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Mugabe under siege

By Abel Mutsakani News Editor
3/21/02 3:10:52 AM (GMT +2)

BELEAGUERED President Robert Mugabe faced the darkest week of his political
career this week when his administration was embarrassingly thrown out of
the Commonwealth, new punitive sanctions were slapped on him and his
lieutenants and workers called a general strike against his rule.

Political analysts said yesterday the mounting pressure could ignite a
rebellion against the 78-year-old leader within his ruling ZANU PF party if
it became clear to reformists that he was leading them into a dead end.

"The reformists may sooner or later begin to see that there is no way they
can carry on like this, with Mugabe in charge, and that it is necessary to
break the deadlock," University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political analyst Brian
Raftopoulos said.

UZ law lecturer and political commentator Emmanuel Magade said the surprise
decision of the Commonwealth troika of Nigeria, South Africa and Australia
to suspend Zimbabwe from the 54-nation group on Tuesday had finally sealed
Zimbabwe’s pariah status both within southern Africa and across the world.

"It is a massive diplomatic blow and a setback for Mugabe and his
government. What it means is that they are now in the same league as the
late Nigerian leader Sani Abacha," Magade noted.

The analysts said South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria’s
Olusegun Obasanjo, until now Mugabe’s staunchest allies who opposed tougher
action by the international community against him, would find it difficult
to protect the Zimbabwean leader after having virtually agreed his
re-election two weeks ago was illegitimate.

The floodgates opened against Mugabe this week when long-time ally Denmark
announced it was closing its Harare embassy and cutting all development aid
in protest against Mugabe’s re-election last week that has been castigated
as a blatant fraud.

Switzerland followed up by slapping travel and financial sanctions on
Mugabe, his top officials and their families.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Phil Goff said Wellington would emulate the
targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his lieutenants, already embraced by
the 15-nation European Union and the United States which rejected the March
9-11 presidential ballot.

New Zealand had also wanted Zimbabwe banned from the Commonwealth Games in
Manchester in July, but Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike
Hooper said the country would still be invited because the sanctions covered
political matters.

Earlier Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, and Japan ¾ the world’s second
biggest economy after the US ¾ also suspended all development aid.

Canada, another long-time ally of the government, last week imposed travel
sanctions on Mugabe and his close aides and also suspended most of its
development aid.

The United States, whose President George W Bush is consulting American
allies to chart further action on Harare’s leaders, said it was looking at
widening travel and financial sanctions it has already imposed on the
Zimbabwean leadership.

The European Union is doing the same.

But it was the surprise decision taken by Mbeki, Obasanjo and Australian
Prime Minister John Howard in London on Tuesday to boot out Harare from the
club of former British colonies which, according to analysts, could signal
the end of the road for Mugabe.

Mugabe had been able to defy the rest of the world so far only because
southern Africa, especially regional economic power South Africa, had stood
by him, the analysts noted.

But they said Mbeki, who is seeking to sell an ambitious African economic
recovery plan to the West, would now be under increased pressure to be
tougher with a leader he has clearly agreed is in power by default.

The analysts said Zimbabwe’s governance crisis could end up being brought
before the United Nations’ Security Council, where some countries could seek
the global issuing of arrest warrants against the Zimbabwean leadership over
charges of gross human rights abuse.

British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, who has twice tried to effect a
citizens’ arrest on Mugabe, said: "Charges could be brought under the UN
Convention Against Torture, based on some of the hundreds of incidents of
state-sanctioned torture documented by Zimbabwe’s human rights watchdog, the
Amani Trust, during the last year."

Although a labour strike against Mugabe appeared to flop yesterday, the
analysts said more domestic pressure appeared to be on the horizon,
threatening to unsettle the veteran leader, who has been in power for the
past 22 years.

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The Times

March 21, 2002

Tsvangirai treason charge dashes conciliation hope
From Jan Raath in Harare

HOPES of political reconciliation in Zimbabwe were extinguished yesterday
after Morgan Tsvangirai, the Opposition leader, appeared in court charged
with treason.
Just two days after the presidents of South Africa and Nigeria urged
President Mugabe to hold negotiations with his opponent, Mr Tsvangirai was
fingerprinted at Harare Central Police station and taken to Harare
magistrates’ court. He was accused of plotting to kill the President based
on a widely discredited television documentary.

Dominic Muzavasi, the magistrate, ordered him to pay bail of Zim$1.5 million
(£18,950) and surety of Zim$3 million in property. Mr Tsvangirai was also
ordered to surrender his passport and report to police once a week.

The same allegations face Renson Gasela, the Movement for Democratic Change’
s shadow agriculture minister, and Welshman Ncube, the secretary-general.
Both men were granted bail and were not asked to plead. No trial date was
set, but they must appear again in court on April 30.

“This particular appearance is simply the continued harassment of Morgan
Tsvangirai and members of his party,” Eric Matinenga, his lawyer, said.
“Maybe it is a knee-jerk reaction to events that unfolded yesterday in
London,” he added, referring to the decision by the Commonwealth to suspend
Zimbabwe for a year after the organisation’s observer group concluded that
presidential elections had been neither free nor fair.

On Monday, President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Mbeki of South Africa
held talks with Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai, telling them a government of
national unity was the only way to resolve the country’s crisis.

A controversial Australian documentary broadcast last month appeared to show
Mr Tsvangirai trying to hire a company of Canadian political consultants to
assassinate Mr Mugabe.

However, analysis of the videotape showed it had been digitally manipulated,
and the head of the consultancy admitted he was under contract to do public
relations work for Mr Mugabe.

The charges of treason coincided with the first day of a three-day national
strike protesting against Mr Mugabe’s win in the flawed election. However,
it won limited support and most areas were reported to be calm.

Wellington Chibhebhe, Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions, said by midday yesterday 55 per cent of the country’s workforce had
gone on strike, but he blamed intimidation by ruling party militias for the
low turnout.

In the central city of Gweru, he said, businesses had been ordered by
soldiers to reopen. “Banks were forced to open and many people were taken
from their homes to work,” he said.

In other areas, war veterans were collecting names from companies of people
who had not turned up to work.

Police said the stay-away was “an illegal politically motivated action
designed to spark an uprising against the democratically elected Government”

The Norwegian observer mission attacked Mr Mugabe’s campaign of reprisals
against MDC supporters yesterday and said it was “evidence of a co-ordinated
effort not to allow the election results to reflect the will of the people”.

Six political killings by Mr Mugabe’s militias have been reported since his
controversial victory was announced the Wednesday before last.

Colin Cloete, president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU), said that
“harassment, looting, eviction and extortion as well as political
retribution have reached alarming proportions”.

President Mugabe’s sister is alleged to have menaced Terry Ford, the white
farmer shot by a mob on Monday, because she wanted his land (Daniel McGrory
writes). Sabina Mugabe, who is an MP, was said to have gone to Terry Ford’s
farm in Norton 16 months ago and given him an ultimatum to leave, the CFU

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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 08:10 GMT
Workers ignore Zimbabwe strike
Guards outside a closed factory in Harare
Some workers pledged to stay home on Thursday
test hello test
By Lewis Machipisa
BBC correspondent in Harare

Most shops and businesses in Harare opened on Wednesday despite a call for workers to stay at home by the main trade unions.

The three-day strike has also been endorsed by the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

We will not call off the strike action

Trade union leader Wellington Chibebe
But on Wednesday, people in much of the capital went to their jobs as normal, though there appeared to be fewer staff in some shops.

In the industrial areas, it was business as usual apart from the talk about the strike, with some workers saying they would stay at home on Thursday and Friday.

One reason why the strike action has been patchy is bad timing by the trade unions.

You just do not call for a stay-away when people are expecting their salaries.

Opposition divided

Although there appears to be widespread support for the strike action, there are also concerns about whether it will be effective.

Zimbabweans queue for food in Harare
Many Zimbabweans fear for their jobs amid high unemployment

City workers may have been united in voting massively for the opposition in this month's presidential elections, but they seem divided over the industrial action.

With high unemployment even among the qualified, some workers fear losing their jobs.

Wellington Chibebe, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), said at one point on Wednesday, three out of every five Harare workers were not at their jobs, while there was a stay-away rate of 55% in towns outside the capital.

