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Boston Globe

Loyalty, not race, propels Zimbabwe campaign
Wife of jailed white politician seeks his seat
By John Donnelly, Globe Staff  |  March 13, 2005

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Heather Bennett had never even given a toast at a
private dinner. But on a recent day, Bennett, the wife of a farmer whose
property was seized by armed gangs five years ago, stood trembling before
more than 2,500 people at a campaign rally in eastern Zimbabwe.

Speaking in the local language, Shona, she said she and her imprisoned
husband, Roy, would never leave their impoverished constituents. ''The
Bennetts are here to stay," she declared.

The scene bore no resemblance to the stereotypes of Zimbabwe today. Here was
a white woman addressing a crowd of cheering black supporters, running for
her husband's seat in parliament in elections set for March 31.

And she's the favorite, showing that justice in Zimbabwe is not necessarily
black and white.

Five years ago, many disenfranchised blacks supported President Robert
Mugabe's decision to seize the majority of the 4,000 white-owned farms in
Zimbabwe, arguing that it was long past time for blacks to own more of the
country's property and wealth. Still, voters in the town of Chimanimani that
year elected Roy Bennett to parliament by a wide margin. He had promised to
fight for their concerns.

Now, he is in jail, sentenced to a one-year term by members of the ruling
party in parliament for shoving to the floor Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, who had called Bennett's ancestors ''thieves" who had stolen
land. Many in Bennett's district see the sentencing as a new kind of
injustice. After a judge ruled that Bennett could not run for office from
prison, his constituents turned to his wife to represent them.

She did not want to run, but reluctantly agreed.

''When Roy first ran for parliament, we discussed it together, and we
decided that we were going into it together," she said. ''Plus, Roy still
has all his projects he wants to carry out in parliament," including repairs
to schools and churches damaged from a cyclone four years ago.

Her husband's enduring popularity, she said, ''is one of the things that
infuriates the government. Roy defies everything they try to portray is
happening," she said a few days before the rally, sitting in the manicured
garden of a rented home in Harare, the capital. ''He's a white farmer liked
by labor forces."

In hindsight, the land grabs are not so popular now, as fields lie fallow
and hundreds of thousands of farm workers have lost jobs and homes. Mugabe
recently acknowledged that just 44 percent of farmland was being used.

The Bennetts, whose families had been in Zimbabwe for at least a
half-century, lost almost everything in 2000 -- their 7,000-acre coffee
farm, a $125,000 coffee harvest, their house and their belongings inside,
vehicles, 900 head of cattle, even their children's rabbits and guinea pigs.

And Heather Bennett, five months pregnant, miscarried in May of that year, a
few hours after gangs invaded the farm for the first time. One person held a
machete to her throat and forced her to repeat slogans praising the ruling
party, Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF.

That year, Roy Bennett received 11,410 votes -- compared with 8,072 for the
ZANU-PF candidate -- in an election that, nationwide, was deemed by most
international observers to have been rigged by the ruling party. He was one
of five whites and 115 blacks who won seats in parliament.

His campaign manager, James Mukwaya, said he was not surprised when Roy
Bennett's supporters asked him to enlist Heather Bennett to run.

Mukwaya, who is black, called Roy Bennett ''white in complexion, but his
heart is black. . . . There is nobody who can separate Roy's family and the
people of Chimanimani. That is why the government of Zimbabwe made a very
big mistake arresting Roy, putting him in jail for no apparent reason. Some
people will actually vote on emotion. They say, 'Although you jailed him, we
will elect his wife.' "

David Coltart, another white member of parliament, said that what the
government did to Roy Bennett reminds many of tactics whites used against
blacks before independence in 1980. ''People understand what happened to Roy
is unjust," Coltart said.

Still, it was not easy for Heather Bennett to run for parliament against
Samuel Udenge, a former diplomat who served in Zimbabwe's embassy in London.

She has been living quietly with her 17-year-old daughter, a high school
junior, in a rented house. A 19-year-old son is studying in England. Friends
try to protect her. To meet her, two foreign journalists were asked to
switch cars on the way there -- a precaution in case state security officers
were trailing them.

But inside the security wall of her home, surrounded by her four dogs,
Heather Bennett, 42, seemed relaxed as she slid her pink flip-flops on and
off her feet.

Every two weeks, she said, she is allowed to see her husband for a half-hour
in jail. ''The conditions are absolutely awful," she said. ''They get two
meals a day -- a cup of rice and cabbage stew, which is basically cabbage
and water. Three times a month they get a little bit of meat on their

She said her husband and 14 others share a cell that is 12 feet by 8 feet.
''The guy next to him is dying of AIDS, and he is retching in the middle of
the night," she said. ''Roy says the poverty and absolute desperation of
prisoners is psychologically the hardest thing to deal with."

For Christmas, prison officials allowed family members to bring food, but
she said her husband told her he did not want anything special. ''I brought
a ham sandwich," she said. ''He said he couldn't possibly eat something nice
when no one else has it." Of the 200 prisoners at the northern Zimbabwe
jail, only 20 had visitors on Christmas because most relatives could not
afford bus fare.

Their daughter no longer can bear seeing her father in jail. ''Afterwards,
she sobs and sobs for hours," Heather Bennett said. ''He wrote two letters
to her. They are in her desk. She won't read them until Roy comes out."

Before Roy Bennett's sentencing in parliament, she urged him to leave the
country to avoid jail time. He refused, she said, saying other Zimbabweans
faced far worse yet had no option of leaving.

Heather Bennett is not thinking of leaving now, although she worries about
the impact their plight has had on their children. ''I think everyone,
including us, must ask themselves if it's worth it," she said.

She paused, then answered her own question: ''Yes, it's worth it."

In part, that is because Zimbabwe is their home. And in part, it is because
she thinks life eventually will improve. ''Democracy will come to Zimbabwe
because of the good nature of the people," she said. ''I think this whole
race thing will be put to bed. There's no way evil reigns forever."

But for now, there is campaigning to do -- which means more public speaking.

''I was absolutely a nervous wreck," she said by telephone a few days after
the campaign rally. ''I ended up reading most of my speech. But we were
completely swamped by the people there. They were delighted. It was a
really, really good feeling."

John Donnelly can be reached at

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.
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Yahoo News

      Sunday March 13, 01:27 PM

      Zimbabweans battle food shortages
      ESIGODINI, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Two orphan children kneel on the side
of a highway in Zimbabwe's drought-hit south, picking up kernels of the food
staple maize which have spilled off a passing truck.

      "We hope to gather enough maize to boil for a meal for the two us and
our grandmother, with whom we have lived since our parents died last year,"
says Thandiwe, an 11-year-old girl. Her 9-year-old brother Clever nods

      Their desperate mission is testimony to escalating food shortages in
southern Zimbabwe, which have worsened the plight of villagers grappling
with unemployment and the scourge of


      After six years of recession, there are tentative signs of a recovery
in Zimbabwe's economy, but analysts say its frailty will be a key issue in
parliamentary polls on March 31.

      President Robert Mugabe's government has insisted since last year that
there is enough food in the country's reserves and from the current crop to
cover districts with low harvests, but villagers in one such area say
supplies are running short.

      "Food has been a problem here because we have had erratic rains for
the past five years," said Ishmael Ncube, traditional headman at Esiphezini
village in Esigodini district.

      "We have not seen people actually starve to death, but you can tell by
looking at most of them that they don't get enough to eat," he told Reuters.

      Most of the crop in Esigodini, 40 km (25 miles) southeast of
Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, has shrivelled after rains in the
November to March season came too little, too late.

      The latest dry spell has worsened the impact of four consecutive years
of drought and disruptions to agriculture linked to the government's
controversial land reforms, in which white-owned commercial farmland was
seized for landless blacks.


      But most international aid agencies have halted relief operations
after the government said last year their services were no longer necessary,
accusing some of using their work as a cover for furthering the agenda of
the main opposition party.

      This has put pressure on villagers whose only source of income is
agriculture. They cannot afford to buy food from the state Grain Marketing
Board (GMB), which is responsible for ensuring that the country has
sufficient reserves.

      "In the past we were buying 50 kg bags of maize meal at Z$15,000 but
now the price has gone up to Z$30,000 and we understand that the next lot of
grain will be sold at Z$42,000 a bag," Ncube said.

      "People here don't have that kind of money. Added to that, we
sometimes go for weeks without seeing deliveries from GMB. My appeal would
be for other countries that can, to help us with imported maize because
other than that I don't see a way out."

      The emerging food shortages are mostly hitting the elderly, and
hundreds of children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which health
officials say kills some 2,500 Zimbabweans a week.

      "Each week we bury about three people killed by the disease ... in
some cases we have young women forced into prostitution because they have no
other forms of employment," Ncube said.

      In Bulawayo itself, shortages of maize-meal have also surfaced, with
officials accusing retailers of hoarding food as a campaign tool to cause
anti-government disgruntlement ahead of this month's parliamentary vote.

      Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies that
the seizure of white-owned farms has undermined agriculture. He blames a
sharp decline in food output in southern Africa's former bread basket,
largely on the drought.

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13 March 2005


The South African Government Is Badly Misinformed on Zimbabwe



The MDC is increasingly perplexed by claims by the South African Government that the elections in Zimbabwe will be free and fair and by its claims that it does not see any problems in Zimbabwe’s Electoral System.



The MDC does not understand the South African Government’s ignorance about the situation in Zimbabwe and the basis for such optimism and believes that the position adopted by the South African Government is not only misinformed, but also dangerously premature.



At present it is clear to each and every objective observer that conditions for a free and fair election do not exist in Zimbabwe. There is therefore nothing whatsoever to suggest that the elections will be free and fair, or indeed legitimate. The electoral environment is actually worse than it was during the March 2002 presidential elections.



Contrary to the view propagated by the South African Government, their counterparts in Harare are not taking any meaningful steps to ensure the elections will be free and fair.



The voters’ roll is in a shambles, violence and intimidation remain prevalent, equal access to the state media is a myth and the elections will be managed and run by the same biased electoral bodies which have manipulated the electoral process to the political advantage of the ruling party in previous elections. 



The much trumpeted new electoral commission has no direct role to play in this election. It was established far too late to have any meaningful influence on the process. More importantly, anything it does do is subject to the authority of the Mugabe appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission. This compromises its independence.



The MDC and other progressive forces in Zimbabwe are therefore deeply concerned to hear the South African Government praising the new ‘independent’ commission and citing its establishment as proof that the Zimbabwe government is complying with the new regional election standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. 



MDC meetings and rallies continue to be banned or disrupted by the police under the notorious Public Order and Security Act. 16 MDC candidates have already been the victims of arbitrary arrest and police harassment and scores of MDC activists have been arrested for such innocuous crimes as putting up posters. No Zanu PF supporter has yet to be arrested for this ‘crime’. The complicity of members of the police and army in incidents of political violence casts a dark shadow over the legitimacy of the entire electoral process.



The MDC urges the South African Government to re-think the wisdom of publicly expressing its confidence in the capacity of Mugabe and Zanu PF to host free and fair elections when there is a dearth of evidence on the ground to support such an optimistic outlook.



