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

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The War on the Media in Zimbabwe.

Last night I listened to SW Radio at 18.30 hrs. For those who are not
familiar with SW Radio this is a small radio station broadcasting out of
London on short and medium wave to Zimbabwe. For many of us the slot from
18.30 to 19.30 hrs has been a lifeline of news about what is happening in
Zimbabwe. This is the time when they flight their nightly "Newsreel"

At first I thought there was no signal, but then I was able to pick it up -
a faint signal right next to what sounded like a muffled roar. We were able
to hear the first 20 minutes or so and then it simply became impossible to
make out the voices over what was a continuous stream of noise.

SW is being jammed - very professionally - by transmitters located at the
Gweru transmitters of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. I understand
the equipment comes from Iran and has just been installed.

This just another example of the war on the media being waged by the Zanu PF
led regime in Zimbabwe.

Yesterday the Supreme Court finally handed down its judgment a year after
they had sat to consider the banning of the Daily News. The Daily News was
established 4 years ago in an effort to open up the newspaper industry and
allow greater freedom of expression. It rapidly attracted some of the
brightest minds in the industry and was soon outselling its State controlled
rivals across the country.

They faced threats of many kinds - vendors were beaten up and the copies of
the paper burned. The presses printing the paper were blown up with military
explosives on two occasions and the staffs were threatened. An assassination
attempt was made on the editor.

Then finally the regime decided that these piecemeal approaches were not
sufficient and the Minister of Justice brought out a new draft Bill - the
innocuously sounding "Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act."
In fact this was simply an Act of Parliament designed to close down any
media - electronic or written, which was in any way a threat to the Regime.
The Daily News was at the top of that list, as was the local initiators of
SW Radio.

SW went on to establish itself outside the country - the Daily News did not
have that option. They were soon closed down and have been fighting the new
legal restrictions ever since. This fight has cost its sponsors many
hundreds of millions of dollars in legal and other costs. Because of their
determination the Daily News remains ready to go within 48 hours of being
allowed back on the streets.

So when we heard that the SADC States were going to see to it that the
elections on the 31st were going to be free and fair - we assumed this meant
that the regime here would allow the Daily back on the streets. When it was
leaked that the Supreme Court was going to rule in favor of the Daily this
reinforced our feelings. But it was not to be - yesterday the Courts ruled
that the original banning order was not right and that the Daily News should
have been licensed. Then they sent the decision back to the same body that
originally banned the Daily News and has just banned another weekly.

The war on the media does not end there - any employee of the State
controlled media - 7 newspapers and 4 radio stations and the sole national
TV station, who shows any signs of independence or professionalism is
immediately fired or worse. These people live in constant fear for their
jobs and careers. The weekly Financial Gazette - long a critic of the State
was quietly taken over by financial interests close to the ruling Party.

The only other independent weeklies that remained operating are the Standard
on Sunday and the Independent on Fridays. These are expensive and have a
limited circulation and have been very careful not to step outside the
invisible boundaries that mark regime media restrictions.

The regime has threatened Botswana for its perceived support for the
independent radio broadcasts that are coming into Zimbabwe. The main ones
being SW Radio - now broadcasting on medium wave via a regional facility and
the Voice of America Studio 7 broadcasts each evening for one hour in three

The propaganda machine is massive and constant. All media references to the
activities of the MDC are negative and hostile. The position of the ruling
party is constantly portrayed and all news and current affairs programming
is treated as a political campaign tool. Any positive coverage of the MDC -
such as the MDC campaign launch, which was covered at the start of this
campaign - has an electrifying effect on the country!

Even in the commercial printing industry there has been a campaign to limit
MDC activity. The company Daily Print, in Bulawayo was firebombed when it
was discovered that they were printing for the MDC. Since then all
commercial printers report visits by the CIO and threats that there will be
retaliation if they accept work from the MDC.

I do not know how you would interpret this situation? Thabo Mbeki says that
this is not an impediment to a free and fair election. I find that an
astonishing claim. How does he expect the MDC to address the issues and
campaign if they are virtually totally excluded from the media, except in a
negative way?

The election on the 31st simply cannot be regarded as being free and fair.
It will be a carefully orchestrated display of election fraud and
manipulation by a regime that came to power on the back of a global campaign
to win one man one vote for Zimbabwe. South Africa and her regional
associates will be associated with this exercise and will be to blame if
Zimbabwe continues its slide into anarchy and human misery.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 16th March 2005
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      More Groups Excluded From Observing Zimbabwe Elections
      By  Tendai Maphosa
      17 March 2005

More organizations are joining the list of those not invited to observe the
March 31 parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is one of the latest cases of a group
not getting an invitation to observe Zimabwe's elections.  Announcing the
invitation of 29 local organizations he described as non-partisan, Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the ZCTU which is the umbrella body of trade
unions in Zimbabwe is, " too partisan and too active a player in Zimbabwean
politics to be trusted to act as an observer."

Mr. Chinamasa, who was quoted in the state-controlled daily newspaper, The
Herald, also accused the ZCTU of being too close to the Congress of South
African Trade Unions, COSATU.  Late last year a COSATU delegation on, what
it called, a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe was deported from the country
less than 24 hours after its arrival.  Another delegation was refused entry
into Zimbabwe this year.

The labor body has expressed concern at the plight of Zimbabwean workers and
the human rights situation in the country.

Also not invited is the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa.  The
organization has observed 20 electoral processes in the Southern African
Development Community region during the past seven years.

In a statement from its South African base, the body said it had
communicated its intention to observe the election to the Zimbabwe foreign
ministry, but no reply has been forthcoming.  It said even if an invitation
was to come now, it would turn it down in the interest of professional and
credible observation of elections.

Still waiting for a call from Harare is the South African Council of
Churches, which says it has applied for accreditation.  Its
secretary-general, Molefe Tsele, told VOA that having civil society
observers reassures voters about their safety and gives them confidence in
the process.  He described the absence of external observers as regrettable.

Meanwhile, the main opposition party, The Movement for Democratic Change,
MDC, has said it will interact with the delegation of the African National
Congress, South Africa's ruling party, but not with the South African
government observer group.

