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New law requires foreign and white-owned businesses in Zimbabwe to hand over control to blacks

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 9, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe, campaigning for upcoming
elections, has signed a new law requiring foreign- and white-owned
businesses to hand over 51 percent control of their operations to blacks,
state media reported Sunday.

Cranking up his campaign theme of "economic empowerment" in the impoverished
African nation, Mugabe also unveiled plans to distribute tractors,
generators, gasoline and cattle to black farmers who have resettled on
white-owned land seized by the government since 2000.

"This equipment and implements now form a critical mass that should be
deployed effectively so as to meaningfully uplift productivity levels," the
state-owned Sunday Mail reported Mugabe as saying at a Harare ceremony

The new program comes three weeks before Zimbabweans vote in crucial
presidential, parliamentary and local council elections in which Mugabe, 84,
is running against former finance minister and ruling party loyalist Simba
Makoni, 57, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 55.

The March 29 vote takes place amid an economic meltdown — including a
shrinking economy, rocketing inflation, shortages of most basic goods and
collapsing public services — in the nation once known as Africa's bread

Since the government began ordering the seizure of white-owned farms in
2000, production of food and agricultural exports has slumped drastically.
Zimbabwe has the world's highest official rate of inflation: 100,500
One-third of the nation's 12 million people received emergency food aid in
January, U.N. food agencies said. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization
predicted shortfalls in local harvests in coming weeks and said just 10
percent of fertilizer needed in the last planting season is available to

Since December, the Central Bank has spent at least US$43 million (€28
million) to import corn, Zimbabwe's staple food, from neighboring countries,
bank Gov. Gideon Gono said Saturday.

The Sunday Mail said the government new program will put Zimbabwe "back at
work" with state-of-the-art generators, buses, tractors, 300 buses,
motorcycles and some 3,000 cattle.

No details about the cost of the equipment — funded by the state central
bank, much of it in scarce hard currency — was provided. In the past,
similarly free equipment mainly has gone to supporters of the ruling party.

Mugabe blames the crisis on economic sanctions imposed by Britain,
Zimbabwe's former colonial power, and its allies, to protest his land

"This hate program by Britain and her fellow racists imposed unjustified
sanctions on Zimbabwe in futile attempts to frighten us off our land," he
said. "They should remember we are not that easily scared away," he said.

The Economic Empowerment Act requires "indigenous Zimbabweans" to hold a
minimum 51 percent stake in every business and public company, and to have a
controlling stake in every investment or company merger.

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Mugabe admits for first time hunger exists in Zimbabwe

Monsters and Critics

Mar 9, 2008, 20:11 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - President Robert Mugabe has admitted for the first
time that famine exists in his country.

'There is hunger in the country and a shortage of food,' he was quoted as
saying in the state-controlled weekly Sunday Mail.

He was responding at a rally at the weekend in the arid district of Plumtree
in western Zimbabwe to appeals from regional governor Angeline Masuku and
local ruling party functionaries who, according to the newspaper, had
'pleaded' with Mugabe 'to ensure the speedy distribution of food in the
province as people were running out of food.'

Observers say the admission is unprecedented as Mugabe has previously
dismissed reports of famine as 'Western propaganda.'

In 2006, when questioned in an interview about a critical shortage of maize,
the national staple, he said: 'We have heaps of potatoes.'

Sunday, Mugabe admitted that there were food shortages not only in the
chronically dry western provinces of Matabeleland, but also in areas in
eastern Zimbabwe.

International aid agencies have been feeding about 4 million people.

Following a summer season of record heavy rains that washed out crops,
followed by almost a month of no rain in the critical growing season for
maize, experts fear shortages may be worse than ever before.

Zimbabwe had a reputation as 'the breadbasket of Africa,' with regular
surplus harvests of grain that were drawn on to supply aid agencies feeding
famine stricken countries elsewhere in Africa. However, the country's
agricultural industry began to collapse in 2000 after Mugabe launched a
lawless campaign to drive the community of about 4,500 white farmers from
their land and replaced them with ruling party functionaries.

Output by the country's agricultural industry has fallen since then by 70
per cent.

Mugabe said Sunday a total of 530,000 tonnes of maize had been ordered from
neighbouring countries, but due to 'logistical problems,' only 30,000 tonnes
had been delivered.

Zimbabwean government officials had been despatched to Lusaka, Zambia, to
help load onto rail wagons, because, he said, Zambian workers were 'taking
their time' on the job 'as they did not understand the severity of the
problem in Zimbabwe,' he said.

He also promised that trains carrying maize on the southern railway route
from Zambia would be authorized as an emergency measure to stop at sidings
on the way to offload food for local communities. Mugabe's government
declared this summer cropping season to be 'the mother of all agricultural
seasons,' and claimed it had ample supplies of seed, fertilizers and fuel
for farmers.

However, a report issued jointly by the government and UN agencies last week
admitted that there had been severe shortages of all three commodities and
that only 14 per cent of the targeted growing area had been planted.

Human rights agencies have reported that Mugabe's government maintains tight
control over supplies of food and when it delivers supplies to
famine-stricken areas, opposition supporters are routinely denied food,
until they switch allegiance to Mugabe's ruling ZANU(PF) party.

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Mugabe in massive vote-buying handout of tractors, buses, cattle

Monsters and Critics

Mar 9, 2008, 16:12 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has handed out
millions of US dollars worth of imported brand new agricultural equipment,
vehicles, generators and cattle in what critics said was a massive
vote-buying exercise ahead of elections this month.

Simultaneously, the state media reported Sunday that 84-year-old Mugabe,
seeking to add another five years to the presidency in his 28 years of rule,
had signed into law new legislation that demands that all public or
white-owned companies ensure that the majority shareholdings in their
businesses are owned by blacks.

Presidential elections on March 29 - to be held simultaneously with
parliamentary and local government elections - pit Mugabe against his former
finance minister, Simba Makoni, trying to win large-scale defections from
Mugabe's ruling ZANU(PF) party, and pro- democracy leader Morgan Tsvangirai
of his faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Already churches, human rights organizations and Western diplomats have
warned of 'ominous signs' of attempts by Mugabe to rig the poll.

On Saturday, according to the ruling party-run Sunday Mail, Mugabe presided
over the distribution of 300 40-seater buses, 500 tractors, 20 combine
harvesters and a range of other modern farming machinery, as well as 50,000
ox-drawn ploughs and thousands of other peasant farming implements, 5,000
electricity generators, 3,000 mills for grinding maize, 680 motorcycles and
100,000 litres of diesel.

Mugabe said at the ceremony that the goods were part of an agricultural
mechanization programme that would 'consolidate the gains of our land-reform
programme,' a reference to the lawless and violent eviction of over 4,500
white farmers and 300,000 farmworkers' families from 2000.

The seizures were followed by a crash of what was regarded as Africa's most
robust agricultural industry that supplied food to scores of famine-stricken
African nations.

The newspaper did not say who received the goods, but in two similar
handouts last year - where 25 million US dollars worth of farm equipment was
distributed - the recipients have been identified mostly as cabinet
ministers, legislators and ruling party bosses. Human rights groups say they
have evidence that the manual implements were given out in peasant farming
areas only to people who could produce ruling party cards or chant ruling
party slogans.

'Your vote will ensure you benefit from the agricultural mechanization
programme,' Mugabe said last week.

'This has more to do with vote buying than with agricultural production,'
economist John Robertson said.

Local press watchdog the Media Monitoring Project Sunday referred to 'the
now endemic ruling party donations' meant to influence voters into
supporting Mugabe.

No mention has been made of the cost of importing all the goods, or where
the effectively bankrupt government found the hard currency. Zimbabwe, in
1998 with the second highest GDP in sub-Saharan Africa, is in its ninth year
of economic catastrophe, with inflation running at 100,000 per cent, the
currency worth just one ten- thousandth of what it was a year ago and GDP
down 70 per cent of its value.

The value of the equipment and vehicles was 'heavy stuff,' Robertson said.
'They must have paid cash because no-one anywhere in the world will give us

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Mugabe sees votes in black ownership law

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: March 9 2008 18:40 | Last updated: March 9 2008 18:40

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has signed into law the country's
indigenisation legislation, empowering the state to take over control of
foreign- and white-owned businesses. The move comes just three weeks before
presidential and parliamentary elections that Mr Mugabe is favourite to win.

