
complete before Friday and cannot write anymore.

If you did not know it before we were both busy to the point of exhaustion
over the weekend running polling agents around and collecting data from them
for collation to prevent vote rigging. Our responsibility was the
constituency of Bulawayo North East which stretches from Cowdray Park in the
west of the city around to Waterford in the east (for those of you who know
the geography of Bulawayo. I had the task of organising the exercise. This
was quite a mission because polling agents who lived in Cowdray park did not
want to be deployed in their home area because they would be recognised and
beaten up or killed. The same applied to polling agents living in the east
of the city. We had to look after 20 polling stations and amazingly it
worked. Because the government kept changing the rules up to the last minute
we had to keep adjusting. For example - how many polling agents per station
? At first two in the polling station, then only one per station, then two
per station but one allowed in at any one time, finally four, but we stayed
with two and with one in the station.

We got them all in position on time before 0630 to verify that the boxes
were empty before polling and to seal them. The polling agents were
essential to ensure a proper check was kept on the voting procedure. Their
function was to keep a record of the number of voters passing through the
station, how many were turned away and why, the number of books of ballots
issued, the numbers on the counterfoils, the sealing of the boxes and the
verification of the correct box before counting and so on.

To indicate how important the agents were is indicated by our factory
employees' experience in Plumtree. Incidentally last week I asked my
employees if any of them wanted to be polling agents and called for
volunteers. We received 26 affirmatives. I thought it would be a simple job
of them going for a training session on Thursday morning and seeing them
back at work on Thursday afternoon. Wrong. We received a telephone call on
Thursday afternoon saying they were going to Plumtree. I did not see them
again until Wednesday morning. Apparently in the Plumtree area all the local
polling agents had been beaten up and intimidated to the extent that some
had left the area and others simply did not want the job any more. Surprise
surprise for Zanu. On Saturday morning all the polling stations were
magically manned/womanned by agents from Bulawayo. Their object of their
exercise is plain. In Morgan Tsvangirayi's constituency two extra polling
boxes were discovered! In that area the Zanu ploy worked temporarily. This
is one of the 23 odd constituencies that the MDC is going to contest.

The actual voting procedure is fair so long as their are people around to
watch it like hawks. If you let your guard down for a second they will try
something. Two of our drivers, Helen Lewis and Gibson Ndlovu, were
collecting agents and following the government vehicle carrying the polling
boxes from Cowdray Park at the end of polling on Sunday evening to Baines
school. Everything was going routinely when three vehicles containing Zanu
thugs showed up. The details are complicated but what ensued was a 120 km
per hour car chase down the Luveve road with vehicles trying to cut each
other off in an attempt to stay close to the polling boxes. At times there
were four vehicles abreast on a two lane road. Cell phones were a great
assistance. After being informed of the build up I requested some help for
our people. Lo and behold, who should join in the circus like the Lone
Ranger was our candidate Welshman Ncube, as a reinforcement. Being aware of
the build up to the events but not knowing exactly what was going on I kept
phoning for information being worried when I had not heard from Helen and
Gibson for a while. What I did not know was that they were trying very hard
to stay on the road, and they found it very difficult to talk on the phone
at the same time. This was all a great joke afterwards but tense at the
When they arrived at Baines school where the counting was to be carried out
the Zanu heavies tried to force their way in. I called a policeman and he
told them to take off.  Problem solved.   We think that they were going to
try to squeeze in extra boxes of votes or exchange boxes. Although it does
not make sense knowing how the voting system worked in our constituency and
that any extra/exchanged boxes would have been picked up very quickly, in
other areas it obviously did work. Kariba for example. The MDC candidate was
not even allowed to campaign in that area after being beaten up, let alone
have polling agents to watch things.

