The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Zimbabwe Presidential Elections - Day One March 9 2002.

Newsletter from Southern Support Centre
The following reports were received by telephone and can not be immediately verified.

Reports are coming in from all over the country of the incredible numbers of voters who have turned out to cast this most important vote in our Country's history.

Projections show voting up by 36% in Bulawayo South on the 2000 elections and in the Bubi-Umguza constituency on Day One of polling, figures are running at about 50% up on the 2000 election figures.

Promising surveys are predicting record turnouts.

Matabeleland South

In Gwanda an MDC driver was abducted and badly beaten on Thursday evening, his vehicle has been recovered but War Veterans continue to hold the keys.

By 11 p.m. Thursday night 6 vehicles destined for Insiza had not returned.  No one was answering any phone lines at all for Zimbabwe Republic Police at Gwanda and Filabusi , and the Fort Rixon police station was manned by a young constable who said there was no one else available at the station!! Two of the vehicles had been stoned but no serious injuries were sustained, and by 9 a.m. all vehicles had been accounted for, one of them having covered 550km.

At Vembe High School in Beit bridge officers were reported as registering Zanu card holders and allowing them to vote at the same time.

In Gwanda farm workers were ordered tby the Presiding Officer to proceed to Jesse Mine to cast their votes , only to find there was no polling station there. On their return in the early afternoon to Gwanda they were told they could not vote until the next day.

A Bulawayo resident made the misguided but kindly gesture of handing out water to thirsty voters who had been queueing for several hours in the hot sun. He was arrested and detained for two hours at Nkulumane Police Station and was eventually released with a ZW$60 fine, but his water was confiscated !!

In the Bubi Umguza Constituency at Segunda School, the first four pages of the Voters roll were missing,

Although there were several initial accreditation problems , happy and enthusiastic crowds were reported in all areas although voting was slow and laborious.

In Bulawayo South voting eventually increased to an average of 91 people per hour.

In Bulawayo a young man took one look at the long queues and went home to fetch a pair of crutches ! Limping his way to the front of the queue, he cast his vote, and on leaving the premises, threw his crutches away with gay abandon only to be arrested for his ingenuity !!

2 MDC polling agents are still missing in West Nicholson, and agents following Mobile 3 in that area reported irregularities in the mobile movements.

In Bikita 150 Zanu youths were blocking the movements of the polling agents, a situation which has now been resolved. Mwenezi reported a good turnout. The Registrar deliberately diverted all of our agents to delay their deployment. Chiredzi polling agents were initially removed from the booth but later re-instated, the turnout was higher than in June 2000.

Minor incidents are pouring in from all parts of Zimbabwe, unconfirmed reports of ZANU PF youths under the legal voting age of 18 , voting very early at polling stations without having put their hands into the indelible ink. However there are confirmed reports at Khumalo Junior School in Bulawayo of two young men, one 18 and one 16 year old, who cast their votes also without dipping their fingers into the indelible ink.

Matabeleland North
Hwange East was a hotbed of irritations related to accreditation, late into Thursday night and Friday morning with polling agents late or not arriving at all. There were limitations placed on number of polling agents allowed into polling booths, broken ultra violet lights, force had to be used to allow MDC agents to inspect the ballot box at Chewumba primary, voting was stopped when the ink detector did not work and voters were arriving with contaminated hands.

In Hwange West many voters were turned away as unregistered, at Matetsi police radios were used to contact Harare to see who could and could not vote! ! Siapepe Primary had no agents, a few minor skirmishes. and then the voting closed to attend a ZPF Rally !

In Hwange East and West, Tsholotsho and Lupane, villages were empty due to the large turnout of voters at the polling stations.

At Binga's Lubanda Primary School there was a heavy presence of W V and the MDC polling agents resorted to hiding in the bush .
At Mobile 3 Binga MDC Polling agents were allowed in for one hour, then removed. Their voting packs were confiscated by the police.

Lupane at Zinaphi Primary School MDC polling agents were not allowed into the booth. Good turnouts were reported in all other areas.

Masvingo central and urban reported a heavy turnout after the initial admin hassles had been overcome. In Zaka crowds were increasing hourly and the turnout equals June 2000.


Gweru reported all areas basically quiet, turnout was good, better than the turnout in June 2000. Airforce helicopters circled polling booths only to be greeted by a sea of open hands.

Many reports were received from Mashonaland on our Hotlines including thousands of voters roll queries.- At Avondale School in Harare the polling station doors were closed at 1.30 p.m. and still remained closed at 3.30 at the time of the report.
>From the Banket farming area seven farmers were arrested and taken to Banket police station for questioning .
Irate voters phoned the Command post to report that at Rukuzo Polling station in Kambuzuma, it took 20 minutes for the polling officers to complete the procedure with just a single voter !!

Tempers were high at Courtney Selous School in Mashonaland where thousands of people, angered at the slow voting process, pushed over a fence, whereupon police fired rubber bullets and teargas at the crowd and the station was closed for voting. However at Highlands school and Marlborough School voting is apparently continuing throughout the night !!

General - numerous reports of violence, kidnapping and attacks on MDC members including one on an MP in Harare have been received from around the country and it is clear that ZANU PF are using every trick they can think of to try and steal the election.

MDC hierarchy are in buoyant mood over the first day's polling and the infectious optimism gets stronger by the hour.

Throughout Southern Zimbabwe our deployments have gone as well as can possibly have been expected and we look forward to cementing our victory tomorrow.

Well done, good luck and goodnight.

