Ruling party could in time rupture because of Mugabe's insistence on
promoting the Zezuru clan over the larger Karanga.
Unendoro in Harare (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 18,
To outsiders the great tribal split in Zimbabwe is between
the Shonas and the Ndebele - the latter an offshoot of the Zulus of South
Africa who now largely occupy the dry western part of the
But Zimbabweans themselves know that the critical ethnic and
cultural divide - the one that will eventually decide the fate of their
troubled state - is between the distinct clans that make up the
The Shona, who began arriving from west central Africa more than a
thousand years ago, share a mutually intelligible language. But ethnically
they are not homogenous. Between the clans there is a diversity of dialects,
religious beliefs and customs.
The five principal clans are the
Karanga, Zezuru, Manyika, Ndau and Korekore.
Of these, the biggest
and most powerful clans are the Karanga and the Zezuru. At this moment,
largely unperceived by outsiders, an almighty struggle is going on between
Karangas and Zezurus inside President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party
that at some point is destined to explode and completely reshape Zimbabwean
The Karanga are the largest clan, accounting for some 35 per
cent of Zimbabwe's 11.5 million citizens. The Zezuru are the second biggest,
and comprise around a quarter of the total population.
provided the bulk of the fighting forces and military leaders who fought the
successful 1972-80 chimurenga (struggle) that secured independence and black
majority rule. Nevertheless, the ZANU movement - since renamed ZANU PF - was
led by a Zezuru intellectual with several degrees - Mugabe - who did not do
The ethnic differences at that time seemed to matter little
since ZANU proclaimed unity as one of its ideals. Mugabe's predecessors as
leader were Ndabaningi Sithole, an Ndau, and Herbert Chitepo, assassinated
in mysterious circumstances 30 years ago, a Manyika.
But those clan
differences have surfaced with a vengeance in 2005, after Mugabe filled
every top position in the state with members of his Zezuru clan and pushed
out the Karangas.
The Karangas, who know that their men won the
chimurenga, are angry.
Besides 81-year-old Mugabe, his two vice
presidents - Joseph Msika and Joyce Mujuru - are Zezurus.
Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, who is also Mugabe's spymaster, is a Zezuru, as
are the chiefs of the three main security forces.
Army chief General
Constantine Chiwenga - whose highly combative wife Jocelyn threatened to eat
a white farmer at the height of the 2000-2004 farm invasions - replaced a
veteran Karanga fighter, General Vitalis Zvinavashe.
The air force chief
is Air Marshal Perence Shiri, former commander of the notorious North
Korea-trained Fifth Brigade, which in 1983 swept though Matabeleland
destroying entire Ndebele villages and murdering more than 20,000 civilians.
Shiri christened his campaign against the Ndebele with a Shona word,
Gukurahundi, meaning "the early rain that washes away the chaff before the
spring rains". Mugabe has since rewarded Shiri - who replaced a Karanga -
with three confiscated white farms.
The national police chief is
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, a Zezuru who has publicly declared his
personal unwavering support for Mugabe and ZANU PF.
his grip on power, Mugabe has placed control of the electoral process since
1985 in the hands of his fellow Zezuru - Tobaiwa Mudede, the all-powerful
Mudede has been in charge of all Zimbabwe's electoral
bodies and has been widely accused of rigging all elections for the past 20
years in favour of Mugabe, who has rewarded him with two former white-owned
The judiciary also is in the hands of the Zezuru.
Godfrey Chidyausiku, a Zezuru, was appointed chief justice in 2001 after
Mugabe toppled his predecessor, Anthony Gubbay, one of the last white
Zimbabweans on the bench. With Chidyausiku's appointment came the gift of
the 895-hectare Estees Park farm, north of Harare, newly confiscated from
its white owner. Chidyausiku has ensured that all judges conform to Mugabe's
decrees and has appointed two Zezuru relatives as High Court judges to help
One of Zimbabwe's most independent judges, Justice Benjamin Paradza,
a Karanga, was forced out of office. Justice Moses Chinhengo, another
Karanga constantly criticised by Mugabe's ministers, resigned in disgust and
said, "I hope that in future I will be able to serve Zimbabwe in another
capacity as the call of duty may demand."
Kindness Paradza was born
in 1963 in Masvingo, in the Karanga heartland, but when he was aged nine his
parents moved to Zvimba district - Mugabe's home area in Mashonaland West, a
Zezuru stronghold west of Harare. In 2003, he won a by-election in the
Makonde constituency in Zvimba district on a ZANU PF ticket. Before this
year's primary elections, he was everyone's favourite to represent the party
in the coming election on March 31.
He was very popular locally but was
booted out of the contest because of his roots in Masvingo. "Karangas should
stand for election in their own province," a senior ZANU PF official very
close to Mugabe was quoted as saying. The constituency was instead given to
Mugabe's Zezuru nephew, Leo Mugabe, one of four close relatives standing in
safe ZANU PF constituencies.
The Zezuru hegemony has crept up and become
a fact of life in Zimbabwean politics, although for many years there was
intense debate as to the authenticity of Mugabe's origins.
more certain is that in1963, when ZANU was formed, Mugabe was appointed to
the powerful position of secretary general after being nominated by the late
Nolan Makombe, a leading Karanga who had convinced his co-tribesmen in the
movement that Mugabe was a fellow Karanga of the influential Mugabe dynasty
of chiefs from the area of the Great Zimbabwe ruins near Masvingo. Mugabe
cleverly encouraged this belief until he was well entrenched in
Although at its inception ZANU was led by Sithole, a Ndau from
Manicaland from the far east of Zimbabwe, the party was dominated by the
Its powerful individuals included Leopold Takawira, Nelson and
Michael Mawema, Simon Muzenda and Eddison Zvobgo - all Karangas.
tribal composition replicated itself in the armed wing of ZANU with the
Karangas, led by Josiah Tongogara, forming the backbone of the liberation
struggle. Other prominent Karangas were Emmerson Mnangagwa, current speaker
of parliament but now out of favour with Mugabe; retired Air Marshal Josiah
Tungamirai; and retired Army Commander Vitalis Zvinavashe.
Shamuyarira's rise to power illustrates how Mugabe has achieved this Zezuru
hegemony. In 1972, Chitepo beat Shamuyarira to the influential post of
chairman on the exiled ZANU War Council in Zambia.
resigned from ZANU and took the most prominent Zezuru leaders out of the
movement to form the short-lived Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe,
When in 1974 Mugabe was smuggled out of what was then Rhodesia
into Mozambique by a Manyika chief, Rekayi Tangwena, to join the chimurenga,
he was not easily accepted by the Karanga and Manyika guerrilla leadership.
But when he eventually ascended to power, the first thing he did was to
neutralise the Karanga element by imprisoning many of them - most notably
Rugare Gumbo who was the original mastermind of the guerrilla war. Gumbo and
several fellow Karanga leaders were kept in underground pit dungeons until
independence in 1980.
As soon as he was entrenched in power in
Mozambique, Mugabe invited his friend and fellow clansman Shamuyarira to
join the struggle. This move was hugely resisted but Shamuyarira remained in
Mozambique as Mugabe's guest until independence in 1980, after which he
became successively minister of information, foreign minister and now
minister of defence. He remains Mugabe's most trusted lieutenant.
quell any Karanga suspicions of his tribal manoeuvres, Mugabe kept the
respected Simon Muzenda, a Karanga, as his sole vice president until the
latter's death in 2003.
Other Karangas, such as the late firebrand
lawyer Eddison Zvobgo, long seen as a future leader of the country, were
systematically downgraded to provincial leaders. Josiah Tongogara, the
military commander of ZANU in exile, was a Karanga who died in Mozambique on
the eve of independence in an as yet unexplained car accident. Sheba Gava, a
Karanga, was the most powerful woman guerrilla during the Seventies war but
when she died in the following decade she was not granted national heroine
status although Mugabe's first wife, Sally, a Ghanaian, was given that
accolade when she died.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, a
Zezuru nephew of Mugabe, allegedly harassed the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, MDC, mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, out of
Then, last December, at ZANU PF's electoral congress, Mugabe
arm-twisted his party into voting Joyce Mujuru to the powerful new position
of second vice president, securing complete Zezuru hegemony, with a Zezuru
president and two Zezuru deputies.
But a backlash has begun, with
ZANU PF almost ruptured completely in the
prelude to the electoral congress when seven provinces out of ten resisted
Mujuru's appointment to the vice presidency, calling for the Karanga
Mnangagwa to get the post.
