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

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The Standard
More mudslinging than campaigning

MUCH of the "campaigning" that has taken place since the announcement of the 31 March polling date, has done little to persuade people that they are being presented with real choices.

The main purpose of an election campaign is to convince the electorate that a particular party will undertake significant time-critical changes designed to improve the quality of life for the citizens of a country.

In a case such as the current set up, where there are primarily two major parties vying for a chance to form a government, what people expect is to see which one of the two appears to offer a credible and viable programme that has a reasonable chance of being implemented for their benefit.

While it is not merely a process of putting expressions of intent on paper, what is critical for the electorate is how much of the campaigning closely mirrors their manifestoes.

However, what the electorate has been subjected to are contests in denigrating each other. The fact that the ruling party started hurling insults at the opposition does not mean the opposition should descend to the same depths. If anything, doing the opposite would demonstrate how focused a party is in its determination not to be sucked into unenlightening mudslinging, being presented as campaigning.

President Robert Mugabe feels very strongly about how hard-done he has been by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, but to make that the central theme of his party's campaign is to suggest that this is the main issue before the country during this election.

Last week he criticised the decision by the Electoral Court nullifying the results of the nomination court for Chimanimani. This is how the government has reacted to decisions against it during the past five years and this is what the next five years could be.

Yet, if anything, the preoccupation among the majority of Zimbabweans is whether there are prospects for employment or how real the threat of being thrown into the streets is and whether they will be able to provide for their families or face hunger. There are people who have lost hope of securing employment, while many others live in perpetual terror of whether or not their job is next on the line, and how, if that happens, they will make ends meet.

The fact that at just about every available street corner there are people selling identical basic commodities is not a measure of their entrepreneurial spirit. Instead, it is a mark of desperation, but at the same time a demonstration of their pride and determination in doing something for themselves. They are not content with being recipients of handouts.

The message for any political party that is serious and wants voters to support it is to ask itself: what can it do for the person who wants a job to support his/her family? What will it do in order to persuade those with resources to invest so that they can contribute to the development of the country, while at the same time creating jobs and providing opportunities for others to support or rival theirs? In making all these pledges there should always be a timeframe for implementation and completion.

If the commitment is to create more employment opportunities by attracting investors, then it is important to say how this will be possible, because what has happened during the past five years has been a sustained attack on foreign and domestic investment, to the extent that even domestic investors are uncertain whether they will not wake up tomorrow to find themselves being declared saboteurs or enemies of the State.

What is very clear about the state of the nation is that Zimbabwe is in this predicament because the ruling party has failed to deliver. It has simply run out of ideas to rejuvenate the economy.

During the period between 1980 and 1990 Zimbabwe performed well and the world agreed that it deserved all the support it needed in order to make a success of its experiment. But at the end of the first decade of independence, Zimbabwe had exhausted all its creativity. Unfortunately, instead of acknowledging this weakness and enlisting assistance, the government began to see conspiracies aimed at unseating it. And the more its failures became pronounced, the more it behaved like a cornered beast.

The collapse of companies and the subsequent rise in unemployment, now estimated at 80 percent, the collapse of the health sector best demonstrated by the plight of Harare Hospital and the flight of more than 25 percent of the population of this country into the Diaspora can all be blamed on the ruling party.

Its attempts at reducing everyone to a farmer are short-term and designed to buy breathing space for Zanu PF. Most agriculturally productive nations of this world have fewer farmers than Zimbabwe is trying to create. The people who produce America's and Europe's food mountains are only a small fraction of the populations of these countries.

The Movement for Democratic Change's main draw card has been that if the people of this country have put up with 25 years of Zanu PF, they will be prepared to experiment with a party that, on the basis of its performance at local government level, appears to offer a real alternative before Zanu PF came along and spoiled everything because it could not bear the thought of someone doing better where it had failed.

The MDC seems to labour under the belief that it will capitalise on a rejection vote for the ruling party. There are so many people who are beneficiaries of Zanu PF's patronage and a recent survey by Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) would appear to support the extent of the ruling party's base. Those who have benefited from Zanu PF will fight to the finish to ensure their benefactor continues in power.

The task for the MDC is not merely accurately diagnosing the problem Zimbabwe faces. It is also about going beyond vague promises for the people of this nation to make an informed choice of who to entrust with the governance of this country for the next five years.

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Public Debate
Long Live Harare!