The MDC had earlier said it would not deal with any of the South African
observer missions after accusing the South African government of prejudging
the election by saying it would be free and fair.

The MDC argues the election process in Zimbabwe is still heavily tilted in
favor of the ruling Zanu-PF.

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New York Times

For Zimbabwe, Peaceful Vote, but Is It Fair?

Published: March 18, 2005

FILABUSI, Zimbabwe, March 13 - If this is an outpost of tyranny, it was not
immediately obvious in this one-road backwater buried in Zimbabwe's hilly
southwest flank.

In a clearing amid donkey carts, rafters-high scrub and at least 3,000
peasants, Zimbabwe's sole political opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangarai,
delivered a throw-the-bums-out harangue aimed at crucial parliamentary
elections later this month.

After 25 years of rule by President Robert G. Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front, "the money you are using presently
is as good as old newspapers," he cried. "The grain silos are full of
cobwebs. There is no harvest this year."

It was a civics-book image of what Mr. Mugabe, 81, promises for the
elections on March 31, possibly his last as president: an honest campaign to
rebut accusations that he has devolved into a dictator. When Mr. Tsvangarai
last campaigned three years ago, government-run youth gangs routed
supporters with clubs and party members lost homes and even lives to
midnight arsonists. On this day, the police briefly detained a few
slogan-singing supporters, but otherwise stood idly by.

But there is a vast difference between an obviously peaceful election and a
fair one. And with two weeks left to a potentially defining moment for Mr.
Mugabe, there is mounting evidence that the raucous campaigning masks an
expansive effort by his party to rig the outcome.

Both independent analysts and members of Mr. Tsvangarai's party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, or M.D.C., cite growing barriers to a fair
ballot. They say that polling places are scarce in opposition strongholds;
that two in five enrolled voters are suspect; that Zimbabwe's vast, mostly
anti-Mugabe diaspora is barred from voting; that the 8,500 election
observers are limited to those, like Russians and close African allies, who
are likely to rubber-stamp a government victory. Most Westerners are
excluded from witnessing the vote.

Foreign journalists are effectively banned from Zimbabwe under threat of
arrest (though many enter the country as tourists). Government-run media are
heavily biased; broadcast interviews with opposition figures mysteriously
drown in static. There is a dearth of independent judges to rule on election
complaints. Election oversight is split among a bevy of commissions largely
staffed with Mr. Mugabe's cronies.

Most important, perhaps, the government controls the biggest incentive to
undecided voters: the distribution of almost all emergency food in a nation
where, agricultural experts say, 4 people in 10 are unsure where to find
their next meal.

Given such advantages, "they probably believe they have won the election and
that creating freer conditions on the immediate eve of the election will not
hurt," said Reginald Matchaba-Hove, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network, a coalition of pro-democracy groups. "The assumption on
Mugabe's side is that he will get a two-thirds majority in the parliament

During a daylong tour of Zimbabwe back-country between Bulawayo and Harare,
the capital, candidates for both ZANU-P.F. and the opposition were seen
beseeching crowds at groceries and liquor stores. In the mountainous
chrome-mining region near Zvishavane, rival candidates were also seen
handing out bags, apparently stuffed with corn, from automobiles plastered
with their posters.

The police were evident, but none interfered with campaigning.

"Our campaigns are going freely," said Albert Ndlovu, the M.D.C.'s
provincial organizer for Mashonaland West, a rural province of 1.2 million
in north-central Zimbabwe. "There are pockets of violence here and there.
But generally, we would say it is a bit quiet."

Many here see Mr. Mugabe's loosening of the reins as a calculated gamble by
someone supremely confident of victory. Of the 150 seats in Parliament,
ZANU-P.F. holds 98, including 30 whose occupants are government-appointed
and are not being contested. The M.D.C. has a bare 51 seats, down six from
the last election. To gain control, the party would have to win an
additional 25 seats - an impossibility, most here say.

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Cape Times

      Selective morality
      March 18, 2005

      by the Editor

      What on earth are South Africans to read into the extraordinary
behaviour of Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, leader of the South
African government observer mission to Zimbabwe's March 31 elections?

      He had barely landed in Harare when he was declaring that everything
was set for a free and fair election. His astonishing comments came even
before the observer mission had started assessing the realities in that

      It seems a safe bet to assume that Mdladlana had already had made up
his mind (or, dare we suggest, had his mind made up for him).

      Then along came Mbulelo Goniwe, head of the South African
parliamentary observer mission, also making positive noises about conditions
for a free and fair election.

      Mdladlana has also given other indications of his shining objectivity
by not allowing a Democratic Alliance member of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) delegation to ask questions at a meeting with
the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC).

      "I don't know you," he snapped when MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard tried to
ask a question of the ZCC.

      Not surprisingly the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the
Zimbabwean opposition party, subsequently cancelled a meeting with

      The nett effect of the obvious bias towards the despotic Robert
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has been to discredit the South African missions and
to cast this country in a poor light.

      It also makes a mockery of the ideals espoused by the African Union
and, closer to home, SADC. And not to mention the impact on South African
President Thabo Mbeki's brainchild, the New Partnership for Africa's

      Most distressingly, the entire affair suggests a selective approach to
human rights by the South African government.
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Mail and Guardian

      Zim: ANC concern mounts

      Nic Dawes

      17 March 2005 07:59

            The African National Congress is presenting a unified front on
the March 31 elections in Zimbabwe, but behind the scenes there is
increasing debate in the ruling party about how to deal with the political
and economic crisis north of the Limpopo.

            Controversy has intensified in South Africa and Zimbabwe since
Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, who heads the government's observer
mission, reportedly told Zimbabwean state radio and television on Monday
that all was in place for a free and fair election.

            President Thabo Mbeki and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma have made similar remarks in recent weeks.

            But many in the ANC are increasingly uncomfortable with the
approach of the government and the party. They include members of the South
African Communist Party - a robust critic of President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu-PF in recent months - and others with no specific association with the
left of the tripartite alliance.

            "We are a bit dismayed by the statements of some of those
representing South Africa, particularly the minister of labour. It seems to
be an exceptionally partisan and ill-informed statement, and we hope the
South African government will speak to him about it," said SACP deputy
secretary general Jeremy Cronin, a member of the ANC's national executive

            "We believe it's extremely unlikely that there can be any
effective compliance with SADC [Southern African Development Community]
protocols in this election.