The MDC had a reaction teams of youngsters who were to be deployed in the
event of trouble. The one vehicle was driven by Laurie Blignaut in the
Umzimgwane and Bubi/Mguza areas. In Umzingwane the MDC candiate was George
Ndlovu, and the Zanu candidate was Naison Ndlovu who was discredited in the
Willowvale motor car distribution scandal in the 1980's. Laurie got a call
to move his men down to Esigodini because there was a bunch of war vets
threatening George Ndlovu. He heads off at high speed from Bulawayo and
about ten kms from Esigodini he gets another call from Alistair Coulson with
another reaction team to tell him to forget it that they got the wrong
message. It wasn't Geroge that was being threatened at all but Naison who
had not paid them!!

As you may have seen from the above the way the system worked was that the
MDC have a political wing of and support groups of business people. It
worked fine when the resources were available. We met some damn fine people
this weekend.

Mind you it wasn't all like the above. Andrew (our son) was driving the
candidate for Mutoko around and they only had four vehicles to deploy the
polling agents in a huge area. The last polling agent was dropped off at
1330 on Saturday. This meant that they did not verify the boxes being empty
before polling and even if they did they were restricted in the sealing
procedure. Further there were gangs of bandits all over the place
threatening to kill our guys while they were driving around. They had to use
their brains and wits to keep out of ambushes, and the police were not on
sides either. We do not have the full details as we have not seen Andrew but
only spoken to him on the phone. A very harrowing experience. Needless to
say The MDC candidate in Mutoko unfortunately got cleaned up.

We have also had some house guests.  One was the candidate from Kwekwe,
Blessing Chibundo, who had had his house burnt and been attacked twice. On
one of the occasions   he was doused with five litres of petrol.
Fortunately with Zanu incompetence they wet the matches with petrol and they
would not strike. In the delay while they got another box he had the
presence of mind to head butt one of the attackers and hug another saying
"If you light me he goes as well."  He was also offered $700 000 to stand
down.and refused.  (The Zanu way of governing in a nut shell - bribery and
intimidation.)  He could not campaign.  He and his election agent who also
had his house burnt went to Kwekwe only to cast their votes and leave again.
Surprisingly and happily he won.  I would guess that the presiding officers
on the polling stations were fair and professional as many of them are.
This we found in Bulawayo.  Blessing's opponent was the Minister Of
Injustice, Emmerson Mnangagwa, one of Mugabe's buddies from long back.

Our other house guests were here over the election weekend.  We rarely saw
them since we were hardly home.  This was a family whose husband and father
had been abducted along with other MDC activists the previous weekend.  The
others had been beaten and released later in the week but no one knew his
whereabouts and the Zanu thugs were threatening to burn the family out.   We
still do not know where he is and after this amount of time we fear the

To paraphrase the repeated final  line of the  "Naked City" series on TV
years ago - "There are a million stories in this election and this has been
a few of them."

From my limited perspective  the cities had free and fair polling but in
some of the rural areas there is no way that the election can be considered
"free and fair" because of the amount of government violence and
intimidation before the elections and the vote rigging during the polling in
one way or another.

When we finally received the final counts and discovered that we had only
won 57 seats we felt a bit down. But later on in the day I realised that
maybe this was not too bad at all, for the following reasons:
1. It took England until 1660's to achieve a two party system. The necessity
for this is that any politician will get corrupt if he is given too much
power. " It is common knowledge that we do well under adversity. But if you
really want to test a man's character - give him power." - Abe Lincoln.
2. This is one hell of a good start for a party that has only been in
existence for nine months.
3.  As our friend Tony Murphy said - politics is not Wimbledon with a cup
for the winner.  It is an ongoing process.  Now the real process of politics
starts - trying to work out what you can and cannot do with the seats you
have won.

