The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
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Independent (UK)

Into the heart of Zimbabwe's darkness
As the country prepares for a critical general election, Jeremy Gordin and
Daniel Howden report from the opposition heartlands, where standing up to
Robert Mugabe comes at a perilous price
16 March 2005

When Livingstone paddled up the Zambezi river 120 years ago it was known to
the people here as Musi Oa Tunya, "The Smoke That Thunders". Victoria Falls
is among the largest and arguably the most spectacular waterfalls in the
world. Millions of gallons of fresh water plunge into the Zambezi basin,
forming a roaring white dividing line between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

On the one side stands the Zambian town of Livingstone, a permanent tribute
to the great explorer, that is now a thriving tourist centre with thousands
of visitors packing out luxury lodges and hotels.

Across the white water is Victoria Falls. Once the thriving heart of
Zimbabwe's tourism industry, it is now a ghost town. The smoke still
thunders, but fewer people come here to witness this hypnotising spectacle
in a country that is two weeks away from general elections and teetering on
the brink of its own precipice, facing a fall into isolation, poverty and

Under President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe has slumped to last place in the
Economist Global quality-of-life index. The farm seizure policy launched
four years ago, giving Mugabe supporters formerly white-owned farms, has
decimated agricultural output, caused famine and sent the country into
economic meltdown. He rules over the fastest-shrinking economy in the world,
300 per cent inflation and 80 per cent unemployment.

Under free and fair elections, a government that has presided over this
descent into chaos could expect to be resoundingly beaten at the ballot box.
But there is little that is free and fair in today's Zimbabwe.

That was the verdict of Amnesty International, who said in a report
yesterday that human rights violations meant that free elections were now
"impossible". Critics of the regime are expelled, imprisoned or terrorised.

But the saddest indictment of the tourism crisis comes from Sheila,
originally from the capital Harare, who now works when she can doing facials
and massages in the health spas at near empty hotels.

"The tourists are not coming. We don't know what to do," she says weeping.
"I sit here for hours doing nothing and my husband is not working. My
children are not starving yet but they are hungry. All we can buy is some
bread and a little sadza [maize meal]."

Chris, a guide at the falls, hopes that the election will bring change. "I
just wish this election would be over. "All we can really afford is bread.
The price is controlled at Z$3,500 [30p] but where I live on the outskirts,
the shopkeepers always play games with the price. Maybe when the election is
over, the tourists will return, and we can make some money," he says.

The highway heading south from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo is empty of
traffic and the 36C sun beats relentlessly down from a cloudless sky. It
seems strangely deserted for a country in the throes of a critical election

Matabeleland is on its knees, the traditional stronghold of the opposition
party has been starved of petrol supplies by Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF

Every few miles or so you are jolted by the spectre of skeletal arms
reaching into the road from the verge of the baking Tarmac. Some of the
gaunt hands proffer a single driedcorn cob, some a piece of honeycomb. The
arms reach out from the scant shade of the trees. The starved bodies
generally belong to women or children.

The anger can be felt by listening to the many hitchhikers, who unable to
afford buses, try to move more cheaply from place to place.

"It's bad, bad, bad," says a young man called Lovemore. "There is no rain,
we are hungry, and next year this time we are going to be really starving
and dying, not just hungry."

No matter what the government propaganda says, Zimbabwe is ravaged by
drought, the agricultural sector has unravelled, and the rural people,
especially, are hungry. There have been no proper rains since December - a
subject that is on the parched lips of most of the people.

Like the petrol which never gets delivered to opposition areas, the food aid
that has poured into Zimbabwe from the World Food Programme in the last two
years never seems to reach Mr Mugabe's opponents.

With the car's engine seemingly running on fumes, the vision of a filling
station appears on the horizon.

Manning the pumps are Roy and Andrew, brothers, who at first sight seem like
white South African caricatures. Sporting shovel-blade beards and khakis -
looking to all the world like paid-up members of the Afrikaner
Weerstandsbeweging, the AWB, of fascist fame. In fact, they were both born
in Zimbabwe. Their father, an Englishman, settled there, buying a small farm
and cattle ranch, in about 1948. They kept the ranch with about 50 head of
cattle after their father died, until about two years ago, when it was taken
to be settled by veterans of the struggle against white rule.

Neither are bitter over the loss. "Why should anyone pay for something that
belonged to their people in the first place?" says Roy.

"I don't have any argument with that stuff, I genuinely don't," he
continued. "What breaks my heart is that nothing, absolutely nothing, is
being done with the land. I'm telling you the grazing [grass] is standing
lovely and high in this part of the country - but it's all going to waste."
And so the brothers spend their days tending to their small shop and
butchery, selling what they can to the rickety buses of black travellers
going to and from Bulawayo and Harare, and places further afield.

Further along the road in the drab entrance to the village of Lupane, it
seems hard to credit that this was once the capital of Northern

It is home to Njabiliso "JJ" Mguni, who will contest the election for the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change. It is not wise to be too
direct about where you are going in Lupane and a few carefully chosen words
with a hitchhiker outside the town is the best way to find out whether JJ is
at home.

No one needs to tell the people of Lupane how dangerous it can be to stand
up to Mr Mugabe. In the two years between 1982 and 1984 as many as 50,000
people died in a vicious pogrom, dubbed euphemistically by Mr Mugabe himself
as the Gukuruhundi: "The rain that washes away the chaff before the spring
rains." The rain fell in the form of the notorious Korean-trained 5th
Brigade. People were forced to dig their own graves and shot, or bodies were
tossed into disused mines. Later the victims were herded into camps to be
tortured and killed.

Their commander is now Perence Shiri, the chief of the Zimbabwean air force.
He took his orders from Emmerson Mnangagwa, then head of state security, now
speaker of parliament. Official figures put the death toll for dissidents -
those that opposed Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party at 20,000. Locals say the real
figure is more than twice that. One of the worst atrocities, the massacre of
62 men, women and children, was in 1983 at the (now dry) Cewala river in

In an attempt to stop the outside world hearing about Zimbabwe's dark
descent into chaos, foreign journalists are rarely given official permission
to tour the vast hinterlands. Those caught posing as tourists face up to two
years in prison. Coming off the main road into town the first building that
comes into view is the Zanu-PF headquarters. Outside are four large men
leaning against a black four-wheel drive.

By the time the MDC office is reached on the other side of town the black
vehicle has become a fixture in the rear view mirror, carving its own lines
in the soft grey sand of Lupane's narrow thoroughfares. Mr Mguni is not
home, he has gone toBulawayo further south, but he arranges to meet on the
outskirts of town later that evening.

Entering Bulawayo at night is an eerie experience. With no money to replace
the bulbs in the street lamps, the roads take on a sinister edge in the half
light. After settling in a nearby restaurant, Mr Mguni, with his optimism at
a positive outcome in the elections and his despair at the state of the
nation is an odd blend of cheer and darkness.

"Look what a mess this place is, it has gone down the tubes. I don't know
how it can be restored."

Despite this blast of realism he is convinced that by 9pm on 31 March the
MDC will be celebrating a victory. But he readily concedes that there are
many ways in which the Zanu-PF can rig the election. Their past methods have
included fiddling the voters' roll and using food and the local headmen (in
rural areas, such as Lupane) as tools to ensure voter compliance.

Like everyone else, he is clinging to Zanu-PF's pledge to eschew violence in
the forthcoming elections. After standing at a May by-election, Mr Mguni was
forced to quit his job as a teacher working with disabled children. Without
work he is broke and forced to depend on the support groups set up by the
MDC to aid its candidates. Many of these groups include white Zimbabwean
members, a fact that has been used by Mr Mugabe supporters to level the
charge that they are serving "colonial masters".

Mr Mguni is unapologetic about this, saying his party does not have a racism
problem. "We are not racists. We are not trying to chase white people out of
this country."

The black and white row pales in comparison with the potential abuse of
electoral law that stipulates that if a candidate for a particular
constituency should, for whatever reason, be unable to stand, then the
opposing candidate must run unopposed.

"So I suppose," says Mr Mguni rather off-handedly, "that it could be in the
interests of Zanu-PF to kidnap and kill members of the opposition. That
might still happen."

The spectre of violence is never far away during the election campaign as
Robert Madzinga discovered last week. He was shopping with his wife, wearing
an MDC T-shirt when he was set on by a mob of Zanu-PF supporters. According
to reports from Care International, he was beaten to the ground with sticks
and bled to death from an axe wound to his neck. The same mob then sought
out his home, which they burnt to the ground, destroying all of the family's
belongings. Opposition supporters have now been forbidden from campaigning
in Domboshawa, and Mr Madzinga's family has fled the town for fear of their

In this climate, Mr Mguni usually travels with a minder, who was due after
dinner to take him home to Lupane. But the man was caught handing out MDC
pamphlets, which are also banned under the electoral law, and only narrowly
escaped arrest. He has now fled the city. The aspiring MP, two weeks from
what could be the biggest day of his life, is left penniless in the dark
city, wondering how he is going to get home.

Back in the brilliant daylight, hundreds of miles east, on the approach to
the country's most impressive archaeological site, the looming granite tower
of Great Zimbabwe is astounding. This consists of a giant hill complex -
where the kings of the then Nemanwa people lived. These are the kings that
Mugabe claims as his forebears.