            "The South African and SADC observer missions need to state very
accurately what happens so that we don't undermine the protocols. That there
will be non-compliance is obvious. That should be noted, not simply to say
whether the election is free and fair, but to say what should be done

            The government and the ANC's approach, two senior ANC officials
told the Mail & Guardian, is premised on the belief that Zanu-PF will win
the election, that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is too
unstable and inexperienced to lead Zimbabwe's reconstruction and that new
leaders in Zanu-PF must be identified and supported.

            "Even if Zimbabwe complied fully with all the SADC guidelines,
Zanu-PF would win - not by such a big margin, but they would win," said one
MP who was party to foreign policy discussions.

            "In a sense the hope has been that Zanu-PF would get 66%, so
that in constitutional reform you have to deal with one party and push one
party in the right direction," another official said.

            However, party insiders say there is deepening concern over the
failure of attempts to drive change.

            "There is consensus that Zanu-PF has gone seriously wrong - no
one denies that. The real debate in the ANC is where the change will come
from. Some feel that still, somewhere in Zanu, there is the capacity to
stabilise and turn around Zimbabwe - perhaps by tapping recently
marginalised figures like Emmerson Mnangagwa."

            Mnangagwa, the Speaker of Parliament and Mugabe's former close
ally, is out of favour because he is seen as a rival for party leadership.
As head of state security in the 1980s he presided over the massacre of at
least 20 000 people in Matabeleland - the heartland of opposition to
Mugabe - by the notorious 5th Brigade.

            South African intelligence agents in Zimbabwe, it is suggested,
aimed to identify alternative centres of power in Zanu-PF.

            But the repeated failure of efforts to nudge Zimbabwe toward
negotiated transition has created deep scepticism about this strategy in
some quarters.

            "[The SACP] reading is that the government is trying to lock the
major stakeholders in Zimbabwe into a transitional process involving
negotiations, legislative reform and transition ultimately to a freer
election. That has been scuppered by Zanu-PF and its insistence on the March
31 date," said Cronin.

            One veteran ANC back-bencher said he felt the same way about
government policy on Zimbabwe as about being forced to vote for legislation
legalising abortion. "The president says unconscionable things about
Zimbabwe and we can't say anything about it," he said.

            "Certainly there's no solution that doesn't involve Zanu-PF
cadres," argues another MP, "but I'd have serious doubts about the capacity
of the leadership to address anything other than their own short-term
interests. The real energy has to come from outside the party.

            "They need not another flawed election, but a transition to

            Government spokesperson Joel Netshitenze said after Wednesday's
Cabinet meeting that no one should prejudge whether the election will be
free and fair.

            Netshitenze said the South African government delegation would
try to intervene where "concrete instances" of concern arose.

            SADC in disarray

            This week, confusion still surrounds how the observer missions
sent by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), its parliamentary
forum and the South African government would work.

            Members of the parliamentary forum delegation were initially
told that they had not been invited to observe the elections, but they had
struck a deal, according to South African officials.

            "They will nominally form part of the South African government
delegation, but they will be free to travel around unencumbered by South
African or Zimbabwe officials," a person involved in arranging the trip said
this week.

            However, the delegation's official spokesperson in Zimbabwe was
not available to confirm the terms of the arrangement.

            At least two delegates - the Democratic Alliance's Dianne
Kohler-Barnard and Roy Jankielson had been given only 10-day visas, which
would expire before the March 31 election date.

            "I'm not sure whether they are trying to make sure they can
chuck us out of the country before the 31st, or what, but our embassy is
trying to sort it out," Kohler-Barnard said from Harare on Thursday morning.

            Meanwhile the SADC delegation appeared to be in some disarray.
As of Thursday only eight members - three from Mauritius, and five from
South Africa - had arrived.

            Kohler-Barnard said they were struggling with communications,
and it wasn't clear what their schedule involved.

            "[Minister of Minerals and Energy] Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has
arrived to lead the group, and of course she's more than up to sorting
things out, but right now I don't know what we are going to do."

            She said Membathisi Mdladlana - the head of the South African
delegation - had prevented her from asking questions during a meeting with
the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.

            "He just said 'I don't know you' and wouldn't take any of my
questions." - Nic Dawes

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BBC says Stuart Hall's dig at Mugabe was satire

John Plunkett
Friday March 18, 2005
The Guardian

The BBC is standing by the football commentator Stuart Hall after his
comment that white Zimbabwe cricketers should "black up" and his calling
President Robert Mugabe a "witch doctor".
Hall was speaking on Radio Five Live's sporting panel show Fighting Talk.
Asked by the presenter Christian O'Connell which team he would like to see
make a comeback, he chose Zimbabwe's cricket team, which has been thrown
into chaos by claims of racism and a boycott by its leading white players.

"The average life expectancy is 33 so if you are not dying from Aids,
malnutrition, starvation, deprivation or stagnation, don your flannels,
black up [and] play leather on willow," he said

"[With] Mugabe as captain and witch doctor, imagine him out at Lords casting
a tincture of bats' tongues and gorillas' gonads ... Give cricket a shot in
the bails it needs!"

Hall's fellow panellists, who included the broadcaster Danny Kelly and the
Guardian's boxing correspondent John Rawling, appeared stunned. O'Connell
said: "Let's have a break for the news so we can all think about our

Hall, famous for his outspoken views and colourful language in match
reports, also defended footballers' right to use foul language. "Your
average 10-year-old can instruct you in oral or anal sex," he said.

A BBC spokeswoman said it had received no complaints from listeners. Two
people had complained about a reference Hall made to Travellers elsewhere on
the programme.

"We have had no complaints from listeners in response to these specific
comments made by Stuart Hall," she said. "On this programme guests often say
things which are lively and provocative but we believe our listeners
recognise these comments are satirical banter."
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Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Mugabe Still Fears Chitepo's Legacy

President remains anxious to counter claims that he benefitted from the
death of Zimbabwe's Nelson Mandela.

