For those in London, there will be a protest
against the theft of the presidential election outside the Zimbabwe High
Commission in The Strand. Tomorrow, Saturday 16 March, between 11am and 2pm.
Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans alike, please find time to attend
|African election monitors condemn Zimbabwe
African election officials say the Zimbabwe government failed to create free
and fair conditions for presidential elections.
The Electoral Commissions Forum from the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community says the opposition Movement for Democratic Change fought
the election on "an uneven playing field".
Though polling on actual voting days was mostly transparent and secret, the
forum noted major irregularities in the management of the poll.
The SADC's report said there was no independent electoral commission,
political violence polarised voters, creating no-go areas for campaigning.
It added that too many changes were made to the "legal framework," especially
within the last month and even days before polling.
Meanwhile, the government says it is preparing inauguration ceremonies on
Sunday to swear in President Robert Mugabe for another six-year term.
"When it came to the criteria and basic elements for freeness and fairness,
these were not adequately met," Leshele Thoahlane of Lesotho, head of the
Electoral Commissions Forum's 36-member observer mission, said.
The 54-nation Commonwealth of Britain and its former colonies, which includes
19 African countries, has criticised the elections as well.
"The conditions in Zimbabwe did not adequately allow for a free expression of
will by the electors," said General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the former military
ruler of Nigeria who headed the Commonwealth observer mission.
Many African leaders, however, praised the conduct of the elections, with the
Organisation of African Unity observer mission calling them "transparent,
credible, free and fair".
Story filed: 12:29 Friday 15th March 2002
If you can get this into your local newspapers it might help create
understanding of just what has gone on.
YET ANOTHER UTTERLY
* Why were 100's of rural voters declared "illiterate"
and on this premise
helped in the polling booth itself by polling station
officials from the
ruling party as to how and where to place their "X" on
their ballot paper,
yet when later interviewed by the writer in a safe place
away from the
polling station, a cross section sampling of these same
on every occasion that they had a clear and demonstrated
ability to both
read and write for themselves?
* Why did many rural
voters have to "run the gauntlet" of having to pass by
and/or stop and show
their ruling party membership cards to groups of
ruling party war veterans
and/or youth brigade members positioned between
the front of the waiting
queue of voters and the entrance to the polling
station - the very people who
have terrorised and raped and beaten and
burnt down their homes for the past
2 long painful years?
* Why were officially accredited opposition party
[MDC] election monitors
occasionally asked to step out of the polling station
for periods of time
during voting days?
* Why were so many rural
voters forced to show they had voted to ruling
party polling officers after
having finished placing their "X" on their
ballot paper in the polling booth
and before folding it and placing it in
the ballot box, by first showing
them they had placed their "X" on the
ballot paper and then getting the
ballot paper "stamped" before doing so?
* Why were so many rural voters
forced to stand in line in alphabetical
order outside the polling station
and wait for their respective village
head to call out their name, hand them
a [pre-marked?] ballot paper, before
they proceeded through the uv light,
name verification from the voter's
roll and the hand inking steps?
Why were so many rural voters told that Sat 9th and Sun 10th March were
days set aside for voters wanting to vote for the ruling party and that
11th and Tue 12th March had been allocated for all those wanting to
* Why were so many rural voters in areas suspected to be
strongholds, denied their right to vote by ruling party
deliberately ensuring that insufficient ballot papers were
at polling stations in that area and either not "topped up"
until the last
minute or not at all?
* Why were so many rural voters
denied access into polling stations to vote
if they were not able to
satisfactorily chant the prescribed ruling party
slogans and/or "toyi-toyi"
in the correct manner before assembled ruling
party war veterans and/or
youth members ["green bombers"]?
* Why were so many rural voters seen to
be told they were not registered
when polling station staff were seen to be
informed in advance of such
people's entry into the polling station by their
headman, who positioned
himself just inside the entrance door to the polling
* Why did so many rural voters have their National Identity
confiscated by ruling party officials, war veterans and/or youth
either before or on arrival at poling stations?
* Why do the
opposition party's monitors' physical tally of total votes
cast across their
entire rural constituency monitored, in no way tally
with the total number
of valid + spoilt ballots cast announced by Mudede
for that particular
constituency's "verified results?