''In the morning it was around 60% in Harare but as time went on, many shops opened, people were called from home although some stayed at home," Mr Chibebe said.

"But right now most shops are now open.

''There is still the element of fear among workers as a result of the intimidation they have been subjected to."

Police presence

Mr Chibebe also blamed the state-controlled radio and TV stations - the only ones allowed in the country - for sending confusing messages about whether the strike was on or not.

''We will not call off the strike action,'' he stressed.

''But we are assessing the situation.''

The unions called the strike in protest at what they say was the harassment of pro-opposition workers since the recent disputed presidential election, which saw President Robert Mugabe returned for a fifth term of office.

Police have warned the ZCTU that the protest is illegal and that officers have been mobilised across the country to deal with it.

There was a heavy police presence in the streets of Harare on Wednesday.

Daily News

Slow start to stayaway

3/21/02 8:30:22 AM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporters

The three-day stayaway called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) from yesterday saw about 55 percent of businesses affected in the
morning, declining to around 30 percent in the afternoon.

It is a nationwide industrial action called by the labour movement to
protest against the harassment of trade unionists and ordinary workers
following the disputed presidential election 10 days ago.

Most of the country’s banks were shut on the first day of the three-day
action, but Wellington Chibebe, secretary-general of the ZCTU, told Reuters
he was disappointed with the initial response. Supporters of President
Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party had intimidated people into going to work, he

“The strike stands, despite the fact that businesses that had closed in the
morning are now open,” Chibebe said.

“We have received reports of people being taken away from their homes by the
police . . . and war veterans are taking down the names of those who are not
at work.”

The stay-at-home call by the 200 000-strong ZCTU appeared to have been
ignored by many shopkeepers across Zimbabwe, which is currently reeling from
its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.

Long queues for basic foodstuffs were reported in major urban areas, where
support is strong for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

ZCTU deputy secretary-general Collin Gwiyo blamed poor participation in the
strike on harsh new security laws that made it difficult to mobilise

“People should appreciate that times are changing. In the past there was no
Public Order and Security Act. If we had done it the old way, we would have
had every one of our activists arrested,” he said.

The draconian Act restricts public gatherings and imposes penalties of up to
20 years in prison for contravention.

Police on Tuesday declared the strike illegal and accused the ZCTU of trying
to whip up opposition to Mugabe.

The strike call is nevertheless the first direct challenge to Mugabe since
his widely disputed re-election last week for another six-year term as
Zimbabwe’s Head of State in a poll described as fundamentally flawed.

Yesterday, the police, and the army in some cases, maintained a heavy
presence in the city and town centres and high-density suburbs throughout
the country.

Agribank and Barclays Bank were closed in the morning, but opened just
before midday, after threats from Zanu PF activists, according to the

Some companies warned workers on Tuesday that those who took part in the
stayaway would not be paid.

But the ZCTU said it was not discouraged by the poor first-day response to
the stayaway, which would continue as scheduled today and tomorrow.

In Bulawayo about half the businesses, mainly in the industrial areas, were
shut in the morning, but most of them had opened by about midday following
reports that Zanu PF youths were going round taking down the names of
companies that were closed.

Sporadic incidents of Zanu PF supporters forcing people to go to work were
reported in Dangamvura and Sakubva high-density suburbs in Mutare.

Most workers interviewed said they had been threatened with dismissal if
they did not report for duty.

In Masvingo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Redcliff and Zvishavane, workers said the
stayaway was poorly organised.

In Victoria Falls and Hwange, workers reported for duty, although the
situation was tense. Some workers in Gwanda initially heeded the stayaway
call, but later reported for work.
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ABC Australia

Fri, Mar 22 2002 6:55 AM AEDT

Farm guard killed 'for opposing Mugabe'

A black farm guard has been killed and 50 farmers evicted from their land in
Zimbabwe, in apparent retribution for supporting President Robert Mugabe's
political foes in the recent election.

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) also says 25 farmers have been assaulted
since the widely condemned election, which President Mugabe won.

Reports of the guard's death come after a farmer was shot dead by land
invaders earlier this week.

He was the 10th farmer to have been killed since landless blacks began
seizing white-owned farms two years ago.

The CFU says most of the incidents appear to be retribution against farmers
who supported the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the election.

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Zimbabwe Mirror

Zimbabwe fuel situation ‘stable’
Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE’S fuel supplies are stable and will remain so for the foreseeable
future, says the chairman of the Petroleum Marketers Association in
Zimbabwe, Masimba Kambarami.

In a statement, Kambarami said a combination of efforts by the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the National Railways
of Zimbabwe and PMAZ had “paid off in ensuring stable fuel supplies

“The logistical challenges have been resolved through close teamwork with
all stakeholders. The introduction of new players in the industry has also
played a vital role in developing infrastructure sufficient to meet the
country’s urban and rural needs,” he said.

PMAZ represents the 14 registered petroleum marketing companies in Zimbabwe,
including the major oil companies and new entrants, and supports the
collective needs of the oil industry in Zimbabwe.

The fuel industry had its first new entrants in 1999 with Engen and Jovenna
being licensed. In the past two years the drive has been towards increasing
Zimbabwean empowerment in the sector, and a further eight companies have
been registered to date.

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The Age
Bad news from Zimbabwe hits home

By Peter Ellingsen
March 21 2002

Su Ford

Su Ford was stunned to learn of the violent death of her brother in Zimbabwe.
Picture: Craig Abraham

On Monday night, while Su Ford was ironing at her Port Melbourne home, TV viewers around the world saw her brother, Terry, lying lifeless beneath a blanket on his Zimbabwe farm.

They saw his weathered hand inert in the dirt, and Squeak, his ageing Jack Russell terrier, nestled by his side. They saw the blood on the truck Mr Ford used to try to escape the thugs who tied him up, beat him and shot him in the head.

But they did not see the horror on Ms Ford's face when her aunt called from New Zealand telling her that 56-year-old Mr Ford was dead.

No official from Zimbabwe informed Ms Ford, or her family, most of whom now live in South Africa. They found out through the media. While Prime Minister John Howard and Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria resolved to rebuke Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, Ms Ford found the cost of Mr Mugabe's rule.

It is random, brutal death, and the Commonwealth's decision yesterday to suspend Zimbabwe for a year does not begin to reflect that.

In London, the three-man Zimbabwe crisis committee agreed with its election observers that Mr Mugabe's recent election victory was deeply flawed and marred by violence and political intimidation. Zimbabwe will not be able to take part in decision-making in the 54-nation Commonwealth.

Ms Ford, 43, who came to Australia four years ago to work in computers, thinks the decision pathetic and well short of the sanctions that were needed.

"Not to impose sanctions is absolutely ludicrous," she said yesterday as she prepared to fly to South Africa for a memorial service. At her feet was the newspaper picture of Mr Ford dead on his farm.

"Without international pressure, this will be repeated," she said. She had urged her brother to leave, but like many white farmers in the once peaceful African country, he would not go.

After three generations, the land was in his blood. Mr Mugabe's refusal to police violence against white farmers meant he could not plant crops, yet, unlike his wife, Trish, and grown sons, who a year ago moved to Auckland, he hung on.

It had something to with the "awesome beauty" of the farm. Ms Ford feared it would kill him, but she did not expect it would be so soon or sudden, nor did she think the news would come via global TV. But that is what now happens in a chaotic country where officials do not bother to inform relatives of death.

Ms Ford sobbed and sobbed when her aunt rang to tell her that Mr Ford's slaughter was on the TV news. Watching the images herself produced a pain she still can't describe.

But the hardest thing was talking to her parents, Peter and Eileen, in Johannesburg. They had been watching South Africa beat Australia in the cricket, and did not know.

"Mum couldn't talk," Ms Ford said. "She just cried. Dad couldn't stop. He talked of cricket, weather, anything but Terry's death."

Ms Ford is not angry at the media for showing images of her brother's corpse. But she is angry at the Commonwealth for not doing more to censure Mr Mugabe.

Four men, thought to be supporters of Mr Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, have been arrested for the murder. But then, nine white farmers have already been killed. And there seems little chance that Mr Mugabe's win in an election last week that was marred by violence and charges of vote-rigging will be overturned.

