ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party will not be
able to rely on the support of the country's war veterans in its March 31
election, a group of the country's war veterans said
The Zimbabwe Liberators' Platform consists mainly of
former fighters who fought under Mugabe to depose the apartheid-style
government of Ian Smith during the 1980s.
But the organisation is
now disillusioned by Mugabe, who has been president since 1987, and has
spoken out against the corruption, mismanagement and social ruin brought on
the country by Zanu (PF).
The war veterans "no longer want to support
Mugabe", war veteran Wilfred Mhanda told a press briefing in Johannesburg
"There is no basis for legitimacy. Zimbabwe faces a social
and economic crisis," he said.
Mhanda said that while the war
veterans were a source of support for Mugabe in previous elections, "they
won't play a major role this time".
Mugabe's war veterans achieved
notoriety when, frustrated by the slow pace of land reform, they began
seizing white-owned farms in the late 1990s. Mugabe's government, eager to
keep their support, condoned the move, even as it descended into little more
than a land grab for many who had not fought in the liberation war against
Mhanda said yesterday that Mugabe had "masterminded this
process", manipulating the war veterans to ensure that government leaders
got their hands on the land.
"Zanu (PF) needed a smokescreen. The
political chiefs ended up as beneficiaries while many of the war veterans
were (later) evicted from these farms."
He said the land grab was
an exercise in "self-enrichment" by Mugabe's government that ultimately did
little to change the lot of war veterans.
former war veterans not aligned to the group echoed these sentiments.
"Mugabe has to go. It's getting embarrassing," said one who did not want to
be named for fear of reprisals.
Meanwhile, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday accused the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation of refusing to flight its adverts in the lead up to the
"They have only showed a four-minute package of the launch
of our manifesto last week, but then aired a two-hour interview with
President Robert Mugabe," said MDC information officer Ngqabutho
Dube said it was becoming "more clear every day that there
won't be free and fair elections, but we are determined to go to the polls
because this is the mandate from the people".
Alliance leader Tony Leon said yesterday he would address the European
Parliament tomorrow on the prospects of a free and fair poll in Zimbabwe,
and what should be done if it was rigged again.
March 2002 election, 17 of 28 observer missions declared that the elections
were not free and fair - with the Southern African Development Community
parliamentary forum highly vocal in its criticism.
Moyo given 48 hours to vacate villa Tue 1 March 2005
HARARE - The government wants former information minister and propaganda
chief Jonathan Moyo to vacate immediately a state-owned villa or be forcibly
Ministry of Local Government permanent secretary
David Munyoro wrote to Moyo last Friday evening giving the former propaganda
tsar 48 hours to surrender the keys to the house in Harare's top of the
range Gunhill suburb, where he has lived with his family for the past five
years since joining the government.
Moyo only survived eviction
after filing an urgent application at the High Court the next day on
Saturday pleading with the court to bar his forced removal because he had
nowhere else to relocate his family within the short notice. The matter has
been set down for this morning before Justice Tedious
Munyoro's letter, written barely 24 hours after
President Robert Mugabe had labelled Moyo "enemy number one" during a
top-level ZANU PF meeting earlier on Thursday, reads in part: "I regret to
advise that you are to vacate the villa with immediate effect. You are aware
of the circumstances surrounding your occupation of villa 14262
"Handover of the keys to my ministry should be done by/or
before 1600 hrs on Sunday 27 February 2005."
In papers filed at
the High Court, Moyo, who ironically spent most of his time in the last
three years zealously defending the state's illegal eviction of white
farmers, pleads with the court to bar the government from forcing him out of
the Gunhill house saying the move would be illegal.
wrote in his court papers: "The said eviction of the applicant is illegal
and without a court order and if allowed to proceed will cause great
inconvenience and prejudice and therefore irreparable harm.'
said he had rushed to court without serving papers to the Local Government
Ministry in a desperate bid to block the eviction. "I have not had time to
serve this application on the respondent due to the imminence of the
eviction which if effected would cause undue complications and hardships of
an irreparable nature to both my family and me," he wrote.
said he was aware that since his dismissal by Mugabe two weeks ago, benefits
that came with his job as information minister also fell away. He said he
phoned Munyoro on February 21 advising him that he would vacate the
government house at the end of next month.
