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

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Keep your vote your secret

Your vote is your secret - but with the new transparent ballot boxes (they
are NOT translucent, as we were told, they are virtually transparent!) you
should FOLD YOUR BALLOT PAPER TWICE so that if it flips open when you drop
it inside, it will still remain folded once, so noone can see how you voted.

Please URGENTLY pass this information to EVERYONE you know.
Thank you.


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Africa Is Changing, But Not Zimbabwe
Madhuku is the only man to have beaten Mugabe.
By Peter Godwin
Newsweek International

March 28 issue - A month or so ago I found myself at a dinner in a New York loft with Lovemore Madhuku, a Zimbabwean pro-democracy activist (and head of the National Constitutional Assembly), who was here to collect the prestigious Northcote Parkinson Civil Courage Prize "for steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk." He and I share a common background. Both Zimbabweans, one black and one white, we grew up in the eastern highlands there, on the border with Mozambique. Both of us went to Cambridge University in England to study law.

Madhuku is a slight, straight-backed man in his mid-30s, softly spoken and self-effacing. He sat silently, smiling, while various guests debated the conduct of the recent U.S. elections. One guest, annoyed at having recently been stopped by police for bicycling the wrong way around Washington Square Park, lamented that America was becoming a police state. "Have you ever been arrested?" our hostess asked Madhuku, trying to coax him into the conversation. He cocked his head and thought for a moment. "Eleven—no, 12 times." Several resulted in torture. After the last one he was so badly beaten by pro-government thugs that he was left in the bush for dead. The table fell silent.
Madhuku is no firebrand. He is a law professor at the University of Zimbabwe who happens to believe in the transforming benefits of representative government. But as such he's considered a mortal threat to the 25-year regime of Zimbabwe's aged president, Robert Mugabe. Next week Zimbabwe goes to the polls. But if it were up to Madhuku, democratic agitator that he is, the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, would boycott the ballot, so grotesquely skewed is the electoral playing field. Zimbabwe enjoys almost none of the freedoms necessary for meaningful elections; it doesn't have freedom of the press, of assembly, of movement.
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The State - Carolina

Zimbabwe’s children pay price in politics of aid

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Zimbabwe’s children are paying the price of attempts to punish their government for its human rights violations, the head of UNICEF said last week.

Zimbabwe suffers the world’s fourth-highest HIV infection rate and has seen the sharpest rise in child mortality, yet receives just a fraction of the donor funding lavished on its neighbors, Carol Bellamy told reporters in Johannesburg.

Donors are concerned that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly autocratic regime would use any assistance for political purposes.

“Look for other ways to make your point,” Bellamy said. “Don’t take it out on the world’s children.”

Earlier last week, the London-based rights group Amnesty International said the state-run Grain Marketing Board continues to manipulate the distribution of food aid, denying opposition supporters access to corn, the staple for most Zimbabweans, in the run-up to March 31 parliamentary elections.

The campaign has seen accusations of violence and intimidation orchestrated by Mugabe’s party.

Bellamy, on her final African tour as UNICEF’s executive director, conceded that diversion of aid by the government was a concern in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere on the continent. But she said much of the help provided by UNICEF — including child-sized vaccine doses and school supplies — was not as easily abused as food aid.

Zimbabwe has been gripped by political and economic crisis since the government began seizing white-owned farms in an often-violent land redistribution program in 2000. It has also suffered the devastating effects of successive years of drought and the AIDS pandemic ravaging the continent.

One in every eight Zimbabwean children dies before the age of 5, a 50 percent increase since 1990, according to UNICEF figures.

With an estimated 26 percent of the country’s 12.5 million people infected with HIV, a child dies every 15 minutes from AIDS complications. One in five has lost one or both parents — 1 million of them because of AIDS.

Yet Zimbabwe has received no support from President Bush’s initiative on AIDS or the World Bank’s AIDS program for 2004-2005. And it has received only limited funds from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNICEF said.

Average spending by the three main donor initiatives in southern Africa, the region most devastated by the AIDS pandemic, is $74 per HIV-infected person. In Zimbabwe, it is just $4, it said.

Zimbabwe also receives less than a quarter of the development and other aid spent on Namibia and about 12 percent of that of Mozambique, according to World Bank estimates.

“There is no excuse for letting the children of this country suffer so dramatically without working harder to find solutions to help them,” Bellamy said.

Despite the dearth of funds, UNICEF said Zimbabwe is making progress in the fight to protect children.

The agency is helping communities provide support and counseling for 100,000 orphaned children and has helped the country achieve 95 percent national measles immunization coverage.

Zimbabwe is one of few countries with a National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, which includes a monitoring and evaluation plan, UNICEF said. It is also the only country in Africa which has instituted a tax — 3 percent — to mobilize resources to fight AIDS.

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A Despot Clings to Power
On the eve of elections, Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe is more vulnerable than ever.
By Tom Masland
Newsweek International

March 28 issue - As night falls, dance music rises from the rural beer hall. Nothing strange about that in backwater Africa, but a special vibe animates the small crowd in Tsholotsho, a market town in the arid cattle-herding region of western Zimbabwe. The same tune thumps out over and over. Its refrain: "Forward, Tsholotsho." Minutes later two sport utility vehicles pull up. A tall man in a leather Stetson hat emerges from one of the trucks, grinning widely. The crowd of about 50 men and women who had sat for hours drinking traditional beer shrieks out his name, "Jonathan!" Until a month ago, Jonathan Moyo was the government's hard-line Information minister. But after President Robert Mugabe sacked him in February, he quit the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Popular Front (ZANU-PF) party and is now running for Parliament as an independent. "We are victorious, without any doubt," an onlooker exclaimed. "This is history."

Such optimism may be premature. Most analysts believe that Mugabe will find a way to win the March 31 elections, ensuring that ZANU retains its parliamentary majority. By all accounts, there was egregious vote-rigging in the country's last two general elections—in 2000 and 2002, when Mugabe was re-elected president—and it's virtually a foregone conclusion that similar fraud will take place again. Mugabe enjoys running Zimbabwe; he's been doing so for 25 years. But he's also 80, xenophobic and obsessed with clinging to power. And that, as well as the disastrous policies that have come out of his preoccupation, is turning his own people against him.
Over the last five years, Zimbabwe's economy has contracted by as much as 35 percent and inflation has hit 600 percent. Hunger torments a country that once was an agricultural breadbasket for the region. People battle to find fuel; more than 3 million have fled to support their families with remittances. Mugabe's human-rights record, which includes the systematic use of beatings and torture, has compounded his problems. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heaped scorn on the president earlier this month, calling Zimbabwe an "outpost of tyranny." The United States has renewed targeted sanctions against the prickly president and some 80 of his cronies.
Hoping to regain some international credibility, Mugabe has loosened his repressive grip, if only temporarily. This campaign has been largely free of the violence and thuggish tactics that ZANU has used in the past to intimidate political opponents. But the more open political climate has only exposed how deeply unpopular and vulnerable Mugabe is. For the first time since independence from Britain in 1980, he's facing serious dissent within the core ranks of his party. Eight ZANU-PF members recently defected and are running for Parliament as independents. The revolt's epicenter is Tsholotsho, where Mugabe's former chief ideologue, the 48-year-old Moyo, retreated after the president fired him for daring to raise the succession issue. "The sooner he dies, the better," says Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, western Zimbabwe's capital. "He's a very, very evil man."
Mugabe's support has shrunk to a small circle of elderly ex-generals and spies from his tribal subclan. To win the elections, he may have to resort to even more blatant vote-rigging than in the past—at a time when people-power revolts in Ukraine and Lebanon have diminished the tolerance for such shenanigans. (Voter-registration rolls are no longer public record, and are said to contain thousands of dead people and double entries.) Even if Mugabe finds a way to come out on top, the question of how long he can last will be more pressing than ever.
Indeed, the opposition's sharpest criticism is that ZANU is out of step with the times. Moyo has criticized the party's leadership, meaning Mugabe, for "failing to keep up with society." In an interview earlier this month with the Zimbabwe Independent, he added: "If you look objectively at ZANU-PF now, you can't miss the conclusion that there is a marked unwillingness by those calling the shots to accept an alternative leadership." Perhaps more to the point, he noted that while former liberation parties in Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania have "realigned themselves with new political and social dynamics" in their respective countries, ZANU has not renewed itself. "It needs to reach out, open up," Moyo said.
Ironically, Zimbabwe's slide began five years ago when the country's political opposition first showed its clout. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)—a union-based organization led by a former truckdriver named Morgan Tsvangirai—helped turn back a referendum that would have greatly expanded Mugabe's powers. Later that year opposition candidates nearly toppled Mugabe's government in spite of widespread electoral fraud. Desperate, Mugabe went back to his roots as a ruthless guerrilla commander. He unleashed veterans of the liberation struggle, who began invading and then seizing white-owned farms—a land-redistribution program soon formalized in law. They also formed a youth militia that began terrorizing the countryside. Police and soldiers arbitrarily tortured and jailed anti-government activists; independent judges were hounded out of office. Yet Mugabe still needed a crude ruse to cling to power in the 2002 presidential election. Most voters in the cities, the MDC's power base, couldn't cast their ballots because of intentionally planned bottlenecks at the polls.
The government appropriated highly productive commercial farms in the name of helping the rural poor. But most of the farms were awarded to various Mugabe cronies—top ZANU loyalists, soldiers and police—and much of the land now lies fallow. As a result, Zimbabwe's farming output, which once accounted for nearly a third of GDP, has fallen by more than half in five years. In the countryside babies are dying. Foreign relief agencies stepped in to help—but the government two years ago banned them from distributing food aid and demanded they hand over their stocks. Mugabe gambled that the country's national Grain Marketing Board could keep people fed, but drought and falling yields have led to severe shortages of the staple, maize. While the board distributes emergency rations, rural residents say it often skips deliveries.
The food shortages have eroded support for the farm seizures and, more important, for ZANU-PF. "The people are angry, and Mugabe will pay dearly," says Themba, 34, a teacher in rural Shasha, west of Beitbridge. "When donor agencies were here, people were getting food for free, but now they are forced to pay, and they are blaming the government for impoverishing them." He and others say rural families often must beg from friends or survive for days on tiny rations of maize meal. The government says it has taken "strategic measures" to increase the food supply. Sources say the government is quietly buying U.S. dollars on the black market to buy foreign grain. The black-market exchange rate last week shot up from 10,000 to 14,000 to the dollar.
Opposition candidates have sought to press the advantage, campaigning vigorously on the theme that ZANU has failed the country. Tsvangirai, the longtime MDC leader, got a new lease on political life last year when he was acquitted of treason charges stemming from a government sting, in which an undercover agent tried to entrap him with talk of a coup against Mugabe. The MDC at first intended to boycott the elections, but subsequently opted to participate. Tsvangirai said the boycott idea was part of a political strategy aimed at bringing the maximum international pressure to bear on Mugabe.
That pressure has had some effect. Mugabe has repeatedly told South African President Thabo Mbeki that he was on the verge of retirement, but has always reneged on the promise. For his part Mbeki, a fellow liberation politician, has never pushed Mugabe very hard. But last August Zimbabwe did join other southern African nations in signing election protocols that call for clean elections free of intimidation and overseen by an independent judiciary.
Watchdog groups say Mugabe already has broken the new rules repeatedly. The government has held off accrediting the foreign press and has kept the number of foreign election observers to a minimum. But Mugabe does want to avoid the most blatant violations of the new protocols, and most MDC candidates this year move around freely in crucial rural districts. Three years ago that wasn't the case; the police created no-go zones in the run-up to the 2002 presidential polling that prevented MDC pols from campaigning. "If the elections are anything close to free and fair," says Tsvangirai, "then ZANU will lose power."
Of course, frustration with Mugabe and the state of the country was great in 2002 as well. The key this time could be the eight ZANU rebels, who are among 16 candidates running as independents. The unprecedented split in the ruling party occurred when Mugabe repeated his habit of sidelining anyone who raises the issue of presidential succession. Last November a dozen party officials talked strategy following a high-school awards ceremony in Moyo's stronghold, Tsholotsho. They agreed to back parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa for the party vice presidency—a post that would have put him in line to succeed Mugabe. When word of the meeting leaked, Mugabe sacked Moyo and every other official involved. The president then picked as his heir apparent Joyce Mujuro, a junior cabinet member whose primary qualification is her marriage to one of Mugabe's security chiefs and her membership in Mugabe's subclan of the Shona tribe. As a guerrilla, she fought under the nickname "Mrs. Spillblood."
By contrast Moyo earned a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in public administration at the University of Southern California, then worked for the Ford Foundation in Kenya and lectured at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He says he returned to Zimbabwe in 2000 to help Mugabe save ZANU-PF from collapse. "Last year President Robert Mugabe said we had defeated the external enemy led by Tony Blair and that we now had to deal with the internal enemy," he wrote in his election manifesto. "Zimbabweans fully agree with him. There cannot be a more sinister and more dangerous internal enemy than the tribal clique that wants to monopolize State power."
An independent bloc in Parliament could play havoc with Mugabe's autocratic rule. Mnangagwa, the passed-over speaker, plans to introduce a measure to permit secret voting on legislative bills. This would permit even ZANU-PF members to back measures introduced by the independents. The independents are also appealing to MDC members unhappy with Tsvangirai's high-handed style; he did not, for example, permit party primaries. "The need for a third political force is blowing and blowing very strong," says Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni, a former ZANU-PF spokesman, who coordinates the independents' campaigns. Both parties, he says, suffer from a "founder's syndrome" that blocks promising newcomers. Ndiweni calls for a new constitution that will include a two-term limit on the next president.
Mugabe, eager to rebuff the renegades, is campaigning very hard himself. He and Zimbabwe's two vice presidents plan to visit tiny Tsholotsho this week. Mugabe likely will repeat his stump speech—which seeks to link his opponents to Blair and other Western critics—and donate new computers to the local school. But he'll be hard put to persuade the 45,000 voters in Moyo's constituency to vote against him. While cabinet minister, Moyo built them a grain-marketing depot, installed city lighting and started a football team.
No one is sure what will happen after the elections. Mugabe could go back to the World Food Program and other donor groups to get more food into the country, and they would agree. Archbishop Ncube says only a people-power uprising can topple the dictator, but that Zimbabweans are "too easily intimidated, and Mugabe takes advantage of that." The president may unleash his attack dogs against dissidents such as Moyo. Outside the beer hall in Tsholotsho last week, a white Toyota pulled up and the driver questioned Moyo's cousin Elizabeth Spanda. "He said they are writing names and sending them to the president," she said. "He told me—we'll see you after the election." But Mugabe's old survival tactic—repression—may not be enough to protect him for much longer. People are unhappy, and they want the president to know it.
© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
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The Standard
Tsvangirai accuses ministers of fanning political violence
By Loughty Dube