In the subsequent political bloodbath, Mugabe
sacked his powerful information minister Jonathan Moyo - an Ndebele - who is
now standing for parliament as an independent. Mugabe suspended six
provincial chairmen from active politics for a period of six years. All were
from non-Zezuru provinces - Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland
North, Central and South.
This is likely to have far-reaching
consequences for ZANU PF and the country. The revolt by Moyo - until
recently ZANU PF's propaganda supremo and a Mugabe ultra-loyalist - has
shown others in the ruling party it is possible to rebel against Mugabe's
political whims and perhaps get away with it.
Although ZANU PF is
almost certain to win the March 31 election, there is a lot of alliance
building going on under the surface and in secret meeting
Karangas are saying quite openly they have had enough of
being trampled upon and talk of making plans to unseat those who they
believe are being used to weaken their power base. By the time of the 2008
presidential election, it is more than likely that the current divisions
will manifest themselves in an explosion that could blow ZANU PF into
Veteran Zimbabwe journalist and independent newspaper owner
Trevor Ncube, chairman of IWPR Africa, foresees a possible intriguing new
alliance between the Karangas and Ndebeles, together comprising half of the
Ncube believes some disillusioned ZANU PF Karangas are
already campaigning covertly for the opposition MDC.
outcome of this realignment of forces, ZANU PF will have to adapt and change
if it is to remain relevant after the March 31 election," said Ncube. "That
is the grim reality it faces."
Benedict Unendoro is the pseudonym of an
IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe
Secret agents trail NGO representatives Tue 22 March
2005 HARARE - Zimbabwe non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
representatives yesterday said they were under surveillance by the
government's dreaded secret service Central Intelligence Organisation
In an advisory to members, the National Association of NGOs
(NANGOs), which is the main representative body for NGOs in Zimbabwe said
officials of its more than 1 000 member organisation were being kept under
surveillance and being tracked to their homes and offices by unknown people
suspected to be CIO agents.
NANGO head Jonah
Mudehwe, who described the situation in the civic community as "jittery"
because of fear, said in a statement: "It has come to the attention of NANGO
that there have been reports of increased surveillance of NGOs by people
believed to be state agents, at the back of an announcement by Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Paul Mangwana, that a committee
has been set up to probe NGOs.
"This includes people being
followed, unidentified vehicles being parked around the vicinity of offices
of NGOs, and NGOs being approached by strangers and asked intrusive
questions about their personal lives and institutional issues."
Mangwana, who has threatened to shut down NGOs that cannot account for money
they received to fund projects in the country, could not be reached for
comment on the matter.
Initially the government had wanted to probe
only groups that received money donated by international donors to Zimbabwe
through the United Nations Development Programme after an official plea for
help by Harare. But the government later said it now wanted to investigate
all NGOs operating in the country accusing them of siphoning money to the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party in breach of government
laws prohibiting foreign funding of political parties.
to probe NGOs is the latest onslaught by the government against civic
A new law awaiting President Robert Mugabe's signature
before it can become effective will ban NGOs from voter education and will
require those that wish to carry out human rights and governance-related
work not to receive foreign funding.
The new law also provides
for a government appointed NGO Council that will register and monitor civic
bodies and will have powers to ban those perceived as not toeing the
Urging NGOs officials and workers to be extra
careful, Mudehwe said the groups and their workers should, "improve security
awareness and take measures to minimise their exposure to being isolated and
subjected to danger. . . this involves avoiding co-operation with strangers
- whose personal and work details have not been disclosed to your
satisfaction - without legal representation." - ZimOnline
Re: Findings and
Recommendations of the Fact-finding Mission to Zimbabwe of the African
Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights 2002: Open Letter to Heads of State
of Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa
Attached please find an open letter
which has been sent to the Heads of State in the above countries. The letter
will also be flighted in the press in those countries over the week-end of 18
- 20 March 2005.
This is an AI initiative in collaboration with lead NGOS
in the respective countries where local human rights NGOs have also indicated
their support; in Nigeria 32 co - signatories, 19 in South Africa and 17 in
Newspapers running the open letter are:
Vanguard - 18 March The Guardian - 18 March
South Africa The Mail
and Guardian - 18 March The Sowetan - 18 March
Independent - 18 March The Standard - 20 March
The Herald, which was
approached to flight the letter, responded "We would not be in a position to
flight your advertisement on the 18th of March 2005".
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
Open Letter to President
Zimbabwe must implement the African Commission's Recommendations
18 March 2005
We, the undersigned, wish to
express to you our grave concern about the continuing abuse of human rights
in Zimbabwe and to call on you to ensure that the recommendations made by the
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Commission) in the
report of its 2002 Fact-Finding Mission to Zimbabwe are implemented in
In the report on its Fact-Finding Mission, the African Commission
concluded that "human rights violations occurred in Zimbabwe". The Commission
made several substantive recommendations for action by the Government
of Zimbabwe. The majority of the human rights concerns documented by
the African Commission Fact-Finding Mission in 2002 remain serious
The findings and recommendations of the African
On freedom of expression.
The African Commission stated
that laws such as the 2002 Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the 2002
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act would have "a 'chilling
effect' on freedom of expression and introduce a cloud of fear in media
circles". The Commission recommended that:
"The POSA and Access to
Information Act should be amended to meet international standards for freedom
On the police service.
The African Commission
found evidence that a "system of arbitrary arrests took place". The Law and
Order Unit of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) was described as appearing
"to operate under political instructions and without accountability to the
ZRP command structures".
The Commission stated that every effort must be
made to "avoid any further politicisation of the police service" and
recommended that the Law and Order Unit be disbanded.
On the youth
In 2001 the Government of Zimbabwe established the National
Youth Service (NYS). The African Commission noted reports that youths trained
under the NYS have acted as militias for the ruling party and have been
implicated in acts of political violence. The Commission recommended
"that these youth camps be closed down."
On the rule of law.
African Commission found that "the government had failed to chart a path that
signalled a commitment to the rule of law." and in its recommendations stated
that: "The independence of the judiciary should be assured in practice
and judicial orders must be obeyed".
On the work of NGOs.
African Commission's report stated: "Legislation that inhibits
public participation by NGOs in public education [and] human rights
counselling must be reviewed. The Private Voluntary Organisations Act should
Since the African Commission visited Zimbabwe in 2002
little has changed.
The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act remains in place. In 2003 this legislation was used to close down
Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, the Daily News, and the weekly
Daily News on Sunday. It has also been used to shut down the Daily Tribune in
2004, and the Weekly Times of Bulawayo in February 2005.
Order and Security Act (POSA) continues to be used selectively to prevent the
political opposition and civil society groups from meeting or engaging in
peaceful protest. In 2005 POSA has been used to detain dozens of women for
handing out flowers to mark Valentine's Day and to arrest opposition
candidates and supporters in the context of the General Election
There are persistent claims that the police are partisan and
apply the law selectively although the Commissioner of Police has recently
reiterated that there will be zero tolerance of violence, particularly in the
run-up to the General Election in March 2005. Youth training centres
[camps] remain operational and graduates of the NYS are given preference
for recruitment in the police. This could have negative long-term
implications for the integrity and professionalism of the police force in
Your government has continued its repression of NGOs,
particularly those working on governance and human rights issues. The Private
Voluntary Organizations (PVO) Act is set to be replaced by the
Non-governmental Organisations Act - a piece of legislation widely condemned
as even more repressive than the PVO Act.
The judiciary remains under
sustained pressure and the operational environment for judges raises doubts
about judicial independence in some matters. Court orders have been ignored
and there continue to be considerable delays in the consideration and
completion of cases perceived to be of a sensitive nature or where some
constitutional rights are at issue.
The African Commission is charged
with ensuring the promotion and protection of the rights guaranteed under the
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Its recommendations should be
given the most serious consideration. We have noted the government's response
to the African Commission report and regret the lack of positive engagement
by the Government of Zimbabwe with its recommendations. We urge you to
reconsider this report and to take action to implement its
Amani Trust Amnesty
International (Zimbabwe) Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition Gays and Lesbians of
Zimbabwe Legal Resources Foundation Media Monitoring Project of
Zimbabwe National Constitutional Assembly of Zimbabwe Nonviolent Action
and Strategies for Social Change Transparency International
(Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and the Rehabilitation
of the Offender Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human
Rights National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations
(Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions Zimbabwe Human Rights Association Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO
Forum Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
FEATURE: Tsholotsho: two tales from a divided
constituency Tue 22 March 2005 TSHOLOTSHO - A donkey-drawn cart, pasted
up with posters beseeching people in this rural town, about 110 km northwest
of Bulawayo, to vote for former government propaganda tsar, Jonathan Moyo,
The cart's occupant, a smiling young man clad in a
T-shirt emblazoned with Moyo's portrait frantically waves a V-sign at a
group of onlookers while at the same time shouting: "Phambili ngentuthuko!