The dark tower has assumed an iconic importance as the birthplace of the
nation. It has also been pilfered as the new symbol for the Zanu-PF party,
replacing the Zimbabwe bird that used to adorn their coat of arms.

Terry, a beautiful young guide who makes her living on the tough climb to
the top, is typical of the generation born after the struggle for
independence that ended white-dominated rule and brought Mr Mugabe to power.
Despite education, youth and beauty, she is going nowhere.

"All I want to do is see the world. But I earn Z$1,500000 [£129] a month.
There is no way that I am going to be able to get out of here."

More than two decades after taking power, Mr Mugabe still rules from his
palace 200 miles to the north, but not even the children of his revolution
look to Harare with any hope for the future. "I don't care much about the
election," says Terry. "I just wish there were a way that I could make my
dreams come true."
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The Telegraph

Ex-farmer takes on Mugabe minister
(Filed: 16/03/2005)

Family man forced from home fights back as candidate for opposition party.
Peta Thornycroft reports

No one knows the brutality of President Robert Mugabe's regime better than a
quiet, modest man who has chosen to challenge one of Zimbabwe's most feared
cabinet ministers in this month's general election.

Iain Kay, 57, has seen his home looted and livelihood destroyed.

He narrowly escaped death after thugs attacked him with whips and catapults.

Yet this former white farmer, his land seized three years ago, has chosen to
risk everything and stand for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
in the Marondera East constituency

His opponent is Sydney Sekeramayi, the defence minister and one of the most
senior figures in the ruling Zanu-PF.

"Many people have said I must be mad, that I am courting trouble," said Mr
Kay. "But it is the right thing to do. The people came to me to ask me to

''It takes time to get over what we went through. But we survived, didn't
we?" Zimbabwe cannot recover with Zanu-PF in power. That is why I supported
the MDC right from the beginning.''

He added: '' So many farmers and other whites retreated, or became

Mr Kay, who once owned Chipesa Farm near Marondera, paid a heavy price for
his open backing for the MDC.

He fell victim to a vendetta waged by gangs loyal to Zanu-PF.

His farm was among the first to be invaded by violent squatters.

In April 2000, they ambushed Mr Kay outside the farm's primary school and
tied his hands with barbed wire.

The farmer was whipped and beaten and only the unexpected arrival of his
son, David, 25, gave him a chance to escape.

But for this stroke of luck, Mr Kay fears he would have been murdered.

When his assault was reported to the local police, a young constable,
Finashe Chikwenya, 25, was sent to Chipesa to investigate. The squatters
shot him dead. After the shooting, the police steered clear of the farm and
the Kay family fled their home.

Mr Kay and his wife Kerry, 53, sought refuge in the capital, Harare, with
their other sons, Clive, 23, Bruce, 19, and their adopted daughter, Lindsay,

When they returned to their farm five months later, they found the homestead
vandalised and looted, while hundreds of their black workers had been forced
to flee. Nonetheless, Mr Kay revived Chipesa and took up farming once again.
But the harassment continued.

In August 2001, David Kay found a makeshift roadblock of boulders thrown
across the farm's drive. One rock had been booby-trapped with a primed hand

A few months later, Mr Kay's adopted son, John Rutherford, 34, was attacked
on a nearby farm and beaten almost to death. For good measure, the Zanu-PF
thugs murdered Mr Rutherford's security guard, Darlington Vhekaveka, 29.
Terrified and broken, the Kay family abandoned Chipesa farm for good in
2002. Their family had lived there since 1949.

Mr Kay's decision to stand for the MDC is, he believes, an essential gesture
of defiance. "There is a change in Iain since he decided to stand," said his

"I've noticed a spring in his step after all the pain."

When election day comes on March 31, Mr Kay said he will be proud to seek a
place in Parliament "in my home area, among people I know and love".

Yet he is under no illusions about his chances of victory. Mr Sekeramayi has
served in Mr Mugabe's cabinet for 25 years and earned a reputation for

Marondera East was effectively a no-go area for the MDC in the last election
and Mr Kay said the latest contest was little different.

"I have been to several rallies in the last couple of weeks and I can see
that people are still too frightened to defy Zanu-PF in my constituency," he
said. ''People here are too frightened to even lend me a vehicle for
campaigning, because they fear it will be taken off them, or they fear their
businesses will be ruined if it is discovered they have been helping me.
There has been a lot of Zanu-PF door to door campaigning, which amounts to
no more than threats."
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Christian Science Monitor

from the March 16, 2005 edition

      Wisps of democracy in Zimbabwe

      The Mugabe-run African nation holds parliamentary elections on March

      By Abraham McLaughlin | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

      MARONDERA, ZIMBABWE - With hands on hips and brow knit tight,
Zimbabwean parliamentary hopeful Ian Kay stands on a large granite
outcropping, hoping for a miracle - or at least some sunshine.
      A cold driving rain has begun drenching Mr. Kay and about 600
supporters, just as the only major rally of his entire campaign is about to
kick off. It could ruin weeks of work: Holding organizational meetings in
caves to avoid police, cajoling skittish friends into lending him trucks
despite probable harassment by ruling-party officials, and trying to outwit
partisan thugs who rip down his posters moments after they're put up.

      Welcome to campaigning in an "outpost of tyranny." The US calls
Zimbabwe one of the world's least democratic nations. Yet the fact that Kay
is holding the rally at all symbolizes a sudden openness by the government
that's taking people here by surprise. Whether the thaw - just weeks before
March 31 parliamentary elections - is more than superficial will be decided
in key districts like Kay's.

      "This is turning out to be a much more interesting election than we
expected," says a Western diplomat in the capital. Still, he adds, "there's
no question the electoral playing field is heavily tilted toward the ruling

      White vs. black

      Originally, Kay's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, had been
hoping just to hold onto the 57 seats it won in 2000 in the 150-member
parliament. But with the new openness, they are hoping for more, and winning
tougher race's like Kay's.

      The race pits Kay - a white man who was chased off his large
commercial farm in 2002 during Zimbabwe's controversial land-reform
program - against the nation's black defense minister, Sidney Sekeramayi,
who is also the former head of Zimbabwe's feared Central Intelligence

      Kay is confident he's got more supporters than Mr. Sekeramayi. But
that's hardly the only issue. This district is infamous for election
violence. In 2000, the MDC candidate was run out of town and his house
torched. His supporters were allegedly tortured at ruling party
headquarters. It's no surprise that when the MDC tried to stage a rally
here, not a single person showed up. Even still, Sekeramayi won by only 63

      So MDC backers were amazed at the size of the recent rally. A black
unemployed former farm manager named Edward exults: "To have this rally
here - wow. This is real change." Eventually the rain stops and chanting and
speeches start. "Chinja, chinja," the ebullient crowd yells, using the word
for "change."

      But Kay knows that what really matters is the reaction of the 700 or
so people standing quietly about 50 yards away. These are the town's swing

      They're lined up on the other side of a road, willing only to watch
from afar. Police 4x4s and a band of ruling-party youths roll slowly up and
down the road. "This is a small town," Edward explains. "If people see you
at an MDC rally you could be in trouble."

      Kay says the MDC's biggest challenge is the residue of fear from
2000 - and how the ruling ZANU-PF party could manipulate it. "All they need
is one public display of violence, and you've got 2,000 to 3,000 people
hiding in corners," he says.

      But for Kay, the presence of the "swing voters" validates holding the
rally in the open, so people could watch without having to commit. He says
his advisers had been urging him to have it in the local stadium, "But I
just knew people wouldn't be willing to risk walking into a public
building," he says.

      Such tactical challenges have been constant. Kay has held three
meetings in caves to avoid being arrested for contravening the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA), which restricts freedom of association and which
police use to prevent opposition meetings.

      Also, a few days before the rally, his team put up hundreds of
campaign posters at midnight. By dawn they'd been ripped down, he suspects,
by young ZANU-PF supporters. Next time he tried putting posters up at dawn.
By 7 a.m. they were gone.

      But with his wife and two grown sons helping out with campaign
logistics, Kay perseveres. At the rally, his family jumps and waves along
with the chants. He's clearly not afraid of what might happen to him. During
the days when their farm was taken, Kay was once beaten up badly - but
refused to leave the country.

      Election improvements

      To be sure, there will be efforts to curb fraud in this election:
transparent ballot boxes, more polling stations, and just one day - not
two - for voting. Foreign election monitors will be present, though
observers from the US and Europe have pointedly not been invited.

      "This election will be freer and fairer than almost any in Zimbabwe's
history - and many in Africa and the world," says Eddison Zvobgo, Jr., a
ZANU-PF member. And compared to the harsh violence that surrounded other
recent elections, this campaign has been quite peaceful.

      The globally isolated government may have encouraged a more open
climate, observers say, because it seeks more international legitimacy.
Recent ZANU-PF infighting may have also distracted it.

      And the turmoil that surrounded seizures by blacks of white-owned land
a few years ago has subsided somewhat.

      But Kay and others worry the openness is really a government ploy. For
instance, the number of voting stations in his district will jump to 90,
from 50 in the last election. That means officials will be able to pinpoint
opposition enclaves and single the areas out for possible punishment.

      As the rally ends, he stays long into the afternoon, making sure those
supporters who'd been trucked to the event get home safely.

      "Otherwise," he says, "there'll be trouble tonight."