The indigenisation law was approved by parliament in September but the
timing of the presidential assent suggests the ruling Zanu-PF party sees it
as a vote winner. In the past week, the state-controlled media have stepped
up its attacks on the opposition, accusing Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change, and independent candidate Simba Makoni, a
former Zanu-PF finance minister, of planning to return land to dispossessed
white farmers.

In its editorial, the state-owned Sunday Mail said that in gazetting the
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, the ruling party had sent a "a
clear message that its path to prosperity is through empowerment of the
indigenous people of this country". The law provides that foreign-owned
companies and those owned by people who were not disadvantaged during
colonial times (whites and Asians) must sell 51 per cent of their shares to
indigenous (black) Zimbabweans.
Business leaders had hoped that the prolonged delay in gazetting the
legislation meant that the government had had second thoughts after months
of warnings from business of the potential dire consequences of wholesale

But political analysts believe that the legislation would be used to win
votes, in exactly the same way as the land takeovers were used for political
gain in previous elections in 2000 and 2002. Lawyers say that as it stands,
the legislation is full of holes and could be challenged in the courts.

But they warn that because so many of the government's powers are
discretionary rather than rule-based, it will be able "cherry­pick" which
companies to take over. It could, for instance, decide against taking over
ferrochrome manufacturer Zimasco, which is now Chinese-owned, while going
ahead with takeovers of western-owned businesses such as Rio Tinto in
mining, or Barclays, Standard Chartered and Stanbic in banking, or Old
Mutual in insurance and asset management, or BAT in cigarette manufacture
and tobacco processing.

On the campaign trail Mr Mugabe portrays his party as the only true
"revolutionary" party, committed to defending his government's expropriation
of white-owned land and his plans to use similar tactics against the
manufacturing, mining and financial sectors, should he retain the presidency
on March 29, as most observers expect.

Businessmen, reluctant to be quoted, believe that for both mining and
industry, the indigenisation threats have more to do with winning votes on
March 29, than with what the government would really do after the poll.

They hope that once the election dust has settled, Zimbabwe will revert to
business as usual.

But that is exactly what the white farmers thought in 2000 and 2002 - so
much so that many of them obediently transported their workers to the
polling stations to vote for Mr Mugabe, only to discover that they had
seriously miscalculated.

Most businesspeople appear inclined to vote against Mr Mugabe, preferring
what many see as the comfortable "crony capitalist" approach of Mr Makoni.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

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Analyst Says Zimbabwe Heading For Another Stalemate


By Akwei Thompson
Washington, DC
09 March 2008

All three presidential candidates in the Zimbabwean elections have launched
their campaigns for elections scheduled for the end of this month. The
newcomer is Simba Makone who broke away from Zanu PF to challenge Robert
Mugabe. The other challenger is Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main
opposition party, MDC.

A change in the political climate is partially attributed to the dialogue
between ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC. The talks were mediated by South
Africa.  But Analyst say that, despite some improvements in the political
climate, there are already indications that these elections will not be seen
as free and fair by Western countries.

Sydney Masamvu, a Senior Analyst with the Southern Africa project of the
International Crisis Group, told  Nightline's Akwei Thompson that the Makoni
defection underlines the implosion in the ZANU-PF. "There is a deep seated
disgruntlement about the continued leadership of Robert Mugabe," he said.

Masamvu said "Makoni's cross appeal and his entry into the political arena
will cause.the realignment of voters.,"

Mugabe's decision to not invite Western countries to observe the election,
Masamvu said, "underlines the fact that, we are actually heading for another
stalemate, where this election will be condemned as flawed by the western
community which is not invited."

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Police chief rallies his men ahead of elections

Zim Online

by Lizwe Sebatha Monday 10 March 2008

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe police chief Augustine Chihuri has cancelled leave for
officers and recalled those already on vacation to beef up numbers, two
weeks after telling the opposition they would be shot if they staged
Kenyan-style violence after month-end elections.

Chihuri - a supporter of President Robert Mugabe and whose officers are
accused of human rights violations - has directed that police could go on
vacation only after the March 29 presidential, parliamentary and local
government elections.

"We have been told that leave and off days would only be approved after the
elections," said a police officer, who did not want to be named because he
did not have permission from his superiors to talk to the press.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the leave ban, which he said was
normal practice in times where maximum manpower is required.

"It's very normal and procedural for police officers to be recalled back
from leave or to be denied leave whenever the situation arises," said

"Members of the police force would be allowed to take their leave after the

Chihuri, who has banned the carrying of machetes, axes, bows, arrows and
other traditional weapons like those used by rioters in Kenya, told the
opposition two weeks ago that the police had permission under the law to use
firearms to crush riots.

At least 1 500 people died and tens of thousands have been displaced since
December 27, when post-election violence erupted in Kenya after allegations
of vote rigging.

Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain, faces his
sternest political test in a presidential race against expelled ruling
ZANU-PF party politburo member Simba Makoni and old rival Morgan Tsvangirai
of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.

Analysts say an unfair political field that favours Mugabe means he cannot
lose the ballot despite an acute economic and food crisis gripping Zimbabwe.

But they say the veteran leader may fail to get the 51 percent of the vote
required to win outright and could be forced into an embarrassing second
round run-off against either Makoni or Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline

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MDC election candidate missing

Zim Online

by Ruziwo Manyeruke Monday 10 March 2008

HARARE - A Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) election candidate in
Rushinga has been missing since last month after he filed nomination papers
to stand on the party's ticket in this month end's election.

Edison Muwengwa, a council candidate for the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, was
last seen on February 15 when he went to file his nomination papers at
Rushinga council offices where the nomination court was sitting.

The MDC's director of information, Luke Tamborinyoka, told ZimOnline at the
weekend that ruling ZANU PF party supporters in Rushinga had issued several
death threats against Muwengwa for daring to stand for the opposition in the
council elections.

Rushinga, which lies on Zimbabwe's northern border with Mozambique, is a
stronghold of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party and has been declared
a "no-go" area for the MDC by the ruling party.

"Efforts by the Muwengwa family and the MDC leadership in the (Mashonaland
Central) province to locate him have been in vain since last month.

"This has been worsened by the failure by the police to take action in
following on the leads that have been provided by the family as well as the
party," said Tamborinyoka.

ZimOnline was unable to independently verify the MDC candidate's
disappearance or get immediate comment on the matter from the police.

Tamborinyoka said three days before the nomination process last month, ZANU
PF supporters, led by one Shingi Runhare, stormed Muwengwa's home and
threatened his family over his decision to stand for the MDC.

The ZANU PF supporters then came back at night and ransaked Muwengwa's house
destroying property estimated to run into several millions of Zimbabwe
dollars. Muwengwa escaped unhurt during the attack.

Tamborinyoka said the next day, Runhare ordered villagers in ward 20 to
attend a ZANU PF rally where he told the gathering that the ruling party was
going to "fix" Muwengwa for representing the MDC.

Two of Muwengwa's relatives, Chengai and Zivanai Chapenya, were also
assaulted during the rally after they were accused of supporting Muwengwa's
election bid, according to Tamborinyoka.

Zimbabweans go to the polls to elect a new president, parliament and local
council on 29 March.

Human rights groups and the MDC say a repressive political environment
marked by intimidation and organised violence against perceived government
opponents renders the elections not free and fair.

Zimbabwe's elections since 2000 have been marred by violence mostly blamed
on Mugabe's supporters as the veteran leader seeks to keep discontent in

Mugabe, who is seeking a fresh five-year term that could take his rule to 33
years, denies charges that he uses violence to retain power insisting that
he has won previous elections fairly. - ZimOnline

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Exiled Zimbabweans told to go back home and vote

Zim Online

by Simplicious Chirinda Monday 10 March 2008

JOHANNESBURG - The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) pressure group
yesterday hosted a musical show in Johannesburg, South Africa, to encourage
millions of Zimbabweans to go back home and vote in the 29 March election.

At least 300 exiled Zimbabweans attended the mid-day show that was held at
Windbrow Theatre in Joubert Park as part of the civic group's voter
education campaign ahead of the landmark elections at the end of this month.

CZC media programme officer, Nixon Nyikadzino, told the crowd that it was
crucial for millions of exiled Zimbabweans living in South Africa to go back
home and determine the political destiny of their country.

"I want to urge all of you here to go back home and vote. Use whatever you
can, if you believe in prayer go and pray, if you believe in your ancestors,
call on them to help rescue the country," said Nyikadzino.

