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

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An update.

We are now nearly down to the wire in this election process - just 18 days
to go! The past few weeks have simply flown by as we have frantically tried
to get the campaign under way and tried to deal with the hundreds of things
that come up at a time like this.

A few things stand out - the Zanu led regime has not allowed us space in the
media, our press ads are still being rejected and we have had just two short
TV opportunities - one lasting 10 minutes and the other a short hostile
interview with Tendai Biti and two ZTV sycophants. I understand we have 70
minutes of TV time left! In the meantime the propaganda pours out from every

Just as serious - because it impacts in the rural areas, the radio signals
from SW Radio have been jammed for the past 10 days by a radio transmitter
operating from the Gweru facilities of the national broadcaster. The source
of this new equipment is thought to be Iran - that pillar of democracy and
freedom in the Middle East. So far we have not heard if the VOA broadcasts
are affected but they run for only a couple of hours a day - unlike SW which
now has a 5 hour broadcast each day.

Money has been very tight throughout - but thank you for all those who have
sent money to us by whatever means - it has kept us going. Do not ease up -
we will need the funds right through and the big effort on polling day is
still not funded. Thank you also to all the thousands of volunteers who are
running around, doing odd jobs and making things happen. They are a
wonderful crowd to work with.

One new development is the Zimbabwean, a new weekly which is published in
London and printed in South Africa and the UK and is finding its way to
Zimbabwe in small numbers. The Daily News - once the leading daily in
Zimbabwe and a major influence for the forces of democracy is still closed
down. We understand from sources that a High Court Judge has ruled in their
favor but the judgment is simply being held up by the government to stop it
being allowed to come back onto the streets. The State is watching the
Zimbabwean very closely - when my wife bought a copy the other day she saw a
CIO operative standing there taking note of who was buying the paper.

The jamming of SW and the failure to allow the Daily News back are both
interesting developments as is the refusal to accept adverts in the State
controlled press. It points to a very nervous and insecure government who is
much less confident of itself and a victory than they were a few months ago.

We have had one report of a meeting at provincial level where Zanu PF
leadership argued over the use of force against the MDC. One member of the
Zanu PF politburo arguing that if the Party does not resume an all out
attack on the opposition using traditional means - violence - they would be
in trouble. Others argued that the widespread use of violence against the
opposition would be counter productive and would undermine the effort to
secure regional recognition for the outcome. International recognition is a
lost cause as far as they are concerned.

This week we also saw the first Zanu PF press adverts in the State
controlled press - two full-page ads which drew quite a bit of attention and
amusement. Apart from the nonsense about the Prime Minister in the UK, Tony
Blair, the adverts said that a vote for Zanu PF would mean an end to fuel
shortages (we have long lines of vehicles at filling stations in the south
at present) and "racially inspired" shortages of commodities. Yesterday we
could not find fresh milk, soap powder, sugar, soft drinks and beef was
double the price in South Africa. The advert also promised more "corporate
takeovers". I am sure that will help their fund raising campaign.

Another thing that is very clear is that they are missing Jonathan Moyo. He
may have been a pain in the butt for the past four years - but he was an
effective Minister and Zanu PF is very short on those. In fact you cannot
identify a current Minister who is effective in his job. We have a Minister
of Finance who is in jail, an acting Minister who is totally ineffective, a
Minister of Agriculture who frankly, is a buffoon and the rest you never
hear from. The edge has gone from the Zanu PF propaganda campaign and what
they are currently putting out is weak and ineffective.

We now have Moyo - in his bunker at Tsholotsho, firing salvoes at Zanu PF.
He has suddenly discovered that Zanu does not play be the rules. His claim
this week that Zanu spokesmen are threatening the people in Tsholotsho with
a resumption of Gukurahundi (genocide) is nothing new to the MDC - they have
been saying this for the past five years in Matabeleland.

While all this has been going on the MDC campaign has been in full swing. I
am sure everyone has seen the physical evidence of this. We must apologize
for the graffiti - we promise we will clean it up if we win or Zanu PF will
paint over it if they steal the election again. Our rallies are all well
attended - the leadership is holding 20 rallies a day throughout the
country. Reports coming in from every corner are very optimistic and
encouraging. As I said last time, Zanu does not have a safe seat in the

The big issue remains the polling day. Remember what Stalin said, "It is not
who votes that counts, but who counts the vote." He said that a long time
ago - it remains true and this time in Zimbabwe we know who will do that
because the military or the CIO is running the entire election system.

The situation is more complex for Zanu PF - they have only one day, there
are no mobile stations and they must "fix" the poll at many constituencies
to win. So the rigging with false ballots must be organized well in advance
and the introduction of the false votes to the count must not be seen or
reported. As there will be few international observers and 8200 polling
stations this then only leaves the threat of the MDC as the only
organisation with the national coverage and capacity to field polling agents
at every polling station.

You do not have to be a voter to be a polling agent - just get yourself onto
an MDC list and the list will then be published and you are in! Then you are
allocated to a polling station, receive some training and some materials and
then go in and watch what happens at your polling station - reporting
anything out of the ordinary and ensuring full compliance with the Electoral
Act. At the end of a busy day you report the result for your polling station
to a constituency control center.

We also need vehicles - some 4x4 vehicles with tough drivers for remote
areas - vehicles and drivers who can handle the Gusu sand or rough terrain
in places like the Zambezi valley. In towns we can use any sort of vehicle
to help with food, support to polling stations and coordination in general.

The control of the polling stations is the key to this election - MDC has
the vote, our people are going to turn out in numbers but we must ensure
that their vote is not tampered with in any way and that only valid,
legitimate ballots are cast and counted. If we can achieve this - then we
can break out the champagne.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 14th March 2005

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Daily News online edition

      Daily News wins right to register

      Date: 14-Mar, 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's largest selling newspapers, The Daily News and The
Daily News on Sunday, might soon resurface on the streets following a
Supreme Court ruling today that compelled the media governing body to have a
re-look at the application.

      Sitting as a constitutional court, the Supreme Court set aside the
refusal by the media body, the Media and Information Commission (MIC) to
register the two titles and remitted the registration application for
consideration afresh by the media body.

      It, however, dismissed in its entirety the constitutional challenge of
the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd (ANZ), which had argued that
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) was

      The ruling came ahead of March 31 parliamentary polls which analysts
say look likely to deliver victory for Mugabe's Zanu PF, amid charges by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change that dominant state media outlets
favour the ruling party.

      The court upheld the ANZ's arguments in respect of three sections of
the Act, which ironically have already been repealed by Parliament.

      The court granted the appeals by the Media and Information Commission
against the judgments of the Administrative Court, which had said the MIC
should grant the ANZ an operating licence within 30 days, after which it
would be deemed to be registered.

      ANZ chief executive officer Sam Sipepa Nkomo said at a press
conference Monday that while he was "disappointed" that the Supreme Court
had been unable to accept the publisher's challenge, "our greater concern is
that it took over two years for this ruling to be handed down".

      The Daily News was closed by police in September 2003 for failing to
register with the government-appointed media commission under laws used to
shut down several other independent media companies.

      The MIC last July closed a private weekly newspaper company, Africa
Tribune Newspapers, saying it had failed to advise it of a change in the
company's name as required under law.

      The commission last month also cancelled the licence for another
weekly paper - The Weekly Times - saying it had lied in its application
about being a paper that was going to report on developmental issues rather
than political ones.

      Nkomo said he could not give a definite date on when the two ANZ
titles would come back on the streets, saying: "One has to remember that the
closure of the papers has financially crippled the organisation. Our
computers are still being held by the police at Chikurubi Maximum Prison,
and therefore we can only start thinking of publishing once we settle those
outstanding issues."

      Asked if the judgement was not just part of government trying to be
compliant with the Sadc principles on democratic elections and a free press,
Nkomo said with only 16 days to go before the March 31 election, one could
not say government was trying to be compliant with the protocols at such a
late stage.

      Lawyers representing government in the consolidated cases said the
Supreme Court had, by turning down ANZ's request to strike down provisions
such as the stipulation that only Zimbabwean citizens may work permanently
as journalists in the country, effectively upheld some tough elements of
Zimbabwe's media laws.

      "By referring back the application to the commission, what the Supreme
Court has simply done is to say the sections of the law challenged (by ANZ)
are constitutional," said lawyer Johannes Tomana.

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Zimbabwe Newspaper Refused Permission to Publish By  Peta Thornycroft
      14 March 2005

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court is refusing to allow the country's only independent
daily to resume publishing before elections on March 31. The paper was
effectively banned 18 months ago. Zimbabwe's highest court also overturned
lower court rulings that the government-appointed Media and Information
Commission is incompetent.

The Daily News asked the Supreme Court to declare key sections of Zimbabwe's
media laws unconstitutional. Its application was refused. The judgment means
The Daily News cannot resume publication, because it does not have a

The Supreme Court decision allows the paper to re-apply for a license to
publish, should it so choose, and the Media and Information Commission has
60 days to reverse its decision of September 2003 denying the paper a

Former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who crafted Zimbabwe's tough
media laws, described The Daily News as a threat to national security. The
newspaper's printing press was later bombed.

Since he was expelled from the ruling ZANU-PF party, Mr. Moyo has defended
his media laws as necessary, because of what he called an international
conspiracy against Zimbabwe.