Ms Ford has not slept, and still sees the TV images of Terry in the dark. As she says, it has been a tough 48 hours. The only good news is that a family friend has collected Mr Ford's dog, Squeak, and taken him to Harare.

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U.S. links aid to Africa and stand on Zimbabwe

WASHINGTON, March 21 — A senior U.S. official told African countries on
Thursday that U.S. aid to Africa could suffer if they do not take a stand
against this month's presidential elections in Zimbabwe.
        The United States, Britain and the Commonwealth say the election,
won by incumbent President Robert Mugabe, was not free or fair because of
violence and intimidation by Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.
       But African governments have not been so critical, partly because of
the feeling that Western outrage is driven in part by sympathy for the white
farmers Mugabe wants to evict.
       Charles Snyder, a deputy assistant of state for African affairs, told
a gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in
Washington that Zimbabwe had become a test case for attitudes toward
governance in Africa.
       He said: ''We have begun a bargain with Africa in general, a new day
in Africa in which we are looking for this New Economic Partnership for
African Development.
       ''The rules of the game call on the Africans to provide good
governance, peer review and, if you want, neighborhood watch.''
       ''If Africa doesn't step up here it's going to cripple our ability to
provide the kind of economic development assistance we want to provide --
not the humanitarian aid, but serious economic assistance,'' he added.

       ''The Commonwealth has stepped up and we are gratified by that but we
are looking forward to the rest of Africa stepping forward on this,'' he
       Snyder said the Bush administration would impose financial sanctions
on Zimbabwean leaders, on top of the U.S. visa ban it has already slapped on
Mugabe and about two dozen associates.
       U.S. officials have said for days they are moving in that direction
but have not explained a delay in announcing a freeze of any assets the
Zimbabwean leaders may have in the country.
       Snyder said: ''How that will come out is a matter of bureaucratic
infighting, but stay tuned. There will be action on that front as well.''
       The U.S. official repeated Washington's complaints about the conduct
of the presidential elections, which ran from March 9 to March 11, and added
that he doubted the authenticity of a tape purporting to support treason
charges against the defeated opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai.
       ''Those of you who have seen the tape, it looks doctored to me,
speaking personally, and I've been in the Africa business a long time,'' he
said. ''It's that kind of accusation that goes beyond the norms of politics.
That's why we are so outraged.''
       The Zimbabwean ambassador to the United States, Simbi Mubako,
disputed the allegations that the election was rigged.
       He said the voting was not perfect but the imperfections could not
have changed the outcome.
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Rainbow network

Tatchell Calls Zimbabwe Suspension ‘Inadequate’
Thursday, 21st March 2002
The gay human rights activist Peter Tatchell has described the suspension of
Zimbabwe by the Commonwealth as “inadequate”.

Zimbabwe has been banned from the councils of the Commonwealth for one year.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Commonwealth observers had
concluded the recent elections were "marred by a high level of political
violence" and had not allowed for a free expression of the wishes of the

Tatchell said: "The suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth is purely
symbolic. It does nothing to weaken president Robert Mugabe`s grip on power
or to curtail his murderous tyranny."

He continued: "The most effective Commonwealth sanction would be for member
states to issue warrants for the arrest of president Mugabe and his
right-hand man, Perence Shiri, on charges of torture and genocide, under the
UN Torture and Genocide Conventions".

Tatchell said that the issuing of warrants could enable Mugabe to be brought
to trial. He remarked: “If Mugabe fears that he could be prosecuted like
Slobodan Milosevic, this might act as a restraint on his repression. It
could make him think twice about authorising further atrocities".

The human rights activist said that he had evidence which could be used to
arrest Mugabe. He said: "The evidence of widespread massacres in
Matabeleland during the 1980s, when an estimated 20,000 people were
murdered, is sufficient to arrest Mugabe and the military commander of that
repression, Perence Shiri, on charges of genocide".

Tatchell added: "Charges could be bought under the UN Convention Against
Torture, based on some of the hundreds of incidents of state-sanctioned
torture documented during the last year by Zimbabwe`s human rights watchdog,
the Amani Trust.”

Tatchell has twice attempted a citizen’s arrest of the Zimbabwean president.

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Intimidation, revenge violence reported by labor officials, farmers in


HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 21 — A national strike called to protest Zimbabwe's
disputed elections appeared to nearly fizzle out Thursday, a failure that
labor leaders blamed on repressive new laws and government intimidation.

        Meanwhile, white farmers accused ruling party militants of attacking
them as part of a new campaign of violence intended to punish them for
perceived support of the opposition in the March 9-11 elections.
       The Commercial Farmers Union said at least 50 farmers were illegally
evicted from their properties since the elections, which many observers
criticized as badly tainted. The government declared Mugabe the victor.
       One farmer died Monday in an execution-style killing, a farm worker
was killed in a separate assault, hundreds of workers were forced to flee
their jobs and 66 farmers were arrested after providing logistical support
for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the union said.
       Most of those arrested face charges they violated new security laws
by using licensed radio equipment for political activities, the union said.
       Labor leaders said authorities also used the new laws to prevent them
from meeting freely with workers to coordinate the three-day nationwide
protest strike that began Wednesday.
       Some factories remained closed Thursday, but most banks and shops
reopened and government offices, post offices and schools never closed.
       The federation estimated about half of Harare's businesses were
curtailed by early Wednesday, declining to about a third in the afternoon as
workers showed up at their jobs.
       Labor officials around the country reported police, troops and ruling
party militants taking down the names of people who did not report for work.
       Police and army vehicles patrolled Harare's poor townships at night,
closing bars and food stalls and warning that the strike was illegal under
new security laws, witnesses said.
       ''Times have changed. If we had organized in the old way, every one
of our activists would have been arrested,'' said Collen Gwiyo, deputy
secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the biggest
labor federation.
       Though international leaders have appealed for reconciliation in the
country, which has been plagued by violence and intimidation over the past
two years, Zimbabwe remains as tense as ever.
       Authorities charged opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai with treason
Wednesday and released him on bail in connection with an alleged plot to
assassinate Mugabe.
       Tsvangirai has denied the accusation, dismissing the charges as a
government ploy devised to weaken the opposition.
       The charges came a day after the Commonwealth of Britain and its
former colonies suspended Zimbabwe from the organization's meetings for one
year, citing the ''high level of politically motivated'' violence in the
       South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo had urged Mugabe and Tsvangirai to form a government of national
unity to help lead Zimbabwe to peace and economic stability.
       Tsvangirai has rejected the proposal and demanded a new vote.

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ZIMBABWE: Bleak economic future

JOHANNESBURG, 21 March (IRIN) - Without a political settlement in Zimbabwe to win over the opposition and attract donor support, the country's economy could shrink by more than 12 percent this year, a leading analyst has told IRIN.

An in-house report prepared for the government is believed to predict a 9.1 percent fall in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2002. But according to Tony Hawkins, director of the University of Zimbabwe's Graduate School of Management, the report does not factor in the impact of the country's drought. He estimates that GDP could contract by 12 to 12.5 percent.

Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette on Thursday quoted manufacturers as warning that the country faced rapid de-industrialisation in the coming months due to the anticipated exodus of investors and skilled personnel. Some companies are already operating a two to three-day working week. Last year, more than 400 firms closed down and 10,000 jobs were lost as the economy shrunk by more than 7.5 percent.

The two options facing the government are to "go it alone", or negotiate a political deal with the opposition in the wake of the country's contested presidential election, that could then win the support of major western donors. The report, prepared by a team of government advisers, "flatly says that going it alone is a non-starter", Hawkins said.

However at present, neither President Robert Mugabe or the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - which accuses the government of rigging the 9-11 March presidential election - are even close to the idea of a rapprochement.

In the absence of a political deal, Zimbabwe faces "a pretty bleak picture", Hawkins said. The government has lost the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over its inability to meet agreed benchmarks, and western donors have ceased programme aid. Their condemnation of the election has deepened Zimbabwe's international isolation.

