" This morning I called in on a paint company in Harare where I am
consulting. The management and workers are almost all entirely black
Zimbabweans. The mood was sombre. You could cut the depression with a
knife. Outside I heard and saw one of the workers holding a small audience
with some of his colleagues – about seven or eight of them. He was
describing how last night in Budiriro Township he was beaten up by armed
soldiers who pulled him to the ground by the scruff of the neck, kicked him
and stole his cell-phone and his spectacles.
He and his
friends can expect more of the same tonight. "
Food crisis worsens as maize stocks run out Blessing
THE food crisis in Zimbabwe is worsening by the day as it emerges
government does not have the capacity to purchase enough stocks to feed the
Reports from non-governmental organisations distributing food
under the auspices of the World Food Programme (WFP) indicate that in the
rural areas the situation has deteriorated.
"In Lower Gweru,
Matabele-land, Muzarabani and Midlands the situation is worsening by the day
and some children are collapsing," said a programme officer with one of the
"The number of children attending school every day continues to
decline. The food being distributed so far is not enough."
United States government, in a bid to avert widespread hunger in the country,
has provided money to buy food for starving Zimbabweans under the WFP
emergency food aid programme.
"As part of its ongoing support for the
people of Zimbabwe, the United States government is pleased to announce its
contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme's Emergency Operation
in Zimbabwe," the United States Information Service said.
United States is providing 8 470 tonnes of fortified maize meal and
the associated transport and handling costs. The value of the contribution
is US$4,6 million ($253 million at the official exchange rate)," said the
The US government is also working with World Vision Inter-
national to provide more assistance to villagers in the Midlands and
"In addition to the US contribution to the UN
World Food Programme's food relief effort in Zimbabwe, the US is now
finalising an assistance agreement with the World Vision International," the
"This programme will provide for 14 310 tonnes of
fortified maize meal and other commodities for some 75 000 of the most
vulnerable people in Matabeleland South and Midlands provinces over the
coming year," it said.
The total US contribution is expected to be 34
"This amount will meet the needs of approximately 170 000
vulnerable people in rural Zimbabwe during the next 12 months. The total
value of this assistance is about US$20 million ($1,1 billion)," said the
Officials at the WFP however said only a few countries had so
far responded to the appeal for assistance.
"The funding and
pledges we have received so far constitute only 30% of what we actually
needed," said an official. "Japan, Britain and now the US have given us
assistance. Some organisations though have just made pledges and these
include US$5 million by the Department for International Development, a
multilateral donation of US$500 000, and US$11,6 million from USAid,"
said the WFP official.
most basic commodities look set to go up by high margins just days after the
controversial presidential election.
The Zimbabwe Independent this week
established that prices of foodstuffs were set to increase in the next few
weeks creating severe hardships for the ordinary consumer.
timing of the increases are rather curious, especially as they come after
Zanu PF secured victory in the presidential election. The move to introduce
price controls in October last year was seen as an
Ministry of Industry and International Trade
permanent secretary Stuart Comberbach sounded the warning shots when he said
on Wednesday the government was meeting industry and the private sector with
the intention of considering proposals to review prices of basic
A member of the Retail Association of Zimbabwe who spoke
on condition of anonymity said that prices of bread, cooking oil, sugar and
mealie-meal were all set to go up by unprecedented margins.
are already facing massive shortages of basic commodities which
have culminated in long queues on a daily basis. This week we were inundated
with reports from manufacturers of significant hikes in the prices
of commodities," he said. - Staff Writer.
Mudede inflates rural voter numbers Vincent
RAMPANT inflation of the numbers of potential voters in Zanu PF
strongholds played a key role in securing incumbent Robert Mugabe a
controversial victory in the presidential election, it emerged this
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change lost heavily in
In Harare and Chitungwiza where the opposition
enjoys support, thousands of people's names were deleted from the voters'
roll a month prior to the poll, while figures shot up in rural
Evidence of manipulation of the voters' roll has
emerged amid allegations by foreign correspondents covering the election that
there was massive ballot box stuffing in the remote areas of Mashonaland
where opposition polling agents were denied access by Zanu PF
"It was here that the boxes were stuffed," the Times
reported yesterday. "According to the official results, more than 70% voted
in the rural areas and only 40% in the cities, the opposite of what
independent analysts predicted," the London paper said.
said Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede revised upwards the country's voter
turnout by 500 000.
"Having announced at lunchtime on Sunday that 2,4
million voted, he suddenly said the correct figure was 2,9 million," the
The Telegraph's correspondent who was in Bulawayo during
the voting period said a ballot box containing 137 officially-listed votes
went missing from a mobile polling station in Umguza and when it turned up it
had an additional 1 000 ballots in it.
