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

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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 15:56 GMT
Critics denounce 'unfair' Zimbabwe election
Western nations and election observers have criticised the way the hotly contested Zimbabwean election, in which President Robert Mugabe retained power, was run.

But by contrast, some African election observers have said the poll was substantially free and fair.

No matter who won or lost, it was astounding how many guidelines in the run-up to the election were ignored

Walter Kansteiner
US Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs

The US Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, Walter Kansteiner, called for targeted sanctions against Mr Mugabe, saying: "It is a fundamental notion that an election should be free and fair - in this case it wasn't.

"No matter who won or lost, it was astounding how many guidelines in the run-up to the election were ignored. The vast majority were not observed."

France's foreign ministry has echoed those sentiments, saying: "France finds, along with independent Zimbabwean observers, that this election cannot be considered substantially free and fair."

The British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said the government of Mr Mugabe had for months carried out a campaign of violence and intimidation to maintain his grip on power.

He said Mr Mugabe owed victory to a "systematic campaign of violence and intimidation".

Mr Straw said the campaign had been implemented over a period of months "to achieve one outcome - power at all costs".

But he stopped short of refusing to recognise the result.

But the election has been condemned by Western observers, who said tens of thousands of people, mostly in the opposition stronghold of Harare, were unable to vote.

European Union officials said that while a final assessment has yet to be made there was concern over the fairness of the election.

"There is no information reaching us that points to a satisfactory election," EU spokeswoman Emma Udwin.

Pierre Schori, the head of the EU observer mission that was expelled from Zimbabwe, said he did not consider the election free and fair.

"Rather, it is a violation of the people of Zimbabwe," he said.

Mr Schori said the consequences of the election would depend largely on the reactions of neighbouring countries.

"They naturally have both the biggest responsibility and the biggest cause for concern that a chaotic situation may arise," he said.

South African election monitors in Zimbabwe said the election should be considered legitimate and the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, said his country would work with Zimbabwe to help deal with the issues of land ownership and economic recovery.

A 16-member group of Nigerian observers in Zimbabwe has also endorsed Mr Mugabe's victory, saying it had "recorded no incidence that was sufficient to threaten the integrity and outcome of the election, in areas monitored by the team".

Congo rebels' hopes dashed

The BBC's Jonathan Marcus said the election result has widened a split amongst the countries of the Commonwealth that emerged during the run-up to the vote.

He said the differences of opinion over the fairness of the election go right to the heart of the identity of the Commonwealth as a group of democratic nations and could be of considerable significance to its future.

Rebels from the Democratic Republic of Congo said Mr Mugabe's victory was bad news for efforts to end the war in their country, where Zimbabwean troops are fighting on the side of the government.

"If Tsvangirai had won the elections at least we would have gotten some assurance that Zimbabwe will withdraw its troops, but Mugabe will retain his interests in the Congo, by which we of course mean his mineral interests," secretary general of the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), Olivier Kamitatu said.

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Kenya's Moi congratulates ''dear brother'' Mugabe

NAIROBI, March 13 — Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi congratulated
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on his re-election on Wednesday, telling
his ''dear brother'' he would continue to work closely with him.

       ''I convey to Your Excellency and dear brother congratulations and
best wishes on your re-election,'' Moi, in power since 1978, told his fellow
veteran ruler in a statement.
       ''Your victory and that of ZANU-PF is a testimony of the confidence
and high esteem the people of Zimbabwe hold in you.''
       Mugabe swept back to power, according to official results, but the
opposition said he stole victory and critics condemned the election as
       Moi continued: ''I look forward to continue working in close
solidarity with Your Excellency and dear brother to enhance and broaden our
bilateral relations and cooperation in all aspects of development within our
region for the mutual benefit of our two peoples.''
       Zimbabwean Registrar-General Tobiawa Mudede declared Mugabe the
winner after results were in from all 120 constituencies. He said Mugabe won
his fifth term as leader after taking 1,685,212 votes against 1,258,401 for
challenger Morgan Tsvangirai.

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13 Mar 2002 00:00
ANALYSIS: Zimbabwe seen on downward slope after vote
By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe has retained power after a hotly
contested election which critics say he rigged, but analysts say his
controversial victory is likely to condemn Zimbabwe to political
instability, economic hopelessness and diplomatic isolation.

Zimbabwe's political crisis is also bound to effect southern Africa whose
leaders have largely stood by Mugabe in the last two years, they said.

"Mugabe might claim he is the winner, but Zimbabwe is the loser with his
victory," political analyst Masipula Sithole said.

"Zimbabwe is the loser because these elections will be disputed nationally
and internationally...and this will have a big impact on the political
atmosphere and on the economy," he told Reuters.

Zimbabwe security forces were on high alert on Wednesday to deal with any
trouble after the formal announcement that Mugabe, already aged 78 and in
power since 1980, had won another six-year term.

Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi told state television that the
"government was aware of certain groups ready to put the country into

Mugabe's main rival Morgan Tsvangirai appealed for calm earlier this week
from supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) but the
government has maintained that the MDC has plans to call street
demonstrations and strikes to protest against the election results.