.  With an excess of one third of the seats the MDC can block any further
changes to the constitution. 76 seats are needed for a parliamentary
majority.  With that you can pass a vote of no confidence in the president
and his government and block any legislation.  Two thirds (100) are required
to change the constitution and impeach the President.  Bear in mind that 120
seats were contested in the election. Mugabe can still appoint 20 more seats
to parliament and the council of chiefs appoints another ten.  Mugabe as
president appoints his cabinet from the 150 and forms the government.   This
is the rotten constitution that Mugabe has ammended 15 or so times over the
last 20 years and primarily designed for a dictator running  a one party

The downside is;

1.  The main casualty  is the economy.  Without a change of government there
is no way we can get on line again with the IMF or the World Bank.  And we
need them, and the investment that will follow once they have taken the
2.  Mugabe is still an unconvicted butcher.  There is unfinished business.
Happily the MDC have decided that there will be no compromise and are going
to contest at least 23 seats.   Some may be sorted out with a recount.
Others may need a court decision.  If it is found that the Zanu candidate
got in by inciting violence he will be barred from being a candidate for
five years ( apart from any other charges he may face).  This should make
the following by election a lot more peaceful.   Any other gross
intimidation in a constituency will also disqualify the election, and we
know there are plenty of those, particularly in some comercial farming areas
where farm workers have been exposed to incredible pain and suffering.
Further the MDC is a bit like a USA political party.  It is full of lawyers.
Some of them are busy now preparing documents  for the prosecution of
perpetrators of the 30 murders, burning of 550 homes , and assaults and
rapes of a further 6000 odd people.   Justice must prevail.

It seems a harsh note to end on, but there is hope.  We have started the
ball rolling and I think we can all feel justly proud of what we have
already achieved.  It was a good team effort.  Zimbabwe will never be the
same again and soon maybe we can show the rest of Africa how to run a
country with fairness and justice and with a vibrant economy uplifting the
living standards of all our people who have suffered so much.


Pete & Di and family
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Opposition leader condemns 'rigged poll'
Zimbabwe ponders its future
The beginning of the end for Mugabe?
MP is forced into hiding after defeating Mugabe aide
From The Daily Telegraph [UK]
MP is forced into hiding after defeating Mugabe aide
By Caroline Davies in Kadoma

BLESSING CHEBUNDO'S journey to the seat he will soon take up in Zimbabwe's
parliament is a perfect illustration of the courage that has finally given a
voice to millions opposed to President Robert Mugabe.

The story of his campaign against one of Zimbabwe's most powerful cabinet
ministers, and his overwhelming victory, is an extraordinary one.  More
extraordinary still, despite winning his seat, Mr Chebundo dares not venture
into his constituency, Kwekwe, 140 miles south-west of the capital, Harare.

The house where he raised his four children is burnt to the ground.  His
hands and shoulder are scarred from wounds inflicted by fanatical Zanu-PF
supporters armed with clubs and machete-like pangas.  He came even closer to
losing his life when doused with petrol in the attack.  The fact that the
first match struck by his attackers failed to ignite saved him.

So his monumental victory over the Justice Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, by
15,388 votes to 8,352, is being celebrated by the Movement for Democratic
Change as a true David and Goliath battle.  But yesterday, instead of
parading the streets of his constituency, Mr Chebundo was in hiding 30 miles
away in the town of Kadoma, from where he was forced to campaign against all
the odds.

He said: "I dare not go.  Not yet.  I will have to wait to see how the
situation develops.  But at the moment I would be foolish to be seen in
Kwekwe.  It is too dangerous for me".  His supporters-cum-bodyguards,
grouped around him as we talked, nodded in agreement.

Mr Chebundo, an occupational hygienist with the Health and Safety
Department, said he knew what he was doing when he stood against Mr
Mnangagwa, one of Mr Mugabe's most feared ministers, who has been at his
side since Zanu-PF formed the government in 1980.  During the Eighties, as
security minister, he was responsible for the brutal military action against
the opposition Zapu in Matabeleland.

More recently, he oversaw the legal process allowing the government to strip
white farmers of their land.  A more potent symbol of what Mr Mugabe stands
for would be hard to find.  Mr Chebundo said: "I knew it would be dangerous
to take on such a man, someone so powerful within Zanu-PF and with such
committed supporters.  But I thought, if my life is the price for a better
government in Zimbabwe, then let it be."

Intimidation and violence by Zanu-PF supporters in the Kwekwe area during
the election campaign was among the worst in Zimbabwe.  Mr Chebundo, 43,
almost abandoned campaigning at the end, only making swift forays under
cover to distribute leaflets and posters.