Among the musicians who took part in yesterday's show, dubbed "Rock the
 Vote" concert, were Sandra Ndebele, Knox, Snipper, Sam Mtukudzi, Willom
Tight and the dance outfit, Mambokadzi.

At least three million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the country's 12 million
population, are living outside the country the majority of them in South
Africa after they fled hunger and political repression at home.

The exiled Zimbabweans, many of whom are believed to back the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, could be barred from
voting after Harare rejected opposition demands to allow postal votes.

Several Zimbabweans who spoke to ZimOnline yesterday said they would be
willing to go back home and vote if their employers in South Africa gave
them time off to participate in the elections.

"I would definitely go if my employer gives me time off. My only fear is
being targeted by ZANU PF thugs in Mberengwa, the area where I come from,"
said Cleopas Mangena who said Mberengwa saw some of the worst acts of
political violence during the bloody 2000 parliamentary elections.

CZC is a coalition of human rights groups, churches, women's group and
student movement that is campaigning for a democratic settlement of Zimbabwe's
eight-year crisis.

Zimbabweans go to the polls at the month-end to elect a new president,
parliamentarians and local government representatives amid concerns by human
rights groups that the electoral playing field was heavily tilted in Mugabe's

Mugabe is facing his biggest electoral test during the elections when he
squares off against his respected former finance minister Simba Makoni and
popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe's rebel artists target Mugabe

Zim Online

by Tafirei Shumba Monday 10 March 2008

HARARE - Young rebel artists calling themselves Chabvondoka are singing
hard-hitting music agitating for political change in Zimbabwe in an album
just released entitled House of Hunger that attacks President Robert Mugabe's
style of rule.

Chabvondoka is popular street lingo for explosion and is commonly used in
reference to nasty situations.

Band leader and song writer, known by his stage name Comrade Fatso, told
ZimOnline: "Virtually all tracks on House of Hunger are stinging music based
on people's history of life under President Mugabe and the ruling ZANU PF

Timed to coincide with the electioneering period, now in full swing ahead of
the combined presidential and parliamentary elections this month-end, the
album takes sharp glimpses on the lives of struggling masses from the
battered opposition political activists to vendors, jobless youths, poor
workers and the homeless.

Mugabe, 84, in power since independence from Britain in 1980 and one of the
few surviving of Africa's old style "Big-man" rulers, is blamed for the
worsening political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe with the highest rate of
inflation in the world at over 100 000 percent.

The 12-track album is an embodiment of an emerging culture of music by young
Zimbabwean artists fusing poetry, hip hop, afro beat, jazz and chimurenga to
produce a militant genre of music and dance called toyi-toyi.

Chimurenga music is a genre of liberation war based songs popularized by
freedom fighters during the days of Zimbabwe's 1970s war of independence
while toyi-toyi dance was popular by anti-apartheid fighters in South

House of Hunger is a direct political theme representing the agony of the
ordinary Zimbabwean, who besides food, yearns for democracy, justice,
equality and freedom - all fundamental human principles missing in this
southern African nation ruled with an iron-fist by its octogenarian leader.

Popular dub poets Outspoken and Godobori feature on the album.

The lyrics in the album, unveiled last week to the news media at the
Mannenberg Jazz Club and Theatre, do not usually come as brazen as in the
track Wonderful Africa.

Here Comrade Fatso condemns political "bootlickers who sing and dance for
the powerful.who sing and support the oppressive leaders".

Said Comrade Fatso: "In Wonderful Africa I condemn the brainwashed people to
stop being redundant by groveling over the names of the Mugabes, the
Mandelas and the Nkrumahs.

"I am saying people should move on to another political level and see things
from a new perspective and reflect on the real issues obtaining today rather
than being stuck with the past and all its rhetoric. Yes, political change
is overdue in Zimbabwe."

The name of the album is taken from a novel of the same title penned by the
late award winning Dambudzo Marechera, an eccentric Zimbabwean author whose
thrust in most of his writings was the struggle for black emancipation and
mental freedom.

But in Comrade Fatso's own House of Hunger the artist sees things
differently: "While Marechera took on the Rhodesian regime, I am taking on
the Zimbabwean regime.we want to break this house of hunger that is Zimbabwe
and what better time to launch a political album in March and just before
the crucial elections."

Whether House of Hunger will reach its intended key music audiences - the
masses - is in big doubt. The sole State radio and television stations do
not play material critical of the ruling class more so anything that appears
directed at Mugabe.

Major record shops are now hesitant to sell the directly hard-hitting music
after security agents believed to be the State spy Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) recently forced a city centre jazz club, whose owners
asked not to be named, to remove from their record shelves Hugh Masekela's
Everything Must Change that calls on President Mugabe to go.

Comrade Fatso and Chabvondoka can only sell the album clandestinely away
from the prying eyes of the State agents.

Aka Samm Farai Manro, Comrade Fatso was a finalist in the local Artists for
Human Rights Awards last year together with Leonard Zhakata and Thomas
Mapfumo both artists whose critical music remains banned on State radio and
television. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe clings to hope of Mugabe defeat

09 March 2008
 Scotland On Sunday

By Barry Bearak
in Harare, Zimbabwe
ROBERT Mugabe has run Zimbabwe for so long that his presence is like specks
of pollution in the air, taken in with every breath. Gladys Sithole can
barely recall her country without him, this inescapable "old man", as she
calls him, with godlike powers and inhuman failings.
A mother of three, Sithole was once a bookkeeper in a dry cleaners, but jobs
like that have mostly vanished. She is a street pedlar now in a collapsed
society, where annual inflation of 100,000% melts money into nothing, and
essential commodities are so scarce that bars of soap are sliced up to be
sold by the chunk and cooking oil is traded by the tablespoon.

A presidential election is scheduled for March 29, and Sithole said she
hoped this time Mugabe would finally lose. Now 84, he is a former guerrilla
fighter who has led the nation since independence in 1980. "Mugabe was a
hero of the liberation struggle, sure," she said. "But now there is an even
bigger struggle, the struggle to survive, and he is killing us."

She may conceivably get her wish. Mugabe is burdened not only by Zimbabwe's
continuing misery but also by two formidable rivals. One is Morgan
Tsvangirai, a well-known opponent with trade union support. He won 42% of
the official vote in 2002, when inflation was a mere 139%. The other is
Simba Makoni, a former Cabinet member backed by influential figures in the
governing party itself. These dissidents are no longer willing to wait for
Mugabe's death to initiate the succession.

Could this actually be the end for one of the world's most enduring and
complicated political figures, by most accounts a ruthless, vengeful man,
revered and reviled, who has presided over an epic economic debacle? If
Mugabe did somehow lose, would he withdraw quietly? Would disputed elections
propel Zimbabwe, like Kenya, into chaos and killing?

"With the vote split three ways, I don't think Mugabe can win without a
runoff, and in a runoff there's no reasonable way he would get a majority of
the votes," said Sydney Masamvu, a senior analyst for the International
Crisis Group, a nonprofit organisation that seeks to prevent deadly

But this assessment presumes a fair election, and in Zimbabwe those who cast
the votes are not nearly as important as those who count them. It is widely
believed by election observers that Mugabe stole the contest in 2002.

This makes the inclusion of Makoni, 57, intriguing. He was the nation's
finance minister from 2000 to 2002 and served in the politburo of the
governing Zanu-PF party - the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front - until being drummed out last month for his rebellious run for the

Though only a few senior party members have endorsed Makoni publicly, some
analysts say he has the tacit allegiance of several in the military and
intelligence hierarchy, the same types Mugabe has relied upon for trickery
at the polls. Some wonder whether phoney ballots might now be more equitably

"Makoni arises from the discontent within Zanu-PF, so the system is now
divided against itself," said Jonah Gokova, a leader of the Christian
Alliance, a collection of civic-minded religious groups. "Some suggest that
if rigging goes on, it will be for Makoni rather than Mugabe."

The campaigning has just begun in the nation of fertile plateaux, its
north-west tip the site of the spectacular Victoria Falls. For an
octogenarian, Mugabe does not lack vigour. Square-jawed, fists clenched, he
appears quite fit in his finely tailored suits. His speeches may ramble, but
they also sting.

He calls his opponents witches and charlatans and tools of the West. He
refers to Makoni as a prostitute without customers, and since the government
controls most of Zimbabwe's media, these remarks are repeated ad infinitum.