Positive signals from regional neighbours provide unnecessary succour to the authorities in Zimbabwe and often serve to galvanise those bent on engaging in anti-democratic activities. 



To the people of Zimbabwe, the optimism expressed by the South African Government is increasingly viewed as misplaced solidarity and a deliberate attempt to frustrate the new beginning they so desperately desire. This perception undermines public confidence in the objectivity and impartiality of South African and SADC observer missions.



There is a growing suspicion in Zimbabwe that the sole objective of the SADC and South Africa observer missions is not to ensure the full expression of the ‘one person, one vote’ principle but to legitimise a Zanu PF ‘victory’, regardless of the manner in which this ‘victory’ is achieved.



There is an urgent need to demonstrate that this is not the case. However, the decision by the Zimbabwe Government not to invite the SADC Parliamentary Forum (who published an adverse report on the 2002 Presidential poll) to observe the elections, and the public defence of this decision by South Africa, sows further doubts in the minds of the people vis-à-vis the impartiality of the observers who have been invited. 



We all fought bitter struggles to secure the right to freely elect leaders of our choice. The people of Zimbabwe want food, jobs and better living standards. They must be free to vote for the party they believe is best equipped to address these basic grievances.



Any moves to compromise the exercise of this basic and hard earned right would severely damage the credibility of both the South African Government and the SADC.



Rhetorical commitments to promoting good governance have to be followed up by concrete action if they are to be taken seriously. The elections in Zimbabwe provide the first real test of this commitment.



Finally we are again appealing to the South African Government to stop aiding and abetting the Mugabe regime’s denial of the basic rights of the people of Zimbabwe to freely elect the government of their choice.



Professor Welshman Ncube

MDC Secretary General

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Sunday Times  - UK

            March 13, 2005

            Protesters come out in Mugabe election 'truce'
            Anne Wayne, Marondera, Zimbabwe

            "CHINJA!" The demand for "change" roared out from hundreds of
hoarse throats at the first opposition rally ever held in Marondera, a small
town 45 miles east of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.
            On the other side of the road, a silent crowd stared fearfully
from behind a police line, afraid of declaring their loyalty to the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), whose supporters are often beaten, raped and

            The rally would nevertheless have been unthinkable four years
ago, when Zimbabwe's last parliamentary elections were held amid a wave of
murders, widespread torture and the hounding of thousands of farmers from
their land.

            "Now the government wants credibility, they want to be seen as
legitimate," said Ian Kay, who is standing for the MDC on March 31, election
day. He hopes to unseat Sydney Sekeramayi, the defence minister known as
"the cruel one".

            "There is lots of international pressure to make this seem like
a free and fair election, although intimidation is still going on," he said.

            The opposition is keen to capture the seat, which it lost by
just 63 votes last time despite widespread intimidation and allegations of
vote-rigging on behalf of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party.

            Many MDC supporters are wary not so much of what will happen in
the run-up to the election but of the retribution they may suffer

            "There has been no violence yet, but Zanu are warning people,"
confided one man sporting an MDC T-shirt. "They say, 'We will not beat you
now, because the observers are here. But watch what happens after the
elections. We will get you when they have gone'."

            Despite a torrential downpour, 600 singing and dancing
supporters turned out to hear Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader. It
was one of several rallies that his party has held in recent weeks in rural
areas such as Marondera, traditionally a Zanu-PF stronghold.

            Nobody knows the risks better than Mercy, 33, who has been
arrested, raped twice and seen her children beaten to the ground in front of

            Yet she was there with an MDC scarf around her head. "Those
people over there remember the beatings of the last years," she explains,
gesturing to the silent crowd. "But I am not afraid any more. They have done
their worst to me and I have survived."

            After the speakers left she peeled off her scarf before setting
off home. "I told my neighbours I was going to the hospital," she admitted.
Despite the T-shirts, the longed-for chinja is still just a hope.

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Sunday Times - UK

            March 13, 2005

            Scandal of officials who devour African aid
            RW Johnson and Tom Walker

            IT IS unlikely that Malawi's Superior hotel received any
attention from Tony Blair while he helped craft the new Commission for
Africa report. Yet this gleaming new edifice in Blantyre, the commercial
capital, symbolises just the kind of tangle that makes many aid experts
wince at the prime minister's planned doubling to £37 billion of the global
aid budget to Africa.
            The hotel belongs to Friday Jumbe, Malawi's former finance
minister and a close associate of Bakili Muluzi, who retired as president
last May.

            Three years before that, Jumbe was the boss of the state
Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (Admarc), which notoriously
sold off Malawi's grain reserves just as the country lurched into a famine
that threatened the lives of one-third of its 11m people.

            At the time both Jumbe and Muluzi insisted the sale had been
instructed by the World Bank, though this was later shown to be untrue.
Jumbe was subsequently arrested last October as he was about to fly to South
Africa, and charged with having pocketed £2.1m, £420,000 of which had
allegedly been used to build the hotel.

            Thus far Jumbe has failed to come up with any explanation as to
how he came by the money.

            The Commission for Africa has made a noble commitment to
eradicating such alleged corruption, and wants to introduce punishments for
companies that offer bribes to African politicians while putting western
banks under pressure to repatriate ill-gotten gains placed in offshore
accounts by dictators and their cronies.

            But sorting out the aid flows and identifying the beneficiaries
is an investigative minefield.

            The Malawi case is dwarfed by the most spectacular embezzlements
of recent African history: the late President Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo is
said to have looted up to £2.6 billion, or 40% of all aid received by his
country, and Nigeria's former president Sani Abacha is believed to have
salted away the equivalent of between £1 billion and £2.6 billion in foreign

            Repatriating such stolen assets has proved far from easy: in the
Abacha case, Nigeria is reported to have seen little over £26m handed back
from banks in London and Switzerland.

            "One is left with the impression that too much is left to the
privacy of the corporate-client relationship," said Don McKinnon, the
secretary-general of the Commonwealth, who next week begins a tour of
African states in which he will discuss the commission's proposals with

            "I know from what I'm told by the Nigerians that they don't feel
they're making much progress with the existing legal processes."

            Since he was elected last May, Malawi's new president, Bingu wa
Mutharika, 71, has launched an inquiry into the Muluzi regime's dealings,
and the Anti-Corruption Bureau recently hired a British investigator to help
with the Jumbe case, along with inquiries into several other former

            Muluzi, who had wrongly regarded Mutharika as a faithful lackey
in his United Democratic Front party, has reacted furiously, and in January
he and a number of UDF bosses made their intentions plain by rolling up at
the presidential residence armed with guns and machetes.

            Mutharika, who claims that Muluzi is planning to assassinate
him, has since left the party - and the residence, which he says is
haunted - and founded his own Democratic Progressive party, attracting
enough support to stay in power. His tough stance has won plaudits from the
International Monetary Fund.

            One criticism levelled at the commission is that by adopting
chancellor Gordon Brown's recommendation to write off the bad debts of many
African states, it may endorse past theft.

            It is estimated that, in all, Nigerian politicians have spirited
£56 billion abroad. Wiping out their national debt would make some very
greedy men breathe more easily. And who wants to forgive the bad debts of
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe? Many African states have absorbed
enormous amounts of aid over the past 40 years - in all, Africa received
more than £260 billion in that period - but are far poorer today than they
were at independence.

            However, Tidjane Thiam, a businessman from Ivory Coast and one
of the 17 members of the commission, said African governments would
ultimately make or break the new plans.

            "It's always been an easy line to say they're a bunch of corrupt
fools and they get what they deserve," said Thiam. "But it's far more
complicated than that. Most Africans accept that it's their own governments
that are at fault, but greed is not an African exclusivity. There are many
westerners making money too."
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Mugabe defends decision on EU observers
Posted Sat, 12 Mar 2005

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has defended his decision not to invite
EU countries to monitor this month's parliamentary polls, saying Europe
should stay out of Zimbabwe's internal affairs.

"We have invited many countries but not whites ... the likes of (British
Prime Minister Tony) Blair and other Europeans," Mugabe told supporters in
the populous opposition stronghold of Chitungwiza.

"They should not intervene, they should stay in their countries where they
rule, not here."

Only Russian observers welcome

Russia is the only European country out of 32 nations invited to monitor
Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections on March 31.

Zimbabwe refused to allow EU countries to monitor its presidential elections
in 2002, which were tainted by widespread charges of violence, intimidation
and poll fraud.

The European Union and the United States responded by imposing a travel
embargo on Mugabe and members of his inner circle, which remains in place to
this day.

Voting against MugaZANU-PF "a betrayal"

Mugabe told would-be voters in Chitungwiza it would be a betrayal to him and
his party if they voted for the opposition.

"If you reject these people you would have betrayed me," Mugage told about
5,000 supporters and schoolschildren, introducing his party's candidates in
the upcoming polls. "You would have betrayed ZANU-PF."

The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) lost
seats in all major towns in the country's last parliamentary elections in

Mugabe, who has travelled across Zimbabwe drumming up support for his party,
donated 50 computers to 10 schools in the town.

Chitungwiza, home to about two million mainly poor people, is plagued by
perennial problems of poor housing, transport and high unemployment. The
town was meant for 30,000 people when it was built in the late 1970s, but
the population has swelled over the years.

Tsvangirai "a sorcerer"

Mugabe rebuked opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), saying he was a "sorcerer" who has joined hands
with the country's former coloniser Britain to topple his government.

"Tsvangirai ... in broad daylight you walk hand-in-hand with whites whom we
defeated when we went to war with them," he said.

"Day and night you go to Blair and Blair himself has said that he is working
with the MDC to effect what he calls regime change.

"Now don''t you see you are being used ... you are stabbing your own heart
with a knife ... committing suicide."

Mugabe has dubbed the March 31 polls "the anti-Blair vote" and vowed to
crush the MDC that he accused of working in league with Britain to
recolonise Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe won independence from Britain in 1980 after a seven-year liberation

This year's elections will be closely watched as a test of Harare's
commitment to adhere to regional principles on the conduct of free and fair


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Concerts, marches at Zim border
Posted Sun, 13 Mar 2005

Protesters gathered at the South African and Zambian border posts with
Zimbabwe on Saturday for concerts, marches, and protests against treatment
of people in that country.

The streets of Musina were filled with thousands of toyi-toying marchers on
Saturday afternoon, said Hassen Lorgat, spokesperson for the South African
National Non-Governmental Organisation Coalition (Sangoco).

"Black people in southern Africa are taking a stand against people who are
against liberation," he said from the scene.

The marchers planned to head back to the Skoonplaas stadium for a concert
and all-night vigil.

"Symbolic" marching was also taking place at the Victoria Falls border post
in Zambia, said David Kalete, Civicus, and the international citizen
alliance organisation.

Speaking to Sapa from the scene, Kalete said authorities had restricted the
march to less than 200 people, but the concert grounds in nearby Livingstone
were "extremely crowded".

"There are thousands of people gathered there."

The events, organised by civil society groups in both countries, were
supposed to have been mirrored by events in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, but the
governments of those countries refused permission, said Kalete.