"At another constituency -
Tsholotsho - opposition polling agents carefully, and given the intimidation,
bravely counted 12 000 votes but when the registrar-general declared the
result the turnout had somehow surged to 21 000," the Telegraph
Whatever the truth of the claims by the two papers, there is ample
evidence that the registration of voters was irregular.
numbers of total registered voters differed from those Mudede submitted in an
affidavit to the Supreme Court on February 13. The disparity in the figures
was the bone of contention in an application filed by the MDC challenging the
use of a supplementary voters' roll that was created after the government
secretly registered people in rural constituencies after the official closure
of the exercise.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku declined to make a
ruling on the urgent application and is yet to do so.
said the figures showed that Zanu PF clandestinely continued to register
voters after the official announcement that the exercise had closed. In
Harare, the RG said in the affidavit that 888 663 voters had registered to
vote but this week the figure had dropped by 6 487 to 882 176. Bulawayo lost
5 426 voters.
There was however a marked increase in the number of
voters in Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo and the Midlands between
the filing of the February 13 affidavits and the election
Manicaland for example had an increase of 36 078 voters,
Mashonaland Central 23 794, Masvingo 23 588, and Midlands 24 066. Substantial
increases were also recorded in Mashonaland East (12 822) and Mashonaland
West (17 728).
National unity plan 'impossible under
Mugabe' Analysts cast doubt on whether president would entertain Thabo
Mbkei's idea of shared government
By Basildon Peta 15 March
With the threat of civil strife growing in Zimbabwe following
President Robert Mugabe's victory in a flawed presidential election, a number
of world leaders appear to be rallying behind a secret plan mooted by the
South African president Thabo Mbeki for a government of national
Political analysts are doubtful that such a plan can work in
Zimbabwe's volatile political environment. "Definitely not," said University
of Zimbabwe law professor Lovemore Madhuku. "A government of national
unity cannot work simply because the nature and style of Mugabe's leadership
will not make it work."
President Mugabe enjoys overweening powers
under Zimbabwe's constitution which made him probably the most powerful
president in the world in terms of the authority he exercises over his
That explains why he did not have to consult any of his cabinet
ministers or Parliament before he made the controversial decision to deploy a
third pf Zimbabwe's national army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It
also explains why President Mugabe has over the last two years ruled
Zimbabwe under an unofficial state of emergency, issuing decrees to overide
the courts, firing judges and usurping the legislature. President Mugabe is
not amenable to criticism.
Professor Madhuku said: "Unless [Morgan]
Tsvangirai and his MDC [Movement for Democratic Change] guys are willing to
be mere stooges without any influence in such a government of national unity,
I simply don't see how it can be sustainable.
The former Industry and
International Trade Minister Nkosana Moyo, who fled Zimbabwe, is a good
indicator of how a government of national unity under Mugabe might work.
Moyo, a respected banker, was brought into cabinet to revive the ailing
industrial sector and add a new flair to a Mugabe cabinet stuffed with
liberation war allies. But soon after Moyo started speaking publicly against
the 78-year-old president's command economy policies like price control and a
fixed exchange rate system, his destiny was set.
"Moyo's story is a good
example of how non-stooges cannot co-habit with Mugabe. With their enthusiam
to do things differently, I don't see fresh opposition guys lasting in such a
While Mr Tsvangirai is thought to be open to the idea of a
government of national unity, it is unlikely President Mugabe is. He refused
to accomodate the opposition in his cabinet after it almost beat his ruling
Zanu-PF party in the June 2000 parliamentary elections, winning 57 of the 120
However, Professor Masipula Sithole of the University
of Zimbabwe, thinks the president might now be prepared to consider the
option. "Circumstances have changed and the man is so desperate to cling to
power." he said. "In view of the current wave of international criticism
about how he stole the election, he might just as well want to swallow the
opposition into his ranks and quieten opponents."
differences would have to be overcome. While Mr Tsvangirai is a major
proponent of a free market economy with less state intervention, President
Mugabe has already abandoned an IMF and World Bank sponsored economic
structural adjustment programme in favour of a command economy.
Tsvangirai advocates a sustainable land reform process to allow
the commercial agriculture sector to flourish, but the president's
wholesale seizures of white farms are returning Zimbabwe to a peasant
While President Mugabe has promised to further
nationalise factories and has rubbished any policy proposals that would
attract foreign investment, Mr Tsvangirai's economic policies hinge on
winning back the confidence of international investors and the donor
Mr Sithole equated the difference in policy and approach of
the two rivals to that between night and day.
"While Mugabe remains
entrenched in the dear leader mentality which makes his word final,
Tsvangirai has shown a great inclination towards consultation and collective
decision making," he said.
"He Mugabe has served with two deputies Joseph
(Msika) aged 78 and (Simon) Muzenda who is 80. Trying to readjust to working
with an energetic deputy who is only 50 and enthusiastic in terms of new
ideas would be the tallest order for Bob."