The crunch period is expected to be August/September when the estimated four to five months' supply of maize from the current crop runs out. The government does not have the foreign exchange to import enough of the staple to cover the anticipated deficit. The country is already experiencing serious shortages and rising prices for maize meal, with 558,000 people currently in need of food aid.

An anticipated "significant" hike in fuel prices in coming weeks will add to the mounting woes of especially urban-based Zimbabweans, many of whom are "shell shocked" by the election result, Hawkins said. As the economy deteriorates, "there is a growing risk of civil unrest as the year wears on", he added.

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Comment from BBC News, 20 March

'A defining moment for Africa'

By Richard Dowden

The significance of the decision to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth
for a year goes far beyond Zimbabwe and the future of the Commonwealth. The
suspension of a medium-sized African country from membership of a powerless
club of former British territories sounds the diplomatic equivalent of a
yellow card at a friendly football match. But had the troika of President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo, and
Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, made the opposite decision,
Africa's cause would have been set back a decade. The Commonwealth's
judgement on Zimbabwe was a defining moment for Africa to commit itself to
good government.

Africa's own plan for its political and economic future - the New
Partnership for African Development, known as Nepad - was at stake. Promoted
by Mr Mbeki, Mr Obasanjo and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, this is a pact
which commits African leaders to better government, respect for human
rights, democracy and good economic policies. In exchange, the rest of the
world is considering coming up with more aid, more debt forgiveness and a
commitment to improve access to its markets for Africa's goods. It is
Africa's best - and only - chance of turning itself round. The Americans
have made the link quite explicit to South Africa. They told Mr Mbeki: your
attitude to Zimbabwe is a test of your commitment to Nepad. Had Africa's
heavyweights, South Africa and Nigeria, chosen African solidarity over the
principles of democracy and human rights, Nepad would have been dead and
Africa would have been left to stew for at least another decade.

When they met at Coolum in Australia earlier this month, the Commonwealth
heads of government were split over what to do about Zimbabwe. Britain, New
Zealand and Canada pushed for suspension. African rulers, led by Mr Mbeki,
were against. When Mr Mbeki, President Obasanjo and Mr Howard were mandated
as a troika to judge the outcome of the Zimbabwe election, it seemed likely
that Mr Mugabe's African peers would not allow him to be sanctioned. The
official election monitors from the Organisation of African Unity, the
Southern African Development Community and the Governments of Nigeria, South
Africa and Namibia came up with verdicts that blessed the election and Mr
Mugabe's victory. The instinct of some African rulers to rally round one of
their own at any price, seemed to be prevailing, and several African
presidents turned up at Mr Mugabe's inauguration.

This was not a racial split as many suggested. Only the rulers and their
courtiers backed Mr Mugabe. Independent newspapers and radios throughout the
continent resounded with denunciations of Mr Mugabe and his stolen election.
Led by a former military ruler of Nigeria, the Commonwealth election
monitors came out with a damming verdict: "The conditions in Zimbabwe did
not adequately allow for a free expression of will by the electors."
Whatever their own governments' monitors had told them, the presidents of
South Africa and Nigeria were bound by their mandate to base their decision
on this verdict. They had spent Monday in Harare trying to persuade Mr
Mugabe to establish a government of national unity and go easy on the
opposition. But he did not give them enough. They made at least one call
from London on Tuesday to try to get him to change his mind. In the end they
had no choice. They had held out a lifeline to Mr Mugabe and he had not
grasped it. The effect of this judgement on Zimbabwe's leader by his African
peers should not be underestimated, but he is unlikely to change course

Zimbabwe is now a disaster zone in desperate need of food aid for some 3
million hungry citizens. While South Africa has the power to cut transport
links and power to Zimbabwe, full economic sanctions would only ensure that
these people die. It may, as Mr Mbeki fears, cause an implosion that would
take other parts of southern Africa with it. Mr Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo now
have the tricky task of forcing Mr Mugabe to resign, to hold new elections,
or to share power with the opposition. They may not succeed, but by formally
and publicly sanctioning Zimbabwe they may have saved their own countries
and the rest of the continent from a period of ostracism.

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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 14:18 GMT
Bleak prospects for Zimbabwe - Straw
Jack Straw
Mr Straw delivered a statement to the Commons
Prospects for Zimbabwe are bleak after the country's recent elections, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said.

Mr Straw told MPs that the UK had wanted this week's decision to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth taken much earlier.

What has happened in Zimbabwe is a tragedy imposed on this once prosperous land by Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe
The move came after President Robert Mugabe won his fifth election victory amid accusations of intimidation and rigging.

In a Commons' statement Mr Straw said: "What has happened in Zimbabwe is a tragedy imposed on this once prosperous land by Robert Mugabe."

The foreign secretary was challenged over the speed of British response to Mr Mugabe's conduct in recent months by his Conservative opposite number Michael Ancram.

"The time has come for the government to stop talking and start acting," he said.

But Mr Straw pointed out that the decision to suspend Zimbabwe came alongside targeted EU sanctions, and sanctions from Switzerland and the US.

"Suspension is one of the strongest measures the Commonwealth can impose," he said.

"In the past countries have only been suspended after the violent overthrow of their elected governments - Zimbabwe's suspension is therefore a new departure."

Troika of leaders

For the Liberal Democrats, Menzies Campbell said it was disappointing that the Commonwealth had even had to get to the point of suspending Zimbabwe and that its moral authority had been ignored by Mr Mugabe.

In his statement Mr Straw said that restoring respect for law and order was the "only way back for Zimbabwe".

"We shall do all we can to support [the South African and Nigerian] Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo, and other African partners, in their efforts to bring stability back to Zimbabwe."

The move to suspend Zimbabwe came earlier this week following a meeting between the leaders of South Africa, Australia and Nigeria in London.

Mr Straw resisted calls from the Tories to press for Zimbabwe's exclusion from the Commonwealth Games.

It was a matter for the Commonwealth Games Federation, he said.

They had been charged with deciding the Commonwealth's reaction to the elections in Zimbabwe, he said.

Mr Ancram has already called for a new round of elections in the troubled African country.

He said that given the way the result was achieved it was important that the Commonwealth made it clear it was not prepared to accept a regime "which rode roughshod over all the principles of democracy on which the Commonwealth was founded".

"I think it's important to realise that this was a test for the Commonwealth and I would now like to see the EU strengthen its stance on sanctions on Zimbabwe," he said on Tuesday.

Mr Straw said that it was down to Mr Mugabe to show he was determined to follow a path of reconciliation after his failure to uphold the rule of law and abide by standards he had previously signed up to.

But he added that it was "against expectation" that Zimbabwe's president would do so.

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ABC News

Zimbabwe General Strike Falters, Attacks Continue

March 21
— By Emelia Sithole

HARARE (Reuters) - A general strike in Zimbabwe ran out of steam on
Thursday, day two of a three-day protest against violence, with unions
claiming fear of reprisals was driving protesters back to work.

Most of the country's banks and shops opened after shutting for a few hours
on the first day of the strike on Wednesday.

A black farm guard was killed as revenge attacks against opposition
supporters surged after last week's elections in which President Robert
Mugabe was returned to power amid international charges of vote rigging.

The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), which represents mostly white farmers,
said the farm guard had been beaten to death.

It said 25 farmers had been assaulted and 50 evicted from their land in
apparent retribution for supporting opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in
the election.

"Incidents of harassment, trashing and looting, forced eviction and
extortion as well as political retribution have reached alarming proportions
since the...election," CFU president Colin Cloete said in a statement.

"Lack of a definitive police response is playing into the hands of
opportunists," he said.

Mugabe appeared to be flouting calls from inside and outside Zimbabwe for
reconciliation. Tsvangirai appeared in court on Wednesday on treason

The charges came a day after a Commonwealth decision to suspend Zimbabwe
from the 54-member body for a year after its own election monitors said the
poll was neither free nor fair.


Zimbabwe's trade union federation acknowledged that workers had not fully
heeded a call to strike, denounced by the government as sabotage by unions
linked to Tsvangirai.

Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo said the
federation would press on with the final day of the strike on Friday despite
the poor turnout.

"The strike is continuing up to tomorrow, there is no going back.
Considering the hostile environment in which we now live, we believe the
strike has been a success," he told Reuters.