BULAWAYO - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said despite relative peace in the run up to the elections in the country, constituencies being contested by cabinet ministers remained the most violent areas.

He said despite calls for peace by President Robert Mugabe, most cabinet ministers were still using intimidatory and underhand tactics against the electorate, especially the villagers in the rural areas.

"The general atmosphere countrywide is peaceful and in most constituencies our teams have been allowed to campaign without any incidents of violence, but there are constituencies where Mugabe's ministers are contesting. There, we have seen incidents of violence continuing," Tsvangirai told The Standard after addressing a rally in Beitbridge last week.

He cited Marondera West, Shamva, Bindura, Mberengwa East and West and Insiza constituencies - all being contested by Mugabe's cabinet ministers - as the most violent areas.

"We still have pockets of violence. There have been recorded cases of violence in Marondera East and West, Insiza, Mberengwa East, Shamva and in Bindura despite calls for a peaceful campaign by the Zanu PF leadership," Tsvangirai said.

Cabinet minister Elliot Manyika is contesting in Bindura while the deputy minister of Home Affairs, Rugare Gumbo is contesting in Mberengwa East constituency.

Youth and Gender Minister Ambrose Mutinhiri and Sydney Sekeramayi are contesting Marondera East and West respectively. Shamva is being contested by Minister of State for National Security, Nicholas Goche, while Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, Andrew Langa, is standing in Insiza constituency.

Last week, Langa's two brothers were detained by police after they allegedly attacked and threw stones at an MDC campaign team.

"In some areas we have Zanu PF youths moving in the dead of the night threatening villagers to vote for Zanu PF and the result of the election would hinge on those fraudulent activities," Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai said Zanu PF was forced to implement some of the SADC Election Guidelines as a way of gaining regional and international recognition.

"Zanu PF thinks it would be better to have a semblance of democracy in order to gain the international community's support and an endorsement of its electoral process," he said.

Commenting on squabbles in Zanu PF that resulted in the sacking of the former information minister, Jonathan Moyo from the party, the MDC leader said the latest developments in the ruling party were good news to the opposition party.

"Jonathan Moyo's breakaway from Zanu PF is a good development for the MDC," Tsvangirai said.

On Friday, President Robert Mugabe blamed the MDC for the malfunctioning of local authorities and promised to restore sanity in the city if the people voted for the ruling party in the 31 March general elections.

Mugabe said this while addressing thousands of people at a Zanu PF campaign rally at Tafara High School in Harare.

"Most of you voted for the MDC thinking that if they come into government they would change most things for the better, what change for the better would surpass the independence we gave you?" asked Mugabe.

The government fired former Harare executive mayor Ellias Mudzuri alleging mismanagement. He was replaced by Zanu PF apologist and turncoat Sekesai Makwavarara.

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The Standard
War veterans ditch Zanu PF
By Foster Dongozi

THE marriage of convenience between war veterans and Zanu PF, that ensured electoral victories during 2000 and 2002 has soured after the government failed to deliver on its promises.

Militant members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) have reportedly dumped Zanu PF and are not campaigning for the ruling party ahead of parliamentary elections in 11 days' time.

During the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary elections, war veterans then led by the late Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi and including Jabulani Sibanda, Patrick Nyaruwata and Joseph Chinotimba rallied behind the ruling party on the back of a terror campaign reminiscent of the 1970s pre-independence campaign when villagers were being told only voting for Zanu PF would end the liberation war. Despite massive support from the former freedom fighters, the ruling party lost 58 of the 120 contested seats to the opposition.

The ruling party angered the war veterans when their leaders, who were aspiring candidates for the 31 March parliamentary elections, were left out even though they had been instrumental in thwarting opposition attempts at nationwide mass protests over the past five years.

The war veterans are also bitter that after persistently being promised pension increments which were pegged on the salary of a serving Warrant Officer Class One, effective from last February, the government had not honoured its pledge. A Warrant Officer Class One earns about $3 million a month.

A war veteran in Harare said they felt abused by the politicians: "Zanu PF has abandoned us. This time around, we will let the chefs campaign alone and see if they can mobilise the people.

"Ikozvino macivilian arikudya ega. Varikuda kutonga vega. (The politicians are rewarding themselves handsomely and they want a monopoly on power.)

In the 2 000 general elections and the 2002 Presidential election, war veterans were used as storm troopers by Zanu PF to terrorise the electorate into voting for the ruling party.

Retired major Kudzai Mbudzi of Masvingo, a veteran of the liberation struggle, said he was not campaigning for the ruling party because the Zanu PF candidate from his constituency, Stan Mudenge was not "accommodating", without elaborating.

War veterans' chairperson Jabulani Sibanda was blocked from standing as a candidate in Umguza Constituency in favour of Matabeleland North Governor, Obert Mpofu.

Sibanda's deputy in the war veterans' association, Joseph Chinotimba, was also eliminated from the race in favour of Victoria Chitepo in Glen Norah.

Other war veterans who were sidelined from the Parliamentary race include Manicaland war veterans' chairperson, James Kaunye, who was blocked from fighting it out with Didymus Mutasa, in Makoni North.

Retired Brigadier Benjamin Mabenge, who was gunning for the same seat as Emmerson Mnangagwa in Kwekwe central, also found himself in the cold.

The marginalisation of war veterans saw Retired Major Godwell Shiri of Mberengwa East standing as an independent candidate with war veterans and senior Zanu PF members in Mberengwa openly campaigning for him.

Three senior members of the Zanu PF Mberengwa District Co-ordinating Committee, among them former Member of Parliament and Midlands political commissar, Ben Mataga, and two senior members of the Women's League, identified only as S. Mapingire and Mashingaidze have been suspended from the party for campaigning for Shiri.

The retired soldier decided to contest as an independent after ruling party leaders reversed his victory in the primary elections over incumbent Rugare Gumbo,

In Beitbridge, suspended Zanu PF Matabeleland South chairperson, Lloyd Siyoka, who is also a war veteran, is said to be threatening incumbent MP, Kembo Mohadi's stranglehold on power, after war veterans in the district decided to campaign for the former chairman.

Sources in Beitbridge said the district war veterans' chairperson, Philimon Mbedzi and another former combatant known only as Mukwena were arrested in Beitbridge last week.

They were allegedly arrested on charges of externalising foreign currency although it is suspected that they are being harassed for not supporting Mohadi.

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The Standard
Oliver Mtukudzi commits 'business suicide'
By John Mokwetsi

LOCAL music icon Oliver Mutukudzi shocked his legion of fans when out of character he performed at a Zanu PF-initiated, Vice President Joyce Mujuru's bash last week.

The ceremony was held at Harare's City Sports Centre and was attended by Zanu PF dignitaries and sympathisers who were celebrating Mujuru's appointment as Vice President.

Many of his fans have watched and listened in shock as one of his most popular songs, Totutuma, is used to back a Zanu PF election advert screened on television.

The show itself did not even go down well with Mutukudzi's manager, Debbie Metcalfe, who saw the singer's participation as business suicide.

Fumed Metcalfe: "I was not part of the organisation of that function. I am actually unhappy about it because it was without my consent. The issue of one of his songs being used for a political advert is actually news to me.

"Tuku's material can be used after we grant an agreement licence and I was never approached by either Zanu PF or ZBC. We are going to follow up on that one," she said before referring further questions to Mtukudzi.

Mtukudzi however denied that he was aligned to any political party.

"This was a show I did purely on the grounds that Amai Mujuru is my relative by virtue of us coming from Dande.

"I was celebrating the rise of a daughter from our clan. It had nothing to do with politics. I have relatives everywhere, in MDC and even in Zanu PF."

He said as a manager Debbie had a reason to be angry because she was looking at things from a business perspective .

"I am not partisan despite what people might think. My music is there to unite. People have to be united and be happy. My music is achieving that and evidence is there for all to see. I am not a political musician and it shall remain so."

Mtukudzi scoffed at suggestions that he performed for monetary gains.

"To show that this (performance) was not money oriented, I was not even backed by my group because I would have failed to pay them as there was nothing I got from this," said Mtukudzi.

Debra Musana of Glenview said it was disheartening to see a man who for years has ostensibly resisted alignment to any political party now taking this route.

"I am afraid this has dampened the spirits of most of us Tuku fans. This is a man who has always stood by principle and refused to be swallowed by these politicians who have killed the future and talent of many musicians."

Lovemore Jera of Norton said: "If indeed this is an endorsement of the hate speech that the Makwavararas of this world were preaching at that function, then I must say we have lost a true African symbol of non-partisan music."