All The Daily News' computers, advertising files and materials were
confiscated by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and many of its journalists were
detained before it finally stopped publishing.

The newspaper was critical of President Robert Mugabe and his
administration, and within months of its launch, was selling more copies
than long-established government-controlled dailies.

Human-rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said the Supreme Court decision was
expected, and the effect would be that Zimbabwe would not have an
independent daily newspaper before the March 31 elections. She said any
doubts about the legal standing of Zimbabwe's media commission were swept
away by the Supreme Court judgment.

If journalists are caught working without accreditation from the media
commission they can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to two years.
Newspapers can be, and are, closed by police, if they attempt to publish
without a license. A new weekly paper was closed weeks ago.

Sam Nkomo, chief executive of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, which owns
The Daily News and its sister Sunday publication, says he is disappointed by
the Supreme Court judgment. He said the Daily News would reapply for a
license and for accreditation for its reporters, although most have left

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Yahoo News

      Monday March 14, 03:10 PM

      Rival Zimbabwe parties pump up the volume

      HARARE (Reuters) - Rival parties in Zimbabwe are pumping up the volume
with political hits blaring from sound trucks, radios and loudspeakers in an
attempt to drown out their opponents ahead of an election on March 31.

      President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF is serenading voters with
songs such as "Sheyera Mabhuzu Mana", ("Firing Rocket-propelled Grenades"),
a celebration of the country's 1970s independence war.

      It's now in the top five popular songs on Zimbabwe state radio.

      A legislator for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has also written songs featuring lyrics critical of Mugabe's rule -- 
although these are not getting air play in broadcast media that remains
firmly in government hands.

      But the party is still getting its songs to the masses, using sound
trucks to promote political anthems in urban townships where the party draws
much of its support.

      Zimbabwe's battle of the bands comes as both sides gear up for
parliamentary polls analysts say are almost certain to hand victory to
Mugabe's ZANU-PF, prolonging a political and economic crisis in the once
prosperous southern African country.

      Critics say Mugabe has failed to deliver on international demands for
wide-ranging democratic electoral reforms and has instead doled out a set of
cosmetic measures designed to keep ZANU-PF in power.


      Mugabe's party has tapped the musical talents of national commissar
and elections director Elliott Manyika, who has churned out dozens of catchy
traditional songs celebrating ZANU-PF's role in Zimbabwe's liberation from
colonial rule.

      Manyika's eight-track album "Zimbabwe 2005" includes upbeat offerings
accusing MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai of selling out to former colonial
power to Britain.

      MDC legislator Paul Madzore has produced songs including a
reggae-inspired number charging "they have ruined the country" -- a clear
reference to Mugabe and his allies.

      MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said the party had tried to get its
songs on state radio but disc jockeys were unreceptive.

      "We have been denied an official outlet for our music but that doesn't
stop us from pushing our message," Nyathi said.

      "We have been playing the music for months while ZANU-PF has continued
to demonstrate their control of the state media by bombarding us with
Manyika's music," he added.

      The MDC, the biggest threat to Mugabe's 25-year rule, took most urban
seats in the 2000 parliamentary vote but lost in ZANU-PF's traditional rural
strongholds -- where media such as radio can be particularly influential.

      Tsvangirai's campaign convoy has taken the MDC's music into rural
areas where the opposition leader has managed to campaign relatively freely
for the first time in five years in the last three years.

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      Zimbabwe private radio 'jammed'
      SW Radio Africa, a private radio station broadcasting to Zimbabwe,
said its broadcasts from the UK were being jammed by the government.
      Listeners in Zimbabwe have not been able to receive the station for a
week, station founder Gerry Jackson said.

      "Our communications provider said they have rarely experienced such
efficient jamming," she added.

      The government denies the accusations, a state run newspaper reports.

      Only state-controlled media are allowed to broadcast in Zimbabwe.

      Ms Jackson set up a radio station in Harare in 2000 but it was
immediately closed down by the police.

      Back on sale?

      Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has given a mixed ruling on an appeal by
the Daily News against its ban.

      Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ordered the authorities to consider
an application by the country's former best-selling newspaper to start
publishing again.

      The Daily News, which was a persistent critic of President Robert
Mugabe's government, was shut down by police 18 months ago.

      A spokesman for the paper, Bill Saidi, said it intended to apply for a
licence immediately which it hoped would be granted before parliamentary
elections due at the end of the month.

      But the judge rejected calls by the newspaper to declare unlawful the
government-appointed media commission which licenses media outlets.


      The BBC said it had not received reports that World Service broadcasts
were being affected by the alleged jamming.

      The station has been broadcasting over three frequencies to circumvent
the jamming.

      "It takes them just 60 seconds to jam us," Ms Jackson said.

      "There's someone out there who is frightened of our broadcasts."

      SW Radio Africa started up in London in 2002, to avoid President
Robert Mugabe's media crackdown.

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Daily News online edition

      Human rights abusers face UN chop

      Date: 14-Mar, 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - In a move that may affect Zimbabwe, United Nations
secretary general Koffi Annan will soon proposethe exclusion of nations
which do not have a clean human rights record from the United Nations Human
Rights Commission.

      According to UN chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown, Annan has
indicated that he would propose for a new criteria in electing members into
the powerful UN body, which is headquartered in Geneva.

      "The secretary general will issue a plan in the coming weeks for a
complete revamping of the human rights machinery at the United Nations. The
goal of the plan would be to try and restore the credibility and have people
on that commission who really are people of stature and reputation and
record and come from countries of the same thing, with real human rights
standing in the world," said Malloch Brown.

      Human rights groups the world over had complained that the Commission,
which opens its annual session in Geneva, Switzerland, as from today was
increasingly dominated by rights violators that stuck together as a bloc to
prevent criticism of one another.

      Among the countries which have been members of the commission are
whipping boys such as Zimbabwe, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Cuba, countries
which have been identified as prime violators of human and peoples' rights.

      A high-level UN panel of experts advising Annan on U.N. reform
concluded that the credibility of the 53-nation commission had been eroded
in recent years because members were more concerned with protecting
themselves and their allies than in exposing rights violations.

      All the 191 U.N. member-nations are due to consider wide-reaching U.N.
changes at a world summit in New York in September. The issue of UNHRC is
set to top the agenda at the summit, which will be attended by world

      UNHCR was launched in 1946, with the mandate to examine nations'
adherence to treaties and conventions on issues ranging from illegal
killings and arbitrary detention to women's rights, child pornography and
the right to food and health.

      Members are elected by the 54-nation U.N. Economic and Social Council.
But seats are allotted to the various U.N. regional groupings, and most
candidates are put forward by these groupings without opposition, depriving
the council as a whole of any say in these choices.

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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

The Battle for Matabeleland

Mugabe and Tsvangirai take their election campaigns to an area where tens of
thousands of people were killed by the president's troops.

By Tafi Murinzi in Bulawayo (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 14,

President Robert Mugabe and his key opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, both take
their election battles this weekend into a province where a crack army unit
directly answerable to Mugabe slaughtered an estimated 30,000 men, women and
children 20 years ago.

Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party have only ever been able to control
Matabeleland, heartland of the minority Ndebele tribe, by force. It was once
the stronghold of the old Zimbabwe African People's Union, ZAPU, led by the
late Joshua Nkomo.

Two decades ago, growing lawlessness in Matabeleland by a group of around
400 disillusioned ZAPU dissidents - who killed six Australian, American and
British tourists - gave Mugabe the opportunity to crush Nkomo, ZAPU and the

Capitalising on his friendship with the then North Korean dictator Kim
Il-Sung, Mugabe used around a hundred North Korean military instructors to
train a special unit, the Fifth Brigade, made up entirely of the majority
Shona ethnic group, to crack down on Matabeleland in a campaign that became
known as the "Gukurahundi", meaning literally "the wind that blows away the
chaff before the spring rains".

From the moment it was deployed in Matabeleland in 1983 under General
Perence Shiri, the Fifth Brigade waged a campaign of mass murder, beatings
and arson deliberately targeted at the civilian population.

"Villagers were forced to sing songs in the Shona language praising ZANU PF
while dancing on the mass graves of their families and fellow villagers who
had been killed and buried minutes earlier," wrote Martin Meredith in
"Robert Mugabe", a biography of the Zimbabwean president. "The scale of
violence was far worse than anything that had occurred during the Rhodesian

To this day the Mugabe government has not acknowledged the tens of thousands
of murders the Fifth Brigade committed in Matabeleland, nor have those
responsible been called to justice. General Shiri, who was known as "Black
Jesus", was promoted to head of the air force and remains one of Mugabe's
closest supporters.

The impact of the Gukurahundi on Matabeleland has proved ineradicable. It
has left a huge, raw, unhealed wound among the people of the region who
remember the many massacres.

Mugabe subsequently established a one party state, but since the return of
Zimbabwe to a multi-party system, it is the MDC that has commanded the
loyalty of the people of Matabeleland.

Mugabe's trip to Matabeleland is a clear attempt to woo reluctant voters.
"He would like to win something in Matabeleland in order to legitimise his
rule," said Gordon Moyo, who heads a civic education lobby group called
Bulawayo Agenda. "He feels he has been ostracised in Matabeleland and wants
his government to be seen as a truly national government."