Last month, while walking to work at 7am, he was set upon by a gang.  One
was a man he recognised, who said "Hello, old man" as the other three
crowded round him.  Two had pangas, two had clubs.  They laid into him.  "I
tried to push them off using my hand," he said, showing the thick scar where
one blade sliced into him.

"Then I realised one had a container of petrol and he doused me.  It was all
over my head and my shirt.  One of them tried to strike a match but the
stick broke off.  As he was making a second attempt, I managed to jump up
and grab him.  So now he had petrol on him as well.  I kept holding onto
him, so no one would strike the match".

After the men ran off, Mr Chebundo made a formal complaint to police.  No
arrests have been made.  He moved his family to a safe house before a second
attempt on his life a week later, when three petrol bombs were thrown
through windows as he held a meeting with supporters.

He voted early on Sunday morning in an outlying polling booth in the
constituency, accompanied by bodyguards in three cars.  "I knew there would
be no queue on the second day".

He has no idea what lies ahead of him.  "People say I am brave.  But
everyone who stood as a candidate for the MDC is brave.  And those that
voted are brave as well.  I am happy to say that the intimidation did not
work in Kwekwe.  And I am happy to be elected as a voice for those who have
gone without one for so long."

Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK -BBC
              Zimbabwe ponders its

Senior government figures and opposition
              leaders have been holding separate meetings in
              the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, after last
              weekend's pivotal parliamentary elections.

              The main opposition group, the Movement for
              Democratic Change - which won almost half
              the seats - chose its vice-president, Gibson
              Sibanda, as parliamentary leader.

              The party's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, failed to
              win his parliamentary seat and is now setting
              his sights on the country's presidency.

              Mr Mugabe's party won
              just five more seats
              than the MDC, but
              constitutionally the
              president chooses 20
              extra seats and this
              provision is expected to
              give his party a
              comfortable majority in
              parliament. The council
              of chiefs elect a further 10 seats.

              Mr Mugabe praised the electorate for voting
              peacefully in a speech broadcast on radio and
              television on Tuesday night.

              He said that he looked forward to working with
              the opposition.

              Land threats remain

              President Mugabe also said in his address that
              he would push ahead with controversial plans
              for land redistribution, including the seizure of
              white-owned farms.

              Senior officials of
              Zanu-PF have also
              indicated that the
              government would
              continue with its
              controversial land

              Information Minister
              and senior Zanu-PF
              executive Chen
              Chimutengwende told
              reporters on
              Wednesday: "We are
              committed to our programme."

              But, as if to allay fears about the violence that
              accompanied the land occupations, he added:
              "We are also committed to peace and order."

              "The way forward is to
              appoint a new cabinet,
              swear in new MPs and
              the work of
              government starts," Mr
              Chimutengwende said.

              Mr Mugabe's
              government has
              earmarked about 841
              white-owned farms to
              be forcibly taken and
              given to landless black

              The violent seizure of
              some farms - along
              with the beating up
              and killing of opposition
              supporters - drew
              international condemnation in the run-up to
              the election.

              Commonwealth's comments

              Earlier, observers from
              the Commonwealth said
              violence and
              intimidation in the
              months before the
              elections had impaired
              the voters' freedom of

              Their findings back up
              earlier conclusions
              reached by a European
              Union delegation which
              said that intimidation
              had prevented open campaigning by the

              But the head of the Commonwealth delegation,
              former Nigerian military ruler, Abdulsalami
              Abubakar, did say the counting process had
              been commendably transparent.


Leader from The Times of June 28, 2000

                                STALEMATE IN HARARE


Some difficult decisions ahead for Mugabe and Cook An election campaign not
merely marred but defined by violence and intimidation has reached an
extraordinary conclusion.  The final performance of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) exceeded all realistic expectations.  Despite the
brutality with which Robert Mugabe and his party sought to maintain a
monopoly on power, the Opposition has won a clear majority of the votes cast
and was denied the dominant role in parliament by, among other factors,
constituency boundaries designed to boost rural representation and a
reserved block of 30 MPs to be appointed by the President.
Mr Mugabe has clung to office on the basis of rules first shaped to suit Ian
Smith and the electioneering techniques of Idi Amin.  This is an
exceptionally pyrrhic "triumph".