Bulawayo Support Centre
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Dear All,
Those people who have had problems casting their vote in the Byo North East Constituency PLEASE go to either Tennyson Primary School, Old Nic Mine Hall (Coghlan Avenue on way to Killanary) or Woodville Primary School.  
We have had reports that there are no problems in voting at these polling stations - they do not appear to have the "delisted" roll so those who have been refused their vote could try there.  
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Sydney Morning Herald

Face of democracy in Zimbabwe

MDC election monitor Richard Chidziva, centre, and two of his colleagues patched up in Harare after being beaten by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF. Photo: AFP

By Tim Butcher in Bulawayo

Richard Chidziva was the bloody face of democracy in Zimbabwe yesterday. The polling agent observer for the Movement for Democratic Change was first abducted, then beaten and finally held captive by police in yet another example of how the vote taking place this weekend is a long way from free.

On the ground, there was farce and chaos. The discovery of ballot boxes stuffed with votes for Robert Mugabe spilling out of a police car involved in a crash gave the last day of campaigning in Zimbabwe's presidential election an almost comic air.

But few of the country's 5,607,812 registered voters were laughing as they prepared to go to the polls after an election campaign that will be remembered as one of Africa's most murderous and turbulent.

So cruel were the mobs unleashed by Mr Mugabe to bring voters in line that one man was beaten to death by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party simply because his house had decorative mud hand-prints on the walls. An open hand is the emblem of the Opposition MDC and this was enough to cost James Sibanda his life. The mob never stopped to ask his political affiliation. He was a lifelong supporter of Mr Mugabe.

Human rights groups estimate that about 40 people have died since the campaign began. Opposition members believe the number is at least double. The sad truth is that no-one will ever know the exact number of casualties.

Bodies will continue to be found for years to come, half-buried in shallow graves or dumped out in the bush. Huge tracts of Zimbabwe have become no-go areas for normal traffic. Towns such as Nkayi and Tsholotsho were judged by Mr Mugabe's cronies to be disloyal and were subjected to terror on a scale that bears comparison with the Khmer Rouge. The Zimbabwean Army, trained partly by the British and combat-hardened in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was judged not to be sufficiently loyal for the job after some grumbling from the grassroots that perhaps a change of leader might not be such a bad idea. So for the past seven months mobs of "youth militia" have been plucked from the swollen ranks of Zimbabwe's unemployed, given a pocket full of spending money and trained in the dark arts of stealing elections. At camps dotted all over the country these louts have learnt how to beat people without leaving bruises, how to half-drown people in buckets of water and the most effective way to use fear as a political tool. Every approach road leading to Nkayi has been blocked by checkpoints run by these militia for weeks. Cars are routinely stoned or stolen. Ownership of an MDC membership card or even an old copy of the independent Daily News paper can amount to a death sentence. Two elderly white farmers, John and Margaret Sankey, who had sent their workers' identity cards to Bulawayo to prevent them being confiscated - which would have robbed the workers of their votes - were shot at repeatedly as they drove to town. One human rights lawyer estimates that 40,000 crimes have been committed during the campaign. But after endless intimidation of the opposition, blatant massaging of the electoral roll and the subversion of the country's judges, perhaps the most sinister feature of Zimbabwe is the way the police force has done nothing to uphold the law. The look of blank unwillingness to help on the faces of police officers when Zimbabweans, black or white, try to report a crime is perhaps the clearest proof of how rotten Mr Mugabe's rule has become.
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Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 14:13 GMT
In pictures: Zimbabwe votes
People have begun voting in presidential elections in Zimbabwe, where long queues started forming in the middle of the night.

Voters are facing long delays, particularly in the capital, Harare, where votes are also being cast in local and mayoral elections.

Voters queue to vote in Harare
Some 5.6 million Zimbabweans are eligible to vote over two days

Robert Mugabe votes
Mr Mugabe, who has been in power for over 20 years, said he expected to win the election

Voters wait to enter a polling station in Harare
Voters say they are concerned about food shortages, rising prices and unemployment

Riot police keep an eye on Harare voters
Mr Mugabe is accused of using violence and intimidation to fix the results

A woman casts her vote in Harare
Amendments to the election laws and fewer polling stations have slowed down the process

A nun prays at the front of a line
The opposition has called for an extension of the voting period because of the delays

Election official carries a ballot box in Harare
There are reports that polling agents have been harassed, arrested or detained
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Zimbabwe election diary - Day Three
The BBC's Grant Ferrett is reporting on the Zimbabwe elections from Beitbridge, on the South African-Zimbabwe border - since the BBC is banned from reporting in Zimbabwe itself:

Day Three - Saturday 9 March

An unnaturally early start. 5am is not my best time of day. Cheered up (slightly) by the beautiful African landscape in the early morning half-light.

Decide to do first radio interview of the day at our lodge. Proves to be a bad idea. Dogs start barking furiously as soon as the programme comes to me.

Further thrown by first question, which is along the lines of "How does it look?" Tricky one that, being in the wrong country. Not a good start.

Things look up after phoning a few friends and former colleagues in Zimbabwe and hearing first reports of long queues.

Apparently I wasn't the only one who had an early start. Some people were waiting outside polling stations from last night.

Drive the short distance to the portacabins which pass as the BBC office, right next to Beitbridge. The new television live point (where TV correspondents do their interviews) looms over everything. A wood and steel construction, it looks like a launch pad into Zimbabwe, or an execution platform.

Try to phone the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to confirm reports that he'd called for an extension of voting because of the delays.