2005 Elections: Whither Harare?

Tuesday 22nd March 2005
6 pm to 8 pm
Crowne Plaza Monomotapa Hotel Harare

The Combined Harare Residents Association invites you to participate in a
public debate with contesting candidates in Harare's parliamentary
constituencies. Come and interrogate their policies on such crucial topics

* Local government,
* How to end the crisis in Harare,
* City governance and the participation of residents
* Transparency & Accountability
* The Water Crisis

Moderator: Professor Brian Raftopoulos

Your silence and non-participation will only promote the decay and collapse
of our city

Phone 011 612 860 for more info

CHRA for transparent, democratic and accountable local government
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Zimbabwe opposition says to rebuild farm sector
20 Mar 2005 18:03:58 GMT
Source: Reuters
By MacDonald Dzirutwe

NYANYADZI, Zimbabwe, March 20 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader made a rural campaign push on Sunday, promising to rebuild the country's feeble agriculture sector and allow aid agencies to feed the hungry.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), also told supporters at a rally in a village in the MDC stronghold of Chimanimani in Manicaland province that President Robert Mugabe had worsened a food shortage by slamming the door on aid agencies last year.

Tsvangirai said the MDC would seize farms from multiple owners if it wins March 31 parliamentary elections, adding the opposition would help farmers with cash and other incentives to increase production in the key agriculture sector.

The MDC and other critics of Mugabe's government charge that the veteran 81-year-old leader's land seizures have largely benefited ruling party officials at the expense of needy people. Mugabe denies the charge.

"We are saying one person one farm and we will give you all the necessary support to farm and if you fail we will remove you from the farm and put those in who are productive," Tsvangirai told a gathering of more than 3,000.

"The most important thing about land is being able to farm and produce ... Mugabe chased away all NGOs (non-governmental organisations) that were feeding people, what kind of cruelty is that," Tsvangirai told the cheering crowd at the village about 370 km (230 miles) southeast of the capital Harare.

Mugabe last week admitted for the first time the country faced food shortages but told voters in his ruling ZANU-PF's rural strongholds that his government would not let them starve.

The food shortages magnify Zimbabwe's long political and economic crisis which analysts say has been compounded by Mugabe's controversial policies, including seizures of white owned farms for blacks which disrupted the southern African country's key agriculture sector.

Tsvangirai said the MDC would allow aid agencies to operate in the country if it won the polls later this month.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party faces a stiff challenge to its 25-year grip on power from the MDC, but analysts say his party is still likely to win despite internal wrangling over the issue of his successor, which has seen some expelled members stand as independent candidates.

The opposition says it can now campaign in ZANU-PF rural strongholds for the first time in five years and has vowed to win the parliamentary polls despite what it says are unfair conditions for a free poll.

Tsvangirai said reorganising the farming sector would create employment for the rural poor and said an MDC government would attract foreign investment.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

We will establish a truth commission if elected:MDC

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-21

THE MDC says if elected into power, the opposition party will establish a
truth and reconciliation commission-similar to that in South Africa in
1994-to look into the post independence civil war in Matabeleland and the
Midlands in the early 1980s.
The move immediately drew mixed reactions from political commentators with
some saying it could open up old wounds and further split an already
polarised nation while others said it was necessary to establish what
exactly transpired.
Speaking during a public meeting last week, MDC spokesperson for Bulawayo,
Victor Moyo said there was need for the commission to unravel what
transpired during the Gukurahundi era.
The government unleashed the North Korean trained Five Brigade in
Matabeleland and the Midlands in counter insurgence operations against
An estimated 20 000 people died during the civil strife in Matabeleland and
"An MDC government will, once elected after March 31, make sure that the
issue of Gukurahundi that haunted the Matabeleland and the Midlands areas in
the 1980's is looked at thoroughly with a focus to redress the situation.
"The ruling Zanu PF government has failed to address that issue since then
and we promise the people of Matabeleland that we will not drink from the
same well as Zanu PF.
The MDC government will seek to establish a truth and reconciliation
commission that will look into this issue because we believe the people of
the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces deserve better than what the Zanu PF
government has done so far," Moyo said.
He added that his party's government would also endeavour to establish a
fund that would cater for compensating the victims of the Gukurahundi era
while at the same time according the victims a decent burial.
Said Moyo: "At the moment, there are no decent burials that have been given
to the victims of the era and we feel that in order for us to appease the
spirits of these people, there is an urgent need to accord them decent
burials."Secondly, there has been no compensation to the families of the
victims and that in itself means that there is no seriousness in what the
present government is saying to the people."
But questions to be asked from this move are why now? Why open up old wounds
when the rest of Zimbabwe is talking of unity? Is this not just politicking
ahead of the general elections? Why set in motion an exercise likely to
split the country down the middle?
To these questions, political commentator Eldred Masunungure said: "I don't
think there is anything inherently wrong in establishing a truth and
reconciliation commission if it has an agenda beyond mere partisanship. We
need to know and respect our history.
If the agenda is fault finding instead of fact finding with a view of
retribution, then it is wrong. Why do they want to probe that particular
period only? Why not the first, second and third Chimurenga if the idea is
The move has the potential to open up a pandora  box and divide an already
polarised nation."
He said people should not politick with such delicate matters
adding that if a commission had to be instituted it should comprise of very
cool and level headed individuals to deal with such a sensitive matter.
Former chairperson of Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, Brian Raftopulous had this
to say: "It's long over due. It should have been done a long time ago.
Reports were compiled by both civic organisations and government, but some
of them were never made public. The commission must come up with what
transpired and corrective measures taken."
Zanu PF's secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said: "The idea is
stupid. The MDC should go far back and not just start with Gukurahundi. What
are they trying to achieve and why do they want to waste people's time?"
Meanwhile, Moyo said an MDC government would declare the HIV and Aids
scourge a national disaster.The MDC, Moyo said, would make Anti-Retroviral
drugs accessible and affordable to people living positively with the HIV and
Aids virus.
"We will strive to make sure that more budgetary allocations are made to
fight the HIV and Aids scourge as opposed to the current scenario where
serious budgetary allocations are made towards the army and the police.
"Zimbabwe is not at war hence there is no need to channel a bigger chunk of
the country's budget towards the army and the police as there are other
things such as the Aids scourge that really need serious funding from the
national budget," Moyo said.
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Zimbabwe police summon activist over poll report
20 Mar 2005 15:09:56 GMT
Source: Reuters
HARARE, March 20 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police summoned the head of a rights group on Sunday over a report implicating the police in incidents seen undermining free parliamentary elections next week, his lawyer said.