The disappointment expressed by MDC activists is entirely understandable.
They would certainly have been the largest party were it not for
"irregularities" on polling day -
350,000 electors were not permitted to vote - and would have won the overall
contest comfortably if this had been a truly free and fair election.  They
will challenge the outcome of 20 results in Zimbabwe's courts shortly.  The
MDC has, though, obtained more than a moral victory.  It has enough seats to
prevent Mr Mugabe from amending the Constitution - which he has already done
16 times in
12 years - to suit his own interests.  It can veto other major areas of
future legislation.  It has a coherent programme and, in Morgan Tsvangirai,
a credible, popular, presidential candidate.

Zanu (PF), by contrast, can count on few of these blessings.  It will face a
period of debate and division as to how to react to this debacle.  One
faction will demand that overtures are made to the MDC, disastrous economic
policies are abandoned and that the party prepares for a future that does
not depend on Mr Mugabe's authority.
The alternative, they could contend, is a financial implosion with food
shortages in a nation that has traditionally had an advanced agricultural
The President's allies, though, will urge him to intensify the assault on
white-owned farms and all but close down his opponents.  This might well
reflect Mr Mugabe's instincts.
The prospects for a significant split within Zanu (PF)
should not be underestimated.

This uncertainty has complicated political options for the international
community and especially this country.
Britain has, rightly, taken the lead in highlighting the level of human
rights abuse in Zimbabwe.  If Mr Mugabe had shamelessly stolen this entire
election, permitting the MDC only a token allocation of seats, then Robin
Cook, the Foreign Secretary, could have insisted that the Commonwealth expel
Zimbabwe and reduce Mr Mugabe's regime to pariah status.  If the MDC had won
a majority in parliament, Britain would have urged Mr Mugabe to accept
exile.  As matters stand, neither option is plausible.
Outsiders must await Zanu (PF's) next move.

This should not be an alibi for inactivity.  The international observers who
correctly condemned the conduct of this poll need to make their evidence
available to the MDC and the Zimbabwean judiciary swiftly.  The EU report is
scheduled to be ready within days; any delay would be intolerable.  The
vigour which which the police pursue those responsible for 32 murders in the
duration of this campaign must be a litmus test for the willingness of other
states to maintain a political dialogue with Mr Mugabe.

In broader terms, Britain should accept a shift in strategy.
The best way to maximise pressure on Mr Mugabe and persuade the shrewder
element of Zanu (PF) to change its course is by working through the EU, the
Commonwealth and other regional organisations.  Mr Cook should set down
specific conditions under which bilateral British aid might be resumed - a
wholly new economic approach and an end to the occupation of farmland - but
must avoid becoming a political asset for Mr Mugabe and a liability to Mr
Tsvangirai.  The MDC has deployed courage and cunning both to survive and
then prosper in recent months.  It might yet be able to mobilise even these
tainted election results to restore dignity, democracy and prosperity to

From The Times Wednesday 28th June 2000

                              Opposition leader condemns
                                          'rigged poll'

Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the Movement for Democratic Change, said
today (Tuesday) that Zimbabwe would never be the same after landmark
elections which he said his party would have won had it not been for a
campaign of violence before the poll.

Mr Tsvangirai told a news conference the MDC had identified 20
constituencies won by the ruling Zanu (PF)
where it might ask for a recount or challenge the results in court.

"Without the subversion we would have easily won this election.  There is no
doubt in my mind," Mr Tsvangirai told a news conference.

At least 30 people died in political violence and occupations of white-owned
farms before the election.
International monitors condemned the bloodshed, which they said had
seriously curtailed the MDC's ability to campaign.