Lately, formerly idolised musicians like Simon Chimbetu, Plaxedes Wenyika, Andy Brown, Tambaoga, Sister Flame, Brian Mteki and a host of others saw their sales plummeting because of their association with Zanu PF.

Most people saw them as endorsing a government that was abusing power and basic human rights and boycotted their shows and albums.

On the other hand sungura star, Leonard Zhakata and militant chimurenga singer, Thomas Mapfumo experienced a major decline in the airplay of their music on the state controlled radio stations because their music was deemed politically incorrect.

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The Standard
Arms embargo hampers Zim military training
By Richard Musazulwa

MIDLANDS - Economic sanctions imposed on the Zimbabwean government by the European Union (EU) and the USA because of Harare's appalling human rights record have affected training programmes by the country's defence forces.

The arms embargo has seen the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, once the envy of many armies in Africa, depending on dilapidated fighting equipment as the shortage of spare parts continues to bite.

Members of the public attending the graduation of army officers in Kwekwe a fortnight ago, heard that the six-month training programme was extended by another four months, as there was no adequate equipment to conduct practical training exercises. The officers only graduated two Fridays ago, 10 months after taking the training course in April last year.

The Standard also learnt that the unavailability of instructors was impacting on training, especially in the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ), where the courses are highly specialised.

The United States, together with its allies imposed travel bans, and assets freeze on President Robert Mugabe and 80 of his ministers and ruling party officials. The sanctions include an arms embargo on the country.

While officiating at a pass-out parade at Katanga Range a fortnight ago, where 60 officers from the army graduated, Brigadier General Armstrong Paul Gunda of 1 Brigade expressed concern over army equipment, which has derailed the smooth running of courses and resulted in postponement of practical subjects.

Brigadier Gunda told the officers: "I am aware that you faced difficulties during the course of your training, which led to the postponement of your practicals here at Katanga. I am also aware that you are facing serious shortages of spare parts but I commend you because you managed to do your best with the little resources which were available."

He promised to ensure that a major rehabilitation exercise was undertaken to avail training equipment.

Twelve officers and 48 men from the Armoured Regiment of the Mechanised Brigade graduated in the first ever amour-training course at Katanga Range.

The course covered gunnery, troop leading and crew commanding.

Brigadier Gunda's sentiments come after Vice President Joyce Mujuru's recent concern over the unavailability of instructors, the use of aircraft in need of re-equipment, machines and lack of spare parts at the AFZ Thornhill Airbase in Gweru. Mujuru was the guest of honour at the airbase where four flying instructors graduated.

Mujuru said: " These graduating instructors owe their success to utmost perseverance. The unavailability of instructors at some stages of the course due to other commitments and the shortage of adequate resources such as aircraft spare parts did not dampen their spirits."

Mujuru, like Brigadier Gunda, also promised to look into the army's requirements but was quick to point out that the process might take longer because of other competing and compelling national requirements.

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From: "Trudy Stevenson"
Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2005 5:22 PM
Subject: Keep your vote your secret

Your vote is your secret - but with the new transparent ballot boxes (they
are NOT translucent, as we were told, they are virtually transparent!) you
should FOLD YOUR BALLOT PAPER TWICE so that if it flips open when you drop
it inside, it will still remain folded once, so noone can see how you voted.

Please URGENTLY pass this information to EVERYONE you know.
Thank you.

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SA govt observer mission to meet MDC this week

March 20, 2005, 10:00

Membathisi Mdladlana, the labour minister, says the government observer mission in Zimbabwe is scheduled to meet with leaders of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) during the course of this week.

This follows allegations by the MDC that the observer mission, under Mdladlana's leadership, had made premature pronouncements regarding the outcome of the Zimbabwean poll. Mdladlana says the delegation will be led by Ngoako Ramathlodi, the former Limpopo premier.

"The principle between us and the MDC is that problems can only be resolved through negotiations and not by sniping at each other," says Ramathlodi. He says that it is crucial for them to remind the MDC that it is not helping them to campaign against the South Africa observer mission, they must campaign in Zimbabwe as it is the people of Zimbabwe who will vote for the MDC.

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Comment from The Observer (UK), 20 March

Welcome to Mugabeland, where hope wilts in the sun

The rains have failed, the crops are dying. As Zimbabwe prepares to vote, Euan Ferguson, in this secret dispatch, explains why the prospect of change still seems agonisingly remote.

It was laughter, actually. Tired and terribly fed up laughter, pupping away inside me like lazy glue on a stove. It wasn't, honestly, the reaction I had meant to bring to famine. But last week, in a fairly filthy bar in Bulawayo, it finally got to me. Second city of Zimbabwe, where the ridiculously wide avenues lie in cloying darkness all night, holding their breath, because there's no money for light bulbs. They're running out of blood in Bulawayo and, with HIV running through 25 per cent of the nation's veins, new supplies are hard to come by. They've run out of petrol. They've run out of doctors: there are three surgeons left for a population of just over 800,000. They're running out of food. Ten starved to death in the city suburbs last month, seven of them children under five: and now the rains have stopped, and the harvest has failed, and it's going to get one whole medieval lot nastier very soon.

They're not, yet, out of Castle beer, which is why I have some in front of me as I wait. It has taken a little while to persuade Bulawayans to talk. Two weeks before the national elections, friends are wary of talking to friends, so mouths snap shut before strangers. It is an offence to hold a meeting without police permission, an offence to criticise the government, a jailable offence to criticise Robert Mugabe: effectively, talk of politics is outlawed. Even the regime's sternest critics, in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are trying to distance themselves from anyone white, as Mugabe loses no opportunity to taunt them about links to Tony Blair and accuse them of being puppets of white neo-colonialism. So I'm not sure if young Jimmy and Joy, whom I'd met earlier in a more public (thus less safe) bar, are going to turn up, but they do, and without thinking I wave. Mistake. They're not really worried, it's fine here, but they advise me to keep the waving to a minimum elsewhere. An open hand is the symbol of the MDC. Flaunting it can get you noticed. Finally, it all gets to me, and the laughter spills out. It's taken a few days to reach this stage. Growing, along the way, tired of the roadblocks, shocked by the state of the land, stupefied by the flagrant propaganda of the state-run press, resentful of the constant eye-flicking and back-watching; staggered by the tales, wearied by the hate, and even a little fed up, frankly, at being apparently the only white man in Africa. And I learn that in the wrong parts of the wrong towns a simple wave, symbol of open friendship, can now get you locked up, and laughter seems a good answer: sour laughter, to greet the rancid curdling of a dream.

Four, five weeks ago, the skies darkened but it did not rain. Showers, splatters only, but the greedy clouds kept themselves full and moved on, and the sun came out again and started burning things. 'It wasn't as if we knew quickly, or anything,' says Joy, 'but at that time you expect rain, lots of rain, all the time. Then another day passed, the same. And another. And that was weeks ago, and now it's too late.' The rainy season should only be ending around now, ready for an April harvest. The past month should have seen constant heavy daily falls, 30cm and more, but they've seen relentless sunshine. Not even Mugabe's angriest opponents can blame him for that. But they can, and do, blame him for the vaulting inflation. Last year, for the fifth successive year since his notorious land grab, the economy declined once again, to take the cumulative loss in GDP to 40 per cent. Outside agencies have estimated inflation at between 300 and 400 per cent. Even the government press accepts that something is wrong, try heroically though they do to sell it as a success: 'Inflation falls to 127.7 per cent!' shouted the irony-free front page of last Saturday's Herald. Enough figures: what it means is that no one has any money. No money to pay people to work on the land. No money to irrigate. No aid agencies to bring in food from outside: last year a proud Mugabe ordered the UN to stop distributing supplies. Zimbabwe had so much food, he said, it was 'choking' on it.

What they are choking on down in the Gwayi valley is, of course, dust. This river in Matabeleland, between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, once fat enough to have a station and junction named after it, should have been swollen to safety, or even surfeit, by the last month of the rainy season: it is instead a shambles of stagnant pools. For 50 miles east and west, the smaller rivers are simply caked red mud and stone. The only movement, apart of course from the flies, comes from the occasional group of villagers trying to dig boreholes near the centre, where once the rivers were deepest. Drive along the empty main road, west to what the country knows as Vic Falls and the Hwange National Park, and at first sight the coming devastation is hard to imagine. Baboons scamper. Baobab trees, inside whose giant-trunked greyness the guerrillas cut hideaways from government soldiers during the war of independence, loom and fascinate every half-mile, and the roadsides are fringed richly with other woods, the silver mohonono and the dark-barked motsouri. But stop the car, far from the roadblocks, and curse the flies, and force your way through the undergrowth for a hundred yards and the vision is grim. Mile after sulking brown mile of failed maize. The staple crop for all Zimbabwe, it should by now be two metres high, fat with corn, ready next month to be harvested and milled for villagers to make their porridgey mealy-meal, the rice or potatoes of this part of the world, the main meal of the day, perhaps with a little meat or fish if it can be afforded (with inflation at a triumphant 127 per cent, it can't).

But the crop stands perhaps a metre high, the cobs tiny, ill-formed and tasting of doom. The top third has sprouted, dry brown grass rustling closer to death with every hour of sun. Fields of tobacco plants, once a good earner, are mournful parchment windmills. Every time I stopped in Matabeleland I saw the same; and the same again on the six-hour drive back from Bulawayo to Harare, to within 80 miles from the capital. The fields are a mess. The drought has something to do with it, in that there's been no water. National inflation and poverty have something to do with it, in that the minimal wages for farmworkers are worth less and less each month, and unemployment in some rural areas has hit 80 per cent. Mugabe's land grab has something to do with it, in that there are no farmers to underpay the non-existent farm workers. The last tiny handful of the 10.4 million productive acres on 4,500 white-run farms, which created jobs and grew food and exported in 2000, are in the process of being forcibly repossessed, and now even Mugabe admits it's not going swimmingly well. According to state television, he has 'expressed disappointment with the land use, saying only 44 per cent of the land distributed is being fully utilised'. Tobacco production is down 70 per cent from 2000. Government figures themselves estimate there are 5.8 million acres of maize farmland lying fallow, even if there had been rain. When Tendai Biti, economic affairs spokesman for the MDC, said that 'it has been a phenomenal and absolute failure on every level' he was pulling his punches. The latest report from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network placed Zimbabwe's looming food crisis second in the world to Ethiopia's, judging that 5.8 million were at risk. This report was made in January, before the rains failed.

The kindly Shoko, who drove me for a day, is happy to speak inside his car, if reticent to the point of autism in any public place. 'You won't get people to talk unless you're alone in a room or in a car. But it's completely obvious. We all knew white farmers, and not one of them deserved what happened. Not one. Say what you will. They knew the land, they had money and were pretty fair. They paid us, and we grew food. Now ... well, I don't need to explain. Look out of the window. What a simple mess it is.' Patience, whom I meet one morning near Bulawayo, has already walked four round miles, from hut to nearest trickle of river, for water. She will make the journey twice more, maybe three times, that day, with the jug on her head - yes, they really do that, and live in mud huts, the whole shebang - depending on how much her youngest, Lindiwe, cries. She doesn't know what is wrong with her, she can't afford a doctor, and there aren't any. What's wrong with her, surely, is that some parts of the world tend to get more than their share of the very worst bits of the biblical ills. Matabeleland, southern Zimbabwe, is a grand spot to pick up malaria, cholera and leprosy - if you've been spared Aids - so what would really gee them up now would be a spot of drought and famine, garnished with locusts and tyranny. 'We are not starving. Not yet. But if you've come this far you have seen the fields. The rain is over. The food will not come.' She is not, palpably, sad; or dramatic; or even very friendly. If I was to sum up her attitude as honestly as I could, it would be in a far less than poetic phrase, and that would be 'f….d off'.