By Trevor Grundy in London (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 16,

Thirty years ago on the morning of March 18, Herbert Chitepo - leader of the
Rhodesian liberation movement ZANU - was assassinated when a bomb planted in
his Volkswagen Beetle exploded outside his home in Lusaka, the capital of

The murder of Chitepo - whose remains were found inside the car, which was
blown onto the roof of his house by the force of the blast - happened during
one of the darkest periods of Zimbabwean liberation politics, when a
comparatively unknown ZANU militant, Robert Mugabe, was trying to topple the
incumbent 51-year-old leader.

Following Chitepo's death, there was extensive bloodletting between ZANU's
ethnic and ideological factions. Mugabe emerged as Chitepo's successor, and
he went on to become prime minister and then president of independent
Zimbabwe - posts that Chitepo would perhaps have filled had he lived.

The question of who killed Chitepo has never faded away in Zimbabwe, and is
whispered incessantly in the beer halls and village courtyards.

There has been no closure on the death of Zimbabwe's lost leader, and while
it is dangerous to ask about it, even today's schoolchildren take the risk,
as Dr Terence Ranger, an expert on Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and a retired professor
of race relations at Oxford University, told IWPR.

"Last time I spoke to secondary schoolchildren in Zimbabwe, the headmaster
rather foolishly said that I could answer any questions about history," he
said. "A dozen hands shot up. They all wanted to know who killed Chitepo."

The ordinary public, historians and opposition politicians would also like
to know who was responsible for the murder of Chitepo, Rhodesia's first
black barrister who served for a while as the first African Director of
Public Prosecutions in British-ruled Tanganyika.

Some claim that they know the answer.

David Martin, an Africa correspondent for the UK's Observer, claimed in his
book "The Chitepo Assassination" that the murder was arranged by Rhodesian
prime minister Ian Smith, Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and South African
president John Vorster. They are said to have seen Chitepo and his militancy
as an obstacle to their Machiavellian ruses and he therefore had to be

Martin said a Scotsman was recruited by agents of Ian Smith in Salisbury,
now Harare, to carry bomb parts into Zambia and blow Chitepo away. Martin
said he had written the book to "rest the spirits that have remained
disturbed for a decade".

But Martin's claim is dismissed by many others, including Chitepo's widow,

In July 2001, and after 16 years of silence, Victoria claimed that her
husband's murder was an internal ZANU job, and demanded unsuccessfully that
his killers be brought to justice. Her plea followed statements by Kaunda
that Chitepo's ZANU opponents, not Rhodesian agents, were responsible for
the killing.

Veteran nationalist James Chikerema, who with Chitepo was one of the
founding members of ZAPU liberation movement before ZANU split away, has
another theory about his death.

" I knew Chitepo for years. He was murdered by [Josiah] Tongogara and the
Karanga mafia," he said.

Tongogara was the commander of ZANU's guerrilla forces in exile at a time of
dangerously high ethnic tensions within the movement, between Chitepo's
Manyika clan of the larger tribal Shona grouping, and Tongogara's Karanga

"I saw Tongogara soon after Chitepo had been killed," said Chikerema. "We
were at State House [in Lusaka] on that morning of March 18. I said to him,
'You are a murderer. You will never get away with this.' Then I reached for
my gun but the Zambian police got hold of me and stopped me. There would
have been a shoot out there and then."

Asked how Tongogara reacted to this, Chikerema said, "He was frightened. He
looked sheepish and guilty."

However, until the day he died in a mysterious car crash on Boxing Day 1979,
Tongogara - long seen as a charismatic alternative to Mugabe as leader of
Zimbabwe - always denied involvement in the murder.

No autopsy results or photographs of Tongogara's body were ever released,
leading to further speculation . A CIA briefing two days later described
Tongogara as a potential political rival to Mugabe because of his "ambition,
popularity and decisive style". On the same day, the US embassy in Zambia
issued a statement saying, "Almost no one in Lusaka accepts Mugabe's
assurance that Tongogara died accidentally. When [our] ambassador told the
Soviet ambassador the news, the [latter] immediately charged 'inside job'."

The stories and the theories about the assassination of Chitepo, regarded by
many ZANU fighters as their Nelson Mandela, whirl around to this day and
have the complexity of an Agatha Christie mystery.

While there are some who believe Mugabe himself had Chitepo killed,
Chikerema doubts this. Nevertheless, the murder shaped contemporary Zimbabwe
and allowed Mugabe to move from being a background player to leader. It is
he, who by force of personality, has shaped Zimbabwe over the past 25 years
and no one will ever know how the nation might have fared under President
Herbert Chitepo.

Mugabe, anxious to eradicate all accusations that he benefitted from the
death of Chitepo, has introduced a widely criticised "patriotic history" in
all Zimbabwe's schools, colleges and universities designed to prove that
there was total ZANU unity under Mugabe's inspired leadership during the
1972-79 struggle for freedom. Loyal "historians" have been hired to write a
torrent of books and articles proving that divisions among black
nationalists were always created by outsiders.

But Mugabe still fears Chitepo's enduring legacy, just as he fears that of
Tongogara. Indeed, Mark Chavunduka, editor of the independent Standard, was
arrested and tortured in 2001 for writing that Mugabe was haunted by
Tongogara's ghost.

Throughout Mashonaland there is a legend that when Chitepo's remains were
brought from Lusaka and reburied at Heroes Acre, on the outskirts of Harare,
a white bird flew at the face of Mugabe, who ducked and cried out in fear.
And throughout Chitepo's home province, Manicaland, in the Eastern
Highlands, the people dismiss the official version that Smith's white agents
murdered their most famous son.

In the villages of Manicaland, songs are still being sung calling on Chitepo
to rise from the grave and lead Zimbabwe.

The remains of the dead Chitepo and Tongogara today lie close to each other
in Heroes Acre, the full stories of their mysterious deaths untold. And,
ironically, Mugabe may join them there one day.

Author and broadcaster Trevor Grundy worked in Lusaka in 1975 for the
Financial Times and the BBC and was the first reporter at the scene of the
assassination of Herbert Chitepo on March 18, 1975.
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Zimbabwe child death rate highest in the world

Unicef call to donors as disease kills one in eight under-fives

Andrew Meldrum
Friday March 18, 2005
The Guardian

One in eight children in Zimbabwe will die before the age of five, the
highest mortality rate in the world, according to figures published
yesterday by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef).
It said that child mortality had risen sharply in the country since 1990,
when one in 12 children died.

