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Amnesty International

An assessment of human rights violations in the run-up to the March 2005 parliamentary elections

1. Introduction

For the past five years, elections in Zimbabwe have been characterized by an escalation in human rights violations.(1) These violations take place before, during and after elections. The majority of victims are members and supporters of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), including opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) and opposition candidates. The perpetrators have largely been supporters of the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and members of the security forces.

Amnesty International researchers have been monitoring the human rights environment in Zimbabwe as the country approaches the 31 March parliamentary elections. Although there are fewer reports of politically-motivated violence than has been the case in previous elections, Amnesty International is concerned that human rights are being systematically violated in the context of election campaigning. The organization is also concerned by the level of non-violent intimidation and harassment that is taking place in the country. This briefing paper is a summary of Amnesty International’s major concerns.

The human rights backdrop to the elections
Amnesty International’s human rights concerns in respect of the 31 March elections cannot be viewed in isolation from the broader human rights context in Zimbabwe. Key elements of this broader context include:
    • The past five years have been characterized by a serious deterioration in the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, with widespread and credible reports of state-sponsored intimidation, arbitrary arrest, torture and attacks on supporters of the political opposition, human rights defenders and the independent media.
    • Repressive laws that violate freedom of expression, association, assembly and information remain in place. These include the 2002 Public Order and Security Act and the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, both of which the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has recommended should be amended so as to be brought in line with international human rights law.(2) Two new laws - the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act and the - as yet unsigned - NGO Act also contain provisions which restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and information.(3)
    • Zimbabwe’s crisis over the rule of law, triggered by repeated flouting of court orders, harassment of judicial officers and politicization of the police service, remains unresolved. A culture of impunity persists as thousands of victims of human rights violations have been deprived of the protection of the law and denied access to an effective remedy.

Zimbabwe is State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). Zimbabwe has also endorsed the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, which include commitments to ensuring the full participation of citizens in the political process; freedom of association; political tolerance; equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for; and the independence of the judiciary.(4)

2. Human rights violations in the run-up to the parliamentary elections
Violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in the context of election campaigning

The rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly have been systematically violated in Zimbabwe over the past five years, both through the use of repressive legislation and the actions of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). Amnesty International believes that the clampdown on freedom of expression, association and assembly forms a key part of government strategy to silence those who are critical of the government and the human rights abuses taking place in Zimbabwe.

Amnesty International believes that the police are using the repressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and arbitrary arrests to hinder opposition campaigning activities in the run-up to the 31 March parliamentary elections. In the six week period between the end of January and beginning of March at least eight MDC candidates and the MDC’s Director of Elections were arrested or detained by police.(5) For example:
    • MDC candidate for Zengeza, Goodrich Chimbaira, was arrested on 23 January and charged under POSA for allegedly holding an illegal meeting in his home. POSA requires that police are notified of public meetings. Goodrich Chimbaira was detained overnight and released. Police indicated they would proceed by way of a summons.
    • On 16 February police raided a training session being run by the MDC for its candidates in the March elections. The MDC’s Director of Elections, Ian Makoni, was arrested and charged under POSA with holding an illegal meeting.
To the best of Amnesty International’s knowledge no ZANU-PF candidates have been arrested in the context of the March election campaign.(6)

It is not only candidates standing in the elections who have been targeted. Opposition campaign workers have also been arrested while engaging in peaceful campaign-related activities, such as checking the voters’ roll.(7) For example:
    • At the beginning of February an MDC campaigning team comprising some 13 people was arrested in Gwanda after they gave an open palm salute to the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister when his vehicle passed by. The open palm is an MDC symbol. The activists were each fined Z$25,000, allegedly for "insulting" the ZANU-PF MP.(8)
    • On 3 February police detained approximately seven MDC campaign workers who were going door-to-door checking the voters’ roll in Matebeleland South on behalf of MDC MP for Matebeleland South, David Coltart. The police, referring to POSA, allegedly told the campaign workers that the MP should have sought permission for the activity, although no such requirement exists under POSA. The group was detained for more than two hours and then released without charge. On 17 February the High Court in Bulawayo granted an order instructing the police not to prevent or interfere with David Coltart’s attempts to verify the voters' roll for his constituency. However, within days of the court order being handed down police again detained three of David Coltart’s campaign workers. They were held for several hours before being released without charge.
The ability to exercise the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly is fundamental to the establishment of a climate in which all citizens can exercise their right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, freely and without fear. Amnesty International believes that the Government of Zimbabwe is systematically violating these human rights.

Politically-motivated violence
Amnesty International has received reports of beatings and violent attacks committed in the context of the current election campaign. For example, in January ruling party supporters in Chipingi South in Manicaland, attacked and burnt the homes of MDC supporters. Several people, including children, were reportedly beaten and some fled across the border into Mozambique. Some 40 people are believed to remain in Mozambique, afraid to return to the area fearing further victimization. Amnesty International understands that police have arrested several people in connection with the attacks.

Reports of violence and intimidation in some high density suburbs are also of concern. In February 2005 Amnesty International spoke to residents of Chitungwiza, an area on the outskirts of Harare, who said that they could not move about after dark for fear of intimidation and assault by ZANU-PF supporters, youth militia(9) and soldiers. The residents – who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal – reported that violence against real or perceived MDC supporters in Chitungwiza was orchestrated by specific ruling party supporters whose activities were known to the police.

The above reports notwithstanding, there have been significantly fewer reports of politically-motivated violence in the run-up to the March elections than was the case with the elections in 2000 and 2002. Numerous human rights monitors and victims of past violence expressed the view that the current reduction in violence is part of a government strategy to ensure the elections are free from overt political violence, while using implicit threats and non-violent tactics to intimidate voters.

Amnesty International’s investigations suggest that human rights abuses may be under-reported in some areas. Victims of violence in Chitungwiza, for example, stated that they did not report all acts of violence to the police or human rights organizations because they believed no action would be taken against the perpetrators. Amnesty International believes that fear of reprisal also contributes to under-reporting. Several people to whom Amnesty International spoke in February 2005 referred to the intimidating presence of youth militia and soldiers at or near police stations in Chitungwiza.(10)

Food and elections: a pattern of abuse
The use of food as an instrument of political pressure is prohibited in international human rights law, as is discrimination on the basis of real or perceived political affiliation. Over the past two years Amnesty International and many other organizations have documented and reported on the use of food to manipulate voters in elections in Zimbabwe.

Between 2002 and 2004, as a consequence of poor harvests, Zimbabwe needed and received significant amounts of international food aid. However, in May 2004 the government claimed Zimbabwe had had a "bumper" harvest and told the UN and international donors the country no longer needed food aid. This claim has been widely discredited.(11) Many areas of Zimbabwe are now experiencing food shortages and hunger.(12) Since most international food aid stopped in mid 2004 people are now dependent on the government-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for access to maize – the staple food of many Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe’s main harvest season is April/May; March is known locally as the height of the "hungry season", when the previous harvest has run out and before a new harvest is due. In 2004 Amnesty International and other human rights groups expressed concern that a March election date could allow the government to manipulate people through fear of hunger ahead of the elections.(13) Amnesty International expressed concern that some of Zimbabwe’s most chronically food insecure areas – such as parts of Matebeleland and Manicaland – are also areas where the political opposition is most popular. People in these areas are particularly vulnerable to manipulation of food.

During February and March 2005 Amnesty International interviewed people from Matebeleland, Masvingo and Manicaland who all reported that MDC supporters had difficulty accessing GMB maize. In order to access GMB stocks in many areas individuals must be on a list which is compiled by the head of the village, and it is at this point that discrimination is reported to occur. Several human rights monitors confirmed to Amnesty International that people in some areas cannot get their names on these lists because they are known to support the MDC.

An environment of intimidation and fear
There is a pervasive climate of fear in Zimbabwe linked to the elections. Several sources in different parts of the country reported on the threatening presence of organized ZANU-PF supporters and youth militia in rural areas and high density suburbs. These groups are a source of fear because they have been responsible for numerous violations over the past five years and their actions are believed to be sanctioned by the government.(14)

In February 2005 Amnesty International spoke to residents of rural areas of Matebeleland and suburbs of Harare who described recent incidents of intimidation by ruling party supporters and youth militia, including demanding that individuals produce ZANU-PF party cards, questioning individuals about their activities and party loyalty, assaulting individuals and damaging property. Many such incidents go unreported because people do not believe the police will act to protect them.