Or resigned, but actually the phrase with the swear word, in its sense of 'having once hoped', is truer to the mark. It was the attitude, in Victoria Falls, of all the staff who have watched their tourist-funded livelihoods evaporate as fast as the gossamer spray: of Samuel, who made me an inedible pizza for which he had to charge me his weekly wage (the equivalent of £12), and doesn't get to eat the leftovers, and didn't know what he was going to eat that night. I leave what I hope is a fabulous tip, then spend three minutes struggling to stuff the remaining change of tens of thousands of joke inflationary Zim dollars into the front pocket of my jeans. It comes, I later realise, to about 10p. There were, that lunchtime, eight other tourists walking the Falls: eight. Everyone, especially whites, comes from Zambia. The Zambian side has seen tourist numbers rise from 160,000 in 2001 to 610,000 last year. By far the best view of the largest single curtain of water on Earth lies on the Zimbabwean side, but there were eight trippers. This weekend there will be more visitors to Cromer. In Victoria Falls, as the sun set, staff were going through the bins.

There is an answer, of course. On 31 March, Zimbabwe goes to the polls. There is, in many places, a palpable sense that the MDC could this time triumph. They have fought a brave campaign: simply standing, in some areas, is evidence enough of courage. And there is, in every place where people are willing to speak, a clear message: the West, and its tourist dollars and its trade, are needed back again. 'I was too young to remember much before independence,' says Jimmy, in the dark bar in Bulawayo. 'I don't think I would have had much time for the white farmers, then. Older men I know hated it, I think. It was right to change. It was our country. Mugabe must have been right. But nobody can still believe this is the answer, when we have no money, no light, and soon no food. You don't need a degree in politics to make the arguments, you just need to look around. Can you buy me a beer?' It's the same with drivers, hamburger-sellers, the boys on the roadside with a cup of peanuts to sell, the pretty girls in Harare's poshest hotel with sex to sell, the disarmingly frank policeman who admits he helped beat up MDC supporters last time round but will vote for them this month because he doesn't want to go hungry and wants to marry again. And sometimes you can begin to hope: enthusiasm infects, as does simple logic. A regime change would win instant backing from outside: would reopen trade and aid - and, of course, all the self-serving posturing that comes with each - but mostly it would keep people alive.

Sometimes, away from the small cars and dark rooms where people can speak freely, you can begin to dare to think that this might, after all, approach a democratic election. The state-run press and its trumpeting of democratic freedoms are ludicrous. 'Peace, calm reign: police' reads one headline in the Herald. Some of its choicer headlines during my week in the country - slipped in along such joys as 'Gold panner crushed to death' and 'Binga man dies after hippo attack' - included 'MDC hasn't learnt anything', 'Things fall apart for MDC', 'MDC desperate, in permanent panic' and the splendidly impartial 'Why we should vote Zanu-PF'. But I'm trying to be desperately fair here, with my white liberal guilt, and I have to say that, when the papers say there has been a marked diminution of violence since the last election, I am inclined to believe them. Government and opposition parties have both called repeatedly for a poll free of intimidation. In my six days in Zimbabwe intimidation may have been happening, but I didn't see it so I can't report on it. People around Bulawayo spoke of MDC meetings being broken up and those wearing the party's T-shirts being beaten. As I walked through Kwekwe, every MDC election poster was smothered in angry black paint. But of the youth squads who last time broke pregnant women with sticks and beheaded men with machetes, there was no sign. The MDC alleges the government is supplying (late) grain to favoured areas to secure votes: as I saw no aid at all, I can't bear witness.

This is a different election. Mugabe is, apparently, trying to play fair in the eyes of the world. Sadly, this is only a different election because he is being bad more subtly. Gone are the machetes. But, also, gone too is the hope. The vote-counting will be administered by the army. The ballot-boxes are made of transparent plastic. Counting will be done after nightfall. Rural voters make up 65 per cent of the population. Counting after nightfall in most places means counting in huts by candle or torchlight, by hungry soldiers whose guns and food are paid for by the government, counting out votes from transparent ballot-boxes. No fewer than 800,000 dead people are on the electoral register. Exiles cannot vote. Opposition candidates cannot get hold of the register: one I spoke to said he had been promised a copy in mid-April, a little while after he's been defeated. Most remote villagers, according to Shoko, who was once one himself, have been told that a 'central computer' can work out, between one and two weeks after the poll, which way each village voted. The threat, with famine looming, does not have to be further stated. The Southern Africa Development Community, to which Mugabe signed up in a flurry of apparent accountability, has just been refused access to observe, after a bout of legalistic semantics that would win applause from Jesuits.

I saw tanks moving from Kwekwe to Harare, which last week had to shut down half its dwindling water supply for three days due to leaks and faults it can't afford to mend. Meanwhile, Mugabe busied himself giving interviews to the Herald about his favourite music (Mozart, Beethoven, the choral singer Olivia Charamba) and revealing that he once wrote a poem about the plight of orphans. It's a less violent, more subtle game this time, and of course he'll win again. Last time round there was simply fear. Now there is a more insidious threat: economic death. Even if it doesn't, quite, win the global headlines, it works effectively enough if you're a poor, empty-bellied bastard in the dark, four miles away from brackish water gulped beneath dead maize. The threat of a sore belly, of continued poverty, of recriminations; of angry sponsored boys, fit, armed, in berets. The terribly real imminence of famine. The threat that other African leaders, who could truly make a difference, will fall for corrupt statistics from Zimbabwe and do nothing. And still, I am dissuaded that language and statistics have no part to play. People are bone-weary of the capricious, mendacious, pocket-stuffing old lunatic. And the honest figures do, indeed, tell their story. Robert Mugabe is 81. Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 33.

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From The Sunday Independent (SA), 20 March

Mugabe gives hungry masses food for thought

By Christelle Terreblanche

Masvingo - The sensational land grabs that highlighted the 2000 Zimbabwe national elections have made way for something far more subtle, yet insidious. In the deep rural areas of the drought-stricken country, election 2005 is characterised by hunger and the politics of food. Not only is the hunger partly the result of the botched land redistribution programme, it appears in itself to represent another grab for control by the ruling Zanu PF of the most essential means of living. Opposition supporters claim they have to produce Zanu PF cards to get maize, and attending an opposition rally could cost them many meals. In the southeastern Masvingo province drought has persisted for three years and stocks of maize meal are running out after another failed harvest and amid rising unemployment. The crisis came to a head this week in the small rural villages surrounding Great Zimbabwe. At a rally in Bikita village, President Robert Mugabe for the first time acknowledged there was a food crisis, after months of stern denial. As he was speaking, however, the state-run radio was still pumping out the daily assurance that there was a bumper harvest and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) had ample reserves.

Mugabe was confronted in Bikita by the undeniable fact that the province had run completely out of grain earlier this month. "We are aware that many people have nothing in their fields," he said. "The government will not let people die of hunger, especially since they live in the area of Great Zimbabwe. At the moment the GMB is saying it has enough stocks to last the nation over the next three months." Mugabe said one of the main problems in getting grain to rural towns was the lack of transport. There has been no petrol in Masvingo since Thursday, except at the government-run fuel station. Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), visited nearby Nemamwa village the next day and urged supporters not to be intimidated by traditional leaders. "There is a scramble for food," the MDC leader said. "Chiefs and traditional leaders are being used selectively by the heavy Zanu PF administrative structures to use food to coerce support. That is what we have been condemning. We are doing everything to ensure that food is not becoming a weapon to intimidate, but as you can see there is a crisis on the ground."

Lucia Masekesa, the chairperson of the MDC's Masvinga Women's Assembly, said food was being channelled only to Zanu PF supporters, through traditional leaders. "All of them are Zanu PF because some got land and most got vehicles. "It is part of the campaigning which started early last year already," she said. "The chiefs have the power to go to the GMB to get maize and distribute it to Zanu PF supporters. Others go hungry." Like everyone else, she believes the government is importing maize despite its assurances of a bumper harvest. Trying to get clarity from Masvinga's main GMB depot was futile. Managers were in consultation with the Zanu PF provincial governor, who has to approve all distribution. Later the Zanu PF candidate for the area turned up in his campaign vehicle to load up supplies. When Independent Newspapers tried to photograph this, soldiers at the facility became threatening. Bags of maize being delivered by train were unmarked, so it could not be determined if the maize had been imported. International aid workers in the area who provided food during the past three dry seasons started to scale down their operations late last year after the passing of a draconian law that limits their activities.

Members of three aid organisations spoke to The Sunday Independent on condition of anonymity. "If you print my name you may as well dig my grave," one said. Another said Zanu PF was mainly deploying food "as a campaign tool" in the rural areas, where people were "definitely not self-sufficient at the moment" and "many are starving". "Nobody is harvesting," an aid worker said. "No one but the government has access to the strategic grain reserve. There is nothing like free and fair distribution." The aid workers said that until December last year the maize had been given out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to agencies to distribute to those most in need. Then in December the government suspended all contracts with dispensing NGOs, ordering the WFP to clear its stock of food. At the same time it assured the nation there were ample reserves. Since then it has asked for no donor food, leaving the national maize reserves to run critically low.

Sunday Times (UK)

            March 20, 2005

            Mugabe bribes his starving voters
            Anne Wayne in Bulawayo

    LYING listlessly on her hospital bed, Senzemi Ncube gazed down
at Beloved, her month-old baby tucked in beside her under faded blankets.
            "Sometimes I didn't eat for two days at a time when I was
pregnant," said Ncube, 20, her eyes too big for her thin face. "Now my baby
is sucking at my breast, but there is nothing in my stomach and I have very
little milk."

            Ncube lives with two younger sisters and their blind father in a
village in Matabeleland, 115 miles from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city.
Statistics collated by the three main hospitals in Bulawayo, a bastion of
opposition to the government of President Robert Mugabe, show 238 people
have died of malnutrition since the start of last year.

            Ncube, whose family's small plot of maize and vegetables is
dried and withered, struggles to survive on her father's government pension
of £4 a month and money sent from her brother-in-law, who is working in

            "We used to have chickens and sell extra maize to buy clothes
and pay for school fees," Ncube said quietly. "Now inflation means it took
half of my father's pension for the bus fare to come here. There are no
jobs. It has never been this bad."

            She is one of 4.8m Zimbabweans - around half the population -
who do not have enough to eat. In an interview last year Mugabe rejected
offers of food aid, saying: "Why foist this food upon us? We don't want to
be choked; we have enough." Only six months ago he was predicting a bumper

            Now, as the country prepares for parliamentary elections on
March 31, severe drought and the government-sponsored seizure of thousands
of white-owned farms have provoked an acute shortage of staple foods in what
was once the breadbasket of Africa.

            Prices in Bulawayo and other towns have rocketed beyond the
reach of many families, while staples such as beans, rice and mealie meal
(ground maize) are hard to find. Unemployment is more than 80%.

            "Lactating mothers do not have enough milk for their children
and so they buy infant formula," said Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, the mayor of
Bulawayo. "But they do not have enough money for that either, so they dilute
it until the children are just basically drinking water, and they die. There
is food in the shops but none in the kitchen."

            Even some shops are beginning to show the strain. "I had to go
to six to find a bag of mealie meal yesterday," complained one shopper. "And
then I had to walk home because the petrol shortages meant there was no

            Tending to the malnourished is adding to the strains on Zimbabwe's
medical system, which is already badly stretched. Cancer patients must seek
treatment in neighbouring Botswana or South Africa because there are no
longer the drugs or facilities to give them radiation treatment or

            The outlook is even grimmer for the third of Zimbabweans who
have HIV or Aids. The United Nations agency Unicef estimated last week that
1m children had been orphaned by the disease and another 160,000 would lose
a parent this year. Cases of malaria have risen five-fold in the past 12

            The problem has been compounded by an exodus of medical staff:
more than 10,000 nurses are believed to have left the country last year,
while few doctors are left in the rural areas around Bulawayo.