About 70% of deaths were due to Aids.

Zimbabwe has the world's fourth highest level of HIV/Aids - 24% of the total
population of 12m is infected - but is getting very little international
assistance to help overcome it, the Unicef executive director, Carol
Bellamy, said.

Speaking in Johannesburg, she appealed for increased aid to Zimbabwe, saying
the the world "must differentiate between the politics and the people" of
the country.

She said: "Every day children in Zimbabwe are dying of HIV/Aids, every day
children are becoming infected, orphaned and forced to leave school to care
for sick parents.

"The global generosity towards tsunami victims was inspiring, but it has
dried up for Zimbabwean children who are facing a deadly crisis every day."

Acknowledging that donors were reluctant to give significant funds to
Zimbabwe, because of the allegations of corruption and state torture, she
said: "Look for other ways to make a political point, but don't take it out
on Zimbabwe's children, they are the ones who are suffering."

In addition to the rising rate of child deaths, Zimbabwe has a million
children - one in five - orphaned by Aids.

In 1990 it had one of Africa's best healthcare systems. But in recent years
the government has reduced the health and education budgets and channelled
the funds to the army and its internal security network, the central
intelligence organisation.

The big donors have declined to fund its healthcare programmes, in contrast
to their generous funding of neighbouring countries.

The three major Aids donors - the US, the World Bank and the Global Fund -
have largely shunned Zimbabwe.

"In southern Africa, the area most affected by Aids, the average donor
spending per HIV-infected person is $74 (£38). In Zimbabwe the amount is
just $4," Ms Bellamy said.

The collapse of Zimbabwe's health was also highlighted last week by Africa
Fighting Malaria, which came to different conclusions.

Rather than calling for increased funds which the government might divert to
political ends, it urged President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and other
regional leaders to encourage Mr Mugabe to reform.

It argued that Zimbabwe's increased incidence of malaria, Aids and other
infectious diseases was in danger of becoming a problem for the whole

Dumisani Muleya, a commentator in the Zimbabwe Independent, was also
sceptical of Unicef's approach.

"The Global Fund and others have expressed concern that money donated in the
past was not put to good use and did not have significant impact on targeted
areas," he said.

He pointed out that the Zimbabwean National Aids Council was notoriously
corrupt and ineffective.

"Zimbabwe's health crisis is largely a result of the government's own
policies," he said.

"The lack of government funding means no books and no drugs. Now the Mugabe
government wants the international community to solve the problem that it

"It also wants to control disbursement of those international funds.

"You cannot be a beggar and a chooser at the same time."
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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:

"The State is like a tree. The roots are agriculture, the trunk is the
population, the branches are industry, the leaves are commerce and the
arts; it is from the roots that the tree draws the nourishing sap.....and
it is to the roots that a remedy must be applied if the tree is not to

Victor, Marquis de Mirabeau.




LETTER 1: RE: REPLY TO 'Anonymous', received 16.3.2005

by Another Anonymous

RE: 'It's painful when done to you'

Yes, Anonymous, painful indeed, specially when one is so hung up on the
past like you. What's happening in Zim today is complete proof that no one
ever learns from history, everybody points a finger and no one accepts any
blame. No one disputes that your forefathers have suffered, but they are
not the only ones. Persecution, disease, poverty, racism have afflicted
many former generations of various races. That's the way it used to be,
that's all I can tell you.

A long time before the 1800 and before your forefathers were 'discovered'
as such, my ancestors were battling each other's tribes in a place called
Europe today. You have to keep things into perspective.

Another 'Anonymous'


LETTER 2: JAMMING OF SWRadioAfrica - Query, received 16.3.2005

by Gerry


We're trying to get info out about where to find us now that we're being
jammed. I don't know if it's possible or appropriate but could our info go
on your newsletter?

If not is it possible to send it out separately as a mass mailing?

The poor listener is really battling so the more available info the better.
For the forseeable future the following is correct:

We know they have two strong jammers, one weak one. We're trying to make it
difficult for them.

SW RadioAfrica.


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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Please send any adverts for publication in the JAG Job Opportunities
newsletter to: with subject line "Job Opportunities".


- Employment OFFERED

- Employment SOUGHT


1.1 OFFER: WILD COAST HOUSE SITTING, received 12.3.2005

Free accommodation - small beachfront bungalow offered near Wild Coast
(Natal) in exchange for light duties. Seeking someone permanent. Greer
Ballantine email

Thank you
Greer Ballantine


1.2 OFFER: GARDENER, received 14.3.2005

Block of townhouses in the avenues is looking for an honest, reliable and
hard working gardener who knows his business well. The right person will be
offered free accomodation, light and water and a competitive salary.

Must have recent contactable references.

04-750422 during working hours

1.3 OFFER: FULLTIME SRN NURSE for GP, received 15.3.2005

Fulltime receptionist required for lady doctor's G.P. surgery in Avenues
area, Harare. State Registered Nurse or person with some medical experience
preferred. Starting date: 1st May 2005.

Please send C.V. to

1.4 OFFER: AUSTRALIA - DIESEL MECHANIC, received 14.3.2005

To Who It May Concern

We have had a couple of responses to the Mechanics Position that was
advertised.  The position is still open and are looking forward to anyone
else that is interested in the position.  We would preferrably like a
mechanic in the fields of truck, tractor or dozer mechanics.

We are situated about six hours inland (west) of Brisbane (Queensland).
Roma has a population of round 7000 people and is mainly has Oil, Gas, beef
and wheat industries.  I would prefer a married man for this type of work.

Please let me know if you require any further information.


Kim Ruru




2.1POSITION SOUGHT, received 16.3.2005

Man, aged 41, experience in Production,Engineering, Security, and
Furniture, seeks position.
Available Immediately.

Rob Hardy on 091-949625
04-305440 (phone/fax).
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Zim Online

Police watch as villagers are force-marched to Mugabe rallies
Fri 18 March 2005
      MANICALAND PROVINCE - Police stood by as violence flared up here as
ruling ZANU PF party and President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai began a blitz on the province to garner votes barely two
weeks before the March 31 election.