      Asked why he does it at all, he says of himself and his fellow
Zimbabweans: "We're worth fighting for."

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Pretoria News

      Zim's odd blend of optimism and darkness
      March 16, 2005

      Don't be afraid of anything, said Njabiliso "JJ" Mguni of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).

      "Don't be afraid of naming me, don't be afraid of writing that we have
met, don't be afraid of anything. There is nothing to fear. We are fighting
a straightforward and open election against Zanu-PF."

      A couple of hours before that, I had felt very frightened.

      I was travelling around Zimbabwe unaccredited as a journalist. If
found out, the penalty could be two years in Chikurubi Prison.

      This was not a prospect I relished, even though a colleague of mine, a
Zimbabwean journalist exiled to Johannesburg, had noted that such a stint
would doubtless solve my weight problem
            Iwas being followed, on the soft grey sand which comprises
Lupane's narrow thoroughfares, by a black 4xa

      I had gone in search of a village called Lupane - the capital of
Ma-tabeleland North and equidistant from Victoria Falls and Bulawayo - for
the MDC's candidate there, Mguni.

      I had chosen to reach him not by making any advance phone calls but by
picking up a hitchhiker in the vicinity of the village.

      Dependent on the hitchhiker's political sympathies, I would make
subtle enquiries about the whereabouts of Mguni.

      The man I gave a lift to was a local preacher and open about the
importance of participating in the election and that he would be voting for
the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

      He did not know where to find Mguni but he knew where to find the
local MDC organiser.

      Lupane was at the epicentre of the 1982 to '84 Gukuruhundi ("The rain
which washes away the chaff before the spring rains"), as Robert Mugabe
called the massacres perpetrated on the Ndebele inhabitants of the area by
the notorious Korean-trained 5th Brigade
            I suppose that it could be in the interest of Zanu-PF to kidnap
and kill all members of the opposition. That might still happen

      The brigade commander was the present chief of the Zimbabwean air
force, Perence Shiri. He took his orders from Emmerson Mnangagwa, then head
of state security, now speaker of parliament.

      "Official" figures hold that 20 000 people were murdered for allegedly
being "dissidents" (that is, anti Mugabe's Zanu-PF party).

      The more correct figure (or the "dark figure", as Mguni calls it) is
said to have been 50 000.

      People were forced to dig their own graves and shot, or bodies were
tossed into disused mines. Others were herded into camps to be tortured and

      One of the worst atrocities, the massacre of 62 men, women and
children, took place in January 1983 at the (now dry) Cewala River at

      At any rate, as we swung off the main road into Lupane, there - at its
gates, so to speak - stood the local Zanu-PF election office, with four
large men standing outside, leaning against a black 4x4.

      We continued - first to the home of the local organiser (who was not
there), then to the MDC office, a room of about two-and-a-half square metres
with a table and computer in the middle.

      By then, having dropped my hitchhiker, I was being followed, on the
soft grey sand which comprises Lupane's narrow thoroughfares, by a black

      I also discovered that Mguni was at that point not in Lupane but
      travelling there from Bulawayo.

      It seemed an appropriate time to leave. Which, having made complicated
arrangements by cellphone to meet Mguni somewhere on the road, I did. But I
was frightened; I could almost smell Chikurubi.

      In the end I met Mguni by parking at a specific place in Bulawayo and
waiting for him to find my car. He slid into the passenger seat soon after

      Talking of darkness, one of the many things in short supply in
Zimbabwe is the globes for street lights. Both Bulawayo (and Harare) are in
semi-darkness at night.

      This makes navigation difficult, collisions easier, and, if you're
already feeling jumpy, makes you more so.

      But Mguni is an upbeat man and, by the time I was buying him dinner in
a local restaurant and he was telling me not to fear anything, I was feeling

      Yet Mguni, while being positive about the elections and Zimbabwe in
general, cannot help being an odd blend of optimism and darkness.

      On the one hand, he said suddenly at dinner that by that very time
(9pm) on March 31, he would be celebrating victory. On the other, he
conceded that there are many ways in which Zanu-PF could, and might, rig the

      These include fiddling with the voters' roll and using food and the
local headmen (in rural areas, such as Lupane) as tools to ensure voter

      On the one hand, he argued that Zanu-PF had clearly eschewed violence
in the forthcoming elections. On the other, he argued that the ruling party
was "completely unpredictable" and that anything might happen in the week
preceding March 31.

      On the one hand, he argued that "the country is strong" and the
electorate buoyant and looking forward to a free and fair election when
"their voices would be heard".

      On the other, he had earlier slumped disconsolately in his seat as we
drove through the dark streets of Bulawayo, saying, "Look what a mess this
place is, it has gone down the tubes. I don't know how it can be restored."

      Asked about the recent statement by Thabo Mbeki that he (Mbeki) had
"no reason to think that anybody in Zimbabwe will act in a way that will
militate against elections being free and fair", Mguni said:

      "Oh well, we Zimbabweans know all about Mbeki by now. We can't count
on him. Look what he said about HIV-Aids. Either he is foolish or he simply
wants to be very provocative ..."

      Formerly a teacher of disabled children (one of the few in Zimbabwe),
Mguni was forced, as a result of standing in last May's by-election, to give
up his job and he is broke.

      He is completely dependent in most ways on the "support groups" that
the MDC has created for its candidates, many of which contain white
Zimbabwean members - a situation that is often flung in the face of the MDC
by Zanu-PF.

      Mguni is unapologetic about this. "We are not racists. We are not
trying to chase white people out of this country."

      Mguni also mentioned in passing that one of the country's electoral
rules is that if a candidate for a particular constituency, in the weeks
running up to the election, should for whatever reason be unable to stand,
then the opposing candidate must run unopposed.

      There can be no alternative candidate once the nomination court has
sat and closed. "So I suppose," said Mguni rather off-handedly, "that it
could be in the interests of Zanu-PF to kidnap and kill members of the
opposition. That might still happen."

      Just before the end of dinner, Mguni receives a call. It is one of his
"minders", the man scheduled to pick him up and take him home. The man has
been handing out pamphlets which, for complicated electoral reasons, are
illegal - and he has narrowly escaped arrest.

      He has therefore "fled" Bulawayo.

      The MDC candidate for Lupane, who lives some way outside Bulawayo, in
an area from which I would be unlikely to find my way back in the dark, was
stuck in a restaurant in the dark town with me.

      Mguni could not even make a phone call because he had no more "juice"
(as the Zimbabweans refer to air time) on his cellphone.

      Nor did the MDC candidate for Lupane have any money. So I - or rather
Independent Newspapers - made a small but meaningful contribution to a free
and fair election on March 31 in Zimbabwe.
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The Mercury

      SA MPs threaten to leave Zim

      Parliamentary observers refuse to join official sa team
      March 16, 2005

      By Angela Quintal & Basildon Peta

      South Africa's election observers have run straight into a hornet's
nest in Zimbabwe as the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has
refused to meet them and the South African opposition party observers have
threatened to fly home.

      The head of the South African government observer mission, Labour
Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, provoked an angry MDC reaction by announcing
on arrival that everything was set for a free and fair election.

      MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube accused him of "trying to
sanitise the illegitimate regime of (President) Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF".

      Last night, the Zimbabwean government was refusing to accredit the SA
parliamentary observer team as a separate entity.

      This was because the Zimbabwean government said it had not invited a
SA parliamentary observer team - only the ANC under James Motlatsi, the SADC
observer mission, now headed by Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka, and a South African government delegation.

      The ANC MPs proposed that the team be absorbed into the official South
African government team.

      But the opposition MPs - from the ACDP, the ID, the DA, the
      FF, the UDM, the UCDP and the IFP - said this would compromise their
independence and said they would go home.

      Last night they were still meeting to try to resolve the problem.

      The opposition MPs appeared to be especially insistent that they not
be associated with the South African government team after Mdladlana's
controversial remarks after meeting Mugabe on Monday night.

      These remarks had prompted the MDC to cancel a meeting with him, MDC
shadow foreign minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said, "because we
see no point". She said Mdladlana had already judged the election to be free
and fair.

      Ncube said earlier that Mdladlana's comments had shown "an appalling
lack of objectivity".

      "The South Africans have let us down; history will judge them very
harshly indeed," he added.

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Christian Science Monitor

from the March 16, 2005 edition

      Reporters on the Job

      . What notepad? Zimbabwe isn't letting foreign journalists in the
country these days - and has closed down virtually every independent media
organization inside the country. So the Monitor's Abraham McLaughlin, like
other reporters, had to go in as a "tourist."

      "I had actually been to Zimbabwe in 1991 - as a real tourist," Abe
says. "It's a stunning country, with lush rolling hills, some of the best
roads in Africa, and warm friendly people."
      Abe didn't take his computer or business cards - only his camera and a
few other tourist essentials. "I got so used to pretending I was a tourist
that it was a bit unsettling when a white woman at Ian Kay's rally walked up
to me and said, 'I hear we're touring the same sites.' She turned out to be
a reporter too," Abe says.

      Abe says the most frustrating thing about having to go in as a
"tourist" was that he couldn't talk to ruling-party candidates or officials.
"If I had, there was a big chance they'd expose me - and either jail or
deport me. Once safely home, I did call one ruling-party official. But it's
not the same as talking to them in person. Like other journalists, I have
applied for official accreditation. I hope the government grants it - so I
can go back closer to the election and get a fuller view of the other side
of the story."
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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Teachers Face ZANU PF Cash Demands

Authorities forcing school staff to provide funds for statehood anniversary.