Matabeleland returns 21 of the 120 directly elected members of the national
parliament. But eyes will be most firmly fixed on the constituency of
Tsholotsho, an unremarkable, very dry district around a small town some 120
kilometres northwest of Bulawayo.

It was in Tsholotsho that Mugabe's aggressive and hyperactive information
minister Jonathan Moyo, architect of the country's repressive media laws,
set off a Zimbabwean political earthquake three months ago.

Tsholotsho is Moyo's home village and at a secret meeting there he plotted
with a dozen other senior ZANU PF officials to oust Mugabe's choice as his
new vice president, Joyce Mujuru - a fellow member of the president's Zezuru
sub-clan of the Shona, who in her days as a resistance fighter bore the nom
de guerre "Mrs Spillblood".

But Mugabe discovered the Tsholotsho plot and Moyo was sacked from the
government, ending his hopes of being elected as the constituency's ZANU PF
member. The truculent Moyo reacted by deciding to stand as an independent
against the sitting MDC member, a woman who was Mugabe's chosen ZANU PF

Moyo, who had exercised widespread patronage, courtesy of the huge
government funds at his disposal when he was Mugabe's favourite cabinet
minister, believes he can win the seat.

"He is seen as someone who has brought development to the community," said a
local schoolteacher. Moyo has been given credit for constructing a local
grain depot, tarring dirt roads and providing electricity to a local
business centre and several schools. He has handed out blankets to local
hospitals in winter and given computers to schools, in an area from which
more people have fled to South Africa to escape economic misery than any
other part of Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai, who will be desperately trying to defend the lacklustre sitting
MDC member of parliament, Mtoliki Sibanda, must have Moyo firmly in his

Meanwhile, Mugabe has a number of reasons for wanting to succeed in this
area. As well as gaining a foothold in Matabeleland, the president wants to
destroy the ultra-powerful minister who masterminded the mass invasions of
white farms as well as crafting the draconian Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy.

The president is willing to take the risk of venturing into Tsholotsho and
the neighbouring constituency of Lupane, where some of the worst Gukurahundi
massacres occurred, because Moyo is trying to establish a new network of
independents and disillusioned ZANU PF supporters to challenge the power of
his former mentor.

If Moyo loses in Tsholotsho he will be cast into the political wilderness
and Mugabe, who has now been in power for 25 years, will have crushed yet
another potentially dangerous political challenger.