Mugabe may live grandly in a 25-bedroom mansion in the suburbs of H

arare, but he knows most of his compatriots barely eat a meal a day. Last
week he tried to pacify the restive army rank and file with a windfall pay
raise. Crowds at Zanu-PF rallies are often rewarded for their attendance
with cornmeal and sugar.

But these sops are secondary to Mugabe's more muscular stratagems. In past
elections, youth brigades were set loose on political opponents, and such
patterns of intimidation continue.

Two weeks ago, nine members of the Progressive Teachers Union - perceived to
support Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change - said they were
dragooned from the streets and beaten with lead pipes in a Zanu-PF building.
"Only an idiot would believe Mugabe won't win the election, and by win, I
mean steal," said Raymond Majongwe, the union's secretary general, still
nursing a bruise above his left eye that he said was inflicted with a Coke

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Time for cool heads to prevail in Zimbabwe

Mmegi, Botswana
 Friday, 7 March 2008


Persecution, violence, pestilence, corruption, plague, economic breakdown
and death of all kinds and causes. Yes, you find all that in Zimbabwe today.

And you also find it in Chapter 6 of the Book of Revelation! While I grapple
with trying to understand it, the little that I comprehend leaves me
immobilized, frightened and utterly defeated.

Admittedly, Chapter 6 of the Book of Revelation was prophetic to our country
of Zimbabwe in that it talks about these negative outcomes as "represented
and delivered" by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The above list from Revelation is exactly what we have in Zimbabwe today;
complete with four contestants, each claiming to be the long awaited savior
of the nation.

I am horrified that we have to hold an election under such circumstances and
still believe that they will, somehow, be free and fair.

I am not at all happy about these elections. Zimbabwe is trying to build on
loose soil. The situation does not allow for such important an exercise to
be undertaken.

What is the use of running faster if we are going in the wrong direction?
COSATU spokesman, Patrick Craven, told SWRadioAfrica on Wednesday that no
one can claim not to know by now, that SADC is facing a serious problem
arising from the political and socio-economic crisis facing Zimbabwe.

"With the Zimbabwe elections to be held on 29th March, what stands out clear
is that the conditions for elections militate against free and fair
elections," Craven said.

We hardly have anything appetizing on the ballot to choose from. Mugabe is a
non-starter. His record terrifies humanity.

He talks about experience yet being president requires neither experience
nor education.
Africa has seen people, from bus drivers to medical doctors become

From illiterates, lawyers and carpenters to peasants and boy soldiers, they
all have taken their turn with African countries. Even schoolteachers,
rebels without any causes, farmers and ex-convicts became presidents. Anyone
can do it. From army generals, murderers and embezzlers to poets, bishops
and, ah, even my own brethren, journalists! They have all ruled an African
country at one time or other.

The job of being president does not need academic qualifications. If one
claims experience in running a country, they have overstayed their welcome

It's safe to say post-high school education can be an added disadvantage.
Why waste time going to school when you can be president?

Mugabe has had 28 years to disgrace himself while destroying the country and
the people. His selfishness has provided criminal elements to commit crimes
in his name. Even our war veterans, people we should revere, have been
abused, starved, made destitute and hijacked by Mugabe.

We no longer have any economy. We have the land but cannot feed ourselves.
Our education has become a laughing stock. What we have are 28 years of
disaster, misery and mayhem, not to mention deaths and corruption.

If I were Mugabe, I would go underground, never to show my face. But the old
goon wants to hang around to finish off the remaining population.

Mugabe's negative impact on Zimbabwe is a matter of public record. While it
is to take Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to represent the four powers of
Strife, War, Famine and Death, Mugabe has achieved the carnage all by
himself, single-handedly!

History will never forgive us should we leave him in State House for an
extra hour after the expiry of his current term.

Meanwhile, had it been much earlier than 2008, I would have been the first
to embrace Simba Makoni, just like I did when I embraced Edgar Tekere when
he challenged dictator Mugabe in 1990.

'Two-boy' Tekere had the courage and conviction to challenge Mugabe when
Mugabe was at his strongest. Tekere led the nation in resisting Mugabe's
intentions of turning the country into a one-party state.

"A one-party state was never one of the founding principles of ZANU-PF and
experience in Africa has shown that it brought the evils of nepotism,
corruption and inefficiency," Tekere said at the time.

Then he disappeared and up to this day, many believe that he was used,
albeit willingly, as an electoral decoy to help Mugabe to be re-elected.
This suspicion was strengthened by the fact that he, of all people known to
have opposed Mugabe, Tekere is the only one who was left well alone with
quite a degree of freedom to say whatever he liked often commenting
farvourably on opposition politicians with no consequences or repercussions.

Now, standing on the podium with Makoni, his and Mugabe's protege, Tekere
told Zimbabweans last Sunday, "I am appointing myself principal campaigner
for Mugabe's downfall."

If that week-old statement were true, why did he not assist others, like the
MDC, to topple Mugabe in 2002? Was he afraid that he and ZANU-PF would lose
control of the situation unlike in the Simba Makoni case where old ZANU-PF
stalwarts are in control of the young man's progress?

And this is why I am most concerned about Makoni. Who really is he? Why does
he love ZANU-PF so much that he cannot say anything bad about it in spite of
the atrocities it has committed?

Is it expediency so that he might confuse and benefit from ZANU-PF's
structures in both rural and urban areas? Why is he bringing to us not only
failed politicians but many who failed to distinguish themselves before?
What really does the nation gain from people like Ibbo Mandaza or those
"ZANU-PF heavyweights" rumoured to be privately backing him?
Like I have said so many times before, I would have gladly embraced Makoni
but his loyalties, friends and history intimidate me. I feel like I am still
in the ZANU-PF dungeon. If only he could distinguish himself apart from
Mugabe and the notorious ZANU-PF...

If only he could prove his independence from ZANU-PF...if only he could show
what is different about himself...

Surely, the likes of Tekere, former army man Vitalis Zvinavashe, former CIO
operative and party leader Margaret Dongo, politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa,
and those other ZANU-PF fat cats who are afraid to publicly back Makoni,
can't be good for us. Mandaza, nostalgic of his old ZANU-PF ways, has
already started threatening the media anticipating running Zimbabwe. How

On my part, some people urge me to offer an alternative to what we have.
That is hardly my responsibility. Zimbabweans are not fools. Criticising a
candidate is my way of vetting the man out since people will discuss both my
writing and the candidate. This, hopefully, will result in the strengthening
of their support for the candidate or in their turning to another one. Maybe
even in "none of the above."I offer my opinions to provoke debate. It is
also true that, today what's on offer is below par. However, what I can
assure those who are urging me to stand by one man is that none of them
really impresses me.

Zimbabwe is too good for them and clearly the nation deserves better yet we
have to do something under the circumstances. We are hungry for change and
that might prove to be our undoing.

Because, regrettably, Zimbabweans cannot keep running. We will just have to
stop and confront the seven-headed demons or else we stand to lose our
country. Have Zimbabweans sunk so low that we are insulted by Mugabe for 28
years and remain powerless to chuck the old goat away? I will not be able to
vote myself; thanks to Robert Mugabe and his paranoia towards those in the
so-called Diaspora!

"We in Africa are used to not having free elections," said a forlorn Lawal
Salihu, of Kaduna State, Nigeria, on the BBC. "My country is suffering from
the same illness (that of rigged elections like in Zimbabwe). May God bless

*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer.


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Letters from Roy Bennett and David Coltart

The Editor

Cape Argus,

Attention: Mr Chris Whitfield

Dear Sir,

I have read the letter published in the Cape Argus on the 17th February 2008
written by my friend and colleague Roy Bennett in which he accused
Zimbabwean Presidential candidate Simba Makoni of complicity in various
crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Mugabe regime because of his
association with Zanu PF.

Both Roy Bennett and I served in the BSAP, the Rhodesian Police force, in
the 1970s during the civil war fought by ZANLA and ZIPRA against the
Rhodesian Front government. Whilst there were undoubtedly atrocities
committed by the guerrilla armies, the BSAP played a major role in
maintaining white minority rule and during the course of the war torture was
also systematically used by the BSAP against captured guerrillas and their

Despite the fact that we served in the BSAP, we were both elected to
Parliament in 2000 by an overwhelmingly black electorate who were prepared
to forgive us for the fact that we were members of an institution which had
prolonged white minority rule and the oppression of black people. I have
always been humbled by the deep reservoir of forgiveness and goodwill shown
towards me by black Zimbabweans, who were prepared to look beyond my past
and who were prepared to judge me on my more recent record.