A former MDC activist in Matabeleland South, whose home had been destroyed by ruling party supporters, told Amnesty International that intimidation and fear had caused her to "surrender" to ZANU-PF. She described how, in September 2004, she joined ZANU-PF, "to be safe". She was interrogated by ZANU-PF supporters about her past involvement with the MDC and then "baptised with water". However, she believes she is still suspected of supporting the opposition and told Amnesty International that she plans to move away from her home for the election period and not to vote "to keep safe".

A significant fear is the fear of reprisal following the elections for those who vote MDC. Following elections in 2000 and 2002 people believed to have voted for the MDC were subjected to acts of reprisal, including eviction, assault, and denial of access to food.(15)

Fear of reprisal has been exacerbated by the fact that people no longer have any faith in the secrecy of their vote. Two concerns were repeatedly raised with Amnesty International during a visit to Zimbabwe in February: the use of transparent ballot boxes and the counting of votes in-situ.
    • People have been told that the ballot boxes will be transparent and that this will mean their vote can be "seen".
    • Across Zimbabwe ruling party supporters have reportedly told people that when votes are counted in-situ the proportion of an area that voted for the MDC will be known, with the implicit threat that reprisal will follow for those areas that vote MDC.
Amnesty International believes that the threat of future persecution is credible, given widespread human rights violations that followed the 2000 and 2002 elections, and the impunity that the majority of the perpetrators of these violations have enjoyed.

Elections and the toll of impunity
The pervasive climate of fear in Zimbabwe is fuelled by a history of impunity for the perpetrators of human rights violations. The serious violations and abuses of human rights during the war of independence from 1965 to 1980, especially by the government led by Ian Smith, were covered up by the blanket amnesty that accompanied independence. Gross human rights violations committed by the Zimbabwe National Army in Matabeleland in the 1980s were subject to an amnesty in 1988. Clemency Order (1) of 1995, officially excused the politically-motivated beatings, burning of homes and intimidation perpetrated by supporters of ZANU-PF during the 1995 elections. Another presidential pardon for political violence was declared after the June 2000 parliamentary elections: those involved in human rights violations - such as kidnapping and torture, but excluding murder, rape and fraud - were placed beyond the reach of the justice system.(16)

This same culture of impunity is evident in respect of the violations that have occurred in the past five years. Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of human rights abuses in which no attempt has been made to bring the perpetrators to justice.(17) Impunity has been facilitated by politicisation of the police force and undermining the independence of the judiciary.

In February 2005 Amnesty International interviewed people whose human rights had been violated because they had supported the MDC in previous elections. In each case the victims had not been able to gain relief or redress.

In February 2002, shortly before the presidential elections, an entire village in Buhera, Manicaland, was forcibly evicted by ZANU-PF supporters because the villagers were known to support the MDC. In February 2005 Amnesty International went to Buhera to meet the villagers, who remain displaced, with families living in temporary shelters. In their new location they have almost no access to land – their original land is now being used by the ZANU-PF supporters who evicted them. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) assisted the villagers to obtain a court order in late 2002 which stated that they should be allowed to return to their village, but this court order has not been enforced. The villagers told Amnesty International that appeals to the local authorities have been fruitless. A local official reportedly told them that if they want assistance to regain their land they have to join ZANU-PF.

In October 2002 some 60 families in southern Manicaland were forcibly evicted from their village by ZANU-PF supporters, an act of reprisal because they had voted for the MDC candidate in the March 2002 presidential elections. Amnesty International spoke to several of the villagers in February 2005, and they reported that homes were burnt and people beaten during the evictions. Once again the displaced villagers obtained a court order to allow them to return home. However, local authorities have refused to enforce the court order and those evicted have never been able to return to their village. No-one has ever been charged in connection with the assaults or the illegal evictions.

Amnesty International is aware of several other cases similar to those described above. The fact that those victimised because of their support for the MDC in previous elections have not been able to access justice or gain relief sends a clear message: those who support the political opposition can be subjected to human rights violations with impunity and no possibility of redress.
Amnesty International is concerned that this longstanding climate of impunity is facilitating the repetition of similar human rights abuses in the run-up to the March 2005 elections.

3. Conclusion and recommendations

Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights states: "Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of his country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provisions of the law." In its resolution on the Electoral Process and Participatory Governance, adopted at its 19th Ordinary Session, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 1996 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has further emphasized that it is the duty of States Parties to the African Charter to take the necessary measures to preserve and protect the credibility of the electoral process. In order for citizens to participate freely in elections, the authorities are responsible for ensuring that all the rights that are pivotal to such participation can be enjoyed by all without discrimination.

As a consequence of persistent, long-term and systematic violations of human rights and the government’s repeated and deliberate failure to bring to justice those who commit serious human rights violations, Amnesty International does not believe that all Zimbabweans are currently able to participate in the election process freely and without fear.

Amnesty International is making the following recommendations to governments and inter-governmental bodies sending election monitors to Zimbabwe.

Recommendations to governments and inter-governmental bodies sending election monitors to Zimbabwe
    • Ensure that all election monitors have a clear mandate to monitor and report on those areas of human rights that directly impact on the ability of people to participate in the election process freely and without fear.
      All election monitor delegations should, if possible, include people trained or experienced in monitoring human rights. Elections monitors should pay particular attention to the following areas:
      • The impact of impunity for past human rights violations perpetrated against members and supporters of the MDC.
      • Discrimination in access to and distribution of food, particularly in those areas - such as in the south and east of the country - which experience chronic food deficits.
      • The extent to which all people in Zimbabwe have been able to exercise their rights to freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression throughout the election period.
      • The security of all parties, candidates and supporters before, during and after the elections.
    • Ensure that election monitors are prepared to raise issues of human rights violations or police inaction with the authorities and to publicly condemn human rights violations before, during and after the elections.
    • Ensure that monitors remain in the country for as long as necessary after the elections to help ensure that the aftermath is free from acts of reprisal and to report publicly on any that may occur.
    • Request that election monitors have access to all sectors of the population since violations often occur far away from polling stations.
Recommendation to SADC election monitors:
    • In addition to the recommendations made above Amnesty International urges all election monitors from the SADC region to adhere to the letter and the spirit of human rights commitments contained in the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

(1) See Amnesty International documents since 2000:

(2) African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 17th Annual Activity Report, Annex II, Executive summary of the report of the fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe 24th to 28th June 2002

(3) For a human rights critique of the proposed NGO Act see, amongst others: Amnesty International, "NGO Act is a gross violation of human rights", 10 December 2004, AI Index: AFR 46/039/2004; International Bar Association, "Analysis of the Zimbabwe Non-governmental Organizations Bill, 2004", 24 August 2004; Human Rights Watch, "Proposed law on NGOs would violate basic rights", 4 September 2004; Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, "Zim NGO Bill: Dangerous for human rights defenders", July 2004; Parliament of Zimbabwe, "Parliamentary Legal Committee adverse report on the NGO Bill [H.B. 13, 2004]", 9 November 2004. For a human rights critique of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act, see: Human Rights Watch, "Zimbabwe: Electoral Bill fails to meet benchmarks", 25 November 2004.

(4) Southern African Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, 2004.

(5) MDC candidates and MPs reportedly arrested or detained from 23 January to 6 March are: MDC MP for Makokoba, Thokozani Khupe, was arrested on 23 January, held overnight, and charged under POSA with holding an illegal meeting; MDC candidate for Zengeza, Goodrich Chimbaira, was arrested 23 January under POSA on allegations of holding an illegal meeting; MDC MP for Kuwadzana, Nelson Chamisa, was arrested on 25 January on allegations of inciting public violence; MDC candidate for Shamva, Godfrey Chimombe, was arrested on 22 February while putting up posters; MDC candidate for Bindura, Joel Mugariri, was arrested on 24 February allegedly for putting up campaign posters without permission; MDC candidate for Zvimba North, Prince Chibanda, was detained on 3 March and held overnight but not charged; MDC candidate for Mount Darwin South, Henry Chimbiri, was detained by police on 4 March, charged under Miscellaneous Offences Act and released on payment of a fine; MDC candidate for Mudzi West, Shorai Tsungu, was reportedly detained by police on 5 March in connection with allegations that he was responsible for graffiti in 2002. All of these MDC candidates were released - on bail or after paying fines or without charge. Source: MDC.

(6) On 9 March 2005 ZANU-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity Mr. Nathan Shamuyarira, speaking to Amnesty International by telephone, said that he was not aware of any ZANU-PF candidates arrested in the context of the current election campaign.

(7) Interviews with MDC candidates and activists and human rights defenders, February and March 2005.

(8) Interview with Maxwell Zimuto, Information Officer, MDC, March 2005. The activists paid admission of guilt fines under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

(9) Since 2001 young people trained under the National Youth Service have been used by ZANU-PF as party militias. For further information see: Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: The toll of impunity", June 2002, AI Index: AFR 46/034/2002

(10) Graduates of the National Youth Service are given preference for recruitment in the police. However, Amnesty International has also received reports of known youth militia members wearing police uniforms, in circumstances where it is unclear if they are officially recruited into the police service or simply being given uniforms.