The report also charges that President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party is using food as a political tool by demanding party cards from hungry voters before the election.

The ruling party faces the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the March 31 parliamentary polls.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) Chairman Lovemore Madhuku was questioned for about four hours but not charged over the report released last Thursday, lawyer Alec Muchadehama told Reuters.

"He was not formally arrested and no charges were made. Police said they would continue with investigations," Muchadehama said.

Police chief spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said Madhuku was needed to assist in investigations into allegations in the NCA report.

The report suggested that police and other state security agents were involved in "the commission of pre-election crimes including assault, murder, the closure of schools, unlawful arrests", Bvudzijena said.

"In our view these are very serious crimes and any Zimbabwean citizen has an obligation to ensure that those crimes are thoroughly investigated. We called Mr Madhuku into my office ... and we had a meeting with him," he said.

Ruling ZANU-PF is widely expected to win the election in the country despite a deep economic crisis which has seen widespread food shortages in recent years.

The NCA said it obtained its information from community monitors in eight of the country's 10 provinces and that they backed the allegations of food supply manipulation.

It said while the political violence that characterised Zimbabwe's last two polls in 2000 and 2002 had declined, hate speech, threats and intimidation were rife.

The police have previously denied charges of bias in favour of the ruling party when dealing with politically related legal matters.

The NCA is a loose coalition of churches, student and labour unions, business and rights groups that has lobbied for a new constitution to replace one it says entrenches Mugabe's power. The NCA denies charges that it is anti-government.

(Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka)
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Election Watch

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-21

Zanu PF Harare

ZANU PF held two rallies in the capital on March 16 in Kambuzuma and Harare
East. The party's candidate for Kambuzuma constituency Samuel Mvurume
addressed about 500 people in Warren Park where he urged the attendants to
vote for the ruling party.
Mvurume told the gathering he was building a clinic at the Joshua Nkomo
Housing Scheme. He distributed campaign material and food handouts to 40
orphans and the elderly in Warren Park D. Mvurume later offered free medical
services to those in attendance. In Harare East, Muvengwa Mukarati, the Zanu
PF candidate addressed about 200 people at the Portuguese Association Sports
Club in Greendale. He unveiled his plans for development projects in the
constituency, which included the construction of more clinics. Mukarati also
said he would lobby the government to subsidise education for those who
cannot afford school fees.


Zanu PF held campaign meetings on March 15 at Machoka and Ndali in Chiredzi
North attended by an average of 2 000 people at Velemu and Chikovo schools
in Chiredzi South and at Pink Pigeon in Masvingo Central. In Chiredzi North
Celine Pote, the ruling party's candidate teamed up with her challenger in
the primaries Otilia Maluleke on her campaign trail. They castigated the MDC
for being a front for whites that wanted to reverse the gains of
independence.    They also urged the people to shun tribalism and vote in
large numbers to ensure a Zanu PF victory.
Aaron Baloyi, the ruling party's candidate for Chiredzi South addressed the
two meetings in the constituency where he promised that government was to
avail adequate food aid to the people to cushion them from drought. In
Masvingo Central, Shylet Uyoyo, the party's candidate urged the people to
vote for Zanu PF in order to consolidate the gains of independence.