Likewise the miracle that unfolded in South Africa in the early 1990s
occurred because Nelson Mandela and the ANC were prepared to forgive the
National Party and leaders like F.W. De Klerk for their role in apartheid.
Much of that spirit of forgiveness stemmed from the fact that Mr de Klerk
was prepared to humble himself by giving up the trappings of power and to
turn away from the evil past of apartheid. The combination of the spirit of
forgiveness, on the one hand, and the turning away from evil, on the other,
contributed greatly to the healing that took place in South Africa in the

Zimbabwe is in a similar place of distress as South Africa was in 1990. Our
problems are so grave and seemingly intractable that we will not be able to
save our land unless all responsible and patriotic Zimbabweans display a
similar spirit of forgiveness and turning away from evil.

It is in that context that Roy Bennett's attack on Simba Makoni is so
unfortunate. He accuses Makoni of being complicit in the Gukurahundi
genocide, the Murambatsvina atrocity and other human rights violations,
through his silence. He blames Makoni for the fact that he is unable to
return from exile and for the fact that SADC norms and conditions have not
been implemented in Zimbabwe.

What is undeniable is that Simba Makoni has been in Zanu PF since
independence but that alone does not make him complicit. In my capacity as
Director of the Bulawayo Legal Projects Centre in the 1980s and 1990s I
played a leading role in the investigation and reporting of the Gukurahundi
genocide which culminated in the publication in 1997 of the report "Breaking
the Silence" by our parent organisation the Legal Resources Foundation.
Simba Makoni was never implicated in the Gukurahundi. Indeed our
investigations revealed that it was perpetrated by a relatively small cabal
around Robert Mugabe. Many even in the military itself did not know exactly
what was planned and what happened.

As regards Murambatsvina the facts are that Makoni resigned, in an
unprecedented and brave act, from cabinet in 2002, well before Murambatsvina
took place. We also know that the reason he resigned was because he
disagreed with a host of Zanu PF policies. We also know that he has fought a
lone battle within the Politburo trying to reform Zanu PF from within. In
the past year he has spoken out publicly against Zanu PF's abuses including
the shocking torture of Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders in
March last year.

We may criticise him for staying within Zanu PF for so long but it is an
unjustified cut to say that he has agreed with all that has happened in
Zimbabwe since independence. Even if I am wrong in my assessment of Makoni's
past, what we know for certain now is that he has broken from Zanu PF in an
astonishingly brave move. His manifesto indicates that he stands for the
right things, including national reconciliation and a new democratic

In my view this courageous move should be supported, not criticised. Now is
the time for us all to display the same degree of forgiveness afforded Roy
Bennett and me by black Zimbabweans. The quid pro quo is that Simba Makoni
must show that this is a genuine turning away from Zanu PF's evil past - but
I think he has already demonstrated that through his actions and words of
the last few weeks.

Now is also the time for all patriotic Zimbabweans to work together to bring
Robert Mugabe's ruinous and brutal dictatorship to an end.

Yours sincerely,

David Coltart MP





This letter was written in response to the letter attached below written by
Roy Bennett

To: The Cape Argus

Attention: The Editor Mr. C. Whitfield

MDC Bennett: Slam Makoni


Unfortunately when Peta Thornycroft allows her personal animosity towards my
political party and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai to completely distort
objective comment, the valued integrity of the Independent Group of
Newspapers is jeopardized.

On Sunday 10th February, this lack of objectivity was there for all to see.
Pointedly in the Sunday Times a sober, unemotional assessment of the current
crisis in Zimbabwe was presented in a brilliantly balanced article written
by a brave group of Zimbabwean non-aligned activists.

Independent Paper Group by contrast, thrust forward the discredited notion
that our party should throw in the towel in favour of Simba Makoni and
abdicate our responsibility to our supporters.

By your own admission Makoni has been a loyal, long standing member of
Zanu-PF's politburo. His record is there for all who care to see. He was
silent at the time of Gukurahundi and his overall backers are all the key
perpetrators of that massacre. He was complicit and silent at the time
rampaging mobs ran through our High Court rendering the rule of law
obsolete. He was silent when the Daily News was shut down and the owners and
employees were hounded and humiliated. Makoni even sat in on political
discussions and never once raised his voice when defenceless Zimbabweans
were rendered homeless, in that shameless act of cruelty Operation
Murambatsvina. He was silent when business leaders were assaulted and small
businesses bankrupted through price controls.

The time for opportunism is not now. The MDC and their people have suffered
the brunt of the same regime that through a defend power project of which
Makoni was part of, have made the environment ripe for the pickings, as
every man and his dog wants change. Makoni and his own are seeking a soft
landing for ill gotten gains and human rights abuses, and are now attempting
to believe in a need for change.

Our party have one message for Zimbabweans. They know very well which
political party's leaders have suffered with the people in our quest to rid
Zimbabwe of Zanu-PF. They have full knowledge of the marginalisation and
victimisation and the need for a national integration where one day we can
all say an Ndebele can be president. The MDC and its leaders have been
murdered, tortured and imprisoned and yet would still win the support of the
majority of Zimbabweans in a genuinely free vote. If that is not self
evident, and Zanu-PF/ Makoni are confident of victory why do they refuse to
implement the SADC, Mauritian declaration, of norms and standards?

Why do Zanu-PF/ Makoni refuse to allow me to return to Zimbabwe, when
everyone knows that a prerequisite for the resolution of the South African
political crisis was amnesty for a range of politicians such as the late Joe
Slovo, Chris Hani etc? Rigged elections remain rigged elections. The
Zimbabwe crisis will only be resolved when genuinely free and fair elections
Rigged elections remain rigged elections. The Zimbabwe crisis will only be
resolved when genuinely free and fair elections are held and are confirmed
as such by a credible body of international observers.

Yours sincerely,

Roy Bennett

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Opposition MDC Party Dismiss Independent Candidate as 'Fake'


Accuse the West of trying to 'confuse' the Zimbabwe electorate in the
joint March 29 elections

Qhubani Moyo

     Published 2008-03-09 11:44 (KST)

BULAWAYO -- Zimbabwe independent presidential aspirant and former ally of
President Robert Mugabe, Simba Makoni was yesterday dismissed by the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by Morgan
Tsvangirai as a 'fake product' sponsored by Western governments out to
confuse the electorate in the joint March 29 elections.

"We know that there are Western embassies behind the Makoni project. It is a
false project that will fail and will not work," Tendai Biti, the Tsvangirai
led MDC secretary general told a gathering of about 8000 supporters at the
party's rally held in Zimbabwe second biggest city, Bulawayo, White City

Biti's comments are the second time that a top MDC official dismissed Makoni
as a project of the western governments. Ironically, the ruling Zanu-PF
party dismisses Makoni as a Western-sponsored party out to push for regime

"Makoni is zhing-zhong who is out to confuse the electorate and people must
not be fooled," Biti added.

Zhing-zhong is a word used by Zimbabweans to describe cheap quality goods
from China, main allies of President Mugabe.

The country was flooded with cheap quality goods from China after Mugabe
looked to the Far East following fallout with Western countries over the
government's gross human rights abuse. Mugabe denies charges of human rights

Makoni, who was a member of Zanu-PF's inner politburo cabinet, surprised
many when he announced that he would challenge Mugabe in the March 29
presidential poll to be held together with senate, house of assembly and
council elections.

Makoni's bid drew fierce criticism from ruling Zanu-PF members who resorted
to using hate language and insults. President Mugabe went on to further
describe Makoni as a political prostitute and an inflated frog.

But Makoni has said that he will not respond to the insults and the hate
language aimed at him by his opponents.

Addressing the same rally in Bulawayo, Tsvangirai told the gathering that
Zimbabweans should desist from personalizing the election process. The
founding MDC president said people should vote for issues.

"It is not about personalities but issues and policies that you will have to
choose that will solve the crisis in the country," said Tsvangirai.

Mugabe, who has ruled the country since 1980 when the country attained
independence, is seeking another sixth term of office on March 29 that will
see him extending his 28 year old rule to 33 years, a figure which is almost
the life expectancy rate for Zimbabweans

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A man with self-respect would give up

9th Mar 2008 17:43 GMT

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

THE other day, walking out of the bank in Harare with a huge bundle of
notes, I was accosted by a young man with a bunch of plastic bags. He
offered me one, not saying a word.