Phambili ngoMoyo! (Forward with development, forward with
From a nondescript beer hall on the other side of the road,
a group of youths also donning pro-Moyo regalia swing along to a song
blaring from a hi-fi set on the bar counter. The song, which has become a
household hit here in Tsholotsho since its release two weeks ago, was penned
by none other than Moyo himself. Titled "Phambili leTsholotsho," the song is
virtually a plea to voters here by President Robert Mugabe's former
right-hand man to vote for him on March 31 because he alone understands
their problems and knows the solution.
bordering on arrogance by Moyo, who has adopted the V-sign as his symbol
appears not without basis if the mood at Tsholotsho business centre or at
Dinyane village, from where he allegedly tried to reorganise the top
leadership of ZANU PF incurring the anger of Mugabe in the process, is
anything to go by.
It is at Dinyane school where Moyo gathered
seven ZANU PF provincial chairmen and other top leaders of the party to
allegedly plot to block the appointment of Joyce Mujuru as second
vice-president of ZANU PF and Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, who had openly
backed Mujuru for the vice-presidency, seen as a key stepping stone to the
top job, was so angry at Moyo that he fired him from ZANU PF's politburo and
blocked him his appointment to the party's central committee.
Out of favour and blocked by ZANU PF from contesting next week's election on
its ticket, Moyo eventually resigned from the party to contest the ballot as
But speak to Thoko Sibanda, one of the villagers
here at Dinyane village, to get an insight into why Moyo, reviled elsewhere
across the country, might just emerge the victor come the first of
"He is our hero and I doubt if anyone here has anything
against him," Sibanda said. She added: "There are a lot of projects that he
has set up and our children can now learn computers. Those who did not have
money to pay school fees now have that privilege, all because of
As if to underscore Moyo's popularity in this village, his
posters are literally all over the place, on trees, on huts and on rocks by
Among other things, the villagers credit Moyo
with widening and tarring roads in the area, putting up tower lights,
building a Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depot, doling out computers to a
dozen schools, attracting the country's third largest bank to open a branch
in the area and setting up a scholarship fund that has to date benefited
hundreds of underprivileged pupils.
Even some traditional
leaders on the pay roll of the government and all supportive of Mugabe and
ZANU PF appear to back Moyo here. "Some traditional leaders are backing him.
He has brought about development and they think there is absolutely no
reason why they should forsake him. To them his dismissal from ZANU PF is
not an issue," said one village headman, who did not want to be
But take a drive westwards, deeper into Tsholotsho and a
different picture as to who has more support in this apparently divided
First, if the number of posters on
buildings, trees and roadside boulders is anything to go by, then Moyo has
no place in this part of the constituency. Instead, the contest appears to
be between main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
candidate Mtoliki Sibanda and ZANU PF's Musa Mathema.
people here seem to fail to grasp the concept of an independent candidate
who does not have the backing of a larger political organisation wanting to
represent them in Parliament.
At Tjitatjawa, a sprawling village
further west which is mainly inhabited by Zimbabwe's minority San people,
the contest is between ZANU PF and MDC. Moyo is virtually not a factor
"A lot of people here are MDC because ZANU PF has failed us.
People are not happy at all," said Bongani Mpofu, one of the headmen at
Asked why he would not vote for Moyo either,
considering his darling record in the east, Mpofu replied: "We don't vote
for individuals. Parties are more important and effective than individuals.
Besides, Moyo has never done anything for us."
Sibanda, who is current Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho after winning in
the 2000 general election told our news crew: "The people of Tsholotsho
spoke in 2000 and I believe they will speak the same language this time
ZANU PF candidate Mathema is also equally confident of
victory arguing that voters were clever enough to realise that Moyo was able
to do all the good things he did for Tsholotsho only because he was a member
of the government and not an independent.
If voting patterns
elsewhere in the country are clearly defined with urban areas backing the
MDC and rural areas supporting ZANU PF, here in Tsholotsho the month end
poll remains too close to call. - ZimOnline.
FEATURE: New era gives birth to fresh hopes at the
polls Tue 22 March 2005 NORTON - The expectant crowd cannot wait
anymore. Women dance with fearless abandon.
They have every
reason to do so after bearing the brunt of a painful five-year economic
recession and being suppressed for too long.
With their red
whistles and colourful party regalia, the whistling breaks the ghostly
silence in the small town of Norton, about 40 km west of the capital
A raging political battle between the ruling ZANU PF party
and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the control of the Manyame
constituency, of which Norton is a part is on. The women seem to be the
driving force behind this new political revolution.
It is not
just women who are trickling to Ngoni Stadium in Norton, the venue for an
MDC rally. The men, the young boys and girls are part of the "miracle"
unfolding before their eyes.
Five years ago, such scenes were
simply unfathomable. Militias from ZANU PF, with President Mugabe's full
blessings, went around opposition strongholds bludgeoning the whole nation
"This year people are free to exercise their right
to attend political meetings of their choice. There is less violence and
intimidation, and we can attend all the meetings we like," said Miriam
Murowe as she walks into the stadium.
As we speak, a group of
chanting MDC youths, in white and red T-shirts, raises a cloud of dust as
they sing the party's songs promising "revenge" at the polls.
But beyond the youthful zeal and joy here, is seething anger against
Mugabe's government which they accuse of serious human rights violations.
Five years ago, these youths bore the brunt of a brutal campaign by the ZANU
PF supporters and self-styled veterans of the country's independence
struggle to crush rising dissent from the opposition.
things seem to have changed. Or could it be the lull before the
About a kilometre from here, a group of about 10 ZANU PF
supporters, in their party T-shirts, sit around a crate of traditional
opaque beer, commonly referred to as "scud," to drown their sorrows. The
"scud" has no relation to the missiles developed by former Iraqi strongman
But the effect of the "scud," is probably the same
as the contents can certainly knock you off with a ferocious
They seem oblivious to the fact that an opposition rally is
only a kilometre away from their drinking spot.
Back at Ngoni
Stadium, slogans of "change" and "enough is enough" emerge through the thick
of dust as about 10 000 MDC supporters cheer the arrival of leaders, Hilda
Mafudze, candidate for Manyame constituency which includes Norton, Tendai
Biti, the party's secretary for economics and dismissed Harare Mayor Elias
The crowd seems a bit disappointed that party president
Morgan Tsvangirai could not make it to the rally as he was still in Mutare
attending to "urgent party business."
About 11 police officers
casually monitor the proceedings from a distance, while 10 officers from the
government's Electoral Supervisory Commission proceed to hand out fliers to
the public urging political parties to shun violence.
encouraging you to shun political violence and go out in your numbers to
vote for the party of your choice on March 31. For more information, you can
read our fliers," one of the monitors says handing out fliers to all the
people who cared to listen.
On the stage Biti, a fiery lawyer who
cut his teeth in student politics at the University of Zimbabwe in the late
80s, makes a compelling case to voters to shun Mugabe for "messing" the
"This is an election to revenge against 25 years of
mismanagement, escalating cost of living and unemployment. This is why we
say March 31 is a day of reckoning for Mugabe," Biti says amid thundering
He said daily price increases have eroded people's
purchasing power to a level where Zimbabweans could hardly afford underwear,
to chuckles from the party faithful!
Biti warned Zimbabweans to
brace up for massive food shortages as only a paltry 600 000 tonnes of maize
were expected from the "new" farmers who replaced the white commercial
farmers who lost their farms in Mugabe's chaotic and often violent land
The MDC candidate says she is confident of
winning the seat against Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwao despite the odds
being staked against her. Manyame constituency includes informal settlements
of newly resettled people at Tongogara, Porta Farm, and Mount Hampden. It
also includes Inkomo barracks.