* Why, after departing from our
constituency with all our opposition party
monitors on the afternoon of Mon
11th March [having delivered every ballot
box monitored accounted for with
every seal intact, was the senior
opposition party official left in the
counting centre to confirm
verification and vote counting, later abducted
forcibly from the said
centre by ruling party officials [thugs?], severely
beaten and dumped
nearby - he is now in hospital in serious to critical
* Why, after carrying out the above abduction of the senior
party official before vote counting had been completed, did the
number of votes cast for this particular area mysteriously increase
some 12,000 ballots?
* Why did we spend the entire voting period
having to rush and dodge from
polling station to polling station and to/from
our basecamp constantly
trying to avoid being stopped and interrogated [or
worse?] by ruling party
officials driving official Government vehicles, who
chased us about in a
most threatening manner?
Should I go on? Our
list of blatant abuse of the official process in the
above constituency by
"official" ruling party government personnel, is by
no means exhausted by the
However, space dictates I cannot possibly itemise every
individually. Suffice to say, I trust the above highlights the
prominent and most frequent "irregularities" observed.
above is what we personally observed and experienced in just one
section of this constituency [we only covered 11 polling stations out
total of 51 in the entire constituency], what in the heck went down
I appreciate that this is somewhat lengthy, but I ask you
to please publish
the same in the interests of continuing the struggle we
started until we
get what we set out to achieve.
shameless, fraudulent mob of cruel, reprehensible gangsters
[not of the gay
variety] must not be allowed to relax for a moment at this
in our history - don't forget we still have no sugar,
mafuta, upfu, et al,
plus now we have absolutely no friends left.
Aluta continua. Bayete
Africa 'damaged' by Mugabe poll
March 15, 2002 Posted: 2:36 PM EST (1936 GMT)
supporters celebrate another presidential victory
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- African leaders are damaging their reputations
by endorsing President Robert Mugabe's election victory, Zimbabwe's opposition
Morgan Tsvangirai, who won 42 percent of the vote compared to Mugabe's 57
percent in last weekend's election, accused African countries of losing their
"integrity" by supporting a result which he said was "daylight robbery."
Several African presidents, including Kenya's Daniel arap Moi and Tanzania's
Benjamin Mkapa, as well as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) have warmly
congratulated Mugabe for Wednesday's victory.
Other leaders to have deemed the election "legitimate" are South Africa's
President Thabo Mbeki in addition to Nigeria and Namibia.
"In my view what the African brothers are doing is to undermine their
integrity and their credibility in the face of the world," Tsvangirai told
Reuters at his Harare home on Friday.
He singled out the economic powerhouse of the region, South Africa, for
Tsvangirai said he had hoped it would be an honest broker in helping resolve
the political crisis.
"The crisis has not gone away, it has deepened," he said. "It is unfortunate
that South Africa will get its credibility put into question."
His disappointment was increased when Mbeki's deputy president, Jacob Zuma,
went further and said his country's observers had also judged the elections as
having been free and fair -- something they pointedly did not say -- during a
meeting with Mugabe on Thursday.
Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade gave a rare note of African concern.
He said: "From what I know, these elections do not conform to the norms that
I would expect for elections."
But he added that "he would not be in a position now to know if they should
be considered invalid."
The African response is in stark contrast to Western countries which have
accused the elections of being held in an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and
It continues to pile pressure on Mugabe's regime. The 15-member European
Union is expected to issue a communique from its summit in Barcelona on
Saturday, and they could extend the sanctions already in place.
A tripartite Commonwealth group, consisting of Mbeki, Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo and Australian Prime Minister John Howard are due to discuss
whether to take action during a meeting in London on Tuesday. (Full
Despite Nigeria and South Africa's individual support for the poll, the
Commonwealth's 61-member observer group issued a scathing condemnation of the
election, saying it did not reflect the will of the people and was held in a
climate of fear.
The Zimbabwe issue also caused a split along racial lines at a Commonwealth
summit earlier this month.
The worst the Commonwealth could do would be to suspend Zimbabwe, but its
rejection of the election could seriously affect access to the foreign aid
desperately needed to lift the country out of deep recession.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said the Commonwealth, a 54-nation
group of mainly ex-British colonies, would lose all credibility if it did not
Reflecting Western dismay at apparent African solidarity with Mugabe, British
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "I hope very much he is coming under the most
intense pressure from the people who have the greatest ability to put him under
pressure, namely his African neighbours."