Sithole said international pressure against Mugabe would increase in the
coming months, and would get worse if he cracked down on the opposition as
he has threatened.

Last week Mugabe said he would pursue Tsvangirai on treason charges once the
elections "are out of the way".

MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube was taken to court on Tuesday on
charges that he, Tsvangirai and another MDC official plotted to assassinate
Mugabe. They deny the charge.

"Mugabe has already run foul of national and world opinion over the
elections, and he is going to face more sanctions and more isolation if he
continues on the repressive path he has been pursuing in the last two
months," Sithole said.

But Emmanuel Magade, another political analyst, said while Zimbabwe's
economy was sure to deteriorate further, with severe foreign exchange
shortages and looming mass starvation, Mugabe was likely to be more
reconciliatory both at home and abroad.

"Mugabe knows that if he continues on the same path the economy is going to
the ground...and he knows he has to soften his stance and change some
things," said Magade, a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

"I think he will just be tough enough in the aftermath of the elections to
stabilise the political situation...and he will put away the (ruling
ZANU-PF) militias and will probably start looking for an honourable exit,"
he added.

Magade said Mugabe had no option but to seek peace with the world because
Zimbabwe's economy, in its fourth year of recession, could not afford to
fall any further.

The United States and the European Union have already slapped travel
sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle and have threatened further
penalties if the election process is abused.

Tsvangirai and Western critics say Mugabe systematically cheated to cling to
power in a country whose woes have dented investor confidence in the region
and helped knock the value of neighbouring South Africa's rand lower.

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The Age, Melbourne

Mugabe supporters celebrate with mock coffins
HARARE, March 13 AFP|Published: Thursday March 14, 1:06 AM

Supporters of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, declared re-elected today,
celebrated in the streets of Harare carrying mock coffins bearing photograhs
of defeated opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

About 40 jubilant Mugabe supporters carried the coffins through the
working-class suburb of Highfield, a district won by Tsvangirai.

In another opposition stronghold, Mbare, about 150 revellers paraded a
coffin draped with the US flag.

The United States, along with the European Union, have slapped sanctions on
Mugabe over the violent and repressive conditions surrounding the election.

Mugabe had vowed at his final campaign rally last Friday that his victory in
the March 9-11 election would assure the "burial of the MDC (Movement for
Democratic Change), of Morgan and of British Prime Minister Tony Blair".

The former colonial power Britain, and in particular Blair, had been the
butt of repeated scorn in the longtime ruler's stump speeches.

Mugabe accused Britain of backing Tsvangirai in the vote as a means of
helping Zimbabwe's minority whites retain their privileges in the former

In power since independence in 1980, Mugabe was declared re-elected in a
victory immediately rejected by Tsvangirai, who claimed the Zimbabwean
people had been "cheated".

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Straw Condemns 'Systematic Violence' Of Zimbabwe Election
Wednesday March 13, 2002 4:07 PM

Jack Straw has condemned the 'systematic violence and intimidation' which
has dominated Zimbabwe's presidential election as Robert Mugabe claims

The Zimbabwean opposition is denouncing the result as a fraud and
politicians in Britain are demanding action.

The Foreign Secretary says he will consult allies in the Commonwealth, the
EU and the United States before deciding Britain's response.

"For months the government of Zimbabwe has conducted a systematic campaign
of violence and intimidation designed to achieve one outcome, power at all
costs," he told reporters in Downing Street.

Politicians across the political spectrum lined up to call on the British
Government to reject the results of the ballot after foreign observers said
the poll had been "flawed" at every stage.

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said the election had been "stolen"
by Mr Mugabe, 78, and called for a re-run with international monitors and
"complete transparency" of the electoral process.

He said that it was up to Zimbabwe's neighbours in southern Africa to make
clear the way the elections had been conducted was not acceptable: "It is
imperative that the southern African countries condemn this travesty and
disassociate themselves from the Mugabe regime."

"In the meantime, Zimbabwe should be suspended from the Commonwealth and
there should be no chance of Zimbabwe competing in the forthcoming
Commonwealth Games."

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said the
Commonwealth's credibility now rested on its response to the election

He said: "By any standard the Mugabe regime displayed scant regard for human
rights, ignored the rule of law and abused democratic principles. The
credibility of the Commonwealth can hardly be sustained if it takes no
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Mugabe's win endangers economy

Buchizya Mseteka

Johannesburg - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has clung to power in a
hotly disputed election but analysts say his victory is bad news for the
rest of Africa.

They said the election, described as flawed by Western governments,
observers and the opposition, could endanger badly-needed investment on the
continent, the world's poorest.

Mugabe's controversial win could damage Africa's image and derail its
Western-funded US$64 billion New Partnership for Africa's Development
(Nepad) - a formula designed by African leaders to promote growth, democracy
and peace on the continent.

"It is a victory for Mugabe and his ruling party. But is it really a victory
for the people of Zimbabwe? for Africa?" said a Pretoria-based African
diplomat who declined to be named.