By Chipo Sithole in Harare (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 15,

Schoolteachers in Zimbabwe's rural schools are having money extorted from
them by the ruling ZANU PF party to help bankroll its 25th independence
anniversary celebrations beginning on April 18, IWPR can reveal.

Meanwhile, large numbers of rural teachers are applying for transfers to
urban schools to escape constant harassment by President Robert Mugabe's
much-feared personal stormtroopers - the 50,000-strong national youth
militia widely known as the Green Bombers.

Letters sent by ZANU PF provincial leaders, and seen by IWPR, set out
details of the Silver Jubilee payments expected from each teacher according
to his or her rank.

"Secondary school teachers are required to pay around six and a half US
dollars," reads a letter from one ZANU PF district committee to a school in
Mashonaland Central province. "From primary school teachers we will need
around four dollars and headmasters will have to pay 16 dollars."

The average pre-tax monthly salary of a Zimbabwean schoolteacher is around
110 dollars.

"It is our hope that each headmaster will make sure that all his teachers
comply as we need the money to make our Silver Jubilee a resounding
 success," reads the letter, which bears the official ZANU PF letterhead.

Although the letter does not state what measures will be taken against
teachers who fail to pay, IWPR understands there are plenty of subtle and
no-so-subtle methods to ensure compliance. Teachers who have defied party
directives in the past have been denied food aid, which has now become
essential for survival in rural areas following the collapse of the
agricultural system. They are also threatened with transfers to areas remote
from their families.

"Teachers have long been under pressure from Mugabe's militia and now they
are being forced to make donations for a national project. That's not fair,"
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers' Union of
Zimbabwe, PTUZ, told IWPR.

Majongwe was arrested, detained illegally for a week, assaulted and tortured
by police after leading a strike for better pay and conditions two years
ago. The majority of teachers have traditionally been supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, and this has triggered waves
of government repression against them.

In 2002, during a presidential election which resulted in a narrow victory
for Mugabe, 30 schools were forcibly closed by government supporters and
Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge told a teachers' conference, "You can even be
killed for supporting the opposition." Hundreds fled from rampaging ZANU PF
militants who beat them up and burnt down their homes.

In the run-up to the parliamentary election on March 31, Majongwe has warned
his members that the state's Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, has
sent its agents into state schools to deter pro-MDC teachers from trying to
influence communities to support the opposition. Education Minister Aeneas
Chigwedere has warned, "Any teacher caught in the political web will pay for

One of Majongwe's PTUZ officials, MacDonald Maungazani, said, "Teachers are
opinion leaders and that is why the CIO has initiated this programme to spy
on them. We are urging our members to be careful what they say in the
staffroom or beer hall."

Teachers have traditionally been community leaders in remote rural areas
where they have been a vital source of guidance for people who are widely
illiterate. The majority of teachers, disgruntled by poor pay and
deteriorating working conditions, turned to the MDC when it emerged in 2000,
earning the wrath of ZANU PF and Mugabe, who accused teachers of trying to
brainwash rural schoolchildren.

The majority of rural schools have no textbooks, stationery or chalk, let
alone computers. The parlous state of these schools has developed in a
country that at independence boasted the best education system in Africa. As
recently as 2000 primary school enrolment was 93 per cent, but the figure
has since slumped to below 50 per cent, with the dropout rate continuing to

To counter the popularity of the PTUZ, Mugabe recently established a
pro-ZANU PF teachers' union, the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, TUZ, which has
been compelling teachers to undergo military training at national youth
militia camps and attend ZANU PF rallies. A teacher at Nyamhuka Secondary
School, in the Eastern Highlands, said, "We have been told that we need the
TUZ for our safety ahead of the parliamentary election. Our headmaster made
it clear that we would ignore his advice at our own peril. We have become
TUZ members for security reasons."

In the Eastern Highlands capital of Mutare, an MDC stronghold and place of
intense political violence, scores of teachers daily converge on the local
education offices seeking transfers to urban and suburban schools. They cite
intimidation and fears of violence as election day draws near.

While fear grips the teaching profession, AIDS is killing tens of thousands
of its members. The United Nations estimates that one-third of the country's
110,000 teachers are HIV-positive and that by 2010 at least 38,000 of them
will be dead.

The statistics are chilling. There's been nothing like it since the Black
Death in 14th century Europe. And, of course, it has a knock-on effect on
children already deprived of textbooks and writing materials.

There are now more than a million AIDS orphans in a country with just 11.5
million people. As the country's economy and social fabric rapidly
deteriorates, teachers have increasingly taken to alcohol and lengthy
absenteeism while being blamed for infecting pupils as young as 11 with HIV.

Chipo Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Harare.
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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Military to Run Election

New law allows key Mugabe allies to take prominent role in parliamentary

By Chipo Sithole in Harare (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 15,

Three years after the Zimbabwean military covertly ran a presidential poll
which enabled Robert Mugabe to retain supreme power in Zimbabwe, the army
will again fill all the key positions for this month's parliamentary
elections - legally this time.

A new Electoral Act was signed into law by Mugabe in January that permits
military, police and prison officers to staff the Electoral Supervisory
Commission, ESC, and to run both the voting and the counting at 8,200
counting stations. In addition, thousands of youth militiamen and women,
answerable directly to the president, will be drafted into the military
before polling day so that they too can serve in counting stations.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, will be allowed to place
only one election agent in each of the polling and counting stations - a
number it claims is totally inadequate to monitor the vote and the count

The key appointment is that of recently retired army brigadier Kennedy
Zimondi as chief election officer. Sources told IWPR that Zimondi and other
military officers seconded to the ESC are working out of the main offices of
the Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, at Hardwicke House in the centre
of the capital Harare.

"They have already finished scrutinising the voters' roll and are now doing
an intelligence appreciation of the situation before the election," said the

"There are two men - Major Sibindi, from Sixth Army headquarters, and Major
Kampira, from Presidential Guard headquarters - who are also involved. This
duo has been working on elections since before the presidential poll in
2002. They were part of a large military network assigned [illegally] to the
presidential election."

The military, theoretically neutral but in fact loyal to Mugabe and ZANU PF,
will collaborate closely with the ruling party's National Command Centre,
NCC. An ad hoc body that functions mainly in election periods, the NCC is
run by ZANU PF's national political commissar Elliott Manyika.

A new and supposedly independent Zimbabwe Election Commission, ZEC, was set
up to comply with guidelines set down by the 14-state Southern African
Development Community, SADC, for the conduct of a "free and fair" election.
But the ZEC amounts to virtually powerless window dressing, which is anyway
answerable to the real power, Brigadier Zimondi's ESC.

"The strategy is to get people in key positions who share the hard-line
attitudes of the government," said Lovemore Mdhuku, chairman of the National
Constitutional Assembly, an opposition coalition of churches, trade unions
and other civil society organisations. "You appoint the military because
they follow orders. They will do what is required."

John Makumbe, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, said, "To
shore up his military support, Mugabe recently gave pay rises of up to 1,400
per cent to the troops. He has also given top officers big commercial farms
confiscated from white farmers by the government. The army and police
services also purged and punished thousands in the junior ranks suspected of
supporting Mugabe's opponents."

"The big issue remains what happens on polling day," commented Eddie Cross,
an MDC national executive member and economics spokesman.

"Remember what Josef Stalin said, 'It is not who votes that counts, but who
counts the vote.' He said that a long time ago, but it remains true to this
day. And this time in Zimbabwe we know who will do that because the military
and the CIO are running the entire elections system."

Chipo Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Harare.
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Wildlife Slaughtered
In Zimbabwe National Park
By Johnny Rodrigues
Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force

We have just discovered that for the duration of 2004, "Operation Nyama"
took place in Hwange National Park. For those who don't know, the English
translation of "Nyama" is "Meat". The purpose of this operation was to
provide meat for the people and it is alleged that a quota was issued,
authorizing a large number of animals to be shot for "Operation Nyama". If
the aim was genuinely only to feed the people, it is strange that most of
the elephant bulls that were, and still are being shot, have 60 to 70 pound
tusks and are in their prime. Older bulls with broken tusks are not being

We have had several complaints from tourists. "Operation Nyama" was supposed
to end on the 31st December 2004 but we received a report just three weeks
ago from a group of horrified and disgusted American tourists. They said
they saw a National Parks truck which had broken down inside Hwange National
Park and it was fully loaded with dead impala and buffalo. An attempt had
been made to conceal the dead animals with branches and leaves but the
Americans could easily see what was in the truck. They were extremely upset
and said they were going to report it to their government upon their return
to America.

We have had other reports of tourists cutting their visits to Hwange
National Park short because they have witnessed animals being slaughtered by
National Parks staff in the prime game viewing areas. These tourists said
they intend to go to the press and their local Congressman when they get

One of the camp managers in Hwange has threatened to remove his diesel
engines from the park because there is little point in spending millions of
dollars on fuel to pump water to attract the game just so it can be shot for

Most of the game viewing in Hwange takes place around the Main Camp area but
tourists are saying there is practically no game left there. Some of the
animals have been slaughtered and the others do not go there any more for
fear of being shot. The tourists made scathing remarks about the shocking
state of the roads and asked what their National Parks entry fees were being
used for. There is also very little water being pumped into the pans.