According to Moyo, the
local government secretary told him he was by law entitled to a three-month
notice before vacating the house. He said Munyoro also told him to formally
write to the ministry advising it that he would be leaving the villa in
three months time after which the government official would confirm the
mutually agreed arrangement to Moyo in writing.
But to his
surprise, says Moyo in his court papers, Munyoro only wrote back to him on
February 25 giving him until the next Sunday to leave the government
property or risk being kicked out.
"I believe that I am still
entitled to my basic right to relocate on reasonable notice which at law
stands at three months as verbally confirmed by Mr Munyoro over the
telephone interview on 21st of February 2005.
"I have no place to
which I can relocate my family at such short notice which notice is also
illegal," Moyo tells the court.
Addressing ZANU PF's inner
politburo cabinet earlier last week a visibly angry Mugabe, according to
those who attended the meeting, told the key committee that Moyo was now the
party's top most enemy.
Mugabe also ordered party political
commissar Elliot Manyika to use whatever "resources and strategy" necessary
to ensure Moyo's independent bid to return to Parliament fails.
Once one of Mugabe's closest and most powerful confidantes, Moyo fell out
with the Zimbabwean leader when he secretly attempted to block the
appointment of Joyce Mujuru as second vice-president of ZANU PF and
Mugabe fired Moyo from the politburo and
blocked his election into ZANU PF's central committee for attempting to
scuttle Mujuru's rise, while senior leaders of the party in Matabeleland
North province blocked him from representing the party in his rural
Tsholotsho home constituency.
Moyo was finally fired from the
government after he opted to stand in Tsholotsho as an independent. -
Economists warn of sharp price hikes after election Tue 1
March 2005 HARARE - Zimbabweans must brace up for sharp increases in prices
of every commodity once the government lifts an artificial barrier on prices
after the March 31 general election, economists and the opposition said this
They said the government has kept a lead on prices of key
commodities such as fuel and electricity in a desperate bid to curry favour
with a disgruntled electorate ahead of the parliamentary poll.
But the authorities will inevitably allow fuel companies and the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to hike prices and tariffs once and if
they are re-elected later this month which analysts said would touch off
price increases across the board.
Food shortages expected to worsen
in coming months because of below-par farm production again this season will
only help exacerbate the situation, said Tendai Biti, who is main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party economic affairs shadow
"Push will come to shove when the food shortages roost
around May as a result of the bad agricultural season. Zimbabweans must
brace for tough times after the election because that is when the real
economy will be allowed to manifest itself," Biti said.
opposition official spoke as continued depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar
on both the official and illegal black-market exerted renewed upward
pressure on prices of fuel and across other downstream economic
The local unit has in the past two months fell by a
cumulative 24 percent against a basket of six major trading partner
currencies comprising the United States dollar, British pound, the Euro and
Botswana pula among others.
The Zimbabwe dollar's loses have
hit hard fuel companies who import on hard currency forcing the oil
merchants to increase prices by 8.3 percent early last week in order to
But the oil firms were late last week forced to roll
back the price hike under pressure from the government which feared the move
could trigger off increases across the economy endangering its chances in
this month's poll.
In correspondence to members hinting it was
acting under pressure from the government, the Petroleum Marketers of
Zimbabwe (PMZ) wrote: "Your actions of increasing the pump prices are, inter
alia, contrary to central bank's (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) economic
turnaround strategy and will tarnish the government's image ahead of the
The central bank has championed government
efforts to keep prices down which it says will help bring Zimbabwe's
inflation from 133.6 percent in January to between 20 and 30 percent by
year-end, a target economists say is unachievable given the expected price
increases after the election.
The bank also forced the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) earlier this year to hold back a
proposed 60 percent increase in power tariffs.
economic analyst John Robertson said the government's politically-motivated
solutions to economic questions were going to backfire.
Inflation will continue to rise to about 200 percent by mid-year and 300
percent towards year-end because of massive loss of savings and exports.
Prices of goods will also rise steeply and many more of Zimbabwe's already
struggling businesses will find it harder to survive after March 31,
"The government is becoming a victim of its bad
policies because all along it has been trying to provide political answers
to economic questions which do not sustain economic growth," said Robertson.