"This result will bring Africa, if it supports it, on a collision course
with the Western world. It will isolate Africa and it will scare away
badly-needed investments. Africa may have to redefine its relationship with
the West," he said.

Analysts also warned that President Thabo Mbeki, who has preferred "quiet
diplomacy" in dealing with Mugabe and Zimbabwe, could isolate South Africa
and induce negative investment sentiment if he backed Mugabe's victory.

"This will certainly isolate Africa, more especially if the South Africans
decided to support and recognise Mugabe's victory," said a former South
African government minister, who asked not to be named.

South African observers in Zimbabwe, in contrast to other independent
groups, on Wednesday called Mugabe's re-election "legitimate."

Tony Leon, leader of South Africa's political opposition said in a statement
that Mugabe's victory risked isolating Africa from the rest of the world.
"Events in Zimbabwe have broken the contract which Nepad offered the
international community on behalf of Africa."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned a week ago that failure to act
against election violations in Zimbabwe could jeopardise economic support
for Africa.

Blair, speaking after Commonwealth leaders deferred possible action against
Mugabe until after the elections, said investors must be sure that Africa
was committed to democracy.

The British premier, labelled a racist and neo-colonialist by Mugabe's
government for his attacks on the veteran leader, said his concern with
Zimbabwe was driven by fears about its impact on the rest of the continent.

Blair has pledged to push Africa's plight to the top of the global agenda
and has championed a joint scheme to foster Nepad, which seeks to reverse
economic decline via annual growth of 7%.

The protracted Commonwealth talks split the grouping on largely racial
lines, with African nations - who make up one third of its members -
resisting any move before the election.

Regional analysts point to a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The economy is
crumbling. Foreign reserves are depleted, unemployment is high, inflation is
over 100% and interest rates are above 70%.

"I think Mugabe winning is a disaster," said Richard Cornwell of the
Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.

"Unless he changes, his economy is going to go into a death spiral and
they're not going to be striking any deals with the donor community."

Zimbabwe is rattling investor confidence in Africa, the only region of the
world to show an overall decline in per capita savings and investments since
1970, analysts say.

Mugabe has arrested political opponents, ignored courts and grabbed
white-owned farms as part of a strategy to stay in power.

Ross Herbert, a political analyst at the South African Institute for
International Affairs, said the Zimbabwe result was an indictment for the

"Its going to really turn up the heat on the governments in the region who
are supposed to be policing themselves," he said.

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Business Day

Mbeki says SA will help Zimbabwe

By Angela Quintal
President Thabo Mbeki pledged on Wednesday that South Africa would help
Zimbabwe with its economic recovery and address its land problems,
regardless of who was elected president.

Speaking after talks with visiting Italian President Carlo Ciampi, he also
said it would be incorrect to comment on the freeness and the fairness of
the presidential election until he received the reports of several observer

These included the observer reports from South Africa, the Commonwealth, the
Southern African Development Community and the Organisation of African

The head of the South African observer mission, Sam Motsuenyane, was
returning home on Wednesday afternoon, he said.

Mbeki is one of three heads of government were tasked by Commonwealth
leaders earlier this month, to decide on possible punitive action against
Zimbabwe should the Commonwealth observer team find the election was not
free and fair.

The Commonwealth at its Heads of Government Meeting in Coolum, Australia,
also decided to help Zimbabwe resolve the land question and work with
whoever was in government to assist that country's economic recovery, Mbeki

"I agree fully with the position. We will have to work with Zimbabwe to help
deal with the land question and economic recovery.

"Those are the two principles that will define the relation between South
Africa and Zimbabwe, whoever is the president of Zimbabwe," Mbeki said.

South Africa was also in talks with UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and the
United States about how best to assist Zimbabwe.

"Whatever the political outcome, the people of Zimbabwe are faced with very
serious problems, There are food shortages and an economy that has suffered
very, very badly ....

"We need to help them to address that. Essentially, that is what will define
what South Africa does with regard to Zimbabwe, whoever the president is of
Zimbabwe," Mbeki told reporters.

Zimbabwe's long-time ruler Robert Mugabe won the presidential elections on
Wednesday, in a vote that international observers condemned as deeply

Mbeki was speaking as the main South Africa Observer Mission released an
interim report in which it said "the outcome of the 2002 Zimbabwe
presidential elections should be considered legitimate".

In his reaction, Ciampi said it would be premature to express any opinion on
the issue.

Italy is part of the European Union which pulled its observers out of
Zimbabwe ahead of the poll, after Harare refused to accredit its head Pierre
Schori and observers from six European nations it considered biased.

Asked whether the situation in Zimbabwe would affect the commitment of
industrialised nations to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, he

"Strengthening democracy in Africa is fundamental, but it will be
inappropriate for events in one country to penalise the rest of the

Ciampi is in South Africa for a three-day state visit, the first by an
Italian head of state to the country.


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(Reuters Photo)
Mugabe Re-Elected but Victory Widely Condemned


March 13

— By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe extended his rule of Zimbabwe for another six years on Wednesday, but the opposition slammed the election as "daylight robbery" and the poll drew a barrage of criticism from abroad.