      ZANU PF activists and the controversial government-trained youth
militias beat up suspected supporters of Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party and force-marched entire villages to rallies
addressed by Mugabe here.

      The President on Wednesday addressed rallies in Chipinge, 123km south
of the provincial capital city of Mutare and at Marange, about 40 km from
Mutare. Mugabe yesterday also addressed a rally at Chigodora, a rural
business centre on the outskirts of Mutare. Tsvangirai descends on
Manicaland tomorrow.

      Before Mugabe's rallies at Marange and Chigodora, a ZimOnline team
tracking the President witnessed people suspected of backing the MDC being
harassed and beaten up by ZANU PF activists.

      At Chigodora, our news crew saw, ZANU PF activists and youth militias
reportedly bussed in from Mutare scouring surrounding villagers ordering
everyone to attend Mugabe's rally. MDC officials in Manicaland province said
people were similarly attacked and force-marched to Mugabe's rally at

      "The harassment started at the weekend when word filtered that Mugabe
was coming here," a visibly frightened villager here at Chigodora said.

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment
last night on why the police, who since the beginning of the year have
arrested both ZANU PF and MDC activists for political violence, stood by
while opposition supporters and ordinary villagers were being harassed here.
Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba could also not be reached for comment on
the matter.

      MDC Manicaland provincial spokesman Pishai Muchauraya said his party
was going to raise the harassment of its supporters with various election
observer missions that have now arrived in the country.

      "What is worrying is that it has become a pattern that our supporters
are harassed whenever Mugabe addresses a rally here. It then seems to us as
if Mugabe himself endorses such election violence," he said.

      At yesterday's rally at Chigodora, Mugabe criticized the local
community for deserting him and ZANU PF when they voted for the MDC and
Tsvangirai in the 2000 and 2002 elections.

      "What has happened to you revolutionary Manicaland?" Mugabe
rhetorically asked. He continued: "Why have you turned your back against me
for the MDC and the whites? Have you forgotten that you contributed the most
to the liberation struggle?"

      Manicaland along the border with Mozambique, which served as the rear
base for Mugabe's ZANLA guerillas during Zimbabwe's 1970s war of
independence, bore the brunt of that brutal war.

      But the province has appeared more sympathetic to the opposition out
of the five provinces dominated by Mugabe's Shona speaking tribe. The
southern Matabeleland provinces inhabited by the Ndebele tribe largely back
the MDC.

      Another villager who spoke to ZimOnline after the rally, gave an
insight into why some here might have turned their back on Mugabe. He said:
"Politics of the liberation struggle is not good enough when the belly is
empty." - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

MDC complains to SADC over role of military in poll
Fri 18 March 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
has raised concern with Southern African Development Community (SADC)
election observers that the military, known for its strong loyalty to
President Robert Mugabe, will run the country's upcoming election.

      SADC observer mission head Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told journalists in
Harare that the MDC had also complained that it was being denied fair access
to public radio and television in violation of a regional protocol on free
and fair elections.

      The opposition party, which insists the political playing field is
still heavily tilted against it, also protested that it was being denied
free access to the voters' roll to be used in the March 31 poll, according

      "They (MDC) also raised concern over access to the voters' roll and
that most returning officers had been recruited from the army and police,"
Mlambo-Ngcuka told journalists in Harare yesterday.

      But Mlambo-Ngcuka, who is also South Africa's Minerals and Energy
Affairs Minister, said the ruling ZANU PF party had emphatically denied the
opposition claims during talks between the party and her mission.

      The SADC chief observer said the MDC had also complained to her
mission about statements by South African government observer mission chief,
Membathisi Mdladlana, that the election will be free and fair.

      But she said her mission had refused to interfere or act as an
intermediary between the opposition party and Pretoria's observers. The MDC
has refused to meet Mdladlana and his observer delegation accusing them of
prejudging the ballot and only concerned with legitimising victory by Mugabe
and ZANU PF.

      Under the SADC protocol signed by regional leaders including Mugabe
last August, independent commissions must run elections while electoral laws
and processes must be fair and transparent. All contesting parties must have
equal and fair access to state-owned radio and television, the only means to
reach out to voters in remoter parts in most SADC countries.

      The Zimbabwe election is viewed as a test of whether SADC will hold
Mugabe to the regional elections protocol. The poll is being held under
intense international scrutiny amid concerns that it might not be free and

      But Mugabe has invited SADC and its member states, Russia, China and
African friendly developing countries and organisations to officially
observe the poll. The European Union, United States and SADC Parliamentary
Forum, who all criticised Mugabe's controversial re-election in 2002 have
been barred from the election.

      Mlambo-Ngcuka said her mission's final report will be based on daily
reports drawn from its activities and will focus on "whether prevailing
conditions and the conduct of elections gave the citizens of Zimbabwe a
chance to vote freely and fairly." - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Mugabe undermining Electoral Court, say lawyers
Fri 18 March 2005
  HARARE - A scathing attack by President Robert Mugabe this week against
the newly established Electoral Court will only help undermine the
independence of the court and the judiciary at large, constitutional lawyers
and the opposition have said.

      The Electoral Court was set up earlier this year to adjudicate on all
electoral disputes. Section 64 of the Electoral Act does not allow appeals
against the court's decisions. Mugabe on Wednesday publicly lambasted the
Electoral Court Justice Tendai Uchena, describing his decision to allow
jailed opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party legislator, Roy
Bennett, to contest the upcoming election as "madness."

      The President said the government will appeal against Uchena's ruling
and ordered his ZANU PF party to ignore the court ruling. University of
Zimbabwe constitutional law lecturer Lovemore Madhuku said Mugabe's
utterances were inflammatory and disrespectful of the courts.

      "Mugabe was not a party to the court application so why is he
interfering with court decisions which do not involve him directly? This is
unconstitutional and can lead to his impeachment," said Madhuku, who is also
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly that campaigns for a new
and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe.

      Prominent Harare lawyer and former Law Society of Zimbabwe president
Stenford Moyo, described as "unfortunate" statements against the Electoral
Court attributed to Mugabe.