"Positive vibe for democracy"

The protesters were uncowed, however. "It is essentially a positive vibe for
democracy, against violence and intimidation. We hope that this vibe will
spread throughout the subregion," said Lorgat.

Saturday's proceedings were to protest against the "abuse of fundamental
rights and closure of civic space" in Zimbabwe, the press statement said.

Local musicians, poets and gospel singers were on the programme at both
concerts, after which there would be an overnight vigil.

Sangoco supports the Congress of SA Trade Unions, which staged the first of
a number of similar protests at the Beit Bridge border post last week.

This event, however, only gathered a few hundred participants.

South Africa's side of the event was organised by Amnesty International,
Sangoco, Civicus, and other civic bodies.

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Zim Standard

Church building torched in Marondera violence
By Emmanuel Mungoshi

MARONDERA - Despite official denials, political violence continued in the
early hours of Saturday last week, when a building at the United Methodist
Church, was torched by suspected Zanu PF supporters.

Ian Kay, the MDC candidate for Marondera East, provided assistance when the
building was constructed.
Kay is challenging the Minister of Defence, Sydney Sekeramayi, on 31 March
in the battle to represent the constituency in Parliament.

Residents from Mupazviriho village alleged that Zanu PF supporters were not
happy that locals were worshiping at a church built with the assistance of
an MDC official and particularly a white one.

In addition, the villagers said the church's links to retired Bishop Abel
Muzorewa was being used by Zanu PF supporters as an excuse to harass the
church congregation

Muzorewa is a retired Bishop of the United Methodist Church and was a
political foe of President Robert Mugabe, particularly during the first
decade of independence. He led the United African National Congress (UANC).

A house used as a kitchen by the head of the congregation, Pastor Nyasha
Kazembe, had its roof gutted by fire. Kazembe, who was away on business has
not returned to his flock amid reports that he now fears for his life.

Munorwei Mubvuma, an eyewitness, said the church had on numerous occasions
been linked to the opposition MDC because of the assistance it received from

He said on Saturday last week, Pastor Kazembe asked him to guard the church
in his absence.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, he heard voices, calling for the
priest to come out. He did not respond as he did not recognise the voices
outside. He only went outside to investigate after he saw the kitchen on

A few yards from the church, a house belonging to, Isaac Mupazviriho, also
caught fire."

Rosemary Katutu, who was sleeping in the second house told The Standard that
she was fast asleep when the house was torched. "The three of us managed to
salvage a few belongings before the roof collapsed,"she said.
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Zim Standard

Zimdollar crashes
By Kumbirai Mafunda

ZIMBABWE'S national currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, has crashed down to a new
low against major trading currencies on the nascent parallel market as it
emerged that the number of bids at the foreign currency auction last week
swelled to a record 5 488.

The Zimdollar was on Thursday changing hands at $13 500 to its US
counterpart, $23 000 to the pound sterling, $2 500 to the South African rand
and $3 000 to the Botswana Pula.
Dealers and bankers say the latest fall in the Zimdollar was largely caused
by private sector demand for foreign currency to import raw materials.

Despite the Zimdollar's free fall on the thriving parallel market, the
central bank remains unmoved and the local unit is still trading at $6 065
against the greenback, $11 660,32 for the pound sterling, $1 039,20 against
the rand and $1 377 against the pula on the auction.

Economic analysts were unanimous to StandardBusiness saying that further
falls in the Zimdollar are inevitable given the poor outlook for Zimbabwe's
main exports - tobacco, maize and minerals. The continued slide of the
dollar on the parallel market, the only viable source of foreign currency at
the moment since government coffers have ran dry, is bound to add to more
woes for Zimbabwe's long suffering masses.

At the RBZ's twice-weekly auctions, worried company executives were reported
to be putting through multiple bids through various bankers in a desperate
attempt to maximise their chances of getting the scarce foreign currency

In the auctions held by the RBZ since the end of February, the amount of
bids at each auction have been increasing mirroring firms' mounting crave
for foreign currency.

"There is a mess up with bids," said an insider at the RBZ's currencies and
markets division. "A lot of companies are banked with quite a number of
banks and they are using different bids."

Bids for hard currency have since February 24 been steadly increasing. On
February 28th, 3 206 bids were lodged and bulged to 4 393 at the March 3rd
auction. Tenders submitted by 16 of the participating banks rose on Thursday
to 6 247 from Monday's 5 488.

"Demand is very high," said one leading dealer, refusing to shed more light
on the future.

The central bank introduced a controlled foreign currency auction system in
January 2004 in a bid to narrow extreme differences between the official and
parallel rates.

The auctions were aimed at bolstering foreign exchange inflows to the
official market and eradicating the parallel market, which had been blamed
in part for skyrocketing inflation but the system has since failed to rein
in the illegal trade in hard currency.

Although the total amount of bids reached US$145 495 948,87 at last week's
auction, only US$11 million was allotted. Since February 24 the allotted
amount has been static while the bids have increased as the auction fails to
satisfy demand.

A banker with a leading financial institution confided to StandardBusiness
that the multiple bidding by firms was actually driven by desperate company
executives keen to sustain their operations.

"It is a survival strategy," he said.

Ernst Matiza, the RBZ's deputy division chief in the currencies and markets
department, refused to entertain enquiries on the charges of multiple
bidding. But central bank sources say the authorities are not merely
watching from the sidelines.

"The authorities are aware of it (multiple bidding) and Gono has said it in
one of our meetings," the source said.

Eric Bloch, an economic analyst and adviser to Reserve Bank Governor Gideon
Gono, urged the government to mend its badly impaired image abroad for
Zimbabwe to realise an improvement in foreign currency inflows.

"As long as there is more demand for foreign currency the parallel exchange
rate will move up. That is inevitable," says Bloch.

"We should repair our international relations instead of frightening away
non-governmental organisations (NGOs)," Bloch added in reference to the
government's strong threats to ban some NGOs.
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Zim Standard

Harare voters scoff at Mugabe plea
By Valentine Maponga

HARARE voters have scoffed at President Robert Mugabe's recent plea that
they reconsider their support for the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and instead turn to the ruling Zanu PF.

A snap survey conducted by The Standard last week established that most
Harare residents blame Mugabe and Zanu PF for the country's economic
collapse and believe the country's salvation lies in a change of government.
Mugabe, who usually uses funerals as a political platform from which to
harangue his critics and political opponents, begged Harare residents to
"think again" and vote for Zanu PF during the 31 March Parliamentary

Speaking at the burial of the Governor and Resident Minister of Harare
Province,Witness Mangwende, Mugabe said the people of Harare had sold out by
voting for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the 2000
general elections.

"In Harare, if you had changed and said you now belonged to (British Prime
Minister Tony) Blair, you should change again," Mugabe told thousands of
mourners at the National Heroes' Acre.

"You are Zimbabweans... you belong to Zimbabwe, which was brought by the
blood of our heroes lying here and others scattered throughout the country.
Should we give it away to sell-outs here in Harare? This is our capital
city. You are sons and daughters of revolutionaries... What wrong have we
done you? Harare ... think again, think again, think again," Mugabe pleaded.

But most people who spoke to The Standard last week were not impressed by
Mugabe's pleas.

Timothy Banda of Chitungwiza said the pleas by Mugabe were just a desperate
attempt by the ruling party to try and win back the urban electorate's vote.

"How can we vote for a party which has presided over the collapse of the
country? They have destroyed the employment sector, there are no factories
and no jobs. Transport costs have sky-rocketed while the health and
education sectors, including many other sectors of our economy have
collapsed," Banda said.

The opposition MDC won all the seats in Harare during the hotly contested
2000 Parliamentary elections. Since its formation in 1999, the MDC has
become the biggest threat to ruling Zanu PF's hold on power.

Sunningdale resident and secondary school teacher, Loveness Chiromo, said no
matter how much the Zanu PF leadership grovelled before the urban
electorate, they would never win back the hearts of Harare residents.

She said in the early years of independence, Zanu PF had offered a lot of
hope but the euphoria of attaining independence had worn out with the
emergence of corruption, cronyism and the systematic destruction of a once
vibrant economy

"It would almost be impossible for Zanu PF to win in Harare. People have
been enlightened. Zanu PF has failed to improve the lives of the people over
the past 25 years and I think they have had their chance," she said.

Tariro Shumba of Zengeza also shared the same sentiments. "I don't think the
people of Chitungwiza and Harare will ever vote for Zanu PF. If the
situation remains like it is right now, the MDC is going to win all the
seats in urban areas as happened in 2000."

MDC candidate for Zengeza, Goodrich Chimbaira, said Zanu PF had failed and
people wanted change. "The people are fed up. Their lives have deteriorated
over the years because of Zanu PF. The MDC is their last hope," Chimbaira

This year's general elections come at a time when all social and economic
sectors have virtually collapsed including a struggling economy, a health
delivery system that is on its knees, rising unemployment and serious food

Dennis Mlambo of Mabvuku believes that unlike the 2000 general elections
when people went out in their numbers to vote, this year's elections are
likely to be marred by voter apathy.

But not all the people heard Mugabe's plea, with others saying they were
surprised he made such a statement

The MDC recently predicted that they now had more that 30 safe seats before
even going to the polls and were working towards winning another 30 for them
to attain a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
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Zim Standard

Police detain MDC supporters as campaign rallies intensify
By our own staff

HILDA Mafudze, the MDC candidate for Manyame, last night reported that
nearly 50 MDC supporters were detained by police after being beaten up by
war veterans at Tongogara Park.

Tongogara Park is home to illegally settled war veterans and soldiers, and
Mafudze told The Standard last night that more than thirty MDC supporters
were at Marimba Police Station while another 20 were taken to hospital.
"The so-called war veterans said Tongogara Park was a no- go area," Mafudze

President Mugabe held a rally at nearby Kuwadzana.

In Chinhoyi more than 3 000 people thronged Orange Groove motel for the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) campaign rally where the party
president, Morgan Tsvangirai, addressed supporters.

The rally was held at the motel after they were frustrated from using
Chinhoyi Stadium.

"For us to be in power everyone has to vote so that we get as many members
in parliament as possible to fight the undemocratic laws like the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

"Every time Mugabe holds a rally, he alleges that I work with Tony Blair and
George WBush but he forgets that he is the one using a British constitution.
It is high time that Zimbabweans came up with our own constitution and that
is only possible through change."

From Chinhoyi Tsvangirai travelled to Chegutu where he addressed more than
15 000 supporters.

Nelson Chamisa the Member of Parliament for Kuwadzana, who also addressed
party members, blasted the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings for distorting MDC
news whenever they covered the opposition party's rallies.

President Mugabe held another rally at Zengeza Four High School in
Chitungwiza that was attended mainly by school children, Zanu PF women's
league members and youth.

He donated 50 computers that will be distributed to five schools. The
secondary schools that received the donations are: St Mary's; Zengeza High
1; Zengeza High 4; Seke High 1; and Seke 5.

Mugabe concentrated on British Prime Minister, Blair and Tsvangirai whom he
branded "a witch".

He said the government had deliberately left out western election observers
and invited pro-Zanu PF Americans Coltrane Chimurenga and Sister Viola
Plummer - known for being Zanu PF praise singers.