Get through to a friendly woman who identifies herself as "Susan".

"Oh, Mrs Tsvangirai, I'm sorry to bother you. I'm trying to contact your husband."

Watch television feed of President Mugabe casting his vote: "I will accept the result, more than accept it, because I will have won."

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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 09:48 GMT
Zimbabwe election diary - Day Two
The BBC's Grant Ferrett
The BBC's Grant Ferrett is reporting on the Zimbabwe elections from Beitbridge, on the South African-Zimbabwe border - since the BBC is banned from reporting in Zimbabwe itself:

Day Two - Friday 8 March

Midday - Temperature into the 40s. Who'd have thought that tin foil would be so welcome? The windows on the portacabin offices are now covered, keeping out the scorching sun.

A collective groan went up shortly afterwards, though, when the power failed and the air conditioning packed up.

Looking across Beitbridge and all the trucks rolling into Zimbabwe is tantalising.

The country we should be in is just a few hundred metres away, on the other side of the river, but we're largely confined to sitting and making phone calls.

Watching the television pictures come in provides a reminder of the problems across the border.

Opposition supporters show wounds they say were inflicted by a ruling party militia.

Other film shows queues for food alongside contrasting shots of empty shelves. I notice a couple of street signs close to where I used to live in the north of the capital, Harare.

Back to the phone calls and the familiar recorded message from Zimbabwe: "The circuits on the route you have dialled are all occupied. Please try again later."

Another quotation from President Mugabe, this time in 1982:

"The law of evidence and the criminal procedure we have inherited is a stupid ass. It's one of those principles borne out of the stupidity of some of the procedures of colonial times."

That sounds more familiar.

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The following article appeared in the latest issue of Green Left Weekly
(, Australia's
radical newspaper.


ZIMBABWE: Mugabe relies on repression to survive


The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has
intensified its violent campaign against the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in a desperate attempt to save President Robert
Mugabe's hold on power at the March 9-10 presidential poll.

According to figures released by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum - a
coalition of non-government organisations - since January, 26
Zimbabweans have been killed and 70,000 displaced, most of them MDC

Not a day goes by without the independent Zimbabwe press reporting
assaults, abductions and murders of MDC supporters by gangs of ZANU-PF
militia, especially in rural areas. Several MDC MPs have been abducted
and tortured in separate incidents.

Even MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has not escaped. On at least three
occasions, Tsvangirai's convoy has been attacked by police and ZANU-PF
thugs. In two separate incidents on February 22, cops fired bullets and
tear gas canisters at Tsvangirai's motorcade. Tsvangirai has also been
detained twice by police (not counting when he was charged with treason
on February 25).

In dozens of incidents, MDC offices and vehicles have been torched or
stoned. The homes and shops of known or suspected MDC supporters have
also been damaged or destroyed.

In country towns, and some urban areas, ZANU-PF militia are seizing MDC
supporters' homes and commandeering schools for use as militia "bases".
The MDC claims that there are 146 of these bases around the country from
which several thousand ZANU-PF members are intimidating voters. Entire
rural regions are now "no-go" areas for the MDC.

There are widespread reports of police protecting the perpetrators, only
to arrest the victims if they complain or fight back.

Rallies banned

Using the provisions of the recently passed "anti-terrorist" Public
Order and Safety Act, police have banned anti-government marches and
meetings. As of February 21, more than 50 MDC election rallies had been
banned, the Harare Daily News reported.

On February 15, police violently broke up a peaceful march organised by
the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) democratic rights coalition,
arresting and beating 15 people. On February 16, 11 Christians including
an Anglican priest were arrested in Bulawayo for organising a "Pray for
Zimbabwe" procession.

In stark contrast, around 8000 ZANU-PF supporters were allowed to march
through Harare on February 18 unmolested. After the government
supporters protested outside the British High Commission, they attacked
the headquarters of the MDC with stones.

Police in Harare and Bulawayo - Zimbabwe's two largest cities - also
banned Tsvangirai's final election rallies scheduled for March 2-3.
Police falsely claimed that the two venues had already been booked by

Despite having to run a gauntlet of ZANU-PF thugs and police before and
after, MDC rallies have attracted large crowds. On February 2, more than
15,000 converged on Mutare to hear Tsvangirai. A week later, 18,000
turned out in Gweru. On February 23, 20,000 mobilised in Masvingo.

Mugabe has avoided holding rallies in urban venues where Tsvangirai has
previously appeared, fearing the embarrassment of attracting fewer
supporters. Mugabe cancelled a rally in Mutare soon after Tsvangirai had
appeared there.

In an attempt to reduce the opposition vote, ZANU-PF has introduced a
series of undemocratic laws. New citizenship laws stripped voting rights
from Zimbabweans with one or more non-Zimbabwean parents. Tens of
thousands of black farm and mine workers, whose parents had migrated
from neighbouring countries, as well as many descendants of white
settlers, were disenfranchised.

More than a million Zimbabweans resident overseas - except diplomats and
soldiers - have also been denied the vote, the vast majority being black
Zimbabweans working in South Africa and Britain.

Another measure requires people to vote in their registered
constituency. Tens of thousands of rural workers and MDC supporters who
have fled to the cities will not be able to vote.

In many rural areas, government electoral officers are reportedly
refusing to register known MDC supporters. The government has also
slashed the number of polling booths in urban areas and MDC strongholds,
while those in rural areas and ZANU-PF bastions have increased.

