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

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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
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African election monitors condemn Zimbabwe election

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".

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If you can get this into your local newspapers it might help create greater
understanding of just what has gone on.


* 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 people  revealed
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
the days set aside for voters wanting to vote for the ruling party and that
Mon 11th and Tue 12th March had been allocated for all those wanting to
vote for other parties?

* Why were so many rural voters in areas suspected to be opposition  party
strongholds, denied their right to vote by ruling party polling  officials
deliberately ensuring that insufficient ballot papers were made  available
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 station?

* Why did so many rural voters have their National Identity cards
confiscated by ruling party officials, war veterans and/or youth members
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 condition?

* Why, after carrying out the above abduction of the senior opposition
party  official before vote counting had been completed, did the total
number of  votes cast for this particular area mysteriously increase by
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 above.

However, space dictates I cannot possibly itemise every violation
individually.    Suffice to say, I trust the above highlights the most
prominent and most frequent "irregularities" observed.

If the above is what we personally observed and experienced in just one
small section of this constituency [we only covered 11 polling stations out
of the total of 51 in the entire constituency], what in the heck went down
in other constituencies?

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.

This utterly shameless, fraudulent mob of cruel, reprehensible gangsters
[not of the gay variety] must not be allowed to relax for a moment at this
critical juncture 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
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Africa 'damaged' by Mugabe poll

March 15, 2002 Posted: 2:36 PM EST (1936 GMT)

ZANU-PF supporters
Mugabe's ZANU-PF supporters celebrate another presidential victory

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- African leaders are damaging their reputations by endorsing President Robert Mugabe's election victory, Zimbabwe's opposition has said.

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 particular criticism.

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 violence.

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 story)

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 suspend Zimbabwe.

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 Change (MDC).

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."

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ABC Australia

Mbeki didn't sign endorsement of Zimbabwe election

An endorsement of the presidential election in Zimbabwe signed by South
African President Thabo Mbeki, was attributed to him in error by an
electronic newsletter published by South Africa's ruling African National
Congress (ANC).

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".

The 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. AFX news

SAfrica's Mbeki says will of Zimbabwe's people 'prevailed' in elections

JOHANNESBURG (AFX) - President Thabo Mbeki said the will of Zimbabwe's
people "prevailed" in their election of Robert Mugabe as president.

In a signed declaration on the African National Congress' website, Mbeki
said: "Amid chronic polarisation of the Zimbabwean people, claims of
widespread intimidation, and in the context of clear flaws in the electoral
process, president Robert Mugabe has won the presidential elections with an
overwhelming majority.

"While the process was clearly not perfect, the ANC believes that the people
of Zimbabwe have spoken."

He added that South Africa's primary objective in this period now is to work
with Zimbabwe's government to address the critical question of economic
reconstruction and to urgently deal with food shortages.

"Political and social stability in Zimbabwe are profoundly in the interest
of the people of Zimbabwe and that of our own country and region," said

"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,"
he added.

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The Times

Regimes' supporters fight suspension threat
By Richard 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 ready.

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 Commonwealth.

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 just as

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.

“Anything that leaves Mugabe intact is unacceptable,” one Whitehall source
said. “We just hope that Mbeki does not try to save him.”

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From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 15 March

Mugabe stumbles after victory

Harare - President Robert Mugabe finally appeared in public last night for
the first time since his victory, but his brief and faltering performance
fuelled speculation that there was something wrong with his health. State
television news showed him apparently stumbling and gripping a table for
support after he met South Africa's deputy president, Jacob Zuma. But there
was still no public statement from the veteran leader. Zimbabweans were
astonished that he did not revel in his victory. It is the first time in the
history of independent Zimbabwe that Mr Mugabe has not addressed the nation
on state television in the immediate aftermath of an election. His absence
is even more mysterious because the latest ballot was so important. Senior
diplomatic sources in London have long suggested that Mr Mugabe is seriously
ill, and may have kept up his hectic campaign schedule by being "pumped up
on drugs". Senior British sources said yesterday they had "no reports that
Mugabe is incapacitated". They said Mr Mugabe's absence was because of his
dilemma about his next step after winning an election widely condemned as
rigged. "We expected him to make a conciliatory statement on television, and
then order a crackdown on the opposition. He has done neither," said one
diplomatic source. "I think he is still deciding what to do."