(11) See: Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Food Programme Special Report, 5 July 2004; ZIM VAC "Rural food security and vulnerability assessment", April 2004; Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET), "Rural Food Supplies dwindle", 15 September 2004; See also: WFP Emergency Reports since August 2004 and Parliament of Zimbabwe, "Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water Development Rural Resources and Resettlement report on food stocks", presented to parliament on 10 November 2004.

(12) In January 2005 FEWSNET issued an emergency alert for Zimbabwe. This is defined as "a significant food security crisis is occurring, where portions of the population are now, or will soon become, extremely food insecure and face imminent famine. Decision makers should give the highest priority to responding to the situations highlighted by this Emergency alert."

(13) Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: Power and hunger – violations of the right to food", October 2004, AI Index: AFR 46/026/2004

(14) In some cases ZANU-PF supporters have been arrested, charged and brought to justice; however the majority of ruling party supporters who have committed human rights abuses have not been brought to justice. See: Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: The toll of impunity", June 2002, AI Index: AFR 46/034/2002

(15) Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: The toll of impunity", June 2002, AI Index: AFR 46/034/2002

(16) Ibid.

(17) For further information see:



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Zimbabwe Opposition Challenges Electoral Laws in Court

      By  Peta Thornycroft
      16 March 2005

Zimbabwe's opposition went to to the High Court this week accusing President
Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of violating election laws before the March 31
poll.  The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says its court application
goes to the heart of what it says are the worst electoral laws ever.

The MDC launched an urgent application in the Harare High Court on Monday
citing abuse of electoral laws rammed through parliament by the ruling Zanu
PF party in December.

The application says electoral reforms including the establishment of the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which Mr. Mugabe claims is independent, are a

It has called for all illegal structures created by the Zimbabwe Election
Commission be declared null and void.

Adrian de Bourbon is representing the MDC in a series of legal challenges.
He spoke to VOA before the court papers were lodged at the High Court and
says the electoral logistics are more unfair than the last parliamentary
election in 2000 and the disputed presidential poll two years later.

"It is going to be worse than 2000 and 2002," he said.  "At that stage there
were more local and independent press and a vast array of observers which
were not sufficient to prevent electoral fraud, and all the more so this
time, with few observers they can do what they like."

The MDC application calls for the disbandment of what it says is an illegal
authority, the National Logistics Committee, which will run elections and
whose members include police commissioner Augustine Chihuri who openly
supports ZANU-PF and self-confessed ruling-party supporter Registrar-General
Tobaiwa Mudede.  He was accused of massive electoral malpractice by
international observers in the 2002 presidential poll.

Mr. de Bourbon says electoral procedure at polling stations is heavily
weighted in favor of ZANU-PF.  He says there is no independent authority for
voters to immediately complain to if they find fraud or intimidation.

"We know from the courts from 2000 they have at least six months for
evidence for this to come out which is unrealistic," he added.  "So for six
months they can run parliament and even if the election is later found to be
invalid they can say, 'Well we got caught with our fingers in cookie jar,
but it is too late.'  The biggest problem is that we do not have an
independent elections system.  It is still so weighted so heavily in favor
of the government."

Mr. de Bourbon lodged another High Court application Tuesday in which he is
suing President Mugabe, Zimbabwe's three electoral authorities and the
Minister of Justice, accusing them of failing to comply with all but one
regional electoral principle Zimbabwe agreed to last August at a summit of
the Southern African Development Community.

The Zimbabwe government has not responded to the two legal challenges lodged
with the High Court.
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Cosatu protests outside Zimbabwean High Commission

March 16, 2005, 17:15

About 50 members of the Congress for South African Trade Union (Cosatu) and
Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad have held a picket demonstration outside the
Zimbabwean High Commission in Pretoria. The group was protesting against
alleged human rights abuses and a flawed electoral process in Zimbabwe.

The Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad joined the protest in order to backup
Cosatu's call for changes in Zimbabwe. They say they cannot sit back while
the union federation fights on their behalf. The group says the electoral
process in Zimbabwe is in shambles, and that they have no faith in the
election observer teams heading to the country

"We have absolutely no confidence, because they are still not yet in the
country and they still believe that there will be free and fair elections.
These sentiment is even echoed by the President of South Africa so we have
lost confidence in everybody," said J J Sibanda of the Concerned Zimbabweans

Cosatu and the Zimbabweans say they will travel to the Beitbridge border
post on Friday to stage another protest there.

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Mugabe asks court to block prisoners' release
          March 16 2005 at 03:25PM

      Harare - Zimbabwe's government on Wednesday urged the supreme court to
overturn a decision by a lower court for the early release of 62 suspected
mercenaries jailed over a coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, their
lawyer said.

      "The appeal has been heard this morning in the supreme court and
judgment will be handed down by Monday," the mercenaries' lawyer Alwyn
Griebenow told reporters.

      The Harare High Court two weeks ago slashed the alleged coup plotters'
12-month sentences, which they are serving at a top security jail outside
the capital.

      Lawyers said the men were to be released after the high court ruling
but the state then objected, saying foreigners were not entitled to
suspended sentences.

      "You can't suspend a portion of a sentence imposed on a foreigner
because it serves no purpose, you are not able to monitor that they will
comply with the order of good behaviour," said director of prosecutions
Joseph Musakwa.

      Convicted persons are eligible to a remission of a third of their
sentences in Zimbabwe on condition they do not commit a similar offence
within a specified period.

      The group had been preparing to leave Chikurubi prison - where they
have been held following their arrest in March last year - for deportation
to Pretoria.

      The 62 are part of a group of 70 men arrested on March 7 last year at
Harare International airport when their plane stopped over to collect
weapons which they maintain were to be used in guarding mines in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.

      But Zimbabwean and South African authorities believed the men were on
their way to Equatorial Guinea to stage a coup to topple long-time leader
Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

      Their leader Briton Simon Mann is serving a four-year sentence after
his seven-year jail term was later reduced, while two pilots who flew the
plane to Harare to collect arms got 16 months on various convictions for
violation of immigration and firearm laws.

      British businessman Mark Thatcher, who was accused of partly financing
the alleged plot, was recently convicted by a South African court for
violating its anti-mercenary laws and paid a R3-million fine.

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From BBC News, 15 March

Harare election blog II: Food fears

In the run-up to Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections on 31 March, 22-year-old
receptionist Lucy Gomo (not her real name) is keeping a diary about life in

Tuesday 15 March: A huge rain storm on Saturday has brought some relief to
us in the Harare heat. But water has been a source of complaint, as most
homes in the low-density areas of the capital were without water for three
days last week. My cousin, who lives in these northern suburbs, says it's
quite common for the water to be cut off there. Meanwhile, rumours about
maize meal, sugar and cooking oil shortages are making people jittery,
especially those with large families. The police have been checking garages
to make sure petrol - which costs about $3,600 Zimbabwean dollars (70 US
cents) a litre - is not being hoarded. I've not seen any evidence of fuel
shortages so far: there are long queues each morning as I wait to catch my
buses to work - but this has always been the case. There never seems to be
enough transport. Yesterday I was shocked to see three guys walking outside
my office wearing opposition white, red and black T-shirts showing an open
palm - the symbol for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). They didn't
seem worried about wearing them at all, but it's unusual to see people
casually supporting the opposition unless they're gathered in numbers at a
political meeting. On the other hand, ruling party supporters - usually
young men - go about their business around town wearing white T-shirts with
black Zanu-PF slogans slashed across them. I usually see them when I pop
into the town centre as I did over the weekend to check my emails at an
internet café where I have an account. It costs Z$250 (5 US cents) a minute
to log on - and the café was packed, with most of the 50 computers being
used. I've heard there are political meetings for both Zanu-PF and MDC going
on and the state-run Herald newspaper says there have been plenty of Zanu-PF
rallies outside Harare - some taking place in schools - where large
donations are given. A friend of mine phoned to say she'd tracked down a
cleaning product similar to the one I usually use - which I had been
fruitlessly searching for - in a shopping centre near where she works. So
instead of going to church this Sunday, I spent the day washing, ironing...
and cleaning the stove.
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From SW Radio Africa, 16 March