Mugabe's government has said the vote was free and fair, adding it is a
mandate to pursue its controversial land reform programme.
Mugabe has remained silent since the election, but officials say he will be
sworn in for another six year term on Sunday. He has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence from Britain in 1980.
Moves by Mbeki to try and persuade Mugabe to invite Tsvangirai into a
government of national unity have been rejected by the Movement for Democratic
Tsvangirai said: "We will not be party to any Caesarian operation by South
Africa. We are not going to have short-cuts...and force issues on Zimbabweans."
Mbeki didn't sign endorsement of Zimbabwe
An endorsement of the presidential election in Zimbabwe signed
African President Thabo Mbeki, was attributed to him in error by
electronic newsletter published by South Africa's ruling African
ANC spokesman Smuts says an early version of
the weekly "ANC Today"
newsletter sent by email, declared "the will of the
people of Zimbabwe has
prevailed" and was signed "Thabo Mbeki".
signature was removed on the web site version.
"The statement is an ANC
one and was attributed to President Mbeki by
mistake", Mr Ngonyama said.
SAfrica's Mbeki says will of Zimbabwe's people 'prevailed' in
JOHANNESBURG (AFX) - President Thabo Mbeki said the will of
people "prevailed" in their election of Robert Mugabe as
In a signed declaration on the African National Congress'
said: "Amid chronic polarisation of the Zimbabwean people,
widespread intimidation, and in the context of clear flaws in the
process, president Robert Mugabe has won the presidential elections
"While the process was clearly not
perfect, the ANC believes that the people
of Zimbabwe have spoken."
added that South Africa's primary objective in this period now is to
with Zimbabwe's government to address the critical question of
reconstruction and to urgently deal with food
"Political and social stability in Zimbabwe are profoundly in
of the people of Zimbabwe and that of our own country and
"We are confident that the people of Zimbabwe
will handle the current period
with the same calm and maturity that they
displayed during the elections,"
Regimes' supporters fight suspension threat
Beeston, Diplomatic Editor
ZIMBABWE and its supporters in Africa
were last night fighting a furious
rearguard action to head off the country’s
threatened suspension from the
In spite of a damning report
by Commonwealth election observers on the
conduct of the poll, there are
fears that South Africa may yet throw a
diplomatic lifeline to President
Mugabe and his beleaguered regime. “I would
not bet on Zimbabwe being
suspended from the Commonwealth,” one senior
diplomat said. “The South
Africans may yet try to get him off the hook.”
Commonwealth heads of
government meeting in Australia earlier this month
agreed that Zimbabwe’s
fate would be decided by the leaders of Australia,
South Africa and Nigeria.
John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister,
President Mbeki of South Africa
and President Obasanjo of Nigeria are
expected to meet next week, possibly in
London, by which time the
Commonwealth observers’ final report will be
Given that the language in the preliminary report was highly
critical of the
election process, the three leaders will have to take action,
ranging from a
statement of concern to suspension from the
Anything less than suspension would trigger a furious
response from Britain,
Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But if Zimbabwe is
thrown out, then
African and other developing countries are likely to respond
Mr Howard has been consistently critical of Mr
Mugabe’s behaviour and his
Government has pushed for Zimbabwe’s suspension.
He has said that Zimbabwe
“ought to go” if it was clear Mr Mugabe stole the
election. Mr Obasanjo has
also been tough on Harare and may be persuaded to
follow suit. Mr Mbeki,
however, is clearly opposed to taking strong action
against his neighbour,
in spite of the damage that the crisis has caused to
South Africa’s economy.
There were suspicions yesterday that the South
Africans would try to take
advantage of the final sentence in the
Commonwealth report:“We call on all
Zimbabweans to put aside their
differences and to work together for the
future of their country. We believe
the Commonwealth should assist in the
process of national reconciliation.”
Some Commonwealth countries fear that
South Africa will now persuade Mr
Mugabe to offer some concessions to the
opposition, possibly the formation of
a government of national unity.
The tactic would leave Mugabe in power
but allow his supporters to declare
that he had backed down.
that leaves Mugabe intact is unacceptable,” one Whitehall source
just hope that Mbeki does not try to save him.”