I gratefully took one of the bags and asked him how much was the damage. It
turned out to be his first sale. So, we walked to a corner of the building
where a group of other young people stood purposefully as they sold
cigarettes, matches and sweets.

He gave me my change and I stuffed the notes into the plastic bag,
thankfully. I walked away feeling safely out of  harm's way. He returned to
his post

For a frightening moment, while the teller handed me the notes, I had had
recurring visions of the days a few months ago when you had to queue at the
bank from five am and then left, at ten am or even later, empty-handed or
with enough money to buy, not all your groceries, but a loaf of bread, a
small packet of sugar on the black market and a piece of meat being sold in
the open, outside a butchery.

Phew! Those days are behind us. What confronts us now is an equally
bewildering array of challenges, one of them being why on earth would we
return this government and this ruling party to power?

Even if, for one insane moment, we conceded that the so-called sanctions
were responsible for even one tenth of the problems we are facing, why would
we forgive this government for plunging the country into such squalor?

Moreover, Zanu PF itself is not making any pretence of presenting a platform
in which it extols its own virtues and persuasively confronts us with the
logic that we would be absolutely stupid not to give them another chance.

President Robert Mugabe, giving himself a punishing schedule of election
rallies in the sticks, seems determined the people should hear his message,
loud and clear.

That message, unfortunately, is extremely boring. "Sovereignty" has been
mentioned repeatedly. Twenty eight years after independence and seven years
of the end of our days of uninterrupted prosperity, we are being reminded to
guard our independence by voting for this same party and this same president
who have brought us so much misery.

Perhaps there is a dearth of elementary information on democracy and the
purpose of elections. Or perhaps our information is confined to what happens
in a totalitarian system, such as in Cuba, China or even Russia, under the
semi-communist regime of Vladimir Putin.

Free and fair elections, it can now be concluded, are a rarity around the
world. Just as people fought and died for their liberation it would seem
that they must sacrifice their lives again for free and fair elections.

In Zimbabwe for a change, we have heard news of opposition rallies on the
state electronic media. We have actually watched opposition leaders
haranguing their supporters. When I saw one or two such footages, it
reminded me, sadly and suddenly, that we no longer have independent TV
stations, as we had before Jonathan Moyo came on the scene.

I also came acrosss information that civil society organizations trying to
flight advertisements to do with the elections in the state newspapers were
told Nix. This conforms in general to the attitude of a paranoid regime.

In fact, the truth would deem to be that Zanu PF, the government and Mugabe
himself are acutely aware that there can be no logical reason for anyone,
including their own dyed-in-the-wool supporters, to return them to power
this year.

They know they have messed up big time: there is massive corruption at every
level of the government. The top people themselves are engaging in foreign
currency rackets, illegal fuel sales and other equally illegal activities.

They have all come together to decide how they can continue to prosper in
this manner and still retain power. Sadly, they must have concluded that
"everything will be permissible". In the language of this "party yeropa",
this includes everything from kidnapping to murder, apart from the
occasional bashing of opponents.

As the 29 March approaches were are bound to see more and more people being
bashed, with very few others being held responsible legally for such acts of

What really frightens most of us is that the time may come when the "bashed"
decide it is time to "bash back" and if our situation deteriorates to the
level of the Kenya post-election scenario, then Zanu PF, the government and
Mugabe must know who to blame.

Or are they waiting for just such a reaction, after which they would unleash
a wholesale campaign of violence against the people?
You must think of this terrifying prospect when you consider how Zanu PF
seems to be breaking up into little pieces right before Mugabe's eyes.

Before he finally owned up, Simba Makoni had told Mugabe he had no such
plans to defect. Dumiso Dabengwa did exactly the same thing. Later, for
reasons which remain unexplained, two more Zanu PF bigwigs, reportedly on
the verge of jumping ship, turned up at a Mugabe rally in their province.

One of them was Dzikamai Mavaire, a former ally of the late Eddison Zvobgo.
The other was the man known during the war as Sheba Gava aka Vitalis

Before we get to the elections, there are likely to be more defections,
unless Mugabe has put in place such watertight measures of revenge against
them none of them is willing to risk losing everything they have built under
his patronage and tutelage.

In many ways, Mugabee is trapped in his own self-created world of

He has been allowed, over the years, to believe that he is omnipotent,
omniscient. Most people with latent dictatorial tendencies are susceptible
to such misconceptions, not only about themselves, but also about the people
who they believe idolize them.

Laurent Kabila learnt the final lesson the hard way, when one of his own
so-called loyal bodyguards did him in. To many observers of Mugabe's long
tenure in office, he could be the victim of such fatal self-delusion.

They believe that if he has any self-respect left, it would be wise for him
to step down gracefully and let the chips fall where they may.
He had a grand opportunity to do this at Goromonzi and at the December
extraordinary congress, but people with their own self-serving interests
persuaded him to stick it out.

If we go into the elections with Zanu PF being led by Mugabe, there could be
humiliating rout for the party and its president as well.
There is always the likelihood that the rigging is already underway and it
may be too late to call off the perpetrators.

But the question now is; what if the so-called riggers are themselves part
of the plot to sabotage Zanu PF and  Mugabe? Mugabe must be aware that once
there are such wide cracks in his party, there is no telling how deep the
rot goes.

A leader with a shred of self-respect would avoid the prospect of the final
humiliation by stepping aside now.

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MDC court bid over voters' roll

From The Sunday Tribune (SA), 9 March

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has resorted to Harare's High
Court to try to get an electronic version of the voters' roll for the March
29 presidential and parliamentary elections so he can check that all voters
are legitimate. The negotiations President Thabo Mbeki mediated between
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling Zanu PF
produced amendments to the Electoral Act, enabling any interested party to
buy an electronic version of the voters' roll. In previous elections the
state only had to produce a printed version of more than five million names,
which made checking identity numbers almost impossible. In papers submitted
to the court on Friday, Tsvangirai's lawyer Bryant Elliott said the version
handed to Tsvangirai's elections director, Ian Makone, consisted of
photographs of the voters roll in a format that cannot be easily read or
used. "The compact discs provided are materially deficient in various
respects. Each of the pages of the voters' rolls has been printed and then
photocopied, with the electronic photograph copied on to a compact disc.
This copying has been done using a type of software called JPEG image format
or TIFF image format. To attempt to print the entire voters' roll using this
method is an insurmountable task involving far more manpower than is
available, and also involving numerous printing machines working
continuously. Inevitably, there will be breakdowns of the machines and this
is, in fact, what has happened."

Elliott said that during court applications over the last disputed
presidential polls in 2002, the state was able to produce the voters roll on
five compact discs in a matter of minutes. Every constituency has been
changed for the March 29 elections, as the number of contested parliamentary
seats has increased from 120 to 210. In addition, four elections are being
held simultaneously for the first time, including local government
elections. The election laws state that people will only be allowed to vote
at the polling station situated in the ward to which they have been
allocated. With the huge redrafting of constituencies and wards, many people
still have no idea what ward they are in, said Makone. He has demanded that
the electronic version be made available to him within 24 hours of the
application being heard. He has also demanded that the roll be controlled by
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and not left with Registrar-general
Tobaiwa Mudede, who is seen as fanatically loyal to Robert Mugabe. This rule
is also contained in the amendment to the Electoral Act.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 8th March 2008

Singing and toy-toying behind placards reading 'Dignity! Democracy Zimbabwe',
a stream of people joined the Vigil after a rally down the Strand in
Trafalgar Square. The rally was organised by ACTSA (Action for Southern
Africa) on International Women's Day in support of women in Zimbabwe.  Among
the speakers were Lucia Matibenga, Vice-President of the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions, Takavafira Zhou, President of the Progressive Teachers
Union of Zimbabwe and Maureen Kademaunga, Gender and Human Rights Officer of
the Zimbabwe National Students' Union.

Vigil Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani took to the stage singing and dancing along
with Vigil supporter Mercy Mwakipesile. But the musical stars were Lucky
Moyo and his group.  Lucky (of Black Umfolosi fame) joined us at the Vigil
afterwards and his magical singing drew in many passers-by including a
policeman who sat in his car in the middle of the road to listen to our
music. He said it was wonderful.

The three Zimbabwean speakers also joined us and helped make it a special
occasion.  Our supporters greatly valued the opportunity to speak to them
and hear their views in the run-up to the elections.