In Harare there were unconfirmed reports that Mr Mugabe had flown to Libya
to consult his backer Col Gaddafi, and had returned only yesterday in time
to meet Mr Zuma. After the referendum and parliamentary polls of 2000, Mr
Mugabe was quick to broadcast to Zimbabweans, even though the results of
both of those contests were deeply embarrassing for him. But after the
greatest election victory of his 22-year rule, Mr Mugabe has not uttered a
word. Instead his minions are hailing his re-election. Nathan Shamuyarira,
the spokesman of the ruling Zanu PF party, told The Herald, the official
daily, that the "people have triumphed over imperialism". Mr Mugabe had
achieved a "personal triumph" despite a "pack of lies peddled around the
globe by Tony Blair and the mandarins of Fleet Street". The Herald said
Zimbabweans had greeted Mr Mugabe's re-election with "orgies of
celebrations". Simon Khaya Moyo, Zimbabwe's high commissioner in South
Africa, offered a personal message to the president: "The young, the old and
indeed the unborn cannot help but cherish your principled and visionary
leadership," he said.

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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:56 GMT
Africa goes easy on Mugabe
Mbeki and Mugabe at a summit in Zimbabwe in 2000
Mbeki has a crucial decision to make about his old ally
test hello test
By Richard Dowden
Africa analyst

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 him openly.

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.

Namibian ally

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.

Like Mr Mugabe, they want to blame outsiders for the failings of African governments

Mr Mwanawasa said anyone who questioned the result was a traitor and would be dealt with by the police.

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 discrepancy?

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.

newspaper vendor in South Africa
Zimbabwe's poll was closely watched in 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 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 continue.

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 national unity.

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.

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Zimbabwe case exposes West's limitations in Africa

LONDON, March 15 — There is a gaping hole in international diplomacy and it
is called Africa, analysts say.
       Open divisions between the white West and black African observers
over Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's controversial victory this week in
violence-marred elections 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.
       The United States, which under former President Bill Clinton took
close interest 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
a collective basket case,'' said Jesmond Blumenfeld, researcher at the Royal
Institute for International Affairs.
       ''There will continue to be rhetorical support for the various
African initiatives, but little practical support,'' he added.

       An election 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 intimidation.
       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 economic
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 ruling ZANU-PF
       ''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.
       But if 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 bloodiest conflicts.
       The World Trade Organisation summit in Qatar last November put the
African AIDS crisis on its agenda. The G8 group of top industrialised
nations is due to discuss at its summit in Canada in June the New
Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) plan, which envisages tens of
billions of dollars' worth of new investment in Africa annually.
       An exasperated British Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned that if
African nations failed to deal with Mugabe, the plan would be put in

       ''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.

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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 16:08 GMT
What next for Zimbabwe's opposition?
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai is pondering the MDC's futures
test hello test
By 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.

Zimbabwean police
Police are out in force in Harare
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.

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.

Civil disobedience

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.

Welshman Ncube
Ncube is accused of treason
Under new, restrictive security laws, it is illegal in Zimbabwe to call for a general strike, and police are allowed to cancel political rallies.

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.

Sharing power

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.

Deserted bus stop
Trade unions have organised strikes in the past
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.

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 city.

Control of Harare could give the party a chance to show its ability to govern.

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 government-appointed committee.

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 before 2008.

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 look appealing.

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ABC News

S.Africa Urges Mugabe to Consider Unity Government

March 15
— By Brendan Boyle

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa is pressing President Robert Mugabe to
defuse growing foreign condemnation of Zimbabwe's election by asking his
defeated foe to join a government of national unity, government sources said

The sources said the proposal was at the heart of a message sent to Mugabe
by South African President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday.

South Africa has not passed a formal judgement on the chaotic three-day
election won by Mugabe with 56 percent of the vote, but the ballot has been
rejected by key Western governments including Britain and the United States.

Mugabe resisted the strongest challenge of his 22 years in power from
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, a popular
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.


A Commonwealth observer team issued a harshly critical statement Thursday
listing a series of excesses by police and paramilitary youth groups and
alleging a deliberate campaign to deny the vote to thousands of opposition

"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 conference.

"All of the foregoing brings us to the conclusion that the conditions in
Zimbabwe did not adequately allow for a free expression of will by the
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 country.