Tafi Murinzi is the pseudonym for an IWPR journalist in Bulawayo.
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March 14 , 2005

~~~ Newsletter 056 ~~~
Love changes everything


Remember - you must be connected to the internet to view the images in this newsletter.

propaganda relief pills

You've got to rattle your cage door. You've got to let them know that you're in there, and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you'll sure have a lot more fun.
~ Florynce Kenndey

In this newsletter:
zanu pf cards
The cock has crash-landed
Diasporans: we want YOU!
Virginity and voting
News from the ground
Vendors are Getting UP for themselves
Don’t stay home: Spoil your ballot
Where’s the leadership MDC?
An election built on posterz

And . . . hundredz of Zimbabweans are Speaking OUT with Z phone cards. Keep it going, don’t keep yo lipz zipped – shout OUT!

Harassment of Zimbabweans by the ruling party
Zvakwana has been noting that the Iranian backed ruling party is making life unbearable for many Zimbabweans through intimidation and assault if they cannot produce a zanu pf party card. To help you overcome this Zvakwana can post some zanu pf cards to you and your families kumusha to make these next few weeks a bit easier. Especially for those who have a few burial orders in their pockets to catch transport away from the cities over Easter when we know that there will be so many roadblocks to get through. So send us your addresses and we will send you some zanu pf party cards. This is not to say that we are satisfied with the mis-ruling party, it is just that life is hard and we all know that having a zanu pf card doesn’t always mean you will vote for them. Email

“Been on a tour to my home constituency and there are a lot of things that generated interest to me. As of today MDC posters are all over the show but alas none of the zanu pfs, but these guys are busy pulling down the MDC posters and they are not putting up their own to join the game.”
~ MC, Zvakwana subscriber

Zvinondipedza mafuta kuona vanhu vemuno vachibvisa maposters emamwe
mapato avanenge vasingade. It is sad to see Zimbabweans pulling down election posters belonging to various parties. What we should be working towards in our country is respect for different opinions and political persuasions. It does not look good for grassroots democracy if we cannot let others express themselves. Next time you are tempted to pull down a poster, think twice! Saka kana wanga uchifunga zvekubvisa poster rebato rausingade, zvidzore!

Tony Blair is not an aspiring candidate
We are urging all Zvakwana subscribers to write to the ministry of mis-information and publicity, and to the zanu pf campaign team to let them know - “Blair’s not running in this election! Tell us how you are going to fix Zimbabwe, not how you plan to fix maBhuritish.” What is all this pre-election hype from the mis-ruling party saying that the 2005 General Election will be an anti-Blair election? zanu pf continues to decampaign Tony Blair, instead of addressing the real needs of the people. Vanashamuyarira nacharamba really need to get their facts straight. Maybe they are struggling to know how to build a campaign without the likes of junior minister jono. To express yourself you can email

the mugger - watch your bag - and your future

FREEZE! I’m zanu pf. Put your hands in the air.
And gimme all your money.

Whatcha reckon the carbon tax profits go to? Mansions? Shoes for DisGrace? Longlife Chinese Herbs for the small man?
Stop funding bad governance!

Where is the leadership?
All the time Zimbabweans and opposition politicians are criticising this “quiet diplomacy” from regional leaders who are failing to be more active on our crisis. But we are the ones who should be Getting UP and Standing UP for ourselves. Last month 120 MDC election candidates met in the posh Harare Sheraton Hotel. Some three zanu pf policemen came along and said, “hey under POSA you are illegal, so disband or we will arrest you”. Now if you were a potential new honourable member of the house, with 119 of your colleagues, would you have willingly let three people tell you to stop meeting and go home? Instead of making a media spectacle of such magnitude that mbeki, zuma and the like cannot ignore, they meekly picked up their feet and left whilst their coordinator was taken to Central for questioning. And we see the very same thing happened with MDC MPs in Matabeleland recently. Is this leadership? The fact of the matter is that the opposition cannot rely on some small isolated incidents here and there if they hope to draw adequate attention to the breach of SADC protocols. mbeki would not be able to ignore the arrest and detention of 120 MPs who were simply having a private meeting in a hotel. The MDC needs to develop a strategy to make the regime’s ruthlessness even more apparent to those who would prefer to ignore it. From our point of view something is misfiring in the MDCs brain centre. How can we criticise regional quiet diplomacy when our pro-democracy activists and politicians engage in it almost exclusively as their prime strategy?

Democracy invites us to take risks. It asks that we vacate the comfortable seat of certitude. We are nothing but whiners if we are not willing to put our concerns and convictions on the line with a willingness to honestly listen and learn something beyond our own assumptions.
~ Terry Tempest Williams

News from the ground
Thank you for sending us so many emails about what you will be doing come Election Day 31st March. Most of the people who wrote in said that they are going to spoil their ballot papers. Then the next group were complaining a very great deal about the poor performance of MPs in their respective areas. Overall we were pleased to read that Zimbabweans are not thinking of staying at home and just sitting having a few cold ones. We must beat APATHY. Knock it out flat: one time. It is true to say that the last two elections were stolen and thereby some are saying, “What is the point”. But it is important to be a participant rather than to just sit on the sidelines, always complaining. Here are some of the responses we received:

To tell the truth there is nothing to write home about my MP I hardly know him. I am definitely going to be involved in the process but I will spoil my paper to drive home the point ZVAKWANA, SOKWANELE.
~MM, Glen View

I had a chance to witness the rallies that were there in Bulawayo last weekend. MDC's and ZANU'S. I am going to SPOIL the paper.
~AM, Makokoba

There is not much activity in Warren Park and to some extent I’m not happy about the way proceedings are going. Maybe because I’m new in the area but I don’t get to hear about party meetings or campaign strategies to an extent that I feel the MDC is relaxing. Personally I’m of the opinion that we should not let anything slip and hold on to all we have but if we relax we might be caught sleeping. I’ve came to know some members but and told them of my willingness and desire to put in a hand in the struggle for a change of governance. To date all I’ve received is a party card, restart and policies.
~MB, Warren Park

What I and the people want in Mutare is change - change of the sitting MPS akaora nabhobho wacho futi. Vanhu vari kuda kuchinja, havasi kuda kunzwa nezveZanu yaora. Vanhu varikumirira kuvhotera chinja musi wa31. Actually 31 March is very far away.
~TS, Mutare

Spoiled ballot = rejection of a flawed and unfair election
At Zvakwana we believe that spoiling your ballot is the best action on Election Day. Why? Because there is no question that many things with this election are unacceptable. The opposition party is saying this all the time. The only news we get from them is information about assault, abandoned meetings, intimidation and such like. On Election Day when you spoil your ballot you will be clearly stating that you do not legitimise the sham that all these politicians are calling an election. Spoiling your ballot is ACTIVE, and it is a valid form of expression when faced with a flawed election. For all those who have been saying we do not support this election in any way - go and spoil your ballot instead of sitting at home on Election Day. This action is not a rejection of any independent candidate or political party it is a rejection of the process.


the cock has crash landed

Losing my virginity – apathy affects everyone from west to east
Three weeks ago was my first time. It didn’t last long. I was in and out in a few minutes. When it was over, I felt a satisfaction that’s hard to describe. Anyone who’s done it would understand. No. This isn’t a sex scene. I’m talking about voting. I’ve never been politically active before but recently I began exploring new sides of myself. Young Americans generally give more thought to whom they want to have sex with than to whether or not their political leaders are screwing them in a different way. Voting, however, is just the beginning of an active political life – like foreplay. You should pay attention to what politicians are doing throughout their terms in office. If you don’t like their performance, don’t just roll over and fall asleep. Take the initiative with phone calls, petitions, protests, and electoral campaigns. Good democracy, like good sex requires energy and passionate participation. Many people argue that they don’t have time to get involved. I don’t buy it. People make time for what matters to them. Maintaining a healthy democracy isn’t easy. It takes engagement and energy. If you’ve been a political prude up to now, it’s time to lose your virginity.
Message from Daniel, a young American voter

Sokwanele! Zvakwana! Enough . . .
These tireless activists are getting UP all over the countryside especially in rural outreaches. Zvakwana is hearing that their printed sheets are infiltrating all the nooks and crannies in a bid to give some alternative views to that of the mis-ruling party. And we were very pleased to see their new look web site hit the cyber waves. Log onto and if you are a Zvakwana Sokwanele supporter in the South email to join the movement.

link arms for peace - especially in ZimbabweHey hey diaspora freedom fighters
It is interesting to view a picture like this. Zimbabweans in Blairs land jumping and singing and waving some banners. At Zvakwana we wonder how many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora will come back to their homeland to exercise their right to vote, or maybe make noise like in this picture to protest a stolen election? Have you been saving up for the fare to come home to help make our election free and fair? Our struggle for freedom and justice cannot be externalised. Here at home we need you. Come give solidarity during this important election. It might be an expensive trip to make but the longer this struggle lasts it will be even more expensive if we don’t all put our money where our Get UP! boots are. Instead of using Homelink to build Durawalls and putting up placards outside foreign high commissions, come home and link arms for peace with your brotherz and sisterz.

Vakuru vakataura kuti “Mwana asingachemi anofira mumbereko”! Chokwadi tikaramba takanyarara tichafira muZimbabwe isina rusunguko ruzere. Iti kwaranu, simuka iwe mwana weZimbabwe usunungure ngetani dzakatisunga kuti ramangwana redu rinake.

What will you do?
Already we know that the 31 March election will not be free or fair. The intimidation is rife, the police are in the pocket of the small dictator and media coverage is heavily going in favour of the ruining party. But of course, zpf is planning on declaring the rigged election free and fair. Our neighbours in South Africa - especially thabo mbeki - are already giving the elections their approval. On 18 April we will celebrate “25 years of independence and democracy.” We fought a bloody struggle for our vote. And this vote is the most important tool we have in resisting dictatorship. We cannot sit back and allow them to steal it from us as they did in 2000 and 2002. Are you prepared to defend your vote non-violently? Write to and share your ideas on how to stop yet another election theft.

Local vendors facing the wrath of border gezi youth putting on police uniforms
As I was going about my own business in Fourth Street/Selous Avenue, I came across a young vendor selling tomatoes. He encouraged me to buy the tomatoes he had. His eyes were very sad and he said to me: “Mama, if you don’t buy these tomatoes, one of those young police will grab them from me and what will my family have tonight for supper? So I asked why the police take the products from them and he answered that it was because they do not have permits to sell and even if they do, municipal police also come and take away the products! Can someone please tell me why chihuri’s guys are concentrating on harassing people trying to earn an honest living instead of looking for thieves who are now rampant in the streets? I was mad, really mad with mugabe’s government. There are no jobs so the informal sector is encouraged, and when one tries to earn an honest living, they are harassed by those kids who still smell of pee in their pants! So I have decided Zvakwana, to Get Up, Stand Up and fight for the cause of the street vendor. I am also becoming a street vendor: we are going to stand our ground. From now on, we will not be harassed by those youngsters on bicycles. What do you think? Chido waMlambo!

Respectful dialogue