ZANU PF candidate for Chirumanzu, Edwin Muguti held two rallies in the
constituencies at Linwood farm and at Moffart farm with average attendances
of about 300 people. The meetings were also addressed by Innocent Chikiyi,
the incumbent Zanu PF MP for the constituency who told the gathering that he
and Muguti were close associates contrary to speculation of bad blood
between them.
He said speculation of bad blood was being peddled by the MDC whose
candidate for the constituency Regis Fambisai intended to recruit him but
failed. Chikiyi and Muguti promised to work together to improve public
transport, health and educational facilities in the constituency.

The MDC candidate for Mbare Gift Chimanikire addressed about 100 people at
Stodart Hall on March 16. In his address Chimanikire told the gathering that
if the MDC wins the two-thirds majority in Parliament, its first agenda
would be to pass a vote of no confidence in President Robert Mugabe and call
for an immediate presidential election.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials, Pardon Marufu and Mike Chiremba who
enlightened the attendants that polling will be conducted over one day and
that translucent ballot boxes will be used for the exercise also addressed
the meeting. They also announced that Mbare would have 31 polling stations


The MDC held two rallies at Chidamoyo Business Centre and Manungu Business
Centre in Gokwe and was attended by an average of 100 people. The meetings
were addressed by the party's candidate for the constituency Aaron Chinhara
who blamed the Zanu PF candidate Lovemore Mupukuta for failing to develop
the constituency during his tenure as MP. MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai
addressed about 3 000 people at Tshovani Stadium in Chiredzi North
constituency on March 15. In his address, Tsvangirai told the gathering that
an MDC government would do away with the national youth service describing
it as irrelevant and only meant to intimidate people into voting for Zanu
PF. He claimed that President Mugabe's donation of computers to schools is a
useless political ploy since the education system was in a shambles. The
opposition leader further alleged that the respect and incentives being
accorded to traditional leaders by the government were meant to politicise
their subjects into voting for Zanu PF. He called upon the people to vote
for his party's candidate Zvirevo Ngirivani.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

No to election violence: Zesn

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-21

THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has called for zero tolerance
to intimidation and political violence in the run-up, during and after the
March 31 parliamentary election.

The organisation said it had put 240 long-term observers in all 120
constituencies, in a bid to keep the nation updated on events happening
around the country.
"This update seeks to give brief updates from our long-term observers,
provincial coordinators, members and any other sources within our networks,"
Zesn said in a statement on Friday.
The organisation urged members of the public, contesting candidates and the
media to desist from using provocative language that incites violence,
adding that the prevailing peace and tranquility should be encouraged for a
violence-free election.
It also commended messages denouncing political violence and hoped that
every citizen would take them seriously.
"We believe that a culture of tolerance and respect of individual political
affiliation has to prevail in a society so that democracy prevails," it said
Police, Zesn said, should play a key role in denouncing acts of violence and
not to be biased towards one party.
Perpetrators of violence should also be brought to book, despite their
position in society, it said.
Zimbabwe will hold its sixth parliamentary election since independence in
1980 on March 31, 2005.
Several political parties and independent candidates will contest the
election that will mainly pit the ruling Zanu PF party against the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). - New Ziana.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe


The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Mar-21

FINANCIALLY-troubled Harare City Council has failed to remit tax to the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) on the set deadline.
The capital city, which is also facing problems in remitting workers'
contributions to the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), failed to
meet its obligations to Zimra last month.
According to minutes from the council's executive committee held on February
28 2005, acting city treasurer Cosmas Zvikaramba said the council's
financial position was still precarious. This had resulted in Town House
failing to remit Pay As You Earn (PAYE) to Zimra by the set date - February
16 2005.
"The acting City Treasurer also reported that the city would soon face
problems with Zimra after failing to remit PAYE to the authority by the set
deadline of 16th February 2005. A substantial amount of VAT was also due to
the authority. However, the acting City Treasurer had indicated to Zimra
that the city was not in a position to pay the amount," read the minutes.
The Town Clerk, Nomutsa Chideya, also admitted that there were little
prospects of success in the negotiations with Zimra.
"The committee sought clarification on the prospects of negotiations with
NSSA and Zimra in view of the prevailing financial position of council. The
Town Clerk advised that negotiations with Zimra were not feasible since the
authority had targets from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
to meet," said the executive committee.
Last year, Zimra garnished the local authorities' Standard Chartered Bank
account after the city council failed to pay taxes, a situation that forced
council to pay salaries from its Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) capital
Last month, the city council failed to pay some of its employees on time
because of financial problems.
Creditors, some of them unpaid since last August, are now demanding cash on
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Madhuku picked up