"We did not invite the whites, with their white faces to observe our

"Instead we invited our friends from America to observe the elections for
us," Mugabe said.

He confirmed that Zanu PF was going through several crises characterised by
in-fighting, factionalism and misunderstandings.

The rally was also attended by Zanu PF candidates from Chitungwiza, among
them Christopher Chigumba, and Sabina Mangwende from Glen View.
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Zim Standard

Mpofu accused of intimidating voters
By our own correspondent

BULAWAYO - Two weeks before the general elections, Matabeleland North
Governor, Obert Mpofu, is reportedly intimidating resettled villagers in the
Nyamandhlovu area telling them that they risk losing their land if they vote
for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Nyamandlovu falls under Umguza constituency, which Mpofu wants to represent
in parliament.
The Standard has learnt that posters for the MDC candidate for Umguza
constituency, Jacob Thabane, were being removed from trees and buildings by
Zanu PF supporters.

Thabane beat Mpofu during the 2000 general elections and the two will lock
horns again at the end of the month.

Contacted for comment, Mpofu said: "Ngikutshelile ukuthi angifuni ukukhuluma
lawe, uyagula yini? (I have told you that I do not want to talk to you. Are
you mad?" Mpofu said before switching off his mobile.

Thabane alleged his campaign posters were being removed by suspected Zanu PF
supporters. "My campaign posters are also being torn by people whom I know
are from Mpofu's camp and we have made a report to the police in Insuza.
This shows that the elections will not be free and fair," Thabane said.

A villager resettled in the Nyamandlovu area under the land reform programme
told The Standard that Mpofu threatened them during his election campaigns
that those who vote for the MDC would be kicked out of the constituency
because they were opposition supporters.

"Mpofu says that the government is the one which gave us land and can take
it away if we vote for the MDC," added the villager.

Mpofu's campaign team is also accused of going around Ntabazinduna area in
Umguza constituency asking for identity particulars from villagers in what
the country's main opposition party, described as intimidation of voters.

Villagers accused Zanu PF teams of posing as workers of non- governmental
organisations recording names of those in urgent need of food aid.

Elizabeth Hadebe, from Khahlu Village near Mbelesini Dam, said she was
approached by a Zanu PF campaign team led by a Mrs Mthimkhulu and Timothy
Dube last and were asked to produce their identity documents but refused.
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Zim Standard

Msika scuttles Bulawayo's bid to recover $97million
By our own staff

BULAWAYO - Vice President Joseph Msika has thwarted efforts by the Bulawayo
City Council to recover $97 billion owed by residents, the corporate world
and government departments, after he warned the municipality against
disconnecting water supplies.

Addressing Zanu PF supporters at Ndwande Secondary School in Bulawayo last
week, Msika warned the city council against disconnecting water supplies. He
said the government would not allow the local authority to disconnect water
The Bulawayo City Council has embarked on an exercise to disconnect water
supplies to residents and organisations in arrears.

Msika's statements are believed to be an attempt to win votes for Zanu PF,
which performed dismally in elections, held since 2 000 after the formation
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999.

Since 2 000, Bulawayo residents have voted in favour of the MDC in general,
Presidential and municipal elections.

"I want to warn the Bulawayo City Council and ZESA to desist from employing
dirty tricks. I am going to see to it that there are no water cuts in

"I really know that the enemy has directed its efforts towards Matabeleland
because it thrives on the politics of divide and rule," said Msika, who
accused the Bulawayo City Council of having a hidden agenda.

Surprisingly, Msika has not meddled in the affairs of other municipalities
like Harare, whose commission has been disconnecting water supplies to
residents and organisations in arrears.

Bulawayo city treasurer, Middleton Nyoni, was defiant, saying the
municipality would continue disconnecting water supplies to residents and
institutions with outstanding payments.

He said water disconnection was the most effective way of ensuring residents
and the corporate world paid up.

"We always have routine water cuts in order to encourage payment.
Disconnection of water supplies is the only effective way of making
residents and the corporate world comply with payment demands," Nyoni said.

Bulawayo residents and the corporate world owe the council more than $71
billion, while the government has a ballooning debt amounting to $26

Recently, the Bulawayo Executive Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube wrote to
government ministries and residents asking them to pay for water used or
face water cuts.
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Zim Standard

Death costs everyone's 'funeral'
By Rutendo Mawere

DEATH is supposed to rally people together, uniting them in grief. But the
current hardships are redefining how Zimbabweans mourn their loved ones.

Outside a Harare funeral parlour, people with faces clearly worn out with
grief stood impatiently. They were waiting to collect the body of a relative
who died earlier that day, before heading for the rural areas where the
burial was to take place.
"We lost our sister this morning and we have been running around processing
the relevant documents. Once we get the body, we're heading straight for
Hurungwe, where we will bury her tomorrow," explained Dorothy Hamandishe.

She said the rushed arrangements to bury the deceased as soon as possible
were necessitated by the need to avoid escalating funeral costs.

"I hupenyu hwacho hwaoma (Life is hard these days). We are trying to cut
costs because we have many bills to settle which include the hospital bills,
funeral expenses and the upkeep of the children who have been left behind,"
she said.

This is not an isolated case in today's Zimbabwe, where prices of virtually
everything are rising on a daily basis. For many, a sudden death in the
family poses a daunting dilemma to meet the unbudgeted expenses which can
run into several millions of dollars. This in addition to the daily struggle
to make ends meet under the current harsh economic environment.

With funeral expenses soaring and food prices skyrocketing daily, most
families can no longer afford to keep mourners gathered at their homestead,
a common practice in the past.

Under traditional custom the body of the deceased is supposed to spend a
night in his/her home before burial.

While the bereaved families grapple with the costs of hosting a funeral,
there is yet another dimension to the problem. Some township lay-abouts have
earned themselves a reputation as "free loaders" on account of their
propensity to sniff out a funeral and join in the mourning assured of a free
plate of sadza and, sometimes a few drinks particularly if it is the
communally quaffed chibuku beer.

A colleague once related an incident during which a "mourner" at his
grandmother's funeral, after a few drinks, suddenly asked who had died. It
turned out that the man, who had no idea who the funeral was for, was
passing by when advent of the funeral presented him with the opportunity of
a free meal and drinks.

In some instances employers and funeral assurance policies have provided
some relief for the bereaved although this option has not been spared the
escalating costs.

When Norah Chemhere died, her relatives believed that her employer, a
horticultural exporter and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA)
would bear the bulk of the funeral expenses. But her employer said despite
working several years, she was a contract worker and was therefore not
entitled to anything. NSSA offered less than $20 000. At that point her
relatives gave up. Her funeral was a pitiful sight.

A visit to funeral parlours in Harare last week revealed that burial
patterns have changed drastically due to escalating costs of funeral

It costs between $170 000 and $200 000 a day to keep a body in a mortuary,
while coffins range from $270 000 to $5 million.

Although dressing of the body, consultation fee and coffin lace are not
compulsory they cost up to $1,2 million. As a result, most families are
collecting the bodies of their loved ones as soon as possible in order to
avoid incurring huge costs.

An official with Vineyard Funeral Services confirmed that families were
trying hard to cut burial costs. "Once they see that their relative is
terminally ill and realise there is no hope of survival, they take him or
her to the rural areas because transporting a corpse is more expensive. If
the person dies at the rural home they do not incur as much costs as they
would if the person dies away from the final resting place," he said.

An official with Doves-Crocker Morgans Funeral Services said only those with
relatives in the Diaspora and "the well-to-do" in the country could afford
to keep the deceased for a couple of days in the mortuary.

"The rest are burying their loved ones within a day or two," said the
official, who refused to identify himself.

The Standard spoke to scores of people who all expressed concern at the
skyrocketing funeral expenses.

Lawrence Gweru, from Harare's Westlea suburb, said families could no longer
afford to feed mourners for a couple of days due to prohibitive costs. "This
has led people to burying their relatives a day after death or if they are
to be buried at their rural homes, the body transported on the same day of
death," he said.

Sekuru Gudyanga of Highfield echoed the same sentiments: "Because of
poverty, people can not feed hundreds of mourners for many days. People
expedite the documentation and paper work so that they bury the deceased the
next day after death."

Rudo Ndlovu, who was outside Moonlight Funeral Services, said: "The death
rate is just too high. As employees we can not stay at funerals and be
absent from work for more than one day because each month one attends a
number of funerals such that productivity is reduced."

Ambuya Primrose Chinembiri from Warren Park said that burial proceedings
were changing due to the high cost of living. "The close relatives want to
get over with the job as soon as possible and after the burial they expect
the mourners to disperse. Years back mourners would stay for weeks
comforting each other, and to receive others coming to convey their
condolences (vanozobata maoko) "

It now costs more than Z$700 000 to feed about 100 mourners for the whole
day, but costs vary with the number of mourners.

However on the other side of the economic divide, wealthy Zimbabweans have
been known to spare no expense in holding lavish funerals for deceased
friends and relatives.

Stories are told of the death of a notorious criminal whose funeral caused
the closure of whole street in Harare's sprawling Mbare suburb. It is said
millions of dollars were spent on food and drinks for mourners to say
nothing of the expensive casket in which the man was buried.
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Zim Standard

Campaign posters blight Harare city
By Foster Dongozi

THREE years after the Presidential elections, campaign posters depicting
President Robert Mugabe holding his fist in the air as if threatening
everyone in sight, remain plastered all over the city as does those of a
smiling Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic

Anyone seeing these posters together with an array of new faces of aspiring
members of parliament campaigning for the 31 March elections, must wonder
how the system works - old posters and new bills carrying their sometimes
conflicting political messages both in time and substance.

In addition, the weekly musical shows and the gospel crusades around the
capital have left the streets festooned with tonnes of posters. Harare,
formerly referred to as the Sunshine City, has increasingly lost its shine
in mountains of uncollected rubbish while buildings and security walls ar
covered in ubiquitous political graffiti and election posters.

The Harare Central Constituency, which also includes the Central Business
District, (CBD) is arguably one of the most affected by the proliferation of
campaign posters that are pasted on walls but no body seems to care whether
or not they are removed after they have served their purpose.

Independent candidate for Harare Central, Margaret Dongo concurred that the
city had become unsightly as people and organisations continued to paste
posters all over the city while there was no follow up action to remove the
posters after the event.

"It is the responsibility of the council to clean up and remove all expired

"I see nothing wrong with the council coming up with a by-law that compels
people who put up posters to remove them afterwards, " Dongo said.

A spokesperson for Environment Africa, which monitors environmental issues,
June Muchemenyi-Nazare, said the random pasting of posters on walls and
buildings had contributed towards wiping off the glamour away from the face
of the capital.

"A lot of individuals and institutions are putting up posters around the
city but they do not make follow ups to remove them when the advertised
event is over."

Muchemenyi-Nazare said litter caused by posters was a growing problem in
many cities in the country. "The other problem is that most people use glue
to stick posters to walls and trees and this makes it very difficult to
remove them.

"On 5 June, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will be
commemorating World Environment Day and the emphasis will be on clean
cities." The theme will be: Green Cities-Plan for the Planet.