The MDC won 57 of the 120 contested parliamentary seats, against 62 for Zanu
(PF) and one for a minor party.
Nevertheless, Mr Tsvangirai's party won enough seats to deny Zanu (PF) the
two-thirds majority it needs to change the constitution.

"Zimbabwe will never be the same again," said the former trades union leader
who formed the MDC nine months ago and waged a potent campaign against
alleged mismanagement of the economy.

"This election result means that neither Zanu (PF)
nor President Mugabe will go it alone.  He cannot amend the constitution
unilaterally," Mr Tsvangirai said.

He said the election also marked the beginning of the end for Mr Mugabe,
saying he would challenge him in presidential elections in 2002.

"Anyone who believes that the future destiny of this country lies with
Robert Mugabe must have his head examined," he said.  "The sooner they start
planning his retirement the better."

Mr Tsvangirai shrugged off his own failed bid for a parliamentary seat in a
poor rural constituency south of Harare.  He faced a tough battle against
his cousin, a senior Zanu (PF) party official who outpolled the MDC leader
by more than 2,000 votes.

"I have no doubt that the people of Buhera North support me and support the
MDC," Mr Tsvangirai said.

The MDC leader said his MPs would seek to work with those members of Zanu
(PF) who wanted change, but he added there would be no power-sharing
agreement with the Mugabe Government.

Mr Tsvangirai said Mr Mugabe's executive powers, which enabled him to send
10,000 troops to fight in the Democratic Republic of the Congo without
consulting Parliament, should be curtailed.

Mr Mugabe's Government has amended the constitution 16 times since a legal
ban on changes expired in

The last major change in April gave the Government powers to seize
white-owned farms without paying compensation except for improvements made
on the properties.

The MDC success comes too late to block the seizure of
804 farms for redistribution to landless black peasants, but Mr Tsvangirai
said he would stop plans for an upper house in Parliament.  Critics have
accused Mr Mugabe of wanting to fill the proposed senate with patronage
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Zimbabwe to Continue Land Seizures after Vote

HARARE, June 28 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government vowed on Wednesday to drive ahead with seizures of white-owned farms despite a severe rebuff in watershed elections.

The ruling ZANU-PF of President Robert Mugabe and the infant Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) huddled separately to discuss their next moves on Wednesday after an electoral earthquake that totally changed the political landscape.

The MDC, formed only nine months ago, came from nowhere to win almost half the vote in last weekend's parliamentary elections, taking 57 seats--only five less than the ruling party. The opposition had never previously held more than three seats in the 20 years since independence.

But despite the huge scare for his party, Information Minister Chen Chimutengwende told Reuters that the seizures of white-owned farms, one of the most controversial government policies, would go ahead.

Asked about the farms, he said: "We are committed to our programme." But he added, in a comment suggesting a more conciliatory government mood, "We are also committed to peace and order."

He said the programme was being discussed at a meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF party's top policy making committee on Wednesday. Self-styled liberation war veterans began a violent campaign to occupy white-owned farms in February after the population threw out a referendum which would have authorised the seizures.

At least 30 people were killed, most of them opposition supporters, during the invasions and pre-election violence that was condemned by international monitors.

The government says it will only pay for farm improvements and not the land itself, trying to pass that responsibility to former colonial ruler Britain.


The MDC executive and its new MPs were due to meet later on Wednesdayto discuss their next move. They have vowed to make legal challenges to more than 20 election results.

International election monitors said the campaign violence and intimidation, which prevented the MDC canvassing in many rural areas, had seriously marred the poll and it could not be described as free and fair.

Mugabe, whose fiery rhetoric before the vote alarmed both white farmers and opposition activists, sounded a more peaceful note in an address to the nation on Tuesday night but did not seem chastened by the election result.

He repeatedly called for unity in a radio and television address, adding: "I look forward to working with the new parliament as together we grapple with the pressing challenges of improving the livelihood of our people and developing our nation."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who ironically failed to win a seat in the election, said he would challenge Mugabe for the presidency in 2002.