Workers, left targeted

For all Mugabe's radical "anti-imperialist" rhetoric, ZANU-PF is
targeting working-class voters, trade unionists and socialists for
special treatment.

In January, two members of the International Socialist Organisation of
Zimbabwe (ISOZ), the country's only revolutionary socialist party, were
arrested for engaging in political activity. On February 15, Munyaradzi
Gwisai, an ISOZ leader who is also an MDC MP, was arrested at a
demonstration. While detained he was beaten for being the "ringleader".

As in 2000, farm workers and their relatives are being singled out for
attack because their votes will be decisive - they account for around
20% of the electorate. Many farm workers are members of the General
Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union. The GAPWU is affiliated to
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which provided the core of
the MDC leadership.

Teachers and nurses in rural areas are also being singled out by ZANU-PF
thugs because many of them are trade union members and are influential
in rural communities.

ZANU-PF militia gangs are invading rural schools. Teachers suspected of
supporting the MDC are "fired" and forced to leave the area. Dozens of
schools have been closed. The Zimbabwe Teachers Association has
condemned the attacks on its members.

ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe on February 12 condemned "the
political violence being perpetrated on the people of Zimbabwe... It is
every Zimbabwean citizen's right to conduct one's business without fear
of reprisals from other people who do not share the same opinion,
whether it be political, economic or social issues. It is of great
concern to note that the law enforcement agents are not doing enough to
quell this violence and bring the situation under control... In cases
where the police have acted, it seems the law is applied selectively."

On February 20, Mugabe threatened to outlaw the ZCTU because of its
support for the MDC. Tsvangirai resigned as ZCTU secretary general to
become MDC leader.

It was reported on February 21 that suspected pro-Mugabe "war veterans"
had kidnapped the president of the Civil Service Employees Association,
Ephraim Tapa, and his pregnant wife in the Mashonaland East region. The
Tapas are still missing.

Mugabe's strategy

During the latter part of the election campaign, Mugabe cleverly
provoked a dispute with the European Union over the composition of its
team of election observers to bolster his "anti-imperialist"

The Zimbabwe government insisted that the EU's token 150-member team not
include observers from Sweden, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands,
Finland and Denmark. However, it said observers from the other nine EU
states would be welcome. As the designated team leader was from Sweden,
the EU on February 16 declared this unacceptable and withdrew the entire
team. In retaliation, the EU imposed "smart" sanctions on 20 top
Zimbabwe government leaders.

Mugabe's main political strategy to salvage his presidency has been to
try to convince the sceptical rural majority that the long-promised land
redistribution program is finally underway. He has also set out to paint
Tsvangirai as a puppet of the British government and rich white
"colonialist" farmers.

Ever since independence in 1980, Mugabe has cynically manipulated the
desperate land hunger of the rural majority to bolster ZANU-PF support
and head off potential opposition from the left.

Before elections or when trade union or student unrest in the cities
looms, Mugabe has repeatedly promised sweeping confiscations of
white-owned plantations and railed against the privileges of the white
minority. Britain, other Western governments and, more recently, the IMF
and World Bank also feature in Mugabe's demagogic "anti-imperialist"

But once the threat to his power had passed, Mugabe has always privately
made peace with his local white capitalist partners, the Western powers
and their financial institutions.

However, the rural population's mass abstention of the February 2000
constitutional referendum made it glaringly apparent that the Zimbabwe
people were no longer being swayed by the wily leader's empty promises
and ritualistic "anti-imperialist" posturing.

Shocked at the drubbing he received in the February 2000 referendum at
the hands of activists from the recently formed MDC, and with
parliamentary and presidential polls on the horizon, Mugabe ordered the
state-sanctioned occupation of white Zimbabweans' plantations in a
desperate ploy to revive ZANU-PF's fading support.

Threats by Britain, the US and Australia to join the EU in imposing
token "smart" sanctions have little to do with bringing greater
democracy to Zimbabwe. Western countries sit back as authoritarian
regimes throughout Africa repress their own populations - as long as
they don't threaten Western interests.

The imperialists turned on Mugabe - who was their darling for almost 18
years - because they fear that his manipulation of rural Zimbabweans'
thirst for land may go further than Mugabe can control and spark
movements for genuine land reform movement that could threaten Western
economic interests throughout southern Africa.

The increasingly influential and respected ISOZ has opted to give
critical support to Tsvangirai's MDC in the presidential race while
being openly critical of the MDC's political trajectory and retaining
its organisational independence. The ISOZ recognises that the MDC has
overwhelming support among the working class, urban dwellers and in
Matebeleland in Zimbabwe's south.

The left's assessment is that a victory for the MDC will create
democratic space for the labour movement to organise. The left believes
that the Mugabe regime's defeat will enthuse and give confidence to
working-class militants who think that the MDC's politics are much
further to the left than they really are.

The MDC emerged from the militant 1997-99 general strikes and mass
actions by tens of thousands of urban workers, students and unemployed
against the ZANU-PF's austerity policies, imposed since 1990 in line
with the demands of the IMF, World Bank and Western and domestic
capitalist interests.

It also drew strength from the 1998-99 mass movement to democratise
Zimbabwe, led by the NCA, a coalition of more than 150 "civil society"
organisations with the ZCTU and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches at its

However, the MDC leaders have embraced neo-liberal economic policies.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries strategist Eddie Cross was named
MDC economics policy secretary and the MDC has developed friendly links
with plantation owners, which collectively are Zimbabwe's largest
employers. The role and influence of Zimbabwe's labour movement in the
party has been marginalised.