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 15 March
Mugabe stumbles after
Harare - President Robert Mugabe finally appeared in public
last night for
the first time since his victory, but his brief and faltering
fuelled speculation that there was something wrong with his
television news showed him apparently stumbling and gripping a
support after he met South Africa's deputy president, Jacob Zuma.
was still no public statement from the veteran leader. Zimbabweans
astonished that he did not revel in his victory. It is the first time in
history of independent Zimbabwe that Mr Mugabe has not addressed the
on state television in the immediate aftermath of an election. His
is even more mysterious because the latest ballot was so important.
diplomatic sources in London have long suggested that Mr Mugabe is
ill, and may have kept up his hectic campaign schedule by being
on drugs". Senior British sources said yesterday they had "no
Mugabe is incapacitated". They said Mr Mugabe's absence was
because of his
dilemma about his next step after winning an election widely
rigged. "We expected him to make a conciliatory statement on
then order a crackdown on the opposition. He has done
neither," said one
diplomatic source. "I think he is still deciding what to
In Harare there were unconfirmed reports that Mr Mugabe had flown to
to consult his backer Col Gaddafi, and had returned only yesterday in
to meet Mr Zuma. After the referendum and parliamentary polls of 2000,
Mugabe was quick to broadcast to Zimbabweans, even though the results
both of those contests were deeply embarrassing for him. But after
greatest election victory of his 22-year rule, Mr Mugabe has not uttered
word. Instead his minions are hailing his re-election. Nathan
the spokesman of the ruling Zanu PF party, told The Herald, the
daily, that the "people have triumphed over imperialism". Mr Mugabe
achieved a "personal triumph" despite a "pack of lies peddled around
globe by Tony Blair and the mandarins of Fleet Street". The Herald
Zimbabweans had greeted Mr Mugabe's re-election with "orgies
celebrations". Simon Khaya Moyo, Zimbabwe's high commissioner in
Africa, offered a personal message to the president: "The young, the
indeed the unborn cannot help but cherish your principled and
leadership," he said.
Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:56 GMT
Africa goes easy on Mugabe
Mbeki has a crucial decision to make about his old
Richard Dowden |
The speed with which several African leaders congratulated President Robert
Mugabe on his victory might suggest that Africa and the rest of the world saw
different elections taking place in Zimbabwe last weekend.
It is more complicated than that. Mr Mugabe is an old man and, as Zimbabwe's
first president, is the "Father of the Nation".
In a continent that reveres old age and powerful rulers, few will criticise
Each of those African leaders who rushed to congratulate Mr Mugabe also had
strong domestic reasons for doing so.
Setting an example
To criticise the election in Zimbabwe would set a precedent for electoral
standards in their own countries.
One of the first to welcome Mr Mugabe's election victory
was President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, whose last two elections were marred by
intimidation and manipulation similar to Zimbabwe's.
Bad government in Kenya has put Mr Moi out of favour with Western donors so
he also wants to blame "Western colonialists" for Kenya's decline.
The country is facing an election at the end of this year and violence
against opposition groups has already begun.
The poll result was also quickly welcomed by President Sam Nujoma of Namibia,
an old friend of Mr Mugabe, who controversially changed his own country's
constitution so he could stay on a third term as president.
Mr Mugabe was also congratulated by President Levy Mwanawasa who won a
disputed election in Zambia last December by a narrow majority.
The local election monitoring body said that discrepancies in the vote
"questioned the legitimacy and credibility of the result", a statement echoed by
European Union observers.
said anyone who questioned the result was a traitor and would be dealt with by
Like Mr Mugabe, they want to blame outsiders for the failings
of African governments
He is also chairman of the Organisation of African Unity, whose election
observer team declared the election credible, free and fair, as did the election
observer teams from Nigeria and South Africa.
Reasons to be cheerful
Yet this is not a clear split between Africa and the rest of the world.
The Commonwealth election observers, led by a Nigerian, condemned the
election and the team from the regional body, the Southern Africa Development
Community, also said it did not comply with the necessary standard. Why the
- Some African observers are appointed by African governments or from ruling
parties, and may have been directed to deliver a particular verdict
- They may be far more tolerant of state violence, manipulation and lower
electoral standards than observers expect
- They, and some African leaders, do not want to give Africa a bad image in
the world and prefer African solidarity over principles of justice and honesty.