"Anyone who believes that the future destiny of this country lies with Robert Mugabe must have his head examined," Tsvangirai said.


Mugabe had vilified the opposition in the election campaign, calling them stooges of Britain and Zimbabwe's white minority population, against whom he led a guerilla war that culminated in independence in 1980.

ZANU-PF politicians were believed to be discussing Mugabe's future in the political back corridors. Chenjerai Hunzvi, leader of the farm invasions, said the party need a root and branch overhaul.

But analysts said Mugabe's position looked safe for the moment because he had averted election defeat and still had many cards to play in manoeuvres involving both ZANU-PF and the MDC.

The government had a good working majority despite the close election because Mugabe personally appoints 30 other MPs either directly or indirectly.

But the MDC's strong showing denies ZANU-PF the two-thirds majority in parliament which in the past has allowed Mugabe to amend the constitution, as he did to allow the compulsory seizure of over 800 white-owned farms following the referendum defeat in February.

Zimbabwes Challenges and Lessons

Lusaka (Post of Zambia, June 27, 2000) - Whatever the outcome of Zimbabwes June 2000 parliamentary elections, the path will affect Zimbabwe and beyond. Present Zimbabwe is a learning point for politics and governance in Africa and elsewhere. Some issues may appear Zimbabwe specific while others may have more wider application.

Other issues affect neighbours and have a regional character. Others have to do with human relations globally. In all the issues, there are lessons for governments all over the world - from Africa to industrial nations. There are lessons about human relations.

A limitation is to deal with the current conflict as merely a land issue. There are various strands to the conflict. Land has been a critical issue even before the 1980 independence. But, while the conflicting sides have now revolved themselves around the land issue, it is not the only issue.

People, such as the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in opposition to President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF have made their stance for various reasons. There are various strands of disagreement against the rulers. Within the opposition, some motives are in agreement while others may conflict.

What they may have as a denominator is a common target - ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe. They have been galvanised together by some force to deal with a common target.

As with other parts of Africa, once they deal with their immediate common target, there will have to be a lot of work to keep together. Motives may be different and the goal follows the motive.The issues have arisen over a period. When they combine and revolve around a particular issue, it is easy to forget that there are various strands. Some of these strands are compatible while others are not. We can identify various possible strands of difference against ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe.

There are those who may be unhappy about Zimbabwes military journey for Kabilas Congo. Then there are those who are against Mugabe because of his open stance against homosexual people.

Others remember the issues of the Matebeleland massacres in the early 1980s. There are those who feel that Zimbabwe is a de facto non- inclusive one-party state which may not give them chance to participation and the high reigns of power.

Others feel that things have generally not been fair for Zimbabwes black Africans. And then there are those, commonly called "Rhodesians", who may still not accept the rule of black Africans. Many Africans are unhappy about the position of black persons in relation to land.

The problem lay in the nature of the Lancaster House agreement at independence negotiations.

The agreement restrained the new government from effective redress of the land issue. It was clear the land clause was unfair and would create problems. Even the 1998 land agreement with Britain, dealing with redistribution of farm land, has not been resolved.

At the same time, some white farmers feared land reform and would not like Mugabe and ZANU-PF to go ahead with land reform. Since the open conflict with MDC, ZANU-PF has managed to get a lot of people unhappy with the land question to rally with them in seeking effective land reform. Like in other parts of Africa, a major complaint is the economic decline which has found peoples access to basic needs decline.

People from various walks of life have been hard hit by the economic policies of the IMF and World Bank. Access to health, education, and other basic needs has declined due to the effect of the IMF programme. This is not a Zimbabwe complaint alone. Against the opposition MDC, an alliance composed of diverse interests, has been the accusation that they are a tool being used by the white Zimbabweans against the interests of the black persons.

In multi-racial and multi-ethnic Zimbabwe, some problems have been left loose for too long while others have emerged. The various issues have galvanised even people from outside Zimbabwe to take sides.