The United States led Western countries in condemning the conduct of the vote and President Bush rejected it as flawed.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, easily beaten by the veteran president according to official results, said Mugabe had stolen the vote through violence and intimidation and by preventing hundreds of thousands of people from casting ballots.

A deep split appeared between the West and monitors from South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia, who all said the poll was legitimate. An Organization of African Unity (OAU) observer mission said the election was "transparent, credible, free and fair."

Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis threatens to destabilize the entire southern African region. South Africa's rand currency, battered by concern over Zimbabwe, fell about 2.8 percent to 11.88 to the dollar at one stage after the result.

Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede declared Mugabe the winner after results were in from all 120 constituencies. He said the former guerrilla won his fifth term as leader after taking 56 percent of votes cast against 42 percent for Tsvangirai.

In Washington, Bush said the U.S. would consult with its allies on how to respond to the vote, telling a White House news conference: "We do not recognize the outcome of the election because we think it is flawed."

Opposition leader Tsvangirai said his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not accept the result.


"The election not reflect the true will of the people of Zimbabwe and are consequently illegitimate," he said.

"We foresaw electoral fraud but not daylight robbery."

Norwegian and local observers said tens of thousands of people, mostly in opposition strongholds, had been prevented from voting.

The split between African observers and the West was particularly significant because South Africa and Nigeria are members, with Australia, of a Commonwealth group that will decide whether the 64-nation body should take action against Zimbabwe over the conduct of the elections.

A mission of parliamentarians from southern Africa, in contrast to other African reaction, said opposition supporters had suffered violence, torture and false imprisonment.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was anxious about the situation in Zimbabwe and he urged people who might feel they had been cheated to stay calm.

Zimbabwe security forces went on high alert and erected roadblocks around Harare after the result was announced. Small groups of armed riot police moved into Harare townships loyal to Tsvangirai but the opposition leader vowed to avoid confrontation.

There were no early reports of violence but Amnesty International expressed concern about the danger of attacks against opposition supporters after international observers had left the country.

It said a military presence was building up in towns around the country and human rights activists were under threat.

Several hundred Mugabe supporters danced in celebration and carried mock coffins for Tsvangirai in two Harare townships.


Mugabe's government dismissed criticism of the election.

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told Reuters the result was a blow to British Prime Minister Tony Blair whom Mugabe accuses of sponsoring Tsvangirai.

"It is a wonderful result for Zimbabwe and Africans, a reaffirmation of African dignity and independence in the face of attempts by the likes of Tony Blair to recolonise us," he said.

But the Zimbabwean Election Support Network (ZESN), an umbrella organization of 38 church and civic groups said: "There is no way these elections could be described as free and fair."

Kare Vollan, head of a Norwegian observer mission, said the poll had failed "key, broadly accepted criteria" and the campaign was marred by violence, mostly against the opposition.

He said thousands of people were unable to vote despite queuing for many hours over the three days of the poll.

Interior Minister John Nkomo accused ZESN of being affiliated to the MDC and called the Norwegians "irresponsible."

Amnesty said 1,400 people had been arrested in what it described as a "politically motivated crackdown."

Analysts painted a gloomy picture of the results of Mugabe's victory both for Zimbabwe itself and the rest of Africa, saying it would discourage badly needed international investment.

"Mugabe might claim he is the winner, but Zimbabwe is the loser with this victory," said political analyst Masipula Sithole.

New Zealand said on Wednesday it was ready to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe if the Commonwealth decided not to suspend the country after the vote, which it said was clearly manipulated.

Britain said Mugabe had conducted a systematic campaign of violence while France and Germany both said the poll was unfair.

photo credit and caption:
Supporters of the ruling party ZANU-PF carry a mock cardboard coffin of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was officially declared re-elected as Zimbabwe's president March 13, 2002. The opposition said Mugabe stole victory and critics condemned the election as unfair. Photo by Juda Ngwenya/Reuters REUTERS/Juda Ngwenya

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March 14, 2002

Mugabe's version of democracy

Sir, Yesterday, March 11, was Commonwealth Day. To find out what this meant I visited its website. I read a message from Don McKinnon, the Secretary-General, that included: “Commonwealth Day . . . is a time to celebrate our diversity and the shared values that bind our people together.”

I discovered that the “most significant” of its Declarations were in 1971 and 1991. In the 1971 Declaration there appears:

We believe in the liberty of the individual, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief, and in their inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which they live. We therefore strive to promote in each of our countries those representative institutions and guarantees for personal freedom under the law that are our common heritage.

This was issued at the Heads of Government Meeting in Singapore. The 1991 Declaration contains a similar message.

Having regard to current events in Zimbabwe (report, March 13), the timing of Commonwealth Day seems ironic to say the least. But not as ironic as the place where the 1991 Declaration was issued: Harare.

Yours faithfully,
c/o Queen Elizabeth Building,
Temple, EC4Y 9BS.
March 12.

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Bush 'does not recognise flawed Zimbabwe election'


George W Bush says the US does not recognise Robert Mugabe's "flawed" re-election, adding to international condemnation of the result.