- Like Mr Mugabe, they want to blame outsiders for the failings of African
governments and claim that an imperialist Europe and America which wants to
Judging by the press in the rest of Africa, many other Africans are critical
of the election.
South Africa's crunch decision
The African who must decide what to do next about Zimbabwe is President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa.
He has refused to criticise Mr Mugabe in public and has
tried to use persuasion in private, so far without visible result.
Zimbabwe's poll was closely watched in South
Zimbabwe's crisis is damaging South Africa's economy and frightening off
desperately needed foreign investment.
It is also threatening to send thousands of refugees fleeing into South
Africa, which is already host to some two million.
Mozambique and Botswana, close South African allies in the region, are also
severely affected. Mr Mbeki cannot afford to allow misrule in Zimbabwe to
Diplomatic sources in South Africa say that he hopes to persuade Mr Mugabe to
step down or seek national reconciliation by sharing power in a government of
There is little sign that Mr Mugabe will do this willingly and if chaos
ensues, South Africa might have to use its muscle by cutting power supplies or
the transport links to persuade him.
Zimbabwe case exposes West's limitations in
LONDON, March 15 — There is a gaping hole in international
diplomacy and it
is called Africa, analysts say.
between the white West and black African observers
over Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe's controversial victory this week in
have highlighted the problem.
''Africa is a gaping hole in
international policy. They all talk
about it a lot, but this shows they can
actually do little about it,'' said
Jonathan Stevenson, a regional expert at
the International Institute for
Strategic Studies think tank.
United States, which under former President Bill Clinton took
in Africa but under current President George W. Bush has
largely ignored it,
rejected the Zimbabwe election result.
Britain, the former colonial
power in Zimbabwe, has taken a keen
interest in Africa and welcomed its
recent advances towards democracy but
become increasingly frustrated at the
seeming paralysis caused by Mugabe.
Non-African election observers
accused Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF
of having clubbed their way to
electoral victory. South Africa and
Nigeria -- both key players in
pan-African reconstruction plans -- called
the result legitimate.
''This will confirm the international community's view that Africa is
collective basket case,'' said Jesmond Blumenfeld, researcher at the
Institute for International Affairs.
''There will continue to
be rhetorical support for the various
African initiatives, but little
practical support,'' he added.
observer mission from the Commonwealth of 54 mainly
former British colonies
had been deeply divided over the blatant violence
ahead of the poll, then
unexpectedly came off the fence and accused the
government of gross
But the weapons available to the Commonwealth --
assuming it decides
to take any action at all against Zimbabwe -- are limited
to wholesale trade
sanctions or suspension from the organisation.
The former would hurt ordinary Zimbabweans, already facing
catastrophe and famine. The latter measure has been proven in the
past to be
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said
leaders at the European
Union summit which opens in Barcelona on Friday would
look at ways of
strengthening sanctions against the leadership of Zimbabwe's
''There is total widespread condemnation of
the way Mugabe stole this
election and a readiness to continue with the
humanitarian assistance we are
providing to the people of Zimbabwe because of
the way Mugabe has
impoverished his nation,'' Straw said.
the discord over Zimbabwe leads to a fracture along racial
lines it could
have dire consequences for a continent which is at the
epicentre of the
world's AIDS epidemic and is home to some of the world's
poorest people and
The World Trade Organisation summit in Qatar last
November put the
African AIDS crisis on its agenda. The G8 group of top
nations is due to discuss at its summit in Canada in June the
Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) plan, which envisages tens
billions of dollars' worth of new investment in Africa annually.
An exasperated British Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned that if
nations failed to deal with Mugabe, the plan would be put
NO MAGIC WAND
''The opportunity that NEPAD
presents will not recur if the Africans
as a community mess this up,'' Simon
Maxwell, director of the independent
think-tank Overseas Development
Institute told Reuters.
''They are not going to find the G8
governments knocking on their
doors again and clearly democratisation and
governance are central issues in
''My message to Blair is
don't panic. You can't expect to wave a
magic wand and expect to turn every
African country into a neat and tidy
replica of West European parliamentary
democracy,'' Maxwell said.
''What is really important for the UK and
the other G8 donors is to
engage. If that means a degree of selectivity in
the beginning that is
inevitable and necessary and will provide greated
encouragement to the
''What would be a great tragedy
for Africa would be if the G8 leaders
and others looked at the result of the
Zimbabwe election and said we are
going to wash our hands of the whole
continent,'' he added.