Just how serious are our politicians at local level about listening to the concerns of the people in their constituency? Zvakwana is doubtful about their commitment in this area. Yes, it is good to see some vibrant election posters out there. But it would be more helpful to have some fliers or adverts giving the contact details of our respective MPS. Otherwise how do we find the candidates to speak to them? Zvakwana is asking all parties and independents to publish the telephone numbers and office addresses of where we can see and speak to election candidates. Also, we challenge all aspiring MPs from all parties to hold cross-party public meetings and debates, so that people can get to know them better and to compare the candidates characters and platforms. This is common practice in many democracies and helps people to make informed, responsible choices about where to put their X. A big pom pom to Dongo who we see as the only one to do this so wonderful so far. Have you seen your MP campaigning in your area? Please write to us with your information to

A reminder to politicians who claim that they are fighting for tolerance and appreciation of diversity:
“I’ve modelled my characters after women like my mother, who was strong. I am happily married to a strong woman. I love it when my wife holds her ground and says, ‘You are out of line.’ One must be able to say that to one’s parents, one’s spouse, the president of one’s country. That is democracy.”
~ Nuruddin Farah, Somali novelist

Do you want to get some election nyayas? Join the Z movement. Email


Watch out for Zvakwana papers on the streets!


Zvakwana, Sokwanele, Enough!!

Make sure you SPEAK OUT - keep discussion alive, keep information flowing.

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Enough is enough, Zvakwana, Sokwanele.


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Zim Online

SA opposition party calls for sanctions against Harare
Mon 14 March 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party
has called for the imposition of sanctions on Harare for barring a regional
parliamentary group from observing the March 31 election.

      DA spokesman Joe Seremane, in a statement released yesterday, said the
ban on the observers was a clear violation of a Southern African Development
Community (SADC) protocol agreed by regional leaders in Mauritius last

      He said: "Zimbabwe cannot get away with a lie. It has misrepresented
the SADC Parliamentary Forum as some sort of unofficial body merely falling
under SADC."

      Last week, Zimbabwe barred the SADC Parliamentary Forum from observing
the March 31 election saying the forum should not expect preferential
treatment as it was not a separate entity.

      Seremane said it was incorrect to pretend that the forum, which is
made up of parliamentarians from all SADC states, was of no account. The
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party accuses President
Mugabe of "inviting only his friends", shutting out critical voices from the
election process.

      South Africa, which has already said the election will be free and
fair, has backed Harare's stance on the banning of the forum raising the ire
of the MDC.

      The SADC Parliamentary Forum was the only African observer mission to
condemn President Robert Mugabe's re-election in 2002 which was heavily
marred by violence and voter intimidation.

      Meanwhile, the MDC has said South African election observers came too
late to "observe the perversions" that have been taking place ahead of the
March 31 election.

      MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said the South African observers
mission was futile as Mugabe's government had already put in place machinery
to subvert the people's will during the election.

      He said: "This is an exercise in futility because they arrive to
observe a very contested election only two weeks before it happens, and they
will not get the full opportunity to observe the perversions which have been
taking place." - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

JOHANNESBURG - Mozambique last Saturday night barred human rights groups
from demonstrating against repression and human rights violations in
Zimbabwe for fear the protest could upset Harare. Maputo had initially
allowed the protest but backtracked on the last minute, according to David
Kalete, an official with Civicus group which was helping organise the
aborted demonstration. "It was cancelled at the last minute. The Mozambican
government felt that it would send the wrong signal to the government of
Zimbabwe . . . It could have been construed to be (Mozambican) support for
the opposition," Kalete told the Press. He added: "It was unfortunate
because the permission had been granted earlier and it was revoked."
Mozambique Foreign Affairs officials however said they were not aware of the
banning of the demonstration that was to take place on near the border with
Zimbabwe. Similar protests took place in South Africa and Zambia to
highlight the plight of Zimbabweans as the country's key parliamentary
election draws nearer on March 31. Amnesty International, Civicus and the
South African Non-governmental Organisation Coalition helped organise the
protests in Musina near South Africa's border with Zimbabwe and Livingstone
town on the Zambia/Zimbabwe frontier. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Mugabe takes election battle to urban areas
Mon 14 March 2005
  CHITUNGWIZA - President Robert Mugabe took his election campaign to urban
areas at the weekend in a bid to reclaim the urban seats his ruling ZANU PF
party lost to the main opposition in the last election.

      Mugabe, 81, who faces a tough challenge from the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in the March 31 election,
promised to revive Chitungwiza town's collapsed infrastructure.

      Chitungwiza, 30 kilometres south of Harare, is a bastion of the MDC
which has not been spared from the general deteriorating social services
across the country. Analysts say Mugabe is keen to snatch the urban seats to
nurse his wounded pride.

      At a rally at Zengeza 4 High School, ZANU PF officials presented
Mugabe with a list of grievances voters say the ruling party must address if
it is to reclaim its dominance in the cities. ZANU PF's Harare provincial
chairman Amos Midzi, told Mugabe that the government must solve the sewerage
and transport crisis in the town which had virtually collapsed.

      The MDC says burst sewer pipes, water shortages and unrepaired roads
in the town, are a microcosm of Zimbabwe's collapsed economy under Mugabe's
leadership. Mugabe denies the charge blaming the MDC-led council for the

      ZANU PF lost all urban seats to the MDC in the last parliamentary
election in 2000. Mugabe has however vowed to reclaim the seats from the
MDC, which he dismisses as a front for the West out to reverse his land
reform programmes.

      Mugabe promised to address the problems in Chitungwiza but repeated
his plea for the voters to dump the MDC.

      "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. - ZimOnline

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Business Report

Zimbabwe's banks say they are over the worst
March 14, 2005

Zimbabwe's banking sector could be over the worst after a crisis that
claimed eight institutions last year, but it would take time to regain
investor confidence, top banking executives said last week.

After weathering six years of recession, Zimbabwe's banks were plagued last
year by a deepening cash crunch, a central bank crackdown on speculative
activities and managerial misdeeds.

Some top executives have been hauled before the courts on charges of
defrauding investors, while others have fled.

But bankers say the economy is set to expand this year, albeit modestly, and
the central bank's measures to stamp out illegal currency trading, improve
capital ratios and beef up corporate governance are starting to bear fruit.

Richard Wilde, the chairman of the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, in which
Absa holds 25 percent, is relatively optimistic.

"The banking sector is in a period of consolidation and I believe the worst
is behind us," he said. "When people cannot access their funds and you have
banks closing regularly, confidence is bound to be low. But once the
situation stabilises I am confident that it will return."

Joseph Muzulu, the director of retail banking at the Zimbabwe Banking
Corporation, blamed the woes of the sector on lax corporate management,
which he said had now been addressed.

"Now that the bad apples have been removed, the sector can move forward," he

The collapsed banks have been placed under independent regulators. The
Reserve Bank merged Royal Bank, Barbican Bank and Trust Bank into a single

The central bank also introduced new corporate governance rules that banned
shareholders from holding executive posts in banks, and limited individual
stakes to a maximum of 10 percent.

All executive appointments now have to be vetted by the central bank before

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Pretoria News

      SA's rosy view of Zimbabwe poll 'dangerous and premature'
      March 14, 2005

      South Africa's policy of expressing public confidence in fair upcoming
Zimbabwean elections is "misinformed" and "dangerously premature,"
Zimbabwe's main opposition party said yesterday.

      President Mbeki said last week he saw no reason to expect fraud in the
March 31 poll, which critics say is skewed in favour of Zimbabwe's ruling
Zanu-PF party.

      The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said there was a growing
suspicion in Zimbabwe that optimism over the poll expressed by the South
African Government would help legitimise a Zanu-PF victory in spite of any
voting irregularities.

      "The MDC urges the South African Government to rethink the wisdom of
publicly expressing its confidence in the capacity of (President Robert)
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," the MDC said
in a statement.

      "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," it said.

      Political analysts say the elections are almost certain to return
Mugabe's Zanu-PF, blamed by opponents and Western countries for the
country's worst political and economic crisis since independence in 1980.

      This year's campaign has so far been free of the violence that
accompanied presidential elections in 2002 and the last parliamentary poll
five years ago, but the MDC maintains laws governing the vote favour the
ruling party.

      It also charges that Zanu-PF rigged the last elections to steal
victory, a view supported by many Western observers.

      South African foreign ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa told Reuters
that South Africa was not prejudging the election outcome, which was the
task of an observer mission from the 13-member Southern African Development
Community (SADC).

      "We do not believe that there is anyone out there who wants to
infringe on the rights of the people of Zimbabwe to express their will
freely ... we would hope that anyone who does will face the full might of
the law," he said.

      "We believe the role of SADC is to assist the people of Zimbabwe in
their endeavour to create the climate for a free and fair election," he

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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Health Crisis Threatens Zimbabwe's Neighbours

The collapse of medical services coupled with political and economic
instability means Zimbabwe is starting to export its health problems.

By Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 14,

The collapse of health care services in Zimbabwe poses a serious threat to
its neighbours and may worsen the HIV/AIDS crisis in the region, according
to a new report by a southern African anti-malaria organisation.

The Johannesburg-based group Africa Fighting Malaria says the country's
serious health problems are spilling across its borders as Zimbabweans flee
political violence, economic turmoil and poverty. More than three million
Zimbabwean refugees are in neighbouring countries. More than two million of
them are in South Africa and another 400,000 have reached Botswana.

With HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis now out of control in Zimbabwe,
refugees bring with them these rampant diseases from their home country,
said the report, entitled "Despotism and Disease: A report into the health
situation of Zimbabwe and its probable impact on the region's health".

The report, published last week, says that at independence in 1980, Zimbabwe
had an admirable healthcare system. One of the first acts of the new
government, of which Robert Mugabe was then prime minister, was to increase
spending on health by 80 per cent, spending almost three times as much per
capita than other sub-Saharan countries. Zimbabwe had one of the highest
rates of immunisation in Africa, and life expectancy rose from 55 years at
independence to 65 by 1987.

But as a result of the subsequent collapse in healthcare and good
governance, since 1987, life expectancy has fallen by 50 per cent to barely
33 now, said the report's main author, Richard Tren, the director of Africa
Fighting Malaria. "Lives that ordinary Zimbabweans now lead are not only
shorter, but more brutish and nasty," said Tren. "Their lives are also in
peril because of inadequate nutrition. For the first time in decades,
children with kwashiorkor [protein malnutrition] are streaming into clinics
and hospitals."

Malaria, which had been a minor health problem for decades, has exploded in
recent years because of the collapse of health services. The once highly
efficient malaria control teams "not only lack insecticides, but also cannot
obtain the fuel they require to drive into the malarial areas", said the