While a Tsvangirai presidential victory will undoubtedly boost the
working masses' formal democratic rights, it is very doubtful that their
economic and social rights, or political power, will be fundamentally

The MDC's willingness to cement an alliance with sections of Zimbabwe's
capitalist class, convince the West it can be trusted and attempt to win
favours from rich farmers mean that it will be impossible for the party
to fulfil the ambitious promises it is making to its overwhelmingly
working-class and poor supporters.

The MDC was born amidst fierce struggles against Mugabe's
authoritarianism and ZANU-PF's pro-capitalist austerity policies. Should
Tsvangirai attempt to impose the same policies, there is bound to be a
reaction within the working class - a reaction that Zimbabwe's left may
be well-placed to lead.

March 6, 2002
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Independent (UK)

Violence and intimidation mar Zimbabwe election
By Karen MacGregor, in Harare
10 March 2002
Zimbabwe election

Violence, intimidation and angry claims by hundreds of thousands of
opposition supporters that they had been obstructed from voting marred the
start of polling yesterday in Zimbabwe's presidential election, the most
fiercely fought election in the country's history.

The Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said last night that voting could
be extended by two days if necessary to allow everyone to vote. The polls
were originally scheduled to close tonight, but there were reports across
the country of people queuing all day without being able to vote, in the
heaviest turnout of any Zimbabwe election. President Robert Mugabe is facing
his toughest challenge in 22 years of power from Morgan Tsvangirai of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Police fired teargas and rubber bullets, wounding 12 people, when a crowd of
about 3,000, frustrated by slow voting, stormed a polling station in
Harare's Kuwadzana township.

Across MDC-supporting Harare, home to 15 per cent of the country's 5.6
million registered voters, long queues at polling stations led to angry
claims that the ruling Zanu PF party was trying to stop people casting their

Yesterday afternoon tens of thousands of people, many of whom had been
waiting all day, had still to vote. There were also widespread reports of
large numbers of people vanishing from a chaotic voters roll. MDC supporters
said they had been turned away from polling stations by police. There was
also news of Zanu PF supporters breaking into one station and stealing
voting materials, and taking over two others.

The MDC claims that Zanu PF activists prevented hundreds of its polling
agents from observing voting nationwide. Mr Tsvangirai accused Zanu PF of
cheating and called for this weekend's voting to be extended by two days.
Zanu PF, he added, was engaging in a "last-ditch effort to stop people from
voting it out of power by ensuring that the voting process in MDC
strongholds is slowed down. The intention is very, very clear but we hope
people will be patient," he added.

After he had cast his vote in Harare's Highfields suburb, the
state-controlled broadcaster ZBC reported Mr Mugabe as saying, that he was
confident of victory but would accept any result. He also attacked Western
countries that he said had already decided the ballot would only be free and
fair if Mr Tsvangirai – who votes on his 50th birthday today – won.

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Voters in violence-wracked rural areas go to polls anyway


NKAYI, Zimbabwe, March 9 — The four young men sat on the grass near a rural
Zimbabwean polling station Saturday, quietly staring at the long line of
       The men had been there since early morning, people at the poll said.
They danced, sang ruling party slogans and told voters to ''remember to vote
wisely.'' Now they simply stared.
       But many of the 150 or so people waiting to vote in the rural town of
Nkayi, the scene of intense political violence, said they would not be
       ''I don't fear anything,'' said Ronnie Dube, a 48-year-old carpenter.
       After complaints from opposition election observers, police forced
the four men to leave the polling station grounds. They simply relocated to
the entrance gate and resumed staring at the waiting voters.
       Nkayi, about 90 miles north of the city of Bulawayo, has been cursed
by violence mainly blamed on ruling party youth militias and soldiers
supporting President Robert Mugabe's re-election bid.
       In the past few weeks, three officials with the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change and an opposition supporter disappeared, said Abednico
Bhebhe, a member of parliament from the area. The supporter was later found
beaten to death, and three bodies were found burned beyond recognition, he
       Ruling party militants regularly set up roadblocks in the area,
beating people who could not produce a ruling party membership card, he
said. At night they abducted people from the area and brought them to
militia camps for beatings.
       Bhebhe took off his hat to show the two-inch scar from where he says
a militant hit him with an ax several weeks ago.
       The attack began, Bhebhe said, when 13 soldiers found he and other
opposition supporters at a gas station, shot at their car, forced them to
lie on the ground and beat them with sticks.
       The soldiers then brought them to the courtyard of the police station
where militants wearing Mugabe T-shirts joined in the beating and one put an
ax in Bhebhe's head, he said.
       The police then arrested the opposition supporters and held them for
seven days, saying they had thrown stones at people at a local store.
       ''I asked them, 'Do you think I'm mad, throwing stones at people who
voted me into power?''' he said.
       Despite the violence, the turnout in Nkayi was probably twice that of
the contentious parliamentary elections in 2000, Bhebhe said.
       The line of would-be voters Saturday wound around the Zinyangeni
school compound.
       It was filled with women knitting, mothers caring for babies and
gossiping men who had been waiting for hours in the hot sun to vote.
       Few would discuss who they were voting for.
       But in a nearly inaudible whisper, Aelina Nyoni, 35, said she would
vote for the opposition in hopes it could end the country's severe shortages
of food, oil, fuel and jobs.
       ''Maybe if we change, it will be better,'' she said.