Friday, 15 March, 2002, 16:08 GMT
What next for Zimbabwe's
Morgan Tsvangirai is pondering the MDC's
BBC News Online's Henri Astier |
The Zimbabwean opposition is still reeling from an election it considers has
been stolen by President Robert Mugabe.
Not only is the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in political limbo - but
its leader may also end up in jail.
The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is likely to face
treason charges arising from a videotape allegedly incriminating him in a plot
to kill President Mugabe, an accusation he denies.
Police are out in force in
Welshman Ncube, the MDC's secretary-general was briefly detained this week
after treason charges were brought against him.
Mr Tsvangirai and other party leaders have given no details about their
post-election strategy - apart from stressing that they intend to remain within
the law. But their options appear limited.
The MDC could challenge the government in the courts, through industrial
action and street protests.
But President Mugabe has managed to subdue the judiciary, and seems
determined to prevent industrial unrest.
On Thursday police used tear gas to disperse crowds in Harare and prevent
leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) - an MDC ally - from
meeting to discuss possible protest strikes.
Under new, restrictive security laws, it is illegal in
Zimbabwe to call for a general strike, and police are allowed to cancel
Ncube is accused of
If the opposition cannot beat the presidential machine, why not join it?
South African president Thabo Mbeki is reported to be recommending a
government of National Unity for Zimbabwe, bringing together Mr Mugabe as
president and Mr Tsvangirai as vice-president.
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria is said to be in favour of the plan.
Both Mr Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo are on the Commonwealth panel that is to
adjudicate on the elections next week.
But even if Mr Mugabe were to welcome into his government an MDC leader he
regards as an agent of Britain, the reviled former colonial power, it is far
from clear what Mr Tsvangirai would gain by sharing power.
Analysts say Mr Mugabe has shown he is not a consensus politician. Any
party in his government would have to share his agenda without reservations.
Trade unions have organised strikes in the past
Another option for the MDC could be to focus its political activities on
strongholds such as the capital, Harare.
As expected, an MDC candidate, Elias Mudzuri, has been elected mayor of the
Control of Harare could give the party a chance to show its ability to
However Mr Mudruzi is not a nationally-known figure, and the central
government casts a long shadow over local politics. Mr Mugabe sacked the
previous mayor three years ago, and the city was subsequently run by a
Wait and see
Given all these obstacles, the MDC could pin its hopes on the medium term.
Mr Mugabe is 78 years old, and the party could have another chance well
But in the short term, a wait-and-see attitude could mean watching the
country complete its descent into chaos.
No wonder the MDC is taking a long time weighing its options: none of them
S.Africa Urges Mugabe to Consider Unity
— By Brendan Boyle
(Reuters) - South Africa is pressing President Robert Mugabe to
growing foreign condemnation of Zimbabwe's election by asking his
foe to join a government of national unity, government sources
The sources said the proposal was at the heart of a
message sent to Mugabe
by South African President Thabo Mbeki on
South Africa has not passed a formal judgement on the chaotic
election won by Mugabe with 56 percent of the vote, but the ballot
rejected by key Western governments including Britain and the United
Mugabe resisted the strongest challenge of his 22 years in power
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, a
former trade unionist.
The South African sources said Mbeki
would not make a formal comment on the
election until he had consulted more
fully with Commonwealth leaders,
probably next week,
A South African
observer mission called the election "legitimate," but
stopped short of
declaring it free and fair.
VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION
Commonwealth observer team issued a harshly critical statement
listing a series of excesses by police and paramilitary youth groups
alleging a deliberate campaign to deny the vote to thousands of
"The violence and intimidation created a
climate of fear and suspicion,"
former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar,
chairman of the 61-member
Commonwealth observer group, told a news
"All of the foregoing brings us to the conclusion that the
Zimbabwe did not adequately allow for a free expression of will
electors," he said.
In what South African sources said was a
hint about the preferred way
forward, the statement urged Zimbabeans to put
aside their differences and
work together for the common good of the
The Johannesburg Star said Friday South African Deputy President
carried a proposal to Mugabe suggesting a government of national
promising Mbeki's support if Zimbabwe followed this
Government sources in Pretoria confirmed that South Africa's call
Zimbabweans to set aside their differences referred to the proposal for
government of national unity.
