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.
27th June 2000
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
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
MOZ WANTS ZIM'S WHITE FARMERS
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."
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.
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