He added: "Prices are going to rise very steeply and it is going to be
challenging for businesses to survive."
Neither central bank
governor Gideon Gono nor acting Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa could be
reached for comment on the matter. But the two have in the past insisted
that Zimbabwe's crisis-sapped economy was turning around the corner on the
road to full recovery.
Once one of the most vibrant in Africa,
Zimbabwe's economy hit rock bottom after chaotic and often violent
government land reforms destabilised the mainstay agriculture sector,
slashing down production by about 60 percent.
Mugabe's failure to uphold the rule of law, human rights and democracy saw
key donor and development partners ostracising Zimbabwe, while the
international Monetary Fund also cut balance-of-payments support to compound
the country's economic problems. - ZimOnline
State broadcaster to flight MDC adverts Tue 1 March
2005 HARARE - The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings is now accepting Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party political adverts after blacking out the
opposition party for the last five years.
MDC spokesman Paul
Themba Nyathi told ZimOnline that the state-owned company, which runs the
country's only radio and television station, had allocated the party 91
minutes to air out its policies on television and radio.
move is part of efforts by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF
party to show that they are complying with a Southern African Development
Community (SADC) protocol on free and fair elections.
"We have 91
minutes of advertising on radio, 91 minutes on television and we are allowed
five adverts a day. We are paying for these adverts," Nyathi said.Zimbabwe
holds a key parliamentary election on March 31.
Under the SADC
protocol, all political parties must have access to the public media. An
independent commission must also run elections while the rule of law and
human rights must be observed during elections.
The MDC says Mugabe
has half-heartedly implemented the regional protocol saying a new Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission appointed to run the March ballot lacks independence
because its chairman was appointed by the President. - ZimOnline
High Court to rule on jailed MP's bid for freedom Tue 1
March 2005 HARARE - The High Court will next week rule on whether jailed
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party legislator Roy Bennett
should be released from prison.
Justice Bharat Patel, who heard
an application by Bennett in which the legislator is arguing that his
continued incarceration was illegal, told the parliamentarian's lawyers that
he was going to rule on the matter early next week.
has reserved judgment but he says he will strive to make a judgment early
next week," said Harare advocate Eric Matinenga, who is representing
Bennett, the only white rural MP, was jailed for an
effective one year by Parliament last October for misconduct after he
violently shoved Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa during
Ruling ZANU PF party members used their superiority in
numbers to send Bennett to jail under the Parliamentary Privileges and
Immunities Act which empowers the House to discipline or even jail its
But the law only allows members to be committed to prison
only for the duration of the Parliament that found them guilty. The current
parliament ends on March 30 to pave way for a new House to be elected the
Bennett says his imprisonment should therefore
end on March 30 and if a third of his sentence was knocked for good behavior
in terms of the Prisons Act, he should have been out of jail on February 7.
Zimbabwe threatens to kick out Rwandese refugees Tue 1
HARARE - Zimbabwe has threatened to kick out Rwandese
refugees resisting a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR)-run voluntary repatriation exercise.
Minister Paul Mangwana said UNCHR officials have, in last ditch efforts to
convince the 4 500 refugees to return home, taken a select group of the
Rwandese back to their home country so they could see for themselves that it
was now peaceful and safe.
The group will be returned to Zimbabwe
to help convince their fellow refugees that they could go back
Mangwana said that if the plan failed, then Harare would have
no choice but to "forcibly repatriate" the refugees, most of whom belong to
Rwanda's majority but powerless Hutu tribe.
He said: "The UNHCR
is on a confidence building exercise. They have taken a couple of refugees
to Rwanda to see that it is now safe to return. These refugees will then
come to report to their colleagues what they would have seen back home. But
if this fails, we will have no choice but to forcibly repatriate
The Rwandese fled to Zimbabwe after the 1994 genocide in
their country that left one million minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus
They are refusing to return home saying the Tutsi-dominated
Rwandese government was targeting Hutu professionals for harassment accusing
them of having participated or helped in the 1994 mass murders.