The Zimbabwean government spends millions of dollars promoting tourism on
the one hand and on the other, National Parks staff seem to be making a good
job of destroying what is left of our tourism industry. One of the wardens
of Main Camp has apparently been arrested for stealing eighteen of the
National Parks diesel pumps, most of which were donated by conservation
organizations, and selling them to the "new farmers" who are all now hunting
in the areas adjoining the park.

It has been reported from Amsterdam that the Dutch customs police have
seized a shipment of African elephant body parts including 22 feet, eight
tusks, eight ears, three tails, a skull and an entire hide. The cargo,
originating in Zimbabwe and bound for Germany was halted at Schipol Airport
without proper licences. The body parts were intended for buyers in Spain,
Portugal and the Czech Republic and as yet, no arrests have been made. At
least the dealers have lost their money because the cargo has been
confiscated and will most likely be destroyed.

Everybody hoped that when National Parks became an "authority" as opposed to
a government department, the wildlife would once again enjoy the protection
it had before the onset of the land reform programme but the
irresponsibility of the new National Parks Authority is beyond belief. It
has now reached the point where the wildlife is probably safer outside the
National Park areas because the people who have been entrusted with
safeguarding this precious commodity are the very people who are destroying
it. The Zimbabwean Government should be held accountable for this
destruction of our national heritage.
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FROM: The Economist, 26.2.2005

Democracy in Africa

Mugabe's bogus ballot

The ruling party prepares to steal another election

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's cricket-loving president, celebrated his 81st
birthday last weekend.  He took the opportunity, amid state-funded
festivities, to dismiss his opponents as stooges of Britain's prime
minister, Tony Blair, and to predict that his party, ZANU-PF, would scoop
two thirds of the seats at the parliamentary election on March 31st. 
Given that half his people depend on food aid, this might seem rashly
optimistic. But Mr Mugabe has a knack of winning elections regardless of
the wishes of voters.

At the last parliamentary poll, in 2000, a new opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), won about half of the vote despite
widespread fraud and intimidation in ZANU's favour.  But thanks to
gerrymandering and Mr Mugabe's power to name a fifth of MPs, it ended up
with only 57 seats out of 150.  The MDC filed 37 lawsuits to overturn the
results from constituencies where the rigging was most blatant, but none of
these challenges has yet reached a final judgement, and in a month they
mill be moot.

Since 2000, which was the first time Mr Mugabe faced a serious electoral
threat, he has sharpened his rigging tools.  At a presidential election in
2002, he broke enough heads and stuffed enough ballot boxes to ensure
victory, but still somehow managed to persuade many of his fellow African
presidents, including, crucially, South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, that the vote
was legitimate.  Next month, he looks set to repeat that triumph.

The voters' roll is thought to list large numbers of dead people, and the
names of many ZANU supporters are thought to appear more than once.  It is
hard to check, though, because officials will not make the entire roll

The MDC is finding it hard to campaign.  Last week, police arrested Ian
Makone, its electoral chief, for organising and "illegal gathering" in
Harare, the capital.  That is, he was meeting the party's 120 candidates. 
This week, three MDC candidates were beaten up by soldiers while travelling
from their constituencies.  Since Mr Mugabe has recruited and trained a
youth militia to flog and torture dissidents, there are large areas of the
country where MDC activists fear to tread.  Most MDC members of parliament
have been arrested or assaulted at some point in the past five years.

The ruling party controls all broadcast media, and critical print
journalism but banned.  Three of the last Zimbabwean journalists writing
for foreign outlets hounded out of the country last week. Election
observers from countries that harp on about democracy, such as Britain and
America, are banned.  Few Zimbabweans will be allowed to monitor the polls,
either.  Responsibility for organisation of the election rests with a
commission whose members Mr Mugabe appoints.

Many, perhaps millions of would be MDC voters have moved abroad in search
of jobs, food or freedom.  They will not be allowed to vote, unless they
work for the Zimbabwean government.  Those who remain, often the old and
the very young are easier to intimidate or bribe with handouts of maize
flour.  Civil-rights groups that receive foreign funding may not dabble
politics by, for example, teaching people that the ballot ought to be

ZANU is far from united: several of Mugabe's lieutenants are jostling to
succeed him when he eventually leaves office. But with an election near,
they are mostly shrewd enough to pull together to keep out of the MDC, and
Mr Mugabe is quick to crush any crony who gets above himself.

At the weekend, for example he sacked his information minister, Jonathan
Moyo the man responsible for criminalizing honest journalism in Zimbabwe.
He had impressed Mr Mugabe with his ability to invent and broadcast
conspiracies involving the MDC, the British government and white
homosexuals bent on bringing back colonial rule.He was feted, in circles,
for his hilarious puns linking Tony Blair with a local make of toilet. But
then he made the mistake of opposing Mr Mugabe's choice of vice-president,
so Mr Mugabe flushed him away.

Zimbabwe's neighbours are preparing to applaud another ZANU "victory". The
Southern African Development Community (SADC), the main regional block have
drawn up a list of democratic standards that Zimbabwe must obey or face its
neighbour's displeasure.  The MDC worries that the election will flunk most
of them but that SADC will do no more than tut.

Last week, Tanzania's president Benjamin Mkapa denied that Zimbabwe was
ill- governed. Blamed the MDC for the trouble there and suggested that
westerners only criticise Mr Mugabe because he has seized white-owned land
and given it to Blacks.  South Africa's Mr Mbeki meanwhile, in an interview
with the Finanacial Times, admitted that some of Mr Mugabe's policies were
"incorrect".  But he repeated the ludicrous canard that Zimbabwe's present
conflict is between Blacks and whites.  In fact, it is between a large
majority who want a fair election and a small, predatory minority who wish
to deny them one.
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to: with subject line "For: Open Letter Forum".


Thought of the Day:

"You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within

Galileo Galilei


- RE: Farmer's Weekly Reply on MF - Colleen Henderson
- RE: JAG's Help on the late Andrew Fuller - Peter Bellingham
- Airport transfer - Barbara Ann Bryson
- Blondes, Zambezi, Mango - the lowes
- Update on Ronald Marufu/Makombe - Colleen Taylor
- It's painful when done to you - Anonymous
- Reply to: It's painful... - Joe Whaley


LETTER 1: RE: Farmer's Weekly Reply on MF, received 14.3.2005

by Colleen Henderson

----- Original Message -----

From: colleen henderson
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2005 11:35 PM
Subject: Reply from farmer's weekly

Dear JAG

Surprise! Surprise!  At last a reply!!!! Read on! I have not yet replied to
Mr Burgess. I await backup from you!!! My comments in blue.

Col Henderson.


----- Original Message -----
From: Chris Burgess
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2005 7:34 AM
Subject: farmer's weekly

Dear Colleen

First, my apologies for taking so long to respond to you on such an
important issue. The fact that things are a little chaotic in the office at
the moment, due to several resignations, is no excuse. I don't know if you
are a regular reader of Farmer's Weekly, but the one thing I can assure you
of - we are definitely not apologists for what is happening in Zimbabwe. As
a matter of fact, my mother and father, both of whom farm in the north
eastern cape, have already been "warned" by anonymous sources in the
provincial government that I should tone down my rhetoric in Farmer's
Weekly regarding Mugabe's excesses, because "we know where you farm."
Constantly referring to Mugabe as "mad bob" hasn't helped my cause I'm
afraid. I just wanted to get that issue out of the way first, as I was
rather disturbed by the accusatory tone of your missive.

As far as the column is concerned. I think it should be patently obvious
that the content was so skewed that one could quite easily term it
propaganda.(Say what....?) I think that much should have been
obvious(Duh....I'm much too thick!) to anyone who read the piece. The
purpose of the column, however, is to reflect one viewpoint or reality, not
several, as the case is with normal articles. Hence the title, "by
invitation" which suggests an opinion piece, and which isn't supposed to
reflect "the truth." ( Ummm??????) From time to time we publish
controversial opinions, if for no other reason than to illustrate the
spurious nature of such opinions. (Obviously, with dum-dums like me out
there reading articles that don't have the disclaimer" Opinions expressed
in this magazine aren't necessarily the viewpoint of this publication,"
there is a very real risk that 'stupid' people will take the articles at
face value?!?!?!) We definitely were not trying to slip through some
propoganda, that I can assure you.

To be perfectly honest with you though, we do not know as much as we would
like to about the real situation in Zimbabwe.(What a hellava admission from
the editor of the main farmers' mag in SA!!!! It's only being going on for
the past 5 years...plenty of time one would think, to damnedwell find
out!!!!) All we know is that it's a right-royal bugger-up with no real end
in sight. The bits and pieces we do pick up about the excruciating
situation in Zimbabwe, and the successes of Zim farmers elsewhere in
Africa, are haphazard, to say the least. But we South Africans do
appreciate the way the Zim situation is constantly being used by our local
politicians as a subtle, and at times not so subtle, threat to push through
ill-considered decisions, such as the current land-reform mess. From your
mails I gather that you have contacts with former Zimbabwean farmers, and I
would therefore like to extend a personal invitation to you to find me an
ex-Zimbawean farmer with the necessary knowledge of the situation there to
write a rebuffal to the piece we published.(I would've said all the stuff I
had already sent them was more than enough to dispute the crap in that
dairy article!! But seeing as it isn't, can JAG make any suggestions??