Mafudze said: "Despite the few
problems that we have faced, we will retain the seat. The people are
determined and resolute." - ZimOnline
THE United States has sent two
advisors to the House of Representatives to assess the status of Zimbabwe's
forthcoming general elections, pencilled for next week, and meet officials
from Zanu PF and MDC. The team will also look at the current economic and
health conditions in the country and bilateral issues between Zimbabwe and
the US. The visit comes against a background of soured relations between the
two governments, with the US alleging that there is no rule of law and
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labelling the country "an outpost of
tyranny". President Robert Mugabe has hit back, accusing American president
George W Bush and his ally, Tony Blair of Britain, of using bully tactics
against smaller nations. Pearl Alice Marsh and Malik Chaka, both
professional staff members of the US House of Representatives' International
Relations Committee (HIRC), jetted in on Sunday and are expected to leave on
Friday, six days before the parliamentary polls. In a statement
yesterday, the American embassy public affairs section said: "Responsible
for advising the HIRC and members of the US Congress on all issues related
to Africa, Dr Marsh and Mr Chaka will be visiting Harare and Bulawayo in
order to assess the status of the upcoming Zimbabwean elections, current
economic and health conditions as well as important bilateral issues between
the United States and Zimbabwe." Apart from Zanu PF and MDC, the two will
also meet election officials as well as religious leaders during their
six-day visit. The US embassy also said the representatives would be briefed
on USAID and US Centre for Disease Control funded programmes in
Zimbabwe. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Pavelyn Musaka yesterday acknowledged
the presence of the US officials. Zanu PF deputy secretary for
information and publicity, Ephraim Masawi, confirmed that party officials
would meet the US delegation. He added that he still wanted to do more
consultations with the foreign ministry regarding their status to assess the
elections. "We are going to meet them either on Wednesday or Thursday. We are
yet to know what they want to hear from us. But we know that what Americans
are always up to is mischief," said Masawi, who is also the Provincial
Governor for Mashonaland Central. Neither MDC spokesperson Paul Themba
Nyathi, nor secretary-general Welshman Ncube, could be reached last
night. Party national organising secretary Esaph Mdlongwa said he was not in
a position to comment.
NATIONAL Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku yesterday failed to turn up at the Police
General Headquarters (PGHQ) in Harare to provide evidence on alleged
political violence contained in a report published by his organisation last
week. Yesterday, Madhuku said the NCA had no obligation to provide police
with the information. "We do not have any legal obligation to provide
them with the information they need. If they think we committed a crime why
don't they prefer charges against us. They have a number of laws that deal
with publishing falsehoods they can use, if they think we committed a
crime," Madhuku told The Daily Mirror last night. NCA published a report
circulated to the media and diplomatic mission in the capital claiming that
the March 31 parliamentary polls would not be free and fair due to
widespread human rights abuses by uniformed forces and Zanu PF
supporters. Chief police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday
confirmed that the constitutional law expert did not report to the police as
he had earlier on been agreed upon. "Contrary to what he told you (as
reported in our lead story yesterday) he has not proved anything at all. He
promised to provide the details today (yesterday) but he has not done so. I
phoned him today (yesterday) and he said he was sorting out a few details
and would bring the evidence, but he has not done so," Bvudzijena
said. On Sunday, Madhuku said he had confirmed "every paragraph and full stop
in the report," and yesterday reiterated the NCA stance. He said: "We
stand by that report from the first sentence to its last full
stop." Bvudzijena said police had invited Madhuku to today's press
briefing on political violence at PGHQ to explain their side of the story in
his presence and challenge him to produce evidence contained in the NCA's
damning report. "We have invited him to tomorrow's (today) press
briefing. We felt it was appropriate that he be present so that he hears our
position on his paper. We also want him to provide his evidence," Bvudzijena
said. The NCA published a report entitled Consolidated Election Climate No.1
alleging that there was political instability ahead of the elections
including murder, rape assault and participation of uniformed forces in the
run up to the elections. Police have, however, dismissed the NCA claims
and on Sunday picked up Madhuku at his Parktown home for questioning over
the negative report. "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 said on Sunday. However, Madhuku last
night said he would not attend the press conference saying: "Press
conferences are for journalists and I am not a journalist. I think they were
just extending a joke to us. It's the lighter side of our relationship with
the police, they can have their press conference." Bvudzijena could not
divulge the course of action the police would take against Madhuku if he
fails to attend today's press conference. He only said: "Let us just wait for
the press conference." Political violence has been largely subdued with the
major political players -Zanu PF and the MDC - agreeing that the situation
has been calmer compared to the run up to the 2000 and 2002 parliamentary
and presidential elections respectively. Statistics provided by the
police have also reflected a general decline in cases of politically
motivated violence before the crucial elections in nine days time.
Zanu PF Bulawayo ZANU PF over the
weekend held a series of meetings in Bulawayo. Some of the meetings
took place at the following venues, Sizinda Hall and Tshabalala Zanu PF
offices in Nkulumane, Nkulumane High School and Amaveni Primary School in
Nkulumane constituency addressed by Absolom Sikhosana, the party's
candidate. Minister Sithembiso Nyoni, war veteran Jabulani Sibanda and John
Nkomo, the Zanu PF national chairman and fellow Politburo member Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu addressed rallies at Mtsede Primary School in Mpopoma constituency,
Nkulumane High School, Topia Church Makokoba and Hindu Community Hall in
Bulawayo South. At the Hindu Community Hall, Nkomo urged the Indian
community to vote for Sithembiso Nyoni and Joshua Malinga, candidates for
Bulawayo East and South constituencies respectively. Nyoni donated $20
million to four schools in her constituency. She urged school headmasters to
show commitment towards the development of their schools and promised more
assistance to the schools if voted into office. Mashonaland West The
ruling party's candidates in the province held a series of campaign meetings
over the weekend. The meetings addressed by President Robert Mugabe and Vice
President Mujuru were held at Nyabira Primary School and Ngoni Stadium in
Manyame Constituency. Kadoma Central candidate, Jimayi Muduviri held rallies
at Kadoma Sports Club, Jameson High School and Rimuka. Jonathan
Shumbayaonda Chandengenda held meetings at Makande, Kadziro, Kurudzirai and
Kudzanai business centre in Kariba constituency. Chandengenda explained
the voting procedures to the attendants emphasising that people should go to
the polls early since voting was going to be done in one day. He promised to
improve the transport system, roads and bridges in the
constituency. Mashonaland East Zanu PF held campaign meetings in the
province over the weekend at Munamba and Jekwa business centres in Murehwa
South constituency addressed by outgoing MP and party candidate, Joel
Matiza. Minister Ambrose Mutinhiri, seeking re-election in Marondera West,
held a rally at Muringari Business Centre, while several Zanu PF officials
held meetings at Masasa, Dombo, and Mashambamuto business centres and Zave
Primary School in Chikomba constituency. Vice President Mujuru addressed
a rally at Chinamhora in Goromonzi and at Nyamurara Business Centre in
Murehwa North. In her addresses, Mujuru encouraged women to participate in
the country's economic growth. She blasted the MDC for allegedly being a
front for the British. MDC Harare Two campaign meetings were held
by the MDC over the weekend at Mufakose Area E Hall in Mufakose constituency
and at Lochnivar Shopping Centre in Kambuzuma Constituency. Paurina
Mpariwa and Willias Madzimure, the party's respective candidates for the
constituencies, addressed the meetings. Mpariwa educated the attendants on
the Sadc principles and guidelines governing the conduct of democratic
elections. She said that if the MDC were elected into power, it would
give back all the acquired land to the white farmers until compensation
funds were secured. She said her party would provide farming resources to
the landless people before they were resettled. Madzimure criticised the
Zanu PF manifesto for lacking clear-cut policies on bread and butter issues
and concentrating on anti-Blair rhetoric. Bulawayo In Bulawayo, the
MDC held campaign meetings in the following places over the weekend:
Montgomery Hall in Makokoba Constituency addressed by the party's candidate
Thokozani Khupe, Amakhosi Stadium in Pumula/Luveve Constituency addressed by
Esaph Mdlongwa, and at Sizinda Hall in Nkulumane Constituency addressed by
Gibson Sibanda. The general theme in the addresses centred on articulation of
the party's election manifesto. They criticised Zanu PF for the land reform
programme saying the ruling party chased away white commercial farmers who
relocated to Zambia, alleging that Zimbabwe is now importing maize from the
same farmers. They blasted corruption, which they said was rampant in Zanu
PF. Mashonaland East The opposition party held three campaign meetings at
Hokonya, Wazvaremhaka and Marungana business centres in Chikomba, which were
addressed by Piniel Denga, who articulated the party's manifesto and urged
the people to vote for the MDC. He applauded the call for a peaceful
campaign by President Robert Mugabe adding that he had been able to embark
on his political activities without any problems. Manicaland The MDC
candidate for Buhera North, Tichaona Mudzingwa, held a campaign rally at
Gombe Business Centre over the weekend. He articulated the party's election
manifesto and promised development in the constituency if elected. New
JOHANNESBURG -- Diplomats describe
a festival atmosphere in Zimbabwe as large crowds turn out for rallies by
both government and opposition parties ahead of parliamentary elections on
March 31. While President Robert Mugabe has never had a problem
campaigning, outside observers are surprised to see how effectively
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been able to muster supporters
around the country. "It's like a festival," said a Western diplomat
based in Harare, Zimbabwe. "Government strongholds where, in the past,
people have been afraid of stepping up to hear the opposition are turning
out record crowds."