A fact-finding mission including independent human rights organisations that
concluded several months ago that Rwanda was now a safe country appears to
have done little to move the Hutu refugees.
law, host countries cannot expel asylum seekers back to their home countries
if they face threats to their lives there. However, last year, Uganda and
Tanzania expelled Rwandese refugees. - ZimOnline
Heath Streak rushed to South Africa Tue 1 March 2005
JOHANNESBURG - Ex-Zimbabwe skipper Heath Streak has been rushed to South
Africa to try and save face for the tourists tomorrow in the last of the
three-match one-day international series the tourists already trail
Streak last Friday marked his return to national duty after a
year-long rebellion by senior white players when he agreed a new contract
with Zimbabwe Cricket.
All-rounder Andy Blignaut, who also
abandoned the rebellion by signing a new deal last week, is also likely to
feature for Zimbabwe in tomorrow's academic fixture in Port
"Streak and Blignaut have been flown to South Africa and
they are likely to be played in Wednesday's one-dayer," a Zimbabwe Cricket
official who did not want to be named told ZimOnline yesterday.
Zimbabwe chief selector Macsood Ebrahim was not available for comment
yesterday, but he indicated at the weekend that Streak and Blignaut's return
to the national team was imminent if their fitness was
Blignaut was soon after signing his contract last
Tuesday rushed to Kwekwe where Zimbabwe "A" were facing Bangladesh "A" in a
Efforts to get in touch with Streak proved
fruitless yesterday but a relative who picked the phone at his home said the
star all-rounder had left for "cricket in South Africa".
Fifteen white players walked out on national duty to protest Streak's
dismissal as team captain after querying a selection policy they viewed as a
racially-biased quota system.
Zimbabwe were suspended from
playing Tests in July last year as they could not field a competitive side
until their tour of Bangladesh in January. But losing both the Test and
one-day international series against lowly Bangladesh compelled Zimbabwe
Cricket to woo back the rebels as quickly as possible.
Rogers and Gavin Ewing were however the first rebels to voluntarily abandon
the rebellion in December.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe might be relieved
South Africa will miss their inspirational captain Graeme Smith to injury in
tomorrow's final one-dayer.
Smith, who smashed 117 in the 131-run
defeat of Zimbabwe in Durban on Sunday, joins veterans Shaun Pollock,
Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis on the sidelines. However all four are
expected to be fit for the first Test that starts on Friday. - ZimOnline
Reporter THE Ministry of Mines and Mining Development is planning to dispose
of some of the mines under the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation
(ZMDC) after the latter failed to secure funds to resuscitate them, The
Herald Business can reveal.
The State-run mining corporation has been
battling to revive 10 of its closed operations in recent years but has
become unstuck due to a combination of inadequate funding and poor
Sources indicated that the decision to sell would now open
the doors to private investors who have been clamouring to take over the
"Plans are now underway to dispose some of the mines to
private investors because ZMDC has failed to secure enough funds to revive
the closed mines," said an official from the ministry who cannot be
"The ministry has realised that it was important to dispose of
some of the mines due to the high presence of mineral concentrate in some of
While this paper could not obtain the names of mines which have
been earmarked for disposal, the source hinted that only those mines with a
capacity to boost the country's foreign currency reserves would be
"Currently, the ministry is conducting consultations with
various stakeholders and legal procedures will obviously be followed before
implementing the initiative," said the source.
ZMDC was at one time
said to be engaged in talks with Iranian and Chinese firms who had shown
interest in resuscitating some of the closed mines.
However, it was not
yet clear whether the corporation would dispose the mines outright to the
potential investors or go into partnership, said the source.
three years since ZMDC mooted the idea of reviving the closed mines, but
nothing concrete has been achieved so far.
Mr Dominic Mubayiwa, the
corporation's chief executive, refused to discuss the issue saying he was
busy, while the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Ambassador Amos
Midzi, could not be reached for comment.
ZMDC was forced to close down
several of its mines over the last decade citing a hostile economic
environment including falling prices on the international
Some of the closed mines include Messina Trading Development
Corporation, Mhangura Mine, Lomagundi Smelting Mine and Elvington Gold Mine.
Most of these mines were closed down between 1994 and 2003.
Tourism authority launches marketing programme in
Business Reporter THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has
launched a marketing programme in China to take advantage of the Approved
Destination Status awarded to Zimbabwe by the Asian country.