Working girls called in

Zanu PF officials in Nyanga in the eastern border highlands have embarked on
a 'dirty' campaign that is likely to backfire in a desperate bid to lure
voters. Having realized their inability to raise enough youth militia to run
their campaign machinery, the ruling party has allegedly joined hands with a
network of prostitutes operating in the town to spearhead its election
campaign. MDC parliamentary candidate for Nyanga Douglas Mwonzora said
prostitutes from the slum Gonakudzingwa area were being paid $50 000 per day
to disrupt MDC meetings or rallies. So far the MDC has had 17 rallies in
Nyanga. Lately all their rallies have been disrupted by rowdy groups of
prostitutes who invade them and start making noise by singing and at the
same time distributing Zanu PF fliers. This has forced the MDC to abandon or
call off its meetings or rallies. Mwonzora admitted this was a strategy that
caught them off-guard adding that political violence has flared up in his
constituency following a spate of beatings perpetrated by soldiers based at
Tsanga lodge rehabilitation camp.
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From SW Radio Africa, 16 March


SW Radio Africa is still being jammed on it's shortwave frequencies. As we
try to overcome this problem, current information on where to find us on
shortwave is carried on our website . But don't forget
we've just started broadcasting on 1197 kHz medium-wave in the mornings -
and this signal is not being jammed. This signal is clearly received in the
south of Zimbabwe and work is in process to enhance the signal further
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Daily News online edition

      Rusape residents forced to attend rally

      Date: 16-Mar, 2005

      RUSAPE - Business came to a standstill here on Monday as Zanu PF
militants force-marched residents and workers to attend a political campaign
rally addressed by Vice-President Joyce Mujuru at Makoni Country Club.

      Residents and other employees who called the Daily News Online
yesterday narrated how the ruling party supporters and war veterans moved
around the residential areas of Vengere and Mabvazuva, ordering people to
stop whatever they were doing and go and attend Mujuru's rally.

      An Asian businessman who runs supermarkets in the town told the Daily
News Online that all his workers and himself were forced to close shop for
nearly three hours, in order to attend the Vice-President's rally.

      "There was no option," the businessman said. "The war veterans and the
Zanu PF militants came in here wearing their party regalia and just ordered
my workers to go to the rally. They then came into my office and advised me
and my wife to close shop and join the majority of residents at Makoni
Country Club."

      An employee with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement, who refused to be named, said the previous week they had
received several visits from war veterans and officials from the District
Administrator's office urging people to be present when the Vice-President

      "There was no way one was going to be absent on Monday," the official
said. "It appeared the ruling party officials and war veterans had a list of
all government workers. We could have been at the rally but really people
know what they want so it does not help much. The most important thing for
us is our safety."

      A resident, who preferred to be identified only as Chikanda, said they
abandoned their vegetable vending business at Vengere terminus after the
ruling party militants invaded the premises and ordered almost everyone to
attend the rally.

      "There was nothing we could do to stop them," he said. "The important
thing is that we were not beaten up. We just obeyed their orders and
attended the rally."

      Cosmas Chiringa, the District Administrator for Makoni, was
unavailable for comment.

      Addressing the gathering, Mujuru warned civil servants against working
with the opposition to undermine government programmes.

      She said: "There are some civil servants who are working with the
opposition to undermine government programmes. It is surprising to see your
employee working against your interests as an employer. This is unacceptable
and every civil servant is expected to serve his master."

      All Zanu PF candidates for the three Makoni constituencies attended
the rally. These are Didymus Mutasa (Makoni North), Shadreck Chipanga
(Makoni East) and Joseph Made (Makoni West).
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Daily News online edition

      Washington to recognise any winner of poll

      Date: 16-Mar, 2005

      HARARE - The United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell,
says the Washington administration would recognise any winner of the March
31 poll, if the elections are held freely and fairly.

      Speaking during a Studio 7 programme, Sunday Newsmaker, broadcast by
the Voice of America (VOA) at the weekend, Dell expressed concern that the
elections in Zimbabwe were being held on an unlevel playing field. He said
the Zimbabwe government controlled all of the institutions involved in the
elections and set the rules and terms to adhere to.

      Commenting on the decrease in political violence prior to the coming
election, as compared to the 2000 and 2002 elections, Dell said: "I believe
that the government and President Mugabe's political party very much
understand that they are under intense international scrutiny about the
conduct of these elections. There has been a marked decrease in violence
over the previous two elections, that the opposition forces are being given
more space in which to campaign, therefore they are having a significant
ability to get out there to campaign, to reach the people of Zimbabwe."

      Studio 7, VOA's radio programme aimed at a Zimbabwean audience, is
broadcast in the English, Shona and Ndebele languages, from transmitters in
Botswana. It airs seven days a week at 7:00-8:00 p.m. locally.

      VOA recently launched Studio 7 in the Morning, a half-hour week-day
programme broadcast locally at 5:30 a.m. It is designed to provide listeners
with in-depth information on their nation's March 31 parliamentary

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Daily News online edition

      Location of polling stations still a mystery

      Date: 16-Mar, 2005

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of
civic groups advocating for free and fair elections, has castigated the
government over the continued delay by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) and other electoral bodies in announcing the location of polling
stations to be used in the March 31 parliamentary elections.

      Addressing journalists at an electoral briefing at a Harare hotel
yesterday, Reginald Matchaba-Hove, the ZESN chairman, said they were worried
that ZEC remained mum over the location of polling stations, a fortnight
before election day.

      "As we approach the March 31 parliamentary election, we as ZESN are
concerned that the administrative mechanisms to deal with electoral matters
have not been put in place," Matchaba-Hove said.

      "We are going to have elections in one day. We are more concerned that
we do not know as yet where the polling stations would be located. Under the
Electoral Act, the ZEC has to announce the locations of polling stations
within 14 days before the election."

      The ZESN chairman said despite some positive developments within the
electoral framework, they were worried at the role of the military in the
whole electoral set-up.

      He said government has said the military would beef up security but
they remained unsure how the army would react to the outcome of the election
in the event of an opposition victory.

      Matchaba-Hove said the government's refusal to invite independent
electoral observers from electoral bodies within the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) was bound to compromise the independence of the
reports of mainly government bodies invited to observe the election.

      ZESN expects the government to accredit about 6 500 of their observers
before the polling day. However, the organisation said they were still
unsure whether or not everyone would be accredited because the Ministry of
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was yet to respond to their

      In the 2002 presidential election, the justice ministry accredited
only 400 ZESN observers out of the 12 000 observers which the organisation
had trained to observe the poll.

      Addressing the same gathering, Otto Saki, a lawyer with the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the government of Zimbabwe had yielded
to regional pressure after successful lobbying by Zimbabwe's civic society
organisations and opposition political parties to introduce electoral

      Meanwhile, Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs yesterday told State-controled media that the
government had invited 8 548 observers from 29 Zimbabwe's civic society
organisations to observe the March 31 parliamentary election.

      Chinamasa said they had only invited patriotic organisations that
excluded the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which he accused of
collaborating with the British government and other western organisations to
ostracise Zimbabwe and effect regime change.

      Commenting on the political environment prior to the election and the
level of political violence, ZESN said the organisation had in partnership
with other human rights organisations started compiling independent
statistics of incidents of political violence.

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Zimbabwe's State Media Give With One Hand, Take Away With Another
Sekai Ngara

HARARE, Mar 16 (IPS) - On the face of it, the new broadcasting regulations
issued last month in Zimbabwe were groundbreaking. For the first time in the
history of Zimbabwean elections, the opposition would be allocated time on
state-owned radio and television in the run-up to a parliamentary poll,
scheduled for Mar. 31.

Some welcomed this as a step towards leveling the country's uneven electoral
playing field: the previous parliamentary poll, in 2000, and presidential
elections in 2002 were marred by widespread violence, most of it directed
against the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Zimbabwe's four radio stations and single television station, which have a
monopoly on broadcasting, also served up a diet of propaganda for the ruling
ZANU-PF party during the two campaigns - and vilified the opposition.

These stations are now obliged to accept campaign advertisements from
opposition parties and candidates. The law also requires broadcasters to
allocate equal time to all parties in which they can discuss their

However, critics of the broadcasting amendments claim they are simply
cosmetic - an attempt to give the poll a veneer of legitimacy. To begin
with, says the MDC, the advertising rates - prescribed by law - have made
radio and television adverts unaffordable.

"The rates are too high, and the broadcasters demand payment up front from
us," notes party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi. For its part, the ruling
party has flooded radio and television stations with adverts.

Rindai Chipfunda of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a coalition of
non-governmental organisations (NGOs), complains that when opposition
representatives are given the chance of presenting their party's views about
electoral issues on air, they are sometimes hectored by journalists who for
years have acted as ruling party publicists.

The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, an NGO based in the capital, Harare,
also points out that that sustained bias against the opposition in other
news programmes and bulletins belies any claim that the state broadcaster is
becoming truly neutral in its treatment of the campaign.