Constantine Chimakure
issue date :2005-Mar-21

COMBATIVE chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) Lovemore
Madhuku was yesterday picked up by the police for questioning over a damning
report his organisation distributed last week on alleged political violence
and instability in the country.
The report, dubbed Consolidated Election Climate No 1, was circulated to the
media and diplomatic missions in Harare.
Madhuku told The Daily Mirror yesterday that some uniformed officers arrived
at his Parktown house at around 6am.
"I told them that I was busy with family business
and they waited until about 8.30am when they started hooting for me to come
out of the house which I did and they whisked me away," said Madhuku, whose
organisation is on the warpath with the government to overhaul the current
He said he was taken to the Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) where he was
interrogated over the damning report.
Police national spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said Madhuku was not arrested
but only asked to explain the allegations contained in the NCA report on
politically motivated murder, sexual assault, torture, forced closure of
schools and the uniformed forces' participation in his accusations.
"Madhuku was not arrested. We did not take him to Harare Central Police
Station, but to PGHQ's public relations department. We made it clear to him
that he was not under arrest," Bvudzijena said.
Madhuku, he added, like any other Zimbabwean, was obliged to assist the
police with information during investigations.
"If we want to arrest him, we will certainly arrest him," Bvudzijena said.
However, Madhuku was not formally charged although the police said they
reserve the right to arrest him, if the need arises.
He added that the NCA report had fabricated cases of political violence.
"We are saying the contents of the report are false. We are not aware of
cases of murder, sexual assault and torture in the count down to the
parliamentary elections. We have asked Madhuku to explain where they got the
information. He has pledged to assist us. That document was meant for the
international gallery as we are not aware of the cases contained therein,"
Bvudzijena added.
Madhuku is expected to produce evidence to the police today.
Madhuku's lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said: "He was not formally arrested. He
was taken in for questioning. They wanted him to verify some aspects of a
report on pre-election climate that the NCA released last week. The police
have given him up to 2.30pm today (yesterday) to verify some contents of the
report," Muchadehama said.
Madhuku later went back to PGHQ and met Bvudzijena and Boyce Matema, the
head of police's law and order department.
"I met Bvudzijena and Matema in the afternoon and confirmed every paragraph
and full stop in the report," Madhuku said.
He said he was advised that police would proceed with investigations and
press charges if necessary.
Since 2000 Madhuku has been repeatedly arrested for organising
demonstrations pushing for a new constitution in Zimbabwe.
At one time, riot police severely beat up the constitutional lawyer before
dumping him in a bush adjacent the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
In its report, the NCA said the forthcoming general elections would not be
free and fair because of alleged political instability prevailing in the
It claimed that incidents of political violence, infringement of freedoms of
expression, association, movement, assembly and other electoral
irregularities were being perpetrated to a larger extend by Zanu PF, the
police and some members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
The report read: "Even though violence is greatly reduced from previous
elections and from previous months, the election climate is far from free,
and here one aspect that causes concern is the frequent report of partisan
behaviour on the part of the police and the security agencies."
The NCA claimed that there was physical, gender, inter and intra party
violence in the countdown to the election.
In contrast to the previous elections, noted the NCA, most incidents of
political instability were recorded in urban areas than in rural areas.
"The shift towards urban constituencies showing a poorer election climate
than rural constituencies marks a change from previous elections, and
suggests that the battleground for this election is in urban areas, where
the Movement for Democratic Change has been the stronger of the two main
parties since 2000," the NCA said.
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Zim Online

Zimbabwe has failed to implement SADC guidelines, says rights group
Mon 21 March 2005
      JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe has not adequately implemented Southern
African Development Community (SADC) guidelines for democratic elections and
the country's March 31 election is unlikely to be free and fair, an
international human rights group has said.

      In a report released today, the United States-based Human Rights Watch
(HRW) group said five years of violence and intimidation against the
opposition and ordinary citizens have cowed the nation and ensured the
scales for next week's poll remain heavily tilted in favour of President
Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

      The human rights watchdog noted that Harare had taken some "positive
steps" to ensure the election was free and fair. But the group cautioned
against assessing Zimbabwe's poll on the basis of events in the final weeks
or on the few measures by Mugabe to comply with the SADC protocol.

      "It is imperative that SADC electoral observers and others do not
assess whether the March 31 elections are free and fair only on the basis of
observations of the final weeks of the elections. They must also take into
account the effects of the past five years of violence," the HWR report
reads in part.