The human rights group Amnesty International
said there have been "significantly fewer reports of politically motivated
violence" than during past elections, but warned that threats and
intimidation against opposition supporters would make it hard for the vote
to be judged as "free and fair." Mr. Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) narrowly won the 2000 election,
taking just 62 of the 120 elected seats in parliament -- the first time the
party has been challenged since it took power in 1980. Mr.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which won 57 seats,
accused the government of using torture, intimidation and vote rigging to
win the balloting and the courts later nullified eight of the ZANU-PF seats,
though the government refused to rerun the vote in those electorates.
In 2000, MDC rallies were frequently overrun by ruling-party youths or
broken up by police. But this time, most meetings have gone ahead, though
several have been delayed or moved when police refused to grant permission
for the gatherings. Under Zimbabwe's notorious Public Order and
Security Act (POSA), it is illegal for two or more persons to discuss
politics in a public place without police permission. The MDC has
also complained that the ruling party is using government vehicles to ferry
people to its rallies and that soldiers have been forcing voters to assemble
whenever the 81-year-old Mr. Mugabe delivers a speech. Radio, television
and all daily newspapers are controlled by the state and give little space
to the MDC. The only independent radio station broadcasts by shortwave
HARARE, Mar 22 (Reuters) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is
known as a snappy dresser -- a man who swapped the fatigues of a guerrilla
commander for the business suits of civilian office with a sharp eye for
Military uniforms with braids and epaulets have
never been Mugabe's style.
Political analysts say, however, that the
81-year-old leader is increasingly using Zimbabwe's military to bolster his
hold on power, mobilising army allies to ensure his ruling ZANU-PF emerges
victorious in March 31 parliamentary elections.
''For Mugabe the
strategy is very simple: he is hiring men he really trusts, and telling
everyone else that the army and other security forces are with him,'' one
political analyst said.
Mugabe honed his political skills in the 1960s
both as a backroom strategist in Zimbabwe's liberation struggle and as an
articulate public speaker, and has long matched political savvy with a
healthy respect for military muscle.
Unlike many African countries,
however, Zimbabwe's army remained largely in the shadows following
independence from Britain in 1980 -- a public image analysts say belied its
role in keeping Mugabe's government afloat.
That low-key approach started
to change in 2000 as Mugabe faced a rising challenge from the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and the military is
increasingly coming to the fore in this election as Mugabe deploys army
officers, war veterans and youth brigades in a campaign which he says will
''bury'' the opposition.
In the last six months, the veteran Zimbabwean
leader has brought more senior serving or retired military officers into his
party ranks to help shape a political strategy against the MDC, which he
describes as a puppet of Western powers.
Mugabe has also appointed
dozens of former army officers to key positions in the civil service,
including the secret Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), the prison
service, the police force, and the judiciary.
Other senior army and
security commanders have taken positions in Zimbabwe's ''independent''
elections commission, in parliament, the cabinet and ZANU-PF's powerful
politburo and central committee bodies.
''He is not simply flexing his
military muscles but sending a message to the world that he is a formidable
force,'' said the analyst, who declined to be identified.
Raftopoulos, a Zimbabwean political commentator and Mugabe critic based in
neighbouring South Africa, says Mugabe and ZANU-PF have become a de facto
Mugabe is an autocrat: when will South Africa face
facts? By David Blair (Filed: 22/03/2005)
If Robert Mugabe's penchant for national vandalism has wrecked
much of Zimbabwe, the old dictator can claim credit for at least one new
construction project in neighbouring Botswana. Fittingly, this sinister
edifice outside Francistown, a few miles from the two countries' common
border, boasts razor wire coiled on grey walls. For it is a fortified
detention centre whose sole purpose is to jail and deport the tens of
thousands of Zimbabweans who pour into Botswana every year.
desperate people are voting with their feet, and fleeing the consequences of
Mugabe's rule. You might have thought that the message borne by this human
tide was unmistakable. Yet Africa's foremost economic and political power is
determined to ignore them. When the results of Zimbabwe's election are
announced after polls close on Thursday next week, nothing is more certain
than that President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa will declare the contest
free and fair.
Once more, Mr Mbeki will indulge Zimbabwe's autocrat and
give a clean bill of health to his latest subversion of democracy. To reach
this quixotic conclusion, Mr Mbeki will turn a blind eye to blatant
chicanery. The South African leader will ignore Mugabe's new electoral rules
that have installed pillars of the ruling Zanu-PF party to run and supervise
the polls at every level.
Mr Mbeki will overlook the fact that, for
the first time, the army will be running polling stations, and members of
Mugabe's militia of choice - the young thugs styling themselves the
"national youth service" - will also be "helping" voters in the polling
Mr Mbeki will downplay other trifling matters such as Zimbabwe's
Public Order and Security Act, which makes criticism of the president a
criminal offence and forces the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to
apply for police permission to hold rallies.
Instead, Mr Mbeki will
adopt his most earnest expression and stress Zimbabwe's "positive" electoral
reforms. These changes are worth detailing because they represent the sum
total of what Mr Mbeki has achieved with his policy of "engaging" with
Zimbabwe. They amount to the following:
. The MDC has been given 12
minutes on state television to present its manifesto, a privilege it has
never previously been granted. The launch of the opposition's campaign on
February 20 was given four minutes of coverage on the main evening news.
(This was followed by a two-hour interview with Mugabe, and four hours of
saturation coverage of Zanu-PF's first rally.)
. Mugabe has created an
"independent" election commission. (This partisan body was chosen by a
parliamentary committee stuffed with the regime's loyal MPs.)
Zimbabwe's polling booths will have transparent ballot boxes as a safeguard
against stuffing. (Mugabe's thugs are already telling frightened villagers
that their votes will not be secret because anyone can look inside and
discover if they back the MDC.)
That's your lot when it comes to
electoral reform, Mugabe-style. It says much for the macabre absurdity of
elections in Mugabe's crumbling domain that some Zimbabweans are giving
thanks simply because the present campaign has seen no grisly murders so
To Mr Mbeki, these cosmetic adjustments are enough. He believes they
satisfy a protocol signed by all southern African countries last year,
guaranteeing "freedom of association", "political tolerance" and even "equal
opportunities for all parties to access the state media".
We know all
this because Mr Mbeki has already laid his cards on the table. Instead of
placing pressure on Mugabe, the craven apologist has declared the contest
beyond reproach before the casting of a single vote. Earlier this month, Mr
Mbeki said: "I have no reason to think that anybody in Zimbabwe will act in
a way that will militate against the elections being free and
With those words, Mr Mbeki threw away any bargaining power he
may have had with the Harare regime. Why should Mugabe try any real reforms
when he is already clutching Mr Mbeki's certificate of a free
Mr Mbeki's indulgence of Mugabe then led him to overlook a
delegation from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) - part
of his ruling coalition - being twice turfed out of Zimbabwe.
first occasion, the trade unionists were arrested in Harare, manhandled by
police and flung on to a bus that dumped them at the border. Mr Mbeki's
response was to tick off Cosatu for having had the temerity to visit
Zimbabwe in the first place. The trade unionists' second visit saw them
picked up at Harare airport and placed on the next flight home. Their crime
was to have sought to meet their counterparts from Zimbabwe's trade union
movement, which is allied with the MDC. Their deportation brought only
silence from Mr Mbeki.
A fortnight ago, Zimbabwe announced that
election observers from a "parliamentary forum" in southern Africa would not
be allowed to cover the polls. This group was guilty of being the only
African observers who ruled against Mugabe's stolen victory in the
presidential election of 2002. Instead of protesting, Mr Mbeki's government
ruled that this "parliamentary forum" had "no legal standing". This group of
respected MPs from across southern Africa was, apparently, nothing more than
a bunch of impostors.
From this depressing litany, Mugabe will have drawn
only one conclusion. He can do whatever he likes and South Africa will
always support him. No matter how great or embarrassing the excesses, the
urbane Mr Mbeki will put the best possible gloss on them.
Africa is the crucial artery for Zimbabwe's electricity and fuel. Mr Mbeki
could, if he chose, place pressure on Mugabe of a kind that no other world
leader could match. Nothing could be clearer than that Mr Mbeki will never
use these levers against the Harare regime.