He says the US is now in talks with its allies over how to respond to the poll, which Zimbabwe's opposition has denounced as "a fraud".

Mr Bush's refusal to acknowledge the result came after Colin Powell bluntly warned Mugabe that he "may claim victory but not democratic legitimacy".

© Copyright Ananova Ltd 2002, all rights reserved

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March 14, 2002

Mugabe win splits Africa and West

  • Biggest electoral fraud I have ever seen, says Tsvangirai

    AFRICA and the West were embroiled in an ugly dispute over President Mugabe’s re-election yesterday, with America and Europe condemning the poll as a fraud, while African states congratulated him on his “free and fair” victory.

    The row, with strong racial overtones, could seriously damage Africa’s relations with Washington, London and other major European powers, who are likely to expand sanctions against the Mugabe regime in the coming days.

    It also threatened to split the Commonwealth in half, pitting African and other developing states against Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

    The international fall-out came after a day of high drama in Zimbabwe when Mr Mugabe was named the clear winner after a three-day poll with 54 per cent of the popular vote against 40 per cent for his challenger Morgan Tsvangirai.

    Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, said that Mr Mugabe had stolen the vote through violence and intimidation and by preventing hundreds of thousands of people from voting. “It is the biggest electoral fraud I have ever witnessed in my life,” Mr Tsvangirai told a press conference. “The election results do not reflect the true will of the people of Zimbabwe and are consequently illegitimate.”

    He said Zimbabweans were “seething with anger” at the result, but added: “We seek no confrontation with the state because that is what it is looking for. We foresaw electoral fraud but not daylight robbery.”

    But the battle was taken up in London and other capitals. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said that Mr Mugabe’s victory was the result of a systematic campaign of violence and intimidation implemented over months “to achieve one outcome: victory at all costs”.

    Britain will tomorrow press other EU nations at the Barcelona summit to expand sanctions against Mr Mugabe and 19 of his top advisers, who are banned from travelling to the EU and whose assets have been frozen. The target list is likely to grow and could include those responsible for orchestrating election fraud.

    Last night the Bush Administration said that it was moving in a similar direction. Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, said that Mr Mugabe could claim victory but not democratic legitimacy.

    “The US will consult closely with other governments to develop appropriate responses to this major setback to democracy in Zimbabwe,” he said. “Among the responses that we are considering, there is a possible broadening of sanctions against those responsible for undermining democracy in Zimbabwe.”

    Similar remarks were made in Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen, where the Danish authorities said that they would halt all aid to Zimbabwe and probably close down their embassy in Harare.

    But the threats to turn Zimbabwe into a rogue state seemed to have little effect in the country itself, where Mr Mugabe’s supporters celebrated while his security forces went on alert fearing a public backlash. As Zimbabwe’s Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede declared Mr Mugabe the winner with 1,685,212 votes to Mr Tsvangirai’s 1,258,401, heavily armed combat troops from the Presidential Guard took to the streets.

    Dozens of soldiers, carrying rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns surrounded the MDC office in Bulawayo. More troops were deployed in townships around the city and in parts of Harare in anticipation of violence.

    Several hundred Mugabe supporters danced in celebration and carried mock coffins — one draped in the American flag — for Mr Tsvangirai in two Harare townships.

    Despite the dangers of being associated with the regime,African nations defiantly rushed to confer legitimacy on Mr Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence 22 years ago and now has another six-year mandate.

    The observer team representing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the pan-African group, announced that “in general the elections were transparent, credible, free and and fair”.

    President Moi of Kenya rushed to congratulate Mr Mugabe and President Mkapa of Tanzania said that he deserved his victory, adding: “It would be a great tragedy for anyone to determine the outcome of an African election in Europe.”

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    March 14, 2002

    Zimbabwe slips away
    Zimbabwe has become a burden, so should the Commonwealth face its responsibility or must Africa see to itself?
    MATTHEW PARRIS (Comment, March 9) has captured the sentiments of most peace-loving Zimbabweans. Of course black Africa has not been mature enough for self-governance, after all it took centuries for the English to evolve into a democracy. (Yet sometimes I wonder if we still understand the true meaning of the word.)

    Time is the only factor that will pave the way to peace and good governance in Africa. The only way to eradicate greed and power-hungry despots is through education that has not been tainted with hatred of race. Education is not an over-night realisation of the unknown; it’s a knowledge that grows within you over a long period of time. I am a white Zimbabwean who fled the country 18 months ago for fear of violence and because of the decline of the economy. My business was agriculture-based and when the “violent land issue” started, I saw the future dwindling before my eyes. On occasions I was forced, through legislation, to sell my end produce for less than it cost to produce. I got out before I couldn’t afford to do so.

    I, in common with thousands like me, would love to return, but cannot until there is a radical change in government.

    The people of Zimbabwe are special and are strides ahead of the rest of Africa when it comes to understanding one another. Colour plays no part in the hearts of true Zimbabweans. I pine for those friends and relatives I left behind, both black and white. Hopefully their nightmare will soon come to an acceptable end.