In addition, overall coverage remains weighted in ZANU-PF's favour.

"The news is still biased in favour of the ruling party. That's where they
publicize ruling party campaign activities - and yet they claim they are not
obliged to cover the activities of the opposition," says Nhlanhla Ngwenya, a
spokesman for the monitoring project, which surveys the output of radio and
television stations and the print media in an effort to improve reporting
standards in Zimbabwe.

As an example of how state media undermine the opposition, Ngwenya cites the
coverage given to the launch of ZANU-PF's election campaign and manifesto
last month. The four-hour proceedings were carried live on television, with
presenters wearing ZANU-PF T-shirts. The campaign launch of the MDC rated no
more than a two-minute news item.

In the 2000 and 2002 elections, the opposition was given a voice by certain
newspapers, notably Zimbabwe's sole privately-owned daily, the 'Daily News'.
(The state-controlled 'Herald' daily covers opposition activities in much
the same way as radio and television stations do.)

The past few years, however, have seen government enact repressive
legislation that made it increasingly difficult for independent
journalists - already the victims of harassment by government and its
supporters - to operate.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, passed in March
2002, obliges journalists and media houses to obtain accreditation from a
state-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC), or face imprisonment
of up to two years. To date, four publications have been banned by the MIC -
including the 'Daily News'.

The last remaining foreign correspondent in Zimbabwe, Andrew Meldrum of
Britain's 'Guardian' newspaper, was expelled from the country in 2003.

In addition, the small pool of local writers who work for foreign media was
depleted still further last month, when Angus Shaw of the Associated Press,
Jan Raath - a freelancer for the Times of London - and Bloomberg News
correspondent Brian Latham fled the country.

The three journalists had feared for their safety after being questioned by
police over allegations of spying, the status of their MIC accreditation -
and the transmission of information considered prejudicial to Zimbabwe.

Even if the print media in Zimbabwe were allowed to operate unhindered,
Chipfunda has doubts about whether they could balance the scales of election
coverage in Zimbabwe. "Urban voters make up only 30 percent of the
electorate and the rural populace relies on the radio for information. So,
they should benefit from the radio programmes," she says.

Themba Nyathi believes that efforts to make the campaign coverage on state
media appear more representative stem from government's desire to persuade
the international community that it is complying with electoral guidelines
set up by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) last year.

Amongst other things, the guidelines stipulate the need for "Equal
opportunity for all political parties to access the state media".

But Harare resident John Sibindi questions whether this brief amount of
access could really help opposition groups combat years of disparagement by

"People have been bombarded with lies for so long that for some a few
adverts over a few weeks won't really change their perception of the parties
as enemies of the people of Zimbabwe," he says. (END/2005)
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Prensa, Cuba

Cuban Physicians to Step up Collaboration in Zimbabwe

Harare, Mar 16 (Prensa Latina) A new group of Cuban physicians that will
work in Zimbabwe for a two-year period are stepping up the current
collaboration existing in that field with this African country since 1987.

The group of 50 health professionals, including specialists in integral
general medicine, radiologists, nephrologists, surgeons and graduates on
Pharmacy, are assisting people in several hospitals in Zimbabwe´s farthest
zones, where there is a limited lack of medical staff.

This is the fifth Cuban brigade of physicians created as of the Integral
Health Program that is responding a request of the Zimbabwean country.
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Aid Without Conditions: What Would Africa Do?

The Daily News (Harare)

March 16, 2005
Posted to the web March 16, 2005

MANY African leaders feel justifiably insulted when rich nations offer to
give them aid, but insist on the countries meeting certain stringent
conditions. One condition is an end to corruption. African leaders retort
that there is corruption even in the richest countries. Corruption is not
peculiar to Africa, they argue.

But the rich nations could react by pointing out the simple fact that it is
the Africans who need aid, not the rich nations. African leaders also
believe that the rich countries ought to open up their markets to African
products, particularly agricultural produce. In pursuit of this goal, the
Africans also demand that the rich nations stop subsidising their farmers'

These are impediments which can be overcome, if there is goodwill on both
sides. Also, if there is not too much idea of "them" and "us", there could
be a chance for the programme to succeed.

The African ire over the corruption issue, while it is understandable, poses
a real problem. What, for instance, would an ordinary African country, ruled
by an average leader, do with aid provided without preconditions?

For some Africans, this would be extremely dangerous. The record itself is
alarming. African leaders who have acted with discipline with their
countries' finances are woefully few. In fact, the concern of the leaders of
the rich nations arises from the record of corruption among African leaders.
Most have linked this to the poverty which plagues the continent and makes
it poorest in the world.

A number of countries began their independence with robust economies.
Zimbabwe is a fine example. There are differing opinions on what happened to
turn Zimbabwe, for instance, from one of the most economically stable
countries to a beggar-nation.

To some extent, world trading patterns can determine the economy of a small
country with limited natural resources. Without products from which to earn
foreign currency, such a country has no option but seek foreign aid, thus
perhaps mortgaging its entire future to another country.

But the impact of corruption can be all-consuming. If the leader has to be
lenient with his corrupt colleagues because without their support he might
lose power, there can be a ripple effect - other politicians will jump on
the bandwagon for the same reason. The entire ruling elite could then be
corrupt, forming a sort of ruling mafia.

Some leaders will protest at this generalisation, but the poverty on the
continent is real enough. The leaders might deny responsibility, but most of
their people would not accept their denials.
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State Sets Up Committee to Probe NGOs

The Herald (Harare)

March 16, 2005
Posted to the web March 16, 2005


GOVERNMENT has appointed an eight-member committee to investigate 13
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have failed to account for more
than US$88 million mobilised through the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP).

Seventeen other NGOs successfully met the March 11 Government deadline by
which they were supposed to have accounted for the funds.

The money was mobilised after the Government made a consolidated appeal to
the international community for humanitarian assistance in 2003.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Cde Paul Mangwana
yesterday said he had since appointed a committee of eight officers to
investigate the remaining 13 NGOs.

"I have appointed the committee according to Section 8 of the Private
Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act and members of the committee have already
been given their terms of references," the minister said.

He said the committee - which includes personnel from the Criminal
Investigation Department's Serious Frauds Squad - was scheduled to start
work yesterday and would produce a preliminary report within the next two

A full report was expected within a month.

"Those NGOs found to be on the wrong side of the law after the release of
the final report would be handed over for prosecution.

"However, if criminal cases are unearthed during the course of the
investigation, we will not wait to hand over the perpetrators to the police
for prosecution. If the committee comes across any unregistered NGOs, then
they will also be prosecuted," he said.

Cde Mangwana said the committee would seek to establish whether the foreign
currency received by the NGOs was handled within the confines of the
country's foreign currency exchange regulations.

The committee, said Cde Mangwana, was also mandated to look at the ratio
between operational and administrative expenses to assess whether the money
received was used or managed to achieve intended objectives.

The Government early this month wrote to the NGOs giving them March 11 as
the deadline by which they should have accounted for the money or face
appropriate action under the PVO Act.

Under the Act, the minister can either suspend, institute an investigation
into the operations of an NGO or prosecute the offending organisation or its
directors for abusing public funds.

The US$88,7 million was mobilised through the NGOs after international
donors had put in a condition that the money should not be handled by the

Despite that stipulation, the money was deemed public funds because it was
raised on behalf of the Government and people of Zimbabwe.

However, last week the minister said the Government's investigation was not
restricted to the 30 named NGOs only, but would be extended to all NGOs.

The minister said this after a lengthy meeting with the acting UNDP resident
representative, Mr Benard Mokam.

He also revealed that his ministry had already asked other line ministries
to submit lists of NGOs that they were working with.

In addition, he said, they also wanted all NGOs to submit annual financial
and technical reports that reflect the money that they receive each year and
the activities that they undertake during each particular year.

"NGOs have a duty to account for their activities to Government as clearly
spelt out in the Private Voluntary Organisations Act and as is the case with
internationally-accepted principles.

"This is what we are simply asking them to do. We are not fighting them. We
simply want to promote a culture of transparency and accountability," the
minister said.

Cde Mangwana also indicated that his ministry had consulted widely with both
the donor community and the UNDP and both were in total agreement with the
Government's position.

Mr Mokam said it was important to note that the Government's position was
not peculiar to Zimbabwe, but was a worldwide practice.
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New Zimbabwe

South African farmer tore Zim bank notes

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 03/16/2005 20:18:14
A SOUTH African farmer who tore Zim$10 300 in frustration at the lack of
value of Zimbabwean money has escaped jail.

Poulson Ian Douglas, 72, of Nooitgedacht Traut Farm had visited Zimbabwe in
March last year and was asked to pay a toll fee at the border post on his
way back.