report. "The result of this lack of control has been a sharp rise in malaria
cases, possibly in excess of two million cases [in a population of 11.5
million] in 2004, five times higher than the low of 400,000 cases in 1992."

HIV/AIDS infection levels have reached catastrophic levels and because of
the collapse of health services, effective treatment - which can prolong the
lives of people living with AIDS - is virtually unavailable. The United
Nations estimated that by 2003 every fourth adult was HIV-positive, but this
is likely to be an underestimate. Some 3,300 people die from AIDS-related
diseases every week, and the population of AIDS orphans has probably topped
one million.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the scale of the disease is substantially
worse than is reported in the country's increasingly unreliable statistical
analyses. Dr Mark Dixon of Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
city, estimates that seven out of every ten patients he sees are

Incredibly, the International Monetary Fund believes that on current trends,
83 per cent of all teachers alive in 2003 will have died from AIDS-related
infections by 2010. Despite the scale of this disaster, the Global Fund for
AIDS, TB and Malaria last year rejected the Zimbabwean government's
application for funding because it could not be trusted to use the money

Poor funding and administration is exacerbated by the flight abroad of
doctors and nurses. Some 2000 nurses are estimated to leave Zimbabwe each
month. Bulawayo surgeon Mike Cotton says he can no longer carry out some of
the most basic procedures because of the flight of skilled assistants and
the deterioration of equipment. He says that a mere three general surgeons
and just one gynaecologist now serve Bulawayo's one million people. A decade
ago there were seven general surgeons, four orthopaedic surgeons, one
neurosurgeon and four gynaecologists.

The report says Zimbabwe's health-care disaster has ceased to be purely a
domestic issue.

"The exodus of Zimbabweans means that their poor health status threatens the
country's neighbouring states," it said, asserting that refugees are
transporting HIV at an alarming rate.

The report concludes, "The failure of Zimbabwe's neighbours to respond
adequately to the political crisis and deal with the refugee problem has
probably worsened the health status of their own countries.

"It is therefore incumbent on the SADC [Southern African Development
Community] states, but particularly South Africa, given its political and
economic power, to recognise the crisis in Zimbabwe and exert pressure on
the Mugabe regime to reform, restore democracy and reduce political
violence. Anything less will destabilise the region and imperil the health
status of ordinary citizens in all neighbouring states."

Fred Bridgland is IWPR's Zimbabwe project editor based in Johannesburg.
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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Mugabe Seeks Food Aid

Once-defiant president secretly tries to avert a looming famine.

By Alfred Tsotso in Harare (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 14,

President Robert Mugabe - who last year told the international community
that his people did not need food aid - has quietly established contacts to
secure emergency help from outside to avert a looming famine.

"We do not want food that is foisted upon us," Mugabe insisted last

However, with parliamentary elections scheduled for March 31 and
agricultural analysts warning of a serious shortfall in maize production, he
appears to have changed his mind.

The European Community, which has imposed travel and banking bans on Mugabe
and his ministers, has been the among the first to react to the new
initiative, quietly allocating 15 million euro to those Zimbabweans most
vulnerable to food shortages, especially orphaned children and people living
with AIDS. Food bought with the European money will be distributed through
such United Nations agencies as UNICEF and the Food and Agricultural
Organisation, FAO.

In a terse statement issued in Brussels, a spokesman for the community said,
"Unprecedented numbers of people [in Zimbabwe] are facing food insecurity
and rising rates of HIV/AIDS infection.

"The majority of the population can barely cover their most basic needs. The
health, water and sanitation sectors have collapsed. The country counts more
than one million orphans [in a total population of 11.5 million], mainly as
a result of the AIDS pandemic. Diseases that were once eradicated from the
country such as cholera and dysentery are again being reported due to the
absence of basic water, sanitation and health services."

UN officials in Harare said Mugabe had swallowed his pride and approached
them for help in formulating a major appeal to be made to the international
donor community as soon as the election results are declared in around three
weeks time.

"Food assistance will make up more than 70 per cent of the appeal," a senior
UN official told IWPR.

The government, however, has not yet gone public yet about the initiative
for fear of ridicule and a widespread outbreak of anger ahead of polling
day. Mugabe and his agriculture minister, Joseph Made, have spent recent
months boasting that a record harvest was expected from April onwards.

The UN officials say they will establish a food emergency coordinating team
with the government as soon as it is known which party will form the next
government. Preliminary work has been going on since last December, with the
social welfare ministry spearheading the "talks about talks".

Current limited supplies of maize meal, the country's staple food, have
created a booming black market and high retail prices that are beyond the
reach of most Zimbabweans.

The main famine and weather-monitoring organisation in southern Africa said
the situation was many times worse than conveyed by the government to the
UN. The Johannesburg-based Famine Early Warning System Network, FEWSNET,
said 4.8 million Zimbabweans - nearly half the population - urgently require
food aid or they could starve.

Council minutes published in Bulawayo, the country's second city, record at
least 24 people as having died of starvation since the beginning of the

"There is a lot of suffering in this city," said the mayor, Japhet
Ndabeni-Ncube, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC. "Many
children and some elderly people are dying as a result of malnutrition."

Hunger is also stalking the rural people of Chimanimani, in the highlands
450 kilometres east of Harare.

Traditional chiefs, who are normally the vanguard of Mugabe's ZANU PF, have
this time thrown their weight behind MDC candidate Heather Bennett, the wife
of the current MDC member of parliament Roy Bennett, who is currently in
prison. Heather Bennett - who lost a baby when ZANU PF thugs attacked her in
2000 when they invaded the couple's farm, murdered workers and raped women -
addressed a rally of around 5,000 people on March 6.

A local chief stood up and told her, "To hell with a government that can't
provide its own people with grain."

A drive into any rural area reveals stunted maize withering in the blazing
sun, and once-productive farms lie idle everywhere. Mugabe boasted that the
confiscation of white farms and the resettlement on them of landless
peasants would boost agricultural production. But the government has
dismally failed to provide such basic inputs as seeds, fertilisers and
tractor fuel to the "new farmers". Many have been driven to plant what few
seeds they do have on untilled land, with disastrous consequences for

When the first stories of the impending famine began surfacing at the end of
last year, agriculture minister Made described them as an attempt by
"enemies of Zimbabwe" to tarnish the government and to undermine the
"success" of the land reform programme.

Agricultural experts have since said it is unlikely that more than 300,000
tonnes of maize will be gathered in the coming harvest season. Zimbabwe
needs a minimum of 1.8 million tonnes of maize a year in order to feed its
entire people.

At the beginning of this month, having already opened clandestine
negotiations with the UN, Mugabe admitted that only 40 per cent of
confiscated white land allocated to new black farmers is actually being
utilised. He threatened to repossess such land. It was his first tentative
admission that his land reform programme had failed.

Alfred Tsotso is the pseudonym for an IWPR journalist in Harare.

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Concern over the absence of SADC and EISA teams at poll

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 14 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - Human rights activists and election
observers are concerned that two of the "most credible" election observer
groups in Southern African will not be in Zimbabwe for the 31 March

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum and
the Johannesburg-based Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) have
not been invited to observe the Zimbabwean general elections.

EISA has been involved in 20 elections, while the SADC Forum has witnessed
polls in 10 countries in the region since 1999, and was the only African
observer mission not to declare Zimbabwe's controversial 2002 presidential
ballot free and fair.

The national director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Rindai
Chipfunde-Vava, told IRIN, "We are very concerned - if the elections are
open and we have nothing to hide, why has the invitation not been extended
to the two bodies who have extensive experience of observing elections in
the region?"

The SADC Parliamentary Forum said it was not going to observe this month's
ballot as it had "not been invited in its own right as an autonomous
institution of SADC, which is a fundamental departure from the established

Brian Kagoro, chief executive of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a group
of pro-democracy NGOs, remarked that the list of approved electoral
observers included a large number of government delegations and few
representatives from independent bodies.

The Zimbabwean government maintained that it had invited SADC, and "this
implies an invitation to any arms of SADC", spokesman George Charamba told
IRIN. "We fail to understand how the forum can call itself an autonomous
body of SADC - what does that mean?"

The head of EISA, Dennis Kadima, commented, "When observers are restricted,
one questions whether the government is hiding something. We at EISA not
only observe elections, we have also been documenting electoral processes
for the benefit of all the countries in the region."

In the absence of the SADC and EISA teams, Chipfunde-Vava suggested that the
government in Harare should increase the representation of local NGOs as

"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 South African Joe Seremane, a Democratic Alliance party
parliamentarian and member of the proposed observer mission.

Two different positions on the SADC forum's proposed mission to Zimbabwe
emerged from the South African Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) last

"The SADC Parliamentary Forum ... has no locus standi in terms of official
SADC structures," the South African Press Agency (SAPA) quoted DFA spokesman
Ronnie Mamoepa as saying.

"As far as the [South African] government is concerned, Zimbabwe has invited
the national parliaments of SADC member states, which will allow for
report-backs to sovereign national parliaments post the elections. On the
other hand, the SADC Parliamentary Forum would have no fora to report back
on its findings," he said.

However, last Wednesday DFA director-general Ayanda Ntsaluba described the
Zimbabwean government's refusal to invite the forum as a "difficult

Ntsaluba said he was aware, and so were others, that the parliamentary forum
had not been complimentary about the outcome of the last election, and he
could see why Zimbabwe's latest decision would be greeted with "cynicism",
reported SAPA.

Referring to the comments made by Mamoepa last week, Seremane claimed the
DFA "was aiding and abetting" the Zimbabwean government.

The Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said it
was "increasingly perplexed" by the South African government's claims that
the 31 March elections "will be free and fair".

According to MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, the electoral environment
"is actually worse than it was during the March 2002 presidential

In a statement on Sunday Ncube said, "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 government
is not only misinformed, but also dangerously premature."

The MDC ran the ruling ZANU-PF a close second in the last legislative
elections in 2000 in a poll marred by violence. The MDC decided last month
to lift an election boycott following the government's acceptance of SADC
electoral guidelines.


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      Zimbabwe electoral commission establishes multiparty liaison
committees 2005-03-15 03:14:53

          HARARE, March 14 (Xinhuanet) -- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) said on Monday that it has established constituency multiparty liaison
committees to resolve disputes between parties contesting national

          Cuthbert Ndarukwa, the ZEC multiparty liaison committee
officer,said the committees were chaired by constituency elections
officers,previously known as constituency registrars.

          "They are already in place at constituency level," he said.   He
said the committees submitted minutes of their meetings as well as reports