Anyone there willing to tell it as it is??) Say about 1 000 words. The
article will of course also be prominently displayed on the cover of the
magazine. I would also like to enquire from you if you could put me in
touch with Zimbabweans who could supply us with information about the
current status of Zim farmers in Africa and abroad.(It would take me a mnth
of Sundays to dig out all the articles in my news files about Zim farmers
in Zambia, Nigeria & Mocambique.  Have you got these articles to hand by
any chance? Is there anyone you can suggest who would supply the required
info?) It would be nice to feature a regular update on Zimbabwe so that the
issue does not leave the public eye. (How about it JAG??? It is an
opportunity to get some truth out to the ignorant SAfricans....specially
the farming community)

Looking forward to hearing from you

Kind regards

Chris Burgess
Farmer's Weekly



by Peter Bellingham

Dear JAG

I received the following E-Mail from Beryl Hulbert which I am forwarding
for your information.  She is really most grateful to you and to your
organisation for your information regarding her old friend Andrew Fuller.

Many thanks for your assistance in this matter.

Peter Bellingham


Please thank the kind people who answered my enquiry as to what happened to
my friend Major Andrew Fuller. I am very grateful to know, even if it is
sad news.

Thank you to Father David Gornall for taking the service for Andrew, and to
Jenny Faasen for attending.

If they have more information about his last two or three years I would be
very glad to hear it - I last visited him in his cottage off the main road
at Melfort in the late 1990s.

Thank you very much for your help, I will be letting his English friends
know as we had all lost contact with him.

Beryl Hulbert,
"Lapwings", Oakley, Bucks, England.


LETTER 3: AIRPORT TRANSFER, received 11.3.2005

by Barbara Ann Bryson

To whom it may concern

Please could you help me with a contact e-mail address. My partner and I
will be returning home from Britain on the early British airways flight and
would like to know if there is anyone who does airport transfers and the

Thank you for your help,
Barbara Ann Bryson


LETTER 4: BLONDES, ZAMBEZI, AND MANGO, received 12.3.2005

by the lowes

Please could you put zambezi blonde in touch with mango.

the lowes.


LETTER 5: Update on Ronald Marufu/Makombe, received 9.3.2005

by Colleen Taylor

You may be happy to hear that this "gentleman" who has another totally
different name that I cannot remember, is safely in CID cells in Mutare and
being charged with obtaining money by false pretenses.  I'll let you know
the outcome.

Please if anyone has any similar experience could they let everyone know
quickly, so we can avoid a similar situation!

Colleen Taylor


LETTER 6: IT'S PAINFUL WHEN DONE TO YOU, received 9.3.2005

by Anonymous

Dear JAG

Now you talk of being denied livelihoods, property etc.? What was it that
your forefathers denied ours in 1890-6? Are you all that ignorant JOE

Kindest Regards from



LETTER 7: REPLY TO: IT'S PAINFULL... (OLF 347), received 15.3.2005

by Joe Whaley

Dear Anonymous

Thank you for your concern as to the actions of my Grandfather in 1890-96.
If my family history is correct then I believe that he was actively
employed setting up some of the first telegraph lines in this country at
that time thus helping to provide communications and development to a new

The gentleman occupying my farm has certainly not contributed one drop to
the development of this country over the last 3 years, and I fully believe
that he along with many others on the bandwagon of political patronage have
done much to help Zimbabwe back towards the dark ages.

I bought my farm in 1980 during the tenure of the current government, and
spent the next 22 years developing it to the productive unit it was in
2002. It now produces a mere fraction of that, in just 3 years???!!!

Yours sincerely
Joe Whaley


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
                                  we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines

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As a result of my email regarding offers of compensation by government, a
number of you have completed powers of attorney to enable me to liaise on
your behalf with the Ministry of Lands regarding such offers and I was able
to obtain figures of compensation for approximately 30 properties. However,
due to the fact that we have rejected all the offers made by government,
the Ministry of Lands, i.e. Mr. Moyo, is refusing to talk to me as he feels
we are disrupting their compensation plan.

Until this can be resolved at a higher level, I am afraid farmers will have
to talk to him directly with regard to accepting or rejecting the
government's offer.

I will let you know as soon as this problem has been resolved and apologise
for any inconvenience but the matter is out of my hands.

Yours sincerely,
Allan Higgins
For Valcon


JAG Hotlines:
+263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or need advice,
                                  please don't hesitate to contact us -
                                  we're here to help!
+263 (04) 799 410 Office Lines
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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Mauritius Watch
Issue 20: 14 March 2005

On 17 August 2004, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders meeting in Mauritius adopted the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Zimbabwe, as a member of SADC, also signed the Declaration and committed itself to implementing the standards. The Mugabe regime claims that it is compliant with these standards and thereby invites a comparison between its own electoral and security legislation and its actions on the one hand, and the SADC Principles and Guidelines on the other.

“Mauritius Watch” provides a regular, objective and non-partisan assessment of Zimbabwe’s compliance with these principles and guidelines. In the run-up to the 2005 Parliamentary Elections we note any significant failures to adhere to the SADC standards. This is the 20th edition of the special weekly feature, and it should be read therefore in conjunction with the earlier editions. The evidence is cumulative. We invite readers to consider the larger picture, from which a very clear pattern emerges – and on which we comment below, after recording some of the more significant events of the last week.

The Parliamentary Elections are due to take place on March 31, now less than 3 weeks away.

A ruling ZANU-PF candidate, Sihle Thebe, on March 10 told residents in Makokoba constituency (Bulawayo) that they would be denied food if they voted for the opposition in the upcoming general election.

Thebe told the residents that the ruling party controls the government’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and would order the food utility to freeze supplies to them if they backed the opposition. Speaking in the vernacular Ndebele language, Thebe said: “The ruling party is in charge and you should be warned that you will not receive any grain from the GMB if you vote for the MDC.”

Thebe was speaking in the presence of ZANU-PF and state second vice-president Joyce Mujuru who neither contradicted her nor ordered her to withdraw her open threat to the voters.

(See the full story in Zim Online: March 11)

A phrase used by Robert Mugabe and his propaganda machine for several years after independence in 1980 was translated as: “Absolute power is when the people are on their knees asking for a handful of mealie meal and you are the only one who can give it.”

SADC standards breached

Two ZANU-PF supporters in Shumba Ward of Dombashava last week publicly told a party meeting in Gormonzi that they would beat up people and burn houses and property belonging to all suspected opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters in the area if ZANU-PF loses the parliamentary polls later this month.

The threats were made to about 100 people from four villages in Shumba ward. The councilor for Shumba ward, Gibson Chiwara, and the ZANU-PF youth chairman identified only as Mapurani, also told four headmen who were present at the meeting that they should compile a list of all suspected MDC supporters so that the two officials would make sure that they were not allowed to vote on polling day.

On the same occasion the sister of Luke Tamborinyoka, a prominent Zimbabwean journalist and former news editor of the (now banned) Daily News whose home village is in the area, was told openly that her homestead would be burnt because of her political sympathies and her brother’s anti-ZANU-PF stance.

(Reported in the Daily News Online Edition 2.1 of March 11)

SADC standards breached

A 61 year-old grandmother last week fled her homestead in a village in ward 15 in Mutare South constituency following death threats from ZANU-PF youth militia.

Betty Shorishori left behind her two grandchildren – one in Grade III and the other in Form I – after threats that her home would be torched for supporting the opposition (MDC) party. She explained to reporters that her problems began when she attended an MDC rally in the area. She was later informed that her name had been singled out at a local ZANU-PF meeting as an MDC supporter.

“I heard that my grandchildren’s names had been deleted from a list of beneficiaries of free education through BEAM (Basic Education Assistance Module) – a government programme designed to assist orphans and other disadvantaged children to attend school. Shorishori also learnt that she was to be excluded from the food aid programme.

After fleeing her homestead the terrified grandmother sought refuge at the MDC Manicaland offices.

(See the full report in The Standard of March 6)

- To see this story in context one should also refer to the front page article in the same edition of The Standard, entitled “Violence flares up”. Numerous other examples of violence around the country are cited in the article which begins: “Political violence has flared up at various flash points around the country with opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidates being routinely targeted by suspected ZANU-PF supporters … Police are reportedly reluctant to arrest the ruling party’s supporters.”

- The issue of continuing violence and threats of violence against any who are deemed disloyal to ZANU-PF, is also taken up in an editorial in a Roman Catholic Church publication, “In Touch with Church and Faith” from which we quote on page 9. The article is called “Verbal Violence”.

SADC standards breached


Despite official denials by the ZANU-PF regime, political violence continues. One of the most recent casualties is a United Methodist Church building in Marondera which was torched last week by suspected ZANU-PF supporters.

Iain Kay, the MDC candidate for Marondera East constituency, provided assistance when the building was constructed. The church is also linked to retired Bishop Abel Muzorewa, a political opponent of Robert Mugabe particularly during the first decade of independence. These links have been sufficient to attract the attention of ZANU-PF thugs, and are presumably considered sufficient justification by them for the attack on a house occupied by Pastor Nyasha Kazembe, the head of the congregation. A neighbouring house also caught fire in the attack.