            Those who remain face shortages of equipment and qualified
staff. "We have all this cheap Chinese stuff that breaks or leaks, and some
of the new staff don't know one end of an instrument from another," sighed
one doctor.

            Mugabe's government has exploited the food shortages by
distributing grain at rallies held by Zanu-PF, the ruling party.Local people
complain that headmen are bribed to exclude known supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from access to grain
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A Cog in the Democratic Wheel
Postal Address:
15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare,
263 4 703702


March 18, 2005

Following the dispatch of our latest weekly media update Number 10, MMPZ has
established that transmissions of SW Radio Africa are being deliberately

Although government has denied jamming SW Radio Africa's broadcasts, a
report by the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) revealed that the
jamming appears to emanate from Zimbabwe using Chinese equipment at
Thornhill in Gweru.
According to the IBB report, three jammers are being used to jam the three
short wave frequencies used by SW Radio Africa. "One kHz tone is used to jam
the broadcasts; and is continued till the transmitters become too hot; then
'noise' is used to avoid over driving the jamming transmitters. ...", says
the report.
The BBC Monitoring Services also confirmed the jamming saying the "the
interfering signals were present only for the period of the SW Radio Africa

MMPZ condemns in the strongest terms this latest deliberate assault on
freedom of expression. This act of sabotage against SW Radio Africa's
broadcasts, particularly in the run up to the March 2005 general elections,
is a cynical attempt to deny the public their right to access information
sources of their choice.
It also demonstrates a blatant intolerance for the free flow of information,
which is the cornerstone of every participatory democracy.
This latest affront to freedom of expression is not isolated. The government
has used repressive broadcasting legislation to stall the opening of the
broadcasting sector to independent broadcasters five years after the Supreme
Court struck down the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings' monopoly as
unconstitutional in 2000.
The private print media have also suffered the brunt of the authorities'
intolerance of a free Press. Since September 2003, four newspapers have been
shut down, the latest being The Weekly Times which was closed on February 25
2005 after publishing just eight issues.
This clampdown on the media violates the SADC Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections demonstrating a failure to meet some of the
minimum conditions for holding of a free and fair election.
To counter this assault on its broadcasts, SW Radio Africa announced
alternative frequencies on which its programmes can be heard:
6145 on the 49 metre band
3230 or 3300 in the 90 metre band
4880 in the 60 metre band
On the 25 metre band, listeners are urged to tune in to the following
11845 for the first hour
11705 for the second hour
11995 for the last hour

SW Radio Africa says it can also be heard in the Medium Wave (MW) 1197kHz
band between 05:00 hours and 07:00 hours, which is not jammed. Studio 7 and
BBC broadcasts are not being jammed.
SW Radio Africa : Work is continuing to counter the Zimbabwe government's jamming of the short-wave frequencies. Please try the following frequencies: 3230 kHz and 3300 kHz in the 90m band;4880 kHz in the 60m band; 6145 kHz in the 49m band; 11845 kHz, 11705 kHz and 11995 kHz in the 25m band. Please also see for up to date information. The medium-wave broadcast between 5am and 7am each morning, at 1197 kHz, is not being jammed. Outside the broadcast area, listen over the internet at .
VOA Studio 7 : In Zimbabwe, tune in to the short-wave broadcast at 13600 KHz and 17895 KHz, and at 909 AM. Outside the broadcast area, listen over the internet at . Broadcasts are between 7pm and 8pm Zimbabwe time, Monday to Friday.
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'Mugabe will hoodwink you'
19/03/2005 22:14  - (SA)

Harare - A leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) met hundreds of supporters in one of Zimbabwe's oldest slums on
Saturday and slammed President Mugabe's government for ignoring the plight
of the poor community.

"The Zanu-PF government has been around for the past 25 years but look at
the living conditions here," shadow finance minister Tapiwa Mashakada told
about two thousand supporters in Epworth, 13km east of Harare.

"They have promised you electricity, better houses and roads. None of those
promises were fulfilled. Only a caring government will salvage you from your
poor living conditions and Zanu-PF has failed you," he said.

Epworth, a squatter settlement which sprouted in the 1970s, is home to
nearly a million poor and jobless people living in makeshift homes. It is
plagued by problems of crime and vice.

Mashakada, the member of parliament for the area, repeated charges that the
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) is using
food to lure voters and urged his supporters to "take their food and vote
for your party".

"Zanu-PF is acting like fishermen using food as bait and you should be like
clever fish which nibble the bait away without getting caught by the hook,"
Mashakada said.

Trying to hoodwink you

"They are trying to hoodwink you and treating you like ignoramuses."

Opposition and civic organisations have claimed Mugabe's government is using
food to try to win support in the country which is facing severe shortages
of the staple maize.

MDC shadow minister for agriculture Renson Gasela said on Friday Zanu PF
officials were "punishing" opposition supporters by denying them food.

Mashakada said the MDC will change the Zimbabwean constitution, which he
said gave "too much power" to Mugabe, and repeal all repressive laws if it
wins the majority in the March 31 parliamentary elections.

The MDC and various civic organisation have been lobbying for a new
constitution for Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean government has introduced new laws in recent years which
opposition and rights groups say are meant to suppress dissent.

The MDC is the only opposition party in the southern African country, posing
the most serious challenge to Mugabe's authoritarian rule since independence
from Britain in 1980.

Mugabe dismisses the party as a British "puppet".
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Independent (UK)

The Bhundu Boys: Lost boys

In 1987, the Bhundu Boys played Wembley. Today, the band's members are
either dead, in jail or broke. The legendary guitarist Rise Kagona (works in
a Scottish charity shop) and the wife of late frontman Biggie Tembo (toilet
cleaner) reveal how it all went so horribly wrong
By Robert Chalmers
Published : 20 March 2005