Independent political commentator Brian Kagoro said fear of retribution and
propaganda by state-controlled media had undermined the call to strike.

"Fear has had the better of the general population."

News of the farm security guard's death came after the killing of farmer
Terry Ford, tied up and shot to death outside his homestead west of Harare
early on Monday by what the farming community said were suspected supporters
of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Ford was the 10th farmer to be killed since landless blacks began seizing
white-owned farms two years ago.

Most CFU members backed Tsvangirai in the election. The opposition leader
had promised to stop the illegal seizure of white-owned farms and to
implement a negotiated program to advance black land ownership.


The state-controlled Herald newspaper dismissed the strike as a failure
"which has removed the specter of mass action from Zimbabwean politics."

"The failure of the stayaway called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
shows that for most urban people, economic troubles are far more important
than political wishes," the paper said in an editorial.

But ZCTU Deputy Secretary-General Collin Gwiyo blamed poor participation in
the strike on harsh new security laws that made it difficult to mobilize
workers. The laws ban public gatherings and impose penalties of up to 20
years in prison.

Tsvangirai was due to appear in court again on April 30 on the treason
charge, along with two of his aides. He was named before the election in an
investigation of a secretly filmed video purporting to show him discussing
Mugabe's assassination.

Tsvangirai has said the tape was doctored to misrepresent his conversation.

The human rights group Amnesty International has warned that attacks and
intimidation against opposition supporters could increase once foreign
election observers left the country.

Zimbabwe's suspension by the Commonwealth carries no penalty, but the
consequences could be heavy for Mugabe if more countries follow the
Commonwealth lead and impose targeted personal sanctions against him and his
inner circle.

"If the breadth and depth of these sanctions is increased, we are going to
get to a stage where some of his lieutenants are going to ask whether their
sacrifices are worth it," said John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe
political science lecturer.

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Freedom fears for Zimbabwe's media

By Julie Tomlin

Posted 21 March 2002 00:00 GMT

ITV correspondent Tim Ewart is concerned for independent journalists working
under draconian press laws enacted by Robert Mugabe after his recent
re-election as Zimbabwe’s President.

Ewart, one of two ITN journalists allowed to enter the country for the
election, said there was no attempt by the authorities “to restrict or to
censor” foreign journalists.

“We had completely open access to both main parties, to the polling queues
and the polling stations - from a professional point of view, it was fine,”
he said. “But the local independent media had a very difficult time, they
were frequently harassed and followed - it was much harder for them than the
international press.”

Ewart said the Access to Infor-mation Act that was enacted two days after
the disputed elections was largely driven by a desire to “muzzle” the
country’s independent media.

The law, which blocks foreign news organisations setting up any bureaux in
the country, requires all journalists to be licenced by the Government.

But journalists also believe that a government reshuffle could see Mugabe’s
right-hand man, Jonathan Moyo, moving from the ministry of information to
the foreign office. Moyo was behind the ban on the BBC last year.

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The Age

Zimbabwe risks more sanctions over Tsvangirai case: Britain
LONDON, March 21 AFP|Published: Friday March 22, 2:18 AM

Zimbabwe risks further international sanctions if it continues to pursue
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on treason charges, British Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw warned today.

He said the prospects for Zimbabwe since President Robert Mugabe's fiercely
disputed re-election "look bleak" after the murder of a commercial farmer
and opposition activists.

Straw told parliament that what had happened in the southern African state
was a "tragedy" and the only way back was respect for the rule of law.

Tsvangirai, who lost to Mugabe in the March 9-11 election, which was widely
condemned as rigged and marred by violence, was formally charged yesterday
in relation to an alleged plot to assassinate the president.

"We remain very concerned about the position of Morgan Tsvangirai and other
members of the opposition," Straw warned.

"If these charges are pursued, then the consequences internationally for its
government in terms of isolation and, I suspect, greater sanctions, will be,
in my judgement, very considerable."

London has already welcomed the Commonwealth's decision on Tuesday to
suspend Zimbabwe for a year from the organisation, which is made up mainly
of Britain and its former colonies.

The sanction was agreed on after a damning report by Commonwealth observers
concluded that the election was wracked by violence and seriously flawed.

Mugabe and his top officials are already subjected to sanctions imposed by
the European Union, the United States and Switzerland, consisting mainly of
a travel ban and the freezing of assets.
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Africa says West two-faced over Zimbabwe polls

NAIROBI, March 21 — Africans will pay due respect to Western views on
Zimbabwe when the West shows it cares about all African elections, not just
those involving whites, analysts around the continent say.
       They say Europeans -- notably former colonial power Britain -- seem
fixated on the fate of Zimbabwe's minority white farmers in their
confrontation with President Robert Mugabe, virtually ignoring electoral
abuse elsewhere that affects only blacks.
       ''In almost every way Mugabe has been a failure,'' wrote Kenyan
columnist Magesha Ngwiri. ''But the rest of the world was not concerned
until Mugabe decided to expropriate land from white farmers.''
       ''I cannot defend Mr Mugabe's murders. I insist only on perspective.
You need not be a racist to point out that a miserable minority who are
white enjoy the lion's share of the land,'' analyst Phillip Ochieng wrote in
Nairobi's Daily Nation.
       For many Africans, European concerns have less to do with democracy
than a lingering colonial bigotry -- albeit clothed in diplomatic rhetoric.
       ''They (Europeans) are not for democracy. They never
institutionalised democracy in this continent...So who are they to complain
about democracy in Africa?'' said Kenyan sociologist Katama Mkangi.
       ''I'm not saying Mugabe should go around butchering, killing and
denying the Zimbabweans their choice of government but Europeans are the
last people, and the Americans, to accuse Mugabe of not being democratic.''
       Mugabe's status as a liberation hero also shores up his support in
Africa and, analysts say, will constrain South Africa and Nigeria from doing
any more to punish Zimbabwe beyond their backing for its suspension from the
54-nation Commonwealth.

       In South Africa, the secretary-general of the ruling African National
Congress (ANC) said it was insulting that ''know-it-all'' foreign
governments and pressure groups felt they had a right to determine who
should rule Zimbabwe.
       Kgalema Motlanthe said that if the West was allowed to interfere in
Zimbabwe's politics, nothing would stop it from doing so in other African
       ''Zimbabwe's problems are our problems -- what we are trying to
achieve there is also for selfish reasons, that is the sovereignty of our
country and the political independence that we cherish,'' he said.
       Some commentators have no illusions about Mugabe's regime but are
more exasperated by what they see as the West's hypocrisy.
       ''The barbarism of Dr Mugabe's followers appals me. But a sense of
justice constrains me from condemning it without also identifying its
roots -- Britain's own past treacheries.''
       In west Africa, many feel the West cares more for the white farmers,
and possibly even their dogs, than it does about them.
       ''Europeans and especially the British are taking this election
seriously because of the white farmers,'' said Alexander Ben, a student
activist at the University of Liberia in Monrovia.
       ''If Britain is very serious about democracy in Africa, it should be
at the front at all times and not only in one special area.
       ''It is time for the whites to leave Africa with their election
processes. When are African countries ever invited to observe elections in
their countries?''
       There was little outcry when Guinea held a referendum last year that
paved the way for President Lansana Conte, a key Western ally in the region,
to rule for life, or around elections in Chad in which the opposition
alleged massive fraud.

       Opposition leaders in Congo Republic are bitter about the fairly
positive Western response to a vote held at the same time as Zimbabwe's in
which President Denis Sassou Nguesso won 89 percent of the vote while his
main opponents were excluded.
       Sassou, a former army ruler who lost badly in 1992 elections,
returned to power in a brief 1997 war.
       ''In one country the former colonial powers support the return of a
vulgar bandit who took power by force. In another country they talk of
democracy,'' said Hellot Mampouya, a close political ally of exiled former
premier Bernard Kolelas.
       ''It is scandalous and hypocritical that there should be such obvious
double standards and we have to ask ourselves why that should be. What
happened in Congo was even worse than in Zimbabwe and nobody is speaking out
about it.''
       (Additional reporting by Matthew Tostevin and David Clarke in
Abidjan, Silvia Aloisi and Buchizya Mseteka In Johannesburg)

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Mugabe is Latest Obstacle to Africa's Advancement

Foundation for Democracy in Africa (Washington, DC)

March 21, 2002
Posted to the web March 21, 2002

Gregory Simpkins
Washington, DC

Over the past several months, as Zimbabwe prepared for its 2002 presidential
election, it has been clear to observers that President Robert Mugabe had no
intention of allowing himself to lose. His government has done just about
everything possible to eliminate any chance that the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and its presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai,
could win a free and fair race.