We were also glad to have with us Martin Karando of the Zimbabwe Solidarity
Campaign in Belfast. He had broken his journey to attend the rally and be
with the Vigil.  The Campaign is to have a photographic exhibition on
election violence in Zimbabwe on 15th March.

As election fever hots up we are being joined by more journalists keen to
get background material including the French and German news agencies AFP
and Deutsche Welle. A reminder: there will be a meeting after the Vigil on
15th March to discuss our plans for the election Vigil on 29th March.

We were happy Lucia Matibenga agreed to talk to us at a specially-arranged
meeting after the Vigil. More than 60 people attended and were deeply
touched by her talk. She warned us that there was no way the elections could
be free and fair.  Everything had already been skewed in favour of Zanu-PF.
But she said the struggle for change would continue whatever it took.  Ms
Matibenga spoke of the importance of outside pressure and support  and said
when she got the Zimbabwean newspaper she turned first to the Vigil diary  .
. .  and looked at the pictures.

We are pleased that a Vigil of Prayer for Zimbabwe is to be held at
Southwark Cathedral in London on 28th March, the eve of the elections.
Prayers will be said hourly from 2.30 pm until 8.30 pm, and on election day
there will be a special Eucharist at 9.15 followed by a time of prayer until
11 am.

With the ever deteriorating situation at home, we report another sad death.
Vigil supporter Yvonne Fombe's mother died on Friday. We grieve with her.

For this week's Vigil pictures:

FOR THE RECORD: 243 signed the register.

·   Monday, 10th March 2008 at 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
The speaker is Geoff Hill, author of 'the Battle for Zimbabwe' and 'What
happens after Mugabe'. Geoff will give us a pre-election briefing. Venue:
Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing
Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
·    Saturday, 15th March 2008.  Vigil meeting to finalise plans for
our mock election on 29th March.
·   Saturday, 15th March 2008, 10 am - 12 noon. Photographic
Exhibition on "Elections: a violent event in Zimbabwe" organised by the
Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign. Contact: Apolonia Mbondiya (02890640533 or
07770854444). Venue: TWN, Unit 10B, Weavers Court, Linfield Road, Belfast.
·   Saturday, 22nd March, 1pm. Easter Zimbabwe debate organised by
Albert Weidemann at Scarborough Library.
·   Friday, 28th March, 2.30 - 8.30pm. Vigil of Prayer at Southwark
Cathedral on the eve of the elections. Saturday, 29th March, 9.15 am.
Special Eucharist followed by a time of prayer until 11 am. If you wish to
lead one of the prayer times on Friday afternoon, please contact Canon
Andrew Nunn 0207 367 6727. (The Diocese of Southwark is linked to the
Anglican dioceses of Manicaland, Matabeleland and Central Zimbabwe.)
·   Saturday, 29th March 2008, 6 am - 6 pm: Zimbabwe Vigil's diaspora
polling station and mock ballot.

Vigil Co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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The 'Black Russian' changes sides

Mail and Guardian

Mail & Guardian reporter

09 March 2008 06:00

      Dumiso Dabengwa, the senior Zanu-PF member who has rebelled
against President Robert Mugabe to back Simba Makoni, says the ruling party
needs reform to save Zimbabwe from "falling into the wrong hands".

      "This is a rescue operation," Dabengwa said after appearing with
Makoni in public for the first time.

       According to Dabengwa, "the wrong hands" would be any
non-Zanu-PF-led government that takes power based on Zimbabweans'
frustration with Zanu-PF's inability to reform itself and allow new party
leadership to end the economic crisis.

      "The people could vote in anger, in frustration over Zanu-PF,
and the country could fall into the hands of someone who would leave us
worse off," he said, denying Mugabe's charge that Makoni's campaign had
received Western funding.

      Dabengwa said he had failed to garner enough support from fellow
members of the politburo to pressure Mugabe into leaving office, "which is
why we have now taken this route".

      He said that, with Solomon Mujuru, long said to head a faction
opposed to Mugabe, he had tried to meet Mugabe in an attempt to stave off a
split. But Mugabe ignored their pleas.

      Mujuru himself has declined to discuss the matter with the
media. His wife, Vice-President Joyce Mujuru, has publicly backed Mugabe.

      Dabengwa was one of the liberation war's radical campaigners,
and was head of intelligence in Joshua Nkomo's Zipra guerrilla army. He is
still known as the "Black Russian", a name he earned after his KGB training.

      In 1982, he was among dozens of Nkomo's top lieutenants jailed
by Mugabe, who alleged they were plotting against him. A court ordered their
release for lack of evidence, but Mugabe invoked emergency laws and threw
them into detention for four years. Dabengwa was later appointed home
affairs minister after Mugabe signed a unity deal with Nkomo.

      In the 2000 general election, Dabengwa lost to an MDC candidate
when he stood for Zanu-PF in a district of Bulawayo. But he remained in the
politburo, Zanu-PF's top executive, where he has clashed with Mugabe in
recent months.

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Code of Conduct

It is useful for the general public to know what is not allowed during an election campaign and election.  If you become aware of any such conduct, please contact your candidate or lawyer or ZEC, or all three.  It sounds like some candidates and campaign teams are already guilty - check it out!
Please pass this information on to others, far and wide. Thank you.
Trudy Stevenson MP

133B Intimidation

This involves force or threat – fine up to level 14 or 2 years imprisonment or both.
133C  Preventing political party or candidate from campaigning
Fine up to level 10 or 5 years prison or both.
133D Theft or destruction of voter identification
Fine up to level 6 or 1 year imprisonment or both.
136 Bribery
Vote-buying: fine up to level 7 or 2 years imprisonment or both.
137 Personation
Voting twice, or in place of another person or when not entitled: Fine up to level 7 or 2 years prison or both.
138 Additional Penalties for corrupt practices
Any person convicted of corrupt practice is also declared incapable of voting or filling public office for 5 years.
Code of Conduct - Fourth Schedule
No political party, candidate, member or supporter may –
a)Harm or threaten to harm others participating in an election;
b)Use language or act in a way that may provoke violence or intimidation;
c)Publish false or defamatory allegations about a party, its candidates, representatives or members;
d)Discriminate on the grounds of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, class or religion in connection with an election or political party;
e)Damage or deface property, including the election posters, placards, banners and other election material of another party or candidate;
f)  Bar or inhibit access to meetings or to voters for the purpose of election campaigning;
g)Carry or display weapons at political meetings or at matches, demonstrations, rallies or other public political events;
h)Bribe or threaten a voter to vote for a particular candidate;
i)  Force a voter to reveal the identity of the candidate voted for;
j)  Disrupt the work of election officials at a polling or counting centre;
k)Campaign or display campaign material within 300 m of a polling station or counting centre.

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Judge rules jail interview with Dog of War Simon Mann can be broadcast

Daily Mail, UK
Dog of War Simon Mann to name ministers in Africa coup plot
By IAN GALLAGHER - Last updated at 23:40pm on 8th March 2008


Channel 4 has won a legal battle to broadcast an interview with a mercenary in which he sensationally names British political figures, including Ministers, alleged to have given tacit approval to a plot to overthrow an oil-rich African state.

In testimony that could prove highly damaging to the Government, former SAS officer Simon Mann talks 'frankly' about the events leading to the botched attempt to topple Equatorial Guinea's president.

On Friday, Channel 4 dramatically overturned an injunction preventing it from transmitting the interview.

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simon mann

Channel 4 has won a legal battle to broadcast an interview with mercenary Simon Mann in which he sensationally names British political figures involved in the Africa coup plot

It is not clear exactly how much of the footage the broadcaster intends to screen, or when, but one source close to the case warned that "it will probably cause many people sleepless nights in the meantime".

The resolution of the extraordinary legal wrangle in the High Court in London last week served only to raise questions about why it was fought in the first place.

It was initiated by Anthony Kerman, a lawyer acting on the 'general instructions' of Mr Mann's wife Amanda, but not the former SAS man himself.

Among the key questions raised by the action is why Mrs Mann should seek to silence her husband, especially when naming names could well, as Equatorial Guinea has suggested, be his ticket to freedom.

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Opening up: In exclusive pictures obtained by The Mail on Sunday, Simon Mann is seen laughing and joking with interviewer Jonathan Miller. He appears to be in good health and the jail is obviously clean and hygienic

And would it not be better to keep him at the forefront of the public conscience by allowing the broadcast, which shows him looking well?

The Mail on Sunday has obtained exclusive pictures taken during the interview, in which Mann appears fit, healthy and in good humour, laughing and joking with Channel 4 News's foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller.