I have to wait 10 minutes before my interviewee appears: not an uncommon
experience when you're dealing with people connected to show business,
though in this case it's because my subject has to finish cleaning the
ladies' toilets.
Ratidzai Tembo finally joins me at a table in the Octopus, the dim,
cavernous beer-hall where she works near Mbare, one of the more intimidating
townships close to Harare. I'd first driven to her home, a broken-down shack
she shares with two of her children, and her mother. The poverty in Mbare is
shocking even by the standards of Zimbabwe, the country that recently
finished bottom of the Economist magazine's world index for quality of life.
Ratidzai and her family live in two cramped rooms without electricity, in a
property that even the most creative estate agent could not avoid describing
as a hovel. Her family explained that she was already at work, and gave me
directions to the Octopus, which is what Zimbabweans euphemistically call a
"nightclub". Her boss, understandably alarmed by the arrival of a British
journalist, given the climate of paranoia and menace generated by Robert
Mugabe's Zanu PF government, finally agrees to let us speak alone.
"Were you at those Wembley Stadium shows? Did you meet Madonna?" I ask
She shakes her head.
"No. I went to many shows in England, but not those."
She pauses.
"When you mention Madonna... all that seems like another life. There have
been times since then when I have had to sell my clothes so that the
children could have food."
Ratidzai is the widow of Biggie Tembo, singer and guitarist with the Bhundu
Boys, the band John Peel famously described as producing the most naturally
flowing music he'd ever heard in his life. Andy Kershaw was best man at her
marriage. Tembo won a Sony Award for a superb Radio 1 documentary that he
co-presented with Kershaw, hosted a special for Channel 4, and appeared on
Blue Peter. The Bhundu Boys were lauded by Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler as
well as Madonna, who personally requested that the band support her for the
three nights she played, to a total of 240,000 people, at Wembley in 1987.
Elvis Costello, another admirer, briefly acted as their producer. At the
height of his success in the late 1980s, Biggie Tembo, one of the most
convivial and * engaging men I have ever met, lived with Ratidzai in a
bungalow with a swimming pool, in an affluent suburb of Harare.
Almost 10 years ago, Biggie, distraught at having left the Bhundu Boys in
acrimonious circumstances, was found hanged in Harare's psychiatric
hospital. He was 37.
"He died on July 29, 1995," Ratidzai tells me. "You can see the hospital
from here." She points to a forbidding concrete building across the yard of
the beer hall, where a few clients are passing around a blue plastic bucket
filled with chibuku - a challenging but affordable beverage whose
unforgettable bouquet is produced by ingredients including yeast, gruel and,
in some cases, battery acid.
I tell her how I had lunch with Tembo, Kershaw and John Peel in London, nine
months before the Zimbabwean died. Biggie's once irrepressible manner had
become subdued. There was a disconcerting intensity about him. He talked
about giving up music and becoming a comedian or a preacher.
"All of that started after he was separated from the group," Ratidzai says.
"He suffered terrible stress. He began to drink whisky - lots of it,
straight from the bottle. He said it would help him sleep, but it didn't. He
couldn't sleep. He was up for days. He started to behave strangely. One day
we were watching TV - this was towards the end, when we still had a place in
England, a flat in Bristol. He kept saying he could smell burning; that
something was on fire in the house. He was pacing around, looking for smoke,
even though nothing was alight."
They returned to Zimbabwe permanently at the end of 1994. Barclays Bank
repossessed the bungalow. "Then he was kept in the mental hospital here for
several months."
"How did he kill himself?"
"They told me that he broke free from his straitjacket and hanged himself in
his room."
For the past year, Ratidzai has worked here at the Octopus, as a waitress
and cleaner. She earns $50,000 Zimbabwean dollars - around £4.60 - a week.
A handsomely packaged special edition of the Bhundu Boys' first two albums
was released in July 2001, under the title The Shed Sessions, to
considerable acclaim. The website run by Stern's, the London-based World
Music specialists, shows that the double CD, priced at £12.95, remained in
its Top 25 for 13 months, and at one stage reached Number Two. The Shed
Sessions is available from Amazon's sites in the UK, the US and Japan.
Tembo's widow says she has received none of the royalties due to her
"Do you ever hear the Bhundu Boys on the radio?" I ask.
"Sometimes. That is painful. I turn it off. It upsets me. Where I am living
now, the only heating is firewood or paraffin, and we cannot always afford
them. My life," she adds, "has become a nightmare."
At the height of their fame in the mid-1980s, the group were signed to
Warners (WEA). They toured North America, Australia and Hong Kong,
chauffeured to venues from luxury hotels. They owned a large house in
London. Their manager says the advances the five band members received - not
including fees from their heavy tour schedule - totalled around £120,000.
To call the Bhundu Boys one of the greatest African bands of all time is to
demean their achievement; their unique talent never required a geographical
"I first heard them when they put out an EP in the autumn of 1985," Andy
Kershaw recalls. "Peel and I were in the office at Radio 1. We sat staring
at each other, thinking this recording was absolutely wonderful. It was the
dazzling quality of the music, the harmonies, the sparkling guitar playing.
The Bhundu Boys were simply one of the greatest pop groups I have ever
The following spring, Kershaw adds, he and Peel went to see the group in
"I realised after a few minutes that I had this enormous grin on my face. I
was surrounded by kids of college age. They were all grinning too. I turned
to look at John, and - Peel being Peel - he was weeping. The tears were just
running down his face. It really was a revelatory moment. We introduced
ourselves to the band. I immediately hit it off with Biggie, who was an
ideal frontman; a superb communicator with a wonderful sense of humour and
full of enthusiasm for everything. The band played like they were having the
time of their lives. They played like that because they were."
No single story is so chillingly symbolic of Zimbabwe's decline as the
tragic history of the Bhundu Boys. Their formation, in April 1980, coincided
with the country's declaration of independence. "Bhundu Boys" were
anti-colonialist bush commandos, and the band embodied the exuberant
optimism engendered by liberation from British rule.
The group were fêted by Robert Mugabe in the days when he was acclaimed by
many - including senior British politicians - as a positive influence. But
the band angered Zanu PF when they played benefits to raise awareness of
Aids, a disease which, until recently, Mugabe refused to acknowledge as a
problem in Zimbabwe, where an estimated 40 per cent of the population (and
up to 80 per cent of the military) are HIV positive.
Former Bhundu Boys Shakie Kangwena, David Mankaba and Sheperd Munyama are
"late", as Zimbabweans put it, all from Aids. Another, Washington Kavhai, is
in jail in the UK, in Preston, serving seven years for violent assault.
Kenny Chitsvatsva, the drummer, was last heard of driving a minicab in
As I leave the beer hall in Mbare, Ratidzai Tembo's last words to me are:
"Please help me."
Biggie Tembo was born Rodwell Marasha in Chinhoyi, 70 miles northwest of
Harare. The town is famous for having seen the first skirmish between the
Zimbabwean Liberation Army and Ian Smith's Rhodesian Security Forces - a
clash which launched the conflict that eventually led to independence. As a
boy, Tembo was involved in the armed struggle as a messenger and lookout,
and he liked to address friends, Peel and Kershaw included, as "Comrade".
He came to Harare in the late 1970s and was recruited to the Bhundu Boys by
their founder, the inspirational guitarist Rise Kagona. The group were
playing in township beer-halls when they were spotted by Steve Roskilly, a
former Mayfair property developer, who began recording them at his studio in
the capital. With Roskilly, they had four Number One singles in three years
in Zimbabwe.
The odd circumstances which brought the band international fame began in the
mid-1980s at a squat in a disused hospital at Earl's Court, London, where
Owen Elias, a student at Chelsea College of Art, met Doug Veitch, a maverick
Scottish guitarist whose supplementary sources of income included driving
tube trains and cleaning windows. Using the £2,000 then gifted to new
businesses under the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, they formed a label,
Discafrique, and left for Harare to look for artists. There, Roskilly played
them the songs they issued on the EP that would captivate Peel and Kershaw.
It was when Elias and Veitch decided to bring the band to the UK in 1986
that things became increasingly surreal. Unable to fund a tour, they turned
to Gordon Muir, a designer of knitwear brochures who grew up with Veitch in
the border town of Hawick. Muir provided the cash and was soon sole manager
of the band. (Elias now makes wine in Kent; Veitch is in Lanarkshire,
completing a PhD in woodland management.)
Muir got the band bookings on the lucrative student circuit, from which
base, with the support of DJs such as Peel, Kershaw and Charlie Gillett,
they built a national following.
When I return to London from Zimbabwe, I find a number for Muir, who now
lives in Kirkliston, a village outside Edinburgh.
Could I talk to him?
"I'll have to think about that," he replies.
"What happened to Rise Kagona," I ask. "Is he alive?"
"Rise lives here," he says, "in Kirkliston."
A couple of days later, on the train to * Scotland, I find myself pondering
a number of questions. How can a guitarist of Kagona's ability be living in
such obscure circumstances? What made Tembo kill himself? Why is his widow
receiving no royalties?
I sit down with Kagona and Muir in the living room of the Scot's isolated
cottage. The guitarist lodges with a philanthropic neighbour on an adjoining
farm. To keep himself occupied, Kagona - this is a musician who, apart from
Clapton et al, was revered by the late Joe Strummer - does ironing at the
local charity shop. His clothes and his manner attest to this proud but
gentle man's minimal sources of income. Whenever possible, he travels into
Edinburgh to play with local bands.
"But the last bus for our township - I mean village - leaves Edinburgh about
11pm, so if I miss it, I have to sit in the railway station to keep warm,"
Kagona explains. "The first bus is at 7am. But I am a musician. I have to
A few years ago, he invested his savings into a farm outside Harare.
"When I arrived there with some relatives, a gang of youths - those who call
themselves 'comrades' - were waiting. They said: 'Show us your Zanu PF
Cards.' We didn't have any. We showed them the deeds. They said: 'Show us
Zanu PF cards or you have five minutes to get out before we kill you.' I
decided land was not worth dying for."
Kagona has been working on a new album with Muir, which the Scotsman hopes
to finish by May and issue under the name of the Bhundu Boys. The tracks
they have recorded are, in Muir's words, "basically grooves". Sung in
English, not Shona, they are some way removed from the sound that
established the band's reputation.
Muir, a slim, intensely-focussed, grey-haired man of 44, recalls how he and
Doug Veitch took a battered van to meet the band when they landed in London
in May 1986.
"Doug had no soles on his shoes," says Kagona. "We thought they must be
henchmen for the people with money." He was mistaken.
The group arrived with no instruments.
"They were determined to acquire their own gear," Muir says. "With the
monies per gig, this was not realisable. I got into a hire purchase
For a year, the Bhundu Boys lived with the Scotsman and his partner Anne in
Hawick. After overseeing the band's success with Shabini and Tsvimbodzemoto,
their first two albums on Discafrique, Muir brokered the deal with WEA.
"That is one thing I will blow my own trumpet on," he says. "The deals we
got have been unsurpassed by any world music act. WEA must deeply regret
that they ever came into contact with us."
"How much did you get?"
"From Blue Mountain [the publishing company] about £50,000 to £60,000 in
advances. From Warners, about the same."
Income, Muir says, was split equally between himself and each of the band
members. "There were a lot of expenses," he says. "We sank large amounts
into purchasing a PA and studio equipment. We were all taking a reasonable
salary; about £300 a week."
As is often the case in the music business, it was when the major label
became involved that things went badly wrong. Muir's boldness and initiative
as a manager have never been in question. At the time of Nelson Mandela's
70th birthday concert at Wembley in 1988 - a bill with a disappointing ratio
of black artists - the Bhundu Boys organised a rival event in Brixton, where
Mark Knopfler sportingly appeared as "The Token Honky".
But once at WEA - instead of Roskilly, who had captured their elegant
simplicity on their early records - the band hired Robin Millar, the
producer of singer Sade. True Jit, the first of two albums for WEA,
introduced an anodyne, westernised sound that horrified some of their core
"We came from a poor background," says Kagona. "We toured the US. We met Ray
Charles. We played Central Park with Eddie Murphy. Limousines took us
everywhere. We rode along with our heads sticking out of the roof. One time
in New York the limousine arrived and Biggie wouldn't join us."
"Why not?"
"He felt such behaviour was not correct. I told him that the record company
had arranged the car, and if we went by bus we wouldn't get the money back.
Biggie used to say that we were enjoying too rich a life, while our brothers
and sisters were suffering back home in Zimbabwe. I understand what he
meant. But I told him look, enjoy it while you can. Because these things go
away, and once they have gone you will never get them back again."
Kagona's instinct was prophetic.
Together, the band, which was registered as a limited company, bought a
large house in Kensal Green, north-west London, where they lived for 18
months or so.
As the Bhundu Boys' reputation grew, Tembo's behaviour, according to Muir,
became unpredictable. He says Tembo got to thinking he was bigger than the
band. He gives me details of the singers' affairs with a number of women. He
says that when Biggie left the band, in 1989, his last words were: "I quit.
Fuck the lot of you." Kagona agrees that Tembo walked out. Not long
afterwards, Muir adds, Biggie attacked him.
"He beat the shit out of me. I have pictures."
Tembo, for his part, told Kershaw and others the group had become envious of
his individual popularity, and sacked him. Nobody disputes that Tembo could
be extremely difficult, or that, subsequent to his departure, he pleaded to
rejoin the Bhundu Boys, but was rejected.
"Now I don't know who my enemies are," Tembo had sung, in an improvised
lyric on the second WEA album, Pamberi. "It was better when I knew."
"Tembo was fired from the Bhundu Boys and he found that rejection very
difficult to deal with," one friend told me. "At almost the same time, he
discovered that the man who brought him up as his son, in Chinhoyi, was not
his natural father. The two things knocked him sideways. I went to see him
in the mental hospital in Chinhoyi. He said: 'I cannot deal with this. These
things have been such a shock.' In career terms, he had been promised the
earth. To have begun to achieve, then to have everything snatched away from
him, was just too much."
With Tembo out of the band, the Bhundu Boys' fortunes waned rapidly. The
group's prize asset had always been a more complex man than his ever-smiling
stage persona suggested and his departure exacerbated a pattern of aberrant
behaviour. Kershaw says that Tembo would come round to his house and begin
weeping for no apparent reason, then start talking about how much he missed
the band, and about his confusion over the identity of his father.
"It was very important for him to know where his father's ancestors were,"
says Kagona. "In Africa, your father is the central figure in your life.
Biggie became obsessed with contacting his ancestors. He would lock himself
in his room and make these strange noises." Kagona demonstrates the sound, a
sustained rattle similar to a Spanish "r".
"He would do these rituals, praying to spirits, taking snuff, and making
that rrrrrr noise. He believed he had drawn evil spirits to him. He had no
idea where his real father was. Those rituals took him somewhere else. They
took him to a bad place. He ended up mad."
Tembo divided his time between the UK and Zimbabwe, where he joined a
fundamentalist church generally regarded as a cult, and took to preaching
and speaking in tongues on public transport. Once, he went on Zimbabwean
television and confessed that demons possessed him.
In Britain, he embarked on a series of unsuccessful solo ventures,
collaborating with a Bristol band called the Startled Insects, occasionally
performing stand-up to a bewildered public.
"The audience was polite," says Kershaw, who saw one 1993 comedy show at
Ronnie Scott's, "but frankly it was painful to watch."
"What happened to the money from the London house?" I ask Muir.
"We bought that as a company. The house was mortgaged."
"So the profits were divided among the band, once it was sold?"
"What happened was," Muir says, "I bought the house off the band four or
five years after we first purchased it. I was owed money I hadn't taken out
of the company." He sold the property "a couple of years later," he
explains, "for virtually the same price. We paid £93,000 in 1987 and sold it
in 1993 for £98,000".
I'd anticipated being able to verify these and other figures relating to the
band's assets, but records at Companies' House show that Bhundu Boys Ltd,
first registered under that name in May 1987, never submitted any annual
accounts. An order for the company's compulsory liquidation was made in 1990
and it was then officially disolved in 1995. (When asked why the figures
aren't at Companies' House, Muir says he "hasn't a clue".)
The recent reissue, The Shed Sessions, was put out on Sadza, Muir's label.
Is Ratidzai Tembo receiving royalties?
"Through the producer Steve Roskilly, yeah," says Muir. "This is something
you seem keen to talk about."
"That's because Ratidzai is not getting anything."
"I account directly to Roskilly."
One of the most bizarre aspects of Kagona's current situation is that he is
currently recording not only with Muir, but with Doug Veitch. Veitch, now
45, is a gifted songwriter who enjoyed a brief but inspired solo career in
the 1980s as Champion Doug Veitch, the world's greatest exponent of
Caledonian-Cajun-Dub crossover, before vigorous socialising brought him to
the point of physical collapse.
In the course of writing this article, I get a message from Veitch asking me
to return to Edinburgh, where I find him with Kagona in a recording studio.
Veitch plays me the demos that he has made with Kagona. They are inventive
and unfussy, sung in Shona, and echo the vibrant, melodic spirit of the
original Bhundu Boys recordings.
Muir had told me that, though he's had differences with Doug Veitch, the
forestry expert is "basically still my best friend". Veitch, who could not
be accused of being reticent on any subject, describes Muir in terms which
are unrepeatable in a family newspaper.
At this, our second meeting, Kagona, a naturally introverted man, is in
reflective mood. The deaths of so many colleagues, he tells me, combined
with the implosion of his career, have been almost impossible to bear.
"I find myself asking, why me?" Kagona says. "Why am I still alive? I feel
as if I have never existed," he adds. "I feel as though my life never
When so many contemporaries began to be diagnosed with Aids, he explains,
"It got so that, as a musician from Zimbabwe, if you even had a headache,
you didn't tell anybody."
Kagona was born in Malawi but has a former wife and three children in
Zimbabwe. When I was in Harare, I tell him, I had a meeting with Mugabe's
Minister of Information, Nathan Shamuyarira, who told me he did not regard
the Bhundu Boys as a political issue. (Shamuyarira, one of the closest
confidants of the President, is preparing a biography of Robert Mugabe,
which is not expected to be over-critical in tone.) But the musician remains
uneasy about returning to Harare, especially if - or rather when - Mugabe
wins re-election on the 31st of this month.
When I ask him if he has any regrets, Kagona mentions the purchase of the
London house, a transaction that has left him dissatisfied and confused.
"I never wanted a house in England," he explains. "None of us had a house
back home. I would have preferred to buy somewhere in Zimbabwe. When we
signed to WEA, Gordon got this idea about buying a house." Kagona
acknowledges that he eventually bowed to a democratic vote in the band.
"What I got from that house, when it was sold, was for the sale of my bed
and my linen. They were sold separately, to a second-hand shop. I got £5 for
them. I am not lying."
The band's debts to him, Muir adds,"were worked out to the last £10."
Where business dealings are concerned, Kagona says, "all these years I have
stood in darkness. It has been like a fog. Deals were signed in offices but
we have been left with nothing."
As regards Tembo's incrementally expanding ego, Kagona says, "Gordon
encouraged Biggie in that belief. He built expectations in his brain."
Muir denies any suggestion of impropriety where the distribution of income
is concerned. "Were we naïve? Yes. But I don't want to stray into territory
that suggests we are exploiting Biggie's widow. All the money was
distributed among the band or sunk into equipment. The monies that would be
going to Biggie's widow would be generated by sales of The Shed Sessions. I
pay the money directly to Steve Roskilly, who passes that on to her, as far
as I am aware."
While I was in Harare, I'd driven out to Roskilly's house in Borrowdale, a
rich suburb where the residual white population exist on estates protected
by dogs and razor wire. A caretaker appeared at Roskilly's electric gate and
gave me a number for him. "He is in Cheltenham," he said, "and he's not
coming back."
A journey that had began in Mbare ends at Cheltenham Racecourse. Roskilly,
who now runs a stage-equipment company, meets me at the venue's conference
arena, where he is supervising a lighting rig. On stage, Olympic Bronze
Medallist horsewoman Pippa Funnell is rehearsing a speech she will make that
Roskilly, 57, has brought a file of balance sheets relating to the Bhundu
Boys. He comes across as a well-meaning man doing his best to peer into what
Kagona perceives as the fog surrounding the band's affairs. He says he
recalls a conversation with Muir in which it was agreed that the Scot, not
Roskilly, should pass on the money to Ratidzai. After looking through his
papers, though, he concedes that the responsibility appears to be his, and
that the money has not been paid to Tembo's widow, though he is not yet
clear as to whether he has received all of what is due to her from Muir.
We're not talking about huge sums, Roskilly points out - a few hundred
pounds, at most.
"That's a lot of money in Mbare."
Roskilly agrees.
"I am taken aback by this," he says, looking sincerely mortified. "I need to
call Muir and sort this out."
The story of Tembo, Roskilly says, "was a disaster from start to finish. He
didn't resign. He was fired. And he couldn't take that. Tembo was the one
who came up with the special songs. Tembo had the personality. The others
couldn't deal with the attention he was getting. It's true that he was a
volatile man. But the band made a terrible mistake when they fired him.
Neither Tembo, or they, ever recovered."
The sad thing, Kagona, had told me, "is that, for all the cities we visited,
and all the friends, and all the music that we made, the Bhundu Boys are
mostly remembered for dying of Aids."
In May, Kagona will embark on a six-date tour of the UK with Doug Veitch,
and the Bhundu Boys guitarist is getting back in contact with people in the
mainstream of the broadcasting world, including Radio 3's Andy Kershaw.
"Observing the music business," Kershaw tells me, "there are certain things
that you learn - if not to accept - then at least to understand. But there
are two things I will never understand. One is how Rise Kagona can be
working in a charity shop on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The other is how
the widow of my best friend has ended up cleaning toilets at a beer hall in
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Vanguard, Nigeria