of the situation on the ground to the ZEC.   In the past, Zimbabwean
elections have been characterized by violence, which has left hundreds of
people dead and property worth millions of dollars destroyed.

          Ndarukwa said the ZEC was encouraged by the willingness of all the
political parties contesting this month's parliamentary elections to ensure
that the elections are held in a peaceful environment.

          Five political parties are contesting in the March 31 elections in
which the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the
Movement for Democratic Change are the main contenders.   At least 17
candidates will contest the election as independents. Enditem

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Zimbabwe Facing Another Drought
      By  Tendai Maphosa
      14 March 2005

With only a few weeks to the end of this year's rainy season, some Southern
African countries have received only a fraction of their usual rainfall
which is particularly bad news for Zimbabwe.

Crops in most parts of Zimbabwe are wilting under extreme heat as rains have
been erratic. There does not appear to be any respite in sight as the
Southern African Development Community Drought Monitoring Center forecasts
below-normal rainfall in the region between March and May.

In its latest report the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network
says in the main cereal producing areas of Zimbabwe the reproductive stages
of the crops coincided with a prolonged dry spell earlier this year. As a
result, the report says, not much is expected from these areas.

The worst affected crop is the country's staple food, corn. A Famine Early
Warning Systems Network official, speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity,
said it is clear parts of the country will need food aid as a result of the
anticipated poor harvest.

A Zimbabwe Commercial Farmer's Union spokesperson, also speaking on
condition of anonymity, says because of the rainfall situation the national
harvest might be less than half the 1.8 million tons of corn the country
consumes per year.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union President Davison Mugabe told the
independent Sunday newspaper, The Standard, that most of the southern part
of the country was the worst hit. He said crops in other parts of the
country may recover only if it rains "in the next few days." The government
crop assessment teams are still to publish the results of their field

Zimbabwe, which has received food aid since 2001 because of successive
droughts, last year asked donor agencies to stop distributing food aid
saying it had a 'bumper harvest'. Donor agencies have also blamed President
Robert Mugabe's chaotic and sometimes violent land-reform exercise launched
in 2000 for the country's food crisis.

Despite the claims of food self sufficiency, the government has not denied
it is importing food from neighboring South Africa and Zambia. But a Zambian
embassy official in Harare told VOA that Zambia has, since earlier this
month, stopped all exports of its surplus corn because of the bad rainfall
situation prevailing in that country as well.
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From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 14 March

SA 'ignorant' about situation in Zim

Johannesburg - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe said on
Sunday it was increasingly perplexed by claims by the South African
government that the elections in Zimbabwe will be free and fair. MDC
Secretary General Welshman Ncube said in a statement that the MDC did not
understand the South African government's "ignorance" about the situation in
Zimbabwe. "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," Ncube said. "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, he said. "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." He said the
much trumpeted new electoral commission had no direct role to play in the
March 31 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."

Meanwhile, South Africa's Democratic Alliance said on Sunday that Zimbabwe
was in breach of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol by
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 revenge". 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 forum 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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Comment from Business Day (SA), 14 March

Finale or overture for Mugabe?

Jonathan Katzenellenbogen

Could the parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe at the end of the month be the
tipping point for the Mugabe regime? The poll will not be free and fair,
given the intimidation and shenanigans of the government in the run-up. But
manoeuvrings in the weeks afterwards could make the election one of the
final acts in the endgame of President Robert Mugabe's 25-year rule. It is
not going to be a smooth process. Continued silence and tacit support for
Mugabe from his neighbours may do him little good in this substantially
changed environment. He faces a far more unfavourable political landscape
than before the election in March 2002. Then, he was all-powerful and could
easily steal the presidential election. The most important contributions to
the changed environment are the strident opposition from the Congress of
South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to SA's "quiet diplomacy", and the
internal power struggle within the ruling Zanu PF to succeed Mugabe.

But the strong action of Togo's neighbours in west Africa - threatening
sanctions in protest against what they said was akin to an illegal seizure
of power - has also offered leverage for change in Zimbabwe. It has shown up
the ineffectiveness of the Southern African Development Community's quiet
diplomacy, and shown that there is a precedent for tough measures African
states can take against outlaws. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's
placing of Zimbabwe among six "outposts of tyranny" gives it a new priority
in US foreign policy. But considering Washington's overloaded agenda, the
pressure this puts on Pretoria to resolve the matter is marginal. It should
increase Harare's sense of isolation, however. Cosatu's campaign has
undercut Mugabe's refrain that the opposition to his rule is supported by
western interests because of his seizure of white-owned land. With the South
African Communist Party supporting Cosatu, two members of SA's tripartite
alliance are openly challenging quiet diplomacy.

President Thabo Mbeki continues to insist that Pretoria and Harare are
friends and that the election will be free and fair. The commander of the
Zimbabwe Defence Force, Gen Constantine Chiwenga, was given a 21-gun salute
during his recent visit to Pretoria. Cosatu and civil society's vow to
mobilise for democracy across the region must really worry Mugabe as it can
undercut his legitimacy. Until recently, criticism of him had been loudest
in London and Washington; now there is a very loud African voice. The
internal struggle within Zanu PF has reached the extent that it may be
weakening the party's campaign. Mugabe's firing of Jonathan Moyo, his
propaganda chief who was in effect prime minister, has damaged the election
campaign. He has had to recall retired veterans into government to replace
those ousted. In the environment of uncertainty for those who are not
members of Mugabe's Zezuru faction in the party, Zanu PF's ability to
intimidate the opposition could be waning. Some observers now believe the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) could be surprisingly strong at the
polls. A paper by Chris Maroleng of the Institute for Security Studies -
titled, Zimbawe's 2005 Elections: Overture or Finale - gives two
post-election scenarios. Maroleng says the most likely is that the core
faction for succession, led by former armed forces commander Solomon Mujuru,
will use the period to strengthen its position in the party. This faction is
backed by Mugabe and draws its members primarily from his Zezuru sub-group
of Shonas.

This scenario, says Maroleng, would allow Zanu PF to hold out an olive
branch to the MDC, but Zanu PF could also decide to go it alone using its
majority to crush the opposition. In the second scenario, the MDC gains
two-thirds of parliament and precipitates a constitutional crisis by pushing
for a no-confidence vote in Mugabe. To gain two-thirds, the MDC, which is
fielding candidates in all 120 contested seats, must obtain 100 seats as the
president appoints people to a further 30 seats. Maroleng asks whether this
could precipitate intervention by the armed forces, as their chiefs have
declared they would not serve under someone who is not a veteran of the
liberation struggle. Post-election manoeuvrings could break the stalemate
and bring change - but may also bring on turmoil.

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From SW Radio Africa, 14 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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New Zimbabwe


      Zimbabwe, I miss you!

      Last updated: 03/15/2005 00:33:44
      I MUST start by saying that this past weekend can easily qualify as
one of the shortest weekends of my life. I spent the entire weekend as an
integral part of the anti-Zimbabwe elections fraud demonstrations in Musina.
The small town is located near the Zimbabwean border just outside

      The weekend saw me drive up north in a very long and strenuous journey
on Saturday morning. Later in the afternoon, I was part of the protesting
marchers who converged at the Musina Police station. I was also asked to
address the excited crowd in the open heat of the day. I gave a very
inspired and passionate speech about the terrible crisis we have been forced
to endure at the hands of the Mugabe led regime.

      After the march, I never got a chance to catch a rest since I had to
immediately join the hordes of protesters for the all night vigil that
consisted mainly of revolutionary poems, dance and music. Media reports say
that about 3000 people attended the event. It was such a wonderful night!

      Both the street protest and concert were organized by the South
African civic society groups as led by Amnesty International, Civicus and
Sangoco. I attended the event as part of the delegation of the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition. I am currently attached to the Crisis Coalition's
offices in Johannesburg as part of its Media and Communications Programme

      And then after a catching a few hours of sleep I had to endure the
strain of the return journey to Johannesburg by road. As such before I could
even notice it, my whole week end was over!

      As it is, I have just returned to my Johannesburg office feeling very
exhausted and totally burnt out. Oh the grueling things I have had to endure
due to Mugabe's failures and crimes back in Zimbabwe!!!

      I initially thought of not writing an article this week due to the
fatigue I am busy trying to come to terms with. I really felt that I did not
have the sufficient mental strength and intellectual capacity to write a
decent article.

      But thank God, I have at last managed to pull my faculties together.
So here I am! I hope to write yet one more of my interesting articles on the
dreams I have for a new Zimbabwe.

      I must also say it was such a strange but fantastic feeling I had as I
slept near the border. Indeed, sleeping at the border opened a flood gate of
most of my precious memories back in Zimbabwe.

      I also remembered the days of my activism back in Harare at the
University of Zimbabwe and the subsequent years I spent in Bulawayo working
with such civic society groups as the NCA, Transparency International and
the Bulawayo Agenda.

      It really made me feel so homesick!

      By the way, I do love Zimbabwe! I love my motherland so much that it
hurts. Even though I have been in South Africa for more than a year now, I
still have strong bouts of homesickness.

      I feel this nostalgic hangover all over my body. I do feel it every
morning I wake up, every day I spend and every night I go through, I just
cannot stop thinking about my beloved home land. I really miss my beautiful
long suffering country.

      In fact leaving Bulawayo was not so easy for me. I had managed to
develop a very wide community of friends. I had also managed to get myself
involved in numerous pro-democracy initiatives. But then as an individual, I
had to accept the sad reality that I was no longer growing. It was clear
that for me to fully realize my full potential, I needed to leave the
country and broaden my scope of challenges and opportunities.

      I am sure that even though I had to leave Zimbabwe, a part of me
remained embedded in the country. As such, I will never forget my home land.
No matter what happens, Zimbabwe will always be my home. I shall never
forget my country. It shall always have a permanent special place in my

      I would like to believe that it is the same feeling of rabid love that
I have for my homeland that keeps me going. It is the very axis of my daily
existence. It is the fountain of my life.

      So as I join the current efforts here in South Africa to highlight the
plight of the long suffering people of Zimbabwe, I do feel it is for a
worthy cause.

      It is my utmost hope that one day; my people shall wake up to a
morning that will herald the dawn of a new era. I really am looking forward
to a new Zimbabwe that will make me easily forget all the pains and
struggles of my life in exile.
      Daniel Molokele is a lawyer and a former student leader. He is
currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His column appears here every

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      White Zimbabwe farmers find mixed welcome in Africa

      Mon March 14, 2005 4:32 PM GMT+02:00
      By Peter Apps

      JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - White Zimbabwean farmers whose land was
seized for blacks are setting up elsewhere in Africa where they are boosting
output of cash crops and creating new frictions.

      In neighbouring Zambia, the arrival of the Zimbabweans has coincided
with a turnaround in a country that faced famine two years ago -- although
local farmers say the link is not that simple.

      "The farmers from Zimbabwe have contributed a lot to the growth of the
agriculture sector because they are growing high value crops such as
tobacco," Zambia's Deputy Agriculture Minister James Katoka said.

      "They have helped to increase the hectares under cultivation and this
has resulted in the creation of many more jobs."

      White settlers in what was once Rhodesia owned much of the country's
fertile agricultural land, and their eviction from farms has been blamed by
aid workers for food shortages in what was once the region's breadbasket.

      Now, it is Zambia that has the surplus and is exporting to Zimbabwe.
The white Zimbabweans, some 1,500 to 2,000 of whom have left since farm
seizures backed by President Robert Mugabe's government began in 2000, are
not shy to claim credit.

      "We are regarded as some of the best farmers in the world," farmer
Alan Jack, who lost his farm in 2000 and is now moving to Nigeria, told
Reuters from Zimbabwe. "We understand the environment and we understand the
Africans in our dealings with them."

      Guy Robinson, head of Zambia's National Farmer's Union, said the 150
to 200 new arrivals had concentrated on tobacco -- increasing Zambia's
production by 100 percent in the last couple of years, but had played little
role in food production.

      "Very few of them have been growing maize," he said, attributing
Zambia's turnaround on food production -- now threatened by a late season
drought -- to local reform and distribution of seed and fertiliser to
small-scale farmers.

      Robinson said farmers from Britain and Australia had also moved to
Zambia, taking advantage of government incentives to rent land little used
by locals. Many Zambians say they welcome the new jobs and increased food
production, but some tensions remain.

      "If the land is taken by...foreigners then the same thing that
happened in Zimbabwe might happen here," said Gilbert Chona, a teacher in
Livingstone, southern Zambia, where some Zimbabwean tobacco farmers have set
up on the border with their former home.


      The white farmers would alienate locals if they set up electric fences
and denied subsistence farmers and villagers access to the nearby Zambezi
River, he said.

      "They have started doing that already," he said. "There have been some
small riots."

      Most of the departed white Zimbabweans, despairing of ever getting
their farms back, have quit farming and re-settled in Australia and New

      But others have remained in Africa, primarily in Zambia, Mozambique,
Malawi as well as Jack's destination -- sub-Saharan Africa's most populous
country Nigeria.

      He said an advance guard of farmers is opening five dairy farms and 10
producing maize, soya, rice and other foods, efforts were being made to
cement good relations with ordinary Nigerians, setting up a training farm
for local farmers.

      Complaints in countries where Zimbabwean farmers had settled were
mainly motivated by resentment from locals who had failed to take advantage
of fertile land in the past, he said.

      "It's pure jealousy," he said. "These people have been on the land for
30 or 40 years since independence and they haven't managed to achieve

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Tribune de Geneve

UN human rights chief chides international community
GENEVA, March 14 (AFP)

The United Nations' human rights chief chided the international community
Monday about its record on protecting civil liberties, saying it was too
selective in responding to abuses around the world.
Opening the annual session of the UN Human Rights Commission, Louise Arbour
said the international community had fallen short of its human rights goals.
Her remarks came as the world body's 53-member top rights forum meeting in
Geneva comes under close scrutiny by human rights groups, who charge that
the assembly represents a "do or die" test of its credibility.
The gathering, which continues to April 22, is meant to scrutinise respect
for fundamental freedoms and highlight instances of abuse such as torture
and disappearances.
But pressure groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch estimate
that about half its current membership are rights abusers, and their
political bargaining undermines the commission to the extent that it fails
to protect basic rights.
"Our approach to human rights diplomacy remains unsatisfactory," Arbour, a
Canadian, said in her opening speech.
"It is sporadic and selective. The commission must take the lead in
developing more effective approaches.
"So far, we have fallen short in the task of implementing human rights. We
readily give the impression of viewing declarations as our final destination
(...) and we readily settle for selective and sporadic implementation of
rights of convenience."
Arbour said the international community had failed in particular in Darfur
in western Sudan, where there are "mass violations of human rights being
"Our response to that human rights crisis falls very short (...) of our
responsibility to the most vulnerable," she added. Sudan was reelected to
the human rights commission this year.
Rights campaigners also warn that countries like Cuba and Zimbabwe, where
abuse was frequently reported, are able to claim "double standards" because
the United States is rarely taken to task for human rights problems at the
international level.
"Clearly one of the major problems of the commission has been the fact that
many of its members act not to promote the purposes of the commission, but
to undermine sincere efforts to promote human rights," Kenneth Roth,
executive director of Human Rights Watch, said earlier.
"This is a do or die moment for the commission. Either it begins to reform
itself or the matter may well be taken out of its hands."
In a perceived reference to the United States, Arbour said that she was
"particularly concerned to see that certain long established rights, such as
the right not be tortured, are now the subject of unprecedented
The United States has been accused by human rights groups of the torture of
prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and at a US military base in Cuba.
The question of torture could be raised in a resolution supported by the
European Union, according to diplomats.
Some 120 resolutions have listed for this year's commission meeting in which
5,000 delegates will participate including 3,000 non-government
The Commission on Human Rights was created in 1946. After initially
concentrating on standard-setting and reviewing particular themes, it gained
additional powers to examine alleged abuse in specific countries in 1970.
The body can vote by a simple majority to place a country under scrutiny for
a year, or more if the term is renewed. - AFP
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Mail and Guardian

      Politics of food

      Godwin Gandu | Harare

      14 March 2005 07:59

            Hunger is stalking the rural folk in Chimanimani, about 450km
east of Harare, and the political fallout could be significant.

            Traditional chiefs are normally the rearguard of President
Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF. But this time round, it appears that some
have thrown their weight behind Heather Bennet, wife of jailed Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) MP Roy Bennet. At a rally of about 5 000 people she
addressed in Chimanimani last Sunday, a defiant local chief stood up: "To
hell with a government that can't provide its own people grain."

            His protest reveals simmering discontent in rural areas where
people have remained loyal to Mugabe since independence. "Failure to provide
food," analysts warn, "could be Mugabe's downfall."

            A drive out into the rural areas reveals stunted maize withering
in the searing sun. Commercial farmlands along the Harare/Masvingo and
Harare/Bulawayo roads are lying idle.

            The humanitarian disaster confronting Mugabe's rural vote could
easily turn it against him.

            Issack Matongo, MDC national chairperson, has visited 90
constituencies. "We are winning this election despite what our detractors
are saying," he told the Chimanimani rally. "We know hunger is a problem and
the responsibility lies with the government to help you," he exclaimed,
reminding his audience that last year Mugabe had told the international
community not to "foist food upon us".

            Mugabe has been importing food in the past year, which
humanitarian agencies have said is not enough to meet the target of two
million tonnes to feed the destitute.

            A parliamentary select committee on land and agriculture warned
the executive last year that Zimbabwe had a shortfall of 900 000 tonnes.

            "I don't think contingency plans were put in place to address
drought," said Alois Masepe of the University of Zimbabwe. "Instead of
planning how to feed our people, we are concentrating on how to get
agricultural inputs in the hope that it results in a bumper harvest."

            Instead of dealing with hunger, Masepe said, Mugabe is targeting
the youth vote by donating computers to schools. "He should just donate them
quietly, not campaign using computers. It's an insult. Where there are no
textbooks, furniture, classroom blocks you don't need computers. It's a

            But there's a logic to Mugabe's drive to woo the youth. The
"born frees" do not share their parents' regard for Mugabe as a war hero,
and largely voted for the opposition five years ago.

            After Mugabe narrowly won the 2002 presidential election, he
went on a campaign to change the education curriculum to reorient the youth,
whom he accused of falling victim to Western propaganda and deserting his

            National youth training centres were created where school
dropouts had to go for a six-month training course that involved military
drills and lectures on the liberation war. The majority of the graduates
enlisted in Zanu-PF's youth militia that became notorious for its
intimidation of the opposition.

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MDC accuses Mbeki of 'aiding' Mugabe's regime    Basildon Peta
          March 14 2005 at 09:01AM

      Zimbabwe's main opposition the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
which had hitherto avoided criticising President Thabo Mbeki because of his
mediation efforts, has come out with guns blazing over his government's
suggestions that the coming poll will be free and fair.

      In a hard-hitting statement on Sunday, the MDC accused the South
African government of "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".

      Mbeki has said he sees nothing that will militate against the
elections being free and fair.

      "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," said the MDC's Secretary- General, Welshman Ncube.

      "This perception undermines public confidence in the objectivity and
impartiality of South African and the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) observer missions."

      Ncube said there was growing suspicion in Zimbabwe that the sole
objective of these missions was 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" was achieved.

      Ncube said his party was "increasingly perplexed" by the South African
government's claims that the March 31 elections would be free and fair and
that it did 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," said Ncube.

      "At present, it is clear to each and every objective observer that
conditions for a free and fair election do not exist in Zimbabwe. The
electoral environment is actually worse than it was during the March 2002
presidential elections."

            'The MDC does not understand the South African government's
      Contrary to the view propagated by the South African government, "its
counterparts in Harare" were not taking any meaningful steps to ensure the
elections would be free and fair, added Ncube.

      He said the voters roll was a shambles, violence and intimidation
remained prevalent, equal access to the state media was a myth and the
elections would be managed and run by the same "biased electoral bodies"
that had manipulated the electoral process to the political advantage of the
ruling party in previous elections, among other things.

      Ncube said that MDC meetings and rallies continued to be disrupted by
the police under the notorious Public Order and Security Act. Sixteen MDC
candidates had already been the victims of arbitrary arrest and police
harassment, and scores of MDC activists had been arrested for such innocuous
crimes as putting up posters.

      "The MDC urges the South African government to rethink 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," said the MDC
secretary-general, a trained lawyer.

          .. This article was originally published on page 1 of The Mercury
on March 14, 2005
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