South Africa boasts a
constitution filled with ringing phrases about tolerance and democracy, a
document that, it is often claimed, is the most liberal in the world. Yet
while its neighbour tramples on every one of these ideals, the principal
beneficiary of Mr Mbeki's relentless, dogmatic tolerance, is Mugabe
By Abraham McLaughlin |
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
HARARE, ZIMBABWE - In
the past four months, spontaneous democratic movements have transformed
Ukraine and Lebanon. In South Africa, the masses overthrew decades of
autocracy when the racist apartheid regime fell in 1994. But here
in Zimbabwe, one of six countries the US calls "outposts of tyranny," there
has been no people-powered revolution. Many ask why the democratic wave that
has swept Africa since the cold war's end - bringing multiparty voting to
Zambia, Ghana, and other nations - has bypassed Zimbabwe, once seen as a
shining light of the continent.
Instead, things here are getting
worse. Zimbabwe's once-vibrant economy is collapsing under semi-socialism -
with at least 127 percent inflation, 70 percent unemployment, and 4.8
million people verging on starvation. Its government tortures critics, gags
the media, and uses food to gain support. Experts expect another flawed
election March 31.
Yet, so far, there's been no revolt. Observers
cite several reasons. President Robert Mugabe is still revered as
colonial-era liberator despite his brutality. And the opposition hasn't
unified behind a figure akin to Nelson Mandela or Ukraine's Viktor
"There's been no spontaneous combustion" - despite
several sparks that could have ignited it, says Chris Maroleng, a Zimbabwe
expert at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South
He's referring to the relatively strong political
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In 2000, it won
57 seats in the 150-seat parliament - and will try to expand on its minority
in next week's elections. In 2003, for instance, the MDC organized
stay-at-home strikes in its "final push" to oust the government. The
government beat demonstrators and jailed MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. But
people didn't rise up.
Some analysts attribute the lack of response
to poverty and AIDS. "When people are starving, it's awfully hard to promote
democracy," says Robert Helvey, president of the Albert Einstein Institution
in Boston, who has worked recently in Zimbabwe. Some 4.8 million of the
country's 12 million people urgently need food aid or they could starve,
according to a recent report by the Famine Early Warning System Network,
based in South Africa. Referring to Ukraine's Orange Revolution, Mr. Helvey
says, "You can't have 1 million people sitting in the streets of the capital
for 17 days. There's not going to be food for them."
there's AIDS. In 2002, the official HIV infection rate was 27 percent, one
of the world's highest. And it's thought to have gone up since then. "Who's
got the energy to protest?" asks Mr. Helvey.
One Harare activist,
who declined to be named, cites Zimbabweans' "amazing passivity." He
explains that two policemen could pull up to a dissident's house in an
urban, anti-government area, beat the person badly, and drive away
unhassled. "In South Africa in the 1980s, police could never do that," he
says with exasperation. "They were terrified of the townships, because
they'd get stoned or mobbed."
Another reason may be Zimbabweans'
lingering sympathy for their octogenarian president, Robert Mugabe. He
fought the white colonial government to achieve independence in 1980 - and
has been the country's only leader since. For two decades he led a
relatively peaceful nation that was southern Africa's breadbasket and a
regional economic powerhouse. "It's like he's your father," says Mr.
Maroleng. "He may do bad things, but he's still your father."
Maroleng also worries that southern Africa's black leaders and intellectuals
have been slow to criticize a black peer like Mugabe. Compared to the
clarity of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, many people haven't
seen it as "quite as black and white - no pun intended," he says.
Even Mugabe's harshest critic, Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncumbe allows,
"There's still a love-hate relationship" between the masses and Mugabe.
"People are confused."
Many also give Mugabe credit for shrewdness.
Despite a comfort with brutality - including the apparent killing of
thousands of opponents in the 1980s - Mugabe hasn't recently provided the
opposition with a rallying point, as did Syria with its apparent
assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Instead, Mugabe has hobbled Mr. Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, with
treason trials and other harassments. "If he had imprisoned him, you'd have
another Mandela," says Maroleng. "If he'd killed him you'd have a martyr" -
Because of Mugabe's cunning, he says, Zimbabwe has
Nor does it have a figure like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a
unifying moral force in the anti-apartheid struggle. Zimbabwe's churches are
divided, as is civil society and the political opposition.
Archbishop Ncumbe is perhaps the closest thing to a Zimbabwean Tutu. Posters
of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi adorn his office walls in Bulawayo. He
rails at the regime's tricks. "Did you know there are 800,000 dead people on
the voters' roll?" he asks.
But in the capital, even anti-Mugabe
clergymen criticize Ncumbe. "He represents a bitter minority" in his home
area, says Methodist Bishop Levee Kadenge. "He can't speak for all of
But unity may yet emerge. Many churches have joined a campaign
to "Raise the flag of Zimbabwe in prayer." It's a nationalistic approach
that insulates churches from government criticism that they are agents of
With economic frustration rising, some say a
blatantly rigged election could bring people into the streets. "If they
steal it this time, people will say, 'Enough, enough!' " says Casmere, who
works at a Harare rental-car firm.
SA observer mission apologises to MDC March 22 2005 at
By Moshoeshoe Monare
The South African
government observer mission in Harare has taken advantage of Labour Minister
Membathisi Mdladlana's absence and apologised to Zimbabwe's main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.
A delegation, led by former Limpopo
premier and MP Ngoako Ramatlhodi, told the MDC that Mdladlana's views did
not necessarily represent those of the entire mission.
comes after Mdladlana's statements in Harare last week triggered a row over
the team's ability to make an impartial finding on whether the election
would be free and fair.
The MDC vowed not to co-operate with the
team, but after Monday's meeting, it accepted the observer mission's
Sources told Independent Newspapers on Monday night that
there had been tension between Ramatlhodi, Safety and Security Deputy
Minister Susan Shabangu and most of the members on one side, and Mdladlana
on the other.
"Ramatlhodi and Shabangu made it clear
that Mdladlana was not speaking on their behalf and that the minister was
not co-operating with them."
Mdladlana, according to the source,
has tried to issue a statement from Geneva, Switzerland - where he is
attending an International Labour Organisation conference - to say he would
meet MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"He wanted the team to ignore
the MDC leadership below Tsvangirai, and he is doing this from Geneva.
Ramatlhodi went ahead and met with (MDC secretary-general) Welshman Ncube,"
said the source.
'I can't say more than the statement that
was sent to you' Ramatlhodi's team even told the MDC that Mdladlana was
away in Geneva and that he was not going to be involved in the mission as he
was expected to return only next week.
"It appears to me that
Ramatlhodi took advantage of Mdladlana's absence in order to set the record
straight with Ncube," said the source.
Ramatlhodi and Mdladlana
could not be reached for comment.
"The South African observer
mission regrets the misunderstandings that arose and recommits itself to
neutrality and impartiality without any interference with the electoral
process. In this regard, the observer mission further commits itself to
fulfilling its mandate without fear or favour," the mission said in a
"The commitment is applicable to all parties including
independent candidates contesting the forthcoming elections. The mission is
determined to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe exercise their right to
choose their leadership without hindrance," it added.
Misihairambwi, the MDC spokesperson on international relations, confirmed
that the party had accepted the observer mission's explanation.
"I can't say more than the statement that was sent to you. We have agreed
that they will issue a statement," said isihairambwi.
This article was originally published on page 7 of The Star on March 22,
Zimbabwe polls pose challenge to Africa's
Zimbabwe's elections pose serious challenges
for Africa's media, faced with reporting a story which splits African public
and political opinion in a country with a history of media
Media analysts say many African media companies will
simply not have the cash to send teams to cover the March 31 parliamentary
polls, while others may not get accreditation under the government's strict
With barely a dozen resident journalists working for
foreign media companies, Zimbabwe's foreign press corps is set to balloon in
the run-up to the vote, with more than 300 applications for accreditation,
For those who get it, objective reporting could be
President Robert Mugabe's administration has waged a long
campaign against foreign and particularly Western media as well as
independent newspapers at home, some of which have closed.
Mugabe frequently describes foreign journalists as tools of western powers
bent on punishing him for seizing white-owned farms to give to landless
blacks, casting himself as an unbowed champion of Africa's liberation
Harare will not want to be seen harassing foreign
reporters during polls, but they may have problems, said Luckson Chipare,
regional director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa.
"They could be targeted by war veterans ... and there is no recourse to the
police. The police just look the other way," Chipare said, referring to
pro-Mugabe independence war veterans who have targeted opposition activists
in previous elections.