    Kevin Pringle, Cumbria

    Their courage is astounding

    I MUST take issue with one paragraph of Matthew Parris’s otherwise excellent article on Zimbabwe. He hopes “that if any group must be scapegoated they are the residual white population, for it is small, they are mostly elderly, and a place for all of them can be found here”.

    I believe this to be untrue: the white farming population consists largely of families like that of my daughter’s schoolfriend and her husband whose children are working with them on the farm, at university or still at school (some have lost their books and term’s — or even year’s — work when their houses have been trashed), but they are first, second or third generation residents who do not have the wherewithal to leave, and in any case do not wish to.

    The courage shown by these people is astounding. Those of us who have been receiving regular bulletins from them as well as what we have all seen in the media can only admire and hope.

    Joan Atkins, Cambridge

    Where is ‘liberal’ support?

    WHILE Matthew Parris was growing up in Zimbabwe (then still Rhodesia) I was sent on my first African assignment for The Times to the Nigeria-Biafra war. Then, and in the following years, I met and interviewed several of the leaders of newly independent Africa – Gowon, Obote, Arap Moi, Nyerere, Kaunda and even Hastings Banda and Idi Amin. The rather naive idealism that many of my colleagues and I had inherited from the 1960s soon gave way to the realisation that democracy meant nothing and that the pursuit of power was absolute.

    The degree of brutality and venality in former British colonies varied considerably, of course, and the worst examples were certainly evident in countries such as Zaire and the Central African Republic. But the indignation of the liberal world centred on South Africa: the oppression and slaughter of blacks by blacks was considered as nothing by comparison with the evils of apartheid.

    South Africa’s peaceful transition to a multi-racial, multi-party democracy is one of the most encouraging events of my lifetime. Despite its economic problems and the alarming growth in domestic crime and violence, it is one of the most enchantingly beautiful and agreeable countries on earth. Yet somehow I sense that the “Hampstead Hussars”, who for so many years bravely lent their support to the cause by boycotting South African grapes and oranges, don’t want to know any more. Why could this be, I wonder?

    John Young, London

    The question of expulsion

    SHOULD Zimbabwe be thrown out of the Commonwealth? No. Robert Mugabe may be no angel and electoral practices may be seriously flawed, but that is par for the course throughout much of the Commonwealth. The call for Zimbabwe to be expelled comes from the “white” Commonwealth countries and exposes their racist bias in putting concerns about a white minority in Zimbabwe ahead of black majorities elsewhere (in other Commonwealth countries with fewer democratic credentials).

    Murray McRobie, Streatham

    Quitting the club

    THROWING Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth is not an option any longer. It is three months too late to have the desired effect. We should quit the club instead, because whoever wins this so-called election will need billions of dollars to get the economy back on track. The African countries that voted against sanctions should be forced to contribute. However, it is quite obvious that they can’t do this and buy arms, so guess who will get to foot the bill?

    David T. Harris, Shrewsbury

    Protecting the innocent

    WHAT difference will it make if Zimbabwe is thrown out of the Commonwealth? The African countries will say it was a “free and fair” election to protect themselves, and the other countries will not stand up against them. Britain should be a little less concerned about hunting foxes and worry more about innocent people being murdered and maimed. The Commonwealth is doing nothing for the “real” people of Zimbabwe, so keeping them in or throwing them out will not protect the innocent.

    Lesley Cripps, Wallop, Hampshire

    Sending a clear message

    AS THE Commonwealth continues to hold back and does nothing to put a stop to Mugabe’s reign of terror, I can only assume this is a clear message to Mugabe that it is all right to behave in such a brutal and undemocratic manner in order to win an election. I think it is time the Commonwealth was disbanded. Britain should cut the ties that bind her to her former colonies and set them adrift.

    Margaret M. Lloyd, Portishead

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    March 14, 2002

    Mugabe 'wins' and the voters of Zimbabwe lose yet again

    Shamelessly corrupt election will be the last straw for a bankrupt country
    Yesterday was a fraught one for John and Shirley, whose farm lies within striking distance of Harare. As news of the election results in Zimbabwe came through, they began the kind of preparations they had so often thought about, but hoped they would never have to make.

    First they tidied up the house — “no bad thing,” said Shirley, “it needed doing.” Then they brought their suitcases down from the attic. Finally, they fetched the furniture from the thatched barn outside, stacking it in the hall. “The place looks as if it was a Pickford’s depository,” she said, “but the barn is just a little too vulnerable to fire.” They do not yet know if they will be forced to leave, but they do know they have to be ready.

    Thus Zimbabwe marked the end of what one observer called this “poisoned” election — by battening down the hatches. John and Shirley (not, of course their real names; to identify them would be far too dangerous) have grown used to crisis, but not inured to it. They have lived and farmed in the country for more than 50 years and consider themselves as much a part of Zimbabwe as any Zanu (PF) supporter. They knew that the election was being massively rigged when they learnt that thousands of voters in Harare, where opposition to President Mugabe is strongest, were being denied access to polling booths; at one station, they heard, only 750 people were able to register their vote in the course of 15 hours. By the time the polls had closed, an estimated 200,000 voters had been barred in the capital alone, and turnout was officially recorded as less than 50 per cent.