African countries commemorated Africa Environment Day on Friday with the
theme: Clean Cities-Lets Plan for them.

The spokesperson for the Harare City Council, Leslie Gwindi, said the
council had a cleaning department responsible for removing posters.

"There are designated areas where people are allowed to put up posters. If
they put them up at undesignated areas we will just remove them."

Gwindi became hostile when pressed to explain why posters from the 2002
elections were still around if they had a department responsible for
cleaning up the city.

When asked to mention the designated points for the benefit of the capital's
residents, Gwindi said he could not do so at the time.

Movement for Democratic Change spokesman, Paul Themba-Nyathi, said budgetary
constraints had stalled the clean up exercise of removing campaign posters
from the 2002 presidential elections. "We have cleaned up most parts of the
country but Harare has been a problem because of financial constraints. We
will certainly try to remove all our posters after the general elections
because putting up campaign material defaces our cities and our countryside
and makes them very ugly," Themba-Nyathi said.

Zanu PF secretary for education, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who is a Politburo
member, said political parties needed to develop a culture of responsibility
for their surroundings. "Right now we have people spraying graffiti along
the roads while others are using glue to paste their posters all over
cities, making our beautiful cities very ugly.

"Each party must be responsible for removing their posters," he said.
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Zim Standard


Political violence - one case is one too many

THE government never learns. The way to deal with a crisis is never to
pretend it does not exist because that does not cause it to disappear.

For the greater part of last week, the government devoted its energies to
attempts to dismiss reports of a surge in violence ahead of the 31 March
parliamentary elections.
Its own assessment, the government asserted, was that there was "general
calm and peace" in the country. Anyone holding a contrary view was denounced
as an unrepentant merchant of fear, alarm and despondency.

Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, poured scorn on the reports saying
they were appearing with "increasing and sickening regularity".

His explanation: "It could be for political expediency that peddlers of such
information sacrifice fact for fiction . It, therefore, remains wishful
thinking by such pen-pushers, who would rather have anarchy than peace and

What is tragic about the response is that it is illustrative of an official
reluctance to confront reality even when it's staring them in the face. In
the process they come out with some of the most bizarre of explanations.

Yet the only sense Chihuri's assertion makes is if it is juxtaposed to
statistics on the level of violence witnessed during the 2000 and 2002
parliamentary and presidential polls respectively.

Sometime last month, President Mugabe and the Police Commissioner declared
zero tolerance to violence during the run-up to this month's general
elections. What in normal circumstances that means is that no violence would
be countenanced. Period. No, Mr Police Commissioner, one more case of
violence is one too many. The people of this country deserve peace in order
for them to freely and fairly decide their choice of who to represent them
in Parliament.

The point that the government missed is that the reports were designed to
help in identifying areas that required investigating. By Friday, the point
seemed to have filtered through, because a Police Elections Committee on the
levels of violence had been put in place.

The establishment of the Committee, headed by Senior Assistant Commissioner
Mary Masango, is in itself an admission that violence does exist and will be
encountered as part of the campaign process.

But as happens with all attempts to wish away reality, by Friday the police
were admitting there have been 56 cases of violence since January involving
the arrest of 172 people.

Normal police duties are about law enforcement and if conditions were normal
these would be taken care of under normal duties of the security agencies.
It is pointless to set up a committee to monitor a non-occurrence.

The government must not repeat the mistakes that Ian Smith made throughout
the 1970s and 1980, when he and his advisers believed blacks were naïve and
would be converted to his regime's cause by the simple fact of feeding them
a diet of propaganda.

People in areas where violence is being perpetrated are witnesses to the
violations of people's rights and no amount of attempts at whitewashing or
intimidating those who expose the deficit between government's
pronouncements and actions will render violent situations normal.

If anything, what last week's drama helped to reinforce is the necessity for
other independent groups of people to come and assist in monitoring the
levels or absence of violence and help in holding the government accountable
for its failures.

It is also for this reason that it would have been helpful if the stillborn
doctors for human rights platform were active, because eventually they would
be able to document cases of victims of violence treated by members of the
rights group.

Anyone against the establishment of such a grouping of medical practitioners
could only be opposed to their existence because they would be afraid of
exposure. Evil deeds thrive in the dark - away from the glare of public
scrutiny. Anyone acting in the interest of fairness and justice would
welcome any attempts at exposing any shortcomings in the system because this
provides the first step in addressing the problem.

In 2000 and 2002 law enforcement agents refused to deal with numerous cases
of violence even where the perpetrators of the abuses were known, identified
and located. In some instances the courts actually ordered police

The murderers of Elliot Pfebve in Bindura, Talent Mabika and Tichaona
Chiminya in Buhera, David Stevens in Macheke and Gloria and Martin Olds in
Nyamandhlovu were identified, yet many of them still roam the countryside,
free and uncensured.

The existence of violence cannot be wished away. It is the resolve to act
against any cases of violence that will bring it under control.

The government's panicky reaction demonstrates that they are fully cognisant
of the impact and consequences of an election held against the backdrop of
violence, in particular in circumstances where it has shown reluctance to
allow outsiders to come in and observe the process. Perhaps it knows the
truth and the cost of allowing that truth to gain currency.

In the final analysis it is the people on the ground who know what is
happening and the truth will eventually come out despite attempts to cover

When reports of people dying of hunger in Bulawayo appeared in this
newspaper, there were angry and shrill denials from the government, even

it established the truth. Those denials have not altered the truth.

When the country suffered from acute shortages of fuel, the government's
response was first to deny there was a fuel crisis. Instead of confronting
reality, it chose to indulge in fantasy, suggesting sabotage and piracy on
the high seas.

Facts and reality have a stubborn way of outliving fantasy.

It would be more helpful if the government spent its time, energy and
resources in doing things right first. Then it would not need to waste time
in acts of self-deception.
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Zim Standard

OTT bows out - bye bye!
overthetop By Brian Latham

NOTHING lasts forever, but now Over The Top has gone over the top and
reached the end of the line. An unceremonious and hurried departure from the
land of my ancestors sees OTT shivering in the cold of Harare North, Unit K.

Some of you may have heard of our flight from the forces of Zany "law and
order." Facing imminent arrest, three upstanding Zimbabwean hacks, doing
nothing more than plying our honest craft, spent Valentine's Day in the
company of some very sarcastic policemen. They vowed we were off to jail.
Four raids in two days, illegal searches and endless threats persuaded us
that it would be safer elsewhere. So did our lawyer.
Home, be it the loveliness of the troubled central African regime or the
simple ease of life in Avondale, was removed instantly. Now one of our
number is kicking his heels in Lusaka, another in Cape Town and me in Unit
K. Nothing could be sadder, except a drawn out stint in a fetid, disease
ridden cell for committing the crime of journalism.

Still, other charges were also threatened. Spying being the most obvious,
because anyone who isn't a Zany party supporter can be accused of being a
spy. Publishing material likely to be detrimental to the State was another
charge laid at our feet. Of course, we wouldn't have written anything
detrimental to the State had the State not committed numerous acts of
blinding stupidity that were . detrimental to the State.

The last, truly laughable, charge was economic crimes. Three impoverished
journos, barely able to afford lunch, were accused of undermining the
economic well being of the country.

It would be stupid, of course, to look too closely at those people who have
truly destroyed a once prosperous economy, who have destroyed agriculture,
mining, the banks and made the Zim dollar the laughing stock of bankers from
Cape Town to Cairo. No, that wouldn't do, because it is far easier to blame
three local journalists, plodding away in a rundown office in the Avenues,
for the collapse.

But then so very little makes sense in the troubled African police State. So
very, very little.

Being evicted from one's own country is an ignominious business, but not
unusual these days. It has happened to many and will happen to many more.
Still, the regime achieved less than nothing. In these days of digital
media, it's as easy to report the wrong doings of the Zany Party, and the
excesses of war vets and green bombers, from outside as it is inside the
troubled central African banana republic. Apart from a glitch of a very few
days while we were on the road, the coverage has continued as it did from
our little office. Life on the front line can be wherever you choose to make

So. the pompous posturing of certain cretins at the alleged Media
Commission, not to mention the insane rants of oleaginous slime balls like
George C have made no difference at all. We carry on - and one day when
freedom comes, we will return home to watch cowardly sycophants like those
who drove us out being hanged by their thumbs on First Street. It will be a
beautiful sight.

In the meantime, we seek cold comfort where we can, confident at least that
the rot at home will consume itself in good time.

It is sad having to end this weekly jibe at authority, sadder still, sadder
than words can say, to leave home and family. No doubt someone will carry on
where Over The Top stops. I sincerely hope so.
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Zim Standard


Let's compile dossier on corrupt cops

I felt the need to write in order to warn the rest of the country, on why
our once outstanding police force can no longer be relied upon. My father,
who unfortunately is now late, was a policeman and a very proud man he was.

Lack of professionalism has become a common practice. I have had a brush
with the law and witnessed incidents, which I will relate here:
A friend tells me that rape is on the increase because most cases reported
to the police are not being recorded and dockets opened. Instead, rape
victims are lectured to, called names such as "slut" and then advised to go

The second incident was when I was going home late from work. I was stopped
at a roadblock by a police officer, who appeared tipsy. I had not been aware
that my brake lights were not working. I was shouted at during the hour-long
ordeal. He kept coming to me and asking how much I had for the fine. Of
course, I told him I did not have any money.

After this incident, I noted in the space of five days nine police vehicles
whose lights were defective.

The third incident was what I witnessed while walking towards Angwa City. A
motorcade was about to pass when a vehicle just managed to cross the road
before the first police officer on a motorbike came down to clear the road
of vehicles.

The next thing I noticed was that one of the officers on a motorbike made a
U-turn and drove up to the vehicle, which by now had come to a standstill.

The officer hurled abuse at the driver and proceeded to slap him on the
face. I was horrified and so were some of the onlookers. The assault was not
necessary especially as the driver was not in any way obstructing the

The officer on the motorbike then called out to another officer who was
controlling traffic at the intersection saying that he should accompany the
driver to the police station and "sort him out".

I was ready to defend the poor driver but an onlooker advised that I too,
would be "sorted out".

As I indicated, my father was a police officer and he brought us up with
certain values. Where is the justicein all this?

I am afraid that if the MDC wins, it will have to remove every corrupt
police officer and replace them with men and women of integrity. In order to
do so, it needs to document all the corrupt cases and the officers involved.
That is how it will be able to identify the culprits.

It would also be helpful if members of the public began to compile such
cases, where they happened, what the nature of the corruption or abuse of
office were, who the officer in question was, who the victim was and the
outcome. They can send these to the MDC, which I hope will set up and
publicise the existence of a unit dealing with such cases.

I just hope that with all the greed that has crept into our society, there
are still people we can entrust with the duties of enforcing the law.

J Sithole

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Zim Standard


Madhuku should just shut up!