      Moyo warned that use of intemperate language against judges and the
courts, "may undermine the independence and authority of the judiciary to
the detriment of the due administration of justice and observance of the
rule of law."

      "One can only express the hope that an appropriate intervention by the
Chief Justice, Attorney General and Minister of Justice will take place in
order to minimise the negative impact of the remarks on the due
administration of justice," the respected Moyo said.

      In a surprise judgment, Uchena postponed the election in Chimanimani,
where Bennet wants to contest, to allow the opposition parliamentarian time
to campaign.

      Bennett is in jail after ruling ZANUN PF party members used their
superiority in numbers to commit him to prison for violently shoving Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa during debate in Parliament last May.

      Nomination Court officials had turned down his nomination papers for
Chimanimani, where he is sitting Member of Parliament saying he could not
contest an election from jail. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Commission failed to educate voters, says pressure group
Fri 18 March 2005
  HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has done little to
educate voters on their rights ahead the country's month-end parliamentary
election, according to a report by the National Constitutional Assembly
released yesterday.

      Voter education had taken place in only 25 percent of the
constituencies that were sampled, the NCA said in the report.

      The NCA is a coalition of churches, human rights and pro-democracy
groups, women's organisations, opposition parties and the students and
labour movements. It campaigns for a new and democratic constitution for
Zimbabwe and is opposed to the holding of the March 31 poll saying a new
constitution is needed first to ensure a truly free and fair election.

      The NCA report reads in part: "Voter education is extremely low, only
25 percent of the constituencies sampled reported voter education taking
place, and in those constituencies where voter education has taken place,
this has usually been by the political parties. . . it must be stressed that
voter education is now under the control of ZEC, and reports to date suggest
that it is seriously deficient in this aspect of its duties."

      Under new electoral laws, only the government-appointed ZEC is
permitted to carry out voter education. But the commission hastily appointed
at the beginning of the year lacks resources or enough staff to carry out a
nationwide campaign to educate voters.

      Before the new regulations, non-governmental organisations had carried
out most voter education work.

      Besides the lack of enough voter enlightenment, the political playing
field remained uneven rendering a free and fair poll at the month-end
impossible, NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said during presentation of the
report to representatives of diplomatic missions in Zimbabwe.

      "The report is based on what is happening on the ground and not what
one says from Pretoria. Unless South Africa would want us to believe that
the irregularities pointed in this report are acceptable in Zimbabwe and not
in South Africa and elsewhere," Madhuku said referring to claims by South
African President Thabo Mbeki that Zimbabwe's election will be free and
fair. - ZimOnline.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Court reserves judgment on Kuruneri bail appeal

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-18

THE Supreme Court yesterday reserved judgment in an appeal against a High
Court ruling denying bail to the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development Chris Kuruneri.
Sitting as an appeal court, the Supreme Court heard submissions that the
lower court's judgment delivered by Justice Charles Hungwe last month was
It also heard that Kuruneri would be brought for trial next month.
In dismissing Kuruneri's application for bail, Hungwe said the minister
could not be trusted because he held dual citizenship-Canadian and
However, Kuruneri's lawyer George Chikumbirike said Hungwe's judgment was
contradictory, in that the one delivered orally was different from the
written one, which the Supreme Court was relying on.
As a result, he added, the judgment had resulted in two contradictory
statements, one noting that the finance minister had been detained for a
long time without being brought to trial, which compels release, and the
other to the contrary.
"The judgment which we listened to is not the one which came as the written
one. Unfortunately, I am afraid that I may not be able
to prove my case as the verbal judgment was not on tape," said Chikumbirike.
The lawyer also added that the High Court judge had misdirected himself as
he dealt with the issue of dual citizenship, which was not before him.
Further, he argued, previous judgments had ruled that dual citizenship was
not the issue at hand.
Prior to that, the court had to adjourn for more than four hours as the
appeal judges, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and justices Florence
Ziyambi and Luke Malaba had been supplied with the wrong court records.
This resulted in the judges initially thinking that they were presiding over
an appeal of Justice Chinembiri Bhunu's judgment as opposed to Hungwe's.
Morgen Nemadire of the Attorney General's Civil Division appeared for the
Kuruneri has been in remand prison since last April on charges of foreign
currency externalisation and holding dual citizenship.
The minister has another constitutional case before the court in which he is
contending that the State's delay to bring him for trial was in violation of
his rights.
It was supposed to be heard yesterday but his lawyer opted for it to be
decided when the appeal case has been concluded.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Bulawayo tariff, rates freeze will hit services

From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo
issue date :2005-Mar-18

THE decision by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing to freeze rate and tariff increases proposed by the Bulawayo City
Council in its 2005 budget will seriously affect the local authority's
service delivery, a senior council official said yesterday.
Addressing journalists at the bi-monthly Bulawayo City Council media
briefing, the city's treasurer Middleton Nyoni said the move by the
government had forced council to review its operations.
Nyoni said that while the council had proposed a $775 billion budget to the
ministry for approval, the government instructed council to peg its fiscus
at $469 billion against an estimated expenditure of $515 billion, leaving it
with a deficit of $46 billion.
"As the public might know, we came up with a budget of $775 billion that was
formulated after wide consultation with various stakeholders throughout the
city of Bulawayo.
"We wanted to ensure that the budget was people-oriented and that is what we
did exactly until we sent the budget for approval by the ministry," Nyoni
He added that the council was shocked to find out that the ministry could
not approve
the budget and were instead told that it had been revised downwards.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Election Watch

issue date :2005-Mar-18

Zanu PF Mashonaland West

ZANU PF held two campaign meetings at Chirundu Sugar Estate and at Chirundu
Business Centre in Kariba constituency.  The party's provincial chairman,
John Mafa, politburo member Ignatius Chombo and its candidate for the
constituency Jonathan Shumbayaonda Chandengenda addressed the meetings.
The three urged the people to rally behind Zanu PF.  They chronicled the
achievements of the Zanu PF government as well as articulating the party's
election's manifesto.