Commission on China bringing together key players in the tourism industry
has been formed to spearhead the programme.
The programme has already
seen the authority holding workshops to appraise hotels on how to prepare
Chinese food in anticipation of an increase in tourist arrivals from that
The human resources director at the authority, Ms Mary-Anne
Situma, told Business Chronicle on Friday that an electronic brochure had
been launched in January to attract more tourists from Asia.
the programme, which would also cover other Asian nations, was meant to
exploit the ADS accorded to Zimbabwe by China last year.
programme is being pursued in China to sell Zimbabwe," said Ms
She said as the marketing programme begins to bear fruit,
there was need for Zimbabwe to prepare itself to cater for the Asian
In this regard, said Ms Situma, a training programme has been
launched for local hoteliers to give them tips on how to cater for the
The programme was launched in Harare last month and
moved to Bulawayo last week. Plans are afoot for a similar workshop in the
tourist resort town of Victoria Falls.
"What we are trying to do is
to equip facilities to cater for different needs of the Chinese. We are not
saying we will not serve our traditional foods but we are adding variety so
that people can choose," she said, adding that while the focus was on
Chinese food, other Asian countries would not be overlooked even though
there similarities in cuisine from the Far East.
She said the programme
was necessitated by the "Look East" policy which was promulgated in the face
of a decline in tourist arrivals from the traditional markets such as
Germany, the United Kingdom and United States due to negative publicity in
the Western media and some sections of the so-called local independent
Zimbabwe was accorded the coveted Approved Destination Status by
China in July last year.
Stakeholders in the tourism industry formed
a Joint Commission on China in December 2004 in response to the
The "Look East" policy has already started paying dividends
with tourist arrivals from the region going up. According to ZTA statistics,
visitors from Asia increased by nine percent in 2003. - Business
Reporters INFLATION has hit the funeral industry as thousands of
policyholders will not be able to get a decent burial following the decision
by a leading funeral concern to cancel policies that attract premiums below
$10 000 monthly.
Doves has since stopped deducting monthly premiums
below $10 000, citing viability problems.
The move looks set to
affect thousands of policyholders who joined the scheme years back and had
not had their premiums inflation-adjusted.
The minimum premium one is now
required to pay is $160 000 per month.
Some of the affected subscribers
have lost their jobs or are old and on retirement with low pension payments,
while others are low-income earners, making it difficult, if not impossible,
for them to review their monthly premiums upwards.
Those who took out
funeral policies over six years ago were paying amounts ranging between $70
and $300 monthly.
However, it now costs Doves an average of $5 000 to
access the premiums from the banks.
Most of the affected
policyholders obtained them several years ago when the company used to
operate as Doves Crocker Morgan before changing hands and its name and, in
some instances, they were covered for periods ranging between 10 and 15
Full benefit, according to some of the affected policyholders, was
around $10 000 and $15 000.
A statement issued by Doves Funeral
Assurance recently said owing to increases in debit order charges,
deductions for premiums below $10 000 would cease with immediate
The funeral directors urged all affected policyholders to contact
their nearest office to arrange alternative modes of payment.
avoid further erosion of policies, the company urged affected clients to pay
up their existing policies and take out its new breed of policies.
Doves official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said while the
undertakers had no choice but to conduct funerals for all policyholders as
per the initial agreement, it was wise for clients to review their
"We will bury all those with policies on our books but, as you
can see, we will be at a disadvantage," the official
Policyholders who spoke to The Herald, however, did not see it that
They accused Doves of making a "killing" out of their money
throughout the years and suddenly making a "U-turn".
Others said they
had seen instances when relatives of a policyholder who had died were made
to top up on what the deceased would have contributed over the
"They made money out of us all those years and now they want to
tell us about inflation.
"What does that have to do with us? I should
pay what I agreed to pay when I took out the policy and nothing
"Those who are taking out policies now are the ones that should be
told about inflation because when we took out ours, there was no such
"On the other hand, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon
Gono, has said inflation is on a downward trend and that should reflect on
the ground," said Ms Voila Chikwanha of Harare.