ALLOW me space to comment on some of the recent remarks that were attributed
to Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the once-vibrant NCA which, under his
leadership, has now become neither an assembly of individuals nor a national

I specifically want to respond to some of the recent statements made by
Madhuku on the MDC, particularly regarding the decision by the MDC to
participate in the forthcoming elections. Madhuku, like many of his armchair
political activists who are fond of criticising without offering sound
alternatives, has argued that the MDC should have boycotted the forthcoming
elections and that by participating in the elections the party would have
legitimised a flawed process.
On almost every occasion he has had a chance to open his mouth, Madhuku has
not only tried to demean the contributions of others in the fight for
democratisation but, through his twisted reasoning, also tried to convince
every Zimbabwean that the only solution to the country's current crisis of
governance lies in rallying behind the NCA and its fight for the adoption of
its draft constitution.

In all his pontificating, what Madhuku has never bothered to explain is how
the mere adoption of a constitution, written on a dispensable piece of
paper, is supposed to solve a problem of a political and economic nature as

In his warped logic, the struggle against Zanu PF repression and corruption
is not a political struggle, but a constitutional struggle. For his twisted
mind, it is not the political culture of our country that is supposed to
change but simply the constitution. To the Madhukus of this world, the fact
that of late dictatorships have emerged even in countries like the US which
presumably, have one of the best crafted constitutions does not in any way
expose the limitations of constitutional democracy.

That recently Africa witnessed the arbitrary amendment of the country's
constitution in Togo by an elected Parliament, working in cahoots with the
army, is a clear expose` on the kind of weaknesses associated with
democracies guaranteed only by dispensable pieces of paper rather than those
rooted in deep seated cultures of political struggles.

More importantly, the fact that in the last five years in this country
certain aspects of the constitution of the country has been amended to meet
certain political agendas clearly show the dangers of placing so much faith
in constitutional reform. What the Madhukus of this world need to know is
what is now needed is a multi-pronged approach and not one based on a
fixation with constitutional reform.

In a veiled attack on the MDC which has been described by the government as
foreign-backed, Madhuku, on the occasion of his receipt of a $25 000 (Z$2,5
billion) award by the American organisation, The North Cote Parkinson Fund,
for his alleged bravery, also reportedly remarked that there is need for the
formation of a new organisation which does not look for outside support.

Yes, I fully agree with him that foreigners need not get involved in our
internal problems as has been the case in US involvement in Iraq, Cuba,
Afghanistan and French involvement in Cote d' Ivoire. Outsiders have
absolutely no right to weep more than the bereaved! Nor do they have the
right to direct burial proceedings. Let the bereaved bury their dead and if
they need assistance such assistance should only be rendered upon request.

However, what I find disgusting in Madhuku's case is that he made that
remark when he was nowhere near Zimbabwe but in far away America, receiving
his "booty" from some dubious organisation for his alleged acts of bravery.
What kind of hypocrisy and double-standards is that?

Since when has the bravery and sacrifices of freedom fighters been rewarded
in monetary terms? This award has finally exposed Madhuku for what he really
is: a publicity-seeking stuntman who has no personal ethics or political
morality. The very moment Madhuku accepted that reward he placed himself in
the same category as soldiers of fortune: the Simon Manns of this world. The
distribution of the booty, as explained by Jessie Majome, his spokesperson,
clearly confirms that Madhuku is a soldier of fortune. Madhuku and his
family, according to his spokesperson, was going to pocket a whopping Z$1,25
billion (half the amount) as a "reward for the sacrifice", while the
remaining was supposedly going to be shared among the other remaining
charlatans who include Madhuku's long-time friend Douglas Mwonzora, Majome,
Mudzengi and others.

John Chakona

University of Cape Town

South Africa
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Zim Standard


109 cases of violence more than enough

I am intrigued by the statement made by the Police Commissioner, Augustine
Chihuri ostensibly to debunk the lead story in The Standard issue of 6

The Police Commissioner says only 109 people had been arrested for
politically-related crimes, most of these not of a serious nature.
But in a peaceful and calm environment, is just one politically-related
crime not one too many?

What is the ideal number of of politically related crimes, never mind
whether it is the MDC to Zanu PF that is responsible, that would cause
concern to the Police Commissioner, especially that he and no less than
President Mugabe declared "zero tolerance" of political violence.

And if indeed, 109 cases of political violence have been recorded, can this
not be described as "Flare up of violence" since this heading does not
quantify the number of incidents involved.

I do not wish to indulge in semantics as Chihuri was obviously doing, but I
think the police chief should pre-occupy himself with ensuring that not even
a single case of violence or any other crime for that matter is committed,
instead of calling presss conferences to deny the obvious.

Chihuri should appreciate the old adage that you can foool some of the
people some of the time but you can not fool all the people all the time!

Violence prone

Zengeza 1

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Zim Standard

Tafataona Mahoso should be the next
sundayopinion By Bornwell Chakaodza

AFTER the demise of the axeman, Jonathan Moyo, the spotlight should focus on
his surviving sidekick, the hangman Tafataona Mahoso.

Mahoso has pursued his wayward path of closing down newspapers with
impunity. What we have been subjected to under the aegis of this grand old
man of yesteryear Marxism leads one to the inescapable conclusion that there
is something rotten in Mahoso's mind.
His latest escapade has been the closing down a few weeks ago of the
Bulawayo-based newspaper The Weekly Times and the unwarranted attack earlier
on newly launched, The Zimbabwean, a UK-based newspaper.

According to the Media and Information Commission chief, The Weekly Times
had contravened Section 71(1) (a) of that obnoxious law - the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) by focusing on political
reporting instead of so called developmental journalism as indicated by the
publishers in their application to the Media and Information Commission

Curiously, Mahoso reckons the newspaper that was granted a licence was
different from the one which was being published, because "instead of
development journalism characterised by impartial reporting promised by the
publisher at the time of registration, the paper was now dedicating itself
to partisan political advocacy."

In my life I have heard many stupid things but in terms of lack of reason I
cannot recall anything that beats this statement. This one really takes the
biscuit! Mahoso went on to give examples of Moto magazine and Catholic News
that carry Catholic church news and The Worker, which he said reflected the
partisan views of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), an
organisation he said was allied to the opposition MDC. He also gave the
example of The Voice, which belongs to Zanu PF.

Ah - Mahoso! - Are you sure about what you are saying. I thought you knew
about Moto. In its heyday, Moto was rabidly anti-establishment to the extent
that to had frequent run-ins with the government of Ian Smith.

The Voice, on the other hand castigates MDC week in and week out. Did it
occur to Mahoso that that is what it was going to do? Can he please close it
down citing Aippa? What is the mandate, for example, of The Herald, The
Standard, The Financial Gazette?

In any case, who is Mahoso to determine what should be published and what

Who is Mahoso, to be setting the parameters of what Zimbabweans should read,
view or listen to? Freedom of the Press does not belong to Mahoso. It
belongs to the people of Zimbabwe. Can you get any other newspaper in this
country which is more partisan than The Herald? Come on Mahoso. Think about
it. Why have you not moved against The Herald if what what you are saying
holds water?

You have been conducting an unremitting campaign of destruction of the
independent media from day one - how different are you from the oppressors
of yesteryear who closed down The African Daily News and other publications
in the sixties and seventies? In an ironic way, you have taken us back to
those tragic years. You have forgotten nothing and learned nothing.

You have been promiscuous in your selective application of Aippa. Like that
dinosaur Jonathan Moyo, you have been corrupted by power. I cannot think of
anything that describes your actions. more aptly than writer Rudyard
Kiplings' verdict: "Power without responsibility - the prerogative of the
harlot throughout the ages!"

Other people have to pick up the pieces (not you) in the form of
unemployment, destitution etc. I want you to know that you have sentencing
fellow Zimbabweans to poverty and physical depravity for the past four

First it was The Daily News and The Daily on Sunday, then The Tribune, now
The Weekly Times. What next? What will it take to stop you in your tracks?
How do you live with your conscience? Do you have one in the first place?
The point must be forcefully made that these papers' patriotism and loyalty
to Zimbabwe are certainly no less than yours or Moyo's.

And do not think that you are helping the ruling Zanu PF by your despicable
conduct. You are actually doing a gross disservice not only to government
but to the country as a whole. Ours is an information age. You may kill the
messenger legally using a bad law but you cannot kill the message.
Ultimately, it will be counter-productive. It is not in the interest of
government to have the Mahosos and Moyos of this world in their midst.

Mahoso's actions are more damaging to the image of Zimbabwe, making the work
of friendly countries trying to intervene in our crisis even more difficult,
to say nothing of the collateral consequence of discouraging tourists.
Certainly, Mahoso alone has contributed so much to our international
isolation that he deserve a special place in the hall of infamy.

Need I remind Mahoso and those of like mind that for a viable democracy to
thrive, ideas must compete in the market place for acceptance or rejection.
We are facing parliamentary elections slightly over two weeks from now and
it is pertinent to remind you Mahoso that vigorous public discussion, the
exchange of information and opinions is an essential prelude to citizens
exercising their choices not only at election, but in the continuous
participation that citizens or people must be able to enjoy in ademocracy.
The forthcoming elections are yet another landmark event for the millions of
Zimbabweans who count on the media to give them more than one perspective
from which to interpret issues and help them realize their hopes for the

Zimbabweans know the kind of news they want. The electorate in this country
is certainly a more discerning and questioning one than the evil duo of
Mahoso and Moyo would like us to believe. The test of the strength of a free
and democratic society is its capacity to undertake debate and accept honest
dissent. And the more information channels available to the public, the
better and the freer the society. In fact, I know of no government in the
whole wide world which has benefited in the long run from closing down

It is not enough to say that Zimbabwe has faithfully held elections every
five years. That is not, by any stretch of imagination, a test of a true
democracy. It is the process leading to that one-day election that is more
important. Regular elections have taken place and are still taking place in
countries that are far from being democracies. What constitutes full
democracy is the nature of the environment prevailing in a given country,
the pre-election phase, the election phase itself and the post-election
period. Merely pointing out to 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995 and the year 2000
leaving out the environment and context in which they took place
particularly the 2000 one is to indulge in a crafty twist of the truth.

We do not need Mahoso and his MIC to punish newspapers. Readers can do that
by simply not buying the publications if they deem them unworthy of their
time and money. Banning a newspaper is an act not of triumph but of
desperation and defeat. In addition to their well-being, Zimbabweans care
deeply about their freedom and democracy and may take a terrible revenge
come 31 March upon those like Mahoso, who represent barbaric

It needs to be pointed out to him that as journalists we are merely seekers
of the truth so that government could be accountable.

Mahoso rightly belongs to the Stone Age. We have nothing against him as a
person. It is what he is doing and represents that we take issue with. The
key point to be made is that he has no place in this modern world. He has
totally failed to read the sign of the times.

The sooner an epitaph is written of him the better it will be for for us

Bornwell Chakaodza is the Associate Editor of The Standard.
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Daily News online edition

     Games political parties play at election time

      Date: 13-Mar, 2005

      LAST year, the ruling party in Spain blamed a bomb blast which killed
many people on a train in Madrid on the Basque separatist organisation, ETA.
An election was in the offing and the party, its chances of re-election then
very slim, hoped the strategy would confound the critics.

      The opposite occurred: it lost the election, after proof emerged that
an Islamic organisation had committed the outrage.