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ABC News

Calls for More Time as Zimbabweans Queue to Vote

March 9
— By Emelia Sithole

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabweans voted late into the night and
were expected back at the polls at dawn on Sunday in the most acrimonious
presidential election of Robert Mugabe's 22 years in power.

As crowds thronged polling stations in opposition strongholds and police
clashed with angry voters outside at least one of them, the government came
under intense pressure to extend the election beyond Sunday's 7 p.m.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the first person with a chance of
unseating Mugabe since Zimbabwe won independence from Britain in 1980,
accused the veteran president of sabotaging his challenge by hampering
voting in areas where the opposition is strong, such as the capital Harare
and the second city Bulawayo.

Western governments and the Commonwealth of former British colonies have
either imposed or threatened sanctions against Mugabe and his close aides in
retaliation for intimidation and legal measures they believe undermine the

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alleges that 107 people
have died, 33 of them this year, in recent violence caused by supporters of
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.

"ZANU-PF is now engaged in a last-ditch effort to stop people from voting it
out of power by ensuring that the voting process in MDC strongholds is
slowed down," Tsvangirai said after visiting polling stations accepting only
30 votes an hour.


The U.S. embassy in Harare warned Mugabe in a statement: "If the Zimbabwean
government authorities do not take immediate steps to rectify these
problems, they are likely to result in a massive disenfranchisement of urban

Mugabe, 78, said after voting close to his pre-independence home outside the
capital that he was confident of winning.

No reliable opinion polls have been conducted. But many analysts say
mismanagement of the economy, Mugabe's commitment of scarce resources to an
unpopular war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and cronyism have shredded
his support.

The MDC almost matched the ZANU-PF vote in a violent parliamentary election
in June 2000.

Many analysts say a high turnout will mean voters have refused to be
intimidated by Mugabe's militia and the vote is turning against him.

South African officials said buses were pouring across the border into
Zimbabwe, carrying migrant workers home to vote.

Reginald Matchaba-Hove of the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network
backed calls for additional days for voting.

"It is a logistical problem...but there is an element where we feel...that
it is a deliberate attempt to slow the process in those areas where the
opposition has the most support," he said.

Jethro Mpofu, a media studies lecturer at the Zimbabwe Open University, said
the slow vote was an obvious tactic to undermine the opposition: "The ruling
party seems to be trying all kinds of tricks to achieve victory. But I think
these are the last kicks of a dying horse," he said.


The state electoral authority instructed polling stations to stay open
beyond the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time on Saturday to accept the votes of
those already in the queues.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Reuters that voting might also be
extended beyond the 7 p.m. Sunday deadline.

"Everyone who wants to vote, will be allowed to vote. If it becomes
necessary, we will consider extending the voting period," he said.

Zimbabwe Elections Directorate chairman Mariyawanda Nzuwah told a news
conference that measures would be introduced on Sunday to speed up voting
but he said it was too early to decide whether to add a third voting day.

"It is premature for the Elections Directorate to ponder a decision on that
subject today. We will assess the situation tomorrow," he said.

In rural southwestern Zimbabwe, some polling stations were empty by midday,
with polling officers left napping on chairs.

But in parts of Harare, voters were still waiting at 9:20 p.m., more than
two hours after the official close of polling.

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Irish Independent

Militants interfere at Zimbabwe ................ polls

POLLING officials moved at a snail's pace yesterday, despite long lines
filled with restless voters jostling for a chance to cast a ballot in the
most competitive Presidential election in Zimbabwe's history.

President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic
Front faced the greatest challenge ever from former trade unionist Morgan
Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change.

During the campaign, human rights workers and the US State Department
accused Mugabe's government of sponsoring militants who have attacked
opposition supporters and their offices. Police broke up several opposition
rallies and arrested dozens of Tsvangirai supporters in the run-up to the

Civic groups, opposition supporters and witnesses said such violence and
intimidation continued on the first day of voting, with militants breaking
into one polling station and stealing voting materials. Militants also took
over two polling stations and at another, ballots arrived already marked in
favour of Mugabe.

Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980 and has only in recent
years faced significant dissent as the economy has collapsed.

The election comes amid the country's worst economic crisis since
independence. Inflation is over 110 percent, unemployment is 60 percent and
hundreds of thousands of people are going hungry.

The polls open again today and the first results are expected tomorrow.

ANGUS SHAW in Harare

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Yahoo News

Delays, frustration and violence in Zimbabwe poll
By Nicholas Kotch and Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Delays, anger and violence have marked the first day of
Zimbabwe's presidential election and the opposition has accused Robert
Mugabe of causing chaos to steal the vote.

Huge queues built up at voting places after a big turnout in urban
opposition strongholds. Riot police in Harare used rubber bullets, tear gas
and whips to push back frustrated voters trying to force their way to the
ballot boxes.

Twelve people were hurt, two with head injuries.

State-run ZBC radio also reported what it called skirmishes at another
Harare polling station.

The MDC earlier reported 30 of its election monitors were assaulted by
ruling ZANU-PF militants with clubs and broken bottles in Shamva, 75 miles
northeast of Harare, on Friday night, a few hours before polls opened.

Thousands of people were still queuing in some places at the 7 p.m. (5 p.m.
British time) scheduled end of voting on the first day and officials allowed
those in line to carry on casting ballots.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, trying to end Mugabe's monopoly on
power since independence from Britain in 1980, accused him of wholesale
cheating and called for voting to be extended by two days after Sunday's
scheduled finish.

Tsvangirai said the ruling ZANU-PF party "is now engaged in a last-ditch
effort to stop people from voting it out of power by ensuring that the
voting process in MDC strongholds is slowed down."