      The report entitled, 'Not a Level Playing Field: Zimbabwe's
Parliamentary Elections in 2005' adds: "Opposition party members and
ordinary citizens have been intimidated by ruling party supporters and
officials, war veterans, and youth militia. The government has, thus,
substantially infringed the rights of Zimbabweans to freely form and express
their political opinions and electoral judgments.

      The report entitled, 'Not a Level Playing Field: Zimbabwe's
Parliamentary Elections in 2005' adds: "Opposition party members and
ordinary citizens have been intimidated by ruling party supporters and
officials, war veterans, and youth militia. The government has, thus,
substantially infringed the rights of Zimbabweans to freely form and express
their political opinions and electoral judgments.

      "In short, due to this climate of intimidation and repression, the
playing field for the 2005 election has not been level. The ruling party's
claims that new electoral acts meet the SADC Principles and Guidelines are
not supported by the evidence."

      A new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) established earlier this
year to run elections independent of the government as required under the
SADC protocol was neither independent nor impartial, HRW said.

      Repressive state security and Press laws used selectively and
arbitrarily against the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party and to gag the media remained in force while the "same partisan"
electoral institutions and officials such as controversial registrar general
Tobaiwa Mudede who ran flawed elections in 2000 and 2002 were still in
charge of the electoral process, according to the HRW.

      "As a result, the elections are highly unlikely to reflect the free
expression of the electorate," the group said.

      HRW urged SADC governments to call on Mugabe and his government to
issue a public statement reassuring intimidated Zimbabweans that their vote
will be secret and that there will be no retribution after the election.

      Harare must also ensure that all observer missions had free access to
all parts of the country, the group said. It also called on the SADC
observer team to remain "in Zimbabwe for a reasonable period beyond the vote
count to monitor possible election-related human rights violations."

      The upcoming poll is seen as a test of whether SADC governments will
hold Mugabe to the regional elections protocol signed last August in a bid
to engender democracy in the region.

      Among other key conditions, the protocol requires independent
commissions to run elections while electoral laws and processes must be fair
and transparent.

      Governments are also required to facilitate the full participation of
citizens in the governance of their country and human rights and the rule of
law must be upheld during elections according to the protocol. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Pressure group boss arrested
Mon 21 March 2005
  HARARE - Police yesterday arrested and later set free National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku over a damning
pre-election report released last week.

      NCA lawyer Alec Machadehama, said Madhuku was picked up from his
Waterfalls home by the police from the Law and Order section early yesterday
morning over the contents of the report.

      Muchadehama said: "It was a strange arrest. Legally it was not an
arrest because the police said they only wanted him to verify the
information in the report," said Muchadehama.

      In its report, the NCA said there was no chance for a free and fair
election in Zimbabwe citing serious flaws in the electoral process and voter
intimidation. Zimbabwe goes to the polls next week.

      Police spokesperson Wayne Bvunzijena could not be reached for comment
on the arrest. But police officials handling the case, said they wanted to
interview the NCA boss to verify some of the allegations in the report.

      "We did not want to arrest him. Citizens can provide information to
the police so that arrests can be made or an issue can be addressed," said a
police officer, who refused to be named.

      However, Jessie Majome, the NCA spokeswoman dismissed the police's
assertion as baseless.

      "If the intention was to use the information (in the report) to arrest
the culprits the report is referring to, the police could have waited for
Monday (today) and not arrest him on a Sunday," said Majome, who is a
lawyer. "It is clear that the police want to instil fear in us. We are not
changing our position."

      The NCA is a coalition of churches, human rights and pro-democracy
groups and political parties fighting for a new constitution in Zimbabwe.
The group is opposed to the holding of next week's election saying a new,
democratic constitution is needed first to ensure a free and fair
election. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

MDC's Karoi rally cancelled
Mon 21 March 2005
  KAROI - Police yesterday cancelled a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
campaign rally at this small farming town more than 150 km north-west of
Harare, after the opposition party attempted to change the venue of the

      The MDC had been scheduled to hold a rally at Chikangwe stadium near
the town centre but had to shift to another venue to allow a soccer match
that the town council had also booked for the same stadium to go ahead.

      But when the police, who had initially agreed to the MDC rally, were
informed that the party would now meet its supporters at Rugby Stadium
instead of Chikangwe, they accused the party of wanting to hold two rallies
in the same constituency on a single day which they said they would not

      In a letter to local MDC officials, a police chief superintendent J.E.
Masuka, in charge of police here, wrote: "Your application has been
cancelled because you want to hold two rallies in the same constituency and
police cannot assist."

      Under the government's Public Order and Security Act, Zimbabweans must
seek permission from the police first before meeting in public to discuss
politics. But the law does not limit the number of meetings a political
party or candidate can hold in any one area in a day.

      Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi could not be reached for comment on
the matter.

      The MDC says the police have selectively used the security Act to
derail its campaign ahead of the March 31 poll by frequently denying it
permission to hold rallies.

      An MDC official here, Mike Chinembiri said: "It is disappointing that
the police are being used to harass the opposition and to frustrate every
attempt we make to try and speak to our supporters." - ZimOnline

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NEWS RELEASE - 'The Zimbabwean' Online
Circulated by Sokwanele for 'The Zimbabwean' : 20 March 2005

The Zimbabwean, the only newspaper available to Zimbabweans internationally, goes online on Monday at

The publication, which was launched on February 11 with simultaneous weekly editions in the UK and South Africa, has been hailed as a major step in bridging the information gap between millions of Zimbabweans in the diaspora and their troubled homeland. It is also a vital source of independent and accurate information to Zimbabweans at home who have been snapping up the 10 000 copies shipped in weekly from Johannesburg in a matter of hours.

"The website is very user friendly. We have purposely kept it simple, quick to download and easy to access - specially for people in Zimbabwe where there is limited bandwidth. We are grateful to the Guardian Foundation, Guardian Unlimited and Kitsite for technical assistance and the design,” said the publisher Wilf Mbanga.

The entire newspaper will be available on the website free of charge. “We are indebted to the many people around the world who have already subscribed to the physical newspaper,” said Mbanga. “The online version is intended to be a complementary information source and will add value to the print version.”

Since its inception The Zimbabwean has attracted much opprobrium from the authorities in Harare. “All we want to do is inform people about what’s going on so that they, in turn, can make informed choices,” said Mbanga. “We are merely asserting the right of all Zimbabweans to freedom of expression and access to information.”

The tabloid weekly contains news from Zimbabwe as well as life in exile. The content includes politics, art and culture, business, sports, gender, human rights and social issues, news backgrounders and analysis. Letters to the editor and classified advertisements are key features.

The Zimbabwean is an authoritative and accurate newspaper of record and a reliable source of information for all those individuals, agencies and governments with an interest in Zimbabwe. A news blackout is dangerous for any society. The forthcoming general election scheduled for March adds urgency. Our coverage is accurate, fair and balanced. We endeavour to give all viewpoints, and everyone – including the government of Zimbabwe – has the right of reply,” said Mbanga.

Wilf Mbanga
The Zimbabwean Limited
Tel/Fax: 02380 879675
mobile Wilf: 07963963547
General: 07714736382
P O Box 248, Hythe, SO45 4WX

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The Standard
A man of all seasons
Shavings from the Woodpecker

Hypocrites AN irate journalist from the State media accosted me the other day. Almost frothing at the mouth, she shouted: "How dare you?"

A few minutes passed, during which my fertile imagination travelled the whole world and back, before it finally dawned on me that the subject of the female journalist's furious outburst was none other than the story in The Standard the other week which said the sacked Nutty Professor - Jonathan Moyo - had received a tumultuous reception in Tsholotsho, his home town whose constituency he is trying to win as an independent candidate.

The female journalist, ranting and raving, said "The Standard had let down everyone" by carrying a story on Moyo when the former junior Minister of Information had done everything in his short-lived reign to make the lives of journalists - especially from the private media - hell on earth.

I pointed out to our lady of the pen that it was rich of her to now point out that Moyo was an evil man when over the years her ilk bent over backwards (no pun intended) to please the prickly ex-Minister of Information.

Never one to take a punch lying down, I told her in no uncertain terms that all those journalists at Herald House, Pockets Hill and at the Chronicle and the Sunday News were cowards who were so afraid of Moyo that they never raised a voice against his terrible policies. They allowed him to get away with murder, as they would say in the townships. When he insulted them at meetings and fired their colleagues every time he so felt, they were as meek as lambs.

The debate on whether Moyo should be given space in the media, especially the independent media, rages on. Just as when he was in power, the mad professor from hell still dominates our conversations.

I am, and have said so many times, against perpetuating Moyo's name in the media unnecessarily.

I feel the man has done so much harm to this country and its citizens that it is better we deliberately forget he is still living, and the best way to do that is to ignore him completely.

There are those who say such an attitude is similar to Moyo's who barred other voices from being heard in the State media during his reign.

My argument to all those holier -than-thou people out there is: WereHitler alive today would you give him a platform to explain his evil deeds and perpetuate his legacy?

While I agree with those hysterical anti-Moyo voices that have suddenly sprouted in the State media that we should do everything in our power to obliterate Moyo's memory among Zimbabweans by totally ignoring him, I feel they are the last people to try to educate anyone about responsibilities.