    Yet in some country areas, such as Mashonaland, where support for Zanu (PF) was high, an astounding 75 per cent turnout was reported. Yesterday the Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, called the result “the worst case of polling fraud ever recorded” and he may not be far wrong. The Norwegian observers said that the election had failed to meet “accepted criteria”, and described “an environment of strong polarisation, political violence and an election administration with severe shortcomings”. The bureaucratic language masks the harsh reality of what has happened.

    “There is such cynicism here,” said Shirley. “Last night we watched Chinamasa (Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice Minister proclaim there had been no intimidation. The BBC news then showed film of soldiers firing shots over the crowd.”

    In the aftermath of the election, that cynicism is beginning to spread beyond the borders of Zimbabwe, exposing deep divisions between black Africa and the rest of the world. Yesterday observers from Nigeria and South Africa pronounced the election result “legitimate”, and said that the “people of Zimbabwe have spoken”. In a phrase that will produce a chill in London, Brussels and Washington, the South African mission said it was “heartened” by the result. There had been, it conceded, a few cases of ballot-rigging, but on the whole the process had been open and fair. The shabbiness of that verdict suggests that for black African states expediency has taken the place of morality.

    Everything now hinges on whether President Mbeki of South Africa will accept it. If he does so, then Tony Blair’s pledge to work with him to help to heal the scars of modern Africa will have turned to dust. No one who cares about justice, or the fate of thousands of black Zimbabweans who now face vengeance from Mr Mugabe’s henchmen for having dared to oppose him, can possibly condone the way this election was conducted or the result it produced. Only by speaking out against it, and by moving to isolate Mr Mugabe and his regime, can the outside world hope to exert any meaningful pressure on a country which now faces economic and political bankruptcy.

    The Commonwealth, which has already fallen at the first hurdle by failing to issue a forthright condemnation of fraud and intimidation before the elections, can redeem itself only by strongly censuring the rigged polls and state terrorism and suspending. Zimbabawe from membership. The history of the country and sanctions is not an encouraging one, but if there is no agreement now to impose them, the organisation will be seen as tacitly supporting a corrupt regime.

    John and Shirley have already had a foretaste of what lies ahead. Three days ago, a battered truck from the local Zanu (PF) headquarters arrived at their farm gate, carrying a gang of “war veterans”. They asked for firewood.

    Some farm-workers who came down to talk to them were seized, beaten up, and badly wounded. Their feet were pounded with clubs, and their eyelids burnt by cigarettes. A local human rights group was contacted, and was able to treat their wounds, take statements and give whatever help they could, but the incident was traumatic for everyone.

    The truck has since been back, and John and Shirley have instructed their workers to take to the hills every time it appears. How long they can keep this up, they don’t know. Earlier this year a 30-acre section of their farm was “designated”, that is, appropriated for the use of someone high up in Mugabe’s hierarchy. It is only a matter of time before the rest goes the same way.

    But Shirley and her husband will not leave unless forced to do so. They are responsible for 16 workers on the farm, all of whom have extended families, which, like them, have been together in the same place for generations.

    There has been a long drought this year, and a severe shortage of maize, so Shirley estimates that they are now having to feed 150 hungry mouths every day. If they go, these people face almost certain starvation, as well as violent retribution for working with white landowners.

    No one living on a white farm can feel secure in the new Zimbabwe, and no one who cares about Africa can feel anything but deep foreboding as they contemplate the nature of its ruling regime and the man who heads it.

    “All we want is good government,” said Shirley. That, however, is the last thing on offer. When I asked her the identity of those who were intimidating her workers and threatening her property, there was a long silence down the telephone. “The powers that be,” she said finally.

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    Zimbabwe's tragedy
    Mugabe's villainy and Africa's cynical complicity

    Robert Mugabe has been declared the victor of a presidential election he has stolen, not won. It is the miserable conclusion of two years of ruthless preparation not merely to rig the vote itself, but to destroy all prospect of a fair electoral challenge to his ruinous policies. Paid thugs in his Zanu-PF party have used beatings, torture, kidnap and murder, in many instances in full view of police who offered no protection, to cow both voters and their would-be representatives. He starts his fifth term in power as a dictator, disgraced before the people he has cheated and before the world.

    There is no shadow of doubt about this, even less than there was two years ago in the parliamentary election which gave Morgan Tsvangirai, the former trade unionist who leads the Movement for Democratic Change, the moral victory as well as an impressive 57 out of 120 seats for the MDC. Zanu-PF rigged that election, too; but the voters’ refusal to be intimidated convinced Mr Mugabe that the job had not been done well enough. The popular Mr Tsvangirai was a credible challenger for the presidency. Mr Mugabe then set out to frustrate that challenge by every illegitimate method and parliamentary trick at his command.