Ms Catherine Mtisi, said while she was aware that the $73 she was
contributing through a stop order facility was too little, she believed that
Doves should continue with that arrangement until the years stipulated in
the policy document lapse.
"My policy is for 10 years and after that
period has passed, they can tell me to review the policy -- not now," she
Hardest hit, however, are those who are no longer in employment
through job loss or retirement who said they were not sure what the latest
developments spelt for their future.
Some people said they had since
realised that insuring oneself against the unknown was a waste of money as
one ended up always getting a raw deal.
"I do not care about that (being
insured). When I die I will be buried, that is for sure -- funeral cover or
no cover. The money I have now is better spent on my family because these
insurance things do not work.
"There are many people who have been
disappointed after realising that what they thought they would get at the
end of the day is not what they eventually get at all," said one
Funeral cover has over the years made the burden of funeral
costs easier to manage.
Once a person took out a funeral policy they
were assured of dressing, a coffin as well as transport.
days of HIV and Aids where death has become common and frequent, funeral
cover used to spell the difference between headaches and peace of mind for
relatives of the deceased.
CAPE TOWN - Zimbabwe has to sort out its political problems
if it hoped to meet the Southern African Development Community's (SADC's)
regional economic integration targets, Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni
He said that Zimbabwean politics was having too
great an effect on the performance of its economy, which currently had an
inflation rate of 381,5%.
Zimbabwe is also facing an acute foreign
currency shortage as well as unemployment of more than 80%.
macroeconomic management also relies on a good political environment," he
The 13 SADC member countries have agreed to achieve single digit
inflation figures by 2008, 5% by 2012 and 8% by 2018, ahead of the creation
of a monetary union in 2016.
Convergence targets have also been set
on budget deficits, the nominal value of public debt, external reserves and
the central bank credit to government.
Milestones towards the achievement
of monetary union are a free-trade area by 2008; a customs union in 2010 and
a common market in 2015.
Mboweni said these agreements were legally
binding and "remedial measures" would have to be taken if countries failed
to meet their commitments.
A surveillance mechanism would have to be
created to monitor performance. "Quite clearly if we arrive at certain
stages and any of the countries have not achieved the required targets then
I am sure some decisions will have to be taken about how to get back into
the target range."
Mboweni told a media conference - following a meeting
between SADC central bank governors, European Central Bank president
Jean-Claude Trichet and executive board members to share experiences about
regional economic integration - that a spirit of "sisterhood and
brotherhood" would have to be developed to achieve the targets.
he cautioned that "sisterhood and brotherhood" had limits. It might be
necessary to resort to legal action to enforce the agreements, Mboweni
He said he hoped SADC countries would declare their commitment to
lower inflation publicly.
US hits Mugabe rights record before Zimbabwe
Tue March 1, 2005 8:06 AM GMT+02:00 By Andrew
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The United States on Monday accused
Zimbabwe's government of serious human rights abuses and said the country's
electoral process was skewed to ensure President Robert Mugabe's ruling
party remains in power.
In a report issued just a month before
Zimbabwe holds closely-watched parliamentary polls in March, the U.S. State
Department said Mugabe's government continued to limit basic rights such as
free speech over the past year while encouraging political violence against
"President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party used
intimidation and violence to maintain political power. A systematic,
government-sanctioned campaign of violence targeting supporters and
perceived supporters of the opposition continued during the year," the
department said in its annual human rights review.
frequently rejects Western criticism of his government's human rights
record, saying he is being targeted for retribution by opponents of his
policy of seizing white-owned farms to give to landless blacks.
veteran leader, who turned 81 this month and has been Zimbabwe's only leader
since independence from Britain in 1980, says his ZANU-PF party will win the
March 31 parliamentary polls fairly and dismisses the country's main
opposition party as a stooge of western racists.
The United States
-- which in the past has singled Zimbabwe out for criticism along with
countries such as North Korea and Iran -- said conditions in the southern
African country indicated a pattern of political repression.
"The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their
government peacefully; however this right was restricted in practice because
the political process continued to be heavily tilted in favour of ZANU-PF,"
the report said.
"The government manipulated the electoral
process to effectively disenfranchise voters and skew elections in favour of
ruling party candidates."