The Johannesburg Star said Friday South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma
carried a proposal to Mugabe suggesting a government of national unity and
promising Mbeki's support if Zimbabwe followed this route.

Government sources in Pretoria confirmed that South Africa's call to
Zimbabweans to set aside their differences referred to the proposal for a
government of national unity.

"I don't think you're incorrect in reading it that way," one foreign
ministry source told Reuters Friday.

Political analyst Tom Lodge said it was likely Mbeki was trying to urge
Mugabe toward a coalition, but added it was unlikely to work.

"I'm sure that's what Mbeki is trying to achieve, he would like some good
news. But Mugabe is not inclined to share power, not even in his politburo,"
Lodge said.

Analysts also said Tsvangirai would be reluctant to confer legitimacy on the
election by joining a Mugabe administration.

The Commonwealth of 54 countries, mainly former British colonies, has
mandated Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Australian Prime
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
deep recession.

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World worker group appeals to ILO over Zimbabwe

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 Zimbabwe.

       The Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
(ICFTU) sent its appeal to the ILO in Geneva after allegations of police
action in Harare on Thursday against the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
       ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder told ILO Director-General Juan
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
present and they are risking their lives in the pursuit of normal trade
union 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, Ryder said.
       Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe's defeated main challenger, is a former
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.
       He called for an immediate meeting of the ILO's Committee on Freedom
of 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 operate.
       ILO officials said on Friday Somavia was preparing a response to the
first letter but did not disclose its contents.
       In that letter, Ryder said Mugabe had threatened to withdraw official
registration from the ZCTU during the election campaign, and that during the
pre-election period many union members had been victimised by the

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Election conditions in Zimbabwe unfair, say regional officials


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 weekend.
       The March 9-11 elections were marred by political violence and legal
and administrative manipulation, according to the Electoral Commissions
Forum of voting officials from the 14-nation Southern African Development
Community. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change fought on ''an
uneven playing field,'' the group said.
       Opposition leader 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
before polling.
       ''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
development cooperation,'' Foreign Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
told parliament, drawing applause from lawmakers.
       Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien cut government aid to Zimbabwe
on Thursday.
       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 and fair.''
       South African observer mission declared the election legitimate.
Nigerian observers said nothing that happened threatened the integrity of
the poll. Namibia called the election ''successful.''
       Analysts said some African leaders were supporting a liberation hero,
protecting their own undemocratic regimes and trying to maintain regional
       Thoahlane said his group compiled evidence of political violence that
it asked Zimbabwe authorities to investigate.
       Forum observers visiting the town of Marondera, 50 miles east of
Harare, interviewed assault victims in the local hospital. Some victims
reported they were told to say they had been in car accidents when really
they had been beaten by ruling party supporters.
       Among other 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 voters.
       — Full lists were not on hand at all polling stations until several
hours after voting started, forcing officials to turn away voters.
       ''Too many changes were made to the legal framework, especially
within the last month and even days before polling. This state of affairs
can only create confusion as to which laws are being applied,'' Thoahlane
       Opposition spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said Friday opposition
lawmakers will boycott Mugabe's inauguration Sunday.

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"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."
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Zimbabwe's Mugabe signs into law sweeping media curbs


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
the country.

       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
the government.
       The act was passed by Mugabe's ruling party in January, but Mugabe
delayed signing it into law after his own supporters expressed reservations.
       Friday's notice was unexpected and appeared to show the government's
determination to push through restrictive legislation after Mugabe's
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 requires
specified assignments to be cleared first by Zimbabwe's embassies in the
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 organizations for
alleged bias in their coverage of the presidential election, which was
marred by political violence and voting laws weighed in Mugabe's favor.
       Two sets of amendments were made after the parliamentary legal
committee declared the original proposals drafted by Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo ''the most determined assault'' on constitutional liberties
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
party militants.
       The independent Zimbabwe Media Monitoring Project, in its weekly
report issued Thursday, said the state broadcaster's election coverage was
''grossly biased.''
       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 minutes.
       ''Even this was subverted by ZBC which used the time to attack,
denigrate and discredit the MDC,'' the research group said. MDC, the
Movement for Democratic Change, is lead by Mugabe opponent Morgan
       In reports on the poll, several foreign observer missions have noted
the disparity in coverage by the dominant state media and condemned the
absence of free access to the public media by the opposition and civic
groups seen as necessary for fair democratic process.

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