Kazembe was away on business at the time of the arson attack and amid reports that he now fears for his life, he has not returned to his flock.

(Reported in the Zimbabwe Standard March 13)

In June 2004 in the Hwedza district close to Marondera, the St Cross Anglican Church, a beautiful little church that had served the community for decades, was desecrated. The hallowed sanctuary was plundered and vandalised by ZANU-PF thugs and tainted with offensive graffiti. It was reported that the ZANU-PF government minister responsible for youth training, Elliot Manyika, had put out the word that party meetings must be held in churches wherever possible to “undermine the authority of the church.”

SADC standards breached


Hilda Mafudze, the MDC candidate for Manyame, reported on March 12 that nearly 50 MDC supporters had been detained by police after being beaten up by so-called war veterans at Tongagara Park – where a number of illegally settled war veterans and soldiers now live.

“The so-called war veterans said Tongogara Park was a no-go area (for the opposition),” reported Mafudze.

On the night of March 12 more than 30 MDC supporters were detained at Marimba Police Station while another 20 were taken to hospital.

(Reported in The Zimbabwe Standard March 13)

This and similar reports highlighting the partisan stance of the police should be read in the context of the MDC Press Release of March 2 (to which we referred in Mauritius Watch 19), in which the MDC secretary for information and publicity, Paul Themba Nyathi, accused the police of bias, and warned: “The actions of the police thus far in the election campaign have served to further erode public confidence in the electoral process and further undermine its legitimacy.”

SADC standards breached


The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has accused the police of providing transport and logistical support to ruling ZANU-PF party candidates in the upcoming general election.

MDC officials said police vehicles were being used to ferry ZANU-PF candidates and their campaign teams to rallies and meetings with supporters. They also claimed that the police have stood by at such meetings while ZANU-PF militants have threatened villagers with severe retribution if they dare to vote for the MDC in the March 31 poll.

The three MDC candidates for Matobo, Mzingwane and Insiza constituencies (in Matabeleland South) reported that in addition to actively supporting the ruling party’s campaign, the police were also using state security laws to bar the opposition from holding rallies and meetings with their supporters.

Human rights and pro-democracy activists have on numerous occasions accused the police of bias in favour of ZANU-PF. They cite for example frequent cancellations of the opposition party’s meetings by the police, while the law enforcement agency is yet to bar a single meeting called by Robert Mugabe or the ruling party.

(Reported in Zim Online March 9)

SADC standards breached


Close to half the Zimbabwean population of 11.6 million has registered to vote in the general election due in a few weeks time, but opposition members complain the voters’ roll is still a shambles.

The opposition disputes the voter figures that determine the number of constituencies, accusing Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede of gerrymandering to tilt the result in ZANU-PF’s favour.

“The entire system is defective because there is still duplication of names. Its defectiveness has been compounded by a deliberately discriminatory policy that makes it difficult for people in urban areas to register, unlike those in rural areas,” says the opposition MDC’s shadow minister of justice, David Coltart.

(For further details and an analysis of the recent moves of the Registrar-General and the (Mugabe-appointed) Delimitation Commission which will clearly benefit the ruling ZANU-PF party at the expense of the MDC, see the full report in the Zimbabwe Independent March 11)

SADC standards breached


The coverage that Zimbabwe’s state media are giving the main opposition party during the campaign for parliamentary elections on March 31 “is clearly unfair” according to Reporters Without Borders.

“It is now evident that the legislative elections will take place in a climate of intimidation and censorship,” the international press freedom organisation said.

Their report continues: “There will clearly be no compliance with the democratic criteria established by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Africa Union’s treaties. Robert Mugabe’s government is violating the principles of free expression with impunity and Zimbabweans will pay the price. It is time the countries of southern Africa stopped looking passively on as one of their members sinks into the dark.”

Reporters Without Borders also condemned a threat by the head of the government’s regulatory body, the Media and Information Commission (MIC), to impose sanctions on a new weekly, The Zimbabwean, on the grounds it is a “propaganda tool.” To escape the draconian press laws that apply within the country The Zimbabwean is published outside Zimbabwe, although a small number of copies are on sale locally.

Another independent Harare-based watchdog, The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) reports that during the week of 14 to 20 February, 19 of the 28 articles about the election campaign in the state-controlled press defended ZANU-PF and the other nine disparaged the MDC. During the week of 21 to 27 February, 58 of the 66 articles about the election campaign were devoted to ZANU-PF.

(The full report of Reporters Without Boundaries can be seen on and of the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe on )

SADC standards breached

South African editors have condemned the relentless attacks on the media in Zimbabwe and warned that this does not augur well for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The editors, represented by the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF), said the continuing closures of newspapers and harassment of correspondents did not bode well for a free and fair poll on March 31.

SANEF urged the Zimbabwean authorities to lift all restrictions on journalists and media, including foreign media, as a gesture of goodwill and in the spirit of the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections. The influential body said it regretted public statements by the South African government which seemed not to give any prominence to the importance of Zimbabwe lifting its siege on the media as a precondition for a free and fair election.

(Reported in Zim Online March 8 and in the Mail and Guardian (SA) on the same day)

SADC standards breached

12.03.05 : RADIO JAMMING
SW Radio Africa, an independent radio service that broadcasts news and commentary daily to Zimbabwe from London on short and medium wave, reports the jamming of its radio transmissions.

To their listeners in Zimbabwe they say: “We are still being deliberately jammed – which obviously means that we’re doing a good job! Please bear with us while we try to overcome this problem ….”

SW Radio Africa give details of their new broadcast schedule, intended to overcome this form of censorship by the Mugabe regime, in an item carried on ZWNEWS on March 13.

- Readers will recall that the last time a desperate regime in Zimbabwe sought to censor what its citizens might hear by jamming incoming radio broadcasts, was when the Ian Smith tried to jam BBC radio transmissions from Botswana in the 1960s and early 1970s.

SADC standards breached

A serving Zimbabwe army major has been tasked to vet foreign journalists wishing to cover the country’s March 31 general election. Major Anyway Mutambudzi, who is operating from the first floor of Robert Mugabe’s Munhumutapa Building offices, is being assisted by three other soldiers.

The army major will be responsible for the accreditation of all foreign journalists wanting to report on the parliamentary election. It is understood that the accreditation of local journalist will remain in the hands of the ZANU-PF controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC).

Mutambudzi is among a long list of other serving and former members of Zimbabwe’s armed forces appointed to take charge of electoral bodies and institutions of government directly or indirectly involved in the running of the election.

Chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission established earlier this year to run the upcoming election is George Chiweshe, now a High Court Judge and formerly a senior army officer. Chiweshe was also hand picked by Robert Mugabe for the job.

(Reported in Zim Online March 11)

· An article in the Zimbabwe Independent of March 4, notes how three years after the widely condemned presidential poll, military and intelligence officers, who as election agents helped Mugabe to retain power, remain in charge of the electoral process. Mugabe recently appointed retired Brigadier Kennedy Zimondi chief elections officer replacing Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba who was a key agent during the presidential poll.

SADC standards breached

“In Touch with Church and Faith” is a regular publication of the Jesuit Order within the Roman Catholic Church. We quote here excerpts from the editorial comment of their issue no. 31 (dated March 11):

“Every Zimbabwean is an ‘election observer’, and you don’t need to be officially accredited, other than the official ones from abroad who need to be ‘politically correct’ people sure to please the host government. There was an election rally in the neighbourhood and it went off quite peacefully, though it was noisy, but there was no physical violence, no passers-by were assaulted, no people with the wrong T-shirt attacked. Making statements demanding non-violence has become fashionable. ‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’ If a slogan becomes popular, never mind you don’t believe in it, you must be the one shouting it loudest.

Walking along a street when you suddenly find yourself surrounded by 100 young people shouting rhythmically: “Hondo – hondo – hondo” (“War-war-war) gives you the creeps. They are too young to know what war is. Nobody has told them that the party line has changed: at least for media consumption, violence is ‘out’ and non-violence is ‘in’.

Nobody seems to have told the musicians either. The lyrics of their party songs are all about shedding blood and taking revenge on ‘Mabhunu’ (Boers). Some so-called Gospel singers, who claim to be Bible Christians, are involved. But according to the New Testament, not just physical violence is condemned but verbal violence and hate speech as well …..”

Editor: And we ask, who taught the ZANU-PF youths to shout “Hondo-hondo-hondo!” and who taught them to sing about revenge and bloodletting?

SADC standards breached

SOKWANELE has produced a detailed analysis of the Zimbabwean statutes that are in breach of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and the policy breaches by the ZANU-PF government.

Entitled "ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL LEGISLATION : SADC CHECK LIST", the document can be seen on our website at

We have now been measuring the performance of the Mugabe regime against the SADC Principles and Guidelines for 20 weeks. Over this period a clear pattern has emerged of a steady movement by the regime not towards, but rather away from, compliance with the regional standards on democratic elections. Though the regime would claim otherwise, certainly this is the reality on the ground. The cumulative effect of their actions and omissions over very many months, considered in conjunction with the flawed electoral laws and repressive security legislation now in place, renders any hope of a fair and free election on March 31, totally illusory.