He paid in South African rands but to his dismay, he was given change in
Zimbabwean dollars.

He told Zimbabwean officials that he wanted his change in the same currency
that he had used to pay, but was advised that was not possible. He then
proceeded to tear the bank notes totalling $10 300.

Appearing before a magistrate in the border town of Beitbridge this week,
Douglas pleaded guilty to contravening a section of the Reserve Bank Act and
escaped with a caution.

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Chimanimani Poll Suspended

The Herald (Harare)

March 16, 2005
Posted to the web March 16, 2005


THE newly-established Electoral Court yesterday nullified results of the
nomination court for Chimanimani and ordered the nomination of candidates
for the constituency to be redone.

This followed an appeal by jailed Chimanimani Member of Parliament Roy
Bennett, who was contesting the decision by the court to reject his papers.

According to the ruling by Electoral Court judge, Justice Tendai Uchena, the
constituency registrar for Chimanimani should convene another nomination
court to consider papers of candidates interested in contesting in the
constituency on April 4, while polling would take place on April 30.

In his judgment, Justice Uchena noted that Bennett was convicted and
sentenced by Parliament and the nomination court had no jurisdiction to
reject his nomination papers.

Bennett's lawyer, Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa of Kantor and Immerman, confirmed the
ruling and said the judge had determined that there was nothing wrong with
her client's nomination papers.

She said the judge had also ruled that her client's papers were in order and
complied with Schedule Three of the Constitution, which deals with
requirements for one to be eligible to stand in a parliamentary election.

Bennett lodged his appeal with the Electoral Court early this month after
last month's rejection of his papers by the nomination court.

In his application, Bennett had listed Ms Joyce Munamati, who is the
constituency election officer, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC),
Zanu-PF candidate for the constituency Dr Samuel Undenge and his wife,
Heather Bennett, as respondents.

The jailed legislator argued that his disqualification was improper
according to the laid-down election rules. Bennett was jailed for an
effective one year for contempt of Parliament after he assaulted the Leader
of the House and Justice Minister, Cde Patrick Chinamasa.

In his response, Mr George Chikumbirike of Chikumbirike and Associates, who
appeared for the constituency election officer and the ZEC, had opposed the

Mr Chikumbirike argued that the relief sought by Bennett was incompetent,
saying it was premised on a misunderstanding of the relevant provisions of
the law governing the conduct of elections.

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From The Cape Times (SA), 16 March

SA mission flies into controversy

Zimbabwe poll observer chaos

By Angela Quintal & Basildon Peta

South Africa's election observers have gone straight into a hornet's nest in
Zimbabwe: the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has refused to
meet them and observers from South Africa's opposition parties have
threatened to fly home. The head of the South African government observer
mission, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, provoked an angry reaction
from the MDC by announcing on arrival that everything was set for a free and
fair election. The MDC accused him of "trying to sanitise the illegitimate
regime of Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF". And the Zimbabwean government was last
night refusing to accredit the South African parliamentary observer team as
a separate entity. The ANC MPs proposed that the team be absorbed into the
official South African government team, but opposition MPs said this would
compromise their independence and said they would go home. Last night they
were meeting to try to resolve the problem.

The opposition MPs appeared to be especially eager not to be associated with
the South African government team after Mdladlana's controversial remarks
following a meeting with President Robert Mugabe on Monday night. These
remarks prompted the MDC to cancel a meeting with Mdladlana, 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. MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said earlier that Mdladlana's
remarks had shown "an appalling lack of objectivity. 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. The South Africans have let us down. History will judge them very
harshly indeed," he added.

Meanwhile, MPs from the opposition ACDP, ID, DA, FF, UDM, UCDP, DA and IFP
were deliberating whether to return to South Africa last night. This was
because the Zimbabwean government said it had not invited a South African
parliamentary observer team, only the ANC under James Motlatsi, the Southern
Africa Development Community observer mission now headed by South African
Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and a South
African government delegation headed by Mdladlana. "Minority party members
in the team are of the view that they can under no circumstances be regarded
as forming part of a 'government' delegation," the Freedom Front's Willie
Spies said in a statement. "We are here with a mandate from and at the
expense of parliament. We will remain faithful to that mandate." Other MPs
said absorbing the MPs into the South African government delegation would
violate the principle of separation between the executive and the
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SA observers to stick it out in Zimbabwe
          March 16 2005 at 12:17PM

      By Angela Quintal

      Harare - South African opposition members of parliament will stick it
out for a few more days in Zimbabwe, after a row over their status as
election observers was resolved in Harare through nimble diplomatic

      The 20-member parliamentary delegation flew into Harare - and a good
deal of trouble - on Monday, with the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change refusing to meet them. The ANC MPs on the team also clashed with a
representative of the Zimbabwean Crisis Committee.

      At issue was the ZCC representative's criticism of President Thabo
Mbeki and his views on the Zimbabwe poll.

      Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, who heads the official South
African government delegation, provoked an angry MDC reaction by announcing
on arrival that everything was set for a free and fair election.

      The MDC accused him of "trying to sanitise the illegitimate regime of
Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF" and refused to meet the South Africans.

       The MP observer team, which was told on its arrival on Monday that it
would not be recognised and would be absorbed in the official South African
government delegation, was finally accredited as a separate team yesterday.

      But it involved diplomatic footwork and negotiation.

      Some of the opposition MPs appeared to be especially eager not to be
associated with the government team as a result of Mdladlana's remarks after
meeting President Robert Mugabe on Monday night.

      These remarks had prompted the MDC to cancel a meeting with him, said
MDC shadow foreign minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

      MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said Mdladlana's remarks had
shown "an appalling lack of objectivity".

      "The SA 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.

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

      MPs from the DA, IFP, African Christian Democratic Party, Independent
Democrats, Freedom Front, United Democratic Movement and United Christian
Democratic Party met Mdladlana and ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe late last

      An opposition MP said it had been made clear that Goniwe - who heads
the parliamentary delegation - would report daily to the institution's
presiding officers. MPs were also reassured that the R2.5 million from
parliament for their mission would not be used by other SA delegations.

      After threatening to fly home, opposition MPs said they were prepared
to stick it out for a few more days, but would reconsider if necessary.

      MPs joined the official government delegation for two briefing
sessions yesterday.

.. This article was originally published on page 5 of Cape Argus
on March 16, 2005

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Murray Field settlers win case

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-16

THE High Court has upheld the provisional order it granted to settlers
challenging their eviction from Murray Field Farm in Macheke where they
settled at the height of farm occupations in 2000.
The Minister of Special Affairs in the Office of the President responsible
for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, John Nkomo, Minister of Home
Affairs Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri - who are the
respondents - had sought to evict the settlers from the farm.
High Court Judge Ben Hlatshwayo last month passed an order upholding a
provisional order that was granted by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu on January 7
this year staying the evictions.
Read the order dated February 16 this year: "Whereupon after reading
documents filed of record and hearing counsel it is ordered that -The
provisional order granted on  January 7 2005 be and is hereby confirmed. The
respondents shall jointly, severally and in solidium pay the costs of the
The provisional order that was granted in January stated that the applicants
be allowed to continue residing at Murray Field Farm until they were
lawfully evicted or resettled.
It was also ordered that the respondents or anyone acting through them be
interdicted from evicting the applicants or destroying their dwellings or
interfering with their occupation or stay at the farm.
The farmers filed an urgent application in the High Court challenging
eviction from Murray Field Farm on December 31 last year through their
lawyer Alec Muchadehama of Mbizo, Muchadehama and Makoni (case number
In his founding affidavit, the chairman of the residents' association at
Murray Field Farm, Fanuel Mhlanga, claims that 20 police officers from
Macheke pounced on them on December 20 2004 and ordered everybody to vacate
"The officer-in-charge and his colleagues said we must go where we came
from. We tried to ask by what and on whose authority the police were
ordering us to go, but they threatened us with assault," Mhlanga further
The police reportedly returned to the farm next day, heavily armed, and
forced the farmers off.
"On 21 December 2004 at about 1100 hours the police officers from Macheke
came in a vehicle marked ZRP, Support Unit. They were 20: nine of them were
armed with AK47 assault rifles while others were wielding truncheons (button
"Among them was the officer-in-charge of Macheke.  They told us to go
immediately and anyone who asked a question or appeared to be not
co-operating was thoroughly assaulted," Mhlanga alleged.
He added: "The police then proceeded to torch our huts using matchsticks. At
the other huts the police pointed firearms at the occupants and ordered them
to set their own huts on fire."
He said although the farmers managed to retrieve some of their belongings, a
total of 74 huts went up in smoke.
Mhlanga claimed that amid the skirmishes, some farmers tried to flee but
were pursued and severely assaulted by the cops.
He argued that the move was illegal in the absence of a court ruling.
They also said they were not given adequate notice before the eviction was
"Further, the police ought to have treated us like normal human beings and
not as if we had committed any crime," Mhlanga said.
The families claim they occupied Murray Farm in 2000 with the full backing
and knowledge of the government. They insist officials from the Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development and the Department of Agricultural
Research and Extension Services (Arex) pegged the 59 plots they were
occupying, in 2001.
They said trouble started when the Murehwa district administrator started
levying the new farmers unit tax.
"We started to hear that the farm was going to be converted into A2
resettlement scheme and later that it was earmarked for peri-urban
agriculture," Mhlanga said. He said as the original occupants of the farm,
they expected to be allocated plots.
He also said the police officers that evicted them claimed they were
following instructions from deputy commissioner Godwin Matanga, provincial
and district administrators, and the governor.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Election Watch