      Rights abuse: Obasanjo urged to call Mugabe to order

            INNOCENT ANABA
            Posted to the Web: Sunday, March 20, 2005

            A COALITION of human rights groups in Nigeria and Zimbabwe have
appealed to President Olusegun Obasanjo to prevail on the Zimbabwean
President, Robert Mugabe to implement the recommendation of the African
Commission particularly the improvement of the human rights situation in
that country.

            The coalition in an open letter to the president  said "we wish
to express to you our grave concern about the continuing abuse of human
rights in Zimbabwe. We are asking you, as chairman of the African Union
(AU), to call publicly on the Government of Zimbabwe to implement in full
the recommendations made by the African Commission on Human and Peoples'
Rights in the report of its 2002 Fact-Finding Mission to Zimbabwe.

            "The African Commission Fact-Finding Mission visited Zimbabwe in
June 2002 and the AU adopted the Commission's findings and recommendations
in January 2005. The Fact-Finding Mission took place in the context of
Zimbabwe's obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples'
Rights, to which it is party.

            "In its report, the African Commission concluded that "human
rights violations occurred in Zimbabwe. The commission made several
substantive recommendations for action by the government of Zimbabwe. The
majority of the human rights concerns documented by the African Commission
Fact-Finding Mission in 2002 remain serious problems today.
            "On freedom of expression, the African Commission stated that
laws such as the 2002 Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the 2002
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act would have a chilling
effect' on freedom of expression and introduce a cloud of fear in media
circles. The Commission recommended that: The POSA and Access to Information
Act should be amended to meet international standards for freedom of

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Zimbabwe election has 'no chance' of being fair
By Paul Lord in Harare
(Filed: 20/03/2005)

Less than two weeks before the general election in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe's state-run media are doing all they can to distract voter attention from the country's economic plight.

One newspaper prints a photograph of a dead cow lying in what appear to be the plentiful green pastures of Zimbabwe, where an estimated five million people are at risk of death from starvation.

Robert Mugabe
President Mugabe denies any economic trouble

"A cow dies in Matabeleland North," the caption reads, referring to the province around the second city of Bulawayo, "one of many dead from eating too much grass."

Mr Mugabe's opponents, who fear that readers will believe the propaganda, are in increasing despair about the lack of political debate in the election campaign.

The government has closed down five independent newspapers in the past two years. Two journalists have been tortured and the Daily News was bombed twice in 2003.

"There is nothing as evil as to starve people of information," says one high-ranking education official. "It's like living in the old Soviet Union. We know nothing about the opposition; all information is government-controlled."

Zimbabwe's opposition is braced for dirty tricks and vote-rigging on the day of the ballot on March 31, even though the campaign has so far been spared the widespread violence which marred the elections in 2000.

They say that Zanu-PF, which narrowly won in 2000, has simply switched tactics. "They've learned their lesson," said Dave Coltart, an MP for the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). "Zanu understands now that they can't have these images of people being shot, so the methods of intimidation are far more insidious."

Diplomats and the leaders of humanitarian organisations in Harare believe that there is no chance of a fair election in Zimbabwe, where inflation is running at 600 per cent and 90 per cent of people live on less than a dollar a day.

"No president in the world would be elected with this economic performance," one diplomatic official said. "It simply can't be free and fair, no matter how peaceful. The books are cooked ahead of time and were it not for fraud and violence the MDC would clearly win."

Mr Mugabe has appointed a colonel as the head of Zimbabwe's new electoral commission, and new laws place the army in charge of polling stations, and allow military officers to serve as election officials.

"In remote rural areas, polling will end at 7pm," said Mr Coltart, the MDC's secretary for legal affairs. "Votes will be counted in a tent 60km from the nearest phone, with a soldier running the process, police around him, a Zanu war veteran observer appointed by Mugabe, the agent representing Zanu as a party - and one MDC representative present. It's going to take a brave MDC guy, in a rural area at night, 60km from a phone, to say, 'No, that's not a Zanu vote, it's an MDC vote'."

Mr Coltart believes that the voter roll, which the government will not release, is packed with the names of dead people.

"There are about 12 million people in Zimbabwe, half of whom are under the voting age of 18, and a quarter of whom are abroad, but the voter roll has 5.8 million people on it," he said. "How is that?" He also suspected that Zanu-PF would simply announce the results in its favour, regardless of the votes cast. After the last election, he said, 39 legal challenges were lodged over the results but five years on the courts have still to rule on any of them.

"Not a single one has worked," he said. "I'm entitled to see all the court documents, but to date I haven't seen a single ballot page.

"Zanu-PF know this. They think, 'We don't even have to stuff the ballots, we just have to announce the results' - no one is even counting! They've got all the machinery in place to rig it. The big question isn't if they will do it, but how they will do it."

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Sunday Herald
Zimbabwe election ‘already decided’


As Zimbabwe prepares for an election, Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg asks if anybody but Mugabe can possibly win

With just 11 days to go before Zimbabweans go to the polls in their sixth parliamentary general election, the outcome has already been decided.

President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party, which has been in power for a quarter of a century, will win by a large margin. It will not reflect the people’s choice: if that were honoured, Mugabe’s party would be toppled from power after March 31.

But the ballot has been comprehensively rigged in advance by a wide range of strategies.

The critical consideration for Mugabe, an embittered, ruthless and clever man, is to decide how many seats the opposition will be allowed to win. He will then proclaim to the world that Zimbabwe is a functioning democracy, although it is in truth a military dictatorship, closely resembling Romania under the late Nicolae Ceausescu. Just as Ceausescu could have been a hero but instead went down the killing and robbing road, so Mugabe has followed the same route, ruining his country, poisoned by belief in his own infallibility and misplaced pride, the age-old companion to despots.

A soberly forensic dissection by one of the world’s biggest human rights advocacy organisations, Human Rights Watch (HRW), of Mugabe’s emasculation of the democratic process will be released in Johannesburg tomorrow, dismissing in detail any possibility that the Zimbabwe election can be free or fair.

The report, entitled Not A Level Playing Field and compiled by an HRW team that has spent several weeks undercover in Zimbabwe, concludes: “With only days remaining before voters go to the polls, it is clear that the [Zimbabwe] government has not adequately met the benchmarks set by the SADC [Southern African Development Community] principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.”

Those guidelines were set last August at a crisis meeting of the SADC, southern Africa’s most important regional grouping. The principles laid down included full participation of citizens in the political process; freedom of association; political tolerance; equal opportunity for all parties to state media access; independence of the judiciary; independence of the media; impartiality of electoral institutions; and voter education.

Mugabe and Zanu-PF fail to meet any of those principles. Take “political tolerance”, for example. Dzikamayi Chiyau-siku, risking two years in prison for reporting without a government licence from Zimbabwe for the London-based Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), said in his latest despatch that villagers are being forced to attend Zanu-PF rallies and warned that food aid will be withheld if they vote for the opposition.

Chiyausiku’s report from Marondera, a once richly productive farming area 50 miles east of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, also describes the fear under which supporters of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are conducting their election campaign.

The MDC has been warned by Mugabe’s personal storm-troopers, the violent National Youth Militia that many parts of the country are “no go” areas for its campaigners.

The situation is well illustrated in Marondera, where defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi controversially won by just 63 votes in 2000, despite widespread intimidation and allegations of vote rigging. Sekeramayi, who runs the feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), declared Marondera and its surrounding area of decaying farms a no-go area for the MDC. Nevertheless, there is a spirit of opposition defiance in Marondera – perhaps boosted by Mugabe’s slight relaxation of the onslaught on them, confident in the belief that he has already engineered a two-thirds majority that will enable him to change the country’s constitution.