Now Zimbabwe has conducted perhaps the most blatantly rigged election since
the wave of democracy swept over Africa in the last decade. In the process,
President Mugabe has not only diminished himself and his nation, but his
government's actions, and the reaction of African nations, have called into
question the progress the entire continent has made toward securing the
liberty and rights of Africa's citizens.

Robert Mugabe has been one of Africa's great liberation movement leaders. He
spent considerable time in jail because of his opposition to the imposition
of white rule by settlers, who broke away from British colonial rule in
1965. Mugabe led the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in its
ultimately successful liberation fight against the regime of white leader
Ian Smith, and after negotiations brokered by the British, Smith's Rhodesia
became independent Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980.

As an African elder with liberation credentials, President Mugabe enjoyed
the respect of his peers on the continent and many others in the
international community. His country was one of Africa's most industrialized
and economically successful. There were, to be sure, concerns about human
rights over the years. The massacre during the 1980s of thousands of Ndebele
people, traditionally ZANU opponents, was a sore point for many in assessing
the legacy of Mugabe, but the overall success of his regime outweighed this
matter for most observers of Zimbabwe, and even many Zimbabweans themselves.

However, the economy started to go bad during the mid-1990s. Inflation, now
reaching about 100%, has ruined the economic gains made over the last two
decades of independence. When I visited the country in December 2001, the
official exchange rate pegged the Zimbabwe dollar at 54 to one U.S. dollar.
That was the rate on which domestic prices were set. In reality, the
prevailing exchange rate was about 350 Zimbabwe dollars to one U.S. dollar.
That is the rate Zimbabwe businesspeople had to use when buying foreign
goods. Needless to say, this nearly sevenfold gap in exchange rates has
caused havoc in the economy. But President Mugabe's response was not to
adjust prices to make the business climate more realistic. Rather, he
instituted price controls to prevent politically damaging increases before
elections and reportedly told the business community that they had to
continue to operate under these conditions or see their businesses seized.
The government was determined to prevent the rioting that followed price
hikes in basic goods back in 1998, especially with an election in the wings.

Land reform ostensibly has been a major concern of the government. Yet the
Mugabe program has merely transferred white-owned land from productive
managers, not to the experienced black farm workers who had toiled in hopes
of one day receiving their own piece of land, but to occupants who, in all
too many cases, appear never to have farmed before. When the government
instituted its land reform process in March 1992, the promise was that
100,000 black families would be given redistributed land. However, Mugabe
supporters were given large chunks of land early on, and most recently,
black farm workers have been chased off redistributed white farms in favor
of so-called war veterans. By redistributing land in this way, Mugabe claims
to be keeping his long-discussed promise, while rewarding his supporters.

Unfortunately, in encouraging the outright seizure of white-owned land,
Mugabe's government countenanced an expanding level of violence against not
only the white farmers who refused to leave at the barrel of a gun and the
black farm workers on that land. The police stood by while people - both
black and white - were killed, and judges who objected to the increasing
lawlessness of the process were replaced or forced out of office until the
courts ruled in the government's favor. As a result, agricultural production
in Zimbabwe has dropped drastically - quite a comedown from the 1980s, when
Zimbabwe was the only regional supplier of food during the Ethiopian

Mugabe's popularity wanes

The growing unpopularity of the Mugabe government was first demonstrated in
the stunning defeat in February 2000 of a proposed constitutional change
that would have granted increasing powers to the president and authorized
the expropriation of land without compensation. ZANU had won almost all the
seats in Parliament in 1995 in the wake of an opposition boycott, and
President Mugabe had won election in 1996 with almost 93 percent of the vote
against an ineffective, divided opposition. Thus, the 2000 referendum defeat
was a stunning political upset that was followed by yet another unwelcome
political surprise.

The scattered and unpopular political opposition got an apparent boost when
MDC was established in September 1999 at the initiative of trade unions. For
the first time since the former liberation movement Zimbabwe African
People's Union (ZAPU) merged with ZANU in 1987, an organized opposition
party existed with a popular base and no damaging ties to the former white
regime. In June 2000, MDC won 57 seats in Parliament, more by far than any
opposition party in Zimbabwe had ever won. It became clear that there was a
new day in Zimbabwean politics.

The government response was to encourage violence against opposition party
officials. Tsvangirai has been arrested more than once, as have his party
leaders. In fact, Tsvangirai was charged with treason shortly before the
election based on a video released by a company now doing business with the
Mugabe government. That video now is widely believed to have been
selectively edited to incriminate Tsvangirai. Opposition party officials
have been tortured by police and beaten by thugs while police looked on. The
farm invasion by the "war veterans" (some of whom were far too young to have
fought in the liberation struggle) was at least partially meant to disrupt
the financial support given MDC by white farmers. Moreover, illegitimate
unions began occupying businesses and demanding payments to allow work to
continue. The targeted businesses also supported MDC.

The terror campaign against MDC and its supporters apparently wasn't enough
to ensure victory in the 2002 elections, however. ZANU legislators began
creating laws to further hamper the opposition. One law passed late last
year prevented political parties from posting campaign signs without
permission. This measure, which might seem reasonable on its face, prevented
the opposition from getting out its message to the voters using a
time-honored method. Certainly the government would not allow signs on
public property, and any citizen or business granting such permission would
become a target of politically motivated thugs.

The media was restricted from performing its role in a democracy of being
the watchdog of government and politics, what we in America call the "fourth
estate." Laws were passed that made it a crime to criticize the President or
his government and otherwise restricted the ability of the independent media
to cover the election. The government-controlled media covered the President
favorably, but granted little access to the opposition except for negative
coverage. Yet this still was not considered enough to ensure victory.

Severe limitations were placed on the ability of domestic election observers
to gain accreditation to watch the process and comment on its legitimacy. On
the first day of the election, more than 1,400 party polling agents and
civil society election observers were arrested and detained throughout the
election process. Western election observers were only allowed into Zimbabwe
only after significant pressure was brought to bear on the government, and
in the end, only the Norwegian team was allowed sufficient ability to
observe the election. A U.S. diplomatic observer team saw four of its
members detained by police and held briefly during the voting.

During the voting on March 9-11, it soon became obvious that the government
had drastically reduced the number of polling places in urban areas such as
the capital city of Harare, which are considered strongholds of opposition
support. One estimate placed the cut in polling places at nearly half what
existed in the 2000 voting. Meanwhile, polling places were increased in
rural areas where the government enjoys support. During the voting period,
televised images showed long lines of voters in urban areas, while rural
polling stations were virtually empty.

According to official statistics quoted in the Zimbabwe Standard, 3.4
million voters were registered in urban areas, while only 2.2 million voters
were registered in rural areas. To further raise the odds of a Mugabe
victory, urban polling places often opened late or polling officials slowed
the process of voting to a crawl. One observer reported that only eight
voters were being processed an hour at one urban polling station. Some
voters reported standing in line as long as 48 hours waiting to vote, and
even then, when the third day of voting ended, thousands of Zimbabweans had
not gotten their chance to cast a ballot.

Even this was not enough to ensure victory. When voters objected to being
prevented from casting their ballots, riot police were called out supposedly
to maintain order, but at Warren Park 1 Primary School in Harare, police
reportedly indiscriminately beat voters waiting to cast their ballots. At
other polling stations, police are said to have fired shots.

The manipulation of the voting process led Zimbabwe's High Court to order a
third day of voting (it had originally been set only for March 9 and 10).
However, the government gave conflicting signals about whether polling
stations would indeed be open, and even some stations that opened that third
day did so late or closed abruptly after being open only a brief time. The
High Court declined an MDC motion to extend voting for a fourth day, but
given the process, there is no reason to think many voters would have gotten
their chance to vote even with another extension.