Mashonaland Central

Zanu PF candidate for Shamva Nicholas Goche held three campaign meetings on
March 14 at Mupfure, Mufurudzi, and Nyarukunda. Addressing the meetings
Goche narrated the Zanu PF government's achievements since independence.
He promised that the government would embark on a massive irrigation
programme in rural areas.
Goche declared that the government would not allow anyone to starve and
urged people to keep grain reserves in normal seasons to avoid the begging
He donated 10 tonnes of maize, $32m towards youth projects, refurbishment of
the local Salvation Army and Catholic churches, as well as 200 bags of
cement towards projects at Mupfure Primary and Secondary schools.

Mashonaland East

Zanu PF held a series of meetings in the province on March 14: New-way Hotel
in Goromonzi addressed by Herbert Murerwa; and Murehwa District Council
offices in Murehwa North, addressed by David Parirenyatwa.
Other meetings were held at Caledonia Farm in Seke addressed by Phinias
Chihota; Wiltshire Farm, Mbowe Business Centre, Majumba Business Centre,
Machoyi Cattle Sales pens, Charter Estates Headquarters, all in Chikomba,
addressed by Tichaona Jokonya; and at Chiparahwe farm and Igava country club
in Marondera
 East addressed by Sydney Sekeramayi.
The general theme in the addresses centred on the articulation of the party's
manifesto and the exposure of the MDC as a front for imperialism.  The MDC
was castigated for inviting sanctions against the country, for championing
imperialist interests and for harbouring intentions to return land to former
white owners.

Matabeleland North

Zanu PF candidate for Hwange East Thokozile Mathuthu addressed three rallies
in the constituency at Mwemba Hall, Chunga, and Mosi-oa-tunya Secondary
In her address at Mwenda Hall, Mathuthu blasted the MDC for failing to
develop the constituency since 2000.
She called upon people in the constituency to unite and vote overwhelmingly
for Zanu PF. She told the meeting that despite the fact that Jacob Mudenda
was suspended from the party, he was still giving her moral support.


The MDC held a rally
at Gate Business Centre in Chimanimani constituency.  Prosper Mutseyami, the
MDC Provincial vice-chairman and the party's candidate Heather Bennett
addressed the meeting.
 In his address, Mutseyami applauded the Sadc guidelines and principles
governing the conduct of elections for affording the MDC an opportunity to
campaign freely.
Bennett charged that the Zanu PF government incarcerated her husband Roy
Bennett for his commitment to bringing democratic change to Zimbabwe.  She
appealed for the electorate to vote for her.

Matabeleland South

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on March 14 addressed two rallies in the
province at Ntepe Business Centre in Gwanda constituency and at Dulibadzimu
Stadium in Beitbridge constituency.
In his address Tsvangirai articulated the MDC manifesto and promised to
compensate all victims of the Gukurahundi era if the MDC is voted into
Still in the province, the party's candidate for Matobo constituency
Lovemore Moyo held a campaign rally at Dewe Business Centre.  In his
address, Moyo appealed to the electorate to vote for the MDC for a brighter


Aaron Chinhara addressed two rallies at Muchakata Business Centre and
Simba Business Centre in Gokwe on March 13, whilest another rally at
Drefontein Mission in Chirumanzu constituency was held the following day.
On the same day a rally was held at Chapewa Business Centre in Zhombe
addressed by MDC secretary General Welshman Ncube.
 In his address Ncube accused Zanu PF of lacking new ideas and was instead
blaming Tony Blair for all the country's difficulties.
 He acknowledged that the government had complied with Sadc electoral
guidelines adding that the MDC would only blame itself if it lost the
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Technical fault blamed for Harare water woes

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-18

THE Harare City Council has blamed the current water shortages in some
residential suburbs in the capital and surrounding towns on a technical
fault at its Morton Jaffray Water Treatment plant.
A statement from the city's public relations department on Wednesday read in
part: ".due to a technical fault at the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment
Works, water shortages and poor pressures are being experienced in some
Areas affected by water shortages include the high-density suburbs of
Mabvuku and Tafara and dormitory towns of Norton, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and
Some residents in Mabvuku and Tafara have gone for five days without water
as city fathers continue to grapple with the problem. Harare has been facing
water shortages since last year due to its antiquated water
treatment plants and failure to procure water treatment chemicals abroad
timeously as a result of scarce foreign currency.
The government has since directed the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(Zinwa) to take over the supply of water to Harare and its satellite towns
due to the incessant problems Harare City Council faced in providing a
regular supply of clean water to ratepayers.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Government accused of inviting biased observers

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-18

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Supervisory Network has raised concern over the
failure by the government to invite a significant number of international
civic groups to observe the parliamentary election to be held on March 31.
ZESN chairman, Reginald Matchaba-Hove told a press conference on Tuesday
that government had invited groups that were unlikely to produce adverse
reports on the elections.
"Out of the external observers, there are very few civic groups. They have
invited mainly countries, parliaments and other government institutions,
while many civic groups like the Sadc Parliamentary Forum, which has done a
lot of work on electoral reforms have been left out," Matchaba-Hove said.
He added: "Governments will always make their statements but they will
always do them in a diplomatic manner. We have said that we would have
wanted more civic groups to observe the elections."
The government barred the Sadc Parliamentary Forum from observing the
elections saying it was not in the structures of Sadc.
The grouping produced an adverse report of the highly controversial 2000
parliamentary elections that Zanu PF narrowly beat the then nine-month-old
Government invited observers from at least 32 countries with Russia being
the only European country that was invited.
Besides the international civic groups, government also invited 29 civic
groups that it deemed "non-partisan" and excluded the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) because it was alleged to be too partisan and political.
In a statement inviting the local observers on Tuesday the Minister of
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa said: "In
extending invitations to observe the forthcoming general election, a
principle that I have had to observe is not to invite organisations which
already have biased and preconceived ideas about the outcome of the
elections to be held on March 31 2005."
He added that because of that reason, the ZCTU had not been invited to be
part of the observers.
Matchaba-Hove also mourned the delay by the government in inviting local
observers saying this would give them little time to observe adequately the
pre-election period.
He, however, welcomed some of the electoral reforms that have been
initiated, but said they were more comfortable with having one
constitutional body running the elections.
Currently the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), the Delimitation
Commission, the Registrar General and the recently established Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) run elections.
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