These hypocrites allowed Moyo to become a demi-God in this country and became cheerleaders when he insulted all and sundry and made life hell to all those who opposed his totalitarian ideals.

Before you get too pompous, let me tell you: you people in the State media are as guilty as Moyo - so please don't test our patience by trying to be objective all of a sudden.

Tony, Tony

YOU just have to give it to Tony Blair. The British Prime Minister is probably the only person in history who is fighting two elections in two different countries and in two different continents at almost the same time.

Here in Zimbabwe, Uncle Bob is telling his supporters - Zimbabwean voters and anyone within earshot - that the 31 March poll is an "anti-Blair" election.

Zanu PF youths and women are being seen sporting anti-Blair T-shirts all over town, and both State radio and TV are incessant that Blair is the enemy who has to be defeated in Zimbabwe on 31 March.

In the UK, British opposition parties are almost in agreement with Uncle Bob: Blair is the enemy who must be defeated in Britain come election time on 5 May (as the newspapers have predicted).

So Tony, as many people now call him in the UK, or "B-liar"- as Uncle Bob would say- is a unique man in history: he is probably the first man to fight two elections in two different continents in the same year.

While the polls in the UK say the new Labour leader is likely to scrape through given the mediocrity of the opposition he is facing, Blair - or "Blairites", according to Zanu PF - might not be so successful in Zimbabwe on 31 March.

According to a Woodpecker poll, Zanu PF will just scrape through on 31 March and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - whom Uncle Bob wants everyone to believe are "Blairites" or Blair ruling by remote control - will make a strong showing, especially in the ruling party's traditional stronghold of the rural areas.

All indications, though, are that the MDC would fail to get the majority in Parliament that would force a constitutional crisis in Zimbabwe and perhaps precipitate the early departure from State House of Uncle Bob. Whatever, our Tony really is a man of all seasons.


STILL on our theme on Zimbos in the so-called Diaspora, Woodpecker would like to say he was astounded by the hostility towards the "Homelink" concept exhibited by those that he met during his two-week stay in the cold isles.

Many Zimbabweans view the Homelink concept just as an idea by Zanu PF to steal their hard-earned pounds, while others said they had never heard of it, despite the high-powered delegations that were dispatched to London and other towns to sell the idea of an easier way to transfer money to relatives and friends at home.

While Woodpecker tried to urge friends and relatives to at least take advantage of Homelink to acquire properties in Harare for the day they will return home, what was surprising was that many brushed it off as just another way to con them or to shore up the governing Zanu PF's coffers. Food for thought, Gov.

Beloved father

A FRIEND of Woodpecker emailed this joke:

An old Arab has lived close to New York City for more than 40 years. He would love to plant potatoes in his garden, but he is alone, old and weak. His son is in college in Paris, so the old man sends him e-mail.

He explains the problem: "Beloved son, I am very sad, because I can't plant potatoes in my garden. I am sure, if only you were here, you would help me and dig up the garden for me. I love you ... Your father."

The following day, the old man receives a response e-mail from his son: "Beloved father, please don't touch the garden. It's there that I have hidden 'the THING'. I love you, too ... Ahmed."

At 4pm, the US Army, the Marines, the FBI, the CIA and the Rangers all descend on the old man's house, and take the whole garden apart, searching every inch, but can't find anything. Disappointed, they leave.

A day later, the old man receives another e-mail from his son:

"Beloved father, I hope the garden is dug up by now and you can plant your potatoes. That's all I could do for you from here ... I love you, Ahmed."

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Zimbabwe's 'ghost voters' haunting the MDC

    March 20 2005 at 02:27PM

By Peta Thornycroft

Harare - More than 60 percent of voters registered in one Harare constituency for Zimbabwe's crucial March 31 parliamentary elections are non-existent "ghosts", according to the sitting MP, Trudy Stevenson.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) suspects legions of ghost voters in all of the country's 120 constituencies will play perhaps the decisive role in the elections, because ghosts tend to vote for the ruling Zanu-PF.

Because election authorities refused Stevenson's opposition MDC access to the electronic version of the voters' roll, it tried in a few constituencies to verify the accuracy of the printed roll on foot, going from house to house.

 Stevenson says 64 percent of people in one densely populated block in her constituency, Harare North, are not known at the addresses given on the voters' roll.

She is the only MDC candidate who was able to finish the laborious audit ahead of the deadline for objections to the voters' roll - a month before the poll.

David Coltart, the MDC's legal secretary and MP for Bulawayo South, missed the deadline because his team, also going from house to house, was repeatedly arrested.

This article was originally published on page 2 of Sunday Independent on March 20, 2005
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