"I don't think you're incorrect in
reading it that way," one foreign
ministry source told Reuters
Political analyst Tom Lodge said it was likely Mbeki was trying
Mugabe toward a coalition, but added it was unlikely to
"I'm sure that's what Mbeki is trying to achieve, he would like
news. But Mugabe is not inclined to share power, not even in his
Analysts also said Tsvangirai would be
reluctant to confer legitimacy on the
election by joining a Mugabe
The Commonwealth of 54 countries, mainly former British
mandated Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and
Minister John Howard to assess the election and make a
recommendation to the
Howard said Thursday he would chair a
meeting of the three-nation taskforce
in London Tuesday to prepare a
recommendation to the full Commonwealth.
The worst the Commonwealth could
do would be to suspend Zimbabwe from the
association, but its rejection of
the election could seriously affect
Zimbabwe's access to the foreign aid
necessary to lift the country out of
World worker group appeals to ILO over
GENEVA, March 15 — The world's major workers' body
called on the United
Nations' International Labour Organisation (ILO) on
Friday to act urgently
to try to stop persecution of labour leaders in
The Brussels-based International Confederation of Free
(ICFTU) sent its appeal to the ILO in Geneva after allegations
action in Harare on Thursday against the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder told ILO
Somavia that plain clothes police entered a meeting of
the ZCTU's Executive
Council by force to monitor its proceedings.
''The situation of trade unionists in Zimbabwe is precarious at
they are risking their lives in the pursuit of normal trade
activities,'' the ICFTU chief told Somavia.
The ZCTU meeting, to
consider the situation in Zimbabwe after the
controversial re-election of
President Robert Mugabe, was called off after
the police refused to leave,
Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe's defeated main challenger, is a
general secretary of the ZCTU.
The election has been
condemned by Zimbabwe's opposition, the United
States, Europe and white
Commonwealth members as blatant fraud.
In his letter, Ryder said the
police action in Harare was a gross
violation of ILO conventions, signed by
Zimbabwe, which give workers'
organisations the right to organise their
activities and bars authorities
from interfering with them.
called for an immediate meeting of the ILO's Committee on Freedom
Association to study the situation.
The ICFTU move followed another
letter from Ryder to Somavia, a
one-time Chilean diplomat, earlier this week
calling on him to intervene
with the Zimbabwean government to ensure the
safety of trade unionists and
recognise the rights of unions to
ILO officials said on Friday Somavia was preparing a response
first letter but did not disclose its contents.
letter, Ryder said Mugabe had threatened to withdraw official
from the ZCTU during the election campaign, and that during the
period many union members had been victimised by the
Election conditions in Zimbabwe unfair, say regional
HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 15 — Zimbabwe's
government failed to create free and
fair conditions for presidential
elections, regional election officials said
Friday, as authorities prepared
for the inauguration ceremonies of President
Robert Mugabe this
The March 9-11 elections were marred by political violence
and administrative manipulation, according to the Electoral
Forum of voting officials from the 14-nation Southern African
Community. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change fought
uneven playing field,'' the group said.
Morgan Tsvangirai had posed the most significant
challenge to Mugabe's 22
years of autocratic rule. Mugabe, 78, who led the
nation to independence, had
faced little dissent until recent years, when
the nation's economy collapsed
and political violence became rampant.
Though polling on actual voting
days was mostly transparent and
secret, the forum noted major irregularities
in the management of the poll,
said Leshele Thoahlane of Lesotho, head of its
36-member observer mission.
There was no independent electoral
commission, political violence
polarized voters, and too many changes were
made to the ''legal framework''
of the election process, especially within
the last month and even days
''When it came to the
criteria and basic elements for freeness and
fairness, these were not
adequately met,'' Thoahlane said.
Germany said Friday it will stop
development aid to Zimbabwe's
''We will not work with
the Mugabe government in any form in terms of
Foreign Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
told parliament, drawing
applause from lawmakers.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien cut
government aid to Zimbabwe
The 54-nation Commonwealth
of Britain and its former colonies, which
includes 19 African countries, also
criticized the elections Thursday.