issue date :2005-Mar-16

Zanu PF Manicaland THE Zanu PF candidates for Mutare North and Mutare West,
Ellen Gwaradzimba and Christopher Mushowe, jointly addressed a rally at
Maphor Primary School on March 12.
The addresses by the two candidates centred on 'exposing' the MDC as a front
for imperialist forces.
Gwaradzimba castigated the MDC for poor roads and water shortages in Mutare,
a city the party controlled.  She said the MDC candidate for Mutare North,
Giles Mutsekwa, was targeting the votes of domestic workers in the
low-density suburbs of Mutare by giving them kapenta and soap.
Mushowe addressed another rally at Chipfatsura Primary School on March 13.

The ruling party held a series of campaign meetings in various
constituencies in the province on March 12 and 13, including at Airport Hall
in Makokoba, Elangeni Training Centre in Bulawayo East, and Emkanyeni in
Lobengula/Magwegwe.  Matabeleland South governor Angeline Masuku and the
party's candidate for the constituency Molly Mpofu addressed the Emkanyeni
Masuku urged the gathering to vote for Mpofu and Zanu PF.  She urged party
supporters to shun factionalism.  Mpofu promised development projects in the

In Masvingo Province, Zanu PF held campaign meetings at Bikita Training
Centre in Bikita West, Makanai in Chiredzi South, Ngomahuru Hall in Masvingo
South and at Dekeza Primary School in Zaka West.
In Bikita West, the party's candidate, Claudius Makova narrated his
achievements, including construction of roads, dams, a Net*One booster and
the upgrading of schools to Advanced Level status.
He urged people not to vote for the MDC candidate.  In Chiredzi South,
ruling party official Baloyi urged the people not to vote for the MDC and
independent candidates.  At Ngomahuru, Walter Mzembi promised youths that
they would also benefit from the land reform programme and housing schemes.

Zanu PF held campaign meetings on March 12 at Gafa grounds in Gweru urban,
Mkoba Hall in Mkoba, Mataga Council Hall in Mberengwa East and at Nyikavanhu
in Chirumanzu addressed by the candidates in the respective constituencies.
The upgrading and repairing of roads, construction of a new mortuary at
Gweru Hospital, sourcing of textbooks and furniture for schools, ensuring of
adequate drugs in hospitals and voting overwhelmingly for Zanu PF were the
major themes at the rallies.


The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) held two campaign meetings on March
12 at Gomutu Business Centre in Mberengwa East and at Rutendo Brick Yard
(Redcliff) in Silobela constituency.
Sekai Holland and Abdenico Malinga, the party's candidates for the
constituencies, addressed the meetings.  They both articulated their party's
policies as outlined in the manifesto and urged the people to turn out in
their thousands to vote for the MDC.

The MDC candidate for Mutare Central, Innocent Gonese, addressed a rally at
Coronation Park, Sakubva, on March 12.  In his address, Gonese criticised
the National Youth Service programme, alleging that youths were being
trained to perpetuate violence.
He said that President Robert Mugabe was distributing computers to schools
that had no electricity and described the move as a political gimmick meant
to woo voters.

Mashonaland Central
On March 11, the MDC candidate for Guruve South, Biggie Chigonero, held two
rallies at Nyamhondoro Secondary School and at Semeneka Business Centre,
where he castigated Zanu PF candidate, Edward Chindori-Chininga.

Independent candidates

Matabeleland South
Independent candidate for Beitbridge Lloyd Siyoka addressed a campaign
meeting at Chamangana Primary School on March 11.
In his address, Siyoka commended President Robert Mugabe for good leadership
qualities and pointed out that he would return to Zanu PF once elected into
office. He promised to bring development to the constituency by engaging

issue date :2005-Mar-17

Zanu PF Mashonaland West THE Zanu PF candidate for Ngezi constituency Bright
Matonga, and the national vice chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation
War Veterans Association, Joseph Chinotimba addressed a campaign rally at
Gweshe Business Centre, which was attended by about 3 000 people on March

Matonga said he had sourced 250 manual water pumps and plans to sink 600
boreholes to alleviate water problems in the constituency.
Chinotimba donated 28 reflective cycling shirts and 300 coffee mugs to
youths who will be using bicycles during campaigns.

Mashonaland Central
Zanu PF held campaign meetings on March 13 at the following places:
Morebridge Church, Thrums Farm and Beacon Hall Farm, all in Bindura
constituency; at Glendale Country Club in Mazowe West, Hwata Dip Tank in
Muzarabani, Katarira and Kapfidza in Mt Darwin North,  Karoi Farm,
Chikokonya Business Centre and Chaiza Village in Guruve South.
The party's respective candidates for the constituencies addressed the
gatherings.  Their messages centred on the need for their campaign teams to
desist from engaging in intimidatory speeches and to persuade people to vote
for Zanu PF by highlighting the party's strengths.
At Glendale Country Club, Sabina Zinyemba urged women to rally behind Vice
President Joyce Mujuru by voting for the party in large numbers.
In Bindura, Elliot Manyika blasted the MDC for its imperialist agenda,
adding that Zanu PF was homegrown and people centred.

Matabeleland South

The ruling party held campaign meetings at St Annah School and Mzola
Business Centre in Matobo constituency on March 14.  Other meetings were
held in the following areas:  Macingweni, Osabeni, Madabe, Sikhlu village in
Mangwe constituency; Kutokwane and Machimbe vilage in Bulilima constituency;
Makokwe and Gwanda DDF Training Centre in Gwanda constituency.
The party's candidates, Lungisani Nleya and Abednigo Ncube addressed the
meetings in their respective constituencies.
Eunice Sandi Moyo urged people in Mangwe to vote for Zanu PF for continuity
of development projects.  She narrated Zanu PF government's achievements
since independence.

Some 15 000 people attended a rally addressed by Vice President Joyce Mujuru
at Makoni Country Club in Makoni East Constituency on March 14.

Other campaign meetings were held at Chakohwa Business Centre and Charter
Estates in Chimanimani constituency; St Mathias Tsonzo High School in Mutasa
South where 20 000 people were addressed by Vice President Mujuru, and
Emerald Primary School in Chipinge North constituency.
In Chimanimani, Samuel Undenge told a gathering of about
1 000 supporters that Roy and Heather Bennett were in politics in order to
protect their former property, Charleswood Estate.
The candidates for Makoni East and West constituencies all accompanied the
Vice President to the two rallies in the province.

The MDC held two campaign meetings in the province on March 13 at
Sunningdale football grounds in Harare South Constituency and at Kuwadzana 3
Car Park in Kuwadzana.
James Mushonga, addressed the Sunningdale meeting, which was attended by
about 300 people.
In his address, Mushonga accused the Zanu PF government of failing the
nation during the past 25 years.
He called on party supporters to vote for the MDC so that it would garner a
two-thirds majority in parliament, which would enable it to pass a vote of
no confidence on President Robert Mugabe.


The MDC held campaign rallies at Gunguwo Business Centre in Zaka, Muchakata
Business Centre in Masvingo Central and Makonde Business Centre in Masvingo
North on March 13.
About 100 at the Zaka meeting were urged to vote for the MDC by Harrison
Mudzuri, the party's candidate.
He explained the MDC's policy on the economy, land, education and health as
espoused in the party's election manifesto.  At Muchakata, in Masvingo
Central, Femius Chakabuda and Alois Chaimiti praised the government for
implementing Sadc electoral guidelines, adding that they were campaigning

MDC held campaign meetings in Mkoba, Chirumanzu and Kwekwe constituencies.
The meeting in Chirumanzu was held at Lalapanzi Business Centre and was
attended by about 100 people.
Patrick Kombayi, the party's provincial secretary for information and
publicity, explained the party's manifesto.
Kombayi said that an MDC government would set up an independent Land
Commission to oversee the land reform programme.  -
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Business Day

Post to the web on: 16 March 2005
Zimbabwe poll doomed by puny institutions
Dumisani Muleya

LAST week, several Zimbabwean journalists, including myself, attended an
election seminar at the Johannesburg-based Institute for the Advancement of
Journalism in preparation for Zimbabwe's general election. A senior official
of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa voiced grave concern about
Zimbabwe's flawed electoral system.