Turning a blind eye to rigging

Considering the lengths to which the Mugabe government has gone to rig the
process to assure victory in the election, one wonders how any dispassionate
observer could possibly declare the Zimbabwe election to be "free and fair."
However, a confounding divide has opened between Western and African
observers of the election as to the legitimacy of this process.

Observer missions from South Africa, Nigeria, Namibia and the Organization
of African Unity praised the Zimbabwe election process. In fact, former
Nigerian interim Head of State Ernest Shonekan, in his monitoring group's
statement, said his team "recorded no incidence that was sufficient to
threaten the integrity and outcome of the election." The Namibian team
described the Zimbabwe election process as "water tight, without room for
rigging." The South African observer team also reported a satisfactory
electoral process. Team leader Tom Boya told his country's Daily Mail &
Guardian that his team based its assessment solely on the voting itself.

"It would not be fair for us to comment on the time before the elections and
the counting of votes," Boya said. The South African team called on Zimbabwe
political leaders and their supporters to accept the outcome of the poll.
The OAU team added that the international community should accept the
outcome as the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

By not taking into account the entirety of the election process or ignoring
problems in that process, these teams produced seriously flawed reports. It
is the totality of an election process that demonstrates its legitimacy.
Elections can be stolen by grand manipulations in the process long before
the first ballot is cast. In the case of Zimbabwe, this was an election
process that was manipulated months before balloting, with intimidation and
rigging added during the voting itself. After a decade of observing
elections in Africa and training African election observers, I can think of
little that the Mugabe government did not do to manipulate the presidential
election in its favor.

It is dishonest to assess an election solely on the basis of observation of
voting in selected polling places. Surely there were many polling stations
where nothing untoward happened on March 9-11. By and large, though, these
calm, orderly polling stations happened not to be in areas where the
opposition was popular.

Fortunately, not all Africans who observed the election were willing to
accept the results uncritically. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, the
main Zimbabwe election observer group, was heavily critical of the election
process. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) team took into
account the political and security climate in the country and the violence
and intimidation that marred the run-up to the elections. The team noted the
restrictions on campaigning by the opposition and the limited media ability
to cover the race. In their statement, the SADC team said the Zimbabwe
elections did not "adequately comply with the norms and standards for
elections in the SADC region." Yet at the end of the day, the SADC team
concluded that the government, the political opposition and civil society
should work together to heal Zimbabwe and that an election alone would not
be the final solution to Zimbabwe's problems. "An election should not be
construed to be one of 'victor' and 'vanquished'," the SADC report stated.

Meanwhile, the United States, Great Britain and Australia have taken the
lead in denouncing the Zimbabwe election process. But given the clear
evidence that the Zimbabwe elections were not a legitimate expression of the
will of the people of that country, how could African nations and observer
teams either praise the process or call on Zimbabweans to accept an
obviously rigged election?

An African failure to honor democracy

Part of the answer lies in the underlying suspicion of many African leaders
that democracy is a Western cover for removing leaders donor nations don't
like. While lip service is paid in public to democratic principles, behind
closed doors African leaders and officials express skepticism about the
viability of Western-style democratic systems in African countries. This
disconnect in the way Western leaders look at democracy and the way African
leaders look at it stems from the fact that, in the West, money builds
political power, while in African nations, political power builds wealth.
You can be a great success in the West without holding political office.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is enormously influential in America without
ever having to hold political office.

In much of Africa, without the ability to win elective office, you cannot
reward friends and supporters with contracts, thereby building your
financial support network outside government, and businesspeople outside the
ruling circle find it difficult to be successful on a large scale. Thus,
African leaders and their supporters fear the loss of power and often go to
great lengths to prevent such a loss from occurring. In the case of African
leaders such as President Mugabe, an election loss also means you may be
prosecuted and lose some or all of the wealth you have accumulated, as well
as perhaps your freedom. Until African private sectors become strong enough
to assert their influence on African governments, governments in Africa will
manipulate businesspeople in ways that maintain their power without
benefiting their country's economy.

Another reason for the variance in views on democratization is the residual
suspicion of and antipathy toward the former colonial powers and other
Western nations that exists among African leaders. Whenever the threat of
neo-colonialism is invoked, there is a circling of the wagons, so to speak,
among African leaders. This neo-colonial threat is the excuse President
Mugabe has used over the years to explain away criticism of his human rights
and economic problems. It worked well during the Commonwealth debate in
February, when the African bloc refused to support the expulsion of
Zimbabwe, but didn't prevent Zimbabwe's expulsion following the elections
because the Commonwealth members had previously agreed to abide by the
report of its observer mission.

There was suspicion in Zimbabwe that the recent visit by Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo and South African President Thabo Mbeki, representing the
Commonwealth, was at least partly motivated by an attempt to broker a deal
that would allow an avoidance of Zimbabwe's expulsion. When such a deal was
not possible, expulsion became difficult to prevent. One wonders, however,
what would have happened had the members debated the issue before the
expulsion took effect.

After the end of the period of despotic rule by such tyrants as Uganda's Idi
Amin, Malawi's Hastings Banda and Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, one would think
the time has come for the principle of democracy - that is, rule by the
people - to finally have received acceptance throughout African officials
circles. Sad to say, democracy really has not been accepted in all quarters.
Otherwise, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi would not have praised President
Mugabe's "victory" as "testimony of the confidence and high esteem the
people of Zimbabwe hold in you."

The lack of conviction among African leaders about the legitimacy of
President Mugabe's electoral win was demonstrated by the fact that only five
of the 20 heads of state invited to his inauguration attended: Mozambique's
Joaquim Chissano, Malawi's Bakili Muluzi, Tanzania's Benjamin Mkapa,
Namibia's Sam Nujoma and Congo-Kinshasa's Joseph Kabila. All are close
allies of President Mugabe.

But it isn't enough to refuse to join the cheering section for a Mugabe
victory. Positive support for the principles of democracy are necessary to
correct this situation. The effort to push the Mugabe government into
accepting a government of national unity that includes MDC only covers up
serious problems with the election process in Zimbabwe and creates an
unworkable governing coalition that has never been proven to work
successfully anywhere in Africa. Such a plan already has been refused by
Tsvangirai and his party.

Support for democracy is not a merely a matter of pleasing donors or
international financial institutions. It is a matter of granting African
people their God-given rights to express their will through an unencumbered
process of selecting their leaders, and thereby selecting the course their
nation will take. It is a matter of respecting the values African societies
honored for centuries before foreigners controlled their destinies.

African leaders, especially those in southern Africa, have been reluctant to
criticize Robert Mugabe because of his history as a liberation movement
leader and an African elder. However, the right of African people to control
their own destiny is more important than the tradition of not criticizing an
African leader who has pursued destructive policies. Besides, criticism of
African leaders has always been practiced in the villages and kingdoms in
the continent's past. That criticism just wasn't done for an audience beyond
those borders, but it was done quite regularly. Today, even quiet criticism
of African leaders does not appear to be practiced, and in the case of
Zimbabwe, a bad situation has only gotten worse. If President Mugabe gets
away with preventing his own people from expressing their will and remains
in power essentially by force, then what makes any of the supportive African
leaders think he will be willing to work with the opposition or civil
society to build a better Zimbabwe?

British Lord John Acton once said: "Power corrupts, and absolute power
corrupts absolutely." Robert Mugabe, the once great liberation leader of
Zimbabwe clearly has been corrupted by his decades in power as amply
demonstrated by his government's handling of the 2002 presidential election.
If President Mugabe's fellow African leaders fail to join in the effort to
reign in his exercise of brutal force in maintaining power in Zimbabwe, we
may soon see how corrupt absolute power makes him.

The monster this lack of accountability has created in Zimbabwe has already
hurt the many voters who were unable to cast their ballots no matter how
long they waited, the businesspeople who continue to lose money with every
transaction, the black farm families whose dreams of land have been denied
and the many poor Zimbabweans who face the genuine threat of starvation.
However, other African nations also will suffer because of the selfishness
of the Mugabe regime. South Africa, for example, has seen its currency drop
in value drastically largely due to the crisis in Zimbabwe, which also has
chilled interest in investment in southern Africa as a whole. The effort to
secure developed world funding for the New African Partnership for Africa's
Development (NEPAD) also will find a less receptive international audience
because of the lack of African commitment to transparency, good governance
and simple decency in Zimbabwe.