Chris McGreal in Harare Friday March 15, 2002 The
Zimbabwe's trade unions yesterday warned of an explosion of
unrest in protest at the country's presidential election as Commonwealth
observers condemned the ballot, saying it was marred by state-sponsored
political violence, intimidation and mass disenfranchisement. The warning
came after police broke up a meeting of Zimbabwe's trade union confederation
to prevent it calling a general strike to challenge Robert Mugabe's victory
and to protest at a fresh wave of violence against opposition activists since
Commonwealth observers in Harare made what looked to be an
increasingly futile appeal for Zimbabweans "to put aside their differences"
after offering some of the strongest criticism of the election to date by
a foreign delegation.
The head of the Commonwealth group, General
Abdulsalami Abubakar, the former military ruler of Nigeria, said a host of
factors "did not adequately allow for a free expression of will by the
"It was clear to us that while the polling and counting were
peaceful and the secrecy of the ballot was assured, the presidential election
in Zimbabwe was marred by a high level of politically motivated violence
and intimidation, which preceded the poll," the Commonwealth statement
"We also found that thousands of Zimbabwean citizens were
disenfranchised as a result of the lack of transparency in the registration
process. On polling day, many who wanted to cast their vote could not do so
because of a significant reduction in polling stations in urban
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, told parliament that Britain
does not recognise the election as legitimate and that it would continue to
"oppose any access by Zimbabwe to international financial resources until a
more representative government is in place".
"Zimbabweans have been
denied their fundamental right to choose by whom they are governed," said Mr
He added that the elections confirmed Britain's view that Zimbabwe
should be suspended from the Commonwealth when a committee of three countries
- Australia, South Africa and Nigeria - meet to consider the implications
of the observers' report.
Election monitors from South Africa and
Nigeria have said they were satisfied that the elections reflected the will
of the majority of Zimbabweans, and a clash between Commonwealth members who
are for sanctions and those who are against could blunt Britain's call to
isolate Mr Mugabe's government.
The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change yesterday called for a "significant expansion" of targeted sanctions
against Mr Mugabe and his allies. In addition to the ones already in place
against a list of senior members of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF government, the MDC's
secretary general, Welshman Ncube, said he believed anyone doing business
with Mr Mugabe should also be subject to sanctions.
want all those pampered by Mugabe's elitist system of patronage to be exposed
to the full impact of targeted sanctions," he said.
The police in Harare
stopped the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leadership from discussing
plans for a strike yesterday after declaring the meeting illegal under
oppressive new security legislation. The congress president, Lovemore
Matombo, described the move as the de facto banning of unions. He warned that
growing bitterness among working people at the election and the violent
reprisals now being taken against opposition supporters could
"The situation is changing from bad to worse. Now the workers of
the country can no longer assemble freely. They are being beaten up by
[Zanu-PF] youths for their politics and the police let it happen. The
violence against them is increasing. We were meeting to try and contain the
anger, to direct it and control it. But now anything could happen," he
Mr Matombo stopped short of calling the strike the ZCTU planned to
discuss, in part because it would be illegal without a formal meeting of its
general assembly which includes some unions sympa thetic to Mr
But a source close to the unions, who decline to be named, said
the labour movement, churches and civic organisations are planning how to
mobilise people to challenge the election's outcome. "There is a lot of anger
out there and it might seem we should move right away. But Mugabe is brutal
and we don't want a bloodbath. He has the army and the police, and he's
not afraid to use any of them. We need protests that can be sustained over
a long period, not just a couple of days on strike and then everyone
loses heart and goes back to work."
Mugabe silent as criticism grows From
Jan Raath in Harare
PRESIDENT Mugabe found himself increasingly
isolated yesterday when the Commonwealth’s observers, most of them Africans,
said Zimbabwe’s election did not reflect the will of its people. “The
conditions in Zimbabwe did not adequately allow for a free expression of will
by the electors,” General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the chairman of the observer
group, said. Mr Mugabe, however, has stayed silent. On the day after the
announcement of the results he had still not appeared in public to comment on
The report blamed the Zanu (PF) party for most of the
violence during the campaign. It accused his Youth National Service of “a
systematic campaign of intimidation” against the opposition Movement for
“The violence and intimidation created a climate of
fear and suspicion,” Mr Abubakar said. He highlighted the failure of police
to act against violence and their leniency towards the ruling party. “This
failure to impartially enforce the law calls into question the application of
the rule of law in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The report found that the
country’s electoral and security laws “basically flawed” and condemned the
disenfranchisement “of thousands of Zimbabweans as a result of the lack of
transparency” of the voter registration system.
Jacob Zuma, the South
African vice-president, arrived in Harare apparently unaware of the
Commonwealth’s damning report and even the criticism of his own Government’s
mission. “Those discrediting Zimbabwe’s electoral process should listen to
what African nations are saying,” he told Zimbabwe state radio. “Democracy is
being practised in Zimbabwe.”