Some of this has been on the basis of common issues and interests while some of it has been because of "kith and kin" links. One problem is that when people have used force to resolve issues against a hard system, as they did in the liberaltion struggle against the racist Ian Smith regime, without non-violence peace making mechanisms, they may resort to force as an effective way of dealing with disputes.

Some of Africas governments are noting the land problems in Zimbabwe but are putting into place in their own countries policies and practices that may lead to the problems Zimbabwe is experiencing. Africa may continue to move around the cycle of problems which need not be. In the nature of the problems can also be found the solutions to Zimbabwes situation.

As the conflict has come about due to various factors, the resolution will lie in dealing with a variety of issues in a way that satisfies those involved. Whichever way the elections go, the key issues may still remain to be dealt with. The key issues mentioned, from the land issue to Congo and the IMF structural adjustment programmes, still have to be faced and resolved. Then the complainants will be at rest.

To go ahead and heal the society, there must be acknowledgement of weaknesses and gains of the past and how they have continued to haunt or help the present.

Whichever side emerges in control, they cannot deny others the right to live a decent life in the country. All sides need to realise that social transformation may require the maintenance of a social fabric which can later enable strong rebuilding and continuity of society.

It requires multiple approaches and multiple negotiation to reach peace in Zimbabwe.

By Gabriel C. Banda

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No escape for Mugabe

No escape for Mugabe   ... IN the past decade, shock waves from the
ending of the Cold War have rolled across Africa, shattering the old,
monolithic order. The electoral defeat of Kenneth Kaunda in 1991, the
victory of Nelson Mandela in 1994 and the ousting of President Mobutu in
1997 have been landmarks in that process. To these must now be added the
opposition's achievement in the Zimbabwean general election last weekend.
It may at first seem surprising to bracket the last with the other three;
Zanu-PF, after all, has retained its parliamentary majority, and Robert
Mugabe's presidential term still has two years to run. But there is no
doubt that the ruling party would have been swept from power if the poll
had been remotely free and fair. Terror tactics, particularly in the
provinces of Mashonaland, and the presidential prerogative of nominating
one fifth of MPs saved Zanu-PF from well-deserved defeat.  The struggle
against Mr Mugabe's misrule can be likened to a bullfight. The foundation
last September of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) under Morgan
Tsvangirai mirrored the matador's opening passes. The defeat of the
party in a constitutional referendum in February was the picador's lance.
At the weekend, the bandilleros planted their darts in the enraged
animal's neck. Having held three out of 150 seats in the old House of
Assembly, the MDC now has around 60, thus preventing Mr Mugabe from
amending the constitution at will. Among the unsuccessful candidates was
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the justice minister, who had been widely tipped as
the president's successor. Mr Tsvangirai also failed to be elected but he
remains the dominant figure in his party and is turning his sights to the
presidential election in 2002. The last act of the corrida, the kill, has
begun.  The MDC leader deserves the support of democratic nations in
challenging the results in 20 constituencies. The main overseas
group, from the European Union, has described the election as neither
nor fair, and Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, has condemned the
violence and gerrymandering. But the outside world should also pay
attention to what Mr Tsvangirai is saying. Rather than dismissing the
as a farce, he wants his party to take up its seats in the House of
Assembly and provide a vigorous opposition. His strategy has two stages:
the first is to weaken Mr Mugabe in parliament, the second, to finish him
off politically in 2002.  The intervening two years are likely to be
turbulent. Cornered, the president and his party could be dangerous. The
thugs whom Mr Mugabe set loose on the MDC and its supporters may not be
reined in. The economy, long sapped by gross mismanagement, has been
brought to its knees by the violence of the past four months. Zanu-PF's
retention of power will discourage help from international financial
institutions and deter investors. The restoration of order and economic
stability would challenge the strongest of governments, let alone one
given to populist slogans as a cover for its own incompetence. The best
hope for Zimbabwe is that the historic advance of the opposition will
bring Mr Mugabe to his senses. He needs to realise that the days of
unbridled autocracy are over. An opposition which courageously defied his
brutal henchmen is snapping at his heels. After 20 years in power, his
time is nearly up
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