He said that although the media had helped to expose Zimbabwe's repression,
human rights abuses and misrule, it had not done much in-depth coverage on
the electoral process. He said the media should provide comprehensive
coverage to make a clear and compelling case for reform in Zimbabwe and, in
the process, deny regional leaders such as President Thabo Mbeki an
opportunity to claim elections could be free and fair under current

True to form, the journalists reacted defensively, saying they were doing
their work effectively. One said Mbeki's position on Zimbabwe was not really
influenced by lack of information, but by his own political designs,
whatever they were.

In view of this, I felt it might be useful to explore Zimbabwe's
institutional arrangements and electoral process in general ahead of the
March 31 poll.

Elections are not just a function of the range and quality of liberties
guaranteed to voters by the constitution, but are also defined by the
overall institutional framework within which they take place. Studies have
shown that voters' behaviour is largely influenced by their institutional
and sociological environment.

The question of whether a country is democratic or not is ultimately settled
by the quality of its electoral system.

The primary legislation governing the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe dates
back at least to the pre-independence Electoral Act of 1979. Even though the
act has been amended many times, its foundation remains.

Five principal bodies run elections: - the Delimitation Commission; the
Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC); the Election Directorate; the
registrar-general of elections' office; and the newly formed Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission. The Delimitation Commission and the ESC are
constitutional, while the other three are statutory bodies.

The people who serve on these bodies are appointed by President Robert
Mugabe, directly and indirectly. Some are public servants vulnerable to all
sorts of political pressures. Others are simply ruling party functionaries.

The Delimitation Commission delineates the boundaries of the 120
constituencies. Its members are appointed by Mugabe and report to him. It
has often been accused of gerrymandering and is facing this accusation now.
This followed its recent reduction, by four, of constituencies in areas
controlled by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. It increased
them by the same number in regions where the ruling Zanu (PF) dominates.

The ESC "supervises" the registration of voters and conduct of general
elections. It "comments" on proposed electoral laws and reports to Mugabe
"as it thinks fit". It is, in theory, an independent body because, in terms
of the constitution, it "shall not, in the exercise of it functions, be
subject to the direction or control of any person or authority".

However, all its members are appointed by Mugabe in consultation with the
progovernment Judicial Services Commission and the speaker of parliament, a
member of Zanu (PF).

But the most serious weakness of the body is not its composition, but its
lack of executive authority to fulfil its mandate. This is made worse by the
fact that it is stuffed with pro-Zanu (PF) people. In reality, the ESC is
just a rubber stamp.

The Election Directorate co-ordinates activities of government ministries
and departments on the delimiting of constituencies, voter registration and
other related matters.

Its chairman is appointed by Mugabe "for his ability and experience in
administration or his professional qualifications".

The other members include the registrar-general, who is thoroughly
discredited and works under the home affairs minister, and between two and
10 members chosen by the justice minister. This means it is Zanu

The registrar-general's office, which compiled the current controversial
voters' roll, works under the home affairs ministry and is run by public
servants, making it politically exposed.

Mugabe blocked the Southern African Development Community technical team of
lawyers from assessing Zimbabwe's legal and institutional framework because
it would have shown the electoral system to be flawed and incapable of
supporting free and fair elections.

Coupled with well-documented violence and intimidation, Zimbabwe's weak
electoral system makes it impossible to hold genuine elections.

- Muleya is Harare correspondent.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Chiyangwa still under probe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-17

BUSINESSMAN Phillip Chiyangwa is still being probed for espionage, despite
his removal from remand by the High Court last month, Attorney General
Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, confirmed yesterday.
In an interview with The Daily Mirror, Gula-Ndebele said the recent release
of Chiyangwa from remand prison by High Court judge Charles Hungwe did not
mean that charges against the outgoing Chinhoyi legislator had been dropped.
The judge freed the former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman from
remand prison for lack of evidence linking him to the espionage charges.
"He was removed from remand and the court never said he should not be
investigated on the charges. If one is removed from remand it does not mean
that his case is finished. Once investigations are completed one would be
taken to court," said Gula-Ndebele.
On Monday, Gula-Ndebele was quoted by the international media as having told
an anti-corruption workshop last weekend that Chiyangwa was still under
probe for contravening provisions of the Official Secrets Act, despite the
High Court ruling.
He reportedly said: "He (Chiyangwa) has not been acquitted. In fact, there
are new developments as investigations are going on. The true position is,
he was removed from remand but has not been acquitted over espionage
charges. As soon as the present investigations are over, he will be brought
to court."
Yesterday, Gula-Ndebele could neither confirm nor deny making that statement
and referred this newspaper to a recording of the workshop's proceedings.
The director of Public Prosecutions, Joseph Musakwa, also told The Daily
Mirror on Tuesday that Chiyangwa was only removed from remand, but was not
He said under such circumstances, if investigations yield more evidence, the
accused would be summoned for prosecution.
He could not say whether Chiyangwa was under probe or not, and referred all
questions to the police.
Chief police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena,
yesterday declined to comment on Chiyangwa's case.
"I cannot comment on that," Bvudzijena said.
Chiyangwa disappeared on December 15 2004 soon after leaving Parliament only
to emerge in court two weeks later facing allegations of selling State
secrets to foreign powers.
Other prominent Zimbabweans who were facing similar charges,
ambassador-designate to Mozambique, Godfrey Dzvairo, Zanu PF director of
external affairs Itai Marchi, and banker Tendai Matambanadzo were jailed for
terms of between five and six years each.
Zanu PF deputy security chief, Kenny Karidza is still on trial.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Banks owed more than $35b

Givemore Nyanhi
issue date :2005-Mar-17

THREE financial institutions are owed a combined $35 billion, by at least
seven mostly horticulture firms that are liquidation bound, it was revealed
at a creditors' meeting held at the High Court yesterday. Teresa Grimmel of
KPMG Chartered Accountants was appointed the liquidator of the companies.
Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe is owed about $32 billion of the claims, while
Interfin Merchant Bank and Renaissance Merchant Bank accounted for $3
billion and $660 million respectively, among a handful of other creditors.
The Master of the High Court approved most of the claims, made to the seven
Proof of claims of two other companies were however, not effected as the
affected creditors failed to turn up to register their claims at the High
Barclays made a claim of $31 billion in Consbuild Private Limited.
The claim arose from an overdraft in the folding company's account.
Apparently, Consbuild was a subsidiary of equally ill-fated Fresca Holdings
Private Limited, which was formerly Africa's largest and most
technologically advanced vegetable and dehydration company.
Unfortunately Fresca, which is also winding up its operations and had also
been earmarked to hold its first proof of claims meeting for creditors
yesterday, was one of the subsidiaries of the local stock exchange listed -
but currently suspended - TZI Limited.
TZI is run by Edwin Moyo, who has released a new roadmap for TZI soon after
Canvest Farming, otherwise known as Kondozi, was controversially acquired by
government last year.
Barclays further made a claim of about $671 billion from Seltafl Services,
which is also in liquidation.
Another financial institution, Renaissance Merchant Bank, made a claim of
$660 million in Hortico Produce, another horticultural firm based in Harare.
The horticultural firm is winding up its operations as a result of the
disruptions that have occurred in the agricultural sector in the past five
Hortico had relied on at least 15 out growers for its European Union
(EU)-destined produce.
But the business became unviable following the acquisitions of some of the
out growing farms, in the process depriving the country of critical foreign
currency, another regrettable development responsible for some of the
country's unhealthy macroeconomic fundamentals today.
Barteleur Ventures and Interfin Merchant Bank also lodged claims of about
$396 million and $3 billion in Hortico Produce.
The two claims from Genesis Investment Bank and British Cargo Airways of
$794 million and $1 billion respectively were however not approved because
the two creditors did not appear at the High Court to register their claims.
Failure to appear or send a representative before the Master of the High
Court on the set date means that the creditors can register their claims at
a latter date.
AMN Marketing and Grestyle Services did not have any creditor but  still
fall under the direction of Grimmel as liquidator.
Other companies in the process of liquidations such as Fresca and Barbican
Asset Management proof of claims' meetings did not take place as the dates
had been changed.

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