      In Zimbabwe today, Zanu PF has built up a case against Tony Blair. So,
when there is a shortage of roller meal in the supermarkets, they manage to
insinuate that Blair is to blame. How many Zanu PF supporters will be
convinced, by 31 March, that all our economic and political problems are due
to the machinations of Blair and his Labour Party?

      Blair made the unfortunate statement that "we are working with the
 MDC" towards a regime change in Zimbabwe without appreciating how
assiduously Mugabe and Zanu PF would exploit it to make their attacks on the
opposition party even more inflammatory.

      At the time, Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general, said there
would be a regime change if his party won the election through the ballot
box. If the MDC wins the 2005 elections, there will be a regime change.

      How Mugabe, as president of the republic, will handle the change is
open to speculation. All of it could be determined by the number of voters
who fall for the Zanu PF trickery of blaming all their mistakes on Blair,
and the British in general.

      In both the 2000 parliamentary and the 2002 presidential elections
Zanu PF used more or less the same strategy - and won by the narrowest of
margins, if you consider their performance in previous such elections.

      In both elections, the ruling party realised it was losing popularity.
All the gospel of being the party which won independence could no longer
sell the party.The reason? Like the voters of Spain, the voters of Zimbabwe
had seen through the ruse.

      The party which won independence could no longer sell itself to the
people with that tattered card. Independence had been won, but its rewards
remained elusive to the majority.

      If the people are given a real chance to make their choice in the
ballot box, they might decide that Zanu PF has failed to make independence
the heaven on earth that Mugabe and Zanu PF promised them. This was long
before Blair came on the scene.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Poll violence: more arrested

Fortune Mbele
issue date :2005-Mar-14

AT least four more people were on Friday hauled before the courts in Harare
for allegedly engaging in pre-poll skirmishes, as police fight to maintain
calm ahead of this month's parliamentary elections.
Two were charged under the Electoral Act while another two faced robbery
In Glen View, Rice Musomeri (29), of Glen View and Petros Johannes (49), of
Budiriro, in the company of five others still at large, allegedly entered
the house of Sabina Mangwende, the Zanu PF candidate in the constituency, on
At Mangwende's home, they encountered Beauty Chirimuta and Melody Tsandukwa.
They removed Mangwende's posters from the walls of her house and replaced
them with MDC candidate and outgoing Member of Parliament Paul Madzore's.
They allegedly left the premises and destroyed more of Mangwende's posters,
which were pasted around a Zesa kiosk outside the Mangwende residence, once
again replacing them with 12 of Madzore's.
Earlier, on March 3, the duo allegedly encountered one Chirimuta, Tsitsi
Kakora and Lucia Kakoza putting up the ruling party's campaign posters at
Glen View 3 Shopping Centre.
They accused the three women of carrying posters that were bringing
suffering to the nation, before they snatched the posters and destroyed
They also allegedly threatened to assault any Zanu PF supporters in the
area. The two, who were arrested on Wednesday, appeared before magistrate
Cremmah Chipere on Friday and were not asked to plead.
Arguing for bail their lawyer, Tendai Hangazha, argued that there was no
basis at law to deny them bail on grounds that it was a pre-election period.
There was also no evidence to show that they would interfere with witnesses.
He also said even if his clients were to be convicted of the alleged
offence, a small fine was likely to be imposed on them. Therefore, they were
not likely to abscond.
Initially, the State had opposed bail against the two arguing that if freed,
they would intimidate voters in the Glen View constituency, and were likely
to interfere with witnesses since they were of different political parties.
The State further argued that Johannes was of no fixed abode.
However, the investigating officer in the matter, Tongesai Nduna, said he
had verified Johannes' address and the two were not likely to interfere with
In the other incident, which also happened on Wednesday, two unemployed men
from Sunningdale allegedly robbed an MDC supporter of $1 million cash after
stripping him of the MDC T-shirt he was wearing.
They also took away his pair of shoes and a wristwatch.
Kenneth Muchakata (26) and Kaitano Mangwiro (20) allegedly met the
complainant at Sunningdale 2 Shopping Centre, where they assaulted him for
wearing the MDC regalia.
Chipere remanded these two, who are facing robbery charges, in custody to
March 24.
Ndabezinhle Moyo prosecuted in both cases.
Last week, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said so far police had
arrested 67 Zanu PF supporters from 32 reported cases and 42 from the main
opposition party, MDC from 17 reports received in the run-up to the March 31
parliamentary elections.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Makwavarara blasts former MDC council

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-14

SEKESAI Makwavarara, the chairperson of the commission running the affairs
of Harare, yesterday blasted the then MDC-led city council for allegedly
misusing public funds at the expense of the capital.
Speaking at congratulatory celebrations for Vice-President Joyce Mujuru,
organised by the Harare Zanu PF province at the City Sports Centre,
Makwavarara claimed that the previous council, in which she was deputy
mayor, was corrupt.
She said: "Kanzuru yaivepo yaiva neuori. Taidya mari yakawanda kwazvo.
Mudzuri aidaidzira kuti kutengwe doro rakawanda, mawhisky, usiku humwe chete
rinosvika $3 million. (The previous council was corrupt. We misused a lot of
money. Mudzuri would order expensive beer and whisky, costing at least $3
million in a single night)," she alleged.
Makwavarara also told the Vice-President that water problems affecting the
city had not spared her either, as currently there was no water at the
mayoral mansion she moved into recently.In an interview with The Daily
Mirror, she said water woes at the imposing residence and its environs were
a result of an ageing water network.
She said the city spends $382 million daily on chemicals and has over $182
million in debts spanning from 1992.
However, Makwavarara expressed hope that funds provided recently to local
authorities by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), some of Harare's problems
such as potholes, non-working streetlights and poor water distribution would
be solved.
"We hope to utilise the funds made available to us meaningfully in order to
solve the current problems experienced in the city," said Makwavarara.
The RBZ provided $1 trillion to local authorities from which Harare will
receive $200 billion.
Vice-President Mujuru said Harare's perennial problems, such as begging and
street-children, tarnish the image of the country and challenged Zanu PF to
come up with solutions.
She said as part of marking her first 100 days in office, she had come up
with a project to support land reform in urban areas.
"I said I want to come up with something in the first 100 days in office. We
have $50 billion to support agrarian reforms, some of which would be
channelled towards urban farming," Mujuru said.
She explained that instability of the economy fuelled squabbling in
Zanu PF Harare province chairman, Amos Midzi, underscored the problems of
transport, accommodation and electricity in Harare, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and
Midzi also emphasised the need for a strong campaign strategy ahead of this
month-end's elections since Harare province was cosmopolitan.
Yesterday's celebrations were the last of the provincial bashes marking
Mujuru's ascendancy to the presidium of the party and country.
Celebrity Oliver Mtukudzi, who hails from Dande in the Vice-President's home
province, Mashonaland Central, performed at the celebrations.
At least 5 000 Zanu PF supporters from different constituencies in Harare
and Chitungwiza attended the celebrations at Harare City Sports Centre.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Harare City fails to remit tax to Zimra

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-14

FINANCIALLY-troubled Harare City Council has failed to remit tax to the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) on the set deadline.
The capital city, which is also facing problems in remitting workers'
contributions to the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), failed to
meet its obligations to Zimra last month.
According to minutes from the council's executive committee held on February
28 2005, acting city treasurer Cosmas Zvikaramba said the council's
financial position was still precarious. This had resulted in Town House
failing to remit Pay As You Earn (PAYE) to Zimra by the set date - February
16 2005.
"The acting City Treasurer also reported that the city would soon face
problems with Zimra after failing to remit PAYE to the authority by the set
deadline of 16th February 2005. A substantial amount of VAT was also due to
the authority. However, the acting City Treasurer had indicated to Zimra
that the city was not in a position to pay the amount," read the minutes.
The Town Clerk, Nomutsa Chideya, also admitted that there were little
prospects of success in the negotiations with Zimra.
"The committee sought clarification on the prospects of negotiations with
NSSA and Zimra in view of the prevailing financial position of council. The
Town Clerk advised that negotiations with Zimra were not feasible since the
authority had targets from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
to meet," said the executive committee.
Last year, Zimra garnished the local authorities' Standard Chartered Bank
account after the city council failed to pay taxes, a situation that forced
council to pay salaries from its Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) capital
Last month, the city council failed to pay some of its employees on time
because of financial problems.
Creditors, some of them unpaid since last August, are now demanding cash on
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Election Watch

issue date :2005-Mar-14

Zanu PF Province

ZANU PF held a campaign rally on March 8 at Rutendo Hall in Mufakose
constituency, attended by about 1 500 people.
Reverend Obadiah Musindo, of the Destiny for Africa Network, who was among
officials who addressed the meeting, urged people to vote for Sabina
Thembani, the Zanu PF candidate for Mufakose.
He donated, through Thembani, $55m and two bales of second-hand clothes to
the informal sector and the underprivileged.
Musindo promised to donate two peanut butter making machines to the
constituency later.

 Matabeleland South

GWANDA - Zanu PF officials in Matabeleland South held two campaign meetings
on March 7 at Mulambapela and Mbizo Business centres in Gwanda constituency.
Abdenico Ncube, the party's candidate for the constituency, and Central
Committee member Moddy Mbasera, addressed the meetings.
They underscored the need for party supporters to turn out in large numbers
on March 31 and vote for Zanu PF.
Ncube highlighted the ruling party's achievements in areas of land reform,
gender equality and indigenisation of the economy.


MASVINGO - Campaign rallies were held in several districts in Masvingo to
drum up support ahead of the parliamentary elections.
These were held in Chiredzi South, Gutu South and Masvingo Central on March
7, with average attendances of about 1 000 people.
Aaron Baloyi, the party's candidate for Chiredzi South, addressed the
He called upon people to unite for the sake of the party. He castigated the
opposition MDC and independent candidates and implored the electorate to
shun them.
In Gutu South, sitting MP Shuvai Mahofa chronicled the projects she had
initiated in the constituency, such as construction of roads, clinics and
schools as well as rural electrification.
In Masvingo Central, Zanu PF national youth executive member Andrew Ruzengwe
addressed a meeting.
He called for a huge voter turnout by party supporters.  Ruzengwe applauded
the prevailing peaceful atmosphere ahead of the general elections and called
on members to intensify door-to-door campaigns.


MASVINGO - MDC candidate for Masvingo South, Green Gwatinyanya, is
distributing fliers in the constituency urging people to vote his party into
power for employment creation and resuscitation of social services.
The fliers castigate Zanu PF for the rising cost of living, deteriorating
communications infrastructure and shortages of farming inputs.
On March 7, the MDC held two campaign meetings at Matasai Business Centre,
Bikita East constituency and Makuwaza Business Centre in Bikita West,
addressed by party candidate Edmore Marima and John Nyika, the party's
Bikita district chairman.
The meetings had average attendances of about 50 people.
They urged people to vote for the MDC for the revival of the economy and
promised free primary education.
The officials told supporters to shun violence.
To complement its campaigns in Masvingo Central, the MDC is also
distributing fliers in private letter-boxes.
The fliers outline the party manifesto's five major points and urge people
not to vote for Zanu PF for the following allegations:
-that it was responsible for food shortages in the country
-that it induced the current economic hardships and    high levels of
-that it is unperturbed by the crisis in the health, education and transport
sectors and the HIV and Aids pandemic.
-that it was responsible for the lawlessness in the country, creation of a
biased judiciary and political instability.
-that it nurtures a corrupt leadership bent on personal aggrandisement.