''The conditions in Zimbabwe did
not adequately allow for a free
expression of will by the electors,'' said
Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the
former military ruler of Nigeria who headed
the Commonwealth observer
A host of Western countries have
condemned last weekend's elections
as violent, chaotic and blatantly tilted
in favor of Mugabe.
Many African leaders, however, praised the
elections. An observer
mission from the Organization of African Unity, an
umbrella group of African
nations, called them ''transparent, credible, free
South African observer mission declared the election
Nigerian observers said nothing that happened threatened the
the poll. Namibia called the election ''successful.''
Analysts said some African leaders were supporting a liberation
protecting their own undemocratic regimes and trying to maintain
Thoahlane said his group compiled evidence of
political violence that
it asked Zimbabwe authorities to
Forum observers visiting the town of Marondera, 50 miles
Harare, interviewed assault victims in the local hospital. Some
reported they were told to say they had been in car accidents when
they had been beaten by ruling party supporters.
problems cited by the forum:
— Polling facilities in the opposition
urban stronghold of Harare
were inadequate and understaffed compared to those
in Mugabe's rural
— An extension of voter registration
to March 3 was not made public,
and voters' lists were not freely available
for inspection and verification,
thereby disenfranchising some
— Full lists were not on hand at all polling stations until
hours after voting started, forcing officials to turn away
''Too many changes were made to the legal framework,
within the last month and even days before polling. This state of
can only create confusion as to which laws are being applied,''
Opposition spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said Friday
lawmakers will boycott Mugabe's inauguration Sunday.
"Terrible to see such depression throughout the
country, especially after so many desperate people were prepared to stick their
necks' out for a vote for change, and it was stolen from them. Even war vets on
my farm are deeply depressed because they have realised how they have been
cheated with false promises over massive fortunes to be made on our farms and
are now concerned about retribution - many voted MDC!
All is not over yet and we can only pray that the
winds of change will blow in a truly democratic government soon. The country and
its people can no longer withstand the abuse of the country for personal
political survival, or to escape the law.
We are strong and resolute but like all people
events are causing serious economic viability which could be the deciding
factor. We are all financial prisoners in our own country, which is a country we
do not want to leave. We desperately need to be given the means to produce food
for our starving and drought stricken nation - and to create employment for the
oppressed and stricken people."
Zimbabwe's Mugabe signs into law sweeping media
HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 15 — President
Robert Mugabe on Friday signed into
law sweeping media controls requiring all
journalists to be licensed by the
government and imposing severe limits on
foreign correspondents working in
In the first
major executive decision since disputed presidential
elections last weekend,
Mugabe formally enacted the Access to Information
Act, widely criticized as a
draconian attempt to muzzle media criticism of
act was passed by Mugabe's ruling party in January, but Mugabe
signing it into law after his own supporters expressed reservations.
Friday's notice was unexpected and appeared to show the
determination to push through restrictive legislation after
election to another six-year term.
The legislation makes
it illegal for journalists to operate without
government accreditation. It
creates a state-appointed media commission with
disciplinary powers to
withdraw journalists' licenses, confiscate equipment
and jail journalists for
up to two years.
It also restricts visits by foreign journalists and
specified assignments to be cleared first by Zimbabwe's embassies in
journalists' home countries.
Under recently passed security
laws already enacted, journalists can
be prosecuted for criticizing Mugabe
and the government.
State radio on Friday criticized foreign media
alleged bias in their coverage of the presidential
election, which was
marred by political violence and voting laws weighed in
Two sets of amendments were made after the
committee declared the original proposals drafted by
Jonathan Moyo ''the most determined assault'' on
since independence in 1980.
In the run up
to last weekend's elections, independent reporters in
Zimbabwe were harassed,
arrested and threatened by the government and ruling
The independent Zimbabwe Media Monitoring Project, in its
report issued Thursday, said the state broadcaster's election coverage
It said in about 14 hours of state
television coverage of the
presidential campaign, Mugabe received more than
13 hours of air time while
the opposition received just over 31
''Even this was subverted by ZBC which used the time to
denigrate and discredit the MDC,'' the research group said. MDC,
Movement for Democratic Change, is lead by Mugabe opponent
In reports on the poll, several foreign observer
missions have noted
the disparity in coverage by the dominant state media and
absence of free access to the public media by the opposition
groups seen as necessary for fair democratic process.