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Reuters the government might
consider extending voting. "Everyone who wants to vote, will be allowed to
vote. If it becomes necessary, we will consider extending the voting
period," he said.


The U.S. embassy called on Mugabe to take urgent action. "If the
...authorities do not take immediate steps to rectify these problems, they
are likely to result in a massive disenfranchisement of urban voters," a
statement said.

In Harare's Kuwadzana township, where the clash with police occurred, voting
was extended to pacify a furious crowd of more

than 2,000 people, mostly MDC supporters. Some had been waiting for more
than 12 hours.

"I came here at 5 a.m. and I have only managed to vote now. This is very
stupid," one woman told Reuters just before 8 p.m.

Dozens of riot police were on standby armed with automatic rifles.

Senior electoral official Mariyawanda Nzuwah told reporters polling
officials had been instructed to keep stations open until those already in
queues had cast their ballots "even if it means working very late".

Reginald Matchaba-Hove, head of an independent election monitoring
organisation, said only 30 people were voting each hour. "There is an
element where we suspect--there is no proof--that it is a deliberate attempt
to slow the process in those areas where the opposition has the most

Tsvangirai, who campaigned on Zimbabwe's crumbling economy and crippling
food shortages, charges that Mugabe has already used violence, special laws
and dirty tricks to try to avert defeat.

He says there are 80 fewer polling stations in Harare than in parliamentary
elections two years ago, despite a population increase.

The head of Norway's election observer team, Kare Vollam told Reuters: "In
Harare, there are too many voters per polling station and in addition the
process has been too slow. The number of registered voters per polling
station approached 7,000 in some constituencies.


"There have been queues of thousands of people waiting outside for many
hours and with the speed that they started today it is not possible to
process all those voters over two days," Vollam said.

Tsvangirai told reporters: "We are trying to see if we can get an extension.
There is no way we can finish this within two days."

The MDC said ZANU-PF activists had prevented hundreds of its polling agents
from scrutinising voting nationwide.

"As of 10 a.m. this morning we did not have MDC polling agents in at least
52 percent of the rural polling stations," a statement by Tsvangirai said.

Mugabe, voting under heavy security in Harare's Highfields suburb, told
reporters: "I will accept the result, more than accept it because I will
have won."

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Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 19:00 GMT
Delays hamper Zimbabwe poll
A man who waited hours to vote at the Kuwadzana polling station argues with a police officer
Long waits provoked angry scenes
Zimbabwe opposition leaders have accused officials of deliberately slowing down balloting as thousands of people queued to cast their votes on the first day of the hotly disputed presidential poll.

Tempers were wearing thin by the time polling officially ended for the day at 1700 GMT, and at one station in Harare voters angry at the long wait clashed with police.

President Mugabe voting in Harare
Mugabe is widely accused of persecuting opponents
Zimbabwe's Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, told the BBC that the polls could be kept open beyond their scheduled close on Sunday.

President Robert Mugabe is facing a strong challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The authorities said the delays were caused by a surprisingly high turnout and some stations stayed open beyond the official closing time.

But Mr Tsvangirai said that by reducing the number of places to vote in urban areas, where his support is strongest, the government was deliberately trying to undermine his chances.

"The intention, of course, is to ensure that you frustrate as many urban voters as you can," he said.

However, Mr Chinamasa said: "We are guaranteeing everyone the right to vote, and if it becomes necessary we will consider extending."

At some polling stations, where people began queuing in the middle of the night, as few as 60 people an hour were able to vote.


We have just come back from an eight-hour queue to cast our votes in Harare. Our names were on the voters roll as they should have been, which was a relief

Les, Zimbabwe
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At least 12 people were injured when police used batons and tear gas to disperse voters who tried to push into a station in Harare's Kuwadzana township.

Correspondents say last-minute changes to the election laws, changes to the voter register and a reduction in the number of polling stations in urban areas, have slowed the process dramatically.

The 78-year-old Mr Mugabe - who is seeking a further six-year term as president - has dismissed accusations that the changes are designed to improve his chances of winning.


Casting his vote at a primary school in Highfield, a Harare suburb, Mr Mugabe accused the opposition and his international critics of having already decided that if he won, the election must have been rigged.

"It's bias against President Mugabe and bias in favour of the opposition.

"They want to direct events here and they don't want the president of Zimbabwe, the current president, to remain president," he said.

The election is seen as crucial for Zimbabwe's neighbours, as the country's economic crisis has hit regional trade - depriving South Africa of multi-million-dollar foreign investment - and created a new refugee problem.

Zimbabwe votes:
  • Leading candidates: President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai
  • Polling stations open 0700 - 1900 (0500 - 1700 GMT) Saturday and Sunday
  • 5.6 million registered to vote
  • 4,548 polling stations within 120 constituencies

  • Mr Mugabe's opponents say misrule and controversial land grabs by his supporters are largely to blame for the crisis.

    The run-up to the election was marred by violence and reports on intimidation.

    There were fresh reports on Saturday that the government was preventing the deployment of some of the MDC's polling agents at polling stations.

    Almost six million Zimbabweans are eligible to vote, but there is still widespread confusion and concern about how the elections are being organised.

    An independent study found that voter registration lists were in disarray - with as many as half of the nation's voters registered in the wrong districts.

    And the number of international election observers is limited. The head of the South African team told the BBC he had visited six polling stations - out of a total of some 4,500.