Increasingly, African governments will find themselves facing a choice:
support Robert Mugabe's naked grab for continued power or support the rights
of Zimbabwe citizens to freely select their leaders. This choice will
determine the level of development that will be possible on the continent to
bring African economies into the 21st century. African governments that
support repression so their leaders can selfishly hold onto power will end
up like Zimbabwe. It's not too late to make the right choice, as Presidents
Obasanjo and Mbeki have done, but time is running out.

Gregory Simpkins is Vice President of the Foundation for Democracy in
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Assist in Rebuilding Harare's Economy, Says Cabinet

BuaNews (Pretoria)

March 21, 2002
Posted to the web March 21, 2002

Mantshele Wa Ga Tau

At its meeting in Cape Town, yesterday, Cabinet received a briefing on
latest developments regarding the situation in Zimbabwe and noted the
decision of the Commonwealth on the matter.

President Thabo Mbeki, his Nigerian counterpart Olesugun Obasanjo and
Australian Prime Minister John Howard decided on Tuesday night to suspend
Zimbabwe from the organisation for a year.

Cabinet expressed its support for the comprehensive and forward-looking
approach contained in the commonwealth recommendation.

'In this regard, Cabinet congratulated President Thabo Mbeki for the role
that he and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in particular played, to
ensure that Commonwealth addresses the most critical issues facing
Zimbabweans in the current period. We are confident that the initiative to
assist Zimbabweans to unite in pursuit of peace, stability and economic
recovery will bear fruit,' said Government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe.

'The decision of the Commonwealth to suspend Zimbabwe for a year is an
important symbolic gesture both to express the displeasure of the
organisation with the weaknesses which were manifest in the electoral
process, and to serve as an incentive for the role-players in Zimbabwe to
unite and work together to rebuild their country.'

Cabinet said the most critical challenge in this period was to assist the
people of Zimbabwe to reconstruct their country, through a law-governed land
reform process, among others; to deal with food shortages and to bring about
political and social stability.

It added that South Africa and other Commonwealth members had committed
themselves to this objective.

'In pursuit of the Commonwealth's and our own objectives, the South African
government will continue to relate to the Government of Zimbabwe as the
elected government of that country. In this regard President Thabo Mbeki has
noted and accepted the report of the SA Parliamentary Observer Mission, and
the interim report of the SA Observer Mission.

'Further, the South African government wishes to emphasize that it is
critical that no one - within and outside Zimbabwe - should behave in a
manner that seeks to worsen the economic, social and political difficulties
facing Zimbabwe.'

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Zimbabwe Mirror

UN throws Zimbabwe a lifeline
Groundwork has already been completed
Taurai Hove

THE United Nations has thrown Zimbabwe’s foreign exchange-starved economy a
lifeline, engaging local exporters to supply its humanitarian efforts

A spokesperson for the country’s premier trade agency, ZimTrade, confirmed
this week that at least six Zimbabwean companies had been lined up to supply
the UN with a variety of goods and services.

The hard currency yields from such contracts were expected to bail out local
exporters and boost critically low reserves.

While only six exporting firms successfully participated in last November’s
International Trade Centre exhibition for buyers and sellers, an additional
number had since satisfied UN requirements, prompting calls for other
credible companies to register with ZimTrade for consideration.

The companies will supply foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, shelter, personal
protection and household items like tents, reinforced plastics, tarpaulins,
mosquito nets and multi-purpose plastic sheeting.

Would-be suppliers undergo a rigorous registration and vetting process to
convince the UN of the quality of their goods and services, and their
reliability in meeting orders.

“All registered companies are ready to start supplying the products as and
when they are needed. The ground work has already been completed,” the
ZimTrade spokesperson said.

When asked to name the companies, the spokesperson declined to do so.

“This is confidential information and it’s up to the companies to publicise
their operations. We are not in a position to shed more light,” she said.

UN humanitarian activities range from peacekeeping to relief work in war
zones and mass disaster areas. Contracts for the procurement of relief
supplies include provisions and equipment for victims as well as rescue
workers, often at short notice.

UN agencies have huge procurement budgets. And Africa has its fair share of
relief and peacekeeping work. However, more often than not, most of the
provisions are procured from abroad, notwithstanding the capacities of
surrounding African countries that produce and distribute the same products.

The ZimTrade spokesperson said although the selected companies were yet to
supply the UN, last year’s buyers and sellers meeting offered them the
opportunity to discuss contracts with various UN agencies.

Of particular concern to potential suppliers was the requirement to meet the
strict delivery deadlines of the UN. Delays due to bureaucracy would result
in loss of business.

“It is in this regard that ZimTrade organised a meeting with various
stakeholders and organisations to prepare the ground for Zimbabwe’s entry
into those markets,” she said.

Commercial banks, the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate, Standards
Association of Zimbabwe, Export Processing Zones Authority, the ministries
of Finance and Economic Development and of Industry and International Trade,
have all since rallied to the cause and are ready to facilitate suppliers.

ZimTrade has been requested by the UN to survey all potential suppliers and
set up a database of such companies.

The development also has benefits for the man in the street.

“Jobs will definitely be saved by companies going regional, and a lot of
foreign currency will be poured into the country,” said the spokesperson.
Despite low profit margins offered by the UN market, there are long-term
benefits that accrue to a registered supplier. Registration with the UN
becomes an important barometer against which the quality of a company’s
product image and reputation can be measured.

There is a general consensus among registered firms that Zimbabwe needs to
seriously approach this project at a national level, given the current
economic and financial constraints.
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From IRIN (UN), 20 March

Persecution continues – NGOs

The persecution of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
supporters in Zimbabwe has continued following President Robert Mugabe's
election victory, IRIN was told on Wednesday. Francis Lovemore, medical
director of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Amani Trust, told IRIN:
"There's an enormous amount of persecution (of MDC supporters). (There's) a
witch-hunt for people who voted MDC. Whole areas are on the run - a
community of about 3,000 people who are unable to remain at home. About
1,200 MDC polling agents, who were registered to monitor for the MDC, are
unable to stay at home, they are on the run." In its political violence
report for the period 1-15 March, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
(ZimRights) noted that "the majority of violators have been supporters of
the ruling party Zanu PF, state agents and war veterans". Apart from
reported cases of politically motivated murders and abductions are incidents
of rape. Lovemore said: "The victims of the violence are being forced to
commit sexual acts, homosexual or heterosexual. It is being used as a form
of torture."

ZimRights said its report detailed "politically motivated violence reported
in the period directly before, during and after the March poll". "Contrary
to the impression given by the state that there were no incidents of
violence during the actual polling days, the Human Rights Forum recorded
more than 24 incidents of politically motivated violence in this period and
on the extended polling day of 11 March," ZimRights said. The forum alleged
that since 1 March four politically motivated executions were perpetrated,
bringing to 35 the number of politically motivated killings since the
beginning of the year. They alleged that 46 people had been unlawfully
detained (72 since the beginning of the year) and that 50 people had been
abducted (175 since 1 January). The NGO alleged there had been 187 cases of
torture, bringing the total to 453 up to 15 March this year.

Meanwhile, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was formally charged with
treason on Wednesday, has dismissed the attempt to prosecute him. Tsvangirai
told IRIN: "The position is that this is ongoing political harassment and
that we are not going to be (distracted) from our thrust. We are going to go
ahead." Tsvangirai was charged for alleged involvement in a plot to
assassinate Mugabe, which he has denied. Lovemore said she was relieved that
the Commonwealth had on Tuesday suspended Zimbabwe from the body for a year.
The Commonwealth took the decision to suspend Zimbabwe after it received a
damning report on the March presidential election from its observer team.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
and Australian Prime Minister John Howard had been tasked with deciding what
action the Commonwealth should take if the report was adverse. Lovemore
said: "The message (sent by the suspension) was desperately important." A
national stayaway called for by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to
protest the election result has not resulted in the expected shutdown of
major centres. "A high percentage of people were at work," Lovemore said.

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