North of Harare, police reacted swiftly to
contain looting by mobs of Zanu (PF) party youths on commercial farms. Mobs
arrived on 15 white-owned farms in the Mashonaland West province, and told
the owners to leave. The farmers refused to go and police arrested several of
Howard to fly to London over Zimbabwe
election AAP|Published: Friday March 15, 10:30 AM
Minister John Howard will fly to London on Monday to discuss the Commonwealth
observers' report on the Zimbabwean election with the presidents of South
Africa and Nigeria.
Mr Howard said the report he had read on last
weekend's poll was very critical of the election process.
putting out a statement later today indicating that I'll be going to London
next Monday afternoon to have a meeting the following day with the president
of South Africa and the president of Nigeria to discuss this report," he told
the John Laws radio
report that I've read is critical, very critical, of the process," Mr Howard
"I'll talk before I go, if I can, I'll talk to the four
Australian observers, who've been there."
Mr Howard said he would meet
in London next Tuesday with President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
"Now it's not a very easy issue and
I guess there'll be a range of views.
"I don't want at this stage to
pre-empt that discussion by saying publicly what my view is."
Howard said the Commonwealth meeting in Coolum had given the three leaders a
remit to sit down and talk about the matter and consider the report against
the background of the Harare Declaration which called for free and fair
"That's the remit the three of us have and if we are
conscientious about our job then every one of us has to have a look at the
report and put that against the principles and reach a conclusion
Secret mission to solve Zimbabwe crisis By Basildon
Peta Zimbabwe Correspondent 15 March 2002
Britain and the United
States are backing a secret South African plan to persuade the Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe to form a government of national unity with the
Movement for Democratic Change.
The South African President Thabo Mbeki
sent his deputy Jacob Zuma on a mission to Harare yesterday to persuade Mr
Mugabe to embrace the opposition and make its leader Morgan Tsvangirai his
vice-president. Mr Mugabe, 78, won a fifth term in office after an election
over the weekend that has been widely denounced as unfair.
Nigerian leader, Olusegun Obasanjo, is also sending a message to Mr Mugabe
urging him to move quickly to form a government of national unity with
"substantial representation" from the opposition.
Tony Blair and the 14
other European leaders gather for a summit meeting in Barcelona today where
they will plan further sanctions on the Mugabe regime.
In a Commons
statement yesterday, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, accused Mr Mugabe of
"stealing" the election and heading an "undemocratic and illegitimate
Mr Straw said yesterday that Britain would not recognise Mr
Mugabe's re-election, and added that the Government would "oppose any access
by Zimbabwe to international financial resources until a more
representative government is in place." He did not explain what he meant by a
"more representative government".
President George Bush gave the first
hint that negotiations were under way, when he said this week: "We are
dealing with our friends to figure out how to deal with this flawed
With international outrage growing and Zimbabweans preparing
to flee the country en masse, Mr Mbeki wants to head off a clash between the
West and Zimbabwe that would have catastrophic consequences for Southern
The Mbeki initiative is discreetly supported by London and
Washington as a face-saving way out for both Mr Mugabe and Mr Mbeki's own
government which has yet to criticise the outcome of the election. Both Mr
Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo are on the Commonwealth troika that is to adjudicate on
the elections next week – the organisation's observer mission has
already decried the elections as unfair, because of the violence and
A senior official in the ruling Zanu-PF party told The
Independent yesterday: "Mbeki and Obasanjo want Mugabe to make it easier for
them to resolve the Zimbabwe issue within the Commonwealth. They think the
only way to achieve an acceptable solution is for Mugabe to move fast and
unite the country by bringing the opposition into the government."
54-member Commonwealth's credibility is now on the line, with pressure to
throw Zimbabwe out of the organisation. Mr Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo believe the
only way forward is for Mr Mugabe to make peace with Mr
President Obasanjo, who unsuccessfully tried to broker a
meeting between Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Mugabe during his last visit to Zimbabwe
in January, is expected to travel to Harare to attempt to broker a deal. The
plan calls not only for Mr Mugabe to embrace the opposition in a coalition
but also insists he show more tolerance to other political opponents in civic
A Commonwealth observer group has already dismissed the weekend
presidential election as being neither free nor fair, putting pressure on Mr
Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo, who have previously defended Mr Mugabe. The Australian
Prime Minister John Howard is part of the Commonwealth troika.
initiative faces grave difficulties. While Mr Zuma was still in Zimbabwe, the
police were breaking up a meeting of the country's largest civic group, the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. The ZCTU, which has in the past led
successful national strikes against Mr Mugabe, was meeting to discuss how
best to respond to the election. It is understood that it is mobilising civic
society to begin a series of mass protests.