Former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
was the villain of the piece for many reporters who fell foul of Zimbabwe's
media restrictions until he fell out dramatically with Mugabe over his
succession and was sacked.
Jacob Ntshangase of the Institute for
the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg cautioned reporters,
especially those from fellow Southern African Development Community (SADC)
countries, against using coverage of the polls to settle
Some private newspapers in Sadc member states have
denounced the organisation for failing to speak out against
"Our media in Sadc needs to go the extra mile to verify
stories on Zimbabwe. The journalists in Zimbabwe seem to be fed up with the
situation. There is a danger (that it can become) a propaganda thing,"
Ntshangase said. - Reuters
Tesco's - the end of the road? - John Hickson - Tesco's - Andy Nimmo - The
Mystery of South Africa's Position on Zimbabwe - Eddie Cross - Writing on the
Wall - John Kinnaird - RE: Jamming of SW Radio Africa - Anne Cockroft -
Mugabe on TV - Homesick African - RE: Peter Bellingham - Help on Beryl
Hulbert - Tish Wrigley - RE: TESCO'S - telling the truth? - Mike
Ashely-Cooper - RE: TESCO'S and snow pea fiasco - Mike
1: Tesco's - the end of the road?, received 20.3.2005
Further to my long-running correspondence with
Tesco the next e mail from their Customer Service Department arrived on 11
March. It reads as follows:
----- Original Message ----- From:
TESCOS'S To: John Hickson
Thank you for your email.
apologise for the delay in responding to your query.
Thank you for
contacting us again regarding our position with the current situation in
Zimbabwe. I can fully appreciate your views.
As a company, we source
products only from approved farms which comply with our stringent standards.
None of the farms that supply Tesco, have undergone a change of
We will only maintain contact with the current supply base
under the present owners, with whom we have developed good business
relationships over the past few years.
We are committed to sourcing
product from Zimbabwe, as significant investments, with Tesco in mind, have
been made over the past 10 years.
----- Original Message
----- From: John Hickson To: TESCOS'S
Thank you for your letter of Friday March 11.
But I really
don't seem to be getting through to you. No, I'm afraid that you have not
addressed my concerns. You make no reference to the statement I have
suggested. You do not disassociate Tescos from some extraordinary remarks
made earlier on your behalf. You continue to choose to avoid or ignore my
questions this despite the fact that, as far as I can, see growing crops
anywhere should not be a matter shrouded in secrecy. Your answers, such as
they, are serve only to suggest that you have something to hide. Either your
customer services department is betting the bank on my losing interest and
just going away or is, for its own perverse reasons, determined to provoke
concern and suspicion. Please, now, have the courtesy to offer me a
substantive and honest reply. Indeed it now seems to be in order to ask you
to be good enough to provide a complete list of all the products you source
from Zimbabwe and to describe the conditions under which they are produced.
Or is that secret too?
And do please be good enough to spare me the PR
platitudes. I am not writing to complain about a packet of
On 17 March I
received what must be Tesco's final word. It reads:
Message ----- From: TESCOS'S To: John Hickson
Thank you for your
This issue has already been addressed by one of my colleagues
and unfortunately, I can add nothing further to that reply.
It may be that the Tesco
Customer Service Department is simply not equipped to deal with inquiries of
this kind. Certainly it has displayed an intriguing incoherence. That is one
charitable view. It may be that their operations in Zimbabwe are as clean as
anyone could reasonably expect but that they, all the same, cannot be
bothered to deal with the irritating questions of a distant dispossessed
Zimbabwean. That is another charitable view.,
It could be that they
calculate that even the revelation of inappropriate links to ZANU PF would
not have a sufficiently damaging effect upon their UK sales for them to worry
much. That is, perhaps, a more realistic view. It has seemed curious
throughout this correspondence that Tesco has acted, after its initial
blunder, to release as little information as is possible. They really do seem
to have something to hide. Does anyone know what it is? Perhaps others might
like to write to Tesco at firstname.lastname@example.org and
see how they get on.
I will be collating the Tesco correspondence and
sending it elsewhere to try to gain it a wider readership. Others may care
to do the same. .
recently read a letter on a Zimbabwe Situation website from a reader who had
written to TESCO supermarkets UK requesting a statement asserting that they
do not deal with illegally occupied farms in Zimbabwe. They replied in an
ambiguous terms which raised suspicions. I wrote to them on my own behalf
seeking clarification and received an equally non-committal and ambiguous
response. I would hate to jeopardize the trade between legitimate growers and
TESCO and hence would ask if JAG is aware of any legitimate growers dealing
A group of ex Zimbabweans living in the UK are prepared to
circulate messages on the e-mail calling for a boycott of TESCO if they are
proved to be dealing with illegal occupiers of farms. I have already had
Zimbabwean mange tout peas withdrawn from shelves in our local Sainsbury's
after querying whether they were bought from legitimate owners of
farms. Sainsbury's did not answer my query but merely pulled the
If you do not have access to this sort of information could you
give me a contact e-mail address for the CFU?
3: The Mystery of South Africa's Position, received 19.3.2005
It is now very apparent to anyone with half a brain
that all is not well in South Africa when it comes to handling the Zimbabwe
crisis. Here we have a situation where by every measure, the Zanu PF led
government has failed - the economy is in tatters, half our population needs
food aid, the quality of life for the majority has deteriorated to the point
where nearly half the adult population has decamped. Almost all basic human
and political rights are being abused and worse on a daily basis. And the
regime has lost its legitimacy because of a well-known and clearly exposed
record of electoral fraud and abuse.
Yet, the leadership in South
Africa and many of its apologists insist on maintaining the position that
things are "improving" and that a "free and fair election" is still possible.
It's not out of ignorance. Its not because they simply want to be perverse.
What then is the reason - the real reason for this ridiculous
We in the MDC have tried everything - we have tried to be
charitable - "they do not know what is going on"; we have tried the
diplomatic route "lets talk about these things - then they will understand".
We have tried "quiet diplomacy" and just about every other strategy you can
name - with little or no effect.
I have pondered this situation long
and hard and feel that we are missing something. The first order of business
is to stay in business - politics is no different. Thabo Mbeki has only one
real objective and that is to maintain the ANC as the dominant political
force in South Africa until he can retire and go off and do other things.
Everything else is subordinate to that goal.
If that is the case then
what threats exist which might explain his attitude to Zimbabwe? Its not
history or relationships - Mbeki and Mugabe are not soul mates and Zanu PF
did not support the ANC during their long struggle against apartheid in South
Africa. If anything the two parties have a long time animosity towards each
other. So why the huddle behind the laager?
It can only be because
Mbeki fears some aspect of the political evolution of events in South Africa
and is doing all that he can - within the constraints of his global role and
the situation in South Africa itself, to subvert the process of change in
Zimbabwe. Its not that he simply wants to be kingmaker - although that might
explain some of the motivation. It is something more.
I think it is
because the MDC is a by product of the trade union movement in Zimbabwe and
above all, Mbeki fears the fallout of an MDC victory in South Africa itself.
Although we always knew it, we never fully appreciated the fact that the ANC
is really an amalgam of three political institutions - the ANC itself, COSATU
and the South African Communist Party. What we also never fully appreciated
was that while the ANC drew its intellectual and other strengths from within,
its real political muscle was drawn from the SACP and COSATU. In fact in this
political game COSATU is the senior figure with its 2 million members and
Now that the struggle against apartheid is over,
the unifying forces that this brought to the ANC alliance, have gone and in
their place are the normal political forces of policy and programmes that
political parties everywhere have to contend with. The ANC is in power and
with this has come new wealth and privilege. As a consequence many ANC
figures and persons connected to the ANC have suddenly found themselves part
of the "Sandton set" and the beneficiaries of wealth and privilege that they
only imagined in the days of the struggle.
Not so for the poor working
class in South Africa from which the membership of the SACP and COSATU are
drawn. They are, if anything more marginalized and feel left out of the new
South Africa. For them little seems to have changed and they are becoming
restless. The tripartite alliance is under strain.
COSATU has gone so
far as to visit Brazil to see for itself what a "Workers Party" can do in a
developing country. They were impressed and even came home with a draft
constitution. This is blowing a chill wind under the South African Presidents
chair. As the ANC moves to the right in the South African context, this
tension can only increase.