The prison is clean and freshly painted, and although Mann is shackled and handcuffs, his jailers have taken care to wind cloth around his leg irons so the metal does not rub against his skin. They have also removed his shoelaces, for fear he could use them to hang himself.

Amanda Mann, wife of jailed mercenary Simon

It is understood Mrs Mann became aware of the Channel 4 interview only after it had taken place, when the broadcaster approached her for an interview. But she refused, and contacted Mr Kerman, who immediately began legal proceedings.

Mr Kerman is a close associate of Ely Calil, a Lebanese financier and oil trader with a £100million fortune, whom Mr Mann names in the interview as one of the men who funded the coup.

In turn, Mr Calil is linked to EU Commissioner Peter Mandelson, who was drawn into the murky affair when he was alleged to have privately met Mr Calil and another businessman accused of backing the coup, just weeks after it was thwarted.

It was Mr Calil who offered his West London flat to Mr Mandelson when the former Northern Ireland Secretary was embroiled in the scandal over an undisclosed loan from fellow Minister Geoffrey Robinson.

Mr Calil has consistently denied any involvement in the attempted coup and in November 2004 a spokesman for Peter Mandelson said: "Mr Mandelson categorically denies ever speaking to Mr Calil or to anybody else about the coup."

Mr Calil has also denied discussing it with Mr Mandelson.

Despite Friday's victory, Channel 4's legal battle may not yet be over, as it is understood that Mr Calil is seeking his own injunction against the interview.

Mr Justice Eady heard representations from his lawyers in the High Court last week – but told them he wanted to hear the Mann versus Channel 4 case first.

Britain and America are long thought to have known about the plot in advance. In 2004 Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary, was forced to retract Foreign Office claims that the Government had no advance warning.

There is speculation that the claims made by Mr Mann may force Scotland Yard to revive its own inquiry into the affair, not least because it is widely thought the plot was hatched in London.

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Anthony Kerman sought an injunction on the instructions of Amanda Mann

Mr Mann is also said to heavily implicate Sir Mark Thatcher in the plot, alleging his role extended much further than has previously been suggested.

Sources close to the case revealed last night that ITN had written to Sir Mark, asking him to comment on these claims but he is understood to have refused on the grounds that he had already made a full statement to the South African police and now regards the matter as closed.

A spokesman for Sir Mark said last night: "As we have not seen the programme, we cannot possibly comment."

Mr Mann was arrested in Zimbabwe in March 2004 when he and 68 South African and Angolan mercenaries arrived in Harare on a Boeing 727, allegedly en route to Equatorial Guinea. The aircraft was due to be loaded with £100,000 worth of arms.

Mann was convicted of breaching Zimbabwe's immigration laws and had served almost four years in jail before being deported to Equatorial Guinea, where he is being held in the notorious Black Beach prison. His wife has said he was effectively "kidnapped".

What is also puzzling about this increasingly complex affair is Mrs Mann's willingness to engage in a bizarre slanging match with the Equatorial Guinea government.

She has repeated unsubstantiated claims about President Teodoro Obiang Nguema threatening to "personally sodomise" her husband and skin him alive.

"It was like a dagger to my heart when I heard he was in Black Beach jail," said Mrs Mann. "One of the things that fills me with fear is that they will beat the living daylights out of him, that it could be happening as I speak, or that there will be one of those 'accidents' that happen in these places."

President Obiang has hit back through his ambassador to London, Agustin Nze Nfumu, pointing out that Mrs Mann has "never approached any Equatorial Guinea request access to Simon Mann".

In an interview last month Mrs Mann explained why she has never been to visit her husband in prison.

She said: "I've never gone to Zimbabwe because Simon did not want me to. He did not want our love to be shattered by the emotional pain we would both suffer if I saw him in jail. And what if something happened to me in this unlawful country [Equatorial Guinea]? I have four children who need their mother."

It has further been claimed that Channel 4 has been 'used' by Equatorial Guinea.

Mr Mann's family say the former soldier, who has always denied involvement in the plot, has not made such claims about Mr Calil and others before, and could not have consented to the interview, although Channel 4 insists it was carried out "in accordance with his wishes".

Initially his family sought, and were granted, an injunction banning the broadcast. But their legal team "shifted its position" on Friday after Mr Mann's sister Sarah and brother Edward returned from Equatorial Guinea after visiting him in jail.

They are said to have brought back a letter from Mr Mann in which he asked for the interview – which was conducted two weeks ago – to be broadcast.

Mr Mann has always insisted he was only providing security for the diamond industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the time of his arrest. But he was sentenced to seven years' jail in Zimbabwe, reduced to four years for good behaviour.

He fought attempts by Equatorial Guinea to extradite him, but his appeal was rejected in January, on the eve of his release, and he was sent to Black Beach.

Last year, Mr Mann was reportedly offered a deal by the Equatorial Guinean government in which he would be allowed to go home if he named those behind the 2004 plot.

Mr Mann now faces a trial over the coup plot next week, during which government-appointed judges will almost certainly find him guilty. But the appointment of a local lawyer to his case last week brought fresh hope of his release – no matter what the outcome in court.

Attorney Ponciano Mbomio Nvo suggested the Equatorial Guinean president would face "international pressure" for Mr Mann's release. He added: "The President has said he has no interest in keeping Mr Mann after the judgment is made."

Channel 4 refused to make any comment after the injunction was lifted. But before the hearing, a spokesman said:

"We would not be intending to broadcast this interview if it were not in accordance with Mr Mann's wishes. This is responsible journalism on a matter of significant public interest."

Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of former Prime Minister Lady Thatcher and an old friend of Mr Mann, was fined £265,000 and received a suspended four-year prison sentence in South Africa for helping finance the alleged coup.

But he escaped jail thanks to a plea bargain in which it was accepted that he "unwittingly" helped bankroll the attempt.

Sir Mark was a neighbour of the Manns in Constantia, an affluent suburb of Cape Town, to which the Manns moved in 1999, after Mr Mann had already established himself as a mercenary.

Along with British financier Tony Buckingham he had set up Executive Outcomes in 1993. Two years later – the same year that he married Amanda – he set up Sandline International with Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer.

It was an enterprise that supposedly made the men £5.6million shipping arms to Sierra Leone, in direct contravention of the UN embargo.

Simon's ventures also bought the Manns a Palladian mansion in Exbury, Southampton. Amanda already owned a flat on London's fashionable Portobello Road, Notting Hill – insurance, she once joked, "against a man letting me down".

Yet in the months, before the alleged coup attempt, Mann confided in a neighbour that, in spite of his fortunes, he did not feel that he had "enough money to live on". Or at least, perhaps, not in the style to which he and his wife had become accustomed.

During their time in South Africa, Mr Mann forged a close friendship with Mark Thatcher. Sir Mark positively "hero-worshipped" Mr Mann, according to his former wife Diane. He had always, she said, "been a bit of a soldier wannabe" himself.

At first the Thatchers believed that Mr Mann was "just a soldier" and that his tales of derring-do in Angola and with the SAS were things of the past.

"Then it came up in dinner conversation that he was a mercenary," Diane said. The seed for the future failed endeavour was planted.

While Mann has always denied that his presence in Zimbabwe in 2004 was part of an attempted coup, he has never presented any evidence to support his case.

At the same time, evidence against him and his team, in the form of documents and statements by participants have, insiders claim, revealed the whole plan in fine detail.

More intriguing, if less conclusive, is the evidence against the alleged financiers of the attempt to place exiled president Severo Moto back in charge of Equatorial Guinea. Which is where Ely Calil, friend of Mark Thatcher and a known supporter of Moto, returns to the picture.

Seemingly convinced of his role in the plot, Equatorial Guinea is already attempting to pursue Mr Calil through the courts for his substantial fortune.

Soon after Mr Mann's arrest South African police intercepted a letter to his wife which supposedly included a "Wonga list" naming Smelly (a nickname for Calil) and Scratcher (code for Mark Thatcher) among many other alleged financiers.

But immediately after the coup attempt, no police action was taken against the alleged plotters who remained in London.

Eventually an investigation was launched by the Anti Terrorist Branch but, with the 7/7 and 21/7 terrorist attacks on London, resources were pulled on to those investigations.

Inquiries were further hampered by problems obtaining documents held by South Africa, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea and Spain.

Should Mann now speak openly about his financial backers, it would be a compelling reason to restart the police investigation.

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