Matabeleland North

NTABAZINDUNA -  The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) held two campaign
rallies at Singo Hall and Chiefs Hall here, addressed by party provincial
About 200 people attended the rallies, which provincial executive members
Jennifer Vundla and Sibobo Moses Moyo addressed.
They urged the people to vote for MDC, castigating the government for
allegedly causing price hikes of basic commodities.
They promised that an MDC government would guarantee food sufficiency and
employment opportunities. The MDC candidate for the constituency,
Jacob Thabane, said Zanu PF is self-destructing as evidenced by the
suspension of six provincial chairpersons over the Tsholotshlo saga.
He predicted that the departure of former Minister of State for Information
and Publicity Jonathan Moyo would leave Zanu PF in a quandary.

Independent Candidates

MASVINGO - Independent Masvingo Central candidate Silas Mangono is
distributing leaflets in the constituency, explaining why he broke away from
the MDC to stand as an independent.
He says in the fliers that:
-                     no MDC primary elections were held in the constituency
-                     Tongai Matutu, the MDC candidate, was imposed.
- he wanted to defend the seat from Zanu PF and rejoin the MDC once

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       'Listen to our problems, Mr Mugabe'

          March 13 2005 at 01:37PM

      By Cris Chinaka

      Chitungwiza - Zimbabwean voters told President Robert Mugabe about
their problems with deteriorating public services at the start of his
campaign drive into the opposition's urban stronghold on Saturday.

      Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party lost most parliamentary seats in the
country's major towns to the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in general elections five years ago, but has vowed to win them back in
a poll set for March 31.

      At a rally at the start of his campaign in urban areas on Saturday,
Zanu-PF officials presented Mugabe with a list of pressing problems they
said voters in the town of Chitungwiza south of Harare, and elsewhere,
wanted the government to solve.

      Residents faced a collapsed sewerage and transport system, water and
electricity shortages and unrepaired roads, Zanu-PF's Harare provincial
chairman Amos Midzi said.

      There were also shortages of books in public schools and medicines in
state-owned hospitals. Mugabe nodded in agreement.

      "These are the problems here comrade president, but we are saying to
the people we are going to solve all these issues," Midzi said to cheers
from about 4 000 people.

      A group of school children who also attended the rally staged a play
highlighting the deteriorating municipal services.

      Mugabe, 81, and Zimbabwe's sole ruler since the southern African
country gained independence from Britain in 1980, denies his government is
responsible for the problems in Chitungwiza, blaming the town's
MDC-controlled municipal council instead.

      "I pledge that we are going to attend to these problems, but you must
also pledge that you are going to vote for us," he said in Zimbabwe's main
Shona language.

      The labour-backed MDC says urban councils that it controls have been
starved of money by Mugabe's government and denied rights to borrow funds or
raise taxes to run efficient operations.

      Political analysts say the MDC remains strong in urban areas where
residents have borne the brunt of a severe political and economic crisis
blamed by many critics on state mismanagement.

      They are expected to retain most of the urban parliamentary seats in
the March 31 vote, which many analysts say is likely to be won overall by

      Analysts also say Mugabe has failed to deliver on international
demands for wide-ranging democratic electoral reforms, and has compounded
the Zimbabwe crisis with a set of cosmetic measures designed to keep his
Zanu-PF party in power.

      The MDC accuses Mugabe of rigging both the 2000 parliamentary and the
2002 presidential elections, and says it will shock his party with a
sweeping victory in the election.

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'Mercenaries' count the hours until appeal
          March 13 2005 at 01:26PM

      By Fran Blandy

      Johannesburg - The 62 alleged South African mercenaries and their
lawyer will be awaiting a decision on the Zimbabwe government's application
for leave to appeal their deportation to South Africa in the coming week.

      Lawyer Alwyn Griebenow, who is back in South Africa, said there is no
indication of when the decision would be made.

      "Unfortunately you can't tell a judge to hurry up," he said on Sunday.

      The men received a four-month reprieve on their sentences last
Wednesday following a successful appeal.

      But their release was put on hold when Zimbabwe's attorney-general
Sobuza Gula-Ndebele lodged an application for leave to appeal against the
Supreme Court's reduction of the men's sentences.

      If the application was granted then it would suspend the men's
homecoming, however should it be denied then the men would be in the same
position as they were last week, packing up to come home to South Africa.

      Griebenow was optimistic that the judge was aware of the fact that the
men's freedom depended on his judgement and that he would not delay the

      Sixty-five of the original 70 men arrested in March last year in
connection with an alleged coup d'etat plot to topple the Equatorial Guinean
government remain in prison in Zimbabwe.

      Two were acquitted, two more freed for medical reasons, and one died
in jail.

      The group was arrested at Harare International Airport when they
apparently landed to refuel and pick up military equipment. - Sapa
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DA calls for Zim sanctions
13/03/2005 19:18  - (SA)

Johannesburg - The breach of Southern African Development Community (SADC)
protocol by Zimbabwe should trigger sanctions against it, the Democratic
Alliance said on Sunday.

DA spokesperson Joe Seremane said the country had breached the protocol by
excusing itself from failing to invite the SADC parliamentary forum observer
mission to view its election later this month.

"Zimbabwe cannot get away with a lie. It has misrepresented the SADC
Parliamentary Forum as some sort of unofficial body merely falling under
SADC," said DA spokesperson Joe Seremane.

"Mugabe is punishing the SADC," he said, adding that the "South African
department of foreign affairs was aiding and abetting this piece of

Seremane said ignoring the forum and pretending that it did not exist was a
clear breach of the protocol.

"It is incorrect to pretend that the forum, consisting of MPs from all of
the SADC countries was of no account."

He said in a statement the protocol was accepted by all SADC countries, who
enjoyed diplomatic immunity, including Zimbabwe.

He argued that the real reason why the forum was unwelcome in Zimbabwe was
because it was one of the few missions which declared that country's
previous election not free and fair.

"The South African foreign affairs department is well aware of the
provisions of the protocol and should not connive with Zimbabwe in breaching
it," Seremane said.

"South Africa should be exerting pressure on Zimbabwe to comply by issuing a
belated invitation and receiving the observer mission," he said.
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Vigil for Zim ends
13/03/2005 19:20  - (SA)

Musina - Thousands of protesters concluded an 18-hour vigil Sunday on the
South African border with Zimbabwe to protest against mounting repression in
the neighbouring country.

The protest featured poets, gospel singers and other musicians, the Sapa

A candlelight vigil culminated with a moment of silence at midnight, marking
a new beginning for Zimbabwe, where key elections take place this month.

"We used music and poetry to express our displeasure with what is happening
in Zimbabwe," Hassen Lorgat, spokesperson for the South African National
Non-Governmental Organisation Coalition, was quoted as saying.

"We just want clean and fair elections, we are not supporting any political

The action follows regional concern over President Thabo Mbeki's failure to
take a tough stand against abuses in the neighbouring country, favouring
instead a policy of "quiet diplomacy".

The protest, organised by civil society groups in both countries, was
supposed to have been mirrored by events in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, but the
governments of those countries refused permission, said David Kalete, a
spokesperson for the organisers.

A similar demonstration in the Zambian resort town of Livingstone, which
attracted more than 5 000 people, also had to be called off for fear of a
stampede, Kalete told Sapa.

Mbeki was widely criticized for telling reporters recently that Zimbabwe had
complied with all the regional protocols meant to ensure fairness in its
March 31 parliamentary poll. Opposition leaders say restrictive legislation,
intimidation and violence have skewed the vote in favor of the ruling party.

President Robert Mugabe, who has lead Zimbabwe since the end of
white-minority rule in 1980, has increasingly cracked down on dissent,
arresting opposition leaders, packing the courts with sympathetic judges and
shutting down critical newspapers.

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From SW Radio Africa, 12 March


We are still being deliberately jammed - which obviously means that we're
doing a good job! Please bear with us while we try to overcome this problem.
We now have a new broadcast schedule:

Evening broadcasts

For the full three hours of evening broadcasts (6pm to 9pm Zimbabwe time) we
will be on 3230 kHz in the 90 metre band.

For the first hour of evening broadcasts we will also be on 6145 kHz in the
49 metre band.

And for the first hour of the evening broadcasts we will also be on 11845
kHz in the 25m band.

Yes. We're broadcasting on 3 frequencies for the first hour each evening.

Morning broadcasts

Don't forget the short-wave and medium-wave broadcasts between 5 am and 7 am
Zimbabwe time each the morning. These are the frequencies to try:

Medium wave: 1197Khz

Shortwave: 3230Khz in the 90 metre band
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Daily News online edition

      Zanu PF militia declares Bindura no-go area

      Date: 13-Mar, 2005

      BINDURA - Political violence has again raised its ugly head in
Mashonaland Central province as Zanu PF militia, supported by the police,
have declared the province as a no-go area for any opposition party.

      The Movement for Democratic Change provincial spokesman and
parliamentary candidate for Mt. Darwin constituency, Henry Chimbiri, told
Daily News Online that two MDC activists and himself had been the latest
victims of political violence in the province.

      He accused a councilor in the Bindura Town Council, MsTheresa
Mtandadzi, Bindura mayor Martin Dinha and six other councilors of assaulting
him during a nasty ordeal which resulted in him being arrested by the

      "The mayor and seven other councilors who were attending a council
meeting locked us up in one of the rooms at the council offices, alleging
that we were sell outs who needed to be beaten thoroughly," Chimbiri

      His ordeal started when he visited the offices of the recently
established Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) for a briefing on the conduct
of candidates and their agents.

      "When we arrived at the government complex where ZEC is based, we were
informed that the venue had been changed to the Bindura Town Council
chambers. We then dashed to the council offices, which are situated a few
metres from the government complex," he said.

      On arrival, they were locked up in one of the rooms and told that the
province did not take kindly people who brought opposition politics into the

      "We were only saved by the mayor, who said he did not want people to
be killed at his offices. He then called the police, who came and arrested
us. We were charged under the Miscellaneous Offences Act for engaging in
conduct likely to provoke a breach of the peace," said Chimbiri.

      The three were ordered to pay admission of guilt fines totaling $50
000 each.

      Efforts to get a comment from the police spokesman, Assistant
Inspector Wayne Bvudzijena, proved fruitless as his mobile phone was
switched off. Mayor Dinha did not return our call as promised.

      Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, has
dismissed media reports that the police are selectively applying the law
when dealing with issues related to political violence. At a press
conference on Wednesday, Chihuri said of those who had so far been arrested
for politically motivated crimes, Zanu PF had 67 of their supporters while
the MDC had only 42.

      Chihuri criticized the independent press for allegedly producing
biased reports that political violence had flared up ahead of the country's
sixth parliamentary elections, scheduled for the last day of this month.
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