The report did say that the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) represented a "viable"
opposition in parliament and noted that the party's leader Morgan Tsvangirai
had been acquitted of treason charges last year.
But it further
noted that Tsvangirai -- who hopes to lead his party to a long-shot victory
in March -- still faced trial on in a second treason case stemming from his
political opposition to Mugabe.
The report listed a number of incidences of political
intimidation and violence over the past year, most of which it attributed to
ZANU-PF supporters who were often not prosecuted.
reports of three political killings, all of opposition supporters, and said
"army and police units participated in or provided logistical support to
perpetrators of political violence."
It also detailed a raft of
legislation it said are used to quash any challenges to government power
including tough media and security laws which limit press freedom and the
right to free political assembly.
Independent political analysts
have said they see a decrease in political violence in Zimbabwe this year
compared to prior elections in 2000 and 2002 -- both of which were won by
Mugabe's party amid charges of electoral fraud from the opposition and
several Western countries.
Mbeki 'would be booed' in Zim 01/03/2005 07:29 -
Cape Town - President Thabo Mbeki "would
be booed" in the streets of Zimbabwe if he were to join the ordinary people
and ask them what they feel about his silent diplomacy towards that country,
says the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube.
who is in South Africa for a meeting of a Catholic African forum to discuss
governance matters in the church - said that a "very different situation"
would have resulted in Zimbabwe if the land grab policies of Mugabe, which
saw hundreds of commercial farmers driven off the land, had occurred during
the presidency of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
straightforward and principled.
"He (Mandela) would not have backed this
... Mugabe's land grab because it did not empower the people, but he used it
just to keep in power.
"This has caused a lot of untold suffering. Three
to four million Zimbabweans have been displaced as a result of this. The
people don't know why Mbeki is supporting Mugabe. They don't understand
"There is 400% inflation right now, unemployment of some 80% and
two-thirds of girls have been forced out of school because of this
"There is continuing starvation in certain parts in the
country and food is being used as a political tool in certain
Speaking at a function at the Cape Town Club on Monday night, the
archbishop said Mbeki had failed to give appropriate leadership on the vexed
matter of Zimbabwe. "People of Zimbabwe have no respect for Mbeki," said
Ncube said that the upcoming parliamentary election on March 31
was already rigged with about two million votes in the bag for Mugabe. He
predicted that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change would get about
30 to 40 seats while the Zanu-PF of Mugabe would "win" 90 or so
However, Ncube said: "If there was a free and fair election
Zanu-PF would get 30% or less of the vote," he said.
Ncube said he
did not expect that violence would be obvious in the run-up to the election
and intimidation would be more low-key and less easy to report in the media.
Intimidation and violence were likely to take place at people's homes and
not in public.
Asked if the church had done enough to oppose the Mugabe
administration, he said the church was divided by Mugabe "who used a
strategy to buy certain churches and individual ministers and
In his own church, four of the bishops were critical of the
administration while four were not. A similar situation was the case in the
Anglican church in his country.
Initiatives by the Anglican
archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane, to appeal to Mugabe to talk
to the opposition in his country had failed.
'Not scared' to
He said many priests and ministers had been bribed - in return for
their silence - on human rights atrocities and government misdemeanours by
being offered farms. He, himself, had been offered one but had declined to
The archbishop said that Mugabe was "not interested" in
negotiating with the opposition or anyone else to resolve the political
impasse in the country.
Mbeki too had misguided the Zimbabwean people and
the world when he claimed that Mugabe's government had been engaged in talks
with the opposition. He described this as "a lie".
Ncube told I-Net
Bridge after the meeting: "Lately three Zimbabwean bishops did their level
best to get Mugabe to talk to the opposition.
"They did this... they saw
all the ambassadors in Zimbabwe and visited President Mbeki, Joaquim
Chissano (former president of Mozambique) and Bakili Muluzi (the then
President of Malawi) and (former Namibian President) Sam Nujoma and all to
"They have met with Zanu-PF 45 times and 41 times with the MDC
to bring about dialogue. It was to no avail because Mugabe is not interested
in talks and they want to stay in power by using the army and using lies,
rigging and cheating."
Ncube said he was "not scared to talk when
they (the Zimbabwean government) are doing so much evil".