    The electoral register was rewritten for this contest. Rural voters had to be vouched for by village chiefs, Zanu-PF trusties drawing state salaries. As “proofs of identity” qualifying them to vote, urban dwellers had to produce title deeds, utility bills or rental agreements, effectively disenfranchising hundreds of thousands living in shanty-town shacks. The domestic press was muzzled by laws that made it a crime to print news of which the Government disapproved; foreign reporting was tightly restricted and the BBC banned from Zimbabwe during the election campaign.

    Yet even so, under the most intense intimidation, the MDC kept up its election rallies and voters risked beatings or worse to listen. Voters formed long queues, knowing how little their vote would be allowed to count; in panic, urban booths were shut. The turnout itself tells the story: suspiciously low in the towns where Mr Tsvangirai’s support is strongest, highest in those parts of the country firmly in Zanu-PF’s grip.

    Thus has the bravest, best organised and most tenacious democratic opposition movement in Africa’s history gone down to defeat. Mr Tsvangirai, aware of the great danger to which protest would expose his many supporters, has appealed for calm. He himself may now, outrageously, be arrested on charges of treason. Mr Mugabe has said as much. A man who, back in 1982, sent in brigades to massacre 20,000 Ndebele must be judged ready to carry out his threat.

    Mr Tsvangirai, and the men and women who have conquered their fear in his support, deserve the unstinting support of all African leaders with any claim to democratic legitimacy. They are not getting that support. The Organisation of African Unity, true to its reputation as a despots’ club, has pronounced the poll to be “transparent, credible, free and fair”. Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi has congratulated his “dear brother” on the “confidence and high esteem the people of Zimbabwe hold in you”. Tanzania’s President delights in his “richly deserved” triumph. The observers sent by South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, ferociously mocked at home for their complacency, term the outcome “legitimate”, though they could not quite bring out the words “free and fair”.

    The teams sent by Nigeria and the Commonwealth, each headed by former Nigerian rulers who never stood for election themselves, have yet to pronounce. But it is likely that Africa’s leaders will refuse yet again to acknowledge how evil has betrayed African hopes. South Africa and Nigeria, along with Australia, have been entrusted with advising the Commonwealth. If this body splits along racial lines and does nothing in defence of the principles for which it stands, it is finished. So will be Tony Blair’s dreams of a new compact for Africa, with fresh aid to reward a break with its terrible past. Africa’s leaders have a choice between that fresh start, and solidarity with their “brother” Mugabe. Mr Blair must insist at once, and mean it too, that they cannot have both.

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    Zimbabwe: High risk of human rights violations as international observers
    leave the country and military presence builds up

    * News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
    International *

    13 March 2002 AFR 46/021/2002

    Amnesty International is gravely concerned about the high risk of violence
    in the aftermath of the elections held on 9, 10 and 11 March 2002,
    especially in light of the departure of many international election

    On the basis of previous experience in Zimbabwe, the organization is
    concerned that there is a risk of attacks on perceived supporters of the
    opposition and of violence around any protests about the election results.

    "The police should abide by international human rights standards when
    fulfilling their duties.  Action should be taken to ensure that the post
    election period is free from the human rights abuses that have marred the
    run up to the presidential elections," Amnesty International said.

    While many election observers leave the country, military presence is being
    built up in towns such as Bulawayo, Gweru and Kwekwe and human rights
    defenders are coming under increased threat, all of which raises serious
    concerns over the human rights situation in the country.  "As such, the
    international community should maintain its active engagement with the
    Zimbabwe authorities to ensure that human rights violations are prevented,"
    the organization added.

    The army has been involved in a pattern of punishment beatings on members of
    communities who voted for the opposition in previous elections.  The pattern
    of army involvement in carrying out reprisal beatings and torture against
    the Zimbabwean population was clear in the aftermath of previous elections
    in 1985 and 1990 as well as more recently in the June 2000 parliamentary
    elections when the army occupied Harare's high density suburbs whose
    residents voted for the opposition in overwhelming numbers.  Similarly,
    after the 1998 food riots, army soldiers carried out house-to-house beatings
    of residents in those same suburbs.  Amnesty International appeals to the
    Zimbabwean authorities not to use the military in reprisals against those
    perceived to have voted against the ruling party in the recent elections.

    As many of the international observers leave, Amnesty International fears
    that opposition supporters, members of non-governmental organizations,
    employees of the independent press and other perceived opponents of the
    government are at risk, both immediately and in the event of any popular
    protest against the election results.  Members of the Zimbabwe African
    National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) youth brigades have been involved
    in serious human rights violations, including killings, torture and threats
    to physical safety of people perceived to be opposition supporters in the
    run up and during the elections.

    "The Zimbabwe authorities should refrain from or allow the targeting of
    opposition supporters for any form of reprisal and that public
    demonstrations are policed impartially and in accordance with international
    standards," the organization urged.

    "The Southern African Development Community (SADC), and in particular South
    Africa, should take firm action to press the Zimbabwe authorities to uphold
    the rule of law and prevent widespread human rights violations.  The police
    must act professionally and in accordance with international human rights
    standards in maintaining order in this volatile period," Amnesty
    International said.

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