Unexpectedly, following Mugabe’s loosening of his iron grip, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was last week able to hold the town’s first opposition rally. It was attended by 600 people. Some men were brave enough to wear MDC T-shirts, an open invitation for a beating from the stormtroopers, and a 33-year-old woman, who identified herself as Mercy, wore an MDC headscarf. Many hundreds more people, including ominous CIO agents, gazed at the rally from a distance.

“Those people over there remember the beatings of past years,” said Mercy, gesturing to the bystanders. “But I am not afraid any more. I have been arrested by the police and raped twice and my children have been beaten to the ground in front of me. They have done their worst and I have survived.”

When MDC candidate Ian Kay began his election campaign, he initially held meetings in caves in to avoid harassment by Sekeramayi’s supporters and the police – now subverted and loyal to Mugabe rather than the state – who broke up every gathering of more than five opposition supporters.

While Kay, one of only five white people contesting seats in the forthcoming election, is confident he has more support than the defence minister, it is probably irrelevant given the levels of intimidation and rigging. Marondera is infamous for election violence.

In 2000, Kay’s MDC predecessor was run out of town and his house burned down. MDC supporters were tortured. Just two weeks ago, the Methodist church that Kay helped build was burned to the ground by Zanu-PF militants.

Kay himself was severely assaulted and left for dead two years ago when 60 Zanu-PF supporters invaded and occupied his 5000-acre farm near Marondera. A young policeman who tried to help was killed by the invaders. The 120 people Kay employed and 380 dependents were driven, along with the Kay family, from their home.

Kay refused to leave the country and, when asked why he and his wife stayed, he said: “We’re all Zimbabweans. We’re worth fighting for.”

Fred Bridgland, the Sunday Herald’s Africa correspondent, is working on a short-term assignment as editor of the Zimbabwe Election Report for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting. The daily report can be accessed at

20 March 2005

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The Mystery of South Africa's Position.

It is now very apparent to anyone with half a brain that all is not well in
South Africa when it comes to handling the Zimbabwe crisis. Here we have a
situation where by every measure, the Zanu PF led government has failed -
the economy is in tatters, half our population needs food aid, the quality
of life for the majority has deteriorated to the point where nearly half the
adult population has decamped. Almost all basic human and political rights
are being abused and worse on a daily basis. And the regime has lost its
legitimacy because of a well-known and clearly exposed record of electoral
fraud and abuse.

Yet, the leadership in South Africa and many of its apologists insist on
maintaining the position that things are "improving" and that a "free and
fair election" is still possible. It's not out of ignorance. Its not because
they simply want to be perverse. What then is the reason - the real reason
for this ridiculous stance?

We in the MDC have tried everything - we have tried to be charitable - "they
do not know what is going on"; we have tried the diplomatic route "lets talk
about these things - then they will understand". We have tried "quiet
diplomacy" and just about every other strategy you can name - with little or
no effect.

I have pondered this situation long and hard and feel that we are missing
something. The first order of business is to stay in business - politics is
no different. Thabo Mbeki has only one real objective and that is to
maintain the ANC as the dominant political force in South Africa until he
can retire and go off and do other things. Everything else is subordinate to
that goal.

If that is the case then what threats exist which might explain his attitude
to Zimbabwe?  Its not history or relationships - Mbeki and Mugabe are not
soul mates and Zanu PF did not support the ANC during their long struggle
against apartheid in South Africa. If anything the two parties have a long
time animosity towards each other. So why the huddle behind the laager?

It can only be because Mbeki fears some aspect of the political evolution of
events in South Africa and is doing all that he can - within the constraints
of his global role and the situation in South Africa itself, to subvert the
process of change in Zimbabwe. Its not that he simply wants to be
kingmaker - although that might explain some of the motivation. It is
something more.

I think it is because the MDC is a by product of the trade union movement in
Zimbabwe and above all, Mbeki fears the fallout of an MDC victory in South
Africa itself. Although we always knew it, we never fully appreciated the
fact that the ANC is really an amalgam of three political institutions - the
ANC itself, COSATU and the South African Communist Party. What we also never
fully appreciated was that while the ANC drew its intellectual and other
strengths from within, its real political muscle was drawn from the SACP and
COSATU. In fact in this political game COSATU is the senior figure with its
2 million members and national infrastructure.

Now that the struggle against apartheid is over, the unifying forces that
this brought to the ANC alliance, have gone and in their place are the
normal political forces of policy and programmes that political parties
everywhere have to contend with. The ANC is in power and with this has come
new wealth and privilege. As a consequence many ANC figures and persons
connected to the ANC have suddenly found themselves part of the "Sandton
set" and the beneficiaries of wealth and privilege that they only imagined
in the days of the struggle.

Not so for the poor working class in South Africa from which the membership
of the SACP and COSATU are drawn. They are, if anything more marginalized
and feel left out of the new South Africa. For them little seems to have
changed and they are becoming restless. The tripartite alliance is under

COSATU has gone so far as to visit Brazil to see for itself what a "Workers
Party" can do in a developing country. They were impressed and even came
home with a draft constitution. This is blowing a chill wind under the South
African Presidents chair. As the ANC moves to the right in the South African
context, this tension can only increase.

Mbeki knows this and he fears that an MDC victory, followed by the formation
of a government, which restores our economy and our rights as a people and
then goes on to be a real success in social and political terms, would have
serious implications for the ANC itself. I think he is right and that our
needs as a country are being subordinated to these perceived South African
(ANC) interests.

So we have had all the different games being played by the South African
government here - first the support for Simba Makoni as the Prince
Charming - that fell apart because he had no constituency in Zanu PF itself.
Then the whole fiasco with Munangagwa as Prince Charming. This falling apart
when they tried to go too fast for the "veterans of the war" in the Zanu PF
administration. Had Mugabe gone along with Mbeki in this exercise he would
have made things very difficult for the MDC and might even have attracted
some of the less principled members of the international community to his

As it is Mugabe slapped him in the face, his heir apparent tossed aside and
his spy ring inside Zanu PF was wiped out. MDC now faces a Zanu PF led
regime, without its sharpest minds at the center of things and with an aging
and less and less able coterie of politicians in control. It is a testimony
to the strength of Mbeki's fear of the forces at work in the ANC/COSATU/SACP
alliance that despite all this, he still holds onto his indefensible
position towards Zimbabwe.

This is a very dangerous game for South Africa. Mbeki is sacrificing serious
political capital in his pursuit of this goal. He is in fact sacrificing
economic growth in South Africa and much of the promise of NEPAD on this
regional spat. In doing so he is in fact strengthening the very forces he
fears in South Africa itself and perhaps hastening the day when a new
democratic movement on the left will emerge to challenge the ANC for
supremacy in South Africa. It took 20 years in Zimbabwe; it will take less
time in South Africa.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 19th March 2005

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The Standard
Mhondoro District Hospital turns away bleeding man
By Bertha Shoko

MHONDORO - She looked helplessly as her hapless husband lay motionless in a donkey-drawn scotch cart, which she had hired to bring him to the health centre. Her hope was he would get medication.

But staff at Mhondoro District Hospital could not assist her husband.

They had no drugs, not even cotton wool to block the blood that was oozing from his nose and mouth.

Shelter Chakaipa of Musinamani Village brought her critically ill husband, Tamanikwa, for treatment at the hospital in a hired scotch-cart, but was shell-shocked whenshe was told the hospital had no drugs, not even ordinary painkillers.

She said Tamanikwa was suffering from severe nose and mouth bleeding.

They were referred to Chegutu, several kilometres away. She did not have any money to hire a vehicle nor could she use the scorch-cart because of the distance.

Chakaipa said: "My husband has been sick for the past four days. We took him to Musinamani clinic. We were referred here (Mhondoro District Hospital) but we have been told there is no medicine to treat him. They say we have to proceed to Chegutu.

"I don't know what to do now because we have no money and no transport to take him there. We hired this scotch cart, to bring him here but because Chegutu is further away, we don't know what to do."

Touched by the plight of the couple, a few wellwishers who had witnessed the incident contributed a few "cents" to assist them to travel to Chegutu for medical assistance.

Although Mhondoro Hospital has been operational for more than 20 years, the health centre does not have an ambulance to ferry patients in case of an emergency.

Nelson Makore, nurse- in-charge of Mhondoro Hospital dismissed claims that Chakaipa had been "turned away", insisting that the move was part of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare's referral system.

"We have not turned them away, but we have refereed them to a place where we know they will get better services," Makore said.

"We do not keep patients when we know there is nothing we can do for them."

Asked why the hospital had no basic medical supplies such as cotton wool and general painkillers, Makore said they were "just out of supplies".

Zimbabwe's health delivery system, which was once the envy of Africa, is experiencing its worst crisis since independence. There is a critical shortage of drugs, equipment and medical personnel. Scores of nurses and other medical staff have left the country for greener pastures abroad.

Meanwhile as Taminikwa lay seriously ill outside the hospital, aspiring Mhondoro Zanu PF candidate, Sylvester Nguni, was addressing a rally in the locality, pleading with civil servants to "vote wisely" in the forthcoming elections.

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The Standard
MDC raises stink over polling stations
By Valentine Maponga

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the current distribution of polling stations for the forthcoming elections favours Zanu PF because most of them are located in rural areas, the ruling party's stronghold.

The parliamentary elections are scheduled for 31 March.

In some cases, the opposition party alleged, the polling stations are situated at headmen and chiefs' homesteads. The majority of traditional leaders are known Zanu PF supporters.

MDC spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi said that there were more polling stations in rural constituencies than in urban centres, where the opposition party enjoys political support.

"Some of the polling stations have been put in areas which are not easily accessible and I think this is a deliberate attempt by Zanu PF to rig this election. This is not an issue of population density; who doesn't know that Zanu PF enjoys more support in rural constituencies," Themba-Nyathi said.

Polling stations were increased to 8 227, up from below 5 000 used in the 2000 general elections. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) however, argues that the increase in number of polling stations was because voting would now be done on a single day.

Addressing a rally in Marondera recently MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai complained about the increased number of polling stations saying this would facilitate poll rigging.

MDC candidate for Mudzi West, Shorai Tsungu, said some of the polling stations were situated at known Zanu PF supporters' homes and headmen's homesteads.

A list of the polling stations in Mudzi West shows that Hodzi Homestead, Tizora Homestead, Chitseke Tuckshop and a number of Villages are going to be used as polling stations. "This time the polling stations are too many," Tsungu said.

He said there are 90 polling stations in the constituency catering for about 180 villages.

MDC candidate for Zengeza constituency, Goodrich Chimbaira, was worried about a polling station, which is in Chawasarira bus garage. However, a list from ZEC indicates that the polling station would be on an open space.

"The polling station is supposed to be an open space but thee is no open space at all. We tried to argue that this was not the right place but Christopher Chigumba (Zanu PF candidate) insisted," Chimbaira said. There are 29 polling stations in the constituency.

In some instances, there will also be two polling stations at one school. Clinics would also be used as polling stations.

The MDC said in Harare there are a number of polling stations that are situated in housing co-operatives that are dominantly Zanu PF.

The affected constituencies include Harare North, Harare South and Tafara-Mabvuku.

"Some polling stations in Kariba are on islands and I think they would be used to rig this election," said the MDC.

ZEC chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi said political parties with complaints on the electoral processes should contact the organisation.

"We have not received any information or complaints about that, but if anyone has a problem they should consult us," Sekeramayi said.

Zanu PF spokesperson on elections, Webster Shamu, was still to respond to questions faxed to him by the time of going to print.

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