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    09 Mar 2002 00:00
    Zimbabwe opposition cries foul on 1st day of voting
    By Nicholas Kotch
    HARARE, March 9 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party cried foul on
    the first day of presidential elections on Saturday, saying its supporters
    were being harassed and prevented from voting across the country.

    At least 12 people were injured by police when anger at the slow pace of
    voting erupted outside a polling station in Harare's western township of
    Kuwadzana, officials said.

    Morgan Tsvangirai, President Robert Mugabe's toughest challenger since
    independence from Britain in 1980, accused the ruling ZANU-PF of wholesale
    cheating and called for voting to be extended by two days.

    In Harare, a stronghold of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
    (MDC), tens of thousands of people were still queuing by mid-afternoon, 10
    hours after polling began.

    Many had arrived before dawn and patience was running thin. Frustration was
    mounting across the city as dusk approached.

    Police fired teargas and rubber bullets at restive voters outside the
    Kuwadzana polling station, electoral officials there told Reuters.

    "The riot police came after some of the crowd tried to force their way into
    the polling station in protest at the slow voting," one official said,
    declining to be quoted by name.

    By mid-afternoon, about 3,000 angry would-be voters were milling around the
    area. Many threw taunts at a detachment of about 35 riot police.

    "We have seen people getting very impatient and angry about waiting in
    queues," Kare Vollan, head of Norway's election observer team told Reuters.

    State-run ZBC radio also reported what it called skirmishes at Kuwadzana and
    at a polling station in nearby Warren Park.

    Zimbabwe state radio said Mugabe had told reporters after casting his vote
    at a school in Highfields, a Harare suburb, he was confident of victory, but
    would accept any result.

    Mugabe attacked Western countries which he said had decided the ballot would
    not be free and fair unless Tsvangirai won.


    "We are trying to see if we can get an extension to the voting days. There
    is no way we can finish this within two days," Tsvangirai told reporters
    earlier outside a polling station where 1,000 people were queuing.

    The MDC said ZANU-PF activists had prevented hundreds of its polling agents
    from scrutinising voting nationwide.

    "As of 10 a.m. this morning, we did not have MDC polling agents in at least
    52 percent of the rural polling stations," a statement by Tsvangirai
    released by party headquarters said.

    "ZANU-PF is now engaged in a last-ditch effort to stop people from voting it
    out of power by ensuring that the voting process in MDC strongholds is
    slowed down," it said.

    All 19 of Harare's constituencies voted MDC in parliamentary elections in
    2000. The capital's 882,176 registered voters this year are 15 percent of
    the national electorate.

    "There has been a reduction in Harare's polling stations from 249 to 167
    (between 2000 and 2002) in a population which has increased," Tsvangirai
    said after he visited polling stations in Harare and the neighbouring town
    of Chitungwiza, where thousands of his supporters were voting at snail's

    "So the intention is very, very clear but we hope people will be patient,"
    he said.

    There were no official figures on the voter turnout by Saturday afternoon.
    Political analysts say the MDC will have to ensure very high turnouts in the
    capital and other big cities to be able to beat 78-year-old Mugabe.

    Two days of voting are due to end at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Sunday.

    (Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka)

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    Times of India

    Leave Commonwealth, South Africa tells UK


    TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ SATURDAY, MARCH 09, 2002  1:31:34 PM ]

    ONDON: Britain is maintaining a stiff upper lip to the ultimate insult of
    them all -– the invitation by South African President Thabo Mbeki to leave
    the Commonwealth organisation it originally set up after it lost its empire.

    In a stinging rebuke clearly directed at the British and New Zealand Prime
    Ministers, Tony Blair and Helen Clark, both of whom criticised the
    Commonwealth's refusal to suspend Zimbabwe at Chogm in Australia last week,
    Mbkei wrote: "Those inspired by notions of white supremacy are free to
    depart if they feel that membership of the association reduces them to a
    repugnant position imposed by inferior blacks."

    Blair's spokesman has responded with a frosty "no comment" and "we are aware
    of the comment," but Mbeki's words are seen to give fresh impetus to those
    who say the Commonwealth is not just an irrelevance in the 21st century, it
    is also a hotbed of racial tension.

    Analysts said the plain-speaking, reactionary Mbeki has merely highlighted
    the stark racial divide within the Commonwealth. The divisions have become
    especially obvious over Zimbabwe, with the 'white' Commonwealth, largely New
    Zealand, Australia and Canada supporting Britain's demand for Zimbabwe's
    immediate suspension.

    African and developing countries, however, have consistently been less
    willing to show Zimbabwe the door, despite increasingly hysterical British
    media reports of wholesale intimidation and blatant election-rigging by
    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe ahead of Sunday’s polls. African states
    make up a third of the 54-nation Commonwealth, which represents 30 per cent
    of the world’s population.

    On Saturday, Mbeki said the outcry reflected "a stubborn and arrogant
    mindset (that) at all times the white world must lead."

    South Asia watchers said the row over punitive action against Zimbabwe was
    an academic one at best, because Pakistan's suspension from the Commonwealth
    after its military coup in October 2000 had little perceptible effect on it.

    But Indian diplomats in London say the Commonwealth remains important if
    only because it is yet another way to keep up the pressure on Pakistan.

    India has been newly inducted as a member of the eight-nation Commonwealth
    Ministerial Action Group, the organisation's watchdog, until next year's
    Chogm in Nigeria. Cmag's brief includes disciplinary matters, such as
    Zimbabwe's suspect elections and the fairness of Pakistan's proposed polls
    in October.

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