Mbeki knows this and he fears that an MDC
victory, followed by the formation of a government, which restores our
economy and our rights as a people and then goes on to be a real success in
social and political terms, would have serious implications for the ANC
itself. I think he is right and that our needs as a country are being
subordinated to these perceived South African (ANC) interests.
have had all the different games being played by the South African government
here - first the support for Simba Makoni as the Prince Charming - that fell
apart because he had no constituency in Zanu PF itself. Then the whole fiasco
with Munangagwa as Prince Charming. This falling apart when they tried to go
too fast for the "veterans of the war" in the Zanu PF administration. Had
Mugabe gone along with Mbeki in this exercise he would have made things very
difficult for the MDC and might even have attracted some of the less
principled members of the international community to his side.
is Mugabe slapped him in the face, his heir apparent tossed aside and his spy
ring inside Zanu PF was wiped out. MDC now faces a Zanu PF led regime,
without its sharpest minds at the center of things and with an aging and less
and less able coterie of politicians in control. It is a testimony to the
strength of Mbeki's fear of the forces at work in the ANC/COSATU/SACP
alliance that despite all this, he still holds onto his indefensible position
This is a very dangerous game for South Africa. Mbeki
is sacrificing serious political capital in his pursuit of this goal. He is
in fact sacrificing economic growth in South Africa and much of the promise
of NEPAD on this regional spat. In doing so he is in fact strengthening
the very forces he fears in South Africa itself and perhaps hastening the
day when a new democratic movement on the left will emerge to challenge the
ANC for supremacy in South Africa. It took 20 years in Zimbabwe; it will
take less time in South Africa.
4: The Witing on the Wall, received 19.3.2005
I am amazed with the operating farmers of
Zimbabwe and of this area in particular. The election is less than 2 weeks
away and you cannot or do not want to see what is right before your
There was an MDC rally in Chegutu last week, and none of you sent
your tractors, lorries or gave your workers time off to attend the
The stadium was packed to overflowing, there were great scenes of
happiness and determination to get rid of the present regime.
following day ZANU-PF had a rally at the same premises, schools were closed
and chldren forced to attend, all of you sent tractors and lorries and were
instructed to take all your labourforce there, and to pick up anyone seen on
the road and take them to the rally.
The stadium was still only half
full. The ZANU-PF leaders are starting to panic. I believe that Webster is
starting to say that they want 1000 white farmers back on to the
This is the person who still has not paid for the equipment that
he "borrowed" and compels some amongst you to go and plough and plant
his fields for him. Edna is another one, she has wrecked about 4 farms, 2
of them daries, that I know about, and we are now importing milk.
these are the people who want to put white farmers back on the land?????
Perhaps it has come to the stage that the white farmers that are still there
are the only supporters that they have in their constituencies.
certainly is no support amongst the black electorate. There will come a stage
when your pandering and support for a failed regime becomes a large part of
You may be seen by the people of this country (who are
desparate for change like the rest of us) as being one of the main obstacles
to change. If you do want change, then suggest that you get off your
backsides and make an effort to assist to bring about change.
any of you have even taken the risk of putting your hand in your pocket (as
terrifying as that may appear to be) and giving money to the party whose
brave candidates who are possibly putting their lives on the line and
standing for parliament.
In the end we would all stand to benefit but if
you are seen to be an opponent of the new regime you will become viewed with
I ask you once again to dig deep and let us all stand together
with the people of Zimbabwe and get rid of ZANU-PF once and for all. Change
may not come about this election, but as sure as the sun is going to rise in
the morning, there will be change and you do not want to be caught
sitting either on the fence or on the wrong side.
5: RE: Jamming of SW Radio Africa, recieved 18.3.2005
I note with interest the letter from Gerry
Jackson, SW Radio Africa's Station manager concerning the jamming of the
station. I am an avid listener of this station and have been since its
inception, and am somewhat puzzled by the lack of publicity the jamming has
received. I am even more puzzled to note that no comment has been made by
the MDC on the jamming.
Am I one of the few that view the jamming as yet
another infringement of our human rights and a further blow to press
Did anyone watch the programme on Robert Mugabe this evening? We
live in the UK now, but still have family living n Zimbabwe & it is
terrible what rubbish people over here believe about what is happening &
has happened in Zimbabwe. This programme was just full of inconsistencies.
They had the Zim representative to the UN proudly lauding Bob & his
many accomplishments. Andrew Meldrum was up there with him, also going on
about what a good guy Bob is. Hullo, is that the same person who got kicked
out of Zim, by orders of none other than his bosom buddy Bob Gabriel
I couldn't believe some of the fairy stories included in that
programme. They had a bunch of African Americans (FRIENDS OF ZIMBABWE) who
obviously still think that the idealism that existed in 1980 still exists in
the hearts of the average Zimbabwean of African ethnic origin, but anyone
with half a brain cell can see that isn't so.
Even living in the UK
you hear about what is going on out there & it is such a huge tragedy.
This business of the colonial forefathers of the white farmers stealing the
land is such codswallop. We all know the Govt & things like TTL's &
National Parks accounted for approx 70% of all land in Zim & through
careful management & hard work on the part of commercial farmers the
remaining land was producing enough to keep the economy afloat. Not all of
them were white either.
My brother was one of those farmers & I know
firsthand how hard people like him worked & what sort of input they made
into improving the standard of living & education of their workers. He
started a school for the children of his workers, built by bricks produced on
his farm, sorted out a clinic & put in brick housing for them, & he
wasn't exactly the only person in the community or country to be doing
exactly the same thing. It wasn't Bob, it was those vilified white farmers,
though no-one thinks to mention that on national or international
I know it isn't politically correct to say that a "black"
person can be stuffing things up, in Africa nogal, but he is doing a
wonderful job of it & surely the fact the the trade unions in South
Africa & Nigeria are opposing this land reform programme of his says
All those people who have died since Bob got his ass kicked
in that referendum surely didn't die for nothing? Or those poor people who
were slaughtered in Matabeleland in the 1980's. As a kid growing up during
the 1970's & the tail end of the Liberation Struggle, I can remember
the climate of fear we lived in. Actually, the early 1980's were probably
more scary than the war years 'cos then the police were no longer quite
what they seemed to be, just like they are now. I noticed there wasn't an
awful lot about the Green Bombers in this programme about Uncle Bob, but
they should've had a mention, seeing as they almost single-handedly kept
him secure when all else failed. Even his beloved Prof Jonathan Moyo
is turning around & telling a few home-truths, whatever his motivation to
Ag, I give up sometimes. We try & tell people what the
real story is, but when you have rubbish like this being aired on tv it is a
long & difficult struggle. Here is the address I found online for these
codswallop merchants in America who persist in believing Bob is wonderful
Friends of Zimbabwe 456 Nostrand Ave Brooklyn NY11216 phone
7183981766 fax 7186231855 Maybe some re-education & sending them some
salient facts as to the current events in Zimbabwe would be a good
7: RE: Peter Bellingham - Help on Beryl Hulbert, received 17.3.2005
RE: Peter Bellingham - Help on Beryl Hulbert
Please could you advise me of Beryl Hulbert's email address as
Andrew Fuller was our neighbour and I am also in contact with his close
circle of friends who would love to regale her with tales of his
wonderfully eccentric and colourful life during the last few years but are
unable to afford the exorbitant postage to the UK.
8: RE: TESCO'S - telling the truth? received 19.3.2005
----- Original Message ----- From: Myke
Ashley-Cooper To: Tesco Customer Service Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2005
8:14 AM Subject: Re: TES525893X Re: re:TES368194X.
To ensure that you
are telling the truth, from which farms do you source and in what period/s
have there been no change in ownership?
This email, like previous ones
from me, has been blind copied to many people in Zimbabwe as you never reveal
any information that can be checked on and continue to deal, we are
absolutely sure, with the illegitimate Zanupf regime!
Message ----- From: Tesco Customer Service To: Myke Ashley-Cooper Sent:
Friday, March 18, 2005 11:03 PM Subject: TES525893X Re:
Thank you for your email.
company, we source products only from approved farms, which comply with our
stringent standards. None of the farms that supply Tesco, have undergone a
change of ownership.
We will continue to maintain contact with the
current supply base under the present owners, with whom we have developed
good business relationships over the past few years.
We are committed
to sourcing product from Zimbabwe, as significant investments, with Tesco in
mind, have been made over the past 10 years.
I have been advised that there was
some fiasco about yourselves and snow peas - when a farm in Nyanga was
seized, and the entire crop of snow peas (many tonnes) was sold to Tesco by
the new 'owner', who reaped what he did not sow, completing the original
contract to his own advantage. This episode dates back to the early days of
the land grab somewhere round 2000-2001. There was quite a fuss about it
then, but the problem fortuitously 'disappeared'.
JAG Hotlines: +263 (011) 205 374 If you are in trouble or
need advice, please don't hesitate to
contact us - we're here to help! +263
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