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Zim Online

MDC snubs SA observers
Wed 16 March 2005
      HARARE - Zimbabwe's main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
yesterday refused to meet South Africa's election observer team led by
Labour Minister, Membathisi Madladlana, because it has already pre-judged
the March 31 poll in favour of the ruling ZANU PF party.

      The move is the MDC's strongest ever disapproval of how President
Thabo Mbeki's government continues to cosy up to the Mugabe regime despite
its relentless onslaught on the opposition and other opponents.

      MDC shadow foreign affairs minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga
said her party had called off yesterday's meeting with Madladlana's team
following repeated statements by the South Africans that the upcoming poll
will be free and fair.

      "We see no point of meeting them to discuss an election they have
already declared free and fair," said Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

      She nonetheless said consultations were underway in the MDC and could
not immediately confirm whether the meeting could happen at some other

      The MDC was disappointed by Mdladlana's statements, after meeting
President Robert Mugabe on Monday, also declaring the election free and
fair. Madladlana told journalists his team was happy with all the
preparations for the election.

      Mbeki has already said he saw nothing that would militate against the
holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, remarks that riled the MDC.

      In an earlier statement, MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube launched
yet another scathing attack on South Africa stating that his party saw no
reason of assisting its missions "to achieve their predetermined outcome".

      "The South Africans have let us down; history will judge them very
harshly indeed," said Ncube.

      "As far as the South African observer missions are concerned, we
dismiss in advance any reports they might publish sanitising the clearly
flawed electoral process that we are currently going through. On our part,
we see no reason in assisting their observer missions to achieve their
predetermined outcome."

      Ncube said his party was extremely disappointed and angered by the
"deliberate and consistent treachery of the South African government and its
observer missions" in dealing with the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis
despite the fact that the MDC had invested most of its diplomatic efforts in
South Africa.

      Ncube referred to the 2000 parliamentary elections and the 2002
presidential elections which SA observer missions upheld as legitimate
despite open violence and rigging by ZANU PF.

      "Today, the head of the South African delegation, Membathisi
Madladlana, is once again pontificating about free and fair conditions for
elections in Zimbabwe and once again demonstrating an appalling lack of
objectivity," said Ncube.

      "It has become clear that the South African government's position and
mission is to sanitise the illegitimate regime of Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF.
The South African government continues to go out of its way to act as the
servant of ZANU PF repression against the people of Zimbabwe's struggle for
democracy and freedom."

      Ncube added: "We have come to a clear conclusion that the South Africa
government is not a neutral arbiter. They are working for one objective: to
legitimise Mugabe at whatever cost. Therefore it does not matter what
evidence they will find on the ground, they have already made their
conclusion that this election will be free and fair."

      He said the South African government had gone globe-trotting on all
regional and international fora pretending to be a neutral arbiter in the
Zimbabwe crisis.

      The MDC said the party had co-operated fully with them because they
believed that they were genuinely looking for a peaceful and democratic
resolution to the crisis. But it had become clear that South Africa was not
a neutral arbiter, said Ncube.

      "The MDC will continue to work with all progressive governments and
organisations that are genuinely concerned about the plight of the people of
Zimbabwe. In this respect, we pay tribute to COSATU (Congress of South
African Trade Unions) and SACP (South African Communist Party). They have
demonstrated genuine concern for the plight of the people of Zimbabwe," said
Ncube. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Think-tank says majority not aware of SADC election guidelines
Wed 16 March 2005
  HARARE - A large majority of Zimbabweans are not aware of Southern African
Development Community (SADC) election guidelines on free and fair elections,
according to a survey by a local political think-tank.

      The survey by the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI)
carried out between December 2004 and January 2005, showed that only 16 out
of 1 200 respondents were aware of the SADC elections protocol, seen as the
yardstick to measure the freeness and fairness of the March 31 poll. Also
noteworthy was that in every 100 respondents, 30 said they would vote for
the ruling ZANU PF party while 16 said they preferred the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      But the researchers were quick to shoot down the significance of this
point during the release of the survey results yesterday saying the research
exercise was done when the MDC had not yet rescinded its decision last
August to boycott the month-end poll.

      Another survey has already been carried out to gauge voter preferences
after the MDC changed its position and decided to contest the election, MPOI
researchers said. The results of the survey, which also includes independent
candidates, are not yet out. "It should be emphasised that the survey was in
the context of the suspension by the MDC of its participation in all
national elections because of the alleged uneven electoral playing field,"
said MPOI principal researcher, Charles Mangongera.

      He added: "This suspension has since been lifted and the MDC has
already registered its candidates to contest. We have just done another
survey to gauge the voter preferences as things have changed and we have a
host of independent candidates."

      But Mangongera said of more significance from the latest survey report
released yesterday was that 46 percent of voting Zimbabweans were party
loyalists with established preferences, while 45 percent of every 100
potential voters were an undecided reservoir up for harnessing by political
parties and candidates. On electoral reforms, which the government says
brings Zimbabwe in line with SADC guidelines but which the MDC dismissed as
cosmetic, only 28 percent of respondents said they were aware of the

      Over half of respondents said they did not support the new requirement
to conduct polling in one day instead of the traditional two-day period. But
a third of the respondents said they backed the new arrangement which the
opposition says will help reduce chances of ballot stuffing and other
fraudulent activities.

      The survey also showed that out of every 100 potential voters, 55 were
happy with the use of translucent ballot boxes in an election in Zimbabwe
for the first time. A third said they did not support the shift from the old
wooden ballot boxes.

      Six in every 10 potential voters supported the new requirement that
ballots be counted at the polling station while a quarter of respondents
said they did not support the new counting arrangement.

      The survey, carried in old and new resettlement areas, urban areas,
communal and commercial farming areas, also touched on voter registration,
food aid and distribution and political violence.

      Seven out of every 10 potential voters said they were registered
voters but the majority said they had not bothered to inspect the voters'

      Close to 90 percent of Zimbabweans viewed the elections as important
while 80 percent thought elections influenced their lives. Up to nine in 10
people believed their vote was secret.

      The survey also showed that non-governmental organisations were by far
the key providers of food aid with nearly seven in 10 food insecure people
saying they got food aid from NGOs compared to one in 10 who were supplied
by the government. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Police rule out political sabotage in hijacking of MDC truck
Wed 16 March 2005
  HARARE - Police yesterday denied that the hijacking last week of a truck
carrying campaign material for jailed opposition legislator Roy Bennett's
wife was politically-motivated and claimed that instead the robbery might
have been an insider job.

      The Mazda T35 truck was seized by robbers near Marondera city, 60 km
east of Harare, on the way to deliver the material to Chimanimani
constituency where until yesterday Bennett's wife, Heather, was standing as
a candidate for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

      She will have to step down after the Electoral Court ruled that her
husband whom she was standing in for can contest the election. Senior
assistant police commissioner Mary Masango yesterday told journalists during
a briefing in Harare on political violence that the law enforcement agency
believed the hijacking and theft of Z$10 million that was hidden in the
truck might have been the work of insiders.

      She said: "On the way, the driver was robbed of $10 million which was
said to be under the driver's seat and Mabika (truck driver) was later
thrown out of the vehicle.

      "We are still investigating this case and the vehicle has not been
recovered but insider complicity cannot be ruled out. For now, the case does
not have any political undertones except the coincidence of the campaign
material being in the truck."

      Masango also accused the Press of lying about increasing political
violence saying there was "overwhelming peace" in Zimbabwe ahead of the
country's parliamentary election at the month-end. This was despite figures
which Masango herself gave to the Press showing an increase of politically
motivated violence and crimes by the country's two main political parties.

      She said: "Since my last briefing, we have recorded an additional 15
cases only of politically motivated crimes . . . a total of 52 supporters
from the parties ZANU PF and MDC were arrested.

      "This brings the number of politically motivated cases committed by
ZANU PF supporters to 32 resulting in 112 supporters being arrested and
(cases committed by) the MDC to 39 cases and 112 arrests," she said.

      According to Masango's figures, there were a total number 71 cases of
politically motivated violence and crimes by both ZANU PF and MDC this week,
up from 47 recorded the previous week. Although still relatively lower than
in previous elections, political violence is steadily increasing across the
country as the March 31 poll draws nearer. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Food shortage to worsen forex crisis
Wed 16 March 2005
  HARARE - An expected shortfall in food production this year will strain
further Zimbabwe's already precarious foreign currency situation, a local
financial institution has said.

      Discount House of Zimbabwe (DHZ) said the hard cash-strapped country
will have to scrounge for foreign currency to pay for food imports if
erratic rains this farming season result, as is widely expected, in a
significant drop in food production.

      "The poor 2004/2005 rainfall season is increasingly proving to be poor
thereby pausing a real and major threat to the food security situation and
inflation," DHZ, which is a subsidiary of Kingdom Bank, said in its February

      "The resultant inevitable food imports should put a further strain on
the already precarious foreign currency situation."

      Illustrating the tough times ahead for Zimbabwe, DHZ said at the
moment the central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) was barely able to provide
half of the required forex to firms at its hard cash auction floors.

      "Having averaged US$52.2 million during the month of December 2004 and
US$53.3 million during the month of January, the average amount of (private
firm) bids shot up to US$88.36 million during the month of February against
an average of supply by RBZ of only US$11 million," DHZ said.

      Increased demand for foreign currency to pay for inevitable food
imports will result in more upward pressure on inflation, the finance house
said. - ZimOnline

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